“Slaughter and bloodshed in Syria”: an imperialist act of aggression

One of the victims of the imperialist US airstrike. Courtesy of SANA.

The Syrian Arab Republic is under attack! Yesterday afternoon, two US destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Al-Shayrat Air Base, in Homs Province, with the US government claiming, falsely, that this was where a chemical weapons attack had been initiated. [1] This strike, deemed a “vital national security interest” by the Trumpster himself, rests on the idea, reminiscent of Bush’s attacks on the Republic of Iraq in 2003. The  top echelons of the war machine once again claim that “there can be no dispute” that Syria carried out a chemical weapons attack, and that there is a “high level of confidence” of Syrian involvement, with the US striking the air base’s logistics. [2] At the same time, oil man Tillerson has reversed his more reasonable position that BasharAl-Assad’s “long-term status” should be determined by the Syrian populace to calling for outright regime change. More dangerously was not Trump’s predictable argument that past approaches to Assad “failed very dramatically” or that Trump is contradicting himself by opposing Obama’s war in 2013 and now authorizing similar action, but that Russians were at the air base hit by US missiles! [3] This portends that there will be a wider war. This is hinted by a number of facts.  For one, 900 marines, Army Rangers, and other troops are currently in Syria, which may include or add to the 279 Military and Civilian Personnel who are currently in Syria. [4] It is not known whether they were participate in this war or not. Regardless, Trump is a clear warmonger, engaging the same strike plan Obama readied in 2013, building on the imperialist Obama legacy of eight years.

While I am aware that this war is a distraction from Trump’s fascist agenda to cut down funding for social services, support police murders, greenlight pipelines like Keystone XL and Dakota Access, among many others, that trample on the rights of indigenous people, and many other horrors, I do think this deserves some treatment so this war can be effectively written about, the bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives can be exposed, and an anti-imperialist strategy forward to oppose a war that the capitalist class is giddy about can be proposed.

The reasons for war

Like in Bosnia (1999), Iraq (2003), Libya (2011), and many actions since, this war has a humanitarian reason behind it. While this military action is hypocritical since the US coalition killed more civilians than Russia or ISIS (called Daesh in the rest of this post) last month, that the amount of explosives in Syria and Iraq will take 40-50 years to clean up, and that this missile strike is one of the many US military forays in the 21st century, with this one putting the US in a proxy battle with Russia’s military, the Pentagon doesn’t seem to care about these consequences. [5] On April 4, the Trumpster declared that the “chemical attack in Syria” was “reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” saying that the actions by the “Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution,” claiming that Obama’s administration “did nothing” (not true), and going on to say that the US “stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack.” While this is typical imperialist boilerplate, it should be debunked right here and now.

While the narrative pushed by the Western capitalist government and compliant media claim that Syria is responsible for the attack on Apr 4 in Idlib, indications seem to say this isn’t the case. Even the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) showed itself to be an organ of imperialism when it declared that “the Syrian regime [needed] to stop using the war machinery, torture and killings against its own people.” Apart from the rush to judgment in this case, the Russian narrative that the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) bombed a terrorist stockpile with chemical weapons, which they didn’t know were in there, seems compelling and credible. [6] This is made further ridiculous by the fact that Syria has already destroyed their chemical weapons stockpile and even if they did, they wouldn’t use them. They have done so in compliance with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is still investigating the attack as I write this. Recently, Russia stood up for Syria in the UN Security Council by stopping a Western-backed resolution on the chemical weapons attack which presumes that the “guilty” party (who they peg as Syria) cannot be allowed to be innocent, leaving countries like Iran to call for disarmament of all terrorist groups in the country, something the West won’t dare to say.

By April 6, the foundation was set for war. When asked about military action in Syria, Trump gave no specifics to the compliant media, only saying that “what Assad did is terrible…what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes,” indicated that he may talk to Russia in the future about it, and declared that “what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity. And he’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so something should happen.” Such vagueness was in line with the new Pentagon position to not reveal how many troops are fighting Daesh, with 3,825 in Iraq and 300 in Syria, as of June of last year, the latest numbers. It also is reminiscent of Trump’s “secret plan” to defeat Daesh that he “didn’t want to reveal” during the presidential campaign.

In his speech later that day at his lush resort in Mar-A-Lago, a show of how he is a fascist capitalist, Trump showed that he is a murderous imperialist just like the presidents before him. He called Bashar al-Assad a “dictator,” saying that he was responsible for killing “lives of helpless men, women, and children” and declaring that he ordered “a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched” which he said was a “vital national security interest” of the US, along with declaring that Syria used “banned chemical weapons,” violated the Chemical Weapons Convention, that previous attempts to change “Assad’s behavior have all failed,” and called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.” It is this speech that the title of this article comes from, although I twisted his phrase to use it in an anti-imperialist manner rather than an imperialist one. He ended with a typical religious message, claiming ridiculously that as “long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.” Anyone with sense knows this is an utter lie, that the US empire is a ravenous, blood-sucking beast.

Later that day, oil man Tillerson, the Secretary of State, and war criminal McMaster, the National Security Advisor, gave a wide-ranging press conference. Tillerson spoke to the media, knowing that they were not adversarial, declaring that there had been two “chemical attacks” carried out by the Syrian govt. on Mar. 25 and 30th, saying that the US government had a “very high level of confidence” this was the case, sounding eerily like the arguments for the Iraq invasion in 2003, part of the first thirty year war on the country (1991-2011). He went on to blame Russia for being responsible for not following UN resolutions, claimed laughably that Assad is “normalizing the use of chemical weapons” (no, the Western-backed terrorists are), arguing that the strike was  “proportional…against this heinous act,” said that the US government did not have any “discussions or prior contacts” prior to the attack with Moscow or Putin, saying that the US operated under “military de-confliction agreements in place with the Russian military.” If this wasn’t enough, he went on to expect that the Kurds and Turks would applaud the action while Bashar al-Assad and Russia, would oppose it, saying that the US wants to “stabilize areas in the south of Syria…Restore them to local governance,” use the Geneva Process to “resolve Syria’s future in terms of its governance structure,” and push out Assad, and said out right that “our target was this airfield and the Syrian regime.” This is just imperialist rhetoric, but it could indicate a broader war in the future. McMaster, also the NSA Director, had a lot to say as well. He noted that the attack had been two days of planning, repeating that the US had a “very high degree of confidence precisely where the location originated, and…the sort of chemicals that were used in the attack” thanks to the intelligence community, going on to give a vague story of “three options” available to Trump, but no specifics, and claiming that “the regime will maintain the certain capacity to commit mass murder with chemical weapons we think beyond this particular airfield,” when those committing mass murder is really the murderous US empire. McMaster went on to say that “this was not a small strike,” claimed widely that there had been “50 chemical attacks previously, post-2013, when the U.N. resolution went into effect,” saying that this was “entirely a U.S. operation” did not have “Russian permission” (why would it?)

So apart from the imperial lies and distortions, it is important to recognize the consequences of this murderous action by the Trump administration.

The consequences of international murder

As the Russia hacking narrative seems to fade away into the wind or at least will be pushed away by war, people are suffering from US military aggression in Syria. Before getting to that, it must be recognized that this came at a time that US military aggression in Yemen is increasing, with a US-made famine, a new US drone policy has been declared, more money has been set aside for war, and the SAA is advancing in its fight against Daesh, with the liberation of Aleppo most notably, as the US engages in varied war crimes. [7] So, this was comes at an opportune time. With low approval ratings of Trump’s presidency from Gallup and Pew Research Center, among others, reported relatively recently, the war provides a way for Trump to take advantage of the rally ’round the flag effect to boost his approval rating. Also, it is undoubtedly a distraction, like all wars are, and a way to flex US muscles.

Each of 59 the 2,900 pound Tomahawk missiles, hit “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars” at the Al-Shayrat Air Base, as the Pentagon claimed, backed up what they implied was “actionable intelligence.” [8] Early indications are that six to nine people, including four children and three SAA soldiers, were killed, with the Syrian media now saying that 20 were injured and one killed, but there is no doubt that this strike makes the US partner of the Western-backed (and Gulf-backed) terrorists within Syria, with unfounded claims by “experts” in the Western bourgeois media. [9] There are questions whether most of the missiles were shot down, but indications seem to say this was not the case. What is clear is that the air base attacked by US missiles had 45 airplane hangers, which were very fortified, reportedly used by Russian jet fighters, along with helicopter gunships, all to fight the terrorists within the country, Daesh and its affiliates. [10] Global Security described more of what the base had:

“…military ammunition and equipment warehouses…fuel materials storage…In 2015, Russia expanded the runways to accommodate Russian aircraft. The forces of the 50th Air Brigade, in particular the 677th and 685th squadrons of the Su-22M3/M4 fighter bombers and the 675th squadron of the MiG-23ML/MLD fighter jets, were based there. Some of the MiG-23s had not moved for many years and obviously were in a state of incapacity. Taking into account losses for previous years, probably, there could be about one and a half dozen of the combat-ready Su-22s at the airbase at the moment of the missile strike…In February of 2016, the Russian military doubled the number of attack helicopters stationed at Shayrat…Russia’s 120th Artillery Brigade with six 152 mm 2A65 Msta-B towed howitzers was deployed at a Syrian Arab Army base to the south of the airbase. There are reports that the Russians also allowed Iranian Air Force squadrons to utilize the facilities.”

In sum, apart from the smoke and broken fences, the damage was extensive: “runways, refueling stations and MiG-23 planes in their hangars” were destroyed, as Russian air defense systems ‘did not act as the Tomahawk cruise missiles flew past them.” One assessment said that “some 20 Syrian waplanes have been destroyed by US cruise missiles.” ISi, a satellite imagery company, said on a webpage which is sadly only available through Google cache, the following:

“…the total of 44 targets [were] hit. Several targets may have hit twice…An in-depth examination of the damage to the objectives shows that 13 double hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) got 23 hits. 5 workshops got hit.  The workshops are not necessarily related to WMD, but to aircraft and their ability to do maintenance and fly…Ten ammunition storages got hit. Seven fuel reservoirs of the AFB got hit at two sites with eight hits total. Two locations remain untouched. One SA6 Battery utterly destroyed along with its radars and control systems. In total, five SA6 Battery elements hit…The results show that the target hits were accurate and that the Tomahawks have been used effectively against quality targets. Although 58 missiles hit the base, it seems that the overall damage to the base is limited because the warhead of the Tomahawk is not considered large”

To get to the point, the base that was bounded was used to fight Daesh, so it only an unsurprising coincidence that ISIS would attack the airbase AFTER the missile attack (also see here). Its almost like they knew it was going to happen. So in that way, the US attack, which is aggression and an act of war, seems aimed at stalling the Syrian anti-terrorism effort.

Other consequences are as dire. Attempts to keep in place the UN ceasefire, will be harder than ever. Also, relations between the United States and Russia will become more frayed. With Russia suspending a 2015 agreement of military cooperation with US, condemning US military strike as “aggression against a sovereign government,” there were also claims that the US-Russia communication line was cut, although this was just rumors and untrue since the US contacted the Russians before the missile strikes. [11] Beyond this, Russia has pledged itself to shore up Syria’s air defenses, gave its military bases enhanced air cover, and sent a warship bound for Syria’s port of Tartus. The US, with this aggression, is dangerously close to a military clash with the Russian military, as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday, saying that the strikes were “one step away from military clashes with Russia. President Putin views the U.S. strikes on Syria as aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law and on a made-up up pretext. This step by Washington will inflict
major damage on U.S.-Russia ties.” [12] The Russian Foreign Ministry put out an even broader statement condemning the attacks:

“The United States conducted strikes against Syrian government troops in the early hours of April 7, using chemical weapons attacks in Idlib Province as a pretext. The US opted for a show of force, for military action against a country fighting international terrorism without taking the trouble to get the facts straight. It is not the first time that the US chooses an irresponsible approach that aggravates problems the world is facing, and  threatens international security. The very presence of military personnel from the US and other countries in Syria without consent from the Syrian government or a UN Security Council mandate is an egregious and obvious violation of international law that cannot be justified. While previous initiatives of this kind were presented as efforts to combat terrorism, now they are clearly an act of aggression against a sovereign Syria. Actions undertaken by the US today  inflict further damage to the Russia-US relations. Russia has expressed on numerous occasions that it was ready to  cooperate on resolving the most urgent issues the world is facing today, and that fighting international terrorism  was a top priority. However, we will never agree to unsanctioned action against the legitimate Syrian government  that has been waging an uncompromising war on international terrorism for a long time. Seeking to justify military  action Washington has totally distorted what had happened in Idlib. The US could not have failed to grasp the fact that the Syrian government troops did not use chemical weapons there. Damascus simply does not have them, as confirmed a number of times by qualified experts. This was the conclusion reached by the Organisation for the Prohibition of
Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Over the recent years this organisation inspected almost all the facilities linked or possibly linked to Syria’s chemical weapons programme. As for Idlib, the terrorists operating there used to produce toxic land mines intended for use in Syria and Iraq. These manufacturing facilities were put out of operation in a military operation carried out by the Syrian air force. The US pretends that it does not understand obvious things, turning a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons in Iraq, officially confirmed by Baghdad. The US refuses to believe the evidence provided by certified documents confirming the use of chemical weapons by terrorists in Aleppo. In doing so, the US is abetting international terrorism and making it stronger. New WMD attacks can be expected. There is no doubt that the military action by the US is an attempt to divert attention from the situation in Mosul,  where the campaign carried out among others by US-led coalition has resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties and an escalating humanitarian disaster. It is obvious that the cruise missile attack was prepared in advance. Any expert understands that Washington’s decision on air strikes predates the Idlib events, which simply served as a pretext for a show of force. Russia suspends the Memorandum of Understanding on Prevention of Flight Safety Incidents in the course of operations in Syria signed with the US. We call on the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the latest developments.”

With the UN Security Council meeting on the missile strike, which I’ll discuss in the next section, there is no doubt that this war will not get any easier, even with Mossad supporting US imperialism with their false claim that Syria engaged in chemical weapons attack, and Russia standing by Syria. [13]

The condemnations and international reaction

First and foremost, the Syrian government rightly condemned this imperial act of aggression. The People’s Council, or what is called the “People’s Assembly” in Syrian state media, with Hadiyeh Khalaf Abbas as its speaker, condemned the missile strikes, saying that “this blatant aggression came in defense of the collapsed terrorist organizations and in an attempt to revive them since that Israel failed to carry out this mission before…This new US aggression…reveals again the falsity of the US allegations on combating ISIS terrorist organization.” Additionally, Bouthaina Shaaban, the Presidential Political and Media Advisor, criticized the action as contradictory, the Syrian military said that the attack makes the US partners of Daesh, and duly elected President Bashar al-Assad argued that the attack was “an unjust and arrogant aggression…an outrageous act that clarifies in conclusive evidence once again what Syria has been saying that the succession of administrations of this regime does not change the deep policies of its entity which is represented by targeting states, subjugating peoples and the attempt to dominate the world.” Syria was not alone in this condemnation, with many countries showing their solidarity.

Iran and Russia were the main countries that condemned the attack. For Iran, they argued that US strikes were unwise, dangerous, destructive, and violate international law with one Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani, saying that it is an “utter lie” Syria engaged in chemical weapons attack and “anti-US” slogans shouted at Friday prayers. [14] For Iran, the attack is worrisome because the possibility of a war with Iran looms larger than ever. The US is, as Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, put it, the US is “fighting on same side as al-Qaida & ISIS in Yemen & Syria.”

As for Russia, as previously discussed, condemned the attacks as aggression, saying that they will help bolster Syrian military defenses. Before April 6 meeting of the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov argued that

“It has come down to us that we do not cover the regime, but that we are in the country at the invitation of a legitimate government and that we are conducting an anti-terrorist operation there. Therefore, if there is a national point of view, it should remain within the national framework, and not be presented as truth in absolute authority…We will review the information, but we do not forget that on April 5, 2003, preparing the ground for the war in Iraq, General Powell, then the US Secretary of State waved a test tube with anthrax. Speaking of intelligence about the…types of WMD which in Iraq have never been found…They are trying through their project to gain access throughout Syria. This is unclear, because the investigation must be conducted at the crime scene.”

The embattled Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela showed their solidarity. Their Ministry of the People’s Power for External Relations issued a similar, statement, actually talking about US imperialism unlike the Russians:

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela rejects the unilateral attack, contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, perpetrated by the United States of America against the Syrian Arab Republic, by launching missiles at the Syrian air base Ash Shairat in the Province of Homs, yesterday. Venezuela points out that neither the United Nations nor the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have yet reported the results of their investigation into the chemical weapons incident on 4 April Resulted in a tragic loss of 86 deaths and dozens of injuries. The Venezuelan Government condemns the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons by any country, person or entity, in any part of the world, whatever the circumstances and the reasons. It is deeply concerned that imperial factors justify and legitimize military interventions by endorsing actions by terrorist and extremist groups to the Syrian government through false positives. This attack has also allowed the logistical reconstruction of the terrorist groups, who then attacked the Syrian national army. The US attack on the Syrian Arab Republic constitutes an aggression to the sovereignty of this country and violates the principles and purposes of the UN Charter, such as the principle of territorial integrity, self-determination of peoples, non-interference in matters States and sovereign equality. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates its deep friendship with the sister Syrian Arab Republic, a member of the Non-Aligned Movement (Mnoal), and reaffirms its commitment to all political and diplomatic efforts for the sake of peace. Syria, respecting its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

Likely, the DPRK will soon voice their solidarity as well after Syria opposed imperial machinations in the Korean Peninsula aimed against Iran and because of the cordial relations between the two country, along with their brotherly solidarity.

At the U.N. Security Council’s Meeting on U.S. Airstrikes in Syria today, streamed live by C-SPAN, numerous member states spoke out against imperial aggression. Bolivia’s representative gave an impassioned speech to UN Security Council, saying, while holding up a picture of Colin Powell, that

“Now the United States believe that they are investigators, they are attorneys, judges and they are the executioners. That’s not what international law is about…I believe it’s vital for us to remember what history teaches us and on this occasion (in 2003), the United States…affirmed that they had all the proof necessary to show that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction but they were never found… never were they found”

As for Russia, they opposed war, as did Senegal, although the latter’s reasoning was weak, sounding like an imperial puppet state. As for Kazakhstan they supports negotiations, doesn’t want ceasefire to go away and opposes war, saying
sovereignty of states must be respected, and said that OPCW is working with Syrian govt., Ethiopia said that if situation worsens the Syrian state could collapse,
terrorists win, we need to be wise now, and have good statesmanship. UK, France, Sweden and Ukraine’s representatives supported the airstrikes, even though the Swedish ambassador wounded if the US strike follows international law. Then there was horrid Nikki Haley, who happened to be the chair of this meeting of the UN Security Council, for some reason. She claimed widely that the Syrian government has murdered hundreds of thousands, said it is “beyond a doubt” that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, claimed that US “destroyed the airfield.” She went on to say that that the Syrian government engaged in “crimes against humanity,” that Iranian andRussian governments have a major responsibility for attack, and that US doesn’t want to strengthen Assad but this will lead to “more murder.” Her charges went further, declaring thar Russia is lying about chemical weapons, that US strikes are “measured” but they are “prepared to do more” and they want a “political process” to push Assad out. The Syrian representative arguably had one of the best speeches apart from the one by Bolivia’s representative. He argued that the US engaged in a “barbaric act of aggression,”leading many to be injured and wide-ranging damage, that the US has used false pretexts of chemical weapons, the very same pretext used by terrorists and their supporters in the West. He went on to say that Syria does not have chemical weapons and has not used them, that terrorists had chemical stockpiles, that the illegal American aggression violates UN charter, and that this is a grave extrapolation which came out of US covert assistance to opposition groups. He went further to say that the US has become
a partner of terrorists, trying to weaken SAA and its allies, with this action saving Al-Nusra after grave damage by SAA,and that the US,UK, and France, are spreading the same sorts of lies they used to attack Iraq. He ended by mentioning the Colin Powell speech, saying that US is using fabricated information for attack, saying that US wants to target states and assert their hegemony across the world, that the West haven’t cared about human rights for years, want hegemony and control of resources, and that this military action will lead to more chaos and threatens peace and security in the region. Right after this, Russia’s representative was recognized once again, saying that it is not right for other countries to insult Russia, like Nikki Haley. It was right after that the meeting is adjourned, with no more speakers.

With this open meeting showing broad opposition to US action, except from a few countries, who were US allies. This was bolstered by the fact that today, Moscow and Beijing proposed that “a United Nations panel investigating chemical weapons
use in Syria be extended to Iraq,” which was rejected by the UK, of course. For its part, China called for a UN investigation of the chemical weapons attacks on multiple occasions. These countries were not alone in their condemnations.

Numerous international organizations showed their solidarity. Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, said that they support any Syrian response to the US aggression. Hezbollah, also called the Lebanese Resistance, argued that the US missile strikes were a continuation of aggressive policy toward Syria “in the service of the Zionist entity and to achieve its ambitions in the region” and that it is a “stupid action by the Trump
administration will mark the beginning of a major and dangerous tension in the region and increase the complexity of the situation around the world.” The Syrian Communist Party- Bakdash, had one of the strongest statements against the imperial aggression:

This attack is a new step from the American imperialist aggression on our homeland Syria, which was preceded by the landing of American military units in the north-east of our country without any accepted justification in international law…This aggressive step comes in the context of imperialist and Zionist policy aimed at the depletion and division of Syria, which is a steadfast fortress in the face of total colonial domination over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Arab world in general…America is the largest international terrorist in the world. The Syrian Communist Party calls upon the masses of our proud people to close ranks more and more in the face of the imperialist aggression and to provide all support to our brave national army in its fierce battle against the aggressors and their accomplices from terrorist gangs. The Syrian Communist Party goes to the world progressive public opinion, to all the progressive and democratic forces, to the free world, in a call to denounce the American imperialist aggression on Syria and increase their solidarity with the Syrian national steadfastness that contributes effectively to the struggle of global liberation forces against imperialism and imperialism.

This was followed by a statement by the party’s Secretary General, Ammar Bakdash, toto Damascus Radio, saying the following, in part, in much stronger words:

“What happened today is a continuation of the American aggression on our country. This attack on a military base of the Syrian army is a continuation of the American aggression…This aggression proves once again what we have already pointed out that the main enemy of our people is American imperialism and its ally in the Zionist-Israeli region…America once again proves that it is the world’s greatest terrorist. It practices State terrorism against all the peoples of the world in accordance with its expansionist colonial interests…America has a consistent expansionist policy throughout the world, especially in our region, and all the disasters that have been taking place in the region and the tragedies that our people have been living for more than six years are mainly due to the policy of American imperialism. Our main enemy is America, which has never disappeared from the scene…Therefore, anyone who thinks that America can have a positive role in terms of the peace process in Syria, is also important, this is the catch of the wind, and the void of falsehoods. America is in its interest to subjugate the peoples of the region to its full dominion by setting up its chief agent, Zionist Israel, as an agent for this region.”

The Communist Party of Italy also condemned the attacks in similar terms, saying that Trump has “declared war…against a country already destroyed by a violent imperialist war by the US and NATO,” saying (translation of this one is not exact) that “the use of chemical weapons by Syria would be political suicide” and that the

“US military attack against Syria is nothing but an extension of the long and strategic imperialist attack against the entire Middle East region, horrendous and bloody attack that continues, unpunished for decades and has already seen complete destruction of Iraq, Libya and Syria, with hundreds of thousands of dead and missing, of entire peoples thrown into despair and hunger, destruction of entire nations…it is equally clear that the US and NATO, and believe they have done the dirty work in Iraq and in Libya…it must be remembered how, with a fierce apology and cynical, the US and NATO attacked Syria in 2011: then, a vast arc of forces…(USA, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the UK) invested politically and economically in the construction of “social movement orange” against Assad and even more invested in the construction of ” Free Syrian Army ‘against Assad, “Free Army” of 100,000 men who joined in the military struggle against the legitimate Syrian government, the jihadists of Al-Nusra Front and the militia of the Caliphate…now that Assad, backed by Putin’s Russia, fought back and defeated on the field is the ‘ “Free Army” imperialist that the Caliphate…the US attack again…Trump “promises” war everywhere. The danger of imperialist world war…it really is time that the communist forces, leftist, democratic, pacifist all, come back, joined in the field, to fight and to reconstruct what is missing too long: a struggle and mass movement against the war. Against the imperialist policies against rearmament and the exit from NATO…THE PCI is in the field, it will be in every street, to struggle and to build the broadest unity against the war.”

The the National Secretariat of the same Communist Party said something similar. They strongly condemned the war, saying that is no evidence that the Syrian military used chemical weapons, saying it “would be a political suicide for the Syrian
government,” that Trump has “threatened war against North Korea, he has threatened China. Now he has launched an attack on Syria.”  They further argued that

“A new wind of World War II threatens the world, driven by US imperialism. The struggle for peace is the first task of the communist forces, leftist, democratic. You need to rebuild a mass movement against the war, is now closer than ever. The PCI is in the field and calls on all progressive forces and anti-war unity.”

Within the United States, the Workers World Party (WWP), Answer Coalition, and the Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSL) professed their solidarity with the Syrian state and against US imperialism. The WWP argued that the US government reversed its position, with warmongers in Washington and their allies blaming the Syrian government for chemical attacks, saying that imperialist politicians, pro-war forces, and bourgeois press “reeked of another U.S. invasion and wider war,” saying that a similar pretext was used in Vietnam in 1964 and Iraq in 2003. The statement goes on to say that Trump “transformed before our eyes into the Clinton interventionist,” that the US stance reeks of hypocrisy. They further said that

“What smelled familiar about this lie wasn’t just the record of past wars. In 2012, Obama drew what he called a red line in Syria, the Damascus government’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Syria possessed chemical weapons as a deterrent to Israeli nuclear weapons…Obama’s statement encouraged the proliferation of chemical weapons among the reactionary contra forces…in 2013 a chemical weapons attack struck the Damascus suburb of Ghouta…Obama threatened a “no-fly zone”…The corporate media marched lockstep with the Pentagon…Russia negotiated the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons to appease the Western war appetite, a process overseen by international observers. The Syrian state no longer has any chemical weapons, yet the media nearly four years later continue to mimic the Pentagon’s argument, as if this had never happened…With Islamic State on its last legs, it became clear that the U.S. role on the ground in Syria would evolve…Those who mistakenly believed Trump would be  anti-intervention may find this change shocking. Those who understand the nature of U.S. imperialism knew it was inevitable….Often, the U.S.-led coalition struck Syrian soldiers, paving the way for IS advances…Syria today stands at the front line, defending itself against a massive imperialist assault. It is the last truly independent Arab state. For six years, Syrians have faced a multifaceted fight to the death against dozens of countries, yet they and their allies are closer to victory than ever before…It is the duty of those living in the belly of the beast, in the U.S., to unequivocally demand imperialist forces leave Syria. We have to combat bourgeois propaganda until our vocal cords are worn…The liberation of the workers and oppressed peoples in the U.S. is dependent on our ability to unite our struggles with the independence struggles of oppressed nations.”

The Answer Coalition and PSL had similar statements. The Answer Coalition declared that Trump’s administration is “waging a new war of aggression in the Middle East,” noted that Killary Clinton “emerged back into the public spotlight to demand that Trump carry out military strikes against Syria,” and that US “imperialist military actions  [are] against an independent, sovereign Middle Eastern government” under the pretext of “protecting civilians from weapons of mass destruction,” bombing the “secular government of Bashar al-Assad at the moment that the Syrian national army was defeating al-Qaeda, the so-called Islamic State and other terrorist armed organizations.” They go on to say that “every person in the United States should assume that the U.S. government, the Pentagon, and the CIA are lying when they seek to justify this new military aggression” and that these “military strikes…pose a grave danger of escalating into a regional or even global confrontation” since the Syrian government “has the support of Russia and Iran” and they called for anti-war protests across the country. The PSL reposted the same statement and it was also promoted by World Can’t Wait. Then there is the World Peace Council which denounced the imperial action, saying

“The World Peace Council denounces and condemns the recent missile attacks of the USA against Syrian targets on 6th April,as an act of further escalation of the imperialist intervention in Syria and the region, based on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun town near Idleb by the Syrian army, a crime with suspicious motives. The US bombing of Syria constitutes not only the violation of the principles of the UN Charter but is also the continuation of the US policies of the previous US administrations, now by the Trump administration…The WPC expresses its solidarity with the Syrian people and the peoples of the region for their rights to determine freely and without any foreign interference their fortunes. We denounce also the hyprocrisy and double moral of the imperialists, who support and/or carry out attacks on peoples and nations, driving hundreds of thousands to become refugees, and at the same time “shed tears” about the displaced people who run away for their lives. The WPC calls upon its members and friends to condemn the imperialist interventions and plans in the region and to express their solidarity with the peoples in need.”

Bourgeois progressives and libertarians also opposed the war. The socially democratic Green Party of the United States, condemned the attack, only for the reasons of not having congressional approval, international support, while Ajamu Baraka of the Green Party went further, saying that the “U.S. has no moral right to wage war on Syria.” Then, there was the people of CodePink. Medea Benjamin, of the latter organization, and Ann Wright, said that in 2013, “four years ago, massive citizen opposition and mobilization stopped a possible U.S. military attack on the Assad government of Syria,” said that “the U. S. military is already heavily involved in the Syrian quagmire,” and cited the Iraq War as an example. Of course, neither the Green Party peoples, Benjamin, or Wright declared their solidarity with the government of Syria or mentioned the word imperialism. This was reflected in the fact that CodePink blared out that there should not be a war in Syria, that war is not the answer, that there is congressional authorization, and rejecting US escalation, showing that they have a bourgeois analysis. The same goes for Katrina vandenHeuvel of The Nation‏, who only said there is no “military solution” to the “crisis” in Syria, Rep. Ted Lieu who opposes US war in Syria but has no solidarity, or libertarian Senator Rand Paul who condemns what happened in Syria and says that intervention in Syria will not make the US safer, that there needs to be congressional authorization. Even Ben Norton and Max Bluementhal teamed up to write an antiwar article which says “U.S. intervention would be the last hope for Syrian rebels, and a shot in the arm to al-Qaeda, which has grown to record size thanks to America’s military meddling across the Middle East” but barely mentions the words “Russia” and “Assad,” never using the word imperialist or capitalist.

Worst of all are the statements of bourgeois progressive groups. CREDO, Peace Action, Win Without war and MoveOn put out a joint statement saying that the attack was  unilateral, reckless, and without an “apparent plan for what comes next and with no legal authorization,” saying that “this was an illegal act of war, launched in violation of the U.S. Constitution and international law” and saying that “Trump cannot bomb his way to peace,” adding that Trump should “be leading the world in a diplomatic effort to end the war, increasing American support for humanitarian assistance, and welcoming Syrian refugees to the safety of America.” As I have discussed before on this blog, diplomacy of the United States is a form of imperialism. Then there’s Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs for Peace Action, who argued that “only a political solution can end the carnage in Syria” and that if we go too far, the US would “risk retaliation against U.S. troops stationed in Syria, and could dangerously escalate tensions with Russia and Iran,” adding that “Congress has not authorized the use of military force against the Assad government, which should be a prerequisite to any military action.” [15] These pathetic, milquetoast statements will not get anyone anywhere. In fact, Martin’s statement is basically an imperialist one, worrying about risks to US footsoldiers of imperialism! These bourgeois progressives are clearly, and likely will never be, comrades of the Syrian people. They are as bad as the dumb liberals who are still complaining about Russian involvement, saying that “Assad is a butcher” (progressive talk radio host Sam Seder), which just leads to more war. Even Democracy Now! is entertaining the notion that Trump’s attack “could” violate international law, not saying it DOES violate international law. Even British politician Nigel Farage, formerly of the fascist UK Independence Party (UKIP) and self-declared Trump supporter said that Assad is secular and that “previous interventions in the Middle East have made things worse rather than better,” with the same in this case.

We then get to the people who support the war. Clearly, the Democrats want more war with pathetic words from people like Rania Khalek which do not inspire confidence. More directly, US Senators Mitch McConnell, Mark Warner, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain applauded the action, Barbara Lee called for a vote, like Nancy Pelosi, Seth Moulton and Steve Russell, former vets, only are concerned because there is “no plan” presented yet. [16] Beyond this, NATO’s Secretary General, Angela Merkel of Germany, Francois Hollande of France, Justin Trudeau of Canada, Carl Bildt of Sweden, Donald Tusk of EU Commission, Saad Hariri of Lebanon, and the governments of the UK, Jordan, Bahrain, Turkey, Japan, France, Britain (also see here) Italy, Australia, Israel, Germany, Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia, support the attack while the UN Secretary General, who caved to Israeli and US demands recently, tried to take a middle position. They were joined by Shlomo Bolt of Syrian-American Council who said that says Trump made “right decision” to go to war, horrid Erdogan of Turkey, who clearly wants more war, the Democratic “Socialists” of America clearly as anyone can see, and last, but not least, Bernie Sanders, an imperialist worth despising. Of course, the big capitalist enterprise of Rayethon supports the war since their stock is rising as a result of the use of their Tomahawk missiles in the strike, as does the Syrian National Coalition and the neoliberal NDP (National Democratic Party) in Canada with its weak response, as does the oil companies with oil prices rising since the attack. [17] Even Chomsky continued his imperialist run, declaring that “the Assad regime is a moral disgrace. They’re carrying out horrendous acts, the Russians with them.”

Then there’s the bourgeois media. Some, of course, went further, saying that Trump is taking a “stand for humanity,” while NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who earns $10 million a year, said that he was wowed by the “beautiful pictures of fearsome armaments,” which some were angry about ONLY because Rachel “Madcow” Maddow wasn’t allowed to give her warmonger speech, saying that MSNBC was being sexist. [18] It really is a silly complaint not because the allegation of sexism is wrong but because the imperial warmongering would have delivered either way. If that wasn’t enough as the US beats drums for WWIII with its illegal missile strike, the bourgeois media in the US was gushing for war, from CNN to the New York Times, with Fareed Zakeria even saying that air strike made Trump a “president,” and beyond, along with opinions saying that there cannot be any peace under Assad, that Trump should “commit” to Syria, and that we shouldn’t be shocked by chemical weapons in Syria. [19]

A conclusion

There is no doubt that wars have been escalating under Trump’s watch, even with Steve Bannon seemingly out of the picture, and that this war should be opposed. Speaking of Bannon, it seemed like suspicious timing that ONE DAY before the military strike McMaster replaced Bannon on the National Security Council.  Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of CounterPunch agrees with me on that point, while seeming to not side with the Syrian or Russian governments, a weird sort of middle position:

“I don’t know who was behind the grisly chemical attack in the northern Syrian city of Khan Shaikhoun…Obama…made the right call in 2013, when he rejected the demands of many in his inner circle and in Congress to escalate the US intervention in Syria…All of the incentives for launching this attack favor those who want the Syrian war prolonged and the Assad regime overthrown. And it seems to have worked…Trump…swiftly followed suit, mumbling his own fatwa against the Assad regime a few hours before those missiles hit Homs…So mission accomplished for the neocons and the Hillaroids…Little Marco Rubio said Congress would be “open to ground troops” in Syria and the New York Times’ Lt. Gen. (honorary) Nicholas Kristof advised that it was “Trump is right to make Syria pay a price for war crimes, and taking out airfields is the best approach.”…A few hours before Trump fired his volley of cruise missiles at the Shayrat Air Force Base, Hillary Clinton…advised Trump to “take out Assad’s airfields”…Trump’s Rasputin, Steve Bannon…went into a rage and threatened to quit after getting 86’d off of the National Security Council, but stayed after Trump assured him he can continue to attend meetings…Bannon needed to be evicted from NSC before the Syrian airstrikes could be launched.”

Other than what St. Clair says, we should recognize that for one, the Syrian Coalition, an opposition group, welcomes the senseless missile strike, which may just “reinforce the balance of power between the combating factions rather than lead to a turning point,” even though it is evident that that the Trump policy is now regime change by military action. [20] It is interesting that Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, condemned use of chemical weapons in Syria, but said the country is “concerned with unilateral actions by any parties, including the use of Tomahawk missiles, in responding to the chemical weapon attack tragedy in Syria.” Of course the bourgeois media declares that Syrians are “split” over the US missile strike, with the narrative that those in rebel-held regions supporting the strike, and those in government-held regions think differently, although there is no doubt broader opposition than their claims. [21] There will be even more opposition since it seems evident that only ground forces in Syria itself can topple the duly-elected government of Bashar al-Assad and the National Progressive Front.

For any of those who said that Trump would be non-interventionist because of his campaign promises and not understanding how he took a more pro-military position as the campaign progressed forward, like the often cited and anti-leftist analysis from the libertarians at antiwar.com, Zero Hedge, or anywhere else, they were completely wrong.  Even as the Syrian government is open into international inquiries of the chemical  attacks, the future of the war seems bleak, with more money going to war, and the Senate not coming out of recess to vote on Syria war. [22] But that doesn’t mean we can’t stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and the socially democratic, secular state of Syria against the imperialist monster which threatens to tear the country apart.

With the slim, but affirmed victory in Ecuador of Lenin Moreno, there is still hope on the horizon. There is a possibility for opposing “limited action,” an imperialist war, in Syria, and we don’t have to listen to the propagandists like Avaaz who declare that “some have gone so far as to suggest that the Syrian Army did not actually drop the Sarin gas. This is such a far-fetched claim I can only assume they have been captured by Russian propaganda media,” or the bourgeois media who reprints commentaries by US generals about what is “happening” in Syria. There is no doubt that Trump angered his base, those who voted for him originally, while an approval rating bump is in question.

As radicals, revolutionaries, socialists, communists, or what have you, the first step as of now is to protest this horrid imperialist war which will benefit the capitalist class, causing them to smile in glee. This strike, I feel, is only the beginning of something greater, which was hinted at by Tillerson and Haley in recent days. This will again support terrorist propaganda that the “Christian nation” of the United States is bombing a “Muslim” nation in Syria. I don’t want to say it will lead to blowback, which is a distorted version of what former CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson declares in his many books about US empire since he is talking about foreign response to covert actions, not overt actions like military strikes, but also because I think the idea of blowback seems to bring with it, at least how it is commonly interpreted, a sort of Orientalism. I have credit my fellow comrade, Karen (kazahann) with that insight, which I’ve built upon here.

I don’t see this as a one-off strike which will go away. While we can stay critical of independent capitalist Russia, as William Blum has called it, we should stand in solidarity with the Syrian state and the proletariat therein as the PSL, WWP, Answer Coalition, and Communist parties, among others, of the world have done. As most of the readers who encounter this post likely live in the core, we must do what we can to stop the imperialist beast. What that entails is up to personal discretion. But, a powerful peace movement would be a welcome addition to what currently exists now. As critics and those trying to spread our ideas to the masses, we must counter the bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives, exposing their milquetoast ideas as garbage, showing that there are better ideas to move the world forward. I would have provided a more through analysis here of Syria, its history, politics and whatnot, but do to certain complications, I cannot do that at this time, but promise that such a post may come in the future. For all of those comrades out there who stand against this hideous war and those living in Syria especially, I stand with you.

UPDATE:

There are numerous statements and sayings that I missed in working through this article. Just today, the DPRK’s state media released a statement saying that Kim Jong Un, chairman received a reply from Bashar Al-Assad two days ago, thanking the former for “his kind congratulations on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Syria’s Baath Arab Socialist Party” and expressed thanks for him “having appreciated the role of the Party guiding the Syrian Arab people in the struggle to meet such challenges as sinister actions of the world’s terrorists and encouraged Syria to successfully weather the crisis without fail.” [23] The statement also said the relations between the two countries should stay strong. There was also, as international media reported that the DPRK said that “the U.S. missile attack against Syria is a clear and unforgivable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn this,” even though the KCNA did not report ANY articles with such words. There was then, the stories that the US wants more intervention in Syria, just like I had said yesterday, that no proof of chemical weapons use from the Syrian airfield has been presented. Apart from statements by other groups, a study guide of articles on the Syrian conflict has been assembled by a fellow comrade.

Now, for the statements of differing groups. I start with the statement of the American Party of Labor which was issued yesterday:

“The American Party of Labor condemns in the strongest terms the attack of April 6, 2017 of the United States Navy against a Syrian airbase…this attack is clearly an effort to bolster the hegemony of the United States in the midst of Trump’s own catastrophic incompetence and a myriad of evolving geopolitical environments…Trump has openly vilified refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict, showing that his administration and its supporters have little care or respect for the lives of oppressed people except when it is politically expedient. Both Trump and his administration are but the newest faces in the evolution of American imperialism…this attack by the U.S. is not done for the sake of humanity or any ethical principle. The U.S. has been sinking its teeth into Syria for years now…The pronounced ethics of the imperialist state are nothing more than a sham. This attack also demonstrates the strengthening of the international antagonisms between the imperialist powers…The threats of war are now being expressed more openly than ever. Imperialism sees war as a solution to the economic crisis and stagnation…There is an increasing risk that regional wars instigated by the imperialist powers, particularly the USA, may escalate to world war. This attack is another blatant example of “humanitarian” imperialism and has grave consequences for the peoples of the world…The American Party of Labor…condemns in the strongest terms the neo-fascist Trump regime, its warmongering and militaristic aggression, and its violation of the sovereignty of Syria.”

Of course, the Trotskyists had to get their foot in the door too, with their group, In Defence of Marxism (part of the International Marxist Tendency). They condemned the attacks but said, almost parroting imperialist propaganda, that “…the Assad regime is fully capable at carrying out such an attack…It has the upper hand in the civil war, thanks to Russia’s backing,” and going to claim that the “Russians and the Syrians were bombing Aleppo” without saying that this was part of the liberation of Aleppo! Even if you said their statement was partially anti-imperialist, they said that the war is a plan to “divide the Russia-Iran-Assad alliance and to prepare to negotiate the future of Assad,” even as they said that “there is nothing progressive in the Assad regime or in the dirty games of Russia in Syria,” although this is ridiculous especially when it comes to the Syrian government, and they add that “the only real solution is a clear independent class position…we cannot give any support to the competitors of our own imperialists, to Putin, Assad or the Mullahs in Iran.” Such absurdist reasoning shows why for one Trotskyists cannot be trusted and two that they are not believing in international solidarity.

BAYAN-USA, a progressive Filipino organization, used some of the same rhetoric as the Trotskyists but also took a more principled position:

“President Trump’s decision to launch 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syrian Air force base in Homs province was not driven by his humanitarian desires to help the Syrian people against the Assad regime…the US war in Syria will never resolve the problems in the country and will only create more chaos, destruction, and death. The proxy war in Syria can seem very complicated, but underneath all the political rhetoric of good versus evil…thousands of innocent Syrians have been killed and thousands having to flee their home country as refugees is due to US monopoly capitalist interest…The root of all US wars of aggression lies in imperialist geopolitical interest to expand its hegemony over land, natural resources, trade routes, consumer markets for US surplus products and cheap labor markets…Both the Trump and Assad regimes are using the same exact rhetoric of “Fighting the War on Terror” as their reasoning behind their attacks on the Syrian people, but we must uncover the truth behind their interest in this war which is economic power in a centrally located oil rich region of the world…We demand an end to US warmongering and intervention for the sake of humanity. We call on all peoples of the world to stand in solidarity with the Syrian people and their rights to self-determination for their own country.”

In news beyond this, CNN spouted imperialist propaganda about “another” chemical weapons attack, citing unnamed activists (like we should trust that), the US engaged in an airstrike supposedly aimed against Daesh but actually killing 13 Syrians when it hit an internet cafe, along with protests outside US embassy in Turkey, UN Office in Syria, followed by condemnation from Turkey’s Patriotic Party. [24] Beyond this, while the Saudis praised the attack, Western moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned it, while Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned the “US’s open aggression against Syria.” There’s also the reported news that the SAA attacked a a U.S. recon aircraft in Northern Syria.

I think that’s all for updates for now. More may be added in the future.

Notes

[1] Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches military strike on Syrian airbase,” ABC News, Apr. 6, 2017; Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches strike on Syria air base after chemical weapons attack,” ABC News, Apr. 7, 2017.

[2] Ibid; Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump launches military strike against Syria,” CNN, Apr. 6, 2017; Dana Bash, Jeremy Herb, Barbara Starr, and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump on Syria’s Assad: “Something should happen”,” CNN, Apr. 6, 2017.

[3] Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump launches military strike against Syria,” and Dana Bash, Jeremy Herb, Barbara Starr, and Jeremy Diamond, “Trump on Syria’s Assad: “Something should happen”.”

[4] Luis Martinez, David Caplan, and Adam Kelsey, “US launches military strike on Syrian airbase,” ABC News, Apr. 6, 2017. Also see the recent data (Dec. 2016) from the DMDC for the data on the 279 military and civilian personnel in Syria

[5] Rachel Roberts, “US-led coalition killed more Syrian civilians than Isis or Russia in March, figures show,” The Independent, Apr. 3, 2017; Edith M. Lederer, “UN: 40-50 years needed to clear weapons in Iraq and Syria,” ABC News (originally an AP story), Apr. 4, 2017; Josh Lederman, “Syria Strikes Add to List of 21st Century US Military Forays,” Bloomberg News (originally an AP story), Apr. 6, 2017. The missile strike in Syria adds to the list of US military forays in Afghanistan (started 2001), Iraq (started 2003), Libya (2011, recent years), drone wars (esp. 2009-2014), and ISIS (2014 onward).

[6] Darius Shahtahmasebi, “What the Media Isn’t Telling You About Yesterday’s Chemical Attack in Syria,” The Anti Media, Apr. 5, 2017; Scott Horton, “4/6/17 Philip Giraldi says IC-Military Doubt Assad Gas Narrative,” The Libertarian Institute; Paul Antonopoulos, “Something is Not Adding Up In Idlib Chemical Weapons Attack,” Information Clearing House, Apr. 4, 2017; Curt Mills, “Was Assad Behind the Idlib Chemical Massacre?,” U.S. News & World Report, Apr. 6, 2017; Sarah D., “‘Shame on you!’ Dem Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s condemnation of Syrian attacks rings hollow,” Twitchy, Apr. 5, 2017; From “ashamed” to a defense of Assad: Republican lawmakers offer varied reactions to recent chemical attack in Syria,” Salon, Apr. 5, 2017; Al Jazeera, “Syria denies using chemical weapons in Idlib,” Al Jazeera, Apr. 6, 2017; “US Syria Strike Was Illegal, No Matter Who Carried Out Gas Attack,” The Real News, Apr. 7, 2017; Phyllis Bennis, “Trump, Syria, and Chemical Weapons: What We Know, What We Don’t, and the Dangers Ahead,” The Real News, Apr. 2017; Vijay Prashad, “Is Trump Going to Commit the Next Great American Catastrophe in Syria?,” AlterNet, Apr. 5, 2017. Basically, Tulsi Gabbard and Thomas Massie were wary of making conclusions yet, with people claiming they are “Assad apologists” as a result.

[7] For more information, and other related articles, see: PressTV, “Syria launches counterattack near capital after militant incursion,” Mar. 21, 2017; PressTV, “Syrian forces retake Damascus areas from militants,” Mar. 20, 2017; PressTV, “Iran commander: US will regret any adventurism,” Apr. 3, 2017; PressTV, “Russia: US covering up Daesh crimes in Iraq’s Mosul,” Apr. 2, 2017; Prensa Latina, “Syria, six years of manufactured war,” Granma, Mar. 30, 2017; Deirdre Griswold, “U.S. war crimes escalate in Syria, Iraq,” Worker’s World, Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “Iran urges ‘war crime’ hearing into US killings in Mosul,” Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “UN deeply concerned over US-led airstrikes on Mosul,” Mar. 25, 2017; PressTV, “Over 230 killed under rubble after ‘US-led raid’ in Mosul,” Mar. 24, 2017; Julie Ray and Neli Esipova, “Economic Problems, Corruption Fail to Dent Putin’s Image,” Gallup, Mar. 28, 2017; PressTV, “Trump hails US troops in Iraq despite deadly Mosul raid,” Mar. 29, 2017; BBC, “Mosul battle: US ‘may be responsible’ for civilian deaths,” Mar. 28, 2017; OIC, “OIC Regrets Casualties among Citizens in Mosul,” Mar. 27, 2017; PressTV, “Daesh shelling, US airstrikes raise Syria dam breach fears,” Mar. 29, 2017; PressTV, “Russian general criticizes US-led coalition’s bombing of Syria dam,” Mar. 28, 2017; Mike Whitney, “Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below,” CounterPunch, Mar. 28, 2017; Gene Clancy, “Hands off Syria!,” Workers World, Mar. 26, 2017; Carl Lewis, “Gov’t squeezes workers, bloats Pentagon,” Workers World, Mar. 22, 2017.

[8] Pentagon, “Statement from Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis on U.S. strike in Syria,” Apr. 6, 2017; Zeina Karam and Sarah El Deeb, “Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria as ‘significant blow’ to relationship,” Chicago Tribune (originally AP article), Apr. 7, 2017.

[9] What you need to know about US strike on Syrian air base,” CNN, Apr. 7, 2017; CNNWire, “At least 6 killed in Syria: Russia calls U.S. military strike an ‘act of aggression’,” Fox8, Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria attack: US ‘deliberately avoided bombing sarin stockpile at Assad airbase’ during Trump air strikes,” The Independent, Apr. 7, 2017; Holly Williams, “Russia, Syria’s explanation for chemical attack countered by experts,” CBS News, Apr. 6, 2017; Raja Abdulrahim, “Rebels Hail U.S. Strike, Syria Says 16 Killed,” Wall Street Journal, Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria chemical attack: Sarin gas likely weapon used in Idlib as experts say Russian claims ‘don’t add up’,” The Independent, Apr. 5, 2017. In the latter article, Dearden cites the commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, Hasan Haj Ali; a research fellow at Chatham House and former member of NATO, Beyza Unal; a volunteer with the traitorous White Helmets, Hamid Kutini; analyst at the Centre for Science and Security Studies and bourgeois “expert”, Hassan Elbahtimy; and a citizen journalist and Reuters photographer, Ammar Abdullah, as “experts.” Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and World Health Organisation (WHO) are also mentioned, but no specific person is quoted. Clearly, their “experts” are total crap. Lest us forget that Jan. 2013 article in the horrid Daily Mail, which has now been deleted, which said that the US planned to launch a chemical weapons attack on Syria and blame it on Assad. Did that happen in this case? Its hard to know.

[10] Jack Stubbs and Maria Tsvetkova, “Russia’s military presence in Syria is as ‘powerful’ as ever,” Reuters, Apr. 15, 2016; Tom Parfitt, “Russia sends MORE jets to Syria in bid to wipe out evil ISIS as Putin builds ANOTHER base,” Express Newspapers, Dec. 1, 2015; Reuters, “Syrian Observatory: Russia expands air base near Homs, uses another in the province,” Dec. 3, 2015; Now News, “Russia plans new Syria airbase: report,” Nov. 30, 2015.

[11] David Filpov, Russia condemns U.S. missile strike on Syria, suspends key air agreement, Washington Post, Apr. 7, 2017; BBC, “Syria war: US warns of ‘more’ after missile strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017. This article also says that Syria used to have an effective air defense system but it has been weakened by civil war and that the fact that there are Russian surface-to-air systems makes airstrikes by US warplanes unlikely and cruise missile strikes continuing as a possibility.

[12] Steve Holland, Andrew Osborn and Tom Perry, “U.S. strikes on Syria came close
to clash with Russia: Medvedev,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017.

[13] Associated Press, “The Latest: US calls for transparency in UN Syria summit,” Apr. 7, 2017; Bethan McKernan, “Syrian chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun approved by ‘highest levels’ of Assad regime, Israel’s Mossad finds,” The Independent, Apr. 6, 2017; Deutsche Welle, “World powers clash with Russia at UN over Syria suspected chemical attack,” Apr. 2017; Thomson Reuters, “Russia stands by Syria at UN over chemical weapons attack,” Apr. 5, 2017.

[14] Ramin Mostaghim and Shashank Bengali, “Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as ‘dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law’,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 7, 2017; CBS, “Allies and adversaries react to U.S. attack in Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017.

[15] Congress wants a say on Syria strategy, split on timing, what to do,” Kaine: ‘No legal justification’ for Syria strike,” CNN, Apr. 7, 2017; Deirdre Shesgreen, Nicole Gaudiano, and Bill Theobald, “Syria strikes draw Capitol Hill support, calls for greater congressional role,” USA Today, Apr. 7, 2017; Leah Barkoukis, “Even Schumer, Pelosi Applaud US Airstrikes in Syria,” Town Hall, Apr. 7, 2017; Courtney O’Brien, “Pelosi Demands Immediate Debate on AUMF for Syria,” Town Hall, Apr. 7, 2017; Democracy Now!, “Syria Attack Launched Without Congressional Authorization,” Apr. 7, 2017; Susan Jones, “Rand Paul, Barbara Lee, Tim Kaine: ‘Unconstitutional’; Schumer Tells Trump, ‘Come Up With a Strategy’,” CNSNews.com, Apr. 7, 2017.

[16] Twitter, “World reacts after US forces launch strikes on Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017; Patricia Zengerle, “U.S. lawmakers back Syria strikes, ask for broader strategy,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; CBS, “Allies and adversaries react to U.S. attack in Syria,” Apr. 7, 2017; Lizzie Dearden, “Syria chemical attack: Pope Francis appeals to ‘conscience’ of culprits as Russia vows to support Assad,” The Independent, Apr. 5, 2017.

[17] BBC, “Syria war: US warns of ‘more’ after missile strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017; Michelle Nichols, Andrew Osborn and Tom Perry, “Russia warns of serious consequences from U.S. strike in Syria,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Jessica Resnick-Ault, “Oil rises after U.S. missile strike in Syria, weekly gain 3 percent,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Fred Imbert, “Stocks close mostly flat despite Syria attack, mixed jobs report,” CNBC, Apr. 7, 2017.

[18] Associated Press, “Brian Williams calls images of US missile launch ‘beautiful’,” ABC News, Apr. 7, 2017.

[19] Sam Sacks, “Guest after guest is gushing. From MSNBC to CNN, Trump is receiving his best night of press so far. And all he had to do was start a war,” Apr. 6, 2017; Sam Sacks, “I mean, we’re just weeks removed from her Trump tax return spectacle & now is making the Trump admin’s case for war to her audience,” Apr. 6, 2017; CNNI, “”What is it going to take?” Watch ‘s emotional appeal to the world about Syria after gas attack,” Apr. 4, 2017; NBC News, “So, what IS a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile?,” Apr. 6, 2017; John Harwood, “on CNN, ex-CIA director Jim Woolsey suggests that Trump respond to Assad gas attack with military strikes against both Syria and Iran,” Apr. 6, 2017; earwulf, “fuck the New York Times, seriously,” Apr. 7, 2017; Walid, “CNN hits a new low with it’s interview with Bana on alleged Sarin attack. How can this interviewer go through with this charade?,” Apr. 6, 2017; Walid, “Congressman is a known supporter of the Jihadist insurgency in . CNN asked him how he would respond to Bana,” Apr. 7, 2017; Kersten Knipp, “Opinion: No peace under Assad,” Deutsche Welle, Apr. 2, 2017; Farzana Hassan, “Trump needs to commit to Syria,” Toronto Sun, Apr. 6, 2017; Michael Petrou, “No decent politician should profess to be shocked by the latest chemical attack in Syria,” CBC, Apr. 5, 2017.

[20] Harout Akdedian, “Will the US missile strike be the turning point in Syria’s shifting war?,” Asia Times, Apr. 7, 2017; Reuters, “UPDATE 3-U.S. allies show support for strikes on Syria,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017.

[21] John Davidson, “In divided Syria, U.S. strike both welcomed and condemned,” Reuters, Apr. 7, 2017; Asharq Al-Awsat English, “Syria: Khan Sheikhun Families Grateful for US Strikes,” Apr. 7, 2017; Hamin Mostaghim and Shashank Bengali, “Syrian ally Iran blasts U.S. missile strikes as ‘dangerous, destructive and a violation of international law’,” Los Angeles Times, Apr. 7, 2017.

[22] Reuters, “Syrian government sets terms for any inquiry into gas attack,” Apr. 6, 2017.

[23] KCNA, “Reply Message to Kim Jong Un from Syrian President,” Apr. 8, 2017; Ju-min Park and Jack Kim, “North Korea calls U.S. strikes on Syria ‘unforgivable’,” Reuters,

[24] Associated Press, “The Latest: Syrians protest outside UN office in Damascus,” Apr. 8, 2017; Syria strikes: Site of chemical attack hit again,” CNN, Apr. 8, 2017.

Elections in the “socialist motherland”: democracy in the DPRK

Dancing party of women's union officials
“A dancing party of women’s union officials and members took place at the plaza of the Arch of Triumph on Feb. 16, the 75th birth anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il.”- Rodong Sinmun on February 20

Recently, with the whole controversy over the death of Kim Jong Un’s brother and the stance of the “independent socialist state” of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), as its constitution describes it, in criticizing China for there seeming to be appeasement, by banning coal imports into the country, of the imperialist desire (especially Trump’s arrogance) of the United States to weaken the DPRK. [1] This “socialist motherland,” as one document calls it, is not only threatened by forces within “South Korea” (the Republic of Korea), programs like THAAD, provocations from the Trump administration, leading to defense of the country with nuclear weapons (rightly so) but it has been attacked by the “human rights” organizations in the West, along with the corporate media in wild accusations. I’m specifically talking about Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The latter claims that citizens in the country “suffer violations of most aspects of their human rights”  and the former saying that under the leadership of Kim Jong-Un the country “remains among the world’s most repressive countries” with a “dynasty.” [2] This echoes the CIA World Factbook and US State Department which call the DPRK an “an authoritarian state” and “communist state” (saying it in a negative way), showing that “human rights” NGOs and parts of the establishment serve the same fundamental imperialist interests. [3] All of these bourgeois criticisms, like the bourgeois liberals/progressives on /r/socialism, implies that the DPRK is not democratic. A look at their elections, especially that of the SPA, shows this to be wrong. I could debate in this article if the DPRK is engaging in “revisionism,” with a fluid definition in this post-Cold War environment in the present, but that is, frankly, for another day.

In 1945, in the aftermath of deadly World War II, the Korean Peninsula, which had been controlled by the Japanese imperialists, was roughly divided between the Soviet occupied zone and US zone. In the Soviet zone in the North, unlike in the South where a brutal fascist puppet government was installed, socialism was advanced. As the South Korean Party for Re-Unification put it in February 1971: “after World War II, the US imperialists entered South Korea as invaders and aggressors, not liberators. This is the reason for the division of our country.” [4] In 1946, the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) was created. Kim Il Sung, later the leader of the DPRK, described this process very simply, noting that people’s committees controlled the country before the establishment of a government formally, proving it wasn’t a “dictatorship”:

“The foundation of the Workers’ Party representing and defending the interests of the labouring masses of Korea through the merger of the Communist Party and the New Democratic Party is the greatest event in the political life of our people at the present time…In south Korea, however, the activities of those people who are sincerely striving for the merger of the Parties, are obstructed…the reactionary forces has come all out to frustrate the merger of the democratic political parties of the working people…unity and cohesion of the democratic forces throughout Korea is the prerequisite to the building of a new, genuinely democratic Korea…One year has already passed since Korea was liberated from the colonial rule of Japanese imperialism…In the past year we have laid a solid foundation for developing Korea along truly democratic lines and building a People’s Republic by carrying out the great democratic reforms. Our people who took power into their own hands…The composition of the people’s committee membership now active in north Korea is as follows : Workers [are] 5.7% [.] Peasants [are] 71.8%[.] Office employees [are] 15.8% [.] Handicraftsmen [are] 2.1% [.] Tradesmen [are] 4.6% [.] The people’s committees…strive to guard the interests of the people…In carrying out its policies, the people’s committee relies on the firm unity and the democratic united front of all the political parties and social organizations…Already in March this year, the agrarian reform was carried out in the rural areas of north Korea, bringing about a radical change in production relations. The agrarian reform dealt a decisive blow to the landlord class…Last August the Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea proclaimed the law on the nationalization of industrial, transport and communications facilities and banks which had been owned by the Japanese imperialists, pro-Japanese elements and traitors to the nation…In June this year, the Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea promulgated the Labour Law freeing factory and office workers from harsh, colonial-type exploitation and introducing the eight-hour working day and a social insurance system. And a law was passed to guarantee the women social rights equal to those of the men for the first time in the history of our country…Over 8,000 adult schools were opened last year to eliminate illiteracy…The people’s committees have done a great deal of work to improve the material and cultural life of the masses of the people and to ensure their political rights…The enforcement of the Law of Nationalization of Industries has wiped out the foundation of Japanese imperialist colonial rule and deprived the traitors to the nation…Meanwhile, the people’s committees protect the property of the national capitalists and encourage the business activities of individual entrepreneurs and traders…The workers have won all rights and possibilities to take part in the state political life…The establishment of the Workers’ Party through the merger of the two parties is of tremendous historical significance in expanding and strengthening the democratic forces and promoting democratic construction in our country. A party is the advanced detachment of a class defending its interests and fighting for the realization of its demands and aspirations…Our Party, however, is not the one and only Party existing in our country…Our Party gives active support to the democratic demands of the Chongu Party, and closely co-operates with it in order to advance together in step with it…our Party has waged and is waging a common struggle in unity with all the democratic political parties. We must maintain closer ties with members of the Chongu Party and the Democratic Party…We must by all means bring the lines and strategic and tactical policies of the Party home to all its membership and arm the entire Party with the scientific Marxist-Leninist theory and throughgoing revolutionary ideas…The persecution of the working class [in South Korea], in particular, has reached extremes. See the massacre in Kwangju…In this grave situation, the primary task of our nation and the entire working people is to unite and unite…We call for such unity of the toiling masses as can meet the democratic demands of the workers, peasants and working intellectuals…The independence and sovereignty of Korea on democratic lines can be achieved at an early date only if the labouring masses are united as one and all the democratic forces are knit together…Victory belongs to the Korean people who aspire to unity, national independence and democracy. Let us all march forward confidently to victory!”

Two years later, on August 25, 1948, the DPRK, which had undertaken a 70-day debate nationwide on the draft constitution starting in February of the same year, elected its first deputes to the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), its unicameral legislature. [5] In that election, 572 deputies, representing “workers, peasants, deskworkers, intellectuals, businessmen, merchants and religious people,” were elected, and the First SPA met between September 2 and 10, with the constitution adopted during this time, a government formed, and the founding of the DPRK proclaimed on September 9, resulting in the Korean people celebrating it annually as “their national day.” [6] In this new legislature, the 1st SPA, Kim Il Sung was elected as the Premier and head of the DPRK. To be more specific, it was in 1948, Juche 37, that 99.97 of Koreans in the north took part and 77.52% of those in the south,took part in the elections. The results, as displayed in the chart below, shows that while the political parties were part of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland electoral coalition, they was also, arguably, a multiparty system in the DPRK [7]:

chart1

Before going further, it is best to describe the powers of the SPA in the DPRK. As was noted in a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in 1991, this legislature is defined by the DPRK’s constitution (Articles 73-84) as the “highest organ of State power” but also a representative organ which is formed “through an election conducted of the free will of the entire Korean people” and composed of deputies who are selected by “secret ballot on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage,” with the same principle applied to election of deputies “to local power organs such as provincial, city and county People’s Assemblies.” [8] As for the voters, every citizen, regardless of “sex, race, occupation, duration of residence, property status, education, party affiliation, political inclination and religious belief,” can vote as long as they are over 17, with the only ones who can’t including those decided by court verdict and “insane persons,” meaning that all citizens have the right to elect deputies. With only one registration and one ballot cast per voter, in elections that are announced 60 days before for the SPA and 30 days before for the ” provincial, city and county People’s Assemblies,” voters cast a ballot directly for a candidate for the deputy position, which is reflected in the totals. [9] Unlike the United States, which has terms of 2 (US House of Representatives) and 6 (US Senate) years for federal legislators, the term of office of SPA members is four years, unless there are unavoidable circumstances leading to a prolonged term. [10]

This is only scratching the surface. The SPA’s most important and exclusive power is “legislative power” which includes adopting, amending, and supplementing he Constitution, just like when the first DPRK Constitution was adopted in the first legislative session with a nationwide debate “on the draft constitution” (not like the US where the Constitution is a bourgeois classist document which was drawn up by the “founding fathers” in secrecy and illegality), along with a 31-person committee organized by the SPA to deliberate over the draft, with people’s opinions taken into account. [11] Later on, with these powers, the DPRK’s constitution was revised due to the changing times, with the SPA’s term of office extended to 4 years from 3 years, the minimum age level of voters was lowered to 17 and more deputies were allocated for the population with new electoral principles. With these changes, the SPA has adopted the Constitution’s principles by passing Socialist Labour Law, Land Law, Law on Public Health, Law on the Nursing and Upbringing of Children, Law on Environmental Protection, the Criminal Law, the Civil Law, the Family Law, laws for the “total elimination of tax in kind and taxation which is the remnant of the outdated society” with no tax system no longer in the DPRK, and a law enacting “universal free education and the 11-year compulsory education.” [12] While the US still can’t even get universal healthcare, of a single-payer variety, instead getting a corporate-friendly mess (“Obamacare”) which makes the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies smile with glee, the SPA has enacted laws putting in place “perfect and universal free medical care.” In every instance, in laws like this and every law, the SPA follows steps of “deliberation, adoption and proclamation,” with laws submitted by numerous entities (DPRK President, the Central People’s Committee (CPC), the Standing Committee of the SPA, the Administration Council, and all SPA deputies), and approved by a “show of hands.” [13] If that doesn’t sound democratic, I don’t know what is.

The SPA also has the authority to form central institutions of the state, electing the President of the DPRK (the people who HRW falsely says are part of a “dynasty”), who then picks a number of other individuals. [14] If that’s not enough, members on SPA committees and the head of the Administration Council (the Premier) are elected and accountable to the SPA. It is also worth pointing out that the SPA holds regular sessions to “discuss and solve problems” once or twice a year and extraordinary sessions when needed, with quorum of “more than a half the total number of deputies to meet” and laws adopted having immediate legal effect. [15] SPA Committees, whose members   areelected among deputies according to the size of leadership, debate about draft laws and budget plans before deliberation by the whole body, but cannot “initiate legislative activities nor adopt decisions of any legal validity independently.” [16] These committees include the following:

  • Credentials Committee (credentials members in the SPA)
  • the Bills Committee (“deliberates on the bills, amendments to constitution and laws submitted to the SPA and reports its results to the SPA and its Standing Committee.”)
  • the Budget Committees (“deliberates upon whether or not the settlement account and compilation of the State budget submitted for deliberation to the SPA conforms with the needs of People and reports its results to the SPA, and examines the budget balance and adopts measures for rectifying shortcomings revealed by the relevant executive bodies.”
  • the Foreign Affairs Committee (“discusses the issues arising in foreign affairs, draws up and makes public the documents specifying the stands of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the Committee, notifies them to the Foreign Affairs Committees of parliaments of other countries, Inter-Parliamentary Groups and individual MPs concerned and exchanges delegations with various countries the
    world over.”)
  • the Reunification Policies Committee (“recommends the measures to be taken by the Supreme People’s Assembly in connection with the national reunification question to the Supreme People’s Assembly or the Standing Committee of the SPA, and considers the issues of the north-south co-operation, exchange and travel and other matters related to the country’s reunification”)
  • Standing Committee (“When the SPA is not in session, the work with the Committees of the Supreme People’s Assembly is undertaken by the Standing Committee of the SPA. The Standing Committee works as a permanent body of the SPA in our country…the Standing Committee functions as its permanent organ between sessions…[It is] composed of Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, a secretary general and 15 members including the representatives of political parties and social organizations.”)

I could go on, but I think you probably get the point. [17]

Now, back to the context of the 1948 election. One book, by Anne Louise Strong doesa good job at telling the state of the DPRK in 1949. Summarizing the history compiled by the Korean Friendship Association (KFA), the “peaceful construction” of the new socialist nation was stopped on June 25, 1950 (Juche 49). As Vince Sherman noted, the moves of DPRK soldiers into South Korea “was actually an attempt to re-unite a nation partitioned by a foreign imperialist power,” despite what Trotskyists over at the ISO declare. While the Korean People’s Army (KPA) had formed into a regular army but the economic state of the country was fragile, but they still were victorious against “arrogant US imperialists” who claimed the US was invincible.  As even bourgeois journalist David Halberstam acknowledged, not only were Southern Koreans angry about US presence and the US units were in horrid condition, but the people of the DPRK and Chinese communists knew what they were fighting for, unlike the US soldiers, who had no idea what they were fighting for [18]:

“They [the Chinese Communists and DPRK troops] were absolutely sure of whom they were fighting and why. They were fighting white foreigners, imperialists, and capitalists, the children of Wall Street, and of course their puppet allies in the South. The Americans were not so sure, despite periodic lectures on the evils of Communism, whom they were fighting, or for that matter why they were fighting them. They might be soldiers stationed in Japan, but they’d no expectation of going to war, especially in a place called Korea.”

Continuing to summarize what the KFA said, on July 27, 1953 (Juche 42), the US imperialists knelt before the people of Korea, signing the Armistice Agreement, with arguably a victory for the Korean people, with many losses for the United States, with losses that were reportedly “2.3 fold the size of losses suffered by the US in the 4-year-long Pacific War in the period of the Second World War.” In December 1955, Kim Il Sung addressed the idea of Juche, saying in short and replying to the beginning of the Khrushchev era (this is even before the traitorous “secret speech”):

“…The principal shortcomings in ideological work are the failure to delve deeply into all matters and the lack of Juche. It may not be proper to say Juche is lacking, but, in fact, it has not yet been firmly established. This is a serious matter. We must thoroughly rectify this shortcoming. Unless this problem is solved, we cannot hope for good results in ideological work… This, the Korean revolution, constitutes Juche in the ideological work of our Party. Therefore, all ideological work must be subordinated to the interests of the Korean revolution…By saying that the ideological work of our Party lacks in Juche, I do not mean, of course, that we have not made the revolution or that our revolutionary work was undertaken by passers-by. Nonetheless, Juche has not been firmly established in ideological work, which leads to dogmatic and formalistic errors and does much harm to our revolutionary cause. To make revolution in Korea we must know Korean history and geography and know the customs of the Korean people. Only then is it possible to educate our people in a way that suits them and to inspire in them an ardent love for their native place and their motherland…As far back as the autumn of 1945, that is, immediately after liberation, we emphasized the need to study the history of our nation’s struggle and to inherit its fine traditions…Today, ten years after liberation, we have all the conditions for collecting materials on our literary legacy and turning it to full use. Nevertheless, the propaganda workers remain wholly indifferent to this…One day this summer when I dropped in at a local democratic publicity hall, I saw diagrams of the Soviet Union’s Five-Year Plan shown there, but not a single diagram illustrating the Three-Year Plan of our country…In compelling schoolbooks, too, materials are not taken from our literary works but from foreign ones. All this is due to the lack of Juche. The lack of Juche in propaganda work has done much harm to Party work…If we had not organized the People’s Army with old revolutionary cadres as its core, what would have been the outcome of the last war? It would have been impossible for us to defeat the enemy and win a great victory under such difficult conditions…Our 20-Point Platform is the development of the Programme of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland. As you all know, the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland existed before our country was liberated…It is utterly ridiculous to think that our people’s struggle against the U.S. imperialists conflicts with the efforts of the Soviet people to ease international conflicts with the efforts of the Soviet people to ease international tension…Hearing us say that it is necessary to establish Juche, some comrades might take it simply and form a wrong idea that we need not learn from foreign countries. That would be quite wrong. We must learn from the good experiences of socialist countries…It is important in our work to grasp revolutionary truth, Marxist-Leninist truth, and apply it correctly to the actual conditions of our country…we should not mechanically copy forms and methods of the Soviet Union, but should learn from its experience in struggle and Marxist-Leninist truth…Marxism-Leninism is not a dogma, it is a guide to action and a creative theory…In connection with the problem of establishing Juche I think it necessary to touch on internationalism and patriotism…Before liberation, the mere words that in the Soviet Union the working class held power and was building socialism made us yearn boundlessly for the Soviet Union where we had never been…In order to make our Party members indomitable fighters who are always optimistic about the future of the revolution, it is necessary to intensify their Marxist-Leninist education…In order to meet this great revolutionary event, the Party spirit of the Party members should be steeled; they should be educated to have a correct mass viewpoint and to have faith in victory and optimism regarding the future of the revolution.”

Beyond this, in the post-war period, the country needed to rebuild itself from much destruction, led in the effort by President Kim Il Sung. As Socialist Voice (in an opinion critical of the DPRK) notes in Marxist-Leninism Today, the the partition of the Korean Peninsula was “the product of the Cold War, which in Korea turned into a very hot war of savage proportions. Hundreds of thousands died on both sides.” This piece also notes  that the DPRK “developed and rebuilt itself after the devastation inflicted on it by the war.” With the Korean people having to “tighten their belts but they built factories, enterprises, towns and rural villages,” there was a “Three-Year Plan for the Postwar Rehabilitation and Development of the National Economy” just like in Poland, which was a success, followed by a Five-Year Plan from 1957 to 1960, with Sung saying “Let us produce more, practise economy, and overfulfil the Five-Year Plan ahead of schedule!” [19] I could get into more about the socialist economy of the DPRK and how it is a model for democratic and participatory economic planning, but that’s for another day.

All of this makes it clear why the second session of the SPA was not until 1957. The DPRK was in no shape to have an election in the middle of defending itself from imperialist attack. In this election, the Workers Party of Korea gained seats, while other parties lost seats, showing that it was applauded by the people. The pie chart below shows the distribution of the SPA after the election in August 1957, the 2nd SPA respectively, with only 75 of the 527 members of the first session re-elected, with only 215 members comprising the body [20]:

chart2

Courtesy of 38North, an NGO I'm pretty sure is anti-DPRK.
Courtesy of 38North, an NGO is strongly anti-DPRK. Their caption: “From left to right: WPK propaganda posters for local people’s assembly elections held on August 27, 1957 (both local and national ); November 25, 1967; July 29, 2007; July 24, 2011; and July 19, 2015.”

Fast forward five years and 2 months to the next legislative election of the 3rd SPA, respectively, in October 1962, eight days before the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis. By this point, as Stephen Gowans noted, the country “grew at a faster pace than the south from the 1940’s to the mid-60s” and Che Guevera was so impressed after visiting Pyongyang in 1965 that he “declared north Korea to be a model to which Cuba should aspire.” The SPA, increased in size from 215 members to 383 members, with WPK kept its majority, showing that it was supported by the populace more than any of the other parties by far [21]:

spa-distribution

Also during this session there were a number of developments including the introduction of the single-ballot vote and representation changed to 1 delegate every 30,000 people rather than the previous electoral distribution. [22]

The following year there were local elections, for provincial people’s assemblies. In these elections, like many past and since, and Kim Il Sung was re-elected as the DPRK’s president. [23] During the elections a total of 14,303 deputies for city, county, and district positions in people’s assemblies were elected, as were 70,250 in towns, neighborhoods, villages, and workers’ districts, for people’s assemblies, and 2,517 provincial people’s assembly deputies. [24]

Five years and one month after 1962 election, n September 1967, the elections for the the 4th SPA were held. Apart from the local elections held that year where over 300 women, out of the 3,305 delegates, were elected [25], the SPA, added new members, increasing from 383 members to 457. This development meant that not only were the amount of delegates keeping pace with the population, but there was full participation, with the deputies elected for a term of five years. [26] During this session, a number of changes were made, including revising the DPRK’s constitution and allowing the President of the country to be elected. [27] The distribution of the SPA was as the pie chart below displays colorfully, showing that the WPK gained even more support of the populace while the People’s Republic Party and other organizations lost their seats as people voted in WPK deputies instead:

distribution-1967

That same year, Kim Jong Il gave a “Talk to the Officials of the Central Committee of the League of Socialist Working Youth of Korea.” Within this speech he argued that “young people [in Korea] are honourable activists in the vanguard of socialist construction”and that there is a “great programme for the building of socialist rural communities” beginning in the country. He also said that “the youth should take the lead in carrying out the rural technical revolution,” that ” appearance of our modern socialist farming villages is altering and the peasants’ standard of living” and that a “youth shock-force movement is an excellent school for revolutionizing young people, by tempering them through labour and organizational life,” echoing what Kim Il Sung said. He also gave a speech in 1969 about cinema in the DPRK and a speech the following year to scriptwriters, among many other speeches.

Fast forward to 1971. That year, the DPRK was often featured in the publication of The Black Panther, the newspaper of the Black socialist party based in Oakland, the Black Panther Party. One article reprinted a speech by a Korean comrade, Pak Ung Gil, arguing that the Korean people, in the DPRK especially, are fighting to expediate their “omplete victory of socialism and the cause of national unification at the forefront of the anti-imperialism, anti – U.S. imperialist struggle in direct confrontation with U.S. imperialism” and that they extend “militant solidarity to the Black Panther Party and the Negroes in the United States,” with a promise of encouragement for their struggle and active support. [28] This belief aligns completely with Kim Il Sung, who has condemned such suppression of the Black Panthers, declaring years earlier that “where there is oppression, there is always resistance. It is inevitable that the oppressed peoples should fight for their emancipation.” [29]

Later that year, the DPRK was caught in an international dispute. A KPA pilot was engaging in tests with his airplane but he had to land because of problems with his fuel tank, if I remember correctly, and the US and “South Korea” (Republic of Korea or ROK) refused to give him up. [30] Later that year, Kim Il Sung received praise from multiple sources. For one, the South Korean Party for Re-Unification, argued in February 1971 that he had  taught them “the importance of combining violent struggles with non-violent struggle, illegal struggle with legal struggle.”  [31] The Black Panther Party’s Central Committee followed the next month by commemorating Kim Il Sung’s birthdaybu confirming the “militant solidarity between our Party and the struggling oppressed people of the U.S. and the heroic Korean people,” noting the “the unnatural division of a whole people that U.S. imperialists have perpetrated” in Korea, and pledging to intensify in their “own struggle, here inside the U.S., against U.S. imperialism, fascism and racism.” [32]

The same year, Kim Il Sung explained to a delegation of Iraqi journalists the most important experience of the “fighting people of Korea.” He started by saying that while Korea “was a colonial, semi-feudal society in the past” and had to fight off US imperialists, that they have, currently, “an advanced socialist system, under which all people work and live a happy life helping each other” with victories and achievements due to the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and the people themselves, with dedication to the idea of Juche or “expressing such a creative and independent principle and position adhered to by our Party in conducting revolutionary struggle and constructive work.” He went on to say that the Party had maintained its independence, is working on “building an independent national economy,” dedication to self-defense of the country from “aggressors and enemies,” the innovation in the “Chollima movement” which embodies the mass line of socialist construction, and the task of driving the “U.S. imperialist aggressors out of south Korea, accomplish the national liberation revolution and realize the reunification of the country.” In response to a question about the successes of the Iraqi people, who had recently engaged in a coup on July 17, 1968, led by Saddam Hussein (who would not hold presidential or other power until the late 1970s) and Salah Omar al-Ali, among others of the Socialist Ba’ath Party, Sung replied by saying that the Iraqi people had attained “national independence through their protracted arduous struggle against the domination of foreign imperialism,” that “antagonism and discord between nations…are advantageous only to the imperialists and simply detrimental to the people” with a “peaceful, democratic solution of the Kurd national problem,” that the government of Iraq stands “firm in the ranks of struggle against imperialism and colonialism.” Sung was also asked about US imperial aggression in Southeast Asia. In response to that, he argued that “the expansion of the aggressive war by the U.S. imperialists in Indo-China places them in an ever more difficult position and hastens the defeat of the aggressors,” by arguing that people of Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia (not referring to Khmer Rouge) have united to fight “against the U.S. imperialist aggressors…[with] the whole land of Indo-China has become a graveyard for the aggressors” and that the Korean people will assist those fighting against U.S. imperialism in Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Laos. His last two questions were about the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Iraq and the Arab people. On the first question, he said that “the Korean and Iraqi peoples are close comrades-in-arms fighting against the common enemy…part of the great unity of the Asian and African peoples against imperialism and colonialism.” To the second question he declared that

“the Arab people are vigorously fighting in arms against U.S. imperialism and the Israeli aggressors…The armed struggle of the Arab people against U.S. imperialism and the Israeli aggressors is a just struggle to defend national independence and dignity, restore the occupied Arab territories and accomplish the cause of liberation of the Palestinian people…The Korean people will continue to resolutely support the valiant struggle of the Palestinian people for liberating their fatherland and the struggle of the entire Arab people against Zionism and imperialist aggression and will always remain a close comrade-in-arms of the Arab people in the struggle against the common enemy…I sincerely wish the Arab people greater successes in their just struggle against U.S. imperialism and the Israeli aggressors.”

With this struggle evident, the following year there was a bout of elections, five years and one month after the 1967 election, showing the DPRK’s democracy shine once more. This election for the 5th SPA may have showed a change. Apart from the supposed detente, and the local elections for People’s Assemblies with 3,185 provincial people’s assembly deputies, and 24,784 city, county and district people’s assembly deputies elected, the 1972 elections for the SPA showed change. [33] During the session, a proposal was crafted with eight provisions about the reunification of Korean Peninsula. [34] Despite searching across the internet, I was only able to find the breakdown of the assembly of 541 Deputies, then serving for 4 years, with citizens over the age of 17 voting, with all of these legislators proposed by the Workers’ Party of Korea, not “chosen” as some would claim. In fact, about 21% of the assembly comprised of female delegates. In December of that year, the composition of the new SPA, in terms of class, as the delegates are in every electoral contest, was broken down as follows:

composition

The same year, a new Constitution was adopted by the DPRK, describing the county as a “self-reliant socialist state…an independent socialist State…a revolutionary State” guided by the Juche idea, with authority ultimately derived from “workers, peasants, working intellectuals and all other working people” with power exercised through “the organs of State power at all levels, from the county People’s Assembly to the Supreme People’s Assembly” which are elected by the working class “on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot.” If that’s not enough, the Constitution also dedicates the state to defending and protecting “the interests of the workers, peasants, working intellectuals and all other working people,” that “independence, peace and friendship are the basic ideals of the foreign policy” of the DPRK, and that the country “relies on the socialist production relations and on the foundation of an independent national economy.” The Constitution goes on to describe other aspects of the DPRK. Means of production in the country “are owned by the State and social, cooperative organizations,” the state’s property belongs to the people, private property is defined as “property owned and consumed by individual citizen,” working days are eight hours long, the minimum working age is 16 years, state shall direct the socialist economy, there is a “people’s nationwide defence system” to defend against imperialists, equal rights for men and women, and socialist culture will flourish. I could give more details, but this tells a bit of what the DPRK stands for in this new version of the Constitution.

More was noted about this constitution in a 1992 meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. There, the DPRK’s representative noted that the new Socialist Constitution of the DPRK was adopted on December 27, 1972, in the first session of the 5th SPA, and that the country had gone beyond its “socialist transformation of economic management” and establishment of a socialist system, by 1958, with “total eradication of exploitation of man by man, the social and class relations,” with a socialist working people. [35] He went on to say that the 1972 draft of the socialist constitution was put to debate two times in plenary meetings of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party and at the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, and then it was submitted to the SPA, adopted finally (and unanimously) by the deputies on December 27, 1972. [36] As a result, Korean people celebrate this day as Socialist Constitution Day every passing year.

It is also worth noting the economic activity in the DPRK in 1972 as shown as an aside to an anti-DPRK article. [37] While the article is horrible, the map is worth reposting:

economic-activity

Fast forward to 1975. The scant information available notes that 23,833 city, county and district people’s assembly deputies were elected in February of that year. [38] Nothing else is known. However, it is worth pointing out that Kim Jong Il advocated for continuation of “Juche art,” in May 1975. What he says is an interesting insight into efforts to create socialist culture within the borders of the DPRK and expand their revolutionary spirit worldwide:

“Our Juche art is now winning fame throughout the world. All countries regard the visit of a Korean art troupe as good fortune…Through art diplomacy we are widely propagating the Juche idea of the great leader to the whole world and proudly gaining honour for our nation…We should produce more, excellent works of art and train larger numbers of talented artists…We should bring about a radical change in the creation of dance by creating more, diverse themes, and discovering more dance rhythms and actions…We need not only lyric songs, but also many militant songs. We are making a revolution, and we should inspire the people to the revolutionary struggle by means of songs…Socialist art is art which is national in form and socialist in content. We must embody a revolutionary and socialist content in artistic forms which are liked by Koreans and are congenial to their tastes…Creators should explore the reality in order to write works. Without exploring the pulsating reality, they cannot produce works that are suited to the feelings of the workers and farmers…Our works of art and literature should not only reflect the reality vividly in content but also be based on life and be close to life in their form…Not anyone can easily become an extraordinary artist. In order to become a remarkable singer, dancer or musician, it is necessary to possess artistic talent and to receive systematic artistic guidance…Therefore, schools in the arts sector should not neglect professional education while stressing political and ideological education. These schools are bases for training professional creators of revolutionary arts…Teachers are revolutionaries who educate the younger generation to become the precious revolutionaries of the motherland…All art troupes and officials in the field of art should bring about a fresh upsurge in the creation of art.”

Two years later there were elections across held across the DPRK once again. In the local elections, 3,244 deputies were elected in the provinces and 24,268 in the ordinary city district, urban district, and counties. [39] The national elections, in November, for the 6th SPA, was a rousing success. While the delineation of party affiliations, of the 579 deputies, cannot be found, a breakdown of the members who part of certain sects of the working class in society is worth mentioning, with the legislature also comprising of about 21% women. [40] It is tabulated in the chart below:

chart-1977

During this SPA session, not only was a speech given to call for the strengthening of the people’s government of the DPRK and Kim H Sung re-elected as the DPRK’s president but another seven-year economic plan, starting in 1978, was gladly adopted in order to push forward the socialist nation. [41] Also, a law was passed mandating that all land was “made property of the state and co-operatives, with no rights for sale or purchase” which helped the government achieve its goals set forward in its constitution and commitments to the Korean people. The session for the DPRK was reportedly had five sessions, each lasting about five days, if the people at Peterson Institute for International Economics can be believed at all. [42] In later years, as an article by a bourgeois scholar noted, a “Law on the Nursing and Upbringing of Children was passed, in 1976, when there were “60,000 nurseries and kindergartens” across the country. Additionally, a Socialist Labor Law, which stipulated that “women with three or more children under 13 years of age receive 8 hours’ pay for 6 hours’ work,” passing in 1978. Both measures were passed by the SPA members who had been duly elected in 1977.

Two years later, in March 1979, in an election with full participation, 24,827 deputies were elected, representing the city, urban, and county districts. [43] The same year, the autocrat in the ROK, “South” Korea, Park Chung-hee, was assassinated, resulting in a change in the DPRK’s policy, the DPRK opened relations with the new leftist government in Nicaragua, and China began to try to get the DPRK to implement its capitalist reformism which looked good for the West. [44]

In March 1981, there were again local elections in the DPRK. Exactly, 24,191 deputies were elected for the county, urban, and city districts, along with 3,705 in the provinces and municipalities. [45] The same year, the DPRK proposed a plan to re-unify the Korean Peninsula but the ROK rejected it outright and it acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. [46]

In February 1982, Koreans went back to the polls to vote for legislators for the 7th SPA. While party breakdown is not available, of the 617 deputies elected, for four year terms, 20% of whom were women, the working class was well-represented, with other professions lumping together those who are not considered workers or peasants, seemingly including farmers, and office employees for example. The chart below visualizes this reality:

chart-1982

During the session there was a push for expedited self-reliance (Juche) and another attempt for peaceful reunification of the fatherland by securing a peace guarantee, with not much else known. [47] However, it is evident that there were fantastic celebrations with Kim Il Sung turning 70 years old, new economic policies announced, and the death of Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, that year, reportedly “opened the door to a warmer Soviet-DPRK relationship.” [48] Additionally, the DPRK extended its international solidarity to the revolutionary state of Iran to fight in the war against Western-backed Republic of Iraq. [49]

The following year, there were again elections, with full participation by the populace.. 24,562 Koreans were elected as deputies who represented cities, urban areas, and counties. [50] Apart from the ridiculious speculation as to if the DPRK was going to “invade South Korea” that year, or accusations it engaged in terrorism in Myanmar, the second session of the 7th SPA met with Yang Hyong Sop elected as Chairman of the SPA and Rim Chun Chu as Vice-President. [51] The following year, the DPRK’s government annouced a joint-venture law where there could be capital investment from foreign nations in the country,and possibly farmers to have private plots, which some saw as an admission that the self-reliant posture of the country was not working. [52]

The following year, 1985, there were local elections once again, with full participation of the populace. 28,793 Koreans were elected as deputies who represented provinces, urban areas, counties, and cities. [53] From that year until 1988, the DPRK pushed to have Olympic games on the Korean Peninsula, with enthusiastic backing of the socialist Cuban government, and Soviet support later on. [54]

In November 1986, 4 years and 8 months after the previous election, ballots for the members of the 8th SPA were cast by the populace. While the sources say that the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland  won the 655 seats in the SPA, with amounts of seats changing with population growth or decrease, there were undoubtedly full participation. [55] Even with this electoral notation, there are no sources which note the breakdown of the deputies by party, but there are indications of the distribution of professions across the DPRK’s assembly. The following chart indicates this reality:

chart-1986

During this session, as sources note, a second seven-year plan was adopted, the first from 1978-1984, with President Kim Il-Sung pointing to the successes of the first plan and calling for “further modernization with a view to achieving a self-reliant socialist national economy.” A speech calling for “the complete victory of socialism” was given to the public, likely by Kim Il Sung, and the country’s first nuclear reactor began operating that year. [56] Also, Sung gave a speech to a joint meeting of Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Central People’s Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in June 1986, saying, on the subject of the non-aligned movement, that

“…The non-aligned movement, which was inaugurated with a membership of 25 newly-independent countries 25 years ago, has now developed into a very extensive movement with more than 100 newly-emergent member nations and into an organized political force. It has a great influence on revolutionary change in the world and on international political life….The noble mission which was undertaken by the non-aligned movement at the time of its inauguration was and always has been to destroy imperialism and colonialism, end domination and subjugation in whatever form, oppose aggression and intervention, preserve peace and security, exercise national sovereignty, and achieve the freedom of social and economic development…Today the international situation is very complex and tense. The main trend of our time is as ever along the road of independence and sovereignty, peace and progress, but there is also an adverse current of domination and subjugation, war and destruction…Aggression and plunder are inherent aspects of imperialism, and imperialism thrives on them. Imperialism is the product of aggression and plunder, and it has grown fat on ceaseless aggression and plunder…As monopoly capital grows, so its tentacles of aggression and plunder are extended overseas. This is an inevitable outcome and a law of the development of capitalism. There is no limit to the wild ambition and greed of imperialism…Today the imperialists are employing mainly neocolonialism to invade, dominate and plunder other countries…The tendency of the rich countries to grow richer, and the poor countries to grow poorer, is more pronounced on a world scale…The imperialists are directing the spearhead of their aggression at the non-aligned countries and other newly-emergent nations…the imperialists frequently use as shock forces the Israeli Zionists, the South African racists and other stooges which they have trained and tamed…Imperialism is the common enemy of the peoples of the non-aligned nations and the progressive people throughout the world…The people can only oppose and defeat the allied imperialist force by a united effort…The anti-imperialist struggle must not be suspended or weakened even for a little while…The struggle for global independence is a decisive showdown between the anti-imperialist independent forces and the forces of imperialist domination…To dominate the world by force, wielding nuclear weapons, is the world strategy which the imperialists have persisted in since the Second World War. The danger from this strategy is growing as the days go by…The dark cloud of a nuclear war hangs heavily over all the continents, and it threatens the very existence of our planet…The world has the constant fear that a nuclear war can be triggered by the smallest incident…The non-aligned movement is an anti-war peace force, and the policy of non-alignment is a just, peace-loving policy….it must fight to stop the arms race and to effect the complete abolition of all armaments, and of nuclear weapons in particular…The non-aligned countries must give priority to the abolition of nuclear weapons and fight to prevent their production and stockpiling and abolish them completely once and for all…Outer space must only be used for peaceful purposes, not as a new theatre of the arms race…In order to abolish nuclear weapons and prevent a nuclear war, we must create nuclear-free, peace zones in many regions of the world and extend them all the time…we must fight against the imperialist policy of military blocs and of increasing military bases…we must develop a powerful anti-war, anti-nuclear, peace movement…The non-aligned countries must strengthen solidarity with the anti-war, anti-nuclear, peace movement…It is an important task of the struggle against imperialism and for independence that colonialism and racism be eliminated and the cause of national liberation be accomplished…the South African racists and Israeli Zionists overtly pursue the racist and expansionist policy of aggression…The South African racist regime pursues the vicious policy of apartheid, of racial discrimination, and the policy of brutal repression…In order to realize their ambition to establish a “Great Zionist Empire” in the Middle East, the Israeli Zionists have occupied Arab lands…without putting an end to the policy of apartheid in South Africa it would be impossible to accomplish the cause of national liberation…we must foil the expansionist, aggressive schemes of the Israeli Zionists. Zionism is a form of racism and colonialism…The just cause of the Palestinian and other Arab people for the restoration of land lost to them…we must strengthen solidarity with those people who are fighting for independence, sovereignty and to build a new society…South-South cooperation is a noble way for the developing countries to strengthen their economic independence and achieve complete economic freedom through close economic and technical cooperation…Today the international economic situation is changing to the disadvantage of developing countries…The running of joint venture hospitals will also be an effective means of cooperation in the sphere of public health…One of the important tasks confronting the non-aligned and developing countries today is to do away with the old international economic order and to establish a new fair one based on the principles of independence, equality and mutual benefit…To strengthen and develop the non-aligned movement steadily is an important guarantee for the accomplishment of the cause of independence in opposition to imperialism. The non-aligned movement is a powerful independent force of our times which is opposed to imperialism…The Government of the DPRK will in the future, too, remain loyal to the principles and ideal of the non-aligned movement and will make every effort to strengthen and develop this movement.”

The following year, in November 1987, there were again elections in the DPRK. That year,26,539 people were elected as local deputies, representing numerous parts of Korean society. [57] Two years after that, the Korean people cast their ballots yet again, for local elections. As a result, 29,535 Koreans were elected to local and provincial people’s assemblies. [58] If these results aren’t democratic and a show of democracy, then I don’t know what is.

In April 1990, three years and six months after the previous election for the SPA, Koreans cast their ballots again. The electoral alliance, the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, won a sweeping victory out of the 687 total seats in the 9th SPA. [59] Over 20% of the deputies elected were women, 37% were manual workers, over 10% were farmers, and about 53% were office workers or in the military. The below chart shows the distribution in the national legislature of the political parties within this electoral alliance, which shows that the DPRK has a multiparty system once again:

spa-1990

In this ninth session, which started six months earlier than “usual,” 37% of whom were workers of factories and enterprises, 10.4% who were cooperative farmers, and the rest “shared by officials or parties,” there was revision of the DPRK’s constitution, and Kim Jong-il elected as chairman of the National Defense Commission. [60] Apart from a speech about bringing the “advantages of socialism in our country into full play,”in a country which then has a population of over 21 million with a Gross National Product of $20 billion, more than half of the population working outside agriculture, and had trading partners of China, Japan, and the USSR, the DPRK was going into trouble. [61] This wasn’t their fault whatsoever. With the full-throttled embrace of Western capitalism and fanatical revisionism, the Soviet Union ceased giving aid to the DPRK, leading to a faltering economy, like in many states across the world which benefited from good-natured Soviet aid, but the DPRK stuck to their beliefs despite claims they were “opening up” to the West. [62] More specifically, the Soviet aid going away hurt the DPRK badly because they were dependent on the Soviets for “the supply of large amounts of crude petroleum and coking coal,” leading to problems in the country even as the socialist state dealt with this in later years by “opening a limited area to foreign capital and securing a supply of crude petroleum and coking coal from China” and trying to build Nuclear Power Plants. [63]

The following year, in November 1991, Koreans again had a chance to vote for those on the local level. With full participation of the populace, 26,074 people were elected to local and provincial assemblies. [64] With the DPRK’s economy needing Soviet aid, it faltered with the final demise of the Soviet Union on December 26, even as China took the place of the Soviet Union as the country’s main trading partner, and it became a member of the United Nations in September of the same year reluctantly as it argued in previous years that separate membership of the DPRK and ROK “would amount to international ratification of the 46-year partition of the Korean Peninsula.” [65]

The same year, Kim Il Sung, who would sadly die on July 8, 1994 and Kim Jong-Il taking his place after that point, addressed theopening ceremony of the 85th Inter-parliamentary Conference on April 29. He said that

“The national assembly of each country, as its highest legislative body, has a mission and responsibility to realise democratic government. Democracy must be not only the basic ideal of state administration for championing people’s right to independence, but also a common ideal of world politics for ensuring equality and cooperation among countries. the foreign policy of a state is the extension of its domestic policy. Therefore, making individual countries democratic is closely connected with the undertaking to make the international community democratic. The members of national assemblies who are working with devotion for the development of democratic government in their own countries should also contribute actively to making world politics democratic, and thus fulfill their resonsibilities and role as statesmen of the present age…Today, humanity finds itself at a turning point in historical progress. The old age of domination and subjugation that lasted for thousands of years has come to an end, and a new age is being ushered in, the new age when all countries and all nations shape their destiny independently. Mankind is now faced with the common task of strengthening the historical current and building a free and peaceful new world. In order to build the new world aspired to by mankind, it is necessary to abolish the unequal old international order in all fields of politics, the economy and culture and establish an equitable new international order…No privilege and no arbitrariness should be tolerated in international relations; friendship and cooperation among countries must be fully developed on the principles of mutual resect, non-interference in the affairs of other countries, equality and mutual benefit…Disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction is the most pressing task in ensuring peace…The Korean people, who are constantly under the threat of nuclear weapons, have proposed the abolition of nuclear weapons as a vital matter relating to the destiny of the nation. We strongly assert that the Korean peninsula should be made a nuclear-free, peace zone. We strongly support the peace movement of the peoples of many countries for disarmament and for the creation of nuclear-free, peace zones…The unity of the people throughout the world and cooperation among them are the guarantee for the victory of their common cause of creating a new world…The political philosophy of our state is the Juche idea which requires that all consideration should be centred on man and that everything should be made to serve him. By fighting in single-hearted unity under the banner of the Juche idea our people have been able to build, even under the most difficult conditions and circumstances, man-centred socialism in which the people are the genuine masters of the society and everything in society serves them…Reunifying Korea is the vital requirement of our nation; it is an important question in international politics. The Korean people are a homogenous nation that has lived on the same territory generation after generation, a nation celebrated for its long history and fine cultural traditions…The desire of our nation for reunification has already become fused to surmount the barrier of division, and their belief that Korea is one has become unshakable…I hope that your stay in our country will be pleasant and useful and I wish you success in your honourable work.”

Two years later, in November, thousands of Koreans were elected to local government bodies. Specifically, 2,520 Koreans were elected to provincial and local people’s assemblies this year. [66] That year, on page 19 of an October 1997 US Census report, which was strongly anti-DPRK, the information by the DRPK Central Bureau of Statistics, was released for US policymakers, not the general populace of the United States of course. This census, regardless of the claims by jingoistic neoconservative economists like Nicholas Eberstadt, showed that 20.5 million people were living the DPRK, with roughly 9.6 million who were male and approximately 10.8 million who were female. Additionally, a broad majority of the population was under age 59, with about 8.4 million under the age of 59. The below map, fro page 38 of the US Census report previously cited shows population densities in the DPRK in 1993, proving that the pictures of the Korean Peninsula at night which are used to say that the country is “primitive” and “uncivilized” is clearly imperialist propaganda:

population-in-1993

In July 1998, eight years and 3 months after the 1990 election, Koreans expressed themselves at the ballot box once again. With full participation in the elections for the 10th SPA, General Secretary Kim Jong Il elected as a deputy, showing that the DPRK was “an invincible socialist government and increasing the potentials of Korean socialism.” [67] More specifically, with signs like “long live the revolutionary government of workers and peasants founded by the great leader comrade Kim Il Sung and led by the respected comrade Kim Jong Il” and “let all of us participate in the election of deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly to build up the revolutionary government” outside the polling booths, Koreans voted for “…officials, servicemen, workers, farmers and working intellectuals, who have devotedly worked for the good of the country and people,” and even “mobile ballot boxes available to those electors who were not able to go to the polls due to old ages and diseases,” with celebrations of the day of voting. [68] Even the hard-nosed bourgeois scholars in the West had to admit that in this election, Koreans elected “443 new members, including 107 active duty military members.” [69] In the election, the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland had a wonderful and sweeping victory once again, showing that they have support of the masses. [70] The below chart shows how this victory played out in the distribution of the 687 deputies, 138 of whom are women, 215 who are manual workers, and 64 who were farmers, not to mention those of other professions:

spa-1998

During session, Kim Jong-il is re-elected as chairman of National Defense Commission and DPRK socialist constitution, which became the Kim Il-Sung Constitution, revised. [71] The new constitution gave more authority to the National Defense Commission, abolished the post of President, and asserted a continuing strong direction of the socialist state. After this, Kim Jong-il removed 16 of the country’s “23 main economic bureaucrats,” approved plans for “economic reforms that were finally implemented in July 2002” and the SPA passed legislation on “special economic zones, copyrights, arbitration, foreign direct investment, and foreign trade.” Still, Freedom House scowled even with the change in the constitution, renamed the “Kim Il-sung Constitution,” declaring with anger that “private property ownership is banned.” [73]

In March of the following year, there were elections on the local government level. The result of them was that the Korean people chosen, with their ballots, 29,442 workers, farmers, intellectuals, and military staff, who became deputies of local people’s assemblies, all of whom had four year terms. [74] The same year, not only did ROK ships sink a KPA (Korean People’s Army) torpedo beat, but the DPRK declared a new demilitarized zone and thousands of workers in Seoul protested “government plans to privatize state-run power, gas, financial firms” while the DPRK seemed to “open” its economy to foreign investment, with details not exactly clear. [75] In more positive news, records showed that about 765,000 Koreans were attending kindergarten, over 1.5 million were in primary school, and over 2.1 million in secondary school, along with 37,000 kindergarten teachers, 69,000 primary school teachers, and 113,000 secondary school teachers. [76] College is also open to all, but they are still fighting for increased gender equity in their high education system, which still had too many male professors.

Also, apart from the uptick in its economy, even acknowledged by the CIA, the DPRK was accused of sending Iran missile parts that year. The actual record, charted below, shows the following arms sent by the DPRK over the years [77], showing that the socialist state clearly believes in international solidarity:

countries-dprk-has-given-arms
Countries that the DPRK has given arms over the years. Also, they have given arms to Hamas and Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Gaza as an act of solidarity with Palestinian armed struggle.
dprkarms1
The 4000 9M14 Malyutka anti-tank missiles given to Iran during the Iran-Iraq War are not included on the chart, as it would unbalance it and make it harder to read.

dprkarms2

Fast forward to 2003. In the elections that year, in August, there was full participation by the Korean populace in electing the 11th SPA, with 687 deputies elected, with the government seeing this as an expression of trust and support in them (it was that exactly) and “a manifestation of our army and people’s steadfast will to consolidate the people’s power as firm as a rock and accomplish the revolutionary cause of Juche under the guidance of the Workers’ Party of Korea.” [78] During the voting, not only where mobile ballot boxes provided for “those who were not able to go to the polls due to illness or old age” but most polling booths had posters and national flags, the former saying, for example “Let’s participate in the voting for deputies to the People’s Assembly and give our support to them!” While Westerners still said the elections weren’t fair, there is no doubt that women made up 20% of the membership of the SPA, and laws were passed to protect people with disabilities, “ensuring equal access for persons with disabilities to public services” as the US State Department even had to admit. Later on in the 11th SPA, Kim Jong Il was re-elected as Chairman of the DPRK’s National Defense Commission. It is also worth noting that the same year there were local elections where 26,650 “officials, workers, peasants and intellectuals” were elected to municipal, city, and county people’s assemblies, and that apart from the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan being elected to the SPA, nearly half of the legislature’s members were replaced! [79] The following chart shows this to be the case:

spa2003

 

Apart from a predictable Pew Poll that year which said that “more than three-in-four (77%) Americans see the current government in North Korea as a great or moderate danger to Asia,” the DPRK made a bold move. They withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, and later calls for denuclearization of Korean peninsula. [80] On January 10, the government of the DPRK released a statement explaining their withdrawal:

“A dangerous situation where our national sovereignty and our State’s security are being seriously violated is prevailing on the Korean peninsula due to the U.S. vicious hostile policy towards the DPRK. The United States instigated the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to adopt another resolution against the DPRK…Under its manipulation, the IAEA in those resolutions termed the DPRK ‘criminal’ and demanded it scrap what the U.S. called a ‘nuclear program’…the IAEA still remains a servant and a spokesman for the U.S. and the NPT is being used as a tool for implementing the U.S. hostile policy towards the DPRK aimed to disarm it and destroy its system by force…It is none other than the U.S. which wrecks peace and security on the Korean peninsula and drives the situation there to an extremely dangerous phase. After the appearance of the Bush administration, the United States listed the DPRK as part of an ‘axis of evil’, adopting it as a national policy to oppose its system, and singled out it as a target of pre-emptive nuclear attack, openly declaring a nuclear war…it [the US] also answered the DPRK’s sincere proposal for the conclusion of the DPRK-U.S. non-aggression treaty and its patient efforts for negotiation with such threats as ‘blockade’ and ‘military punishment…It was due to such nuclear war moves of the U.S. against the DPRK and the partiality of the IAEA that the DPRK was compelled to declare its withdrawal from the NPT in March 1993…[as of now] the DPRK government declares an automatic and immediate effectuation of its withdrawal from the NPT…it declares that the DPRK withdrawing from the NPT is totally free from the binding force of the Safeguards Accord with the IAEA….The withdrawal from the NPT is a legitimate self-defensive measure taken against the U.S. moves to stifle the DPRK…Though we pull out of the NPT, we have no intention to produce nuclear weapons and our nuclear activities at this stage will be confined only to peaceful purposes such as the production of electricity.”

 

Jump ahead to 2006. That year, the elite Council of Foreign Relations claimed that the DPRK’s government had begun to “introduce aspects of capitalism into the economy.” While they made this conclusion, they also admitted that whatever they considered these reforms, they were barely anything.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH
A picture of the ballot box in the DPRK in August 2007.

The following year, the Korean people again expressed their democratic desires at the ballot box. Specifically, 27,390 “officials, workers, farmers and intellectuals”were elcted to provincal, city, and county people’s assemblies. [81]

Two years later, in March 2009, Koreans voted for candidates for the 12th SPA, with posters reminding the populace of the importance of voting, how it is a civic duty. While some in the bourgeois Western media, apart from mocking the election as “anti-democratic,” predicted it would be part of a “wider shake-up of the country’s leadership” and speculated why the election had been delayed from 2008 to this year, saying it could have been because of the ill-health of Kim Jong-il, few of them recognized that 324, of the 687 deputies in the legislature, were replaced. [82] In the election, which had, basically, full participation of the populace, deputies were elected for five-year terms, including Kim Jong-Il, but not his son Kim Jong-Un,  and the country rightly rejecting any push for “economic liberalisation” in the country, rolling back “moderate economic reforms instituted in 2002.” [83] Apart from this, and claims of disruptions in the elections, by anti-DPRK media, possibly indicating machinations of Western imperialists, numerous “technocrats and financial experts” were elected, 107 women were elected, Mr. Choe Thae Bok was elected as a speaker of the assembly, and Kim Jong-il as the Chairman of the National Defense Commission. [84]

The distribution of the 12th SPA, of which 107 deputies were women, 116 deputies were soldiers, 75 deputies were workers, and 69 deputies were farmers, showed that democracy still shines in the DPRK:

spa2009

In the foregoing session of the SPA, apart from Kim Jong-Un given high state-level positions, even referred to within the country by mid-2009 as “Brilliant Comrade” reportedly, there were revisions to the DPRK’s constitution, by removing the the word “communism” from the constitution, replacing it with the term “Songun” or socialism, while giving National Defense Commission (NDC) more governmental power. [85] The new constitution, the Shogun Constitution, also asserts protections of human rights, says that the DPRK will wage “three revolutions — ideological, technological, and cultural — to achieve the fatherland’s reunification,” protect the “democratic national rights of Korean compatriots overseas,” enhance the “ideological consciousness and the technological and cultural standards of farmers, manage the economy “scientifically and rationally on the basis of the collective strength,” encourage “joint ventures and business collaboration between the organs, enterprises, and organizations…[and] the establishment and operation of various forms of enterprises in special economic zones,” among many other aspects. There was also a revision of the DPRK’s criminal law, that year, which establishes the necessary rules for maintaining the “state and the socialist system” of the country with a stress on “social education” (Article 2), forgiving past criminal history if someone works to re-unify the Korean Peninsula (Article 4), medical help for those who commit offenses and are “mentally unbalanced” before they are charged (Article 13), offenses committed in self-defense to protect the DPRK and its socialist system will not be punished (Article 15), death penalty cannot be imposed on those under age 18 or on pregnant women” (Article 29), convicted criminals may have their “penalty cancelled under a special or general pardon” (Article 53), and much more.

The same year, it was evident that “export-oriented subsectors such as mining and metals” showed the greatest economic activity, as noted by a research institute which made, predictably, bourgeois conclusions. There was also a meeting between DPRK and Chinese delegations later in 2009 to continue their strong bilateral relations, and more stable food prices as even bourgeois sources had to admit.

313485878069d710f30e6a706700e2fe
AP Photo. Original caption w/o political determinations: “Voters walk in and out at the entrance of a polling station in Pyongyang during local assembly elections in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday, July 24, 2011.”

Two years later, in July 2011, there were local elections with fanfare. Songs reverberated across the country and flags fluttered over polling stations which were crowded with voters. [86] Some candidates, such as an engineer named Jim Song Un, pledged to “live up to the expectations of the people who voted for me and become a true servant of the people,” and said that he would help build “an economically powerful nation.” [87] Additionally, in these elections, Kim Jong Un was elected as one of the 28,116 deputies who took their seats in local assemblies, which meet various times a year to approve budgets, endorse leaders of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and a myriad of other duties. [88] Later that year, Kim Jong-un, was formally named as the supreme commander of DPRK’s military. [89]

The same year, two analyses of the DPRK’s economics were put forward. Once was by investopedia which noted that the country’s economy was hit hard with the demise of the Soviet Union, with a fall in total production, but that thee was a recovery after 1999, continuing to 2005, a downturn in 2006, then positive growth since 2011. [90] Of course, this is by their capitalistic economics, so their measurements could be skewed. Neoconservative, and jingoist, economist Nicholas Eberstadt, of the American Enterprise Institute complained most of all. [91] While agreeing with the “severe economic shock” the country faced after the demise of the Soviet Union, he claimed widely that the country had gone into a “catastrophic decline,” had a “mass famine,” complained that the country is in “principle a planned Soviet-type economy,” about the “military burden” put on the economy, the country’s “unrelenting war against its own consumers.” If that wasn’t enough, he claimed that the economy was “dysfunctional,” said that effort of the country to “open” and “Reform” have “ultimately ended in failure” and that the economy of the country will “remain the black hole in the Northeast Asian economy.” Clearly, Eberstadt is just another tool of Western imperialism, bashing those countries who have economic systems different from the West, saying that they are just not right in his eyes. Very selfish and Eurocentric of him to think that way, no doubt.

In 2012, there were a number of other developments. For one, Kim Jong-Il was named as “eternal chairman” of the National Defense Commission, along with being elected as the First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the Central Military Commission, there were a number of “approved amendments to the country’s constitution” as Xinhua noted. When he was elected, at the fourth conference of the party in its history, as First Secretary of the WPK, fellow party members vowed to follow the ideas of Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un’s leadership to develop their country, while they demonstrated “the revolutionary will of the people to accomplish the songun (military-first) revolutionary cause under the leadership of Kim Jong Un.” Broadly, “section 2 of Chapter 6 and Articles 91, 95 and 100-105, 107, 109, 116, 147 and 156 of the Constitution in line with the institution of the new post of first chairman of the NDC” (National Defense Commission) were revised. [92] More specifically, while some speculated on economic reforms related to this and other statements later on that year, the constitution, the Kim Il-sung–Kim Jong-il Constitution to be exact, in the  preamble. [93] In the most recent iteration of the Constitution (revised again in 2013 and 2016), still called the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution,” it mentions that Kim Il Sung helped make the country a “nuclear state” and “unchallengable military power” in the preamble, with no other mention of it in the rest of the constitution whatsoever.

On April 12, 2012,Kim Jong Un gave a rousing speech in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square, which some thought was a call for the beginning of “China-style economic reform” in the DPRK, as part of “decisive transformation” he was calling for. [94] A rough transcription of the speech,  told another story. He said the following to comrades in Pyongyang and the Korean people at-large:

“…Today, we proceed with a grand military parade to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung…[and] let the whole world know about the splendor of the socialist powerful state…I express my respect to the anti-Japanese revolutionary patriotic martyrs and the people’s army patriotic martyrs, who sacrificed their invaluable lives for the fatherland’s independence and the people’s liberation…I express gratitude to foreign friends, who are extending their positive support to the just cause of our people…the very appearance of our nation a century ago was a small and weak, pitiful colonial nation that had to endure flunkeyism and national ruin as its fate…Great Comrade Kim Il Sung early on elucidated the philosophical principle that the gun barrel is the life of the nation and also victory of the revolution, and founded the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army…[our country has] the status of a world-class militarily powerful state through the ever-victorious military-first politics…Military technological supremacy is not a monopoly of imperialists any more…Comrades, today we are standing at the watershed of history, when a new chuch’e century begins….At the historic fourth Party Representatives Conference and the fifth session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly that took place a few days ago, great Comrade Kim Jong Il was held in high esteem…This is an indication of the steadfast will of our party, army, and people to inherit and complete to the end the chuch’e revolutionary cause…The farsighted strategy of our revolution and ultimate victory lie here in directly proceeding along the path of independence, the path of military-first, and the path of socialism unfolded by the great Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il…It is our party’s resolute determination to let our people who are the best in the world — our people who have overcome all obstacles and ordeals to uphold the party faithfully — not tighten their belts again and enjoy the wealth and prosperity of socialism as much as they like…We will have to embark on the comprehensive construction of an economically powerful state by kindling more fiercely, the flames of the industrial revolution of the new century and the flames of South Hamgyong Province…Our cause is just and the might of Korea that is united with truth is infinite…I will be a comrade-in-arms who always shares life and death and destiny with comrades on the road of the sacred military-first revolution and will fulfill my responsibility for the fatherland and revolution by upholding Comrade Kim Jong Il’s behest…Move forward toward the final victory.”

1st-session-of-13th-supreme-peoples-assembly-of-dprk
Members of the 13th SPA assembly at their first session. The YouTube description says that “Deputy Kim Yong Nam made a speech on the election of the first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK. He courteously proposed to the SPA the proposal of the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea on electing Kim Jong Un as first chairman of the NDC of the DPRK…The proposal was fully supported and approved by all deputies and participants. The session solemnly declared that Kim Jong Un was elected first chairman of the NDC of the DPRK…The session elected the president of the Presidium of the SPA of the DPRK and its vice-presidents, honorary vice-presidents, secretary general and members.” And that’s even a broad summary.

In March 2014, the Korean people went to the polls, to elect those who were serve in the 13th SPA assembly, with the next elections in 2019. While the elections were declared a  “formality” by the Western media, they again distort the reality. [95] In fact, with full participation of the populace, of the 687 deputies elected, 112 of them were women, about 55 percent of serving parliamentarians “were reportedly renewed,” the ambassador to China, Ji Jae Ryong, and Kim Jong Un joined the SPA as deputies. [96] The below chart shows the distribution of deputies in the 13th SPA:

spa2014

During the 13th SPA, Mr. Choe Thoe Bak was re-elected as speaker/chairman of the assembly, Mr. Pak Pong Ju was elected as the Premier of the Cabinet and Kim Jong Un was re-confirmed as First Chairman of the National Defence Commission, along with other appointments by Kim Jong Un. [97] In later sessions, there was also, continuing implementation of compulsory education in the DPRK by improving educational conditions in the socialist state as part of a plan proposed by Kim Jong Un to construct a “world power of socialist education in the 21st century,” a report on the previous years budget which pushed forward “the economic construction [of the DPRK] and the building of nuclear force,” and reinforcing the role of the Workers’ Party of Korea in developing socialist revolution. [98] Apart from Kim Jong Un’s speech before the SPA, he was absent because of ill health even as he continued to push forward socialism. [99]

Voters dance near the voting station in Tonghungsan district, Hamhung, South Hamgyong province, on July 19, 2015.
Voters dance near the voting station in Tonghungsan district, Hamhung, South Hamgyong province, on July 19, 2015.

The following year, local elections in July, had almost full participation, as everyone over age 17 is allowed to vote, with 28,452 deputies elected. [100] Most interesting is one video interviewing two female voters and one male voter, while showing the voting in action, something that is often not seen. Hilariously that year was not the trip of a parliamentarian to Russia, but the reaction to a map by the Washington Post. The map, by the Electoral Integrity Project described the DPRK and Cuba “as having moderate quality elections,” the same category that the US was in! In a moment of cognitive dissodence, the Post noted in an edit at the bottom of the article this needs to be “interpreted” and that it “does not mean that these countries are electoral or liberal democracies. The indicators measure expert perceptions of the quality of an election based on multiple criteria derived from international standards.” [101]

The next year, 2016, there are a number of developments worth noting. In the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Kim Jong Un made a speech, apart from the formalities, said that the DPRK will continue down the line of “Byungjin,” the parallel  “development of nuclear weapons and national economy as long as the nuclear threat posed by imperialists continues,” and declared thatthe county is a nuclear weapons state, but will still “strive for world denuclearization and faithfully fulfill obligations of nuclear non-proliferation” as much as humanely possible. Later that year, apart from the appearance of Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yon Yong at a session of the 13th SPA, dressed “in a black suit, while holding up her ballot,” he gave a New Years Address. [102] The address in the civilized socialis nation was accompanied by a mass rally. As I noted in my post two months ago, in which I noted the Trump Administration’s offensive posture toward the county, I said that Kim Jong Un

“offered warm greetings to the Korean people and “progressive peoples across the world,” saying that in 2016 the DPRK consolidated its self-defense by achieving the status “of a nuclear power, a military giant, in the East which no enemy, however formidable, would dare to provoke…after reviewing the accomplishments of the previous year and challenging the country to more, [he] then said, referring to the DPRK and the Korean people, “we should turn out again in the new year’s march towards a greater victory…we should concentrate our efforts on implementing the five-year strategy for national economic development.” He later declared…that the country’s defense forces should “politically and militarily and maintain full combat readiness to firmly defend the socialist system and the people’s lives and property” and said that the DPRK will “continue to build up our self-defence capability…and the capability for preemptive strike as long as the United States and its vassal forces [the South Koreans and Japanese] keep on nuclear threat and blackmail.” In sum, whatever Trump does to attack them, the DPRK will be ready in force”

And that’s where we stand now. I could go into more detail on the DPRK’s accurate depiction of racial terror in the United States, the many articles that look at the legal system of the socialist nation, the specifics of the country’s first “five year plan” from 1957-1961, and a page on elections in the country. I could even look into if Bruce Cummings is really the “leftist” who defends the DPRK that right-wingers say he is. But, I really do think I have done enough. Some may complain that I’m using bourgeois sources or that I wasn’t “radical enough” in my analysis. That is utter hogwash and is sectarianism. I am aware that this article is thin in some areas but that is because I only beginning my understanding of the socialist nation, that fact that am still learning, working on applying Marxist theory to these types of articles, and the lack of information in many respects when it coms to elections. I’m actually surprised by the amount of information out there, but someone needed to bring it all together and display it in a user-friendly manner. If any of the links to Wikipedia pages bothered you, that’s just too bad because they are a good source for starter information, in some cases, especially if yours truly edits a page on the free encyclopedia, like this one on the Down-With-Imperialism Union.

I hope that I can make these types of articles on elections the beginning of a series. But considering the length and time it took me to write this article, I’m not sure if that will happen again. We’ll see. Regardless, it is my hope that everyone who read this learned something about the DPRK which counters the relentless propaganda about the country which makes it near impossible to know what is happening in the country other than what they claim is “terror” (which is often just made up) and makes turning to outlets like the Pyongyang Times, KCNA, Rodong Sinmun, and other official government sources essential to recognize the reality.

Notes

[1] Ting Shi, “China’s Spat With Kim Jong Un Shows Difficulties in Stopping Him,” Bloomberg Politics, Feb. 26, 2017; “Kim Jong Nam killing: DPRK blames S. Korea,” The Herald, Feb. 24, 2017; ‘North Korea harshly criticizes main ally China,’ PressTV, Feb. 24, 2017; Deirdre Griswold, “Behind the new lies about Korea,” Worker’s World, March 8, 2017; KCNA, “DPRK Foreign Ministry Labels Malaysian Ambassador as Persona Non Grata,” March 6, 2017. The latter article says the following: “The Foreign Ministry of the DPRK notifies that the Malaysian ambassador to the DPRK is labeled as a persona non grata under a relevant article [article 9] of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and demanded that the ambassador leave the DPRK within 48 hours from 10:00 on March 5 (Sunday), 2017.”

[2]”North Korea Overview,” page on Amnesty International site archived on Feb. 26, 2017; “North Korea,” page on Human Rights Watch site archived on Feb. 26, 2017.

[3] Report on “Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of” by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, archived on Feb. 26, 2017; Page on “Korea, North” on the CIA World Factbook, some time in 2016, has not changed from the current page.

[4] South Korean Revolutionary Party for Re-Unification, “On the Re-Unification of the Korean Fatherland,” The Black Panther, May 1, 1971, p. 14.

[5] p. 3 of “The Parliamentary System of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Extract from the Minutes of the Pyongyang session in April-May 1991, Inter-Parliamentary Union.

[6] p. 3-4 of “The Parliamentary System of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” By 1991, the DPRK’s representative said “since liberation up to now the election of deputies of the SPA has been held 9 times.” There are claims Stalin edited the first constitution of the DPRK but this cannot be independently confirmed.

[7] Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook: Vol. II: South East Asia, East Asia, and South Pacific, ed. Dieter Nohlen, Florian Grotz, and Christof Hartmann (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, first publishing), 395-396, 398, 403, 405, 407; Remembering and Forgetting: The Legacy of War and Peace in East Asia, ed. Gerrit W. Gong (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic & International Studies, 1996), 68, 77; Daniel Tudor, Korea: The Impossible Country Tuttle Publishing:2012), 70. Wikipedia lists the following other sources: Par Carter Malkasian (2001) The Korean War, 1950-1953 Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, p13 ISBN 1-57958-364-4; East Gate Book (2003) North Korea Handbook: Yonhap News Agency Seoul, p124 ISBN 0765610043. 1.51% of people voted against this coalition but this was not enough of a percentage to gain any seats in the SPA.

[8] Ibid. Elsewhere the document describes the SPA as “the highest national representative organ of the entire people that is composed of the representatives of workers, farmers, soldiers and intellectuals from all the political parties, social organizations and other sectors of society.”

[9] Ibid, 4-5.

[10] Ibid, 6. The DPRK representative also says that “an election of a new SPA is held by a decision of the Standing Committee of the SPA prior to expiry of the term of office of the current SPA.” While some may cry autocracy, I think what he is saying here is that the Standing Committee helps organize the next (or current) election of the SPA.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid, 8. It also says “thus in the DPRK all children of pre-school age are brought up at the expense of the State and the society and free compulsory education is in enforcement for rising generation until their working ages. University and college students receive scholarship from the State.”

[13] Ibid. It also says “a constitution should be approved by more than two thirds of all deputies, whereas other ordinances and decisions of the SPA should be approved by more than a half of all deputies present at the meeting.”

[14] Ibid, 9. These individuals are chosen on his recommendation: “Vice-Presidents and the First Vice-Chairman, the Vice-Chairmen and Members of the National Defence Commission are elected, the Secretary General and members of the Central People’s Committee, the Secretary General and members of the Standing Committee of the SPA and the President of the Central Court are elected or transferred, and the Public Prosecutor General is appointed or removed.”

[15] Ibid. They also elects its Chairman and Vice-Chairmen who preside over the sessions, and have the power to “appoint committees as its assistant bodies when it decide that they are necessary for the success of its activities.”

[16] Ibid, 9-12.

[17] Ibid, 13. This document also says that the “system of the State organs consists of power organs, administrative organs, and judiciary and procuratorial organs” which includes “central power organs such as the above-mentioned Supreme People’s Assembly, the President of the DPRK and the Central People’s Committee, and local power organs like the People’s Assemblies and People’s Committees of province, city and county. The administrative organs are composed of the Administration Council in the centre and Administration Committees or province, city and county. Judiciary and procuratorial organs are made up of the Central Court and the Central Public Prosecutors Office of the centre and the provincial courts and people’s courts, and public prosecutors offices of province, city and county…The President is the Head of State and represents the State power of the DPRK.The President is elected by and accountable for his work to the Supreme People’s Assembly…The President is accountable for his work to the SPA…The term of office of the President is four years, because he is elected in the SPA, which, in its turn, is elected anew in every four years. The President, as the head of the Central People’s Committee, which is the highest leadership organ of the State power.”

[18] David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korea War (New York: Hyperion, 2007) 54, 63, 67, 138, 144.

[19] North Korea Handbook, ed. Yonhap News Agency Seoul (London: M.E. Sharpe, 2003), 820, 941. The KFA site goes on to say that “the working class of Kangson and all other working people across the country responded to the leader’s call and bravely overcame trials and difficulties which stood in the way of their advance…Industrial production [by 1958] grew at the annual average rate of 36.6 per cent. All this fully showed the heroic stamina and creative talents of the Korean people galloping forward in the speed of Chollima.”

[20] North Korea Handbook, 124-126, 820, 941; (bourgeois academic) Andrei Lankov, Crisis in North Korea: The Failure of De-Stalinization, 1956 (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2005), 83-184, 240; Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook, 396, 398-399, 404. In previous elections in 1948, 1 delegate was elected per every 50,000 people, whereas in this session the Five-Year Plan was implemented.

[21] Elections in Asia and the Pacific, p. 157, 404.

[22] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Han Young Jing, “What are Local Elections Like in North Korea?,” Daily NK (anti-DPRK publication), May 31, 2006; Andrei Lankov (hates the DPRK), “N Korea elections: An empty show?,” Al Jazeera, March 7, 2014.

[23] American University, Area handbook for Korea, Page 278; Robert A. Scalapino and Chong-Sik Lee, Communism in Korea: The movement (Ilchokak, Jan 1, 1972), 572;   North Korea Handbook, p. 126, 185, 949; Barry Gills (bourgeois academic), Korea versus Korea: A Case of Contested Legitimacy (New York: Routledge, 2005), 214; The Statesman’s Year-Book 1987-88, ed. J. Paxton, xxxviii. Very few of the local elections have good data on Wikipedia.

[24] Compare this with the 1949 elections when 689 provincial people’s assembly deputies, 5,164 city and county people’s assembly deputies elected, 13,354 deputies for township people’s assemblies were elected, and 56,112 deputies for town, neighborhood, village and workers’ district people’s assembly, were elected (North Korea Handbook, p. 126). A few years later in Nov. 1956, 54,279 deputies for town, neighborhood, villages and workers’ district people’s assemblies were elected, along with 1,009 provincial people’s assembly deputies and 9,364 city and county people’s assembly deputies also elected later in the month (North Korea Handbook, p. 126). Then three years later, in 1959, 9,759 city, county and district people’s assembly deputies and 53,882 town, neighborhood, village and workers’ district people’s assembly deputies were elected (North Korea Handbook, p. 126).

[25] Area Handbook for North Korea, 1969, p. 232; North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[26] Robert A. Scalapino and Chong-Sik Lee (bourgeois academics), Communism in Korea: The society, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972, 726, 793-795.

[27] North Korea Handbook, p. 124.

[28] Pak Ung Gil, “We Scathingly Condemn U.S. Imperialism for Brutal Suppression of the U.S. Black Panther Party,” The Black Panther, Jan. 30, 1971, p. 13. Reprinted from The Pyongyang Times.

[29] Ibid, 12.

[30] “Declaration of the Executive Secretariat of OSPAAL (Organization of Solidarity of the Peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America) on the Occasion of the Detention of a Pilot of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by the South Korean Puppet Clique,” The Black Panther, Mar. 20, 1971, p. 14; On the same page is a Kim Il Sung poster declaring “If the U.S. imperialists provoke another aggressive war they will get nothing but corpses and death!”

[31] South Korean Revolutionary Party for Re-Unification, “On the Re-Unification of the Korean Fatherland,” The Black Panther, May 1, 1971, p. 15.

[32] Central Committee of the Black Panther Party, “April 15, Birthday Greetings to Comrade Kim Il Sung, Courageous and Beloved Leader of 40 Million Korean People,” The Black Panther, Apr. 17, 1971, p. 11.

[33] The Statesman’s Year-Book 1972-73, ed. J. Paxton, p. 1123; IBP, Inc., Korea North Country Study Guide Vol. 1, p. 47-48; “Polity IV Country Report 2010: North Korea,” Center for Systematic Peace, 2011; CountryWatch Elections: North Korea; North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[34] North Korea Handbook, p. 124.

[35] p. 6 of “The Parliamentary System of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

[36] p. 7 of “The Parliamentary System of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

[37] Mitchell Lerner, “Making Sense of the ‘Hermit Kingdom’: North Korea in the Nuclear Age,” vol. 2, issue 3, Dec. 2008, Origins magazine, accessed Feb. 27, 2017.

[38] North Korea Handbook, p. 126; The Statesman’s Year-Book 1976-77, ed. J. Paxton, p. 1109.

[39] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[40] There is a delineation of parties shown on page 405 of Elections in Asia and the Pacific, but 401 deputies could not be identified by party affiliation, so it cannot be used. Still, of the data they have, it shows that the Workers’ Party of Korea with the most seats.

[41] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chapter 1: “Major International Developments in 1977,” Diplomatic Bluebook, 1977.

[42] This was also apparently the year that Marxism-Leninism was replaced in the Constitution by Juche, but this cannot be independently confirmed.

[43] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[44] Eric Talmadge, “Senior North Korean leader to attend Nicaragua inauguration,” Associated Press, January 6, 2017; BBC News, “South Korea – Timeline,” February 3, 2017; Junheng Li, “North Korea Offers an Opportunity for China and the U.S.,” Bloomberg View, February 21, 2017.

[45] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[46] The Statesman’s Year-Book 1986-87, ed. J. Paxton (New York: MacMillian Ltd, 1986), p. 770-771; Yves Beigbeder, International Monitoring of Plebiscites, Referenda and National Elections: Self-determination and Transition to Democracy (London: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1994), 49.

[47] North Korea Handbook, p. 124.

[48] All of these sources are bourgeois, but used anyhow. Kathryn Benken, Korea Lesson Plan “North Korea: The Dynasty of Communism,” NCTA Oxford 2009, Life Skills Centers of Hamilton County; Nicholas Eberstadt, Chapter 1: “North Korea’s Unification Policy-A Long, Failed Gamble,” The End of North Korea (American Enterprise Press, 1999), reprinted in the New York Times books section; Andrew C. Nahm, “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” The Far East and Australasia, 34th Edition (London: Europa Publications, 2002), p.654.

[49] “News Summary; MONDAY, MARCH 8, 1982,” New York Times, accessed March 2, 2017. This summary says that “Iran is receiving military equipment and arms worth millions of dollars from Israel, North Korea, Syria, Libya, the Soviet Union and Western Europe to wage war against Iraq, Western intelligence sources said…Syria accused the United States and Iraq of supplying Moslem fundamentalists with weapons with which to fight the Syrian Government. The Syrian President, Hafez al-Assad…said that Washington supported the Moslem Brotherhood organization in its ”subversive activity” in Syria.”

[50] North Korea Handbook, p. 126; Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Report Submitted to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Volume 1985 (Washington, D.C: Government Printing Office, 1986), 791, 796.

[51] The Far East and Australasia, p. 654.

[52] Ibid.

[53] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[54] Sergey Radchenko, “Sport and Politics on the Korean Peninsula – North Korea and the 1988 Seoul Olympics,” Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, December 12, 2011.

[55] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Elections in Asia and the Pacific, p. 398.

[56] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Cath Senker, North Korea and South Korea (New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2013), 44.

[57] North Korea Handbook, p. 126. The DPRK was accused yet again of terrorism, this time on a Korean Air Lines plane, which is passed around in the Western media, but this cannot, again, be independently confirmed.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Elections in Asia and the Pacific, p. 406.

[60] P. 5 of “The Parliamentary System of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea“; North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Associated Press, “N. Korea Assembly Election Set for April,” February 24, 1990.

[61] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; “Nationalism and Communism in Korea.”

[62] “Nationalism and Communism in Korea“; Victor Cha and Ji-Young Lee, “Politics of North Korea,” Oxford Biographies, August 26, 2013.

[63] “Kim Jong Il’s North Korea -An Arduous March,” Spot Survey, ed. Kazunobu Hayashi and Teruo Komaki, March 1997.

[64] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[65] Nick Knight and Michael Heazle, Understanding Australia’s Neighbours: An Introduction to East and Southeast Asia, Second Edition (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 126; Gordon L. Rottman, Korean War Order of Battle: United States, United Nations, and Communist Group, Naval, and Air Forces, 1950-1953 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002), 149; David E. Sanger, “North Korea Reluctantly Seeks U.N. Seat,” New York Times, May 29, 1991; BBC News, “North Korea profile – Timeline,” February 24, 2017; North Korea Handbook, p. 321; PBS, “End of a Superpower,” North Korea- Suspicious Minds, Januarry 2003; Jae-Cheon Lim, Kim Jong-il’s Leadership of North Korea (New York: Routledge, 2009), 17-18, 24, 58, 94-96, 98-99. ROK was admitted as a UN member the same year as the DPRK. Chuch’e idea mentioned in some areas.

[66] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[67] KCNA, “Rodong Sinmun on successful election of deputies to SPA,” July 1998; CNN, “North Korean parliament seen set to name Kim president,” August 20, 1998; Times Wire Reports, “Kim Jong Il Election Likely Steppingstone,” Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1998.

[68] KCNA, “Korean voters participate in SPA election,” July 27, 1998; KCNA, “Kim Jong Il elected to SPA,” July 27, 1998; KCNA, “100 percent vote for candidates,” July 27, 1998.

[69] Bourgeois propaganda sources: Daniel Pinkston, “North Korea’s 11th Supreme People’s Assembly Elections,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, July 1, 2003; Freedom House, “Freedom in the World Report: North Korea,” 1998.

[70] Elections in Asia and the Pacific, p. 406.

[71] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Times Wire Reports, “Kim Jong Il Election Likely Steppingstone,” Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1998.

[72] Daniel Pinkston, “North Korea’s 11th Supreme People’s Assembly Elections,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, July 1, 2003.

[73] Bourgeois propaganda source: Freedom House, “Freedom in the World Report: North Korea,” 1998.

[74] Graham Hassall, Cheryl Saunders, Asia-Pacific Constitutional Systems (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 117; North Korea Handbook, p. 126. It was NOT the first year local elections were held in the country as deluded Western media claim, but rather that the timeline between local elections changed from every 2 years to an interval of every 4 years. Some sources noted that the SPA Presidum let citizens know about elections on January 26 and they voted by March 5-6, a pretty quick turnaround (Alexandre Mansourov, “North Korea’s July 19 Local Elections Dispel ROK Allegations of Public Unrest,” 38 North, August 6, 2015).

[75] World Atlas, “South Korea History Timeline,” 2016; accessed March 2, 2017; Sheryl Wudunn, “South Korea Sinks Vessel From North In Disputed Waters,” New York Times, June 15, 1999; Associated Press, “North Korea Opening (Gasp!) a Casino, July 31, 1999; Autoweek, “Yes, even North Korea has its own luxury car brand,” July 13, 2015; Nicholas D. Kristof, “South Korean Vessel Hits Boat From North During Standoff,” New York Times, June 10, 1999; Andrei Lankov, “N Korea: Not so ‘Stalinist’ after all,” Al Jazeera, April 2014.

[76] Daniel Schwekendiek, A Socioeconomic History of North Korea (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2011), 70-74, 81, 83. By 2002, the DPRK would start mobile phone services in the country. I think this book may be slightly anti-DPRK but not as hardline as elsewhere.

[77] Specifically, the DRPK had given the following countries arms: the Democratic Republic of Congo (3 P-4-class torpedo boats/Project 123 (1974) and 10 M-46 towed guns (1975)), Madagascar (4 MiG-17 fight aircraft (flown by DPRK pilots) (1975) and 4 Nampo landing craft (1979)), Libya (10 BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers (1980) and 5 Hwasong-6  tactical ballistic missiles (1999)), Guyana (12 D-30 howitzers (1980) and 6 Type 63 armored personnel carriers (1983), Tanzania (4 Nampo landing craft (1980)), Syria (50 BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers (1981-1984), 10 Type 63 multiple rocket launchers (1982), 12 MAZ-543 artillery trucks (1991-1993), 170 Hwasong-6 tactical ballistic missiles (1991-2000), and 100 Rodong-1 (“Scud Mod-D” as called by NATO) medium-range ballistic missiles (2000-2009), Egypt (145 BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers (1984-1987), Uganda (10 BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers (1987), 14 BTR-152 armored personnel carriers (1987), and 100 Strela-2 surface-to-air missile systems (1987)), UAE (6 MAZ-543 artillery trucks (1989) and 25 R-17 Elbrus missiles (1989), Iran (100 BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers (1982-1987), 150 T-62 medium tanks (1982-1983), 200 Type 63 multiple rocket launchers (1982-1986), 6 MiG-19 jet fighter aircraft (1983), 480 Type 59-1 field guns (1983-1988), 4000 9M14 Malyutka anti-tank missiles (1986-1989), 3 Chaho patrol craft (1987), 20 HY-2 anti-ship missiles (1987-1988), 20 M-1978 artillery pieces (1987-1988), 100 R-17 Elbrus missiles (1987-1988), 100 M-1985 multiple rocket launchers (1988-1998), 170 Hwasong-6 (called by NATO with the name “Scud”) tactical ballistic missiles  (1991-1993), 10 MAZ-543 artillery trucks (1993-1995), 15 Peykaap-Class torpedo boats (2002-2003), 3 Gahjae Class Submersible Attack Craft (2002), 3 Kajami-class Submersible Attack Craft (2002-2003), and 10 Tir-Class Patrol Craft (2002-2004)), Pakistan (2 Rodong surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) (1996-1997)), Viet Nam (100 Igla-1 Portable SAMs (1996-1997) and 25 Hwasong-6 tactical ballistic missiles (1998)), Myanmar (16 Type 59-1 field guns (1999)), Ethiopia (10 Type 63 armoured personnel carriers (2000)), Yemen (100 Hwasong-6 tactical ballistic missiles  (2001-2002)). Also, the DPRK gave Hamas 25 9M111 Fagot missiles (2014) and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Gaza: 25 9M111 Fagot missiles (2014).

[78] KCNA, “Kim Jong II Elected to SPA,” August 4, 2003; KCNA, “Foreigners Visit Polling Stations,” August 4, 2003; KCNA, “Results of SPA election Announced,” August 2003; Ian Jeffries, North Korea: A Guide to Economic and Political Developments, p. 392, 452; Daniel Pinkston, “North Korea’s 11th Supreme People’s Assembly Elections,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, July 1, 2003; Reuters, “North Korea Hails 100 Percent Poll Support for Leader Kim Jong Il,” July 4, 2003.

[79] KCNA, “Election Returns Announced,” August 2003; The People’s Korea, “DPRK Holds Election of Local and National Assemblies,” August 2003.

[80] Korea North Mining Laws and Regulations Handbook, Vol. 1 (USA: International Business Publications, 2011), 40; Double Trouble: Iran and North Korea as Challenges to International Security, ed. Patrick M. Cronin (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2008), p. 166.

[81] KCNA, “Results of Election of Deputies to Local Power Bodies Released,” July 2007.

[82] BBC News, “N Korea announces March election,” January 7, 2009; Kev Cho, Heejin Koo, “North Korea Holds Parliamentary Elections Amid Rising Tensions,” Bloomberg, March 7, 2009; Choe Sang-Hun, “Amid a Vote, North Korea Awaits Clues to Its Future,” New York Times, March 8, 2009; AFP, “N Korea’s Kim wins parliamentary seat: official media,” March 9, 2009.

[83] Reuters, “N.Korea vote may point to Kim successor,” March 8, 2009; Sohn Jie-Ae, “Kim secures seat after winning all the votes,” CNN, March 9, 2009; AFP, “North Korea ends registration for upcoming election,” March 5, 2009; ABC News (Australia), “Kim Jong-il’s son not among N Korea election winners,” March 10, 2009; BBC News, “N Korea announces March election,” January 7, 2009.

[84] Lee Sung Jin, “Increasing “Deaths” ahead of SPA Election,” Daily NK, March 9, 2009; Lee Sung Jin, “Defectors Detained in Chinese Prison Cast Proxy Votes,” Daily NK, March 16, 2009; Bona Kim, “Anti-election Graffiti around Pyongang Province,” Daily NK, April 14, 2009.

[85] Chosun Media, “N.Korean Parliament Boosts Kim Jong-il’s Powers,” September 25, 2009; B.R. Meyers, “The Constitution of Kim Jong Il,” Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2009; Na Jeong-ju, “NK Constitution States Kim Jong-il as Leader,” Korea Times, September 2009.

[86] BBC News, “North Korea elections: What is decided and how?,” July 19, 2015; AP, “North Korea begins local elections amid succession,” July 14, 2011 (early version of article on Asia Correspondent site); “DPRK unveils 2011-7-24 election posters,” North Korean Economic Watch (anti-DPRK site).

[87] Sam Kim, “North Korea holds local elections amid succession,” Associated Press, July 24, 2011.

[88] Agence France-Presse, “North Korean elections draw 99.97% turnout, says state media,” July 19, 2015. Reprinted in The Guardian.

[89] BBC News, “North Korea names Kim Jong-un army commander,” Dec. 31, 2011.

[90] Prableen Bajpai, “How the North Korea Economy Works,” Investopedia, January 30, 2015.

[91] Nicholas Eberstadt, “What is wrong with the North Korean economy,” American Enterprise Institute, July 1, 2011.

[92] Bourgeois source: Stephan Haggard, Luke Herman,  and Jaesung Ryu, “The Supreme People’s Assembly and “Cabinet Responsibility”: An Economic Reform Debate?,” Peterson Institute for International Economics, April 21, 2012; Yonhap News Agency, “(LEAD) N. Korea to convene unusual assembly session Sept. 25,” September 5, 2012.

[93] K.J. Kwon, “North Korea proclaims itself a nuclear state in new constitution,” CNN, May 31, 2012; NTI, “North Korea Updates Nuclear Status in Constitution,” May 30, 2012; Staff Reporter, “North Korea’s New Constitution Proclaims Itself a Nuclear Nation,” International Business Times, May 31, 2012; AFP, “New North Korea constitution proclaims nuclear status,” May 31, 2012.

[94] : Stephan Haggard, Luke Herman,  and Jaesung Ryu, “The Supreme People’s Assembly and “Cabinet Responsibility”: An Economic Reform Debate?,” Peterson Institute for International Economics, April 21, 2012; Bill Powell, “Is Kim Jong Un Preparing to Become North Korea’s Economic Reformer?,” Time, April 19, 2012; Yonhap News, “North Korea, Kim Jong Eun First Discourse ‘No Work’ Regulation,” April 20, 2012.

[95] Al Jazeera, “North Korea to hold parliamentary elections,” January 8, 2014; Alstair Gale, “North Korea’s Fake Election,” Wall Street Journal, Mar. 10, 2014; Rob Williams, “North Korea election: Kim Jong-un faces the vote – but of course there’s only one name on the ballot box,” The Independent, 2014; Choe, Sang-Hun, “North Korea Uses Election To Reshape Parliament,” The New York Times, March 10, 2014; BBC News, “North Korea’s Kim Jong-un in ‘unanimous poll win’,” March 10, 2014; BBC News, “North Koreans vote in rubber-stamp elections,” March 9, 2014; Harriet Alexander, “North Koreans ‘vote’ in elections – singing, dancing and reciting poetry,” The Telegraph, March 9, 2014; Peter Shadbolt, “North Korean election provides clues to reclusive Stalinist state,” CNN, March 7, 2014; Al Jazeera, “No votes cast against Kim Jong-un in poll,” March 10, 2014; Danielle Wiener-Bronner, “Yes, There Are Elections in North Korea and Here’s How They Work,” The Atlantic, March 6, 2014; Emily Rauhala, “North Korea Elections: A Sham Worth Studying,” Time, March 10, 2014; IFES election Guide: North Korea, 2014; Associated Press, “North Korea’s Kim Jong-un elected to assembly without single vote against,” The Guardian, March 10, 2014.

[96] KCNA, “Report of Credentials Committee of Deputies to 13th SPA,” April 9, 2014; Voice of Russia, “Kim Jong-un unanimously elected to North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly,” March 10, 2014.

[97] Michael Madden, “The NDC’s Fall Lineup: Results of the 13th SPA,” 38 North, October 6, 2014; Rodong Sinmun, “1st Session of 13th SPA of DPRK held,” April 10, 2014; KCNA, “Panel Committees of SPA of DPRK Elected,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “Director of Supreme Public Prosecutors Office Appointed, President of Supreme Court Elected,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “Members of DPRK Cabinet Appointed,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “Presidium of Supreme People’s Assembly of DPRK Elected,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “DPRK National Defence Commission Elected at SPA Session,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “Kim Jong Un Elected First Chairman of NDC of DPRK,” April 9, 2014.

[98] KCNA, “Report on Implementation of State Budget for 2013 and State Budget for 2014,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “Meeting of Political Bureau of C.C., WPK Held under Guidance of Kim Jong Un,” April 8, 2014; bourgeois sources: Institute for Far Eastern Studies, “North Korea Prioritizes Budget Support for the Modernization of Education in the Age of Knowledge-Based Economy,” September 18, 2014; KCNA, “1st Session of 13th SPA of DPRK Held,” April 9, 2014; James Pearson, “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un absent from parliament meet,” Reuters, September 25, 2014.

[99] James Pearson, “North Korean TV acknowledges leader Kim Jong Un’s health problems,” Reuters, September 26, 2014.

[100] Most of these sources are anti-DPRK, but included as they  discuss the election. Yonhap News, “North Korea Reports 99.97% Turnout In Local Elections,” July 20, 2015; Elizabeth Shim, “North Korea steps up propaganda ahead of regional elections,”UPI, July 15, 2015; Alma Milisic, “Foregone result in North Korea’s local elections,” Al Jazeera, July 19, 2015; Alexander Sehmer, “North Korean voters face little choice in local elections,” The Independent, July 2015; Alexandre Mansourov, “North Korea’s July 19 Local Elections Dispel ROK Allegations of Public Unrest,” 38 North, August 6, 2015; “Report on Results of Local Elections in DPRK Released”. Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang, in English. 21 July 2015; Tim Schwarz, “99.97% of North Koreans turn out for local elections,” CNN, July 21, 2015; The Daily Telegraph, “North Korea elections not too close to call,” July 20, 2015. There are also propaganda articles like “North Korean Elections: An Exercise in Futility” by Michelle Bovee, part of the staff of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.

[101] Pippa Norris, “The best and worst elections of 2014,” Washington Post, February 16, 2015.

[102]  Elizabeth Shim, “Kim Jong Un’s sister appears at North Korea’s assembly,” UPI, June 30, 2016.

Gun control in capitalist America

This quote from this YouTube video, which is an excerpt of the documentary titled "The Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975."
This quote is an excerpt of a documentary titled “The Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975.” The bombing referred to here is the infamous act of white supremacist terrorism in 1963.

With the beginning of the “Trump era,” the calls for gun control have been partially (but not fully) muted. This article will go beyond the critical history of gun control and armed resistance by discussing my justification for rejecting gun control and, instead, an embrace of armed self-defense and armed resistance, terms which I will explore later in this post.

The battle between gun control, gun rights, and armed resistance

Gun control and armed resistance, with the latter used to defend against acts of oppression, have been often at odds. When the White European settlers came to the Western Hemisphere, indigenous peoples “offered heroic resistance” but they were ultimately suppressed because “Europeans possessed a huge superiority in weapons.” [1] At the same time, armed resistance has been an effective form of self-defense. During the Reconstruction period, Black militias were formed to defend the Black population against racist Whites, sometimes even unifying with poor whites to achieve this goal. [2] Examples of such self-defense later on includes Robert F. Williams and his gun club, called the Black Armed Guard, as noted in a previous post, meaning that “becoming a threat to the capitalist order and defending the gains of the workers movement and democratic rights through force if necessary” is important. The long history of racial domination in the United States (1510-2017), with “systematic transportation of African slaves to the New World” beginning on January 22, 1510, shows that the right and ability to own guns is an essential tool to “stand up to white terrorists and overt racist ideologues.” [3] This has been flaunted by the fact that, as also noted in the previous post of this series, some of the first gun control laws were aimed at Blacks, which is why many view the debate over such control with caution, and the fact that the KKK was first a “gun-control organization,” and that policies like “stop and frisk” were driven by gun control desires, feeding an “exploding prison population.” [4] Such history allows gun rights supporters on the “Right” to claim that gun control has racist roots, even though some liberals say that this claim does not negate the possibility of adopting any gun regulations in the present. [5]

The history of guns and gun rights have become politicized. Some claim that the assertion that gun control is racist and that the civil rights movement succeeded because blacks “were willing to take up arms against their oppressors” came from libertarian and “obscure right-wing” websites. [6] Some of these people have also used the example of gun control laws enacted after the Civil War and that Martin Luther King, Jr. was “blocked by segregationists when he tried to get his concealed carry permit” to argue against current gun control efforts, criticizing “Obama or his gun-grabbing cohorts,” saying that gun control is racially motivated. [7] This claim reportedly was tied with the claim that “slavery might not have lasted so long in America if black people had been granted the right to bear arms at the outset of their arrival in the new world.” [8] To digress a bit here, not only is the claim that armed enslaved Blacks could have resisted their bondage with guns ahistorical (because why would the white overlords give enslaved Blacks guns at all? wouldn’t that undermine their whole system of control?) but it implies that enslaved Blacks did not resist their chains of human bondage. Any analysis of history shows this to be completely false. Yet again, gun rights supporters will do anything they can to promote the use of guns. Saying that, the liberal arguments for gun control are at times so deluded as to be a joke.

Ladd Everitt, the former communications director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), a gun reform organization, is one of theses people. In his article on Waging Nonviolence, one of those progressive publications, he scoffs at the idea of gun control being racist, asking “if gun control laws had targeted blacks for disarmament, how would they have been able to successfully engage in armed resistance against White terrorists during Reconstruction and the civil rights movement?” [9] This ignorant argument doesn’t even make sense, because it disregards the fact that enslaved Blacks gained guns during the Civil War and due to evasion of gun control laws, allowing them to engage in armed resistance. Apart from Everitt’s silly argument, he then claims that calling gun control racist doesn’t make sense because “for most of our 234 years, the entire U.S. legal system has been arrayed against blacks” and that history is “replete with examples of African-American communities being severely punished and repressed after they did take up arms against white terrorists.” [10] Now, he is correct that the entire US legal system has been arrayed against Blacks and that some Black communities did suffer backlash from armed resistance, but he dismisses the obvious reality that such resistance allowed Blacks to survive through years upon years of bondage, discrimination, and bigotry.

As the years have gone by, the “political forms of the left-right axis” have begun to change. In 1976, cities like DC led the way in gun control, with the majority black city council banning “residents from owning or carrying handguns (excluding guards, police, and those with already registered handguns).” [11] By 1989, the NAACP voted to support gun control measures, and four years later, during “the peak of gun homicides among African-Americans,” 74% supported gun control.” [12] Still, a number of groups have historically engaged in armed self-defense, including the Deacons for Defense and Justice, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the Brown Berets (which has a modern version formed in 1993) the Young Lords, the Young Patriots, and the still-existing American Indian Movement. Currently there is the Fruit of Islam, Muslim Girls Training, the Red Guard Party (Maoists in Texas), Brothas Against Racist Cops, Redneck Revolt, Black Guns Matter, the John Brown Gun Club/John Brown Militia, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, and the Indigenous People’s Liberation Front, among many others, showing that “marginalized communities and their supporters [can use]…firearms for self-defense and the defense of others against hate crimes, protection against the police, and as a means of challenging oppression from across the political spectrum.” [13]

There have been a number of current developments when it comes to gun rights. In 2008, the Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, held that the Second Amendment “guarantees an individual’s right to possess a gun” rejecting the existing D.C. law that  someone could own a shotgun but could not use in self-defense apparently, but Antonin Scalia had a whole set of exceptions to this declaration of gun rights including allowing “laws banning guns in sensitive places…laws prohibiting the mentally ill from possessing guns, [and] laws requiring commercial gun dealers to be licensed.” [14] This decision was also one of the first fortes into “gay rights activism for the Second Amendment rights of sexual minorities and of all other Americans.” [15]

In 2010, the Supreme Court hit another nail in the coffin of gun control in the United States. In a 5-4 decision in McDonald v. Chicago, the longstanding ban in Chicago of handguns was overturned, with the declaration that the Second Amendment applies to states. Justice Alito, writing for the majority, noted Black Americans who used guns throughout US history, noting that “Reconstruction-era efforts designed to grant equal citizenship to black Americans were equally as much about gun rights as they were about civil rights.” [16] The amicus brief for the Pink Pistols group declared “Recognition Of An Individual Right To Keep And Bear Arms Is Literally A Matter Of Life Or Death For Members Of The LGBT Community,” which was cited by Justice Scalia, contending that gun rights are “especially important for women and members of other groups that may be especially vulnerable to violent crime.” [17] Scalia further argued that even the Fourteenth Amendment contemplated guns rights because it was based on the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which is not likely referring to the law itself, since it NEVER mentions the words “gun” or “arms,” but rather to the fact that “advocates of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 cited the disarmament of freed blacks as a reason the law was necessary” as the arch-conservative National Review claims. While these claims may seem erroneous, a number of books seem to back up this assessment as a correct one. [18] There is no doubt that gun rights were on the minds of Radical Republicans in Congress since the State of Mississippi had enacted a law in November 1865, part of the “Black Code” in the state, saying

“…it shall be the duty of every civil and military officer to arrest any freedman, free negro, or mulatto found with any such arms or ammunition, and cause him or her to be committed for trial in default of bail…That if any white person shall sell, lend, or give to any freedman, free negro, or mulatto any fire-arms, dirk or bowie-knife, or ammunition, or any spirituous or intoxicating liquors, such person or persons so offending, upon conviction thereof in the county court of his or her county, shall be fined not exceeding fifty dollars, and may be imprisoned.”

Furthermore, the Second Freedman’s Bill the following month declared in Section 7 that

“…whenever in any State or district in which the ordinary course of judicial proceedings has been interrupted by the rebellion, and wherein, in consequence of any State or local law, ordinance, police or other regulation, custom, or prejudice, any of the civil rights or immunities belonging to white persons, including the right to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold and convey real and personal property, and to have full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and estate, including the constitutional right of bearing arms, are refused or denied to negroes, mulattoes, freedmen, refugees, or any other persons, on account of race, color, or any previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, or wherein they or any of them are subjected to any other or different punishment, pains, or penalties, for the commission of any act or offence, than are prescribed for white persons committing like acts or offences, it shall be the duty of the President of the United States, through the Commissioner, to extend military protection and jurisdiction over all cases affecting such persons so discriminated against.”

White racist attacks on Southern Blacks and efforts to take guns away from them by the KKK and other terrorist groups likely influenced the provision in the 1868 Mississippi Constitution saying “All persons shall have a right to keep and bear arms for their defense.”

Back to the McDonald case, Clarence Thomas had a concurring opinion which was evidently different than Alito’s. He noted how “blacks were disarmed by state legislatures and denied protection from white mobs” and after this, and the decision itself, articles appeared in numerous conservative publications saying that gun control was racist. [19]

Fast forward to 2013. That year, the Washington Post came out with an article about Black gun clubs in Maryland such as the Metro Gun Club, Big Foot Hunt Club, and elsewhere. The members of the club who were interviewed said that they loved “their guns and recalled growing up in black farming communities where every family had guns for hunting — and protection” noting that such love for guns “spanned generations in their families.” [20] Members had a variety of opinions, with some believing that  “guns should be in the hands of decent, honest people” but that assault rifles should be “restricted to military and law-enforcement personnel,” some saying that guns could protect women  from rapists, others saying there are new challenges being in favor of guns “in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December and talk of tighter gun control laws,” and one long-time gun owner saying “I’m torn. I don’t want guns to shoot people, but I don’t want you to take away my guns either.”

As the years past, more began to question peaceful protest and thought that violence could be the answer. One writer put it in 2014 that “weeks of peaceful protests and outright riots in Missouri have accomplished nothing” and said that people should act to “preserve their own life” from an out-of-control police state, and then posing the question “is it time to start resisting police with violence?” [21] This question is nothing new, as resistance to police has taken a more combative tone in the past, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, during the main thrust of the Black Power movement.

In 2015, the tension between gun control and gun rights continued. That year, 60 percent of Black Americans believed firmly in gun control, while White Americans believed the opposite. However, the racist history of gun control is present for some in the Black community, with the right to bear arms seen as civil rights issue, support for gun control in this community decreasing in the last 20 years, and support for gun ownership by black Americans has grown, especially since the massacre at the Charleston Emanuel AME Church when gun control was pushed as a solution by President Obama. [22] Taking this into account, it worth remembering that “gun control and race…are inextricably linked.” The idea of gun ownership as a form of civil rights may result in some balking from liberal gun control supporters. One point they can dispute is the idea that guns are used in self-defense. From first glance, it may seem that firearms are not used in self-defense, with gun rights supporters countering that “in most cases shots are never fired, because simply displaying a weapon can deter a criminal.” [23] The idea of guns being used for self-defense is supported by many Americans, even if evidence may not be as clear, especially when it comes to armed civilians ending acts of mass killing, with date from places such as the Violence Policy Center. However, it is worth noting that even the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, cited by gun control advocates, says that “firearms are used far more often to intimidate than in self-defense.” [24] While they say that this isn’t a use of self-defense, this is actually the idea entirely. It is worth quoting this Center in full:

“We found that firearms are used far more often to frighten and intimidate than they are used in self-defense…We found that guns in the home are used more often to frighten intimates than to thwart crime; other weapons are far more commonly used against intruders than are guns…We found that these young people were far more likely to be threatened with a gun than to use a gun in self-defense, and most of the reported self-defense gun uses were hostile interactions between armed adolescents…Compared to other protective actions, the National Crime Victimization Surveys provide little evidence that self-defense gun use is uniquely beneficial in reducing the likelihood of injury or property loss.” [25]

You could say that this disproves the idea of armed self-defense, but actually I would say that in a sense, it actually proves the idea by saying that guns can frighten and intimidate. And isn’t that part of self-defense?

In 2015, the Pink Pistols filed an amicus brief in the case of Fyock v. Sunnyvale. They argues against a ban on standard magazines for common defensive arms, such as popular handguns from Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Springfield or Glocks, making clear the idea of a “relationship between gay rights and gun rights.” [26] That same year, there was a powerful argument against gun control. The writer said that the idea to do something after a tragedy is nothing new, but new gun laws have consequences for Black people. He argued that any new criminal laws should be “carefully considered” saying that  gun laws, like many criminal laws have “contributed to sky-high rates of incarceration for minorities,” citing the story of Marissa Alexander, and saying that “strict gun laws with harsh penalties aimed at punishing violent criminals can also ensnare law-abiding people who make mistakes.” [27] He goes on to say that gun control, historically has “been directly or indirectly tied to race,” citing bills such as the Gun Control Act in 1968 and the Mulford Act in 1967, noting that these laws, among others in the years to come, “opened the floodgate to further federalization of criminal laws and the “tough on crime” mindset that dominated late 20th century American politics.” He ends by saying that while “every gun death is a tragedy,” with loss of life being horrendous, gun laws, even if well-intentioned, disproportionately burden the black community, arguing that “as calls grow for more gun laws, let’s not compound a tragedy by continuing the same mistakes of the past.”

From 2015 to the present, Black Lives Matter fits into this equation. They didn’t focus on gun control as a priority possibly because of the “racist history of gun control” and the fact that such gun laws are “are more likely to be used against African-Americans than whites.” [28]

There have been a number of developments in the fight between gun rights and gun control. The NRA, which declared that women with guns can stop abusers and rapists, called for armed guards in schools after Sandy Hook), was mum when unarmed Blacks (incl. Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, and Tamir Rice) were killed, even when a black man with a concealed permit, Philando Castile, was killed. [29] They weren’t the only game in town. In Dallas, Texas, a Black man named Mark Hughes was marching with an AR-15 rifle across his chest in a solidarity rally to protest the deaths of Castile and Sterling, shooting began and he was referred as the “suspect” in the shooting on Dallas police officers by Micah Xavier Johnson, leading Black gun owners to feel, rightly, that “they’re discriminated against for exercising their constitutional right to bear arms.” [30] Clearly, the NRA is “a bunch of old white guys, and honestly, I don’t think they have the tools and minorities in the organization to address these types of issues” as Michael Cargill, the owner of Central Texas Gun Works, put it, even as he said that they were “afraid to make the wrong statement,” which just seems like a convenient excuse. [31]

In the Black community in the United States, there have been strong calls for Black gun ownership and establishment of a Black nation within the US. [32] As General Babu Omowale, national minister of defense for the New Black Panther Party and co-founder of the Huey P. Newton Gun Club argued, “we [Black Americans] are a defenseless people and surrounded by a hostile society here in America…Blacks and African people need to be armed, We look at our history in this country…Being surrounded by white supremacy like we are, we are in the most volatile position of any race in the world.” [33] Such feelings means that as Victoria Bynum, author of The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War, a book on Newton Knight, a white Mississippi farmer, soldier and Union sympathizer who united with Confederate deserters and escaped slaves to secede from the Confederacy, puts it, “we’re at a critical juncture of history in terms of race relations, reminiscent of the post-Civil War era” with independence and separatism viewed as the only recourse. Christian Davenport, author of How Social Movements Die: Repression and Demobilization of the Republic of New Africa, adds that “it is fairly easily for African-Americans to form a Black nation within the United States” including organizations like the Nation of Islam occupying “decent size areas in American cities.” [34] Apart from this, other groups have been formed. In February 2015, Philip Smith started a group, the National African American Gun Association (NAAG), for “law-abiding, license-carrying gun owners who happen to be African-American” which had grown to over 11,000 members in all 50 states, a sign of more interest by Black Americans in gun ownership, especially from Black women. [35] This has also manifested itself on protests by armed members of the New Black Panther Party (with questionable beliefs) and the Huey P. Newton gun club against the anti-Muslim hate group named the Bureau of American Islamic Relations (BAIR), with the horrid group declaring that, in typical fashion, “we cannot stand by while all these different anti-American, Arab radical Islamists team up with Nation of Islam/Black Panthers and White anti-American anarchist groups, joining together in the goal of destroying our country and killing innocent people to gain dominance through fear! We will be going in full gear for self defense only. This is a full gear situation.” [36]

Since Trump’s election, there have been a rise in memberships in gun clubs and gun ownership because they are worried about their safety, especially threatened by white racists, bigots, and neo-Nazis emboldened by the Trumpster. This includes more members in the Liberal Gun Club, which will be described later, Black Guns Matter, and the NAAG among “non-traditional” people such as self-described liberals, non-binary folks, Black Americans, and Latino Americans. [37] This included people, like Yolanda Scott, who said “I’m not the type of person who is afraid of my own shadow. I’m going to protect myself, whatever that means.”

In 2016, there were a number of other developments. After the shooting at the Orlando LGBTQ nightclub, Democrats in the US Senate pushed forward a “gun control” measure to demonize Muslims by pushing to exclude those in on “watchlist” that the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center maintains. [38] Bursting to the forefront was the Pink Pistols, a decentralized “LGBT self-defense” group founded in 2000, headed by a disabled woman in Philadelphia named Gwendolyn Patton, with 45 chapters nationwide and 1,500 to 25,000 members, declaring “armed queers don’t get bashed.” [39] The group also files court cases on their behalf. They describe themselves as people dedicated “to the legal, safe, and responsible use of firearms for self-defense of the sexual-minority community…We change the public perception of the sexual minorities, such that those who have in the past perceived them as safe targets” and sometimes work with the NRA on certain cases, but not always. [40] At the present, there is another gun group, called the Liberal Gun Club. This group aims to “provide a voice for gun-owning liberals and moderates in the national conversation on gun rights, gun legislation, firearms safety, and shooting sports.” [41] They also describe themselves as an “education and outreach non-profit” Beyond this, they declare they provide a place for gun owners who do not agree with “right-wing rhetoric surrounding firearm ownership” a voice. [42] With a range of opinions, the long-time contributors and annual meeting attendees (not all members), who they call “elders,” believe in stronger mental healthcare, addressing homeless and unemployment, along with poverty, enforcement of existing laws instead of new laws such as the Assault Weapons Ban, uniformity in permits for guns if they are the law of the land, licenses for carrying a concealed weapon. [43]

There are a number of aspects worth keeping in mind. For one, at the present, as Democrats push forward gun control measures, including a number of Black politicians, White politicians oppose the measures, along with the NRA, which wants gun use to be deregulated without a doubt, and “conservative entertainment complex.” [44] Perhaps those who call for Communist Gun Clubs to “learn basic skills of using weapons and armed self-defense, could become a basis for future workers militias that will fight all forms of reactionaries,” recognizing that the principle of self-defense is universal, that views of guns are racialized, and that “opposition movements [to bigots] cannot function without simultaneously building communities.” [45] Once we realize that, we should not reject those in the heartland of the United States who may oppose fracking but also strongly believe in their right to have firearms, with “liberals” possibly a section of the citizenry which is “less well informed than it believes it is, more driven by emotion and prejudice than it realizes,” leading it to harboring “dangerous biases,” as shown in the recent presidential election. [46]

Where we stand now

With the beginning of Trump’s presidency, a grueling four years (or horrifyingly eight) is ahead. While there are some who say that gun control laws are classist, some say that gun control efforts are not racist, others who demand the removal of all gun laws, there is no need to delve in such areas [47] There is no doubt that there are people in the United States who feel that guns make them safe, whether they are part of the largely White NRA or not. [48] As it stands now in the US, gun laws will contribute to the white supremacist order. [49] More specifically, such laws are related to the fact that class rule in all states and in the US at large, reply on “bodies of armed men,” such as police, prisons, a standing army, and other “instruments of coercion” to maintain order, manifesting itself in the Klan disarming Blacks, the “stop and frisk” laws in New York City, and creating “ore reasons for police to suspect people of crimes,” bringing with it more justifications for a militarized police force. [50] Already, over 7 million Americans are subject to a form of correctional control, with gun control efforts as a major factor, coupled with Supreme Court decisions that authorized exceptions to the Fourth Amendment since policing guns, with unequal and unfair enforcement, can said to be like policing drugs.

While practical measures, such as increasing funding for mental health programs should occur, we have to turn to “mutual help and self-defense” to strengthen the solidarity between all of those never meant to survive under the unjust system of capitalism. [51] Additionally, a “reasonable gun control regime” is not possible in the US currently, with the need for racial justice ignored, even as some claim that “permissive gun laws [in the US] are a manifestation of racism,” and claiming that gun control are anti-racist measures, which doesn’t even make sense. [52] Some who are in favor of gun control have proposed all sorts of “technological fixes.” This includes support of (1) “smart guns” that can only be fired by “authorized users” and connected to cell phones perhaps; (2)”gunfire detectors” or make a school a “fortress” with lockable doors and a computer terminal at a local police department allowing police to control the school; (3) using robots to detect those who “don’t belong” in an effort and ultimately having “lethal robots” to kill suspected shooters. [53] In all, each of these ideas is horrible and should not even be considered as a “solution” as they would increase police power and reinforce the problems with the (in)justice system. Others are vehemently opposed to guns, like one person who was incensed with “gun ads” on TV, the rhetoric of the NRA, and romanticizing gun efforts. [54] One piece specifically, mocking those on the “Left” who “active oppose gun control,” says that it doesn’t make sense that people need “guns to wage an eventual revolution and liberate themselves from the shackles of the state and corporate America,” saying that such “leftist dreams” would not occur because of a “toxic gun culture….with a lethal cocktail of supercharged masculinity, racism, and provincialism” and that “disarming the Right” would do more, even saying that “guns hardly keep away the police or help communities fight back against the cops” and implying that such laws are “against patriarchy and other forms of oppression.” [55] While the piece may have some good points, it misses the bigger picture. Gun control laws are not the the “only ways to reduce gun violence and save lives” and such laws don’t help protect marginalized communities, arguably disarming them at most, or weakening their protection at minimum. [56]

As the Trumpster continues to sit in office with his cronies and state violence increases across the country by police, immigration enforcers, and bigots, we should listen to Lorenzo Raymond. He said that in this “historical moment,” hate crimes and racist terror is growing and the “Left” needs to recognize the right of “necessary self-defense against oppressive force.” Raymond goes on to say that there is a growing “black gun movement” in the US based on past history, remembers that there has been a “virgorous Black gun culture” in the South when the Black freedom movement was working to overturn segregation, and that gun control for most of the establishment isn’t about peace but has to do with “an orderly and centralized capitalist empire.” He adds that while guns kill 33,000 a year, alcohol (80,000 a year) and prescription drugs (120,000 a year) kill more, with more lobbying by these interests than the NRA since as the New York Times put it once, guns are a small business in the US at large. He goes on to say that gun control won’t bring us to a humane society, noting that Australia has such control and their society isn’t humane, while saying that the “open-carry state of Vermont” has elected imperialist “progressive” Bernie Sanders, and citing the “autonomist Kurds of Northern Syria,” who are not as radical as he portrays them but are actually serving the interests of imperialism in helping to split up the Syrian Arab Republic, as examples. Raymond has more. He says that “unilateral disarmament of the American Left” is new, with Eugene Debs calling for guns after the Ludlow Massacre to protect from Rockefeller’s assassins (and goons), armed miners in Harlan Country in the 193os, and armed protection by urban labor unions. He ends by saying that armed resistance by the Right-wing is likely in the coming year, such as by right-wing militias and white terrorists, that there is a need to recognize the right to bear arms like conservatives, joining groups like the Liberal Gun Club and Phoenix John Brown Gun Club, since it is the only hope of making the country safer, defending from bigots and others by any means necessary, even as the “right-wing’s fetishization of brute force” should be refuted most definitely.

While Raymond is right, he is only putting forward part of the puzzle. A month ago, in an article where I attempted to predict the likely agenda of Trump’s administration, I declared at the following:

“…Considering that US society is racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise bigoted, it is criminal and irresponsible to fight for gun control. Anyone who is a person of color, whether female, transgender, bisexual, homosexual, intersex, or is otherwise considered a “minority” in current society, should have the right to defend themselves with arms as necessary. That right is already claimed by white, straight men, so why can’t others in society arm themselves to fight off bigots? You can’t fight a revolution with flowers and sayings, but political power, as Mao Zedong put it, “grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Gun control, if decided as necessary, should happen after a socialist revolution, not before it.”

Now, in saying this, I am simply saying that any “minority” should have the right to self-defense by arms as necessary. Also, in saying that revolution can’t be fought with “flowers and sayings” but that political power grows out of a gun barrel, I was trying to say that there should be a diversity of tactics. When I pointed out that gun control should happen after a socialist revolution, not before, I was arguing out that such self-defense cannot occur as effectively with gun control measures in place. Also, I was trying to say that the focus on gun control should be removed from the equation, with other approaches instead, which are more effective.

Guns have been seen as necessary by those advocating for socialist revolution. Karl Marx, in his 1850 Address to the Communist League, declared that

“…it is necessary to organize and arm the proletariat. The arming of the whole proletariat with rifles, guns, and ammunition must be carried out at once; we must prevent the revival of the old bourgeois militia, which has always been directed against the workers. Where the latter measure cannot be carried out, the workers must try to organize themselves into an independent guard, with their own chiefs and general staff…under no pretext must they give up their arms and equipment, and any attempt at disarmament must be forcibly resisted.” [57]

Marx was not the only one to make such a declaration. Vladimir Lenin, one of the leaders of the Great October Socialist Revolution, supported “special bodies of armed men” as part of a socialist revolution and believed that armed people can make communism a possibility. [58]

He even went as far as saying, in earlier years that workers should be immediately armed and said something that should make liberals tremble:

“…only an armed people can be a real stronghold of national freedom. And the sooner the proletariat succeeds in arming itself, and the longer it maintain its position of striker and revolutionary, the sooner the soldiers will at last begun to understand what they are doing, they will go over to the side of the people against the monsters, against the tyrants, against the murderers of defenceless workers and of their wives and children” [59]

There is no doubt that guns can be a tool to allow socialist revolution to succeed. Why should the “Left” focus on limiting such a tool? Sure, guns can be used for malevolent ends and have often been used in such a way as gun violence on the streets of cities across the US, in the slums and ghettos of the oppressed, demonstrates. However, they can also be used to allow socialist revolution to succeed in countries such as China (1949), Russia (1917), Cuba (1959), and the DPRK (1948-1950), among many more.

Finding the way forward requires looking at the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. I am aware that the document in its entirety is classist and bourgeois in character. However, I think it is worth reprinting here:

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Apart from the fact that this Amendment reads like an unfinished sentence, one can still have an interpretation. I think it is fair to say that the amendment says that militia units in states should be well-regulated for the purposes of securing the State from “undesirables” (whoever the elites and society think they are) but also declares that “the people” which means the whole population of the US, over 324 million people, have the right to “keep and bear Arms,” a right which shouldn’t be infringed.

Now, while the Second Amendment is mainly said to be about gun rights, I would argue that is too narrow. The word “arm,” which has been associated with weapons since its origin in Indo-European languages is defined by “any instrument used in fighting” or a “weapon,” with a weapon defined as either an organ used for defense or an “instrument of any kind used to injure or kill, as in fighting or hunting” as noted by Webster’s New World College Dictionary and numerous thesauruses. This means that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” applies to ALL weapons, not just guns. Hence, people, as noted by Akinyele Omowale Umoja in We Will Shoot Back, on pages 7 and 8, have the right to defend themselves with “fists, feet, stones, bricks, blades, and gasoline firebombs,” along with guns of course.

Keeping this in mind, it worth defining a number of terms. Umoja, in We Will Shoot Back, on page 7, defines armed resistance was the “individual and collective use of force for protection, protest, or other goals of insurgent political action and in defense of human rights,” while also including armed struggle, armed vigilance, guerilla warfare, spontaneous rebellion, retaliatory violence, and armed self-defense. He also defines armed defense, on the same page, as the “protection of life, persons, and property from aggressive assault through the application of force necessary to thwart or neutralize attack.” Adding to this, Black’s Law Dictionary (Third Pocket Edition), defines force (which they break down into eight types), on page 294, as “power, violence, or pressure directed against a person or thing,” meaning that one does not have to kill or maim someone to apply force. These definitions are suitable for describing tactics used in the current political climate of the United States.

As we watch the Trump Administration from our TVs, computer screens, phones, or read it in the papers, we must recognize the need for resistance and act on such feelings. Still, we cannot be roped into the bourgeois milquetoast resistance by the Democratic Party and their lackeys and instead engage in solidarity, at minimum, with those under attack by the capitalist system within the US and across the world as a whole. It is not worth “waiting” for revolution. Rather, it is best to act in the present against the threats that face this planet and its people, even when one should do so without illusion, whatever form that takes offline or online.

Notes

[1] LeftistCritic, “Annotating a Section of The Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” Soviet History, Vol. 1, no. 1, p. 6.

[2] Donald Parkinson, “Armed self-defense: the socialist way of fighting the far-right,” Communist League of Tampa, November 13, 2016; accessed January 17, 2016.

[3] Malik Miah, “African-American Self-Defense,” Against the Current, January/February 2015; accessed January 16, 2017.

[4] Ibid; Joe Catron, “Gun control and bigotry,” Worker’s World, June 24, 2016; accessed January 17, 2017; David Babat, “The discriminatory history of gun control,” Senior Honors Projects, Paper 140; accessed January 16, 2017.

[5] David B. Kopel, “The Klan’s Favorite Law: Gun control in the postwar South,” Reason, February 15, 2005; accessed January 16, 2017; Adam Winkler, “Gun Control is “racist”?, The New Republic, February 4, 2013; accessed January 16, 2017. The latter piece Ends up advocating for gun control.

[6] Ladd Everitt, “Debunking the ‘gun control is racist’ smear, Waging Nonviolence, September 26, 2010; accessed January 16, 2017. Everitt heads the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV). He goes on to talk about Nat Turner’s rebellion, the Colfax Massacre, and numerous other instances to disprove the gun control is racist idea.

[7] Newsmax, “Top Firearms Group: Gun Control Has Roots in Racism,” February 25, 2013; accessed January 16, 2017.

[8] Bill Blum, “There’s Nothing Racist About Gun Control … Anymore,” Truthdig, January 29, 2013; accessed January 16, 2017.

[9] Ladd Everitt, “Debunking the ‘gun control is racist’ smear, Waging Nonviolence, September 26, 2010; accessed January 16, 2017.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Jane Costen, “The (Really, Really) Racist History of Gun Control,” MTV News, June 30, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Logan Marie Glitterbomb, “Combating Hate: A Radical Leftist Guide to Gun Control,” Augusta Free Press, January 11, 2017; accessed January 16, 2017. Reposted from the website of the Center for a Stateless Society which states that this article is only “Part 1.” They also note the Sylvia Rivera Gun Club for Self-Defense as an example but this group could not be found despite internet searchings. It is possible the group exists but may be a small group with little publicity or its name has changed from the past.

[14] Adam Winkler, “The Secret History of Gun Control,” The Atlantic, September 2011; accessed January 16, 2017.

[15] David Kopel, “The history of LGBT gun-rights litigation,” Washington Post, June 17, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[16] Ladd Everitt, “Debunking the ‘gun control is racist’ smear, Waging Nonviolence, September 26, 2010; accessed January 16, 2017. Everitt heads the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV).

[17] David Kopel, “The history of LGBT gun-rights litigation,” Washington Post, June 17, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[18] Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law, Vol. 1 (ed. Gregg Lee Carter, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2012), 9; John Massaro, No Guarantee of a Gun: How and Why the Second Amendment Means Exactly What It Says (Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2009), 652; Markus Dirk Dubber, Victims in the War on Crime: The Use and Abuse of Victims’ Rights (New York: New York University Press, 2002), 93; Deborah Homsher, Women and Guns: Politics and the Culture of Firearms in America: Politics of Firearms in America (Expanded Edition, New York: Routledge, 2015), 292; Christopher B. Strain, Pure Fire: Self-defense as Activism in the Civil Rights Era (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005), 19, 197; Charles E. Cobb, Jr., This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible (New York: Basic Books, 2014), 45; Philip Wolny, Gun Rights: Interpreting the Constitution (New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2015), 26.

[19] Ladd Everitt, “Debunking the ‘gun control is racist’ smear, Waging Nonviolence, September 26, 2010; accessed January 16, 2017.

[20] , “Black gun clubs and the right to bear arms,” Washington Post, February 19, 2013; accessed January 16, 2017.

[21] Rob Los Ricos, “The US police state is out of control – is armed self-defense a necessary option?,” rob’s revolting, November 15, 2014; accessed January 16, 2017; Justin King, “When Should We Start Forcibly Resisting Police Tyranny?,” September 19, 2014, TheAntiMedia; accessed January 16, 2017.

[22] Jane Costen, “The (Really, Really) Racist History of Gun Control,” MTV News, June 30, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; Gun control’s racist reality: The liberal argument against giving police more power,” Salon, June 24, 2015; accessed January 16, 2017.

[23] The Week Staff, “The truth about guns and self-defense,” November 1, 2015; accessed January 16, 2017.

[24] Michael McLaughlin, “Using Guns In Self-Defense Is Rare, Study Finds,” Huffington Post,  June 17, 2015; accessed January 16, 2017.

[25] Harvard Injury Control Research Center, “Gun Threats and Self-Defense Gun Use,” accessed January 16, 2017.

[26] David Kopel, “The history of LGBT gun-rights litigation,” Washington Post, June 17, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[27] Jonathan Banks, “Gun Control Will Not Save America from Racism,” Vice, June 22, 2015; accessed January 16, 2017. I know its horrid Vice, but so what.

[28] Jane Costen, “The (Really, Really) Racist History of Gun Control,” MTV News, June 30, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[29] Claire Landsbaum, “NRA Ad Claims ‘Real Women’s Empowerment’ Is Owning a Gun,” New York Magazine, July 13, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; Max Plenke, “When Black Men Are Shot and Killed, the NRA Is Silent,” Mic, July 7, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[30] Tessa Stuart, “Black Gun Owners Speak Out About Facing a Racist Double Standard,” Rolling Stone, July 14, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; Korri Atkinson, “Black Gun Owners in Texas Decry Racial Bias,” Texas Tribune, July 9, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[31] Hannah Allam, “For black gun owners, bearing arms is a civil rights issue,” McClatchy DC, July 15, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; Korri Atkinson, “Black Gun Owners in Texas Decry Racial Bias,” Texas Tribune, July 9, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[32] David Love, “Is it Time for Black People to Reconsider a Black Nation Within a Nation and Armed Self-Defense?,” Atlanta Black Star, July 17, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Hannah Allam, “For black gun owners, bearing arms is a civil rights issue,” McClatchy DC, July 15, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[36] RT (Russia Today), “New Black Panthers in armed showdown with anti-Muslim militia in Texas,” April 6, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[37] Charmaine Lomabao, “Liberal Gun Club Experiences Increasing Membership Since Trump Victory,” Newsline, December 27, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; Shantella Y. Sherman, “Black Gun Purchases Reportedly Skyrocket Since Trump Election,” Afro, January 4, 2017; accessed January 16, 2017; The Grio, “Gun sales to blacks, minorities surge after Trump win,” Aol News, November 28, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; , “Firearm sales rise among minorities,” WBCD (NBC Affiliate), December 28, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; Ben Popken, “Trump’s Victory Has Fearful Minorities Buying Up Guns,” NBC News, November 27, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; Teryn Payne, “Gun Sales Among Blacks See Increase,” Ebony magazine, November 29, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017. Reprinted from Jet magazine; Brian Wheeler, “Why US liberals are now buying guns too,” BBC News, December 20, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; Joe Schoenmann, “Fearing Trump Supporters, Now Liberals Are Buying Guns,” KNPR, January 10, 2017; accessed January 16, 2017; Teresa Walsh, “Now it’s the liberals who are arming up,” McClatchy DC, December 23, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; Brandon Ellington Patterson, “African American Gun Ownership Is Up, and So Is Wariness,” Mother Jones, July 12, 2016; Brandon Ellington Patterson, “African American Gun Ownership Is Up, and So Is Wariness,” Mother Jones, July 12, 2016.

[38] Minnie Bruce Pratt, “Gun control or self-defense?,” Worker’s World, June 22, 2016; accessed January 17, 2017; Joe Catron, “Gun control and bigotry,” Worker’s World, June 24, 2016; accessed January 17, 2017.

[39] John Burnett, “LGBT Self-Defense Site ‘Pink Pistols’ Gains Followers After Orlando Massacre,” NPR, June 23, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; Julia Ioffe, “The Group that Wants to Arm Gay America,” Politico, June 13, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017; David Kopel, “The history of LGBT gun-rights litigation,” Washington Post, June 17, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[40] Pink Pistols, “About the Pink Pistols,” accessed January 16, 2017.

[41] The Liberal Gun Club, “Who We Are,” accessed January 16, 2017.

[42] The Liberal Gun Club, “What We Do,” accessed January 16, 2017.

[43] The Liberal Gun Club, “Talking Points Regarding Regulation,” accessed January 16, 2017.

[44] Adam Winkler, “Is Gun Control Racist?,” The Daily Beast, October 19, 2011; accessed January 16, 2017; Niger Innis, “The Long, Racist History of Gun Control,” The Blaze, May 2, 2013; accessed January 16, 2017; Edward Wyckoff Williams, “Fear of a Black Gun Owner,” The Root, January 23, 2013; accessed January 16, 2017.

[45] Donald Parkinson, “Armed self-defense: the socialist way of fighting the far-right,” Communist League of Tampa, November 13, 2016; accessed January 17, 2016; Nicholas Johnson, “Negroes and the Gun: The early NAACP championed armed self-defense,” Washington Post, January 30, 2014; accessed January 16, 2017; Malik Miah, “African-American Self-Defense,” Against the Current, January/February 2015; accessed January 16, 2017; Alexander Reid Ross, ““Death to the Klan” and Armed Antifascist Community Defense in the US,” It’s Going Down, July 26, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[46] Barbara Nimiri Aziz, “Profile of a Progressive Gun Enthusiast,” CounterPunch, Accessed January 16, 2017.

[47] David Babat, “The discriminatory history of gun control,” Senior Honors Projects, Paper 140; accessed January 16, 2017; Ladd Everitt, “Debunking the ‘gun control is racist’ smear, Waging Nonviolence, September 26, 2010; accessed January 16, 2017; Adam Winkler, “The Secret History of Gun Control,” The Atlantic, September 2011; accessed January 16, 2017.

[48] Ehab Zahriyeh, “For some blacks, gun control raises echoes of segregated past,” Al Jazeera America, September 1, 2013; accessed January 16, 2017; Bill Blum, “There’s Nothing Racist About Gun Control … Anymore,” Truthdig, January 29, 2013; accessed January 16, 2017; Stephen A. Nuňo, “Gun control is people control, with racist implications,” NBC Latino, July 24, 2012; accessed January 16, 2017.

[49] Donald Parkinson, “Armed self-defense: the socialist way of fighting the far-right,” Communist League of Tampa, November 13, 2016; accessed January 17, 2016.

[50] Gun control’s racist reality: The liberal argument against giving police more power,” Salon, June 24, 2015; accessed January 16, 2017; Minnie Bruce Pratt, “Gun control or self-defense?,” Worker’s World, June 22, 2016; accessed January 17, 2017.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Gun control’s racist reality: The liberal argument against giving police more power,” Salon, June 24, 2015; accessed January 16, 2017; Gary Gutting, “Guns and Racism,” The New York Times, December 28, 2015; accessed January 16, 2017.

[53] William Brennan, “Bulletproofing,” The Atlantic, January/February 2017.

[54] Bruce Mastron, “My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns,” CounterPunch, January 16, 2017; accessed January 16, 2017; Ken Levy, “If You Don’t Support Gun Control, Then You Don’t Support the Police,” CounterPunch, July 16, 2016; accessed January 16, 2017.

[55] Andrew Culp and Darwin BondGraham, “Left Gun Nuts,” CounterPunch, May 29, 2014; accessed January 16, 2017.

[56] Logan Marie Glitterbomb, “Combating Hate: A Radical Leftist Guide to Gun Control,” Augusta Free Press, January 11, 2017; accessed January 16, 2017. Reposted from the website of the Center for a Stateless Society which states that this article is only “Part 1.”

[57] Karl Marx, “Address to the Communist League,” The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 67.

[58] V.I. Lenin, “The State and Revolution” (1918), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 572, 591.

[59] V.I. Lenin, “The revolution in 1905: The beginning of the revolution in 1905” (January 25, 1905), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 508-509.

Bernie Sanders: an imperialist worth despising

In a recent statement against torture, Sanders accepted imperial precepts, basically saying that the US is "great" and worrying about helping our "enemies." Hence, his argument against torture is not progressive but is actually an imperialist one.
In a recent statement against torture, Sanders accepted imperial precepts, basically saying that the US is “great” and “respected” along with worrying about helping our “adversaries” while declaring his commitment to defending “American values” and citing the opposition of US military leaders against torture as part of his argument. Hence, his argument against torture is not progressive but is actually an imperialist, militarist, and uber-nationalist one.

Editor’s note: After this piece was ignored by CounterPunch and rejected by Dissident Voice, which told me “Thank you for your submission to Dissident Voice. I am sorry but DV will not be publishing this time,” it is being published here.

Recently, Graham Vyse, a staff writer at The New Republic, bellowed with pain, like a deer wounded with an arrow, declaring that U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders was courting white Trump voters, said something positive about President Donald Trump, refused to vote against Jeff Sessions, and had “blind spots” on identity politics, which was all summed up in the title of “Bernie Sanders Is a Big Letdown.” To put it mildly, Senator Sanders is more than a “letdown” but is a downright imperialist. Maybe the Sandersnistas should have realized that before they looked to their new savior to “fight” the big banks and Wall Street, like Elizabeth Warren, or to stand up to Trump, with Sanders calling him “delusional” even as he voted in favor of Trump appointees John Kelly (Secretary of Homeland “Security”) and James “fun to shoot some people” Mattis (Secretary of “Defense”) on January 20th. Not surprisingly, the same people who supported Sanders were also “shocked” and “surprised” that he would endorse war criminal and corporate slave Hillary Clinton, while not recognizing his deep connection with the Democratic Party’s machinery and establishment.

Sanders’s imperial foreign policy is nothing new. In May 1993, Sanders voted for the use of US troops in Somalia. Years before the intervention, Mohamed Said Barre, who had taken power in a military coup in 1969, originally allied with the Soviet Union as a socialist. By 1977 he was charting his own course, with expansionist desires by declaring war on Ethiopia, then helped by the Soviets, and at that time, the US assisted his country. By 1991, after his methods became more ruthless, a group of rebels drove Barre from Mogadishu, leading to a vacuum in the country and civil discord of monumental proportions. By 1993, when the US intervened, there had been a UN operation (Operation Restore Hope or UNITAF) to provide humanitarian assistance the previous year, under President Bush’s direction, with US troops comprising the major part of the effort, but this faltered, leading to another operation. This ensuing operation, continuing until 1995, was challenged by “rebel” Somali military commander Muhammad Farah Aideed, an individual that the US-led UN force was trying to kill, leading to two Black Hawk helicopters in a fiery battle being shot down. As a result, this incident led President Clinton to pull U.S. troops out of combat not long after and “all U.S. troops left the country in March 1994,” resulting in supposed “curtailed” US interventions in the future, with the UN mission ending on March 1995 even as fighting continued.

This intervention, which was “memorialized” in numerous books and a film, Black Hawk Down, a Hollywood flick which predictably portrayed the Somali people as “wild savages” who don’t know what they are doing, even though Somalis has good reason to be angry about the US military presence. The movie’s pro-military narrative showed that it aligned with the position of Brigadier General John S. Brown who declared that the intervention was about rescuing “a people and a state from anarchy and chaos” and called those who fought in the a supposedly “humanitarian” conflict “heroes.” Such deception was also repeated by the compliant corpoate media, which hyped up the pictures of starving Somalis, of course. As Brendan Sexton III put it, “one of the true tragedies of the war in Somalia [which some rightly call a debacle] was the support that it received from liberals and even radicals,” by which he means people like Sanders. Apart from having the blood of thousands of Bosnians on his hands, Sanders also, by voting for US troops in Somalia, was expressing his consent for the killing of almost 10,000 people in the ground war for Mogadishu before the one-day battle in early October 1993. He was also consenting to the continued destruction of Somalia in a civil war which has raged since 1986, which begun with the Somali rebellion. It continues today with the US military, federal Somali government, and African Union troops fighting against Islamic reactionary groups, continuing the trend of US military intervention on the African continent.

In 1999, he 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. He argued that “if anyone thinks there is a simple solution to this problem [in Bosnia], then you know very little about this problem…[this bombing] means standing up against genocide. It’s a contradiction, but we have to live with it. If we accept Milosevic as a winner, it would be the end of the Europe I believe in.” He went on to, after an audience member told him that he had “sold out,” justify the bombing by declaring that “I ask you to think about what happens to the eight hundred thousand men, women, and children who have been pushed out of their homes!…What do you do to a butcher who has lined up people and shot them?” and then, after saying he opposed a massive ground force in Bosnia, weirdly said, “I don’t know what to do, but I’ll tell you what I am doing, what I am trying to do.” He later said he was “on the phone…with the White House” to help negotiate a settlement, aligning with his defense of Clinton the year before from Congressional Republicans who called for his impeachment.

The bombing in Bosnia was more than a “simple” military operation. It was one of the many military operations the Clinton administration conducted in the 1990s, this one to degrade the infrastructure of Serbia because the socialist-inclined leader, Slobodan Milosevic, had not gained the “green light” from the US before attacking the Albanian minority in the country. These problems were nothing new, as they grew out of the break up of the Yugoslavian republic ten years earlier which led to ensuing conflicts. In the later 1990s, international leaders proposed two terms: NATO control of Kosovo and NATO military occupation of the remaining parts of Yugoslavia. Both were rejected by the national assembly of Serbia, which called for negotiations toward an agreement on Kosovo’s autonomy. But, this was ignored, and US-led bombing began, lasting for 78 days, leading to displacement of 800,000 people after the first three months, and an untold number of killed civilians. Likely as a surprise to some of Sanders’s supporters, he did not mention the Serbian legislature’s proposal, supporting humanitarian imperialism instead, which is part of the reason that Michael Parenti parted ways with Sanders.

Stephen Gowans expanded on the reasons for the bombing, adding that the military campaign was meant to turn Milosevic’s own people against him, that an sanctions campaign was engineered to target areas where Milosevic had strong support, and that Washington spent “$10 million in 1999 and $31 million in 2000 to train, equip and advise an overthrow movement to destabilize the former Yugoslavia and oust Milosevic,” with him being thrown out of power in a “US-UK engineered uprising.” It is also worth pointing out that under the guise of bombing Serbia and parts of Montenegro in 1999 because “US officials said they were convinced the Milosevic government was carrying out a genocide in Kosovo,” the reality was very different. The Western capitalists were mad because Milosevic was a communist who “told the Americans to go fuck themselves” meaning that he refused “to turn Yugoslavia into a western puppet state.” More specifically, Milosevic’s Yugoslavia was sanctioned and bombed because, as Gowans put it, it was a “social democracy that resisted a free-market take-over,” not due to the ill-treatment of ethnic Albanians. You can have your different viewpoints about Milosevic and not like him, for one reason or another, but I think this is more accurate that most left narratives on the bombing.

In more recent years, Sanders declared that he supports arming the Kurds or “those people who we can trust” with air support, benefiting arms manufacturers. The imperialist positions don’t end there. He has also supported helping “so-called Syrian moderates” and said that “President Obama is absolutely right in his efforts to judiciously use air strikes, which at this point have shown some success” which sounds like apology for the killing of civilians on Obama’s watch. If these positions don’t cry imperialism, I don’t know what does. Of course, Sanders does not want the drone program to end, saying that “there are times and places where drone attacks have been effective…we have to use drones very, very selectively and effectively,” only wanting to “limit” it to his own parameters. This in and of itself is not a surprise, as Sanders 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.

Some readers may be saying that Sanders is a “social democrat” and harshly criticizes the banks (and their crimes), but that, even if it is not an act and is thoroughly genuine, pales in comparison to his imperialist positioning. Sanders has, on record, supported sanctions against Iran, declared that Iran is on the stage to “obtaining a nuclear weapon” despite evidence from US and Israeli intelligence agencies to the contrary, voted against closing the Guantanamo Bay Prison in 2009, saying it is “complicated” and should be decided by a presidential commission even as he says rhetorically that the prison should be shut down “as soon as possible,” and said that the F-35 program in Vermont is “very controversial” and “incredibly wasteful” but is still supporting it regardless. If that isn’t enough, Sanders, beyond his declarations against ground troops, didn’t oppose Obama’s “anti-ISIS” bombing campaign, saying to bourgeois progressive commentator Thom Hartmann that the US should be involved. He told Hartmann that his “solution” was a multilateral international effort where “these guys in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, these multi-multi-billionaire authoritarian countries who have made huge amounts of money from oil” should help fight ISIS. This ahistorical and ignorant position ignores that US imperial proxies across the Arab World, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, and Qatar, along with other Gulf autocracies, have made the Syrian civil war more bloody with their support of reactionary terrorist groups, and such a policy would reinforce these authoritarian states while further destabilizing the Middle East.

Such positions make his declaration that he is “kind of conservative on getting involved in all kinds of wars abroad” have a different meaning than one would first perceive, showing that his “admission” that he is “not a pacifist but…always understood war is the last recourse” and that he he “understand[s] the cost of war” to be deceptive at best. He seems to be contradicting himself in supporting the “anti-ISIS” war, admitting in 2014 that “while we focus all of our attention on ISIS, the middle class in this country continues to collapse.” Despite saying that, he has taken a pro-military, and purportedly antiwar, position, declaring that “our guys are doing a tremendous job under very difficult circumstances” even as he called for the Afghanistan war to end while declaring that the US should have “the strongest military in the world” and should act militarily if “people threaten the United States…threaten our allies or commit genocide,” supposedly using military force only as the “last resort.” That sounds like blatant imperialism regardless of what “good” you can say about Sanders.

To add to this, Sanders said that we should support “those elements in China fighting for a democratic society” or the elements backed by the US government, argued that it is his “strong opinion that Bashar al-Assad has to go” since he is “a terrible dictator at war with his own people” meaning that the US should still support “opposition groups,” and told Bill O’Reilly that “the entire world has got to stand up to Putin. We’ve got to deal with sanctions, we’ve got to deal with freezing assets,” calling for isolating Putin and Russia politically and economically, and calling for “international corporations [that] have huge investments in Russia” to pull them out, to punish Russia. That means he would be right at home with the Russophobic rhetoric supporting US imperialism in the media, by the intelligence agencies, and by politicians of the Democratic and Republican parties.

At this point, it should be clear to any reasoned person that Sanders doesn’t oppose the imperialist agenda of the murderous empire. He is much more than a “big letdown,” but is a pimp for empire. There is much more to say about Sanders, with this article only scratching the surface. Anyone with sense should remember this as Sanders continues his milquetoast opposition to the Trump administration just like the rest of the Democratic Party, which is, as a result, showing its uselessness with each passing day of 2017.

“Somebody with strong views”: the likely agenda of Trump’s administration

trump
Perhaps Trump won’t be a fan of Wikileaks as some media had been claiming. This quote here is no endorsement of Trump but is just a quote from his wild twitter.

Every day since November 8, the media blares about a new “decision” by Donald Trump and his advisers, something that we should be concerned about, apparently. The bourgeois media, a large chunk of which threw their support behind neoliberal war criminal Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, has been thrown into a tizzy over Trump’s picks. Some say it is hard to “glean a political agenda” from Trump due to his changing positions, others say that he is assembling a pro-business “conservative dream team,” the “most conservative” cabinet since Reagan, an “unorthodox cabinet” that will lead to deregulation, the “richest administration in American history” which is worth more than $250 million, or a racially homogenous cabinet, mostly consisting of white, straight men. [1] Hence, there is no consensus in the media, or among those opposing him, on what Trump will do, or where he will go. However, it is simple to see his agenda, removed from a focus on the his “twitter diplomacy.” Instead, it is best to look Trump’s picks for cabinet and high governmental positions to assess how he will be “somebody with strong views…that are maybe a little bit unpopular,” as he told an interviewer Rona Barrett in 1980, assisting the capitalist class with his “old fascist strain” unlike the fascism of the Obama administration.

The individuals who Trump has chosen so far show a conservative, right-wing agenda in the works, which includes his informal advisers like Jared Kushner as well.. He’s chosen, so far: Reagan conservative Mike Pence as Vice-President, former Goldman Sachs partner Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary, arch-conservative Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, ex-Navy Seal Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior, conservative (and wife of Mitch McConnell) Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation, former governor of Texas Rick Perry for Energy Secretary, long-time investment banker Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce, restaurant CEO Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor, Georgia politician Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, conservative commentator Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, billionaire education “reformer” Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos as Secretary of Education, investment banker Gary Cohn as Director of the National Economic Council, and Director of Ameritrade Todd M. Ricketts as Deputy Secretary of Commerce. He also picked RNC Chairman, Reince Preibus, as White House Chief of Staff, and Steve Bannon, head of the bigoted outlet called “Breitbart News,” as a strategist, to spread his deceptive Trumpian message. Apart from the patronage to the elements of the Republican Party who supported him, by choosing Chao, Bannon, and Preibus, he chose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the EPA, California politician Mick Mulvaney as director of the OMB (Office of Management and Budget), pro-wrestling tycoon Linda McMahon as administrator of the SBA (Small Business Administration), and Wall Street lawyer Walter “Jay” Clayton as director of the SEC (Securities and Exchanges Commission).

What will happen next is clear: the Trump administration will undoubtedly help big capitalists by scaling back those regulations seen as “harmful” to economic growth, such as the pathetic Dodd-Frank reform law, there will be less enforcement, and an increase in privatization. This means that offending companies will get off scot-free for committing capital crimes, a continuation of the relatively hands-off approach of officials of the Obama administration. In the area of public education, existing policy of school privatization will be continued, but will even more aggressive with a push for school vouchers, charter schools, and opposition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative (Common Core), supported by some capitalists and “reformers.” Such policies would be coupled with a “lower taxes” on the capitalist class, “balancing” the deficit by cutting Food Stamps and other programs, while privatizing Medicare and Social Security. Additionally, the federal workforce would be slashed, unions would be under even more attack, and “Obamacare” would be repealed (with arguments about how long it will take to repeal or “fix” the law), the latter angering insurance and pharmaceutical companies who have benefited from the law. At the same time, the surveillance apparatus will continue (and likely expand), a higher minimum wage will be opposed, anti-discrimination and hate crime laws will be stopped dead in their tracks, increased restrictions on abortion will blossom, the “drug war” will be intensified resulting in opposition to medical (or non-medical) marijuana legalization, and oil and gas drilling on federal lands will increase. These changes build off the status quo of surveillance continuing under Obama’s rule and a hostile environment against abortion since right-wing reactionary backlash to Roe v. Wade, and existing large-scale fossil fuel drilling which Obama has boasted about on occasion. This included the time that he approved the southern half of the Keystone XL in 2012, with not much of a peep from bourgeois environmental groups, sometimes called “Gang Green,” like the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, World Wildlife Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, to name a few.

Other aspects of Trump’s picks are worth noting. In the realm of immigration, future policy is very evident. For Secretary of Homeland Security, he chose John Kelly, a former commander of US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) and long-time Marine Corps veteran who fought in the first (1991) and second (2003) phases of the twenty-five year war with Iraq (1991-2016), and helped quell the 1992 urban uprising by thousands of Black folks in Los Angeles. There is no doubt that his experience with SOUTHCOM, the southern department of US imperialism in the Americas, will help him implement strong border control, which would be harsher than existing measures. However, immigration policy would expand Obama’s hardline policy of deporting over two million immigrants during his time in office, along with immigration raids and a militarized border, with drones and other equipment, along with acceptance of reactionary anti-immigrant “militias.” [2]

Imperialism will continue to run rampant with Trump’s jingoistic idea of “America First,” declaring last month that “there is no global anthem, no global currency, no certificate of global citizenship. We pledge allegiance to one flag, and that flag is the American flag. From now on, it’s going to be America first. OK? America first. We’re going to put ourselves first.” In area of foreign policy, Trump has chosen South Carolina governor Nimrata “Nikki” Haley as UN Ambassador, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, retired Marine Corps General James “fun to shoot people” Mattis as Secretary of Defense, lawyer Robert Lighthizer for United States Trade Representative, Kansas politician Mike Pompeo for CIA director, and Indiana politician Dan Coats. Some may say that the imperial policies of bombing seven countries (Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria), using killer drones to “eliminate” supposed terrorists (who are more often than not civilians), use of special forces and small strike forces across the world, and use of private mercenaries (“private contractors”) to do the bidding of empire, will be ameliorated by Trump. Such people may say that likely increased investment in Russia (and good relations), with Trump standing up to the US intelligence community, on their conclusion Russia is behind the election hacking (it definitely isn’t even even as he has ACCEPTED US intelligence on this matter), along with some supposing he will engage in “non-interventionism.” While the anti-Russian campaign pushed by the Democratic Party, certain Republicans, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, along with internal (FBI) and external (CIA) police of the empire, and “left” journalists of The Intercept like Glenn Greenwald, and other “respected”  publications like Mother Jones, Trump may (seems more unlikely now than ever) pare back the budget of the CIA, if the Wall Street Journal is to be believed in this regard, this analysis misses the bigger picture at hand. Undoubtedly a possible conflict within the administration is brewing about the threat of Russia as some want to take more of a defiant stance and others want to be more cordial. [3]

For one, Tillerson will likely push for expanded energy markets while Lighthizer would push for protectionist policies. It is possible that these two views, along with Trump’s economic nationalism, may be balanced in some way or another. Regardless, the capitalist class will pleased if Trump can help them gain new markets and create a better “business-friendly” environment, even in the United States. Based on the fact that ExxonMobil (and its subsidies) has locations in 58 countries, along with a number of US colonies (Northern Marinas Islands and Guam for example) more than half of which are in Europe and the Asia Pacific region, this might be an area of future US policy under the Trump administration, along with a push for more markets in the Middle East, the South American and African continents, where ExxonMobil does not have as many “operations.”

While the United States has strongly supported the murderous Zionist state of Israel since the 1960s, with billions upon billions of dollars in weaponry to “defend” itself from a basically imaginary threat, the Trump’s administration will amp up the support. This will include, with extremist David Friedman as the US ambassador to Israel, a strong position against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, continuing to support Israel to the hilt, continuing the never-ending negotiations for the “two-state solution,” and supporting illegal settlements on stolen (and occupied) Palestinian land. It will also include a possible war with Iran (or threat of such a war) since Trump and some of his advisers want to re-negotiate the Iran nuclear deal. Such a move is ridiculous since the existing deal is already beneficial to US imperial aims by punishing the Islamic Republic for even having “peaceful” (yet environmentally destructive) nuclear power. If the deal is changed, it is possible that the pro-Western moderates in Iran, like Hassan Rouhani, will loose favor and a more “hardline” Iranian politician will take charge, leading the country to oppose US imperialism more effectively and chart its own course more independently.

The military and security establishment will undoubtedly be pleased by the coming policies of Trump’s administration. For one, the Guantanamo Bay prison camp (and naval base) will be kept open, continuing Obama’s non-closure policy, CIA black sites across the world will be re-established, and a strong effort to fight terrorism will commence, whatever that entails. Even if the US intelligence community stops giving arms and equipment to terrorists disguised as “Syrian rebels,” imperial policy will continue. With Pence declaring that his model for a Vice-President would be Dick Cheney, who concentrated power in that political office, it means we are in for dark times, with a return to waterboarding as accepted policy and harsh “anti-terror” policies.

Trump is targeting the People’s Republic of China (PRC), possibly with tariffs. The country, since Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, abandoned anti-revisionist beliefs by combining their socialist ideals with capitalist ones. It is hard to say how leftist their country is anymore due to presence of a “socialist” market economy after it transitioned from a centrally-planned economy for the benefit of the masses. Future articles will focus on this transition, but I’ll write them after I’m finished writing about Soviet history. Regardless, they do counter US imperialism in its march for world domination, even though they work with such imperialists on issues such as terrorism and help restrict the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Due to Trump’s hardline position on Taiwan, his likely continuation of Obama’s “Pacific pivot,” which encircles the PRC with personnel (and bases), his criticism of the country for seizing a US spy drone, and likely demanding that the PRC be labeled as a “currency manipulator,” they have begun preparing for the worst. [4] While the PRC is not a socialist state, but a semi-capitalist and revisionist one, those with sense should defend it from US imperialist aggression, especially in the South China sea.

The next target of the new administration is the DPRK. On multiple occasions, as part of his “twitter diplomacy,” Trump declared that the country’s plan to build a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the US “won’t happen” and criticized China for not doing enough, the former which may come back to “haunt him” as preventing a test will be hard to do. [5] The Koreans take such provocations seriously. An editorial after the US presidential election, in the Rodong Sinmun, a newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), declared that the Obama administration “put the security of the US mainland in the greatest danger” by attacking the DPRK and that the new administration now has the “difficulty of facing the Juche nuclear state.” [6] In months the followed, the DPRK’s state media made similar arguments, brashly attacking the imperialist behemoth, saying that the strategic position of the socialist state has “reached its highest level,” declaring that “no force on earth can block the DPRK’s advance. Neither sanctions nor blockade nor military pressure can ever frighten it,” saying that the Korean people cannot be overpowered by the US, and arguing that the US is not qualified to be the “human rights judge” of the world. [7]

Such viewpoints are a justified form of resistance to the empire. The DPRK believes that “national peace, prosperity and dignity” in the world, by an anti-imperialist (and socialist) state like themselves, hinges on a “powerful nuclear force” and that they should have the ability to build their “powerful socialist country” with self-development and self-reliance while fending off US attacks. [8] As they are under siege, they have fought back with counter-propaganda to: point out that the US electoral system favors capitalists (which is correct), criticize dismal human rights record of the US, say that the downfall of the US empire is inevitable, and otherwise condemn US imperial foreign policy. [9]

As a civilized socialist nation, where, in the past year, numerous technical senior middle schools (and a new middle school for orphans) opened, the public health service (part of their socialist healthcare system) was improved, the art and literature sector was invigorated, thousands of new homes were opened, and a Natural History Museum opened its doors, the Korean people will undoubtedly do what they can to resist US imperialism, assisted by the WPK. [10] In his New Year’s address, Kim Jong Un, chairman of the WPK, chairman of the DPRK’s State Affairs Commission, and supreme commander of Korea’s armed forces, offered warm greetings to the Korean people and “progressive peoples across the world,” saying that in 2016 the DPRK consolidated its self-defense by achieving the status “of a nuclear power, a military giant, in the East which no enemy, however formidable, would dare to provoke” which is aimed at people like Trump. [11] Kim Jong Un, after reviewing the accomplishments of the previous year and challenging the country to more, then said, referring to the DPRK and the Korean people, “we should turn out again in the new year’s march towards a greater victory…we should concentrate our efforts on implementing the five-year strategy for national economic development.” He later declared, after outlining economic industries to improve, that the country’s defense forces should “politically and militarily and maintain full combat readiness to firmly defend the socialist system and the people’s lives and property” and said that the DPRK will “continue to build up our self-defence capability…and the capability for preemptive strike as long as the United States and its vassal forces [the South Koreans and Japanese] keep on nuclear threat and blackmail.” In sum, whatever Trump does to attack them, the DPRK will be ready in force while they continue to push for reunification of the Korean peninsula even if the murderous US empire opposes it.

The other country Trump has under his radar is less talked out: Syria. While US aid to terrorists in the country may end, along with US aid to Kurds, Bashar Al-Assad saying that Trump could be a “natural ally” to help fight terrorism, a military attack on the country is more possible than ever. [12] Other than his claim to relentless bomb ISIS and cut off its oil during the campaign, he also promised safe zones for refugees within the country. [13] After the election, in December, Trump reiterated this promise, saying that “when I look at what’s going on in Syria, it’s so sad…we’re going to help people. We’ll build and help build safe zones in Syria, so people will have a chance,” building such zones with money from Gulf monarchies, imperial proxies. [14] Thus humanitarian effort of building these zones sounds like veiled reference to no-fly-zones, which will be difficult to establish and lead to US troops on the ground. [15] So, in sum, Trump is calling for war in the socially democratic and secular state of Syria, something that all thinking people should oppose.

Some readers may think something is missing in this article. They may balk at conservative Christianity taking more of a role in government and anger by the incoming administration at pushes for diversity and “political correctness,” the latter which be should described as political respectfulness since it is about respecting other people, regardless of their cultures or beliefs. They might also mention possible attacks to come on “public” media like NPR and PBS, and stronger gun rights. While some of these concerns are justified, others are not. For one, it is worth being concerned about the encroachment of religious beliefs on governments, as they are often tied to socially conservative ideals which distort governments in a way that disturbs efforts of human betterment. However, there is no need to defend “public” media like NPR (National Pentagon Radio) or PBS (Petroleum Broadcasting Service) because they have already corrupted themselves by promoting military contractors, agribusiness, and other capitalistic propaganda. The same goes for gun rights. Considering that US society is racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise bigoted, it is criminal and irresponsible to fight for gun control. Anyone who is a person of color, whether female, transgender, bisexual, homosexual, intersex, or is otherwise considered a “minority” in current society, should have the right to defend themselves with arms as necessary. That right is already claimed by white, straight men, so why can’t others in society arm themselves to fight off bigots? You can’t fight a revolution with flowers and sayings, but political power, as Mao Zedong put it, “grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Gun control, if decided as necessary, should happen after a socialist revolution, not before it.

With this article, there must be a plan of action, even as the Chairman of Council of Economic Advisers, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Secretary of Agriculture have not been nominated yet. While there have been some protests of Trump nominees Jeff Sessions and Steve Bannon, there has not been a widespread effort to oppose his nominees. [16] Even, the Democrats, led by New Yorker Chuck Schumer in the Senate, and Marylander Steny Hoyer and Californian Nancy Pelosi in the House, not even Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and the like cannot be trusted to stand against Trump. They are clearly milquetoast liberals and progressives, with the possibility of Trump and Schumer working together in the future, and the Clinton team (Bill & Hillary) attending Trump’s inauguration. [17]

There is much that can be done to resist the horrid nature of the coming Trump Administration. As Worker’s World has argued, there doesn’t need to be a protest against rapprochement with Russia, but instead against a reactionary Russophobic position by Obama, Clinton, McCain, and the like, along with opposing “his overall reactionary program of vile xenophobia, racism and sexism” with a mass movement. Since this is needed, there should be a push to reject every nominee he has put forward, to reject David Friedman, Steve Mnuchin, Jeff Sessions, Ryan Zinke, Elaine Chao, Rick Perry, Wilbur Ross, Andrew Puzder, Tom Price, Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Gary Cohn, Todd M. Ricketts, Steve Bannon, Scott Pruitt, Mick Mulvaney, Linda McMahon, Jay Clayton, John Kelley, Nikki Haley, Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, Robert Lighthizer, Dan Coats, and Mike Pompeo. Only a united approach of opposing all these individuals can reject the agenda wholesale. If nothing is done, it is possible that the Republicans will move quickly to enact their reactionary social and economic policies, to say the least, leaving little time for resistance. Such opposition cannot be bourgeois in character, meaning that it cannot be funded by foundation-money or wealthy donors who need not be named, hence involving solidarity to defend existing socialist states like the DPRK and Cuba, revolutionary states like Iran and Syria, and others, like China, from imperialist assault. The bourgeoisie cannot be allowed to gain more victories and all efforts to expand their influence and power should be resisted at all costs. What happens next is up to you, the reader, to organize to stop the “orange menace” not because of his supposed “friendly” nature with Russia, but for the fascism he will bring to the homefront, imperialist destruction that will rein down on the peoples of Korea, Syria, China, and Iran, and unwavering support for the murderous Zionist state of Israel.

UPDATE:

Currently, the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions is going on in the Senate, with activists engaging in political theater by calling him out as a racist and allied with the KKK, a position the NAACP has also taken at this time. This in and of itself is not bad, as Sessions has praised law enforcement, representing the “old South,” and claims he wouldn’t participate in unlawful behavior. Confirmation hearings for Sessions and Rex Tillerson will be happening in the coming days.

Notes

[1] Jane C. Timm, “The 141 Stances Donald Trump Took During His White House Bid,” NBC News, Nov. 28, 2016; Andrew Restuccia, Nancy Cook, and Lorraine Woellert, “Trump’s conservative dream team,” Politico, Nov. 30, 2016; Matthew Cooper, “Donald Trump Is Building the Most Conservative Cabinet In U.S. History,” Newsweek, Dec. 9, 2016; Noah Bierman and Evan Halper, “Trump’s Cabinet picks are among the most conservative in history. What that means for his campaign promises,” LA Times, Dec. 15, 2016; Niall Stange, “Trump’s unorthodox Cabinet,” The Hill, Dec. 15, 2016; Stephen Collinson, “Donald Trump’s Cabinet a boon for conservatives,” CNN, Dec. 20, 2016; Nick Timiraos and Andrew Tangel, “Donald Trump’s Cabinet Selections Signal Deregulation Moves Are Coming,” Wall Street Journal, Dec. 8, 2016; Jim Tankersley and Ana Swanson, “Donald Trump is assembling the richest administration in modern American history,” Washington Post, Nov. 30, 2016; Danielle Kurtzleben, “How The Donald Trump Cabinet Stacks Up, In 3 Charts,” NPR, Dec. 28, 2016.

[2] Its possible that the idea of birthright citizenship enshrined in the 14th Amendment may be under attack as well, but it is hard to know, but it is clear that harsher immigration laws, possibly emulating the one in Arizona, will be pushed on a national level along with a ban on immigration from certain countries.

[3] Bryan Bender, “Trump’s team tries to stifle rift on Russia,” Politico, Jan. 5, 2017; Reuters, “Trump accepts U.S. intelligence on Russia hacking: chief of staff,” Jan. 8, 2017; Kyle Bullack, “Graham: Trump worried blaming Russia will undermine his legitimacy,” The Hill, Jan. 8, 2017.

[4] Chinese state media reports aircraft carriers conducting drills in the South China Sea and arguing if the country should alone “shoulder responsibility to fight global warming” if climate change denial becomes official policy in the Trump administration.

[5] AFP, “Trump dismisses N.Korea nuclear threat, baits China in tweets,” Jan. 3, 2017; Rebecca Morin, “Trump: North Korea will be stopped,” Politico, Jan. 2, 2017; Choe Sang-Hun, “North Korea will test intercontinental ballistic missile, Kim says,” New York Times, Jan. 2, 2017; Reuters, “North Korea cannot ‘tip’ missile with nuclear warhead: U.S. State Department,” Jan. 3, 2017; David Brunnstrom and Arshad Mohammed, “Trump’s North Korea red line could come back to haunt him,” Reuters, Jan. 3, 2017.

[6] AFP, “North Korea urges policy shift from Trump administration,” Nov. 10, 2016.

[7] Ri Hak Nam, “No Force on Earth Can Overpower Strength of DPRK,” Rodong Sinmun, Dec. 29, 2016; KCNA, “U.S. Has No Force to Block DPRK’s Advance,” Jan. 4, 2017; Miniu Joson, “Press Review,” KCNA, Nov. 8, 2016;

[8] Choe Yong Nam, “History proves DPRK’s choice correct,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 31, 2016.

[9] KCNA, “In brief,” The Pyongyang Times, Nov. 8, 2016; Pak Song Il, “Dismal human rights record of the US,” The Pyongyang Times, Nov. 27, 2016; KCNA, “US downfall is the course of history,” The Pyongyang Times, Nov. 9, 2016; Choe Yang Nam, “Obama’s DPRK policy a fiasco,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 22, 2016; Choe Yang Nam, “American human rights situation gets worse,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 29, 2016.

[10] Jong Sun Bok, “2016 sees remarkable progress in the building of civilized socialist nation,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 26, 2016; Jong Sun Bok, “With KPA as main force of revolution,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 27, 2016; Yung Kyong Il, “Marked improvement of people’s livelihood under socialist system,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 27, 2016; PT Staff, “Supreme Leader poses with participants in Party conference, sees joint performance,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 29, 2016; PT Staff, “Kim Jong Un presides over first conference of chairpersons of primary Party committees,” The Pyongyang Times, Dec. 30, 2016.

[11] Rodong Sinmun, “Kim Jong Un’s New Year Address,” Jan. 2, 2017.

[12] Reuters, “Syria’s Assad: Trump can be our natural ally,” Dec. 14, 2016.

[13] Ali Vitali, “Trump on refugees: Create ‘safe zone’ in Syria, don’t ‘destroy all of Europe’,” NBC News, Nov. 16, 2015; Netasha Bertand, “Trump says he wants to set up safe zones in Syria ‘so people can have a chance’,” Business Insider, Dec. 16, 2016.

[14] Mark Landler, “‘It’s So Sad,’ Donald Trump Says of Syria, Promising ‘Safe Zones’,” New York Times, Dec. 15, 2016; Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton, “Trump promises Syria ‘safe zones’, Obama says no easy fix,” Reuters, Dec. 16, 2016.

[15] Paul D. Stinkman, “Donald Trump Says U.S. Should Establish Safe Zones in Syria,” U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 16, 2016.

[16] Sari Horowitz, “More than 1,100 law school professors nationwide oppose Sessions’s nomination as attorney general,” Washington Post, Jan. 3, 2017; Jay Croft, “Arrests end NAACP sit-in at Jeff Sessions’ office,” CNN, Jan. 4, 2017.

[17] Dan Merica and Theodore Schleifer, “Bill, Hillary Clinton to attend Trump Inauguration,” CNN, Jan. 3, 2017; Eugene Scott, “Schumer confirms Trump told him he likes him better than Republicans,” CNN, Jan. 3, 2017. Such “resistance” that exists now is pathetic and toothless, seeming to go little beyond jingoism in the name of empire. Bourgeois liberal commentators or Democrats won’t save us from Trump’s fascism. With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, they can easily pass Trump’s agenda, and a good number of Democrats will likely fall in line. Existing “resistance” includes a site to resist the “fascist America” of Trump organized by activists, artists, indigenous peoples, and writers, but is sadly, although rightfully anti-fascist, is devoid of radical analysis, especially concerning class and capitalism itself, making it an easy appeal to middle-class, bourgeois audiences.

David Swanson, the USSR, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact

screenshot_2017-01-06-01-59-55-1
A screenshot from a 1949 animated Soviet propaganda film by Victor Gromov, titled “Mr. Wolf,” focusing on a pacifist capitalist, like Andrew Carnegie perhaps, who, fed up with the horrible nature of war, moves to an “island of peace.” But when he finds oil, he gets greedy, dropping his belief in pacifism, demands control of it, reveals his secret stash of arms, and seizes control of the oil with the help of (presumably) the US Navy. The message of greedy capitalists and duplicitous pacifists is very clear while some are flummoxed.

As Trump promises to increase military spending, including 350 more ships for the Navy (likely costing over $126 billion dollars), strengthening the murderous US empire, which builds off the brashly imperialist foreign policy of the Obama administration, it is important to recall our history. This article will first outline the narrative by David Swanson, a former press secretary for bourgeois Democratic “peace” politician, Dennis Kucinich, during his presidential candidacy, and peace activist, on the history of how the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 came into fruition, summarizing his book to the best of my ability, there will be a counterpoint to his history, and finally it will end with my conclusion on where to go from here.

David Swanson’s narrative of what happened

David Swanson’s book is a good place to start. While he is not radical, and arguably a bourgeois pacifist, he does help tell this story. As he tells it, the peace movement in the 1920s, depending on new female voters, united around the idea of war outlawry, previously split by the League of Nations, seen as a glorious and noble cause. [1] This movement was strengthened by outrage at the horrible effects of WWI, despite the manipulation of emotions, by Woodrow Wilson’s “propaganda machinery,” in the form of the Committee of Public Information, to influence Americans to support war. [2] Such manipulation was preceded by Wilson winning election in 1916, with slogans like “he kept us out of the war,” but turning around and involving the US in WWI in April 1917. Many in the US, disillusioned with promises of war, distrusted European peace efforts, as the US membership in the League of Nations and World Court did not materialize, along with other failed negotiations in the 1920s, the peace movement grew. [3] Leading intellectuals, robber-barons, like Andrew Carnegie who founded the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and politicians, like Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, promoted peace. At the same time, “peace societies” were created in the US, along with a litany of other pro-peace organizations, such as the American Friends Service Committee and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, some of which spread  “a barrage of peace propaganda.” [4]

There are number of individuals who specifically pushed for “war outlawry” or the abolishment of war. Swanson cites 22 individuals. [5] One of these individuals was Salmon Oliver Levinson, a Yale graduate and Chicago lawyer who led the American Committee for the Outlawry of War, which tried to make war illegal and recognized as an institution. [6] Others, such as Kirby Page and temperance activist Carrie Chapman Catt, also pushed for war outlawry, allied with other forces, like the Progressive Party which represented interests of farmers, petty urban bourgeoisie, and trade unions, collapsing after the 1924 election, along with public opinion in favor of prohibiting war. [7] Pro-peace clubs and organizations sprung up by the hundreds, with thousands of members, eliminating the divides in the past between more wealthy organizations, like the Carnegie Endowment and the American Foundation for Peace, and more radical ones pushing for disarmament and opposing militarism. [8] The former profited from war with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonds from the U.S. Steel Corporation. However, it is worth pointing out that Outlawrists, tapping into widespread skepticism of collective defense agreements, “favored the rule of the written word” to prevent war, creating a world court which had international jurisdiction, but were muddled when they didn’t always consider the distinction between “aggressive” and “defensive war.” [9] Beyond this, such a push for outlawing war was an effort to change people’s conceptions of what they consider “morally acceptable,” hoping that society could be organized for peace, but not always taking into account that some engage in statements of desire about ending war and peaceful resolution rather than the reality. [10]

From then on, there was a push for Western diplomats to negotiate what became the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Illegal diplomacy by pro-peace US citizens, led to debate among French, German, and British diplomats about being involved in the treaty, boosted by supportive writings in The New Republic, New York Times, and Foreign Affairs, along with sympathetic congressmembers like socially conservative William Borah and Republican Robert LaFollette, among others. [11] Aristide Briand, a long-time prime minister, advocate of “personal diplomacy,” and breaker of a railroaders strike, made the first move, with a Minnesota Republican, Secretary of State Frank Kellogg, no active advocate of peace, forced into action even as he cursed pacifists privately. [12] Obviously in an effort to reinforce US imperialism, Kellogg was willing to threaten war to enforce the Monroe Doctrine in the Americas, derided by the new Soviet government, but was pushed into action by a strong peace movement, negotiating a treaty with the French secretly, making it multilateral even though Briand did not want this to happen originally. [13] Some of the French showed their true colors, like Paul Claudel, who said that outlawing war was sentimental and would please “cranks,” Bolsheviks and socialists, proposing a joint declaration of principles but Kellogg stuck by his demand for a treaty, later coming over to public negotiations of the treaty as the US and British allowed their respective imperialisms to fall under the idea of “self-defense” and not be covered by the treaty. [14] The Kellogg-Briand Pact, also called the Pact of Paris, was signed in Paris in 1928, picketed by feminists saying that an equal rights treaty should be proposed and anti-imperialists who said that US imperialism would continue, and survived the US Senate (votes in favor 85-1), despite broad questioning of its effectiveness, then entering the canons of international law in July 1929. [15]

Swanson continues by saying that the pact’s ideas were influential. He says that it inspired the UN’s principles in 1945 and International Criminal Court, claiming the pact was the “first U.S. recognition of the Soviet Union’s existence.” [16] He also says that Henry Stimson tried to stop the USSR and nationalist China from supposedly going to the “brink of war.” He doesn’t note that this was part of a “Sino-Soviet conflict over the Manchurian railway line,” which was settled with a protocol that “affirmed the original status of the railroad as a joint enterprise” and Soviet victory. At the time, Persia (Iran) defended the USSR rhetorically when it took defensive measures against nationalist China in the 1929 spat. [17] Swanson also points out Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in 1931, Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, and Germany invading Poland on Sept. 1, 1939 and the Soviets on Sept. 17, 1939 as violations of the pact. Not surprisingly, Swanson does not say that this intervention was in accordance with the secret Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact since the Soviets felt that the Polish could no longer defend themselves because of the collapse of their state after a Nazi attack, and the Soviets were welcomed by the Polish people as “true liberators.” Swanson goes on to say that the treaty was not ordinary, but meant to outlaw war, with the reality that the US quickly violated the pact, with peace structures not stopping the coming war. Some supported Outlawry at the time (Stimson) but opposed it later, and others, such as, a Wall Street lawyer named William Chanler, a friend of Stimson, used it as a basis for criminal trials of the Germans and Japanese for war crimes at Nuremberg and the UN Charter as a whole. [18] Eventually, Kellogg was given a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the treaty even as he didn’t stop advocating for US imperial aggression.

Before ending the section on Swanson’s narrative, it worth noting how taken in he is about this story. He thinks war outlawry be revived and that we should have a “Kellogg-Briand Day” on August 27 every year, celebrating a “step toward peace” but war’s abolishment or end. [19] He goes on to say that his book, dispelling the well-kept secret that war is illegal, continues the campaign for outlawry, which includes pushing countries to comply with the pact, and says that a public referendum on war is an intriguing idea. [20] At the end of his book, he outlines numerous proposals for reducing the US war machine, [21] and says that his self-published book, where he had complete editorial control, is meant to help people learn about the Kellogg-Briand Pact and study peace activism that got us to Outlawry. [22]

What Swanson missed

Another screenshot from the Soviet animated film "Mr. Wolf."
Another screenshot from the Soviet animated film “Mr. Wolf.”

In his happy good lucky story of the road to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, Swanson glosses over a number of details, almost portraying the US imperialists as “peacemakers” in the process. As the Great Soviet Encyclopedia argued, the US tried to use the Paris Peace Conference, from 1919-1920, to marginalize the USSR, Harding’s administration, favoring monopolies, used the Washington Conference of 1921-1922 to force the UK to agree to equality between US and UK battle fleets, Coolidge’s administration was unfriendly to the USSR, and US warships helped bomb Nanking in 1927. [23] Additionally, Swanson’s book barely ever mentions the Soviets, usually only referring to them in passing except for one time when he notes that a delegate from the USSR,  Maxim Maimovich Litvinov, proposed to the League of Nations’s commission on disarmament in Nov. 1927 that there be the “immediate and total abolition of all armies, navies, and air forces; the sinking of all warships; the scrapping of all war material; and the demolition of all arms factories” but Western governments rejected this, and the French even voted to expand their navy. [24] He never expands on other Soviet policies in favor of peace but has a very Western-centered approach, likely written with his audience of liberals and progressives in mind who scowl at the Soviet Union.

There is another aspect of the process that Swanson barely talks about, if he even alludes to it: the interests of Western capitalist states who engaged in the pact. Kellogg himself wanted to desperately avoid the treaty, which was, as some writers put it, “the product of Realpolitik and cynical political calculations,” with the French seeing the pact as a possibility for a “defensive alliance aimed at Germany” while in the US, many believed that “the solution to the scourge of war lay in the universal renunciation of its practice.” [25] More specifically, while Briand’s offer for negotiations on a treaty to end war “thrilled pacifist-minded Americans,” it also served “France’s strategic needs,” a way to sideline the US “should France go to war” but Kellogg understood “what Briand was trying to accomplish and wanted nothing to do with the offer” and did not like Briand’s “bid to energize U.S. peace groups and thereby box in the Coolidge administration.” Beyond this, Kellogg agreed to talk with the French, engaging in a multilateral treaty outlawing war rather than a bilateral treaty, which supposedly “rendered it largely ineffective, more a toy handcuff than an iron manacle” and Briand was hardly in a position to argue against it. Paris served as “the site for the historic meeting to renounce war” and US Senators had few illusions about the treaty, knowing “it was the international equivalent of an air kiss,” voting the same day “to fund the construction of fifteen new warships.”

The US State Department admits this much in their write-up about the pact. They argue that the pact had “little effect in stopping the rising militarism of the 1930s or preventing World War II” but also note the movement that pushed for the peace pact. France was facing, they note, “continuing insecurity from its German neighbor and sought alliances to shore up its defenses,” but the US was less eager to enter into a bilateral peace pact, worrying that it “could be interpreted as a bilateral alliance and require the United States to intervene if France was ever threatened” so they suggested that it be multilateral, which aligned with war outlawry being “immensely popular in international public opinion.” The State Department history also says that the pact’s language “established the important point that only wars of aggression – not military acts of self-defense – would be covered under the pact,” resulting in many nations signing it, and the U.S. Senate ratifying the agreement after making “reservations to note that U.S. participation did not limit its right to self-defense or require it to act against signatories breaking the agreement.” The pact was first tested, argues this history, during the Mukden Incident which led to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, but the fact of a “worldwide depression and a limited desire to go to war to preserve China” led to no action from the League of Nations or the US. Later threats to the agreement “from fellow signatories Germany, Austria and Italy” made it clear there “was no way to enforce the pact or sanction those who broke it” with many ways around the terms, the pact not helping prevent WWII but very idealistic in the view of the State Department history.

In missing this aspect of the pact, Swanson, of course, did not mention the imperial nature of the pact itself. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia argued that the pact was originally used by the US and other imperialist powers as a “means of isolating the USSR” but that under “the pressure of public opinion they were forced to invite the USSR to subscribe to the pact.” [26] The Soviets adhered to the pact on August 29, 1928, details of which will be discussed later in this article. Such an action led to anger from Trotskyists who saw themselves as righteous in their “revolutionary” feelings, even though Leon Trotsky supported a continuation of the NEP, opposed measures to ensure the security of the Soviet state from opportunists and foreign enemies, and pushed the idea of “permanent revolution” while rejecting the more practical idea of “socialism in one country” proposed by Joseph Stalin, as noted in a previous post on this blog. The Trotskyists claimed that the signing of this pact marked a departure from a “revolutionary path,” strengthened “bourgeois illusions,” struck at Lenin’s work, and that Western powers are not interested in peace but wanted to check the “successful robber activities of the Nipponese competitor,” Japan. [27] While most of these statements take an unrealistic counter-revolutionary viewpoint, the last statement about Western powers is one the Soviets would actually agree with.

The Soviet government had a good reason for signing the pact regardless of what the counter-revolutionary Trotskyists said. While they would have, a few years before, possibly sneered at the effort as “bourgeois sentimentalism,” the USSR wanted to join the world community even as the initial invitations for the pact excluded the Soviets, leaving them to believe there was the tacit formation of an anti-Soviet bloc, but the French invited the Soviets to be signatories and they did so, with their affirmation of the pact showing a “Soviet desire for peace.” [28] Signing the pact was also a continuation of previous Soviet policy. Beyond what Swanson briefly mentioned, in the 1927 and 1928 disarmament conferences, Litvinov offered wide-sweeping proposals for disarmament, which was popular among the public, even when the USSR adhered to the pact, one newspaper, the Inprecor, argued that Britain, France, and capitalist satellites like Poland, were continuing preparation for war on the USSR. [29]

However, not everyone in the Soviet government wanted to ratify the pact. The People’s Commissar of the Soviet Union (1924-1930) Georgy Chicherin, opposed ratification, while Nikolai Bukharin (who supported NEP’s continuation and wanted socialism at a “snail’s pace”) and Litvinov supported it, arguing that it would allow Western powers to interfere in Soviet foreign affairs, the same reason he opposed the Soviets joining League of Nations. [30] His supporters pointed to British & French reservations about the pact, arguing that it would have no effect.

Despite this argument, the Soviets signed the pact, but mad they were not invited to signing ceremony [31], taking the position that “all international wars must be prohibited, in particular, wars with the aim of suppressing movements of national liberation,” along with prohibition of “intervention, blockade, military occupation of foreign territory, foreign ports” along with “severance of diplomatic relations” since this “contributes to…an atmosphere that favors the occurrence of war.” [32] The Soviet government as a whole took the position that signing the pact showed they were consistent advocates of peace, and believed that only a “universal and complete disarmament plan” could prevent armed conflicts, while admitting the pact would be a dead letter unless growth of arms was limited. Some, such as Evgeny A. Korovin, argued that the pact was a “serious blow to the system of the Anglo-French capitalist bloc” and that it weakened the League of Nations. [33] The Soviets also declared that the pact did not go far enough renouncing war by “failing to cover all methods of aggression,” saying that the fact that the pact didn’t have provisions for disarmament showed the “insincerity of bourgeois pacifism.” [34] Looking at articles 1 and 2 of the pact itself [35] shows their criticism to be valid, as it is very loosely worded, only condemning recourse to war internationally and renouncing it as form of national policy:

ARTICLE I: “The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.”

ARTICLE II: “The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.”

Additionally, the pact, unlike Soviet treaties of nonaggression which renounced war “completely, totally, and without qualification,” seemed to exclude warlike action and the right of self-defense from the pact’s operation, meaning that it, arguably, watered down and truncated the “concept of nonaggression.” [36] Later on, the Soviets would argue that a declared war or any “de facto military actions initiated by any state” should be considered a breach of the pact. [37]

More importantly, the pact inadvertently gave Soviet foreign policy a boost. As a result of the pact, the Soviets proposed their own security policy, inviting neighbors to bring the pact into force by themselves, with what was called the “Litvinov Protocol,” named after the Soviet diplomat, signed by the USSR, Poland, Latvia, and Estonia, later joined by Lithuania, Turkey, Persia, and Free City of Danzig, with Finland not as a signatory. [38] This showed that the USSR was a champion of the principles in the pact and an “active proponent of the idea of curbing the freedom of states to indulge in waging war in order to promote their interests.” This pact, signed in February 1929, represented the “spirit of the Pact of Paris,” while it renounced the use of force and recourse to warlike measures, and while it provided little security for the neighbors of the USSR, its intention was more important than its application. [39] Part of the text of the agreement is reprinted below:

“…[the following governments] being desirous of promoting the maintenance of peace between their respective countries and for this purpose of putting into force without delay, between the peoples of those countries, the Treaty for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy, signed at Paris on August 27, 1928, have decided to achieve this purpose by means of the present Protocol…

Article I. The Treaty for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy, signed at Paris on August 27, 1928…shall come into force between the Contracting Parties after the ratification of the said Treaty of Paris of 1928 by the competent legislative bodies of the respective Contracting Parties.
Article II. The entry into force in virtue of the present Protocol, of the Treaty of Paris of 1928 in reciprocal relations between the Parties to the present Protocol shall be valid independently of the entry into force of the Treaty of Paris of 1928…
Article IV. In order to give effect to Article I of the present Protocol, each of the High Contracting Parties, after ratification by its legislative bodies of the Treaty of Paris of 1928, shall immediately notify the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and all the other Parties to the present Protocol, through the diplomatic channel.”

This agreement, also called the Moscow Protocol or more formally the “Protocol for the Immediate Entry into Force of the Treaty of Paris of August 27, 1928, Regarding Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy,” was immediately effective unlike the prolonged Kellogg-Briand Pact, with the Soviet negotiated agreement entering into force many months before the latter pact, and helping to improve Soviet relations with Poland. [40] The Soviet pact also disapproved the views of Western capitalists that “Red Russia would [not] keep a pledge to disarm.” [41]

Later on, in 1933, the USSR concluded a convention on the definition of aggression with Afghanistan, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Persia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey, and the next day a similar convention with Czechoslovakia, Turkey, and Yugoslavia. [42] This agreement defined aggression as a “declaration of war, invasion, assault, naval blockade and support of armed bands” along with outlining false excuses and justifications for such aggression by capitalist states. [43] Over the years to come, as even noted by this anti-communist but partially fair account of Soviet foreign policy, the Soviets recognized the danger posed by the Nazis, trying to “restrain German militarism by building coalitions hostile to fascism,” adopting a policy of “cooperation with socialists and liberals against fascism, thus reversing its line of the early 1930s,” with the county joining the League of Nations in 1934, and Litvinov advocating “disarmament and collective security against fascist aggression.” Beyond this, the Soviets also, in 1935, made alliances with France and Czechoslovakia, and “from 1936 to 1939 it gave assistance to antifascists in the Spanish Civil War,” leading to Germany and Japan signing the “Anti-Comintern Pact in 1936” but the West did not want to “counter German provocative behavior,” and after France and Britain appeased “Hitler’s demands for Czechoslovak territory at Munich in 1938,” Stalin then abandoned his “efforts to forge a collective security agreement with the West” apparently.

After this, Stalin came to an “understanding with Germany,”replacing Litvinov with his confidante, Viacheslav Molotov as commissar of foreign affairs, with the Nazis and Soviets engaging in “intensive negotiations,” leading to the Nonaggression Pact of August 23, 1939, which “pledged absolute neutrality in the event one of the parties should become involved in war, while a secret protocol [that] partitioned Poland,” and soon thereafter the WWII began. Despite this, one cannot blame the Soviets for war, since felt they could not trust the Western powers to fight the Nazis by allying with them, and they did not want destruction of their country like happened during WWI. In later years, the Soviets pushed the UN for a new definition on aggression which encompassed viewpoints from across the Third World in 1953 and 1956. [44] After that point, when Khrushchev unfairly and traitorously denounced Stalin in his “secret speech” and cozied up more to the Western capitalists, revisionism took hold in the country, only to be uprooted by 1964, seemingly, when Leonid Brezhnev took power. All of these aspects will be covered in later articles about Soviet history.

The fact that Swanson did not address the Soviet perspective on the pact at all is not much of a surprise. While he is good-intentioned in writing about this subject and his book is a worthy history, he also is a bourgeois pacifist who does not talk about the role of capitalism, class relations, or imperialist struggle in bringing this agreement to fruition. I don’t wish to talk about that history in regards to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, as that would require a good amount of additional research on the subject. As a result, this article is just meant to criticize Swanson and bring a new perspective to light on this subject, leading to future discussion.

Concluding thoughts

Final screenshot from the Soviet animated film "Mr. Wolf" I'm using in this article.
Final screenshot from the Soviet animated film “Mr. Wolf” I’m using in this article.

Some may say that it isn’t even worth reading the works of a bourgeois pacifist like David Swanson and that I’m giving him free press. While I can see where such a viewpoint is coming from, I also think it is unfair. It is worth reading other points of view in order to improve your own. There is no doubt that Swanson spent time and resources on writing his history, but his ideological viewpoint distorted his history so he did not, as a result, recognize the full reality. What I mean by this is that he is writing from a white, privileged, and Western perspective geared toward audiences in the United States. You could even add in that his perspective does not mention perspectives by women, not even white women, since only a smattering of the war outlawrists he cites are women. Additionally, where is a mention of race in this book? Doesn’t the Kellogg-Briand Pact effect people of color across the world? Also, a more robust analysis of European imperialisms and US imperialism would have improved the narrative to be more critical of established power structures. This agreement led to a sort of “capitalist peace” you could say.

The current Kellogg-Briand Pact, coupled with Articles 1 and 51 of the UN Charter, is a good tool to restrain the murderous empire. However, one must be wary of the demands of bourgeois pacifism in this regard, as such pacifism does not recognize the possibility of revolutionary wars for liberation and often says that people should not have the right to armed self-defense, instead just engaging in peaceful measures. This should be rejected wholesale. If Palestinians have the right to fire back rockets in response to never-ending Israeli bombing then blacks in the United States have the right to defend themselves with arms against bigots trying to harm them. To be realistic, there will only be peace once socialist revolutions sweep the world and remove the virus of capitalism because militarism is deeply tied to such a horrid economic system. Sure, we can support the idea of outlawing war. However, we should not think that it, even if connected with an international court and other instruments of international law, will bring justice in a way that prevents capitalist exploitation. This is especially the fact if such a push does not include a demand for strong enforcement mechanisms, something that the Kellogg-Briand Pact lacks, not even allowing for sanctions, as much as they can be destructive and an instrument of imperialist aggression, of countries that violate its provisions. [45]

Notes

[1] David Swanson, When the World Outlawed War (Charlottesville, VA, 2011), p. 6, 11-12.

[2] Swanson, 11-15, 19-20. Such propaganda stayed in people’s minds before Wilson saw public opinion as “something to use, rather than avoid,” Swanson argues.

[3] Ibid, 16-17.

[4] Ibid, 17-18. The organization that paid for this was one group called the National Council for Prevention of War.

[5] War Outlawrists that Swanson cites: John Dewey, Robert Farrell, Thomas Hall Shastid, Sherwood Eddy, Robert Farrell, Murray Butler, James Thomson Shotwell, Andrew Carnegie, Salmon Oliver Levinson, John Chalmers Vinson, John E. Stoner, Kirby Page, Charles Clayton Morrison, Arthur Capper of Kansas, William Borah, Warren G. Harding, John Haynes Holmes, Raymond Robins, Frances Keller, Calvin Coolidge, James Brown Scott, and Carrie Chapman Catt.

[6] Swanson, 24-27, 30-33.

[7] Ibid, 27-28, 60-69, 111-114; LeftistCritic, “Annotating A Section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” Soviet History, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 38.

[8] Ibid, 20-23, 73-74.

[9] Ibid, 34-37, 41-42. The idea of such enforcement was a court of law, with enforcement of rulings relying on good faith of nations, not military action, an economic blockade or sanctions, with the court as a form of “dispute resolution.”

[10] Ibid, 37-40, 43-47.

[11] Ibid, 49-59, 75-82, 90-91, 100-106.

[12] Ibid, 5, 71-72, 84-85, 92-99.

[13] Ibid, 85-89, 107-110.

[14] Ibid, p. 111-123.

[15] Swanson, 6, 125, 131-134, 136-142.

[16] Ibid, 144-146; Kellogg said that the pact did not mean the US recognized the USSR, but the Soviets hoped the pact would be a way to gain rapprochement (American Foreign Relations Since 1600: A Guide to the Literature, Vol. 1 (ed. Robert L. Beisner and Kurt W. Hanson, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003), 851.

[17] Also see “The Sino-Soviet Border Conflict, 1969: U.S. Reactions and Diplomatic Maneuvers” published on the National Security Archive’s website in 2001.

[18] Swanson, 6, 146-155. As Chen Tiqiang argues, “Article 1 of the Anti-War Pact of Paris concluded on August 27, 1928, stipulates that the signatory countries to the pact “renounce…recourse to war as an instrument of national policy.” The Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East; pronounced on November 12, 1948, pointed out that a war in violation of the Paris pact is illegal by international law and that “those who plan and wage such a war with its inevitable and terrible consequences are committing a crime in doing so.” Thus, it is clear that wars of aggression had already been prohibited by international law before Japan launched its war of aggression. The Japanese Government, therefore, had launched its war of aggression against China wittingly and deliberately with full knowledge of its legal significance” (Chen Tiqiang, “Conclusions Confirmed by History,” Beijing Review, Aug. 30, 1982, vol. 25, no. 35, p. 27). Another writer notes that “in the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact (or Pact of Paris), the States Parties solemnly declared “that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.” The Pact did not, however, specify criminal liability either for States or for individuals in the event of a violation of the Pact; whether the norm set forth in the Pact reflected a general rule of international law or one binding solely upon those States that had ratified the Pact was uncertain. As such, after the outbreak of World War II, many believed that no “international agreement criminalising wars of aggression was in force in 1939, and therefore, on the basis of the nullum crimen sine lege principle, the Allies were not legally entitled to prosecute the top Nazi leaders for aggression” but at the San Francisco conference in April 1945 they asserted that the original intent of the Kellogg-Briand Pact requires trying Nazis and Japanese fascists as war criminals (Sean D. Murphy, “The Crime of Aggression at the ICC,” Public Law and Legal Theory Paper No. 2012-50, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-50, 2012, p. 3-4). It is worth noting that WWII commenced even with the pact in place, but that the pact influenced Japan’s pacifist constitution.

[19] Swanson, 6-8.

[20] Ibid, 5, 9-10, 49, 163-165.

[21] Other peaceful proposals include simple disarmament, disentangling ourselves from alliances that cause us to go to war like NATO, pressure those in power, enacting numerous strategies and create a holiday for the pact on August 27, that war is good for nothing (p. 165-167, 169). His ideas, outlined in p. 166 to 167 include: (1) cutting half of a trillion dollars out of the national security budget, half into tax cuts for everyone, half into useful social spending; (2) bring the National Guard back home and de-federalize it; (3) ban redeployment of personnel suffering from PTSD; (4) ban no-bid military contracts; (5) restore constitutional war powers to Congress; (6) have a public referendum before any war; (7) close foreign bases; (8) ban weapons from space; (9) ban extralegal prisons; (10) ban “kangaroo courts” outside the US justice system; (11) restore habeas corpus; (12) ban use of mercenaries; (13) limit military spending; (14) ban secret operations, agencies, and budgets; (15) ban drone strikes; (16) forbid transfer of student info. to military recruiters without permission; (17) comply with Kellogg-Briand Pact; (18) reform or replace the UN; (19) join the ICC and make it independent of the UN; (20) disarm.

[22] Swanson, 157-162, 170-171.

[23] LeftistCritic, “Annotating A Section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” Soviet History, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 35, p. 37-39.

[24] Swanson, 106.

[25] James M. Lindsay, “TWE Remembers: The Kellogg-Briand Pact,” Council on Foreign Relations, August 27, 2011.

[26] LeftistCritic, “Annotating A Section of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” Soviet History, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 39.

[27] Max Shachtman, “War, Kellogg Pact and the Soviet Union,” March 1929, The Militant, Vol. II No. 5, 1 March 1929, pp. 1 & 4; Jack Weber, “March of Events,” July 13 1935, New Militant, Vol. I No. 29, 13 July 1935, p. 3; Sam Gordon, New Developments in Far East: Western Imperialists Register Protests as Japs Hold on to Booty, February 1932, The Militant, Vol. V No. 6 (Whole No. 102), 6 February 1932, p. 1.

[28] Alastair Kocho-Williams, Russia’s International Relations in the Twentieth Century (New York: Routledge, 2013), 52; Akira Iriye, The New Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations: The Globalizing of America, 1913-1945, Vol. 3 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 84-85, 106.  Some say that the USSR remained “somewhat isolated diplomatically” by the West at least, but this is only one opinion on the matter. It is also worth noting that the provisions of the Kellogg-Briand Pact also applied to Soviet relations with Finland, Latvia, and Lithuania (Jan F. Triska and Robert M. Slusser, The Theory, Law, and Policy of Soviet Treaties (Sanford, CA: Sanford University Press, 1962), 250-251).

[29] J.L. Black, Canada in the Soviet Mirror: Ideology and Perception in Soviet Foreign Affairs, 1917-1991 (Canada: Carleton University Press, 1998), 66. The Comintern didn’t take Litvinov’s moves them seriously and got ready in case of invasion.

[30] Jan F. Triska and Robert M. Slusser, The Theory, Law, and Policy of Soviet Treaties (Sanford, CA: Sanford University Press, 1962), 259.

[31] On August 5, 1928, Chicherin argued that “the exclusion of the Soviet government from these negotiations leads us…to the assumption that among the real objectives of the initiators of this pact there obviously was and is an endeavor to make of this pact a weapon for isolating and fighting the Soviet Union. The negotiations regarding the conclusion of the Kellogg Pact was obviously an integral part of the policy of encircling the Soviet Union, which at present occupies the central point of the international relations of the whole world” (Xenia Joukoff Eudin and Harold Henry Fisher, Soviet Russia and the West, 1920-1927: A Documentary Survey (Sanford, CA: Sanford University Press, 1957), 352).

[32] Triska and Slusser, 259.

[33] Triska and Slusser, 260.

[34] Triska and Slusser, 262. On the subject of the Litvinov Protocol also see Rudolf Bernhardt, Use of Force · War and Neutrality Peace Treaties (N-Z) (New York: North Holland Publishing Company, 1982), 36.

[35] Documents about it here on the Avalon Project’s website.

[36] Triska and Slusser, 258.

[37] International Law and International Security: Military and Political Dimensions (ed. Paul B. Stephan and Boris Mikhaĭlovich Klimenko, London: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1991), 9, 296.

[38] George Ginsburgs, Moscow’s Road to Nuremberg: The Soviet Background to the Trial (London: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1996), 4.

[39] Richard C. Hall, Consumed by War: European Conflict in the 20th Century (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2010), 97; Miron Rezun, The Soviet Union and the Iran: Soviet Policy in Iran from the Beginnings of the Pahlavi Dynasty until the Soviet Invasion of 1941 (Geneva: Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales, 1981), 148, 154, 247; Marcel Mitrasca, Moldova: A Romanian Province Under Russian Rule : Diplomatic History from the archives of the Great Powers (New York: Algora Publishing, 2002), 8, 124, 330, 372, 377.

[40] KAZIMIERZ GRZYBOWSKI, “INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FROM THE SOVIET POINT OF VIEW,” p. 885; David A. Kaplow, “Nuclear Kellogg-Briand Pact: Proposing a Treaty for the Renunciation of Nuclear Wars as an Instrument of National Policy,” Georgetown University Law Center, p. 139; “When the Soviet Union Entered World Politics” ebook, “Diplomatic Isolation and the Beginnings of Stalinism” chapter, UC Press.

[41] Time Magazine, “RUSSIA: Litvinov’s Protocol,”KAZIMIERZ GRZYBOWSKI, “INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FROM THE SOVIET POINT OF VIEW,” p. 885.

[42] KAZIMIERZ GRZYBOWSKI, “INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FROM THE SOVIET POINT OF VIEW,” p. 885.

[43] Triska and Slusser, 262-263.

[44] Ibid.

[45] The lack of such provisions in the Kellogg-Briand Pact is not a surprise because Western capitalist states would have never stood for strong enforcement, rejecting it in an effort to defend their own empires.

The Great October Socialist Revolution and early history of the Soviet Union

"Woman-worker, the cooperative frees you from the reign of the kitchen and the cooking pot." 1923, as noted by Soviet Visuals.
“Woman-worker, the cooperative frees you from the reign of the kitchen and the cooking pot.” A 1923 poster in the Soviet Union as noted in a post by Soviet Visuals.

The absurd, unsubstantiated conspiracy that Russia (or more specifically Vladimir Putin) rigged the U.S. election so Donald Trump could win is currently dominating the bourgeois media. Recently, Western-friendly reformer Mikhail Gorbachev, who presided over the end of the Soviet Union and past Estonian president Toomas Hendrick Ilves declared that a new Russian nationalist union could be formed within the borders of the former Soviet Union. [1]

Regardless of whether such a union is a possibility, with the strong degree of nationalism and justified anger at the United States within the Russian Federation, the history of the Soviet Union is more important than ever. Due to the bourgeois and Trotskyist distortions of Soviet history and the nature of the socialist state, writing such a history is a challenge but is possible in a way that depicts the nation accurately, rather than within malice. This article is the beginning of a series on Soviet history, this article covering the Great October Socialist Revolution in 1917, the early years of the revolutionary Bolshevik government which fought against imperialist invaders (1917-1922), and the first decade of Soviet existence (1923-1933).

The Czarist monarchy and the lead up to the Great October Socialist Revolution

The peasants and the population as a whole suffered under the iron fist of the Tsar/Czar. Meanwhile, the Russian middle class, which can be viewed as synonymous with the bourgeoisie, enjoyed leisure tine, the “western import” of national theater, in which actors were commodities, and were supported by heavy state subsidies in certain industries, a feature of Russian capitalism.” [2] These privileged Russians included Sergey Produkin-Garsky who traveled around the empire with funding from Tsar Nicholas II to take “more than 10,000 full cover photographs” which captured “the diverse people who…made up the Russian Empire, before the revolution.”

In 1905, the equation changed. Only two years earlier the Bolshevik sect was formed, with the overarching party, the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDRP), agreeing on the need for a coming revolution with the ultimate end of establishing socialism. In this party there were also the Mensheviks who believed in the broad base of membership but the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, believed that there should be only militant revolutionaries in the party. Both of ideas were formed as the proletariat rose up. This was described by Lenin, in late January 1905: “…the proletariat has risen against Tsarism…the general strike in Petersburg is spreading…The revolution is spreading to waiver.” [3]

Lenin further called for the “arming of the people,” saying that “only an armed people can be a real stronghold on national freedom,” and that all revolutionaries must unite for the immediate overthrow of the bourgeois Tsarist government. [4] Years later he was much more critical. While he talked about the massacre of workers (“Bloody Sunday”) who petitioned the Tsar on January 22, 1905, the mutinies in the army, and the proletariat were at the head of the revolution and struggle forming Soviets (worker’s councils) but that its social content was “bourgeois-democratic.” [5] Still, the revolution had a broad significance. Even as bourgeois scholars like Max Weber downplayed it, the revolution was “the prologue of the coming…proletarian socialist revolution” which occurred twelve years later. [6] This was even confirmed by communistphobic scholars like Louise McReynolds. She wrote that the revolution in 1905 not only led to fears about the “violent potential of the lower classes” but it led to easing of restrictions on political expression, which, when combined with an expanding economy, led to growing commercial leisure for the bourgeoisie. [7]

After the revolution, elements of the RSDRP went head-to-head once again. The Mensheviks were dedicated to the idea of the proletariat being a revolutionary force on their own while the Bolsheviks argued that the proletariat, along with the peasants, would lead the revolution. Furthermore, the Bolsheviks said that the 1905 revolution was bourgeois, showing that there was a strong capitalist Russia, while the Mensheviks believed that an autocracy still existed meaning the that Tsar should be overthrown and replaced with a bourgeois government! Ultimately, as the 1910s passed, the Bolsheviks would take a hard line against the First Wold War, calling it, rightly, an imperialist war which would slaughter and divide the working classes of Europe, leading to vicious police persecution of the party itself.

At the same time, the laborers in North and Central Russia were suffering. A British correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, Morgan Phillips Price wrote that the peasants, skilled artisans, and others all suffered “in different ways under the same yoke of Tsarism” while the Russian capitalist class shared spoiled with French, Belgian, German, and British capitalists, who owned much of the economy. [8] This was all part of, as Price put it, the “maintenance of Tsarism and the system of exploitation of the Russian workers and peasants.”

1917 was an eventful year for the Russian people. In the first two months of the year, thousands of soldiers deserted, the Bolsheviks organized demonstrations to commemorate Bloody Sunday (mentioned two paragraphs earlier), crowds of women in Petrograd (later called Leningrad and currently Saint Petersburg) sporadically broke into stores, and thousands upon thousands of workers from 58 workers went on strike. On February 23, the “February Revolution” began.

The Tsarist government was in total turmoil. While the non-cohesive Russian army was breaking down, so was the economy, coupled with industrial mobilization during wartime which hurt the proletariat and led to violent demonstrations in Petrograd in late February. [9] As the established Duma, dominated by bourgeois members, discussed its mandate, the worker’s councils (Soviets), that represented the common people, wanted to replace and supplant Tsarist authority. [10] On March 2, the Tsar abdicated (some question the legality of this action), leading to the creation of a provisional government the next day which was supported by the Ispolkom/Petrograd Soviet, not yet with Bolsheviks in the majority. [11] Of course, the Bolsheviks wanted immediate peace and to end the imperialist war in Europe even when the majority of the members in the Soviets, like the one in Petrograd, did not necessarily agree with them.

In March 1917, Lenin wrote about the situation in Russia, just like he had written about the revolution in 1905:

“The first revolution engendered by the imperialist world war has broken out…the first stage of our revolution will certainly not be the last…the February-March revolution of 1917…has been marked…by a joint blow at Tsarism…the workers of the whole of Russia…fought for freedom, land for the peasants, and for peace, against the imperialist slaughter…[but] this new government…[is made up of a] class…of capitalist landlords and bourgeoisie which has long been ruling our country economically…the Tsarist monarchy has been smashed, but not fully destroyed.”

The provisional government was by no means a revolutionary one. Years later, the Great Soviet Encyclopedia described as a “bourgeois-democratic revolution” which made US elites uneasy so they recognized the provisional government with millions of dollars. [11*] This provisional government, soon led by Alexander Kerensky, was timid. While the peasants, urban workers, and other members of the proletariat wanted peace to prevent a “terrible catastrophe” in Russia caused by German invasion, but the Kerensky government did not try and control the war profiteers or industrial syndicates created by the Tsar. [12] Of course, the Mensheviks supported this governments, with hopes of influencing it, which led to “industrial anarchy” as pro-landlord policies came down the pipe, with, as Price puts it, “complete anarchy…reigning in the central provinces of Russia on the eve of the Bolshevik revolution” as the outlook of the masses seemed hopeless. [13]

Lenin acknowledged these issues in his articles through March. He wrote that the proletariat cannot support a “war government” and that a workers militia should be formed, along with mass organization of all able-bodied people of “both sexes.” Later in the month, he added that the new government could only be overthrown if bourgeois intelligentsia and the Russian bourgeoisie’s organization is countered, with the need of revolutionary government which is not bourgeois. The same month, Lenin wrote about the imperialist nature of World War I, saying that there can only be peace when power is in the “hands of the workers and poorest peasants” rather than the Russian bourgeoisie, and that victory is possible even as the “transition to socialism” cannot be established in one stroke.

As the months neared toward the socialist revolution, the Bolsheviks were under attack. While socialist intellectuals and populists had excluded the Bolsheviks from power in Kerensky’s provisional government, Lenin was rallying the Bolsheviks, telling them that property, land, and banks needed to be nationalized, a people’s militia created, end to the imperialist war, and all power given to the Soviets. [14] As the months passed, the “masses of people” opposed the Kerensky government, supported by the Menskeviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, with some Soviets remaining conservative, meaning that, as socialist writer John Reed put it, Russia before the “November insurrection seems…almost incredibly conservative.” More specifically, during this time period, Prvada, the Bolshevik publication begun publishing again, Poland’s independence was refused by the provisional government, there were massive May Day celebrations, the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets met, and the Mensheviks not surprisingly became very anti-Bolshevik. Beyond this, the Russian font against the Germans began folding away as soldiers deserted and millions went on strike in early July. As time went on, it was on the side of the Bolsheviks, who, after a failed attempt to seize power in Petrograd in July, were itching for a “second revolution,” this one of socialist and proletarian character and content. [15]

As revolution came to its final conclusion, the Bolsheviks were gaining ground. In September, General Lavr Kornilov tried to make himself a “military dictator” in Russia, with the Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviks not helping protect the city of Petrograd from imminent attack. [16] Ultimately, the government could do nothing to maintain order, but the Petrograd garrison, mainly composed of the pro-Bolshevik and working class elements, defended the city and its inhabitants. Even as the Petrograd soviet voted to not strike and voted against the death penalty, the Bolsheviks held off Kornilov’s invading forces and resolved to create a socialist (and Soviet) government. In September, the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) tried to reassert their influence in the Petrograd Soviet, but failed, and in October, there was mass mutiny in the front lines. The Bolsheviks took an understandable hard line, saying that they would not participate in the conferences put on the Kerensky government, and instead were fully dedicated to overthrowing it instead.

Recounting the Great October Socialist Revolution

In Late October, the revolution sprung to life. On October 24 and 25th, the Red Guards, under the command of Lenin, seized important institutions in Petrograd, allowing the Bolsheviks to be in control. [17] The following day, October 26, Lenin announced the formation of a new government. By November 5, the Mensheviks and SRs had walked out of the Second All-Russian Congress of the Soviets, Kerensky fled and started a counter-revolutionary rebellion, and the Bolshevik government [18] said it will censor hostile bourgeois newspapers, a declaration of rights for the Soviet people was announced and Moscow was secured by the Bolsheviks. [19]

John Reed meticulously accounts the days of the Great October Socialist Revolution (October Revolution for short). On November 4, he writes that immense meetings were planned across Petrograd as the provisional government seemed hopeless. Three days later, on November 7, the Bolsheviks declared they had overthrown the provisional government as Red Guards fought “Junkers,” former imperial Russian officers, and there was an “atmosphere of recklessness,” with all “great Russia to win–and then the world,” begging the question if others would follow. [20] The following days led to more excitement. On November 8, the whole nation was up in “long hissing swells of storm” with rumors of Kerensky spreading throughout Petrograd, with vitriol from anti-Bolshevik newspapers, some of which was consolidated into the Committee for Salvation in the planned offensive against the Bolsheviks. [21] Still, they held on, as did the left SRs (right SRs were anti-Bolshevik), with Lenin and Leon Trotsky/Trotzky leaving themselves dedicated to the new Bolshevik government while others, like followers of anarchist Peter Kropotkin, refused to support this new government because the revolution had “failed” to arouse the “patriotism of the masses” in their view. [22]

The following days only increased the pressure on the young Bolshevik government. On November 9, the Soviets in Petrograd defended the city, with the Red Guard and sailors fighting to defend the revolution, a government of “united democracy” which did not ally with the bourgeoisie, with the Bolsheviks thinking that the fate of the revolution rested on their shoulders. [23] The following day, the Committee of Salvation, right SRs, and Mensheviks all worked against the Bolsheviks, with the arsenal in Petrograd remaining in the hands of counter revolutionaries, and, as the invasion of Petrograd seemed imminent, the “revolutionary proletariat [was] defending…the capital of the workers’ and peasants’ republic!” [24] The following day, Kerensky entered the city of Tsarskoye Selo, trying to command soldiers to disarm, but they refused to do so and were subsequently killed. [25] Also on that day, the city of Petrograd was clearly under Bolshevik military control with desperate fighting by the Junkers/Yunkers, and the Bolsheviks seized the switchboard room in the city. As John Reed tells it, when the hardened fighters entered the room, “many pretty girls” who had been switchboard operators left and hurled insulted at them even though these fighters did not insult anyone, with the result of their departure meaning that there few volunteers to operate the telephone line switchboard. [26] Still, with the force and dedication to revolution, enough people were found to make sure the telephone lines were operational. Later in the day, the Committee of Salvation was outlawed, and the “telephone girls” who had insulted the Bolsheviks told the committee that they “suffered” at the hands of the proletariat, as they kissed up to established power structures.

Two days later, the revolution was advancing with speed. Petrograd was clearly under Bolshevik control but there was the “question of finances” since banks didn’t want to cooperate with the new Bolshevik government. [27] In the days that followed, it was clear that the Bolsheviks, on whom the landless peasants, “undemoralised soldiers,” sailors, and rank-and-file workers supported, were up against investors, landowners, army officers, students, shopkeepers, and many more, were a powerful force. [28] In Moscow, on November 16, Bolsheviks hung banners declaring the beginning of the revolution, with poor and toiling marching across Red Square. [29] Additionally, the Bolshevik government published a declaration of rights (mentioned earlier), which said that all peoples shall have sovereignty, equality, ability to develop minority and ethnic groups freely, right to self-determination, and abolition of privileges and disabilities for nationalities and religious persuasions. [30] The provisional government was gone but the Bolsheviks were in for a big fight, with restrictions on newspapers that were anti-Bolshevik, fighting to “erect the framework of the new” and against those who tried to win in the coming civil war. [31]

Imperialists try to destabilize a new nation: 1917-1922

The Bolshevik government had acted quickly. Not long after its creation, the Second Congress of Soviets had declared that land would be given back to the peasantry and peace formed on all fronts. Some, such as feminist and political scientist Valerie Bryson, have declared that feminist concerns of Russian women were pushed aside by the revolution (and Bolshevik government), seen as not a “political priority” by Lenin, and praised Trotsky for a “progressive” view on the subject. Beyond this, Bryson also cites Left Oppositionist Alexandra Kollantai’s “failed efforts” and “sexual morality” of communism preventing needed changes in society, including in child rearing, before Kollantai apparently lose “real influence” in Soviet society in 1923, painting Stalin as “bad.” [32] Apart from the obvious bourgeois analysis here, Bryson is clearly wrong on the implication that the October Socialist Revolution was not “feminist.” Sir Arthur Newholme and John Adams Kinsbury wrote in the early 1930s the following about women in Soviet Russia:

“Sex differences were swept away by an early act of the Soviet government; and equality was carried into the marriage relation. Either partner is free to dissolve it [marriage] at his or her own free will or caprice.”

Another place to look for evidence of Bolshevik accomplishment is the constitution of 1918, of the RSFSR, a precursor to the USSR in 1922. This constitution declared that:

  1. “all private property in land is abolished, and the entire land is declared to be national property and is to be apportioned among agriculturists without compensation of the former owners, to the measure of each one’s ability to till it” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  2. “All forests, treasures of the earth, and waters of general public utility, all equipment whether animate or inanimate, model farms and agricultural enterprises, are declared to be national property” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  3. “complete transfer of ownership to the Soviet Republic of all factories, mills, mines, railways, and other means of production and transportation” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  4. “annulment of loans made by the Government of the Czar, by landowners and the bourgeoisie” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  5. “…transfer of all banks to the ownership of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  6. “Universal obligation to work” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  7. “decreed that all workers be armed, and that s Socialist Red Army be organized and the propertied class disarmed” (Article One, Chapter 2)
  8. “abrogating secret treaties, of organizing on a wide scale the fraternization of the workers and peasants of the belligerent armies, and of making all efforts to conclude a general democratic peace” in the first imperialist war (WWI) (Article One, Chapter 3)
  9. Insistence on ending “the barbarous policy of the bourgeois civilization which enables the exploiters of a few chosen nations to enslave hundreds of millions of the working population of Asia, of the colonies, and of small countries generally” (Article One, Chapter 3)
  10. Supports “the full independence of Finland, in withdrawing troops from Persia, and in proclaiming the right of Armenia to self-determination” (Article One, Chapter 3)
  11. “the exploiters should not hold a position in any branch of the Soviet Government” (Article One, Chapter 4)
  12. “…leaving to the workers and peasants of every people to decide the following question at their plenary sessions of their soviets, namely, whether or not they desire to participate, and on what basis, in the Federal government and other Federal soviet institutions” (Article One, Chapter 4)

Article 2 continued in the same vein. This article declared that working people and peasants shall have the power in the country, especially in their Soviets, along with the declarations that:

  1. “For the purpose of securing to the workers real freedom of conscience, the church is to be separated from the state and the school from the church, and the right of religious and anti-religous propaganda is accorded to every citizen.”
  2. “…abolishes all dependence of the Press upon capital, and turns over to the working people and the poorest peasantry all technical and material means for the publication of newspapers, pamphlets, books, etc., and guarantees their free circulation throughout the country.”
  3. “offers to the working class and to the poorest peasantry furnished halls, and [the government] takes care of their heating and lighting appliances.”
  4. “the task of furnishing full and general free education to the workers and the poorest peasantry” is offered by the government
  5. The government “considers work the duty of every citizen of the Republic, and proclaims as its motto: ‘He shall not eat who does not work.'”
  6. The government “recognizes the duty of all citizens of the Republic to come to the defense of their socialist fatherland, and it therefore introduces universal military training. The honor of defending the revolution with arms is accorded only to the workers”
  7. Granting “all political rights of Russian citizens to foreigners who live in the territory of the Russian Republic and are engaged in work and who belong to the working class.”
  8. Offering “shelter to all foreigners who seek refuge from political or religious persecution.”
  9. Recognizing “equal rights of all citizens, irrespective of their racial or national connections, proclaims all privileges on this ground, as well as oppression of national minorities, to be contrary to the fundamental laws of the Republic.”
  10. The government “deprives all individuals and groups of rights which could be utilized by them to the detriment of the socialist revolution.”

I could go on, as the Constitution has Articles 3, 4, 5, and 6, but I think you get the point.

As the revolution’s conclusion was evident, the bourgeois press in England and France bellowed about “cruelties” of the Bolsheviks. [33] So, the propaganda spewed against revolutionary governments of Iran, Syria, and Cuba (to give a few examples) in the present-day, is nothing new. What the propagandists in 1917 and 1918 didn’t realize was that, as deaf-blind socialist and writer Helen Keller wrote

“…the Russian revolution did not originate with Lenin…I see the furrow Lenin left sown with the unshatterable seed of new life for mankind, and cast deep below the rolling tides of storm and lightning, mighty crops for the ages to reap.”

The seizure of power by the proletariat, which had been carefully thought out and planned, was what, Anne Louise Strong, a long supporter of communist movements in Russia and China, called this “common consciousness in action.” Mao Zedong, who later was one of the leaders of China’s communist revolution, recognized the same in 1927, when he wrote that “the October Socialist Revolution ushered in a new epoch in world history…it exerted influence in the other countries of the world.” The Great Soviet Encyclopedia also echoed this, writing that the impact of the “Great October Socialist Revolution,” as they called it, had profound significance, especially by “strengthening the revolutionary movement in the USA.” [34]

While there were many forces aligned against the Bolshevik government, the Russians still defended the social revolution, fighting for the working class, with Russians seeing the revolution as meaning “peace, land to the peasants, and workers’ control of industry.” The Bolshevik government was trying to keep in place its proletarian state as the capitalist apparatus of power instilled by the provisional government, was swept away, following the ideas of Lenin. [35] By this time, the revolution had matured, clearly, from its earlier days. [36] But it was not wholly secure. For one, the socialist revolution in October had pushed to lead the country out of “imperialist war and economic ruin” as Josef Stalin put it. [37] While the path to socialism was cleared for the “middle non-proletarian peasant strata of all nationalities and tribes,” getting Russia out of the imperialist war was harder. [38]

The necessity of ending Russia’s participation in the imperialist war was evident, as it was necessary to preserve “the social revolution in Russia.” [39] The Bolshevik government tried to push for peace. However, after the Germans lost patience with the new government, they advanced at an alarming pace into the country in “Operation Thunderbolt” as they called it. [40] With the signing of the Treaty of Breast-Livotsk, on terms that, arguably, benefited Germany and their empire but removed Russia from the war. Lenin’s words about soldiers deserting from the front, as “voting with their feet” with peace could also be applied to the signing of this treaty. After this peace was evident, the Bolshevik government did not have many traditionally disciplined soldiers, leading to the creation of a Red Army, and recognizing Finland’s independence. [41] What followed was civil war.

The Bolsheviks were under attack from all sides. While they were under siege, they tried to take control of strategic natural resources in central Asia but were originally unsuccessful. [42] Famed British military (and bourgeois) historian, John Keegan, who supported wars in Vietnam, Kosovo (1998), and Iraq (2003), had an interesting and bizarre perspective on the Western intervention in Russia. He first claimed that Trotsky invited British marines to help the Red Army gain armaments and fight anti-Bolshevik forces, that the Bolsheviks held a “common interest” with the Western allies until at least April 1918, that the allied intervention was apparently not originally anti-Bolshevik but became so with Western allies supporting the White Russians, Czech forces, and other anti-Bolsheviks, while the Germans were “neutral” in the civil war. [43]

Like with all propaganda, there is a kernel of truth. In 1918, after the end of the imperialist world war, the British, French, Japanese, and US intervened in Russia. However, to act like they are “innocent” in this intervention is silly. The US State Department admitted this much, saying that “all these operations were to offset effects of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia,” showing that the idea the Allies entered to stop Germany from seizing Russian supplies and assisting Czech troops, who had been part of the Austro-Hungarian empire’s forces, was a convenient excuse to deny imperialist aims. [44] As Stalin put it in a speech commemorating the 24th celebration of the Great October Socialist Revolution, which was on the eve of the Great Patriotic War, often called World War II in the West:

“Recall the year 1918, when we celebrated the first anniversary of the October Revolution. At that time three-quarters of our country was in the hands of foreign interventionists. We had temporarily lost the Ukraine, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Urals, Siberia and the Far East. We had no allies, we had no Red Army–we had only just begun to create it–and we experienced a shortage of bread, a shortage of arms, a shortage of equipment. At that time 14 states [Czechoslovakia, the UK, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, Greece, Poland, the United States, France, Romania, Serbia, Italy, and China] were arrayed against our country but we did not become despondent or downhearted. In the midst of the conflagration of war we organized the Red Army and converted our country into a military camp. The spirit of Lenin inspired us at that time for war against the interventionists, regained all our lost territories and achieved victory.”

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia added to this. They noted that the US and other countries tried to engage in broader intervention and a blockade of Russia even as the Soviets proposed normalization of relations with the US as an option, but this was rejected. [45] While the imperialists may have schemed to use the Kellogg-Briand Pact to isolate the Soviet Union in later years (originally they excluded them but included them after international pressure) and the Paris Peace Conference of 1919-1920 in the same way, the masses of the world didn’t necessarily agree. [46] There was a campaign against US intervention in Russia from those such as John Reed (quoted extensively earlier in this article), socialist leader Eugene Debs, and ordinary folks in Seattle and San Francisco. [47] Ultimately, the Great October Socialist Revolution not only led to the formation of a pro-Bolshevik Communist Party, in the US, in 1919, but it resulted in the end of US involvement in Russia in 1920 due to popular pressure, deportation of radicals to Russia, and the partially failed Palmer raids in 1920. [48] Sadly, in Germany, in 1919, a communist revolution, led by Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebkrecht, among others, was brutally crushed, with both of them killed by state police. [49]

The situation back in Russia is worth noting. During the five year brutal civil war, mainly fought from November 1917 to October 1922, with some resistance hanging on until June 1923, the government adopted an economic program of “War Communism” as it was later called, in order to survive, which was later replaced during the rebuilding period with the New Economic Policy and other policies. At the same time, the officers of the Red Army were in hundreds of schools, with the most important part a political-cultural department which tried to spread communist propaganda among the ranks of the army, which was made up of “ignorant peasants” as John Reed described it. There were also “labor armies” which were helping repair destroyed bridges, once the war was over, with a more established Bolshevik (and later Soviet) order than ever. Such labor armies harkened back to the idea of “industrial armies” in agriculture proposed by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the Communist Manifesto. [50] As for the education in the Red Army, an organization that was like the “special corps” of armed workers envisioned by Marx in his 1850 address to the Communist League, it was similar to the ideas of political education proposed by Lenin on multiple occasions. [51]

Of course, bourgeois scholars like Louise McReynolds have declared that the Bolsheviks saw themselves as intelligentsia (wrong), created a new Soviet culture that nationalized the commercial market (likely true), and co-opted leisure which had been for the bourgeoisie to promote socialist ideals (also likely true). [52] By 1921, the 21 people who were on the Bolshevik’s Central Committee in 1917 has partially gone their separate ways, with some going into the Political Bureau, and others (Lenin, Trotsky (until later), and Stalin) were in a more of a leading role, and some joining the anti-Bolshevik forces. Still, as Helen Keller argued, the Russians were a people who “were trying to work out their form of government.” She also said, in words that some favorable to the Russian government could repeat today, that she loved “Russia and all who stand loyally by her in her mighty wrestlings with…imperialist greed,” while condemning workers in the US for not standing with the new country, and saying that famine in Russia was a result of war and imperialist blockade.

The first Soviet decade: 1923-1933

On December 29, 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was formed. The measures of War Communism were abandoned in place of the New Economic Policy (NEP) which introduced market measures in order to, in theory, rebuild the country from war, an ideas which was proposed (and advocated by) Lenin. This led to a struggle within the Russian Communist Party, which had evolved from the RSDRP’s Bolshevik section established in 1912, or Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) formed in 1918. Ultimately, in order to preserve the USSR as a socialist state, the “Left Opposition” was purged in 1927, as was Trotsky and Nikolai Bukharin. While some may say this is anti-democratic, they must consider that Stalin was following, for one, what he said years earlier: that the Communist Party needs to have “iron discipline,” unity of will, and purge “opportunist elements” so it can effectively serve the proletariat. [53] Other than this, Stalin was also preserving the party as an “organized detachment” of the proletariat, a vanguard of the working class, allowing the party to reorganize along “new, revolutionary lines.” [54] Additionally, there needed to be unity in order to counter the “need of a constantly expanding market” for the bourgeoisie and to make sure the Soviets are the “grave-diggers” of capitalism in Russia and elsewhere, not supporting it with certain measures, like NEP, even if it was partially good. [55] Ultimately, there cannot be a “revolution in permanence,” a precursor to Trotsky’s idea of “permanent revolution” which is discussed later, without a unified party. [56]

Before getting to the other aspects of the first years of the USSR, it is best to acknowledge a number of aspects, including of the NEP period (discussed more in detail later). Anna Louise Strong said that in 1925, at least, every factory, mine, and economic entity was hungry for credit, and industries were supposed to be “self-supporting” after the beginning of NEP. While some may cringe at this, justifiably, there were a number of good strides, even in hard times. For one, there were strong restrictions on alcohol in society, a war against bootleggers, with the focus on drinking not as an individual problem but as a “social injury.” At the same time, there was a major focus on teaching in Russia, just like the political education of Red Army members mentioned in the previous section of this article. As Strong noted, from April to August 1923, the Moscow Government Publishing House printed 160 million copies of textbooks for the new system of education modeled on the “Dewey ideas of education.” This form of education was advanced and a “gorgeous plan,” with education projects assisted by the government even as some teachers were antagonistic to the changes in education due to their ignorance.

While this was going on, there was political strife, which was referenced earlier. Strong, in 1925, in an opinion that seemed to lean toward Trotsky, after Lenin’s death, claimed that Lenin was the “father of the revolution,” Trotsky as “popular” leader, and Stalin as a tactful politician. She continued by claiming that the old Bolsheviks were behind Stalin, who didn’t know many Western languages as Trotskyists, and differ on the debate over socialism in Russia, with Trotsky “broken” by Stalin. She even claimed that “no one would die for Stalin” which is totally absurd. Putting aside the pro-Trotsky viewpoint of Strong, it is important to talk about the debate between Trotsky and Stalin over socialism in Russia. In the Foundations of Leninism, a quote of which is reproduced here, Stalin wrote that socialist revolution which is successful in one country must not be self-sufficient but should aid the the “victory of the proletariat in other countries” so that the victory of socialism is clear. The main debate is this, as highlighted by one WordPress blogger: the idea of “permanent revolution” posed by Trotsky expands on the idea that revolution can occur in a “backward” country rather than an “advanced country” and that revolution cannot succeed if cannot be successful in the rest of the world. As for Stalin’s idea of “socialism in one country,” this recognizes the successful socialist revolution in Russia, but says that socialist construction under NEP, for example, can happen in one country, with socialism ultimately successful worldwide. [57]

Stalin himself, explained what “socialism in one country” meant in December 1925:

“… the possibility of the victory of Socialism in one country…mean[s] the possibility of solving the contradictions between the proletariat and the peasantry with the aid of the internal forces of our country, the possibility of the proletariat assuming power and using that power to build a complete Socialist society in, our country, with the sympathy and the support of the proletarians of other countries, but without the preliminary victory of the proletarian revolution in other countries. Without such a possibility, the building of Socialism is building without prospects, building without being sure that Socialism will be built. It is no use building Socialism without being sure that we can build it, without being sure that the technical backwardness of our country is not an insuperable obstacle to the building of complete Socialist society. To deny such possibility is to display lack of faith in the cause of building Socialism, to abandon Leninism…the impossibility of the complete, final victory of Socialism in one country without the victory of the revolution in other countries…mean[s] the impossibility of having full guarantees against intervention and consequently against the restoration of the bourgeois order, without the victory of the [proletarian] revolution in at least a number of countries. To deny this indisputable thesis is to abandon internationalism, to abandon Leninism…And if our country is discredited the world revolutionary movement will be weakened.”

Christina Kaier, a professor at Northwestern University who specializes in “Russian and Soviet Art,” among other aspects gives the next part of the story. She describes the NEP, a period she says lasted from 1921 to circa 1928, was a “relatively peaceful and semicapitalist period in Soviet history,” which retreated from the War Communism during the Russian Civil War, with “free exchange” legalized and pushed by Lenin, which was seen as the next step to a socialist future, with Soviet state-owned enterprises competing in the NEP market. [58] A major downside of NEP was the creation of the “Nepmen” or NEP bourgeoisie which supported avant-garde artists but also were very greedy, with a noticeable disparity between workers and management, class distinctions reappearing in society, and firms dominated by the profit motive. [59] Despite all these downsides, in a country with a mainly agricultural economy at the time, there were positive elements. The creation of a “communist culture” in the new nation was realized by making constructivist art a political project of the state to counter bourgeois art with useful, utilitarian objects for the “new socialist collective” but also the ideas of an “object as comrade” or “socialist object” to replace commodity pleasures. [60] To promote such utilitarian objects, and tap into “commodity aesthetics and consumer desires” during the NEP, with advertising to promote products, which were seen as “transitional objects” as well, they were displayed at an avant-garde exhibition in Paris in 1924, at a time that Soviet industry was still recovering from wartime. [61] The philosophy of those creating the objects was put forward by Aleksander M. Rodchenko in the spring of 1925:

“The light from the East [the Soviet Union] is not only the liberation of workers, the light from the East is in the new relation to the person, to women, to things, our things in our hands must be equals.”

Examples of this are abound, some of whom were in the October Group of Soviet constructivist artists. Vladimir Tatlin, who shifted to creating utilitarian objects, creating a stove, pot, and other items to help in the home. [62] As for Lubov Popova and Varvara Stepanova (married to Rodchenko), they proposed designs for “everyday, utilitarian things,” specifically a simple “flapper dress” which was “mass-produced and distributed in Soviet economy.” [63] These dresses were austere but unisex and androgynous. [64]

By 1926, the gradual dismantling of NEP was beginning, scrapped by the 1928/1929, when Stalin was in a more powerful position than before. [65] Kaier, apart from her bizarre Freudian claims about Soviet objects, seemed to be writing a fair history (not communist or radical however) except when it came to what happened next and aspects of the Soviet government. In an almost negative tone, she mentioned the “mechanisms of party control over people’s lives,” the “Stalinist socialist realism in the 1930s,” and seemed to be snarky about the hardline approach by the Soviets toward prostitution and “nonparty women.” [66] Hence, while Kaier makes valuable contributions to history of the USSR, she falters by acting like Stalin is “bad” as he came to the scene. Trotskyist Chris Harman, in a similar vein, claims that Stalin gained “real” power in 1923-1924 and “absolute” power in 1928-1929. Without citing the specific page in his book, A People’s History of the World, praised by “popular historian” Howard Zinn, Harman is deluded. Even a quick glance at Stalin’s wikipedia page shows that he was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU from April 3, 1922 to October 18, 1952, over thirty years, but Harman may be referring to his “consolidation” of power in 1928-1929 possibly, who knows.

Kaier and Harman are not the only ones that sneer at Stalin. Louise McReynolds, who was criticized earlier in this article, follows suit, treating the trumpeting of socialist values in mass culture of the USSR by the CPSU as “bad.” [67] These claims are further preposterous when one considers that Stalin pushed for rapid industrialization and and end to the NEP, coupled with collectivization of agriculture when there was a shortfall in grain stores. Of course, a few, such as Nikolai Bukharin and Alexey Rytov opposed these policies but the Politburo rightly sided with Stalin, meaning that Rytov and Bukharin were pushed out for good reason. Lest us forget that under Stalin’s direction (and not only him), the first five-year plan was proposed in the USSR as a centrally-planned economy began to be constructed. Stephen Gowans noted, in his article about publicly-owned and planned economies, that they work despite the bourgeois propaganda that asserts otherwise.

“The Soviet Union was a concrete example of what a publicly owned, planned economy could produce: full employment, guaranteed pensions, paid maternity leave, limits on working hours, free healthcare and education (including higher education), subsidized vacations, inexpensive housing, low-cost childcare, subsidized public transportation, and rough income equality. Most of us want these benefits…when the Soviet economy was publicly owned and planned, from 1928 to 1989, it reliably expanded from year to year, except during the war years. To be clear, while capitalist economies plunged into a major depression and reliably lapsed into recessions every few years, the Soviet economy just as unfailingly did not, expanding unremittingly and always providing jobs for all. Far from being unworkable, the Soviet Union’s publicly owned and planned economy succeeded remarkably well. What was unworkable was capitalism, with its occasional depressions, regular recessions, mass unemployment, and extremes of wealth and poverty…What eventually led to the Soviet Union’s demise was the accumulated toll on the Soviet economy of the West’s efforts to bring it down, the Reagan administration’s intensification of the Cold War, and the Soviet leadership’s inability to find a way out of the predicament these developments occasioned…the Soviet economic system had…worked better than capitalism…Encouraged to believe that the Soviet economic system had failed, many people, including both communist supporters and detractors of the Soviet Union, concluded that a system of public ownership and planning is inherently flawed…the Soviet model of public ownership and planning…never once, except during the extraordinary years of World War II, stumbled into recession, nor failed to provide full employment…The benefits of the Soviet economic system were found in the elimination of the ills of capitalism…Among the most important accomplishments of the Soviet economy was the abolition of unemployment…From the moment in 1928 that the Soviet economy became publicly owned and planned, to the point in 1989 that the economy was pushed in a free market direction, Soviet GDP per capita growth exceeded that of all other countries but Japan, South Korea and Taiwan…the Soviet economy grew rapidly from 1928 to 1989 [but] it never surpassed the economies of North America, Western Europe and Japan…Soviet leaders recognized that a planned, publicly owned economy was an anathema to the captains of industry and titans of finance who use their wealth and connections to dominate policy in capitalist countries…Every year, from 1928 to 1989, except during the war years, the Soviet economy reliably expanded, providing jobs, shelter, and a wide array of low- and no-cost public services to all, while capitalist economies regularly sank into recession and had to continually struggle out of them on the wreckage of human lives.”

Stalin did make mistakes including thinking that the KMT, led by Chiang Kai-Shek was an effective force to defeat the imperialists, an idea discarded after the Shanghai Massacre in 1927 when the KMT murdered 300-400 Chinese Communists. At the same time, Trotsky turning into a virulent critic and Lenin saying Stalin should go hurt the unity of the CPSU, which made Stalin’s job in a governing position of the USSR even harder. Still, the continuation of the anti-religious campaign, which began in 1921, was wholly justified in an attempt to counter the nasty aspects of religious distortions in society which would ruin the attainment of human betterment.

The Soviet Union was at a good place, especially after Stalin took power. By 1932 and 1933, the medical field in the country was well organized and well established. Doctors were state officials who worked 6-6 1/2 hours every day and there were a total of 76,000 physicians, an increase of 50,000 since the Great October Socialist Revolution. There was also free social and medical help, open attendance at child birth regardless of class, free dental work, public medical centers for workers, the idea of unified medical work in the factory and hospital, and vacations ranging from 12 days to one month depending on the age and type of work. Doctors were also in touch with other elements of the medical practice, there was a specific focus on venereal disease, along with integration of medicine within and outside institutions, coupled with more hospital beds and progress in medical provisions. Other than this, the USSR made progress in fighting tuberculosis, venereal disease, especially syphilis, doctors outside the “field of monetary compensation” and near fulfillment of a “good medical service” with improvements needed to make it better since no medical service is perfect. The 1930s report on Soviet medicine concluded by saying that the Soviet government was “the most gigantic experiment in the deliberate public organization of social and political life in the world” with abolition of the “motive of private profit,” and engaged in “socialization of medicine” which in some respects goes beyond Western countries, presenting a challenge to other countries. [68] In times that we despair about the horrid condition of abortion rights in America, we should remember that abortion in the USSR was legally allowed under a number of parameters, which are reprinted below, showing that there were feminist policies in place:

“In most countries the purposeful production of abortion except for medical reasons is regarded as murder. The Soviet Government in 1920 repealed the existing laws against abortion and legalized it under certain specific conditions. This law contained the provisions summarized below, which are more fully stated in Mrs. Field’s Protection of Women and Children in Soviet Russia.

1. Abortion must be undertaken only by a licensed surgeon. Midwives are prohibited from performing abortions.

2. It must, as a rule, be the result of a surgical operation, and not of drugs.

3. The patient must afterwards remain in bed in the hospital or place of operation for three full days.

4. She must not be allowed to go to work for two weeks after the operation.

5. For a first pregnancy an abortion must not be performed unless childbirth would seriously endanger the mother’s life.’

6. Abortion is forbidden if the pregnancy has lasted for more than two and a half months.

7. A doctor cannot refuse an application for abortion, except as stated under 5 and 6. He may, however, discourage it in any way he thinks fit.

8. It is recommended that all abortions be performed in those State hospitals which have a division for this purpose. An insured woman or the wife of an insured man can claim abortion free of charge in a State hospital. For others a small charge may be made.

9. A private doctor or anyone else producing an abortion which results in death can be tried for manslaughter. Women cannot be punished for performing on themselves.

10. The doctor is recommended to discourage a woman from abortion if there are no social, economic, or medical reasons for it, and particularly if she has fewer than three children, or has adequate means for supporting another child.

It is stated that few abortions are asked for by women desiring to conceal illicit relations…No difficulty has arisen because of the unwillingness of women to come to hospitals for this purpose. No distinction is drawn between married and unmarried women.”

With the available resources, there isn’t much else I can say about this time period. I can say that on November 16, 1933, the US finally established diplomatic relations with the USSR as noted in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. [69]

Conclusion

Looking through the sources I gathered for this article, I realize now that I missed a number of aspects: I could have looked more at Stalin’s writings, spanning 1901-1952, a book about the early times of a Bolshevik (1894-1914), and histories of of the USSR, among many other aspects. [70] There are a number of bourgeois and academic sources I found, but alas, I did not go through those either. [71] This article could undoubtedly be better, but I am only a learner on this subject. I found some sources on r/communism in some quick searching today, but I likely missed something. So, comrades who are reading this, if you can help by providing any sources about Soviet history from 1933 onward, that would be great since there will be future articles in this series.

Notes

[1] Adam Taylor, “Soviet leader, Gorbachev says a new union could rise again,” Washington Post, December 13, 2016; Damien Sharkov, “Mikhail Gorbachev on the Soviet Union collapse, Democracy in Russia and Putin’s popularity,” Newsweek, December 13, 2016; Paul Goble, “If the Russians Come Back Again, They Won’t Be Constrained By Communism,” Estonian World Review, December 14, 2016.

[2] Louise McReynolds, Russia at Play: Leisure Activities at the End of the Tsarist Era (London: Cornell University Press, 2003), 4-6, 14, 29, 54.

[3] V.I. Lenin, “The revolution in 1905: The beginning of the revolution in 1905” (January 25, 1905), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 500-507,

[4] Ibid, 508-509; V.I. Lenin, “The State and Revolution” (1918), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 588-591.

[5] V.I. Lenin, “Lecture on the 1905 revolution” (1917),  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 510-513, 518-519, 524.

[6] Ibid, 529.

[7] McReynolds, 9, 136.

[8] See Morgan Phillip Price’s four penny pamphlet titled “Capitalist Europe and Socialist Russia,” published in 1918.

[9] John Keegan, An Illustrated History of the First World War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), 300-301.

[10] Ibid, 301, 306.

[11] Ibid, 306-308.

[11*] “A Soviet View of the American Past: An Annotated Translation of The Section on American History in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” The Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 43, No. 1, Autumn 1959, p. 33

[12] See Morgan Phillip Price’s four penny pamphlet titled “Capitalist Europe and Socialist Russia,” published in 1918.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Keegan, 308.

[15] Ibid, 309, 311, 316.

[16] See Chapter 2  (“The Coming Storm“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World.

[17] Keegan, 316.

[18] The term “Bolshevik government” is used here to refer to the rule from 1917-1922. The government that was created after 1922, is called the “Soviet government.” Some say that the “Soviet government” began in 1917, but to say this is confusing since the Soviet Union was not officially created until 1922.

[19] By the end of the year, the Bolshevik government said that citizens could recall politicians from office, salaries of high-paid officials were limited, peace talks with the Axis powers began, leaders of the Cadet Party (anti-Bolshevik) are ordered arrested, an eight-hour day is introduced for railway workers, and public education is no longer monopolized by the Russian Orthodox Church. Beyond this, the Council of People’s Commissars says that Ukraine has a right to succeed, the nationalization of banks is announced, and the independence of Finland is accepted.

[20] See chapter IV (“The Fall of the Provisional Government“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[21] See Chapter V (“Plunging Ahead“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[22] See Chapter VI (“The Committee of Salvation“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[23] See Chapter VII (“The Revolutionary Front“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[24] Ibid.

[25] See Chapter VIII (“Counter-Revolution“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[26] Ibid.

[27] See Chapter IX (“Victory“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[28] See Chapter X (“Moscow“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[29] Ibid.

[30] See Chapter XI (“The Conquest of Power“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[31] Ibid; see Chapter XII (“The Peasants’ Congress“) of John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook The World.

[32] Valerie Bryson, Feminist Political Theory: An Introduction (New York: Palgrave MacMillian, 2003, Second Edition), 114-125.

[33] See Morgan Phillip Price’s four penny pamphlet titled “Capitalist Europe and Socialist Russia,” published in 1918.

[34] “A Soviet View of the American Past,” p. 34

[35] V.I. Lenin, “The State and Revolution” (1918), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 569-570, 572, 582-583.

[36] V.I. Lenin, “Marxism and Uprising” (Sept. 1917), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 606-607; V.I. Lenin, “The crisis has matured” (October 12, 1917), The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), p. 612-613.

[37] Josef Stalin, “The October Revolution and the National Question” (1918),  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 620-621.

[38] Josef Stalin, “The October Revolution and the Question of the Middle Strata,” The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 632.

[39] See Morgan Phillip Price’s four penny pamphlet titled “Capitalist Europe and Socialist Russia,” published in 1918.

[40] Keegan, 317, 354, 356, 359.

[41] Ibid, 318, 355.

[42] Ibid, 356, 359-360

[43] Ibid, 360-361, 363-364.

[44] Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (New York: HarperPerennial, Fifth Edition, 2003), 409; Chronicle of America, “U.S. severs ties with Bolsheviks” (Mount Kisco, NY: Chronicle Publications, 1988), 605.

[45] “A Soviet View of the American Past,” 34, 36

[46] “A Soviet View of the American Past,” 34, 37

[47] Zinn, 373, 380, 400, 409; Chronicle of America, “Pacifist Debs gets 10 years in prison,” p. 606.

[48] Chronicle of America, “Left-wing socialists establish own party,” p. 611; Chronicle of America, “US withdraws troops from Soviet Russia,” p. 610; Chronicle of America, US in crusading mood, deports 249 radicals to Soviet Russia,” p. 611; Chronicle of America, “Palmer raids net thousands of leftists,” p. 612; “A Soviet View of the American Past,” p. 35

[49] Keegan, 392, 403.

[50] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Communist Manifesto,” The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 46

[51] Marx and Engels, 67; V.I. Lenin, “What Is to Be Done?,”  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 483; V.I. Lenin, “Lecture on the 1905 Revolution” (1917),  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 516.

[52] McReynolds, 12-13, 33, 292.

[53] Josef Stalin, “Foundations of Leninism” (1924),  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 647-651.

[54] Ibid, 637-638, 640-641.

[55] Marx and Engels, 26, 36

[56] Marx, “Address to the Communist League” (1850),  The Marxist Reader: The Most Significant and Enduring Works of Marxism (Illustrated, New York: Avenel Books, 1982), 71

[57] This blogger claims that speeding up “socialist construction” in the USSR ultimately led to the USSR’s demise, which is silly since the USSR was in existence from 1922 until 1911, so this person doesn’t know what they are talking about. At the same time, they claim that “the possibility of eventual failure of socialism was built into Stalin’s theory” which just isn’t true. Still, they make a possibly valid point that Stalin’s theory’s includes ideas from Trotsky.

[58] Christina Kaier, Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005), 2, 18-19, 38, 165.

[59] Ibid, 19-20, 23, 25, 29, 81, 173, 264-265.

[60] Ibid, 1, 4-5, 8, 10, 27, 140.

[61] Ibid, 17, 47, 49, 183, 200-201, 206, 212.

[62] Ibid, 43, 52, 71-73, 82-83.

[63] Ibid, 89, 92, 100-101.

[64] Ibid, 113-114, 117, 124.

[65] Ibid, 244.

[66] Ibid, 27, 58-59, 61, 259.

[67] McReynolds, 293.

[68] It turns out that these authors are at least partially Trotskyists. Still, they offer good analysis when it comes to medicine. Other chapters I didn’t include talk about the USSR’s government, industrial and agricultural conditions, religious and civil liberty, women in Soviet Russia (cited earlier in this article), care of children, maternity,

[69] “A Soviet View of the American Past,” p. 46

[70] Other aspects worth mentioning are Alexandra Kollontai talking about the years of revolution, a first-hand account of the October Socialist Revolution by Louise Bryant, a book with biographies of certain personalities in the revolution, Anne Louise Strong’s book about John Reed’s colony on the Volga, a page about party Congresses, a page about Soviet foreign policy, a page about Kronstadt, a page chronicling Lenin’s writings, a page chronicling Luxembourg’s writings, a page about the Soviet government, a page chronicling John Reed’s writings, and a page chronicling Soviet history.

[71] See “The History of Both the February and October Russian Revolutions” on About.com, “War and Revolution in Russia 1914-1921” by Dr. Jonathan Snee on BBCNews, “Causes of the Russian Revolution” on About.com, “Russian Revolution, October, 1917” on Spartacus International, Owen Hatherley, “The constructivists and the Russian revolution in art and architecture” on The Guardian, and Leon Aron, “Even Vladimir Putin Cannot Kill the Russian Revolution” in Foreign Policy. Academic sources include “The Deepening of the Russian Revolution: 1917” on a MIT website, the Internet Sourcebook documents on the Russian Revolution, and a book about the Russian revolution hosted in part by the Library of Congress.