Typewriter Critical Mass editorial

A year ago Stop the War was pleased if it could mobilise a few hundred or thousands of people calling for an end to the war in Ukraine. Following the Israeli assault on Gaza, it has been part of a coalition that has regularly mobilised hundreds of thousands of marchers against genocide and in solidarity with Palestine. Around the world, hundreds of millions have taken to the streets. The political ramifications are still unclear, but autocratic rulers in some Muslim states, who unable or unwilling to suppress popular support for Palestine, may find that mass mobilisations have brought together and emboldened opposition to their own rule. In Turkey opposition gains in local elections have put President Erdogan on notice that his two decades in power may be drawing to a close.

This year 40% of the world’s population will be going to the polls in national elections in 40 countries. India, the world’s largest democracy with 970 million registered voters, has already started voting. The result will not be known until June, although Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, is favourite to win. Modi is a supporter of Israel, and many on the Hindu right would like to see India emulate Israel as an ethno-nationalist state in which Hindu rule is guaranteed and Muslims are second class citizens.

The US presidential elections will not be unduly influenced by the war on Gaza. Although 57% of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the conflict, rising to 72% among young voters who are more likely to vote Democrat, only 1% regard the conflict as a priority. Similarly, the general election in the UK will not be about Gaza. Sunak and Starmer are both staunch supporters of Israel, and one of them will be the next prime minister.

But in the USA, the UK and much of Europe Gaza is becoming a defining issue for the left. Anti-war candidates, many of them independent socialists or members of the Workers Party, are intending to stand in the UK general election. Many of them will be contesting seats of sitting Labour MPs who have backed Israel. Even if everybody who has marched for Palestine votes for them, very few stand a chance of being elected. The key to their success will be to build a grass roots coalition that is against NATO and western imperialism, that marks a complete break with Labour and sees capitalism as the class enemy.

The world was shifting even before 7th October. The USA, with its allies, is still more powerful than the rest of the world put together. In the past it has been able to pretend that it represents liberal values like freedom and democracy, that it is more progressive than the dictators who abuse human rights in countries like China and Russia. With the naked brutality of the Israeli assault on Gaza the mask has slipped. By continuing to arm Israel and defend it at the United Nations, Western governments have declared that defending their own economic interests in the Middle East is more important than the lives of two million Palestinians. The rules-based world order only applies when our enemies break the rules.

This hypocrisy is not lost on the rest of the world. The Global South no longer puts any trust in the USA as a good faith actor. They may not trust China either. But it does not claim some spurious moral self-righteousness while arming a genocide. As Peter Oborne wrote at the end of last year, “It is the self-styled liberal democracies – United States, European Union and Britain – which discredited the liberal world order by giving carte blanche to Netanyahu.”

The liberal world order died in Gaza. It is time for a new internationalism to stand up to imperialism and capitalism, for the many, not the few.


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