IV. The Palestinian Petit Bourgeoisie
What is this class? What is its size? What is its position regarding the revolution? What are the relations existing between it and the workers and peasants, the basic material for the revolution?
The petit bourgeoisie comprises the craftsmen, the educated groups such as students, teachers, junior employees, small shopkeepers, lawyers, engineers and medical men.
In the underdeveloped countries the petit bourgeoisie is very numerous and may constitute a large proportion of the inhabitants. Consequently, in discussing this class, we must realise that we are discussing a large number of our people and that it is necessary to give the position of this numerous class a sound, clear, scientific scientific definition because it would be a gross error affecting the progress of the revolution if we assigned to this class a role greater than that which it is really capable of performing. On the other hand, would be a gross error if any mistaken view of this class should lead the revolution to lose one of its forces.
When discussing the petit bourgeoisie, we must take into account the fact that it is not possible to view it and to define our position with regard to it as a clearly-delineated class. A portion of this class enjoys comfortable living conditions, assuring it of the basic necessities with some surplus, which makes it always look up to rising to the level of the upper bourgeoisie, while another portion of this class is barely capable of ensuring its basic living requirements, and is consequently closer to the revolution and more desirous of change. This shows the need to make a thorough study of the conditions prevailing among this class and the position of each of its groups in the light of each stage of the revolution.
Unlike the working class, the petit bourgeoisie does not live within specific class conditions, and here lies the reason for its vacillation and its habit of shifting from one position to another according to the progress of the revolution and the particular stage it has reached.
However, it is possible for us to say in general that, during the stage of democratic national liberation, this class may be an ally to the force of the revolution and to its basic material represented by the workers and peasants, but alliance with this class must be so alert as to prevent it from infiltrating into the position of command because that would expose the revolution to vacillation and deviation or slackness.
Therefore the revolutionary position regarding this class is defined on the basis of two main points :
1. That this class is an ally to the revolution.
2. That this ally is not the basic material for the revolution and consequently it is not permissible for the leadership to be placed under its command or the command of its programmes and strategy. In view of this, the law which governs our relations with this class is one which impels us to take this class as an ally to stand with us in our main conflict with the enemy camp and at the same time to fight any attempts by this class to assume leadership of the revolution through its programmes and strategy.
The application of this law to our relations with this is a matter of extreme delicacy, and at times, of extreme difficulty, because in addition to its large numerical size, this class possesses consciousness and knowledge by use of its class conditions and has therefore the intelligence to take advantage of this alliance to infiltrate into the position of leadership of the revolution unless the basic classes of the revolution represented by the workers and peasants have the necessary consciousness, organization and efficiency.
To be able to triumph over this class in our struggle with it around the leadership, that is, around the strategy of the revolution, its programmes and organization frames without allowing this struggle to affect our main battle against the enemy, we must know when and how to accept as an ally and when and how to fight against it. Unless we know these things, it is feared that this struggle may lead to two fatal dangers :
1. That this struggle may be at the expense of our main struggle.
2. That the petit bourgeoisie may win this struggle and assume leadership of the revolution by virtue of the concrete power which it enjoys.
The criterion for the soundness of our position in this connection is to strike an alliance when such a course is demanded to serve the interest of the revolution and the masses and to fight when the masses are capable of feeling and understanding the reasons for this fight. The important thing is that we should be with the masses and the masses with us in both cases. During the periods when commando action faces dangers threatening its existence or periods when the enemy forces try to liquidate the issue we must raise the standard of alliance,. work for it and stand before the masses as the forces calling for such alliance. In the event of struggle, the fight should be based on a specific position or specific issue felt by the masses. Our analysis of this class is that by virtue of its class structure it sometimes adopts vague, compromising or vacillating positions. This analysis means that specific occasions will arise when the organizations of this class will adopt such positions. On such occasions it would be possible for the masses to justify the fight and even to demand it, and to side with us in the course of prosecuting it. We have before us as an example the events of 4 November 1968 in Jordan when the reactionary authority in that country attempted by an intelligent scheme to undermine commando action under the guise of striking at one of the commando organizations. The Popular Front here took a firm stand, led the fight and unveiled the vacillating positions adopted by the middle-of-the-road organizations. The masses rallied around the Front which, in spite of certain gaps in the position, achieved victory in foiling the reactionary plan. In the long revolutionary march which lies before us in the Palestinian field we are bound to face such situations from time to time, and there are occasions for taking over the reins of command from this class and its political expressions.
The settlement of the class leadership issue in the Palestinian field will not be an easy matter and will not occur within a short period, nor can it be permitted to take the form of a permanent struggle for leadership with or without occasion. It would be wrong to view this matter in an unrealistic manner. The settlement of the class leadership issue in the Palestinian field for the benefit of the workers peasants and poor classes will take a long time and should occur without affecting our position regarding the main conflict and at a time when the masses are capable of justifying and understanding the bases and reasons for this struggle.
As for the purely theoretical struggle occurring with or without occasion in a form which the masses cannot justify and in a manner which makes it prevalent over the main conflict or makes us forget that this class is our ally the revolution, such a struggle could very well deviate the course of the battle and make us lose our position of leadership.
The basic consideration in our view of the revolutionary forces on the Palestinian level is the understanding that the workers and peasants are the basic tool for the revolution, and that the strategy, positions, theory and nature of organization of the revolution should be those of the working class. When we attain a deep and clear realisation of this fact and act on this basis, then an efficient political leadership can, during the national liberation stage, win over the petit bourgeoisie as a genuine ally according to the programme laid down by the working class and not by the petit bourgeoisie.
Alliance at the appropriate time on the basis of a programme, and conflict at the appropriate time around a palpable position or issue is the way to settle the question of leadership in the Palestinian field for the benefit of the camp dwellers, with the necessity for a realistic, dialectical, non idealistic view of the time and method required for this settlement.
The existence of the petit bourgeoisie at the head of the Palestinian national movement today should be under stood objectively, for without such understanding it would be difficult for the working class to rise successfully to the top of the leadership. The reason for the existence of the petit bourgeoisie at the head of the Palestinian national movement is that, during the stages of national liberation, this class is one of the classes of the revolution, in addition to the fact that its numerical size is relatively great and that, by virtue of its class conditions, it possesses knowledge and power. Consequently, in a situation where the conditions of the working class from the viewpoint of political awareness and organization are not developed enough, it is natural that the petit bourgeoisie should be at the head of the alliance of the classes opposing Israel, imperialism and Arab reaction. To all this we must add the special character of the Palestinian petit bourgeoisie and the difference in position between it and the Arab petit bourgeoisie which stands at the head of Arab national regimes. The Palestinian petit bourgeoisie has raised the banner of armed struggle and is leading it today, and the fact that it is not in power makes it more revolutionary than the Arab petit bourgeoisie which is determined to preserve its interests and remain in power by avoiding the long and conclusive struggle with the opposing camp.
If we take all these points into consideration we find that the rise of the working class with its strategy and programmes to the head of the alliance and its leadership is contingent upon the growth achieved by this class in the development of its political awareness and organisation and also upon the escalation of the armed struggle and the growth of the state of revolution so that the Palestinian petit bourgeoisie is no longer capable of maintaining its leading role except at the expense of its own interests and conflict with its class conditions and consequently with its thought, programmes and strategy.
What then in summary is the picture hitherto as regards the forces of revolution on the Palestinian level?
The basic revolutionary forces are the workers and peasants who alone, by virtue of their living conditions, are capable of leading the revolution to its end. The workers’ radical and conclusive thought and strategy alone are capable of confronting the enemy camp, and it is efficient leadership of the workers that is able, through its scientific tactics, to lead along with it in this struggle the petit bourgeois class without this class being in the position of leadership and without allowing it to dilute revolutionary thought, strategy and programmes through its vacillating and inconclusive thought and strategy.