Whilst I like the song, its simplicity is both refreshing and yet at the same time simplistic. Particularly as it finishes with “down with Israel”. Not, of course, because I am for Israel but because, although the song attacks governments and demands revolution everywhere, only Israel as a nation-state is selected to be ‘abolished’. Without wanting to make an easy equivalent of all nation-states, there are some things they all have in common – all nation-states can be as murderous towards their own proletariat and that of other countries (if they have the means to be) as Israel.
There seems to be internationally, amongst the most significant movements that have taken on their ‘own’ state, a kind of confusion of internationalism as an ideal and nationalism as some ideal (hence so many national flags in these movements). In other words, most participants recognise a certain commonality of interests between the oppressed of all countries but also seem to have a fantasy of a good nation-state, that their miseries can still be overcome within the geographical (and particularly cultural) definition of their ‘own’ country. This might seem a pedantic quibble – at least in relation to this heartening song – but it seems to be a significant contradiction that needs to be unraveled in all its country-to-country complexities. Those who strive towards the progress of struggles need to find the ways and means to oppose such complex contradictions without seeking easy set-piece ‘analyses. and ‘answers’. We need to avoid the frying pan of uncritical cheer-leading and the fire of contempt masked as ‘coherence’. Some lament how much more advanced the struggles of the late 60s and the epoch following it were. But if struggles today are often expressed in extremely naive and simplistically ideological terms compared with the past, the way forward is not to just blame people for their lack of class consciousness but to understand the unprecedented power of the conditions and conditioning that repress class consciousness and their history. “The end of alienation is only reached by the straight and narrow path of alienation itself” – Of Student Poverty