Serve the people truth or fiction?

Serve the people truth or fiction?truth-or-lie-166ab0

(llco.org)

In recent discussion, we contrasted science versus apolegetics in dealing with history. Stalin was used as an example. A familiar voice objected to our discussion. He roars:

“There is nothing original in noting the USSR’s initial support of Israel as primarily geo-political. Of course it was a mistake, but hindsight is always 20/20.

The USSR aided Israel during the Nakba, but did they ever aid the Euro-Settlers before that? No. However, the Nazis did, as documented extensively by the Jewish Trotskyist Lenni Brenner. There wasn’t anything like the Transfer Agreement between the USSR and the Euro-Settlers in Palestine as there was between Nazi Germany and proto-Israel. Even when the USSR was officially supporting Israel, it was still a crime for Soviet Jews to emigrate there. This is a result of the consistent position maintained since pre-revolutionary days by the Bolsheviks, that Jews ARE NOT A NATION.

It is interesting, though, that LLCO is now willing to say the USSR was imperialist even before Stalin died. I suppose trying to convince the Oppressed Nations of the world that their nationalism isn’t “applied internationalism” leads one to such absurdities.”

Leading Light Commander PF responds:

Thank you for your instructive comment.

Right off the bat, the whole tone of your comment is strange to us. It is as though you think that questioning one aspect of the Stalin era is somehow a big betrayal of socialism or Stalin. It is also odd to us that you seem to think that it is a defense of Stalin to put forward the equivalent of “well, he wasn’t as bad as the Nazis!” as you do. Yes, you are right, Stalin’s foreign policy was not nearly as bad as the German fascist one. Stalin’s policy, obviously, was not as bad as numerous policies of imperialist powers. In fact, numerous other imperialist powers were not as bad as the Nazis. It is interesting to us that you think saying as much is a defense of Stalin and socialism. It is interesting to us that you hold socialism in such high regard that you set your expectations for it so low. We hold socialism and our leaders to a higher standard than you do. We expect more from our socialism and leaders than just being better than Hitler. Your comment is an example of what I was trying to say in the post. Apologetics, historical narratives based around personality cults, leads to absurdities.

The Soviet line on the Jewish question is interesting. As you said, the stated line was that the Jews were not a nation. Yet then there is the de jure recognition of Israel, which was done for geopolitical reasons, but nonetheless legitimates the idea that the Jews are a nation. There is the creation of the Jewish Autonomous Zone within the Soviet Union. And Jews, especially Soviet Jews, were encouraged to migrate there, although few took up the offer. In any case, as it seems we both agree, the Soviet support for Israel was mostly for geopolitical considerations.

Saying “hindsight is 20/20” does not excuse all political errors. Do not apologists for US atrocities, for the institution of slavery, for example, make a similar excuses? Or imagine someone who said “Yes, Khrushchev made errors, Deng Xiaoping made errors, Gorbachev made errors, but hindsight is 20/20!” Is this a serious defense of their policies? There are numerous kinds of errors, often overlapping in various ways. There are ones that are reasonable given what was known at the time. There are ones that are unreasonable given what was known at the time. There are errors that emerge from bad empirical evidence with socialist thinking. There are errors that emerge from capitalist thinking, but with good or bad empirical data. There are rightist errors that still fall within the revolutionary camp, then there are revisionist errors. There are leftist errors that still fall within the revolutionary camp, then there are revisionist errors. There are errors that are “left in form, right in essence.” There are errors that have their origin in reactionary mentality and character. There are errors that we should take responsibility for as inheritors of the revolutionary tradition. There are errors that are not our’s, that we do not take responsibility for. All movements that claim to be Marxist acknowledge these kinds of distinctions. They just draw the lines differently. For example, Trotskyists don’t feel obliged to justify the policies of the Stalin era, extreme orthodox Marxist-Leninists don’t feel obliged to justify the policies of the Maoist era, Maoists don’t feel obliged to justify the policies of Deng Xiaoping. Maoists, for example, see Deng Xiaoping’s policies not as socialism in error, but as revisionism, as capitalism. We agree that the policy to support Israel was an error, the question is what kind of error.

We are interested science, not dogma. Those who approach history not as truth, but as a kind of story to elevate or denigrate this or that leader, are not doing science. Their approach to history is the Great Man Theory that Marx criticized long ago. It is a product of lingering personality cults. God may be dead, but the smell of the corpse lingers. Similarly, cults of personality outlive the leaders they idolize. The apologetics that pass for history within the revolutionary movement are really just a kind of cult-of-personality myth making. Whether or not it is worthwhile to make revolution does not depend, for us, on whether Stalin or Mao may have made revisionist turns in the end. The necessity of total liberation for humanity is something we live and die for, regardless of whether Soviet regime made a nationalist and traditionalist turn during World War 2 that they never emerged from. The moral command to “serve the people” flows in our veins whether or not Mao went bad in the 1970s. Our first love is the masses and the land, not any single individual, even a Stalin or Mao. We tell the masses the truth because we really do believe the Maoist slogan that “the masses are the real heroes” and “the masses are the motive forces in history.” We also love the great leaders, geniuses, warriors, Leading Lights that the struggle has produced. However, when the latter begins to conflict with the former, we will always choose the masses, the land, the truth over the myth making, even if the latter is well-intentioned. A true friend is an honest one.

The Leading Light’s line is not that the Soviet Union did or did not become imperialist before Stalin died. The Leading Light does not have a “line” on every little historical detail. Leading Light unites around a general line. Our line is that the Soviet Union began to shift toward capitalism and imperialism sometime during or in the immediate decade following World War 2. Just as we say China restored capitalism sometime in the 1970s. Again, we do not structure our historical narrative around the demands of the personality cult. For us, it is fine to say Mao was one of the greatest revolutionaries of all time, but also made major errors, including revisionist and capitalist ones. We are about genuine science, not the pretense of science. With all things, we uphold the good and toss the bad. Humans are flesh and blood. Humans are not perfect. Humans make mistakes. Our supreme leader is no human, but truth, as best as it can be known through science.

Your infantile remark about oppressed nations is barely worth my time. How exactly does questioning Stalin’s policy, adopted for geopolitical reasons, of supporting, albeit only for a short time, a Euro-invasion of Palestine lead to the conclusion that national liberation of oppressed nations is not applied internationalism? What is the chain of inferences, as you see them? If you can’t explain yourself, then that says a lot about where you are coming from. Your remark is just another example of how some people are not interested in the truth. Our line has always been the same: we support whatever path leads to Leading Light Communism, total liberation, the end of all oppression. Our first loyalty is to the masses and the Earth, not to nations of any kind. If national liberation is the best way to achieve that, then we support it. If there is a better strategy, then we support that. However, we do not elevate nationalism to level of principle. There is a big difference between communists who have, at times, adopted nationalism as a means to an end and nationalists who have, at times, adopted communism as a means to an end. As it happens, neither Mao nor Stalin were nationalists in the sense that national liberation movements in the United States are. Both led multi-national revolutions that encompassed dozens of oppressed nations. The Bolshevik revolution was a revolution spread over much of the old Russian empire, which was called “the prison house of nations.” The Maoist revolution spread over a vast territory that corresponded with the previous Chinese imperial dynasties. Both revolutions sought to create transnational red identity to replace the more nationalist and localist identities. At the same time, the hope was to forge this identity as gently as possible. Unfortunately, things did not always work out that way. For example, Stalin and Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev came into conflict over this. Sultan-Galiev seemed to see Stalin’s line as really just a manifestation of Russian chauvinism toward oppressed nationalities. Stalin was probably correct to oppose Sultan-Galiev. Sultan-Galiev was accused of nationalism and arrested. Whatever one thinks about Sultan-Galiev’s claims, Stalin’s regime later did turn toward resurrecting Russian nationalism as a way to fight the Nazis in World War 2. This surely carried over into the post-war period. In China, the Cultural Revolution was often accused of trampling the sensibilities of the smaller nations. This is why Maoist policies were sometimes wrongly seen as being Han chauvinist. The reality is that they weren’t really Han chauvinist even if they did trample on national traditions at times. Afterall, the Maoist attitude toward Han traditionalism could be very negative also, maybe even more so. Mao was steeped in China’s classics, but Mao had great disdain for oppressive traditionalism. Mao jokingly compared himself to the Qin emperor who buried the Confucian scholars alive. During the Cultural Revolution, the grave of Confucius was dug up by Red Guards. In India, there is also a debate. Some Maoists push for a pan-Indian revolution that calls for subsuming smaller national struggles with it. The CPI (Maoist) holds this line. Other Maoists, like the “Third Central Committee,” have accused the CPI (Maoist) of Brahmin chauvinism against the Dalits. They see the Brahmin caste as akin to an oppressor nation occupying a Dalit oppressed nation. Dalit Voice used to carry articles comparing Brahmin occupation of India to white occupation of North America or Jewish occupation of Palestine.Thus they attack the UCP Nepal (Maoist) and CPI (Maoist) as Brahmin-led on the basis of identity politics. I think this simplistic way of describing India and North America is problematic.

Leading Light has always supported the united front against imperialism. We support people’s movements, even if they are led by erroneous ideas. This goes for the country-wide liberation movements in the Third World. It also goes for the narrower national movements you find among First World oppressed nations or communities, when those struggles are progressive. Even so, we do not see these types of struggles as the vanguard. Just as capitalism has been globalizing, so too is resistance to it. Narrow struggles are not at the forefront of the anti-imperial struggle. Today, more internationalist movements are contending to make their impact, sometimes they are progressive and anti-imperialist, sometimes they are just another face of imperialism. For example, some pan-Indigenists ended up on the side of imperialism against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Some pan-Islamists end up on the side of imperialism today. Even so, these ideologies, like Bolivarianism, like pan-Africanism, and others are having more of an impact within the anti-imperialist struggle than narrow nationalism or even country-wide nationalism. Leading Light calls for a Global People’s War. One people. One earth. One fight.

Understanding the Islamic State, ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq

Understanding the Islamic State, ISIS, Al Qaeda in Iraq

(llco.org) islamic_state_of_iraq

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

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

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

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

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

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

IS-300x192In 2014, ISIS was ascending rapidly. They declared themselves the new Sunni caliphate and their leader declared himself Caliph of the “Islamic State.” After stabilizing their hold on parts of northern Syria, they played a major part in overrunning significant parts of Iraq, including Mosul and Tikrit. The rapid rise of the Islamic State was aided by many factors. The Arab Spring has inspired populations to rise up across the region. It was the weakness of the central states of Iraq and Syria that also allowed ISIS to quickly gain power. ISIS was able to fill the power vacuum and able to exploit longstanding anger amongst Sunnis. The sectarian nature of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq played a major role. The Assad regime in Syria has its support disproportionately amongst the non-Sunni populations; the Assad regime’s support is greater amongst the Alawi, Shia, Christian, Kurds, and others. Assad’s military, for example, is dominated by his Alawi sect. Unofficial pro-regime paramilitaries and mafias known as “Shabab” or “ghosts” carry out sectarian attacks on behalf of the regime. They too are dominated by the Alawi. Even more so, the Maliki regime in Iraq is based disproportionately on Shia support in the south of the country. The policies of the Maliki regime have driven both the Sunnis and the Kurds into rebellion against it. In 2011, even before the ascendency of the Islamic State, the Maliki regime declared its own Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi a criminal and enemy. The Maliki regime was so sectarian and weak that it could not even get its Kurdish population to hand over their countryman after Tariq al-Hashimi went into hiding in the Kurdish areas. The Kurdish Peshmerga, which is ostensibly setup to defend Kurish borders in Iraq, have established a presence in disputed lands. For a long time, they have set up bases here and there in the disputed areas to match the presence of the security forces from the central state. Iraqi’s central state also had limited reach into the Sunni areas, areas that began to see the sectarian Maliki regime as an occupying force. It is because of the sectarian policies of the Maliki regime that the Islamic State was able to again gain the support of those same Sunni tribal leaders who had turned against ISIS years before during the “Sunni Awakening” around 2007.  In their recent surprise offensive, the Islamic State was able to briefly gain the support of Baathist elements in Iraq, remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime that continue to suffer persecution, whose base of support is the Sunni population. The Special Republican Guards were never fully committed to battle at the time of the US invasion. And Saddam Hussein’s body-guard network and special operations are thought to have remained intact. Many of the Baathist specialists that had fled to neighboring countries at the time of the US invasion have now returned. (2) Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who occupied the Vice-Presidency and Deputy Chairmanship of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council under Saddam Hussein, is now heading Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshbandi, or the Army of the Men of the Naqshband. This group, which has its roots in Baathist networks and Sufi Islamic orders, was a key player, along with ISIS, in overrunning Maliki’s state security forces recently. (3) There was much speculation that the disintegration of Maliki’s security forces was part of a conspiracy amongst some of its officers, possibly officers with connections to the old Baathist regime. However, these victories over the Maliki regime are now being undermined. Once again ISIS is imposing its harsh, unpopular Islamic order on the Sunni population and ISIS is also trying to eliminate its rival groups amongst the Sunni population of Iraq. Now the Iraqi Sunni groups have begun fighting amongst each other again. It is highly doubtful the Islamic State will be able to conquer the Kurdish areas or push deep into Alawi and Shia territory in Syria or Iraq. In both Syria and Iraq respectively, the Assad regime and Maliki regimes, along with Shia militias, are slowly pushing back, retaking territory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And there is an organization with that revolutionary scientific line and leadership in command, carrying with it the spirit of loyalty, sacrifice, ruthlessness, courage, intelligence, creativity, and of service to the Planet and its People –the Leading Light Communist Organization.  Become a Leading Light for communism and join us!

Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Venezuela and Ukraine

On Venezuela and Ukraine

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Recently, both Venezuela and Ukraine have experienced substantial protests seeking regime change. In both cases it is important to recognize that protests are not always progressive nor are they deserving of support. In these two cases, neither movement is progressive.

In Venezuela, the protesters are seeking a regime change that installs an opposition that seeks to move the country and its economy closer to the imperialists, the United States in particular. Latin America has  been dominated by imperialism, especially the United States. A victory for the opposition in Venezuela would not only be a disaster for the lower classes there, it would be a disaster for the region. Neither the regime of Chavez or of his successor Maduro are socialist, but they represent progress away from subservience to the United States. The regime is a patriotic one focused on national development and a welfare state. In addition, the regime’s Bolivarian policies have sought to make the entire region more independent of the United States. The regime was the victim of a US-backed coup attempt in 2002. Many of the same forces that worked against Chavez then are at work now. The regime has rightfully accused the United States of plotting with the opposition to bring about its downfall.

Similarly, the opposition in Ukraine is made up of forces that would strengthen the hand of empire if they came to power. The opposition forces include liberals that seek closer ties to Western economies and also neo-fascist groupings. Fascist militia groups with their flags and uniforms are a regular feature of the protests there. At the same time, we should recognize that the regime there is not socialist or even necessarily progressive. It is that the alternative there would be worse. An opposition victory would in all probability result in greatly strengthening imperialism as a whole and it would give a boost to the rebirth of traditional fascism in some parts of Europe.

It is important to understand the difference between progressive movements and  movements of reaction. Too often groups like Occupy or Anonymous throw uncritical support behind every protest that comes along. It is important to remember that even the Nazis had protests. Large numbers of people in the streets does not translate into progress. It is important to understand how such conflicts play out in the context of the global class struggle. It is important to critically oppose imperialism everywhere. Likewise, it will be important to seek to put Leading Light Communist leadership at the head of the anti-imperialist struggle. Only then will there be a chance of defeating empire once and for all.

MUST READ: Tasks, deviations, corrections, an interview with Leading Light Commander Prairie Fire (April, 2015)

MUST READ: Tasks, deviations, corrections, an interview with Leading Light Commander Prairie Fire

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1. Presently, what stage of struggle is Leading Light at?

In terms of high science, we can declare absolute victory over all competitors. There are no more real two-line struggles with dogmatic relics. All ideological competitors are dead at the level of high science. There is no more real debate with the First Worldists, Trotskyists, Marxist-Leninists, Maoists. There is only education. We should extend a hand to those stuck in dogma. We should try to help them out, but we do not bend to them. To do so is what Mao himself would call the unprincipled peace of liberalism. Without Leading Light, without genuine science,  they have no future. The sooner they see this the better. They will fall into the dustbin of history or they will come to us on our terms. There may be a little intellectual mopping up to be done, but that is all. Our competition is not the dogmatic relics, but liberalism, neo-fascism, and Islamism, and there is significant overlap within our opposition. The global masses have their organization, leadership, vanguard, Leading Light.

In terms of low science, we need more work. We are pushing out in many bold directions. We have pulled diverse influences together from the Marxist tradition, but also from others. Much of low science is about touching the heart. This is an area where traditional Marxism is very much lacking. We have spoken of the importance of the spirit of the people’s warrior, of the people’s artist, the caregiver. We have discussed of the importance of reverence toward the Earth. We promoted the spirit of caring, sacrifice, serve the people. We have raised the importance of family and the future of our children. There are many dogmatic relics out there who can only copy the low science of the old Chinese Maoists, even though their own leadership is seriously lacking. There is a Chinese Maoist saying, “you can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.” The Mexicans say, “you can’t polish a turd.” There are lots of people putting a crown on dogma and giving a scepter to mediocrity. This is the kind of thing you get when the revolutionary movement is at such a low point. People grasp at straws. It’s natural. They think they can fake it into making it. Faking it only goes so far. Real revolution is led by the most advanced scientific core, Leading Light Communism. There are plenty of cheerleaders who turn themselves into useful idiots in the process. It is good to support the broad anti-imperialist united front against imperialism. However, we should not lie to the proletariat. We must put the most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism, in their hands. We must understand that both high science and low science are weapons. We must master both. Serve the people truth, not fiction.

In terms of organization, it is no secret we are in something akin to what Maoists sometimes call the period of strategic defensive. We are at the beginning. The scientific breakthrough has been made. It’s all about implementation in a real way. We have done exactly as we promised. We have elevated the science. We have created a global movement. Everything we have promised has come to pass. The seeds we planted years ago are beginning to bloom, but we are at a very dangerous, critical period. It is about establishing the logistical capacity capable of making real gains. There is a Leading Light saying:

“It does not matter how much chess strategy you know if you have no board and pieces.”

At this stage of development, there is an apt saying:

“Kids study tactics, amateurs study strategy, professionals study logistics.”

We have the best long game. We have the Great Strategic Plan. We have the leadership. We have warriors. What we need a serious attention to logistics. If we can solve the logistical issues, we will be at a qualitatively higher level within a year. We are so close, yet so far, which can be very frustrating.  Destiny calls louder and louder every day. We need to bring some of the dreamers back to Earth. And we need to get those around us who do not yet get it to realize that real heroism can be as simple as donating. We can make revolution a reality, but that means we have to all focus on logistics, which is not always the most romantic part of struggle. This isn’t a joke or some con. If you want elevated science, a real breakthrough in how revolution is understood, here it is on a silver platter. If you really want Global People’s War, here is is on a silver platter. This is the time that people really need to just “fanshen,” get your heads on straight. We have done all the hard work, we have sacrificed a lot. For our First World skeptics, you need to check your egos. Our door is open.

2. Can you say more tactics, strategy, logistics?

At any given point, a different aspect of the practice of Global People’s War will take precedence. A focus on tactics, perfecting the techniques of the battlefield, is appropriate once a certain scientific and organizational level has been achieved only. If you do not have Leading Light, strategic leadership, if you do not have logistical sophistication to sustain a real movement, then focusing on the tactical aspect, romanticizing the gun, is a mistake.

There are a lot of focoists and anarchists posing as communists today. A handful of people get together, usually students, run out and take some selfies with guns, do some street theater with berets or guns, or some armed propaganda. This is fine, but this kind of thing as no future. It has little to do with either orthodox Maoist people’s war nor does it have anything to do with the Global People’s War of the Leading Light. Mao himself criticized this kind of adventurist outlook in On Correcting Mistaken Ideas in the Party. Mao criticized the petty-bourgeois mentality that leads to adventurism. It is also very dangerous to real movements and the masses. Real armed struggle is not a game.

People need to be less concerned with their ego, their emotional needs. People should not be so concerned with establishing their credibility by brandishing arms prematurely. If you are impressed by a few students in masks holding weapons, then you are easily impressed. People should not run off into suicidal conflicts with the state because they feel some need to prove themselves. Pulling our guns too early is a sign of weakness, not strength. It is a sign of petty-bourgeois instability, lack of proletarian discipline, lack of mass line, lack of the long game, lack of revolutionary science. It says something very sad about the state of people’s movement. It says something about just how weak First World movement is that it can be so easily impressed. It stands to reason that this kind of armed theater pops up in the First World given the lack of a real proletariat to temper petty-bourgeois and bourgeois emotionalism. But it also pops up in the Third World, which is unfortunate. There is a petty-bourgeois mentality, among many Leninist and Maoist dogmatists, that we just need to memorize some slogans, remember some formulas, then go get some guns. It’s all amature hour. Small criminal organizations, cartels, for example, can field a stronger army than most so-called revolutionaries. They have a better mass line too. They often lift their people out of poverty more effectively. These small sects are too busy trying to establish their credibility vis-a-vis other student organizations to notice that the angry poor are flocking to criminal organizations, and the criminal organizations often project a populist, left character. They are the real competition, not the collections of tiny, bickering left sects. Similarly, the Islamists are the real competition on the street level, not tiny little left sects busy trying to impress each other with slogans and guns.

Romanticization is a part of low science. It is needed for a real revolutionary movement, but tt is a big mistake to romanticize the gun prematurely, and it is always a mistake to romanticize dead dogma. To romanticize the gun prematurely or to romanticize it to such an extent that it interferes with actually winning is a big focoist, adventurist error. Often the focoist trend will eschew science as “mere intellectualism.” They do not understand the need for genuine scientific leadership. They do not understand Mao himself was a big critic of the low-political level of petty-bourgeois, militarist adventurists.

We need to cultivate scientific, Leading Light leadership. We need leaders who are less concerned with their reputations in the short term. We need leaders who understand the long game requires real science, not dogma. People’s war is not an adventure, it is a social process involving millions. Global People’s War involves billions. The low-level of development of revolution has a lot to do with lack of science and a lot to do with dogma and emotionalism.

Right now, the global revolution is at a point where logistics matters more than any other factor. The scientific breakthrough has been made. Tactical sophistication will come in time, but the movement will not grow without developing sophisticated logistical networks. A modern people’s war will not sustain itself merely by plucking apples off trees. We’re talking about real Global People’s War, not guerrilla porno of the focoist or anarchist variety. The most heroic thing that a comrade can do is generate resources, even if it means simple donations. The people who donate seriously are really some of our first heroes. Everything flows from them. Those who talk about fighting, but don’t donate, are loudmouths. The people who solve our logistics issues are the leaders of the future, it is that simple. They are the ones who walk the walk. They are the ones we all can learn from.

3. What are some of the anti-imperialist and revolutionary movement?

At the global level, there are several problems:

Firstly, people need to get beyond dogma. They need to put all-powerful Leading Light Communism in command. Put away bourgeois mentalities that romanticize dogma and orthodoxy. We have the most advanced revolutionary science. We need to be fearlessly and ruthlessly scientific. Truth is on our side. Truth is the most powerful weapon.

Secondly, people need to stop romanticizing the gun prematurely. We need to shut the door on the focoist, adventurist mentality. Selfies with guns does not make a revolution. A few armed propaganda actions does not impress the masses. People need to channel their energy into logistical support for the organization, the Great Strategic Plan of the Leading Light. This means everyone needs to generate resources for the organization and its Global People’s War. These are the heroes of our movement. Everything from here until our victory will be part of a chain of causality that is made possible by those who generate resources, those who solve the logistical issues. Those who are giving financially are the real heroes.

Thirdly, people need to be willing to organize in fronts with the same passion they put toward pure Leading Light work. We need really throw ourselves into  recruiting through fronts, not simply recruiting out of the pre-existing “far left.” Fronts are one of the main pillars of logistics.

Fourthly, discipline needs to be increased. All comrades need to be consistently working on projects and generating resources. All comrades need to be constantly educating themselves and others. We all need to be pulling the revolution forward. Ego has to be eliminated. We need to forge a mighty unity. We need to all play our part. We need to be our best selves. We need to do our duty without complaint. Everything for the people, the Global People’s War, the organization, the leadership, the Leading Light.

Fifthly, security needs to be increased. We have been attacked on several fronts. We need to tighten up our security. We need to increase our vigilance. Except for a few chosen representatives, we are a clandestine organization at the global level.

Sixthly, taking initiative is important. If you are not being utilized to the best of your ability then it is your responsibility to tell the leadership so that you can better serve the people. Do not sit quietly by. Speak up.

Seventh, don’t worry about the criticism from dogmatic relics. They do not matter. Do not try to impress the legions of cowardly lions who claim to support revolution, yet do not donate a dime. Do not worry about criticism from circles of First Worldists, students, hipsters, etc., people who have no mass base. Their politics is disconnected from reality. These are clowns who are willing to try to sabotage Third World anti-imperialist struggles in order to gain credibility in small internet cliques. These are First World clowns who claim run-of-the-mill student and hipster activism is waging people’s war in the First World. These are groups that think fighting for First Worldist economism and identity politics as important as liberating the Third World from the clutches of imperialism. Do not get baited into their fantasies. Let the yappers yap. Soar above them.

4. You place a great deal of emphasis on finances, why is this?

Look at the progress we have made recently. We are flooded with interest from the proletariat. We are training people abroad, setting up schools, bases. We are on the verge of emerging onto the global level. We have laid the groundwork. It really just requires financial, logistical support. If we can secure this, we will be able to advance the quality of our work by leaps. We are about to see something very inspiring and beautiful emerge. This is going to be like nothing we have seen before, but we need people to listen to what we are saying and act accordingly. I don’t know else to say it. This is the time. We need you. We can all do something very great together.

5. You’ve spoken of “the long game.” What do you mean?

Leading Light is playing the long game. We are making moves that will only make sense looking back from 5 years, ten years, decades, from now. We are on a whole other level. We are playing for the big victory. This is part of what vanguard consciousness is. It is seeing beyond others. It is playing on a whole other level. It is to be commanded as if by destiny. We do not need to worry about small bends in the road. We do not need to worry about the ups and downs of the dogmatic relics. Everything is converging in a way that will be very good for us. What is important is that we stay steady. We all have strategic confidence. We rally to the leadership and the Great Strategic Plan of the Leading Light. Keep your eye on the prize.

6. What do you say to those who accuse Leading Light of cultism and gangsterism?

Look at the culture of the system: Liberalism, fascism, feudalism. What we offer is a genuine alternative. We offer a way of thinking, a way of life that is genuinely liberating. We say that truth matters. We say science matters. We say it is important to live for, to die for, to serve the people. Sharing, caring, nurturing is important. Family and community matter. We stand for real freedom, creativity, justice, prosperity, equality, happiness, joy. We are warriors. I will give my life for all my brothers and sisters. Your suffering is my suffering. Nobody is free until we all are free. We truly want a peaceful world for our children. We cherish the Earth, our common home, as part of our family. We also believe in leadership, organization, loyalty, sacrifice. This may seem otherworldly or “culty,” but this is how we are. We do not think we are the problem, the problem is Empire. The problem is liberalism, fascism, medievalism.  We live in a world where millions of people, our brothers and sisters, our children, die every year from wars, hunger, unnecessary disease, unclean water, lack of healthcare, crushing poverty. We live in a world where poor peoples are treated like trash. We live in a world where many women are treated like slaves. We proudly admit that we do not think as the system does. We are the most down-to-earth, honest, critical, scientifically-minded, sacrificing, courageous, loyal people I have ever met. We are not the problem, the system is.

The same elites and their agents call us “gangsters” and “mafia.” This is a system that has created more economic inequality than ever. The rich get richer. The poor are thrown away. They own everything. We own nothing. They buy and sell the people like animals. They kill the poor in their endless wars. We are the poor, the exploited workers, farmers, small owners, slum dwellers. We want everyone to live a good life. We are fighting for the vast majority of humanity. We pick up the gun to put down the gun. They only fight for themselves, for the First World and their allies. They fight for the elites. They kill for profit. Who are the real “gangsters”? Who are the real “mafia”? The elites, the Empire, their agents are always going to slander the people’s movement. We must remember what Mao said: “To be attacked is a good thing.” They would not attack us if we were not making progress. They would not attack us if we were not threatening their world order.

To Empire we say: Call us what you want. Do your best. We are not afraid. You are fighting a spirit, a people, an organization, a leadership you have never faced before. This is a new kind of revolution. Global People’s War is coming. This is our time, our future, our destiny.

7. Any words for those who want to help?

Put aside all the lies. Put aside all the gossip. Ignore the slander of the state and its agents. You have a chance to be part of something very new. It doesn’t matter where you are from, what language you speak, what you look like, the color of your skin, your religion. What matters is your heart. The color of your spirit, red.

This is why we shout: Those who have eyes, see. Those who have ears, listen. Those who have minds, think. We need your help, now. Our hand is open, take it. It is your future too.