Summing up “Black Lives Matter” and the rebellions against police terror in the USA

Summing up Ferguson USABuyjzAxCUAENMa6

(llco.org)

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed, 18-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white police officer, in Ferguson, Missouri, USA, a suburb of St. Louis. The evidence suggests that the shooting was unwarranted and, in part, racially motivated. As a result, protests occurred throughout the United States highlighting the problem of police brutality  and racism. In Ferguson itself, protests have been continuous since the shooting. A militarized police department occupied the streets there, occasionally harassing and arresting protesters in the mostly Black community. And, after the grand jury chose not to indict Darren Wilson, riots broke out. This resulted in many arrests and much damage to property. Cars and businesses were seen burning in the media. On social media, a new phrase began to find its way across peoples profile pages: “Black Lives Matter”, which then became a loose network of activists across the US seeking to end police terror of Black communities in the United States. While the phrase “Black Lives Matter” was originally coined during the acquittal of self-styled “neighborhood watchman” George Zimmerman in his trial for the murder of 17-year old Black youth Trayvon Martin, the phrase didn’t become widely used until the death of Mike Brown at the hands of Darren Wilson.

It goes without saying the the resistance to police should be supported and strengthened. It goes without saying that national oppression and police terror must be opposed by any means necessary. Those who stood up and spoke up against injustice deserve support. We salute all those who took to the streets against injustice. Leading Light has advanced the line of “resistance in the First World; revolution in the Third World.” Standing against the police terror, white supremacy, and internal colonialism certainly counts as resistance. Even so, we must be materialists about the facts on the ground.

Some First Worldists see the events of Ferguson as heralding some great, new wave of discontent that can be channeled into First World revolution. They embrace ridiculous rhetoric about the Ferguson riot being a people’s war or the beginnings of a new anarchist world. There is even a meme floating around that borrows an image of an Irish Republican woman with a gun that states “arms up, shoot back.” Even with virtually the entire “far-left” of the United States focused on Ferguson, sending activists, etc., it is significant to note that the reports of shots fired on police from the resistance in the past couple years has been few and far between. This is in a country where firearms are legal and easy to acquire. There is a big reality gap between “far-left” rhetoric of First Worldists and conditions on the ground. Ferguson is not the Third World. It is not even Northern Ireland, as the meme suggests. There also is a big reality gap between the rhetoric of the First Worldist “far left” and what they are really prepared to do. This kind of over-the-top rhetoric, guerrilla pornography, might have some limited use at the level of low science, it may work to recruit the unadvanced, but we should not mistake this kind of myth making for reality.

Police terror and mass incarceration exists, and the most directly affected have been overwhelmingly Black and Brown people. National oppression is still an issue in the United States, although the contradiction between the white nation and these internal colonies is not nearly as acute as it once was. As scientific revolutionaries, we have to understand long-term trends, not get swept up in what happens to be in front of us at a given moment. There are very real, material reasons that national liberationist politics do not resonate in the United States nearly as much as they once did. The long-term trend is toward integrating the African diaspora of the United States into a multi-national First World. National oppression will continue within the First World. Every so often, these colonial contradictions may even lead to rebellion and resistance. However, the contradictions are not so great that they will lead to revolution at present. Nor are the contradictions within the First World so great that they can sustain a people’s war. To think as much is simply delusional utopianism.

All things being equal, having people resist the system inside the United States is better than having them not resist. This is true even if the First Worldists doing the resisting are delusional about the revolutionary possibilities within the heart of empire. For those who are not particularly advanced, this kind of resistance can be a healthy way to learn. It can also be a learning moment for others about what is possible at present. Resistance is a good thing. Even so, the most advanced, should not lose sight of the real task. The Global People’s War of the Leading Light will not emerge from within the First World. Our people are the real proletariat, the masses of the Third World. Our duty is to the global poor. Those who are advanced enough to be channeled into real revolutionary work should not get distracted from the main task, even as we offer our material support for such resistance within the United States. We must concentrate our forces against the weakest links of the imperial system. This means our battle is principally in the Third World.

Our future is our own. Long live the Great Strategic Plan! Follow the Leading Light! Be the Leading Light! Long live the Leading Light! Our sun is rising. Our day has come.

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

(llco.org)

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)

Interview: Origins

OriginsQuestions

(llco.org)

Recently, we received questions about the origin of Leading Light Communist Organization (LLCO). Usually, we have been secretive about our origins, but we decided to open up a bit on these questions. So, I gave an interview. What is reveled here is a very abbreviated version of our history in North America. This history is not complete out of respect for certain individuals. We would love to write a more inclusive history. This is the history of our North American movement as I remember it:

1. Some people connect Leading Light in North America to the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM). MIM was a shadowy and secretive organization that is still a mystery to many. When did you first encounter the MIM?

It was probably the early 1990s, long before my experiences in Latin America or my It’s Right To Rebel (IRTR) experience. Although I do not consider myself a Maoist now, in the early 1990s I was consolidating my identity as a Maoist. I first picked up MIM’s paper, MIM Notes, at a local info shop. I began reading both Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) and MIM literature. What I read interested me. So I wrote to MIM. They began sending me free bundles of MIM Notes. I would place them around town. Eventually, MIM requested I prove that I was actually distributing the papers. I wasn’t sure what they meant, perhaps I was suppose to take pictures of where I was placing the papers. I did not own a camera. I protested. They were not very friendly. That was that. The paper bundles stopped coming. This was probably my first rocky experience with MIM, something that would be repeated over the years. I continued to read all kinds of revolutionary literature over the years, including MIM’s. I never identified as a MIM cadre or as upholding MIM Thought.

2. You have a lot of experience with MIM, more than most. You described your experience as “rocky.” What are some of your criticisms of MIM?

Most people who have been around know my view on MIM. I have numerous criticisms, which I don’t have time to get into all of them. These criticisms evolved over a long period of time. Here are a few.

First Worldism. MIM’s tailing of nationalism, identity politics, their residual First Worldism and First Worldist practice, are the biggest problems.

MIM’s security cult. MIM used to mock the Revolutionary Communist Party’s (RCP USA) personality cult around Bob Avakian, but MIM had its own “security cult.” Security was used by MIM to stifle discussion the same way that RCP did with its personality cult. MIM created a sense that it was always under attack. If a group is under attack, then it is not the time to nitpick or question the leadership. Well, MIM was always under attack. Dealing with MIM always felt like walking on eggshells. This internal culture did not seem very positive to me.

MIM’s dogma. MIM’s history work is a good example. MIM even praises RCP’s hackish book Mao Makes Five. MIM and RCP shared the same method of the Stalinists regarding history. The method is not to look at history objectively and then create a narrative. Rather, their method is to create a historical narrative to defend nearly everything Stalin and Mao ever did by cherry-picking data. It was actually my work investigating the Lin Biao affair (we were the first to rehabilitate him, in the IRTR period) that led to my disgust at MIM’s shoddy work. I also saw that MIM’s defense of dialectics was nothing but dogma. Their political economy was based dogmatically and almost solely on  the labor theory of value and the distinction between productive and unproductive labor. When MIM did really get creative, like with their gender work, aspects of their creative developments were very wrong in various obvious and off-putting ways.

MIM’s ground game and their rejection of party building. MIM hated RCP so much that they went on and on about how party building was “cult building” when there was no real social base for a strong party. This had all kinds of weird implications. Like MIM seemed to put little effort into recruiting. MIM used to say the principal task was agitation, not party building. I later criticized the traditional MIM line during the early Leading Light days. I would write that “you can agitate more with 100 people than 10 people.”  I would later claim that even if one thought the principal task was agitation, organization building will lead to the ability to produce more agitation. Plus, people drop out if you are not constantly recruiting. MIM’s anti-party building and anti-recruiting orientation seemed to inevitably lead to it being just Henry Park (MIM3, MC3) by himself and a couple mostly independent projects like the Prison Ministry. Plus, there is another issue. MIM was so eager to strike a blow against RCP, and the cult critique was an easy target, that they failed to see what RCP was doing right. RCP is very good at creating organization in a way MIM never was. If there isn’t a social base in the First World, why not build a cult, a gang? If there is no social base, then you need a glue to hold together anything beyond a dozen intellectuals or so. You need to mitigate the reactionary social forces through heavy discipline and loyalty. I pushed the line: “why not build a cult? a business? a gang? a mafia? anything effective to aid the Global People’s War?” The MIM and post-MIM folk were still too stuck in intellectualism and First Worldist conceptions of activism to support the implications of such a bold idea. From my perspective, it seemed like they were more into polemical blogging, a little agitation, and very small forays into traditional First Worldist activism. I wanted to develop something more real. This is why I don’t really care when the MIM or post-MIM people attack Leading Light as “cultism” or “gangsterism.” The implications of what I was saying was too much for many to handle even if they agreed me. It takes a certain kind of daring to follow through on what I was implying. I am not sure, but I think some agreed with me but could not hack it.

Also, there seemed to be a huge lack of “common sense” with MIM. They weren’t good at relating to people, lacked charisma. And they did not understand that presentation matters, image matters. They did not understand the importance of leadership in a concrete way, one of the fundamental lessons of Marxist thought,

There is so much to say here. It would take me awhile to develop something like a paper on this stuff. I am also mixing together MIM itself with the post-MIM  folk a bit on some of this. In any case, these are the main things that come to mind at the moment. I don’t really care to publish some kind of big formal critique of MIM. Why? I don’t care. Not really trying to recruit out of their circles. I don’t think they attract the kind of people we need as recruits, soldiers. Someone mocked me as “general PF” elsewhere. Exactly. There is a lot of truth there. Plus, I am not out to wreck whatever the MIM Thought school has going on at this point. I don’t see a polemical back and forth as useful because we are not looking to recruit them. Plus, those who need to know already know the differences. Honestly, those remnants of MIM need to abandon their dogma and individualism. They need to drop their ego to dedicate themselves to real revolution. They need to follow the Leading Light, pure and simple.

3. You mentioned another group called “It’s Right to Rebel” (IRTR)? Again, this is a history that few people know. It is important to hear the truth about these movements since they did play a role in the past. 

IRTR was a think thank, mostly in North America, that was loosely tied to MIM, although there was no organizational link or centralism. I was its founder and chairman, Serve The People its vice-chairman and co-founder. Myself and Serve The People met in a discussion. I proposed we found a new Maoist think tank to hash out ideological issues. I can’t speak for the other original leaders, but there was myself, MIM folk, and someone who worked with the Indian Maoists in the original group. Interestingly, the person from India is the one who made the monetary contribution resulting in many of the Beijing Review PDFs floating around the internet. Kind of funny, resources moving from the Third World to the First World in that case. In any case, over time, the leadership became mostly myself, who came from a different trend, but had always read both RIM and MIM stuff, and people who were more exclusively partisans of MIM. The Indian comrade was split off by a police plot, or what we thought was one at the time. Over time, IRTR would come into various strange conflicts with the MIM’s chair because of various things, sometimes they were based on political line, or security, or just reflected MIM’s “degeneration,” increased paranoia. I was at one point accused of being part of some kind of assassination plot. The level of paranoia just got out of hand. I began pushing for distance from MIM. Some agreed, some didn’t. Eventually IRTR split, but most of the people formed a secret committee, which was really just the IRTR leadership minus the two biggest MIM partisans. A bunch of new projects were set up and coordinated by this committee. These new projects includes what was at that time the web journal Monkey Smashes Heaven, Proletarian Productions/Shubel Morgan videos, bringing together some offline efforts, etc. I believe this was the first time the term “Maoist-Third Worldist” was used to refer to the new line we were creating. In terms of articles, it was 90% my work. However, the old IRTR posts were a collective project, myself and Serve the People were the two biggest contributors. I could mention many other comrades who participated a lot in the forums and leadership, but I will let them come forward on their own if they want to. Also, Shubel Morgan did outstanding video work. At this point there was a leadership committee that led several projects. Nick Brown was an independent personality who was a one-man show called Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Information Network (RAIIN). At that point, RAIIN met us offline in Denver, which is my home town. Certain conditions had to be hashed out before we would work with Nick, who was at that point working with someone we believed to be a police agent who was wrecking efforts to support the Indian Maoists. After Nick agreed to sever his relation with this suspicious individual, Nick was brought into our circles as a leader of the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement – Denver. The secret committee was still the leadership of the movement as a whole. Then people from my Denver circle and people elsewhere officially formed the first group calling itself “Leading Light Communist Organization” (LLCO). Some in the group wanted to call it “Maoist-Third Worldist Organization,” which I very much opposed.  I had also opposed the original term, “Maoism-Third Worldism,” but went along with the majority of the leadership on it since we did not have an alternative at the time. The term “Leading Light Communism” would later be coined by myself, but actually went back to a phrase used by Serve The People who had referred to the great past communist leaders as “Leading Lights.” Serve The People was probably the first in our circles to use the term “Leading Lights,” but the term actually goes back at least to old Soviet literature that referred to Lenin in such terms.  I was named chairman of the first LLCO. Think of this as LLCO version 1.0. RAIM was to be its front group, but Nick wasn’t operating under discipline. We were really nice about it though. Gave him a month or so to decide to leave or make a self-criticism and stay, we said we would allow him to retain the name and webpage. It was the most gentle, friendly split in history, considering what we received in return. LLCO 1.0 would retain other RAIM chapters at that point, but eventually RAIM would be phased out and replaced by other fronts. Almost all the original MIM folk and newer leaders were kicked out or left LLCO 1 over the next year or so. Eventually, LLCO bent more and more to my ideas and “the Great Strategic Plan.” Some people left. Some stayed. Many more joined up. This is really the period of LLCO 2.0, which is really more of a second version of what I had going on in the late-1990s as part of a fully clandestine organization in the southwestern United States and north Mexico that was smashed by the state. The way I see it, which is not the only way, is that Leading Light Communism is more the culmination of my mid-1990s to 2000s work than a growth out of MIM Thought. Although it is undeniable that the dialogue with MIM Thought in the IRTR period very much sharpened and refined Leading Light Communism. Internally, the shift from LLCO 1.0 to LLCO 2.0 was referred to as “the New Turn,” which meant a reevaluation and development of the political line, reevaluation of the tone and style, and reevaluation of tactics and strategy. I could go on and on. For example, there was one split from a Denver IRTR spinoff called RedSol that went focoist and is doing 13 years in prison. The MIM people weren’t even aware of the RedSol incident until much later, but that was a split from the remnants of a politicized “mafia” or “gang,” a tendency within IRTR.

The original IRTR had 2 or 3 main tendencies in the very early days depending on how you look at it. There were the remnants of the leadership of a politicized “gang” that was fully clandestine as a political organization, but not on the streets of Albuquerque, El Paso and Juarez, Santa Fe, and to a lesser and briefer period, Denver. It was not a literal “street gang.” The literal “street gangs” were more like the crews at the lower levels. Certain rackets within certain territory were controlled and defended, until the state stepped in. The state smashed this group, the top leadership got away. On a side note, one of the crew leaders ended up getting a life sentence, but that was for related activities after the organization was smashed. The origin of this organization goes back very loosely to a dissident Senderista group in Mexico, and an attempt to aid them that failed. Then there was a tendency of MIM partisans who were mostly intellectuals, less action oriented. There was a more orthodox Maoist who, if I recall, worked with the main Indian Naxal group but accepted the Third Worldist political economy. She was split off, drifted away. We concluded she was split off by a police plot involving another Indian who was sabotaging solidarity work and slandering the CP India (Maoist). As time went on, the trends never really meshed exactly together. My sense is that although I was the official chair and pushed things forward, the MIM folk always were dragging their heals. To me, they did not have enough vision or boldness. On the whole, they did not put in much work. They also had not built any infrastructure or recruited anyone offline yet nonetheless they were very represented in the leadership. Ever ask yourselves why Denver has so many of us? Well, we built infrastructure, recruited on the streets. It is my home town. Eventually the official leadership committee of LLCO 1.0 simply became a nominal leadership group since the organization was so lopsidedly based in Denver. More and more the official leadership committee became merely a council of advisers. The real leadership was shifted onto the Denver organization, which was doing most of the heavy lifting. My sense is that the old leadership was not satisfied in this new role and drifted away for the most part. As the MIM folk left, nothing was really effected. On the whole, they did not put in a lot of work. A couple of them wrote a few things here and there. But, I produced 90 percent of the articles, in addition to organizing the ground game with the help of the rest of the Denver leadership. There were exceptions, of course, like Shubel Morgan who was the Minister of Art. A few new outstanding Leading Light leaders emerged, let’s call them M, K, and E. If any of these or other people want to be credited in this history, I will add their contributions in. Newer people entered who had little previous connection with either trend. Some went in a MIM Thought direction over time. Others gravitated more toward Leading Light Communism. LLCO 1.0 was a transitional form that still had both tendencies. As time went on, LLCO moved more and more in my direction toward Leading Light Communism. LLCO 2 was born. There is a long history here. This is just a broad outline. And remember, this is just the story of North America, not our international movement.

4. That is a lot of information. There is a lot of ground to cover. Can you give us a time line?

I am terrible with dates, but I consulted with another one of the top leaders from that period. The “gang” period was probably from 1997 to 2002, although there was a short revival of this work in the IRTR period, probably around 2007, but it was in no way sanctioned by IRTR. An effort was made to reconnect with Latin American comrades by traveling to Mexico. It was local IRTR participants who sought to go another direction. Later, there was the focoist deviation that resulted in 13 years of prison for one comrade. IRTR was probably from 2005 to 2008. The secret committee, post-IRTR period was probably from 2008 to 2010. Anticipating the vote to dissolve IRTR, our journal, Monkey Smashes Heaven’s webpage was already up a week before IRTR officially dissolved. Comrade Shubel Morgan set up his web page shortly after IRTR dissolved. We encountered Nick, who was going by “RAIIN,” sometime in this period. RAIM-D was set up somewhere around this period, later changing its name to “RAIM.” LLCO 1.0 was founded in 2010, basically taking the role of the secret committee of the remaining IRTR comrades that led the movement as a whole plus some new Denver comrades and a few others. It was agreed that all of the organizations and projects fell under LLCO 1.0′s authority at that point. RAIM-D eventually left and was phased out, but LLCO 1.0 retained RAIM as a whole, which was mostly Seattle and Toronto chapters, maybe one other effort. LLCO 1.0 phased out all of RAIM to avoid confusion with RAIM-D, but also because we thought other fronts would serve us better. In addition, Nick, who had be kicked out, was creating confusion, hurting our reputation. Somewhere in the next year or two, “the New Turn” occurred and there was a leadership shift. LLCO 2.0 emerged. This was maybe between 2011 and 2012.

At this point, we are kind of in a LLCO 3.0 period where most of our work is directed internationally. Eventually, the story of our international work will be told, as will the story of the mid-1990s to early 2000s period.

5.  What do you think of the IRTR experience?

I now consider the bending of IRTR to MIM’s ideas and whims to have been a big mistake. In the beginning, I was as guilty as the MIM partisans as far as this was concerned. However, I always had serious doubts about the direction. Over time, I was the first of the leadership group to begin pushing for distance from MIM. I consider the experience as a whole valuable in some ways, but the politics of that period were very dogmatic and destructive. At the time, I had a lot to learn though. I had the basic idea of what would become Leading Light Communism as early as the mid-1990s, but this idea was very rough. The IRTR experience and encounter with MIM folk really caused me to sharpen up and deepen my thinking. But I began seeing the very deep flaws in their thinking. And eventually I was able to articulate those flaws from the standpoint of a more advanced science, the emerging Leading Light Communism. Leading Light Communism can perhaps be seen as the result of a kind of Socratic dialogue between what I was doing in the mid-1990s to early 2000s and MIM Thought, but with the former being the main thing.

6. Lots of this is secret or hidden history because these are clandestine movements. The real revolutionary movement is clandestine. What do you think of flying the red flag openly?

If your conception of activism is First World bound, I don’t even see why you need an openly communist party. You might need a cult to organize people effectively, but why a *communist* cult? Just build any old cult and direct people into anti-war, anti-militarism, and other progressive activism. It seems like if your conception of activism remains in the First World, flying a communist flag will only hurt your efforts to be effective at aiding Third World struggles in an objective way. I just don’t see the point of the red flag where there is no social base if your conception of activism is traditional stuff. All it will do is undermine your effectiveness. This is why LLCO hid the red flag when we set up various fronts in the First World. MIM expressed this truth sometimes, but they just couldn’t follow through because, in the end, it seemed like they were intellectuals who had invested too much in their identity as Maoists. LLCO is openly communist, but that is because we are trying to build stuff in the Third World.

7. What do you think of “better fewer, but better,” quality over quantity?

Sure, quality over quantity. We are in agreement there. But what is quality? If you are trying to create a circle of intellectuals to push back against bourgeois ideology, then you will recruit intellectuals, probably from the First World mostly. Quality will mean academic and cultural intelligence, ability to write, uphold the line, etc. If you are into selling papers on college campuses, doing traditional FWist activism, protests, then willingness to do day-in-day-out stuff matters more. Charisma and people skills matter more in the latter than the former, for example. If you have LLCO’s “deep politics,” then other qualities matter: discipline, loyalty, never snitching, willingness to fight and sacrifice. Having a coward’s heart doesn’t really matter if all you do is sling papers or blog. We developed different versions of Leading Light Communism, we call it “high science” and “low science.” There are lots of people who have the lion’s heart, sense of duty, and daringness to think big, but they might not be intellectuals, they don’t care a rat’s ass about the labor theory of value but are willing to die to bring about a better world. Not everyone in Mao’s People’s Liberation Army could read Marx. That doesn’t mean they can’t be organized around a lower version of the science. Think of Plato’s “noble lie” here. Sendero used to say “we carry our lives on our finger tips.” This means, they are willing to sacrifice their lives, money, everything at anytime when called to do so. Well, that is more the kind of quality we are looking for. We’re the real thing.

8. What do you think about inter-imperialist rivalry?

Vladimir Lenin, the great Soviet leader, was correct in his day, inter-imperialist contradictions were growing and this led to a cycle of world wars. Karl Kautsky was wrong then. However, today, the overall trend has been toward globalization and a lessening of these rivalries, even with the very tiny blips on the radar between Russia and the West. There was a time when these contradictions were so great that the world lived on the brink of nuclear annihilation, proxy wars were fought all over the Third World. This was in my lifetime. These small, recent flareups between Russia and the West do not signal some big return to the past, the overall trend has clearly been toward a kind of global system of imperialism. It is kind of like how Lin Biao wrote of how imperialism and social-imperialism still contended, but overall had reached reconciliation in their joint exploitation of the global countryside as a whole. Another person had mentioned Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s work in this discussion. What is good in Hardt and Negri is not unique to them. There are some things they get right, even if their work is First Worldist and also marred in silly, post-modernist jargon. For example, their comments about the expansion and globalization of the non-profit industrial complex as an expanding means of control at the grassroots level, taking some of the role of the old welfare state, is worth mentioning. What is wrong about the Hardt-Negri line is that they see an evening out between the First World and Third World. They are right about globalization, but wrong on this. The Bourgeois World and Proletarian World are still preserved as transnational spheres.

This is one of the reasons LLCO is more internationalist, or, although i hate this term, “pan-Third Worldist.” Others with similar views, MIM Thought (and this includes what is called “Maoism-Third Worldism” now), are more into national liberation, tailing nationalism, pan-nationalism, identity politics, third positionism. This is an important distinction that is not always seen by those looking that these lines. This is one of the big differences between MIM Thought and Leading Light Communism, although there are many others. It also explains our different strategic orientation. MIM Thought, Pantherism 2.0, left Third Positionism still focus on the oppressed nations of the First World, whereas LLCO is about creating organizations in the Third World, initiating Global People’s War. LLCO does not write off resistance in the First World entirely, but the main emphasis has to be on Global People’s War. When First Worldist practice (even with Third Worldist pretenses) begins diverting resources from the main struggle, then it becomes a big problem. Also, globalization is why we see more movements that are not merely nationalist, but trans-nationalist: Islamism (when it does confront imperialism), Bolivarianism, Pan-Africanism. We see less and less localism in anti-imperialist movements because just as imperialism is globalizing, so is resistance to it, albeit at a slower pace. Leading Light is ahead of the curve, which is what a vanguard does.

9. You’ve had an amazing life as a revolutionary. Few really dedicate themselves as you have. You have seen so much. What do you consider the high points of the work over the years?

I consider the high points of the political work to be the mid-1990s to early 2000s period and what is going on right now. I think that we are better positioned than we have been in a long time. Things are golden. The future is bright. The sun is rising. Our day is coming.

10. Do you have anything more to add?

There is so much to say. Really this is just a small portion of a long history. Huge parts were left out, especially the story of our international movement. I have no bitterness toward those who have fallen away. They were all good people for the most part. I just hope they are still fighting the good fight. Do Nothingism is not an option given the horrors of this world. Surrender is never an option. Better to die on one’s feet than live on one’s knees. My door is always open to those who willing to really make revolution, those who are really willing to sacrifice, those who “carry their lives on their finger tips.”

Questions about Maoism and Leading Light Communism

Questions about Maoism and Leading Light CommunismLL_x_1

(llco.org)

We recently received some questions about the relationship of Leading Light Communism to Maoism.

1. LLCO’s concept of the Third World is the same of chairman Mao?

No. The Leading Light’s “Global Class Analysis” is totally different from Mao’s “Theory of Three Worlds.” Let’s look at the differences.

Mao Zedong upheld a “Theory of Three Worlds” in the 1970s. Mao reportedly said the “First World” was made up of the United States and the Soviet Union. The “Second World” was made up of the smaller imperialists like European countries, Japan, Australia, etc. The “Third World” was made up of the poorer countries. Mao’s conception was one based on the nationalist, geopolitical needs of China, not on proletarian science. Mao’s theory was invented after the fact to justify China’s increasingly narrow-nationalist foreign policy in the 1970s. In any case, according to the Maoist approach, the main thing that determined one world from another was military power, geopolitical aggressiveness, etc. So, even though European imperialist countries had a higher standard of living than the Soviet Union, the smaller, militarily weaker, European imperialists were part of Mao’s “Second World.” By contrast, Leading Light looks at the world from the standpoint of what Mao called “the first question of revolution”: “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?” We look at the world, not from the standpoint of nationalism and foreign policy, but from the standpoint of the question of class, from the standpoint of the proletariat. Our Global Class Analysis looks at the world from the standpoint of aligning social forces in order to make revolution to eliminate all exploitation and oppression, to reach true freedom, Leading Light Communism. Thus we divide human society into “worlds” based on standard of living. Those zones, countries, geographic areas whose populations have the poorest standard of living are the most Third World. Those zones, countries, geographic areas whose populations have the wealthiest standard of living are the most First World. We can see society as divided into a continuum, one pole represents the higher standard of living, the First World. The Third World, the lower standard of living, is another pole. The “Second World” pole between the two. Although we do not often talk about the “Second World,” it can be seen as those countries concentrated in the middle in terms of standard of living.

[First World] -S-U——————–P-R- [“Second World”] —————-M———–B- [Third World]

On this model, a country like Switzerland, “S,” with a higher standard of living, falls closer to the extreme end of the First World than the United States, “U.” A country like Portugal, “P,” falls on the First World side, but closer to the middle. Russia, “R,” also, falls somewhere closer to the middle. Similarly Bangladesh, “B,” has a poorer population than Mexico, “M.” On this model, wealthy Gulf countries fall on the First World side also. This model can also be applied within individual countries. For example, there are First World neighborhoods and areas in Third World countries that have a much higher standard of living. Similarly, there are some pockets of the First World within Third World countries.

We can also use this model to predict the rise of fascism. Traditionalist fascism is much more likely to take hold in First World countries with a lower standard of living, for example Greece or Russia. Wealthier First World countries tend to adopt a more liberal outlook. The closer a country is to the Third World pole, the greater the social base, the potential, for revolution. Similarly, the higher the standard of living that exists, the more First World a country is, the smaller the proletarian class, the bigger the bourgeoisie. Thus we say there is no significant proletariat in the First World. We must write off the First World populations because they have a bigger interest in preserving and advancing their position in the system than in destroying the system itself. First World peoples have far, far more to lose than their chains. They have their whole consumerist, comfortable, bourgeois standard of living to lose. The true proletariat has nothing to lose but its chains. Again and again, we see the bourgeois populations of the First World oppose revolution and anti-imperialist struggles. Revolution proceeds from the Third World pole to the “Second World” pole to the First World pole.

2. Why we must to defeat the First World?

Long ago, Maoists in China understood that class had changed since Karl Marx’s day. For example, Maoists in China spoke of the “new bourgeoisie” that arose within the Communist Party itself. Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping were part of this new bourgeoisie, yet did they personally own factories as the traditional bourgeoisie of the England of Marx’s day? Could Liu Shaoqi personally give away China’s productive power to his friends or children? No. The new bourgeoisie in the Soviet Union and China was not the traditionalist bourgeoisie of Marx. The new bourgeoisie was a bureaucratic, technocratic class that collectively owned China’s wealth. This new bourgeoisie was led by reactionary ideology. And the new bourgeoisie used their position to further take power from the masses and concentrate it in their own hands. The point here is that Maoists long ago recognized that new class formations had arisen that Marx had not fully anticipated. The working bourgeoisie of the First World may work, but that does not mean they are exploited. They have such a high standard of living, they benefit so much from Empire, that they have no interest in overthrowing it. Friedrich Engels wrote long ago of how the entire population of England was becoming bourgeois on the back of the exploitation of India.  Vladimir Lenin long ago wrote of the “labor aristocracy.” Lin Biao too spoke of a “global countryside” that opposed a “global city.” All of these writers were pointing to the fact that class was changing. Just as the Maoists had identified a new bourgeoisie in their midst, these authors were identifying another new bourgeoisie arising in the imperial and wealthy countries, in what would become the First World. Leading Light builds on these ideas and advances them to a whole new scientific level.

Maoists during the Cultural Revolution emphasized the importance of  Lenin’s observation that “Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat.” Long ago, Maoists in China understood that the defeat of the bourgeoisie is key to advancing to communism. They emphasized the necessity of the “all-round Dictatorship of the Proletariat over the bourgeoisie.” Maoists in China were not just talking about Marx’s traditional bourgeoisie, but also the new bourgeoisie that arises inside the Communist Party itself. Similarly, we too much extend our recognition of class struggle to all-round Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Real Marxism has always demanded defeat of the bourgeoisie. And today, this means defeat of this new bourgeoisie, the Bourgeois World, the First World itself. Just as this was a dividing line between real Marxism and revisionism in the past, it is a dividing line between real Marxism and revisionism today. We must defeat the bourgeoisie, not compromise with it. Thus we must reject the revisionism poison of Karl Kautsky, Nikita Khrushchev, Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, and the First Worldists. Just as the Maoists in China raised the understanding of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat to a whole new level, so too does Leading Light Communism advance this aspect of revolutionary science.

3. You said that you have some comrades in the First World, what is the function of the comrades in the First World?

Leading Light Communism aims at total victory through Global People’s War that is truly global. All Leading Lights, no matter what their origin or location, are our brothers and sisters. There is a long tradition of exceptional individuals from the bourgeoisie who break from their class background. The most famous example is Freidrich Engels himself, who not only provided resources so that Marx could survive, but  Engels was a revolutionary scientist in his own right. Leading Light is a movement for all real revolutionaries.

Leading Light raises the slogan “Revolution in the Third World, Resistance in the First World.” First World comrades have a duty to do everything they can to support the Global People’s War of the Leading Light, especially in the Third World. They also have a duty to create resistance in the First World. They have a duty to gain resources. They have a duty to undermine the Empire. They have a duty to subvert and weaken the First World. First World comrades have the same duty to serve the people, to live and die for the people, as Third World comrades. We do not abandon revolution in the First World, we just recognize that it is not possible in the foreseeable future. To conquer the First World, we must first liberate the Third World. Thus, as Lin Biao said, the world revolution proceeds from the global countryside to the global city.

4. The indigenous, black, and other ethnic minorities in the First World are enemy of Third World?

It is important to realize that not all minorities/nationalities are the same. For example, Asians within the United States have higher incomes than whites. And, the Asian community is not homogeneous. There are Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Laotians, Hmong, Filipinos, Malaysians, Indonesians, Koreans, and many other Asian populations in the United States. There are great differences that exist. For example, Japanese will be richer than Laotians. Similarly, there is a great many differences between the many indigenous peoples. There are also differences between black communities. Some black communities are much better off than others. Similarly, this is true of Chicanos, Mexicans, and other Latinos. Cubans are better off than Salvadorans in the United States. There a great many differences between different populations. And there is variety within the populations. Even though there is great variation, on the whole, most of these populations are part of the First World. Even though their standard of living is often less than the white population in the United States, it is still First World. On the whole, these are still First World populations. Even so, there are some Third World pockets within First World countries. Some indigenous populations in the United States, and some aboriginal populations in Australia, can be considered Third World. There are small pockets of very poor white people also. However, all these populations tend to be too small, fragmented, isolated, and dynamic to serve as reliable social bases for revolution. There might be some exceptions, but this is the general rule. Leading Light’s line is not that there is no proletariat in the First World countries. Rather, we say, there is no significant proletariat in the First World countries.

This does not mean that there aren’t great injustices that occur within these and other populations inside First World countries. It does not mean that we should not be outraged at injustice. However, we are not liberals. We are revolutionaries. Our job is to make revolution. And, whether we like it or not, the pockets of genuinely exploited, poor, Third World communities, in the First World do not add up to a significant social base capable of making revolution.

5. Do you see Lin Biao as greater than Mao Zedong?

Rather than look at the individuals, we should look at the political lines. Politics in command, not individuality. In some cases, Lin Biao’s line was better than Mao Zedong’s. Lin Biao challenged Mao’s turn to the right, including his alignment with Western imperialism in the 1970s. In the 1960s, Mao criticized Nitka Khrushchev for his line of “peaceful coexistence” with the imperialists. By the 1970s, Mao himself had moved into alignment with the Western imperialists. Just as the Soviets, Mao was putting national interest above the interest of the international proletariat. This was part of the conservative turn in the 1970s in China. Mao favored a China-centered geopolitics in the 1970s. Lin Biao favored an emphasis on aiding people’s wars and anti-imperialist struggles. Lin Biao favored people’s war; Mao favored national interest. Furthermore, Lin Biao correctly emphasized that global revolution would proceed from the “global countryside” to the “global city.” Lin Biao also wanted to continue to radicalize the Cultural Revolution after 1969, Mao moved to bring back many of the rightists and revisionists that had fallen. Lin Biao pushed left after 1969; Mao pushed right. On these points, Lin Biao was better than Mao. However, overall, Mao was a more important figure than Lin Biao. It was Mao, not Lin Biao, who guided the Chinese revolution. It was Mao who is the most important ideological author of the Chinese revolution and the Maoist wave of revolutions. Lin Biao is a Leading Light, but Lenin and Mao are the two brightest Leading Lights of twentieth century revolution. Think about it: Mao was the leader of a proletarian revolution that encompassed a quarter of humanity. His star shines very, very bright.

Our first duty is to revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism, not the legacies of individual leaders. All of these Leading Lights of the past – Marx, Lenin, Mao Zedong, Lin Biao, etc. – were great heroes, leaders, servants of the people. They embodied some of the best in humanity. They embodied our best selves, our best aspirations. However, history did not stop when Mao died. Science continues to develop. Today, we have developed the science of revolution to a whole new stage in order to initiate the next great wave of revolution. Just as Lenin advanced Marx,  Mao advanced Lenin, we advance them all. Leading Light Communism is the future.

6. You claim Leading Light Communism is the highest stage of revolutionary science. What is the difference between Leading Light Communism and the classical Marxism-Leninism-Maoism?

Leading Light Communism is an all-round advance of revolutionary science. Leading Light Communism has advanced every area of revolutionary science. It is not possible to list all the advances of Leading Light Communism here. Instead, we will focus on some key advances:

Leading Light Communism integrates the most advanced discoveries of today to create a genuinely scientific epistemology, an epistemology that integrates the best aspects of Marxist materialism with contemporary advances in logic, linguistics, cognitive science and neurology, and statistical analysis. Great advances are happening in all these areas of knowledge, if Marxism does not adapt, then it might as well be frozen metaphysics. Science did not freeze when Mao died in 1976. The capitalists are constantly advancing the science of oppression, if we do not counter their advances, we will always lose. We must wage a tit-for-tat struggle against the capitalists by advancing the science of revolution, Leading Light Communism. This idea is at the heart of advancing science to a whole new stage.

Leading Light advances political economy to a whole new stage. Leading Light a new theory of Global Class Analysis that reveals how class works on the global level today. Global Class Analysis tells us that the social base for revolution exists almost exclusively in Third World. No significant proletariat exists in the First World. Leading Light shows how the the modern bourgeoisie and proletariat has changed. Not only are the new forms of the bourgeoisie that have arisen in the First Word, but Leading Light also emphasizes the growing importance of shifting demographics in the Third World.

Leading Light advances our understanding of gender. Leading Light shows how just as Empire has changed class dynamics, it also changes gender dynamics. First World people as a whole are granted more life options at the expense of Third World people. This is true for men and women. First World women have won more and more access to the traditional privileges of First World men. This is part of the growth of liberalism and social democracy in the First World. However, we have to ask, who pays for this? Third World women often experience the worst forms of patriarchal oppression. Patriarchy in the Third World is used as a way to enforce horrible forms of gender apartheid. Patriarchy, especially in semi-feudal forms, is used to exploit and control women in the Third World. So, we have a situation where First World women are gaining more and more First World privilege, more and more life options, on the backs of continued imperialist and semi-feudal, patriarchal oppression of Third World men and women. This creates a situation where First World women do not have a common gender interest with Third World women. First World women may want gender equality with First World men, but the lifestyles of both First World men and women requires the continued existence of patriarchal, semi-feudal barbarism imposed on Third World women. Thus Third World men and women have far more common interest, both class and gender, than either has with First World men and women.

Leading Light has further advanced revolutionary military science. Revolution in the contemporary world is a matter of developing the Global People’s War of the Leading Light, a people’s war on a global scale by the Proletarian World against the Bourgeois World. This is a total war, a war against the First World as a whole, against First World civilization itself. It demands new forms of people’s war, advanced theory and practice. The shifting demographics, the rise of the slum, has deep implications for waging people’s war. The rise of the slum dwelling classes in the Third World means that future revolutions cannot be thought of simply in terms of countryside and city, but must be thought of also in terms of the growing role of slums. Information technology, psychological warfare, the rise of airpower, satellites, robotics, etc. will play greater roles in future conflicts. New technologies and approaches must be integrated into contemporary strategies in order to win. The revolutionary law of people power is still fundamental, but people power, to win, must be focused in ever more concentrated, advanced ways to win. “Without theory, practice is blind.”

Leading Light further advances our understanding of the history of revolution, counter-revolution, and socialist construction. Leading Light advances the understanding of the rise of revisionism and capitalist restoration to a whole new level. Leading Light shows how the Theory of the Productive Forces, the police paradigm, and certain conceptions of human good are interlinked. Although both the Soviet Union and Maoist China, in the revolutionary phases, were shining examples, they were flawed in important ways. Leading Light offers the most advanced account of the shortcomings of previous waves of revolution. This gives us important knowledge about how to do better next time.

Leading Light also advances the Marxist understanding of ecology. Leading Light shows how past Marxism failed to understand the importance of nature. For example, nature plays an important role in political economy. One way to further underscore the parasitism of the First World as a whole is to look at consumption patterns. The First World is simply not sustainable. First World consumption levels, the First World lifestyle, is killing the planet, our common home. First World consumption is a threat to the global ecosystem itself and a threat to the continued existence of all life, including the proletariat. Thus it is an important part of any future revolution to put care and defense of nature at the forefront. The New Power of the Proletariat must take a fundamentally different approach to nature than the reactionaries who threaten us all with extinction. Past socialism failed in significant ways in this regard, Leading Light says that the most advanced ecological science is an important, key part of the most advanced proletarian science today, Leading Light Communism.

Leading Light offers a new, advanced scientific vision of revolutionary construction. We are trying to eliminate thousands years of oppressive social organization and social programming. For thousands of years, power, economy, and culture have been organized in terribly oppressive ways. Marx described his project as scientific socialism and communism, applying the best science to the task of ending all oppression. Thus past revolutions need to be viewed as scientific experiment. Just as the Bolsheviks advanced over Marx and earlier attempts to reach communism, the Maoists advanced on the Bolsheviks. Similarly, real revolutionary scientists recognize that we need to advance over Mao’s revolution. If Mao had gotten everything right, he would have won. Socialism would still exist in China today if the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist tradition alone was the answer. Since the restoration of capitalism in China, the world has changed in important ways. We must learn from the greats who came before, but we must go forward. We must always recognize we stand on the shoulders of giants, but we have a duty to the masses the arm them with the most advanced revolutionary science. Anything short of this is treason.

Leading Light Communism has made advances in numerous other areas: high and low science, aesthetics, Cultural Revolution, United Front, New Power, and on and on. Leading Light Communism is a real advance, it is not just empty rhetoric, sloganeering, cultism. The scientific advances are so numerous and deep that it is not possible to articulate them in such a short format. The Leading Light has elevated every aspect of revolutionary science to a new stage. Leading Lights are not Avakianists who offer nothing but eclecticism and empty rhetoric. Leading Lights are not Prachandists who use the cover of innovation to revise the revolutionary heart out of Marxism. Leading Light is not empty cultism, sloganistic bombast. This is a genuine scientific advance that preserves and elevates the best in Maoism – Cultural Revolution, People’s War, New Power – but takes it all to a qualitatively new level.

There is a way forward. True Marxists, true Leninists, true Maoists are not metaphysicians with frozen dogmas. True Marxists, Leninists, Maoists are revolutionary scientists. To be a real Maoist today requires going beyond Mao. This is what science demands. Being a Maoist always meant adherence to the most advanced revolutionary science, not the letter of Mao’s work. Real Maoism is science, not religion posing as science. Thus it is the duty of all real Maoists to go beyond Mao, to adopt the most advanced revolutionary science today. And this means upholding Leading Light Communism.

Understanding the Kurdish Resistance in Syria

Understanding the Kurdish resistance in Syriajohnson_1-300x200

(llco.org)

Very recently, an alliance of Kurdish forces and their allies has fought off an Islamic State offensive. Kobane, Syria was the focal point of the battle. The Islamic state is a horribly reactionary force that has been encouraged and supported by the imperialists, often through back channels. The Islamic State makes clear its genocidal intentions toward the Kurds. Not long ago, the Islamic State tried to wipe out Kurdish Yazid communities. In the face of such brutality, many people correctly rallied to defense of the Kurdish people who were facing genocidal annihilation. Many were inspired by the brave Kurdish women fighting for their freedom. Even though it is very correct to rally to the defense of the Kurdish people, it is important that we have clarity about the nature and role of the Kurdish organizations.

The Kurdish organization that was most significant in beating back the Islamic State in Syria was the People’s Protection Units (YGP), which are connected to the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which is strongest in Turkish Kurdistan. Also aiding the fight were the “Peshmerga,” the Iraqi Kurdish militias of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK is openly capitalist has a long history of collaboration with imperialism. However, the PKK has a history as a nominally communist organization, although they have now dropped that label. Today, the PKK are an openly social-democratic organization and do not pretend to be communist. Because of their leftist rhetoric and egalitarian practices, some have supposed the PKK and its satellite organizations  to be some kind of vanguard of the Syrian revolution. Because of their long history of conflict with the racist Turkish regime, some have supposed them to be reliable anti-imperialists. This is not so.

The reality is that the PKK and its satellite organizations are nationalist organizations first and foremost. Their main interest is in establishing an independent Kurdistan. As such, they ally with whatever force can help them in achieving this end. This is why at the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the PKK-YPG was in an alliance with the Assad regime, which ceded areas to them with almost no conflict. (1) This is why the PKK-YPG is today aligned with some parts of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against both the Islamic State and the Assad regime. (2) This is why today, they seek coordinate with the United States’ bombing campaign. (3) (4) This is why they ask the United States for support in their fight in Syria. (5) This is why they call on material support from Europe. (6) The United States has had secret talks with the YPG’s political wing since 2012. Former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford:

“The PYD-YPG is a Syrian group that is moving on the ground, so we had an interest in understanding their viewpoint and ideas..” (7)

According to one source:

“Kurdish sources familiar with the indirect U.S.-PYD talks told Foreign Policy that Washington is currently pushing the PYD to distance itself from the Assad regime by joining the Syrian Coalition, working with the FSA, and improving ties with the KNC and Barzani… The recent agreement between the YPG and FSA factions to fight IS together might reflect a PYD eagerness to meet preconditions for U.S. assistance.” (8)

The willingness to ally with imperialism to achieve its end is not new. The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) is the PKK’s satellite organization in Iranian Kurdistan. Because of the United States’ conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran, PJAK has sought to position itself as a US asset in the region even though they are still on the US list of terrorist organizations. The PJAK made its intent known through Western journalists:

“These words are not quite coded speech, but they are PJAK’s way of batting its eyelashes at the United States, of implying that the world’s superpower and this ornery Maoist gang might find common cause against Tehran. Most of the freedoms Turkish Kurds have been eager to spill blood over have been available in Iran for years; Iran constitutionally recognizes the Kurds’ language and minority ethnic status, and there is no taboo against speaking Kurdish in public. The PJAK Kurds want more: They want secular democracy, they say, and they want the United States to go into Iran to deliver it to them. Kurds enthusiastically boycotted the sham election that won Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran’s presidency last year, and they speak of him in doomsday terms that would fit in at the American Enterprise Institute but sound awkward in this rebel camp where everyone’s heroes are Che Guevara and Spartacus.

‘Ahmadinejad does not respect the Sunnis. He thinks they are agents of Israel and the USA,’ says PJAK spokesman Ihsan Warya, an ex-lawyer from Kermanshah. (Most Kurds are Sunni.) Warya nevertheless points out that PJAK really does wish it were an agent of the United States, and that they’re disappointed that Washington hasn’t made contact.” (9)

Although the PKK and its satellites do not have a deep history of imperial collusion yet, they are not in principle oppose to it if imperialism is perceived to serve their nationalist ends.  As the Syrian conflict develops, it looks like they are positioning themselves to try to be part of a Western-supported coalition. Thus the PKK is not in principle different from the PUK in Iraq nor is it in principle different from numerous other nominal leftist organizations that have sought support from the United States ranging from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) to Iranian Maoists to the Communist Party of Iraq. This is the problem with revisionist and nationalist organizations. Since they are not led by true science, by Leading Light Communism, even if they claim to be revolutionary, they can become instruments and dupes of empire.

Empire has a complex strategy in Syria and the region. It is playing multiple sides, hedging its bets so that its position is advanced no matter what the outcome of the Syrian conflict. Its overall goal is to weaken the region, especially the Iranian-Assad-Hezbollah axis. It has done this by fostering sectarian conflict on multiple sides. With one hand it supports the Islamic State, with the other it bombs them. We must remember the principal duty of progressive people is to oppose imperialism, not opportunistically cheer-lead any particular force on the ground. Let’s be clear, the Kurdish people have the right to defend themselves from genocide. We would like to see a Kurdish people who were truly free, but that freedom should not be bought at the expense of any other oppressed people of the region. We would like to see all the oppressed of the region thwart imperial plans by overcoming their differences with each other, by uniting. If they put truth, science, Leading Light Communism in command, the path to real freedom will open.

Notes

1.http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/07/26/157943/assad-hands-control-of-syrias.html

2.https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B0RLSYVIIAEwWwB.jpg:large

3.http://www.kurdishquestion.com/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/u-s-we-are-coordinating-with-ypg/318-u-s-we-are-coordinating-with-ypg.html

4.http://www.voanews.com/content/kobani-islamic-state-fighting-airstrikes-kurdish-fighters/2484354.html

5.http://rudaw.net/english/interview/03072014

6.http://kurdishquestion.com/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/kurds-are-major-players-in-middle-east.html

7.http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/10/07/washington_secret_back_channel_talks_with_kurdish_terrorists_turkey_syria_robert_ford_exclusive

8. ibid.

9.http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/dispatches/2006/06/iran_bombs_iraq.html?nav=fo

Understanding the Islamic State, ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq

Understanding the Islamic State, ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraqislamic_state_of_iraq

(llco.org)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

1. https://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Zawahiris-Letter-to-Zarqawi-Translation.pdf

2. http://rudaw.net/english/interview/29062014

3. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118356/izzat-ibrahim-al-douri-saddam-husseins-pal-key-stopping-isis

4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2689776/Now-Taliban-warns-ISIS-Islamist-rebels-Iraq-avoid-extremism-calls-new-council-jihadi-factions-page.html

5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9zGqwKZp58

6. http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-defense-contractors-training-syrian-rebels-to-handle-chemical-weapons/5315180

7. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123275572295011847

8. http://www.islamicnewsdaily.com/country/gulf/iraq/isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-trained-israeli-mossad-nsa-documents-reveal/

9. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10891700/Iraq-crisis-the-jihadist-behind-the-takeover-of-Mosul-and-how-America-let-him-go.html

10. http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/.premium-1.605097

Israel’s pink imperialism

Israel’s pink imperialismIsraelis take part in Jerusalem's annual

(llco.org)

In a recent letter, Israel’s Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar instructed the Population and Immigration Authority and the Jewish Agency to grant citizenship to the spouse of any Jew, regardless of the sexual orientation of the couple. “I do not see a distinction between Jews in heterosexual marriage and those who wed in same-sex marriages abroad in accordance with the law,” Sa’ar wrote in his letter to the Population and Immigration Authority. Yet Israel continues to deny rights to Palestinians. Most Palestinians are not only unable to attain Israeli citizenship, they are also not allowed to return to their land at all. Israeli policy is that the homosexual partners of Jews have more right to the occupied land of Palestinians than Palestinians themselves. Israeli policy grants more powers and rights to homosexual partners than Palestinians. Thus Israeli policy recognizes the longstanding connection between First World gender activism and imperialism. Israeli policy recognizes that appealing to First World homosexuals in Israel and abroad is a useful tool in imperial conquest. Israel’s policy is not unlike that of other Western imperialists today.

There is only so much value created by the global economy. There is only so much value that can be spread around globally. It takes more value to sustain the lifestyle of the average First World person than the average Third World person. More value is channeled to individuals in the First World so that they can maintain their happy existence of consumption and leisure. Typically, First World individuals work less, but receive more value than their Third World counterparts. In the past, the most privileged in the First World were heterosexual men. Today, First World society has opened more. Today, the West is more accommodating and accepting of the desires and ambitions of women and homosexuals in the First World. To extend the full range of First World privilege to women and homosexuals in the First World comes at a price. The social-democratic good life is only made possible through exploitation of Third World peoples. Increasing the quality of life in the First World is made possible by lowering quality of life in the Third World. First World peoples, including women and homosexuals, have a greater range of life options available to them because there is a restriction of life options in the Third World. There are winners and losers in the global economy.

The Israeli policy stands in a long line of liberal imperialism. Social-democratic reform reduces contradictions, reduces social tensions, within the imperial population. Imperialists often extend social-democratic reform as a way to forge the social unity to embark on imperial conquest. Thus liberal imperialism, social-democratic imperialism, is often more efficient than traditionalist imperialism. Social-democratic, pink reform also deflects Western attention from the genocide of Palestinians. Furthermore, pink-friendly Zionism is contrasted to the intolerance of Palestinian Islamic and patriotic movements in the imperial media. More and more, imperialist wars and occupation are portrayed as liberal, cosmopolitan civilizing missions. Less and less, imperialism is portrayed as a traditionalist civilizing mission, as the white man’s Christian burden. Just as the imperialist aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran are sold under the banner of First Worldist feminism, so too is the occupation of Palestine.

The dominant form of imperialism today is not traditionalist imperialism that imposes Christian religion and old gender roles on itself or the Third World. The dominant form of imperialism today is liberal, social-democratic imperialism. The dominant imperialism today does not aim to brutally conquer and control First World women and homosexuals. Rather, the liberal imperialism of today unites with First World women and homosexuals largely on their own terms against the masses of the Third World. Thus liberal imperialism sets First World women against Third World women; it sets First World homosexuals against Third World homosexuals. The belief that there is a unity of interest between First World and Third World women or between First World and Third World homosexuals is as First Worldist as the belief that there is a unity of interest between First World and Third World workers.

The answer to liberal imperialism is not traditionalism. The answer to imperialism with a pink flag is not imperialism with a black flag. It matters little to the Third World masses whether their overlords are listening to Wagner or Lady Gaga. From the standpoint of the vast majority, contradictions within the First World are as unimportant to revolution as the struggle of Coke versus Pepsi. Whether liberalism or traditionalism wins, the Third World loses. Those organizations that orient toward First World women and homosexuals are just as First Worldist as those that orient toward First World workers. First Worldism is First Worldism. Revisionism is revisionism. Leading Light rejects both liberalism and traditionalism. Leading Light rejects First Worldism and all its masks. The First World as whole is an enemy. Leading Light rejects all imperialism, all oppression, all exploitation. Leading Light is our sword. It is our shield. We are armed with the future. We are invincible.

Sources

http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Interior-Minster-Saar-Jews-can-now-make-aliya-together-with-same-sex-partners-370837

Understanding the Kurdish resistance in Syria

Understanding the Kurdish resistance in Syriajohnson_1

(llco.org)

Very recently, an alliance of Kurdish forces and their allies has fought off an Islamic State offensive. Kobane, Syria was the focal point of the battle. The Islamic state is a horribly reactionary force that has been encouraged and supported by the imperialists, often through back channels. The Islamic State makes clear its genocidal intentions toward the Kurds. Not long ago, the Islamic State tried to wipe out Kurdish Yazid communities. In the face of such brutality, many people correctly rallied to defense of the Kurdish people who were facing genocidal annihilation. Many were inspired by the brave Kurdish women fighting for their freedom. Even though it is very correct to rally to the defense of the Kurdish people, it is important that we have clarity about the nature and role of the Kurdish organizations.

The Kurdish organization that was most significant in beating back the Islamic State in Syria was the People’s Protection Units (YGP), which are connected to the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which is strongest in Turkish Kurdistan. Also aiding the fight were the “Peshmerga,” the Iraqi Kurdish militias of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The PUK is openly capitalist has a long history of collaboration with imperialism. However, the PKK has a history as a nominally communist organization, although they have now dropped that label. Today, the PKK are an openly social-democratic organization and do not pretend to be communist. Because of their leftist rhetoric and egalitarian practices, some have supposed the PKK and its satellite organizations  to be some kind of vanguard of the Syrian revolution. Because of their long history of conflict with the racist Turkish regime, some have supposed them to be reliable anti-imperialists. This is not so.

The reality is that the PKK and its satellite organizations are nationalist organizations first and foremost. Their main interest is in establishing an independent Kurdistan. As such, they ally with whatever force can help them in achieving this end. This is why at the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the PKK-YPG was in an alliance with the Assad regime, which ceded areas to them with almost no conflict. (1) This is why the PKK-YPG is today aligned with some parts of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against both the Islamic State and the Assad regime. (2) This is why today, they seek coordinate with the United States’ bombing campaign. (3) (4) This is why they ask the United States for support in their fight in Syria. (5) This is why they call on material support from Europe. (6) The United States has had secret talks with the YPG’s political wing since 2012. Former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford:

“The PYD-YPG is a Syrian group that is moving on the ground, so we had an interest in understanding their viewpoint and ideas..” (7)

According to one source:

“Kurdish sources familiar with the indirect U.S.-PYD talks told Foreign Policy that Washington is currently pushing the PYD to distance itself from the Assad regime by joining the Syrian Coalition, working with the FSA, and improving ties with the KNC and Barzani… The recent agreement between the YPG and FSA factions to fight IS together might reflect a PYD eagerness to meet preconditions for U.S. assistance.” (8)

The willingness to ally with imperialism to achieve its end is not new. The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) is the PKK’s satellite organization in Iranian Kurdistan. Because of the United States’ conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran, PJAK has sought to position itself as a US asset in the region even though they are still on the US list of terrorist organizations. The PJAK made its intent known through Western journalists:

“These words are not quite coded speech, but they are PJAK’s way of batting its eyelashes at the United States, of implying that the world’s superpower and this ornery Maoist gang might find common cause against Tehran. Most of the freedoms Turkish Kurds have been eager to spill blood over have been available in Iran for years; Iran constitutionally recognizes the Kurds’ language and minority ethnic status, and there is no taboo against speaking Kurdish in public. The PJAK Kurds want more: They want secular democracy, they say, and they want the United States to go into Iran to deliver it to them. Kurds enthusiastically boycotted the sham election that won Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran’s presidency last year, and they speak of him in doomsday terms that would fit in at the American Enterprise Institute but sound awkward in this rebel camp where everyone’s heroes are Che Guevara and Spartacus.

‘Ahmadinejad does not respect the Sunnis. He thinks they are agents of Israel and the USA,’ says PJAK spokesman Ihsan Warya, an ex-lawyer from Kermanshah. (Most Kurds are Sunni.) Warya nevertheless points out that PJAK really does wish it were an agent of the United States, and that they’re disappointed that Washington hasn’t made contact.” (9)

Although the PKK and its satellites do not have a deep history of imperial collusion yet, they are not in principle oppose to it if imperialism is perceived to serve their nationalist ends.  As the Syrian conflict develops, it looks like they are positioning themselves to try to be part of a Western-supported coalition. Thus the PKK is not in principle different from the PUK in Iraq nor is it in principle different from numerous other nominal leftist organizations that have sought support from the United States ranging from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) to Iranian Maoists to the Communist Party of Iraq. This is the problem with revisionist and nationalist organizations. Since they are not led by true science, by Leading Light Communism, even if they claim to be revolutionary, they can become instruments and dupes of empire.

Empire has a complex strategy in Syria and the region. It is playing multiple sides, hedging its bets so that its position is advanced no matter what the outcome of the Syrian conflict. Its overall goal is to weaken the region, especially the Iranian-Assad-Hezbollah axis. It has done this by fostering sectarian conflict on multiple sides. With one hand it supports the Islamic State, with the other it bombs them. We must remember the principal duty of progressive people is to oppose imperialism, not opportunistically cheerlead any particular force on the ground. Let’s be clear, the Kurdish people have the right to defend themselves from genocide. We would like to see a Kurdish people who were truly free, but that freedom should not be bought at the expense of any other oppressed people of the region. We would like to see all the oppressed of the region thwart imperial plans by overcoming their differences with each other, by uniting. If they put truth, science, Leading Light Communism in command, the path to real freedom will open.

Notes

1.http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/07/26/157943/assad-hands-control-of-syrias.html

2.https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B0RLSYVIIAEwWwB.jpg:large

3.http://www.kurdishquestion.com/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/u-s-we-are-coordinating-with-ypg/318-u-s-we-are-coordinating-with-ypg.html

4.http://www.voanews.com/content/kobani-islamic-state-fighting-airstrikes-kurdish-fighters/2484354.html

5.http://rudaw.net/english/interview/03072014

6.http://kurdishquestion.com/kurdistan/west-kurdistan/kurds-are-major-players-in-middle-east.html

7.http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/10/07/washington_secret_back_channel_talks_with_kurdish_terrorists_turkey_syria_robert_ford_exclusive

8. ibid.

9.http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/dispatches/2006/06/iran_bombs_iraq.html?nav=fo

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.