Six ways you have to contextualize the socialist countries of the 20th century if you want to really understand

Without overlooking the fact that there were without a doubt some very severe 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) (also see the post “Understanding ‘refugees from socialism’ in the context of disgruntled Confederates in the u.s. civil war”), 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. What’s more, these ruling institutions have been the dominant factor influencing Western culture and historical understanding for so long that the people themselves have become a re-transmitter of these ideas.

On top of that, we must reject the entire philosophy that is standard in capitalist countries for talking about the socialist countries. That philosophy for viewing historical periods says that our main mission is to tell a story to sum up the virtue and vice, pain vs. pleasure, in these times and places as self-contained periods of moral history.

This misses the whole point of why these revolutions occurred in the first place: they were the first steps on the path toward an entirely new epoch in human society–the epoch of communism. Our primary motivation for evaluating those periods is to learn what they can teach us about pushing forward the communist struggle.

We are scientists. The Wright brothers had two failures before they achieved sustained flight.

When we study these revolutions, we study them not to give them a score on the morality scale, 1 to 100, but instead to learn from them in order to try to achieve flight and then achieve sustained flight–successfully taking off from a country that is still divided by class and national oppression and flying steadily in the direction of an entirely communist planet.

A great quote from Lenin in 1918 on that final point:

“All that we knew, all that the best experts on capitalist society, the greatest minds who foresaw its development, exactly indicated to us was that transformation was historically inevitable and must proceed along a certain main line, that private ownership of the means of production was doomed by history, that it would burst, that the exploiters would inevitably be expropriated. This was established with scientific precision, and we knew this when we grasped the banner of socialism, when we declared ourselves socialists, when we founded socialist parties, when we transformed society. We knew this when we took power for the purpose of proceeding with socialist reorganisation; but we could not know the forms of transformation, or the rate of development of the concrete reorganisation. Collective experience, the experience of millions can alone give us decisive guidance in this respect, precisely because, for our task, for the task of building socialism, the experience of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of those upper sections which have made history up to now in feudal society and in capitalist society is insufficient. We cannot proceed in this way precisely because we rely on joint experience, on the experience of millions of working people.”

Here also is something a comrade of mine wrote that is really excellent on contextualizing the fact that the more successful a revolution is, the more “horrors” we hear about it. They were specifically writing about the people’s war in Peru, waged by the Communist Party of Peru (the so-called “Shining Path”):

“The PCP [was one of the most powerful political parties] in Peru at the time. How do alleged ‘terrorist death cults’ go about doing that? How could the PCP lead major strikes in the industrial sector if they went around terrorizing workers? How could the PCP liberate around 40% of the Peruvian countryside if all they did was massacre peasants? This is a question which I rarely get an answer to from anti-Maoists — were those who sided with the PCP just too stupid and ‘brainwashed’ to make an educated decision?

Red terror is part of every revolution in history. Further terror (aimed at enemies and their supporters), in one form or another, is a feature of all warfare.

So to simply start to use the familiar U.S. media/political language that loosely demonizes ‘terror’ is to obscure important distinctions (between just and unjust wars) precisely parallel to the ways these things are obscured in the mainstream media.

The ‘Shining Path’ is accused of ‘terror.’ But when the U.S. rattles nukes at North Korea (‘nothing is off the table’) that is portrayed as a justified and measured response (even if it literally involves terrorizing 25 million people by threatening their possible incineration).

Most of the loose talk demonizing the supposed ‘terror’ in great popular uprisings (including such diverse events as PCP’s guerrilla war, or the Russian revolution, or the 1992 Los Angeles rebellion, or the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution) boils down to this:

‘The emperor can burn down villages, but the people are forbidden to light a candle.’

War operates on laws of its own. And those laws apply with great force of necessity on any political force that shifts to a war footing (from a previous period of political base building and preparation).

Once an actual armed struggle for power erupts it is necessary to actually break (disrupt, disperse, isolate and decimate) the organized networks of the other side. Otherwise victory is impossible.

In rural guerrilla warfare, where the villages are often controlled by the armed forces by day and the guerrillas by night — there is an acute need to disrupt government networks of intelligence gathering (because the army can relatively easily round up those they identify for death squad torture and murder). It is common for guerrilla forces (throughout history) to execute informants and also (in some case) also those in the villages who agree to openly serve the government (as official village chiefs, or as counterinsurgency ‘village defense’ forces, or other forms of open collaboration).

This was the case during the Vietnamese liberation struggle, during the anti-Nazi resistance in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and in China’s protracted revolutionary war — and it was the case in Peru.

And terror has another function: the punishment of notorious oppressors of the people (for example landlords who raped women, or sold children into slavery) is a political sign that the world has changed. That power has shifted in historic ways. Unless there is visible, measured and focused punishment of notorious oppressors, the long brutalized people will not feel empowered to speak and act. And the arrogant forces of the old society will think they just need to wait things out. When a revolution sweeps through any feudal area in the world (think of a revolution sweeping through Klan-dominated Mississippi of 1930) there are brutal, well-known oppressors whose punishment any liberating force would put high on its agenda. In Nepal, the creation of ‘peoples courts’ was one of the first signs of embryonic new power. And such courts both carry out the focused punishment of notorious reactionaries (who generally flee to avoid that punishment) and carry out resolution of problems among the people on a radical new cultural and legal basis.

Reactionary observers call such things ‘terrorism’ — and they equate it with the anti-people actions of reactionaries like Daesh. (I.e. they equate revolutionary movements of the people with ugly reactionary movements seeking to reinforce old oppressions.)

And if there are errors made by the new revolutionary justice, the reactionary observers portray (and distort) those errors as typical and fundamental. Is any of this a surprise? it is very typical and well known. right?

And the need for revolutionary justice of these kinds has to do with the nature of revolutionary guerrilla war. If anyone wants to argue against such terror — at the village level — they are really arguing against the very notion of armed revolutionary warfare.

In Peru all this was complicated by the fact that significant sections of the ‘left’ (i.e. the reformist electoral left parties) supported the military in the war — and their networks were sometimes exploited by the government as informant networks.

Some of the first ronderos were organized by liberation theology priests (who also had a history of pro-military connections going back to the 1970s military dictatorship). Ronderos were armed pro-government ‘village defense forces’ assigned to kill PCP organizers and sympathizers — they were often gangs of village bullies armed and trained by the government who carried out their own reign of terror over the people (and were backed up when needed by regular army forces).

And so the identification and punishment of informants and ronderos got reported (internationally) as ‘Shining Path guerrillas execute indigenous villagers and rival leftists.’

That narrative was often just a crude lie, and almost always a crude distortion. In trade union and social democratic leftists circles, it was said ‘Shining Path simply kills trade unionists.’ In liberal catholic circles it was said ‘The Shining Path kills priests and nuns.’ (And little was said, interestingly enough, of the Catholic left forces who joined the PCP at key moments.) And in the organized left it was said ‘The Shining Path killed other leftist forces in a murderous sectarianism.’ And so on.”


Some thoughts on the all-pervading anticommunist propaganda in middle-class 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?

You cannot meditate colonialism away, you cannot use love to trump fascism: A letter to liberals, November 2016


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 for those who love justice to win against fascism and capitalism, which 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.

ADDITION 2017 05 31 0144 CDT:

And here’s basically how I’m thinking an introduction should go:

There is a law, call it the law of capitalist violence proportional to harm done to profit. We’ll find a catchier name for it later.

This law states that the more a movement disrupts system-wide profit, the more violence is used against it until it dissolves (or wins).

This law has no exceptions–everywhere capitalism has existed, this law has held good. Whether the movement was peaceful or violent, whether it believed capitalism had to be undone or not, if a movement disrupts profits system-wide, it has been attacked with a degree of violence roughly proportional to the percentage of profit it was costing the system.

This can be shown historically. But for someone who doesn’t know this history thoroughly and wants to be offered a reason *why* it is this way, or for someone who knows this history but is not convinced that it must always be this way going forward, that is who this paper is being written for.

It aims to prove two conclusions, and then a third conclusion that follows from those first two.

First, it aims to prove that IF you want a society where all society-wide decisions are made for the common good and never to the benefit of some private individual or group of individual while costing society, THEN what you want is a movement that will fall into the category of movements that they will be willing to destroy by any means necessary, however violent.

Second, it aims to show why, psychologically speaking, they are always willing to use this violence against those movements even though it occurs in different times, places, cultures, and different levels of technology.

The third conclusion, then, is the necessity for revolution. If we can prove those first two claims definitively, then it will be seen that if we want to solve the problems of this world, there can be no other option but armed revolution on behalf of our cause that (a) can resist their violence while continuing to grow, and (b) ultimately aims to destroy their ability to do violence, and thus their ability to resist the final success of this movement.
ADDITION 2017 05 27 0220 CDT:

Just in case anyone’s waiting for it with bated breath, here is the path of the argument:

1. The bourgeois position exists:

  • Privilege (and oppression and poverty)
  • Capital (and the state + custom that privatize the use of capital)
  • Political positions that ally you with businesspeople
  • Institutions (ski resorts, private schools) that buffer them off from common people–similarly protected by the state and customs
    • “Where I went to boarding school, there were girls from all over the country, so I know people from all over. It’s helpful when you move to a new city and want to get invited into the local social club.”
    • “Private social clubs are a major point of orientation in the lives of upper-class adults. These clubs also have a role in differentiating members of the upper class from other members of society. The clubs of the upper class are many and varied, ranging from family-oriented country clubs and downtown men’s and women’s clubs to highly specialized clubs for yachtsmen, sportsmen, gardening enthusiasts, and fox hunters.”
      • The clubs are “[places] of social bonding and the passing on of general values.”
      • “Initiation fees, annual dues, and expenses vary from a few thousand dollars in downtown clubs to tens of thousands of dollars in some country clubs, but money is not the primary barrier in gaining membership to a club. Each club has a very rigorous screening process before accepting new members. Most require nomination by one or more active members, letters of recommendation from three to six members, and interviews with at least some members of the membership committee. Negative votes by two or three members of what is typically a 10- to 20-person committee often are enough to deny admission to the candidate.”
    • “Men and women of the upper class often belong to clubs in several cities, creating a nationwide pattern of overlapping memberships. These overlaps provide evidence for social cohesion within the upper class.”
      • “The club memberships of the chairpersons and outside directors of the 20 largest industrial corporations were counted. The overlaps with upper-class clubs in general are ubiquitous, but the concentration of directors in a few clubs is especially notable. At least one director from 12 of the 20 corporations is a member of the Links Club, which is the New York meeting grounds of the national corporate establishment.”
    • Being in the bourgeois position doesn’t require formal ownership of significant amounts of capital, or being a CEO or even on the board of a business. Most crucially, it is nearness to the levers of bourgeois power on this earth–that is, it does require at least being part of an institution that looks out for value-valorizing institutions (which are businesses in most places, but weren’t necessarily in, e.g., 1960 USSR).
      • Here’s Domhoff’s diagram. People in the bourgeois position are near the center of circle:
        •  power_elite_diagram

2. Statistically, occupying the bourgeois position produces bourgeois axioms in the minds of the people who occupy it.

  • Axioms aren’t arguments, they are predispositions to arguments.
  • Privilege makes it look like you’re uniquely good.
    • They indoctrinate themselves one way (protestant saving and investment) and the masses another way (buy your way out of pain).
    • Privilege in essence should be defined as social ease of access to the bourgeois position, whether to business loans, policy institutions, or political office.
  • Owning capital becomes invisible, so you feel like you’re just talented even though what you really are is given an easier way through the world and access to employees through control of finite economic resources.
  • It all adds up to the exploitation of credit for creativity.
    • That is, it is a more common understanding of what Marx said that the prevailing ideology of capitalism transfers perceived deservingness of the wealth that is produced from labor to capital. And it does, it makes it look like capital produces wealth, not labor. But part of that process is invisibilizing the transfer of credit for creativity. But the transfer of credit for creativity has another effect: producing bourgeois axioms in the minds of capitalists and their assistants that incline them toward a Great Man of History theory, an inevitable part of which is that The Masses Are Sheep–that the masses will do anything for bread, drugs, and images of sex.
      • Only four ways this can go:
        • “Not everyone is really fit to have power; most people are innately inferior to the few elites who run things.” (Fascist outlook)
        • “Maybe one day everyone can have power but right now there’s not enough stuff to go around in the world so the best we can do is for the elites to steward the masses to raise the productive forces until there is enough.” (Philanthropic outlook)
          • Every sorority (and fraternity?) is attached to a charity.
          • Of plays the capitalists put on for themselves at the most elite of social clubs in the U.S.: “We know in advance that the hero will be a king or commander adored by his men, and that he will see his duty and do it.”
          • Both Obama and Xi Jinping look at things this way.
        • “There may be enough stuff now but people have to be culturally transformed by outside experts.” (That is, the masses are not the source of correct new ideas for culture–the party is.)
        • “Fuck the masses, I got mine.” In truth, they all have some element of this. It is not at the top of their consciousness, but all the old capitalist families undoubtedly have a “this family is important and deserves respect and will persist” attitude, which has “fuck whoever gets in the way” as an inevitable corollary.
      • A corollary is that they believe socialism is just despotism. The ancap or libertarian insists that socialism is just one massive corporation with one owner because they cannot conceive of the masses having more political power than the party and its chair. They cannot see the culturo-military question, the willingness, readiness, and *capacity* of the masses to pull the bourgeoisified cadre out of office.
      • The bourgeoisie cannot exist in this world without wielding violence, so a justification for doing self-preserving violence is always already part of any successful bourgeois ideology. People with pro-bourgeois ideas that don’t justify the specific violence necessary to preserve the actually existing bourgeois order also can’t come anywhere near the top of that actually existing bourgeois order. On that note..

3. The pyramid is self-purifying

  • That is, those who refuse or fail to use some method in defense of capital lose out, because in the final instance violence is necessary to defend capital, so those who are willing and able to use any and all means, including violence, to defend capital are not susceptible to the profit losses that those who can’t or won’t use them are. They will get outcompeted and bought up, voluntarily or hostilely. Countries with a lot of wealth can (and do) do this to poorer countries all the time (it’s called regime change), so it has to be understood as happening on the highest levels.
    • Pinochet waiting beneath Allende
    • It should be said that in the final instance, the state is subordinate to the bourgeois apparatus because it needs value to attract, train, maintain, and (very importantly) arm the individuals who will compose the state. Imperialist countries supplying weapons to reactionary factions of the states of unruly non-imperialist countries should not be seen as different from a hostile takeover–the maneuver still requires a sufficiently broad inequality in wealth that the “unruly” factions of the target non-imperialist country can’t just arm and bribe their own people sufficiently to match the “bid” coming in from the imperialist country.
  • This is principally because of the mandate to compete for profit. They are always looking for a competitive edge, and that includes noticing when a rival gets soft in some way.
  • The bourgeoisie indoctrinate the protectors of the system more thoroughly and with a more extreme position of its defense
    • Pigs and soldiers being fascists more commonly than the bourgeoisie.
    • Pigs and soldiers are hired to enforce laws, and confront people in violation of those laws, inclining them to think there is a lawless instinct in humanity.
    • Cops and soldiers make a living protecting property–if the way we make our living in the world influences 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.
    • Pigs also see humanity at its most ruthless and materialistic.
    • As Michelle Alexander in New Jim Crow and The House I Live In argues, they also have financial incentive to pursue the War on Drugs, e.g., the ability to seize assets, sell them to fund the local department, and then the department can give them raises.
  • Part of the self-purifyingness is the devisal of specific ideological defusings of the arguments against capitalism that arise. The factions that can best defuse those arguments will rise to the top.
    • Each faction of the bourgeoisie (neoliberal, corporate Republican, libertarian, fascist) all have their own think tanks.
  • They also just straight-up indoctrinate themselves.
    • “Thus, boarding schools are in many ways the kind of highly effective socializing agent called total institutions, isolating their members from the outside world and providing them with a set of routines and traditions that encompass most of their waking hours. The end result is a feeling of separateness and superiority that comes from having survived a rigorous education.”
  • They also produce arguments intended for the masses to consume as part of ensuring profit.
    • The electoral pageant
    • Churches
    • The nonprofit industrial complex

∴ At the top we always find people who believe in the necessity of their own particular bourgeois apparatus (for one or more of the four reasons described above)–and barring that, some form of a bourgeois apparatus–who are ready to do violence on behalf of it. We find beneath them a state apparatus that is trained to be obedient to the existing bourgeois power structure and whose members are also continually having bourgeois axioms cultivated in their minds that is ready and eager to carry out that violence.

Most pressing tasks:

* Really getting into it about how privilege, the control of capital, and being near or at the levers of power in order to talk in a convincing way of how bourgeois social being produces bourgeois axiomatic consciousness.

* Really getting into it about how isolated they are, so how shielded they are (a) from the social being that produces any other consciousness, and (b) from un-defused ideas that attack bourgeois ideologies. They never see social disproof, and they never hear un-disproved anti-bourgeois ideas.

* Really getting into the specifics of how the bourgeois ideology justifies violence. You can infer it from those four mindsets, but where and when are the ideas to defend the actually-existing use of violence imparted? I know when they’re imparted to the masses (in school, we must defend America because of its greatness, we must defend private property because otherwise society descends into chaos; on the news, we must defeat terrorism). But what are the specifics for the bourgeoisie’s indoctrination on these questions.

* Relatedly, what the apparatus looks like in motion as it justifies an emergent specific need to use violence (e.g., as it justifies a war, or justifies the CIA’s activities).

* Real-world examples of how an anti-bourgeois ideology tries and fails to reach into the bourgeois apparatus.

* Decide which of these two specific questions you want to answer:

  • Prove that any movement will always find a bourgeois structure that is ready to attack it to the degree that it hurts profit.
  • Prove that any nullify-all-the-harms-of-capitalism movement will always find a bourgeois structure that is ready to attack it the more successful it is (which, inevitably, the more successfully it disrupts profits).
  • Where to incorporate how the system deploys anticommunism? Because any profit-hurting movement will get red-baited before long.

* Who is your audience? Who are you trying to convince? The Bernie people? And to exactly what position are you trying to bring them? Well, presumably you want to foster the rupture with enough ideas to bring them over the line into the revolutionary camp so that gravity will do the rest. So you want to prove that what they want, the state of affairs even they acknowledge must be brought about

  • Maybe, to prove that if we want to see a world where, if a policy will increase the wealth of a private individual or set of individuals but hurt the general welfare, that that policy is never implemented, they will use violence against a movement the closer it comes to the power to achieve that goal. But so then part of that process would be to show why that state of affairs is incompatible with profit, so there is work before even talking about the bourgeois mindset. Some of that work might be done here but it probably needs expanding on.

ADDITION 2017 04 25 2238 CDT:

– sociopaths (“i got mine, fuck you” or, for fascists, “we got ours, fuck you.”)
– liberals of various sorts–people who accept the sheepdog view of society as eternally true (sheeps who would overthrow the sheepdogs need to get crushed so that wolves don’t eat the rest of the sheep)
– social democrats (people who believe communism is possible, but think that we can get there evolutionarily, so will kill anyone who tries to get there through armed revolution because that will kill more people or because it is more chaotic).
– revisionists (possibly the same as the social democrats in an important way) (who believe we are on track to communism and anyone sabotaging the development of the productive forces is sabotaging our advance toward communism). probably for them and the social democrats, the point made about feeling of urgency applies–they aren’t the masses in tremendous pain, so (maybe) it’s a projection of their own feelings of basic comfort with the current situation onto the masses, and the sense that to bring the masses up toward revolution is a mistreatment of the masses. and they can indeed find plenty of members of the masses who will agree with them, albeit the backwards and not the advanced.

* how urgent the problem feels to the bourgeois individual in question. if you didn’t come from a poor working-class family in guatemala and you are instead obama from an affluent background, you may both want to change the world in a way you consider progressive, but you will have radically different senses of how urgent it is and therefore what tactics are called for
* for some, possibly: abandonment of responsibility because they don’t have close to full control over the system and how it was when they gained power in it

paternalistic/sheepdog mentality universal in anticommunist manifestations

great man of history theory: great men stewarded lemmings through history, wherever, it went. mao was a grand brainwasher man who led the lemmings into his dark plot.

maybe common to all of them is a doubt of the masses as the motive force of history

even the social democrat / reformist communist / CPC party member doubts the power of the masses.

all of these individuals necessarily have a certain set of blinders. no amount of begging will let them see it any differently, just see you closer and closer to threatening the foundations of the system and the only ways they think it can exist.

how charity fits into this, both into the paternalism and into the massive number of charitable societies they set up.

how all forms of it necessarily intersect with individualism, because individualism is always being created by being in a bourgeois position.

individualism manifests as opportunism for the revisionists and social democrats–let’s move things along in *my* time, or for *my* country.

ADDITION 2017 04 25 1122 CDT:

A lot of people–especially people from a middle-class background who haven’t had to stress the fuck out about money as hard as poor working-class people or worry about being driven out of business by the competition like the ruling class– have the impression that the whole world is driven by the same rules that apply to their life. They can choose to put the pursuit of profit low on their priorities–they can spend extra money on meat from well-treated livestock, they can choose to be a lawyer for a nonprofit instead of for a giant corporation. So they have a hard time seeing that the world as a whole, at its largest levels, is driven by different principles than the ones that drive their personal decisions.

Based on their own personal experiences–and having done little investigation into what decision-making is like at the highest levels (of the biggest corporations, and of the most powerful countries)–they like to imagine that you can appeal to the rich to change their attitudes.

But here it is, in one simple principle: at the highest level, the world is guided by the principle “be a monster or get eaten by monsters.” It is a sociological law that this is how it plays out in capitalism, as ironclad as the law of gravity.
Someone might ask, “Can’t they all agree together to just stop this principle?”

a. What other principle is there in a world that is driven by profit? Like, it will still be necessary to drive your competitor out of the market, or else you know for sure you’ll be driven out of the market. You say “don’t put profit first” but where do you put it when you’re competing at that largest scale? You say, “Well maybe they should want less and be less power-hungry” and that’s like, okay, fine, how are you gonna make them that way? Your instincts say, “Well, pass a law, run an advertising campaign.” But what if the most powerful people in the world think it’s laughable and pathetic to abandon power when it’s there to be competed for?

b. It’s moving too fast. How can you spread this principle fast enough without the system evolving an immunity to a kinder, gentler principle e.g., “Don’t compete beyond this line of ethicality.” And what is that, does it involve dumping, certain ways of treating workers, can you no longer lobby? Can you no longer ask your politician pals for favors? The whole system is set up to make so many of these methods of exerting extra-market influence invisible even to the people doing the competing.

c. Society breeds people to be like this (fraternities)

d. One version of the mindset is the “protecting American values, the greatest values” mindset–which justifies anything to keep America powerful, because the preservation of American values (“It’s good and righteous to start a company.”) is important above all.

e. So really, it generates a variety of mindsets *all* of which have the basic premise “Seeking profit at all costs is justifiable” in some sense. It’s not always “I am righteous,” sometimes it’s “I’ll do what I want and if I outcompete someone then they’re weak and I’ll laugh as I conquer them,” but the system naturally selects for these mindsets, because anyone psychologically able to carry out these tasks will outcompete anyone who balks or can’t proceed calmly and strategically at all times. What we’re talking about is the breeding of a variety of types of conscience, all of which are suited to reliably carrying out these actions, over decades and longer.

f. “‘Everybody in the United States wanted to be the first person to go after bin Laden and get this hunt going, and they had given me that role,’ [former CIA agent] Schroen remembered.”

These consciences are often not qualitatively different from a garden-variety centrist liberal’s conscience in the way they prioritize u.s. life over the lives of others. They are totally fine with a war and a foreign policy that kills more (way more) than 2,800 innocent people (as on 9/11) in response to 9/11.

* An important part of this question is going into the mechanisms by which the ruling class (a) conceals its own existence, and (b) creates a different image of itself in the public’s mind.

ADDITION 2017 04 21 0341 CDT:

I have heard from someone I think is generally trustworthy not to trust the CPF(MLM), but still something they wrote I think is helpful in answering this question. It draws on dialectical materialism to give us the far limits of anything the bourgeoisie think. In this way it’s actually really important and helpful, because otherwise we might continually fret that we are leaving something out. But just as we now know that there are no exceptions and the proletariat must *always* smash the ready-made state machinery in order to move toward communism, just the same, bearing the following in mind, we may know certain things will *always* be true of how the bourgeoisie think:

CPF(MLM) argue that thoughts do not fall from the sky, but in fact objective material forces give rise to thoughts. The thoughts of communists, specifically big Thoughts like Mao Zedong Thought or Gonzalo Thought, come to be because of the material reality of a country–it is the very opposite of them falling from the sky. A revolution cannot move forward except through one of these thoughts.

By that same token, though–and to be clear, the following is something I think they are implying but none of the few documents I’ve read actually makes it explicit–since we know that the revolutionary potential is completely gone from the big bourgeoisie, we know that their thoughts do not move society forward at all–they cannot pull anything progressive into this world. They can only relabel and repackage things from our gross, narrowly-self-interested society. And this means that the Thought that is running the bourgeoisie, and thus the principal thoughts of all the individuals who are carrying out that Thought, are similarly old, stagnant, and self-interested.

As they write, “The imperialists do not think; they are decadent, they are the product of the general crisis of capitalism. Time is ready for the People’s War, not for speeches on a brainless decadent system.”

This may sort of seem banal, and maybe it is to you, to just say “all the leaders of the bourgeoisie are principally guided by ideas stemming from the bourgeois ideology.” But to me, this is helpful in setting definitively the outer bound of possible answers to this question.

– “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

– 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.”

– “in addition, we see that there are regimes of old feudal systems, of old aristocracies, royal families such as in Jordan. We see that all of these oil-producing countries and others see their positions threatened, their interests at risk.” and think of how like, the wealthy families of the united states and the rest of the capitalist world are the same. think of the attitudes inside those families, of the leaders of those families and the respect they demand. think of the way politicians who meet with those leaders bow to those leaders, think of how police chiefs bow to those politicians, and how the individual police are made to bow to their chiefs.

– “The working class is constantly at war with its enemy, the capitalist class. In this war (class struggle), as in any other war, the capitalist class has one main objective-to defeat its enemy, the working class.”

When we frame the question this way, from a military perspective, what is the goal? Our goal is to force the capitalist class to capitulate as a class, and cease to organize for its interests as a class, and become absorbed into the working class. Their objective is not the annihilation of all workers, but the annihilation of all structures that truly help advocate for it as a class as a whole, to get free as a whole. Thus we see that it is not a step-by-step thing but a question of how one power gets its hands around the other power’s neck.

So just as there is no “easing all of society toward communism,” there is also no easing a person toward the left. The break that is necessary is to see the antagonistic contradictions and become committed to solving them by any means necessary.

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?

– 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 “but 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.

it’s critical to be aware of the gravity of the problem: one of the most important “third-worldist” works, Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat, does contain many sobering examples of times the white working class betrayed oppressed-nations people (aka poc). with that said, one nugget that many if not most “third-worldists” ignore is the fact that in the most revolutionary of moments e.g. with the early iww and the 1930s CPUSA, there absolutely were large contingents of revolutionary white workers. the more revolutionary the moment, the more white workers became legit, genuinely internationalist communists.

the point to take away here is that 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.

Two interpretations of “think globally, act locally”; and the problem with “think globally, act locally” as it is usually applied

1a. “Think globally”: Mourn globally, then stop your study of the problem there. There’s lots of poverty. Guess that it’s probably because most people aren’t charitable (i.e., aren’t giving others goods and services for free). And guess that most people probably aren’t charitable because you’re one of the first people in the history of the world who has thought, “If I’m charitable, then being charitable will go viral.” Refuse to study history to see whether this plan to cause charitability to go viral has ever been thought of before and what the results were.

b. “Act locally”: Do whatever charitable act you would most enjoy.

2a. “Think globally”: Look at the whole interconnected world as it is, divided between rich and poor countries, and each of those countries divided between a tiny sliver of wealthy and a large mass of poor people. Study history: How does this system reproduce itself generation after generation? How did we get where we are, as a whole planet, as a whole system?

What has been the history of previous analyses about this problem? Is there some theory about how the whole system must be transformed? Are there situations where deprivation was abolished or dramatically reduced? How did those situations come to pass? What must the masses of people do to bring those situations about? Study the history of the attempts of individuals to help catalyze the masses into doing that: what can I do, where I am, to most effectively catalyze others to most effectively catalyze others to most effectively catalyze others (and so on) until the masses are in motion solving this problem?

2b. “Act locally”: Carry out the strategy that has proved most effective in this in the past, continually iterating and refining your tactics locally based on your experiences and what they tell you about where you fit in geographically and chronologically in this catalyzation-of-catalyzation process.


I have met a lot of people with what seems to be a sincere desire to help end the misery in the world whose working theory was basically this:

“I will do something that provides additional resources to poor working people for free right where I am. This will help them solve their own problems better. If everyone did this, the problem will be solved–and by setting an example, I can make the idea to do this type of charitable work ‘go viral’ and soon everyone *will* do this.” They think, I will start a community garden, or I will teach skills for free, or I will volunteer lots of hours for a nonprofit.

Such an approach fails to ask important questions: (1) *can* everyone do this? is there anything unique or rare about my circumstances that makes it impossible for everyone to provide the degree of resources I am providing?; (2) hasn’t anyone had this idea before? what would happen if this particularly caught on in certain areas, with literally whole cities running moneylessly, where those who needed things received them from a common store without asking?

Let’s talk about (1): No, only people with disposable time, money, and social prestige who live in countries with abundant resources can do this sort of thing. If any part of this work runs on grant money, well, (i) there is only so much grant money in the world, so if one project gets it, that’s another project elsewhere that doesn’t; (ii) that grant money comes from people who earn a profit somewhere and donate it, and if your project hurts their ability to profit, they won’t keep donating.

And (2): Such a thing as a moneyless city would cause a stir. It offends sensibilities. It is “communism.” And what’s more, it would hurt the profits of any corporations trying to operate in that city, because a well-fed group of workers is a group of workers who can bargain for as high a wage as possible; a well-educated populace is one that can grasp what regulations are most necessary and argue for them most thoroughly. And here is the crux: the more a grassroots movement hurts the profits of big corporations, the more aggressively it is attacked–to the point of violence, to the point of guns, to the point of death squads. This is a sociological law under capitalism with no exceptions, and read “Killing Hope” and “Agents of Repression” if you don’t believe me.