The revolutionary Marxist strategy and tactic in the coming parliamentary elections in the Zionist state

ISL, the section of the RCIT in Israel /Occupied Palestine, 17.09.2022

In November this year the next elections to the Zionist parliament will take place. This raises of course the question what position revolutionaries in Israel should take. To answer this question, it is necessary to review the revolutionary strategy and tactics and apply them to Israel and its nature as settler-colonialist society and to the actual existing conditions.

The revolutionary strategy’s aim is not to become a majority in the parliament. Becoming the majority of the parliament is a reformist strategy, as opposed to the revolutionary strategy of building a strong revolutionary party of the working class and the oppressed vanguard able to stand at the head of the masses and smash the capitalist state apparatus and replace it with a working class state. A revolution that is part of the regional and world revolution.

The tactic of a working-class revolutionary party in the parliament is to expose the class nature of the parliament that is a tool of the capitalist ruling class. Any reform that is gained as a result of the activity of the revolutionary party must be a step in the direction of the armed revolution.

If the revolutionary group is not strong enough to win seats in the parliament it is permitted to give critical support to a party based on the working class or the oppressed nation in order to expose the class nature of this party.

We can learn all of this from Lenin:

In 1906 when the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks were in the same party Lenin wrote:

“The party of the working class, the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, is becoming united. Its two halves are merging and are preparing for a unity congress, the convocation of which has already been announced.

But here is still one point on which the two halves of the Party disagree—the State Duma. All Party members must be clear on this question, …Bolsheviks and Mensheviks agreed that the present Duma is a miserable travesty of popular representation, that this fraud must be exposed, and that preparations must be made for an armed uprising to bring about the convocation of a constituent assembly freely elected by the whole people.

The dispute is only about the tactics to be adopted towards the Duma. The Bolsheviks say that our Party should take part in the election of delegates and electors. The Bolsheviks advocate an active boycott of the Duma. … Boycott means refusing to take part in the elections. We have no wish to elect either Duma deputies, electors or delegates. Active boycott does not merely mean keeping out of the elections; it also means making extensive use of election meetings for Social-Democratic agitation and organization.

Why do we refuse to take part in the elections?

Because by taking part in the elections we should involuntarily foster belief in the Duma among the people and thereby weaken the effectiveness of our struggle against this travesty of popular representation. The Duma is not a parliament, it is a ruse employed by the autocracy. We must expose this ruse by refusing to take any part in the elections.”

Lenin ended this article by writing:

Down with the Duma! Down with the new police fraud. Citizens! Honor the memory of the fallen Moscow heroes by fresh preparations for an armed uprising! Long live a freely-elected national constituent assembly! Such is our battle-cry; and only the tactics of an active boycott are compatible with it.” [1]

Thus, to oppose the elections to a fake parliament Duma or the Knesset a real alternative must exist, like a revolutionary Constitutional Assembly

In 1907 Lenin wrote:

The fifth group is the Lefts. To this group belong the Social-Democratic and Socialist-Revolutionary parties, the Popular Socialists (approximately the equivalent of the French Radical Socialists) and those known as theTrudoviks–a still completely amorphous peasant democratic organization. In their class character, the Trudoviks, Popular Socialists and Socialist-Revolutionaries are petty bourgeois and peasant democrats.” [2]

Thus, the left can be a petty bourgeois party and not necessarily a working-class party. In the same article Lenin also wrote at a time the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks were two wings of the Social Democratic Party:

“The figures on the composition of the electors show convincingly that the basis of the liberal parties (mainly, therefore, the Cadets) is the urban, primarily the big industrial bourgeoisie… The basic differences among Russian Social-Democrats are closely connected with this last problem. One wing (the Minority, or “Mensheviks”) regard the Cadets and liberals as being the progressive urban bourgeoisie as compared with the backward rural petty bourgeoisie (Trudoviks). It follows from this that the bourgeoisie is recognized as the motive force of the revolution, and a policy of support for the Cadets is proclaimed. The other wing (the Majority, or “Bolsheviks”) regards the liberals as representatives of big industry, who are striving to put an end to the revolution as quickly as possible for fear of the proletariat, and are entering into a compromise with the reactionaries. This wing regards the Trudoviks as revolutionary petty-bourgeois democrats, and is of the opinion that they are inclined to adopt a radical position on a land question of such importance to the peasantry, the question of the confiscation of the landed estates…They reject support for the treacherous liberal bourgeoisie, i.e., the Cadets, and do their utmost to get the democratic petty bourgeoisie away from the influence of the liberals. Thus, the Bolsheviks saw the big industrial bourgeoisie -the liberals as the class enemy while the Menshviks tailed the bourgeoisie” [3]

Lenin also wrote in the same article:

“During the elections to the Second Duma a fierce struggle was waged between the two wings of Social-Democracy, between Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, on the question of whether to enter into a bloc with the Cadets or with the Trudoviks against the Cadets. In Moscow the supporters of the Bolsheviks were stronger; a Left bloc was formed there, with the Mensheviks taking part in it. In St. Petersburg the Bolsheviks were also stronger, and a Left bloc was formed there as well, but the Mensheviks did not take part and withdrew from the organization. A split occurred and still continues. The Mensheviks referred to the Black-Hundred danger, i.e, they feared a victory of the Black Hundreds at the elections because of the votes of the Lefts and the liberals being split. The Bolsheviks declared that this danger was an invention of the liberals, whose one purpose was to attract petty-bourgeois and proletarian democracy under the wing of bourgeois liberals. The figures show that the total number of votes cast for the Lefts and the Cadets was more than double the combined votes cast for the Octobrists and the monarchists split vote for the opposition, therefore, could not have helped the victory of the Right” [4]

Thus Lenin opposed any common block with the liberals and answered the argument that not framing a block with the liberals means to help the black hundreds (Benjamin Netanyahu,.Ben Gevir and other extreme nationalists)

 Lenin also wrote:

The boycott is one of the finest revolutionary traditions of the most eventful and heroic period of the Russian revolution. We said above that it is one of our tasks to carefully guard these traditions in general, to cultivate them, and to purge them of liberal (and opportunist) parasites. We must dwell a little on the analysis of this task in order correctly to define what it implies and to avoid misinterpretations and misunderstandings that might easily arise.

Marxism differs from all other socialist theories in the remarkable way it combines complete scientific sobriety in the analysis of the objective state of affairs and the objective course of evolution with the most emphatic recognition of the importance of the revolutionary energy, revolutionary creative genius, and revolutionary initiative of the masses—and also, of course, of individuals, groups, organizations, and parties that are able to discover and achieve contact with one or another class…It is undoubtedly the duty of Russian Social-Democrats to study our revolution most carefully and thoroughly, to acquaint the masses with its forms of struggle, forms of organization, etc., to strengthen the revolutionary traditions among the people, to convince the masses that improvements of any importance and permanence can be achieved solely and exclusively through revolutionary struggle, and to systematically expose the utter baseness of those smug liberals who pollute the social atmosphere with the miasma of “constitutional” servility, treachery, and Molchalinism. We must study the conditions for the application of the boycott; we must instill in the masses the idea that the boycott is a quite legitimate and sometimes essential method at moments when the revolution is on the upswing (whatever the pedants who take the name of Marx in vain may say)” [5]

Lenin added to this:

“When advocating the boycott in 1905 and the beginning of 1906 we said that participation in the elections would tend to lower the temper, to surrender the position to the enemy, to lead the revolutionary people astray, to make it easier for tsarism to come to an agreement with the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, and so on. What was the fundamental premise underlying these arguments, a premise not always specified but always assumed as something which in those days was self-evident. This premise was the rich revolutionary energy of the masses, which sought and found direct outlets apart from any “constitutional” channels. This premise was the continuous offensive of the revolution against reaction, an offensive which it would have been criminal to weaken by occupying and defending a position that was deliberately yielded up by the enemy in order to weaken the general assault. Try to repeat these arguments apart from the conditions of this fundamental premise and you will immediately feel that all your “music” is off-key, that your fundamental tone is false” [6]

Lenin also wrote in the same article

“By defending the Duma against boycott when we were still in the period of direct revolutionary struggle, the Mensheviks, so to speak, gave their pledge to the people that the Duma would be something in the nature of a weapon of revolution. And they completely failed to honor this pledge. But if we Bolsheviks gave any pledge at all, it was only by our assurance that the Duma was the spawn of counter-revolution and that no real good could be expected from it. Our view has been borne out splendidly so far, and it can safely be said that it will be borne out by. future events as well. Unless the October-December strategy is “corrected” and repeated on the basis of the new data, there will never be freedom in Russia. …And we must explain to the masses our participation in the Octobrist Duma just as simply. Owing to the defeat of December 1905 and the failure of the attempts of 1906-07 to “repair” this defeat, reaction inevitably drove us and will continue to drive us constantly into worse and worse quasi-constitutional institutions. Always and everywhere we shall uphold our convictions and advocate our views, always insisting that no good can be expected as long as the old regime remains, as long as it is not wholly eradicated. We shall prepare the conditions for a new upswing, and until it takes place, and in order that it may take place, we shall work still harder and not launch slogans which have meaning only when the revolution is on the upswing” [7]

Lenin ended this article by writing:

“It would be just as wrong to regard the boycott as a line of tactics counterpoising the proletariat and part of the revolutionary bourgeois democracy to liberalism and reaction. The boycott is not a line of tactics, but a special means of struggle suitable under special conditions. To confuse Bolshevism with “boycottism” would be as bad as confusing it with “boyevism”. The difference between the Bolshevik and Menshevik lines of tactics is now quite clear and has taken shape in the fundamentally different resolutions adopted in the spring of 1905 at the Bolshevik Third Congress in London and the Menshevik Conference in Geneva. There was no talk then either of boycott or of “boyevism”, nor could there have been. As everyone knows, our line of tactics differed essentially from the Menshevik line both in the elections to the Second Duma, when we were not boycottists, and in the Second Duma itself. The lines of tactics diverge in every field of the struggle whatever its means and methods may be, without any special methods of struggle peculiar to either line being created. And if a boycott of the Third Duma were to be justified or caused by the collapse of revolutionary expectations in regard to the First or the Second Dumas, by the collapse of a “lawful”, “strong”, “stable”, and “genuine” constitution, it would be Menshevism of the worst kind.” [8]

Thus, to summarize Lenin’s electoral tactics:

1. Revolutionary Marxists may boycott the Duma but not always. They boycott when the masses move forward on the revolutionary road and do not boycott at times of regression of the consciousness of the masses.

2. When we call to boycott the institution like the Doma or the racist Knesset is when the call for a revolutionary Constitutional Assembly can be accepted by the masses who struggle for revolutionary change.

3. A block or any form of political support for the parties of the class enemy is a betrayal of the working class and the oppressed nations.

4. It is permissible to give critical support to the reformist and the petit-bourgeois nationalist of oppressed nations.

5. The argument of the reformists that by not supporting the liberals you help the right and the most reactionary party is a demagogy is the service of the capitalists.

The application of Lenin’s method to the situation in Israel

Israel is a settler colonialist imperialist society. The Jewish working class is mainly labor aristocracy. As long the Jewish workers in Israel remain Zionist tney cannot develop revolutionary struggle. The Palestinian workers citizens of Israel are the revolutionary link to the masses in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians masses in the West Bank and Gaza are the revolutionary link to the Arab revolution as the uprising in 1936-9 proved. Thus, it is permissible to vote for parties based on the working class and the popular classes of the Palestinians in Israel.

The majority of the Palestinians citizens of Israel will not vote om the coming elections out of demoralization from the Arab parties and their lack of gains in the Zionist Parliament-the Knesset that is similar to the Russian Duma. It is not out of revolutionary protest and our call for a revolutionary Constitutional Assembly is only a propaganda slogan for the most advance vanguard of the Palestinian working class in Israel.

At the last minute the Joined list split, Hadash and Ta’al on one side and Balad on the other. While Balad promises it will not support Lapid, Hadash and Ta’al refuse to promise not to recommend Lapid as a prime minister and to support his government.

Thus, the only correct position is critical support for Balad. We are not sure of why this split occurred? We know that the Stalinist front and Ta’al refuse to commit themselves to not to vote for a Zionist politician and are not committed to the position of not recommending a Zionist politician (Lapid) to Prime Minister.

A day after the election, everyone will come to us and we’ll put everyone on one foot to respect… our population,” says Odeh. The Joint List has in the past recommended a candidate for prime minister, and is expected to do so again in exchange for political demands.

“We really wanted to preserve the Joint List. Ta’al even wanted to keep the Joint List with four parties, with respect,” says Ta’al leader Ahmed Tibi, “but it wasn’t possible.” [9]

Our criticism of Balad is its failure to call for a Palestinian democratic state from the river to the sea and its failure to call for a Constitutional Assembly.

Fight for a Constitutional Assembly!

For one Palestinian socialist and free from the river to the sea!


[1] Lenin:  Should We Boycott the State Duma?

[2] Lenin: The Elections to the Duma and the Tactics of the Russian Social-Democrats

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Lenin: 1907/boycott: V (

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid


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