Out of the shadows into the sun
an interview with Leading Light Commander Prairie Fire
1. Thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions. We admire your work very much. We admire all the Leading Lights. Leading Light Communist Organization is the only organization that is bringing forward new ideas to make revolution in the real world. It is exciting to finally meet you, Leading Light Commander. I know you have many names, but we’ll refer to you as “Prairie Fire.” Can you briefly discuss the problem as you see it? What is wrong with the world?
We live in a world of great poverty, great misery, great suffering, great cruelty. The scale of violence inflicted against humanity and the Earth is unprecedented. Global Empire, the Bourgeois World, the First World, is stealing our future and the future of the planet itself. Half the world lives and dies on less than 3 dollars a day. 800 million people do not have access to safe water. For hundreds of millions of people just getting by, just finding safe water, is a life and death, and daily, struggle. Every year, millions of lives are cut short due to structural poverty, lack of healthcare, lack of food or safe water, toxic environments. Endless wars, assassinations, drone strikes, bombings, death-squad terror. Suffering and cruelty are everywhere. Our people are destroyed. Our common home, the Earth, is destroyed. If we do not act, there will be nothing left, no future for our children and their children. We must fight back. Our children deserve better. We deserve better. But we should not strike out in blind rage. If we are to really win, we need more than just a revolutionary body, but also a mind. We must be guided by the Leading Light of truth, by revolutionary science. Without theory, practice is blind. Leading Light Communism is the only way forward.
2. It is hard to think about just how terrible it all is. It makes me want to cry sometimes. So few voices are speaking truth about just how bad it is. I don’t want to live in a nightmare. I want a good life. What is your goal? What kind of world do you want?
The last waves of revolution were defeated. We do not need to repeat the past. We do not go forward by cobbling together the fragments of the past. We must understand the past, learn from the past, but we must go beyond it. The next wave of revolution is made by boldly striking out, casting aside dogma, by putting the most advanced revolutionary science, all-powerful Leading Light Communism, in command. This means we must break every chain that holds us prisoner. Whether we are bound with one or a hundred chains, we are still chained to the wall. We must break the chains of class, racism, chauvinism, sexism, and every other chain. No one is free until everyone is free. Our war is on the old ways, the Old Power. We declare total war on the First World, on Empire.
We demand nothing less than a whole new world, a world without poverty, without suffering, without cruelty, without war, without hunger, without chauvinism, without rape. We demand a world of equality, a world of peace, a world of justice. Happiness. Joy. Serve the people. Imagine true freedom where we can be our best selves. Imagine a world where we were secure in the knowledge that our children will prosper, that the Earth would bloom again. Imagine all of humanity united in a common purpose, on a great adventure. Imagine if we could start over, to redesign society for the benefit of all, according to the best, revolutionary science. Instead of a society that promotes the worst in humanity, crass consumerism, pettiness, greed, cruelty. Imagine a society that cultivated the best in humanity: heroism, courage, bravery, sharing, caring, creativity. Imagine a society that promotes the best of the worker, the farmer, the builder, warrior, the nurturer, the scientist, the poet, the artist and musician, the philosopher. This is our future, our destiny, all-powerful Leading Light Communism.
3. That is a lot to take in. Lots of people know there is something wrong, but they don’t know how to change it. Who is on our side in this fight? Where will our forces come from? Who will make revolution? Some people will oppose us, right?
“Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?” The great revolutionary Mao Zedong, who led a mighty revolution that liberated a quarter of the world’s population in China, called this the “first question of revolution.” Unfortunately, Mao’s revolution, like the Bolshevik one before him, was defeated, but there still is so much to learn from those experiences. Even though China and Russia are capitalist now, let’s ask Mao’s question. If we are really to make revolution, we have to understand who has an interest in preserving the system, the status quo, and who does not. We also have to know which social forces, which classes, which groups, can be aligned, mobilized, against the system. Today, capitalism is a world system, Empire is global. We must apply class analysis not just to our own societies, not just to our communities or neighborhoods, but we must apply it on the global scale. To understand the part, we must understand the whole. To understand the local, we must understand the global. This is today’s reality.
In the nineteenth century, when Karl Marx looked at the world around him, European society was entering a new, dynamic era. The scientific and technological revolution was radically transforming life. Peasants were driven from their land, transformed into workers. The beginning of modern production. The factory system was born. Industrialism. Marx saw a polarization happening in society. On the one side were the capitalists, those who owned the means of production, the wealthy, the factory owners replacing the old feudal aristocracies. A new ruling class was replacing the old one. On the other side were those with nothing to lose but their chains. He called this new revolutionary class “the proletariat.” Now in his day, the proletariat, the revolutionary class, was made up of the industrial workers who owned nothing, people pushed off the land and transformed into workers who had only their labor to sell. All of society was changing. Capitalism was prone to crisis and instability. The old clan structures, the family, and traditional stabilizing institutions were breaking down. The old rural-based society and its traditions were dying. A new urban, cosmopolitan culture was rising. Marx believed that this struggle between the capitalists and workers, the haves and the have nots, would lead to real revolution, a fundamental reorganization of society according to egalitarian, communist, scientific principles.
This is how Marx saw the world, almost two centuries ago. Our world is much different today. It’s not all about Europe, or even mostly about Europe. In fact, the last century of revolution has taught us that revolution will happen in the weakest links of the system, on the edges of global economic power. Lenin’s prediction that the storm center of world revolution moving eastward came to past. Mao spoke of the east wind prevailing over the west wind. Today, the entire world economy is a single entity. Understanding the question of friends and enemies, Mao’s first question requires a class analysis that is truly global. It is not just First World capitalists who are reactionary enemies, but most people in the First World. Ordinary people in the First World have far more to lose than their chains. They have wealth, privileges, houses, cars, electronics, security, leisure, opportunities, mobility. They have access to capital. They have social wealth, infrastructure, land, modern institutions. Ordinary people in the First World do not have a class interest in revolution.
People in the First World are far too comfortable to make revolution. Revolution means risking your possessions and way of life. Revolution means risking death, and the death of family and children. People in the First World, including workers, have far more to lose than their chains. Even the poorest people in the wealthy countries do not make revolution because they are too insignificant, numerically too small and dispersed. And there is enough opportunity and class mobility that they do not feel revolution is the smartest way forward for them. They never form the requisite class consciousness, the revolutionary way of thinking. No matter what we do and say, people in the First World are not a revolutionary social base. No matter how hard we try, they will not make revolution. Facts are stubborn things.
Wealthy people in the Third World who ally with the First World, who are part of Empire, also have a real stake in the system. They are part of the First World, its agents. They stab their homelands in the back. They steal the resources and wealth of the Third World for the First World. They too are our enemies.
Who are our friends then? Who are the real proletariat today? Mao said “serve the people.” But, who are our people? Marx wrote that capitalism would create greater and greater misery for the vast majority. People would be pushed and pushed ever down, until they only had one way out, to cast off their chains through revolution. Revolution is the hope of the hopeless. Our real friends are the the vast majority, the ordinary, the working, the farming, the homeless, the small owners, the slum dwellers, the poor peoples in the Third World. These are the people who are being smashed down. These are the suffering masses who have nothing to lose but their chains. Our world is the Proletarian World, the Third World, and its allies. Imagine our people sweeping the whole system away, starting over. Today, this is the principal contradiction in our world: The global rich versus the global poor, the Bourgeois World versus the Proletarian World, the First World versus the Third World. This is what we must understand to really win.
4. Revolution is what we need, but does it have to be violent. Can’t we just vote? What do you think about elections?
There is the story of the man on a ship who has a purse full of gold. He accidentally drops his purse overboard. He dives in after it. He drowns. When his body floats back up. We ask: “Did he own the gold or did the gold own he?”
This is how the reactionary state works. We may pursue change by petitioning the government or by participating in elections. Reform. We may even think we are making progress. Perhaps we even get elected. Perhaps we get some power. But this is the question: “What kind of power are we acquiring?” We are not building revolutionary power, we are instead partaking of the Old Power, the old system, the old society. Even if it looks like we are gaining influence through reform, through parliament, through elections, we are really losing. We are being co-opted. Even though it may seem like we own the system, really, by giving us power and influence, the system is owning us. Like the gold that pulls the man into the water to drown him, the system pulls revolutionaries into reform in order to drown the revolution. Many people never learn. They will stupidly chase after the gold, drowning with a big-fat grin on their face. This is what Lenin pointed out.
Revolution is not a matter of simply taking over the old system and bending it to our will. Rather, revolution is about sweeping away the old society, the Old Power. It is about building a totally new society, a New Power. The revolutionary process is one where two sets of institutions and ideas battle it out. Revolution is a process of constructing a dual power, a New Power, against the Old Power. The old state, the old institutions, the old culture, the old ways of thinking, all are the Old Power. The New Power is made up of new institutions: new ways to resolve conflict, to govern communities, to educate, to build public opinion and shape culture, to defend the people, to coordinate the revolution, etc. The New Power is a whole network of institutions, a kind of revolutionary shadow state that exists beneath the surface, among the people. The New Power is the people’s army, the people’s fronts, the people’s courts, the people’s schools, the people’s media, the people’s culture, the vast body of revolution. And, leading it all is the Leading Light, the brain that controls the vast body of revolution, the party of a new type. And, when the time is right, the New Power fully emerges as the Old Power is knocked down, filling the vacuum. This is a key part of the revolutionary process.
Lenin taught that the old state is not some neutral ground where the bourgeoisie and proletariat can resolve their differences. Rather, the old state is fundamentally reactionary. It is a tool of reactionary class rule through and through. The idea that we can capture this tool and use it for our own ends is foolish. The old state cannot be a tool of revolution. We cannot reform our way to revolution. Revolution is a deep, fundamental reorganization of all of society, it means disempowering the reactionary classes. It means empowering the revolutionary classes. The reactionary classes will never give us power and turn over their state, their weapon. They will never commit class suicide. Revolution is simply incompatible with the old state, the Old Power. We must write off elections and reformism from the strategic standpoint. “Revolution” means real revolution, warts and all.
Does this mean that we cannot make limited use of the old state, reforms, elections? From a tactical standpoint, it is acceptable to use the tools of the Old Power against itself so long as we understand that elections and reform are very limited tactics, not roads to revolution. For example, in some cases, it is acceptable to participate in an election, not because we believe we can win, but in order to use the election campaign as a way to draw attention to ourselves, as a way to agitate. In some circumstances, it is acceptable to participate in elections as part of an effort to block the rise of feudal, fascistic, militaristic, fundamentalist religious, or dictatorial forces. In other words, if rightist, militarist, fascist forces might win an election, and if these forces promise to wipe out oppositional forces, to silence all dissent, then we should use every tool in the toolbox to oppose them. Because if these fascist forces win, it will make it very difficult to organize the masses for revolution, for Global People’s War. If this is the case, although participating in elections will not bring revolution, it can help prevent the rise of deadly forces. There might be other times when we insert ourselves into local reform campaigns or elections not because it is a path to revolution, but because it is a way to recruit or gain resources. There may be organizational or logistical reasons for tactical manipulation of reformist and electoral campaigns. Think of it this way: Strategically, reform is never a path to power. But, tactically, reform can be an option. “Strategically, never! Tactically, maybe!” We have to always remember that there is only one path to revolution: the Global People’s War, the New Power, the Leading Light.
5. That makes a lot of sense. So many groups end up selling out when they begin to work with the system. They always claim to still be fighting for revolution, but the reality is they give up slowly. You mentioned war. What are your feelings on violence and war?
The great Prussian military thinker Carl von Clausewitz famously said “war is politics by other means.” Our struggle is a class struggle, the poor against the wealthy. The politics of the poor are absolutely antagonistic to the politics of the wealthy. Our interests are absolutely opposed to each other. Thus there can be no real, lasting reconciliation between us and them. We will not allow them to continue to impose all the horrors of this system upon us. We say “no!” to poverty, to terror, to genocide, to cruelty, to suffering, to toxic and unhealthy environments, to starvation, to rape, to corruption, to the endless indignities we endure. And they will always respond with their own “no!” whenever we reach for power. They will always fight tooth-and-nail for the horrific status quo. They will never give up their power and wealth. War between the poor and the wealthy is the inevitable, normal state of capitalism.
There is a difference though. We agree with Mao when he said we make war to end war. We wage war to end injustice. We wage war to give everyone a prosperous, secure, happy life. We fight to save the Earth, our common home. We fight for our future, for the future of our children. They fight to continue the madness. They fight for a corrupt, stupid, cruel, unjust order. They fight for death. We fight for life. They fight for themselves. We fight for the people.
Is the military struggle our only weapon? Of course not. To emphasize only the military aspect of our revolution, our Global People’s War, is a big error. It is an error criticized by Mao during his own people’s war. It is an error sometimes associated with focoism and adventurism. Our struggle is complex. The military struggle of the People’s Army of the Leading Light must be integrated with deep political education. The military struggle must be integrated with other aspects of the New Power of the Leading Light: people’s committees, people’s courts, people’s schools, people’s culture, etc. This vast network of struggles, both military and nonmilitary, must be coordinated by the Leading Light to achieve victory, total revolution. This means that military struggle, violence, is only one aspect of revolution. The most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism, is an all-powerful, all-round, awesome strategy. Leading Light Communism is indeed a sword and shield, but much more. It is also the body and mind to wield them. It is only real path to really winning. And it is about winning. To paraphrase Lenin: “Without power, all is illusion.”
6. You mentioned the Earth. Past revolutions did not treat the environmental well. Leading Light Communism is something very new though. What about the environment?
Our home, the Earth, is being destroyed. The forests, the lungs of the planet, are being burned. Whole areas, mountain tops, turned to ugly scars. Dead zones in the oceans threaten the entire food chain, including humanity. A continent-sized lake of toxic plastic exists in the Pacific ocean, destroying animal and plant life. Global warming is raising the temperature across the planet, causing water to rise, causing drought and famine, causing natural disasters. Whole countries, like Bangladesh, are threatened with ruin. Imagine the refugee crisis, imagine the death toll, imagine the toll on public health, imagine the harm inflicted on the ecosystem, if Bangladesh were flooded by rising water. Whole island chains may soon disappear. Many people do not realize just how bad the situation is. They dismiss the scientific consensus. Or they simply refuse to acknowledge any problems that do not affect them. Or they only look at their daily lives, not how their actions may affect their children, future generations. Many people do not realize that we are in the middle of another mass extinction. Just as the dinosaurs were wiped out, animal and plant life is going through another mass extinction. It is so bad that if humanity does not wake up, there will be no future left for anyone.
And for what? All of this destruction so the First World can consume more. Capitalism says “buy, buy, buy!” “Consume, consume, consume!” “Waste, waste, waste!” Capitalism is a beast that consumes natural resources and shits out its ugly consumer culture. Not only does it endlessly consume the physical world, but it also consumes beauty itself, replacing it with vulgarity. Capitalism is irrational from the standpoint of human need. It is organized to serve profit, not people nor the Earth. Capitalism cares nothing about the future, nothing about future generations. It is the Third World masses that pay, are starved, so the First World can grow fat. Humanity is walking a razor’s edge. Leading Light Communism, by contrast, calls us to live according to our best selves: help each other, share with each other, sacrifice, be honorable, create, seek truth, and protect nature. Leading Light is about a sustainable, balanced approach to development and nature. We must be guardians of the Earth, of the seas, forests, skies, plants, animals that sustain us all. Serving the people also means serving the Earth.
7. You spoke of the importance of science. There are a lot of attacks on science today. What about religion? Do you oppose religion?
Religion plays many roles in society. It is part of the way those in power and other reactionaries justify their attacks on the masses. All kinds of cruelties are inflicted against the masses by the wealthy and powerful in the name of religion. Yet we must also remember Karl Marx’s famous words from A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right:
“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.”
The masses turn to religion because of oppression. They turn to religion as an escape, for comfort. Since this world is so filled with horrors, they seek solace in the thought of an afterlife where things are better. Since justice escapes them in this world, they hope for divine justice, a day of judgement or karma. One of the pleasures of Christian heaven, at least as it is portrayed in literature, is that those in heaven get to watch the suffering of those in hell, those who harmed them in this life. Thus heaven has a sadistic, petty component. Truth can be hard to handle, so people seek comfort in shadows and illusion. People have always looked to myth. Myths, religion, is also part of cultural and community identity. We must approach this issue in a humble, understanding way. We do not want to trample on identity, culture, tradition as imperialists often do.
Marx famously wrote that the secret of the holy family is the earthly family. In other words, our religious conceptions, our God or gods, are really just mental, cultural constructs. We project social relations that we encounter in our daily life, the father of the patriarchal family, onto the universe. God is a kind of father figure to his children, humanity, his creation. After we project this onto the universe, we then begin to order our lives according to our own creation, but we fail to recognize this projection as our own. It comes to have a kind of cultural life, a kind of perceived objectivity, beyond ourselves. In a sense, religion is a collection of illusions, but also more than mere illusions. Because man is a social animal, as Aristotle famously wrote, because of the collectivity of human life, because of culture, these illusions become a force in the world and in history. But ultimately, religion is false. To continue to be motivated by it, to continue to explain the world by reference to it, is deeply incompatible with science. And since our goal is to liberate humanity and the Earth through empowering the masses with revolutionary science, religion is, in the final analysis, an obstacle to this goal.
The revolution, at the level of leadership, has to be organized according to the most advanced science. And, as Leading Light Communists, our goal is to empower the masses to lead themselves, to give the people the tools they need to understand their world and change it. This means we have to continuously strive to elevate people, to advance them, to educate them, to always try to bring more people into the leadership, to the Leading Light.
What will society look like as we transition to Leading Light Communism? Revolutionary society will be officially secular, but tolerant of the diverse beliefs of many faiths so long as they do not hurt anyone directly. The contradiction between revolutionary-scientific leadership and the religious masses should be treated as non-antagonistic. Those who are religious and try to help the masses should be treated as friends of the revolution. Tolerance and gentle education should be the order of the day. It is more important to expose those who use God as a way to oppress people than to expose God himself. However, there are some instances when the threat from reactionaries, capitalists, feudalists, fascists with religious ideology is so great that we must suppress them and their fascist beliefs. Those who pervert the best in religion, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., in order to oppress and exploit the masses should be seen as enemies. To those religious friends of the people, we extend the open hand. To those religious enemies of the people, we raise a clenched fist.
We must all remember that not every individual is at the same place on the learning curve. People have different experiences. We must always be humble. We must always use the mass line. Revolution, leading prisoners out of Plato’s cave, out of the world of shadow and illusion, takes time. It is a protracted struggle. It is part of our long march
8. Your message is so important. The future really does hang in the balance. It is frightening, the place we find ourselves as a species. It does lift my spirits to know there are real leadership out there. But are you hopeful about the future?
Revolutionaries are optimists. A great storm is gathering. Crisis after crisis. Poverty. Endless wars. Ecological catastrophe. People have been asleep a long time, since the last wave of revolution was defeated. The people have one eye open. They are beginning to awaken once more. We must open both their eyes with science, with hope, with vision, with a real alternative, one that is based on the truth of past revolutions, but integrates the most advanced science of today, all-powerful, awesome Leading Light Communism. We lead the poor people, the exploited workers, the ordinary farmers, the landless, the slum dwellers and homeless, the small owners, all who truly suffer the worst of this world. They are us. We are them. United in suffering, united in hope, united by our future, shared destiny, the Leading Light.
Those in power will fight us. To the arrogant, we say: “all that you are, all that you represent, all that you honor will be swept away by our mighty storm. From great chaos, the world can be reborn. There is great potential in those who have seen the reality of this system, who have looked it in the eye, who have endured the worst and survived. And we have endured. We have survived. What does not kill us, makes us stronger. For there is a power in the people that you will never understand, but you will come to know it. We promise you, we will bring it to you, one way or another. You are facing a people, a spirit, you have never seen before.”
Armed with the best, most advanced revolutionary science, all-powerful, awesome Leading Light Communism, we are guiding our friends, the masses, our people into tomorrow. We declare total war on the Old Power, all the poverty, suffering, cruelty, and pain. A New Power of the Leading Light, of peace, prosperity, happiness, justice, heroism, creativity, sharing is rising like the dawn pierces the night. We carry the future on our finger tips. Our future is our own. We will never stop fighting until we win. Fight, fight, fight, until total victory, total liberation, until Leading Light Communism, until we know once and for all that our children have a future, that the Earth will bloom again. This is our great destiny, and we are its walking martyrs. As the Vietnamese poet and revolutionary Ho Chi Minh wrote:
“Everything changes, the wheel
of the law turns without pause.
After the rain, good weather.”
The storm will get much worse before it gets better. It will get much darker before the dawn. But it will not last forever. It will get better. This is the time of heroes. Our sun is rising. Our day is coming.
“All the birds sing at once.
Men and animals rise up reborn.
What could be more natural?
After sorrow comes joy.”