On the intermixture of embarrassment and anger I feel in looking back on my having bought into liberalism for so long

There is such a strange mixture of embarrassment and anger for me.

Like I definitely did eagerly buy into such a comforting view of the world: since violence breeds violence, anyone who fought oppression violently was a brute and a fool, and pursuing my own success “creating beauty” was the best I could do for the world. That is embarrassing because it is a very juvenile, self-serving view of the world, and I bought into it hard.

But I am also angry at the establishment, because

(a) the liberal worldview was the only one that it offered me, so if I was going to doubt it, I would have had to doubt it without any salient evidence to contradict it, which is not impossible but it was very unlikely–I did not simply make a fool out of myself, I was helped to it because I was deeply, thoroughly, ingeniously lied to;

(b) that way of viewing the world is fundamentally degrading to whoever accepts it. If I think humanity is unable to overcome the bitter situation prevailing on the planet due to some inner psychological trait of human beings, then I inevitably think that I, too, am flawed and gross. It is spiritually rot-inducing to accept this worldview, even for those whom it provides superficial comforts.”

A brief overview of my position on the socialist countries of the 20th century

I just wrote this up to stake out my position in a discussion I got into today with a social democrat. I feel like it’s fairly concise and well-worded, especially the bit about the four (or five) contexts/lenses we have to try to see socialist history through, so I wanted to put it somewhere where I or someone else might benefit from it at some point.

I think that the socialist countries that existed in the 20th century (which I and the communists like me would define as the Soviet Union from 1921–1956 and the People’s Republic of China from 1951–1978) were the first steps down the only non-catastrophic path that humanity can follow.

I think that these countries not only (a) demonstrated the greatest raw ability to organize the economic resources that were on hand to improve standards of living but also (b) produced a degree of democracy that has never existed in a mass society up to this point, the PRC even moreso than the USSR.

I think that the worst that can be said about these socialist countries is that they did not last—each of them (in 1956 and in 1978 for the two in question) returned to capitalism. I think that by learning from the failings of the USSR, the PRC achieved a deeper democracy and better ideas about how to preserve the socialist character of its government than the USSR did, and I believe that the next socialist country to emerge (probably in the Philippines) will likewise fare even better than China did, each learning from the lessons of its predecessor.

I believe that the centralization of power absolutely is what causes the danger of the restoration of capitalism, but likewise that some degree of centralization is completely necessary in order to protect against the lingering internal enemies and the ferocious external enemies destroying the people’s victory. This is not an unsolveable knot—the PRC, as I was implying, developed methods to keep its centralization one that served the people rather than one that became only accountable to itself. This method is cultural revolution—a “revolution inside the revolution” that prevents those caught up in capitalist ideas and devoted to capitalist methods from gaining power. I believe this “invention” came too little, too late in China, but that when it is implemented from the get-go in the next socialist country it will be able to offer “sustained flight” in a way that the first two attempts only proved capable of gaining some altitude and not falling for a while.

Without overlooking the fact that there were without a doubt some major and inexcusable errors (which I believe have been learned from), I nonetheless think that the great majority of what are called the “crimes” or “disasters” usually blamed on the governments of the socialist countries of the 20th century are:

– misunderstandings of the natural context (e.g., famines caused by droughts that would have occurred no matter which government was in power),

– misunderstandings of the economic context (e.g., the fact that these countries began extremely poor and had long been the sites of a deep and broad deprivation that it is unrealistic to expect to end suddenly),

– misunderstandings of the historical context (wars were fought for the working class to take control of these countries, which destroyed much of the infrastructure and killed a huge proportion of the country’s working people),

– misunderstandings of the political context (every revolution, including, for example, the French Revolution, invariably requires repression of a large section of society that is suddenly dispossessed of its privilege and angry about it; expecting unending repression from socialism based on what we see in the first few years after each successful socialist revolution would be like seeing the repression of the old classes during the French Revolution and concluding that all of capitalism would include such heavy and overt repression forever), and/or

– straight-up misrepresentations or even fabrications offered to us by a public school system, a mainstream media, an academia, and a government that are all in the final instance controlled by a group of people—the capitalist class—who have every incentive to tell any lies they can get away with about the movement to achieve communism, because that movement is 100% antithetical to their interests.

I think what mistakes are “left over” after properly accounting for these (and I’m not saying there weren’t any mistakes at all) is not out of proportion to general managerial mistakes that all governments make due to general lack of omniscience.

I believe that capitalism cannot ever end poverty, oppression, war, and ecological destruction, and that global capitalism continuously holds billions of people in misery, and that it is justifiable self-defense according to the principles we agreed to earlier for them to wage war to end global capitalism—to wipe it from every spot it exists at, because it cannot help but spread, either.

I believe the socialist countries’ unfortunate return to capitalism is acceptable in the same way that the fact that WWII did not wholly destroy fascism for all time is acceptable. If the Allies could have ended fascism completely, perhaps they would have, but those carrying it out didn’t understand how to, and so simply couldn’t have. But it was still an overall positive, and humanity has more evidence than it did in 1944 that in fact fascism is in the DNA of capitalism.

That is, the war to end Nazism cannot be wholly condemned simply because it suffered a short-term failure (that is, it did not prevent the re-emergence of fascism that we are seeing around the world today), and by that same token neither can the failure of these countries to wholly destroy capitalism be used to condemn them either given that their experiences taught us the lessons that will allow us to finish the job.

A few words about the all-pervading nature of anticommunist propaganda in middle-class liberal society, and on how our souls offer contradictory evidence to it

i think the only thing liberalism contradicts with in their minds is what they know about humanity deep down, in their heart of hearts.

everything else, well, the capitalist ideological control system is all-pervading. like, they have the news media, they have the public schools and universities, they have the independent researchers, they have the government mouthpieces, they have the major book market. they even have their pet leftists like Chomsky, Zinn, Richard Wolff, and Orwell who are there as a safety valve in case people break through one layer of ideology to tell them, okay, yeah, capitalism has to go but only these useless and ineffectual methods are productive ways of going about it. and not only that, but because they’ve had THOSE things for so long, the public themselves are now soaked with anti-communist ideas and are themselves a re-transmitter of those ideas.

they also see liberalism proved in practice in their own lives–they encounter police officers mostly as friendly, helpful people who are only a source of friction when they themselves have engaged in antisocial behavior (like speeding). they basically never encounter situations that couldn’t be better resolved with conversation than with violence. they see that the people who work hard tend to get scholarships and good jobs, and the people who don’t, don’t. the meritocracy looks real to them.

so someone growing up in all that has basically every single source of truth telling them that communism was like this heartless, overly brainy attempt that created hell on earth.

every source of truth, that is, except what their souls tell them, which is a very quiet but persistent feeling that there’s no fucking way this is as good as we can do.

by their souls, i mean their deep, intuitive sense of what human beings are like, garnered from such evidence as:

– listening to the quiet voice within, of all the gentleness and love within them that is denied and ridiculed in this heartless world
– learning tales of what people who love each other are willing to sacrifice for each other
– seeing how when people have plenty and trust each other they share enthusiastically
– seeing how people are kinder the higher up their Maslow-needs are met.
– seeing how adaptable and creative children are

prevailing ideology tells people to internalize the problem that voice is pointing out and believe that there’s just something rotten at the core of our souls. but even that doesn’t sit well.

“Something is wrong with this world, you’ve known it all your life, you don’t know what it is. It’s like a splinter in your mind … driving you mad.”

A note on liberalism after getting shoved by a liberal because I was being verbally “violent”

At a rally to deny a platform to fascists earlier, a liberal got in my face and was pushing on me because I (repeatedly) told a fascist to follow his leader and shoot himself like Adolf Hitler.

At the time I didn’t think anything of him shoving me–that’s just how liberals are–but in retrospect, isn’t it fucking wild? They’re so insistent on keeping the protest even *verbally* “peaceful” that they’re gonna put hands on someone to keep it that way.

This is the purest expression of liberalism imaginable. Such absurd, unbridled arrogance. This is what it looks like to be cradled and pampered by capitalism’s ideological control system for one’s entire life. To be so utterly devoted to avoiding violent disruptions (to their comfort) that they don’t even see how their principles mayyybe should preclude putting hands on someone. They don’t, of course, because their first, baseline principle is that not everyone is as pure as them–they are the ones who Know Better. It’s really no different from how liberalism justifies the united states bombing six countries right now–we’re not *at war*–it’s just they’re breaking our peace rules!

The most charitable sentiment I can muster right now toward this individual expression of liberalism is that it’s pathetic. Jon Stewartism (now Trevor Noahism) is as far outside the mainstream as Ayn Randism–which is to say, not at all.

As if each of us didn’t get like twenty lessons on Gandhi and MLK over the course of public schooling. Damn, such a radical new philosophy, “violence breeds violence.” I bet you came up with that all by yourself, didn’t you?

A letter to liberals in 2016, written in March, released in November

to-liberals

To liberals:

Your world is being ripped in two, and on both sides are people who understand that everything is an illusion but power.

We communists have always been trying to build the world you claim to be working for, but, as we have said for decades, the thing standing in our way is the guns of imperialists and fascists.

Communists and fascists are not the same thing. If we were, the first thing the Nazis did wouldn’t have been to round us up and shoot us. We oppose fascists, we stand on the side of full self-determination for oppressed people, of ending the power of wealth. We stand for the death of patriarchy. We stand for full queer and trans liberation.

You are torn right now, you are pulled on by a fever-dream where you can have capitalism and amerika but somehow defeat privilege. but it is capitalism and amerika that perpetuate privilege.

your whole strategy, your whole paradigm is dead and should be buried. you cannot dismantle fascism or vote it out. you cannot “dismantle” white supremacy. we will not “dismantle” capitalism. they’re not these placid machines we can walk up to and, with critical theory and hashtags, loosen a few bolts and voila! white supremacy dismantled!

you have been living in a dream. amerika exported violence into the ghettos and the so-called Third World. but it is back for us in the form of the SS that Donald Trump is rallying. it was never gone, it was just out of sight and papered over.

violence has been done in your name your whole life, and you voiced words to justify it. don’t beat yourself up for too long–we all did. but please admit that you were gravely, deadly wrong. amerika is and has always been nothing more than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the fascists he is rallying, and the drone-bombing Hillary supported. that was what created the suburbs. these things and nothing more are the essence of amerika. a future for humanity lies outside of it and beyond it.

i love y’all. i love that you love justice. i love that you love peace. but guess what? we communists love peace and justice, too.

we love it so much that we sought insatiably to solve the riddle of why–why is there peace in the suburbs, but no peace on earth? we came to the conclusion that the problem was capitalism and amerika.

we love peace and justice so much that we have put our lives on the line–because if the fascists who are now rising and organizing do take power, you best fucking believe they will straight up execute us. that’s how much we love peace and justice–we have put our names out there and you better believe we’re on their lists. look up Operation Condor, look up Fred Hampton, read “It Did Happen Here” if you don’t believe me. check out the first group named in that “first they came for the ____” poem if you don’t believe me.

the moral high ground does not belong to those who have timidly refused seek out the root of the great injustice in the world, nor does it belong to those who turn inward and try to “decolonize their own minds” rather than recognize that colonialism is not primarily a mental phenomenon–the primary form that colonialism takes is pigs with guns, both inside the police and the military and outside–and we have set about trying to find ways to smash them.

you cannot meditate colonialism away. you cannot make beautiful paintings and songs until colonialism goes away. you cannot share long-reads until fascism goes away. the only thing for it now is to build a Maoist communist party. this is the only way those who love justice to win against fascism and the capitalism that breeds it. study the Chinese Communist Revolution, the Maoists in India, and the Communist Party of the Philippines if you don’t believe me.

we can point you toward the resources. we will host the study groups and the discussions. we will make it as accessible as you ask. but recognize that only one kind of work will actually smash this menace. nothing will stop it but organized power. the only power on earth that has ever and will ever destroy fascism and imperialism is the communist movement.

Notes for a piece called something like “Who we’re up against and why they won’t go down without a fight”

On the question of the necessity of revolution, there are at least two ways of going about proving it. One way is to look at it from the outside and understand that it is a sociological law that movements that hurt profits are violently attacked to the extent that they hurt profits.

The other way is to ask why that is—to examine what the guardians of capitalism are like, how they operate and maintain their readiness to do their job. That is what I’ve been meaning to write a piece on forever. I realized that the notes I’ve been gathering to write this piece might be good food for thought for other people, so here they are. This post will change and grow as I add more notes or do more research, and will likely be replaced with a link to a finished article if that is ever written.


 

– “There can be no peace between the man who is down and the man who builds on his back.”

– Bourgeoisie is self-selecting, self-purifying, i.e., “capitalists who pass up unethical or semi-illegal methods of making money will tend to be sunk by capitalists who will use those methods. Hence, the entire business structure is filled with people who are willing to ruthlessly compete, and anyone who is not is pushed down and out.”

This applies equally to people in the FBI, CIA, and military when it comes to who can get the job done for the bourgeoisie, whose wealth controls politics and has the ultimate deciding power what shape the military and intelligence agencies take and who occupies which positions.

– i actually say “just read “Killing Hope” and get back to me.” Killing Hope is all the times from like 1940 to 1992 that the u.s. intervened to overthrow foreign governments. if someone reads that, they will see crystal clear the “uphold capitlaism by any means necessary” attitude reflected in the very highest body. obvs if it’s in that body, they enforce it in all other bodies further down the food chain, otherwise what’s the point of doing so internationally.

– Prove it: Domhoff “Who Rules America,” “Higher Circles” etc. and maybe like Agee’s “Company” here they are, this is how they think, explain the emotional glue that holds them firm, maybe the psychology and sociology of military top brass and FBI too. glue = nationalism? Psychology of police? especially versus protester and strikers

– to some extent When it comes down to it, the capitalists at the top think, “You fools, someone has to make the food.” This justifies everything they do.—”all these people can go around being unserious if they want; someone’s got to make the world run. ”

– something about the irreplaceable value of a true believer. if you’re occupying a country and you sincerely believe in your country’s motives are good for being there, you will fight and kill to defend your country’s presence there. people who lose the faith will be pushed out or demoted or even axed. a true believer does their job well because they are acting from a deep internal motivation. true believers will tend to rise to the top.
— altho shd be said that once you start to approach very high levels, they start to get materialist again to some extent.

– the implementers of the policy are just like, *cradled* and *umbrellaed* by intellectuals and theoreticians and researchers whom they trust absolutely because they share cultural values (e.g. conservative christianity with them), and these intellectuals reassure the implementers that neoliberal polices are necessary to create prosperity, and tehy take this research as a bedrock. like the idea that it’s a deficit of capitalism in Iraq and Africa sustains poverty, which then breeds terrorism. the econ 101 dogma that some push very hard doesn’t even need to be explained super carefully and isn’t even questioned super hard by the implementers of these policies. they see these trusted researchers seeming to do a lot of really hard work researching, and not a soul they respect in our society disputes it for them, so they just accept this idea: avoiding terrorism depends on neoliberal policies, on capitalism. it’s basic. it’s so basic it’s not even really questioned, not even really closely examined. it’s just a blobby but firm back or base of the mind “*of course*”

– no ascendant capitalist or ascendant imperialist wins peacefully, wins without compromise. so there will always be some capitalist who isn’t crushed, who goes along but bides time, saw some of the fucked up shit they did to win, and thinks, i have just as much right to do that. they are hardened into brutality and ruthlessness also by this competition among themselves.

– read biographies of cia directors + agents, fbi directors + agents, famous police chiefs, famous politicians, etc. e.g. look up who was head of police who killed hampton

– “Our Enemies in Blue” on pig psychology?

– the “thin blue line”; “police culture”

– never go down w/o a fight: overlap of police depts w drug trade, cops on the take; also, “blue wall of silence,” pigs acting like a gang, “beat in, beat out,” acting from self-preservation first

– overlap of cia/fbi w cartels as in sicario

– this attitude of the crookedness of humanity and this being the best we can do pervading everything, the “until 20% of the population stops snorting [coke]” thing in sicario

– by that same token, pigs only see the “worst” in people—they see people who are driven to violence, to addiction, and so on. they start to get this attitude that maybe a lot of people just desrve to be poor, and probably by that same token the people who are in charge probably deserve to be rich.. they don’t see the masses who are just getting by living in dignity even in poverty.

– or like in “the departed” they were giving immunity to frank because he was an FBI informant

– Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion

– “Marx and Engels repeatedly show that the bourgeoisie are connected with these institutions by thousands of threads.”

– the bourgeoisie set the laws, and the police enforce the laws, so the police find themselves confronting the oppressed and exploited as rulebreakers, disposing them against those people.

1. the way the cops make their living is literally by guarding property; if the way we make our living in the world infleunces our consciousness, and the things we depend on for our livelihood become dear and sacred to us, then private property will become that way for a cop

2. the same things that dispose cops to materially want to perpetuate the drug war (incentives outlined in eg new jim crow) also materially dispose them toward adversariality toward the masses.

– cops as lumpen. people who work for a wage who are parasitic on the value produced by the rest of the working class.

* also it seems like a lot of people (eg people whose main strategy is to build “safe” spaces) are led to understimate the need for unity precisely because of the ferocity of the enemy and the enemy’s willingness to resist and fight tooth and claw.

the clarification of the danger of the enemy is a necessary part of creating the apparency of the need for unity among all those currently oppressed. the clarification of the danger of the enemy rules out certain strategies that could only succeed if the enemy is tepid and weak and indecisive. but the enemy is in fact formidable, and it will take all the people united and even then in a fierce struggle, to win.

– something about fascism and white supremacy in the police department, in the fbi, in the history of coups and death squads, greensboro massacre; about how they’d rather rule in a fascist society than not rule at all. or to be very precise, that anyone who would rather rule in a fascist society than not rule at all *will do just that*, and any capitalists and pigs who can’t stomach it will either shut up and go along, get pushed out, or get killed themselves. but the power structure as a whole is, again, “self-purifying” and can pivot to fascism, and in fact this may be said to be its dominant mode if you look how things are in most of the world and through most of history.

– “even if a progressive or revolutionary party managed to get elected to a parliamentary majority, it would simply control the legislative body of the state; there would remain in place a massive bureaucracy which was structured to operate in an anti-people manner, staffed with bureaucrats with their own political inclinations, defended by a judiciary, police force, and army designed to maintain capitalist “order”, and ultimately operating at the whim of capital, which is capable of effecting policy through direct bribery, capital strikes, and other forms of anti-democratic action.”

– the sheepdog thing, the cops think they’re cut from a special cloth + the world would fall apart w/o them

– also look thru “who rules america” to find attitudes of like, if we don’t rule, the world will fall apart + also this attitude elsewhere eg among economists, cia people, generals, etc., other people in power.

e.g. “you can’t use welfare to get the dignity + self-satisfaction that keeps people not-terrorists, you need a job, and to get a job you need the free market.”

—————————
at end, FAQs:
—————————-

Q: Won’t the “cycle of violence” continue if we use violent revolution?

A: The “this enshrines violence” line indicates an incorrect attitude about the masses’ ability to know what oppression is. People do not rebel when their leaders are progressive and not reactionary—when the leaders are helping them accomplish their goals and come to an ever-deeper satisfaction and flourishing. If we have created a society where the leadership is good and genuinely democratic, there will not be some raw “desire to attack authorities” that keeps happening.

– look at the class interests of the groups still around after the revolution? class interests determine who wants to attack whom, not some raw “i was raised near violence”-ness.

– look at it in motion: what sort of people with what class interests are getting generated by the economic base and relations of productions who is prone to feel a certain way

– once no more oppressors are being bred, who will want to take back up the violence?

* * *

Q: doesn’t the internet change things?

A:
– in the end, they will massacre people to stay in power; they have before and they will again

– they control the internet and can shut it down and selectively decide what gets shown; they have incredibly advanced algorithms that can detect what is being talked about and censor it.

– they can also produce way more content than us, and spam that content, write articels that seem well-sourced to convince people of things that aren’t actually happening, hire people to pretend to be regular people offering regular-joe opinions, and so on. their resources allow them to flood out what we’re writing with very convincing stuff that casts our stuff into sharp doubt. this is in fact the primary factor—as long as they control the server infrastructure (and they will, under capitalism), the internet will still function primarily as THEIR propaganda tool.

– yes the internet it is a new tool that allows faster conversations, but it also makes our conversations very easily spied on, and so it also, in addition to increasing our abilities, increases their abilities as well

– the idea that “well the whole world will see they’re massacring peaceful protesters!” relies on the idea that someone sooner or later will be so outraged that they will no longer be pacifist and will in fact take to countering massacring force with armed resistance. so even this idea of “b-b-b-ut the internet plus pacifism!” includes as a hidden but inevitable term the idea that sooner or later if pacifism fails someone will resort to defensive violence against oppressors. if the idea is “internet plus pacifism no matter what,” well, any oppressor willing to commit massacres will just keep doing it until they have a population consisting only of non-resisters.

Some thoughts on white workers and the problems with “Third-Worldism”

a lot of “third-worldists” look at how white people are now, or at their worst crimes, and say, “That’s it for white workers, no work to be done there.” but that’s an unmarxist way of looking at it. marxism teaches us that everything is always transforming, that there are contradictions in all things.

one of the “third-worldist” bibles, “Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat,” does contain many sobering examples of times the white working class betrayed oppressed-nations people (aka poc). but one nugget that i think most “third-worldists” ignore is the fact that in the most revolutionary of moments e.g. with the early iww and the 1930s CPUSA, at those most revolutionary times there absolutely were large contingents of revolutionary white workers. the more revolutionary the moment, the more white workers became legit, genuinely internationalist communists.

the book accidentally undermines its own premise: in fact, white people can change and do become revolutionary–there just has to be a viable long-term alternative to the existing power structure to make them willing en masse to abandon their short-term interests with white supremacy. this may be sad, but it’s the truth–it’s marxism, which teaches us that masses of people at core are gonna look after their material interests.

the most important thing, though, is that these two desires, short-term white-person desire to keep white privilege and long-term worker desire for socialism, both are REAL, and in fact both desires *already exist* in the mind of the white worker. it’s just that the long-term desire is not offered any convincing possible way of being fulfilled at the moment. the more something is real and exists and is genuinely offering white workers a way forward into a decent future and it’s not a super-duper long-shot, the more white workers will join the communist movement and abandon the less-and-less-appealing crumbs of whiteness in favor of a world where class is abolished and humanity is thriving.

so what we can do is prioritize the oppressed-nations working classes, build that viable alternative–which is a strong communist party that can realistically promise a socialist future–but all along never ignore white chauvinism, struggle against it arduously, and be doing the hard work of winning over the white workers that we can. and as long as we remain staunch internationalists and refuse to center white workers, then we will win over all the white workers who can be won over to genuine communism.