“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.

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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.

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.”

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.

“One thing today, another tomorrow”: the Julia Salazar Story

The following was reprinted from Dissident Voice. It is the second of the two-part article on the so-called “socialist” Julia Carmel Salazar. A version of this article before its editing by Dissident Voice will be published on the Internet Archive in a 15-page version and a 41-page version, the longest one, both of which should be processed at a later point. I have changed the link to part 1 to apply to the reprinted version on this blog, instead of the one in Dissident Voice. A Berniecrat who  is often critical of social democrats, although he is imperialistic, quoted a recent Intercept reporter finding that the rent strike happened in 2014 but not in Harlem even though Salazar claimed it was still part of Harlem. Still, it said 2013 elsewhere, so there are still problems with her personal narrative here.

In Part 2, I build upon what I talked about in Part 1, when I analyzed the candidacy of Julia Salazar, called Salazar in this article, what a “socialist” running on the “Democrat line” meant. In this article I focus on her life, not by telling it in minute detail but briefly looking at her background and pointing out inconsistencies. As Josh Varlin of the Trotskyist WSWS (World Socialist WebSite) even remarked very recently, “Salazar’s misrepresentation of her past is, however, politically significant” because “Salazar’s political evolution is far from run-of-the-mill” since she was “extremely active in right-wing politics until just before her entry into pseudo-left politics.”

On April 18, Salazar began her campaign for the New York State Senate, specifically for District 18 in North Brooklyn, announcing it at Bushwick’s Maria Hernandez Park, and recently winning the Democratic primary by a large margin, beating Martin Dilan, who was funded to the hilt by the real estate body. With this, she is virtually guaranteed a win in November because there is no Republican or Independent running against her. She defines herself on one of her twitter handles as a member of the New York City Democratic “Socialists” of America (DSA) chapter and UAW (their National Writers Union), with some supporters calling her a “community organizer.” Since then, some have raised questions about her identity and her “personal narrative,” as she has presented it in her campaign even though she has strongly declared she was not campaigning on identity. [1] She is like other millennials who fibbed parts of her past as Eve Fairbanks wrote in a recent BuzzFeed article.

The questions about Salazar begin with her origins. It is clear that she was born in Miami in December 1990, evidenced by the fact that her parents had paid for a second mortgage three years earlier. It is also clear that she grew up in a family which was politically conservative, with a Colombian-born father, Luis, a cargo pilot, and her New Jersey-born mother of Italian descent, Christine, a flight attendant. However, she could not get her story straight about her family: sometimes she called them secular, while other times she called them Catholic or partially Jewish. Nonetheless, it seems evident that at least part of her family was Catholic as she had admitted to a DSA podcast that she was baptized Catholic, growing up in South Florida.

The first part of her origin story is that she was a “proud” Columbia immigrant, as her campaign website and her Our Revolution bio once described her. This part of her story quickly ended, as she fell back to the claim that she was a “proud daughter of an immigrant father” or “a Colombian-American from an immigrant family.” [2] But this is definitely stretching the reality, as her father was a U$ citizen before she was born, putting into question that she immigrated to the U$ with her family “when she was very little,” and that her family moved to the U$ when she was a baby.

She already had admitted to the New York Times the deception behind calling herself an immigrant, saying: “I’m not an immigrant myself. Rather, I have always felt a deep connection to my father’s immigrant experience because of the time I spent without family in Colombia at such a young age. We were back and forth, literally, constantly. My earliest memories are of Colombia.” Salazar’s mother, born in 1957, does recall varied visits to Colombia, even stating that “the Colombian culture was a huge part of our family” while her slightly older brother, Alex, who is currently a mango farmer in Florida, confirmed “a pair of trips to Colombia” during “their childhood for short visits,” but said that “we weren’t an immigrant family. It was never something even considered.” With her father being Colombian-born, this would mean that she would be effectively half-Colombian, but considering that her mother was White, this proves false her assertion in 2017, before she became a candidate, that “my own immediate family are people of color who immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia, and most of my family still lives there.”

This is even the case as she has said that she looks “practically identical” to her father and less like her white mother, but is sometimes “white-passing or perceived of as white by some.” While she may be right that “immigrant stories are rarely straightforward or unidirectional” and that she has “family in both countries, and I feel a part of both,” while she may be “referring to going there more than we went anywhere else” and she “embraced the Colombian culture,” according to her mother, this doesn’t account for her inconsistencies and distortions.  As such, her claims that she “never misrepresented my history, and attempts to construct a narrative where I was dishonest about my birthplace to reporters…are malicious and false” are faulty. This is not totally unprecedented: those who are second-generation (children of an immigrant or immigrants), see themselves as attached to the culture of their parent or parents’ birthplace, even if they aren’t born there.

Connected to her claimed immigrant identity was her claim that she was working-class. She had said that her mother “really struggled to support me and my brother financially as a single mother” and that  both of her parents “came from a working class background.” It is clear that she was largely raised by her mother, supporting her contention on that count. However, her brother, Alex, has said that their family was “middle class, or upper middle class” when living in Jupiter, a “small beach town” north of West Palm Beach, which Salazar has countered by saying that Alex’s memory on this subject was faulty. In contrast, Salazar’s mother said that while she and her children lived in a nice house, she sometimes financially struggled, especially after divorcing with her husband (when Salazar was six years old in 1996), with Luis, saying:

If I could make it look easy for my kids, I did. I thought that economic hardship was not a burden that kids that were going through a divorce needed to experience.

Beyond this, it is clear that Christine raised both Salazar and Alex, getting only a portion of her husband’s money “through alimony and child support,” growing up in a large house but at times “had to push hard to make ends meet.” Without even using the story in the Daily Mail, a horrid right-wing tabloid, which also seems to raise questions about her claims of a working-class background but just depends on her brother as a source, there are some indications that she is fibbing her story.

She admits that at times her parents collectively earned $100,000 in a year, although she has said this wasn’t always the case, with her brother saying, rightly, that you would have to “have a pretty wide definition of working class,” saying that they lived “a comfortable life.” Even if we accepted that she grew up working class,  her mother did not have a college degree for only two years after divorcing her husband, graduating with a degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. Furthermore, let’s say we accept the contention of Salazar’s mother that Salazar is from the “you work your ass off class,” and that “she really wants to help others. The people of Brooklyn…if she gets elected, she will be their advocate,” it seems evident that she was more likely middle-class than working-class, especially since her mother was working-class but her father was solidly middle-class.

Additionally, she had a trust of $600,000, which some like Zionist Yair Rosenberg, have taken to indicate that Salazar was a trust-fund kid, because, when her father died in 2009 he left a “house and considerable retirement savings.” While she and her campaign have said that a relative manages the account and she has received nothing from the trust fund, it is hard to believe she has not been given at least something.

Apart from her claimed immigrant and working-class identity was her claim of Jewish ancestry. She has said that “my father was of Sephardic Jewish heritage,” that she had “some Jewish family,” and “a Sephardi surname.” But, even her mother, who is supportive of her daughter’s campaign, has said that neither her family nor her divorced husband’s family were Jewish, claimed to say that the latter family had a “Sephardic background” which Salazar had been curious about, adding that this is “where her interest stems from.” This interest reportedly began in 2009, when she was age 18, after graduating high school, when her father died of prostate cancer, with a funeral in a Catholic church in Ormond Beach, Florida, when she claims she began “exploring her Jewishness,” telling the New York Times that she was spurred to “search for meaning in my father’s death,” saying that “a lot of mysteries I wanted to solve,” focusing on her family history (on her father’s side), with claimed roots in the Sephardic (also Sephardi or Sephardim) “community expelled from medieval Spain” which converted to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition, with most of them settling in the Ottoman Empire and others immigrating to parts of Europe and the Americas. But her claim to Jewish ancestry is questionable.

A Colombian genealogist, Maria Emilia Naranjo Ramos, looked into the family history of Salazar, determining that her ancestors included a central banker, business people, and civic leaders, while being recognized throughout the “generations by their commitment and generosity towards their community,” serving as Catholic elites, which Salazar called “pretty cool.” [3] Furthermore, they have been “Catholic in their tradition and for many generations,” with no evidence, as of yet that they are “possibly Sephardic.”

As the Spectator, which is very critical of Salazar, has said, Salazar’s family “may well have descended from conversos, Sephardic Jews who retained some connection or awareness of their origins after forced conversion.” Salazar threw this all away by stating that “this genealogy does not make me Jewish,” putting into question if she was exploring “her Jewishness” or her “Jewish roots” after her father’s death or not. As such, her claim to Jewish ancestry is still a tall tale, as the only person who could have told her about it was her father, with her mother saying that: “she’s the one who sought out her family history…I believe that was a discussion that Julia had with him about the family history in Iberia. But he would always say that he was born and raised in Colombia but his family was Iberian.”

This connects to another part of her identity: her claim to the Jewish faith. She has told her fellow activists of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) that she was “a Jew of color…a Colombian American and…Jewish.” [4]

With this, her Jewish beliefs would fall within the category of the JFREJ’s description of “mixed-race Jews whose ancestors include many kinds of non-European peoples, and both white people and People of Color who have chosen (or whose parents, grandparents or ancestors have chosen) to become Jews through conversion,” with her declaring to be within the latter group. Some have focused on her tattoos with disdain, declaring she is “not” Jewish, stating that Leviticus 19:28 (with varied translations) says you cannot make gashes in your flesh “for the dead” or any “marks” on yourself. However, as Rabbi Evan Moffic wrote in HuffPost, in Judaism “there is no blanket prohibition on tattoos” and as a Jewish Reform website plainly states, “after the Holocaust, many in the Jewish community became even more opposed to tattoos…[but] in recent years, tattoos have become more common in the Jewish community…the Jewish community might still be divided over tattoos…we don’t exclude people in our communities from that care simply because of markings on the skin.”

As such, having a tattoo does not automatically exclude you from being Jewish. Whether she read a lot, reading the bible and apologetics and Torah, she had admitted that she didn’t have a “bat mitzvah, or a confirmation, or any of that sort of thing.” It would not be until 2012 or 2013 when she claimed to undergo a conversion to Judaism, with some saying she was a conservative Christian before then even though she talked about events at Hillel. Not only is the length of her Reform beit dein conversion  in question, with some courses saying it was two months and others saying five months, but she has no record of it and the person named Daniel Crane was not “an ordained rabbi, and therefore could not yet lead conversions while Salazar was a student,” putting her conversion into question.

In the end, as one recent article in New York magazine noted, she chose to “identify and live as a Jew in 21st-century New York City amid a rising population of adults with fractional Jewish ancestry,” finding a Jewish community in college, which is true despite the fact it is an open question, despite what her classmates said in the Forward, whether she converted at all! Benjamin “Ben” Norton, Salazar’s friend, may be right that “whether or not she converted late in life is irrelevant” and that “the people challenging her blood purity and tracking her family history are bigots.” Even so, this does not include well-intentioned criticism, which this article falls into or the genealogist who looked at her family history, at minimum.

Fast forward to August 2009. She began attending Columbia University, after she had reportedly worked in the service industry for years, specifically at a grocery store, as a housecleaner, and as a barista, drinking “very hot coffee” on her short breaks.” She was also a registered Republican with conservative views, graduating Jupiter High School at the top of her class, but did not vote in the presidential election in 2008. Moving to New York City, Salazar would attend an Ivy League school, “an institution with an immense amount of wealth” as she would later describe it, where she would study history, psychology, and have a concentration in Jewish studies. Reportedly while in college she would work as “a nanny and house cleaner,” supporting herself through school, working for “30 hours a week…on the Upper West Side, using the income to pay rent and other expenses not covered by her scholarship” and financial aid, giving her “class consciousness.”

Her “political evolution” would be slow. During her campaign she would claim she was a “community organizer” in New York City for “nearly a decade” or have a “decade of experience as a local community organizer has brought her from the streets of Bushwick to the halls of Albany.” [5]

This raises a red flag of concern since it would mean, at most, she would have to be politically active since 2007 or 2008. If it was not exactly a decade, this would still be a problem as her right-wing phase of her life lasted until 2015 at least, evidenced by the fact that in 2010 she registered with the Independence Party of New York, supposedly mistakenly thinking she was an unaffiliated voter even though it is possible this wasn’t a mistake considering that the party is center-right and “populist, and began going to Hillel the same year, even going to Jewish services with friends. The following year, when she began to reside continuously in New York, she would be arrested on “allegations of fraudulently attempting to access the bank account of Kai Hernandez, a family friend and then-wife of baseball star Keith Hernandez,” a bizarre case which would drag on for four years, ending in 2017 with a settlement in Salazar’s favor, settling for $20,000 since the person she was suing was dying of cancer. More importantly, in 2011, she would begin to dip her toe into politics by starting a “Columbia United for Israel” chapter at Columbia that year which never became an official group because she wasn’t deeply invested in it and Columbia didn’t allow it, never moving beyond a relatively inactive Facebook group.

The following year, in 2012, she would become the President of a group fighting against reproductive rights on Columbia’s campus: Columbia Right to Life (CRL), possibly beginning to be sent emails from them in 2011. Specifically the group would fight to ensure that “a fund for abortion services would not be paid for by Columbia students,” and she would lead the Support for Pregnant Students Initiative, serving as the “public voice” of the group on campus, and be angry at the Columbia Spectator for “manipulating” the words of CRL members, showing their “bias.”  She would even, later that year, write in the Spectator an op-ed where she declared that “it is unacceptable for the University to provide support for students to have abortions while simultaneously failing to provide resources to accommodate those who keep their baby…With Columbia’s influence, we have the opportunity to help pregnant women, and thus live up to the progressive values of social justice, autonomy, and women’s health that we proclaim.”

There was understandable backlash, as her fellow students told her about abortion, changing her views after “honest conversation[s],” regretting the views she took then. Even so, despite her claim that the group didn’t have a significant impact, the fact is that she was positively described by Public Discourse the following year, when she ended her involvement, and the group seemed to somewhat achieve its goals.

In 2012, she was part of a Christian Zionist organization: Christians United for Israel (CUFI). She appeared on Glenn Beck’s show, The Blaze, and was in San Antonio for a summit of CUFI. Before she spoke, she smiled in disbelief at reported “anti-Israel” lyrics by a Palestinian rap group (singing in Arabic) and shook her head, shaking her head again in a similar manner when the other guest talked about Palestinian “hate speech” being an issue for Christians. About 4 minutes into the video, the segment in which Beck interviews her begins. She goes on a pro-Zionist screed, stating that “anti-Israeli” professors were in the “Middle Eastern, Asian Languages and Culture…using the classroom as their podium to spread lies about the state of Israel, to de-legitimize the state of Israel, and to spread propaganda to Columbia students” and declaring that CUFI’s goals were to “educate the community about the truth about Israel…Palestinian Authority….Hamas…[and] Ahmadinejad.”

She would later add on a DSA podcast that the “Glenn Beck appearance was concurrent with me first learning about what CUFI was,” and saying the interview was in January 2012 when “CUFI sponsored me to go to San Antonio for their conference,” with her being told an hour beforehand and she spoke on the show. In August of the same year, she met with IDF soldiers “patrolling the Israel-Lebanon border,” in a trip organized by CUFI, which reportedly did not establish a chapter at Columbia. On this trip her views of the murderous Zionist apartheid state, often called “Israel,” were reportedly changed, when she visited the West Bank and met with Palestinians there, even reportedly keeping in touch with a Palestinian in the U$ who had “grown up in West Bank and lived through the second intifada.” It is also worth noting that sometime during her time on campus she was part of a humanitarian imperialist organization: Amnesty International, claiming it did not mesh with “very hawkish views on foreign policy, social issues or on poverty,” which has some truth to it, but ignores the long-standing connection of Amnesty with the murderous empire.

It was the year following, in January, that she reportedly engaged in a rent strike. As she tells the story, after “shivering through a winter without heat,” she organized a rent strike among fellow tenants at her apartment building (reportedly in Harlem), run by a “notoriously abusive landlord” who neglected tenants, calling for the landlord to “make repairs and turn on the heat in the winter” and they won some concessions in a housing court, as a result. As such, the management company raised rents through the roof, leading Salazar to be displaced and say she began to think about systemically changing such problem. There have been some questions of whether the strike happened again which is complicated because the address where she lived may not be publicly available.

We do know that the same year, she would make a brief visit to Florida, and from then to 2017, considerable “documentary evidence, including tax and payroll records…reflect earnings in New York and are directed to her at residential addresses in New York, and including her residential leases, bank and health insurance records, rent and mover’s bills, and travel records.” Her testimony in the Dilan v. Salazar case was corroborated by a roommate who had lived with her “in various apartments in New York since September 2013 and that Salazar was never away for more than one or two weeks.” This is complicated by the fact that she told her friend Katie Helper in Teen Vogue that she organized the strike in early 2014 even though Gothamist clearly indicates it happened in 2013. Which is an open question whether the strike happened at all!

In the spring and fall semesters of 2013, her Zionist views would be reinforced. In the spring semester, she would help found the J Street U chapter at Columbia, clearly supporting the two-state solution and organizing meetings for the group, including opposing the idea of “Apartheid Week” regarding the Zionist state. [6]

In that same semester, she would also be fine with inviting liberal Zionists to campus, seemed to favor those from Peace Now and Haaretz and asked in one message: “is anyone else a little disturbed by the similarity between Palestinians referring to this as “Nakba” and its mockery (intentional or not) of the Jewish use of the word “Shoah” (both literally meaning “catastrophe”)? I find it to be a little too close for comfort.” By the fall semester, she would be the co-president of the chapter and a WZO (World Zionist Organization) campus fellow, who was, politically, a liberal Zionist who seemed to want a coordinated response to address SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) actions.

Near the end of that semester, she would meet David Keyes, now Netanyahu’s spokesperson to foreign media, then a “human rights activist,” a second time at a coffee shop, and, by her recollection, be physically assaulted by him in his apartment. Years later, in 2016, she would have a Facebook post about the incident, deleting it after the Times of Israel picked up on the story.  Regardless of Salazar’s other inconsistencies and distortions, it is wrong to think that she is lying on this topic either by engaging in victim-blaming or other efforts as a prominent Wall Street Journal reporter, Shayndi Rice, shared a similar story, and ten more women have come forward with similar stories.

The following year, in February 2014, she would write her second-op-ed in the Columbia Spectator, which described her as “a Columbia College senior majoring in Middle Eastern history and Jewish studies. She is a co-chair of J Street CU and a member of Columbia/Barnard Hillel.” This goes against what she told a DSA podcast: that she led the chapter “until the very beginning of 2014, January of 2014, which was when I disengaged for the group essentially over the question of BDS and support for BDS,” raising the question of when she left the group. In her op-ed, she would lend her support to the corrupted two-state solution, saying that “there is a growing constituency of us who refuse to tolerate the injustice of the status quo…Advocating for pragmatic solutions to these issues is imperative because they are an essential part of any two-state agreement. Through practicality, we can turn our frustration into strategic activism. We can lead our community to promote a just solution to the conflict, before peace escapes us.” This shows that she hadn’t abandoned her Zionism by then, and as the Gotham Gazette put it, she would join “the Israel/Palestine activism scene as a member of J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace.”

Around the same time she also became involved with IfNotNow, a group that “wants American-Jewish institutions to become more aware of Israel’s occupation of territory Palestinians consider their homeland, while protesting the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict,” which she would criticize herself the following year. She also would write her first article for Mondoweiss, about being denied entry into the Zionist state and saying she “was raised with the delusion that Israel was a safe haven for me, perhaps even the only safe place for Jews” which Vox says implies she was raised as a Jewish child although she was not. By April 2014, she would be part of a debate on Columbia University about the “academic boycott of Israel.”

In May 2014, Salazar would leave Columbia University but would not graduate. This has led to some controversy because she said under oath in the Dilan v. Salazar that she graduated and her website seemed to imply this was the case, even seeming to imply graduation when she donated to the university in later years and on her academia.edu account, which shows her interests, with the same being the case for her Scribd or Quora accounts. As such, Citizens Union and the Brooklyn Young Democrats withdrew their endorsement of her as a candidate. As she tells the story, after college she went to Jacobin reading groups, with the first meeting about the Global South, and began reading Karl Marx, even though she has also said that she began reading Marx while in college. So, this is disputed.

The same goes for her identification as a socialist, telling a DSA podcast at one point that she was a socialist in 2013 and at another time that in 2014 she first identified as socialist. The following year, she would write another article for Mondoweiss, noting her presence in If Not Now, a group of U$ Jews organizing in Brooklyn and “seeking to protest Jewish communal organizations’ complicity in the violence” in Gaza by Zionist armies and opposing the “brutal” occupation of Palestine,” but also had strong criticism of the organization and of J Street, later partying with those like Max Blumenthal, Anya Parampil, Rania Khalek, Michael “Mike” Prysner, Nathaniel Wallace, and Jan Ritch-Frel and Michael Prysner, where they all watched the Democratic presidential debate. The latter basically rather shows her left-leaning views at the time, with the same applying to her friendship with Ben Norton, who is not as radical as one might think at the time.

By 2016, the year she would attend the Big Eddy Film Festival in Narrowsburg, New York, she would be in Nashua, New Hampshire “with her union, the United Automobile Workers,” which she is said to have organized for “during a contract dispute at Barnard College, on Election Day.” She said that it was also a get-out-the-vote campaign, adding that “collectively, we all felt certain that Hillary Clinton would win. When the results came in, it was really, really devastating…My heart hasn’t stopped racing since that moment, basically.” She later told the Gazette that “the Trump Administration has motivated more people, myself included, to shift our focus to trying to effect change as much as we possibly can at the city and state level, where we have more control, where we can effect change in a practical sense and also do harm reduction in response to federal policies across the board.”

The same year she began working with the JFREJ “on anti-police brutality initiatives,” after seeing them at Black Lives Matter protests. [7] She would also write her third article for Mondoweiss, talking about a Black Lives Matter platform which called the Zionist state an apartheid entity oppressing Palestinians and the response by Jewish organizations to it, and would become “rank-and-file DSA member” in the summer.

The year after that, 2017, she would serve as the senior editor of a blog called Unruly: A Jews of Color, Sephardi & Mizrahi Caucus Blog and would be a full-time staff organizer in the JFREJ, while being a member of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) and an active DSA member. In January of the same year, she attended the Women’s March in NYC, leading a “contingent of progressive Jewish marchers,” seeing the march as “as an opportunity to build our community’s unified resistance against Trump’s oppressive policy proposals” and saying that despite clumsy messaging, it was “a good-faith effort to do something here that will mark an historic defiance against the hate and discrimination that Trump represents.” She would not cancel, as revealed in the Dilan v. Salazar case, her Florida voting registration until July 2017, and then become a registered voter in New York.

Then, in 2018, this year, she would write an article in Jacobin about the NYPD’s police brutality, then started supporting and volunteering for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign. She would be convinced by some of her friends in the NYC-DSA, like Michael “Mike” Kinnucan (her deputy campaign manager), Nick Rizzo, and Bianca Cunningham, and maybe that assistant editor of Jacobin, Alex Press, who moved into the area in 2017. She would finalize her decision by March and begin running in April, with a kickoff the following month. Of these individuals, Rizzo was a major factor, described in April 2016 by Bedford & Bowery as a politician who “shares some concerns with the Brooklyn hipster constituency…and like many liberal-minded people of our generation, he also cares a great deal about issues of equality…and is frustrated with…the establishment.” He would call himself a “Bernie supporter” who barely saw “any possibility of Trump winning,” adding, worryingly, that: “…it’s actually better for all of us to have a functioning two-party system…Competition is essential for a democracy” and that he would vote for Hillary Clinton if she was the Democratic nominee and saying he was in favor of tipping. Since then, his views on Twitter, such as thinking that “Millennials” and Generation Z will bring “the change”, being dedicated Democrat and nationalist who seems to like assessments by Trotsky, shows that what he said in 2016 still matters.

Whether we believe Salazar or not, support or oppose her, her personal narrative, which was muddled by her inconsistencies and distortions, matters as she is a figure in the public eye, not only putting doubt on her ability to carry through for Brooklynites (as a “new hope”) in Albany but in the DSA itself. It is hard to see if she will be “an advocate for the underdog,” as her mother describes her. In the end, while thinking people should be critical of progressive icons like Salazar, any tendency to ally with reactionaries or promote their narratives to engage in such criticism undercuts any efforts to create a better world.


Notes

[1] If you would like the links to the tweets I am referring to, please email me.

[2] She explained this change to Stephen Miller of Fox News by saying that she does not “personally manage” her campaign website, blaming a staffer and lack of coordination on her “first-time team,” admitting to being “unknowingly unclear on this,” adding that her busy campaign was also to blame. How can you expect a well-organized and coordinated campaign if you are blaming your staff?

[3] This is where New York magazine gets into weird territory: they declare that because Salazar’s ancestors were elites in Colombia who had a role in public life, that this “legacy of financial well-being and achievement carried over from Colombia to Salazar’s early family life in Florida, where she was born” because…Salazar’s brother said so! This is pretty weak, since it is no guarantee that just because your ancestors are wealthy you will also be wealthy.

[4] The quote “lower my expectations” which is used in this article comes from this video. I did my best to transcribe the video:

I hope I am not alienating anyone but I am also not into vartora [?]. I’m not equipped to do that either. But, I am a Jew of color. Many people aren’t familiar with this term but I’m a Colombian-American and I’m also Jewish. And Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and the movement that many of us are in has empowered me to say that proudly. Growing up I was told to lower my expectations by society. I immigrated to this country with my family when I was very little. In Colombia, my mom raised me as a single mother, she didn’t have a college degree. We really struggled. I started working in a grocery store when I was 14, I worked in the service industry from high school, and as a domestic worker in college. And it was that experience that while early on, you know [cuts off].”

[5] The full quote from her page is: “as a member of the Bushwick community, she has been a tireless advocate for her neighbors and fellow tenants. Julia’s decade of experience as a local community organizer has brought her from the streets of Bushwick to the halls of Albany. She has protested, picketed, lobbied, and organized to achieve a more just New York. From working with her neighbors to fight for their legal right to safe housing to demanding criminal justice reforms at the city and state levels, Julia has been at the forefront of campaigns for social justice in New York.”

[6] WZO, which was founded in 1897, wants to “serve as the umbrella organization for the Zionist movement” and be a “symbol and a founding institution of Zionist political thought and action.” It also pumps millions into new illegal settlements in the West Bank. In an article she co-wrote with Max Blumenthal, she would describe J Street, talking about “liberal pro-Israel students” in the organization, adding that “J Street U [is] the campus arm of the liberal pro-Israel organization, J Street.” J Street has directly attacked BDS and it also “rejects the return of Palestinians to lands and homes.”

[7] For the discussion of whether JFREJ is a Zionist organization, please email me. She may have also worked with CodePink as there is a page for a “Julia Carmel.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Significance of Julia Salazar running as a “Socialist” Democrat

The following was reprinted from Dissident Voice. It is the first of the two-part article on the so-called “socialist” Julia Carmel Salazar. A version of this article before its editing by Dissident Voice has been published on the Internet Archive.

On September 13, Julia Carmel Salazar won the Democratic primary against Martin Dilan, becoming the State Senate candidate for North Brooklyn’s District 18 (shaped like a praying mantis). Apart from the many dark times in her life, especially her right-wing period between 2008 and 2014, covered in Part 2 of this article, there are many other factors revolving around her role as a “socialist” of the NYC-DSA running in a Democratic primary. This article aims to talk about those factors and the significance of her candidacy, with her almost-assured victory in November, beyond Ben Beckett’s hot takes in Jacobin that her victory on September 13 “felt good” and that she was “attacked” in her supposed effort to build a “policy base that a new voter self-identity can be anchored in.”

With some media outlets calling her a “Latina democratic socialist” (Gothamist), “young and Latina, poised and progressive, and a democratic socialist” (New York Times), or a “Jewish Latina democratic socialist candidate” heading a “burgeoning progressive Jewish revolution” (Jewish Telegraph Agency) who sits among the “young progressive women” Michelle Goldberg recently wrote about in the New York Times, there are undoubtedly many articles about her positions. These media outlets see her as more than a “jumped-up nobody running for a state senate seat in Brooklyn,” allowing her campaign to become a runaway national story. She is described as a “socialist” (or as some call it “suddenly socialist”) and a DSA member, calling herself “an advocate, a tenant, a feminist, a democratic socialist, a union member.” [1]

She stands for universal rent control, tech-utopism, ending vacancy decontrol, abolishing ICE, single-payer healthcare usually described as Medicare For All, ending cash bail, fixing the subway system (and mass transit), ending “policies aimed at eliminating mass incarceration,” money for affordable housing, free tuition at CUNY and SUNY schools, and immigrant rights, while favoring reproductive rights and unions. These are socially democratic positions which aren’t necessarily “socialist.” She also endorsed the call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), which held by NYC-DSA, while criticizing the two-state solution. [2]

This position on Palestine is part of the reason for the negative articles in the Daily Mail, Forward, and the Tablet, most prominently, and was likely pushed by Zionist agents and perhaps the real estate industry, connected with her gender, as I have pointed on Twitter as a person who is critical of Salazar. Some, like Ryan Grim of the Intercept, Pierre Omidyar’s plaything, have said that after Salazar’s victory, “Big winners tonight appear to be: Tablet, Page Six and the Daily Mail, who get to keep writing about @SalazarSenate18 for the foreseeable future.” That has validity except it misses the significance of her candidacy.

As Salazar said at one point:

My vision is for a more caring society in which nobody is denied what they need to thrive based on income, on property, on capital. This is not what is going to happen the day I’m elected to the state Senate — that would be cool though. I’m realistic, but without that vision, this is pretty much a futile exercise.

This “cool” factor, where she says she would be “fine” if her victory led to “the end of capitalism” (which it obviously won’t), plays into the fact that her campaign headquarters in Bushwick sits near a “hipster” shop, with scores of volunteers (many of whom are DSA members) canvassing in “friendly political territory,” and receiving a huge amount of campaign donations after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another “socialist” running in the Democratic Party, endorsed her, while Radix Media printed her posters. As The Intercept even admitted: “Salazar’s road to Albany might be made easier by the same counterintuitive factor that helped propel Ocasio-Cortez to victory: gentrification,” with this being the case because “white transplants…tend to support Bernie Sanders-type universal programs.”

This reality was evident from The New Yorker’s photos of a victory party for Salazar on September 13 in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which included a smattering of people of color, but more white men and women than anything else. The New Yorker addressed this directly in their article, writing that “the crowd [there] whose arrival often heralds gentrification—the young bearded types at the party—had worked on the campaign…The hipsters who come to the neighborhood for the “right reasons,” as [Tasha] Van Auken [Salazar’s campaign manager] put it, are actually working to keep older residents safely in their homes.” At the same time a BuzzFeed article noted that the supporters of Salazar, “certainly the young, mostly white, recent college graduates who flooded her victory party…didn’t recognize, at least subconsciously, that this kind of thing is just way more common than we’d like to admit,” meaning they were more like Salazar than they would admit off the bat.

This connects to what her former opponent, Dilan, called her: a gentrifier who recently moved into the area even though she opposes gentrification and she has lived in the same apartment in Bushwick for years. As one strident critic of Salazar put it recently, the campaign’s winning strategy was to target a gentrifying district, then use the “DSA as footsoldiers to turn out the white voters.” This effort, which reportedly included knocking on 100,000 doors, was a success in getting her elected, allowing her to integrate even more people into the faltering Democratic Party, which would make the head of the party smile even as they grumble about her viewpoints.

It is evident that Salazar is trying to portray herself as “hip,” with some saying that she “transformed, seemingly overnight, from an extreme right-wing Republican Right-To-Life Zionist zealot to a trendy BernieCrat. She needs to offer a plausible account of how this happened.” This is evident from the fact that she may be vegan (or perhaps vegetarian), tweeted a quote from Howard Zinn, is blocked on Twitter by Rosanne Barr, she has been called a “tattoo-wearing socialist” for her tattoo of a “large black and white rose” near her left shoulder and another of plane on her right arm which The Nation calls “a memento of her father, whose death when she was 18 “shaped [her] life,”” the look of her campaign headquarters, being interviewed by those of Chapo Trap House (a “leftist” podcast which almost verges on being anti-communist), and her long hair. It is also expressed through her “hot takes” on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, legalizing marijuana, misogyny, libertarians, Tucker Carlson of Fox News, and protest chants. With this, it is no surprise that the UAW has called her a “UAW sibling.” Also her reported “faith in humanity based on…the observation and the belief that as humans we don’t just operate selfishly, you know, that we can actually be in solidarity with one another, and not just with our people,” as she noted in a DSA podcast, it is part of this portrayal as well.

She also has garnered an unusual constituency for a politician which is “emerging as a force in electoral politics…because of the growing political threat against their industry”: prostitutes, whom many outlets like to call “sex workers” claiming that they are just like other workers, by supporting the decriminalization of prostitution and attending “sex worker advocacy meetings.” The Intercept even did a whole article on the subject, declaring that she is “shaping her policy by consulting the sex work community, is one of the first candidates to definitively support those workers, including by proposing concrete steps toward decriminalization. In that article, she told the reporter that “sex workers are workers and they deserve to be treated with dignity, including protections and decent working conditions, rather than the abuse and criminalization that they currently face. I’m dedicated to defending workers’ rights, reforming our criminal justice system and ending exploitation, and we know that criminalization puts everyone in sex work at risk rather than protecting them.” As a result, she stands against those feminists who are rightly critical of prostitution and rather with the so-called “sex worker lobby” which is probably the lobby for the sex industry.

This would be the case because those glad with Salazar’s position include Melissa Gira Grant (who doesn’t “acknowledge the issue of masculine social dominance” on her book on “sex work”) and the Red Umbrella Project (part of a group that is a front for pimps). Grant was so glad with Salazar’s position that she wrote an article in The Appeal, a project of Tides Advocacy (formerly the Advocacy Fund), which is an affiliate of the Tides Foundation, a major funder of bourgeois environmental groups, like 350.org, with Warren Buffet’s NoVo Foundation as one of the biggest funders of Tides. In her article, Grant declared, not surprisingly, that Salazar’s campaign has “provided a platform for sex workers to do some of that educational work [on prostitution], while offering a template for how the decriminalization fight could play out in other cities and states,” adding, in a joyful manner, that “her support for sex workers’ rights is unusual for a person running for office.”

As Matthew Maavak has written, “a civilization where women and children are sexually commoditized is one in terminal decline,” a thought which is connected to what Tanner Stenning has written: “if we’re to proceed in defending sex workers, let’s start by acknowledging at least this much: likeliest the vast majority would not choose sex work were the circumstances different.” This is further informed by what has been written in Feminist Current: that “prostitution endlessly erects the very patriarchal divisions between women that it allegedly destroys…As long as prostitution exists women and men will never be free from patriarchy,” that “under the narrative of “sex work” there can be no vulnerable person,” and that “pro-sex trade voices are…ubiquitous” to such an extent that the New York Times has done articles on the subject. The same publication also talked about the gentrification of prostitution, murders of prostitutes in New Zealand where prostitution has been decriminalized, certain people discounting rape of prostitutes, and trying to de-platform Chris Hedges for taking a strong anti-prostitution stand in his Truthdig columns.

While prostitutes have flocked to Salazar’s campaign, Trotskyists have endorsed her, with Socialist Alternative declaring that her campaign’s door knocking “is seen by many workers and youth as an important vehicle to fight back,” but adding that “many DSA members want to build mass movements outside the electoral arena…a broader struggle to transform the party,” while adding that “it’s essentially impossible to rip the Democratic Party as a whole from its corporate leadership. To win far-reaching change a new mass workers party will be needed.” Still, they support Salazar, saying her efforts are positive and are “generating support for many important issues that won’t be won without struggle…A Salazar victory will be a…clear indication of the growing momentum for socialist ideas.” Not so sure about that.

Additionally, the Brooklyn branch of the ISO (International Socialist Organization), a Trotskyist organization, also issued their support for Salazar, declaring their full support of her from “a nightmarish series of attacks…[a] steady and vicious smear campaign drummed up by both liberal and right-wing media outlets” and urging those “progressive allies who continue to dissect Salazar’s background…to [not] equivocate, but to stand firmly on the side of solidarity, so that one of our own does not pay such a high price for standing up for all of us.” Apparently standing on the side of solidarity means to mimic her followers by not questioning her. Even Niles Niemuth of the Trotskyist Socialist Equality Party, a candidate in Michigan, was quoted in the party’s website, the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) as saying that:

The DSA, which is a faction of the Democratic Party, not an independent party, promotes the fiction that the interests of workers can be secured without a frontal attack on the domination and wealth of the corporate and financial elite. It advances the lie that workers can win their rights through the instrument of the Democratic Party—a right wing, pro-capitalist party.

On that point he may be right although Trotskyists have a distorted worldview which benefits the global bourgeoisie. Salazar may  use words like capitalism and capital, while calling herself a socialist and declaring that her campaign was something “revolutionary,” but she also has a progressive feel, with her website saying: “Julia is the leader we need to make New York City a safer, more just, more welcoming place for everyone” and saying that the “abolition of private property” is not “realistic.” While she seemed to differentiate “democratic socialism” and “progressivism,” in an interview for Jacobin, saying the former means “to have a vision of a world where everyone is taken care of….a society in which people are valued over profit, in which everyone has access to the things they need not just for basic survival but to thrive” and that the latter might “advocate for forcing landlords to do necessary repairs on buildings,” her talk on the campaign trail, saying she speaks for the Latinx community, drawing strength from “the long history of Jewish social justice and Latinx social justice organizing” wants to make New York a “progressive beacon” or that she wants a “true blue New York,” that she is part of a “movement” winning over the “machine,” tells a different story.

It is doubtful that her ideas will “bring us closer to a truly socialist economic system,” as she claimed her campaign was part of, since, as In These Times writes, “democratic socialism itself has always been a heterodox term, encompassing everyone from ideological Trotskyists to New Deal Democrats.” They also note that “DSA isn’t keen to enforce a strict definition of “democratic socialism,”” possibly meaning everything from “taking public goods like healthcare off the private market…to worker-ownership of the means of production.” The DSA, with a chapter in NYC, also doesn’t want to play as a “spoiler in general elections” but would rather endorse “the most progressive candidates from other parties in primaries, while also running their own, further-to-the-left candidates in local Democratic races that are safely progressive.” Salazar can warn of ideas “becoming diluted when they leave the Left and enter the mainstream, province of politicians and political expediency,”  and even admit that “the two-party system de facto disenfranchises people, and I can’t see the Democratic Party ultimately being a vessel for the democratic socialist revolution, so it would be silly and shortsighted for democratic socialists to put a lot of effort and resources into that project.”

Still, she says that “it would be great if we could all avoid the Democratic Party line…but if I were to try to do that in this district, I highly doubt people would notice much less vote for a third-party candidate in the general election.” Yet wanting to be part of a “progressive wave,” being a person supposedly with “class politics and a materialist analysis,” will not get her the “socialist movement” that she claims she is part of. This is because she cannot be for a Bernie-style “political revolution” while being a “fiery progressive” who is still socialist and is building a “movement.” Talking in Bernie-like language will just end up with her followers, after her victory, being swallowed into the Democratic Party. This is evident by the fact that there is a fundraiser for her on Act Blue, which calls Salazar “a dedicated community leader running in the Democratic primary for New York State Senate…committed to running a campaign by and for the people, sustained by grassroots donations from supporters like you,” a Democratic PAC which is independent of the Democratic Party and is part of “blue” Democratic brand. This is even the case if the words were written by her campaign, as they also publicized their efforts as “all grassroots.” It is also doubtful that while her victory will make her supporters gleeful, it will not be a “victory for workers” as she declared in her victory speech on the night of September 13.

The numerous individuals and groups who have endorsed her seem to question how grassroots her campaign was, especially considering the number of out-of-state donors (35% of her donor base). Her website lists Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Councilman Jumaane Williams, Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Working Families, New York Communities for Change, DSA, CWA, CODEPINK, Make the Road Action, Citizen Acton of New York, New York State Immigrant Action Fund, Carlina Rivera campaign, OUR Revolution, NYC DSA, NYC Kids PAC, New King Democrats, Brooklyn Progressive Action Network, New York Progressive Action Network, New York Professional Nurses Union, The Jewish Vote, Amplify Her, Streets PAC, Grassroots Action New York, Women of Color for Progress, UAW, and The People for Bernie as endorsing her campaign. Even, the Zionist Tablet has written that “Salazar’s election [victory] would be a breakthrough for the city’s Jewish left: proof that their institutions can become a pathway to formal political power, that anti-Zionist Jews can win high-profile elections, and that big things are possible when communities grow ravenous for some kind of change.”

She has also been supported by those from the ACLU, progressive “socialist” Lee J. Carter, Insurrection magazine (which she once published for in an article about virtual reality), NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Bhaskar Sunkara, the editor of socially-democratic Jacobin, progressive” Democrats like Cynthia Nixon and Zephyr Teachout, along with the typical support from Berniecrats and DSA people, Democratic honchos, uptight White liberals in suits and “socialists” like Benjamin Norton. Most worrisome is that Linda Sarsour is an active supporter of her (and Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign as well) campaign. Sarsour is a Berniecrat once recognized as a “champion of change” by Obama’s admin, along with also smearing Syria’s government, calling for that government’s overthrow and saying it is oppressing Syrians. Sarsour also defended head-chopping Saudis (even if she doesn’t “support” them), acts like she critical of the Zionist state but made sure there were no BDS or anti-Zionist signs at the Women’s March in DC, and supports the Zionist state’s existence, making it clear she is not really what she claims to be. [3]

With all the distortions of Salazar’s personal message caused by her inconsistency, some progressives who would be prone to support her ideas have decided to not do so, like Dave Weigel. The Salazar campaign’s “voter protection teams” won’t protect them from this form of defection, with the same applying to their get-out-the-vote efforts, with the former organized perhaps because of expected voter suppression in the district which happened on September 13.

Before her victory, one article in Vox stated that “if she wins, it’ll be more evidence that socialists in general and the DSA in particular are forces to be reckoned within the Democratic Party. If she loses — well, then the DSA will be the socialists who couldn’t even win an election in Bushwick.” Her campaign positions were clear in a smoothly-made campaign ad (the production and creation which may have violated FEC regulations) by Means Production, an entertainment company, which is less than three minutes long. It includes a Reaganesque refrain that it is “morning again in Brooklyn” (repeated three times in the video) while the video itself, worryingly, declares her campaign will deliver “moral clarity” (or “common sense” as it is put elsewhere) but not “radical ideas.” Salazar herself also only gives unnamed “corporations” & the “real estate body” as the problem without even uttering the word capitalism in the video itself!

Wanting a “more caring society” does not make you socialist either, not because of some non-existent “purity test” but rather that any progressive could say the same exact thing. As one person in Left Voice asked:

Why couldn’t someone like Julia Salazar run as a socialist, putting the hundreds of DSA members who are canvassing into dialogue with those who are disillusioned with the two-party system? Why can’t the anti-establishment feeling be put in the service of joining a movement against the parties that have sold out the working class and oppressed them again and again? She may not win the election, but the DSA will have spread socialist ideas and about working class independence from capitalists. And besides, it’s not unheard of for an independent socialist to win an election.

Not sure why she didn’t go that route. Doesn’t seem right, as it would be better to build structures independent of the Democratic Party instead. Some may have a point that the DSA is currently being opportunist by allowing her in their ranks or claiming she is spouting a form of Zionism like Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, but there is more happening than that.

On a connected note, it is worth discussing the NYC-DSA. It is a chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a group declaring on its homepage that “working people should run both the economy and society democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few” but then just fights for “reforms that empower working people,” including decreasing the “influence of money in politics…empower[ing] ordinary people in workplaces and the economy [and] restructur[ing]…gender and cultural relationships to be more equitable,” followed by a broad “commitment to democracy.”  This may sound nice, but their “free, democratic and humane society” includes a humane international social order based both on democratic planning and market mechanisms” which sounds horrifying because the latter element means such a society would have capitalist elements!

On another page they declare that “the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few which changes in government and economic structures,” adding that they do not want “all-powerful government bureaucracy” and claiming that “worker-owned cooperatives or publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives” would allow social ownership, while also favoring “as much decentralization as possible.” So, they aren’t bringing on the Soviet Union, even though they favor central-planning, which they also just call “democratic planning” which would include, you guessed it, “market mechanisms are needed to determine the demand for many consumer goods.”

The group then goes into the land of anti-communism, declaring that “socialists have been among the harshest critics of authoritarian Communist states,” even saying that they “applaud the democratic revolutions that have transformed the former Communist bloc,” despite the fact the countries are now worse off, and claiming they are also against “ethnic rivalries and/or new forms of authoritarianism.” Even worse, they favor government regulation, tax incentives, and unions to “control” corporations, while favoring a “combination of social, economic, and moral incentives will motivate people to work,” and using social democratic efforts in Sweden, Canada, France, the U$,and Nicaragua, as “examples” going forward! After they say that the DSA “must work towards reforms that can withstand the power of multinationals and global banks, and we must fight for a world order that is not controlled by bankers and bosses,” they support fighting within the Democratic Party, writing: “…many of us have been active in the Democratic Party. We work with those movements to strengthen the party’s left wing…The process and structure of American elections seriously hurts third party efforts…We hope that at some point in the future, in coalition with our allies, an alternative national party will be viable. For now, we will continue to support progressives who have a real chance at winning elections, which usually means left-wing Democrats.” What a disgusting set of words!

Finally, there is the page about their history, written by Joseph M. Schwartz (active in the DSA since the beginning), proclaiming that they “made an ethical contribution to the broader American Left by being one of the few radical organizations born out of a merger rather than a split.” It also says that they “helped popularize the vision of an ecumenical, multi-tendency socialist organization, an ethos that enabled it to recently incorporate many thousands of new members, mostly out of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign,” even welcoming those who “believe in the possibility of independent electoral work inside or outside the Democratic Party ballot line.” This history shows that in 1972 their predecessor, with Michael Harrington (who believed that the Left could take over the Democratic Party) as a major figure, supported those in the ““new politics” left-liberals in the McGovern wing of the Democrats,” while in the later 1970s they supported a progressive “Democratic Agenda,” building progressive Democratic coalitions in the 1980s, founding the DSA in 1982.

The history then complained that “the collapse of communism in 1989 proved less of an immediate boon to democratic socialists than many of us had hoped. Those who had suffered in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union did not embrace socialism with a human face, but rushed headlong into the embrace of a mythic, free market capitalism.” They thought they would benefit from that? Jeez, they do not understand capitalism or the problem with the Soviet Union’s dissolution, which can be grasped even by those critical of the country, especially after 1956 when it entered its revisionist period.

The history continues on, saying that the group then called for a single-payer healthcare system in the early 1990s to counter the Clinton health plan, opposed Clinton’s welfare reform, opposed the Iraq and Afghanistan wars early on, called for a “truly progressive tax system” in the early 2000s, joining the Occupy movement from day one, supporting Black Lives Matter, “and fighting against mass incarceration and for equitable urban public education” in more recent years. As an obvious tie into the Democratic Party, the history recalled “DSA’s decision in late 2014 to make its number one priority the movement to support Bernie Sanders running for president. DSA took the position that for maximum exposure and effectiveness, Sanders should not only run, but should run in the Democratic primaries,” even as they admitted that “Bernie’s New Deal or social democratic program did not fulfill the socialist aim of establishing worker and social ownership of the economy” but it apparently seemed “sufficiently radical and inspiring.”

And now they boast that they are “the largest socialist organization in the United States since the Communist Party before its implosion in 1956 after the [false and traitorous] Khrushchev revelations about Stalin” and then declare that “we also are committed to working in coalition with forces that oppose both right-wing rule and the dominant national corporate wing of the Democrats. We want to continue Sanders’ “political revolution” by broadening out that political trend to include a stronger base within the labor movement and, most importantly, among progressive organizations rooted in communities of color. If we take up those challenges, DSA may be able to sustain the most important socialist presence in U.S. politics since the Debsian Socialist era of 1900 to 1920.”

Once again, this positioning makes them the perfect sheepdogs for the Democratic Party, clearly as social democrats not as socialists which they call themselves, while they could very easily be using that same energy on building independent structures! Then, again, this is unlikely to happen as no Marxist theory is even mentioned on any of these pages at all, showing superficiality of their ideas. [4]

With this, we get back to NYC-DSA. It is currently an entirely member funded group that is run by more than 3,500 members, saying on its homepage that they are “socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality, and non-oppressive relationships,” adding that they want to “work together to develop a concrete strategy for achieving that vision, for achieving a transition to democratic socialism in America,” calling for people to help them build a better world. Another page on their website declares their further aims:

a society free of all oppression with a democratically-run, ecologically-sustainable economy…Our goal is a socialist world….A transformation on this scale will require socialist parties and powerful social movements. The goal of NYC-DSA is to move us closer to achieving this transformation…Campaigns for reforms that would improve working-class and oppressed people’s lives are key to our ability to organize this base…ultimately it will take a political revolution and massive social transformations to make the lasting changes we are fighting for…Socialists have learned through decades of fighting for reforms that the capitalist system serves the interests of the ruling class. It is designed to meet their needs and insulate their power from threats from below. Our strategy therefore is different from the liberal one. We work to organize millions of people into democratically-led movements that take militant action against bosses and politicians…We believe that the fundamental transformations we are seeking are in the broad interests of all working-class and oppressed people, and our work is focused on organizing among this base…We must pressure Democrats to obstruct Trump’s agenda. Mass demonstrations against Trump’s actions will also be a regular feature of the next few years…The prospects for winning reforms in the interest of working-class and oppressed people at the city-level would seem to be more promising…the city Democratic Party is divided into three factions, undermining its ability to pass progressive reforms…Because the mayoral and other citywide elections this year appear to be uncompetitive and none of the candidates present a strong progressive vision for the city, we should not take a position on these races. This frees us up to focus our electoral work on a few key City Council races. In general, after full discussion, we will support the most viable progressive candidate who will use their office as a ‘bully pulpit’ to help build social movements in NYC. We will especially look to find candidates willing to run as democratic socialists…It is critical that all of this work is done with an eye towards building an electoral apparatus — which includes fundraising, canvassing, research, and volunteers — independent of the Democratic Party and corporate money….As NYC-DSA we also call on the National Convention of DSA to vote to disaffiliate from the Socialist International (SI). The SI is not helping to build an international socialist movement — its member parties work around the world to roll back welfare states and impose austerity.

While this is a bit better than the DSA, it still falls into using the “Democratic Party line,” as Salazar called it. To recall what Salazar herself said, quoted earlier in this article: “the two-party system de facto disenfranchises people, and I can’t see the Democratic Party ultimately being a vessel for the democratic socialist revolution, so it would be silly and shortsighted for democratic socialists to put a lot of effort and resources into that project.” We then can recall what Jimmy Dore, a progressive comedian who recently declared that “if they play the national anthem at work & make you stand and salute, that’s not patriotism, that’s fascism. That’s what they do in North Korea” (which you could call liberal fascism) and who doesn’t like corporatists but voted for Obama twice (which is a conundrum), said about the Democrats (as he does often). He argued that they caused the repeal of Glass-Steagall, crash of the economy, banks to get bigger, cops to crack heads at Occupy protests, not stop unions from being taken away from teachers in Wisconsin, joined with the current U$ president and McConnell to fast-track lifetime appointments of judges, worked with GOP to deregulate Wall Street again and have the biggest Pentagon budget in U$ history (717 billion dollars), take fossil fuel money, and have a new DNC rule that to run as a candidate in the Democratic Party, head of DNC gets to decide whether the candidate is sufficiently loyal to the party.

He also said that Democrats have been in decline for decades, that superdelegates are still there but just don’t vote for the President in the first-round, that many people associate with Democrats because they are an “inferior good” and that there is “no way they will allow progressives to take over the party.” But ultimately Jimmy Dore and his guests stuck with the Democrats, while one admitted that progressive victories could be sapping energy that could be used to create a new political party, but another said” right now that is not an option,” echoing what Salazar said. It is this defeatist attitude which is part of the problem.

Ultimately there is one major problem with Salazar’s candidacy, as is the case with Ocasio-Cortez.  It sucks grassroots energy into electoral politics like a vacuum cleaner bringing in loads of dust. [5] The same could even be said of Kshama Sawant in Seattle, running as part of the Trotskyist Socialist Alternative grouping.

Specifically in the case of Salazar, Ocasio-Cortez, and many others, their energy would be sucked into the Democratic Party. Even Socialist Alternative, which endorsed Salazar, admitted this, declaring that “it’s essentially impossible to rip the Democratic Party as a whole from its corporate leadership. To win far-reaching change a new mass workers party will be needed.” This seems to be embodied within the Party of Communists – USA (PCUSA), which declares that “the Republican and Democratic Parties represent and work for the basic interests of capital, the large stock-holders of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler…The PCUSA proposes a realistic policy that is neither sectarian nor set in stone nor just latches on to the Democratic Machine.”

As such, it is clear that DSA does not fulfill this goal. Rather, they are sending more people to their spiritual deaths, not through spending “more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift” as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it in 1967, as they will be swallowed into the Democratic machine just like that Futurama episode where a beast takes in people’s life essence, expanding its ego to absurdist proportions. Some can try to be “super” progressive within the Democratic Party, but eventually those people will crack sooner or later like Ocasio-Cortez did when she could not explain what the “occupation of Palestine” meant, later declaring that “I believe absolutely in Israel’s right to exist. I’m a proponent of the two state solution. For me, this is not a referendum on the state of Israel.”

No matter what happens to Salazar ultimately, whether she wins in November or not, her candidacy serves an ultimate purpose to the corporatist leadership of the Democratic Party: it keeps the party alive and breathing, allowing it to support rampant imperialism, the actions of the current U$ administration, and continue to shaft the proletariat, among reinforcing efforts to enact their capitalist ideology. As such, while one could, without much thought, praise Salazar for her reformist ideas, there should be a more determined effort to create structures and institutions which exist outside the two-party system, allowing for a focus on more productive endeavors than just participating in elections.


Notes

[1] Salazar defines socialism as about “fighting to build a society in which everybody can live in dignity and have the resources to live as equitably as possible [and to have] the resources that we need not only to survive but to thrive in our society. It’s about empowering workers as far as my own theory of change…empowering the most marginalized and vulnerable members of our society.” She then told Teen Vogue that “being a democratic socialist means fighting to build a society in which everyone is cared for and has the resources that we need to not only to survive but to thrive in our society. It means that everybody will truly have autonomy and control over their own destinies. I think that part of the vision of fighting for a society in which everyone is able to thrive and has control of their own destiny means acknowledging gender inequality and patriarchy in our society. It requires working to dismantle patriarchy and to counteract gender inequality and fight for a society in which women and gender nonconforming people are no longer oppressed systemically.”

While that is nice, it doesn’t really sound “socialist” to me. The fourth edition of Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines it on page 1360 as “any of the various theories or systems of ownership and operation of the means of production by society or the community sharing the work and products” and as “the stage in society, in Marxist doctrine, coming between the capitalist stage and the communist age, in which private ownership of the means of production and distribution have been eliminated.” The first definition is the one I’d like to focus on, rather than the second one as the U$ is still strongly in a capitalist society despite the goofs that say it is “post-capitalist.” Nothing about building a fairer society, which Salazar says she is for, is about moving toward society or the community owning the means of production. Cuba and the DPRK, arguably, rather than the revisionist triad (Laos, Vietnam, and China), fall within the second stage, but how much they do this is obviously up for debate.

[2] When interviewed on a DSA podcast, Salazar seemed to differentiate the societies of the U$ and the Zionist state, saying that “I think that both American and Israeli society are in crisis as a result of hyper-militarization of our societies, and our law enforcement, our government institutions that are ostensibly supposed to protect us. The effects are obviously felt vastly disproportionately by one part of population. And obviously in the US, it’s disproportionately affecting Black Americans and people of color, but most obviously Black Americans, and we know it’s rooted in a hideous legacy of slavery. Whereas in Israel and Palestine, it’s rooted in a history of inequality that’s been there since the establishment of the state. I see it as a product of having a hyper-militarized police force in a society that has been and often still is taught a pretty racist narrative.” While that has validity, the history of inequality has been there since the founding of the U$. This is a statement which is ignorant without question, not realizing the parallels between the two countries and the racist, sexist, and classist [I probably shouldn’t have used that word] history of the U$ since its founding, as a state, in 1783 and as an independent entity in 1776.

[3] See more of Sarsour’s tweets on “Syria,” “Israel,” “Zionist,” “Palestine,” “apartheid,” “Saudi Arabia,” with tweets on the Saudis acting like she is critical when she has defended them in the past.

[4] Some have argued that the DSA wants socialism but that “trying to transform the imperialist core through electoral means reflects a lack of theoretical understanding of what building socialism necessarily entails,” adding that the “lack of emphasis on decolonizing (which necessitates the complete destruction of the settler colonial state) shows little practical understanding of what socialism would look like once that building process kicks off.” That opinion has validity, although it still doesn’t seem that they want socialism, but rather want a form of social democracy instead!

[5] One Princeton historian, Matt Karp, who is friends with Salazar, wrote that “if there was anything individually notable about Julia’s run for office, it was the idea that an ordinary person could pick up the mantle to run for state senate, not based on a claim of spectacular virtue, but a commitment to represent the needs and values of the people in her district. Now we see what happens when an ordinary person — bound to the ordinary extraordinary complexities of a life lived outside the confines of a resume — challenges the power of a political elite.” While that has its validity, it also poses her as some progressive shining star on a hill, something she is definitely not, and ignores the real problem with her candidacy is not her personal story or her ideas, but what it means for the political landscape and the faltering Democratic Party, with the same applying to other progressives who run on the Democratic Party line to try and push the party “to the Left,” a task which is an utter waste of time.

The Kim-Moon summit in Pyongyang: was there “modest progress” or “great strides”?

Reprinted from anti-imperialism.org, with changes of some links to this blog and text itself for reasons of smoothness. This article was revised, with an eye to self-criticism on August 22, 2019.

Bourgeois media have been full of venom about the recent meeting between the leaders of both Koreas, Kim Jong-Un and Moon Jae-In, in Pyongyang. [1] At the same time, the orange menace declared on his free-wheeling twitter that the results of the meeting, which include Kim agreeing to allow nuclear inspections, permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad “in the presence of international experts” coupled with no new “Rocket or Nuclear testing,” remains of U$ imperialist foot soldiers returning back to the U$, and both Koreas filing “a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics,” he found “very exciting.” In contrast, neocon Lindsey Graham declared that while the DPRK has “stopped testing missiles and nuclear devices, they have NOT moved toward denuclearisation” and Marco Rubio, a pawn of reactionary Cuban expats, claimed that Kim is working on a “propaganda coup” while criticizing inter-Korean cooperation showed their imperialist tendencies. Rubio, Graham, and many others (who lead the capitalist “two-party” beast) don’t even want  a possibility of detente between the U$ and the DPRK, which the orange menace still seems to believe is possible, calling Kim “calm,” leaving open the possibility of another meeting with Kim. This brings us to the real question at hand: what did the agreement between Kim and Moon say and what does it mean for peace on the Korean Peninsula?

In order to promote further understanding and knowledge of inter-Korean negotiations, I have uploaded an unofficial translation of their agreement, by Korea Times, to my personal WordPress. [2] With that, I reprint the agreement in its entirety within this article, analyzing specific sections with informed analysis. The first two paragraphs introduce the document, talks about what has been accomplished since the Panmunjeom Declaration in April 27th of this year:

Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea and Kim Jong-un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea held the Inter-Korean Summit Meeting in Pyongyang on September 18-20, 2018.

The two leaders assessed the excellent progress made since the adoption of the historic Panmunjeom Declaration, such as the close dialogue and communication between the authorities of the two sides, civilian exchanges and cooperation in many areas, and epochal measures to defuse military tension.

Such a statement is undoubtedly positive, as it shows that Moon and Kim are on the same page, working to unite the Korean nation together. It connects to the fact that both Moon and Kim spoke before 150,000 Koreans at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, at a ceremony celebrating the 70th anniversary of the DPRK’s founding, saying their meetings will usher in a new era of peace. If what BBC says it to believed, the DPRK even revised the event to accommodate their visitors from the ROK (Republic of Korea). Moon’s speech before the crowd is a big deal because he is the first ROK leader to speak before an audience in the North. In his speech, “interrupted by thundering applause” as the New York Times described it, he praised the Korean people’s courage for overcoming the famine in the 1990s, Kim’s effort to rebuild the economy, and told the crowd that “we Koreans are exceptional, we are tenacious, we are peace-loving, And we must live together.”

The two leaders reaffirmed the principle of independence and self-determination of the Korean nation, and agreed to consistently and continuously develop inter-Korean relations for national reconciliation and cooperation, and firm peace and co-prosperity, and to make efforts to realize through policy measures the aspiration and hope of all Koreans that the current developments in inter-Korean relations will lead to reunification.

The two leaders held frank and in-depth discussions on various issues and practical steps to advance inter-Korean relations to a new and higher dimension by thoroughly implementing the Panmunjeom Declaration, shared the view that the Pyongyang Summit will be an important historic milestone, and declared as follows.

These words show that both leaders agree with the need to unify the Korean nation and increase relations between north and south. Perhaps not only can that the Panmunjeom Declaration be historic, but this statement can be a historic milestone too! Perhaps one could say it is a “landmark” in inter-Korean ties.

1. The two sides agreed to expand the cessation of military hostility in regions of confrontation such as the DMZ into the substantial removal of the danger of war across the entire Korean Peninsula and a fundamental resolution of the hostile relations.

This is also a major step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula, refuting the objectives of U$ imperialists to continue to treat the DMZ as a war zone and engender tension across the peninsula itself. Following this are two objectives for how to accomplish this goal:

① The two sides agreed to adopt the “Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjeom Declaration in the Military Domain” as an annex to the Pyongyang Declaration, and to thoroughly abide by and faithfully implement it, and to actively take practical measures to transform the Korean Peninsula into a land of permanent peace.

② The two sides agreed to engage in constant communication and close consultations to review the implementation of the Agreement and prevent accidental military clashes by promptly activating the Inter-Korean Joint Military Committee.

The text of the “Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjeom Declaration in the Military Domain” has not been broadly released, with media reports calling it a 55-page military agreement aiming to ease border tensions. As the LA Times described it, the agreement would create “a border buffer zone,” remove “landmines from the demilitarized zone,” create a “no-fly zone along the DMZ” and shut down the “11 guard posts” along the DMZ itself. The actual agreement, as posted by the soft anti-DPRK organization, which calls itself humanitarian, the “National Committee on North Korea” (NCNK) shows the agreement as only 17 pages long, but still important nonetheless.

2. The two sides agreed to pursue substantial measures to further advance exchanges and cooperation based on the spirit of mutual benefit and shared prosperity, and to develop the nation’s economy in a balanced manner.

① The two sides agreed to hold a ground-breaking ceremony within this year for the east-coast and west-coast rail and road connections.

② The two sides agreed, as conditions ripe, to first normalize the Gaeseong industrial complex and the Mt. Geumgang Tourism Project, and to discuss the issue of forming a west coast joint special economic zone and an east coast joint special tourism zone.

③ The two sides agreed to actively promote south-north environment cooperation so as to protect and restore the natural ecology, and as a first step to endeavor to achieve substantial results in the currently on-going forestry cooperation.

④ The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in the areas of prevention of epidemics, public health and medical care, including emergency measures to prevent the entry and spread of contagious diseases.

For the DPRK, especially, this is important, as these principles, if implemented, could tie the Korean people even closer together and tie the the North and South together not only economically but medically and environmentally on a mutual basis. The only problem that could develop is the entrance of ROK capitalists into the North, leading to further exploitation of the proletariat. As the Associated Press put it in their article, Moon brought some of “South Korea’s most powerful business tycoons to Pyongyang” which some observers claimed was boosting Kim as he works to show “his citizens that he’s pivoting to economic improvement and… raising his impoverished nation up to South Korea’s level.” An article in Korea Herald specifically says who these capitalists are: “the chiefs of the country’s three-biggest family-run conglomerates — Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo and 14 others.” The same article says that the prospects of “possible projects in the North appear to have grown slightly more positive in the [ROK] business community.” While a special economic zone or tourist project would theoretically limit these capitalists, their power and influence would not only affect the country as a whole, but they would likely not just be restricted to those specific areas. At the same time, other capitalists are cautious, as the Global Times, a Chinese tabloid aligning with the revisionist CPC, blared, quoting Kim Dong-man of the ROK-based Bogo International as saying “North Korea expects economic support from South Korea and the US in return for its denuclearization activities. However, we need to see more action, not promises or goodwill, to spend our money on a land that still faces international sanctions” and a real estate agent in Dandong (a city which borders the DPRK) named Zhang Xu who claims to speak for the “people” there: “people in Dandong have heard too much ‘good news’ and ‘good signals’ too many times, but business with North Korea remains stalled as the international sanctions are still in place. Though the declaration is a good signal, it is still far from real action, and the investment and trade environment in North Korea will not change until the US lifts its sanctions.” Finally, they quote a customs official in Hunchun: “what we care about most is when will the sanctions be removed, especially those relevant to aquatic products and restricting labor from North Korea” and Li Shenglin, head of the Linfeng Trade Company, based in Dandong, as saying “US President Donald Trump needs peace on the Korean Peninsula as a political asset for his mid-term election and he needs support from Kim,” adding that China needs the DPRK to have a more “favorable environment” for “investors,” another name for capitalists. Despite the article saying that “ordinary” people or residents will be quoted, they are only mentioned briefly, only quoting capitalists instead!

3. The two sides agreed to strengthen humanitarian cooperation to fundamentally resolve the issue of separated families.

① The two sides agreed to open a permanent facility for family reunion meetings in the Mt. Geumgang area at an early date, and to promptly restore the facility toward this end.

② The two sides agreed to resolve the issue of video meetings and exchange of video messages among the separated families as a matter of priority through the inter-Korean Red Cross talks.

This is another positive step, making it clear that the union of the two Koreas is even more permanent than it is currently. Some media were allowed in the DPRK apparently on restricted terms, like the the team from National Pentagon Radio (NPR), including Mary Louise Kelly, the college-educated host of All Things Considered who has been in the bourgeois media since the 1990s, and Becky Sullivan, the producer of the same show. Kelly, who wrote the NPR article, complains about renting an armband to show herself as a foreign journalist and seems to be unaware of her Orientalist views. [3] Even Michael Palin, formerly of the UK- based Monty Python comedy group, went to the DPRK, and The Guardian lamented that he only saw the country as “strange” but not “sinister,”  as they treat it as some repressive, horrible place. They note that while Palin grumbled about “the lack of internet [and] absence of phone signal,” the obvious results of UN (and U$) sanctions,  he “marvelled at the extravagant underground train stations and the extraordinarily robotic, choreographed movements of the traffic police…got a head massage at a state-run health complex…and was shown the centre where table tennis players practise.” In the meantime, the DOJ in the U$ has accused someone supposedly from the DPRK, named “Park Jin-hyok,” of hacking Sony Pictures in 2014, with BBC only supporting his existence because the FBI said so, which is a low source of “evidence,” making it a joke. [4] As William Blum said in his recent anti-empire report, “a statement from the FBI that Russia interfered in the election does not count as evidence. It’s merely a statement.” The same applies to this supposed person.

4. The two sides agreed to actively promote exchanges and cooperation in various fields so as to enhance the atmosphere of reconciliation and unity and to demonstrate the spirit of the Korean nation both internally and externally.

① The two sides agreed to further promote cultural and artistic exchanges, and to first conduct a performance of the Pyongyang Art Troupe in Seoul in October this year.

② The two sides agreed to actively participate together in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games and other international games, and to cooperate in bidding for the joint hosting of the 2032 Summer Olympic Games.

③ The two sides agreed to hold meaningful events to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the October 4 Declaration, to jointly commemorate the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement Day, and to hold working-level consultations toward this end.

Such cultural and artistic exchanges are another attempt to tie the two Koreas together. This is manifested perhaps even by Kim himself trying to do the “baby hearts” gesture which is popular on Instagram with those in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. [5] The DPRK is not isolated, as we should remember. Recent KCNA articles noted that Kim, received supportive letters from the leaders of Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, on the country’s 70th anniversary, to give a few examples.

5. The two sides shared the view that the Korean Peninsula must be turned into a land of peace free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threats, and that substantial progress toward this end must be made in a prompt manner.

① First, the North will permanently dismantle the Dongchang-ri missile engine test site and launch platform under the observation of experts from relevant countries.

② The North expressed its willingness to continue to take additional measures, such as the permanent dismantlement of the nuclear facilities in Yeongbyeon, as the United States takes corresponding measures in accordance with the spirit of the June 12 US-DPRK Joint Statement.

③ The two sides agreed to cooperate closely in the process of pursuing complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Turning the Korean Peninsula into an “island of peace” which is free from nuclear weapons is a laudable goal. The dismantling of a missile site is one thing, but the fact that thee DPRK is willing to permanently destroy its nuclear facilities in Yeongbyeon is a powerful concession. It is in the court of the U$ to see if they will take “corresponding measures” or maintain their current adamant position of imperialist arrogance. With the U$ (from the mouth of Pompeo) saying that it wants to complete denuclearization by January 2021, this leaves open the possibility of detente at a time, possibly with a second meeting with the orange menace. However, this is complicated by the fact that the orange menace may tell the UN Security Council next week that countries should crackdown on Iran (where there are ruminations of new negotiated nuclear and missile treaty, even in The Daily Beast), among other countries which reportedly violate UN “decrees against nuclear proliferation” as USA Today recently stated. And no, Pompeo, the U$ is not “most generous nation in the world” as you so recently declared, but is rather a bringer of global death, destruction, and unmitigated chaos as bloody imperialists!

This also connects to another article in the Global Times, focusing on Pyongyang specifically, noting that the DPRK “draws Chinese people’s curiosity by reminding them of the old days” but that is apparently changing, as part of an eight-day trip there. Specifically, they describe a Ragwon Department Store selling Panasonic 60-inch LCD TVs and “Merries baby diapers,” which they say was not crowded, adding that the country’s  exchange rate is not the same for those living in the DPRK and foreigners. They also say that “food consumption prices in Pyongyang are almost the same as that in Beijing, even a little higher,” noting that electric appliances have similar price, and that since 2004 it has been decreed that “foreign cash” cannot be circulated in the DPRK but must be exchanged for won “at appointed locations.” The article goes onto say that “on the streets of Pyongyang, you can see 1960s trucks along with the latest Land Rover. Citizens talk on mobile phones under the slogans and posters…even though the country might be known for conservative people, poverty and low levels of education, there are expensive restaurants and the city is extremely clean.” Clearly, they have some perceptions of the country before even going in. After a 54-year-old worker at the Kim Jong-suk Silk Mill told Global Times that those in the DPRK “are not like those capitalist countries, in which people cannot live without money,” the article goes onto describe a “vegetable farm in the Sadong district of Pyongyang…feeding the capital city with vegetables,” with 70% of their production purchased by the government and 30% distributed to farmers. The head of the farm was quoted as saying that “in 2017 the average income was 800,000 to 900,000 won. We don’t have many places to spend money, because the medical care is free, school is free and even the housing is free. So we only use the money to buy some necessities.” The article goes onto talk about the “country’s strong urge to modernize” and notes that DPRK officials never mention “reform and opening-up,” but says that “North Korea has become more relaxed and friendly than before…Anti-US books and posters are disappearing,” and  that “a wealth imbalance still exists in the country.” Whether the latter is true or not, it is clear that the DPRK is likely to move in the direction of China with its “opening up” but it is doing it slowly at its own pace.

6. Chairman Kim Jong-un agreed to visit Seoul at an early date at the invitation of President Moon Jae-in.

Like other parts of the agreement, this promise to visit Seoul shortly, which no leader of the DPRK has ever engaged in, is something Fred Kaplan of Slate called “not unlike Nixon’s sit-down with Mao.” With this, it is no surprise that Kim is becoming more and more popular in the South as a result of rapprochement, showing that Koreans are more ready for peace than ever before. Additionally, it is not a stretch of the imagination that Kim would say that “it’s not too much to say that it’s Moon’s efforts that arranged a historic North Korea-U.S. summit. Because of that, the regional political situation has been stabilized and more progress on North Korea-U.S. ties is expected.” While detente between the U$ and DPRK would be the start of ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula, loosening the claws of U$ imperialism around the DPRK, it brings with it dangers.

Recently, Pompeo, in an interview with Laura Ingraham, said that he was “we’re making the progress that we need” on the DPRK nuclear negotiations but also said something far more revealing: he said that Russia has been “aggressive” toward the U$ and that it needs to be pushed back and restrained, but in the long term: “if you’re looking at the things that threaten American livelihoods, that put America truly at risk of its continued economic growth, China…presents the far greater threat to the United States.” This is the grand strategy of the current U$ imperial administration, which some have talked about before in alternative media: focus efforts against China, perhaps trying to pull China and Russia apart, turning them against each other. So far, this has not been successful, but since Russia is not some valiant anti-imperialist state, but rather a nationalist one with a capitalist economy and a vibrant bourgeoisie (which some call “oligarchs” without applying the same label to the U$), it is possible to see it pulling back from commitments in Syria, and possibly other states as well as evident from its weak response to the recent Zionist aggression in Syria. Let us not forget that China and Russia have voted for 20 U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions focused on the DPRK since they began in July 2006. They have made no effort to even vote against these measures, despite the fact they have permanent veto powers. This shows that neither the Chinese or Russian states are friends of the Korean people since the UN sanctions (coupled with the unilateral ones of the U$) have caused untold hardship for the people of the DPRK and held back the country’s development, which could have allowed it to have more expanded cell phone and internet service by this point. The same is the case with Cuba, where the financial blockade as imports of technology are restricted, also stunting its development.

In the end, while we should remain critical, especially of the prominent entrance of capitalists from the ROK, and possibly those from other elements of the imperial core, along with increased numbers from China, this is a process which is up to Koreans themselves, who have a right to determine their own destiny.


Notes

[1] Take long-time Slate columnist Fred Kaplan who grumbled that there weren’t enough concessions from Kim, with the declaration between Kim and Moon demands “a certain amount of denuclearization on the part of the United States.” After asking a former Bush National Security Adviser for his thoughts, he paints the orange menace as dumb and uninformed, declaring that the declaration between the Moon and Kim sets the terms for the “surrender” of the U$, showing his imperialist mindset. Alex Ward of Vox, a liberal cesspool, declare that the agreement was “extremely vague,” will be “bad” for the U$, call Kim a “dictator” (normal-speak in such media), review the agreement made between Moon and Kim, and declaring that the summit could “potentially weaken US-South Korea ties in the future,” acting like this somehow bad even though it isn’t. The same is the case in a video by The Guardian, which prominently features right-wing, anti-DPRK forces in the Republic of Korea, calls Kim a “dictator,” while declaring that the country is poverty-striken and people “repressed.” The Associated Press fell in line, claiming that the Kim-Moon “joint statement appeared to fall short of the major steps many in Washington have been looking for,” and a “propaganda set piece” in a second story which quotes many anti-DPRK experts, verging on calling the DPRK racist! At the same time, the LA Times, said in what an uninformed reader would think is “fact”: that the DPRK “has been brought to the negotiating table by crippling U.N. sanctions” which clearly denies that these sanctions are murderous against the Korean people and the New York Times seemed concerned that Kim’s “commitments fell far short of what American officials have demanded,” seeming concerned it “unclear what else he [Kim] may demand” of the U$, seeming to miss that the imperialists are demanding the surrender of the DPRK to the U$ imperialists without offering much in return. However, Kevin Drum of Mother Jones even said that “modest progress” was made, while CBC said that the meeting between Kim and Moon has “accompanied by real progress at the negotiating table” and Qatar-based Al Jazeera, which often blasts terroristic messages to the world, was also optimistic. It is funny that the New York Times would say this because Fred Kaplan of Slate seemed to have a clear idea of Kim’s goals: “a relaxation of tensions, investment in his impoverished country (including the suspension of sanctions), a withdrawal of U.S. military forces from the peninsula (which is what he ultimately means by an end to America’s “hostile policy”), and the splintering of the U.S.-South Korean alliance—all, preferably, at no cost to his regime.” While this is phrased in a way that is Orientalist and imperialist, this is a better recognition of the goals of Kim than the New York Times! This paragraph derives from the following sources: Fred Kaplan, “Close, but No Denuclearization,” Slate, Sept 19, 2018; Alex Ward, “North and South Korea just signed a major agreement. It may be bad news for Trump,” Vox, Sept 19, 2018; GuardianNews, “Why are Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in’s hugs controversial?,” YouTube, Sept 19, 2018; Associated Press, “Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if U.S. takes steps too,” Politico, Sept 19, 2018; Jonathan Gatehouse, “Progress at Korea peace talks overshadowed by gloom facing both leaders back home,”CBC, Sept 19, 2018; Robyn Dixon, “U.S. praises North Korea’s offer to shutter missile site and extends invitation for more high-level diplomatic talks,” LA Times, Sept 19, 2018; Foster Klug, “Summit may be the grand theater Kim needs to show his people,” Associated Press, Sept 19, 2018; Kevin Drum, “North and South Korea Make Modest Progress in Latest Talks,” Mother Jones, Sept 19, 2018; Chae Sang-Hun and David E. Sanger, “North Korea’s New Nuclear Promises Fall Short of U.S. Demands,” New York Times, Sept 19, 2018; “North Korea’s Kim agrees to ‘dismantle’ key missile test sites,” Al Jazeera, Sept 19, 2018.

[2] There is even a website for the summit hosted by the ROK, schedule of Moon‘s day 1 and day 2 in Pyongyang, motorcade through Pyongyang, Moon departing for Pyongyang, results of inter-Korean talks, instructions for envoys going to Pyongyang, and other briefings, along with other information, here, here, and here. The agreement does not seem to be posted on any English sites of official DPRK media, like KCNA or Rodong Sinmun. Perhaps it is posted in Korean.

[3] Mary Louise Kelly,  “What It Looks Like Inside A Classroom In North Korea,” NPR, Sept 20, 2018; Mary Louise Kelly, “101 Ways To Thwart A Reporter In Pyongyang,” NPR, Sept 21, 2018; Lucy Managan, “Michael Palin in North Korea review – a soothing look at a despotic regime,” The Guardian, Sept 21, 2018. Links for the NPR articles are retained here only because it is an example of their orientalist mindsets, and because the second NPR article has photographs.

[4] Alistair Coleman, “North Korea claims NHS and Sony hack suspect ‘doesn’t exist’,” BBC News, Sept. 14, 2018.

[5] Elle Hunt, “Kim Jong-un all fingers and thumbs in bid for Instagram diplomacy,” The Guardian, Sept 21, 2018.

Mnangagwa’s “victory” benefits Zimbabwe bourgeoisie, spells doom for proletariat

Reprinted from anti-imperialism.org. Some things have changed since this was published and I am currently keeping a close eye on developments in Zimbabwe. This article was revised, with an eye to self-criticism, on August 22, 2019.

Recently, the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe deemed Emmerson Mnangagwa of the Zanu-PF the official winner of the county’s July 30th elections, by a small margin, garnering 50.8% to 44.3% gained by Nelson Chamisa of the MDC, a party long backed by Western capitalists since its formation in 1999. As one would expect, Chamisa declared that the election itself was illegitimate. Chamisa, after this decision was made, was told to accept defeat. Some, like Jonathan Moyo, who could be said to be a stalwart Robert Mugabe supporter, have followed suit, declaring on his freewheeling Twitter account the election to be stolen, and supporting the position of Chamisa, going so far as to say that there is an “imperial executive presidency” in place. Apart from Moyo’s antics, this “victory” for Mnangagwa is not good for the Zimbabwean proletariat. As I noted in my last article on the subject [also reposted on this blog], the Zanu-PF and MDC had political platforms that were relatively similar, with the victory of either party benefiting “the hungry Western bourgeoisie while hurting the Zimbabwean proletariat,” adding that not only did Chamisa prematurely declare victory but the Zimbabwean police engaged in an effort of control against MDC protesters. Furthermore, 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. The county is caught in the “conflict between Chinese and U$ capitalists” as I wrote before, arguing that Mnangagwa “would try to balance the capitalists from each country” with the Chinese wanting “more integration of the global capitalist system.”

A few days ago, Gregory Elich, an anti-imperialist writer, wrote an article titled “Zimbabwe on the Path to Neoliberal Ruin” which talks about the recent developments in Zimbabwe. In the article he noted that with the defeat of the MDC’s court challenge, the results of last years coup have been cemented, noting that apart from the question of electoral fraud, “the very basis for the election was illegitimate, as Mnangagwa would never have been a candidate in the first place had it not been for the military coup.” Even one director of HRW in Southern Africa, Dewa Mavhinga, admitted that the chief justice of Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court, Luke Malaba, “ruled that Robert Mugabe voluntarily resigned & @edmnangagwa lawfully took over. He did not seek primary evidence to ask Mugabe to say whether he voluntarily step down or was forced out.” As such, Mugabe, who recently congratulated Mnangagwa but declared he would not support him in the election rather throwing his support to the MDC, recognized this when he called it an unquestioned coup. As for Elich, he also noted that after the outbreak of violence aimed at the MDC, the U$ State Department basically called “upon the MDC to accept defeat with graciousness” which they never would have done if Mugabe was President, adding the similarity between the party platforms of the MDC and Zanu-PF, further saying that “there were certain advantages to be gained from a victory by the ruling ZANU-PF” since Mnangagwa is “better situated to garner sufficient legislative backing to enact neoliberal measures, whereas ZANU-PF parliamentarians might prove more resistant to Chamisa’s efforts to pass the same type of proposals.” He concluded by talking about U$ and European worries about there not being “peaceful stability” in the county before investing, but that “if tensions settle, the future looks bright for Western corporations wishing to invest in Zimbabwe…Mnangagwa sees the way out as surrendering much of his nation’s sovereignty and redirecting the economy to serve the interests of Western capital.” The latter would happen, he writes, by engaging in privatization, opening the economy more to the West which began with limiting the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act. This law is an “official affirmative action programme,” begun in 2008, that is conducted by the Zimbabwean government “in order to right historical inequalities between the races in Zimbabwe,” and it stipulates “that foreign investors could own no more than 49 percent of businesses in various sectors.” The current Zimbabwean government limited it to only diamond and platinum mining! They also have restructured the economy with the help of Western capitalists, perhaps chipping away at the vaunted land reform program as well. Elrich ends by noting that the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is worried by recent developments, the current junta ruling the country will “resort to violence to ensure that they continue to rule” and that there is currently “no significant political force on the scene that is philosophically inclined to steer the nation away from the shoals of neoliberal demolition.” This seems evident despite claims of legitimate resistance. It is worth noting that the ZCTU seems to have allied itself with the opposition, with the late Morgan Tsvangirai a former secretary and the fact that they were a major force against the ESAP (Economic Structural Adjustment Programme) adopted by the Zanu-PF government and implemented from 1991 to 1995, leading to the formation of the MDC in 1999. Their moderate efforts are only aimed at certain individuals in the government, which is coupled with social-democratic, if you can call it that, objectives of a “powerful, effective, democratic independent and united trade union movement in Zimbabwe,” gaining “trade union rights and privileges,” protecting and defending workers, advancing “educational, political and economic knowledge,” opposing “splinter trade unions,” act as a channel of communication for laborers, cooperating “wherever possible with Government, cooperatives, progressive organizations and any employers’ organization” and claiming they represent the Zimbabwean proletariat. Is it any surprise then that the U$ government, under the auspices of NED’s “Solidarity Center,” pumped over $2 million into the Zimbabwean labor movement from 2014 to 2017, more than half of which went to support the ZCTU?

Elich is on the right track but does not fully get the picture. There have been efforts seemingly to break up state companies, court White farmers who were evicted and replaced with Black farmers as part of the land redistribution program begun in the 1990s, going after Mugabe’s properties, and threats by the Zanu-PF to raise presidential term limits to reduce any future Nelson Chamisas. [1] Western capitalists are glad to see this new opportunity. Already, before the election, Mnangagwa met with the U$ ambassador and later with a top German economic adviser after the election. Apart from calls to remove bond notes to “kickstart” the economy, Zimbabwe may begin to resemble Kenya, where the President there, Uhuru Kenyatta, “called for the establishment of a new framework of cooperation with Britain as it exits from the European Union early next year,” saying that Kenya and UK imperialists need an even stronger relationship! With this incoming neocolonialism, which some strangely qualify as “commercial colonialism,” the British are right out in front. Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the UK, recently hailed Mnangagwa and his “commission of inquiry into the violence that rocked Harare on August 1,” declaring that what is happening now is “an opportunity for Zimbabwe…I look forward to Zimbabwe being able to grasp this opportunity for the future,” adding that the commission “is a very important signal from him about the Zimbabwe he wants to see for the future, and the Zimbabwe that is taking opportunities for the future of its people.” This is a major indicator that the British capitalists are ready to expand their roots into Zimbabwe once more. Around the same time, the Germans pledged to “open lines of credit for Zimbabwe and deepen bilateral relations,” discussing issues of farmers compensation with them as well. With these German and UK capitalists salivating and wanting to return to the “untapped” market of Zimbabwe, let us not forget about the land program that is being chipped away more and more. The bigoted tabloid, The Daily Mail, of all places, admitted back in 2011 that prior to the introduction of the Zimbabwean policy where white-owned farms were seized and handed over to black workers, “whites controlled about 70 per cent of Zimbabwe’s arable land despite making up less than 1 per cent of the country’s population.” That is a situation these capitalists want to return to, to dominate the political scene once again.

With the governments of Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, and DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) all praising Mnangagwa, a number of whom were outspoken against Mugabe, it is clear that the neoliberalism that the current Zimbabwe government embodies is not unique to itself. Lest we forget that Mnangagwa is a person who “humbly request[s]” bankers to help make the country’s economy grow,  is about as weak as it can get. Even with this pandering to the West, there may still be some Western hostility, possibly embodied by the U$ since it has not made such offers to Zimbabwe that mirror those of the UK and Germany, yet. One Reuters article acknowledged this, noting remarks by Mnangagwa spokesperson George Charamba, and adding that “as Zimbabwe became increasing isolated under Mugabe, it turned to China to help prop up its economy,” and noting that “Zimbabwe had good relations with southern African governments and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) states.” [2] Additionally, the Washington Post editorial board blared on August 31, in a hideous rant titled “How Zimbabwe missed its chance for change” that: “Mr. Mnangagwa has lost an important opportunity to pull Zimbabwe back from economic and political destitution, where it was left at the conclusion of Robert Mugabe’s long misrule. The country deserves better, much better. Mr. Mnangagwa raised hopes when he took power last November after Mr. Mugabe…was removed from power…The election to succeed Mr. Mugabe was also different…These are the real stakes: whether Zimbabwe can cast off the burdensome legacy of Mr. Mugabe’s 37 years at the helm. Systemic change is extremely difficult. But without it, the country will remain mired in economic and political misery.” This is utter absurdity, showing not only the utter racism of the Washington Post but their imperialist outlook which paints Mnangagwa, despite his dedication to neoliberalism, as “not good enough”! All of this is connected to a recent story about reported deployment of a “new generation of surface-to-air missiles (SAM)” by the Chinese in the country. Whether true or not, the fact is that the Chinese are fully willing to have economic relations with Zimbabwe despite the fact that the country is ruled by a government led by those installed in a military coup, reinforced by the recent election, whether it was legal or not.

With this, I am reminded of a recent article by Amber B. about rising imperialists and the ongoing power of U$ imperialism. She wrote that there is “a high-tide of inter-imperialist tension and rivalry over control in strategic political and economic areas throughout the Third World,” and noted, specifically about China, that like Russia to which the U$ sees as a “threat to its survival,” it is a “power capable of dislodging amerikan imperialist hegemony from strategic markets.” In the case of Zimbabwe this may be the case, with China, which promotes Western companies building products in their country, Africans working for Chinese companies, new Chinese-built projects in Africa, and strengthened ties with varied African leaders, to give a few recent examples. There is also the annual (and upcoming) Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit which will be held in Beijing from September 3 to 4. There is a direct connection to this gathering, in the case of Zimbabwe. Around the same time, the Zimbabwean party paper, The Herald, quoted Mnangagwa as declaring that “policies in the past were constraining economic development” and that there need to be efforts to “improve the environment in the economic sphere” including limiting the indigenisation law, which he grumbled was “constraining the flow of capital in the economy,” adding that “we have done a lot in removing the archaic legislation that was constraining economic growth in our country…everyday we are improving our competitiveness in the region and internationally in terms of attracting investment into the country.” The same article noted that he was expected to hold bilateral discussions with President Xi Jinping, and said that China has committed itself “to ushering in a new blueprint to explore opportunities for future mutual development, and to contribute to promoting world peace, stability and the development of Africa and China” as they described it, of course. This was echoed in the South China Morning Post which added that, at this summit, “China has doubled its financial aid and investment pledges to Africa…Xi said the financing would be in the form of government help as well as investment and funding by institutions and companies…Xi also announced that China would waive the debt of the poorest African countries that have diplomatic ties with Beijing.” The article also noted that while many have been concerned that China’s growing presence in Africa may lead countries to “struggle to repay the Chinese debt used to build expensive infrastructure projects,” Xi defended the belt and road plan, declaring that “China was not pursuing “political self-interest” in its investments in Africa.” It was also noted that “Chinese companies were also encouraged to make at least US$10 billion in investment in Africa in the next three years, Xi said…Africa is growing in strategic importance for China, with the People’s Liberation Army opening its first overseas naval base in Djibouti last year. Xi said China would set up a China-Africa peace and security fund and continue providing free military aid to the African Union…Cheng Cheng, a researcher at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University, said Africa’s growing population and expanding middle class made it a huge market for Chinese exports.” Basically, this means that China is aiming for a market across the continent for its products and more places that Chinese capitalists can “safely” put their capital, just one feature of them as a social-imperialist power. At the same time, the Chinese are strongly opposing trade protectionism and “anti-globalization” so you will not see them waving the red flag, standing in solidarity with the global proletariat. Rather, you will see profit-driven SOEs (State-Owned Enterprises) expanding abroad, giving more of a foothold to China’s version of capitalism than previously.

China’s form of social-imperialism, involving good relations with Japanese capitalists, as Amber B. describes it in her article, needs further study. It involves countering Chinese media narratives that “debunk” Western media narratives while posing China as knights in shining armor with a peace offering. I wrote about revisionist China in a two-part series for my subreddit, rwcc (Revisionism with Chinese Characteristics), trying to counter revisionist narratives and show the reality of the country. While saying this, I agree with Amber B. that we must take provocations between China, Russia, and the U$ seriously, as this is “the reality of inter-imperialist conflict in the era of moribund capitalism-imperialism,” with our tasks to oppose escalation, “carry out Lenin’s program of revolutionary defeatism” and to count on comrades across the world, as U$ imperialism fades, to “thwart the rise of their “own” expansionist and imperialist states” whether they are Russia, China, or another emerging power, with the main responsibility to “turn struggle inward, and to confront the threat of imperialist world war with revolutionary war.” As I said in my previous article, it is clear that not only are hard times ahead for the Zimbabwean proletariat. The turning point for Zimbabwe is over and it has not turned out well for the Zimbabwean proletariat. As Ahmed Sékou Touré, the long-time president of Guinea who seemed to soften up on the West starting in the 1970s, said in 1962, “the relation between the degree of destitution of peoples of Africa and the length and nature of the exploitation they had to endure is evident. Africa remains marked by the crimes of the slave-traders: up to now, her potentialities are restricted by under-population.” [3] The latter is the case for Zimbabwe. As such, it, along with a correct analysis of the current geopolitical atmosphere rooted in revolutionary theory should be the basis of our understanding of the world, allowing us to stand with the proletariat oppressed across the world and against the concentrations of imperialist power.


Notes

[1]  Siobhan Heanue, “New Zimbabwe Government courts white farmers ejected by Mugabe,” ABC (AU), Aug 30, 2018.

[2] Joe Brock, “Zimbabwe says ‘hostility of the West’ putting off renewed investment,” Reuters, Aug 21, 2018.

[3] Quoted by Walter Rodney on page 95 of his book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, which derives from a 1958 book of his speeches published by S.O.P. Press and his Toure’s 1963 book, The Doctrine and Methods of the Democratic Party of Guinea.