Zombie Simpsons and the cultural hegemony of Hollyweird

From S5E14, “Lisa Vs. Maliu Stacey

In 1919, Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist who was imprisoned by the Mussolini’s government, for his beliefs, specifically his anti-fascist actions, wrote that “the capitalists have lost pre-eminence: their freedom is limited; their power is annulled. Capitalist concentration has arrived at the greatest development allowed it, realizing the world monopoly of production and exchange. The corresponding concentration of the working masses has given an unheard of power to the revolutionary proletarian class…They are not dead.” This is the case with The Simpsons, an animated sitcom, in its 29th season, with its viewership sharply declining, which still lives on through “memes on social media that serve as still-relevant social commentary.” [1] In order to analyze how this manifests itself in the Simpsons and the tyranny of Hollyweird, a term I thought came from  Chuck D of Public Enemy, but it seems to be used on a lot of conservative websites but I see no issue with re-appropriating it for something which is evidently much more positive, it is only right to turn to the theories of Gramsci. Later on, this article will use Gramsci’s theories to pose a broader analysis of The Simpsons, which can easily be applied to Hollyweird as a whole. Before anyone criticizes my analysis, I would like to add here as a disclaimer that I read through Gramsci’s works, cited in this article, over a few day period and made the analysis from there. Obviously, this is not all the works of Gramsci, but I did my best to provide a summarized analysis. There is undoubtedly some aspects which I did not address, but I did my best to address all the pertinent aspects. I say this before people get on my case about “missing” something or debating over my interpretation of Gramsci. With that, as always, all comments are welcome.

Summarizing Gramsci’s theories on intellectuals and hegemony

The tyranny of Hollyweird (which usually just includes America’s film industry, but can be said, for this article to include the whole media-entertainment complex), should be analyze on a systemic manner, rather than just focusing on a symptom.

Apart from looking at varied scholars, it is best to look at Gramsci’s writings themselves. In December 1916, when arguing that the proletariat should reject ideology from bourgeois newspapers, he added that these proletariat must “always, always, always remember that the bourgeois newspaper…is an instrument of struggle motivated by ideas and interests that are contrary to his. Everything that is published is influenced by one idea: that of serving the dominant class, and which is ineluctably translated into a fact: that of combating the laboring class…the bourgeois newspapers tell even the simplest of facts in a way that favors the bourgeois class and damns the working class and its politics.” This could easily be applied to Hollyweird. The same could be said of his writing in 1921 that the “entire state apparatus: with its police force, its courts, and its newspapers that manipulate public opinion according to the desires of the government and the capitalists” or his writing in 1925 that in order to

take the working class beyond the limits of existing bourgeois democracy…a conscious ‘ideological’ element is necessary. This entails an understanding of the conditions in which the class is fighting, of the social relations in which workers live, of the fundamental tendencies that operate within these social relationships, and of the development of society (driven by the irreconcilable antagonisms at its heart), etcetera.

Due to the format of the Prison Notebooks on the Marxists Internet Archive, for the rest of this section, I use the Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, which derives from the original text itself.

For Gramsci, two types of intellectuals are created by “every social group” (bourgeoisie or proletariat). The first is a group of intellectuals which have homogeneity and awareness of their function in the capitalist system. [2] At the same time, “capitalist entrepreneur[s]” create the “industrial technician, the specialist in political economy, the organisers of a new culture,” and have technical and directive capacity. This is because they serve as organizers of “masses of men,” “confidence” in their business, consumers in their product, and so on. Most, or an elite among these “capitalist entrepreneur[s]” have intellectual capacities, including the complex “organism of services,” up to the state, with the need to creative conditions “most favorable to their class” or choose specialized individuals to organize their relationships, whom include these intellectuals. Such intellectuals are “organic,” with every class, the  bourgeoisie or proletariat, creating alongside itself, elaborating in the course of its development. The other form of intellectuals is one which is “already in existence” and seemed to represent uninterrupted “historical continuity.” These intellectuals are in the ecclesiastics, who held a long-time monopoly on religious ideology, bonded to schools, education, morality, and other societal values, originally tied to the landed aristocracy, gaining their own privileges over time. These intellectuals are “traditional,” posing themselves an “autonomous and independent of the dominant social group,” whether the  bourgeoisie or the proletariat, but this idealism is not true in reality. As Gramsci puts it artfully, “all men are intellectuals, one could therefore say: but not all  men in society have the  function of intellectuals,” with “non-intellectuals” not existing in society, but a stratum of intellectuals being present, either “traditional” or “organic.” He adds that there are “historically specialised categories for the exercise of the intellectual function,” with assimilation and conquest of “traditional” intellectuals quicker and more efficacious the more the group (bourgeoisie and proletariat) elaborating on their own organic intellectuals. For both types of intellectuals, schools are the “instrument” through which they improve their functions, with complexity of their “intellectual measured” by the number of gradation of specialized schools, with the more extensive the “area” covered by education and varied levels of schooling, the more complex “is  the cultural world.” While, as Gramsci notes, there is a wide base provided for  selection of the “top intellectual qualifications,” it creates vast “crises of unemployment for the middle intellectual strata.” The elaboration of the intellectual strata in “concrete reality” does not come from something abstract but in accordance with “concrete traditional historical processes,” with distribution of different types of school over a territory, with varied aspirations within the intellectual strata determine or give form to “branches of intellectual specialization.” After giving an example of development of rural and urban bourgeoisie in Italy, Gramsci adds that

The relation between the intellectuals and the world of production is not as direct as it is with fundamental social groups but is, in varying degrees, “mediated” by the whole fabric of society and by the complex of superstructures, of which the intellectuals are, precisely, the “functionaries”.

It is here that Gramsci begins to outline his thoughts on hegemony. He first notes that the “organic quality” of varied  intellectual strata and their “degree of connection” with a “fundamental social group” (bourgeoisie and proletariat) and says that a gradation of their functions (and of the superstructures) can be determined. For the superstructure, Gramsci notes that there are two levels: one that can be called “civil society,” which includes institutions which are commonly seen as “private” and that of  “political society” or the “State.” These two levels, he writes, correspond to the exercise of hegemony by a dominant group (bourgeoisie or proletariat) over society and to “direct domination” or command exercised through the State. For the dominant group, intellectuals are their deputies, exercising the “subaltern functions of social hegemony and political government” comprising of “spontaneous” consent which is  given by the masses to the “general direction imposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group” with such consent historically caused by prestige and confidence which the “dominant group enjoys because of its position and function in the world of production.” Secondly, intellectuals exercise their functions through the “apparatus of state coercive power” which enforces discipline on groups which do not consent “actively or passively,” an apparatus which is constituted for the society in  “anticipation of moments of crisis of command and direction when spontaneous consent has failed.” Gramsci closes this chapter by saying his ideas expand the concept of intellectual but is the only way to recognize the reality, adding that the function of “organizing social hegemony and state domination”  gives rise a particular division of labor, with a “hierarchy of qualifications” with intellectual activity needing to be “distinguished in terms of its intrinsic characteristics” with those at the highest level being “creators of the various sciences, philosophy, art, etc.,” and the lowest being administrators and divulges of “pre-existing, traditional, accumulated intellectual wealth.” The chapter ends by saying that in the modern world the category of intellectuals has expanded, with functions justified by the “political necessities of the dominant fundamental group,” with mass formation standardizing individuals psychologically and in terms of “individual qualification.”

Comes from the Selections from the Prison Notebooks, quoted in this article.

In the next chapter, Gramsci expands on whom can be “traditional” intellectuals: they are rural, linked to the “social mass of country people and the town…petite bourgeoisie.” [3] On the other hand, the  urban intellectuals are those who have “grown up along with industry and are linked to its fortunes,” having no autonomous plans, with a job to “articulate the relationship between the entrepreneur and the intellectual mass,” executing production plans of the industrial general staff, which controls varying “stages of work,” while they are very standardized, identified with the “industrial general staff itself.” He adds that every “organic development”of the peasant masses is linked and  depends on movements “among intellectuals.” Specifically, organic intellectuals who come from the “instrumental masses” can influence factory technicians. Gramsci further delineates between “organic” and “traditional” intellectuals. He writes that the political party, for some groups (specifically the proletariat) is a specific way of creating their own organic intellectuals, who directly join the political and philosophical field, while the political party, for all groups, carries out the same function as the State  in political society, welding together intellectuals whom are “organic” (of the dominant group) and “traditional.” Latter political parties carry out this function by fulfilling its  basic function:  of elaborating its “component parts” which are those who have been born and developed as an economic group, turning them into “qualified political intellectuals…leaders and organisers of all activities and functions inherent in the organic development of society.” After explaining how a political party functions with intellectual elements, functioning specifically in relation to the different types of intellectuals, “organic” and “traditional,” the history of traditional intellectuals connected with “slavery in the classical world,”  giving specific examples for how this manifests itself in Italy, England, France, Germany, Russia, he moves onto the U$, specifically relevant for this article, writing that:

…in the case of the United States, [there is] the absence to a considerable degree of traditional intellectuals, and consequently a different equilibrium among intellectuals in general. There has been a massive development…of the whole range of modern superstructures. The necessity of equilibrium is determined…by the need to fuse together in a single national crucible with a unitary culture the different forms of culture imported by immigrants of differing national origins. The lack of vast sedimentation of traditional intellectuals…explains…the existence of only two major parties, which could…be reduced to one only…and…the enormous proliferation of religious sects.

After talking about the influence of “negro intellectuals” on the U$ and how the empire could use Blacks to advance imperial interests, he talks about other examples in Latin America, Japan, and China. It is there that the chapter ends.

Gramsci as cited in Davidson’s Antonio Gramsci: Towards an Intellectual Biography (London: Merlin Press, 1977), p. 77.

In his chapters on education, in which he writes that “every intellectual idea tends to create for itself cultural associations of its own,” specialized schools and bureaucracies, the elements of educational institutions, he does not touch on hegemony or the “intellectual strata.”[4] His chapter on Italian history isn’t much different. He does, however, in one section, specifically focus on intellectuals and hegemony, writing

the supremacy of a social group manifests itself…as “domination” and as “intellectual moral leadership.” A social group dominates antagonistic groups, which it tends to “liquidate”, or subjugate…a social group can…exercise “leadership” before winning governmental power…it subsequently becomes dominant when it exercises power, but even if it holds it firmly in its grasp, it must continue to “lead”  as well. [5]

He later adds that in the experience of many countries, if peasants move through impulses which are  “spontaneous,” the “intellectuals start to waver” and if a “group of intellectuals situates itself on a new basis of concrete pro-peasant policies,” it draws in more important “elements of the masses.” [6] Later on, he  briefly mentions intellectuals. One example is when he talks about the “intellectual stratum” in northern Italy, another is when he writes that to analyze the “socio-political function of intellectuals, it is necessary to recall and examine their psychological attitude toward the fundamental classes [bourgeoisie and proletariat].” [7] He later that a philosophy which “offers to its adherents an intellectual “dignity”” which differs from old ideologies, and an “educative principle” which interests a sect of intellectuals whom are homogeneous and most numerous, are the ways that “hegemony of a directive centre” asserts itself over intellectuals. When talking about a “homogeneous ruling class” in the Italian Piedmont, Gramsci wrote that this ruling class wanted their “interests to dominate…they wanted a new force, independent of every compromise and condition, to become the arbiter of the Nation.” [8] After summarizing principles from Marx’s Preface to The Critique of Political Economy, he criticized the idea of “passive revolution,” specifically citing “Gandhism and Tolstoyism,” endeavoring to discover its roots in Italian history. In writing a further part of his history of Italy, Gramsci notes that

Although it is certain that for the fundamental productive classes (the capitalist bourgeoisie and modern proletariat) the State is only conceivable as the  concrete form of a specific economic world, this does not mean that the relationship of  means to end can be easily determined or takes the form of a simple schema, apparent at first sight. It is true that conquest of power and achievement of a new productive world are  inseparable, and that propaganda for the other, and that in reality it is solely in this coincidence that the unity of the dominant class–at one political and economic–resides. [9]

He adds on the next page that “intellectuals are the social element from which the governing personnel are drawn.” Later on, in the same book, he adds that the while there can be a distinction between an intellectual strata separated from the masses and intellectuals linked “organically to a national-popular mass” in reality one needs to struggle against deceptions, stimulating the formation of “homogeneous, social blocs” which  birth their own intellectuals, commandos, and vanguard. [10] He also briefly mentions reinforcement of the hegemonic positions of a dominant group, but focuses on the hegemony of the State. In another chapter, he writes about a class “that is international in character” (either the bourgeoisie or proletariat) which guides “social strata which are narrowly national…frequently less than national,” referring to intellectuals specifically. [11] In a section about state power, Gramsci makes, what I believe, is his only use of the term “cultural hegemony” in the Prison Notebooks and likely in the rest of his writings. He writes that

…every State is ethical in as much as one of its most important functions is to raise the great mass of population to a particular cultural and moral level, a level…which corresponds to the needs of the productive forces for development [the bourgeoisie], and hence to the interests of the ruling classes.The school as a positive educative function, and the courts as repressive and negative educative function, are the most important State activities in this sense: but, in reality, a multitude of other so-called private  initiatives and activities tend to the same end–initiatives and activities which form the apparatus of the political and cultural hegemony of the ruling classes…only the social group that poses the end of the State and its own end as the target to be achieved can create an ethical state–i.e. one which tends to to put an end to the internal divisions of the ruled, etc., and to create a technically  and morally unitary social organism. [12]

Adding to this, he writes that if states cannot avoid going through a stage of “economic-corporate privimatism,” then the “content of political hegemony of the new social group” will be “predominantly of an economic order,” with reorganization of the existing structure, and a negative cultural policy. Beyond this are his comments that in a society one or more private associations (which are either natural, contractual or voluntary) one or more predominates, constituting a “hegemonic apparatus of one social group over the rest of the population,” with the basis for the State in “the narrow sense of governmental-coercive apparatus.” [13] Gramsci’s next mention of hegemony is related to political parties. He  writes that

The function of hegemony or political leadership exercised by [political] parties can be estimated from the evolution of the internal life of the [political] parties themselves. If the State represents the coercive and punitive force of juridical regulation of a country, the [political] parties–representing the spontaneous adhesion of an elite to such a regulation, considered as a type of collective society to which the entire mass must be educated–must show in their internal life that they have assimilated as principles or moral conduct those rules which in the State are legal obligations. [14]

In his next book, Gramsci writes about the expanding circle of intellectuals. He notes that the intellectual stratum expands, with every leap forward tied to a movement of the masses who raise their level of culture, extending their influence among the stratum, but there are continually gaps “between the mass and the intellectuals.” [15] Later, he specifically focuses on European culture. He writes that it is the “only historically and concretely universal culture…European culture has undergone a process of unification,” with the cultural process personified in intellectuals. [16] On the next page, he specifically, once again, addresses intellectuals in society:

…The intellectual’s error consists in believing that one can know without understanding and even more without feeling and being impassioned…the intellectual can be an intellectual…if distinct and separate from the people-nation…without feeling the elementary passions of the people, understanding them and therefore explaining and justifying them in the particular historical situation and connecting them dialectically to the laws of history and to a superior conception of the world…one cannot make politics-history without this passion, without this sentimental connection between intellectuals and people-nation…if the relationship between the intellectuals and people-nation, between the leaders and led,the rulers and ruled, is provided by an organic cohesion in which the feeling-passion becomes understanding and thence knowledge (not mechanically but in a way that is alive) then and only then is the relationship one of representation.

On a related  note, he writes that the “great systems of traditional philosophy and the religion of the the leaders of the clergy,” which conceives the world as one of intellectuals and high culture, systems “unknown to the multitude” and do not influence them directly, but do so indirectly, with these systems influencing the masses as an “external political force, an element of cohesive force exercised by the ruling classes and…an element of subordination to an external hegemony.” [17] Such efforts negatively influence the masses, limiting their thought, limiting their common sense.

Reading through this book, it is clear that scholars have interpreted Gramsci well to say that the state serves as an “instrument of domination that represents the interests of capital and of the ruling class,” with  domination “achieved in large part by a dominant ideology expressed through social institutions that socialize people to consent to the rule of the dominant group,”while  hegemonic beliefs, “dominant beliefs” fundamentally dampen critical thought, and are thus barriers to revolution.” [18] They point out that he viewed the educational institution as “one of the fundamental elements of cultural hegemony in modern Western society,” with hegemony being a form of control exercised by a dominant class, either the bourgeoisie or proletariat, a class which takes into interest those classes and groups over which it dominates, while it has to “make some sacrifices tangent to its corporate interests,” and maintain its “economic leadership besides ethico-political leadership” with the class “situated at one of the two fundamental poles in the relations of production: owner or non-owner of the means of production.” This entails, these scholars argue, that this class executes a “leadership role on the economic, political, moral, and intellectual levels vis-a-vis other classes in the system, coupled with the sacrificing of some of its corporate interests as a fundamental class precisely to facilitate its vanguard role.” Furthermore, they note that Gramsci is arguing that the dominant class, with its hegemony, “exercises a political, intellectual, and moral role of leadership within a hegemonic system cemented by a common world-view…won in civil society through dynamic ideological struggle.” With this, the concept of “cultural hegemony” is derived: that the “beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values and moral norms of a ruling class…is accepted as the cultural norm” or dominant, with those who own the with capital assets in society, “TV stations, film studios, newspapers” releasing their media product into society, intending to “reinforce the status quo and keep these asset holders in control.” Others defined this concept as centered around the “domination of a society by a group whose domination comes through control of culture…and the implicit ideology contained within that culture” with the worldview of the dominant group becoming the “worldview of the majority; who see its values as natural and universal values which are good for all.” [19] Regardless, it is clear that the concept of “cultural hegemony” is one that is derived from Gramsci, just like the concept of “labor aristocracy is derived from the writings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. That doesn’t mean either of these ideas is incorrect or improper, but rather that their origins should be recognized.

It is with this, we move onto the next section of this article, which uses Gramsci’s theories, applying them to a recent debate over Apu and The Simpsons, which directly connects with the overall tyranny of Hollyweird.

Gramsci, Springfieldian stereotypes, and Hollyweird

This is followed by Marge saying “some things will be dealt with at a later date?” and followed by Lisa saying, sorrowfully, “if at all.” This sets the stage for the following post.  The phrasing “don’t have a cow!” on Apu’s signed photograph has said to be a “direct mockery of Hinduism” by some critics.

The concepts posed by Gramsci directly apply to the Zombie Simpsons, a term which I’ll explain later, and Hollyweird as a whole.

Determining who the organic intellectuals are is of utmost importance. Starting with The Simpsons, it seems evident that those at the three White Male producers: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening (creator of the show itself), and Sam Simon, would have fulfill this function, as they have homogeneity and awareness of their function in the capitalist system. In order to make sure that conditions which benefit the dominant class are created, capitalists, the “capitalist entrepreneurs” as Gramsci calls them, choose specialized individuals to organize relationships which benefited their class, in this case which are the organic intellectuals. [20] The organic intellectuals can also, by extension, have specialize certain individuals who can serve their interests. This includes, for one,  the show’ss main cast members, three of whom who were White males (Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria, and Henry Shearer) and three of whom were White females (Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Yeardley Smith). Secondly, this includes the 127 individuals who have written or co-written Simpsons episodes since the show was released in 1989, along with other individuals like the composers and animators, to name a few.

These producers, organic intellectuals if you will, are dominated by those whom were higher up. Their domination comes from the executives heading 21st Century Fox (which owns FOX), with the world of production mediated through the whole fabric of society by The Simpsons itself, for their sake, creating a “degree of connection” between the organic intellectuals and the bourgeoisie. In case, the section of the bourgeoisie constitutes the executives of 21st Century Fox (and formerly News Corp), symbolized by Rupert Murdoch, who still has a leading role. Such bourgeoisie used the burgeoning news network, FOX, to exercise their hegemony over society, with intellectuals as their deputies, enforcing such hegemony, working to obtain the “spontaneous” consent given by the masses to the “general direction imposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group.” Of course, the organization of such hegemony creates a particular division of labor, with a “hierarchy of qualifications” over intellectual activity, even in the structure of The Simpsons where the producers are those whom you could call organic intellectuals. As Gramsci notes, those with the highest amount of intellectual activities are “creators of the various sciences, philosophy, art, etc.,” being the show’s producers in this case, and the lowest could  be said to be the writers or animators but this may not be going far enough down the totem pole. Furthermore, the organic intellectuals of the Simpsons clearly do not come from the “instrumental masses” (or serve the peasants) and, as such, serve the bourgeoisie, part of an effort which continues to “fuse together in a single national crucible with a unitary culture the different forms of culture imported by immigrants of differing national origins,” to use Gramsci’s words. In such a relationship, the bourgeoisie dominates, specifically “antagonistic groups” which it subjugates and “liquidates.” Is The Simpsons such an antagonistic group? Perhaps to a very limited extent, but it also got FOX even more popularity, so the criticism on the show was approved as it brought in needed revenue. [21]

There is a further aspect to these organic intellectuals. As they serve a sociopolitical function, they are taken in by a philosophy, which in the case of the U$ either “conservative” or “liberal” in nature (mostly in The Simpsons, the liberal one won out), giving its adherents intellectual “dignity,” differing from old ideologies, a interesting a sect of intellectuals whom are homogeneous and most numerous. This is not a surprise, as organic intellectuals, are the element from which governing personnel are drawn. All in all, there are varied “initiatives and activities which form the apparatus of the political and cultural hegemony of the ruling classes” with one of these activities undoubtedly being the hosting of TV shows, in the case of media conglomerates, which reinforce such hegemony, ensuring their dominant beliefs take hold on a wide basis in order to keep themselves in control. Obviously, there are gaps “between the mass and the intellectuals” since the intellectual themselves “can be an intellectual…if distinct and separate from the people-nation…without feeling the elementary passions of the people.”

That brings us to the most recent controversy involving the Simpsons and what we can call Springfieldian stereotypes: the case of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, a stereotype of a first-generation Indian immigrant who owns a local convenience store in the town of Springfield. Hari Kondabolu, a comedian of Indian descent, released a documentary on this subject last year, titled “The Problem With Apu.” [22] In the film, Kondabolu grapples with his “lifelong love of The Simpsons,” examining how Apu “gave his bullies ammo for years, while contributing to a broader cultural stereotyping,” exploring a “larger deficit in American pop culture,” specifically one that “there have hardly ever been any South Asian characters on television.” His interviewees, the actors and comics, mostly of Indian descent (i.e. their parents were born in India), echo this sentiment, saying this “problem with Apu” came about due to under-representation of South Asians on television in the U$, some of whom say either kids bullied them by calling them “Apu” or doing the same for their parents. [23] Some, like Indian-born actor Kal Penn,  well known for his acting in the Harold & Kumar stoner comedies, says that they hate Apu so much that he won’t even watch the Simpsons series! Others, like actor Utkarsh Ambudkar let the Simpsons producers, organic bourgeoisie, off the hook, by declaring that their subordinates, writers, didn’t mean to cause psychological and emotional problems, but that Apu was created due to  under-representation of South Asians.

There is more than just under-representation, which many interviewees blame as the problem. [24] As Kondabolu argues himself, Apu represents an “America” where no one who is White isn’t wanted and reflecting how “America viewed” South Asians, which creates a bad impression across society. Add to this W. Kamau Bell‘s comments, that  America went through a time when the Simpsons “owned America,” determined conversation, with Kondabolu adding that the show was “edgy at the time.” The systemic nature is partially acknowledged: the film recalls Azaria’s story that the the producers told him to do a stereotypical voice of an Indian, but then there is the story of a writer of The Simpsons, Mike Reiss. He said that Apu was not intended to be a character, saying that making him Indian was a comedy cliche, adding that White writers laughed at his impression. [25] Regardless, the character was OK’d by the producers, like Matt Groening, the organic intellectuals, showing their role in this process, named by Groening himself. Apu’s last name either derives from the sanskrit word for bullshit (as Kondabolu claims) or is “spoonerism” while the first name is based of the protagonist in the Satyajit Ray trilogy of movies. As critic John Powers describes Ray’s trilogy, it tells the story of a young man (Apu) who becomes a multi-dimensional human being in a modernizing India, and  having Apu of the Simpsons named after him, diminishes the latter. Kondabolu’s most powerful point is that Apu stood in for his parents, participating in cultural erasure by eliminating their stories, while the the claim by Whoopi Goldberg, that Apu is a minstrel voiced by a white guy with brown paint, and Kondabolu’s related claim that Apu is the same as Black racist depictions, may be muddying the waters too much. However, it does seem evident that Azaria based the voice of Apu off Peter Sellers in The Party, an offensive interpretation, and an exchange with an irate Indian convenience store clerk, with the documentary saying that a White person doing a stereotype, such as Apu, is usurping culture and is exploitative. [26] Clearly this is fine with White writers like Dana Gould, who wrote for The Simpsons from 2001 to 2008, saying that  some accents are funny to Whites,giving them culpability, admitting that if The Simpsons was done today, “I’m not sure you could have Apu voiced by Hank [Azaria]” while he claims that for writers of the Simpsons, there is no difference between Apu and Mr. Burns. Once again, there are hints are deeper causes: Indian-born comic Aasif Mandvi says that racism in our culture can become so deep rooted that those who are being made fun of think that a racist joke is funny and that making Apu a horrid stereotype was part of broader cultural values. [27] Clearly, Homer was wrong when he said in the 2nd episode of Season 3 that “cartoons don’t have any deep meaning.”

The implications of the most recent Simpsons episode are evident, connecting the imposition of hegemony by the dominant class, in this case the bourgeoisie. The episode, the 633rd of the show, titled “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,” doubled down on the Apu stereotype, “long the sole prominent Indian character on television” even though he was clearly a “racial caricature played by a white man.” [28] In the episode, Marge is creating a book to be more inclusive and feels lost, with Lisa responding Marge’s question by saying that Apu was applauded and inoffensive decades ago, now is deemed “politically incorrect” (a sentiment embraced by show writer Al Jean) adding that “some things will be dealt with at a later date?” and Lisa saying, sorrowfully, “if at all.” This implies that those who criticism the racist caricature deemed “politically incorrect” (with the phrase “politically correct” used by bigots use to give themselves the license to say what they want) and could mean that a future episode will address this more. Not surprisingly, reactionary commentators received the episode well, with Hot Air claiming that the episode “is an apology of sorts, just not the forthright one Kondabolu and his supporters wanted,” that The Simpsons “occupies a more exalted place in American pop culture.” and that “an apology is coming here…but in the plot of some future episode” while Red State said that “the Simpsons are not all that friendly to the right-leaning parts of America…[but has done] something that South Park has already done…draw a line in the sand and declared in one quick segment that…wailing and gnashing of teeth can only have so much of an effect…I’m proud of the folks at The Simpsons,” as part of the “culture war against political correctness.” [29] Perhaps, as some said, the show has “utterly given up on itself…The Simpsons has lost its way…The Simpsons, a show that has been absolutely dreadful since the early 2000s, simply could not be improved upon” with Lisa, the most progressive character of the way, with bourgeois values, but much more left-leaning than any other characters, speaking these lines about Apu, with “years of churning out unfunny episode after unfunny episode seems to have left the writers’ room stubborn and stuck,” with this episode specifically having a  “wandering and weak plot spine.” [30] Others recognized the broader implications, saying that “The Simpsons is, as I stated earlier, an institution…a show that has been permitted to exist for decades following the widely-accepted consensus opinion that its best years are behind it,” with the list of the show’s “extremely white, extremely male list of writers stretch[es] back twenty-nine years.”

The Stereotypes bowling team, The Simpsons.

As  such, it should be perfectly evident that the Springfieldian stereotypes are more than just about under-representation, only a symptom of the capitalist system. Rather, they are one of the manifestations of the hegemony of the bourgeoisie, in this case, enforced on the public, which provides their “consent” by passively watching shows such as The Simpsons, accepting the values. [31] This doesn’t take away from the social criticism aired on the show, especially in its earlier years, but it shows the role of the show in the capitalist system, specifically in relation to Gramsci’s theories. The fact that Apu is a stereotype, different from other stereotypes on the show, somehow “worse,” is a point that can  be easily swatted away, as it was by the conservatives at Red State who recently declared that “the show is filled to the brim with stereotypes of all kinds of cultures and sub-cultures, but these were conveniently ignored by those suddenly outraged by Apu after decades of the show being on the air.” [32] This involves making the criticism more wholesome. It is obviously valid to criticize the racist caricature of Apu, since, as one critic notes, “not all demographics are on equal footing in America…The Simpsons is classic Americana…But it does no one any favours to pump life into it long after brain death.” A symptom of the bourgeoisie’s hegemony, exercised by the organic intellectuals of The Simpsons, are the further stereotypes, apart from Apu. One of these is Fat Tony, with the voice over by Joe Mantegna, a negative Italian stereotype manifested as a “violent mobster”whom the show’s writers “never fail to stress the Italian ancestry” and his  “assorted henchmen,” with Fat Tony and his henchmen obviously based on the depiction of mobsters in the three-part Godfather epic, the brainchild of Francis Ford Coppolla. [33]

But, Fat Tony isn’t the only stereotype. Others include Marge the housewife (although there’s a lot to her character), Akira, the Japanese sushi chef, Ling, adopted Chinese child of chainsmokers Patty (a lesbian) and her sister Selma, Bumbleebee Man, Mexican actor/TV personality, Ccoseted and then out gay man Smithers, “redneck” Appalachian Cletus Spuckler and his family, including his wife, Brandine, and their children, Italian chef Luigi, and angry Scotsman Groundskeeper Willie. [34] Of these, four are directly recognized as stereotypes, in the Season 7 episode (pictured above), “Team Homer”: Italian chef Luigi, Angry Scotsman Groundskeeper Willie, “redneck” Appalachian Cletus Spuckler, and sea captain Horatio McCallister. Tellingly, “they were apparently dying to have Apu on their team, but he declined.” Apu is recognized as a stereotype in the show, but not until Season 27 when it is brushed off with the idea that everyone is a stereotype and that people should get over it.

Apart from the stereotypes, there is another symptom, showing how the organic intellectuals enforce the hegemony of the bourgeoisie on society: only one of the Indian  characters portrayed on the show is voiced by a person of Indian descent while the rest are voiced by White people! [35]. Clearly, the show is spreading the perceptions of the White organic intellectuals and their writers onto the populace as a whole. The same is the case for the Black characters in The Simpsons, with the below chart showing that only about 30-35% of the voice actors are Black, with all the others being White! [36]

While noting such stereotypes, it is clear that the problem is deeper than one of just under-representation or even racism: it is about the organic intellectuals of The Simpsons, to use Gramsci’s definition, enforcing the hegemony of the bourgeoisie, making it even  more the dominant ideology. This is further cemented by the patriarchal nature of the show: Homer speaks the most of any character (he has been “always been the most talkative character on the show”), accounting for “21% of the show’s 1.3 million words spoken through season 26,” while “Marge, Bart, and Lisa…combine for another 26%, giving the Simpson family a 47% share of the show’s dialogue” as Todd W. Schneider in “The Simpsons By the Data” points out. [37] He also writes that looking at the “supporting cast, the 14 most prominent characters are all male before we get to the first woman, Mrs. [Edna] Krabappel, and only 5 of the top 50 supporting cast members are women,” with women only accounting for “25% of the dialogue on The Simpsons, including Marge and Lisa, two of the show’s main characters” but if the Simpsons family is removed, then women only account for “less than 10% of the supporting cast’s dialogue.” He adds that “9 of the top 10 writers are male,” reinforced by the fact that The Simpsons is “stocked by Harvard Lampoon alumni and overwhelmingly white and male, [and] is one of the toughest clubs for a comedy writer to break into.” [38]

Some critics say that the show has become effortless, not “tried in years” and “has been on for such a long damn time, well past long enough to lose its own sense of identity.” Taking this into account, it is clear that The Simpsons is becoming less and less able to serve as a medium to spread the hegemony of the bourgeoisie, making their views more and more the “dominant” ideology. In the early 1990s, when it “dominated the pop-culture landscape…[with a] skillful and fearless tendency to jam its thumb in the eye of the American Establishment, by highlighting white male laziness…the crass privileged class… and a whole host of other marks of ignorance,” it was much more effective. But now, it has lost that allure, as it  has become, as one critic write, “the Establishment…becom[ing] lazy and complacent, while also feeling fiercely defensive of one’s legacy,” with the show “still living in the happy past and clinging to its Kwik-E-Mart, not listening while others shout about being in denial.” [39] That doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t spread such hegemony, but that it isn’t as effective as it used to be. This a common trend with many television shows, with “TV ratings for individual shows…broadly declining for over 60 years,” even among shows like Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy or Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Parks, both of which are also animated sitcoms.

This decline in rating has happened as the show has become even more a part and parcel of capitalist mass culture in the U$. This is because the show has changed over time from the “Golden” years (1989-1997), “Silver” years (1997-2001), “Bronze” years (2001-Present) for the worse. As such, The Simpsons has become the “Zombie Simpsons,” without a pulse, with the show becoming “inanimate, barren, cold, listless, mechanical, and weird…hollow and run out of ideas, what you could call stale…There is no reason to watch something which is dead and has no pulse.” [40] Even during the period of the “Golden” years, however, when there were social criticisms, the show only expressed broad liberal values, embracing anti-communism, and throughout the show’s history. As such, it enforced the dominant ideology of the bourgeoisie.

The organic intellectuals of The Simpsons, which in this case are the producers of the show, will continue to release episodes, vapid while “entertaining,” not drawing as much of a crowd as they once did, but still serving the bourgeoisie even though they are doing doing that as effectively as they did in the past. In the end, one can watch The Simpsons, if they wish, but they should recognize its role in the overall capitalist system, while working to build a another world which is free of capitalism, standing with comrades across the world, building their own revolutionary institutions, as a start.


Notes

[1] David Anthony, “Last night’s Simpsons episode set an all-time ratings low,” A.V. Club,  Apr 28, 2014; Todd W. Schneider, “The Simpsons by the Data,” accessed Apr 10, 2018; “Number of viewers for The Simpsons,” InfoMemory.com, Oct 15, 2013; “Simpsons: Quality and Viewership Decline Trend,” Absent Data, Jun 9, 2017; Joe Otterson, “TV Ratings: ‘Simpsons’ Rises With ‘Treehouse of Horror’,” Variety, Oct 23, 2017; “The Simpsons: Season 27 Ratings,” TV Series Finale, May 23, 2016; “Number of The Simpsons viewers in the United States as of 2017, by season (in millions),” statista, accessed Apr 10, 2018; “US ratings: ‘Simpsons’ returns steady, but with lowest premiere viewership,” The Springfield Shopper, Oct 3, 2017; Niall McCarthy, “30 Years On, ‘The Simpsons’ Isn’t Aging Well [Infographic],” Forbes, Apr 20, 2017.

[2] All information from this footnote onword, unless otherwise noted, derives from Antonio Gramsci, “The Formation of Intellectuals,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 514.

[3] All information from this footnote onword, unless otherwise noted, derives from Antonio Gramsci, “The Different Position of Urban and Rural-Type Intellectuals,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 1425. Later on, on page 270 he adds that  traditional intellectuals are detaching themselves from regressive and conservative groupings.

[4] All information derives from Antonio Gramsci, “The Organisation of Education and Culture” (ends on page 33) and “In Search of the Educational Principle” (ends on page 43) Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 2643.

[5] Antonio Gramsci, “The Problem of Political Leadership in the Formation and  Development of the Nation and Modern State in Italy” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 57-58.

[6] Antonio Gramsci, “The Problem of Political Leadership in the Formation and  Development of the Nation and Modern State in Italy,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), p 74.

[7] Antonio Gramsci, “The City-Countryside Relationship During the Risorgimento and in the National Structure,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 94, 97; Antonio Gramsci, “The Moderates and the Intellectuals,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 103-104.

[8] Antonio Gramsci, “The Function of Piedmont,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), p 105. See pages 106114 of the next section after “The Function of the Piedmont,” titled “The Concept of Passive Revolution.”  Also see the section on pages 118 to 120 titled “The History of Europe Seen As “Passive Revolution.””

[9] Antonio Gramsci, “Material for a Critical Essay on Croce’s Two Histories, Of Italy and Europe,” Book  I:  Problems of History and Culture, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 116117.

[10] Antonio Gramsci, “Voluntarism and Social Masses,” Book  II: Notes on Politics, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 204205, 239 (of “The Transition from the War of Manoevre (Frontal Attack) to The War of Position–In the Political Field As Well” section).

[11] Antonio Gramsci, “Politics and Military Science,” Book  II: Notes on Politics, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), p 241. Also see, for future discussion, pages 214217 on military influence within a country (also on pages 229238) and Bonapartism (also see page 228), or Caesarism on pages 219223. Some of the  other instances, not mentioned in the text above, are when Gramsci mentions hegemony in reference to power of the State (“Politics and Constitutional Law” section)  or conflicts between such power and the power of the Church “Hegemony and Separation of Powers” section).

[12] Antonio Gramsci, “The State,” Book  II: Notes on Politics, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 258259, 263.

[13] Antonio Gramsci, “Organization of National Societies,” Book  II: Notes on Politics, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 264265.

[14] Antonio Gramsci, “State and Parties,” Book  II: Notes on Politics, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), p 267.

[15] Antonio Gramsci, “Some Preliminary Notes of Reference,” Book  III: The Philosophy of Praxis, Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers,11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 334-335. Later he writes, on page 349, that “culture..unifies in a series of strata.”

[16] Antonio Gramsci,”Hegemony of Western Culture over the whole World Culture,” Some Problems in the Study of Philosophy of Praxis, Book  III: The Philosophy of Praxis , Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers, 11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 416-417, 418 (the section “Passage from Knowing to Understanding and to Feeling and vice versa from Feeling to Understanding and to Knowing”).

[17]  Antonio Gramsci,”Critical Notes on An Attempt At Popular Sociology,” Book  III: The Philosophy of Praxis , Selections From The Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci (ed. by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith, New York: International Publishers, 11th printing, 1992, originally published in 1971), pp 419420. Also see page 433 on “mass ideology” spewed from the intellectuals, on page 442 about distance between different groups of intellectuals.

[18] Nicka Lisa Cole, “Biography of Antonio Gramsci,” Thought.Co, Apr 12, 2017; Caroline Lee Schwenz, “Hegemony in Gramsci,” Postcolonial Studies @ Emory, accessed Apr 11, 2018; Gene Veith, ““The long march through the institutions”,” Patheos, Apr 18, 2013; Carl Davidson,”Strategy, Hegemony & The ‘Long March’: Gramsci’s Lessons For The Antiwar Movement,” Keep on Keepin’ On, Apr 6, 2006; Kerry Manderbach, “Hegemony, Cultural Hegemony, and The Americanization of Imported Media,” Apr 2012; Teo Ballvé, “Antonio Gramsci: On Hegemony,” May 4, 2011; Valeriano Ramos, Jr., “The Concepts of Ideology, Hegemony, and Organic Intellectuals in Gramsci’s Marxism,” Theoretical Review No. 27, March-April 1982; “Gramsci’s Notion of Cultural Hegemony,” Integral Axis, Oct 14, 2017.

[19] One writer adds that “any counter-hegemonic force will have to overcome the fact that the majority may well assert the values of the status quo as natural values that are good for everyone – even if it’s not in their own interest…Cultural hegemony should be achieved first. Then political power. The hegemony of the dominant group must be fought with a counter-hegemony – to displace their ideology with our own…What we want are a kind of ‘intellectual’ (what Gramsci labels as his organic kind) that concerns itself with actively influencing people and winning people over to the worldview. Leading the charge in the cultural war.” Another writer says that Gramsci divides the superstructure in society into political society (government, military, police, legal system) and civil society (where ideologic content is produced and reproduced…through…media, education system, religion, art, science, the family) with political society dominating “through coercion” and civil society dominating “through consent.”

[20] In this situation there would not be traditional intellectuals, or those whom held a long-time monopoly on religious ideology, bond to schools, education, morality, and other societal values, tied to the landed aristocracy originally, gaining its own privileges over time, with the dominant group aiming too assimilate and conquer the “traditional” intellectuals.

[21] John Ortved, author of The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History, as interviewed in Kondabalu’s documentary, says that FOX was desperate for content, Simpsons seems funny and weird, that Simpsons were huge, everywhere, international phenomenon.

[22] He recently  criticized the recent Simpsons episode discussed at the beginning of this article, saying they have reached “peak whiteness,” that the words from Lisa are “sad,” further adding that “The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress” and saying that “The Simpsons always critiqued pop culture, mocked hypocrisy & went after broken institutions. I LEARNED FROM THE BEST.”

[23] Sean O’Neal, “What can you do about Apu? The Simpsons used to know,” AV Club, Apr 9, 2018; Joshua Rivera, “Does The Simpsons Care About Its Racist Caricatures?,” GQ, Apr 9, 2018. Also see the personal narrative titled “What it’s like growing up with a dad like Apu.”  One of the other interviewees, Dr. Vivek Murphy, former Surgeon General, was bullied by a kid who spoke to him with an Indian accent.Kondabolu says that racist impression of Apu led him into comedy, tells his family story, history as a comedian, and that Apu “haunts him,” as he declared “war” on Apu in 2012 when on W. Kamau Bell‘s former show, Totally Biased, saying that Hank Azaria, a White Jewish man born in the Queens borough of New York City, who voices Apu, is a white guy doing an “impression of a white guy making fun of my father.” Even the now disgraced (because his pervy behavior) Aziz Ansari  is interviewed, noting that people insulted his father using the Apu accent, while actor Malulik Pancholy says that if there was an Indian person behind the counter he was afraid that his White friends would do the “Apu thing.”

[24] To take one example, Ambudkar says that while the Simpsons “stereotypes all races” (and peoples) including alcoholics, dead-beat dad, messed up kid, overachieving daughter, Italians, Chinese, and Japanese, the problem for South Asians specifically if that they didn’t have any other representation in such media. In another example, Ansari, who I noted before is basically a perv, asks why a show is called mainstream if it if full of white people.

[25] Kondabolu also interviews Mallika Pao of the Huffington Post, whom Azaria spoke to in 2015 about voicing Apu, saying he had not thought it was racist until he watched Kondabolu’s bit, and hadn’t thought about Apu from a South Asian perspective before that point. Later he interviews his parents, with his mothers saying that she is offended by it, while in a different way than Kondabolu’s generation, with both parents saying they don’t see themselves in Apu (or his family). Kondabolu then goes into more of his backstory in growing up in Queens, like Azaria, near 74th Street, noting that South Asians gather there, but says that if you grow up in U$ you’ll still be called Apu. This connects to his next two interviewees: Shilpa Dave, author of Indian Accents, says that many sequences involving Apu deal with immigration and race, but noted that when something was done in response to a universal norm, it was done in a stereotypical way, and Dr. Vivek Murphy, former Surgeon General, saying that stereotypes last for a while unless people tell their own story.  Later on, Kondabolu adds that there are few choices for the South Asian community, toy are either portrayed as one-dimensional or you let someone else do it, asking “is it better to be clowned or clown yourself?” After some Indian actors and actresses share their experiences, Kondabolu says that while Apu only said “thank you come again” eight times over the Simpsons history, the caricature has haunted Indian children for over a quarter century.

[26] It is here that Sakina Jaffrey defines patanking as being asked to speak in abroad Indian accent, with broad acting, and you do this in front of people. Another of his interviewees, Noureen DeWulf says that there is nothing wrong with an accent but that when an accent is part of a joke about a person, a racist dig, it is problematic.

[27] The documentary then focuses on an episode on Season 27 when Apu’s U$-born nephew, of Indian descent, is voiced by Ambudkar, whom says that the Simpsons asked him to do it, but says that in the end The Simpsons won, with the message to stop complaining, that everyone is stereotyped. Kondabolu  then reads an email from Azaria to him, saying that  the fact that Azaria chooses how he gets to be portrayed is ironic since this is all about misrepresentation of Indians. As the documentary closes, he says it shows that Indians can have exposure in media settings, that undeniable there has been progress  for South Asians over the last decade, that if the Simpsons can’t change then perhaps it should die, saying he will remember Seasons 1-10.

[28] Russell Contreras, “‘Simpsons’ reference to Apu criticism sparks backlash,” AP (reprinted in ABC News), Apr 9, 2018; Sean O’Neal, “What can you do about Apu? The Simpsons used to know,” AV Club, Apr 9, 2018; Joshua Rivera, “Does The Simpsons Care About Its Racist Caricatures?,” GQ, Apr 9, 2018. While Azaria said in January of this year that “the idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on ‘The Simpsons,’ the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing,” this belays the reality: that it has already happened.

[29] Shuja Hader, “Defending the Apu stereotype again? Maybe The Simpsons has run its course,” The Guardian, Apr 10, 2018; Allahpundit, “Today’s important controversy: “The Simpsons” thinks criticism of Apu is “politically correct”,” Hot Air, Apr 9, 2018; Brandon Morse, “The Simpsons Not Caving to SJW’s Politically Correct Pressure Is the Line in the Sand Society Needed,” Red State, Apr 4, 2018. The reactionaries have this fake idea of a “social justice warrior” or SJW, a concept which they created to demonize progressives. Their viewpoint was embraced by show writer Al Jean who said on twitter that “Respectfully Hank won an emmy for voicing the character in 1998. Only 20 years ago,” and that “no, I’m just saying Lisa’s statement was factual.”

[30] Shuja Hader, “Defending the Apu stereotype again? Maybe The Simpsons has run its course,” The Guardian, Apr 10, 2018; Carl Kinsella, “The latest Simpsons episode sums up how the show has completely lost its way,” Joe, Apr 9, 2018; Melenie McFarland, ““The Simpsons” just made its Apu problem worse — and proved its creative bankruptcy,” AlterNet (reprinted from Salon), Apr 9, 2018; Yohana Desta, “The Simpsons Still Doesn’t Understand the Problem with Apu,” Vanity Fair, Apr 9, 2018; Michael Cavna, “‘The Simpsons’ responds to criticism that Apu is a stereotype: ‘Don’t have a cow’,” Washington Post, Apr 9, 2018; Steph Harmon, “‘Don’t have a cow’: The Simpsons response to Apu racism row criticised as ‘toothless’,” The Guardian, Apr 9, 2018; Jen Cheney, “The Simpsons’ Apu Response Is What Happens When You’re on the Air for Too Long,” Vulture, Apr 9, 2018; Ryan Parker, “‘Simpsons’ Criticized for Response to Apu Controversy,” The Hollywood Reporter, Apr 9, 2018; Russell Contreras, “‘Simpsons’ reference to Apu criticism sparks backlash,” AP (reprinted in ABC News), Apr 9, 2018; Nicole Drum, “Fans Are Unhappy With How The Simpsons Handled Apu,” Comicbook, Apr 9, 2018; Johnny Lieu,  “People feel let down by ‘The Simpsons’ response to Apu stereotyping,” Mashable, Apr 9, 2018; Dan Snierson, “The Simpsons briefly addresses Apu controversy, causes more controversy,” Entertainment Weekly, Apr 9, 2018; Sean O’Neal, “What can you do about Apu? The Simpsons used to know,” AV Club, Apr 9, 2018; Joshua Rivera, “Does The Simpsons Care About Its Racist Caricatures?,” GQ, Apr 9, 2018; Linda Holmes, “‘The Simpsons’ To ‘The Problem With Apu’: Drop Dead,” NPR, Apr 9, 2018. Others have pointed out that “Apu wasn’t a contested character when the show began, but he is now” (so what), that the show missed the opportunity to acknowledge why “the depiction of Apu and his portrayal by a white man…have been offensive to many members of the South Asian community,” that the show should admit its mistakes, that the portrayal has always been “offensive, it’s just that the people hurt by it didn’t have a voice,” and  that “The Simpsons has not been relevant in years.”Some had deeper criticism, saying that “the suggestion that any change to Apu would rob The Simpsons of its essential spirit” is wrong, adding that the implication of the statement in the episode is “what matters most here is the show’s legacy,” adding that  “The Simpsons has generally earned the benefit of the doubt by being a sharp cultural satire in so many other respects” and that while the show has treated, in their mind, Apu well, becoming a “genuine, multidimensional character with a rich history and inner life.”

[31] In the capitalist system as a whole, “the dominant class” combats the “laboring class,” using facts that favor “the bourgeois class and damn…the working class and its politics,” to build off what Gramsci wrote, specifically talking about bourgeois newspapers. They also, as it is evident,  manipulate “public opinion according to the desires of the government and the capitalists.”

 

[32] Shuja Hader, “Defending the Apu stereotype again? Maybe The Simpsons has run its course,” The Guardian, Apr 10, 2018; Brandon Morse, “The Simpsons Not Caving to SJW’s Politically Correct Pressure Is the Line in the Sand Society Needed,” Red State, Apr 4, 2018.

[33] “Exhibit A: Examples of Media Bias,” Italic Institute of America, accessed Apr 10, 2018; “Shark Tale: The Complete Story,” Italic Institute of America, accessed Apr 10, 2018; “SHARK TALE – Overview, Argument, & Position Summary,” Italic Institute of America, accessed Apr 10, 2018. The Italic Way adds that the “equal opportunity offender” argument for defenders of the show is weakened “by the fact that the show’s writers take obvious pains to avoid heavy handed characterizations of all groups but Italian Americans.” However, the Italic Way seems to not focus enough on the “several African American characters that are featured…a decadent clown, is depicted Jewish…[and] a convenience store owner is depicted as Pakistani” (actually Indian, not Pakistani) claiming that all of these are “unaccompanied by dialogue or mannerisms which evoke the crudely negative…stereotypes as those heaped on Fat Tony and his gang, proving that the writers of the show are not nearly as bold and daring as they’d like us to believe,” saying the show does not get a pass of approval from them even though Tony and his mob are  limited to only certain episodes. This is a bit distorted as Apu is undeniably a racist stereotype, which is negative, but I see what they are saying. The Italic Institute of America added that the first film in the series, and by extension the two others, “criminalized the history of the Italian American immigrant experience and reaffirmed the belief that criminal behavior is an essential aspect of Italian culture,” creating a “billion-dollar spin-off industry which has spread to every conceivable media outlet in America,” further explained in this 6-page article.

[34] There are some funny ones, however (even with some ageism present for the older individuals), like: a businessman in the failing car industry, Herb Powell, Birch Barlow (parody of Rush Limbaugh),  Homer the drunk/dead-beat dad/working-class slob, Barney the drunk, Bart the bad boy; Dottering grandparents, Abraham “Abe” Simpson and Jacqueline Bouvier; 1960s radical, Mona; civil servant state comptroller Atkins who is of Canadian descent; Dottering Democrat Mary Bailey; Geeks/nerds Benjamin, Doug and Gary; Radio hosts Bill and Marty; Corporate lawyer, the Blue-haired lawyer, Booberella, student Wendell Borton (apparently of Mexican descent), local news anchor Kent Brockman, Marge and Homer’s baby, Maggie, Santa’s Little Helper (the dog), Snowball II the cat, Diabetic Dia-Betty, Blinky, male steward/flight attendant Clancy Bouvier, Sunday school teacher Ms. Albright, old man Jasper Beardly, capitalist Mr. Burns, Capital City Goofball, fat white nerd named Comic Book Guy, jailbird Snake, top scientist Professor Frink, Raphael, Superintendent Chalmers, unemployed father Kirk Van Houten, mentally ill cat owner Crazy Cat Lady, nuclear plant employee Charlie, Christian neighbor Ned Flanders, Sideshow Bob, quack doctor Dr. Nick, incompetent attorney Lionel Hutz, actor/salesperson Troy McClure, country singer Laureen Lumpkin, oil millionaire “The Rich Texan,” corrupt police chief Clancy Wiggum  (part Irish), bartender Moe Szyslak, and clueless police officer Eddie.

[35] Neither Apu’s wife, Manjula, Apu’s brother Sanjay (and his daughter), Apu’s mother, Apu’s cousin Navi, are voiced by those of Indian descent but only by White people. Only Jay, Apu’s nephew, is portrayed by a person of Indian descent, and he only has had two appearances in the show, one on which he voiced by a White person, while the children have no speaking parts.

[36] This isn’t a shock, as Hank Azaria voices 200 characters in all, over the show’s history, with other voice actors likely having comparable numbers! Also take the “Cleveland Show” which portended to be a “black” show: half of the main characters, who are all Black, are voiced by White individuals!

[37] As Schneider, if the Simpsons family is excluded from “the results become a bit less predictable, if not exactly surprising” with Mr. Burns speaking “the most words among supporting cast members, followed by Moe, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, and Krusty rounding out the top 5.” Apu, specifically, is listed as speaking 11-12,000 words, even more than Smithers! You could say the same dynamic is at work with Family Guy, which centers around the patriarch, Peter Griffin

[38] Melenie McFarland, ““The Simpsons” just made its Apu problem worse — and proved its creative bankruptcy,” AlterNet (reprinted from Salon), Apr 9, 2018; Carl Kinsella, “The latest Simpsons episode sums up how the show has completely lost its way,” Joe, Apr 9, 2018;  Jen Cheney, “The Simpsons’ Apu Response Is What Happens When You’re on the Air for Too Long,” Vulture, Apr 9, 2018.

[39] In the past, The Simpsons “gracefully and savagely deconstructed the foibles of white America, casting a withering gaze on subjects like gun ownership, right-wing broadcasters, the American school system, police incompetence and both Republicans and Democrats — all the while making charming, absurd and unexpected jokes.”

[40] I recently watched an episode, “Fears of a Clown,” with a storyline about Krusty  redeeming himself. It was emblematic of The Simpsons: it was entertaining but not funny. As Dennis Perkins of AV Club noted (Dennis Perkins, “Bart, Krusty, Marge, and Skinner unsuccessfully vie for our attention in a forgettable Simpsons,” AV Club, Apr 1, 2018), “…a handful of fine seasons can be cobbled together from episodes from the post-classic seasons, and the show is more harshly judged against itself than against any baseline of acceptable sitcom quality…sometimes The Simpsons rolls out an episode that’s so pale an approximation of its best that sticking up for it becomes an exercise in hand-waving and deep, deep sighs…[this episode] is…irrelevant in its hollow echoes of past, actually memorable, episodes. When the book on The Simpsons is finally closed…and the inevitable all-time episode rankings are compiled, “Fears Of A Clown” is one of those installments destined to elicit blank stares, even from die-hard fans. It barely exists…Plotting discipline remains one of latter-day Simpsons’ most dispiriting weaknesses, with the least memorable episodes heaping unrealized A- through C-stories atop each other as if hoping quantity will distract from how little of substance in happening.”

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“A calamitous defeat”: Is “Kurdistan” a nation at all?

A map reprinted from an alternative website, which links to an article in Global Research saying that Washington sponsored the idea of a “Great Kurdistan.”

Note:  This article was written in late October, so it is a bit dated. This article is the fourth of a four-part series, which never got published on Dissident Voice.

The previous article [link here] focused how Western imperialists have granted support to “Kurdistan” over the years. This article poses the question: is “Kurdistan” is a nation at all? This differs from previous analyses of the “Kurdish national question,” but I pursued my own course of analysis in writing this article and others in this series.

As was argued on /r/communism by one user, “from a Marxist-Leninist perspective they are not a nation, they are an ethnicity. To speak of “self determination” for them can only mean “ethnic self determination”, which is a Nazi belief, not a Marxist one.” This in line with users on the same forum agreeing that Kurds are co-operating with U$ imperialism while, at other times, there seemed to be disagreement on the subject.

It is not worth considering whether the referendum was “constitutional” or not, with the former argued by the KRG. Instead, let us consider the views of PRI’s interviewees on the referendum. Most, as is typical of bourgeois media, voiced support, speaking of the “will” for independence, saying that the Kurds “deserve” independence, that people should fight for “our rights,” and hoped for a stronger government. However, one interviewee said that “they [the KRG] pretend democracy, but they are more like dictators.” This in line with the idea that Kurdistan as Qatar’s Al Jazeera declared, that “Kurdistan” is basically a “kind of dream…buoyed by memories of a glorious past” with one person evening saying that “if countries in the region became more democratic and more welcoming of their Kurdish populations, the cries for an independent Kurdistan would quiet down” and the realization that “the country many dream of may not end up as the hoped-for Kurdish utopia.” This is a concern since the Kurds are described as “the largest ethnic group [in that region] without self-determination” and Westerners are coaxed into helping built “stable, democratic institutions,” for the Kurds. [1]

Let us consider that the Barzani family “governs the Iraqi Kurdistan with an iron fist” and is “historically connected to Israel.” Additionally, let us consider the words of the Qatari-backed and pro-terrorist outlet Middle East Eye, only because they even admit that “Kurdistan” in Northern Iraq is a complete and utter mess:

“…following several years of financial crisis and economic mismanagement, Erbil has racked up $30bn of debt, and the meagre salaries of public sector workers are routinely paid late. But the crunch has not been felt by all – cronyism is rife in the fiefdom, and the Barzani family have used their monopoly on power to amass a fortune while ruling over the ..KRG…Following several years of financial crisis and economic mismanagement, Erbil has racked up $30bn of debt, and the meagre salaries of public sector workers are routinely paid late…cronyism is rife in the fiefdom, and the Barzani family have used their monopoly on power to amass a fortune while ruling over the..KRG…That the upcoming referendum is more about President Barzani and the KRG’s elites ensuring their hold on power undermines the aspirations of some of the world’s most discriminated against people”

The same is the case for the neo-con magazine, Commentary, which says that “…the region was never democratic—the freest and fairest election it had was in 1992—and then the leaders simply massaged the process in order to maintain their hold.” They added that Barzani is “officially limited to two terms by the constitution, but got around the problem by extending his second term extra-legally” meaning that the region is “a dictatorship…[since] two ruling families dominate politics and society…Masud Barzani is a dictator.” Beyond this, there are also reports that “Barzani family members alone took 600 billion dollars from the Kurdish people’s oil income and…[the] Talabani side shared 50 % of that oil money, too, which means they made 600 billion dollars to be divided among Talabani sides.” Then there is the words of the alternative site, Moon of Alabama, which sometimes goes off the rails (but not this time), arguing that the recent referendum was more “to do with the beleaguered situation of the illegitimate regional president Barzani than with a genuine opportunity to achieve independence.” They added that “Arabs, Turks, and Persians see the Kurds as a recalcitrant nomadic mountain tribe and stooge of Israeli interests” and that basically “Kurdish independence…would be the start of another decade of war – either between the Kurdish entities and the nations around them, or within the ever disunited Kurdish tribes themselves.” Finally there are the words of Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Iranian Parliament’s General Director for International Affairs, who said that “Barzani’s call for independence means further strengthening of ISIL and Tel Aviv, a new anarchy in the region and instability.” This is fundamentally the case.

Still, these realities or the data collected by the Rand Corp, an appendage of the imperial war machine, do not answer the question on whether “Kurdistan” is a nation or not. Sarah Abed, in a series of articles in Mint Press News seems to raise doubts as to whether the Kurds are a nation. In her first article on the subject, she writes that

“Kurdistan—Land of the Kurds—exists only in two spheres. One is on maps sold in bazaars wherever the Kurdish language is spoken. The other is on yellow-red-and-green flags Kurds sometimes wave in the countries where they actually reside (according to maps sold everywhere else in the world).Yet in one of those countries, the Kurds have built themselves a state in all but name”

In the second, she argues that Kurds are even more devious, not even having their own culture, stealing it from others, with the same being the case with their land, with “much if not all of the land in Eastern Turkey that the Kurds claim as their own once belonged to the Armenians.” She goes on to say that Kurds assisted in the 1915 genocide of Armenians and of Assyrians, along with dwelling in cities which were only recently established as theirs “as a means of drawing their eyes away from the oil-rich lands in and around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.” As a result, large migrations of Kurds into the area often displaced “Assyrians who had far greater legal and historical claims to these lands.” Add to this, she argues, that Kurdistan will be defined by where “Kurds happen to dwell at any given point” and were easily used as a “pawn of U.S. interests” while Kurds began, in July 2014, “systematic disarmament of Assyrians and several other ethnic groups so that it could use their weapons in its own struggle” which left these groups at the mercy of Daesh. She argues that this is a “deliberate ploy by the Kurdish leadership to allow foreign forces to violently cleanse these areas of all non-Kurdish residents and then…retake and “liberate their lands.” She later argues that

“…the Kurds would have a vested interest in claiming Arab, Assyrian or Armenian history as their own…they often resort to destroying any relevant history altogether…Kurds claim that their “Kurdistan” is “multicultural and multireligious,” which is disingenuous when you consider that those additional cultures consist of people now dwelling amongst a Kurdish majority in lands the Kurds took by force. These people will be faced with the prospect of casting meaningless votes on Kurdish independence since, even if they all voted “no,” they would nonetheless be outvoted by the Kurdish “yes” majority…Kurdish history in the 20th century is marked by a rising sense of Kurdish nationhood focused on the goal of establishing an independent Kurdistan in accordance with the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920…The state of Kurdistan has simply never existed…The Kurds have a centuries-long history of persecuting minority groups, having committed genocide against them with alarming frequency…It is important to reiterate that there are many Kurds to whom some of the characterizations presented in this analysis cannot and should not be applied. There are Kurds who have assimilated into their current cultural societies and reject the ideals of the separatist Kurds. Their concerns are mostly political in nature and specific to the nations in which they reside. They are not interested in establishing a united Kurdish country…In fact, these Kurds have faced discrimination from the Kurdish community as a result of their unwillingness to support the establishment of a Kurdish state…The Kurds have gained popularity through effectively marketing themselves to Western audiences as revolutionary, feminist, Marxist “freedom fighters”…Up until recently, Kurds with separatist ambitions were seen in a positive light. But their hidden agenda has now been exposed and their true intentions revealed…To support the Kurds’ demands for autonomy, and the establishment of a federation at the expense of others in the region, is illegal, profoundly illogical, and a violation of human rights”

If what Sarah Abed says has any validity then the Kurds cannot claim they are a nation and hence their claim for independence as a “nation” and a “nation-state” is fundamentally flawed. The Syrians recognize the danger of this, even discussing with the Russians and a PKK leader a number of issues: “the future of the YPG, the future of US bases…in the YPG-occupied areas, and a political solution to the Kurdish question in Syria.” Whether the Syrian state does the same as Iraq in creating an autonomous area within their country for the Kurds is possible. However, considering the fact that they have been under imperialist assault since the 1960s, especially more intense since 2013, it is likely that Kurds will be granted additional rights but not an autonomous area, a concept which could be exploited by power-hungry Western imperialists.

This discussion is nothing new. In 1973, the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party in Iraq wrote a political report titled “Revolutionary Iraq 1968-1973.” They noted, in one chapter about the Iraqi revolution, as they called it, talking about the Kurds:

“The Kurdish national movement in Iraq, despite some historical circumstantial errors and reactionary isolationist trends some of which were on openly good terms with imperialism and reactionary circles, is essentially a legitimate national movement so long as it works within the framework of national rights for the Kurdish people within the Republic of Iraq. Autonomous Kurdish rule is realistic and justified…the problem has become very complicated because of foreign interventions, the chauvinistic and dictatorial attitudes of the former reactionary regimes towards the Kurd’s legitimate rights….The Party had to find a solution, theoretical and practical, that would satisfy the national aspirations of our Kurdish masses while protecting the territorial unity of the land and the unity of the national progressive movement without conflicting with the aims of the Arab struggle…the leadership of the Kurdistan Democratic Party often did not behave in the spirit of national unity and sincere alliance with the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party…in spite of all the errors and negative aspects, the peaceful democratic method of the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party in tackling the Kurdish Question has proved to be correct and has yielded significant positive results…After four years of persistent struggle to solve the Kurdish Question peacefully and democratically, the general political, psychological and economic trends of the Kurdish masses are no longer as they used to be before the March announcement. Large sections of our Kurdish people are now finding their lives more secure and peaceful than ever before…The peaceful solution of the Kurdish Question is also another sign of democracy, In addition to its significant aspect in consolidating national unity, political independence and social progress in the country, it has provided the opportunity for the first time to create a democratic climate for our Kurdish people to practice their national rights, political, social and cultural activities on a very large scale.”

This statement does draw into question the story told by the Kurds who want their own nation and fundamentally a new nation-state, showing that the Iraqi government understood, at least at one point, that the Kurds were justified in their push for self-determination. Even Kim Il Sung, in 1971, congratulated the Iraqi people and government on the “successful solution of the Kurd national problem in Iraq,” further saying that “the peaceful, democratic solution of the Kurd national problem is a telling blow to the imperialists and an important measure which makes it possible to strengthen the anti-imperialist people’s front and further intensify the anti-U.S., anti-Israeli struggle in Iraq.”

However, if the Kurds were not a nation, fundamentally and just an ethnicity, then the Iraqi approach at the time would be even more justified. One Marxist writer even pointed out, in 1979, that two important ayatollahs in Iran called Kurdish leaders “agents of Savak, Zionists and corrupt sources,” while Saddam Hussein reportedly was “arming some Kurds to start a revolt within Iran.” Kurds seem to be pawns, now and throughout their history, of Western imperialists. Still, we cannot paint all of them with the same brush. There are Kurds, as I’ve written in the past, who support federalism in Syria, and also support federalism in Iraq. Not all are separatist, wanting to form an “independent” nation.

Whether the Kurds are an “oppressed nationality” is up to the reader. But this writer thinks that is drawn into question considering that certain Kurds have been used for pawns. They gotta serve somebody, and those somebodies are in the West, not in the Mideast. Clearly US imperialism has re-positioned itself to support certain Kurds in Syria, but there is another reality. A new state in the region would be the paradise of capitalists, getting to the level of Cuba before the revolution’s success in 1959. Additionally, they want a nation-state conceived in a bourgeois way, following what Rosa Luxembourg pointed out in 1909, that ““Nation-states” are today the very same tools and forms of class rule of the bourgeoisie as the earlier, non-national states, and like them they are bent on conquest. The nation-states have the same tendencies toward conquest, war, and oppression – in other words, the tendencies to become “not-national.”” Fundamentally, this is a bourgeois concept.

As the Marxist Internet Archive defines it, a nation-state is when a nation combines with a state, with “the state being an instrument of force which is able to dominate the people of a nation, representing the social interests of the dominant class with that nation.” This is not something that should be cheered or supported. Instead, those with sense should support those Kurds who push for the maintenance of federalist systems in their respective countries, Syria or Iraq, oppose the creation of “Kurdistan,” strongly oppose outside interference by the West, and ally with the proletariat in those countries, along with Communist parties in those countries (i.e. Iraqi Communist Party and Syrian Communist Party (Bakdash)) at minimum. [2] This would all be within the right of any ethnicity, but especially those in countries under imperialist attack. While some may argue, rightly, that Syria and Iraq are not socialist states, it is not the job of those in the West to determine how peoples in those countries engage in revolution but it should be up to the people n those respective countries, with those outside offering international solidarity and support if they deem it necessary. In the case of “Kurdistan,” this should not be supported by any thinking comrade, as it will assist Zionist expansionism, Saudi expansionism, and Western imperialism in dividing up the region. This is not beneficial for the well-being of those who live in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, or those living in any other area. In the end, what happens next, whether they see the Kurds as a nation or they don’t, is up to any comrade who reads the articles in this series.

Notes

[1] Aliza Marcus and Andrew Apostolou, “Why It’s Time for a Free Kurdistan,” The Daily Beast, Nov. 25, 2015.

[2] The same would also be the case in Iran except that the country does not have a strong and established Left, so that would need to be built from the ground up. The existing communist party, Tudeh, is in exile and seems to, unfortunately, mesh with the criticisms of the country’s government by Western imperialists. If this turns out to be incorrect, then perhaps Tudeh can be useful as a force that can challenge the existing political system in Iran.

“A calamitous defeat”: The Western imperialists and “Kurdistan”

A map of “Kurdistan” from a pro-Kurdish website, showing how its creation would assist Western imperialism due to its tentacles reaching into Syria, Iraq, and Iran, along with Turkey of course.

Note:  This article was written in late October, so it is a bit dated. This article is the third of a four-part series, which never got published on Dissident Voice. Some words like “Trumpster” were changed to orange menace or “US” to U$.

Continuing from the last article [link here], this article focuses on the support Western imperialists have granted “Kurdistan” over the years.

The Turkish government, predictably anti-Kurdish, is opposed to an independent Kurdistan, along with the U$ officially (under Obama and now under the orange menace), the Iraqi, Iranian, and Syrian governments, all feeling it will threaten regional stability at a time that the Syrian war seems to be coming to a close. [1] The only government that seems to fully support independence is the Zionist state (and reportedly the Saudis), seeming to hint that Ali Akbar Velayati, senior adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, may be onto something when he recently said that “Barzani is a middleman for Zionists [whose goal is] to disintegrate Islamic countries” and called Kurdistan a “second Israel.” Of course, Russophobic imperialist Chuck Schumer supports an independent Kurdistan, as does a political party in the Western puppet state of Kosovo, the chieftain of the Arab al-Jobouri grouping in Kirkuk, the pseudo “nationalistic” PKK, the Syriac Assyrian Popular Council, and Assyrian Party. Additionally, the traitorous Greek government, which surrendered before the altar of the European Troika, Catalonia, and the Swedish government, which serves the Western imperialists with glee, also voiced their support.

Radicals, even on seem to be divided on the question of an “independent Kurdistan.” Perhaps this is because the Iraqi Communist Party endorsed the referendum, saying that they “recognize the right of self-determination for all peoples, small and large, and their right to express their free will, including the formation of a national state” but that the “restructuring of the federal state…cannot be decided unilaterally by a particular party” and hoping that “hostility between the Arab and Kurdish peoples” is not increased, instead pushing for the unity of the country with no alternative to dialogue.” This measured response, as you could call it, does not necessarily take into account all of the factors at play here, as will be discussed in this article. There has been the use of force by the Iraqi government to maintain control of the “Kurdistan” region. [2] As Andre Vletchek, who is revisionist but often well-spoken, said recently,

“…the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq…is clearly a ‘client’ state of the West, of Turkey and to some extent, Israel. It is shamelessly capitalist, taking land from its own people, cheating them, just in order to pump and refine huge quantities of oil. It treats Syrian refugees like animals, forcing them to make anti-Assad statements. It is turning ancient Erbil into some bizarre shopping mall with nothing public in sight. Its military top brass is mainly US/UK-trained and indoctrinated. And it provokes Baghdad, day and night…If Iraqi Kurds were allowed to have their ‘independence’, the impact on the region would be huge and certainly negative. Baghdad should not allow it, even at the cost of an armed confrontation.”

Adding to this, Kirkuk was transformed from “a majority Turkmen community to a Kurdish one starting in 1991” with the marginalization of the Turkmen winning “little sympathy outside” as their “identity and ethnic rights are completely overshadowed by Kurdish separatists and their foreign partners and lackeys.” Furthermore, it is worth noting that “Kirkuk is no more a part of Kurdish Iraq than nearby Mosul is, and Kurdish rights to Kirkuk has never been part of the semi-autonomous understanding between Iraqi Kurds and Baghdad.” Let us also take into account what James Petras said about the Kurds in the 1990s and more recently:

“In the case of Iraq in the 1990’s, Kurds were sponsored, armed, funded and defended by the US and Israel in order to weaken and divide the secular-nationalist Iraqi republic. Kurds, again with US support, have organized regional conflicts in Turkey and more recently in Syria, in order to defeat the independent government of Bashar Assad. Leftist Kurds cynically describe their imperial allies, including the Israelis, as ‘progressive colonialists’. In brief, the Kurds act as surrogates for the US and Israel: They provide mercenaries, access to military bases, listening and spy posts and resources in their newly ‘liberated (and ethnically cleansed) country’, to bolster US imperialism, which ‘their warlord leaders’ have chosen as the dominant ‘partner’. Is their struggle one of national liberation or mercenary puppetry in the service of empire against sovereign nations resisting imperial and Zionist control?…The Kurdish ‘freedom fighters’, followed ethnic warlords who were funded by the US and Israel, and took over town, cities, oil resources and territory to serve as imperial military bases against the sovereign governments of Iraq, Iran and Syria. In this context, the Kurdish warlords and oligarchs are loyal vassals and an integral component of the long-standing US-Israeli policy aimed at dividing and weakening independent allies of Palestine, Yemen and genuine liberation movements…Kurds, Tibetans, fascist Ukrainian nationalists, Uighurs and other so-called freedom fighters turn out to be military Sepoys for aggressive US incursion against independent China, Iran and Russia. Leftist backers of these dubious ‘liberation movements’ tag along behind the empire.”

There is more beyond what he is saying. The general narrative within the bourgeois media is that the West is annoyed by the “Kurdistan” referendum and that Israel (and the Saudis as is talked about very little) is the only ally an “independent” state in that region has. The reality as noted in part 1 and part 2 of this series, and alluded above, is very different. For one, these Kurds aim to exploit ethnic strains and reinforce the “legitimacy of the Kurdish leadership before a drive for outright independence and any negotiations that might involve.” This is despite the fact that the Turkish government seems ready to “impose further sanctions on northern Iraq over the referendum,” the Iraqi government has put in place an “international flights ban on Kurdish airports” and stopped all “foreign currency transfers to the region” while Barzani hangs onto power beyond his second term which was supposed to end in 2013. As their push for independence seems aimed to “capitalize on their contribution to the war on Islamic State,” Western imperialists are smiling in glee. [3]

An “independent” state in “Kurdistan” would open the door to directly attacking Iran even more than in the past. Considering that Iran is mutually obligated to defend Syria, supports forces such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, is militarily supported by China and Russia, while it is a “crucial link in the North South Transportation Corridor (NTSC)” and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), this could destabilize the region to say the least. Even if a “direct American attack on Iran is even more unthinkable than in the past,” covert action is not “unthinkable.” Recently Mike Pompeo, the newly crowned CIA director declared that the CIA will need to “become a much more vicious agency” in fighting enemies, which will inevitably mean, from his own career, supporting Saudi expansionism, undermining Russia, Syria, Juche Korea, and Iran covertly, along with any other entity (or person) that threatens the murderous empire. This is the face of U$ imperialism, manifested by the arrogance of orange menace himself (who some falsely claimed would be “non-interventionist” based on misreading his campaign rhetoric), which seems even more blatant than Obama. The murderous Zionist state is undoubtedly pleased by the number of Zionists currently in the U$ Administration.

It goes beyond Iran. While publicly oil man and U$ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declares that “the vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq…We urge calm and an end to vocal recrimination and threats of reciprocal actions,” the underlying reality is different. Western imperialism would benefit from “further instability in the entire Middle East,” as more ethnic tensions between “Arabs, Kurds or Iranians,” caused by this “divisive scheme,” as Hezbollah’s Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called it, will favor “Israel and the US, helping their weapons-manufacturing factories make a fortune.” Even more so, a new state in “Kurdistan” would hurt Syria, which has seemingly been victorious in the war against Western (and Gulf-backed) terrorist forces, a time when the county begins to rebuild, increase production, research, and investment across the economy, as SANA recently described. The West wants the division of “Iraq into Kurdish and Arab regions, launching a first stage in the process of partition and disintegration,” as the Kurds can easily be used, especially by the US, “against regimes it does not like.” Even more so, considering the seemingly “soft” approach of the Russians to the Kurds as has been evidenced in recent years (which is a bit complicated), an independent state in the “Kurdistan” region could create a wedge between Iran, Syria, and Russia at a time that the latter two countries are working to boost “bilateral relations between the two countries in the field of investment,” including having investment “partnerships with the Russian side in the field of exploring oil and gas.” The latter action benefits the Russian bourgeoisie even as it moves Syria even further out of the Western capitalist orbit.

The “powder keg” of an “independent” state in “Kurdistan,” is relished by Western imperialists who see it as a “romance of a free Kurdistan,” which is opposed strongly by Turkmen and Arab groups. Biden even declared, two years ago that dividing Iraq into three “semi-autonomous regions” (Sunni, Shia, and Kurd) “would have worked” if has been done back in 2006, and idea supported by elements within the US intelligence establishment. This declaration was based in an op-ed in the NY Times he had written in 2006 with Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus of the elitist Council on Foreign Relations, declaring that this was a good idea:

“…The idea, as in Bosnia, is to maintain a united Iraq by decentralizing it, giving each ethno-religious group — Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab — room to run its own affairs, while leaving the central government in charge of common interests. We could drive this in place with irresistible sweeteners for the Sunnis to join in…As long as American troops are in Iraq in significant numbers, the insurgents can’t win and we can’t lose…The alternative path out of this terrible trap has five elements. The first is to establish three largely autonomous regions with a viable central government in Baghdad. The Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions would each be responsible for their own domestic laws, administration and internal security. The central government would control border defense, foreign affairs and oil revenues. Baghdad would become a federal zone, while densely populated areas of mixed populations would receive both multisectarian and international police protection…things are already heading toward partition…a breakup is already under way” [4]

This op-ed had four other elements but are not of importance here except that are part of an imperialistic, genocidal plan that would have caused chaos in the Middle East some still think is a good idea! Its mind-boggling.

A new state in “Kurdistan” would create “important political and economic problems for the neighboring nations of Turkey and Iran, as well as for the Iraqi central government” as Rand Corp declared some time ago. As some declare that the Kurds “deserve to be allowed to try” to create an “independent” state, which be a client of the imperialist powers, U$ representatives came together in a bipartisan effort to support it, saying that it could serve as a beacon to further U.S. interests in the Middle East,” while the U$ likely still has the five military bases in the region that it set up in July of last year. These imperialists don’t seem to worry that “a free Kurdish state…will cause dissolution of a free Iraq” with that millions of people voting in the referendum that lived in disputed areas, throwing into question if the referendum is legal at all or even valid in the slightest. [5] Lest us forget, as the CIA even admits, there were U$ special forces and CIA peoples in “Iraqi Kurdistan in advance of the opening of the Iraq War in 2003,” with a CIA-trained “Kurdish sabotage team [which] infiltrated regime territory to destroy a railway and 90-car train that supplied the Iraqi V Corps,” and that in 1991, the US and its allies imposed “a no-fly zone in the north that allowed Kurds to enjoy self-rule” while the two Kurdish political parties (KDP and PUK) “co-operated with the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.” [6] This makes no surprise that in recent days these Kurds have met with the Brits, the US envoy, the Germans, the Italians, and the Dutch. Michael Springmann, a former US diplomat, is undoubtedly right that the U$ specifically “encourages the Kurds to rebel against the government of Iraq,” with the US and the murderous Zionist state “doing their best for quite some time now to divide Iraq.” Add to this that Netanyahu has been trying to convince the Western imperialists to openly support the Kurds against the Iraqi army, specifically “lobbying” the Germans, the Russians, the French, and the U$, seeing them as “a deeply pro-Western people who deserve support.” [7] But of course this news obscures that the US and UK support an “independent Kurdistan” with a clause “in the US-framed Iraqi constitution granting Kurds a degree of autonomy” while ethnic cleansing of Turkmen people is undoubtedly occurring.

The bourgeois media and their lackeys seem to peddle the idea that “Kurdistan” as it currently exists is a paragon of “good governance” and an “island of relative peace in a war-torn country since the US-led invasion in 2003” or even openly saying that having the region be independent would be “a significant check on both Iranian and Turkish power.” [8] The reality, especially of the former claim, is different. The NY Times admitted this much in their front-page article on “Kurdistan” on October 1:

“With its troubled economy and dearth of democratic institutions…Kurds…may have set back their national aspirations…[the KRG] lacks…rule of law, free and fair elections, civil society and a legislature with real power to challenge a dynastic executive leadership…Barzani…remains in power two years after his term has expired…the government is a Barzani family enterprise…the Kurdish economy is in dire straits [with low oil prices]…for the Kurdish leadership there is no going back” [9]

Add to this the view of a former Saudi official, Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud who argued that “the constitution that they put in place after the American invasion allows for communities in Iraq to call for referenda on whether they are Iraqi or not.” Even Vijay Pershad, who admits he is “a little sympathetic to the fact that the Kurds of this region have a very longstanding claim to some kind of national home,” says that there has been “some [vote] rigging, of course,” and that “Mr. Barzani, in a way to consolidate his own personal power has really put the Kurdish question on the wrong plate.” Another supporter of Kurdish “independence,” a Zionist writing in Haaretz, admitted himself that the idea that “Kurdistan” is a “progressive, democratic and prosperous country” is fundamentally an “illusion” since the region is a mess:

“Masoud Barzani’s term as the elected president ended in 2013, his parliament-appointed term expired in 2015, and two years later he is still in power and shows no signs of quitting. Even if he does eventually step down, the Barzani family controls key institutions and jobs in and out of government,..Iraqi Kurdistan’s Parliament was suspended two years ago and since then has met only once – this month, to approve the referendum that was held on Monday…the Kurdish economy…depends on oil…Seventy percent of the Kurdish workforce is employed by the state…in 2014, the economy tanked. Unemployment is probably in the double digits, construction has ground to a halt, and the government has run up debts…Kurdistan has…none of the tools an ordinary government has at its disposal, such as a currency it can devalue or access to international funding…Kurdistan is, in fact, looking more like many of the other “stans”…repressive, corrupt regimes presiding over economies based on oil, gas and crony capitalism” [10]

While the idea of “crony capitalism” is one that is false in that it doesn’t recognize the reality of capitalism (just like the idea of “regulated capitalism” solving the dictatorship of the capitalist class), his observations are valid ones. The Western conception that “Kurdistan” is basically “an island of peace and stability surrounded by sectarian strife and civil wars” is an utter myth with the “Good” Kurds (by Western standards) abandoning “their dream of independence in lieu of establishing Iraq as a federal, democratic republic” in 2005, recognizing that “the United States has no friends in Iraq or Syria except the Kurds,” as one put it. The additional idea as declared by the milquetoast (and bourgeois) “peace” organization, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in 2014, that “the map of the Middle East is on the verge of changing much to the benefit of the Kurds” is more laughable now than ever. Even if Turkey’s ruling party was “ready to accept an independent Kurdish state in what is currently northern Iraq” the same year, doesn’t mean that they will now.

There is one aspect that many are not admitting: the interconnection of the Kurds in Syria and Iraq. In 2013, as chaos spread across Syria thanks to Western and Gulf-backed terrorists, 20,000 Kurds from Syria streamed into “the Kurdish north of Iraq” with Barzani even saying he would “intervene to protect Syrian Kurds in their fight against jihadists.” [11] As a result, it could be said that support for Kurdish “independence” in the Mideast is meant to fracture the region. Already, as noted in my article on the illegal entity of Rojava, Iranians and Syrians opposed this, but also that Kurds in northern Iraq benefit from black gold undoubtedly:

“…ExxonMobil, along with Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, Total SA, and BP, showed interest in Iraqi Kurdistan, with a registered branch office in the region, and signed, in 2011, six production sharing contracts “covering more than 848,000 acres” in the region, with Rex Tillerson, the current US Secretary of State, having a role in, as one article put it, “placing the company’s financial interests above the American goal of creating a stable, cohesive Iraq”…The agreements that ExxonMobil made were strongly opposed by the Iraqi government. Even though ExxonMobil pulled out of half its holdings in 2016, like other companies had years before…it would be no surprise that they want to exploit the oil in Syria”

The Kurds realize this and curry favor with Western capitalists. In 2012 alone they had already engaged 49 illegal foreign oil contracts (Production Sharing Agreements) especially in the Zagros Fold Belt region which is rich in black gold, which forced “Baghdad’s hand in finalising the oil law that has been pending for years” reportedly. Add to this that the Turks have many business ties in the region, with “about 1,300 Turkish companies having business ties with the autonomous region” as do the Russians, with the KRG signing a “20-year-long deal with Russia’s Rosneft to cooperate on the exploration and production of hydrocarbons” with the Russian company Gazprom Neft also “currently engaged in three oil projects in the region.”

With all these business ties and instability, there is one question worth asking and ending with, considering something that most will not even consider, as argued in the last article in this series: are the Kurds a nation, envisioned in “Kurdistan,” at all?

Notes

[1] BBC News, “Iraq Kurdistan independence referendum planned,” Jul 1, 2014; Roy Gutman, “Kurds agree to postpone independence referendum,” The Star, Sept. 5, 2014; RFE/RL, “Iraqi Kurdish Leader Calls For Nonbinding Vote On Independence,” Feb. 3, 2016; Mewan Dolarmi, “PM Barzani: Mosul could be liberated within three months,” Kurdistan24, Oct. 31, 2016; The Iran Project, “Iraqi Kurdistan’s ‘Unilateral’ referendum plan only to cause new problems: Iran,” Jun 10, 2017; Rudaw, “Iraqi delegation under Allawi to visit Erbil about Kurdish referendum plan,” Jun 11, 2017. Khamenei said that “Iran opposes holding talks of a referendum to partition #Iraq and considers those who fuel the idea as opponents of Iraq’s independence.” Even the governments of Australia, Germany, Spain, and the UK are wary of an independent Kurdistan. Also Iraq’s Christians are wary of this move for independence, as is the PLO, the Iraqi Turkmen Front. The referendum was temporarily delayed because the Kurds were willing to work with the Iraqi forces to fight Daesh.

[2] David Zucchino and Margaret Coker, “Iraq Escalates Dispute With Kurds, Threatening Military Action,” New York Times, Sept. 27, 2017; David Zucchino, “Iraq Orders Kurdistan to Surrender Its Airports,” New York Times, Sept. 26, 2017.

[3] Maher Chmaytelli, “Iraqi Kurds face more sanctions after calling elections,” Reuters, Oct 3, 2017.

[4] Joe Biden and Leslie H. Gelb, “Unity Through Autonomy in Iraq,” New York Times, op-ed, May 1, 2006.

[5] Nabih Bulos and Tracy Wilkinson, “Iraqi Kurds vote on creating an independent Kurdistan — but big obstacles stand in the way,” LA Times, Sept 25, 2017; Eli Lake, “The Kurdish People Lost a Revolutionary and a Statesman,” Bloomberg View, Oct. 3, 2017.

[6] BBC, “Who are the Kurds?,” BBC News, Mar 14, 2016.

[7] Dan Williams, “Netanyahu lobbies world powers to stem Iraqi Kurd setbacks,” Reuters, Oct. 20, 2017.

[8] Caroline B. Glick, “The strategic case for Kurdistan,” Jerusalem Post, Aug. 31, 2017.

[9] David Zucchino, “Kurds Vote for Independence Only Adds to Their Obstacles,” NY Times, Oct 1, 2017.

[10] David Rosenberg, “Independent Kurdistan Looks Like a Zimbabwe in the Making,” Haaretz opinion, Sept. 28, 2017.

[11] Martin Chulov, “Syrian Kurds continue to flee to Iraq in their thousands,” The Guardian, Aug. 18, 2013.

“A calamitous defeat”: Lenin’s words on self-determination and Zionist imperialism

Lenin speaking before Russian workers.

Note:  This article was written in late October, so it is a bit dated. This article is the second of a four-part series, which never got published on Dissident Voice. I wrote this before I had defined the Zionist state fully as a murderous Zionist apartheid state, but what I say here is still valid.

Continuing from the previous article of this series, which focused on Stalin’s words about self-determination and supporting national struggles, especially in regards to the “Kurdistan” referendum [link to previous post], comes the words of another revolutionary: Vladimir Lenin.

Lenin’s words on self-determination

Lenin, like Stalin, also strongly supported the right of self-determination, in the waning days of the Russian revolutionary fervor which would eventually blossom into the Great October Socialist Revolution, called the “Russian Revolution” in the West, creating the world’s first socialist state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) by 1922 after many years of a Soviet/Bolshevik government. In 1913 he said that that the expediency of self-determination is something different from the right itself, saying that this right is important in the “fight against the abscess of nationalism in all its forms.” This is different from the broadly “accepted” definition of self-determination in current political discourse, especially in bourgeois politics in the West. [1] Basically, Lenin was saying that nations had the right to secede and form an “independent national state.” While Stalin, seemed to imply that when a state is “tied up with certain imperialist groups, and…cannot escape the great play of forces that is going on outside,” using Yugoslavia as an example, that it should not be supported, saying that the right to self-determination is not an obligation or duty but rather something that a nation may take advantage of or not, Lenin took a clearer stand.

In 1914, Lenin wrote that “the period of the final victory of capitalism over feudalism has been linked up with national movements” and that there is a tendency of every national movement towards “the formation of national states.” He further made the conclusion that “self-determination of nations means the political separation of these nations from alien national bodies, and the formation of an independent national state,” noted that all sorts of states are “entirely dependent, economically, on the power of the imperialist finance capital of the “rich” bourgeois countries” with such countries beginning to “oppress other nations and to enslave colonies.” In the following chapter of this book, The Right of Nations to Self-Determination, he noted that the “categorical requirement of Marxist theory in investigating any social question is that it be examined within definite historical limits” and having an account taken distinguishing the country from others “in the same historical epoch,” taking into account “historical and concrete state conditions.” In the case of “Kurdistan” in northern Iraq, no state currently exists, and is not technically a nation as the whole nation of Kurds would, if we are to accept the claims of bourgeois scholars, cover the borders of varying countries in the region. Historical context and distinguishing it from other nations is important going forward.

Before getting to that point it worth recalling that the bourgeoisie often assumes “leadership at the start of every national movement,” even while the proletariat has different goals, with absurdity coming into the picture with a “demand for a “yes” or “no” reply to the question of secession” as it leads to “subordinating the proletariat to the bourgeoisie’s policy.” In terms of the current referendum, this subordination has undoubtedly happened, as only two choices were afforded them: Hiyat (no) and Evet (Yes). No other choices were floated. This seems to imply, using Lenin’s wording, that the referendum itself was tailored in such a way to benefit the up-and-coming Kurdish bourgeoisie and not the proletariat. No other choices were offered if one views the ballot, in Assyrian, Kurdish, Arabic, and Turkish, itself. Translating the Turkish wording, the question for the referendum is almost a leading question, imposing, almost hard to say “no” to:

Do you want the establishment of an independent Kurdish state, including the Kurdistan Regional Administration and the contested areas?

This makes it no surprise that by a sweeping margin, the Kurds of northern Iraq voted for independence. Due to that, President Masoud Barzani of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) declared that the non-binding referendum was “a normal, legal right of our people,” and is about the “about the destiny of a whole people,” which was originally voted on in 2005 in a non-binding measure, one year after the US and UK-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority ended its governance of Iraq. [2] Barzani also bellowed that anyone who opposes the referendum is against the “the peaceful, democratic right of people to express their own decisions about their destiny” and ultimately “against democracy.”

Lenin goes on to say, that in some cases, the masses “resort to secession only when national oppression and national friction make joint life absolutely intolerable and hinder any and all economic intercourse” meaning that, as a result, “the interests of capitalist development and of the freedom of the class struggle will be best served by secession.” He adds that self-determination of a nation is connected to the “self-determination of the proletariat within a given nation,” fighting for equal rights of nations, and a “close, unbreakable alliance in the class struggle of the proletarians of all nations in a given state…irrespective of any reshaping of the frontiers of the individual states by the bourgeoisie.” He even says that to “brush aside the mass national movements once they have started, and to refuse to support what is progressive in them means, in effect, pandering to nationalistic prejudices,” and that there will predictably be “hopeless confusion on the national question” disseminated by “a group of nationalist philistines” who want to split the proletariat. It is an open question if the whole conception of Kurdish independence is meant to create confusion and split the proletariat in the region. This is not beyond question. There will continue to be “bourgeois strivings for national exclusiveness” without a doubt.

As thoughtful individuals and committed comrades, we should also demand freedom of self-determination for oppressed nations, but also want the “fusion of nations…on a truly democratic, truly internationalist basis.” At the same time, Lenin argued that while the “real eradication of national oppression leads to the fusion of nations,” the freedom to secede is “the best and the only political means against the idiotic system of petty states and national isolation.” In the case of “Kurdistan,” it could be argued that the current federalist system, based in Islamic democracy, is “truly democratic,” a fusion of nations. The constitution itself seems to indicate this reality to an extent:

“[Article 1:] The Republic of Iraq if a single federal, independent and fully sovereign state in which the system of government is republican, representative, parliamentary, and democratic…[Article 3:] Iraq is a country of multiple nationalities, religions, and sects…[Article 4:] The Arabic language and the Kurdish language are the two official languages of Iraq…[Article 5:] The law is sovereign. The people are the source of authority and legitimacy, which they shall exercise in direct, general, secret ballot and through their constitutional institutions…[Article 10:] The holy shrines and religious sites of Iraq are religious and civilizational entities…[Article 13:] This constitution is the preeminent and supreme law in Iraq and shall be binding in all parts of Iraq without exception…[Article 14:] Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, origin, color, religion, sect, belief or opinion, or economic or social status…[Article 18:] Iraqi citizenship is a right for every Iraqi and is the basis of his nationality…[Article 20:] Iraqi citizens…shall have the right to participate in public affairs…[Article 22:] Work is a right for all Iraqis…[Article 109:] The federal authorities shall preserve the unity, integrity, independence, and sovereignty of Iraq and its federal democratic system…[Article 117:] This Constitution, upon coming into force, shall recognize the region of Kurdistan…as a federal region”

However, it is not, by reading through the constitution “truly democratic” or even “truly internationalist,” only a little bit of both, so this isn’t the “fusion of nations” that Lenin was writing about one bit.

In 1916, Lenin wrote about self-determination again in two more pieces. In the first, he noted that part of “victorious socialism” was not only achieving complete democracy and bringing about “the complete equality of nations,” but supporting the “right of oppressed nations to self-determination, i.e., the right to free political secession,” freeing such “enslaved nations” and establishing religions with them “on the basis of a free union.” He further adds that self-determination of nations is feasible with “the domination of finance capital” not possible with simple reforms, with the “fundamental demands of political democracy” actionable under imperialism but only in an “incomplete, in a mutilated form and as a rare exception.” He later adds that “freedom to settle the [national] question of secession by means of a referendum” is not the same with a “demand for secession, for partition, for the formation of small states.” In the case of “Kurdistan,” in Northern Iraq, it falls more under a demand for partition and follows the rhetoric of Lenin on incomplete results of political democracy under imperialism, even though making federation of nations a principle is part of Lenin’s thinking. It is worth remembering that bourgeoisie in oppressed nations always convert the “slogan of national liberation into a means for deceiving the workers” and democratic demands become an “an instrument of the bourgeoisie” for the same goal. In the case of this referendum, it is possible is has become an instrument to deceive the proletariat in this Kurdish region.

In the second piece, Lenin defined annexation. He argued that annexation, which violates a nation’s self-determination, involves the “conception of force…conception of oppression by another nation…and sometimes the concept of violation of the status quo” with the establishment of state frontiers which are “contrary to the will of the population.” After all, it is clear that “that no nation can be free if it oppresses other nations.” It is worth this that the Zionists enter the picture.

The Zionists enter the picture

While Lenin and Stalin seem to put support of oppressed people on solid ground, in terms of “Kurdistan” in this instance, Zionist Israel, called the murderous Zionist state in the rest of this article, throws this into question. Undoubtedly, this state and nation, as could call it, has engaged in annexation and national oppression as defined previously by Stalin and Lenin. Most recently reported is that the murderous Zionist state, is planning to annex almost “19 Palestinian settlements and uproot some 125,000 to 150,000 Palestinian people.” This is fundamentally a form of violence. Even Stalin recognized this in 1913, in Marxism and the National Question, 35 years before the illegal creation of the murderous Zionist state, naming Zionism as one of the forms of “crude chauvinism” which swept forward, “threatening to engulf the mass of the workers” with such nationalism only countered with “the tried weapon of internationalism…the unity and indivisibility of the class struggle.” In a footnote, he defined Zionism as a “reactionary nationalist trend of the Jewish bourgeoisie, which had followers along the intellectuals and the more backward sections of the Jewish workers.” He further argued that Zionists aimed to “isolate the Jewish working-class masses from the general struggle of the proletariat.” Some would further argue that the murderous Zionist state is settler-colonialist like the United States and Canada. Regardless, there is no doubt that the murderous Zionist state is “the only country in the world with Judaism as its official state religion” as it abuses its “hold” on Judiasm to demand that all Jews be Zionist although they are under no obligation to hold that position. [3]

The Zionists are strong supporters of an independent “Kurdistan.” With war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu supporting the effort openly, Zionist sympathizer, David Patrikarakos, followed suit, saying gleefully that many in “Kurdistan” see the murderous Zionist state as a model for their “new state,” and that this new state could “check Iran’s growing influence across the Middle East.” He ends his article by declaring that

“an independent or even more autonomous Kurdistan – secular, oil-rich, battle-hardened and pro-Israel – is the perfect ally for Jerusalem in a Middle East…For Israel as a Jewish nation, support for Kurdish independence is a moral imperative; for it as a Middle Eastern state it is a strategic necessity…Israel must hold fast…it must not let the Kurds down.”

Others in the region recognized this reality. MP Mowaffak al-Rubaie of the Shiite National Alliance, In Iraq, argued that the referendum was a step “taken by some racists in Kurdistan will bring instability to the entire region for years to come.”He further added that the Iraqi government “should take decisive, forceful, strong, and practical steps against those who made adventures with the destiny of the people of Kurdistan.” In Iran, Mohsen Rezaei, Secretary of the Expediency Council, added that Kurdish independence is in the “interest of Israel and those who want to expand insecurity in the region,” further adding that countries in the Mideast need to “preserve the territorial integrity of countries and prevent the change of geographical boundaries.”

The ties between the murderous Zionist state and these Kurds is nothing new. While Zionist Daniel Pipes’ think tank, Middle East Forum, declares that the father of Masoud Barzani, Mulla Mustafa Barzani, allied himself “more closely with the United States, Iran, and Israel” by the 1970s, after reportedly getting support from the Soviets, the connection with the murderous Zionist state goes back even farther than that. They date all the way back to 1950-1951, with ties first “facilitated by Iraqi Kurdish Jews, who left Iraq for Israel” but was strengthened when Mossad officers went to northern Iraq so they could aide Barzani. By the 1960s, secret ties grew with Mustafa Barzani leading a war against the Iraqi government as part of a “series of uprisings headed by the Barzani family since the establishment of the modern Iraqi state.” It was during this time that the murderous Zionist state provided “intermittent security assistance and military training to the Kurds” as an “anti-Saddam play” in order to keep Saddam Hussein “distracted as Israel fought two wars against coordinated Arab neighbors.” Recently, Yair Golan, a major general in the IDF who compared the murderous Zionist state to 1930s Nazi Germany, approved of the idea of an “independent Kurdistan” declaring recently to the Zionist and jingoist Washington Institute of Near East Policy that “…looking at Iran in the east, looking at the instability (in) the region, a solid, stable, cohesive Kurdish entity in the midst of this quagmire — it’s not a bad idea,” and recalled, of course, the murderous Zionist State’s “good cooperation with the Kurd people since the early 1960s.” [4] While some say that by the 1970s, the relationship between the Kurds and Zionists “was scaled back” but reports of “Israeli security, medical, and economic aid continue[d] to circulate,” other Zionist applications question this assertion. In a 2013 article in the Zionist rag, Tablet Magazine, it quoted Eliezer Tsafrir, “a former Mossad operative…[who] head[ed] of covert Israeli operations in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1975,” the same year that Saddam fought a “Kurdish rebellion led by Mustafa Barzani.” Tsafrir was quoted approvingly in an article which supported the idea of a Kurdish “dream of independence” because the county could “emerge as an unexpected new ally for Israel in Iran’s backyard.” He declared that

“Under the Barzanis, Jews in Kurdistan did not suffer. On the contrary, they were their friends. Ties with Israel ran deep and began when Mustafa Barzani sent emissaries to Israel through Europe and told us Kurds, like Jews, were ignored by everybody and needed help [including running training camps for Kurdish soldiers]…We decided against it [sending in Centurion tanks] because we thought the Kurds were better off fighting an asymmetrical war…We were in a big hurry to burn papers [before the Iraqis reached the headquarters of the “rebel” Kurds]. I had to get out of there before the Iraqi army turned me into a kebab…I want to be Israel’s first consul general in Erbil”

While his supportive, disgusting Zionist viewpoint is laughable and distorts the reality undoubtedly, what he says makes it clear that the murderous Zionist state sees the Kurds as a reliable ally to achieve their geopolitical aims. Some of the Kurds have clearly reciprocated this. In September 2016, “Kurdish activists” held a memorial service for Shimon Peres, the former prime minister of the murderous Zionist state, who met with Mullah Mustafa Barzani in the Shah’s Iran. The organizer of the event declared that “we want to give a message to Israeli media and foundations, that I am 100% sure we will have independence and relations with Israel. [Peres] previously supported Kurds and was continually defending and supporting our rights. In the 1960s, we had relations with Israel.” As the Zionists also recall, in their own publications, the Kurds reportedly “helped Jewish families…escape to Israel from Kurdistan through the mountains” and Mossad gave assistance to the Kurdish Peshmerga “against Baghdad” with the murderous Zionist state keeping “military advisers at the headquarters of Mulla Mustafa Barzani,” training and supplying “Kurdish units with firearms and field and anti-aircraft artillery in until the 80’s.” [5] Simply put, in the 1960s and 1970s, Israel cooperated with the Shah’s Iran to “fight against its Arab enemies – Iraq, Syria and Egypt,” sending Lt. Colonel Tzuri Sagi to “build up a Kurdish army to fight Iraqi troops in northern Iraq,” which became the Peshmerga, with this general responsible for the “Israeli assassination attempts against Saddam Hussein.” The New York Times even admitted this in their front-page article on the topic last month:

“In the modern era, Kurdish Jews departed en masse for Israel when the Jewish state was created in 1948, leaving Kurdish civil society so bereft that some recall its leaders still lamenting the Jewish exodus decades later. Ties between the two have only grown warmer and more vital since the 1960s, as Israel and the Kurds…have repeatedly come to each other’s aid. The Kurds have long patterned their lobbying efforts in Washington on those of Israel’s supporters…83-year-old Tzuri Sagi, a retired brigadier general, has more reason than most Israelis to root for Kurdish independence…In the winter of 1966, Mr. Sagi’s commanders sent him on a secret mission, via Israel’s then-ally, Iran, to aid Mullah Mustafa Barzani and his peshmerga rebels in Iraqi Kurdistan [and they won]” [6]

If that wasn’t enough, cooperation matured with meetings “between Israeli and Kurdish officials” including Mustafa Barzani’s visits to the murderous Zionist state in 1968 and in 1973, with Israel appealing repeatedly to the United States for “additional support for the Kurds” while Henry Kissinger was US Secretary of State (1973-1977). Since that time, as the Jerusalem Post casually admits, “reports surface about Israeli special ops training Kurdish forces and Mossad agents using the northern mountainous area to launch operations in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.” All signs point to continuing cooperation between the Kurds and Zionists. As Sarah Abed notes, the Kurds are not only “allied with Syria’s fiercest enemy,” but almost all of the major Kurdish political groups in the region have “longstanding ties to Israel” and have engaged in “major ethnic violence against Arabs, Turkmens and Assyrians” by varied accounts. Not only has the murderous Zionist state given the KRG weapons and training prior to its encounters with Daesh but it has floated the idea of using “Kurds and ethnic minorities to topple the Iranian government.” More directly, while Benjamin Netanyahu’s open support for an independent “Kurdistan” is at “odds with nearly every other major player in the Middle East,” he sees this as a strategic decision: a “breakaway Kurdistan could prove valuable to Israel against Iran, which has oppressed its own Kurdish population” as the New York Times notes. Additionally, flags of the murderous Zionist state can be “routinely be seen at Kurdish rallies in Erbil and across Europe” and some 200,000 Kurdish Jews are clearly allies of such a state as well. [7]

One commentator, Urooba Jamal, wrote in Telesur English about this very issue. While original support of “Kurdistan” was the idea of a “second Israel” in the Mideast which was meant to “undermine the idea of a united pan-Arab socialist state” by solidifying ties “with non-Arab Muslim actors,” it could also apparently give the murderous Zionist state “cover” for its oppression of Palestinians. Additionally, it would also allow the latter state to increase its ties with this new state in “the areas of agriculture, technology, education and sports.” Jonathan Cook gave even more context. He noted that while “many ordinary Palestinians were delighted” by the Kurdish referendum since they, like the Kurds, in his estimation, “Palestinians have found themselves trapped in different territories, oppressed by their overlords,” the Zionists felt differently. They feel that an independent “Kurdistan” would be a “bulwark against Iran transferring its weapons, intelligence and know-how to Shia allies in Syria and Lebanon.” Also, they would gain because “the Kurds sit on plentiful oil…[and] are keen to sell to Israel,” and such an independent state makes the Oden Yinon’s plan proposed years ago come to fruition with the ‘implosion of the Middle East, breaking apart the region’s key states…by fueling sectarian and ethnic discord.” Once again, it worth noting that “Tehran is…the target of efforts by Israel and its allies” and the unraveling of the map of the region originally drawn by the British and French would likely “lead to chaos of the kind that a strong, nuclear-armed Israel, with backing from Washington, could richly exploit,” furthering pushing the “Palestinian cause” from the list of priorities of the international community.

There is further context worth mentioning. For one, in 2006, Massoud Barzani, declared that “It is not a crime to establish ties with Israel. If Baghdad sets up diplomatic ties with Israel, we will have them open a consulate in Erbil” while the PYD was then, at “against relations with the Zionist state” but is not the same way anymore. This raises the question as the libertarian Antiwar.com argues, what will happen after the referendum since “the logistics of a landlocked independent at least somewhat problematic.” This is important to recognize since Iran fears “Israel’s potentially close relations with Kurdistan,” seeing it clearly as a proxy state, aligning with the declarations by the Washington Institute of Near East Policy that “a Kurdish state in northern Iraq would be a win for Turkey, the United States, and Israel, all regional and international rivals of Tehran” with the Iranian government’s “hardliners” seeing a future “alliance between an independent Kurdistan and Israel against the Islamic Republic.” This would also seem to indicate that the US is in support of an “independent” Kurdistan but perhaps covertly rather than openly. With an independent “Kurdistan,” violence by the Zionists will expand. As Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah argued that these Zionists do not have “correct picture” of the war, declaring that such Zionists “will have no secure place in occupied Palestine.” [8] Still, it worth recalling that if “the West continues to prioritize Iraqi and Turkish interests over those of the Kurds,” then Kurdistan will not stay an ally of the West, leaning toward Iran perhaps, even as “a Western-oriented Kurdistan could present a difficult challenge to Iranian ambitions in the region.” In the end, perhaps Erdogan is right one one regard: “this administration (in northern Iraq) has a history with Mossad, they are hand-in-hand together…Only Israel supports you…An independent state is not being founded in northern Iraq…[instead] a continuously bleeding wound is being opened.”

Notes

[1] Self-determination is a word that is thrown around a lot these days. Online dictionaries define this as the “determination by the people of a territorial unit of their own future political status” (Merriam-Webster), “freedom of the people of a given area to determine their own political status” (American Heritage Dictionary), “the right of a nation or people to determine its own form of government without influence from outside” (Collins English Dictionary), and “the determining by the people of the form their government shall have, without reference to the wishes of any other nation, especially by people of a territory or former colony” (Dictionary.com), to name a few. The UN’s Millennium Declaration in 2000 declares that UN member states should support “the right to self-determination of peoples which remain under colonial domination and foreign occupation.” Some even say that the concept itself is “confusing,” question if state sovereignty should override a desire for self-determination, with a case involving the USSR on this issue as noted in an article published 11 years ago or in other conflicts. One could also take into account the dissenting views on the case in which the International Court of Justice at the Hague voted in favor of Kosovo. The dissenters varied. Some said that the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo was “unlawful and invalid” and provides an open door for all groups, apart from decolonization efforts, to break apart from states, that the court does not have jurisdiction with a lack of response on the issue from the UN General Assembly. Clearly, there are different “shades of meaning,” as one bourgeois scholar puts it, to the term “self-determination” even as it is widely recognized as a “fundamental principle of international law.” As was declared by the UN General Assembly in December 1960, “All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” This idea has involved from the time of Wilsonian imperialism to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which says that “all peoples have the right of self-determination…All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation…The States Parties to the present Covenant…shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right.”

[2] Campbell MacDiarmid, “Masoud Barzani: Why It’s Time for Kurdish Independence,” Foreign Policy, Jun 15, 2017.

[3] The same Pew Research survey notes that funding is skewed toward official religion of Islam in Iraq, that the official state religion of Iraq and Iran is Islam, with Islam only a preferred religion in Turkey. This survey also adds that “In the Islamic Republic of Iran, for instance, all laws and regulations must be based on “Islamic criteria” and the official interpretation of sharia” and that only “three countries – Sudan, Syria and Turkey – favor Islam but do not declare it as the state religion.”

[4] Jonah Mendel, “Israel sees benefits in independent Kurdistan: experts,” AFP, Sept 19, 2017.

[5] United With Israel, “Understanding Kurdistan – The Friends of Israel,” Nov. 27, 2014.

[6] David M. Halbfinger, “Israel Endorsed Kurdish Independence. Saladin Would Have Been Proud,” New York Times, Sept. 22, 2017.

[7] Some reported that the purported movement of “200,000 Israelis of Kurdish origin” to Kurdistan from Israel after independence, with previous motives being the attack of Egypt and Syria, would support the new state. There were some immigration in the past, thanks to the “goodwill” of US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, as well.

[8] Reuters Staff, “Hezbollah says Israel pushing region to war,” Oct 1, 2017. It is also worth recounting a 2003 article in the Jewish Telegraph Agency saying that “the war in Iraq has ended, and the Kurds in the country’s north emerge as one of the war’s great victors, liberating themselves from Saddam Hussein’s oppressive rule and declaring an independent state” with the top leaders of the Kurds “actually Jewish” with possible indications that “the nascent Kurdish country will forge a close alliance with Israel, giving the Jewish state another toehold in the Middle East and access to the oil riches of the Iraqi north.” One Kurdish website also adds that Israel is trying to take advantage of the Kurds by “colonizing Kurdistan,” with the Barzani family taking an “authoritarian” turn, abusing and stealing people’s wealth.

“A calamitous defeat”: Using Stalin to interpret the “Kurdistan” referendum

Some of the past borders of “Kurdistan” posed by bourgeois Kurdish nationalists, as noted in this map reprinted from “The Automatic Earth.”

Note:  This article was written in late October, so it is a bit dated, as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced on October 24 that they would “freeze the results of referendum conducted in the Iraqi Kurdistan” and Massoud Barzani stepped down on October 29. The abandonment of the referendum is evident because the KRG has clearly accepted the federal constitution of Iraq as the reality, rather than their failed “independence,” saying that the Kurdistan Region “wants to resolve its problems within the framework of the Iraqi constitution” especially after the Supreme Federal Court of Iraq ruled that no province or region of Iraq can secede. Saying all of this, this article, the first of a four-part series, never got published on Dissident Voice, partially because they had a lot of articles coming in and partially because I forgot about it, busy with other tasks. Rather than waiting on them once again, I think it is best to post it here. Enjoy!

In a recent article by Patrick Cockburn, a well-respected journalist for The Independent, he wrote about the Iraqi military’s effort to keep control of their borders and resist efforts for “Kurdish independence.” As Cockburn notes, as Iraqi military forces retook control of the oil-rich Kirkuk province, they faced “little resistance so far from the Peshmerga fighters,” with the dream of real independence slipping away as the Kirkuk oil wealth became under Iraqi control, as he further wrote. Adding to this, “Baghdad’s highly-trained and experienced Counter-Terrorism Force…drove unopposed to the quarter of Kirkuk occupied by…administration buildings” while the streets of the city were deserted, the Peshmerga abandoned their positions, and ethnic Turkmen reportedly celebrated takeover by the Iraqis. All in all, the success and speed of this victory against almost no Kurdish resistance is a “blow to President Masoud Barzani who ignited the present crisis” who held the referendum on “Kurdish independence” on September 25 and is seen as a “disastrous miscalculation” for him. This is because there are fundamentally, as Cockburn points out, “deep divisions between the Kurdish leaders and their parties” with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led for decades by Jalal Talabani, recently deceased. Part of the later group “opposed the independence referendum as a manoeuvre by Mr Barzani to present himself as the great Kurdish nationalist leader” while the US, officially, “strongly opposed the independence referendum” seeing it as divisive, along with regional powers like Iran and Turkey. More simply, the Kurdish leadership was clearly more “divided than expected” while Iraqi armed forces were stronger. At the same time, “Mr Barzani had alienated his traditional allies.”

The Kurdish national dream is over. As Reuters put it, the loss of territory such as Kirkuk is a “severe blow,” leading some to say that the referendum was premature since without control of that region, “independence is problematic, since they would be financially worse off than inside Iraq,” while the New York Times declared that “the Kurds themselves were divided…the Kurds may now have to defer their independence dreams.” Already the Kurdish leadership has proposed to engage in unconditional talks with Baghdad as some sources report.

How can we interpret this development? After all, as James M. Dorsey wrote in September, “if Myanmar’s Rohingya are the 21st century’s rallying cry of the Muslim world, the Kurds could be one of its major fault lines.” Taking that into consideration, it is worth using the words of Joseph Stalin on the principle of self-determination, within an appropriately Marxist context, in order to understand the conundrum of “independent Kurdistan,” and this referendum.

One declaration or the other by bourgeois scholars will not help anyone of sense interpret the dilemma of “Kurdistan.” Josef (or Joseph) Stalin wrote on varying topics to promote communism and advocate for a better world. One of those topics was self-determination and nations. Stalin gave a concrete definition of a nation. [1] In this section I aim to use the writings (and speeches) of Stalin to give a more radical analysis of “Kurdistan” as it currently stands.

One can examine at the Kurds as a prospective “nation.” Bourgeois authorities definite “Kurdistan” as a “geographic region” which is mainly inhabited by the Kurds, with an “extensive plateau and mountain area” across northern Iraq, western Iran, eastern Turkey, parts of northern Syria, and northern Armenia, covering a total of 74,000 square kilometers. Along with that, Jeffrey B. White of the “Defense” Intelligence Agency (DIA) declared that “Kurdistan” was a “political-geographic microclimate,” among others in the world, where there is a “continuous struggle” among the Kurdish population itself “based on tribal and family allegiances” but also an “ethnically based struggle against the Governments of Iraq and Turkey.”

Furthermore, the anti-communist entry in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, written in 1996, adds that “…Kurds staunchly retain a national self-consciousness” and focuses on certain Kurds, the Yezidis, who are “adherents of the syncretistic religion known as Yezidism” but also says that most Kurds are Muslim since Islam “spread among the Kurds in the seventh and eighth centuries.” The entry adds that “the Kurdish nation is justifiably proud of its extremely rich oral literature…many of which have achieved popularity among other peoples.” BBC News, in one of their many online “profiles” to “explain” the world, through their imperialistic lens, to their English-speaking audience, says that 25-25 million Kurds currently live in a “mountainous region straddling the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Armenia,” consisting the “fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East.” [2] The description adds that the Kurds are “indigenous people” of the highlands of the region and Mesopotamian basin, forming a “distinctive community, united trough race, culture and language” but have no “standard dialect,” adhering to a number of “different religions and creeds” although most are Sunni Muslims. Business Insider further claims the Kurds are currently “the largest stateless national group in the world” and says that while “Iraqi Kurdistan” is currently fully autonomous. [3] Additionally, they have expanded territory since Daesh “took over Mosul” with fears fueled in Iraq that “Kurdistan” would declare “itself a fully independent state” even though it currently “runs itself in much the same way an independent nation would.” Finally, one Kurdish site claims that Kurdish history has no “beginnings” because the Kurds are “native inhabitants,” the products of “thousands of years of continuous internal evolution and assimilation” while another claims that some time in the past Kurdistan was a “recognized geographical entity.”

Now, for such a wide region to be a considered a nation, it would need to meet the simple definition proposed by Stalin in his seven-chapter work, Marxism and the National Question, published in 1913. He defined a nation as the following:

“…A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture…a nation, like every historical phenomenon, is subject to the law of change, has its history, its beginning and end…none of the above characteristics taken separately is sufficient to define a nation”

Accepting what the bourgeois scholars say, as noted previously, the Kurdish people would seem to be “historically constituted,” have a language, culture, and territory that was common. However, it is hard to say how “stable” this community was over time, or what its economic life constituted as the years past, using the sources above. Perhaps the Kurds have a “common language,” hold a common territory from people living together in the same place “generation after generation,” but their “internal economic bond,” which ties together the parts of the nation is questionable. Furthermore, continuing to use Stalin’s words, he adds in his book that a nation must be a community of people which is not racial or “tribal” (ethnically comprised) but is rather “historically constituted” and is stable to an extent but not “casual or ephemeral.” It is within question of whether the Kurds are racial or ethnically comprised. While they seem to have a “specific spiritual complexion” or a “common psychological make-up,” which forms a common culture, if the Kurdish people are a community which constitutes a race or ethnicity, then they are not a nation as it currently exists.

However, there is an exception as Stalin outlines. If the bourgeois scholars are right, the Kurds seem to possess a common “national character” but are “economically disunited, inhibit different territories, [and] speak different languages.” Hence, people can have a common territory and common economic life but are not considered a nation because they do not have a common language or “national character.” At the same time, a union of people who think similarly and speak similarly, even if disconnected, can constitute a nation, with a “national character” based on a “common destiny.” The latter seems to apply to the Kurds. As Stalin wrote in 1904, in a piece outlining the view of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, “we want to demolish national barriers…Language is an instrument of development and struggle. Different nations have different languages…it is precisely in anticipation of such possible circumstances that the nationalities are accorded a right which will prompt them to strive to arrange their national affairs in accordance with their own wishes.”

Accepting what the bourgeois scholars said, for the time being, and using Stalin’s characteristics, seems to indicate that the Kurds are a nation. If we accept this as the reality, what action should be taken? Later in Marxism and the National Question, Stalin defines the “right of self-determination,” which is very logical, saying that it means

“…that only the nation itself has the right to determine its destiny, that no one has the right forcibly to interfere in the life of the nation, to destroy its schools and other institutions, to violate its habits and customs, to repress its language, or curtail its rights…the right of the nation itself to determine its own destiny…The right of self-determination means that a nation may arrange its life in the way it wishes. It has the right to arrange its life on the basis of autonomy. It has the right to enter into federal relations with other nations. It has the right to complete secession. Nations are sovereign, and all nations have equal rights…Nations have a right to arrange their affairs as they please; they have a right to preserve any of their national institutions, whether beneficial or harmful – nobody can…forcibly interfere in the life of a nation.”

Taking this as it may, Stalin adds that regional autonomy, which deals with “a definite population inhabiting a definite territory,” breaks down barriers, unites the population, and makes it possible to utilize a region’s national wealth. Hence, he says that regional autonomy serves as an “essential element” in the solution to the “national question” as is equal rights for all nations, the idea that workers are member of one class, part of a “united army of socialism” and the principle of “international solidarity of the workers.” While the above quote and description by Stalin seems to apply to the Kurds, and ultimately to “Kurdistan,” the reality is a bit more complicated.

Let’s give a little history first before moving into the current referendum. In their description quoted earlier, BBC claims that “after World War One and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the victorious Western allies made provision for a Kurdish state in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres.” The treaty does have a section titled “Kurdistan.” This would seem, at one glance, to be the endorsement by Western imperialists of a Kurdish state:

“A Commission sitting at Constantinople and composed of three members appointed by the British, French and Italian Governments respectively shall draft within six months from the coming into force of the present Treaty a scheme of local autonomy for the predominantly Kurdish areas lying east of the Euphrates, south of the southern boundary of Armenia as it may be hereafter determined, and north of the frontier of Turkey with Syria and Mesopotamia…If within one year from the coming into force of the present Treaty the Kurdish peoples…shall address themselves to the Council of the League of Nations in such a manner as to show that a majority of the population of these areas desires independence from Turkey, and if the Council then considers that these peoples are capable of such independence and recommends that it should be granted to them, Turkey hereby agrees to execute such a recommendation, and to renounce all rights and title over these areas…If and when such renunciation takes place…an independent Kurdish State of the Kurds inhabiting that part of Kurdistan [will be created]”

However, these provisions, in articles 62, 63, and 64 of the Treaty of Sevres, basically puts Kurdish “independence” at the mercy of the Western imperialists, going against any idea of self-determination. Even if this “independence” had been accepted, they would have been a vassal state of the global capitalist class, with each bourgeoisie working to get a piece in the “Kurdish” pie. For this to be touted as some official recognition of “Kurdistan” is short-sighted to say the least.

BBC then claims that the “hopes” for a “Kurdish state” were dashed when “the Treaty of Lausanne…made no provision for a Kurdish state and left Kurds with minority status in their respective countries.” The fact is, that this treaty does not mention the Kurds at all, not in Article 29 which talks about certain oppressed peoples in Turkey or within the section on nationality within Turkey, only saying later on that: “the Turkish Government undertakes to assure full and complete protection of life and liberty to all inhabitants of Turkey without distinction of birth, nationality, language, race or religion…All the inhabitants of Turkey, without distinction of religion, shall be equal before the law.” However, to say that “over the next 80 years, any move by Kurds to set up an independent state was brutally quashed” as BBC says next is not accurate in the sense that the Kurds did have allies in this effort and were not completely alone. They had allies among the Western capitalists and later among the Zionists, as will be mentioned later in this series.

While Stalin clearly lays out the definition of a nation and the concept of self-determination in Marxism and the National Question, he also says that certain forms of self-determination are not always the right thing for a nation based on certain conditions. This is despite the fact that he does not provide many exceptions to support for self-determination or writes about international solidarity as way to support self-determination, although he does so in other works. Stalin describes how the urban petty bourgeoisie in oppressed nations battle the big bourgeoisie in dominant nations, seeing the market as a place to learn their nationalism, appealing to the masses to rally behind their cause although workers continue to “combat the policy of national oppression in all its forms.” [4] He adds that the fate of a “national movement” in such circumstances is bound up in the fate of such bourgeoisie, saying that as a result national struggle can be reduced and undermined, rendered “as harmless as possible to the proletariat.” Even so, he says that “social democracy,” or what can be broadened to include all of those fighting imperialism and capitalism, do not have to support “every demand of a nation,” especially not the “trampling on the rights of all other nations.” He further adds that autonomy or separation in all circumstances should be “everywhere and always be advantageous for a nation” and the masses who toiling, nations arranged in a way that “will best correspond to the interests of the proletariat.” [5]

For the Kurds, the question remains if their “nation” would correspond with the interests of the proletariat in the region. This question is hard to answer on one hand because the Kurds are not currently asserting the creation of a state that covers Turkey, Syria, and northern Iraq, to name a few regions. Instead, the Kurds in Syria are asserting an illegal state in Rojava, the Kurds in Turkey have given up nationalistic aspirations, and the Kurds in northern Iraq voted for their own state of “Kurdistan”. In order to continue this analysis, let us suppose that the “Kurdistan” by itself, not including the Kurds in other parts of the Mideast is a nation and a state.

The biggest clue of the future trajectory of a possible “Kurdistan” in northern Iraq is the KRG’s 66-page-document titled “Kurdistan Region of Iraq 2020: A Vision for the Future.” This document declares there will be more social services, making liberals smile with glee at the “progressivism,” but it also says that companies should have more ability to exploit the resource riches in oil and natural gas (and even mineral resources) in the region. Interestingly, in citing past “struggles of the past” for “self-determination against hostile neighbors and…a hostile world” it notes how the UN gave sanction to the KRG in 1992, and that helped them overcome the Iraqis.[6] The document then begins to read like what would be said in a corporate boardroom:

“to capitalize on these [development] opportunities [in Kurdistan], young residents of Kurdistan will need to learn languages and information technology skills and become work and service oriented…to make part of their lives…a strong work ethic…[while] the government must relieve regulatory and legal barriers to the private sector”

The Western capitalists would definitely be cheering! While the vision says that the infant mortality and other health problems in Kurdistan can be addressed by having a “package of basic health services to be covered by public financing” but making people “pay for all other services” with and expanding “network of private sector hospitals.” This takes away the idea there will be any progressiveness in this plan at all. The following are the case in this plan:

    • a “social insurance system” but pushing for the creation of private insurance companies, developing the “private” health sector, and putting in place a system that benefits those who exploit people’s health for profit

    • embracing universal education, but supporting public-private partnerships to build schools, coordinate with the “private sector” on education, and limits on “bureaucracy”

    • supporting the development of NGOs, which only benefit imperialistic liberals in the West,

    • having a “flexible labor market” (benefiting employers), pushing for a more skilled workforce, “reforming” pensions and benefits, having unemployment insurance only for those in the non-public sector, and incorporating women more into the capitalist market

    • having efficient infrastructure in order to expand the “private sector,” economic development near airports in “free zones” for capitalistic exploitation, and more mass transit after working with big capitalists

    • having a robust water (and sewage) system, but only supporting alternative energy when it makes sense “financially” and expanding the electricity industry

    • spurring capitalistic investment in communication

    • having “concessions to real estate developers” in certain instances

    • allowing the creation of large farms

    • supporting access to land for petty bourgeoisie

    • pushing for openness to the international capitalist economy

    • creating “special development zones” to attract capitalists

    • completing privatization in the Kurdish economy

    • wanting to be open and transparent, but supporting the idea of bureaucratic “efficiency,” making sure “mobile capital” doesn’t leave the region

    • helping civil servants leave government jobs and enter capitalistic enterprises

Even if there are some positive policies put forward by the KRG which would impress progressives or “benefit” oppressed peoples, they are couched in capitalist logic. There are more aspects of the plan than what is listed above but from the ideas noted above it is clear that the plan itself has an underlying capitalistic basis. This should worry anyone and makes you think: how progressive would an “independent” “Kurdistan” really be? This seems to indicate it would be a capitalistic paradise in more ways than one. This means that “Kurdistan” in northern Iraq would certainly not correspond to the “interests of the proletariat” instead currying the favor of up-and-coming Kurdish bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie of Western capitalist states. This does not make “Kurdistan” a socialist nation by any stretch, which Stalin defined as ones which pushed for elimination of capitalistic, nationalistic, and national oppressive elements, with “a united front with all oppressed and unequal nations in the struggle against the policy of annexation and wars of annexation,” led by the working class and an internationalist party. Instead, “Kurdistan” sounds more like a bourgeois nation in the making, not at the level of France, Britain, Italy, and the US, which Stalin put in this category, which fosters “national distrust, national isolation, national enmity and national conflicts,” with the bourgeoisie and nationalistic parties pushing for territorial expansion, hatred of other nations, a “suppression of national minorities [and a clear]….united front with imperialism.”

In 1917, at the Seventh Conference of the Bolsheviks, Stalin expanded on what he wrote in Marxism and the National Question. He defined the term “national oppression” and said that this conception, as manifested in capitalist states, should be opposed by his fellow comrades:

“National oppression is the system of exploitation and robbery of oppressed peoples, the measures of forcible restriction of the rights of oppressed nationalities, resorted to by imperialist circles…national oppression is maintained not only by the landed aristocracy…[but by] the imperialist groups”

Now, those in northern Iraq’s “Kurdistan” are arguing that they are being oppressed, basically, by the Iraqi state, and by extension the Iranian state, Syrian state, and Turkish state, all of which strongly oppose an independent “Kurdistan.” This is thrown into question considering that none of these states is imperialistic. Each of them has justified reasons for opposing an independent “Kurdistan,” other than the Turkish state. The latter is inherently anti-Kurd, has their own bourgeoisie, and wants to overthrow the duly elected government of the socially democratic state, the Arab Republic of Syria. As for the Iraqi, Syrian, and Iranian states, they rightly see the U.S. and other Western imperialists exploiting the situation to establish a firmer foothold and “balkanize” the region, leading to chaos of the highest order. It does not seem right to say that the states in the region are engaging in “national oppression” against the Kurds, except perhaps the Turks.

As for “Kurdistan” in northern Iraq, it could be said that while the Kurds have the right to self-determination and can secede freely, this does not mean they should “necessarily secede at any given moment,” with the decision on whether or not to secede up to “the party of the proletariat in each particular case.” Furthermore, Stalin is right when he says that imperialism should be the common enemy of all since, after all, imperialists use brutal methods with “enslaved nationalities.” Still, he does say when “particular nations” secede, to decide their “political destiny,” this should be generally supported while recognizing that this right of succession is not an obligation, only done in “accordance with the interests of the proletariat, of the proletarian revolution.” Hence, he argues that the question of whether to secede or not should be determined on a case-by-case basis, with the “the right of secession…not be confused with the expediency of secession in any given circumstances.” Taking this into account, it means that not every nationalist movement or every declaration of self-determination should be supported, especially if the effort is not the result of a “proletarian revolution” or would not favor the working class at large. [7]

There is further context worth considering here. In 1924, in his book, The Foundations of Leninism, Stalin talked about self-determination once again. In Chapter 6 of this book, he wrote specifically about “the national question.” After talking about how Leninism expands the conception of self-determination to become the “right of the oppressed peoples of the dependent countries and colonies to complete secession,” he said that annexations is not a form of self-determination, meaning that this principle can become an instrument for “exposing all imperialist aspirations and chauvinist machinations…an instrument for the political education of the masses in the spirit of internationalism.” He further added that this principle leads to “real and continuous” support to oppressed nations with “in their struggle against imperialism for real equality of nations, for their independent existence as states.” This was foreshadowing the support of anti-colonial and anti-capitalist movements throughout Africa and Asia, against White imperialists, in years to come. [8]

Notes

[1] He also says that every nation has the right of secession or autonomy, with national autonomy’s starting point is the “conception of a nation as a union of individuals without regard to a definite territory,” while self-determination gives a state “complete rights.” Even so, he says that national autonomy is against the “whole course of development of nations,” may be unsuitable in the future, and leads to nationalism.

[2] BBC, “Who are the Kurds?,” BBC News, Mar 14, 2016.

[3] Jeremy Bender, “Here’s The New Kurdish Country That Could Emerge Out Of The Iraq Crisis,” Business Insider, Jun 19, 2014.

[4] Stalin specifically describes how nations are a “historical category” within the “epoch of rising capitalism.” Hence, conditions change on what path is right for a nation, with the “solution of the national question” relating to historical, “economic, political and cultural conditions” of the nation at that’s time. For further analysis, a dialectical approach is necessary, as he notes.

[5] He also argues that the “harmful institutions of nations and against the inexpedient demands of nations” should be combated and agitated against. Specifically, he says that “national oppression” needs to be fought as part of liberation of humankind from the oppressive system of capitalism.

[6] They also cite the 1920 treaty of Sevres as a Kurdish “victory” (it really wasn’t), along with the 1958 Constitution of Iraq which stated, in article 3, that “Arabs and Kurds are considered partners” in Iraq, as another “victory,” an agreement on autonomy in 1970, and Iraq government attacks from 1974 to 1991 as a “dark time.”

[7] This connects with a speech Stalin gave to the Third All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies the following year. He said that the Soviet government supported the “right of all nations of self-determination” and that this principle should be interpreted as a right which applies to the “labouring masses of the given nation” and not a bourgeoisie. He adds that this principle should be a “means in the struggle for socialism and should be subordinated to the principles of socialism.” Once again, this is an important point when it comes to supporting (or not) efforts of self-determination around the world.

[8] He also argued that “…the road to victory of the revolution in the West lies through the revolutionary alliance with the liberation movement of the colonies and dependent countries against imperialism…the necessity for the proletariat of the “dominant” nations to support-resolutely and actively to support-the national liberation movement of the oppressed and dependent peoples [is evident]…the revolutionary character of a national movement under the conditions of imperialist oppression does not necessarily presuppose the existence of proletarian elements in the movement…the national movement of the oppressed countries should be appraised…from the point of view of the actual results…of the struggle against imperialism…Without such a struggle it is inconceivable that the proletariat of the oppressed nations can maintain an independent policy and its class solidarity with the proletariat of the ruling countries in the fight for the overthrow of the common enemy, in the fight for the overthrow of imperialism.”

Armed resistance, “gun control,” and inherent capitalist violence

Reprinted from anti-imperialism.org and written by yours truly. Since I’ve written  this article, on February 28, the orange menace has engaged in his own political gymnastics acting like he endorses gun control, then backing of and siding with the NRA. Additionally, he has, as noted by varied news outlets, openly called for the killing of drug dealers. I’ve also read a number of other articles, one talking about how the Second Amendment ties back to settler colonialism, White supremacy and  slavery, with others noting how guns have been helpful for self-defense of Blacks over the years, and another asking that if police can’t protect the public, then what are they good for, anyway? These are all good food for thought.

The bourgeois media in the U$, “a garrison of armed citizens,” has been talking incessantly about the Valentine’s Day Massacre by Nikolas Cruz in Florida which some have called “state-sponsored domestic terrorism” or a “major abuse of human rights.” There have been articles sent off every day on this subject, so many that I can’t even summarize them all in this article. Conservative media have directly attacked the armed deputy who was “assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” Scot Peterson, as a “coward” for not entering the building to stop the shooting (which he reportedly thought was outside) while possibly four other deputies also did nothing to stop the violence. [1] Peterson has resigned since then, with others declaring saying that the sheriff of Broward County, Scott Israel, is “a hack politician whose primary concern is protecting his own political reputation and little fief” and saying this why “we don’t trust our public institutions.” This criticism also focused on the fact that Broward County received many calls “concerning Cruz” while the FBI failed to act on a tips it “received about shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz.” As such, 73 Republicans in Florida called for Sheriff Steve Israel to be suspended (which was happily reprinted by the progressive media outlet, Mother Jones with little comment) by the state’s governor, Rick Scott, who has already launched an official investigation of the response of law enforcement to the shooting itself. This echoes the calls from conservation publications like the National Review and some survivors of the shooting calling for Israel’s resignation. These views are understandable considering that sheriff’s deputies “responded to at least 45 calls about the shooter before the shooting” but still took no action.

Responses to the Valentine’s Day Massacre and analysis

With this, there have been two responses. For one, conservatives, U$ House Republican leaders, the NRA (with a “large, ideologically committed membership” as one conservative publication put it) and their lackeys, like the orange menace (Trump) who is exploiting the tragedy for his own gain, have called for more guns in schools, specifically that teachers be armed, which has been widely panned by progressives, and the general population, for good reason. [2] They also rail against gun-free zones in schools and inherently support further militarization of schools, declaring the liberals are “gun grabbers, saying the media has a “liberal bias” and “loves” mass shootings, and declaring they have the “facts” about gun use, even citing Bob Dylan to support their distorted arguments while laughing at liberals. The reality is that the bourgeois media will profit regardless in such a capitalist society and don’t “love” the shootings as not even bourgeois journalists are subhuman enough to have such beliefs. Still, it is worth pointing out that CNN held a town hall about gun violence, which at minimum raised their stature while the surviving family who was part of it sent doctored emails about the CNN town hall to varied outlets. The liberal response, trumpeted by progressive media, is not much better. They, apart from criticizing hypocritical conservatives, like one that reportedly owned a rifle factory but blamed video games on the shooting, have pushed for further gun control. Over 150 Democrats in the House of Representatives have co-sponsored a bill which would ban on semi-automatic “assault weapons,” with some conservatives call it a “non-ban” because “assault weapons” is a broadly defined term, which comprises “205 specific firearms that are prohibited, including the AK-47 and AR-15,” leading to further pressure on Congress. At the same time, many firms are dropping their endorsement of the NRA as liberals cheer at their “victory” which will be further enhanced with the upcoming march on March 24th in Washington, D.C., called “March for Our Lives,” organized by a student-led organization named Never Again MSD, while it is co-sponsored by the gun control organization, Everytown for Gun Safety (formerly Mayors Against Illegal Guns), led by former cop-defending NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The march, according to their website, has a mission statement arguing for school safety and reducing gun violence, is followed by other actions across the country. This new push is mainly led by young people, even though they are not more “liberal” on gun control than those of other ages, especially those who are students, some of whom were survivors of the shooting. Of course, these individuals seem to not grasp, by pushing for gun control, that there is seldom “ever any one single cause for such an outrageous act of violence as a mass murder, especially when aimed at school children” with environmental and emotional causes.

This shooting should be no surprise: violence is inherent to the society of the murderous empire, just as it is to capitalist society in general. For the murderous empire, it is expressed through the white supremacist who is running for the U$ Senate in Washington State, the orange menace declaring that he wants to execute drug dealers just like fascist (and anti-communist) Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte or domestic violence in homes across the country, among many other forms of violence. [3] As one writer, Jay Janson, put it, “violence and heroic gun play is in the air children breath in the USA” since members of the military are “hailed in US media as heroic for ‘serving their country’ in other peoples countries” with the NRA having “a financial interest in the sale and proliferation of guns,” adding that “most Americans, or at least those addicted to their TV screens, might not see what the Third World and even America’s European allied peoples see clearly… the Third and Second World see that the seventeen mercilessly slain in Florida last week were the result of American fire power backfiring on its own kids and teachers.” He ended by saying that everyone “should try to end the era of colonial genocide earlier than it will end in any case,” closing by saying that “the human species…will soon end this period of profitable genocide for a relatively small group of insane speculative investment bankers of Western de-civilization.” It is my hope that happens, although I’m not always as optimistic or share his view of China leading the world out of an era of Western “colonial imperialism,” as he calls it, for one, and secondly feel that his analysis is not completely in keeping with radical principles.

As it always happens in the discourse about guns, it goes back to the Second Amendment of the U$ Constitution: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Some have declared that this amendment has “no practical value in thinking about gun control,” saying that the debate over firearms is not between those in favor of gun rights or gun control, but about “what kind of controls and restrictions of firearms are right and proper” with the U$ government having the “right” to hold certain arms for military use since the Western Pennsylvania rebellion of 1794, falsely called the “Whiskey Rebellion” after the moniker adopted by aristocrat Alexander Hamilton, with self-proclaimed militias having, in his view, no “basis in the Constitution.” This same author bloviated that “hiding behind the Second Amendment to advocate few or no restrictions on firearms is a nasty scam and misunderstanding of American history. Others said that the magical, mystical “founding fathers” (a conception which is racist and patronizing) didn’t give people the “right” to bear arms. Such views, as one would expect, do not take in the full picture, the reality of the situation.

Recently, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA spoke to CPAC, where he complained about Karl Marx taught on college campuses and declared that “students are even earning academic credit for promoting socialist causes” (which I doubt), while implying that such students favor gun confiscation, while ignoring the U$ Constitution and U$ history, in his distorted view. The reality is very different. Despite what LaPierre said, the reality is that communists are not, by in large, supporters of gun control. Just take a post on a Marxist-Leninist tumblr, as an example. This individual, Steff Yorek, opposed the NRA as a “vile, racist, reactionary organization,” was proud of students taking “reins of leadership,” opposing arming of teachers, turning schools into “prisons or military installations,” and putting more school resource officers in schools because it will disproportionately effect Black, indigenous, and Chican@ kids. At the same time, he wrote that he believed in the “right to bear arms and the right to community self-defense are democratic rights and I want to expand democratic rights not shrink them,” adding that the growing anti-fascist, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist group (founded in June 2016 as a “community defense formation” and working to reclaim the word “redneck”), Redneck Revolt assisted in evacuating a church in Charlottesville during White supremacist violence. This is forgotten by those who say that the U$ should follow the path of the Chinese and institute gun control.

A short history of armed resistance in the U$ and analysis of the current “gun culture”

Echoing this, I return to my articles on gun control and armed resistance, as it worth summarizing the history I put forward there. In the first article, I wrote that gun laws have been “interlinked with racism and racial politics,” noting that the first targets were enslaved Blacks but also included “farmers and dispossessed revolutionary war veterans” to prevent them from revolting, in the 1790s and 1820s, with such laws as a form of social control. I also noted that for Blacks who were enslaved, guns were “an important and vital tool (one of many tools) of resistance against their chains of human bondage,” adding that they were used to “protect against violent White supremacists, police, and terrorist vigilantes” with these use of guns feared by brutal slaveowner Thomas Jefferson, among others, while armed White men in slave patrols went around to maintain order and keep enslaved Blacks in their “place,” with their prohibition ruled as still legal in the South, and cited in the Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) case as a reason to not give Blacks their full rights. I further added that many of those pushing for abolitionism said that guns were necessary to help Blacks become free, with Harriet Tubman carrying a firearm, while southern Blacks used weapons to defend themselves against racist Whites and White terrorist groups during the Reconstruction. The Supreme Court during the Reconstruction effectively dismantled the 14th Amendment (it was only restored in the 1960s), allowing the “forcible disarmament of free Blacks” and basically “imposing White supremacy…throughout the American South” which did not occur without resistance. In the years to follow, W.E.B. Du Bois of the NAACP defended himself with a gun and championed armed self-defense as a duty of individuals, a position held by other NAACP members and declared often in the organization’s publication, The Crisis. This right to self-defense was later manifested by a Black sharecropper, Pink Franklin, in 1910, Sgt. Edgar Caldwell in 1918 Ossian Sweet in 1925, all of whom were supported by the NAACP, with Black capitalist and Black nationalist Marcus Garvey, despite his faults (like his claim that communism would only benefit White people, calling it a “dangerous theory of economic and political reformation” which puts power in the hands of ignorant White masses), strongly believing in armed self-defense of Blacks. Jumping forward many years, after the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896 which legalized racial segregation in the U$ South, handgun permit and gun registration laws were enacted by varied Southern states, with gun control laws expanding to encompass social control of Whites, Blacks, and other marginalized groups, such as Mexican and Chinese immigrants. The latter was manifested by the Sullivan Act which passed in New York State in 1911. As for the NRA, it promoted gun laws, “embedded with racism,” in the Northern U$, passed in response to “urban gun violence and crime often pegged on immigrants, especially those from Italy and Eastern Europe.” The Harvard-educated lawyer heading the NRA, Karl Frederick, drafted model legislation to “restrict concealed carry of firearms in public” which later led to the 1934 National Firearms Act. Adding further to the history, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), before it was corrupted by revisionists, mobilized mass support for the Scottsboro Boys and other dispossessed individuals, having an organization of armed self-defense as they prepared workers for battles in the 1930s, with sharecroppers in the South engaging in pitched armed battles across Alabama in 1931, 1932, and 1935.

Fast forward to the 1950s. By this time, no new gun control legislation had been passed, dedicated Black comrade, Paul L. Robeson, threatened that Blacks would “exercise their right of armed self-defense” if Truman didn’t sign anti-lynching legislation, a threat not based in thin air, with Robeson hounded by the FBI for his strong communist and Marxist views for years, with the Civil Rights Congress, which he was involved with, charging the U$ with genocide in 1951. Robeson traveled abroad after 1958 (when his passport was renewed) and didn’t return to the U$ until 1963, dying 13 years later in 1976. Apart from Robeson, Martin Luther King, Jr., “took measures to protect himself,” with his home as an arsenal of guns and protected by armed guards, as he even applied for a “concealed carry permit, under a law that the NRA had promoted thirty years earlier” in 1956 but his “application was rejected.” Around the same time, Robert F. Williams was beginning his activism for Black freedom. After many years of activism, heading a NAACP branch in Monroe, North Carolina, in May 1959, after a Monroe court acquitted a “white man for the attempted rape of a black woman,” he declared that justice in the courts cannot be expected from Blacks, saying that they must “convict his attackers on the spot. He must meet violence with violence, lynching with lynching.” Of course, this caused a lot of controversy, but he clarified it by saying that if the U$ Constitution could not be enforced, Blacks need to “defend themselves even if it is necessary to resort to violence,” adding that there is no law in the South, and no need to “take the white attackers to the courts because they will go free” while the federal government is “not coming to the aid of people who are oppressed,” adding that Black men should “stand up and be men and if it is necessary for us to die we must be willing to die. If it is necessary for us to kill we must be willing to kill.” That was a strong statement then, and would be a strong statement now. Apart from heading the NAACP branch, he organized, with his wife Mable, and other community members, a rifle club, called the Black Armed Guard, to defend the community from “attacks by the KKK, with the base of the club coming from the NAACP branch that Robert led” and while Black men “dominated the new club, some Black women were members, and the club’s actions were broadly a success” and even using guns to defend Freedom Riders. Robert would later, with his family, live in Cuba to escape a “kidnapping” charge imposed on him by the FBI, later arguing for racial internationalism even as he shied away from Marxism and the then-revisionist CPUSA disliked him, drawing Robert closer to the Trotskyists. Later, he moved with his family to the People’s Republic of China in 1965, where he stayed in exile until 1969 and was pardoned of his “crimes” in 1975.

As the years passed, armed self-defense was advocated by even more people in the Black community, with field organizers in the South standing against racial segregation were often protected by armed farmers and workers, with Robert Moses in SNCC saying in 1964 that “it’s not contradictory for a farmer to say he’s nonviolent and also pledge to shoot a marauder’s head off, “with James Foreman admitting the same year that “I dare say that 85 per cent of all Negroes do not adhere to non-violence. They are allowing the non-violent movement to go ahead because it is working.” Other groups saw such protection as necessary as they refused to “publicly criticize the use of armed self-defense,” even including Martin Luther King. Others noted that gunfire and the threat of gunfighter helped nonviolence, with the latter not a “way of life for many in the southern Black community” as many households had guns, with “armed supporters protecting field organizers.” By this time, radical Black activists who believed in varied “forms of Black liberation and Black nationalism,” splitting from the bourgeois civil rights movement, including those such as Malcolm X, among others. This was expressed even by the pro-China Progressive Labor Movement, saying that “Black people…must develop political power outside of the present power apparatus through armed self-defense, political councils, the creation of an economic base, seizing land and factories and…uniting with all workers struggling for revolution” and Malcolm X calling for Black rifle clubs while he threatened Lew Rockwell with “maximum physical retaliation” if MLK and his fellow demonstrators were harmed. Sadly, on February 21, 1965, the Nation of Islam, likely with the “help of the NYPD, CIA, and FBI,” gunned down Malcolm X.

Other than Malcolm X, there was a group called the Deacons for Defense and Justice. This group “defended civil rights workers against attacks from the KKK and other White supremacists,” using masculinist appeals, expanding across the Deep South, with Black women participating informally and individually, defending their homes with armed force, but not directly in the group itself. This group, “roughly active from 1964 to 1968” helped the civil rights movement move forward, by allowing this movement “to have victories in the Deep South,” and without the Deacons protecting civil rights workers, “it would have been harder to push for such laws,” like the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, “regardless of how much they accomplished in retrospect.” While the Progressive Labor Party (PLP), earlier called the Progressive Labor Movement, saw the Watts rebellion (in 1966) as unorganized and facing tremendous odds, saying that people “liberated their own community and kept out the police,” while advocating for “self-defense organizations to help them organize to defend themselves,”Martin Luther King did not agree, even as he saw “riots” as the “language of the unheard.” The same year, in October, a group founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP), came onto the scene in Oakland. It centered around the idea of armed self-defense and a whole program of self-defense with demands for basic needs and a program to unfold into socialist revolution, inspired by the efforts of Robert and Malcolm X, using guns as self-protection, carrying them “in public and displaying them for everyone, especially for the local police to see.” At the same time, they pushed the belief that “the gun would be a way to gain liberation,” with recruits “taught about socialism and Black nationalism,” as they famously “electrified the nation and brought gun control back into the picture” in 1967 with a “number of Panthers, with loaded weapons, went to the state legislature in Sacramento” to oppose a gun control law, the Mulford Act, which was supported by the NRA! Bobby Seale read a statement by Huey Newton saying that the Black Panthers opposed such legislation “aimed at keeping the Black people disarmed and powerless at the very same time that racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror, brutality, murder and repression of Black people,” adding that “repression, genocide, terror and the big stick” is the policy of the empire, arguing that “the time has come for Black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.” The following year, in 1968, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act and the Gun Control Act were passed, laying the foundation for “existing carceral state” with the latter law clearly about controlling Blacks, and was again supported by the NRA!

In the years to follow, armed self-defense continued to be important for marginalized groups. The Republic of New Afrika (RNA) formed in 1968, and lasting until 1971, aimed to create a Black nation in the South, along the “Black Belt” of the country, having a group of young Black men with rifles for self-defense and had “armed women serving as security for the RNA’s Land Celebration Day in 1971.” In the Black Panther newspaper, the publication of the Black Panther Party, Emory Douglas drew varied illustrations showing “poor black women resisting authority in everyday life” especially women with guns and being “equals with men,” with such ideas later leading to a split in the Party, with the creation of the Black Liberation Army (BLA). As for the White establishment, Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern, Ramsey Clark, and the National Violence Commission all supported gun control, while hardliners led by Harlon Carer took control of the NRA in May 1977 in a coup ousting Maxwell Rich. The latter action changed the NRA into a “pro-gun powerhouse and juggernaut where mistrust of law enforcement was one of the main beliefs” which was echoed by Republicans while Blacks embraced gun control due to increased violence in urban areas. Still, there were some groups which continued to support armed self-defense, and armed resistance such as a “Revolutionary Union” group in Detroit, the Brown Berets, a Chican@ nationalist organization, advocating for armed self-defense and armed struggle, as part of their anti-capitalist viewpoint, as necessary tools for liberation,” other Black radicals, and those fighting against White supremacist violence with strength. Specifically, in the later 1970s, the phrase “Death to the Klan” was spread across the U$, with some left-wing groups supporting “militant, anti-racist opposition to the Klan” by organizing within unions and against racism in varied communities. The result was the Greensboro Massacre in 1979 where Nazis, as the police and federal authorities looked the other way, opened fire on these left-wing activists, resulting in many deaths. Other groups supporting such methods included the United League in North Mississippi which “organized the masses, engaging in armed self-defense” and took “precautions against Klan threats,” with other groups coming out of the efforts by left-wing groups to oppose the Klan, especially among the Puerto Rican and Black communities. Since the 1980s, there has not been any organized efforts of armed self-defense until very recently, as I noted in my next article.

In the next part of the series, I specifically focused on gun control in the murderous empire. I wrote that indigenous peoples heroically resisted White European settlers but they were suppressed due to a superiority of weapons among the former, adding that armed resistance “has been an effective form of self-defense,” especially since the “long history of racial domination” in the Americas for Black people (1510-2018), beginning on January 22, 1510, noting the ahistorical arguments by gun rights supporters and by those for gun control, with the latter disregarding “the fact that enslaved Blacks gained guns during the Civil War and due to evasion of gun control laws, allowing them to engage in armed resistance.” I also pointed out that apart from the Deacons, Black Panthers, and Brown Berets (a new version formed in 1993), there are other groups, historically such as the Young Lords among the Puerto Rican Community, the Young Patriots, and the American Indian Movement (still existing). At the present, I pointed out that the Nation of Islam has armed wings for men and women, while also highlighting the Red Guards in Texas, Brothas Against Racist Cops, Redneck Revolt (including the John Brown Gun Club), the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, with other groups I listed not seeming to be that active. [4] After talking about recent developments on gun rights, such as the District of Columbia v. Heller, and McDonald v. Chicago cases, I noted that Antonin Scalia in the majority decision in the latter decision arguing that “the Fourteenth Amendment contemplated guns rights because it was based on the Civil Rights Act of 1866.” This is interestingly enough, correct, as a Black Code enacted by Mississippi in November 1865 worked to restrict gun and weapon use, while the Second Freedman’s Bill passed the same year said that states should honor the “constitutional right of bearing arms” saying that it cannot be “refused or denied to negroes, mulattoes, freedmen, refugees, or any other persons, on account of race, [or] color” and likely influencing the 1868 Mississippi Constitution which declared that “all persons shall have a right to keep and bear arms for their defense.”

After highlighting gun clubs and debate over guns, I noted that some asked if it as “time to start resisting police with violence.” With this, I highlighted that “firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense” and said that “guns can frighten and intimidate” which is part of self-defense, even quoting a liberal who argued against gun laws saying that they contribute, like other criminal laws, to Black incarceration. As such, I focused on a group for Black gun owners called the National African American Gun Association, protests with guns by the problematic “New Black Panther Party” (which do not legitimately hold claim to the name), a group called the Liberal Gun Club, comprises of “gun-owning liberals and moderates,” and still-existing group called the Pink Pistols, which argues against gun control, argues that there is a connection between “gay rights and gun rights.” The latter group is a self-defense group for non-binary folks (often called LGBTQ+) which was founded in 2000 with the idea that “armed queers don’t get bashed,”filing court cases on their behalf. Additionally I noted that some had floated the idea of Communist Gun Clubs and argued that “we should not reject those in the heartland of the United States who may oppose fracking but also strongly believe in their right to have firearms” as an example. I also added that gun laws, as they stand now, “contribute to the white supremacist order” with such laws connected a “correctional control” in the country as a whole, saying that as a practical measure, funding for mental health programs should be increased, while adding that gun laws don’t “help protect marginalized communities, arguably disarming them at most, or weakening their protection at minimum.” I also quoted a person on the “Left” as saying that the right of “necessary self-defense against oppressive force” should be recognized with a gun culture on the Left, arguing that “guns are a small business in the US at large,” and saying that “gun control won’t bring us to a humane society.” This same writers noted that Eugene Debs called for guns after the Ludlow Massacre to “protect from Rockefeller’s assassins,” the story of armed miners “in Harlan Country in the 1930s,” and urban labor unions providing “armed protection,” even as he rejected the “right-wing’s fetishization of brute force” without a doubt.

From there, I noted that due to the fact that society of the empire is “racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise bigoted,” it would be “criminal and irresponsible to fight for gun control” because anyone considered “a “minority” in current society, should have the right to defend themselves with arms as necessary” since this is claimed by White, straight men, so it is only logical that others in society should have this right, in order to “fight off bigots.” I further added that a revolution cannot be fought with “flowers and sayings, but political power” and said that “gun control, if decided as necessary, should happen after a socialist revolution, not before it.” Adding to this, I said that armed self-defense “cannot occur as effectively with gun control measures in place,” adding that “the focus on gun control should be removed from the equation, with other approaches instead, which are more effective.” After that, I cited the writings of Karl Marx, who argued in 1850 for organizing and arming the proletariat “with rifles, guns, and ammunition” with the proletariat under no pretext giving “up their arms and equipment” with any “attempt at disarmament must be forcibly resisted,” and those of Vladimir Lenin who argued for “special bodies of armed men,” even saying at one point that “only an armed people can be a real stronghold of national freedom…the sooner the proletariat succeeds in arming itself, and the longer it maintain its position of striker and revolutionary, the sooner the soldiers will at last begun to understand what they are doing, they will go over to the side of the people.” With this I concluded that guns can be a tool to “allow socialist revolution to succeed,” noting that guns can “be used for malevolent ends” but can also “be used to allow socialist revolution to succeed.” From there, I analyzed the Second Amendment, arguing that the amendment says that “militia units in states should be well-regulated for the purposes of securing the State…but also declares that “the people” which means the whole population of the US…have the right to “keep and bear Arms” interpreting the word “arm” to apply to “ALL weapons, not just guns” meaning that people have the “right to defend themselves with “fists, feet, stones, bricks, blades, and gasoline firebombs”” apart from just guns. I ended the article by saying that rather than “waiting” for revolution there must be action at the present “against the threats that face this planet and its people, even when one should do so without illusion, whatever form that takes offline or online.”

A radical way forward

There is no doubt, as Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz argues, the murderous empire has a gun culture because of the tradition of “killing, looting, burning, raping, and terrorizing Indians” as inherent to the murderous empire itself, even before the Constitutional Convention. Dunbar-Ortiz, who notes that Richard Hofstadter coined the term “gun culture,” adds that the Second Amen dent specifically gave “individuals and families the right to form volunteer militias to attack Indians and take their land” with later, slave patrols drawn from these very militias! She added that the main problem with the current gun debate is that neither side, those for gun control or those for gun rights, don’t wish to admit what the “Second Amendment was originally about and why its sanctity has persisted” as she argues, in a new book (Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment) that the Second Amendment is “key to understanding the gun culture of the United States,” and key to a new consciousness about the “linger effects of settler-colonialism and white nationalism,” with a necessary reflection needed on “how the violence it [the Amendment] has spawned has deeply influenced the character of the United States.” There is no doubt she is right. There’s more to what’s happening now than what is declared in think pieces by liberals or conservatives. While is is valid that the Second Amendment was part of an effort by the South “determined to ensure that slave owners could pursue runaways.

There is more as is states the column by self-declared socialist, but really liberal-at-heart, Chris Hedges. In his piece, he says that proliferation of guns in the murderous empire benefits gun manufacturers but  “fools the disempowered into fetishizing weapons as a guarantor of political agency,” saying that gun ownership is “largely criminalized for poor people of color, is a potent tool of oppression,” saying it is “an instrument of tyranny,” saying that “mass culture and most historians do not acknowledge the patterns of violence that have played out over and over since the founding of the nation.” He adds that a gun, as it stands in the U$, “reminds Americans that they are divine agents of purification, anointed by God and Western civilization to remake the world in their own image” with American “vigilantes are the shock troops of capitalism” and gun ownership being the “fear by white people of the black and brown underclass, an underclass many whites are convinced will threaten them as society breaks down” with guns rarely deployed against the state, as the gun, in his summary, “seems to be the last tangible relic of a free and mythic America.” He ends by saying that attacks on gun violence and gun culture is seen “by many gun owners as an attack on their national identity” with the almost always White Male lone killer “celebrated by Hollywood and in our national myth.”

Hedges makes a good point, as does Dunbar-Ortiz. However, Hedges seems to whitewash any history of armed resistance by the oppressed over U$ history, likely because of his beliefs in “peaceful” revolution, a laughable concept if I ever heard one. In terms of gun violence, there is a better way forward, which is not posed by Hedges. One can, as a start, push for the banning of “ROTC from public schools,” against expanded military recruitment, and further militarization. This obviously will not address gun violence at its root. That would require, all armaments should be taken away from the capitalist state and its armed forces. This includes the military, police forces, and any other forces of terror in society as a whole. Some may say this is impossible in a capitalist society as the bourgeoisie would never allow this, which is the reality. As such, there would need to be a revolution in the empire, as it splinters and explodes into different pieces, benefiting the world as a whole, giving an opportunity for the proletariat, allowing these weapons to be taken away. Of course, this cannot be imposed from above, and has to be a process of working with the proletariat itself, as anything but this approach would be fundamentally elitist and betray efforts to build a revolution. Taking this into account, calls for taking or limiting guns used by the populace, the latter favored more by liberals than seizure of guns, which is an inherent aspect of gun control, is a death nail to revolution and brings with it more social control without question, increasing the already strong system of mass incarceration in the U$ which liberals only flit about with “reforms” of prisons, rather than favoring efforts at abolition. It is only after a socialist revolution was completed that gun control could be implemented, as it was in Cuba or in Juche Korea, to give two examples of countries under imperialist attack.

This may seem all too fantastical for some, however those people don’t see the full picture. There is no doubt that many gun owners are well-off White Males who live in rural areas (and smaller urban areas), with 3% of the population owning nearly half of the country’s guns, having them mainly for “protection,” and do not have any revolutionary feelings or much developed class consciousness. These are the same people who broadly favorrepressive agencies such as the FBI, and CIA, among varied other government agencies, even as they feel the government helps the wealthy more than any other group in society. With that, there is slight dissatisfaction with current gun laws. As such, in the current situation of the empire, those with guns will not magically join up a revolution against capitalism and wave a red flag like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, before he was beat up by the police. Instead, the development of a revolution in the murderous empire would take time and organization, perhaps with soviets like the one put together by the Party of Socialism and Liberation last year, or those endorsed by the Venezuelan Communist Party, as I read recently in their publication, Popular Tribune.

While my opinions are still developing as I learn more about varied topics, writing about issues relating directly to the murderous empire and efforts at resisting imperialism in other corners of the world whether it be Palestine or Juche Korea, I continue to stand strongly against capitalism in all its forms and in solidarity with all those resisting it, not any flunkeys like the so-called “revolutionary” Kurds of Rojava who are utter posers. Violence is inherent to the murderous empire and it has been that way since its legal creation in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris, and from 1607 until that point, as the White English settled their part of the North American continent, creating another colony of the British empire, while the Spanish, French, and Dutch also staked out their claims, expanding their imperialist systems. While a revolution to bring down the murderous empire is developed, all efforts of armed resistance should be supported while typical “nonviolent methods” still has some value in social movements, but not as much as it used to have. After all, there should be a diversity of tactics that are used. The same goes for supporting all those being oppressed by the capitalist poles of power in the world and all of those who appease these poles of power.


Notes

[1] “Scot Peterson: ‘Patently untrue’ that he failed to meet standards during Parkland school shooting,” Associated Press (reprinted in conservative Washington Times), Feb 26, 2018; Rich Lowry, “The Broward County Sheriff Is Everything That’s Wrong with American Authority,” National Review, Feb 27, 2018; Laurel Wamsley, “Broward Sheriff Under Scrutiny For Handling Of Parkland Shooting,” NPR, Feb 26, 2018; “Florida Sheriff Denies Claims That 4 Deputies Were on Scene During School Shooting,” Associated Press (reprinted by Atlanta Black Star), Feb 25, 2018; Editors of the National Review, “Broward’s Cowards,” National Review, Feb 25, 2018; Christian Datoc, “Parkland Survivor Slams Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel: ‘Absolutely Needs To Resign’,” The Daily Caller, Feb 25, 2018; Derek Hunter, “Sheriff Israel To Local Reporter On His Deputy’s Failure: ‘That’s Not My Responsibility’,” The Daily Caller, Feb 25, 2018; Victor Morton, “Florida to launch official investigation of law enforcement response to school shooting,” Washington Times, Feb 25, 2018; “Broward County Sheriff DIDN’T Respond to 39 Calls Regarding School Shooter — There Were MORE,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Madison Pauly, “74 Florida Republican Lawmakers Are Calling for the Sheriff in the Parkland Shooting to Be Suspended,” Mother Jones, Feb 25, 2018; John Sexton, “School Resource Officer who stood outside during shooting thought he did a good job (Update: ‘You’re despicable’),” Hot Air, Feb 24, 2018; Alex Swoyer, “Grassley: FBI didn’t contact Google during probe on Florida shooter,” Washington Times, Feb 23, 2018; Sarah Rumpf, “Three Other Broward Cops Were Outside School During Shooting But Didn’t Enter,” Red State, Feb 23, 2018; Max Greenwood, “Additional deputies did not enter Florida high school during shooting: report,” The Hill (relying on a CNN report), Feb 23, 2018; Michelle Mark, “Local authorities and the FBI got multiple warnings that the suspected Florida shooter was dangerous — but no one followed up,” Business Insider, Feb 23, 2018; Rod Dreher, “Disgraceful Broward County Deputies,” The American Conservative, Feb 23, 2018.

[2] Jennifer Van Laar, “Get Rid of Do-Nothing ‘Gun-Free’ Zones and Give Schools Real Security,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Carl Arbogast, “Stop Lying to Those Kids and Telling Them They’re Going To Win the Gun Debate,” Red State, Feb 26, 2018; Jay Cost, “The NRA Is Not Your Typical Interest Group,” National Review, Feb 26, 2018; Chris Enloe, “Dozens of companies boycott NRA over Florida shooting — but it’s backfiring big time,” The Blaze, Feb 25, 2018; Madison Pauly, “The Trump Campaign Is Trying to Raise Money Off the Parkland Shooting. Here’s What It Sent Supporters,” Mother Jones, Feb 25, 2018; Chris Enloe, “Father of girl killed in Florida shooting eviscerates the media for pushing gun control narrative,” The Blaze, Feb 25, 2018; “The Gun-Grabbers Don’t Care About the AR-15 — They Are After All Guns,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Martin Cizmar, “Oklahoma congressman who owns rifle factory blames video games and lack of Jesus in schools for Florida massacre,” Raw Story, Feb 25, 2018; Julia Conley, “Reporters Call Foul on NRA Claim That Media “Loves” Mass Shootings,” Common Dreams, Feb 23, 2018; Susan Wright, “This Looks Bad: Trump Campaign Raising Money off the Image of Parkland Survivors,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Laura King, “NRA rejects Trump’s call for raising the age limit to buy rifles,” LA Times, Feb 25, 2018; Rivera Sun, “Stopping Mass Shootings: Less Finger Pointing, More Action,” Common Dreams, Feb 25, 2018; John Sexton, “House Democrats back new ban on semi-automatic weapons,” Hot Air, Feb 26, 2018; Melissa Quinn, “House Democrats introduce bill prohibiting sale of semi-automatic weapons,” Washington Examiner, Feb 26, 2018; David Weigel, “Most House Democrats get behind effort for new assault-weapons ban,” Washington Post, Feb 26, 2018; Jena Greene, “FedEx Backs Away From NRA: Restrict ‘Assault Weapons’ To Military,” The Daily Caller, Feb 26, 2018; Kate Harloe, “A Guide to the Upcoming Gun Control Marches,” Mother Jones, Feb 26, 2018; “Md. Rep. Cummings Joins Democrats Introducing Bill To Ban Assault Weapons,” WJZ(CBS affiliate), Feb 26, 2018; “US gun control: Congress returns under pressure to act,” DW, Feb 26, 2018; Sarah Quinlan, “Hold up! Here Are Some Facts Too Many Get Wrong When Talking About Guns,” Red State, Feb 25, 2018; Anna Wu and David Desroches, “Educators Fear And Embrace Calls For Concealed Carry In The Classroom,” NPR, Feb 24, 2018; Jesse Byrnes, “NRA strikes back at Florida sheriff: ‘Your office failed this community’,” The Hill, Feb 23, 2018; Daniel J. Flynn, “Bob Dylan on Guns,” The American Spectator, Feb 23, 2018; Eliza Redman, “Parkland shooting survivor’s family shops doctored emails with CNN to media outlets,” Business Insider, Feb 23, 2018; Kira Davis, “Vice is SHOCKED That the NRA Thinks Women Should Be Allowed to Own Weapons,” Red State, Feb 23, 2018;Brandon Morse, “Dana Loesch Reveals What Went Down Behind the Scenes at that CNN Town Hall, and It Doesn’t Help CNN,” Red State, Feb 23, 2018; Patrick J. Buchanan, “Don’t Confiscate Guns: Protect Schools,” The American Conservative, Feb 23, 2018; Mark Ossolinski and Katie Pickrell, “‘Protect Kids, Not Guns’: Maryland High Schoolers’ Walkout to Demand Action,” AlterNet (reprinting from The American Prospect), Feb 23, 2018; Hansi Lo Wang, “Millennials Are No More Liberal On Gun Control Than Elders, Polls Show,” NPR, Feb 24, 2018; Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan, “U.S. congressional Republicans reject new limits on guns,” Reuters, Feb 27, 2018; David French, “It’s Time for Real Talk about the Assault-Weapons ‘Ban’,” National Review, Feb 27, 2018; Bob Eller, “The father of a Parkland school shooting survivor admits to altering an email exchange with CNN and shopping it to other media outlets,” Business Insider (reprinted from AP), Feb 27, 2018.

[3] Martin Cizmar, “Notorious Washington extremist whose rallies attract violent white supremacists to run for US senate,” Raw Story, Feb 25, 2018; Mark Abadi, “Trump reportedly told friends he wanted to execute every drug dealer in America,” Business Insider, Feb 25, 2018.

[4] At the time, I listed Black Guns Matter, the John Brown Militia, and the Indigenous People’s Liberation Front but they do not seem to have active websites/webpages.

The myth of the “Kim dynasty”: the reality of democracy in Juche Korea

Long live the 70th founding anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea! (poster released this year)

With the detente between the ROK (“South Korea”) and Juche Korea, officially called the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) or “North Korea” in the West, around the Winter Olympics in the ROK, tensions have been lessened on the Korean Peninsula. Such a reduction is a move toward peace in the region while the Orientalist bourgeois media and murderous empire continue to try to ratchet up tensions. With all of this, there are claims in this same media that Juche Korea has a “monarchy” with a “dynasty” headed by the Kim family or that it is a “dictatorship.” [1] While I addressed some of this in my previous post focusing on elections to the unicameral assembly of the country, the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) or even my post about Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech, I did not broach this issue entirely. In this post I aim to disprove these claims once and for all, showing that Juche Korea is a democratic state on the road to socialism, guided by the Juche ideology, a state which is neither a monarchy, a dictatorship, or has a dynasty.

Table of contents

  1. There is democracy not “autocracy”
  2. There is no “cult of personality”

There is democracy not “autocracy”

Make leaps and bounds in the flames of collectivist competition by which everyone helps and leads one another forward!

With bourgeois academics ringing their hands about “totalitarianism”the bourgeois media (ex: The EconomistCNN, HuffPostNew York Times, DW, UPI, Business Insider, ABC News, The Daily Beast, The Telegraph, Reuters, Time, AP, Newsweek, CNBC, Time, and Fox “News”), white propaganda/anti-communist U$-run outlets (like VOA/Voice of America and RFA/Radio Free Asia) declaring there is a “Kim dynasty” led by a “royal family” which has ruled absolutely with an “iron fist” for “three generations” (Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un), it is worth looking at this subject more in-depth. After all, they call the country “one of the world’s most unpredictable and dangerous states,” claim it has a “personality cult” (discussed in the second section of this article), and treat the country like it is soap opera or “family psychodrama.” While they think the country could collapse any moment, some bourgeois media admit that “the world’s spy agencies” know little about “the inner workings of the Kim family” and one U$ intelligence official said candidly back in 2011 that “we simply do not know what goes on in North Korea, and anyone who claims otherwise is relying on that fact to make false claims.” [2] This was coupled with the reality that “the 1994 death of…Kim Il Sung” caught Western “intelligence agencies napping,” and an editorial in a trash English paper declaring that “there’s not much the United States can do to affect events inside North Korea.”

In order to show that the country has no dynasty, monarchy, dictatorship, or hereditary rule, it is important to define these words. The Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition), a bourgeois dictionary, mind you, is worth using here. This dictionary defines a dynasty as “a succession of rulers who are members of the same family,” something as hereditary when it is passed down from generation to generation or is ancestral. For the word monarchy, this dictionary says it is “rule by only one person” or “a government or state headed by a monarch; called absolute when there is no limit on the monarch’s power, constitutional when there is such a limitation.” It then defines the word monarch as “the single or sole ruler of the state” or the “hereditary ruler of the state.” As for the word dictatorship, it says that it is “absolute power or authority” or a state ruled by a dictator. The same dictionary defines a dictator as “a ruler with absolute power and authority, esp. one who exercises it tyrannically” and says the word “dictatorial” is the “unreasoned, unpredictable use of one’s authority in accord with one’s own will or desire.” The latter discussion of dictatorship will be noted more later in this section.

Some may say that the titles of Supreme Leader, leader of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), head of the military, and “eternal leader” of the country are “dominated” by the Kim family, “proving” that there is a monarchy or dynasty, with bourgeois Wikipedia even having a page on the latter, in Juche Korea. However, this is false. For one, if you look at other pages, even on Wikipedia, one will see that the “Heads of State,” “Heads of Government,” “Heads of Parliament,” and “Premiers of North Korea” are not part of this family. Additionally, the State Affairs Commission, Cabinet, Central Committee of the WPK, Politburo, and SPA all have multiple members apart from the family. I’ll also talk about this later as well. Furthermore, the surname of Kim is one of the most common on the Korean Peninsula (with the other two being Lee and Park), with not everyone of this surname “necessarily related genetically,” with 20% of Koreans having Kim as their surname. For example, there are “Kim families from the Kim-hae province, Kim families from the An-dong province and Kim families from the Kyongju province,” leading some to draw up and create stereotypes for Koreans. The naming system in Korea is different than elsewhere. Kim Jong-Un’s surname (or family name) is “Kim” but his given name is “Jong-Un” unlike naming conventions in the West where the last name of a person is their surname, like Barack Obama, with his surname is Obama and given name is Barack.

Some may dismiss this discussion of naming as nonsense. After all, the “hate-reader,” to take from the horrid commentary of Charlie “Chuckles” Davis of Telesur, may say, then why did the “leadership” of the country pass from Kim Il Sung to Kim Jong Il, then to Kim Jong-Un? Well, Jason LaBouyer, writing in a former publication, Lodester, put out by the Korean Friendship Association (favorable to the current government of Juche Korea but not funded or supported by it), says that when it more accurately understood by those who recognize the Korean society [3], they see

…the people’s overwhelming support not only for their nation’s leadership, but for the philosophy of Juche socialism that has guided their economic and social development for over half a century. In other words, the Korean people’s dedication is not limited to Chairman Kim Jong Il, or to the late President Kim Il Sung, but to an entire ideology

LaBouyer seems to say that the WPK has earned the respect of the populace, because,” unlike its many fraternal parties around the world, it has chosen not to embrace market socialism.” So, basically, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il represent the Juche ideology as they embodied the ideology in their minds and actions which guided the nation, which does not make them “absolute rulers” as those crusty imperial propagandists want you to think. Instead, he writes, the WPK promotes an “economic program that retains full public ownership of the economy, putting people before profits.” This challenges certain “communists” who seem to ally with capitalist poles of power, he adds:

Challenging the many misperceptions and lies surrounding North Korea is seen as being too “risky” by these “communists,” who seek not to change the political establishment in their capitalist homelands, but to join it…To communists such as these, socialism still means social equality and collective prosperity, values held dear by Chairman Kim Jong Il and the late Kim Il Sung and revered by the Korean people for it. Together, our global KFA family will work to ensure that Korea’s people-centered socialist system remains alive and well for epochs to come

So, in sum, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are revered for their socialist ideals and maintaining the “people-centered socialist system” in Juche Korea.

An article by Bjornar Simonsen, adds one further aspect: that leaders like Kim Jong Il, for instances, are “captains” of the ship and the rest of the population part of the crew [4]:

Just like a ship needs a crew, so the DPRK needs the WPK. The crew is responsible for carrying out various duties given by the captain, and in such a way millions of members of the WPK work in all areas high and low, to make sure that the ship is clean, repaired and that everyone on board has everything he or she needs…Indeed, without the captain, the ship could go nowhere. And just like poetry, the guidance of Kim Jong Il is inspiring, beautiful, and eternal

However, this may exaggerate the role of individuals such as Kim Jong-Un, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Il Sung. The socialist constitution of Juche Korea (the one in 2016), of which there is another version with a corrected Article 156 which accidentally had one line printed twice, makes this clear. In the preamble (dissected more in the second section of this article) it says that the country is “the socialist motherland of Juche” and thanks “great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il” for their ideas and leadership, saying that they are applied, adding that: Kim Il Sung was the founder of the country, “authored the immortal Juche idea, led the “Japanese revolutionary struggle,” laying the ” solid foundations for the building of an independent and sovereign State.” However, it seems to distance him from the “various stages of social revolution and construction work,” only saying he led these efforts, “elucidated the fundamental principles governing the building and activities of the State…and laid solid foundations for the prosperity” of the country. As for Kim Jong Il, it describes him as “a peerless patriot and defender of socialist Korea who…strengthened and developed” the country, playing “the dignity and power of the nation on the highest ever plane,” further developing “the immortal Juche idea and Songun idea,” noting that he led the country through the period after the “collapse of the world socialist system,”developing the country into “a nuclear state and an unchallengeable military power.” While saying that Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are important in fighting or national reunification of Korea, clarifying the “basic ideals” of the country’s foreign policy, serving as “veteran world statesmen” (developing the “socialist movement and the non-aligned movement”), were “great revolutionaries,” and theoreticians who achieved much, they could not have done this without the people:

Regarding “The people are my God” as their maxim, Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il always mixed with the people, devoted their whole lives to them and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through their noble benevolent politics.

That doesn’t sound like a dynasty at all. After all, while the preamble says that the country will “uphold the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as the eternal leaders” it also says it will “carry the revolutionary cause of Juche through to completion by defending and carrying forward their ideas and achievements” which is an ideology, not a person, as part of their “socialist constitution” which codifies “the Juche-oriented ideas of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on State building and their exploits in it,” with the constitution named after both of them. As such, the praise of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il is meant to praise the Juche ideology and also serve as a sort of obituary of these individuals, reminding the populace of achievements while they guided the country, even through tough times. The newest constitution has new sections, due to the death of Kim Jong Il in 2011, but has some of the same ideas.

Let us usher in a golden age in building a thriving nation in this year when the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea is to be held! (2). Again, this shows how both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are a guiding force, but it does not make them “gods” or “deities” but rather those who have pushed forward socialist construction in the country.

Chapter 1 of the Constitution shows the democratic nature of the state. Article 1 describes the country as an “independent socialist State representing the interests of all the Korean people” while Article 2 says that the country “is a revolutionary State which has inherited the brilliant traditions” which were formed during the “glorious revolutionary struggle against the imperialist aggressors” and as part of the ongoing struggle to liberate the homeland while pushing forward “the freedom and well-being” of the Korean people. Article 3 adds to this, saying that the Juche (self-reliance) and Songun (military-first) ideas are part of the state’s outlook to the world and helping the masses:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is guided in its activities by the Juche idea and the Songun idea, a world outlook centred on people, a revolutionary ideology for achieving the independence of the masses of the people.

Juche Korea goes further than the corrupted doctrine of “popular sovereignty” in the murderous empire, which, as Tracy Campbell in Deliver the Vote noted, which said that “rightful inhabitants of a territory” should decide “democratically” if they were to be “free” or “slave,” an idea which not only set no guidelines for an election on such an issue, but did not determine who could be residents, whether they would vote on the issue directly or indirectly or if new residents could come into the area and disrupt the vote, with more possibility of electoral fraud (a phenomenon throughout U$ history)! [5] Article 4 of the constitution says that the sovereignty of the country “resides in the workers, peasants, soldiers, working intellectuals and all other working people.” It further adds that working people, as a result, “exercise State power through their representative organs–the Supreme People’s Assembly and local People’s Assemblies at all levels.”

CommieDad adds more about such democratic participation, writing, in his post, about the full force of democracy in Juche Korea:

The DPRK has county, city, and provincial elections to the local people’s assemblies, as well as national elections to the Supreme People’s Assembly, their legislature. These are carried out every five years [actually every 4 years, but its 5 years for the SPA]. Candidates are chosen in mass meetings held under the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, which also organizes the political parties in the DPRK. Citizens run under these parties or they can run as independents…The fact that there is only one candidate on the ballot is because there has already been a consensus reached on who should be up for nomination for that position, by the people in their mass meetings…the masses advocate for themselves directly…The DPRK does in fact allow foreign observers of their election…The elections are effectively a fail-safe against any corruption of the democratic process that occurs during the mass meetings

He further adds that “societies can only be considered democratic if the masses of people manage the economy as well as the political sphere.” Some aspects of the economy are explained in this post, but it will be fully explicated in an upcoming post on economy in Juche Korea. What Commie Dad says should be recognized: the state “constitutionally, represents the interests of the working people and thus has legally excluded exploiters and oppressors from formal representation” since the “political organs of class power have taken become explicitly proletarian organs of class power.” This is because

All Koreans over the age of 17 irrespective of race, religion, sex, creed etc. are able and encouraged to participate in the organs of state power…This is in sharp contrast to the relationship between capitalist politicians and citizens. In the capitalist countries, politicians are far removed from the people and have no idea what their struggles are like. In the DPRK, the opposite is true. Because the working class is the vast majority of the population of the DPRK…the management of the state by the working class means that the state is managed by the majority of the people.

He even talks about the Korean prison system, saying that many of the criminals have committed “minor crimes” with the aim to “rehabilitate and reeducate,” making it “far more humane, on principle, than the system in the United States” as it is “based on a people-centered philosophy which holds that criminality is not innate to humanity. This is strong evidence that the DPRK is a state of the majority, and thus democratic.” He also says that the grief over the death of Kim Il Sung, stems from the immense popular support he enjoyed as a leader, during and after the revolution,” not that he was a god, adding that Kim Il Sung was seen as “a highly able and dangerous guerilla leader” (even accepted by bourgeois scholars Bruce Cumings, Adrian Buzo, Michael E. Robinson, Son Oberdorfer, and Robert Carlin) by the Japanese, with the Korean guerillas receiving “little material help from the Soviets” and the Soviets  taking a “fairly hands-off approach to their occupation zone, allowing a coalition of nationalist and communist resistance fighters to run their own show.” After this, a “central government was formed, based on an interim People’s Committee led by Kim Il-sung” and he was not “handpicked by the Soviets” but rather “enjoyed considerable prestige and support as a result of his years as a guerilla leader and his commitment to national liberation” with the Soviets not trusting him, with the Soviets not sure about a violent reunification of the Korean Peninsula led by Juche Korea, as even bourgeois historian David Halberstam acknowledges in The Coldest  Winter (which is broadly anti-communist), with tensions between the Chinese and the Koreans, as the crossing of the 38th parallel by those from the North (in response to obvious aggression from the South) was seen as “just one more act in a long-term struggle on the part of the Korean people, part of an unfinished civil war.” It is worth pointing out in early June, Kim Il-sung called for an election across the Korean Peninsula in early August, and a “consultative conference” later that month, but the three diplomats from Juche Korea were rejected by U$ puppet Syngman Rhee “outright,” with Rhee expressing repeatedly his “desire to conquer the North” even to U$ diplomat John Foster Dulles! As was noted on pages 19, 38, and 40 of Kim Pyong Sik’s Modern Korea: The Socialist North, Revolutionary Perspectives in the South, and Unification, in 1950 “U.S. imperialism launched its armed aggression” against Juche Korea, leading to the (Great) Fatherland Liberation War. As one site, SparkNotes, says, Rhee had “so often talked about invading North Korea that US leaders feared giving him too much in the way of weapons” with Kim Il Sung saying, reportedly, that the ROK “dared to commit armed aggression…north of the 38th parallel” saying that “ROK forces on the Ongjin Peninsula attacked North Korea in the Haeju area” which bourgeois analysts claimed was “bogus” leading to claims, for years to come, that Juche Korea “invaded” the South. As one U$ Army publication admitted, “armed clashes between North and South Korea were common along the 38th Parallel” before June 25, 1950, the date of the supposed “invasion.” It seems evident that the first actions of the war were fighting around Ongjin, leading some scholars (like Bruce Cumings) to say the ROK fired first. This means the actions of Juche Korea would have been a response, a defensive measure. As a history of the war by Jim H. Kim notes, Kim Il Sung “sought permission to attack the South in case the North was attacked” with the war really starting “in 1945 when the U.S. suppressed the KPR government and imposed its military rule in the southern part of Korea” with killings of tens of thousands of Koreans on Cheji Island from 1948 to 1949, and major battles breaking out “between the North Korean (DPRK) and South Korean (ROK) armies along the 38th parallel line in 1949.” This meant that when “the armed clash broke out in June 1950, it was more or less a continuation of the past conflicts. It was certainly not a surprise attack” as Syngman Rhee was openly “preaching a military unification of Korea by attacking the North.”

After writing about how, in the aftermath of World War II, there was a “program of land reform” eight months into the occupation, that major industries, “most owned by the Japanese, were nationalized” by the victorious Korean revolutionaries in the north, he added that at the present

Citizens of the DPRK support Kim Il-sung because of his courageous defiance of U.S. domination, his commitment to the reunification and the real accomplishments of socialism…there were no mechanisms by which to force the Korean people to support Kim Il-Sung during his rule…Kim Il-sung’s DPRK was not a police state, but rather a democratic and socialist country waging a valiant war against imperialism. The Korean people were-and continue to be-unified in struggle and support their leaders on this basis…Bourgeois media continues to portray the DPRK as a totalitarian nightmare, populated exclusively by a pacified and frightened citizenry…The north Korean people have a far greater say in how their lives are structured than do citizens of even the most “democratic” capitalist countries. They are not forced to adhere to a Party Line handed down from on high, but rather are encouraged to participate in the running of society. The DPRK is an excellent example of socialism, which is focused on developing the working class-and humanity-to its full potential. It is only through socialism that we can realize our collective dream of a free and prosperous society. The DPRK is marching towards this dream, even in the face of unparalleled imperialist aggression. It is partly on this basis that we should pledge solidarity with the country. To reiterate the point I made in my last post, however, the DPRK should be supported regardless of whether it is itself socialist. It is standing against imperialism, which is the greatest enemy of socialism. Indirectly or directly, the DPRK works in the interests of socialism.

His words are proven for one, by Article 6, of the constitution, saying that organs of” State power at all levels, from the county People’s Assembly to the Supreme People’s Assembly,” are  elected on the “principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot.” It is also buttressed by Article 7, saying that deputies of state power at all levels have “close ties with their constituents and are accountable to them for their work.” This accountability means that “electors may recall at any time the deputies they have elected if the latter lose the trust of the former.” This means that voters are able to recall a deputy, a power which isn’t even held in many (only some) municipal settings across the U$!

Let Us All Cast Yes Votes!

There are additional aspects. Article 5 says that all state organs in the country “are formed and function on the principle of democratic centralism.” This is an originally Marxist principle, showing the still-standing influence of Marxism-Leninism in the country incorporated in the ideology of Juche, which was first applied by the Bolsheviks. This principle balances democracy and centralism, as even acknowledged by Trotsky who detested the idea, with members taking part in “policy discussions and elections at all levels,” with those at all levels responsible to the populace and subject to their supervision, with a focus on unity. It was an idea explained by Lenin, who wrote to St. Petersburg Workers, in 1906, about this very principle:

There remains an important, serious and extremely responsible task: really to apply the principles of democratic centralism in Party organisation, to work tirelessly to make the local organisations the principal organisational units of the Party in fact, and not merely in name, and to see to it that all the higher-standing bodies are elected, accountable, and subject to recall. We must work hard to build up an organisation that will include all the class-conscious Social-Democratic workers, and will live its own independent political life. The autonomy of every Party organisation, which hitherto has been largely a dead letter, must become a reality. The fight for posts, fear of the other “faction”, must be eliminated. Let us have really united Party organisations, in which there will only be a purely ideological struggle between different trends of Social-Democratic thought. It will not be easy to achieve this; nor shall we achieve it at one stroke. But the road has been mapped out, the principles have been proclaimed, and we must now work for the complete and consistent putting into effect of this organisational ideal…If we have really and seriously decided to introduce democratic centralism in our Party, and if we have resolved to draw the masses of the workers into intelligent decision of Party questions, we must have these questions discussed in the press, at meetings, in circles and at group meetings. But in the united Party this ideological struggle must not split the organisations, must not hinder the unity of action of the proletariat. This is a new principle as yet in our Party life, and considerable effort will be needed to implement it properly.

This was echoed in 1921, when he wrote to the 10th Party Congress of the Communist Party of Soviet Russia that unity and cohesion of those in the ranks of the party, coupled with full trust among member of the party and work that “embodies the unity of will of the proletarian vanguard” are necessary because there are intensified waverings “of the petty bourgeois population in the country.” He added that it is important that “all class-conscious workers” realize the harmful nature of factionalism, the “appearance of groups with platforms of their own and with a will to close ranks to a certain extent and create their own group discipline,” since it leads to “less friendly work and to repeated and intensified attempts by enemies of the ruling party…to deepen the divisions and use them for purposes of counter-revolution.” He also said that this is important because the “enemies of the proletariat take advantage of all deviations from a strictly consistent communist line,” adding that “achieving unity of will of the proletarian vanguard as a basic condition for the success of the dictatorship of the proletariat,” noting that verification of party decisions and efforts to correct “mistakes” should not be “submitted for discussion by groups formed on the basis of some ‘platform’ or other,” but rather ” be submitted for discussion by all party members.” It is with this that Lenin adds:

Every person who voices criticism must be mindful of the party’s situation, in the midst of enemy encirclement, and must also, through direct participation in Soviet and party work, strive in practice to correct the party’s mistakes…the party will continue tirelessly – constantly testing new methods – to use every means to combat bureaucratism, to expand democratism and initiative, and to seek out, expose, and expel those who have adhered to the party under false pretenses…in order to ensure strict discipline within the party and in all Soviet work, and to achieve maximum unity while eliminating all factionalism, the Congress gives the Central Committee full powers to apply all measures of party punishment up to and including expulsion.

This connects with the support for further party discipline as outlined by Kim Jong-Un in his New Years’ speech earlier this year.

Let us carry out the lifetime instructions of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il whatever the conditions without an inch of deflection and without a step of compromise!

Coming back to the constitution of Juche Korea, there are a number of articles proving that Commie Dad was right when he said there is “management of the state by the working class.” Article 8 declares that the country’s social system will be “people-centered” to such an extent that “working people are the masters of everything and everything in society serves them” while the state shall “defend the interests of the workers, peasants, soldiers, working intellectuals and all other working people who have been freed from exploitation and oppression.” This would, allow, as the article delineates, workers to “become the masters of the State and society, and respect and protect human rights.” Article 9 expands on this. It says that that Juche Korea will “strive to achieve the complete victory of socialism in the northern half of Korea by strengthening the people’s power” while the country works to perform “ideological, technological and cultural” revolutions, pushing for reunification of the Korean Peninsula “on the principle of independence, peaceful reunification and great national unity.” This is reinforced by Article 10, saying that the country is underpinned by the unity of the population “based on the worker-peasant alliance led by the working class,” adding that the state will work to “revolutionize all the members of society, and assimilate them to the working class by intensifying the ideological revolution,” and as such, turn the whole of society into a collective which is “united in a comradely way.” This would not be possible without the “leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea” as stated in Article 11, saying that the country shall conduct its activities under such leadership.

In order to have a state that serves the workers, Article 12 says that the state will adhere to “the class line” while strengthening the “dictatorship of the people’s democracy,” working to defend “the people’s power and socialist system against all subversive acts of hostile elements at home and abroad.” This “dictatorship of the people’s democracy” is just another way of asserting the long-held Marxist principle, again showing how Marxism has been embedded into Juche, advocating for a dictatorship of the proletariat (DoTP as some abbreviate it) or proletarian democracy. This principle, as I’ve noted on this blog previously, asserts that working class would decide “amongst themselves, by consensus what and how it should be done” with all positions of authority elected “solely by workers and subject to recall at any time” with Lenin adding that DoTP is not only “a forcible suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, i.e., of an insignificant minority the population, the landlords and capitalists” but is a change “in the democratic forms and institutions” and an “unparalleled extension of the actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism…[a] decisive, participation in the democratic administration of the state” which brings “the working people close to the machinery of government.” He also says that DoTP requires that “mass organizations of the working people” be in “constant and unfailing participation in the administration of the state.”

This brings me to article 13. It says that the state itself shall implement the “mass line and apply the Chongsanri spirit and Chongsanri method to all its activities” meaning that, in their summary, “superiors assist their subordinates, mix with the masses to find solutions to problems and rouse them to conscious enthusiasm by giving precedence to political work, work with people.” The spirit and method of Chongsanri is undoubtedly embodied in the Chongsan-ri Cooperative Farm, as it is known as “the ideal model of DPRK farming technique,” being equipped with facilities like a “school and housing for all farmers.” Of course, this farm is shown to many visitors, with some, even with Orientalist views (also see here), saying that it does represent a typical farm in the country, with a surface-to-air unit nearby (why not? The country is still officially at war with the U$). [6] This then leads to the idea of the “mass line.” This derives from Mao Tse Tung, sometimes called Mao Zedong in the West, showing that Juche has Maoist elements in it, just as much as it has  straight Marxist, or even Leninist, ones. He talks about this term directly, when he spoke to the Shansi-Suiyuan Daily editorial staff on April 2, 1948:

For over twenty years our Party has carried on mass work every day, and for the past dozen years it has talked about the mass line every day. We have always maintained that the revolution must rely on the masses of the people, on everybody’s taking a hand, and have opposed relying merely on a few persons issuing orders. The mass line, however, is still not being thoroughly carried out in the work of some comrades; they still rely solely on a handful of people working in solitude. One reason is that, whatever they do, they are always reluctant to explain it to the people they lead and that they do not understand why or how to give play to the initiative and creative energy of those they lead. Subjectively, they too want everyone to take a hand in the work, but they do not let other people know what is to be done or how to do it. That being the case, how can everyone be expected to get moving and how can anything be done well? To solve this problem the basic thing is, of course, to carry out ideological education on the mass line, but at the same time we must teach these comrades many concrete methods of work.

From this, he seems to be saying that the “mass line” means that a revolution must rely on the masses of people, with the idea of ideological education of those in the masses, teaching them “concrete methods of work” tied into this conception. This links with his other quotes about the power of the people, in a page from the book, “Quotations from Mao Tse Tung,” commonly called the “Little Red Book” in the West. He argued that the masses should be listened to, that their problems should be “placed on our agenda” (January 1934), that the “masses are the real heroes” (Spring 1941), and advocating for taking the ideas of the “the masses and concentrate them,” then go back to the masses, persevering  in these ideas, working to “carry them through, so as to form correct ideas of leadership” (June 1943). He added that leading cadres should be constantly aware of “production by the masses, the interests of the masses, [and] the experiences and feelings of the masses” (November 1943), adding that there must be the “right task, policy and style of work” in order to conform with demands of the masses, strengthening “our ties with the masses,” but that the “wrong task, policy and style of work…[will] invariably alienate us from the masses” (April 1945). This leads to his further observation that no comrade should be “divorced from the masses” but should rather, “love the people and listen attentively to the voice of the masses” (April 1945), further observing that there would be adventurism if “we tried to go on the offensive when the masses are not yet awakened” (April 1948) and adds that in all mass movements there should be “a basic investigation and analysis of the number of active supporters, opponents and neutrals”  (March 1949). Beyond this, he added that the masses have boundless creative power” (1955) and have “a potentially inexhaustible enthusiasm for socialism” (1955) which can be brought together by leaders, whom can unite the “small number of active elements” within the masses, consisting of three parts: “the relatively active, the intermediate and the relatively backward.” (June 1943) Most profound was his statement that “the people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history” (April 1945), which the Koreans believe without a doubt, expressing that the people are “god” meaning that they are to be followed moving forward in the country’s socialist construction.

Hold fast to the standpoint of By Our Nation Itself, and respect and implement the declarations with sincerity!

Coming back to the constitution of Juche Korea, it is worth focusing on Articles 14 and 18. The first of these articles says that the state will “conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement” along with other “mass movements so as to accelerate the building of socialism to the maximum. The Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement was originally proposed in 1973 as the Three Revolutions Team Movement, launched in late 1974, and further intensified in December 1975, with “large numbers of young people were sent to the countryside and to factories to boost production and introduce new methods and technologies” while bourgeois analysts claimed it was not successful and claim it has “lost any real importance” in recent years. [7] In November 1986, Kim Jong-Il talked about this very movement in a speech (mirrored by the Internet Archive and elsewhere online),speaking to loyal comrades at a national meeting of the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement’s Vanguard, talking about the movement’s accomplishments:

In 1975 our Party called on the people working in all the fields of the revolution and construction to launch this movement in order to ensure the success of the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions which had been proposed by the great leader Comrade Kim II Sung…the movement has spread rapidly across the country, drawing in all sectors and all units — factories and other enterprises, cooperative farms and scientific, cultural, educational and public health organizations…many units have won the Three-Revolution Red Flag, the ranks of flag-winners have increased, a system for guiding this movement has been established and a wealth of experience has been gained…people’s mode of thinking and manner of working have changed, the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses has become greater and the revolution and construction have made steady headway…the ideological revolution has been stepped up. As a result, the Party’s monolithic ideological system has become more firmly established in society, the loyalty of Party members and the working people to the Party and the leader has become more intense…the revolutionary transformation of Party members and the working people and their assimilation into the working class have been promoted. In consequence, the remnants of outdated ideas have been eliminated in the main and the revolutionary tone of life has been intensified…The technical revolution has been accelerated…so that the levels of mechanization and automation in production processes at factories and enterprises have been raised…The movement has given strong impetus to the cultural revolution, with the result that the cultural and technical levels of the working people have risen, progress has been made in making all the members of society intellectual and success has been achieved in making living and working conditions hygienic…On behalf of the Party Central Committee, I extend warm thanks to those attending this meeting, as well as to the standard-bearers of the three revolutions and the three revolution team members throughout the country who have displayed unfailing loyalty to the Party and the leader, worked hard to conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement and contributed greatly to promoting the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions and to accelerating  the process of modelling the whole society on the Juche idea…The Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is a mass movement to accelerate the building of socialism and communism by conducting the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions vigorously in keeping with the requirements for modelling the whole society on the Juche idea. In other words, the movement is a mass movement for the ideological transformation of all members of society into ardent communist revolutionaries, a mass technical innovation movement to equip the national economy with modem technology and a mass cultural re-education movement to raise the cultural and technical levels of all Party members and working people and provide them with comfortable living conditions…[it] is a high-level mass movement which has set a higher fighting goal for itself than any other mass movement and aims to reach it by organizing and mobilizing the entire Party and all the people…[is part of] the Juche idea that the popular masses are the masters of the revolution and construction and that they are the motive force of the revolution and construction, as well as on the revolutionary mass line of our Party…Intensifying the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is the requirement of our developing revolution for hastening the complete victory of socialism. Our revolution, through its advance under the leadership of the Party, has reached a high level in its efforts to achieve the complete victory of socialism…Stepping up this movement is also an essential requirement for achieving the ten long-term objectives of socialist economic construction in the 1980s…The most effective method of strengthening the revolutionary forces in the northern half of the country is to conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement with vigour…In order to model the whole society on the Juche idea we must train all the members of society into true communists and transform all the areas of social life to meet the requirements of the Juche idea…The ideological revolution must be promoted vigorously in order to transform all the members of society into genuine communists…We must press ahead with the cultural revolution in order to eliminate every manner of cultural backwardness remaining from the old society and create a socialist and communist culture…since the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is a mass movement to attain high goals and carry out ambitious tasks, society should work more actively in this movement than in any other mass drive…In order to achieve the targets of the movement, a strong ideological campaign should be conducted. Only when we conduct an uncompromising ideological campaign by the methods of lightning operations, a concentrated offensive and finish-one -by-one tactics can we eliminate defeatism, self-protectionism, empiricism, self-centredness and all other outmoded ideas from the minds of people..It is of great significance in developing the movement in depth to review and assess properly the results of the efforts to attain targets…In order to conduct the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement with vigour, we must conduct it in close combination with other mass movements [including]…the campaign to follow the example of the unassuming heroes, the socialist emulation movement and the model machine movement…Therefore it is only when the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement is conducted in close combination with all the other mass campaigns that it is possible to carry out the three revolutions more efficiently and display the validity of the movement to the full…the Three- Revolution Red Flag Movement can be successful only when Party organizations, working people’s organizations, three-revolution team members and the officials of administrative and economic organs are roused to action…the role of the working people’s organizations in the movement should be enhanced…[as should] the role of the three-revolution team members. They are the vanguard of the three revolutions and the hardcore of our Party…Administrative and economic officials in particular must be induced to perform their duties of supplying materials, giving technical guidance, organizing production and labour and providing the working people with supplies for their daily lives in a responsible manner, in keeping with the requirements of the Taean work system…[we must] make the movement the concern of the Party committee…[which] must plan and organize the work which is related to the movement and vigorously conduct the movement by mobilizing every department…I hold the firm belief that you will conduct the movement more vigorously in step with the developing revolution and thus make a fresh advance’ in carrying out the ideological, technical and cultural revolutions.

Then we get to Article 18. This says that the law of the country “reflects the wishes and interests of the working people and is a basic instrument for State administration.” It further says that respect, adherence, and execution of the law  “is the duty of all institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens.” In order to remove any errors or defects, one could say, the state dedicates itself, to perfecting “the system of socialist law and promote the socialist law-abiding life.”

Articles 15, 16, and 17 are also relevant. Article 15 says the country will “champion the democratic national rights of Koreans overseas and their rights recognized by international law as well as their interests” showing the solidarity with those outside the country. This is similar to Article 16, which says that the country will “guarantee the legal rights and interests of foreigners in its territory.” This is important if there is to be future investment in the country, one could say, but also to show that the country is not just about Koreans. Most importantly is Article 17, declaring that “independence, peace and friendship” are basic ideals of the country, noting that “political, economic and cultural relations” will be established “with all friendly countries, on the principles of complete equality, independence, mutual respect, non-interference” in the affairs of others and “mutual benefit.” Furthermore, the State will engage in proletarian internationalism, as one could put it, by promoting

unity with people all over the world who defend their independence, and resolutely support and encourage the struggles of all people who oppose all forms of aggression and interference and fight for their countries’ independence and national and class emancipation.

Such support for national liberation struggles will be discussed at length in an upcoming post which is still in the works. A manifestation of unity with people around the world are “friendship societies,” which stand in solidarity with Juche Korea, and those studying the  Juche idea who have also organized themselves into societies.

It is worth pointing out the differences, in Chapter 1 alone, between the 1998 Kim Il Sung Constitution and 2016 “Nuclear” Constitution (which I call the “Constitution of DPRK post-2011″ in the PDF to not be confused with the 2012 constitution), which is officially called the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution.” Most of the changes are minor, like changing “DPRK” to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or “SPA” to Supreme People’s Assembly, but others are worth noting:

  • The “Songun idea” (a military-first ideology) has been added as part of the guiding ideology of the state (Article 3)
  • The word “soldiers” has been added to those with which the sovereignty of the state resides showing the importance of the defense of the state from outside sources, to say the least (Article 4)
  • Soldiers are now included as among the working people, and the phrasing that such people are “freed from exploitation and oppression and become the masters of the State and society, and respect and protect human rights” has been added, the latter part to counter those horrid “human rights reports” by the U$ (Article 8)
  • Within the worker-peasant alliance in the country, such an alliance is led “by the working class.” rather than the working class only having a “leading role” (Article 10)
  • The “interests” of Koreans overseas is recognized as something the government will champion and advocate for (Article 15)
  • The state is still promoting unity with people across the world, but those who “defend their independence will get resolute support from the country, and the struggles of those who “oppose all forms of aggression and interference and fight[ing] for their countries’ independence and national and class emancipation” will be encouraged (Article 17)

This proves that Juche Korea is not somewhere that is static, with the 2012 Constitution removing the few references to “communism” that were in the 1998 Constitution (in Articles 29, 40), which was reaffirmed in the 2016 Constitution. However, all references to socialism and Marxist-inspired (or even Mao-inspired) concepts which are part of Juche, were retained. As such, it is worth discussing the rest of the constitution in this manner.

Let us consolidate our revolutionary government rock-solid!

In Chapter II of the Constitution, titled “The Economy,” there have been few changes in the overall organization of the economy, which relies on “socialist production relations,” a foundation of an “independent national economy” (Article 20) and has the means of production “owned by the State and social, cooperative organizations” (Article 21). Furthermore, as Article 21 outlines, the State’s property belongs to the populace, and there is, hence, “no limit to the property which the State can own” with the state protecting and developing State property, which “plays the leading role in the economic development of the country,” meaning that the state controls the commanding heights of the economy, which is a positive. Additionally, the property of social cooperative organizations is protected by the stat, with such organizations allowed to own land, farm machinery, ships, and “small and medium-sized factories and enterprises” (Article 22). This is connected with working to enhance the “ideological consciousness” of the peasantry, allow people’s property to be part of cooperative organizations, on an organic basis rather than a systematic one (as it was in the previous version of the constitution), and efforts to improving the management and guidance of “socialist cooperative economic system.” (Article 23). This is connected with the ultimate goal of transforming the property of such organizations “into the property of the people as a whole” on a basis of “voluntary will of all their members” which means it would be done on a democratic basis. Additionally, Juche Korea regards, in Article 25, improvement of “material and cultural standards” of the populace of supreme importance, with the increasing material wealth of the society, in which “taxes have been abolished,” is used entirely to promote the people’s well-being with the state providing all working people with “every condition for obtaining food, clothing and housing,” a progressive statement without question.

Then we get to Article 27. This says that a technological revolution is important to develop the socialist economy, with the state conducting all economic activities by giving primary preference to “technical development” while pushing ahead with “scientific and technological development” and technical renovation of the economy, promoting mass technical innovation so the working people can be freed from “difficult, tiresome labour” and to narrow the “distinctions between physical and mental labour,” which is also important. Such a support of the power of the proletariat is reinforced by Article 28 saying the state will industrialize and modernize agriculture through a “rural technical revolution” which improves the role of the country, with assistance and guidance to rural areas so that the “difference between town and countryside” and the class distinction “between workers and peasants” can be eliminated. It is this sentiment that Marx and Engels talked about in the Communist Manifesto, as they specifically advocates for the gradual abolishment of “distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace.” This article also says that the state will build production facilities for cooperative farms “and modern farms in the countryside.” At the same time, the state renders labor of the working people “more joyful and worthwhile” so that people work with enthusiasm and express their creativity (Article 29). There are many other aspects of the State which favor the working class: an eight-hour working day, with the length of this day reduced for arduous or special types off work (Article 30), with working hours fully utilized through “proper organization of labor and enforcement of labor discipline”; prohibiting child labor with the minimum working age being 16 years (Article 31); having the State using its guidance wisely to help manage the “socialist economy” (Article 32); and having the Taean work system. The latter is described as a “socialist form of economic management” where the economy is operated on a scientific and rational basis on the basis of the efforts of those of the masses who are producers, connected with agricultural management conducted by “industrial methods” as a way for the state to direct and manage the economy, along with enforcing a self-accounting system in such economic management to meet the requirements of such a work system while making “proper use of such economic levers  as cost, price and profit” (Article 33).

There are other aspects which benefit the proletariat, and form the democratic basis of the country. For one, the country has a planned economy (Article 34) while the state will work to increase its “material accumulation and expand and develop socialist property” by having increased production and exercising “strict financial control in all spheres” (Article 35), and the state pursuing a “tariff policy” in order to protect the country’s “independent national economy” (Article 38) which is understandable. There have been some important changes, some for the better, others which are worrisome as they lead to further contradictions, you can say:

  • Private property was the “property meeting the simple and individual aims of the citizen” but is now “property owned and consumed by individual citizens.” (Article 24). This property is still derived from socialist distribution and from benefits from the state. While the income from “individual sideline activities” and from “legal economic activities” will be “private property,” kitchen gardens are not just limited to cooperative farmers anymore. The State still will protect such property, and the right to inherit it as well despite the fact that Marx and Engels specifically advocated against the right of inheritance in the Communist Manifesto and elsewhere.
  • Saying that the state is building a “socialist, independent national economy” instead of one that is just one that is “independent nationalist” (Article 26).
  • A new section was added in Article 34: “The State shall ensure a high rate of growth in production and a balanced development of the national economy by implementing unified and detailed planning.”
  • Enterprises, run by those from Juche Korea, are now allowed to be part of the country’s foreign trade (Article 36)
  • Minor changes, like “DPRK” to “country” but important changes from “contractual joint venture” to “contractual joint ventures,” “corporations” to “foreign corporations” and “special economic zone” to “special economic zones” which seem to be open to domestic enterprises, with the previous version seeming to make it seem like this would not be the case (Article 37). This means that there can be more than just one zone, heightening the country’s contradictions, even more than Article 36, without a doubt.

There are five other chapters of the Constitution: Chapter III (titled “Culture), Chapter IV (titled “National Defence”), Chapter V (titled “Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens”), Chapter VI (titled “State Organs” and has 7 sub-sections) and Chapter VII (titled “Emblem, Flag, Anthem, and Capital”). They will be discussed, in detail and with vigor, in the rest of this section of the article.

Let us prepare ourselves as genuine Kimilsungists-Kimjongilists!

Let’s start with Chapter III. Apart from promoting socialist culture as something that “contributes to improving the creative ability of working people” (Article 39), this chapter says that the country will carry out a “cultural revolution” (originally a Maoist idea) with an effort to train everyone in the populace to be “builders of socialism,” equipping them with a “profound knowledge of nature and society and a high level of culture and technology,” which would make the whole society “intellectual” (Article 40). It also says that such a socialist culture will be “people-oriented” and revolutionary, serving the working classes with the state opposing “the cultural infiltration of imperialism and any tendency to return to the past” with a protection of national cultural heritage, and developing such a culture “in keeping with the existing socialist situation” (Article 41). Again, this shows the fact that the society can be fluid and changing, not something that is static and dull as the Orientalist bourgeois media likes to paint it. Promotion of culture is connected with the State working toward establishing a “new socialist way of life in every sphere” while eliminating the way of “life inherited from the outmoded society” (Article 42) referring to the society under brutal Japanese occupation (1910-1945) undoubtedly. This chapter also says that the State shall embody the principles of “socialist pedagogy” (teaching) in order to raise the new generation to be not only “steadfast revolutionaries who will fight for society and the people,”  but to be those of the “Juche type” (in the 1998 Constitution it was “communist type”) who are “knowledgeable, morally sound and physically healthy” (Article 43). This is interconnected with the State’s efforts to:

  • give “precedence to public education and the training of cadres” for the nation as a whole, closely combining “general education with technological education, and education with productive labor” (Article 44)
  • develop a “universal compulsory twelve-year education” program in accordance with modern science, technology, and “practical requirements of socialist construction” (Article 45)
  • train “competent technicians and experts,” through the enhancement of the regular educational system, different forms of “studying while working” and improvement of the scientific and theoretical “levels of technological education” and education in basic and social sciences (Article 46).

There are further aspects showing the democratic nature of the state.  Not only is education to “all pupils and students” provided by the State “free of charge, and “grant allowances to students at universities and colleges” (Article 47), but the State works to strengthen social education with the provision of “all conditions for study” to the working people (Article 48). One major example of this in action is the Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang, which opened in April 1982, after it was constructed over a period of 21 months, available to all the citizens. This is connected to Article 49 which says that the State will pay for all children in creches (hospitals) and kindergartens while Article 50 says that Juche shall be established in scientific research. This will be accomplished, says the article, with the introduction of “advanced science and technology in every possible way” with the opening up of “new areas of science and technology” while raising the country’s “science and technology to the world level.” The latter article is connected with Article 51, which says that the state shall put forward a plan to “develop science and technology,” implemented through “strict discipline” while strengthening “creative cooperation among scientists, technicians and producers.” This is important for any society, but especially one on the road to socialism. This cooperation is manifested in Article 52 saying that “Juche-oriented, revolutionary art and literature,” which is socialist in content and national in form, will be developed by the State through the encouragement of “creative workers and artists to produce workers of high ideological and artistic value” (like Mansudae Art Studio). This is coupled with enlisting “broad sections of the masses in literary and artistic activities” and the provision, by the State as outlined in Article 53, of “sufficient modern cultural facilities” which meet the demands of people who want to improve themselves physically and mentally, so the working class can “enjoy a full socialist cultured, aesthetic life.” There are other efforts of the State to defend and develop the country’s culture: safeguarding the Korean language and developing it to meet “present-day needs” (Article 54) and preparing people for work and national defense through the popularization of sport and physical culture, making it part of their “daily regime” (or their daily lives) with the augmenting of sporting skills to meet the reality of the country and trend in “modern sporting skills” (Article 55). The State is also obligated to improve the health of working people through developing and consolidating the “system of universal free medical service” and improving the system of preventive medicine and “district doctor system” (Article 56). Finally, the State is also obligated to protect and promote the environment, preferring it over production, preventing environmental pollution, and working to provide the populace “with a hygienic living environment and working conditions,” meaning it has a pro-ecology stand (Article 57).

Looking at the 1998 Constitution and the one after 2016 makes it clear that there weren’t many changes, meaning that country is still moving forward in developing its socialist culture, building upon what they have and making it better.

From here is Chapter IV which focuses on National Defense. Article 58 says that the country is “shored up by the all-people, nationwide defence system,” while Article 60 says that the state will implement the line of “self-reliance defence” with the training of the army to be an army of cadres, modernizing the armed forces, arming of all the country’s people, fortifying the country, and equipping the “army and the people politically and ideologically,” which are basically the same in 1998 and 2016.

However, the other articles have changed:

  • For Article 59, DPRK is now Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Before the mission was to “safeguard the interests of the working people, to defend the socialist system and the gains of the revolution from aggression” but now the mission is to “defend the leadership of the revolution, to safeguard the interests of the working people, to defend the socialist system and the gains of the revolution” while implementing the “Songun-based revolutionary line.”
  • For Article 61, the 1998 version said that military and mass discipline in the armed forces will be strengthened, with the promotion of unity between offices and men, and the army and the people. The 2016 version talks about a “revolutionary command system and military climate” but the text remains the same otherwise.

These changes show that Juche Korea is adapting to its environment, with a focus more on defense of the country from imperialist attack than ever before, which is justified without a doubt, after the assault by the capitalist poles of the world since the demise of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

Merciless retaliation!

The next section worth focusing on is Chapter V, titled “Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens”). Between the 1998 version and the 2016 version (the most recent), there have been few changes in this chapter. As such, in both versions, citizens, whose claim to citizenship is defined by a “law of nationality” and is under protection “regardless of domicile” (Article 62), have their rights and duties based on the collectivist principle of “one for all and all for one” (Article 63) with the state guaranteeing “genuine democratic rights and freedoms,” the citizens’ material and cultural well-being. Furthermore, their he “rights and freedoms of citizens” are amplified with the development and consolidation “of the socialist system” (Article 64). With this, citizens are able to:

  • “enjoy equal rights in all spheres of State and public activity” (Article 65)
  • “elect and be elected” once they have reached the “age of 17,” with this right available regardless of “sex, race, occupation, length of residence, property status, education, party affiliation, political views or religious belief” (Article 66). This also applies to citizens who serve in the armed forces. Someone can only be disenfranchised by a “Court decision” or if they are “legally certified insane,” meaning that they do not have the right to “elect or be elected.” This broad description of universal suffrage is an undeniable expression of democracy, with those who are disabled helped to a great deal in Juche Korea, as I’ve seen in various news reports.
  • exercise their freedom of speech, press, assembly, demonstration and association, with the State guaranteeing conditions for the “free activities of democratic political parties and social organizations” (Article 67). As will be explained later, this is not conceived the same as bourgeois “free expression.”
  • exercise their “freedom of religious belief,” a right which includes the ability to construct religious buildings and hold religious ceremonies, but cannot be used as a reason to draw in “foreign forces,” harm the social order or the State (Article 68). Roland Boer, on Stalin’s Moustache, writes about this, reprinting a section from his new book, Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition, noting that Kim Il Sung’s personal background was “the Reformed tradition [of Christianity] embodied in Presbyterianism” with Kim highlighting “progressive Christians” who advocated for Korean independence in his memoirs while he had a “continuing interest in religion and religious history” and that in 1981, a Reverend, Kim Song Rak, who visited Juche Korea, with Kim saying he should “pray before his meal” which surprised the reverend, as he had “not expected a communist leader to be concerned about prayer.” Boer adds that specifically for Juche Korea, “the state constructs churches for believers and provides them with accommodation” with a religious department within Kim Il Sung University, “affinity between some Christians in the south and communism,” and a decline of belief due to the destruction of all structures in the North during the Fatherland Liberation War, with a focus on “rebuilding the country” after the war, rather than rebuilding religious structures which had been destroyed.In another post on the subject, also coming from his book, Red Theology: On the Christian Communist Tradition, he writes that “local Chondoism (Ch’ŏndogyo) – or ‘Religion of the Heavenly Way’ – is recognised and favoured by the government” because it is “a very Korean form of revolutionary religion,” melds many different religious influences (“Daoist, Confucian, Buddhist, Roman Catholic influences) with those of a local variety, and more specifically was part of the anti-Japanese colonial struggle, with its connection with revolutionary struggle (then the Tonghak Revolution), a “precursor to the communist movement.” With all of this, Chondoism stayed a “northern Korean movement” primarily, with “almost 3 million adherents in the north and about 800 places of worship” with Chondoism “bequeathed to Korean culture a number of principles, with an explicit drive to social and religious equality,” which connects to ” Kim’s articulation of communism in terms of their common source,”  with his argument that “the people are God-heaven.” Kim also says that “Marx’s most well-known statement that religion is the opium of the people” is meant to warn against temptation of religious mirage, not opposing believers in general, saying that communists should welcome, join hands with patriotic religionists, saying that Marx’s idea is not “a universal formula that should be applied everywhere, but rather a guide for action that should be sensitive to the specific conditions and traditions of a situation.”
  • exercise their right to submit petitions and complaints, which the state is obligated to “investigate and deal with” in an impartial manner “as stipulated by law (Article 69). This is a change from the 1998 version, with the words “Complaints and petitions shall be…dealt with…within the period fixed by law” which has changed to “The State shall investigate and deal with complaints and petitions impartially as stipulated by law” which is even more democratic.
  • exercise their “right to work,” which is totally different than the anti-union “right to work” proposed in the U$, which means that all citizens who are able-bodied can choose occupations which are in “accordance with their wishes and skills,” and are, as a result, “provided with stable jobs and working conditions” (Article 70). Furthermore, citizens work according to their abilities and are paid “in accordance with the quantity and quality of their work.” The latter echoes what Marx wrote in Part 1 of his Critique of the Gotha Programme: “In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly – only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!
  • exercise the “right of relaxation” which is ensured by established working hours, provision of holidays, “paid leave, accommodation at health resorts and holiday homes” which are available “at State expense” and the “growing network of cultural facilities” (Article 71)
  • exercise the right to “free medical care” with all persons who cannot work anymore because of “old age, illness or physical disability along with “seniors and minors” who have no means to support themselves are “entitled to material assistance” (Article 72). This right of free medical care is ensured through an “expanding network of hospitals, sanatoria…medical institutions, State social insurance and other social security systems.”
  • exercise the “right to education” which is enshrined by an “advanced educational system” and by “educational measures enacted by the State for the benefit of the people” (Article 73)
  • engage in “scientific, literary and artistic pursuits” with the State granting benefits to “inventors and innovators” with the law of the country protecting “copyrights, inventions and patents” (Article 74). The newer Constitution added the word “inventions” as something the country would protect.
  • exercise their “freedom of residence and travel” (Article 75), an important right for a democratic society, further proving that no one is “keeping” those in Juche Korea there against their will. People can leave and return as they please.

There’s more. The State also guarantees the “inviolability of the person…the home, and privacy of correspondence” with citizens not placed under “control or arrest” or a person’s home not searched “without a legal warrant” (Article 79). Furthermore, revolutionary fighters, families of patriotic or revolutionary martyrs, families of soldiers who are “disabled on duty” and those who are in the People’s Army, enjoy “special protection of State and Society” (Article 76). Additionally, the right of asylum is provided to foreign nationals who are “persecuted for struggling for peace and democracy, national independence and socialism or for the freedom of scientific and cultural pursuits” (Article 80), showing the country stands for international solidarity.

Let us transform the equipment and production lines of light-industry factories into labour- and electricity-saving ones!

Juche Korea also grants rights to women, showing that it believes the liberation of women is part of the Korean revolution, which some could call “feminist” or at least “female empowerment.” This is through the declaration that women and men have equal rights and equal social status, with the state affording “special protection to mothers and children” with maternity leave, reduced working hours for those with several children, a “wide network of maternity hospitals…kindergartens” and other measures (Article 77). Anything that isn’t included there is encapsulated in the State being obligated to provide “all conditions for women to play their full roles in society,” like Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, who is a “serious politician in her own right.” This, is undeniably important. It is connected to Article 78 saying that “marriage and the family shall be protected by the State. The State pays great attention to consolidating the family, the basic unit of social life.” Whatever one might think, this doesn’t run afoul of Marx’s criticism of the bourgeois family, as such marriages and families are important for keeping the society together, especially when it is under imperialist assault.

As has been noted earlier, universal suffrage and the ability to be elected (noted in Article 66),  is provided to all above the age of 17, including those “in the armed forces,” except for those disenfranchised by a court, or those “legally certified insane.”This means that citizens of Juche Korea can be elected to the Supreme People’s Assembly, the “highest organ of State power in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” and the “People’s Assembly of a province (or municipality directly under central authority), city (or district) or county,” which is “the local organ of State power,” central to the governmental system and democracy within the country as a whole.

In exchange for these broad fundamental rights, citizens have a number of duties, showing that the “free expression” cannot support capitalist aims to destroy the socialist system. For one, citizens are bound to safeguard “political and ideological unity and solidarity of the people” while cherishing their “organization and collective” by working in devoted manner “for the good of society and the people” (Article 81). Citizens are further required, as they would in any society, to strictly follow the state’s laws and socialist standards in life, while defending their “honour and dignity” as citizens of the country (Article 82).  Most importantly, citizens, whom have the noble duty and honor of work, shall “willingly and conscientiously participate in work and strictly observe labour discipline and working hours” (Article 83). The latter allows for effective socialist construction, and will work to take care of the property (which is “inviolable”) of social, cooperative organizations and the State with the combating of all “forms of misappropriation and waste” as they work to “manage the nation’s economy diligently as the masters” (Article 84). This again shows the democratic nature of the state, and that people manage the economy, a planned economy, with Juche Korea on the road to socialism. Finally, Article 85 says that citizens should “constantly increase their revolutionary vigilance” with fighting for the “security of the State” while Article 86 says that citizens shall “defend the country,” as national defense is the honor and “supreme duty” of citizens,” serving in the armed forces as “required by law.”

Self-reliance is Korea’s way of creation!

We then get to Chapter VI which is titled “State Organs” which has 8 sub-sections, which will show, once and for all, how the state is not a dynasty, monarchy, dictatorship, or has hereditary rule but is rather one that is democratic without question. The first sub-section  (section 1) focuses on the Supreme People’s Assembly, which is called SPA for the rest if this article. For one, the legislature is the “highest organ of state power” in the country (Article 87), not the “Kim family” as Orientalist bourgeois media and their allies would make you believe. Additionally, the SPA, which exercises “legislative power” (Article 88), has a Presidium who may “exercise legislative power” when the SPA is not in session and whom convenes the regular sessions once or twice a year, with extraordinary sessions held at their request or if one-third of the deputies request such a session (Article 92). In another element of democracy, the SPA requires a “quorum of at least two thirds” of the deputies in order to meet (Article 93) with the deputies elected “on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot” (Article 89). This connects to Article 66, as noted earlier, that all citizens over the age of 17, regardless of “sex, race, occupation, length of residence, property status, education, party affiliation, political views…religious belief,” or if they are in the armed forces, can elect individuals or be elected, with disenfranchisement only occurring due to a Court decision or if someone is “legally certified insane.” Deputies, unlike those in the U$ House of Representatives who serve for two years and in the U$ Senate for six years, are elected for a “term of five years” with a new session the SPA elected according to the SPA Presidium’s decision, with the possible prolonging of the term of office of a SPA session if “unavoidable circumstances render an election impossible” (Article 90) like the gap between the SPA election in September 1948 and August 1957 because “the DPRK was in no shape to have an election in the middle of defending itself from imperialist attack” (referring to the Fatherland Liberation War), or between the 1990 election and July 1998, due to the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994, with the next elections in the country scheduled for 2019. In my article on elections in the country, specifically focused on the SPA, I added that

the SPA in the DPRK…[is] the “highest organ of State power” and is a representative organ which is formed “through an election conducted of the free will of the entire Korean people” and composed of deputies who are selected by “secret ballot on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage,” with the same principle applied to election of deputies “to local power organs such as provincial, city and county People’s Assemblies”….With only one registration and one ballot cast per voter, in elections that are announced 60 days before for the SPA and 30 days before for the ” provincial, city and county People’s Assemblies,” voters cast a ballot directly for a candidate for the deputy position…The SPA’s most important and exclusive power is “legislative power” which includes adopting, amending, and supplementing the Constitution…the SPA has adopted the Constitution’s principles by passing Socialist Labour Law, Land Law, Law on Public Health, Law on the Nursing and Upbringing of Children, Law on Environmental Protection, the Criminal Law, the Civil Law, the Family Law, laws for the “total elimination of tax in kind and taxation which is the remnant of the outdated society” with no tax system no longer in the DPRK…the SPA follows steps of “deliberation, adoption and proclamation,” with laws submitted by numerous entities…and approved by a “show of hands”…The SPA also has the authority to form central institutions of the state, electing the President of the DPRK…who then picks a number of other individuals….members on SPA committees and the head of the Administration Council (the Premier) are elected and accountable to the SPA….the SPA holds regular sessions to “discuss and solve problems” once or twice a year and extraordinary sessions when needed, with quorum of “more than a half the total number of deputies to meet” and laws adopted having immediate legal effect…SPA Committees, whose members  are elected among deputies according to the size of leadership, debate about draft laws and budget plans before deliberation by the whole body. However, they cannot “initiate legislative activities nor adopt decisions of any legal validity independently.” [Such committees include the]…Credentials Committee (credentials members in the SPA)…the Bills Committee [which] “deliberates on the bills, amendments to constitution and laws submitted to the SPA”…Budget Committees [which] “deliberates upon whether or not the settlement account and compilation of the State budget submitted for deliberation to the SPA conforms with the needs of People”…the Foreign Affairs Committee [which] “discusses the issues arising in foreign affairs, draws up and makes public the documents specifying the stands of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the Committee”…the Reunification Policies Committee [which] “recommends the measures to be taken by the Supreme People’s Assembly in connection with the national reunification question to the Supreme People’s Assembly or the Standing Committee of the SPA”…[the] Standing Committee [which,] “when the SPA is not in session” [undertakes the work of the SPA committees when the SPA is not in session, with this committee working as]…a permanent body of the SPA…[a] permanent organ between sessions…[It is] composed of Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, a secretary general and 15 members including the representatives of political parties and social organizations

In the same article, I noted that the SPA is “the highest national representative organ of the entire people” and that the ” election of a new SPA is held by a decision of the Standing Committee of the SPA prior to expiry of the term of office of the current SPA” with the Standing Committee helping “organize the next (or current) election of the SPA.”

As the highest organ of state power in Juche Korea, the SPA elects its Speaker and Deputy Speaker, with the speaker presiding over the legislative sessions each year (Article 94), with the SPA, in its first session, electing a Credentials Committee, and after hearing its report, adopts “a decision confirming the credentials of deputies” (Article 96), with various committees (as noted earlier) appointed by the legislature, including the vice-chair and chair of these committees, with these committees assisting the SPA in its work, while planning or deliberating “the State policy and bills,” taking measures for “their implementation,” with the committees working under the guidance of the SPA Presidim during “intervals between sessions” of the SPA (Article 98). In order to promote decorum, deputies to the SPA are “guaranteed inviolability,” meaning that no deputy may be “arrested or punished” without the legislature’s consent, or, when it is not in session with the “consent of the Presidium” unless “he or she is caught in the act” (Article 99) which is in broader terms in the 2016 Constitution than the one in 1998. With all this, it is worth saying that the SPA has a number of specific responsibilities as outlined in Article 97:

The Supreme People’s Assembly issues laws, ordinances and decisions. Laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly are adopted when more than half of the deputies attending signify approval by a show of hands. The Constitution is amended or supplemented with the approval of more than two-thirds of the total number of deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly.

This is expanded from 1998, which only said the SPA could issue “laws and decisions.” Similarly, in the newest Constitution, deputies are allowed to present items to be considered, which wasn’t said explicitly in 1998, with the “Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the State Affairs Commission,” Presidium of the SPA, Cabinet, and Committees of the SPA also allowed to present “items to be considered” (Article 95). Last but not least are the authorities of the SPA, outlined in Article 91, to:

  • “amend or supplement the Constitution”
  • “adopt, amend or supplement laws”
  • “approve the major laws adopted by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session”
  • “establish the basic principles of the State’s domestic and foreign policies”
  • “elect or recall the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly…the Vice-Chairmen and members of the State Affairs Commission on the recommendation of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…the Vice-Presidents, Honorary Vice-Presidents, Secretary and members of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly…the Premier of the Cabinet…the President of the Central Court…the Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen and members of the Committees of the Supreme People’s Assembly”
  • “appoint the Vice-Premiers, Chairmen, Ministers [like those from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] and other members of the Cabinet on the recommendation of the Premier of the Cabinet”
  • “appoint or remove the Prosecutor General of the Central Public Prosecutors Office;
  • “deliberate and approve the State plan for the development of the national economy and the report on its implementation”
  • “deliberate and approve the State budget and the report on its implementation”
  • “hear a report on the work of the Cabinet and the central bodies when necessary, and adopt relevant measures”
  • “decide on ratification and nullification of treaties suggested to the Supreme People’s Assembly”
Celebration of the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea

Some of the legislative powers, like the ability to revise the constitution, adopt and revise laws, work on a state budget, appoint members of the cabinet (with the recommendation of the Cabinet premier) hear the report of the Cabinet’s work, ratify or nullify treaties, are common for parliaments and legislatures across the world. However, the above shows the SPA, which is the people’s legislature (hence the name “Supreme People’s Assembly”) is the highest element of power in Juche Korea as it can establish domestic and foreign policy, deliberate the State plan on the economy, appoint or remove the Prosecutor General, and most importantly, elect or recall the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, President of the SPA Presidium, members of the State Affairs Commission on the recommendation of the Chairman, members of the SPA Presidium, the Cabinet Premier, President of the Central Court, and members “of the Committees of the Supreme People’s Assembly.” This makes all of these individuals accountable to the SPA, and more fundamentally accountable to the population at large, who have the right to elect and recall these members through their representatives. As RedBitsaccount noted rightly on the communist101 subreddit,

Every five years they have a general election for the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), they also have city, provincial and county elections. The candidates are chosen prior to the election not by the Worker’s Party of Korea, but by mass meetings that are organized by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland (DFRF). The DFRF is composed by the WPK, the Chondoist and the Korean Social-Democratic Party. In these meetings, debates are held and attempts at consensus are made. Once the candidates have been chosen, their names are in the ballot box. For the SPA, they elect their deputies. After the election, the SPA goes to a meeting were they hold another internal election to elect the following: the President, the Prime-Minister and the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and these all must be a elected Deputy to hold such a position. The President is responsible for signing treaties involving the DPRK and other countries, among other foreign matters; currently, this positions is held by Kim Yong Nam, and despite having the name ‘Kim’, he’s not related to Kim Jong Un. The Prime-Minister manages the ministries, that in turn manage internal affairs such as the economy. This position is held by Pak Jong Ju. Finally, the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission is the commander of the DPRK’s armed forces. This is the position that Kim Jong Un currently holds. The last election for the SPA’s deputies was in 2014. Contrary to popular belief, both Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un (Kim Il Sung is the exception) rarely occupied positions such as the Prime-Minister or the President. Most of the times, they were the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and…received the title of ‘Supreme Commander’, which is more a ceremonial [title] than political one [by any stretch]

He further added that the Chairman is “responsible for things like declaring state of war or state of emergency, and all other things related to managing the armed forces in case of conflict” but that “legislation is not made by the Chairman, or any of the above. Its made by the SPA in joint sessions and voted by their 687 deputies.”

This chart shows the centrality of the SPA to the governmental system of Juche Korea, focusing on Articles 87-168 (the other articles are noted elsewhere). The ability of the SPA to “hear a report on the work of the central bodies when necessary, and adopt relevant measures” is not included here, as “central bodies” is a broad term covering different institutions. The Chairman, the position which Kim Jong Un current holds, does not have the power of other institutions at all.

With that discussion, it brings us to Section 2 of Chapter 6, titled “the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” The State Affairs Commission superseded the National Defence Commission, with Kim Il Sung (from 1972 to 1993) and Kim Jong Il (from 1993 to 2011) as chairmen of this commission, while Kim Jong Un was the First Chairman of the commission from 2012 to 2016, and has been chairman of the State Affairs Commission since 2016, with the new Constitution. As such, looking at this section is important to disprove the “autocratic” nature of Juche Korea claimed by some. Unlike Section 1, which had 13 articles dedicated to explaining the SPA, its duties, responsibilities, and role as the highest organ of state power, this section has only has six articles! The 1998 and 2016 versions have a number of similarities. In the 106 version, the chairman of the State Affairs Commission described as the “supreme leader” of the country (Article 100). Some may say this “proves” that the chairman runs the state, however, their term of office is the same as that of the SPA, meaning this person would have to be elected by the SPA every five years, meaning that if the SPA didn’t like the chairman, this person could be recalled, similar to what the 1998 version said (Article 101). In this position, not surprisingly, the the Chairman is Supreme Commander of the country’s armed forces, commanding and directing all of the State’s armed forces, which is basically what was the case in 1998 (Article 102). Furthermore, this chairman can issue orders (Article 104) but is, as noted earlier, “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 105), meaning that he (so far, but women could, under the constitution, hold this position) is accountable to the populace. There is only one article which outlines the seven “duties and authority,” allowing the Chairman to

  1. direct the overall affairs of the State;
  2. personally guide the work of the State Affairs Commission;
  3. appoint or remove key cadres of the State;
  4. ratify or rescind major treaties concluded with other countries;
  5. exercise the right of granting special pardon;
  6. proclaim a state of emergency, a state of war and mobilization order within the country;
  7. organize and direct the National Defence Committee in wartime.

While the 1998 version said that the Chairman had the duty to guide armed forces, create institutions in the “defence sector,” appoint or remove “major military cadres,” create new military titles, and proclaim a state of war, with orders for mobilization, the powers which are shown above. However, the Chairman now has the authority to “direct the overall affairs of the state,” personally guide the work of the Commission, ratify or rescind major treaties, exercise the right of special pardon, proclaim a state of emergency, and organize and direct a National Defence Committee during wartime. Some may, falsely, interpret this as a dictatorship. However, points 2, and 6, 7, on the list above, are focused on the military. Point 5, also on the above list, is almost a ceremonial duty. Some may be reminded that the SPA has the power to “decide on ratification and nullification of treaties suggested to the Supreme People’s Assembly” and may say that the Chairman’s power (in point 4) to “ratify or rescind major treaties concluded with other countries” invalidates such a power of the SPA. This is false. The Chairman’s power of ratifying and rescinding treaties is, if one interprets these two provisions, in response to the action of the SPA. He would not have the power to ratify or rescind such treaties if the SPA had not conducted action on these same documents, as he is accountable to the SPA, don’t forget.

Single-hearted unity is the great foundation and ever victorious weapon for the Juche revolution!

Then there’s point 3, which says that the Chairman can “appoint or remove key cadres of the State.” This mirrors the 1998 constitution, which says that the Chairman can “appoint or remove major military cadres.” Using the Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition), a bourgeois dictionary, it means a member of a small unified political group or operational unit, “as of staff officers and key personnel.” This means that the Chairman cannot just remove any party member, but rather this would apply to key government officials, with his appointment of such officials undoubtedly needing some input from the SPA. Finally, there is point 1, saying that the Chairman has the power to “direct the overall affairs of the State.” Some may decry: this makes it a “dictatorship”! Again, this is wrong. The word “direct” is a late Middle English word which derives from the Latin word directus, which was the past participle of dirigere, meaning “arrange in direct lines” or “to guide.” [8] This word, once English started to mean “straighten”, or “guide” which synonyms like “manage, orchestrate, guide, control…oversee, supervise, guide…steer, orient, focus” with “obey” and “follow” as antonyms. From this, you can say that the authority to “direct the overall affairs of the State” means that the Chairman guides and orients the state and its actions in order to more forward the efforts of socialist reconstruction. Even so, this does not mean he is a dictator. In Latin, the term dictator meant a magistrate who was “appointed in times of crisis and given absolute authority” for a maximum six-month or one-year term, like Julius Caesar. [9] Under the Constitution, the Chairman does not have such “absolute authority” and, as noted so far, the State is not ruled by a “single or sole ruler” as it would be in a monarchy or by a person who wields “absolute power and authority,” engaging in the “unreasoned, unpredictable use of one’s authority in accord with one’s own will or desire.” The power and authority of the government lies with the SPA, not with the Chairman. In fact, you could call the Chairman a “ruler” using the same bourgeois dictionary, since he guides the country, but he does not have “supreme authority” with the title of “supreme leader” basically a ceremonial one, as he does not have absolute power in Juche Korea, not at all.

That brings us to Section 3 of Chapter 6, titled the “State Affairs Commission.” This cannot be compared to the 1998 Constitution because, at the time, this section did not exist. This body, which is headed by the Chairman, is considered “the supreme policy-oriented leadership body of State power” (Article 106) with its members being “the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and members” (Article 107). The term of office for those on the commission is the same as that of the SPA: five years (Article 109), and while it can “issue decisions and directives” like the Chairman can issue orders (Article 110), it is, like all elected or appointed positions, within the government, “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 111). The commission itself has only three duties and authorities, laid out in Article 109, even less than the Chairman:

  1. discuss and decide important policies of the State, including those for defence building;
  2. exercise supervision over the fulfilment of the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, and take measures for their fulfilment;
  3. abrogate [repeal or annul] decisions and directives of State organs which run counter to the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission.

The above shows that the commission would “discuss and decide” important State policies, meaning that the commission would reach a judgment or determination on important State policies, but it does not say that this commission would implement them, as such policies would still need to be approved by the SPA. Additionally, these policies would likely be mostly relating to the military. The supervision of the Chairman’s orders and the decisions and directives of the commission, with efforts to execute such efforts, means that this body is an executive body in that it executes executive authorities. However, it is not implementing the laws of the SPA, but just those directives and decisions made by the commission and the Chairman’s orders. It is my thinking that the “National Defence Commission” was changed to the State Affairs Commission so that this commission wasn’t just focused on defense of the country, but was more broad, covering all state policy, allowing for more discussion and deliberation.

Another executive who is often ignored in the bourgeois media as they want to focus on the “supreme leader,” who has little power as discussed earlier and could be said to be a bit of a figurehead, is the SPA Presidium, which was mentioned briefly in an earlier point of this article. The current President of the Presidium is Kim Jong-nam.  The SPA Presidium is discussed in detail in section 4 of chapter 6, which has changed slightly from 1998. For one, the SPA Presidium is a body which is the “highest organ of State power” (Article 112) when the SPA is not in session, consisting of the “President, Vice-President, Secretary” and other members (Article 113). Additionally, this body, as stated in Article 114, may have a few “Honorary Vice-Presidents” who can be deputies in the SPA who have “participated in the work of State building” for some time and have “distinguished service” meaning that the term “honorary” is one that is ceremonial in nature. Those within this body have terms of office which are five years long, the same as the SPA, with the Presidium continuing its work “until a new Presidium is elected, even after the term of the Supreme People’s Assembly expires” (Article 115). While this government body, part of the SPA, can issue “decrees, decisions and directives” (Article 120) and even have “Committees to assist it in its work” (Article 121) it is still “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly”  (Article 122). In order to carry out these decisions, directives, and decrees, it convenes “Plenary Meetings and Meetings of the Permanent Committee” with the plenary meetings consisting of members of the Presidium, and the meeting of the Permanent Committee consisting of only “the President, Vice-Presidents and Secretary” (Article 118). Furthermore, the Plenary Meeting “deliberates and decides on important matters arising in fulfilling the duties of the Presidium and exercising its authority” while the Meeting of the Permanent Committee “deliberates and decides on matters entrusted to it by the Plenary Meeting” (Article 119), meaning that the Permanent Committee and Plenary Meeting are inter-dependent on each other.

Specific members of the Presidium have certain duties. The President organizes and guides the work of the governmental body, representing the State, receiving “credentials and letters of recall” from diplomatic representatives of foreign countries (Article 117). More broadly, the Presidium itself has 19 duties, outlined in Article 116, the last of which was new in the 2016 Constitution (not in the 1998 version).

Let officials make selfless-devoted efforts for the benefit of the people!

Point 1, of the Presidium’s list of duties, says that this governmental body has the important duty of convening “sessions of the Supreme People’s Assembly.” This is connected with Point 2,  the adoption and deliberation of new draft regulations, bills, amendments and supplements to current regulations and laws between each session of the SPA, working to obtain “approval of the next session of the Supreme People’s Assembly for major laws which are adopted and enforced.” The same is the case with point 3, the approval and deliberation of “the State plan for the development of the national economy, the State budget and plans for their adjustment which are raised “for unavoidable reasons in the intervals between sessions of the Supreme People’s Assembly.” Almost like the Supreme Court in the U$, this body interprets the “Constitution as well as current laws and regulations” (point 4) but also works to make sure laws are observed “by the State organs and take relevant measures” as a result (point 5). This is further buttressed by the efforts the Presidium goes to work with the deputies and committees of the SPA (points 8 and 9). Apart from the formalities of issuing “decorations, medals, titles of honour and diplomatic ranks and confer decorations, medals and titles of honour” (point 16) and granting “general amnesties” (point 17), this governmental body can: set up or abolish cabinet ministries or commissions (point 10), and establish or alter administrative districts or units (point 18), appoint or remove members of committees of the Presidium itself (point 12). Related powers include the ability to elect or recall People’s Assessors and Judges of the Central Court (point 13), appoint or recall “diplomatic representatives to other countries” (point 15), and the removal or appointment of “Vice-Premiers, Chairmen, Ministers and other members of the Cabinet” the Premier of the Cabinet’s recommendation “when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session” (point 11). Like the SPA and the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the Presidium has powers when it comes to treaties. Specifically, it can “approve or nullify treaties concluded with other countries” (point 14). While the Chairman’s power of ratifying and rescinding treaties is in response to the action of the SPA, the Presidium’s power is the next step after the SPA’s action, which decides if treaties should be ratified or nullified.

The Presidium is more than just a legislative/executive body, but is also looks to make sure the laws of the country are aligned. This is through its power, in point 6, to “rescind the decisions and directives of State bodies which run counter to the Constitution, laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly, orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, and the decrees, decisions and directives of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and suspend the implementation of unwarranted decisions of local People’s Assemblies” which is almost like the U$ Supreme Court declaring laws unconstitutional, but more wide-reaching, as this is important to maintain the democratic nature of society and move forward on the road to socialism. Even so, this comparison is not meant to say that this governmental body has judicial powers, because it does not (the court system has those powers). Connected to this is the fact that the Presidium also serves as an election management body, by conducting “the election of deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly” and organizing “the elections of deputies to the local People’s Assemblies” (point 7) which is, again, an important part of democracy in Juche Korea. Finally, the Presidium, which has electoral, legislative, and executive powers, also has a diplomatic role: it conducts “external activities including contacts with foreign parliaments and inter-parliamentary organizations” (point 19).

We then get to section 5, of Chapter 6, titled “The Cabinet” which has been slightly changed over the years, with more clarification in the 2016 constitution. The Cabinet is fundamentally an executive and administrative body (Article 123) and consists of the “Premier, Vice-Premiers, Chairmen, Ministers  and other members” with their term of office being five years, the same as the SPA (Article 124). This means that Chairman Kim Jong-Un is part of the cabinet, but not its head as will be explained in the next paragraph.

Certain members have specific duties. The Premier, who “organizes and guides the work of the cabinet” represents the government itself (Article 126). While Kim Il Sung was the premier of the cabinet from 1948 to 1972, no member of the Kim family has held the position since, with Pak Pong-ju as the current Premier, who “began his career as a manager of the Ryongchon Food Factory in Ryongchon County, North Pyongan.” He was premier from 2003 to 2007, after which he reportedly “fell out of favor,” replaced by Kim Yong Il (who became the new Premier) and became “instrumental in formulating and executing new economic laws promulgated in the summer of 2010 involving labor rights and the protection of SOEs and JVs in the DPRK” before starting his second term as Premier, which has lasted from 2013 to the present. Each Premier, who has been newly-elected, “takes an oath of allegiance on behalf of the members of the Cabinet at the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 132).

There are other powers of the Cabinet, which are important to the conducting of governmental duties. For one, the Cabinet can convene “Plenary Meetings and Meetings of the Permanent Committee” with the former meetings consisting of all Cabinet members, and the latter only consisting of the “Premier, Vice-Premiers and other members of the Cabinet appointed by the Premier” (Article 127). More specifically, as Article 128 outlines,  the Plenary Meeting “deliberates and decides on new and important administrative and economic matters” while the Permanent Committee “deliberates and decides on matters referred to it by the Plenary Meeting of the Cabinet” meaning that the Plenary Meeting and Permanent Committee are interdependent on each other (Article 128). In order to assist with its other work, the Cabinet may “have non-permanent committees” (Article 130), along with commissions and ministries (like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), serving as executive and administrative bodies, supervising and guiding work of “the sectors concerned” in a uniform way and under the Cabinet’s guidance (Articles 133 and 134). Apart from this, these ministries and commissions have their own powers: they can run “committee meetings and cadre meetings” with both of these meetings deliberating and deciding on measures to implement the “decisions and directives of the Cabinet and other important matters” (Article 135) and they can “issue directives” (Article 136)

The Cabinet, as a whole, can issue “decisions and directives” (in 1998 it only “adopted” decisions and directives) as stated in Article 129. This encompasses many areas, as outlined in Article 125. For one, the Cabinet can adopt measures to implement State policies and can also amend, adopt, or supplement “regulations on State administration” on the basis of the country’s laws and the constitution itself. Additionally, it can draft the State plan for the “development of the national economy” and adopt measures “measures to put it into effect” after this plan has been approved by the SPA, of course. The Cabinet also has the power to compile the State budget, and adopt measures to implement this budget after the SPA has approved the budget. On its own authority, the Cabinet can adopt measures to “strengthen the monetary and banking system,” inspect and control the “establishment of order in State administration” in order to ensure government efficiency. Also, this governmental body can abolish or establish organs, which includes “major administrative and economic bodies and enterprises” while can also “adopt measures for improving State administration bodies.” Complementing this, the Cabinet can adopt measures to maintain “public order, protect the property and interests of the State and social, cooperative organizations, and safeguard the rights of citizens.” More importantly, the Cabinet has the power to “organize and execute” the work of “industry, agriculture, construction, transport, post and  telecommunications, commerce, foreign trade, land administration, municipal administration,  education, science, culture, health service, physical culture and sport, labour administration,  protection of environment, [and] tourism” to name a few. It also serves as a check on any other governmental body by being able to “rescind the decisions and directives of administrative and economic bodies which run counter to the decisions and directives of the Cabinet.” The Cabinet also has the power to “conclude treaties with foreign countries and conduct external affairs” which, of course, still has to be deliberated by the SPA, approved by the Presidium, and ratified or rescinded by the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, following the actions of previous governmental bodies. This connects all these elements. Most importantly of all, the Cabinet has the power to “direct the work of the Commissions and Ministries of the Cabinet, organs directly under its authority and local People’s Committees.” This is an important part of the functioning of the governmental system and keeping other parts of democracy in Juche Korea aligned with each other.

Other powers of the cabinet are noted on the chart for the whole governmental system of Juche Korea.

With these powers, the Cabinet, like other parts of the government, is still “accountable to the Supreme People’s Assembly and to the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session” (Article 131) meaning that it is accountable to the masses of Juche Korea.

The local People’s Assembly (Chapter 6, Section 6), which is talked about in Articles 137 to 144 of the Constitution, is another part of the democratic system in Juche Korea, with few changes between the 1998 and 2016 Constitutions. Not only are local People’s Assemblies on the level of a province or municipality, city or district, and county, making them the “local organ of State power” but they consist of “deputies elected on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot” (Articles 137 & 138). Their terms of office are four years, are elected “according to the decision of the local People’s Committee at the corresponding level,” and when there are “unavoidable circumstances” which “render an election impossible,” the term of office of deputy of a local People’s Assembly is prolonged “until an election can be held” (Article 139). Like the SPA, a local People’s Assembly has “regular and extraordinary sessions” with regular sessions once or twice a year as convened by the “People’s Committee at the corresponding level” and extraordinary sessions “convened when the People’s Committee at the corresponding level deems them necessary” or at the request of a “minimum of one-third of the total number of deputies” (Article 141). Additionally, like the SPA, a local People’s Assembly “requires a quorum of at least two-thirds of the total number of deputies in order to meet” and elects a speaker (but not a Vice-Speaker) who presides over the assembly’s sessions (Articles 142 and 143). A local People’s Assembly can issue decisions (Article 144) on a number of issues. As outlined in Article 140, a local People’s Assembly can:

  • “deliberate and approve the local plan for the development of the national economy and the report on its implementation”
  • “deliberate and approve the local budget and the report on its implementation”
  • “adopt measures to observe State laws in the area concerned”
  • “elect or recall the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, Secretary and members of the People’s Committee at the corresponding level”
  • “elect or recall the Judges and People’s Assessors of the Court at the corresponding level”
  • “rescind unwarranted decisions and directives of the People’s Committee at the corresponding level and the People’s Assemblies and People’s Committees at lower levels”

As such, it is basically a SPA at the local level, showing that the masses have control of the State as a whole. This is because they can elect deputies to their local People’s Assembly and SPA, and be elected, allowing them to express themselves through the country’s political system, using it to improve their own means. As article 4 of the Constitution states, “the sovereignty of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea resides in the workers, peasants, soldiers, working intellectuals and all other working people. The working people exercise State power through their representative organs–the Supreme People’s Assembly and local People’s Assemblies at all levels.”

Let us all vote for the candidates!

Over the years, there have been a number of local elections in Juche Korea. They started in November 1946 [10], always with full participation, with bourgeois sources claiming there was 100% approval rate for members, which is likely a distortion. If we take the latter into account, this would reflect what Commie Dad said (as quoted earlier in this article): that candidates on the ballot are “chosen in mass meetings held under the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, which also organizes the political parties in the DPRK” with citizens running under these parties or as independents, with the fact that there is “only one candidate on the ballot is because there has already been a consensus reached on who should be up for nomination for that position, by the people in their mass meetings.” Hence, as he wrote, “the masses advocate for themselves directly…[and] the DPRK does in fact allow foreign observers of their election.” Since the elections in November 1946, there have been elections on the local level, for local committees and assemblies, expressing the wills of the masses, in February and March 1947, March 1949, November 1956, November 1959, 1963, November 1967, February 1975, March 1977, March 1981, 1983, 1985, November 1989, November 1993, March 1999, August 2003, July 2007, July 2011, and July 2015, with 774,598 individuals elected on the local level over those years! [11] The upcoming elections on the local level are to be next held in 2019. We can’t forget when the Washington Post published a map by the Electoral Integrity Project describing Juche Korea and Cuba as having “moderate quality elections,” the same category that the U$ was in!

Section 7, of Chapter 6, of the Constitution of Juche Korea, outlines the organization which oversees the local People’s Assembly: the local People’s Committee, with such committees overseeing local People’s Assemblies across the country. The same structures that were in place in 1998 are still in place in the 2016 Constitution. Such a committee, which is is located in a  province, municipality, city (or district) or county, “exercises the function of the local organ of State power when the People’s Assembly at the corresponding level is not in session and the administrative and executive organ of State power at the corresponding level” and consists of “the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, Secretary and members” with the term of office the “same as that of the corresponding People’s Assembly”: four years (Articles 145 & 146). It convenes Plenary Meetings and Meetings of the Permanent Committee, the former of which consist of all of the committee’s members, and the latter which consists of “the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and Secretary,” the Plenary Meetings deliberate and decide on “important matters arising in implementing its duties and exercising its authority” while the Meetings of the Permanent Committee deliberate and decide “on the matters referred to it by the Plenary Meeting,” meaning that the two are interdependent (Articles 148 & 149). Such a committee may also “have non-permanent committees to assist it in its work” (Article 151).

As an institution which “issues decisions and directives” (Article 150), and is accountable to the “corresponding People’s Assembly” while being “subordinate to the People’s Committees at higher levels, the Cabinet and the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 152) it is important to outline its duties and authorities. The latter are pointedly listed in Article 147:

  1. it can “convene sessions of the People’s Assembly” and organize “the election of deputies to the People’s Assembly” while working with “the deputies to the People’s Assembly”
  2. it organizes and carries out “all administrative affairs in the given area”
  3. drafts the “local plan for the development of the national economy and adopt measures to implement it” (local plan is approved by corresponding People’s Assembly)
  4. compiles “the local budget and adopt[s] measures for its implementation,” a budget which is approved by the corresponding People’s Assembly
  5. adopts “measures to maintain public order, protect the property and interests of the State and social, cooperative organizations and safeguard the rights of citizens in the given area”
  6. inspects and controls “the establishment of order in State administration in the given area”
  7. directs “the work of the People’s Committees at lower levels”
  8. rescinds “unwarranted decisions and directives of the People’s Committees at lower levels, and suspend the implementation of unwarranted decisions of the People’s Assemblies at lower levels”
  9. implements “the decisions and directives of the corresponding local People’s Assembly and the People’s Committees at higher levels, the laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’ Republic of Korea, the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, the decrees, decisions and directives of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the decisions and directives of the Cabinet and the Commissions and Ministries of the Cabinet”

So, the local People’s Committee is basically a Presidium on the local level, providing another check and balance in this system, unlike the U$ system which supposedly has such “checks and balances,” but this is just a way to cover up the reality: it is a plutocratic system which is and inherently unequal bourgeois democracy.

Let us defend our Party Central Committee unto death!

The final section of Chapter 6 is Section 8, titled “The Public Prosecutor and the Court.” It changed only slightly between the 1998 and 2016 versions. Prosecution and investigation carried out by the Central Prosecutors Office, Public Prosecutors of a province, municipality, city, district, or county, and the Special Public Prosecutors Office (Article 153), with the term of office of the Prosecutor General of the Central Prosecutors Office being five years long, the same as “that of the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 154). As a check on the power of public prosecutors, they can be “appointed or removed by the Central Public Prosecutors Office” (Article 155), and all “investigation and prosecution” is “conducted under the unified direction of the Central Public Prosecutors Office” with all Public Prosecutors Offices “subordinate to their higher offices and the Central Public Prosecutors Office,” another check (Article 157). Like other elements of government, the Central Public Prosecutors Office is accountable to the SPA and the Presidium of the SPA when the SPA is not in session, showing that the people have a check on the office itself (Article 158). Within Section 8, the functions of the Public Prosecutors Office is listed, in Article 156. Not only does this office work to “ensure the strict observance of State laws by institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens” but it also identifies and institutes “legal proceedings against criminals and offenders in order to protect the State power of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the socialist system, the property of the State and social, cooperative organizations, personal rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and the people’s lives and property.” More than the latter power, its power to

ensure that the decisions and directives of State bodies conform with the Constitution, the laws, ordinances and decisions of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the orders of the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the decisions and directives of the State Affairs Commission, the decrees, decisions and directives of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and the decisions and directives of the Cabinet

That brings us to the second half of section 8: Article 159-168 which focus on the country’s Central Court. This court is independent, but also works to administer justice, with “judicial proceedings are carried out in strict accordance with the law” (Article 166) and the Central Court serving as the “highest judicial organ of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (like the U$ Supreme Court) and supervising “the judicial activities of all the Courts” (Article 167). Furthermore, the Central Court is accountable to the SPA and the SPA Presidium “when the Supreme People’s Assembly is not in session” (Article 168). The term of office for the President of the Central Court being five years, “the same as that of the Supreme People’s Assembly” (Article 158). On the other hand, the term “of office of Judges and People’s Assessors of the Central Court, the Court (People’s Court) “of a province, municipality, City, District, or County, “is the same as that of the People’s Assembly at the corresponding level” or four years. Furthermore, justice is

administered by the Central Court, the Court of a province (or municipality directly under central authority), the City (or District) or County People’s Courts, and the Special Court. Verdicts are delivered in the name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In a check on the power of the courts, the judges and president “of the Special Court are appointed or removed by the Supreme Court” and the People’s Assessors “of the Special Court are elected by the soldiers of the unit concerned or by employees at their meetings” (Article 161). This is just another example of democracy in the system of Juche Korea, not a dictatorship by any stretch, except in the minds of those who hate the country with fury. We then get to Article 162. It says the the Central Court has the governmental function to protect, through its judicial procedures, “the State power and the socialist system established in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the property of the State and social, cooperative organizations, personal rights as guaranteed by the Constitution, and the lives and property of citizens,” ensure that all “institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens abide strictly by State laws and staunchly combat class enemies and all law-breakers” (maintain the  rule of law) and “give judgements and findings with regard to property and conduct notarial work” or work to certify or attest documents, take depositions or affidavits, as noted in the defintions of “notorial” and “notary public” within Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition).

Let us glorify the 65th founding anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War as a grand festival of victors! (2)

Finally, there is Chapter VII, titled “Emblem, Flag, Anthem, and Capital.” Between the 1998 and 2016 constitutions, there have been no changes other than “DPRK” changed to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: the national emblem of the country is still the same (Article 169), the national flag is the same (Article 170), the national flag is the same (Article 171), and the capital of Pyongyang is the same (Article 172). In the 1998 Constitution, the provisions for this section were Articles 163-166.

So far, we have talked about the 1998 Constitution (the “Kim Il Sung Constitution”) which was adopted by the SPA on Sept 5, 1998 and the 2016 Constitution (the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution” or the “nuclear” constitution). However, there have also been constitutions, which are not “political manifestos” as one bourgeois scholar claimed, in:

  • September 1948, the country’s first constitution. It was adopted after a “70-day debate nationwide on the draft constitution starting in February of the same year,” with the first session of the unicameral SPA meeting that year, with 572 deputies,”representing “workers, peasants, deskworkers, intellectuals, businessmen, merchants and religious people,” elected, with the Constitution adopted in early September, with “the founding of the DPRK proclaimed on September 9, resulting in the Korean people celebrating it annually as “their national day.”” This constitution was adopted when “a 31-person committee organized by the SPA to deliberate over the draft, with people’s opinions taken into account.” It is also worth noting, as acknowledged by a bourgeous scholar who thinks Juche Korea is autocratic (they all think that), “the authority to adopt and amend the Constitution in DPRK has belonged the the Supreme People’s Assembly since the first North Korean Constitution,” with the 1948 Constitution modeled after the 1936 constitution of the Soviet Union, sometimes called the “Stalin Constitution,” with this 1948 constitution being “ten chapters and 104 articles,” with the SPA modeled after the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, with some bourgeois scholars still saying it didn’t have “real power” as they always say about such states. [12] This Constitution says that “the state power of the D.P.R.K. belongs to the people” (Article 2), that “the land owned by the Japanese government and the Japanese nationals as well as  the Korean landlords is confiscated” (Article 6), that the “state encourages the development of the cooperative organizations of the people” (Article 9), establishes the Supreme People’s Assembly (Article 32) with deputies “elected at the ratio of one deputy for every 50,000 of the population” (Article 35) and the establishes “local organs of state power in provinces, cities, counties or city districts and ri, towns or workers’ settlements are the respective people’s assemblies” (Article 68), among other provisions. It s worth noting that for the U$, each representative, in the House, “represents” an average of “nearly 700,000” people, leading some to call for increase the number of representatives to 6,000 people in all, with the number of “representatives with full voting rights…435” a number set by law in 1913, with “the number of representatives per state is proportionate to population.” It is even worse for the Senate, as there are only 100 members. Combined together, that means 535 people are “representing” over 327.2 million people, which shows the inequity of this system.
  • December 1972, the “Juche Constitution.” Some say they were unable to find text of this constitution and others summarize it as having no preamble, and incorporating a number of “purely North Korean concepts” and is considered to be a “communist dictoatrship” with all power in the hands of the WPK and Kim Jong Il, while brushing aside the reality that the “Supreme People’s Assembly is the highest organ of State Power” with legislative power vested in this unicameral assembly and claiming that the head of the WPK approves all amendments, with the legislature’s role as a “formality” in common anti-communist thinking. [13] This constitution was important for introducing the concept of “chuch’e“/Juche and showed that  the country had gone beyond its socialist transformation of economic management and establishment of a socialist system since this draft was “put to debate two times in plenary meetings of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party and at the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, and then it was submitted to the SPA, adopted finally (and unanimously) by the deputies on December 27, 1972. As a result, Korean people celebrate this day as Socialist Constitution Day every passing year.” This constitution also established “the positions of president and vice presidents and a super-cabinet called the Central People’s Committee (CPC).” Others said that it “combines socialism and nationalism to produce a document of fundamental law that is unusual, even compared to the Constitutions of other Marxian socialist states,” “private property was totally eliminated,” socialist construction was continued, and therewere other elements that were part of the “made-for-Korea socialist system.” [14]
  • 1992. It was adopted one year after the Koreans, “had a chance to vote for those on the local level…[with] 26,074 people were elected to local and provincial assemblies” and the “final demise of the Soviet Union on December 26.” This Constitution “has 171 articles and seven chapters (twenty-two more and four less, respectively, than the 1972 constitution)” with major changes  including “the elevation of chuch’e [Juche] at the expense of Marxism-Leninism, the removal of references to the expulsion of foreign troops, and the addition of articles encouraging joint ventures, guaranteeing the “legitimate rights and interests of foreigners” along with “establishing a framework for expanded ties with capitalist countries.” Additionally, “the eighteen articles of Chapter 1 deal with politics…In Chapter 2, economic affairs are codified…Culture, education, and public health are covered in Chapter 3…Chapter 5 extensively details the fundamental rights and duties of citizens….Chapter 6, entitled “State Institutions,” has eighty articles and eight sections–more sections than any other chapter….Chapter 7, which covers the national emblem, the flag, and capital, describes the first two items, designates P’yongyang as the capital, and names the national anthem. In a change from the previous constitution, the 1992 revision mandates that “the sacred mountain of the revolution”–Paektu-san–be added to the national emblem.” [15] This constitution also eliminated the “expression of Marxism-Leninism in conjuction with juche” and replaced it with the principle of juche itself, and there were efforts to encourage foreign investment in Juche Korea after the collapse of the “world socialist system” in 1991. This Constitution was also, “aimed at legalizing the achievements and experiences obtained in the past 20 years of revolution, and meeting the new demand for a completion of the Juche revolutionary cause.”
  • April 2009, the “Shogun Constitution,” as some call it, was adopted. This constitution dropped the use of the word “communism.” That year, “Koreans voted for candidates for the 12th SPA, with posters reminding the populace of the importance of voting, how it is a civic duty…324, of the 687 deputies in the legislature, were replaced. In the election…deputies were elected for five-year terms, including Kim Jong-Il, but not his son Kim Jong-Un,  [with]…the country rightly rejecting any push for “economic liberalisation” in the country, rolling back “moderate economic reforms instituted in 2002.”…numerous “technocrats and financial experts” were elected, 107 women were elected, Mr. Choe Thae Bok was elected as a speaker of the assembly, and Kim Jong-il as the Chairman of the National Defense Commission…107 deputies were women, 116 deputies were soldiers, 75 deputies were workers, and 69 deputies were farmers…apart from Kim Jong-Un given high state-level positions…there were revisions to the DPRK’s constitution, by removing the the word “communism” from the constitution, replacing it with the term “Songun” or socialism, while giving National Defense Commission (NDC) more governmental power…The new constitution, the Shogun Constitution, also asserts protections of human rights.”
  • May 2012 revision. That year, Kim Jong-Il “was named as “eternal chairman” of the National Defense Commission,” while Kim Jong-Un was “elected as the First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the Central Military Commission, there were a number of “approved amendments to the country’s constitution”…When he was elected, at the fourth conference of the party in its history, as First Secretary of the WPK, fellow party members vowed to follow the ideas of Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un’s leadership to develop their country, while they demonstrated “the revolutionary will of the people to accomplish the songun (military-first) revolutionary cause under the leadership of Kim Jong Un.” Broadly, “section 2 of Chapter 6 and Articles 91, 95 and 100-105, 107, 109, 116, 147 and 156 of the Constitution in line with the institution of the new post of first chairman of the NDC” (National Defense Commission) were revised…while some speculated on economic reforms related to this…In the most recent iteration of the Constitution (revised again in 2013 and 2016), still called the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution,” it mentions that Kim Il Sung helped make the country a “nuclear state” and “unchallengable military power” in the preamble, with no other mention of it in the rest of the constitution whatsoever…On April 12, 2012,Kim Jong Un gave a rousing speech in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square, which some thought was a call for the beginning of “China-style economic reform” in the DPRK…[saying that] “today we are standing at the watershed of history, when a new chuch’e century begins…The farsighted strategy of our revolution and ultimate victory lie here in directly proceeding along the path of independence, the path of military-first, and the path of socialism unfolded by the great Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il…It is our party’s resolute determination to let our people who are the best in the world — our people who have overcome all obstacles and ordeals to uphold the party faithfully — not tighten their belts again and enjoy the wealth and prosperity of socialism as much as they like…We will have to embark on the comprehensive construction of an economically powerful state by kindling more fiercely, the flames of the industrial revolution of the new century and the flames of South Hamgyong Province.” This constitution was later revised again in April 2013 by the SPA, as noted by Juche Korea.

By the way, if we take the estimate of the population of Juche Korea in July 2017 by the CIA World Factbook, of 25,248,140, that means that each of the 687 deputies represents an average of about 36,751 people, much lower than the 700,000 that U$ Representatives “represent” on average.

Such changes to the Constitution again shows that there is a democratic nature to Juche Korea without a doubt. Some may say that there has been a “hereditary” change of power from Kim Il Sung (1948-1994) to Kim Jong Il (1994-2011) and Kim Jong Un (2011-present). This does not realize that with Kim Il Sung as the person who led the Korean people in their struggle against Japanese colonialism, heading the Korean liberation struggle, it was no surprise he became and stayed as the leader of the country, a guiding force. The same can be said for Kim Jong Il, who was, like Kim Il Sung, a savvy politician, and was chosen to continue in Kim Il Sung’s footsteps, improving the Juche ideology, which he would be trusted to so since he was Kim Il Sung’s son. The same can be said for Kim Jong Un (Kim Jong Il’s son), who was age 29 in 2011, since I trust the records of Juche Korea more than that of the ROK or U$. This was much younger than when Kim Jong Il became chairman (at age 52 in 1994) or when Kim Il Sung became Premier (age 36 in 1948). This promises to bring new ideas and thoughts to Juche Korea, which the country needs in the ways ahead, with the Constitution already revised three times since then: in 2012, 2013, and 2016. After all, lets not forget that the SPA was the real center of power in Juche Korea, not the positions held by Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un. They are basically figureheads and a guiding force, with more on this subject explained in the next section, disproving the idea of a “cult of personality.” To conclude this, neither Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un had to be chosen or “destined” to be chosen. The SPA elected them, and did not recall them because their policies were seen as agreeable, since all of them advocated socialist construction in the country.  The same goes for their position as party leader of the WPK. There are other political parties in Juche Korea, and neither one of these Kims ended up leading them. So, all talk about it being the “Kim family” running the show is poppycock to say the least.

There is no “cult of personality”

Supreme leader Kim Jong Un, we will remain faithful to you to the last!

Anti-revisionist leader of Albania, Enver Hoxha declared in his political diary, in June 1977, that “genuine Marxist-Leninists” will agree that the “ideology is guiding the Korean Workers’ Party and the Communist Party of China…is revisionist” and added, later that month that “in Pyongyang, I believe that even Tito will be astonished at the proportions of the cult of his host [Kim Il Sung], which has reached a level unheard of anywhere else, either in past or present times, let alone in a country which calls itself socialist.” [16] Later on, that summer, he would further declare that “the leadership of the Communist Party of China has betrayed” the working people, and that “in Korea, too, we can say that the leadership of the Korean Workers’ Party is wallowing in the same waters,” claiming that  Kim Il Sung was begging for aid from other countries, from states in the Eastern Bloc and “non-aligned” countries like Yugoslavia. As such, relations between People’s Korea and Albania were cold until Hoxha’s death in 1985.

The question thet comes out of of this is obvious: was Hoxha right? We know that Karl Marx had an adversionto the personality cult,” especially for himself. We also know while a “cult of personality” developed, by the 1930s, around Josef Stalin, General Secretary of the USSR, Stalin was strongly opposed to this, even saying in February 1938 that “I am absolutely against the publication of  “Stories of the childhood of Stalin”…the book has a tendency to engrave on the minds of Soviet children (and people in general) the personality cult of leaders, of infallible heroes. This is dangerous and detrimental…The people make the heroes, thus reply the Bolsheviks to the Social-Revolutionaries. The book carries water to the windmill of the Social-Revolutionaries. No matter which book it is that brings the water to the windmill of the Social-Revolutionaries, this book is going to drown in our common, Bolshevik cause. I suggest we burn this book.” This belayed the claims of Nikita Khrushchev in his traitorious “secret speech,” in 1956, with the initiator of the “cult of personality” around Stalin being “Karl Radek, who pleaded guilty to treason at his public trial in 1937” and was pushed by Khrushchev in the 1930s, showing that Stalin was right that this “cult” was built up by his opponents. [17] Lest us forget that Khrushchev “tried to introduce elements of market economy and liberalisation” in the Soviet Union and coined horrid phrases such as “cult of personality” and “peaceful co-existence” the former would be used by anti-communists for years to come. After all, Khrushchev also coined the term “Stalinism” and called Stalin a “genius.” Later on, some said that Khrushchev’s charge of a  “cult of personality” ignored the “structures of Soviet society, the role of the Party, and all the other instances that Marxists should use to analyze a specific social formation and a specific situation.”

The talk about the “cult of personality” goes beyond Stalin and Marx, since Lenin disliked the idea as well.. Some claim that Mao Zedong has such a “cult” when this was not true since he “had led the way in dismantling what had become known as the cult of personality in 1970.” Others argued against the idea of the “cult of personality.” Some said that it could be avoided “only by the broadest active participation of the whole people in the transformed movement, e.g. after a revolution, in self-government and in national planning, while others said that “the cult of the individual is alien to the Marxist-Leninist concept of collective leadership” saying that the “presence of a powerful personality in the party…fosters the growth and the development of the cult of the individual centring round that personality, while the absence of any such personality leads to the formation of groups inside the party.” The latter writer said that “the loss of lives of innocent persons…does not by itself constitute the cult of the individual” and that a “man who suffers from a sense of inflated ego becomes vain and conceited and falls victim to the cult of the individual.” Then there was Amiri Baraka. He said that the charge of “cult of personality” was thrown against them from “the right” with fake revolutionaries using it, claiming that “Lenin and the Chinese are backing them up” while they forgot that “the Chinese were criticizing the anti-Stalinist revisionist Krushchevites who attacked Stalin with the cries of “cult of the individual” and “the cult of personality”.”

We emerged victorious under the leadership of President Kim Il Sung!

From here, it is worth defining the term “cult of personality” or “cult of the individual.” Bourgeois dictionaries claim it is when a public figure is “deliberately presented to the people of a country as a great person who should be admired and loved” (merriam-webster.com), when there is “a cult promoting adulation of a living national leader or public figure” (dictionary.com), or a “deliberately cultivated adulation of a person, esp a political leader” (collinsdictionary.com). Others in bourgeois and related media claim it involves, a charismatic leader with a coherent media strategy and strong public image who embodies “the people but also stand[s] above them,” “images of top leaders…cultivated” by the Party, “general faith in the leader,” or the use of propaganda “and media tools excessively to create a strongly positive image of himself,” saying this applies to “leaders” ranging from Xi Jinping, Mao Zedong, Bashar Al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Elon Musk, and Barack Obama to the orange menace. [18] Of course, Kim Jong-Il is claimed to be part of such a “cult,” as is declared blatantly by bourgeois media like a BBC article in December 2011 titled “Delving into North Korea’s mystical cult of personality.”

With this, there is clearly no consensus, among the bourgeois critics, what the term, “cult of personality” means as many just spout it blindly and explain little. As user put it on /r/communism, “I feel like every leader has a cult of personality.” Others noted that Fidel Castro worked actively to counter it in Cuba by having no statues made of himself there. Some said that “while condemning chauvinistic nationalism, Lenin acknowledged working class patriotism…people are not abstractions, nor are their revolutionary movements. They come from somewhere, they have real accomplishments that involve particular parties and leaders. That movements so constituted acquire a face, and other icons isn’t something to be casually slighted – it’s part of being human…most especially when no one is pretending the classless society had been established.” Then there were those who said that “the Cult of Personality is incompatible with communism, in my opinion.” This connects to what Mao said in 1956, while criticizing Stalin (and revisionism): “the cult of the individual is a rotten carry-over from the long history of mankind. The cult of the individual is rooted not only in the exploiting classes but also in the small producers.” What J. Moufawad Paul wrote about the “cult of personality” or cult of the individual is helpful here:

…due to the fact that the theories that push revolutionary science further often require someone to write them down, to engage in polemics, and concretize an ideology, we often do tend to get caught up in erroneous and bourgeois ideas about individual brilliance. But the Lenins and Maos of the world are just living end-results of a longer process, the last links in an unrecognized revolutionary chain, able to finally provide a concrete analysis of concrete circumstances because they happen to be in the right social position at the right time. To imagine otherwise is to pretend that individual humans are outside of history, that there are such things as “philosopher-kings” or ubermenschen that stand above the herd…whenever we are faced with those individuals who possess the privilege to unify theoretical concepts and rise to positions of leadership…because we are conditioned to think that individuals and not collective people, make history, we often capitulate to greater or lesser degrees of individual worship…Even if we could argue that the adoption of these cults of personalities made sense…that does not mean they possessed any lasting benefit for the revolution…The cult of the individual often takes a more pernicious and sublimated form, pushed under appeals to collectivity and consensus; even in those groups that self-righteously lambast others for capitulation to a daddy figure there might still be a single individual whose word is doctrine, whose opinion matters more than others, and who treats collective organizing as nothing more than a reflection of his own ego

This connects to what was written by a critic in the 1960s: that party workers “maintain[ing] some formalities” along with “thunderous slogans eulogizing him” (Mao) which may appear to be “the cult of personality” but to inspire and involve the masses, then “these would remain as the general form of paying respect” and are necessary, with a revolution not able to be brought “about anywhere avoiding these formalities.” The writer then adds that “no individual, not even the leader, is considered infallible…any phenomenon, any entity, even thoughts and ideas, are not taken as absolute, rather they are considered changeable” which are the bases on “which the minimum level of consciousness of people should rest.”

Kim Il Sung Prize Winner Grand Mass Gymnastics And Artistic Performance (3)

Now, Webster’s New World College Dictionary (Fourth Edition), a bourgeois dictionary, defines a cult as a “devoted attachment to, or extravegent admiration for, a person, principle, or lifestyle,” or a “system of religious worship or ritual.” It also defines “worship” as a “reverence or devotion” for someone, an “extreme devotion or intense love or admiration of any kind.” Some may say, immediately, that what is happening in Juche Korea qualifies, citing that horrid Wikipedia page titled “Kim Dynasty” or another about the “cult of personality,” claiming that there are hundreds of statues of Kim Il Sung in Juche Korea. The best place to start are the Constitutions of Juche Korea over the years, specifically focusing on the preamble, which mentions the country’s previous leaders.

1998 Constitution is the first I can find which has a preamble (some say the 1972 Constitution has a preamble but this is clearly a lie). It calls Kim Il Sung a

  • “great leader”
  • comrade for applying the idea of Juche (and authoring it), leading the “anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle” under the banner of Juche, founding “the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” leading “various stages of social revolution and construction work” to improve the country, putting forward “the fundamental principles of  the building and activities of the State, established the best State and social system, the best mode of politics and system and methods of administering society, and laid solid foundations” for the prosperity of the state.

It then says that Kim Il Sung

always mixed with the people, devoted his whole life for them and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through his noble benevolent politics.

On top of that, this constitution calls Kim Il Sung

  • the “sun of nation and the lodestar of national reunification,” the latter which he pushed forward, and says he “clarified the basic ideals of the foreign policy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”
  • a “veteran statesman in the world” who worked to strengthen “the world peace and for friendship among the peoples and made an imperishable contribution to the cause of human independence.”
  • a “genius in ideology and theory, a master of leadership, an ever-victorious iron-willed brilliant commander, a great revolutionary and politician and a great man” and says that the ideas (and achievements) under his leadership “are the lasting treasures of the Korean revolution and the basic guarantee for the prosperity of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

It ends by saying that under the WPK’s leadership, Juche Korea and the Korean people “will uphold the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung as the eternal President of the Republic and carry the revolutionary cause of Juche through to completion” by defending and carrying forward his ideas, with the constitution called the “Kim Il Sung’s Constitution” as it codifies his “Juche-oriented ideas on and exploits in State building.” The 2009 Constitution says something similar, calling him a “great human being” rather than “great man” as the 1998 Constitution asserts.

Now, the word “great,” defined by the aforesaid mentioned bourgeois dictionary, means someone who is above ordinary or average, distinguished, showing “nobility of mind” and purpose. As for the word “genius,” this same dictionary defines it as a person with “great natural ability,” inventive ability, or particular character. Even if you accept all these words to apply to Kim Il Sung, saying he created the idea of Juche, founded Juche Korea, is a dedicated revolutionary, politician, and theoretician, it does not mean there is “devoted attachment” to him, overblown admiration, or even a “system of religious worship or ritual.” Kim Il Sung was the person there guiding the country through hard times, as the Korean people, with help from socialist nations, rebuilt Juche Korea in the aftermath of the Great Fatherland Liberation War. Additionally, it does not say he is flawless or that he does not engage in mistakes.

Then there’s the Constitution in 2013 and the one in 2016 (the most recent). The 2013 Constitution says that the country is place where the “ideas and leadership of the great leaders Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il are applied.” Like the 1998 and 2009 Constitutions, it describes Kim Il Sung as the

  • founder of Juche Korea
  • author of the Juche idea
  • organizer/leader of the “anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle,” along with other ideas stated in the 1998 and 2009 preambles,
  • calls “the father of socialist Korea.”

It then calls Kim Jong Il a

  • “peerless patriot and defender of socialist Korea” who strengthened and developed Juche Korea into “Kim Il Sung’s State” and developed the “immortal Juche idea and Songun id ea authored by Comrade Kim Il Sung.”

It also says that Kim Jong Il, “in the face of the collapse of the world socialist system and the vicious offensive of the imperialist allied forces to stifle the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea…administered Songun politics,” safeguarded previous socialist achievements, “developed the DPRK into an invincible politico-ideological power, a nuclear state and an unchallengeable military power” and built up the nation. It goes onto say that Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il both

mixed with the people, devoted their whole lives to them and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through their noble benevolent politics

It goes on to call both of these individuals “great leaders…sun[s] of the nation and the lodestar of national reunification” who clarified the country’s foreign policy ideals, ensured that the “international prestige of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was exalted” and served as “veteran world statesmen,” while being “geniuses of ideology and theory, masters of the leadership art, ever-victorious iron-willed brilliant commanders, great revolutionaries and statesmen, and great men.” It then says that the great ideas of “Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il and the great achievements made under their leadership” are lasting treatures of the Korean Revolution and will guarantees the country’s prosperity, with both buried in the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun “in their lifetime appearance” which is a “grand monument to their immortality and a symbol of the dignity and eternal sanctuary of the entire Korean nation. It ends by saying that under the WPK’s leadership, Juche Korea and the Korean people will “uphold the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung as the eternal President of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Comrade Kim Jong Il as the eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” carrying through the “revolutionary cause of Juch” by defending and carrying forward the achievements and ideas of their individuals, with the Constitution codifying “the Juche-oriented ideas” of both individuals “on State building and their exploits in it,” with the Constitution called “the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution” in their honor. The 2016 Constitution does not seem to be changed.

Honour to great years

The preambles of th 1998, 2009, 2013, and 2016 engage in wording that bourgeois critics would likely say are signs of a “cult of personality.” However, the achievements of Kim Il Sung, whom is called a “great leader” or even an “eternal president” (a ceremonial title) seem widespread, but are actually limited:

  1. he is said to have authored the idea of Juche and applied it
  2. says he led the “anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle” under the banner of Juche
  3. says he founded Juche Korea, leading efforts to improve the country in the years to come, establishing “the best State and social system, the best mode of politics and system and methods of administering society, and laid solid foundations” for the prosperity of the state.
  4. says he “devoted his whole life for them [the people] and turned the whole of society into a large family which is united in one mind by taking care of the people and leading them through his noble benevolent politics” (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)
  5. says he is “sun of nation and the lodestar of national reunification” for his efforts on national reunification of the Korean Peninsula (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)
  6. Says he clarified the basic ideals of the country’s foreign policy
  7. says that he was a “veteran statesman” who worked to strengthen the world peace, friendship, and supported causes of independence (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)
  8. calls him a “genius in ideology and theory, a master of leadership, an ever-victorious iron-willed brilliant commander, a great revolutionary and politician and a great man” (it says the same of Kim Jong Il)

The above does not exclude the work of other individuals or the populace in the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle or afterwards. In fact, it implies that he wouldn’t be there without the masses, and does not say he set policy, only that he is a guiding force for future progress. That’s basically it. The same is the case for Kim Jong Il, whom it calls an “eternal chairman,” arguing that he is a “peerless patriot and defender of socialist Korea” who strengthened and developed Kim Il Sung’sideas, developed the “immortal Juche idea and Songun idea authored by Comrade Kim Il Sung.” It also says that Kim Jong Il led the country through the years after “the collapse of the world socialist system” when he administered Songun politics,” safeguarded previous socialist achievements, developing “the DPRK into an invincible politico-ideological power, a nuclear state and an unchallengeable military power” and built up the nation. Saying that both Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are “immortal” or “eternal” means that they live on, but more in their ideas than themselves as human beings. From this, one can recognize that Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Un are symbols, more than than anything else, of the ideology of Juche, which was informed by Marxism-Leninism if you go back in earlier constitutions of the country. Furthermore, if you look at the horrid Wikipedia page titled “List of leaders of North Korea” it is clear that Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Un were military commandaers (all three were Supreme Commanders of the KPA) but even more than that, all of them were party leaders, leading party organs like the Central Military Commission of the WPK as a Chairman or the Central Committee of the WPK as a Chairman (1949-1966, 2016-Present), General Secretary (1996-2011), or First Secretary (2012-2016). From 1972 to 1994, Kim Il Sung was the President of Juche Korea, but when he died in 1994, Kim Jong Il did not replace him as Kim Il Sung stayed as “eternal president.” After that point, Yang Hyong-sop was President of the SPA’s Presidium (1994-1998) and Kim Yong-nam, who has been the President since 1998. Even saying this, not only was Kim Tu-bong chairman of the WPK from 1946 to 1949, not a member of this “Kim family” but the Premiers of the Administration Council from 1972 to 1998 and Premiers of the Cabinet from 1998 to Present have not been either Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un, but rather other dedicated Korean comrades. If that isn’t enough, consider that the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly, from 1948 to 1998, and the Chairman of the SPA, has never been held by any of the “three Kims” (Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un).

To say again, the “three Kims,” as I’ll call them here, are symbols more than anything. Sure, they can eliminate economic brureaucrats as Kim Jong Il did in 1998, but they do not have any power when it comes to Constitutional revisions, including the one in 1998 when removed the position of President, called Kim Il Sung “Eternal President,” reduced the amount of ownership while those of “private ownership…[and] those of social and cooperative organizations” were expanded, citizens freedom of travel is established, stengthens “individual economic entities,” and created the ground for creating a special economic zone.” [19] The same goes for Kim Jong Un and his New Year’s address, with mass rallies, arguing that “the DPRK will continue down the line of “Byungjin,” the parallel  “development of nuclear weapons and national economy as long as the nuclear threat posed by imperialists continues,” and declared that the county is a nuclear weapons state,” in January 2016 for example.

Some may still be throwing up their hands, saying the analysis so far is flawed.  They may point out that Kim Il Sung, born near Pyongyang in Mangyondae, joined the “Korean guerrilla resistance against the Japanese occupation in the 1930s,” after he was expelled from middle school for such activities, claim he was part of the Soviet army during WWII and was “installed” by the Soviets, talk about his children and wives and saythat he fashioned the national ideology of “juche”or “patriotic self-reliance.” [20] They may further declare that the Juche calendar “inaugurated in 1997, recalculated time from the year Kim Il-sung was said to have come to earth from heaven in 1912” (it didn’t “recalculate time” because publications of Juche Korea use the Georgian calendar and the Juche calendar together!). Furthermore, these individuals may say the same about Kim Jong Il, the son of Kim Il Sung, scowling at the idea that he was “born on Mount Paektu in a guerrilla base camp,” “raised by his mother and other women guerrillas,” says he supposedly had multiple wives, and was an “obsessive film buff” who had a “collection of more than 20,000 video tapes,” authoring a staggering number of books while he was at Kim Il Song University. [21] Finally, they may say that Kim Jong-Un, whose father was Kim Jong Il, with a brother named Kim Jong Chul, works “in the WKP propaganda department,” married Ri Sol-Ju in 2009 or 2010 and had a daughter named Ju-ae in 2012, that he “studied in Switzerland” with schoolmates describing him as a “good friend and very quiet, nice guy” with “childhood hagiography” and support of his government formalized by China after Kim Jong Il’s death in 2011. [22]

The greatest honour to our motherly Party!

Even if you say all of the above is true, it doesn’t many any of the “three Kims” gods or dieties. It makes them leaders, sure, but in terms of their actual governmental power, they are basically figureheads and symbols representing Juche (and more recently Songun). But, you could say that their responsibilities have increased over the years. This is obviously a way to make sure the State and socialist system doesn’t collapse due to imperialist attack. After all, as bourgeois media has stated [23]

  • the CIA attempted failed coups in 1991 and 1995, in both cases working with a “faction in the military…behind the uprising” as asserted by former CIA operative who had been stationed in the Korean Peninsula
  • there have been plans to set up a “government-in-exile” with defectors, especially with members of Kim family to “delegitimize” the government, with “connected” claims the government is “collapsing”!
  • there have been supposed efforts “closely monitor monuments and paintings” of the country from vandalism and what they claim are “purges” (whether this is true or not, it could indicate elements trying to bring down the socialist system)

As a last ditch attempt, they may claim there is a “Mount Baekdu bloodline” of the Kim family in Juche Korea, based on a claim in a ROK newspaper. If you look at the horrid Wikipedia page titled “Kim dyansty (North Korea)” who find sources that mainly rely in Orientalist bourgeois media. One of those sources reprints the 1974 “Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System,” announced by Kim Il Sung that year but proposed by Kim Young Joo in 1967:

1. We must give our all in the struggle to unify the entire society with the revolutionary ideology of the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.

2. We must honor the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung with all our loyalty.

3. We must make absolute the authority of the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

4. We must make the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung[‘s] revolutionary ideology our faith and make his instructions our creed.

5. We must adhere strictly to the principle of unconditional obedience in carrying out the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung’s instructions.

6. We must strengthen the entire partys ideology and willpower and revolutionary unity, centering on the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

7. We must learn from the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung and adopt the communist look, revolutionary work methods and people-oriented work style.

8. We must value the political life we were given by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung, and loyally repay his great political trust and thoughtfulness with heightened political awareness and skill.

9. We must establish strong organizational regulations so that the entire party, nation and military move as one under the one and only leadership of the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung.

10.We must pass down the great achievement of the revolution by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung from generation to generation, inheriting and completing it to the end.

Honoring and supporting his revolutionary ideology is not worship. Making the authority of Kim Il Sung “absolute” (meaning perfect, complete, whole or definite) does not mean it is all-encompassing. Making his ideology “our faith and make his instructions our creed” may sound like worship, but is actually just means they will follow his guidance. The same goes for the “unconditional obedience in carrying out the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung’s instructions” as he is a symbol and guiding force, as I noted earlier. The strengthening of party ideology, “willpower and revolutionary unity, centering on the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung” is understandable because Kim Il Sung was the party leader! Getting to point 7, learning from Kim Il Sung, and adopting “the communist look, revolutionary work methods and people-oriented work style” is a move toward helping the masses. With the valuing of political life “given by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung and working to “repay his great political trust and thoughtfulness” with their “heightened political awareness and skill” means they are honoring his accomplishments. The establishment of “strong organizational regulations so that the entire party, nation and military move” as one under the “one and only leadership of the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung” basically says that there should be political unity and society, with everyone working together for a common goal. Finally, passing down “the great achievement of the revolution by the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung from generation to generation, inheriting and completing it to the end” means that the socialist achievements and gains so far under Kim Il Sung as a leader/guiding force, is an important goal for socialist construction going forward, without question. If what the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said, in November 2005, is right, that “Thank you, Father Kim Il Sung” is the “first phrase North Korean parents are instructed to teach to their children” it means that those in the population are remembering and honoring their past, with Kim Il Sung as an embodiment of that past.

World Congress On The Juche Idea

The expanded version, “Ten Great Principles of the Establishment of the Unitary Ideology System” is similar, honoring Kim Il Sung (ex: saying he is a “legendary hero” for which he is for leading the struggle to free the Korean people from brutal Japanese colonialism), while saying there should be unified ideology, a stronger party, and protect Kim Il Sung from attacks from revisionists. Some may say that the following words are are a manifestation of the “cult of personality” or “cult of the individual”:

Respectfully worship our beloved Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s sculptures, plaster casts, bronze statues, badges with portraits, art developed by the Great Leader, board with Great Leader’s instructions, basic mottos of the Party…Respectfully manage and thoroughly protect the records and sites of revolutionary struggle and the revolutionary history of our Beloved Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung and the Party’s Unitary Ideology stronghold Museum of the Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung and the Research Institute of Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s Revolutionary Thought…Our Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s revolutionary thought and Juche ideology must be realized through our united belief and must be experienced in the flesh and bones of every person…Unconditionally accept, treat as a non-negotiable condition, and decide everything based upon our Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s instructions and in every act think only about the greatness of our Leader…Systematically and fully master the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s laborious works, guidelines and his splendid revolutionary history…Participate without absence in more than 2 hours of study groups, lectures and collective studies devoted to revolutionary ideas of Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung…The system of delivering the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s guidelines must be thoroughly studied, and the Leader’s instructions and Party goals have to be communicated exactly…There must be a strict distinction between the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s guidelines and individual party executives instructions and it must be investigated if individual official’s instructions are matching the Leader’s ones…Fight with all one’s will against anti-Party and anti-revolutionary thinking trends that have its origin in capitalistic ideas, feudal Confucian ideas, revisionism, dogmatism, toadyism and are contrary to the revolutionary thought of the Great Leader KIM Il Sung…Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s instructions must be viewed as a legal and supreme order and unconditionally realized without excuses or trivial reasons…Regard as a holy duty and supreme glory reducing the concerns of our Beloved Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung and fight for it with complete dedication…Fight against those who accept our Beloved Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s instructions only in letter and sabotage the implementation…At all localities and all guard posts, strengthen the solidarity of the ideological intellect of the columns through revolutionary struggle based on loyalty to the Great Leader…Resolutely struggle in opposition to anti-Party elements such as factionalism, regionalism, and nepotism that could destroy the uniform solidarity of the Party and never waver at the slightest hint of such menace to completely overcome it…Oppose senility and stagnation, indolence and slackening and remain awash with a flourishing fighting spirit and passion to always work militantly, and reject passivity and conservative tendencies and embark in all undertakings boldly and grandly…Consider political life as the first life, never bend one’s political beliefs and revolutionary integrity. Learn to throw away like bits of straw, one’s physical life for political life…Consciously participate in organizational life to standardize and normalize the undertakings and said life…Establish a strong revolutionary order and rules that organize and advance all  undertakings according to the Leader’s sole leadership system and handle policy questions solely through the teachings of the Great Leader and the conclusion of the Party…Accurately execute the decisions and orders of the Party and State to carry through the teachings of the Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung…Oppose and actively struggle against all kinds of behaviors by individual cadre which go against the principles such as the individual abuse of power or authority…Oppose and sharply struggle against the situation of leaking Party, State and military secrets…Do not connive towards the slightest phenomenon or element that depart from the Party’s sole leadership system, to the contrary, struggle against it.

Some of the above can easily be interpreted as saying that the ideology of Juche should affect all Koreans positively. It also says that these party cadres should be following Kim Il Sung’s advice for moving forward, which would make sense as he was the party leader of the WPK at the time and these principles were circulated around the party itself! The same can be said for the study of his work or efforts to make sure there is ideological unity and ideological loyality (especially to the socialist system) rather than ideological discord, as it is part of engaging “in the execution of the revolutionary task” and displaying “high political fervor” and elevating “the level of political theory and technical administration,” carrying through Kim Il Sung’s teachings. You could say that Kim Il Sung, or later Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un were inspirational forces to such party cadres, as much as Huey Newton inspired Black Panthers. The last tenet says that

All Party members and workers may become like the Great Leader KIM Il Sung by firmly establishing the Party’s unitary ideology system and must complete the revolutionary accomplishment to the end, following the path pointed by the Great Leader.

This means that the “three Kims” are an inspiration and guide to follow, something to aspire to, meaning that they don’t “stand above” the masses, and you could even say, are part of the masses.

Heroic Korean People’s Army–80 Years

Some may use their eagle eyes focusing on the phrase that party cadres should “respectfully worship our beloved Great Leader Comrade KIM Il Sung’s sculptures, plaster casts, bronze statues, badges with portraits, art developed by the Great Leader, board with Great Leader’s instructions, basic mottos of the Party.” This should be approached carefully. Let us remember, as noted earlier, worship can mean a “reverence or devotion” for someone. Importantly, reverence, a word that is similar to devotion, a synonym of honor. As noted by the 2nd Edition of Roget’s Super Thesaurus by Marc McCutcheon, the word honor also has a number of other synonyms:

  • respect
  • esteem
  • admiration
  • veneration
  • dignity
  • glory
  • deferences
  • homage
  • exaltation
  • recognition
  • approval

Taking what is above into account, it means that when they say “respectfully worship” they are talking about recognition, deference, respect, and honor, more than “worshipping” any of the “three Kims” as gods.

Furthermore, when one translates the English word “worship” to Korean, they get 경배하되 on one online translator, but if you translate it back, it is “the worship.” Other sites say it is 숭배. Most informative of all is Google Translate. It says the word worship is 예배 in Korean, but also says that it can be a verb, meaning, “adore, worship, praise” or which is 숭배하다 in Korean. From this, you could say that they are saying that the “sculptures, plaster casts, bronze statues, badges with portraits, art developed by the Great Leader, board with Great Leader’s instructions, basic mottos of the Party” should be praised, as someof these can’t be “worshipped” or “adored” since they aren’t trying to make Juche a religion but rather solidify it as an ideology. This is part of the reason that “access to independent news sources is extremely limited…[that] some schools and state institutions have access to a tightly controlled intranet called Kwangmyong” if what the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) can be believed, because such access would lead to ideological poisoning. You could also say that the English translation of the document by an anti-Juche Korea group, a “human rights” group, could be off, so they may have translated the Korean word for “worship” as it served their purposes doing so.

With all of this, we can say that, respectfully, Enver Hoxha was wrong. Considering that Juche Korea did not ultimately side with China or the Soviets, instead willing to trade with both and non-aligned countries, this likely angered those like Hoxha who were trying to take more of a hardline. In the end, Hoxha failed in his attempt of anti-revisionism with the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, which had existed from 1946, continued after his death in 1985 but the following ruler, Ramiz Alia began to adopt revisionist policies with the Communists voted out in elections in 1992 and a new Constitution ratified in 1998 which abolished the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, creating a bourgeois “representative” system. While you could cry “revisionist” back in the Cold War, it is less and less possible to do now, because, at most, there are five existing socialist states: China (some debate this), Vietnam (some also debate this), Cuba, Juche Korea, and Laos (some debate this). Others may add Venezuela onto the list as a possible runner-up, even Bolivia or Syria (which we already explained on here is not a socialist state).

Finally, this brings us to what Andrei Lankov wrote last year. He writes that those in Juche Korea (he is specifically talking about the “three Kims”) are not “irrational” but are rather “the ultimate political survivors, hard-edged rationalists” who laughed at by those in the Eastern Bloc who were reportedly “mocked for clinging to their outdated personality cult and failed economics.” [24] Yet the country stayed together (unlike the Eastern Bloc countries who had fully accepted revisionism by then), taking lessons from the bloody overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011 to have a defensive nuclear program, seeing nuclear weapons as a “major guarantee of their security” especially since they remember, perhaps vividely that “back in 1956 China, together with Russia, supported a failed conspiracy aimed at removing Kim Il-sung, the current supreme leader’s grandfather, from power.” While Lankov calls for expandng “the sources of information available to the North Korean public” so as to expose them to capitalist thinking (which is what he truly wants), he concluded by writing “the Kim family might be rational, but so are the North Koreans themselves.” This is often not understood when people talk about Juche Korea.

In the end, there is no autocracy and no personality cult in Juche Korea. There is only a country on the road to socialism led by the ideology of Juche (along with the related ideology of Songun) and the might of the Korean masses. The country is undoubtedly  something we should celebrate for its accomplishments, while remaining critical of the contradictions the State has introduced since 1991, like special enterprise zones, which could bring in reactionary thoughts and conceptions.

Let us faithfully support our great Party by turning sorrow into strength and courage!

Notes

[1] Virginie Grzelczyk, “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Grandson: Succession Patterns and the Kim Dynasty,” The Journal of Northeast Asian History Vol 9 No. 2 (Winter 2012), 33-68; “End of Kim dynasty,” Korea Times, Mar 2, 2016; The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Kim Il Sung,” March 7, 2012; Robert Park, “Kim dynasty: “Nazi-like” fascism that imperialism begot,” Korea Herald, May 31, 2017, with Park the founder of the anti-DPRK group, “Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea”; Dan Blumenthal, “Kim Jong-un Must Go. It’s Time For A Korean Democratic Unification,” The Weekly Standard, Sept 13, 2017; Alex Lockie, “North Korea cracks down on dissidents with ‘little respect’ for Kim Jong Un — and it could be his undoing,” Business Insider, Oct 26, 2017; “A who’s who of family members in the North Korean Kim family dynasty,” ABC News, accessed Feb 12, 2018; Doug Bandow, “The Complex Calculus of a North Korean Collapse,” The National Interest, Jan 9, 2014; Robert Park, “Kim dynasty: “Nazi-like” fascism that imperialism begot,” Korea Herald, May 31, 2017, with Park the founder of the anti-DPRK group, “Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea”; Julian Ryall, “Kim Jong-un: 10 ways North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader’ is different,” The Telegraph, Dec 17, 2013; Deutsche Welle, “The truth and myths of the Kim dynasty,” Sept 3, 2017; Maria Perez, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Worried About Uprising, Orders Protection for Depictions of Himself,” Newsweek, Oct 27, 2017; Andrei Lankov, “North Korea explained: The Kim dynasty has learned the lessons of history,” Financial Review, Apr 27, 2017; Luisetta Mudie, “Backing The Kim Dynasty For ‘Stability’,” Radio Free Asia, Dec 20, 2011; Ian Buruma, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty a hodgepodge of influences,” Asia Times, Oct 21, 2017; David Reid, “The Kim Dynasty: North Korea’s Secretive Rulers,” CNBC, Feb 16, 2017; David Tormsen, “10 Lesser-Known Members Of The Kim Family Dynasty,” Listverse, Jul“Kim Dynasty,” Wall Street Journal, Dec 18, 2011; Jenny Lee, “Death of North Korea’s Onetime Heir Sheds Light on Secretive Kim Dynasty,” VOA, Feb 17, 2017; David Bandow, “Systematic Tyranny: How the Kim Dynasty Holds the North Korean People in Bondage,” CATO Institute (reprinted from Forbes), Aug 27, 2012, which extensively cites a report by Ken E. Gause, director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK), a wholly anti-DPRK group; Colin Alexander, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty is following the example of Joseph Stalin and the British Raj in India,” Quartz, Sept 25, 2017;  Colin Alexander, “A visit to Pyongyang: the Kim dynasty’s homage to Stalinism,” UPI, Sept 21, 2017; THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, “Kim Han Sol, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged nephew, tired of life on the run: Reports,” The Straits Times, Oct 10, 2017; David Hulme, “North Korea’s Kim Dynasty,” Vision, Summer 2007; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; “How the Kim dynasty has shaped North Korea,” CNN, Apr 27, 2017; “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: A timeline of nuclear weapons,” Fox News, Jul 31, 2017; North Korean leader’s half brother killed in Malaysia: source,” Reuters, Feb 14, 2017; Danielle Demetriou, “Kim Jong-nam received ‘direct warning’ from North Korea after criticising regime of  half-brother Kim Jong-un,” The Telegraph, Feb 17, 2017; Yoo Gwan Hee, “he Life and Execution of Kim Hyun,” Daily NK, Aug 10, 2009; Chae Sang-Hun, “Following Dear Leader, Kim Jong-un Gets Title From University: Dr. Leader,” New York Times, Oct 25, 2013; Choes Sang-Hun and Martin Fackler, “North Korea’s Heir Apparent Remains a Mystery,” New York Times, Jun 14, 2009; Philip Shenon, “Inside North Korea’s First Family: Rivals to Kim Jong-un’s Power,” The Daily Beast, Dec 19, 2011; Avidan Milevsky, “Dynamics in the Kim Jong Family and North Korea’s Erratic Behavior,” HuffPost, Apr 12, 2013; Jethro Mullen, “Dennis Rodman tells of Korea basketball event, may have leaked Kim child’s name,” CNN, Sept 9, 2013; “Kim tells N Korean army to ready for combat,” Al Jazeera, Dec 25, 2013; “A dangerous succession gets under way in North Korea. Probably,” The Economist, Sept 23, 2010; “The Twisted Logic of the N.Korean Regime,” Chosun, Aug 13, 2013; Virginie Grzelczyk, “In the Name of the Father, Son, and Grandson: Succession Patterns and the Kim Dynasty,” The Journal of Northeast Asian History Vol 9 No. 2 (Winter 2012), 33-68;  Annabelle Quince, “How myth and propaganda sustain the Kim dynasty,” Medium, accessed Feb 12, 2018; Amrutha Gayathri, “North Korea Ranks People Based On Loyalty To Kim Dynasty: Study,” International Business Times, Jun 6, 2017; Pepe Escobar, “The Kim dynasty’s satellite of love,” Al Jazeera, Apr 13, 2012; “End of Kim dynasty,” Korea Times, Mar 2, 2016; Bryce Wakefield, “Is Status Quo Destiny? China’s Interests in Post-Kim Dynasty Korea” (event, his writing is commentary accompanying it), Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Mar 24, 2011; Michael Moran, “China condones Kim dynasty,” PRI (reprinted from Global Post), Dec 23, 2011; Rebecca Perring, “North Korea’s bloodline MAPPED OUT: Kim’s warmongering dynasty revealed,” Express, Nov 11, 2017.  Bluemental declares that “unconventional/covert warfare could be ramped up to undermine Kim’s legitimacy, and food can be dropped in to North Korea –all measures should be taken to show that Kim is not all-powerful.”

[2] Express-News editorial, “Don’t enable the Kim dynasty,” Dec 19, 2011; Michael Moran, “China condones Kim dynasty,” PRI(reprinted from Global Post), Dec 23, 2011; Philip Shenon, “Inside North Korea’s First Family: Rivals to Kim Jong-un’s Power,” The Daily Beast, Dec 19, 2011. Most hilarious of all are that the bourgeois analysts were dumbfounded when Juche Korea didn’t follow the path of China after Mao Zedong, which they had “expected” from Kim Jong-Un, who received a doctorate from a university in Kuala Lumpur, making him “Dr. Kim,” calling him a “strongman.” This raises the obvious question: why should we trust anything that these intelligence agencies say about Juche Korea at all! The reality is we shouldn’t one bit.

[3] Jason LaBouyer, “When friends become enemies: Understanding leftwing hostility to the DPRK,” Lodester (publication of Korean Friendship Association), May/June 2005 (Juche 94), pp 7-9.

[4] Bjornar Simonsen, “Kim Jong Il is to Korea as a captain to a ship,” Lodester (publication of Korean Friendship Association), May/June 2005 (Juche 94), p 10.

[5] Tracy Campbell, Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, An American Tradition–1742-2004 (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005), pp 32-33, 38, 41, 43.

[6] Also see these other photos of Juche Korea.

[7] James E. Hoare, “Three Revolutions Team Movement” (summary), Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, reprinted from an edition of Hoare’s Historical Dictionary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, published in July 2012, accessed Feb. 13, 2018. This movement is similar to the Chinese idea of “Three Red Banners” which was an effort calling on the Chinese people to help build a socialist state, with a line for socialist construction, the “Great Leap Forward” and communes of the populace, aiming for the Chinese to “go all out, aim high, and build socialism with greater, faster, better, and more economical results” with nearly all Chinese peasants organizing into communes, with all private property “taken for or contributed to the communes” with people eating “in communal dining halls” rather than by themselves.

[8] John Ayto, Dictionary of Word Origins: The History of More than 8,000 English Language Words (New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990), p 173; The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories (ed. Glynnis Chantrell, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp 151-152; Marc McCutcheon, Roget’s Super Theasurus (2nd Edition, Cincinnati, OH: Writers Digest Books, 1998), p 173.

[9] Michael Parenti, The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome (New York: The New Press, 2003), p 163.

[10] Yonhap News Agency, North Korea Handbook (Seoul: East Gate Book, 2003), p 930.

[11] Yonhap News Agency, North Korea Handbook (Seoul: East Gate Book, 2003), p 126, 185,  930, 949; American University, Area handbook for Korea, Page 278; Robert A. Scalapino and Chong-Sik Lee, Communism in Korea: The movement (Ilchokak, Jan 1, 1972), 572;  Barry Gills (bourgeois academic), Korea versus Korea: A Case of Contested Legitimacy (New York: Routledge, 2005), 214; The Statesman’s Year-Book 1987-88, ed. J. Paxton, xxxviii; old KCNA articles (linked and cited here); “Report on Results of Local Elections in DPRK Released”. Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang, in English. 21 July 2015.

[12] Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1290, 1291, 1292, 1293, 1294, 1295. The basic principles of the Constitution have stayed the same, even with the revisions in 1972 and 1998 after the 1948 revision,

[13] Robert L. Maddex, “North Korea,” Constitutions of the World (3rd Edition, CQ Press: Washington, D.C., 2008), pp 328, 329; Amarnath Amarasingam, “The Prophet Is Dead: Juche and the Future of North Korea,” HuffPost, Feb 18, 2012; Andrea Matles Savada, ed., “The Constitution,” North Korea: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1993, accessed Feb 15, 2018.

[14] “The 1972 Socialist Constitution of North Korea,”  11 Tex. Int’l L. J. 113 (1976), accessed Feb 15, 2018; Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1295, 1297. Some (Dae-Kyu Yoon) claim that the 1972 Constitution has a preamble talking about Kim Il Sung’s contributions, except a book reprinting constitutions does not have  a preamble and the introduction of the Constitution does not mention it either, making this assertion questionable. Nothing about a preamble is noted here or here.

[15] Andrea Matles Savada, ed., “The Constitution,” North Korea: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1993, accessed Feb 15, 2018; Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1298, 1299, 1300.

[16] Enver Hoxha, Reflections on China II: Extracts from the Political Diary, Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies at the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania,” Tirana, 1979, pp 516, 517, 521, 547, 548, 549. This paragraph comes from one of my so-far successful edits of the Kim Il-sung page on Wikipedia to make it less bourgeois. Many of my other editrs I gave up on trying to implement because one administrator, named “Ivar the Boneful,” declared he was reverting “pro-North Korean propagandist edits” and a “series of blatantly pro-North Korean content removals and edits.” He further thought that I was a “one-user mission to remove negative information about North Korea from Wikipedia.” Yeah, why not! For now, the situation has calmed down, which is good as I’ll try to keep a low profile as write more posts on here than try to edit on there.

[17] James von Geldern, “Cult of Personality,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, accessed Feb 15, 2018; “Stalin’s Cult of Personality: Its Origins and Progression,” The York Historian, Sept 18, 2015; Bill Bland, “Stalin: The Myth and the Reality,” Oct 1999; Louis Althusser, “To My English Readers,” October 1967; Jeal-Paul Sartre, “Institutions:  Bureaucracy and the Cult of Personality,” from Critique of Dialectical Reason,  1960; Bill Bland, “Introduction from Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union,” Wembly, 1980; Louis Althusser, “Part Seven. Marxism and Humanism,” Cahiers de l’I.S.E.A., June 1964; Raya Dunayevskaya, “Where Is Russia Going?,” News & Letters, March 30, 1956; Shibdas Ghosh, “Soviet Military Intervention in Czechoslovakia and Revisionism,” Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Oct 1, 1968; Ubaldo Buttafava, “Stalin Today,” November 1994; Yenan Bookstore Collective, “A Polemic Against the Guardian’s Revisionism,” June 1976; Shibdas Ghosh, “An Appeal to the Leaders of the International Communist Movement,” Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), Sept 1, 1963.

[18] Ruth Ben-Ghiat, “Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality,” HuffPost, Jan 15, 2016; Pankaj Mishra, “This Poisonous Cult of Personality,” The New York Review of Books, Dec 1, 2017; Philip Wen and Christian Shepherd, “China cranks propaganda, Xi Jinping’s cult of personality into overdrive ahead of party congress,” Reuters, Oct 12, 2017; Robert Tracinski, “Donald Trump’s Paradoxical Cult of Personality,” The Federalist, Aug 11, 2015; Hannah Beech, “China’s Chairman Builds a Cult of Personality,” Time, Mar 31, 2016; Emily Cadei, “Cult of Personality: How Trump Uses the Playbook of Europe’s Far Right,” Newsweek, May 10, 2016; “PUTIN’S CULT OF PERSONALITY,” Free Russia, Aug 14, 2015; Conservapedia, “Cult of personality,” May 21, 2017; “Trump and His Cult of Personality,” Zero Hedge, Jan 27, 2017;  Jiayang Fan, Taisu Zhang, and Ying Zhu, “Behind the Personality Cult of Xi Jinping,” Foreign Policy, Mar 8, 2016; “Cult of Personality 101: The Arab Leader Name Game,” The News in Arabic, Jul 20, 2009; Reuters Staff, “No cult of personality around Xi, says top China party academic,” Reuters, Nov 6, 2017; Julian Ryall, “Analysis: North Korea’s bizarre personality cult and why it has worked – so far,” The Telegraph, Jan 31, 2011; Christopher Richardson, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: the making of a personality cult,” The Guardian, Feb 16, 2015; Stan Grant, “North Korea’s cult of personality surrounds Kim,” CNN, Aug 22, 2012; John Feffer, “Cult of Personality: On Dictators and Reformers,” Common Dreams, Jan 18, 2012; Andy Crush, “The DNC Flag Burner Is an American Hero and a Member of a Maoist Personality Cult,” Gawker, Jul 30, 2016.

[19] Dae-Kyu Yoon, “The Constitution of North Korea: Its Changes and Implications,” Fordham International Law Journal, Vol 27, issue 4, 2003, Article 2, pp 1300, 1301, 1302, 1303, 1304.

[20] The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Kim Il Sung,” March 7, 2012; “North Korea’s secretive ‘first family’,” BBC News, Dec 13, 2013; “Kim Family,” NK Leadership Watch, last updated in 2009.; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; Christopher Richardson, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: the making of a personality cult,” The Guardian, Feb 16, 2015; Ian Buruma, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty a hodgepodge of influences,” Asia Times, Oct 21, 2017; Anthea Batsakis, “North Korea family tree: Who are the major players in the Kim Dynasty?,” Herald Sun, Sept 5, 2017; Deutsche Welle, “The truth and myths of the Kim dynasty,” Sept 3, 2017; Bertil Lintner, “North Korea: Myth Making, Dynastic Lies And Secrets,” Asia Pacific Media Services Limited (reprinted from Far Eastern Economic Review, July 10, 2003), accessed Feb 12, 2018; “Kim-Possible: The Final Days of the Kim Dynasty in Pyongyang,” Oct 13, 2014.

[21] “Kim Family,” NK Leadership Watch, last updated in 2009; The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Kim Jong Il,” 2013; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; “15 strange “facts” about the Kim dynasty,” MSN, Apr 22, 2015;”North Korea’s secretive ‘first family’,” BBC News, Dec 13, 2013.

[22] Kim Family,” NK Leadership Watch, last updated in 2009; “North Korea’s secretive ‘first family’,” BBC News, Dec 13, 2013; TIME Photo and Charlie Campbell, “The Despotic Dynasty: A Family Tree of North Korea’s Kim Clan, ” Time, Feb 24, 2017; Kim Jong-Un  “15 strange “facts” about the Kim dynasty,” MSN, Apr 22, 2015; Christopher Richardson, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty: the making of a personality cult,” The Guardian, Feb 16, 2015; Luisetta Mudie, “Backing The Kim Dynasty For ‘Stability’,” Radio Free Asia, Dec 20, 2011; Julian Ryall, “Kim Jong-un: 10 ways North Korea’s ‘Dear Leader’ is different,” The Telegraph, Dec 17, 2013.

[23] Foster Klug, “NKorea explodes myth of unchallenged Kim dynasty,” Associated Press, Dec 16, 2013; Maria Perez, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Worried About Uprising, Orders Protection for Depictions of Himself,” Newsweek, Oct 27, 2017; Julian Ryall, “North Korea’s Kim dynasty survived ‘series of coups’, says CIA agent,” The Telegraph, May 8, 2015; “N Korea defector: Kim Jong-un’s days are numbered,” Al Jazeera, Jan 25, 2017; Alex Lockie, “North Korea cracks down on dissidents with ‘little respect’ for Kim Jong Un — and it could be his undoing,” Business Insider, Oct 26, 2017; Charlie Campbell, “Kim Jong Nam’s Murder Likely Means Dangerous Times Ahead for Members of North Korea’s Ruling Family,” Time, Mar 7, 2017.

[24] Andrei Lankov, “North Korea explained: The Kim dynasty has learned the lessons of history,” Financial Review, Apr 27, 2017.

Oppressing the Palestinian people: the horror of Zionist apartheid

israel_apartheid_state

Editor’s Note: This post has been re-posted on a pro-Palestinian website, likely because it is so good and insightful of the reality of the Zionist state. For that, I am glad, without question.

More of the world is finally recognizing the murderous Zionist state, often called the “state of of Israel,” for what it truly is: an apartheid state. As South African diplomat Clinton Swemmer put it, “Israel is the only state in the world that can be called an apartheid state. We remain deeply concerned at the denial of the right of self-determination to the Palestinian people, in the absence of which no other human right can be exercised or enjoyed.” [1] At the same Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council, many criticized the Zionist state for “human rights abuses” and called on the government to not only “cease settlement construction” but to allow “for a creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines.” Of course, the Zionist representative declared that the critics were not using “appropriate language of the UN” and were “politicized.” Others, like Prof. Richard Falk and Desmond Tutu have also called the Zionist an “apartheid state,” with the Zionists claiming in response that Arab countries engage in “apartheid,” in conjunction with Zahava Gal-On, leader of a left-wing party, within the Zionist state, named Meretz, saying that “the occupation must be a temporary solution. We turned it to a permanent solution. There is one name for this: apartheid.” [2] This article will prove these charges correct, while noting that the murderous Zionist state is a unique form of apartheid. This means that this Zionist state does not have to be compared with apartheid in South Africa, which even some pro-Palestinian individuals do, as this comparison gives the upper hand to the Zionists. [3]

Table of contents

    1. Defining “Israel” as an apartheid state
    2. The racist nature of Zionism
    3. “America’s unsinkable aircraft”: Imperialist support for the Zionist state
    4. What should be done?
    5. Notes

Defining “Israel” as an apartheid state

Under the Rome Statue, the “crime of apartheid” is easily defined, in Article 7 as “inhumane acts…committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Such inhumane acts, constituting crimes against humanity, since they are “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack” may consist of the following:

  • murder
  • extermination
  • enslavement
  • deportation
  • imprisonment
  • torture
  • rape
  • sexual slavery
  • enforced prostitution
  • forced pregnancy
  • enforced sterilization
  • enforced disappearance of persons

Along with any sort of “persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity” on “political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender” grounds, or any similar inhumane acts which cause “great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.” The International Convention on the Crime of Apartheid, (also see here and here) also called the apartheid convention, which the murderous Zionist state has not signed, defines the term as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them,” specifically saying that these acts include:

  • “Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person”
  • the “murder of members of a racial group or groups”
  • “the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity”
  • subjecting members of a racial group “to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”
  • “arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups”
  • “Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part”
  • “Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association”
  • “any measures including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof”
  • “Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour”
  • “Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid”

In this case, both the Rome Statue and Apartheid Convention will be used to define the murderous Zionist state as an apartheid state without question. While Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston, acclaimed scholars Angela Davis and Barbara Ransby say that the Zionist state is one that has apartheid, reactionary leftist Noam Chomsky claims that whatis happening now is “much worse than apartheid. To call it apartheid is a gift to Israel,” showing how much he serves the imperialist centers of power by refusing the utter the words “apartheid” and “Israel” together. It shows that Chomsky doesn’t understand that the word apartheid is a word with a “very specific legal meaning” rather than a “slur” as the Zionists would like to call it.

Table of contents of sections within this sub-section:

  1. Inhumane acts against the Palestinian people
  2. Deliberate living conditions “calculated to cause its or their physical destruction” of the Palestinian nation
  3. Efforts to prevent Palestinians “from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life” of the Zionist state and creating conditions “preventing the full development” of the Palestinian people
  4. Efforts designed to divide the population along racial lines
  5. Exploitation of the labor of Palestinians, particularly by “submitting them to forced labour”
  6. Persecution of persons and organizations, depriving them of “fundamental rights and freedoms” just because they oppose the apartheid system

Inhumane acts against the Palestinian people

Palestinian women hold a banner likening the situation in the Gaza Strip to a pressure cooker during a protest in Gaza City demanding that Egypt open Rafah crossing, 1 January, via Electronic Intifada

As mentioned before, inhumane acts include, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, and enforced disappearance of persons. For a state to commit inhumane acts, it does not have to do all of these things, but only some of them, as not every state is a horror house. These are specific aspects that a state commit, making it an apartheid state: the denial of the “right to life and liberty of person,” murder or serious “bodily or mental harm” on a racial group(s), “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” which includes torture, and “arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment.”

ECOWA (Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia) notes, in their full report which the Zionists and U$ imperialists didn’t want the world to read, that social racism plays a “vital role in apartheid regimes, by providing popular support for designing and preserving the system,” adding that a “finding of racial discrimination is based less on how groups are labelled than how they are treated.” They further add that the claim of Palestine as the “exclusive homeland of the Jewish people rests on an expressly racial conception of both groups,” the “Israelis,” and Palestinians. Furthermore, they add that in the war after independence, this racism became  state policy:

…the Zionist movement took over territory far beyond what had been assigned to the Jewish State under resolution 181(II) and, by so doing, rendered moot its labyrinthine provisions, including acquiescence by the internationally recognized representatives of the Palestinian people

It was reported in 2009 by bourgeois media, relying on a report by a nonprofit Palestinian group named SAWA, that “trafficking and forced prostitution in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza operate on a small-scale basis,” rather than an activity which is sophisticated and organized. [4] However, it was noted that forced prostitution and trafficking is “frequent and widespread” with women and girls involved in it having “few means of escape” with poverty and unemployment playing a huge role in “pushing girls and women into prostitution” which makes them “vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers.” Furthermore, it was noted that those who engage in prostitution, and ultimately drawn into human trafficking, were “violently abused by their families,” specifically their fathers, even forced into marriages, with traffickers threatening “girls with violence if they refuse sex with clients.” Even if women somehow escape these horrific circumstances, there are “few social networks or shelter houses” they can turn to, and may be “ostracized by their communities and families” with the law treating them as criminals. Specifically there is a lack of willingness by “law enforcement to investigate these cases and prosecute the traffickers.” This basically means that the Zionists and the PA are turning a blind eye to prostitution and human trafficking, showing that they are allowing these inhumane acts to happen to the Palestinian people, specifically Palestinian women, which is disgusting.

The conditions of prisoners are also horrific. Repressive tactics used in U$ prisons mirror those used by the Zionists, with 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in the latter state going on hunger strike for 40-days ending in May 2017 with the threat of force-feeding (with actual force-feeding seemingly abandoned because of public outcry) and other repressive measures, with many of the hunger strikers hospitalized after the hunger strike ended. [5]

UNICEF revealed in a report in September 2017 that there was “rampant child abuse…including rape, forced marriages, and beatings” in occupied Palestine, and Palestinian communities in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan (likely because of unsavory elements), noting that “in the State of Palestine, 70 per cent of students are exposed to violence at school.” [6] Of course, a so-called “human rights NGO,” Human Rights Voices (HRV) was angry about the report, saying it “place[s] the blame for Palestinian behavior on everyone but Palestinians, results in other shocking conclusions,” angry that the report blamed the Zionist occupation as the “root cause of the violence Palestinian Arab children experience” even though this is the reality. Not surprisingly, it turns out that HRV,claiing it is even-handed on its website, has stories blaring about “Palestinian terrorists,” Gazans “carrying knives,” along with extensively quoting the Zionist ambassador, and basically claiing the UN is “bias” against the Zionists, even advocating for the orange menace to follow through on his threats to UN funding!

These is more than these horrific acts. The Zionist occupiers, as noted by the spokesperson of Gaza’s ministry of health Dr. Ashraf Elqedrah, declared war on the Gaza strip in 2006 after Hamas won elections there,implementing a blockade, with the health sector devastated, with “medicines, medical consumables, laboratory materials and blood banks have all been hit by the siege. Dr. Elqedrah added that there are deficits in medical supplies, with spare parts unavailable if medical equipment breaks down, with daily power cuts meaning that hospitals “rely on back-up generators…intended for emergency use,” with these generators breaking down, and needing fuel to operate which is short supply. Furthermore, Palestinians in Gaza used to be able to travel abroad for surgery, but the Rafah Border Crossing, “the only window to the outside world…has been closed by Egypt for months on end.” If that isn’t enough, military  offensives against the people of Gaza have “targeted hospitals and medical facilities” with some facilities still not repaired from the last bombing, with “development of existing facilities…affected by the severe shortage of materials caused by the Israeli-led siege.” This is coupled by “punitive measures taken by the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in Ramallah” with thousands of health workers are affected, hurting the local economy. In the closing of his article, Dr. Elqedrah states the obvious, showing the murderous nature of the blockade:

The Israeli blockade is sold to the world as a matter of “self-defence” in order to “defeat terrorism”, but the reality is that Israel is deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians in an act of collective punishment that amounts to a serious crime under international law. Unless and until the world wakes up to this fact and moves to end the blockade, the health sector in the Gaza Strip will break down completely. Is the international community ready to accept such an eventuality?

If that isn’t enough, as a recent book argued, the Zionists have engaged in covert state-sponsored killings. These killings, numbring nearly 2,700, taking place from after World War II to the present, are mostly “against Palestinians, but also Egyptians, Syrians, Iranians and others.” They likely even used “radiation poisoning to kill Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader who was the founder of the Fatah movement that was part of the Palestine Liberation Organization.” Furthermore, Zionist tactics were “later adopted by the US, especially after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and recently by the former President Barack Obama, who launched several hundred targeted killings”! Hence, an assassination machine was formed by the Zionists, taking the form of “car bombs, mail bombs, airstrikes and explosive devices attached to cars by operatives on motorcycles,” along with other methods. Clearly, the Zionists would do whatever they thought was necessary to maintain control.

Every day, Zionists call for killing and other violence against more Palestinians, whether it be rape, injury, and imprisonment. This has manifested itself in airstrikes by Zionist warplanes targeting sites in the Gaza strip in response to “rockets coming from the Gaza Strip,” and blowing up “tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip.” Just recently, a Palestinian 19-year-old was shot in the head by the IDF as Palestinians resist apartheid while those like horrid Thomas Friedman openly advocate the killing of Palestinians.

In October 2016, the UN Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” Michael Lynk, wrote that there had been “continued use of administrative detention, punitive demolitions, movement restrictions and other measures continue to negatively affect the human rights of the Palestinian people on a continuous basis.” They added that “attacks and alleged attacks by Palestinians against Israelis are…responded to with disproportionate and deadly force” with a sense of “desolation and desperation among children” with “psychological and physical ailments” including, but not limited to, “bed-wetting, anxiety and depression” as a lack of accountability leads to a “cycle of continued violence” with the message being sent that “Palestinian lives do not matter, while the Palestinian population becomes both more fearful and more desperate.” By October 2016, there were more than “6,000 detainees currently held on alleged security grounds, as well as approximately 700 administrative detainees.” Lynk also wrote that detainees are “often deprived of basic legal safeguards,” held on secret evidence, subjected to abuse, and subjected to “Israeli military law…while Israeli settlers in the same geographic area are subject to the Israeli civil and criminal legal system.” These are, as they concluded, some of the measures employed “on a case-by-case basis, that often amount to collective punishment” meaning that the entire group is punished “for the actions of a particular individual.”

Deliberate living conditions “calculated to cause its or their physical destruction” of the Palestinian nation

One of the 11 infographics on a pro-Palestinian website, explaining part of “Israel-Palestinian apartheid”

A report by Jad Isaac of Applied Research Institute, based in Palestine, noted that the Zionist occupiers imposed new environmental rules and restrictions, “yet another chapter in the long legacy of environmentally disruptive policies and actions.” The Zionist restrictions plated a major role in causing environmental changes in occupied Palestine, such as “land degradation, depletion of water resources and the degradation of water quality” which impacted the social fabric, helping to induce threats to public health, inadequate “distribution of social institutions,” and “economic hardship.” Specific restrictions include severe limits to water sources and wells, strict instructions for drilling, and more limited grazing areas available to shepherds coupled with military orders issued to facilitate “confiscation and closure of land” and efforts to deprive “Palestinian farmers from using their full share of water and other natural resources.” Additionally, many Palestinian farmers have been “forced to leave their land and join the labor market in Israel,” with many Palestinian workers relying on work in Israel proper as “their only source of income,” while sizable areas of land “have been neglected and returned to semi-desert.” In short, there has been “environmental destruction and human displacement” caused by “27 years of land confiscation, and settlement and road building,” with the Zionist occupiers depriving “Palestinians of their natural agricultural potential” and now control “70% of the West Bank…[and] 22% of Gaza” as they exploit Palestinian water resources meaning that only 5.5% of West Bank land cultivated by Palestinians is irrigated, while “about 70% of the area cultivated by Jewish settlers is irrigated,” with Jewish settlers paying lower prices for water than Palestinians!

Issam Abu-Ghallous of the University of Mississippi added to this in an academic article on child labor in occupied Palestine. They noted that impositions by Zionists in response to the Intifada in Palestine severely restricted “movement of people and goods,” with the movement of Palestinian laborers into the Zionist state blocked, creating “temporary high unemployment,” with deterioration of job availability in years to come and as a result, “the probability of younger Palestinian children joining the labor market increases.” Furthermore, by 2009, 70% of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were described as poor by UNICEF, with families across Occupied Palestine pulling their “kids out of school” so these kids can work due to “severe economic needs” and child labor has become “necessary for the employment of parents”! The study concluded by saying that

…economic shocks in Palestine as a result of Israeli policies have significant…effects on child labor supply. The restriction of labor force movement and the closure of the Israeli labor market reduced child labor. On the other hand, the reduction of income, which leads to increase in poverty, following Israel’s holding of the Palestinian aid funds, caused an increase of Palestinian child labor supply…it does not seem that the economic crisis in Palestine after the second Intifada contributed to the creation of child labor phenomenon. Due to reliance on the Israeli labor market and the effect of Israeli regulations on the Palestinian economic performance, Palestinians have always relied on child labor. What can be inferred from this study is that the recent economic crisis augmented the child labor supply

So, basically, the apartheid system is causing child labor to increase and be maintained in occupied Palestine! In 2004, UNICEF released a report, saying that after the Palestinian Intifada in September 2000,

Unprecedented restrictions have been imposed on the movement of Palestinians between different areas, and the land has been truncated into 300 isolated ghettos, enforced by 120 Israeli military checkpoints, in addition to the destruction of many main roads and side roads inside the cities, and the closure of many others with barricades.  The Israeli occupation forces displaced over 75,000 Palestinians by enforcing the complete demolition of 720 houses, and the partial demolition of 11,560 houses. Education was similarly affected as Israel closed down 850 schools completely…[with Zionist aggression in response to the Intifada] facilities belonging to the security services and to some of the other Palestinian civil institutions were destroyed. The Palestinian airport (the building of which cost US$ 19 million) was destroyed, and the groundwork for a Palestinian seaport under construction in Gaza was also destroyed…Palestinian society is living in a situation of general instability.

Take for example what happened in mid-2006. International aid was frozen and Gaza suffered from “an interruption in electricity and water supplies after its power plant was bombarded by Israel,” showing that the Zionist occupiers don’t care if Palestinians die at all, wanting to be the oppressors and dominating force. [7] At the present, in Gaza, as Palestinians are suffering “health issues,” as a direct result of food restrictions by the Zionist occupiers, with the latter embarking on “destruction, displacement and deprivation” as they continue their colonial conquest. It is clear that the Zionists wish to reflect “similar repercussions on the remaining fragments of Palestinian territory and there is no swifter way to achieve this than by inviting the international community to participate,” forcing a form of dependency on those living in Gaza.

There is a related measure aiming to weaken and erase the Palestinian nation: “using tourism and infrastructure projects in order to legitimize its illegal Jewish-only settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank”! This adds to the more than 130 demolitions that “took place in East Jerusalem,” last year, while “hundreds of Palestinians were displaced,” with a “strict permit system to marginalize Palestinian residents in Jerusalem” to eliminate Palestinian culture from the city! This is not a surprise considering the violent birth of the Zionist state, showing it to be genocidal:

The Zionist militias that orchestrated the genocide of the Palestinians prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948 merged together to form the Israeli army; and the leaders of these groups became Israel’s leaders. Israel’s violent birth in 1947- 48 was the culmination of the violent discourse that preceded it for many years. It was the time when Zionist teachings of prior years were put into practice and the outcome was simply horrifying…The ethnic cleansing of Palestine at the time was orchestrated by several Zionist militias. The mainstream Jewish militia was the Haganah which belonged to the Jewish Agency. The latter functioned as a semi-government, under the auspices of the British Mandate Government, while the Haganah served as its army. However, other breakaway groups also operated according to their own agenda. Two leading bands amongst them were the Irgun (National Military Organization) and Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang). These groups carried out numerous terrorist attacks, including bus bombings and targeted assassinations. Russian-born Menachem Begin was the leader of the Irgun which, along with the Stern Gang and other Jewish militants, massacred hundreds of civilians in Deir Yassin…Some of the other terrorists-turned-politicians and top army brass include Begin, Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, Rafael Eitan and Yitzhak Shamir. Each one of these leaders has a record dotted with violence…So, when government ministers like Ariel and Bennett call for wanton violence against Palestinians, they are simply carrying on with a bloody legacy that has defined every single Israeli leader in the past. It is the violent mindset that continues to control the Israeli government and its relationship with Palestinians; in fact, with all of its neighbors.

Ramzy Baroud added in CounterPunch that for the Palestinian people there are few options: “perpetual Apartheid or ethnic cleansing, or a mix of both” with the ‘Regularization Bill,’ which passed in February 2017, allowing the Zionist government to “retroactively recognize Jewish outposts built without official permission on privately-owned Palestinian land.” While the UN General Assembly says that the settlements are illegal, the response is the building of “new housing units…throughout the Occupied Palestinian territories,” and paving the “way for the annexation of large swathes of the Occupied West Bank” with the construction of “more  ‘Jewish-only’ bypass roads will be constructed, more walls erected, more gates to keep Palestinians away from their land, schools and livelihood will be put up, more checkpoints, more suffering, more pain, more anger, and more violence.” The Palestinian leadership is not blameless, as it foolishly entrusted the “the US, Israel’s main enabler, with managing a ‘peace process’ that has allowed Israel time and resources to finish its colonial projects, while devastating Palestinian rights and political aspirations,” a terrifying result.

There are  varying practices of the Zionists which are aimed at breaking apart feelings of Palestinian nationalism as noted by Michael Lynk: “the use of punitive home demolitions” (re-instituted  in 2014), restricting the freedom of movement by making populations go through “Israeli security arrangements,” having a long-standing land/air/sea blockade on Gaza (which started in 2007), “planning practices and policies” aimed against Palestinians, the division of the Palestinian economy (making it hard to build a “sovereign economy” as occupied Palestine is a “captive trading market” for Zionists), and turning the West Bank “into an archipelago of small islands of densely-populated areas disconnected from one another.” Additionally, a lack of secure transit access, inhibiting 35% of Gaza’s farming land by decreeing that a strip of land 300 meters within Gaza is a “restricted buffer zone,” tightly restricting the “maritime zone that Gazan fishermen can utilize” have been other attempts to weaken the unifying effect of Palestinian nationalism. For Gaza, as Lynk wrote in his report, there has been “widespread social anguish” while in the West Bank it it not as hellish, but it is not “flourishing.” Additionally the Zionists have illegally annexed East Jerusalem, entrenched a “colonial-like regime in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” which has created “two separate and unequal systems as regards laws, roads, justice regimes, access to water, social services, freedom of mobility, political and civil rights, security and living standards.” There are also discriminatory measures toward Bedouins in the West Bank who “are often subject to relocation plans developed by the Israeli Government.” [8]

In 2010, the humanitarian imperialist Human  Rights Watch even released a report saying that the Zionists differently treat “Jewish settlements” compared to “nearby Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem” with a “two-tier system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians.” They specifically argued that the different treatment “on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin and not narrowly tailored to meet security or other justifiable goals, violates the fundamental prohibition against discrimination under human rights law.” [9] Like their other report, civil society groups provided information and assistance, including ACRI, Al Haq, B’Tselem, Bimkom, EAPPI, OCHA, Peace Now, Yesh Din, and Who Profits.

Just recently, the Zionists seemed to be “worried” about Gaza, even saying publicly that” Gaza’s economy and infrastructure stand on the brink of collapse” which people have been saying for years, as their army has, for over 10 years, enforced a “a blockade on goods coming in and out of the tiny coastal enclave that left much of the 2-million-strong population there unemployed, impoverished and hopeless.” As a result, three separate military assaults have been launched, destroying “Gaza’s infrastructure, killed many thousands and left tens of thousands more homeless and traumatised” which has made Gaza, effectively an overcrowded “open-air prison.” But, the reason the Zionists are concerned is that “diseases will quickly spread into Israel” if epidemics break out, and that “hundreds of thousands of Palestinians could be banging on Israel’s door” if the economy in Gaza collapses. However,U$ and Israeli politicians are not “taking the army’s warnings to heart” with things seemingly set to be even worse with Netanyahu declaring that that there”could be no improvements, no reconstruction in Gaza until Hamas agrees to give up its weapons” and the U$ is cutting aid. Perhaps this will lead the PLO to sever their ties with the Zionists completely, as they seem set to do.

The horrid living conditions are evident. At the height of summer 2017, the Zionists cut off water to a Palestine village, while there were purposeful efforts to disable Palestinian teenagers, annexing territories which will uproot 100,000 Palestinians, and plundering of Palestinian resources by German firms that tried to whitewash their activities! If that isn’t enough, Palestinians in the West Bank are literally drowning in the waste of Zionist settlers, which is horrifying:

…many Israeli settlements do not have proper waste treatment facilities. About 12 percent of settlement sewage remains untreated and travels down into streams near Palestinian communities…Palestinian communities are severely affected by settler-produced waste owing to many of their villages having been forced to move to lower agricultural lands after Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory…the pollution had caused the local extinction of several species that had once inhabited the area, including deer, rabbits, and foxes. Boars are now the only animals left alive there…Since the 1980s, the Bedouin village of Wadi Abu Hindi, located in a valley squeezed between Israel’s Maale Adumim and Qedar settlements near the town of al-Eizariya, east of Jerusalem, has been affected by a massive nearby dumping ground for Israeli rubbish…In addition to the landfill and fears of a forced eviction from Wadi Abu Hindi, the residents also have to contend with Israelis from the Qedar settlement releasing their pool water into the below valley where the Bedouin reside…Caused by Israeli dumpsites, settler waste, and Israeli restrictions on Palestinians preventing them from developing waste treatment facilities. More than half of all waste produced by Palestinians in the West Bank remains untreated

Such efforts go beyond what happened in 2014 in Gaza: six UNRWA schools  were bombed, Gaza’s only power plant was  destroyed, and plunging thousands into darkness.

Efforts to prevent Palestinians “from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life” of the Zionist state and creating conditions “preventing the full development” of the Palestinian people

Israeli soldiers patrol a street in the West Bank city of Hebron’s Old City on 14 January, courtesy of Electronic Intifada

In particular these efforts, which can be legislation or not, deny members of a racial group(s) “basic human rights and freedoms” such as the rights to work, “form recognized trade unions, education, “to leave and to return to their country,” to a nationality, to “freedom of movement and residence,” to freedom of opinion and expression, and to “freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

The ECOWA full report on apartheid Israel says  specifically that Palestinians who remained in Israel after 1948 who had not fled or been expelled became citizens but were administered under emergency laws, with denial of their civil rights such as the franchise to vote, until 1966! Furthermore, there is a “race-based immigration policy” with measures in place which are specifically “designed to prevent Palestinian citizens of Israel from challenging the doctrine and laws that purport to establish Israel as a Jewish State.” More specifically, the summary ECOWA report argues the “right of return” for Palestinians is denied to over 6 million people.

Freedom House, an appendage of the murderous empire, of course, claims that Palestinians have an active role in the Zionist state, saying that they pushed against Israeli occupation starting from 1921 onward. [10] However, they even have to admit, in a chapter written by a seemingly well-respected Palestinian scholar, that even as Palestinian women  face obstacles from “within their own culture and society,” including restrictive “personal status laws” on the domestic front, they face impositions “as the result of occupation, war, and civil unrest,” writing that

…the Israeli occupation…heavily influences the ways in which the PA conducts its affairs, how Palestinians conduct their daily lives, and the personal security of all Palestinians. The areas under PA rule are not contiguous, but are separated by numerous checkpoints, roadblocks, and other physical and administrative barriers erected by the Israeli authorities. These barriers have significantly curtailed Palestinians’ freedom of movement, and combined with a general lack of security, they have had a devastating effect on the local economy…[the apartheid wall in the West Bank has caused women to] experience further separation from their families, farmlands, water resources, schools, and hospitals. When the wall is completed, it will stand eight to nine meters tall and stretch more than 700 kilometers, adversely affecting the lives of an estimated one-third of the Palestinian population in the West Bank…Palestinian women and men from the West Bank and Gaza who marry Palestinians with Israeli citizenship face difficulty in transferring citizenship to their family members…Israeli checkpoints and barriers, including the separation wall, also restrict freedom of movement. The separation wall in particular has made women the “most isolated social group” in Palestine…Such restrictions on free movement have prevented some women from reaching hospitals and health care centers in time to give birth; as a result, several have died in transit at checkpoints… Many women—and some men—holding Jerusalem identity cards and married to Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza cannot obtain Jerusalem identity cards for their spouses, meaning the spouses are not allowed to live in Jerusalem…Palestinians from Jerusalem risk losing their residency status if they are unable to present documents demonstrating continuous residence for the past seven years and proving that their “center of life” is in Jerusalem. Those who lose their status are effectively barred from returning to their native city…Women and men are generally free to assemble peacefully within the PA-administered areas, so long as they avoid Israeli checkpoints.

The rest of the report isn’t worth quoting here as it mainly focuses on internal Palestinian laws by the PA and Hamas, saying they are restrictive, with diatribes against them. Still, the above shows that the apartheid nature of the state is clear in that this report acknowledges restrictions against Palestinians, especially Palestinian women, making the apartheid system utterly sexist and, even more accurately, patriarchal.

The denial of freedom of movement is evident. Just recently, the Zionist occupiers deported a Palestinian child who was reportedly in Jerusalem without a military permit and did not notify the parents. Then there are infringements on workers rights allowed in the West Bank by 206 companies, as noted in a recent UN report, which are “doing business linked to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and it urged them to avoid any complicity in “pervasive” violations against Palestinians,” companies which “play a central role in furthering the establishment, maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements.” 143 of these companies are “located in Israel or the Jewish-only settlements, followed by 22 in the United States” with 19 from “other countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, France and Britain.” The report says that settlements lead to violations which are “pervasive and devastating, reaching every facet of Palestinian life,” with restrictions on “freedom of religion, movement and education and lack of access to land, water and jobs.” It further said that businesses operating in occupied Palestine have a responsibility to “carry out due diligence” and consider if they can even do business there in a  “manner that respects human rights.” Of course, the Zionists attacked this report, saying it was “fundamentally illegitimate” and proves the UN’s “bias to try to delegitimize Israel” since they fear that the list of 206 companies could be “used by the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.” At the present, about 600,000 Jewish settlers “live in over 230 illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem” and they tend to be “ultra-conservative Jewish people that reject the idea of a Palestinian people or state and believe that the West Bank should be part of the Israeli state,” the perfect people for furthering the colonialist goals of the Zionists.

With this, the Zionist state is undeniably not a “moral democracy,” as it has pursued a “discriminatory policy against a fifth of its Palestinian citizens inside the 67 borders” but is rather a democracy that “only applies for the masters of the system” meaning that on almost every level, “from official legislation through governmental practices as well as social and cultural attitudes, Israel is only a democracy for one group…that given the space that Israel now controls, is not even a majority group anymore.” Furthermore, even with the reputation by the Zionists that they are “outwardly liberal and open, there are still recently opened racially segregated schools.” Such “institutionalised discrimination and systematic oppression over any group based on race is the definition of apartheid.” Even James “Mad Dog Mattis” warned the Israeli right-wing in 2013 [11] that

If I’m Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east and there’s 10,000 Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include them, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid. That didn’t work too well the last time I saw that practiced in a country.

In 2014, Professor Iian Pappe argued that the Zionist state had passed the crossorads, deciding if it “wants to be a democracy or to be a racist and apartheid state, given the realities on the ground” and it made the  decision that it “prefers to be a racist apartheid state and not a democracy,” which it hopes would be given license by murderous empire, proving it “with the immunity to continue with the necessary implication of such a policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians, wherever they are.” Add to this that the education system of Arabs within the Zionist state has “been placed under the control of the general intelligence apparatus” with no school  headmaster or teacher “appointed without the approval of the intelligence services.” Even the syllabus itself is supervised by “specialists” in order  to “domesticate the Arab population and turn it into a loyal one.” At the same  time, Zionist authorities have issued orders to demolish thousands of homes and impose “heavy fines on Arab citizens” with the net effect being the “exhaustion and impoverishment of the Arabs.” This is made worse by the fact that corporations benefit from “the low cost of Palestinian agricultural labor in settlements.” [12] Additionally, the Zionist state is currently maintaining a “system of formal and informal housing segregation both in Israel and in the occupied territories” while the “Jewish residents of the occupied territories enjoy various rights and privileges denied to their Palestinian neighbors.” The “educational systems for the two populations in Israel (not to mention the occupied territories) are kept largely separate and unequal” and it is “not legally possible in Israel for a Jewish citizen to marry a non-Jewish citizen.” [13]

That’s not all. There are dozens upon dozens of discriminatory laws ranging from stop-and-frisk, anti-NGO measures, laws against stone throwers, and anti-boycott measures. Some, as noted by the Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel or  Adalah are as follows:

There are pages, pages, and more pages of many other laws as well. These laws undoubtedly restrict freedom of expression, opinion, and assembly, fulfilling yet another aspect of an apartheid state.

There is no written constitution in the Zionist state, and even the basic law of human dignity and liberty asserts that there can be violations of rights of the populace through laws “befitting the values of the State of Israel, enacted for a proper purpose, and to an extent no greater than is required” with these values including keeping the “State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” which is already inherently racist, with the “freedom of occupation” provision since repealed. Adding to this, as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign wrote, while the Palestinian labor movement had its roots stretching back to 1920, it was

effectively destroyed during the Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1947–48, when the newly established state of Israel expelled more than 750,000 Palestinians and occupied 78% of what had been historic Palestine. By the mid-1950s all Arab organisations, including trade union bodies, of pre-1948 Palestine had ceased to exist…Today, the Palestinian labour force in Israel is still faced with problems similar to its situation in pre-1948 Palestine, i.e. concentration in the low-wage sector, unequal pay, lack of  infrastructure and other obstacles that contradict the principle of decent work, including the lack of labour law enforcement and inspections…In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, where unemployment averages more than 50%, numerous unions come together under the umbrella of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). Under conditions of military occupation, with checkpoints, barriers and the Wall, it is not easy for unions to function properly, but the PGFTU has been at the forefront of drafting labour legislation and campaigning to safeguard the rights of both workers and the unemployed.

So, that shows that trade unions are not allowed anymore. As for nationality, Palestinians are seen as second-class citizens without a doubt, so their nationality is seen as sub-par to that of Jewish citizens. This is evident by the fact that Israel had to be declared a “national home” rather than a state because there were well-established Palestinians already in the country, with the “national home” being for Jewish people specifically and aimed to make the area a “Jewish state.” Even in 1919, a U$ legal scholar wrote in the New Republic that “Zionists are quite willing to ignore the rights of the vast majority of the non-Jewish population of Palestine” with this undoubtedly happening after the state was created with UN sanction. As one Washington post columnist Richard Cohen admitted, state of Israel “is the legal creation of the United Nations,” and did not exist prior to 1948. [14]

Ever since the Zionists “launched a surprise attack against Egypt [in 1967] and began its military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and Syrian Golan Heights,” the  Zionists have “ruled over millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories by military decree, granting them no political rights while relentlessly colonizing their land” and because this is so entrenched, it has led many “observers to conclude that the creation of a sovereign and territorially contiguous Palestinian state alongside Israel (i.e. the two-state solution) is no longer possible.”

Efforts designed to divide the population along racial lines

Prof. Richard Falk, as quoted above, in an interview in October 2016.

Specifically, these efforts, which include the “creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups,” prohibition of “mixed marriages among members of various racial groups,” and the “expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof.”

The summary of the report by ECOWA, which the murderous empire and murderous Zionists didn’t want the world to see, just like the full report, makes these efforts abundantly clear. This summary, which “anchors its definition of apartheid in international law,” argues that the Zionist government was designed inherently for apartheid, renders any opposition to this system of racial domination illegal, rejects “the return of any Palestinian refugees and exiles” which total “some six million people” to territory under control of the Zionists, and the Palestinian people are strategically fragmented. Furthermore, these fragments are “ostensibly treated differently but share in common the racial oppression that results from the apartheid regime.”

The full ECOWA report is even more explicit, adding that the state itself is “politically constructed” as for the Jewish people, with the mission of preserving it that way compelling or even inspiring “general racial policies.” These include “demographic engineering, in order to establish and maintain an overwhelming Jewish majority in Israel” and designing domestic governance “to ensure that the State upholds and promotes Jewish nationalism.” As a result of this, the State has an “essentially racist character,” with “racial-nationalist privileges” embedded in the state’s “legal and doctrinal foundations,” and is “designed to be a racial regime” with different forms of administration used to “control Palestinian populations depending on where they live.” If that isn’t enough, the state “maintains an apartheid regime by administering Palestinians under different bodies of law” by pursuing efforts to “weaken the Palestinians politically and contain their demographic weight.” This manifests itself in the fact that the fragments which constitute “occupied Palestinian territory,” as the UN defines it (the West Bank, of the Jordan river, and Gaza Strip) are dominated by a  similar system. The 4.6 million Palestinians who live in these fragments, “2.7 million in the West Bank and 1.9 million in the Gaza Strip” are governed by military law, rather than civil law, which is “codified as orders issued by the commander of the territories and administered by the…IDF” along with other “designated arms of the occupying power.”

In July 2017, Matthew Vickery wrote in TruthOut that every month it seems the Zionists move to “expand the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank,” with these settlements splitting “the West Bank into Palestinian islands surrounded by settler-only land, roads, and military zones,” and integral part of the “Israel’s military occupation and a major aspect of the continued, decades long, suppression of the Palestinian people.” Such divisions undoubtedly divide the populace along race lines as, child workers, as he writes, are “poverty-stricken, and the lives these villagers used to live before occupation…has been completely destroyed” with the land stripped away from them, annexed by the Zionists, with restrictions on Freedom of movement, hemming the workers “into islands of Palestinian land surrounded by Israeli settlements, roads, and military controlled zones.”

Even evidently problematic and likely anti-Semitic Gilad Atzmon, who falsely claimed that calling the Zionist Israel a “‘colonial state’ and an ‘apartheid’ apparatus” was introduced “for the obvious reason that they wanted to disguise the extent of the crime committed by Jewish nationalism” (this is false because it was posited by the racist prime minister of South Africa in 1961 and later used by Palestinians) admitted that the Zionist state is “a racially driven ethnic cleanser, it wants the Palestinians gone” in an article titled “call it colonialism, call it occupation – just don’t call it ‘apartheid.'” Others, who are more credible, has said the same. Tanya Williams, the Green candidate for Twickenham, South West London argued that “it needs to be pointed out that they [Israel] are a racist state and an apartheid state.” Even John Kerry declared infamously in April 2014 [15] that

A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens – or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state.

Add to this what the anti-Zionist and British-based group, No To Pinkwashing, argues. They write that the Zionist state claims that they “support LGBTQ…rights to try to divert attention from their human rights crimes against Palestinians” with the pinkwashing playing on the racist stereotypes “that Muslims and Arabs are all violently homophobic and transphobic, while Israelis are western and “civilised”.” However, the reality is that there is an  “apartheid state built on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians,” with the Zionists not wanting peace as “Israeli settlers are seizing Palestinian land to build settlements,” and attacks on Gaza killing thousands.

As Ben White wrote, the Zionist state is founded on violence. When it was established in 1948, “around 90 percent of all Palestinians who would have been inside its borders were expelled, and prevented from returning” with millions of Palestinians still denied access to “their homeland, their lands and properties expropriated, purely because they are not Jewish.” Furthermore, the Zionists have “systematically discriminated against Palestinian citizens” and for 49 years of its existence, subjected “non-citizen Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to a military regime characterised by colonisation and segregation.” This meant that by the mid-1970s, the”average Palestinian village in Israel had lost 65-75 percent of its land.” At the present, there has been the expansion and establishment of “more than 100 illegal settlements, in defiance of international law” with these settlements build on stole Palestinian land with the settlers being Israeli citizens meaning they are not “ruled by military law.” As White concludes, at the present, there is “a de-facto single state…between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea” maintained by the Zionists, with successive governments, since 1967, incorporating “the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, into the fabric of the state, through settlements, a road network, and so on.”  As a result, within this state, “Jews and Palestinians are afforded or denied rights based on ethnicity, ID card, and geography.” That sounds like racial division without a doubt. This merged state can be called the murderous Zionist apartheid state, or Zionist state for short, as to not use the term “Israel.”

In international institutions, there seems to be no recourse for such institutionalized racial discrimination. While the Zionist state signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) in 1979 (which criminalizes “racial segregation and apartheid“), policy reforms did not follow, as it refuses to “comply with its international law obligations” with state discrimination against “non-Jews.” From this, the CERD (Committee) on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) concluded that “Israel systematically segregates and discriminates against non-Jews,” saying that they are

articularly appalled at the hermetic character of the separation of two groups, who live on the same territory but do not enjoy either equal use of roads and infrastructure or equal access to basic services and water resources. Such separation is concretized by the implementation of a complex combination of movement restrictions consisting of the Wall, roadblocks, the obligation to use separate roads and a permit regime that only impacts the Palestinian population…The Committee draws the State party’s attention to its General Recommendation 19 (1995) concerning the prevention, prohibition and eradication of all policies and practices of racial segregation and apartheid, and urges the State party to take immediate measures to prohibit and eradicate any such policies or practices which severely and disproportionately affect the Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and which violate the provisions of article 3 of the Convention…[there is] increased concern that Israeli society maintains Jewish and non-Jewish sectors, which raises issues under article 3 of the Convention. Clarifications provided by the delegation confirmed the Committee’s concerns in relation to the existence of two systems of education, one in Hebrew and one in Arabic, which except in rare circumstances remain impermeable and inaccessible to the other community, as well as separate municipalities: Jewish municipalities and the so-called ‘municipalities of the minorities.’

Furthermore, they rejected the argument about “military exigencies,” saying that the Zionists must “ensure equal access to justice for all persons residing in territories under the State Party’s effective control,” while denouncing the treatment of Palestinian children. Later, in 2000,  “five judges ruled on Ka’adan v. The Israel Lands Administration,” saying that  “discriminatory housing and land policies” are illegal with  CERD wanting this enforced, and saying that the “discriminatory Law for the Regulation of the Bedouin Settlement in the Negev” should be eliminating, arguing that it legalizes the “ongoing policy of home demolitions and forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities.” However, even as “CERD’s observations and recommendations are important…it lacks enforcement authority” with the Zionists talking “full advantage” of this without a doubt.

In 1976, the Koenig Memo or Koenig Document was published, making recommendations as”to how to deal with Palestinians living inside the state of Israel, who are considered citizens according to Israeli law”  with its open publication “seemingly part of a plan to incite intimidation and hostility towards Palestinians.” This document was the first to state “hidden truths” with  the assumption throughout  that “Arab citizens are to be regarded as enemies and backwards, lacking understanding of modernity or democracy” while saying that their should be a “strategy aimed at domesticating Arabs and guaranteeing Jewish supremacy” with  the latter including the crushing of Arab defiance, weakening Arab leaders, denying work and educational opportunities to Arabs, and tighter control. Basically the document advocates “racial discrimination against Arab citizens,” perceiving “Arabs as a superficial and backwards community that need special treatment and constant observation,” creating a new “fascist reality that haunts Arabs in every aspect of their lives.” Furthermore, it says Arabs should migrate while denying “them their legitimate rights as citizens of the state.”  While no documents or official papers show the Zionists adopted this, it is well-known that it is “binding for the Israeli government” and it has become “a strategy, indeed almost a constitution, adhered to by successive Israeli governments.” With the memo’s adoption and implementation, it has been used as a “reference point and as an essential source for successive Israeli governments, and as an agreed strategy against the Arab population” with some calling it a “constitution for an apartheid system that has been established inside the occupied territories of modern day Israel.”

There are other aspects as well. There is a racist trade union called Histadrut which was “key Zionist organization responsible for the formation of the Israeli state,” seen as a “normal trade union” outside the Zionist state. Additionally, in March 2013, buses “running from the West Bank into central Israel” started to have “separate lines for Jews and Arabs,” showing that racial segregation is alive and well despite official denials. [16]

Exploitation of the labor of Palestinians, particularly by “submitting them to forced labour”

Palestinian civilians who were “captured during the fall of Lydda and Ramle around the time of July 12, 1948 and taken to [forced] labour camps. In the July heat they were thirsty and were given a drop of water carried by a child under soldiers’ guard” as noted by a pro-Palestinian site, reprinting from Al-Akbar English
There is no doubt that there is exploitation of Palestinian labor, as the Zionist state is inherently capitalist. In the Investment Climate Statement of the U$ State Department, a report written for U$-based investors in June 2017, this is clear. [17] The economy of the Palestinian fragments is described as “small and relatively open” with several large “holding companies dominating certain sectors” with Palestinian businesses having a “reputation for professionalism as well as the quality of their products” and large Palestinian enterprises “internationally connected, with partnerships extending to Asia, Europe, the Gulf, and the Americas.” However, the local market is small, movement and access of goods and people between the Palestinian fragments is restricted, and external markets imposed by the Zionists has a “deleterious effect on the private sector and limit economic growth.” Furthermore, they grumble that Hamas’s control of the Gaza Strip eliminates “opportunities for meaningful foreign direct investment in Gaza are few,” but admit that the economy of the West Bank is de-coupled from Gaza, along with restrictions by the Zionists “on the flow of imports and exports.” That’s not all. Citing data of the Palestinian Authority (PA), they write that the unemployment rate, in 2015 was about 27% overall, being about 18% in the West Bank and about 42% in Gaza, with the overall unemployment rate among women being about 45%, among those aged 20-24 it is about 43% in the West Bank and about 58% in Gaza. They say, moderately that these Palestinian fragments create a “challenging business environment affecting domestic and foreign investors alike.” Of course, the PA will not really help solve these problems, even with their National Policy Agenda for 2017 -2022, described in the report as putting forward a “path to independence, government reform, and sustainable development” which are just rhetorical words as it translates to deregulation, supporting petty bourgeoisie, and looking ahead to “economic opportunities following the resolution of the political conflict with Israel.” If Palestine was to become a state under the PA, it would like engage in deregulation and likely privatization (which currently hasn’t occurred) as it has “participated in the 2005, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015 WTO Ministerial meetings as an ad hoc observer” and is looking to gain permanent observer status for the PA itself. Currently, as the report notes, the major sources of inward direct investment in the country are: the U$, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt, and Cyprus.

The report of the U$ State Department is telling, but of course it doesn’t tell the whole truth, but only enough of what is told to investors. These reports are definitely more accurate about the reality than the human rights reports which are utter propaganda without question. After all, it is evident that thousands of Palestinians (mostly male) were interned in 22 “Israeli-run prisoner of war camps” during the 1948 war, with conditions of utter slavery, and these Palestinians were “expelled from the country at the end of the war”! More specifically, these Palestinian civilians were made into forced laborers, exploited “to support its war-time economy,” with those imprisoned forced to “do public and military work,” in camps “surrounded by barbed wire fences, watchtowers, and a gate with guards” where established “after the unilateral declaration of Israel’s statehood on May 1948.” Before that “prisoners were a burden in the beginning phases of the ethnic cleansing,” with four “official” camps which were on or adjacent to military installations, administered by former British officers, and visited by the ICRC (International Crescent of the Red Cross) actively. Along with one other recognized camp, there were 21 “unrecognized” camps, with smaller amounts of prisoners, not noted in official sources! Most of the camps were within “the borders of the UN-proposed Jewish state” although four camps were in the “UN-assigned Arab state and one was inside the Jerusalem “corpus separatum.”” While it is known that 5,000 individuals were interned in the four “official” camps, it is not known how many were interned in the other 22 camps, with abuses by prison guards “systematic and rife” in the camps themselves with some avoiding such abuse because of their political ideology or because they knew their rights. This was coupled with wide-scale “kidnapping and imprisonment of Palestinian civilians,” in 1948, with campaigns like Operation Dan ” when 60-70,000 Palestinians were expelled from the central towns of Lydda and Ramleh” or Operation Hiram with a large “round-up of civilians came from villages of central Galilee,” some of which were taken to concentration camps. It would be until 1955 that “most of the Palestinian civilian prisoners would finally be released” while the Zionists ignored the condemnations of the ICRC and other groups! This story which has been barely mentioned at all in most histories and was only recently unearthed and brought together in the Journal of Palestinian Studies, showing that the current discriminatory nature of the apartheid system are an inherent part of the state’s history, meaning that a new state must be formed. As one book put it, the apartheid state is a bourgeois republic with Zionism permeating “all aspects of life” and is led by a bourgeois leadership, meaning that in this state the working people will be exploited, oppressed, and “governed” in this class-divided society.

Such forced labor has continued at the present. Even humanitarian imperialist Human Rights Watch (HRW) discovered in a 74-page report, released in  July 2015, that hundreds Palestinian children, as young as 11 years old, are “being employed under dangerous conditions in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.” [18] Only being given 13 pounds a day, some children worked outdoors in 100-degree temperatures, with even “hotter conditions inside greenhouses” meaning that settlements the West Bank are “profiting from rights abuses against Palestinian children”  as one director put it, while children are dropping out of school, taking on this “dangerous work” because they feel they have no choice. Much of the produce that they pick, clean, and pack is exported to the EU or the U$, with the children working up to 12 hours a day and many suffering injuries, with the whole thing denied by the occupation authorities of course. The original report by HRW, which has only limited suggestions for “change” distinguishing  not just the media summary, shows it is even more horrific [19]:

The work that children perform can be both grueling and hazardous. Some children who work on settlement farms described vomiting, dizziness, and skin rashes after spraying pesticides with little protection, and experienced body pain or numbness from carrying heavy pesticide containers on their back. Many suffered cuts from using sharp blades to cut onions, sweet peppers, and other crops. Heavy machinery also causes injuries…None of the children interviewed received medical insurance or social insurance benefits, and the majority of those who needed medical treatment due to work injuries or illness said they had to pay their own medical bills and transportation costs to Palestinian hospitals…[there are] many examples of children working in Israeli agricultural settlements in violation of international law as well as Israeli and Palestinian law…Another factor underlying abuses against Palestinian children in settlements are Israel’s policies that severely restrict the traditional Palestinian economic activity in the Jordan Valley – agriculture – while supporting settlement agriculture

With research assistance by groups such as the Jordan Valley Solidarity Center, the Ma’an Development Center, and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, this report is definitely more legitimate than others on countries the empire hates without a doubt.

This HRW report is not unique as their is undoubted exploitation of Palestinians. In July 2017, Matthew Vickery wrote in TruthOut that illegal Israeli settlements “provide employment to thousands of Palestinians — men, women, and children as young as 12,” constructing and building structures “that deconstruct their own aspirations for self-determination.” He remarks that these child workers are “often forgotten about by the outside world and activists, vilified by their fellow Palestinians, and used as propaganda by settlement companies and the Israeli government,” adding that these workers “talk of dangerous conditions, of life-altering injuries, of being paid well below the legal Israeli minimum wage (to which they are entitled), and being subjected to humiliating and threatening treatment” at hands of employers, IDF soldiers, and “unscrupulous middlemen.” With their traditional livelihoods destroyed, they feel that working in settlements is the “only viable way for thousands of rural Palestinians to steadily provide for their family” with the work “forced upon them by occupation,” with many Palestinians having trouble even getting to the settlements because of the Zionist military’s restrictions. Still, the Zionist occupiers and explicit policies has “forced workers into taking up such degrading employment” with the settlement work basically serving as a “nuanced form of forced labour” with workers “exploited for economic gain and forced to build and reinforce occupation with their own hands” with 15% of the workers working on “land that was stolen from their family”!

Other reports have shown the prevalence of child labor. A 2011 dissertation said that “lack of employment opportunities and lack of employment opportunities with adequate income for adults is probably the underlying cause for child labor in Palestine” which are conditions undeniably caused by the Zionist occupiers. The International Trade Union Federation noted back in October 2008 that “Israeli checkpoints make a natural gathering place for child workers because of the permanent queues of people waiting to pass through the barriers” with these children at “significant risk of being caught in crossfire or being abused by other children, the Israeli army or the Palestinian police,” with conditions leading to this including home demolition, with “the homes of over 12,000 people were demolished in the West Bank and Gaza Strip” demolished between 2000 and 2003. In 2004, UNICEF released a report, writing that

Most of the children referred to the importance of the bad economic conditions of the household as a main factor that makes them enter the labour market and the intervention of this factor with other social, psychological and institutional factors…[with] meeting household basic needs…Contribution in improving the household living conditions…Feelings of responsibility for helping the father in his work…Feeling the need for pleasing one of the relatives especially the father…Gaining “value“ within the family…Learning a craft…Hatred to school and considering it as unfruitful…Provision of personal needs…Inheritance of a business owned by the household…Planning to improve future living conditions…Fatalism…Influence of peers and desire to socialize…[and] Preparing girls for marriage [were reasons these children engaged in labor]…In some cases, children were forced to work and in other cases, children entered the labour market despite the opposition of the family. In many cases, children enter the labour market gradually without being “noticed“ by family members or school teachers. A “code of silence“ smoothes the entry of children into the labour market…Most of the children declared that their work is important for the household and that they work for the benefit of their households…Exploitation of children in the Palestinian labour market was manifested in many aspects. It was shown that one-half of the working children are below 15 years of age, and work for long hours that exceed 6 hours a day and reaches 14 hours for some children…30% of working children are enrolled in schools while 70% of them dropped out…Many of the children have the feelings of shouldering the responsibility and solving the problems of their families and they work driven by these feelings…Although the children could not express in-depth understanding of human rights and child rights and do not have clear knowledge about laws and legislation, but in identifying the required
interventions, they showed that they are the most capable to identify their problems and propose solutions.

Persecution of persons and organizations, depriving them of “fundamental rights and freedoms” just because they oppose the apartheid system

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 14 January. During a two-and-a-half-hour speech Abbas declared that “today is the day that the Oslo accords end,” courtesy of Electronic Intifada

The summary of the ECOWA report, cited earlier, said that any opposition to apartheid has been rendered illegal. The full ECOWA report adds that constitutional law in the Zionist state has made “resistance to oppression illegal” with any Palestinian parties “legally prohibited from challenging the racial regime itself”!

For years, it was evident, even among the intelligence agencies of  the murderous empire  that “Israeli occupation would become permanent if it did not end quickly” with the political orthodoxy funding, fueling, and protecting  the apartheid  state while they “attempted to render illegitimate all forms of resistance to it.”

More recently, similar to apartheid South Africa, the Zionist occupiers have begun banning groups from coming into the apartheid state for their involvement in the BDS movement, a “BDS blacklist” as people are calling it. These include CodePink, led by reactionary leftist Medea Benjamin (who, to her credit, seems like a dedicated pro-Palestinian activist who once learned about “communal living and socialism” but obviously doesn’t hold those beliefs now), War on Want, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, France-Palestine Solidarity Association, BDS France, BDS Italy, European Coordination of Committees and Associations of Palestine, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, The Palestine Committee of Norway, Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden, BDS Kampagne, American Muslims for Palestine, National Students for Justice in Palestine, BDS Chile, BDS South Africa, and BDS National Committee. [20] Outside the apartheid state, there has been censorship by the patrons of the state, with anti-BDS moves in Canada, the murderous empire, and in Western Europe.

The Zionists argued that this ban was necessary because they (the BDS movement) are harming “Israeli civilians,” declaring that “no country would have allowed critics coming to harm the country to enter it. These people are trying to exploit the law and our hospitality to act against Israel and to defame the country. I will act against this by every means.” There’s no need to defame the apartheid state, because its own spokespeople already do that!

Beyond this, within the apartheid state, a Palestinian MP got 6 months in jail without a trial, citizenship was revoked for another individual without a trial, and Palestinians are systematically imprisoned on no or false charges! Such actions have been happening for years. In 2014, police harassed those protesting against the Gaza invasion inside the apartheid state (also see here) and killed others in the West Bank. In the West, there have been efforts by Zionists to suppress the BDS movement.

The racist nature of Zionism

Tiamiou  Ajibade, ambassador to the UN at the debate, in 1975, over the resolution declaring Zionism to racist.  Dohomey was changed to Benin in 1975 when the country became the People’s Republic of Benin which would  be officials Marxist-Leninist until 1989,although it seemed to abandon these principles by the later 1980s, if the summary of this republic by Wikipedia has any merit.

In 1975, the United Nations debated a resolution calling Zionism a form of racism. Of course, the Zionists opposed it, but so did the Costa Ricans, the UK, and the U$, while Dohomey supported the resolution (as indicated by the above picture). Zambia was also supportive, with the UN representative there telling the UN General Assembly that

Mr. President, my country broke off diplomatic relations with Israel because of sympathy in support of our Arab brothers. We still condemn the expansionist policies of Israel and the racial overtones of its territories in the occupied territories.

The roll call for the resolution shows that many of the African countries voted for calling Zionism a form of racism, with the Soviet Union, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) or East Germany also voting for it. [21] It passed, with 72 votes in favor, 32 votes opposed, and 35 abstentions! Right after that, the video shows a U$ ambassador angry the world isn’t listening to them. The full resolution passed that day, November 10, 1975, determining that “zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It was a glorious victory for the world, against Zionism, and in favor of Palestinians, without a doubt. As Mondoweiss put it, “the countries that voted against the resolution were primarily colonial powers and/or their allies. The countries that voted for it were overwhelmingly formerly colonized and anti-imperialist nations.”

Sadly, in December 1991, with pressure from the murderous empire and the Zionist state, the UN General Assembly voted to revoke the resolution, with the Soviet Union disgustingly voting in favor, as did countries across the Americas, except for Cuba. The same was the case in Europe, with some support even across Africa. Still, apart from Cuba, there were a core of countries which opposed the resolution, and rightfully so:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Brunei
  • Bangladesh
  • People’s Korea
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Mauritania
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • UAE
  • Viet Nam
  • Yemen

This revocation was a propaganda coup for the murderous empire and the Zionists, showing hat the political landscape of the world had changed from 1975 to 1991, in favor of the capitalist poles of the world! This resolution passed because “the Soviet bloc, which helped pass the resolution, had collapsed; and two, Israel and the US demanded that it be revoked or they refused to participate in the Madrid Peace Conference” as one site put it.

Of course, the ADL, Tablet Magazine, and Jewish  Virtual Library, to name a few, scoff at the idea that Zionism is racist. However, as wrote in CounterPunch in 2003, in the drive to “establish and maintain a state in which Jews are always the majority, Zionism absolutely required that Palestinians, as non-Jews, be made to leave in 1948 and never be allowed to return” with the dirty secret being that “this is blatant racism.” They continued, writing that

…Israel’s drive to maintain dominion over the occupied Palestinian territories is motivated by an exclusivist, racist ideology…[the] small minority of Palestinians…faced considerable discrimination…[we must not ignore] Zionism’s fundamental racism…the animating force behind the policies of the present and all past Israeli governments in Israel…has always been a determination to assure the predominance of Jews over Palestinians. Such policies can only be described as racist…house demolitions [are] the preeminent symbol of Zionism’s drive to maintain Jewish predominance…the advance of Zionism has been a process of displacement…Zionism’s racism has,…been fundamental to Israel itself since its establishment in 1948. The Israeli government pursues policies against its own Bedouin minority very similar to its actions in the occupied territories…After Zionist/Israeli leaders assured that the non-Jews (i.e., the Palestinians) making up the majority of Palestine’s population (a two-thirds majority at the time) departed the scene in 1948, Israeli governments institutionalized favoritism toward Jews by law…from the beginning, Zionism has been based on the supremacy of the Jewish people…racism…underlies Zionism. Most centrist and leftist Zionists deny the reality of Zionism’s racism…Needing an enemy has meant that Zionism has from the beginning had to create myths about Palestinians, painting Palestinians and all Arabs as immutably hostile and intransigent…most of those who support Israel as a Zionist state, would be horrified to be accused of racism, because their racist practices have become commonplace…The notion that the Jewish/Zionist state of Israel has a greater right to possess the land, or a greater right to security, or a greater right to a thriving economy, than the people who are native to that land is extremely racist…Zionism by its nature is racist and that this reality goes unnoticed by decent people who count themselves defenders of Israel. Is it anti-Semitic to say that Zionism is a racist system? Certainly not…There is also a strong moral reason for denouncing Zionism as racist…This is a racist philosophy. What Israel is doing to the Palestinians is not genocide, it is not a holocaust, but it is, unmistakably, ethnicide. It is, unmistakably, racism.

Some Zionists have openly admitted Zionism’s racist character. Take Abe Foxman who declared that “every nationalism is racist. It sets its laws of citizenship, it sets its own capital” but said that only calling Zionism racist is anti-Semitic somehow, even though it isn’t. Specifically, Zionist ideology is the “purest form of racism. Zionism is Jewish disguised racism as a raison d’etat.” Israeli  aggression, as one writer put it, shows that Zionism is racist. Furthermore, there are a number of other reasons that Zionism is racist:

  • Israel ethnically cleansed Palestinians
  • Zionism was always about settling on Palestinian land and expelling the indigenous population; it is a racist, settler-colonial ideology
  • As an officially Jewish state, Israel is an officially racist state
  • Zionism has a history of collaboration with anti-semitism

Some may be ringing their hands that Zionism isn’t “defined.” Well, if we use the definition of “political Zionism” posed by post-structuralist Judith Butler (whose views on gender I will discuss in another post) at the beginning of her book, Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism, here to mean Zionism in general, it means the “massive dispossessions of Palestinians in 1948, the appropriations of land in 1967, and the recurrent confiscations of Palestinian lands that continues now with the building of the wall and the expansion of settlements.” She further adds that this means “colonial subjugation in the West Bank and Gaza” which is characterized by “violent dispossession, surveillance, and ultimate control by the Israeli state over Palestinian rights to mobility, land, and political self-determination.”

You could argue that this definition is too limiting and does not recognize that Zionism is a movement. However, as other have argued, not only is there a strong anti-Zionist Jewish tradition but when practiced “Zionism is indistinguishable from the Israeli nationalism that sees the oppression of Palestinians like Ertefaa or Munib as necessary collateral for Jewish survival” meaning that “Israel does not speak for all Jews.” [22] There is  no doubt, however, that varied legal authorities and international organizations consider the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to be occupied, including the International Court of Justice, International Committee of the Red Cross, UN Security Council resolutions 446, 465, 478, UN General Assembly resolution 58/292, the UN’s OSHA oPt (see here and here), the European Union (in a confidential report and here), the UN Human Rights Council,and even humanitarian imperialists Amnesty International,  and Human Rights Watch. International law expert, David Kretzmer said at one point that he couldn’t “understand how someone claims that Israel is not an occupying force in the West Bank, after over forty years of government petitions to the High Court of Justice, citing authority as an occupying force in an occupied territory.”

The idea that Zionism is racist is nothing new and even goes back before 1975. At the 14th Congress of the Communist Party of Israel, they argued that Zionism is a form of bourgeois nationalism  which promotes capitalist interests. Furthermore,  as noted by a Soviet writer, not only is Zionism based on the idea of a “chosen race” but it was criticized by Vladimir Lenin himself, who said that the idea that Jews form a nation is “reactionary politically,” with such critical comments of Jewish action, especially nationalism dating back to Karl Marx himself, with none of these comments being anti-Semitic in any way. Stalin held a similar but different critique of Zionism as well.

What Lenin wrote in 1903 (arguing something similar in 1905) is instructive now:

…the Bund’s third argument, which invokes the idea of a Jewish nation, is undoubtedly of the nature of a principle. Unfortunately, however, this Zionist idea is absolutely false and essentially reactionary…that is precisely what the Jewish problem amounts to: assimilation or isolation?—and the idea of a Jewish “nationality” is definitely reactionary not only when expounded by its consistent advocates (the Zionists), but likewise on the lips of those who try to combine it with the ideas of Social-Democracy (the Bundists). The idea of a Jewish nationality runs counter to the interests of the Jewish proletariat, for it fosters among them, directly or indirectly, a spirit hostile to assimilation, the spirit of the “ghetto”…to call a fight for the Zionist idea of a Jewish nation, for the federal principle of Party organisation, a “fight for the equality of the Jews in the world family of the proletariat” is to degrade the struggle from the plane of ideas and principles to that of suspicion, incitement and fanning of historically-evolved prejudices. It glaringly reveals a lack of real ideas and principles as weapons of struggle…Instead of proclaiming war on this historically evolved isolation (further increased by the general disunity), they [the Bundists] elevated it to a principle, seizing for this purpose on the sophistry that autonomy is inherently contradictory, and on the Zionist idea of a Jewish nation

A book, published in 1934, titled “Lenin and the Jewish Question,” reprinted a number of Lenin’s writings on the subject. Lenin argued in 1919 that Jews are “comrades in the struggle for Socialism” while noting there is a small group of “Rich Jews,” and arguing specifically in 1913 that “liberal bourgeois nationalism” (which can apply to Zionism) corrupts workers  minds, with Jews as a caste rather than a nation. Elsewhere he says that acknowledging  the historical “legitimacy of nationalist movements” does not mean one should have “apology for nationalism” by supporting only what is “progressive” in such movements, an interesting comment which shows that a stand for self-determination does not have to apply to every single nationalist effort. In yet another refutation of anti-Semitism, the People’s Commissars in August 1918 said that “the Jewish bourgeois are our enemies, not as Jews but as bourgeois. The Jewish worker is our brother.”

“America’s unsinkable aircraft”: Imperialist support for the Zionist state

Some time ago, FLAME, a Zionist group put an ad in The Nation, of all places, calling the Zionist state, “America’s unsinkable aircraft in the Middle East,” the same magazine whose editors claimed that firing rockets into the Zionist state is “just as atrocious as the far more deadly Israeli barrages”! This is as bad as Howard Zinn’s declaration that “the demands of the Palestinians are just, but I don’t think that terrorist acts are justified, on both moral and pragmatic grounds.” [23]

Imperialist support started with the British commitment to a Jewish “national homeland” with the Balfour Declaration, along with others like one of the so-called “Paris Rothschilds.” [24] By the 1940s, however, the British became “fearful that the Americans would try to eject them from the Middle East.” They felt that the U$ imperialists would deny them control of the oil reserves in a region “considered central to [British] imperial strategy.” [25] Ibn Saud, the ruler of Saudi Arabia,was then an important person to the British Empire. However, he was not in favor of a Jewish state in Palestine,and was even reassured by FDR in 1945 that the U$ government would not “change its Palestine policy without consulting the Arabs.” [26] This later would be disregarded. As the murderous empire supported the creation of the Zionist state, Saud declared it would “be a death to American interests in the Arab world,” saying the Arabs would destroy this state, as he said he would punish the empire “by canceling the Aramco [Arab-American Oil Company] concession,”alarming the military and foreign policy establishment and related companies.  [27] With the UN’s General Assembly recommending partition (passing by the 2/3 majority) into an Arab state and a Jewish state, a proposal which Arab states opposed. Violence increased throughout Palestine, with the British withdrawing in 1948, with the new Zionist state proclaimed by the Jewish National Council on May 14, which was recognized quickly by the Soviets (who had worked to counter a US-backed trusteeship in Palestine) and the U$. [28] This was extremely disliked by the neighboring Arab states. They soon “launched a full-scale attack” against the Zionist state, with Saud saying that “sanctions against American oil concessions,” would be applied, but this didn’t happen, with the Saudi government, still formally hostile against Zionism, but Saud arguing that oil royalties helped Arab states resist “Jewish pretensions” and was still able to work with  the empire,not surprisingly. [29]

With all of this, the demographics of Palestine were changing. The colonial British claimed they were an “arbitrator between the Arab and Jewish communities,” putting a “ceiling on Jewish immigration,” due to demands by Palestinian Arabs, which was reversed as a result of the “horror of the Holocaust.” [30] Furthermore, the war in 1948 led to hundreds of thousands of refugees, with the murderous empire giving aid to the Zionists and feeling there could be anti-Soviet operations there, mostly Palestinian and Muslim. Even more than that, between 1946 and 1967, over 700,000 Arabs emigrated into Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, while between 1948 and 1964, almost 900,000 Jewish people immigrated into Palestine, with many more Jews coming in than the Arabs who were leaving, with the changed demographics affecting the political environment for years to come.

With the end of the Nakba in 1948, the Zionists had taken over many lands not given to them in the UN partition, showing they would not heed Harry Truman’s suggestion, in December 1947, that “…the Jews must now display tolerance and consideration for the other people in Palestine with whom they will necessarily have to be neighbors” with raids of “restribution” into the Gaza Strip (then controlled by Egypt) and into the West Bank (then controlled by Jordan) in the 1950s and 1960s, along with numerous killings and massacres in the years to come, with 300,000 Palestinians expelled or fleeing before the Zionis state was even created! [31] This was further evident by the fact that in 1967 they had taken over control of the Golan Heights, West Bank, Sinai Peninsula, and Gaza Strip. While Sinai was later relinquished back to Egypt, the Golan Heights, which is sovereign Syrian territory, is still held illegally. With this war, the Egyptians wanted to avenge “Israel’s battlefield successes in 1956” (and likely before as well) helped by Jordanian forces, but the Zionists went on the offensive, leading to many deaths of the Egyptians, Syrians, and some Iraqis.  [32] Years later, the Egyptians again want on the offensive. The Zionists were caught off guard in the Yom Kippur war of 1973, with key victories in the war’s first days, with the murderous empire resupplying the Zionists, leading to an oil embargo by Arab states after the Iraqi proposal to nationalize “all American business n the Arab world” was rejected by these same states. [33] In years to follow, the Egyptians would implement economic policies favoring the poles of capitalism,and the Iranians would back Palestinian groups in their fight  for liberation. With the wars in Gaza (2006, 2008-2009, 2014) causing the death of thousands, a Jewish South African judge named Richard Goldstone released a report arguing that “Israel used disproportionate military force against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip” while also condemning “Israel for border closures, the blockade, and for the wall…in the West Bank,” leading his vilification by the Zionists without a doubt. [34]

For years, since at least 1965 (if not earlier, with elites siding more with Arab states before that time), the murderous empire has backed the apartheid state. Not only is aid from the empire used to give the Zionists planes and tanks “used to attack Palestinians” but it is used to “build new settlements on Palestinian land and buy US-made warplanes and helicopter gunships,” showing the empire is supporting Zionist terrorism. [35] After the war in 1967, the empire sold jet fighters to the apartheid state, with sales jumping to over $2 billion by 1974, with a total of over $97 billion in aid given between 1949 and 2004! There is undoubtedly a bipartisan consensus on giving the Zi0nist state weapons of war, shown by $351 million to expand the Iron Dome system and Congressional resolutions blaming Hamas, while polls show rising discontent with the apartheid  state. Even a Palestinian independent weekly, named Hebron Times, was closed down in 2002 by the CIA for being “overly critical of Israel and US policy towards Palestinian people.” [36] From 1972 to 2017, the empire has used its veto 40 times to veto resolutions on:

  • Middle East situation, including the Palestinian question (Dec 2017)
  • Middle East situation, including the Palestinian question (Feb 2011)
  • Middle East situation, including the Palestinian question (Nov. 2006)
  • Middle East situation, including the Palestinian question (July 2006)
  • Middle East situation, including the Palestinian question (Oct 2004)
  • Middle East situation, including the Palestinian question (Mar 2004)
  • The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (Oct 2003)
  • The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (Sept 2003)
  • The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (Dec 2002)
  • The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (Dec 2001)
  • The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (Mar 2001)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Mar 1997)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Mar 1997)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (May 1995)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (May 1990)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Nov 1989)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Jun 1989)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Feb 1989)
  • The situation in the Middle East (Dec 1988)
  • The situation in the Middle East (May 1988)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Apr 1988)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Feb 1988)
  • The situation in the Middle East (Jan 1988)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Jan 1986)
  • The situation in the Middle East (Jan 1986)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Sept 1985)
  • The situation in the Middle East (Mar 1985)
  • The situation in the Middle East (Sept 1984)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Aug 1983)
  • The situation in the Middle East (Aug 1982)
  • The situation in the Middle East (Jun 1982)
  • The situation in the Middle East (Jun 1982)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Apr 1982)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Apr 1982)
  • The situation in the occupied Arab territories (Jan 1982)
  • The question of the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights (Apr  1980)
  • The question of the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights (Jun 1976)
  • The Middle East problem including the Palestinian question (Jan 1976)
  • The situation in the Middle East (Dec 1975)
  • The situation in the Middle East (Sept 1972)

Not surprisingly this leads to anger from Palestinians. Some even have said it has led to a form of “blowback,” noting that Osama Bin Laden said that policies of the empire toward Palestine angered him, although this idea is fundamentally flawed as has been discussed on this blog in the past. [37] The support of the empire of “Israel’s brutal apartheid regime,” as even Chris Hedges describes it, of the “occupying power” has led to a confluence of policy. The Zionists transferred Stinger missiles to the  mujahedeen in Afghanistan, became a nuclear weapons nation as the empire turned a blind eye, even to the use of depleted uranium, leading to horrifying health effects. [38] Additionally, the economy of the apartheid state is based in high technology, with government subsidies, and “homeland security” products, but excluding anyone who isn’t of Jewish descent, with this  economy expanding in “direct response to escalating violence” and built on continual warfare. Of course, the gap between the capitalists and proletariat have widened, with the Palestinian economy in a horrid state.

In the West, the Zionists have created linkages with prominent politicians/public figures. One of these individuals is Killary who declared she fully opposed BDS in a letter released online, saying it “delegitimizes” the Zionist state, with the letter itself released by a the PR agency of one Haim Saban, a dedicated Zionist (and former IDF member), Clinton partisan, and owner of Univision. [39] Obviously the letter is absurd and Zionist propaganda, claiming there is a “vibrant democracy” in Palestine and other horrible lies, with her slander about BDS easily countered by the BDS movement’s website itself. The letter is not unique, as one of the Clinton emails released show her anti-BDS sentiments relating to the Edinburgh Film Festival giving back money from the Zionist embassy.

These views are not altogether unique. The biblical-historical arguments that Zionism has a basis for a state in Palestine seem weak, basically showing it is racist. [40] For many years, the bourgeoisie loved the idea of Jewish state in Palestine, supported by Oliver Cromwell, advanced by Napoleon, and the Zionist movement gaining more steam by the 1840s with the advocacy for a state in Palestine diverting Jews from the “political struggle of the proletariat.” By 1914, the Germans asked the Turks to help the obtain a “protectorate” in Palestine, but the British were successful in the world war, leading the Balfour Declaration in 1917, as mentioned earlier, which supported a “national home” for Jewish people in Palestine, making the Zionists smile with glee. This was also supported by the U$ Senate and House of Representatives in 1922, and the League of Nations giving Britain a “mandate” in Palestine, coming to force in September 1923. The British had a hard time holding onto the area, not liking the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine  pushed by the Zionist bourgeoisie while they provoked conflicts between the Arabs and Jews, meaning that by 1939 the British had to act like their policy was “pro-Arab,” even though it was that at all, since they needed Arab support in the second World War, with a massive Arab liberation movement forming in Palestine. Meanwhile, the U$ imperialists seemed to support the Zionists but claiming they were “neutral,” with the empire fully backing a Zionist state by 1947, even offering to provide financial aid!

In  years since, the Zionists have been assisted by the British and French imperialists, the Germans, and many other imperialists, apart from the murderous empire.

What should be done?

“Palestinian protesters confront Israeli occupation forces near the Gaza-Israel boundary on 19 January amid ongoing demonstrations over the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” courtesy of Electronic Intifada

ECOWA, in their summary  report, says that  with the “weight of the evidence” showing “beyond a reasonable doubt” that  the Zionist state is “guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people, which amounts to the commission of a crime against humanity” this means that states have a “collective duty…not to recognize an apartheid regime as lawful,” not to aid or assist this state in “maintaining an apartheid regime” and in cooperating with the United Nations or “other States in bringing apartheid regimes to an end.” The full report of ECOWA is even more explicit, endorsing the aims of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement:

This report establishes…that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid…the extreme gravity of the charge requires prompt action…Civil society institutions and individuals also have a moral duty to use the instruments at their disposal to raise awareness of this ongoing criminal enterprise, and to exert pressure on Israel to dismantle apartheid structures…The competent bodies of the United Nations should consider seeking an advisory opinion from the ICJ as to whether the means used by Israel to maintain control over the Palestinian people amount to the crime of apartheid and, if so, what steps should be taken to end that situation promptly…Efforts should be made to broaden support for boycott, divestment and sanctions initiatives among civil society actors…the “country” in which Palestinians are being deprived of rights could be the Palestine that was never allowed to form, and arguably should form.

As good comrades, we should follow their lead. The group, Movement for Black Lives has already done this, saying that “Israel [is] a state that practices systematic discrimination and has maintained a military occupation of Palestine for decades,” arguing that there should be “invest/divestment campaigns that ends US Aid to Israel’s military industrial complex and any government with human rights violations” and fighting the “expanding number of Anti-BDS bills being passed in states around the country” with these these bills  not only harming the “movement to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but is a threat to the constitutional right to free speech and protest.”

Various communist parties in occupied Palestine and the surrounding region have sounded off on Palestinian resistance. The Palestinian People’s Party (PPP) argued that te murderous empire is not a neutral broker, that there could be “escalation of the resistance of the Palestinian people” in days to come, and that there needs to be a “new Palestinian political strategy” with great “importance in strengthening the anti-imperialist secularist line in the Palestinian “resistance”” although there is “a strong influence of the religious movement.” They further said that there needs to be a strengthened “role of the Palestinian left, to unify its political vision and activity on the ground, [and] to renounce its differences.” The Palestinian Communist Party (PCP) argued that the U$ illegitimate recognition of Jerusalem as the “capital” of the apartheid state “calls for the unity of all Palestinian factions to confront this new aggression and gives the incentive to escalate the resistance, all forms of resistance in the face of occupation,” adding that the PLO is an “organization that lost its revolutionary character after it renounced the provisions of the Palestinian National Charter” and what is needed to to “restructure the Palestine Liberation Organization on a revolutionary national democratic basis” with support for the PLO “after its restructuring.” Then there’s the Communist Party of Israel (CPI) which argues that the murderous empire has no right to claim Jerusalem is “the capital of Israel” in a “first rank colonial, imperial decision.” They add to this that the decision undermines “all possibilities for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” making the decision “no less dangerous than the Balfour Declaration exactly 100 years ago.” The CPI also says that now the way is opened “for the Palestinian national forces to play their national and liberating role by confronting this decision,” saying that there needs to be “an international conference to resolve the Palestinian issue, which will impose its will on the Israeli side and to rid the Palestinian people of suffering and oppression,” and noting that “Israeli society is still subject to the influence of radical Zionist ideology and embraces the entire religious narrative with regard to Jerusalem.” After noting that the CPI and the PPP issued a joint statement condemning the U$ decision, they said that Netanyahu has been part of a “campaign of racial and fascist incitement against the Palestinian Arab national minority…and the enactment of racist laws that promote the phenomena of fascism in Israeli society.” They added to this that the CPI seeks to “deepen and develop the struggle to hasten the overthrow of this government” while pushing for the end of “occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state within the borders of June 4th with East Jerusalem as its capital alongside the State of Israel with West Jerusalem as its capital.”

With 16 million communist farmers in India joining the BDS effort, we should join this  effort, along with holding an anti-Zionist line like Albert Einstein. Furthermore, however, the apartheid nature of the Zionist state, giving it the name of the murderous Zionist apartheid state, is part of its being. Zionism and apartheid will need to be eliminated totally and completely in order to make a more peaceful region. With this, a revoltion seems to be needed to put in place a government in the region which respects the rights of the dispossessed rather than the right-wing settlers in the West Bank and those of Jewish descent within “Israel proper” over the rights of everyone else. The aid from imperialists has to end, of course, and there should be a push from those in the imperial core against such aid and Zionist influence without question. All in all, those across the world should stand with the oppressed Palestinians and the other minorities at the bottom of the racist hierarchy in the Zionist state as a whole.

Notes

[1] Raphael Ahren, “South Africa levels apartheid charge at Israel, drawing seething response,” Times of Israel, Jan 25, 2018.

[2] Michia Moncho, “LETTER: The last apartheid state,” BusinessDay, Feb 1, 2018; Debbie Mankowitz, “LETTER: Do not compare Israel with apartheid SA,” BusinessDay, Feb 2, 2018; Middle East Monitor, “Opposition party: Israel measures in Palestinian territories ‘apartheid’,” Feb 1, 2018; “Desmond Tutu asks U.S. Christians to recognize Israel as apartheid state,” Israel and Stuff, Jun 17, 2014; Jimmy Carter, “Don’t Give Up on Mideast Peace,” New York Times, April 12, 2012. Late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 1999, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2007, Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, and retired retired South African ambassador to Israel Ismail Coovadia all said that Israel was an apartheid state as well.

[3] As ECOWA puts it in their report, calling Zionist Israel an apartheid state is not anti-Semitic, with the “the question of whether the State of Israel is constituted as an apartheid regime springs from the same body of international human rights law and principles that rejects anti-Semitism: that is, the prohibition of racial discrimination.” They further write that it would be “not to present the evidence and legal arguments regarding whether Israel has established an apartheid regime that oppresses the Palestinian people as a whole.” Furthermore, they add that the Zionist state is “bound by its obligations to end a crime of apartheid if authoritative findings determine that its practices and policies constitute such a criminal regime,”  notes that the  term of apartheid has “universal application in international law and is accordingly not confined to the South African case” and concludes that ending the apartheid regime would not “constitute destruction of the State itself.”
[4] “Report lifts veil on trafficking, prostitution of Palestinian women,” CNN, Dec 11, 2009.

[5] Azadeh Shahshahani and Audrey Bomse, “Resisting injustice: Hunger strikes in US and Palestine,” Al Jazeera (opinion), Jun 28, 2017.

[6] Gary Willig, “UN report: Widespread child abuse in Palestinian Authority,” Israeli National News, Sept 13, 2017.

[7] Suheir Azzouni, “Palestine: Palestinian Authority and Israeli-Occupied Territories,” Freedom House, a report which is a “chapter in Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance, ed. Sanja Kelly and Julia Breslin (New York, NY: Freedom House; Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010),” accessed February 3, 2018. The report says Azzouni is a “Palestinian expert on gender and human rights.”

[8] In August 2015, the OHCHR was told by Bedouins that there were “night raids, the use of police dogs, and the ensuing psychological impact on them” with women, during these operations “subjected to humiliating treatment in the presence of their families.” The OHCHR team also said  that “continued exploitation of natural resources in the occupied territories in clear violation of international humanitarian law” and talked about other matters affecting the Palestinian people.

[9] Human Rights Watch, “Separate and Unequal: Israel’s Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Dec 19, 2010.

[10] Suheir Azzouni, “Palestine: Palestinian Authority and Israeli-Occupied Territories,” Freedom House, a report which is a “chapter in Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance, ed. Sanja Kelly and Julia Breslin (New York, NY: Freedom House; Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010),” accessed February 3, 2018. The report says Azzouni is a “Palestinian expert on gender and human rights.” According to some searches, she seems to be in favor of Palestinian rights, even writing an article in Mondoweiss! Interesting she would write for Freedom House though.

[11] Jeffrey Goldberg, “An American General Warns the Israeli Right,” Bloomberg, Jul 25, 2013.

[12] Human Rights Watch, “Separate and Unequal: Israel’s Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Dec 19, 2010.

[13] Saree Makdisi, “Does the term ‘apartheid’ fit Israel? Of course it does,” LA Times, May 18, 2014. She is described as a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA, and the author of “Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.”

[14] Richard Cohen, “A fight for Israel’s existence,” Washington Post (opinion), Jul 21, 2014.

[15] Peter Beaumont, “Israel risks becoming apartheid state if peace talks fail, says John Kerry,” The Guardian, Apr 28, 2014.

[16] Chaim Levinson, “Israel Introduces ‘Palestinian Only’ Bus Lines, Following Complaints From Jewish Settlers,” Haaretz, March 3, 2013.

[17] “West Bank and Gaza,” Investment Climate Statement, June 29, 2017, U.S. Department of State Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, accessed February 3, 2018.

[18] Robert Tait, “Israeli settlements using Palestinian child labour, report says,” The Telegraph, Apr 13, 2015.

[19] “Ripe for Abuse,” Human Rights Watch, Apr 13, 2015, accessed February 3, 2015. Also see the summary of the report at “Israel: Settlement Agriculture Harms Palestinian Children” published the same day.  Their suggestions for the occupying Zionists are prohibiting “all settlers from employing Palestinian children,” imposing penalties “employers or contractors who illegally employ children,” lifting “unlawful restrictions on Palestinians in occupied territory,” dismantling the “civilian settlements in the occupied West Bank.” For the EU they say that all “settlement agricultural products” should not be eligible for preferential tariff treatment, and that “European importers” should “cease imports of settlement agricultural products.” For the U$, they say that “settlement agricultural products” should be excluded from the free trade agreement with the Zionists, and that US importers should “cease imports of settlement agricultural products.” For Palestine, they say that there should be “enforcement of laws on children’s free and compulsory education and prohibitions on child labor in areas where there is Palestinian jurisdiction,” membership in the ILO, and pressing “foreign governments to cease imports of settlement agricultural products.” Finally they say that all Businesses Active in Israeli Settlements should “cease activities in the Israeli settlement agricultural sector.” While these changes would be welcome, they are almost cosmetic, as they basically infer that the Zionists will stay as the occupying force, with all of these changes still leaving the oppressive system in place.

[20] Medea Benjamin, “I am American, Jewish and banned from Israel for my activism,” The Guardian, Jan 15, 2018; Asad Rehman, “Israel’s BDS blacklist is straight out of apartheid. The UK can’t condone it,” The Guardian, Jan 8, 2018; Peter Beaumont, “Israel imposes travel ban on 20 foreign NGOs over boycott movement,” The Guardian, Jan 7, 2018; Noa Landau, “Israel Publishes BDS Blacklist: These Are the 20 Groups Whose Members Will Be Denied Entry,” Haaretz, Jan 7, 2018. In November of last year, “Israel denied entry to a US employee of Amnesty International as part of its anti-boycott offensive under the same rules” but “Amnesty is not on the list of 20 groups published on Sunday” interestingly enough.

[21] Some Zionists in Forward and Tablet Magazine  claim that “the idea that Zionism is synonymous with racism is actually rooted in Soviet Cold War tactics” citing some book by a former deputy chief of the Romanian intelligence service, Lt. Gen. Ion Pacepa, as a “source.” This does not recognize that opposition of Zionism was due to the policies of the apartheid state, nothing more, nothing less.

[22] Ray Fillar, “Why I am an anti-Zionist Jew,” OpenDemocracy, Apr 26, 2016.

[23] Howard Zinn,  Terrorism and War (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002), p 26.

[24] Daniel Yergin, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), p 61.

[25] Ibid, p 396

[26] Ibid; Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), p. 414.

[27] Yergin, The Prize, pp 425-426.

[28] Ibid, p 426. There were debates within Truman’s cabinet about the recognition of Israel, with some saying that if there was a plan to “win Jewish votes, it failed” with it seeming that Truman advisers exaggerated “the importance of the “Jewish vote,” in their efforts to convince Truman to recognize the apartheid state.

[29] Ibid.

[30] F. Robinson, The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Islamic World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,  2009, reprint), pp 105-106; Geoffrey Barraclough, The Times Concise Atlas of World History (London: Times Books Limited,  1982), p 141.

[31]  A. Kober, Israel’s Wars of Attrition: Attrition Challenges to Democratic States (New York: Routledge, 2009), p 55; U Eilam, Eilam’s Arc: How Israel Became a Military Technology Powerhouse (Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press, 2011), p 27; Z. Ganin, An Uneasy Relationship: American Jewish Leadership And Israel, 1948–1957 (Syracuse University Press, 2005), p 191; A. Shlaim, The Iron Wall (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991), p 91; B. Morris, Israel’s Border Wars, 1949–1956: Arab Infiltration, Israeli Retaliation and the Countdown to the Suez War (New York: Oxford University Press,  1993), pp 258-259.

[32] Yergin, The Prize, pp 554, 555-558.

[33] Ibid, pp 602-603, 607, 608-609, 663-665; Robinson, The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Islamic World, pp 113-119. Some, like former Israeli official Avner Cohen,  Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post and sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein claim that the Zionists originally created Hamas, but it isn’t worth going down that road.

[34] Chris Hedges, Death of the Liberal Class (New York: Nation Books, 2010), pp 148, 149-156.

[35] Z. Sardar and M.W. Davies, Why Do People Hate America? (New York: The Disinformation Company, 2002), pp 5-6, 47-48, 51; Cornel West, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (New York: Penguin Books, 2004), p 116, 117, 118-119; William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Monroe: Common Courage Press, 2000), p 30.

[36] Sardar and Davies, Why Do People Hate America?, p 203.

[37] Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (Second ed., New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2004), p xi, 3; Zinn, Terrorism and War, p 13; Michael Scheuer (originally “Anonymous“), Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (Washington, D.C.: Brassley’s Inc., 2004), pp 134, 135, 227, 229-230, 257.

[38] Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (New York: Nation Books, 2010), p 142;  Hedges, Death of the Liberal Class, p 28; Johnson, Blowback, pp 13, 66, 123;  Helen Caldicott, The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s military-industrial-complex (New York: New Press, 2002), p xxxi, 44, 157, 158; Kevin Philips, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich (New York: Broadway Books, 2002), p 269; Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (New York: Picador, 2007), pp 541-543, 547-8, 550, 551, 552, 555, 556, 557, 558.

[39] Annie Karni, “In letter, Clinton condemns Israel boycott movement,” Politico, Jun 6, 2015; “Hillary Clinton Condemns BDS in Letter to Haim Saban,” Forward, Jul 6, 2015; Barak David, “Clinton ‘Alarmed’ Over Calls for Israel Boycott, Urges Bi-partisan Action,” Haaretz, Jul 6, 2015; Scott McConnell, “Hillary’s Sheldon Adelson,” The America Conservative, Nov 12, 2014; Eddie Scary, “Univision owner: ‘When Hillary Clinton is president…’,” Washington Examiner, Apr 17, 2015; Connie Bruck, “The Influencer,” The New Yorker, May 10, 2010; Hadas Gold and Marc Caputo, “Inside the Univision-Clinton network,” Politico, May 12, 2015; “Hollywood, hedge fund heavies giving to Clinton super PAC,” AP, July 2, 2015; “Lawmaker Is Said to Have Agreed to Aid Lobbyists,” New York Times, April 20, 2009; “Schlepping to Moguldom,” New York Times, September 5, 2004.

[40] Galina Nikitina’s 1973 Soviet work, The State of Israel: A Historical, Economic, and Political Study” notes that there is no clear data on Hebrew tribes before their settlement in Palestine, adding that by 135 C.E. Hebrew people lost all ties with Palestine, with Arab groups in the region intermarrying with other Arabic people.

“Kill your idols”: Chelsea Manning and the reactionary “left”

Quotes by Chelsea E. Manning (pictured above) from a recent Washington Post article by Jenna Portnoy titled “Chelsea Manning: ‘The establishment needs to be challenged.’” Note that she has a necklace which is a hashtag, showing that what she writes on Twitter is part of who she is as a person, and connects to an analysis of her as a popular figure.

In August of last year, Tarzie, a self-declared “queer small a anarchist” who lives in Brooklyn, delivered a biting criticism of Chelsea Manning, the trans female whistleblower, who is the subject of this article. This writer said that they are free to “weigh in at length on Chelsea Manning’s rebirth as a 14-year-old fashion icon and anti-communist.” They further commented that Manning’s stunt which recapitulates “the Cold War “truism” that Nazi Germany = The DDR = The Soviet Union requires an answer,” since this is a common false equivalence, saying that good ‘ole Snowden was saying basically the same thing. Tarzie further wrote that without question Manning and Snowden, along with others, who “liken Lenin to Robert Lee are the most misleading kind of propagandist, regardless of how they see themselves,” further concluding that their motives are not of concern but rather the fact that they are “foisting it on impressionable nitwits in thrall to their celebrity and dissident cred” is disturbing. To counter such notions of anti-communism, Tarzie offered as a disinfectant an “excellent talk from Michael Parenti, which places the failings of communism in historical perspective.”

Saying all of that and recognizing the recent debate over Chelsea Manning and her actions, which will be discussed later in this post, it is worth delving more into Chelsea Manning, the reactionary “left”, which some call the “Celebrity Left,” and related aspects.

Table of contents

  1. The contours of the reactionary “left”
  2. The reactionary nature of Chelsea Manning
  3. Manning and the saga of FitzGibbon Media

 

The contours of the reactionary “left”

In the past, Tarzie has criticized the prominent parts of what he calls the “celebrity left,” or what can be call the reactionary “left.” On this blog, I have used the term to refer to supposed anarchist David Graeber (“Anarchy Dad”), “celebrity left personalities” Shaun King and DerayNoam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald (who claims to hold a “higher truth“), Snowden (who is inherently deceptive and claims to be “adversarial” meaning that he should undoubtedly be criticized), Naomi Klein, and artist Molly Crabapple (her real name is Molly Klein) while implying that the term also refers to bourgeois pacifist David Swanson and Obamabot Ta-Nehisi Coates. However, in none of these did I talk about the contours of reactionary “left” or “celebrity left” as Tarzie prominently calls them. The closest I came to defining the term “celebrity left” was in my article harshly criticizing Naomi Klein’s 273-page-book No Is Not Enough and arguing that she is a brand (all links not from my own blog have been retained):

The book itself, with the title “No Is Not Enough” on an orange background…with praises from Arundhai Roy, Noam Chomsky, Junot Diaz, Michelle Alexander, Cornel West, Bill McKibben, Yanis Varovfakis, Michael Stripe, Keeanga Yamatitta Taylor, Danny Glover, and Eve Ensler. Could there not be a bigger panoply of (mostly) bourgeois progressives, some of whom have their own brands consisting of themselves?…Hence, Klein herself is a brand “in the marketplace” as was alluded to earlier in this article, and is part of a bigger brand: Haymarket Books. Sure, they sell book of “radical” and progressive authors, but they engaging in branding, just like Verso Books…Furthermore, the organization she is part of, 350.org, is branding to the max, which is interesting considering it is not mentioned AT ALL in this book, apart from the dust jacket. The book itself is a product, a commodity to put in more evident terms. How can Klein not recognize she is a brand? The same goes for Matt Taibbi, Edward Snowden, Michelle Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Chris Hedges, to name a few. These members of the “celebrity left,” as some have called it, are not the only brands. Bourgeois progressive media like Truthdig, Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, and the Nation, foundations like the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and non-profits like Public Citizen are all brands.

This begs the question: what is the “celebrity left”? In September 2014, Tarzie defined the Celebrity Left as those who who have an expansive “Twitter following in the tens of thousands and up” or capable of having such a following, and also “getting paid from time to time by mainstream media or larger liberal outlets to write and gab.” He also added that such individuals operate under “different or fewer constraints than the media as a whole,” that the funding sources of these individuals showing that the “presumed border between mainstream and alternative media is largely imagined,” that the higher status of these individuals “permits them a childishly despotic relationship with their critics” which usually takes the “form of sneering anti-radicalism — and the protection of fans…who dole out discipline on their behalf.” Tarzie further said that the latter is why “neoliberal billionaires and right wing media moguls find them worthy investments,” saying that such personalities are “essentially religious figures and so evaluating them becomes an issue of good and bad.” I would add  that such individuals do not  like criticism and dismiss it as silly, distracting, or unfounded, some of whom have been written about by Tarzie. [1] Other possible candidates for this “celebrity left” include Johnetta Elzie, Laurie Penny (not her real name), Sarah Jeong, Sarah Kendzior, Benjamin “Ben” Norton, Medea Benjamin, Bill McKibben, Chris Hedges, and Brittany Packnett.

It is worth investigating “what they actually believe and what they actually do” as one person, as noted earlier, suggested about Manning. These individuals may have some “wide recognition; fame; renown” but only in certain circles, as they are not famous or well-publicized people, as the definition by the fourth edition of the Webster’s New College Dictionary states for the word “celebrity.” As such, it may be detrimental to radical analysis to call them the “celebrity left.” Rather, one can have a broader group, considering them left reactionaries or the reactionary “left.” This person could as easily be applied to established media personalities like Melissa Harris-Perry, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell, Al Gore or Michael Moore as much as Chelsea Manning. This would help put them into context of existing bourgeois politics within the murderous empire, allowing one to criticize the reactionary elements of the “left.” Others can use the term “celebrity left” if they wish, but I think it limits the realm of discussion.

The reactionary nature of Chelsea Manning

A quote from her first column in The Guardian, showing her reformist, anti-revolutionary attitude. This photo is a revised version of the original posted on Manning’s twitter account, which was re-posted from her instagram account, in November of last year.

In late January of this year, /r/communism erupted in a storm with a post titled “i’m sorry for supporting Chelsea Manning.” Within it, the loyal comrade wrote that Manning has “gone full fucking reactionary these past few weeks” and said that he was “at least hoping she could eventually see past anarchism and move towards proper marxism,” saying at the end that “remember, comrades: kill your idols,” the latter used in the title of this article. There was over 40 comments on this thread, with some saying that it shouldn’t surprise people “she turned out to be a liberal” and that they “never thought of her as any different from Snowden or any more “left” than Sanders,” while others said that she is we should be aware of her but “actively seek to move past” as she remains “confined to the ideological trappings of capitalism-imperialism.” Comments ranged from those saying that “why would we (as a sub) support Ms. Manning anyway? She had always been an anarchist, and anti socialist,” that she is “is an inspirational figure, someone who did the right thing” but that “she is by no means a communist revolutionary” as her “announcing a Senate run under the Democrats should show just how liberal her politics are,” and others saying that she is a “big military supporter in spite of being personally aware of the war crimes they do on a regular basis” and that one should “not project revolutionary politics onto your fav celebrities” but rather “investigate what they actually believe and what they actually do.” As an active contributor on /r/communism, I of course commented as well, writing that

…I remember how people thought she was a pacifist, but she said she wasn’t anti-war or even a conscientious objector, but was only a “transparency advocate.” While she seems to be firmly anti-Trump, from a pursuing of her twitter account, she has said she wants ICE and Customs dismantled calling ICE the “gestapo”, supports universal basic income, believes the FISA court should be abolished, opposes police militarization and mass incarceration (I think?), has somewhat anti-authority beliefs and hangs out with other celebrity left as some call them. Lets say all of that is positive and genuine (not sure all those views are). It still doesn’t excuse equating the Nazi gestapo, Soviet nkvd, East German stasi, and ICE as one and the same! They aren’t! Its a bit disorienting to go through her twitter feed to say the least. I say that as a person who supported her throughout. I don’t think she has ever been radical, from what I can remember. This fulfills her self-defined “motivational” role, basically like a celebrity: “My role is to motivate people and remind them that there are ways in which we can defend ourselves”

After this, I said that I would like to know more about universal basic income, and that while Manning claims she “crashed” the party of bigots, but she actually didn’t do this at all, with the black bourgeois figure, DeRay as her “friend.” I also noted that she “believes in “radical anti-authoritarianism” (whatever that means)…doesn’t believe in borders and thinks that “anyone wanting to immigrate to America should be able to”…noted in that recent interview she had.” The response on /r/communism was a change from previous more supportive responses and for good reason!

This presents a number of problems. For one, any dedicated comrade should be horrified at the idea of partying with a bunch of bigots rather than protesting them and/or engaging in other anti-racist actions. It seems illogical to say you are crashing a party when you are schmoozing up with bigots of here, there, and everywhere! To her credit, however, she has been listening to these criticisms, saying in a recent tweet that

its been over a week since ive let everyone who helped me out of prison down, so many of you have helped me thru tough times, i tried too hard to do too much, im sorry im a human being and not a symbol, i have hit rock bottom

This is positive, but her logic that she “tried using my access/privilege to find ways to fight and undermine them” seems flawed. This is part of her response to “intense criticism for attending the A Night for Freedom party at the nightclub FREQ NYC hosted by right wing leader Mike Cernovich” as noted in The Daily Beast, for which she says she is “acting as a double agent, trying infiltrate the alt-right world to gain insight into their plans for rallies, get togethers, and general political strategy” as her connection with “right wing social media leaders began in autumn of last year” as she got more “involved in direct anti-fascist action in the wake of white supremacist-led violence in Charlottesville” by her own account. [1x] The same article says that Manning’s solution was “to use her fame and celebrity to integrate with an admirer who had connections with several alt-right social media personalities.” This included her connection with “Gateway Pundit writer Cassandra Fairbanks” whom she disagreed with, and was invited to go to “Escape the Room with friends” which she agreed with, feeling that she could “use the celebrity and fame I’ve gotten since getting out of prison to gather information and to ultimately find ways in which we who are against the alt-right can undermine the alt-right,”  deciding to double down on “her decision to hunt for information on the alt-right’s dealings.” She later spent an evening in playing Cards Against Humanity at the apartment of Gateway Pundit correspondent Lucian B. Wintrich, with Manning later saying that she learned that these individuals “don’t actually believe the things that they say…they’re opportunists and that they exploit their Twitter followers’ fears.” The Daily Beast then claims that Manning’s plan to establish “relationships with alt-right media figures to gain insight into their plans isn’t as far fetched as it seems at first blush” with Manning apparently using “her celebrity to access the [Manhattan] party to confront the alt- right VIPs on hand by making her presence felt in opposition, even if she wasn’t necessarily planning on making a scene inside before joining the anti-fascist protest assembling outside” with the party headlined “by VICE co-founder Gavin McInnes,” and said that there was “a transphobic rant,” viewing her presence as a protest. This flies in the face of “a photo that have been released this week showing Manning with a relaxed demeanor and smiling, with drink in hand as she conversed with McInnes,” then emerging from there to “join the protesters outside, who by that point had surrounded the entire building.” She talked gto the protest marshall “and relayed several bits of useful of information, including the number of people inside, the general mood, what people inside were talking about, and whether they were planning any after parties.” The Daily Beast concluded that “it’s impossible to really know what was going through Manning’s head as she decided to escalate her relationships with figureheads of the alt-right in order to supposedly gather intelligence on their plans” and that her “decision-making process appears nonsensical to all but the most ardently engaged in the anti-fascist movement and the whole thing has an air of impulsiveness,” leaving supporters confused and betrayed. As she said at the end of the article,

People have every right to be confused and hurt by this. Regardless of good intentions, I leveraged my privilege to gain access to spaces others couldn’t dream of entering safely. I never meant to hurt my supporters. No amount of information on the alt-right is worth losing the trust of my supporters.

I think that she made the wrong decision to enter the party. It may have had some short-term benefit, but ultimately it was worthless.

Then there’s her decision to run for office. Since she had NO established platform yet, other than what she has said on twitter, this isn’t worth discussing for more than a sentence, except to say that it shows that she doesn’t really care about the masses of people, whom the Democrats don’t really serve at all. As Ralph Nader said, in Omidyar’s plaything called The Intercept, of all places, the Democratic Party has been in decline since the 1970s, due to poor decisions and other factors:

…I’m going to give you millstones around the Democratic Party neck that are milestones. The first big one was in 1979. Tony Coelho, who was a congressman from California, and who ran the House Democratic Campaign treasure chest, convinced the Democrats that they should bid for corporate money, corporate PACs, that they could raise a lot of money. Why leave it up to Republicans and simply rely on the dwindling labor union base for money, when you had a huge honeypot in the corporate area? And they did. And I could see the difference almost immediately. First of all, they lost the election to Reagan. And then they started getting weaker in the Congress. At that time, 1980, some of our big allies were defeated in the so-called Reagan landslide against Carter, we lost Senator [Gaylord] Nelson, Senator [Warren] Magnuson, Senator [Frank] Church. We had more trouble getting congressional hearings investigating corporate malfeasance by the Democrat [congressional committee] chairs. When the Democrats regained the White House [in 1992] you could see the difference in appointments to regulatory agencies, the difficulty in getting them to upgrade health and safety regulations. The second millstone is that they didn’t know how to deal with Reagan. And the Republicans took note. That means a soft tone, smiling … You can say terrible things and do terrible things as long as you have [that] type of presentation…they took the economic issues off the table that used to win again and again in the thirties and forties for the Democrats. The labor issues, the living wage issues, the health insurance issue, pension issues. And that of course was a huge bonanza for the Republican Party because the Republican Party could not contend on economic issues. They contended on racial issues, on bigotry issues, and that’s how they began to take control of the solid Democratic South after the civil rights laws were passed…As a result they drew back geographically, to the east coast, west coast and so on. And that created another millstone: You don’t run a 50-state [presidential] campaign. If you don’t run a 50-state campaign, number one you’re strengthening the opposing party in those states you’ve abandoned, so they can take those states for granted and concentrate on the states that are in the grey area. That was flub number one. When they abandoned the red states, they abandoned five states in the Rocky Mountain area, and started out with a handicap of nine or ten senators…Next millstone, the labor unions began getting weak, weak in numbers and weak in leadership. They began shelling out huge money to the Democrats for television. And as they became weaker they lost their grassroots mobilization on behalf of the Democrats. The Democrats began the process of message preceding policy. No — policy precedes message…The last millstone is, they make sure by harassing progressive third parties that the third party never pushes them. I’m an expert on that. They try to get them off the ballot…Unfortunately, to put it in one phrase, the Democrats are unable to defend the United States of America from the most vicious, ignorant, corporate-indentured, militaristic, anti-union, anti-consumer, anti-environment, anti-posterity [Republican Party] in history.

Then we get to Manning’s endorsement, on twitter, of Universal Basic Income (UBI) which calls for a discussion of the concept itself.

Since the 1980s, the idea of UBI has been circulating in “left-of-centere” political circles in countries such as Finland, with the idea it would “combat the economic and social consequences of falling industrial employment by freeing all” to make “meaningful contributions to society” but it is also appealing to the right-wing that sees it as “a possible way to a leaner, less bureaucratic welfare system.” [1a] As such, some say it is an “answer” to automation and some claim end “poverty with a stroke.” The idea’s conception is vague, but it seems to be that it means that the “government would pay every adult citizen a salary, regardless of wealth, employment income or if they worked at all” with the theory that this would solve “a host of endemic economic problems, from poverty to chronic joblessness, that are only likely to worsen in the coming century,” along with disruptions from technology, with this idea dating back years in Western political thought. [2] It is well-rooted enough that the Nixon Administration studied the idea in the later 1960s, unsuccessfully trying to “get a basic-income benefit through Congress” and is backed by Silicon Valley mavens Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidyar, and Bill Gates along with others like Andrew Stern (formerly of the SEIU), and Charles Murray of the AEI (American Enterprise Institute), to name a few. However, critics say it is just a way to starve the existing government programs, especially those that boost “universal child care or free college tuition” with most critics, and even some proponents, saying that the “the costs would be absurdly prohibitive in any case.” Specifically, Robert Greenstein of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says “a check of $10,000 to each of 300 million Americans would cost more than $3 trillion a year” while Lawrence “Larry” H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary, said that “paying a $5,000 universal basic income to the 250 million nonpoor Americans would cost about $1.25 trillion a year.” [3] Even with this, there are ongoing experiments in Finland, Kenya, Scotland, Canada, the Netherlands, India, and Italy of UBI, with the one in Finland being a short two year program only targeting the unemployed, and implemented by a “centre-right, austerity-focused government interested primarily in spending less on social security” along with bringing down the unemployment rate. [4]

There are a host of problems with UBI, claimed to be utopian. For one, it could sap the “desire to work” and it “divorces assistance from need” along with not being  politically resilient as some might think. [5] It may attract those across the political spectrum, including horrid libertarian economists F.A. Hayek & Milton Friedman, former Democratic candidate George McGovern, Stephen Hawking, Bernie Sanders, Andrew McDowell, political scientist Charles Murray, CATO Institute peoples, the Brookings Institution, the IMF, and others with a bourgeois viewpoint along with interest across the world, with a global network of support. Even Killary Clinton thought that it was a great idea, thinking about it during the 2016 presidential campaign. However, its supposedly “radically simple” approach does not “liberate” people in a capitalist society, from their jobs or give them more “bargaining power,” and be “revolutionary” as some proponents seem to think it will since a good number of those who support it, especially on the right-wing, want to eliminate all social programs, an excuse to “get rid of the welfare state” especially if those in power are hostile toward social services programs which serve the proletariat. [6] Some proponents are even unsure about is success, saying that “it could fail disastrously, or it could change everything for the better,” since we don’t know what would happen if it is implemented, a worrisome thought to say the least. Also, terms like “universal” and “basic” are not defined, likely leading to discrimination by those implementing the program to exclude “bad” people, as they claim it is “universal.” [7]

Sure, you can say there is a “patchwork benefits system” in the murderous empire, for example, but UBI’s universalism is a trap in and of itself, with failures in all the “four major negative income tax experiments” within the murderous empire held from the 1960s to the 1980s. It is further problematic that UBI may be, as some proponents say, is about embracing automation despite its effects on the proletariat which would benefit the capitalist class! Some proponents go out and declare that UBI is about making sure “the market is working as efficiently and effectively” by giving everyone, supposedly, “the minimum amount of voice with which to speak in the marketplace for basic goods and services,” an improvement on capitalist democracy, and others noting that it would allow the proletariat to become petty bourgeoisie. [8] However, the claims it will “even the playing field” in capitalism is magical thinking. You can’t regulate away exploitation. You can only do that through determined effort and struggle by the masses, not some law passed by stogy legislators. Of course some capitalists oppose the concept of UBI as would be “too expensive” or expands government too much, but there are also others who support it. A major problem is that there is no unified thought on UBI with some thinking that all payroll and income taxes should be replaced with “a 25% flat tax on income regardless of source,” benefiting the bourgeoisie (as they would be paying less tax and the proletariat would be paying more!), while others want higher taxes on the bourgeoisie and elimination of certain subsidies. [9] The libertarian proponents of UBI probably hint at the obvious results of the program: “free markets” would be reinforced, welfare programs limited, supporting the exploitative relationship of capitalists over workers, and reducing “bureaucracy.” All of these effects, in existing capitalist society, would hurt the proletariat. Regardless of what the proponents claim, UBI would support the bourgeoisie plain and simple, bankrupting a society (or societies) allowing the bourgeoisie to take even more control than they already have. Even Jacobin, the magazine for butt-hurt social democrats, argued that “UBI isn’t an alternative to neoliberalism, but an ideological capitulation to it” because the most “viable forms of basic income would universalize precarious labor and extend the sphere of the market.” [10] They further added that “if UBI does take shape, current power relations will favor those who have economic power and want to profit by weakening the existing system of social protection and labor market regulations.” That should be enough to reject the program all together. After all, while having a capitalist society and operating as part of the capitalist system, exploitation will always be there, even if you think you have “tamed” it.

In sum, Manning’s support of UBI shows she is standing with the bourgeoisie with a “trendy” political position, and not supporting the proletariat, yet another aspect of her horrid reactionary politics.

Manning and the saga of FitzGibbon Media

This video still comes right after Trevor FitzGibbon of the PR firm, FitzGibbon Media, declares “we work 24/7…to get our clients injected into the national and international news cycle, online through social media, pack a punch to make sure that clients, who are the real heroes here, are going to break through.” It also quotes the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Elyse Hogue, as praising the firm as an “extension of her campaign team.” The Executive Director of Color of Change says the same thing. This firm, as noted later in this section, has ties to Chelsea Manning herself.

Disturbingly, these views and attending a party of bigots is the least of the problems with the company she keeps. Her popularity is part due to her connection with the collapsed PR form, FitzGibbon Media (FGM). It is worth remembering what happened considering that some created crowdfunding for former FitzGibbon employees, and others  said that it “can be tough out here for women in the workplace.” [11] It is worth recalling that the form worked with clients like the ACLU, MoveON, Rock the Vote, Chelsea Manning Legal Defense Fund, WikiLeaks, Purpose, Credo, The Nation Institute, “Flood Wall Street“led by their client Energy Action Coalition,to name a few. The organization also opposed “Stand Your Ground” laws, assisted SumOfUs in “fighting” against Bank of America apparently, and demanding, hypocritically due to FitzGibbon’s predatory behavior, pushed for the passage of a new and improved Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and called out the Nature Conservancy for working with paper manufacturers (before FGM was formed).

FGM, having the same abbreviation as female genital mutilation, shutdown after various female employees, such as journalist Sierra Pedraja, Rachel Tardiff of a Democratic Party partisan organization (Media Matters), Heather Parker, “Mary,” “Beth,” “Tracey,” and “Karen,” among others, noted that Trevor FitzGibbon, former communications director for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, had engaged in sexual harassment and assault (including groping) toward them, even inviting people to his hotel room and requesting photos of some. [12] He also treated male staffers with an “overgrown frat boy demeanor” and angrily dismissed the accusations, declaring in sexist terms that “being accused of rape was actually worse than being raped,” defending his role as a “calculating predator who knew exactly how to exploit his power.” He did something similar at his former PR firm, Fenton Communications.

With employees apparently caught off guard when management said the firm was closing soon, due to the fact that they could not work under the leadership of a sexual harasser like him, staffers received no bonuses or severance, while some former clients said they were willing to “work with the company’s former employees.”Still, the “activist Left was shocked in December by the collapse of progressive communications consulting firm Fitzgibbon Media” as one article put it. This was indicated by those at The Nation engaging in hand-wringing about the disintegration of “one of the country’s most powerful PR firms on the left…[with] FitzGibbon Media is unique in [that]…the employees banded together and decided to speak out,” while Jamil Smith in the horrid New Republic declaring that “yes, you can be a liberal and a sexual abuser…[progressives] need to stop believing that liberalism elevates us over the possibility of being sexist.”

Of course FitzGibbon calling the accusations of sexual harassment “a distraction to the mission at hand” and defending his pervy behavior. Former staffers responded to this, saying the following on the tumblr of one “Ginny Simmons,” who was   the VP of the firm:

The team that comprised FitzGibbon Media is incredibly sad and disappointed to confirm that allegations have been made against Trevor FitzGibbon, FitzGibbon Media founder and President, for sexual assault and harassment of multiple female staffers. Staffers reported over a half dozen incidents of sexual harassment and at least two involving sexual assault committed by Trevor FitzGibbon against his own employees. For decades, Trevor presented himself as a champion of the progressive movement, claiming to support and respect women and feminist issues, from equal pay to reproductive rights, but his actions prove a hypocrisy so great that FitzGibbon Media closed its doors today, as we could no longer continue working under his leadership. We lost our jobs standing up for what’s right, to ensure a safe workplace for all — and while we may have been left without jobs, benefits and long-term healthcare, we have our integrity and each other. We are devastated to see our beloved place of work closed at the hands of such a coward and hope to continue working on the social and political issues we love and care so deeply for in the future.

With such accusations, some of FGM’s former clients [13] condemned the actions of FitzGibbon, whose actions were aimed at a total of (at least) thirteen women, 10 who were employees and 3 who were FGM clients. This is made worse by the fact, as PR Daily observed, according to FGM’s former website, “two-thirds of the 30 employees listed are female.” That’s a pretty strong case that FitzGibbon is creep, and definitely more of a creeper than Anakin Skywalker in Episode 2 of the Star Wars series in the way he acted toward Padme. With the end of FBM, which was in the process of expanding to a London office and had a new San Francisco office, with an office in L.A. adding a new employee named Naomi Seligman in 2010, one could say that FGM clients are at least partially responsible in covering up FitzGibbon’s abusive behavior.

Beyond this, the firm, which was described as “astroturf” by Tarzie, fulfilled this reality when Andy Stepanian with FGM spoke on behalf of Bree Newsome, a Black woman who took down the Confederate flag in front of the South Carolinan Statehouse, on June 27, 2015, a connection which Newsome didn’t even acknowledge as the hashtag of “#freebree” spreading across the twitterverse. [14] One article on a PR website, is most illuminating on this subject, noting that the firm

handled publicity for the removal by activists of the Confederate Battle Flag from the South Carolina Statehouse…Bree Newsome, who climbed the flagpole to take down the flag, said her group couldn’t wait any longer for the flag to go. She said, “It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.” The flag’s removal soared to the top of Twitter’s trending topics for most of June 2y…In its piece, CNN credited FitzGibbon Media, which represented Color of Change in the flag action, for reporting the event.

This use of FGM apparently to just “report” the event is troubling as it casts doubt on Newsome’s supposed radicalism. This troubling nature is enhanced by the fact that FGM promoted the event on their Tumblr, even reporting it originally for the first time on the same Tumblr, in a post where Newsome declares that “we removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer. We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.” This association with FGM throws doubt on Newsome herself, at least in my mind. This shows that FGM had a fundamental amount of power in social justice organizations, a number of which claimed to be grassroots. This is confirmed by an article in Style Weekly, noting that”Trevor FitzGibbon…knew for a week that the flag takedown was coming, but the exact time changed when capitol security showed up unexpectedly”with FitzGibbon hiring “the videographer, created the news release, trained people on the ground on how to deliver their message, and juggled the huge volume of media requests and appearances.” [15] Furthermore, the article says that FGM client Color of Change, “helped fund the effort,” with FGM getting “the first call whenever a huge progressive moment is about to happen anywhere in the country” engaging in pro-bono work for “leading organizations and public figures in the progressive world,” with staff sent to Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot  “to assess the situation and work with youth voices, friends of Michael Brown.” The article also said that “FitzGibbon visits Manning occasionally, runs her social media accounts.”

How does Manning connect to FGM? We know that in December 2015, when FitzGibbon was forced out and FGM closed that Manning’s account tweeted that “the crisis at @fitzgibbonmedia is hardly a “distraction.” Dozens of people are hurt, humiliated, and traumatized =( My thoughts are w/ them.” The question remains, who wrote this tweet? Was it Manning or someone else? This may seem to be worthless question. As Tarzie wrote in April 2015, in post titled “Chelsea Manning is not on Twitter. Her PR Agency is,” it was noted that the official story is that “she’s dictating tweets over the phone to a representative.” Tarzie noted that Manning’s agency is FGM, which is an organization which he describes as specializing “in co-opting non-partisan dissent for the Democratic Party.” Tarzie notes that MoveOn is the model for “niche astroturf campaigns for a variety of left-liberal concerns” and that “a number of Fitzgibbon’s larger clients are in the same vein” along with FGM participating in “soft imperialism” with the Ford Foundation and Amnesty International as clients, which makes Manning’s connection weirder considering the relationship between FGM and Manning goes back to 2011 at least. Tarzie also writes that we can “take everything her astroturfing PR Agency tweets on her behalf or publishes under her name, very, very seriously” and that he has “no illusions of unearthing a deep dark secret.” There are also a number of articles in Newsweek, NBC News, and the New York Daily News that show FitzGibbon’s involvement with Manning’s account. [16] Newsweek wrote in April 2015 that Manning created her account “with the help of Fitzgibbon Media, a self-described global, progressive communications firm,” with the account then managed by a FGM employee, while NBC News said that FBM is “handling Manning’s account…posting messages she dictates by phone and telling her about the responses.” An article in the New York Daily News added that “the note [in which Manning said her account was genuine], written on Manning’s personal letterhead, arrived late last week in Trevor Fitzgibbon’s mailbox,” with the message appearing “on her account Thursday.” with Fitzgibbon “one of two people with the keys to the Twitter account.” [17]

On December 18th, after the demise of FGM, “the Sparrow Project,” lead by the former senior director of the firm, Andrew “Andy” Stepanian (as noted on his LinkedIn), said that Manning’s account was discussed and will be “handled.” The same day, a tweet came from Manning’s account announcing that “control of this account has temporarily been transferred to a volunteer associated w/ https://www.chelseamanning.org” (dead link) likely written by Stepanian himself. Even Chuckles or Charlie Davis, an aspiring member [18] of the reactionary “left,” noted FGM’s involvement, writing that

Though owed tens of thousands of dollars, Manning’s lawyers have not stopped working (the fund paid $10,000 toward its bill in March after receiving $10,636 in donations, or $9,412 after bank fees). The shortfall has led Manning herself to appeal for funds on her new Twitter account. Her posts are currently dictated over the phone from military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to an employee of the public relations firm Fitzgibbon Media, according to a handwritten letter from Manning. That firm has been paid by the Chelsea Manning Support Network to promote Manning’s cause.

However, according to a resolute commenter, Mr. Kal Holmann, Glenn Greenwald said that FGM represented the Chelsea Manning Support Network for pro bono (it seems that many organizations were represented by FGM on a pro bono basis) because of the “rightness” of her cause. As I said in my comment, it remains to be seen if we should trust Greenwald’s account over that of Chuckles. Even so, it is undisputed, in both stories, that the Chelsea Manning Support Network was FGM client. Mr. Holmann also argued that while the relationship between Trevor FitzGibbon and Chelsea Manning, “remains of historical interest, it’s hardly pertinent to the left’s current concerns with Chelsea’s behavior.” I tend to disagree, as FGM had a pivotal role as a PR firm in progressive circles.At the present time, Manning likely does not have ties to the creep Trevor FitzGibbon, and neither do the progressives who rightfully left him in the dust when FGM closed down in December 2015. It is possible, however, that Manning has relationships with former FGM employees and may have some doing PR efforts for her, a possibility which isn’t out of the question. Now, back to the main article, my fellow readers.

With such involvement in promoting progressives, it is no surprise that the Venezuelan embassy in DC was given a “PR voice” by FGM, under a six-month contract with Trevor FitzGibbon and Suzanne Gilbert handling “Venezuela work” and reporting to “Maximillen Arvelaiz, charge d’affairs at the embassy” and another firm, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications also working for “Venezuela under a one-year contract worth $420K.” Before the LinkedIn for FGM disappears [19], I think its is important to fully quote what it says so it can be saved for future analysis:

FitzGibbon Media was founded a little over four years ago, uniting a staff of communications and campaign experts to create aggressive strategies that ensure non-profits, foundations, and progressive advocacy organizations break out, break through, and get noticed. FitzGibbon Media makes an impact in the US and abroad every single day. Our expertise and aggressive strategies ensure our clients’ actions, messages, and spokespersons are a dominant force in the news cycle. Our work is second to none.

It tells you that the connection of Manning and FitzGibbon plants her within the “left” reactionaries but also shows she is not only anti-revolutionary but has the company of creeps which is disturbing. FGM, along with George Soros’s Open Society, is willing to pull in progressives for their own motives, like the support for the group, Hands Up United. You could call it a progressive PR firm, but that inherently means that those it helps will not, in any way, be radical.

What happened to Christina C. DiPasquale, Nery Espinosa, Karen Scott, Suzie Gilbert, Yasmina Dardari, Tim Rusch, Al Thomson, Lucia Allain, Michele Setteducato, and Andy Stepanian, who all worked at FGM as of July 2015 (there are others who worked there in 2013, the next time the page was archived, in 2016, it was too late)? Well, Christina DiPasquale became the “founder and CEO of Balestra Media,” leading “strategic communications for progressive clients working on human rights projects.” It should be no surprise that Andy Stepanian is the creative director of Balestra Media (archived here), with the organization’s clients seeming to be some of same that were taken up by FGM:

  • National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) (partnered with other bourgeois “Latino” groups)
  • Global Witness (pushed along with millions of funding from Soros’s Open Society Foundations, with other money coming from the Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish governments, Omidyar Network, and Ford Foundation to name a few)
  • Stand With Congo (receiving support from varying partners, media organizations, and humanitarian imperialists like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International)
  • The Raben Group (a PR firm that works among “the LGBTQ community and communities of color” with philanthropic, corporate, and nonprofit clients. It is also where former FGM employee Nery Espinosa works)
  • Luminant Media (a “production and post-production company based in Venice, California” with a site that never loads)
  • AccessNow (a group which “defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world,” a mission which is complicated by their funding from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Cisco, to name a few)
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America (a group in favor of reproductive rights with millions of dollars of assets)
  • Chelsea Manning Legal Defense Fund (now defunct)
  • ACLU (A so-called “guardian of liberty…defend[ing] and preserv[ing]…the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States” but also sides with White supremacists and is incredibly liberal, not standing by radicals. It is funded by the Ford Foundation, Pierre and Pam Omidyar, and many other groups)
  • Fight for the Future ( a group that says it is fighting to “ensure that the web continues to hold freedom of expression and creativity at its core” but is funded by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, other foundations, and varying other funders)
  • Free Press (an organization which says it “fights for your rights to connect and communicate” but is funded by the Ford Foundation, and a host of others. Michele Setteducato, former FGM director of media relations, seemed to work for Free Press at least up to 2016 but not at the present)
  • University of New Hampshire Casey School for Public Policy (a school supported by the Ford Foundation, and Goldman Sachs, to name a few)
  • International Rescue Committee (IRC) (a group which says it “responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.” It is funded by Pfizer, General Electric, Google.org, Ford Foundation, Citi Foundation, Chevron, Tides Foundation, and Microsoft to name a few)
  • EducationCities (a “national nonprofit network of 31 city-based organizations in 24 cities working to significantly increase the number of great public schools across the country” which is funded by the Gates Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation, among others)
  • Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) (a group which works with and educates “immigrants, community organizations, and the legal sector to continue to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people,” and is funded by some law firms and numerous other individuals)
  • Youth First Initiative (opposes juvenile incarceration, and has Andy Stepanian of The Sparrow Project as the head of creative direction for the organization. Those who fund this organization are not known)
  • Restoration Legal Arts (a “retreat, learning and action community for artists and ministers who are creating resources within today’s movements of liberation.” It has only two staff, a small board of directors, and two advising theologians. It is not known who funds this non-profit)

It seems evident that Global Witness, Stand With Congo, AccessNow, NARAL Pro-Choice America, ACLU, Fight for the Future, NHMC, Free Press, IRC, EducationCities, ILRC, and Youth First Initiative are not grassroots. They are all, basically astroturf. Others, like the Raben Group, Luminant Media, and University of New Hampshire Casey School for Public Policy have ties to bourgeois groups and corporate funders, but that is all that is known. Restoration Legal Arts may be tied to such groups as well. Chelsea Manning Legal Defense Fund/Chelsea Manning Support Network may have been grassroots originally but it received money from Glenn Greenwald, First Look Media (the overarching organization of Omidyar’s The Intercept which is a horrid place to work by all accounts), and Courage to Resist at least.

We know where Andy Stepanian, went, as noted earlier, but what about the others? It is not known what happened to Karen Scott, former Vice President of the Artist Action Team at FGM, and Al Thomson. For others, something is known. Tim Rusch, Senior Vice President & NYC office Co-Director seemed to work for the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United at one point (and before FGM, Demos). Suzie Gilbert who was in FGM’s London office seems to have stayed progressive and is still on Twitter. Yasmina Dardari, a FGM strategist, is seemingly working for Unbendable Media, after graduating from Columbia University. Lucia Allain, a “Dreamer” and immigration activist, is a blogger and National Media Coordinator for Movimento Cosecha.

This shows that the former FGM people are everywhere. So, be careful, comrades! Perhaps some of the former FGM employees can redeem themselves, but a good amount of them still stayed in PR-like work.

The  Company Manning Keeps

It is worth briefly discussing the company that Manning keeps. Lets start with Glenn Greenwald.

While I think that I don’t even think writing a post criticizing Glenn Greenwald is worth my while, a criticism is warranted. Back in 2010, when the Supreme Court decided in favor of corporations with the Citizens United decision, Greenwald supported the decision. As even Noam Chomsky said in an interview with Truthout, “…there are some civil libertarians like Glenn Greenwald who more or less supported it on free speech grounds. I don’t agree with it, but I can see the argument.” Specifically in an article in Salon titled “What the Supreme Court got right: It’s best for the government to stay out of the business of restricting political advocacy” Greenwald said that while he was “deeply ambivalent about the court’s ruling,” he claimed that “the Government is barred from restricting speech — especially political speech — no matter the good results that would result from the restrictions. That’s the price we pay for having the liberty of free speech” which he accepted as the norm, adding that “free speech rights burdened by campaign finance laws are often significantly under-stated” while further saying he understands and sympathizes “with the argument that corporations are creatures of the state and should not enjoy the same rights as individuals,” ringing his hands over these speech restrictions.Even if we agree that such restrictions are worthless, that doesn’t mean we should applaud this decision. In fact, we should condemn it.

This opinion connects with Greenwald’s support for a Supreme Court decision that overturned a law banning videos showing kittens being crushed to death for sexual satisfaction, with Randy Shields saying in response that

the inspiration for this piece was a tweet of Salon’s Glenn Greenwald where he defended the court’s decision. Screw you, Glenn Greenwald, and your lofty liberal white bread apologetics, which don’t mean shit in the real world of “crush” videos and capitalism.

Greenwald’s view is not surprising since he has gone to conferences of the CATO Institute and Socialism conferences, as noted on his twitter. Even Socialist Worker (a Trotskyist site) writer Kolponashokti-r Doinyo was critical of Greenwald standing beside two conservatives and not challenging them [20], writing that

… Glenn Greenwald took part in a college speaking tour sponsored by the Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF) and Young Americans for Liberty (a mouthpiece for Republican presidential contender Ron Paul) in early February…At the tour stop at Ohio State University in Columbus, the speakers talked at length about the infamous federal law called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and the evils of the state having the power to detain citizens (and non-citizens) without the due process…All three panelists shared the belief that there are certain core principles which citizens should fight for irrespective of their professed political and ideological beliefs…Additionally, while words like “empire” and “imperialism” were thrown around to describe the U.S., there was no connection made between U.S. imperialism and the economics of capitalism. WHILE GREENWALD’S critique of Barack Obama for undermining civil liberties was correct, his decision to choose a platform provided by right-wing libertarians should be a matter of concern to people on the left. At the forum, he never raised any points of political difference that he might have with the libertarians, giving the impression that civil liberties issues trump all other political and social questions. In fact, he went so far as to say that the only person challenging the narrow political spectrum of the two-party system currently is Ron Paul, effectively showing support for him before the Republican primaries…For someone like Greenwald to speak on a platform provided by a right-wing libertarian organization connected to Ron Paul–and to speak highly of Paul without even hinting at political differences–while solely concentrating on the question of civil liberties does not reflect the political perspicacity that followers of his blog at Salon.com might expect.

Then there’s Chris Floyd who notes that Greenwald fits in with Ominyar’s reformism,   unlike Douglas Valentine who once said he’d give Greenwald and others a “free pass” for working with capitalist Omidyar, arguing that

Omidyar, who founded eBay and now owns PayPal, has recently become widely known — and universally lauded — for committing $250 million to fund First Look, a publishing group dedicated to adversarial journalism. He has assembled an all-star team for his venture, including Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Jeremy Scahill, Marcy Wheeler and others of similar reputation. It is no exaggeration to say that he has become a bonafide hero of the left, which has tended to dismiss all criticism or questioning of his new enterprise, or his wider operations, as the grumbling of jealous losers — or even as covert actions of the State, trying to derail this dangerous new threat to elite rule…Indeed, even Greenwald calls only for “reforms” of the system, for “real oversight” of the National Security State by legislators — the same legislators bought, sold, cowed and dominated by Big Money. I honestly don’t think that the powers-that-be feel threatened by an enterprise set up by one of their number that confines itself to calls for “reform” from “within”…Omidyar’s goals are limited: to protect the privacy of the individual from government. This is a noble, worthy aim. But based on his own actions, he is perfectly content for that privacy-protected individual to advance a punishing neo-liberal agenda on the rest of the world, and at home, in collusion with the National Security State if need be. Whether Greenwald, Scahill, Taibbi, Wheeler and the rest are equally content with this agenda is something we will find out in the months to come.

There are other critiques as well, like those that criticize him for misstating the charges against Chelsea Manning, and Israel Shamir’s articles (see here and here) about The Guardian, Snowden, and him getting to Moscow.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Freedom of the Press Foundation which recently waged a campaign against Wikileaks and claiming that funding still flows when it really doesn’t.  As Trevor Timm, of the foundation declared, at the last board meeting in October 2017,

…a consensus arose that we could not find any evidence of an ongoing blockade involving PayPal, Visa, or Mastercard. We decided we would therefore formally notify WikiLeaks that unless they could demonstrate that a blockade was still in effect, we would no longer provide a mechanism for people to donate to them.

Of course, Micah Lee, of the organization is saying that Wikileaks is lying (and has an “army of twitter trolls“), and trying to say Assange is anti-semetic.  As MintPress noted, the board of the organization voted “stop accepting U.S. donations for WikiLeaks,” claiming that “the financial blockade by the major payment processors is no longer in effect” and will not process any further payments to Wikileaks, as noted by the Washington Times. While Wikileaks is clearly libertarian in willing to hire that horrid Google engineer, they are right that the foundation was “substantially taken over by US oligarch Pierre Omidyar (Paypal/Ebay) cash and influence,” which once agreed with Wikileaks that there was a financial blockade! As one Wikileaks supporter put it, the answer for ending such donations lies “a man named Pierre Odiymar who is known for founding the site Ebay and for his board position at PayPal, and also created the Intercept news organization,” further writing that

…Up until a few months ago, the Intercept’s funding was public which showed financial resources coming from Pierre Omidyar’s NASDAQ securities. Removing this, is simply a publicity stunt in order that Omidyar can distance himself from the Intercept and appear to have no influence on its journalists…The only reason for dropping support of Wikileaks is purely political in nature and may very well be instrumented by the Clintons themselves…Recently, Micah F Lee has slandered the editor of Wikileaks on Twitter and is currently trying to smear his reputation. This also is included in the “Wikileaks Threat”…The biggest critics in 2010 of the Wikileaks bank blockade are now funded by none other than Pierre himself as seen in the chart below. This is an obvious attempt to silence the critics that are against his Wikileaks agenda…Needless to say, this dropping of funds by FPF should make patrons stronger in their support of this persecuted institute that has never been wrong in 11 years.

It seems that to some extent, Wikileaks has come around to the view of Tarzie, tweeting out one of his articles earlier this year.

Notes

[1] Articles/posts by Tarzie: Greenwald on Chomsky and Staying In the Mainstream Without Compromise, Citizenfour’s Astonishing Revelation: Greenwald is a “useless” “careerist” “boob”, Greenwald’s Free Speech Absolutism and Twitter’s Foley Ban, Do Glenn Greenwald And His Fans Really Care More Than You?, Greenwald’s Fireworks Finale Postponed, Sy Hersh is an Intel Asset and Therefore No Gary Webb, Snowden Lays an Egg, a Statue Grows in Brooklyn and Manning Wins a Round, and Cornel West’s Impermissible Opinions. Bill McKibben, a primer environmental activist who is part of the former FGM client, 350.org, promotes the New York Times on a regular basis. More importantly, 350.org celebrating that the New York Times featured the march on their front cover with a cover story, despite some saying the Times’s coverage was “pitiful.” This is laughable considering, looking at the Times’s own stats, their readers are “educated, affluent and influential” with over 85% with a college degree, and readers earning more than $75,000, with a median net worth of over $156,000. Hence, those that read the Times aren’t normal people, but are those that are affluent. That’s who their protests are supposedly reaching but likely not challenging in a fundamental way.

[1a] Jon Henley, “Money for nothing: is Finland’s universal basic income trial too good to be true?,” The Guardian, Jan 12, 2018, writing for “the inequality project,” a part of the Guardian supported by the Ford Foundation; Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Dylan Matthews, “A basic income really could end poverty forever,” Vox, Jun 17, 2017.

[2] Matt Vella, “Universal Basic Income: A Utopian Idea Whose Time May Finally Have Arrived,” Time, April 13, 2017; Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Chris Weller, “Mark Zuckerberg doubles down on universal basic income after a trip to Alaska,” Business Insider, Jul 5, 2017; Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), “History of basic income,” accessed February 2, 2018; Issie Lapowsky, “Free Money: The Surprising Effects of a Basic Income Supplied by Government,” Wired, Nov 15, 2017.

[3] Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017.

[4] Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017; Jon Henley, “Money for nothing: is Finland’s universal basic income trial too good to be true?,” The Guardian, Jan 12, 2018, writing for “the inequality project,” a part of the Guardian supported by the Ford Foundation; Aditya Chakrabortty, “A basic income for everyone? Yes, Finland shows it really can work,” The Guardian, Oct 31, 2017. UBI was rejected in Switzerland by voters.

[5] Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017; Eduardo Porter, “A Universal Basic Income Is a Poor Tool to Fight Poverty,” New York Times, May 31, 2016; Michelle Chen, “Could a Universal Basic Income Work in the US?,” The Nation, August 15, 2017; Christine Emba, “Universal basic income,” Washington Post opinion, September 28, 2015; Andrew Flowers, “What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?,” Five Thirty Eight, Apr 25, 2016; Aditya Chakrabortty, “A basic income for everyone? Yes, Finland shows it really can work,” The Guardian, Oct 31, 2017; Ellie Mae O’Hagan, “Love the idea of a universal basic income? Be careful what you wish for,” The Guardian, Jun 23, 2017; Scott Santens, “Why Should We Support the Idea of Universal Basic Income?,” HuffPost, Jun 26, 2015; Frances Coppola, “The IMF Gives A Cautious Welcome To Universal Basic Income,” Forbes, Oct 15, 2017.

[6] Lauren Thomas, “Universal basic income debate sharpens as observers grasp for solutions to inequality,” CNBC, Mar 25, 2017; Andrew Flowers, “What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?,” Five Thirty Eight, Apr 25, 2016; Ellie Mae O’Hagan, “Love the idea of a universal basic income? Be careful what you wish for,” The Guardian, Jun 23, 2017.

[7] Yuval Noah Harari, “Universal Basic Income Is Neither Universal Nor Basic,” Bloomberg View, Jun 4, 2017.

[8] Scott Santens, “Why Should We Support the Idea of Universal Basic Income?,” HuffPost, Jun 26, 2015; Sebastian Johnson, senior associate with Freedman Consulting, LLC, “The case for a universal basic income,” LA Times Opinion, Jun 29, 2017; Keri Leight Merritt, “Why We Need a Universal Basic Income,” Common Dreams, Sept 17, 2017.

[9] “The Growing Need for a Universal Basic Income,” Universal Basic Income, accessed Feb 2, 2018; David Z. Morris, “Universal Basic Income Could Grow the U.S. Economy by an Extra 12.5%,” Fortune, Sept 3, 2017; Matt Oraflea, “Why Milton Friedman Supported a Guaranteed Income (5 Reasons),” Medium, Dec 11, 2015; Robert Reich, “Why We’ll Need a Universal Basic Income,” Sept 29, 2016.

[10] Daniel Zamora, “The Case Against a Basic Income,” Jacobin, Dec 2017.

[11] The tabloid publication the Daily Mail declared that “the head of a major PR firm has shut down his business after ‘an avalanche’ of sexual harassment claims from female workers” and Tom Blumer in the right-leaning Newsbusters declared that here was the “virtually complete lack of establishment press interest in the story…the establishment press did virtually nothing with the story.” Another right-wing publication, the Washington Times, declared laughably that “the Left loves to claim moral superiority over the Right when it comes to women…Perhaps the reason progressives think women in America are so oppressed is that they are treated unfairly in liberal spaces” but correctly that we should “not excuse progressives for bad behavior.” Even Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy weighed in, saying “bad news for Dems indeed as FitzGibbon Media…abruptly shut its doors yesterday…In the past, the firm was criticized for taking money from the Venezuelan government for PR work…How about allowing women at liberal PR firms to carry guns? Sounds like that’s what’s needed, and pronto.” Other sites such as the New York Post, Mashable, Fortune, Variety, Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, RH Reality Check,Feministing, Ad Week, Jezebel, and Al Jazeera America, among others, had their respective articles as well.

[12] Amanda Terkel, Ryan Grim, and Sam Stein, “The Disturbing Story Of Widespread Sexual Assault Allegations At A Major Progressive PR Firm,” HuffPost, Dec 9, 2015;Amanda Terkel, “It Took Just One Woman Breaking Her Silence On Sexual Harassment To Take Down A Top Progressive PR Boss,” HuffPost, Dec 18, 2015; Amanda Terkel, Ryan Grim, and Daniel Marans, “FitzGibbon Media May Be Gone, But Staffers And Progressive Groups Are Rallying To Launch A New Version,” HuffPost, Dec 19, 2015; Emily Crockett, “FitzGibbon Media and the problem of sexual harassment in the progressive movement,” Vox, Dec 21, 2015; Ed Pilkington, “FitzGibbon Media sexual assault claims: alleged victims feared retribution,” The Guardian, Dec 19, 2015; Michelle Goldberg, “The Nice Guy Fallacy,” Slate, Dec 21, 2015; Marisa Kabas, “Alleged sexual assault victims describe working for Trevor FitzGibbon: ‘Every time I saw him, I feared him’,” The Daily Dot, Dec 18, 2015.

[13] The statements of numerous FGM clients were pretty similar, declaring that: “every allegation of sexual misconduct must be given the attention and seriousness it deserves” (AFL-CIO), “we admire the courage of the women who have come forward” about sexual harassment (Moms Rising), we are “shocked and outraged to hear of the alleged sexual misconduct of the President of FitzGibbon Media” (V-Day), “sexual harassment must be taken seriously and it has no place in the progressive movement or anywhere else” (Ultraviolet), “we are distressed and saddened by the alleged misconduct of the FitzGibbon Media president” (NARAL Pro-Choice America), and “we’re shocked and dismayed by the allegations of sexual assault and harassment at FitzGibbon Media” (MoveOn). Even the notoriously pro-Democratic Party joke of an organization, Working Families, said they were “stunned at the allegations of sexual harassment and assault” at FGM and that they “stand firmly with the staff who courageously spoke out.”

[14] Julia Jacobo, “Activist arrested after taking down Confederate Flag at S.C. Capitol grounds,” WPIX, June 27, 2015; CNN Wire, “NC woman climbs pole, takes down Confederate flag outside SC Capitol,” reprinted in Fox 8, Jun 27, 2015.

[15] Brent Baldwin, “The Fire Starter,” Style Weekly, Aug 18, 2015.

[16] NBC News, “Chelsea Manning Joins Twitter From Prison,” Apr 3, 2015; Nicole Hensley, “Whistleblower Chelsea Manning confronts Twitter account naysayers in prison letter,” New York Daily News, Apr 16, 2015;Lauren Walker, “Chelsea Manning, Leaker of Classified Information, Tweets From Prison,” Newsweek, Apr 6, 2015.

[17] Some of the tweets from the account included articles from The New Yorker (likely quoting FitzGibbon), USA Today implying that Snowden was a client of FGM. The latter is indicated by Snowden’s endorsement of DeRay’s proposals, promotion of the “Snowden Treaty” (see here and here) which was conceived, apparently, by Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda. The homepage of the Snowden Treaty shows that some of the “partners” of the Snowden Treaty are the usual suspects, such as Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Laura Poitras, to name a few. This is even more worrisome when the “description” of the Treaty literally describes nothing other than what the Treaty is supposed to do on a website that also almost no substance. It is also important to note that the Treaty was burst out of thin air in September of last year. FitzGibbon also promoted Chris Hedges (along with other clients) congratulated Chris Hayes on an Emmy, trolling about the Black Panthers, which he definitely wouldn’t support if they were around today, a rash of tweets which imply that CEPR, Color of Change, Hands Up United, and the nebulous “people’s climate” march are clients. There is also a connection between the later Michael Rattner of the Center for Constitutional Rights to FitzGibbon, with both promoting the sign “Jesus Loves Wikileaks” which may come from a guy named Sean Anderson or a number of other sources. It is worth mentioning because Rattner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Real News Network. This matters to FitzGibbon because CCR has legally represented/advised Wikileaks in the past, and Wikileaks, as noted earlier, was a FGM client. The FGM tumblr which seems to be taken over by former FGM employees, does note that FGM promoted the Google Impact Challenge, some Kansas juvenile justice organization (Kansans United for Youth Justice), served as a place for Hands Up United to publish a press release, and so on. Other posts are about a farm sanctuary (likely this is related), the black panthers, “blacktwitter,” mic.com, the Youth First Initiative, The Intercept (also see here and here), the “wear orange” campaign (see here and here), Obama, Baltimore United for Change (also see here), presente.org, black spring, White House, Kwame Rose, Nirbhaya (see here, here, and here), Chelsea Manning, and so on. FGM seemed to serve as astroturf, which is, as SourceWatch describes it, “apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.” In days future, it is likely that this will continue under the purview of a new PR organization which serves the purpose as the old FGM. While PR is a staple of the media landscape and social justice circles, perhaps it is time to move beyond organizations and peoples in the PR industry. This means that the existing PR tactics which constitute a form of propaganda, should be critiqued, challenged, and opposed with a form of counter-propaganda which promotes radical anti-capitalist goals to improve American society and global society. It’s worth a try.

[18] Charles (Charlie) Davis or “Chuckles” has many laughable ideas. Take for example a piece on Telesur English‘s website by Chuckles (a Telesur editor) on the “humanitarian crisis” in Yemen as a result of Saudi bombing of the country. He argues that there has been mass destruction with fighting between coalition forces and Houthi rebels “aligned with the country’s former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh” (they are not),” saying that the only solution is the grounding of the “airforce responsible for so much destruction in Yemen by imposing a no-fly zone—and it can and should do so unilaterally.” He further adds that this is needed due to a failed peace process, citing humanitarian imperialist Amnesty International, claims that a “Saudi-led coalition” is bombing Yemen (no, it is U$-led), mocks anti-imperialists (“You Yankee imperialist pig-dog. I knew to what end all this performative ‘caring’ would ultimately lead: ‘Humanitarian’ war crimes on behalf of your Anglo-Zionist paymasters at the World Bank and Major League Soccer, which has been trying to infiltrate the Yemeni market for years”), and calling for U.S. aircraft in Yemen’s skies, but not dropping bombs? He further says there should be “cease-fire, perhaps, by depriving an arson of more firepower,” grounding the “Saudi air force by refusing to restock it with weapons and spare parts,” imposing a ““no-fly zone” unilaterally without even offending the world’s multilateral organizations, saving lives and its own duplicitous face by ceasing to continue what it’s done so far.” While some may think this is ok, it is still a response allowing for anti-imperialism. Yemen should solve its own problems, meaning that the murderous empire should pull all support for Saudi Arabia without a question. With all this, Chuckles was clearly being smug, and it was more silly than anything else, utter nonsense. In some twitter exchanges with him, he claimed he wasn’t calling for a no-fly-zone even though that was part of his silly plan! If this wasn’t enough, Chuckles engaged in Chucklesplaining, which one could describe as a derivative of what some have called “mansplaining.” Beyond this, he is just like Proyect who calls out “Assadists”: he seemed to say that it is absurd that “the U.S. government would conspire to preserve the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad” as proposed by Sy Hersh, who has his own problems, but then said that this is the reality! If this wasn’t enough, he scoffed at the idea of “a U.S-Israeli plot to effect regime change,” claiming that the Obama administration’s “train-and-equip program for rebels was explicitly directed at the Islamic State” not the Syrian government which doesn’t even make sense,claiming that Assad is an “Israeli-preferred fascist” (which also isn’t true), and ringed his hands about “apologism for mass murder.” This is no surprise considering his other deluded views, including but not limited to acting like Wikileaks is in tandem with Putin. This aligns with his anger at Russia, basically calling them “imperialist,” hating those who point out that sanctions on Syria are utterly murderous, believing foolishly in the Russia conspiracy, along with some other absurd opinions (also see here, here, and here), calling Soviet Russia “imperialist,” and saying that the Workers World Party is a “delegation of old crackpot commies” because they back people he doesn’t like (whom he calls “dictators,” in keeping with imperialist propaganda), ending up thinking that the Trotskyists are more reasonable, of course. And this is only a sampling of what he is wrote! Lest us forget that even though there was a Chuckles story about NSA spying in Venezuela, his buddy, Glenn Greenwald, wrote about this in O Globo in 2013! There has been something deeper: work for Russell Brand as even a simple search of the internet confirms. The love of Brand as noted in other tweets was later over. Elsewhere, Chuckles doesn’t even stop to consider that the US government is pushing prosecution and other measures in an attempt to nab Assange, not once. The best refutation of Chuckles’s points is the agreed statement of facts which one twitter user shared in this exchange. There are also a number of things which should also be of note. One of these things is Google plus. However, more important is Chuckles’s LinkedIn (version is archived here) To me, what this shows is that Chuckles has become a mainstay in progressive movements, and easily meshes with liberal propaganda outlets like Salon whose main duty, as it will, it to counter right-wing propaganda outlets. The fact that he worked for places like Vice, FX, Michael Moore, and Change.org without shame is telling. Need I say more?

[19] There are a number of other webpages on Idealist, Foursquare, Vimeo, and Flickr.

[20] Kolponashokti-r Doinyo, “Sharing a platform with right-wingers,” Socialist Worker, Mar 6, 2012.

“Take your Thorazine”: The social democratic nature of Syria

This text comes from Venessa Beeley’s website “The Wall Will Fall.” The image comes from Diana Dayoub’s instagram page, seemingly a photograph of Syria. I say seemingly because in Instagram it does not say where the photo was taken.

In response to my recent post about the Democratic Party within the murderous empire, the so-called Marxist, Louis Proyect, declared in a comment: “Syria as a social democracy? You need to take your Thorazine.” Basically he was acting like I am out of my mind, in that he is implying I have schizophrenia or some other psychotic disorder which is an discriminatory and ableist (and is also untrue) sentiment. This is not surprising because he has a deep-seated hatred for the duly-elected Syrian government, liking the “left” opposition to it, engaging in Orientalist propaganda. I included part of his comment in the title of this article to further poke at this fake Marxist who stands against everything that Marxism stands for. He’s basically a butt-hurt progressive who hates anti-imperialist governments, although he acts like he is radical (which is a lie). Anyway, Proyect was responding to my above linked post which I wrote that while Gowans thinks that Syria is socialist, but I think that, “from my research on the subject, that Syria is socially democratic…and with a vibrant democracy.” In August of last year I expanded on this topic, citing Gowans as a starting point for analysis:

…the US wants to overthrow Syria’s duly-elected government, the government a secular, socially democratic state…Bashar Al-Assad hasn’t integrated the Syrian economy into the “US-superintended economy,” while possessing principles of “Arab socialism,” anti-imperialism, and anti-Zionism…[with] Syria’s support of the Palestinian liberation movement and Hezbollah…since the 1960s the US had tried to undermine Syria…Like Iran, Syria has a national bourgeoisie. Stephen Gowans can say that Syria is a socialist state, saying that they follow the confines of “Arab socialism.” While you could argue, like Gowans that that this is correct, more realistically, the state is socially democratic and secular. Hence, they have a national bourgeoisie. But, they are dedicated to progressive principles (anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist for example) and independence from Western influence. As a result, the Syrian leadership courts the Russian capitalists, along with those of other friendly countries like socialist Cuba, so that they can build their economy…In the case of Syria, unlike Iran, they do not desire normalization with the West at this time but rather seek to build alliances…still, they are affected by competition among capitalists…Iran, Syria, and Russia…each…has a national bourgeoisie.

I further added to this in other posts last year, writing that Bashar Al-Assad, and previous leaders since Syrian independence, were duly elected “by the people of Syria” with the empire scowling “at Syria since the 1960s. Furthermore, I added, in another post, that over 17.1 million are “living in the socially democratic and secular Syrian Arab Republic” with the government led by the “duly elected National Progressive Front (NPF) with its majority in the Syrian’s People’s Council” reaffirmed in elections in April 2016. This post aims to answer a simple question: Is Syria socially democratic and secular or it is socialist?

Table of contents for this article

  1. Defining terms
  2. Gowans argues that Syria is socialist: Is he right?
  3. Further analysis: examining Syria’s economy and its supposed “socialist” nature
  4. Syria, the “good” Kurds, Syrian Communists, and elections
  5. Resistance to imperialism and concluding words
  6. Notes

 

Defining terms

Mao Zedong studying the writings of comrade Josef Stalin in the Yenan base area during the Chinese Revolution as noted on a webpage titled “Marxism-Leninism Study Guide

In order to answer the question of whether Syria is socially democratic or secular, I first turned to the Marxists Internet Archive (MIA). The term “social-democracy” was originally used as an “extension of political democracy to the economic level, the elimination of capitalism and the institution of a broad based workers democracy.” However, with the failure of the  Second International “to rally the international working class” against World War I, “social-democracy split,” and by 1919 most supporters of the Communist International “called themselves “Communists”” with social-democracy becoming “largely synonymous with the pale reformism of these now established socialist parties, such as the German Social-Democrats and the British Labour Party.” As for the term democratic, MIA defines this as “a political system of rule by the majority” but adding that communism works to move beyond the “limited democracy found under capitalism” and the “repressive nature of bourgeois democracy” itself. As such, the idea of “proletarian democracy” was not only representative, but participatory by avoiding the form of democracy where “one class of people decide what should be done, while another class of people do it” with the working class deciding “amongst themselves, by consensus what and how it should be done”with all positions “of authority in Socialist society must be elected solely by workers and subject to recall at any time.” Ultimately this would be the realization of a “proletarian democracy,” a significant step toward the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship which would “yield to the majority of the working people” and be a stead defense against world capitalism. As Lenin described it, in 1919, a

Proletarian dictatorship [or dictatorship of the proletariat] is similar to dictatorship of other classes in that it arises out of the need, as every other dictatorship does, to forcibly suppresses the resistance of the class that is losing its political sway. The fundamental distinction between the dictatorship of the proletariat and a dictatorship of the other classes…consists in the fact that the dictatorship of landowners and bourgeoisie was a forcible suppression of the resistance offered by the vast majority of the population, namely, the working people. In contrast, proletarian dictatorship is a forcible suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, i.e., of an insignificant minority the population, the landlords and capitalists. It follows that proletarian dictatorship must inevitably entail not only a change in the democratic forms and institutions, generally speaking, but precisely such change as provides an unparalleled extension of the actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism—the toiling classes…[giving] the vast majority of the population, greater practical opportunities for enjoying democratic rights and liberties than ever existed before, even approximately, in the best and the most democratic bourgeois republics…it is the people [who]…are now drawn into constant and unfailing, moreover, decisive, participation in the democratic administration of the state…[with] a government of the workers [who are disinterested]…in the means of production being privately owned…the dictatorship of the proletariat [like the Soviet system]…is so organized as to bring the working people close to the machinery of government…[with the] combining the legislative and executive authority under the Soviet organization of the state and…replacing territorial constituencies by production units—the factory…only the proletariat is in a position to unite and lead the scattered and backward sections of the working and exploited population…only the Soviet government of the state can really affect the immediate breakup and total destruction of the old, i.e., bourgeois, bureaucratic and judicial machinery, which has been…retained under capitalism even in the most democratic republics…proletarian, democracy [enlists]…the mass organizations of the working people in constant and unfailing participation in the administration of the state, it immediately begins to prepare the complete withering away of any state…[we need to]…extend the organization of Soviets among the workers in all branches of industry, among the soldiers in the Army and the sailors in the Navy and also among farm laborers and poor peasants

Such a dictatorship of the proletariat, or what you could call proletarian democracy, would be part of an overall socialist system. Of course for the term “socialism” itself MIA has varying definitions, reflecting the debate on this term. There are words of August Bebel quoted in MIA’s definition, but it is better to use to definitions of Lenin and Marx & Engels as they are the principal Marxist theorists. Marx and Engels did not specifically define socialism in the Communist Manifesto but they talk about the “expanding union of the workers” with the need to “centralise the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes” while he also wrote, powerfully, that “what the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” They called for the abolition “of this state of things is called by the bourgeois, abolition of individuality and freedom” with the end of “bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence, and bourgeois freedom,” further noting that such freedom is “free trade, free selling and buying.” Furthermore, it was argued that private property for one-tenth of the population would be abolished, while allowing any person to “appropriate the products of society” but not having the power to “subjugate the labour of others.” This would further mean, they write, that the bourgeois family, where wives are “mere instrument[s] of production,” should be abolished (along with public and private prostitution), and rescue education “from the influence of the ruling class” while abolishing “countries and nationality” and saying that the “first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy” with the proletariat using its “political supremacy to wrest…all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State,” increasing total production as soon as possible. From there, while saying that measures will “be different in different countries,” Marx and Engels proposed “generally applicable” proposals:

  1. abolition of all land rents
  2. abolition of land as property
  3. a “heavy progressive or graduated income tax,”
  4. ending all “rights of inheritance”
  5. confiscating the property of “all emigrants and rebels”
  6. centralizing credit in the “hands of the state” with the creation of a national bank
  7. centralizing communication and transport in the state’s hands
  8. having “instruments of production” and factories owned by the state
  9. while cultivating wastelands and improving the soil
  10. having “equal liability of all to work”
  11. establishment of “industrial armies, especially for agriculture”
  12. combining “agriculture with manufacturing industries”
  13. gradually abolishing the “distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace”
  14. free education of all in public schools
  15. abolishing “children’s factory labour in its present form”
  16. Combining “education with industrial production”

After that, Marx and Engels note that once “class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation” then public power will lose its political character, and that if the proletariat is compelled to make “itself the ruling class” it would sweep away “the old conditions of production…[and] the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally,” abolishing its supremacy as a class. This means, in their words, that in the place of “old bourgeois society” there would be “an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

Beyond this, in the Critique of the Gotha Programme, in 1875, Marx wrote that “between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other” meaning that there is a “political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat” with which he talked about. Lenin was a bit more specific. He wrote in 1917, in chapter 2 of The State and Revolution, that during the period where a society is moving from capitalism to communism, there is unprecedentedly “violent class struggle” with which the state must “democratic in a new way” for those who are propertyless and the proletarian but “dictatorial in a new way” aimed against the bourgeoisie. He further added that such a “dictatorship of a single class is necessary…for the entire historical period which separates capitalism from…communism” and while this transition is bound to lead to “tremendous abundance and variety of political forms” the essence will be the dictatorship of the proletariat. In chapter 5, of the same book, he wrote more about this, saying that

The first phase of communism…cannot yet provide justice and equality [with] differences, and unjust differences…still persist[ing], but the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible because it will be impossible to seize the means of production…and make them private property….the scientific distinction between socialism and communism is clear. What is usually called socialism was termed by Marx the “first”, or lower, phase of communist society. Insofar as the means of production becomes common property, the word “communism” is also applicable here, providing we do not forget that this is not complete communism…[Marx] regards communism as something which develops out of capitalism…In its first phase, or first stage, communism cannot as yet be fully mature economically and entirely free from traditions or vestiges of capitalism…It follows that under communism there remains for a time not only bourgeois law, but even the bourgeois state, without the bourgeoisie!…as soon as equality is achieved for all members of society in relation to ownership of the means of production, that is, equality of labor and wages, humanity will inevitably be confronted with the question of advancing further from formal equality to actual equality…By what stages, by means of what practical measures humanity will proceed to this supreme aim we do not and cannot know…only socialism will be the beginning of a rapid, genuine, truly mass forward movement, embracing first the majority and then the whole of the population, in all spheres of public and private life….Democracy…signifies the formal recognition of equality of citizens, the equal right of all to determine the structure of, and to administer, the state…a degree of democracy implies overstepping the boundaries of bourgeois society and beginning its socialist reorganization. If really all take part in the administration of the state, capitalism cannot retain its hold….it is quite possible, after the overthrow of the capitalists and the bureaucrats, to proceed immediately, overnight, to replace them in the control over production and distribution, in the work of keeping account of labor and products, by the armed workers, by the whole of the armed population…Accounting and control…is needed for the “smooth working”, for the proper functioning, of the first phase of communist society. All citizens are transformed into hired employees of the state, which consists of the armed workers. All citizens becomes employees and workers of a single countrywide state “syndicate”…When the majority of the people begin independently and everywhere to keep such accounts and exercise such control over the capitalists…this control will really become universal, general, and popular…The whole of society will have become a single office and a single factory, with equality of labor and pay…this “factory” discipline…will extend to the whole of society…[a] necessary step for thoroughly cleansing society of all the infamies and abominations of capitalist exploitation…the more complete the democracy, the nearer the moment when it becomes unnecessary…[finally] the door will be thrown wide open for the transition from the first phase of communist society to its higher phase, and with it to the complete withering away of the state.

From this, you could say that Cuba and People’s Korea are in the first stage of communism, working to move forward to improve their existing socialism as they are limited through the continuance of international capitalism, meaning that they cannot be “mature economically and entirely free from traditions or vestiges of capitalism.” This generates the question: what should a socialist state be like within today’s world of global capitalism? Taking what Lenin said, above, to heart, he is arguing that a state would have some “unjust differences” but exploitation of one person by the other would be impossible with the means of production becoming “common property” while equality of “labor and wages” had be striven for, along with the “socialist reorganization” with workers controlling “production and distribution.” Additionally all citizens would become “hired employees of the state” with their control over society being “universal, general, and popular” with society itself becoming a “single office and a single factory” wherein all the “infamies and abominations of capitalist exploitation” will be cleansed away. This is manifested in a dictatorship of the proletariat, as Lenin described it, or proletarian democracy as it is also called, would be suppress “the resistance of the exploiters” with such a state changing democratic institutions and forms but also extending “actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism” to new heights, giving them new “democratic rights and liberties” and decisive participation in the state’s administration itself while the old machinery of bourgeois, bureaucratic, and judicial character will be broken to pieces. Marx and Engels were arguing something similar, but partially different. He said that communism’s end goal is the abolition of bourgeois independence, bourgeois individuality, bourgeois freedom (free trade, free buying and selling), private property for the one-tenth of the population, the bourgeois family, countries, and nationalities. Such socialist states, as you could call them, were envisioned by Marx and Engels, would abolish land as property, all land rents, the “distinction between town and country” over time, child factory labor, and all inheritance rights. More positively, such a state would have a heavy progressive income tax, confiscate property of rebels and emigrants, have free education for all children in public schools, centralize credit in the state with a national bank, centralize communication, transport, factories, and other “instruments of production” while establishing “industrial armies” especially in agriculture, combine manufacturing and agriculture along with industrial production and education. They also called for “equal liability of all to work,” improving the soil, and cultivating wastelands. This is a lot to take in, but is worth discussing if this applies to Syria (and ultimately other countries) or not.

Gowan argues that Syria is socialist: Is he right?

This map comes from page 148 of a Library of Congress report on Syria which is discussed later in this article.

Time and time again, Stephen Gowans, a leftist writer I profoundly respect (unlike that horrid individual, Louis Proyect), has said that the Syrian Arab Republic is socialist. In April of last year he wrote that the country had followed, since the 1960s, “an Arab socialist development path which is at odds with the global free enterprise project advanced by Washington on behalf of its Wall Street patron,” saying that the latter wants to “sweep away the Arab socialist impediments to the free enterprise, free trade, and free market capitalist nirvana.” Elsewhere he called Syria “pro-independence, secular, non-sectarian, [and] socialist-oriented,” citing a study by the Library of Congress along with statements by the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation to support his intention that the country is socialist, in a long line of other countries. In other articles, Gowans writes that Syria has “a parliament” and is “anti-colonial and anti-imperialist” with parts of the state “remain committed to socialist goals.” Other than this, he argues that since Syria is governed by those who call themselves socialist, saying that the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party advocates for socialism, presiding over “the drafting of Syria’s constitutions, which mandate government ownership of the commanding heights of the economy and a significant role for government in the guidance of the economy” which he says is “socialism.” He adds that those in the West have “long complained about Damascus’s refusal to fully integrate into a US-led global neo-liberal economic order.” In an older post he admits, however that Afiz Assad, when he came to power in 1970, “tried to overcome the Sunni opposition by encouraging private enterprise and weakening the party’s commitment to socialism, and by opening space for Islam.” In the same post he writes that “Syria remains too much like the socialist state the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party founders envisaged for it, and too little like a platform for increasing the profits of overseas banks, investors and corporations” even as he says that “Ba’athists continue to obstinately hold on to elements of the party’s socialist program.” He also says that the Arab nationalists, “in power since 1963” represent “socialism, Arab nationalism, anti-imperialism, and anti-Zionism.” Back in 2014, Gowans wrote that Syria is a state founded “on anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, Arab nationalism, and non-Marxist socialism” the latter being worrisome to say the least. However, in 2012, he wrote that Hafez Assad “minimized class warfare in favor of broadening his government’s base, trying to win over merchants, artisans, business people, and other opponents of the regime’s nationalizations and socialist measures,” calling the government a “secular Arab nationalist regime” instead of a socialist one. Gowans said that his personal “politics incline more to the left than the Ba’th could comfortably accommodate,” adding that the “Syrian state has been far more progressive than regressive.” As such, it seems that he only began to call Syria “socialist” in more recent years.  In October 2016 he made his most cogent argument that Syria was a “socialist” state, specifically an “Arab socialist” state, a definition which problematically divorces socialism and Marxism!:

Socialism can be defined in many ways, but if it is defined as public-ownership of the commanding heights of the economy accompanied by economic planning, then Syria under its 1973 and 2012 constitutions clearly meets the definition of socialism. However, the Syrian Arab Republic had never been a working-class socialist state, of the category Marxists would recognize. It was, instead, an Arab socialist state inspired by the goal of achieving Arab political independence and overcoming the legacy of the Arab nation’s underdevelopment…Marxist socialism concerned itself with the struggle between an exploiting owning class and exploited working class, while Arab socialism addressed the struggle between exploiting and exploited nations….Socialism was against the profit-making interests of US industrial and financial capital…The Ba’athist state had exercised considerable influence over the Syrian economy…The Ba’athists regarded these measures as necessary economic tools of a post-colonial state trying to wrest its economic life from the grips of former colonial powers…Washington…[wanted Syria to] serve the interests of the bankers and major investors who truly mattered in the United States, by opening Syrian labor to exploitation and Syria’s land and natural resources to foreign ownership…the Syrian government would not make Syrians work for the interests of Western banks, corporations, and investors…Assad underscored his allegiance to socialist values…[while] the constitution committed the state to progressive taxation…If Assad was a neo-liberal, he certainly was one of the world’s oddest devotees of the ideology.

His idea of “Arab Socialism” differs, in his mind, from what he has previously described as “social democracy.” He says that while “social democratic parties may self-consciously aim to represent the bottom 99 percent of society, they serve…the top one percent” and adds that the “party’s candidates and elected officials…are often willing to sacrifice principle for immediate electoral gain,” adding that “social democratic parties are dominated by a stratum whose direct personal interests are defined by the electoral successes of the party.” He further writes that “social democrats believe that it is possible to reform society in egalitarian directions within the context of capitalism…[and] working within the political institutions of capitalist society.” He ended by saying that while “social democratic parties espoused socialism as an objective, even if a very distant one, the socialism they espoused was to be achieved with the permission of capital on capital’s terms,” different from Soviet socialism, Cuban socialism, Korean socialism, East German socialism, or the ideas espoused by socialist figures like comrades Kim Il Sung, Mao Zedong, Josef Stalin, and Vladimir Lenin, which he has written about in the past.

To take his own words, he admits that Syria has never “been a working-class socialist state” but says it embodies “Arab socialism.” The question remains from this: is “Arab socialism” really a socialist program, if we define socialism as Marx & Engels and Lenin viewed it, as noted earlier in this article? Those on /r/communism, for example, argue that Arab socialism is inherently a bourgeois ideology, more of social democracy than real socialism, even as they played a somewhat progressive role in the Arab World. More specifically, Arab socialism is about nationalization (as Nasser did), and engaging in “state-sponsored economic development” which occurred in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria, with a consensus, as noted by Oxford Reference, that the “most urgent national needs were independence and economic development,” adding that there were “land reforms” while the “banking, insurance, foreign trade, large industries, and large private and foreign-owned companies were all nationalized.” Additionally, such economic programs was “accompanied by expansion in social, welfare, health, and educational services.”

From this, we come back to social democracy once again. If we accept, as I believe we should and will argue further in the next section, that Syria is not a socialist state on Marxist terms, it is worth returning to what social democracy is after all. One writer, Bela Kun wrote in 1932 that social democracy says that “peaceful reformist work…would assure evolution into socialism” with the latter becoming “the cause of one class, of the working class” but collaboration of many classes, with Marxism serving as a source for slogans but no longer guide the ruling party’s policy. This writer further adds that there is a “defence of capitalist rationalisation” and the opposite of  “Marxian trade-union theory and practice” for example, supporting a “bourgeois dictatorship.” This is not the same as “revolutionary Social Democracy” embodied by the Bolsheviks which includes reforms, but also the policy of parties who work to engage in revolution to bring about proletarian democracy. Rather social democrats are “conductors of bourgeois influence” as Lenin described it, allying with bourgeois forces, focusing on nationalization, definitely not advocating for the “confiscation of all landed estates” which Lenin wrote about in 1911. These social democrats stand for democracy in the “name of capitalism,” the opposite of what the Bolsheviks did. Stalin further added that social democracy is characterized by “reformism and [an] anti-revolutionary character” with those of that ideology arguing that “the proletariat had to strive for was a peaceful path of transition from capitalism to socialism” with the time between capitalism and socialism when “capitalism will flourish and the proletariat languish in misery.”

Still, this does not fully define social democracy as a concept. Of course there are cookie-cutter definitions, as you could call them, from bourgeois dictionaries like Merriam-Webster calling it a movement which advocates for a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means” or a democratic “welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices,” and Encyclopaedia Britannica declaring that it is a “political ideology that originally advocated a peaceful evolutionary transition of society from capitalism to socialism using established political processes” becoming more moderate throughout the 20th century. The same can be said of dictionary.com which declared that social democracy is a “political ideology advocating a gradual transition to socialism or a modified form of socialism by and under democratic political processes” and Wikiquote saying it is a “political ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote socialism within a democratic framework and a policy regime involving welfare state provisions,” among much more. The London-based social democrat publisher, Social Europe, attempted to define it as well, writing that “social-democracy is well known as a pragmatic political tendency…[with a] reputation…as a force for progressive change” even as they note that many social democrats talk about good capitalism and accept neoliberal dogma. They add poignantly that “social-democrats have always been reformists. Social-democracy is not about overthrowing existing structures in some kind of violent act of revolution,” further saying that “markets…need to be kept in their place,” meaning that capitalism should be regulated, and not removed.

From this, and what has been said previously, one can surmise that social democracy aims to reform society within capitalism with “peaceful reformist work,” is a bourgeois ideology connected to nationalization and social welfare programs, opposes Marxian theory at its core, stands for democracy in the “name of capitalism,” and is anti-revolutionary, advocating for a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism, with markets still firmly in place. However, there is more to it than this. Any reforms based on social democracy itself is “bound to fail” since it does not address “capital and its accumulation to the few at the expense of the many.” Additionally, as Minqi Li writes in the Monthly Review, “social democratic capitalism” from the 1950s to 1973 “helped to alleviate the class conflicts and maintain a relatively high level of aggregate demand” bu that “inherent contradictions of capitalism” continued to develop, as institutions within such capitalism created new “conditions that increasingly undermined worldwide accumulation” while the balance of power “between capital and labor, and between the core and the periphery” led to a “worldwide decline of profitability.” Li adds that establishment of  “social democratic capitalism could not take place without at least a partial political victory of the working classes” while noting that “in a capitalist world economy with nation states, the competition between different capitalist states will prevent them from taking full account of environmental costs” meaning that social democratic capitalism will become “an “alternative” way towards global ecological catastrophe.” That isn’t good for anyone! Add to this that the so-called “Nordic system” which is lauded by supporters for “free and effective healthcare, education, transportation, and cleanliness” they are actually “rife with problems, and do not feature an ideal socio-economic system.” They additionally cannot “completely rid itself of socially conservative beliefs” until there is a ” full socio-economic transformation that involves the abolition of private ownership of the means of production, the central characteristic of capitalism.” That has not happened in Scandinavia and likely will not in the years to go. Even a Stalin-hating individual said that social democracy has “no ability to move in any direction” and wrote that “so-called state capitalism, all terminological quibbles aside, presented mankind with a glimpse of its potential, but could not escape the logic inherent in the accumulation of value.” Beyond this, super-profits taken from “the export of capital” allows for a “greater measure of social democracy at the centres of global capitalism”while capitalists “do not care as a class for social democratic reforms because these reforms get in the way of profit” with such reforms existing “because of working-class struggle and not because capitalists wanted to play nice.” Furthermore, social democracy is permitted because it was “forced into existence by concrete struggle and thus needed to be recognized” and the loss of “surplus [which] could be circumvented through the export of capital and super-exploitation elsewhere.

While the summation of social democracy and other aspects help define it in rough terms, what Stalin wrote in 1926 is helpful in defining it more fully. He wrote that (bolding is my emphasis), talking about ideological principles within the communist party and social-democratic parties:

Some might think that the Russians are excessively pugnacious, that they love debating and multiply differences, and that it is because of this that the development of their Party proceeds through the overcoming of inner Party contradictions. That is not true, comrades. It is not a matter of pugnacity, but of the existence of disagreements based on principle, which arise in the course of the Party’s development, in the course of the class struggle of the proletariat. The fact of the matter is that contradictions can be overcome only by means of a struggle for definite principles, for definite aims of the struggle, for definite methods of waging the struggle leading to the desired aim. One can, and should, agree to any compromise with dissenters in the Party on questions of current policy, on questions of a purely practical nature. But if these questions are connected with disagreements based on principle, no compromise, no “middle” line can save the situation. There can be no “middle” line in questions of principle. Either one set of principles or another must be made the basis of the Party’s work. A “middle” line in matters of principle is the “line” of stuffing people’s heads with rubbish, of glossing over disagreements, a “line” leading to the ideological degeneration of the Party, to the ideological death of the Party. How do the Social-Democratic parties of the West exist and develop nowadays? Have they inner-party contradictions, disagreements based on principle? Of course, they have. Do they disclose these contradictions and try to over come them honestly and openly in sight of the mass of the party membership? No, of course not. It is the practice of the Social-Democrats to cover up and conceal these contradictions and disagreements. It is the practice of the Social-Democrats to turn their conferences and congresses into an empty parade of ostensible well-being, assiduously covering up and slurring over internal disagreements. But nothing can come of this except stuffing people’s heads with rubbish and the ideological impoverishment of the party. This is one of the reasons for the decline of West-European Social-Democracy, which was once revolutionary, and is now reformist. We, however, cannot live and develop in that way, comrades. The policy of a “middle” line in matters of principle is not our policy. The policy of a “middle” line in matters of principle is the policy of decaying and degenerating parties. Such a policy cannot but lead to the conversion of the party into an empty bureaucratic apparatus, running idle and divorced from the masses of the workers. That path is not our path.

With all of this, one can define social democracy as a phenomenon primarily concentrated in the West which aims to reform capitalist society peacefully, using nationalization and social welfare programs as part of a peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism with markets firmly in place, and being thoroughly anti-revolutionary by not engaging in a  necessary socio-economic transformation in society, with any reforms at all only possible through struggles of the proletariat. Furthermore, using the words of Stalin quoted above, one could add that social democracy does not have unification on matters of principle which leads to party to become an “empty bureaucratic apparatus” which is “divorced from the masses of workers.” Additionally, you could add, social democracy isn’t one bit about class struggle against the bourgeoisie!

With this, we can proceed to the next section of this article.

Further analysis: examining Syria’s economy and its supposed “socialist” nature

A map on page 134 of a Library of Congress report on Syria, discussed later in this section, showing that much of the country is arid.

Before moving onto the two sources which underpinned Gowans analysis that Syria is socialist, I looked at some other sources. Everyone seems to acknowledge the government has a strong hand in the economy which some call “state-capitalist” and others call “socialist,” possibly in their intentions, with some saying that the government engaged in neoliberal reforms in the 1990s and suppressed ” independent working-class organisation” while those more supportive say that the government of Syria is actively anti-imperialist, pro-Palestinian, and should not be demonized. [1] Other sources seem to also agree that the state has a strong role in the economy. Some said that “Syria’s economy is essentially state-run, although it has remained partly private, as for example the retail trade businesses” with certain privatizations starting in 2000,private banking legalized in 2001, and “centralised and restrictive government control” leading to low “productivity” in the minds of capitalists, with others saying that the economy was diverse before the imperialist assault on Syria began, with the country, in 2013, “home to 11 private banks, three Islamic banks, and seven foreign banks.” [2] With such an assault, the country has become “lower middle income” and devastated by the state of war as forces tried to tear the country apart, as millions are displaced. A war economy was put in place after 2012, using the “hard currency reserves” of the Central Bank of Syria and allowing traders to run their own affairs and protect their own facilities, along with other arrangements, the government revived “state supermarkets” (started in the 1960s) and rolled back the “modest economic liberalization [which] began in 2005,” in attempt to “ease economic hardship for the poor and contain social unrest” along with not removing government petroleum and electricity subsidies, which Reuters called “socialist economic policies.” Such moves by the government echoed the  “nationalization measures of the 1960s” [3] under the Amin al-Hafiz (Syria’s first Ba’ath Party ruler) in Syria, which were followed by “a major industrial development program stressing heavy industry” in the 1970s. There is no doubt that before the assault, starting in 2011, “Syria’s economy was based on oil production, agriculture, industry and tourism,” where “many industries” were subsidized (even as of 2006), the former which was seemingly strengthened as the government attempts to restore order in the country. As Al Bawaba remarked in 2000, the Syrian “government still keeps intact many policies that protect home-grown industries at the expense of attracting foreign investment” such as “high tariffs and numerous import restrictions and limited access to capital for those in the private sector.”

The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), part of the UN, wrote, within a 2003 publication titled “Syrian agriculture at the crossroads,” that the Syrian government in the 1970s re-defined “socialism” to mean increased industrial employment, role of the public sector, and “activation of the private sector, ” which was changed by the 1980s and 1990s to “state-led export promotion,” even putting forward some “structural adjustment” attempts at the time, aligning with those who said that the economy is “predominantly state-controlled” at the present. They added that

The economy of the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) is currently under transition from one that has been largely centrally planned to one that is more liberal. The general objectives of policy have been and will remain the achievement of a sustainable level of economic abundance, social welfare, and equity…The economy is still characterized by a large but stagnant public sector, and a resilient but constrained private sector, a cumbersome regulatory regime, continuation of many state controls, and a complicated trade and exchange rate system…The financial system is dominated by public enterprises and serves primarily the public sector. Hence, one of the key requirements for private sector growth, namely the existence of financial services for the private sector, is largely missing in Syria. The current government strategy is favourable to the private sector, and to export promotion, but with the continued presence of a strong public sector.

Beyond this, the Heritage Foundation said in their page on Syria that “civil war has left Syria’s economy in ruins” with economic policy used to maintain the capacity of the Syrian military, adding with anger that Bashar Al-Assad “failed to deliver on promises to open the socialist economy,” that “functioning labor markets are…subject to heavy state interference and control” and that “despite the war, a number of foreign banks are in operation” with the Islamic banking group called Al Baraka becoming “the largest privately owned bank in the country” in 2016. [4] Similar comments to FAO’s assessment were made on the current page for Syria on the CIA World Factbook, declaring that before the current conflict, “Damascus had begun liberalizing economic policies” but that “the economy remains highly regulated” with “foreign trade barriers” for example. Anger at sch regulation has manifested in Syria being “on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list’s inception in 1979” while the murderous empire has called for the removal of Assad despite the fact that Syria is a member of the IMF and World Bank along with being an observer to the World Trade Organization (WTO)!

Unlike Zimbabwe (which the IMF is giddy over as the counter-revolution continues), the last IMF “Article IV Executive Board Consultation” for Syria was back in January 2009, but it is worth excerpting from their reports in previous years:

“The Syrian authorities have been implementing gradual, but wide-ranging reforms. These reforms are motivated by the challenges posed by the decline in oil production and the strategy initiated in the early 2000s to transition toward a social market economy. The exchange rate has been effectively unified and restrictions on access to foreign exchange for current transactions appear to have been mostly eliminated. Private banks are now leading financial sector growth, and the Damascus stock exchange recently re-opened after being closed for 40 years…Some progress has been made in advancing structural reforms, including simplifying investment procedures, modernizing accounting standards, and streamlining the tax system…the authorities fully liberalized bank lending rates and rates on foreign currency deposits and loans. The share of private banks has grown considerably since they were first established in 2004…Directors recommended that the authorities reverse the recent introduction of customs duties that vary by country of origin, and address suspected unfair trade practices by other measures such as enhancing customs’ capacity to examine invoices through computerization and cross border cooperation.”- March 2010

“Relations with the EU have improved recently following the establishment of diplomatic relations with Lebanon. Subsequently, France, which currently chairs the EU, issued positive signals regarding the ratification of the association agreement with Syria…Private banks are well capitalized…The financial system is still dominated by state banks, which hold 80 percent of bank assets…advances have been made in trade liberalization by substantially reducing the tariff schedule. The export of strategic agricultural products, however, remains subject to government approval…The Syrian economy has enjoyed buoyant growth since it embarked on a liberalization program aimed at unleashing the economy’s growth potential and integrating into the world economy.”- February 2009

“Private investment has strengthened, reflecting an improved business climate, and exports have made strong gains, particularly in some Arab markets, reflecting higher demand and improved access under the Great[er] Arab Free Trade Area…Following the opening of the first three private banks in 2004, four more banks entered the market in the last two years, and several more banks are expected to start operations in 2007, including some Islamic financial institutions…Progress toward exchange rate unification and current account convertibility, investment facilitation under a more liberal investment regime, tax reform, trade and financial liberalization, and the on-going development of appropriate regulatory frameworks in key sectors have all contributed to improving the investment climate…The authorities did not exclude the possibility of raising civil servants wages, particularly in light of the start of the PPS reform…The development of a competitive banking sector is constrained by the slow progress in state banks’ restructuring…Further efforts on trade liberalization and improving the business climate are key elements of the authorities’ reform agenda…further financial liberalization are necessary to close the reform-gap with other countries in the region and position Syria to take advantage of regional and global integration…Directors commended the authorities for the sustained, timely and significant fiscal adjustment and welcomed the lowering of corporate income taxes.”- August 2007

“The authorities were encouraged to see that the implementation of their broad-based reforms elicited a positive supply response. In their view, Syrian and other Arab investors felt that a point of no return in reform has been reached. Furthermore, they welcomed strong interest from domestic and foreign investors toward the newly opened banking and insurance sectors…The authorities’ strategy to develop the financial sector by opening it to private initiative was successful in attracting and expanding private banking activities…Trade liberalization, market deregulation, and improving the business climate are key elements of the authorities’ reform agenda…The exchange system in Syria is characterized by multiple exchange rates and a foreign exchange market segmented into public and private sector pools. The private sector has almost no access to the official pool…[the directors say that] A bulge in labor market entrants will strain an already precarious unemployment situation and increase pressure to protect redundant labor in an overstaffed public sector…More broadly, Directors encouraged the authorities to press ahead with reforms aimed at scaling down the state’s involvement in the economy, improving governance, and fostering private-sector growth.”- August 2006

“The growth acceleration in the early 1990s had reflected rising oil production and an upsurge in private sector investment prompted by fiscal incentives and reforms to start the transition to a market economy…Fund policy recommendations were supportive of the authorities’ reform agenda aimed at furthering the transition to a market economy…prices have been largely liberalized, the trade and foreign exchange regimes have been simplified and liberalized, the tax system has been streamlined, and the private sector’s field of activity has been broadened…In particular, opening the insurance sector for private initiative is an important sign of the
commitment of the authorities to promoting the role of the private sector in the economy…Directors encouraged the authorities to envisage the privatization of selected enterprises.”- October 2005

This seems to say, obviously, that Syria has engaged in socially democratic measures as it earnestly went forward with “liberalization” of their economy while government control and nationalist measures were maintained to the annoyance of the IMF. As a recent article in Worker’s World, on the events in Tunisia, pointed out, the IMF “only gives loans with draconian conditions. The most common are cutbacks of social programs and raising taxes to cut budget deficits — in other words, harsh austerity.” It seems that the latter did not happen in Syria, but the government was moving toward a “market economy” until the direct imperial assault began in 2011, the so-called “civil war,” with some government control returning. Still, some measures of “liberalization” remained such as private banks some of which are concentrated on the Damascus Securities Exchange (DSE) along with other capitalist ventures. The companies on this exchange include:

There are many others whose sites were only in Arabic, and not English. Basically, these companies on the stock exchange are capitalists, and hence part of what you could call, accurately, an Arab bourgeoisie, some consisting bourgeoisie specific to the Arab Republic of Syria itself. If “nothing symbolizes capitalism like the New York Stock Exchange,” as one Forbes writer noted, then why can’t the same be said about the Damascus Securities Exchange? As Frederich Engels wrote in 1895, reviewing Marx’s work in Capital, “the position of the stock exchange in capitalist production” since the stock exchange “as it develops, tends to concentrate all production, industrial as well as agricultural, and all commerce…so that the stock exchange becomes the most prominent representative of capitalist production itself.” Of course, the DSE can’t completely represent this as it was launched in 2009, nine years ago, and only 23 companies are currently on the exchange which is minuscule compared to “more than 12,000 traded products” of the Intercontinental Exchange, commonly called the New York Stock Exchange, or the 1,124 companies listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Then there’s the Library of Congress country study which Gowans uses to say that Syria is socialist which was published in 1988. This goes beyond the claim that the economy of Syria is socialist, but it is worth summarizing within this section of the article. The study explains the history of Syria from its earliest days to 1987, when most of the research was done. In September 1961, there was a coup where Syria seceded from the United Arab Republic (UAR) which was meant to unite Egypt (then under Nasser) and Syria, with nationalization which had been implemented under the previous government removed, with another military coup by September of 1962, and by September 1963, Amid al Hafiz, a Ba’athist, became the leader, with power contested between the “centrist and leftist” elements within the Ba’athist Party, as factionalism continued. Under Hafiz, there was a move to restore nationalization and land reform measures removed after the September 1961 coup, radicalization of rhetoric along with support for Palestinian liberation, and continuing power struggles until 1970, as Hafiz Al-Assad became a more important figure. Then in November 1970, the latter Assad came to power in a coup which has often been called the “corrective movement,” while he was elected for a seven-year term in March 1971 by the populace. In the presidency of Hafiz, relations with the Soviet improved, a Progressive National Front was formed, and the government held off those who wanted to make Islam the state religion. An independent foreign policy course was plotted, there was a controversial Syrian intervention in Lebanon, the Ba’ath Party seemed to partially mass-based, and the “merits of socialism” were explored for Syria’s economy. With public unhappiness with the government at the time, an anti-corruption campaign was begun, and in February 1978, Hafiz was re-elected, facing opposition from Muslim groups (like the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Liberation Party), specifically those who detested the secular and nationalist nature of the state itself. The latter groups demanded bourgeois “freedoms” while engaging in violent, terrorist attacks against the government, with the government, by the early 1980s, basically declaring war on the Muslim Brotherhood, looking to uproot it from the country all together. As time went on, the Syrians relied heavily on the Soviets for re-supply of weapons, based in 1980 treaty, even as the latter refused to support the rightful Syrian effort to regain the Golan Heights from Zionists, and aligned itself with Iran as the Iran-Iraq War raged through the 1980s. By the later 1980s, there was “uncertainty” about the future of Syria.

It seems a bit problematic that Gowans cites this source to buttress his claim that Syria is socialist because this study was written in 1987! There is no doubt that Syria’s study is still diverse, as it was in 1987, but the so-called “Baathist policies of secularism and socialism” are not evident. Sure, the country is secular, but the policies were never really socialist despite what the study claims, even through it was anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist. There is also certainly still a youthful population. After all, as the study itself points out, in 1970, Hafiz “reversed or relaxed the more strident socialist economic measures” which had been instituted in 1963, leading to a new class of “entrepreneurs and businessmen who made their fortunes in real estate, importing, and construction.” That doesn’t sound very socialist, but rather constitutes the re-creation/reinforcement of the Syrian bourgeoisie, since the country, by the time the study was written, lacked a “true proletariat of wage-earning workers”! Still, education was, by the later 1980s, under close government supervision, starting from 1967 onward and free medical care even as private hospitals outnumbered state-run hospitals in the country.

We then get to the economy. In the mid-1960s, the “new socialist direction,” as the report called it, of the economic policy of Syria was clear considering nationalization of major industries and government-led land reform (land expropriated from large landowners) along with state-led large-scale projects. However, by the 1970s, the economy became more dependent on foreign aid from Arab countries and military aid from the Soviets, with the climate switching from “prosperity to austerity” in the 1980s, with slashing of public investments. This seems to question if the economy was even socialist at all as the study claims there was “socialist transformation” of the economy in the 1960s, with more state commitment to the economy in the 1970s and 1980s, before austerity kicked in. However, this isn’t the whole reality. Not even half of the workforce was employed by the state by 1983, with all college graduates not guaranteed a job, with many taking second jobs in the “private sector” and possible high unemployment as the 1980s went on. Even with a so-called “socialist economy” erected in the 1960s, this was liberalized by Hafiz in 1986, with the state moving away from the agricultural, retail trade, and light industry, leading to be controlled by capitalists, with income gaps beginning to widen. In order to defend the country, huge sums were spent on the military, with administration as a the second biggest area of government expenditures, with the rest relating to the economy (with varying “five-year-plans” over the years), with a very small amount for “social welfare” and “education and culture.” Add to this that by 1984, private farmers cultivated 74% of the country’s lands, and state farms, essentially, only cultivated 1%, again asking extensive the state’s involvement was in the economy, with farmer cooperatives existing, but not broadly successful with a faltering agricultural policy, while the West cried about “inefficiency” of public enterprises and there was effectively a central bank in Syria. Additionally, liberalization of the economy started in 1970 and again in 1986. At the same time, the Soviets and Romanians were active in developing the infrastructure of Syria in the 1970s and 1980s. There are other aspects noted in the study, of course, but there are not worth discussing here.

The study seems to imply that Syria is not only not “socialist” but has a working bourgeoisie, although they don’t call it this since the study is one assembled by bourgeois analysts, as one would expect. From this, it is worth turning to two documents: the 1973 constitution of Syria (with concessions made to placate the Islamic oppositional forces at the time), and the 2012 revision in order to placate the Syrian opposition. The first constitution, in 1973, declared that

The comprehensive Arab revolution is an existing and continuing necessity to achieve the Arab nation’s aspirations for unity, freedom, and socialism.  The revolution in the Syrian Arab region is part of the comprehensive Arab revolution…any danger to which any Arab country may be exposed on the part of imperialism and Zionism is at the same time a danger threatening the whole Arab nation…The Syrian Arab Republic is a democratic, popular, socialist, and sovereign state.  No part of its territory can be ceded.  Syria is a member of the Union of the Arab Republics…Sovereignty is vested in the people, who exercise it in accordance with this Constitution…The religion of the President of the Republic has to be Islam…The leading party in the society and the state is the Socialist Arab Baath Party…People’s councils are establishments elected in a democratic way at which the citizens exercise their rights in administering the state and leading the society…The state is at the people’s service…The state economy is a planned socialist economy which seeks to end all forms of exploitation…Public ownership includes natural resources, public utilities, and nationalized installations and establishments, as well as installations and establishments set up by the state… Collective ownership includes the property belonging to popular and professional organizations and to production units, cooperatives, and other social establishments…individual ownership includes property belonging to individuals…The right of inheritance is guaranteed in accordance with the law…The educational and cultural system aims at creating a socialist nationalist Arab generation which is scientifically minded and attached to its history…Work is a right and duty of every citizen.  The state undertakes to provide work for all citizens…All citizens have the sacred duty to defend the homeland’s security, to respect its Constitution and socialist unionist system.

While some may be cheering, this does not put workers at the central mission of the state like Cuba. A translation from a Cuban government webpage (also here) gives a better translation than other versions. In the first article it calls Cuba is a “socialist State of workers, independent and sovereign, organized with all and for the good of all, as a unitary and democratic republic.” This is exactly the same as a translation made by the United Nations or summary of gender rights in Cuba by UN Women. In case the UN translation is moved to another link, the UN translation has been uploaded to this blog in order to promote more learning about Cuba. As one can clearly see, Syria was not, even in 1973, a truly and accurately socialist state. Rather it was a nationalist and socially democratic one which had a developed bourgeoisie which guarantees a right to inheritance, something which Marx and Engels were strongly opposed to, with Marx saying, in August 1869, that “the laws of inheritance are not the cause, but the effect, the juridical consequence of the existing economical organization of society, based upon private property in the means of production.”

We then get to the 2012 revision. All mentions of socialism have been completely omitted, as the state instead is portraying itself as democratic and secular (although the word secular is never mentioned in the whole constitution):

The Syrian Arab Republic is a democratic state with full sovereignty, indivisible, and may not waive any part of its territory, and is part of the Arab homeland…The religion of the President of the Republic is Islam; Islamic jurisprudence shall be a major source of legislation…The political system of the state shall be based on the principle of political pluralism, and exercising power democratically through the ballot box…Democratically elected councils at the national or local level shall be institutions through which citizens exercise their role in sovereignty, state-building and leading society…The national economy shall be based on the principle of developing public and private economic activity through economic and social plans aiming at increasing the national income, developing production, raising the individual’s living standards and creating jobs… Natural resources, facilities, institutions and public utilities shall be publicly owned, and the state shall invest and oversee their management for the benefit of all people…The law shall determine the maximum level of agricultural ownership and agricultural investment to ensure the protection of the farmer and the agricultural laborer from exploitation and to ensure increased production…Society in the Syrian Arab Republic shall be based on the basis of solidarity, symbiosis and respect for the principles of social justice, freedom, equality and maintenance of human dignity of every individual…The state shall guarantee every citizen and his family in cases of emergency, sickness, disability, orphan-hood and old age… The rule of law shall be the basis of governance in the state.

Perhaps some of the text from the 1973 version was kept, but only some aspects of nationalization  were kept in place as the state having a broad role in society, but not necessarily to benefit the proletariat but rather every class in society, which goes against established Marxist ideals. Instead, this constitution easily allows for capitalism to creep more into Syria through its tentacles of destruction and deception. [5]

The final indication is using reports in state media outlet, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) itself. Just like using the Zimbabwean party newspaper, The Herald, to recognize the counter-revolution going on there, one can use SANA in the same way to determine how “socialist” Syria is, if at all. One recent article talks about how the government will continue “providing the basic needs for citizens and improving their living conditions according to the available resources” with pushes by certain MPs to deal with “the issue of high prices,” reduce rationing of electricity, and reform the tax system, along with controlling expenditures of the government, along with other aspects like rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country. With some of the latter measures clearly benefiting the bourgeoisie, the same can be said in a push to support “small, medium, and micro enterprises” which describe, without doubt, institutions of the bourgeoisie, specifically the petty bourgeoisie. In another recent article, it was noted that a social welfare center was opened in the countryside but it ended up being something done with the cooperation of the Greek Orthodox Church there, and mainly aimed at serving “displaced people and families affected by the crisis” of war in the country.

There were other indications of the true nature of the economy. In the realm of tourism, the Higher Council for Tourism said that it would provide “special advantages and incentives to the investors willing to set up tourist projects,” with the Prime Minister of the country adding that investors should “establish tourist projects for low-income people to boost popular tourism and give an image to the world about stability returned to the Syrian provinces due to the victories achieved by the Syrian Arab army.” The tone was expressed when the government participated in the 38th FITUR International Tourism Fair 2018 in Madrid, Spain, calling for “Spanish tourism companies to visit Syria, take a closer look at the situation in it,” worked to build a railway that would serve “passengers and businessmen” and looking to make the country attractive by encouraging “Arab and foreign businessmen to make more investments in Syria to contribute to the reconstruction stage.” You could say this is justified, considering that the government brought in “45 local, Arab and foreign companies” to talk about energy, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning of the  reconstruction of Syria. After all, the country wants to rebuild after years of war with an economy which is reportedly in good condition, and has put forward a “national development program” for Syria, during the reconstruction period, which builds institutions, fights against corruption, modernizes infrastructure, engages n “sustainable growth and development, social, educational and cultural development and the national dialogue.” Basically, the Syrian government is trying to draw in international capital to lead to its reconstruction. [6] However, this process shows that it is not “socialist” as Gowans claims. Rather it is socially democratic, as previously explained, secular, and it is nationalist. Even though the government seems to loosely base itself on Islam and the constitution doesn’t mention the word “secular,” it is worth calling Syria secular because for one, the country has no state religion. With secularism limited as Marx noted in “On the Jewish Question,” seeming to mean “non-religious,” the fourth edition of the Webster’s New World College Dictionary (a bourgeois dictionary) concurs with this, defining the word “secular” as “not sacred or religious,” temporal or worldly, distinguished from “church and religion.”

With all this, we can say with certainty that Syria has a developed bourgeoisie. That doesn’t mean that the state cannot do good for the people of Syria, or even the proletariat, but rather that it is not socialist or on the road to socialism in any way, shape or form. With this, we can still defend the country from imperial lies and slander from the bourgeois media and comprador progressive media, like Omidyar’s plaything, The Intercept. The official publication of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma, said the same in an article, reprinted from the official Cuban outlet, Prensa Latina, in March of last year:

…Just six years after the beginning of a war that was imposed from abroad, and which has exacerbated the differences between those espousing diverse religious beliefs to an inhumane level, this nation presents a scene of enormous destruction amidst the quest to survive…Never before in the Arab and Muslim world had the destruction of a country been promoted in such a combined way, organized from the centers of the former colonial powers and the United States…The reality is neither civil war nor faith-based conflict, because the “card” at play in Syria is actually a dirty game which originated from a basic element: in 2009 when the government of Bashar al Assad vetoed a vast project promoted by Qatar…From that moment on, and planned in advance, petrodollars from the capitals of the Gulf monarchies, Turkey and Israel, played their part…Syria questioned the economic motives of Western powers, which was enough to serve as one of the objective bases for launching the overwhelming media attacks and war against this nation…In an explosion of generalized war, thousands of terrorists arrived in Syria, who, allied with national extremists, established points of attack that in the first years covered more than a dozen combat fronts throughout the Syrian territory…More than half a million dead and maimed, economic losses of $200 billion dollars and the obvious destruction of Syria’s entire infrastructure, make up a bleak but not insurmountable panorama. The media siege on this nation, a fierce commercial blockade and widespread terror over six years of an overwhelming imposed war, have not yet been able to annihilate the Syrian people.

There are further aspects. For one, the Syrian bourgeoisie, represented by the state, are willing to engage in ICT cooperation with Russian bourgeoisie, and have other agreements with the Russians (as noted here and here). One such agreement is about “cooperation in domain of public constructions and the implementation of housing projects.” I mention this because, as I’ve written on this blog before, you can say that Russia’s foreign policy is, to an extent, progressive and anti-imperialist, but Russia is without a doubt a capitalist state, with a bourgeoisie which has festered since 1991, at least, if not earlier when it developed more and more through the revisionist years of the Soviet Union (1954-1991). Syria’s government is smart enough to have strong relations with Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq, even working on creating an electricity network which connects Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Undoubtedly this will lead to further regional unity, which is good in an effort to resist imperialism. However, it also strengthens the bourgeoisie in Iran (which I recently wrote about) and Iraq. The same can be said about bringing in investors from Brazil, having economic cooperation with South Africa and China, oil production by Oman (noted here, here, and here), cooperation with Cuba, Belarus, India (see here and here), Sudan, People’s Korea, along with cooperation with other “friendly countries.” This goes back to my earlier point, that Syria is trying to bring in international capital as it looks to rebuild its country from the scourge of war which has ravaged the country since 2011. This is a noble goal, but some of those countries, like India (led by a fascist) and South Africa, at least, have established bourgeoisie, meaning that no holds are barred in dealing with other countries. This is further the case considering Syria’s dealings with Armenian businesspeople as noted in varying articles. Finally, there is the epitome of nationalism, which Frantz Fanon wrote about in The Wretched of the Earth: domestic production pushed by the bourgeoisie. In the case of Syria, this takes the form of “made in Syria” fairs/exhibitions, noted again, again, again, and again in SANA. It reminds me of the whole push for “made in the USA” products while corporations were actually moving their factories to places with cheap labor, although this is a bit different.

Syria, the “good” Kurds, Syrian Communists, and elections

Originally posted on https://anti-imperialism.org/. This calls out the hypocrisy of the murderous empire calling for “human rights” in Syria.

Syria’s location and its ties with Iran, and other countries which could be said to be part of an anti-imperialist front, are well-established. Of course, some on the Left have considered Assad, along with Gaddafi, horrid “dictators” with endorsements of the bourgeois Arab “revolution,” and saying that there is a “dictatorship” in Syria. If this wasn’t enough in that it easily meshes with propaganda emanating from the center of world imperialism, consider the PLP (Progressive Labor Party), the same organization calling People’s Korea a “fascist”/”puppet” monarchy of China which “easily meshes its Orientalist propaganda of the bourgeois media.” For Syria, they describe it as a “Russian-backed government” with