Tag Archives: nationalism

Debate on Palestinian Liberation and Israeli Class Struggle

A while back a comrade of ours posted a serious response to a controversial (or at least controversially-titled) piece we put out last year: Power to the Jews and Therefore to the Class.  We’re just catching on to it (trippin!) and appreciate the thoughtful engagement.  Here’s a sample of the more combative section:

There are genuine problems with the AS post and the following comments (presumably by AS members or supporters) which are largely contained in the lack of a historical perspective that prevents them from seeing the specificity of Zionism and the centrality of Palestine in its overthrow.  Insofar as this historicity is concerned, I tend to agree with the ISO save for their “one state solution” prescription which I would counter with not a state but a “single democratic polity.”  This is of secondary importance here.

Check out the rest of their blog post :slash: slogan, “MAKE THE GENERAL STRIKE IN ISRAEL AN INTIFADA!”  We’ll be engaging the post over there, so if you’re interested link on.

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Notes Towards a Critique of Maoism by Loren Goldner

The below piece was originally posted in the hot-off-the-presses latest edition of Insurgent Notes, an excellent Communist journal published by some of our comrades.

In this moment the US revolutionary left is attempting to rebuild from being murdered, exiled and corrupted into practical nonexistence.  As part of this process, we have to take a hard and utterly nondogmatic look at the history of various revolutionary traditions…..unfortunately this is not very common.  What is more common, and infinitely more boring and useless, is a gutter-level political culture that includes one-sentence name-calling summaries of traditions and idealized versions of ones’ own, leading to brain-dead strategic thought often based in knee-jerk rejection.

BUT

We are also not going to win by implementing broad left unity, or by rejecting theory and strategic thought as “academic” or “overintellectualized“.  This could only work if our ideas for approaching the world, and the strategies we make with them, don’t matter for whether our struggles win (if only for a few years) or are drowned in blood.  I’ve yet to hear someone directly defend this thesis, but by all means the comment thread is open for you if you’re interested!

What nondogmatic means in this case is MORE intellectual, in the sense of a deeper look into the reality of complex historical events, figures, strategies and tactics.  It also means “No Cheap Shots“, i.e. we’re trying to learn about the applicability of certain ideas to reality, and the consequences of their use, rather than GET someone in some kind of boxing-like debate.

The following piece is an example of the kind of sharp debate that we need, and the readable historical summations of different tendencies we’ll need to develop and debate in order to understand our history and its impact on today.

The Fish

Introduction by an Advance the Struggle Comrade:

A Marxist critique of Maoism

Were living in a historical moment where anarchism, Trotskyism and Maoism have not proved to be powerful revolutionary systems nor totally obsolete. They hang on to the left. Become reproduced in a variety of ways. Maoism in particularly is an important movement. It claims to be the most serious Marxist movement that is grounded in a non European setting. Such a dynamic makes Maoism an attractive force for young militants of color who align themselves with third world struggles. The Black Panthers were highly influenced by Maoism and Fanon. Movies often depict Panthers selling the Mao’s little red book. The key inspiration for the Panthers, Malcolm X, also was influenced by Maoism. In his Message to the Grassroots, 10th Nov, 1963: Malcolm states: 
“…The Chinese Revolution — they wanted land. They threw
the British out, along with the Uncle Tom Chinese. Yeah,
they did. They set a good example. When I was in prison, I
read an article — don’t be shocked when I say I was in
prison. You’re still in prison. That’s what America means:
prison. When I was in prison, I read an article in Life
magazine showing a little Chinese girl, nine years old; her
father was on his hands and knees and she was pulling the
trigger ’cause he was an Uncle Tom Chinaman, When they had
the revolution over there, they took a whole generation of
Uncle Toms — just wiped them out. And within ten years
that little girl become [sic] a full-grown woman. No more
Toms in China. And today it’s one of the toughest,
roughest, most feared countries on this earth — by the
white man. ‘Cause there are no Uncle Toms over there.”…

As 1500 strikes take place in China everyday, and China being a center of global capitalist accumulation within the world system, many in the Chinese left will try to redevelop Maoism. We need a clear analysis of the political character of Maoism from a marxist perspective. One that can trace its historical development from 1911 to the present. With that said, we welcome Loren Goldner’s essay, a Marxist critique of Maoism.

***

Note to the Reader: The following was written at the request of a west coast comrade after he attended the August 2012 “Everything for Everyone” conference in Seattle, at which many members of the “soft Maoist” Kasama current were present. It is a bare-bones history of Maoism which does not bring to bear a full “left communist” viewpoint, leaving out for the example the sharp debates on possible alliances with the “nationalist bourgeoisie” in the colonial and semi-colonial world at the first three congresses of the Communist International. It was written primarily to provide a critical-historical background on Maoism for a young generation of militants who might be just discovering it. —LG.

Maoism was part of a broader movement in the twentieth century of what might be called “bourgeois revolutions with red flags,” as in Vietnam or North Korea.

To understand this, it is important to see that Maoism was one important result of the defeat of the world revolutionary wave in 30 countries (including China itself) which occurred in the years after World War I. The major defeat was in Germany (1918–1921), followed by the defeat of the Russian Revolution (1921 and thereafter), culminating in Stalinism.

Maoism is a variant of Stalinism.[1] Continue reading

The Day April 29, 1992 Took Over; the LA Riots and The Music to Come Out of Them

20 years ago today, there was a nation-wide rebellion against the police and private ownership of property. The incident that sparked this rebellion was the innocent verdict given to the Los Angeles Police Department pigs who beat Rodney King nearly to death while being videotaped by the relatively new technology of handheld videotape recorders.

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Riots which began on April 29, we want to note some of the great music that came out of this rebellion.  It has been said that if one is to learn about a peoples, one should look at their poetry and their songs.  Advance the Struggle finds this true and believes that culture and art are going to be fundamental to a proletarian led Socialist revolution in the US. If we look around today (2012) and see the relentless police terror on Black and Brown people, coupled with the capitalist economic depression which is far worse than that of 1992, and we see all the positive organized resistance to it, we might start to believe that we are on the cusp of a pre-revolutionary situation. Looking back to ’92, things felt more like they were on the verge of a civil war – and one of the best ways to get a feel for that is through the powerful music that the riots produced.

More after the jump:

Continue reading

Recommended: Insurgent Notes Vol.4 – Focus on the Middle East

We welcome the 4h issue of Insurgent Notes – Journal of Communist Theory and Practice, offering  a series of  much needed Marxist analysis of the most important upheaval of our time – that of North Africa.

Today millions of working class people in places like Wisconsin, Spain, and most of all, North Africa are rebelling in the only ways that they know how to against an array of conditions that they are not fully equipped to overcome. We do not know how to smash through the limits presented by history, and reorganize society on a different tip.

The missing element is a theoretical system that can generate a coherent strategy, and apply it through a concrete form. We have the objective conditions of crisis. In a growing number of places, we have spontaneous participation in mass activity. But the crucial ingredient has yet to present itself – an international organization with roots deep in the proletariat and networks throughout it, putting forth a programmatic vision for total revolution that accumulates the lessons of all the existing struggles and processes those lessons back through its networks to reproduce a revolution world-wide. In other words, history has produced a revolutionary set of conditions, but we have yet to produce a revolutionary party on the basis of horizontal centralism. Weaving together that kind of consciousness through that kind of organization is the central purpose of Marxism and was the basis of Marx’s own practical work. To produce this party in this moment… this is a global task for all revolutionaries to face, now more than ever.

Featured in Vol. 4 of Insurgent Notes, is a very creative and comprehensive look at the Arab revolts that synthesizes political economic, linguistic, and historical analyes to treat the regional upheaval. Here’s the Introductory section to the article, The Arab Revolts and the Cage of Political Economy, by Benoit Challand:

The wave of Arab revolts is the biggest political earthquake that shook this planet in quite a while. Sporadic massive protests did take place in the last decade (in Seattle or Genoa for G8 protests, in Greece revolts because of the economic crisis), but none took the regional and truly transnational scope of the Arab revolts of the last six months. Their aftermaths are still being felt far from its original epicenter, Madrid being the latest emulation of the type of spontaneous popular occupation initiated by Tunisians and refined by Egyptians in Tahrir Square (Madison was another one). As this is written, future spillovers of that wave might even be felt elsewhere in Europe (Georgia at the end of May), or more certainly in Sub-Saharan Africa (Uganda in particular), forcing us to reconsider the novelty and potential of these popular protests.

Yet, one should not be all too enthusiastic about these revolts. Even if they herald a new era where people have powerfully asserted their inalienable right to protest (and we hope they will continue doing so), the powerful cage of political economy has remained intact even after six intense months of protest. The intent of the imperial US power in the region, along with its allies Israel and the European Union (EU), remains unchanged.

We will review some of the reasons that sparked these revolts (§2), list some of the novelties of the revolts in comparative perspectives: what they are and what they are not (§3), and then proceed with an analysis of the possibility for radical political formations to emerge as full actors or not in the coming years (§4), before reaching a conclusion.

 All revolutionaries must set aside time to study the North African rebellions and help other militants to do the same, in order to arm ourselves for the next cycle of struggle that will inevitably emerge right here, wherever you are. Whether or not the struggle advances to the level of Tunisia, Greece, or even Britain – let alone go beyond it – is up to you.

Let’s recall the limits of our ability to change history in the last major period of global upheaval that lasted from WWII through the early 70s, which was hemmed by theoretical models that fell short of the historical moment.  Truncated Marxist concepts for revolution that didn’t quite strike at the destruction of commodity production and value may have recruited a few thousand militants to revolutionary organizations in the US, but they located the crisis external from the economic contradiction and privileged the political aspects of imperialism only. Even when they succeeded in smashing bourgeois political rule , they could not succeed in ushering in a socialist society, dictated by proletarian consciousness, leading toward the abolition of classes. What will prevent the movements of today from meeting a similar end?

Conversely, ultra-lefts have churned out theoretical gems, but met zero success at integrating themselves into mass movements and seldom even consider the construction of parties and organizations of the working class to be viable projects. Theory is sterile, removed from spots of great ferment. What will it take to make militants out of such intellectuals?

A new generation of radicals have discovered the categories of Marx’s Capital but we still have an underdeveloped method to apply it in struggle. The interlocking nature of capitalist value in crisis, will create more rebellions around the world and more lessons for us to learn from. Transnational institutions like the International Monetary Fund, global corporations and banks, and blocs of states along with the normal circuits of accumulation which know no borders, and the internationalization of the proletariat through unprecedentedly massive migration, are all factors that weave us into one big revolutionary process.

The world of 2011 is much different from that of the WWII-1970s era. In the article, Anti-Imperialism and the Iranian Revolution, by Arya Zahedi, featured in Insurgent Notes Vol.4., this point is made very clear. The author discusses the demise of anti-imperialist ideology in terms of its supersession by the material conditions faced by an advanced working class that is confronting the same conditions faced by the proletariat of most of the countries  -First World and Third World alike – currently in revolt:

“We are faced, much like here in the US, with a young, highly skilled, technically advanced workforce. But when this force leaves the university and enters the ranks of the proletariat, there is no prospect waiting. There are more workers than positions. This is true not just of the “white collar” sector, but also for industrial workers, but for different reasons. Regardless, a precarious position awaits much of the population. The situation affecting a nineteen year old in Tehran is quite similar in many ways to that of her contemporary in Athens, Cairo or Paris. And we see the explosions taking place. The alienation, so commonplace, is not one that can be quelled by the emotional rhetoric of national independence.”

Insurgent Notes Vol. 4  is full of quality analysis like this, offering lessons for us to digest as we posit more and more programmatic documents to other revolutionaries for debate and the working class for consideration.

One of the lessons we may draw from previous cycles of upheaval within the US and abroad, is that nationalism ultimately produces divisive and oppressive regimes based on class collaboration. True liberation lies in internationalist proletarian unity. Capital’s own evolution into a more and more singular process on a global terrain has produced the material basis for a potentially unprecedentedly unified revolutionary program. We are fortunate today to be able to look to the actions of our sisters and brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Greece, Spain, and Britain to California, Washington, Texas, Georgia, New York, and the whole USA.

One thing is certain – rebellions do not naturally turn into successful revolutions. Only through a revolutionary programmatic focus that combines the seriousness of Marxist categories with the lessons of real revolutionary struggles that millions of working class militants around the world can agree on will be able to build an international force with the potential to smash capital and the bourgeois state.

    Thank you Insurgent Notes for helping us all advance that struggle.

http://insurgentnotes.com/

Fred Hampton: Marxist or Nationalist?

 

revolutionary proletarian internationalist

revolutionary proletarian internationalist

Big L

Writes:

How can racial oppression and white supremacy be defeated?  Is it through a nationalist struggle against a colonial enemy?  Are these paradigms of struggle accurate and strategic enough in 2009?  As far back as 1969 Fred Hampton saw the struggle against racism as being rooted within the struggle against capitalism:

“We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you do’nt fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don’t fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.”

Usually the Black Panther Party is described as a “Revolutionary Nationalist” organization, but militants like Fred Hampton demonstrate clearly that some of the most important Panthers had more of a multiracial marxist consciousness. 

Fred Hampton summed his politics up clearly:

“We ain’t gonna fight no reactionary pigs who run up and down the street being reactionary; we’re gonna organize and dedicate ourselves to revolutionary political power and teach ourselves the specific needs of resisting the power structure, arm ourselves, and we’re gonna fight reactionary pigs with INTERNATIONAL PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION. That’s what it has to be. The people have to have the power: it belongs to the people.

We have to understand very clearly that there’s a man in our community called a capitalist. Sometimes he’s black and sometimes he’s white. But that man has to be driven out of our community, because anybody who comes into the community to make profit off the people by exploiting them can be defined as a capitalist. And we don’t care how many programs they have, how long a dashiki they have. Because political power does not flow from the sleeve of a dashiki; political power flows from the barrel of a gun. It flows from the barrel of a gun!

These politics represent a movement beyond simply  nationalism into a complicated, race-conscious proletarian internationalism.  Hampton’s words inspired militancy and advanced struggles in 1969, and are still refreshing today. 

An important task of marxists today is making a fresh analysis of racial/national oppression which avoids mechanically applying Lenin’s “Self-Determination” theses, while also avoiding simplistic and equally mechanical “class is more important than race” logic. 

For an important contribution towards this analysis, refer to the work of Adolph Reed Jr. found here on the A/S blog

Read Fred Hampton’s speech “Power Anywhere Where There’s People” in full: http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/fhamptonspeech.html

No Capitalist Allies. No Nationalism?

Focusing on the African continent and the parts of the world where a lot of people of African descent live, this article challenges the notion that the fight for national ‘self-determination’ is a more valid political agenda than the fight for international proletarian self-determination. The author blames much of the confusion about the value of nationalism as a revolutionary movement, on VI Lenin:

“The silencing of the working class and the decade-old replacement of informed socialist discourse with the half-wit sound bites of liberalism in the world-sociopolitical debate is a natural consequence of generations of adherence to the [Leninist] “political line” which preached the gospel of “United Democratic Fronts” against “Imperialism.” This doctrine, as we have seen in practice, is capitalist ideology in essence, all nationalist struggles being ultimately directed at fortifying the capitalist order of society. It has yielded the most repressive and corrupt regimes in Angola, The Congo, Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Somalia – – the list goes on ad infinitum.”

To counter this historical trend of nationalism (necessarily) gone wrong, the author urges:

“Working people have a duty to reassert the primacy of the working class struggle over all others. The working class has no allies among the capitalist of any country irrespective of what their race, or, religion might be. The battle lines may not be clearly demarcated in this era of sound bites and systematic dis-information about “national security,” “democratic values,” and “war on terrorism” but there is no question that the real struggle is between capital and labor. Whatever the diversionary route taken society shall finally come face to face with this reality. That is the bottom line. It is time to return to basics.”

http://laborpartypraxis.org/abcofclassstruggle.html