What Makes Stalinist State Terror Different From Leninism and Jacobinism?

Article 9 of the Stalinist German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) constitution stipulates blatantly, “There is no press censorship.”
 
Of course, anyone familiar with East German protests knows the slogan “Freedom of the press!” was a common one. And naturally, such protests were brutally suppressed by the police. The thing that makes Stalinism and Stalinist terror unique is its blatant denial of actually existing social conditions in favor of a more “comfortable” interpretation. “Officially” everyone is a “free and happy people”. Officially, it is a paradise on earth. When Stalin proclaimed that the USSR had “achieved socialism”, I believe the lie itself became the reality.
 
When the peasants in revolutionary France and demanded, “Make terror the order of the day!” The Jacobins did so. Never at any point did Robespierre claim that France was not a totalitarian dictatorship that ruthlessly purged counter-revolutionaries in the name of establishing “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” and political democracy as the social norm.
 
When 14 armies of the most powerful armies on earth invaded the new RSFSR, aiding the White Army in its anti-Jewish pogroms, Lenin and Trotsky openly admitted that they intended to suspend democracy, use Red Terror against the White Terror, and restore order. Once again, this totalitarianism that had emerged, like the French terror in time of war, was brutally honest and made no excuses. Obviously I am against these tactics, but you cannot deny that there is something different about Stalinism.
 
After Tito liberated Yugoslavia from the Italian and German invaders, Stalin wanted Tito to proclaim Yugoslavia a “people’s democracy”. But Tito realized how absurd this was and openly proclaimed the early Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia a “totalitarian one-party dictatorship”.
 
It is precisely rule by terror demoralizes, that makes popular rule of the masses impossible, and it is something that should never be used even in times of war. But, you know, Stalinist terror is unique among these historical examples in that it uses terror in time of peace. And unlike these other examples, it is brutally dishonest because officially it doesn’t exist. If you were to criticize “comrade Stalin” at a public meeting, you would disappear the next day. But if you pointed out that in criticizing “comrade Stalin”, that you would inevitably disappear the next day, you would actually disappear that night- twice as fast!
 
This is what makes Stalinism so tragic. This is what makes Stalinism a betrayal not only of Marxism, but of its own official ideology. It is politically dishonest to the point of hypocrisy. Socialists used to always disagree with one another, it wasn’t until Stalinism though, that questions of disagreement were so casually solved with bullets in the head.
I won’t get into the serious totalitarian distortions of Leninism that Stalinism embodies here, but I merely wanted to point out how absurd the Stalinist political system is. Pick a former or currently existing Stalinist state and you will see the same blatant falsehoods in the constitution.

We’re on the Darknet now!

Need to access our website anonymously? Do you live in an authoritarian country or feel threatened by mass surveillance? Look no further, we’re on the darknet! Those following our Facebook page know we recently tested the release of a Tor Hidden Service version of the Thought Foundry Blog. It looks very different from the WordPress version as it is custom built and uses no Javascript in order to maximize security. We also posted a version onto Freenet in the form of a ‘flog’ (a Freenet blog site). Currently we are working on deploying the blog onto I2P as well. In addition to ‘Privacy Tools for Activists‘, we added a new pro-privacy site page called ‘Darknet Mirrors’ where you can find the appropriate link to find us on the darkweb using your preferred anonymous network. The page says as follows:

tor_cover.jpeg

Our blog actually has a number of people who read it in authoritarian countries. Naturally, if you live in authoritarian country you don’t want your visit to this site logged and recorded by the powers that be. So with my technical knowledge, I have re-posted every single post ever written on the Thought Foundry Blog from its early beginnings in 2016 up till now, onto various censorship resistant “darknets”. Currently the Freenet and Tor mirrors are up and running. We are still having technical difficulties getting the I2P mirror up (sorry)! Anyways, here are the links (you will need special software to access these sites!):

Tor: http://bk2lthbdpd746fqd.onion/

Freenet: http://127.0.0.1:8888/USK@LGEtEIZMvoge10JtOUuvd8fpvlAShfSJgOCT32pTnjw,XpKJefEFQVRZic9~bWd6p4fSzrV-SqEbRCoMJ~oMqb0,AQACAAE/ThoughtFoundryBlog/7/

I2P: (to be announced)

You can find more about these censorship resistant platforms and get the tools needed to use them here:

https://www.torproject.org/

https://freenetproject.org/

https://geti2p.net/en/

Using Mao’s own Quotes Against Him

I saw this old video of Chinese youth rallying and chanting denunciations of “Khrushchevite revisionism”. Naturally this would excite any self-proclaimed Maoist. But then you remember the old saying, “What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed?” — Hannah Arendt, 1974

It’s a strange condition in which all the “free and happy” people in every “people’s democracy” all seem to unanimously agree with the leader and the central committee on all issues. If there is no press freedom, and the only information people get is in support of the party, how then can they come to their own conclusions about anything?

Here Mao refutes himself when he said in “Oppose Book Worship” that, “Unless you have investigated a problem, you will be deprived of the right to speak on it. Isn’t that too harsh? Not in the least. When you have not probed into a problem, into the present facts and its past history, and know nothing of its essentials, whatever you say about it will undoubtedly be nonsense.”

Clearly then, the top down Stalinist bureaucracy of Mao is, in and of itself, anti-Marxist. Not according to someone else, but by Mao’s own standards. This is what Slavoj Žižek means when he says that Stalinism betrays its own standards, it rejects its own premises. Stalinism fails on its own terms.

A Change In Themes

notes-514998_960_720.jpg

If you follow my blog you will have noticed that after over a year of regular posting I have suddenly stopped for several months. This is not because I have abandoned the Thought Foundry Blog or socialism but because my interests and life in general has changed slightly and I did not know how to integrate this change into this blog.

I recently have suffered a very deep personal tragedy and have been trying to cope with it. I am the kind of person who gets deeply absorbed in learning. I have always found certain subjects that captivate me to such an extent that I get lost in them. I have a deeply ingrained need to learn everything there is to know about them. Politics has been one such thing. I am a Marxist but my life does not necessarily revolve around Marxism. I am a person first and I have many interests. I have recently been swept away in learning many new things, in updating my knowledge in some areas and exploring new fields of study.
In the past few months I have written several posts for the Thought Foundry Blog but have discarded them for one reason or another. I have sought out to drastically improve the quality of my posts and have gone back and deleted old ones which did not meet my current standards of professionalism.

The topics and posts of this blog are still going to be socialistic in nature but are going to go even deeper in its critique of modern society and the existing socioeconomic and political order than my previous posts. They are going to be less radical in some regards, and more radical in others. Among these topics are: digital rights, mass surveillance, libertarian Marxism, tribalism, the information and telecommunications revolution, the automation revolution, and other critiques of advanced industrial society. Digital rights, technology, and the Internet will be a particularly large subject in the future.

Currently I am working on a manifesto regarding the information and telecommunications revolution in which I attempt to address our current predicament and the measures necessary for the long term survival of the human species and the protection of civil liberty. It is a work in progress. But to my readers let me be clear, the Thought Foundry Blog is not dead. It is not going away, and for the foreseeable long term future it will not go away.

Historical Materialism and Religion: A New Theory

Hist_Mat_101_Rel

Historical materialism shows that religion, and organized religion in particular, has, in every epoch, acted in defense of the prevailing socioeconomic order. Therefore Lenin states, “Marxism has always regarded all modern religions and churches, and each and every religious [organization], as instruments of bourgeois reaction that serve to defend exploitation and to befuddle the working class.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 15, p. 403).

Let us analyze this quotation for a moment in the modern world. Is this true? In Latin America there developed in the spirit of the socialist revolutions that overtook the world in the 20th century, liberation theology. In Soviet Russia, after the revolution, there developed a “living church” that supported the ideals of socialism and communism in spite of the Bolsheviks ideological war on religion as such, it was a church that attempted to distance itself from the reactionary Russian Orthodox Church. There is the National Liberation Army of Columbia that ascribes to an interpretation of Marxism-Leninism through the lens of Liberation Theology. There is the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, a militant political movement that ascribes to an Islamic variant of Marxism. There are countless progressive churches in the United States and abroad with a staunch anti-capitalist, pro-socialist programme. Can we therefore say that Lenin was correct in saying that “all modern religions and churches”, and “each and every religious organization” are “instruments of bourgeois reaction that serve to defend exploitation and befuddle the working class”? Not in the least. In this regard, history has proved Lenin wrong. And in this regard, we have to acknowledge the fact that religion will justify a socialist order if and when that order arises, but only insofar as the socialist order is not inherently atheistic or militantly atheistic in nature.

Who does the “Alt-Left” hate?

vladimir-lenin-red-square-crowd-communism.jpg

Recently Trump gave a speech about the massive alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Instead of unilaterally condemning the racist violence, hatred, and bigotry of the alt-right, Trump claimed that “there was blame on both sides”, and coined the term “the alt-left” to refer to the leftist counter-protestors. Despite the outbreak of racist violence at the rally, accompanied with domestic terrorism from the far-right, Trump de facto placed more blame on the left for “not having a permit”.

As of late, many conservative and libertarian (as in libertarian capitalist) media outlets have been on a frenzy condemning what they call “hate on both sides”. In this sense, they equate the far left and the far right as equally bad, a concept similar to the “Horseshoe Theory” which I debunked in an earlier post. As an example of this meme frenzy, let’s take a look at a meme shared by Turning Point USA on the issue:

20861573_1393472987368080_4957624709870866903_o.png

What is meant by the term “hate”? Lets break this down by separating the far-right organizations mentioned (which everyone knows are inherently hateful) from the left-wing organizations mentioned. Who or what exactly do these left-wing organizations hate?

What does Black Lives Matter hate? Black Lives Matter is an organization created to address the horrific abuses suffered by African Americans by the United States Criminal Justice System. As an organization, it has condemned racially oriented violence, violent tactics, and police brutality. In a word, it hates racism and oppression.

What did The Black Panther Party hate? The Black Panther Party was an anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist Party formed during the beginning of the American civil rights movement as a militant anti-racist organization to address the horrific injustices suffered by the working class and African Americans. It was a revolutionary Marxist organization that was militantly opposed to the 400 years of oppression suffered by black people in America. Never did the organization, or Black Lives Matter, for that matter, advocate Black Supremacy or racist politics. As a matter of fact, both organizations had white members and white majority organizations that stood in solidarity with them. In a word, it hated racism and exploitation.

What do the communists hate? The communists hate a social system where 5 people have expropriated the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of humanity (3.5 billion people), a system that awards those who produced that great wealth barely enough to maintain a wretched existence. They hate a social system that has the productive potential to end homelessness, hunger, poverty, and treatable diseases 20 times over but refuses to do so because it “isn’t profitable”. In the words of the late American socialist Eugene V. Debs, “I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.” Communists recognize that the history of all human history is a history of class struggles. Throughout human history there has always been social classes that produce all the wealth in a given society, and has the lions share of what it produces taken from it by a ruling class in the form of economic exploitation (everything the slave produced, what the peasant produced 3 days of the week, the surplus value produced by the worker today). The members of the ruling class in each epoch typically did no work of their own but rather lived off of the labor of others. The class or classes that owned the means of production, in every epoch, controlled the state and used it to its own advantage. The communists recognize that our capitalist society is no different from earlier epochs in this regard, and that as such, is fundamentally based on exploitation. They wish to create a social system where all members of society own the means of producing wealth, and have democratic control over them. In such a society the state (an inherently violent institution) would become superfluous, money as a form of exchange would become superfluous, and social classes (classes that exist with a particular relation to the means of production) would disappear. In a word, the communists hate oppression and exploitation.

What does CIAR (The Council of Islamic-American Relations) hate? The organization says that they “promote civil rights, diversity and freedom of religion and oppose policies that limit civil rights, permit racial, ethnic or religious profiling, infringe on due process, or that prevent Muslims and others from participating fully in American civic life.” Based on their actions, we can say that this is an accurate summery of the CIAR. Thus it can be said that, in a word, they hate religious persecution and oppression.

What do the anti-fascists hate? As anyone can tell by the name, the anti-fascists hate fascism. Generally the anti-fascists are anarchists (typically anarcho-communists) and communists. In a word, the anarchists hate fascism, and the oppression and exploitation that fascism brings.

What, then have we established? The KKK, the White Supremacists, and the Nazi’s hate people, and they hate people because of things they cannot help (race, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality and religion in particular). The Black Panthers, Black Lives Matter, CIAR, and the communists do not tend to hate individuals in particular, but various forms of oppression or exploitation. Whenever they do hate individuals, they hate those who directly and unapologetically perpetrate various forms of oppression and exploitation.

What, then, is the position of the “alt-left” in regards to hate? The general position is that the “alt-left” hates every single form of oppression and exploitation. When the “alt-left” does hate individuals, it is because they directly and unapologetically perpetrate various forms of oppression and exploitation. What is detestable to the “Alt-Left” is the hatred of the far-right, a group that hates people because of things that they generally cannot help, such as their nationality, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religion. When centrists and conservatives say that “all hate is bad” and condemn “both sides”, they mean hatred of anything, regardless of whether that thing is good or bad. They mean not only hatred of individuals, but hatred of things in particular, they mean the feeling of hatred itself. Was it wrong for a slave to hate slavery? Not in the least. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this kind of reasoning used by centrists and conservatives is absolute nonsense and that there is no comparison between the “Alt-Right” and the so-called “Alt-Left”.

Why I am a Socialist

kmstudy.jpg

I am a socialist because I simply refuse to accept that the richest country on earth “can not afford to” provide housing for all, employment for all, guarantee a means of subsistence to all who work, provide universal healthcare, and not exploit the third world. Somehow, it is “unethical” to seize the means of producing wealth in our society, a society that has expropriated an amount of wealth equal to what the bottom half of humanity (3.5 billion people) owns, into the hands of just 5 people, and does not give it the people who produced the wealth in the first place (who themselves live in extreme poverty). Yet somehow it is “ethical” to allow 100 million people die preventable deaths from hunger, poverty, treatable diseases and lack of access to essential (yet abundant) resources every 5.5 years, deaths by the way, that are directly attributable to capitalism. Somehow it is “ethical” to rob Africa, India, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America of their resources and labor for U.S. corporations and economic interests. But it is “unethical” when one of those nations stands up for their people, against the foreign and domestic capitalists who de facto own that country’s political system, but it is “ethical” when that country is attacked mercilessly by the United States and CIA, overthrown and replaced by a government subservient to US imperialism.

I am a socialist because history demonstrates that every economic system and country in the past (primitive communism, slavery, feudalism, and yes, capitalism too) has a beginning, a middle and an end, that going from one to the other often fails at first, and is often rigidly authoritarian and disastrous before eventually it becomes the dominant system in a less extreme form. And if you think that capitalism and the American empire are somehow exceptions to the laws of history then I think it is you who are on the wrong side of history.

I am a socialist because we live in a world where there are 5 empty homes for every homeless person, because there are billionaires with 20 yachts at the same time as there are millions of children without shoes, food, or shelter. I am a socialist because capitalism has outlived its historical necessity, because private property (meaning the private, dictatorial ownership and control of industry and the entitlement to what others produce by a small minority) is fundamentally immoral and wrong. I am a socialist because the working class, the class that makes up 95% of our population and produces ALL the wealth in our society, is robbed of the fruits of their labor by the capitalist class that does no work of its own, but lives on the labor of others.

I am a socialist because capitalism has proven itself to be wholly incapable of addressing not only these issues, but also the impending climate crisis that will undoubtedly be the end of humanity as we know it if we allow it to continue. I am a socialist because I believe in democracy and I recognize the fact that “democracy” cannot exist when money is allowed in politics, and that our current political system and two parties are wholly owned by corporate interests. I am a socialist because I believe a better world is possible, because I believe we can scientifically and democratically plan the economy to work for the many and not the few.

I am a socialist because I was raised a Christian, and because I was always taught by my parents to have empathy and compassion for the poor and oppressed, for the less fortunate. To be a socialist is to look at the world and say that we as a species can do better than this. It is to look at vast amounts of wealth amongst vast amounts of poverty and to say that this is fundamentally wrong. It is to recognize, as Kropotkin put it, that “everywhere you will find that the wealth of the wealthy springs from the poverty of the poor”. It is to recognize, as Marx put it, that, “The workers have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win!” It is to recognize that capitalism is fundamentally based on exploitation and theft. It is to recognize that the “ethics” of capitalism are opposed to the ethical and moral principles of every single major religion, that the current socioeconomic system we live under is fundamentally immoral. In a word, it is to care about the poor and oppressed.

I am a socialist because I recognize that the early socialist revolutions happened in the least ideal countries, at the least ideal times. I recognize that Marx himself thought that socialism could only succeed in the most advanced capitalist countries first, at the end of capitalist development. I take a favorable view of the Russian Revolution, of the genuine democratic gains by the early Bolsheviks. But I recognize the predicament that these early socialist states faced, and if I was alive at the time, even as a socialist, I’d believe they would likely have failed entirely or degenerated. I am a socialist because I recognize the difference between socialism and Stalinism, between the totalitarian pursuit of an economic system and the system itself. I am a socialist because I can recognize that, as Rosa Luxemburg said, “democracy is indispensable to socialism and socialism is indispensable to democracy”. I am a socialist because our society puts profits before people, and not people before profits.

That, in a nutshell, is why I am a socialist.