Photo taken after the Sabra Massacre
Saturday, January 11th, saw the passing of one of the most notorious war criminals in world history: Ariel Sharon. The former Israeli defense minister (1981-83), prime minister (2001-06) and military commander oversaw some of the most horrific atrocities committed against a civilian population in the contemporary era. The Kahan commission found Sharon held “personal responsibility” for the Sabra massacre in 1982 where Israeli aligned Lebanese forces butchered a Palestinian refugee camp killing up to 3500 civilians. Observers noted the incredible brutality by which the attack proceeded with women raped and murdered, children and the elderly butchered along with many victims being mutilated in the massacre. Sharon eventually resigned but was never formally tried for his crimes and would later become prime minister. Through the end of the 20th century Sharon promoted the growth of Israeli settlements onto Palestinian land leading to an explosion in the construction of settler communities; an act of occupation that even the Geneva Convention details as a violation of international law. And neither of these examples could fully summarize the laundry list of abuses committed by Sharon.
Despite all of this his legacy remains an issue of hot debate. But in actuality few, even anti-communists, would defend Sharon as some do in futility. However, those who do defend him do so less regarding the actual man but more concerning the system in which he represented. The brutal system of capitalist-imperialism by which the mass of exploited peoples are crushed under the weight of an oppressor nation.
And we should take this as a lesson in understanding capitalist-imperialism as with all productive modes. The individual becomes only a function in the social process of reproduction. For example, in the present order of capitalism the capitalist is only the human functionary of capital. His existence is necessitated only insofar as he advances the cycle of M-C-M’: the method of capital accumulation. This is why we are able to observe capitalist productive relations absent the actual ‘capitalist’. The problem lies in the actual dominance of capital not the actions of a select individual or another. In the given instance, Israeli settler-imperialism would have advanced even without the leadership of Ariel Sharon. His existence only embodied the process in an individual who mediated the relationship between the oppressor and oppressed.
Now, this should not dilute the severity of the atrocities committed by Sharon. Rather it should lead us to a principled understanding of the conflict at hand and how we might resolve it.
An unfortunate trend in the modern ‘left’ is to attribute systemic features to a personality. While this might make good material for organizing or sloganeering it is far too shallow in regard for actual analysis. It’s not a Margaret Thatcher problem; it’s a capitalism problem. It’s not a Barack Obama problem; it’s a neocolonialism problem. It’s not an Ariel Sharon problem; it’s an imperialism problem. None of this absolves these individuals from their unique position in mediating the relationship between capital and its object but instead suggests a deeper condition of oppression than the personality of a few oppressors.
Truth being that the march of capitalist-imperialism can and will continue without the presence of these infamous functionaries. In this case, imperialist forces still occupy the lands of Palestinians on behalf of their settlerist masters, even without the being of Sharon.
The only way to prevent future atrocities, to end the oppression of marginalized peoples is to destroy the system which necessitates war criminals like Sharon. Dismantle the system of imperialism and in doing so all of its subsequent processes. Destroy the organs of oppressor state power. Establish the political dominance of the oppressed and exploited peoples. In a phrase, overthrow capitalism as a mode of production.
Unless we are able to do so the present relationships which we describe in great horror will never change. Imperialist war, expansionism, and militarism along with all the terror they bring remains inevitable. Understandably so because these phenomena delineate the conditions by which capital accumulation taken the imperialist form reproduces itself. In the present social reality of capitalist-imperialism such terrible atrocities become as predictable and yet inevitable as rain fall or sunshine. Their function is wholly realized in the totality of the social formation.
And this is the ‘logic of war criminals’ the irony found in the very phrase itself. All imperialist war is a crime. Not in the crudely abstract or bourgeois humanist sense but in concrete reference to a real liberation politics. Certainly the crimes of Sharon and other contemporaries are highlighted for their exceptional brutality which has permeated the history of imperialist aggression; however, all imperialist war acts in service of the oppressor consolidating his power at the expense of suffering people. Thus the action of war criminals only makes sense in this terrible system of domination and oppression.
All of this leads us to only one viable conclusion for the destruction of imperialism. The agitation and organizing for a truly monumental transformation; the transfer of power from the oppressor to the oppressed through the victory of social revolution.
In the case of Palestine, we should lend all solidarity to the struggle of the nationally oppressed and the future of their liberation. All of us at Anti-imperialism.com fully support the emancipation of the Palestinian people and the establishment of a socialist Palestine. Furthermore we celebrate the passing of the war criminal and butcher Ariel Sharon in solidarity with his victims, the Palestinian people, and oppressed people around the world. We hope the death of Sharon and others like him might ignite a movement for revolutionary change among those conscious of the existing social conditions. In addition, it is our duty as Communists to orient that movement of dissent towards a radical goal of transforming social relationships and material conditions by destroying the dominance of capital in any given social formation. This can only be accomplished by completely demolishing all vestiges of the old society; realizing the unity of opposites between a dying capitalism and a rising communism; destroying the old and building anew.
Until then, death to all war criminals and functionaries of the oppressor system; bring the butcher Benjamin Netanyahu to justice; expel the Zionists and liberate Palestine.