MIM: Review of the “Black Book of Communism”


MIM: Review of the “Black Book of Communism”


[Before MIM’s crackpot degeneration and despite their errors, MIM made some outstanding contributions to the proletarian struggle.]

The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University Press) is the bible of the anti-communist movement. The book is often cited as an academic work proving the barbarism of communism. Its figures for deaths under communism are probably the most cited of any other work on the topic. It has also been marshaled into the larger projected of trying to prove that socialism was worse than fascism. Thus, the book is used to not only let fascism off the hook, but as part of the revisionist project of rehabilitating fascism.

In 2001, MIM informed Harvard University Press of undeniable errors in The Black Book of Communism. MIM even got Harvard University Press’ Mark Kramer to admit that the book contained remedial math errors.

MIM’s work exposing the Black Book as a hack job was a great contribution to the international communist movement. So, we are reprinting MIM’s review of the Black Book of Communism. To read the full exchange between MIM and Harvard University Press, click here . This article unfortunately contains MIM’s gender spellings, we have chosen to publish it anyways. — MSH]

The Black Book

The Black Book of Communism: Crimes,Terror, Repression  Stephane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panne, Andrzej Paczkowski, Karel Bartosek, Jean-Louis Margolin Translated by Jonathan Murphy and Mark Kramer (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1999), 856pp. hb

reviewed by MC5, February 2000

The Black Book came out in France in 1997 and has provoked a storm of controversy since then. Now it has reached the shores of the English- speaking nations in translation through the dubious editorial choice of Harvard University Press.

MIM has already rebutted this book in the context of struggling against Internet fascists in 1999. Our challenge to the proponents of the book was: ” our critics become emotional and can’t use their methods to both sides of anything. The thread started because it was about famine only in allegedly socialist countries. The only problem was that they left out famine in the capitalist countries to give us a comparison!”(1)

Our fascist critics trumpeted this book against us all over the Internet as if something new were said. They cited the 100 million death toll in the introduction as the main message. Yet it remains that it is an 856 page book and there are no statistical comparisons of premature deaths between capitalist and socialist countries anywhere in the book, just as MIM charged all along. The reason is simple: the Communists doubled the life expectancies of the people of the Soviet Union and China. That is the overall picture. It does not mean there were not civil wars or executions, including some unjust ones, but overall, the violence of communism is less than that of capitalism, by far.

The simple scientific link missing in the minds of our critics is the link between poverty under a system of private property and death. Poverty under capitalism causes death from lack of food, a decent environment and adequate health care. Twist and turn as it might, the pre-scientific intelligentsia will never treat this fact in a systematic and thereby scientific manner despite 800 page wailings. It turns out that the capitalists have a Black Book of Capitalism forthcoming. It is like Lenin said about the capitalists bidding for the rope contract for the hanging of their class. We hope it teaches the people how a life expectancy is calculated and why it is superior to tallying millions of deaths in selective patches the way our critics do. The death toll for capitalism reaches 100 million from starvation alone, every 8 to 12 years as MIM has already discussed in its essays on this available on our FAQ web page. It is a measure of general ignorance of the public that purchases monopoly capitalist periodicals and the conscious evil of some intellectuals that the Black Book could create any stir at all with its 100 million figure while so many more die each decade under capitalism.

Overall, somehow or another, the Black Book of Communism has managed to raise the debate one notch. It is a measure of the success of the class struggle that the reactionary intelligentsia felt compelled to write an 854 page book touching on the death toll of communism. By seeking to put a number on the premature deaths caused by communist movements in the 20th century, the pre-scientific intelligentsia who wrote the book brought the subject right to the edge of science before recoiling in horror and retreating to atemporal moral dogmas more fit for inner spiritual reflection than discussion in public.
What is not scientific cannot produce unity, so the anti-communist authors split as the book went to press. Werth and Margolin –the authors of the Soviet, Chinese and other sections of the book disagreed with Stephane Courtois who introduced the book. Courtois suggested in the only comparison in the book that the communist movement was responsible for 100 million deaths, while the Nazis were only responsible for 25 million (p. 15) (which obviously excludes some of the more than 22 million Soviet peoples who died at the hands of Nazis, mostly civilians or the six million Jews or the millions of others of other nations including the Germans themselves.) Werth and Margolin reportedly said that Courtois inflated the figures to arrive at 100 million as the total death toll for communism.

The communism versus Nazism comparison was the only comparison of figures offered in the book and it is mostly a comparison of war time deaths with some extra and invented famine deaths thrown in on the Soviet side, which we will address further in the essay below. The Nazism vs. all communism comparison is easily recognized as absurd just on the basis that communism ruled in more countries decades longer. More importantly it is absurd, because the most deaths occur from the steady grind of daily life, not in war, and the Black Book of Communism simply does not compare life expectancy in ordinary life under socialism and capitalism–thereby whitewashing capitalist starvation, poor distribution of health services and environmental degradation. More intelligent anti-communists realized that Courtois’s mistakes as exposed by his co-authors might encourage the readers to undertake comparisons of death tolls and adopt a scientific approach. In addition, they knew that the masses would realize that the Nazis were stopped at millions killed instead of billions because of the Soviet troops who stopped the Nazis. Thus Courtois was aiming at the masses reading the uncritical filter of the monopoly capitalist media while Werth and Margolin were worried that some intellectuals might notice the huge holes in Courtois’s story.

Courtois obviously believes that tactically speaking, the media will buy anything anti- communist, because it is too ignorant or bought-off to do otherwise. So the question in the minds of the pre- scientific intelligentsia like Courtois becomes “how aggressively should we rehabilitate Nazism and attack communism?” As MIM has long said, there is nothing scientific about fascism. It is simply a ideology justifying open repression on behalf of capitalism. Hence, it is no surprise that intellectuals will never be able to put forward coherent, consistent and detailed books on fascism’s behalf. The authors are largely ex-communists who had thought communism is some kind of purified Christianity. They never understood the science involved in supporting communism. The anti-communists can take advantage of religious mysticism, selective human-rights absolutism and the relativism of post- modernism that is so trendy today, but they themselves can never put forward a coherent and historically detailed line themselves, for the same reasons that one religion can never conquer the whole world.


The introduction by Courtois demonstrates that he is one intellectual who consciously manipulates the pre- scientific sentiments of the masses and other intellectuals. When it comes to communism, he correctly says, “there will always be some nitpickers who maintain that actual Communism has nothing in common with theoretical communism.”(p. 2) Yet he goes on to say, “Of course it would be absurd to claim the doctrines expounded prior to Jesus Christ, during the Renaissance, or even in the nineteenth century were responsible for events in the twentieth century.”(p.2 ) In his own mind, Courtois believes it is wrong to do to Jesus what he is doing to the communists by holding up some idealized scheme and measuring it against real life.

We agree that anyone who counter-poses a dogma goal to a reality is going to make numerous mistakes. We can only compare realities with realities and decide which reality is closer to the goal. Comparing “actual” life and “theory” is really ethical dogmatism and has nothing in common with scientific Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. “Theory” does not mean our long-range goals of what is right and wrong. Theory is the body of ideas that accurately describe how the world works in its vast mesh of cause and effect and change. Christians and other religious people are liable to substitute “Heaven” for “theory” and assume that Marx’s “communism” plays the same role as “Heaven” in their own thought. Not surprisingly they then find communism in practice to be flawed and hypocritical.

Courtois ends up quoting the same Catholic Church that supported the fascist Franco in Spain, Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany for his moral basis.(p. 29) His last sentence in the introduction quotes, “thou shalt not kill.”(p. 31) In return, the Cardinal Mindszenty foundation put up a favorable review of Courtois’s book on the web.

For this reason, Courtois feels justified when he says “our purpose here is not to devise some kind of macabre comparative system for crunching numbers.”(p. 15) We can only hope he contracts HIV and decides to forgo the “number crunching” and thus takes chicken soup instead of protease inhibitors.

Courtois is also the perfect case of what Stalin called a “social-fascist.” Claiming to be a social-democrat, Courtois has been attacked for fascist sympathies widely. Le Pen is his greatest admirer. It is so striking that it is not only defenders of Stalin who have noticed Courtois’s benefit to fascism. Even the social-democratic “Le Monde” in France had some complainers with regard to fellow social democrat Courtois.(p. xvii)


Courtois attempts to blame Stalin for contaminating himself by signing a pact with Hitler in 1939.(pp. 5, 22) He says it was a crime. No where does he mention all the pacts that the capitalist countries signed with Hitler before Stalin did. It is typical in that most of the book’s distortions are by omission of comparative context.

The Polish signed in 1934 and the French and British of course had their Munich appeasement in 1938. In 1938, Stalin offered to attack Hitler over Czechoslavakia if either England or France sided with him and if the Polish granted passage through their territory. Instead, what happened is Poland took a slice of Czechoslavakia–the Teschen district–in a deal with the Nazis.(3) The fact that Stalin was the last to sign a pact with Hitler is not mentioned by Courtois, because by his own logic, the capitalist countries would be guilty of greater crimes than the socialist countries.

Supposedly these are the scholars, but it is MIM explaining the comparative context once again. Our readers should ask whose standards of scholarship are fairer, MIM Notes’s or the bourgeois scholars’. These bourgeois scholars do not even mention the capitalist countries’ agreements with Hitler while citing Stalin for “crimes” for signing agreements. This same Courtois does not mention anywhere why Hitler’s crimes stopped at the supposed 25 million mark–Soviet troops who defeated him–and these are supposedly historians. They are simply revisionist historians taking advantage of the youth for whom World War II is very distant.

Nor does Courtois or Werth mention the numerous and successful pro-Nazi rebellions throughout Europe when they talk about there being no reason to repress anyone in the Soviet Union and when they talk about how bad conditions in the USSR were that they drove people into the arms of the Nazis. If so, conditions were even worse in the capitalist countries, because Nazi fifth columns overthrew those European governments outright and paralyzed the anti- fascist fighting ability of all continental Europe except for the Soviet Union and mostly communist guerrillas in other countries.

The term “quisling” arose because of a former Norwegian “Defense Minister” who helped the Nazis overthrow the government of Norway in 1940–Vidkun Quisling. In France, in 1940, Henri Philippe Petain, a former Command-in-chief who achieved that post in 1917 headed a Nazi collaborator government in France seated in Vichy. Even the French bourgeoisie agreed he had to receive life imprisonment after World War II. The Belgian Leopold III surrendered his country to the Nazis unconditionally and was dubbed a collaborator.(3) In Sweden, the family that owned half of all the country profited from Nazi gold taken from Jews killed in the Holocaust. Assisting that family in the legal matters was the US future Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles–and of course, the Swedish government.(4) Not surprisingly, Finland joined the Nazi side in 1941, but less known is that the French premier Edouard Daladier had to resign in March, 1940, because his opposition to attacking the Soviet Union in Finland was unpopular! That’s correct: the French public and portions of the bourgeoisie wanted to attack the Soviet Union, not Germany in an effort to get on Hitler’s good side! Hungary and Bulgaria joined the Axis powers outright and made war against the Allies–greatly assisting Hitler in his invasion of the Soviet Union.

In all the above countries overrun in part by internal Nazism, there was also resistance to Nazism, but the point remains that Courtois and Werth failed to mention them while downplaying the threat of Nazi collaborators in the Soviet Union. If they wish to speak for the “human-rights” of Nazis and their collaborators, they should do so without denying that these sorts of fascists existed in the Soviet Union as they did everywhere in Europe. To do as Courtois and Werth do is distortion of the facts to suit a religious agenda of human-rights for fascists.

Karel Bartosek came closer to the truth saying “the repression was especially severe in countries that had sent troops to fight against the Soviet Union–Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia–where the NKVD deported hundreds of thousands to the Soviet gulags.”(p. 394) However, contrary to the impression left by Bartosek (p. 397), Bulgaria also sided with the Nazis as can still be found in common encyclopedias.(3) It is indicative that Bartosek chose to stress the fact that Bulgaria did not send troops against the Soviet Union without mentioning that Bulgaria was occupying Soviet allies in Yugoslavia and Greece–after having received a piece of Romania through the offices of Hitler. There were active fascists in countries other than Italy, Germany and Japan, but the Cold War historians needed to whitewash fascism in Europe, especially Eastern Europe in order to vilify Stalin.

For his part, Nicolas Werth wrote a whole chapter exonerating the peoples who sided with Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union and listed their executions in the midst of war as crimes counting against communism. Apparently the context of being in a war is not relevant to these selectively timeless historical moralists. Adam Shatz found Werth’s position to be too much as well, thus proving that not all historical commentators at this time are asleep while speaking: “His lament for the fate of the Vlasovtsky is particularly bizarre. Named after their leader, Andrei Vlasov, the Vlasovtsky were a group of Russian prisoners of war who defected to the German side in 1942. ‘On the basis of his anti-Stalinist convictions,’ writes Werth credulously, ‘Vlasov agreed to collaborate with the Nazis to free his country from the tyranny of the Bolsheviks.’ Vlasov paid with his life, and his 150,000 soldiers ended up wasting away in the gulag, an unhappy fate, to be sure. But it’s hard to get worked up, as Werth does, over the imprisonment of traitors whose ‘anti-Stalinist convictions’ led them to embrace the Nazis.”(5)

Having written about these Vlasov supporters and also about various Nazi centers that actually did exist in the Soviet Union amongst certain ethnicities (e.g. pp. 219-20, 223-4), Werth still says, “the elimination of potential and mythical ‘fifth columnists’ was at the heart of the Great Terror.”(p. 202) As some of his own work shows, there was nothing “mythical” about the fifth column and the number that sided with Hitler was greater than the number that Stalin executed in the “Great Terror,” according to Werth’s own accounting.

Later Courtois and Karel Bartosek want our hearts to bleed for the Germans who revolted against the Soviet occupation in 1953. (see photos & p. 439) After killing more than 22 million Soviet people, the Germans were lucky to be left alive. Had Stalin been as bad or worse, than Hitler, as Courtois says, no Germans would have been left alive to revolt.

Outside of the Great Leap in China, most of the accusations regard violence in the midst of war. Reading about Vietnam or the Soviet Union or Korea (which is still in a state of war), one would often be able to forget there was a war going on as atrocities were listed.

Anti-semitism and genocide more generally

By placing Nazism at one-quarter the danger of communism, Courtois rightly invoked a charge of anti- Semitism, even in the staid pages of the social- democratic “Le Monde.”(p. xv) While Stalin fought a war against Nazis and toward communism, the goals of the Nazis were always for extermination of all but the master race, which did not even include all whites.

Given his sympathy for the Soviet fifth column in World War II, it is not surprising that Ukrainian fascists quote Werth on their web pages, in the midst of their anti-Semitic filth.(6) Kooky or un-rebutted anti- Semitism was just beneath the surface throughout the book (e.g., p. 86, p. 99). The whole title of the book comes from the title of a book about the holocaust of Jews by Nazis also titled Black Book.

One bourgeois reviewer said that France lagged far behind in recognizing anti-Semitism from World War II: “In fact, the Jewish genocide barely registered among French intellectuals until the late 1980s, when Raul Hilberg’s seminal study, The Destruction of the European Jews, finally appeared in translation. The Russian gulag, as exposed by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, had received far more attention thanks to the new philosophers of the 1970s.”(5)

Shatz went on to add: “After all, this was a country where, as the Princeton historian Anson Rabinbach observed in Dissent last year, ‘the demand for a ‘Nuremberg trial of communism’ has a particular connotation, frequently reiterated by Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the National Front, to justify not prosecuting French crimes of the Vichy era.’ Since the book’s publication coincided with Maurice Papon’s trial on charges of Nazi collaboration during the Vichy years, French readers were invited to contemplate the notion that partisan resistance fighters, many of them communists and all of them in alliance with Soviet Russia, were on no firmer moral ground than a pro- fascist bureaucrat who sent Jewish women and children to the ovens.”(5)

Shatz complains about Stalin’s banning of a book that focussed on the Jews and World War II. Yet it is true that the Nazi genocide hit other ethnicities besides the Jews. The communists and Jews were only first in line for extermination by Hitler.

Even Nicolas Werth admitted this, if only in passing in the book and without impacting Courtois’s conclusions obviously. “The barbarism of the Nazis created some reconciliation between the Soviet government and the people, in that Germany classed Russians as sub-humans destined for extermination or slavery.”(p. 215) Also Courtois and a co-author correctly said, “Hitler considered that all Slavs were subhuman and hence were to be disposed of en masse.”(p. 320) Given that most Russians were white, Werth and Courtois should have also said that Hitler planned on the extermination of the vast majority of the world’s population. People seeking to equate Stalin and Hitler do so to whitewash racism and they take advantage of historical ignorance as Nazism recedes in time.

The Ukrainian famine

Throughout his essay, Werth talks about grain requisitions by the Soviet state as if grain so obtained disappeared and thereby caused rural starvation.(e.g. p. 121) No mention is made of city people’s non-negotiable rights with regard to eating. Even though the property system was no longer the capitalist style, he continued to refer to the grain as the “fruit of their[peasants’] labor”(e.g. p. 66, p. 148) that they were entitled to keep–omitting that some people work on much better land than others if there is no socialist cooperation to even out disparities in the means of production.

From 1923 to 1928, the peasants had a free market in grain. Yet, the bourgeois peasants blew their chance in 1928, because grain delivered to the cities was down to 4.8 million tons from 6.8 million the previous year. That spurred Stalin to favor collectivization of agriculture.(p. 142) No doubt, had Stalin let the peasants keep their grain, Courtois and Werth would have blamed Stalin for the starvation of people in the cities instead–unless Stalin changed the system to capitalism, in which case an 8 digit figure of peasants could die each year to this day without the bourgeois propagandists uttering a peep. Whether people starved in cities or in the countryside, Stalin was going to be blamed by these critics.

All along some of the fiercest resistance to doing the right thing centered in the Ukraine and Werth says the Ukrainian famine was the largest death toll Stalin was responsible for. The Ukraine is the equivalent of the US “breadbasket”–states like Iowa or Kansas. Werth admitted as much in a concluding throw-away sentence: “The richest and most dynamic agricultural regions, which had the most to offer the state and the most to lose in the extortionate system of enforced collectivization, were precisely the regions worst affected by the great famine of 1932-33.”(p. 168) The fact that these areas were the equivalent of Iowa should have been a clue that having the peasants just keep their food was not an option that should have been suggested lightly.

In 1929, more than 3,200 Soviet civil servants suffered terrorist attacks.(p. 145) 1,300 riots spread through the countryside in the years 1928-9. That is one indication of the class war going on. They had a history behind them of a movement called the “Greens” that also resisted requisition of food to the city.(p. 81-, p. 91- )

In the midst of this sort of political resistance, many Ukrainians resisted delivering grain to the state. Werth says that in response, Stalin starved 4 million of them to death in 1932-3 for a total of 6 million when other regions of the Soviet Union are counted for being in a similar situation.(p. 146)

New York’s newspaper the “Village Voice” of January 12, 1988 has already debunked the claims about the Ukrainian famine, as being wildly exaggerated and as having been created by fascist Ukrainians, in some cases caught in the act of fraud in propaganda creation.(7) Ludo Martens has also debunked poet, fiction-writer and government official Robert Conquest for his use of Nazi sources, Nazi collaborator sources and fiction books to buttress his most widely cited story of the Ukrainian famine.(8) 80,000 Ukrainians served in the Nazi army including some in the SS and that is the kind of human material that gets wide quotation.(p. 244)

Hence, while some people may have starved in the Ukraine, Werth’s numbers are inflated to the point where the Village Voice referred to the famine as a “hoax.” Nonetheless, Werth touches on the political choices some Ukrainians made. He quotes an alleged Stalin letter that MIM did not check on (because it was consistent with the times) as saying “the workers in your district–not just your district, but in many districts–went on strike, carried out acts of sabotage, and were prepared to leave workers from the Red Army without bread!”(p. 166) From MIM’s point of view, even if all the fascist propaganda were true, Stalin would have been correct to take harsh measures against those who disobeyed the law, cut back their farming and generally acted as the spoiled and privileged owners of the best farming land.

Where Werth and Courtois agree is that the political choice of some peasants to resist delivering grain to the state is not an act of violence in itself against the city-dwellers; even though realistically, food has to come from farmland, especially the Ukraine and other lands in question. They speak of the land as if it were only the property of peasants who live on it. When peasants cut back their work only to grow their own grain and contrary to law, Werth and Courtois defend them. Indeed, Werth comes out openly in saying his approach depends on not recognizing Soviet law. He said that “‘destruction of Soviet property’” and other items including “‘speculation’” should not be counted as crimes.(p. 206) In contrast, we socialists are happy to deport such Ukrainian people as they were deported by Stalin and replace them with people who will do something with the fertile land–because people’s lives are at stake and we see political games played by Ukrainians on breadbasket land as violence against city-dwellers.

The case of the Ukrainian breadbasket land is also important in reminding us why we have to oppose “local control” perfected under Tito’s “market socialism” in Yugoslavia and also adopted by anarchists in Spain. After a revolution implementing “local control,” people who happen to live on gold mines will become rich. People who live on the best land will have an easier time farming, and so on. “Local control” cannot be thought of as socialism, just a switch of owners. The central government has to play some role or the means of production are not truly socialist. Only when that day comes when people cooperate economically across large distances without coercion or reward will it be possible to take an easy-going approach to dividing up resources at the local level, because no one would think of hurting people in the rest of the country or the world based on their fortunate local position.

At a MIM Stalin talk coming out on CD, one critic from the audience said that Stalin induced the Ukrainian famine “for his own power.” When asked what Stalin used that power for, the critic had nothing to say. In the capitalist countries, the sights of the masses are lowered to persynal gain, such that when they see someone with vast power and no persynal gain, they have no idea what to say. Stalin did not gain from starving Ukrainian peasants, unlike the way capitalist speculators who hoard food gain when peasants starve. To say that Stalin did gain is a simple projection of life under capitalism to life under socialism where often the politicians also persynally gain from development, weapons or other deals they broker politically.

In contrast the most bourgeois peasants in the USSR known as kulaks did gain monetarily and persynally from speculation in grain by letting the cities starve. Stalin did not himself benefit from the New Economic Policy (NEP) that allowed the free market in grain. It was the peasants in the countryside actually trying to increase their own power for persynal gain, so our critic has the accusation against Stalin completely upside-down.

In no way are Courtois and Werth correct in equating the holocaust of Jews with the starvation of some peasants who sat on fertile land and decided not to obey the law or cooperate in a new economic system. They chose to cut back their work and hide their grain despite knowing what targets of production they were to reach and despite having come closer to meeting them in the past. It is not that Werth ever claimed these peasants were struck by typhoon or drought. They had a choice, unlike the Jews who are born Jews according to the racial theories of the Nazis.

Since Werth says that Stalin’s single largest crime was the alleged Ukrainian famine,(p. 263) our readers should note it carefully and decide how much credibility the overall criticism of the Soviet Union under Stalin has.

Admissions regarding the Soviet Union

As intellectuals, these fascist and fascist-leaning intellectuals could not help trying to distinguish themselves from historical simpletons. What is more, they claim to do so based on the study of the most recently released Soviet archives.

1. Citing the work of an A. Blum, Werth no longer believes Stalin masterminded the Kirov assassination in 1934. It was the killing of Kirov that resulted in a swing in Soviet public opinion toward a crackdown on “dissent” as World War II was progressing, notably the Japanese invasion of China in 1931 and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935.

2. Werth correctly believes Robert Conquest’s work on the “Great Terror” to be exaggerated, (p. 185) MIM would say fictional.

3. According to Werth, the 85% of executions after the Civil War in the Soviet Union and while Stalin was still alive (1922 to 1953), occurred in the “Great Terror,” also sometimes referred to as the “Purges” of 1936-1938.(9) However, Werth says the number of executions has been vastly exaggerated. The number was 681,692.(p. 191)

While everyone agrees that the majority of executions occurred in the 1936-1938 period–while the Soviet Union and Germany were already fighting each other in Spain– the numbers range wildly. Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko said that the “Great Terror” was responsible for 19 million deaths from 1935 to 1941, (10) while Werth says the figure is 720,000.(p. 206) This is just an indication of how wildly the bourgeoisie speculates against Stalin.

4. Purges in the Red Army prior to World War II were previously exaggerated and affected 30,000 out of 178,000 relevant cadres.(p. 198)

5. Documented cases occurred where all Mensheviks said to be shot were not shot but imprisoned.(p. 262)

Embarrassments to others in the anti-Stalin swamp

Because the bourgeoisie rushes to attack Stalin from an immense number of improbable angles, it is not surprising that its statements stand in contradiction all the time, even 47 years after Stalin’s death. Like prison cellmates with 47 years to practice their alibis, the bourgeoisie still can’t come up with a consistent story.

1. Werth’s essay tends to confirm that Bukharin was in fact a Liberal in the right-wing of the Communist Party with links to Yagoda, a security chief under Stalin. In 1918, Bukharin was criticizing the Cheka (internal security that arose in civil war) for its “‘excessive zeal of an organization filled with criminals, sadists, and degenerate elements from the lumpenproletariat.’”(p. 79)

In 1924, Bukharin again wrote to the head of the ex- Cheka then called the GPU. His name was Felix Dzerzhinksy. “‘It is my belief that we should now progress to a more liberal form of Soviet power: less repression, more legality, more open discussions, more responsibility at local levels.’”(p. 134) The other major Bolshevik leaders disagreed with Bukharin.

2. The famous Ukrainian anarchist Makhno organized bloody pograms against the Jews in 1919, just as Lenin charged. A picture continues to emerge of only Bolsheviks in the Ukraine as not anti-Semitic.(p. 96)(11)

3. Also contrary to some anarchists today who paint the anarchists as blameless, Werth points out that rebellion and class war against the Bolsheviks did continue into 1921. The Kronstadt rebellion did not occur in a context of social peace.

4. According to Courtois and a co-author, in 1937, Trotsky went to the French police to get French communist Jacques Duclos in trouble, despite having no evidence against him for a murder Trotsky wanted avenged. Trotsky relied on the French police to find the evidence and conduct the investigation.(p. 307)

China: more botched numbers

To their credit, the authors admitted that their criticisms of Asian communists and therefore most of their criticism of communism is speculative.(p. 459) The reason is that they would like the governments there to fall so that they can see the archives before they pass judgement.

The largest part of the 100 million deaths they are attributing to communism comes from the Great Leap, where they use the upper end of a range of estimates–43 million deaths. MIM recently reviewed this literature again in MIM Notes 203, since Harvard professor Roderick MacFarquhar’s book just came out in paperback.

Contrary to MacFarquhar who details all the actions the Communist Party took and how Mao made public self- criticism, Margolin says Mao refused to admit a problem during the Great Leap.(p. 464) He then goes on to list wartime atrocities in World War II by the communists.

Even more than MacFarquhar who misplaced a decimal in his single largest accusation against Mao to make it 10 times worse than it was, Margolin leaves us seriously questioning his basic quantitative skills. We can only hope it was the editors or translators who introduced the errors, but there were numerous basic mathematical errors in his chapter and no matter how one slices it, the chapter does not reflect well on the authors and editors.

“This last province [Anhui], in north-central China, was the worst affected of all. In 1960 the death rate soared to 68 percent from its normal level at around 15 percent, while the birth rate fell to 11 percent from its previous average of 30 percent. As a result the population fell by around 2 million people (6 percent of the total) in a single year.”(p. 492)

The above is such a bungle that it is difficult to sort out all the errors and curiously enough, it refers to Margolin’s biggest accusation at the provincial level. The first number is actually 68.58 per thousand. 68 percent is 68 per hundred. Once again, we have an error overestimating by a factor of 10. What is worse is the stupidity in saying that the mortality rate was 68 percent but only 6 percent died! In this way Margolin exceeds the stupidity of MacFarquhar’s mistake. Of course, the birth rates are similarly exaggerated by a factor of 10. At least MacFarquhar correctly reported these figures in a table in his third volume.(12)

In more obvious moralistic “have your cake and eat it too,” Margolin denounces the regime in China for creating a situation where “the birth rate fell to almost zero as women were unable to conceive because of malnutrition.”(p. 494) He does not realize that if that is true, his death toll must be very low, much less than the 20 million lower end estimate he uses. It’s clear that he has never sat down to think through questions like what goes into creating a life expectancy figure.
Further exceeding MacFarquhar by covering more years with his ignorance, Margolin says “For the entire country, the death rate rose from 11 percent in 1957 to 15 percent in 1959 and 1961, peaking at 29 percent in 1960. Birth rates fell from 33 percent in 1957 to 18 percent in 1961.”(p. 495)

Given this sort of record it is not surprising Margolin also botched the imprisonment rate figures where he momentarily got on the right track before falling off (and actually compared the imprisonment figures with the USA’s and found them equal in his own error-prone way). (p. 541) He apparently is OK with reporting 8 digit figures raw and re-reporting percentages, but anything actually involving his own understanding of division is suspect.

At one point saying that the peasants were too weak to harvest grain rotting on the farms, (p. 493) Margolin also says that once capitalist-style organization came into place, the peasants quickly ended the famine. (p. 496) Which was it Margolin? Were the peasants too weak as the Great Leap went on to harvest or just needing capitalist incentives? Nor does Margolin seem to flinch at saying the worst year was actually 1961,(p. 491) after the Great Leap had ended and widescale private farming and systems tantamount to it had come into play.

It is obvious that Margolin likes to study history, but his quantitative skills are so lacking it is no wonder that he came out against communism. His essay along with MacFarquhar’s error introduces further doubt into the basic competence of the people doing bourgeois academic research on the Great Leap. Anyone with any experience in mortality figures, life expectancies or statistics and the slightest knowledge of the Great Leap from any perspective should have caught Margolin’s mistakes right away and should have known off the top of their heads that what he was saying was impossible. Anyone with a high school education should have caught the mistakes if studying carefully. When talking about China with its large population and the potential for 8 digit famines, it is essential that an author be comfortable with numbers.

With regard to the charge of 100 million dead from communism, 85 million are from the Soviet Union and China, 20 million from the Soviet Union and 65 million from China.(p. 4) As we have just shown the crucial lynchpins to that argument concern a famine reported by Nazi collaborators in the Ukraine and a Great Leap toll where repeated and obvious arithmetic errors were published in the book. Together these two items account for 49 million dead out of 100 million alleged victims.


The book goes on to treat other countries as well, but those countries are all said to stem from the Leninist “genetic code.” Many of these other regimes that Courtois et. al. attack are not communist and as usual they omit significant facts such as the landslide Sandinista victory’s portion of the population (not just the voters) won in a bourgeois style election (p. 670) or the fact that their notion of “responsible” for deaths in the case of the Sendero Luminoso refers mostly to indiscriminate killings carried out by the government but which the Sendero Luminoso is “responsible” for because they started a civil war.(p. 680)

The Black Book sold 70,000 copies in four weeks in France.(13) Of course, the Wall Street Journal endorsed it as well as most of the rest of the bourgeois press. There are 175 entries in an Internet search using the “Google” search engine. Many of the book reviews can be seen by visiting MIM’s bookstore under reviewed books and going to the Amazon bookstore link for the Black Book. The positive reviews can be taken as an indication of the lack of historical knowledge of some, the weak quantitative skills of others and the overall conscious distortion of the bourgeoisie. In the end, MIM agrees that Courtois has recognized the truth about the media: it will buy anything anti-communist.

Despite his correct recognition of the nature of the monopoly capitalist media, Courtois will fail in his goal, because the truth regarding the overall situation is already widely available and cannot be excised from history by selective compilations of statistics or gruesome detail of death on one side of the capitalism versus communism conflict. Despite the whinings of the Solzhenitsyns, Khruschevs and other intellectuals and former party members, nothing will eradicate the fact that the average persyn lived longer under socialism than under capitalism.(14)


1. &CONTEXT=949783412.290127893&HIT _CONTEXT=942257934.934412361&HIT_NUM=1&hitnum=9

2. I thank HC88 for the following reference: William Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, pp. 296, 526, 563f.







9. 12/1997-12-10/1997-12-10-054.html

10. See our article on this at

11. For some examples of the half-assed anarchists who continue to support Makhno against Lenin, unfortunately we have to refer to some of the better anarchists including the Rage Against the Machine, the International Workers of the World, the web and

12. Roderick MacFarquhar, The Origins of the Cultural Revolution: The Coming of the Cataclysm 1961-1966, vol. 3, pb., (NY: Columbia University Press, 1997), pp. 7-8.


14. We suggest readers follow the following links:


Who and What are Trotsky-cons?


Who and What are Trotsky-cons?


The term “Trotsky-con” has become part of the lexicon of populist paranoia in the First World. Despite its currency with red-baiters and anti-Semites, especially during the years of the Bush administration, the term does correctly refer to the  link between Trotskyism and a certain group of policy thinkers within the new generation of conservatives that emerged after World War 2. The SWP USA, a party from which many Trotsky-cons emerged, feebly dismisses any connection as fascist conspiracy theory, as though the link were a pure invention of the paranoid delusions of Lyndon LaRouche and Pat Buchanan. (1) Despite their protests to the contrary, there are deep theoretic links between Trotskyism and imperialism. Neo-con Stephen Schwartz proudly defends his Trotskyist past and prefers that “neo-cons” be called “Trotsky-cons.” (2) He goes so far as to say he will defend Trotsky “To my last breath, and without apology.” (3)

Very early on, Trotsky was engaged in various power struggles within the Soviet Union against the proletarian line of Lenin and Stalin. As early as 1926, in the infamous Clemenceau Declaration, Trotsky sought to use imperialist invasion of the Soviet Union as a way for his forces to seize power. Just as the Bolsheviks were able to take power during World War 1, Trotsky saw his forces similarly positioned to seize power. Into the 1930s, as Europe was polarized between fascists and anti-fascists, Trotsky, even though he criticized fascism, he did not see fascist invasion as the main danger.  Once again, Trotsky increasingly saw Stalin as the main danger to the Soviet Union, even on the eve of World War 2. Once one understands the essence of Trotskyism, it becomes apparent why one of the only times that Trotsky supported national liberation was for the Ukraine in 1939. (4) Trotsky advocated civil war in the Soviet Union and Ukrainian succession on the eve of Nazi invasion:

“In the Russian Bulletin of the Opposition (82-3), February-April, 1940, the following long paragraph appeared in place of the opening two sentences of the Sunday Express version: ‘…I consider the main source of danger to the USSR in the present international situation to be Stalin and the oligarchy headed by him. An open struggle against them, in the view of world public opinion, is inseparably connected for me with the defense of the USSR.” (5)

No doubt Trotsky saw his Clemenceau Declaration in the 1920s and, later, de facto support for the Nazis as having a parallel with 1917. Trotsky was hoping that an imperialist invasion of the Soviet Union, even one carried out by the Nazis, could catapult him to power just as the German invasion of World War 1 was a factor in the October Revolution of 1917. Trotsky was hoping to turn an imperialist war into his own brand of “revolutionary war” against Stalin and Soviet socialism. Trotsky saw himself riding to power on the backs of Nazi tanks. Just as Lenin’s strategy of turning imperialist invasion into revolutionary war has been named “revolutionary defeatism,” Trotsky’s strategy could be called “counter-revolutionary defeatism” since it turns Lenin on his head.

This extreme reactionary position is one element of Trotsky’s politics, a very important one. However, this does not exhaust Trotsky’s politics. Trotsky held contradictory, conflicting, confused positions, which is why Trotsky, at the same time, can appear to be anti-imperialist and anti-fascist. It took another, Trotsky’s follower, Max Shachtman, to work out the kinks, to put forward a more coherent form of Trotsky’s counter-revolutionary defeatist line. Shachtman called Stalinism, “the new barbarism.” In 1939, following the Soviet invasion of Finland, Shachtman followed James Burnham in arguing against the SWP USA’s nominal and weak-kneed defense of the USSR. They argued that the Soviet Union was not socialist and did not even deserve nominal support. Shachtman came to support the Western imperialists against the Soviet Union. Like Trotsky, Shachtman came to see Stalin as the main danger to the world. Like Trotsky, who agreed to testify on the crimes of Stalin to the anti-communist witch hunters in the Congress of the United States,  Shachtman was not above selling himself to the imperialists. The original Trotsky-cons, like Shachtman, are those who evolved from supporters of Trotsky’s so-called “Fourth International” into Cold Warriors for Western imperialism. If Trotsky is the father of the Trotsky-con movement, Max Shachtman is its mother. In addition, there has emerged a second generation of high profile intellectual Trotskyists, who mostly came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, who, like the earlier Trotsky-cons, have converted to become stooges for U.S. empire. Trotsky continues to have imperialist offspring, even to this day there is another generation of First Worldist, so-called socialists who support imperialism for similar reasons.

Although twisted opportunism surely played a role  in uniting Trotskyists and empire, the roots of the Trotsky-con phenomenon are much deeper, found within the ideology of Trotskyism itself. At the core of Trotskyism is the Theory of Productive Forces and its twin, the Theory of Permanent Revolution. The Theory of Productive Forces overemphasizes economic development as a factor in advancing revolution. According to such a  mechanical misreading of historical materialism, a society is unable to build socialism if it has not developed an economic base that approximates that of Western Europe at the time; it is, according to such Trotsky-cons and those with similar outlooks, impossible to build socialism unless a country has already gone through Western style capitalism. Much of Maoism is a rejection of and answer to this kind of phony Marxism. Mao showed how it was possible to bridge the gap between the most backward semi-feudal conditions and socialism with his theory of New Democracy. Mao showed how by harnessing the power of the masses, a communist party can lead countries whose development has been stunted by imperialism forward to socialism. The whole history of socialism validates Mao’s view. In the 1930s, under Stalin’s leadership, the Soviet Union had developed socialism at a breakneck pace in unfavorable conditions. Stalin had correctly predicted that it was necessary to build socialism as rapidly as possible; Stalin famously said the Soviet Union must catch up to the West or be annihilated. Not only were the Soviet masses able to build an economic base, they did so while making ever greater strides toward proletarian democracy. By the 30s, the Theory of Productive Forces had been refuted in practice by the living example of the Soviet achievement. By the late 30s, there was no excuse for anyone to uphold the Theory of Productive Forces or Permanent Revolution. Yet Trotskyists continued to ignore the reality in front of them. They continued to reject “Socialism in One Country” on a priori grounds. As Harry Haywood correctly points out, Trotskyist veered between defeatism and utopianism:

“From late 1922 on, Trotsky made a direct attack on the whole Leninist theory of revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. He denied the possibility (and necessity) of building socialism in one country, and instead characterized that theory as an abandonment of Marxist principles and a betrayal of the revolutionary movement. He published his own theory of “permanent revolution,” and he contended that a genuine advance of socialism in the USSR would become possible only as a result of a socialist victory in the other industrially developed nations.

While throwing around a good deal of left-sounding rhetoric, Trotsky’s theories were thoroughly defeatist and class collaborationist. For instance, in the postscript to Program for Peace, written in 1922, he contended that “as long as the bourgeoisie remains in power in the other European countries, we shall be compelled, in our struggle against economic isolation, to strive for agreement with the capitalist world; at the same time it may be said with certainty that these agreements may at best help us to mitigate some of our economic ills, to take one or another step forward, but real progress of a socialist economy in Russia will become possible only after victory of the proletariat in the major European countries.” (6)

Many Trotskyists rejected the possibility of socialism in the backward Soviet Union, or they rejected socialism there as “deformed.” According to view of Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution, real socialism’s only hope was for a more developed country to come to the aid of the Bolsheviks. Those who uphold this position today state that revolution in the underdeveloped countries of the Third World is impossible without the help of the “advanced” First World. So, they argue, it is necessary to have a revolution in Western Europe or the United States in order to develop socialism in the  the Third World generally. For these reasons, Trotsky and his modern followers reject the idea that the principal contradiction in the world is between imperialist and exploited nations. They see national liberation movements as incapable of making real proletarian revolution in Third World conditions. They are First World chauvinists who uphold versions of both the Theory of Productive Forces and Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution. This kind of position is echoed today by many overt Trotskyists and many covert ones. Such a view is found, for example, in the writings of many who were in the orbit of the RIM, another defunct fourth international.

James Burnham and Max Shachtman carried Trotsky’s criticism of Stalin to its conclusion. Not only was the mode of production in the Soviet Union not socialist, its mode of production was “bureaucratic collectivist,” worse than capitalism. Shachtman even suggested it was based on slave labor. (7) Anti-communist conservatives and liberals had long made exactly these kinds of claims. Thus it wasn’t long before Shachtman was on the side of the Unites States in the Cold War. Such Trotskyists end up supporting Western imperialism as progressive because it allegedly brings development, paving the way for future social change. In other words, Western-style capitalism and modernity are prerequisites to socialism. And, they argue, since imperialism brings Western-style capitalism and modernity, imperialism is progressive and should be supported. Such lines are CIA lines. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long before such “communists” dropped any pretense to socialism at all. After abandoning any pretense of socialist revolution, the Trotsky-cons opted to use imperialism to export Western liberalism and modernity as, what they saw as, the best realistic option for the world. Stephen Schwartz noted the parallels between Bush’s grand designs of nation-building and exporting Western modernity with Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution in Bush’s Second Inaugural Address:

“‘The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.’ This sounds like it came right out of Trotsky’s bottle: The survival of socialism in the Soviet Union increasingly depends on the success of socialism in other lands. Neo-con Stephen Schwartz said that ‘those who are fighting for global democracy should view Leon Trotsky as a worthy forerunner.’” (8)

Trotsky’s Theory of Productive Forces, Theory of Permanent Revolution, and criticism of socialism as it existed in the Soviet Union, are linked. There is a clear path from Trotsky’s First World chauvinism to the imperialism expressed in paternalistic terms by the neo-conservatives. It is no accident that ex-Trotskyists became Reaganites and the movers and shakers establishment far-right policy thinkers. James Burnham founded National Review. Some of these new conservatives passed through Shachtmanite Young People’s Socialist League at one point or another or passed through the Socialist Party when Schachtman was still a leading figure.  Jeane Kirkpatrick, Joshua Muravchik, Carl Gershman, Penn Kemble are worth mentioning. (9) Ex-Trotskyist and Public Interest founder Irving Kristol (father of William Kristol editor of the Weekly Standard) founded an anti-Soviet CIA front, the International Congress for Cultural Freedom. (10) (11) Kristol wrote in 1983 that he was a “proud” member of Trotsky’s Fourth International in 1940. (12) Public Interest co-editor Nathan Glazer was close to the Trotskyist movement. (13) Also, defense intellectual Albert Wohlstetter had been a Shachtmanite in the late 1940s. Later, he was mentor to Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. (14) (15) These figures were the brainpower behind much of the conservative revival in the past decades.

There is another trend worth mentioning who are similar to Trotsky-cons, but do not identify as conservatives. Christopher Hitchens, an ex-Trotskyist, has been moving in a similar direction as  Trotsky-cons. Hitchens revels in his new found fame as one of the top promoters of war against Afghanistan and Iraq. Faux News never misses a chance to give Hitchens a soapbox to condemn “Islamofascism” and the anti-war movement. Hitchens was also a consultant to the Bush administration despite still claiming to be some kind of “leftist.” Because of his imperial “leftism,” Hitchens, like Sidney Hook who traveled Trotskyist circles and later worked for the CIA, is similar to Trotsky-cons, but is outside their conservative milieu. Some compare him more to the anti-Soviet liberals of the Cold War era. Even so, the underlying phenomenon is similar whether it is Hitchens or Irving Kristol. If one believes that socialism is impossible in the Third World, where development is lacking, one can easily come to see the “civilizing mission” and “manifest destiny” of the West as progressive and necessary — even though, as Lenin understood, decadent imperialism plays no progressive role in the contemporary world.

Another variation is the development of crypto-Trotskyism. Crypto-Trotskyism is Trotskyism under a Maoist cover. It is Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution disguised under false praise for the Cultural Revolution. For example, the RCP USA, at one point, claimed to be a Maoist party even though they rejected global people’s war as Lin Biaoism. (16)  In his infamous Conquer the World, their leader Bob Afakean, in all but name, upholds Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution and Theory of Productive forces. RCP USA advanced the claim that socialist revolutions can’t be sustained in the Third World without revolution carrying over into the developed First World, “the imperialist citadels.” Like Trotskyists before them, they sought to coordinate Third and First World revolutions through a fourth international led by First World organizations whose revolutions were deemed key, more important than those in the Third World. Thus they turn the Maoist truth, articulated by Lin Biao, that “the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggle of Asian, African, and Latin American peoples” on its head. They see the First World as the key, not the Third. With such a reactionary ideology, it is no surprise that they have disrupted and spread confusion within the communist movement worldwide.  Today, their Trotsky-con kin denounce “Islamo-fascism,” and the crypto-Trotskyists join the choir with their attacks against Iran. What kind of “Maoist” party holds anti-Iranian demonstrations in a climate where the imperialists are imposing sanctions and on the verge of military action? In fact, their Iranian fraternal party echos Trotsky when it writes that the Islamic state as a bigger enemy than the United States. They issue statements that parrot the imperialist denunciation of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program and the alleged treatment of women there. They, along with RCP USA and similar groups, were de facto supporters of the recent CIA-backed attempted color revolution in Iran. What is really going on is that the Iranian “Maoists” implicitly seek a confrontation between the imperialists and the Islamic regime in order to advance their own interests, like Trotsky. Along with upholding, in all but name, the Theory of Productive Forces and the Theory of Permanent Revolution, RCP USA and its allies  increasingly attacksthe record of Lenin, Stalin and Mao in the same terms as the Cold War anti-communists. (17) They criticize revolutionary nationalism and reject the true Communists who understand that the vast majority of the First World population is thoroughly reactionary. These are not merely opportunist errors of Maoist organizations, they are systematic, reactionary errors. (18)(19) (20) This isn’t too say that there are not legitimate criticisms to be made of the communist tradition. However, the criticisms made by the Trotskyists and crypto-Trotskyists are, even when they happen to be correct, part of a reactionary package that must be rejected as a whole. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, but that is not any incentive to buy the broken clock.

Contrary to Trotskyist claims, the experiences of the Soviet Union and China are proof that it is possible to build socialism in unfavorable conditions. In fact, revolutions are always born in unfavorable conditions. Revolutions happen, as Lenin stated, in the weakest links. They happen when the old society is failed. The proletariat and its allies are very resilient. They have shown that they can overcome the problem of development. By the end of the Stalin era, for example, the Soviet Union had become an atomic power and had become a match for the West technologically. They had raised life expectancy to nearly the level of the West. (21) Real existing socialism has shown that development and empowerment of the masses is not an antagonistic contradiction. Empowering the masses is key to development, as Mao understood. The Soviet Union and China, under proletarian leadership, traversed in a few decades what took hundreds of years and the bloody legacy of imperialism to accomplish in the imperialist nations.

According to Trotsky-con Stephen Schwartz, there is “a psychological, ideological and intellectual continuity” between Trotskyism and conservatism. (22) Some might suggest that these Trotskyist-to-conservative political evolutions are accidental, just coincidence. Although similar conversions can be found among the social democratic “left,” which has been hostile to communism from the outset, it would be hard to find such a congealed group of Washington ideologues coming out of any other trend claiming to be “socialist.” At bottom, Trotskyism is First Worldism. It fights for the First World against the Third World. In this respect, it is not different than any number ideologies in the First World, including fascism. Long before they embraced conservatism, the Trotsky-cons were advocating imperialism and White chauvinism. All Trotskyists are Trotsky-cons at heart.


1. Sam Manuel. “Jew-hatred, red-baiting: heart of claims of ‘neo-con’ conspiracy ” The Militant Vol. 68/No. 24 June 28, 2004

2. Dale Vree. “What Is A Neocon? & Does It Matter?” New Oxford Review December 2005

3. Stephen Schwartz. “Trotskycons? Pasts and Present.” National Review June 11, 2003

4. Writings of Leon Trotsky, , “Ukrainian Independence and Sectarian Muddleheads.” Pathfinder Press, New York: 1973. Also see:

5. Leon Trotsky. Writings of Leon Trotsky: NY: Merit Publishers, p. 124 (quoted from MIM,

6. Harry Haywood. Black Bolshevik Liberator Press Chicago, Illnoisa USA 1978 p 178

7. Tony Cliff. The theory of bureaucratic collectivism:A critique 1948

8. Stephen Schwartz. “Trotskycons? Pasts and Present.” National Review June 11, 2003

9. John B. Judis. Trotskyism to Anachronism: The Neoconservative Revolution Foreign Affairs, July – August 1995

10. Leon Hadar. “The “Neocons”: From the Cold War to the “Global Intifada”” April 1991

11. Paul Greenberg. “The ‘Shocked’ Treatment” Commentary December 9, 2005

12. Flirting with Fascism June 30, 2003

13. John B. Judis. Trotskyism to Anachronism: The Neoconservative Revolution Foreign Affairs, July – August 1995


15. Trotsky’s ghost wandering the White House National Post June 07, 2003 also see

16. Bob Avakian. For a Harvest of Dragons. RCP Publications. USA:1983. p 150-151. “ ….to cling to at least aspects of Lin Biao-ism. Lin Biao was a top leader of the communist Party of China in the 1960s and he is associated with the line of singling out U.S. imperialism for a common onslaught from the “third world,” with simultaneous national liberation wars defeating U.S. imperialism throughout the “third world,” and even possibly destroying it altogether. His line (as expressed in a 1965 pamphlet [written by Lin Biao], Long Live The Victory of People’s War) represented the absolutizing of what was then the principal contradiction in the world (between oppressed nations and imperialism) — raising it out of context of world relations and contradictions in which it actually exists and treating it as a thing unto itself and virtually the only significant contradiction in the world. While recognizing the existence of revolutionary situations and favorable revolutionary prospects in many countries in the “third world” it exaggerated this into a tendency to treat the “third world” as an undifferentiated whole, ripe everywhere for revolution. Related to this, in upholding the importance of armed struggle as a necessary means for replacing the old order with the new and insisting on the fact that in many places in the “third world” it was possible and necessary to make armed struggle the main and immediate form of struggle — in opposition to the Soviet revisionist line that attempted to make economic development the main task in the “third world” neo-colonies — Lin Biao’s line exaggerated this to a point of virtually insisting that everywhere in the “third world” revolutionary warfare could and must be launched right away (in Long Live the victory, whether one dares to wage a people’s war is made the touchstone of distinguishing Marxism-Leninism from revisionism). As part of this whole line, the objective fact that the proletarian revolution had been delayed in the imperialist countries and that there was as yet no proletarian revolutionary movement there was absolutized, so that the prospect of such revolution in the imperialist countries was all but dismissed…
…But to attempt to cling to Lin Biaoism in the world situation of today, with all its profound changes since the 1960s, including the principal contradiction, can only have very serious and disastrous consequences…”

17. Bob Avakian. From Ike to Mao And Beyond Insight Press USA:2005 p 241-245

18.  Bob Avakian in a Discussion with Comrades on Epistemology-
On Knowing and Changing the World Revolutionary Worker #1262, December 19, 2004 http://revcom.u s/a/1262/avakian-epistemology.htm

19. Bob Avakian. Conquer The World

20. Bob Avakian. From Ike to Mao And Beyond Insight Press USA:2005 p 245

21. Maoist Internationalist Movement. Stalin page

22 Trotsky’s ghost wandering the White House National Post June 07, 2003


On Leading Light Communism and Religion



On Leading Light Communism and Religion

By Comrade Rizal Roja

Across the globe, religious extremism poses a serious threat to the revolutionary cause. In many third world countries, terrorist mercenary groups, motivated by supposed “religious purity,” are funded and armed by the United States, and other Imperialist countries. These extremists are terrorizing secularists, political activists, ethnic minority groups and other innocent civilians in massive numbers. In India, the imperialists openly fund and arm “Hindu” extremist groups to murder and terrorize Muslims, Buddhists and Christians [1]. In the neighboring countries of Bangladesh and Pakistan, the Imperialists send massive amounts of money and material support to “Islamist” groups to terrorize and murder non-muslims [2][3]. The aim of the Imperialists is a classic “Divide and conquer” strategy which aims to turn the oppressed against each other and weaken unity amongst the people. This strategy is an old one, and has been exploited for centuries by the Imperialists to conquer and exploit the peoples of the colonial and neo-colonial world.

As a result of recent developments in religious extremism on the global stage, a revisionist and “ultra-leftist” line influenced by the growth of the reactionary “New-Atheist” movement, has emerged. This line calls for denouncing religion and outright attacks against comrades and institutions of faith. Individuals and groups supporting this line claim that religion itself is the underlying cause of sectarian terrorism and violence, and that the masses should be berated and criticized for their faith. This line is at best, an erroneous position that absolves capitalism and imperialism of the guilt for the mal-development, impoverishment and suffering of the third world in favour of a simplistic theory that the suffering of the masses can be faulted on their own supposed “superstitious ignorance.” This is also called “blaming the victim.” At its worst, it justifies the supposed “Civilizing force” of the secular Imperialist powers in their destructive wars and terror campaigns against third world people. Either way, this line is both reactionary and harmful to the revolutionary movement.

Along similar lines, many so-called Communists are equally quick to dismiss or attack people of faith. They have been known to quote Marx when he states “Religion is the opiate of the masses,” claiming that religion is simply an addictive drug used by the bourgeoisie to oppress the people. However if one examines Marx’s full statement, the true meaning becomes clear.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

In context, we see that Marx recognized that religion was not simply a series of superstitions and rituals performed by the ignorant, but a tonic for the pains that come with oppression. It is important to recognize that having faith is an attempt by people to soften the harshness of their lives. If we mock the oppressed for attempting to relieve their pain we will be harsh and heartless. We must show the oppressed that Leading Light Communism is their path to true liberation without spitting on their deeply held beliefs.

So what is to be done?

It is important that Leading Lights expose these terrorists operating under the guise of “Religious purity” as spineless traitors and agents of the Imperialists. It is important that we expose their wicked and cowardly lying, and their overarching goal of dominating the poor masses of the third world for their Imperialist masters. However, we must not make the mistake of condescending or attacking the majority of people of faith. We must aim to unite the masses of the third world, and educate them on how to identify and fight these Imperialist-Mercenary charlatans. We must show the religious masses that regardless of their faith, they have more in common with each other than they do differences. We need to ensure that all people can contribute to the struggle. This includes secular forces as well as religious peers, priests, imams, monks, and holy men. All must be won over to Leading Light Communism. Those with an understanding of religious ideas are able to reach the people in a unique way, and are indispensable as comrades in our movement. We must not underestimate the ability of those with a solid understanding of religion and genuine love of the people to be able to communicate with the masses in a language they can understand. While we must maintain secularism as an organization, we still must unite all who can be united, and lead all who can be led. At the same time we must expose the wicked deceptions of the Imperialists and their cowardly butcher-agents who seek to manipulate religious differences in service to Empire. It is the responsibility of Leading Lights to guide the way.





Revisionism of the Cowardly Lion in the First World

Revisionism of the Cowardly Lion in the First Worldfurry


Do Nothingism is one of the biggest forms of revisionism. It is especially prevalent in the First World. Many people recognize that the system is a horror, yet they choose inactivity, surrender. A choice is made not to aid the struggle, not even at arm’s length with a donation. So, these parlor pinks sit back and enjoy the privileges of being part of the global bourgeoisie, part of the First World. Often they convince themselves that they are not part of the problem because they can mouth some revolutionary rhetoric or self-identify as “communists.” To know there is a problem and do nothing about it is a greater moral failing than those in the First World who are blissfully ignorant of the horrors of the world. Choosing the wrong path is, in a sense, worse than simply stumbling down it. Lately, a similar, new type of revisionism is making more and more noise: Cowardly Lionism.

The Cowardly Lion roars about revolution, yet does little to actually aid revolution. The meme1Cowardly Lion is a guerrilla pornographer, who has never seen combat — as though online posting of images and news clippings of far-off battles aids those struggles one iota. The Cowardly Lion spams photos of AK-47s on facebook, yet would not know how to aim one at 50 meters. The Cowardly Lion roars about  people’s war, yet wrecks those who attempt to carry it out. The Cowardly Lion has no respect for those who actually have put their lives on the line, who have spilled blood or risked prison. The Cowardly Lion chooses to wave the red flag, even when waving the red flag undermines solidarity with Third World struggles. The Cowardly Lion chooses to preserve his own identity as a “communist,” he chooses himself, over effectively aiding Third World struggles. Obviously, the Cowardly Lion is not really leadership, communist, nor front-line fighting material, however, the Cowardly Lion won’t even get his identity dirty with anything as mundane as activism that might actually objectively aid Third World struggles, albeit in a minor way: CISPES-type work from the 80s and 90s, anti-militarism, etc. The Cowardly Lion’s ineffective roars are a transparent projection of his own inadequacies more than a real expression of solidarity. Some Cowardly Lions roar about the pigs, but then threaten to  call them when confronted. Some harbor snitches and traitors. The Cowardly Lion roars about security, as though he has anything to hide, as though the state cares about his blog. Cowardly Lions tend to travel in packs.

Cowardly Lions are mostly harmless. At most they wield influence only over those more meme2cowardly or foolish than themselves. They won’t fight. They can invent lies or spread gossip, but they just don’t have the credibility to inflict any harm amongst those that matter. And those who matter already know or won’t care. Would we really want someone in our ranks who could be influenced by a Cowardly Lion? Even when they seek to wreck, their fangs just aren’t that sharp. The Cowardly Lions only become really dangerous when they feel they are backed into a corner. They will snitch if they are too afraid. Otherwise, the jesters jest.

The Cowardly Lion is a kind of parody, mostly just comic relief, a little counter-revolutionary and mostly harmless. By contrast, real revolutionaries are true lions. They will live, fight and die for the people. They carry their lives on their finger tips. They put aside their ego. They put aside their personal differences and jealousies. They admit their limitations. They play the role that is needed and best suits them. They understand duty, discipline, loyalty, respect. Leading Light is a movement of true lions who will give everything, take on any burden, annihilate any obstacle in the way of the world that is to be. Follow the Leading Light. Be the Leading Light! Long Live the Leading Light. Our sun is rising. Our day is coming.

Questions on Marx

Questions on Marxkarl-marx-237x300


1. How important is Karl Marx today?

Karl Marx is one of the greatest revolutionary thinkers of all time. He was the first in a chain of modern revolutionary scientists. Marx was one of the first to begin applying science, or science in a more modern, rigorous form, to the problem of ending all oppression, of making revolution, of reaching communism.

Marx was not the first to try to understand social transformation. Even Aristotle, one of the earliest scientists, sought to understand the processes by which one type of government degenerated into another. Others — Kant, Rousseau, even Hegel, many others — added to our understanding. However, Marx brought a scientific depth to the study of social transformation that had previously never existed. He qualitatively changed the way we look at societies forever. Marx showed society could be understood by looking at its productive forces and social relations. Social transformation, especially revolution, could be understood as the result of the contradictions, the social tensions, that arise between and within these areas. Maoists characterized this teaching as “revolution is a train on two tracks: productive forces and class struggle.” Marx also began to use mathematical models not only to understand the capitalist economy, as bourgeois economists had, but he used them to understand how capitalism generated revolution, capitalism’s own demise. Marx also introduced historicism to our understanding of the world. Marx showed how our ideas about ourselves, each other, our political ideologies, traditions, culture, all play a role in the class struggle, in social transformation. Our ideas about the world are, in a large part, a result of the way power is historically organized in society. For example, Marx famously wrote that the secret of the holy family is the earthly family. In other words, the key to understanding God is understanding our own fathers. We, as a society, project our own family structure onto the universe. We invent God. However, the invention comes to have a life of its own. Humanity forgets that it is the origin of divine authority. Humanity’s creation comes to compel humanity. It comes to reinforce those very patriarchal institutions that had a hand in creating it. These are some of his two greatest and lasting contributions. However, the most important contribution of Marx is the scientific core of his project. All of Marx’s individual predictions could turn out to be false, yet Marxism, as science, is still true. Real revolutionary science, real Marxism, Leading Light Communism, is not about any particular theory or prediction Marx made. When everything is stripped away, real Marxism, Leading Light Communism, is about one thing only: applying the most advanced science to the project of total liberation, ending all oppression, reaching Leading Light Communist.

2. Some people say to make revolution we need to go back to Marx. They say we need to forget Lenin, Mao, and others.. What do you think?

There are those who study Marx’s work the same way religious students memorize the Koran. They think that making revolution today is found hidden in his collected works. They believe that the answers to the questions revolutions face today are only found in books from the 1800s. They do not recognize the long history of proletarian revolution since Marx. They don’t recognize that the world today is not England in 1848. They do not recognize how imperialism has changed the world. For them, Marx is more like a religious figure with all the answers. Marxism for them is not science, but a collection of formulas to be memorized. These people are not Marxists. They are metaphysicians. They do not lead revolutions. Their metaphysics does not lead to power. Mao criticized this religious attitude as book worship.” Real Marxists, Leading Lights, understand that all science evolves, including revolutionary science. For real scientists, Marx is a good beginning, but to end up at Marx alone is a mistake. Marx is a stepping stone to Lenin to Mao to Leading Light Communism.

Would we take a contemporary physicist who only studied Newton to be truly scientific? Of course not. Newton’s physics was surpassed by Einstein and quantum physics. Someone who sought to address the contemporary problems in high physics but restricted himself to Newton would be considered a fool, a crackpot. This does not mean Newton’s work is not important. Of course it is. However, to solve the most difficult problems in the physical sciences requires the sophisticated tools of the most advanced contemporary physics. This does not mean we throw out Newton, but we must go beyond him just as we must go beyond Marx. Just as contemporary physics stands on the shoulders of giants like Einstein and Newton, so too does contemporary revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism, stand on the shoulders of Marx, Lenin, Mao. Real science is always advancing, it is never frozen in time. To see all the world only through the lenses of Marx’s work is to abandon science for metaphysics, for religion. We must always push forward into the future. Recovering the real scientific core of Marxism, dropping the dogma, is central to Leading Light Communism.

3. Some people say a true Marxist society has never existed. What is your response?

There is the old joke about the person who supports socialism everywhere, except where it has existed. People can claim anything. Maoists used to speak of those who wave the red flag to oppose the red flag. There are plenty of people who claim to be Marxist, yet they reject the whole history of Marxist revolution. They support Marxism everywhere, except in the real world.

Lenin led a revolution that covered a sixth of the world’s land mass. His revolution involved a dozen nations and languages. The Bolshevik revolution spoke to the world. All over the world people looked to the Soviet Union. It was the first time the proletariat had a sustained hold on political power. Even though the great social experiment of the Soviet Union resulted in mistakes, it also resulted in many victories. Some idealist utopians criticize the Soviet Union because it was not perfect. Of course it was not perfect. It was the first time the proletariat had a real grip on power. The poor people, for the first time in history, were organizing society themselves. Even with no roadmap, look at all they accomplished. In a couple decades, the most backward part of Europe emerged as a modern, global superpower. They created a large scale planned economy for the first time. They empowered workers, poor farmers, women, oppressed nationalities. They created a new proletarian culture. They saved the world from Hitler’s fascist nightmare. Even so, socialism was reversed there. Mao too led a revolution that shook the world. A quarter of humanity stood up. They threw off the two mountains that weighed on the Chinese people: feudalism and imperialism. Then Mao led the masses in the attempt to reach higher levels of socialism. Mao’s revolution touched the lives of a quarter of all women on the planet. Women were led out of feudal bondage into a new world of equality. Feudalism was smashed for all Chinese people. Grassroots and workplace democracy flourished. China shed off its feudal past. It emerged as a world power. Just like in the Soviet Union, mistakes were made, but people mostly prospered. People did better. Public education, health care, literacy. Life expectancy doubled for both the Soviet and Chinese masses. Ordinary people were had real power for the first time. They were reorganizing society to create a better future for their children. People all over the world were inspired even though these great social experiments failed. Spin off revolutions and movements arose across the world. How can someone claim to be a revolutionary scientist yet reject every revolution that has ever happened?

Those who reject the this tradition of revolution have never had any success. Those who reject Lenin and revolutionary science have never made revolutionary anywhere. Think about it. They have not made revolution in a single country on the whole planet. They have not even come close. They claim to be revolutionaries, yet they have never made revolution. They claim to be scientists, yet they ignore the entire history of revolution. The reality is that such people teach the masses how to lose, not how to win.

The masses are being crushed. The masses are sick of failure. Leading Lights do not teach failure. We teach the masses how to win. To win, we need to learn from all those who came before us. Revolutionary science is about success, not failure. Leading Light Communism is about victory.

4. Some say that only workers or revolutionary workers can be communists. Is that true?

Of course not. Think about how silly that is. Marx himself was not a member of the industrial working class. Engels, in fact, was a member of the bourgeoisie. Neither Lenin, Mao, or Lin Biao were from the industrial working class. Che Guevara was not either. Most of the past Leading Lights, the great revolutionary leaders, were not from the industrial working class. Stalin was probably the closest to being an industrial worker. During his days as an industrial worker, he did union organizing for the Bolsheviks. Most Leading Lights come from the upper or middle strata or from mixed class backgrounds. The reason for this is that Leading Lights are conduits who bring science to the masses.. To do this, they must have one foot in the world of science, the world of intellectuals, education and privilege. To be in this world requires a lot of free time to study and pursue intellectual goals. This is a world that requires leisure time that poor peoples do not often have. Poor people have to spend all their time trying to survive. The poor spend much of their time keeping their families alive. In addition, the great leaders must have one foot in the world of the masses. They must have build trust with poor communities. This is so science can move through the leaders from the intellectual world to the world of the poor. And, in this process, the science is transformed into a weapon that the masses can use to understand their own exploitation and what must be done to liberate themselves.

With communist leadership workers can be revolutionary. Without communist leadership workers can sometimes be very reactionary. Many of Hitler’s supporters were industrial workers, for example. Like other classes, workers can be racist, sexist, and hold reactionary ideas. Workers, like other classes, pursue their short and middle-term class interest, which do not always align with revolution. They often seek only higher wages and reformist concessions from the capitalists, which is not always revolutionary. As Leading Lights like Engels and Lenin famously pointed out, the spontaneous struggles of the workers do not lead to revolution. Communist consciousness does not spontaneously arise on its own. Spontaneity only leads to reformism and defeat. Rather, the worker must have his eyes opened by revolutionary science. He must see through the illusions of the bourgeois world. Armed with revolutionary science, the worker slays all the illusions of the enemy. The worker must come to see that wage and reformist struggles are limited. The worker must come to see that he has the power to conquer the world. The worker then understands that his long-term interest is in revolution, not reform. He realizes that his deepest interest is in seizing power, creating a whole new world, creating Leading Light Communism. The worker realizes that spontaneous and reformist struggles are sometimes used to pacify him. The capitalists give the workers crumbs, yet the capitalists keep the cake. The worker comes to see how reformist unions sometimes work hand-in-hand with the capitalists. The worker comes to realize that reformist and spontaneous struggles should be tied to a deeper revolutionary plan. The worker comes to realize that short-term interests, wage and reformist struggles, must be linked to the long-term interest of reaching Leading Light Communism. If short-term struggles are not linked to the long-term struggle for communism, then the workers will never have real power.

It is science that opens the eyes of the workers. This science comes to the worker’s movement from outside. It enters the worker’s movement through Leading Lights, through revolutionary organization. The worker comes to realize that revolutionary leadership, Leading Light Communist leadership and organization, is absolutely necessary. The worker comes to recognize the limitations of his spontaneous and reformist practice. He comes to see that the whole cake can be his if he abandons workerist identity politics. He comes to see that the whole world can be his if he places politics, revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism, in command.

Real communists understand that politics must be in command, not identity. In fact, communism is about overcoming the limitations of the spontaneous worker’s movement and its leadership.

Anyone from any class can be a communist as long as they uphold the most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism and as long as they prove themselves through practice.

5. What did Marx mean when he wrote of the “fetish character” of the commodity?

Fetish character just means that even though the commodity, including its value, is created by human activity, people tend to view its existence and the laws that govern them as external, objective, independent of human existence. Thus the commodity is similar to God, for example. Humans create God. This is what Marx meant when he said the secret of the holy family is the earthly family. God is a kind of father figure we project onto the universe. Even though God’s origin can be traced to patriarchal social relations, humans tend to see God as something that is real and independent of human existence. God is, in reality, a social construct that comes to have power over human society. Similarly, commodities only have value because of the activity of humans, yet this fact is obscured to most people, just as God’s origin is obscured. Just as people come to impart power to God, they impart a kind of independent power to commodities and the laws that govern them even though both are really just social constructions.

Also, looking at the commodity, workers become alienated from the product of the labor, from the objects they created for the market. They see commodities as independent. The labor of the worker is forgotten as he becomes a slave to his own creation. Workers do not see that they are the origin of value and profit, not the capitalist.  People see the laws of economics associated with commodities as eternal, unchanging, as part of the universe even though it is all a product of human activity. Thus they see capitalism as eternal, unchanging even though capitalism is really just a product of social activity that can be changed. People tend to see the laws of capitalism as eternal even though other systems existed before capitalism and other systems will exist after it. “Fetish character” is a kind of fake, false “objectivity” that we impart to the objects that we, as a society, create. Aristotle said, “man is a social animal.” Marx did great work studying this aspect of our character.

Part of the role of the revolutionary, the vanguard, the Leading Light, is to wake the masses up, to show them that all of society is their creation. This is the role of revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism. It is a sword that destroys all illusions. It shows the masses the truth. It says, “you are the creators! You are the masters of your own destiny! You have the real power if you take it! The future is yours!”

6. Why did Marx say “I am not a Marxist”?

It is in Engels’ work that the famous quote by Marx appears. In his quote, Marx was not repudiating his work. Rather, Marx was criticizing those in France who were calling themselves “Marxist.” Engels called them “so-called Marxists.” The statement is a criticism of revisionism. Marx’s point is that if these revisionists are Marxists, then I am not a Marxist, not a revisionist, not a counter-revolutionary.  During the Cultural Revolution in China, revolutionaries warned of “those who waved the red flag to oppose the red flag.” Anyone can raise a red flag. Anyone can call themselves anything: “communist,” “socialist,” “Marxist,” “Maoist,” “revolutionary,” etc. Revolutionary rhetoric can be spouted by anyone. The enemy uses many disguises. This is why we cannot take anyone at face value. Who is and is not a true revolutionary, a Leading Light, is not measured by something as superficial as rhetoric. Image is not what matters. What matters is content. Grasp of revolutionary science is one measure. Politics in command. And, at least as important, is practice. Sacrifice matters. Loyalty matters. Discipline matters. Only those who are really willing to live and die for our future, for Global People’s War, for total liberation, are Leading Lights.

Today, we are attacked on many sides. State agents, who wear the mask of Marx, of Lenin, of Mao, attack the people’s movement. Fools, fakes who fly red flags, spread the most vicious lies about true revolutionaries. We must remember what the Chinese revolutionaries cautioned: “be careful not to board a pirate ship.” There are many false paths, but only one true path. Those who are truly serious about liberating our world will find their way to us. Those who are the most dedicated will find themselves marching with us. We have faith in the people.


Notes on today’s Maoists who uphold Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge

Notes on today’s Maoists who uphold Pol Pot and the Khmer RougeMTIwNjA4NjMzOTQzOTgzNjI4


The Communist Party of India (Maoist) is one of many democratic, progressive, anti-imperialist, groups fighting the Indian state, a part of the global empire. They are one of many movements fighting for the liberation of the poor in the second most populous country on Earth. They are a movement that deserves our critical support even though, as of today, their organization has refused to give up the dogmatism of the past. One example of this dogmatism is their continued embrace of the Khmer Rouge as the last genuine communist movement with state power.  And, for Maoists, upholding Mao’s theories is the dividing line between Marxism versus revisionism. So, since, according to the CPI (Maoist), only fellow Maoists are communists in the present era, it stands to reason they also regard the Khmer Rouge of the past and Democratic Kampuchea as Maoist. Around 2002, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) highlights the Khmer Rouge in key documents, including their basic course on Maoism for their cadre:

“After the death of Mao in 1976, the capitalist roaders who had remained in the party staged a coup under the leadership of the arch revisionist Deng Tsiao-ping and took over the control of the party under the nominal leadership of Hua Kuo-feng, a so-called centrist. As Mao had often taught, with political control going over to the hands of the revisionists the socialist base had gone out of the hands of the proletariat. At the same time the leadership of the Albanian Party of Labour switched over to an opportunist line attacking Mao Tse-tung Thought and projecting Mao as a petty bourgeois revolutionary. Though the Khmer Rouge continued to hold power in Kampuchea they were waging a constant struggle against the internal and external enemies of the Revolution and were yet to emerge from the economic ravages of war and consolidate their rule when they were defeated by the Soviet backed Vietnamese Army.” (1)

According to the CPI (Maoist), the Khmer Rouge were the last remaining communist organization with state power:

“The mid-70s saw the final overthrow of many long standing colonial regimes after long guerrilla wars. Thus the US and their puppets were thrown out of Vietnam, Kampuchea and Laos in 1975. In Africa the republics of Mozambique, Angola, Ethiopia, Congo, and Benin were formed in this period. However most of these countries were taken over by puppets or satellites of the new imperialism – Soviet social imperialism. A prominent exception was Kampuchea, where genuine communist revolutionaries – the Khmer Rouge – remained independent until invaded in 1978 by Vietnam on the behest of the Soviet imperialists.” (2)

On the anniversary of Mao’s birthday, December 26,  2006, the Central Committee of the CPI (Maoist) further stated at an international conference:

“Many communist movements were ruthlessly crushed as in Kampuchea. Now, after over 150 years of the communist movement we can count the number of genuine communist movements with some mass base on our finger-tips. ” (3)

Furthermore, according to some of their critics, People’s War Group,  the main predecessor group of the CPI (Maoist), did not just praise the Khmer Rouge in print, but distributed Pol Pot badges. Thus they promoted Pol Pot’s cult of personality.  An editorial in Dalit Voice reports:

“If DV can also get hold of the erstwhile PWG’s literature boasting of how it distributed Pol Pot badges, our savarna maoists (in this context, a reference to the CPI (Maoist) and its predecessors – ed.) will be totally exposed globally.” (4)

The CPI (Maoist) are not the only Maoists who express for their admiration of the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge are popular amongst some of the smaller Gonzaloist and Gonzaloist-influenced sects. For example, a Panamanian Gonzaloist-influenced blog reproduces a document that states:

“The experience of the Khmer Rouge revolution is unprecedented and it shows that young people can also do great revolutions and these are not huge heritage of countries or world leaders. There are also ‘small’ leaders who acquire greatness but their victories pretend to be ignored and maligned worse.” (5)

The Panamian blog reproduce a video entitled “Kampuchea :Honor and glory to the beloved Comrade Pol Pot, a communist steel and his gift to his beloved Kampuchean people!”  (6)  Brazilian Gonzaloists also celebrate Pol Pot:

“Today, we celebrate the 87th birth anniversary of the historic cambodian communist leader, Comrade Pol Pot (1925-1998).” (7)

Thus there is a strange convergence of opinion on this point between the CPI (Maoist), some Gonzaloist and Gonzaloist-influenced sects, and the imperialist media. The former praise the Khmer Rouge as “communist.” At the same time, the imperialists pin the “Maoist” and “communist” label on the Khmer Rouge as a way to taint Maoism and communism as a whole. For example, the reactionary media used to refer to the Communist Party of Peru as “the Khmer Rouge of Latin America.”

Several points must be made:

1. Imperialism, not the Khmer Rouge, was the main perpetrator of violence against the peoples of Kampuchea. More bombs were dropped on Indochina during the years of the Vietnam War than were dropped in every country in World War 2. The violence inflicted by imperialism on the peoples of Kampuchea, Vietnam, and Laos reached genocidal levels. Millions were killed by the imperialists. By 1975, already an estimated 10% of the Kampuchean population– 600,000 had died as a result of the Vietnam War. (8) When the Khmer Rouge took power in April in 1975, the country had been devastated. The cities had swelled from refugees fleeing the bombing of the countryside. Food production was disrupted. The Khmer Rouge inherited a crisis situation where they had to attempt social transformation in a country that was ruined and in a country that was under constant threat by imperialists. We must never forget that imperialism caused the most harm to the Kampuchean people, not the Khmer Rouge.

2. The Khmer Rouge were an extremely opportunist movement. They only claimed to be “Maoist” after Mao had died. And they only claimed to be “Maoist” to get aid from the post-Mao, revisionist regime in China. In fact, the Khmer Rouge did not claim to be Maoist in their internal documents or to their domestic audience. Furthermore, the Khmer Rouge denounced the “Gang of Four,” arguably the last remaining leftists in the Chinese Communist Party, as “counter-revolutionary.” Furthermore, the Khmer Rouge praised the revisionist leadership of Hua Guofeng and Deng Xiaoping in an effort to secure support. (9)

3. Despite their rhetoric of independence and self reliance, the Khmer Rouge always aligned politically with whatever forces would give them aid. This opportunism led them into supporting the revisionists in China when the Chinese were giving them support. Later, this opportunism led them into an alliance with Western imperialism. The United States delivered aid to the Khmer Rouge and other anti-Vietnamese and anti-Soviet forces after the Khmer Rouge were driven from power in 1979. It was the United States that was instrumental in keeping The Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea, which included the Khmer Rouge, as the official representative of Kampuchea at the United Nations up until 1993. As part of their opportunism, the Khmer Rouge quickly dropped the communist label after they were deposed in 1979. In his last interview before his death, Pol Pot was honest about his disregard for communism:

“When I die, my only wish is that Cambodia remain Cambodia and belong to the West. It is over for communism, and I want to stress that… When I say Cambodia {should} be part of the West, I mean that if you belong to the West, at least there is no fascist regime.” (10)

The reality is that the Khmer Rouge were never a real communist organization. Rather, they were a nationalist organization that opportunistically used communist rhetoric and symbols to secure aid. And, when China no longer cared about communist rhetoric, the Khmer Rouge dropped the communist rhetoric altogether in an attempt to befriend Western imperialism, especially the United States.

4. The way that the Khmer Rouge understood socialist construction was not unlike some of the Chinese revisionists. They placed extreme emphasis on economic development carried out by a terrorized, disciplined, and docile population. They embraced a version of the revisionist Theory of the Productive Forces, which overemphasizes economic and technological development at the expense of class struggle. They embraced crackpot schemes to propel Kampuchea forward that ended in disaster. Although their developmental schemes failed miserably, their model put development and economic prosperity at the forefront, not class struggle that would prepare the masses for taking power.

Even though they used rhetoric from China to describe their model, they modified Chinese slogans to suggest their approach would outdo even the Chinese. Thus they claimed to outdo the Chinese “Great Leap Forward” with their own Khmer “Super Great Leap Forward.” They claimed that their Khmer revolution was unprecedented. There is an underlying nationalist chauvinism in this bombast, in their false claim to have outdone previous revolutions, especially the revolutions of their Chinese, Maoist neighbors. Thus like many other movements nationalism accompanied developmentalism at the expense of revolution.

5. The communist movement had always placed great emphasis on ideological education. This was especially true of Mao’s revolution, which elevated the importance of ideology to a whole new level. Ideological education is one of the main forms of class struggle. However, not all ideological education is the same. At its best moments, the Chinese Maoist efforts of ideological remolding were ones that actively involved the population. The masses were not simply told what was right and wrong. Rather, the masses were motivated to actively question many aspects of the system. Top leaders, even President Liu Shaoqi, were forced to answer questions before the masses during the Cultural Revolution. Big debates on the nature of the revolution, history, aesthetics, and other topics were published in the Chinese press. The Chinese masses were encouraged to discuss and debate the issues. Although the Chinese experience was not perfect, at its best moments, it promoted Socratic questioning, open and free criticism, and science over the blind obedience of Confucianism. Along with this, the Chinese Communist Party was patient with masses. The Communist Party of China criticized the errors of commandism and Confucianism, both of which denied the ability of the masses to think for themselves and lead themselves. In its best moments, the Chinese Communist Party recognized that it was necessary to understand that to transform the masses, it is necessary to take a gradualist approach. This principle is also behind the Maoist leadership method of mass line. Communist leadership must be humble and patient enough to meet the masses where they are. Only by coming to the masses with patience and humility can the trust of the masses be won so that the masses become open to transformation by communist leadership. This principle is also behind the gradualist approach of Maoist collectivization of agriculture, which happened in stages: New Democracy, collectives, then People’s Communes. This is part of the meaning behind the most famous Maoist slogan: “Serve the people.”

By contrast, in an effort to outdo the Chinese and previous revolutions, to re-establish a golden age of Khmer greatness, the Khmer Rouge did away with Maoist gradualism. The most infamous practice of the Khmer Rouge was the emptying of cities. Whole populations of cities were labeled as “new people,” and treated like class enemies. They were stripped of their possessions and marched from the cities to the countryside where they labored at bayonet point. Violence and control of the food supply were two ways they motivated the population. One Khmer Rouge slogan stated: “Hunger is the most effective disease.” (11) The Khmer Rouge were also known to persecute minorities. The Khmer Rouge seemed more interested in obedience than transformation of the population to prepare it for active leadership. This is reflected in the Khmer Rouge’s descriptions of themselves. Even after they had taken power, the Khmer Rouge, for a long time, did not even tell the population that they claimed to be a communist party. Instead, they referred to themselves simply as “Angkar” or “Organization.” Also, they described themselves as omniscient, invincible, immortal. This high-handedness  is reflected in some of their slogans:

“Let Angkar pour truth into your head.”

“Angkar has [the many] eyes of the pineapple.”

The Khmer Rouge’s attitude toward dissent was much different than Mao’s. The Chinese Cultural Revolutionaries emphasized “big debates,” protests, power seizures, criticism, etc. By contrast, the Khmer Rouge looked on dissent very critically:

“You can arrest someone by mistake; never release him by mistake.”

“Better to kill an innocent by mistake than spare an enemy by mistake.”

The terroristic aspect of the Khmer Rouge is reflected in several slogans that threaten death upon the population:

“He who protests is an enemy; he who opposes is a corpse.”

“If someone is very hungry, the Angkar will take him where he will be stuffed with food.”

“If you wish to live exactly as you please, the Angkar will put aside a small piece of land for you.”

“No gain in keeping, no loss in weeding out,” (also rendered: “To destroy you is no loss, to preserve you is no gain.” – ed)  (12)

Think of how different the Khmer Rouge’s approach is to Mao’s approach. Written in April, 1956, Mao’s “Ten Major Relationships” was produced amid reports of excessive executions during the Stalin era in the Soviet Union:

“We must keep up the policy which we started in Yenan: ‘No executions and few arrests’. There are some whom we do not execute, not because they have done nothing to deserve death, but because killing them would bring no advantage, whereas sparing their lives would. What harm is there in not executing people? Those amenable to labour reform should go and do labour reform, so that rubbish can be transformed in something useful.

Besides, people’s heads are not like leeks. When you cut them off, they will not grow again. If you cut off a head wrongly, there is no way of rectifying the mistake even if you want to.

If government departments were to adopt a policy of no executions in their work of suppressing counter-revolutionaries, this still would not prevent us from taking counter-revolution seriously. Moreover it would ensure that we would not make mistakes, or if we did they could be corrected. This would calm many people.

If we do not execute people, we must feed them. So we should give all counter-revolutionaries way out of their impasse. This will be helpful to the people’s cause and to our image abroad.

The suppression of counter-revolution still requires a long period of hard work. None of us may relax our efforts.” (13)

This injunction by Mao against summary executions reflects how the Chinese revolutionaries emphasized the importance of “uniting all who could be united,” “big debates,” mass line, populism, patience and humility when dealing with not only the masses, but even many enemies.

Serve the people truth, not falsehood

In the 1970s, during and after Mao’s death, the Chinese press referred to the Khmer Rouge in glowing terms. However, the Chinese press referred to numerous states and movements in a similar way. For example, numerous Eastern European and national liberation movements were labeled “socialist” by the Chinese even though such regimes and movements would not be considered as such by Maoist nor Leading Light standards. When examined closely, the Khmer Rouge has never deserved the label. Just as there are communist movements that have adopted national liberation as a means of advancing communism, there are also nationalist movements that have adopted communist rhetoric and policies as a way to gain support in the pursuit of purely nationalist goals. The Khmer Rouge are the latter, not the former. Although the Khmer Rouge was once an anti-imperialist movement that drove the United States out of Kampuchea, like other narrowly nationalist movements, they later opportunistically aligned with the imperialists and revisionist anti-communists when it suited their purposes.

It is important today to come to terms with the real history of revolutionary and national liberation movements. Just because a movement claims to be “revolutionary” or “communist” does not make it true. There is a long history of movements that “wave the red flag to oppose the red flag.” Revolutionaries in China used to warn: “Be careful not to board a pirate ship.” Just because Beijing Review in the 1970s identified the Khmer Rouge in such a way does not mean they were. If today’s Maoist movement is ever going to advance scientifically, then it must deal honestly with history. One of the irony of ironies is that many of the same Maoists who uphold Pol Pot denounce Lin Biao as a Confucian and authoritarian with no real evidence at all. Such dogmatism would be funny if it weren’t so sad, if lives were not on the line.

Mao himself noted the importance of the correct, scientific line:

“The correctness or otherwise of the ideological and political line decides everything. When the Party’s line is correct, then everything will come its way. If it has no followers, then it can have followers; if it has no guns, then it can have guns; if it has no political power, then it can have political power. If its line is not correct, even what it has it may lose. The line is a net rope. When it is pulled, the whole net opens out.” (14)

The correct, scientific line is the key to victory. The incorrect line only leads to defeat. It is a sign of the weakness of the Maoist movement today that even though they claim to be scientific and materialist, the reality is that they are dogmatic, metaphysical, idealists that share much in common with religious sects. The dogmatic embrace of the Khmer Rouge by a Maoist organization so prestigious as the CPI (Maoist) reflects the sad state of affairs. Thus the claim by Maoism that it is the highest stage of revolutionary theory rings hallow today. Of today’s Maoist bombast, perhaps Mao would repeat his famous words: “It is an empty drum that beats the loudest.”

We can do better. If we are to initiate the next great wave of revolution, it is necessary to articulate a truly liberating vision of the future. It is also necessary that our vision of the future be based on genuine science, not old dogma. Those who uphold the Khmer Rouge today set themselves at odds with the advances of revolutionary science. We hope that those Maoists who continue to uphold the Khmer Rouge correct their line on this and other questions. We encourage the remnants of the Maoist movement to advance to the next, highest level of revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism. The masses deserve the best.


  2. ibid.
  3. The Worker, #11, July 2007, pp. 39-47.
  9. ibid.
  11. Locard, Henri. Pol Pot’s Little Red Book: The Sayings of Angkar. Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai, 2004
  12. ibid.
  13. Mao Zedong, “On Ten Major Relationships,” April 1956

First Worldism in the imperialist countries is Social Fascism

First Worldism in the imperialist countries is Social Fascismbigstock_Suburbs__2977023_2

by ModernMarxist


There is a reason why Third Worldists refer to First Worldists in the imperialist countries as “social fascists.” We are living in a day and age where imperialism has advanced capitalist centralization of wealth on a global level. The rich countries rape, plunder, pillage, impoverish and enslave the poor countries, coercing and bombing them into submission. If the “leaders” of the third world will not sell out their people and submit their resources and labor to the imperialists, their countries are subject to invasion, slaughter, and ultimately destruction. This is not some kind of secret that only a chosen few know; there are no conspiracy theories or men in suits lobbying in smoke filled rooms. This is common knowledge. Unfortunately, it is common knowledge which, today, few in the First World choose to think about or even acknowledge. Today, the First World’s primary source of wealth and labor is the Third World. When First World peoples, especially First World workers, want more, when they want an increase in their living standards, they are taking that new barbecue or 3D flat-screen right out of the mouths of Third World peoples. They are using luxury and commodity fetishism to rob the Third World of simple austerity measures.  They are taking more and more from those who are already barely surviving: those who produce but cannot eat from the fruit of their labor.

During his life, Marx spoke of what criteria defines who is of the proletariat and who is of the bourgeoisie. He described the proletariat as a class receiving far less than the value of their labor – of having nothing to sell but their labor and subsequently being alienated from their labor. This does not describe the vast majority of First World peoples. This does define, however, the majority of Third World peoples. One important criterion of the bourgeoisie is consuming much but producing little or nothing in terms of valuable labor. This is very descriptive of most First World peoples, even those on the lowest strata (who are in and of themselves a minority) in the First World. We can gather from this (as well as all other Marxist criteria of what defines each class) that today’s class contradiction is a global one in the current age of globalization and US hegemony. Today there is a global proletariat struggling to survive under the yolk of a global bourgeoisie. It is the duty of a communist to struggle against the bourgeoise in support of proletarian revolution, even if it means becoming a class traitor.

One who does not even recognize these global class contradictions cannot possibly call oneself a communist. It is laughable that today’s First World “communist” parties are so willing to describe themselves as Marxist (or indeed anything even leftist) when they not only fail to recognize today’s material conditions, the way imperialism has changed the game, but they also fail to support the global proletariat against the global bourgeoisie. In fact (and this is almost shockingly dim), these “communist” parties support the global bourgeoisie in their parasitic devouring of the Third World peoples, the global proletariat.  They are the labor aristocracy.  They are completely bought off by imperialism. They call for more. More for First World peoples. More wages. More benefits. More at the expense of those who have nothing. Those who truly have nothing to lose but their chains.

In order to wage a People’s War (which some “communist” parties, hilariously, actually have the gall to say might happen in the First World), or even begin any sort of proletarian revolutionary action, you don’t just need a proletariat (which does not exist in any revolutionary form in the First World), but you also need a social base. People have to desire and work for a revolution, because a communist revolution doesn’t just closely involve common people, but it is subsequently composed of the efforts of common people. First World peoples are asleep. They are too busy wallowing in their decadence and consumerism. First World peoples do not make the basis for revolution. They are not concerned with the proletariat. This is a very basic truth. To refuse to acknowledge this is not science. It is not Marxism. To refuse to acknowledge this is to have your head buried in dogma, the dogmatic idea that all workers are exploited and oppressed, regardless of material conditions.

First Worldists are social fascists because they do not want to force First World peoples to give up their privilege. They do not want to give the Third World back what rightfully belongs to them. They want to establish another Third Reich: material prosperity at the expense of others. The only difference is that First World imperialism is based on bourgeois decadence and a standard of living exponentially higher than that of any imperialist power in history. The First Worldists will not halt imperialism. They are the beneficiaries of imperialism.  Any First World “revolution” by any First World “socialist” movement would be social imperialism.  The First World simply will not receive more from true non-imperialistic socialism: really, they would receive less.  The First Worldists will not and would not do what needs to be done to truly establish socialism, to truly take the world on the road to communism. They remain content consuming more while those they take from starve and die, living under the iron gauntlet of imperialism. First Worldists are enemies of equality and enemies of the global proletariat, regardless of whether or not they paint their imperialism red or blue or gold or white or black.

Historically, communist revolution has always come from the darkest of places. It has always come from those who truly had nothing to lose but their chains. It came from those who, for them, revolution meant survival; for those who fought so that their children might be able to live decent, dignified and meaningful lives. Clean, sanitary water. Food. Clothes. Housing that doesn’t blow away or crumble in front of weather, or tanks. Education. Health care. Never has a communist revolution occurred in the rich countries, where the majority of its people could live without much concern for daily needs. In the rich imperialist counties, a different kind of revolution occurred once it’s people’s living standards took a drop. Once the imperialist privilege of these spoiled populations was threatened, they turned to fascism and bourgeois nationalism. They allied with the bourgeoisie, not the proletariat. The most reactionary elements of society took control and reorganized their economies and societies in order to not just allow but demand imperialism. Death was the answer to everything.

First Worldist “communists” are not communists at all. First Worldists in the imperialist countries are social fascists and social imperialists, demanding more for their own people, and actively working to oppress and exploit others to maintain imperialist privilege. They reject science and today’s reality and material conditions, clinging childishly to dogma and revisionism. Socialist redistribution of wealth on a global level is not in the First Worldists’ interests. “Revisionism” means to cut the revolutionary heart out of communism, and that is exactly what First Worldists do. Leading Light Communists are the only real communists today. Be a Leading Light. Support real communism, not First World revisionism.

On fakes, again

On fakes, again*klowncommxsma-1

by Leading Light Shubel Morgan


First Worldism is lethal for the international proletariat. As imperialism’s primary ideological weapon against the Third World, First Worldism’s goal is the ideological disarmament of the international proletariat.

You can think of the ideology of First Worldism in very simple terms. It’s a simple lie: that the whole world can live at the rich standards of First Worlders, and that the Third World should forget class struggle and by other means reach out for this bogus brass ring.

The only grain of truth in this lie, the grain of truth which sells the lie itself, is that First Worlders do indeed live richly. All First Worlders are of course part of the world’s richest 15%. Most Amerikkkans, for example, are part of the world’s richest 10%. (We won’t even trouble ourselves to provide documentation of these claims here. We’ve documented these particular claims over and over again. Our First Worldist critics have never once challenged that documentation – of course they can’t – so we’ll just consider our claims of First World population wealth as established and agreed upon fact.)

So yes, a First World standard of living is the standard of living of the global rich – the world minority, the world bourgeoisie. The lie of First Worldism, though, is the claim that those riches have been obtained by some means other than class struggle. In particular, class struggle against the world’s oppressed and exploited majority. The lie of First Worldism is that First World riches have not been stolen from the world majority but are a result of First Worlders being “productive” and “technological.”

The ideological swindle of  First Worldism is aimed at turning the proletariat away from class struggle against their First World exploiters and toward some vague “technological” solution to Third World impoverishment, with the parasite We$t, of course, always at the ready to lend their imperialist “expertise.” It’s the same old lie that the bourgeoisie has always peddled to the proletariat: just act right, and you can someday live like us. Same old lie, global scale.

Imperialism works overtime to crush the international proletariat militarily and economically. But the imperial We$t has plenty of stolen resorces left over to devote to ideological war against the Third World. Take First World cultural imperialism. Which has as its main aim the dissemination of the deadly ideology of First Worldism to the international proletariat. Each First World movie, magazine, pop song, burger or T-shirt parades the riches of First Worlders before the Third World masses in hopes of duping them into First Worldism and detouring them from class struggle. Detouring them to defeat and death.

And, for the more politically advanced in the Third World, imperialism has the ideological weapon of fake, klown “communism” to push First Worldism to potential proletarian leaders. These klown “communists” routinely adorn themselves with the nominal symbols of genuine communism. They sport Marx or Lenin or Mao in their costume declarations. They even call themselves Marxists, or Leninists, or Maoists, or communists.

But they’re relentless in denying that the world’s richest people (the First World populations) got those riches through exploitation. That denies the most fundamental truth of Marxism, it denies class struggle, it’s First Worldism.

So whatever their political costume, these “communists” are in fact First Worldist klowns.

The Third World will only win through genuine communism. Today, that’s Leading Light Communism. Today, it’s either klown “communist” First Worldism or L. Some organizations and individuals may appear “undecided” or “ambivalent” in this choice. Such organizations and individuals are sometimes called “fence sitters.” That’s a misnomer. There’s no fucking fence.

* This article was originally published in March 3, 2010 by Leading Light Shubel Morgan. We have reproduced his work here with slight edits.

Understanding the Islamic State, ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq

Understanding the Islamic State, ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraqislamic_state_of_iraq


The Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (Al Qaeda in Iraq, Islamic State in Iraq, ISIS or ISIL, the Islamic State) has gone through numerous incarnations. In the past, it was known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq.” And today, its leader, previously known as “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” calls himself “Caliph Ibrahim,” the supreme leader of a new, landlocked Sunni caliphate that spans the Sunni areas of northern Iraq and northern Syria. He has declared that it is the duty of all Muslims to support and follow him and his Islamic State. To understand the nature of the ISIS, it is important to understand its methods, its history, its social base, its role in the class struggle.

It was under the previous leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS, developed its highly sectarian strategy. The main targets of ISIS’ sectarianism are the Shia, other non-Sunni populations, and oppressed nationalities such as the Kurds. When ISIS was known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” they pursued a strategy of seeking to cause a civil war between the Sunni and Shia in Iraq, a strategy that continues to this day. The 2006 attack on the Al ‘Askarī Shrine, one of the holiest sites in all of Shia Islam, was attributed to Al Qaeda in Iraq. Although they denied responsibility after a backlash of public opinion against them, the attack on the shrine fits with a pattern of attacks on Shia mosques, shrines, and other non-Sunni holy sites that continues to this day. ISIS’ approach prioritizes sectarian attacks and immediate imposition of sharia, Islamic law, over any other conflicts. In 2005, even the emir of Al Qaeda central, Ayman al Zawahiri, questioned the prioritization of sectarianism Al Qaeda in Iraq.

“We must repeat what we mentioned previously, that the majority of Muslims don’t comprehend this and possibly could not even imagine it. For that reason, many of your Muslim admirers amongst the common folk are wondering about your attacks on the Shia. The sharpness of this questioning increases when the attacks are on one of their mosques, and it increases more when the attacks are on the mausoleum of Imam Ali Bin Abi Talib, may God honor him. My opinion is that this matter won’t be acceptable to the Muslim populace however much you have tried to explain it, and aversion to this will continue.

Indeed, questions will circulate among Mujahideen circles and their opinion makers about the correctness of this conflict with the Shia at this time. Is it something that is unavoidable? Or, is it something can be put off until the force of the Mujahideen movement in Iraq gets stronger? And if some of the operations were necessary for self-defense, were all of the operations necessary? Or, were there some operations that weren’t called for?” (1)

At the time, ISIS’s strategy hoped to create chaos in order to cause a US withdrawal from Iraq. Despite their rhetoric and actions, their opposition to imperialism was not principled. They were not opposed to imperialism per se, rather they are opposed to their and the Iraqi Sunni population’s relatively weak position within the imperial system. Their armed struggle was not to throw off the yoke of imperialism, but it was ultimately about elevating themselves and those they represent within the empire. Their armed struggle would become a kind of armed reformism, an armed negotiation, with empire. Even if this was not clear at the beginnings of their movement, it is certainly clear with hindsight.

ISIS’ terror is not just directed at the Shia. ISIS has carried out genocidal policies against non-Sunnis along with a terror imposed on its own Sunni constituency. Eventually, the tide turned against “Al Qaeda in Iraq” when their own Sunni constituency revolted against them around 2007. This is referred to as the “Sunni Awakening” in the imperial media. This resulted from imperial bribes offered to Sunni tribes and it resulted from a backlash against ISIS’ sectarianism and harsh imposition of sharia: banning many traditional practices, censorship, beatings, executions, notorious beheadings, bombing of civilians. This sectarian strategy continued as ISIS intervened in the Syrian civil war. During the Syrian civil war, ISIS quickly marginalized other rebel factions, including other jihadi groups, who were fighting the Assad regime. As the most effective sect, they carved out a semi-state governed by sharia that spanned the Sunni areas of northern Syria and Iraq. Similar to their actions in Iraq, their genocidal, sectarian strategy in Syria targeted Alawi, Shia, Christian, and Kurdish populations with terror and violence. The sectarianism of the Syrian rebel groups was often met with sectarian violence on the part of the Assad regime against Sunni populations in places like Aleppo, where the regime indiscriminately bombed and shelled the population.

ISIn 2014, ISIS was IS-300x192ascending rapidly. They declared themselves the new Sunni caliphate and their leader declared himself Caliph of the “Islamic State.” After stabilizing their hold on parts of northern Syria, they played a major part in overrunning significant parts of Iraq, including Mosul and Tikrit. The rapid rise of the Islamic State was aided by many factors. The Arab Spring has inspired populations to rise up across the region. It was the weakness of the central states of Iraq and Syria that also allowed ISIS to quickly gain power. ISIS was able to fill the power vacuum and able to exploit longstanding anger amongst Sunnis. The sectarian nature of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq played a major role. The Assad regime in Syria has its support disproportionately amongst the non-Sunni populations; the Assad regime’s support is greater amongst the Alawi, Shia, Christian, Kurds, and others. Assad’s military, for example, is dominated by his Alawi sect. Unofficial pro-regime paramilitaries and mafias known as “Shabab” or “ghosts” carry out sectarian attacks on behalf of the regime. They too are dominated by the Alawi. Even more so, the Maliki regime in Iraq is based disproportionately on Shia support in the south of the country. The policies of the Maliki regime have driven both the Sunnis and the Kurds into rebellion against it. In 2011, even before the ascendency of the Islamic State, the Maliki regime declared its own Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi a criminal and enemy. The Maliki regime was so sectarian and weak that it could not even get its Kurdish population to hand over their countryman after Tariq al-Hashimi went into hiding in the Kurdish areas. The Kurdish Peshmerga, which is ostensibly setup to defend Kurish borders in Iraq, have established a presence in disputed lands. For a long time, they have set up bases here and there in the disputed areas to match the presence of the security forces from the central state. Iraqi’s central state also had limited reach into the Sunni areas, areas that began to see the sectarian Maliki regime as an occupying force. It is because of the sectarian policies of the Maliki regime that the Islamic State was able to again gain the support of those same Sunni tribal leaders who had turned against ISIS years before during the “Sunni Awakening” around 2007.  In their recent surprise offensive, the Islamic State was able to briefly gain the support of Baathist elements in Iraq, remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime that continue to suffer persecution, whose base of support is the Sunni population. The Special Republican Guards were never fully committed to battle at the time of the US invasion. And Saddam Hussein’s body-guard network and special operations are thought to have remained intact. Many of the Baathist specialists that had fled to neighboring countries at the time of the US invasion have now returned. (2) Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who occupied the Vice-Presidency and Deputy Chairmanship of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council under Saddam Hussein, is now heading Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshbandi, or the Army of the Men of the Naqshband. This group, which has its roots in Baathist networks and Sufi Islamic orders, was a key player, along with ISIS, in overrunning Maliki’s state security forces recently. (3) There was much speculation that the disintegration of Maliki’s security forces was part of a conspiracy amongst some of its officers, possibly officers with connections to the old Baathist regime. However, these victories over the Maliki regime are now being undermined. Once again ISIS is imposing its harsh, unpopular Islamic order on the Sunni population and ISIS is also trying to eliminate its rival groups amongst the Sunni population of Iraq. Now the Iraqi Sunni groups have begun fighting amongst each other again. It is highly doubtful the Islamic State will be able to conquer the Kurdish areas or push deep into Alawi and Shia territory in Syria or Iraq. In both Syria and Iraq respectively, the Assad regime and Maliki regimes, along with Shia militias, are slowly pushing back, retaking territory.

The Islamic State’s victories, though dramatic, should not be overstated. Its victories are not based on popular support. The Islamic State demands obedience and the immediate transformation of society. ISIS is a commandist organization with little mass line. This is reflected in their terrorist attacks on civilians. Cities occupied by the Islamic State are sometimes depopulated or underpopulated when ISIS arrives. ISIS has created a stream of refugees from many areas it has conquered. It is not just Shia, Christians, and non-Sunnis fleeing, but also Sunnis fleeing the Islamic State’s sharia. Even their declaration of the caliphate and demand that all jihadis pledge loyalty to them has been criticized as a case of extreme overreaching. Other salafists worry that ISIS will end up discrediting the effort at bringing a viable caliphate into being. They are skeptical that a small, landlocked caliphate without oil spanning northern Iraq and Syria is viable. The population also wonders how such a state would create prosperity for its citizens, especially with such powerful neighbors like Iran. The Islamic State does not like questions. Those groups that oppose the Islamic State are muscled into submission. For example, ISIS declared a merger, that the Syrian Nusra Front be absorbed into its ranks. When the Nusra Front refused, the Islamic State responded militarily, even assassinating high ranking jihadi leaders. Al Qaeda central sought to mediate. They sided with Nusra Front. They declared the merger null and void. The Islamic State ignored attempts at mediation by Al Qaeda central. Instead, they declared the merger would go through. ISIS began to militarily enforce its dominance over Nusra Front. ISIS split from Al Qaeda central. This is why the Islamic State is often described as “too extreme for Al Qaeda” in the Western press. Even the Taliban in Afghanistan have warned the Islamic State to “avoid extremism.” (4)  The Islamic State is not patient with the its rivals or the population. Salafists in many countries have criticized the Islamic State’s pretenses and its attacks on Sunni imams and scholars who disagree with them. Such conflict is not new. There is a long tradition of conflict between autocratic caliphs versus Islamic scholars, a conflict going back at least to the Umayyad dynasty. (5) Even if the Islamic State advances the cause, many scholars feel they are being cut out by a transfer of authority from themselves to the new Caliph. Such errors reflect the Islamic State’s non-proletarian origin.

The rise of the Islamic State is also connected to geopolitical conflicts favorable to it. ISIS has benefited from the regional struggle for hegemony between Iran, Hezbollah, the Assad regime, and, to an extent, the Maliki regime versus the Gulf states, Israel, and, to a lesser extent, Turkey, Jordan, and others. The Islamic State established itself early on as the most viable opposition to the Assad regime and it has established itself as a strong opponent of the Maliki regime. The high profile nature of the conflicts drew people to its ranks from all over the world. The Islamic State has the ideological credentials and military capacity so that jihadis from all over the world to swell its ranks. Their internationalism not only brought them foot soldiers, cannon fodder for the struggle, but also brought them expertise and sophistication. For example, the Islamic State’s agitprop, internet and media production is some of the most sophisticated of any insurgent force. The ISIS brand fires the imaginations of armchair jihadis everywhere, especially in the Gulf States, who provide ISIS with an endless supply of private funds. Also, the Gulf State regimes have channeled massive military and monetary aid to Sunni rebels in Syria and Iraq. Turkey, Israel, Jordan, European countries, and the United States have channeled aid to Syrian Sunni factions as well. The United States and Jordan even established a camp to train the Syrian rebels in advanced tactics and weaponry, possibly including chemical weapons. (6) Even if this aid is not always directly sent to ISIS, it often ends up in their hands since other groups are too weak to hold onto the materials, or are mafia organizations that resell the aid, or fronts for ISIS. And in some cases, states send aid directly to the Islamic State, which is why ISIS is accused of being a proxy for Qatar or Saudi Arabia. Like other Islamist forces, the Islamic State is partially a product of geopolitical conflicts. Western imperialists and their allies have a history of channeling training and resources to Islamist movements in order to undermine Soviet-backed movements and leftist movements. The most well-known example is the effort by the United States and Pakistan to support the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the pro-Soviet forces. Some of these mujahideen evolved into Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Later, the United States came into conflict with these forces, even deposing the Taliban’s state and occupying Afghanistan. Today, the United States is still fighting the Taliban and claims to be fighting Al Qaeda. Also, the Pakistani state sometimes comes into conflict with its own Islamists, including the Pakistani Taliban, which have connections to their deposed neighbors in Afghanistan. There is an opportunist relationship between the First World imperialists, their regional hegemonic allies, and certain Islamists. The Islamists are propped up by these regimes as a way for the regimes advance their First Worldist or hegemonic interests. The Islamists welcome any support as a way to advance themselves. The extreme sectarian nature of the jihadi ideology allows such movements to engage in opportunism that justifies any alliance with any force, which often leads them into alliances with imperialists and Zionists. Big imperialists and Israel channeled support to Sunni Islamists as a way to undermine pan-Arabism, leftist resistance movements, and Shia movements that come into conflict with their interests. The  Egyptian Islamic Brotherhood and also the Saudi regime conspired to assassinate Gamal Abdel Nasser multiple times. Even though the main face of Palestinian resistance today is Islamist, Islamists received support as part of Israel’s effort to weaken the Palestinian movement, which was then dominated by nationalists and leftists. (7) Some speculate that the new Caliph Ibrahim of the Islamic State, the supreme leader of ISIS, received training by the United States, Britain, and the Israeli Mossad. (8) At one point, the United States had him in custody in Camp Bucca, but he was released around 2010. (9) Many speculate that he was released because he had been a US, British, or Mossad asset. It is also possible that his detention was part of a long-term effort to give him a credible back story as an imperial deep agent who could also use his incarceration to network with jailed jihadis.

Some Islamists are straight-up agents of imperialism. However, it is important to note that although numerous Islamic groups have received imperialist support and have sometimes aligned with the imperialists, it is simplistic to believe they are all simply agents of imperialism. Although some Islamists often act as mercenaries for imperialists, they are often conflicted about it. It is also important to understand that not all Islamist movements are the same. Not only are there differences between Shia and Sunni groups, there are also important differences between Sunni groups. Movements like Hezbollah are very different from ISIS. Movements like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, for example, are very different than movements like the Islamic State. The former, for example, are playing a more progressive role in the region as they resist imperialism. The latter, the Islamic State, may spout anti-imperialist rhetoric, may come into some conflict with imperialism, but ends up serving imperialism in the big picture.

The Islamic State is a complex movement. It voices some of the injustice suffered by the Sunni populations in Syria and Iraq. No doubt, it expresses some legitimate grievances. However, ultimately, this is not the principal aspect of the Islamic State. And its rule has proven very unpopular even with the Sunni population. The Sunnis are its victims too. Although it has come into limited conflict with imperialism in Iraq, the Islamic State is not mainly an agent of the Sunni national bourgeoisie coming into conflict with imperialism as some might suppose. If anything, ISIS has come into conflict with the Sunni bourgeoisie represented by the old Iraqi Baathists on numerous occasions. On the whole, the Islamic State represents very backward segments of the Sunni populations of Syria and Iraq, comprador segments propped up by the Gulf States and other imperialists, along with segments of the petty bourgeoisie and intelligencia, along with very backward jihadis — some ideological, some mercenary — from around the globe. ISIS is willing to align with an imperialism that tolerates its fascist and semi-feudal social program. They are a comprador force, agents of empire, even though they spout an anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist rhetoric. They are an extension of imperial capital aligned with local reactionary classes and globe-trotting mercenaries and ideologues from various strata. They are a response and contributor to a crisis situation in the region. Their rule is openly terrorist and  barbaric. However, their Islamist ideological commitments make it such that, although they serve imperialism overall, they are unpredictable and fall into limited conflict with the imperialists at times. The proxy war of which the Islamic State is playing a big role is part of the imperialist strategy to divide and conquer the region. Sectarian war is a way to divide masses. It is a way to create regional chaos. Syria and Iraq may be split into smaller states organized around sectarian lines, making it harder to resist imperialism.  The end result will be that the entire region will be weaker.  And Israel will be able to rest easily knowing that its main opponents, Iran and Iran’s allies, are occupied fighting the Sunni groups and their backers, especially ISIS and the Gulf states. Israel is so confident in its position that it is currently involved in an invasion of Gaza involving tens of thousands of troops, possibly an effort at full reoccupation. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded in the past few days while ISIS attacks Shia and other Sunni groups in Iraq and Syria. One online site claiming to represent ISIS stated it is not interested in attacking Israel anytime soon:

“We haven’t given orders to kill the Israelis and the Jews. The war against the nearer enemy, those who rebel against the faith, is more important. Allah commands us in the Koran to fight the hypocrites, because they are much more dangerous than those who are fundamentally heretics.” (10)

That says something about the Islamic State’s priorities. The Islamic State has also attacked the Kurdish populations aligned with the Kurdish Workers’ Party, thus serving Turkey, which is part of NATO. Even though their overall actions serve the United States, Europe, and the First World generally, the Islamic State has come into conflict with the United States in Iraq. Even though the Gulf States are part of the same First World bloc with the United States, even though they share the same regional interests, they have different policies toward the Maliki regime in Iraq. Thus different parts of the imperial allies are supporting different forces in the Iraqi civil war. Thus both sides of the conflict are being played by the Western-Gulf State imperialists. In a sense, ISIS represents a “Plan B” comprador force in Iraq. The United States would prefer to deal with a comprador regime with more liberal, modern flavor, some degree of women’s rights, an outward appearance of multi-national and religious tolerance. However, the Maliki regime is not delivering, which is why Hillary Clinton recently conveyed the US desire to see Maliki resign as a step to forming a new “national unity government.”  Plus, Iran’s involvement in Iraq makes it even more difficult to follow through with neocon nation-building fantasies there. If the imperialists can’t get a liberal comprador regime out of the Maliki, there is always the alternative, a comprador Sunni-fascist ISIS waiting in the wings. If imperialism with a liberal face fails, there is always imperialism with a fascist, feudalist face. “Plan A” doesn’t work, go with “Plan B.” Or, the imperialists will just try to split the country in order to divide and conquer. In other words, their outlook is to support all sides through multiple channels so that no matter who wins, the imperialists  win.

It is important to look beneath the surface. Just because an organization spouts anti-imperialist rhetoric and brandishes automatic weapons does not make them anti-imperialist nor progressive. Imperialism orchestrates and supports many non-state actors around the world in order to further its purposes. The Islamic State is a movement that commits genocide against non-Sunnis and non-Arabs in the region. Alawi, Shia, Christians, Kurds, and others are hunted down and butchered. Areas are depopulated. Their art, culture, holy sites, their places of worship, destroyed. Not unlike other fascist movements, the property of the persecuted is appropriated by ISIS to distribute to its fighters and supporters. Where they have power, they inflict terror on the very Sunni population they claim to represent. Sunni refugees also flee the Islamic State just as others do. Sharia is implemented. Those who do not follow every aspect of Islamic law can be beaten, tortured, or killed. Those who forget to pray are made examples of. Those who have extra-martial affairs are beaten or killed. Censorship is the order of the day. Books and cigarettes are banned and burned in huge bonfires. Young girls and women are kidnapped, forced into marriage, and raped as spoils of war. Women are silenced, their motions restricted, their rights are stripped of them. Women are turned into mere property. ISIS fighters hold themselves to another standard than the populations they control. They see themselves as better and above ordinary people. The fighters act with arbitrary terror against the populations. They do what they wish and take what they wish. They kill who they wish. Beheadings and crusifictions are commonplace. Anything and everything is permitted in the name of advancing Islam. Hypocrisy and corruption are rampant. At the same time, the Islamic State serves the interests of those regimes most closely allied to the United States. They serve and are propped up by the Gulf States, Israel, Turkey, and, indirectly, the United States and European countries. The Islamic State is a hypocritic, corrupt, destructive, oppressive force serving imperialism.

There are many false paths. There are many false leaders. There are many masks that the system hides behind. We must dare to remove the masks. The masses will see through the lies. Islam is not the answer. Fantasies about restoring a feudal, Islamic golden age are lies. Filling the heads of the population with superstition only makes the population more vulnerable. If we are going to defeat imperialism, we need an educated population. If we are going to end oppression, we need masses who think scientifically. If we are going to build a society where the people have decent lives, we need fighters and thinkers. If we are really to defeat capitalism, we need to liberate the masses, not terrorize them into submission as the capitalists, feudalists, and fake caliphs do. If we are to really win, we need the masses at our side. We need women fighting along side us. Fighting without women is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back. Women hold up half the sky. Men and women unite. We need to unite the oppressed people of all religious backgrounds, all nationalities, all ethnicities, all languages. Islam is not a weapon that can take us to liberation. We need the best weapon possible, the most advanced revolutionary science, in the hands of the masses. There is one people, one Earth ,one future, one path, one organization, one leadership, one weapon, one answer: Leading Light Communism.












Interview with Leading Light Commander Prairie Fire on gender, sex, life

Interview with Leading Light Commander Prairie Fire on gender, sex, lifewomen-229x300


  1. So many people claiming to be Marxist are really just liberal. You are one of the only voices, maybe the only voice, really challenging bourgeois, liberal feminism from the left. Let me ask you: What is probably the biggest, single misunderstanding about gender among activists today?

Probably the biggest misconception is that patriarchy is the same for women in the First and Third World. It is a huge misconception that women experience patriarchy the same way, that they are similarly oppressed in both the First and Third World. Furthermore, it is a big misconception that women in both the First and Third World have an interest in eliminating gender oppression globally. In fact, women in the First World benefit from the gender oppression of women in the Third World. Like First World men, First World women benefit from the patriarchal control of Third World women’s bodies. It is this control that squeezes more and more work out of Third World women, for example. This value create by the Third World ends up in the pockets of the First World. The entire First World way of life, all the privileges, the social-democratic benefits, are a result, in part, of the gender oppression of Third World women. First Worldist feminists promote the lie that all women experience patriarchy the same way, that they all are one big sisterhood united against gender oppression. This is one of the many lies First Worldists use to oppress the Third World. Remember how Chinese revolutionaries warned us of those who “wave the red flag to oppose the red flag.” First Worldist feminism and gender activism are yet other ways revisionism enters the revolutionary movement. Just as Lenin wrote about the “split in the working class,” so too is there as split among women. First World women, on the whole, are enemies of revolution. Similarly, most Third World women can be counted as friends. We must reject all manifestations of reaction, including liberalism and traditionalism. We must reject all First Worldism. We must embrace proletarianism, real, proletarian feminism.

  1. Mao Zedong stated that the first thing we have to do as revolutionaries is separate friends and enemies. You say First World women are enemies just as First World peoples as a whole are. But you say Third World women are mostly friends of the revolution. What kinds of oppression do they face?

Our sisters in the Third World face the worst of the imperial system. They suffer all the horrors that Empire inflicts on Third World men, and then some. They suffer subsistence and sub-subsistence incomes. They suffer grueling, unsafe work for pennies a day, usually earning substantially less than their male counterparts. They suffer gender apartheid. Sometimes they have to give sexual favors to their employers and other men with power. They have to toil away in the domestic sphere, often suffering abuse when they do not fulfill what is expected of them. They have to take care of children, even as they are working. They live under constant threat of abuse and rape, sometimes from their own husbands. Young women are sold off into marriage, often against their will. Girls can have their clitorouses removed so that men can better control them. They must endure the tyrannies of their husband’s in-laws. They are valued less by society. If the family must consume less, the females sacrifice first. They are often the last to receive health care. Sometimes female babies are discarded to die. Sometimes girls are sold into sex slavery by their own families. In some places, females not only suffer under imperialist capitalism, but they suffer under semi-feudalism. It is sometimes prohibited by law for girls to receive an education. It might be prohibited for females to go outside without covering their whole bodies, or it might be prohibited for them to go outside without a male relative. They can face an entire system of gender apartheid. In much of the world, females are not equal under the law. They have little rights in cases of divorce. They are not allowed to own significant property. In some places, beating women is seen as acceptable, normal behavior. The world is truly a nightmare for many women. They truly have nothing to lose but their chains. These women need revolution. They need a radical reorganization of the social order to end oppression, to serve their interests, to save their children. Revolution is about future. It is about creating a just society, caring, loving, happy families. It is about a future where we are secure in the knowledge our children will be safe and prosper. Leading Light Communism is their sword to pick up and slay the beast of patriarchy, feudalism, capitalism, Empire.

  1. You have called for women to pick up the sword of Leading Light Communism to overthrow their oppressor. Can women be good fighters?

Women are one of our greatest, our strongest, our sharpest weapons. There is a special strength in those who have tasted the worst this system has to offer, as so many women have. Those who have endured the worst, been abused, smashed down, survived the worst, have a special spirit. To stand against them is like fighting the hurricane. They have a strength that cannot be conquered. Fighting without women in our ranks is like fighting with one arm tied behind our backs. This is one of the greatest advantages of our movement over others. Reactionaries, religious extremists, traditionalists relegate women to a subordinate position, a gender apartheid. “No!” Because we are led by genuine, revolutionary science, all-powerful, Leading Light Communism, we do not harbor any chauvinism, no hate. We have only love. We say with the Chinese revolutionaries: “Women hold up half the sky!” Women can fight alongside men. Women can lead alongside men. Women can be as strong as men, even stronger. It is their future too. They not only have the right, but the moral obligation to fight. We all fight for our children, our shared future, destiny. The Leading Light. Global People’s War. They are us. We are them.

  1. You have taught that traditionalism is one form that revisionism can take, but so is liberalism. Some First Worldists take up the politics of the left wing of bourgeois feminism. They see all men as the enemy. They even claim that it is necessary to get rid of genders, and men or manhood, to reach communism?

Probably one of the most famous revolutionary slogans is “women hold up half the sky!” It was a slogan from Maoist China. Recently, First Worldist revisionists made the strange argument that the Maoist slogan “women hold up half the sky” somehow meant or implied the Chinese Maoists were against gender and manhood itself. This is somewhat mind boggling that someone would put forward such a goofy interpretation. According to such a strange interpretation, one wonders who exactly upheld the sky’s other half?

The saying itself, in its very wording, suggests that women are half, not more, not less, of a whole. Their responsibilities and duties are half of a greater whole. It is an inspiring slogan, a call for replacing old oppressions with new, liberating unity. When the liberal revisionist misrepresents the slogan, he is allowing his own ideological biases to distort its meaning, which should be obvious to most. The revisionist is also allowing her own narrowness and pettiness of spirit to taint a beautiful, poetic expression of the revolutionary hope and reality that oppressed men and women have far more in common, and far more to gain, by working together. The Chinese Maoists were genuine revolutionaries leading a vast country of men and women. First Worldist revisionists who answer to no social base are well-known for embracing all kinds strange politics. It is like the children’s story of Chicken Little. An acorn falls on his head so he thinks the sky is falling. They run around waving their arms: “all sex is rape,” “all men are evil!,” and so on. It is self-absorbed, petty, ego-driven crackpotism that has nothing to do with real revolution. It is totally disconnected from ordinary people. Those who raise such irresponsible politics only serve the bourgeoisie, but they are mostly ignored even in the First World.

It is important to eliminate gender oppression. This is not the same thing as eliminating genders. Overthrowing patriarchy is not the same thing as eliminating men and manhood. One would be hard pressed to find such a concept of eliminating gender itself in the revolutionary tradition, in the works of Marx, Lenin, Mao, or other Leading Lights. On the contrary, revolutionaries of the past have seen the denial of manhood as an injustice inflicted on poorer men by the reactionary system. This complaint is often heard even by poorer communities.

The history of the Chinese Communist Party’s outlook on gender is complex. It evolved in all kinds of ways. However, I would like to see evidence that their concept of women’s liberation was tied in any meaningful way to “fighting manhood” in some kind of specific, stronger sense, as some crackpots claim. In fact, the Communist Party could also facilitate marriages between men and women for large segments of the population. Men in rural China often were very poor and lacked the status to acquire a bride in the traditional way, arranged marriages, bride prices, etc. In a 1931, Mao reportedly said the inability of poor men to be married was a big injustice. Similarly, women sometimes fled their homes to avoid being sold to husbands or they fled the tyranny of in-laws, specifically the step mothers. In the Party, men and women sought to escape the patriarchy that hurt them both. The communists were a safe haven from feudal tyranny. But you have a case here where poor, rural men were being denied the possibility of having a family, status, which meant a lot in Chinese society. Similarly women had their reasons for entering these circles. My point is that Mao himself expressed that denial of manhood was an abuse inflicted on poor men. One only need to look at old Maoist propaganda to see portrayals of strong, proud, brave, healthy men and women. There was no concept of eliminating gender and manhood coming from the Maoists or Bolsheviks.

There is a view out there among some First World Maoists and anarchists that men and manhood are inherently bad. This is not the revolutionary view. It is one extreme view that emerges from the liberal paradigm that the individuals must be in competition with each other. One manifestation of this extreme view that advancing women means oppressing or eliminating men or separating from them. This kind of unhealthy outlook is reflected, albeit in less extreme ways, in the romance culture in the First World. People describe themselves as “players” in a “game” of winners and losers. Their ultra-left strand of liberalism is a kind of reverse of the gender apartheid of traditionalism. Both extremist views are very wrong, anti-people. Rather than trying to make people, males, females lose so they can benefit in their relationships, shouldn’t we try to see gender in a way to make everyone win? The view that men and manhood are necessarily bad is an extreme view within the broad liberal camp. Such a view is crackpot, but has a small following in the First World activist community. It is the outlook of Chicken Little who leaps to all kinds of wild conclusions when he misinterprets a thump on his head. Such extreme views only serve the patriarchy by discrediting those of us who really do fight against gender oppression, which is very real. Most women want to be women. Most men want to be men. Most women don’t see anything wrong with men being men. Most men don’t see anything wrong with women being women. Motherhood and fatherhood are healthy things. However, we should not limit anyone to any single gender role. People should have freedom within the context of advancing the community to Leading Light Communism. We should promote healthy ways of living that allow us to thrive, create, be strong. We need to promote virtue. We need to promote the spirit of the nurturer, the worker, the farmer, the musician, the artist, the warrior, the scientist, the poet, the philosopher. We need to promote images of attractive, healthy, vigorous, virtuous, strong women and men.  We need to promote images of women that are powerful, but are not whores and bitches. We need to promote images of men that are not weaklings, but also not pimps, douchebags, assholes. We need to promote images of loving revolutionaries who take care of their family and community.

Revolution is not about getting rid of the family. Revolution is about getting rid of oppression. It is about getting rid of those who use the family to oppress. Revolution is not about getting rid of genders. It is about getting rid of those who use gender to oppress. Real revolution is about saving the family, integrating it back into the community, and into the shared destiny of achieving real freedom. It is the proletarian outlook that rejects the pink flag of the liberal Empire, but also rejects the black flag of traditionalism, fascism, feudalism. The revolutionary outlook was pioneered, but not completed, by the Bolsheviks in the Soviet Union and by the Maoists in China. It it the outlook of Proletarianism, or proletarian feminism. It is the red flag of the Leading Light.

  1. Is sex biological?

The revisionists make the strange argument that sex is not biological. They point to the few anomalous, ambiguous cases in order to conclude male and female do not really exist. This silliness is popular in the First World, even among Marxist-Leninists, Maoists, and other revisionists. Sex, whether one is male or female, is biological. Sexual dimorphism, male and female, exists across nature in most complex species. Not only do males and females have different bodies and different sexual organs, they have differences in their endocrine systems and in their brains. This does not mean women are better than men or vice versa. It simply means that biological differences exist. It is also foolish not to recognize that these differences manifest themselves psychologically and in sexual culture. Gender is not identical to sex, but there is a biological dimension to it.

  1. Can you explain more about gender? Is gender biological?

It depends on what we mean by “gender.” If we are talking about “gender” as a position in a system of oppression, then it is not biological. The difference between First and Third World women should make that clear. First and Third World women share the same biology, but have different roles in the system of gender oppression. First World women and Third World women have different positions in regard to the global patriarchy. First World women tend to benefit from it. Third World women suffer. First World women are granted more and more life options. Third World women have their life options restricted. And there is a causal relation here between the extension of social-democratic privilege in the First World and the narrowing of life options in the Third World, a narrowing that sometimes occurs through the most brutal forms of feudal patriarchy. Thus First World women are oppressors. Third World women are, on the whole, oppressed in the global patriarchy. They share very different gender interests. Because of their First World privileges, First World women are not as limited by their role in reproduction as they once were. First World women share some, but not all, of the same culture and identity of First World men. And First World men have also become more and more like First World women. This is a big part of the liberal culture of Empire. So some aspects of gender are definitely very social in origin.

But, if we are discussing the psychological component of “gender,” there is a biological component. There are aspects of gender that are still biological, that cannot be overcome by culture and society. There are biological differences that exist between men and women that manifest themselves in mating, emotional life, etc. There are some differences in sexual and reproductive behavior. People speak of the “maternal instinct” in women, for example. There are differences in body chemistry, sexual psychology, emotions, behaviors. Humans are animals. Like animals, humans have innate instincts and behaviors. Acknowledging difference does not mean any gender is better or worse than another. The slogan “women hold up half the sky” implies that poor men and poor women should work together in a complementary way, not in competition. If we are to build a revolutionary society that is genuinely scientific, we must construct a society that works with, not against, our natures. We, men and women, need to work together.

  1. Is manhood bad?

Many of those same characteristics often associated with manhood are ones we need in order to fight, to really make revolution. These characteristics are not exclusive to men, but they have been attacked by liberal Empire as part of an effort to undermine our communities and fighting capacity. It is Empire, the society of Friedrich Nietzsche’s last man, without ambition, intensity, destiny. Strength, valor, honor, loyalty are all lacking and mocked in Empire. The drive to excellence is lacking. Leadership and genius are mocked. In Plato’s tripartite division of the soul, the soul is pictured as a chariot that moves due to the efforts of two horses and a driver. There is the pull of the crass desires, the stomach. The soul is also pulled by what the Greeks called “thymos,” spiritness, excellence, the pull of the athlete and warrior. There is also reason, intellect. Liberal Empire is driven by stomach, by petty consumerism. The other parts of the soul are suppressed by contemporary culture. Liberal Empire is a world where both the best and worst lack conviction, neither has “passionate intensity,” unless it is intense consumerist conviction. Traditionalism tends to elevate thymos far more than liberalism, but it combines heart with the crass appetites of the stomach. In this sense, it still shares much with liberalism. Both liberalism and traditionalism denigrate reason, the intellect, the spirit of the scientist and philosopher. Real revolution, Leading Light Communism, by contrast, elevates the heart alongside reason. This is why say Leading Lights are warrior geniuses who serve the people.

There is a design to it all, to Empire and its liberalism. “Men without chests” will not make revolution. Chicken Littles will not. The system is one of mediocrity, that denigrates those people and those qualities that we need to make revolution. In this way, the system has beaten the revolutionary movement before the fight starts. It buys off the population in the First World, so there is no proletariat. And it turns the First World population into cowards, whiners, dunces, Chicken Littles, “men without chests.” Even if they wanted to make revolution, they could not. The attack on “manhood” by some liberals is, in part, an attack on the ability of poor people, including women, to organize themselves in a way to really take power.

A long time ago, Karl Marx talked about how capitalism had destroyed the traditional family. Capitalism has invaded every part of our lives, included the most intimate, the family. The culture of liberalism spreads across the Third World, destroying communities and families. This has a terrible effect on oppressed peoples. The values of self-serving, liberal capitalism replace community and family. Without revolutionary institutions and culture, without New Power, social bonds whither, people no longer care for each other. Community and family wither. We must transform, revolutionize community and family through New Power and Global People’s War, not destroy them, not serve broken communities and families up to Empire.

  1. Is it true that the CIA has financed and promoted First Worldist, liberal feminism?

In the past, the Soviets channeled aid to secular nationalists and anti-imperialists. As a way to combat that, the Western imperialists, including the Zionists, channeled aid to traditionalists, Islamist extremists, as a way to counter and undermine secular organizations and regimes. It is well-known how the CIA has promoted traditionalism when it has found it useful. The West promoted the Islamic extremists in Afghanistan. Even Hamas, at one point, was aided as a way to undermine Palestine’s secular resistance at the time. In Indonesia, the Western imperialists aided in the suppression of the Communist Party and the overthrow of Sukarno’s nationalist regime. In his place, they installed Islamist generals led by Suharto. The streets of Jakarta ran red with the blood of all the victims of the coup. The West has promoted traditionalism by aiding the Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia where women are not allowed to drive, where they do not have equal rights in society. Saudi Arabia, where some of the worst gender apartheid exists, exports some of the most vicious traditionalism across the Muslim world with the help of the West. The West has worked with Pakistan at times to promote brutal traditionalism. In Libya, the West overthrew the Gaddafi regime, which was far more secular and nationalist than what exists now. Extremist Islamic militias are now running wild imposing their brutal concept of traditionalist sharia. In Syria, the Western imperialists have used traditionalists to tear the society apart. Going back even further, from World War 1 to World War 2, many in the West promoted traditionalism in Europe as a way to attack Bolshevik, communist revolution. They promoted forms of Christian traditionalism as a way to suppress leftist revolutionaries. Even recently, traditionalism has been promoted in Eastern Europe when the West has found it useful. Bosnia and Kosovo are examples. Even today, the West aids liberalism in the Ukraine with one hand and traditionalist, fascist trends with the other. And, the Russians also promote their own traditionalist and liberal forces in various conflicts. There is also the case of Bangladesh where the West promotes both sides of the conflict. They promote both the current regime of the Awami League, which is a bit more liberal. And they, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, promote the barbarism of the extremist Islamic traditionalists. Muslims are being burned alive by random attacks on civilians by the extremists there. This is in an effort to weaken the society to make it easier for the imperialists to control. The point is that the West has a long record of supporting the worst, fascistic, traditionalist, brutal organizations and regimes when it serves them. They are perfectly willing to support gender apartheid if it suits them. However, this is just one part of the equation.

Liberalism has also been a weapon against the Third World. Imperialists have historically used the pretext of modernization, liberal progress, to justify their domination over and attacks against the colonial world. The imperialists have claimed that their domination of the colonial world was part of a great civilizing mission to remove backward traditions. Liberalism was often part of this package. Afghanistan is one of the most interesting cases. The United States supported the most brutal extremist traditionalists against the Soviet-supported reformist regime in the 1970s and 1980s. Then, once the United States came into conflict with the Taleban after the events of September 11, 2001, the imperialists decided that Afghanistan was in need of modernization and liberalization. First Worldist feminists lined up to cheerlead the imperialist invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Similarly, First Worldist gender activists agitate for imperialist attacks on Iran because they think they are aiding gay rights. Even First Worldist revisionists and Maoist groups, which are in the pockets of the state, held rallies in the United States against Iran’s 12 treatment of women and gays. The liberal and left liberal establishment is playing its role in Empire. They see imperialism as a vehicle for modernization, to advance liberal civilization. Here it is also important to mention the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). NGOs and aid organizations are very much tied to this imperialist control. They are used to infiltrate communities. They become a form of liberal power, pushing imperialist social and cultural policies, in the communities of the Third World. They are part of population management and social engineering by Empire. The network of these organizations and agencies overlaps very much with imperial intelligence. And there is more.

There is the famous case where one of the leading liberal feminists was exposed. Red Stockings, a Marxist-influenced feminist group, exposed some of the connections between liberal, bourgeois, First Worldist feminism and the CIA. They exposed Gloria Steinem and Ms. magazine’s CIA connections in the 1970s. It is no secret that Steinem worked for the CIA spying on student radical groups, including Marxists. Steinum and Ms. magazine disseminated a particular kind of feminism that was both First Worldist and liberal. It was a pseudoradicalism very much in-line with the CIA’s vision of a proper imperial civilization, a culture of liberal imperialism. Steinum herself expresses that she was happy that she never felt that the her CIA handlers were speaking down to her. She felt they were very respectful toward her and her politics. She was one of the boys, so to speak. And, her handlers were part of the girls. The CIA’s involvement in First Worldist, liberal feminism is a matter of historical fact. Furthermore, it is well known that the CIA also financed some types of art that were seen to promote liberal values, seen to undermine socialist, heroic values in the Eastern bloc. It is entirely predictable that the CIA would intervene in the culture, intervene in left-wing social and cultural movements in foreign countries, but also in the United States itself. The CIA, the broad network of intelligence agencies, think tanks, NGOs, policy shapers have a vested interest in creating the most stable, lasting Empire possible. This includes shaping every aspect of imperial life, which included attitudes about sexuality and gender. This is not the era of Lenin’s imperialist rivalry. The United States is in conflict with Europe. The CIA is not so narrow in its outlook. It looks beyond mere US national interests, to the shaping of global civilization itself. They are looking beyond nation, so too must we. We too must develop a 13 whole new approach, a kind of total war that is multi-generational, that looks beyond today’s political entities to civilization itself.

  1. You say that much of First Worldist feminism is really just liberalism. Can you elaborate?

There are really unfortunately only two main sides to the debate, at least as most people see it. There is liberalism, the culture of Empire, the rainbow or pink flag. Then there is traditionalism, the black flag. Many people see the main fight in the world as one between a globalist Empire that pushes a sexual and gender culture that is liberal versus a reactionary, anti-gay, anti-feminist, nationalist, racial, communal traditionalism. Our view is that both liberalism and traditionalism are two sides of the imperial coin. It’s like the saying goes, “liberalism is the face of the ruling class when they are not afraid, fascism when they are afraid.” Today, liberalism is the main face of Empire, but there is a traditionalist trend bubbling up from below in some places, especially in Europe. Traditionalism is making a comeback in much of the Muslim world also. This has led to terrible results, especially for women. We reject both.

One of the problems is that few people know the vision of real communism, the Leading Light. When revisionists try to articulate their vision, it either sounds like liberalism or it sounds like traditionalism. Revisionists are unable to really find any political space between liberalism and traditionalism. And, if you all you can do is sound like a liberal or traditionalist, then it is pointless to try to maintain a separate identity. Be what you are. Be a liberal or traditionalist. Stop pretending to be a communist. Stop wrapping liberalism and traditionalism in the red flag. This is why so few people turn to the so-called “far left” anymore. Leading Light is the one force out there that is articulating a real vision that is neither liberal nor traditionalist. Our view is proletarianism. We advocate the liberation of men and women within the context of total revolution. We advocate the freedom of men to be men and women to be women, without putting any kind of restrictions on gender. Men and women should be encouraged to be attractive, healthy, strong, virtuous, creative as men and as women. There is nothing oppressive about being a good, healthy, positive exemplar of whatever your identity is. Both the Soviet Union and China, in their revolutionary phases, promoted these virtues without erasing gender itself. People should be encouraged to be their best selves within the context of advancing the community, the revolution. And, for most people, this means being a good example of manhood or womanhood. Despite what some revisionists think, there is a biological basis not only to sex, but also a biological aspect to some, but not all parts, gender. If we are to make a socialism, and communism, that succeeds, that really wins, we need to work with, not against, nature. If you go against nature, people will reject revolution. Revolution must move with nature, not against it.

  1. Liberals are so obsessed with identity. They love talking about themselves, personalities. I know you hate to talk about yourself, but lots of people are curious about the man behind the writings. Can you talk a little about yourself and how you deal with the sexual culture of the First World?

Traditionalism is a terrible order where women are controlled in very direct, abusive ways. It is a kind of gender apartheid inflicted on women. Capitalism with its liberalism overthrew traditionalism in many parts of our world. In the place of traditionalism, new forms of unhealthy and abusive behavior arose. Immanuel Kant wrote, in his time, of marriage being a contract to use each other’s bodies and property. Karl Marx wrote about how capitalism had penetrated every aspect of life, including the most intimate realm of family. Friedrich Engels wrote that marriage under capitalism and, by implication, relationships were really just prostitution. Usually, in his day, it was women selling and men buying. Today, it is a free for all. Liberalism is a culture of mutual degradation, lack of respect, mutual use and abuse, “assholes,” “pimps,” “douchebags,” “hoes,” “bitches,” and so on. Some people, fascists, religionists, Islamists, think the solution is a return to traditionalism. Liberalism has gotten so bad that even many women are running toward traditionalism. But traditionalism is really just a war against women, gender apartheid. It is no answer. First World people live in a disgusting wasteland of Empire where they do not know how to express themselves or relate in healthy sexual ways. Many people do not know how to be strong without being abusive. People even call romance and sex “the game,” as though you win at the expense of your friends, community, family, those around you, including your lover. People are afraid to give, because in such an environment, if you give an inch, a mile is taken. It is imperative that we lead humanity out of the wasteland. Proletarianism is the path to real freedom and respect.

I believe in family. I believe in community. I believe in giving, in sacrifice. I believe in love, love of wife or girlfriend, love of family, community, people, the Earth. Love is a big part of what makes life worth living. To be strong requires the help of others, especially someone special, someone you love and who loves you. First World sexual culture is one where we are made to feel that being strong is incompatible with caring about someone. Mainstream culture tries to tell us our best feelings are wrong, that we should be embarrassed or feel guilty. It is a bizarre world where those with virtue are mocked. Those with none are praised. I am someone who has experienced some of the worst of this world, yet I have survived. I endure. I carry on. It is important to keep marching even if the wasteland seems endless. We are on a mission. We are Leading Lights, men and women of destiny. We cannot help but remember our lives are not fully our own. Duty is always commanding us onward. We do have each other, the best of the best, and we have hope. I have hope. Hope is a precious thing.

  1. What about those who criticize Mao or Che Guevara as womanizers? What do you say to them?

Revolutionary leaders like Mao and Che have done far more to advance the cause of humanity, including women, than their nitpicky critics. Che had a hand in the leadership of numerous revolutionary and anti-imperialist struggles that sought to end not only economic oppression, but also gender oppression. He gave his life for the liberation of women. And Mao was the greatest feminist of all time. Mao led a revolution that involved a quarter of humanity, one out of every four women on Earth was involved in the Chinese revolution. The Maoist revolution brought political power, property, and basic human rights to a quarter of humanity, one out of every four women. Think about it. For the first time, women could have a say in their daily lives, in their families, in their communities, in politics. Women were given more ability to control property. They now had power in the families, in divorce. Mao ended the gruesome practice of foot-binding, the Chinese practice of deforming female feet to satisfy a perverted-male fetish. Under the Maoist regime, Jiang Qing, a woman, Mao’s wife, rose very high in elite circles of political power. Lin Biao’s wife, Ye Qun, also acquired tremendous power. This means a lot given how backward Chinese society was only a few decades before. Even with the defeat of the Chinese revolution in the 1970s, much of this progress remains. The Maoist revolution smashed feudalism and all of its barbarism for a quarter of humanity. This may not seem important to gossipy lifestylists who would rather talk about Mao’s liaisons with young peasant girls rather than the world-historic changes experienced by a quarter of the world’s women thanks to leaders like Mao and Lin Biao. And, really, should anyone be shocked that an older man sought out the company of young, healthy, pretty women, and that such women sought out an older, respected, powerful man? Is this so shocking, really?

  1. Thank you for your thoughts. Are there any final words?

In order to defeat Empire, we do not need a bickering herd of cats. We need unity and strength. We need to forge the people into a mighty army with unity of purpose and action. Real revolutionary science, all-powerful Leading Light Communism strengthens, not weakens, the people in their fight. Those who weaken people’s movements, even while claiming to be revolutionary or radical, are revisionist agents of the system. There is one real path to freedom. We must see through the illusion. There are more options than what they show us. Liberalism, Empire, is not the answer. Traditionalism, fascism, feudalism is no answer. Liberalism sets poor men against poor women, poor women are set against poor men. Traditionalism, gender apartheid, also sets poor men against poor women. By contrast, proletarianism unites. Poor men and poor women join hands in the common proletarian struggle against the system. We must drop the pink and black flags. We must pick up the red flag. We must elevate the revolutionary, Leading Light vision. We are filled with love. We love our families. We love our communities. We love our elders. We love our children. We, sisters and brothers, are warriors, attractive, strong, healthy, courageous, creative, filled with genius. Together, we fight for our common destiny. Our future is our own. First World men do not hold up the sky. First World women do not uphold the sky. We, the Proletarian World, the Third World and its allies, uphold the sky together, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, wives and husbands.