The national question part III: The decolonisation of Palestine

Moshé Machover.
Weekly Worker.

This is the third and final article in a short series, leading up to a discussion of a socialist position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its eventual resolution.The first article outlined some of the debates on colonialism and the national question in the Second International. The second article sketched the position taken on these issues by the nascent international communist movement in the early 1920s . Moshe-Machover1

In this article Moshé Machover argues that Zionism constitutes a unique colonisation process – which means that the route to Palestinian freedom must be equally unique

Every case of colonisation has some unique attributes, but the exceptional features of the Zionist colonisation of Palestine are fundamental and structural. They therefore preclude facile application of generic formulas in analysing the resulting conflict and in proposing its resolution.

An obvious exceptional feature of this colonisation project is its anachronism – its extreme lateness in colonial history. This is particularly striking if we compare it to other cases of the same general type: exclusionary colonisations (‘work colonies’, ‘settler colonialism’), in which the indigenous people were largely excluded from the settlers’ political economy, while direct production – actual labour – was performed by settlers.3 Thus for the present chronological comparison we may ignore as irrelevant the scramble for Africa – from the Berlin conference (1884-85) to the outbreak of World War I – which established exploitative colonies, based on indigenous labour-power. Zionist colonisation was then in its very early stage, and got into gear only after the war, but other exclusionary colonisations were history, or well on their way to the history books.

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