Armed with a Pen

Views from a worker and student

Cultural Revolutionary: Lu Xun as an Author and Marxist

Now more than ever, it’s crucial for communists to not only be well versed in theory but also cultured. Attention must be given to propaganda, agitation, and ideological work via art. Perhaps no other artist channeled the feel of the times into such renowned communist art as Lu Xun, who created rousing, entertaining, and accessible works which continue to inspire today.

Early Life

Born into a wealthy family only a few years before their fall from grace, the life of Lu Xun in many ways mirrored the experience of his generation, as well as the history of China itself. During his childhood, Xun’s father and grandfather, both civil servants, were caught and nearly sentenced to death for bribery, beginning a downward spiral which would drive his father to drink, smoke opium, and eventually die having squandered much of the family fortune. Once moneyed and respected, they suddenly found themselves ostracized by their neighbors and without adequate means in a rapidly worsening economic and political climate.

Sick of China’s declining feudal society and angered by the inability of traditional medicine to cure his father, Xun enrolled in Sendai Medical School in Japan to study western medicine in 1904. It was here he discovered his passion for literature. Reading and discussing with friends in the book stores of Sendai, Xun found himself unable to ignore the turmoil in his home country, drawn to matters of national liberation and ideological rejuvenation. He idolized authors from oppressed countries, with a particular fondness for the Polish and Hungarian poets Adam Mikiewicz and Petofi Sandor. Xun quickly realized that no medicine could save China if it remained politically and ideologically backward. Barely two years after enrolling, Xun dropped out of medical school to begin his literary career. This was motivated not by artistic passion but from a burning desire to awaken the Chinese people.

Despite such lofty ideals, Xun was chronically in need of money and so his aspirations were initially uninspiring. Joined by his brother, Zhou Zhouren, the two worked to translate and publish an anthology series of eastern European fiction but without much success. Only two volumes were ever completed, and less than fifty copies were sold in total. The failure of Xin Sheng, a student magazine he became involved in, marked the beginning of a twelve year hiatus wherein Xun would write not a word.

During this time, he returned to China to be married. Though he did not love or even know his bride, Zhu An, an illiterate woman with bound feet, he felt obligated to please and serve his widowed mother. As his wife, An loved her husband deeply and cared for her mother-in-law dutifully. Xun respected and trusted her but never returned her feelings, eventually returning to Japan and beginning a relationship with his true love, Xu Guangping. (Despite all this, it’s interesting to note that he continued to send money to his wife up until his death; as did Guangping afterward.) In 1909, he returned to China yet again to teach at Zhejiang Normal School, eventually earning a position in the Ministry of Education. He also studied numerous subjects during his hiatus with a focus on literature.

Writing

Though he certainly made professional achievements, his once great dreams were all but forgotten. Only when urged on by a comrade did Xun finally write his first original story in 1918. A Madman’s Diary, written as the journal of an ill and paranoid farmer who discovers that the members of his village are cannibals, won him the recognition of radical and especially leftist writers and activists both for its accessibility and revolutionary themes. Bucking the traditional academic style, Xun’s use of vernacular Chinese made it an instant classic. The realism and grit of his style, something so lacking in the work of his contemporaries, continues to shock and inspire writers and readers to this day.

The story itself explores Chinese society through the eyes of an ideological heterodoxy, stripped of sentimentality. Thus, the main character’s “madness” only appears as such because it runs counter to the rest of his village. The cannibals remain “sane” while the only person trying to stop them becomes more and more panicked.

Upon discovering the plot, he explains to his brother that “probably all primitive people ate a little human flesh to begin with. Later because their outlook changed, some of them stopped … But some are still eating.” Hearing this, his brother merely “smiled cynically.” As the protagonist continues, and others begin to eavesdrop, the brother’s smug superiority turns to anger.

“They want to eat me, and of course you can do nothing about it single-handed; but why should you join them? As man-eaters they are capable of anything. If they eat me, they can eat you as well; members of the same group can still eat each other. But if you will just change your ways immediately, then everyone will have peace.”

Outside the gate stood a group of people … all of them eaters of human flesh. … Some of them thought that since it had always been so, men should be eaten. Some knew that they should not eat men, but still wanted to; and they were afraid people might discover their secret; thus, when they heard me they became angry, but they still smiled their cynical, tight-lipped smile.

Suddenly my brother looked furious and shouted in a loud voice: “Get out of here, all of you! What is the point of looking at a madman?”

Then I realized part of their cunning. They would never be willing to change their stand, and their plans were all laid; they had stigmatized me as a madman.

Xun here creates an extremely effective allegory for class struggle and asks the question of reform or revolution.

“They want to eat, and of you can do nothing about it single-handed.” Here he describes the exploiter classes: the feudal lords, the bourgeoisie, and the imperialists. Owning state power, these exploiter classes, according to Marxism, exorcise dictatorial control over the working classes whose labor they receive the fruits of. Nothing can be done against these systems as an individual. Only class struggle and the unity of all workers, the peasantry and the proletariat, and, in the case of imperialism, the oppressed national bourgeoisie, can bring about the kind of systemic change necessary to liberate society.

“As man-eaters they are capable of anything. … members of the same group can still eat each other.” Just as one cannibal can still eat another, the exploiting classes are no more merciful towards each other than they are towards the exploited classes. The British imperialists had more in common with their class counterparts in China than Chinese workers. This didn’t stop them from oppressing both.

As he urges his brother, “if you will just change your ways immediately, then everyone will have peace,” we see the question of reform or revolution addressed. Will the exploiters just change their ways immediately? Of course not. Naturally, when asked to simply stop eating people, the brother “only smiled cynically, then a murderous glean came into his eyes.” Though perhaps not mad, the protagonist is certainly an idealist, hoping to merely convince the cannibals to give up their entire way of life, to convince the exploiters of committing class suicide. This idealism is quickly thrown into the face of the protagonist, who is told he’s a madman for even addressing reality. Though he persists, urging the cannibals to “change, change from the bottom of your hearts! … You must know that in the future there will be no place for man-eaters,” his appeal falls on deaf ears. While he wastes time trying to appeal to the cannibals to change voluntarily, he alienates himself all the more from those unsuspecting people who could actually save themselves if they understood the danger they were in. Tragedy strikes as the brother kills and eat his own little sister a few nights later.

The story ends ominously with the realization that the protagonist too may have eaten his sister. “I have only just realized that I have been living all these years in a place where for thousands of years they have been eating human flesh. My brother had just taken over the charge of the house when our sister died, and he may have well used her flesh in our rice and dishes, making us eat it unwittingly.” Xun thus elucidates the dialectical materialist understanding of social consciousness. As Karl Marx writes, “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.” Anyone existing in class society will undoubtedly be exposed to and influenced by the ideology and consciousness of the exploiter class.

There is still a glimmer of hope, however. “Perhaps there are still children who have not eaten men? Save the children…” Ultimately, it’s the next generation that will be able to achieve the dream of a truly classless world, free from exploitation and its ideological remnants. Revolution will not be easy, but it’s the only hope for the future, for creating a society of “real men”, not “reptiles.” As Mao Zedong puts it, only when “all mankind voluntarily and consciously changes itself and the world” can communism be reached.

Xun’s stories are all allegorical and, despite the occasional artistic misstep, all achieve a level of clarity that few other artists have been able to, balancing message with sensibility more or less evenly. The fact that his very first published fiction, written after such a lengthy hiatus, was able to so eloquently get across a clear message while being both accessible and genuinely well written is a testament to Xun’s diligence in study.

Other notable works include Kung-I-Chi, a critique of the Confucian educational tradition and ideology where the titular Confucian scholar, having failed the Imperial Exam, finds himself reduces to poverty and drunkenness before finally disappearing, and The New Year’s Sacrifice, a moving and emotionally intelligent story which describes the patriarchal oppression of women under feudalism. His most well known work, however, is The True Story of Ah Q, a cutting satire of national chauvinism and overconfidence during an era literally dubbed “the century of humiliation.” Ah Q’s claiming of “victory” in the face of constant defeat and embarrassment, as well as his stubborn refusal to ask for or accept help, cleverly critiqued the blind traditionalism of the feudal ideologues.

Legacy

Upon his death in 1936, the Communist Party of China demanded the Kuomintang government give Xun a state funeral, lift the ban on his work, and erect statues of him in the cities he had worked and lived. As he was a prolific social critic and communist, these demands were ignored. Nonetheless, at the ceremony, his body was covered with a silk cloth reading “soul of the nation.”

To this day, Xun’s work is like Shakespeare. Names and quotes from his work are used regularly in everyday conversation and he is widely regarded as not only one of the greatest Chinese writers of all time, but one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century in any language. From his childhood home to Shaoxing to the shops he frequented while in Japan, Xun is celebrated across eastern Asia as an intellectual giant.

Some confusion remains, however, over whether Xun was genuinely a communist. Much of this is due to the contradictory invocation of his name and legacy during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. On the one hand, his achievements were being proudly upheld while, on the other, artists with similar styles were being persecuted. Moreover, clashes between Xun and the Party over literary policy were being purposely overlooked by Mao and his supporters.

Today, with order long having been restored, the Communist Party of China maintains that he was in fact a loyal communist. Though he butted heads with the Party at times, putting out the slogan “People’s Literature of National Revolutionary Struggle!” in opposition to the call for a united front with all anti-feudal, anti-Japanese forces, he remained true in his conviction that the communists were the greatest chance for China to regain independence and strengthen itself. He was still at heart a student of the May Fourth Movement. After the Red Army completed the Long March in October of 1935, Xun personally telegrammed the Party Central Committee, writing: “In you lies the hope of China and all humanity.” This admiration was mutual, especially for Mao who crowned Xun the “chief commander of China’s cultural revolution.”

Artistically, Xun exhibited every trait a communist must. Marx once said: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.” Few artists have put these words into action as well as him. Xun boldly stated that his mission was, above all, to radicalize and galvanized his readers. In the preface Call to Arms, he writes:

I no longer feel any great urge to express myself … I sometimes call out, to encourage those fighters who are galloping on in loneliness, so that they do not lose heart. Whether my cry is brave or sad, repellent or ridiculous, I do not care. However, since it is a call to arms, I must naturally obey my general’s orders.

As the Peking Review would later write, “He broke completely with old traditions and old forces. … he had not a moment’s regret for the death of the old world. He repudiated the old world in the most merciless way. The force of his pen was such that the enemy was vanquished wherever it pointed.” In all his work, he rejected dogmatism and flunkey-ism while expounded upon dialectical materialism and critiquing society in such a way that could reach out and educate even the least educated. It’s this steadfast resolve, down to earth nature, and willingness to speak the truth that all writers, not just Marxists, should learn from and adopt.

Marriage Benefits Men. So Why Do So Many Resist It?

For thousands of years, women have been held in marital bondage, tasked with producing a “legitimate” heir for their husbands. Even today, marriage remains an economic institution working for the benefit of property owning patriarchs. Yet many men view marriage with suspicion and fear while women are stereotyped as dreaming of marriage from girlhood. Why is this? The answer can be found in examining historical and contemporary property relations.

The Old Ball and Chain

In its infancy, marriage was a nakedly economic institution with love coming second, if at all. With the invention of agriculture, early pastoral peoples, previously possessing little in the way of permanent wealth, now had large swaths of land which became the private property of familial patriarchs who could now utilize the labor of others. As Engels writes in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State:

[Under pre-state communism] human labor-power still does not produce any considerable surplus over and above its maintenance costs. That was no longer the case after the introduction of cattle-breeding, metalworking, weaving and, lastly, agriculture.

Here the domestication of animals and the breeding of herds had developed a hitherto unsuspected source of wealth and created entirely new social relations. … Now, with their herds of horses, camels, asses, cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, the advancing pastoral peoples … had acquired property which only needed supervision and the rudest care to reproduce itself in steadily increasing quantities and to supply the most abundant food in the form of milk and meat.

Where a man once had to hunt, working tirelessly to produce only the essentials, a man with a field could now employ slave labor, usually taking the form of captured prisoners of war, to produce in abundance. This new class of slave owners, ruling every corner of the ancient world from the city states of ancient Greece to the rice kingdoms of Yayoi Japan, needed a new way to keep property within their class. Thus, marriage arose alongside private property and slavery as a means to establish a male line of inheritance and safeguard patriarchal class rule.

As Engels later notes, familia, the Roman word for family, referred only to a body of slaves and without sentimentality. It was not until much later that marriage and family would become related to romance and love. Historian Stephanie Coontz writes in Marriage, a History that, though love marriage existed in Europe conceptually as early as the fourteenth century, it was not commonly practiced until well into the seventeenth century. For the rich and landed, love marriage would remain a hopeful fantasy until at least the middle of the nineteenth century.

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with love firmly an ideal inseparable from marriage, men were encouraged through all avenues to exercise dictatorial power over their wives. At the same time, women were encouraged to submit fully to their husbands and carry out their wifely duties both in the kitchen and the bedroom without question or complaint. This was reinforced in literature, radio, film, television, and especially advertisements as the general public was literally sold patriarchal values and monogamy.

Patriarchy was further reinforced through political and racial tensions. Red Scare propaganda warned that, should the communists ever get the upper hand, “our women would be helpless under the boots of the Asiatic Russians.” Segregationists labeled interracial marriage or “race mixing” a communist plot and constantly talked of non-whites coming to ravage white women and destroy the “white race.” The message, that our women need to be protected, reinforced the role of the husband and father as patriarchal, as the protector, provider, and model for the family economically, spiritually, and politically.

The same was done in anti-feminist propaganda. From the earliest days of the suffragette movement, ugly, unmarried women with an ax to grind attempting to emasculate men has been a reoccurring anti-feminist trope. This kind of rhetoric is still used, as can be seen everywhere from Brietbart’s infamous 2015 “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” article to Evangelist Pat Robinson’s 1988 declaration that “The feminist agenda is … a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” The message is once again that, if left to their own devices, women will only bring about ruin and so need to be controlled.

Religious teachings played a significant role in this, with Christian and Jewish theologians using the story of Adam and Eve to justify male chauvinism. Just as Eve is said to have mislead Adam into eating the forbidden fruit, women were perceived as harbingers of temptation whose own simplemindedness would lead to familial ruin without the leadership of a man. Religious leaders across denominations spoke often of the place of woman and the Godly hierarchy of the family. While men were encouraged to lord over their family, religious literature aimed at women taught them to be docile and serve their husbands as they would God.

Even pornography reinforced patriarchal sexual roles, playing upon themes of domination and temptation. Throughout the twentieth century, women played very few roles in pornography: either as the damsel in need of rescuing, the victimized “whore” who is powerless before her male pursuer, or as the seductress luring men to immorality with her feminine wiles. In the case of the damsel and the whore, little attention is needed to see sexist and patriarchal themes. The lessons are, of course, that women are helpless before men, that women need men, and that men are entitled to women sexually.

With the seductress we see, however, a return to the old Puritanical view of women as sinful temptresses. The seductress, rather than being a risk to herself, is a risk to men. In pornography, this figure flips the script of the “natural” order of things, placing women in the position of power. Similarly, there’s also the genre of cuckold porn where a man’s wife or daughter has sex with another man before her helpless husband or father. This genre plays upon sexual anxiety in a similar way as the seductress; the women now has the power to cheat. Though in some cases she too is a victim, the message is the same. Ultimately, she is just as in need of male authority as the damsel. The cheating wife or promiscuous daughter always ends up needing either to be protected or controlled.

Pornography also sexualized lesbianism in order to cater to heterosexual male appetites. Transgender women too have become sexualized through the abhorrently named “shemale” or “trap” genre. The result is that female sexuality in all its forms have been made a subject of the male gaze, made to serve the sexual fancies of men even without their active participation.

In this way, all sexual and gender expression has been perverted and warped to suit the needs of the patriarchy. As feminist Catharine MacKinnon writes, this hegemony over romance and sexuality can be seen even in non-traditional relationships, such as “lesbian culture’s butch/femme, and sadomasochism’s top/bottom” which have been “socially coded as heterosexuality’s male/female.” Thus, sexuality was reduced to the terms of binary, Freudian essentialism with heterosexuality seen as the “natural” default whose free, promiscuous expression is stifled only by religious and/or societal mores. Gender too followed along these binary lines, with expression limited to the contents of ones pants.

Ultimately, this culture was only sustainable due to the fact that the United States saw genuine economic growth in the period following the Second World War. Having received foreign military bases formerly belonging to the British Empire in exchange for battleships and supplies, the US was suddenly in the position to become the largest imperialist power the world has ever seen. Having oceans between itself and the fighting also meant that the US was the only industrialized nation not ravaged by war. Thus, in the period between 1948 and 1973, the nation’s real GDP rose 169%, overall employment increased by 75% with manufacturing jobs increasing by over 30%, and per capita personal income increased across every demographic by over 50%. The then prevailing Keynesian school of economics helped create a vast consumer base by increasing government spending to public works projects. The post-war Veterans Affairs loans to returning service members in particular created a boom in the housing market which helped even their civilian counterparts.

With a newly unprecedented amount of property to safeguard, marriage became more common than any other point in American history. By 1950, 82% of adults were married. Moreover, these marriages began very early, usually between the ages of 17 and 25, and lasted often until death. The average American woman wed around this time, for example, would go on to spend a full 88% of her life married according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Monogamy was the only socially accepted form of pairing available, with women on average having, at most, three sexual partners during their lifetime. Men, on the other hand, averaged almost double that, having around five or six sexual partners. This was largely due to popular perceptions of divorce and the role of the wife. Divorce was hugely frowned upon; and with only 34% of women employed by 1950 compared to 86% of men, marriage was seen as a wife’s profession. It was infinitely more common for a husband to be unfaithful than for a wife to. Though a man could walk away from marriage safely, a woman would often end up on the street if she suddenly found herself without a husband. These marriages, though economically safe, were often unhappy. From 1960 to 1980, with the widespread adoption of no-fault divorce laws and a growing number of women in the workforce, the rate of divorce more than doubled.

The New Ball and Chain

Not everyone was content with miserable marriage and monogamy, however. With the sexual revolution of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, coupling and sexuality were reexamined. Pioneering sexual studies, such as those done by the famous Masters and Johnson research team, were made accessible through books and television. Popular works like Alex Comfort’s The Joy of Sex and Sue Johnson’s long running Sunday Night Sex Show (or Talk Sex with Sue Johnson as it was known in the US) urged millions to explore their sexuality, shifting moral and social views of sex from being more reproductive to more pleasure centered. The development of more and improved forms of contraception allowed more people to do so both inside and out of marriage. Premarital sex, open marriage, and sexual promiscuity became increasingly acceptable.

It’s this movement that laid the foundation for shows like Three’s Company which dared to do real sexual humor and explore sexual tension among the unmarried on television. Film too became significantly more sexual between the 1970s and 90s. Blaxploitation made pimps into superheroes. Sexed up, macho men like Superfly’s Priest and Shaft’s John Shaft glorified and normalized male promiscuity while the portrayal of hypermasculine pimps glamorized the sex trade. Meanwhile, sex comedies and slashers cemented horny teenagers into American cinema. These films often fetishized patriarchal concepts like virginity and made lighthearted jokes of nonconsensual sexual activity like peeping. Even well into the late 1990s and 2000s, movies like American Pie causally had their protagonists engaging in such detestable acts as recording themselves having sex without their partner’s knowledge.

Pornography, especially in the age of the internet, has seen a dramatic shift in theming. Pornography has largely abandoned the traditional temptation porn and is focusing instead on commodification. Series like ‘Property Sex’, a series about young women exchanging sexual favors for rent, and ‘Money Talks’, a series literally just about paying random women to do sexual stunts, present female sexuality as a commodity for male enjoyment. Whereas the porn of old fetishized the control of women, today’s porn sees women shared among multiple partners. Instead of selling men one woman, they’re presented with an endless stream of women who can simply be paid for sex whenever and wherever.

With this in mind it becomes unsurprising to note that, across mediums, a trend has emerged wherein marriage is seen as women’s endgame but a chore and even a trap for men. Naturally, the man has to be coerced into marriage, dragged to the altar kicking and screaming by a man-crazed harpy who will inevitably drop the girlfriendly facade during marriage and come to dominate and emasculate her new husband.

The cliche has been pounded into the head of the American public for decades if through no other medium than television. The nagging, put-upon wife and the thoughtless, even oafish husband have been repeated ad nauseam just in sitcoms. To name a few more well-known ones, there’s All in the Family’s Archie and Edith Bunker, Married With Children’s Ed and Peggy Bundy, Home Improvement’s Tim and Jill Taylor, Everybody Loves Raymond’s Ray and Debra Barone, and Family Guy’s Peter and Lois Griffin. Their level of dysfunction may vary, from Ralph Kramden’s iconic threats of domestic violence on The Honeymooners to George Lopez’s constant lying and causal disrespect in his titular family comedy, but the same miserable stereotype remains constant.

The unmarried aren’t spared either. Countless straight male characters, be them Seinfeld’s George Costanza or The Big Bang Theory’s Howard Wolowitz, seem pathologically afraid of commitment. Men, if we go by the sitcom, would greatly prefer constant causal sex with zero emotional investment.

For women, the opposite it true. Straight female characters like Will & Grace’s Grace Adler and The Nanny’s Fran Fine work desperately to find some man to tie down. Marriage, we’re told, is apparently every woman’s greatest goal in life with even relatively empowered, promiscuous women like Friends’ Rachel Green and Frasier’s Roz Doyle inevitably breaking down and having at least one episode where they put on a wedding dress, eat ice cream, and bemoan being single. Even in real life, wedding magazines are aimed almost exclusively at brides, never grooms, while television and movies focus on the “Bridezilla” and saying yes to the dress.

With no other source but pop culture, one would think women get the most out of marriage. This, however, is still not the case. Studies have shown that women consistently rate the quality of their marriage lower than their husbands do. According to a 2015 survey by the American Association of Retired Persons, over two thirds of divorces are initiated by wives, not husbands. And while the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that 1 in 9 men will experience domestic abuse, the risk for women is significantly greater, with over a quarter of women expected to be victims of domestic abuse sometime during their lives.

In the face of such a grim reality, why do the stereotypes persist?

Money Over Everything

The problem is that the fundamental purpose of marriage is being undermined in the age of neoliberalism. With more and more capital concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, vast swaths of the population have little reason to marry beyond tradition. With capitalism’s natural tendency towards proletarianization, marriage finds itself undermined by the very forces which necessitate it.

Ever since the late 1970s, small business ownership in the US has been on a consistent decline. The Census Bureau’s Business Dynamics Statistics show that, while small businesses comprised over 12% of all US enterprises in 1980, by 2012 they were reduced to less than 8%. Even among those remaining entrepreneurs, few are willing to start from scratch. Starts-ups, defined as those new businesses unconnected to a preexisting chain, have been completely outpaced by franchise establishments. From 1983 to 2006, the number of new start-ups grew by only 36% while new established franchises like McDonald’s or Walmart grew by 50%. Employment too has favored chains, with the number of jobs offered by establishments more than doubling those offered by start-ups.

The Census Bureau also reports that more small employers close than open every month. 75% of all small business are nonemployer and over half of all small businesses are actually home-based, with the vast majority bringing in on average barely over $40,000 a year before expenses. Even more worrying, studies from Harvard and Princeton have shown that 94% of all jobs created since 2005 have been temporary. The number of Americans working these “gigs” jumped significantly from 2005 to 2015, from barely 10% to well over 15%. With the success of companies like Uber and AirB&B, that number continues to rise.

The result is that more Americans than ever have almost nothing to pass on. All across the country, poverty is on the rise due to the increased cost of living and the lack of sustainable job opportunities and affordable housing. As of 2018, more than half of all Americans are in or near poverty. A 2017 study from Stanford University showed that, since 1940, people’s ability to improve their living conditions have been “cut in half.” Despite low unemployment and the generally healthy state of the economy, the working class is struggling to get by and the petty-bourgeoisie is weaker than ever.

Unsurprisingly, compared to the 1990s when well over 50% of all adults married, today, only 29% of poor and 39% of “middle class” adults have tied the knot. Meanwhile, 56% of wealthy adults are married. Though much higher, this too is on the decline.

Even sex is on the decline with the Center for Disease Control reporting the number of young people engaging in intercourse having dropped a whopping 14% since 1991. This is not confined only to the US. Japan, for example, reports more deaths than births every year. Despite generally growing populations due to immigration, the EU reports the same. In South Korea, birth rates have become so low that the government has taken to forcing students to date as part of their college curriculum.

Without property to secure, more and more people have no reason to marry. Existing for their benefit, marriage now offers no incentive to men who, with no other alternative, prefer to secure themselves in the comfort of pornography and, in the case of so-called “incels“, self-righteous bitterness and misogyny. Women, on the other hand, still being sold Rockwellian domesticity, have entertained thoughts of marriage much more seriously than men. With women poorer and hungrier in every state in the US and across the world, marriage continues to represent their hope for a safer life, for economic security at the cost of marital bondage. Though marriage is hardly worth mourning, it is nonetheless a sad time for the working class which finds itself driven further and further into destitution and atomization under the decaying capitalist order.

The State of Neoliberalism in Argentina

With the economic war in Venezuela, the crisis in Argentina has been all but ignored in the West. For the Argentinian people, however, austerity, deregulation, inflation, US interference, the erosion of civil rights, and the government’s increasingly tyrannical treatment of dissenters have not gone unnoticed. As Buenos Aries becomes more and more a battleground, indigenous, feminist, and workers’ movements have risen up to challenge the Mauricio Macri administration as it struggles to keep the economy afloat while shoving right-wing, neoliberal reforms down the people’s throat.

The Rise of Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism in Argentina finds its roots with the death of then President Juan Perón in 1974. Having united most sides of the political spectrum, his passing signified the fragmentation of Argentinian politics. Though a fragile peace would be formed between the US-backed death squads of the Alianza Anticomunista Argentina and the left-wing Montoneros guerrillas, the country remained in a precarious position both politically and economically with crimes against humanity and retaliatory guerrilla activity sparking periodically.

After Economic Minister Celestino Rodrigo failed to curb inflation through a halfhearted campaign of neoliberal “shock therapy,” the crisis reached its height in June of 1975. Isabel Perón and her administration tried desperately to secure reserve funds from the International Monetary Fund [IMF], meeting several times in Washington, but to no avail. The IMF failed to come through on the previously agreed upon tranche while throwing its support behind the anti-democratic military junta, the National Reorganization Process. Less than a week after the US-sponsored coup in March, 1976, the junta received an IMF loan of over $100 million without sending a single delegation. Within five months, the junta received another loan of $260 million, the largest ever given to a Latin American country.

Jorge Rafael Videla, senior commander in the Argentine Army, swears in as President, March 29, 1976.

Economist Friedrich Hayek once said: “Personally, I prefer a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking liberalism.” Such was the view of the IMF. Where Perón needed to appease constituents, the junta was iron-fisted and could force neoliberalism upon Argentina, US and IMF money patching whatever holes were left.

From then on, Argentina would prove a loyal lackey to the US and to global capitalism. With the help of US presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, scores were detained, tortured, and killed as the junta persecuted labor organizers, communists, and democratic activists under the guise of “counter-terrorism.” Millions were reduced to poverty as social services were slashed and industry privatized. Argentina’s debt would increase fivefold as the IMF and other financial institutions encouraged countries to take on foreign debt. From 1976 to 1983, Argentina’s debt rose from $9.7 billion to $46 billion.

This is the path Argentina has been following since, with debt reaching an all-time high in 2001 at well over $150 billion. The pursuit of deindustrialization beginning in the 1990s too has severely weakened the economy, making the nation wholly dependent on the world market and firmly under the thumb of Western neocolonialism. Today, Argentina is still reeling in the wake of the 2001 crisis and the resulting depression, the effects of which the country seems entirely unable to recover from.

Today’s Far-Right

Against the backdrop of this all too familiar instability, a growing drug trade, and the now-infamous Kirchner family corruption scandel, Mauricio Macri*, a soccer mogul and the former mayor of Buenos Aries, defeated centrist Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Partido Justicialista in a hotly contested victory for the far-right opposition party Propuesta Republicana in 2015. His campaign was as simple and direct as his slogan: “Let’s change.”

Whereas the Kirchner’s hoped to revive the legacy of Juan and Eva Perón, instituting protectionist policies and building up social security to stimulate spending and strengthen Argentina’s once pretty damn respectable industrial sector, Macri has picked up the baton of neoliberalism, submission to the US and the world market, deindustrialization, market fundamentalism, and conservatism. The results have been disastrous in more ways than one.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

In 2017, the Argentinian stock market rose a record breaking 77%, the biggest stock market boom anywhere that year. That, however, is the only good thing which can be said about Argentina’s economy. As of this month, inflation is the at its highest level ever under Macri. Inflation, a drought, and absolutely punishing interest rates have only pushed the nation even closer to a full blown recession.

The value of the Argentine Peso has completely tanked, with one peso being now worth a little less than two cents USD. The government is stuck between a rock and a hard place, on the one hand needing to devalue the peso but, on the other, needing the peso healthy in order to pay their mounting debt. And with over 70% of that debt being in foreign currency, the government may already be in over their heads. The IMF is working to help stabilize the peso but may still lower Argentina’s credit rating.

To help pull the nation out of its tailspin, Marci has announced new austerity measures as part of the terms of a $50 billion IMF loan. A new export tax will bring in some much needed tax money, though critics say it may hurt Argentina’s agricultural sector. Macri has been unable to reassure exporters, responding simply: “I have to ask you to understand that this is an emergency and we need your support.”

Next year the economy will grow. Not much, but it will grow.

– Mauricio Macri

Unable to slash government spending any further, Macri announced earlier this month that half of all government ministries will be shut down. Even more worrisome, the Macri administration has presented only a vague picture of what this new minimized government may look like. It is yet unknown which departments will be closed or condensed.

The future looks extremely bleak. All we can do now is guess. It’s doubtful that Argentina will become a libertarian paradise. Marci himself admitted things will definitely get worse before they get better. What we’ll likely see is a near total roll back of all social services and the privatization of things like healthcare and education, plunging all but a few lucky oligarchs into poverty.

The Macri administration is also looking to improve relations with the EU and especially the US. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quick to join the chorus of condemnation over the Democratic People’s Republic of  Korea’s 2017 nuclear test. There was also an attempt to improve relations with the US’ pet Israel through a friendly soccer match. It was eventually cancelled, however, after a successful boycott by both international anti-apartheid organizations and pro-Palestine Argentinians. Not long after, in July of this year, Macri green lit the construction of several US military bases.

Deforestation and Depopulation

Under Macri, over 128,000 hectares were deforested just in the north in 2017 due to illegal action by logging and agribusiness firms. Though many of the effected areas are protected as nature reserves, local corruption and unwillingness to enforce the law on the federal level give corporations a license to illegally harvest trees and poison the land. What few fines have been charged have done nothing to deter violators. And though companies charged are legally obligated to reforest, Greenpeace has found little evidence of this ever happening. Within the last twenty five years, 7.6 million hectares were lost, roughly 300,000 a year.

Regional flooding has been hugely exacerbated due to climate change and the diminution of trees and plant life. According to the coordinator of the Greenpeace Forest Campaign, Hernán Giardini, “The floods … are not a natural phenomenon, they are a consequence of climate change and that Argentina is one of the ten countries in the world that most deforests, losing our natural sponge by the uncontrolled advance of soy, intensive livestock, and real estate development.”

Mother Nature is not the only victim. Peasants and the indigenous Campesinos have been driven from their homes both by flooding and the pressure of agribusiness. Telesur writes that paramilitaries employed by large corporations have removed thousands from their native land through coercion and violence with the help of government forces. (This, of course, is nothing new. Indigenous peoples suffered greatly at the hands of racist and fascist death squads during the 1980s in the US-sponsored “Dirty War.”)

The Movimiento de Campesinos de Santiago del Estero [MOCASE], an indigenous peasant movement which formed during the 1990s, have waged legal battles against land grabbing and the encroachment of soy. They claim more than 60 thousand families are fighting to keep their land. Though their struggles have often ended in death and defeat, their ranks have swelled within the last two years following the assassination of Cristian Ferreyra, a young member of MOCASE who was gunned down by paramilitaries in November of 2016. Some groups, such as the Frente Nacional Campesino, demand reparations from the government. Others have even taken up arms against land thieves.

Perhaps the most famous Campesino organization is Organización Barrial Túpac Amaru. The group has worked tirelessly to provide to Argentina’s indigenous with the things the government won’t. The group rose to prominence internationally after the state-sanctioned abduction of group leaders, the most notable of which is activist Milagro Sala.

Campesinos demand Sala’s the release outside the Alto Comedero Women’s Prison, 2017.

President Macri has also taken to fighting the Glaciers Law which places strict regulations on mining operations in the Andes Mountains. Mining leaders both inside and out of Argentina have fought this for years. Now they finally have a sympathetic ear in the government. As of now, opposition from Congress has kept the law alive, though Macri is still gunning for it. Most foreign investors have been hesitant to begin operating amid regulatory uncertainty, but this hasn’t stopped some national firms.

Women’s Rights and Sex Work

In Argentina, abortion is highly illegal in all cases except for rape or when the life of the parent is endangered. This too, however, has often been met with legal consequence. In 2016, a women was sentenced to eight years for murder after suffering a miscarriage. Shortly after shooting down a bill to increase access to abortive services, a woman died due to complications from an illegal abortion last March, the first known victim this year. We may never know how many have suffered the same fate. It is estimated that at least 300,000 illegal abortions are performed every year, resulting in more than 70,000 hospitalizations.

While those seeking healthcare end up in hospitals, prisons, or morgues, actual murderers have been able to kidnap and murder women with impunity. The kidnapping and murder of women has become so rampant and has received so little attention from authorities that, after national demonstrations, the Supreme Court was forced to establish a national registry of femicides. Just in 2015, over 235 femicides were recorded, resulting in a mere seven convictions.

World Justice Project reports that women are more likely to be employed informally, earning meager wages as in-home assistants or part time employees, subject to the whims of employers who frequently abuse and underpay them. Without steady, formal employment, women are unable to access free services and social security benefits. Many are stuck living as domestic servants for wealthy families or care-givers to dependent members of their own family. Those even less fortunate have turned to or been forced into prostitution, placed at the mercy of johns, pimps, and cops who act lawlessly and without consequence.

Feminist activists with body paint reading “Legal Abortion now” during the 2012 Gay Pride Parade in Buenos Aires.

Argentinian feminists have taken to the streets, becoming all the more active within the last three years. The second annual Women’s March, held last April in Buenos Aries, came barely a month after the Women’s Strike on International Women’s Day and saw hundreds of thousands of women and feminists occupy the city. With slogans like “Ni una menos” not one [dollar] less and “Tócame y te mato” touch me and I’ll kill you, they demanded access to safe abortions, equal pay, sexual freedoms, and protection from and an end to gender violence and harassment.

Sex workers, previously excluded from most feminists organizations in Argentina, have been making their voices heard. Georgina Orellano, general secretary of the sex workers union, la Asociación de Mujeres Meretrices de la Argentina [AMMAR], told The New Political she’s “optimistic” that attitudes towards sex workers are changing for the better. “I think that in terms of progress, we made the problems we face and the demands of our organization visible. We are making the sex worker visible as a political subject.”

Though sex workers have been fighting for legal recognition since the 1980s, they’ve made great strides in the last two decades by aligning themselves with other unions. In 1995, the AMMAR partnered with the Center of Argentinian Workers, which according to Orellano, made the sex workers’ movement firmly a part of the greater workers’ movement as a whole. Since then they’ve gone on to work not only with other sex workers unions across Latin America and the Caribbean but also with teachers and industrial workers unions.

Though they’ve made great strides politically, sex workers still face many hardships. Harassment from men and police is sadly never ending, housing is difficult to find without pay stubs, and most sex workers are ineligible for many public healthcare services. Their fight is still as desperate as ever.

The People vs. Neoliberalism

Resistance to neoliberalism has mobilized the working class. Worsening living conditions, job loss, and deindustrialization galvanized unions who turned to protest and striking. Mass demonstrations began in 2016 as Macri began “shock therapy” in earnest. Tens of thousands took to the capital early that year to protest reforms. They’ve only intensified since. In late December, 2017, a twenty four hour strike against proposed pension cuts turned violent as masked strikers clashed with police, throwing rocks and molotovs.

Teachers have been a leading force in the strikes. With many children dependent on schools as a source of food, proposed cuts to lunch programs, as well as pay and benefits, have put teachers unions on the front lines. In the past, teachers unions have been able to negotiate for more funding. Macri has put an end to that. In Buenos Aires, striking teachers were met with water canons and tear gas as riot police smashed the picket line during a protest earlier this year. Those arrested were held without bail and tortured.

Recent protests have seen progressive forces throughout the country working together, as workers, peasants, feminists, and indigenous activists find common ground. Opponents of the right, including the Communist Party of Argentina, have seen their support and relevance increase as more and more look left for answers. Progressive forces have faced harsh repression, however, as the state employs everything from strike breaking to torture—old tactics of the military junta.

Will Argentina reckon with its history?

On March 24, 2016, the fortieth anniversary of the military coup, Barack Obama made a hugely controversial visit to Argentina. The Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, two groups dedicated to finding and identifying the thousands of missing victims of the junta, called the visit “a provocation.” “It’s been 40 years of searching for our sons and daughters,” explained Nora Cortiñas, one of the many aging parents still looking for answers. “It’s our date.”

Thousands of victims, as well as those born to political prisoners, remain unknown. With the active support of the CIA, the most reactionary segments of Argentina’s bourgeoisie murdered with impunity. Similar was carried out across Latin America, especially in neighboring Chile, during Operation Condor. Even today, the government has done little to prosecute the criminals involved or find their victims.

In 2013, eighteen former military officers were tried. Some, like former president Jorge Rafael Videla, were so old they died before a verdict could ever be reached. It makes little difference, however, to the estimated 30,000 who “disappeared” and the families they left behind. Though new evidence has been declassified by the CIA and the Pentagon, Mothers of the Plaza de Maya doubt they’ll ever discover the truth. As Cortiñas remarked, “they always black out the names and the important parts. … I don’t believe there will be anything in those documents.”

The people and the land still bare the scars of neoliberalism, the old and new wounds of class struggle. Though the current government fancies itself a democracy, the problems of dictatorship still exist. The solution of the capitalist class is, of course, more neoliberalism. But the cycle of reform has failed to serve the people or silence their outcry. Will Argentinians continue the struggle for temporary concessions? Or will the fires of revolution be reignited as the capitalist order once again pushes Argentina closer to despotism and destitution?


* Fun Fact: Macri narrowly avoided choking to death after swallowing a fake mustache whiling impersonating Freddie Mercury, something he’s apparently famous for.

It’s Time to Ditch the Leninist Aesthetic

Nothing screams “communism” more than Cyrillic letters and a strong Russian jaw. At least, that’s what comes to mind when one imagines the communist brand. Socialist realism, the iconic style of Soviet propaganda, is an enduring staple of the communist aesthetic and has and continues to inspire countless artists. But the thing about art is: it has its time. For socialist realism and the Leninist aesthetic, that time is not 2018.

In Russia’s Shadow

In late December, 1991, decrepit Soviet revisionism finally collapsed, taking the first socialist state with it. This, the fall of the Eastern Bloc, and the resultant crisis in or liberalization of what remained of the world socialist camp was undoubtedly the greatest moral defeat ever dealt to communism as an ideology. How could the very nation founded by Lenin, the international vanguard of the proletariat, fall? This is a question which still haunts communists and indeed every class of toilers to this very day.

The fall of the Soviet Union, in the eyes of the world, was the fall of communism. And while communists have attempted to explain away or distance themselves from the Soviet Union, she and communism are forever intertwined. Thus, it was 1989 when Francis Fukuyama, a State Department propagandist, began experimenting with “the end of history.” Something he finally declared in 1992 in his The End of History and the Last Man.

The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident … in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism.

– Francis Fukuyama

Nonsense, cries any half-wit honestly looking at the state of Western liberalism. But, as an other half-wit can see, honest looks are in short supply. This “end of history” narrative, teamed of course with over a century of anti-communist propaganda, stains any conversation about a post-capitalist world. It’s difficult enough even to get certain self-proclaimed socialists to discuss the abolition of private property, let alone dialectical and historical materialism. Why is this?

For starters, scientific socialism has long been entombed in the inaccessible works of dry academics and the self insulating book clubs that read them. New developments are all but unknown and few can even name a Marxist that isn’t Marx himself. Some have tried to change this. But how many are still using sixty year old agitprop?

It’s no wonder the liberals and charlatans are cashing on the word “socialism.” We sure as hell weren’t using it for anything!

The communist brand has been ignored. A travesty! At every opportunity to advance the proletarian movement, Western communists were too busy rehashing old arguments and venerating the dead to wage a relevant struggle.

As is, we still have to prove to people that communism is relevant. Trying to bring back the Soviet Union isn’t helping. We’re on the defensive, fighting just to be heard. Why shouldn’t we at least look good while doing it? It’s time to start caring about our image. Communism desperately needs to rebrand.

Don’t be a nerd

I hate to say it but very few people like Stalin or Mao. Fewer still are gonna vibe with anything involving North Korea. We need to get it through our heads that the anti-communist orthodoxy is stronger than we think. It might not be a good idea to make our most demonized figures the faces of our movement.

Now this does not mean we have to demonize them too. The self-flagellating pseudo-leftists like those at Jacobin who spend more time criticizing socialism than advocating for it are actively harmful to our movement. But should we really make our job harder than it has to be for nostalgia’s sake? Of course not.

We need to understand that how we look and act is a reflection of our cause. If our art is old, we’re old. If our style is irrelevant, we’re irrelevant. This clinging to old icons shows an unwillingness not only to move forward but also to actually serve the people.

The nostalgist is self-serving. They put their own preferences above mass work. It’s not that their jargon and niche historical aesthetic is off putting, it’s the proletariat that’s wrong. You can talk history all you want, if it doesn’t resonate with and inspire the working class, then it’s as good as any piece of bourgeois decadence.

The nostalgists need to realize that their aesthetic is for themselves. And that’s fine. Everyone needs a hobby. But art history is of little importance to the working class and its conquest of power. If you really want to just recreate the experiments of old, what you need is a time machine, not a revolution.

The Leninist aesthetic, in addition to be completely anachronistic, has been parodied so many times it’s all but useless now. No one takes it seriously except other communists. We need to make something new, something with mass appeal, something that isn’t the butt of a joke.

Just make it stop…

Don’t be edgy

Lifestylism, something expounded upon by the anarchist Murray Bookchin, is a problem not only for anarchy but for the entire spectrum of left politics. Communism necessarily means opposition to the status quo, support for the powers to come and not the powers that be. Anti-communism necessarily means just the opposite. For this reason, communism, like anarchy, is extremely attractive to the edgy-on-purpose contrarian. These types have no interest in actually doing anything productive or even reading theory, they just want to be cool.

Misinformed, childish, and destined to just become liberals later on, lifestylists make us all look bad. I know I certainly get secondhand embarrassment when I see lanky teenagers in Che Guevara t-shirts posing with their fists raised. It may be something the lifestylists get to look back on and laugh at, but for anyone actually trying to get educated and organize, it’s a stereotype you do not want to be associated it.

The old propaganda attracts the wrong kind of people. The last thing we need is more losers playing revolutionary. They’re only going to make us look bad and repel any serious people who might otherwise be ripe for radicalization.

Don’t be reactionary

There is one other person still holding onto the old look. But where the nostalgist and even the lifestylist mean well, this one is much more insidious. These are the dogmatists and defeatists who fetishize not only the old industrial proletariat but also the regrettable conservative attitudes of those long dead communists.

Pale faced Europeans in heteronormative scenes of production have the same appeal to reactionary “Marxists” as Rockwellian nostalgia has to the Make America Great Again crowd. They vary between simple disdain for identity politics and “social justice warriors” to outright bigotry, but it’s all the same in the end. Their hundred year old aesthetic has aged about as well as their politics.

These reactionaries have a narrow minded, romanticized, and inaccurate image of the working class. Anything that differs from this, such as reality, is disregarded. Anyone who points out their reactionary character is labelled a liberal. These are by far the worst and most harmful of those archaic communists.

Among these we often find Hoxhaists or third-worldists with nothing to offer anyone. Their dogmatism is a barely distinguishable from liberal respectability politics. They consider anyone not working with actual hammers and sickles to be petty-bourgeois and will frequently go off on some tirade blasting feminism, racial equality, or queer liberation, misquoting actual revolutionaries, completely unaware of how ridiculous they look. Unsurprisingly, they don’t realize how ridiculous the ushanka or the old Chairman Mao suit looks either.

Sorry guys, some white kid said identity politics were liberal and divisive.

We are neither Bolsheviks nor Red Guards. We are not twentieth century factory workers or Asiatic peasants. Our faces aren’t black with soot and our children aren’t sweeping chimneys. We are the tired, disillusioned peons of the twenty first century. We toil with smart phones in our pockets and caffeine in our blood. Some of us are not white, straight, cisgendered, or able bodied and, if history has taught us anything, the best of us will be none of those. The dogmatists and defeatists would deny our very proletarian character; but we own no more than those who stormed the Winter Palace or beat, killed, and threw their landlords out into the streets of Hunan and we’re no less angry.

Get with the times

If a picture really is worth a thousand words, we’ve been talking a lot of shit. Socialist realism and the Leninist aesthetic served the proletariat well during the heyday of the Cold War when it seemed anything was possible. But just as Soviet revisionism has been relegated to history, so must the old style of art. Neither our art nor our movement can advance if we’re stuck in the past. We need a fresh look that resonates with the popular masses, a real alternative to both liberal respectability politics and the impotency of the nostalgists and the contrarians.

The end of history is not here; but neither is Lenin. It’s just us, the enemy, and the present. We accept this or we die.

Fortunate Son: The Life and Legacy of John McCain

Today, John Sidney McCain III has died. The Republican Senator from Arizona held office for thirty one years before succumbing to glioblastoma, a rare and extremely aggressive form of brain cancer. He leaves behind a legacy of bloodshed, bigotry, and ruination which overshadows any sympathy he may have otherwise received.

Military Career and Capture

Son of the eventual Commander-in-Chief of all US Pacific forces, McCain enrolled in the US Naval Academy in 1954. As he would later recall, his parents neither pushed him into nor discouraged him from military service. “I remember simply recognizing my eventual enrollment at the Academy as an immutable fact of life, and accepting it without comment.” Despite scoring high on the entrance exam, McCain skated by, “barely passing,” and graduated ranking 894th out of a class of 899.

Overall, McCain’s military career is remarkable only due to bad luck. Stories of his bravery and perseverance as a prisoner-of-war ignore the mediocrity which preceded it. As a junior officer, he earned a reputation as serious partier and a sub-par pilot. As biographer Robert Timberg would write: “His performance was below par, at best good enough to get by. He liked flying, but didn’t love it. … McCain was an adequate pilot, but he had no patience for studying dry aviation manuals.”

McCain spent most of his time drinking, womanizing, and generally dicking around. As the son of an admiral, he faced few, if any, consequences for his actions. Records show the young hot shot displayed a reckless disregard for his own safety and the safety of others. He nearly died in 1958 while stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas after stalling out his engine. A mistake he’d make yet again in 1965 while flying over Norfolk, Virginia in a solo trainer. In 1961, while stationed in the Mediterranean, he collided with power lines, causing widespread black outs across southern Spain. This wouldn’t have happened at all if he wasn’t flying so dangerously low.

His first serious brush with death, however, came during the deadly 1967 fire aboard the USS Forrestal which claimed the lives of 134 people. In his 1999 memoir Faith of My Fathers, McCain claims that the accidentally launched missile which started it all struck him and his plane directly, though this has been contested. Unverified and largely politically motivated accounts claim McCain started the fire himself after a prank of his went awry. These are, of course, unverified and largely politically motivated. Official records shed very little light on the subject.

He first saw action during Operation Rolling Thunder. The sustained aerial bombardment, meant to crush the morale of the Vietnamese people, was ultimately a dismal failure. Though it did succeed in killing over 2 million Vietnamese, most of them civilians, and at least fourteen pilots from the DPR of Korea.

It was during Operation Rolling Thunder that McCain was thankfully shot down over “the heart of Hanoi.” Hanoi, of course, is the sprawling urban capital of Vietnam, a bustling city filled, then and now, mostly with civilians. McCain had just finished raining death upon thousands of horrified noncombatants when “a Russian missile the size of a telephone pole came up … and blew the right wing off my Skyhawk dive bomber.”

McCain described his descent and capture in detail in an interview with US News.

[The plane] went into an inverted, almost straight-down spin.

I pulled the ejection handle, and was knocked unconscious by the force of the ejection. … I didn’t realize it at the moment, but I had broken my right leg around the knee, my right arm in three places, and my left arm. I regained consciousness just before I landed by parachute in a lake right in the corner of Hanoi.

I hit the water and sank to the bottom. I think the lake is about fifteen feet deep, maybe twenty. I kicked off the bottom. I did not feel any pain at the time, and was able to rise to the surface. I took a breath of air and started sinking again. Of course, I was wearing 50 pounds, at least, of equipment and gear. I went down and managed to kick up to the surface once more. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t use my right leg or my arm. I was in a dazed condition. I went up to the top again and sank back down. This time I couldn’t get back to the surface. I was wearing an inflatable life-preserver-type thing that looked like water wings. I reached down with my mouth and got the toggle between my teeth and inflated the preserver and finally floated to the top.

Some North Vietnamese swam out and pulled me to the side of the lake and immediately started stripping me, which is their standard procedure. Of course, this being in the center of town, a huge crowd of people gathered, and they were all hollering and screaming and cursing and spitting and kicking at me.

About this time, a guy came up and started yelling at the crowd to leave me alone. A woman came over and propped me up and held a cup of tea to my lips, and some photographers took some pictures. This quieted the crowd down quite a bit. Pretty soon, they put me on a stretcher, lifted it onto a truck, and took me to Hanoi’s main prison.

He was sent to the nearest prisoner-of-war camp, Hoa Lo Prison, better known as the “Hanoi Hilton.” Lapsing in and out of consciousness, he spent the next few days being interrogated by a man he referred to as “The Bug.” Mark Salter, a top aide to the Senator and co-author on many of McCain’s books, told the Phoenix New Times that McCain admitted “Other guys had it a lot worse. I think they took it easier on me because of who my dad was.”

McCain receiving treatment at a Hanoi hospital, 1967.

McCain met frequently with the commandant of Hoa Lo Prison, Colonel Tran Trong Duyet, even giving him the occasional English lesson. Colonel Pham Van Hoa, then in charge of filming US prisoners, described McCain as acting “superior to other prisoners. … Superior in attitude towards them.”

Sitting in a fairly large cell, unable to eat without assistance, McCain recalled “Being a little naive at the time.” The capture of the son of the Commander-in-Chief of all US Pacific Force was a major propaganda victory for the North. He had not considered this when he agreed to be filmed by the French reporter Francois Chalais.

After I had been there about 10 days, a gook … came in one morning. This man spoke English very well. He asked me how I was, and said, “We have a Frenchman who is here in Hanoi visiting, and would like to take a message back to your family.”

I didn’t know at the time that my name had been released in a rather big propaganda splash by the North Vietnamese, and that they were very happy to have captured me. They told a number of my friends when I was captured, “We have the crown prince.”

Following the interview, he was visited numerous times by Vietnamese officials, including General Vo Nguyen Giap. Often, people came simply to speak to him personally, this admiral’s son. He was later moved to a smaller camp within Hoa Lo known as “The Plantation” and from here was moved periodically to different cells, both with other prisoners and in solitary confinement.

He would look back on his days here as deeply transformative. Both his patriotism and his faith in God were renewed and elevated. His allegiances, he would later write, were his the greatest comforts and strengths.

In prison, I fell in love with my country. I had loved her before then, but … It wasn’t until I had lost America for a time that I realized how much I loved her.

“He was a real hawk,” says Colonel Duyet, noting that “He never gave up on his support for America’s bombing of Vietnam.” Moreover, he was determined not to aid the communists in any way. When offered early release, he eventually declined. “The North Vietnamese were always putting this “class” business on us. They could have said to the others “Look, you poor devils, the son of the man who is running the war has gone home and left you here. No one cares about you ordinary fellows.” I was determined at all times to prevent any exploitation of my father and my family.”

Returning Home

He would eventually be released in 1973. Then thirty six years old, he had spent nearly five and a half years in Hoa Lo before boarding a plane for the Philippines and, finally, Florida.

McCain reunites with his family in Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

His years in prison, however, had little effect on his temper or his appetite for debauchery. Once home, he returned to a life of drinking and partying. His wife, Carol McCain, had been in a tragic accident four years earlier which left her struggling to walk and completely unable to keep up with her husband. McCain paid this no mind, instead turning to pretty much every woman who wasn’t his wife. Of their divorce, Carol would later be quoted as saying “My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be forty, he wanted to be twenty five.” Though she feels “no bitterness” towards him, acquaintances have been less forgiving, describing him as a “self-centered womanizer who effectively abandoned his crippled wife to play the field.”

Even the woman he eventually left her for, Cindy McCain, was treated with equal callousness. She faced the brunt of his notorious temper.

At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt!

Worse still, some have accused McCain of only marrying the beer heiress for the money. McCain made very little as an officer and, despite war hero status, lacked the aptitude to ever become an admiral like his father and grandfather. His father-in-law, on the other hand, Jim Hensley, was one of the richest men in Arizona.

Hensley, a mafia connected businessman, implicated in the murder of Don Bolles, a reporter with The Arizona Republic looking into said connections, set up his new son-in-law as Vice President of Public Relations for Hensley & Co., a gig which gave him the connections needed to secure his first Congressional election in 1982.

Political Career and War Crimes

The first real step of his political career was being named the Navy liaison to the Senate. Building off of his celebrity as a former prisoner-of-war, he was thrust onto Capitol Hill in 1977 to lobby on the behalf of the Navy to some of the most powerful politicians in the country.

It was then that he set his sights on Congress. Once he was hired by Hensley & Co., he made connections with the extremely influential Arizona bourgeoisie. He would replace longtime Republican Senator John Jacob Rhodes in the hotly contested 1982 election. Some of his connections, however, would come back to haunt him.

Charles Keating Jr., a rabid conservative and mobbed up real estate mogul, nearly cost McCain his career in 1987 when the Keating Five scandal revealed that he and four other senators lobbied by Keating used their influence to keep him from being audited. McCain was able to sweep the scandal under the rug, though Keating would not be as lucky. Once the stymied investigation was able to commence, he ended up being convicted for fraud and serving five years in a federal penitentiary.

McCain would create controversy again when in 1983 he voted against establishing Martin Luther King Jr. Day and then backed Arizona Governor Evan Mecham in refusing to observe the holiday in 1987. He voted four times against the Civil Rights Act of 1990 which sought to ban racial discrimination in employment. He’s also toed the “heritage not hate” line in regards to the Confederate flag.

He’s worked tirelessly to overturn Roe v. Wade, supporting a “Human Life Amendment” which would extend the Fourteenth Amendment to include fertilized eggs, thus making abortion legally murder in all fifty states. The Amendment also calls for a global gag rule, rejects the ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and calls for increased funding for abstinence-only education. He’s also opposed several equal pay bills which make it easier for women to sue for workplace discrimination.

He has firmly and unflinchingly opposed same sex marriage, as well as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill which would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, citing some nonsensical fear of “reverse discrimination.” He did, however, support the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell‘ policy right until the bitter end, both of the policy and of his life.

But what was most egregious was his hawkishness. One would imagine a former prisoner-of-war wouldn’t be so eager to send young people to the meat grinder that is unwinnable and unending imperialist war. This was never the case with him.

It goes without saying that McCain, a neoconservative à la W. Bush, supported entering and then escalating the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. What deserves mentioning is that, just in 2017, he unveiled his own personal plan to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan and surrounding areas significantly. His biggest criticism of Trump administration is merely that it isn’t bloodthirsty enough.

Where Bush was unable to go after Assad, McCain’s had a target on his back for years. Him and fellow war criminal Lindsey Graham have been some of the most vocal supporters of military intervention in Syria. McCain specifically supports the Free Syrian Army, a group of “moderate” rebels which have something of a love-hate relationship with ISIS, fighting them here and there while supplying them with a steady stream of weapons and food, all courtesy of good old Uncle Sam. McCain very clearly wanted to make Syria the next Libya, another nation whose destruction he vehemently supported before quietly forgetting about the whole thing once the open slave markets became known.

Gaddafi on his way out, Bashar al Assad is next.

Not content to support Islamic extremists in the Middle East, he was a huge supporter of Bill Clinton’s war in the Balkans, calling for support of radicals in Bosnia and Kosovo.

His calls for increased military intervention in Africa, especially Mali and Sudan, coincidentally align with his and his wife’s personal business interests.

Though he “prays there will never be a war with Iran,” he causally jokes about bombing the place. His hawkishness there even earned the ire of the CATO Institute which has pretty consistently come out in support of imperialist war.

He supports literal Nazi death squads in Ukraine, the very same who have deported and massacred Romani people and Jews (ironically using weapons supplied by Israel).

McCain in Ukraine next to Nazi Oleh Tyahnybok, seen preforming the Hitler salute.

In solidarity with his Nazi brethren and in line with his Russophobia, the outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin has called numerous times for drastic measures to be taken concerning Russia. McCain foamed at the mouth trying to get the US and NATO involved in Russia’s war in Georgia and, following that failure, has continually hoped to ignite conflict with Russia, calling the alleged 2016 election interference an “act of war.” He also made vague threats towards China, remarking that “the Arab Spring is coming to China.”

And, of course, who can forget the time he called for Trump to nuke the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a country he’s been gunning for since September 12, 2001?

Final Days

McCain’s final days were spent battling both with cancer and with President Trump. The “maverick” Republican, when he wasn’t voting exactly along party lines, butted heads with the President in late 2017 when he came out against Trump’s plan (or rather his lack thereof) to replace Obamacare, saving the Affordable Care Act at the eleventh hour. Upon returning to do so, the news of his cancer already known, he was given a standing ovation by his colleagues.

McCain back in the Capitol Building.

In December of 2017, he left Washington for the last time to be treated in his home state of Arizona. Thankfully for McCain, the Senator with his multi-millionaire wife was able to afford the best care available. This is not something most other Arizonians can say. Arizona has some of the worst healthcare access in the country. Worse yet, the state has seen insurance premiums skyrocket in recent years. For the average worker, the diagnosis of such a rare and aggressive form of cancer would’ve brought about only a quick but painful death and financial ruin. Instead, this ghoul got an extra year of life to advocate bombing brown people.

Yesterday, with death on horizon, the McCain family announced that they would be ceasing treatment. Less than twelve hours later, on August 25, 2018, McCain had died.

I think I can speak for all empathetic and freedom-loving people when I say my sympathy is with the victims of McCain’s imperialist blood lust.

Liberalism, Race, and the Rise of Trump

Most in the US attribute Trump’s 2016 election to one of two reasons: economic anxiety or racism. Either analysis however is incomplete. It would seem that conservatives and liberals alike, both so entrenched in their own right-wing worldviews, retreat into the comfortable shade of ideology before any meaningful conclusion can be arrived at. Thinkers on all sides of the mainstream political spectrum have touched upon the truth of the matter but, having reached the absolute limits of their ideology, immediately pull back, writhing in agony like a man having touched a sore wound.

Two Forms of One Ideology

The conservatives which seeks to erase the obvious racism of Trump, his administration, and his supporters are the most shameless, brazen, and arrogant of ideologues. The bad faith which has come to so characterize the conservative faction is never more displayed than when the Bill O’Reilly’s and Ben Shapiro’s come out to defend white supremacy. Adept dog-whistlers, they babble on endlessly about criminality and welfare queendom, making careful efforts to avoid using the n-word (usually by substituting it with “thug” or something similar). More often than not their “debates” consist of logical and rhetorical fallacies shouted over an increasingly frustrated opponent who somehow never gets a word in. Of course, this is intentional. Few of their claims stand up to the facts, even fewer to history.

That being said, they are damn good at what they do. No finer ideologues have ever existed than those conservative pundits under Obama and Trump. Their dedication to ideology is matched only perhaps by their liberal counterparts.

Whereas the conservative ideologue is essentially a snake oil salesman, deep down aware of their absurdity or at least their dishonesty, the liberal ideologue has a childlike naivety that could actually be endearing in another time. The liberal ideologue attempts to make sense of a fluid world with “woke” pseudoscience and an unwavering righteousness that fails to recognize its own ideological constraints. Nothing can be understood through the liberal lens precisely because it is so riddled with ideology. The ABC thinkers–that is Anything But Class as the Marxist Michael Parenti calls them–fail to note even the most obvious economic relations inherent to racism. They relegate the realities of racism to moral failings in much the same way early human tribes described the sun as a god. Having no science available to them, they created comforting narratives to explain the things that scare them. The difference is that the tribes were afraid of being eaten and did eventually figure out the sun was a star. Liberals, on the other hand, are afraid of being called out on their privilege and have not yet developed even the rudiments of a scientific world outlook.

What they end up with is highfalutin and admittedly very well written opinion pieces that contain nothing in the way of substance. They grasp at eclectic theories and pseudoscience, unable to create anything coherent. But that’s exactly what makes a liberal a liberal. Liberalism can be characterized precisely by its lack of science, its idealism. Ignoring the material realities of class, it latches onto the most superficial elements of a given issue. This is especially the case with racism.

Liberalism, of course, is the ideology of both conservatives and liberals. It’s so intricately woven into the fabric of mainstream political discourse that it’s effectively invisible. Class becomes a nonissue as the focus is shifted onto liberal identity politics uprooted from any material base in substance but maintaining the existing economic relations in practice. The conclusions may differ ever so slightly but the exact same methods were employed to get there and the result is the same: class is ignored and whites continue to benefit from the exploitation of black people.

In the middle of all this is the precariously situated centrist, the social liberal, fiscal conservative. All this means is they’re a liberal when times are good and a conservative when they aren’t. When push comes to shove, the centrist moves further right. They don’t like divisiveness though, it’s uncomfortable, and so they too entertain the idea of “post-racial America.” Centrists are often the most vocal on this.

Obama, Trump, and Post-Racial America

It is only once one has become so thoroughly diluted as to consider their ideology common sense, as nonideological that the question of “post-racial America” can be asked. Is the US post-racial? Of course not! The question isn’t even worth asking, the answer is so obvious.

Yet liberals, that is liberals, conservatives, and centrists, all saw evidence of this in the election of Barack Obama. A black man in the highest office in the country obviously changes none of the actual economic relations which keep black people impoverished and disenfranchised, which necessitate racism. Did Obama stop the plundering of Latin America, Asia, and Africa? No. Did Obama not detain and deport millions of innocent people? No. Did Obama not support Blue Lives Matter over Black Lives Matter? No. Did Obama even attempt to create a healthcare system which put people over profit? No. He moved to phase out federal private prisons, yes, and he blocked the Keystone XL pipeline, yes, but only in the final half of 2016. It took him a full seven and a half years to do this? Really?

Both moves, by the way, he so clearly knew would either be reversed by Trump immediately upon entering office (which they were) or would sweep the issues under the rug, giving Clinton room to reverse them without provoking much backlash. Is that a speculative claim? Sure. But nothing else in his presidency was in line with either of these. Obama had never disempowering corporations, he worked with them. Just look at his support for fracking, for example. Indeed, his and Trump’s policies are more aligned than they are opposed.

So why are liberals so horrified by Trump? In a purely logical world, they’d support him about as much as they supported Obama. But liberals, and again I mean both liberals and conservatives and even centrists, do not exist in a logical world. Obama was black and that in of itself was supposed to change things. For liberals, it was the end of racism. For conservatives, it was the intensification of racism against whites. For both, it was an opportunity to advance the cause of white supremacy, either by covering it up completely or justifying its active advance.

So why’d Trump win?

It is correct to say that people voted for Trump due to economic anxiety; but one must first recognize the racial lines these economic issues fall upon. Conservatives and centrists were vindicated by Trump. Here was their man, the staunch defender of white interests. McCain was their white man, Romney too, but neither were as vocal about it. Neither made it their cornerstone. None could sweep on this alone like Trump did. The issue was economic. The economic relations have long been racialized. So, economic anxiety caused by racism which is the result of the exploitation of black people for the benefit of whites is what caused people to vote for Trump.

It was both racism and economic anxiety. The two are linked. One cannot exist without the other.

Conservatives and centrists want to deny the racial element and liberals want to deny the economic element, either by ignoring the class struggle completely or putting the obviously secondary identity struggles on par with it. By doing so, all obfuscate the issue so much that they can continue to benefit from class and race exploitation in peace, dealing only with what are effectively nonissues.

Worse than that, all opposition to the bourgeoisie, to capitalism, is cast aside. Conservatives throw themselves to the feet of the bourgeoisie, begging, “Please, slash my wages, bust my union, divide my class, I’ll do anything to stay white!” Liberals, a bit less afraid of change, approach the bourgeoisie and demand, “Let the exploiters be as diverse as the exploited!” As for the centrists? They all pick a side eventually. Thus, the class interests of the bourgeoisie and the racial interests of all whites find protection, insulated by the inescapability of liberal ideology.

Right-Wing Opposition Threatens Venezuela’s Democracy and Sovereignty

Yesterday, an attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s life rocked Caracas. At a parade celebrating the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard, several drones packed with explosives descended upon the horrified crowd before detonating early and missing their target. According to Telesur, seven military officials were injured but, thankfully, no deaths have been reported. This latest act of terrorism, the most elaborate yet, once again confirms the obvious: the right-wing opposition and their foreign puppeteers are an existential threat to Venezuela’s democracy and sovereignty.

Old Enemies

Many of the opposition leaders and right-wing terrorists today are the same ones behind the failed 2002 coup which attempted to violently overthrow then President Hugo Chavez, as well as the violent outbursts which have taken place between 2014 and today. One of the terrorists arrested in connection with yesterday’s assassination attempt was also connected with the 2014 anti-government protests. Another was even allegedly involved in the failed 2017 attack on the military base in Valencia.

As for the higher ups, to name just one, there’s Henrique Capriles Radonski, who in 2002 stormed a Cuban Embassy with other right-wing terrorists to try and kill Venezuelan officials believed to be seeking refuge there. Capriles is now a top opposition leader with the US-funded far right party Primero Justicia and the Governor of Miranda.

There’s also Maria Corina Machado, an oligarch whose anti-Bolivarian NGO, Sumate, the National Endowment for Democracy [NED] and the US Agency for International Development [USAID] have given millions to. Just in 2014, hers was among the loudest voices calling for the opposition violence that would lead to the deaths of forty three people and she was implicated in a similar failed plot to assassinate Maduro.

And who could forget Leopoldo Lopez, the former mayor of Chacao, a wealthy district in Caracas, who led a band of murderous reactionaries into a crowd of pro-government supporters in an attempt to kidnap Chavez back in 2002. For this, he would be let go; though he was later arrested in 2014 on charges ranging from corruption to crimes of public instigation and arson, all of them premeditated. He, too, is a member of Primero Justicia, as well as Voluntad Popular, both parties which have received funding from the US, the NED, and USAID.

The opposition is, of course, using the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela as the justification and catalyst for their crimes. Though imperialists and the enemies of the Bolivarian Revolution have been quick to blame the food shortages on government mismanagement, this simply is not the case. Healthcare, housing, and education have improved considerably under Maduro, an improvement even from Chavez’s great reforms. The problem is that the opposition has been destroying food shipments.

Over fifty tons of food were destroyed in just one instance of right-wing violence last year. Another forty tons destined for children in Venezuela’s rural south were burned in a firebombing by opposition protesters cloaked, ironically, in shirts and flags depicting the Madonna and Child.

Protinal Proagro, a private Venezuelan food producer, was caught burying over 100 million perfectly healthy chicks alive by the Argentina-based new outlet, Primicias 24. It should come as no surprise that this shocking story of sabotage and kulakery was completely ignored by the Western media.

Moreover, Venezuela’s food shortages have been criminally exacerbated, if not entirely caused, by US sanctions. Just in 2017, the US blocked over 18 million boxes of food headed their way.* This is entirely in line with US foreign policy. They even bragged about doing similar to the DPR of Korea, though with much less success.

As for Venezuela’s international enemies, there is, of course, Human Rights Watch. They’ve has already called for UN intervention in Venezuela and you can read about their connections to the US State Department here.

There’s also the Lima Group, a collection of imperialist stooges and neoliberal dictators who get together periodically to bully and intimidate any Latin American country that dares to oppose the neocolonial order that keeps Latin America subservient to the West and the world market. As if to illustrate this fact even further, just before condemning Venezuelan democracy, the Lima Group met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a move which Bolivian Ambassador Juan Ramón Quintana, among others, described as, “the prelude of a US military intervention.”

One of their biggest criticisms was the historically low turnout in the recent election. Venezuela’s National Electoral Council puts voter turnout at 48%, though most independent organizations put that number closer to 46%. This poor turnout was caused largely by efforts of the opposition. The Socialist Party’s main opponents, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, boycotted the election, an old tactic of opposition parties who know they can’t get the votes. And opposition zealots were out in force, terrorizing anyone attempting to cast their vote. Just in Caracas, an innocent woman was gunned down by anti-government terrorists at a polling station.

It’s interesting to note also that the Lima Group (as well as the US) recognizes the 2017 election of Juan Orlando Hernández, a far right neoliberal, as President of Honduras despite widespread allegations of fraud.

Even more interesting, one member state of the Lima Group is Columbia, a nation whose government, depending on who you ask, has either turned a blind eye to or actively participated in “social cleansing,” the murder of homeless people, street children, suspected criminals, and anyone else whose mere presence might ruin a cocktail party. The Lima Group has obviously ignored this classicide, a disgusting but entirely unsurprising double standard.

Undoubtedly, the same interests and even many of the same people behind the 2002 coup, the violence in 2014, the 2017 Valencia attack, and the helicopter attack on the Supreme Court are also behind yesterday’s assassination attempt.

But what is the US’ role in this?

It’s a long story…

In 2007, journalist and lawyer Eva Golinger, a vehement Chavista, called out several journalists whom she accused of accepting bribes from the US government in exchange for spreading pro-US, anti-socialist sentiment. This backfired spectacularly. The government and the left mostly ignored the accusations while the right, then much smaller, accused Golinger of trying to start a political witch hunt. The story fizzled out without many noticing or caring.

There was, however, one very important listener who took this story very seriously: the US Embassy in Caracas.

A cable, later exposed by Wikileaks, ‘IV Participants and USAID Partners Outed, Again,’ reveals that, though Golinger had only managed to embarrass herself by going public with her accusations, she was right. The US was indeed funneling money to Chavez’s opponents. This was confirmed in another cable from 2004, ‘Update on the USAID/OTI Venezuela Program,’ which detailed several programs costing more than $450,000 annually working to “provide training to political parties on the design, planning, and execution of electoral campaigns.” One program would specifically build and fund “campaign training schools” to recruit campaign managers and promote “the development of viable campaign strategies and effectively communicating party platforms to voters.”

In short, the US government was manufacturing opposition.

These programs were definitely effective. Two major far right opposition parties, Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, were founded in part with funding from USAID and the NED. These would not be what the are today if not for the $100 million they received from US organizations throughout the last eight years. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Though many in the West have conveniently forgotten, the 2002 coup was a brutal and bloody conspiracy by anti-democratic forces against the people for the reestablishment of the right-wing oligarchy Venezuela suffered beneath before the Bolivarian Revolution. The economic prosperity pre-Chavez Venezuela experienced was at the cost of mass illiteracy, homelessness, and poverty. Their great democracy left out millions of working class families who found themselves unable to get out from under the boot of US imperialism and the handful of obscenely rich moguls and compradors who benefited from it. Chavez changed that. Within less than fifteen years, illiteracy in the country was declared eradicated by the United Nations and all levels of education and healthcare were made available to every Venezuelan. As for the talk of dictatorship? Nonsense. Former president Jimmy Carter himself called Venezuela’s electoral system “the best in the world.”

Naturally, the US and their pet bourgeoisie in Venezuela put a target on Chavez’s back. The Bolivarian Revolution was now an enemy of reactionary forces across the world. Immediately, the US began undermining Venezuelan democracy and sovereignty and, within four years, the Observer would undercover that “The failed [2002] coup in Venezuela was closely tied to senior officials in the US government.” Then president George Bush and his team of Reaganite “Dirty War” veterans were blatantly funding, arming, training, and supporting the conspirators.

The same is being done today. As Bolivian President Evo Morales pointed out over Twitter, “Within the last twelve months, US Vice-President Mike Pence made three trips to Latin America to meet at least eight presidents from whom he demanded support for a military intervention against our brother president of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro. Those are the Empire’s coup attempts.”

Learn From Allende

Note how leniently this terrible authoritarian dictatorship has treated violent anti-government extremists who actually tried to overthrow the government. Not only were most let go, some are now in positions of power. Judging by how they’ve used this power, is it any wonder why the government may not be taking any more chances with foreign-funded terrorists, especially when the US hasn’t ruled out a direct invasion? They are not going to let some scorned oligarchs force the working people back into poverty and destitution. And as the election has shown, the working people support their government.

Their leniency, however, has been one of the greatest weaknesses.

It has never been enough for the working class to seize the ready-made instruments of the state, especially in Latin America, the US’ backyard. Chavez, for all his great successes, clearly did not learn this following the failed 2002 coup. Letting terrorists and bourgeois keep their heads will always comes back to bite you. We can only hope that, after such a close call, Maduro will heed Lenin’s words: “democracy is not identical with the subordination of the minority to the majority. Democracy is a state recognizing the the subordination of the minority to the majority, i.e., an organization for the systematic use of violence by one class against the other.” The Bolivarian Revolution and the great victories of the Venezuelan proletariat will never be safe until a workers’ state is build atop the ruins of the old bourgeois democracy.


* Side Note: Even after all this, Venezuela still offered the US over $5 million in aid to victims of Hurricane Harvey; making it one of the only two nations to offer anything.

The Outmoding of the Slave

History has shown that slavery is an extremely profitable venture until it isn’t. New technological developments are a double edged sword for slave masters, as the increased productivity machines allow for is offset by their slaves own lack of education and inability to effectively utilize new technology, and growing slave populations make keeping your labor force from killing you more and more a daunting and costly task. At a certain point, slavery becomes too unwieldy and retards development. This existential fear was ever present for slavers in America during the entirety of their existence. We see this in their bloody and desperate fight to have kept slavery alive. By 1865, commercial slavery in the US was only abolished because it was ready to be surpassed by industrial production employing proletarians.

New World, New Markets

In the America of the seventeenth century, so much fertile land was available for so low a price that it was actually hard to find anyone willing to come as a laborer. Europeans flocked to the New World ready to begin life as a landowners and proprietors. Historian Thelma Foote notes that “the colony builders initially intended to rely almost exclusively on white indentured servants.” For the great masses of poor Europeans, getting to the New World seemed like a way to escape the destitution and squalor of their home countries. Signing away the next four to seven years of their lives, usually to grow tobacco or other crops, seemed to them a fair trade.

This cheap labor made the plantations immediately very profitable; so much so that the stream of indentured servants who arrived more or less voluntarily was no longer enough. The growth of the plantations had far exceeded the growth of the colonial labor pool. Not only was a new source of slave labor needed, a new form was needed as well. It was no longer an option to go through the trouble of finding people willing to work for free.

There seemed to be no solution in either Europe or America. The indigenous population had been enslaved in the past but were simply too difficult to take and control. It was dangerous work going into native territory and stealing people and there was always the risk of a war party coming back for them and then razing the whole damn town. What few were able to be taken usually succumbed to disease quickly. Working with the natives, too, seemed impossible, as slavery was not part of the indigenous mode of production in eastern North America. Many even argued that the English, who would come to dominate the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the eighteenth century, were better off making friends with the natives, as they were “natural allies” against the Spanish.

Africa, however, was another story. Slavery was already a feature in most, if not all, African societies and African slaves brought to the Americas were less susceptible to disease. As such, they seemed a perfect fit. In Virginia, in 1700, there were a mere 6,000 or so African slaves. By 1763, that number had increased to well over 170,000, nearly half the population.

Though agricultural slavery developed first in the north, it was stymied by the harsh winters. Though still a feature in northern plantations, as well as in urban workshops, slaves became more and more staples of the northern elite, acting as butlers, chauffeurs, and servants.  The real money for northerners was in the sale of slaves. Northern ports, especially in New England, became a hub for the slave trade. Their market was in the plantations of the south and the Caribbean. Slavers there preferred to deal with slaves not taken directly from Africa, as they were already accustomed to European etiquette and believed to be less likely to rebel.

Slavery became all the more profitable throughout the eighteenth century as northern slave merchants raked in money selling to southern plantation aristocrats who also raked in money cultivating tobacco, sugar, and cotton. Even the sea faring slave traders had their fill. Despite the inevitable economic and diplomatic interruption caused by the Revolutionary War and the founding of the United States, the British shipped, at the very least, 40% of all slaves from Africa to America. And though the British government abolished slavery in 1807, this did little to stop the transport of slaves by British merchants outside of Europe.

Industry and the Slave

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, slavery was firmly entrenched in southern society but declining significantly in the north where agriculture was taking a backseat to industry. In the 1790s and 1800s, British engineers and mechanics who made it to the US were immediately hired by wealthy northern financiers looking to build factories. With the south providing huge quantities of cheap agricultural products, especially cotton, the north found a foundation for industrialization.

Northern states had been gradually abolishing slavery since the 1770s. The Puritan anti-slavery rhetoric of the Quakers in New England and the Enlightenment philosophy of the American revolutionaries had changed public perception in just about every state above the Mason-Dixon Line. Vermont became the first state to abolish slavery in their 1777 Constitution. New Jersey was the last northern state to take similar measures when, in 1804, they passed a plan for gradual emancipation which would transform slavery into something more akin to colonial indentured servitude.

This was not an act of charity nor the product of a new humanist mindset. Anti-black racism was still near unanimously prevalent and many in the north, especially New Jersey, begrudged the abolitionist measures. So why did these states take measures at all? To push black people into agriculture and whites into industry.

By 1832, northern textile companies made up 88 out of 106 American corporations valued at over $100,000. These textile mills were worked, out of necessity, by wage laborers. White women and children, groups decidedly more educated than black slaves, were pulled from homes and fields into crowded factories. In their place, the former slaves could become the keepers of northern agriculture.

It is important to note that no slave could ever have worked in the modern industrial factories. Slaves, for the most part, were less educated than ever the European immigrants filling the factories. Though the machines at the time can hardly be considered complex, most considered black people as subhuman and “childlike,” likely unable to master the process of industrial manufacturing. Additionally, slave labor would slow the process of industrial manufacturing. Whereas the modern wage earner fears firing and so does everything to keep themselves employed, the slave in the same situation would worry about nothing. It’s not like they’re gonna lose their job. As was seen in plantations, slaves were not blindly obedient. Having no incentive to work harder but fearing to actually rebel or runaway, slaves often used passive aggressive means of resistance. Slowdowns and sabotage, in particular, notes Howard Zinn, were common. As bad as this was on the plantations, in a factory, this would be disastrous. The industrial proprietor needs the industrial proletariat. In the modern workplace, it is the wage, not the whip, that secures obedience.

New Jersey was the only exception to this. Western New Jersey, especially near Philadelphia, was significantly more urban and so was the hub of abolitionist thought in the state. Towards the east, however, agriculture was still king. The vast rural countryside still needed slaves. In Monmouth and Bergen Counties alone, the number of slaves more than doubled between 1772 and 1800. Thus, New Jersey was the only northern state to maintain slavery in some way, shape, or form until the ratification of the 13th Amendment.

Census records do show, however, that the slave population in New Jersey dwindled between from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the end of the Civil War. In 1800 there were 12,442 slaves. By 1860, only 218 remained. More than 5,000 gained their freedom just between 1820 and 1830. The growth of the proletariat proper and the corresponding diminution of slavery was inevitable.

Industry and the Civil War

The Civil War was a fight to death between two opposing orders, the old and the new, for the fate of the United States. The Confederacy was on the side of agricultural aristocracy, supporting free trade and, as was proven during the course of the war, backwardness. Keeping the US agrarian and underdeveloped, subservient to and dependent on the world market, would’ve resulted in poverty and ruination the moment the demand for cotton fell. Hence, as soon as their waters were blockaded and they were cut off from Europe, they crumbled beneath the Union’s industrialized army and were unable to secure any such technology for themselves. Cotton Diplomacy simply forgot that there were other cotton producers in the world, some closer to Europe than they.

The Union, on the other hand, was on the side of industrialization and modernity. They had more powerful banks, productive urban centers, and the kind of industry which could win the war and, eventually, the world. If the slave needed to be replaced with the proletarian, then so be it. As President Abraham Lincoln wrote, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it.”

After the war, the goal of the Reconstruction era was to create a new, industrial south in harmony with the north. The new south needed to share the same economic motivation as the north with its great industrial base. While the north was exploding with the never before seen marvels of industry and technology—of capitalism—the south began down the long path to industrialization; beginning with the very same rudimentary textile mills which emerged some seventy years earlier in the north.

Child worker in a South Carolina textile mill, 1908.

The Black Nation

So what happened to black people following the end of commercial slavery, both in the north and south? When slavery ended, semi-feudalism and semi-colonialism began. Sharecropping turned black slaves into tenant farmers, effectively tied to the land, and slave masters into landlords, receiving tribute from their former slaves.

As tenant farmers, they proved more useful than slaves. Unlike the slave, the tenant farmer has initiative, is invested in the success of their crop. Where the slave may laze as an act of quiet rebellion, the tenant farmers very life depends on good harvests, cultivated fields, and the many hundreds of hours of work this takes. Of course, it’s the former slave masters who benefited the most from this.

Indeed, the “free” black population formed their own nation, a black nation. This, of course, was imposed on them from without. Unlike the white proletariat, theirs was a feudal exploitation which produced superprofit for their colonial masters. Their labor benefited only the white nation, exactly as the exploitation of the third world creates superprofits which benefit only the imperialist power and its labor aristocracy.

Segregation, both culturally and in written law, defined the borders of the black nation. Jim Crow defined the terms of their unconditional surrender, was the black nations Treaty of Versailles. In the absence of iron chains, rope would suffice to inspire terror in and do war with the new black nation as the white supremacist ideology which justified and maintained slavery now justified and maintained colonization. It can be said, and has, that the terror and colonial exploitation of Jim Crow was even worse than slavery. But such is life for a citizen of the black nation trapped within the white one.

Mao on Maoism: The Dialectical Case for Mao Zedong Thought

Maoism has been around, at least in name, since the mid-1940s. Numerous attempts were made to elevate Mao Zedong Thought to the level of an “-ism,” much to Mao’s displeasure. In 1948, in a correspondence with Wu Yuzhang, then president of North China University, he refused to allow his name to be listed alongside Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin, writing, “there is no Maoism”.  In 1955, at a conference, again it was suggested that Mao Zedong Thought be elevated to Maoism. Mao replied simply, “Marxism-Leninism is the trunk of the tree; I am just a twig.” This was not mere modesty, this was dialectical.

What’s in a name?

To uphold Maoism is to hold the theory and practice of Mao Zedong as a new, higher stage of development in socialist science. Historian Hu Angang described this Maoist tendency as a precursor to the cult of personality which would emerge around Mao in the events of and leading up to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. In the decades following Mao’s death, however, Maoism was given the proper scientific treatment and thoroughly systematized. The exemplar of this and the ideological predecessor to most Maoist parties today was the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement [RIM]. The publishing of their declaration, Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!, is considered by many to be the moment when Maoism was crystallized as a theory, taking in the experience not just of the Communist Party of China, but other parties such as the Communist Party of Peru, the first to lead a revolution using Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theory.

In order to examine Maoism as an -ism, we must first understand the theoretical and practical “ruptures” that supposedly make Maoism a higher stage. I will now quote Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism! at length.

Mao Zedong developed Marxism-Leninism to a new and higher stage in the course of his many decades of leading the Chinese Revolution, the world-wide struggle against modern revisionism, and, most importantly, in finding in theory and practice the method of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat to prevent the restoration of capitalism and continue the advance toward communism.

Mao Zedong comprehensively developed the military science of the proletariat through his theory and practice of People’s War.

Mao solved the problem of how to make revolution in a country dominated by imperialism. … This means protracted People’s War.

Mao Zedong greatly developed the proletarian philosophy, dialectical materialism. In particular, he stressed that the law of contradiction, the unity and struggle of opposites, is the fundamental law governing nature and society. He pointed out that the unity and identity of all things is temporary and relative, while the struggle between opposites is ceaseless and absolute, and this gives rise to radical ruptures and revolutionary leaps. He masterfully applied this understanding to the analysis of the relationship between theory and practice, stressing that practice is both the sole source and ultimate criterion of the truth and emphasizing the leap from theory to revolutionary practice.

Mao Zedong further developed the understanding that the “people and the people alone are the motive force in the making of world history.” He developed the understanding of the mass line.

Mao taught that the Party must play the vanguard role – before, during, and after the seizure of power … He developed the understanding of how to preserve the proletarian revolutionary character of the Party through waging an active ideological struggle against bourgeois and petit bourgeois influences in its ranks.

In short, according to the RIM, Maoism teaches that: 1) socialism is class society and so class struggle and the revolution continue under the dictatorship of the proletariat; 2) People’s War is a universally applicable strategy and necessary for the success of the revolution; 3) the party must follow the mass line method of leadership and become a mass party; 4) the struggle against revisionism will take place within the party. Setting aside for now the question of the correctness or incorrectness of these theories, it must first be asked: why did Mao insist that “there is no Maoism,” that Mao Zedong Thought was “just a twig” on the tree of Marxism-Leninism? Because nothing truly new is created in Mao Zedong Thought, there is no rupture.

Refinement

The theories themselves were not yet elaborated when Mao began formulating them, of course, but the foundation was already inherent in Marxism-Leninism. Mao’s theories arose not as a result of any new developments in the objective conditions of the world and their subsequent analysis, but rather from the application of Marxism-Leninism to the objective conditions of semi-feudalism in general and Chinese semi-feudalism, semi-colonialism in particular.

Mao’s theories are also anti-revisionist, criticizing both the revisionist strains within the Communist Party of China and, later, the Khrushchevite revisionism of the Soviet Union. He writes:

It does happen that the original ideas, theories, plans, or programmes fail to correspond with reality either in whole or in part and are wholly or partially incorrect. In many instances, failures must be repeated many times before errors can be corrected and correspondence with the laws of the objective process achieved … when that point is reached, the movement of human knowledge regarding a certain objective process at a certain stage of its development may be considered completed.

It often happens, however, that thinking lags behind reality; this is because man’s cognition is limited by numerous social conditions. We are opposed to die-hards in the revolutionary ranks whose thinking fails to advance with changing objective circumstance and has manifested itself historically as Right opportunism.

We are also opposed to “Left” phrase-mongering. The thinking of “Leftists” outstrips a given stage of development of the objective process; some regard their fantasies as truth, while others strain to realize in the present what can only be realized in the future.

In Mao Zedong Thought we find not new developments but new refinements and applications of existing theories. His elaboration on the dialectical materialist conception of knowledge is not new in anyway. He is pulling entirely from Marx, Engels, and Lenin before him. Though the RIM credits Mao with these theories, it is Mao himself who points out in On Contradiction that Lenin was the one who long ago defined dialectics as “the study of contradiction in the very essence of objects,” and referred to the law of the unity of opposites as the “kernel” of dialectics. Moreover, we can find everything from the Two World Outlooks to the law of the transformation of quantity into quality just in Engels’ Dialectics of Nature.

Any serious study of Marxism could’ve concluded the same things. No new developments gave rise to Mao’s contributions. He is more than anything taking Stalin’s advice and reiterating the “so-called “generally-known” truths” of Marxism, so as to “educate [these comrades] in Marxism-Leninism.” Thus, Mao’s theories are rightfully considered an anti-revisionist thought, not an -ism.

Quality and Quantity

Mao examines the dialectical materialist conception of knowledge in On Practice, explaining that all rational knowledge and correct thinking is resultant first on direct experience and perception, then on cognition. “Rational knowledge depends upon perceptual knowledge and perceptual knowledge remains to be developed into rational knowledge.” Before any concept can be synthesized, there must be the perceptually knowledge of the objective world. And once there are conceptions, they must be tested, for “It is only when the data of perception are very rich (not fragmentary) and correspond to reality (are not illusory) that they can be the basis for forming correct concepts and theories.” In doing so, he elucidates also the law of the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa, wherein a quantitative change leads to a qualitative change.

He touches upon the proof of this law in the historical development of Marxism in On Contradiction, noting that “As the social economy of many European countries advanced to the stage of highly developed capitalism, as the forces of production, the class struggle, and the science developed to a level unprecedented in history, and as the industrial proletariat became the greatest motive force in historical development, there arose the Marxist world outlook of materialist dialectics.” He expands on this further in On Practice:

Marxism could be the product only of capitalist society. Marx, in the era of laissez-faire capitalism, could not concretely know certain laws peculiar to the era of imperialism … because imperialism had not yet emerged. … only Lenin and Stalin could understand this task. … the reason why Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin could work out their theories was mainly that they personally took part in the practice of the class struggle and the scientific experimentation of their time.

By “their time,” what is meant is the objective conditions of the world at the time they were studying. Both Marx and Engels and Lenin and Stalin made legitimate theoretical ruptures because they had begun analyzing an entirely new period.

In Marx and Engels’ time, a scientific, dialectical materialist conception did not yet exist, nor had a dialectical materialist analysis of capitalism been undertaken. The closest to these at the time was Hegel’s idealism and the bourgeois mechanical materialism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, with the industrial revolution having come to a close, great industrial factories and mills had been erected employing armies of proletarians. Small artisanal producers had finally been banished and so went with them many of the last ideological and economic vestiges of feudalism in Western and Central Europe. New objective conditions arose which the ideology of the previous centuries was unable to comprehend and which necessitated a new theoretical rupture. “No genius could have succeeded,” Mao writes, “lacking this condition.” Their theoretical rupture, the crystallization of dialectical and historical materialism, was only made possible due to the fact that Marx and Engels were studying capitalism in the era of capitalism, science in the scientific age.

But Marx and Engels, in their time, studied a different kind of capitalism than Lenin and Stalin practiced in. In Lenin and Stalin’s time, imperialism had emerged and capitalism was qualitatively transformed; thus, a new theoretical rupture in continuity with the Marxism of Marx and Engels was needed to make dialectical materialism correspond again with the objective laws of the new stage. We must note that imperialism emerged in accordance to the law of the transformation of quantity into quality. Capitalism underwent a quantitative change with the increase in the concentration of production which resulted in the rise of finance capital, a qualitative change. (Hence why the first thirty or so pages of Imperialism are just statistics, i.e. quantities.) And so it is accurate to declare that Leninism emerged in and from the era of imperialism and that it is a rupture in continuity with Marxism because it brought Marxism back into accordance with the objective laws of the new imperialist stage of capitalism.

The Maoist J. Moufawad-Paul, however, rails against this in his Continuity and Rupture, calling Mao’s conclusion “pseudo-science” (though he does not credit Mao for this conclusion and instead gives credit to the New Communist Movement). He writes:

The fact that old “Maoism” could not think beyond its Marxist-Leninist limits was demonstrated in the clichéd formula that Leninism was “the Marxism of the imperialist era”. Such a formula … was ultimately unscientific.

The first problem with this formulation is that it is an impoverishment of Leninism. … Leninism thus becomes a phenomenon that is important because of a time … not because of the theorizations it has produced regarding this time. The formulation … explains nothing of itself by a reduction to the unscientific notion of a zeitgeist.

The second problem … is that it fails to recognize that imperialism existed prior to Lenin and that the Marxism of Marx and Engels was also a “Marxism of the imperialist era” but, clearly, a different era of imperialism.

In this sense, Maoism could be called the communism of the socialist era.

It seems Moufawad-Paul has completely forgotten the law of the transformation of quantity into quality. If not, then he has knowingly destroyed his argument in the very sentence with which he makes it.

He notes that imperialism did exist beforehand but admits that it existed in another form. “Of course,” he writes, “Lenin’s discussion of imperialism is an examination of an imperialism transformed by capitalism,” i.e. imperialism which had undergone a qualitative transformation since Marx and Engels’ time. By acknowledging this and yet still denying the start of an imperialist era distinct from the time of Marx and Engels, he has thrown the law of the transformation of quantity into quality to the wind.

We see this again when he declares that: “socialist revolutions alter the meaning of global imperialism.” Indeed this is true, but, to date, socialist revolutions have only ever altered imperialism quantitatively. A few liberated nations or independent blocs have not changed in any qualitative way the nature or function of capitalist imperialism. It is clear that we are very much still in the same era as Lenin and so there have not yet been grounds for a new theoretical rupture. All analyses since Lenin and Stalin up to this point have only ever operated within the framework of Leninism and within the objective conditions of imperialism.

Moreover, Moufawad-Paul, despite denying actually existing socialism (and thus bringing to a swift end the era of socialism), says that Maoism can be considered in a sense a product of “the socialist era.” When, I must ask, was this socialist era? If it emerged with the first socialist state then did not Lenin and Stalin practice under the socialist era as well? Are not their theoretical and practical developments operating in the era of socialism? If that is the case, then The Foundations of Leninism it can be said serves to crystallize Marxism-Leninism both as the Marxism of the imperialist era and the socialist era. And it must be according the dialectic of continuity and rupture.

Again, it must also be noted that Mao made no theoretical ruptures in the Marxist understanding of socialism, since Lenin and Stalin had long since understood socialism as class society. For example, in State and Revolution, Lenin states: “The proletariat needs state power both for the purpose of crushing the resistance of the exploiters and for the purpose of guiding the great mass of the population-the peasantry, the petty-bourgeoisie, the semi-proletarians-in the work of organizing a socialist economy. By educating a workers’ party, Marxism educates the vanguard of the proletariat, … capable of leading the whole people [Lenin’s italics] to socialism, of directing and organizing the new order.” Thus we see his conception of Maoism as a theoretical rupture crumble before the vast theorizations of Lenin and Stalin, especially during their time leading the October Revolution down the path of socialist development.

Lenin’s understanding of the state again highlights the failure of Maoists to retain and understand the law of the transformation of quantity into quality. For, as the state changes qualitatively from a bourgeois dictatorship to a proletarian dictatorship, the foundation of all bourgeois ideology is gradually pulled out from under it, first with one great tug (revolution) and then gradually with the eventual disappearance of capitalist production altogether and its replacement by socialist production. By understanding this, as well as, as Stalin puts it, that “the history of the development of society is above all the history of the development of production,” we come to realize that continuing the revolution during the dictatorship of the proletariat is entirely unnecessary.

Did the bourgeoisie continue the revolution against feudalism after they’d already emerged victorious? No. Feudalism suffered its great defeat at the hands of the young capitalists and was eventually relegated to history by the inevitable development of capitalism. The presence of feudal classes under capitalism forms a contradiction but it is not an antagonistic contradiction. “Difference itself is contradiction.” says Mao. “The question is of different kinds of contradiction, not of the presence or absence of contradiction. … unlike the contradiction between labor and capital, it will not become intensified into antagonism or assume the form of class struggle.”

As socialist development goes forward, the small quantity of bourgeois producers will be reduced, just as the feudal lords were, to impotency and finally death, taking whatever’s left of the bourgeois ideological superstructure with them. By the diminution of their numbers and economic output, they will have been qualitatively transformed into a class without intense, antagonistic opposition to the proletariat. The same applies even more so to the peasantry and the semi-proletarians.

Maoists like Moufawad-Paul insist, against Stalin’s warnings, that the party of the proletariat must be a mass party in order to eliminate prejudice. What they do not grasp is that, as prejudice is a product of capitalism, it too will be gradually destroyed simply because it is incompatible with the new socialist system. Moufawad-Paul is correct to say, “Class is always clothed in the garments of oppression” and that “there is never an instance of purely abstract class struggle that is stripped from its ideological trappings,” but he is wrong to say that since “Capitalism has never been a pure mode of production” (Louis Althusser’s revisionist assertion) the “final instance” of capitalism’s lingering effects on the ideological superstructure “never arrives,” that bourgeois ideology will not or cannot eventually wither away.

Moufawad-Paul uses capitalism’s few remnants of feudal ideology to demonstrate the lasting effects of class hegemony on ideology but fails, again, to see the qualitative transformations which have taken place. The remaining ideological trappings of feudalism have survived only because they’ve served the interests of the now ascendant bourgeoisie. Even then, it has long been noted that all tradition and ideology has fallen before the hunt for profit.

It must be asked, what is the usefulness of prejudice, of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc., to the proletariat? The proletariat does not have its very class survival vested in the exploitation of another class and thus has no need for ideological justifications for oppression and exploitation. What reactionary attitudes we will surely see survive the revolution will just as surely die off as the economic base for such reactionary thinking disintegrates. To deny this is to deny the very possibility of communism.

All the Wrong Lessons

The last thing which must be addressed is Maoism’s claims of universality and necessity. It is clear that the mass line method of leadership and People’s War are very useful. But the simple fact that revolutions have succeeded in the same objection conditions as the Chinese Revolution (the age of imperialism and socialism) without employing these methods and strategies proves that they are not prerequisites for revolution.

This makes Maoism distinct from similar strains of thought. Mao Zedong Thought, the ideological parent of Maoism, is not in of itself all that unique. Strains like Fidelismo and Ho Chi Minh Thought exist and have proven just as successful as Mao’s theories have, if not moreso. Why then are there no “Ho-ists”? Where are the great international movements upholding “Castroism” as the third stage of Marxist science? What makes the Maoist phenomenon different? The difference is that Chinese ultra-leftism arose in opposition to Soviet opportunism and grafted itself onto the world communist movement due to the significance of the Sino-Soviet split (much in the same way Trotskyism forever left its mark not due to its success in practice but to Trotsky’s expulsion from the Party and the rise and fall of the Fourth International).

Like Trotskyists, Maoists have learned all the wrong lessons from the historical experience of Mao Zedong Thought. They have been blinded by Mao’s criticism of the Soviet Union and so they dogmatically cling to an outdated post-split mindset. Mao was correct to oppose Khrushchevite revisionism, but his Three Worlds theory was incorrect and he was horribly wrong to support CIA stooges, butchers, and anti-communists across the world for no other reason than to oppose the Soviet Union. The modern belief in the “degeneration” of all actually existing socialist states, Soviet “social imperialism,” and, for some, the descent into defeatist third-worldism all bare the scar of a post-split defensiveness.

This sectarian and ultra-leftist tendency manifested itself clearly in the cult of personality which formed around Mao and survives today in the belief in Chinese “imperialism” and “capitalist restoration.” This is illustrated even further in the sectarianism and wrecker activity of so many Western Red Guard organizations. But by far the worst of Maoism was demonstrated in the extreme dogmatism and cultishness of the Communist Party of Peru who lit their Shining Path with the flames of the Cuban, Soviet, and Chinese embassies they destroyed in pointless terror attacks.

The sad part is that Mao saw it coming. He fought against every attempt to elevate Mao Zedong Thought to Maoism or to his literal thoughts. He prohibited the naming of streets and buildings in his honor, rejected idolization, and encouraged criticism of himself and his policies at all levels of Party and governmental work.

“Men are not sages,” he said. “Even saints make mistakes.” As with all things, we must look critically at Mao’s successes and failures just as he encouraged for most of his life. We must reject what is wrong and chase what is right. We must be objective. We must reject all dogmatism and cultishness. We must reject Maoism as Mao himself did.

In Their Own Words: Hamas

Once again, bombs are raining down on Gaza. In response to rockets fired into Israel, the Israeli military has begun attacking alleged Hamas positions in what may be the most severe escalation of violence since 2014. As always, many innocent Palestinians have been caught in the crossfire, though the big target for Israel and its allies is apparently Hamas, the so-called “leaders” of the Gaza Strip. Israel and the United States label them a terrorist organization. But what is Hamas actually?

Islamic Resistance

Hamas is the largest nationalist group operating in Palestine currently. Its name is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya – The Islamic Resistance Movement. Its social service wing, Dawah, follows the model of Islamic welfare established by Muhammad. Dawah is divided into multiple departments: preaching and guidance, welfare, education, charity, health, and sport and reconciliation. Its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is the muscle of the organization and operates in secrecy throughout Gaza and the West Bank.

The offical emblem of Hamas.

According to Hamas’ 1988 charter, written less than a year after the First Intifada, its mission is the liberation of Palestine from Israeli colonialism and imperialism through any means necessary. They welcome peace but do not expect liberation to come peacefully. The faith and ideology of Hamas is based in Sunni Islam, the most common religion in Palestine, but they work with all Muslims as well as many Christians and welcome anyone supportive to their cause.

Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Quran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.

Critics of Hamas claim it is an radical Islamic terror organization rooted in antisemitism. Hamas denies the charges of antisemitism. They have no problem with the Jewish people or religion but with Israel and their colonial occupation of Palestine. They also resent being called “terrorists.” To them, the real terrorists are the Zionist invaders who have killed so many Palestinians in ethnic cleansing campaigns. To use their own words: “Occupation, injustice, and impunity cause resistance. Occupation is the root cause of the conflict. Justice for the Palestinian people is a prerequisite to peace.”

Modern Jihad

In 2017, Hamas released a new document outlining their principles and goals. It takes on a wholly different tone. Compared to the charter, it’s almost secular. It stresses the historical injustices imposed on the Palestinian people and expresses the need and desire for the unity and independence of the Palestinian people.

Palestine is a land that was seized by a racist, anti-human, and colonial Zionist project that was founded on a false promise.

The new document makes things very clear. The Balfour Declaration, the British Mandate Document, the UN Palestine Partition Resolution, and anything based off these are illegitimate. Israel (referred to as “the Zionist entity”) will never be recognized by Hamas. They also hold that the Oslo Accords violated the rights of the Palestinian people and, thus, refuse to accept or recognize them either.

Hamas militants march in Khan Yunis, Gaza.

They will accept nothing less than the full liberation of Palestine, the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the return of all Palestinian refugees. They hold that anything that infringes upon the rights of the Palestinian people, including the taking of land and the forced relocation of Palestinians, is to be considered an act of aggression. They also support the right to bear arms and resist Zionist aggression. One almost finds echoes of the Declaration of Independence in the new document.

The Palestinian people are one people, made up of all Palestinians, inside and outside of Palestine, irrespective of their religion, culture, or political affiliation.

Practice and Praxis

Hamas supports pluralism and democracy and has engaged in electoral politics throughout Gaza and the West Bank. They held the majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council after their landslide victory in 2006. However, tensions between them and their main rival, Fatah, boiled over the year after. Deadly clashes in Gaza resulted in the establishment of a new legislative body which was unconnected to the West Bank. In 2014 they agreed to form a national unity government but it has yet to be fully implemented.

Though Hamas has the largest parliamentary and military presence in Gaza, it cannot be said that they actually rule the Gaza Strip. Israel controls the borders, trade, and airspace. Nothing gets in or out without Israel’s permission. The closure of the area coupled with their unwillingness to grant permits to schools and hospitals for Palestinians outside of Gaza has lead to a dramatic worsening of living standards in Gaza. Save the Children describes conditions in Gaza as “unlivable” and suicide has skyrocketed as a result of the lack of resources, inability to move freely, constant warfare, and staggering unemployment inside “the world’s largest open air prison.”

Especially following the failure of the Camp David summit and the election of Benjamin Netanyahu – a staunch opponent of the peace process and the Oslo Accords – in Israel, the Palestinian Authority has been weakened significantly by Israeli interference. Hamas has been picking up where the Palestinian Authority has left off, organizing schools, clinics, and food drives and standing up to the Zionist colonizers. Though Israelis may view Hamas as a threat, for the people of Gaza, they are one of the only organizations fighting for their rights and lives.

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