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First Worldist “left” hacks the 2016 US Presidential Election for Donald J. Trump

First Worldist “Left” hacks US presidential election for Donald J. Trump

by Jacob Brown

(llco.org)

How the First Worldist “left” united with Obama-Clinton regime to bring Trump to power:

One of the more blatantly reactionary examples of pseudo-feminists in action.

With the current “#J20” US Inauguration Day protests against Donald J. Trump, a First Worldist pseudo-feminism is presenting itself as the protests’ main ideological engine, and allowing the CIA, anti-Russian narrative pushed by the US imperialist Democratic Party to buttress questions of “illegitimacy”. (1, 2)  Of course, the purported protection of the reproductive health choices of First World women, while signing onto rhetoric about the supposed necessity of US Marines to help “fight for the global sisterhood” in the Third World has rendered itself hollow to the world’s masses after 15 years of the imperialist “War on Terror”.  Imperialist patriarchy packaged as liberation has produced the worst of both patriarchal worlds for the majority of Third World women, both with the proliferation of misogynistic Western gender culture and with its mirror opposite of imposition of traditional patriarchal gender roles and gender apartheid. It would appear that a repeat of the 2006 US International Women’s Day protests is upon us on “J20”. The 2006 IWD protests saw alleged “communists” marching with the likes of Zionist “feminist” Phyllis Chesler to denounce the Iranian state while NATO troops were imposing imperialist patriarchy in Afghanistan and Iraq. (3) With the current rhetoric being used by First Worldist activists who take their cues from the CIA and Democratic Party, perhaps Russia is the next target for “regime change”. The utilization of “Cold War” militarist rhetoric and pseudo-feminism by the imperialists are but only two dimensions of what these kinds of imperialist politics produces in the real world.

The 2011 Wisconsin protests injected First Worldist economism into the “Arab Spring” as it was beginning in Egypt, following the demonstrations in Tunisia. An example of this includes the infamous photo depicting the false statement “One World, One Pain.” (4) Pretending that the First World majority populations were a natural friend of the Third World had its genesis in this First Worldist fallacy. When the “Arab Spring” found its way into Libya just one month later, this First World “solidarity” was extended to mean NATO providing a free air force for anti-Qaddafi neocolonialist Jihadists. The fall of the Jamahiriya in Libya gave both a material and morale boost to NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which would fuel the “pipeline wars” in Syria for the next 5 years. (5)  “Occupy Wall St.”, and the First Worldist networks that followed it, were advancing First Worldist populism with a vengeance. They continued the social-chauvinist thrust of the Wisconsin protests with anti-imperialist politics given less priority or mostly silenced altogether. A kind of false internationalism was supposedly bringing together social-democrats, anarchists, “left communists”, Maoists, Trotskyists, environmentalists, the EZLN, the social-imperialist parties in Greece, and various “rebels” associated with the US-backed Muslim Brotherhood, based on a rather nebulous idea about “tears in the fabric of history”. (6) These First Worldists, so enthusiastic for the “Arab Spring” in Egypt, were silent on the 2013 mass revolt that overthrew the US-backed stooge Mohammed Morsi (7), with numbers that dwarfed the Tahir Square protests by a factor of 7. (8)

If any population within First World borders was sharing “one pain” with Egyptian masses in either the 2011 or 2013 protests, it would have been the migrants who participated in the May 1, 2006 “Day Without An Immigrant” strike. (9) However, many of those migrants ended up getting deported by the Bush administration in the millions, and by the Obama administration by even greater numbers. First Worldists missed the mark on that issue as well, because too many of them were putting all their energy into pseudo-feminist posturing in tandem with the US State Department and the Zionist entity just 2 months before, or otherwise complaining about the presence of Mexican flags as “nationalist” and “divisive”!

The imperialist pseudo-feminism we saw deployed against Iran in 2006 was also utilized in Libya in 2011, with bogus reports of “Viagra-fueled mass-rapes” advanced by Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton. (10)  Of course, no evidence exists to support such claims, but there is ample evidence and testimony of sub-Saharan migrant African women being kidnapped and raped by the very “Libyan Revolutionaries” hailed as anti-patriarchal heroes in the West. (11) In addition to the pseudo-feminist propaganda track in the prelude to the NATO/GCC aggression against Libya, we had a First Worldist “false nationalism” coming from neocolonialist Libyan exiles that was selectively applied in an attempt to silence any non-Libyan supporter of the Jamahiriya with a potent voice. The “authentic voice of the subaltern” was used to justify NATO’s neocolonialist false “liberation narrative” (12), where juxtapositions such as “Muammar Qaddafi = Bad Dictator / Mahatma Gandhi = Good Liberator” were passing for a theoretically solid approach. (13)  Adding the false narrative of the “impending massacre of Benghazi’s population”, and the list of phony justifications for NATO intervention start to gain support in the realm of First World public opinion.

Matthew VanDyke, the American “Freedom Fighter” mercenary in Sirte during the NATO “revolution” Libya  in , would ask the various manifestations of “Occupy” in the First World for donations to continue his imperialist activity in Syria on the side of the neocolonialist “Free Syrian Army”.  He still breathes in 2017.

As the calls for NATO/GCC/Turkish intervention in Syria were increased, the pseudo-feminist angle was used to less of a degree, with some bogus propaganda about “regime rape rooms” being recycled from the last imperialist adventure in Libya. This time however, the false nationalist narrative was more heavily relied upon. The narrative spinning involved equating the imperialist-backed Muslim Brotherhood in Syria with the legitimate indigenous and African anti-colonial struggles (14), or variably by tokenizing Kurdistan liberation forces as a “Third Camp” (15). It is curious that the loudest voices claiming that the Kurdistan liberation forces were on a “long march to Damascus” to topple the Assad regime were doing so in tandem with the US State Department rhetoric about how “Assad must go”, not unlike what transpired in 2006 with the anti-Iran protests.

To understand why purportedly “anti-war” activist scenes around the First World gave space for neocolonialist identity politics to sell the NATO “revolution” in Libya and ramp up the call for NATO intervention in Syria, we can look at the populist and “critical race theory” trends coming into conflict with each other within formations like Occupy. The deliberate First Worldist populism mostly driving the message of Occupy was bound to come into conflict with other forces in and around the Occupy movement calling for decolonization, the politics of which is inherently at odds with the mantra of “We Are The 99% [of the First World]”, regardless if the particular decolonization politics presented is Leninist, anarchist, bourgeois liberal, or something else purportedly “beyond labels” in content. (16) As the “decolonize” rhetoric in the First World activist circles began to congeal, the populist politics of Occupy waned and ended with the Occupy brand itself becoming defunct. The people involved put away their Guy Fawkes masks and copies of Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals”, and started to pick up art and/or poetry and Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” instead (often to the exclusion of other anti-colonial classics). It became easy for these “radical” First World protest scenes to tokenize pro-Muslim Brotherhood migrants from Palestine, Egypt, and Syria, and accept their neocolonial bogus “decolonial” narratives with unquestioning submission, in tandem with US imperialist “regime change” objectives.

With the uptick of police and paramilitary terrorism against the African diaspora in the United States between 2012-2016, alongside the already existing criminalization of generations of Black youth by the state, the First Worldist activist void left by Occupy was filled with the “Black Lives Matter” network.  This network came together at the same time rebellions were picking up in US cities affected by high profile incidents of police terror like Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland. Many well meaning veterans of the anti-colonialist movements within the United States had mistakenly believed the myth that the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s was coming back. (17)  As the Democratic Party’s presidential primary elections approached, the original militant anti-colonial thrust of those involved with the Black Lives Matter network was being put on hold in exchange for engaging with Democratic Party candidates over reformist policy issues, and a First Worldist confining of the issue of reparations to the African diaspora within the United States exclusively. (18)   It did not matter what any “official” BLM statement said at that point about refraining from electoral politics, as the horizons of BLM at that point had been limited by both reformist illusions and First Worldist chauvinism. This had practical implications as well, with the noticeable rift causing some around the BLM network to initiate an armed struggle without the material support of a large portion of the network busy with reformist politics.

An example of some weenie First Worldist “communist”  hack that helped pave the way for Trump, like the pseudo-feminist hacks pictured above.

At the same time that BLM was proliferating around the United States, nominally “communist” First Worldist forces were politically capitalizing on conceptions of group identity embraced by the increasingly college student base of the BLM network, smashing several layers of formal and informal First Worldist male dominated leftist groups in the United States and England in sometimes quite public ruptures. However, breaking the hegemony of historical oppressor groups over First Worldist formations did nothing to break the hegemony of First Worldism and social-imperialism in their general orientation. Indeed, even purported “Third Worldist” formations in the First World managed to sneak First Worldism through the back door by denying that most First World women and non-men constitute an enemy gender aristocracy (but use the opposite logic to justify the idea of a labor aristocracy!). (19) In all cases, the results of these social-chauvinist “communist” forces whether they consciously knew it or not, was to slow the progress of building New Power and preparing for Global People’s War. This is even the case when “Global People’s War” or “Third Worldism” is mentioned by these posturing First Worldists, as their penchant for bourgeois identity politics, navel-gazing, and tokenization betrays their true nature.

A parallel First World decolonization movement drawn from indigenous peoples in North America had emerged to confront domestic oil drilling and pipeline construction on indigenous lands. The relatively smaller population size of the indigenous internal colonies (20, 21) in comparison to the African diaspora in the US made for some interesting contrasts in political trajectory. This smaller sized force of mostly indigenous peoples consciously struggle for decolonization before it was trendy in activist circles, to emphasize the preservation of culture in opposition to Euro-American settler-colonialism.  The element of cultural preservation is more pronounced than other historical internal colonies in the US.  How this has played out on the ground, from “Idle No More” to the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeline blockades has been almost the mirror opposite of the trajectory of BLM. Unlike the social movement network that originated with BLM, the indigenous protests tended to start out essentially with reformist politics and liberal, settler-imperialist boot-licking, and then more militant and uncompromising anti-colonial Native forces followed and increased the militancy (and may continue to do so, winter weather permitting, as of the time of this article’s publishing). It is not clear with a Trump administration allied with the non-Rockefeller wing of the US oil industry (inclined towards domestic oil drilling / piping in the US) (22), and with those identifying as indigenous people in North America at less than 5% of the total US and Canadian population, that anything besides Global People’s War will be able to stop any new settler-colonial “domestic drilling” agenda under the new regime. At the very least, the Native Warriors at Standing Rock have found themselves outside the capacity for First Worldist “Marxists” or the US Democratic party to co-opt them at this time. However, it isn’t likely that these social-imperialists will give up trying to do so, as their public fawning over US military veterans as some kind of “anti-colonial force” to oppose DAPL attests to. (23)

In 2006, the USA was at the lowest point in global public opinion it had been in decades. (24) There was no Leading Light Communism as an independent system operating in the world at that time. If there were, there may have been a basis to “globalize” the anti-imperialist left under Leading Light Communist leadership. Instead, genuine imperialists were stuck with a dogmatic ideological framework that prevented them from “thinking and acting globally”. Rather, many genuine anti-imperialists and friends of the Third World never escaped the left-liberal horizon of “think globally, act locally” for many years.  Only Leading Light Communism provides any real basis for genuine communist politics independent from First Worldist chauvinism promoted by “mainstream” social-imperialist political parties in the First World, and neocolonialist parties selling First Worldist fantasies to the masses of people in the Third World. The First Worldist “left” offers sometimes-true promises to First World bourgeois majority for more imperialist loot, and always-false promises to the world’s majority in the Third World of attaining First World status by adopting imperialist maldevelopment programs. What these First Worldists of all stripes like to ignore is that such false “proletarian internationalism” actually serves to corral people into pro-imperialist politics. This by default includes electing imperialist politicians for US president, despite any pretense by First Worldist “communists” of opposing electoral politics in principle! When First Worldist “communists” confine their notion of “mass line” to First World peoples exclusively, they are forced to essentially come to a synthesis with social-imperialist electoral politics, regardless of their stated inclinations towards some fantasy of “preparing the masses People’s War” in the First World.

The US social-patriot Michael Moore saw all this coming. (25) The white populist movement that started in 2010 as the “Tea Party” politically evolved into the anti-migrant and economic protectionist force that was to be the social base for Trump’s electoral victory, which Trump’s strategic adviser Steve Bannon coined as the “Alt-Right”. Traditional anti-labor, plus free trade conservative politics was turned on its head with Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP during the Republican presidential primaries, with Donald Trump himself calling for the Republican Party to become an “American Workers Party”. (26)  The identity-based political patchwork combined with the cynical “middle class centrism” that the likes of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair has used to great effect in First World since the fall of the Soviet Union politics were utilized by the Hillary Clinton campaign.  However, the old Democratic Party electoral strategy could not stop Donald Trump’s campaign in a contest for US electoral votes. Along with Michael Moore, surrogates of the US Democratic Party like Van Jones, most of Hollywood, and even Barack Obama himself could not make the liberal politics of the past 25 years work for Hillary Clinton. As Donald Trump himself said many years ago in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he would only run for president if he thought he could win. (27) Well, the First Worldist “left” set up this whole scenario for Trump to achieve electoral victory.

Without a doubt, the First Worldist “left” worked with Barack Obama and the Democrats to hack the election for Donald J. Trump. It is the nature of their politics, as they have been social-imperialist “hacks” for over a period of 15 years with zero credibility, even amongst their own bourgeois First World social base! The First World “masses” prefer Trump’s new GOP “workers party” to the fantasy “communist” outfits of the First Worldists.

“Daddy Donald wants a big kiss, you precious little First Worldist “leftist” weenies!  You did such a good job at not making revolution, that my ascendancy to USA Emperor was a piece of cake!”

How Leading Light Communists should operate during the ascendance of Trump, Marine Le Pen, Brexit, and the general First World nationalist political trends:

Both paramilitary, white nationalist violence and state repression against Third World migrants in the First World could increase. This could be a catalyst for an explosive May 1st within First World borders.  While their demands are likely to be confined to reformist and First Worldist politics, the connection that migrants have to the Third World masses might make for some great potential Leading Light Communist leaders.  This does not mean that Leading Light Communists should be leading some significant “anti-colonial movement” within First World borders, and such notions will need to be quashed both inside and outside the organization if these ideas find expression.  All that aside, it does mean that there are new opportunities to expose the global capitalist-imperialist system, and put Leading Light Communist politics in command of an emerging anti-imperialist united front.

Current efforts to oppose Trump and other hard right nationalists in the First World are dominated by the “left” First Worldist populists, pro-imperialist pseudo-feminists, and neocolonial and individualist fake posturing around “decolonization” connected to the liberal “globalist” wing of the imperialists.  This is unlikely to change beyond a general “washing out” of the more overtly liberal imperialist forces within such an anti-Trump, unorganized, left leaning coalition.  The commitment to building independent institutions of Dual Power within the First World itself is a noble but ultimately fruitless gesture, with no mass social base for revolution. The same gesture to “not allow US imperialism to go unchallenged” is equally noble yet fruitless if not linked up with the New Power of the Leading Light, based on uniting the world’s exploited in their billions as the driving force for a genuinely militant, material challenge to US/NATO imperialism. Nevertheless, Leading Light Communists in the First World should stay engaged with all people who seek an alternative to the current system, and be ready to impart political education and engage in ideological struggle. (28)

Outside of the First World, the First Worldists have failed terribly at supporting the international united front with their acquiescence to Western imperialist taking points since 2001. Ironically, it is now the right-wing nationalists who have taken up a pretense of “anti-imperialism” and “internationalism”.  Theirs is based entirely on a pan-nationalist framework devoid of any historical perspective on colonialism. (29)  This is why we are faced with the ugly and tenuous First World populist unity of anti-migration and anti-interventionism. This is also why Leading Light Communist politics in command can prevent us from becoming surprised by turns towards fascism from those we once believed were firmly in the progressive anti-imperialist camp. The fact that Donald Trump is very popular among the Egyptian, Syrian and Libyan masses (30, 31, 32) for his anti-NATO/anti-interventionist and anti-Muslim Brotherhood rhetoric during the US presidential campaign, even when often couched in a generalized reactionary anti-Muslim chauvinism suited for Trump’s electoral base in the United States, should be an indication that the First Worldist “left”, especially the “antiwar left” has lost its way on genuine anti-imperialism from a communist perspective. Consider this a wake up call to First Worldist so-called “communists”: These vulnerable populations you claim to represent, chose Donald Trump over you, most likely because of your adherence to outdated social-imperialist programs that puts them last, and not first.

Leading Light Communists can combat both the fake First Worldist “leftists”, and the right-wing usurpers of the anti-imperialist movement. We don’t have to defeat both camps simultaneously, but we need to understand that there cannot be strategic unity in coalition with either of these enemy forces within the anti-imperialist united front. Both the white nationalist imperialist camp and the phony “left wing” social-imperialist camp alike advance a politics that demand more for the First World and less for the Third World. The former wants to build border walls and fences to keep Third World migrants away from the value stolen from them. The latter call for a $15 minimum wage for First World workers exclusively, paid for by the international proletariat. Same politics, but different packaging. As long as the political line of the First Worldist “left” remains fundamentally indistinguishable from the line of white nationalists on questions of global value transfer, superficial differences between the two lines on gender and nation will not matter to the world’s oppressed and exploited majority.

Stopping US imperialism begins with Leading Light Communist politics in command!

The only silver lining about the impending Trump regime would be a temporary pullback of the imperialist military from the Global South early in his term (with the exception of some “hotspots” where there is talk of cooperation against Daesh), as well as a reshuffling of existing First World military alliances like NATO and trade agreements like NAFTA. This could potentially allow an opening for the New Power to expanded into places where it has yet to be built, and to deepen the roots of the New Power where it currently is being built. There is much that Trump is keeping close to his chest, so comrades should be mindful if his international policy rhetoric starts to lean less on making deals and more on stealing resources. This could be an indication that US imperialism is seeking to reimpose itself on the world’s oppressed and exploited majority in a rapid and expansive fashion. (33)  Such an aggressive move by Trump and Exxon’s Rex Tillerson could indeed be the catalyst for unleashing Global People’s War in the future, if the international defense of the New Power of the Leading Light is under such an aggressive imperialist attack.

Help us prepare for the best and worst case scenarios alike, by joining with and donating to the Leading Light Communist Organization! A New Power is being born in this dark world! Cherish and nurture it to total victory with your material solidarity!

Notes:
1. http://heatst.com/culture-wars/womens-march-falling-apart-because-racism-white-privilege/
2. http://www.blackagendareport.com/no_tears_for_john_lewis
3. https://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/gender/iwd06h.html
4. http://twitpic.com/419nfm
5. Oil & Energy Insider; “IRAN-IRAQ: Pipeline to Syria Ups Ante in Proxy War with Qatar”;
February 22, 2013
6. http://www.humanite.fr/monde/alain-badiou-des-printemps-aux-revolutions-554069
7. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/07/01/on-the-wrong-side-again-inegypt/?utm_term=.d198d11f3235
8. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-protests-idUSBRE95Q0NO20130630
9. https://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/mn/mn335.pdf
10. https://levantreport.com/2016/01/04/new-hillary-emails-reveal-propaganda-executions-covetinglibyan-oil-and-gold/
11. http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article1938633.html
12. https://kasamaarchive.org/2011/03/04/libyan-exception-dont-tear-the-sails-of-inspiration/
13. Tidal; “General Strike!”; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; December 2011
14. https://bayareaintifada.wordpress.com/
15. https://ncplc.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/neither-assad-nor-nato/
16. https://bayareaintifada.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/video-decolonization-is-not-a-tendency-2013-seattle-anarchist-book-fair-panel/
17. http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/Image_1_20161014_TPP.jpg
18. https://policy.m4bl.org/reparations/
19. https://anti-imperialism.org/2014/11/17/patriarchy-is-not-secondary-rethinking-gender-oppression/
20. http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-10.pdf
21. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/130508/dq130508a-eng.htm
22. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/12/donald-trump-finally-admits-he-wants-builddapl-pipeline
23. http://abcnews.go.com/US/2000-veterans-arrive-standing-rock-protest-dakota-pipeline/story?
id=43964136
24. http://www.pewglobal.org/database/indicator/1/survey/7/response/Unfavorable/
25. http://michaelmoore.com/trumpwillwin/
26. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/06/us/politics/as-trump-rises-reformocons-see-chance-toupdate-gops-economic-views.html?_r=0
27. http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/what-donald-trump-told-oprah-about-his-presidential-hopesvideo
28. https://www.ungovernable2017.com/
29. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/10/dugins-occult-fascism-and-the-hijacking-of-left-antiimperialism-and-muslim-anti-salafism/
30. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/egypt/2016-11-29/egypts-unlikely-ardor-trump
31. http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/16/opinions/donald-trump-speech-syria-reaction/
32. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/libya/2017-01-10/trumpian-peace-deal-libya
33. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySdhGyqGCZk

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

aly

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

(llco.org)

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.

Slavery

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:

graph1a

And:

graph1b

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.

Source

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

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Molotov, MIM, Dogma, and Stalin’s support for Israel

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Molotov, MIM, Dogma, and Stalin’s support for Israel

(llco.org)

Stalin was a great socialist leader, but it is important to tell the truth about his mistakes. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a high-ranking, important member of Stalin’s regime. Today’s Stalinists occasionally choose him as their favorite candidate to have succeeded Stalin in  “what if” fantasy histories. “What if Molotov had led the Soviet Union rather than Beria or Khrushchev?” they ask. One of the biggest questions about both Molotov and Stalin is why they supported an apartheid state like Israel. Decades later, Molotov states in his memoirs:

“Everyone objected [to recognizing the State of Israel] but us — me and Stalin. Some asked me why we favored it. We are supporters of international freedom. Why should we be opposed if, strictly speaking, that meant pursuing a hostile nationalist policy? In our time, it’s true, the Bolsheviks were and remained anti-Zionist… Yet it’s one thing to be anti-Zionist and anti-bourgeois, and quite another to be against the Jewish people. We proposed, however, an Arab-Israeli union, for both nations to live there together. We have supported this version if it could have been arranged. Otherwise we favored an Israeli state… Israel has turned out badly. But Lord Almighty! That’s American imperialism for you.”  (1)

The Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) extrapolates on Molotov’s defense of Stalin:

“Stalin has been criticized for his recognition of Israel. There is a limit to what the revolutionary forces are capable of. In the case of the existence of Israel, the progressive forces were not able to stop its creation as a separate, exclusive state. Once created, the question became whether or not to recognize it. From Molotov’s quote above, it is clear that Stalin would not recognize the right to self-determination of only those nations with progressive impact, and that he said Molotov thought that not recognizing Israel would have been ‘against the Jewish people.’ They believed they should not oppose the fait-accompli in Israel, though they would have preferred a different outcome.” (2)

These are good examples of how not to approach political errors and history. In his memoirs, Molotov washes his hands of responsibility for Israel even though he had a big role in policies that aided Israel’s creation. Rather than accepting his errors, Molotov obfuscates. He shifts the blame onto United States, who subsequently became the main supporter of Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian peoples and wars against the Arabs. The genocide and wars continue to this day. MIM does not confront Molotov on his dishonesty. MIM articulates Molotov’s excuse better than Molotov. According to MIM, Stalin’s power was limited and he had no choice but to recognize Israel. Since the Zionists had won their war, what is gained by an infantile refusal to recognize them? This might make sense if all you had to go on was Molotov’s word. However, the reality is that Molotov is lying by omission. And MIM doubles down on the lie.

Stalin’s regime did more than extend de jure recognition to an already victorious Israel on May 18, 1948, they were the first. Several Eastern Bloc countries followed suit, extending de jure recognition to Israel before the United States, which only got around to de jure recognition by January 31, 1949. Golda Meir, one of Israel’s founding elders and Israel’s Fourth Prime Minister, wrote in her memoirs:

“… [T]he Soviet recognition of the State of Israel on May 18 was of immense significance to us.  It meant that the two greatest powers in the world has come together, for the first time since World War II, to back the Jewish state, and although we were still in deadly danger, we knew, at last, that we were not alone. It was in that knowledge – combined with sheer necessity – that we found the spiritual, if not the material, strength that was to lead us to victory.” (3) *

Stalin’s recognition of Israel gave a tremendous morale boost to the Zionists. It also boosted their international legitimacy and gave them diplomatic cover. What Molotov and MIM fail to mention is that  Stalin’s support for the Zionist movement goes back prior to the Israeli victory. The Eastern Bloc played a key role in the victory of the Zionists.

The Jewish Agency, an organization that later became the state of Israel, between June 1947 and October 31, 1949, began seeking weapons for Operation Balak. Weapons were procured using communist help in Czechoslovakia. As the communists became more influential after World War 2, material support for Zionism increased. The communist coup increased Czechoslovakia’s support for the Zionists. The Soviet Bloc arms shipments were very significant. Most of the arms were of German design. They were either leftover arms from World War 2 or new arms manufactured in Czechoslovakia using German designs. The arms shipments up to October, 1948 included: 34,500 P-18 rifles, 5,515 MG 34 machine guns with 10,000 ammo belts, 10,000 vz.24 bayonets, 900 vz. 37 heavy machine guns, 500 vz. 27 pistols. Other infantry weapons: 12 ZK-383 submachine guns, 10 ZK 420 semi-automatic rifles, 500 vz. 26 light machine guns (shipped, yet delivery not confirmed in Czech sources). Ammunition: 91,500,000 7.92×57mm Mauser cartridges, 15,000,000 9mm Parabellum cartridges, 375,000 13mm cartridges for MG 131, 150,000 20mm cartridges for MG 151, 375,000 7.65mm cartridges for vz. 27 pistol. Aircraft: Israeli Avia S-199, 1948, 25 Avia S-199 fighters, 61 Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX fighters. (4) The Israelis continued to receive arms and support after 1948. In addition, the Soviet bloc provided weapons and tactical training the the Zionist insurgency. Eighty-one pilots and 69 crew specialists were trained. Some of these later formed the first units of the Israeli air force. The equivalent of a brigade of Jewish-Czech volunteers were trained on Czechoslovakian soil from August 20, 1948 until November 4, 1948. The Czechoslovakian codename for the operation was “DI,” an abbreviation for “Důvěrné Israel,” which means “Classified Israel.” A motorized brigade was also trained, but the war had been won before they were deployed. (5)

Golda Meir was especially appreciative of Stalin’s help, which saved their movement:

“Had it not been for the arms and ammunition that we were able to buy in Czechoslovakia and transport through Yugoslavia and other Balkan countries in those dark days at the start of the war, I do not know whether we actually could have held out until the tide changed, as it did by June, 1948. For the first six weeks of the War of Independence, we relied largely (though not, of course, entirely) on the shells, machine guns, bullets – and even planes – that the Haganah had been able to purchase in Eastern Europe at a time when even the United States had declared an embargo on the sale of shipment of arms to the Middle East. ” (6)

Elsewhere, she states:

“I shall always remember the profound understanding shown by the Russian authorities to the many problems of our young state.” (7)

Stalin’s aid to the Zionists is not some big secret. On May 14, 1947, before the Zionist victory that led to the Israeli state, the Soviet ambassador Andrei Gromyko announced:

“As we know, the aspirations of a considerable part of the Jewish people are linked with the problem of Palestine and of its future administration. This fact scarcely requires proof…. During the last war, the Jewish people underwent exceptional sorrow and suffering… The United Nations cannot and must not regard this situation with indifference, since this would be incompatible with the high principles proclaimed in its Charter…The fact that no Western European State has been able to ensure the defence of the elementary rights of the Jewish people and to safeguard it against the violence of the fascist executioners explains the aspirations of the Jews to establish their own State. It would be unjust not to take this into consideration and to deny the right of the Jewish people to realize this aspiration.” (8)

Although the Soviets said they preferred the partition, they also supported an Israeli state. So the Soviet support for Israel was not because Israel was a fait-accompli, as MIM claims. The socialist bloc had been giving moral, diplomatic, and material support to the Zionist insurgency long before its de jure recognition of Israel.

It is easy to see how the dishonest historical narrative arose. MIM approaches history as other dogmatic revisionists do. Their method is to construct a narrative in favor of their pantheon of revolutionary icons, then gather information that appears to support it, ignore what does not support it, make excuses, avoid political responsibility for errors. In this case, they present a small tidbit from Molotov that appears to the uneducated to sound reasonable. MIM leaves out the rest of the story because they are not interested in truth. The are not interested in the genuine historical record, they are interested in deflecting criticism from Stalin. They do not practice historical science, they practice apologetics. Truth does not matter. Defending Stalin on all things matters most, even if it means sacrificing truth. MIM uses this same method in their work on the Maoist era. All the more damning is that two of MIM’s cardinal points of unity involve historical claims about when the Soviet and Maoist revolutions were reversed. Either MIM was demanding unity about historical eras it did not understand or MIM was consciously misrepresenting these eras in an effort to be in line with Maoists internationally. Whether MIM was sloppy and ignorant or dishonest, their approach was not scientific. Unfortunately, MIM’s “cutting the toes to fit the shoes” approach to history is all too common among revisionists that claim to be communist. By contrast, the scientific, true communist historian goes where the data leads. He does not begin with picking good guys and bad guys, then proceed to cherry pick data to support the good guy and defame the bad guy. A serious historian looks at and presents all the data, even data which goes against his political instincts. A serious historian examines all possible reasonable narratives, weighing them against each other and the data. A serious historian integrates his narrative with what we know about systems of oppression. A serious historian is out to discover truth, even if truth goes against his political instincts.  We must uphold what is good in all things, all leaders, and reject the bad. We must uphold what is good in Stalin and come to terms with what is not. Writing history should not be like writing a novel.

Several factors led to Stalin’s support for Israel. After World War 2, the Soviet policy continued to be based on Lenin’s idea of continuous intra-imperialist conflict. Stalin thought that the Western allies of World War 2 would break down. As the imperialists sought more and more expansion, they would inevitably lead the world into another great war. Stalin saw the British empire as the strongest of the European powers after World War 2. The Zionist insurgency could be used to weaken British rule over Palestine. In addition, the British still wielded power and influence over those lands neighboring the Soviet Union’s southern flank. The Soviets had their buffer zone of satellite states in Eastern Europe, but were encircled in the south. The Zionist war against the Arabs was also a war against the British who had restricting migration and enforcing an embargo on Palestine in hopes of keeping the peace with the indigenous Palestinians. The British did not want to see their colonial possession destabilized or fall into sectarian conflict. Stalin was hoping to fan the flames of the conflict between the Zionists and the British. Golda Meir states, “There is now no doubt in my mind that the primary Soviet consideration was to get the British out of the Middle East.” (9) Furthermore, the Zionist movement had a strong pole that was perceived as leftist, socialist, anti-capitalist. The Kibbutz movement and Golda Meir herself represent this trend. Golda Meir and Molotov’s wife briefly discussed collective property in 1948:

“I had a much more interesting and rewarding encounter with another Soviet citizen at the reception given by Mr. Molotov on the anniversary of the Russian Revolution, to which all the diplomats in Moscow are invited each year… After I had shaken hands with Molotov, his wife, Ivy Molotov, came up to me. ‘I am so pleased to meet you, at last,’ she said with real warmth and even excitement. Then she added, ‘I speak Yiddish, you know.’

‘Are you Jewish?’ I asked in some surprise.

‘Yes,’ she said, answering me in Yiddish, ‘Ich bin a yiddishe tochter.’ (I am a daughter of the Jewish people.) We talked together for quite a long time. She knew all about the events at the synagogue and told me how good it was that we had gone. ‘The Jews wanted so much to see you,’ she said. We touched on the question of the Negev, which was being debated at the United Nations. I made some remark about not being able to give it up because my daughter lived there and added that Sarah wa with me in Moscow. ‘I must see her,’ said Mrs. Molotov. So I introduced Sarah and Yael Namir to her, and she talked to them about Israel and asked Sarah dozens of questions about kibbutzim, who lived in them and how they were run. She spoke Yiddish to the girls who were overjoyed when Sarah answered in the same language. When Sarah explained that everything in Revivim was owned collectively and that there is no private property, Mrs. Molotov looked troubled. ‘That is not a good idea,’ she said. ‘People don’t like sharing everything. Even Stalin is against that. You should acquaint yourself with Stalin’s thoughts and writings on the subject.’ Before she returned to her other guests, she put her arm around Sarah and, with tears in her eyes, said, ‘Be well. If everything goes well with you, it will go well for all Jews everywhere… after that conversation with us, Ivy Molotov had been arrested, and how earlier that day, we had watched the military parade in Red Square. I had so envied the Russians all those weapons on display – the tiniest fraction of which was beyond our means – and, as if he read my thoughts, Molotov had raised a glass of vodka to me later and said, ‘Don’t think we got those in a single day. The time will come when you, too, will have these things. It will all be all right.” (10)

Because there was some perceived ideological overlap between parts of the Zionist movement and the Soviet Union’s ideology, there was a hope that Israel might emerge as not just friendly to the Soviet Union, but as a satellite country, similar to the Eastern European people’s democracies. In this way, Israel could help not only break up the imperialist encirclement on the Soviet southern flank, but an Israeli people’s democracy could also become a southern buffer against imperialist attack.

The Arab world suffered in more ways than one. The Zionist war led to the racist, apartheid state of Israel. The genocide against the Palestinians continues. Israel has become the right hand of imperialism in the Middle East. Israel is on the front lines suppressing resistance movements and regimes on behalf of the First World. Israel is a kind of permanent, giant aircraft and troop carrier in the troubled region, always ready to do battle with the people. Recently, Israel has been called on to check Iran’s growing power in the region. In addition, in  almost every large region of the Third World there have been communist or nominally communist parties that seized state power: Asia, Latin America, Africa, all had genuine Marxist or nominally Marxist movements seize power. Even though the Arab world is very large, spreading over the whole of northern Africa and much of the Middle East, very few Marxist or nominally Marxist movements have gained any real significance. Conditions there are not fundamentally different than in other Third World countries. In the Middle East, nationalism, Baathism, and Islamic movements have, for the most part, led the concrete anti-imperial struggle, not Marxists nor revisionists. There was South Yemen’s pro-Soviet regime and forces in Oman connected to Yemen, but, on the whole, both real Marxism and revisionism have lacked strength in the Arab world. Even though Stalin changed his policy toward Israel in the following years, the international communist movement suffered from Stalin’s error.

During World War 2, Stalin’s regime had to resurrect Russian nationalism as a way of motivating the people to fight the Nazi invader. This carried over into the post-war years. Stalin’s Israel policy placed Russo-Soviet national or imperial interest above the interests of the global proletariat, including the Palestinians who were suffering an invasion by a racist enemy that eventually led to occupation and depopulation. Stalin placed the narrow geopolitical concerns of the Soviet Union as a country above the international proletariat. Even if Stalin was able to win Israel to his side on a more permanent basis, it should have been obvious that support for such an invasion and occupation would taint communism in the eyes of the Arab people. Stalin’s approach does not calculate in the agency and potential of the Arab people, a poor and colonized people. Instead of the masses making history, in such a worldview, geopolitical machinations by powerful states make history. Stalin was looking too much to powerful states, not class struggle as the motor of history. In the case of Israel, the Soviet outlook does not seem totally different from those of the Western imperialists. No matter what superpower won, the Arabs lost.

Other changes were afoot in the Soviet Union. The Soviet regime edged toward traditionalism in gender and culture during and after World War 2. Traditional roles were recommended to women again in Soviet art. After World War 2, for example, a genre about overambitious wives who neglect their children develops in Soviet literature. The Soviet support for Israel is another indicator of regression. Soviet foreign policy seems to be operating, in this case, according to the national interests of the Russo-Soviet state, not the global proletariat. The fight for communism appears to be taking a back seat both domestically and in foreign policy.

Maoist China split with the Soviet Union over its imperialist policies after Khrushchev delivered his famous “secret speech” criticizing Stalin at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on February 25, 1956. Mao used Stalin as a battering ram against Khrushchev’s domestic capitalism and imperialist foreign policy. However, these tendencies that Mao so criticized pre-dated Khrushchev’s rise to power. Even though Mao posed as an orthodox Stalinist to criticize Khrushchev, the reality is that the these tendencies began to arise under Stalin’s watch. Interestingly, Stalin’s inner circle – Molotov, Malenkov, and Beria – all moved for a less confrontational Soviet foreign policy after Stalin’s death. At Stalin’s funeral, Malenkov unveiled a “peace initiative.” “There are no contested issues in U.S.-Soviet relations that cannot be resolved by peaceful means.” (11) The idea of “peaceful coexistence” between the Soviet bloc and the United States was mainly blamed on Khrushchev by the Maoists. This was one of the main reasons for the Sino-Soviet split. The claim that the contradiction between socialism and imperialism is non-antagonistic is thoroughly revisionist. Thus the Maoists correctly identified Khrushchev as a social imperialist. By the Khrushchev era, the Soviet state was really imperialist even if claimed to be socialist. When Mao’s own revolution went off the rails in the 1970s, Mao too began to place China’s narrow interest above that of the international proletariat. This is why Mao began to align with the West. This is why Mao aligned with the West in Angola, Bangladesh, Chile, etc. Just as such policies discredited the Soviet Union as it slid into revisionism, they also discredited Mao in the 1970s. Nationalism has proven a big danger to socialist regimes.

Leaders often play important, decisive roles. Leaders are often representatives of and concentrations of  great social forces. Great leaders, great geniuses, great warriors, can be indispensable. Even so, the analysis of history has to go beyond leaders. We should not organize our analysis of revolution and counter-revolution around a hero and villain. To do so is really just a version of what Marx criticized as the Great Man Theory of History. A truly scientific, materialist approach to history is looks beneath the surface. It is important to be honest with the masses. It is important to tell the truth, to have a real scientific attitude, about past revolutions. We are initiating the next great wave of revolution. It is important that we go further than all past revolutions. It is necessary that we achieve total revolution, Leading Light Communism. Only through a scientific account of the history of revolution can we really understand the errors of the past so that we can avoid them the next time we have power.

Friedrich Engels stated, “without theory, practice is blind.” Dogmatism blinds the people. It keeps the masses ignorant. Those who espouse dogma show a basic lack of trust in the masses. The masses can handle the truth. They are waiting for it. They demand it. Leading Light Communism is about rejecting all dogma. It is about advancing the science, pure and simple. It is about advancing the science in an all-round way, in history, in political economy, in aesthetics and culture, in power struggle, in military science, in constructing communism, in epistemology, and on and on. The proletariat must be given the weapons they need to liberate themselves, not dull knives, but sharp blades. Open your eyes. There is a new breakthrough, a new science, a new organization, a new leadership capable of leading us to victory. It is not about individuals. It is about the science, the masses, and the Earth.  There is a way to victory.

Notes

1. MIM. MIM Theory: The Stalin Issue. MIM. 1994 p. 43

2. ibid. p. 45

3. Meir, Golda, My Life. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. New York, USA: 1975 pp. 230-231

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arms_shipments_from_Czechoslovakia_to_Israel_1947%E2%80%9349

5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arms_shipments_from_Czechoslovakia_to_Israel_1947%E2%80%9349

6. Meir, Golda, My Life. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. New York, USA: 1975 pp. 230-231

7. Syrkin, Marie. Golda Meir: Israel’s Leader. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. New York, USA: 1969 p. 234

8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_Union_and_the_Arab%E2%80%93Israeli_conflict

9. Meir, Golda, My Life. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. New York, USA: 1975 pp. 230-231

10. Meir, Golda, My Life. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. New York, USA: 1975 p. 254

11. Zubok, Vladislav and Pleshakov, Constantine. Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War. Seventh Printing. Harvard University Press. USA: 2003 p.155

* Golda Meir mentions, contrary to most accounts, that the Soviet recognition occurred after the US recognition. She may be confusing de jure and de facto recognition.

post

Thoughts on Stalin

Thoughts on Stalinstalin-bio

(llco.org)

Many revolutionaries still stumble on the question of Stalin. They just can’t get by the Stalin issue, even though Stalin is still revered in much of the world despite the best efforts of the bourgeoisie to tarnish him. Stalin is a controversial figure, even within our own movement. Yet we say that he was still more right than wrong. Mao said that Stalin was 70 percent good, 30 percent bad. Perhaps Mao’s number is too positive, perhaps too negative. Mao made many errors too. Regardless, the thing we always have to remember about Stalin is that he faced problems which are unimaginable for most First World peoples.

From day one, the Soviet Union was encircled by the imperialists. There we inherited a country that was ravaged by violence and poverty. There the first breakthrough was made. There we built sustained socialism for the first time. Only a few decades after socialism was born, we were hit by the catastrophe of another world war. Twenty six million or so Soviet people died in World War 2. Had Stalin not industrialized as he did, with all the sacrifice that required, Hitler may  have been able to roll on to the Pacific ocean exterminating everything in his path. Or the conflict would have been more long and drawn out. More lives would have been lost. One of the most important lessons of Stalin that we must learn is that we revolutionaries will have to face problems for which there is no perfect solution. Sometimes the world presents us with hard choices. Stalin represents the hard choice.

Making revolution is not going to be easy. We are going up again thousands of years of reactionary social programming. We are going up against thousands of years of reactionary culture and social inequality. For thousands of years we have been taught that one group is better than another: rich better than poor, whites better than blacks, men better than women, etc. It is going to take a lot of hard work to overcome these and other divisions. The road will be long. There will be many twists and turns. Errors will be made, big errors. And, sometimes, we will be faced with hard choices. This is the sad reality of revolution.

Like most things, there is another side to Stalin than the one portrayed in the reactionary media. Many of the finest revolutionaries of the last century spoke well of him. Black communist W. E. B. Du Bois said of him:

“Stalin was not a man of conventional learning; he was much more than that: he was a man who thought deeply, read understandingly and listened to wisdom, no matter whence it came. He was attacked and slandered as few men of power have been; yet he seldom lost his courtesy or balance; nor did he let attack drive him from his convictions nor induce him to surrender positions which he knew were correct. As one of the despised minorities of man, he first set Russia on the road to conquer race prejudice and make one nation out of its 140 groups without destroying their individuality.”

“His judgment of men was profound. He early saw through the flamboyance and exhibitionism of Trotsky, who fooled the world, and especially America. The whole ill-bred and insulting attitude of Liberals in the U.S. today began with our naive acceptance of Trotsky’s magnificent lying propaganda, which he carried around the world. Against it, Stalin stood like a rock and moved neither right nor left, as he continued to advance toward a real socialism instead of the sham Trotsky offered.” (1)

When looking at history, we have to take a sophisticated view. Things are rarely simple when it comes to revolution. Was the Stalin era a harsh one? No one should deny that. But, as Mao said, revolution is not a dinner party. When we take power again, we too will be faced with hard decisions. Enemies will try to destroy us, just as they always have. We will, at times, need to deal with them harshly. This has been shown again and again. Enemies do not simply go away because we wish them to. The enemy will try to drown us in blood. We are not foolish utopians.

One thing about Stalin’s approach that we should try to avoid, which was also common during the  Mao era too, is looking at the problem of counter-revolution through the police paradigm. Now, the Chinese revolutionaries did reject the police approach on the level of theory, but the reality is that they did not always reject it fully in practice.  Usually their practice was muddled. A quick look at material from the period reveals that all of those leaders denounced in the period, both communist and capitalist, were seen through the police paradigm. They were seen as spies, wreckers, agents on the payroll of foreign states. The verdicts against them were police verdicts. Counter-revolution was seen through the lenses of the police. This is the wrong approach.

Of course there are real spies. Of course there is real wrecking. We are not fools. In fact, there are probably more FBI and CIA agents in the US than activists organized in self-described “socialist” organizations; there are probably more Hare Krishnas too — a sad indicator  of the lack of revolutionary social base in the First World.  While there are genuine cases of infiltration by spies and wrecking, such infiltration is not the main reason for counter-revolution. Maoists in China began to see the problem structurally, even if they were not always consistent. They saw that the continuation of inequalities and the continuation of  backwards ideas will solidify, congeal and spread if not continually attacked. Those structural and ideological problems will result in a new capitalist class arising within the organs of power, within the Communist Party and state. The problem of counter-revolution, therefore, is not mainly an issue of perfecting policing measures. Rather, combating counter-revolution and advancing socialism are a matter reducing inequalities in power, privilege and decision making. And, it is a matter of combating the backward culture, the backward social programming. Replacing old culture with new culture. This is part of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is continuous revolution, Cultural Revolution. It is key that we look at the problem of counter-revolution through the lenses of power, of structure, not through the lenses of the police. In many ways, the police paradigm of counter-revolution shares similarities with the Great Man theory of history, the idealist conception that historical progress is achieved by the acts of individual great men. The Leading Light Communist approach to counter-revolution is really just Marx’s historical materialism applied to the problem of counter-revolution.

We uphold the Stalin period in a general, but non-dogmatic way. Their errors are our errors, so to speak. We do not simply wash our hands. We do not simply walk away. Accepting this is part of what being a real leader is. Yet, we see the limitations of Stalin’s approach, one that was also shared by Maoists to an extent. However, the Maoists began to break with that, even if they did not break with it consistently and even if their practice lagged. Revolution is a long road. We will make many mistakes, twists and turns, false starts, retreats. This is why it is so important to put revolutionary science in command. Today, this means putting Leading Light Communism in command. Science learns. And, quite frankly, we have learned many powerful lessons from Stalin. Let’s not shrug our responsibility. We are Leading Light Communists, the vanguard of the world revolution. The people deserve an honest accounting  from us.

Red Salute to all those who came before!

Sources
1. W.E.B. Du Bois, The Oxford W.E.B. Du Bois Reader (NY: Oxford University
Press, 1996), p. 287.

Less work for the same pay

Less work for the same paydsc01966

(llco.org)

An experiment is afoot in First World, in social-democratic Sweden: less work, same pay:

“Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, will begin its experiment with six-hour working days this summer, hopefully proving that the shorter work hours can make up for what they lose in time with more efficient work.

If the plan goes well, it could spread across the Swedish civil society, but some lucky Gothenburg residents are already living the dream. Last week, Agence France-Presse spoke to a mechanic in the city who was working a six-hour day. ‘My friends hate me. Most of them think because I work six hours, I shouldn’t be paid for eight,’ Robert Nilsson explained.” (1)

The Third World and First World should not be conceived as rigid categories. Rather, they are poles in a continuum. Very wealthy populations like those of Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, etc. are more stereotypically First World whereas poorer populations like the majority in India, Bangladesh, Haiti, etc. are more stereotypically Third World. Other countries, perhaps the populations of the Balkans or Chile, fall closer to the middle of the continuum. The following list compares the annual hours worked per worker for 2012. The list is not clear whether it is counting just waged and salaried employees or others. Our guess is the list probably counts wage earners and possibly salaried employees only, not peasants who work their own land and other kinds of laborers, for example. Unfortunately, those countries that are most Third World are not represented on the list. Even so, the list of annual hours actually worked per worker for 2012 is informative:

“Mexico  2,225.66
Greece 2,033.96
Chile 2,029
Russian Federation 1,982
Poland 1,929
Israel 1,910
Estonia 1,889
Hungary 1,888.45
Turkey 1,855.058
Czech Republic 1,800.231
United States 1,789.922
Slovak Republic 1,785
OECD countries 1,765.488
Italy 1,752
Japan 1,745.201
New Zealand 1,739
Australia  1,728
Canada 1,710
Iceland 1,706.1
Austria 1,699
Portugal 1,691
Spain 1,686
Finland 1,672
United Kingdom 1,654
Slovenia 1,640
Sweden 1,621
Luxembourg 1,609
Belgium 1,574
Denmark 1,545.95
Ireland 1,529
France 1,479
Norway 1,419.7
Germany 1,396.6
Netherlands 1,381
6 hour work day 1,332″ (2)

Even though there are exceptions in the list, in general, the poorer countries are clustered toward the top, followed by wealthier countries in the middle and bottom. Mexico, with one of the poorer populations on the abbreviated list, falls somewhere between the poor extreme of the Third World and the middle of the continuum between Third World and First World. It is important to point out that Mexico is one of the wealthier counties of the Third World. Even though this is the case,  Mexico is probably has the poorest population of all the countries on the above list. Of those countries on the above list, Mexico is at the top, its laborers working the most. Of those countries on the list, other poorer countries are clustered at the top list. If the list were to include other, poorer Third World economies with industry, it is almost certain those workers would work even more hours than Mexican workers and much more hours than the wealthier First World countries. Obviously just looking at hours worked gives a very incomplete view of the Third World. The Third World also contains huge populations that exist in dire poverty that have been rendered unproductive by the system: some slum populations, some landless rural populations, refugees, etc. These populations are not represented in the list. Even so, the list tends to confirm that when Third World people can work, they work for longer doing harder work, under worse conditions, for less pay. Almost always, their work is more physically demanding than First World labor.

In terms of the distribution of hours amongst the wealthier countries, the reason that some poorer First World economies like Portugal work less than the United States is probably accounted for by different cultural norms, the existence of European social-democracy, type of economy, etc. In any case, Sweden’s experiment of  shortening the work week without lower pay is yet another indicator of the great difference between quality of life between the First World and Third World. There are other ways that the amount of work has been shortened in countries like the United States that are not accounted for on the list. For example, in many cases, some populations of the United States are entering the work force later due to the lengthening of adolescence, extending higher education, etc. It is no accident that there was great growth in leisure culture and adolescence following World War 2 as the United States emerged as the leader of the Western imperialists. Many have observed the lax attitude toward work of “generation x,y, and z.” “Thirty is the new twenty” is a popular characterization of this extension of adolescence that, in some cases, acts as a kind of extension of years spent consuming without working, similar to retirement but prior to entering the workforce full time. Again, this does not characterize every American, but it does characterize a significant part of the population. By contrast, Third World workers tend to enter the workforce younger and they do not typically receive retirement. This kind of contrast is not reflected by simply looking at hours worked per year by country. In reality, the disparity in activity is probably much greater for a regularly employed worker in the Third World compared to the First World.

This experiment is an example of how social peace is bought in the First World at the expense of denying increased quality of life to the Third World. It is a sign of what Lenin called “the seal of parasitism” for the First World. That the First World can afford such compromise between its strata shows the different strata of the First World are not antagonistic. Those who work in the First World have far more in common with those above them than with those below them in terms of lifestyle, culture, and class interest. In general, compromise and unity is how different First World strata relate. This is in sharp contrast to how the First World deals with the antagonistic poorer populations of the Third World. This is also reflected in the general lack of revolutionary activity in the First World compared to the Third World. The reactionary nature of the First World even infects those who claim to be leftists. They “wave the red flag to oppose it.” Some First Worldist anarchists seek to preserve their First World lifestyles while “abolishing work” entirely. How this could be achieved without continued imposition of suffering on the Third World is not explained by these social-imperialists. Similarly other First Worldists seek to increase First World consumption at the expense of the masses in the Third World.

The global economy is a game that distributes quality of life. It is a game with winner and losers. Those in the First World are winners for the most part. The masses in the Third World lose under capitalism-imperialism. The First World is populated by class enemies for the most part. The real revolutionary populations are the masses of the Third World, the Proletarian World. Leading Light is the voice of the poor. Leading Light is the sword and shield of the poor. It is the duty of every Leading Light to dedicate everything, to sacrifice everything, to live and die for the people. Serve the people. We fight for our future. Our day is coming.

Notes

1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/06/02/how-great-would-swedens-proposed-six-hour-workday-be-this-great/
2. ibid.

Turning Money into Rebellion edited by Gabriel Kuhn part 3

Turning Money into Rebellion edited by Gabriel Kuhn part 3KUF_Plakat-212x300

(llco.org)

Turning Money into Rebellion: The Unlikely Story of Denmark’s Revolutionary Bank Robbers (Kreplebebad, 2014) edited by Gabriel Kuhn documents the story of one of the most interesting revolutionary trends to emerge from the First World. It is the story of Mao-friendly, modern-day Robin Hoods from Denmark, the so-called “Blekingegade Group.” This trend began in 1963 as the Kommunistisk Arbejdskreds (KAK). Later, in 1978, it split into two groups. One retaining the original name. The other became the Manifest-Kommunistisk Arbejdsgruppe (M-KA). What made this trend unique was that it saw revolution in the West, including Denmark, as hopeless at present because the workers were simply too comfortable to support revolution. So, this trend saw it as their proletarian duty to support Third World liberation movements by providing material aid. They ended up financing the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to the tune of millions of dollars through bank robberies. Once the split happened in 1978, the KAK regressed toward typical, traditional solidarity, symbolic activism. The M-KA continued their illegal work providing material aid. It is the latter group that the book focuses on. In the previous parts of this review, the focus was on political economy and practice. In this final part, there are some final reflections on the M-KA and their own summations of their work.

Sino-Soviet split

The KAK had originally taken the Chinese side of the Sino-Soviet split. However, the KAK broke off the relationship with Beijing in 1968. They protested to the Chinese that their coverage of the First World was grossly inaccurate. The Chinese Communist Party continued to churn out First Worldist articles that overestimated the revolutionary potential in the First World despite the KAK’s objections. The KAK originally took its analysis very seriously. After the 1978 split between the KAK and the M-KA, the KAK patched up relations with Beijing. The KAK became a Danish mouthpiece of the Chinese state after 1978. Even though Mao was dead and the Gang of Four were arrested by 1978, even though China was now reversing its revolution and aligning with the Western imperialists more than ever, the KAK submitted to their leadership of the internationalist communist movement. The M-KA did not follow the KAK’s lead. Even though the M-KA was sympathetic to the Cultural Revolution and the Maoist domestic policy, the M-KA were always critical of the rightward turn in Chinese foreign policy in the 1970s:

“Jan: Ideologically, we found ourselves in a dilemma. We did see that the Cultural Revolution in China as a positive attempt to revise communism, but China was no ally in the support of liberation movements. In that respect, the progressive force was the Soviet Union, It had an objective interest in the liberation movements’ success and in the global expansion of socialism. Its leaders also chose their allies wisely. Their criteria were  very similar to ours: they were looking for socialist movements with popular support. The Chinese leadership, on the other hand, was so hostile toward the Soviet Union that it basically supported anyone who shared that sentiment. China developed ties to the most obscure political groups, and its foreign policy began to border on the absurd. In Angola, for example, they supported UNITA and worked alongside the CIA.

Torkil: In the late 1970s and early 1980s, China held the position that the Soviet Union was the most dangerous of all imperialist powers, and they encouraged the liberation movements to side with Western European nations and the U.S. As Jan said, it all became petty grotesque, and it also changed the perception of China among many liberation movements and their allies. KAK was far from the only organization that had a falling-out with the CPC around that time. If you go back to the early 1970, the PFLP was very pro-Chinese and hugely inspired by Mao’s guerrilla strategies. They were not very close to the Soviet Union. All this would change in the next decade.” (106-107)

Also:

“Torkil: …What I said before concerned exclusively the Soviet Union’s foreign policy — and even there, we would have wanted the Soviet government to be more radical and stronger in its support of Third World liberation movements. Regarding the country’s political and economic system, we had no sympathies at all. In the so-called ‘real socialism,’ a ‘democratic economy’ meant ‘nationalization,’ which, in turn, meant the state apparatus owned all the means of production. However, just because the state owns the means of production, the mode of production doesn’t necessarily change. The mode of production in the Soviet Union was very similar to capitalist ones, and sometimes worse. Look at Volkseigener Betriebe, the so-called ‘publicly owned companies,’ in the former East Germany: people never felt they were really in charge. It was the state that was in charge, and the people were not the state. The planned economy of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European allies was not democratic but very hierarchical. That is why the Soviet Union was never a model for us. However, it was a tactical ally in the support of liberation movements. One must not forget that the simple existence of the Soviet Union as a global superpower was very important to them, It created a space for them to be active. Had it not be for the Soviet Union, the U.S. might have used nuclear weapons to wipe out the Vietnamese resistance. Without the international balance of power guaranteed by the Soviet Union — also with regard to armament — things would have looked very different.” (105-106)

The fall of the Soviet Union, even though it had long gone off the rails, even though it was revisionist and social-imperialist since around the end of World War 2, was a setback for many liberation forces. Heightened contradictions between the imperialists gave liberation movements and independent, progressive regimes room to maneuver, to play one imperialist against another, to play East against West. With the fall of the Soviet empire, the armies of Western empire got a boost. Western imperialism had a freer hand to exploit and control the Third World. The fall of the Soviet Union created more global, transnational imperial unity. The fall of the Soviet Union was a further step in the emergence of a transnational First World empire. The Maoists, even outside China, had seen the Soviet Union as the main imperialist threat in the 1970s. They celebrated its fall in 1990s. Yet that fall had terrible repercussions of liberation struggles around the world. Numerous popular struggles folded or sued for peace as a result. This is something many contemporary Maoists have not come to terms with honestly.

More on the United Front

The M-KA had correct intuitions about the limits of nationalism. For revolutionaries, national liberation is merely a means to a greater end, not an end in itself. It is a means toward achieving socialism and communism. Similarly, anti-imperialism is not an end in itself, but a means for revolution:

“Torkil: For us, there has never been any valid anti-imperialism without a socialist base. We have always been primarily socialists. Anti-imperialism is important as a means to strengthen socialism, and it  doesn’t serve that purpose, it is not relevant for us. The principle of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ is way too simple — and dangerous.” (164)

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is usually associated with the tactic of the United Front. The idea is that one should strive to unite as many forces as possible against the main enemy at any given moment. Smaller enemies ought put aside their differences to unite against the main oppressor. Interestingly, the M-KA seem to bend to the United Front when it came to the Soviet Bloc. They considered the Soviet Bloc a partner in the United Front against imperialism. At the same time, they seem to simply dismiss the idea that the Islamic Republic of Iran or other Islamists could be partners in some contexts. “The religious regimes that claim anti-imperialist values have not liberated anyone.” (164) The PFLP that the M-KA supported, for example, has accepted Hamas as a legitimate part of their broader struggle. The Palestinian struggle has received aid not simply from the Soviet Union, but also Iran and the Gulf states. The PFLP has received aid from very reactionary regimes at times. It is odd that the M-KA don’t apply their argument consistently. They themselves acknowledged the Soviet Union could be worse than the liberal capitalist regimes, but it was still a tactical ally. No so with Iran.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” can quickly become inadequate in practice. There are multiple layers of alliances, some are apparent, but others hidden. Alliances can shift rapidly, which makes applying such a principle difficult or impossible in practice at times. There are also considerations about who is the main enemy in the long term versus the main enemy immediately. Even if the United Front is not perfect, one should nonetheless strive to make it a reality. Revolutionaries of the past have had to make all kinds of unsavory tactical alliances to win. There is nothing special about religious forces that make them unworthy of tactical alliances. Remember, the United Front is for our benefit first and foremost, not theirs. Has the Islamic Republic of Iran murdered leftists? Yes, but so had the Soviet Union. At the same time, the Islamic Republic is in the crosshairs of the First World, of imperialism, of Israel, of the Gulf states. The situation here is somewhat similar to the revisionist-era Soviet Union, although Iran is not imperialist on anywhere near the scale the revisionist-era Soviet Union was. Iran is more of a regional hegemon than an imperialist. The revisionist-era Soviet Union had snuffed out revolution inside and outside its borders. It had snuffed out revolutionary energy in many of those forces and regimes it controlled. Yet, despite its terrible policies, the Soviet Union played a progressive geopolitical role sometimes. Similarly, Iran is extending support to Hezbollah, the Palestinians, and fighting the Gulf states, Israel, and sometimes the West. The bigger problem in the “left” in the First World is not one of making unwise tactical alliances, but rather the bigger problem with “left” forces is the rejection the United Front. Those who reject the United Front often  end up as useful idiots for neoliberal efforts at regime change, for imperialist attacks on the Third World. There are plenty of First World “left” forces who have allied with imperialism, who supported imperialist intervention to further regime change in places like Zimbabwe, Libya, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. Neoliberalism has its origin in Trotskyism and social democracy in the service of empire. Even Maoists have ended up serving neoliberalism. Once the United Front is rejected, it is easily to slide into social imperialism.

Looking back and forward

The M-KA interviewees reflect on their practice:

“Torkil: Marxism in general has underestimated capitalism’s ability to adapt and transform. Since the days of Marx, capitalism’s ‘final crisis’ has been announced many times. It was no different than during the 1970s.

Second, I think the imperialist powers have learned a lot from the war of the era. The U.S. has changed its tactics since Vietnam and has confronted liberation movements much more effectively since…

Third, I think we overestimated the socialist element in the liberation movements, especially in its relation to the national element. Many of the movements were deeply nationalistic, but wore socialist colors. Not to be misunderstood: they weren’t consciously deceiving, and the socialist attire wasn’t fake, the socialist convictions just didn’t run very deep. Socialism promised a better life and it gave people hope. But it wasn’t at the core of the struggle, and national liberation rarely led to social liberation.

Fourth, I think we believed too strongly in the possibility of ‘delinking’, that is, of a nation being able to detach itself from the global economic system and introducing a socialist economy within the framework of a liberated nation state. This is a much more daunting task than we thought…

Fifth, whatever one’s opinion of the Soviet Union, its demise also meant the disappearance of the strategically most important counterpower to the U.S. No matter how you want to look at it, this was a strong blow to socialism.” (162-163)

On all these important points, the Leading Light is in agreement. Capitalism has proven very resilient. It should not be underestimated. Just as capitalism refines its science of oppression, so we advance our science of liberation, of Leading Light Communism. A transnational, global empire has emerged, the First World. Just as capitalism is globalizing, so too must resistance to it. Leading Light emerges to lead the transnational Global People’s War against Empire. The future is ours.

Zapatistas or Leading Light?

Further highlighting the contrast between the M-KA and Leading Light Communism are the M-KA interviewees’ comments on the future. When asked about movements today that are contributing positive, new visions, that might point the way forward, the M-KA interviewees identified the Zapatista movement of southern Mexico:

“Torkil: I think the Zapatistas provide an example. They are expressing socialist ideas in a new language. They are also anti-imperialists, although this might be anti-imperialism 2.0. In any case, the perspective of their struggle is global, not national.

We can see similar tendencies in many struggles, addressing everything from privatization to copyright issues to the ‘discursive struggles’ that Foucault has written about. Of course there are important struggles happening on the governmental and institutional level, but there are many small struggles in everyday life that concern very basic questions about what is good and bad, right and wrong, and so forth. All of them include the potential to strengthen socialist ideals. Here, too, the Zapatistas are a good example. They have a Foucauldian understanding of power: the micro level is very important; they don’t have power concentrated in institutions.” (174-175)

It may be true that the Zapatistas are not simply nationalists, especially Mexican nationalist. They are focused on their local communities with less emphasis on Mexico as a whole. It may be true they have raised awareness of their struggle to an international audience very successfully. They are very worldly in their outlook. However,  the M-KA interviewee has a mistaken view about their potential as revolutionary or anti-imperialist force.

As it happens, this reviewer worked, albeit briefly, with the Zapatista National Liberation Front (FZLN) and Indigenous National Congress (CNI) in Mexico in the mid-1990s. Although the Zapatistas were very worldly, they had lowered sites of what was possible. When I was there, the Zapatistas and allied institutions seemed unwilling to seriously ally themselves to other militant struggles in Mexico for fear of tainting their image. The Zapatistas were deeply rooted in a social base in Chiapas. However, outside Chiapas, they played to the Mexican social-democratic and liberal bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie. They also directed their message to Western liberals in North America and Europe. Marcos t-shirts were as popular as Che ones. Rage Against the Machine used an image of the Zapatistas on one of their albums. The Zapatistas were part of the people’s struggle, but they were always armed reformists. The Zapatistas themselves denied they sought state power on numerous occasions. They were very successful at appealing to the social-democrats and liberals in Mexico and abroad. They very consciously erected a personality cult around the romantic figure of subcomandante Marcos. Marcos was playing for the cameras when he shared a meal with Danielle Mitterrand in 1996. In typical Marcos style, he handed the former first lady of the French social-democratic, imperialist state a rose. “Madame, I am but a paper knight and all I can offer you is a paper rose.” They did not seek power by uniting popular classes across Mexico through a people’s war. Rather, a large part of their strategy seemed to be aimed at garnering sympathy with social-democrats and liberals in Mexico and abroad. They hoped these forces would pressure the Mexican regime into granting greater rights to Mayan and indigenous communities. To appeal to the conscience of imperialists and social-democrats is not a realistic nor sustainable anti-imperialist strategy. Whatever ideological rhetoric is used to justify this orientation, it is an orientation that is very much idealist. It fails to recognize that revolutionary social change is not made by appealing to the mercy of the exploiter. Revolutionary social change is made by broadly mobilizing the masses, by forming New Power, by people’s war, by putting revolutionary science in command. Maoists were fond of saying “the masses are the real heroes” and “the masses are the motive force in history.”

Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano was an important candidate for the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), a social-democratic, liberal bourgeois party in Mexico. In the context of Cardenas’ election bid for mayor (head of government) of the Federal District (“Mexico City”) in 1997, the Zapatistas had distanced themselves even further from revolution. They had distanced themselves from groups like the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) and even broad mass organizations that had suffered repression like the Broad Front for the Construction of a National Liberation Movement – Organization of the Peasants of the South Mountains (FAC-MLN-OCSS), victims of the Aguas Blancas massacre in 1995. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had ruled Mexico for 80 years at the time, but was feeling pressure to step down. It began looking like the PRI would turn over power to the social-democratic “left,” the PRD, at the country-wide, national level. Eventually, they handed power to the National Action Party (PAN), a neoliberal party to their right. In any case, La Jornada and liberal media were happy to juxtapose the “good guerrilla” of the Zapatistas to the “bad guerrilla” of the EPR and others. Sometimes the EPR were falsely called “the Mexican Shining Path” in an effort to malign them in the media. As it happens, the EPR had little to do with hard Maoism or the Communist Party of Peru. The EPR was a more traditional, nominally Marxist, guerrilla organization. The liberal media, through its speculations, seemed to be advocating a reconciliation and negotiated settlement between the Zapatistas and the Mexican state upon a PRD takeover at the country-wide level, which never happened. The Zapatistas presented themselves as cultured, literary, worldly, kind and gentle poets. They presented themselves as people the establishment could do business with, not as sectarian ideologues. However, their politics were localism combine with appeals to be saved by the liberal establishment. We should have no illusions that their path is a dead end.

I worked the entrance to the second CNI. The CNI was an organization allied with the Zapatistas, a coalition in which they played a leading role. I volunteered as a security guard at the CNI at the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH) in DF. When the FAC-MLN-OCSS approached the CNI, it seemed they were given the cold shoulder at the time. I know because I had been to the FAC-MLN-OCSS congress in defense of indigenous communities as a representative, part of a delegation, of the ENAH-CNI coordinadora. In addition, those of us wearing the purple security badges were instructed to not allow the Maoists or anarchists into the ENAH compound, not to allow them to agitate inside. Yet we were instructed to allow representatives from traditional parties like the PRI and PRD. At that time, the Zapatistas, although taking up arms and having deep connections to their own communities, seemed like liberal sectarians that was more interested in building alliances with the social-democratic establishment than with other militant peasant and worker organizations.

The Zapatistas were not offering a new vision of socialism. Rather, they were offering social-democratic reform, albeit in a ski-masked. pipe-smoking poetic form. At the time, one of the EPR commanders rebuked the poetry-writing subcomandante of the Zapatistas for what he perceived as their lack of seriousness. Alluding to Clausewitz, the EPR stated, “poetry is not war by other means.” Shortly following this, there were defections back and forth between the two organizations. I have not followed the twists and turns of the Zapatistas in the many years since then. Time flies. However, nothing I have seen in the media to make me reevaluate my assessment. The Zapatistas, for a time, became the darlings of the college and hipster activists in North America and Europe. All stripes of First World activists projected their politics onto the Zapatistas. To the anarchists, they were the living example proving anarchism can work. For  the Chicanos, they were a proud example of la Raza. For the less-rigid Maoists, the Zapatistas had so mastered the mass line, they were real Maoists even if they didn’t recognize it themselves. No doubt, there were even Trotskyists who saw the second coming of the man who organized the Red Army in the pipe-smoking masked man. Marcos himself joked about how people projected their aspirations onto their movement. I wonder if that is not what is happening with the M-KA interviewees. The Leading Light had not emerged in the 1990s. The “far left” was a bleak place indeed. It was a landscape of dogma and liberalism. In such a circumstance, the Zapatistas gave many people hope. Many people, who should have known better, did not examine the movement closely. Many people let their fantasies get the better of them. It is important to look beneath surfaces when examining movements. This is not to say the Zapatistas are not part of the United Front. They are part of the broad United Front. However, they are not offering a new “vision of socialism” nor “anti-imperialism 2.0.”

The level of the science

I discovered an archive of the KAK and the M-KA’s works online.* Although this trend hit upon many correct ideas about imperialism, the class structure, and practice for First World revolutionaries, the documents in the archive were relatively primitive when compared to the Leading Light. Although the M-KA was probably one of the most advanced groups to have emerged from the First World, they never advanced science in the all-round way that Leading Light has. Their lack of all-round scientific development was one the reasons they were not so much a communist vanguard. They seem more like a disciplined, independent support network for others who were leading struggles. The M-KA never merged with its Third World allies to become part of a global organization. Instead, they gave money at those who had a broad similarity with their vision. The PFLP fit the bill, even though the PFLP did not share their Third Worldist political economy necessarily. By contrast, Leading Light thinks the problem the world faces is much deeper. It is not just First World anti-imperialists who must ask “what is to be done?” So too must Third World forces. The worldwide revolutionary movement is at an impasse. The last great waves of revolution are defeated. What remains are dying fragments of the past. More money will not be the deciding factor reversing this trend. More than a vague leftist vision is needed to initiate the next great wave of revolution. What is needed is to adapt and update the science of revolution to today’s conditions. Just as Marx advanced the ideas he inherited, just as Lenin advanced Marx, just as Mao advanced Lenin, revolutionaries today must advance even further. The story of the KAK and the M-KA only highlight just how important our Leading Light work is. It shows how unprecedented and groundbreaking Leading Light Communism is. What we have is precious. We are writing a new chapter is the history of the world. We invite those individuals from the KAK and the M-KA and their circles to join us. We invite those inspired by their heroism to join us. Let your next chapter be our next chapter. You took a first step in the right direction. Now, take another. Pick up the sword again; pick up all-powerful Leading Light Communism. We have a world to win, together.

Kuhn, Gabriel. Turning Money Into Rebellion (Kersplebedeb, 2014)

* An archive of writings this trend can be found here: http://snylterstaten.dk/

Turning Money into Rebellion edited by Gabriel Kuhn reviewed part 2

Turning Money into Rebellion edited by Gabriel Kuhn reviewed part 29_turning_money_in_the_strangest_places_crop

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Turning Money into Rebellion: The Unlikely Story of Denmark’s Revolutionary Bank Robbers (Kreplebedab, 2014) is a great book every anti-imperialist and revolutionary in the First World should read. The book tells the story and thinking of the so-called Danish “Blekingegade Group,” the Mao-friendly Kommunistisk Arbejdskreds (KAK), founded in 1963, which later split with one part forming the Manifest-Kommunistisk Arbejdsgruppe (M-KA) in 1978. The book’s emphasis is the evolution of the latter group. The book documents the story and thinking of a trend that held that revolution in the First World was not currently possible, so they believed it was their duty to materially aid Third World liberation struggles. They raised the slogan “solidarity is something you can hold in your hands.”

Practice

Just as this trend’s political economy was far more advanced than most of their contemporaries, so too was their practice. Although the KAK’s and M-KA’s practices would eventually differ after their split in 1978, they held a similar view on political economy.  An earlier KAK document expresses a very important line of thought that is echoed in our own movement. A 1975 document from the KAK states:

“[It] cannot, in KAK’s view, be a task for revolutionaries today to inspire or to take the lead in the economic or trade union struggle of the [First World] working class. Such a struggle in the present situation has not, and cannot have the remotest connection with a struggle for socialism.

On this front it must be considered a far more correct task to inform the working-class (today one large labour aristocracy) that a new economic development which puts an end to the parasitism and plunder of the Western Hemisphere, ought be welcomed and, if possible, helped along. At the same time, one must understand quite clearly that it is only this very new economic development — whatever form it might take — that can convince the working-class of this fact. A parasitic, embourgeoisified labour aristocracy cannot be transformed into a revolutionary proletariat through speeches and articles. It still has to undergo a ‘hard castigation through crisis’, to use Engels’ expression, before it can contribute anything of value.” (192)

First World revolutionaries must avoid falling into the trap of economism because such struggles are won only at the expense of the Third World masses. Such struggles only deepen the stake of First World workers in the capitalist-imperialist system. They only push First World workers further toward social-democratic reformism. Such struggles only increase the bribe First World workers receive at the expense of the Third World masses. The economic struggle of First World workers is really just a form of social imperialism, imperialism with a red mask. In place of traditional activism, the KAK, and later the M-KA, created new kinds of revolutionary practice that are more compatible with the realities of global class. The KAK’s practices were both legal and illegal. The KAK organized and participated in traditional solidarity activism, which is mostly ineffectual and symbolic. For example, the KAK organized one of the earliest protests in Europe against US aggression in Vietnam. The KAK also organized study groups, published materials, and agitated against imperialism. However, this wasn’t enough: “Expressing solidarity is nice. But if it never translates into anything concrete, its powers are limited.” (131)

The KAK took their solidarity to the next level. They set up various charities to generate money and items such as clothing that could be useful for Third World peoples and movements. The KAK also participated in militant protests and small actions in the First World,  which, according to interviewees, was more about training for further clandestine activism than anything else. Around 1972 to 1975, security was tightened up as the KAK began more serious clandestine, illegal work. The KAK, later, the M-KA, moved up to bank robberies as their main form of fundraising. The money raised both legally and illegally went to numerous liberation struggles in the Third World: the MPLA in Angola, the FRELIMO in Mozambique, PFLOAG in Oman, ZANU in Zimbabwe, perhaps others. However, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) received the majority of their support. Anyone can claim to offer moral support. Anyone can talk the talk. What made the KAK and the M-KA unique amongst First World groups is that they walked the walk. They supported Third World liberation struggles materially. Sometimes the Third World movements were unaware of the illegal origins of the financial support:

“Jan: One could say that we had three different ways of supporting movements: some we supported legally through Toj til Afrika; some we supported illegally; some we supported both legally and — to a smaller degree — illegally, but without telling them. The PFLP knew what we were doing, but none of the other movements did. ZANU, for example, got resources that we acquired illegally, but they were unaware of it. Many liberation movements were infiltrated by intelligence services, we did not want to take any risks.” (108)

After the KAK and the M-KA split in 1978, the KAK seemed to backtrack. The KAK took up the line that they would prepare the way for a future revolution when conditions changed in Denmark. From the book, one gets the sense they shifted their efforts back toward traditional activism. This is not unlike the Maoists and anti-imperialists in North America who avoid economist activism while they cheerlead Third World struggles. Such Maoists claim to be “hastening [the development of] and awaiting” a future time when conditions change in favor of First World revolution. Whatever their Third Worldist rhetoric, the KAK’s later practice does not seem fundamentally different from any number of European and North American First Worldist groups. The M-KA, by contrast, emphasized the clandestine work, using mostly illegal means to provide logistical support for Third World forces, especially the PFLP. Although they considered other activities to raise money, including kidnapping and fraud, they focused on bank robbery. At one point, the M-KA opened a legal cafe, which did not make money. Their non-profit, legal clothing programs faltered also. Their ability to recycle old clothing to the Third World diminished as hipsters began buying vintage clothing. People chose to sell their old clothing, not donate it anymore. Their clothing collections ended in 1986. (138) Leading Light has advocated numerous ways to make money in the First World: “cults, businesses, mafias, non-profits, whatever works.” Some of these were not explored by the M-KA. Illegal activity is a good way to go, but one wonders if the M-KA explored legal options thoroughly enough.

Science, not adventurism

Despite sensationalist accounts about a suppose “terror network” in the bourgeois press, neither the KAK nor the M-KA had significant relationships with other First World urban-guerrilla movements. One reason they distanced themselves from groups like the RAF or the Red Brigades had to do with security. Logistical support for Third World liberation was simply too important to risk exposure by associating with infantile, emotionalist focoism or rioting. They went so far as to request the PFLP make sure other European militants had little knowledge or interaction with their work. They made sure to keep their practice invisible by avoiding the European urban-guerrilla groups.

Ideology also kept them apart from such movements. Such urban guerrilla groups still saw the First World workers as a part of revolution. Such groups did not have a realistic picture of European society:

“We never shared the RAF’s analysis that West Germany was a fascist state with a democratic facade. Furthermore, the RAF wanted to support the struggle in the Third World by building an anti-imperialist front in Western Europe. We considered this utterly impossible.” (44)

Similar groups to the RAF existed, albeit on a smaller scale, in the USA. The Weather Underground Organization (WUO) never was really Third Worldist. Sometimes they looked with skepticism on white workers, but they still looked for a First World “stand-in proletariat” in the youth and non-whites. Other times, the WUO took a more classical First Worldist workerist line, especially around the time of their Hard Times conference. Whatever the rhetoric of most First World “anti-imperialist” groups, their practice remains very much First World oriented, mostly resulting in completely inept politics. An irony is that despite the greater rhetorical emphasis on anti-imperialism, some of today’s so-called “anti-imperialist” groups often objectively aid Third World struggles less than more overtly First Worldist counterparts. The M-KA compares their criticism of focoism in Europe to similar criticisms of the WUO:

“Trokil: …In many ways, the LSM’s critique of the WU resembles our critique of the RAF. We also saw them as comrades and supported their actions against imperialism and its institutions. But we felt they had a wrong analysis of the political and economic conditions and therefore a wrong revolutionary program.” (126)

It is important to understand that the M-KA did not choose their path out of some emotional need. They did not choose their illegal course because it was romantic. They chose the illegal path because it made sense:

“Jan: Well, the facts are very clear. The maximum amount of money we were able to legally raise in a year was about half a million crowns — and this required the very dedicated and time-consuming work of dozens of people. This didn’t even compare to what we could make illegally. I really can’t see how we could have secured the funds we did with legal means.” (132)

In this respect, their activities can be distinguished from the numerous urban guerrilla groups that engaged in armed struggle with no hope of victory in the First World. The path of the early KAK and later M-KA was not chosen out of guilt or emotional need, but was the product of scientific calculus. Thus they should not be criticized as adventurous or focoist.

Science, not identity politics

The M-KA were selective about who received their support. They directed their support to those groups with a similar political vision. What drew them to the PFLP, for example, was the PFLP’s  vision of a socialist society, not their nationalism. Yet they maintained their independence, never becoming a PFLP cell. They were not under PFLP discipline and did not always share their emphasis:

“We did not primarily support the PFLP because it wanted to establish a Palestinian nation state, but because the PFLP envisioned a socialist society in the Arab world and because it had an explicitly internationalist outlook.” (47)

Having a mass base was also important to the M-KA, which is why they did not look favorably on Wadi Haddad’s sensational actions, even when he remained part of the PFLP. They were critical of his hijackings, which they saw as actions detached from the masses in Palestine. When offered, they chose not to participate in such adventurism. In addition, they directed their support to where it would matter most:

“Torkil: Another aspect that was important was the degree of support that a particular movement already had. One of the organizations that we supported, the PFLOAG/PFLO in Oman, was small and did not get much outside support, so for them a million Danish crowns really made a difference. This was not necessarily the case for organizations like the ANC in South Africa.” (108)

Thus they directed their material support to smaller movements whose armed struggle was just beginning. They correctly recognized that you get more “bang for your buck” by supporting movements in their nascent years. Established movements tend to have already secured significant, stable revenue streams. More established organizations have solved these logistical issues to the point that they do not need help.

Science, not romanticism

Some have falsely accused these movements of romanticizing Third World liberation struggles. The M-KA interviewees respond:

“Jan: When you are twenty years old, it is easy to see yourself as a heroic freedom fighter in the Third World. But those glorious images quickly fade once you really see the reality of the liberation struggle. Besides, the more we got to know liberation movements, the more we also got to understand that there was no lack of manpower. In the 1970s, millions of people were ready to die for socialism. There were many Europeans ready to join the PFLP. That’s why providing money seemed more useful to us. And I’m sure the liberation movements, too. They wanted ten million crowns more than a few extra fighters. The only exceptions were people with special skills…” (127)

Furthermore:

“Torkil: …Once you were in close contact with liberation movements, there was little space for romanticization. The cynicism of realpolitik was very tangible, and you were constantly forced to compromise. We certainly did not live under the illusion that we were working with saints.” (130)

There is a big difference between how people’s war is conceived in the abstract, especially amongst First World “far-left” activists, and the reality of people’s war. There is a big difference between talking about revolution and actually making it. There is a whole milieu of activists in the First World who romanticize people’s war, especially its Maoist variety. However, when confronted by the real deal, they do everything they can to sabotage it because they do not recognize it for what it is. This is part of a broader problem in the First World. There is a relatively high degree of ideological literacy of sorts amongst activists, yet First World activists are completely removed from a real social base. So, you have these people with highly developed dogmas running around with no conception or knowledge of what real revolution is or entails. They end up intervening in struggles they do not understand, usually in a wrecking capacity. Cowardly lions pimp off the very movements they unknowingly attack, but they are too stupid to even realize it. The M-KA’s reality based politics puts most of today’s “anti-imperialists” to shame.

Science, not First Worldist national liberation

Leading Light sometimes refers to Pantherism as one of the last bastions of First Worldism. What we mean by this is that once someone realizes that working people in the First World are not a proletariat, not a revolutionary agent, they often begin grasping at straws in desperation. They begin looking for a “stand-in proletariat.” Sometimes they look to the youth of the First World. Sometimes they look to the lumpen. Sometimes they look to migrants. Sometimes they look to non-white populations and the nationalist movements that seek to lead them. In the USA, the latter is associated with Pantherism.

“Jan: Of course we were aware that the conditions in North America were different from those in Denmark and the rest of Europe. Racism and the oppression and exploitation of the indigenous population played a different role. That’s why we saw revolutionary potential in the struggle of the Black Panthers. We hadn’t really researched the status and support they had in the black community, but they were certainly more interesting to us than white movements competing in revolutionary phraseology.” (124-125)

The reality is that, like the white population, the black population in the United States was not a social base for revolution at the time. It is easier to see how one could misjudge the situation in the 1970s. Whatever social base once existed amongst these populations, today, it should be obvious that there is no significant proletariat in the United States, white, black, or otherwise. Although the state played a role in smashing national liberation movements, changing social conditions were even a bigger factor in their demise. Just as white workers entered the ranks of the global bourgeoisie, so too have black and other populations for the most part. The M-KA also understood that in those communities where national consciousness was more a reality, indigenous nations, for example, those populations were simply too small to achieve revolution under present circumstances. At some level, the M-KA seemed to have realized that focusing on national liberation within the borders of the USA was misguided:

“Jan: …At the same time, we didn’t have the impression that the revolutionary potential of the North American movements were on par with the struggle in Angola or Mozambique. That was also true for the indigenous resistance. It seemed unlikely to us that the American Indian Movement would be able to start a revolution. It had very little support from the American working class. Of course we were in solidarity with their struggle, but mainly we saw it as a tragic one. It seemed similar to the situation in Greenland, which we also analyzed. We published articles about Greenland in Ungkommunisten, but we didn’t see much revolutionary potential there either. In the U.S., the brutal state repression of both the American Indian Movement and the Panthers seemed to confirm our analysis. Both movements were crushed by the authorities, also because they simply didn’t have the support that would have been needed to withstand the attacks.” (124-125)

For the most part, national liberation is a pipe dream in the United States. The overall tendency is toward integration of non-white populations. The United States has emerged into a multi-racial empire that is playing a key role in an emerging multi-racial, transnational First World, a kind of global empire. Some nationalists are fond of misquoting Mao as saying “national liberation is applied internationalism.” Mao did not advocated independent, single national struggles as the Patherist groups do. Mao advocated a pan-Chinese struggle that involved many nations against imperialism. And Mao was always an enemy of traditionalist national culture, unlike cultural nationalist groups. Patriotism of oppressed countries may have been applied internationalism during the decolonial struggle, but things have changed. The old formulation of oppressor versus oppressed nation no longer applies as it once did. Today, just as imperialism is globalizing, so too must resistance to it. Turning inward to nation or community will only undermine the struggle against imperialism. Leading Light Communism, its Global People’s War to liberate humanity and the Earth, is applied internationalism.

There is plenty of fake solidarity in the First World. Plenty of cowardly lions proclaim themselves ready to die for the revolution, but few will donate anything or put in any real work. These people are no more communist or anti-imperialist than a Civil War reenactor is General Lee. It is important to dispel confusion caused by these clowns amongst genuine people’s forces in the Third World. by contrast, the “Blekingegade Group” were true lions. Let’s hope that through story of the “Blekingegade Group” some First World activists will begin to awake. Let us hope that people in the First World will begin to understand that they too can play a progressive role instead of just spinning their wheels.  Let’s hope people stop yapping and start acting. The Leading Light shines the way forward. The future awaits.

Kuhn, Gabriel. Turning Money Into Rebellion (Kersplebedeb, 2014)

Turning Money Into Rebellion edited by Gabriel Kuhn reviewed part 1

Turning Money Into Rebellion edited by Gabriel Kuhn reviewed part 1detail_634_turning_money_into_rebellion

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Turning Money Into Rebellion: The Unlikely Story of Denmark’s Revolutionary Bank Robbers (Kersplebedeb, 2014) is a wake-up call for the legions of wannabe anti-imperialists and Marxists who populate the First World so-called “left” today. It is a collection of documents that chart the development of those revolutionaries who would later be known in the mainstream press as the “Blekingegade Group.” These Robin Hoods from the First World turned to illegal activities, especially bank robbing, in order to fund liberation struggles in the Third World to the tune of millions of dollars. Their presence was mostly unknown until their arrest in 1989 revealed the extent of their activities, which had been very successful and gone largely unnoticed. Law enforcement and the bourgeois media sensationalized and embellished the story for their own purposes. Wild tales of a dark, seedy world of international terrorism keep European audiences reading after their arrest. One of the goals of the book is to dispel many misconceptions about the group in the popular imagination. The interviewees tell their story in a matter-of-fact, non-sensationalized way. The articles and interviews come off as honest, even self-critical at times. There seems to be little myth making here. When we were asked to review this work, we agreed mostly to be nice. After all, a million tasks cry out to be done, and a million more. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the book. We thank the individual who gave us this additional burden. We had known about this group before, our German website contains several articles that mention them.  What we did not know was just how sophisticated this group was. There are obvious parallels between our work and theirs. When compared to the rest of the so-called “left” in the First World, our work may seem very similar to theirs. However, big differences exist also, and we should not lose sight of these. Importantly, unlike the trends that would lead to the Blekingegade Group, the Leading Light was formed through the convergence of several trends in many countries. Thus Leading Light’s history and approach are a little more complex. The Blekingegade Group was a First World group committed to aiding the Third World. The Leading Light, by contrast, is an international group that operates primarily in the Third World, but also in the First World. Even so, reading the words of the interviewees generated a sense of deja vu for some of our First World cadre. It was not only Blekingegade Group’s broad analysis and practical orientation that seem too familiar, but even very specific and technical points raised in the interviews. The Leading Light is in full agreement that talk is cheap, to quote the Blekingegade Group, real “solidarity is something you can hold in your hands.” Like echoes like. Like finds like, even if it is decades later. You are shining stars in the midnight of the First World so-called “left.” Respect, brothers and sisters.

Quick history and timeline

The “Blekingegade Group” is a media name for an organization that traces its origins back decades to the Kommunistisk Arbejdskreds (KAK). The KAK’s history goes back to 1963 when Gotfed Appel, a charismatic literary historian, was banned from the Communist Party of Denmark, a Moscow-loyal, revisionist party, for his sympathy with China. Gotfed Appel and others went on to form the KAK, which soon became recognized as fraternal by the Chinese Communist Party. The KAK worked closely with the Chinese embassy in Copenhagen. The KAK participated in traditional activism, including some of the first anti-Vietnam war protests. They founded a publishing house and newspaper. The KAK published and distributed copies Mao’s “little red book.” One thing that set them apart from the rest of the left was Gotfed Appel’s “parasite state theory,” the belief that the Western working class was not a revolutionary agent. As a result, the group focused on solidarity efforts, both legal and illegal activism, to aid Third World liberation movements. The KAK was serious enough about its analysis that it broke off relations with Beijing in 1968 when the Chinese communists continued to misjudge the situation in the First World. A decade later, in 1978, the KAK split when an anti-sexism campaign ran amok through the organization. According to the interviewees, the campaign was used opportunistically by Gotfed Appel’s leadership to silence others. (133) A new group critical of the old leadership was born: the Manifest-Kommunistisk Arbejdsgruppe (M-KA). After the split, the KAK continued to recognize the lack of revolutionary potential in the First World. The KAK moved away from active solidarity. They adopted the line that they would prepare the way for a future when conditions for proletarian revolution in Denmark would change in their favor. Whatever their Third Worldist pretense, the KAK returned to more traditional First Worldist activism, abandoning clandestine work for the most part. Also, the KAK patched things up with Beijing, even following the twists and turns of Chinese foreign policy even as China aligned with the Western imperialists. Predictably, the KAK’s influence waned. The M-KA moved in a more scientific, creative and less dogmatic direction. Although the M-KA continued some legal fundraising efforts, their illegal activities, especially bank robbing, became their focus. They mostly stayed off the radar of authorities and the First World “left.” The M-KA became a very capable, clandestine organization that raised lots of money for Third World liberation, especially the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). They were finally arrested in 1998 when they were discovered by accident. It is this latter group, the M-KA, that was mostly sensationalized as “Blekingegade Group.”

Parasite state theory and imperialism

Lenin taught that without theory, practice is blind. The practice of this trend was very much connected to their Third Worldism, which was very advanced at the time. Their theory was originally developed in the 1960s by Gotfed Appel. According to their “parasite state theory,” the First World working class was not an ally of the Third World proletariat and the fight for socialism at the present time. (4) This concept was very familiar, although usually poorly articulated, during the de-colonial struggles before and after World War 2. As early as 1933, Even Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, wrote:

“It is said that capitalism managed to prolong its life to our day because of a factor which perhaps Marx did not fully consider. This was the exploitation of colonial empires by the industrial countries of the West. This gave fresh life and prosperity to it, at the expense, of course, of the poor countries so exploited.” (30)

Julius K. Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, similarly stated:

“The only difference between the two situations is that the beneficiaries in the international situation now are the national economies of the rich nations — which includes the working class of those nations. And disagreements of the spoils, which used to exist between members of the capitalist class in the nineteenth century, are now represented by disagreement about the division of the spoils between workers and capitalists in the rich economies.” (31)

Others voiced similar sentiments. Although somewhat ambiguous, there was Che Guevara’s famous call for “many Vietnams.” There was also Lin Biao’s 1960s conception of the global countryside encircling the global city. Even Engels discussed that the whole of England, including its working class, was becoming bourgeois on the backs of its colonies. These kinds of ideas were somewhat popular in the 1960s and 1970s as anti-colonial struggles raged and as China sought to revitalize socialism through its Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Even though many expressed similar views, especially outside the West, few advanced the idea as forcefully as the KAK. Later, even fewer would add the scientific depth of the M-KA as they incorporated Arghiri Emmanuel’s theories of unequal exchange to Gotfed Appel’s. Today, Leading Light has advanced political economy even further.

The KAK did see the First World working class as exploited, but the class was bribed at the same time. This bribe made it so the First World workers had more in common with the imperialists than they did with Third World workers. In 1975, the KAK explained:

“[T]he working class in the developed countries of Western Europe and North America occupies a two-fold position. It is at one and the same time exploited (in so far as it produces surplus value) and bribed (in so far as its standard of living and hence its economic — and cultural — needs and its ‘trade union’ demands are based on decades of sharing in the imperialist world’s former colonial, now ‘neo-colonial’ plunder). Furthermore, the bribery factor is today the dominant factor of the two.

This bribery should not be understood in such a way that one can actually calculate how large a part of of the wage-packet’s contents is payment for the value of labour, and how large a part is bribery. It should be understood as meaning that the whole of the imperialist world’s economic, industrial, technical, cultural and social development in the last analysis is based upon robbery and plunder in the former colonies and dependent countries, now the ‘Third World’.” (191)

Thus the KAK’s view was a bit different than our own. The KAK’s description of First World laborers as exploited, but bribed and non-revolutionary is needlessly confusing. Our view is that, generally speaking, First World populations should not be considered exploited. Contrary to the KAK, we believe there are approaches to the question that can quantify the degree of parasitism, the size of the bribe, so to speak. Although their terminology is different, the KAK’s view, as articulated here, is not unlike the concept of net-exploitation found in our own tradition. The KAK’s main points of reference were the classic works of Marx, Lenin, and Mao, especially Lenin’s Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Although the KAK was describing an important phenomenon, their approach seems limited and dogmatic. After their split, the M-KA would deepen the analysis by breaking from the KAK’s orthodoxy:

“Jan: KAK’s reference points were always the classical texts of Marxism-Leninism. As far as imperialism was concerned, everything circled around Lenin’s text. This didn’t even change when our empirical studies in the 1970s showed that this analysis was no longer applicable: Lenin’s theories on monopolization, finance capital, foreign direct investments, etc., could no longer explain the enormous gaps in wealth. But it needed KAK’s demise and the founding of M-KA for us to be able to improve our analysis.

Torkil: It’s actually amazing that such a short and somewhat muddled text, written hastily in a Swiss library with limited access to source material, could be regarded as the ne plus ultra in the Marxist analysis of imperialism for over half a century. It really shows the position that Lenin had within the left and the power of Soviet propaganda.” (102)

One-time M-KA members explain just how different production is now than in the past:

“Torkil: If we take the purchasing power of Copenhagen with its one million inhabitants, then it equals the purchasing power of Tanzania with forty-six million people. Neoliberalism allows you to move production to where wages are low and then ship the products to where purchasing power is high. That way you profit on both ends. You can send a design for a Nike sneaker as a PDF to Vietnam, where you get the sneakers produced for next to nothing before moving them in modern containers to the U.S., where you can sell them for a multiple of the production costs. Making profit has never been easier. Once you have functioning logistics, modern technology, and safe transport, you are set. In the metropole, production is no longer key — what counts is design and marketing. The technologies are very different to the 1970s, but they perpetuate and even strengthen, the same patterns of exploitation. At the time, we spoke of ‘parasite states.’ Today, we might want to speak of ‘producer states’ and ‘consumer states.’” (167-168)

This foreshadows our own analysis. Despite pretenses of being led by scientific ideology, the so-called “left” is mired in dogma. This is true of almost every movement claiming to be revolutionary in both the First and Third World. What exists are not movements genuinely led by revolutionary science, but movements led by vulgarized, dogmatized ideologies of past revolutions. These movements fail to understand that the world has changed greatly since 1949, even more so since 1917. Revisionism, the abandonment of real revolutionary science, has led the so-called “left” into insignificance and irrelevance. The M-KA embraced a more advanced political economy in its effort to understand global class. They embraced more advanced understanding of imperialism. And they embraced a more advanced practice than other First World movements at the time. Like ourselves, the M-KA rejected dogmatic orthodoxy of First Worldism without falling into liberalism and wishy-washy movementarianism. In their context, they avoided both the dogmatism and liberalism that are so prevalent in the First World so-called “left.” The M-KA continue to maintain their correct orientation toward the Third World even to this day. One interviewee states:

“Torkil: …Despite the anti-imperialist liberation struggles disappearing in the 1980s, the main contradiction in the world remains the one between the rich capitalist countries in the North and the exploited countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Future anti-imperialist struggle is inevitable.” (181)

Leading Light has pointed out that at least until the end of World War 2, Lenin’s understanding of imperialism was more correct than others. At the time, it was more correct than Kautsky’s theory of ultra-imperialism. The world did enter a cycle of world wars as imperialists vied with each other for the colonial world. However, world wars threatened the capitalist system as a whole. The first world war weakened capitalism so much that proletarian revolution rose to power in the old Russian empire. The second world war saw the rise of Maoist China. So weakened were the old empires that a massive de-colonial movement swept the world as European empires were no longer able to hold onto their colonies. The system as a whole was so threatened that measures were taken to avoid future world wars. Globalization moved forward. International institutions were created to resolve or minimize conflicts.  Imperial cultures mixed with each other. Transnational Non-Governmental Organizations emerged. Economies were integrated. Capital became more and more transnational. Corporations and other capitalist entities were no longer loyal to this or that single country. Rather, a transnational First World empire begins to emerge that exploits the masses across the Third World. To understand this ongoing process, it is necessary to go beyond the dogma of the past.

The science of oppression is constantly advancing. The oppressors recruit some of the best and the brightest to populate a network of intelligence  and military agencies, think tanks, academic departments, and legislatures. In order to beat the oppressor, to make revolution, it is necessary to advance revolutionary science to ever new heights. Old dogma won’t cut it. Although the M-KA’s political economy, in some respects,  anticipates the rise of Leading Light Communism, it is important to understand that the problem facing the revolutionary movement is not so simple. It is not as though Maoism or national liberation plus Third Worldist political economy is the solution. The current impasse of the revolutionary movement stems from a much deeper epistemological problem, from lack of advanced scientific leadership, from dogmatism. The problem, and solution, is much bigger than political economy. The question of “what is to be done?” must not simply be asked by First World comrades, but also Third World comrades. Although delivering real support to this or that people’s struggles is truly honorable, more money alone is not going to tip the fundamental balance. The key to victory is revolutionary genius, all-round, all-encompassing, all-powerful scientific advance: Leading Light Communism. One people. One Earth. One Global People’s War. One organization. One leadership. Leading Light.

Kuhn, Gabriel. Turning Money Into Rebellion (Kersplebedeb, 2014)

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Soviet Women, Traditionalism, Revisionism

Soviet Women, Traditionalism, RevisionismBigWoman

(llco.org)

These comments are a reaction to Gail Warshofsky Lapidus’ “Women in Soviet Society: Equality, Development, and Social Change.” Much of Lapidus’ essay covers the same ground as these other  works: Wendy Goldman’s Women at the Gates, Sheila Fritzpatrick’s Everyday Stalinism, and Hiroaki Kuromiya’s Stalin’s Industrial Revolution.  What is refreshing about these authors, even though they are not communists, they approach the Stalinist era in a reasonable, less sensationalist way. Their work is rigorous and detailed, using a broad range of primary sources, including the Soviet archives. They also address the complexity of the Stalin era. They do not see the Stalin regime as a monolith. They do not embrace the totalitarian paradigm so popular in anti-communist propaganda. They also don’t fall for the “Stalin as madman” view that is so popular in the work of Daniel Pipes, Robert Conquest, and the Trotskyists. One good thing about this short essay is that it covers some of World War 2 and post-World War 2 periods. In the end, the analysis sees the Stalin regime as a contradictory mix of radical social revolution and traditionalist authority. There is some truth that the Stalin era involved this complexity, and the regime fell into old ways despite its revolutionary pretense. Even so, the analysis fails to look at just how difficult social revolution is. The revolution was encircled, all the capitalist empires sought to snuff it out. Nazi Germany invaded, killing 27 million Soviet citizens. Internal enemies confronted the regime. At the same time, the regime was trying to erase thousands of years of reactionary social programming. There were bound to be complicated, difficult contradictions. This is part of the revolutionary process. Although her analysis is very detailed, she looks at the regime through idealist lenses. She does not take into account that revolutions are born in blood, that terror and authority are necessary components of survival. Forward motion, twists and turns, backward slides, all happen. Although she avoids the worst elements of anarchist and Trotskyist “madman Stalin” narratives, her conclusions are not all that different from the “deformed workers’ state” formulation of the Trotskyists. One wonders what, given Stalin’s situation and the level of revolutionary science at the time, what a non-deformed workers’ state would look. What would a non-deformed workers’ state would look like given the incredible pressures placed against the regime by internal enemies and imperialist encirclement, including the Nazi’s bloodbath? There is a lack of reality to her ultimate conclusions despite the details of her work.

Feminists in the 1920s discussed the liberation of women primarily in terms of “byt” or lifestyle. This means liberating woman from the drudgery of housework and the patriarchal family. Some of these goals sounded far fetched in the 1920s, but they were realized to some extent during Stalin’s era, especially during the Five Year Plans from 1928 to 1937, not because of the struggle against patriarchy as patriarchy. What ultimately doomed the opponents of women’s liberation was that their sexist policies were incompatible with the needs of production, of the Five Year Plans. The Five Year plans involved massive industrialization. By November of 1939, roughly two years after the Second Five Year Plan, women accounted for 41.6 of the work force. And this percentage is even greater in heavy industry. (1) This was in sharp contrast to pre-revolutionary times when women’s participation was much less.  Not only did women enter the workforce in record numbers in the Stalin era, but ghettoization of women’s work was struggled against, sometimes this struggle was successful, other times it failed. Between 1930 and 1937, percentage-wise, the largest influx of women was into construction, a traditionally male field. (2) Interestingly, “[t]he reception of women in traditional male fields was hostile… although this was less often the case in the Eastern region of the USSR where the demand for new laborers was particularly great and where the absence of entrenched male traditions permitted more flexible hiring practices.” (3) Within the top levels of the Party, Stalin represent the faction that pushed against those, especially the unions, who wanted to restrict union membership, including the power and benefits that went with it, to the traditional or “pure proletarian” who happened to be Russian, male, and urban. Unions also pushed for the restricting of hiring practices. This had the objective effect of keeping women, ex-peasants, the de-classed, and non-Russians unemployed. It kept them out of the good union jobs. The unions and  leaders like Tomsky sought to keep power in the hands of the “pure proletarians,” the Russian, urban men, who were the vast majority in the unions, but did not represent the majority in Soviet society. Those who opposed the unions also pushed for the employment of youth alongside women, non-Russians, and the de-classed. (4) Generally, it was less the fight against patriarchy per se that justified these policies that sought to bring women and youth into the workforce than concerns with production. Economic reasons were given in support of the liberation of women against its opponents. Economic realities necessitated a larger workforce. Stalin recognized this. Women, non-Russians, the de-classed, and youth ultimately won their struggle to enter the labor force thanks to Stalin.

Construction sites, whole cities, popped up over night. Industrialization brought women and others into the workforce. Collectivization was required to feed the new workforce. This massive development allowed for more communalization from the ground-up since in many of these new industrial centers, there was not entrenched traditionalist opposition. So, the state’s production policies ended up addressing many of the concerns of the feminists who wanted to revolutionize daily life in the domestic sphere through communalization. Collectivization in the countryside meant women were allowed to migrate to the cities to become employed. Collectivization also had big implications for women who remained in the countryside. It destroyed the old peasant economy, which empowered patriarchs. It took the means and organization of production out of the hands of the patriarchal family. The traditional domestic sphere suffered a huge blow because collective farms had communal facilities: kitchens, laundries, childcare, etc. Women were employed and lived in the collective farms where there was substantially less traditional oppression in the domestic sphere. Production demands required women, children, and also some of the de-classed be educated. Socialization now happened outside of the old patriarchal family and church. Women now had autonomy and freedom of movement for the first time since the new economy gave them a means to exist apart from the husbands. (5) Thus divorce became a more realistic option for wives.

“The forced collectivization of agriculture, with its stunning impact on authority and social relationships in the rural milieu, and massive entry of women into the industrial labor force during the 1930s, a process given still further impetus by the outbreak of World War II, were central features in this social transformation with the vast expansion of educational opportunities. The spread of networks of institutions for the education and care of children, and enactment of protective labor legislation and social programs designed to ensure the compatibility of women’s domestic responsibilities with industrial employment. These changes reverberated across the whole range of social institutions including the family itself.” (6)

Anna Louise Strong, a famous communist writer, describes the complexity of the struggle in the Soviet frontiers:

“The change in women’s status was one of the important social changes in all parts of the USSR. The Revolution gave women legal and political equality: industrialization provided the economic base in equal pay. But in every village women still had to fight the habits of centuries. News came of one village in Siberia, for instance, where, after the collective farms gave women their independent incomes, the wives ‘called a strike’ against wife-beating and smashed that time-honored custom in a week.

‘The men all jeered at the first woman we elected to our village soviet,’ a village president told me, ‘but at the next election we elected six women and now it is we who laugh.’ I met twenty of these women presidents of villages in 1928 on a train in Siberia, bound for a Women’s Congress in Moscow. For most it was their first trip by train and only one had ever been out of Siberia. They had been invited to Moscow ‘to advise the government’ on the demands of women; their counties elected them to go.

The toughest fight of all for women’s freedom was in Central Asia. Here, women were chattels, sold in early marriage and never thereafter seen in public without the hideous ‘paranja,’ a long black veil of woven horsehair which covered the entire face, hindering breathing and vision. Tradition gave husbands the right to kill wives for unveiling; the mullahs — Moslem priests supported this by religion. Russian women brought the first message of freedom; they set up child welfare clinics where native women unveiled in each other’s presence. Here, the rights of women and the evils of the veil were discussed. The Communist Party brought pressure on its members to permit their wives to unveil.

When I first visited Tashkent, in 1928, a conference of Communist women was announcing: ‘Our members in backward villages are being violated, tortured and murdered. But this year we must finish the hideous veil; this must be the historic year.’ Shocking incidents gave point to this resolution. A girl from a Tashkent school gave her vacation to agitating for women’s rights in her home village. Her dismembered body was sent back to school in a cart bearing the words: ‘That for your women’s freedom.’ Another woman had refused the attentions of a landlord and married a Communist peasant; a gang of eighteen men, stirred up by the landlord, violated her in the eighth month of pregnancy and threw her body in the river.

Poems were written by women to express their struggle. When Zulfia Khan, a fighter for freedom, was burned alive by the mullahs, the women of her village wrote a lament:

‘O, woman, the world will not forget your fight for freedom!
Your flame — let them not think that it consumed you.
The flame in which you burned is a torch in our hands.’

The citadel of orthodox oppression was ‘Holy Bokhara.’ Here, a dramatic unveiling was organized. Word was spread that ‘something spectacular’ would occur on International Women’s Day, March 8. Mass meetings of women were held in many parts of the city on that day, and women speakers urged that everyone ‘unveil all at once.’ Women then marched to the platform, tossed their veils before the speakers and went to parade the streets. Tribunes had been set up where government leaders greeted the women. Other women joined the parade from their homes and tossed their veils to the tribunes. That parade broke the veil tradition in Holy Bokhara. Many women, of course, donned veils again before facing their angry husbands. But the veil from that time on appeared less and less.

Soviet power used many weapons for the freeing of women. Education, propaganda, law all had their place. Big public trials were held of husbands who murdered wives; the pressure of the new propaganda confirmed judges who gave the death sentence for what old custom had not considered crime. The most important weapon for freeing women was, as in Russia proper, the new industrialization.

I visited a new silk mill in Old Bokhara. Its director, a pale, exhausted man, driving without sleep to build a new industry, told me the mill was not expected to be profitable for a long time. ‘We are training village women into a new staff for future silk mills of Turkestan. Our mill is the consciously applied force which broke the veiling of women; we demand that women unveil in the mill.’

Girl textile workers wrote songs on the new meaning of life when they exchanged the veil for the Russian head-dress, the kerchief.

‘When I took the road to the factory
I found there a new kerchief,
A red kerchief, a silk kerchief,
Bought with my own hand’s labor!
The roar of the factory is in me.
It gives me rhythm.
it gives me energy.’” (7)

World War 2 also changed the situation for women. The war further brought women into the workforce. Men were mobilized into the military. Thus women often filled the need of production, as they did in other countries. In 1945, women were 56 percent of the workforce. One important criticism of Wendy Goldman’s Women at the Gates is that she writes as though women’s struggles were going on in a vacuum, so she seems to find fault with Stalin for not going far enough and directing more energy to communalization. Lapidus’ also points out that communalization of domestic sphere did not keep pace with industrialization in general. (8) But again, this can be partially explained because of the massive amount of resources needed for World War 2. This is a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. It is impressive is how the Soviet Union pushed forward considering the dangerous military situation that existed. However, during and war and after, the specific issues of women would get a lower priority. The war effort, then efforts to rebuild, trumped social revolution.

Throughout the Stalin period, before and after the war, Soviet economists studied the benefits of communalization in great detail. They came to the conclusions that it was necessary for a rationally organized economy. Yet those forces opposed to the collective economy blamed women for economic problems and the feeling of social chaos and instability of this revolutionary period. Later, “Measures designed to protect and give more freedom to women were whittled away.” (9) Unfortunately, her essay barely scratches the surface of this opposition to women’s liberation. It fails to ask, when, where and who. Goldman’s book answers these questions much better, especially outlining the conflict between the unions and those associated with the women’s organizations, and the struggle of both of these trends with Stalin. Stalin ended up more on the feminist side, but primarily for productionist reasons. The only opposition covered in Lapidus’ essay is that of male managers and engineers in the later Stalin period, presumably after World War 2.

Even though much progress was made for women in the Stalin era, new and old forms of patriarchy emerged. In the earlier part of the industrialization under Stalin, managers were on the side of giving women more opportunities generally because there were labor shortages. The shortages were so great that managers went around the labor rolls and official channels to an underground market of people looking for work. These people were often women who could not get on the labor roles for various reasons. The unions fought to keep them off, the unions were trying to protect the privileges of the traditional “pure proletarian,” the traditional Russian, male worker. Chaos spread through the planned economy. There was both a labor shortage and high unemployment at the same time because industrialization created a need for more laborers but the unions created obstructions to keep women, ex-peasants, non-Russians, etc. unemployed. As the economy changes, so too did opposition to women’s liberation. According to Lapidus, the managers and engineers became part of the conservative trend. Although Lapidus doesn’t say, this was probably after the second Five Year Plan, and later, after World War 2, when the was more wealth and consumer goods. This more affluent group now wanted their wives at home.

It is well known that the regime produced a great deal of art promoting the new status of women. Women tractor drivers, for example, became a cliche in Stalin-era art. This art was especially associated with the Five Year Plans. This progressive art was not the only art. Especially after World War 2, another art emerged that promoted the idea that women should be good workers and good, traditional wives. Lapidus writes, “the ranks of proletarian heroines were now joined by the wives of the new Soviet elite of managers, praised not for heroic feats of production but for introducing civilization to the lives of men by planting flowers outside power stations, sewing linen, and opening fashion studios.” (10)  One example is a fictional account of a female heroine that meets a fictional Stalin:

“‘Our feminine hearts are overflowing with emotions,’ she said, ‘and of these love is paramount. Yet, a wife should also be a happy mother and create a serene home atmosphere, without however, abandoning work for the common welfare. She should know how to combine all these things while matching her husband’s performance on the job.’

‘Right,’ said Stalin.” (11)

Another example is Marya by Georgii Medynsky, a story that criticizes the effects of women’s liberation:

“He was used to being boss in his house. He used to walk along the villages with an unhurried step holding his head high and proud.. And, she moves about, gives orders… And, the more she grows, the smaller he gets… And, it seems she needs her husband and then again it seems she does not. ” (12)

In this story, the struggle for power ends with Marya being criticized by a Party secretary for her misuse of power rather than the Party encouraging her independence. After World War 2, a genre about overambitious heroines who neglect their husbands and children develops. (13)

It seems that the Stalin era was not consistent toward women. In the earlier period, women were liberated from much traditional oppression in order to fill the needs to economic development. However, especially later, after World War 2, the Party and state promoted the idea of limiting women to the traditional domestic sphere as necessary to socialism. The patriarchal family was now seen as a microcosm of socialist society as a whole. Stalin’s cult of personality often portrayed him as a kind of father figure. No doubt this fed the conservative trend.

This conservative trend in Soviet society continued. Delinquency was tied to a breakdown of the family. Homosexuality was criminalized. Housework, criticized by Lenin, was now extolled. Low birthrates were linked to instability in the family. Motherhood was now romanticized. And, after World War 2, this romantization was connected to the desire to replenish those who had died. Abortion was outlawed even though studies showed that banning abortion does not raise birthrates in the long term. (14)

Trotskyists often like to pinpoint the conservative turn to the early years of Stalin’s regime. One thing they point to is the strengthening of the marriage laws during the heavy industrialization period. The real story is that there was grassroots support from women to strengthen these laws. This is described in Sheila Fritzpatrick’s Everyday Stalinism. The massive industrialization allowed laborers to move from town to town. New cities and construction sites popped up overnight. This meant that husbands could easily abandon their families or avoid paying child support. There was so much mobility of the population that the state could not keep track of individuals and their obligations. Initially, the Party was resistant to strengthening the marriage laws that would make it harder to divorce because their heads were filled with bourgeois notions inherited from Western European feminism. However, the women’s organizations eventually educated the Party that stronger laws were required to address the phenomenon of Soviet deadbeat dads. This particular change in policy is really not indicative of the conservative turn.

Different people locate the conservative turn in Soviet society to different years. The Trotskyists claim that the conservative turn occurs with the death of Lenin in 1924. Some Trotskyists even claim that the revolution was totally lost at that point. The Trotskyist view is contradicted by the amazing accomplishments of the Stalin era, including the huge progress for women that mostly happened in the early and middle years of the Stalin era. Others pinpoint the conservative turn to the assassination of Sergei Kirov in December of 1934. This led to a rise in terror and the police state. Others located the conservative turn with the need to draw on nationalism and traditionalism as a tool in the fight against the Nazi invasion. Perhaps the rebuilding of society after World War 2 and the growth of consumerism in peacetime also contributed to the slide rightward. Of these views, the Trotskyist one is the least supported by the facts. There are always political and social struggles during socialist construction. The Stalin era had its conflicts. When exactly, Soviet society began to slide back toward capitalism is an open question. However, regression on women’s issues along with the promotion of traditionalism surely aided counter-revolution. Uprooting thousands of years of reactionary patriarchy is no easy task. Only the power of the people led by the most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism, will liberate women and men once and for all.

Notes

1. Lapidus, Gail Warshofsky.  “Women in Soviet Society: Equality, Development, and Social Change” in  Stalinism edited by David Hoffman. Blackwell Publishing, UK:2003. p.  220
2. ibid. p. 200
3. ibid. p. 220
4. ibid. p. 219
5. ibid. p. 217
6. ibid. p. 217
7. Strong, Anna Louise. Women in The Stalin Era http://www.northstarcompass.org/nsc9903/women.htm
8. Lapidus, Gail Warshofsky.  “Women in Soviet Society: Equality, Development, and Social Change” in  Stalinism edited by David Hoffman. Blackwell Publishing, UK:2003. p. 225
9. ibid. p. 218
10. ibid. p. 229
11.  ibid. p. 230
12.  ibid. p. 234
13.  ibid. p. 234
14. ibid. p. 229

Brief statement on the attacks on Charlie Hebdo by Islamists

Brief statement on the attacks on Charlie Hebdo by Islamistsparis-charlie-attack-013-0844b064623bdd20e55ab585c1909b015540df12-s800-c15

(llco.org)

Recently, several Islamist gunmen attacked the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The style of the Charlie Hebdo magazine is an irrevent one that attacks religion in general, but also is seen as bigoted for its targeting of Muslims and migrants. Twelve people were killed and 11 wounded. Three of the dead were police. According to reports, some of the gunmen had connections to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. One woman suspected of being involved in the planning of the first attack is thought to have fled to Islamic State territory in Syria. Yemen’s top al Qaeda leader Sheikh Nasr al-Ansi has claimed responsibility for the first attack. In what was probably a copycat incident that followed, a Jewish market was held hostage by at least one gunman who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS). This second attack killed four people. All or most of the attackers appear to have been killed. Information is still coming in. In a video, the Yemeni leader did mention various crimes of the West, but the emphasis was on defending the honor of Muhammad. The choice of target would confirm that the main motivation was defending the religion, not Western crimes against the Third World. Sheikh Nasr al-Ansi stated, “We claim responsibility for this operation as revenge for the Messenger of Allah.” (1) At the height of the attack, one of the attackers is heard yelling something to the effect of “God is great! We will avenge the Prophet!” The attack seems to mainly be in retaliation for comics that depicted Muhammad in embarrassing ways. The second incident, the one on the Jewish market, appears to an unorganized attack by a lone man, a so-called “lone wolf.” In a video he made prior to his death, he does discuss, albeit briefly, attacks on the Middle East, especially bombings against the Islamic State, as the reason for his action.

The attacks have been followed by a large “I am Charlie” campaign where many people are expressing their solidarity with the slain cartoonists. Reactionary world leaders attended a rally against terrorism that included: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The US Obama administration made statements of solidarity. The rally in France was reportedly attended by two million. It is described as the largest since the liberation of Paris in World War 2. The issue is being framed as one of free speech versus Islamist barbarism. The attacks have caused a backlash of liberal and traditionalist outrage against Muslims and migrants. The “I am Charlie” campaign is fueling some of the most reactionary tendencies in Europe.

Of course attacks on free speech should be condemned. The murder of people over depictions of religious figures is wrong. However, there should be no mistake the “I am Charlie” campaign is not really about freedom of speech. The French state has continually restricted free speech, both left and right. Recently, rallies in support of Palestine were banned. There is the famous 1983 case of pseudo-historian Robert Faurisson who was convicted in France for denying the holocaust on Iranian television.  Since the Charlie marches, France has opened 54 cases against people for supposedly expressing support for terrorism, including one comedian who merely mocked the Charlie events on facebook. (2) France has a long history of placing restrictions on all kinds of speech that upsets its social-democratic, imperialist consensus. Noam Chomsky, the famous linguist and anti-imperialist, has been highly critical of France’s record on free speech. Two years ago, Chomsky criticized Charlie Hebdo’s portrayals of Muslims as racist. Chomsky pointed out that had such portrayals been of Jews, they would not be tolerated. Chomsky said, “Freedom of speech in France is complete fakery and fraud.” (3) All should be skeptical over France’s crocodile tears. The liberal imperialists and traditionalist anti-migrant forces will use the banner of freedom of speech to silence their opponents, especially anti-imperialist opponents. Those who are making the most noise about “Charlie” and “freedom” are some of the biggest hypocrites around. All of the reactionary world leaders who marched have far more blood on their hands than the attackers.

Empire will gain, one way or another, from the attacks. The motivations of the attackers appear to be very reactionary, in-line with the barbarism of right-wing radical Islamist groups, which, ironically, have been supported by imperialism in various underhanded ways. The radical Islamist trends are very much manipulated by the intelligence agencies of the Gulf Arab states, which are themselves a part of the First World. For decades, these radical Islamist forces have received military aid from the imperialists, including France, Israel, and the United States. The West, including France, has blood on its hands for its role in bringing these forces to power in many places, but especially in Syria and Libya. These forces are proxies and semi-proxies of these First World states that inflict horrors on their Third World neighbors. There is a kind of blowback when Empire supports these kinds of forces because Islamist forces are highly-ideologically motivated despite being empowered by the Empire. The recent attack on Charlie Hebdo is blowback. The violence Empire itself inflicts on the Third World pouring over into its own borders. It is a case of, as Malcolm X said, “the chickens coming home to roost.” These attacks will surely be manipulated by Empire to serve its own ends, be it by giving the Islamists more or less leash.

Both Hezbollah and Hamas, which are genuine resistance movements, much different than al Qaeda and the Islamic State, issued statements anticipating the imperialist backlash. Hassan Nasrallah of the Lebanon’s Hezbollah made a good point when he stated that “extremists are more offensive to Islam than cartoons.” He went on to say:

“The behavior of the takfiri groups that claim to follow Islam have distorted Islam, the Koran and the Muslim nation more than Islam’s enemies … who insulted the prophet in films… or drew cartoons of the prophet…” (4)

Hamas also condemned the “justification for killing innocents.” They condemned opportunist attempts by Israel to compare the attacks on the cartoonists to their resistance against Zionist occupation. (5)

The issue is not about Islamist barbarism versus Western freedoms. Rather, it is two very reactionary  forces trying to manipulate public opinion. In the end, Third World people and migrants end up paying the price. All over the world the imperialists are committing mass murder on a daily basis, often, but not always, working hand-in-hand with radical Islamists, who are often Empire’s proxies or semi-proxies. On the same day that reactionary world leaders marched for the 12 killed in France, thousands were killed by the Islamist Boko Haram in Baga, Nigeria. Millions die from imperialist wars every year. Millions die from imperialist policies. Yet there is no marching against that.  First World lives are considered to be worth more than Third World lives. This reflects the sad state of the world. Neither Empire nor Islam is the answer. Real, true, all-powerful Leading Light Communism is the way forward.