15. Settler Colonialism
The question of settler colonialists is not a new question. The second British Boer war over South Africa natural resources took place at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century (1899-1902). The British socialists at that time supported the Boers against British imperialism. It was correct to oppose British imperialism but was it correct to support the Boer settlers? It would be correct if the Boer allied themselves with the native Africans, in particular the Zulu, as happened in Latin America. The Boer however did not have any interest in such an alliance. Thus, while a defeat for the British was in the interest of the working class, supporting the Boers was not.
Lenin and the Third International during his life did not deal with one aspect of the national question which is settler colonialism. This can be explained by the experience of settler colonialists who joined with the native people against the domination of the colonialist power in the 18th and the 19th century and with the positions taken by the early Communist parties in the US, South Africa and Palestine, that were formed by white radicals influenced by the Bolshevik revolution.
“The historian Edward Johanningsmeier wrote that CPSA's was involved with the 'Rand Revolt' of 1922, a large strike by white miners against the mining corporations attempts to reduce wages and place blacks in semi-skilled mining jobs. They believed that the white working class would move to the left in its conflicts with the capitalists. David Ivon Jones, believed that the revolution in South Africa would be led by white, skilled workers. Thus, the supported a strike in which the banner 'Workers of the World Fight and Unite for a White South Africa' was prominently displayed. However, this view was based on a misunderstanding of the class position of the white workers. Racial segregation in the work process put white workers in the position of direct supervisors or even contractors of black labor. A few communists pleaded for racial solidarity during the strike, but violence against blacks escalated during the strike. Because of its close relations with the strike and its leadership, the CPSA lost some of the prestige it had gained among black organizations. David I. Jones, writing from Moscow to his comrades in South Africa, claimed that the Rand Revolt might mark the beginning of the socialist revolution. W. H. Andrews, a radical unionist who had been elected first chair of the South African Labour Party in 1909, resigned as secretary of the CP in 1925 because of its decision against affiliating with the South African Labour Party. He remained in the CP, but his main sphere of activity continued to be in the leadership of the established white trade union movement. In 1924,, Sidney Bunting and Edward Roux, were elected chair and vice-chair of the South African party, respectively, and the Communist Party began a serious effort to recruit blacks. This change in orientation resulted in the recruitment of a number of African leaders and organizers, including Thomas Mbeki, Edwin Mofutsanyana, Edward Khaile, John Gomas, James La Guma, J. B. Marks, Albert Nzula and Moses Kotane.
In the USA in 1919, a small number of black nationalists, socialists and radicals came together in a secret revolutionary organization mainly in Harlem called the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB). The ABB was founded by Cyril Briggs, a West Indian intellectual, and the most influential of the earliest black communists in the US who were born in the West Indies included Briggs, Richard B. Moore, Wifred A. Domingo and Claude McKay. At the Fourth Congress in 1922, the Comintern declared that 'the world Negro movement' should be organized with America as 'the center of Negro culture and the crystallization of Negro protest' and Africa as the 'reservoir of human labor for the further development of Capitalism'. Because of the rhetorical importance placed by the Comintern on the potential revolutionary role of African Americans, in the 1920s black communists were encouraged to travel to Moscow for ideological training, The Comintern endorsed the ABB idea that 'the Negro workers of the [US] are an especially exploited class’. In 1915 m his study of agriculture in the United States, Lenin took up the question of Black oppression. In early 1917 in an article on the national question inside the advanced capitalist countries Lenin says that Blacks, “should be classed as an oppressed nation.” 
“John Reed, a white American delegate at the Second Congress deprecated nationalist or separatist sentiments among African Americans in his speech before the committee. He minimized the influence of the Garvey movement, and argued that most blacks at the time 'consider themselves first of all Americans’. The policy of 'Negro self-determination in the black belt', emerged out of the Sixth Comintern Congress in 1928.
The 'self-determination in the black belt' thesis was linked in the same resolutions to a call for a black nation, or 'native republic', in South Africa. As in the CPUSA the South African CP endorsed the idea that black liberation had to be framed in terms of state independence and self-determination was vehemently opposed by a majority of the communist leadership. However the new thesis seemed validated by the depth and intensity of white racism in South Africa in the early years of the Depression. A period of sharply escalated oppression of blacks began in 1929, following the re-election of the now more electorally-secure Nationalist Party. The Afrikaner general, J. B. M. Hertzog, won the election on the Nationalists' platform of a 'Black Menace' and after the election his government vigorously pursued a policy of replacing Africans in certain jobs with unemployed.” 
The demands of native (black) South Africans was dropped in 1948 at the same time that the Stalinists supported the creation of Israel.
The historian Amir Locker-Biletzki wrote: “In all his theorizing, however, Lenin did not account for the establishment of settler colonial societies whose logic of capital and labor at times went beyond the logic of market and surplus value. His portrayal of monopoly capitalism left out the reaction of the colonial peoples. Yet this theorizing became the ideological bedrock on which Communist parties in the non-European world, including the Communists in Palestine/Israel based their ideology on. While Palestinian and Jewish Communists both adhered to the ideological concepts formalized by Lenin, there is undoubtedly a difference in their understanding of them. The rhetorical convergence around imperialism enabled the Jewish Communists to perceive the settlers as fighting against imperialism. The Palestinian Communists, on the other hand, were aware of the settler-colonial reality of what was happening in Palestine and understood it as imperialism, or more accurately as settler imperialism. […] the inability of Communism in Palestine to comprehend and represent Palestinian national agency originated from the shared background of many Jewish Communists in Palestine, whose Zionist roots gave rise to an interpretation of Zionism that did not completely negate the Yishuv (i.e. settler colonialism). As for the Arab Palestinian Communists, they remained attached to Leninist anti-imperialism because it allowed them to express their nationalism in what they perceived to be a modern radical way. Thus, both Palestinian and Jewish Communists paradoxically had strong motivations to hold on to an ideology that separated the Yishuv and its Zionist content. 
“In the main lecture marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the CP, Meir Vilner, at the time the secretary-general of Rakah (New Communist List), recounted the history of Communism in Palestine/Israel. The lecture was built around a theme that might be summarized as the progressive development of the Party from its Zionist origins toward a full and correct ideological appreciation of the conditions of the country: ‘After many developments, advances and setbacks, a Marxist–Leninist, Communist and Arab-Jewish party was formed in the country. As regards British rule in Palestine, Vilner approaches it as a classic military colony:
British mandatory rule in Palestine was a regular colonial rule, different only by name […] British imperialism exploited all aspects, political, agricultural and military, of the Zionist movement to implement its policies in the Middle East, in order to keep its economic positions (oil, markets) and strategic (the road to India) positions, and acted against the Arab anti-imperialist movement. Zionism, in this formulation of classic metropole colonialism, is attacked not because of its settler colonial nature, but for being a collaborator with British imperialism. Indeed, the disinheritance of the Palestinians is not ignored by Vilner. Recounting the Party’s struggle against the removal of Palestinian fellahin from their lands and their displacement from workplaces, he interprets it in anti-colonial and class terms. The analysis of the Party, then, was that the Jewish settlers themselves became colonial subjects. The resolutions of the Second Congress of the Party (1921) stated that ‘the present friendly approach of the English administration to the Jewish population is just a temporary expression of British imperial policy. With the first change in the political situation this policy will become hostile. A 1930 letter from a Comintern executive to Party members shows that this sentiment was shared by the Soviets:
The main thing in understanding this question is that Palestine is a colony of British imperialism safeguarding its rule with the help of the Jewish bourgeoisie. The Jewish national minority that is in a state of subjection in relation to British imperialism stands as a privileged minority against the Arab masses.
Apart from identifying Zionism with the Jewish middle class and imperialism, the document accepts the fact that the settler society, albeit privileged, is also subject to colonization.” 
It must be said that not only the Stalinists did not understand the nature of Zionism but so were the Trotskyists, such as the RCL led by Tony Cliff.
“The RCL was incapable of challenging the PKP influence amongst the Arab workers because it did not possess a revolutionary understanding and program for Palestine. It was blinded by a superficial understanding of the “Jewish-Arab conflict” as a confrontation between two equally reactionary nationalist camps. They failed to see the colonial settler nature of Zionism, the subsequent real national oppression of the Arabs by the Zionists and hence the justified national liberation struggle of the Arab masses against the Zionists (which was betrayed by the Arab bourgeoisie and landlords).
This programmatic failure of the Trotskyists in Palestine – which reminds us of Lenin’s polemics against “imperialist economism” – became completely evident in an article by the RCL leader Tony Cliff in November 1938. In a chapter entitled “The Jewish-Arab conflict”, Cliff wrote:
“What are the causes of this conflict? Two answers are advanced in Palestine. The Zionist groups say that the conflict is simply the collision of feudalism and reaction with the progressive forces of capitalism. The Arab nationalists and their Stalinist supporters claim that the collision is between the Arab liberation movement and Zionism.
But the first explanation is wrong because the fact of the conflict between feudalism and capitalism does not explain the Arab national movement in Palestine. There are parallel manifestations of nationalism in the adjacent countries (Syria, Egypt). Moreover it does not explain how a clique of effendis succeeded in getting control over a militant national movement of hundreds of thousands. It is clear that the basis of the antagonism of the Arab masses to the Jewish population does not arise from the fact that the latter have brought in a higher standard of living and have created a modem labour movement. Their principal opposition arises from the fact that they see in the Jewish population the bearers of Zionism, that political system based upon national exclusivism, and hostility to the aspirations of the Arab masses to independence and democratisation of the political regime.
The second view, the claim of the Arab nationalists, is likewise erroneous. It does not take into consideration that there really is a conflict between feudalism and capitalist development, secondly, that inside the nationalist movement there is an Arab bourgeoisie which in competition with the closed Jewish economy develops exclusivist Arab tendencies, and thirdly, that the Jewish population is no integral part of the imperialist camp.
What follows therefore is that the collision in the Arab-Jewish conflict is between two national exclusivist movements (between Zionism and the feudal, semi-bourgeois Arab leadership on the one hand, and on the other the struggle of the Arab masses against Zionism). The consistent struggle for the easing up of this conflict is therefore only possible on the basis of the struggle against Zionism, against Arab national exclusivism and anti-Jewish actions, against imperialism, for the democratisation of the country and its political independence.”
So we see the RCL leader adhering to an idealist, not dialectical-materialist method, which equates both Zionist and Arab nationalism or “national exclusivism” without understanding the difference between an oppressed nation and a colonial settler oppressor nation. Consequently, Cliff could not see the important difference between the nationalism of an oppressed nation and the nationalism of a colonial settler oppressor nation.” 
As far as we know, Maxime Rodinson who was a member of the French Communist Party and resigned from it in 1958 over their rotten Stalinist line on Algeria, was the first Marxist who defined Israel as settler-colonialist. He wrote in his book Israel: A Colonial-Settler State?:
“I am well aware that the designation “nationalist” for the Zionist movement often gives rise to protest on the part of Arab intellectuals. I have already come up against it. This is because in the Arab world, for reasons which are evident, the term “nationalism” has acquired a positive connotation, a sacred aureole. For the Arabs, nationalism is by definition a feeling, a passion, a duty, a praiseworthy (even admirable) movement. Zionism, being in their view something which is in its very essence bad, a perverse undertaking, cannot be nationalistic. It is a project of pure banditry, an operation planned by Satanic manipulators which sweeps along the deceived masses or individuals essentially just as evil”.
Yet his line was a reformist one and not revolutionary as he urged peaceful negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians as if it was possible in light of the nature of Israel.
These days imperialist Israel has remained the last state of colonial settlers. In the past, South Africa, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were among the settler colonialist societies. In this historical period of imperialism and the reactionary phase of globalism anyone who supports the right of self-determination of the Zionists stands against the self-determination of the oppressed Palestinians and denies the right of return of the Palestinian refugees who were expelled by Israel in 1948. One has to choose between the right of self-determination of the oppressors and the oppressed.
Unlike the Stalinists, the RCL as many of today’s centrists, Trotsky opposed the self-determination of settler colonialists. He opposed the white settler colonialists in South Africa he wrote: “The South African Republic will emerge first of all as a “black” republic; this does not exclude, of course, either full equality for the whites, or brotherly relations between the two races – depending mainly on the conduct of the whites. But it is entirely obvious that the predominant majority of the population, liberated from slavish dependence, will put a certain imprint on the state.
Insofar as a victorious revolution will radically change not only the relation between the classes, but also between the races, and will assure to the blacks that place in the state which corresponds to their numbers, insofar will the social revolution in South Africa also have a national character.
We have not the slightest reason to close our eyes to this side of the question or to diminish its significance. On the contrary, the proletarian party should in words and in deeds openly and boldly take the solution of the national (racial) problem in its hands.” 
A common argument among the centrists who support the right of self-determination of the Zionists in one or another form (two states, bi national state, a federal state) among them the right centrists of the CWI and IMT, is that to win the struggle of the Palestinians we must guarantee the right of self-determination of the Israeli working class.
They ignore the fact that the Jewish Israeli working class vote for the Likud of Netanyahu because they see him as the protector of their privileges comparing to the Palestinian workers and refugees. It is not the Israeli working class that will liberate the Palestinians but the victorious Arab revolution that will win when the Arab workers, supported by the poor peasants at the head of the masses, fighting for democratic rights, will win and establish a socialist federation of the Middle East.
The writer of this book had an argument with Mahover, the founder of Matzpen, who argued that if Israel will lose a war the Israelis will be oppressed nation and as such it will be necessary to support their right of self-determination. He was unaware of the fact that he repeated the position of the French POI during WWII.
The national question is a very important question in the struggle against imperialism and their local servants. Without a correct theory, program and revolutionary practice on this question the world socialist revolution cannot be won. In this epoch only the international working class can solve this question by using the theory and strategy of Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution.
From a Marxist revolutionary perspective, this complicated question is clear. It is the persistent defense of all aspects of the national question in the struggle against the imperialists and their servants, including in time of military conflicts. Marxists differentiate between imperialist nations and oppressed nations. Marxists support only the oppressed nations regardless of its leadership secular or religious, as long as they struggle against imperialism resp. against an oppressor state.
The tactic Marxists use in the national struggle is the Anti-Imperialist United Front. It is a tactic, not a strategy. As a strategy it will only lead to the reformist two-stage nonsense and the politics of class collaboration. While Marxists stand with the oppressed in the military conflict and can even vote for petty-bourgeois non-workers’ parties of the oppressed nation, they do not vote for bourgeois non-workers’ parties when they have a real chance to win (like Morsi in Egypt). The national question still exists in many imperialist states and Marxists used the same united front tactic in defense of the oppressed nationalities and the guest workers and refugees.
One of the essentials preconditions to take a correct position on the national question is the attitude towards Russia and China, the new Eastern imperialists. Those who claim that these are not imperialist state also take social-imperialist positions against the oppressed nations. We see it in China and in Russia, we have seen it in Syria and Egypt.
The question of Israel as a colonial settler’s society is very important because it is the front line of the imperialists in the Middle East. In many ways it is a litmus paper that tests the nature of political currents. Those who claim that in order to win the Israeli working class it is necessary to support the right of self-determination of the Zionists, are right-wing centrists, following the steps of Shachtman in the war of 1948. Such a position is similar to those who praised the Rand strike of the white workers in South Africa in 1922 who called for: “Workers of the World, Unite and Fight for a White South Africa”.
We conclude in emphasizing that a correct understanding of the crucial role of the national question is a decisive precondition for any Marxist organization to master the tasks of the current historic period. Without a correct position on the struggles for the oppressed people, it is impossible to build a revolutionary world party which can organize the workers vanguard and advance the struggle for socialism. The RCIT is defending the Marxist program on the national question against all forms of revisionist distortion. We commit our forces to build a revolutionary world party on the basis of a Marxist program and call all revolutionaries around the world to join us in this great task!
 On the changes in the composition of the international working class see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital. Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, RCIT Books, Vienna 2013, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/great-robbery-of-the-south/; see also Michael Pröbsting: Marxism and the United Front Tactic Today. The Struggle for Proletarian Hegemony in the Liberation Movement in Semi-Colonial and Imperialist Countries in the present Period, RCIT Books, Vienna 2016, Chapter III, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/book-united-front/
 On the rise of Stalinism and the bureaucratic degeneration of the workers states see e.g. LRCI: The Degenerated Revolution: The Origin and Nature of the Stalinist States, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/stalinism-and-the-degeneration-of-the-revolution/; see also Michael Pröbsting: Cuba’s Revolution Sold Out? The Road from Revolution to the Restoration of Capitalism (Chapter II), August 2013, RCIT Books, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/cuba-s-revolution-sold-out/
 Deuteronomy 23:7
 The Roots of Nationalism, National Identity Formation in Early Modern Europe, 1600-1815, Edited by Lotte Jensen, 2016
 On the Irish Question the First International and After, Pelican, 1974, p.169, Karl Marx
 The Revolutions of 1848, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1973, p.97, Frederick Engels
 Joseph Green: The sad story of Leon Trotsky and Haile Selassie (part one), https://www.communistvoice.org/DWV-150831.html
 On the degeneration of the Trotskyist Fourth International after World War II see e.g. See e.g. Workers Power (the precursor of the RCIT): The Death Agony of the Fourth International and the Tasks of Trotskyists Today (1983); this book can also be read online or downloaded as a pdf for free at https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/death-agony-of-the-fourth-international-1983/; see also Michael Pröbsting: Healy’s Pupils Fail to Break with their Master. The revolutionary tradition of the Fourth International and the centrist tradition of its Epigones Gerry Healy and the ”International Committee”, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/healy-and-fourth-international/
 Marx, Capital, Vol. I, p. 414.
 Democratic Pan-Slavism, Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 222, 1849, Frederick Engels
 Michael Pröbsting: Is the Syrian Revolution at its End? Is Third Camp Abstentionism Justified? An essay on the organs of popular power in the liberated area of Syria, on the character of the different sectors of the Syrian rebels, and on the failure of those leftists who deserted the Syrian Revolution, 5 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syrian-revolution-not-dead/; see also chapter V of Michael Pröbsting: World Perspectives 2018: A World Pregnant with Wars and Popular Uprisings, February 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/worldperspectives-2018/chapter-v/.
 V. I. Lenin: The Itch, in: LCW 27, pp. 36-38, http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/feb/22.htm
 On the RCIT’s analysis of China and Russia as emerging imperialist powers see the extensive literature mentioned in the special sub-section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/. In particular we refer readers to the above mentioned book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. See also Michael Pröbsting: China‘s transformation into an imperialist power. A study of the economic, political and military aspects of China as a Great Power, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 4, http://www.thecommunists.net/publications/revcom-number-4; Michael Pröbsting: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism, August 2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-theory-and-russia/; Michael Pröbsting: Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, March 2014, Special Issue of Revolutionary Communism No. 21 (March 2014), https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialist-russia/.
 For the RCIT’s analysis of the Syrian Revolution see a number of booklets, statements and articles on the Syrian Revolution which can be read on a special sub-section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/. See e.g. Syria: Against Assad and Against Imperialism – Victory to the Revolution! August 28, 2013, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-against-assad-imperialism/; Syria: Who is Responsible for the Civilian Death Toll from March 2011 to September 2018? A Revealing Statistic Shows Who are the Real Terrorists in the Syrian Civil War, 10.10.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-who-is-responsible-for-the-civilian-death-toll-from-march-2011-to-september-2018/; Syria: Is the Reactionary Sochi Deal Collapsing? 9 January 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-is-the-reactionary-sochi-deal-collapsing/
 RCIT: China: Down with the Pseudo-“Communist“ Capitalist Dictatorship! No to any imperialist Great Power – U.S., China, Japan, Russia or the European Union! For a Workers and Poor Peasants Republic! Proposal for a platform of revolutionary activists from the RCIT, April 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/call-to-revolutionary-activists-in-china/
 CWI: China: Police state in Xinjiang under global spotlight, 27.3.2019, http://www.socialistworld.net/international/asia/china/10153-china-police-state-in-xinjiang-under-global-spotlight
 RCIT: Ukraine: Rivalry between Imperialist Powers escalates after Right-Wing Coup: Stop the Imperialist Saber-Rattling! 2.3.2014, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/ukraine-war-threats/. See on this also Petr Sedov: On the Donbass Uprising in Spring 2014. A necessary correction of our assessment of the early phase of the “anti-fascist” Uprising in the Eastern Ukraine, RCIT Russia, July 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/reconsidering-the-donbass-uprising-in-spring-2014/
 The National Liberation Movement in the East, Lenin, p. 272