A new blog and more!

Hello everyone!

I thought I’d let you all know that I have started a new blog, Revolutionary Tide, where I will be posting from now on. I am currently in the process of writing a series about groups backing the impeachment of the orange menace and their ultimate goals. The first part of this series has been published and it focuses on one of these groups, “Stand Up America,” and those interlinked with them. This blog, as such, will remain an archive even though I don’t completely agree with everything on here anymore, treating each post on a case-by-case basis. The new blog is a new beginning for me which I hope will allow me to explore topics I never got to focus on this blog, without the baggage of past posts which dragged me down. That’s all for now.

Signing off,

Leftist Critic

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“We’ll see what happens”: U$-DPRK detente in crisis

Colin Crooks, the British Ambassador to North Korea since December 2018 posted the above image on Twitter on July 21st, captioning it and four other images with: “City and District elections day in #NorthKorea. One candidate for each seat and one name on each ballot paper. At the #Pyongyang March 26 Electric Cable Factory polling station, voters seek their name on the register #DPRK #britishembassy.” The fact that even his tweets can be used to debunk anti-DPRK propaganda is rich to say the least.

While this was scheduled to be published on anti-imperialism.org, that never happened, so I am publishing it here. I thank the comments by Juchechat and Ben King (@Gimmeandreason), along with some others, who commented on my draft (and here) of this article on Twitter. I have incorporated their viewpoints into this article as to clarify my own views and to be accurate about the DPRK at the present.

Warmongers cackle as the delicate detente between the U$, the murderous empire, and the DPRK, a progressive state, seems to be falling apart. This past February, the summit in Hanoi, which was to be between the orange menace and Kim, fell apart when the U$ hardened its position. Pushed by the likes of Pompeo and Bolton, the U$ demanded complete and utter disarmament of the DPRK, which they knew would never be fulfilled, while the DPRK only wanted limited sanctions relief, something the murderous empire refused to grant. Since then, relations between the DPRK and the U$ continue to be rocky, especially since murderous sanctions remain in place and the posture of U$ imperialists continues to be hostile, as would be expected. While the orange menace has touted “minor successes in the detente with the DPRK” in the past and there is still the possibility of progress not only between leaders of a divided Korea, but those of the U$ and DPRK, especially after the impromptu meeting in Panmunjom, within the Demilitarized Zone, on June 30th, with the orange menace the first President who ever stepped onto DPRK soil.

Bourgeois media have been chattering about “saber rattling” by the DPRK after they tested a new set of short-range ballistic missiles, which traveled hundreds of miles over the ocean. These missile launches, at two occasions in the past week, were not only a warning to warmongers in the ROK, but a message to the orange menace and U$ imperialists. [1] They are making an obvious statement: that the DPRK will not be pushed around and told what to do by the murderous empire, that it will defend itself if attacked, and that the joint military exercises (called Dong Maeng 19-2), which are aimed at decapitation of the DPRK leadership, must end. They were also, more directly, snubbing Bolton, a warmonger who was visiting ROK at the same time. At the same time, the Chinese social imperialists called for both the DPRK and U$ to “resume consultations as soon as possible to promote new progress for a political settlement of the peninsula issue.” We should also not forget the role of the Russians in negotiations, especially after the Putin-Kim summit this past April in Vladivostok, Russia, with Putin calling for legally-binding “international guarantees” to be provided to the DPRK, a clear nod to the U$ imperialists that they need to change their behavior in regards to the Korean nation. This role of the Russian social-imperialists is welcomed by the Chinese, while the Koreans see their role as “constructive.”

This all connects to what was said at the recent Latin American Plenary of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations, ICMLPO, which seems to lean toward Hoxhaist beliefs. They noted that in countries which were seen as progressive, alternative, or socialist (seemingly referring to Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, and others), “bourgeois factions and the developmentalist positions that sponsored them have lost positions, taking over traditional sectors of the bourgeoisie,” adding that this has opened the door for U$ imperialism to “recover spaces disputed by China, particularly in those places where the so-called progressive governments are established.” This would also include Mexico, whose president (AMLO) Amber B. recently criticized as a bourgeois “populist” fraud who stands with the existing Mexican bourgeoisie. This has led Latin America to become “the scene of inter-imperialist disputes over market control,” with disputes not only between the U$ and China, but between Canada, imperialist countries of Europe, and Russia. You may ask how this relates to the DPRK. That is answered by Alfonso Casal of the American Party of Labor, also leaning toward Hoxhaism. He stated at a recent conference in Ecuador, that the current U$ government represents “the interests of the most reactionary wing of the monopoly bourgeoisie, relying on the support of the petty-bourgeoisie and small producers” and it is also obviously “neo-fascist in character, adapted to the conditions of American monopoly capitalism.” Casal went onto claim that the current era is one of declining U$ imperialism, in ferocious competition with imperialists from the EU, Russia, and China, trying to “maintain its position as the world’s foremost imperialist power.” While I’m not sure I agree with Casal when it comes to declining U$ power, his characterization of the current U$ administration and its competition with other imperialists is accurate. You could say that negotiations with the DPRK are part of some sort of “grand strategy” to weaken Russia and China, opening up a new “untapped” market for U$ capitalists. But, it’s also about vanity more than anything else, so the orange menace can make his fascist “mark” on history as being the “first” to do something that no President has done in the past.

Pompeo can grumble that “everybody” is getting ready for negotiations and imply that the Koreans are creating “risk for the other side,” but it is the U$, which is creating the risk! Even if the DPRK has expanded its nuclear arsenal to 12 bombs as Western intelligence analysts claim, it is the U$ that is engaged in provocations while the DPRK is the one that is acting defensively. If Pompeo was serious about wanting “diplomacy to work,” and that the DPRK should denuclearize, then the U$ should reduce tensions by removing the murderous sanctions. However, Pompeo is clearly not serious about this. Actions of the U$ have shown that they want to crush the DPRK rather than pursue diplomatic means, just like they with Iran. The Iranians understandably don’t want to negotiate with such warmongers whom abandoned the nuclear deal which was embraced by Iranian reformists while the socially conservative Principalists have felt vindicated by their skepticism of the U$. At the same time, the DPRK, an strong ally of the Iranians for many years, and vice versa, is right to resume nuclear and long-range missile tests if the U$ is unagreeable and refuses to remove murderous sanctions which are strangling the county’s economy. If working-level discussions do happen between the U$ and DPRK as Pompeo, who has been condemned by the Koreans for his dangerous remarks and told to leave the negotiating team, claims he hopes for, the U$ imperialists will need to make more concessions, something which should be pushed by progressive and revolutionary forces. [2] Genuine peace on the Korean peninsula means reduction of tension which has been caused by U$ imperialist action, and occasional ROK cooperation, coupled with subsequent actions by sub-imperialist powers in other parts of the imperial core. The same is the case for the subservient country of Japan, which is being allowed to become a military power again by Western imperialists. The DPRK sees this, not wrongly, as part of an ambition to re-invade Korea. None of us should forget the past evils committed by the Japanese imperialists when they ruled over the Korean Peninsula with an iron fist, to “mentally exterminate the Korean nation” in the words of KCNA, and how the U$, once the ROK was created, used Japanese systems and administrators to continue to run the southern part of Korea, seeing them as “useful” allies rather than enemies. The Koreans are willing to denuclearize, but on their terms, not those dictated to them by a bunch of bloodthirsty imperialists, coming from their respective countries in the imperial core, as they remember the various U$ crimes against them during the Korean War and since then.

Those in the West can grumble about how the DPRK is a “dictatorship,” cheering when a single DPRK soldier apparently defects to the South by floating down a river, and it is so “undemocratic” but…do they realize the pressure the country is under? It is no surprise that only a small portion of the county has access to the internet, with the country having an intranet called Kwangmyong, a specific OS called “Red Star” and social media outlet where you can post birthday messages. Any imports of technology are severely restricted in the country, far beyond the stricture Cuba suffers under as part of the U$ embargo, even though there are possible signs the country is trying to develop artificial intelligence at the College of Information Studies at Kim Il Sung University, one of the country’s premier schools. [3] The Bank of Korea, the xxx, claims that the country’s economy contracted last year, with a fall in gross domestic product, output in the manufacturing and mining sectors, and external trade, declined. Others claim that the government is “struggling with a lack of money,” that crops are expected to dry up early, patty production fell, and there have been shortages of necessary agricultural items. Many of these claims, especially when it comes to a “lack of money” and an economic contraction are pure speculation as Juchechat pointed out, although noting this data has a very limited value as part of a discussion of the DPRK. As for the claims that crops could dry up early, a fall in patty production, and shortage in agricultural items, these seem more credible. The reason for that is due to the fact that sanctions have combined with horrid weather conditions, like a heat wave and prolonged drought. Without a doubt, this would have devastated the country’s agricultural sector, but is not collapsing and is rather using new “scientific and IT” methods. As Ben King correctly pointed out, data from the DPRK is tough and added that “one can’t trust western sources on this, but it’s hard to trust Korean source[s] too.

There is no doubt that these sanctions are literally killing people, something which Pompeo, the orange menace, and Bolton could care less about, with imperialists whether “moderate” or “reactionary” feeling the same. It is part of their perverted method to “pressure” the country, which numbers only about 25 million people (with a claimed annual income of about $1,300 as declared by skewed economic data from the West), to cave into U$ imperialist demands. This is more of the reality than the bloodsoaked liberals who complain that orange menace is spouting “strange rhetoric” and think U$ measures are a “clumsy attempt at diplomacy” rather than recognizing the imperial strategy.As Jenny Lei Ravelo noted on July 31st, “the difficult operating environment and sanctions in place mean that very few organizations are able and willing to operate in the country.”

Presently, the county faces possible rising rates of malnutrition and disease, as a result of U$ imperial action, causing rumbles in the economy, hinted at in Rodong Sinmun with a mention of a need to increase “production capacity,” implying that it is lacking at the present time. [4] An official of the U.N. World Food Programme, James Belgrave, who had visited the country this past April, sounded an alarm at the dire situation, with a drop of 20% in the country’s wheat and barley production: “the wheat and barley crops did look very dry and were visibly affected – patchy development, shorter than they should have been, and agricultural officers in the counties were worried.” In another way, the actions of the U$ and the West contributed to this destruction: much of the world’s pollution comes from the West capitalist combines, much more than any that is generated by the DPRK itself, and the dry spell is an obvious result of a changing climate worsened by the capitalist economy, with capitalists cackling as the world burns.

As some media outlets pointed out, scaled back drills of the ROK and U$ would help the DPRK economically because it would not need to deploy a large number of soldiers to the border during the exercises to protect its sovereignty from a possible attack, allowing money to be diverted to helping the populace, including constructing tourist attractions and necessary social institutions. This is important to note because the country has seen an increase in Chinese tourism relatively recently. Of course, bourgeois media push recent accomplishments of the DPRK to the back. [5] For instance, the country is now deemed compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, thanks to help from Chinese individuals, and  the country’s national airline, Air Koryo, will resume direct flights from Macau, one of the richest parts of China and a supposed “gambling enclave,” to Pyongyang itself. So much for the claims that the country is “isolated” which are bandied around in the bourgeois media time and time again! This is especially proven false when reading how Kim received congratulations on the anniversary of his election as chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK in 2016 from political parties and organizations in Syria, Palestine, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Egypt, Spain, Serbia, Croatia, Nepal, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Austria, and Brazil, as reported in Rodong Sinmun.

Let us not forget that the country had a construction boom in 2017 and a changing banking sector since then. There are some that say the country experimented with market measures in 2002-2003, and 2010 which spurred it forward, although such claims are as questionable as what analysts say about the country from a Western perspective is extremely suspect. Still, some analysts admit that “under Kim Jong Un, the economy has grown and North Korea’s quality of life has improved” while grumbling that “economic experimentation,” including giving SOEs more autonomy and holding trainings for women in business, along with other market measures, isn’t happening “fast” enough for them. While the country is still within the midst of the five-year plan announced in 2016, which ends in 2020, the country has abandoned its focus on military expenses to turn around and focus just on the economy, ensuring the government is helping the populace. This includes road building, tree planting, operating rest homes as part of “state social insurance,” constructing a phosphate fertilizer factory, and producing heat insulating materials, to name a few aspects noted recently in the DPRK’s media. [6]

The orange menace can say he is getting “along very well” with Kim, and boast about his administration’s accomplishments, declaring correctly that “they haven’t done nuclear testing,” adding that the DPRK hasn’t tested “missiles other than…smaller ones, which is something that lots test.” What is worrisome is not his claim that U$ imperialists have been “doing very well” in regards to the DPRK, which is true in the sense that the country is being strangled to death by sanctions pushed by the murderous empire and supported by the Chinese social-imperialists, showing their complicity in the strangling of the DPRK, since the current sanctions regime began in 2006. Rather it is his declaration that the current approach may not continue and that “we’ll see what happens.” This could be a nod to possible harmful actions by the U$ in the months to come, or perhaps another threat to the Koreans themselves to not “mess up.” In reality it is the U$ that has caused the damage and is not serious about diplomacy in the slightest as any observer can see. Even the Chinese social-imperialists realize this, as their foreign ministry called for the U$ to “further reduce [its] nuclear weapons and create conditions for other countries to participate in nuclear disarmament negotiations.” This position by the Chinese is self-serving to an extent because the Chinese are angry that the U$ is using extraterritorial jurisdiction, clearly in an illegal manner, to punish their companies for “violating” murderous sanctions on the DPRK itself. This self-serving nature is obvious, especially since a new port between the two countries opened in April, portending more trade, and subsequently capital, traveling between China and the DPRK, with both countries wanting to strengthen the relationship with each other.

Even so, we should not fall into the revisionist trap posed by those like Danny Haiphong of Black Agenda Report, who declares that China has a “development plan that threatens to undo U.S. hegemony for good,” called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), claiming it “spells doom for U.S. imperial hegemony” and that China’s economy is “market-oriented” socialism, something which does not exist. He also repeats the tired old story about China accounting for “the entire reduction in poverty in the world” which seems like an imperialist (or social-imperialist) lie/distortion, and is even more bonkers when he declares that China has “preserve[d] its socialist revolution,” has engaged in an “economic miracle,” going onto say that the country has a “socialist command economy” and that the “One Belt One Road Initiative represents the biggest threat to U.S. imperial hegemony in this epoch.” While he makes a good point about China challenging U$ imperialism, while admitting “contradictions” in China’s market measures, including the widening of “inequality between the rich and the poor,” he gets all twisted up in himself in thinking that China has a “planned economy,” while sneering that those who point out China is imperialistic, thinking that this is a repetition of “corporate media and State Department talking points,” painting them as obvious dupes. He then cites another fellow revisionist, Andre Vltchek, who says that the BRI is the “exact contrast to the Western colonialism and imperialism.” While I agree with him that not engaging with the BRI and “condemning China without investigation reinforces Western imperialism,” I’m not sure that the “the most significant global struggle of the 21st century…[is] between the U.S. and China.” I would say China should be condemned for its actions, while recognizing what it really stands for. To their credit, the Hoxhaists of ICMLPO, for all their problems, are closer to the reality than Haiphong! They state, in a statement at the beginning of this month, about how the Middle East is the scene of “sharp confrontations” between several imperialist powers, like the U.S., Russia, China, European countries, and their “reactionary regional allied forces are played out,” while pointing out the rashness of U$ imperialists, with the danger of war coming from “the interimperialist contention.” They point out that U$ imperialism has a clear warmongering policy, trying to cordon off Iran, engaging in provocative acts in the Persian Gulf, many originating from military bases in the region, with victims of such conflict being workers and the people while “imperialist powers and bourgeois factions [see] it…[as] an opportunity to expand and consolidate their power and increase their millions in profits” without a doubt. The problem with Haiphong’s position, held by other useless fools, is that it results in implied support for governments like boastful President Emerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe who allies himself with Chinese capital, a place that apparently has rampant police brutality (said to be worse than that under Mugabe). The current ZANU-PF government has been implementing the IMF-proscribed program, causing the masses to suffer in what the bourgeois media calls the “worst cash crunch in a decade” (to quote a recent NPR article). Additionally, the country’s centrist opposition (like the MDC) waivers, even the strange Zimbabwean Communist Party is critical of the current situation in the country, while trade unions and other groups are trying to form a more united left opposition not tied to the market. At the same time, as a recent BBC article noted, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc)’s chairman, President John Magufuli of Tanazania calls for removing sanctions on the country, saying that their removal “attract Western investors to Zimbabwe after close to two decades of economic isolation,” causing an influx of Western capital.

In the meantime, in the DPRK itself, not only was there a recent exhibition of over 42,000 “diversified consumer goods” of hundreds of different kinds, at the Yokjon Department Store in Pyongyang, from July 23 to 26, and an election was recently concluded. [7] According to DPRK media, almost all of the population participated in the election of deputies to the people’s assemblies on the municipal, city, and county levels, apart from those “on foreign tour or working in oceans,” with the use of “mobile ballot boxes” for those who were ill or elderly. In the process, apart from editorials calling for the populace to participate in consolidating the “state and social system” of the country, and continuing the march for self-reliance, there was a unique political development. It is the new constitution of the DPRK which formally named Kim as the head of state, possibly as a move to establish Kim’s status should a peace treaty signing with the U$ come to fruition. As the DPRK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on August 6th, “we remain unchanged in our stand to resolve the issues through dialogue. But the dynamics of dialogue will be more invisible as long as the hostile military moves continue.” This should be something that all with sense should support!

Whether you see the DPRK as revisionist or not, as some strongly believe, the fact is that the country is progressive and is under attack from U$ imperialists. As Gregory Elich wrote on July 12th, not only did the U$ offer the “Libya Model of denuclearization, in which obligations are loaded solely on its negotiating partner” at Hanoi, but the sanctions aimed at the DPRK are “designed to strangle its economy” with the Koreans seeing “sanctions relief as an essential element in the trade-off for denuclearization.” There are questions about how “flexible” the current U$ approach is, with some likely wanting to sabotage negotiations, with no U$ officials ever mentioning what kind of “security guarantee” they would even offer to the DPRK, with questions of whether this guarantee could even be trusted. As such, the DPRK obviously needs “a reliable means of assuring its security if it is going to denuclearize.” This is complicated by the fact that there is a widespread belief among U$ imperialists that every action by the DPRK toward denuclearization should be “rewarded” with crippling sanctions, meaning that “imperialism and arrogance go hand-in-hand.” Clearly these imperialists cannot grasp that it will be impossible to “bully the DPRK into unilateral disarmament” anytime in the future, whether through sanctions or other destabilizing measures, whether overt or covert. What happens next is uncertain, but revolutionaries and progressives should stand beside the DPRK against Western imperial aggression, pushing for more tentacles of the U$ imperialist monster to be withdrawn from the world as a whole, no matter what it takes.


Notes

[1] Elizabeth Shim, “Report: Belarus firm involved in North Korea ICBM mobile launcher,” UPI, July 29, 2019; Joyce Lee and Josh Smith, “North Korea’s Kim says missile test a warning to South Korean ‘warmongers’,” Reuters, July 25, 2019; Lucas Mikelionis, “North Korea says new missile test was ‘solemn warning’ to South Korean ‘warmongers’,” Fox News, July 26, 2019; Hyonhee Shin and David Brunnstrom, “North Korea tests ballistic missiles, U.S. still hopeful for talks,” Reuters, July 24, 2019; Lesley Wroughton, “U.S.’ Pompeo hopes for North Korea talks soon, no leaders’ summit planned,” Reuters, July 29, 2019; Alex Lockie, “Trump’s response to North Korea’s latest missile test suggests ‘fire and fury’ may still be coming,” Business Insider, July 26, 2019; Adam Forrest, “North Korea: Kim Jong-un inspects massive new submarine ‘designed to deliver nuclear weapons’,” The Independent, July 23, 2019; Yosuke Onchi, “North Korea takes bullish turn with latest missile test,” Nikkei Asian Review, July 26, 2019; Alex Ward, “North Korea just fired 2 “projectiles” — curiously timed to Bolton’s trip to South Korea,” Vox, July 24, 2019; Joseph Zeballos-Roig, “North Korea may have built 12 nuclear bombs since the first Trump-Kim summit last year, according to recent reports from intelligence analysts,” Business Insider, July 26, 2019; “North Korea warns US over planned war games,” Al Jazeera, July 17, 2019; Park Chan-kyong, “Russia’s Vladimir Putin calls for ‘international guarantees’ in first summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un,” South China Morning Post, April 25, 2019; Josh Lederman and Hans Nichols, “Trump meets Kim Jong Un, becomes first sitting U.S. president to step into North Korea,” NBC News, June 30, 2019; “North Korea claims it tested crucial new rocket launch system,” CBS/AP, August 1, 2019; Conor Finnegan, “Mike Pompeo arrives in Asia amid North Korea missile tests, denuclearization doubts,” ABC News, July 31, 2019; “US officials play down North Korea missile tests, hold out for new talks,” Reuters, July 31, 2019; Josh Smith, “U.S. still hopes for talks after latest North Korean missile tests,” Reuters, July 31, 2019; “North Korea puts ‘guided rocket launcher’ on show,” AFP, July 31, 2019.

[2] “Japan’s Ambition to Reinvade Korea Will Only Ruin Its Future: KCNA Commentary,” KCNA, July 29, 2019; “Past Crimes Done by Japanese Imperialists to Obliterate Korean Nation,” KCNA, July 29, 2019; Dagyum Ji and Oliver Hotham, “North Korean first vice foreign minister condemns Pompeo for “dangerous” remarks,” NK News, April 30, 2019; “North Korea Urges Trump to Drop Pompeo From Talks; U.S. Plays Down Weapons Test,” U.S. News & World Report, April 17, 2019; James Griffiths, “North Korea: If US wants to talk, put someone ‘more mature’ than Pompeo in charge,” CNN, April 18, 2019.

[3]  Matthew Hussey, “There are just 7,000 Web users in North Korea,” The Next Web, Jan 28, 2016; Kwanwoo Jun, “North Korea’s economy shrank sharply in 2018,” MarketWatch, July 25, 2019; Sam Kim, “North Korea’s Economy Shrinks by Most Since 1990s Famine,” Bloomberg, July 25, 2019; “North Korea releases detained Russian fishing boat,” Al Jazeera, July 28, 2019; “North Korea suffered worst contraction in two decades, South Korea says,” AP, July 26, 2019; Steve Benen, “North Korea manages to make Trump’s failures even more obvious,” MSNBC, July 25, 2019; Elizabeth Shim, “North Korea detains Russian boat, including two South Koreans,” UPI, July 24, 2019; Choonsik Woo, “North Korea’s economy tanks as sanctions, drought bite: South Korea,” Reuters, July 25, 2019; Andrei Lankov, “Average North Koreans will be hit hardest by sanctions,” Al Jazeera, April 16, 2016; Paul Tjia, “North Korea: An Up-and-Coming IT-Outsourcing Destination,” 38 North, Oct 26, 2011; Elizabeth Shim, “North Korea soldier floated down river to defect to South, Seoul says,” UPI, August 1, 2019; Elizabeth Shim, “North Korea pursuing domestic development of AI, state media says,” UPI, July 31, 2019, an article citing “South Korean service NK Economy” which read an article in Kumsukangsan, a DPRK publication about this topic. Through some further sleuthing, I found the original article, titled “in artificial intelligence development,” on pages 29-31, of the most recent edition of the publication which I feel should be reprinted in full here, translated (it is a bit rough) and all:

Choi said, “Artificial intelligence uses functions such as memory, judgment, and computation that are written in a computer so that the computer performs actions similar to human intellectual activities Today, many countries have a deep interest in artificial intelligence and are putting their efforts into development. As such, artificial intelligence technologies such as speech recognition, image recognition, and machine translation have almost reached the level of human intelligence.” He then said that these technologies, as well as the talents and research conditions necessary for their development, But we are spurring on research projects to raise artificial intelligence technology to world-class one day on the basis of its own talent. Based on an analysis of the achievements and experiences of other countries in the field of artificial intelligence in the last decade, they are making efforts to develop a high level of technology that meets the reality of the country. We have developed Korean language speech recognition program and Korean character recognition program that can be written in time. The research group, which already occupies a hegemonic position in this field in Korea, is constantly updating its programs to meet the needs of the developing age. “In other countries, speech recognition programs and text recognition programs have been developed, It is a technology corresponding to a foreign language including. We have developed a speech recognition program and a character recognition program for Korean. It is” he said. The achievements are also being made in research projects to broaden machine translation and improve its quality. The researchers have developed an app that can translate materials from about 30 natural and social science departments, including mathematics, physics, chemistry, economics, and history, into English, Chinese, and German. The system, which was introduced to the Science and Technology Hall and the People ‘s Study Group, provides high speed and accuracy in researching and analyzing literature in other countries, which is greatly contributing to the scientific research projects of scientists and engineers. In addition, the institute made significant contributions to the project to realize the informationization, scientificization and modernization of the relevant units by bringing out the valuable scientific and technological achievements including the integrated production and management information management system and the science and technology dissemination system that are needed in many sectors of the people’s economy . Establishment of integrated production system of Pyongyang trolley factory and Pyongyang cosmetics factory, development of integrated search system, production of skin analyzer … Especially the integrated product of Korean language speech recognition program “Dragon Namsan” and Pyongyang tuna factory. The Institute of Science and Technology, “Rongma,” has been ranked No. 1 in the National Informatization and Performance Exhibition -2018. As a result of not much achievements in the development of artificial intelligence technology, In the year of Juche 107 (2018), it was named as one of the top 10 information technology companies in the country. Now, they are not satisfied with the achievements, but they have set a higher goal to break through the artificial intelligence technology, And more. Kim Kwang-hyuk said, “The ultimate goal of global artificial intelligence development is to reach the level of human intelligence. In order to realize that, we will constantly challenge and make every effort.” To compete with the world for artificial intelligence technology and challenge the world, this is their research attitude. Their high creative vision and knowledge, The intense will to raise it up, and the ambitious gut must surely achieve their goal.

Jong-Hyeon Song, Head of Press

Pictures accompanying this article, say: “We are committed to developing multilingual neural machine translation system,” “Researchers discussing intelligent high-tech production,” and “Give each other views about artificial neural networks.”

[4] Another Rodong Sinmun article hinted at this too, with Kim Jae Ryong, member of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and premier of the Cabinet, who “inspected several units of the national economy” saying that the Sunchon Phosphate Fertilizer Factory, Unsan Prospecting Machine Factory, and the Sunchon Heat Insulating Materials Factory, all under construction, should not only meticulously carry out “production and management and putting the work for cost reduction on a scientific basis, but their “economic executives” should solve “problems arising in production and construction in time.” He also said that the updated Pyongyang Pharmaceutical Factory and the Pyongyang Dental Hygiene Products Factory should put in place “measures for giving precedence to designing and settling problems probably arising in construction and management in a far-sighted way.”

[5] “WADA adds North Korea to doping compliant nations’ list,” AFP, July 26, 2019; “North Korea’s Air Koryo to begin direct flights to Macau,” AFP, July 25, 2019; Andrei Lankov, “It’s not all doom and gloom in Pyongyang,” Asia Times, Sept 23, 2011; Henri Feron, “Pyongyang’s Construction Boom: Is North Korea Beating Sanctions?,” 38 North, July 18, 2017; Andray Abrahamian, “Banking on North Korea’s Banks?,” 38 North, Feb 3, 2017; Hazel Smith, “North Korea: Market Opportunity, Poverty and the Provinces” [Abstract and first page], New Political Economy, 2009; Peter Ward, “Market Reforms with North Korean Characteristics: Loosening the Grip on State-Owned Enterprises,” 38 North, Dec 21, 2017; Andray Abrahamian, “A Eulogy to Women in Business Training,” 38 North, Mar 29, 2017; Anna Fifield, “North Korea announces five-year economic plan, its first since the 1980s,” Washington Post, May 8, 2016. Back in 2011, some analysts claimed that the county was positioning itself as a place to outsource IT projects.

[6] “Road Extension Project Completed in Yangdok County Hot Spring Resort,” DPRK Today, July 26, 2019; “Working Citizens of DPRK Enjoy Summer Vacation,” DPRK Today, July 30, 2019; “Pak Pong Ju Inspects Units in Sunchon City,” Rodong Sinmun, July 30, 2019

[7] “Exhibition of Goods for Daily Use Held,” Naenera [News], July 27, 2019; “Election Finishes in DPRK,” KCNA, July 21, 2019; “Consolidation of Revolutionary Power through Elections Called for,” KCNA, July 21, 2019; “Election of Deputies Begins in DPRK,” KCNA, July 21, 2019; “Candidates for Deputies to Local People’s Assemblies Nominated in DPRK,” Rodong Sinmun, July 20, 2019; “Senior Party and Government Officials Go to Polls,” KCNA, July 21, 2019. You could say this hints at the existence of possible consumer culture in the country itself, but as Juchechat helpfully pointed out, it has been an economic strategy of the DPRK during the last decade to develop its light industry as an effort “to curb the dependence on imports from China” and consumer goods are “heavily subsidised.” They also noted that China benefits “from the sanctions regime” because “all DPRK exports are forced to go through China via middlemen” and adding that “as Cao de Benos recently stated in an interview, it’s primarily ethnic Koreans in China who play a major role in trade.” That’s a valid point! I will definitely write about this more in a future article, assessing whether my feeling that there are “consumer elements” in the country’s economy is accurate or not.

Time for Global Communists to Unite Against Chinese Revisionism

Courtesy of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which posted this on their Twitter account on Apr 22, linking to a statement by the CPP on April 17th which said, in part, that  “The country is now practically a playground for big power bullies to trample upon and assert their military and economic might. The struggle to uphold Philippine national sovereignty is now most urgent…On the one hand, China has emplaced hundreds of sea vessels, mostly fishing boats but suspected to be carrying armed troops, around the Spratly Islands…On the other hand, in a more direct and arrogant display of military superiority, 3,500 American troops swaggered into the country…Relative to the US imperialists, which have long plundered and devastated the Philippines, China is a late-comer, scraping the bottom of the country’s wealth.”

On March 25th, a self-defined “research scholar,” Saikat Bhattacharya, at Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India, declared that it was “Time for Global Communists to Unite under Xi and the Communist Party of China” in his unsourced piece of revisionist drivel, promoted by revisionists on places such as rhizzome (by a user named “JohnBeige“) and reddit (the latter on /r/communism). [1] This piece, using analysis of his site on SimilarWeb, gets over 40% of its traffic from social media, which break down to over 91% from Facebook and smaller amounts from Reddit (about 7%) and Twitter (about 1.5%). Compare this to statistics regarding this WordPress site: almost half of the traffic comes from web searches, and about 20% coming from social media traffic, with over 80% from Facebook and over 19% from Reddit. The thesis advanced by Bhattacharya, either called by his name or “this revisionist” in this blogpost, is one I fundamentally reject, as I will explain in the post that follows that aims to counter all of his points. Some revisionists may say (as some told me on a recent spat on Twitter) that I have “no place” to speak on this and am “talking over” Chinese people that think their state embodies “socialism.” In fact, I am merely trying to determine the nature of the situation in China in order to understand it more, to help out fellow comrades, not to make “decisions” for the Chinese people. Some may also bring up the point, as RAIM argued, in the past, that “China is a power capable of dislodging amerikan imperialist hegemony from strategic markets, a reality that has stoked a similar policy in Asia,” even as they note that there is a “chaotic unpredictability in amerikan imperialism in its orientation to both Russian imperialism and Chinese social-imperialism.” While I agree that U$ imperialism (and associated sub-imperialisms in Western Europe and Canada) is still the primary enemy, there should still be rejection of revisionist ideas, as not doing so dooms any fight against U$ imperialism as it depends on China (or Russia) as the “savior” of the global proletariat, a belief which intertwines dedicated comrades into distorted beliefs.

He begins the article by talking about a speech by Xi Jinping, the President of China, to the Chinese Army (officially and incorrectly called the “People’s Liberation Army”), apparently declaring that China should “go to Marxist roots.” He goes onto say that “many foreigners used to think that Mao’s China was Marxist and since Deng Xiaoping China is capitalist,” but claims this “not how the Communist Party of China think” because, for them, “Mao and Deng both enriched Chinese Socialism in different objective conditions.” While he makes a valid point about Mao’s role with Chinese socialism, Deng is no socialist. We should remember that the Deng and his fellow compatriots in the CPC rejected the Cultural Revolution (officially called the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution or GPCR) wholesale. [2] In CPC’s “Resolution on certain questions in the history of our party since the founding of the People’s Republic of China” in June 1981, they declared that the Cultural Revolution (May 1966-October 1976 as they define it), was a “comprehensive, long-drawn-out and grave blunder,” an error, and responsible for the “most severe setback and the heaviest losses suffered by the Party, the state and the people since the founding of the People’s Republic,” saying that some people committed “counter-revolutionary crimes.” They further declared that Mao’s argument for the cultural revolution (with a similar one in the DPRK as well), “conformed neither to Marxism, Leninism nor to Chinese reality” and represented  “an entirely erroneous appraisal of the prevailing class relations and political situation in the Party and state,” while also claiming it caused “political and ideological confusion.” In the document, while they used the language of socialism and Marxism, they called for “economic construction” which includes “expansion of economic and technological exchanges with foreign countries” in the so-called “favorable conditions” and breaking up the economic arrangement. On the latter, they called for “working people’s individual economy,” a supposed mix  of a “planned economy” and the “supplementary, regulatory role of the market on the basis of public ownership” which includes promotion of “commodity production and exchange.” Even worse, they declared that “class struggle no longer constitutes the principal contradiction after the exploiters have been eliminated as classes,” which seems ridiculous, and claimed that the system up to that point was not democratic enough, coupled with consolidating the government and improving the Chinese “Constitution and laws and ensure their strict observance and inviolability.” What does this include? “Order in production, work and other activities, punishing criminals and cracking down on the disruptive activities of class enemies,” and fostering nationalism, to name some of the important aspects. I find it obligatory to bring in what fellow comrades from India wrote about the Cultural Revolution in 2006:

…Mao evolved methods to deeply engrain the communist spirit of selflessness, simplicity, modesty and a concern for others. This can be seen in all his writings from the very beginning and was particularly emphasised after the seizure of power and during the GPCR…most importantly, he discovered the form for continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, in the historic Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR). Mao, right at the beginning pointed out that the principal contradiction during the period of socialist construction is that between the working-class and the bourgeoisie. And at a time when Khrushchev was talking of the dying out of class struggle and Liu Shao-chi was putting forward the theory of productive forces, Mao said that “class struggle is the key link and everything else hinges on it.” Besides, until the GPCR, it was always considered that the bourgeoisie engendered continuously by petti-production, lay outside the party…during the Cultural Revolution not only were capitalist roaders in positions of authority vehemently attacked, enormous transformations were attempted in the production relations: in factories, managers and technocrats were replaced by factory committees, and bonuses, prizes and other material incentives scrapped; in the rural areas, the free market was discouraged, garden private plots were gradually brought into the commune, side-business was discouraged, and the policy of ‘work points in command’ was fought against; in education, preference was given to working class students, privileges to children of party bosses discouraged, the authority of the ‘professor-despots’ smashed, and manual labour and practical experience was emphasised; in health, its elitist bias was removed and the ‘barefoot doctor’ scheme was developed; in commune life socialisation was encouraged, thereby freeing women from household chores, community care for the aged and children developed, and disease reduced through public hygiene programmes and better nutrition. These new socialist relations were opposed tooth-and-nail by the capitalist roaders, who sought to sabotage the process by tempting a section of the people with material incentives and by private gains through the market.

Bhattacharya’s first point after the introduction is that “Deng never negated Marxism,” that the CPC’s vision changed, but that “Xi Jinping facing new objective conditions distinct from Deng is taking a distinct path.” He also argues that “Mao, Deng and Xi actually represent the response of Chinese leadership to different material conditions” and declares wildly that “communists around the globe must accept this success of the Chinese Communist Party and must unite to become a formidable force in global politics,” two elements which have no connection with each others.

While there is no doubt that Xi and Deng are taking different paths than Mao, it is incorrect to say that Deng “never negated Marxism” and that there is a continuity of Chinese leadership from Mao through to Xi at the present, as this denies that there was clearly a change in 1976. Hu Yaobang even admitted in July 1981 that there is not a continuity from Mao. This is indicated in the fact he portrayed himself and his revisionist compatriots, like  Deng, as the saviors of China, bringing “order out of chaos, carrying on our cause and forging ahead,” working to “undo all the negative consequences of the “cultural revolution”” at the same time he claimed to advance the “great cause” pioneered by the CPC under Mao’s leadership and “facilitate the Chinese people’s way to socialism and communism.” Hu added that “history will prove that it too was a meeting of paramount importance for our Party—a new milestone for our Party and state in the course of bringing order out of chaos, carrying on our cause and forging ahead” while admitting, in a sense that Mao’s China, as to call it, was the “most radical social change in Chinese history.” But he also said, with his clear ideological retelling of Chinese history meant to rope in those whom had been loyal to the Chinese government before 1976,

However, Comrade Mao Zedong had his shortcomings and mistakes just like many other outstanding figures in the forefront of the march of history…Thus, he inevitably made mistakes, including the comprehensive, long drawn-out and gross blunder of initiating the “cultural revolution“; this was a tremendous misfortune for the Party and the people….before the “cultural revolution“ and at the time of its inception, the Party failed to prevent Comrade Mao Zedong’s erroneous tendency from growing more serious but, instead, accepted and approved of some of his wrong theses…Although Comrade Mao Zedong made grave mistakes in his later years, it is clear that if we consider his life work as a whole, his contributions to the Chinese revolution far outweigh his errors….Even in the last few years of his life, when his errors had become very serious, Comrade Mao Zedong still remained alert to the nation’s independence and security and had a correct grasp of the new developments in the world situation…The important thing is to be good at learning through practice once a mistake has been made, to wake up in good time and endeavour to correct it, to strive to avoid a blunder [like the Cultural  Revolution] which is long-drawn-out and comprehensive in character, and to avoid repetition of the same grievous blunder…our Party must pay attention to remoulding itself…With widespread popular support, our Party smashed at one stroke the Jiang Qing counter-revolutionary clique in October 1976…The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee held in December 1978 marked a decisive turning point in the post-1949 history of our Party…our Party has been working hard with concentrated energy and attention and under difficult and complex conditions, and has adopted and implemented step by step a series of major policy decisions in ideological, political and organizational matters and all aspects of socialist construction, thus correcting the erroneous “Left“ orientation… With the implementation of the Party’s policies, the introduction of the system of production responsibilities and the development of a diversified economy…This gives a powerful impetus to the consolidation and development of a political situation of stability, unity and liveliness…The Party’s prestige, grievously damaged during the “cultural revolution“, is gradually being restored…We have yet to finish the process of correction, and in various fields many problems remain to be solved…The road before us is still long and tortuous…Although our Party’s fine style of work was corroded by the counter-revolutionary cliques of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing…We lay stress on self-reliance and strive to solve our problems by our own efforts and treasure our own experience. But we must never be conceited and underrate the experience of others. We should through analysis absorb whatever is useful in others’ experience and lessons…Our Party’s fighting strength lies in its vitality and strict discipline. Now that we are committed to the socialist modernization of the country and our task is most challenging and difficult, we have still greater need to promote this fine Party tradition…It is now a pressing strategic task facing the whole Party to build up a large contingent of revolutionary, well-educated, professionally competent and younger cadres.

We then get to Bhattacharya’s second set of points. He prefaces this by talking about what he describes as the first decade of “colonial industrial capitalism” in the 20th century, led to”deep crisis” with automation and centralization of production with the rise of “newer industrialized countries were rising and challenging older industrialized countries.” He follows this by talking about the creation of the Soviet Union and its “planned resource allocation under state ownership” which helped the country “succeed in heavy industries and creating an independent weapon producing industries.” Following this were communist revolutions in East Europe and China, with the CPC, under Mao’s leadership,  going for “the abolition of feudalism and planned economy.” But Mao also saw that “ensuring state ownership, planned allocation of resources and right to employment was not enough to move towards communism” and he then claims that “Mao criticized Stalin’s view that socialism is a distinct system from capitalism with its own social values and economic laws.” He further declared that “Mao defined socialism as a stage between capitalism and communism with both characteristics of capitalism and communism” and that “only after many cultural revolutions, new communist social values and economic laws can emerge and more that many centuries of struggles are needed.”

This revisionist makes some strong points about Mao and China’s founding. Looking at the proclamation which created the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, it explains the revolution’s victory, and adds that “currently, a basic victory has been won in the people’s liberation war, and the majority of the people in the nation have gained liberation.” It goes onto note that Mao is the chairman of the new government, the vice-chairmen, and committee members, along with other government members. It goes onto say that the new revolutionary government is “willing to establish diplomatic relations with all foreign governments which are willing to follow the principles of equality, reciprocity, and mutual respect of territorial sovereignty.” Even Howard Zinn, a left-leaning historian whom is clearly sympathetic to Trotskyist viewpoints, admits in Chapter 16 of his People’s History of the United States that “in January 1949, Chinese Communist forces moved into Peking, the civil war was over, and China was in the hands of a revolutionary movement, the closest thing, in the long history of that ancient country, to a people’s government, independent of outside control.” That is not the case now, with government involvement in Chinese markets, which props up their form of capitalism.

While one could say that this assessment of Mao’s belief in cultural revolutions was correct, what about the implications that there was a split between Mao and Stalin? This seems questionable. After all, Mao was a person who described Stalin, in December 1939, as “a dear friend” and a person who has “real sympathy with us and regard us as brothers” (he said the same about the Soviet people), adding that:

Only the land of socialism, its leaders and people, and socialist thinkers, statesmen and workers can give real help to the cause of liberation of the Chinese nation and the Chinese people, and without their help our cause cannot win final victory. Stalin is the true friend of the cause of liberation of the Chinese people. No attempt to sow dissension, no lies and calumnies, can affect the Chinese people’s whole-hearted love and respect for Stalin and our genuine friendship for the Soviet Union.

Later in December 1949, Mao extended to Stalin his best wishes for “daily strengthening of the fortress for world peace and democracy under Your Excellency’s leadership.”Around the same time, at a  birthday  celebration held for Stalin, Mao added that “Comrade Stalin is a teacher and friend of the people of the world as well as a teacher and friend of the Chinese people. He has further developed the revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism and has made extremely outstanding and extensive contributions to the cause of world Communist movement” and went onto say that “we hail the great unprecedented solidarity of the working class in the world under the leadership of Comrade Stalin.” Years later, in March 1953, Mao expressed his deepest concern on the severe illness that Stalin contracted  and sent a telegram to the Soviets after Stalin’s death, adding that:

It was with boundless grief that the Chinese people, the Chinese government, and I myself learned the news of the passing away of the Chinese people’s closest friend and great teacher, Comrade Stalin. This is an inestimable loss, not only for the people of the Soviet Union, but for the Chinese people, for the entire camp of peace and democracy, and for peace-loving people throughout the world. On behalf of the Chinese people, the Chinese government, and on my own behalf, I extend to you and to the people and government of the Soviet Union our deepest condolences. The victory of the Chinese people’s revolution is absolutely in separable from Comrade Stalin’s unceasing care, leadership, and support of over thirty years. Since the victory of the Chinese people’s revolution, Comrade Stalin and the people and government of the Soviet Union, under his leadership have rendered generous and selfless assistance to the Chinese people’s cause of construction…Comrade Chairman, the glorious party of Lenin and Stalin and the great people and government of the Soviet Union will certainly have the brotherly confidence and support of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese people, and the Chinese government…I believe that the laboring people and all progressive peace-loving people of the world will take the same path as we do, following the direction pointed out by Comrade Stalin, and take up the sacred cause of protecting world peace.

In April 1956, Mao wrote that “Stalin expressed the will and wishes of the people and proved himself to be an outstanding Marxist-Leninist fighter,” but also publicly aired some criticisms of Stalin. He argued, whether he was fully in the right or not, that:

Stalin erroneously exaggerated his own role and counterposed his individual authority to the collective leadership, and as a result certain of his actions were opposed to certain fundamental Marxist-Leninist concepts he himself had propagated…even so outstanding a personality as Stalin could not avoid making unrealistic and erroneous decisions on certain important matters…During the later part of his life, Stalin took more and more pleasure in this cult of the individual and violated the Party’s system of democratic centralism and the principle of combining collective leadership with individual responsibility. As a result, he made some serious mistakes: for example, he broadened the scope of the suppression of counter- revolution; he lacked the necessary vigilance on the eve of the anti- fascist war; he failed to pay proper attention to the further development of agriculture and the material welfare of peasantry; he gave certain wrong advice on the international communist movement, and, in particular, made a wrong decision on the question of Yugoslavia. On these issues, Stalin full victim to subjectivism and one-sidedness and divorced himself from objective reality and from the masses.

Even so, he added that “Stalin’s works should, as before, still be seriously studied and that we should accept all that is of value in them,” adding that Stalin’s works should be studied in a Marxist manner rather than a doctrinaire way. He also pointed out that:

Some people consider that Stalin was wrong in everything. This is a grave misconception. Stalin was a great Marxist-Leninist, yet at the same time a Marxist-Leninist who committed several gross errors without realizing that they were errors. We should view Stalin from a historical standpoint, make a proper and all round analysis to see where he was right and where he was wrong and draw useful lessons therefrom. Both the things he did right and the things he did wrong were phenomena of the international communist movement and bore the imprint of the times.

We then get to Mao’s “Critique of Stalin’s Economic Problems Of Socialism In The USSR” which this revisionist is likely referring to in his unsourced analysis, which was first published in 1967 then enlarged in 1969. In this critique, Mao  said that

…The laws of the revolution, which used to be doubted by some, have now been proved correct because the enemy has been overthrown. Can socialist construction work? People still have doubts. Does our Chinese practice conform to the economic laws of China? This has to be studied. My view is that if the practice conforms generally, things will be all right…With respect to the creating of socialist economic forms we have the precedent of the Soviet Union and for this reason should do a bit better than they. If we ruin things it will show that Chinese Marxism does not work. As to the difficulty and complexity of the tasks, things are no different from what the Soviet Union faced…The existence of two kinds of ownership is the main premise for commodity production. But ultimately commodity production is also related to the productive forces. For this reason, even under completely socialized public ownership, commodity exchange will still have to be operative in some areas…Commodity production is not an isolated thing. Look at the context: capitalism or socialism. In a capitalist context it is capitalist commodity production. In a socialist context it is socialist commodity production. Commodity production has existed since ancient times…In capitalist society there are no socialist institutions considered as social institutions, but the working class and socialist ideology do exist in capitalist society. The thing that determines commodity production is the surrounding economic conditions. The question is, can commodity production be regarded as a useful instrument for furthering socialist production? I think commodity production will serve socialism quite tamely. This can be discussed among the cadres…Let us not confuse the problem of the dividing line between socialism and communism with the problem of the dividing line between collective and public ownership. The collective ownership system leaves us with the problem of commodity production, the goal of which is consolidating the worker-peasant alliance and developing production. Today there are those who say that the communism of the peasants is glorious. After one trip to the rural areas they think the peasantry is simply wonderful, that they are about to enter paradise, that they are better than the workers. This is the surface phenomenon. We shall have to see if the peasants really have a communist spirit, and more than that, we shall have to examine the commune ownership system, including the extent to which the means of production and subsistence belong to communal collective ownership. As the county party committee secretary of Hsiuwu, Honan, said, we still have to develop commodity production, and not charge blindly ahead.

Even this does not prove that Mao was criticizing the claimed view of Stalin that  “socialism is a distinct system from capitalism with its own social values and economic laws,” an assertion which again is unsourced and such has no standing value. Additionally, the 1969 piece, as above quoted, never says, not even one time that socialism was a “stage between capitalism and communism with both characteristics of capitalism and communism.” We know that in the early  1960s, in his “Reading Notes On The Soviet Text Political Economy” Mao asked about the “the transition from capitalism to socialism…[and] the transition from socialism to communism,” he also added  that

Socialism must make the transition to communism. At that time there will be things of the socialist stage that will have to die out. And, too, in the period of communism there will still be uninterrupted development. It is quite possible that communism will have to pass through a number of different stages. How can we say that once communism has been reached nothing will change, that everything will continue “fully consolidated,” that there will be quantitative change only, and no partial qualitative change going on all the time. The way things develop, one stage leads on to another, advancing without interruption. But each and every stage has a “boundary.”…on the ideological front, when we will have come through uninterrupted quantitative changes and partial qualitative changes, the day will arrive when we will be completely free of the influence of capitalist ideology. At that time the qualitative changes of ideological remoulding will have ended, but only to be followed by the quantitative changes of a new quality…But to say that socialist construction has a boundary hardly means that we do not want to take the next step, to make the transition to communism. It is possible to divide the transition from capitalism to communism into two stages: one from capitalism to socialism, which could be called underdeveloped socialism; and one from socialism to communism, that is, from comparatively underdeveloped socialism to comparatively developed socialism, namely, communism. This latter stage may take even longer than the first. But once it has been passed through, material production and spiritual prosperity will be most ample. People’s communist consciousness will be greatly raised, and they will be ready to enter the highest stage of communism…The transition from one stage of communism to another is also. Then there is technological revolution and cultural revolution. Communism will surely have to pass through many stages and many revolutions…For now we are speaking of communist society as divided into two stages, a lower and a higher. This is what Marx and his circle foresaw based on conditions of social development at that time. After entering the higher stage communist society will develop into a new stage, and new goals and tasks will assuredly present themselves

Again, like the other pieces by Mao, it is absurd to say that he believes that socialism was a “stage between capitalism and communism with both characteristics of capitalism and communism.” As such, usage of Mao’s words by revisionists to justify capitalist order disguised by a superficial and rhetorical support of Marxism is not only disgusting but it is dishonoring Mao himself. Perhaps revisionists should remember what Mao said about distinguishing capitalist and socialist enterprises in light of SOEs (state-owned enterprises) in China which operate on a profit model:

All enterprises in capitalist countries put this principle into effect. There should be a basic distinction between the principles governing management of socialist and capitalist enterprises. We in China have been able to distinguish our methods strictly from capitalist management by putting into effect factory leader responsibility under the guidance of the party.

We then get to Bhattacharya’s third set of points in a section of his article  titled”Deng Era.” He begins this section by arguing that in the 1970s the West was undergoing  “tremendous change,” using debt to create demand, with state  involvement said to be “inefficient,” while Western countries started “exporting its manufacturing base to Third World countries for making more profit by using the latter’s cheap labour while them-selves started to make a profit by asset trading.” Then, he claims that Deng was a genius (basically) who “understood the opportunity of getting Western technology, capital and market to industrialize China quickly” and that he “took the opportunity.” This revisionist then sneers with his self-righteous sword that “many people across the globe thought that Deng was moving towards capitalism” but that Deng  was  actually “reacting to the changed material condition.” After this, he claimed that at that time “consumers became more important than labourers” which sounds like something which would come out of the mouth of a capitalist who wants to sell new cheap products, with planned obsolescence, which are utter crap, to the masses. This revisionist must forget what the Editorial Departments of Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) and Hongqui (Red Flag), China argued in July 1964, not surprising for an individual like himself:

Marxism-Leninism and the practice of the Soviet Union, China and other socialist countries all teach us that socialist society covers a very, very long historical stage. Throughout this stage, the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat goes on and the question of “who will win” between the roads of capitalism and socialism remains, as does the danger of restoration of capitalism…Throughout the stage of socialism the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie in the political, economic, ideological and cultural and educational fields cannot be stopped. It is a protracted, repeated, tortuous and complex struggle. Like the waves of the sea it sometimes rises high and sometimes subsides, is now fairly calm and now very turbulent. It is a struggle that decides the fate of a socialist society. Whether a socialist society will advance to communism or revert to capitalism depends upon the outcome of this protracted struggle. The class struggle in socialist society is inevitably reflected in the Communist Party. The bourgeoisie and international imperialism both understand that in order to make a socialist country degenerate into a capitalist country, it is first necessary to make the Communist Party degenerate into a revisionist party. The old and new bourgeois elements, the old and new rich peasants ad the degenerate elements of all sorts constitute the social basis of revisionism, and they use every possible means to find agents within the Communist Party. The existence of bourgeois influence is the internal source of revisionism and surrender to imperialist pressure the external source…The characteristic of this revisionism is that, denying the existence of classes and class struggle, it sides with the bourgeoisie in attacking the proletariat and turns the dictatorship of the proletariat into the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie…the founders of Marxism pointed out that the transition from capitalism, from class to classless society, must depend on the dictatorship of the proletariat and that there is no other road…In socialist society, class contradictions still remain and class struggle does not die out after the socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of production. The struggle between the two roads of socialism and capitalism runs through the entire stage of socialism. To ensure the success of socialist construction and to prevent the restoration of capitalism, it is necessary to carry the socialist revolution through to the end on the political, economic, ideological and cultural fronts. The complete victory of socialism cannot be brought about in one or two generations; to resolve this question thoroughly requires five to ten generations or even longer…It is perfectly clear that according to Marx and Lenin, the historical period throughout which the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat exists, is not merely the period of transition to the first stage of communism, as alleged by the revisionist Khrushchov clique, but the entire period of transition from capitalism to “complete communism”, to the time when all class differences will have been eliminated and “classless society” realized, that is to say, to the higher stage of communism…The dictatorship of the proletariat is the form of the state in the entire period of transition from capitalism to the higher stage of communism, and also the last form of the state in human history. The withering away of the dictatorship of the proletariat will mean the withering away of the state…That is to stay, in the higher stage of communism proletarian democracy will wither away along with the elimination of classes and the withering away of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

This sort of theory, for this confused and disoriented revisionist, goes in one ear and goes out the other, just as you would expect!

Th argument of this revisionist goes on to claim that capitalism is transforming itself as a result of a crisis of overproduction, which “presented China a historical opportunity clearly noted by Deng in his thesis.” He claims this means that China would keep its “communist leadership” and state enterprises in a leading role, and would “be able to invest more in infrastructures and move to higher value chain than liberal democracies which are dominated by the private sector.” But, state ownership does not equal socialism. Many capitalist countries have state ownership. For instance, the BBC is owned by the capitalist British state just as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Federal Prison Industries, and the United States Postal Service (USPS) owned by the capitalist U$ state. So this revisionist is speaking like a true capitalist, from the distorted Chinese perspective, of course. This revisionist goes onto declare that “deng also clearly understood that in the global supply chain, capital can move from a country of a higher wage to the country of lower wage and thus reducing working class bargaining power across the globe significantly.” They further add that “once China will raise its per capita income to the levels of imperialist countries of the West, other Third World countries will start following China.”

This is a laughable argument to say the least, as it assumes that China has a pull on a part of the world and can command a change in the capitalist system. This revisionist must forget what Mao said in January 1940, firstly that the Chinese revolution must go through democratic revolution first then the socialist revolution, and secondly that communism must NOT be folded up as it would mean that China will be doomed, its current situation:

The introduction of scientific communism into China has opened new vistas for people and has changed the face of the Chinese revolution. Without communism to guide it, China’s democratic revolution cannot possibly succeed, let alone move on to the next stage. This is the reason why the bourgeois die-hards are so loudly demanding that communism be “folded up”. But it must not be “folded up”, for once communism is “folded up”, China will be doomed. The whole world today depends on communism for its salvation, and China is no exception.

But this revisionist will not stop with their capitalist-like thinking, declaring that “as wage rate difference will reduce between Third World and imperialist West, the bargaining power of the working class will rise again.” They follow this by saying that supposedly this would mean that “then the working class will become stronger than ever across the globe” and claim that “Deng predicted China will narrow the gap with imperialist countries in terms of per capita income and wage rate by 2049,” adding that supposedly, “after 2049, most countries will start following the socialist mode of China and global working class will be stronger than ever before.”

Let’s say this argument had merit. It would mean that there would have been 71 years of suffering of the Chinese proletariat (1978-2049) in the time it takes for the “bargaining power” of the proletariat to “rise again.” Is that worth it? I would say not. Additionally, such prediction of the future is clearly un-Marxist as it assumes that this development is inevitable, which leads into an area of absurdity and arguments which are like a house of cards which can be blown away with one deep breath of force. Even the late Samir Amin, a famed Marxist theorist, who claimed it was wrong to claim China was “socialist” or “communist” because it has its own pathway, admitted that Deng made a “decision to dissolve the Communes, refuting the narrative by some, including, I believe, the Chinese state, that it came from “below.” Even as he clearly sympathized with China, he admitted that there is capitalist brutality in China, even though he said that “state capitalism” is an unavoidable establishment:

It is indeed capitalism in the sense that the relation to which the workers are subjected by the authorities who organize production is similar to the one that characterizes capitalism: submissive and alienated labor, extraction of surplus labor. Brutal forms of extreme exploitation of workers exist in China, e.g., in the coal mines or in the furious pace of the workshops that employ women. This is scandalous for a country that claims to want to move forward on the road to socialism.

While he then claimed that there has been “state capitalism” in China since the beginning (1950), which I’m not sure I agree with, he did admit that there has yet been “the reorganization of labor from the perspective of socialization of economic management.” I will bring in Amin’s other arguments in response to this confused revisionist later on in this post as I do not wish to repeat my points.

This revisionist ends this section by saying that, “China began to industrialize itself using capital and technology from the USA, Europe and Japan while the USA continues to take debt from China and other countries and generate demand for Chinese made products.” He follows this by adding that “The process started in the 1980s but after the 2007-08 global financial crisis, this process came under severe doubts,” and saying that “China’s economy has grown to more than the USA’s in purchasing power parity. China’s economy becoming too big to rely on debt created demand of the US economy.” He ends by saying that “the USA also found itself indebted to a lot of countries and as its asset trading business in crisis, people started to question the deindustrialization process that went side by side with the growth of asset trading in the USA,” declaring this means that “the crisis is back in Western capitalism,” rather than global capitalism as a whole!

This is where Amin’s arguments come back in. He argued that China entered capitalist globalization starting in the 1990s through “the path of the accelerated development of manufactured exports possible for its productive system, giving first priority to exports whose rates of growth then surpassed those of the growth in GDP” with a subsequent triumph of “neoliberalism,” as he calls it, from 1990 to 2005. He adds that this led to negative ” political and social effects” making this choice questionable. This puts into question the argument by this revisionist that China is now on top by, in Amin’s words, efforts by the Chinese themselves and “the opening to foreign capital.” This revisionist is further justifying “China’s integration into globalization” even if you argue it is only “partial” as Amin claimed. He also adds that China is an “emerging power,” claiming it has not pursued the “capitalist path of development pure and simple” and that “this project remains sovereign insofar as China remains outside of contemporary financial globalization.” Even with these arguments which would sit well with revisionists, he has to admit that there is inequality in China, although he downplays this, going onto say that capitalists are growing in their strength:

Subsequently, beginning in 1990 with the opening to private initiative, a new, more powerful, right made its appearance. It should not be reduced simply to “businessmen” who have succeeded and made (sometimes colossal) fortunes, strengthened by their clientele—including state and party officials, who mix control with collusion, and even corruption. This success, as always, encourages support for rightist ideas in the expanding educated middle classes. It is in this sense that the growing inequality…is a major political danger, the vehicle for the spread of rightist ideas, depoliticization, and naive illusions.

He goes onto argue that the “Chinese peasantry of petty producers,” but not small property owners, has leftist ideas, saying that “the left has its organic intellectuals and it exercises some influence on the state and party apparatuses”  but goes onto say that “assessing the progress of rightist ideas within the party and its leadership…Mao unleashed the Cultural Revolution to fight it.” Of course, just like the CPC, he declares that the Cultural Revolution “subsequently deviated into anarchy, linked to the loss of control by Mao and the left in the party over the sequence of events.” He later adds that Chinese authorities use language on “international questions” which is, at times, “restrained in the extreme” leads to problems, while also admitting that rightist ideas hold sway in the existing Chinese leadership:

Yet today, how should China begin to reconstruct the equivalent of a new mass line in new social conditions? It will not be easy because the power of the leadership, which has moved mostly to the right in the Communist Party, bases the stability of its management on depoliticization and the naive illusions that go along with that. The very success of the development policies strengthens the spontaneous tendency to move in this direction. It is widely believed in China, in the middle classes, that the royal road to catching up with the way of life in the opulent countries is now open, free of obstacles; it is believed that the states of the triad (United States, Europe, Japan) do not oppose that; U.S. methods are even uncritically admired; etc. This is particularly true for the urban middle classes, which are rapidly expanding and whose conditions of life are incredibly improved. The brainwashing to which Chinese students are subject in the United States, particularly in the social sciences, combined with a rejection of the official unimaginative and tedious teaching of Marxism, have contributed to narrowing the spaces for radical critical debates.

He ends by talking about social programs in China and remains relatively optimistic. With this, we get to Bhattacharya’s next set of points, within a section on “the Xi era,” which could be said to either begin in December 2012 when he was chosen as General Secretary of the CPC or March 2013 when he assumed the Presidency of China itself. He begins by saying that “Xi Jinping came to lead China in this critical situation,” declaring that “he and his comrades understood that the old system of globalization cannot go on” because they supposedly released that “Since the USA will no longer be able to generate enough demand for Chinese products and so the curse of overproduction is on the Chinese economy now.” Now, before moving onto his other points later in this section, I think it is worth bringing in what Fred Engst told Onurcan Ülker: that the only reason that China was able to rise after 1976 in the era of imperialism was that “it maintained its sovereignty” with the economic base which was “built in Mao’s era” laying the foundation “for a sovereign capitalist development.” This means, as Engst points out, “to develop on a capitalist basis, a Third World country needs socialism first”! He further adds that “China’s relative economic success after Reform, compared to other Third World countries, is because it has sovereignty,” going onto say that “a coherent, indigenous, all-around economic base is the key for China to re-emerge in the capitalist world and become a rising industrial power.” He also adds that land reform in the Maoist era which “gave each Chinese peasant a piece of land” is fundamentally the “key to cheap labor in China,” further noting that:

What China actually does is steal technology. China taxes significant advantage of its ability to pirating technologies. The reason China has been developing much faster than other Third World countries is because it uses the strength of its sovereign base—in economics, politics, and the military—to narrow the technology gap and innovate rapidly…Today, the reason why labor costs are rising in China is precisely because urbanization. Local governments and real estate speculators have been forcing farmers off of the land, so they can build industrial areas. And once you force the farmers off of the land to the urban settings, their wage has to be higher than before to make it possible for them to survive. So the urbanization drive by the government is increasing the cost of labor in China today.

This means that today, as Engst puts it, China, is, today, “an industrialized capitalist country where the capitalist class is in power.” Again, when Bhattacharya says that Xi led China at a”critical situation” and that he, and his compatriots, realized that the “old system of globalization cannot go on” because the U$ was supposedly “no longer be able to generate enough demand for Chinese products” leading to a curse of overproduction for the Chinese economy, one cannot even factually address this point as the whole post itself is, once again, unsourced. Where is such an analysis coming from? This revisionist never says, leading to their ultimate folly. After all, as fayafi said on rhizzome, China is “instrumental to the evils of international capital.” [3]

Even so, he claims that this economic dilemma existed, saying that China had a choice of how to “react.” He said that one way was to follow the path of the West (and U$) by doling out debt in order to “inflate asset prices and profit from asset trading and export its manufacturing base to some other less developed Third World countries.” With this, he declared that China “does not have any petrodollar type credit channels and its impossible for China to make one” and went onto declare that “China has neither a history of global domination nor it is interested in.” He then added that as such, “China can never have an unlimited inflow of real external debt, unlike the USA” and claimed that “another shortcoming of this step is that China will then face similar problems of deindustrialization USA is facing today.” All this requires a proper response, of course, which is noted in the paragraphs that follow.

His sentiment is the same as those who declare that China is “building 2st century socialism” or that there is no “political element to Chinese investment overseas besides getting more money to own the yankees” to quote from two users on rhizzome. To quote from another user on the same site, who was partially sympathetic to China, he admitted the following: “there’s no chauvinist idealism in holding china to the principles of a revolutionary tradition that is itself derived from the chinese political experience” and that one can find “undistorted facts…from bourgeois account.” [4] But, this user seems to not have a good grasp of world history. Does he forget that Chinese people suffered under the “same evils” as the Russian people, with Lenin describing it in December 1900:

they suffer from an Asiatic government that squeezes taxes from the starving peasantry and that suppresses every aspiration towards liberty by military force; they suffer from the oppression of capital, which has penetrated into the Middle Kingdom.

How is this not a form of domination? To say that China never had “a history of global domination” is erroneous. Sure, it was not dedicated to such domination during the Maoist period (1949-1976) but that does not mean that forms of domination do not litter other parts of China’s past. This revisionist must also forget how Marx described China in June 1853 in one of his articles for the New York Daily Tribune, specifically saying that the European imperialists had caused the Chinese people to suffer not only through capitalist oppression but the country’s clear loss of sovereignty:

Up to 1830, the balance of trade being continually in favour of the Chinese, there existed an uninterrupted importation of silver from India, Britain and the United States into China. Since 1833, and especially since 1840, the export of silver from China to India has become almost exhausting for the Celestial Empire. Hence the strong decrees of the Emperor against the opium trade, responded to by still stronger resistance to his measures. Besides this immediate economical consequence, the bribery connected with opium smuggling has entirely demoralized the Chinese State officers in the Southern provinces. Just as the Emperor was wont to be considered the father of all China, so his officers were looked upon as sustaining the paternal relation to their respective districts. But this patriarchal authority, the only moral link embracing the vast machinery of the State, has gradually been corroded by the corruption of those officers, who have made great gains by conniving at opium smuggling…opium has obtained the sovereignty over the Chinese, the Emperor and his staff of pedantic mandarins have become dispossessed of their own sovereignty. It would seem as though history had first to make this whole people drunk before it could rouse them out of their hereditary stupidity…all these dissolving agencies acting together on the finances, the morals, the industry, and political structure of China, received their full development under the English cannon in 1840, which broke down the authority of the Emperor, and forced the Celestial Empire into contact with the terrestrial world. Complete isolation was the prime condition of the preservation of Old China. That isolation having come to a violent end by the medium of England, dissolution must follow as surely as that of any mummy carefully preserved in a hermetically sealed coffin, whenever it is brought into contact with the open air…The Chinese, it is true, are no more likely to renounce the use of opium than are the Germans to forswear tobacco. But as the new Emperor is understood to be favourable to the culture of the poppy and the preparation of opium in China itself, it is evident that a death-blow is very likely to be struck at once at the business of opium-raising in India, the Indian revenue, and the commercial resources of Hindostan.

Of course, this revisionist cannot stop in their supposed “analysis” of China. The term “neoliberalism” itself (like other terms) [5] which he is implying, is faulty, invoking “a yearning for a gentler, kinder capitalism of an age now lost.” As such, it is better to call it “International Institutional Monopoly Capitalism” (IIMC). Vu Manh Cuong defined this term simply, writing in Monthly Review Online that:

Since the late 1970s, especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union, this system has reached a new level in its development, forging imperial centralism or “International Institutional Monopoly Capitalism” (IIMC), whereby a handful of powerful nation-states explicitly use international organizations to impose their interests and further expand accumulation…IIMC [is]…the newest term in the evolution of monopoly capitalism…IIMC represents the highest form of the imperialism stage of capitalism, given the increasingly coordination between the monopoly capital and the state within core nations. As a state-formed monopoly capitalism, IIMC has been forcing most economies to participate in its system, regardless of whether those economies are capitalist or socialist (except North Korea)…Under IIMC, advanced capitalist states are even stronger, as far as their economic-political reach, and are able to control international institutions and organizations. Within these core nations, the state uses its strength to support the formation of “super-companies” (the multinational corporations that monopolize one or a number of products/services worldwide), serving the interests of the richest class, while bringing some additional benefits to its broader population. These countries are monopoly nations. Through international institutional settings (e.g., World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization), monopoly capital and monopoly nations extend their influence and power into every corner of the world, even the few remaining socialist strongholds, causing complex conflicts within globalization and regionalization processes…Capital accumulation and the centralization and concentration of capital led to the formation of monopolies (cartels, syndicates, trusts, consortiums, and conglomerates). This fundamental law of capitalism continues to take effect in the IIMC period, albeit at a very high level…The combining of super-companies and states that Lenin analyzed nearly 100 years ago, in which capitalists pivot around political agencies and monopolies, led to the integration of monopoly nations and international institutions/organizations. Thus, under the conditions of IIMC, this integration has crucially influenced the globalization process of the world economy, specifically for the peripheral countries. Although these monopoly nations dominate at different levels and their income is not equivalent, they do not conquer other nations; nonetheless, they help transfer a vast surplus of value from peripheral countries into the core countries…The IIMC built a complex called the “IMNs-United Nation: Specialized Agencies, International Institutions/Organizations, and Region Organizations” (IMNs-InIs). This organization is beyond the scope of previous international institutions. In other words, the IIMC is a combination of the power of super-companies, monopoly nations, and the juridical capacity of the international institutions. Under IIMC, capital globalization has not only strengthened the power of monopoly nations but has simultaneously created the dependence of other states/nations on the world market and finance system, which are dominated by monopoly nations…The IIMC is the final stage of “state-formed monopoly capitalism,” the new form of capitalist production that maintains the existence of capitalism and adapts it to new historical conditions…However, in IIMC, its essential features are poverty and income inequality exports…IIMC has been creating favorable conditions for exporting poverty and income inequality worldwide. Every government of a monopoly nation must practice protectionism because it wants to maintain social-political stability and must therefore satisfy its people economically and successfully obtain support at all domestic levels for decisions related to national defense and security…At the global level, the nature of the relationships among nations in the IIMC is a very complicated “competition and ally matrix,” but they are always under the law of “big fish eat small fish,” in which rivalry prevails among the strongest monopoly nations. The United States has consistently been at the top of the “pyramidal structure.” Stated differently, the state-formed monopoly capital system associated with the IIMC is a three-tier system: (1) the upper monopoly nations dominate the lower monopoly nations in the core and most other nations in the world; (2) the lower monopoly nations also dominate peripheral nations; and (3) the industrialized nations within the periphery dominate the weakest nations…The matrix of the three-tier system was formed world-wide in the 1980s and 1990s after the collapse of Soviet Union and Eastern European countries, the capitalization of the economies in China and Viet Nam, and the outsourcing of production to India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and other newly industrializing countries. In these countries and the other poorest countries, the local capitalized richest class has been emerging due to several main causes such as popularized corruption among politicians and bureaucrats, the process of public asset and common privatization, illegal business by private individuals, and the financial mafia…The result is that under IIMC, there is a gap between the capitalized richest class and the weakest populations of the weakest countries and the divide between countries is rapidly widening.

Taking this into account, China made a choice, a choice to move away from its socialist roots with the ending of the peasant-worker alliance and commualization of agriculture in China, which specifically took place in the country. In this way, they are engaged in their own brand of bourgeois politics. We know that Venezuela has a form of a petrodollar as Aijaz Ahmad wrote about in the past. But there is more than this to take into account. As Leo Zelig noted, so-called “developing” countries (those in the semi-periphery) first took out loans starting in the early 1970s, often given by “the banks that oil exporters had invested in” but by the later 1970s, commodity prices plummeted, “wiping out the major sources of foreign earnings for many governments of the global South.” This led many African economies to rely on export of one or two “primary products,” with those regions which were “already marginal to international capitalism were further marginalized” and as such “massive areas of the world were thrown into bankruptcy.” With economies in the global South in crisis, international institutions which constituted the structure of the global capitalist system, like the World Bank and IMF, formed after World War II, worked to “control and regulate the economies of the South.” The World Bank specifically started issuing loans to such governments starting in the early 1980s but with strict conditions which ultimately developed into “structural adjustment programs,” also called SAPs. These programs required greater inclusion of “national economies into the global market, tariffs protecting local industries where removed, labour protection scrapped and agricultural subsidies removed” and this was all done “in the name of the free market.” So, he’s not wrong that the West was doling out debt, but whose to say the Chinese were not, bit by bit, accumulating their own debt? If you use the data from the IMF, it shows a dramatic rise in government debt from around 20% to over 45% from 1996 to 2017. I use the IMF data because it has been used by revisionists like Stephen Gowans and others, so it does not seem wrong to do so. Some can counter, like babyhueynewton on rhizzome, could say that “leftists twist bourgeois sources to their own purposes” but what is the problem with this fundamentally? Does not everyone of every ideology use sources for their own purposes? How is any different for a radical to so?

We do know that China does not have a channel like a petrodollar, but they could be willing to trade oil for their national currency, yuan, in the case of Saudi Arabia if bourgeois economists have any accuracy in that prediction. This comes at a time that sites have declared that China will “kill” the petrodollar in the past: “Is China Days Away From Killing The Petrodollar?” (Zero Hedge, Mar 21, 2018), “China about to throw down the gauntlet to the petrodollar” (RT, Feb 13, 2018), “Russia & China Declare All Out War on US Petrodollar — Prepare for Exclusive Trade in Gold” (Free Thought Project, July 16, 2017), and “The End Of The Petrodollar? China Unveils Oil-Futures Launch Date” (Zero Hedge, Feb 15, 2018) to give a few examples, which is clear hyperbole to say the least. Additionally, whose to say that China will not have issues with deindustrialization in the future as well?

But, of course, this revisionist would not stop! He went onto say that China, under the leadership of Xi, “came up with a different idea to counter the overproduction crisis,” specifically posing the Belt Road initiative which he declared is “about investing in infrastructure like ports, railways, roads across the globe and help different poor regions to develop and share the prosperity of China.” He further claimed that China has a huge trade surplus, with it still “funding infrastructure worldwide” and that a “long gestation period i.e. non-profitability for a long period of time is often considered to be a great problem for Belt Road Initiative.” They even floated that this “may lead to the indebtedness of many countries to China” but then asked if this would be “a real problem” for China, which seems to be defining the contours of his established “truth.”

Let us not forget, as tears, a user on rhizzome, argued, summarizing the arguments of Marxist-Leninist students in China, they could “simultaneously criticise the CPC and oppose imperialism.” What is the problem with that? Are we to forget about how three CPC declared that the Cultural Revolution was a mistake in June 1981, covered with Marxist-like language? This revisionist may forget that. Take into account what established journalist Sharmine Narwani told Patrick Lawrence in Salon earlier this year, that there may be a “reshuffle in the balance of power in recent years, with Russia, China, Iran in ascendance and Europe and North America in decline,” adding that “the world’s networks are shifting hands, too,” arguing that events in Syria “triggered the great-power battle that unleashed the potential of this new order much more quickly and efficiently.” While I am not as optimistic as Narwani, if we take her logic and say that China is a “great power” then it would put in question, to some extent, if the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was truly helping countries in need but was exploitative. It would rather be exploitative in a different way than agreements pushed on by Western capitalists on the semi-periphery countries, even as it would a net negative. As the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM) argued back in March 2018, “imperialism is a zero-sum game, if a market is dominated by one sphere, it’s lost to another,” adding that “all the countries europe has driven away and scorned and punished, like Hungary and Greece, countries with diametrically opposite regimes…are finding an all-weather friend in China, who doesn’t care about internal politics, doesn’t care so much about the viability of lines of credit, they care about stability for investment.” Even so, does such investment by China necessarily benefit the proletariat of those countries? That is, in some respects, clearly in question. It can be said, with validity, that this initiative is a way, as Aspen Miller put it in July 2014, for “a new capitalist powerhouse” like China to “establish itself as an imperialist power.” While Miller does not mention BRI, they do talk about technocratic concentration in the CPC after Mao with intellectuals going from 8% of party membership in 1979 to 50% of party membership in 1985! It was further argued that not only did Deng era reforms destroy “the astounding progress that had been made in that direction during the first 30 years of the PRC” with private businesses given “significantly more freedom, the communes were dismantled and peasants were encouraged to instead work as family units” but the CPC was “unable to correctly conceptualize class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat.” They ended with perhaps one of the most powerful points of the article as a whole:

While revisionists may pay lip service to this phenomenon, they deny it in practice. They refuse to see that it is not a series of benchmarks which define socialism, but the direction in which a society is ultimately headed. Is it moving towards communism, or is it moving towards capitalism? Which class controls society? Are proletarian politics in command?

But what about his comments about BRI, that it is about investing in infrastructure, helping the world, and it tied to a huge trade surplus of China, even as he admits that there is a long period of “non-profitability” for those countries involved and ideas that this “may lead to the indebtedness of many countries to China,” which be implies is not “a real problem” for China? First I turn to an article by Erebus Wong, Lau Kin Chi, Sit Tsui and Wen Tiejun in Monthly Review back in January 2017, analyzing the initiative which also goes by the name of One Belt, One Road or OBOR. While they are clearly sympathetic to the initiative, calling it a “distinctly Chinese project” about “land power” they admit that presently the “Chinese financial bureaucracy accedes to the unwavering primacy of the United States as the world’s central bank, making it unlikely to question, much less undermine, U.S. leadership in the global order.” So what does this initiative really do, then, if its not challenging U$ imperialism? Even if we accept the claim in this article that the institutions pushed by China like the New Development Bank, BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement, the AIIB, the Silk Road Fund, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are a “regional counterweight” to the IMF, World Bank, and European Central Bank, allowing China to be “the third country in history” after the UK and U$ with “the capacity to shape and lead a global system of finance and trade” there would still be some caveats. For one, as these people admit, “in the foreseeable future, China will not replace the U.S. dollar system” and that China has “consistently promoted the AIIB and other organizations as complements, not competitors, of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB)”! This does not bode well for those who claim that China is some magical crusader striking down the West with a “mighty blow.” Furthermore, there are other issues involved with China, even as these authors admit that China is exporting capital across the world:

In China today, a spirit of utopian capitalism is rampant at all levels of the economy, driven by the belief that as long as state-owned enterprises continually withdraw or dissolve, to be replaced by private firms, then China will be blessed by some miraculous market power with an innovative capacity for high value-added. But without an enormous investment in systematic research and development, it is unclear how scattered concentrations of private capital in China could make such advances in the near future. Consequently, China’s currency is unlikely to challenge the U.S. dollar, or even the Euro. Ironically, the single force that seems most likely to bring down the U.S. dollar is the increasingly virtualized U.S. financial system itself. In exporting capital over the past decade, China lacked any overall planning for foreign investment and development, sometimes entangling it in geopolitical crises, as in Libya or Sudan, other times in bureaucratic morasses, as in its role in the Mexican high-speed rail and Sri Lanka harbor projects. This misdirection resulted from the lack of any strong support and coordination from financial organizations like the AIIB. While China has become an important capital-exporting country, it has largely avoided entering into explicit political or financial alliances that might protect its large-scale foreign investments. With the establishment of the New Development Bank and the AIIB, however, China’s financial ties to neighboring nations have become more formal and far-reaching. From this perspective, they represent the kind of transnational institutional construction needed to give greater focus and strategic leverage to China’s capital exports.

They further noted that European allies of the U$ are not “jumping ship from the U.S. dollar-dominated system just yet, but only hedging their bets,” and wonder if China, which they define as “large industrial country just entering the phase of financial capitalism, increasingly roiled by domestic disturbances” is up to the task of overseeing the “development of a new global financial alliance” to prevent another financial crisis. They add that there will need to be “careful planning and keen strategy for China to find its best position in this changing global order,” adding that from the 1980s to 2000s, with “rapid growth” which undoubtedly benefited a growing bourgeoisie, China kept “a low diplomatic profile relative to its size and strength” which would need to change.

All of this connects back to BRI. How? Well, the official ideology behind it, in their summation is peaceful development, or more specifically the sponsoring of “infrastructure investments and facilitate economic development, promoting cooperation and minimizing conflict” which they argue is more sustainable and sensible than “American-style militarized “security.”” However, they note that this “peaceful development” discourse has problems, because it raises the question of whether AIIB can not only avoid damage that the World Bank and other instruments of international capital have done to indigenous peoples and the environment as a whole, whether China can promote “infrastructure investments that drive local development through diversity and sustainability” rather than simply serving China’s “need for export outlets.” This is, as they put it, a challenge to ensure that the Silk Road Fund and AIIB, which seem to enforce BRI, do not simply become “East Asian counterparts of the IMF and World Bank” but rather China itself must “promote a message of social justice and equitable development to counter the soft power of institutional transition that the United States has pushed since the 1980s.” Is that possible? Its hard to say, as they note that China continues to “absorb excess capacity through rapid urbanization without regard for rural culture or ecological sustainability” and question that if China’s government “fails to address the severe social contradictions” within their society, then their slogans of developmental policy based on infrastructure will “have little persuasive power overseas.” These authors are optimistic, saying that in the last few decades of industrialization, the Chinese countryside became a “labor reserve” source, with the state relying on the “peasants, villages, and agriculture,” the so-called “three rurals” or sannong, as a foundation of the country’s “turbulent but continuous modernization.” They end by saying that China should look inward to the focus on collective needs within Chinese rural/agricultural society as a “guide to the future.” But this optimism is clearly misplaced.

This revisionist will not stop with his faulty arguments. He argues that China can endure a long period of profit losses and that surplus value appropriation in the county is like the West in that it is “essentially capitalist,” a value which is created from wage labor through the “ownership of machines and other means of production.” He further argues that while in the West the usage of this surplus value is decided by the capitalist class, in China it is decided by the communist party leadership.

To counter these points, as they apply to China, let’s first go with the latest number of members said to be, on paper, in the CPC: 88.7 million. Those whom are members have to be at least 18 years of age, must send in an application letter, then attend “party courses…take and pass written tests,” then submit more materials to their specific party branch, which includes personally-identifiable information including the political affiliations of parents and employment, with probationary membership lasting one year, and then having to “take an oath in front of the party flag before officially joining the party.” This process has led people like Deng to even conceal if certain individuals were party members, like Rong Yiren, a person who stayed in China after the revolution and was called the “Rockefeller of the Middle Kingdom” by The Independent with his family becoming one of the main beneficiaries of Deng’s capitalist reforms. [6] Yiren, who became a party member in July 1985 (revealed only after his death in October 2005), also founded the China International Trust Investment Company (CITIC), even called a “model capitalist” in China Daily, after serving as a so-called “patriotic capitalist” from 1949 to 1956, but then handing over his enterprises to Chinese government country in 1956, but was rightly targeted during the Cultural Revolution due to his “bourgeois background” even though he had previously been Shanghai’s deputy mayor (1957-1959) and the Vice Minister overseeing the textile industry (1959-1966). He was even later appointed, in March 1993, the Vice President of China, which served as until March 1998. The New York Times, who noted that he was a close advisor and friend to Deng, called him “perhaps modern China’s first billionaire” who liked to call “himself an entrepreneur rather than a capitalist” which is never a good sign. He was said to be a person who “played a very clever and very Chinese game.” Just take how the Chinese government describes him (through Xinhua), as a literal and disgusting capitalist (which they see as a positive), although the claim he was a fighter for communism is completely absurd:

Rong was vice president of the People’s Republic of China from 1993 to 1998. He was also vice chairman of the 5th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top advisory body, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the 6th and 7th National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, and vice chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce. Rong, a promising national capitalist in the 1940s, gained the reputation as a “red capitalist” shortly after New China was founded in 1949. He was chosen as one of the 50 most charismatic business personalities in the world by the American fortnightly magazine Fortune in 1986. Rong was born to a prestigious family in the country’s industrial and commercial circle…the Rongs had become a leading family of national capitalism by the 1940s, owning dozens of textile, machinery, printing and dyeing works and flour mills across the country. They were thus referred to as “cotton yarn tycoon” and “flour king” in and out of China. In 1979, shortly after China launched its reform and opening updrive, then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping personally put Rong in charge of establishing corporations which can serve as “a window” for the country’s opening up to the outside world. Thus, there emerged the China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC), a large transnational corporation with its assets totaling over 51 billion yuan (6.3 billion US dollars) and affiliated enterprises exceeding 200. Rong was chairman of the board of CITIC. Rong was officially praised as an “outstanding representative of the national industrial and commercial circle in modern China,”a “superb state leader,” and a “great fighter for patriotism and communism.”

Now, back to the CPC. In 2013, Xinhua reported that 44% of the “new members” were reportedly “frontline workers, such as industrial employees, farmers, herders and migrant staff.” Some may cheer, but consider that even though 30% of the party (25.35 million) was said to comprise of “farmers, herders and fishers,” 8.5% (7.25 million) were “industrial workers,” 8.4% (7.16 million) work in “Party and state agencies,” almost 24% (20.20 million) were “managerial staff and professional technicians working in enterprises and nonprofit organizations” and about 3.4%  (2.91 million) are students. The only problem is the percentages listed above only add up to 74.3%. The only other percentages listed in the article are for women (24%, numbering over 20 million) and those from “ethnic minority groups” (about 7%, numbering about 6 million). This would bring the percentages to 105.3%, meaning that these calculations are slightly off.

Still, plugging this into ChartGo, with the chart shown above, indicates that a large chunk of those whom are members are in the petty bourgeoisie, 32.4% if you county those who work in state and CPC agencies or are professional technicians and managerial staff. This number itself is likely a low-ball estimate as over 40% (34.09 million) were said to have obtained “degrees in higher education institutions.”This does not bode well  for his argument that surplus value is decided by the communist party leadership. How can the CPC even serve the proletariat effectively if have a ingrained “overtime working culture” especially in the IT industry, where capitalists are respected as voices that can sway the Chinese economy? Global Times recently admitted this on April 14th even as they took a weakish position against overtime for workers :

With internet magnates including Alibaba founder Jack Ma and CEO of JD.com Richard Liu weighing in, discussions on the 996 work schedule, where the workday begins at 9 am and finishes at 9 pm, six days a week, have gotten even more heated, attracting a slew of celebrities to join in the discussion. The debate has led to attention on two values: One is the spirit of working hard to succeed; the other is respect for workers’ rights to rest and leisure time…Objectively speaking, for Chinese society to move forward, it needs the spirit of struggle embodied in those entrepreneurs as well as workers who dedicate themselves to their job and never get tired of long working hours. Without them, the Chinese economy is very likely to lose vitality and impetus. However, we firmly believe that a 996 schedule should not be universally encouraged in the workplace...Of course, it is inevitable that some key members will have to work overtime during special periods or for special tasks. As competition gets fiercer, it is necessary that employees are able to bear challenging tasks. But overtime should not be made mandatory as the basis for the company’s competitiveness…The rights of companies’ leaders and senior executives are different from those of ordinary employees, and so are their obligations…The criticism about the 996 schedule has positive significance…China is in a period of historical transition toward a rich and strong society. The whole country, including some of our outstanding conglomerates, is facing daunting challenges. We believe the Labour Law and market adjustments will play a role in helping us overcome the transition period and bring changes. We call on Chinese companies to attach importance to the irreversible changes that are taking place in social production, actively respond to them and make adjustments accordingly.

The same can be said when capitalists like Jack Ma are literal members of the CPC, with Global Times defending this by first pointing out that the same day the CPC published a list of 100 people who made “outstanding contributions to China’s reform and opening-up,” whom are likely to be mostly capitalists, then wondering why “private entrepreneurs [cannot] be Communist Party members.” Not only did they say that that capitalists were allowed into the CPC and that their party activities do not conflict with their profit-making but defined these capitalists as the “advanced productive forces” [7]:

There was a time in China when private entrepreneurs were considered the exploiting class. They became a new social stratum after reform and opening-up. Before the 16th National Congress of the CPC in 2002, they could not join the Party. With their increasing contribution to China’s economic development, the Party adjusted the definition of the group. In an amendment to the Party Constitution made during the 16th National Congress, they were defined as an advanced element of other social strata. Whether to become a Party member is a free choice for private entrepreneurs. Nowadays successful private entrepreneurs are superstars of Chinese society. There is no conflict at all between being a Party member and doing business. Ma thanked the reform and opening-up policy for providing a great opportunity for private companies to thrive. Members of the CPC like Ma have helped promote the development of private Chinese enterprises and even the entire nation…More examples can be tossed out, like Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei and Lenovo’s founder Liu Chuanzhi, who are also Party members. The operation of their companies is no different from Western corporations and this has already been proved by their development on the global arena. Meanwhile, these individuals represent China’s advanced productive forces. Thanks to them, China’s reform and opening-up could be efficiently carried out, major high-tech programs could be implemented, the competitiveness of Chinese enterprises could be boosted and people’s living standards could be raised.

Apart from apparent sentiment among the Chinese people which is not against a 12-hour-a-day workday or Chinese capitalists seeing BRI as “hugely important or fundamental to their business strategy,” let us consider the size of the CPC itself. First we must take into account the data of the United Nations Population Division, in their “World Population Prospects 2017” for the “China” category, noting that the population is over 1.4 billion. This rises slightly when including the special administrative regions (SAR) of Hong Kong and Macao. If we just use the population of China without the SARs, and take into account the last reported size of the CPC (88.7 million people), as I noted earlier, then the CPC comprises only about 6.24% of the total population. If we use the population of China including the SARs, then the CPC would still comprise only about 6.24% of the population. This, of course, raises the question for how democratic such a party would be, if we accept that it is actually the one that is deciding the usage of the surplus value. The thesis by this revisionist basically is saying that the CPC has more power than the Chinese bourgeoisie, which is absurd to say the least, considering the internal problems within China itself, including a clear accumulation of wealth from 1978 onward.

Of course, this revisionist does not stop there. He declares that the CPC “may enforce” investment which has a “long gestation period,” something that is “highly avoided” by the Western capitalist class, adding that the “Western system is more prone to go for short term profit making but unproductive asset trading” but that China can “go for productive but non-profitable investment with long gestation period.” In his mind this means that China can keep “resource allocation power more hands of State than in hands of private capitalists.” He further claims that the “recent crackdown on top executives of Aubang, Wanda, etc. clearly shows this” and then claims that “most of Belt Road project to be developed by state-owned banks and infrastructural corporations.” On the point of the crackdown on top executives, I could find nothing in Chinese media, only in bourgeois media which relies on “people with knowledge of the action,” which is a weak and pathetic source which has no validity, along with emails “seen” by a newspaper. [8] There was a plunge in the shares of Dalia Wanda Group Co., headed by Chinese capitalist Wang Jianlin, but there is only speculation for why that is the case, not because of a “crackdown.” There have been some measures against such companies, but that does not mean it makes the Chinese socialist, just that they want to control their form of capitalism, with indications as far back in 2017 that China would allow “foreign firms greater access to the market” in the financial services sector. At the same time, we know that Wanda Group recently invested the equivalent of 6.7 billion U$ dollars in the Gansu Province of northwest China for the next three years as a “cultural tourism project” which is part of the BRI!

But what about his claims about investment in China? We know, as an independent magazine in China, Caijing, noted, the market for land is rebounding (original Chinese language article), to give one example. [9] At a time that Chinese firms want to invest within the EU, as a new market, the Italians are rolling out a “welcome mat” for Huawei, a Chinese company, the Peruvians looking forward to an “upgrade” in their so-called “free trade” agreement with China, and some Afghani capitalists are keen on dumping their capital within parts of China, there are questions as to whether his claims about China and its investment are completely valid. What can be said about his claim that China holds more of its resources in the hands of the state than in the West? We know that some of China’s biggest state-owned banks improved their assets in the “first quarter of this year.” In contrast to defenders of China, like colddays on rhizzome, it is better to take the point of Fayafi on the same site as more valid: that it seems questionable that “CPC member and multi-billionaire real estate developer Wang Jialin [is] bequething 500 million RMB to his son to start a private equity firm while people toil, labor and die making gadgets for the global market for pennies an hour” and we are still supposed to say that the Chinese state “is representative of the working class.” Furthermore, to take into account what another user, calling themselves Parenti, argued, the “creation and integration of a bourgeoisie within the party could lead that segment to overthrow the party leadership from the inside.” But back to the issue at hand. I think pescalune, on the same site, makes a convincing argument here, in that he argues that:

What is the benefit for human development, strengthening international capital and China’s strategic interests? What valuable “theory” or “practice” can we trust “China” to develop, and what possible reason is there to believe that China will correct any mistakes they may have? Why must we assume that “China” exists as a single entity with a united class interest when the bourgeoisie there hold significant influence? Do you sincerely believe that the CCP has a real interest in developing socialism of any sort?Poverty relief efforts, environmental regulation overhauls…what does it matter in the longterm as long as it’s strengthening the capitalist class in China, strengthening international capitalism? Is this not the basis of social fascism, mild reform to placate the masses and strengthen the bourgeoisie? I would assume as a communist you would agree that defense of capitalism spells doom for humanity no matter how many regulations are put in place. If harm reduction is all that is desirable (and I assume so, given the reference to China’s “progressive” path) rather than actively seeking to dismantle capitalist relations and promulgate international communism, then may as well be a Democrat or join an NGOOf course we should not oppose the lifting of millions from poverty. But a certain skepticism is warranted about the motivation for doing so, and the enormous inequality that was fostered in China as a result, not just between the Chinese bourgeoisie and proletariat/peasants, but between rural and urban areas….China under Mao, especially during the GPCR, was more than merely a mild improvement or “progressive” alternative to bloodthirsty Empire, but a serious attempt to dismantle capitalist relations and move beyond the limits of the Leninist party. And this was being sought while also improving the lives of the average Chinese person.

At the same time, once again, his claim that China has more “resource allocation power more hands of State than in hands of private capitalists” is not sourced and neither is the claim that “most of Belt Road project to be developed by state-owned banks and infrastructural corporations” so it is hard to sake such strong and unsourced claims seriously. How can they be taken on face value? The fact that revisionists have not picked away at this point shows the relative weakness of this argument.

This revisionist does not stop here, but declares that Western media have it all wrong about BRI, indebting countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka, saying that they were “indebted mostly to Western financial institutions, not China.” He further adds that China has given debt waivers to “Gambia, Zimbabwe and Venezuela” while also they changed, if I am interpreting this right, the “decision of investment in Kenya and Malaysia” according to government request. This if followed by the declaration that many “Third World countries still failed to annihilate feudalism and so their productive potential for industrial development cannot be released yet.” To this, he admits that BRI may  “not be enough for developing these countries but definitely, it can act as a stimulant.” It is here that we can bring in Martin Hart-Landsberg’s so-called “critical look” at BRI which was reprinted on Monthly Review Online. He begins by noting that the Great Recession and subsequent decline in world trade was a “major challenge to the county’s export-oriented growth strategy” and that despite the efforts of the Chinese government, economic growth continued to decline, while there was a promotion of “massive state-supported construction boom tied to a policy of expanded urbanization” which has led to excess infrastructures and facilities. This further building boom was “financed by a rapid increase in debt, creating repayment concerns” with a particular soaring in corporate debt, at a record high, along with a rise in household and government debt as well. As such, with problems recognized, the CPC leadership wanted to maintain existing growth by expanding it outside China’s borders with BRI. After Xi’s election as president, in 2013, as Hart-Landsberg notes, he endorsed BRI but an action plan was not published until 2015. The initial aim of this initiative was to “link China with 70 other countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania” with the recreation of the “old Silk Road land trade route” as the “Belt” and a series of interconnected ports which creayes a “sea-based trade route” or the “Road,” which came into its form with “separate but linked investments in large-scale gas and oil pipelines, roads, railroads, and ports” to say the least. No official BRI has been published because the initiative has continued to change, with Venezuela joining the initiative in 2018 following Uruguay. However, there is a fundamental problem with BRI, as he argues, it is an effort to solve China’s internal problems with “global outreach”, with promotion of Chinese enterprises and Chinese capital:

In brief, the BRI appears to represent nothing less than an attempt to solve China’s problems of overcapacity and surplus capital, declining trade opportunities, growing debt, and falling rates of profit through a geographic expansion of China’s economic activity and processes. Sadly this effort to sustain the basic core of the existing Chinese growth model is far from worker friendly…To achieve its aims, the BRI has largely involved the promotion of projects that mandate the use of Chinese enterprises and workers, are financed by loans that host countries must repay, and either by necessity or design lead to direct Chinese ownership of strategic infrastructure…While BRI investments might temporarily help sustain key Chinese industries suffering from overcapacity, absorb surplus capital, and boost enterprise profit margins, they are unlikely to serve as a permanent fix for China’s growing economic challenges; they will only push off the day of reckoning…Another reason to doubt the viability of the BRI is that a growing number of countries are becoming reluctant to participate because it means that they will have to borrow funds for projects that may or may not benefit the country and/or generate the foreign exchange necessary to repay the loans…Because of these investment requirements, many countries are either canceling or scaling back their BRI projects…A third reason for doubting the viability of the BRI to solve Chinese economic problems is the building political blowback from China’s growing ownership position of key infrastructure that is either the result of, or built into, the terms of its BRI investment activity…The reasons highlighted above make it highly unlikely that the BRI will significantly improve Chinese long-term economic prospects. Thus, it seems likely that Chinese growth will continue to decline, leading to new internal tensions as the government’s response to the BRI’s limitations will likely include new efforts to constrain labor activism and repress wages. Hopefully, the strength of Chinese resistance to this repression will create the space for meaningful public discussion of new options that truly are responsive to majority needs.

But there is a major problem with his analysis: that is broadly rests on the basis of bourgeois media sources like the New York Times (2 times), Financial Times (1 times), Reuters (2 times), along with the South China Morning Post (2 times), Asia Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, scattered bourgeois academics, and bourgeois think-tanks (CSIS and Mercator Institute for China Studies). But, there is a grain of truth in it, when it comes to solving China’s internal problems, which should undoubtedly be considered. It would have been stronger for Hart-Landsberg to use Chinese sources on BRI, which undoubtedly exist, but unfortunately he did not do so.

The revisionist does not stop there. He states that the U$ asked China repeatedly, during the recent trade war to “reduce the role of state-owned enterprises and give more level playing field to private sector citing the fact that the private sector is more profitable” to which China argued that it has the right to “follow its own path of development.” He also claimed they clarified that “state-owned enterprises are less profit making because they are often given duty to generate demand by investing which helps the private sector to remain profitable.” To this, he further adds that “as Chinese reliance on export demand will fall, Chinese reliance of state enterprises to generate demand will rise.” This revisionist clearly is not even giving one cent of consideration to valid arguments like the one of neckwattle on rhizzome: “that the chinese state is more or less led by the bourgeoisie.” But there is more to say. For one, even a bourgeois media article clearly endorsed by revisionists (as it was posted on a revisionist subreddit, swcc) in The Australian, quotes from Xi’s speech in December 2018 where he declared that “China would continue with its strong Communist Party control of its society as it sought to further open up its economy,” with emphasis on Marxist-like language obviously for an ideological purpose to keep the masses thinking that the CPC is on their side, when it clearly isn’t. [10] Now, if we are to accept this as valid, it would mean that the CPC is literally hand-in-glove with Chinese capitalists, taking a clear nationalist position that “no one is in a position to dictate to the Chinese people what should or should not be done” which is a sentiment which has preserved China and its capitalist development since the 1980s.

How these revisionists not concerned about talk over measures to open China’s “door wider to the world” which include topics such as “pensions, healthcare, education, the Belt and Road Initiative, intellectual property rights, free trade zones, finance, state-owned enterprises, institutional reform and innovation” coupled with support of a free trade zone in Shanghai? Are they also not concerned about Xi’s embrace of “expanding market access to foreign capital, increasing imports, lowering tariffs, and strengthening protection of intellectual property rights” in April 2018? Perhaps these revisionists also forgot how China is vowing to strengthen its protection of capitalist property rights (“intellectual property”) and a series of planned reforms and more opening up with expanded market access for foreign investment. Do these revisionists also forget how the New Zealanders, Hungarians, Dutch, and Pakistanis, especially the capitalists among them, are smiling with glee as ties with China are strengthened? How is there not concern that China is integrating itself further, with such connections, with the global capitalist system? Perhaps revisionists have forgotten that the whole capitalist economy is interconnected, tied together like a human knot.

He concluded with his declaration that “China never actually moved away from Marxist approach but changed course as time and material conditions changed” which is absurd and incorrect, as anyone with sense would recognize. He added that “under Xi, state companies will do more infrastructural investments often incurring losses” which is a literally incomprehensible sentence which begs the question: if they are incurring losses, then how is that a positive thing? He then declares, à la the CPC, that only 16 years in the future China would “outcompete the USA not only in production but also in finance and military,” saying that this would “prove” that socialism is “popular across the globe again.” So the world would get socialism by following the defensive efforts of China to defend its markets (coded as “overseas interests”) or cooperation with the capitalist world, like Japan, ROK, Russia, and Australia? That makes no sense at all. How about Mike Whitney,who is sympathetic to China and Russia’s challenges to the U$, who recently declared that not only is “the Belt and Road Initiative is China’s blueprint for a New World Order” but it is “the face of 21st century capitalism“? How can a county engage in such blatant capitalism, yet still be seen as socialist? It baffles even simple logic. If liberals and progressives whom have no basis in Marxism can see China as a non-socialist state, why can’t revisionists also see it? Perhaps because revisionism itself is a distraction to the global proletariat. By following China, there will be no narrowing of the “per capita income gap and wage rate gap with imperialist countries” as he claims, or  “working class revolutions …across the globe again.” Instead there will be competition between capitalists, like Chinese car companies and blossoming of tourism, an enterprise which is so capitalist that it is often Orientalist, especially when conducted by those from the West.

Some may still scoff and say they are not convinced. They may say the same as this dedicated revisionist, declaring, like him, that not only is the “Belt Road Initiative is one way to develop the Third World quickly.” Perhaps they should keep in mind that even this revisionist admits that the “Belt Road Investment is not enough.” They would not like to hear that there is literally “no firm evidence to date of how successful these [Belt and Road] projects have been in fulfilling the expectations of participating belt and road countries, but there are concerns that some projects lack regulation and coordination with existing markets”! Yikes. So, how can this be the “ideal time” for communists across the world to “unite under the leadership of Xi and Communist Party of China,” raising major issues that will help BRI become “a major success in developing Third World.” This revisionist wants you to forget that China is a “worldwide contributor in terms of e-payment infrastructure, solutions and experience,” with roughly “500 million online payment users in China,” with WeChat Pay, founded by Alipay (owned by Tencent and Alibaba Group), processing “about $3 trillion in transactions” in 2016! How is that not capitalist? Supporting revisionist China will NEVER increase the “power of the working class throughout the globe” but will actually weaken it and doom all revolutionary movements for years to come. He can say all he wants that “neoliberal globalization is already dying out” but China is letting it stay around, with toleration of companies like Google as part of their “internet market.” If there is “no strong political ideology strong enough to take the opportunity” and replace such capitalist globalization then how in the world does China follow this path? Again, such a viewpoint by the revisionist is illogical.

In, in the comments below, one seemingly Maoist commenter said “we do not agree with Xi and Deng Xiao Ping his revisionist ideology this stands against everything Chairman Mao stood for” to which he replied by declaring that Deng said that “as long as there is per capita income difference between third world and first world, wage rate for same job will be significantly lower in third world,” further meaning that “thus capital will bargain heavily by moving from country with higher wage and working rights to country of lower wage and working rights.” I did find some information worth noting here. In the first one, in a 1986 interview with Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes, he welcomes Gorbachev’s efforts to undermine the Soviet Union and slyly supports Khmer Rouge by grumbling about Vietnam’s “aggression in Kampuchea,” even wishing Reagan  “good wishes”! Additionally, he claims the only obstacle in U$-China relationship is Taiwan and efforts to “re-unify” it with the mainland, in which case “Taiwan will retain the capitalist system” as he admits! If that’s not enough, he says he understands the “complaints of foreign investors” and working to make the county more business-friendly,while also condemning the cultural revolution (coupled with a bunch of junk about Marxism which is literally meaningless) and falsely claims that “our policy will not lead to polarization, to a situation where the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. To be frank, we shall not permit the emergence of a new bourgeoisie,” even though the opposite happened. As the interview goes on, he condemns the Great Leap Forward, claims he is a Marxist (an utter lie), and admits there are differences between Maoist China and China under his rule, saying that what they are “doing now is in essence a revolution” or in another sense is “an experiment…something new.” The type of “revolution” they were engaged in was a counter-revolution!

Following this is what Deng declared in early 1992 in his talks in Wuchang, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shanghai, praising his “rural reform,” “urban reform,” and establishment of special economic zones (SEZ), even has he still claimed it was “socialist,” even while pushing aside understandable annoyance at concentration of wealth (“many people felt uncomfortable with this man who had made a profit of 1 million yuan. They called for action to be taken against him. I said that no action should be taken”). He called for more “opening to the outside,” experimentation, and reform, with “creativity,” claiming that SEZs are “socialist, not capitalist” because of state investment, falsely making the leap that state ownership automatically means socialism. At the same time, he declared that there should be more kinds of “foreign-invested ventures” and that “there is no reason to be afraid of them” because there are “large and medium-sized state-owned enterprises and the rural enterprises,” yikes! He even scorns those who criticize “more foreign investment flows in and the more [foreign] ventures” in China, saying that capitalism will not spread in China because they are “constrained,” claiming that a gap between the rich and poor will not develop, even though it did. He does admit that his rural reform “introduced the household contract responsibility system with remuneration linked to output and abolished the system of people’s communes”! He seems to also call for expanded consumerism, condemns the Great Leap Forward, calls for rapid development which is inspired by “Japan, South Korea and parts of Southeast Asia,” claims that “intellectuals are part of the working class” even though they are clearly, and generally, the petty bourgeoisie. He ends by calling for “good public order” like Singapore and political stability, claims that China will “never seek hegemony…[and] is a steadfast force for safeguarding world peace” which is wrong.

But this revisionist will not stop. He claims that China is quickly developing and will narrow the per capita income gap, declaring that “China’s rise also helped many raw material selling third world country to have higher raw material prices since China has broken down the monopsony (monopoly as buyer) power of West.” Does this revisionist forget that the Chinese government has literally been calling for the release of a capitalist, Meng, from Canada, and that Xi has emphasized the “soft power” of China over the world?

There actually are some places where Deng does seem to talk about per capita income differentials. In December 1979, when talking with the Japanese Prime Minister, Masayoshi Ohira, he declared that China would not be “backward” and called for higher per capita income in the county, saying that if the country modernizes “China’s domestic markets will be larger and, accordingly, its trade and other economic exchanges with other countries will expand,” adding that even though “some people are worried that if China becomes richer, it will be too competitive in world markets,” be declares this will not happen. Again, he is lying between his teeth with this idea that the “modernization” will rise all boats, and his claim that China will be “too competitive in world markets” has been realized, even though he said it wouldn’t happen. While he barely mentioned the words “per capita,” a few years later in 1982, in 1987 he declared that the revisionists were triumphant after 1978, saying that “this is only a beginning” of such a counter-revolution, although like all who engage in a counter-revolution, he did not call it that.

For this revisionist to say we should “imagine if entire third world develops like China” and claims that “wage rate gap will be lowered and capital will loss bargaining power by moving from higher wage and working rights countries to where there is lower” is absurd and laughable. It is, clearly playing the capitalist’s game. To bring Black feminist and socialist Audre Lorde, the “master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” since they “may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change,” adding that “this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.” A similar way, saying that capital will move to countries with lower wages and workers rights, losing “bargaining power” basically eschews any notion of revolution or of overturning the capitalist system, something that all revolutionaries should reject. As such, this revisionist is completely incorrect to say that as a result the “global working class will regain bargaining power.” In the end,while this revisionist says that “global communists must grasp the opportunity,” it makes more sense for such communists to reject such a false idea, rather grasping the opportunity to stand up against revisionist China while rejecting bourgeois conceptions, standing with the Chinese proletariat, something that revisionists can never be trusted to do, in any way, shape, or form.


Notes

[1] On that thread (which got 40 upvotes), originally posted by u/Gotack2187 a month ago, some are completely in support (like thugloofio, HappyHandel, toiletpapershortage1, gokengt) while others are only sympathetic and have respective criticisms (like THE-SILVER-SERPENT, communistboi420, Shipless_Captain, KanyeFellOffAfterWTT, DoctorWasdarb, krumpkin), with two users seeming to buck this general trend (sovietbismark and RedactedCommie). Also searching on Reddit you find that it was posted on /r/swcc by zombiesingularity one month ago, which got 13 upvotes and /r/socialism with the title “Interesting blog post concerning China in the modern day and the gradual shift of economic power” which got only 4 upvotes. A further internet search finds that this blog was promoted on trendolizer.com, anderspink.com, diasp.eu, joindiaspora.com, framasphere.org, social.gibberfish.org, and naturalnews.com. I guess I have reached some sort of readership myself when my posts have been promoted on chapotraphouse, lol, although most of the times my blog comes up on Reddit it is times I HAVE posted it on those forums.

[2] The Marxists Internet Archive, in their distorted description of the Cultural Revolution, admits that Deng and his compatriots rejected it: “so discredited were the slogans of the ‘cultural revolution’ that in a short time the ‘capitalist roaders’, most notably Hua Guofeng and Deng Xiaoping, rapidly consolidated their power. Deng Xiaoping was eventually to succeed in…the policy of the restoration of capitalism under the political control of the Communist Party.”

[3] This, and other quotes from Rhizzome come from a thread on rhizzone titled “Y’know, I’m starting to think that the People’s Republic of China isn’t all that communist after all” with the last post on March 24th.

[4] This same user said that “highlighting the PRCs commitment to principles of self-determination in the context of repressive policies against a national minority is making my head spin” which is a valid point!

[5] Admittedly I have used without as much thought as I should have given it, writing about the “neoliberal phase of modern capitalism which is fundamentally racist“, that the “mismanagement of the economy by the bourgeoisie of Zimbabwe combined with the overwhelming effect of Western sanctions, with the U$ sanctions still remaining in place currently, will lead to political change that benefits Western capitalists, with undoubted neoliberal destruction…it is clear that the neoliberalism that the current Zimbabwe government embodies is not unique to itself”; that “everyone seems to acknowledge the [Syrian] 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“; that, summarizing the argument of an individual on Global Research, “he concludes by saying that unless such neoliberal policies are reversed then Iran’s markets will be “flooded with foreign products””; that in my imagined scenario about Cuba I said that “whatever happens, it is abundantly clear that neoliberalism in Cuba in the year 2018 will reign down destruction and lead to benefits for an Amerikan capitalist class, along with other Western investors, but not benefit the Cuban populace” among other mentions in the article itself, mentions in my imagined speech for Bernie, where he said “…I have supported neoliberal policies more than my loyal supporters would admit…I also voted not that long ago for an extension of the harsh neoliberal African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)…The media vetted me so horribly that they missed my support for neoliberal education reform, or neoliberal capture to be more accurate…I’ve supported the neoliberal No Child Left Behind initiative…Oh that’s been a big topic since those black women interrupted me in Seattle all those months ago…But hey I remedied it by meeting with that neoliberal activist, your friend, Deray…If he [Gaddafi] had just been neoliberal then I would have been fine with him. But, no, he had to be a socialist. How despicable,” and writing about “Obama’s neoliberalism…his imperialistic and neoliberal policy” and “a neoliberal egoist named Deray.” I also used it in quotes (as it was not my words) in my “Systemic Dolackian Disorder: U$ imperialism and the Kurdish dilemma” and ““Kill your idols”: Chelsea Manning and the reactionary “left”” posts.

[6] David McNeill “Rong Yiren: China’s billionaire ‘red capitalist’,” The Independent, Oct 29, 2005; Athar Hussain, “Rong Yiren: Chinese capitalist who thrived in the communist state,” The Guardian, Nov 17, 2005; David Barboza, “Rong Yiren, a Chinese Billionaire, Dies at 89,” New York Times, Oct 28, 2005; “Rong Yiren: Rong Yiren, a Chinese billionaire, died on October 26th, aged 89,” The Economist, Nov 3, 2005; “Rong Yiren,” The Telegraph, Oct 28 2005; Steven Tian, “Communist Billionaire Rong Yiren,” ChinaScope, Dec 31, 2007.

[7] This should be remembered when resident revisionist Roland Boer talks about “productive forces” in his defense of Chinese revisionism, to give one example.

[8] Lingling Wei and Chao Deng, “Xi’s Sign-Off Deals Blow to China Inc.’s Global Spending Spree,” Wall Street Journal, Jul 23, 2017; Wanda Swears Off Overseas Deals After Cross-Border Xi Change,” Mingtiandi, Jul 25, 2017; Xie Yu, “China’s banking regulator orders loan checks on Wanda, Fosun, HNA, others,” South China Morning Post, Jun 22, 2017. None of the emails are linked to in the article, just summarized; Michael Cole, “Wanda, HNA and Fosun Targetted in Mainland Finance Crackdown,” Mingtiandi, Jun 22, 2017; “Investors Flee From Billionaire Wang’s Wanda Shares, Bonds,” Bloomberg, Jun 21, 2017; Michael Cole, “Anbang Insurance Chief Wu Xiaohui Said Detained Since Friday,” Mingtiandi, Jun 13, 2017; Michael Forsythe and Jonathan Ansfield, “A Chinese Mystery: Who Owns a Firm on a Global Shopping Spree?,” New York Times, Sept 1, 2016; “China’s insurance regulator bans Anbang Life for three months,” Reuters, May 5, 2017; “Zhou’s Jibe at ‘Lazy’ Banks Signals China More Open for Business,” Bloomberg, Jun 19, 2017; Lingling Wei, Wayne Ma, and James T. Areddy, “Beijing Investigates Loans to China’s Top Overseas Deal Makers,” Wall Street Journal, Jun 22, 2017; “Wanda Is Said to Face Crackdown, Checking Hollywood Ambitions,” Bloomberg, Jul 17, 2017; Keith Bradsher and Sui-Lee Wee, “In China, Herd of ‘Gray Rhinos’ Threatens Economy,” New York Times, Jul 23, 2017; Lingling Wei and Wayne Ma, “China Blocks Big Banks From Lending to Dalian Wanda,” Wall Street Journal, Jul 17, 2017.

[9] This article was stuck in Google Translate then re-uploaded here. The English-language site is unusable.

[9] Glenda Korporaal, “China’s economy open ‘but party will remain in control’,” The Australian, Dec 19, 2018.

From Citizen Kane to Citizen Four: Reviewing One Hundred (Mostly) Hollyweird films

This image is meant show some of my favorite films which I reviewed. There are many others I didn’t include here, but would also add them to my favorite films as well. I added a photograph from  /r/socialism of Che Guevara with a camera as well. The film images are from: pre-code.com for The Miracle Woman (bottom left corner), BFI for photo from American Madness (middle top), Cinema Shame for photo from Citizen Kane, which was referenced in a Simpsons episode when Sideshow Bob runs for mayor and “wins”, and WSWS (annoying and disgusting Trotskyists) for a photo from The Young Karl Marx, from WSWS, with a pretty positive review of the film, ending with “if the film, despite its weaknesses, encourages young people to study Marxism, it will fulfill an important task” which I’ll agree with.

I know its been over two months since I’ve posted on this blog, but perhaps this post will explain why I have not written, at least to some extent. I see no need to address any recent Twitter conversations either, as those will stay on the rotting Twittersphere. I have, for the last two month, been reviewing film after film, to come to a list of 100 (mostly) Hollyweird films to review, which begins with a radical analysis. This post will reprint the preamble and preface to this 167-page-review of films, which will set a foundation for reviewing other films in the future, going beyond any possible “good socialist/communist films?” like those listed on /r/socialism four years ago. [1] I can assure you that the next films I look at will be much more diverse, without question, as I’ll probably rewatch some of Kurasawa films, like The Bad Sleep Well, others by Peter Watkins, like Punishment ParkThe War Game, Privilege, along with a slew of Soviet films, like The Cigarette Girl from Mosselprom, to name a few. As always, comments are welcome.

Preamble

Most of these reviews come from reviews on my IMDB account, LCMovieCrusader, many of which have spoilers, but not all. A small select group of reviews come from my WordPress blog, specifically for Woman Walks Ahead, Black Panther, Paths of Glory, Sorry to Bother You, Blackkklansman, A Hologram for the King, Back to the Future, Black Hawk Down, Citizen Four, Free State of Jones, and Forrest Gump, some of which have been expanded to create a more complete review. Also included are two combined reviews, specifically looking at the six Star Wars films (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6), with possible review of other Star Wars genre films in the future, which come from my WordPress blog. Of those from IMDB, for two films I wrote multiple reviews: Arrival and Contact. Interestingly, the two reviews of Contact were allowed through by IMDB (which is owned by Amazon) but those of Contact, in which I called the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis, an utter racist, were censored. Even so, they are contained within this collection of one hundred films, with a second compilation of films to come in the future, but I cannot give a specific date. I will, of course continue my readings of varied Marxist authors as well. With that, I hope you enjoy this collection of film reviews! Previous editions of this publication, in Volume 1 have included: “Longstanding Ties And Laotian Revisionism,” “A History of Protests Against Revisionism in the USSR,” “Exposing the Revisionist Deception Part 2,” “Exposing the Revisionist Deception Part 1,” and one focused on Julia Salazar. Previous editions in volume 2 focus on Julia Salazar with a long version of an article and a 15-page version. Originally this was called “reviewing one hundred Hollyweird films” but that it was revised to take into account that The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Dodes’ka-den, and the Young Karl Marx are foreign films.

Preface

Note: This section is partially taken from the post on my blog on October 18, 2018 (“The “Great White Hope” and the spread of U$ capitalist hegemony”) and includes my own analysis in the reviewing of 100 films to follow.

Hollyweird, as conservatives and Gil Scott-Heron prominently call it, and its profit model fits right into Antonio Gramsci‘s conception of cultural hegemony. He argued that “organic” intellectuals organize relationships to benefit the dominant class (either the bourgeoisie or proletariat), trouncing the “traditional” intellectuals who hold a “long-time monopoly on religious ideology, bonded to schools, education, morality, and other societal values.” For both the bourgeoisie and proletariat, they choose specialized individuals who organize relationships to benefit their class, specifically consisting of “organic” and “traditional” intellectuals, with the former type often being nationalistic. Both types of intellectuals operate in what Gramsci called the two levels of society, also called the superstructure: civil society and political society, with the dominant group (either the bourgeoisie or proletariat) exercising hegemony over society and/or through the state, with their deputies, the intellectuals, trying to garner “spontaneous” consent given by the masses to the general direction the dominant group has “imposed on social life.” In my previous article on cultural hegemony, I argued that the producers of The Simpsons constituted organic intellectuals, as they are not those who “serve as organizers of “masses of men,” “confidence” in their business, consumers in their product, and so on.” This is because the latter group would constitute the so-called “captains of industry” or the capitalists themselves, allowing PR people to serve as such organizers and gain “confidence” in their business (and brand). Rather, organic intellectuals enforce the hegemony of those above them, with a particular division of labor while the bourgeoisie dominates, subjugating and “liquidating” antagonistic views, with these intellectuals possibly coming from private associations. At the same time, the organic intellectuals of the proletariat can come from political parties or other institutions of a proletarian  nature. Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Kim Il Sung, Thomas Sankara, and many others, would be examples of such organic intellectuals in the annals of human history who have been on the side of the proletariat. However, there are likely no “traditional” intellectuals among the proletariat, as they mainly serve as clergy and other religious figures. As it stands today in our capitalist world, those who exercise the dominant ideology through social institutions, such as banks, universities, TV stations, newspapers, film studios, police departments, courts, prisons, legislatures, and private associations, to name a few, are the bourgeoisie, working to “socialize people to consent” to their dominance. This is done in order to ensure that the masses accept the “beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values and moral norms” of capitalism itself, keeping the bourgeoisie in power, in control.

You may ask, how does this relate to Hollyweird? Well, with producers in Hollyweird, whether in film, TV, or some other form of media, constituting “organic” intellectuals, they are cementing relationships which benefit the bourgeoisie and enforce capitalist hegemony. However, while Elon Musk can be called a visionary and a “thought leader,” he is just a capitalist out for the bottom line, not an “organic” intellectual. Those who are intellectuals, in this case, are the deputies of the bourgeoisie, not the bourgeoisie itself. The cultural hegemony of capitalist ideology continues to permeate through our society. It cannot be escaped as much as we may see ourselves as “immune,” but it becomes part of our mind, as we recognize the corporate brands which populate the landscape and then begin to accept the state of the world as it stands today. That brings us to this review of 100 films, mostly from Hollyweird. This serves as a bit of bridge between the last article on my blog in February to the present, as I have been relatively busy with my own studies. While I admit that my views of Marxism are relatively fragmented, I am learning all the time, more and more, and will continue to engage in self-criticism of the old articles on my blog to make sure I am saying the right things and that there are no errors or viewpoints that I said in the past which I now longer agree with. That being said, enjoy the following guide to 100 films, which starts with a table of contents, then has 161 pages of reviews.

Table of contents

• Looking into socially-conscious films…………….. page 7
1. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town: A great film in its own right…………….. pages 7-10
2. American Madness: Socially-conscious and more than a “balanced drama”…… pages 10-12
3. Forbidden: Powerful drama but very depressing…………….. pages 12-13
4. Platinum Blonde: A romance with strong social commentary…………….. pages 13-15
5. The Miracle Woman: One of Capra’s best—a biting criticism of religion………pages 15-16
6. The Power of the Press: The power of the press strikes again! …………….. pages 16-17
7. The Strong Man: A silent film but still powerful…………….. pages 17-18
8. It Happened One Night: Enjoyable comedy with social commentary…………pages 18-20
9. The Hate U Give: A relevant film for our times…………….. pages 21-22
10. All Quiet on the Western Front: A strong antiwar film for the ages……………..pages 22-24
11. The Young Karl Marx: A wonderful movie to be remembered…………….. pages 24-25
12. Paths of Glory: An antiwar film? …………….. pages 25-26
13. Roma: Terrible movie supposedly about “class in Mexico”…………….. pages 26-27
14. Sorry to Bother You: A wonderful anti-capitalist film…………….. pages 27-30
15. Citizen Kane: Classic movie that wasn’t what I thought…………….. pages 30-31
16. It’s a Wonderful Life: Another one of Capra’s classics…………….. pages 31-33
17. If Beale Street Could Talk: A timely 1970s romance critical of racism…………pages 33-34
18. The Time Machine (TV Movie): Conveys a powerful anti-war message…………pages 34-35
19. Fahrenheit 11/9: Some positive parts but overall mixed feelings……………….pages 35-36
20. Roger & Me: From smarmy rich people to suffering Michiganians……………..pages 36-38
21. Soylent Green: From knowledge to commodity…………….. pages 38-40
22. Into the Wild Green Yonder: A strong finish to the series of Futurama straight-to-DVD movies…………….. pages 40-42
23. Colette: A feminist movie, perhaps? …………….. page 42

• Delving into the world of sci-fi…………….. page 42
1. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: Interesting take on time travel…………….. pages 42-43
2. Thrill Seekers: One of the best time travel movies I have watched in a while……pages 43-44
3. Just Imagine: Better than other science fiction movies but still weak…………….pages 44-45
4. Somewhere in Time: Sad but another interesting depiction of time travel………pages 45-46
5. Contact: An enjoyable movie, disturbing takeaway…………….. pages 46-48
6. Contact: Enjoyable but highly problematic…………….. pages 48-49
7. The Time Machine: Exciting but protagonist is self-serving…………….. pages 49-50
8. The Time Traveler’s Wife: An interesting take on time travel…………….. pages 50-51
9. Arrival: Thoughtful, unlike other Alien-Human Contact Films…………….. pages 51-52
10. Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Riveting movie about human-alien con-tact……………..pages 52-53
11. Turn Back the Clock: One of the best time travel movies ever made……………pages 53-54
12. Twelve Monkeys: Has some promise but still lackluster…………….. pages 54-56
13. Multiplicity: Interesting concept but not a strong movie…………….. pages 56-57
14. The Terminator: White masculinity and a shoot ’em up…………….. pages 57-58
15. Terminator 2: Judgement Day: Another annoying Hollyweird shoot ’em up……page 58

16. Cosmopolis: A strange, bizarre movie…………….. pages 58-59
17. Spy Kids 4-D: All the Time in the World: Ok action movie, but not a comedy…..pages 59-60
18. The first collective review of the Star Wars movies: is it fascist?……………..pages 60-77
19. The second collective review of the Star Wars movies: is it anti-fascist?………pages 77-80
20. Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Predictable drama which is only passable………..pages 80-82

• Analyzing dramatic films…………….. page 82
1. Untamed: A compelling drama that marked Crawford’s first starring role………pages 82-84
2. If You Could Only Cook: A riveting romantic drama…………….. pages 84-86
3. The Bitter Tea of General Yen: A compelling drama with “interracial tension,” even with yellowface? ……………..pages 86-88
4. I’ll Never Forget You: A romance & interesting time travel movie…………….. pages 88-90
5. Repeat Performance: A romance movie but also about time travel…………….. page 90
6. Berkeley Square: Only a somewhat interesting film…………….. pages 90-91
7. The Shining: Classic Drama and Horror Movie…………….. pages 91-92
8. A Hologram for the King: addressing class and racial elements in Saudi society ………..Pages 92-94
9. Mary, Queen of Scots: A “feminist” period drama? …………….. pages 94-95
10. Bender’s Big Score: A compelling animated drama…………….. pages 95-97
11. The Beast with a Billion Backs: Robots, heaven, and existential questions………pages 97-99
12. Momento: Nolan explores the depths of memory…………….. pages 99-101
13. Possessed: From the factory to the big city…………….. pages 101-102
14. Safe in Hell: A riveting pre-Code drama…………….. pages 103-105
15. Frankenstein: A “marauding” monster and the “madness” of science………pages 105-107
16. The Phantom President: From musical comedy to political satire……………pages 107-109
17. Trouble in Paradise: From petty thievery to enveloping romance……………pages 109-110

• Laughing with/at Hollyweird…………….. page 111
1. For the Love of Mike: A funny movie but not as strong as others I have seen………page 111
2. Happy Accidents: Enjoyable comedy with social commentary…………….. pages 111-112
3.Click: A great comedy…………….. pages 112-113
4. High Anxiety: Not as funny as other Mel Brooks films but still good…………pages 113-114
5. The Meaning of Life: Funny, witty, satirical, and relevant…………….. pages 114-116
6. That Certain Thing: Funny but also too weak for my taste…………….. pages 116-117
7. The Crimson Permanent Assurance: Funny opening to “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life”…………….. pages 117-118
8. Big News: A comedic talkie about the news business…………….. pages 118-119
9. Jaberwocky: An absurdist comedy for the ages…………….. pages 120-121
10. The Simpsons Movie: Witty and funny, harkens back to Golden Age of The Simpsons …………….. pages 121-124
11. Bender’s Game: A funny film which is more than a story of a “fantasy world.” …………….. pages 124-126

• The superhero genre strikes again!…………….. page 126
1. Doctor Strange: Interesting beginning, horrible last half…………….. pages 126-127
2. Wonder Woman: Interesting concepts but overall a terrible movie……………pages 127-128
3. The Avengers: Another annoying superhero movie…………….. pages 128-129
4. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Perhaps even better than Ant Man (2015)…………pages 129-130

5. Ant-Man: Superhero movie but not like the others…………….. pages 130-131
6. Deadpool: Not the typical superhero film…………….. page 131
7. Deadpool 2: Funny, parody of superhero genre…………….. pages 131-132

• Trash/weird/other films…………….. page 132
1. Back to the Future: Capitalist hegemony and time travel for white racists……pages 132-134
2. Forrest Gump: A white male sexist fantasy…………….. pages 135-137
3. Black Panther: Terrible counterrevolutionary film…………….. pages 138-139
4. Black Panther: Counter-revolutionary trash…………….. pages 139-142
5. Blackkklansman: Copaganda “at its finest”…………….. pages 142-146
6. Hyperfutura: Some interesting concepts but overall a piece of trash…………pages 146-147
7. Joy: Triumph of capitalism and capitalist feminism? …………….. page 147
8. The Fisher King: A problematic magical fable…………….. pages 147-148
9. Eye in the Sky: Good acting but weak “ethical dilemma”…………….. pages 148-149
10. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie: An odd, strange film…………….. pages 149-150
11. Woman Walks Ahead: A “pro-indigenous” film which is actually anti-indigenous …………….. pages 150-151
12. Free State of Jones: Another white savior movie…………….. pages 151-154
13. The Meg: Worst movie ever…………….. page 154
14. Ladies of Leisure: A solid movie but weaker than Capra’s other works……………page 155
15. First Man: A powerful movie which had unnecessary criticism…………….. pages 155-156
16. Half Nelson: Strange but depressing…………….. pages 156-157
17. Rain Man: Autism, Aspergers, and Rain Man…………….. pages 157-158
18. Room: Haunting but rewarding? …………….. page 158
19. Snowden: Annoying, boring film…………….. pages 158-159
20. A Streetcar Named Desire: A classic film…………….. pages 159-160
21. Manchester by the Sea: Well-acted, un-sympathetic protagonist…………….. page 160
22. Dodes’ka-den: Strange but interesting…………….. pages 160-161
23. Hanna: Action, shooting, and gore…………….. pages 161-162
24. Old Man & the Gun: Slow-paced movie showcases Redford’s last role………pages 162-163
25. Black Hawk Down: a pro-military narrative to attack…………….. pages 163-165
26. Citizen Four: Snowden and the allure of Hollyweird…………….. pages 165-167

Notes

[1] Specifically on /r/socialism, the following films were recommended: Ten Days That Shocked the World, Revolution Will Not Be Televised, South of the Border, A Place Called Chiapas, Walter Defends Sarajevo, Battle of Neretva, Che (2008), Strike, Battleship Potemkin, Ich war Neunzehn (1968), Boxhagener Platz (2010), The Man with a Movie Camera (1929), Der Rat der Götter (1950), A Motorcycle Diary, Weekend, Tierra y Libertad, Patagonia Rebelde, Grin Without a Cat, Le Joli Mai, The Fall of Berlin, 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, La Chinoise, and Rol. Then, Wikipedia, in its “list of films about socialism” lists the following: Capitalism: A Love Story, Che, Sicko, Lights in the Dusk, The Wind That Shakes The BarleyReds, Winstanley, The Working Class Goes to Heaven, Modern Times, October: Ten Days That Shook the World, Strike, and Battleship Potemkin.

 

Analyzing the State of the Union and Responses: A Critical Response

What Lenin told comrades at Sverdlov University, the “first higher school in the USSR for training party cadres and workers in the soviets,” on July 11, 1919 about the U$ when talking about the state as an entity.

This is an expanded version of what I wrote on /r/fullstalinism last night, to which no one responded, which is part of the reason I am posting it here. Any errors in that post have been corrected here.

Table of contents

 

 

 

 

Focusing on substantive policy

Let’s start with the State of the Union itself by the orange menace. The whole first part is tooting his own horn of “accomplishments,” a sorta call for bipartisanship, and clear jingoistic claptrap to “choose greatness” for the U$, along with pointing out how he favored the capitalist class (with his tax cuts, removal of estate tax, etc). He also applauded, like Obama, that the U$ is “number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world” and U$ global hegemony. Of course, he also sneered at “foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations,” basically saying investigations of him are tantamount to war. He again tooted his own horn on past “criminal justice reform,” told the story of a guest he invited, called for bipartisan unification against undocumented immigrants by saying it is a “moral issue” while making his typical legal/illegal distinction with undoubted dog whistles, saying he is fighting the “political class”…by being racist? After a long racist rant against immigrants, coupled with praising racist anti-immigrant structures like ICE, he called for a wall on the U$-Mexico border, touted “economic progress,” and had Democrats join in the jingoism by chanting “USA! USA! USA!”…which is somehow supposed to be “resistance.” He then pivoted to his trade war with China, aimed at punishing them, continuing inter-imperialist confrontation with China, followed by talking about his new NAFTA (U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the USMCA) replacing NAFTA, and pushing Congress to legalize trade war (“I am also asking you to pass…[a law] so that if another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the exact same product that they sell to us”). After that, he talked about infrastructure, lowering cost of prescription drugs and healthcare costs, efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, and fight against childhood cancer, although these were broad pronouncements without a plan outlined. After giving another story, he advocated for “School Choice for Americans’ children” (clearly a pro-charter school bill), included a proposal for “nationwide paid family leave” in his budget, an effort to ban late-term abortions (currying to evangelicals), and efforts to expand the U$ military…and strengthen NATO.

It is no surprise what followed this was defending the U$ withdrawing from “a treaty with Russia in which we agreed to limit and reduce our missile capability,” which allows the U$ to build more nuclear missiles…starting a new arms race with Russia! He then brought up minor successes in the detente with the DPRK, saying that there would have been “a major war with North Korea” if he had been elected (a possibility due to Democrat warmongering), that the work “remains to be done” will begin when he and Kim Jong Un “meet again on February 27th and 28th in Vietnam.” What followed this? Further recognition of the illegitimate president of Venezuela Juan Guaidó, declaring that the U$ condemns “the brutality of the Maduro regime” and it’s policies. This endorsement, again, of the coup attempt in Venezuela, was followed by his sneering at what he claimed were “new calls to adopt socialism in our country” (not true), again asserting jingoism, and declaring that “America will never be a socialist country” even though there is no prospect of this at all.

After this he embraced the relocating of the U$ embassy in Jerusalem, further supporting Zionist claims. And while he said that “great nations do not fight endless wars,” praising past “efforts” to fight Daesh, he only focused on ending one war…which is not in the Mideast…in Afghanistan. After vowing continued “anti-terror” action (despite the fact there are indications that the U$ may be collaborating with Daesh to “approach the strategic bordering regions with Iran” and that “the US is planning long-term presence in al-Tanf region [of Syria] to maintain security of terrorists”), he sneered at “the radical regime in Iran,” and praised his withdrawal from the Iran deal supported by moderate U$ imperialists, while also claiming that the Iranian government is anti-Semitic and incorrectly saying the religious reactionaries (Principalists) are in control of Iran, as it is more the pro-Western reformists represented by Rouhani. He then transitioned to condemning anti-Semitism, talking about the horrible shooting in Pittsburgh (not recalling the shooter was a supporter of him), praised a Holocaust survivor wgich was followed by telling another story. He then ended with another jingoist call, calling for great unification of everyone together.

This brings us to the the Democratic response by Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams. She also harps on jingoism, declaring that those in the U$ “live in a nation where opportunity is possible,” saying she loves “our country and its promise of opportunity for all” and that “together, we are coming for America, for a better America.” While she rightly condemned the shutdown engineered by the orange menace, she does not seem to understand its significance of the problem with the Democratic position. This is clear as she too makes a call for bipartisanship, working to realise American dreams, condemning what she calls the “timid” administration response to gun violence (not accurate as it was more pro-gun than “timid”) and appealing to those who want to be in the petty bourgeoisie (“middle class”). Apart from focusing on economic issues within the U$, saying we “owe more to the millions of everyday folks who keep our economy running,” she also says that “Democrats stand ready to effectively secure our ports and borders” which is a racist position. Furthermore, she appeals to jingoism with talk of the U$ as a “great nation” (sounds like the campaign slogan of the orange menace), has typical liberal points of taking “action on climate change…defend[ing] individual liberties with fair-minded judges…[and] the bedrock guarantee of our right to vote.” While you can say this is positive, the fact it is a jingoist position as she claims the U$ has “free and fair elections, where voters pick their leaders – not where politicians pick their voters” which establishes U$ “moral leadership around the globe” (how does the murderous empire have any moral standing at all?).

Her response goes onto whitewash struggles of U$ history (“America has stumbled time and again on its quest towards justice and equality; but with each generation, we have revisited our fundamental truths, and where we falter, we make amends”), makes a bland anti-racist statement about holding “everyone from the very highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds,” and even says that the orange menace should “tell the truth…respect his duties and the extraordinary diversity that defines America” (why would you ever trust him to do that?). She then says that “with a renewed commitment to social and economic justice, we will create a stronger America, together” which sounds like class collaboration, which is never good and helps the bourgeoisie. She again goes with a jingoist call that “America wins by fighting for our shared values against all enemies: foreign and domestic” and ends the speech just like the orange menace, saying that “may God bless the United States of America.”

Some might think that the response of social democrat Bernie Sanders would be better, in that he says (rightly) that the orange menace lied. But, he acts like the proletariat and petty bourgeoisie are in the same economic boat…when they aren’t. He does rightly talk about income inequality or even distortions caused by trade wars, along with the infrastructure plan posed by the orange menace, even the anti-immigrant rhetoric, or reproductive rights, he ends up praising the orange menace at one point: “Tonight, Donald Trump correctly talked about the need to address the opioid crisis.” He grumbles that the orange menace did not mention climate change and a number of other topics including the Russophobic charge of “Russian cyberwarfare” (buying into the faulty Russiagate narrative, proving Democrats are the new McCarthyites and adding to a recent sentiment by Richard Burr (a Democrat): “Based on the evidence to date…we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia”), the war in Yemen, and then throws a bunch of poll numbers. Not sure what those percentages are supposed to do other than overwhelm us with unnecessary information, but it is followed by a need to fight the “billionaire class” (what he should say is the capitalist class) by…building up the petty bourgeoisie…how the hell would that work?

Further comments

The responses by Abrams and Sanders should be no surprise. As the managing editor of Black Agenda Report recently put it about a house bill aimed to cripple the Green Party (in his opinion), he wrote that “Democrats are a capitalist party, they are a government party, and this is how they govern.” What he is writing about is only part of the bill (Title V), but it still important to highlight. It also should be no shock that neither Sanders nor Abrams even mentioned Venezuela in their responses. A similar perspective was given by the executive editor of Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford, who wrote that “for the entirety of the 21st century the Lords of Capital have offered nothing but deepening austerity and endless war to the “home” populace of the imperial countries,” adding that despite what the orange menace said, “there are no organizations of socialists even remotely positioned to threaten the rule of the Lords of Capital in the U.S.” He further said, rightly, that “This is what passes for “socialism” in the U.S., and although such programs are not designed to overthrow the rule of capital,” saying that the orange menace he calls a “billionaire arch racist…littered his remarks with vague references to repairing “crumbling infrastructure,” lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and a promise to sign a bill for nationwide paid parental leave after childbirth,” saying this all “just hot air for the occasion.” He also noted that while the orange menace bragged about huge military spending, “Democratic leadership is just as wedded to war and austerity as Trump and his Republicans…the Democrats are running on a “we are not Trump” platform, the same as Hillary Clinton did the last time around,” claiming that Bernie “slammed into Trump’s fantasy world like a growling gray bulldozer” even though this is an utter joke. He ended by saying that “much of the phony left has found common cause with Trump in the crime” of supporting the coup in Venezuela (only citing Ro Khanna, Ilhan Omar and Tulsi Gabbard as condemning the coup), adding that “it is possible that AOC will grow an internationalist consciousness, without which one is no socialist. But it’s way too late for 77 year-old Bernie Sanders…The real resistance can only be nurtured outside the Party. Bernie Sanders’ job…is to explode the Democrats by running on a platform that supermajorities of people support – and to be publicly crucified for it.”

We then get to the resident revisionist of Black Agenda Report, Danny Haiphong, wrote in a recent article, “the so-called Democratic Party “resistance” to Trump has largely been silent on the issue of Venezuela. Self-proclaimed Democratic Socialists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have declined to comment on whether the Trump Administration is in fact waging a coup against Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro” while also noting that “just days before Washington set the attempted coup into motion, the Democratic-controlled House voted for the NATO Support Act…[including] Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and the rest of the “progressive” Democrats voted “yes” to NATO.” He praised “Tulsi Gabbard, Bernie Sanders, and Ilhan Omar” as voicing “any kind of opposition to the Trump Administration’s coup against Venezuela from the Democratic wing of the ruling class. None of them have mounted a challenge to the power of NATO over U.S. imperial policy.” His article ended by saying that “Democrats have moved so far to the right that its so-called “resistance” to Trump has done little except provide vital assistance to the empire. Even the most progressive-sounding of the Democratic Party brass has sworn its allegiance to NATO and the endless aggression that the U.S. imperial state wages around the world.” Haiphong generally makes good points, but not when it comes to Sanders opposition to the coup. This is proven by his statement on January 24 on Venezuela which endorses the reasons for the coup but not the coup itself, which is utterly disgusting:

The Maduro government in Venezuela has been waging a violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly and was re-elected last year in an election that many observers said was fraudulent. Further, the economy is a disaster and millions are migrating. “The United States should support the rule of law, fair elections and self-determination for the Venezuelan people. We must condemn the use of violence against unarmed protesters and the suppression of dissent. However, we must learn the lessons of the past and not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups – as we have in Chile, Guatemala, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. The United States has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American countries; we must not go down that road again.

You can grumble about Boots Riley all you want, when he said that Maduro did “fucked up shit” (I’ve been planning a follow-up to this set of tweets on there) without explaining what he meant (he says he will do so when the coup attempt is over), but that is nothing in comparison to Bernie’s literally imperialist statement. “Shock therapy” as it is called, may be on the agenda if Guido takes power, if Ben Norton’s article on the subject has any validity or whether Rosneft (a Russian oil company) is right that turmoil in Venezuela is “only temporary.” Haiphong was right that “black, working and poor people can expect no relief from Democrats, who will continue to divert the nation’s resources to foreign wars and coups.”

You can praise Omar, noted earlier, who said that “a US backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face. Trump’s efforts to install a far right opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region. We must support Mexico, Uruguay & the Vatican’s efforts to facilitate a peaceful dialogue,” Ro Khanna for saying that “the US should not anoint the leader of the opposition in Venezuela during an internal, polarized conflict. Let us support Uruguay, Mexico, & the Vatican’s efforts for a negotiated settlement & end sanctions that are making the hyperinflation worse,” or Tulsi Gabbard for tweeting that “the United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders–so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.” You can say, sure, these are noble sentiments. But saying the Venezuelan people should “determine their future” still opens the door to U$ imperial subversion, which might not be a coup or what happened during the Iran-Contra scandal, but is terrible regardless. No doubt it is better than what Occasio-Cortez, who has branded herself as “AOC,” declared to Chris Matthews of MSNBC: “What we need to realize is happening is this is an issue of authoritarian regime versus democracy. In order for him to try to dissuade or throw people off the scent of the trail, he has to really make and confuse the public. And I think that that’s exactly what he’s trying to do.” [1] Did she miss (or ignore) the recent evidence revealed by the Venezuelan government which “showed evidence of the plan of attempted coup d’état carried out by the rightwing against constitutional President Nicolás Maduro, with the participation of the governments of the United States and Colombia”? What AOC says clearly amounts to an imperialist endorsement of the coup, going even further than Bernie, showing that the neo-progressives in Congress will be the saviors of nobody anywhere. [2]

Then there is the budget of the orange menace. Vox, an annoying liberal website which brings no value to the world, summarized the budget in a recent article titled “Trump’s 2019 budget: what he cuts, how much he cuts, and why it matters.”  What did they show? That, based on an analysis from a “centrist, pro-balanced budget group,” that there will be “$1.75 trillion in new spending and tax cuts, $3.7 trillion in deficit reduction that’s overwhelmingly the result of spending cuts, $800 billion in reduced spending on wars and disaster recovery, and $300 billion in savings due to lower interest payments on less debt.” More specifically, there will be a cut of over 40% to non-military spending, including cuts to the EPA (33.7%), State Department, Head Start, supposed “law enforcement” by the FBI and DOJ, NIH (National Institutes of Health), and NSF (National Science Foundation). There will also be subsequent sizeable cuts to the Army Corps of Engineers (22.2%), the Labor Department (21.4%), Medicare (7.1% cut by 2028 due to “reforms”), “Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies by 2028” (22.5%), SNAP/Food Stamps (27.4%), Section 8 Housing assistance (20.1%), transportation spending (28.6%) while boosting defense spending by $777 billion over the next ten years. If that isn’t enough of a giveaway to the bourgeoisie, the individual and estate tax provisions of the GOP’s tax bill last year will be made permanent, while there will be $199 billion allocated “over 10 years for a new infrastructure program meant to generate $1 trillion through private partnership spending.” This budget would also screw students by eliminating “loan forgiveness for students who go into public service” and “subsidized Stafford loans” while establishing a “new, unified income-based repayment plan for student loans” under which those borrowing would need to “pay 12.5 percent of their discretionary income every month and have their balance forgiven after 15 years (for undergraduate debt) or 30 years (for graduate school debt),” which supposedly saves billions, but does this really help students at all?

Additionally, is it any mistake that the orange menace called one of the country’s “greatest strides” being “abolition of civil rights”? [3] I would say not.

With that, I end this post and look forward to your comments.


Notes

[1] Her statement to ABC News (“Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez welcomes Trump’s ‘socialism’ jab, says he’s ‘scared'”) didn’t make it better, when she added that she thought the orange menace condemning socialism was “great. I think he’s scared I thought it was fabulous because it shows that we’ve gotten under his skin. He sees that everything is closing in on him. He knows that he’s losing the battle of public opinion when it comes to the substantive proposals that we’re advancing to the public. And frankly he has no substantive proposals to counter, he has no vision for this country. Everything is about what he doesn’t want, everything is about the bogeyman.” The same can be said of what she told another MSNBC host (as noted by a Salon article titled “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Trump for slamming socialism in State of the Union address”), Rachel Maddow, another Russophobe: that “I think that the president was unprepared. I don’t think that he did his homework. We’ve seen State of the Union addresses delivered by many presidents, Democrat and Republican. They almost always have substantive policies that are offered. I agree with Sen. Klobuchar there that there was no plan. There was no plan to address our opioid crisis, there was no plan to address the cost of health care, there was no plan to increase wages. I had to ask myself: ‘Is this a campaign stop or is this a State of the Union?'” There is some validity there, but to say that the orange menace was unprepared plays into the idea he is bumbling, which is an utter lie.

[2] This should be no surprise because as a February 4th article in Politico (“‘There Is Going to Be a War Within the Party. We Are Going to Lean Into It.’”) noted, those who work for AOC (which the article says is part of “the closest thing to a new celebrity Congress has had in years”) believe that “radical conservatives in the Democratic Party” are holding them (and the Democrats) back, and that “There is going to be a war within the party. We are going to lean into it” as the head of a group called the Justice Democrats that AOC is part of, the same group that once were a bunch of Berniecrats. The article says that this group wants to overturn the whole Congress, legislatively, with a whole bunch of people like AOC, with one person calling her rise “a Cinderella story, a bartender who goes against the machine and wins,” with the Justice Democrats among the “various groups that emerged in big numbers out of the 2016 election, including Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible, Brand New Congress, Swing Left and the Sunrise Movement, just to name a few.” The power of AOC is not as strong as it would seem, as Pelosi said thatthe Green New Deal (a green capitalist plan) will be “one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive. The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?” (as noted in a CNN article titled “Nancy Pelosi just threw some serious shade at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Green New Deal'”). She also said, in the Politico interview (“‘Too hot to handle’: Pelosi predicts GOP won’t trigger another shutdown”) which CNN linked to, that another shutdown by the GOP would be “too hot to handle,” adding that the speech of the orange menace is “theatrics, this is not government. We just take this in stride” (not realizing her own theatrics like leading people to say USA! USA! USA! as was acknowledged by a recent article in Business Insider titled “The most powerful moment at the State of the Union was a win for Democrats that Trump had no control over”) also defending King Russophobe Adam Schiff, saying that “we honor the institution in which we serve, the Congress of the United States. I hope he would honor it, too.” By the end of the article she says that she prays for the orange menace “all the time. And I say to him, ‘Mr. President I would never ask you to do anything that is not in your interest,’” which is pretty disgusting. I would say it is justified to criticize CNN for featuring “former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in a [upcoming] town hall” despite his low support at the present.

[3] William Cummings and John Fritze, “President Trump’s gaffe touts ‘abolition of civil rights’ at National Prayer Breakfast,” USA Today, Feb 7, 2019.

Three years of the Leftist Critic and many more to go!

It has been a wild ride these past three years. In this post I aim to summarize what I’ve written since then, year by year, post by post.

Today is exactly three years since my first post on this blog, on January 18, 2016, titled “Imperialism besets Iran.” I focused on how Western imperialism was subverting Iran, which I would later refine in later years. Only ten days later I would churn out another, criticizing Black bourgeois personality, Ta Nehisi Coates. In the months to follow, I would criticize those who falsely called Star Wars “fascist,” write about some goof on Twitter, focus on surveillance in U$ society, and imagine a speech Bernie Sanders would give to his capitalist friends, working to tell the reality about this imperialistic social democrat. Following this, there would be articles posing an imagined scenario if Cuba was to be taken over by imperialists, highlighting the revolutionary history of Cuba, and saying that Iran was at the crossroads. Later I would pen two articles about celebrity whistleblower Edward Snowden, saying he was deceptively perceived and focusing on his ties to the CIA. Through the rest of the year I wrote on many more subjects. I countered those who said that the murderous empire was “bumbling,” criticized the corrupted nature of Saudi society and the inter-relationship with the empire, and wrote varied articles on Cuba. The latter focused on the legacy of Fidel Castro in fighting U$ imperialism, and asking where Cuba stood in the world as a whole. At the same time, I directly turned my focus to those who thought that the orange menace (Trump) was somehow good, and noting imperial propaganda. I also asked if Star Wars was really anti-fascist and concluded that it was not and wrote my first article on Soviet history.

In the following year, 2017, I expanded on my ideas and became even more strident. Apart from guessing the possible agenda of the upcoming U$ administration, I highlighted my efforts to write more about Soviet history, and criticized bourgeois peace activist David Swanson while tying in the story of the Soviets. If that wasn’t enough, I also wrote about Obama’s horrible and imperialist legacy, criticized the orange menace in his first days in office, and critically looked at the social democrat on the pedestal, Bernie Sanders. In these first few months of the year I directly stabbed at what some now call “Russiagate,” laughing at those who thought the orange menace was colluding with them, while criticizing the strategy of the orange menace to “fight” Daesh. On a related note, I wrote about armed resistance and gun control in the murderous empire. Like the previous year, I went even more international, focusing on topics away from the murderous empire, with a four-part series on Zimbabwe:

  1. “It is homeland or death”: From British colonialism to the Zimbabwean liberation war
  2. “It is homeland or death”: Final days of Zimbabwe’s liberation war and post-independence
  3. “It is homeland or death”: Breaking the neo-colonial chains in Zimbabwe
  4. “It is homeland or death”: The Zanu-PF on the rise once again!

In retrospect, I feel that my analysis of bourgeois nationalism in Zimbabwe could have been stronger, but I was mainly relying on Stephen Gowans as a basis for my argument while I would do more research outside that if I had to write it again. Perhaps if I had done that I could have realized that there would be a coup and/or disputing factions within the government itself.

As the year went on, I criticized the “Muslim ban” of the orange menace, while highlighting elections of deputies of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the unicameral parliament of Juche Korea, my first article on the country and focusing on a conference hosted by Iran in solidarity with the Palestinians. Additionally, I turned back to U$ imperialism, writing a biting criticism of H.R. McMaster, criticizing the naked act of aggression against Syria which manifested itself as a cruise missile strike, new posts on varied subjects, and asking if the Simpsons was dead or “zombified.” That wasn’t all. In light of the March for Science that year, I noted the role of science in capitalist society, criticized the proposed murderous sanctions on Juche Korea, and again laughed at the claim that there was a connection between the orange menace and the Russians. In later months, I wrote yet another criticism of Snowden, directly poked a hole in the myth that the Kurds are “revolutionary,” highlighted the wonders of the healthcare system in Juche Korea, and countered yet another reactionary leftist: Matt Taibbi. I did the same, in terms of other criticism, of Naomi Klein, a person who really is full of herself and is a brand.  Again, I focused on the conflict in Syria once again. I noted how U$ imperialism was “reipositioning” itself there and laughed at those pathetically trying to criticize my post on the “revolutionary” Kurds.

During the rest of the year, I wrote about the orange menace, murderous empire and bigotry in one post, and the case of Dennis Rodman in Juche Korea in another. As the year came to a close I wrote a flurry of articles about Zimbabwe, arguing that there was a counter-revolution occurring after Mugabe was ousted:

Then we come to last year, 2018. As the year began, I wrote an article analyzing the New Years speech by Chairman Kim Jong Un, accompanied by an article, later that month, arguing that Syria was fundamentally a socially democratic state, not a socialist one as  Stephen Gowans had argued. That wasn’t all. I wrote an article again criticizing reactionary leftists, this one focused on another celebrity whistleblower, Chelsea Manning who is sadly anti-communist and “anti-authority.” The same month I penned a number of other articles, one noting that the Zionist state inherently was an apartheid state, and importantly poking a hole at the imperialist myths about Juche Korea, saying that the state is democratic and does not have a “dynasty.” This was followed by an article, which  I wasn’t originally planning on, focusing on inherent capitalist violence in the murderous empire, “gun control” and armed resistance.

Since then, I wrote a 4-part series on the problematic U$ (and Western-backed) Kurds:

I then turned to a criticism of a television series I still like very much, The Simpsons, and connected it to Gramsci’s ideas on hegemony.

On another topic, I had a series of articles on Juche Korea or the DPRK which focused on Juche Korea’s non-isolation, the DPRK’s support of Venezuela, Mansudae Overseas Projects spreading the ideals of Juche across the world, the DPRK supporting socialist Cuba, the DPRK-Iran alliance, the DPRK’s support for Palestinian liberation, the DPRK-Syria alliance, and support of the Sandinistas by the DPRK. I also criticized when the orange menace canceled the one-on-one summit he was going to have with Kim Jong Un in a letter, siding with the reactionary imperialists. Later, in the aftermath of Kim’s meeting with the orange menace, I talked about possible detente between the U$ and DPRK, which still seems a long while off. In August I wrote while the victor of the Zimbabwean elections were being decided, noting how the proletariat of Zimbabwe will get effected by what happens.

Apart from this, I also gave suggestions for places fellow comrades can submit articles, wrote about a foundational aspect of Marxism, dialectical materialism, and talked about the writings I’ve put together which have been published on other websites. I also did a short post about “human rights” and imperialism. Additionally I published a two-part series about “free speech” in the U$, the first part about social media giants and the second part about the problems with bourgeois conception of “free speech.”

Later on in 2018 I focused on Zimbabwe once again and a new Kim-Moon summit, looking at the document published and what it meant. Both were important to recognize as a person, like myself, who is an internationalist. I also focused on the so-called socialist, Julia Salazar in a two-part article reposted on here (see part 1 and part 2)  but originally published on Dissident Voice, which criticized the DSA and this so-called socialist.

As the year winded down, I posted very infrequently on this blog, only writing two posts, while I mainly focused on interactions on Twitter and Reddit. The first of these posts was about the spread of capitalist hegemony, criticizing films by Zemeckis, while also praising films like Sorry to Bother You, critically looking at Dear White People, and other “black films.” The second these was not until two months later, focusing on re-calibration of U$ destabilization in Syria after the posited U$ withdrawal from the country by the orange  menace which is setting the stage for Turkey becoming a mercenary of the empire. I also did a post posing a scenario of Bernie’s imperialist monster in 2022. Additionally, at the beginning of the new year, 2019, I wrote a post criticizing someone who tried to defend certain Kurds, specifically those in Syria, with one of my best titles ever: “Systemic Dolackian Disorder: U$ imperialism and the Kurdish dilemma.”

In the meantime, I am going through the rest of the posts on this blog as a matter of self-criticism, a process which is taking a long time.

Systemic Dolackian Disorder: U$ imperialism and the Kurdish dilemma

One of the newest developments in what has happened in recent days

Two days ago, on January 4th, an article by Pete Dolack, who describes himself as an “activist, writer, poet and photographer,” but likely leans toward anarchism, was published (if you want to read such garbage) in CounterPunch, a reprint of a post on his own personal blog, Systemic Disorder, on January 1st. There’s no need to rehash what I noted on Twitter, where I interacted with a number of fellow users, beginning my criticism of his argument and giving me the thought of writing this post. Without further adieu, the article begins, structured with quoting directly from the article and responding to it.

Dolack’s comment #1:

Lost in the discussions of Donald Trump’s abrupt announcement of the withdrawal of United States troops from Rojava is the possible fate of the democratic and cooperative experiment of the Syrian Kurds. Threatened with annihilation at the hands of Turkish invaders, should we simply wipe our hands and think nothing of an interesting experiment in socialism being crushed on the orders of a far right de facto dictator?

My response: I don’t think the fate of the Kurds was “lost” in discussions about the “withdrawal” from Syria. As I noted in my article on the subject late last month, “it is clear now that the proposed U$ withdrawal from Syria is a cover for further Turkish involvement in Syria, with the Turks now becoming the mercenaries of empire” while noting an article in November 2018 reporting that “the Emirati and Saudi military forces arrived in Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria (“Rojava”), were stationed with U$ forces, supporting their “tasks with huge military enforcements as well as heavy and light weapons,” while also meeting with Kurdish officials.” Adding to this, I question the assessment that the announcement was “abrupt” as that implies there was no strategy behind it. I am not sure, personally, if the orange menace does any strategizing of his own, but it is clear that his advisors do, so I think this was part of a planned effort to make other countries, like the Saudis, Emiratis, and Turks, do the dirty work of the U$ imperialists. It is not unprecedented. I also question how “socialist,” “democratic,” or “cooperative” the Kurds are, but since Dolack mentions that later in the article, I will address that later on.

Dolack’s comment #2:

Most of the commentary I have seen from U.S. Leftists simply declares “we never support U.S. troops” and that’s the end of it; thus in this conception President Trump for once did something right. But is this issue really so simple? I will argue here that support of Rojava, and dismay at the abrupt withdrawal of troops on the direct demand of Turkish President and de facto dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is not at all a matter of “support” of a U.S. military presence.

My response: Some may be openly saying that the orange menace did something right, I don’t doubt that. But, of the commentaries I’ve read, in Black Agenda Report (also see here) and anti-imperialism.org, there seems to be a strategy to push the orange menace to do more, similar to the strategy to push for more U$ concessions  to the DPRK in the delicate detente between the two countries still hanging in place. I will concede, that sure the issue is not simple. But, one could support these Kurds and not support U$ military presence, it is altogether possible. However, supporters of “Rojava,” like Dolack, seem to not understand this at all. I would also say, as an additional comment, that Dolack’s statement that Erdogan is a “de facto dictator” is too moderate, as he is rather an autocrat and representative of the Turkish bourgeoisie, which has been trying to cultivate better relations with the Russian bourgeoisie.

Dolack’s comment #3:

The world of course is accustomed to the U.S. government using financial and military means to destroy nascent socialist societies around the world. But the bizarre and unprecedented case — even if accidental — of an alternative society partly reliant on a U.S. military presence seems to have confused much of the U.S. Left. Or is it simply a matter of indifference to a socialist experiment that puts the liberation of women at the center? Or is it because the dominant political inspiration comes more from anarchism than orthodox Marxism?

My response: Sure, the world recognizes such power of the U$ government. I would add, as is evidenced in the writings of the late William Blum in Rogue State, that the societies do not have to be “socialist” for military and financial means to be used against them. I will also grant that there has been confusion on the Left, but I would say it is more on the issue of opposing U$ imperialism, not the fact that a so-called “alternative society” is “partly reliant” (much more than partly) on U$ military presence. There is, clearly, no problem with putting “liberation of women at the center,” but it is wrong to say that it is a socialist experiment, not because the “dominant political inspiration” is more anarchist in origin than Marxist. Rather, it is clear in the society itself and the alliances they had made, as I noted in my article in late December:

…these Kurds (part of “Rojava”) thought that the U$ would champion their cause, failing to understand that the U$ establishment acts “purely in its own interests”…those who criticize these Kurds in “Rojava,” like the YPG,  SDF, and PYD, for their alliance with U$ imperialists are not stooges of Erdogan…there are questions about how “revolutionary” or “progressive” these vaulted Kurds (YPG/SDF/PYD) are since the SDF said they wanted “to be part of America,” possibly clearing the way for Turkey’s occupation. The Emergency Committee for “Rojava” goes even further in their pro-imperialist orientation, calling the withdrawal of U$ troops a  “betrayal” and calling for military, economic, and political assistance, thinking that the U$ imperialists are somehow humanitarian saviors…those in “Rojava” are no Marxists, as they do not hold…that the world is restless and that the “death of the capitalistic method of production” means, simply, “resolution of society into simpler forms…a new and better order of things,” since the current society is “morally bankrupt”

I went onto add that even if we grant that their social contract seems democratic, with varied rights, many of which seem bourgeois in nature (i.e. freedom of speech, equality in gender, worship, assembly,  political participation, seek political asylum), it also flat-out endorses private property, declaring that “everyone has the right to the use and enjoyment of his private property” because there is “no one shall be deprived of his property except upon payment of just compensation, for reasons of public utility or social interest, and in the cases and according to the forms established by law.” I went onto add that while the economy of “Rojava” seems social democratic, it does not include “a proposal for a planned economy” or prohibit “extractive processes, management, licensing and other contractual agreements related to such [natural] resources” by corporate entities. More on this will be talked about later.

Dolack’s comment #4:

Let’s think about World War II for a moment. Was supporting the war against Hitler and Mussolini’s fascist régimes simply a matter of “supporting” U.S. troops? The victory over fascism likely could not have been won without the herculean effort of the Soviet Union once it overcame the initial bungling of Josef Stalin and the second-rate commanders he had put in charge of the Red Army after purging most of the best generals. To say that the Soviet Union won World War II is no way is meant to denigrate or downplay the huge sacrifices borne by the Western allies. That Western effort was supported by communists and most other Leftists. The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) were staunch supporters of the U.S. war effort — party members well understood what was at stake.

My response: First of all, there were tensions in the CPUSA. In March 1944, William Z. Foster and Sam Darcy were part of those who opposed the direction of the CPUSA pushed by Earl Browder with a changed name to the Communist Political Association (CPA), supported by  a majority of those gathered at the time, with Foster keeping his criticism within the central committee of the party, but Darcy conducting “broader agitation” including “circulating a letter to party members” and apparently writing on the issue for the “bourgeois press” which led to his expulsion from the party by Foster! Later that year, in May 1944, Earl Browder’s proposal was taken up by Foster, and the CPUSA voted to adjourn itself. The following year, in April 1945, an article which appeared to show “intimate familiarity of details with the American party’s internal political situation that (correctly) indicated to careful American readers a Moscow source of origin of the document,” led to an uproar in the CPA . The publication of this article prompted an uproar in the CPA, “as factional fighting was unleashed between those favoring a return to the previous “party” form of organization (lead by William Z. Foster) and those in favor of continuing the “new course” initiated by Browder.” What followed was Browder, in June, defending the “wartime policies” advocated by him as head of the CPUSA, which included “the need to establish a Second Front in Europe…support[ing] the Roosevelt administration against an alliance of Republican and conservative anti-Administration forces who were empowered in the rightward-tilting Congressional elections of 1942” and guiding the labor movement “to compliant support of the Roosevelt administration in matters of its personnel or policies,” rejecting the charges that he was revisionist. I could go on, noting further speeches by Browder (including those in 1946 defending himself after he was expelled). The reason I mention this is that the CPUSA was internally compromised and revisionist, meaning this should not be used as a valid comparison to what is happening now in regards to those Kurds in “Rojava.” There was a worldwide war occurring, and, sure, CPUSA members, like many leftists “were staunch supporters of the U.S. war effort” as they knew “what was at stake” but also they may too have been swept up by the euphoria and nationalism for war itself. Yes, Dolack is right that”the victory over fascism likely could not have been won without the herculean effort of the Soviet Union” but it shows his true intent that it the Soviets “overcame the initial bungling of Josef Stalin and the second-rate commanders he had put in charge of the Red Army after purging most of the best generals,” a clear anti-communist charge which could as easily be found in any of the books by Robert Conquest. Even worse is his sentence that declaring that he is not denigrating or downplaying “the huge sacrifices borne by the Western allies” when saying that “the Soviet Union won World War II” which is a cop-out which actually ends up downplaying the effort of the Soviets. If the Soviets had sat out the war, then the Western allies would have never been able to defeat the Nazis. Perhaps if they had joined the Soviets years later to defeat the Nazis when they were weaker, the Holocaust could have been avoided, but instead they wanted to twiddle their thumbs as people died and keep their cash flowing into the Nazi coffers (especially in the case of the British bourgeoisie), while holding a strong anti-Soviet position.

Dolack’s comment #5:

In contrast, the main U.S. Trotskyist party, the Socialist Workers Party, dismissed the war as an inter-imperialist dispute. That may have been so, but was that the moment to make a fetish of pacifism or of an unwillingness to be involved in any way in a capitalist fight? We need only think of what would have happened had Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo triumphed in the war to answer that question. Backing the war effort was the only rational choice any Leftist not blinded by rigid ideology could have made. It is no contradiction to point out the CPUSA took the correct approach even for someone, like myself, who is generally strongly critical of the party.

My response: Of course the Trotskyists would hold that position, without siding with the Soviets against the Nazis if they truly believed what they said. But, they did not, and as always, the Trotskyists end up supporting the global bourgeoisie. We don’t need to “think what would have happened” as that has already in bourgeois media and engaging in such speculation will get us nowhere. So the CPUSA were not “blinded by rigid ideology” but the Trotskyists were? That doesn’t make sense. It is perhaps better to say neither was “blinded” by their beliefs as that almost makes them out to be mindless zombies rather than human beings. Rather it is better to criticize the approach of the Trotskyists rather than engage in such word games as Dolack does. He can say that the CPUSA “took the correct approach” but from what I have previously mentioned about the organization being internally compromised and led by a clear revisionist, Earl Browder, who allied the party with the Democrats and tried to get the proletariat to follow along (without question) the direction of policies of the Roosevelt Administration, it seems clear they could have charted another strategy. Perhaps they could have backed the Soviet effort, rather than the U$ war machine, against fascism.

Dolack’s comment #6:

Shouldn’t we listen to the Kurds? To bring us back to the present controversy, we might ask: What do the Kurds want? The Syrian Kurds, surrounded by hostile forces waiting for the opportunity to crush their socialist experiment, made a realpolitik decision in accepting the presence of U.S. troops, and a limited number of French and British troops. The dominant party in Syrian Kurdistan, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), is strongly affiliated with the leading party of Turkey’s Kurds, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK has been locked in a decades-long struggle with successive Turkish governments.

My response: Dolack’s point about the struggle with Turkish governments by the PKK is accurate. But, there is a major problem with his reasoning: there is no one group representing the Kurds. Paul Davis, a former spook (for U$ Army Intelligence) wrote about this in a prominent Kurdish publication, Kurdistan 24, which Dolack somehow missed even though it was written many months ago in late November. He noted, summarizing a recent panel discussion perhaps in a European country, that there is debate about whom speaks “for the Kurds,” with scholar Ismail Beşikçi, saying that while “50 million Kurds live within the confines of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria,” arguing that the “world has not seen fit to recognize a Kurdish state” because while “Palestinians present a united front while the Kurds remain divided.” While the topic of lacking Kurdish unity “was only briefly addressed,” Davis added that it is incumbent on the Kurds to find someone who will “speak for them” with two names standing out: imprisoned Abdullah Öcalan (whom “most countries consider…a terrorist”) and Masoud Barzan, the latter of whom “has the international recognition and standing to present the Kurdish desires to the world.” He ended his article by saying that “before the Kurds can begin to decide who will lead Kurdistan, there must be a Kurdistan. Once a nation becomes a reality, the citizens can start to play politics…There must be a Kurdish awakening and a single voice – be it Barzani or another – to deny the world the option of ignoring the Kurds.”

As such, how we say with certainty what “the Kurds” want? What Kurds are we talking about? Those in Syria, Iraq, Iran, or Turkey? Are they part of the proletariat or the bourgeoisie? The latter comes from an insightful comment by commieposting on Twitter: “what these people [like Dolack] all do is attempt to hide and obscure the fact that the kurdish nation is divided like any other – divided as proletarians and bourgeoisie.”

That brings us back to Dolack. When he says that the  Syrian Kurds are “surrounded by hostile forces waiting for the opportunity to crush their socialist experiment” this assumes that the governments of Iraq, Turkey, and Syria are all hostile, when only one of those (Turkey) is actively hostile. While other maps are helpful, like the one from liveuamap, the one from the Carter Center clearly shows that the Syrian government is in no position, even if they  wanted to, to be hostile to the Kurds. Additionally, this means that the Kurds collectively did not make the “realpolitik decision in accepting the presence of U.S. troops, and a limited number of French and British troops” but rather that was the move of the Kurdish leaders, led by, as he admits, “the Democratic Union Party (PYD), is strongly affiliated with the leading party of Turkey’s Kurds, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).” Interestingly, he does not recognize the contradiction: how progressive is “Rojava” (composed of the Jazira, Euphrates, and Afrin regions) if the levers of power are in control by the PYD with no voting in Arab-majority areas in the region in 2017, even as one New York Times reporter dumbly, in 2015, declared that there was “no hierarchy” in Rojava, a clear lie born from their fantastical imagination.

Dolack’s comment #7:

The preceding sentence is something of a euphemism. It would be more accurate to say that the Turkish government has waged an unrelenting war against the Kurdish people. Ankara has long denied the existence of the Kurdish people, banning their language, publications, holidays and cultural expressions, and pursuing a relentless campaign of forced resettlement intended to dilute their numbers in southeast Turkey. Uprisings have been met with arrests, torture, bombings, military assaults, the razing of villages and declarations of martial law. Hundreds of thousands have been arrested, tortured, forcibly displaced or killed. Turkish governments, including that of President Erdoğan, do not distinguish between “Kurd” and “terrorist.” The PKK’s leader, Abdullah Öcalan, has been held in solitary confinement since his abduction in Kenya in 1999, an abduction assisted by the U.S. Successive U.S. governments have capitulated to Turkey by falsely labeling the PKK a “terrorist” organization and have actively assisted in the suppression of Turkish Kurds. Can it really be possible that Syrian Kurds are somehow unaware of all this? Obviously not.

My response: There is no doubt that the Turks have engaged in a long-standing effort of suppression of  the Kurds. However, Dolack is downplaying the U$ role here. For one, there may be a connection of the Kurds to what was happening in Iran, as was briefly mentioned in an article I wrote back in May 2016, noting that the U$ and these Kurds have a “close relationship” which manifests itself in military strikes, adding that one could speculate the the U$ government was covertly working with “Kurdish [drug] traffickers to destabilize Iran.” [1] One article I linked to, on Narconon, speculated on Kurdish involvement, noting “Iran lies directly in the path of the world’s largest flow of heroin…Ethnic Kurds populate much of the Iran-Turkey border areas and are thought to be heavily involved in the movement of drugs across this border. They then control some of these shipments all the way to Europe.”

There is more than this. Back in 2016, an article in Vox of all places predicted the end of the alliance between the forces of “Rojava” and the U$, saying that their interests will diverge, adding that “the United States has had a longstanding relationship with Iraq’s quasi-autonomous Kurdish minority, who benefited from the American-led no-fly zone over Iraq after the 1990s Gulf War and from Saddam Hussein’s downfall in 2003” and that while the alliance has “worked well” it was an “alliance of convenience” as the U$ wants to, in his distorted view “defeat” Daesh while the Kurds in Iraq and Syria are “mostly focused on protecting their own populations and territory.” [2] The article goes onto say that “the status of the Kurds in post-Saddam Iraq has never totally been settled” since they  demanded “a significant degree of autonomy after his fall, including their own regional government and military” but they also, in June 2014, seized oil-rich Kirkuk, which a  number of Iraqis seeing this as “an unconstitutional power grab.” It also states that since 2012, when “Rojava has essentially functioned as an independent” they have been  natural allies of the U$ as they “fight ISIS, oppose Assad, and aren’t mixed up with jihadists” but they also cause tension with Turkey, who is worried “that Syrian Kurds would inspire Kurdish nationalism in Turkey” leading Turkey to be “deeply hostile to any independent or autonomous Rojava.” Even so, this article declares that the Kurds in Syria don’t “share America’s goals or vision for the region. Kurdistan is not America East” although some recent comments by Kurdish groups like YPG indicate they see it, in a sense, that way. The article ends by saying that “the Kurds are political actors with their own interests and concerns, which they will pursue even if Washington doesn’t like it,” but this again ignores the past history between the Kurds and the U$.

Stephen Zunes, of all people, a person who downplays the role of foreign money, specifically from the U$, and has tried to smear the former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, among other horrible positions, provides some of this history. He defines the Kurds wildly as a nation of over 30 million people “divided among six countries, primarily in what is now northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey and with smaller numbers in northeastern Syria, northwestern Iran and the Caucuses. They are the world’s largest nation without a state of their own.” [3] He notes how their “struggle for self-determination has been hampered by…rivalry between competing nationalist groups, some of which have been used as pawns by regional powers[and] the United States.” He  further notes that while at the 1919 Versailles Conference ,Woodrow Wilson,  a liberal imperialist “unsuccessfully pushed for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan,” that policy since then has been terrible. For instance, he recalls how in the mid-1970s, in conjunction with the autocratic Shah, the U$ goaded Kurds in Iraq to launch an “armed uprising” against the Iraqi government “with the promise of continued military support” but then the U$ abandoned them as “part of an agreement with the Baghdad regime for a territorial compromise favorable to Iran regarding the Shatt al-Arab waterway” resulting in the Iraqi Army  marching into Kurdish areas, slaughtering thousands, with Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State, dismissing any humanitarian consequences, by coldly declaring that “covert action should not be confused with missionary work.” In the 1980s, Iraqi Kurds rose up against the Iraqi government (then led by Saddam Hussein) again, led by the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which was, at  the time supported by the U$ through agricultural, economic, and military support,  with the U$ looking the other way as many of these funds “were laundered by purchasing military equipment despite widespread knowledge that it was being deployed as part of Baghdad’s genocidal war against the Kurds.” This went to such an extreme that in March 1988 after the Iraqis attacked Kurdish town of Halabja, killing thousands, the U$ leaked phony intelligence in order to claim that Iran “was actually responsible.” [4] This incident in 1988 was not isolated, with clear proof other other attacks by Iraq in 1986 and 1987, and even an effort by Senator Clairborn Bell to put pressure on the Iraqi government but this was killed by the Reagan Administration, which wanted to “continue its military and economic support of Saddam Hussein’s regime.”  Later on, the U$ conquest of Iraq shamelessly used “suffering of the Kurdish people under Saddam’s rule…as an excuse” for bloody imperial intervention.

After the destruction of much of the air force of Iraq in 1991 by the Gulf War, there was “strict enforcement of a “no-fly zone” covering most Kurdish-populated areas in northern Iraq,” meaning that Iraq no longer “had the capacity to engage in such large-scale repression,” in Zunes’ opinion, which kinda ends up supporting imperialist intervention. Anyway, as a result, as the Shiites rebelled in Southern Iraq later that year, the Kurds made major advances, seizing a number of towns, reversed “by a brutal counter-attack by Iraqi government forces.” And while George H.W. Bush told the people of Iraq to rise up against Saddam, U$ forces “did nothing to support the post-war rebellion and stood by while thousands of Iraqi Kurds, Shiites, and others were slaughtered” and furthered the injury by excluding “Iraqi helicopter gunships from the ban on Iraqi military air traffic…[which proved] decisive in crushing the rebellions.” Some suspect,he wrote this happened because “the Bush administration feared a victory by Iraqi Kurds might encourage the ongoing Kurdish uprising in Turkey, a NATO ally,” which blocked more than “100,000 Kurds from entering their country, thereby trapping them in snowy mountains in violation of their obligations under international humanitarian law to allow the fleeing civilians sanctuary.” As such, U$ forces ” operating out of its bases in Turkey and with the assistance of a dozen other countries, began air dropping emergency supplies, soon followed by the deployment of thousands of troops into northern Iraq to provide additional aid and to construct resettlement camps” which continued into 1996. Soon enough the U$, Great Britain and France, “unilaterally banned the Iraqi government from deploying any of its aircraft in northern Iraq above the 36th parallel with the stated goal of enforcing UN Security Council resolution 688” putting in place a no-fly-zone of “dubious legality” which at first received “widespread bipartisan support in Washington and even among human rights advocates as an appropriate means of preventing a renewal of the Iraqi government’s savage repression of the Kurdish people.” However, this zone itself did not “protect the Iraqi Kurdish populations from potential assaults by Iraqi forces, which…had pulled back and were focused on post-war reconstruction and protecting the regime in Baghdad” and seeing this zone evolve into “an excuse for continuing a low-level war against Iraq, France soon dropped out of the enforcement efforts.” Then in August 1996, using the ” factional fighting broke out between the PUK and the KDP in Iraqi Kurdistan” as an excuse, President Bill Clinton “ordered a series of major bombing raids and missile attacks against Iraq” which garnered widespread bipartisan support even though “most of the U.S. strikes took place in the central and southern part of Iraq–hundreds of miles from the Iraqi advance.”

From this, the “mission creep” began as U$ forces “patrolling the no-fly zone gradually escalated its rules of engagement” originally justifying use of force “challenge Iraqi encroachments into the proscribed airspace,” then to include “assaults on anti-aircraft batteries that fired at allied aircraft enforcing the zone” or when”anti-aircraft batteries locked “their radar toward allied aircraft, even without firing.” This meant that by the end of the decade President Clinton was “ordering attacks on additional radar installations and other military targets within the no-fly zone, even when they were unrelated to an alleged Iraqi threat against a particular U.S. aircraft.” As such, when  Bush II came to power, targeting was further expanded, with “the U.S. attacking radar and command-and-control installations well beyond the no-fly zones” and by 2002, “U.S. air strikes against Iraq were taking place almost daily.” This all meant that “rather than an expression of humanitarian concern for Iraq’s Kurdish population, the no-fly zones became instruments to legitimize U.S. attacks against Iraq” and they ended up, during their 12 years of operation (1991-2003) to kill “far more Kurds” than the Iraqi government! The U$ support for these Kurds was clearly further insincere because of the “strong U.S. support for the Turkish government in its repression of its own Kurdish population” (which could happen again), with the U$  remaining silent during the 1990s “regarding the Turkish government’s repression,”  selling the Turks billions of dollars in armaments  in the 1980s and 1990s as “the Turkish military carried out widespread attacks against civilian populations.” These attacks were so extensive that “over 3,000 Kurdish villages were destroyed and over two million Kurds became refugees” with 3/4 of the weapons of U$ origin. The U$ government even defended “periodic incursions into the safe haven by thousands of Turkish troops as well as air strikes by the Turkish military inside Iraqi territory.” And to go back to Ocolan, which Dolack seems to revere, the U$ government first “successfully pressured Syria to expel PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan” in 1998 and then in February 1999, the U$ (likely CIA) “assisted Turkish intelligence agents in locating Ocalan in Kenya, where he was kidnapped, brought to Turkey and initially sentenced to death, though this was later commuted to life in prison”! With that, why would any Kurd trust the U$? Clearly, this indicates  to me that something else is going on, that the Kurdish bourgeoisie are clearly out for themselves and act like they have “forgotten” their history.

Zones ends his article by noting that the “PKK resumed its armed struggle in 2004,” that  Kurds in Northern Iraq “formally gained unprecedented rights as a result of the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003” and have “evolved into a de facto independent state” while also noting that “government corruption is widespread in Iraqi Kurdistan and opposition activists are routinely beaten, tortured, and killed,” even though it is a place that at the time of his writing (2007), hosted “thousands of American troops, diplomats and businesspeople.” He also noted  how the U$ backed an “Iranian Kurdish group known as PEJAK, which has launched frequent cross-border raids into Iran, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Iranians.” He ended the article in calling for “greater American leadership” in telling the Kurds in Northern Iraq to “crack down on PKK military activities inside their territory,” the U$  severing their “ties to the PEJAK,” telling the Turks to “honor Iraqi sovereignty and cease their attacks against suspected PKK targets inside Iraqi territory,” along with a number of other policies. [5]

But that isn’t the whole story, apart from Western treachery. One writer even said that “every human disaster can be counted as a political step forward in the Kurds’ pursuit of their historical entitlement to statehood,” adding that “whenever possible they expand the territory they control – taking over oil and gas reserves in adjacent areas – and assert greater authority over their own heartlands,” while also noting that while “in theory they are fighting to create a unitary state in all of Kurdistan, a territory whose borders are undefined but that in some Kurds’ imaginings stretches all the way from deep inside Iran to the shores of the Mediterranean.”This same person added that “across their four main ‘host’ countries, though, the Kurds are internally divided over strategy” with some seeking a “seek a single Kurdish nation-state; others prefer autonomy within the state they inhabit; others would be content with recognition of their rights as a minority in a truly democratic state,” with many seeming to “internalised the post-Ottoman borders, embracing their separate identities as Iraqi, Syrian, Turkish or Iranian Kurds,”  meaning that they “can’t make significant headway in their pursuit of greater freedom without the aid of an external power” with aid that has “whether from the US, Iran or the Soviet Union and Russia…always been part of a strategy in which the Kurds are merely instrumental.” [6] This, still, is only part of the story.

A search on the website of the U$ Department Office of the Historian, which has previous diplomatic documents ranging throughout U$ history online, does not paint a pretty picture. One of the earliest mentions of Kurds is in 1866, with one document recording that the mountain region of Syria is “inhabited by Kurd and Turcoman tribes” with another in 1885 condemning the “outrage perpetrated by the Kurd, Moussa Bey, upon the American citizens, Messrs. Knapp and Reynolds.” The next mention of value, apart from those condemning any “further outrage by the Kurd tribe they will be hanged” (1905) and “Kurd accomplices” who “await attack” (1906), is the rough description of “Kurdistan” in 1904:

The home of the Kurds or “Kurdistan” is an indefinite geographical expression, but may be roughly understood as beginning at Mount Ararat on the north and stretching south to where the mountains fade away into the plains of Mesopotamia above Bagdad, say, 300 miles; the width of the region may be measured by the distance between Lake Urumia in Persia and Lake Van in Turkey—something like 100 miles; the area of this region is as large as the State of South Carolina. It disregards imperial boundaries, as its inhabitants disregard imperial laws and orders; it extends into Persia or Turkey according to the pleasure and habits and wanderings of these wild people. Notwithstanding the strict laws that require passports to enter Turkey or Persia, the Kurd relies with confidence and success upon his rifle and scimitar rather than upon paper and seals and visas, and so crosses indifferently into either territory to commit crimes, or to escape the consequences of his crimes. This is the Kurd, the creature we have to deal with in this case.

This is a crude understanding of the Kurdish people, and likely a bit racist (calling them “the creature”), but the pictured size of “Kurdistan” which disregards borders, with the people themselves crossing borders without problems still rings true.

Then, after a mention of the “Kurd and Turkish population of Armenia…massacring Armenians with the connivance and often assistance of Ottoman authorities,” seeming to implicate them in the Armenian genocide, we can fast forward many years. In 1945 and 1946, U$ diplomats worried about Soviet support of “Kurd agitation” which would weaken U$ allies (Iran and Turkey), putting them under threat. The British shared this concern as well, with one diplomatic document saying that the “British Chargé d’Affaires [was] also concerned with free movement Barzanis and Soviet Kurd political agents from USSR to Iraq through Iranian Kurdistan.”

With that, we move onto 1962. One diplomatic cable in 1962 noted that a Kurdish officer made a “strong plea for US support of revolution movement” saying that most Communists have been removed from the KDP, cooperate with “conservative Arab Iraqi elements and bring Iraq back into Baghdad Pact” if the U$ wishes,and give the U$”full information on internal political or military developments in Kurdistan or Arab Iraq.” Noting the viewpoint of Mulla Mustafa (also known as Mustafa Barzani), he said that the Shah of Iran would like Kurdistan as an “autonomous republic” while adding that they maintain “regular contact with the UAR” and the Soviets in Baghdad whom they  are not willing to burn bridges with “unless they have assurances USG will support their movement.” The cable went onto say that “Israel has offered assistance to Kurds in Europe but this refused…because they fear Israel might purposely reveal information and “movement” would be harmed throughout Arab countries,” and noting that Barzani  would rather “cooperate with West rather than with USSR” who he did not trust. As such, the Kurds were hoping for a change in U$ policy, which was that “Kurdish problem in Iraq [is] an internal matter which should be resolved internally” while they also “believe the future well-being of Kurds in Iraq, as well as those in Iran and Turkey, is inseparably tied to the well-being of the countries in which they reside.” One year later, a paper noted JFK’s  desire to do all they can to “help Iraq and thus consolidate its break with the Soviets,” which would, by  extension, possibly imply assistance to the Kurds.

Then we go to 1966. A diplomatic message said that rather than giving a “congratulatory message” to the Iraqis “on thwarting of coup” that should rather, among other aspects, give “congratulations on GOI [government  of Iraq] political program for Kurds and on gaining Kurdish acceptance, and…hope that settlement will be implemented promptly, consistently and in good faith by both GOI and Kurds.” They also  speculated the coup attempt may have been related to the “June 29 announcement of Kurdish settlement.”

By the 1970s, there would be a lot of action in efforts to assist Kurds, specifically those in Iraq. One of these was to, in 1972 or 1973, provide $3 million dollars to “assist Mulla Mustafa Barzani and the Iraqi Kurds in their resistance against the Bathi Iraqi regime” along with “roughly $2 million in supplies…to be delivered via CIA channels.” In 1972, the Shah of Iran said he was “afraid the Soviets would establish a coalition of the Kurds, the Baathists, and the Communists,” suggesting to Henry Kissinger  that “Turkey needs strengthening…[and that] Iran can help with the Kurds.” According to the  memoirs of Kissinger (Years of Renewal, pp. 582–3), during this same conversation, President Nixon agreed that “without American support, the existing Kurdish uprising against the Baghdad Government would collapse” and that U$ participation “was needed to maintain the morale of such key allies as Iran and Jordan” even though “no record of this conversation was found.” Other cables noted millions in contributions to the “Kurdish cause” while also saying in 1973 that “the Kurds, who make up about 30 percent of the Iraqi population…are in a chronic state of revolt.” They also added that these Kurds “are part of the some 5–6 million Kurds located in contiguous areas of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey” with thee ultimate goal of “an independent Kurdish state, but the Iraqi Kurds will settle, for the moment at least, for autonomy within a unified Iraqi state as long as they also share in the central government.” The following year, the U$ government said it opposed an “autonomous” Kurdish government, saying it “escalate the situation well beyond our covert capabilities to contribute meaningfully”and that disclosure of U$ involvement would send a signal to the Soviets, “affect U.S.-Turkish relations,” and would be viewed a certain way by Arabs. They also declared that such a state “could be considered tantamount to aggression against Iraq,”  while noting that the Shah sees benefit, like the U$, “in a stalemate situation in Iraq in which the Ba’ath government is intrinsically weakened by Kurdish refusal to relinquish its semi-autonomy.” They concluded that they hoped to signal to Barzani, by giving “more funds and supplies.” that the U$ is “till sympathetic and friendly to his predicament and prepared to continue to help on a scale which can be kept covert, but that we cannot play a prime role in the new ballgame.”

Then we get to 1975. That year there was talk about approaching the Iranians to “determine how Iran intends to handle its future relationship with the Kurds” since, as it was argued, the “the Iranian and the U.S. Governments will face [a problem] in the U.S. and elsewhere if there is a massacre and Barzani charges that he has been let down.” They further argued that “the plight of the Kurds could arouse deep humanitarian concern”while it could also “create an impossible situation if we were to be working at cross purposes with Iran.” It was that year that U$-backed Iranians withdrew their “support of the Iraqi Kurds” leading the rebellion by these Kurds, which had started a year before, to collapse, with “hundreds of thousands…[fleeing] the country to refugee camps, mainly in Iran.”

One more cable is worth mentioning. It is in 1978. It says that while Communists and Kurds are represented in the Iraqi government it is “essentially cosmetic” as the opposition, “be it Communist, Kurd, rival Baathist, or military—seems to be in disarray, unable to mount an effective challenge to Saddam or alter the present governmental or political structure.” There are a number of other results as well, for those who are interested in pursuing this search further.

Many years later, in 1998, representatives of the KDP and PUK met in Washington, D.C. to sign an accord (the Washington Agreement) to resolve their issues, which has not been fully implemented, with ongoing negotiations and discussions. By 2002, the Kurds were warning that Saddam would  respond to U$ attack by “by deploying weapons of mass destruction as he has done in the past” while also saying that overthrow of Saddam ” would serve justice for the man who has harmed them for decades,” both of which fed into the drive for a full-out war. [7] A few years later, Najmaldin Karim, the  former president and founder of the Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI), complained that imperial planners of the Iraq Study Group were ignoring “Kurdistan,” noting that even Turkey and Russia have set up consulates in this region of Iraq. How did he promote the region? He said it  had “a peaceful, thriving economy” and that”Iraqi Kurds are massively pro-American”  adding that the Kurds are “America’s closest allies in Iraq,” claiming that the U$is embarrassed of its previous betrayals of the Kurds. He went further to endorse the “proposal promoted by Senator Joe Biden and…Leslie Gelb” which would balkanize the country into a Shia, Sunni, and Kurd region. How does he not see a problem with this?

This brings us to an open question: who is the WKI? We know that they are people who promote those who advocate for the “Kurdish cause” including those who want continued U$ intervention in Syria, to create “a safe haven,” critical of the “autocratic Turkish nation-state,” and those who are part of the Kurdish government in northern Iraq (KRG) who boast about their connections in Washington, D.C., and to the “Kurdistani diaspora,” including to the bourgeoisie in the energy sector (specifically oil & gas). They also, helpfully list all the “Kurdish parties,”or at least the ones they point in that category. This organization, which was founded in 1996, defines itself, basically as the one-stop-shop for “Kurd-related issues,” and has been promoted by the KRG. They have such a connection that Karim became the Governor of Kirkuk (from 2011-2017)!  Sourcewatch tells a little more. While their page for the organization doesn’t show anything in particular, there are clear connections of former and current individuals of WKI to the NGO world, AIPAC, the U$ government (like the CIA and State Department), American Enterprise Institute, anti-Soviet causes, and outright advocacy for the overthrow of Saddam, in line with imperial interests.  Clearly, these people have an agenda which meshes with the murderous empire, making one skeptical of existing efforts for Kurdish nationalism without question.

Dolack’s comment #8:

Surrounded and blockaded by Turkey, an oppressive Syrian government, Islamic State terrorists and a corrupt Iraqi Kurdistan government in alliance with Turkey, the Syrian Kurds of Rojava have made a series of realpolitik choices, one of which is to accept a U.S. military presence in the territory to prevent Turkey from invading. That in the wake of the announced U.S. withdrawal Rojava authorities have asked the Syrian army to move into position to provide a new buffer against Turkey — despite the fact the Assad father and son régimes have been relentlessly repressive against them — is another difficult decision made by a people who are surrounded by enemies.

My response: This is getting into pro-imperialist territory fast, declaring that the Syrian government is “oppressive” and acting like they are all surrounded by enemies, the same thing that the Zionists say all the time as they cry for U$ assistance. There is a major question if “U.S. military presence in the territory [would]…prevent Turkey from invading” as I will discuss below, in response to another one of Dolack’s comments. But to say that negotiating with the Syrian army is hard because of repression by the Syrians, also moves into pro-imperialist territory, as the Syrians don’t want a Turkish invasion either, evidenced by the recent agreement between the Syrian government and the YPG. More on on the Syrian government role will be addressed later in this piece.

Dolack is  basically making the same argument as Noam Chomsky, that a “small US troop contingent in the Kurdish region serves as a deterrent to a likely Turkish invasion, extending their criminal assault against Kurds in Turkey itself and the regions of Syria they have already occupied,” even though this is clearly an imperialist position, as much as embattled French President Emanuel Macron telling Vladimir Putin that the Kurds must be protected at all costs. Cries from those like Dolack along with dedicated imperialists have led the orange menace to say that Syrian Kurds (the ones the U$ supports) will be protected by the U$, while also claiming that some Kurds sell oil to Iran, but apparently not those in Syria. His comments were echoed by Pompeo who said that the orange menace stressed “the importance of ensuring that the Turks don’t slaughter the Kurds” as U$ forces are re-deployed from Syria to Iraq. After all, as his trip across the Mideast will declare load and clear that “the United States is not leaving the Middle East,” continuing efforts of imperial stabilization.

Dolack’s comment #9:

To ignore what the Kurdish people, in attempting to build a socialist, egalitarian society, have to say are acts of Western chauvinism. It is hardly reasonable to see the Syrian Kurds as “naïve” or “puppets” of the U.S. as if they are incapable of understanding their own experiences. And Turkey’s invasion of Rojava’s Afrin district, which was disconnected from the rest of Rojava, resulting in massive ethnic cleansing, should make clear the dangers of further Turkish invasions.

This is where Dolack, as I said on Twitter yesterday, basically said that opposing U$ troops in Syria is racist as is apparently ignores what “the Kurdish people” are “attempting  to build.” So, should we ignore the fact that the Kurds in Rojava are  not even politically united or that the PKK recently attacked a Turkish military base, raising the question if they are trying to goad the Turks into attacking? There is no doubt that the Turks want to engage in a form of ethnic cleansing and wipe out these Kurdish people, or at least incapacitate them, likely with U$ assistance. These Kurds, specifically their leaders, are active participants and clearly aware of their role, even while they do not remember (or have conditioned themselves to forget) the clear U$ history of betraying the Kurdish people in the past. The U$ imperialists see them as puppets which they can discard when they are “down with them,” even though they are still human beings who are not playthings, who have every right to determine their own way forward…

Dolack’s comment #10:

The Kurdistan National Congress, an alliance of Kurdish parties, civil society organizations and exile groups, issued a communiqué that said, as its first point, “The coalition forces must not leave North and East Syria/Rojava.” The news site Rudaw reports that Islamic State has gone on the offensive since President Trump acquiesced to President Erdoğan’s demand, and quotes a spokesperson for the Kurd-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces as saying that “More than four million are exposed to the danger of massive displacement, escaping from possible genocide,” noting the example of Turkey’s brutal invasion of Afrin.

My response: That announcement by the Kurdistan National Congress is no surprise, as they are sticking with their previous policy of wanting U$ support, which is actually an ahistorical decision. It also does not surprise me that, if the reports he noted are true, that “Islamic State has gone on the offensive since President Trump acquiesced to President Erdoğan’s demand” since Daesh (another name for the “Islamic State”) is supported either directly or indirectly by the United States itself! At the same time, as I said in my article in late December, the story that the orange menace acquiesced to Erdogan is too simplistic, that there is something more going on, some sort of planning by the advisors of the orange menace. I also do not doubt that there would be “danger of massive displacement.” However, the way the SDF frames this, as does Dolack, almost sets the stage for a “humanitarian” intervention in Northeast Syria to “protect the Kurds” which all should oppose.

Then  Dolack quotes from “someone on the ground” in “Rojava” itself, which he does not link to, but I will. It has been reprinted many places and was written by a self-declared anarchist. Although he admits that he is “not formally integrated into any of the groups here” and is basically just an observer, Dolack gives him this magical legitimacy. He does make valid points that the decision by the orange menace to “withdraw” from Syria is not antiwar or anti-imperialist, as it “will not bring the conflict in Syria to an end,” and even  is right it does give “Erdoğan the go-ahead to invade Rojava and carry out ethnic cleansing against the people who have done much of the fighting and dying to halt the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS)” while the orange menace “aims to leave Israel the most ostensibly liberal and democratic project in the entire Middle East,” all of which “will come at a tremendous cost.” But then he says that it doesn’t matter “where US troops are stationed [because] two thousand US soldiers at issue are a drop in the bucket in terms of the number of armed fighters in Syria today. They have not been on the frontlines” saying that “what matters is that Trump’s announcement is a message to Erdoğan indicating that there will be no consequences if the Turkish state invades Rojava.” He rightly criticizes Medea Benjamin, while declaring “it makes no sense to blame people here in Rojava for depending on the United States when…anyone like her has done anything to offer them any sort of alternative,” and then his  article  goes on.

It here that we must recall the role of the SDF, YPG, and its associates in destroying Raqqa, dooming the civilians that lived inside. The city of Raqqa, the de-facto capital of Daesh, was declared “liberated” by these forces in October of last year, much of which was destroyed, with these forces turning their eye to “Deir ez-Zor, an oil-rich region in Syria,” engendering further conflict while the result for children, and undoubtedly others, will be the ensuing psychological damage of bombs and beheadings for years to come. The city was, as one Russian general put it, repeating the fate of Dresden in  1945, which “was erased in the British-American bombarding,” even as then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson embraced  this bloody “liberation.” SDF, in conjunction with the U$-backed coalition, made the city a living hell, with great civilian harm, from actions of the coalition due to a”reliance on air and artillery strikes ahead of more cautious ground advances” while “the largest weapons wielded by the SDF were 120mm mortars.” [8] This manifested itself in the fact that bombs, missiles and artillery shells, which were “fired from afar and usually targeted based on intelligence from local proxy ground forces…rained almost continuously into Raqqa.” Even worse, the civilian reception centers set up by the SDF on the outskirts of the city, where civilian “survivors were able to speak freely about their harrowing experiences” was a sham as there was “little or no official record kept of their testimonies about the toll of fighting and bombing inside the city”! That wasn’t all: the SDF and U$-backed coalition gave conflicting messages to Raqqa’s civilians, sometimes telling them to leave, other times telling them to stay, with the question of how “the SDF was able to differentiate populations in the city.” As such, there were obvious concerns the “Coalition and its SDF allies are not taking enough care to protect civilians.” As one report in New Eastern Outlook added, thanks to “massive US air strikes in support of their ground allies, the Kurds, the United Nation estimates that 80 percent of Raqqa is uninhabitable now, raising a crucial question of who was the city won for and who will be placed there after Daesh has been forced to flee and re-locate?” The article further asked how the destroyed city will “return to local governance and leadership and that the city’s residents now have a chance to control their own future,” given that the city “has nothing, neither standing buildings nor residents, that the local authorities will be managing or governing,” and that there is “nothing for them to return to.” It was further noted that the predominantly Sunni Arabs distrusted their so-called “liberators,” while  they doubt “if international aid would ever reach them to facilitate such large scale rehabilitation” which is justified because the YPG abandoned the city of Kobani after their victory in 2015, meaning that “the city was completely destroyed and remains in tatters even after two years.” This is something that Dolack will, of course, not mention at all, because  it makes clear that the YPG, SDF, the U$-backed coalition, and their associates have blood on their hands, specifically the blood of civilians, obviously meaning that war crimes have been committed without question.

Dolack’s comment #11:

None of this means we should forget for a moment the role of the United States in destroying attempts to build socialism, or mere attempts to challenge U.S. hegemony even where capitalist relations are not seriously threatened. Certainly there is no prospect of a U.S. government supporting socialism in Rojava; experiments in building societies considerably less radical than that of Rojava have been mercilessly crushed by the U.S. using every means at its disposal. That the project of Rojava, for now, has been helped by the presence of U.S. troops is an unintentional byproduct of the unsuccessful U.S. effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. At the same time of the expected pullout from Rojava, U.S. troops will remain in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they are unambiguously occupiers.

This is a backward way of justifying U$ presence, saying it is bad elsewhere (Iraq and Afghanistan) but good in Syria? That is a twisted perspective. Is it right then that the SDF raced to seize oil-rich parts of Syria, including the “Al-Omar oil field in eastern Syria” or that U$ continues to deliver arms and ammunition to the SDF? Is it also right that the U$ army has “set up a sum of fourteen military bases for its ground troops in different parts of Iraq, including the Iraqi Kurdistan region”? Because Dolack sounds like he is saying this is right. Perhaps Dolack forgets that Rojava would not be possible if it was not for the West, as I have noted in the past. They came about thanks to the turmoil caused by the unrest in Syria, with many efforts at imperial destabilization of the county under way.

Dolack’s comment #12:

Even if the analysis is overly mechanical, cheering the withdrawal of troops is understandable, given the imperialist history of U.S. aggression. Less understandable is support for the bloodthirsty Assad regime. “The enemy of what I oppose is a friend” is a reductionist, and often futile, way of thinking. The Ba’ath regime of Hafez and Bashar Assad have a long history of murderous rampages against Syrians. The United Nations Human Rights Council reports “patterns of summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, including sexual violence, as well as violations of children’s rights.” Amnesty International reports that “As many as 13,000 prisoners from Saydnaya Military Prison were extrajudicially executed in night-time mass hangings between 2011 and 2015. The victims were overwhelmingly civilians perceived to oppose the government and were executed after being held in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance.”

My response: When you see the words “Assad brutality in the service of neoliberalism” beginning this section of Dolack’s  article, you know it is going to be a crapshoot. Clearly, Dolack is working to justify  his argument that “Rojava” is completely surrounded by enemies. He does admit that “cheering the withdrawal of troops is understandable, given the imperialist history of U.S. aggression” which is a valid point, but he is also trying to sneer at the left. He then declares “support for the bloodthirsty Assad regime” is not understandable, declaring that “the Ba’ath regime of Hafez and Bashar Assad have a long history of murderous rampages against Syrians.” As a person who is openly willing to be more critical of the Syrian government as it clearly represents the Syrian bourgeoisie and is, at best, progressive, I was interested to see what sources he used: the UN Human Rights Council report and Amnesty International. Clearly, he is forgetting the behind the mask of human rights organizations, they “are promoting the war agenda of western and regional governments. Some are worse than others.”As for this specific report, it turns out it was totally fabricated with the U$ government basically trying to say that Assad is Hitler. What about the UN Human Rights Report? Well, you have to be skeptical when this report, from 2011, when it was based on “interviews with 223 victims and witnesses, but observers were not allowed access to the country,” which American Thinker endorsed with little comment. It makes, as such, no sense that this report is given even a shred of credibility.

Dolack’s comment #13:

Enforced monoculture agriculture was imposed on the Kurdish regions of Syria by the Ba’ath régime, with no economic development allowed. These areas were intentionally kept undeveloped under a policy of “Arabization” against Kurds and the other minority groups of the areas now comprising Rojava. Kurds were routinely forcibly removed from their farm lands and other properties, with Arabs settled in their place. Nor should the Assad family rule be seen in as any way as progressive. Neoliberal policies and increasingly anti-labor policies have been imposed. The spark that ignited the civil war was the drought that struck Syria beginning in 2006, a disaster deepened by poor water management and corruption.

My response: While I could say, yes, this whole section has a degree of credibility, I am skeptical because Dolack cites no sources whatsoever for this information. I would agree that “neoliberal policies and increasingly anti-labor policies have been imposed,” sure, but at the same time, the relationship between the Western and Syrian bourgeoisie has definitely broken since 2011. I am not sure Gowans is right when he says the U$ has been scheming against Syria since the 1960s, but there sure was some hostility before 2011, with the relationship obviously tenuous at times. Now, I have also heard the theory that “the spark that ignited the civil war was the drought that struck Syria beginning in 2006, a disaster deepened by poor water management and corruption” but that almost would be too easy of an explanation. Additionally, this conception acts like this is a civil war when it is really an attack on the Syrian government by the U$, devolving into a proxy war of sorts between varied forces.

Dolack’s comment #14:

Political scientists Raymond Hinnebusch and Tina Zinti, in the introduction to Syria from Reform to Revolt, Volume 1: Political Economy and International Relations, provide a concise summary of Assad neoliberalism. (The following two paragraphs are summarized from their introduction.)

Hafez al-Assad became dictator, eliminating Ba’athist rivals, in 1970. He “constructed a presidential system above party and army” staffed with relatives, close associates and others from his Alawite minority, according to professors Hinnebusch and Zinti. “[T]he party turned from an ideological movement into institutionalized clientalism” with corruption that undermined development. In turn, Alawite domination bred resentment on the part of the Sunni majority, and a network of secret police and elite military units, allowed to be above the law, kept the regime secure. Over the course of the 1990s, widespread privatization drastically shrank the state sector, which earned Assad the support of Syria’s bourgeoisie.

Upon Assad’s death in 2000, his son Bashar was installed as president. Bashar al-Assad sought to continue opening Syria’s economy to foreign capital. In order to accomplish that, he needed to sideline his father’s old guard and consolidate his power. He did, but by doing so he weakened the régime and its connections to its base. He also altered the régime’s social base, basing his rule on technocrats and businessmen who supported his economic reforms and concomitant disciplining of the working class. Syria’s public sector was run down, social services reduced, an already weak labor law further weakened and taxation became regressive, enabling new private banks and businesses to reap big incomes.

My response: While I am glad that Dolack, for once, this is clearly an “Assad is a dictator” type of book. One of the endorsements of the book on the Syracuse University Press website comes from David W. Lesch, who wrote a book titled Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad. Uh-oh. Additionally, on the Amazon website, the book is described as providing “insightful snapshots of Bashar al-Asad’s decade of authoritarian upgrading provide an indispensable resource for understanding the current crisis and its disastrous consequence.” Yikes! So we already know this is getting bad when Hafez al-Assad is described by Dolack as a “dictator” who eliminates “Ba’athist rivals” with no mention of his participation in the 1963 or 1966 coups, which allowed him to rise up the government structure, and alluded to the 1970 coup, also called the “Corrective Movement.” If we took Dolack’s summary at face value, then Assad constructed a presidential system based on patronage, which led to resentment from the majority Sunnis and a  “network of secret police and elite military units…kept the regime secure.”Additionally, we would conclude that over the 1990s, “widespread privatization drastically shrank the state sector, which earned Assad the support of Syria’s bourgeoisie.” Just taking from sources cited on the Wikipedia page of Hafez al-Assad, all of which is negative, we learn that the state was nationalistic, militaristic, secular and apparently “socialist” (not really), focusing on “domestic prosperity and economic independence,” despite accused horrors. [9] So, perhaps he is right about privatization efforts which increased the power of the Syrian bourgeoisie, but it is wrong to paint Syria as some ghoulish place commanded by an all-powerful monster. As such, I have to say his words “are acts of Western chauvinism,” just like he accused the “Left” of doing to his “beloved” Kurds.

Dolack’s comment #15:

Upon Assad’s death in 2000, his son Bashar was installed as president. Bashar al-Assad sought to continue opening Syria’s economy to foreign capital. In order to accomplish that, he needed to sideline his father’s old guard and consolidate his power. He did, but by doing so he weakened the régime and its connections to its base. He also altered the régime’s social base, basing his rule on technocrats and businessmen who supported his economic reforms and concomitant disciplining of the working class. Syria’s public sector was run down, social services reduced, an already weak labor law further weakened and taxation became regressive, enabling new private banks and businesses to reap big incomes.

My response: Again, there is the perception as Bashar al-Assad as a ghoul, being “installed as President” (the CIA can do that not a small country like Syria), sidelining “his father’s old guard and consolidate his power,” which weakened the base of his “regime,” which was now based on “technocrats and businessmen who supported his economic reforms and concomitant disciplining of the working class.” What was this all for? Well, if we take him at face value, then Bashar al-Assad “continue[d] opening Syria’s economy to foreign capital,” ran down the public sector of Syria, reduced social services, weakened the labor laws, made taxation regressive, while also enabling “new private banks and businesses to reap big incomes.” To take from a liberal paper, they echoed the same thing, saying that Assad’s “Syria would be modern and technocratic, a new model for the Middle East,” saying he wants approval from the “West, from educated Damascenes, from the artists and the intellectual class,” quoting an unnamed Syrian intellectual,while also noting that when he came into power, he “allowed private ownership of banks. The government even granted a license to the country’s first independent newspaper” until this bourgeois openness was ended. [10] The same article also said that early on, “syria had been an unofficial partner of the United States, even covertly torturing suspected militants” but after 2003, the “Bush administration began hinting that Syria could be the next candidate for regime change,” while adding that “Assad took pleasure in toying with the West” and that he spent his first time in office refining the economy policy, “privatizing the old state-run industries without actually creating any new competition. It was gangster capitalism cloaked in neoliberal free-market rhetoric.” There are other parts of the article which are questionable on their merit, which I will not mention here. One commentary in the horrid Guardian said in 2008 that there was openness by the Syrian government toward certain Western  countries, like France (the former colonizers of Syria), the ongoing problem of the Muslim Brotherhood violently opposing the government, and a continuing “seesawing relationship with the US,” even quoting him as saying “when our interests have matched, the Americans have been good to us. When the interests have differed, they wanted us to mould ourselves to them, which we refused.” [11] Whose interests is he talking about? That of the Syrian bourgeoisie. Additionally, other articles noted that he had promised “a China-style economic liberalization whose very success would mitigate the need for political reform” while some “analysts” grumbled that because of the country’s turmoil there is no chance it “could be democratic,”not recognizing the role of the West in creating such a situation! [12]

Dolack’s comment #16:

[The Assad family is] Not exactly friends of the working class, and a strong contrast to the system of “democratic confederalism” as the Rojava economic and political system is known.

My response: While I’ll agree, sure, they represent the Syrian bourgeoisie, it is wrong to point out how they currently stand diametrically opposed to U$ imperialism at  this current time? I don’t see”Rojava” as any better. In fact, I’d argue it is worse as it allows imperialists an “in” into the country itself, which is dangerous for all living in the region, as it will undoubtedly lead to further violence. I have written about this in the past, saying that Syria is socially democratic, but I am currently going through my articles as an exercise in self-criticism. Once that article specifically is looked over, I will link it here.

Dolack’s comment #17:

Clandestine organizing had been conducted among Syrian Kurds since a 2004 massacre of Kurds by the Assad régime; much of this organizing was done by women because they could move more openly then men under the close watch of the régime. Kurds were supportive of the rebels when the civil war began, but withdrew from cooperation as the opposition became increasingly Islamized and unresponsive to Kurd demands for cultural recognition. Meanwhile, as the uprising began, Kurdish self-protection militias were formed in secret with clandestine stocks of weapons. The drive for freedom from Assad’s terror began on the night of July 18, 2012, when the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) took control of the roads leading into Kobani and, inside the city, people began to take over government buildings.

My response: You know that Dolack is working extra hard to justify “Rojava” when this section of his article begins with the title “Building political democracy through communes” which makes me think of the criticism of Marx and Engels of those who advocated for communes  in the 19th century, the first people who called themselves socialist. For him, sure that is great that “clandestine organizing had been conducted among Syrian Kurds” since 2004, mainly by women rather than men. Count me skeptical that there was a “2004 massacre of Kurds by the Assad régime” based on the previous information he has presented. To say that “Kurds were supportive of the rebels when the civil war began,” is troublesome, because these “rebels” ended up, unlike these Kurds, being literal pawns, but it makes sense they broke from these individuals. Also, what is “Islamized”? I don’t think that is even an actual word, making me think he is clearly being Islamophobic here  and not accurate to what happened. Furthermore, saying that “Kurdish self-protection militias” were secretly forming and had “clandestine stocks of weapons” brings up a whole number of questions, including: where did these weapons come from? Then, in a part that sounds like it could have been written in the New York Times, he says  that these Kurds began their “drive for freedom from Assad’s terror…on the night of July 18, 2012” when a YPG unit “took control of the roads leading into Kobani and, inside the city, people began to take over government buildings.” Based on what I noted about Kobani later, that they eventually abandoned the city after “liberating” it in 2015, I wonder if this fantastical story is completely  true. Did the people of Kobani want to be “liberated” in this manner? We know that Kurds from Northern Iraq came to fight alongside the YPG in 2015, which was allowed by the  Turks  and U$ but the Syrians denounced, during the siege of Kobani, and that the siege ended with “liberation” after 112 days of fighting. The siege itself damaged infrastructure and destroyed much of the town of Kobani, 70% of which had been destroyed! [13] Even one favorable article in The Atlantic in October 2016 stated that since the siege ended, “reconstruction has barely begun to compensate for the havoc wrought on the city by both ISIS artillery and coalition airstrikes…Herculean efforts have cleared the streets, but water and power have yet to be restored. Although commerce is trickling back to life…more than half of the residential structures still standing are little more than blown out concrete shells. Yet the spirit of the people endures: Some now use defused ISIS rounds as ashtrays and flower pots.” A terrible sight indeed!

Dolack’s comment #18:

What the Syrian Kurds have created in the territory known as Rojava is a political system based on neighborhood communes and an economic system based on cooperatives. (“Rojava” is the Kurdish word for “west,” denoting that the Syrian portion of their traditional lands is “West Kurdistan.”) The inspiration for their system is Murray Bookchin’s concept of a federation of independent communities known as “libertarian municipalism” or “communalism.” But democratic confederalism is a syncretic philosophy, influenced by theorists such as Immanuel Wallerstein, Benedict Anderson and Antonio Gramsci in addition to Mr. Bookchin but rooted in Kurdish history and culture.

My response: The way is framed is obviously a method for which we are supposed to cheer. Saying that their system is based on “Murray Bookchin’s concept of a federation of independent communities known as “libertarian municipalism” or “communalism”” is an indication to me that something rotten is going on. Bookchin was a dedicated anti-communist, who disliked Marxism, and thought that the best place to change “the structure of society” is at the municipal level, being a clear anarchist. To take from an article which is favorable to him in ROAR magazine, it states that Bookchin felt that capitalism’s fatal law was not exploitation of the proletariat, but “in its conflict with the natural environment,” while also advocating his idea of “libertarian municipalism” as the “key to making anarchism politically and socially relevant again,” with these ideas influencing Öcalan. Of course Bookchin was flattered, telling Ocalan in 2004: “My hope is that the Kurdish people will one day be able to establish a free, rational society that will allow their brilliance once again to flourish. They are fortunate indeed to have a leader of Mr. Öcalan’s talents to guide them,” basically endorsing the effort.

At the same time, it is a bit laughable to say that the philosophy of “Rojava,” if you can call it that, is “influenced by theorists such as Immanuel Wallerstein, Benedict Anderson and Antonio Gramsci in addition to Mr. Bookchin but rooted in Kurdish history and culture.” I say that because Wallerstein was a committed Marxist, who developed the world-systems theory (dividing of the world into the core, periphery, and semi-periphery) and Gramsci, as  I remember, defended the Soviet state as socialist. As for Benedict Anderson, this is the bourgeois scholar wrote his book, Imagined Communities, and may have mentioned capitalism in his works, but clearly is not a Marxist.  So,  with this, Dolack does not know what he is talking about, when it comes to this topic.

Dolack’s comment #19:

Political organization in Rojava consists of two parallel structures. The older and more established is the system of communes and councils, which are direct-participation bodies. The other structure, resembling a traditional government, is the Democratic-Autonomous Administration, which is more of a representative body, although one that includes seats for all parties and multiple social organizations.

My response: If we accept this at face value, it seems like a system which would engender  too much conflict. Would it not be better to have one structure rather than two? More than anything, it would seem that this would lead to utter confusion. As such, there is clearly hierarchy despite what that starry-eyed New York Times reporter thought in 2015. Additionally, this obscures the fact that “Rojava” has a proletariat and a bourgeoisie.

Dolack’s comment #20:

The commune is the basic unit of self-government, the base of the council system. A commune comprises the households of a few streets within a city or village, usually 30 to 400 households. Above the commune level are community people’s councils comprising a city neighborhood or a village. The next level up are the district councils, consisting of a city and surrounding villages. The top of the four levels is the People’s Council of West Kurdistan, which elects an executive body on which about three dozen people sit. The top level theoretically coordinates decisions for all of Rojava.

My response: Sure, we can praise  this approach, saying it pure democracy and that the People’s Council of West Kurdistan, “which elects an executive body on which about three dozen people sit…theoretically coordinates decisions for all of Rojava” but this ignores underlying problems in “Rojava.” For one, in the push for “equal political representation of all ethno-religious components” like Christians, Arabs, and Kurds, it resembles “sectarian quotas adopted in Lebanon and Iraq,” with questions arising how terms like “peoples and communities” are defined. As such, as argued by someone who is partial to “Rojava,” instance on such boundaries “betrays the libertarian transnational aspirations” and leads to a further contradiction from the “authority bestowed upon tribal leaders”! [14]

Dolack’s comment #21:

Integrated within the four-level council system are seven commissions — defense, economics, politics, civil society, free society, justice and ideology — and a women’s council. These committees and women’s councils exist at all four levels. In turn commissions at local levels coordinate their work with commissions in adjacent areas. There is also an additional commission, health, responsible for coordinating access to health care (regardless of ability to pay) and maintaining hospitals, in which medical professionals fully participate. Except for the women’s councils, all bodies have male and female co-leaders.

My response: I see how this system would seem attractive,  democratic, and progressive, including that “except for the women’s councils, all bodies have male and female co-leaders.” However, the PKK deals with dissent harshly, going against anyone who criticizes their beloved Ocalan. Additionally, while the PKK has renounced “demands for an independent Kurdistan,” it would be wrong to “ignore the ongoing military expansion of the territories controlled by the Kurds, whose outcome means the de facto fragmentation of Syria along new borders.” At the same time, as noted elsewhere in this piece, the charter of “Rojava” officially enshrines private property along with “a provision that safeguards the privileges of landowners, while encouraging them to invest in agricultural projects sponsored by the Rojava authorities” which hilariously runs counter to Bookchin’s views “on how libertarian municipalism is expected to replace private property.” [15] So much for their “philosophy”!

Dolack’s comment #22:

At least 40 percent of the attendees must be women in order for a commune decision to be binding. That quota reflects that women’s liberation is central to the Rojava project on the basis that the oppression of women at the hands of men has to be completely eliminated for any egalitarian society to be born. Manifestations of sexism, including male violence against women, have not magically disappeared. These may now be socially unacceptable, and more likely to be kept behind closed doors, but the system of women’s councils attached to the communes, and councils at higher levels, and the self-organization of women, has at a minimum put an end to the isolation that enabled the toleration of sexist behavior and allowed other social problems to fester.

My response: I can see why one would cheer this quota of women which must be present “in order for a commune decision to be binding” and you could say that “women’s liberation is central to the Rojava project.” However, the fact is that he has to admit that “manifestations of sexism, including male violence against women, have not magically disappeared” but that is now only “socially unacceptable, and more likely to be kept behind closed doors,” with women in this positions “at a minimum put an end to the isolation that enabled the toleration of sexist behavior and allowed other social problems to fester.” That seems utterly weak and pathetic. How is this really progress? It seems like one step forward and one step back at the same time.

Dolack’s comment #23:

A system of women’s houses provides spaces for women to discuss their issues. These centers also offer courses on computers, language, sewing, first aid, culture and art, as well as providing assistance against social sexism. As with peace committees that seek to find a solution rather than mete out punishments in adjudicating conflicts, the first approach when dealing with violence or other issues of sexism is to effect a change in behavior. One manifestation of putting these beliefs into action is the creation of women’s militias, which have played leading roles in battlefield victories over Islamic State.

My response: We can all clap and say this is feminist and all, even progressive by fining solutions to problems “rather than mete out punishments in adjudicating conflicts” and that “creating women’s militias” is affecting a change in behavior. This is easily countered by Andrea Glioti’s in-depth piece, which is a bit partial to “Rojava” where he notes that “militarisation of women and society at large is an alarming trend enforced through conscription and sanctioned by the social prestige enjoyed by the fighters’ families”! [16] He also says that women become worthy of respect “as long as they turn into men of arms and sacrifice themselves on the battlefield” and that while “some would defend this militarised system of values with the current need to defend Rojava…even minors…[are] forcibly enlisted to ensure the survival of a social utopia”! He further adds that European leftist solidarity groups, “cherry-picked the so-called Rojava revolution”and how they portrayed it in their media.

Dolack’s comment #24:

The basis of Rojava’s economy are cooperatives. The long-term goal is to establish an economy based on human need, environmentalism and equality, distinctly different from capitalism. Such an economy can hardly be established overnight, so although assistance is provided to cooperatives, which are rapidly increasing in number, private capital and markets still exist. Nor has any attempt to expropriate large private landholdings been attempted or contemplated.

My response: Despite the fact that this section of the article is titled “Building a cooperative economy based on human need” he interestingly begins to point out the limitations of “Rojava” which paradoxically begins to put into question if there is “socialism” or if this entity constitutes a “socialist experiment,” democratic and cooperative experiment and is “socialist, egalitarian” as he declared earlier in the article. If we are saying that the economy’s basis is “cooperatives” and that it has a long-term goal which is “an economy based on human need, environmentalism and equality” then why is the economy undeveloped enough to only have “assistance is provided to cooperatives” while “private capital and markets still exist.” Furthermore, why has there been no attempt to “expropriate large private landholdings”? What kind of socialists are they? The answer is they are clearly not socialist or radical, but are only seen that way.

Dolack’s comment #25:

Given the intentional under-development of the region under the Assad family régime, the resulting lack of industry and the civil-war inability to import machinery or much else, and the necessity of becoming as food self-sufficient as possible due to the blockade, Rojava’s cooperatives are primarily in the agricultural sector. There is also the necessity of reducing unemployment, and the organization of communes is seen as the speediest route to that social goal as well.

My response: On this count, I will not go with his claim that there was “intentional under-development of the region under the Assad family régime,” as he has not provided any sources to support that. Perhaps, there is a point that there is a “lack of industry and the civil-war inability to import machinery or much else,” and sure, it makes sense that in an effort to become “food self-sufficient” that the cooperatives of “Rojava” are “primarily in the agricultural sector.” And sure, reducing unemployment and “organization of communes” can be seem as important. However, this again obscures the fact that there is division in this society between the bourgeoisie, who are divided among their varied parties, and the proletariat, the masses within “Rojava.” The fact that class is not incorporated into his analysis, corrupts the whole article itself, making it like glass changing temperatures too fast: it develops cracks.

Dolack’s comment #26:

The practitioners of democratic confederalism say they reject both capitalism and the Soviet model of state ownership. They say they represent a third way, embodied in the idea that self-management in the workplace goes with self-management in politics and administration. Since their liberation from the highly repressive Assad régime, Rojava agriculture has become far more diversified, and price controls were imposed.

My response:  You can say it is good that they reject capitalism, but it is dangerous that they reject the “Soviet model of state ownership,” as such a model could actually help them. Instead, they declare they want “self-management in the workplace goes with self-management in politics and administration” which seems like a situation which is bound for conflict and division which makes unification hard to come by. Once again, he has to just imperialist rhetoric to talk about “liberation from the highly repressive Assad régime.” Even, taking his words at face value again, the agriculture of “Rojava” has diversified and price controls have been imposed, these are utter reforms, something that could be expected of a social democratic government in Europe, not a socialist government, to be completely frank.

Dolack’s comment #27:

Cooperative enterprises are not intended to be competitive against one another. Cooperatives are required to be connected to the council system; independence is not allowed. Cooperatives work through the economics commissions to meet social need and in many cases their leadership is elected by the communes. The intention is to form cooperatives in all sectors of the economy. But basic necessities such as water, land and energy are intended to be fully socialized, with some arguing that these should be made available free of charge. Because the economy will retain some capitalist elements for some time, safeguards are seen as necessary to ensure that cooperatives don’t become too large and begin to behave like private enterprises.

My response: You can say that they are not intended to be competitive, but they will still participate in the global capitalist system anyway. And sure, there can be an intention to “form cooperatives in all sectors of the economy.” However, if basic necessities are not yet “fully socialized,” or “made available free of charge” which only “some” want, this again raises the question as to how “radical” this whole project is. Most laughable of all is the fact “the economy will retain some capitalist elements for some time,” leading to safeguards “to ensure that cooperatives don’t become too large and begin to behave like private enterprises.” Again, like most of these comments about Rojava’s social structure, I am taking this at face value, and saying that if this is the case, it sounds like something a social-democrat-imperialist like Bernie Sanders would want rather than a real socialist.

Dolack’s comment #28:

We need not indulge in hagiography. There are, naturally, problems and contradictions. Private ownership of the means of production is enshrined in documents espousing socialism and equality, and large private landholdings, with attendant social relations, will be untouched. It is hardly reasonable to expect that a brand new economy can be established overnight, much less in a region forced to divert resources to military defense. Nonetheless, capitalists expect as much profit as can be squeezed out of their operations, an expectation decidedly at odds with goals of “equality and environmental sustainability.” In essence, what is being created is a mixed economy, and the history of mixed economies is fraught with difficulties. Another issue is that Rojava’s authorities, connected with the dominant Democratic Union Party (PYD), can be heavy-handed, including the closing of the offices of the opposition Kurdish National Council on questionable legal grounds.

My response: I found this section very interesting. Dolack is admitting that “Rojava” enshrines “private ownership of the means of production…in documents espousing socialism and equality” and that “large private landholdings, with attendant social relations, will be untouched”! Golly, even the Soviets during the New Economic Policy (NEP) wouldn’t have allowed that. Sure, he makes a good point that “it is hardly reasonable to expect that a brand new economy can be established overnight,” but they have had since 2012 to tinker with the economy of the region, if they wished (although they are blatantly violating the sovereignty of Syria), yet, they still do not have a socialist economy. He even says that what is being created “is a mixed economy, and the history of mixed economies is fraught with difficulties” and that “Rojava’s authorities…can be heavy-handed, including the closing of the offices of the opposition Kurdish National Council on questionable legal grounds”! So, how are they democratic or socialist again? I just don’t understand how they are socialist or democratic when this is going on. Dolack wouldn’t recognize that  as  he is not a Marxist and as such, any analysis of class goes by the wayside as he tries to hammer his point that “Rojava” is good and you should smile.

Dolack’s comment #29:

Nonetheless, what is being created in northern Syria is a remarkable experiment in economic and political democracy — not only Kurds but other minority groups and Arabs consciously working toward socialism. Why shouldn’t this be supported? The authors of the book Revolution in Rojava, supporters of the project and one of whom fought in the women’s militia, argue that the idea that Rojava’s acceptance of Western aid is a “betrayal” is “naïve,” drawing parallels with Republican Spain of the 1930s. Describing Rojava as an “anti-fascist project,” they note that the capitalist West turned its back on the Spanish Revolution, allowing fascism to triumph.

My response: If this is an experiment, then it has to be a “test or trial of something,” being a process or action undertaken to “discover something not yet known or to demonstrate something known,” to use the definition from the fourth edition of the Webster’s New World College  Dictionary. It can also be any “action or  process designed to find out whether something is effective, workable, valid, etc.” If it is remarkable, then it must be unusual or extraordinary, meaning it must be something that is not usual or common, rare, not very usual, or “exceptional” to use definitions of all three words from the same dictionary. If this is all true, and it is “a remarkable experiment in economic and political democracy” then why is it promoted in the main capitalist media like the New York Times (see “The Kurds’ Democratic Experiment”), Financial Times (see Power to the people: a Syrian experiment in democracy”.), Yahoo (see “Syrian Kurds give women equal rights, snubbing jihadists”), Foreign Affairs (see “The Rojava Model”), The Atlantic (see “What the Syrian Kurds Have Wrought. The radical, unlikely, democratic experiment in northern Syria”), The Guardian (see “Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?”), Slate (see “Regaining hope in Rojava” and “American Leftists Need to Pay More Attention to Rojava”), U$ government-owned media like Voice of America (see “Writings of Obscure American Leftist Drive Kurdish Forces in Syria”), and two-bit publications  like Dissent (see “The Revolution in Rojava”), OpenDemocracy (“The Rojava revolution”), and Unicorn Riot (see “Building Autonomy through Ecology in Rojava”)? Due to such promotion, it makes sense to be skeptical of his claims. To then compare “Rojava” to those fighting Spanish fascism is an utter joke, as that means that if they are “anti-fascist” then who are  the fascists? The Turks? The Syrians? The Iraqis? The Iranians? Daesh? Using a term like fascist further muddies the waters.

Dolack’s comment #30:

In the forward to the same book, David Graeber, careful to differentiate the targets of his critique from those who oppose the global dominance of North American militarism, argues…It does seem quite reasonable to hope for a socialist experiment to avoid being destroyed by Islamic State fascism, Turkish ultra-nationalism or Syrian absolutism rather than clinging to dogmatism.

My response: When I see the name David Graeber, a red alert siren goes off in my head, as I know he is the one has sneered at Syria’s government, and has been called by those on Twitter, for his horribleness, “Anarchy Dad.” And, of course, I am blocked by him. Before getting to this quote, I’d like to talk about the quote of Graeber’s that Dolack uses. In this quote Graeber sneers at those who have the “feeling that foiling imperial designs — or avoiding any appearance of even appearing to be on the ‘same side’ as an imperialist in any context — should always take priority over anything else,” showing that he, fundamentally, does not understand international solidarity. Also, it is an evident straw man he constructed on his own, allowing him to declare that this attitude, he manufactured only in his head, “only makes sense if you’ve secretly decided that real revolutions are impossible,” saying that “a genuine popular revolution” is occurring in “Rojava” which should be “success could be a beacon and example to the world.” Graeber sneer continues at “a bunch of white intellectuals” who don’t want to “sully the purity of their reputations by suggesting that US imperial forces already conducting airstrikes in the region might wish to direct their attention to the fascists’ tanks” because they don’t take the position he wants. What “world” is he talking about? The  capitalist world? Because they will accept these Kurds with open arms if they serve the interests of the bourgeoisie. The phrasing of this makes me even more wary.

Now onto Dolack’s comment. He claims that Graeber is “careful to differentiate the targets of his critique from those who oppose the global dominance of North American militarism,” although I would say he is sloppy and nasty, not careful! Clearly, Dolack does not know what the world careful means, something which I do not need to define. Of course, in the last sentence, Dolack is optimistic in hoping that “Rojava,” which he still claims is a “socialist experiment,” may be able to “avoid being destroyed by Islamic State fascism, Turkish ultra-nationalism or Syrian absolutism rather than clinging to dogmatism.” This jumble of words shows his utter confusion. Sure, Daesh is terrible, but it could be a step too far to call them fascist. I would just call them religious reactionaries at the very least. As for the Turks, I would call them neo-Ottoman marauders. As for the Syrians, I would call them a progressive force that is nationalist, with a bourgeoisie which is currently taking an anti-imperialist position.


Notes

[1] Tim Arango,”Sinjar Victory Bolsters Kurds, but Could Further Alienate U.S. From Iraq,” New York  Times, Nov 13, 2015; Morgan L. Kaplan, “Why the U.S. backed the Kurds,” Washington Post, September 9, 2014.

[2] Zach Beauchamp, “America’s Kurdish problem: today’s allies against ISIS are tomorrow’s headache,” Vox, Apr 8, 2016.

[3] Stephen Zunes, “The United States and the Kurds,” Common Dreams, Oct 26, 2007.

[4] As an article in Foreign Policy noted, “by 1988, U.S. intelligence was flowing freely to Hussein’s military. That March, Iraq launched a nerve gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq.” I mentioned this on Twitter, asking “So much for the U$ as “allies” of the Kurds. Did the SDF, PYD, and others not remember this?” That is still a valid question.

[5] Yet, the U$ criticized MEK for “helping Saddam brutally put down a Kurdish rebellion in the early 1990s, and of launching numerous attacks inside Iran.”

[6] Joost Hiltermann, “They were expendable,” London Review of Books, Nov 17, 2016. Reviewing Gibson’s book, summarized here. Also see William Safire’s “Mr. Ford’s Secret Sellout,” New York Times, Feb 5, 1976. Also see this analyzing U$ foreign policy and the Kurds from the 1950s to 1970s.

[7] Scott Peterson, “Kurds say Iraq’s attacks serve as a warning,” Christian Science Monitor, May 13, 2002;  Najmaldin Karim, “A 1991 Kurdish Betrayal Redux?,” Washington Post (opinion), Dec 2, 2006.

[8] Samuel Oakford, “They’re Still Pulling Bodies Out of ISIS’ Capital,” The Daily Beast, Mar 12, 2018.

[9] Halla Dayab, “All in the family: Building the Assad dynasty in Syria,” Al Arabiya English, Nov 28,2014; Anthony Shadid, “In Assad’s Syria, There Is No Imagination,”  PBS, Nov 8, 2011.

[10]  Annia Ciezadlo, “Bashar Al Assad: An Intimate Profile of a Mass Murderer,”The New Republic,Dec 19, 2013.

[11] Peter Beaumount, “No longer the pariah President,” The Guardian, Nov 15, 2008

[12] Anthony Shadid, “In Assad’s Syria, There Is No Imagination,”  PBS, Nov 8, 2011; Aron Lund, “Syria’s Phony Election: False Numbers and Real Victory,”Carnegie Middle EastCenter, Jun 9, 2014.

[13] Patrick Cockburn, “Isis in Kobani: US resupplies Kurdish fighters by plane – then Turkey allows reinforcements through its border,” The Independent, Oct 20, 2014; “Syrian Kurds ‘drive Islamic State out of Kobane’,” BBC News, Jan 26, 2015; Liz Sly, “Syrian regime denounces Turkey for allowing foreign fighters to enter Kobane,” Washington Post,  Oct 30, 2014; Nick Palton Walsh, “Syrian town tries to rise from ashes after ISIS defeat,” CNN, May 5,  2015; Si Sheppard, “What the Syrian Kurds Have Wrought,” The Atlantic, Oct 25, 2016.

[14] Andrea Glioti, “Rojava: A libertarian myth under scrutiny,” Al Jazeera, Aug 5, 2016.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

Dream on!: Bernie’s imperialist monster…in 2022

Samples from recent tweets that show Bernie’s imperialist positions, which are not easy to find. They include human rights imperialism (Oct 24 tweet in upper right), implying that U$ alliance with Saudis will continue (Oct 25 tweet), talks about the “sacrifices” of imperialist footsoldiers (Nov 11 tweet), war criminal George H.W. Bush is “honorable” (Dec 1 tweet), implying that imperialist WWI was an “honorable” war (Nov 11 tweet), condemning “acts of violence” and “appeals to violence,” a common progressive position of weakness (Oct 24 tweet), and declaring that the orange menace “admires” all “authoritarian[s]” he meets, which is in and of itself an imperialist position (Oct 18 tweet)
In 2016, in the second post on this blog, I mentioned how Black bourgeois figure, Ta Nehisi Coates criticized Bernie for not supporting reparations and he continued to smear socialism. Later that year, I drew up a speech where Bernie spoke to a group named “Capitalists for Bernie,” perhaps making him too honest! I also mentioned him briefly in a post about the Saudi-U$ imperial interrelationship. Finally,  in 2017, I described him as an imperialist worth despising. The proposed speech and 2017 article are used for many of the sources in this article, but I also added new sources as well, some from the ideas posted on the Twitter hashtag #SandersTheImperialist, from Bernie’s Twitter feed, and links from the “political  positions of Bernie Sanders” wikipedia page, as well, for further resources. This post is based on the idea that Bernie won the 2020 elections (very unlikely) and was inaugurated U$ president in January 2021. It does not fully show what Bernie’s murderous empire would be like, but tries to focus on the dark side of Bernie, not the side usually promoted by his boosters. Perhaps another scenario will be posted n 2019. Here it goes!

Welcome to SandersTV. I’m your host, Linda Kruneig. Today, January 31, 2022, we will be recalling the accomplishments of our leader riding the white steed of justice, the immutable Bernie Sanders, the non-Marxist president of these great United States  (and not a socialist), where the red, white and blue shine like the reflection of ruby diamond.

Last year, there were many wonderful accomplishments.

Public college is tuition-free and openly accessible, paid for by seized Russian assets (not the financial transaction tax as had been proposed before) after Robert Mueller gave the result we all wanted, when it comes to Russia, and the rascal was pushed out of office. [1] While the student loan debt continues, people can refinance their loans, universities can keep their costs down, which is great for …

[teleprompter explodes. Static]

[a technician tells her:] Ma’am, we have lost the broadcast! We can’t control it anymore!

Why can’t hackers deal with their own problems! I’m so glad that Bernie hit the Ecuadorian Embassy in London with a drone missile, killing the pesky Assange. Wikileaks needed to be dealt with since they were…

[Mic cuts out. Feed changes color, a video begins playing, from an unknown source]

SandersTV viewers, this broadcast has been hijacked by the Anti-Capitalist Liberation Unit (ACLU). We are here to tell you the truth about President Bernie Sanders, a person who has sold out this country to the capitalist class. Derivatives are going wild, causing huge economic fluctuations, Africa continues to be a market for exploitation by U$ capitalists, and the “fair trade” initiatives proposed by the current U$ government are really protectionist claptrap. [2]

Ms. Kruneig talks about “accomplishments” in education. She does not want you to remember how the chipping away of public education continues in the U$, expanding the Race to the Top Program (RTTT) and “reforming” No Child Left Behind to allow for more ranking of schools on spurious factors. [3] She also doesn’t want to remind us to how this administration has given more rights to corporations when it comes to control over content. We remember how Bernie never objected to the Mickey Mouse Protection Act or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and will never forgive him for that. [4]

There is more than this, that those Berniecrats will never tell you, because it would turn the populace against them. Apart from lobbing insults at the late Hugo Chavez, calling him a “dead communist dictator” and voting to open up the Gulf of Mexico to more oil drilling with the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement. The gun industry has been cheering since January 2021 with lax gun laws and further protections of gun manufacturers, even with changed positions over the years. [5] Those capitalists must be smiling with glee, knowing what issues he is focusing on. In tandem with that, Bernie has brought back Loretta Lynch as Attorney General, who has kept in place harsh anti-drug laws and has strongly opposed marijuana legalization efforts, breaking up marijuana dispensaries, despite past statements by Bernie supporting decriminalization and legalization. [6] This has also been part of an effort to convert private prisons to public prisons, keeping in place mass incarceration within the U$ and the racist criminal “justice” system, in part thanks to a law he voted for in 1994. Sure, cash bail and mandatory minimums have been ended, but  the federal parole system has been reinstated, further institutionalizing the prison system in this country. We remember that Bernie once said that white people don’t know what its like to  be in poor communities, experience police brutality, even as he called for reforms, which have manifested themselves today in body cameras which keep in place the necessary status quo since cops than turn them on and off.

Even worse of all, uranium has been shipped to poor communities, like with Sierra Blanca in the 1990s, a clear case of environmental racism, with his wife as a Commissioner on the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Commission. [7] There was a victory in closing the Guantanamo Bay Prison (Gitmo) but they have just been moved to a maximum security prison in Utah, where no one will say  a word. The current U$ government seems to believe that it must do “everything we can to protect our democracy and work with allies to do the same,” even though there is no democracy in the U$ and hasn’t been since 1776.

Worst of all, Bernie has continued on the Zionist trajectory of the U$ government. We know that he believes in a  modified form of Zionism, Labor Zionism to be exact, and also that he would never turn his back on AIPAC, supporting further treaties with the murderous Zionist state. [8] The never-ending “peace process” for an unattainable “two-state solution” will go on as Palestinians are killed and the U$ gives the green light, while the Zionists will be allowed to illegally occupy the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights. He also strongly opposes the BDS movement, despite the fact he opposed an anti-BDS bill in Congress years ago. This is no surprise for a president who engages in “selective and effective” drone strikes or has supported Arab monarchies (like the Saudis, which Bernie once called “despotic“) fighting as U$ proxies “against” Daesh, which came about thanks to the U$, in the place of U$ troops, for the attainment of imperial goals. [9] They are even supported by U$ airstrikes! The thousands upon thousands of private mercenaries remain across the Mideast, doing the bidding of the murderous empire. The “good” Kurds continue to be armed to serve as imperial pawns, the “Iran deal” was restored with the threat of possible sanctions kept in place to supposedly stop a nuclear weapon, there has been an “honorable” withdrawal from Afghanistan which has kept in place private mercenaries, and the security/intelligence apparatus has been expanded! [10] As such, mass surveillance is still the name of the game, coupled with the claim of making the U$ military “strong.”

The Sanders administration has not positively treated Cuba’s government, supporting so-called “democratic” opposition, with more money to USAID and NED to cause even more destabilization, leading to a government like that of Batista to take power again! We stand in solidarity with the noble Cubans resisting this assault. There has even been efforts to extradite black liberationist Assata Shakur and destabilize the government of Syria, wanting to oust the duly-elected leader, Bashar Al-Assad, with support of the Syrian “rebels” who are often religious reactionaries who will turn the country into a living hell, although he does not want a “broad war.” While we have our criticisms of the government there, we also oppose all U$ meddling across the world. The same applies to our opposition to U$ destabilization in Venezuela (also see here, here, and here), where the government is still holding on, bit by bit, and the DPRK, where sanctions remain in place, as does U$ meddling to undermine the government, opening up new markets for the bourgeoisie! Let us also not forget Bernie’s words that “when I talk about Democratic socialist, I’m not looking at Venezuela. I’m not looking at Cuba. I’m looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden,” a clear imperialist position. Even with our criticism of the Chinese revisionists, we do not support U$ meddling there, where the current administration has engaged in, going back on the word of Bernie to avoid a cold war with China, with the promotion of protectionism, working to beat them at their own game, calling out their reportedly “unfair” trade policies,” and voting for the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2000, which gave millions of dollars to support Tibetan anti-communist resistance, support NED initiatives to foster democracy in China, and for more intelligence on their dealings. [11]

Lest us remember that Bernie in 2000 voted against normal trade with China, voted for, in a number of different roll calls, throughout the year, a law which gave millions upon millions of dollars to support destabilization in China, voting for in one roll call then another, a law that provided millions more to continue to destabilize the country. Additionally, Bernie, in 2005, voted in one roll call after another, for a law to fund Tibetan anti-communist development and resistance, voted in 2007 twice, at one time and then another, for a bill that similarly destabilized China, and in 2009 again voted to fund Tibetan anti-communist resistance as part of a  a consolidated bill showed. The same year he also did not object to a law that gave millions to distribute propaganda concerning the environment, governance, transparency, and corruption within Chinese borders!

If that isn’t bad enough, let us remember how Bernie has opposed reparations for Black folks in the U$ and that as Bruce Dixon said rightly many years ago, Bernie’s ideas, stop “at the water’s edge, as he endorses apartheid in Israel, the Pentagon budget and the global empire of hundreds US bases and vast military industries that eat half the nation’s wealth annually,” making Bernie no friend of the poor anywhere outside the U$ (or inside it). So much for a person (Bernie) who once said he was “kind of conservative on getting involved in all kinds of wars abroad” and admitted he is “not a pacifist but…always understood war is the last recourse,” understanding the cost of war.

The F-35 program continues in Vermont, while the petty bourgeoisie (small business) have been supported, including for-profit cooperatives, and guest worker programs have been stopped in order to “assist” U$ workers, dooming migrants, a racist move, wanting closed rather than open borders. [12] Sure, there are no “dumb” wars, but imperialism continues with no closures of U$ bases anywhere in the world. Bernie not surprisingly seems Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin as “authoritarian,” even though neither are because of different government structures in each country, again an imperialist position.

You can talk about Bernie’s socially democratic positions all day but that does not change the fact that he is an imperialist.

End of transmission.

[show restarts]

Thank god, my show is back! Anyway, I think that is all the time we have today. Join us next time when we cover how the U$ is criticizing the Saudis for their actions in Yemen,  and how to get a signed book by Bernie himself. To all, good night.


Notes

[1] This draws from “Sanders: Make College Tuition Free,” May 19, 2015; “Sanders: Make Public Higher Ed Tuition-Free, Reform Loans, Protect Pell Grants,” Apr 13, 2015; “Sen. Bernie Sanders on The O’Reilly Factor,” Mar. 14, 2014.

[2] See his votes to deregulate derivatives in October and December 2000. He also voted for an extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which offers “incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.”Also see criticisms of AGOA from U.S. News & World Report, Public Citizen, and CEPR. By “fair trade” I am referring to his votes against a “free trade” agreement with South Korea, and the Export-Import Bank.

[3] See Bernie’s votes for No Child Left Behind’s first iteration back in 2001, then later changing his mind. Also see “Fair Funding for Schools,”Jun 3, 2012; “Vermont Wins Education Grant,” Dec 20, 2013; “Obama’s Race To The Top Drives Nationwide Wave of School Closings, Teacher Firings,” Jan 10, 2013.

[4] See the votes on the Mickey Mouse Protection Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

[5] See “Congress Passes New Legal Shield for Gun Industry,” a 2005 New York Times article about a law Bernie voted for, called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. He also voted against the Brady Act, made a statement I made about difference between guns in Vermont and shootings in Chicago which was a “dog whistle” that parroted points from the NRA. He even told Playboy that background checks won’t solve the problems we have with guns in America and believed that protecting gun manufacturers is as right as protecting those who make hammers. Also see “Bernie’s Big Break With the Left on Guns.”

[6] Bernie supported the confirmation of Loretta Lynch for an Attorney General, whom made some harsh statements opposing marijuana legalization and so on, while Bernie has also said that people who do hard drugs should be punished to the full extent of the law.

[7] See “The Texas-Vermont-Maine Nuclear Dump: Bringing Environmental Racism Home,” “Texans defend Sierra Blanca community against nuclear waste disposal, 1996-1998,” “Sanders to Sierra Blanca: Drop Dead!,” “Don’t Trust Bernie Sanders,” ““What About Sierra Blanca, Bernie?” From Radioactive Waste on the Rio Grande to Reparations,” “Sanders & Sierra Blanca Legislation,” “What You Should Know About Bernie Sanders And A Controversial Proposal To Bring Toxic Waste To Sierra Blanca.”

[8] He supported Israel in a resolution in summer 2014 and didn’t object to the United States-Israel Partnership Act of 2014. Also see articles in Forward, CNN, HuffPo, Mondoweiss, and a tweet  on the subject.

[9] Please see “democratic socialism in the United States,” a statement on the war power resolution, calling for a Saudi demand for U$ ground troops offensive, calling for Arab nations to “step up the fight against [the] Islamic state,” a statement on Iraq and Syria, a statement on Iraq, a HuffPo article, and a YouTube video. All these positions were taken even though he symbolically voted against the Iraq War in 2002. Not only did Bernie vote in favor of “peacekeeping operations” in Kosovo and in favor of missile strikes against Yugoslavia, but he said on the House floor that “I have supported the NATO bombings of military targets” in Bosnia, even though he lost some supporters by endorsing the destruction of Yugoslavia in a 78 day bombing campaign which drenched Serbia in depleted uranium. The  war would be important in setting a precedent for the wonderful humanitarian imperialists, as used in the Libyan war of 2011 due to the creation of a humanitarian pretext for intervention in Bosnia, that it was just part of a  way to create favorable conditions for corporate profit-making. As such, such humanitarian imperialism, is basically about maintaining its imperial dominance, with the humanitarian guise part of a broader propaganda offensive, with a similar approach used in the Libyan war. Bernie also voted for the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, which was about supporting anti-Saddam Iraqis, and signed by Bill Clinton into law. This law was used by Senator Sam Brownback to advocate for bringing capitalism to Iran and to argue for the Iraq War in 2003, even by George W. Bush himself that year, with the preamble to the 2002 bill for the Iraq war’s authorization, citing the law! Additionally, May 1993, Bernie voted for the use of US troops in Somalia, in 1999 justified the brutal US bombing in Bosnia, voting to use US ground troops in 1995, and quoted a member of the German Green Party, Joschka Fischer, in favor of the campaign, arguing that “[this bombing] means standing up against genocide…If we accept Milosevic as a winner, it would be the end of the Europe I believe in” and after someone said he “sold out” he declared “what do you do to a butcher who has lined up people and shot them?” and then said “I don’t know what to do, but I’ll tell you what I am doing, what I am trying to do,” later adding he was “on the phone…with the White House” to help negotiate a settlement. Sanders also voted to confirm Harold Koh as Legal Advisor for the US State Department, a Reagan lawyer who infamously declared that drone killing was legal, a position that Koh took after confirmation but Sanders never expressed an objection to.

[10] Not only did Sanders vote in favor of the imperial Afghan war in 2001 but in 2011 he said that we couldn’t withdraw all of our troops immediately and that U$ soldiers were are doing a tremendous job under very difficult circumstances. He also voted to expand the intelligence apparatus, in a law that created the position of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Counterterrorism Center, and many other anti-terror institutions, defended the Department of Homeland Security when it was at its weakest from those who wanted to deny it funding and voted to give it funding. He also told  Yahoo! News said that surveillance of “potential terrorists” is ok.

[11] The voting record on bills of interest, noted in Table A-2 on the site of the State Department, shows Bernie’s record.

[12] See “Bernie Sanders criticizes open borders at Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,” “Bernie Sanders H1B skeptic,” Bernie Sanders calls immigrants “silly, tribal and economically illiterate,”  and Bernie’s comments on “open borders.”

“Confused and capricious”: U$ imperialists re-calibrate destabilization of Syria?

As I said on Twitter, this map shows the Syrian government (“Assad regime”) holding “onto much of Syria except for the Kurds in the east, Syrian rebels (“opposition”) in the North along with “Turkish and revel [sic] forces” (referring to the “Free” Syrian Army) and scattered Daesh (“Islamic State”) remnants.” There are other maps, I’ve seen, like one shown by BBC News, but they show the same thing. This map probably simplifies events in Syria a bit too much, tying into existing imperial propaganda it does give one a general idea of what is happening.
This article was reprinted from anti-imperialism.org. Some changes have been made, but they are only in light of recent events. In light of some comments on Twitter, some (like @commieposting) have criticized how I describe the Kurds in this post, saying I should name the specific Kurdish groups which the U$ backed, previously. That is a valid point, and as such, I have updated the post to specifically name those groups.

For days now, the bourgeois media has been buzzing about possible withdrawal of all U$ troops from Syria, which are said to number 2,000 people, due to the official dictate from the orange menace on December 19th, as noted by Amber B. on this very blog in a recent post. The orange menace’s dictate came in his free-wielding Twitter declarations that Daesh was “defeated” in Syria (with the U$ “victorious”), that he made a concession to stay in Syria while claiming that the U$ is doing the work of Russia, Iran, Syria & others” who are the “local enemy” of Daesh (who are “not happy about the U.S. leaving”), while stating the U$ should not be the “the Policeman of the Middle East,” all of which appeals to his dedicated base of rabid nationalists even if much of this is filled with lies by omission and mis-truths. This was clear from White nationalist Stephen Miller (one of the advisors to the orange menace), declaring to CNN hosts, “are we supposed to stay in Syria for generation after generation, spilling American blood to fight the enemies of all those countries? ISIS has been defeated…if ISIS wants to retrench and regrow and reorganize, it’s going to be up to those countries to defeat their enemy” while others said U$ national interest is served by redeployment of troops from Syria elsewhere. [1] More worrisome were the tweets from the Chief Spokesperson of the Pentagon, Dana W. White, who declared that the U$ military campaign, officially said to be against Daesh but really meant to destabilize Syria, “is not over” and that “we have started the process of returning U.S. troops home from #Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign…We will continue working with our partners and allies to defeat ISIS wherever it operates,” leaving the door open to further imperialist meddling. With this, the question remains: are U$ imperialists re-calibrating their methods for destabilizing Syria? Regardless of the answer to that question, what do these new developments mean for the world at-large, especially the people of Syria, Iraq, Iran, and the panoply of other Middle Eastern countries, many of which have a U$ presence?

As Amber B. put it in the aforementioned post, the dictate by the orange menace “caused an uproar among legislators and the brass,” who were apparently caught off-guard by this announcement. Not only were neo-cons in Washington, like Eli Lake, Lindsay Graham (who wants to somehow change the mind of the orange menace), Max Boot, and Marco Rubio, pushing for further U$ involvement, but so were so-called “experts,” ravenous liberals like Killary, Medhi Hasan, Victoria Nuland (of Ukraine overthrow fame), Chris Coons, and Bob Menendez, libertarians like “ironic” Justin Raimondo or Maj. Danny Sjursen, who declared that “Assad is undoubtedly a monster,” and varied other politicians, all of whom are utter imperialists. Apart from the editors of the National Review declaring that U$ intervention in Syria should continue because the U$ has gained “valuable territorial leverage” and there is “work left to be done” in order to continue destabilization of Syria, even as they admit that Russia’s intervention in Syria has “been an unmitigated success,” Brian Kilmeade of Fox News angrily attacked the action by the orange menace. [2] At the same time, warmongers like Carl Bildt complained about their voices being overruled/ignored, Ian Bremmer cried like a wolf struck with an arrow, howling in pain, saying that “Assad has won…Obama’s gone, Assad is still there. It is embarrassing to admit that Assad has won,” then continuing with his typical imperialist rhetoric. Even NGOs like Refugees International and Mercy Corps seemed to support continued U$ imperial presence in Syria.

Not surprisingly, there has been a number of ill-informed takes by “good, decent liberals“: that the withdrawal is a “corrupt Russian plot” (despite the fact that another meeting between the orange menace and Putin likely will not happen), that “mass murderers” are emboldened, that the withdrawal is a “give-away to Russia in Syria” or part of an “alliance with Putin,” somehow shows that Trump is a “puppet” of Russia, that there is no clear plan or that the orange menace cares about his supposed investments in Russia and Turkey. While the last one could have some credence, the orange menace is not only out for himself, but represents the face of U$ imperialism, so, these reasons are reductive and are Russophobic approaches to what is happening in the world, tying into media narratives that promote this perspective. [3] You will never see liberals making the valid point Marx made to the International Workingman’s Association in London, that “…no new colonies, no emigration, no opening of markets, no free trade,” or any “improvement of machinery…appliance of science to production…[or] contrivances of communication,” will do away with the miseries of the working class (which he called the “industrious masses”). The point about imperialism, which is implied in this statement is what I refer to here, is that it will not do away with the working class’s troubles. The reason liberals or progressives will not make this point is that they float underdeveloped theories like “intersectionality” which does not pose class as a central component of oppression, leading to a distorted view of the world. In the process of criticizing such theories, one can avoid the petty-bourgeois sloppiness Lenin criticized in 1918, when criticizing left-communists, adding that is important for Marxists to “give a coherent and complete exposition of the principles underlying one’s views and tactics,” a process which is championed and done on a regular basis on sites such as this one.

This undoubtedly raises the question of whether this dictate “will survive the row it has unleashed.” The question of whether this dictate will survive is also questioned by the fact that varied administration officials have declared in the past year that U$ troops will remain in Syria (specifically to counter Iran), even as Rand Paul and Mike Lee support the decision by the orange menace, as does Ron Paul, who praised the decision, telling the orange menace not to “buckle” under pressure. [4] As Amber B. put it, this decision serves “as further evidence for a profoundly confused and capricious imperialist mandate.” But that does not mean we should buy into the idea that the U$ imperialists are bumbling fools like Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes, as left-journalist of Pierre Omidyar’s plaything (The Intercept) Jeremy Scahill declared at one time. It is worth noting that even oft-writing revisionist Stephen Gowans, the person who thinks that Syria is a “non-Marxist” socialist state, declared that the “announced withdrawal of US troops from Syria and the drawdown of US occupation forces in Afghanistan…more likely reflect the adoption of new means of achieving longstanding US foreign policy goals” with a policy “based on shifting the burden of maintaining the US empire increasingly to allies and private soldiers bankrolled by oil monarchies,” a clearly valid point.

As such, to recall what Amber B. said, we should remember Lenin, recognizing that “in the absence of an anti-war movement, we must build the conditions for turning imperialist war into revolutionary civil war.” This refers directly, to what Lenin wrote in 1915: that a “revolutionary struggle against the war” is empty and meaningless unless it means “revolutionary action against one’s own government even in wartime.” What does this mean? Lenin explains this means not only desiring the defeat of one’s government, but “facilitating such a defeat,” with the conversion of an imperialist war into a civil war developing out of “a number of diverse phenomena, aspects, features, characteristics and consequences of the imperialist war.” Ultimately that would allow the “proletariat to take advantage of the difficulties experienced by its government and its bourgeoisie in order to overthrow them,” but that cannot happen “without desiring the defeat of one’s own government and without contributing to that defeat.” Currently, it would be absurd to say the U$ or any Western country is on the verge of revolution, as many seem to be caught in the thick imperialist and capitalist fog of deception.

Having said all of this, it is worth noting some positive developments: that the major U$ operation in Syria (officially against Daesh) planned before the announced withdrawal will be canceled, that the U$ is planning to close the “Al-Tanf base near the Syrian border with Jordan,” and that John Bolton’s decision to expand the U$ goals in Syria to force Iranian forces to “eventually withdraw” was a failure, another defeat for the hardened imperialist. [5] Even so, the Pentagon is reportedly negotiating to “keep U.S. air power in the fight over Syria.” This means, as should be evident, imperialism, like capitalism, is very adaptable, with increasing “coordination between the monopoly capital and the state within core nations,” with monopoly capitalism involving exporting capital in order to “seek additional surplus value,” and the key feature of such imperialism involving “exporting class struggle and civil war to the peripheral regions.” The latter is the case not only in Syria, but manifests itself in the ongoing deadly armed conflicts in Mexico (drug war since 2006), Iraq (since at least 2003), Afghanistan (since 1978), and Yemen (since 2011). It also includes the smaller ongoing armed conflicts across much of eastern, central, and northern Africa, the Mideast, central Asia, East Asia, along with others scattered in parts of Europe and Latin America.

More possible than not, this call for a withdrawal is part of a re-orientation of U$ policy with Turkey tasked with balkanization of Syria, even as the Chinese revisionists don’t see this as a big deal. This handing of the baton to Turkey is evidenced by the fact that on Tuesday, the U$ State Department approved a sale of a $3.5 billion Patriot missile system, including 140 missiles and related equipment, to Turkey which recently decided not to pursue buying S-400 missiles  from Russia. [6] Additionally, on December 4th, two top State Department officials met with the Turks, where they discussed “promotion of stability and security in Syria.” Some, like cordeliers on Twitter, have further argued that that this withdrawal will “provide useful cover for a NATO proxy war managed by Turkey,” while headchoppers of Daesh are rolled into “rebel” militias, and a transition to a new phase of U$ proxy wars in the Mideast. It is even possible that the Zionists will have a role in this new strategy as Netanyahu pledged, in response to the decision of the orange menace, that “we will safeguard the security of Israel and protect ourselves from this arena” and that AIPAC declared that Iran and Hezbollah be “prevented from exploiting this development to further destabilize the region and threaten our allies,” with steps by the U$ to “counter the mounting aggression of Iran and its terrorist proxy Hezbollah.”

There is also an open question of whether Russia will be part of the partition of Syria considering they are one of the three “self-appointed guarantors of the Syrian peace process,” apart from Turkey and Iran, with Russia recently further downscaling its military presence by cutting military flights within Syria from more than hundred per day to fewer than four every week! [7] All three are part of a committee “due to write a new constitution for the country,” which could pave the “pave the way for UN-supervised elections and a possible peace process that would encourage millions of refugees to return to their homeland.” While this could have some positive results, it doesn’t seem right for these countries to re-write a constitution which should be solely written and drafted by the Syrian people! Even so, the Syrian government seems willing to accept the process, which agreed with the Syrian opposition on members which represent “civil society.” Considering the principle established by Marx that “existence and thereby the collisions…between these classes are in turn conditioned by the degree of development of their economic position, by the mode of their production and of their exchange determined by it,” it raises the question: who will these civil society members represent?

There was also a theory posed by a recent AP article: that the orange menace decided to withdrawal from Syria based on a telephone call with Erdogan on December 14th. [8] This supposes that everyone of the orange menace’s advisers agreed with Erdogan’s assessment of Daesh, then the orange menace magically agreed to pull out troops. Taking this at face value, Moon of Alabama says that the orange menace did not not “capitulate” to Erdogan but “was finally given a chance” to withdrawal and “grabbed the opportunity”which Erdogan was not ready for, with other articles acting like the orange menace achieved his objective of withdrawal he has wanted since he was inaugurated. [9] They say that Erdogan was caught off guard because while Turkey has planned to “occupy a 10 mile deep strip along the Syrian-Turkish border,” 50,000 to 100,000 troops would be needed to occupy “all of east Syria northward of the Euphrates” which would be opposed by armed Kurds (those within “Rojava”) and a hostile Arab population. While this is convincing, considering Turkey recently said they would delay their military offensive into Syria’s territory, I have a sense something more is going on. This is because it is clear now that the proposed U$ withdrawal from Syria is a cover for further Turkish involvement in Syria, with the Turks now becoming the mercenaries of empire, which some are annoyed with. On November 22, Middle East Monitor reported that the Emirati and Saudi military forces arrived in Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria (“Rojava”), were stationed with U$ forces, supporting their “tasks with huge military enforcements as well as heavy and light weapons,”while also meeting with Kurdish officials. This brings us, logically, to the Kurdish question in Syria.

We know that generally, these Kurds (part of “Rojava”) thought that the U$ would champion their cause, failing to understand that the U$ establishment acts “purely in its own interests.” Amber B., in the aforementioned article linked at the beginning of this piece put it well: that while there is some truth in the fact that U$ withdrawal is “an effective abandonment of the progressive Kurdish forces,” the Kurdish people can only resolve their problems on their own, and as such,  we should condemn those, like Debbie Bookchin (daughter of noted anarchist Murray Bookchin), a branch of the Democratic “Socialists”of America (actually social democrats), self-declared anarchist Noam Chomsky who advocates for U$ presence to “deter an attack on the Kurdish areas,” and the NYC Socialist Rifle Association, to name a few, who have “substituted genuine internationalism for mindless propaganda work for competing imperialist powers.” As such, those who criticize these Kurds in “Rojava,” like the YPG,  SDF, and PYD, for their alliance with U$ imperialists are not stooges of Erdogan as some have dumbly claimed. This is due to the fact there are questions about how “revolutionary” or “progressive” these vaulted Kurds (YPG/SDF/PYD) are since the SDF said they wanted “to be part of America,” possibly clearing the way for Turkey’s occupation. The Emergency Committee for “Rojava” goes even further in their pro-imperialist orientation, calling the withdrawal of U$ troops a  “betrayal” and calling for military, economic, and political assistance, thinking that the U$ imperialists are somehow humanitarian saviors! Of course, those in “Rojava” are no Marxists, as they do not hold, as Eleanor Marx (Karl and Jenny Marx’s daughter) and Edward Aveling that the world is restless and that the “death of the capitalistic method of production” means, simply, “resolution of society into simpler forms…a new and better order of things,” since the current society is “morally bankrupt.”

Maybe they even hold the latter about society, with social contract seeming democratic with federalist system including legislative, executive, and judicial branches, professed equality in “persons and communities,” a right to live in a healthy environment and express certain rights (“ethnic, cultural, linguistic and gender”), freedom of speech except that which can be restricted, with a policy of interference and admitting their integral nature to Syria, which met some  “fundamental requirements of Western international backers opposing the Syrian regime,” as Chatham House declared in 2016. While there are some other rights given, like equality in gender, worship, assembly,  political participation, seek political asylum, it also endorses private property: “everyone has the right to the use and enjoyment of his private property” because there is “no one shall be deprived of his property except upon payment of just compensation, for reasons of public utility or social interest, and in the cases and according to the forms established by law.” While the economy of “Rojava” seems social democratic in “directed at providing general welfare and in particular granting funding to science and technology,” aimed at “guaranteeing the daily needs of people and to ensure a dignified life,” with monopoly prohibited, along with “labor rights and sustainable development…guaranteed,” but does not including a proposal for a planned economy. This is coupled with no prohibition of “extractive processes, management, licensing and other contractual agreements related to such [natural] resources” by corporate entities. As such, it raises the question how progressive “Rojava” (composed of three regions: Jazira, Euphrates, and Afrin) is, after all, since the levers of power seems to be in control by the PYD (also noted by a Reuters article in 2017 which noted that there was no voting in Arab-majority areas in the region) even though the New York Times declared, in 2015, there was apparently no hierarchy.

Articles in bourgeois media have added that France, Germany, and the UK still are openly siding with these Kurds (YPG/SDF/PYD), recently engaged in bloody (and horrible) battles, who control “roughly one quarter of Syria,” an area which is “rich in farmland, oil and water” (which BBC News admitted allowed the U$ to “indirectly” control “half of Syria’s strategic resources – including many oil fields and dams, and much of its most fertile agricultural land”), a possibly strong “bargaining chip” in negotiations with  the Syrian government. [10] They also note that some Kurdish leaders are admitting that “relying on the Americans is always a failed experience, at the very least for Kurds,” and others saying, without recognizing the fact the West has allowed “Rojava” (which has only existed since January 2014) to exist, “the whole world is taking the view that the Kurdish cause can be bought and sold.” This all feeds into sob stories, like those fed to people like Richard Engels of NBC News, that U$ troops in Syria (officially special forces) are “distraught, upset, morally disturbed by having to tell their kurdish allies in Syria that…their promises of defense won’t be kept,” acting like we should feel sorry for imperialists.

When it comes to the Kurds, especially YPG/SDF/PYD, it is worthwhile to recall a number of posts I made on the subject. Most of the posts I have written on the Kurds in the past year have focused on the Kurds in Northern Iraq and the defeat of their ill-thought referendum, while also highlighting how the creation of an ethno-state called “Kurdistan,” spanning northern Iraq and eastern Syria, along with parts of Turkey and Iran, would “assist Zionist expansionism, Saudi expansionism, and Western imperialism in dividing up the region,” while also not beneficial for anyone in the Mideast. In the last article linked when I said that the Kurds were an ethnicity, not a nation, I was countering the notions that such an ethno-state was workable, even as I am not sure I agree with my conclusions at the time that Kurds should just work within existing political systems in Syria and Iraq. So, in some ways, my views are changing, but I still remain a critic of the current trend toward Kurdish nationalism, while recognizing what others say about self-determination. At the present, the question of creating a state named “Kurdistan” is mute as the Kurds are effectively divided into two parts: those in “Rojava” (eastern Syria) like YPG/SDF/PYD, and those in Northern Iraq under the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) which exists as a semi-autonomous area within Iraq. It also worth noting that the Syrian Communist Party recently denounced the “occupation of the US and Turkey,” along with an “emphasis on solidarity with the resistance of Afrin to the Turkish occupation. They also, last month, at a meeting of communist and workers parties in Greece, that

…fundamental contradictions of global imperialism, identified by Leninism, increasingly rage [including]…contradiction between work and capital, whose catastrophic effects are evident not only in the capitalist states of the parties…The situation of a large number of hard-working people in capitalist centers and in many ways falls short of what they had been in the first half of the twentieth century…The contradiction between imperialist capitalist centers and capitalist states [is clear]…The most blatant examples of such a policy of…imperialist aggression are found in the case of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria, all of which have been subjected to direct military or imperialist aggression or through the agents of imperialism with the open support of the imperialist countries…The contradiction between the imperialist centers, that is, the contradiction between the financial monopolies and the governments they represent in order to distribute the riches of the total imperialist plunder of the world…All the progressives in the world are aware of the disastrous consequences of a comprehensive and destructive war as they work against the threat of multiple forms of war…To remove the danger of war, imperialism must be dropped…The changes in the international arena also indicate an increase in the role of national liberation movements as a component of the global revolutionary process. National resistances, which are objectively part of the national liberation movements, regardless of the ideology prevailing in this or that faction, have dealt a serious blow to the expansionist tendency of imperialism and its agents…This is what Syria is doing in its courageous response to the ferocious attack by the Atlantic imperialism and its agents and the continuing aggression of Zionist Israel…Syrian communists engaged in the major battle to defend their homeland, along with other national forces…At present, our party believes that the most important goal facing our people is to liberate its territory under the yoke of imperialist occupation, as well as to strenuously oppose the projects that are embroiled in imperialist circles and aimed at dividing Syria…The Syrian Communist Party is characterized by linking the economic and social struggle with the general political struggle. Our Syrian Communist Party is fighting for a complete break with liberal economic trends in defense of national production and the interests of the struggling masses…The circumstances of the imperialist onslaught and the intensification of the contradictions of imperialism require the intensification of the global communist and labor movement and the strengthening of coordination between their factions in order to effectively confront imperialism and then overthrow it. These circumstances also indicate the need to form a united global front between the revolutionary labor movement and national liberation movements.

There is also a revisionist counterpart as well, but recent statements of it are hard to find.

For the purposes of this post, I refer back to the articles I wrote last year on the topic, apart from one where I countered deluded reddit critics or other scattered mentions in varied other articles I wrote in 2016 and 2017. While opposing Turkish invasion of Syria, I argued that Turks and certain Kurds (YPG/SDF/PYD) are assisting U$ imperialist objectives, adding that “Rojava” itself is an illegal entity, questioned when self-determination can be used (an argument I am not sure I completely agree with now), and that there are by Western standards, two types of Kurds: the “good” ones that ally with the West (YPG/SDF/PYD) and the “bad” ones that ally with the Syrian government. I also added that “the Syrian government (and people) will continue to be in a precarious situation until the end of the conflict and withdrawal of Western imperialism from the region. The best we can do is pledge solidarity with those fighting the mercenaries of imperial conquest, not only Daesh but the “rebel” forces and “good” Kurds [YPG/SDF/PYD], and all of those standing against global capitalism, even with our respective critiques,” which is still a valid position. Once again, while dated, I would say my two-part series on “Rojava” for Dissident Voice, while without its problems, still is relatively sound in pointing out that such a nation is an illegal entity and how Western imperialism has made its existence possible, making both articles still relevant.

There is no doubt that the Turkish government is strongly anti-Kurd to the point of being genocidal, despite the fact that those who run “Rojava” declared that “we have always wanted to develop a relationship of friendship and neighborliness with Turkey,” but that does not mean U$ presence will save them. Besides, the Syrian government still welcomes the Kurds despite their (specifically the YPG/SDF/PYD) past alliance with the U$ and other Western countries, so I could easily envision a Syrian-Kurdish alliance against the encroaching Turks. One recent article poignantly added that “up to now the Kurds had been prepared to rely on any foreign country, including Israel, to provide them with independence, rather than remaining loyal to Syria,” but saying at at the same time that “the Syrian Army will definitely collaborate with the Kurds to quash ISIS…between two fires on each side of the Euphrates,” adding that “the Kurds are weaker than ever and may well have lost the privileged position they had under US protection,”confirming that when faced with U$ interests, “all partnerships and alliances are dispensable.” Some imperialists, and deluded leftists, will easily, as the Kurds (YPG/SDF/PYD) are killed by Turkish bombs (which are supplied by the U$), declare “remember the Kurds!” just like imperialists cried about “remember the Maine!” after the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine before the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Texans after the surrender of the Alamo (“remember the Alamo!”) or U$ soldiers, recalling how British cavalry at the 1778 battle in Camden had attacked surrendering U$ soldiers during the Revolutionary War, cried  “remember Buford!” as they shot down surrendering Redcoats in later battles.

To take from the same Moon of Alabama article I mentioned earlier, while the Turkish army could engage in a large occupation of northeast Syria, it would “cost a lot of casualties and financial resources,” with those writers arguing they would only invade if Russia and Syria “fail to get the Kurds under control.” The same article, which makes the mistake of calling the Kurds (YPG/SDF/PYD) “anarcho-Marxist,” does note that Kurdish leaders of “Rojava” are currently making the same demands Damascus previously rejected before Turkey destroyed Afrin, while also saying that the paltry sum of British and French forces numbering in the thousands, along with those contributed by other members of the coalition of African, European, Middle Eastern, and American countries reportedly “fighting Daesh,” will likely not stay in Syria without U$ support. However, other articles posited that “a continued presence of allied troops working with local Syrians might compel the U.S. to contribute air” which is a distinct possibility. [11]

On a related note, there has been another development: the departure of Jim Mattis (effective February 28, January 1, 2019), the head of the Pentagon, who advocated for a more “muscular U.S. role in the Mideast,” who wanted continued U$ presence in Syria and Afghanistan, to be replaced by Patrick Shaheen, who favored the space force proposed by the orange menace and has ties to the arms trade between Turkey and the U$, rather than other candidates for the job. [12] For similar reasons, Brett McGerk, the special presidential envoy on the anti-Daesh coalition, recently quit (resignation effective at the end of the year), reportedly writing in an email to his staff that the orange menace’s decision was a “shock” which left “our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered…I ultimately concluded that I could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity.” One imperial correspondent, Jonathan Marcus of BBC News, who called Mattis “much respected,” feared an “unplanned” withdrawal from Syria, and talked about a changing world with rising China (fitting with the new “Africa strategy” unveiled by John Bolton) and “resurgent” Russia, growled that “President Trump seems to be charting his own erratic course through an ocean of reefs, rocks and monsters without any strategic map to guide him.” Interestingly, the same article had a map that showed strong Syrian government control up to the Euphrates, coupled with strong Kurdish control (YPG/SDF/PYD) in eastern part (east of the Euphrates), Syrian rebels and “Jihadist forces” near border with Turkey, as is Turkish military and Turkish-backed rebels, Syrian rebels in the South, and some scattered Daesh pockets, which made his argument a joke. It also should be no surprise that liberal imperialists literally defended Mattis, an “ingrained imperialist” who changed the Pentagon’s mission, was fired by Obama for being too hawkish toward Iran, and opposes the withdrawal of half of the U$ troop presence from Afghanistan (a moderate measure), just as they held worthless rallies to “defend” Robert Mueller earlier this year.

Of course, liberals were baffled by Mattis’s resignation, calling him either a coward, feeling sad about a “loss” of imperial prestige, or pathetically claiming that Putin “applauded” when U$ said they were leaving Syria (despite the fact that he cast doubt on the planned withdrawal). If what is said by the bourgeois media is true, it almost seems that Mattis, a high-ranking officer, used his resignation (which he wrote in September, as the story goes) almost as a form of blackmail to prevent the orange menace from calling for a withdrawal from Syria. If so, that is a frightening use of military power over civilian power, which should be undoubtedly criticized.

Even saying all this, it will be a quandary that Mattis is the one whom will approve the plan for the withdrawal of U$ troops, and once that happens “U.S. troops will begin leaving Syria with the expectation that they will all be out 30 days later.” [13] As such, the U$ troops would be no longer assisting a “Kurdish-led force that now numbers more than 50,000 and is about 40 percent Arab,” with reportedly only 20% through the U$-led “training process.” The Kurds (YPG/SDF/PYD), in this case, are those directly at the front-lines as only four U$ soldiers have been killed, by official counts, since the beginning of the U$ deployment in Syria itself!

This connects to the fear, held by the varied sectors of the bourgeoisie, represented in varied pundits, politicians, and analysts, at minimum, that “Syrian territory occupied by US forces will be returned to the control of Syrian government forces,” even though they claim that areas occupied by the U$ will fall into the hands of terrorists. The withdrawal, the same article posited, saying it will take place in 60-100 days, would more than anything “benefit Syria and Syrians most of all,” allowing Iran to get a benefit, and Russia since it reduces the possibility of conflict with the U$. Iraq will benefit from not having “to commit so many forces to watching the US,” and the “likelihood of an extended Turkish occupation of Afrin and Idlib” may be reduced too, while the Zionists will lose out (after protests over worsening conditions in the proper part of the Zionist state), regretting “loss of access to US airports to use over Syrian occupied territory.” However, the Russian government is skeptical of U$ withdrawal from Syria, which is justified considering that the U$ will “conduct air strikes” in Syria “until the full pullout of troops from its territory,” since the U$ will “conduct air and artillery strikes” in support of their forces! This is a justified skepticism because the U$ could easily get pulled right back into Syria itself, meaning that all options are open. After all, there was talk early this year about Daesh thriving in U$-occupied areas of Syria and the Pentagon planting high numbers of supposed fighters of Daesh.

This brings us to U$ presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. As Amber B. noted in the aforementioned article at the beginning of this post, nothing is being “done about the u.$. occupation of Iraq,” meaning that this withdrawal could “become just a redeployment, whether by special forces or mercenaries,” even as a “withdrawal from Syrian territory would represent a contraction of the amerikan frontlines, and most definitely serve to weaken their interests overall, but we should not mistake it for “peace” in any sense.” It was further noted that peace “is only something that can truly be won through the elimination of imperialism overall.” What is said is an accurate determination. This is because earlier this month Pompeo spoke with Adil Abd al-Madhi, Iraq’s Prime Minister, about “recent territorial defeat of ISIS in Syria,” claimed that the U$ will respect Iraq’s sovereignty, that that “the Coalition will continue to work closely with Iraqi Security Forces to defeat ISIS remnants.” As for Afghanistan, as mentioned earlier in this article, there is talk of a withdrawal of half of the U$ troops from that country. While this is a positive development, the U$ imperialists want to “conclude the war in Afghanistan on terms favorable to Afghanistan and the United States,” meaning their respective bourgeoisie, specifically the U$ bourgeoisie. It is a laughable argument to say that the moderate withdrawal is somehow connected to Putin, as those like Rachel Maddow, a prominent liberal imperialist, have posited, as the U$ imperialists are extremely hostile to the Russians currently, as evidenced by continued sanctions and sending of arms to Ukraine, and there is no way that Putin or any other high-ranking Russian official would have any ounce of influence over the murderous U$ empire. But, there is another element. While it would be a great victory, you could say, if all the U$ troops are withdrawn, over 49,000 wicked mercenaries remain in U$ “areas of responsibility” within the Mideast, more than half of which are currently in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

With that there are some concluding thoughts. To again mention Amber B.’s post, it was argued that the withdrawal from Syria “represents another great slippage in imperialist footing, and we should exploit this to the best of our ability,” adding that “withdrawal from Syria should become a domino effect in our propaganda, and we should demand the further withdrawal of amerikan forces from surrounding countries, and ultimately every outpost of u.$. imperialism.” It was further noted that a struggle lies ahead within the U$ imperialist state, “as its decrepit factions squabble with one another, and we should use this moment of confusion to our advantage,” adding that “our propaganda should not endorse any imperialist faction over another, but underscore the necessity in struggling against them all.” As such, the article concludes, “we should not resign ourselves only to calls for peace, but augment them with the call to fight imperialism.” This is a justified approach, as siding with one imperialist faction would lead to ruin. With that, a piece of Lenin, in 1902, is relevant at this point, saying that liberalism must be analyzed with the “class point of view,” with interests of the autocracy only coinciding with some of the bourgeoisie, leading to some liberal opposition to autocracy, which protects the bourgeoisie from socialism, adding that while “Communists support every revolutionary movement against the existing system,” this does not “imply support for the liberal opposition.” He further added that it was the duty of revolutionaries to “explain to the proletariat every liberal and democratic protest, to widen and support it, with the active participation of the workers,” not acquiescing leadership of such social improvement efforts to liberals. This can be applied to different efforts by the masses to fight imperialism in all its manifestations, regardless of social movements.

In the process of fighting the imperialist beast, one must recall what Engels and Marx rejected in 1879: “people who openly claim that the workers are too ignorant to emancipate themselves but must first be emancipated from the top down, by the philanthropic big and petty bourgeois.” What this means, in practice, is that the working class in the U$, let’s say, is not ignorant and needs our enlightened assistance like we are coming from the upper spirals of an ivory tower. Rather, to recall from that same article, “educated elements” from the bourgeoisie can join the proletariat, but in doing so, they cannot push out or dominate the proletariat in the process of working with them, rather having to “assimilate [to] the proletariat viewpoint,” which is worth remembering. While obviously it is incorrect to say that the working class will not understand political struggle, we can recall, easily, what Lenin wrote in 1899: that certain workers are “backward” in their thinking, even as they will still understand the struggle, and that it is important to recognize the educated or “developed” workers in the class struggle as a whole. In the case of fighting imperialism, this means countering those among the proletariat who hold viewpoints that are pro-imperialist, bringing them into position standing against the U$ war machine in all its imperial manifestations.

The path forward to fight imperialism is up to the masses, supported by those which work  to increase their consciousness, bringing them to a revolutionary posture. Smash the capitalist system! A socialist world is possible! Down with the bourgeoisie!

Notes

[1] Caroline Kelly, “Stephen Miller defends Trump’s Syria withdrawal: ‘Are we supposed to stay in Syria for generation after generation spilling American blood?’,” CNN, Dec 21, 2018

[2] National Review Editors, “Stay in Syria,” Dec. 19, 2018; “‘Fox & Friends’ co-host calls out Trump on Syria: ‘Nobody thinks ISIS is defeated’,” The Hill, Dec. 20, 2018; Deirdre Shesgreen, “Trump’s troop withdrawal caps failed US policy in Syria, experts say,” USA Today, Dec. 20, 2018; “Coons: U.S. should not abandon Kurds, leave Syria,” Dover Post, Dec 20, 2018; Eli Lake, “Trump Courts Catastrophe in Syria,” Bloomberg, Dec. 19, 2018; “”Assad has won,” Ian Bremmer says, as Trump recalls troops from Syria,” CBS News, Dec 20, 2018; Gregory Hellman and Connor O’Brien,  “Pulling out of Syria: A primer,” Politico, Dec 20, 2018; Victoria Nuland, “Syria will come back to haunt us,” Washington Post, Dec 20, 2018; David Brown, Gregory Hellman, and Burgess Everett, “Republicans rip Trump’s surprise Syria withdrawal in meeting with Pence,” Politico, Dec. 19, 2018; “Graham plans resolution urging Trump to change mind on Syria,” The Hill, Dec 20, 2018.

[3] Joel Gehrke, “Russia blesses US troop withdrawal from Syria,” Washington Examiner, Dec. 19, 2018; “Trump Defends Syria Troop Pullout,” Newsmax, Dec. 20, 2018; John Hudson, Paul Sonme, and Anton Troianovski, “Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria marks a win for Putin,” Washington Post,  Dec 20, 2018.

[4] “Shocking Syria withdrawal plan is pure Trump,” CNN Wire, Dec 19, 2018; Matthew Lee and Robert Burns, “US to withdraw all American troops in Syria, official says,” AP,  Dec 19, 2018; Democrat-Gazette staff, “U.S. to withdraw troops from Syria, Trump announces,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Dec. 20, 2018.

[5] Andrew Desiderio, “Trump’s Abrupt Syria Withdrawal Thwarted ‘Major’ Operation Targeting ISIS, Sen. Bob Corker Says,” The Daily Beast, Dec. 21, 2018; Spencer Ackerman and Kimberly Dozier, “Bolton’s Hawkish Syria Plan Backfired, Pushing Trump to Get Out,” The Daily Beast, Dec. 21, 2018; “US will close base in Syria that Russia complained about,” The Hill, Dec 20, 2018. While there is no organized anti-war movement in the U$, there are peace organizations growing in strength. One of those in the Black Alliance for Peace which takes a strong anti-imperialist position, mentioning genocide of indigenous people, “brutal super-exploitation of enslaved African labor” which was used “to amass imperialist wealth,” allowing the U$ to elevate itself “to a world power after the second imperialist war in 1945,” adding that with the recent moves by the orange menace “the ruling-class propagandists” at the major media outlets “have sounded the alarm of pending doom for the empire,” saying that their group doesn’t “praise a U.S. president for ending the illegal subversion, invasion and occupation of a sovereign state that should have never been allowed in the first place by the theoretical representatives of the people who now sit in the U.S. Congress,” leaving the question open if full and rapid withdrawal of U$  forces from Syria will happen. Rather, they demand “demand a full withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria, including the mercenary components referred to as “contractors,” want an end to the “war in Afghanistan with a complete and total withdrawal of U.S. forces,” denounce those who think that “permanent war is both rational and inevitable,” while concluding that “the final resolution of the U.S.-led war in Syria must be determined by Syrians themselves. All foreign forces must recognize and respect the sovereignty of the Syrian people and their legal representatives,” calling for “U.S. out of Syria! U.S. out of Africa! Shut down AFRICOM and all NATO bases! Reallocate the people’s resources from funding war to realizing the human rights of all people, not just the 1 percent!” Veterans for Peace, an older peace organization, takes a straight anti-interventionist position, saying they are pleased by the announcement of withdrawal from Syria, adding that the U$ “armed and trained Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda aligned forces, who are seeking to destroy the secular, multi-religious Syrian state and establish a harsh fundamentalist order of their own,” bombed the “city of Raqqa, Syria, similar to its bombardment of Mosul, Iraq,” adding that a “continued U.S. presence in Syria would only prolong a policy that has been disastrous for all the peoples of the region.” They also hoped for a total withdrawal of U$ troops from Syria, a withdrawal from Afghanistan, and said that “it is time to turn a page in history and to build a new world based on human rights, equality and mutual respect for all. We must build momentum toward real and lasting peace. Nothing less than the survival of human civilization is at stake.” Similarly is the position by the World Peace Council.

[6] Nick Wadhams, Tony Capaccio and Margaret Talev, “Trump’s Syria Pullout Fuels Confusion With Kurds Left in Lurch,” Bloomberg, Dec 19, 2018; Matthew Lee and Robert Burns, “US to withdraw all American troops in Syria, official says,” AP, Dec 19, 2018.

[7] Patrick Wintour, “Russia, Turkey and Iran reach agreement on Syria committee,” The Guardian, Dec 18, 2018; “Russia slashes Syria military flights,” AFP, Dec 11, 2018; Edith M.  Lederer, “UN envoy: More work needed on Syria constitutional committee,” AP, Dec. 20, 2018. This connects to article I read boldly declaring that the proposed U$ withdrawal is occurring because “the Syrian Arab Army, which now has Russian anti-aircraft equipment, the best in the world,” meaning “they have no choice but to leave before humiliation.” However, I think this could be too simplistic as it casts the Russians as the saviors.

[8] Matthew Lee and Susannah George, “Trump call with Turkish leader led to US pullout from Syria,” AP, Dec. 21, 2018.

[9] Steve Holland and Jonathan Landay, “In Syria retreat, Trump rebuffs top advisers and blindsides U.S. commanders,” Reuters, Dec. 19, 2018.

[10] Guney Yildiz,”US withdrawal from Syria leaves Kurds backed into a corner,” BBC News, Dec 20, 2018; Gregory Hellman and Connor O’Brien, “Pulling out of Syria: A primer,” Politico, Dec 20, 2018; Layal Abou Rahal, “US pullout leaves Syria Kurds exposed,” AFP, Dec. 20, 2018; Tom Perry and Ellen Francis, “Syria’s Kurds reel from U.S. move, Assad seen planning next step,”Reuters, Dec. 20, 2018; “Syria: World reacts to Trump’s decision to pull US troops out,” Al Jazeera, Dec 20, 2018; Sune Engel Rasmussen and David Gauthier-Villars, “Key U.S. Partner in Syria Thrown Into Disarray,” Wall Street Journal, Dec. 20, 2018; “Syria Kurds say to keep up anti-IS fight unless Turkey attacks,” AFP, Dec. 20, 2018; “Key U.S. ally in Syria rejects Trump claim that ISIS has been defeated,” AP, Dec 20, 2018; Ali Younes, Trevor Aaronson, and Murtaza Hussein, “Syria battle against ISIL far from over, despite US pull-out plan,”Al Jazeera, Dec 20, 2018; Hollie. McKay, “Syrian Kurds allied with US shocked, scared by news of troop withdrawal,” Fox News, Dec 20, 2018.

[11] Robert Burns and Loita Baldor, “Pentagon scrambles on Syria exit amid withdrawal outrage,” AP, Dec 20, 2018.

[12] Paul D. Shinkman, “The Mattis-Trump Partnership Collapses Under Its Own Weight,” U.S. News & World Report, Dec 20, 2018; Shaun Tandon and Thomas Watkins, “US defense chief quits as Trump pulls from Syria, Afghanistan,” AFP, Dec 21, 2018; Nick Wadhams, Tony Capaccio and Margaret Talev, “Trump’s Syria Pullout Fuels Confusion With Kurds Left in Lurch,” Bloomberg, Dec 19, 2018; Victoria Bekiempis, “Brett McGurk, the Man Who Built Coalition to Fight ISIS, Quits Over Presidents ISIS Strategy,” The Daily Beast, Dec. 22, 2018; Jonathan Marcus, “After Mattis, Trump’s foreign policy worries allies,” BBC News, Dec. 21, 2018. On a related note, one Twitter user, @RedKahina, reminded users of how Matt Blumenthal, Ben Norton, and Rania Khalek once propaganda for a partition of Syria by Turkey, a NATO ally.

[13] Luis Martinez and Elizabeth McLaughlin, “What you need to know about US military involvement in Syria as Trump orders withdrawal,” ABC News, Dec 20, 2018.

The “Great White Hope” and the spread of U$ capitalist hegemony

As I continue to learn more about the world around me, becoming more a fire-breathing Marxist, by reading more Marxist theory and applying it to the world as it exists, I’ve been watching a number of new (and old) films, and listening to music, specifically the whole playlist of the Black rhythmical genius, Gil Scott-Heron, which I updated last year on my faltering YouTube channel. While I will write about control of information by social media outlets in this post, I will explain how films made by Hollyweird push forward a certain ideology, which fits with their evident collaboration with the CIA and the Pentagon, another form of their propaganda hoisted onto the masses. As fellow Marxist thinker Michael Parenti rightly put it in his book, Dirty Truths, “the mass media are class media,” although there is more at play than just that, in a time when “human rights” are distorted in the name of imperialism. In this post there are spoilers, but I doubt most readers people will watch these movies, apart from Sorry to Bother You. In order to fully address this topic, I have divided this article into seven sections:

And then we get to the first section of this article, which gives one a basis in Marxist theory, allowing for entrance into this topic at an informed position.

Hollyweird and cultural hegemony

Hollyweird, as conservatives and Gil Scott-Heron prominently call it, and its profit model fits right into Antonio Gramsci‘s conception of cultural hegemony. He argued that “organic” intellectuals organize relationships to benefit the dominant class (either the bourgeoisie or proletariat), trouncing the “traditional” intellectuals who hold a “long-time monopoly on religious ideology, bonded to schools, education, morality, and other societal values.” For both the bourgeoisie and proletariat, they choose specialized individuals who organize relationships to benefit their class, specifically consisting of “organic” and “traditional” intellectuals, with the former type often being nationalistic. Both types of intellectuals operate in what Gramsci called the two levels of society, also called the superstructure: civil society and political society, with the dominant group (either the bourgeoisie or proletariat) exercising hegemony over society and/or through the state, with their deputies, the intellectuals, trying to garner “spontaneous” consent given by the masses to the general direction the dominant group has “imposed on social life.” In my previous article on cultural hegemony, I argued that the producers of The Simpsons constituted organic intellectuals, as they are not those who “serve as organizers of “masses of men,” “confidence” in their business, consumers in their product, and so on.” This is because the latter group would constitute the so-called “captains of industry” or the  capitalists themselves, allowing PR people to serve as such organizers and gain “confidence” in their business (and brand). Rather, organic intellectuals enforce the hegemony of those above them, with a particular division of labor while the bourgeoisie dominates, subjugating and “liquidating” antagonistic views, with these intellectuals possibly coming from private associations. At the same time, the organic intellectuals of the proletariat can come from political parties or other institutions of a proletarian nature. Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Kim Il Sung, Thomas Sankara, and many others, would be examples of such organic intellectuals in the annals of human history who have been on the side of the proletariat. However, there are likely no “traditional” intellectuals among the proletariat, as they mainly serve as clergy and other religious figures. As it stands today in our capitalist world, those who exercise the dominant ideology through social institutions, such as banks, universities, TV stations, newspapers, film studios, police departments, courts, prisons, legislatures, and private associations, to name a few, are the bourgeoisie, working to “socialize people to consent” to their dominance. This is done in order to ensure that the masses accept the “beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values and moral norms” of capitalism itself, keeping the bourgeoisie in power, in control.

You may ask, how does this relate to Hollyweird? Well, with producers in Hollyweird, whether in film, TV, or some other form of media, constituting “organic” intellectuals, they are cementing relationships which benefit the bourgeoisie and enforce capitalist hegemony. However, while Elon Musk can be called a visionary and a “thought leader,” he is just a capitalist out for the bottom line, not an “organic” intellectual. Those who are intellectuals, in this case, are the deputies of the bourgeoisie, not the bourgeoisie itself.

The “Great White Hope”: Looking at Back to the Future and Forrest Gump

Some recent films I have watched directly enforce this hegemony. The first one I will cover is the cult classic, Back to the Future, a 1985 sci-fi film directed by Robert Zemeckis, a Chicago-born White male who came to be known as a person who was “well attuned to the nuances of framing and camera movement…fluent and innovative in the visual language of the movies” or what IMDB calls a “whiz kid with special effects.” [1] However, Zemeckis would not be the “organic” intellectual, but rather the movie’s producer, Steven Spielberg would serve this role, although Zemeckis would later end up in this role as he was also a producer during his career, along with being a writer and editor at other points. The movie’s plot is simple: Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) is a White male 17-year-old who doesn’t care about high school, with the strict school administrator, Mr. Strickland (played by James Tolkan), hating his guts. He accidentally gets sent thirty years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his friend, “mad scientist” Doc. Emmett Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd), a White guy who kinda looks like Bernie Sanders. The movie is racist almost from the start: the uranium Doc. Brown bought for his time machine is from “Libyan terrorists” whom he paints as a bunch of goofs, but shoot him down in front of Marty, in a mall. Later, when Marty travels back to 1985, after succeeding in his time traveling mission, the Libyans crash their minivan into a shack, which lights up in flames, killing both “Libyan terrorists.” This is talked about by the late Jack Shaheen (of Lebanese descent) in his wonderful book, Reel Bad Arabs, which was later turned into a short film. While I don’t remember exactly what he wrote in his entry for the movie, as I don’t have the book in front of me, I do remember him talking about this main racist element in the movie.  The dumb thing about this early onset racism in the movie as there is nothing which necessitates the “terrorists” be Libyan. They could have been angry, White men, just as easily! But, the producers and writers decided they should be Libyan, possibly because they were painted as “terrorists of the week” by the media,but also shows their inherent racism within their thinking.

This is compounded by the setting of the movie itself: a literal White person’s fantasy. There is only one prominent Black person in the whole film, Goldie Wilson, played by Donald Fullilove. [2] Everyone else is White, literally. When Marty goes back to 1955, it is worse: Goldie, who was the town’s mayor in 1985, is a janitor in a restaurant, ordered around by an angry White boss. Every other character is White. Basically, this means that Goldie is a token individual, made to make you think the town is diverse, when it is not at all, and is presumably in the Midwest. Not surprisingly, the audience is obviously supposed to sympathize with Marty, a sort of “down and out” individual who is middle-class, who is portrayed as “cool”  for riding a skateboard (and fashioning one in 1955), and playing an electric guitar. The rest of the movie goes on with Marty  bringing his parents back together and the “bad” White guy, Biff (played by Thomas F. Wilson) becoming a literal servant to Marty’s parents, who are much better off, in changed 1985. Women in the film are basically second fiddles to the men, either trying to woo them (or fall in love with). Lorraine, Marty’s mother (played by Lea Thompson) tries to do this when flirting with Marty after he messes with the timeline of his parent’s first meeting. Other women are apparently interested in “bad boys” like Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer (played by Claudia Wells), in 1985, or are just in the background. Basically, the film is a White male fantasy, plain and simple, almost nostalgic of the 1950s and arguably sexist in how it plays out, as women don’t seem to have any strong will, just succumbing to men. Is there any surprise that Ronald Reagan Raygun (as Gil Scott-Heron calls it), loved the movie, especially after the joke referring to him by Doc. Brown, and incorporated a nonsensical line from the movie into his 1986 State of the Union Address? I have a fondness for time travel, and that part of the movie is interesting, which may be part of the reason I like Futurama, the time-traveling episodes of The Simpsons, and other shows. Still, this does not distract from this movie’s message: a nostalgia for a repressive time, the 1950s, as a part of a White male adventure of absurdist proportions. After watching a series of videos on YouTube, along with the parodies of Back to the Future by Family Guy and American Dad, I see no reason to watch the other two movies in the series, which plan to be even dumber, and be, like this one, over-hyped. As Black hip-hop group Public Enemy says in their 1988 hit song, Don’t Believe the Hype, although they are talking about lies about Black people in the media.

Now, onto Forrest Gump, a 1994 film which was also directed by Zemeckis, but produced by Wendy Finerman (a White Jewish woman), Steve Tisch (a White  Jewish man), and Steve Starkey (a White man who often produces Zemeckis’s movies). Like Back to the Future, this is also “Great White Hope,” meaning that it is a White male fantasy. The movie follows one major character, Forrest Gump (played  by Tom Hanks), a middle-class White boy born in Louisiana, who tested below the IQ level, only getting into a public school after pleading by his mother (played by Sally Field). There is undoubted racism flowing through parts of the movie, like the fact that Forrest was named after Gen. Bedford Forrest, one of the founders of the KKK. As for Forrest, he ends up going to college on a football scholarship at University of Alabama, then enlists in the Army in 1963, fighting in Vietnam before he is wounded and goes back home. Despite the previously mentioned bout of racism, Forrest does, while in the Army, become friends with Bubba Blue (played by Mykelti Williamson), a Black man who can apparently talk about nothing but shrimp, and dying in Vietnam. Forrest later forms a shrimping company with his former commander from Vietnam, Lt. Dan Taylor (played by Gary Sinese). On the one hand, the movie has the positive of criticizing the horrible IQ test, saying that it is not bad to be weird, and points to the physical horrors U$ soldiers who fought in Vietnam had to endure once home (evidenced by Lt. Dan, who is crippled and in a wheelchair). However, apart from the absurd putting of Forrest Gump into archival footage to make it seem like he was there, which takes up a number of scenes in the movie where he meets with at varied Presidents (such as Kennedy and Nixon), talk show hosts, and others. This is compounded by the ridiculous idea that Elvis got his moves from Forrest or that Forrest unintentionally revealed the Watergate scandal. Apart from this, there are a number of other problems.

For one, the movie has what I’ll call a Male Savior Complex. What I mean is that Forrest works to “save” Jenny Curran (played by Robin Wright), with Jenny seeming to be wild and out of control, having a rough life, while Forrest does well, going from being a football star (in college) to an Army Brat, then a ping-pong player, and the head of a shrimping business. Basically, Forrest goes from being middle-class to becoming a millionaire (after investing in Apple Computer), meaning that he is a capitalist by the end of the movie, who is also a “good” philanthropist. While Jenny resists him for much of the movie, leading her own life, she eventually gives up and marries him, perhaps symbolic of the “self-made” man (Forrest) triumphing over the “excesses” of the 1960s (Jenny). Clearly this shows that the film is sexist, falling into line with patriarchal and traditionalist values. Forrest basically preys on Jenny for much of the movie, trying to get her to “love him,” and that apparently works by the end, a disgusting turn of events. The film tries to get you to sympathize with former creep and rule follower Forrest, a White straight man who is strongly traditionalist in his action (and thinking), after Jenny dies, perhaps because she was “conquered” (as opposed to the dynamic in the Oliver Goldsmith’s play, She Stoops to Conquer), leaving Forrest and his son remaining.

There are a number of other problematic elements. While the movie shows the horror of the Vietnam war in that it is bloody and brutal, it does not seem to take an antiwar position like Apocalypse NowThin Red Line, Catch-22, Full Metal Jacket (in a unique way), Gallipoli (antiwar to an extent), and Platoon, to give a few examples. Also Forrest is completely obedient of all orders while in the Army, which Lt. Dan himself makes fun of after the war is over, and seems to genuinely love the U$ capitalist system, never taking any efforts to resist it whatsoever. There are other elements of the movie which I have not mentioned here, but the general idea put forward is that anyone can make it in the U$, even though this idea is utterly false since class mobility doesn’t really exist within the U$. As I said earlier, this a Great White Hope. What I mean is that it does not offer a diverse world as one that is held up as a positive. For a movie that is famous for phrases like “Run, Forrest Run!” and “Life is like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’ll get,” it is important to recognize its clear reactionary streak. This should be obvious to anyone as apart from the racism in certain parts, strong sexism, and nationalism, the peace movement is made fun of as an utter joke where people don’t know what they are saying. When Forrest speaks in front of them in a rally, he is still treated like a good symbol even though he is wearing his uniform with a Medal of Honor. This even turns Jenny, then a peacenik, on, for some reason, which doesn’t make much sense. Even worse is the scene about the Black Panther Party (BPP), which are treated as a bunch of male chauvinists who condone men hitting women to “discipline” them. There was undoubted problems with sexism within the BPP, but they did work to counter this, and stand against abuse of women, so the scene of him encountering a bunch of angry Black nationalists is an utter joke without question. That’s all I can remember for now. But, the movie is pretty terrible for all the reasons I have explained. As such, Forrest Gump undoubtedly spreads the capitalist ideology, yet more evidence of cultural hegemony.

Such sexism in the Forrest Gump and Back to the Future is not unique. Just take songs by the Beach Boys as one example. Sure, you could say some of them have good beats, but many are about a male urge for a new (or maintained) romantic relationship with girls like as exemplified in their songs “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Good Vibrations,” “Barbara Ann,” “Kokomo,” “I get around,” “God Only Knows,” and “Surfer Girls.” Also, the idea of a monogamous marriage is reinforced in some of those songs. In this, you could say the sexism is integrated into the songs in that it is all about male urge for something which, if woman don’t reciprocate as they are “supposed to” (by societal standards), it will lead to male anger, although that is not expressed in their songs. You could say this male urge is also sprinkled throughout early songs of The Beatles as well, while their later songs were more diverse in topics.

An antidote?: From Sorry to Bother You to Black Panther

This brings us to Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, a film which really blew me away in its wonderfulness. The film is strongly anti-capitalist, directly talking about exploitation of the proletariat, racism, sexism, and the like. The main character, Cassius “Cash” Green (played by Lakeith Stanfield), is a black man living in present-day Oakland who is renting a room with his uncle, and living with his girlfriend Detroit (played by Tessa Thompson), who works as a sign-twirler. In order to live there, Cash gets a job as a telemarketer for RegalView, where he learns to cultivate his “white voice,” which brings in the money, catapulting him to “power caller.” In the meantime, his fellow comrades (like Salvador “Sal” played by Jermaine Fowler, and varied others) who also work at the company, are trying to organize themselves against their horrible work situation. In almost an act of betrayal, Cash goes to a higher level, where Worry Free, a company which uses literal slave labor, is the main client. He is still a telemarketer, but he is selling capitalists (and governments) the use of WorryFree’s slave labor and weapons, with Langston (played by Danny Glover), a black man with one eyepiece, looking a bit like the monopoly man, as his mentor of sorts. While Cash rises to this level, the workers are striking in front of the building every day, with police having to literally club them out-of-the-way so Cash and other “power callers” can get to work. Undoubtedly, this causes strain and Cash and Detroit’s relationship, leading Detroit to stand up for herself and leave him. This is unlike Back to the Future or Forrest Gump, which are sexist for reasons I have previously explained, a positive to say the least. Detroit does end up going out with the union organizer, Squeeze (played by Steven Yeun) and while she and Cash do come back together, the fact that she drew a line in the sand, standing up for herself in such a manner, is undoubtedly feminist, bucking the general trend of Hollyweird. It is no coincidence that Detroit is most radical throughout, as part of The Left Eye, a group graffiting WorryFree’s posters. This is despite some complaining that the film does not pass the Bechtel Test, when a “feminist piece of media must…have at least two women in it, who…talk to each other, about…something other than a man.” Even through this film does not pass this test, it does not mean it cannot still be a strong and powerful, worthy of praise, despite this shortcoming.

As the film goes into its last stretch, when Cash goes to a party hosted by Steve Lift, the CEO of WorryFree, the capitalist plan is revealed: to turn workers into half horse, half people hybrids (called “equisapiens”) which will be more obedient, by having them snort something that looks like cocaine but is not cocaine. Cash is chosen to as what Lift calls a deceptive “Martin Luther King” of these hybrids who will keep them in line. More likely, Cash would mirror the role of Curtis, a White man, in Joon-ho Bong’s Snowpiercer, who leads the people in a rebellion on the train which turns out to be a ruling class mechanism of population control. That movie is touted as anti-capitalist by some, and while class is a major factor of the movie, it falls short just like Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium, which features a story of capitalists who live in a bubble outside Earth while the masses suffer on the decaying Earth below. Back to the film. Cash is disgusted by Lift’s creation of these beings, but Lift says it just standard capitalist practice. After he leaves his phone behind at Lift’s McMansion, which records equisapiens being abused by Lift, he shares this video on reality show and other networks…but it just ends up with WorryFree’s stock rising! With all seeming to be lost, the union of workers makes one last stand in front of RegalView, with Cash calling on the equisapiens to help as the police beat up the protesters, with these beings freeing Cash and his comrades Squeeze and Sal. With this victory, it seems that everything has returned to normal, with the capitalists suffering this defeat, but Cash turns into a equisapien. He, in the credits, leads a group of equisapiens to Lift’s McMansion, telling him the phrase of “sorry to bother you” used in his telemarketing, attacking Lift to get revenge for the horribleness he has brought upon the world.

In this way, Sorry to Bother You is optimistic about fighting capitalism, having no White savior models or anything like that. As such, the film’s producers, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Kelly Williams, Jonathan Duffy, Charles D. King, George Rush, and Forrest Whitaker, can be said to be organic intellectuals. While they are not serving as deputies who are pushing capitalist ideology on the masses, they are not necessarily from the proletariat either. The movie, which has garnered $17.5 million as of October 11th, has made a profit of about 547%, as the budget for production was only about $3.2 million! Hence, as such, it is still a capitalist product which was distributed by capitalist Larry Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures domestically. Comcast’s Universal Pictures (due to the fact the Universal’s direct owner, NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast) and a Universal Pictures’ subsidiary Focus Features distributed it internationally. Still, the film clearly bucks the overall capitalist ideology, going beyond a criticism just of the orange menace, but of the system as a whole, even talking about the idea of false consciousness throughout. One could say the same of a film like Peter Weir’s The Mosquito Coast, which lost money. As a summary, in that film, the main character, Allie Fox (played by Harrison Ford) criticizes consumerism and believes a nuclear war is imminent, brings his family to Belize, where they try to create a utopian civilization based around an ice machine he builds, but this is later destroyed and his family is basically left destitute, traveling on a boat through the jungle. There is much more than that, but this is still a good summary starting point. Additionally, a film like V for Vendetta, critical to an extent of the current capitalist system, was distributed by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of WarnerMedia, which has been owned by AT&T since earlier this year.

A discussion of Sorry to Bother You connects to two other films this year which prominently feature Black characters: Black Panther and Blackkklansman. The first film has been broadly seen by Black people as a positive and praised as being “progressive.” If we count up the amount of money needed to produce the film ($200 million) plus that which it cost to market it ($150 million), especially in the U$ but also in “certain western Euro markets like Italy, Spain, Germany, and over in Japan,” the film made a total 384% profit, considering that it grossed over $1.3 billion worldwide. Now, this film, has been praised as having “a story that has far more going for it than branding” with “groovy women and Afrofuturist flourishes,” “the first film in the Marvel cinematic universe to center on a superhero of color,” a movie with “a proud Afrocentric twist, featuring a nearly all-black cast” and celebrates “Black Power…in such a mainstream fashion,” and has a broader message. [3] Others call it an “epic that somehow manages to simultaneously be a comic-book blockbuster, a pulsating espionage thriller and an Afro-futurist family saga,” that the film draws “on elements from African history and tribal culture, as well as contemporary and forward-looking flourishes,” and a “rousing Afrofuturistic adventure” which “blow[s] you away with thunderous effects and also tackle ethnic and gender issues, crush racial stereotypes, celebrate women and condemn Trump-era notions of exclusionism.” Beyond that, Time claimed the movie had “revolutionary power,” Carvell Wallace called it a “defining moment” for Blacks in the U$ while reactionary leftist Shaun King called it an important “cultural moment,” historians said it taps into 500 years of Black history, while it got other praise as a “cultural touchstone,” is “revolutionary” somehow, with viewing parties for the film supported by celebrities here, there and everywhere as noted in The Root, The Guardian, and EW.

Not surprisingly, the hype about this film is totally wrong. There have already been questions about if the film is Islamophobic, with others saying Black resistance is liberalized to comfort White people and that the film is plainly counter-revolutionary. These perspectives are not wrong. The film not only adheres to “at least some dubious Hollywood conventions,” as stated by the New York Times, but it is “still a superhero movie,” as stated by Variety, a movie which “never veers beyond the most conventional contours of modern-day movie action,” as admitted by the Washington Post. Should it be any surprise that the film centers on a “militaristic monarchy” called Wakanda, which people claim is “fair and democratic,” which is a faulty statement without question. Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report put it well: the movie focuses a “black royal family” and doesn’t show “real people the power they have over the real world.” Christopher Lebron adds to this, writing that the movie

…depends on a shocking devaluation of black American men…N’Jobu…soon understands that his people have the power to help all black people, and he plots to develop weapons using vibranium to even the odds for black Americans…[but] T’Chaka, however, insists N’Jobu has betrayed the people of Wakanda. He has no intention of helping any black people anywhere; for him and most Wakandans, it is Wakanda First…[not having] a vision of global black solidarity…[and using] Wakanda’s privilege to emancipate all black people…[the] contest between T’Challa and Killmonger that can only be read one way: in a world marked by racism, a man of African nobility must fight his own blood relative whose goal is the global liberation of blacks…A white man who trades in secrets and deception [the CIA man] is given a better turn than a black man whose father was murdered by his own family and who is left by family and nation to languish in poverty. That’s racist…Perhaps Killmonger’s main dream to free black people everywhere decisively earns him the fate of death…Black Panther is a movie about black empowerment in which the only redeemed blacks are African nobles…Black Panther is not the movie we deserve.

Abdul Alkalimat adds to this in his review, writing that the film is a “replay of the conflict of the 1960s between cultural nationalism and revolutionary nationalism, the US organization of Karenga and the Panthers of Huey Newton and Bobby Seale” with the king of Wakanda, cultural nationalist, being friends with the CIA, while the revolutionary is a “sort of gangster living a Fanonian fantasy that violence will change the world. He too is the son of a member of the royal family.” He adds that the film is a “commercial hodgepodge of references to other popular films,” ranging from James Bond, Star Wars, the Hobbit, Fast and Furious, and Stargate, concluding by saying that “a movie like this has the bait to pull us in like fish about to be hooked by the system…This film is dangerous and we must be vigilant against culture used to control and oppress.” Paul Street can have the final word here. He argues that the movie is “stealth ruling-class propaganda,” as part of the manufacture of consent by Hollyweird and the broad entertainment media  in the U$, because for one, Wakanda is “run by smart, warm, attractive, and benevolent Black royals” but is not a democracy but a hereditary monarchy which is “wedded to absolutism, aristocracy, and tribalism,” with everyday people being “backdrops at best.” He further adds that while “Wakanda could have used its great power to help Black Africa and the Black diaspora abroad,” they decided to keep “the country hidden behind its cloaking devices, keeping the wonders of a vibranium-enriched life…for itself.” The article goes onto say that  since Killmonger (T’Chaka’s cousin) is from Oakland, the script writers undoubtedly knew about the Black Panthers, a person who wants to “turn Wakanda into an open revolutionary agent of Black liberation by all means necessary” and export revolution (Street says like Che Guevara and Trotsky, but Trotsky never did this), but that he has “become every bit as evil as – the amoral equivalent of – the racist oppressors he hates.” This means that there are “no warm, attractive, and inspiring advocates of Black pan-African revolution…only the cold and repellent Killmonger,” meaning that this movie is another “Hollywood update of white America’s longstanding distinction between the good Black and the bad Black” with good Black pursuing “moderate ends in dignified and polite ways” and the bad Black “angry, violent, and undignified,” wanting to “wage war on the white oppressors.” In the case of he movie, T’Challa is equivalent to “Booker T. Washington, Sidney Poitier, Colin Powell, Oprah Winfrey, Eric Holder, and…Barack Obama” while Killmonger is equivalent to “Toussaint Louverture, Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Bigger Thomas, Malcolm X, Jeremiah Wright, Huey Newton, and the nightly urban crime reports all wrapped up together.” Not surprisingly is that T’Challa gets the “kindly white veteran CIA agent named Everett K. Ross,” which means the movie falsely portrays the CIA as a “friend of an independent and strong African state,” with the movie (despite some exceptions), absurdly portrays the “white senior CIA agent as a friend of an independently developing and autonomous Black African state.” The movie ends with saying global capitalism is good with the “CIA agent smiling as he watches his friend T’Challa tell the United Nations that Wakanda is joining the international community,” and then a teaser “after the full credits, when we see a forgotten white Marvel superhero…emerge from a Wakandan hut.” His article ends by asking: “Did you expect something different and more radical from Hollywood? Why?” He is right to ask this.

The movie also has another purpose: to connect with other superhero movies, getting people hooked another one of Marvel’s Hollywoodized comics. That was the goal of a movies like Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Ironman, X-Men, and Hulk, and many others. [4] Once everyone is introduced in their own specific movies, then they can make movies where all of them fight together against a “common” enemy. Yet another product which is spread to the masses which reinforces capitalist ideology.

Spike Lee, “respectable” Black politics, and capitalist ideology

With this, it is worth talking about Blackkklansman. A good starting point is Boots Riley’s well-thought criticism of the movie, engaging in what he calls a “political critique of the content of and timing of the film,” even though Spike Lee hugely influenced him and he holds the latter “in highest respect as a filmmaker.” He even says that having a story not being true is not necessarily a problem it is “being pushed as a true story and…its untrue elements that make a cop a hero against racism” with false parts trying “to make a cop the protagonist in the fight against racist oppression.” He goes on to write that the

…real Ron Stallworth infiltrated a Black radical organization for 3 years….where he did what all papers from the FBI’s…COINTELPRO…[working to] sabotage a Black radical organization whose intent had to do with at the very least fighting racist oppression…Ron Stallworth was part of COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO’s objectives were to destroy radical organizations, especially Black radical organizations…when White Supremacist organizations were infiltrated by the FBI and the cops, it was not to disrupt them…It was to use them to threaten and/or physically attack radical organizations…There was no bombing that Stallworth or the police thwarted…That was made up for the movie to make the police seem like heroes. There was no cop that got recorded and/or arrested due to saying things at a bar while drunk about how he’s ok with shooting Black folks…This was put in the movie to make Ron and the rest of the police look like they were interested in fighting racism, like they don’t all protect whatever racist and abusive cops are in there. This is a scene where the whole police force…work together with the fictional Black radical love interest to set the one racist cop up. Never happened…His partner that did the physical infiltration of the Klan was not Jewish and did not look Jewish to other people…If you really went up to Kwame Ture and asked him what we should do right now—as Ron Stallworth does in the film—he would have said what he usually said: “Study!!!” But, it made the Black radical group look more dangerous to have Ture say something that sounded like he was calling for armed insurrection…Ron Stallworth looks like a hero, and so does his partner and the police force…Everything else is simply unverifiable stuff that ex-cop Ron Stallworth wrote in his memoir…the radical girlfriend says that she’s not down with him being a cop, then Stallworth…says that he’s for the liberation of his people at the same time as being a cop. All the fake stuff we just showed him go through argues his point for him. And then they hear something, and go, guns drawn, to investigate. They go down the hall together with the signature Spike Lee dolly…Cops and the movement against racist oppression united. This is the penultimate shot before the film goes to news footage of current White Supremacist attacks…for Spike to come out with a movie where story points are fabricated in order to make Black cop and his counterparts look like allies in the fight against racism is really disappointing…Spike Lee’s, Chiraq, plays into that myth [of black-on-black violence], and how that myth is used against movements for social justice…By now, many folks now know that Spike Lee was paid over $200k to help in an ad campaign that was ‘I aimed at improving relations with minority communities. Whether it actually is or not, BlacKkKlansman feels like an extension of that ad campaign.

After reading this review, I think Boots Riley got it completely right. I did watch the movie myself and thought it was relatively good, but I think his criticism is completely valid. It really did positively portray the cops as “good” for fighting racial justice, specifically as those fighting White supremacists which was stopped by the “bad” police captain who made him destroy all the records. Stallworth is painted as the “hero” who revealed this story, keeping the records of the action. This is despite the fact that he literally participated in White supremacist meetings (via his White colleague) and did nothing to actually break up the group. Even if we accept the movie gospel, he stopped a bombing, but the group continued on. Additionally, while a few White supremacists were killed when the bomb went off in front of their car, they obviously recovered from this, with no effort to break-up the group. The connection to current events, with live-TV images of what happened in Charlottesville, the orange menace, and others, was obviously meant to relate it to the present. The cops were portrayed as positive and “revolutionary” which is an utter joke which doesn’t recognize the role of the cops. Does Spike Lee forget the nature of the cops in his other movie, Do the Right Thing, the nature of Black revolutionaries in Malcolm X, another movie he made? It seems he has, instead making absurdist movies like Blackkklansman and Chiraq, the latter which is like a Shakespearean play with militaristic themes and supposed feminism which reduces men to literally being only about sex, which is just not true as it doesn’t recognize the power they actually hold in society as a whole. The only positive of Blackkklansman is it does not have a white savior element which is shown in Free State of Jones (symbolized by a poor White farmer named  Newton Knight, played by Matthew McConaughey) and Selma (symbolized by LBJ), Lincoln (symbolized by Lincoln), and a “respectable” Black man like Cecil Gaines (played by Forrest Whitaker) in The Butler. [4] The last of those films is one of the worst, including a scene where the Cecil’s son, Louis, becomes a Black Panther and he angrily denounces the BPP as being horrible. Sadly, Cecil’s other son, Charlie, dies in Vietnam, and Louis leaves the BPP after they become “violent.” Of course, Cecil, who worked in the White House as a butler from 1957 to the 1980s (from Eisenhower to Reagan), it is not until the end of his time there that he advocates for advancement and equal pay for the Black staff. He only resigns when Reagan doesn’t support sanctions against apartheid South Africa, not anytime before then, later joining an anti-apartheid protest, and of course, celebrating Obama’s victory in 2008. What else would you expect from someone as much into Black respectability politics, growing up as a “house negro” in his early life on a White plantation in Macon, Georgia, in the 1920s and 1930s, as him? His son, Louis, by contrast, is the one who joined the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) where he  engages in a sit-in at a segregated diner, goes on a freedom ride  in Birmingham, participates in the Birmingham Children’s Crusade in 1963, participates in the voting rights movement in Selma in 1965, and runs for a seat in Congress. This is while Cecil just stands by.

There a few other films I’d like to mention here, apart from 12 Years A Slave which is an interesting story to say the least. Spike Lee’s Blackklansman does not focus on race and class which abundantly clear in Fences (based off August Wilson’s novel), police brutality inherent in Fruitvale Station (even with its problems), and about anti-racist activism on campus in Dear White People (in the first season of the show and the movie of the same name). The last media is one of the most interesting, as it slaps racism right in the face, with much discussion about identity either through:

  • the Black rabble-rouser (symbolized by Samantha “Sam” White, played by Logan Browning)
  • the Black gay man who becomes a journalist of sorts (symbolized  by Lionel Higgins, played by DeRon Horton)
  • the respectable Black man who becomes student president (symbolized by Troy Fairbanks, played by Brandon B. Bell)
  • the White anti-“PC” student (symbolized by Kurt Fletcher, played by Kyle Gallner)
  • the White male “ally” [only in the TV show](symbolized by Gabe Mitchell, playedby John Patrick Amedori)
  • the resentful Black woman who wants to be “respected” (symbolized  by Collandrea “Coco” Conners, played by Antoinette Robertson)

And all the rest. I only say the first season and movie as those are the only ones I have watched presently. There are undoubtedly elements lacking, but the situation of a mostly White university which portrays itself as “diverse” is something which can be universally  recognized by many in U$ universities as a whole, so it has power in that way.

To sum up this section, Spike Lee is clearly, as it currently stands, serving his role within the framework of cultural hegemony that Gramsci outlines, perhaps serving as an organic intellectual, or even if not, as a conduit for spreading capitalist ideology to the masses which will weaken any efforts to make the world a better place, especially those who skew to more radical and revolutionary solutions, which are sorely needed.

Some comments on Paths of Glory, varied films, and animated sitcoms

The final film I will talk about in-depth here is Paths of Glory, a film where Kirk  Douglas plays a French general (and former lawyer) who defends three soldiers from “cowardice in the face of the enemy,” in an effort to save their (and fellow soldiers) lives from a fruitless charge across no-man’s land to their deaths. While the film is undoubtedly antiwar in that it shows the horror of war, the absurdness of a trial against these three individuals which is meant to just protect the commanders, and their eventual death by firing squad to restore “order.” The latter makes the film pessimistic as the war (in this case WWI) continues on, with the soldiers portrayed as sexist beasts (at the end of the film) toward a captured German woman, who are entranced by her when she begins to sing. At  the same time, it makes a point that following orders  is not always good, as those who didn’t follow orders and stayed in their trenches are saved from slaughter. The commander who ordered the charge to take “Ant Hill” which killed half of Douglas’s soldiers is sacked, but the person who sacked him  does not understand Douglas’s anger, offering him the sacked commander’s job. It is a film very different from other antiwar films, so it is unique in that way. It is unlikely a film like this would be made today.

There were some other movies I have watched recently like The Bullet Train, Woman Walks Ahead, The Syrian Bride, and Chappaquiddick. But, I can’t really say much on most of those. I will say that Woman Walks Ahead is a bit of a white savior story which obviously distorts history (once you look into the actual story). It makes one of the main characters, a white woman named Catherine Weldon, played by Jessica Chastain, out to be a goof when she was actually an advocate  for indigenous peoples. It also devalues all those who are said to be part of the Lakota people, rather than calling it the racist name of “Sioux” which was pinned  on them by the French, except for Sitting Bull (played by Michael Greyeyes), which could be said to be an unfortunate oversight, but it also yet another way to erase indigenous people and their fight against U$ imperialist killers, with Sam Rockwell, the stuckup colonel, Silas Grove, getting a prominent part. This, undoubtedly supports the dominant capitalist hegemony, with the producer and director, along with anyone below them, and the movie studio itself, complicit in this without a doubt.

Finally there are animated sitcoms, like South Park, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and The Simpsons, which was created by Matt Groening. As I have argued on this blog in the past, the latter animated sitcom has gone way downhill, so much so that it is a zombie form of its original self. The former show has done so as well, or perhaps it was always bad. I recently watched two recent episodes in the show’s 22nd Season (“The Problem with Poo” and “A Boy and a Priest”), to see if anything had changed. Of course, it hadn’t. The latter show involved a literal piece of shit (called “Mr. Hanky”) being pushed out of the town of South Park for his discriminatory sayings, then moving to Springfield, with a hashtag at the end of the show saying “#cancelthesimpsons.” Most commentaries I read on this seemed to take it as a joke, because Parker and Stone support “artistic” freedom or the bourgeois conception of “free speech” which mocks efforts to be “politically correct” or PC. As I understand it, efforts to be “PC” are meant to help disenfranchised and disempowered groups, but they are led by liberals, whom do not recognize the overall context of what they are doing. As such, the efforts are mainly rhetorical, not about changing structures of power and oppression, which is the main problem with “PC” efforts, as they currently stand, which can easily be integrated into the capitalist system.

Back to South Park. I personally feel that the call to “#cancelthesimpsons” is clear trolling because in the other episode I noted there (which happens to be the episode played the week before), a message flashes on-screen at the end of the episode saying “#cancelsouthpark,” which is apparently part of a sort of marketing campaign by Comedy Central and by the show itself. As such, the message in the first episode I talk about here cannot be taken as a serious effort to cancel The Simpsons. Rather, it is an act of camaraderie between shows that now both see themselves as anti-“PC,” although in very different ways, which is becoming the name of the game for a number of people in the same position and strongly trumpeted by those on the “right.”

Closing remarks

The cultural hegemony of capitalist ideology continues to permeate through our society, whether you watch animated sitcoms like Futurama, The Simpsons, or American Dad, watch a movie in a theater, or see an ad on a bus. [5] It cannot be escaped as much as we may see ourselves as “immune,” but it becomes part of our mind, as we recognize the corporate brands which populate the landscape and then begin to accept the state of the world as it stands today. There must be efforts to fight back against such an ideology, something  which doesn’t require uniting with the “right” as some have proposed. Rather it involves countering capitalist ideology wherever it stands, working to build a better and more fair world which is free from profit and decadence, without falling into the traps of those who  emphasize electoral contests like the DSA, Socialist Alternative, and the Berniecrats, putting those who do this on the road to revolution, standing with the proletariat across the world, regardless of what country they currently reside.


Notes

[1] David Kehr, “FILM; ‘Cast Away’ Director Defies Categorizing,” New York Times,Dec  17, 2000.

[2] According to IMDB’s listing, Henry David Waters, Jr., who played Martin Berry, seemed to be the only other actor of color in the whole movie.

[3] Manohla Dargis, “Review: ‘Black Panther’ Shakes Up the Marvel Universe,” New York Times, Feb 6, 2018; Peter Deburge, “Film Review: ‘Black Panther’,” Variety, Feb 6, 2018; Joe Morgenstern, “‘Black Panther’ Review: An Epic to Pounce On,” Wall Street Journal, Feb 12, 2018; Jimi Famurewa, “Black Panther Review,” EMPIRE, Feb 6, 2018; Ann Hornaday, “‘Black Panther’ is exhilarating, groundbreaking and more than worth the wait,” Washington Post, Feb 9, 2018; Peter Travers, “‘Black Panther’ Review: Marvel’s History-Making Superhero Movie’s a Masterpiece,” Rolling Stone, Feb 6, 2018.

[4] Free State of Jones, however, has its positives in that it follows the struggle for Black rights across a historical timeline from during the Civil War until afterwards into the Reconstruction, which few movies I’ve seen before have done. Despite the White savior element, this did introduce me to the real story, as noted by the Smithsonian:

…in Jones County, Mississippi…Newton Knight, a poor white farmer…led an extraordinary rebellion during the Civil War…[leading a] company of like-minded white men in southeast Mississippi…overthr[owing]…the Confederate authorities in Jones County and raised the United States flag over the county courthouse in Ellisville. The county was known as the Free State of Jones…After the Civil War, Knight took up with his grandfather’s former slave Rachel; they had five children together. Knight also fathered nine children with his white wife, Serena, and the two families lived in different houses on the same 160-acre farm. After he and Serena separated—they never divorced—Newt Knight caused a scandal that still reverberates by entering a common-law marriage with Rachel and proudly claiming their mixed-race children…The Knight Negroes, as these children were known, were shunned by whites and blacks alike. Unable to find marriage partners in the community, they started marrying their white cousins instead, with Newt’s encouragement. (Newt’s son Mat, for instance, married one of Rachel’s daughters by another man, and Newt’s daughter Molly married one of Rachel’s sons by another man.) An interracial community began to form near the small town of Soso, and continued to marry within itself…There was some very modest cotton production in the area, and a small slaveholding elite that included Newt Knight’s grandfather, but Jones County had fewer slaves than any other county in Mississippi, only 12 percent of its population. This, more than anything, explains its widespread disloyalty to the Confederacy, but there was also a surly, clannish independent spirit, and in Newt Knight, an extraordinarily steadfast and skillful leader…[Knight’s] views were not unusual in Jones County. Newt’s right-hand man, Jasper Collins, came from a big family of staunch Mississippi Unionists. He later named his son Ulysses Sherman Collins, after his two favorite Yankee generals, Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman…Although he was against secession, Knight voluntarily enlisted in the Confederate Army once the war began. We can only speculate about his reasons. He kept no diary and gave only one interview near the end of his life, to a New Orleans journalist named Meigs Frost. Knight said he’d enlisted with a group of local men to avoid being conscripted and then split up into different companies. But the leading scholar of the Knight-led rebellion, Victoria Bynum, author of The Free State of Jones, points out that Knight had enlisted, under no threat of conscription, a few months after the war began, in July 1861. She thinks he relished being a soldier…In October 1862, after the Confederate defeat at Corinth, Knight and many other Piney Woods men deserted from the Seventh Battalion of Mississippi Infantry. It wasn’t just the starvation rations, arrogant harebrained leadership and appalling carnage…Returning home, they found their wives struggling to keep up the farms and feed the children…In early 1863, Knight was captured for desertion and possibly tortured. Some scholars think he was pressed back into service for the Siege of Vicksburg, but there’s no solid evidence that he was there…On the night of October 5, Major McLemore was staying at his friend Amos Deason’s mansion in Ellisville, when someone—almost certainly Newt Knight—burst in and shot him to death. Soon afterward, there was a mass meeting of deserters from four Piney Woods counties. They organized themselves into a company called the Jones County Scouts and unanimously elected Knight as their captain. They vowed to resist capture, defy tax collectors, defend each other’s homes and farms, and do what they could to aid the Union…In March 1864, Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk informed Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, that Jones County was in “open rebellion” and that guerrilla fighters were “proclaiming themselves ‘Southern Yankees.’” They had crippled the tax collection system, seized and redistributed Confederate supplies, and killed and driven out Confederate officials and loyalists, not just in Jones County but all over southeast Mississippi…That spring was the high-water mark of the rebellion against the Rebels. Polk ordered two battle-hardened regiments into southeast Mississippi, under the command of Piney Woods native Col. Robert Lowry. With hanging ropes and packs of vicious, manhunting dogs, they subdued the surrounding counties and then moved into the Free State of Jones. Several of the Knight company were mangled by the dogs, and at least ten were hanged, but Lowry couldn’t catch Knight or the core group. They were deep in the swamps, being supplied with food and information by local sympathizers and slaves, most notably Rachel…After Lowry left, proclaiming victory, Knight and his men emerged from their hide-outs, and once again, began threatening Confederate officials and agents, burning bridges and destroying railroads to thwart the Rebel Army, and raiding food supplies intended for the troops. They fought their last skirmish at Sal’s Battery, also spelled Sallsbattery, on January 10, 1865, fighting off a combined force of cavalry and infantry. Three months later, the Confederacy fell…The third act of the film takes place in Mississippi after the Civil War. There was a phase during early Reconstruction when blacks could vote, and black officials were elected for the first time. Then former Confederates violently took back control of the state and implemented a kind of second slavery for African-Americans. Once again disenfranchised, and terrorized by the Klan, they were exploited through sharecropping and legally segregated…Ross thinks Knight’s character and beliefs are most clearly revealed by his actions after the war. He was hired by the Reconstruction government to free black children from white masters who were refusing to emancipate them…In 1876, Knight deeded 160 acres of land to Rachel, making her one of very few African-American landowners in Mississippi at that time…In the film, Marsh and Blaylock appear briefly in a courthouse scene. For the two of them, the Knight family saga has continued into the 20th century and beyond. Their cousin Davis Knight, who looked white and claimed to be white, was tried for the crime of miscegenation in 1948, after marrying a white woman. The trial was a study in Mississippian absurdity, paradox, contradiction and racial obsessiveness. A white man was convicted of being black; the conviction was overturned; he became legally white again.

[5] This could be expanded with idea from, as some would say by Noam Chomsky and Ed Herman’s Manufacturing Consent, but probably more powerfully through Michael Parenti’s Profit Pathology and Other Indecencies, The Culture Struggle, Inventing Reality: The Politics of the News Media, and  Make-Believe Media: The Politics of Entertainment. I haven’t read any of those books yet, just Parenti’s God and His Demons, Superpatriotism, Democracy for the Few, and the Assassination of Julius Caesar. Parenti’s other books are: The Sword and the Dollar: Imperialism, Revolution, and the Arms Race, Land of Idols: Political Mythology in America, Against Empire, Dirty Truths, Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism, America Besieged, History as Mystery, To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia, The Terrorism Trap: September 11 and Beyond, Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader, The Face of Imperialism, and Waiting for Yesterday: Pages from a Street Kid’s Life, along with varied articles.