Which Side Are You On?

By Bonnie Weinstein

Fight Back

A Collection of Socialist Essays

by Sylvia Weinstein

No matter what Biden does in whatever number of days, or years left for him on this earth, his fate has been sealed: He shall be remembered as the man who has enabled one of the worst genocides in modern history. Shame on anyone who supports or defends this brute.” —Ramzy Baroud, December 24, 20231

February 12, 2024—We have been witnessing the horror of Israel’s genocide against the people of Palestine since October 11, 2023, and it has not ended yet. The death toll in Gaza is more than 30,000—with at least 12,000 children among the dead. Tens-of-thousands more have been wounded. According to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNWRA, nearly 1.9 million people—more than 85 percent of the population in Gaza—have been displaced across the Strip since October 7.2 “On the internationally recognized 5-phase scale used to classify food crises, more than half-a-million people in Gaza—a quarter of the entire population—are now believed to be at the most severe Phase-5 ‘catastrophic’ level, meaning a high risk of mass starvation and death. More than 80 percent of all people currently classified as being in Phase-5 worldwide are in Gaza.”3

Israel has been forcing Palestinians to move to the southern end of Gaza “to stay safe.” Over 1.4 million Palestinians have relocated to the city of Rafa, closest to the southern, Egyptian border. But Israel is not satisfied with this—now they want to “evacuate” Palestinians from Rafa completely while they bomb it to rubble—but there is no place else for them to go.

Tens-of-millions of people around the world have been protesting the U.S./Israeli war of genocide in Gaza and the West Bank, but the genocide still rages on.

The protests must continue to build—to reach out to more and more community and labor organizations in support of Palestine and against Israel’s murderous invasion of Gaza and against U.S. aid to Israel—to build participation in protests, to pass resolutions in favor of a permanent ceasefire, and to reach out to other communities that have not spoken out yet and ask them to join the protests. This is basic and essential. But we must also know what we are up against and what the stakes really are.

Capitalism’s downfall

On November 23, 2023, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said about Israel on X, “Israel is a stronghold for us... It’s almost like having an aircraft carrier in the Middle East. This is our oldest ally.”4

This is why billions of our tax dollars are going to arm Israel—because it bolsters the strategic military power U.S. capitalism needs to maintain their hegemony in that region, and as a warning to the world.

Understanding capitalism
on class terms

To really understand what’s going on in the world we must look at the basic nature of capitalism.

The economic system of capitalism is made up of two diametrically opposed economic classes. The “ruling class,” are the commanders of capitalism who own and control the means of production—the land, natural resources, and industry of society—which is made valuable only by the labor of the working class. The ruling class contributes nothing to this value.

The working class own only their own labor power. Workers sell their labor power to the capitalist class in exchange for wages that barely cover the necessities of life. Wages amount to a tiny percentage of the wealth our labor creates.

But the capitalist economy is based upon the working class getting only a small fraction of that wealth. All that extra value and wealth after wages are paid is called surplus value and all of it belongs to the capitalist class. Under capitalism’s laws, owning the means of production gives the capitalist class the right to all of the surplus value we workers create—and there’s no limit to how much wealth any one capitalist can accumulate.

There was a meme circulating on Facebook, “It’s 80,000 BC. You are immortal. The world is still frozen in an ice age. You decide to save $10,000 every day, never spending a cent. 82,021 years later, it’s 2021. You still don’t have as much money as Elon Musk.” That’s an example of how much surplus value they are allowed to accumulate on an individual basis.

Under capitalism
might makes right

The United States is the single most powerful capitalist country in the world. The U.S. is the political and military leader of all the allied countries of the Western world. The U.S. military budget per year is $816 billion. In comparison, Russia’s military budget is $213 billion, and China’s is $69.5 billion, per year.5

Every single dollar the U.S. government spends on war, cops and jails are paid for out of the taxes that workers pay. Even the cost of social services—schools, public housing and hospitals, parks, etc.—come out of the pockets of the working class.

The death agony of capitalism and the tasks of the working class

While the military might of the capitalist world may seem unstoppable, the truth is, the capitalist system is in its death agony. It is on its last legs.

The only chance for the world’s survival is to take the power out of the hands of capitalists—to dismantle the entire capitalist world’s military industrial complex and render it useless.

To achieve this, we workers must stop producing weapons on the assembly lines, and take the control of industry and the vast amount of surplus value we create into our own hands for the benefit of all workers everywhere.

We have the ultimate power to do it. We do the work, and we are the majority of humanity. In solidarity with each other and in the interests of all workers, we are vastly more powerful than the capitalists because without our labor they are nothing.

The expansion of the war by the U.S., Israel, and their Western allies

What the death agony of capitalism means is that capitalism can’t expand and increase their rate of profit anymore without the use of force. And the war in the Middle East/Southwest Asia is a war over who controls the resources in that part of the world and, ultimately, the whole planet.

The U.S., Israel and England have escalated the war on Gaza to involve scores of targets throughout the region:

“Friday: [February 2, 2024] the United States carried out airstrikes on more than 85 targets in Syria and Iraq, aiming at Iranian-backed forces including the group it said was responsible for the Jordan strike. … Saturday: [February 3, 2024] American and British warplanes, with support from six allies, launched strikes at dozens of sites in Yemen controlled by Houthi militants.”6

“Israel has launched attacks on positions in Syria and Lebanon, as part of its ongoing campaign against opposing militaries and armed forces in the Middle East. …[Israeli military] fighter jets also struck Hezbollah terrorist infrastructure in Lebanon,’ it added, promising it would ‘continue to operate against any threat to Israel’s sovereignty.’ Israel’s military has been engaged in cross-border fighting with Hezbollah and has launched repeated air raids on Syria since its war on Gaza began on October 7, raising fears of the conflict spilling over into the wider region.”7

Israel’s continued
blockade of Gaza

The Gaza Strip stretches 25 miles along the Mediterranean Sea. No Palestinian vessels are allowed further out than nine nautical miles. Its width varies from 3.7 to around 8 miles wide—a total area of 141 square miles.

It’s a small, narrow strip, separated from Israel on the east by a 30-foot-tall, 37-mile concrete, militarized separation wall, along the south by the eight-mile-wide armed border with Egypt, and on the militarized northern border with Israel, which is six miles wide.

Gaza has one of the world’s highest population densities with around 2.3 million people.8 For comparison, the city of Detroit is 139 square miles with 632,464 people—about a quarter of the population of Gaza. There is nowhere for anyone to be in Gaza that is not in the close vicinity of masses of people—and that includes those in active resistance to Israel’s occupation. There is no such thing as “military outposts” in Gaza because there simply isn’t any land that could become military outposts.

In addition to basic construction materials such as cement and steel, which Israel claims can be used to build tunnels and weapons, Israel has blocked civilian goods such as school supplies, diapers, feminine hygiene products, light bulbs, candles, matches, books, musical instruments, crayons, clothing, shoes, mattresses, sheets, blankets, pasta, tea, coffee, chocolate, nuts, shampoo and conditioner, paper, soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy from entering Gaza since 2007.9 The complete list is not publicly available and fluctuates at the whim of Israel.

Since October 7, 2023, Israel has blocked everything—food, water, electricity, medical supplies. Nothing comes in unless Israel inspects it and lets it in—including humanitarian aid. And Gaza itself has been bombed back into the stone age.10

Israel’s wars on Gaza since 1948

The whole of what is now Israel—from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea—was Palestinian territory. That territory was captured with the help of England since WWI, and its western allies–including the United States over the years—and became Israel in 1948.

The Palestinian population was, en masse, militarily expelled or had to flee from their homes, and were forced into the Gaza Strip as refugees. Israel has repeatedly carried out wars against the occupied people of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem:

“Israel has fought 15 wars against the Gaza Strip. …Israel fought four wars against Egyptian-administered Gaza Strip: 1948 Palestine War; border attacks of 1949-1956; first occupation of Gaza during the Suez Crisis; and the capture of Gaza in 1967. During the first occupation, one percent of Gaza Strip’s population was either killed, tortured, or imprisoned by Israel. Following two periods of low-level insurgencies, a major conflict between Israelis and Palestinians erupted in the First Intifada (523 Gazans killed.) The 1993 Oslo Accords brought a period of calm. But, in 2000 the Second Intifada erupted killing 3,000 Gazans. Towards the end of the Second Intifada, Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005, Hamas won the 2006 election and took control of Gaza in 2007.”11

Israel wants all the territory devoid of Palestinians so they can claim it for their own, giving the U.S. commanders of capital an even more powerful base in the Middle East/Southwest Asia.

Israel is surrounded and outnumbered by the rest of the Arab world. Without U.S. support Israel would be overwhelmed and defeated leaving the U.S. without any armed base of support in that region.

Israel is dropping 2000-pound bombs on the people of Gaza—supplied by the U.S. government—with the full approval of the U.S. commanders of capitalism. These are the stakes at issue today.

What we can do to stop them

The world’s capitalist class, in league with the commanders of U.S. capital, are doing all they can to convince us that we have no power of our own and that the best we can hope for—to put it in terms of Gaza—is to get a few more aid trucks through to the homeless, wounded, and starving while they continue to bomb and destroy the entire territory, its people and infrastructure. We can’t let them get away with this.

Solidarity among the world’s working class has the potential to be the most powerful social force that ever existed—a force with the strength to change the balance of power between we, the masses, and the commanders of capital—who are a tiny portion of the human population who, but for the mis-informed cooperation and support of the masses of the working class —would be powerless.

What’s happening in Gaza will eventually happen to us

No one is safe from capitalism’s wars. Anywhere the capitalists feel their wealth or power is being threatened they are striking out with military action and supplying military aid to other capitalist commanders to stop any resistance to their rule anywhere.

There is nothing stopping them from using force here in the U.S.—especially if workers stop supporting them—stop voting for them, stop signing up for the military and police, stop allowing our unions to support and contribute our dues to the capitalist parties.

But we have the ultimate power in our hands to stop them in their tracks by withholding our labor—rendering them helpless.

We must build and support our own workers’ party democratically controlled and run by the working class and dedicated to fighting for our interests—a party against war, environmental destruction, police repression, racism, and sexism. A party that stands for turning the ownership and control of the means of production and the surplus value our labor creates over to the world’s working class.

We have the means right now to build a Labor Party of our own that supports socialism and opposes all capitalist parties—a party that can win freedom, democracy, economic and social equality, and justice—a socialist world under the democratic control of the masses of working people.