On and Against the Embassy

I don’t watch the news. I don’t, for the most part, read it either. It is the space between Life (everyday life, the “immediacy” of life itself, the things-themselves) and Current Events (the news) that strikes me whenever I turn on the TV (I am twenty years behind). Somewhere, far away, a law has passed or a volcano erupted or a car crashed and this hasn’t a thing to do with me. When I do watch the news and try to talk to someone about it, they give the same account of this experience. So, I would posit, this has to be real. It is something genuinely felt by the people I know, and it seems to be likewise felt by people in other places too. It is a moment in the totality. But there’s something missed if we stop at this.
On Monday, the US moved its embassy in Israel (and over millions of people) to Jerusalem. This move represents another act of violence in a long chain of such acts against the Palestinians, who, having been dispossessed of their lands, have been, since at least the thirties (C.f. this essay on the topic of Fascoid groups attacking Palestinians, written by the Council Communist Walter Auerbach), have been without even the most formalistic of rights in their homeland. In response, Palestinians took to the streets in protest. Whether these protests were violent or not matters not a bit to the Israeli state (nor to communists, who don’t moralize about such things), which killed 63+ of these Palestinians and injured many others. Because nobody who died was just a statistic, it’s worth having their names.
“The News” doesn’t happen on another planet, with fundamentally different social relations, in a sector of the grand void of space we’ve never seen. It would be a mistake to believe that we are separate from the deaths of 63+ struggling proletarians. The same principle at work in the IDF’s actions exist at every place in the totality: striking teachers attacked by pinkertons, black people gunned down by police in the streets, women jailed for having abortions, indigenous people murdered by oil company mercenaries, etc. You understand the principle. All of these are, perversely, Current Events, something separate from bills and work when we have the TV running in the break room or the radio going in the kitchen. But breaking with the thingness, the objectivity, of these instances reveals that our fate, as proles, and as humans (or as the Multitude, or as Bodies, or whatever your preferred term) is intimately tied up with these moments.
The awareness of both facts brings us, theoretically, to something those protesting Palestinians grasped in practice: that the objectivity of the world situation (of “the world today”, of Current Events as such) can only be overcome in struggle, and that none of these struggles is an island. I like how Joshua Clover put it.
Postscriptum
Because I presume that the only people who read this will be people who know me and my politics (for lack of a better word), I imagine that a general response will be given by folks also influenced by the Communist and Ultra Lefts: Do you therefore believe in a “good” nationalism now, Avi?
This is, I think, an overly binary approach to proletarian struggles, wherein the mere appearance of a national flag (not to suggest that there is even a formal body that could be called a state in the case of the Palestinians) is enough to disown a struggle. In every major historical clash between the classes, the camp of the proletariat was divided and contradictory in its demands and manifestations. Thus, the Paris Commune had its fair share of Blanquists, Proudhonians, and Fourierists. The October Revolution involved trade-unionists, populists, and even spawned a pro-Soviet White Russian expat journal. I’m not doing all of the major 20th Century revolutions just to prove the point, which should be clear, that every step of the class struggle is contradictory and composed of a multitude of elements. It is absurd to point to an element of the Palestinian protests – the presence of Palestinian flags and, presumably, of those seeking to one day have a Palestinian state – and to write them off as simple natlib actions, with no meaning for “the real movement” (I’m iffy about the throwing around of this phrase).
What we saw on Monday was a protest against the violence of a capitalist state, against the treatment of a whole 5 million+ people as mere surplus humanity, against – dare I say it? – the current state of affairs.
Postpostscriptum for a sub-sub-librarian
For those who weren’t brought up (badly) on discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian situation (how euphemistic that phrase!), I have two good articles on the history:
1. From Sinistra, covering up to the 70s
2. From Aufheben, covering up to 2001
These are both excellent, with the first reading Palestinian history through the “blood and dirt” (Marx) of ongoing primitive accumulation, and with the second looking more deeply at the Israeli state’s undermining of solidarity between Jewish, Arab, and Druze workers. This latter point goes a ways towards explaining why even the mass tent protests in 2011ish (I was in Jerusalem for them), which sought to combat the increased cost of living in Israel proper (sic), never overcame a broad support for the Israeli state and an opposition to “leftist infiltrators” (Israeli/Palestinian anarchists and communists who pushed for a critique of, and struggle against, the Israeli state and the Occupation).
In any case, I imagine this post is shorter than it looked on my phone, for which I apologize.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s