Briefly, On the accusations of the (God forbid) “atheism” of Marx and Lenin by the right- From a Christian and a Communist

Yes, Marx and Lenin were atheists! Do you know what else? Buddha was a Buddhist. Martin Luther King was a Christian. Malcom X was a Muslim. Great men are great regardless of their religious convictions. Your attempts to slenderize Marx and Lenin for being atheists are wholly baseless. Were they wrong for being atheists? I believe so, but their criticism of religion was not unfounded.

What has “christian charity” done to lift broadly, the toiling masses out of extreme poverty? What has mindfulness done to improve the material conditions of the poor? They are not wrong in their criticism, if anything, they were atheists out of love for working people, out of their desire for the complete freedom of working people. And yes, I say that as both a Christian and a communist. That is your first mistake.

Your second is the ignorant accusation that atheism implies immorality and malevolence. I am friends with many atheists, some of the best, most loving, most dedicated, most compassionate and inspiring people I know happen to be atheists. Religious belief is absolutely no indication whatsoever of a persons ability to feel empathy and to be a decent person and an implication of such indicates a lack of empathy, something that is, to put it bluntly, inhuman.

Reasons For The Coming Socialist Revolution

The rapidly increasing technological boom of the productive forces can but only constitute an increase in the contradictions between the two antagonistic social classes in our society: the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In the past 30 years we have witnessed the most rapid increase in the revolutionizing process of the productive forces on account of the bourgeoisie. We know that, according to Marx, that “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society.” The period in time where these antagonisms become most apparent in the most advanced capitalistic countries (not the backward countries which made revolution in the 20th century due specifically to the conditions of imperialism) came far later than Marx predicted, indeed we are living in the era Marx spoke of. It must be said that Marx was no mystical prophet, all he did was analyze the workings and inner mechanisms of the capitalist system scientifically and come to a conclusion. But there can be no doubt that we are in the era of the coming socialist revolution. Not because these social antagonisms increase and flux as they always do, but for several key reasons (and I’m sure I am leaving some out):
 
1.) Capitalism has revolutionized society (just as Marx knew it would), but in doing so it has raped the earth or more specifically; the prospects of future human development on the earth. If capitalism continues (even with regulations) it will bring an end to all human life on earth.
 
2.) In the past it could always be said by bourgeois economists that one key benefit of capitalism was that, even after 25 years or so of dictatorship, it always led to the development of a liberal democratic republic (bourgeois democracy). But now even bourgeois economists are admitting that the most efficient capitalistic countries today are ‘not’ democratic countries, but in the most authoritarian countries, take China for instance. This so-called Capitalism with Asian Values (no relation to race but to region) is far exceeding the productive capacity of the (now dying) Social-Democratic countries in Europe, Neoliberal capitalism of the United States, and Latin American capitalism. If capitalism continues, it will continue to gradually become divorced from democracy altogether.
 
3.) The aforesaid rapid increase in technological (and general commodity) innovation is the only way the bourgeoisie can exist. This rapid increase is bound to bring with it a rapid increase in the contradiction between the two social classes of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. (For example: Wages have not increased with productivity -as they always have- since the early 1970’s, income inequality is higher than it has ever been, minimum wage is not enough to survive if living alone.) This will inevitably lead to socialism (a broad term) in one form or another.

Where are we coming from? The vestiges of Stalinism

I am a Trotskyist to the core when it comes to the issue of the past. It’s complete bullshit to claim that the working class was in power in the late Eastern Bloc. There was nothing left in those states but the raw, negative vestiges of Stalinism, a vestige which will (seemingly) forever form the blackest reaction of all time over the communist movement.

I am reading a book called ‘The Stalinist Legacy’ which criticizes practically all of the 20th century Marxist-Leninist legacy from a Marxist perspective. No, the working class was not in power, a Stalinist bureaucracy was. No, it cannot be called a socialist system without there being democracy in the workplace, without there being political democracy as well. As Luxemburg said, “Democracy is indispensable to socialism and socialism indispensable to democracy.”

The one-party system did not reign because it ‘maintained the will of the entire working class’ all at once, such a view is utopian. It formed as a necessity of the Russian revolution- a condition that by absolutely no indications by Lenin or Trotsky was to be permanent. Go ahead and search all 50 volumes of Marx and Engels, and all 45 volumes of Lenin for the mention of a one-party system, I have. You will find not one mention of such a thing by Lenin, Marx or Engels, it is entirely a vestige of Stalinism to assert that the ideal socialist state (and not only one that just had a revolution, and also was barred from participation by the bourgeois parties) is a one-party state.

In fact, in the ‘people’s democracies’ the necessary prerequisites for full democracy did not exist. Had they though, the overwhelming majority would have likely supported some kind of liberal democratic reforms. This is not to say that this was the case everywhere, it most certainly was not. Eisenhower himself (I believe it was) said that he suppressed elections in Vietnam because if he had allowed them, “80% of the population would have supported Ho Chi Minh”. The same was true for Cuba.

To adequately critique 20th Century Marxism-Leninism I do not believe Trotskyism is enough. We have to go back to Marx himself who asserted the belief that advanced capitalism was a necessary prerequisite to socialist construction. Just as you cannot go from a feudal monarch to a democratic republic without a zero level of Jacobinism, you cannot go from feudalism to socialism without a zero level of advanced capitalism. Was this not the assertion of Marx himself?

The conditions of imperialism put Russia in an impossible situation: a proletarian revolution in a backwards country without international revolution. Lenin himself said the country was doomed in a decade without international revolution. It was doomed from the start. We also have to analyze the nature of the economic system itself. Was it socialist? Certainly not. Was it state-capitalist? Technically, but it was also technically under the dictatorship of the proletariat. I think the assertion of it being a ‘deformed workers state’ is adequate. From a surplus analysis it was anything but socialist.

And yes! It lifted hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty, doubled life expectancy rates, abolished illiteracy, etc. but overall I would classify it as a complete and total disaster. If you read some of Lenin’s later writings it gets even more depressing as even Lenin himself expressed doubts as to the ability of such a backward nation building socialism. He says something along the lines of “yes we’re probably fucked but at least we should try right? Perhaps if we are, the best thing would be more economic development and some bourgeois culture.” Not one year after he died did Stalin propose the treacherous theory of ‘socialism in one country’.A theory that, along with Stalinism generally, has been the sole basis of every single socialist/ communistic revolution since October.

The idea of rapid industrialization (as introduced by Trotsky) was the great triumph of the 20th century Marxist-Leninist movement. The five year plans brought hundreds of millions of people out of the most extreme poverty. But economically it was technically state-capitalist due to its lack of economic democracy and state control. Had it allowed full democratic participation and innovation, I have little doubt that the economic stagnation of the Brezhnev era would have never taken place. Overall I just have to look back and say, “What the actual fuck? I mean seriously. Fuck. This whole thing is fucked. The word communism (the goal) is now and (seemingly) forever will be equated with Stalinism (the totalitarian means of reaching said goal).

Where are we coming from? Where are we now? Where are we going? I hope that I have sufficiently, even if briefly, addressed the question of where we are coming from- the complete betrayal of the original ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin, the vestiges of Stalinism and its effects on world politics today. Without addressing this issue with the utmost vigor and confidence- rooted in a firm and concise Marxist analysis, we will go nowhere at all. Or worse still- will repeat the mistakes and atrocities of the past.

Was Trump’s Rise To Power Truly A ‘Rise Against The Elites’? An Brief Answer

Trump’s rise was presented as a ‘rise against the elites’. But who exactly would be considered ‘elite’ in our society? Would it not be that social class that owns the means of producing wealth, and uses that surplus produced by the working class to fund and support candidates for both the Republican and Democrat parties alike? Would it not be not only those funded by PACs and Super-PACs (corporations) but also those corporate sharks that fund PACs and Super-PACs to begin with?

So then, we can say that our society is divided into to two social classes (with some in-between). On the one hand is working and middle classes consisting of the proletariat. What is the proletariat? According to Engels, “The proletariat is that class in society which lives entirely from the sale of its labor and does not draw profit from any kind of capital; whose weal and woe, whose life and death, whose sole existence depends on the demand for labor – hence, on the changing state of business, on the vagaries of unbridled competition. The proletariat, or the class of proletarians, is, in a word, the working class of the [21st] century.”

But this here, the proletariat, is the ‘common man’ Trump has declared himself to represent. How can this be so? Trump is of that other class, one of two in our society, the class of the bourgeoisie. Who are the bourgeoisie? According to Engels, Trump would be a part of “The class of big capitalists, who, in all civilized countries, are already in almost exclusive possession of all the means of subsistence and of the instruments (machines, factories) and materials necessary for the production of the means of subsistence. This is the bourgeois class, or the bourgeoisie.” In essence, this class lives off of, nay, expropriates VAST fortunes (billions on Trump’s case) off the labor of others, off the weal and woe of the proletariat.

The interests of the bourgeoisie are wholly separate from the interests of the overwhelming majority of our society, from the interests of the ‘common man’ which, according to Engels is “The class of the wholly propertyless, who are obliged to sell their labor to the bourgeoisie in order to get, in exchange, the means of subsistence for their support. This is called the class of proletarians, or the proletariat.”

What would be a true rise ‘against the elites’? It would be a movement for the liberation of the proletariat from the exploitation it suffers under the bourgeoisie. It would be directly mobilizing the masses and seizing the means of production from the capitalist class, a declaration that workers are entitled to all they produce and that no one can live off the labor of another. In electoral politics, it would be a candidate NOT funded by exploited labor. The closest thing we have ever had to such a thing was the Sanders campaign, but even that was limited in scope. The idea of a true representative of the ‘common man’ coming to power in this country without the approval of the bourgeois class is utopian.

Under a market economy, it would mean the establishment of market socialism. It would mean that workers would democratically elect members to the board of directors (who would in turn receive no more than a workman’s wage) to decide what is produced, how much is produced, etc. But here is an even bigger difference, under such a system it would be declared that profits are the unpaid wages of the working class. Instead of money produced by 100,000 going to a couple people on the top who did nothing but ‘own’ the means of producing subsistence in our society, to go into their own pockets and to fund politicians who maintain the capitalist system, it would go back to the workers who PRODUCED it in the first place. That would be socialism.

But we can go further than this as well, to abolish markets altogether and thereby all forms of exploitation. To produce according to human needs and not the blind pursuit of profit. We could get rid of the state and the exchange value of commodities (money). But the establishment of workplace democracy and the abolition of bourgeois right to fund politicians and one of the two parties that prioritize their interests above all, would be a necessary step towards this transition.

But now that we have identified who the ‘elites’ in our society are, tell me, how can the election of a self-funded billionaire capitalist to the highest seat in the land be a ‘rise against the elites’? Wouldn’t it be better said to be a ‘rise of the elites’?

Politics are not supposed to be entertainment, it is quite literally a matter of life or death.

We must assume the people to be good and the state evil (Reflections on our society)

“We must assume the people good and the state evil.”(1) Obviously the state, as an inherently violent institution, is a necessary evil both in our bourgeois society, and in the society which will be born of the triumph of labor under capital, it will be necessary until that day when bourgeois right ceases to be.
We say that the people are of good nature. What do we mean? Anyone who goes to a place where the poor are numerous and paupers beg for change will find abnormally high rates of crime. Everywhere the mentality will be ‘every man for himself’. The poor, who are deprived of the means of subsistence, of the means of production, are found to be in a constant state of stress and disorientation. Their concern is for themselves and their immediate relatives, for their immediate needs.
Then we go to those who own the means of subsistence, who grow extremely wealthy for owning the means of production with which the poor toil day and night without ever making a penny more than the capitalist allows. We find here an extremely wealthy fellow, whose “wealth springs quite literally from the poverty of the poor”(2). He lives off the labor of others, off the poor who have nothing to sell but their labor power as the precious commodity that it is, while he does no real work himself. We find a man who, unlike the pauper, has secured the means of maintaining his immediate survival and happiness. But even among him, selfishness runs rampant. It is a selfishness far worse than that which is forced onto the poor. He is in a state of constant struggle not only against the poor who, lacking class consciousness, want only better wages and better working conditions, but also against his fellow capitalist, both within his enterprise and in those enterprises competing against him.
If he grows concerned for the well being of his workers, for their humanity, he will certainly find himself going down a slippery slope. If he goes so far as to forfeit the means of production to the working class, then he will be forced to work like they do, under explorative conditions, with nothing to sell but his labor power. If he runs his business like the good Christian he claims to be, he will soon go out of business and become a laughingstock among the whole capitalist class.(3)
His own survival is based on his greed, on the ceaseless accumulation of capital. We see for both rich and poor alike that self-interest is compelled to become selfishness. “We see that the worker is compelled to work under feudal conditions, or die of hunger”(2), to look after only his own hide, or risk going hungry. We see that the selfishness of the ruling class becomes the ruling ideas of our age, for rich and poor alike. 
So what madness is it to assume the people good? Everywhere we look around we see that greed and selfishness are the sole motivating factors of our society. But we also know that “the ruling ideas of each age have only ever been the ruling ideas of each ages ruling class.”(4) If we imagine instead, “a free association of producers with the means of production held in common”(5), where the means of production are democratically controlled by society at large, then we see that greed ceases to be the sole motivator, the sole ruling idea of society. We see that the pursuit of meeting actual human needs instead of profits exorcizes the hold that greed has over our society.
Only in such a society can the natural virtue of the people by embodied, only in such a society can today’s rich and poor alike live free from constant want and worry, for the states of rich and poor alike will cease to be. Only in such a society can equality be real, and not “the formal inequality in spite of rich and poor, ‘equality’ in spite of inequality.”(6) Only in such a society can democracy embody the true will of all of society, and not only that of the ruling class. When man is free from manmade poverty, and from being compelled to live off of the conditions that create poverty, we will find a society in which the natural virtue of man is truly embodied. As James Connolly once said, “The.. people will only be free when they own everything from the plough to the stars”.(7)
1: Robespierre, Speech/ Rousseau

2: Kropotkin, Conquest of Bread

3: Connolly, Socialism Made Easy

4: Marx & Engels, Communist Manifesto

5: Marx, Capital

6: Engels, Marx Engels Collected Works Volume 6

7: James Connolly

Latest Victim of U.S. Imperialism: Venezuela, an excerpt from Slavoj Žižek and a Statement of Solidarity  

“In 1970, in the notes of a meeting with President Richard Nixon on how to undermine the democratically elected Chilean government of Salvador Allende, CIA Director Richard Helms wrote succinctly: ‘Make the economy scream.’ Top US representatives openly admit that today the same strategy is being applied in Venezuela: former US Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger said on Fox News that Chávez’s appeal to the Venezuelan people ‘only works so long as the populace of Venezuela sees some ability for a better standard of living. If at some point the economy gets really bad, Chávez’s popularity within the country will certainly decrease and it’s the one weapon we have against him to begin with and which we should be using, namely the economic tools of trying to make the economy even worse so that his appeal in the country and the region goes down… Anything we can do to make their economy more difficult for them is a good thing, but let’s do it in ways that do not get us into direct conflict with Venezuela if we can get away with it.” -Slavoj Žižek
That alone is reason enough to stand in solidarity with Venezuela as it endures the economic hardships caused by U.S. imperialism and its running dogs. The economic crisis in Venezuela was caused by imperialist aggression, indirect as it was. It was an act of, or due to its lack of action, economic warfare. 

The condition of Venezuela today is not a reason to disavow ‘socialism’ but it most certainly is a reason to sharpen the rhetoric on the left against U.S. Imperialism. The tactics being used on Venezuela today are the same tactics used on Chile and Cuba, are the same tactics the U.S. has used for the past 70 years to terrorize those in the third world who dared stand up against imperialist exploitation of labor and resources. Some on the left have rightfully been critical of Venezuela, but this criticism should not feed into the imperialist propaganda about the real reasons for that country’s crisis, nor should it be used to attack the genuine successes and triumphs of the Venezuelan people. If anything, such criticisms, right though they may be, should be pointed at as examples of the crimes of U.S. Imperialism and neoliberal economic warfare.

In that, I express my solidarity with the Venezuealan people.