Revolutionary Psychoanalysts with Palestine by Professor Ian Parker
How do we revolutionary psychoanalysts respond to this crisis? There are a number of ways that we can think psychoanalytically about what is happening now in the ongoing genocidal attacks by the Israeli state against the Palestinians; and, remember, this is not only taking place against the Palestinians of Gaza, but also in the West Bank.
A first aspect that we focus on is to do with the space we inhabit as revolutionaries and psychoanalysts. Psychoanalysis is profoundly internationalist. It refuses to attach itself to particular nation states. That is something very clear in Freud’s response to Zionist calls to support the nationalist project. Yes, he was subject to antisemitism, and, yes, he valued his heritage and identity as a Jew, but he rejected attempts by colleagues who had emigrated to Palestine to construct Jewish nation-state institutions in the name of psychoanalysis. Furthermore, the main funder of Freud’s psychoanalytic publishing house in Europe, Max Eitingon also moved to Palestine and funded psychoanalysis there, and, a little noticed fact, Max Eitingon also gave significant funding to the Palestine communist party.
A second aspect concerns contradiction. We have a small group supporting the Red Clinic here in Manchester, a group of comrades from different parts of the world who have been active now in the Palestine solidarity protests. They are clear that not all Palestinians support Hamas, and not all Jews support Israel. Not all of us locals among them support the British state, by the way, and we aim to dismantle it. The point is that there is no such thing as a homogeneous identity – we are all divided subjects – and a culturally or ethnically homogeneous state is anathema to us. Our task is to oppose and to replace nation state structures here at home and act in solidarity with our comrades inside the Israeli state who are opposing that state.
The third aspect concerns time. A potent ideological motif now is ‘condemnation’, what one colleague in the Red Clinic has termed the ‘condemnation discourse’ that freezes us and locks us into a permanent present. This has been voiced in recent commentaries in the mass media that explicitly refuse to step back from what happened in the Hamas attacks and insist that we stay, as they put it, ‘in the moment’, dwell on the event to do justice to it. Psychoanalytic approaches to trauma are very different, analysing instead the conditions that bring about such violence. We analyse how this past projects itself into the future, and as revolutionaries we do not merely predict, but act. In the words of Marek Edelman, leader and survivor of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising, it is a case of ‘always being with the oppressed, and never the oppressors’.
Now in 2023, after an event we could not predict and we are told to condemn, to condemn and do nothing more, we are in the midst of a slow drawn-out process of mass-murder by a racist apartheid state, mass-murder that we can prevent.
The Israeli state defines itself now in its nation state law as a state of the Jewish people, nationalist, homogeneous and set on condemnation and revenge. And it is dead set on continuing a process that commenced with the Nakba, wiping out the Palestinian people, driving them out of Gaza as the next step in this vicious process. To be silent about this is to be complicit in repression and oppression. Standing with the Palestinian people now must go beyond sympathy for them as victims, and build solidarity with them as active agents forging, with all of their contradictions, forging their own liberation.
So, the Red Clinic stands in solidarity with the Palestinians against Israeli state terror. This was the text of my intervention at the Red Clinic online event on 23 October 2023.
– Ian Parker
The Red Clinic is at www.redclinic.org
For the written statement of Carter J. Carter, in solidarity with Palestine please click here
For the written statement of Professor Ian Parker on the Red Clinic website please click here