Leading Light Communism and the Writings of Antonio Gramsci
Part 1/3: Cultural Hegemony
A key component of the power of the bourgeoisie is through the use of what Italian communist Antonio Gramsci called “cultural hegemony”. The global bourgeoisie of today, the Bourgeois “First” World, not only rules society through the brute force of the state. They also rule through the dominance of a society’s culture and ideas. The Bourgeois World dominates society not only with their armies, mercenaries, corrupt neocolonial politicians and police spies, but also through the propagation of their world view, values, customs, and ideology in society. As Karl Marx once wrote, “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force.” (1)
In daily life, the Proletarian “Third” World is primarily dominated by this cultural hegemony of the Bourgeois World. While the Bourgeois World often holds the entire Proletarian World at gunpoint, deploying military force is not the preferred mode of bourgeois domination. Today’s Bourgeois World uses overt imperialist aggression wherever their cultural control breaks down, but seldom before. Today, the Bourgeois World relies on the unwitting consent of the Proletarian World as a whole, a consent obtained through the Bourgeois World’s cultural hegemony. This means most of the Proletarian World today suffers from a “false consciousness” that takes the model of the Bourgeois World for granted, as something supposedly “natural” and not a result of global inequality and exploitation. Concretely, this means the Proletarian World is unaware of its necessity to unite to liberate humanity, to advance the species to Leading Light Communism.
Antonio Gramsci describes how this hegemony works in his Prison Notebooks:
“1. The “spontaneous” consent given by the great masses of the population to the general direction imposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group; this consent is “historically” caused by the prestige (and consequent confidence) which the dominant group enjoys because of its position and function in the world of production.
2. The apparatus of state coercive power which “legally” enforces discipline on those groups who do not “consent” either actively or passively. This apparatus is, however, constituted for the whole of society in anticipation of moments of crisis of command and direction when spontaneous consent has failed…” (2)
While very much grounded in the historicist views of his time, Gramsci opposed economism and the Theory of the Productive Forces. Such crude economic determinism condemns the masses to delay the struggle for full communism indefinitely. Like Lenin, Gramsci proposed that the proletariat can take charge of history itself through militant class struggle, by waging a “war of maneuver” through their vanguard communist party. Beyond Lenin, Gramsci proposed that this communist vanguard wage a “war of position” in the ideological and cultural realm of society. (3) And beyond Gramsci, the masses of people in revolutionary China under Mao’s leadership were able to put these ideas into practice. This was both the case during the Chinese Civil War, and also (and especially so) during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. (4)
Reformists, social-democrats, and other modern revisionist forces have appropriated Gramsci’s theories for their own ends, emptying the theory of cultural hegemony of all revolutionary content. (5) They seek gradual entry into the existing superstructure of bourgeois society, as a means to counter bourgeois hegemony. These reformists see no fundamental role for a Leading Light Communist vanguard, and oppose building the New Power of the Leading Light.
These reformists hijacking Gramsci’s theories also do not differentiate between the Bourgeois World and the Proletarian World, and further deceive the world’s majority. They pretend that the exploited class in the world today is the same as it was in Gramsci’s time. A newer kind of revisionist, claiming the legacy of both Gramsci and Mao, ignores this global divide as well. Like the overt reformists, these First Worldist “revolutionaries” seek to gradually take leadership of the populist “left” forces within the Bourgeois World. These social-chauvinists call their deliberate hiding of the global divide between the Bourgeois World and Proletarian World “the universality of Protracted Revolutionary People’s War”. What outrageous piracy of People’s War by these social-imperialist revisionists! (6)
True revolutionaries, unlike reformists and revisionists, are Leading Light Communists united under the LLCO! We seek to build the New Power of the Leading Light. It is the independence of this New Power that is the basis for Leading Light Communist participation in and leadership of an anti-imperialist united front. The New Power of the Leading Light is a “state-in-miniature” in the Proletarian World to counter the cultural hegemony of the Bourgeois World and its agents, in preparation for Global People’s War to topple the global rule of the Bourgeois World. Even then, the victorious Leading Light must continue to spread its cultural hegemony globally. Only then can humanity be truly on the path to global equality and total liberation!
[Part 2/3: “Organic Intellectuals of the Leading Light” to follow shortly. Red Salute!]
When her father died in 1883 Eleanor Marx wrote an article celebrating her father’s achievements. At the heart of these was “his theory of value, by which Marx explains the origin and the continued accumulation of capital in the hands of a, thereby, privileged class.” (1) What was seen as so important at the time of his death has fallen by the wayside over a century later among the majority of those calling themselves “Marxist.” So-called Marxists today are content to forget Marx’s true theory of value because of the embarrassing fact that it would, if taken literally, preclude most First World workers from being exploited. It would count them outside of the proletariat, outside the revolutionary class. It is the mark of a scientific theory that it has a higher degree of explanatory and predictive power than its competitors. Whether Marx’s theory of value is the most scientific theory today is still an open question. However, Marx’s actual theory, in its best version, is far more scientific than the kind of butchered “Marxist” theories so often put forward by First Worldists. Not only does Marx’s theory gives us the tools, the language, to account for the rise of the mall economy of the United States and other First World countries, it helps us predict and explain the lack of revolutionary sentiment amongst the vast majority of those in the First World. Marx’s theory of value is the astronomy to the astrology of the First Worldist soothsayers.
Eleanor Marx describes the origin of value under capitalism:
“The sum thus entering the pocket of the capitalist Marx calls surplus-value. It is not all profit, but includes the employer’s profit. He has to share it with others: with the Government in the shape of rates and taxes, with the landlord for rent, with the merchant, etc… Thus, all of the classes of society not composed of actual and immediate producers of wealth… all classes, from kings and queens to music-masters and greengrocers, live upon their respective shares of this surplus value. In other words, they live upon the net producer of the surplus labor which the capitalist extracts from his work people, but for which he does not pay. It matters not whether the share of surplus-labor falling to each member of society not actually a producer is granted as a gift by Act of Parliament from the public revenue, or whether it has to be earned by performing some function not actually productive. There is no fund out of which they can be paid, but the sum total of the surplus value created by the immediate producers, for which they are not paid.” (2)
According to both Karl and Eleanor Marx, the value that makes society run has only one source, the “immediate producers of wealth.” In the England of Marx’s day, most of this class would have been industrial, waged workers — this would include workers on industrial farms since peasant direct producers were passing from the scene. Marx predicted that the trends that he witnessed in Western Europe would occur globally. He thought that society would become polarized into two great classes, the industrial capitalists and their workers. Thus, as capitalism advanced, the paradigmatic direct producer would come to be represented by the industrial worker. He saw the industrial working class as the proletariat, the revolutionary agent. Marx thought competition and development would even out from country to country. Thus revolution was a matter of “workers of the world, unite!” However, things did not work out exactly the way Marx foresaw.
It is always important to note that many of Marx’s conclusions were arrived at because he extrapolated from abstract models just as economists do today. This and a good deal of teleology informed his views. However, the real world is more complex. Global society has not polarized exactly in the way that Marx foresaw. Instead, there exist different configurations of class society across countries. In some countries, there are very few direct producers at all. These are First World mall economies. Factories no longer dominate the lives of First World peoples. Only a small percentage of people in the First World work in factories anymore. A far greater number are employed in management, services, etc. This can be described in Marx’s terms as a decline in the percentage of the population engaged in productive labor, labor that adds to the total social product. Many First World economies can be described as a mall writ large. Nothing, or very little, is produced at the mall. Yet people are employed managing, transporting, securing, etc. goods that are produced elsewhere but are sold at the mall. It is the influx of goods from outside the mall that keeps the mall afloat. Production is going on outside the mall, in the Third World. It was the evaporation of direct production, and along with it the evaporation of revolutionary consciousness, that caused Friedrich Engels to write of the bourgeoisification of the English working class on the back of India and the world. Of English workers, Engels writes, “workers merrily share the feast of England’s monopoly of the colonies and the world market.” Even though Marx may have been wrong on unitary development and about the polarization of class, his theory of value does account for today’s world.
The world economy is made up of chains of economic interaction. Each commodity has a point where it was produced. Before a commodity finally leaves circulation it might be exchanged several times. Let’s say a commodity was produced at point A. It was bought by a middleman company and transported and sold again at point C. After being sold at the department store, the commodity leaves circulation. This chain can be represented thus:
At each stage of the commodity’s journey profit may be obtained. Let’s suppose profit is obtained when the commodity is sold from the factory at A to the middleman at B. Profit is obtained when the middleman company B sells it to the retail store C. And profit is also obtained when the retailer C sells the commodity to the consumer. Even though profit is obtained at each point in the circulation chain, surplus value can only be produced by the direct producer. Even though profit is obtained by the middlemen and distributor, this profit is not produced by the workers employed by either the middleman B or the retailer C. This allows Marx to make the point that the merchant does not get rich by cheating his clerks:
“We must make the same distinction between him and the wage-workers directly employed by industrial capital which exists between industrial capital and merchant’s capital, and thus between the industrial capitalist and the merchant. Since the merchant, as mere agent of circulation, produces neither value nor surplus-value.. it follows that the mercantile workers employed by him in these same functions cannot directly create surplus-value for him.. In other words, that he does not enrich himself by cheating his clerks.” (3)
When Marx is at his most consistent he extends this point very broadly. There is no reason we cannot extend Marx’s point about clerks to all of those outside production. Even if Marx isn’t always clear, and sometimes contradictory, one has to make this generalization to be consistent with the Labor Theory of Value. Direct production is the origin of value and the original source of all profit in the Marxist Labor Theory of Value paradigm. Thus, as Eleanor Marx points out, the value that is obtained by all classes has its origin in the direct producers. This is true not just of true of the traditional ruling classes, but also of those who are employed but are not direct producers or part of direct production. These workers may help realize value but they do not produce it as the direct producer does. A bank does not create its profit by squeezing value out of its tellers. A bank obtains its profit by receiving a share of the total social product produced by direct producers. Banks obtain their share through investments and financial manipulations, but the origin of that value lies in direct production. The same is true of supermarkets. It isn’t like they grow the lettuce in the store parking lot. Santa’s elves are not toiling away in the back of the Toys ‘r’ Us.
Because of the tremendous productive capacity of capitalism, these unproductive sectors have expanded significantly. These unproductive sectors have come to dominate whole national economies in the First World. Walmart, for example, is the biggest employer in the United States, with over 1 million employees. (4) The total population of the United States is 309 million. Of the 145 million people who are employed (this includes the undocumented too) within the United States, roughly 26 million are employed in those sectors of the economy that loosely (since we are relying on Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data) correspond with direct production. (5) However, it is important to note that many of those employed in these sectors are not the direct producers themselves. Many in these sectors are management, etc., even if they are employed in the direct production sector of the economy. It is a conservative estimate that at least 10% to 30% of this sector can be considered to not be direct producers in a literal or extended sense. We can generously say that 23.4 million to 18.2 million people in the United States can be counted as direct producers in the loosest sense of the term. By contrast, 126.8 million to 121.6 million in the United States are employed but are not direct producers. (6) This tremendous lopsidedness is why the United States’ economy can be described as a mall economy. As great as the productive forces may be, 23.4 million to 18.2 million people cannot account for the sum of the incomes of the 145 million employed plus the incomes of those tens of millions who are not employed but still have incomes, i.e. capitalists, the petty bourgeoisie, the unemployed, those on welfare, retirees, students, etc. Rather, it stands to reason, the value that allows for this tremendous lopsidedness has to be coming from outside “the mall,” from the Third World. It is, of course, no accident that the increase of this lopsidedness in the United States corresponds to the rise of the United States as the supreme imperialist power after World War II and the decline of inter-imperialist rivalry. Imperialism aided this lopsided development, and continues to maintain it. The lopsidedness is production, but also in wealth and power, after World War II, is why Lin Biao noted that revolution in the First World had halted even while revolution was bursting on the historical stage in the Third.
“Since World War II, the proletarian revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries, while the people’s revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been growing vigorously.” (7)
Another assumption Marx made was that the incomes of the direct producers under capitalism, which for Marx mostly meant the industrial workers, would be reduced to subsistence or sub-subsistence. This is because in a pure model competition between capitalists results over time in equalization of technique. So, the only way left for a capitalist to increase profits is to reduce wages. So much did Marx think this an inevitability of capitalism that Marx identified the value of labor-power with the bare minimum necessary to keep the worker reproducing his labor from day to day. Although this immiseration of direct producers does bear out in much of the Third World, it hardly characterizes any worker in the United States except perhaps some negligible undocumented workers at the very edges of the economy. Often, this does not even characterize the situation of prisoners who are forced to produce. Even those who produce in the First World obtain a wide range of incomes, all of them well above the value of labor-power as set by Marx. Their incomes and standard of living are so high as to make them generally happy with their lot within the system. They align with the imperialist system. Even though Marx was wrong about the exact details of immiseration, this view of value allows for what is seen today. Under Marx’s model, it is possible for value to be transferred from direct producers to others. It is also possible for value to be transferred from direct producers to direct producers. In other words, First World direct producers can obtain a share of the surplus that originates in the Third World. Even if a direct producer in the First World is adding to the global social product through his labor, at the same time, he is subtracting from the global social product the same way that other exploiters do. He is obtaining a share of value from the Third World. This offsets whatever value he produces. This makes him a net-exploiter, just like members of other exploiting classes.
Marx’s theory of value allows for these possibilities that go a long way in explaining current reality. The claim by First Worldist that if profit is being obtained by a particular business, then there is exploitation by that business of its workers does not follow. An epistemological problem arises: how do we know whether a worker is an exploiter or not? Because value can be transferred in so many ways from one person to another, from one direct producer to another, it is necessary to establish a way to measure who is and who is not exploited. Either it is necessary to assign a value to labor-power or it is necessary to find another way to measure exploitation. Today virtually the entire world’s economy is integrated into one giant imperialist formation. The production of a commodity may take place across several countries. To complete a commodity it is not unusual for producers across vast distances to have contributed to its completion. To maintain that the labor-power of First World producers is different than the labor-power of Third World producers is pure chauvinism, especially since economies are so globalized today. Any approach to solving this problem should apply to workers everywhere. Comrade Serve the People has advanced a solution to the problem that establishes a rough estimate for the value of labor-power:
“Comrade Marx pointed out that labor is the substance of value. He said that the number of hours of average abstract socially necessary labor needed to produce a commodity represents its value. That means labor of average productivity under the given working conditions for the specified type of work. Therefore, if traded at value, one hour of labor put into harvesting parsnips is exchangeable against one hour of assembling washing machines (if the labor in both cases is of average productivity).
The nominal GDP of the entire world was $31.9 trillion in 2002. This figure represents everything produced in the world, including services (which tend to be overvalued), in a year’s time. The population is about 6.4 billion people. Assume that 2/3 of them work full time on a typical US schedule of 2000 hours per year. Then the value of average labor is $7500 per year, or about $3.75 per hour. (Slightly higher, actually, since the world’s population was a bit lower in 2002 than it is today.)
Elsewhere I have seen estimates from the UN that the world’s nominal GDP in 2005 is about $36 trillion. That would put the value of labor at $8400 per year, or $4.20 per hour. What is the implication? In the US, the minimum wage is $5.15 per hour, and even higher in some states and cities. If average labor is worth $4.20, then even people making the minimum wage are overpaid on average by about 23%. The average wage in the US is about $18 per hour, which is more than 4 times the value of labor.” (8)
Let’s look at another, stronger, less orthodox solution. In her characterization of her father’s theory of value, Eleanor Marx discusses the distribution of the global social product under capitalism. Her father’s theory of value implies certain distributions are capitalist ones, other distributions are socialist ones. Eleanor characterizes the society of her day as a capitalist one with a distribution where those who do not contribute to the global social production receive shares from it. In fact, the majority of the shares of surplus-labor are distributed to non-producers of various kinds under capitalism. It is correct to criticize the distribution of the social product to reactionary non-producing classes. However, any contemporary socialism has to direct distribution toward not only producers, but also the vast destitute stagnant, non-working poor across the Third World. The non-working destitute are a very significant, potentially explosive, class that is coming into its own as a class in the slums of Third World cities. Had the world polarized as Marx suggested, then a socialist distribution aimed at producers, to near exclusion of others, makes sense. However, this is not our world today, or our socialism. Our problem is that given that, under Marx’s scheme, value can be transferred from producers to both non-producers and to other producers, a bar needs to be set to establish who is and who is not exploited. I have advanced another possible solution to this problem that moves away from Marx’s theory of value, but can be said to be implicit in the Marxist criticism of imperialism:
“Some might object that a socialist distribution is not an egalitarian distribution. Rather, a socialist distribution is one where wealth is spread out, not evenly, but to those who do the work and those nations who do the work: she who does not work, shall not eat. Whereas the labor theory of value may be necessary for explaining the mechanics of exploitation, the distribution principle associated with it is not adequate to rectify the problem of inequality between countries that has been generated by imperialism. Such a distribution principle does not address the problem of underdevelopment. Surely populations in the most underdeveloped parts of the Third World, that have been rendered unproductive by imperialism, should not continue to remain in dire poverty under a global socialism. Whole countries of the “industrial reserve army” in the Third World may not currently be productive, but should not resources and development be directed to such populations under socialism? According to demographers, very soon, for the first time in history, the majority of the world’s populations will be living in cities. The new “global countryside” as the base areas of the global people’s wars may very well be the ghettos of Third World megacities. These ghettos are less sites for production then blights that show just how capitalism’s anarchy of production has failed to bring huge segments of the human population into production. Surely socialism must speak to these vast populations that will be the soldiers of the people’s wars over the next century.
The global economy is a causal nexus where value in various forms is transferred around the globe from one person to another. So, if one person is receiving more than an equal share, then somebody else is receiving less somewhere in the causal nexus. Likewise, if someone is receiving less, someone else is receiving more. Imperialism has created a world order where those who receive less and those who receive more correspond to populations in the Third World and First World respectively. Using egalitarianism as a regulative idea, one is exploited when one does not receive an equal share. One is an exploiter when one receives more than an equal share. A country is exploited when its population is largely made up the exploited who have less than an equal share. A country is an exploiter when its population is largely made up of exploiters who have more than an equal share. Implicit in the Marxist critique of imperialism is the idea that countries of the world should exist side by side as equals. The opposite relationship to the imperialist one is a relationship based on egalitarianism and self-determination.” (9) (10)
Marx avoided the problem by ascribing historical necessity to the trends he saw around him. Even though Marx’s real theory of value is largely forgotten, it is much better than anything advanced by First Worldists today. We must start from, but also go beyond, Marx’s theory of value in order to answer what Mao called the question of first importance, the question of class: “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?” Global society looks very different today than in Marx’s day. Lenin writes, “Imperialism has the tendency to create privileged sections also among the workers, and to detach them from the broad masses of the proletariat.” (11) Today this division has evolved such that whole countries lack the proletariat as the revolutionary class. This is why the world revolution has taken a very different shape than that in Marx’s day. Lin Biao writes:
“[T]he contemporary world revolution also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas. In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.” (12)
Today’s revolutionary path will much different than that of Marx’s time. It will be different than both the Bolshevik and Chinese experiences. The changing world requires a new strategy to really make revolution. Our path is the Global People’s War led by the Leading Light.
1. Marx, Eleanor “Marx’s Theory of Value,” in When Karl Marx Died ed. Foner, Philip S. International Publishers. USA: 1973 p. 230
2. ibid. p 235
3. Marx, Karl Capital Vol. 3 Chapter XVII
5. Data extrapolated from BLS statistic from 2009 and 2010 http://www.bls.gov/cps/faq.htm#Ques8 and ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/suppl/empsit.cpseea21.txt
6. The method here is to add up all industries that can loosely be considered “direct production.” We do the same for other sectors. Also, 10% to 20% is subtracted in order to roughly account for those employed in the direct production sector, but who are not themselves direct producers, i.e management, etc. The numbers are from the employment charts at the Census Bureau.
7. Lin Biao Long Live the Victory of People’s War! http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/lin-biao/1965/09/peoples_war/ch07.htm
8. Serve the People A Rough Estimate of the Value of Labor. http://monkeysmashesheaven.wordpress.com/2008/07/06/blast-of-the-past-from-irtr-a-rough-estimate-of-the-value-of-labor/ *The minimum wage in the US is now $7.25 per hour.
9. Prairie Fire Real versus Fake Marxism on Socialist Distribution. http://monkeysmashesheaven.wordpress.com/2009/08/05/real-versus-fake-marxism-on-socialist-distribution/
10. Prairie Fire Global Inequality or Socialist Equality. http://monkeysmashesheaven.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/global-inequality-and-socialist-equality/
12. Lin Biao Long Live the Victory of People’s War! http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/lin-biao/1965/09/peoples_war/ch07.htm
Comments on Agriculture and Food in Crisis (2010, Monthly Review Press) ed. by Fred Magdoff and Brian Tokar.
In the period between 2006 and 2008, a world food crisis emerged. Agriculture and Food in Crisis (2010, Monthly Review Press) is an anthology of articles describing the causes and effects of this crisis. The collection is edited by Fred Magdoff and Brian Tokar. Since the book contains the works of so many authors, many views are presented. The articles contain the typical liberal problems of academic treatments of oppression. Even so, the work contains useful information on how neoliberalism intersects with the growing food crisis, especially in the Third World. Rather than looking at each author, this review comments on useful information found throughout the volume.
Global food shortages have become a major issue, especially for the poorest peoples, those living in the Third World. Food prices are rising. Over the last few years, millions have gone hungry, unable to afford basic nutrition. In the poorest countries, 125 million more people fell into extreme poverty in just the years between 2006 and 2008. Many declared a global food crisis. The World Food Program worried that food reserves would not be able to meet the urgent demand. (33) However, what was not recognized was that this food crisis is part of a larger crisis, the crisis of capitalism itself. Capitalism regularly creates artificial crises. Marx called this the anarchy of capitalist production. The current methods of agricultural production and food distribution, formed and maintained by capitalism, are crises in and of themselves. Global food production is decreasing even though current human needs are not being met, especially in the Third World. Grain and soybeans previously grown for human consumption are being diverted into industrial meat production, factory farms, to maintain profit margins and First World consumption patterns. Third World countries are compelled to accept neoliberal structural-adjustment policies, turning them into food importers. This leads to lower food production and higher food prices in the Third World. Due to depeasantificaiton, one sixth of humanity now lives in slum conditions, mostly in the megacities of the Third World. (10) The transformation of peasants into slumdwellers takes place at the same time as corporate domination of the world’s food system increases on an unprecedented scale. More than one billion people suffer from severe hunger. Nearly two billion more, almost all of the Third World, suffer from food insecurity. (12) The current systems of agriculture production and food distribution are failing at least half of the planet’s people. Yet, even with decreases in food production, the world still produces enough food to feed everyone. (13) Although this should not be taken to mean that either infinite population growth, population and consumption levels are necessarily sustainable. The work details the grim realities of food production under capitalism today. The global poor cannot compete in terms of purchasing power with multinational corporations, global institutions, and First World states that wish to see the world’s food supply appropriated for meat production, fuel production, or simply consumed by populations in the wealthier countries. The global capitalist economy distributes wealth in a vastly uneven manner both between individuals within countries, and between countries themselves. (14) The current system is unsustainable, ecologically and socially. What most of treatments of the issue fail to understand is that the solutions to such problems require going beyond capitalism itself.
The essays describe how the neoliberal power holders interact to ensure their control of the food system. The IMF and World Bank have both created and maintained the neoliberal policies behind the food crises. Structural adjustment policies, forced upon indebted countries, have contributed to a global “capitalist transformation of the countryside.” (43) Structural adjustment means power accumulates in the hands of the few. A handful of corporations increasingly monopolize the food system. (211) The number of corporations controlling food production and distribution has contracted. Two companies control two-thirds of the world’s grain market. (211) Three companies — Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta — have cornered the commercial seeds trade, controlling 40 percent of that market. (21) These corporations have declared themselves owners of the very seeds that humanity has been forced to rely on by patenting their genetic modifications. Yet their genetically modified crops have not shown increases in yields. (23) Even so, farmers from Mexico to India find themselves forced to purchase these seeds. Once producers, Indian farmers today find themselves as consumers, forced to purchase expensive corporate-owned seeds from landlords and lenders to get by. (46) Moreover, ten companies control 75 percent of the agrochemical market. Thus dependency of growers and the power of corporations are increased. Traditional producers have little options within a global system that is increasingly rigged against them.
Truly free markets are a myth. Despite neoliberal propaganda touting the power of the free market, control of food supplies has been anything but free. Open markets by themselves are not enough for corporations to profit in the Third World. Governments must intervene to ensure and increase corporate profits. The rich countries of the First World rely on subsidizing their own population while muscling Third World states against such policies. Domestic production of food is subsidized by First World governments so too are crops billed as ecofriendly. The 2008 Mitchell Report, a suppressed report from an economist at the World Bank, alleges that increases in biofuel production in the United States and the EU were to blame for three-fourths of the huge increase in food prices in the years between 2002 and 2008. (36) For the purported reason of “energy independence,” and to placate First Worldist environmentalists, the US government offers subsidies that promote shifting the production of corn to agrofuel, making the shift a profitable venture. (122) In addition, profits are made by exporting subsidized, non-nutritious foods from the First World to the poor countries of Third World. These corporations have had to wage campaigns with state help to change the diets of people in the Third World. For example, people in the Third World seldom consumed wheat. With wheat-producing corporations looking to expand their markets, the US government provided “charitable” wheat for countries that had never produced it. A United Nations report describes similar campaigns. First World states and their corporate allies through “massive marketing and advocacy” made “high-fat, high sugar and low-fiber fast foods and soft drinks” palatable to a new base of consumers in the Third World. Predictably, the influx of these foods and the changing of diet coincided with an “escalating trend” of non-communicable disease in poor countries. (22)
First World government policies have turned food production upside down. Mexico was the first country to domesticate corn. Corn was a staple of Mexico’s ancient indigenous cultures. Corn only reached the “old world” after contact with European explorers and settlers. Yet by 2007, Mexico was dependent on importing its corn from the United States. According to one set of authors in the volume, this is the result of IMF and World Bank structural-adjustment polices that began in the 1980s. The result was trade liberalization, land privatization of formerly-collective land, and elimination of various government protections for peasants that had been in place since the Mexican Revolution. NAFTA further solidified this shift. Mexico, traditionally a country with a rich tradition of food production, soon became a net importer of its food. (40)
The neoliberal impact on food production and distribution has resulted in vast demographic changes in the Third World. Depeasantization and its correlate slumification have been major trends over the last decade. Modern primitive accumulation drives peasants from their land to undeveloped urban areas. In Marx’s day, capitalism forced the peasantry into the factories of new urban production zones. Migration to cities today does not correspond to any industrial need. Thus, today’s peasants are driven into informal slum economies. (27) Nearly one-sixth of humanity lives in slums. The peasants who migrate to the slums essentially drop out of the economy, they are cut off from society. The slumification of the peasantry correlates with an increase of corporate control of agriculture as well as the massive increase in the number of people facing food insecurity. Depeasantization takes other forms as well. In the countryside, farmer suicides have increased dramatically. In rural Maharashtra India, suicide rates tripled from 1995 to 2005. Some 150,000 Indian farmers took their lives over the last few years alone. (46) The depeasantization and slummification that results, in part, from neoliberal control of the food supply has created a vast, new social and geographic base for revolution. The course of future revolutions will surely be imprinted by the neoliberal food policies.
There are numerous suggestions about how to challenge the neoliberal control of the global food supply. “NGOs will save the world,” say many liberals. Since the 1980s, the number of “development-oriented” NGOs in the Third World has increased dramatically. NGOs have attracted vast sums of investment from foreign donors by creating the impression that NGOs are less corrupt, more innovative, more efficient, and closer to the community than states and corporations. NGOs advocates claim that NGOs allow knowledge of sustainable agriculture practices to travel between various “social worlds,” allowing these disparate groups to “unite,” to offer alternatives to current agricultural practices. (276) Having to satisfy the interests of foreign donors and the local elites, NGOs do little to challenge the economic system as such. NGOs’ focus on their local projects rather than the broader social change necessary to solve the problem and protect such gains. NGOs end up as social bandaids that fail to offer any real alternative to the system. Instead NGOs form a pillar of the system within those communities most oppressed by the system. NGOs, consciously or not, often come to occupy the social space ripe for revolutionary activism and the creation of the revolutionary institutions of New Power. NGOs come to compete with and block New Power. Thus, despite themselves, NGOs end up serving the very system they criticize. Other recommendations in the volume end up reinventing the wheel. For example, two authors advise that looking to certain aspects of centuries-old traditional food production practices can inform new agricultural practices that do not rely on corporate agrochemicals or monoculture. The current system of food distribution is inefficient. Currently, food items travel an average of 1,300 miles before reaching someone’s plate. (47) Keeping food production close to its consumers is one part of the solution, a solution pioneered, in part, by past socialist societies. Decentralization combined with collectivism of agricultural was part of the socialist model pursued in China during the Cultural Revolution. Self-reliance was pushed by China’s people’s communes. However, it is hard to see how such recommendations could be implemented without a revolutionary, proletarian state dedicated to protecting such localization from neoliberal domination.
The essays emphasize not only today’s aspects of imperial control, but also the continuity with imperialism’s past. The extractive policies of the colonial era share commonalities with the neoliberal policies of today. Just as in the past, raw materials flowed from the Third World to the First World, where they were transformed into finished goods, today, the First World has transformed the Third World into a “world farm.” (51) The wealthy countries of the First World, representing a minority of global consumers, feed, quite literally, on the labor and resources of the Third World. Today’s imperialism, like earlier forms, transfers power and wealth to the top, leaving the vast majority impoverished. The solution is not found within a system driven by profit and expansion. The nature of capitalism is to place profit above the vast majority of humanity. Capitalism’s nature is to continually expand even if the consequences threaten humanity and the Earth itself. Just as the bourgeois state is not the answer, neither can NGOs and small-scale community organizations upend the extractive relationship between the First World and the Third World that drives the modern food system. The best intentions of liberals do little to really solve the crisis facing the global poor. The crises caused by today’s capitalist agriculture and food systems require revolutionary change. A real solution requires an alternative system that serves the interests of the poor and the Earth itself. The people of the Third World suffer. The earth suffers. The system is rotten. No one should starve. No one should go hungry. Food production should empower, not exploit the people. The answer is not reformism of any kind. Oppression leads to resistance. In response to the global food crisis, popular eruptions occurred in dozens of countries, from Bangladesh to Mexico. In Haiti, riots in 2008 led to the ousting of the prime minister. These policies also led to reinvigorated resistance movements across Mexico, notably the Zapatistas and the Popular Revolutionary Army. However, to truly restructure global society, we need global people’s war waged by the poor of the Third World led by the most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism.
Mao criticized and mocked those who had a metaphysical, dogmatic approach to books and knowledge:
“Whatever is written in a book is right — such is still the mentality of culturally backward Chinese peasants. Strangely enough, within the Communist Party there are also people who always say in a discussion, “Show me where it’s written in the book.””
Our’s is a very rich tradition. The most important revolutionary works are those of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Lin Biao, and the new Leading Light. Anyone who seriously claims to be a revolutionary must have some familiarity with these works. Because of the richness of this literature, it is easy to fall into book worship. There are those who act as though whether or not a claim is true depends on whether it can be found in the revolutionary classics. This kind of metaphysical attitude toward the classics should be opposed. Whether or not an assertion or theory is correct depends on how well that it predicts and explains the world. In other words, reality, not tradition, is the ultimate judge. This is an important, fundamental part of materialist epistemology.
We should avoid getting into wars over scripture. We should not quote monger. We should not fetishize the classics. Ultimately, it does not matter who can produce more quotes from the classics in support of their position. Those elements of the classics that help us predict and explain our world should be developed and expanded, incorporated into our science. If helpful, those passages should be referenced. We should not be afraid of rejecting the classics where they are wrong. Marxism is not religion. The classics should not be regarded as the Holy Bible. We are scientists, not monks.
Science evolves. Just as Albert Einstein built on of Isaac Newton, Lenin built on the works of Marx. Mao built on the works of Lenin. Leading Light Communism builds on this revolutionary history. Our work builds on this tradition, incorporating and developing those elements that apply to the world, and leaving behind those elements that do not. We should not wrap ourselves in the orthodoxy as Maoists or Hoxhaists or Trotskyists do. Our authority is grounded in the truth of our science, not whether or not it reproduces an orthodoxy.
Leading Light Communism is the highest stage of Marxism, of revolutionary science. Today’s Marxism develops and supersedes the Marxism of the past. The importance of the development of Leading Light Communism should not be understated. It is this banner that will be at the head of the next wave of revolution. The future is ours. This is what matters most.
A big part of communism is the elimination of gender oppression. Women have been stomped on and trampled on by men for tens of thousands of years. In much of the world, women are treated as property. It is time to turn the tables. It’s time for total revolution. However, we have to understand gender scientifically. Just as Vladimir Lenin wrote of the “split in the working class,” there is also a split among women and oppressed genders today. Imperialism has changed the game. In general, contrary to First Worldist feminist dogma, First World women are now enemies of Third World women. Let’s explain.
In the First World, gender is not connected as it once was to biology. Due to the high standard of living made possible through imperialism and advances in technology, First World women are less and less confined to traditional social and reproductive roles. Women are no longer stuck in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, in the First World. First World women have access to a high degree of life options that are not strictly limited by reproduction. For this reason, inequalities between First World men and First World women should not be confused with traditional-patriarchal oppression which is centered around biology and reproduction. Rather, these remaining inequalities should be considered a residual effect from traditional-patriarchal oppression. It is likely that over time, these echoes of traditional oppression will become less pronounced in the First World.
The status of First World men and First World women is maintained at the expense not only of class and national oppression of Third World peoples, but also gender oppression of Third World peoples. In other words, First World women benefit from the gender oppression of Third World women. How do First World women benefit from the patriarchal oppression of Third World women? How can one group of women gain by the gender oppression of another?
The end of traditional-patriarchal oppression for most First World women has been made possible by the enormous concentrations of wealth that imperialism has generated for the First World at the expense of the Third World. First World women have gained the ability to enter the economy and earn superwages. This gives First World women the option of opting out of the traditional role where the woman’s survival depends on her husband as earner. First World women have the option of living independently, without a male partner. Thus First World women are freed from the traditional oppression connected up with their role in reproduction, i.e. motherhood. Their liberation from traditional male-centered conceptions of sexuality has also been made possible. First World women have access to a greater range of life options open to them. First World women are able to earn exploiter superwages alongside First World men. First World women are able to partake of the spoils of imperialism on a more and more equal basis with First World men.
The increasing equality between the sexes in the First World is a result of the capitalist-imperialist world system. A big part of maintaining the global system of oppression is the fusion of various aspects of feudalism and capitalism in some parts of the Third World. Third World women are some of the biggest victims of the capitalist-imperialist system. They tend to be locked into traditional, feudalistic oppression in agrarian societies. In industrialized areas, they find themselves the most exploited, working for more hours and for lower wages than their male counterparts. They increasingly find themselves enslaved, often by the global sex industry. The situation of Third World women is a function of, among other things, their gender oppression. And, gender oppression in the Third World aids the imperial system that channels wealth from the Third to the First World. Gender oppression in the Third World props up the gender equality in the First World. First World equality is propped up by semi-feudalism and semi-colonialism in the Third World.
Fake gender “liberation” in the First World has meant that First World women have increased access to the traditional privileges and lifestyles enjoyed by men in the First World. This “liberation” has gone beyond First World women. First World gays, lesbians, bisexuals, queers, trans-gendered persons have more and more access to the traditional power and privileges of First World heterosexual males. However, this social democratic opening up of First World society is based on continued gender oppression of the Third World. For this reason, there is less and less reason to consider First World women as separate from First World males from the standpoint of global power analysis. This also explains why traditional conceptions of “manhood” and “womanhood” are breaking down in the First World. And, there is more and more reason to consider First World women as separate and distinct from Third World women. It is correct to see First World men and First World women as having more in common. This state of affairs is borne out by material analysis and the historical record. Almost all First World people are enemies.
Revolutionary, proletarian feminism rejects the lie of the universal sisterhood. Such lies only serve imperialism at this point. This lie tells Third World women that their true allies are First World women, not the Third World men fighting alongside them against imperialism or fighting alongside them for Leading Light Communism. This lie tells Third World women to put their futures in the hands of benevolent pink imperialism. We need to recognize the great division between the Third World and First World affects gender too.
This doesn’t mean that sad inequalities do not remain between First World men and First World women. Nobody likes to see domestic violence, rape, and other cruelty that affects women disproportionately. However, on the whole, we have to use our brains here. It is obvious that First World women as a whole are not going to support communist and anti-imperialist struggles. We need to understand this fact and deal with it. We should all seek to be egalitarian and just in our personal interactions. We should live the revolution. We should stand for right and wrong. We should be good people. However, the only real feminism is proletarian feminism, Third Worldist feminism, Leading Light Communism. Real, proletarian feminism is feminism that supports the destruction of the First World. It does not seek alliances with the First World so-called “working class” or First World women. Revolutionary, proletarian feminism recognizes that the contradiction between First World women and Third World women is antagonistic. Revolutionary feminism identifies First World men and First World women as the enemy. Revolutionary feminism is the feminism of the Global People’s War waged by the global countryside against the global city, waged by the Third World against the First World, the Global Proletariat against the Global Bourgeoisie.
Our revolution will come from the darkest, most oppressed places. Third World women and children will lead the way to a better world. Mothers. Daughters. Sons. They will play a key role. Real revolutionaries, Leading Lights, unite with Third World women. We unite with Third World men and women against First World men and women. We support the New Democratic revolution to create basic rights for women and men in the Third World. We support the Global People’s War waged by women and men in the Third World against the First World. We support socialist revolution. We support true, Leading Light Communism, total liberation. Leading Light Communism is a revolutionary strategy that accounts for the real world, not the world as we imagine it. All real feminists stand with the vast majority of women in the Third World. All real feminists are Leading Light Communists!
Molotov, MIM, Dogma, and Stalin’s support for Israel
Stalin was a great socialist leader, but it is important to tell the truth about his mistakes. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a high-ranking, important member of Stalin’s regime. Today’s Stalinists occasionally choose him as their favorite candidate to have succeeded Stalin in “what if” fantasy histories. “What if Molotov had led the Soviet Union rather than Beria or Khrushchev?” they ask. One of the biggest questions about both Molotov and Stalin is why they supported an apartheid state like Israel. Decades later, Molotov states in his memoirs:
“Everyone objected [to recognizing the State of Israel] but us — me and Stalin. Some asked me why we favored it. We are supporters of international freedom. Why should we be opposed if, strictly speaking, that meant pursuing a hostile nationalist policy? In our time, it’s true, the Bolsheviks were and remained anti-Zionist… Yet it’s one thing to be anti-Zionist and anti-bourgeois, and quite another to be against the Jewish people. We proposed, however, an Arab-Israeli union, for both nations to live there together. We have supported this version if it could have been arranged. Otherwise we favored an Israeli state… Israel has turned out badly. But Lord Almighty! That’s American imperialism for you.” (1)
The Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) extrapolates on Molotov’s defense of Stalin:
“Stalin has been criticized for his recognition of Israel. There is a limit to what the revolutionary forces are capable of. In the case of the existence of Israel, the progressive forces were not able to stop its creation as a separate, exclusive state. Once created, the question became whether or not to recognize it. From Molotov’s quote above, it is clear that Stalin would not recognize the right to self-determination of only those nations with progressive impact, and that he said Molotov thought that not recognizing Israel would have been ‘against the Jewish people.’ They believed they should not oppose the fait-accompli in Israel, though they would have preferred a different outcome.” (2)
These are good examples of how not to approach political errors and history. In his memoirs, Molotov washes his hands of responsibility for Israel even though he had a big role in policies that aided Israel’s creation. Rather than accepting his errors, Molotov obfuscates. He shifts the blame onto United States, who subsequently became the main supporter of Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian peoples and wars against the Arabs. The genocide and wars continue to this day. MIM does not confront Molotov on his dishonesty. MIM articulates Molotov’s excuse better than Molotov. According to MIM, Stalin’s power was limited and he had no choice but to recognize Israel. Since the Zionists had won their war, what is gained by an infantile refusal to recognize them? This might make sense if all you had to go on was Molotov’s word. However, the reality is that Molotov is lying by omission. And MIM doubles down on the lie.
Stalin’s regime did more than extend de jure recognition to an already victorious Israel on May 18, 1948, they were the first. Several Eastern Bloc countries followed suit, extending de jure recognition to Israel before the United States, which only got around to de jure recognition by January 31, 1949. Golda Meir, one of Israel’s founding elders and Israel’s Fourth Prime Minister, wrote in her memoirs:
“… [T]he Soviet recognition of the State of Israel on May 18 was of immense significance to us. It meant that the two greatest powers in the world has come together, for the first time since World War II, to back the Jewish state, and although we were still in deadly danger, we knew, at last, that we were not alone. It was in that knowledge – combined with sheer necessity – that we found the spiritual, if not the material, strength that was to lead us to victory.” (3) *
Stalin’s recognition of Israel gave a tremendous morale boost to the Zionists. It also boosted their international legitimacy and gave them diplomatic cover. What Molotov and MIM fail to mention is that Stalin’s support for the Zionist movement goes back prior to the Israeli victory. The Eastern Bloc played a key role in the victory of the Zionists.
The Jewish Agency, an organization that later became the state of Israel, between June 1947 and October 31, 1949, began seeking weapons for Operation Balak. Weapons were procured using communist help in Czechoslovakia. As the communists became more influential after World War 2, material support for Zionism increased. The communist coup increased Czechoslovakia’s support for the Zionists. The Soviet Bloc arms shipments were very significant. Most of the arms were of German design. They were either leftover arms from World War 2 or new arms manufactured in Czechoslovakia using German designs. The arms shipments up to October, 1948 included: 34,500 P-18 rifles, 5,515 MG 34 machine guns with 10,000 ammo belts, 10,000 vz.24 bayonets, 900 vz. 37 heavy machine guns, 500 vz. 27 pistols. Other infantry weapons: 12 ZK-383 submachine guns, 10 ZK 420 semi-automatic rifles, 500 vz. 26 light machine guns (shipped, yet delivery not confirmed in Czech sources). Ammunition: 91,500,000 7.92×57mm Mauser cartridges, 15,000,000 9mm Parabellum cartridges, 375,000 13mm cartridges for MG 131, 150,000 20mm cartridges for MG 151, 375,000 7.65mm cartridges for vz. 27 pistol. Aircraft: Israeli Avia S-199, 1948, 25 Avia S-199 fighters, 61 Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IX fighters. (4) The Israelis continued to receive arms and support after 1948. In addition, the Soviet bloc provided weapons and tactical training the the Zionist insurgency. Eighty-one pilots and 69 crew specialists were trained. Some of these later formed the first units of the Israeli air force. The equivalent of a brigade of Jewish-Czech volunteers were trained on Czechoslovakian soil from August 20, 1948 until November 4, 1948. The Czechoslovakian codename for the operation was “DI,” an abbreviation for “Důvěrné Israel,” which means “Classified Israel.” A motorized brigade was also trained, but the war had been won before they were deployed. (5)
Golda Meir was especially appreciative of Stalin’s help, which saved their movement:
“Had it not been for the arms and ammunition that we were able to buy in Czechoslovakia and transport through Yugoslavia and other Balkan countries in those dark days at the start of the war, I do not know whether we actually could have held out until the tide changed, as it did by June, 1948. For the first six weeks of the War of Independence, we relied largely (though not, of course, entirely) on the shells, machine guns, bullets – and even planes – that the Haganah had been able to purchase in Eastern Europe at a time when even the United States had declared an embargo on the sale of shipment of arms to the Middle East. ” (6)
Elsewhere, she states:
“I shall always remember the profound understanding shown by the Russian authorities to the many problems of our young state.” (7)
Stalin’s aid to the Zionists is not some big secret. On May 14, 1947, before the Zionist victory that led to the Israeli state, the Soviet ambassador Andrei Gromyko announced:
“As we know, the aspirations of a considerable part of the Jewish people are linked with the problem of Palestine and of its future administration. This fact scarcely requires proof…. During the last war, the Jewish people underwent exceptional sorrow and suffering… The United Nations cannot and must not regard this situation with indifference, since this would be incompatible with the high principles proclaimed in its Charter…The fact that no Western European State has been able to ensure the defence of the elementary rights of the Jewish people and to safeguard it against the violence of the fascist executioners explains the aspirations of the Jews to establish their own State. It would be unjust not to take this into consideration and to deny the right of the Jewish people to realize this aspiration.” (8)
Although the Soviets said they preferred the partition, they also supported an Israeli state. So the Soviet support for Israel was not because Israel was a fait-accompli, as MIM claims. The socialist bloc had been giving moral, diplomatic, and material support to the Zionist insurgency long before its de jure recognition of Israel.
It is easy to see how the dishonest historical narrative arose. MIM approaches history as other dogmatic revisionists do. Their method is to construct a narrative in favor of their pantheon of revolutionary icons, then gather information that appears to support it, ignore what does not support it, make excuses, avoid political responsibility for errors. In this case, they present a small tidbit from Molotov that appears to the uneducated to sound reasonable. MIM leaves out the rest of the story because they are not interested in truth. The are not interested in the genuine historical record, they are interested in deflecting criticism from Stalin. They do not practice historical science, they practice apologetics. Truth does not matter. Defending Stalin on all things matters most, even if it means sacrificing truth. MIM uses this same method in their work on the Maoist era. All the more damning is that two of MIM’s cardinal points of unity involve historical claims about when the Soviet and Maoist revolutions were reversed. Either MIM was demanding unity about historical eras it did not understand or MIM was consciously misrepresenting these eras in an effort to be in line with Maoists internationally. Whether MIM was sloppy and ignorant or dishonest, their approach was not scientific. Unfortunately, MIM’s “cutting the toes to fit the shoes” approach to history is all too common among revisionists that claim to be communist. By contrast, the scientific, true communist historian goes where the data leads. He does not begin with picking good guys and bad guys, then proceed to cherry pick data to support the good guy and defame the bad guy. A serious historian looks at and presents all the data, even data which goes against his political instincts. A serious historian examines all possible reasonable narratives, weighing them against each other and the data. A serious historian integrates his narrative with what we know about systems of oppression. A serious historian is out to discover truth, even if truth goes against his political instincts. We must uphold what is good in all things, all leaders, and reject the bad. We must uphold what is good in Stalin and come to terms with what is not. Writing history should not be like writing a novel.
Several factors led to Stalin’s support for Israel. After World War 2, the Soviet policy continued to be based on Lenin’s idea of continuous intra-imperialist conflict. Stalin thought that the Western allies of World War 2 would break down. As the imperialists sought more and more expansion, they would inevitably lead the world into another great war. Stalin saw the British empire as the strongest of the European powers after World War 2. The Zionist insurgency could be used to weaken British rule over Palestine. In addition, the British still wielded power and influence over those lands neighboring the Soviet Union’s southern flank. The Soviets had their buffer zone of satellite states in Eastern Europe, but were encircled in the south. The Zionist war against the Arabs was also a war against the British who had restricting migration and enforcing an embargo on Palestine in hopes of keeping the peace with the indigenous Palestinians. The British did not want to see their colonial possession destabilized or fall into sectarian conflict. Stalin was hoping to fan the flames of the conflict between the Zionists and the British. Golda Meir states, “There is now no doubt in my mind that the primary Soviet consideration was to get the British out of the Middle East.” (9) Furthermore, the Zionist movement had a strong pole that was perceived as leftist, socialist, anti-capitalist. The Kibbutz movement and Golda Meir herself represent this trend. Golda Meir and Molotov’s wife briefly discussed collective property in 1948:
“I had a much more interesting and rewarding encounter with another Soviet citizen at the reception given by Mr. Molotov on the anniversary of the Russian Revolution, to which all the diplomats in Moscow are invited each year… After I had shaken hands with Molotov, his wife, Ivy Molotov, came up to me. ‘I am so pleased to meet you, at last,’ she said with real warmth and even excitement. Then she added, ‘I speak Yiddish, you know.’
‘Are you Jewish?’ I asked in some surprise.
‘Yes,’ she said, answering me in Yiddish, ‘Ich bin a yiddishe tochter.’ (I am a daughter of the Jewish people.) We talked together for quite a long time. She knew all about the events at the synagogue and told me how good it was that we had gone. ‘The Jews wanted so much to see you,’ she said. We touched on the question of the Negev, which was being debated at the United Nations. I made some remark about not being able to give it up because my daughter lived there and added that Sarah wa with me in Moscow. ‘I must see her,’ said Mrs. Molotov. So I introduced Sarah and Yael Namir to her, and she talked to them about Israel and asked Sarah dozens of questions about kibbutzim, who lived in them and how they were run. She spoke Yiddish to the girls who were overjoyed when Sarah answered in the same language. When Sarah explained that everything in Revivim was owned collectively and that there is no private property, Mrs. Molotov looked troubled. ‘That is not a good idea,’ she said. ‘People don’t like sharing everything. Even Stalin is against that. You should acquaint yourself with Stalin’s thoughts and writings on the subject.’ Before she returned to her other guests, she put her arm around Sarah and, with tears in her eyes, said, ‘Be well. If everything goes well with you, it will go well for all Jews everywhere… after that conversation with us, Ivy Molotov had been arrested, and how earlier that day, we had watched the military parade in Red Square. I had so envied the Russians all those weapons on display – the tiniest fraction of which was beyond our means – and, as if he read my thoughts, Molotov had raised a glass of vodka to me later and said, ‘Don’t think we got those in a single day. The time will come when you, too, will have these things. It will all be all right.” (10)
Because there was some perceived ideological overlap between parts of the Zionist movement and the Soviet Union’s ideology, there was a hope that Israel might emerge as not just friendly to the Soviet Union, but as a satellite country, similar to the Eastern European people’s democracies. In this way, Israel could help not only break up the imperialist encirclement on the Soviet southern flank, but an Israeli people’s democracy could also become a southern buffer against imperialist attack.
The Arab world suffered in more ways than one. The Zionist war led to the racist, apartheid state of Israel. The genocide against the Palestinians continues. Israel has become the right hand of imperialism in the Middle East. Israel is on the front lines suppressing resistance movements and regimes on behalf of the First World. Israel is a kind of permanent, giant aircraft and troop carrier in the troubled region, always ready to do battle with the people. Recently, Israel has been called on to check Iran’s growing power in the region. In addition, in almost every large region of the Third World there have been communist or nominally communist parties that seized state power: Asia, Latin America, Africa, all had genuine Marxist or nominally Marxist movements seize power. Even though the Arab world is very large, spreading over the whole of northern Africa and much of the Middle East, very few Marxist or nominally Marxist movements have gained any real significance. Conditions there are not fundamentally different than in other Third World countries. In the Middle East, nationalism, Baathism, and Islamic movements have, for the most part, led the concrete anti-imperial struggle, not Marxists nor revisionists. There was South Yemen’s pro-Soviet regime and forces in Oman connected to Yemen, but, on the whole, both real Marxism and revisionism have lacked strength in the Arab world. Even though Stalin changed his policy toward Israel in the following years, the international communist movement suffered from Stalin’s error.
During World War 2, Stalin’s regime had to resurrect Russian nationalism as a way of motivating the people to fight the Nazi invader. This carried over into the post-war years. Stalin’s Israel policy placed Russo-Soviet national or imperial interest above the interests of the global proletariat, including the Palestinians who were suffering an invasion by a racist enemy that eventually led to occupation and depopulation. Stalin placed the narrow geopolitical concerns of the Soviet Union as a country above the international proletariat. Even if Stalin was able to win Israel to his side on a more permanent basis, it should have been obvious that support for such an invasion and occupation would taint communism in the eyes of the Arab people. Stalin’s approach does not calculate in the agency and potential of the Arab people, a poor and colonized people. Instead of the masses making history, in such a worldview, geopolitical machinations by powerful states make history. Stalin was looking too much to powerful states, not class struggle as the motor of history. In the case of Israel, the Soviet outlook does not seem totally different from those of the Western imperialists. No matter what superpower won, the Arabs lost.
Other changes were afoot in the Soviet Union. The Soviet regime edged toward traditionalism in gender and culture during and after World War 2. Traditional roles were recommended to women again in Soviet art. After World War 2, for example, a genre about overambitious wives who neglect their children develops in Soviet literature. The Soviet support for Israel is another indicator of regression. Soviet foreign policy seems to be operating, in this case, according to the national interests of the Russo-Soviet state, not the global proletariat. The fight for communism appears to be taking a back seat both domestically and in foreign policy.
Maoist China split with the Soviet Union over its imperialist policies after Khrushchev delivered his famous “secret speech” criticizing Stalin at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on February 25, 1956. Mao used Stalin as a battering ram against Khrushchev’s domestic capitalism and imperialist foreign policy. However, these tendencies that Mao so criticized pre-dated Khrushchev’s rise to power. Even though Mao posed as an orthodox Stalinist to criticize Khrushchev, the reality is that the these tendencies began to arise under Stalin’s watch. Interestingly, Stalin’s inner circle – Molotov, Malenkov, and Beria – all moved for a less confrontational Soviet foreign policy after Stalin’s death. At Stalin’s funeral, Malenkov unveiled a “peace initiative.” “There are no contested issues in U.S.-Soviet relations that cannot be resolved by peaceful means.” (11) The idea of “peaceful coexistence” between the Soviet bloc and the United States was mainly blamed on Khrushchev by the Maoists. This was one of the main reasons for the Sino-Soviet split. The claim that the contradiction between socialism and imperialism is non-antagonistic is thoroughly revisionist. Thus the Maoists correctly identified Khrushchev as a social imperialist. By the Khrushchev era, the Soviet state was really imperialist even if claimed to be socialist. When Mao’s own revolution went off the rails in the 1970s, Mao too began to place China’s narrow interest above that of the international proletariat. This is why Mao began to align with the West. This is why Mao aligned with the West in Angola, Bangladesh, Chile, etc. Just as such policies discredited the Soviet Union as it slid into revisionism, they also discredited Mao in the 1970s. Nationalism has proven a big danger to socialist regimes.
Leaders often play important, decisive roles. Leaders are often representatives of and concentrations of great social forces. Great leaders, great geniuses, great warriors, can be indispensable. Even so, the analysis of history has to go beyond leaders. We should not organize our analysis of revolution and counter-revolution around a hero and villain. To do so is really just a version of what Marx criticized as the Great Man Theory of History. A truly scientific, materialist approach to history is looks beneath the surface. It is important to be honest with the masses. It is important to tell the truth, to have a real scientific attitude, about past revolutions. We are initiating the next great wave of revolution. It is important that we go further than all past revolutions. It is necessary that we achieve total revolution, Leading Light Communism. Only through a scientific account of the history of revolution can we really understand the errors of the past so that we can avoid them the next time we have power.
Friedrich Engels stated, “without theory, practice is blind.” Dogmatism blinds the people. It keeps the masses ignorant. Those who espouse dogma show a basic lack of trust in the masses. The masses can handle the truth. They are waiting for it. They demand it. Leading Light Communism is about rejecting all dogma. It is about advancing the science, pure and simple. It is about advancing the science in an all-round way, in history, in political economy, in aesthetics and culture, in power struggle, in military science, in constructing communism, in epistemology, and on and on. The proletariat must be given the weapons they need to liberate themselves, not dull knives, but sharp blades. Open your eyes. There is a new breakthrough, a new science, a new organization, a new leadership capable of leading us to victory. It is not about individuals. It is about the science, the masses, and the Earth. There is a way to victory.
1. MIM. MIM Theory: The Stalin Issue. MIM. 1994 p. 43
2. ibid. p. 45
3. Meir, Golda, My Life. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. New York, USA: 1975 pp. 230-231
There are many characteristics of the New Power of the Leading Light, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The New Power is the collection of revolutionary institutions created to replace the Old Power, the bourgeois state, institutions of civil society, etc. Leading Light states:
“Marx wrote that the old society is pregnant with the new. The New Power is, in part, the new state in miniature that arises within the old society. For awhile, both the Old Power and New Power exist side by side, which is why Lenin called this phenomenon “dual power.” The New Power is composed of independent institutions of the oppressed. The New Power includes the network of people’s institutions led by the Communist Party that rise up within the old society to challenge the Old Power. All of these institutions are directed by communist leadership to battle for hegemony with and, eventually, sweep away and displace the Old Power. In Lenin’s time, the main organs of the New Power were the Soviets, or worker’s councils. The Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, rejected the call to participate in a coalition government within the old state. Instead they demanded ‘All power to the Soviets!’”
The institutions that make up the New Power must move toward and aim at Leading Light Communism, the end of all systematic oppression. To achieve this the New Power has to be led by the most advanced revolutionary science. This means that the New Power is led by the Leading Light. These are important features of the New Power. However, there are other important aspects of the New Power. The New Power is a state of a new type in miniature. And, as Lenin pointed out, all states by their nature are instruments of class rule. All states have a dictatorial aspect whether they are outwardly democratic or authoritarian. Thus the New Power is an instrument of class rule. It is an instrument by which one class oppresses another. The New Power is a weapon that the proletariat wields against the reactionary classes. Mao quoting Lenin:
“Why did Lenin speak of exercising dictatorship over the bourgeoisie? This question must be thoroughly understood. ‘Lack of clarity on this question will lead to revisionism. This should be made known to the whole nation.’”
One of the underlying themes of revisionist literature is the denial of the necessity of the New Power, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, as an instrument of class rule by which the proletariat protects and advances the revolution against reactionary classes. A common theme of revisionism is rejecting the need to destroy exploiting and oppressing classes as classes, destroying Old Power. A common theme of revisionism is to deny this aspect of the New Power in favor of collaboration with the class enemy.
The New Power should be understood as the most advanced scientific rule by those social groups that have a material interest in the elimination of all systematic oppression. The New Power is the most scientific rule by those social groups with an interest in Leading Light Communism over those that do not. While it may be true that all humans, conceived in the abstract, have an interest in ending all oppression, the reality is that humans are situated in social structures, in the here and now. Aristotle famously stated that humans are social animals. The human experience is always already situated in society, mediated by society. Thus individuals occupy very different positions in existing social hierarchies. An individual’s social position tends to determine the potential range of an individual’s behavior. People with wealth and power tend to seek to preserve the system that has given them wealth and power. For the rich and powerful to seek to preserve and expand their position and power is for them to be class consciousness. When they act to preserve or increase their position, they are acting in accordance with their class interest. At times, those without wealth and power can also seek to preserve the power of their exploiters and oppressors. However, in such cases, the poor are acting against their own class interests. Therefore, when the poor act to preserve the system, they have false consciousness because they are acting against the interests of those in similar social positions. False consciousness amongst the poor is very common because they lack education, organization and proletarian leadership. The exploited and oppressed are taught that the system is just and necessary. Even so, because the poor are exploited and oppressed, they have less interest in maintaining the system. The poor, as a group, can be motivated for revolution in a way that the wealthy cannot be. The poor can be mobilized to fight for their class interest for revolution. This is why the proletariat, the global poor, is the social base for revolution just as the bourgeoisie, the global wealthy, is not. The job of the Leading Light Communist is to advance the class consciousness of the global poor, to give them to tools to liberate themselves, to arm the poor with revolutionary organization and science, to build New Power, to serve and lead the people.
The revisionist rhetoric from Kautsky to Khrushchev to Liu Shaoqi to Deng Xiaoping, in various ways, rejects the class nature of power, especially state power. Instead, the revisionist downplays or outright rejects the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, the New Power, as an instrument of class rule over the exploiters and oppressors. Their rhetoric states or implies an abandoning of the goal of communism in favor of a dictatorship of the whole people, of all social classes. Instead of advocating proletarian New Power to eliminate all class, they advance the position that all social classes can live in harmony, that the contradictions between social groups can all be mediated through the state, and, ultimately, through themselves. Lenin criticized the outlook of the social democrats that sought to eliminate contradictions within their own countries by cannibalizing other countries through imperialist war. Later, fascists would adopt a similar view to the social-democratic imperialists of Lenin’s day. They saw the state, as an expression of nation, as standing above social conflict, above class struggle. Mao identified a new type of bourgeoisie that had arisen in the Soviet Union and China to reverse the revolution. This new bourgeoisie expressed itself in similar terms. They tended to see themselves as a technocratic, managerial elite above class struggle. Whatever their self-conceptions and rhetoric, the reality is that their rhetoric is an expression of class struggle by the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. They restored capitalism by neutralizing and suppressing class struggle by the exploited and oppressed in the name of social harmony. They rejected the state as an instrument of class war. The revisionists did not do so openly at first. They sought to mask their bourgeois nature. Later, after their counter-revolutions were completed and capitalism restored in the Soviet Union and China, the revisionists openly declared their capitalist sympathies. However, at first, they “waved the red flag to oppose the red flag.” In order to expose revisionism, it is necessary to see through its many disguises. Study the past.
The first eight words of Mao’s Selected Works are: “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?” Mao called the question of friends and enemies the question of first importance for revolutionaries. To answer this question incorrectly can transform a communist into a fascist. To answer it incorrectly can turn a servant of the people into a servant of Empire. To answer it incorrectly can lead to a rejection of the New Power, of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, in favor of the bourgeoisie. Today, First Worldism is one of the main forms of revisionism. First Worldism intersects with almost all other forms of revisionism. Two of the most common and poisonous revisionist forms are First Worldist feminism and First Worldist workerism. Both fail to understand the correct balance of forces in the world. First Worldists answer the question of friends and enemies incorrectly. Thus, like the revisionists of old, they end up rejecting class struggle by the real proletariat in the Third World in favor of social unities that do not exist. They end up serving the bourgeoisie in its attempts to neutralize class struggle by the proletariat. The First Worldists dumbly claim that a basis for unity exists between most First World and most Third World peoples even though all evidence points to the contrary. They agitate on behalf of “all workers” without pointing to the fact that First World workers have long ceased to be part of the proletariat, that they have long entered the ranks of the bourgeoisie. First World workers are really just a First World working bourgeoisie. First Worldists agitate on behalf of “all women,” which mostly means First World women, without pointing out that the privilege of First World women is to a large degree a result of the imperialist, semi-feudal, patriarchal oppression of Third World women and men. First Worldists do not advocate the New Power of the proletariat of the Third World over the First World. They do not advocate for a reduction of First World privilege and power. Instead, they advocate more privilege and power for enemy classes, more privilege and power for most First World peoples. In the real world, this means a tightening of the screws on Third World peoples, including Third World workers, Third World women and men. When First Worldists agitate on behalf of the working bourgeoisie of the First World or the First World gender aristocracy, they are agitating for more privilege and power to those who already have more than their fair, equal share on the global level. They agitate for those whole lifestyles and privilege are incompatible not only with socialism, but incompatible with planetary survival. Some First Worldists tell their audiences in the First World that they are entitled to their wasteful consumerist lifestyles. Other First Worldists teach they are entitled to more “alternative lifestyles,” “community,” “gardens,” “wild spaces,” counter-culture, etc. This isn’t to say it is always wrong to agitate around “alternative lifestyles,” “community,” “gardens,” “wild spaces,” counter-culture, etc. However, such agitation must be done so under Leading Light leadership, within the context of Global People’s War, with politics firmly in command. Such agitation has to be done in the context of strengthening the New Power and reduction of First World entitlement. Despite superficial differences in style amongst First Worldists, they all agitate on behalf of First World groups for more entitlement. Whether it is a shopping mall or a hippy commune, both exist on Indigenous land, both exist within the context of Empire. Agitating for more First World entitlement implies more imperialism against the Third Word to prop up the diverse range of lifestyle options for First World peoples. Whatever the intentions of the First Worldists, they objectively advocate for less for Third World peoples, including the vast majority of those who work and the vast majority of women. And what happens when the small pockets of First Worldist sects and collectives cannot deliver on their utopian promises to raise everyone’s boat globally? Those they politicized, the lower and middle strata in the First World, will turn to those who may deliver the promise to increase First World privileges. First World lower and middle strata will back their own overlords in yet more imperialist policies and wars in order to receive the increase in power and privilege that the First Worldists have claimed they so deserve. Similarly, First World women align over and over with First World men against both Third World women and men. Just as First World workers have been transformed into a labor aristocracy, a type of new bourgeoisie, due to imperialism, so too have First World women been transformed into a global gender aristocracy, an aristocracy made up of First World men and First World women that align against Third World men and Third World women. In whatever forms they take, the social-democratic expansion of life options in the First World is connected to the restriction of life options in the Third World. Expressions of First Worldism in the First World are always expressions of Empire:
“There is the socially conservative fascism of the Nazis and there is the social fascism that disguises itself as ‘left,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘social-democratic,’ ‘socialist,’ ‘communist,’ ‘feminist,’ etc… The Leading Light is about ending all oppression, including all gender and sexual oppression. However, one does not fight gender oppression globally by creating a happier empire, by creating more privilege in the First World, by smoothing over contradictions among First World enemies. Unless such work is providing some service to the Leading Light such activism simply becomes another face of the system.”
First Worldism has many faces. First Worldists can be more openly fascist or they can be wolves in sheep’s clothing. First Worldism has many flags, the pink or rainbow flag of liberal Empire and the black flag of traditionalism. They can even wrap themselves up in red, leftism, humanism, utopianism, hippy and new-age counterculture, etc. Mao warned us of those who “wave the red flag to oppose the red flag.” Regardless, First Worldism of all colors is reactionary. First Worldism rejects the New Power of the proletariat in favor of advancing class enemies. It is yet another face of the Old Power. Ultimately, First Worldists deny that an antagonistic contradiction exists between the First World and Third World, between the First World working bourgeoisie versus Third World workers. They deny that an antagonistic contradiction exists between First World women versus Third World women. First Worldism rejects class struggle in favor of non-existent social unities. Whatever the First Worldist intentions, the result is imperialism. By contrast, the New Power of the Leading Light is an instrument of proletarian rule. The New Power is an expression of the Global People’s War by the Leading Light against the First World and its agents. The New Power will be imposed on the First World whether the people of the First World desire it or not. The New Power is an instrument of global equality and sustainability. The New Power is a weapon to abolish the wealth and power of the First World. The New Power is an instrument of rule by the global proletariat over its enemies. The New Power fights against the First World as a whole, including the global bourgeoisie and gender aristocracy. As Marx stated, “the proletariat cannot achieve victory without breaking the resistance of the bourgeoisie, without forcibly suppressing its enemies.” Today, this means breaking the resistance of the First World as a whole, including the First World working bourgeoisie, First World men and women. The New Power of the Leading Light is a mighty weapon to elevate the Third World in its struggle against exploitation and oppression.
A letter from a reader: Do all Americans live like Bill Gates?
We received the following letter:
“I do not agree with the positions of Leading Light
At the time of Marx sub continent was a colony of British Imperialism. Many other Asian countries along with Afrcian and Latin American countries were colonies of European Imperialist Countries. But there was also exploitation going on in Britain , France , Holland and other world powers.
Marx condemned this Imperialist exploitation along with the exploitation of workers inside those European countries and raised the slogan of “workers of the world unite!”
At the time of Lenin difference between First and Third world was also there. Russia was a backward country whereas Germany , Britain , USA etc. were advanced capitalist countries. But Lenin always emphasized the role of International unity of working class.
Lenin and Trotsky built Third International which was also called Communist International or Comintern. In which comrades from all countries around the world were welcome.
If we will condemn the workers of advanced countries or consider them same as capitalists and Imperialists then we will make a big blunder theoretically.
There is a big class divide even in advance capitalist countries of West. There are billionaires and there are people who live in poverty. Many live in difficult economic conditions.
Though these conditions are much better than those in backward countries but how can one say that there is no class divide exist in USA , Britain , France .
Does all people in USA live like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey etc? No”
Thank you for raising important issues. True revolutionary scientists, Leading Light Communists, do not fear debate. True revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism, is an all-powerful weapon that can solve the problems facing humanity and our planet today. We thank you for having the courage to engage with new scientific breakthroughs. Dogma must be left behind if we are to really win. The exploiters, their intellectuals and intelligence agencies, have been perfecting the science of oppression. To defeat the oppressors, we must perfect the science of revolution. It is absolutely imperative that we spread Leading Light consciousness amongst the masses.
There are several points that need to be addressed.
1. It is true that Marx witnessed the birth of earlier phases of imperialism. Marx commented on the crimes of imperialism across the world, in places as diverse as Ireland and India. Also, Marx raised the slogan “workers of the world unite!” in the Manifesto. Even so, just because Marx raised a particular slogan does not make it true. Similarly, just because Lenin and Mao asserted something does not make it true. Marx, Lenin, and Mao were not infallible gods. Marxism is not religion. True Marxism is not simply what Marx said. True Marxism, today Leading Light Communism, is the most advanced form of revolutionary science. True Marxism, Leading Light Communism, is applying the most advanced science to the problem of ending all oppression. Real scientists do not appeal to Marx the way that Christians appeal to the Bible. Just because Marx called on all wage earners to unite a century and a half ago does not make such a slogan eternally true. Just because something may have been true then does not make it true now. It is important to elevate science, not metaphysics.
Marx raised that slogan a century and a half ago when the world was very different. Marx looked at the trends he witnessed in Western Europe at the time, especially industrial England. He saw that as England was industrializing, two great classes were emerging: the capitalist class and the class of wage earners. Marx identified the latter class as the proletariat of his day. In the Manifesto, Marx projected that this pattern would be repeated globally. As it turns out, the world developed in more complex ways. In his more scientific works, like Capital Vol. 3, Marx began to note that all workers did not have the same relationship to the means of production. Even in Capital, Vol. 1, Marx speaks of “how industrial revulsions affect even the best-paid, the aristocracy, of the working-class.” In addition, Engels, toward the end of his life, noted that imperialism had a profound impact on the class structure of what would become the First World. For example, Lenin quotes Engels as early as 1858 as stating:
“The English proletariat is becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy, and a bourgeois proletariat as well as a bourgeoisie. For a nation which exploits the whole world, this is, of course, to a certain extent justifiable.”
Arguing with the social-imperialist revisionist Kautsky, Engels stated:
“You ask me what the English workers think about colonial policy? Well exactly the same as they think about politics in general. There is no workers’ party here, there are only Conservatives and Liberal Radicals, and the workers merrily share the feast of England’s monopoly of the colonies and the world market.”
Lenin too noted changes in class structure resulting from imperialism:
“Imperialism has the tendency to create privileged sections also among the workers, and to detach them from the broad masses of the proletariat.” (1)
China’s great Maoist general Lin Biao pointed to important transformations in the global system since World War 2:
“Taking the entire globe, if North America and Western Europe can be called ‘the cities of the world’, then Asia, Africa and Latin America constitute ‘the rural areas of the world’. Since World War II, the proletarian revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries, while the people’s revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been growing vigorously. In a sense, the contemporary world revolution also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas. In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.” (2)
Great Marxists of the past stated many things. At times, they noted the tendency of imperialism to transform some workers into a new type of bourgeoisie. At other times, they made statements contradicting this. Other writers have also noted the effect of imperialism on the class structure of the First World. However, the Leading Light was the first to fully understand and synthesize global class analysis scientifically. It is not important to list all the quotes one way or another. Reality is what important, not what Marx, Engels, Lenin, or Mao may have said. It is important to realize that, in the case of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, they were writing at a time when the First World had not fully formed as the First World. The different statements in their work reflect the transitory period of the time in which they wrote. Today, there are imperialist countries of the First World, like the United States, that lack a significant proletariat. There are also imperialist, semi-imperialist, and emerging imperialist countries that retain a significant proletariat as Russia did in 1917. It may have been correct in Marx’s day to raise the slogan “workers of the world unite!” even in imperialist countries. However, it does not apply to today’s First World.
2. When Marx described the proletariat, the modern revolutionary agent, in his day, he was describing the emerging industrial worker in Europe. Marx described the proletariat as only making enough to reproduce his own labor from day to day. Marx described a class that was only paid enough to survive, not enough to accumulate. Marx described the proletariat as having no other income source but its labor. Marx described a producer class. Marx described an exploited class. Marx described a class that toiled in misery, a class that “has nothing to lose but its chains.” Marx described it as a revolutionary class. Even if we were to accept Marx’s description of the modern revolutionary social base, the proletariat, as religious scripture, Marx’s characterization of the proletariat would not describe most workers in the United States and other First World countries. Firstly, most workers in the United States do not produce. Most are employed in management, services, and distribution. Industrial production has been in decline for a long time in the United States. The value that props up the economy of the United States is mostly created outside the United States. Just as the traditional bourgeoisie is parasitic, so too does the working bourgeoisie of the First World receive its income through exploitation of the Third World. Secondly, the First World working bourgeoisie often receives income and wealth from sources other than its labor. Many earn interest on bank accounts, receive social-democratic benefits, own stock — often through retirement plans, own small businesses, etc. They are not the simple worker that Marx described. Thirdly, they are not exploited in any significant sense. They currently earn more than they would under an equal system, a socialist system. Their lifestyle of consumption isn’t even ecologically sustainable. They would lose out under socialism, materially speaking. Fourthly, they do not toil in absolute misery as Marx described. They usually work in relatively comfortable environments. They earn vacation time. Their experience and lifestyle are closer to their own bosses than they are to the average Third World person. Fifthly, they have far more to lose than their chains. Sixthly, there is a whole history that confirms that the working bourgeoisie of the First World aligns more with its own overlords than with the proletariat of the Third World. They are not a revolutionary strata.
3. You ask the question whether all people in the USA live like Bill Gates? Does the man who makes a billion dollars (83,272,800,000 BDT) live the same as the man who makes a million (83,272,800 BDT)? Does the man who makes a million dollars (83,272,800 BDT) a year live as the man who makes 60,000 (4,910,000 BDT) dollars a year? Of course not. There is a great deal of stratification amongst exploiters (and exploited) everywhere. This is true in the First World also. A billionaire receives more of the social surplus than a millionaire. This does not mean that the millionaire is exploited. A millionaire receives more of the social surplus than a man who makes 100,000 (8,327,280 BDT) dollars a year. This does not mean the man who makes 100,000 dollars (8,327,280 BDT) a year is exploited. A person who makes 30,000 dollars (2,498,000 BDT) a year is not exploited either. The average person in the United States is not exploited either:
“The average ‘Joe American,’ who is 25 or older, has an income of 32,000 dollars (2,665,000 BDT) per year. By contrast, most people in the world barely survive on less than 1,000 dollars (83,000 BDT) a year. For example, there are more people in India who make under a dollar a day than there are people residing in the United States. With his high income, the average Joe has access to luxuries and a lifestyle that is far out of reach for most people in the world. With this income a decent house, a car, a computer, stereos, a modern kitchen, swimming pools, education, vacation travel, entertainment, investments, are all within reach of Joe. Joe earns far in excess the value of his labor. With this income, Joe has more access to capital than many capitalists in the Third World. Joe earns far in excess of the amount that would be entailed by an egalitarian distribution of the social product worldwide. In other words, socialism would entail a big pay cut for Joe. He would lose most of his income according to a global, socialist distribution of income. He would lose his American lifestyle under socialism. In other words, Joe has about as much interest in socialism as the imperialist bourgeoisie. And he knows it, which is why again and again Joe lines up with his own bourgeoisie against the Third World.
According to the myth, Joe is a blue-collar worker… The reality is different. The average Joe holds a white-collar office job. These jobs are not the backbreaking, body-wrecking, life-ending jobs that many in the Third World endure. By comparison, Joe’s job is incredibly high paying, comfortable, with short hours and long breaks. The culture associated with this kind of job has less in common with the work culture of the proletariat of the Third World, and more in common with the work culture of the bourgeoisie. Also, Joe does not identify himself with the global proletariat, those Marx described as ‘having nothing to lose but their chains.’ It is more common that Joe identifies himself with the imperial bourgeoisie.” (3)
We do not oversimplify. Even though the poorest working people in the United States are within the richest 15 percent globally, pockets of genuine poverty and exploitation do exist in the First World, especially amongst the homeless, migrants, drug addicts, etc. However, these pockets of poverty and exploitation tend to be unstable, scattered, and small. They do not provide a significant social base capable of making revolution in the First World. These pockets are surrounded by class enemies. In addition, because of class mobility in the First World, even the most impoverished tend to align with the system rather than against it. Asking people to make revolution is asking them to make sacrifice. It is asking them to risk losing their home, family, and life. Even the poorest in the United States have too much to gain by aligning with capitalism-imperialism. Revolution is the hope of the hopeless. Even amongst the most impoverished in the First World, too much hope remains.
There is only so much value created in the world. The vast majority of people in the First World earn more than the value of their labor. In other words, they directly and indirectly appropriate value from others. They are exploiters. The vast majority of the population in the First World would lose out under an equal distribution of the global social product, under a sustainable socialist system. This is true of both the traditional bourgeoisie and the working bourgeoisie in the First World. Organizing the First World working bourgeoisie around their immediate and mid-term economic interests, organizing around their class interest, is organizing them to secure a bigger piece of the global social product. It is organizing them for a bigger piece of the global pie. However, both the traditional bourgeoisie and working bourgeoisie of the First World already receive more than their fair share due to imperialism. To dangle the carrot of more wealth in front of First World peoples is to agitate for more imperialism. The Third World pays the price. In addition, the vast majority of the population in the First World have lifestyles that are unsustainable. The bourgeois way of life that most First World people enjoy cannot be maintained forever. The planet simply cannot endure such a parasitic way of life forever. The vast majority of First Word people would see their incomes and wealth reduced under socialism. The global bourgeoisie, including most First World people, as a class have no economic interest in socialism.
Generally speaking, organizing First World peoples along economic lines is a characteristic of fascism and social-fascism, not genuine socialism. Both traditional fascism and social-fascism are an alignment of social forces where the lower bourgeoisie puts pressure on the upper bourgeoisie in order to secure a better deal for itself. The upper bourgeoisie enters into this arrangement with the lower bourgeoisie in the First World in exchange for social stability in the First World and to launch attacks on the global proletariat in the Third World. Since the upper bourgeoisie’s main source of income is imperialist exploitation, increasing the lot of the lower bourgeoisie in the First World usually means an increase in imperialist exploitation of the Third World. Fascism in the First World can take on two varieties. It can appear as traditional, conservative, rightist. Or, it can appear social-democratic, liberal, socialist, communist, leftist. This latter form often “waves the red flag to oppose the red flag.” The latter form is social-imperialism or social-fascism. Currently, there is a resurgence of fascism and social-fascism in the First World due to the economic crisis. The Occupy protests in the United States, for example, do not aim at global socialism or communism. They do not aim to return the wealth stolen by the United States to the Indigenous peoples of North America and Third World peoples. The Occupy protests aim to protect the imperial standard of living of the lower bourgeoisie in the United States. The Occupy movement is contradictory and diverse, but its overall direction is social-democratic and social-imperialist. This is repeated over and over in the First World. Almost all revisionist parties, all First Worldist parties, are social-fascist in some aspects. By contrast, Leading Light Communists do not advocate for more wealth for the First World. Leading Light Communists advocate true equality and sustainability. For true equality and sustainability, for true socialism, for Leading Light Communism to exist, the First World way of life and the First World must cease to exist as it has. In the First World, the Leading Light organizes First World peoples not for their class interests, but against their class interest to stand with the exploited and oppressed in the Third World. The Leading Light organizes for true global equality and sustainability, not more privilege and consumption for the First World. Leading Lights in the First World advocate a healthier life that is based on global equality and sustainability. Since most First World peoples are class enemies at present, most will reject the communist message.
4. The Third International or “Comintern” welcomed all comrades of all countries. This is the correct line. Politics should be in command, not identity. There are true communists in the First World just as there are true communists in the Third World. Just because the First World as a whole is bourgeois does not mean that true communists do not exist there. Engels was one of the Leading Lights of his day. He came from a bourgeois background. Marx too was not a traditional proletarian. He was from an intellectual background. Lenin was trained as a lawyer. Mao was a privileged peasant who was able to go to school in the city. Che Guevara was trained as a medical doctor. Many of the greatest revolutionary leaders had access to bourgeois education. They had access to the world of science. They also had a foot in the world of the masses. They were bridges, conduits. The most advanced ideas of science passed through them to the masses. They forged ideological weapons that could be wielded by the masses. There are many First Worldist revisionists in the Third World just as there are many First Worldist revisionists in the First World. Also, there are Leading Light Communists, true communists, who are from the First World just as there are Leading Lights from the Third World. The criterion for whether one is a member of the true communist movement is not whether one is rich or poor, First World or Third World, etc. The criterion is whether or not one upholds the most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism. Leading Light Communism is what it means to be a true communist today. Politics in command. Leading Light Communism in command.
5. There is no scientific reason to claim that the working bourgeoisie of the First World and the workers of the Third World are the same class in any meaningful sense. There is no real evidence to suggest that there is potential for a revolutionary alignment amongst these groups; there is no evidence they share material interests. There is little history of genuine solidarity of any kind. Again and again, the First World working bourgeoisie aligns with its own traditional bourgeoisie in support of the capitalist-imperialist system. Again and again, it aligns against the Third World. The First World working bourgeoisie has far more in common with those above it than they do with the vast majority of humanity in the Third World. Real science is not dogma. Science is about predicting and explaining the world. First Worldism generates false predictions over and over about the revolutionary potential in the First World. It does not explain the real world. First Worldism is fantasy. Leading Light Communism, by contrast, predicts and explains how people actually align and potentially align. Reality is the basis of science, not what Marx may or may not have said.
The world is much different than Marx described in the Manifesto. Not all those who are paid a wage or salary are revolutionary or potentially revolutionary. Even CEOs are employees of big corporations. They receive a salary, but that does not make them revolutionary. Police earn salaries yet are some of the biggest defenders of the system. The same can be said of management even though they earn wages or salaries. This has long been recognized by revolutionaries. This point can be extended to most First World people as a whole. The First World working bourgeoisie has far more in common in terms of its interests, culture and lifestyle with those above it than with those below it. Many First World working bourgeoisie have more access to capital than many capitalists in the Third World. They have access to capital in the form of loans, credit, homes, land, cars, etc. Just because they happen to earn a wage or salary does not make them revolutionary. Some, not all, earn more than capitalists in the Third World. In addition, ownership in the modern world is not as simple as it was in Marx’s time. Maoists began to discuss a new type of bourgeoisie that emerged in China within the Communist Party. It was not as though Liu Shaopqi or Deng Xiaoping literally owned factories. Yet Mao still called them a new bourgeoisie. Earlier, Lenin began to discuss the role of banks in the socialization of ownership across the bourgeoisie. Today, this socialization has democratized in various ways in the First World. Many of those who work in the First World buy stocks in corporations or own them through retirement plans. They earn interest on their bank accounts from their bank’s investments, exploitation of the global poor. They receive social-democratic benefits and the benefits of their state’s imperialist adventures. Many of those who work in the First World also own small businesses. The person who works in the First World is not the worker or proletarian that Marx described. There has been a kind of socialization of wealth across First World society. What makes First World affluence possible is imperialism, the impoverishment of the Third World. This is why there are never any real, significant socialist movements in the First World. This is why there is no history of real revolution, even though there is a long history of fascism and social-fascism. This is why there is a long history of social democracy, but no socialism.
Real communists represent the exploited, not the exploiters. They represent those who have a material interest in socialism, not those who have an interest in capitalism-imperialism. The world’s resources are not infinite. For the Third World to be equal, the First World must reduce its standard of living. Real communists do not stand for inequality; they do not stand for the preservation of the First World and continuation of exploitation. Real communists stand for global equality and sustainability, not for the continuation of First World privilege and mindless consumption. We do not stand for the continuation of the imperialist, unsustainable, consumerist, First World, American way of life. We stand for a healthier, simpler, funner, more colorful, more intelligent, more heroic way of life. Leading Lights stand with the global poor who are overwhelmingly concentrated in the Third World. Leading Lights serve the people.
Saying Marx said so is no argument, especially since Marx’s real views are not as simple as they have been presented in your letter. If we are really to make revolution, we must look at reality, not dogma. We are raising the scientific bar. The way forward is clear. Leading Light Communism is the weapon of the most advanced revolutionary science. Armed with Leading Light Communism, led by the Leading Light, the masses will wipe away the old world. Down the First World and its agents! Up the poor peoples of the Third World! Global People’s War of the Leading Light! Our day will come.
Leading Light Communist Organization
June 28, 2012
[This is an old article that was originally published about 5-7 years ago. It shows some of the development of our political economy.]
Global Inequality Versus Socialist Equality
An approach to economics centered on equality as a regulative idea is in no way contrary to approaches that center around the mechanics of exploitation. It is not necessarily contrary to the labor theory of value or the theories of unequal exchange. Putting equality at the forefront also does not commit us to the kind of ultra-egalitarianism that Mao Zedong famously criticized. Obviously, there are certain cases where some inequalities are necessary and, even, desirable. It does demand that we act to greatly reducing the gaps between wealthy and poor populations, especially the gaps between the First and Third World. Equality demands the global social product be distributed evenly amongst the world’s population as best as possible.
Some might object that a socialist distribution is not an egalitarian distribution. Rather, a socialist distribution is one where wealth is spread out, not evenly, but to those who do the work and those countries who do the work: she who does not work, shall not eat. Whereas some have argued that the labor theory of value is necessary for explaining the mechanics of exploitation, the distribution principle associated with it is not adequate to rectify the problem of inequality between countries that has been generated by imperialism. Such a distribution principle does not address the problem of underdevelopment. Surely populations in the most underdeveloped parts of the Third World, that have been rendered unproductive by imperialism, should not continue to remain in dire poverty under a global socialism. Whole countries of the “industrial reserve army” in the Third World may not currently be productive, but should not resources and development be directed to such populations under socialism? According to demographers, for the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population is living in cities. The new “global countryside,” the base areas of the Global People’s Wars, will include the slums of Third World megacities. These slums are less sites for production then blights that show just how capitalism’s anarchy of production has failed to bring huge segments of the human population into production. Surely socialism must speak to these vast populations that will be the people’s warriors in the decades to come.
The global economy is a causal nexus where value in various forms is transferred around the globe from one person to another. So, if one person is receiving more than an equal share, then somebody else is receiving less somewhere in the causal nexus. Likewise, if someone is receiving less, someone else is receiving more. Imperialism has created a world order where those who receive less and those who receive more correspond to populations in the Third World and First World respectively. Using equality as a regulative idea, one should be regarded as exploited when one does not receive an equal, a fair, a just share. One is an exploiter when one receives more than an equal, a fair, a just share. A country or region is exploited, is part of the Third World, when its population is largely made up the exploited who have less than an equal share. A country or region should be regarded as part of the First World when its population is largely made up of exploiters who have more than an equal share. (1)
A quick look at global inequality
The income gap between the wealthy, imperialist countries and the poor countries of the global countryside points to the tremendous parasitism of the former on the latter. The income gap between the fifth of the world’s people in the former and the fifth in the latter was 74 to 1 in 1997, up from 60 to 1 in 1990 and 30 to 1 in 1960.
Now, all of the population of the First World are in the world’s richest 20% by income, which owns more than 85% of the world’s wealth. But if more than 50% of the world’s assets are own by the richest 2% of adults (most of whom live in the First World), the First World majority (less than 20% of the global population) owns 35% of the world’s wealth. 80% of the world’s population must make do with owning 15% of the world’s wealth. This First World monopoly of assets translates into a hugely disproportionate share of world consumption. In the 1998 study cited, 20 percent of the population in the developed nations were reported to consume 86 percent of the world’s goods. This astonishing degree of parasitism is underscored by a more recent 2002 World Bank study that reports that the richest 50 million people in Europe and North America have the same income as 2.7 billion poor people. (2)
After decades of “development” and market liberalisation, structural adjustment programs and Washington Consensus neoliberalism, the average income for the Third World is still only around 15% that of the First World in purchasing power parity terms, and more like 5% in foreign exchange rate terms. (3)
Parasitism is reflected in consumption also. The fifth of the world’s people living in the highest income countries consumed:
86% of the world’s GDP – the bottom fifth just 1%.
82% of the world’s export markets – the bottom fifth just 1%.
68% of foreign direct investment – the bottom fifth just 1%.
74% of the world’s telephone lines – the bottom fifth 1.5%.
93.3% of internet users – the bottom fifth 0.2%.
84% of the world’s paper – the bottom fifth 1.1%.
87% of the world’s vehicles – the bottom fifth less than 1%.
58% of total energy – the bottom fifth 4%. (4)
The majority of the increase in world consumption during the 1990s accrued to those already in the top 10% of world income distribution. Between 1993 and 2001, some 50 to 60% of the increase in world consumption accrued to those living on more than PPP$10,000 1993 – around 10% of the world’s population. For this 10%, 4/5 lived in the high income countries and most of the rest in Latin America. The remaining 40-50% of the increase in world consumption accrued mainly to those living on around PPP$3000-$6000, of whom the majority were in the burgeoning middle class of semi-comprador China. “Hardly any of the increase accrued to those on less than PPP$1000 a year ($2.73 day). Most of the latter lived in South Asia, Africa, and China.” (5)
The First World worker does not gain under an egalitarian distribution of the world’s wealth. If a socialist order existed between peoples and regions, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the First World populations as a whole would lose out in terms of income, assets, life opportunities, etc. Thus the First World worker has little interest in overthrowing the status quo in favor of socialism, in favor of equality.
The revisionist script is a predictable one. Whether the revisionists choose to justify or explain these global disparities in wealth according to “productivity” differences or the protestant work ethic, manifest destiny, white racial superiority or predestination makes not one whit of difference. Like other imperialists, First Worldist revisionists will do all sorts of ideological contortions to justify the current standard of living of First World “workers. ” Not only do they maintain that the current imperial standard of living in the First World is deserved, but that First World workers deserve even more of the global pie. Karl Marx would be spinning in his grave, Lenin too, if they were around to hear these scumbags justifying parasitism in their names. Reality matters. Theory has to match reality, it must predict and explain, it must be scientific if it is to be a guide to action. Leading Light Communism is a set of eye glasses whose lenses allow the masses to see the world as it is. We can stumble around blindly or we can choose reality, revisionism or Leading Light Communism.
In value terms, it is true that the poorest people in the world are often those who are unable to find work and, hence, are not technically exploited. But since exploitation has taken on profound geo-political dimensions after World War II, if a group of people lives in an exploited nation (a nation which turns over the bulk of its surplus value to the First World) and is paid below the international value of labor, then it is exploited and its lumpen status ensures competition for wages drives down their value in their country, contributing to superprofits.
United Nations Human Development Report 1998, ‘Consumption for Human Development’ (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New York 1998) online: http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr1998/
Robert Hunter Wade, ‘Globalisation, Growth, Poverty, Inequality, Resentment, and Imperialism,’ in John Ravenhill, (ed.), Global Political Economy (Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 378.
United Nations Human Development Report 1999, ‘Globalization with a Human Face’, (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New York 1998) online: http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr1999/
Plato’s cave, First and Third World, science and epistemology
1. Thank you for taking time from your important work. Let me start by asking this: You write a lot about the “First” and “Third World.” Can you explain what you mean?
We are not the first to divide up human society into “worlds” or similar entities. When we talk of “worlds,” we are using a shorthand. It’s a kind of functionalist category that we use to explain human behavior and potential behavior at the global level. It is not unlike how we use the concept of “class” to describe the behavior and potential behavior of human aggregates.
There is the view that informed the outlook around the time of the Bandung Conference in 1955 and after. It is a view that divided the world into the Western imperialists, which was a kind of “First World.” Then there was the “Second World” of the socialist camp. Then there was the “Third World” of the colonies, neo-colonies, and poor post-colonies. Later, there is another outlook of the Chinese Communist Party of the Lin Biao era. This outlook divided the world into a “global city,” which was made up of the rich countries and Russia, and a “global countryside,” of the poor countries, including the many of the Russian colonies in Eastern Europe. This was the official outlook of the Chinese Communist Party from about 1965 to 1970. This was when Lin Biao was riding high as Mao Zedong’s successor, vice-Chairman, “closest comrade-in-arms,” “best student,” and so on. Lin Biao was being positioned as the high priest the Mao cult. He, and I am using “he” as a shorthand to really mean “his team,” was to be the main interpreter of Maoism. For various reasons, Lin Biao was murdered as a result of a political struggle. Mao wanted to pull back the revolution in the 1970s. Mao began to align with the West. So, then, there is the outlook of Mao’s “Three Worlds Theory” of the 1970s, after Lin Biao’s death. This was a view that divided countries up by military strength. The “First World” was made up of the powerful imperialists, the United States and Soviet Union. The “Second World” was made up of lesser powers like the European powers and Japan. The “Third World” was made up of the colonies, neo-colonies, and post-colonies. Sometimes people mistakenly think Mao’s main error was his “Three Worlds Theory” because it led to the alliance with the West. This really mistakes things. “Three Worlds Theory” was not guiding Chinese policy. China was shifting rightward in foreign policy years before the theory was introduced. Mao began shifting rightward on this issue even as early as 1968 and 1969, as he was ending the Cultural Revolution. Rather, the theory was a prop. This theory was a kind of window dressing that was used to give the appearance of justification to Mao’s anti-Soviet, pro-Western geopolitics. It was used to run interference on critics from the left. In any case, all these kinds of views are often mixed up with each other, but they are very different. They have very different policies associated with them. And, historically, they were often in opposition to each other.
Our concept of the “First World” and “Third World” is different than all previous usages. Of the previous views, Lin Biao’s is the most accurate, but it still has deficiencies. Firstly, we do not simply apply the concept to just countries. It is because of traditional colonization and the national liberation struggles that many have tended to regard single countries as the basic units of analysis. We see this as not always accurate or the best way to go about things. Some have criticized such a view on the basis that the country borders are artificial. Such borders were often drawn by the imperialists themselves. Some micronationalists have advocated that single nations, not multinational countries, ought be the basic unit of analysis. For example, they will say that the “Black Nation” inside the borders of the country of the United States belongs to a particular world. Or they will say the Maya in Mexico belong to a particular world. Almost all countries today are multi-national ones, so they push the analysis down a level. They tend to think that revolution should happen on a micronational basis, with each nation having its own leadership, perhaps even its own ideology. Their view of a perfect world is one in which all micronations are independent, do not step on each others’ toes, and do not interfere with each other. It is the view associated with racial separatists movements. David Duke, the ex-Klan leader-turned-congressman, has such a view. Some Black and Chicano nationalists have similar views. They may disagree about how the borders are to be drawn or which nation has the right to exist here or there, but the ideologies are similar in their stated goals. It is a view also associated with the fantasy of northern Korean life, although, in reality, northern Korea is very dependent other countries despite its Juche rhetoric of independence and self-sufficiency. It is a view sometimes associated with Third Positionism and “left” fascism. We could call this view “pan-nationalism.” Our view is very different. It does not break humanity down into either countries or micronations. Our view is more in-line with the original Marxist aspiration to overcome artificial barriers dividing humanity. Our ideal is one humanity united by one ideology, revolutionary science, all-powerful, awesome Leading Light Communism. Tactically, we may have to work on a micronational or country-wide basis, but we should always aspire to make revolution in the biggest geographic area as possible at any given time. Thus for us, our basic unit is the Third World as a whole, although we divide that into zones on a practical basis. However, a zone in not based on anything except that it is the biggest area we feel comfortable managing at a particular time. Thus a zone is not as static as a country or nation is. A zone is based more our capabilities than anything else, although, naturally, social geographies play into it that. Our main area of operation is the Bangla Zone, but when we feel comfortable expanding beyond that, there is no reason not to extend our reach into say, Myanmar or the Hindi regions of India. We are also setting up zonal operations elsewhere, but that is deep politics.
Secondly, we base our view on standard of living of a population as a whole. Things like income, consumption levels, etc. give us a good idea about this. In this sense, even though the United States as a whole may be militarily and politically more powerful than, say, Switzerland, the latter is more First World. This is a big difference between our concept and Mao’s, for example. Also, our concept is not necessarily tied to economic or political independence or development, whatever that means. For example, imagine a country whose population is very wealthy, but also very small so that its economy was only based on oil such that it could not defend itself without outside help. So, it was still dependent in important respects. On our view, such a country, perhaps not unlike some Arab Gulf states, is still First World. Thus our view departs a bit from the Bandung inspired view, which tended to lump the one-time colonies, even the wealthy ones, into the same category as their poorer neighbors. Our view is that the Saudis are more similar in terms of interest to the people of the United States than either are to the Palestinians. This is true, even though pan-Arabists will argue that the Saudis and Palestinians are really one nation. This is what we have discussed earlier about how national liberation and similar outlooks were tied to the classic model of colonization that has long since broken down. Thus, we must find new ways to understand the emerging Empire and resistance to it. This is one of the main breakthroughs of today’s revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism.
Thirdly, the traditional concepts of worlds were sharply defined. We do not look at things through the lenses of traditional Aristotelian categories. This also ties into another question. People always ask us about the “Second World.” Our view is that when we talk about the First World and Third World, we are talking about poles on a continuum. Think of a spectrum, a single axis from right to left, with a “1” on the left and a “3” on the right. Some countries, micronations, regions, geographic areas, zone are more First World than others. They fall closer to the “1.” Others are more Third World. They fall closer to the “3.” If one must have a concept of a Second World, then it could occupy a position, perhaps equidistant, between to two poles.
We might represent the United States by a “U” and place it nearer to the “1” than Portugal, which we represent with a “P.” Or, we might represent Switzerland with an “S,” and place it closer to the “1” than the United States. Similarly, we could do the same thing with “C” for Chile, “M” for Mexico, and “B” for Bangladesh.
This model can also be used to compare any unit. It is not limited to countries. Countries can be compared to nations to regions to zones, all can be compared to each other. The model is based on the simple idea of immiseration, those geographic populations closer to the “3” have more potential in terms of being mobilized against the system for revolutionary, socialist, Leading Light Communist change. Those closer to the “1” and farthest from the “3” have less possibility of making revolution. Of course, we aren’t saying that being near “3” is the only factor in play or that other factors like strong leadership can’t make up for some deficiencies in objective considerations. However, at a certain point, objective deficiencies simply cannot be realistically overcome. That’s part of what falling on the First World part of the continuum implies. We could even add that certain regions of this continuum are more prone to traditional fascism, which we see as a radical reorganization of society along traditionalist or crackpot lines to save capitalism. For example, those societies closest to the “1” probably are going to be stably integrated into the liberal Empire. Those somewhere between the “1” and “2,” but closer to “2,” like Russia, for example, will have a tendency toward fascism because they aren’t as well served by the liberal consensus as those closer to the “1.” Over time, Russia will probably be more integrated into Empire, but this is not written in stone. This model fits with the old saying that “liberalism is the face of capitalism when it is not afraid, fascism when it is afraid.” Remember what Karl Marx said: “The proletariat has nothing to lose but their chains.” This is also why we have focused our efforts toward the “3.”
2. You are definitely breaking new scientific ground. You mention science often. You’ve written a lot on the topic lately. Why is your theory of worlds more scientific than others?
This kind of theory is one of behavior and potential behavior of human aggregates at the global level. Sometimes we call it “Global Class Analysis.” This is why we use the terms “First World” and “Bourgeois World” interchangeably, similarly with “Third World” and “Proletarian World.” If people want, replace the “1” in the chart with a “B.” Change the “3” with a “P.” What makes one theory better than another? More scientific? As I have said so many times, it has nothing to do with metaphysics, even in its dialectical varieties. It isn’t some “dialectical method” or “dialectical underpinning” that makes one theory better than another. It has to do with a theory being a good tool with predictive power and explanatory power. These are not the same things exactly, although there are sophisticated approaches to try to reduce these two things down to one measure, but this is far too advanced for this interview. Imagine another graph with a horizontal axis labeled “PP” for “predictive power” and a vertical axis labeled “EP” for “explanatory power.” For this discussion, we’ll say they are not the same thing. The classic example of why they are not the same can be seen in the competition between the Copernican model, the heliocentric model, planets going around the sun, of the solar system verses the pre-Copernican model, the geocentric model, celestial bodies going around the Earth, with its epicycles. The epicycle model had been refined over a long period of time, so it mapped out the motions of the solar system very well. It had a higher degree of predictive power. In fact, when the Copernican model was originally introduced, the pre-Copernican model had more predictive power than the Copernican model. This was because the Copernican model had not been refined as much. The Copernican model was initially using circular, not elliptical orbits. So, it was generating more false predictions. So, strictly speaking, there would be no basis to switch paradigms to the Copernican model if predictive power was our only measure for a theory. However, as we all know, the Copernican model of planets going around the sun won out. This is what we use today. This is because science is not just about prediction, it is about meaningful prediction, it is about explanation too. Science is also about explanatory power. The pre-Copernican approach, the epicycle model, may have mapped the motions of the heavenly bodies more accurately, but there was no rhyme or reason to their motions. Their motions were simply mapped. And, if there was some new motion that was observed that had not been known before, they simply posited an ad hoc epicycle to account for it. So, even though the pre-Copernican model generated more correct predictions, it had no real explanatory power. One reason it evolved as it did was it cohered with the medieval intellectual view inherited from Aristotle. According to this view, the cosmos was like an onion with the Earth being the center. That was said to be why objects fell when dropped. They were said to go toward the center, where they naturally belonged. Cohering with this broader view was seen to have some explanatory power. However, in reality, cohering with a false, but widely accepted worldview, does not add to a theory’s power. To choose it over the Copernican model violates one of the main laws of explanatory power, Occam’s Razor. Simpler theories, those that say more with less, account for more with less, generate more correct predictions and exclude more incorrect predictions with less, are better than complicated ones. Even with its initial predictive weakness vis-a-vis the earlier model, the scientific community realized that the Copernican model had more potential. And the Copernican model was eventually refined to have both more explanatory and predictive power. When a theory has both more predictive and more explanatory power than another, saying it is “more scientific” is always more justified. However, there are hard cases. A theory can have more predictive power, but less explanatory power than another. A theory can have more explanatory, but less predictive than another. Say we have two theories. One has the coordinates of 6 on the PP-axis and 7 on the EP-axis. The other has a 7,6 position. Or a conflict between a 5,6 and a 4,8? There are many times when there simply is not enough information to choose between theories. They are too close in terms of overall virtue. When theories are too close to each other, the scientific community simply has to continue its work gathering information, testing, weighing evidence until one theory comes out on top. This happens all the time in science. A new, but not as refined, theory comes onto the scene, but it takes time for it to gather enough strength and refinement to shift the paradigm of the scientific community. In reality, things are a lot more complicated than what I have presented here. Nonetheless, even understanding this basic outlook would be an epistemological advance for those revisionists claiming to be Marxists today. There are other, higher, more advanced models all-powerful, awesome Leading Light Communism has developed, but we need to take things step by step.
In any case, our Global Class Analysis predicts and explains why revolutions have occurred where they do. It explains why certain populations will be more revolutionary than others. It predicts which populations will have potential to make revolution and which ones do not. Our analysis fits with everything we know about the experience of real revolutions and events like the non-revolution in Paris, May 1968. People went back to work for raises, despite the rhetoric. The Paris, 1968 ending was entirely predictable. Our analysis also predicts and explains the motions of the enemy classes that we see everyday in the media’s coverage of current events. We explain the sweep of history in a more accurate and refined way, drawing on Marx and others, obviously. All-powerful, awesome Leading Light Communism is the key to the past, present, and future.
3. You were talking about worlds, zones, and so on. You seem to be introducing a geographic dimension to class. Can you elaborate?
“Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?” are the first eight words of Mao’s Selected Works for a reason. Mao called this the “first question of revolution.” Class analysis, understanding friends and enemies, is the first task. Since Marx, the our understand of friends and enemies has become more and more geographic. What I mean is that friends are enemies are not just separated by wealth and social position, the proletariat has become more and more physically separated from the bourgeoisie. By the time of the Maoist revolution, revolution itself is seen as a people’s war that procededs geographically from the countryside to the city. Similarly with Lin Biao, the global revolution moves geographically from the global countryside to the global city. This is because human geography is reorganized around modern production and wealth. Within a country, wealhy people live here, poor people live there. Globally, wealthy people live here, here, and here. Poor people live there, there, and there. You can see this very dramatically in some of the cities in countries like Brazil. You might have an outpost of the First World, a wealthy residential community, a business district, etc. walled off from the outside, which is still very Third World. It’s like a little First World fort from which to dominate and control the surrounding territory. You see this in Palestine with the Zionist settlers. They set up their guarded outposts, where they have a higher standard of living, while hostile Palestinians surround them. It reminds me a bit of pioneer commuities in North America. One sees a similar pattern in wealthy communities in China. In any case, even when there is close proximity of the First and Third World, the barrier separating them is often very pronounced. In these cases, it is a physical wall where guards patrol with automatic weapons. How should we see these wealthy communities in, for example, Brazil or China? Should we see such a community as simply a community of the Brazilian bourgeoisie who can be either patriotic or comprador? Such is the old Maoist type analysis. My contention is that this may be part of the story, but it isn’t the full story. Capital is more and more global, nation matters less and less, country matters less and less. Rather than seeing those who populate such communities as just the Brazilian bourgeoisie, we can see them and the communities themselves as outposts of the First World, part of the First World Empire. An extreme case of this would be the Green Zone in Iraq, where the Empire has literally built a city with a higher standard of living inside a Third World, occupied community in order to control and manage them. The nationalist, patriotic bourgeoisie is becoming less and less relevant. More and more, the world is not a collection of many empires with colonial possessions. Rather, power is mostly a single Empire that benefits, this First World includes populations of the old empires, but also First World outpost communities, military bases, management zones, financial zones, etc. in poorer countries. These communities, regardless of their national or racial makeup, are loyal to their First World way of life, and the global imperial institutions that create it, first. They are part of the First World system of control first and foremost, usually nationalist loyalties, if they exist at all, are very secondary. This is partially a consequence of a more unipolar geopolitics. The patriotic bourgeoisie is becoming less and less relevant because the wealthy people in the poor countries have less ability to maneuver, they have less bargaining chips when there is only one imperial choice.
There are exceptions of course. Things are never set in stone. This is an emerging picture, the overall tendency is toward Empire. There are still remnants of the old world that Vladimir Lenin described. Some think an emerging Eurasian alternative, a Russia-China alliance, will block the emergence of global Empire for a time. Thus, they think, the traditional categories will still have scientific utility. Sometimes people frame it in terms of Kautsky verses Lenin, but this is way too simple. Lenin was exactly correct when he was writing. The scramble for Africa, the cycle of world wars, and so on. And it would be a mistake to see the emerging Empire as anything Kautsky could have foreseen. It would be wrong to project current reality backwards. In fact, it was, in part, the tremendous damage done to capitalist by the breakdown of the system, the world wars that Lenin predicted, that has forced the bourgeoisie to reorganize. The Bolshevik revolution was partially a result of the systemic breakdown of World War 1. Similarly, the Maoist revolution and decolonial struggles emerged because the old empires had so weakened themselves through their massive bloodletting. They could no longer hold onto their colonial possessions since they were so weakened. Partially as a result of world wars, the capitalists lost control of massive parts of humanity, they faced the emergence of socialism that challenged their rule at the global level. Just as revolutionary science – Marx, Lenin, Mao, Leading Light – advanced to meet new realities, so too did the science of oppression. The capitalists have reorganized their economies and power to try to avoid catastrophic wars of the past. The most obvious artefacts of this advance in capitalist science is the promotion of social democracy and international institutions like the United Nations. In any case, it boggles the mind that you have these revisionist dogmatists talking about 2014 as though it were 1917 or 1949, as though adherence to Leninist or Maoist dogma is the solution to the current problems the people’s movement faces. Of course, I understand that the opposite problem exists where there are loudmouths and egomaniacs promoting themselves as worldclass leaders but without really providing any real scientific answers. There are plenty of snakeoil salesmen claiming to have their own unique “new synthesis.” They are a dime a dozen. There is a big difference between proclaiming a scientific advance and really making one. And contrary to popular misconception, the loudmouths are not all white. However, just because there are fools in new clothing telling us to follow them does not mean we should follow the fools in outdated fashions and vice versa. Luckyily, our choice is not simply one between old fools and new fools, old dogma and new dogma. There is a real choice, a real road to the future, but it is not always easy to find or walk.
Anyone who honestly looks at all-powerful, awesome, glorious Leading Light Communism cannot in good faith say that we have not done our work. I have done exactly what I promised I would many years ago when we first began. We have done exactly what we said we would do. It boggles the mind that some Maoists extended support to us when we were just talking about things, as soon as we really did it, they withdrew their support. Sometimes I want to point at our work and say “here it is on a silver platter, we have carried out the principal tasks as you defined them without any support from you. Where is your support now that we have been proven right? Who was it who used to talk about parlour pinks?” In any case, Leading Light Communism is a genuine scientific advance over the Marxist-Leninist and Maoist traditions. I have done exactly what I have always done. We really are integrating the most advanced science in every area of human knowledge into an all-powerful weapon that can be wielded by the masses. There are plenty of opportunists and careerists who will continue to mock us. There are some who do not like me personally who have let their personal dislike of myself or other leaders transform themselves into liars, wreckers, virtual and real state agents. There are some who have become jealous, bitter, little wannabes and second-rate gossip mongers. Others become ostriches who cowardly bury their head in the sand to avoid seeing the sunlight of truth. Others have produced attacks, very similar to those of COINTELPRO in the United States, except more pathetic and inept. They are big into gossip directed at Leading Lights. In general, we have more to worry about: State agents have tried to disrupt our logistical networks domestically inside Bangladesh. It is an old story. Many will try to raise themselves up by tearing down great leaders, Leading Lights. There are plenty of people on the wrong side of history. Talking to them is like talking to a brick wall. We have a saying: “let the yappers yap.” Yes, we have advanced science. When have we ever walked away from the challenge of proving it? If you want a good laugh, go and ask one of these dogmatists why they think their dogma is more scientific, then compare and contrast with our discussions.
There is always going to be more false paths than the one true path. In class society, there will always be more liars than speakers of truth. It takes time. It’s a protracted struggle, as Mao taught. We have to have proletarian attitude about all of this. No quick victories. We have to be long marchers, day in, day out. In a mere few years, under very bad conditions, with little money, we have established a new global revolutionary movement. This is just based on the pure science, on the idea. Imagine how it’s going to take off once we solve more organizational and logistical issues. We are just getting started. This is an exciting time to be alive. We are writing history as others write plays.
4. Those who are awake, the serious people, congratulate you on all you have accomplished. It is astonishing when you think about it. Some are always going to bring it back to one issue: You are rejecting Marx’s categories for your own. Are you?
There is always a doubting Thomas. And if I am moving beyond Karl Marx, so what? Marx should be seen as a scientist, not as a religious figure. Even Marx said “I am not a Marxist” on his deathbed. Most of those who claim to be Marxists today should not be seen as real Marxists. Rather, they are people who worship Marx, or Lenin, or Mao as one would worship God or a saint. No leader or writer is infallible. People are not perfect. Real Marxism is one and one thing only: the best science applied to the task of reaching the communist ideal, ending all systematic oppression. Science evolves. The best science is a science that is always evolving, advancing, becoming more powerful, able to solve more problems. Now contrast this with how dogmatists regard Marxism, Leninism, or Maoism. Their ideology is a metaphysics. It is stagnant, frozen. No innovation. Now, contrast their work to all-powerful Leading Light Communism.
Some people confuse innovation with revisionism. If all innovation were revisionist, Lenin would be a revisionist who ruined Marxism. Mao would be a revisionist who deviated from Marxism and Leninism. Even late Marx would be a revisionist who deviated from early Marx. This is a completely incorrect understanding of revisionism. Revisionism is not just about changing or updating Marxism. It is about revising the revolutionary heart out of the science. Revisionism can come in many forms. It does not always present itself as an innovation. It can also present itself as preservation of the orthodoxy. When it comes down to it, revisionism is really just about deviating from the science, which means deviating from Leading Light Communism. Updating, advancing, is necessary for a science to survive, to say relevant, to not ossify into dead, frozen metaphysics.
This reworking of basic categories is not exactly new. The Maoists were some of the biggest critics of revisionism. Yet Mao himself offered a new theory of class in his analysis of China. By the time of the Cultural Revolution, or the last years of Mao’s life, Maoists began to introduce the concept of the “new bourgeoisie.” This became applied to people like Deng Xiaoping or Liu Shaoqi by later-day Maoists. Did Liu Shaoqi or Deng Xiaoping own the means of production in the same way a traditional capitalist does? Could Deng Xiaoping sell a shoe factory to anyone he wanted? Could he give it away of his wife as a wedding present? Could he turn any factory in China into his personal swimming pool? Of course not. There were some similarities between the higher levels of the Chinese bureaucracy and the traditional capitalists, but also some differences. Hence the adjective “new” was used in describing this new bourgeoisie. The point here is that the Maoists had begun to separate class from the point of production in the strict sense found in Marx. They began to have a more complex view of class to match shifting realities. Similarly, in the United States, there is a situation where the old categories do not fit. A person in the United States might earn a wage in one job, yet might have an online-trading business to make extra money. They might also technically own the means of production through the ownership or stocks or through their retirement plan. On top of that, they partake of all kinds of public institutions that feed off of exploitation in the Third World. Some of these institutions they have some limited control over through the democratic process. Others they benefit from, but have less control over. At the same time, these ordinary people in the First World share the bourgeois way of life. Even if they do not own capital, they have access to it if they chose to liquefy their assets or take out loans. Just as the Maoists implied that the ownership of China’s productive capacity by the reactionary bureaucracy is collective, a similar process can be seen to have happened with ordinary people in the First World. They have complex relationships to production and distribution, but that relationship to production is less and less important. They partake of the benefits of being in the First World, the role of exploiter has been collectivized across whole strata and across whole geographic regions. It doesn’t really matter if they earn a wage or not. What is key is that they siphon off value unjustly from others or from the system as a whole. Whether that value ends up in their pockets through a wage or salary, in their pockets from a benefit payment, or a flow from a private sale, or if it ends up in an institution that they have a say in running or are benefiting from, of if they get a benefit by simply living in a geographic area, is not the main thing. The main thing is that they are exploiting others, what superficial form the value transfer takes is not as important. There are all kinds of ways exploitation happens, that value gets shifted around. And much of it is hidden from us. Just as it may not be immediately apparent how a man like Deng Xiaoping who earns a salary can be a part of the bourgeoisie, it may not be immediately apparent how a US worker can be. However, it is very important to look beneath surfaces. Just as Marx exposed a reality obscured by commodity fetishism, it is important to expose the reality obscured by dogma and privilege. Updating the science is fine, introducing new categories or changing old ones is fine so long as the new categories are better tools in terms of making revolution, as long as they have more predictive and explanatory power. Those who read Leading Light closely will know that Global Class Analysis not only updates our understanding of the First World, but also the Third World. Leading Light Communism also pioneers the theory of the New Proletariat and understanding the revolutionary demographics of the slums of Third World megacities. Again, this is a departure from the tradition that feels it is necessary to link class to the point of production. “But Marx said” is not a compelling argument against reality.
Today, when the people’s movement is at such an impasse, it is the time for great leaders to come forward with real, true scientific advances, with Leading Light Communism. This is also why Leading Light Communism has been more well received in the Third World. The real proletariat in the Third World faces obliteration at the hands of empire. The impasse of the people’s movement has real consequences for them. Their sons and daughters are dying. Their land is poisoned. Finding a way out of the stagnation matters. Science matters. To put science back in the forefront of the people’s movement is to take back the future from those who have stolen it from us. This is why we say “our future is our own.” Now that the scientific breakthrough has been made, armed with the all-powerful sword of Leading Light Communism, nothing can stop us. Destiny is ours.
5. You said you were breaking things down in a simpler way in this interview so that you could be understood. Do you mean to say that what you are proposing here is a simplification? Because it is all very challenging.
I’m simplifying things a lot here. We’ve introduced the conception of high and low science in my writings. There are different audiences for different ideas and presentations. Different people need to hear different things depending on where they are in the learning curve. Some people are more advanced than others. Some people are even more advanced. Some lights illuminate. Some blind. There is high and low science. Then, there is really really high science, science that is part of our deepest politics. It’s just not helpful to expose people to it at this point. People are not ready yet. Plus, it could expose the organization to attack. When people are ready, we’ll introduce higher levels when their eyes adjust a bit to the current light being shined in their faces, when they are ready.
Someone recently described Leading Light as “Search and Rescue Team, Plato’s Cave.” This is very funny because she was not the first person to guess the other name of our organization. The allegory of the cave in The Republic is probably the most famous scene in all of philosophy. Socrates describes a scene where people are strange prisoners in a cave, chained to a wall. Because of the position of the light source, the prisoners only see themselves and objects as reflections on the cave walls. They mistake shadows for reality. All their lives they are mistaken. Imagine how difficult it would be trying to explain the outside world to one of the prisoners. Mao talks about the frog stuck in well. He looks up and mistakes the small patch of sky for the world. Imagine trying to educate someone who had somehow survived in a well their whole life about all the wonders of the world. Socrates points out that if one of those prisoners who had grown up his whole life in the cave suddenly was exposed to the outside world and sunlight, it would hurt his eyes, perhaps even blinding him until he adjusted. He would not immediately understand what was going on around him. Pain was the experience of Neo when he first woke up in the Matrix movie. All the world is a cave, illusions created by mind and class society. And leaving this cave can be blinding. This is how it is with truth, with real science, all-powerful, awesome, glorious Leading Light Communism. Some prisoners are still all the way in the deepest pit of the cave. Others are fumbling their way out. Some sit on the edge of darkness and light, like the Buddha of myth, refusing to embark to paradise before rescuing everyone else. Maoists used to say, “you cannot break every chain but one” In other words, all chains have to be broken to achieve true freedom. Similarly, Leading Light states that “nobody is free until we all are.” Socrates said those trying to rescue the prisoners would even risk their own death because of the ignorance of the prisoners themselves. And, Socrates did eventually meet that fate at the hands of the Athenian state. As Leading Lights, we, pledge everything in this great cause, even our lives.