Revisiting value and exploitation

Revisiting value and exploitation

Prairie Fire

(June, 2011)


When her father died in 1883 Eleanor Marx wrote an article celebrating her father’s achievements. At the heart of these was “his theory of value, by which Marx explains the origin and the continued accumulation of capital in the hands of a, thereby, privileged class.” (1) What was seen as so important at the time of his death has fallen by the wayside over a century later among the majority of those calling themselves “Marxist.” So-called Marxists today are content to forget Marx’s true theory of value because of the embarrassing fact that it would, if taken literally, preclude most First World workers from being exploited. It would count them outside of the proletariat,  outside the revolutionary class.  It is the mark of a scientific theory that it has a higher degree of explanatory and predictive power than its competitors. Whether Marx’s theory of value is the most scientific theory today is still an open question. However, Marx’s actual theory, in its best version, is far more scientific than the kind of butchered “Marxist” theories so often put forward by First Worldists. Not only does Marx’s theory gives us the tools, the language, to account for the rise of the mall economy of the United States and other First World countries, it helps us predict and explain the lack of revolutionary sentiment amongst the vast majority of those in the First World. Marx’s theory of value is the astronomy to the astrology of the First Worldist soothsayers.

Eleanor Marx describes the origin of value under capitalism:

“The sum thus entering the pocket of the capitalist Marx calls surplus-value. It is not all profit, but includes the employer’s profit. He has to share it with others: with the Government in the shape of rates and taxes, with the landlord for rent, with the merchant, etc… Thus, all of the classes of society not composed of actual and immediate producers of wealth… all classes, from kings and queens to music-masters and greengrocers, live upon their respective shares of this surplus value. In other words, they live upon the net producer of the surplus labor which the capitalist extracts from his work people, but for which he does not pay. It matters not whether the share of surplus-labor falling to each member of society not actually a producer is granted as a gift by Act of Parliament from the public revenue, or whether it has to be earned by performing some function not actually productive. There is no fund out of which they can be paid, but the sum total of the surplus value created by the immediate producers, for which they are not paid.” (2)

According to both Karl and Eleanor Marx, the value that makes society run has only one source, the “immediate producers of wealth.” In the England of Marx’s day, most of this class would have been industrial, waged workers — this would include workers on industrial farms since peasant direct producers were passing from the scene. Marx predicted that the trends that he witnessed in Western Europe would occur globally. He thought that society would become polarized into two great classes, the industrial capitalists and their workers. Thus, as capitalism advanced, the paradigmatic direct producer would come to be represented by the industrial worker. He saw the industrial working class as the proletariat, the revolutionary agent. Marx thought competition and development would even out from country to country. Thus revolution was a matter of “workers of the world, unite!” However, things did not work out exactly the way Marx foresaw.

It is always important to note that many of Marx’s conclusions were arrived at because he extrapolated from abstract models just as economists do today. This and a good deal of teleology  informed his views. However, the real world is more complex. Global society has not polarized exactly in the way that Marx foresaw. Instead, there exist different configurations of class society across countries. In some countries, there are very few direct producers at all. These are First World mall economies. Factories no longer dominate the lives of First World peoples. Only a small percentage of people in the First World work in factories anymore. A far greater number are employed in management, services, etc. This can be described in Marx’s terms as a decline in the percentage of the population engaged in productive labor, labor that adds to the total social product. Many First World economies can be described as a mall writ large.  Nothing, or very little, is produced at the mall. Yet people are employed managing, transporting, securing, etc. goods that are produced elsewhere but are sold at the mall.  It is the influx of goods from outside the mall that keeps the mall afloat. Production is going on outside the mall, in the Third World. It was the evaporation of direct production, and along with it the evaporation of revolutionary consciousness, that caused Friedrich Engels to write of the bourgeoisification of the English working class on the back of India and the world. Of English workers, Engels writes, “workers merrily share the feast of England’s monopoly of the colonies and the world market.” Even though Marx may have been wrong on unitary development and about the polarization of class, his theory of value does account for today’s world.

The world economy is made up of chains of economic interaction. Each commodity has a point where it was produced. Before a commodity finally leaves circulation it might be exchanged several times. Let’s say a commodity was produced at point A. It was bought by a middleman company and transported and sold again at point C. After being sold at the department store, the commodity leaves circulation. This chain can be represented thus:


At each stage of the commodity’s journey profit may be obtained. Let’s suppose profit is obtained when the commodity is sold from the factory at A to the middleman at B. Profit is obtained when the middleman company B sells it to the retail store C. And profit is also obtained when the retailer C sells the commodity to the consumer. Even though profit is obtained at each point in the circulation chain, surplus value can only be produced by the direct producer. Even though profit is obtained by the middlemen and distributor, this profit is not produced by the workers employed by either the middleman B or the retailer C.  This allows Marx to make the point that the merchant does not get rich by cheating his clerks:

“We must make the same distinction between him and the wage-workers directly employed by industrial capital which exists between industrial capital and merchant’s capital, and thus between the industrial capitalist and the merchant. Since the merchant, as mere agent of circulation, produces neither value nor surplus-value.. it follows that the mercantile workers employed by him in these same functions cannot directly create surplus-value for him.. In other words, that he does not enrich himself by cheating his clerks.”  (3)

When Marx is at his most consistent he extends this point very broadly. There is no reason we cannot extend Marx’s point about clerks to all of those outside production. Even if Marx isn’t always clear, and sometimes contradictory, one has to make this generalization to be consistent with the Labor Theory of Value. Direct production is the origin of value and the original source of all profit in the Marxist Labor Theory of Value paradigm. Thus, as Eleanor Marx points out, the value that is obtained by all classes has its origin in the direct producers. This is true not just of  true of the traditional ruling classes, but also of those who are employed but are not direct producers or part of direct production. These workers may help realize value but they do not produce it as the direct producer does. A bank does not create its profit by squeezing value out of its tellers. A bank obtains its profit by receiving a share of the total social product produced by direct producers. Banks obtain their share through investments and financial manipulations, but the origin of that value lies in direct production. The same is true of supermarkets. It isn’t like they grow the lettuce in the store parking lot. Santa’s elves are not toiling away in the back of the Toys ‘r’ Us.

Because of the tremendous productive capacity of capitalism, these unproductive sectors have expanded significantly. These unproductive sectors have come to dominate whole national economies in the First World. Walmart, for example, is the biggest employer in the United States, with over 1 million employees. (4) The total population of the United States is 309 million. Of the 145 million people who are employed (this includes the undocumented too) within the United States, roughly 26 million are employed in those sectors of the economy that loosely (since we are relying on Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data) correspond with direct production.  (5)  However, it is important to note that many of those employed in these sectors are not the direct producers themselves. Many in these sectors are management, etc., even if they are employed in the direct production sector of the economy. It is a conservative estimate that at least 10% to 30% of this sector can be considered to not be direct producers in a literal or extended sense.  We can generously say that 23.4 million to 18.2 million people in the United States can be counted as direct producers in the loosest sense of the term. By contrast, 126.8 million to 121.6 million in the United States are employed but are not direct producers. (6) This tremendous lopsidedness is why the United States’ economy can be described as a mall economy. As great as the productive forces may be, 23.4 million to 18.2 million people cannot account for the sum of the incomes of the 145 million employed plus the incomes of those  tens of millions who are not employed but still have incomes, i.e. capitalists, the petty bourgeoisie, the unemployed, those on  welfare, retirees, students, etc. Rather, it stands to reason, the value that allows for this tremendous lopsidedness has to be coming from outside “the mall,” from the Third World. It is, of course, no accident that the increase of this lopsidedness in the United States corresponds to the rise of the United States as the supreme imperialist power after World War II and the decline of inter-imperialist rivalry. Imperialism aided this lopsided development, and continues to maintain it. The lopsidedness is production, but also in wealth and power, after World War II, is why Lin Biao noted that revolution in the First World had halted even while revolution was bursting on the historical stage in the Third.

“Since World War II, the proletarian revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries, while the people’s revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been growing vigorously.” (7)

Another assumption Marx made was that the incomes of the direct producers under capitalism, which for Marx mostly meant the industrial workers, would be reduced to subsistence or sub-subsistence. This is because in a pure model competition between capitalists results over time in equalization of technique. So, the only way left for a capitalist to increase profits is to reduce wages. So much did Marx think this an inevitability of capitalism that Marx identified the value of labor-power with the bare minimum necessary to keep the worker reproducing his labor from day to day. Although this immiseration of direct producers does bear out in much of the Third World, it hardly characterizes any worker in the United States except perhaps some negligible undocumented workers at the very edges of the economy. Often, this does not even characterize the situation of prisoners who are forced to produce. Even those who produce in the First World obtain a wide range of incomes, all of them well above the value of labor-power as set by Marx. Their incomes and standard of living are so high as to make them generally happy with their lot within the system. They align with the imperialist system. Even though Marx was wrong about the exact details of immiseration, this view of value allows for what is seen today. Under Marx’s model, it is possible for value to be transferred from direct producers to others.  It is  also possible for value to be transferred from direct producers to direct producers. In other words, First World direct producers can obtain a share of the surplus that originates in the Third World. Even if a direct producer in the First World is adding to the global social product through his labor, at the same time, he is subtracting from the global social product the same way that other exploiters do. He is obtaining a share of value from the Third World. This offsets whatever value he produces. This makes him a net-exploiter, just like  members of other exploiting classes.

Marx’s theory of value allows for these possibilities that go a long way in explaining current reality. The claim by First Worldist that if profit is being obtained by a particular business, then there is exploitation by that business of its workers does not follow. An epistemological problem arises: how do we know whether a worker is an exploiter or not? Because value can be transferred in so many ways from one person to another, from one direct producer to another, it is necessary to establish a way to measure who is and who is not exploited. Either it is necessary to assign a value to labor-power or it is necessary to find another way to measure exploitation. Today virtually the entire world’s economy is integrated into one giant imperialist formation. The production of a commodity may take place across several countries. To complete a commodity it is not unusual for producers across vast distances to have contributed to its completion. To maintain that the labor-power of First World producers is different than the labor-power of Third World producers is pure chauvinism, especially since economies are so globalized today. Any approach to solving this problem should apply to workers everywhere. Comrade Serve the People has advanced a solution to the problem that establishes a rough estimate for the value of labor-power:

“Comrade Marx pointed out that labor is the substance of value. He said that the number of hours of average abstract socially necessary labor needed to produce a commodity represents its value. That means labor of average productivity under the given working conditions for the specified type of work. Therefore, if traded at value, one hour of labor put into harvesting parsnips is exchangeable against one hour of assembling washing machines (if the labor in both cases is of average productivity).

The nominal GDP of the entire world was $31.9 trillion in 2002. This figure represents everything produced in the world, including services (which tend to be overvalued), in a year’s time. The population is about 6.4 billion people. Assume that 2/3 of them work full time on a typical US schedule of 2000 hours per year. Then the value of average labor is $7500 per year, or about $3.75 per hour. (Slightly higher, actually, since the world’s population was a bit lower in 2002 than it is today.)

Elsewhere I have seen estimates from the UN that the world’s nominal GDP in 2005 is about $36 trillion. That would put the value of labor at $8400 per year, or $4.20 per hour. What is the implication? In the US, the minimum wage is $5.15 per hour, and even higher in some states and cities. If average labor is worth $4.20, then even people making the minimum wage are overpaid on average by about 23%. The average wage in the US is about $18 per hour, which is more than 4 times the value of labor.” (8)

Let’s look at another, stronger, less orthodox solution. In her characterization of her father’s theory of value, Eleanor Marx discusses the distribution of  the global social product under capitalism. Her father’s theory of value implies certain distributions are capitalist ones, other distributions are socialist ones. Eleanor characterizes the society of her day as a capitalist one with a distribution where those who do not contribute to the global social production receive shares from it. In fact, the majority of the shares of surplus-labor are distributed to non-producers of various kinds under capitalism. It is correct to criticize the distribution of the social product to reactionary  non-producing classes. However, any contemporary socialism has to direct distribution toward not only producers, but also the vast destitute stagnant, non-working poor across the Third World. The non-working destitute are a very significant, potentially explosive, class that is coming into its own as a class in the slums of Third World cities. Had the world polarized as Marx suggested, then a socialist distribution aimed at producers, to near exclusion of others, makes sense. However, this is not our world today, or our socialism. Our problem is that given that, under Marx’s scheme, value can be transferred from producers to both non-producers and to other producers, a bar needs to be set to establish who is and who is not exploited. I have advanced another possible solution to this problem that moves away from Marx’s theory of value, but can be said to be implicit in the Marxist criticism of imperialism:

“Some might object that a socialist distribution is not an egalitarian distribution. Rather, a socialist distribution is one where wealth is spread out, not evenly, but to those who do the work and those nations who do the work: she who does not work, shall not eat. Whereas the labor theory of value may be necessary for explaining the mechanics of exploitation, the distribution principle associated with it is not adequate to rectify the problem of inequality between countries that has been generated by imperialism. Such a distribution principle does not address the problem of underdevelopment. Surely populations in the most underdeveloped parts of the Third World, that have been rendered unproductive by imperialism, should not continue to remain in dire poverty under a global socialism. Whole countries of the “industrial reserve army” in the Third World may not currently be productive, but should not resources and development be directed to such populations under socialism? According to demographers, very soon, for the first time in history, the majority of the world’s populations will be living in cities. The new “global countryside” as the base areas of the global people’s wars may very well be the ghettos of Third World megacities. These ghettos are less sites for production then blights that show just how capitalism’s anarchy of production has failed to bring huge segments of the human population into production. Surely socialism must speak to these vast populations that will be the soldiers of the people’s wars over the next century.

The global economy is a causal nexus where value in various forms is transferred around the globe from one person to another. So, if one person is receiving more than an equal share, then somebody else is receiving less somewhere in the causal nexus. Likewise, if someone is receiving less, someone else is receiving more. Imperialism has created a world order where those who receive less and those who receive more correspond to populations in the Third World and First World respectively. Using egalitarianism as a regulative idea, one is exploited when one does not receive an equal share. One is an exploiter when one receives more than an equal share. A country is exploited when its population is largely made up the exploited who have less than an equal share. A country is an exploiter when its population is largely made up of exploiters who have more than an equal share. Implicit in the Marxist critique of imperialism is the idea that countries of the world should exist side by side as equals. The opposite relationship to the imperialist one is a relationship based on egalitarianism and self-determination.” (9) (10)

Marx avoided the problem by ascribing historical necessity to the trends he saw around him.  Even though Marx’s real theory of value is largely forgotten, it is much better than anything advanced by First Worldists today. We must start from, but also go beyond, Marx’s theory of value in order to answer what Mao called the question of first importance, the question of class: “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?” Global society looks very different today than in Marx’s day.  Lenin writes, “Imperialism has the tendency to create privileged sections also among the workers, and to detach them from the broad masses of the proletariat.” (11) Today this division has evolved such that whole countries lack the proletariat as the revolutionary class. This is why the world revolution has taken a very different shape than that in Marx’s day. Lin Biao writes:

“[T]he contemporary world revolution also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas. In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.” (12)

Today’s revolutionary path will much different than that of Marx’s time. It will be different than both the Bolshevik and Chinese experiences. The changing world requires a new strategy to really make revolution. Our path is the Global People’s War led by the Leading Light.


1. Marx, Eleanor “Marx’s Theory of Value,” in When Karl Marx Died ed. Foner, Philip S. International Publishers. USA: 1973 p. 230
2. ibid. p 235
3. Marx, Karl Capital Vol. 3 Chapter XVII
5. Data extrapolated from BLS statistic from 2009 and 2010 and
6. The method here is to add up all industries that can loosely be considered “direct production.” We do the same for other sectors. Also, 10% to 20% is subtracted in order to roughly account for those employed in the direct production sector, but who are not themselves direct producers, i.e management, etc. The numbers are from the employment charts at the Census Bureau.
7. Lin Biao Long Live the Victory of People’s War!
8. Serve the People A Rough Estimate of the Value of Labor.    *The minimum wage in the US is now $7.25 per hour.
9. Prairie Fire Real versus Fake Marxism on Socialist Distribution.
10. Prairie Fire Global Inequality or Socialist Equality.
12. Lin Biao Long Live the Victory of People’s War!


It’s still important to oppose book worship


It’s still important to oppose book worship


Mao criticized and mocked those who had a metaphysical, dogmatic approach to books and knowledge:

“Whatever is written in a book is right — such is still the mentality of culturally backward Chinese peasants. Strangely enough, within the Communist Party there are also people who always say in a discussion, “Show me where it’s written in the book.””

Our’s is a very rich tradition. The most important revolutionary works are those of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Lin Biao, and the new Leading Light. Anyone who seriously claims to be a revolutionary must have some familiarity with these works. Because of the richness of this literature, it is easy to fall into book worship. There are those who act as though whether or not a claim is true depends on whether it can be found in the revolutionary classics. This kind of metaphysical attitude toward the classics should be opposed. Whether or not an assertion or theory is correct depends on how well that it predicts and explains the world. In other words, reality, not tradition, is the ultimate judge. This is an important, fundamental part of materialist epistemology.

We should avoid getting into wars over scripture. We should not quote monger. We should not fetishize the classics. Ultimately, it does not matter who can produce more quotes from the classics in support of their position. Those elements of the classics that help us predict and explain our world should be developed and expanded, incorporated into our science. If helpful, those passages should be referenced. We should not be afraid of rejecting the classics where they are wrong. Marxism is not religion. The classics should not be regarded as the Holy Bible. We are scientists, not monks.

Science evolves. Just as Albert Einstein built on of Isaac Newton, Lenin built on the works of Marx. Mao built on the works of Lenin. Leading Light Communism builds on this revolutionary history. Our work builds on this tradition, incorporating and developing those elements that apply to the world, and leaving behind those elements that do not. We should not wrap ourselves in the orthodoxy as Maoists or Hoxhaists or Trotskyists do. Our authority is grounded in the truth of our science, not whether or not it reproduces an orthodoxy.

Leading Light Communism is the highest stage of Marxism, of revolutionary science. Today’s Marxism develops and supersedes the Marxism of the past. The importance of the development of Leading Light Communism should not be understated. It is this banner that will be at the head of the next wave of revolution. The future is ours. This is what matters most.


Solving the Gordian Knot


Solving the Gordian Knot, instruction on method and decisiveness


According to legend, in the city of Telmissus, there was a massive knot looped again and again around the front of an oxcart. Rope over rope, the knot endlessly turned in on itself. It was said that the person who was able to untie the knot would conquer the world. Many pretenders had come before and been unable to solve the puzzle. Alexander examined the challenge that had defeated so many before. Looking at the knot, the student of Aristotle drew his sword and slashed away. The knot fell to the ground. Alexander went on to conquer.

We must be as Alexander: decisive, bold, creative. We must not fight battles on the enemy’s terms. Do not let them set the rules. We play by our rules. Do the unexpected. In debate, direct your blows at the heart of an enemy’s argument. Do not be distracted. Do not let your blows be deflected. Do not be baited with sophistry or lies. Our strength is we are armed with the most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism. Truth is on our side.


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


Hitler’s Beneficiaries (2005) by Gotz Aly reviewed by Prairie Fire


Hitler’s Beneficiaries (2005) by Gotz Aly reviewed by Prairie Fire


Gotz Aly’s book Hitler’s Beneficiaries (2005) is a groundbreaking book. Aly breaks with the dogmatic view held by many myth-makers on the “left” that the German working class despised Hitler’s tyranny. It dispenses with the shared mythology found among almost all First Worldists, be they Trotskyist or Marxist-Leninist or whatever. Aly thoroughly shows that Hitler’s regime did not survive at the expense of German working class, but because of it. Hitler’s regime was able to stay in power, even when it was losing the war, because it was popular among ordinary Germans:

“Precisely because so many Germans did in fact benefit from Nazi Germany’s campaigns of plunder, only marginal resistance arose. Content as most Germans were, there was little chance for a domestic movement that would have halted Nazi crimes. This new perspective on the Nazi regime as a kind of racist-totalitarian welfare state allows us to understand the connection between the Nazi policies of racial genocide and the countless, seemingly benign family anecdotes about how a generation of German citizens ‘got through’ World War II.” (2)

Aly explains how the fascist regime’s imperial conquests were used to elevate the standard of living of ordinary Germans. This made the regime quite popular and dulled any resistance to its policies, including its radical racist policies. Nazi policy makers were very aware of the connection between imperial conquest, expropriation of the wealth of oppressed peoples, and domestic social peace. So much were they aware of this connection that they often sought to micro-manage every aspect of the plunder and exploitation of the conquered lands in order to assure continued German popular support. Aly’s book is important for those seeking to understand the relationship between the First World and Third World today. Just as the average German reaped benefits from German conquests, so too do First World workers reap huge benefits from the imperialist world system. Just as the Nazi regime designed a system to expropriate the wealth of oppressed peoples and other countries to benefit the German population, so too do policy makers today in the First World seek to benefit the populations of the First World at the expense of the Third World. The book is an important one for those seeking to understand how class structure changes due to imperialism.

Popular, Young and Radical

The word “Nazi” gets thrown around to mean all kinds of things. It is almost always associated with brutal, unpopular dictatorship. Though the Nazi regime was a brutal and unpopular dictatorship toward those that it oppressed, most Germans did not perceive it that way. Most Germans were not on the receiving end of its jackboot. According to Aly:

“The Third Reich was not a dictatorship maintained by force. Indeed, the Nazi leadership developed an almost fearful preoccupation with the mood of the populace, which they monitored carefully, devoting considerable energy and resources toward fulfilling consumer desires, even to the detriment of the country’s rearmament program.” (25)

Aly paints another picture of the regime, at least as it was experienced by Germans. Hitler’s regime was very popular, radical, and young. It was not perceived as representing the old, stale, conservative order. It was seen as very new and different. The Nazi revolution was seen as exciting. It was a revolution for and by the young. For example:

“When Hitler came to power in 1933, Joseph Goebbels was thirty-five years old. Reinhard Heydrich was twenty-eight; Albert Speer, twenty-seven; Adolf Eichmann, twenty-six; Josef Mengele, twenty-one; and Heinrich Himmler and Hans Frank, both thirty-two. Hermann Göring, one of the eldest among the party leadership, had just celebrated his fortieth birthday.” (13-14)

Later, during World War 2, according to one survey, the average age of mid-level party leaders was 34, and within the government 44. (14) Nazi leaders were some of the youngest in the world. Germans in their 20s and 30s were deciding major state policies. The Nazi young were shaping the world. They were deciding the fates of peoples and nations. Most Germans did not see the regime as oppressive and stogy, they saw the regime as redesigning a young and brave new world:

“For most young Germans, National Socialism did not mean dictatorship, censorship, and repression; it meant freedom and adventure.” (14)

Even during the war, the regime was popular:

“The German leadership created and maintained a kind of wartime socialism aimed at attracting the loyalty of ordinary citizens.” (53)

The regime was not dominated by conservative pessimism, but by youthful optimism about overcoming the old divisions between Germans. The regime saw the traditional divisions and inequality between Germans as a big part of the problems that faced the nation. The youthful spirit of the regime meant that it was more likely to take on ambitious social programs to overcome these divisions. The regime put a premium on unity and social peace, at least among Germans. This peace was more often than not bought at the expense of other peoples. Even though the Nazi ideology preached inequality between the races, it placed great importance on equality among Germans. This was the “socialist” aspect of “National Socialism.” Although, in reality, there was nothing truly socialist about the Nazi regime. There is no such thing as “National Socialism,” the only true socialism is internationalist. Real socialism does not merely represent the interests of a single nation’s workers. Real socialism represents the interests of the proletariat, which is the international revolutionary class. Socialism and communism should not be confused with nationalism.

Debt, Taxation, Aryanization

As the Nazi regime began its rearmament program, it borrowed extensively. As the regime rearmed, and even as it went to war, it sought to shift the burden away from ordinary Germans. The regime sought to keep the social peace. During World War 1, between 1914 and 1918, the average German’s standard of living fell almost 65 percent. The Third Reich did not want a repeat of this situation as they planned for World War 2. (35) In 1939, one Nazi law stipulated: “Previous standards of living and peacetime income levels are to be taken into account when calculating degrees of family support for members of the Wehrmacht.” (69) The Nazi regime sought a “socially just sharing of the burden” in the years leading up to the war and after. (38) The regime accomplished this in many ways. For example, the Nazis regime’s taxation policies were redesigned to lift the burden from the ordinary German. (55) The Nazi hierarchy rejected tax policies that would alienate their popular support.  (50) The Nazis implemented progressive taxation designed to create popular support. One Nazi report was happy of the successes in 1943: “People meet their financial obligations, mortgages are paid off, and court-ordered repossessions are on the decline.” (58) Tax breaks were especially extended to farmers and subsidies were extended (55) At the same time, the Nazis increase the tax burden on the wealthy. “The trend toward soaking businesses and the wealthy gained further momentum in the fiscal year 1942-43.” (62) Hitler also increased the burden on those who made “effortless income” through investments in the stock market. (65) Industrialists complained that the Nazi regime was siphoning off 80 to 90 percent of business profits in 1943. Even though this figure is an exaggeration, it gives a sense about the Nazi’s orientation to keep the social peace at home. (68)

In addition, the Nazis kept the social peace by increasing welfare and state benefits. They voted for an increase in social programs and in pension payments, especially for small-time pensioners. They called for “blue- and white-collar workers to be put on equal footing” to give them a preliminary taste of the harmonious future to come. This future would be achieved by “generous reform of the social welfare state in the interest of working people.” Over and over, the more ideological wing of the regime often intervened against the more pragmatic wing. Social peace and social benefits often won out over fiscal responsibility. Despite budget problems, people like Martin Bormann, Albert Speer, Heinrich Himmler, and Food and Agricultural Minister Herbert Backe intervened for ordinary Germans. Hitler was able to stay aloof from the debate. (57)

As it rearmed, made war, and sought to keep the social peace, the regime went into massive debt so much so that it faced eventual financial collapse. The Nazis borrowed from domestic and foreign sources. Eventually, they would strong-arm occupied countries into “loaning” the regime large sums. The Nazis had no intention of paying these sums back and entered them as revenue in their books. (266) The Nazis used whatever financial tricks were available to hide the true extent of their borrowing. In 1938, Göring stated, “I know no other way to keep my Four Year Plan and the German economy going.” (45) The borrowing reached a point where the only solution to keeping the German economy afloat was to cannibalize the Jewish population and, eventually other peoples. The cannibalization of Jewish assets was referred to as “Aryanization.” Aly writes:

“Forced to come up with ever more creative ways of refinancing the national debt, they turned their attention to property owned by German Jews, which was soon confiscated and added to the so-called Volksvermogen, or collective assets, which by no means restricted to German society, implied the possibility of dispossessing those considered ‘alien’ (Volksfremden) or ‘hostile’ (Volksfeinden) to the ethnic mainstream.” (41)

Aly writes:

“[The state] distributed material goods that improved the popular mood. The political leadership unambiguously directed civil servants ‘to act, in light of their special responsibility toward all the people, with corresponding understanding of the concerns and needs of family members of front-line soldiers.’” (70)

Aryanization was the transfer of Jewish assets into the hands of the regime and into the hands of ordinary Germans. (41) The regime sought the “definitive removal of Jews from economic life” and “transforming Jewish wealth in Germany into assets that will deny [the Jews] any economic influence.” (44)

“Aryanization was essentially a gigantic, tans-European trafficking operation in stolen goods. It may have taken different forms in different countries, but the ultimate destination of the revenues generated was always the German war chest. These funds enabled the Reich to defray its main financial burdens.” (184)

Aryanization took various forms from outright plunder of assets and terror against Jewish people to legal and quasi-legal measures. Banks and other financial institutions helped the process. “The bank directors were not the ones doing the actual plundering here, but they acted as accessories, helping maximize the efficiency of the dispossession campaign.” (50) Often, the transfer was thinly disguised. For example, the regime forced Jews to surrender their assets for government stocks and bonds. On paper, the Jews were compensated. (43) Göring stated:

“The Jew is being driven from the economy and is surrendering his economic assets to the state. In return he is being compensated. His compensation is noted in the ledger sheet and accrues a certain amount of interest. That is what he has to live on.”  (45)

In the end, the population would be driven into exile and liquidated in the Holocaust, never redeeming their property. For example, in 1938, Jewish liquid assets, according to one calculation, which excluded real-estate and business assets, totaled 4.8 billion reichsmarks which could be confiscated by the Reich.  The process was repeated again and again. This helped keep the state solvent. The state also took preemptive measures when Jews sought to flee or transfer assets out of Germany.  In 1938, the state issued an edict that the proceeds of the expulsion of Jews go directly to the Reich.  Jewish goods were sold at cheap prices to the public, while at the same time financing the regime’s war-chest and social democratic policies. (43-47) Librarian Gertrud Seydelmann recalled the auctions of Aryanized goods in Hamburg’s working-class districts:

“Ordinary housewives suddenly wore fur coats, traded coffee and jewelry, and had imported antique furniture and rugs from Holland and France… Some of our regular readers were always telling me to go down to the harbor if I wanted to get hold of rugs, carpets, furniture, jewelry, and furs. It was property stolen from Dutch Jews who, as I learned after the war, had been taken away to the death camps…” (130)

Aly writes:

“The Reich and its citizens also benefited from the increased availability of capital, real estate, and goods ranging from precious stones and jewels all the way down to the cheap wares sold at flea markets. The dispossession of the Jews also stabilized the economies and calmed the political atmosphere in occupied countries, greatly simplifying the task of the Wehrmacht. Goods sold off at less than their actual worth provided an indirect subsidy to both German and foreign buyers.” (248)

The regime sought to justify the plunder of Jewish assets with their racist, but also social democratic, ideology. Those who pushed for social democratic reform were also those who pushed the most genocidal policies. The two were linked. (57) In 1938, Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick stated:

“Assets currently in Jewish hands are to be regarded as the property of the German people. Any destruction of or decrease in their value means a decrease in the collective assets of the German people.” (45-46)

Selling off of Jewish goods also slowed down inflation, associated with the war. It also eased the tax burdens on ordinary Germans, yet more benefits accrued from plunder. (186) The Aryanization of assets helped keep the economy afloat, increased the luxuries available to the German population, and helped keep government benefits flowing. The policies were popular with ordinary German tax payers. The Aryanization of Germany would later become the model for a more ambitious Aryanization throughout occupied Europe. (46-48)

War, Occupation, Plunder

Even during the height of the war, Germans were, generally, satisfied with their lot. Just as the Nazis cannibalized Jewish assets in order to increase social peace, they also transferred value from those countries they occupied to Germany. Aly writes:

“[O]nce the Nazi state undertook what became the most expensive war in world history, the majority of Germans bore virtually none of the costs. Hitler shielded the average Aryan from that burden at the cost of depriving others of their basic subsistence.” (9)

“The Nazi regime required the constant military destabilization of the periphery in order to maintain the illusion of financial stability at the center of the Reich.” (40)

The regime designed elaborate methods to offset war costs and also to keep value flowing from the occupied countries to Germany in order to keep Germans happy. One way that they accomplished this was by requiring occupied countries to pay for their own occupation.

“Over the course of World War II, Germany mandated unprecedented contributions, along with compulsory loans and population-based ‘quotas,’ on the defeated countries of Europe. These financial tributes soon exceeded the total peacetime budgets of the countries in question, usually by more than 100 percent and in the second half of the war by more than 200 percent.” (77)

“By 1943 the majority of the Reich’s additional war-related revenues came from abroad, from foreign slave laborers in Germany, and from the dispossession of Jews as ‘enemies of the state.’ These sources of income underwrote a significant portion of Germany’s military efforts.” (79)

These occupation costs were used to exact more and more tribute from the defeated. For example, the French complained that the tribute paid to Germany for occupation costs was being used for things that had nothing to do with occupation. (78) In Greece, plundering wiped out “some 40 percent of real Greek income” in 1941. (248) This was part of a larger process of shifting the burdens of the war away from Germans onto other peoples.

Another way that the Germans offset their costs and plundered occupied peoples was through requisitioning materials needed on the spot from occupied peoples. Germans introduced Reich Credit Bank certificates, a kind of promissory note for services and goods used by the occupation forces. These were used so that the military did not have to forcibly confiscate goods. The certificates gave the plunder the appearance of legality, an air of legitimacy. The introduction of certificates was the introduction of a second currency:

“German bayonets forced the defeated enemy to accept ultimately worthless pieces of paper as a de facto equivalent of their own currency. The damage to the French economy was scarcely noticeable at first, while the German economy earned a tidy profit.” (88)

This was repeated elsewhere in occupied areas. This second currency made the short term transfer of value easier, but it also had the side-effect of destabilizing the local currencies of occupied peoples. This made long-term transfer of value more difficult because the introduction of a second currency controlled by the Germans wrecked the economies of the occupied peoples. The introduction of the certificates helped streamline the short-term plunder of occupied peoples. Later, in 1943, these certificates were withdrawn to stabilize the franc in France. (87) This was part of an ongoing conflict between policy makers. Some sought to transfer as much value back to Germany as immediately as possible to offset war costs and keep Germans happy. Others recognized that there would be a bigger pay off to Germans if the economies of occupied countries were kept stable. More value could be siphoned off to Germany in the long term.

Plunder was also carried on through other financial manipulations that benefited Germans at the expense of occupied peoples. The Nazi occupation forces disguised their plunder of the occupied peoples through currency manipulations that favored Germans. The Germans consciously manipulated currency exchange rates in their favor. Currency manipulation benefited both the German economy and soldiers in the occupied countries. Germany relied on the importation of raw materials to maintain its war effort and domestic production. Currency manipulation made the purchase and export of materials to Germany cheaper. It gave German soldiers in the occupied areas more purchasing power to buy more goods for themselves and allowed them to send more to Germany.  Manipulating foreign currencies both kept German consumers well supplied and it added to Germany’s war-chest. (76-81)

Plunder in Hand and Mail

German soldiers emptied the shelves of occupied countries. They plundered and stole. However, they also paid for goods that were radically undervalued. German policy was designed to crash the economies of the occupied countries to aid in value transfer to Germany. An intended effect of this was to increase the purchasing power of German soldiers. The goods they acquired were consumed by soldiers themselves or sent back home to Germany through military packages. Also soldiers carried goods back with them when they could. Many Germans look back fondly of the abundance of foreign luxuries made possible by the war. Germans who received goods from the occupied lands “boasted and bragged.” Aly quotes a German who lived through the period:

“I remember a number of nice things.. that friends and relatives would proudly unpack from parcels received from ‘abroad’… People had more respect for the sender and compared him favorably with those who hadn’t sent anything back.” (97)

Laws were changed to encourage the smooth flow of value to Germany. Deputy Finance Minister Reinhardt intervened to settled complaints on Germany’s northern and eastern borders. He invoked a decree by Hitler: “It is the Fuhrer’s will that as many foodstuffs as possible be brought back home from the occupied eastern territories and that customs authorities take a hands-off approach.” (106) Also, the customs border between Germany and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Monrovia was abolished. This prompted a “purchasing frenzy” among German soldiers. One official wrote, “the luggage nets of the express trains are packed to the roof with heavy suitcases, bulky packages, and stuffed bags.” Everyone, even those of high rank, were packaging their luggage with “the most extraordinary consumer goods – furs, watches, medicines, shoes – in nearly unimaginable quantities.” (97) One historian describes what the French called “potato beetles”:

“Loaded with heavy packages, German soldiers departed from the Gare de l’Est for home leave. They had been acquired in countless petty transactions, but they did significant damage to the French national economy, playing a significant role in the development of the black market and inflation. They were the reason it was increasingly difficult for everyday French people to procure the basic necessities.” (98)

In 1942, when debate arose over the failure to enforce customs policies, Göring intervened, “Mr. Reinhardt, desist with your customs checks. I’m, no longer interested in them… I’d rather have unlimited amounts of goods smuggled in than have customs duties paid on nothing at all.” The Nazi elite intervened against the bureaucracy and in favor of the ordinary German. Thus ordinary Germans benefited in a very direct and tangible way from the occupation of defeated peoples.

Conflicts again arose between those bent on helping the ordinary Germany by the immediate plunder and those with a more long-term approach. In these debates, Göring stated:

“It has been said that we need to restrict soldiers’ access to their pay, or it will cause inflation in France. But inflation is what I want to see more than anything else… The franc should be worth nothing more than a sheet of a certain type of paper used for a specific purpose. That will hit France exactly the way we want to hit France.” (105)

Throughout the war and occupations, debates arose within the regime about how best to transfer value out of the defeated and occupied countries. Bureaucrats weighed the pluses and minuses of short-term and long-term strategies. However, throughout, the Nazis were very aware to design occupation policies to benefit the German state, but also to benefit the ordinary German and keep the social peace.


An estimated 8 to 12 million slave laborers, mostly from Eastern Europe, worked for the Nazi regime. They worked under dangerous and inhuman conditions, often in the German arms industry.  In the most infamous cases, especially in the East, German and German-backed enterprises  and organizations “worked to death [their forced laborers] in conditions of virtual slavery.” (161) Even capitalists complained on occasion. For example, conditions were so bad for forced laborers that sometimes German companies protested their treatment. For example, in East Prussia, German companies complained that Polish workers were being so brutally exploited that there was no incentive to work. They complained to the Nazi regime that the system was so brutal that it was hindering the ability to produce. Sometimes these workers received a nominal “pay” that was 15 to 40 percent lower than  the average German pay. They “paid” the workers as part of public relations to shield themselves from criticism. However, the reality is that the authorities invented a number of schemes to cheat their workers and confiscate this “pay.” For example, when Germans occupied northern Italy, in September 1943, they put more than half a million POWs to work in the Reich as forced laborers. “Pay” was deposited into an account supposedly set up for the workers’ families to be able to withdraw the funds. However, the pay never made it back to the families of the forced laborers. Rather, the funds were secretly converted into German treasury bonds to pay for external occupation costs. (156-161)

The Germans stole the possessions of forced laborers. For example, when forced laborers were conscripted in the Ukraine, “Possessions left behind as well as any cash” were handed over and sold. “Animal inventory (horses, cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, geese, etc.) as well as hay, straw, and field crops” were offered up for sale to the economics command of the local Wehrmacht division. The money from the sale of the assets of forced laborers eventually made their way to the German treasury. In theory, these funds would be transferred back to their owners at a later date. The reality is the funds only made their way into German accounts. This pattern was repeated over and over. The plunder, exploitation and taxation of German forced laborers ended up benefiting the German populace. It gave the cash-strapped German welfare programs a boost. (163-164)

Fat Germans and the Starving East

The Nazis also enacted policies of total plunder, designed to both aid Germans and to destroy enemy populations. In 1941, Göring issued a statement,“As a general principle for occupied territories, only those who work for us should be assured of receiving the food they need.” He advocated “ruthless conservation measures” to ensure the flow of food to Germany. Some of the first to be affected by these policies were Soviet POWs. Goebbels noted: “The catastrophic starvation there exceeds all description.” In Riga, German soldiers discussed their “assignment to let Russian POWs starve and freeze to death.” By, February 2, 1942, 2 million of the 3.3 million Red Army prisoners, 60 percent, had died in the hands of the German camps or in transit. (174-175)

The policy of starving Soviet POWs and Jews was also applied to Soviet cities. Göring addressed an audience in 1942, telling them that “we are feeding our entire army from the occupied territories.” He went on to announce that food rations would be increased and there would be a “special allocation” for Christmas. Göring proclaimed:  “From this day on things will continue to get better since we now possess huge stretches of fertile land. There are stocks of eggs, butter, and flour there that you cannot even imagine.” He also announced that there would be an “opening up of space in the East” that would allow for a return of “near-peacetime conditions.” He promised that the war would be fought to “successful conclusion without major privations.” One report stated that “Göring spoke to the heart and stomach.” (175) Aly shows some representative statistics showing how much food was transferred:




In 1942, one official wrote that his job was to relieve “the home front as much as possible from the need to send supplies.” All that was left over that  “the Wehrmacht couldn’t find a use for” was to be sent back to Germany.

“Huge amounts of wheat, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, and eggs are being transported for distribution to the Reich. If, as my wife wrote me, the few weeks of food production should see the successful delivery of sunflower oil, I can say with pride that I was directly involved in the operation.” (178-179)

In 1942, extra food sent back from the front was directed especially toward Germans engaged in hard physical labor, pregnant women, and Aryan senior citizens. Ordinary German citizens also benefited. Their access to food and purchasing power increased as a result of the plundering of food. One German recalled after the war, “During the war we didn’t go hungry. Back then everything worked. It was only after the war that things turned bad.”  (178-179)

German National “Socialism”

Nazis sought to advance the interests of Germans by creating a great German-centered empire.  This vision was linked to the subjugation of other peoples, including the genocide of the Jews and Eastern peoples. Other countries were to be subdued, their populations made to work for the benefit of Germans. Eastern peoples would be enslaved and exterminated, so their land could be settled. Hitler once compared his Eastern ambitions with the genocidal Western expansion of the United States in North America. This vision aimed at German social peace, at elevating the standard of living of ordinary Germans. Aly writes:

“The constant Nazi talk of needing more space and colonies, of Germany’s place on the world stage and eastward expansion, as well as of the imperative of ‘de-Jewification,’ was aimed at hastening a rise in the German standard of living, which the domestic economy alone could never have supported.” (317)

Himmler, in his capacity as Reich commissioner for settlement projects, stated:

“The territories in question have been conquered by armed campaigns as part of a war waged by all Germans [so that] the fruits of this victory may benefit the entire German people.” (306)

Reducing class differences was a big part of the plan to settle Germans in Eastern Europe. (30-31) Reducing divisions and social peace among Germans were a big part of Nazi ideology.  Hitler promised  equality to all members of the Volk. During the war, every member of the Volk was to be provided for. In 1940, an observer from the Social Democratic Party reported that in Berlin: “The working classes thoroughly welcome the fact that ‘the better off’ have, in practical terms, ceased to be that.” Rationing policies during the war strove for equality among Germans. (322)

Elevating ordinary Germans was a big part of Nazi policy. Their loyalty was secured through progressive taxation policies designed to lift the burden from working and lower-strata Germans. Their loyalty was bought by increasing their wages, purchasing power, and access to consumer goods.  Nazi policies sought to increase the benefits to ordinary German workers. They sought to expand privileges once reserved for the upper classes to the lower classes. For example, the Berlin regional warden of the German Labor Front was very energetic in his promotion of benefits to labor:

“In 1938 we want to devote ourselves more and more to reaching all those comrades who still think that vacation travel isn’t something for blue-collar workers. This persistent misconception must finally be overcome.” (21)

In 1943, at the height of the war, Nazis were fixated on keeping Germans happy. Martin Bormann stated: “The spending power of the broad masses is what’s important!” (57) Nazi policy did much to shift the burden off of ordinary Germans to the conquered peoples, but also to the upper classes in Germany:

“From the fall of 1941 onward, the political leadership blocked all proposals by finance experts to levy supplementary wartime taxes on the wages and everyday consumer spending of average Germans. They had no such scruples about taxing the upper classes.” (312)

All of these popular measures combined in National “Socialism.” The Nazi regime kept Germans well fed. It turned genocide and the conquest of other peoples into a gold rush. Ordinary Germans willingly participated. “[C] oncern for the welfare of Germans was the decisive motivation behind policies of terrorizing, enslaving, and exterminating enemy groups.” (309) Aly holds that it was the Nazi appeal to the stomach more than ideological pronouncements about the “master race” that kept the German population loyal. “The Nazi regime profited from the basic satisfaction of ordinary Germans, regardless of whether they felt a sense of attachment to or… distance from the party ideology.” (311) Because the regime sought to advance the interests of ordinary Germans, real resistance to the regime “from below” never materialized. Aly dismisses the myth-making that has surrounded a German supposed “resistance” to Hitler.

“Germans were kept passive and generally content by a lavish social welfare system that was paid for by these riches. The improvement in the public mood that came with increases in people’s material welfare…” (304)

“Nothing less than massive popular greed made it possible for the regime to tame the majority of Germans with a combination of low taxes, ample supplies of consumer goods, and targeted acts of terror against social outsiders. The best strategy in the eyes of the public-opinion-conscious Nazi leadership was to keep all Germans happy.” (324)

“Later, when the fighting was over, the fateful collaboration of millions of Germans vanished, as if by magic, to be replaced by a wildly exaggerated — and historically insignificant — record of resistance to Hitler.” (319)

This lack of resistance was also reflected in the size of the Gestapo:

“[T]he Gestapo in 1937 had just over 7,000 employees, including bureaucrats and secretarial staff. Together with a far smaller force of police, they sufficed to keep tabs on more than 60 million people. Most Germans simply did not need to be subjected to surveillance or detention.” (29)

The parallels today are obvious. Just as Hitler elevated the German population on the backs of the defeated peoples, First World peoples live on the backs of the Third World peoples. Just as people waited in vain for a German worker’s revolution against Hitler, they wait in vain for First World worker’s revolution. The Nazis were not defeated internally, the Nazis were defeated externally, by the Red Army. German workers did not oppose the Nazi regime because they benefited from it. They willingly joined in the cannibalization of other peoples. Today, First World peoples as a whole join with their own rulers against the peoples of the Third World. We are in the middle of yet another world war, a war by the First World against the Third World.This war only benefits the First World at the expense of the Third World. Just as Hitler was defeated by the Red Army, so too must the First World be defeated by a global people’s war led by Leading Light Communists.

Metaphysics versus Materialism

Karl Marx famously critiqued the idea that history should be explained as a series of great men. Instead of looking at history as the result of great men or cabals of great men, Marx looked at history scientifically. Marx looked at the world through the lenses of power. Marx traced historic and social phenomena back to power systems of classes, nations, and genders. Marx called this historical materialism. Aly applies historical materialism to the question of  how Nazism could have happened.

“So complex an answer to the question of how Nazism could have happened does not lend itself to mere antifascist sloganeering or didacticism of museum exhibits. It is necessary to focus on the socialist aspect of National Socialism, if only as a way of advancing beyond the usual projections of blame onto specific individuals and groups — most often the delusional, possibly insane Fuhrer but also the cabal of racist ideologues or the members of a particular class, like bankers and business tycoons, or certain Wehrmacht generals or the elite killing units. The chief problem with such approaches is they all suggest that a special group of evil ‘others’ bears culpability for Nazi crimes.” (8)

Aly extends our understanding of the relationship between fascism and social democracy. Aly’s book develops the analysis of the Comintern in the 1930s. Whether Aly is aware of it or not, Aly stands in the tradition of Marxists like Rajani Palme Dutt and the theories of “social fascism.” Aly casts aside “leftist” dogma. Rather Nazism is explained by ruthlessly looking at its material origin. The Nazis represented an alignment of social forces, which included German workers. German workers supported the Nazis. The Nazis returned the favor. In many ways, the Nazi’s politics was very similar to their social democratic opponents. It was Lenin who criticized the German and French social democrats when they supported the war efforts of their imperialist homelands in World War 1. The revisionists placed their own peoples, their own workers, ahead of the global proletariat by doing so. Lenin, by contrast, advocated the policy of revolutionary defeatism. Lenin sought the defeat of the Czarist empire in the hope that a defeat for his imperialist homeland could lead to a revolutionary situation. Contrary to Lenin, the revisionists of the Second International were the social imperialists and social fascists of their day. They were socialist in name, but in reality, they were imperialists. Even the Nazis’ official party name was the “National Socialist German Workers’ Party.” Today, First Worldism is the main form of social imperialism and social fascism. Like the Nazis in World War 2 and the social democrats of World War 1, First Worldists may use Marxist and socialist rhetoric, they may even claim to care about the Third World, but, in reality, they seek to advance the interests of their populations at the expense of the vast majority of humanity. First Worldism raises the red flag to oppose the red flag. Like Lenin before, Leading Light Communism represents the interests of the proletariat and oppressed as a whole. Just as Lenin made the break with the kind of narrow, unimaginative, dogmatic thinking of his day, so does every real revolutionary scientist, so too does Leading Light Communism.

The First Worldist outlook is not based on scientific analysis, it is based on dogma. Aly helps demonstrate the bankruptcy of First Worldist chauvinism and the vulgar “workerism” that simply assumes that everyone who makes a wage or receives a salary has a common interest in socialism. Such “workerism” makes the assumption that all employees have a common class interest and can be aligned for socialism. To maintain that all of those who are employed, both in the First World and Third World, are part of the same class is pure metaphysics. The entire twentieth century has shown us that this is simply not the case. The reason that “communism” is considered dead today is that people can easily see that the rhetoric of those claiming to be “communist” does not correspond with reality at all. Even radical Islam, and its jihad against the West, draws the lines of friends and enemies more accurately than First Worldist so-called Marxism. By contrast, Leading Light Communism looks at the real world. Leading Lights look at the actual historical record; Leading Lights look at the actual way social forces align, not how we imagine them to align. Leading Light Communism has brought science back to communism. The Leading Lights have elevated revolutionary science to a whole new stage. Aly’s book is a powerful weapon in the struggle against dipshitism posing as Marxism.


Aly, Gotz. Hitler’s Beneficiaries. Holt Paperbacks, USA: 2005


The Anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution


The Anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution


November 7th, 2010 is the 93rd anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution. Today we celebrate the great breakthrough of the first successful sustained victory of the proletariat. Prior to 1917, there had been other revolutions, but they were not able to successfully consolidate power. They were quickly defeated by counter-revolution. However, the Bolshevik revolution lasted over three decades before it too was defeated. The Bolshevik revolution was the peak of the first great wave of proletarian revolutions. Let’s look at some of the accomplishments of the Soviet Union:

1. The first proletarian state. Lenin said that without state power, all is illusion. For the first time in history our class was able to consolidate its hold on state power. Rather than being a tool of the reactionaries to oppress the people, the state was used to suppress the counter-revolutionaries and advance the revolution. From the commanding heights of state power, we were able to begin to remake all of society.

2. First successful planned economy. The Soviet Union was the first attempt by the proletariat to create an economy organized to serve the people. It was the first attempt to create an economy where the oppressed were not at the mercy of cold market forces. The proletariat and the oppressed escaped the anarchy of production that is capitalism. Instead, production was brought under the control of the state and the party of the proletariat.

3. Great leap. Under proletarian leadership, the Soviet Union went from an undeveloped backwater to a modern superpower able to challenge imperialism on the world stage. Under the Czar, only a few cities were industrialized. Under the leadership of our class, a whole country was modernized. Even the atom was conquered. The Soviet Union became the second most powerful country on Earth.

4. Defeat of fascism. During World War 2, the Soviet peoples suffered over 26 million deaths, more casualties than all other countries combined. The Great Patriotic War against fascism was a people’s war against fascism. It was the Soviet people who were the front line fighters in this struggle against Hitler and his vile racist ideology. Had the Soviet Union not existed, Hitler’s troops would have marched to the Pacific ocean. They would have won World War 2 and done to Eastern Europe and Asia what the United States did to its Indigenous peoples. In fact, Hitler took the genocide and “Manifest Destiny” carried out by the United States as his model. The Soviet Union, its Red Army, our Party led by Stalin stopped Hitler’s genocidal armies in their tracks.

5. New proletarian culture. The old culture was one that promoted racism, chauvinism, sexism, privileges, and inequality. For the first time in history, the oppressed and exploited were in control of art and media. A new proletarian culture was born to promote the values of peace, equality and self-determination. Our art and our song were seen and heard across the world.

6. Advancing and spreading revolutionary science. The Bolshevik revolution advanced our understanding of revolutionary science. It was out of the Bolshevik revolutionary experience that Lenin developed his theory of the state, of dual power, of the vanguard party, of the self-determination of nations. Lenin’s contributions have become a key part of Marxism today,  Leading Light Communism. A country spanning one sixth of the world’s land mass was now liberated, serving as a base area to spread our science and revolution around the world. It was through the Bolshevik experience that Marxism became Marxism-Leninism. Revolutionary science was advanced to a whole new stage. Marxism-Leninism was the second stage of revolutionary science. The revolution spread revolutionary science across the globe; it spread Marxism-Leninism.

The Soviet Union was not perfect. Our revolution in the Soviet Union was lost to counter-revolution. A new capitalist class emerged and reversed our great accomplishments; they finally  consolidated their counter-revolution after World War 2. All was not lost. The first great wave of revolution inspired a second. Under Maoist leadership, the Chinese revolution advanced even further. We must learn and improve on the past, so we can do better next time. Even with its errors, the Soviet experience has much to teach us today.

Today, the people of the world are demoralized. They do not see a way out of the madness of capitalism-imperialism: poverty, starvation, war, inequality, chauvinism, racism, national oppression, patriarchy, ecological catastrophe. The vast majority of humanity starves in the Third World while those in the First World grow fat. A minority lives at the expense of the vast majority. The imperialists claim that communism is dead,  that history is at its end. They say that socialism and communism are impossible. We answer by pointing to history. The Soviet Union was a shining light, despite its flaws. It represented hope to people everywhere. Its existence proved that another world is possible. It is possible for people to control their own lives. Exploitation and oppression are not the only way to live.  Communists have always been at the forefront of struggles to create a better way. We are leading lights showing the way out of the madness.


On healthcare and barefoot doctors


On healthcare and barefoot doctors


The following is an mainstream, bourgeois article from National Public Radio on socialist China’s barefoot doctors. The barefoot doctors were part of socialist China’s alternative approach to medicine. The program sought to provide basic health care to the Chinese masses. Under previous regimes, the vast majority in China had little access to health care. Because of programs and campaigns such as this one, China’s life expectancy doubled while the Communists were in power from 1949 to the 1970s. However, socialism in China was reversed in the 1970s. Today, China is thoroughly capitalist. And, its masses have suffered as a result. Nonetheless, it is important to learn for the successes and failures of past revolutionary movements.

In previous years there has been debate over whether or not to enact health care reform in the United States. The Democratic Party, led by Obama, seeks something close to universal coverage for people in the United States. The Republicans are doing what they can to block the reform. The Republicans seek to keep health care as it is, in the private sector. Even though communists seek health care for all. Under a socialism and communism, health care is a right for all. Everyone deserves a decent life.  Even so,  it is important to connect the dots. The First World does not exist in a vacuum. It  should be pointed out that  if social democratic-type gains are made, they will be paid for by the Third World. Third World peoples, largely without health care, will be paying for health care reform in the United States. People in the United States already, under their current system, have more health care than most people in the world. People in the United States, with their wealth and privilege, already consume way more than their share of the global social product. The real tragedy is that billions of people in the Third World have almost no health care at all. While the liberals, and liberals wearing Marxist masks, concern themselves with increasing the standard of living for First World peoples, Leading Light Communists seek a radical reorganization of the world economy that serves the majority of humanity. Leading Light Communists recognize that by raising the standard of living for First World peoples, one generally lowers the standard of living for the vast majority in the Third World. The wealth it takes to raise First World peoples up has to come from somewhere. Leading Light Communists seek to increase access to health care for the proletariat and its allies in the Third World before they seek to increase health care for the wealthy First World populations. With this goal in mind, China’s experiment with barefoot doctors is especially important. It is a model that relied on people power more than capital. The model pioneered by the Maoists is one that can be applied across the Third World. It is a model that serves the people.

Article follows:

“Health for the Masses: China’s ‘Barefoot Doctors’
by Vikki Valentine

When doctors and money are in short in supply, how does a government provide health care for its people? Brenda Wilson has reported that at a time when they’re needed most, physicians and nurses from developing countries are being recruited away in large numbers by Western countries. This shortage — for example, one doctor for every 10,000 people in Kenya — is complicating the fight against AIDS and other diseases.

On the eve of the 1949 Communist Revolution, China found itself in a situation similar to that faced by African countries today. China had estimated that there were about 40,000 physicians trained in Western and Soviet medicine in the country, serving a population of 540 million people. Worse yet, most of these physicians worked in large cities; 80 percent of the population were rural peasants.

‘Big Belly’ and the Communist Party

Ten million of these peasants suffered from “big belly” — the peasant name for schistosomiasis. The disease is caused by a worm living in snails found in swamps and rivers. Peasants catch the parasite while wading in water; once inside the body, the worm mates in blood vessels, and released eggs travel throughout the body, particularly to the intestines, bladder and liver. It’s the body’s immune reaction that causes the disease’s symptoms, such as seizures and the characteristic swollen belly. Chronic cases risk permanent damage to organs such as the liver, intestines and lungs.

A major platform of the Communist Party was a revolution in agriculture. A “Great Leap Forward” was needed in China. But Party leaders, including Chairman Mao Zedong, knew that improving the health of peasants was integral to increasing agricultural production.

What followed was a backlash against Western-style “elite” medicine. The “bourgeois” policies of “self-interested” physicians who only treated rare and difficult diseases were denounced as “disregarding the masses.”

Chairman Mao’s Snail

One of the Party’s first steps in medical reform called for massive campaigns against infectious disease. Thousands of workers were trained and sent out into the countryside to examine and treat peasants, and organize sanitation campaigns.

Health teams claimed to have examined 2.8 million peasants in 1958, the first year of the schistosomiasis program. (One team claimed examining 1,200 patients in a single day.) Some 67 million latrines were reportedly built or repaired, and over the next few years, hundreds of thousands of peasants were set to work day and night, drying out swamps and building drainage ditches to get rid of the snail’s habitat. Party workers claimed schistosomiasis cure rates of 85 to 95 percent in some areas, and that the disease had been wiped out in more than half of previously endemic areas along the Yangtze River.

Chairman Mao was impressed, and the Party became fond of declaring that it could “cure what the powers above have failed to do.”

But Mao’s revolution was struggling, and in 1965, with his launch of the Cultural Revolution, he expanded the idea of health for the masses beyond infectious disease. Mao ordered, “In health and medical work, put the stress on rural areas.” With that, China’s cadre of “barefoot doctors” was born.

A Peasant Medical Force

Thousands of peasants — men and women who were mostly in their 20s and already had some general education — were selected for an intensive three- to six-month course in medical training. They were instructed in anatomy, bacteriology, diagnosing disease, acupuncture, prescribing traditional and Western medicines, birth control and maternal and infant care.

The barefoot doctors continued their farming work in the commune fields, working alongside their comrades. Their proximity also made them readily available to help those in need. They provided basic health care: first aid, immunizations against diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough and measles, and health education. They taught hygiene as basic as washing hands before eating and after using latrines. Illnesses beyond their training, the barefoot doctors referred on to physicians at commune health centers.

Ten years after the Cultural Revolution, there were an estimated 1 million barefoot doctors in China. Looking back, however, gauging the program’s success is complicated.

A Model for Rural Health Care?

In the 1970s, the World Health Organization and leaders in some developing countries — even the Soviet Union — began to consider China’s program as an alternate model to Western-style health care. They were looking for inexpensive ways to deliver health care to rural populations; China had seemed to set up a successful model.

But the barefoot doctors program largely fell apart in the 1980s and ’90s: The central government provided less financial support for the program, and the country’s emerging free-market system began forcing farmers to pay for their health care. The World Health Organization recently ranked China as fourth-worst out of 190 countries for equality of health care. Yet 40 years after the program began, the program still holds allure, and lessons, for health officials around the world looking for a solution for inadequate rural health care.

Some of the claims made about the program’s successes weren’t always backed up by data. On a visit in 1972, American doctor Victor Sidel admitted it was hard to measure the quality of the program. Nonetheless, Sidel praised it for supplying health care where previously there had been none; he also singled out the barefoot doctors themselves for their role as patient advocates.

There is also agreement outside of China that the country did go much further than other countries of comparable wealth in reducing infectious diseases, such as polio, smallpox and schistosomiasis, writes historian John Farley in his book, “Bilharzia: A History of Tropical Medicine.”

Farley also relates the observations of Dr. Paul Bausch, of Stanford University, who made a visit to China in 1984. Bausch reported back that there indeed had been a 90 percent reduction of schistosomiasis in some regions. Overall, according to Bausch, cases were down from 10 million people 30 years earlier to 2.4 million, with most cases being mild.

The barefoot doctors, and their predecessors, had in fact, as the Communist Party claimed, turned “snail-infected swamps into ‘rivers of happiness.’”


Twelve Principles of Leading Light Communist Leadership

10247379_620122488132084_441182572123736233_n-300x300Twelve Principles of Leading Light Communist Leadership


Capitalism, Empire, has crushed the human spirit. It has created a society without virtue, a society of banality, mediocrity, cowardice, cruelty, greed. The Leading Light is guiding humanity out of the darkness. We wage total war against all suffering, all cruelty, all exploitation, all pain. We fight for tomorrow, for the future, for our children, their children, the land, the seas, the skies. We fight for a tomorrow where we can all live in peace and prosperity, where we can reach our fullest potential, where we can thrive. We fight to become who we really are, as individuals and as a people. We fight for a world of virtue, valor, creativity, expression, joy, prosperity, talent, and genius. We fight for a world where all are raised up to be leaders, true Leading Lights. However, our world is not a reality yet. We still live under the dictatorship of the present, of today. Until our victory is complete, some people will be more advanced than others, some people will awake before others, some will see the light before others. These are the leaders, the guardians of the future. It is the duty of all Leading Lights to bring humanity forward. It is the duty of all Leading Lights advance others to higher levels of revolutionary consciousness. This is hard work, but it must be done. Until our total victory, there will be a contradiction between leadership and the led. Even so, Leading Light, true communist, leadership is fundamentally different than capitalist, reactionary leadership. These are some, not all, qualities of Leading Lights:

1. Leading Lights are loyal. Leading Lights never betray our oath, the people, the Earth, the organization, the leadership. The mightiest weapon is one that never breaks. Unity is strength. We are all weapons for the future, the people, the Earth, the organization, the leadership, all-powerful Leading Light Communism.

2. Leading Lights lead by example. Leading Lights do not just tell people what to do, we show people what must be done through our actions. The brightest Leading Lights are the ones who work the most for the people, the Earth, the great cause, the organization, the leadership, the truth. If a task must be done, Leading Lights are the first to volunteer.

3. Leading Lights sacrifice the most. Leading Lights are the ones who give everything to the great struggle. Leading Lights are the ones who put our lives on the line. We are the ones who put our bodies in the line of fire. We are the ones who are willing to kill and be killed. Leading Lights are the ones who donate the most financially to the cause.  We are the ones who donate every month. We are the ones who donate our time and energy the most.

4. In the chest of the Leading Lights beat the hearts of true warriors, filled with courage. We put our egos aside. The Global People’s War of the Leading Light is also a war against all that is backwards in ourselves. Fear must be conquered to really live. Ego must be put aside to really live. We understand that revolution is not a dinner party. We will fight anywhere, anytime. We will do whatever it takes to win. We do our duty even if it means facing our greatest fear, even if it means losing our lives, or the lives of our loved ones. We are good fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, but we are warriors in our great cause first and foremost.

5. Leading Lights put our egos aside. We express our opinions and views within the organization, through proper channels, but Leading Lights understand that the key to victory is unity and discipline. Leading Lights follow orders. We obey the chain of command. We fill whatever task we are assigned, and we do so without complaint or dragging our feet.

6. Leading Lights do not get into petty, stupid, ego-driven disputes. We stand our ground, but know what battles are important. We do not waste our time with fools. Let the yappers yap. We have a world to win.

7. Leading Lights take the initiative. Leading Lights understand that it is important to follow the chain of command, but it is also important to be creative and bold. The best warriors are ones that are able to think. We are creative, bold, daring.

8. Leading Lights spend our extra time aiding the cause, assisting other comrades, helping the people and the Earth. If a Leading Light has extra time, we use that time to generate more resources for the organization or we use that time to perfect ourselves through training and education. Leading Lights do not waste.

9. Leading Lights respect the people, the Earth, each other. We listen to the concerns of the people. We are patient with the backward elements among the people. We recognize that verbal persuasion is always preferable to force. We respect the land, the seas, the skies. We respect our homes. We always listen to our critics and we are the first to make self-criticism when we have erred.

10. Leading Lights always lend a helping hand. We always help the people, the Earth, each other, our families, our communities when we are able. We are the good samaritan. We are the good neighbor. We are the true friend, good father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister.  Leading Lights shine as stars in our communities, families, workplaces, and organizations.

11. Leading Lights are revolutionary scientists. Leading Lights never stop learning.  We are always in the middle of reading something. We are always advancing our understanding of revolutionary science. We follow the most advanced science, the brightest truth, Leading Light Communism. Knowledge is power.

12. Leading Lights never surrender. Numerous fakes have tried to enter the revolutionary movement over the years. Some have been successful at infiltrating our ranks for a time. Eventually they are exposed in one form or another. Eventually, their true colors shine through. The revolution is no place for opportunists, careerists, cowards. Leading Lights, we, fight to the end. This is our life.

Our storm is gathering. We are marching steadily. Forward, always forward. With great leadership, great organization, we will win.


Revolutionary science in command, not identity politics


Revolutionary science in command, not identity politics


The true communist movement is guided by the Leading Light of revolutionary science. Marxism was the first synthesis that applied science to the task of total revolution, of reaching communism. Marxism-Leninism was the next breakthrough. Marxism-Leninism synthesized the universal lessons of the first wave of sustained proletarian revolutions, especially the Bolshevik revolution led by Lenin. Mao’s contribution or “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” was the next. It represented the revolutionary synthesis of the greatest revolutionary upsurge in history. For a moment, a quarter of the world’s population in China cast their lot in with the Maoists to try to build a better world. When Mao’s theories represented the highest synthesis of revolutionary science, communists raised the slogan of “Mao Zedong Thought in command!” Later, this became “Maoism in command.” It has been almost a half century since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, the last breakthrough by Maoists. Those who came before, including the Maoists, achieved great things, but also made many mistakes. Plus, the world has changed. The imperialists have been updating and perfecting their science of oppression. The Leading Light is the answer. Science learns. The Leading Light has elevated and advanced revolutionary science to a whole new, higher stage. Leading Light Communism is the highest stage of revolutionary science. It is the pinnacle of revolutionary thought today. Today, putting revolutionary science in command means putting Leading Light Communism in command. Other movements do not put revolutionary science in command. Many movements embrace emotionalism. Many movements make anti-science and anti-intellectualism a matter of principle. Many movements are based on identity. Many so-called Marxists claim to uphold revolutionary science, but few actually do. The capitalists have been so successful in their anti-communist propaganda that many “goodhearted newbies” are barely aware of the almost two centuries of scientific-revolutionary thinking that has come before. Imagine claiming to be a physicist today, but not knowing anything about Newton or Einstein. There are many who claim to be revolutionaries, but know next to nothing about Marx, Lenin, or Mao. The reactionaries have been very successful in spreading lies about the revolutionary movement. The task is on revolutionary leaders to raise the bar. The task is on us to increase political education. We are initiating the next great wave of revolution. If we are to go further toward communism, we must understand the past. We must put the most advanced revolutionary science in command, not identity. Here are some points to consider:

1. Only science can solve complex problems. The rejection of revolutionary science destroys the ability of the exploited and their allies to solve problems of poverty, development, the environment, health, power, etc. Those who attack revolutionary science only help the oppressors.

2. Those who oppose revolutionary science sabotage the efforts of the exploited and oppressed to liberate themselves. It sabotages revolution. It sabotages Third World liberation. It sabotages anti-imperialism. It sabotages the efforts to create revolutionary leadership. It creates a climate of anti-intellectualism amongst the oppressed and exploited and their allies. It creates a virtue out of the ignorance that  the oppressors have foisted upon the oppressed. Like the imperialists, such an outlook teaches the exploited and oppressed not to think, not to educate and advance themselves. It lowers the bar. It hinders the development of revolutionary leadership. It destroys the ability of the masses to become masters of their own destiny. It prevents the masses from becoming capable of self-rule. Such an outlook creates a climate where wealth, identity, charisma, popularity, position, connections, tradition are put in command. It creates a climate of corruption. It disempowers the masses. It hinders our advance toward socialism and communism.

3. The claim that revolutionary science is Euro-centric is the internalization of the European narrative that only Europeans develop and understand science. Revolutionary science is not “European.” Revolutionary science is not “white.” In fact, since Marx, world revolution has moved “eastward.” Our last great seizure of power occurred not in the “West,” but in China. Every human society has developed science and technology to various degrees. While the scientific revolution that helped usher in the capitalist era began in Europe, other civilizations have scientific traditions going back hundreds and thousands of years. Every complex society has developed intellectual and scientific traditions: China, India, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, Europe. The rejection of revolutionary science is the internalization of the imperialist narrative that oppressed peoples are too primitive and ignorant to understand science. Those who reject science do a disservice to the masses.

4. To place identity over science does a disservice to anti-imperialism. Not only does it lower the bar generally, disempower the masses and weaken revolutionary leadership, it empowers comprador forces who use identity as a way to manipulate the masses toward reformist ends. It also undermines revolutionary feminism in favor of First Worldist so-called “feminism.” It is no accident that identity politics has become mainstreamed in the First World. It is the language of the Democratic Party, liberals, social democrats, pseudo-intellectals, pseudo-revolutionary academics, and other weenies. Identity politics is widely promoted within state (especially municipal) governments and non-profits. It is a fake “radicalism” to swindle the masses. If a political line cannot stand on its own without wrapping itself in identity or personal narrative, what does that say about the line?

5. Identity politics is not the answer to chauvinism. The way to answer chauvinism is not to disempower the masses, but to empower them with revolutionary science. This means giving the masses and revolutionary leaders the real tools they need to liberate themselves, not the tools they need to advance themselves within the reformist, pre-scientific and individualist-oriented systems.

6. Identity politics and narrow nationalism in the Third World lead to national oppression and fratricidal war. Such narrowness of mind only divides the masses. Only science can unite the world because science is rooted in reality.

7. Identity politics, especially in the First World, is itself a form of chauvinism. It empowers First World nationalism against Third World liberation. While we should support the struggles of First World captive nations, we should not do so at the expense of the Third World. We should not support the self-determination of First World captive nations at the expense of the Third World. To attack revolutionary science with First World identity politics is simply another form of First Worldism in disguise.

8. Ideology is a weapon, not a con. Not all ideologies are the same. Some ideologies are spoons. Some knives. Some bricks. Some guns. Some atomic weapons. Leading Light Communism, the highest form of revolutionary science to date, is the ultimate, all-powerful weapon. If we want the Third World free, if we want communism, then we arm the exploited and oppressed with the most powerful weapon available. If we want to end all oppression, we follow the Leading Light of revolutionary science. What else can unite humanity?

9. Revolutionary science is not a dogma. If another more powerful system of revolutionary science becomes available, then we arm the masses with that. If the fourth stage of revolutionary science gets surpassed, then our obligation is to embrace a fifth stage. If people want to surpass Leading Light Communism, then they need to do the real work necessary to advance science. Retreating into skepticism, relativism, nihilism, post-modernism, identity politics and other pseudo-intellectual weenie-isms does not help the exploited and oppressed. People need to get over their personal narratives and egos. Serve the people. Serve the Third World. Serve humanity.

10. Putting anything other than science in command is a security risk. Identity politics creates a climate where people are encouraged to reveal everything about themselves. It creates a climate where people are encouraged to tell their personal narrative, rather than discuss political line. It encourages a situation where people not only challenge others based on identity, but it encourages a situation where everyone is expected to give their personal information to establish their credentials. Politics should not look like a 12 Step meeting, it should be about power structures. Not only does identity politics make it easier for the state to collect information, it makes it easier to infiltrate activist circles. Identity politics is pig work.

There was a saying from the Stalin-era Soviet Union that the exploited and oppressed will row the boat to shore of communism with or without communist leadership. This is an incorrect outlook based on a teleological view of history. Our revolution is not inevitable. Our revolution is not chiseled into the atoms themselves. Our victory is not foretold by the stars. The Maoists began to see this, but did not go far enough. They understood that not only can revolutions go forward, they can go backward too. What is to stop the exploited and oppressed from rowing the boat in circles forever? There is one thing that will keep us moving forward: science. Science learns. Science adapts. This is why we must be guided by the Leading Light of revolutionary science. Today this means we must be guided by all-powerful, awesome Leading Light Communism.  Leading Light Communism in command! Revolutionary science in command! Follow the Leading Light! Be a Leading Light, not a dim bulb.


What is fascism?


What is fascism?
from MIM (2002)


Here MIM culls some of the defining characteristics of fascism from classic texts of the Third International: Dimitrov’s report to the 7th world congress of the COMINTERN (1) and Dutt’s “Fascism and Social Revolution.”(2) Applying these principles today, we can say that even though the imperialists have not implemented fascist measures against the exploiter majority in First World countries, the imperialists are the principal prop of fascism in the oppressed nations. This is why MIM wages a concerted fight against nationalist social-democracy and fascism in Europe. Both are strains of militant parasitism; both support the status quo of oppression in the Third World.

1. Fascism is “the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital.”(Dimitrov, p. 2)

2. Fascism is an extreme measure taken by the bourgeoisie to forestall proletarian revolution; it “expresses the weakness of the bourgeoisie itself, afraid of the realization of a united struggle of the working class, afraid of revolution, and no longer in a position to maintain its dictatorship over the masses by the old means of bourgeois democracy and parliamentarianism.”(Dimitrov, p. 2) “The conditions [which give rise to fascism] are: instability of capitalist relationships; the existence of considerable declassed social elements, the pauperization of broad strata of the urban petit-bourgeoisie and of the intelligentsia; discontent among the rural petit-bourgeoisie, and finally, the constant menace of mass proletarian action.”(Dutt, p. 88)

3. Fascism concentrates each imperialist bloc into a single economic unit while at the same time increasing between-bloc antagonisms and advancing towards war. (Dutt, pp. 72-73)

4. Fascism promotes chauvinist demagogy (e.g. reducing the problem of parasitism to the “Jewish Question”) and anti-science obscuratinism (e.g. Dutt, pp. 54-58 or any Jerry Bruckheimer film). Fascism hypocritically adopts Marxist critiques of capitalism, and bourgeois democracy.(Dimitrov, pp. 6-7) It does this to “utilize the discontent of the petit-bourgeois, the intellectual, and other strata in society.”(Dutt, p. 89)

5. Still, fascism may not completely dispense with bourgeois democracy–e.g. banning revolutionary parties or even competing bourgeois parties–depending on “historical, social and economic conditions.”(Dimitrov, p. 4)

6. Both bourgeois democracy and fascism are forms of the class dictatorship of finance or comprador capital (in imperialist and semi-colonial countries, respectively)–that is, both use organized violence to maintain the class rule of the oppressors over the oppressed.

Hence, any differentiation between bourgeois democracy and fascism is a strategic or tactical matter–not a matter of Marxist principles.

7. The difference between bourgeois democracy and fascism is a matter of quantitative changes leading to a qualitative change. The qualitative differences are relevant to us in terms of their effect on our policies towards non-proletarian classes. “The accession to power of fascism is not an ordinary succession of one bourgeois government by another, but a substitution of one state form of class domination of the bourgeoisie–bourgeois democracy–by another form–open terrorist dictatorship. It would be a serious mistake to ignore this distinction, a mistake liable to prevent the revolutionary proletariat from mobilizing the widest strata of the working people of town and country for the struggle against the menace of seizure of power by the fascists, and from taking advantage of the contradictions which exist in the camp of the bourgeoisie itself. But it is a mistake, no less serious and dangerous, to underrate the importance of, for the establishment of fascist dictatorship, of the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie at present increasingly developing in bourgeois-democratic countries–measures which suppress the democratic liberties of the working people, falsify and curtail the rights of parliament and intensify the repression of the revolutionary movement.”(Dimitrov, pp. 4-5; emphasis in the original)

8. Social democrats of the Second International ilk paved the way for the fascists by closely identifying itself with the national interests of their respective imperialists states, denying internationalism, placing their faith in bourgeois democracy and scuttling the extra-legal struggle for state power. Hence they earned the epithet “social fascists.”

9. The COMINTERN United Front policy was based on its assessment that “[f]ascism is the most viscious enemy of the working class and working people, who constitute nine-tenths of the people in [the] fascist [and proto-fascist] countries.”(p. 12) Furthermore, the working class in these countries constituted a unified proletariat. Fascism was eroding the material basis for differences between communist and social-democratic workers.(E.g. Dimitrov, pp. 24-34)

10. The labor aristocracy is majority in the imperialist countries and not proletarian. The fact that the imperialist allow the labor aristocracy bourgeois democracy is an example of the alliance between these two classes and consistent with the following observation from Dutt: “Fascism strives to establish political and organizational unity among all the governing classes of capitalist society (the bankers, the big industrialists and the agrarians), and to establish their undivided, open and consistent dictatorship.”(Dutt, p 89; emphasis added)


1. George Dimitrov, Against Fascism and War, New York: International Publishers, 1986.
2. R Palme Dutt, Fascism and Social Revolution, New York: International Publishers, 1934.