Ukraine 2014: Frontline of the people’s struggle

(By J. Arnoldski, Toilers’ Struggle) 

Even such a titanic and tireless revolutionary as Lenin admitted amidst the ongoing Revolution of 1905 that “In a revolutionary period it is very difficult to keep abreast of events, which provide an astonishing amount of new material for an evaluation.”1 Needless to say, in such times as now when information and news circulate at seemingly the speed of light, it remains a demanding task for communists to carry out their duty of digesting, analyzing, and acting upon the astonishing amount of evernew material for evaluation provided by turbulent, revolutionary conflagrations.

The foremost commotion which has captivated and confounded communists the world over in recent months has been the “crisis,” as it has been so mildly called, which has gripped Ukraine since November, 2013. The original Maidan protests of November, the ensuing coup in February, and the resultant, ongoing civil war and disintegration of the country have kept observers on the edges of their seats in anxious anticipation as to each new development in what has been one of the most significant and defining struggles of the early 21st century.

In the heat of organizing protests against Western aggression in Ukraine and holding educationals on the nature of the new Ukrainian government and its relationship to Western imperialism, a distinct absence of genuine analytical summation has plagued communists’ work. While communists have worked out amongst themselves the basic slogans and theses rendered necessary by each new development, as far as is known to the present author, there is yet no work in circulation which has endeavored to provide a working, yet comprehensive – to the limited extent such is possible as events progress – dialectical and historical-materialist analysis of the profound changes in Ukraine, which Marx provided so paradigmatically and crucially for the events in France in 1851 in his The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

The following is presented as a sort of Eighteenth Brumaire for Ukraine, a history and analysis, for communists to use to inform their theory and practice. As the Ukrainian Civil War continues and the world imperialist powers escalate their aggression against Russia, and as new, more profound and world-significant questions of Marxist analysis are brought before communists by implication of the events in Ukraine, such an established chronicle and analysis will only become more relevant, necessary, and crucial.

Background to (counter) revolution

The counter-revolution which gripped Ukraine in early 2014 did not fall from nowhere out of the sky. Rather, it was the result of the arrangement and trajectory of class forces within the given material conditions of contemporary Ukraine. Reviewing and highlighting such conditions is indispensable to providing a coherent understanding and analysis of the events which, in a streak of rapid procession and ferocious tempestuousness characteristic of revolutionary times, shook the whole of Ukraine and brought the country to its present state of civil war. Continue reading

The New Coup Plans of the Venezuelan Bourgeoisie

(Statement issued by the Marxist Tendency in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela)

Using the slogan of “Unity on the Streets” the right wing in Venezuela has launched a new “guarimba” (1) against the Bolivarian revolution.

Despite the fact that the Bolivarian government has issued calls to try and arrive at some way of working together with the political representatives of the opposition with the aim of resolving the different problems facing the country, the most extreme sections of this rancid opposition have prepared a new offensive to destabilise the country.

Conciliation is not possible.

After the elections of the 8th of December last year President Maduro had a meeting with the main sections of the national bourgeoisie where he made a number of concessions such as offering credit, dollars from the state and other opportunities. As was to be expected, a few weeks later these same people replied with an even greater level of hoarding goods thereby ramping up the economic war. In a similar manner, while the government was meeting with the Venezuelan opposition to try and work together to resolve issues such as insecurity, violence on the streets, education, health, and so on, the clear response of the right wing has been to issue a call to the most radicalised sections of the opposition who have been affected by government measures to mobilise, take to the streets and overthrow the government.

None of this should surprise us. The lessons are clear and they should have been learnt some time ago as we, the Marxists, have warned about time and time again. Any attempt to try to conciliate with the bourgeoisie and its political representatives in Venezuela, all grouped together in the parties of the MUD (2), will not succeed. The national bourgeoisie is incapable of playing any progressive role and has been irreconcilably opposed to the Bolivarian revolution since its beginnings. The revolution has meant the awakening of the working masses and a profound change in organisation and revolutionary consciousness that threatens the class domination of the bourgeoisie. For that reason alone there is no possible way of arriving at any form of conciliation with the bourgeoisie. Given this situation, the “national” bourgeoisie have thrown themselves into the arms of their masters in Washington to whom they are tied by a thousand economic, political and personal threads.

This is a Class Struggle

As we have said many times, we cannot count on the bourgeoisie to develop the country, not even to carry out basic progressive reforms in the areas of education, health, housing, and so on. They failed to carry out these reforms when they had their own servile governments that they were allied to and which governed in their interests, so they will be even less inclined to carry out these reforms when they have a government that is taking measures for the benefit of the working class.  Continue reading

Nations Want Liberation: The Black Belt Nation in the 21st Century

(By Return to the Source)

Thousands rally for Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL.

In the past year, the United States has experienced an upsurge in black political consciousness as hundreds of thousands of organizations and people poured into the streets to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, the 17 year-old African-American youth brutally murdered in Sanford, FL. Martin’s case has drawn enormous attention to the daily terrorism inflicted on African-Americans by both the US government and vigilante terrorists, like George Zimmerman, who uphold and enforce a vicious system of white supremacy.

As the movement against police brutality and racist oppression continues to grow, Marxist-Leninists must grapple with the burning question of how to build a revolutionary national liberation struggle capable of ending white supremacy and imperialism in the United States.

Seeking to capitalize on the growing struggle against racism, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has republished a series of articles from the 1980s reflecting their understanding of “The History of Black America” in its newspaper, Socialist Worker. Complete with all of the errors endemic to their bizarre Trotskyite understanding of revolutionary history, these articles are a flaccid attempt for a mostly white organization – an organization that expelled several activists of color from its Washington DC branch in 2010, no less – to make itself relevant to the struggle of African-Americans against white supremacy.

However, one article in particular, republished on Saturday, June 16, stands above the rest in its historical revisionism, its fallacious analysis, and its generally poor syntactical construction. Lee Sustar’s piece, “Self-determination and the Black Belt” is a hit piece on the Marxist-Leninist demand for African-American self-determination, the entire concept of the Black Belt nation, and black nationalism in general.

Rife with historical errors, strawman characterizations, and misspellings, Sustar’s piece itself is barely worth a response. Never missing an opportunity to denounce and slander Josef Stalin, Sustar makes the totally absurd claim that “The Black Belt theory was part of a sharp “left” turn by the Communist International (Comintern) used by Joseph Stalin to mask his bureaucracy’s attack on the workers’ state,” arguing that somehow upholding the demand for African-American self-determination allowed Josef Stalin to better consolidate his so-called “state capitalist regime in Russia.” (1) The relationship between the struggle for black nationalism and the USSR is never explained or warranted by Sustar.

Neither is his claim that the demand for black self-determination was based “on the works of a Swedish professor who aimed to theoretically justify the political turns of the bureaucracy which was coming to control Russia.” (2) Sustar never names this Swedish professor, supposedly the progenitor of the demand for black self-determination, nor does he offer any evidence that such a professor had any impact on the development of the black national question adopted and implemented by the Communist International (Comintern). But a lack of evidence never stands in the way of the ISO’s vicious slander of Marxism-Leninism so the omission of key facts is both unsurprising and expected.

However, the continued relevance and renewed importance of the black national question in the 21st century demands serious consideration by Marxist-Leninists. It is important to respond to these unprincipled criticisms and slander of the experiences of black nationalist organizations and the CPUSA. The ISO may have published this piece nearly 30 years ago, but the same theoretical bankruptcy demonstrated in this re-published essay continues to inform their strange blend of Cliffite-Trotskyism today.

Instead, Marxist-Leninists must put forward a principled and materialist evaluation of the successes and failures of these various groups struggling for black liberation that appropriately contextualizes their specific struggles. Continue reading

Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party: Looking Back at Tiananmen Square

(By Mick Kelly, Freedom Road Socialist Organization)

PDF copy available here

We are publishing the paper, Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party written 20 years ago during the 1989 turmoil in China. Authored by Mick Kelly, a leading member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, this paper was produced in the context of a major two-line debate in our organization on socialism and China.

We are publishing it now, because with the 20th anniversary of the events at Tiananmen Square upon us, there are already attempts underway to attack socialism, the Chinese revolution, and those that defend it. We do not see this paper as a definitive statement of our organization on the many political movements and great debates that occurred in China since 1949. Rather we think the paper stands as a rigorous effort to use Marxism to understand the near defeat of the Chinese revolution that took place some 20 years ago.

In Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party, Mick Kelly does a good job of explaining the origins, development, and reactionary reality of the Chinese student movement, as well as its relationship to Chinese society and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the 1980s. The paper supports Marxism-Leninism and the Chinese revolution while investigating and evaluating the problems faced and errors made by the CCP. The paper is provocative reading for Marxists because it challenges both social-democratic and ultra-left views regarding socialism and continuing the class struggle within socialist countries.

The author defends the leading party’s attempts to develop a modern socialist society, the need to combat revisionism within the party and society, and to beat back counter-revolution and the restoration of capitalism. On the down side the paper was overly hopeful about the outcome of the struggle against revisionism and capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe, and underestimated the growth of the capitalist sector of the Chinese economy in the years to come.

Many issues raised in Continuing the Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party were settled in the early 1990s. For example, some western leftists back then held that the overthrow of existing socialism would lead to a new improved socialism. Those who held this view were soon proved wrong by the counter-revolutions in Eastern Europe and the USSR, where restored capitalism led to mass unemployment, societal decay and wars that continue to this day. As the U.S. ruling class celebrated this, many of the counter-revolutionary Chinese students, hyped as heroes by U.S. corporate media, were able to escape justice, reappearing to make their fortunes in the west. These pro-imperialist reactionaries praised the armed attacks on the People’s Liberation Army and openly expressed their dreams of bringing capitalism to China.

We hope that those interested in revolutionary change today can learn something from this paper. We are now in a situation where Marxism-Leninism is gaining strength and popularity around the world and the socialist countries are modernizing. Proletarian revolutionaries in many countries can make advances while the U.S. economic crisis deepens. Our hope is this paper will help to further the understanding of why supporting socialism and China is important to everyone who is fighting imperialism and to everyone who wants a better way of life.

– Freedom Road Socialist Organization, 2009


Continuing the Revolution is Not a Dinner Party

The recent events in China – the fighting in Beijing, the emergence of a mass “pro-democracy” movement and the decision by the leadership of the Communist Party of China to come down hard on counter-revolution – have caused more than a little debate and dismay among revolutionaries in this country. Many U.S. activists saw the Chinese student movement as a force fighting for the empowerment of the people and a renewal of socialism. Others have come to the conclusion that only “social fascists” would have made use of military force to suppress it.

This paper puts forward a number of views that are controversial. It argues that while the Chinese Party has made its share of mistakes, it nevertheless deserves the support of progressive and revolutionary-minded people. It also attempts to dispel some of the myths which have been propagated by the western media. Continue reading

Reflections on Amiri Baraka

(By David Hungerford)

Newark, NJ – He was a poet, playwright and political activist. He was my mentor and guide for almost a quarter of a century.

He was of a literary generation with James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and others who were intensely aware and confrontational of the injustices of U.S. society. Early on he was associated with the ‘beat’ writers, like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. He went in other directions but maintained a friendship with Ginsberg until the end of the latter’s life. His best known play is Dutchman. It was made into a film with Shirley Knight and Al Freeman, Jr.

When I was in college, at a social gathering that was part of an arts festival, somebody passed by in the crowd. I recognized him as LeRoi Jones, a poet whose picture I had seen in Time magazine. He was the first famous person I had ever seen up close so it stuck in my memory. But that was that.

He was born in Newark, New Jersey, where he lived all his life, as Everett Leroy Jones. He changed his name to LeRoi – “the king.” Later still he changed LeRoi to “Amiri,” which means pretty much the same thing in Swahili. Thus, Amiri Baraka – “Prince Blessedness.”

He came of age with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and early 1960s and became a crucial force in its transformation into the Black power movement of the middle and later 1960s. The same period saw the defeat of the aggressive and wrongful U.S. wars in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The world’s largest country was led by Mao Zedong with an impact that is scarcely imaginable today. Africa was a hotbed of national liberation movements, giving rise to outstanding leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Robert Sobukwe, Sekou Toure and Nelson Mandela, among many others.

The status quo of U.S. society was on the defensive as at no other point in living memory. Amiri Baraka was ideally suited to the times, gregarious, energetic, mercurial, uncompromising, insightful, in the middle of everything, fighting all the time—un poet mo’ dit, perhaps. When it came to who was hooked up to who and how and why he could practically see through walls. His activities of the time were too many to mention completely.

He was a key organizer of the 1967 Newark Black Power Conference that laid out a comprehensive political and economic agenda for the advancement of Black people. He founded the Congress of African People (CAP), a nationwide alliance of forces in the Black liberation movement. He also founded and led the associated Committed for a Unified Newark (CFUN) to define and implement a program of community-based economic development. Continue reading

Cooperatives: A Cure for Capitalism?

(By Zolten Zigedy)

Co-ops — cooperative economic enterprises — have been embraced by significant groups of people at different times and places. Their attraction precedes the heyday of industrial capitalism by offering a means to consolidate small producers and take advantage of economies of scale, shared risk, and common gain.

At the advent of the industrial era, cooperatives were one of many competing solutions offered to ameliorate the plight of the emerging proletariat. Social engineers like Robert Owen experimented with cooperative enterprises and communities.

In the era of mass socialist parties and socialist construction, cooperatives were considered as intermediate steps to make the transition from feudal agrarian production towards socialist relations of production.

Under the capitalist mode of production, co-ops have filled both employment and consumption niches deferred by large scale capitalist production. Economic activities offering insufficient profitability or growth have become targets for cooperative enterprise.

In theory, cooperatives may offer advantages to both workers and consumers. Workers are thought to benefit because the profits that are expropriated by non-workers in the capitalist mode of production are shared by the workforce in a cooperative enterprise (less the present and anticipated operating expenses and investments, of course).

Many argue as well that the working conditions are necessarily improved since workplace decisions are arrived at democratically absent the lash associated with the profit-mania of alienated ownership (though little attention is paid to the consequences for productivity and competitiveness against capitalist enterprises).

Consumers are said to benefit when they collectively appropriate the retail functions normally assumed by privately owned, profit-driven outlets. Benefit comes, on this view, by purchasing from wholesale suppliers, collectively meeting the labor requirements of distribution, and enjoying the cost-savings from avoiding a product markup (little attention is paid to limitations on participation dictated by class, race, or gender; the wholesale quantity discounts enjoyed by capitalist chains are also conveniently overlooked).

A case can also be made for the cooperator’s dedication to quality, safety, and health- promotion. Continue reading

On Juche and Marxism-Leninism: A Question of Scientific Socialism and Revolutionary Praxis (Part 1)

Introduction

When the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989 and the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, the reactionaries and bourgeois ideologues of the world celebrated the “final triumph of capitalism” and the “end of history.” Socialism was deemed a catastrophic failure, and Marxism-Leninism was declared to be outmoded, irrelevant, and a false prophecy. As the Eastern Bloc states seemed to tumble one after another in domino fashion, and as Boris Yeltsin boldly and shamelessly crowned the victory of the counter-revolution on top of a tank in Moscow, many communists found themselves speechlessly dismayed in the midst of such a breathtaking and confounding whirlwind of events. Numerous people who had, just several years before, confidently christened themselves as Marxist-Leninists, fell victim to demoralization, confusion, and capitulation. Riddled with trepidation and burdened with the immense weight of imperialism’s victory in the Cold War, the international communist movement experienced one of the deepest fractures in its history as it witnessed many of its yesterday battle-hardened soldiers become today’s disillusioned social-democrats and traitorous informants.

Some Marxist-Leninists, however, resisted the overwhelming wave of subjectivism and surrender entailed in the demise of the Soviet Union and have made an objective, dialectically-materialist assessment of the experiences of socialism in the 20th century and the global situation today, have committed themselves and their organizations to ideological rectification, and have rejuvenated their capacity and resolve in waging a principled struggle. These communists have reaffirmed the profound reality that not only does scientific socialism as an ideology still exist as long as exploited and oppressed classes do, but actually existing material manifestations of socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat still cling to life in several countries. The words of the former leader of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, Enver Hoxha, ring clear and prescient today:

“Nevertheless, Marxism-Leninism has not disappeared, it is living and flourishing as an ideology and a reality, materialized in the socialist social system constructed according to its teachings. Exemplifying this… [are] the Marxist-Leninist parties, and those millions and millions of workers and peasants who are fighting every day for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, for democracy and national liberation. No force, no torture, no intrigue, no deception can eradicate Marxism-Leninism from the minds and hearts of men” (Enver Hoxha, Eurocommunism is Anti-Communism).

With the guns of imperialism aimed at their heads all the while, five countries nonetheless uphold the banners of socialism and incarnations of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the 21st century. The Republic of Cuba, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam are the surviving remnants of the socialist bloc which once comprised nearly a billion people of the Earth’s population. These countries, all facing unique and varying problems in their respective paths of socialist construction, are fundamentally united in their struggle to survive and build socialism in a world dominated by history’s most immense and ferocious imperialist superpower, the United States of America. These five countries serve as visible reminders of the fact that the struggle for socialism is unceasing and vibrant despite the serious setbacks resulting from the destruction of the Soviet Union, and that no single counter-revolution can eradicate Marxism-Leninism from the minds and hearts of those struggling for liberation from the rule of capital and imperialism.

Of all of these actually existing socialist countries, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea undeniably deserves special attention. The unlimited and relentless demonization of the socialist north of Korea by the imperialist media and its historians, compounded with a general lack of education among Marxist-Leninists has diverted communists’ attention from one of the most impressive, rich, and unique experiences of socialism in the history of the international communist movement, and above all one carried out in only half of a country. An embarrassing number of Marxist-Leninists are unfamiliar with the merits, successes, and challenges of socialism in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and thus are unconsciously tarnishing the scientific nature of Marxism-Leninism as an ideology of emancipation built on and derived from the lessons of concrete experiences of revolutionary transformation. If we are to be real communists worthy of the name and the rank in the army of the proletarian revolution, we must remain committed to, as Mao and the Chinese communists have said, seeking truth from facts and making practice the sole criterion of truth. Applying this to examining the DPRK, it is an unavoidable sensibility that ignoring the rich and instructive practices of socialism in Korea, and the theoretical advancements and consolidation resulting thereof, represents a harmful departure from this basic axiom of scientific socialism. Continue reading