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The New International, November 1946



Letter from David Corbin


From New International, Vol.12 No.9, November 1946.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.



The Shields-Gates debate in the August issue on self-determination was very interesting, but shows the need for further discussion.

In his conclusion, Shields stated that “each nationality must be recognized as having the right to determine its destiny for itself, whether it be separation from the rest of the country, some form of autonomous co-operation, or simply majority rule.” Shields seems to forget the alternative of advocating the independence of Palestine, together with unequivocal support (expressed now) of the right of the Jews to a separate state if their position in an independent Palestine proves unsatisfactory.

Gates, however, throws the whole issue of self-determination out of the window. His point that the Jews are not now an oppressed minority in an independent Palestine is not decisive. The Jews are an oppressed people, who have already demonstrated their desire for certain distinctly national rights. The Jews are an oppressed minority – considered on a world scale. They desire not merely equality as citizens in an independent Palestine. They want a state that will permit and facilitate the immigration of perhaps a million Jews.

While Shields has not justified his subtitle Against the Slogan of Majority Rule, Gates has not successfully attacked the idea that slogans on self-determination are sorely needed. Recent Palestinian events have shown the willingness of the Jewish masses to struggle, now, against British imperialism and for their national aspirations. The revolutionary party must not devote itself to bewailing the current “ideology” of the Jews (masses and leaders together), but rather support unequivocally the legitimate aspirations of the Jewish masses in the interests of the social revolution. It is around “how and under what slogans” that the discussion should revolve.


David Corbin

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