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

Soviet Troops Liberated Auschwitz 69 Years Ago

(By Liberation News)

On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops entered Auschwitz, Poland to liberate the 7,000 survivors of the Nazi death camps. This was a monumental day in history marking the beginning of the end of World War II and the triumph of socialism over fascism.

The death camp network at Auschwitz alone took the lives of over 1.1 million Jews, Roma, Poles, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and leftists. In its advance into Poland, the Red Army was headed straight for Auschwitz with the goal of liberating its prisoners.

While the largest and one of the most famous death camps, Auschwitz was not the first to be liberated by Soviet troops: in July of 1944, the Red Army liberated Majdanek, followed by Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. All of these camps were home to indescribable horrors: the purposeful destruction of lives, brutal slavery and heinous experiments conducted on racial minorities. Modern-day survivors of the Holocaust still recall the tremendous relief brought by the arrival of Soviet troops.

The Soviet Union sacrificed by far the most in World War II, losing 28 million lives between Nazi concentration camps and war casualties. Historians agree that without the powerful comeback of the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front, it would have been unlikely that the Axis forces would have been defeated.

The victory of the Soviet troops can be attributed not only to the determination of military commanders, but largely also to the heroism of Soviet civilians. In a series of feats that was not replicated anywhere in the West, the occupants of the smallest towns and villages joined together to fight to their last breath, sacrificing their lives just to keep the fascist troops away from Moscow for as long as possible. One of the most famous of these is the 1939 and 1941 defense of the Brest fortress, where soldiers and civilian occupants of the city of Brest, Belarus staved off Nazi troops until all were dead or taken prisoner. The occupants had barely any arms and could have chosen to retreat, but stood and fought instead.

The dedication of Soviet fighters and civilians to the cause of defeating fascism went beyond patriotism and a need to survive. Fresh from revolution, civil war, rapid industrialization and reconstruction of economic and social relations, the people of the USSR—now educated, with new inalienable rights and a sense of brotherhood with their fellow Soviet people—had another profound reason to fight the fascist scourge. Working people in the USSR were grateful for the chance at a life of equality and opportunity that socialism gave them, and the thought of giving the victory of the working class up to fascism was repulsive to them. They fought not only for their families and their country, but for their revolution and their class. 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

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised…Nor Will It Be Brought To You By Russell Brand, Oliver Stone Or Noam Chomsky

(By Stephen Gowans)

Not too many years ago, when protesters were running riot through the streets, disrupting meetings of the WTO, G7, and other international organizations, the Canadian newspaper The National Post served up a flattering and generous portrait of young people who had eschewed the streets as a terrain for political struggle and turned instead to what the newspaper considered the responsible and laudatory path of seeking nomination to run as candidates for the mildly social democratic (but in the newspaper’s view, rabidly leftwing) New Democratic Party. This was a curious turn of events, for the National Post, a newspaper founded by the notoriously rightwing, white-collar criminal, Lord Conrad Black, was as likely in normal times to heap praise on anyone associated with the NDP as George Bush was to sing the praises of Kim Il Sung. But these were not normal times. In retrospect it’s easy to see that the protests, demonstrations, and strikes of the time, would fizzle and die, as the Occupy movement would also fizzle and die years later. Lacking a central organizing idea and concrete vision of where they wanted to go, they were too hobbled by anarchist nonsense to achieve much more than to sell a few more copies of Z Magazine and to create a decent phrase about the 1% making off with all the wealth at the expense of the 99%. But it was clear that the editors of the National Post were worried enough to recommend a path other than the streets to those who burned with the desire for political change. That they should recommend electoral politics was predictable. Young people who plowed their energies into the NDP would soon get bogged down in the harmless, ineffectual, routines of political campaigns, and be kept safely off the streets.

The wealthy are keen on electoral politics—when they go their way, as they often do. Elections in capitalist society can be dominated by money, as can the larger political process. Banks, corporations and major investors lobby politicians, fund political campaigns, bribe legislators with the promise of lucrative post-political jobs, place their representatives in key positions in the state, and shape the ideological environment through their control of the media, creation of think-tanks, hiring of PR firms, and funding of university chairs. Those without wealth can hardly compete, except, in principle, by pooling their resources and hoping to tilt the balance the other way against a formidable foe that controls infinitely more resources. The absence of organization and class consciousness, however, routinely assures this doesn’t happen. Moreover, the electoral arena channels dissent into predictable, controllable paths, keeping it off the streets, where it might become unpredictable and therefore dangerous. Additionally, the sway that corporate, banking and investor groups exercise behind the scenes is masked by the egalitarian spectacle of elections. One person, one vote. What could be more equal?

I was reminded of this after reading the Russell Brand-edited issue of The New Statesman [1], not because it was in any particular way an endorsement of capitalist democracy, but because, like the National Post, it defined legitimate political change within parameters favorable to the established order. Of course, Brand wasn’t advocating electoral politics as the National Post was. On the contrary, he spoke out against voting in an interview with the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman, and called for a revolution. But Brand’s New Statesman went further than the National Post. Where the National Post said that those who fight for political change within the established system are admirable, while those who step outside it are not, Brand, as editor, tackled the larger idea of revolution (the only way, he said, he could get interested in politics. ) Mind you, a mass circulation magazine was not about to become a platform to rally the masses to armed insurrection to overthrow the established order. “The revolution,” observed Gil Scott-Heron, “will not be televised.” Nor will it be found in the pages of the New Statesman. Predictably, the outcome of Brand’s editing exercise was the redefining of the entire idea of revolution, or, I should say, the destroying of it altogether, turning it into something vague and difficult to put your finger on, except to say it was good, and true, and safe to bring home to mother. But not at all like what Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Kim Il sung were implicated in. According to the luminaries Brand assembled to hold forth on what revolution means, revolution isn’t the transfer of productive property from one group to another –from, say, private owners to workers, or colonial settlers to those they dispossessed, or even owners who reside outside a country to the people within. Instead, it means many things, but not what you thought it did. [2] Continue reading

World Socialism Forum in Beijing witnesses clash of socialist ideas

(By the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist))

On behalf of the CPGB-ML, Comrades Harpal Brar and Ella Rule recently attended the Fourth World Socialism Forum, organised by the World Socialism Research Centre of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), and the Centre for Contemporary World Studies of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CCCPC).

The theme of this year’s forum was ‘The current situation and the development trend of world socialism and leftist thoughts’. Held on 30-31 October at the conference hall of CASS, it hosted 91 participants, including 22 from abroad.

The general consensus at the symposium was that socialism, being a far superior system to capitalism, had a bright future – indeed, the only future for humanity; that capitalism, far from being the final destination, was merely a transitional stage in the long march of humanity from primitive communism to the higher stage of communism.

There was also general agreement that imperialism, especially US imperialism, was on the decline and that socialism was on the up again after the terrible reverses suffered in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR and east European socialist countries. It was pointed out that the latest economic crisis, while undermining the legitimacy of capitalism, had served to raise high the prestige of Marxism Leninism; and that the balance of power was definitely shifting away from US imperialism and other imperialist countries and towards the socialist countries and the Brics economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The only area in which US imperialism still reigns supreme is the military. In 2013, the US spent $633bn on the military, accounting for 5 percent of its GDP, 20 percent of its government budget, and 44 percent of global military spending. But even this colossal outlay is increasingly becoming a source of weakness, since the declining economic strength of the US will not be able to cope for very much longer with this huge military burden.

The present crisis, which began in 2007, marked the beginning of the end of US hegemony – economically, ideologically and politically. Even in the military field, despite its huge arsenal of the most sophisticated weapons ever seen, the US and its junior imperialist partners have lost in the battlefield in Iraq and are losing in Afghanistan.

All in all, there was broad agreement that capitalism was a failed system, fully confirmed by the latest crisis of capitalism, which at the same time served to confirm the validity of socialism and of Marxism Leninism.

For all their generally positive reinforcement of socialism, one of the major weaknesses revealed at the symposium was a lack of clarity and agreement among the participants as to the cause of the demise of the USSR and east European socialist countries. Unless this question is satisfactorily dealt with, however, the working-class movement will not be equipped to make real progress.  Continue reading

Slanders in a Sentence: The Weekly Bolshevik vs. the KPRF

Note: KPRF is the transliterated acronym of Kommunisticheskaya Partiya Rossiiskoi Federatsii. KPRF and CPRF are interchangeable acronyms. 

On September 13, 2013, The Weekly Bolshevik published a short article entitled Personal Observations on the Nature and Function of the Vanguard Party. For all of its valuable theoretical points on the subject indicated in the title, the article was most notably and disappointingly tainted by an unwarranted, untenable, and ridiculous denunciation of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. In merely a sentence, the KPRF was written off as a party of “nostalgic pensioners, homophobes and, quite frankly, the worst type of tankies”, and was declared guilty of being “the worst offender” when it comes to a vanguard party being divorced from the masses and suffering from ideological disarmament. The accusations continued with the KPRF being called “an inorganic cut-and-paste of the revisionist CPSU” guilty of “the catastrophic adoption of parliamentary social democracy,” and were crowned with what was most likely intended to be an elegant and intelligent-sounding conclusion: “No matter what the intentions of the KPRF are, pensioners, tanky students and ultra-nationalists with a hammer and sickle on their lapel a revolution does not make.”

The publishing of the above-mentioned article is a disappointing blunder, a characteristically un-Marxist-Leninist move on the record of what is otherwise a decent Marxist-Leninist blog. Not only must the article be held accountable for peddling gross slanders worthy of Trotskyite blessing, but the serious theoretical failure underlying the article’s rejection of the KPRF’s political program deserves equally uncompromising treatment. Continue reading

Political Report of the Central Committee to the 15th Congress of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation

Toilers’ Struggle publishes this document of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation not only because of Toilers’ Struggle’s genuine support for the KPRF but also because the document contains immeasurably valuable Marxist-Leninist analyses of the conditions facing communists on a global scale in the context of the historic transition from capitalism to socialism.

Submitted by the Presidium of the CC to the Central Committee of the CPRF

Esteemed participants in the Congress,

We are holding our 15th Congress twenty years after our party came back into being. We are reviewing the results of the work of the Central Committee at a juncture when the time perspective is sufficient for us to make important generalizations and provide comprehensive assessments of the social-economic and political processes in the country and the world. We have an opportunity to analyze not only the events of the last four years, but of a more significant stretch of time.

What is a period of two decades? Within exactly twenty years Soviet Russia, having risen from the ruins of the First World War and the Civil War, built a mighty industrial and culturally advanced power that proved capable of destroying Hitler’s ruthless machine. In the grim year 1941 the Red Army, the heroism of our fathers and grandfathers stopped the onslaught of the fascist beast, and in 1961 Yuri Gagarin was already looking at the Earth from outer space. In the early 1970s the Soviet Union achieved nuclear missile parity and confidently declared the emergence of a new historical community, the Soviet people, but twenty years later the hands of traitors and demagogues destroyed the mainstays of the great country. The world is capable of changing dramatically within twenty years. This is what we are witnessing today. We are in a position to assess our own path and the entire historical period.

The second Extraordinary Congress of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation opened outside Moscow on February 13, 1993. Nearly a year and a half after the ban the CC RSFSR declared the resumption of our party’s activities. A Programme Statement, a Charter and a number of resolutions were passed. These documents provided the foundation for the restoration and creation of primary, city and district, okrug and oblast, regional, territorial and republican organizations of the CPRF.

It will be remembered that in recreating the party we were writing our Programme which began with the statement that the fundamental argument between capitalism and socialism is not over. At the time the wounds and scars of the ban on the CPSU were still fresh. Time had not yet blunted the pain over the loss of the Motherland, the USSR. Throughout the Warsaw Treaty area our ideas, symbols and values were subjected to humiliation by rampant vandals. But the sense of duty, the conviction that ours was the right cause, dedication to the Marxist-Leninist theory and sincere human hope impelled people to act.

Today, after the lapse of time, we can say with a full voice that our travails have not been in vain. Yes, victory has yet to be won, but our confidence that nobody can cancel the laws of history has been vindicated in a very tangible way. The present model of the world is splitting at the seams. The cyclic nature of capitalist crises discovered by Karl Marx in the century before last again makes people turn their attention to the immortal ideals of Socialism and Communism. In Russia the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is confidently upholding these ideals.

As we mark the 20th anniversary of the CPRF, one cannot but look back on the arduous path traversed by our party from its being banned to becoming a powerful popular force that is staunchly opposing the ruling regime. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation, being a party of the working people – workers, peasants and the intelligentsia – set as its main task the protection of the political and social-economic interests of the citizens. Today we can legitimately speak about the concrete results of our struggle. Continue reading