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.

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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.

 

Systemic Dolackian Disorder: U$ imperialism and the Kurdish dilemma

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

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

Dolack’s comment #1:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #2:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #3:

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

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

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

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

Dolack’s comment #4:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #5:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #6:

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

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

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

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

Dolack’s comment #7:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dolack’s comment #8:

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

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

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

Dolack’s comment #9:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #10:

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

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

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

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

Dolack’s comment #11:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #12:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #13:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #14:

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

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

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

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

Dolack’s comment #15:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #16:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #17:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #18:

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

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

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

Dolack’s comment #19:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #20:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #21:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #22:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #23:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #24:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #25:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #26:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #27:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #28:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #29:

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

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

Dolack’s comment #30:

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

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

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


Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

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

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

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

Last year, there were many wonderful accomplishments.

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

[teleprompter explodes. Static]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of transmission.

[show restarts]

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


Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Social media giants, “free speech,” and the control of information

Note: The following article is reprinted from Dissident Voice. This is part 1 of an article series on there called “a “sudden bout of atypical decency”?” The senior editor there made me remove the words “the orange menace” because it was apparently “name-calling,” later adding that “with respect to name-calling, DV does not have a “policy”, per se.  Over the years we’ve tended to avoid the most offensive….On reflection I was being a tad picky, sorry…With respect to Donald Trump, regardless of what people think of him, he won the election and is the President of the United States.  He ought to be referred to as such. (And certainly he’s been called a lot worse than the orange menace!)”  In a later communication I said that “yes, legally you can say Trump won the election, I will grant you that” although the Electoral College muddies the idea of “winning.” Anyway, I replaced the term “orange menace” with the words “the current sitting US President” as I refuse to use his name. I removed the whole first footnote I had put together, preserved in this version, writing instead: “There were many articles on this subject, so it is hard to pick just a few, but I would say that the articles on Boing Boing, Washington Post, The Verge, New York Times, Washington Examiner,  Reason.com, The American Conservative, and Rolling Stone were most informative on this subject. For those that want he full list of sources I used to make this determination, you are free to email me, and I will send you the list of sources I’m talking about here.”I also had to cut down the 2nd footnote to the first two sentences, used here, but the whole footnote is reprinted here. I also had to edit down footnote 4 for Dissident Voice, but I have included the whole footnote here. I added in some editing of content of my own into this version of the article as well, as the original version I submitted has some errors. Still, I publish here the copy of the article with bolded words I was pressured to remove. I have since learned that David Zurawik is apparently the Sun’s only media critic. I still stand by calling him an “oft” critic, however, as he does write about this subject often.

Recently, there has been much talk about “free speech” in light of Alex Jones’s Infowars being cast out in a seemingly organized campaign of censorship by social media platforms, such as YouTube, Spotify, Pinterest, Facebook, and Apple, which some called “the great de-platforming of Alex Jones.” Unsurprisingly, Jones has decried it as “censorship” and abridging his “free speech.” Those who support such actions of these platforms include liberal Amanda Marcotte of Salon who said that it was a “sudden bout of atypical decency and common sense” in fighting against “disinformation” and Mike Snider of USA Today noting that “free speech is a principle that businesses often choose to follow, but aren’t bound to.” [1]

Similarly, Christine Emba blares in the Washington (Amazon) Post that the social media companies were within their rights and did “nothing wrong,” as they are not obliged to “host your speech on their platforms…[or] promote your content” and The Economist, a magazine that represents the interests of the British bourgeoisie, declaring that these companies are “not the state,” meaning they are able to “write their terms of service as they wish and police posts as they choose.” Following in suit was Hartford University Professor Adam Chiara, who declared that “tech companies are private…they have the right to decide what content goes on their platforms…social media platforms own the access to his [Jones’s] audience, and they have every legal and moral right to cancel it.” Also, T.C. Sottek of The Verge wrote that InfoWars was hypocritical because it still claims the right to purge “objectionable” content from their website, Kevin Drum of Mother Jones writing that “…if no one else on the planet feels like giving him [Alex Jones] a soapbox to extract money from gullible conspiracy theorists, that’s fine with me.”

Furthest in this viewpoint was David Zurawik, an oft media critic for the Baltimore Sun, who openly applauded the action against Jones: “finally, the giants of digital media are showing some social responsibility…It is long overdue…it is a step in the right direction…Here’s hoping the crackdowns continue.” Even the libertarians of Reason.com jumped on board, while they expressed some reservations about selectively “policing” harmful speech and claimed that conservatives “need to worry,” arguing that “private companies are under no obligation to provide a platform” to those like Jones and that “Facebook, YouTube, and other media…have a right to dictate the contours of permissible speech on their sites and to enforce those standards…No one seriously disputes this…There’s no God-given right to be on Facebook or Twitter.” Even some in the ACLU seemed to accept the power of these social media platforms, only asking for transparency and “protections…against misuse” with nothing much more.

On the other side was Cory Doctrow, co-editor of Boing Boing, who argued that the “online world has almost no public spaces…and a tiny handful of incredibly large, powerful companies control the vast majority of our civic discourse online,” with Harvey Silvergate of NY Daily News adding that “when the haters are allowed to expose themselves through their words, we are all safer for knowing who they are and who, over time, they morph into,” saying the current debate over the actions against Jones is really “about what it means for our society if a few tech companies should be able to decide for everyone what information is available.” At the same time, Black Agenda Report’s Margaret Kimberley quipped that “there is no reason for anyone on the left to cheer Jones being censored. The move against him will be used to defend further censoring of left wing voices…His absence helps no one except the intelligence apparatus.”

Even, Matt Taibbi, a piece of bourgeois trash for other reasons (like not supporting reproductive rights while smearing Venezuela and Karl Marx), wrote in Rolling Stone that there is a “union of Internet platforms and would-be government censors” and that “the sheer market power of these companies over information flow has always been the real threat. This is why breaking them up should have long ago become an urgent national priority” while admitting that “there was no First Amendment issue with the Jones ban.” Beyond the views of The Economist, Reason.com, some ACLU members, Marcotte, Snider, Emba, Chiara, Sottek, Drum, Sottek, Zurawik, Doctrow, Silvergate, Kimberley, and Taibbi, many others expressed their views on the actions against Jones, a number of whom worried about “free speech” and power of these social media platforms over people’s lives. [2]

Taking all the views mentioned in the last paragraph into consideration, we don’t need number of Loyola University academics or David Pozen of Columbia Law School to tell us that social media has become an important “one stop shop” for many, allowing the internal rules, a form of private regulations, of these platforms to shape the existing public discourse. Undoubtedly, huge social media giants, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Pinterest, Instagram (owned by Facebook), and Tumblr (owned by Yahoo), have control of vast amounts of information. [3] Amazon has a related role with its web services controlling “roughly 40 percent of the cloud market, running the backend for Netflix, Pinterest, Slack and dozens of other services with no visible connection to the company,” showing the reach of their “server empire.”

Additionally, a recent study by Gallup showed that the populace of the U$ not only opposes news personalized toward them, but the role of the companies as gatekeepers of content, with companies having to disclose why they have selected certain content for users. However, these companies, legally, have the right to determine the speech that is allowed on their sites. As such, Ron Jacobs, a writer for CounterPunch, is right: while the action against Jones “may effect the ability of leftist and anarchist groups and individuals to provide content and share events on these corporate platforms” it isn’t right to support “those liberals and leftists who think they need to defend Alex Jones” since the latter should not “have unfettered access to spout his outright lies and hate,” and, I might add, those on the Left are under no obligation to protect the speech of bigots, war criminals, or otherwise detestable people. Jacobs concludes, correctly, by saying that “free speech will be further limited to those who can afford to pay for it…[with] propagandists funded by wealthy…millionaires and billionaires…strengthen[ing] their control over the so-called free press,” meaning that we should let “Alex Jones fight his battles without our help.” Such societal dynamics mean that certain people have more privilege to speak than others.

Without a doubt the Left is on the chopping block, but this is due to Russiagate and efforts by social media giants to pander to the Right, which dominates the political scene in the U$. After all, when Twitter was in “hot water” since it had not fallen in line with other social media giants on efforts against Jones, its CEO, Jack Dorsey, did his first interview on the subject with right-wing loudmouth*, Sean Hannity! [4] While the social media network temporarily suspended Infowars for seven days, Alex Jones still continues to spout unflinching support for the orange menace* including anti-immigrant racism, anti-socialism, anti-vax nonsense, and harping on the “censorship” card, even tweeting cartoons of notoriously anti-Left cartoonist Ben Garrison* to support his “case.”

According to news reports, Jones made direct appeals to the orange menace* to make “censorship” a big issue in the upcoming election and deal with purported (by him) “Chinese infiltration” of the Democratic Party and tech industry. Such claims of censorship by Jones and others ring a bit hollow as the right-wing in the U$ has their ready propaganda network of video platforms, social media sites, and even dating apps! [5] Alex Jones can be promoted there, apart from his Twitter account which still has over 895,000 followers. So, he isn’t going anywhere.

When Senator Chris Murphy says that “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it” conservatives are not really the target despite Don Trump, Jr complaining about “Big Tech’s censorship campaign” is about “purging all conservative media,” and wacked out conspiracist David Icke decrying censorship.**

Sure, some fascists, apart from Jones, have been removed from social media, like the hideous Proud Boys or Milo Yiannopoulos (for harassing Black actress Leslie Jones), while some liberal groups like Media Matters, Share Blue, and American Bridge have called for social media platforms to take more action against the right-wing. [6] The conservative narrative of themselves as victims of social media censorship is only strengthened when those like Marcotte of Salon, quoted earlier in this article, say that journalists (and social media outlets) should serve as “gatekeepers” against conservatives!

Instead, it is the Left that is under attack by these outlets. Just look at the permanent removal of the Haiti Analysis on Facebook, the temporary de-publishing of TeleSur English‘s page on the same site, with the same happening to Venezuela Analysis, the takedown of an Occupy London page which had “pro-Palestinian posts,” censoring the alternative media outlet SouthFront out of existence, and Facebook’s deletion of pages which had up to 40 million followers, including a number of alternative media outlets. Yet another example is when an episode of Abby Martin’s The Empire Files (currently targeted by U$ sanctions on Venezuela) on YouTube, which highlighted military violence of Zionists, was “blocked…in 28 countries for supposedly violating “local laws,”” possibly due to the participation of the stalwart Zionist group, the Anti-Defamation League, in “YouTube’s flagging system” since the group “considers actions tied to Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment…and opposition to Israeli occupation as racism.” Also YouTube banned a video showing a boy murdered by Zionist soldiers, Google downranked and alternative website named Dandelion Salad, Facebook began ranking news sources by their “truthworthiness” with the help of establishment organizations, and social media giants meeting about “information operations” for the upcoming midterm elections in the U$. Google, Facebook, and Twitter are now even going after Iranians whom they declare are “government trolls,” another act of censorship. This isn’t surprising since Facebook is, as one should note, letting the Digital Forensics Lab of the Atlantic Council sort through content, leading to a further crackdown on the left.

Such an attack on the Left could possibly intensify for a number of reasons: if these social media companies adopt the Chinese or European models of net regulation, the former being easily accepted by more tech companies every day and if the U$ government is successful in forcing Facebook to help break the end-to-end encryption of their voice calls in messenger in order to supposedly fight the MS-13 gang. [7]  Twitter’s policy of ranking tweets and search results in an effort to downgrade those they deem “bad faith actors,” like the Russians perhaps, “who intend to manipulate or detract from healthy conversation,” and the uneven moderating on Facebook doesn’t help matters. The same applies to the removal of accounts by Twitter following the indictments of 12 Russians by Robert Mueller and an effort to target so-called “fake” accounts, and Reddit removing 944 “suspicious” accounts which they claimed were tied to the Russians even though they had little impact.

Most worrisome is YouTube working with establishment media organizations to promote “quality journalism” with breaking news highlighting videos from CBS, Fox News, the New York Times, and CNN, to go by their examples, while YouTube is also showing information from “third parties” (so-called “information cues”) from sites such as Encyclopaedia Brittanica and Wikipedia on “a small number of well-established historical and scientific topics that have often been subject to misinformation” or those that are the “center of debate.” The latter effort by YouTube to link to Wikipedia, which wasn’t informed about the initiative beforehand and expressed their concerns about content scraping, to counter “misinformation” and define certain media outlets is uneven.

Looking at Wikipedia links on the videos of the Channel News Asia, TeleSur, TeleSur English, RT, SABC Digital News, and Al Jazeera, they are all described as “funded” by specific governments. However, for BBC, it is only called a “British broadcast service,” not that it is directly funded by the British government! Additionally, videos on the CNN, Bloomberg, ABC News, Vice News, Vox, Fox News, MSNBC, Washington Post, National Geographic, and The Guardian channels have no links to third-party websites even though they are funded and owned by corporate entities! Hence, this effort by YouTube will, without a doubt, disadvantage outlets like TeleSur and RT, which buck the general narrative of the corporate media, as it will assist in imperialist propaganda about those outlets.

And no, YouTube, TeleSur is not funded by “the Latin American government” as it says below every single video from their two channels (TeleSur and TeleSur English), a racist conception that denies the reality in the region, as this news organization is funded jointly by the Cuban, Bolivian, Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, and Uruguayan governments.

Such actions by YouTube and many other major social media platforms are led in part by what Hiroyuki Hamada rightly called the “Putin panic, an epidemic spewing hatred against anything Russian” while ignoring that “Russia was subjected to political and economic intervention by the US in the 90s” with the U$ backing Boris Yeltsin who helped rip apart the country’s social fabric.

Currently, the U$ is waiting for “Russia to jump on its Pearl Harbor or a 9/11,” with such a panic being an “obvious scheme of imperialism” leading to war. As such, as he rightly notes, “we must not be a voice for the capitalist lords nor for the hitmen…we must reach out to people like us in Russia, China, Syria, Iran, and other peoples of the planet, and people like us in our communities, with messages of peace, sharing and mutual respect.” As such, not only should there should be support for those on the Left who have been censored on these social media platforms but there should be local and international connections in the way that Hamada describes, in order to counter the general narrative spread in capitalist societies.


Notes

*In the Dissident Voice version I changed this sentence to read after the word “with” to say: “Sean Hannity, who can accurately be described as a right-wing loud-mouth” after I was told to not use the word “orange menace.” I also changed the last sentence to read, after the word “cartoons” to: “drawn by Ben Garrison, whose drawings notoriously smear the Left”

**The Dissident Voice editor was weirdly puzzled by this one, and I agreed to the change, which broke it into two sentences, actually weakening my original point, looking back (so perhaps that change was a mistake)!: “Recently, Senator Chris Murphy infamously wrote on Twitter that “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.” Despite Don Trump, Jr complaining about “Big Tech’s censorship campaign” is about “purging all conservative media,” and conspiracist David Icke decrying censorship, conservatives are not really the target of these proposed measures.”

[1] Amanda Marcotte, “How did Alex Jones become possible? Because we tolerated “lesser” lies for too long,” Salon, Aug 9, 2018; Cory Doctrow, “Inside the triumphant Alex Jones banned everywhere story is a worrying nuance about free speech and platform dominance,” Boing Boing, Aug 8, 2018; Mike Snider, “Why Facebook can stop Infowars and not break the First Amendment,” USA Today, Aug 9, 2018; Christine Emba, “Farewell, Infowars. You won’t be missed,” Washington Post (opinion), Aug 8, 2018; Harvey Silvergate, “Alex Jones belongs in the light,” NY Daily News, Aug 8, 2018; Michelle Lou, “Facebook Removes Alex Jones And InfoWars Pages,” Huff Post, Aug 6, 2018; Adam Chiara, “Tech giants are right to purge Alex Jones from platforms,” The Hill, Aug 7, 2018; T.C. Sottek, “Infowars passionately defends the right to censor Infowars,” The Verge, Aug 7, 2018; Lydia O’Connor, “Twitter CEO Gives Interview To Conspiracy Theorist About Refusing To Ban Conspiracy Theorists,” HuffPost, Aug 8, 2018; Valentina Palladino, “InfoWars app will stay in the iOS App Store—here’s Apple’s reason why,” Ars Technica, Aug 9, 2018; Will Sommer, “Hannity Praises Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for Not Caving to Liberals,” The Daily Beast, Aug 8, 2018; Molly Roberts, “Alex Jones loses his empire — but not because he’s a liar,” Washington Post, Aug 7, 2018; Sheera Frenkel, “Gatekeepers or Censors? How Tech Manages Online Speech,” New York Times, Aug 7, 2018; Kate Conger, “Gatekeepers or Censors? How Tech Manages Online Speech,” New York Times, Aug 7, 2018; Jack Nicas, “Gatekeepers or Censors? How Tech Manages Online Speech,” New York Times, Aug 7, 2018; Helen Holmes, “InfoWars Pinterest Is a Bizarre Clash of Form and Content,” Aug 7, 2018; Holly Scheer, “The InfoWars Bans Aren’t About Alex Jones, They’re About Big Tech’s Control Over What We See,” The Federalist, Aug 7, 2018; “Are Facebook and YouTube quasi-governmental actors?,” The Economist, Aug 7, 2018; Vivian Kane, “Alex Jones’ Supporters Still Don’t Understand What “Free Speech” Means,” Mary Sue, Aug 8, 2018; Itay Hod, “Alex Jones Is Running Out of Platforms to Boot Him: Add MailChimp to List,” The Wrap, Aug 7, 2018; Daniel Chaitlin, “WikiLeaks points to Democrats after InfoWars takedown, warns it could be ‘next’,” Washington Examiner, Aug 7, 2018; Shoshana Wodinsky, “Apple and Google haven’t banned Infowars apps, and their downloads are booming,” The Verge, Aug 7, 2018; Kevin Drum, “Net Neutrality and Alex Jones,” Mother Jones, Aug 7, 2018; Joseph Curl, “What suppressing Alex Jones really means,” Washington Times, Aug 7, 2018; Tim Hains, “Alex Jones to Donald Trump: You Need To Blow The Whistle On Chinese Communist Infiltration Of Silicon Valley, Democratic Party,” Real Clear Politics, Aug 7, 2018; Robby Soave, “Banning Alex Jones Isn’t About Free Speech—It’s About the Incoherence of ‘Hate Speech’,” Reason.com, Aug 7, 2018; David Zurawik, “Finally, digital giants showing some social responsibility,” Baltimore Sun, Aug 7, 2018; Stephany Bai, “The First Amendment and Social Media: The Rules Just Don’t Apply,” Teen Vogue, Dec 29, 2017; David Harsanyi, “Social Media Giants Shouldn’t Be Arbiters of Appropriate Speech,” Reason.com, Aug 10, 2018; Tyler Durden, “Free-Speech Monopoly – The Game Is Rigged,” Zero Hedge, Aug 11, 2018; Carry Welder, “Americans Are Begging the Government and Corporations to End Free Speech,” The AntiMedia, Aug 8, 2018; Peter Van Buren, “I Was Banned for Life From Twitter,” The American Conservative, Aug 9, 2018; Matt Taibbi, “Beware the Slippery Slope of Facebook Censorship,” Rolling Stone, Aug 2, 2018; Casey Newton, “How Alex Jones lost his info war,” The Verge, Aug 7, 2018.

[2] At the same time, left-leaning comedian, Jimmy Dore, posted many YouTube videos on the topic, with him and his guests rightly criticizing corporate control of social media, arguing that social media should be public utility, and defending (especially by Jimmy himself) the right of Alex Jones to speak, sticking to the free speech absolutist line, even defending the ACLU’s stance of defending the speech of horrid bigots. To the credit of Jimmy and his guests, they are right that Russiagate can be used to silence the Left, while criticizing U$ wars and the corporate press. Also, there was Caitlin Johnstone, who was temporarily banned from Twitter for calling for John McCain to “die already,” who decried what she described as the “coordinated corporate censorship of Alex Jones’ notorious Infowars franchise across multiple online platforms,” saying that “in a corporate system of government, corporate censorship is state censorship, and censorship is never a friend of the left,” and adding in another post that when InfoWars was banned, it was apparently “circulating a petition with tens of thousands of signatures calling on President Trump to pardon WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange.” There she reasserted that in the current system of government of the U$, “there is no meaningful separation between corporate power and state power,” meaning that “corporate censorship is state censorship” with ordinary people in the U$ having “no effective influence whatsoever” and that the Left is next on the chopping block. Some of those on the right-wing also expressed outrage, like Zero Hedge which talked about the power of such platforms, but then incorrectly claimed that this was due to the Left, further saying that conservatives are seen as the “enemy” while delving into conspiracies rooted in anti-Semitism of the Cold War era by groups like the John Birch Society and casting Jones as some warrior against elites rather than a right-wing propagandist even worse than the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs of the world. Sites like Zero Hedge are the ones who engage in racist language about China, I would even acknowledge as a person China’s capitalist road, which is not socialist as some assert.In a more moderate form was the words of Peter Van Buren, who was permanently banned from Twitter,apparently “shocked” that America was apparently becoming like Iran (not true), while adding that “corporations have always done as they please with speech” and complaining about the ACLU apparently not being as free speech absolutist as in the past, while commenting that “handing over free speech rights to an entity whose core purpose has nothing to do with free speech means it will inevitably quash ideas when they conflict with profits…Corporate censorship is at the cutting edge of a reality targeting both speakers…and listeners.” At the same time, Wikileaks also warned that it would be next in line if “political pressure can be used to censor publishers.”

[3] Some, like Reuters, define social media giants as only encompassing Facebook, YouTube (owned by Google), Twitter and Microsoft. But there are many more, as noted by LifeWire and DreamGrow, like LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram (owned by Facebook), Pinterest, Tumblr (owned by Yahoo!), Snapchat, Reddit (mainly owned by Advance Publications), Flickr (owned by SmugMug), Swarm (owned by Foursquare), Kik (owned by Kik interactive), Periscope (owned by Twitter), Medium (owned by A Medium Corporation), Soundcloud (owned by SoundCloud Limited), Tinder (owned by IAC (InterActiveCorp)), WhatsApp (owned by WhatsApp Inc.), Slack (owned by Slack Technologies), Musical.ly (owned by Tik Tok, Chinese company), Meetup (owned by WeWork), and Peach (“a tiny journaling service of Byte, Inc” according to their terms of use). Others, most of which are not for English speakers but for those of other languages, include Weibo (owned by Sina Corp), Ask.Fm (owned by Noosphere Ventures), VK (owned by Mail.Ru Group), Odnoklassniki (owned by Mail.Ru Group), and Qzone (owned by Tencent Holdings Limited). For more about Amazon’s Web Services, see Russell Brandom, “Using the internet without the Amazon Cloud,” The Verge, Jul 28, 2018.

[4] Also consider a recent post by the Twitter company saying that “while we welcome everyone to express themselves on our service, we prohibit targeted behavior that harasses, threatens, or uses fear to silence the voices of others” saying they have certain rules, policies and enforcement options in place for a safe environment, while working to “Twitter better for everyone” admitting they have a role to play in society and a “wider responsibility to foster and better serve a healthy public conversation.” As for Apple, which has avoided “content controversies that ensnare its peers,” it still offers the InfoWars mobile app in its App Store even after removing many of Jones’s podcasts, saying they support “all points of view being represented” in their online marketplace. Additionally, the App is still in the Google Play store as well! This has led to an increase in “popularity” of the App, but only because other avenues to see the content are unavailable, leading individuals to go to such places as an outlet. On a related note, it seems clear that “Google’s YouTube is probably the most explicit about what is and is not allowed” with published community guidelines, even though there is still room for interpretation. The above information is extracted from Daisuke Wakabayashi, “Gatekeepers or Censors? How Tech Manages Online Speech,” New York Times, Aug 7, 2018, Casey Newton, “Twitter’s fear of making hard decisions is killing it,” The Verge, Aug 17, 2018, and Avery Anapol, “Twitter CEO on decision not to ban Alex Jones: ‘He hasn’t violated our rules’,” The Hill, Aug 7, 2018 to name a few.

 

[5] Brandy Zadrozny, “Right-wing platforms provide refuge to digital outcasts — and Alex Jones,” NBC News, Aug 9, 2018. This article lists Mike Adams’s Real.Video (like YouTube), Andrew Torba’s Gab.ai (like Twitter), Codias (like Facebook), Conservapedia (like Wikipedia), Hatreon (like Patreon), TrumpSingles (like Tinder), and Rebel Media (like YouTube) as examples. And that’s not counting right-wing media sites like The Daily Caller, Drudge Report, Fox News, Newsmax, The Blaze, One America News Network, National Review, The American Conservative (more critical of U$ imperialism than other outlets), The American Spectator, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Daily Wire, Gateway Pundit, The Federalist, TownHall, Breitbart, Hot Air, Instapundit, and Red State, along with talk radio shows and various others!

[6] Jim Hoft, “Top Far Left Organizations Bragged About Working with Facebook and Twitter to Censor and Eliminate Conservative Content,” The Gateway Pundit, Aug 20, 2018; Rob Shimshock, “Twitter Suspends Libertarian Commentator Gavin McInnes And His Activist Group,” The Daily Caller, Aug 11, 2018; Keith Wagstaff, “Twitter suspends Proud Boys and Gavin McInnes,” Mashable, Aug 10, 2018. And, no, these are NOT “far left” organizations, that’s what Jim Hoft gets wrong, like many people on the Right, who think that liberal organizations are more left-leaning than they actually are in reality!

[7] Daniel Taylor, “Free Speech Under Fire: Globalists Bet On Chinese Dominating the Internet’s Future,” Old Thinker News, Aug 13, 2018; Xeni Jardin, “Feds ask court to force Facebook to break Messenger’s end-to-end voice encryption for MS-13 gang probe,” Boing Boing, Aug 17, 2018; Sam Haysom, “Undercover footage exposes Facebook moderators’ disturbing policies,” Mashable, Jul 18, 2018; Bruce Haring, “Twitter Account Purges Continue As Service Cuts Guccifer 2.0 And DCLeaks,” Deadline, Jul 14, 2018; April Glaser, “YouTube Is Adding Fact-Check Links for Videos on Topics That Inspire Conspiracy Theories,” Slate, Aug 14, 2018; Lucas Matney, “Reddit has banned 944 accounts linked to the IRA Russian troll farm,” TechCrunch, Apr 11, 2018.

The specter of DPRK-U$ detente and what it means for the world

Kim and the orange menace shake hands at the June 12th Singapore summit.

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

Last month, I wrote a criticism, on this very website [anti-imperialism.org], of the orange menace’s letter which canceled one-on-one talks with Kim Jong Un, the DPRK’s elected leader, whom has held the ceremonial title of “supreme leader,” and commander of the Korean People’s Army, since December 2011. [1] Since then, the letter has become old hat, with the one-on-one talks on June 12 at a hotel located on Singapore’s Sentosa Island. Perhaps, the letter from the orange menace was a warning shot across the bow, supposed to say who was in “control.” With the summit, Pence, Bolton, and others within the U$ government which didn’t want the summit, were marginalized. The giddy liberals, like Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson or former CIA director John Brennan were likely annoyed, as were those on news stations like MSNBC, unable to contain their hatred for the people of the DPRK, especially for Kim himself, calling him a “murderous dictator” who had “gulags” time and time again. As I wrote last month, “Kim and the DPRK have the upper hand here, not the imperialists, showing the DPRK are in a strong position, at an advantage.” As Amber B. recently wrote [on anti-imperialism.org], criticizing the left-opposition of the orange menace by groups such as the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and Refuse Fascism, instead of focusing on the orange menace, only a figurehead of the moment, as the primary enemy, it is better to “highlight the innumerable ways his administration works in perfect continuity with amerikan imperialism in general,” while understanding his peculiarities, but not giving them primary importance. With this, the following article aims to highlight the anger from sectors of the bourgeoisie on the summit, the results of the summit itself, how it fits into the broader framework of U$ imperialism, and what it means for the world as a whole.

In order to highlight the reactions and results of the summit, it is best to reprint the joint statement by Kim and the orange menace which was posted on the websites of Explore DPRK and Rodong Sinmun. The statement which was released on June 12 is as follows:

Kim Jong Un, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Donald J. Trump, president of the United States of America, held the first historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump conducted a comprehensive, in-depth and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new DPRK-U.S. relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Convinced that the establishment of new DPRK-U.S. relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump state the following:

1. The DPRK and the United States commit to establish new DPRK-U.S. relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The DPRK and the United States will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

4. The DPRK and the United States commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Having acknowledged that the DPRK-U.S. summit, the first in history, was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for opening of a new future, Chairman Kim Jong Un and President Trump commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously.

The DPRK and the United States commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the DPRK-U.S. summit.

Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America have committed to cooperate for the development of new DPRK- U.S. relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.

One can say it is positive that both sides agree on establishing new relations which will contribute to “peace and prosperity,” build a “lasting and robust peace regime” on the Korean Peninsula, and will work together to recover POW/MIA remains. The same can be said for implementing the summit’s outcomes, and planned cooperation tied with “the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.” The DPRK itself is compelled by the agreement to work for “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” and reaffirm the ROK-DPRK Panmunjom Declaration, while the U$ is committed “to provide security guarantees to the DPRK.” Still, it is going too far to say that this is a “pretty comprehensive document” as the orange menace declared recently. Rather, it is much more moderate, even if we take Kim’s words that the past will be left behind and that the “world will see a major change.” It is also an agreement which is  supported by 51% of those in the U$, a strong showing of the populace for peace.

Recent developments have raised questions about the specter of detente, with papers like the New York Times declaring that the DPRK “ruined” negotiations and The Atlantic declaring that the road for denuclearization will not be an easy one. [2] Basically, the DPRK is asking for concessions from U$ imperialists in exchange for denuclearization, criticizing unilateral and irreversible denuclearization pushed by Pompeo (and neo-cons) most recently in his meeting with high-level DPRK officials, such as key Workers’ Party of Korea official Kim Yong Chol, whom have called for a phased approach toward a nuclear-free Korean peninsula rather than “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation” (CVID) demanded quickly by the U$. As such, the DPRK said the talks with Pompeo, whom declared that both sides had made progress on “almost all of the central issues,” were regrettable, while Chol said that “the more you [Pompeo] come, more trust we can build between one another.” This could indicate differences within the DPRK’s leadership on how the U$ should be approached.

The full statement from the DPRK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on July 7 showed the rightful criticism of the U$. It says that while they expected “that the U.S. side would bring itself with a constructive proposal which would help build up trust true to the spirit of the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks,” with the DPRK putting forward “constructive proposals to seek a balanced implementation of all the provisions of the Joint Statement,” including putting in place “multilateral exchanges for improved relations between the DPRK and the U.S., making public a declaration on the end of war first on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement to build a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, dismantling the test ground of high thrust engine to make a physical verification of the suspension of ICBM production as part of denuclearization steps and making an earliest start of the working-level talks for recovering POW/MIA remains.” Kim even wrote the orange menace a personal letter out of respect. However, the U$ imperialists demanded that the DPRK comply with the demand for unilateral denuclearization which “run[s] counter to the spirit of the Singapore summit meeting and talks,” never mentioning the issue of “establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula which is essential for defusing tension and preventing a war,” instead saying they would backtrack on ending “the status of war under certain conditions and excuses”! This seems to follow efforts of previous administrations, with the suspension of the war games something that could be reversed. The foreign ministry adds that the DPRK was naive to think that the U$ would “come with a constructive proposal which accords with the spirit of the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks,” and notes that while the DPRK in the last few months “displayed maximum patience,” watching the U$ and initiating many “good-will steps,” this was misunderstood by the U$. They further commented that such imperialists are “fatally mistaken” if they think that “the DPRK would be compelled to accept, out of its patience” the imperialists’ demands. The statement closes by saying that “the U.S. should make a serious consideration of whether the toleration of the headwind against the wills of the two top leaders would meet the aspirations and expectations of the world people as well as the interests of its country.” So, the negotiations and burgeoning detente will continue, but tensions are rising to the surface, even if the orange menace really does give Kim a CD with Elton John’s “Rocket Man” as some bourgeois media are alleging.

Since the summit: the U$ and DPRK’s response

What has happened since the summit is important to recall. Positively, the U$ ended military drills, also called “war games,” with the ROK, with the orange menace rightly calling them “inappropriate” and “provocative” while even floating the withdrawal of U$ troops from the ROK. However, this could be part of his strategy to make a mark globally, or to force concessions out of Japan and ROK through his measures. [3] At the same time, military drills could even be “used again to threaten Pyongyang once it doesn’t proceed with the denuclearization as Washington wants” as the Global Times posited. This is no surprise however, because there is a clear trend of imperial arrogance under the current administration, exemplified most poignantly by Nikki Haley in response to social democratic imperialist Bernie Sanders, telling him that “it is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America. The Special Rapporteur wasted the UN’s time and resources, deflecting attention from the world’s worst human rights abusers and focusing instead on the wealthiest and freest country in the world.”

The U$ imperialists have been holding a tenacious line. Hawkish John Bolton declared that discussions between the DPRK and U$ (including Mike Pompeo) would continue, putting the onus on the DPRK, saying that denuclearization can happen within a year (or even 2 ½ years), with an undefined program with “asks” mentioned by Bolton and unnamed U$ officials, perhaps numbering as many as 47 as TASS reported recently. [4] The orange menace claimed this would include consultations with the ROK, Japan, and China. At the same time, there are some talk of a second summit between Kim and the orange menace, possibly at the UN General Assembly’s annual session beginning in September, even though there are efforts to put stumbling blocks in place. Of course, people like Pence claim that the “success of this summit and the progress that we’ve made is a direct result of President Trump’s steadfast leadership, and the courage of one American family” referring to Otto Warmbier’s family. The orange menace unconsciously, since he is a political amateur, as the Koreans said at the past, has disrupted, in another attempt to put his “mark” on history, the imperial Orientalist narrative on the DPRK by saying that people in the country “love” Kim with a “fervor,” and that the people in the country are hard-working and industrious. He also said that “I believe it’s a rough situation over there [in the DPRK]. It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way, not just there.” [5] Even with this, the imperial hostility toward the DPRK continues.

It is good to see the orange menace admitting that calling Kim “rocket man” was foolish. However, disgustingly he claimed it was part of his strategy to “earn” Kim’s “respect”! This seems like a horrible strategy which was not worth the cost! Detente could have been started much earlier. The current imperial strategy however is a bit confused as the orange menace extended the “national emergency” for the DPRK for another year, saying it constitutes an “extraordinary threat” to the U$, allowing economic sanctions to remain in place! Further dis-junction is evidenced by the orange menace’s claims that he had “good chemistry” with Kim, who he called a “very smart guy,” “tough guy,” “great negotiator,” and “very talented” as one of very few to run a “tough country,” but nodded to the Orientalists by saying that Kim has engaged in “very bad things” even as he said that “so have a lot of other people that have done some really bad things.” This is another crack in the imperialist narrative. Let us be clear that Kim outmaneuvered the orange menace, who depends on advisers like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, while Kim serves as the guiding force of the DPRK, far from what those in the West call a “dictator” with venom on their lips. The orange menace is falling on his own sword by playing up the summit’s results. Of course, no one would even dream of considering denuclearization of the U$!

Since the summit, Kim and the DPRK leadership has taken a strong stand. If Bolton is to be believed, Kim told the orange menace on June 12 that he was different than Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung. [6] While some say that the exact details of what the orange menace and Kim talked about is not known, Rodong Sinmun described the meeting as an “epoch-making meeting…[with] a candid exchange of views on the practical issues of weighty significance in putting an end to the decades-long hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S.” It also says there was “a comprehensive and in-depth discussion over the issues of establishing new DPRK-U.S. relations and building a permanent and durable peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula at the talks” with Kim praising “the president’s will and enthusiasm to resolve matters in a realistic way through dialogue and negotiations, away from the hostility-woven past…[and that] the two countries should commit themselves to refraining from antagonizing each other out of mutual understanding, and take legal and institutional steps to guarantee it.” Additionally, “Kim Jong Un invited Trump to visit Pyongyang at a convenient time and Trump invited Kim…to visit the U.S.” This having been the case, people have sent Kim congratulatory letters, while he has met with Xi Jinping, who represents the Chinese revisionists, and with Moon Jae-in, negotiating to have continued reunions of families separated by the Korean War, leading even a common revisionist, Roland Boer, to float the idea of Nobel Prize for Kim and Moon. There have also been meetings between high-ranking DPRK and ROK generals. Most importantly for the Korean people is Kim’s public appearance at a Sinuiju province cosmetics factory in which he said “it is important to completely eliminate manual labor and modernize production processes,” by bringing in automation. [7] He also said he “always hoped for a visit to the cosmetic factory in Sinuiju…They are famous for producing cosmetics with a spring scent,” and was also “proud of the factory’s production levels, but encouraged workers to continue excelling” as one article noted. We can debate automation of the workforce, but Kim clearly cares about his people while the orange menace does not care one bit, a fact the DPRK is undoubtedly aware of.

Then we get to claims of increased nuclear production in the DPRK’s facility in Yongbyon from 5-6 unnamed “U.S. officials,” a supposed report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and most “strongly” from commercial satellite imagery, displayed by anti-DPRK “watcher” website, 38 North, a project of the Henry L. Stimson Center, whose “partners” include many foundations and imperial groups. The center is also, as it should be noted, funded by the capitalist governments of Australia, Canada, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, UK, and U$, along with various private individuals, corporations, and foundations. [8] The imagery used by 38 North comes from a Pleiades satellite run by the French subsidiary of Airbus Defense and Space, called Airbus DS Geo SA, a global business which bills itself as an “international pioneer in Earth observation services.” As it turns out, Airbus Defense and Space is a subsidiary of the aerospace company, Airbus, over a quarter of which is owned by the capitalist French, Spanish, and German governments, according to page 108 of the organization’s most recent annual report. That doesn’t sound like an unbiased source at all! I am reminded of a recent article by Melinda Laituri in The Conversation, where she writes that

Satellite images…are captured through remote sensing technologies…without physical contact or firsthand experience. Algorithms refine these data to describe places and phenomena on the Earth’s surface and in the atmosphere…I think it’s important for people to understand the limitations of this technology, lest they misunderstand what they see…But there are some caveats that anyone working with satellite images – or viewing them – should consider. Satellite images are only as good as their resolution. The smaller the pixel size, the sharper the image. But even high-resolution images need to be validated on the ground to ensure the trustworthiness of the interpretation. Should we question the images we see? Whose view of the world are we seeing? One example of the misuse of remotely sensed data was in 2003, when satellite images were[falsely] used as evidence of sites of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq…processing satellite images is computationally intensive. At best, satellite images are interpretations of conditions on Earth – a “snapshot” derived from algorithms that calculate how the raw data are defined and visualized. This has created a “black box,” making it difficult to know when or why the algorithm gets it wrong…Through platforms like Google Earth and Earth Explorer, satellite images are increasingly available to not only researchers and scientists, but to people around the world…maps derived from satellite images are constructed by those who may not be very familiar with the site. Mappers have an important responsibility when representing other people’s places. Maps derived from satellite images without local context – like street names or information about vegetation types – tell incomplete stories. Building footprints can be digitized, but only locals can identify the purpose of that building. Imaginary lines, like country boundaries, don’t show up on remotely sensed images. As satellite images become more ubiquitous, we should reflect on where they come from, how they are created, and the purpose for their use.

Keeping that at mind, we should not, for one second, accept the claims made by the DNI, unnamed U$ officials, and even the interpretation of satellite imagery at face value. As Stephen Lendman, who I’ve cited before, writes, even 38 North can’t confirm if the work it says occurred, “continued after the June 12 Kim/Trump summit” or not! So, this makes their article totally worthless, a piece of junk which should be incinerated in the closest furnace, without polluting the air of course.

Capitalism coming to the DPRK?

There are signs of possible shifts. Kim met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on June 11, saying he would “learn a lot from the good knowledge and experience of Singapore in various fields in the future,” adding that issues of bilateral relations and increased “wide-ranging exchange and cooperation” was encouraged, while Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Singaporean Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung went to the DPRK. This raises the question: is capitalism coming to the DPRK as part of the detente with U$ imperialists?

We know that a four-minute short, created by the National Security Council, was shown to Kim, along with the capitalist media later on, with a voice over thundering that “Destiny Pictures presents a story of opportunity. A new story. A new beginning. Out of peace. Two men, two leaders, one destiny.” [9] This video “shows scenes of high-tech societies and everyday America, contrasted with images of traditional and contemporary Korean life, spliced with shots of rockets and North Korean militarism” as one bourgeois news outlet puts it. As the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which is not anti-imperialist in the slightest, describes it, the video serves “as a kind of hyper-capitalist real estate pitch, complete with beachfront property and speedboats and babies.” There’s also the fact that the orange menace, who says the video was shown in English and Korean, claims it was “loved” by Kim and eight Korean representatives. If he and other top DPRK officials liked the video, which we can’t be completely sure about unless we take the word of the orange menace at face value, it is somewhat worrisome considering the capitalist nature. Even so, it wouldn’t mean that the country is moving in a capitalist direction. In fact, it could mean they see it more broadly without abandoning the country’s social model.

At the same time, it is significant that the foreign affairs minister of Singapore, Vivian Balakrishnan, was impressed with what he saw in the DPRK on his visit. As he recounted:

…I come back very impressed…my views have also altered based on what I saw, heard, and (after I had) spoken to people. Clearly, the government has been hard at work all these decades to upgrade their infrastructure. I also got to experience the rugged, disciplined, determined, self-reliant society. They know they have had enormous challenges for well-nigh a century in North Korea. But they are proud of themselves and of their identity, and I can see there is that determination to move on, get ahead and to progress. So the society itself is a very impressive society and a city in its own right. Despite these maximal sanctions, what you have is a society that has continued to invest itself and continuously trying to upgrade people and their skills and the services they provide to their citizens. Now, can you imagine if peace finally comes, and North Korea is allowed to open up to the world and gain access to technology, capability, skills and markets. I think the sky is the limit for their people. If a breakthrough is achieved during the summit in Singapore, if peace comes, there will be a bountiful harvest. Primarily of course, with the Korean peninsula but also the rest of us, including Singapore as well. [10]

The question remains: who will collect this “bountiful harvest”? Will it be the Korean people or capitalists, Chinese, ROK, Japanese, Singaporean, and U$, spreading their wings and planting themselves in the North? If the latter is the case, then it will be a sad day for the forces fighting global imperialism. If the former occurs, which is something all those who care about justice should push for, then this would be a great relief for Korean people. We already know that 80% of ROK trading companies want to take part in development projects in the DPRK after international sanctions are lifted and are asking for better cross-border exchange. [11] Additionally, the national assembly of the ROK has seen an “increase in the number of bill proposals by legislators pushing to bolster economic exchanges with North Korea,” with many focused on inter-Korean railways and other economic exchanges. We also know that the U$ may be interested in negotiations with the DPRK because of large “deposits of rare earth elements (REEs)…potentially worth billions of US dollars” at a time that the DPRK “may be on the cusp of being integrated into a vast supply chain via an Iron Silk Road, with the Russia-China strategic partnership simultaneously investing in railways, pipelines and ports in parallel to North-South Korean special economic zones (SEZs), Chinese-style” as Pepe Escobar, favorable to Chinese revisionism, wrote recently. Furthermore, the orange menace and certain U$ imperialists want the summit in order to further “U.S. capitalist interests in Asia.”

It also seems that the DPRK is preparing itself even more for the world spotlight. One traveler from New Zealand, calling himself Indigo Traveller Nick, described Pyongyang as “impeccably clean,” thanks to efforts by locals, with grand metro stops, a fascinating but brutal war museum about the Korean war, feeling invisible as a foreigner, and having relative freedom for footage except for taking images of statues of current or former leaders. [12] He also claimed that those in rural regions of the country “looked like they walked straight out from a 1940s film,” reminiscent of the Soviet Union. He ended by calling it the “most unique and fascinating country” he had ever visited. On a related noted, the country is also connected culturally and linguistically to the south, with both countries sharing the same unofficial national anthem, “Our Wish is Reunification.” At the same time, a 42-minute video of the summit and visit of Kim and other top DPRK officials to Singapore was proudly broadcast on Korean Central Television (KCTV), including a “glittering Singapore skyline,” with Kim approving of Singapore as “clean and beautiful.” This would seem at least somewhat worrisome since Singapore is, as the bourgeois media has argued, a “prosperous capitalist nation,” only being “prosperous” for the capitalists.

The Russians are key in future developments in the DPRK, since they play a part in the search for a solution to the woes of the Korean Peninsula. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov is noted as saying in mid-June that they “seek economic cooperation with South Korea, which is our second largest trading partner in Asia after China,” while there would be high-level talks later in the month, focusing on “further development of Russia-South Korea relations in political, trade and economic, and humanitarian spheres.” [13] This is connected with the idea, posed by ROK president Moon Jae-in, that there be a Trans Korean Maine Line which can be connected to the Trans-Siberian Railway, which can benefit both Koreas and Russia, connected with having a gas pipeline from Russia connecting the two Koreas, along with electric lines as well, possibly even connecting with Japan. Moon also said, elsewhere that the DPRK can be part of negotiations with Russia “after permanent peace is established in the region.” An outlet of the Vietnamese revisionists, VN Express, reported on the topic as well, noting that between the ROK and Russia, there was hope “that reduced tensions with Pyongyang will open up opportunities for economic and infrastructure projects that would directly link South Korea with Russia through North Korea” with an area of common interest being “railway projects,” with current development “of a railway link between the Russian eastern border town of Khasan and the North Korean port of Rajin.” The DPRK clearly realizes the value of Russia as well, with Kim touring a military site in a Russian-made Lada Priora, a car produced by a large automaker in Russia, AvtoVAZ, which is majority-owned by the French car company, Renault.

China, which is revisionist and connected to global capitalism, as a social-imperialist power, has a strong role in the events in the country. There are indications that any transformation in the DPRK will be based on what has happened in China since 1978, not on the U$, engaging in economic reconstruction with any capitalistic opening limited to SEZs. [14] The Chinese state media claims that the DPRK’s cosmetic industry will gain from capitalistic Chinese investment, building upon existing connections to Chinese cyberspace. With all of this, the DPRK’s leadership increased the country’s ties with China, with the Chinese hosting a banquet for Kim on June 19, with talks in the following days, returning after the talks, on June 21. Interestingly, he visited, with his wife Ri Sol Ju, “the Beijing Municipal Track Traffic Control Centre,” learning the details and asking pointed questions, adding that “he admires at the high-level automation and good combined control system of the centre, he hoped that the centre would further develop into a world-level traffic control centre and make greater progress.”

There have also been rumblings about the “erasing” of anti-imperialist propaganda in the DPRK, which claims it was “replaced” by other propaganda celebrating Korean unification and not as critical of the U$. [15] A tour manager of Young Pioneer Tours named Rowan Beard, Peter Ward of NKNews, and a researcher at the ROK’s Korea Institute for National Unification named Hong Min, along with some other so-called “experts” said this was the case. Additionally, AP reported that the annual anti-imperialist rally to mark the start of the Korean War, or the Great Fatherland Liberation War, is not occurring this year. Of course, this is reporting on the outside, looking in, so what they are saying is likely distorted. It is clear that Rodong Sinmun is still celebrating the “socialist public health system in the DPRK,” writing on June 25th that this system is “symbolic of the advantages of Korean-style socialism centered on the popular masses, where the working masses are masters of everything and everything in society serves them.”

Clearly, the stage is set for some sort of capitalist opening in the DPRK. There are already some SEZs and other market mechanisms, as allowed by the country’s constitution, but these seem to be limited within the country itself. It is not known how much the country will “open” up, but if it is as much as China, this could be deleterious to the Korean people in the North by hurting any efforts for social construction in the country. Whatever is in store in the months and years to come, Russia, China, and the ROK will be key players, as will the DPRK. Perhaps Japan will be part of the equation, as will the U$, but the result of the detente will determine what the role of U$ imperialists will be going forward. The DPRK could also follow the model of Vietnam, which those like Pompeo hope for, as he recently said in Hanoi that “I say all of that because it’s important, but I hope that the United States, that one day we can share the same relationship with North Korea [that we have with Vietnam].” He added at a press conference in Japan that “in light of the once-unimaginable prosperity and partnership we have with Vietnam today, I have a message for Chairman Kim Jong Un. President Trump believes your country can replicate this path. It’s yours if you’ll seize the moment. The miracle could be yours. The choice now lies with North Korea and its people.” Whether that comes to pass, the fact is that the DPRK will adapt to the new surroundings, as has done since September 9, 1948, when the country was founded, with its efforts to play the Soviets and the Chinese off each other, especially after the 1960s, until the end of the Cold War in 1991, leading to some criticism from certain parts of the world.

The warmongers continue their assault: liberals and corporate media

While the orange menace rattles on about “fake news” from NBC and CNN, saying that there should be “negotiating in good faith” by both sides, with war and “potential nuclear catastrophe” involving the DPRK averted, he poses himself as a “courageous” individual for making “peace.” At the same time, Bruce Cumings, a liberal bourgeois historian, has said that this summit “frees Trump from Washington establishment thinking, and create[s] a real possibility of peace in Korea.” Not everyone sees it that way: liberals and much of the corporate media is opposed to detente between the DPRK and the U$ since they want the detente to fail.

This attitude is evident without question. On June 12, Ankit Panda of The Daily Beast declared that during the meeting Kim “got the better end of the bargain” and that the DPRK gained an “important propaganda coup.” [16] The same day, The Guardian blared that Kim “won” the summit, gaining “bolstered status and diplomatic leverage,” even saying that the war games were positive! Others, like William Rivers Pitt of Truthout, went into the bizarre, calling Kim a “dangerous menace” who was a “fascist” like the orange menace! This wasn’t much of a surprise considering that others like Tony Schwartz (former ghostwriter for the orange menace) and Rebecca Gordon of TomDispatch fell in line, saying that the orange menace was moving closer to “enemies” of the empire. They “proved” this by citing the orange menace’s comments that Kim is a “tough guy” who is “smart” and a “great negotiator,” while saying, some time ago, in response to typical bourgeois criticism of Putin, “what do you think, our country’s so innocent?” The latter statement alludes to imperial violence since 1776 while such violence continues unimpeded! By contrast, progressive “luminary” Amy Goodman was more positive on the summit, saying that there should be unification behind “peace movements that are driving this diplomatic opening.” The same was the case for Tom Shorrock, who called Kim a “dictator,” who was also positive, especially criticizing corporate pundits.

A number of radical and alternative commentators exposed the true nature of the warmongers. Some wrote that the summit was “filled with the sorts of reality-television antics we’ve come to expect from the U.S. leader,” but also said that those Democrats who were Clintonites or Obamaesque, “struggled hard to express principled disagreements with the White House over a rapprochement with Pyongyang,” using a “laundry-list cliché of complaints,” with the orange menace “incapable of doing any good unless he’s applying a language of pressure, sanctions and veiled threats using acceptable language.” Even the Greanville Post, an alternative media outlet which is favorable to revisionism, pointed out that Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, the U$ House Minority Leader, did not like the moderate concessions by the orange menace to Kim, wanting more brinkmanship, not wanting a “genuine and durable peace” on the Korean Peninsula. The union-funded publication, In These Times, said something similar, noting that Koreans were optimistic about the summit, while those like Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, liberal cesspool Vox, Hallie Jackson of MSNBC, and King Russophobe Adam Schiff, among other establishment liberals, as some call them, were up in arms, with even social democratic imperialist Bernie Sanders praising the summit! This was not unusual. The bourgeois media made the faulty assumption for weeks leading up to the summit (and since) that “North Korea cannot live without nuclear weapons” and do not take one second to “understand North Korea’s strategy in regard to nuclear weapons,” not recognizing that the DPRK was ready and willing to negotiate openly with the U$ back in 2013, but the U$ refused to negotiate. This same media seemed to be more concerned about Kim than the orange menace, which has thousands more weapons possibly at his (and his government’s) disposal, 1,650 strategic nuclear warheads on ICBMs and 180 tactical nuclear weapons at bomber bases in Europe, a much greater threat to the world as a whole. After all, while the orange menace is the person followed by the “football”, the imperialists have granted themselves all “rights” to use nuclear weapons as they see fit. Such warmongers easily align with the military contractors whose stocks took a dive as Kim and the orange menace signed an agreement on June 12, as their dreams of “yet another catastrophic U.S.-led military conflict” seem to have faded away.

Black Agenda Report was spot on in their criticism of such warmongers. Margaret Kimberley said that the Democrats “are left with nothing except attacking Trump from the right” because they fundamentally “like war, interventions and United States hegemony” as “true believers in imperialism.” They are not at all, as she notes, progressive, instead supporting “America’s professed right to invade and intervene in the affairs of countries all over the world,” upholding the U$ as the global police force, not supporting any “sovereignty and equality among nations.” Ajamu Baraka similarly wrote about how any move “toward normalizing relations between the United States and North Korea” was derided by Democrats, along with others from NPR, MSNBC, and CNN, who do not realize that this process, is, for the Korean people, about de-colonization. He also said that ultimately the orange menace will fall in line and misread the Koreans since “peace, de-colonization and national reconciliation for Korea are counter to U.S. interests,” meaning that there must be a demand upon the empire to get out of Korea, supporting a process to make that occur. Of course, the Democrats who stake out “a position to the right of John Bolton on the summit” cannot be trusted to make this happen, with even the Poor People’s Campaign, launched in May 2018, having little to say on the topic. In contrast, the newfangled Black Alliance for Peace has adopted the strong position of: “not one drop of blood from the working class and poor to defend the interests of the capitalist oligarchy.”

This leads to a further conclusion: that the “Democratic Party establishment and its media surrogates,” which some claim are MSNBC and CNN, are not part of the “Left” anymore. After all, these forces have called for increased pressure on Russia and the DPRK while they support a full-fledged proxy conflict in Syria and the murderous Zionist apartheid state, making common cause with neo-cons, the military establishment and multinational capitalist combines. This is part of what Amber B. described on this website [anti-imperialism.org] back in June: that Democrats are intensifying their rightward shift “in the midst of a new looming crisis in imperialism, critiquing Trump for overseeing a declining u.$. empire, de-escalation with N. Korea, an Assad victory in Syria, and defeat on virtually every front of soft power available to the u.$.” This is connected to a new predicament and threat of inter-imperialist war, necessitating greater unity among revolutionary forces in order to defeat “the u.$. in all conflicts and colonial holdings, in and outside north amerika, and ultimately of taking power.” Such unity requires, as Amber B. noted correctly, that the direction of U$ imperialism belongs to a greater authority: “the whole constellation of relations of moribund imperialism, settler and neo-colonialism, and inter-imperialist rivalry.” This means that “unless and until the u.$. state is overthrown, its ruling classes suppressed, its sovereignty over captive nations ended, then amerikan imperialism will continue, till total victory or total ruin, no matter who is in power.” Looking at the changes of power since 2000, from Clinton to Bush II in 2000, from Bush II to Obama in 2008, from Obama to the orange menace in 2016, as a small example, there has been imperial continuity manifested in the Afghanistan war, extraordinary rendition of any suspected “wrongdoer,” the developed mass surveillance system, the dungeons of mass incarceration, maintaining the Guantanamo Naval Base, and the overall warfare readiness of the empire, with interspersed wars, terroristic drone strikes, expanding bases, and covert (and overt) activity.

What does the summit mean for the world?

On June 12, in the flurry of news on the topic, the New York Times took a typical Orientalist perspective but still admitted that “for the first time since 1953, the door has been opened to peace on the Korean Peninsula.” But there is more than just a door that has been opened. A whole new opportunity and paradigm is possible, with those such as Kim, very-popular ROK president Moon Jae-In, and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, key players in such negotiations, which can be said to be part of “serious peace talks,” with ending the state of war giving the Korean people “space they need to deal with their own division,” leading to future democratic change. Even the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union praised the summit, saying it signals “a new era in which peace on the Korean Peninsula is possible” while they worried that the agreement was not concrete enough, saying that the conclusion “peace treaty by all relevant sides and a non-aggression pact between the U.S. and North Korea are needed as steps towards creating a Korean peace regime.” This union was also concerned that the comments by the orange menace about “prosperity” in the DPRK is “predicated on private investment and the capitalist opening” of that country’s economy, a process that “does not involve workers’ participation, [and] has the potential to lead to the expansion of labour rights violations and increase in economic and other forms of inequality.” In the meantime, the murderous empire has no intention to operate “within the rule-based international order designed to govern relations between states and between people and governments” evidenced by the withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council because it criticized Zionist oppression. Bolivian President Evo Morales rightly described that this event was the most recent evidence that the U$ is “an interventionist, coup-mongering state, and a violator of the people’s right to life, especially of the poorest…[and] an accomplice of Israel, that massacres civilians, and [the U$] today incarcerates innocent children that cross its border.” The empire is, as he noted, with all its unilateral actions since 2017, “the worst threat for world peace, human rights, and Mother Earth.”

As the Chinese revisionist leadership and DPRK leadership increase their ties, there is talk of a railway going from China into the DPRK, with the revisionists not letting up on supporting murderous sanctions on the Korean people. [17] This could complicate matters for the orange menace as it increases the leverage of Xi Jinping in the trade war between the U$ and China, with the Chinese restraining their criticism of the orange menace. This trade war, whether it leads to a shooting war or not, allows Xi (and the Chinese revisionists) to disrupt possible negotiations between the DPRK and U$. As Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “what matters is how China and the US cooperate. Let competition drive cooperation,” showing they operate within the capitalist model. Let us not forget that Kim arrived on an Air China jet in Singapore, undoubtedly a symbolic move without question, showing that China “brought him there and back.”

The DPRK is not a Chinese colony. Rather, the DPRK decides its own policy, with Kim outmaneuvering the imperialists, with the U$ adopting the freeze-for-freeze policy, in the simple agreement on June 12 which did not have “any decisive or concrete details,” proposed by the Russians and Chinese, and more recently endorsed by the DPRK itself. Such independent policy has led the ROK has made some concessions even though their military remains wary. In a recent KCNA article describing the summit, it was clear that the Koreans were pursuing their own path, treating the U$ respectfully, while still holding a strong line. This independent policy was recently showcased in the president of the Presidium, the leading body of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), Kim Yong Nam, congratulating Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador upon his election as president of Mexico (by a landslide), saying that it is “an expression of the Mexican people’s trust and expectation,” while adding that he wished Obrador “good health and great success in his responsible work, expressing belief that the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries would develop onto a new higher stage in line with the aspiration and desire of the two peoples.” Whether Obrador can challenge existing capitalist orthodoxy is an open question, but the Mexican people got a long-needed change and social movements in the country can push Obrador to move the country in a progressive, even radical, direction. On the topic of the DPRK’s independent policy, one should also point out the favorable relations they hold with socially democratic Nicaragua, the secular socially democratic state of Syria, socially democratic Venezuela, Islamic nationalist Iran, socialist Cuba, and support for Palestinian liberation without question.

The former colonial master of Japan has been broadly left out of discussions, becoming a bystander, even though it will eventually have to conform. [18] The DPRK has said already that Japan will be ignored as long as it continues efforts to boost its military readiness and large-scale military drills, that the anti-DPRK policy of the government must be scrapped, and replaced with “sincerity toward Peace.” Other countries have been more positive. The Iranians, with Mohammad Bagher Nobakht of the Iranian government saying that “we are facing a man who revokes his signature while abroad,” who warned Kim of the U$ duplicity, were positive about the summit, with Iranian Ambassador to London, Hamid Baeidinejad saying that “one positive aspect of the agreement between the US and North Korea is that the possibility of war and military conflict between the two sides, escalated by Trump’s bellicose remarks, which could have affected South Korea, Japan and China, and had caused great concern, has now been reduced.” More specifically, the Japanese, ROK, and Chinese were pleased. But neo-cons like Marco Rubio, David Purdue, Brett Klinger (former CIA, Heritage Foundation), and conservative analyst Brit Hume were fuming while Lindsey Graham and Cory Gardner were more optimistic. Even the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, Mac Thornberry, supports ending the war games, while he still supports a strong imperial presence in the ROK. The Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer, Brian Schatz, Chris Murphy, and Steve Cohen, sided with the neo-cons, as one would expect.

It remains to be seen if future negotiations will focus on “eliminating Washington’s regional nuclear umbrella…[or] pulling US troops out of South Korea.” Even if this is the “beginning of a different sort of diplomatic process” as some say, even some bourgeois analysts grumble that “North Korea is not going to jump into our alliance network anytime soon, but the Singapore summit may give it the opportunity to move out of China’s orbit,” seeing a possible future ally of the empire, not realizing the interconnections of the DPRK and China or their shared history. [19] Then there’s the question of possible sanction relief, which the U$ seems to be holding out as a possibility but only once the DPRK unilaterally and completely disarm its nukes, which they aren’t prepared to do without major concessions by the imperialists first, a justified response. The DPRK wants to protect and expand the standard of living of the people within the country, but will not dismantle its nuclear industry since “nuclear technology can be used to generate electricity and is a prestige item for the North generally.” While it is hard for some to see “coherence in Trump’s bellicose policies towards Iran and North Korea,” the fact, as one analyst noted, is that “any increased popularity Trump would gain from a war now would invariably diminish by the time he’s up for reelection. Thus, for Trump, commencing war two years later, just before the presidential election, would make far more sense. Republicans, independents and even some Democrats would rally to the flag and be more likely to vote him back into office.” Furthermore, as Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report, noted, the orange menace is not “causing chaos in the imperial Big House because he wants to hasten the demise of U.S. imperialism” but rather he is trying to “stamp his orange imprint on history,” not knowing what he does, while he aligns closely with the Zionists and Gulf autocrats.

I tend to disagree with Ford’s comment that the orange menace doesn’t know what he is doing. There seems to be precise calculations for what he is doing. Sure, he is trying to imprint on history, but his snap analysis, manifested by his comment in Canada that “they say you know you’re going to like somebody in the first five seconds – you ever hear of that one? Well, I think I’ll know very quickly whether or not something good is going to happen. I also think I’ll know whether it will happen fast” about Kim, adding that “I’ll be on a mission of peace. In my heart, we will be carrying the hearts of millions of people, people from all over the world. We have to get denuclearization, we have to get something going.”” While this is utter hogwash, there is rationality to his method. At times, the administration is just trying to push the envelope, while other times his statements serve as a distraction from pressing matters. It all fits within the framework of U$ imperialism which broadly continues on the path set by Bush II and Obama, with even further venom spewed toward Venezuela, Cuba (to a lesser extent), Russia, and China. And no, the summit between Kim and the orange menace, even with its antics of those like reactionary Dennis Rodman, was not a distraction from the meeting of some elites, like Henry Kissinger and 130 others, at Bilderberg. Rather, the bourgeois media would just not cover the Bilderberg meeting, regardless of whether the Kim-orange menace summit occurred. This isn’t because of some magic conspiracy, but rather because the summit was more jazzy, fitting with the bourgeois media model than a “boring” and secretive Bilderberg summit, as they would likely describe it.

What is in the cards in the coming days is a summit between Vladimir Putin and the orange menace on July 16 in Helsinki, which is already being panned by bourgeois media and their Russophobic allies here, there, and everywhere!. [20] This summit would undoubtedly be modeled the same way as the summit between Kim and the orange menace. In the process, anti-imperialists must push the U$ for concessions on reducing military pressure, while having no illusions about the Russians, who are nationalistic and wedded to capitalism, with their own bourgeoisie which is willing to work with the U$ as needed.

The specter of detente between the DPRK and U$ scares the liberal and neoconservative imperialists who would like a state of war on the Korean Peninsula, posing the DPRK as a “threat” to global humanity even though the murderous empire is the real threat. This is evident in the fact that this empire has over 266 times more nuclear weapons than the DPRK! [21] At the same time, those imperialists in the corner of the orange menace see this as an opportunity to “flip” the DPRK into the U$ imperial umbrella. What comes next is in part up to the DPRK and U$ negotiators, but can also be influenced by the proletariat in the DPRK, ROK, China, and Russia, along with long-standing movements such as the peace movement. In the end, we should remain critical while rejecting Orientalist propaganda aimed at the Koreans and not being dismissive of the detente, realizing the potential of a peaceful Korean Peninsula for those occupying it, those in the countries surrounding it, and the world at-large.


Notes

[1] In 2012, he also became the Chairman (called “First Secretary” from 2012 to 2016) of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission (called the National Defence Commission from 2012 to 2016), Chair of the Central Military Commission, and a member of the Politiburo’s presidium which is led by Kim Yong Chol.

[2] Uri Freedman, “America’s Moment of Truth With North Korea Is Coming,” The Atlantic, July 10, 2018; Reuters Staff, “North Korea says resolve for denuclearisation may falter after talks with U.S.: KCNA,” Reuters, July 7, 2018; Matthew Lee and Andrew Harnick, “North Korea Says Talks With Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Were ‘Regrettable’,” AP (reprinted by Time), July 7, 2018; Rozina Sabur, “Mike Pompeo arrives in Pyongyang to press for commitment to denuclearisation,” The Telegraph, July 6, 2018; Hyonshee Shin and David Brunnstrom, “North Korea slams ‘gangster-like’ U.S. demands after satisfied Pompeo leaves,” Reuters, July 6, 2018.

[3] Wang Peng, “US move to suspend military drills with South Korea a calculated move,” Global Times, June 19, 2018; “President Trump Says North Korea Has Returned the Remains of 200 U.S. Soldiers,” Time, June 21, 2018.

[4] Stefan Becket, “Bolton says U.S. could dismantle North Korean arsenal “within a year”,” CBS News, July 1, 2018; Elise Labott, “US and North Korean officials met Sunday to discuss implementing agreement between countries,” CNN, July 1, 2018; Mike Allen, “Scoop: Trump may hold Round 2 with Kim Jong-un in NYC,” Axios, July 2, 2018; Ian Kullgren, “Bolton downplays North Korea weapons report,” Politico, July 2, 2018; Julia ManChester, “Pence on Trump-Kim summit: ‘It takes courage to make peace’,” The Hill, June 13, 2018; Phil Stewart, “U.S. to give North Korea post-summit timeline with ‘asks’ soon: official,” Reuters, June 24, 2018; “Trump: North Korea ‘total denuclearization’ started; officials see no new moves,” Reuters, Jun 22, 2018. In his interview with ABC News, as noted in the June 12 article titled “President Trump sits down with George Stephanopoulos: TRANSCRIPT,” he said that “we have the framework of getting ready to denuclearize North Korea…We’re going to work with South Korea. We’re going to work with Japan. We’re going to work with China…They’re [Korean] gonna start immediately. They really already started. They blew up a site, which was the real deal site that was their big site, they’ve blown it up…We stopped playing those war games that cost us a fortune…they’re very expensive…His [Kim’s] country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor. They’re gonna put it together, and I think they’re going to end up with a very strong country, and a country which has people — that they’re so hard working, so industrious…We’re starting from scratch. We’re starting right now, and we have to get rid of those nuclear weapons…there are reasons he [Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il] didn’t because he was let down by the United States, but that’s irrelevant…In the past we’ve tried, but it never worked out and it never did work out. And it was embarrassing actually to the United states and to our leadership…He trusts me, I believe, I really do. I mean, he said openly, and he said it to a couple of reporters that were with him that he knows that no other president ever could have done this.”

[5] Morgan Gsalder, “Trump: North Koreans love Kim,” The Hill, June 12, 2018; Collum Borchers, “Trump’s refreshing admission that he felt ‘foolish’ when taunting Kim Jong Un,” Washington Post, June 13, 2018; AP, “Trump flips on North Korea, declaring country still an ‘extraordinary threat’,” The Guardian, June 23, 2018; “Trump touts ‘great chemistry’ with Kim Jong Un,” AOL News, June 24, 2018; Lisa de Moraes, “Donald Trump Defends “Great Negotiator” Kim Jong Un Who Bret Baier Calls “Killer”,” Deadline, June 13, 2018; Steve Holland, “Trump defends policies on border, North Korea in visit to Las Vegas,” Reuters, June 23, 2018. Even the orange menace has doubted, there will problems of this strategy, saying “I think he’s going to do these things. I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse” as noted in Dylan Stableford’s June 13th article in Yahoo! News titled “’Sleep well tonight!’: Trump promptly declares North Korea no longer a nuclear threat.”

[6] Stefan Becket, “Bolton says U.S. could dismantle North Korean arsenal “within a year”,” CBS News, July 1, 2018; Ian Kullgren, “Bolton downplays North Korea weapons report,” Politico, July 2, 2018; Krishnadev Calamur, “No One Knows What Kim Jong Un Promised Trump,” The Atlantic, Jul 2, 2018; “Date set for reunions of war-separated Korean families,” DW, June 22, 2018.

[7] Tom O’Connor, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Wants to ‘Completely Eliminate Manual Labor’,” Newsweek, July 2, 2018; Kim Myong-song, “Kim Jong-un Visits Chinese Border Region,” Chosun, July 2, 2018; “Kim Jong Un visits cosmetics factory in special economic zone near border with China,” Straits Times, July 1, 2018.

[8] Kanga Kong, “North Korea Ramps Up Nuclear Effort Weeks After Trump Summit,” Bloomberg, July 2, 2018; Courtney Kube, Ken Dilanian and Carol E. Lee, “North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites, say U.S. officials,” NBC News, June 29, 2018; Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick, “North Korea working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program, U.S. officials say,” Washington Post, June 30, 2018; Jonathan Cheng, “North Korea Expands Key Missile-Manufacturing Plant,” Wall Street Journal, Jul 1, 2018; Frank V. Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu, “Infrastructure Improvements at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility,” 38 North, June 26, 2018.

[9] Kate Simmons, “Creator of the Trump-Kim ‘Movie Trailer’ Steps Forward,” Newser, June 13, 2018; Alana Abramson, “National Security Council Says It Created That Video President Trump Showed Kim Jong Un Before the North Korean Summit,” Time, June 13, 2018; Euan McKirdy, “Destiny Pictures founder claims mistaken identity, distances himself from Trump video,” CNN, June 14, 2018; Julian Borger, “’Harebrained’: National Security Council owns up to widely derided Trump video,” The Guardian, June 13, 2018; Tim Hains, “Scott Adams: Trump Video Message To Kim “Might Be The Best Thing Anybody Ever Did In A Negotiation, Period”,” RealClearPolitics, June 12, 2018; John Hindertaker, “The Kim Destiny Pictures Video: Brilliant or Stupid? [Updated],” PowerLine, June 13, 2018.

[10] Leong Wai Kit, “’I come back very impressed’: Vivian Balakrishnan on trip to North Korea,” Channel News Asia, June 9, 2018.

[11] “Bulk of S. Korean trading firms want to take part in N. Korea projects: poll,” Yonhap News, June 17, 2018; “Parliament sees more bill proposals for inter-Korean economic exchanges amid warming ties,” Yonhap News, June 10, 2018.

[12] “Inside North Korea: Kiwi’s ‘surreal’ trip to the secretive nation,” New Zealand Herald, June 25, 2018; Ben Westcott and Stella Ko, “North Korea state media airs unseen video from Trump-Kim summit,” CNN, June 14, 2018.

[13] “Russia, South Korea to discuss economic cooperation, Korean Peninsula issue,” Xinhua, June 20, 2018; “Putin tells Moon: We’ll keep working for Korean peninsula peace,” Reuters, June 22, 2018.

[14] Cynthia Kim and Christian Shepard, “North Korea seen looking to China, not U.S., for help in any economic transformation,” Reuters, Jun 10, 2018; Cao Siqi, “North Korean cosmetics firm gains attention from Kim’s factory visit,” Global Times, Jul 3, 2018.

[15] Andreas Illmer, “North Korean propaganda changes its tune,” BBC News, June 23, 2018; Eileen AJ Connolly, “North Korea erasing most anti-US propaganda,” New York Post, Jun 23, 2018; “North Korea to erase anti-U.S. propaganda,” BlackListed News, June 24, 2018; “North Korea media tone down anti-US rhetoric,” Financial Times, accessed June 25, 2018; Cha Song Ho and Eric Talmadge, “In sign of detente, North Korea skips annual anti-US rally,” Washington Post (reprinted from AP), June 25, 2018.

[16] Ankit Panda, “Trump’s Singapore Summit Was a Bust—for the U.S.,” The Daily Beast, June 12, 2018; “The Guardian view on Trump in Singapore: a huge win – for North Korea,” The Guardian, June 12, 2018; William Rivers Pitt, “Winning the News Cycle: Trump’s Made-for-TV Singapore Summit,” Truthout, reprinted in Information Clearing House, June 13, 2018; “Trump Dismisses Kim Jong Un’s Atrocities: ‘He’s a Tough Guy’,” The Daily Beast, June 14, 2018.

[17] Liu Caiyu, “North Korea deserves trust as Kim shows resolution on China trip: analysts,” Global Times, June 21, 2018; “As Kim Visits China, Xi Flaunts Bargaining Chip in Trade Dispute,” Bloomberg News, June 19, 2018; Deng Xiaoci, “FM urges US to cooperate on trade, N.Korea as Pompeo visits China,” Global Times, June 14, 2018; Moon of Alabama, “The Real Results Of The Trump-Kim Summit – Freeze For Freeze (And Some Amusement),” Information Clearing House, June 14, 2018.

[18] Akira Kimura, “Trump-Kim summit leaves Japan struggling with outdated strategy,” Global Times, Jun 14, 2018; “North Korea says to ignore Japan until it scraps military drills, other measures,” Reuters, June 25, 2018; “Iran spokesman warns Kim about nuclear agreement with Trump,” AP, June 12, 2018; Julia Manchester, “Dems rip Trump concessions, ’embarrassing’ rhetoric with Kim,” The Hill, June 12, 2018; Brian Murphy and Shibani Mahtani, “With some reservations, East Asian countries welcome the Trump-Kim summit,” Washington Post, June 12, 2018; Ellen Mitchell, “GOP senator ‘troubled’ by Trump announcement to halt US-South Korean military drills,” The Hill, June 12, 2018; Paul LeBlanc, “Fox News Analyst Calls Trump Handshake With ‘Thug’ Kim Jong Un ‘Disconcerting’,” Newsweek, June 12, 2018; Eli Stokols, “Republicans remain skeptical despite Trump’s boasts of breakthrough with North Korea’s Kim,” LA Times, June 12, 2018; Ellen Mitchell, “House GOP chairman backs Trump’s move to halt military exercises with South Korea,” The Hill, June 13, 2018.

[19] Christopher Steintz, “The Trump-Kim summit advances a unique rapprochement,” The Hill, June 13, 2018; “Pompeo: No Sanctions Relief for Pyongyang Until After Denuclearization,” The Daily Beast, June 13, 2018; Sharon Marris, “Confusion As North Korea Says US Will Lift Sanctions,” Information Clearing House (reprinted from Sky), June 13, 2018; Jeffrey Sommers and Peter Paik, “A Blow to Interventionists, as US and North Korea Move Toward Peace,” CounterPunch, June 13, 2018; Alana Abramson, “President Trump Says It’ll Take Him 1 Minute to Figure Out If Kim Jong Un Is Serious About Peace,” Time, June 9, 2018; Matt Agorist, “As Media Hypes Trump-Kim Summit, The Real Rulers of the World are Secretly Meeting at Bilderberg,” Activist Post, June 7, 2018; Steve Geimann, “Dennis Rodman to Cheer ‘My Friends’ Trump and Kim in Singapore,” Bloomberg News, June 9, 2018; Jennifer Epstein, Toluse Olorunnipa, and Jennifer Jacobs, “Trump, Kim Planning One-on-One Talk at Start of Summit,” Bloomberg News, June 9, 2018.

[20]John Wagner, Anton Troianovski and Philip Rucker, “Trump and Putin will meet July 16 in Helsinki, Washington and Moscow announce,” Washington Post, June 28, 2018; Philip Giraldi, “Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up?,” Unz Review (reprinted in Information Clearing House), Jun 21, 2018.

[21] This comes from information compiled by the Arms Control Association in June 2018, and the Ploughshares Fund in July 2018. If we include all nuclear weapons of the U$, including the 2,500 said to be “retired” but are still intact, then the U$ has over 436 times as many nuclear weapons, having 6,500 while the DPRK, according to a January 2018 article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, “have produced sufficient fissile material to build 30 to 60 nuclear weapons, and that it might possibly have assembled 10 to 20 warheads,” adding at the end of the article that “as far as we can assess…North Korea might have produced sufficient fissile material to hypothetically build 30 to 60 nuclear weapons (if it used all the material), but only assembled perhaps 10 to 20 warheads, if even that many.” This is where the number of 15 comes from the Arms Control Association and Ploughshares Fund, which seem to have averaged the numbers 10 and 20 together. As such, the nuclear superiority of the murderous empire might be even more! Both of these organizations are undoubtedly bourgeois without question, but even using their numbers it shows nuclear superiority of the murderous empire. The amount of nukes held by the DPRK is small, as Russia and the U$ hold 92% of the world’s nukes! So the complaints of the imperialists, and even revisionists like those in Laos, China, and Vietnam on this topic is laughable, as they do not recognize this glaring disparity!

U$ imperialists torpedo opportunity for “positive changes” on Korean peninsula

Reprinted from anti-imperialism.org. Written on May 24, 2018. Revised with an eye to self-criticism on August 24, 2019. As it turned out, the summit was held on June 12, 2018, but it was a rocky road getting to that point.

As you’ve probably heard by now, the orange menace, as I call him, wrote a letter to Kim Jong Un, ending the upcoming one-on-one summit with Kim in Singapore. This summit was even supported by a wide swath of the U$ public, even though many have Orientalist mindsets since they don’t trust the DPRK to be genuine. While the orange menace praised treatment of three U$ prisoners in the DPRK as “excellent,” this didn’t keep him from spouting lies in his recent letter to Kim, who welcomed the summit, showing his is more than a strongman but is the top imperialist in the world, leading forward U$ hegemony. Canceling this summit is, without a doubt, the art of the dealbreaker. This article aims to analyze the letter of the orange menace to Kim, line by line.

After his pleasantries in calling Kim by his proper title, the letter took a tone which seemed paternalistic, or at least demeaning:

We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that that meeting was requested by North Korea, but that is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you.

For one, it is important to recognize that the meeting was requested by the DPRK. It is not “totally irrelevant.” It shows that Kim Jong Un and the Korean leadership, led by the Workers’ Party of Korea which “may contain many revisionist tendencies and factions” as recently here by Amber B, are the ones whom are working to keep the U$ in “its place, cowed by the superior determination of the Korean people,” with embarrassed imperialists waiting on them. It also reinforces the role of the DPRK, which has attained a strong position, successfully de-linking itself “from the world capitalist economy” and proving itself as a “fully sovereign and independent state,” serving on the “frontline of the struggle against imperialism and a vanguard of all Third World movements with tendencies to delink from the parasitic way the global economy is run” as argued by Abdelraheem Kheirawi of FC Apatride UTD in the pages of this website [anti-imperialism.org]. There’s no need for those commemorative coins of the Singapore summit, which were minted, anymore!

The letter goes onto say that:

Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have a long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.

This represents a fallacy: that Kim displayed “anger” and “hostility” toward the U$. On the one hand, the letter could be referring to a comment from DPRK vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-hui responding to U$ Vice-President Mike Pence’s tweet, in which he wrote that “as @POTUS Trump made clear, this will only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a deal.” Son-hui’s comment that Pence is engaging in “ignorant and stupid remarks” which gush “out from the mouth” and that he is a “political dummy” since he is trying to “compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya that had simply installed a few items of equipment and fiddled around with them” is accurate. The same goes for her comment that other high-level politicians in the U$ know “too little” about the DPRK, comparing it to Libya, and that Pence does not recognize “terrible consequences” of what he said, that the U$ will “taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now” as a result. Even with that, the statement is still not from Kim himself. After all, let us not forget that the orange menace threatened Kim with the fate of Gaddafi, saying that the U$ “went in and decimated him…we did the same thing with Iraq. That model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely,” saying there will be “absolute decimation” if a deal isn’t reached! With this, it is no surprise that the first Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK, Kim Kye Gwan, said they were reconsidering the summit, criticizing the comments of U$ National Security Advisor John Bolton, whom they were repulsive toward, saying they will not unilaterally abandon their nuclear weapons. Perhaps he even tanked these talks from the beginning. After all, the White House has declared that the U$ will continue “the maximum pressure campaign that’s been ongoing” against the DPRK if the talks don’t happen. The criticism of Bolton, whom apparently wanted a possible deal with the DPRK to go before the U$ Senate, may have posed a “serious hurdle” for the orange menace, but they were right to criticize Bolton! [1]

Perhaps there is a political calculation at work here. On May 20, the New York Times reported, as summarized by The Hill, that the orange menace asked “aides if he should move forward with the planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un… over fears that he could be politically embarrassed” and that the orange menace he was “surprised and angered by a recent announcement from North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator that North Korea would be unwilling to trade its nuclear weapons for economic aid,” showing he is a political novice. Aides were also quoted, anonymously, as saying they were “concerned about the president’s understanding of North Korea’s nuclear program and what is needed to ensure denuclearization.” Then a couple days later, it was reported that the orange menace publicly questioned if the summit would happen at all! [2]

Getting back to the claim in the letter that Kim stated something toward the U$ with “tremendous anger and open hostility,” Rodong Sinmun lists Kim’s last activity as guiding the 1st Enlarged Meeting of the 7th Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Otherwise, Rodong Sinmun criticizes the U$ interference in Venezuela. The DPRK’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pyongyang Times, nor KCNA list any recent statements by Kim about the summit or the U$! In fact, the most recent article of KCNA on Kim notes how he is inspecting Koam-Tapchon Railways which were recently completed in the county. [3] As such, the orange menace is clearly lying on this point, without question. The only article that mentions the summit, implicitly, is an article by Kim Rye Yong in the Pyongyang Times titled “it is needed to see DPRK-US dialogue squarely” in which Yong writes that the DPRK is out ahead:

The international community is supporting the DPRK’s effort to promote détente on the Korean peninsula and build a fine future.

Kim Jong Un, chairman of the DPRK State Affairs Commission, has raised the profile of the DPRK as a world-level strategic state and safeguarded peace and stability on the peninsula and beyond by displaying outstanding wisdom, matchless courage and extraordinary political acumen.

With a strategic determination to put an end to the bitter history of the relationship between the DPRK and the US, he met US State Secretary Pompeo in Pyongyang and took a series of crucial and generous measures to seek peace and stability on the peninsula and in the rest of the world.

Foreign media attribute the current tendency towards dialogue to the DPRK’s great strength and positive efforts.

The courageous decision of Kim Jong Un and the proactive efforts of the Workers’ Party of Korea have brought a peaceful environment to the Korean peninsula, Kazbek Taysaev, secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, said as he addressed a joint seminar of Russian political parties and organizations. The rapid development of the DPRK makes the world community better understand the greatness of the Korean leader and the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea, he added.

While north Korea is leading the current situation, the US is following it, Canadian newspaper Toronto Star said. What is noteworthy is that north Korea emerges victorious in the long-standing confrontation and the US and its allies are on the defensive in their approach towards north Korea, it noted, adding that it is not a big country but it is a military power and centre stage.

“Compared to the US boasting of its economic and military capabilities, the DPRK is a small country in terms of territory and population,” Nigeria-based African Regional Committee for Friendship and Solidarity with the Korean People said on a website. “But the DPRK is led by Kim Jong Un endowed with outstanding strategy and courage and has an army and people committed to their cause.”

Such being the case, some are arguing that the thaw on the Korean peninsula is a result of the US’ “hardline diplomacy” and “sustained pressure”. This is of no slight help to the development of the situation on the peninsula. Rather it hurts the atmosphere for the DPRK-US negotiations.

Explicitly, the current situation is not a passive response to any pressure but an active shift effected by the peerless political acumen and strategic decision of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

To have a proper view on the current peninsula situation is indispensable for promoting global peace and stability.

It is here, we must remember not only the past U$ atrocities, like germ warfare, but recall the new strategic line of the DPRK, which focuses solely on the country’s planned economy, with a number of actions including ending weapons testing, a statement against “first strike” of nuclear weapons (only using them in self-defense) which is consistent with previous policy, and working to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. [4] This means that the DPRK has committed itself to a no-first use commitment, although Ellsberg, in his book, The Doomsday Machine, says on page 333, that any nation making a “threat of first use of a nuclear weapon…is a terrorist nation,” listing the U$, the murderous Zionist apartheid state, Russia, Pakistan, and the DPRK as examples, which seems to be conflating all of these together. In fact, the DPRK would not qualify in this category, with the U$ and Zionists, being the real terrorists without question, especially with recent repression by the Zionists against Palestinians.

The letter then says that:

You talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.

Let us not forget that the DPRK has made the initiative in the realm of disarmament, showing they are fully serious and committed, while they do not, rightly, want to accept “universal disarmament.” There have been journalists from the ROK who visited the dismantling of the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site on May 24th, which was destroyed by “impressive” explosions, as one journalist on the scene described it, while he retained his Orientalist mindset. [5] This was something that the orange menace once called “smart.” Beyond that, the Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK recently issued a statement explaining what happened when the Punggye-ri site was dismantled before the eyes of the world:

True to the decision of the Third Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK held a ceremony for completely dismantling the northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK on May 24 Juche 107 (2018), to ensure transparency of the discontinuance of nuclear test.

Dismantling the nuclear test ground was done in such a way as to make all the tunnels of the test ground collapse by explosion and completely close the tunnel entrances, and at the same time, explode some guard facilities and observation posts on the site.

It has been confirmed that there were neither leakage of radioactive materials nor any adverse impact on the surrounding ecological environment.

Complete closure of the area surrounding the nuclear test ground will come on the heels of successive removal of all ground observation facilities, research institutes and structures of guard units, and withdrawal of staff concerned.

It has been confirmed by local and international reporters that two tunnels at the nuclear test ground were ready for use for carrying out very powerful underground nuclear tests at any time.

The dismantling of the nuclear test ground conducted with high-level transparency has clearly attested once again to the proactive and peace-loving efforts of the DPRK government being made for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and over the world.

The discontinuance of the nuclear test is an important process moving towards global nuclear disarmament, and we will continue to join hands with the world peace-loving people in building a nuclear-free peaceful world, a new independent world where the dream and ideal of humanity are realized.

With this, it is no surprise that the leadership of capitalist Russia and revisionist China endorsed the meeting between the orange menace and Kim, as did revisionist Laos. In the meantime, DPRK diplomats visited China, undoubtedly to talk about the summit, in part, among other issues. This is despite the fact it seemed unlikely that the DPRK would fare better than Iran, a deal torpedoed by the U$ with the European capitalists barely hanging on, while the Iranians continue to suffer.

Since the negotiations on the meeting, the U$ apparently led some B-52 bombers to change their flight plans to not fly over the Korean Peninsula, but they haven’t given up anything else since the “USS Milius, one of the U.S. Navy’s most advanced guided missile destroyers, arrived in Japan…to reinforce defenses against any ballistic missile attacks by North Korea, or anyone else in East Asia” on May 22nd! Some have even pressured the current U$ administration to “confront the North Korean leader about his country’s aggressive hacking strategy,” a “fact” which is “proven” by the U$ intelligence establishment itself and accepted by the bourgeois media as “real” even though it is clearly fanciful considering that the DPRK only has an intranet, and no internet, making such hacking physically impossible and counterproductive.

It is here I recall what Daniel Ellsberg, the person who famously provided the Pentagon Papers to the bourgeois press, in 1971, showing the lies and deception during the war in Vietnam wrote in his recent book, The Doomsday Machine. Keep in mind that Ellsberg has, like former CIA consultant (and bourgeois scholar) Chalmers Johnson who wrote on the U$ empire in his four-part Blowback series, internalized many anti-communist ideals, believing that Josef Stalin was a “dictator as ruthless as Hitler” with the Soviet Union, in the post-war period, ruled “by a single party more cohesive and competent than the Nazi Party,” occupying half of Europe and having tremendous military strength. [6] Being a nuclear war planner for years, he discovered that between 275 million would be killed by nuclear war with the USSR and China immediately and 325 million over 6 months. He also found, horrifyingly, that basic elements of nuclear war have not changed, with nuclear weapons on “hair-trigger alert,” a continued first-use policy of the U$, and that U$ presidents have used nuclear weapons in many crises as a threat, like a “gun…pointed at someone in a confrontation, whether or not the trigger is pulled.” Ellsberg also says that the “hand” which can launch nuclear weapons has “never been exclusively that of the president, nor even his higher officials,” a policy going back to Eisenhower. This is coupled with false alarms and “catastrophic dangers” concealed from the public, which could result in nuclear war, as shown in the 1964 Hollyweird movie, Fail Safe, where a computer error leads to a nuclear bomb being dropped on Moscow and subsequently one on New York City, killing the President’s wife! He also writes that there was a doomsday machine in the “form of pre-targeted bombers on alert in the Strategic Air Command (SAC)” beginning in 1961, which expanded from there. After talking about his own personal experience as a nuclear war planner, he notes that nuclear warheads arrived in Taiwan and the ROK in 1958, along with in Japan  in the 1960s, a violation of the Japanese Constitution, and the safeguards were circumvented which allowed the U$ Air Force to easily launch nuclear weapons! This was connected to the fact that varied commanders in the Pacific, part of the Commander in Chief of Strategic Arms Command (CINCSAC), could launch nukes on their own authority “without the immediate prior involvement of the president”! At the same time, CINCSAC wanted to, if there was a nuclear war, nuke China even though there was the Sino-Soviet split, so they could gain their glory and be “part” of the “action.” By 1961, there were thousands of pre-planned nuclear targets which put “every city in the Soviet Union and China” in the crosshairs with at least one warhead “allocated for every city of 25,000 people or more in the Soviet Union” alone! Ellsberg writes that he was shown, in spring 1961, calculations of a computer model showing the effects of nuclear war launched by the U$:

…275 million would die in the first hours of our [U$] attacks and 325 million would be dead within six months…[not including] wounded and sick…this was for the Soviet Union and  China alone…another hundred million or so would die in Eastern European satellite countries…many[of the U$ nuclear weapons were aimed at]…air defenses and military  installations near cities…[with] subsequent bombers..dropped megaton weapons on radar stations, antiaircraft installations, and surface-to-air sites…in Eastern Europe [such as Albania]…most warheads in Eastern Europe, as elsewhere, were ground-burst, maximizing fallout. Fallout from our [U$] surface explosions in the Soviet Union, its satellites, and China would decimate the populations in the Sino-Soviet bloc as well as neutral nations bordering these countries…as well as Japan and Pakistan…fallout fatalities inside our Western European NATO allies from U.S. attacks against the Warsaw Pact would dependent on climate and wind conditions.

The total death count, he recalled, from U$ attacks was “in the neighborhood of six hundred million dead,” mostly civilians, generally inflicted in a day or two, the others over a six month period. Ellsberg then described a graphic showing death counts from a nuclear war with the Soviets and Chinese as a “depiction of pure evil.” Still, he admits that the total death count estimated in spring 1961 was a “fantastic underestimate” as it does not include fires caused by nuclear blasts, was was the case in Hiroshima, as John Hersey put it in his book of the same name. Still, in order to make sure that the nuclear missiles remained, a “missile gap” with the Soviets was imagined, lampooned in Dr. Strangelove, after the Soviet Doomsday Machine is activated by a nuclear missile hitting Soviet missile silo, as a “mindshaft gap.” Other parts of the book note how close the U$ and USSR came to war during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, with continued nuclear plans to kill millions of people with presidents objecting privately but never publicly which allowed the plans to continue, with a constant goal to decapitate the whole Soviet command system. The latter was at first only a private goal, then became part of the U$’s public anti-Soviet foreign policy. There were also nuclear threats by the U$ throughout the Nixon administration, especially in regards to Vietnam. He ends with some recommendations, saying the U$ and Russian (called “Dead Hand”) doomsday machines must end. For the U$, this involves a no-first-use policy, hearings on war plans, eliminating ICBMs, and giving up hegemony based on premise of nuclear weapons, among other aspects, even as he accepts some use of nuclear weapons to “deter nuclear attack on the United States and its allies”!

With this, there is no reason in the world that the DPRK should ever trust the U$ at face value, especially not in its current imperial posture!

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only the dialogue that matters.

This seems like a strange statement as they likely have never talked directly, even on the phone to each other, which Kim wanted to do with Obama during his presidency, as Dennis Rodman told the bourgeois media when he returned to the U$ after a trip to the DPRK, but it was rejected at the time. Kim has made varied references to a DPRK-U$ dialogue, the first on April 10 as Japan Times said at the time, but that is not his main concern. Rather he is concerned with improving the living standard of the Korean people, hence the new strategic line. Such dialogue between the U$ and DPRK was not very well developed. What I mean is that just last year, the U$ was utterly hostile in its rhetoric toward the DPRK, while this year, since Kim started his effort for inter-Korean cooperation, rhetoric improved, but there still continued to be a strong hardline, especially with people like Pompeo and Bolton as the advisers of the orange menace!

Some day, I look very much forward to meeting with you.

So the orange menace leaves open the door, but is this an empty promise? I am reminded here of a recent article in MintPress News by Mel Gurtov, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, who wrote that not only is the DPRK “not going to give up its principal bargaining chip and strategic deterrent in advance of receiving incentives” but they have “always demanded are security assurances and an end to “hostile” US policies,” wanting to know that they will not be attacked by the U$, and that they want “a road map to normalization of relations with the US…But…security comes first.” He further added that while “Trump has treated Kim with respect and even exaggerated politeness, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has had two apparently upbeat meetings with Kim,” there have been “ominous signs of trouble” from Bolton, a continued “US-South Korea exercise called Max Thunder” which is a “two-week drill involving B-52 bombers and F-22 Raptor fighter jets.” But he ended by with a recommendation:

…the barrage of criticism leveled exclusively at the North Koreans is unwarranted, and reminiscent of Cold War propaganda. Their views are being dismissed by one and all as typical of their trickery and deceit, when in fact they are well known. Wishful thinking is no substitute for a careful engagement strategy. Next time, the US side should better inform itself of the North Korean perspective and priorities, and listen when an adversary says that trust building requires a long-term process.

Of course, this will not be heeded by many, including giddy liberals who didn’t even want a one-on-one meeting, like former CIA director John Brennan or Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson. [7] Robinson, not surprisingly, was confused by the meeting, declaring the country “brutal,” “secretive,” and run by a “dictator” who “oppresses” his people. At the same time, the apologists of the orange menace think that he is “right” and “knows” what he is talking about, even though he doesn’t. The Korean people were optimistic, feeling they are turning a new page of history, but the U$ imperialists, of course, don’t feel this way at all! As Whitney Webb put it recently, “attempts to sabotage the Korea peace talks may also find support from elements within the U.S. government and military…[and] U.S. weapon manufacturers.” With the orange menace pulling out of the summit with Kim, he has allied himself with them, without a doubt!

In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.

While this is positive, the language of the orange menace is overly flowery and is what deluded liberals would undoubtedly call “childish” with phrases like “beautiful gesture” which seems a bit over the top. But, really, the orange menace is trying to appeal to his base, with 30-40% of the U$ populace still giving him support as varied polls in Gallup, Pew Research, and elsewhere indicate. After all, he can use this as a point to rally for re-election, declaring that he, the “great” president, released the prisoners. Also, they were not “hostages” but prisoners. He is in a sense, trying to equate those released to the Iran hostages held for 444 days as the Carter Administration refused to meet reasonable Iranian demands, and pose himself as Reagan, not Carter, of course.

If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.

Kim may write the orange menace, or the message may go through other intermediaries. Of course, the DPRK wants the sanctions to be lifted, a peace treaty, and security guarantees. It is good the orange menace is keeping the door open, but he is still acting like the onus is on the DPRK, rather than the U$ which took a hardline and this drew the Koreans away, not surprisingly, as they remember their history! They will not be fooled or hoodwinked. The U$ is not blameless for the canceling of this summit, but rather holds all the blame and the DPRK, defending its sovereignty and dignity, holds no blame whatsoever.

The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth.

This statement echoes his view that Kim would be able to stay as the head of the DPRK, declaring that “he’d be running his country. His country would be very rich,” without, of course, giving any specifics whatsoever of such “security guarantees.” [8] He also forgets that as Han Park, a “former unofficial US-North Korean negotiator” noted, the DPRK does not “want to be a small South Korea. They want the money, but not through capitalist, private-ownership means whatsoever. They don’t want to be like East Germany.” This is what the orange menace thinks they want, but they don’t want this at all. Still, some say the DPRK looks “remarkably similar to the Southeast Asian nation in 1986, when its Communist neighbor [Vietnam] undertook “Doi Moi” reforms to tiptoe toward capitalism.” [9] This is a worrisome sign, if a path similar to that of Vietnam, which recently rolled over and accepted the CPTPP, a trade agreement which benefits the global bourgeoisie and hurts the proletariat, being pursued, to say the least.

This missed opportunity is truly a sad moment in history.

While at some level it is sad for the Koreans, on another it is a defeat for the orange menace, as it makes the diplomacy of the orange menace look unorganized. It could provide ammunition for the Democratic Party domestically, while it also shows that Kim and the DPRK have the upper hand here, not the imperialists, showing the DPRK are in a strong position, at an advantage.

In the days to come, it is likely that inter-Korean cooperation will continue, while the DPRK will continue its internationalist path of non-isolation by working to connect itself with the world, even if it doesn’t engage in an “opening up” like the revisionists in Laos, Vietnam, or China, which has created a domestic bourgeoisie in each and turned these countries into revisionist havens for Western capitalists. Instead, the DPRK will undoubtedly pursue an independent policy like that of Cuba, standing in solidarity (and supporting) countries under imperialist attack like Venezuela and working to spread the ideals of Juche ideology worldwide in their continued efforts.

Long live the Korean proletariat!

Solidarity with the DPRK against U$ aggression!

Socialism, not capitalist mayhem!

Another world is possible!


Notes:

[1] Julian Borger, “Trump faces North Korea dilemma after Bolton infuriates Pyongyang,” The Guardian, May 17, 2018; “Bolton: Korea Deal Should Go to the Senate for Approval,” Red State, May 13, 2018. Reportedly, the strikes in Syria (another bout of imperial aggression), as noted by Jesse Johnson in an April 15th article in Japan Times, titled “As Kim-Trump summit approaches, Syria strikes evoke memories of Gadhafi’s gruesome fate for North Korea” were meant to “serve as a stark reminder to North Korea of the 2011 U.S.-led intervention in Libya that ended in the gruesome execution of its leader.”

[2] “Trump says meeting with DPRK’s Kim may be delayed,” Xinhua, May 23, 2018.

[3] “Kim Jong Un Inspects Completed Koam-Tapchon Railways,” KCNA, May 25, 2018.

[4] Robert Carlin, “Kim Jong Un’s New Strategic Line,” 38 North, Apr 23, 2018; Ruediger Frank, “The North Korean Parliamentary Session and Budget Report 2018: Cautious Optimism for the Summit Year,” 38 North, Apr 19, 2018; Jin Qianyi, “North Korea halts nuclear program in preparation for economic gains,” Global Times, Apr 15, 2018.

[5] “Trump Thanks North Korea for ‘Smart’ Move to Dismantle Test Site,” Bloomberg, May 12, 2018; “Statement of Nuclear Weapons Institute of DPRK,” KCNA, May 24, 2018;”DPRK receives list of S. Korean journalists to cover nuke test site dismantling,” Xinhua, May 23, 2018; Lin Xin, “Moon visits US amid uncertainty over Trump-Kim summit,” Global Times, May 22, 2018; Barbara Starr and Jeffrey Cohen, “US B-52 bombers changed flight plan after North Korea threatened Trump summit,” CNN, May 18, 2018; Eric Geller and Martin Matishak, “Trump pressed to put hacking on North Korean summit agenda,” Politico, May 19, 2018; “Leaders of South Korea and US discuss Pyongyang over phone,” TASS, May 20, 2018; “N. Korean diplomat arrives in China,” Yonhap News Agency, May 19, 2018; Tim Kelly, “U.S. bolsters Asia ballistic missile defense as Trump-Kim summit nears,” Reuters, May 22, 2018.

[6] Daniel Ellsberg, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner (Broadway, NY:  Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017), pp 2, 6, 11-13, 15, 16, 19, 20, 36-37, 42, 49-50, 53-54, 56, 62, 64, 68, 69, 70, 73, 74, 75, 77, 79, 82, 84, 85, 88-89, 94, 98, 99, 112, 117, 118, 124, 127, 136-137, 138, 139, 140, 142, 148, 153, 169, 185, 192, 203, 205, 211, 213, 215, 218, 265, 271, 299, 301, 305, 311, 312, 313, 334, 340, 342, 345, 349. These are all the pages information was obtained for the discussion of Ellsberg’s book. Also on 350 he talks about the “Soviet empire,” a Reaganite term.

[7] Cody Fenwick, “Ex-CIA Chief John Brennan Reveals How North Korea’s Kim Jong-un ‘Duped Trump’,” AlterNet, May 10, 2018; Eugene Robinson, “Lord save the world,” Washington Post, May 10, 2018; “North Korea: UN gains ‘unprecedented access’ during visit,” BBC News, May 12, 2018.

[8] Ayesha Rascoe, “Trump: Nuclear Deal Would Be Good For North Korea,” NPR, May 17, 2018; Michael Knigge, “North Korea does not want to be like East Germany,” DW, May 16, 2018; “Trump says “Libya model” not to be repeated on DPRK,” Xinhua, May 18, 2018. As noted in a Washington Post article on May 13, titled “Pompeo says U.S. assuring Kim that it does not seek his overthrow,” Pompeo also said that the U$ did not want to overthrow Kim.

[9] Shuli Ren, “Kim Could Make North Korea Samsung’s New Backyard,” Bloomberg News, May 13, 2018.

“Advancing the cause of socialism”: The DPRK and the Cuban Revolution

Che Guevara in the DPRK, December 1960, via Fuck Yeah Marxism-Leninism tumblr

In 1959 (Juche 48), the Cuban Revolution was victorious and rode to power with the fleeing of the autocratic Batista, a victory for the proletariat. The Republic of Cuba would soon be formed and have a socialist government, quickly allying with the Soviets, but still fighting to maintain their independence. Through all of this, the DPRK, which was, in 1959, 16 years old, began to become an ally of Cuba, learning from its experience.

In 1960 (Juche 49), Che Guevara visited the DPRK (pictured above), said that the government there was a model for “Fidel Castro’s Cuba to follow” with relations between the two countries established on August 26. [1] Even so, the DPRK felt that it wanted to “avoid Cuba’s dependency on Soviet weaponry” after seeing Khrushchev retreat from confronting the murderous empire during the Cuban Missile Crisis, as it transitioned toward a “military-first policy.” 56 years later, in 2016 (Juche 106), Pyongyang Times commemorated the establishment of relations in 1960, saying that both countries have supported each other over the years in “efforts to enhance unity and cohesion between socialist countries, expand the Non-Aligned Movement and safeguard global peace against the imperialists’ moves towards aggression and war.” They also added that “the Korean people regard the Cubans as their old comrades-in-arms and close friends and always extend full support and solidarity to Cuba’s cause of socialism,” further saying that both countries have “long maintained the traditional ties and deepened cooperation with each other” with the signing of protocol “on the economic, scientific and technological cooperation and exchange of commodities for 2016 as part of the efforts to promote bilateral exchange and cooperation in different fields.” As such, Pyongyang Times said that both Cuba and the DPRK, “will continue to strengthen mutual support and cooperation in a bid to realize their common ideal of socialism, upholding the banner of independence against imperialism.” That should be the ideal of all socialist states, even though the DPRK is a progressive state with socialist elements rather than a socialist state.

In 1980 (Juche 69), and again in 2016, the WPK and Communist Party of Cuba held talks to strengthen relations between the two countries, with their close relations “explained by a shared normative solidarity” against the murderous empire, which has occasionally “manifested itself in symbolically significant shipments of arms and manufactured goods.” Cuba had become “one of North Korea’s most consistent international allies.” Fidel visited the DPRK in 1986 (Juche 75), further looking to cement the ties between the two countries. Even if there was such a disagreement, likely in the 1980s, Kim Il Sung of the DPRK “sent us [the Cubans] 100,000 AK-47 rifles and its corresponding ammo without charging a cent,” after the Soviets failed to sent Cuba arms to defend itself from invasion, as Fidel  Castro wrote in 2013 (Juche 102). [2] With such statements, imperialists thought that arms were being “illicitly” sent from Cuba to the DPRK, trying to weaken the relations between the two countries.

After Raul Castro became the President of Cuba in 2008 (Juche 97), there seemed to be “signs” that the bilateral relationship between the DPRK and Cuba had strengthened, with claims of a “Cuba-North Korea arms deal” during the Obama years, not unfazed by the normalization of U$-Cuban relations which has been somewhat weakened by the orange menace. This has manifested itself in the fact that Cuba has stood in solidarity with JucheKorea,with trading of “sugar and railway equipment” between the two countries beginning in January 2016, along with “Cuba’s intelligence sharing and close cooperation with the DPRK” which some bourgeois analysts detest. Additionally, there are organizations such as the Cuban Committee for Supporting Korea’s Reunification and the Korean Committee for Solidarity with Cuba present in the DPRK, and quotes in Cuban newspapers backing the latter. [3] This is evident in papers like Rodong Sinmun, which noted in July 2017 that the “delegation of the Prensa Latina News Agency of Cuba led by President Luis Enrique Gonzalez Acosta visited Mangyongdae, the birthplace of President Kim Il Sung….The head of the delegation praised the President as a great revolutionary.”

On November 25th of last year there was a memorial service at Cuba’s embassy in Pyongyang”to mark the first anniversary of the death of Fidel Castro.” [4] To honor this, Kim Jong Un sent a basket of flowers, which were “laid at a portrait of the leader of the Cuban revolution” with the event attended by Kim Sung Du (chairman of the Education Commission and chairman of the Korean Committee for Solidarity with Cuba), WPK officials, those from the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries  the General Bureau for Affairs with Diplomatic Corps, and the Cuban ambassador Jesus De Los Angeles Aise Sotolongo, and his “embassy staff members,” along with other officials of the DPRK government. Additionally, the International Affairs Department of the WPK Central Committee, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Korean Committee for Solidarity with Cuba, and the  Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces all laid flowers. At the event itself, speakers said that Fidel was “a prominent political activist who had established a socialist system for the first time in the Western Hemisphere and devoted his all to the just cause of national prosperity, people’s well-being and independence against imperialism.” The article in KCNA on the subject also noted that last year, Kim Jong Un visited the Cuban embassy, in Pyongyang, “to express his deep condolences” over the death of Fidel (even declaring a “three-day mourning period” to pay tribute to himwhich is the same thing that Fidel did after the death of Kim Jong-Il) and “dispatched a high-level mourners’ delegation to Cuba.” [5] The same article also said the following about the strong ties between the two countries:

They [speakers at thee vent] reaffirmed that the baton of bilateral fraternal ties forged by the preceding leaders of the two countries would invariably be passed on for ever even if time passes and generation changes. The participants recalled the career of Fidel Castro who had performed distinguished services for victoriously advancing the cause of socialism and boosting the bilateral ties.

Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of DPRK, meets with President Fidel Castro of Cuba in September 2016. Over a year later, in November 2017, Raul Castro met with “Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ri Yong Ho” and others of the DPRK in Havana.

The relationship between Cuba and the DPRK is strong without a doubt. In November of last year, the foreign minister of  Cuba and the counterpart in the DPRK, “rejected the United States’ “unilateral and arbitrary” demands” as anyone with sense should. [6] These two ministers “strongly rejected the unilateral and arbitrary lists and designations established by the U.S. government which serve as a basis for the implementation of coercive measures which are contrary to international law” while also discussing “the respective efforts carried out in the construction of socialism according to the realities inherent to their respective countries.” This is nothing new. In June 2015, Raúl Castro hosted the WPK’s secretary of international relations, Kang Sok Su, while in September Kim Jong-Un received “Cuban Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel in Pyongyang” to give  an example  of their relations. [7] Such relations are vital since, reportedly, Singapore and Philippines said they would cut trade relations with the DPRK, showing that they have no backbone and are falling into the hands of imperialists. After all, Cuba, the DPRK, Iran, and Venezuela are part of the orange menace’s new “axis of evil.” With this, Fidel was right to say in 2013 that

…I had the honor of meeting Kim Il Sung, a historic figure, notably courageous and revolutionary. If war breaks out there, the peoples of both parts of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba has always been and will continue to be with her. Now that the country has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70% of the population of the planet. If a conflict of that nature should break out there, the government of Barack Obama in his second mandate would be buried in a deluge of images which would present him as the most sinister character in the history of the United States. The duty of avoiding war is also his and that of the people of the United States.

Now, although bourgeois media like The Guardian claimed that Fidel “gently admonished” the DPRK, but “used stronger language in addressing Washington,” the above quote shows it is more aimed at the U$ imperialists than anything else. [8] The relationship continues afoot, with Cuban embassy staff members, this year, visiting the “Pyongyang Maternity Hospital on January 5 to mark the 59th anniversary of the victorious Cuban revolution” and Cuban ambassador Jesus De Los Angeles Aise Sotolongo hosting a reception “on January 25 on the occasion of the 59th anniversary of the victorious Cuban revolution,” inviting “DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Ryu Myong Son, deputy department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, So Ho Won, vice-chairman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, and relevant officials.” The relations between the two countries will continue to grow, building upon Kim Il-Sung’s 1967 phrase that “it is an internationalist duty for
every revolutionary people to fight to defend the victories of the Cuban Revolution,” the sending of 200 technicians to Cuba in 1964 (and even more in 1969), the “solidarity farms with the Caribbean country,” the sympathy against the economic blockade on Cuba and for the “freedom of the Cuban Five antiterrorists.” [9]


Notes

[1] Samuel Ramini, “The North Korea-Cuba Connection,” The Diplomat, Jun 7, 2016; Benjamin R. Young, “Revolutionary Solidarity: Castro’s cozy relationship with North Korea,” NK News, Nov 18, 2016.

[2] David Iaconangelo,” Fidel Castro Says North Korea Sent Cuba Free Weapons During Cold War,” Latin Times, Aug 14, 2013; Mariano Castillo. Catherine E. Shoichet and Patrick Oppmann, “Cuba: ‘Obsolete’ weapons on ship were going to North Korea for repair,” CNN, Jul 17, 2013; “Cuba admits sending weapons to North Korea,” Al Jazeera, Jul 16, 2013.

[3] Lucy Williamson, “North Korea and Cuba: Allies in isolation,” BBC News, Jul 17, 2013

[4] KCNA, “Memorial service held for Fidel Castro,” Pyongyang Times, Nov 27, 2017.

[5] “N.K. declares 3-day mourning over ex-Cuban leader Castro’s death,” Yonhap News, Nov 28, 2016.

[6] Reuters Staff, “Cuba, North Korea reject ‘unilateral and arbitrary’ U.S. demands,” Reuters, Nov 22, 2017; Linley Sanders, “Cuba Backs North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in War On Trump: Havana Calls For ‘Respect For Peoples’ Sovereignty’,” Newsweek, Nov 23, 2017; Sarah Marsh, “Cuba and North Korea balk at ‘unilateral and arbitrary’ demands from the US,” Business Insider (reprinted from Reuters), Nov 23, 2017.

[7] Mary Anastasia O’Grady, “North Korea’s Cuban Friends,” Wall Street Journal (opinion), Jan 10, 2016; Robert Vallencia, “New Cold War? North Korea Strengthens Ties with Cuba After Threatening Nuclear Attack on U.S.,” Newsweek, Nov 17, 2017; Sarah Marsh, “Castro meets North Korea minister amid hope Cuba can defuse tensions,” Reuters, Nov 24, 2017; Sarah Marsh, “Cuba and North Korea hold anti-US meeting and reject Donald Trump’s ‘arbitrary’ nuclear demands,” The Independent, Nov 23, 2017; , “Trump’s axis of evil: Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea,” McClatchy, Jan 31, 2018.

[8] Associated Press in Havana, “Fidel Castro to North Korea: nuclear war will benefit no one,” The Guardian, Apr 5, 2013.

[9] Fekerfanta (a Spanish-speaking comrade),”Proletarian Nationalism of North Korea,” From Pyongyang to Havana, Aug 8, 2013. Translated webpage. Original webpage in Spanish. The latter two webpages have working videos. Other webpages by this comrade: “In Hostile Earth: North Korea. Jails and Manipulation” Feb 2015 about an anti-DPRK documentary and reality of DPRK (original page),  “Socialist Construction in North Korea” Dec 2014 post (original page), “Sistiaga, manipulation, and North Korea” Oct 2014 post (original page), “The popular democracy of North Korea” May 2014 post (original page), “The “dark night” of North Korea” Feb 2014 post (original post), “Manipulation against North Korea (2013)” Dec 2013 post (original post), “[2013] Socialist construction in North Korea” Nov 2013 post (original post), “Economic blockade against North Korea” Oct 2013 post (original post), “Persection of Christians in North Korea?” Jun 2013 post (original post), “Cities of North Korea III [Sariwon]” Apr 2013 post (original post), “Dismantling lies I: Haircuts in North Korea” Mar 2013 post (original post), “The women in North Korea” Mar 2013 post (original post), “Rural areas in North Korea” Jan 2013 post (original post), “[2012] Socialist construction in North Korea” Dec 2012 post (original post), “Cities of North Korea II [Hamhung]” Nov 2012 post (original post), “Traffic in North Korea” Nov 2012 post (original post), and “Disabled in North Korea” Oct 2012 post (original post). The Twitter of this comrade is active, the YouTube Channel of this comrade is not really that active, and the same can be said about the Facebook page.

Mansudae Overseas Projects spreads the ideals of Juche worldwide

Korean artist examining his work at Mansudae Art Studio. This photograph really shows the workplace well, unlike others. There are other photos of a statue under construction at Mansudae Art Studio and what the outside of the art studio looks like.

This article was revised, with an eye to self-criticism, on August 24, 2019.

In the heart of Pyongyang, in Jongphyong-dong, Phyongchon District, there is what some have called the “world’s biggest art factory” or likely the “largest art production center in the world.” This is the Mansudae Art Studio, which employs 4,000 people (who are male and female) 800 of whom are artists, with Mansudae Overseas Development Group launched in  the 1970s (Munsadae Overseas Projects or MOP is part of this group) as a subset of the studio, with this subset doing works for varying foreign countries, especially in Africa, while the studio as a whole does many works inside the DPRK, honoring the accomplishments of this progressive state. [1] The studio’s Italian liaison and representative of the studio to the “outside world,” Pier Luigi Cecioni, described it as “more of a campus than a factory, more of a studio, the biggest in the world.” More specifically, this art studio, founded on November 17, 1959 (Juche 48), has an area of “over 120,000 square meters, 80,000 of which indoor,” occupying an a 30 acre area, as noted by the firm’s English-language website, with Cecioni facilitating “the studio’s international sales of paintings, prints, and smaller works.” The studio itself is divided into

…13 creative groups, seven manufacturing plants and more than 50 supply departments. The artistic works produced at the Mansudae Art Studio range from oil paintings to bronze sculptures, from Korean Paintings (ink on paper) to ceramics, from woodcuts to embroideries, from jewel paintings (made with precious and semiprecious stones reduced to powder) to charcoal drawings and much more. The Mansudae Art Studio is…a very high-quality art production center. The vast majority of the major artworks of the country have been made by Mansudae Art Studio artists…[most of whom] are graduates of the very demanding Pyongyang University.

Furthermore, artists who work there are members of “state-run studio complexes” with every artist with a “formal ranking,” with the top art institute in the country being “the Pyongyang University of Fine Art with various sections: brush-and-ink, oil, sculpture, ceramics, mural painting and industrial arts.” Young artists who want to go into the university are selected, and “judged sufficiently skilled they will study here,” with a minimum of “five years study,” with a total of “around 150 students a year in the fine art department,” with students, after graduating “are selected by various art studios.” The art looks like “classic Social Realist propaganda,” while abstract painting is prohibited, rightly, “as it is deemed bourgeois and anti-revolutionary,” with a yearbook published every year cataloguing official art production. Artists working at the Mansudae Art Company, whom can be viewed by foreign tourists whom can view “small-scale ceramic sculptures,” work in small studios either with ink or even with oil paint, while other non-artist workers and technicians likely help with woodblocks (a specialty of those in the DPRK), helping production “at least 4,000 top level original works a year. Employees work a week with eight-hour days and are paid depending on the level of production, with art production, at least in 2011 (Juche 100), taking up 40% of the socialist nation’s budget, showing the importance that is put upon it. The studio produces 80% of the country’s art, with a typical artist producing “30 artworks a year, working four days a week,” with Fridays for community service, and their work critiqued by colleagues. However, as Rodong Sinmun makes clear, there are other art groups, like the Korean Central Fine Art Studio, Pyongyang University of Fine Art and Art Studio of the Ministry of Railways which produce works of significance, such as posters “dealing with the Party’s militant call for conducting a dynamic all-people general offensive to attain the five-year strategic goals with the might of self-reliance and self-development.” After all, just look at the architecture in the DPRK to show how important art is there.

One oil painter, Ho Jae-song, working for Mansudae, said that “normally artists work from Monday to Friday, but it depends on the individual artists and what they are doing,” with the artists normally visiting “many places to get inspired, pick up information and make studies” with their visit taking “a couple of weeks, even months,” with those who are members of the studio  proud of their work. BBC News even says that “these highly skilled craftsmen, largely anonymous, working for a higher good and not interested in profit inhabit a very different world from artists elsewhere” although they claim, as one would expect from such horrid media, many would not “envy” their work, in their typical propagandistic style. There are claims in bourgeois media that in overseas environments there are “poor working conditions…and the low pay” but this is undeniably slander.

Painters at the Mansudae Art Studio, as noted by Colors Magazine. Two female artists are working on the left, and two male artists on the right.

Of course, bourgeois media  and analysts declare works coming from MOP (and would undoubtedly say the same about the studio as a whole as well) are “propaganda” with a snarl, claiming it runs afoul of UN sanctions, scrutinized by the murderous empire and UN “experts” as bringing in “significant” money for the DPRK, with “large construction operations” led by Mansudae, with contracts drawn with said governments. Whether this is true or not, is unknown, but it shows that imperialists fear the influence of these monuments, some of which are 160 feet tall! Just take the words of a former IMF adviser, Naranhkiri Tith, who declared that the DPRK is commercializing Angkor Wat (the project there described in the next paragraph), declaring laughably that “I think anything that happens in Cambodia is not normal. That is why Cambodia is called the country of the absurd…North Korea, in my opinion, is another country of the absurd where the government is engaging in smuggling and many other illegal activities to survive.” [2] What the heck does this even mean? The bourgeois media cites clowns like this person all the time, with this being only one example of the Orientalist propaganda spewed by media every day. They definitely won’t mention that in 2013 (Juche 102), a Western named Oliver Laric became “the only individual…to have hired the Mansudae studio to create a private sculptural commission.” The museum in Angkor was the most “ambitious foreign project” for MOP, taking 63 artists, who were flown in the DPRK, “four months to paint the cyclorama,” with Yit Chandaroat, acting director of museums for Apsara, saying that “Mansudae has great talent and a good reputation in artwork, painting and construction,” which is undoubtedly the case. Even Nicholas Bonner, founder of Koryo Studio in Beijing who has worked with Mansudae for 20 years, said that “I don’t see this museum [in Cambodia] as an attempt to project soft power. Mansudae is a massive studio, and they need to keep working to bring revenue in from inside and outside of the country.” Mansudae’s official overseas gallery, called the Mansudae Art Museum is in “Beijing’s art district 798 Art Zone and has been holding exhibitions since 2009.” The head of this gallery, Zhengtai Ji, argued that “Now more than ever we need avenues like art to create understanding between North Korea and the rest of the world,” which is undeniably the case. Other bourgeois media claims that there is a huge market for artwork from the DPRK in China. If this is true, which is may because there was a showing of Mansudae artwork in Shenyang in 2015 (Juche 104), it would be a further reason for a studio there.

These Korean workers have constructed monuments across the African continent celebrating “the rise of young, independent African nations” by merging their style of “socialist realism with African nationalism” (some say they have a “Soviet style“) with historical connections between the countries the monuments appear and those which the DPRK supported national liberation. Currently, 17 African countries have monuments and structures built by these wonderful workers: Angola, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Togo, and Zimbabwe! [3] Asian countries being Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Western European country of Germany. In Cambodia, Mansudae constructed a “multimillion dollar culture and history museum in Angkor Wat” called the Angkor Panorama Museum, which opened in 2016, which will be run jointly by the Cambodians and those from the DPRK for ten years, then  handed over to Cambodia into its complete control by 2036. As for the African countries, one bourgeois academic, who has an anti-Korea sentiment to his work, even wrote that the monuments “celebrate the rise of young, independent nations” with Mansudae originally having the government of the DPRK as his client, with the latter company offering “cheap” and “attractive” prices to African governments. He adds that the monument in Namibia (National Heroes Acre) honors the fight against racist South Africans, the monument in Zimbabwe (also called National Heroes Acre) honors the fight against British oppressors, and a monument in the DPRK (in the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery) commemorates the fight against Japanese colonizers, with the victors “of each of these fights continue to rule the liberated countries and are basing their legitimacy on the independence struggles.” [4] In all, as one bourgeois “watcher” site for the DPRK noted, “Mansudae Overseas Development Group undertook to build bronze statues, monuments and other works of arts, and fit out buildings and parks in over 70 countries and regions,” claiming it brings in “needed” cash to the DPRK, not understanding it is done even more for the reasons of international solidarity. This is demonstrated by the statues, listed by the bourgeois Colors magazine, of

  • national heroes in Botswana (2005)
  • Joshua Nkomo in Zimbabwe (2010)
  • Mozambique’s first president, Samora Machel (2011)
  • Angola’s first president Agostinho Neto (2012, with production overseen by “Neto’s wife and daughter”)
  • the Tiglachin Monument for the then-Marxist Ethiopian government (1974)
  • the African Renaissance monument in Senegal (2010)
  • The Unknown Soldier representing Namibians who were killed during the independence war (2002)
  • the Monument to Laurent Kabila in the DRC (2002)

The bourgeois media claims that the DPRK has taken in $160 million (a number first floated by the anti-Korean Daily NK and repeated by bourgeois media) “in the last ten years thanks to the construction of sculptures and other edifices in countries across Africa,” saying it is a lot because of the country’s “per capita income.” [5] Yet, if we take the most recent estimated GDP (PPP) put forward by the CIA Factbook lets say, taking it for the sake of argument, being $40 billion, this project would be equal to .04% of that value! That means these projects are chump change generally but still enough to make the work worthwhile, not a big “cash cow” or “cash lifeline” as the bourgeois media likes to describe them, in their lying terms, like they do with everything related to the DPRK. So, what’s the big deal? It has to do with efforts to restrict this progressive state and limit its influence while capitalism continues to maintain its dominance across the world by strangling it. This is evident by the sanctions of the murderous empire levied by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in August 2017 (along with 15 other entities) against the Mansudae organization and in December 2016 the managing director of MOP, Mr. Tong-chol Kim, who was born on August 7, 1968, and a”Chinese subsidiary in Namibia” called Qingdao Construction. [6] That same year, the UN sanctioned the DPRK, in an investigation led by one “Hugh Griffiths” who seemed to be anti-Korean (i.e. his statement of “they’re doing an awful lot more than producing statues in Africa”) for Mansudae constructing statues, mainly in Africa, showing that the UN was serving the interests of imperialists and being utter racist, not allowing it to make wonderful “socialist realism” statues celebrating African liberation. Later in 2016 (Juche 106), the UN “blacklisted Mansudae Art Studio, subjecting it to a global asset freeze and travel ban,” further manifesting imperialist efforts to isolate the DPRK.

Choi Sang Kyun, head of Gallery Pyongyang, poses with a propaganda poster of the DPRK that he collected. Photo is courtesy of Reuters and reprinted by The Telegraph. The image here is used  here under the fair use exception to U.S. Copyright law.

With this, it is worth quoting Cecioni, who notes the value of Mansudae to the world: “I consider it very important to let people know that … North Koreans do not make only bombs but also art and are common people.” [7] Clearly, the imperialists don’t want the world to know this, which is why the studio is on the list of sanctions, with some artists going to the “Chinese border town of Dandong.” Cecioni also adds that those who work at Mansudae find “abstract and conceptual art…amusing” because they “don’t see it as necessary.” He also added that artists there “have an enviable position” because, “unlike a Western artist they don’t have to worry about selling their work” since they “have a salary…are recognized and have privileges” and ultimately “seem to live happily, they feel part of something.” That is definitely not the case in the capitalist West. In exclusive interview with horrid Vice, Cecioni told more about Mansudae, from his perspective,20 noting that in January 2006 (Juche 105) he became “the representative of the Mansudae Art Studio in the West” with one of the provisions of the agreement to “organize exhibitions of Mansudae Art Studio works in the West” and he has “returned to Pyongyang a few times, and Korean artists have come to visit in Italy.” [8] He added that

The vast majority of the best artists in the country are at the Mansudae. Practically all its artists have a university or a fine-arts degree. When a student distinguishes himself or herself at the university he or she is invited to join the Mansudae. Also, if an artist distinguishes himself or herself in another center he or she might be invited to join. It is a great honor to enter the Mansudae…From what I have seen, from about late elementary school through high school, in the afternoon, students may attend on a voluntary basis after-school programs and institutions in which they follow their interests which can be musical, artistic, sport, acting, and similar. My impression is that the training becomes really demanding at the university: North Koreans are very good and serious university students… The Mansudae Art Studio has a perhaps unexpected economic autonomy. The money that comes from our sales goes to the Mansudae Art Studio… The artists do not absolutely have big egos, nor are they humble. In a way, among the people I frequent, they all consider themselves equal, even though they are fully aware, in art, that some are better than others and that they have different positions work-wise. Western contemporary art in general does not interest them. In fact I saw them find it literally funny in the sense that they laughed at seeing some works, not with disdain but with true amusement. They are very much interested in classic art…I would not say that the purpose of all DPRK art is its political message. The socialist realism works represent North Korea in a positive light and, in a broad sense, want to inspire the viewers to have positive and patriotic feelings and celebrate, especially with some large sculptures and large paintings exhibited in public places, the leaders. The subjects are often related to work, a subject not common in the West. One particular form of socialist realism art are the posters. They are hand-painted, not printed, and they have political or social messages. Many are aimed against the US, seen as past aggressors or potential aggressors. Besides social realism, landscape paintings are very popular. Also paintings of flowers and nature in general. There are also many portraits, mainly of workers. But then there are so many kinds of art—sculptures, ceramics, embroidery, various kinds of paintings, woodcutting, calligraphy, and some others—that I cannot generalize.

Apart from this, in 2015 (Juche 104), a south Korean filmmaker Onejoon Che made a documentary named Mansudae Master Class, which attracted interest in Western  art circles, which undeniably has an Orientalist tone to it, since in an interview with him, he calls the DPRK a “dictatorship” and acts like they exploit Africans. [9] Basically, the country is again treated as a “curiosity” in undeniably racist terms.

Even with all of this, Mansudae was able to show their works, in 2007 (and again in 2014) in London, of all places, showing that the imperialist efforts to isolate the country aren’t working in slightest. The same was the case about Mansudae’s exhibition on Australia in 2009 (Juche 98), which was even covered by AP, with a 5-minute-video. Mansudae is following in the tradition of Korean history, with maps of Korea drawn in the 19th century which were “painted with watercolors” and are “wonderfully detailed [and] hand-drawn” maps, with these artists and loyal comrades with the same vibe with their work.


Notes

[1] Caroline Winter, “Mansudae Art Studio, North Korea’s Colossal Monument Factory,” Bloomberg Businessweek, Jun 6, 2013; Statues and ammunition: North Korea’s Africa connections,” CNN, Dec. 14, 2017; “North Korea’s ‘biggest’ export – giant statues,” BBC News, Feb 16, 2017; Thomas Gordon, “A North Korean art factory is making enormous statues,” Dazed, Aug 6, 2014; Hamish Macdonald, “North Korean embassy hosts art exhibition in London,” The Guardian, Nov 3, 2014; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Dec 26, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Dec 19, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Oct 12, 2017; “Floral Tributes Paid to Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Oct 11, 2017; “Floral Tribute to Statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Sept 11, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug 28, 2017; “Anniversary of Publication of Kim Jong Il’s Work Observed,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug 22, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug 17, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Jul 29, 2017; “Tribute Paid to Statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Jul 10, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Jun 21, 2017; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Apr 27, 2017; “Floral Tribute to Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Apr 17, 2017; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Feb 20, 2017; “22nd Paektusan Prize Sports Contest among Officials of National Institutions Closes,” Rodong Sinmun, Feb 18, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Feb 9, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Statues of Great Leaders on Lunar New Year’s Day,” Rodong Sinmun, Jan 31, 2017; “Pyongyang Ice Sculpture Festival-2017 Opens,” Rodong Sinmun, Jan 4, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il on New Year,” Rodong Sinmun, Jan 4, 2017; “Floral Tribute Paid to Great Leaders,” Rodong Sinmun, Dec 26, 2016; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Dec 20, 2016; “Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Oct 18, 2016; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Oct 12, 2016; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Sept 12, 2016; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug 27, 2016; “Floral Tribute to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Aug 17, 2016; “Floral Tribute to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, July 29, 2016; “Floral Tribute to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Jun 21, 2016; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Apr 27, 2016; “Floral Tribute to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Apr 16 2016; “Floral Tribute to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Apr 11 2016; “Floral Baskets Laid before Statues, Portraits of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Feb 18, 2016; “Floral Tributes Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Feb 11, 2016; “Floral Tribute Paid to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il,” Rodong Sinmun, Jan 2, 2016. In Angola, the studio has constructed the António Agostinho Neto culture center, Cabinda Park, and the Peace Monument along with a basketball stadium and athlete academic center “in the Congo, a government office building, Luba Stadium, and conference halls in Equatorial Guinea.

[2] Patrick Winn, “North Korea propaganda unit builds monuments abroad,” PRI (reprinted from Global Post), Aug 3, 2011; Amy Qin,  “An Art Powerhouse From North Korea,” New York Times, Jan 25, 2016; Guandong Hu, “Mine workers, idyllic landscapes, tigers: North Korean artists have made tens of millions of dollars for Pyongyang,” Quartz, Nov 14, 2017; Nicola Smith, “Flourishing North Korean art trade in China under threat from sanctions,” The Telegraph (reprinted in Yahoo! News) Oct 5, 2017; “North Korea’s Mansudae: The propaganda factory,” MSN News, Feb 17, 2016;

[3] Wikipedia, “Mansudae Overseas Projects,” accessed Feb 6, 2018, lists 11 African countries as places with monuments, but also says “as of 2015, Mansudae projects have been built in 17 countries: Angola, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cambodia, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Germany, Malaysia, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Togo, Zimbabwe”; Derek Henry Flood, “Symbolism merges for Mali and North Korea,” Asia Times, Feb 2, 2013; Statues and ammunition: North Korea’s Africa connections,” CNN, Dec. 14, 2017; “North Korea and the World” project by the East-West Center and the National Committee on North Korea (NCNK); Tycho van der Hoog, “North Korean monuments in southern Africa: Legitimizing party rule through the National Heroes’ Acres in Zimbabwe and Namibia,” Masters Thesis summary (archived here), Leiden University, July 1, 2017, full masters thesis (67 pages), accessed February 5, 2018, archived here; Nicola Smith, “Flourishing North Korean art trade in China under threat from sanctions,” The Telegraph, Oct 5, 2017; John Russell, “North Korean Art Market Growing,” VOA, Oct 10, 2017; Sebastian Strangio, “N Korea’s multimillion-dollar museum in Cambodia,” Al Jazeera, Feb 22, 2016. VOA claims that the DPRK has “built statues and markers in at least 15 African countries.” In the full masters thesis, van der Hoog claims he didn’t have time (or ability) to do research in Zimbabwe, but did research in Namibia, which had “old black and white photos of SWAPO officials who were visiting Pyongyang before independence,” further noting that “North Korea not only funded and supplied the liberation movements [in Zimbabwe and Namibia, but], high ranking officials also visited the Asian country and North Korean military instructors were active in the exile camps in Africa, where they trained guerrilla soldiers.” This academic specifically describes the memorials in Namibia and Zimbabwe. One site, says that “as of 2015, Mansudae projects have been built in 17 countries: Angola, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cambodia, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Germany, Malaysia, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Togo, Zimbabwe.”

[4] Other large projects in Namibia built by Mansudae include the “Independence Memorial Museum, the State House and a military museum in Okahandja” while in Zimbabwe, they also built a “grand statue of Joshua Nkomo in Bulawayo,” in Angola they have engaged in “56 construction projects” as one bourgeois scholar points out. It is claimed that Mansudae “has an office in Windhoek” although this relies on the UN report which only took information from 9 African countries, with 43 not submitting “the required National Implementation Reports,” which the bourgeois scholar still thinks gives the report legitimacy! He also claims that “among the African countries that are often mentioned as hosting North Korean laborers are Algeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Libya and Nigeria.” They also argue that the DPRK “may form an inspiration for Namibia and Zimbabwe, and other countries.” One article in bourgeois media says that Other North Korean statues, mostly of African revolutionary leaders, were sold to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Benin and Congo” (Kevin Shieff, “North Korea’s surprising, lucrative relationship with Africa,” Washington Post, Jul 10, 2017).

[5] “Mansudae Overseas Development Group Projects,” North Korean Economy Watch, Jun 23, 2010; “Foreign Currency Earning Constructions in Africa,” Daily NK, Jun 21, 2010; “Korea, North,” The World Factbook, CIA, accessed Feb 5, 2018; Kevin Shieff, “North Korea’s surprising, lucrative relationship with Africa,” Washington Post, Jul 10, 2017.

[6] U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Center, “Treasury Targets Chinese and Russian Entities and Individuals Supporting the North Korean Regime,” Aug 22, 2017, accessed Feb 5, 2018, it was later reprinted by the US Embassy in Russia; “Notices,” Federal Register, Vol. 82, No. 164, Friday, Aug 25, 2017; U.S. Department of the Treasury Press Center, “Treasury Sanctions Individuals and Entities Supporting the North Korean Government and its Nuclear and Weapons Proliferation Efforts,” Dec 2, 2016, accessed Feb 5, 2018; John Bat, “Treasury slaps new sanctions on groups allegedly supporting North Korea,” CBS News, Aug 22, 2017; “Notices,” Federal Register Volume 82, Number 164, Friday, Aug 25, 2017; Bill Gertz, “U.S. Sanctions Chinese, Russians for Illicit Trade With North Korea,” Free Beacon, Aug 23, 2017; “Sanctions on North Korea Inc. Hit Kim’s Secretive ‘Office 39’,” Bloomberg News, Aug 10, 2017; Guandong Hu, “Mine workers, idyllic landscapes, tigers: North Korean artists have made tens of millions of dollars for Pyongyang,” Quartz, Nov 14, 2017; Sue-Lin Wong, Giselda Vagnoni, Fanny Potkin, “White tiger, dark horse: North Korean art market heats up,” Reuters, Oct 4, 2017; Nicola Smith, “Flourishing North Korean art trade in China under threat from sanctions,” The Telegraph, Oct 5, 2017; Reuters, “North Korea’s art market is on the rise despite UN sanctions,” New York Post, Oct 5, 2017; Liu Zhen, “8 ways North Korea evades UN sanctions,” Business Insider (reprinted from South China Morning Post), Sept 19, 2017; Eric Talmadge, “Statue export ban hits at Pyongyang’s soft power, hard cash,” AP, Dec 27, 2016; Salem Solomon, “Sanctioned and Shunned, North Korea Finds Arms Deals in Africa,” VOA, Mar 22, 2017; U.S. hits Chinese and Russian companies, individuals with sanctions for doing business with North Korea,” Washington Post, Aug 22, 2017; Xi En Lee, “North Korea still has plenty of options as it faces new sanctions and a frosty Beijing,” CNBC, Nov 23, 2017; Steve Allen, “4 Ships Banned from All Ports for Violating NKorea Sanctions,” Newsmax (reprinted from AP), Oct 9, 2017; “Kim Jong Un’s personal ‘slush fund’ known as ‘Office 39’ hit by sanctions,” Washington Post, Aug 10, 2017; “North Koreans ban statue exports” (title is totally inaccurate, the UN banned the exports, not the DPRK), Sun Gazette, Feb 6, 2018. The latter article said that Mansudae “has generated an estimated 38,000 statues and 170,000 other monuments for domestic use and, according to the website of its overseas representative office, it is divided in 13 creative groups, seven manufacturing plants and has more than 50 supply departments.” One Treasury Dept report claimed that “the Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies has been reported to conduct business in countries including Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Benin, Cambodia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Senegal, Syria, Togo, and Zimbabwe.”

[7] Sue-Lin Wong, Giselda Vagnoni, Fanny Potkin, “White tiger, dark horse: North Korean art market heats up,” Reuters, Oct 4, 2017; John Russell, “North Korean Art Market Growing,” VOA, Oct 10, 2017; Lawrence Pollard, “North Korea’s biggest export? Giant statues. To African dictators,” PRI (reprinted from BBC News), Feb 17, 2016; David Sim, “Cash-strapped North Korea turns to art to beat sanctions, but all that is about to change,” International Business Times, Oct 4, 2017.