Thursday, October 31, 2013

Anarchism: Bad in Theory


Have you ever worked with anarchists that criticizes all forms of leadership, yet blindly follows the orders of two or three key people? Have you ever had anarchists demand that all disagreements be settle with consensus, but then ignore objections to their own views and opinions? Have you ever had anarchists demand unity, but then ignore everyone else and do what they want? Have you had anarchists demand "affinity groups to pursue a diversity of tactics," but then show up and disrupt other groups events? How should we understand this?

Are anarchists just a bunch of assholes? All they self-entitled and demand everything be done their way? Are they so politically naive that they think they can get whatever they want without compromise? While all of these answers may be as psychologically satisfying as they are self-serving, they don't really strike to the heart of the issue. The real root of these contradictory behaviors lies in the ideology itself.

I this essay I shall start from two axiomatic political facts. First, I shall include Hobbes' notion of war as the state of nature and the state as passive sovereign. Second, I shall include Arrow's Impossibility Theorem which denies any "purely democratic" method of preference registration. From there, I'll will address various anarchist methods of political adjudication including majoritarianism, affinity groups, traditions, federalism, and any complex methods of adjudication.

Hobbes: War or the State

We can see the fundamental political problem with an expanded read of Hobbes' Leviathan. Hobbes laid out the most basic political question. First, he laid out the condition of humanity without a state or sovereign. Secondly, he pointed out that the problem with this condition did lie in immorality, but the lack of political adjudication. Finally, I will show how this provides a foundational condition that anarchism must avoid. This will provide one of the two insoluble hurdles for anarchist theory.

First, Hobbe's argues that without a state or sovereign then what exists he calls a "state of nature." Hobbes argues that every individual has a right to do what is necessary to secure their own existence. In this condition, everyone essentially had to look at for themselves. While some may form collectives or bands, ultimately the ability to obtain what one wants comes down to force. The ability to get what one wants depends on the force of the individual or collective to impose its will on other individuals and collectives. This condition leads to anarchy in a pejorative sense which nearly all anarchists reject.

However, the situation remains more complex. In a latter passage, Hobbes discusses and rejects the possibility of divine revelation as a political foundation. No individual or collective can substantiate their divine revelation to others even if its true. This same argument would extend to moral arguments and reasoning as well. There does not exist a universal or clear cut morality that would then "decide" politically for any group or individuals. Furthermore, if you have moral individuals acting morally, but within different moral or religious systems then you'll necessarily create conflict. If an atheist believes that schools must morally not teach religion because it slows progress and critical thinking, but a christian disagrees then they have no recourse to adjudicate their differences in a state of nature except for force. It may seem "separation" provides the answer, but in serious questions such as "should children have vaccines" it isn't moral to the majority who believe that children should if the individual parents decide they should not. The political difference has not been resolved except in the case of force where one side has or does not have power to coerce the other. In this case, the state of nature has nothing to do with "human nature," but the question of political power even among moral actors.

Few anarchists would accept this condition. Few would accept and endless war of all against all where force decides political decisions. In fact, this condition remains, on its face, the most obvious, unsophisticated, and theoretically empty charge against anarchism. However, many of the methods that Anarchism believes it escapes this condition, does not in fact do so. Rather it reproduces the conditions of force against force. Certainly anarchism does not seek to reproduce this condition, but also it does not seek to reproduce the state.

However, this begs the question, what is the state? In this case, we will go with the most minimal form of the state possible. We will go with a state as a formal rule held above the active political participants within a situation. Ultimately, Lenin remains correct that the ultimate force of the state comes from special bodies of armed people including the military and police that can enforce this formal rule, but we should argue for the most wide notion of state to begin with. However, the foundation is a formal principle of the rule which is binding on all political participants and has coercive force behind it.

The Leviathan provides the framework for decisions
The political structure of the state does not lie in any particular rule, but rather that the formal rule and its enforcement supersedes the immediate participants. A rule for a society may determine that only one man decides for all. This rule begs the question of why not a majority rule. This, in turn, begs the question of rule by consensus. This, in turn, begs the question of why not rule by one or a majority. This formal rule binds the political participants and at the foundation level can be called the "state."

One might object that the rule cannot superseded the individual political participant. However, this objection does no political work. A king is recognized as a king only if society at large recognizes him as a king. The fact that people may ignore the rules does not change the social reality of the rules in place or the decent into the state of nature if all rules are ignored.

Thus we are left with two conditions absolutely unacceptable to anarchist. The failure of anarchism must result in either the state of nature or the state itself. If anarchism should remain a viable ideology, then it must overcome both of these conditions. Anarchism cannot stand as a revolutionary ideology if it simply consists of the strongest force against all others (the state of nature), nor can it stand as a principled ideology if it essentially resorts to statism.

This provides the foundation for anarchism. It must avoid the state of nature and statism. However, this is much easier said than done especially when dealing with foundational democratic theory.

Arrow's Impossibility Theorem and the Myth of True Democracy

Anarchism has held its theoretical position as the most democratic of all revolutionary ideologies. The foundation for this claim remains dubious at best. Democracy does not simply exist with a group of like-minded individuals who agree on everything. It's about negotiating serious political differences in order to reach a collective decision.
Arrow's Impossibility Theorem

Arrow's impossibility theorem lays out the impossibility of a democratic preference ranking scheme. The complexities of the theorem can only be explained in set theory, but one can grasp intuitive concepts of a popularized version.

At it's basic level, it states that it's impossible to create a set of ranked preferences systems that satisfies our notions of fairness. Consider that there are three preferences and any number of voters. In society there can be a non-transitive preference. There can be a preference of A over B, B over C, and C over A. In this condition preference, it's not transitive. One must sacrifice some principle of democratic theory.

Despite the obscure nature of the theory, the basic upshot of the impossibility theorem remains clear. There is no "true democracy." Any given democratic preference systems depends on compromising certain principles to have any system of preference registration. Instead, there are different "true democracies" based upon the preferences of the group itself. However, the foundational rules would constitute a general state. The current iteration of anarchism attempts to answer this problem through consensus.

Consensus as a Solution

Anarchists and other activists frequently hold up the process of consensus as a solution to this problem. Consensus has generally three different varieties. First, is strict consensus which requires a full agreement by the participants on a solution. Second, is lose consensus which requires a high level of agreement by the participants on a solution. Third, is a developing consensus where the rules are decided as part of an ongoing process. This section will address those different methods briefly, but the main argument against consensus will come in the next section.

First, strict consensus seems to avoid the issues of arrows impossibility theorem as it's not preference ranking (i.e. voting) that forms the foundation of this system. The idea is that no one registers their preference as such, but rather engages in a conversation that negotiates different possibilities to find one that remains satisfactory to all. These presupposes that a political consensus can be reached. That's not only unclear, but likely impossible for any serious decisions necessary for political revolution.

We must be clear that we're not making the usual tired arguments against anarchism. We're not making an argument about human nature. Nor are we making an argument about how consensus "takes too long" or is "impractical." Instead, we're instead addressing it at the foundational and theoretical foundation which will be addressed in detail later.

In strict consensus, if the group consensus cannot be reached either no action will be taken or the group will split into affinity groups. If no action is taken, the a political decision has been decided by the formal rule of consensus thus giving a rule of inaction that supersedes the participants. However, it's quite plausible for their to be a situation when inaction remains a less preferable action than an alternative action. As for loose consensus, this does not raise above majoritarianism and shares the same problems but simply decides a higher standard. This will be addressed later.

Finally, a changing consensus model generally goes little further beyond the state of nature. The rules of any given meeting can be altered to whatever the participants want. This form of consensus goes no further than what any given group of people at any given meeting want to do. However, that simply means that whoever has the majority at any given instance may institute their own policies and rules. This hardly, would constitute a "true democracy" for most anarchists. Yet the question of consensus remains.

The Anarchist Print Shop and the Unsolvable Political Decisions

We can use a clear example of an anarchist print shop to explore the theoretical problems of anarchism and the further democratic issues. The point isn't that one should fixate on the specifics of the print shop itself, but rather the plausible theoretical implications that it creates.

For the sake of argument, consider that an uprising has occurred in a Middle Eastern country. The United States has begun supporting the rebels. Among an anarchist print shop, two distinct lines have emerged. One supports the rebels as rising up against their state and another group of people do not support the uprising because they view it as an imperialist ploy to overthrow a government to enslave its people. Both groups uphold the importance to put out a message to the American people, and neither group is willing to stay silent on this issue.

We now face an unsolvable political issue. There is no "compromise position." Either the US is backing the rebels to install imperialism or its not. Certainly, either group could add nuance or clarification to the position. However, that doesn't fundamentally alter the political question. One must either support the rebels or one does not. This unsolvable difference requires a decision and no decision, as we shall soon see, escapes the possibility of either the state of nature or the state itself.

Consensus in this case is impossible. The two groups cannot be reconciled. Now at this point anarchists can make two claims. First is that these situations are rare. However, there's little reason to believe this or to even believe that any anarchist seriously believes it. In a revolutionary situation, the revolutionaries must make irreconcilable decisions such as where to send troops and supplies, how to carry out that struggle, and where much needed food will go to the population not fighting. Anarchist may argue that they're trying to "raise the level of consciousness" so these problems don't occur or become less frequently. However, the strength of that argument has the same structure of the Leninist "withering of the state" that most anarchists wouldn't accept. Even if that was granted it only begs the question, well how are they resolved in rare cases. Given the print shop thought experiment (more consensus) is clearly not a universal answer, so let's examine the various methods of by which anarchists mechanisms for when consensus fails.

Majoritarianism: We are the "What Percent?" or I Tell you How Much is Enough

Many anarchists view do not see consesus as an "everyone must agree" system. Frequently you'll hear the metaphor "consensus is like the global warming in that not everyone agrees but 90% agree." This strategy on the surface avoids the problems of simple majoritarianism. So long as an overwhelming number of people agree, the problems of majoritarian disappear because enough consensus will need to be built to achieve this high threshold. So discussions, debates, and consensus building activities can achieve that threshold. At this point, non-anarchist revolutionaries frequently claim this simply "isn't practical." They certainly have a point, as any emergency might not have time for such a high levels of agreement. However, this argument doesn't not fundamentally address the anarchist point and they're right to dismiss it.

Instead, we should look at the mechanism itself. What is the proper level of consensus? Is it 90%? 80%? 90% on easy issues and 60% on divisive issues? The percentage might have some relevance for the practical concerns of those organizing, but isn't not theoretically relevant. The point is that the percentage must be decided before hand to respect the participants. If the percentage is decided by the participants ad hoc then it's simply a state of nature. It becomes the many against the few. So in this case, the principle must stand before hand.

So instead the principle must exist before hand, and remain binding on the actors. In this case, the principle also was created by a previous group, a previous situation, and with no understanding of the situation. If any principle of majoritarian remains it would necessarily be a state superior to any given political actor. In this case, the principle of majoritarianism as a solution for the failure of consensus does not offer anything more than a previously decided state.

In this case, it's quite reasonable to view a principle of majoritarianism devised for this anarchist print collective a meeting earlier or decades earlier. The net effect is the same, a group of people have binding political will over another group of people. It could be argue that they could simply change the principle, but that only reaffirms what what was already at issue that a consensus could not be reached and the majority changed the principle of majoritarianism to get what they want rather than just directly forcing the issue. The effect is the same.

Affinity Groups: I Get What I Want Because I Can

The next solution offered to the failure of consensus is usually affinity groups. In the event of the failure of consensus, the differing groups would "go their separate ways" and pursue their own tactics and ends and perhaps at some point reintegrate on other issues in which their is consensus. One might raise the issue of affinity groups fragmenting the movement and adding to confusion of the movement by fragmenting the distribution of information. Yet, this does little to strike at the core of affinity groups as a method to cope with the failure of consensus.

The failure of consensus also creates the issue of who can carry forward with two conflicting sets of actions. If the actions conflict (which was frequently the origin than the failure of consensus), then there's no method to adjudicate who has the right to the conflicting action. Returning to the print shop example, it's all well and good if they create affinity groups based on which side to support. However, another problem arises when they want to take action at the same time and place. If consensus on this point cannot be reached, then it either reverts to one of the other failure of consensus methods or becomes a matter of who has the power to act. We see this behavior frequently among anarchists who show up to a massive peaceful protest and then are successful in violating the planning and agreements with the organizing group or provoking the police into a confrontation.

The problem only compounds when the question of scarce resources come into play. How does one decide between limited resources on an already contentious issue? If consent isn't reached it devolves into the other previous methods. One might argue there might be a preexisting method of deciding in the case of non-consenting affinity groups. However, unless the exact conditions with the exact same people were agreed beforehand, then the preexisting method functions as a state. Otherwise, it becomes a game of who has the most people, power, and legal ability to get what they want. In addition, there is no "fair" rule whether it's winner take all or proportional that escapes the condition of a state.

Tradition: I Decide the Proud Traditions We Respect

Many anarchists (frequently white European ones) argue that traditions in general and indigenous traditions in particular point towards a stateless society. We'll ignore the insulting and generally racist presupposition that indigenous people frequently don't have state systems as complex as Europeans and that many indigenous people aren't struggling precisely for a state. Instead, let's look at the theoretical underpinning of these arguments. We must remember one clear and decisive thing. We must remember indigenous and oppressed nations (stateless or not) have the right to self-determination. We must not mistake a theoretical critique of certain forms of traditionalism, viewing tactics as likely to be unsuccessful, or at least not universally applicable with a support for these nations to choose their own tactics regardless of how we view them. Additionally, the call to tradition should not be understood as a way of finding consensus as there are many variations. These anarchists frequently call for traditions as a method for when consensus fails. We will deal with it as such.

The general idea of most anarchists who argue for tradition as the foundation for conflict resolution. Indigenous societies like all societies are as complex as all other societies and subject to the problems of unsolvable political dilemmas. So how are these resolved? There are two parallel answers offered. One is that they either consult a process among the nation or they consult their leaders.

If they consult a process, then this seems to avoid the issue. However, we must ask what if the process itself is called into question? What if many don't want to use the process in place? Then kernel of the unsolvable problem reemerges in simply a different form. If the process remains respected it forms a new state. If the process is not respected, then the anarchists must form a new process which runs afoul of the same issue. The problem grows exponentially if they're trying to "return to the traditions" as that depends on the group or individuals to decide to which to "return." This must rely on some other method for decisions running into the same problem.

Federalism as War or State: You're Free to Leave with Nothing

Many anarchists offer federalism as a solution to having large scale collective projects. In this case, anarchists associate with each other freely into collective federal systems. The higher bodies are simply free association of lower bodies where lower bodies may disengage any or all higher bodies. The idea asserts that this avoids the problems of coercion of a State system, but allows for large unified collective action.

However, this never works out in practice due to structural reasons. First, the most obvious question arises, if people freely federate then on what principled grounds can they separate? Most federated anarchists use affinity groups as a method of defederating, however we can see the problems inherent within that. One might contend that each group should have the right to defederate with their own resources, members, and area of social power. Yet even greater difficulties arise with a federation. Collective efforts bring benefits individual efforts cannot. As a clear example, what happens if every federated group holds a fund raiser for a nation wide campaign and for the federation itself with the understanding that they will relieve some collective benefit as part of the federation. However, differences arise and the cease to federate. Does the federation then get to keep the efforts of the federated organizations efforts? If some rule says that they do, then the rule functions as a state by coercing the efforts of the small organization to comply with the federation. However, if it simply results in a power struggle between the two groups, then what remains is simply the state of nature.

One may dismiss this as an unlikely absurdity, but one would do well to remember that one of the main historical anarchist federations ran into this problem. During the Russian Civil War, one anarchist general who had federated with Nester Makhno and the Makhnovist army. However, he disagreed that the White Russians constituted the main threat. Instead, he argued for defeating the Bolsheviks first (a view shared by many contemporary anarchists). Makhno disagreed and enforced the federation by shooting the dissenting general and absorbing that army. One can certainly argue for this choice both from moral and practical positions, but it's a gross violation of anarchist principles. The problem does not have a theoretical solution for a printshop, let alone revolutionaries facing a devistating war of anihilation. Federalim provides no solution to the fundamental problem of the state or the state of nature.

Complex Systems as State

Many anarchists argue that no one particular system of decision can or should fit a free anarchist group. They argue that many different decision making mechanisms can mitigate the domination of a group of people frequently holding to various forms of privilege. This provides no solution whatsoever. It only begs the question, who decides which mechanisms should a group adopt? What mechanism provides the "founding mechanism" for the decision? It should remain clear how this "decision" decides nothing at all.

Given the problems of all these mechanisms, how could anarchists remain so ignorant to these foundational difficulties? How could anarchism as a tradition remain so blind despite all of the quite brilliant, intuitive, and theoretically advance anarchist thinkers? The simple answer, is they're not.

The Anarchist Solution: Invisible Dictatorship

Many anarchists implicitly recognize the problems raised above. In that case, they organize with insular groups that share their own very narrow conception of anarchists politics. Yet, historically anarchists have overcome this problem with a relatively simple and elegant solution. They use the invisible dictatorship. This solves most of the problems of consensus through a practical subversion of the mass movement to the shared anarchists political will.

Bakunin lays out the definition of the Invisible Dictatorship in a letter to a fellow anarchist Nechayev:

We are the most pronounced enemies of every sort of official power– even if it is an ultra-revolutionary power. We are the enemies of any sort of publicly declared dictatorship, we are social revolutionary anarchists. But, you will ask, if we are anarchists, by what right do we want to influence the people, and what methods will we use? Denouncing all power, with what sort of power, or rather by what sort of force, shall we direct a people's revolution? By a force that is invisible, that no one admits and that is not imposed on anyone, by the collective dictatorship of our organization which will be all the greater the more it remains unseen and undeclared, the more it is deprived of all official rights and significance...[Secret organizations] would finally have the strength of that close solidarity which binds isolated groups in one organic whole...These groups would not seek anything for themselves...and they would be in a position to direct popular movements...This is what I call the collective dictatorship of a secret organization. -Bakunin
Bakunin, one of the most brilliant anarchist thinkers

In this case, the aim is clear. Bakunin lays out a plan for anarchists to set up a network of influence and collusion in order to control the social movements. In this case, the problems listed above for in the introduction do not constitute a failure to build consensus, but rather the logical theoretical outgrowth of anarchist theory when consensus fails to materialized. Yet, almost all revolutionaries whether they are nationalist, anarchist, or communist have used force, violence, and coercion. Why is anarchism singled out as being exceptionally worse, coercive, deceptive, or underhanded relative to other revolutionary trends?

Anarchist Hypocrisy: Moral Superiority, Revolution, and the Struggle for Power

Every revolutionary position should attempt to build consensus around broad points of agreement. No revolutionary position should abandon this practice regardless of whether the position is Anarchism, communism, and other revolutionary trends. Yet, the question remains, what happens when consensus breaks down? In this case, a struggle for power ensues.

Here we do not mean power in a strong and specific sense, but a general sense. If one believes that one's plan of action remains correct and will push forward the revolutionary struggle then it makes sense that one would wish to see it implemented. If one wishes to see it implemented then one wishes to have the power to do so. This is not an absolute dictum. For all revolutionaries, they frequently have reasons to compromise, barter, and sacrifice unimportant aspects of the plan. Yet, when compromise or consensus cannot be reached, it makes sense to try and institute one's plan over others.

No one can fault anarchists for wishing to hold power to institute plans. Furthermore, no one can fault anarchists for thinking that people should impliment their ideas. However, people can certainly fault anarchists for many of their smug sense of superiority in a "more democratic process/system." They fall into the same political situation as other tendencies. In this case, anarchists have no more moral authority to talk about "democratic process," "inclusion," or "respect for autonomy" than most other revolutionaries. Instead, they should recognize, as other revolutionaries do, that all revolutionary programs depend on various contingent factors that no individual or group can predict.

A Battle Over Values: Abstract Freedom vs Reality

Makhnovists in the Russian Civil War
Some anarchists may concede this view. Then the response simply becomes "well, we value freedom more than X revolutionary tendency and we just have more faith in people than they do." This response, however, misses the entire point. Freedom and "faith in the people" depend on a political process. The political process itself remains at the heart of the question. In fact, the question of a clear political process has remained one of the perennial problems of anarchism.

In practice, anarchism has violated nearly all of its stated principles whenever it became widespread as a social force. In the Russian Revolution, anarchists used summary executions against deserters, their general staff officers were appointed not elected, and they engaged in the frequent use of torture all under the anarchist leadership of Makhno. It also suffered serious splits due to the pressures of the growing tensions in Spain and during the Civil War. Abstract values of freedom mean very little when society can't institute them in any meaningful way.

The Communist Response: Reality, Struggle, and the Vanguard

How would communists respond to these problems then? It's important to understand the communist understanding of class struggle and the vanguard. For communists, the workers form the most advance section of the working class. The capitalist system forces them to work together day in and day out in order to obtain higher profits. This cooperative work helps build a sense of solidarity and shared responsibility. In addition, other sections of the working class, small business owners, and especially members of oppressed nationalities have reasons to also take up the struggle against capitalism. These enemies of capitalism form the core of the revolutionary struggle.

The Communist vanguard consists of many
 different people and groups
A group of advance fighters for the working class arise out of these various constituencies. We are speaking about the most politically advance fighters when we talk about the vanguard. It does not entail some abstract, intellectual, or academic group. In history, frequently the vanguard has included revolutionaries who could not even read at the time they joined. Disagreements and debates often arise among the vanguard on numerous issues. However, Marxists place their bets on this vanguard.

The communist faith in a vanguard does not depend on a theoretical or metaphysical conception. Instead, the faith depends on a simple premise that we should have the most faith in compact and unified group of the most dedicated fighters for revolution. Marxism faces the same political problems as anarchism does above. However, the answer of communists to the question of who will decide in these irreconsilable political situations is "the vanguard." This wager holds that those from the peoples' movements who have the most experience, dedication, and knowledge about struggle can and should make the decisions regarding the initial political system. It is the vanguard who decides how to decide.

Anarchists also use a "vanguard" of sorts, but surreptitiously and not subject to transparency of the peoples' movements, established methods of leadership, or democratic transparency.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Defense of the Black Belt and Black National Liberation

The question of the black nation, the black belt, and national liberation has become a topic of fierce debate among many groups especially online. I certainly would not claim to have the definitive “answer” on line to the question of black liberation and the black belt, but I hope to provide several compelling arguments that the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) supports black liberation and that the argument in defense of the Black Belt as a distinct Afrikan nation within North America.

Members of the original Black Panthers
I'd like to provide a bit of background to the various polemics flying around. Three main articles starting this firestorm arise mainly from three different organizations. The first article came from the International Socialist Organization (ISO) which denounced the Black Belt theory as little more than a Stalinist litmus test. It argues against the existence of a black nation and national liberation for such a nation. This provoked a strong response and an FRSO comrade and others published that response addressing the ISO article with great arguments with a strong emphasis on the history of Communist organizing around the Black Belt. I feel that article entirely addresses the positions of the ISO and doesn't need me to revisit it. However, a third article posted by amember of Uhuru and written by their chairman I feel does need addressing. The Return 2 Source argument definitely deals with the ISO objectives, but the APSP raises objections that the R2S didn't aim to address. I'd like to address them now. However, I'd like to thank Speed of Dreams for posting their articles in a non-sectarian fashion. I hope that we can have a serious comradely debate over these issues, and I'd ask that members of all parties remember that we all struggle for Black Liberation even if we disagree on the methods.
First, I'd like to present the FRSO position on black liberation. One can find the FRSO position on Black liberation in our unity documents and within our documents on oppressed nationalities. Our unity lays out our general line,

The course of struggle in the US forged a new nation among African-Americans based in the Black Belt agricultural region of the US South. Since before the Civil War, African-American fighters for liberation have asserted the demand for land and justice, as well as the demand for complete equality throughout the United States. We stand in that tradition. We support self-determination for the African-American nation. As this struggle gains momentum, this may eventually include the establishment of an independent African-American nation based in the South. We defend the right to independent African-American organization necessary to achieve this liberation, including the right to separate African-American revolutionary parties.

Our position should be clear. We throughly support national liberation. The defense of national liberation without the right to separate is absolutely empty. We also support the right to independent Afrikan organizations. We do not pretend to have a crystal ball. We do not pretend to know how revolution will unfold in the United States. The liberation of the Afrikan nation will come at the hands of Afrikans. Our members represent a revolutionary, socialist, and working class section of the Afrikan nation, but by no means embody the entirety of the Afrikan Nation. Those members who claim this or that position for national liberation do so as part of their own individual opinions, not our organizations line.
Our official line also includes our statement on oppressed nationalities and a support for national liberation. That includes an explicit support for the right to independence. We analyze the situation as the system of imperialism against internally oppressed nations.

U.S. imperialism brought peoples from Africa, Asia and Latin America to the United States. They have worked as slave and semi-slave labor, their lands and homes stolen, their communities terrorized and their culture degraded. The oppressed nationalities of the United States, including African Americans, Chicanos and other Latinos, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, urbanized Native Americans and Pacific Islanders in the continental United States, are fighting national oppression and for full equality economically, politically and socially.

The fight against national oppression and for full equality must include the right to self-determination, up to and including independence from the United States for the oppressed nations. African Americans in the South, Chicanos in the Southwest, and the peoples of Hawai’i have been forged through national oppression and brutal exploitation into distinct nations, each with a common history, language, territory, economy and culture. National oppression is at the heart of U.S. economic, political and ideological traditions and has been central to the U.S. class struggle. In this country, national oppression takes a specific form: more than simply the domination of several nations and nationalities by an oppressor nation, in the U.S. it entails the subjugation of all oppressed nations by the oppressor nation headed by the white imperialist bourgeoisie.

We can see that the statement is not ambiguous, it's not hidden or secret. We do not speak out one side of our mouth to attempt to recruit members of oppressed nationalities while undercutting the foundation for national liberation. We throughly support national liberation in a clear and unambiguous way. It's clear that we essentially uphold the “Stalinist” line of national liberation. A nation constitutes a common history, language, territory, economy, and culture. Obviously, we can have a serious discussion about how these five key components apply among any given situation, but we're clearly in support of national liberation. Yet, that still remains the specific question of the Black Belt within the United States.

I should make myself explicitly clear. The FRSO line is laid out above, what follows below represents my personal view and understanding of my organization's line. The question of the Black Belt is vital to the question of national liberation. We recognize that racism exists as an effect, not a cause. We face racism because internally colonized nations lie under the boot heel of imperialists. It's not enough simply to talk about freeing ourselves through history, language, culture, and a better level of economic equality. We certainly believe that it's vital for the democratic reforms occur. We obviously need cultural studies classes, the right to use our own languages, and plans to combat economic oppression by combating imperialism and racism. However, political power in the form of territory ultimately allows freedom from domination and imperialism. The demand for separation forms the ultimate check against imperialism. National liberation without a recourse to land ultimately proves empty. How then, does the black belt prove vital to national liberation for Afrikans in the United States?

File:USSR-1961-stamps-СНА.jpgBlack liberation requires the defeat of white supremacist imperialism where ever it may find itself. We certainly agree with APSP that Afrika needs national liberation from the vultures ransacking the continent. We support principled Afrikan liberation as the various Afrikan Nations see fit. It's not for those in imperialist nations to decide on the arbitrary national lines previously set by colonial powers in Afrika. Yet, all that being said, Afrikans continue to constitute oppressed nations (plural not singular). They continue to exist as oppressed nations in Latin America, the Caribbean, and within the United States. Certainly, every oppressed Afrikan should have the right of return if so chosen. However, many of the previous European colonies have become distinct Afrikan nations. We can (and must) argue whether or not the Black Belt, parts of Brazil, or areas in Colombia constitute an Afrikan Nation. However, it's not ambiguous that Jamaica, Haiti, and other Caribbean nations constitute independent nations sharing their own history, language, economy, culture, and territory linked to, but fundamentally separate from, those Afrikan nations within the borders of Afrika. We recognize and support a broad international character of all Afrikan national liberation struggles. Yet, we do not think it's appropriate to liquidate all of these into one struggle. I do not mean to imply that the APSP liquidates this struggle. Nevertheless, we think it's legitimate to support national liberation within these new nations formed through European imperialism and colonization. I don't need to rehash the arguments, but Return2Source provides a pretty compelling argument for black nationhood. Finally, we can address the question of the Black Belt itself.

The Black Belt provides the territorial ground for Black national liberation within the United States. Historically, the internally dominated areas of the Black Belt have historically been the locations of a Black Nation. These areas constituted not simply a location for a Black Nation, but historically revolutionary areas. The European Southerners carried forward a conscious plan to destroy these areas and destroy their revolutionary nationalist character. Essentially, the United States carried out an internal diaspora in the context of the broader external diaspora. That the Black Nation has faced further disintegration at the hands of the White European Settlers does not alter the fundamental right to nationhood any more than the genocide of Chicanos and American Indians denies them the right to nationhood. Yet that raises serious questions about form national liberation will take.

We must recognize many different historical forms of national liberation and the possibility of new forms of national liberation. I've addressed numerous forms of decolonization in my blog. The three main historical forms are full integration under the oppressed nations leadership, full separation with the forceful removal of the historical colonists, and a mix of national leadership as an independent republic. It's not for anyone but those within the oppressed nation to determine the character of their own liberation and the forms it will take. National liberation means freedom for the oppressed nation and the people living there regardless of what form of national liberation they choose.. It does not mean domination or revanchism. The character of national liberation frequently provides the only solution to historical imperialism, white supremacy, and racism. Those who worry about oppressive aspects of national liberation usually simply project their white settler fantasies on the national liberation movement. We do not hold that national liberation will simply move people “down to the bottom.” This leads us to the question of American Indian lands.

Black Seminole Leader
Historically this land belonged to the American Indian nations in the area known know as the United States and Canada. Any Afrikan nation on this soil would necessarily entail reaching an accommodation between the American Indian and Afrikan nations. That does not seem a particularly difficult or insurmountable problem. There has historically been a great deal of overlap and mutual support among American Indians and Afrikans in the United States. We face some fierce debates over issues like should the Cherokee nation have its foundation in the Black Belt, in Oklahoma, or some combination of the both. Still, I'm sure we'd all rather deal with the headaches of national liberation rather than the grinding oppression of imperialism.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mistakes Communist Make: Environmentalism and Mass Industrialization


Often communists get attacked for having a poor environmental record. Some of those have been addressed before. We have no need to defend bad environmental actions. Communists have a stellar record as far as the environment goes, much greater than any capitalists or other revolutionary ideology. We have had strong environmental policies in established communist states and in the revolutionary struggle movements themselves.

The environment isn't important

As stated earlier, this may have been true at the start of the communist movement. However, that isn't true now. As stated before, communist governments continue to make huge expenditures and central planning efforts to create environmentally sustainable conditions for their people. The Nepali Maoists have a specific provision in their constitution,
16. Rights regarding environment and health
(1) Every person has the right to live in a clean environment.

Every communist movement continues to fight to protect the environment from Cuba to India. They literally find themselves at the forefront of the struggle, often armed defending the environment. We do not have to defend outdated policies that were the world standard at the time.

Mass Industrialization

Poster from the Spanish Civil that read:
"To increase productivity of fields
and factories  is to increase capacity at
the battlefront."
Communist from the time of Karl Marx have called for massive industrialization to provide goods for workers in socialist countries. The simple argument rests on the fact that we see industrialization often yields a great abundance of material wealth that communists could use to raise the standard of living of their workers. The communists did not uniquely hold this vision, but rather it was a common modernist view of the world shared by anarchists, social democrats, other socialists, and even capitalists. The modern scientific environmentalist movement only began in the middle of the 20th century. It's hypocritical in the extreme for people to criticize the Communists for not protecting the environment when literally no one else was or advocated for it either.

However, now that we do know the effects of mass industrialization we do not need to advocate for it blindly. We could argue for industrialization of some fields (green technologies, mass transportation, etc) and not others (heavy manufacturing, chemical production, oil production, etc). Furthermore, we can point to communists as the forefront of leading concrete environmental protections. Certain arguments remain more complex and sophisticated, but that does not mean we can't make them.

First and foremost, we should combat any chauvinism against those anti-communist forces. It's not the right of those in imperialist nations who have stripped their own resources and frequently their neighbors in the pursuit of industrialization to tell others what to do with their resources. We shouldn't support the imperialist mindset that imperialist countries have the right to dictate to imperialized nations politically, socially, or environmentally. Even so, we have great arguments in favor communists in regards to the environment.

First, we should point out that despite troubling aspects China remains the number one investor in green technology. Of course, they've had to develop their industry for a vast population while under constant threat of annihilation from imperialists. No other capitalist countries invest in that level of infrastructure. Communists can point out no other historical movement has achieved that level of investment.

Secondly, we should point to Cuba. Cuba has face intense difficulties in general and especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, they have managed to not only build their Human Development Index which includes life expectancy, infant mortality rates, education, but also has created the greenest country in the world. No revolutionary force in the world has ever achieved this level of sustainability or this level of development for their people.

Thirdly, we communists continue to protect the environment even in struggle. As one can find in "Revolutionary Social Change in Colombia," the FARC continues to support sustainable crop substitution where they replace drug cash crops for organic food crops for the local community. The Nepali Maoists have pushed for constitutional protections for the environment and a sustainable existence for all their people. The Indian Maoists continue to fight to sustain indigenous villages from environmental devastation. Communists continue to stand at the forefront of the environmental movement. We do not need to make excuses or defend outdated policies that everyone (anarchist, capitalist, and communist) believed until very recently.

The environment can be used infinitely

There was a time when the prevailing idea of economics held that the environment would remain infinite. The diversity of opinions held this assumption including communists, anarchists, capitalists, and socialists of all variety. We do not have to defend that view now. We do not have to defend absurd recycling schemes. We can continue the good agricultural and industrial practices that socialist countries have pioneered.

Western intervention into the USSR
We do not need to accept that Marxists have been "bad, but we're getting better." Marxists have always been at the forefront and continue to be so even today. Marx noted the environmental devastation caused by capitalism on the English soil. Lenin undertook huge conservation steps in protecting forests for scientific study. Mao attempted to avoid Western style mass industrialization by having a balanced industrial program that tried to even out the differences between the cities and the countryside. Communists have also had to fight the threat of annihilation every step of the way. How one uses resources in a time of war, remains fundamentally different from how one uses resources in times of peace. No capitalist nation has ever had to deal with that level of ongoing harassment and attacks. We should hold proudly to our tradition of environmentalism. Every other statement issued by capitalists or other revolutionary ideologies is little more than a hypocritical white washing of their own historical positions.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mistakes Communists Make: Science

I am clearly and obviously a supporter of Marxism Leninism (Maoism). I've made this unambiguously clear. I myself have had a huge development from when I took up Marxism Leninism (I shall use Communist) as an ideological weapon to fight the capitalists, owners, bosses, and their lackeys. I'd like to think that development ha grown to a moderate proportion, though I still have much further to go. However, I often see Communists state positions or argue points in a way that absolutely frustrates me. I've complied this essay (more of a list really) to show and refute the numerous areas in which Communists frequently concede positions they need not concede, and I hope to deepen the general understanding of Communists about their own ideology.

I hope this essay proves valuable to comrades locally, nationally, and internationally for numerous reasons. First, we must stand firm against all slanderous attacks against Communism whether they come from Capitalists, Anarchists, Social Democrats, or any other so-called revolutionaries. Second, we must have a serious discussion among ourselves about what Communism means and how it functions. What do we need to focus on? What do we not? Third and perhaps most important, we must focus on the nature of the basic facts. What does a theoretical position really mean? What actually happened during the history of communism. Until we can begin to answer these sorts of questions, we'll continually find ourselves ad a disadvantage to our enemies.

One should certainly feel free to read and use any aspect of this essay one wishes. However, that will not strike many as sufficient. One might like to study the specific issues addressed here. That will almost certainly require years of scholarship, but perhaps this remains the best place to start. Revolutionary Social Change in Colombia covers the history and actions of the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Forces of Colombia-People's Army. Here you can find a massive inclusion of indigenous people, women in leadership, and the fight to preserve the environment of Colombia. In addition, this movement has not faded into history, but continues to live on in struggle. More that that, one should closely study the revolutionary gains made in South Asia. In Nepal, one has a constitution (even if the capitalists block it) that guarantees the rights of women, oppressed nationalities, and gender/sexual minorities. In India, we find leadership often resting on women who lead a heroic struggle against almost impossible odds. It should inspire everyone regardless of their political ideology.

All of that being said, I believe the communist movement can become much stronger if we avoid giving ground where we need not give. I hope this document proves useful to comrades organizing and I'd love to have a lively discussion about it.


Communists often see communism as essentially a revolutionary science. They point out that Communism depends on both the revolutionary science of dialectics and a strong concrete material analysis. It's obvious that science has a special place in the hearts of most revolutionaries. However, it's unfortunate that few communists actually find themselves as scientists and they have a very poor understanding of science, such that they fail to understand the basic questions in fields they frequently discuss including, but not limited to, the environment, industry, and religion. We need to correct this absolute deficiencies and comrades should not make such poor arguments that they embarrass the communism movement as a whole. I will try and address some of these key points.

Scientific Triumphalism

As Communists, we need to avoid scientific triumphalism. Scientific Triumphalism says, "Science will solve our problems." Few scientists hold this view. Many science enthusiasts hold this view. Often Marxist Leninists respond to some of the most pressing problems of resource depletion, environmental damage, and global warming with, "Well science will find a solution for that." Science does not tell us what will arise from the future, it tells us what we have now. As true materialists we must not imagine science will simply hand us solutions to our most pressing problems, but we must immediately work to find solutions to the problems we have with the science we have. It's not only unconvincing, but embarrassing when communists argue that science will solve all future problems. That's the exact same argument capitalists give. We need to take the science we have and build the best society we can build. That does not mean worshiping technology as though it will save us some day. It means using the science we have now to build the best life for the working class around the world.

Defense of bad scientific practices

Communists have had a great record of scientific practices. They've managed to use political, social, and economic sciences to help build numerous successful revolutions. They have also built socialist societies that have been at the cutting edge of women, national minority, and human rights. However, they, like every other ideology, have had mistaken theories. Scientific socialism requires mistakes and misturns that are corrected by struggle and ideological struggle. We don't need to defend Lysenkoism or other past socialist mistakes. We do not need to defend Lysenkoism. We do not need to defend bad policies that didn't work out. We should understand them. We should provide context for them. However, we don't have to come up with contrived reasons for supporting them. Communists should never forget, the capitalists, social democrats, and many socialists supported Eugenics and communists were always wholly against those policies and scientific theories. We have a proud tradition where we must recognize our mistakes without undercutting our movement.

Science over religion

Communists pride themselves on being scientific socialists. In that case, we must approach the question of religion scientifically. This does not mean debating the big bang, creationism, or a myriad of theological questions. It means asking decisively, "Where does religion stand in regards to revolution?" In many countries, religion serves a very reactionary function. However, one can find progressive religious people in every nation. Communists kid themselves when they offer a full denunciation of religion. Above and beyond the fact that many socialists have been motivated for religious reason, they often ignore the progressive role played by religion.

MLK and Malcolm X carried out their struggles due to deeply rooted religious beliefs. In war zones from the Philippines to Colombia, catholic priests pass messages, store arms, and provide intelligence for revolutionary forces. American Indians have been inspired by their traditions to fight for national liberation. Communists who ignore this or belittle this do so at their own peril and at the peril of the movement.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Don't Decolonize Your Mind, Decolonize Our Land

I've seen a massive explosion in the slogans of "decolonize x." This entire discourse of decolonization seems incredibly superficial. Decolonization seems to mean criticizing the general white culture while leaving every serious political and economic structures of oppression. However, pointing out this does very little to change the problem except perhaps create greater white guilt. Instead, I'd like to present three general models of decolonization for consideration. I hope these models serve as a launching point for further discussion about the process of decolonization and what it would mean.

Full Decolonization: Algeria "La valise ou le cercueil"

France occupied Algeria in the 19th Century. They brutally suppressed the native Algerians. Furthermore, they began a process of European colonization which left thousands of Europeans on Algerian shores. After a century of domination, the Algerians engaged in a brutal, open guerrilla war against the European colonists. Ultimately, their struggle proved successful and the French were forced to grant independence to Algeria. The resentment of the Algerians for the Europeans grew so great that they gave them the option of "The suit case or the Coffin." The vast majority of Europeans and core lackeys such as government officials, soldiers, and police were ultimately forced to flee to Europe to avoid the wrath of the colonized.

The Algerian experience provides the most extreme example of decolonization. Not only did the Algerians gain independence, but also they forced out nearly all of the colonists. This model provides many benefits. It does not leave a colonized force within the nation to continue to disrupt national independence. It allows the nation to begin struggling for revolutionary socialism without any imperialist colonist core.

It also has draw backs. First off, it can create a huge humanitarian crisis. It's quite difficult to decolonize thousands of people, let alone millions. Moreover, there's the danger of international isolation, capital flight, and "humanitarian" intervention to re-establish colonial control. However, real "decolonization allies" should not only consider, but be willing to defend this level of decolonization.

Decolonization with Colonial Integration: South Africa "Truth and Reconciliation"

England and and the Netherlands colonized South Africa in the 17th Century and continued to expand their colonization through the centuries. The white South African colonist state gained its independence 1948. The colonists immediately went to work expanding their rule by instituting racist segregation known as Apartheid. Black South Africans carried out an armed revolutionary struggle. They did not ultimately win their independence until the Nineties. In this case, their independence was tied to a negotiated deal with the white colonists. They agreed to certain conditions not only that there would be no reprisals against the white colonists, but that they would avoid any forced reparations or seizure of white property. "Truth and Reconciliation" commissions offered amnesty to those who would confess their crimes in an attempt to reconcile the colonized and the colonizer. Free elections allowed the establishment of a black government. National power returned to the black Africans, but only on paper. The ultimate power remained in the hands of the White Colonists. The oppression of the black South African nation didn't end simply because the government changed out. This stresses the need for revolutionary socialism, but does not undercut the usefulness of this model of decolonization.

This model provides a level of integration of both the colonist and the colonizers. It does not required force relocation of the colonists. It certainly has the appearance of a more "humanitarian" process. This process also may help alleviate further racial conflicts through the very process of decolonization itself. However, any additional decolonization would need to take additional steps. First, it would need to actively engage in redistribution from the colonizers to the colonists. This would keep the colonizers from regaining control through economic and social means. Secondly, the nation would need to establish independence from neo-colonialism and imperialism. Otherwise, the national government will simply stand as a mask for the colonizers and imperialists.

The negatives should remain obvious. The large colonizing force remains that can continue to disrupt, attack, or otherwise damage the national government. More than that, it can maintain power relations without a massive restructuring of the society. In this case, decolonization may simply end in a situation as bad or worse than the beginning. Arguably Cuba used this model with massive property redistribution to avoid the problems of South Africa.

Decolonization with Integration with a Wider Republic: Kazakhstan "A People's Republic"

The Russian Empire invaded and colonized Kazakhstan. For centuries, they held it under colonial oppression. After the Soviet Revolution, the Communists in Kazakhstan rose up and with the help of the other Soviets to depose their tyrants, warlords, and kings. They began to speak their own language, read their own literature, and govern themselves. This form of decolonization combined local autonomy with a wider integration in Soviet Union. Kazakhstan began its own development with Soviet aid in education, technical advice, and material assistance. The relationship also had negative aspects. Often, the Russians along with other nations put the good of the entire Union above Kazakhstan. Furthermore, the primacy of Russian language and culture often arose among those who wished to have a greater role in the wider union. Nevertheless, Kazakhs, along with the other Asian Soviet Republics, voted to maintain the Soviet Union as it broke apart. Moreover, Kazakhstan was the last republic to formally break from the Soviet Union. We should take these into account when discussing decolonization.

It provides the lowest level of disruption between the colonizer and colonized. However, it depends heavily on the colonizer making a good faith effort to help rebuild the colonized nations. For all of their problems, the Soviet Union took an active role in rebuilding the colonized and oppressed nation often at great expense to themselves. Many of Western Soviet Republics voted to end the USSR precisely because they felt their resources were being used to develop something from which they saw no benefits.

An integration with a wider republic may have multiple different issues. First, integration between the colonized and the colonizer requires a massive good faith effort on the part of the colonizers. Not only must they act against their basic material interests, but must recognize the colonized people as equals. Liberals often act as though this is their "goal," but this entails more than just "changing minds." Would white "decolonizers" advocate that not one more building be built until everyone living on the reservation has their own comfortable house, electricity, water, and food? Would a white "decolonizer" advocate for the entire area of Atzlan to have political control internally with almost no interference from the Federal government? Beyond this, a danger remains that the colonizing nation maybe reassert its colonizing influence.

I do not necessarily mean these models to be exhaustive or final. However, they can provide a foundation for discussion about what models might work within the United States or to discuss new models.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I know it’s late, and I also know its cliché, but I’m going to share my New Year’s resolutions. I’m trying to maintain a well-balanced set of resolutions so that I’ll become a better person. Lord knows I certainly need that.

I Will Work to Build the FRSO-FB

I’ve been agonizing for a long time about which group (if any) to join. I have chosen the FRSO-FB because they have the best anti-imperialist, national liberation, and revolutionary line and the best revolutionary methods. I will work my hardest to achieve four main goals.

First, I will attempt to build active cadre membership. This means that I must work to lead through example on how a revolutionary should organize primarily. I also will need to have active training meetings on FRSO methods, but also on line. I will hold study groups with members interested in the FRSO on the four key documents along with my course of Marx, Lenin, and Mao. I hope to recruit ten active and advance communists the FRSO.

Second, I hope to begin raising money for the FRSO. The FBI has made a conscious and dedicated attack on the FRSO. They need funds for legal defense, running the party operations, and the “Fight Back!” newspaper. They have graciously sent me numerous issues of “Fight Back!” news free of charge and I hope (as soon as I start getting money again) to begin repaying them for that. In addition to selling fight backs! (or giving them away and getting donations) and paying myself, I want to hold multiple fund raisers throughout the year both for the FRSO and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. I hope to raise at least 1,000 dollars by the end of the year.

Third, I hope to study more of the texts of the FRSO. I want to not only refresh myself on the key texts, but also read previous congresses, declarations, and pieces written for discussion. I grow my knowledge of both national and international positions.

Fourth, I hope to become active in the national dialogue. The FRSO had its congress a while back and it’s unclear when the next one shall occur. However, I would like to make my and others’ voices heard so that we can move forward in discussion of line issues. I also would like to engage in more activities and both personally contribute and get local members to contribute to Fight Back! News’ stories.

I Will Begin Working Out

I have let my body go completely to shit. This year I’m going to make sure that I work out at least 3 times a week with a heavy emphasis on MMA training/martial arts. I used to have a great body and I was in amazing shape. Not only am I unhealthy, I’m unhappy with how I look and I don’t think I’m physically attractive to women. Revolutionaries have an obligation to remain in peak fighting shape. I have not done this and I aim to do it over this next year.

I Will Learn Spanish
I’ve been meaning to learn Spanish for a long time. It’s ridiculous to think I can do any serious immigrant rights work without knowing Spanish. This simply has to change. I’m going to work on a Spanish chapter a week and learn new Spanish songs to keep it fun and interesting. Every revolutionary in the United States should learn Spanish, but especially those in occupied Atzlan.

I Will Be More Considerate of Others

I can act in a very considerate fashion when I want. However, I don’t do so all the time. This goes above and beyond “being nice.” I should not simply avoid being mean (but I also should), but also actively work to make the lives of those in my life better. More than that, I have a bitter, dark, and aggressive humor. Often much of my humor is based on “making fun” of people. That’s really no longer acceptable and I need to stop. I frequently say, I’m not a good person. If I act in a more considerate fashion, this will not change. Nevertheless, it’s a step in the right direction.

I Will Learn Piano

I’ve desired to have some musical skill of some variety and the piano seems to resonate with people. I’ll possess the ability to compose shitty music for other people to play and to play solo. The piano has a sense of refinement and complexity I think will provide endless amount of time. Also, I can practice when I’m sitting around doing jack shit which is more frequently than I’d care to admit.

Read More Theory

Since graduating, I’ve basically avoided reading “hard” theory. I’ve certainly been reading applied theory in the form of analysis and world events, but I need to get back to reading the extremely technical stuff to see how it can be applied. I need to finish Thousand Plateaus, Logic of Worlds, and start working on Lacan again.

Write More

I will update my blog at least three times a week. Writing not only helps me clarify my ideas, but also helps me spread information. Not only do I need to expand my blog, but I also need to expand other forms of writing including pamphlets, fiction, and even a book.

Fight Against Self-Loathing

I have a very low self-esteem, despite what everyone seems to believe I think about myself. I am constantly filled with self-loathing and inadequacy which makes me feel very isolated. This (false) sense of isolation leads me to be very inconsiderate of others. I need to stop the self-loathing while also not ignoring my numerous personal, psychological, and inter-personal problems that make me quite a fucker.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Meaning of Mao

It’s worth examining the meaning of Mao on the 118th anniversary of his birth. I do not want to retread the tired arguments over whether or not Mao was a monster or a hero. Instead, I’d like to dispel some of the worst understandings about why Mao matters and address a few key reasons why he still matters to us today.

Many argue that defending and supporting Mao amounts to nothing more than empty hero worship. They argue it’s a cultish and dogmatic to support any leader, let alone Mao. At this point usually list a litany of crimes, sometimes real, but often imagined, to discredit anyone who claims to support Mao in the slightest. They heap scorn on anyone so foolish as to think that people should venerate one individual. In most cases, they refuse to acknowledge any arguments put forward by those defending Mao. Yet, there remains a strong case for supporting, defending, and venerate Mao.

An Extraordinary Life

Mao unquestionably led an extraordinary life. He came from a peasant back ground, went to school, fought in the revolution of 1911 to establish the Chinese Republic, he became a school teacher, a delegate to the new KMT (Chinese Nationalist) government, became disillusioned in politics, and then returned when he heard about the massive peasant uprisings. From here, he set his course irrevocably towards revolution.

The revolutionaries in China faced a nearly hopeless situation. The workers formed only a small group of the Chinese population and remained too weak to fight against the capitalist government or the feudal system of land lords. Mao spent time attempting to organizing the labor movement, but the KMT forced him to flee to the country side. From here, he began working with the peasants to teach them Marxism and organize them into a fighting force. He began building a revolutionary base in the hills of South Western China. From here, Mao started the long process of revolution that would ultimately end in the victory of the Chinese over nearly overwhelming odds.

Mao then led the revolutionary struggle against the enemies of the Chinese people. The leadership of Mao experienced both ups downs including initial success, defeat, the long march as a retreat, the reestablishing of new communist areas, and from here a new people’s war was launched. The people’s army served to hold down the Japanese Army and kept them out of the Soviet Union while the Soviet Union fought a life and death battle with Nazi Germany. Ultimately, they gathered their forces and defeated the Japanese with the American’s push in the Pacific. They set their sights on the American backed KMT and quickly defeated them. All of this occurred under Mao’s watchful leadership.

Mao then helped lead the Chinese people through the construction of a modern nation. China faced absolute devastation after World War II. The KMT had fled mainland China and had taken all of the national gold reserves. China received some small aid from the Soviet Union, but the USSR had problems attempting to heal its own wounds. Mao mobilized the workers and peasants to build industry and agriculture. The faced drought, sanctions, and threats of nuclear war. However, they fought to create a modern society and they did. Mao and the Chinese people laid the industrial and agricultural foundations which launched China from an imperialized nation to a world super power.

Mao fought enemies both internally and externally. Not only did he lead the struggle against foreign imperialists, but also against corrupt officials in the communist party. He did not simply use his position to force executions or imprisonment. Instead, he mobilized the masses of Chinese workers, peasants, and students to think for themselves and rise up against anyone attempting to undercut the revolutionary nature of Chinese society. In this case, Mao’s leadership focused on unleashing the full revolutionary potential of the masses. These struggles lead millions out of poverty, ignorance, and backwardness. Men, women, and children all over China received education, healthcare, and a real voice in politics.

Society venerates a host of individuals from Helen Keller, Malcolm X, and Albert Einstein. Mao quick clearly has had at least as an extraordinary as any of those named. Yet, it someone who praises Mao remains nothing but a dogmatic fanatic captured by a quasi-religious worship. The double standard remains as clear as it remains unjustified.

We Can Make Revolution in Even the Worst Condition

Mao and the Chinese began in a place of weakness and suffered numerous setbacks. However, Mao and the Chinese revolutionaries remained determined to bring about revolution regardless of the difficulties facing them. Sometimes that meant continuing in a long difficult and costly struggle and other times it meant radically changing previous tactics. Every revolutionary can gain strength and inspiration from this tenacious attitude and resolve to carry forward revolution with every step.

We Must Struggle Against Imperialism.

We cannot allow the imperialist system to continue and we must consciously choose to struggle against it. Mao put the struggle against imperialism front and center. Chinese revolutionaries under Mao’s leadership supplied arms and support to those struggling against imperialism all around the world. He invited revolutionaries from all over the world to China to participate in revolution including American students and the Black Panthers. We likewise can learn from Mao’s leadership to exercise dedication and solidarity in fighting against imperialism.

It Is Right to Rebel Against Reactionaries

Finally, Mao aimed his revolutionary struggle at rebelling against reactionary forces and encouraging it through actions like the Cultural Revolution. He argued that everyone man and woman, dominant nationality and oppressed nationality, old and young should rise up against reactionaries attempting suppress the people. Instead of waiting for someone to lead the charge against oppresses the people, we should take up that struggle ourselves.

The Masses Make History

Mao remains a symbol despite the power of his own personal life. Mao the man may have had an amazing personal life, but like all people he died. Many of his personal accomplishments have been reversed, and his enemies have carried out an ongoing campaign of propaganda and slander. Anyone celebrating Mao the man will likely find a figure who may inspire, but is ultimately human and insufficient. Instead, the true meaning of Mao lies in Mao the symbol of resistance, rebellion, and revolution.