To see this visually explained check out this video:
To see this visually explained check out this video:
I recently came across a comment on The Philosophical Salon about the CIA’s deliberate attacks on the intellectual left. It reads “Who supports communism anymore? Those who have never lived the communism”. Now, ignoring the obvious grammatical mistakes in this assertion let me begin to address this person’s concern, and show why it is absolutely preposterous.
People who support communism today actually have read Marx and understand the huge differences between Stalinism and the socioeconomic and political system Marx advocated. People who support communism today understand Marx believed proletarian revolution would come about only once capitalism had reached its peak stage of development in the most advanced countries int eh world first,(say in 30 years) instead of in the poorest country in the world, (1917 Russia) in an isolated revolution which could not support democracy or socialism, (industrial democracy) and where Stalinist bureaucratic degeneration was practically inevitable under such conditions.
Not to say I don’t idealize the October revolution as a general historical event, I most certainly do. What emerged from the October revolution? The writings of Lenin in The State and Revolution could not be implemented in backward Russia, that is a fact. What Lenin did was try to build the foundation on which such a society could eventually come about. This is why Lenin implemented the NEP (New Economic Policy), a system of state-capitalism as a necessary prerequisite to socialism. It was unfortunately cut short by Stalin once he came to power, the multi-party political system which existed up to 1924 (the year of Lenin’s death) was abolished and never returned. Soon the Stalinist bureaucracy emerged and the hopeful embers of October were snuffed out. Marx believed in the inevitability of proletarian revolution in the most advanced capitalist countries at the end of capitalist development, but October was not the revolution Marx foresaw as inevitable, as anyone can clearly see.
“But wasn’t Stalin doing what Marx advocated? Building a Marxist utopia?” Anyone who’s read Marx, or even Lenin’s The State and Revolution can tell you what an absurd statement that is. Let’s look at a few examples. Did the USSR get rid of the military and police force to replace it with armed militias instantly recallable of and by the people? No. Were all elected officials instantly recallable at any time and receive no more than a workman’s wage? No, they weren’t even democratically elected as the necessary preconditions for democracy simply weren’t there. Lenin and Trotsky, before the bureaucratic degeneration of the October revolution, did, however, take no more than a workman’s wage for their role in leading the country. Did the USSR utilize a system where the workers, and not the state had democratic control over enterprise (socialism)? No, it was the state that controlled industry, a form of state-capitalism as a necessary prerequisite to socialism. In essence, the USSR remained staunchly state-capitalist until, as Trotsky would call it, the inevitable dissolution of the Stalinist bureaucracy. Contrary to Stalin’s infamous declaration, any Marxian economist can tell you that the idea of 1930’s Russia having a socialist economic system was preposterous. Should I even mention the genuine worker’s revolts in Hungary, Germany, and Czechoslovakia against the Stalinist system, that aimed at genuine socialism against Stalinism, and not at capitalist restoration against socialism? I could go on and on.
Also to equate Stalinism with communism is such an ignorant thing to say. It’s not too different from equating fascism with capitalism. It is to say this highly authoritarian system which advocated the preservation of capitalism is no different than what capitalism actually is, it is an absolutely absurd statement to say that Stalinism is the same thing as communism. Furthermore, the method to get to communism, as we have stated, is not inherently through this totalitarian system whose sheer brutality and inefficiency we all know too well. In fact, most communists are highly critical of the Stalinist system and its legacy on the left. In Nazi Germany, all national socialists supported what Hiter was doing. His actions were the perfect embodiment of the Nazi ideology. Why then, in the USSR were millions of communists sent to the gulag, deported and killed for saying that Stalin betrayed the revolution, that he betrayed Marxism? Why then did characters like Leon Trotsky, bolsheviks to the core, emerge to condemn the horrific abuses of Stalin’s power? To compare communism with fascism is equally absurd. If you assert such a comparison then I should be able to compare anarchist communism with fascism, right? By your logic, I could compare two ideologies which could not be more opposite as being the same. Fascism is a highly authoritarian form of capitalism, and Stalinism (Marxism-Leninism) is a highly authoritarian form of socialism, moreover of the road to socialism. I won’t say that one is worse than the other, I have no patience for lesser evilism. We have enough of that in the two-party US as we speak. To compare the two, in your mind might make sense, but good lord it couldn’t be more wrong.
Perhaps even more importantly, we are living in the time Marx spoke of, that is- not 1917 but today, what is happening in the world today is exactly what Marx wrote about. He is more relevant now than he ever was in the 20th century. It can be said that the workers have nothing to lose but their chains, now more than ever. They still have a world to win. The time is ripening by the hour. Wealth inequality is higher now than it was in the 1920’s and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down, wages haven’t risen with productivity since the 1970’s, the most brutally efficient capitalists in the world are not in the US, Europe, or Latin American but in China. Democracy and capitalism will be, in the not too distant future, completely incompatible. Everything Marx wrote about the inevitable future of the capitalist system is happening today. So to answer the question, pretty much anyone who reads and understands Marx would see the logic in supporting communism today.
Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to enter into the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. This is absolute, there are no exceptions. You cannot be a kind exploiter or a generous thief. It is one or the other. There is some room for a gray area for the moral, but ineptitude is the state of the moral capitalist. If a capitalist set up his business in a way that attempted to please God he would at once be found insane and made a joke of by his business rivals. It is impossible for such a man to exist. Exploitation is exploitation. There is no generous exploitation, no just injustice. This is absolute. This is not to say people cannot change. For they certainly can, such is the foundation of Christianity. But to continually exploit the poor for personal profit and to serve God at the same time is impossible. This is inseparable from the Christian faith. Christ spoke more of material wealth and greed than anything else. Christianity is supposed to be the religion of the exploited and oppressed, not the exploiter and the oppressor. Let’s take it back to its roots, a religion of radical emancipation of the poor and oppressed.
James Connolly outlines this general sentiment quite well in his work Socialism Made Easy. He does a much better job explaining the necessity of socialism to the Christian faith than I. I have included his section on Religion below:
BUT SOCIALISM IS AGAINST RELIGION. I CAN’T BE A SOCIALIST AND BE A CHRISTIAN.
O, quit your fooling! That talk is all right for those who know nothing of the relations between capital and labor, or are innocent of any knowledge of the processes of modern industry, or imagine that men, in their daily struggles for bread or fortunes, are governed by the Sermon on the Mount.
But between workingmen that talk is absurd. We know that Socialism bears upon our daily life in the workshop, and that religion does not; we know that the man who never set foot in a church in his lifetime will, if he is rich, be more honored by Christian society than the poor man who goes to church every Sunday, and says his prayers morning and evening; we know that the capitalists of all religions pay more for the service of a good lawyer to keep them out of the clutches of the law than for the services of a good priest to keep them out of the clutches of the devil; and we never heard of a capitalist, who, in his business, respected the Sermon on the Mount as much as he did the decisions of the Supreme Court.
These things we know. We also know that neither capitalist nor worker can practice the moral precepts of religion, and without its moral precepts a religion is simply a sham. If a religion cannot enforce its moral teachings upon its votaries it has as little relation to actual life as the pre-election promises of a politician have to legislation.
We know that Christianity teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we also know that if a capitalist attempted to run his business upon that plan his relatives would have no difficulty in getting lawyers, judges and physicians to declare him incompetent to conduct his affairs in the business world.
He would not be half as certain of reaching Heaven in the next world as he would be of getting into the ‘bughouse’ in this.
And, as for the worker. Well, in the fall of 1908, the New York World printed an advertisement for a teamster in Brooklyn, wages to be $12 per week. Over 700 applicants responded. Now, could each of these men love their neighbors in that line of hungry competitors for that pitiful wage?
As each man stood in line in that awful parade of misery could he pray for his neighbor to get the job, and could he be expected to follow up his prayer by giving up his chance, and so making certain the prolongation of the misery of his wife and little ones?
No, my friend, Socialism is a bread and butter question. It is a question of the stomach; it is going to be settled in the factories, mines and ballot boxes of this country and is not going to be settled at the altar or in the church.
This is what our well-fed friends call a ‘base, material standpoint’, but remember that beauty, and genius and art and poetry and all the finer efflorescences of the higher nature of man can only be realized in all their completeness upon the material basis of a healthy body, that not only an army but the whole human race marches upon its stomach, and then you will grasp the full wisdom of our position.
That the question to be settled by Socialism is the effect of private ownership of the means of production upon the well-being of the race; that we are determined to have a straight fight upon the question between those who believe that such private ownership is destructive of human well-being and those who believe it to be beneficial, that as men of all religions and of none are in the ranks of the capitalists, and men of all religions and of none are on the side of the workers the attempt to make religion an issue in the question is an intrusion, an impertinence and an absurdity.
Personally I am opposed to any system wherein the capitalist is more powerful than God Almighty. You need not serve God unless you like, and may refuse to serve him and grow fat, prosperous and universally respected. But if you refuse to serve the capitalist your doom is sealed; misery and poverty and public odium await you.
No worker is compelled to enter a church and to serve God; every worker is compelled to enter the employment of a capitalist and serve him.
As Socialists we are concerned to free mankind from the servitude forced upon them as a necessity of their life; we propose to allow the question of all kinds of service voluntarily rendered to be settled by the emancipated human race of the future.
I do not deny that Socialists often leave the church. But why do they do so? Is their defection from the church a result of our attitude towards religion; or is it the result of the attitude of the church and its ministers toward Socialism?
Let us take a case in point, one of those cases that are being paralleled every day in our midst. An Irish Catholic joins the Socialist movement. He finds that as a rule the Socialist men and women are better educated than their fellows; he finds that they are immensely cleaner in speech and thought than are the adherents of capitalism in the same class; that they are devoted husbands and loyal wives, loving and cheerful fathers and mothers, skilful and industrious workers in the shops and office, and that although poor and needy as a rule, yet that they continually bleed themselves to support their cause, and give up for Socialism what many others spend in the saloon.
He finds that a drunken Socialist is as rare as a white black-bird, and that a Socialist of criminal tendencies is such a rara avis that when one is found the public press heralds it forth as a great discovery.
Democratic and republican jailbirds are so common that the public press do not regard their existence as ‘news’ to anybody, nor yet does the public press think it necessary to say that certain criminals belong to the Protestant or Catholic religions. That is nothing unusual, and therefore not worth printing. But a criminal Socialist – that would be news indeed!
Our Irish Catholic Socialist gradually begins to notice these things. He looks around and he finds the press full of reports of crimes, murders, robberies, bank swindlers, forgeries, debauches, gambling transactions, and midnight orgies in which the most revolting indecencies are perpetrated. He investigates and he discovers that the perpetrators of these crimes were respectable capitalists, pillars of society, and red-hot enemies of Socialism, and that the dives in which the highest and the lowest meet together in a saturnalia of vice contribute a large proportion of the campaign funds of the capitalist political parties.
Some Sunday he goes to Mass as usual, and he finds that at Gospel the priest launches out into a political speech and tells the congregation that the honest, self-sacrificing, industrious, clean men and women, whom he calls ‘comrades,’ are a wicked, impious, dissolute sect, desiring to destroy the home, to distribute the earnings of the provident among the idle and lazy of the world, and reveling in all sorts of impure thoughts about women.
And as this Irish Catholic Socialist listens to this foul libel, what wonder if the hot blood of anger rushes to his face, and he begins to believe that the temple of God has itself been sold to the all desecrating grasp of the capitalist?
While he is yet wondering what to think of the matter, he hears that his immortal soul will be lost if he fails to vote for capitalism, and he reflects that if he lined up with the brothel keepers, gambling house proprietors, race track swindlers, and white slave traders to vote the capitalist ticket, this same priest would tell him he was a good Catholic and loyal son of the church.
At such a juncture the Irish Catholic Socialist often rises up, goes out of the church and wipes its dust off his feet forever. Then we are told that Socialism took him away from the church. But did it? Was it not rather the horrible spectacle of a priest of God standing up in the Holy Presence lying about and slandering honest men and women, and helping to support political parties whose campaign fund in every large city represents more bestiality than ever Sodom and Gomorrah knew?
These are the things that drive Socialists from the church, and the responsibility for every soul so lost lies upon those slanderers and not upon the Socialist movement.
For more Connolly check out: Marxist.net (CWI source)
Also, there is a section on Marxists.org
In Trump’s Address to the Joint Session of Congress, he declared that he created an institution for the ‘Victims of illegal immigration’. In light of the evidence, I must ask: What kind of bullshit xenophobic garbage is this? It’s actually proven that Illegal Immigrants commit less violent crimes than ordinary U.S. citizens. But in a world of ‘alternative facts’, I suppose this isn’t too much of a surprise. They are being scapegoated for our countries problems, but most of us know they are entirely not to blame.
Trump says we can solve poverty by addressing violence. But this is an entirely backward analysis. Anti-social behavior is a result of poverty. Even Aristotle spoke of poverty being the “parent of crime”. That is why the poor are disproportionately more violent. Violence doesn’t cause poverty, poverty causes violence. Now, if you want to address the root cause of poverty in the world today it’s people like Trump, billionaires and multi-millionaire capitalists who live off the labor of others. Those in poverty entirely make up “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.”(Engels, 42). And people like Trump live off their labor alone, amounting ‘their’ billions. His vast wealth is solely due to the poverty of the poor.
Trump makes grand statements of national solidarity, prosperity, liberty and democracy. But these are false slogans, they cannot and will not exist as anything more than an empty slogan in our present society. His use of bringing in the families of the ‘victims of illegal immigrants’ and of fallen soldiers is but a pathetic means to an end. The people will not be free so long as they live under a dictatorship of the rich (or as Marx called a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie), under a dictatorship of two capitalist parties who are ideologically identical in nature. The oligarchy of the property owning class is the only institution in our society that actively holds all formal political power, its power is derived from the two-party system that people are ideologically compelled to participate in. In this way, the cycle of oppression can be celebrated as ‘democracy’. Poverty can be celebrated as a ‘free choice’ even if it is practically forced upon its subjects.
People like Trump are the problem, not illegal immigrants and certainly not other countries whose labor people like Trump exploit! I think it’s high time that the workers of America unite to build their own party, to smash the fetters of the false democracy, of the two-party system, and of the capitalist state. To take back what is rightfully theirs and solemnly declare that “labor creates the world, labor is entitled to all it creates!”
3 Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels ☭
Immigrant workers may work harder than natives. But only because their conditions of exploitation are much worse. We must never forget this fact. They must own the farms they work. The land belongs to those who till it! They must have a democratic say in their workplaces. The factories and businesses belong to those who toil within them! In essence, the world belongs to those who do labor, for there would be no world at all without labor. And yes, the slums and apartments, the homes and dwellings of the people belong to those who live within them! Not to the banks, not to the landlords, not to the capitalists. No! They belong to the people! We must not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, creed, gender, and yes, or of nationality! We shall say to the capitalist that they too much work and actively contribute to society, no longer shall they live off the labor and toil of others. No longer shall they be entitled to what other people produce, but that they themselves must work. Compensation shall be paid on the basis of proven need of small investors, of small capitalists, not millionaires. The Large industries are to be immediately brought into public ownership and democratic management of the working class. The right to inherit private property shall be abolished and thereby small businesses will be brought into the ownership of the working class upon the death of the owner/s, or by the sale of the company to the workers. I wholeheartedly believe that the people of the world will not be free until they own everything from the farms, restaurants, and factories to the stars!
When we look at the world today we do not see a very pretty picture. European social democracy isn’t doing so well and its economic crisis is worsened by the immigration crisis and with it the reactionary response among the more conservative elements of European society. Indeed European society is in a crisis unforeseen in the world today. The immigration crisis on top of that is unprecedented, and the solution to this problem is impossible without issues.
Anyone who asserts the immigration crisis can simply be solved entirely by some kind of ‘peaceful integration’ is a fool. Such things are not so easy, there will always be a clash of cultures like oil and water. But by no means is it acceptable for a state responsible for bombing a countries people to turn them down when they seek refuge. It is morally wrong. It is unjust. We must let them in, it is our duty as citizens of the earth! We must let them in allow them their dignity and right to exist! But we must also acknowledge the problems that inevitably arise in mixing two cultures together in such a rapid way. It is impossible to ignore their backward customs, regarding women in particular.
On one hand, you have liberals advocating that full integration will have no problems and on the other, you have conservatives such as Milo and Trump advocating total exclusion (i.e. ‘extreme vetting’, nationalism, etc.) on the basis of religion or nationality. Both are absurd notions even if their initial premise is based on a kernel of truth.
The Future of Capitalism
Slavoj Žižek in his book Trouble in Paradise makes a good argument for the state of the world today. I am admittedly inspired by this work in this regard. It is an eye-opening look at world events today. Let’s look at the 4 great forces of capitalism in the world today. European social democracy is collapsing, US neoliberalism is in an era of seemingly permanent recession and Latin America’s capitalism isn’t doing so much better either. The only capitalism that is working in the world today in Asia, is the so-called ‘capitalism with Asian values’. It is highly authoritarian in nature and totally incompatible with democracy, and because of its success in comparison with the other 3 prevailing versions of capitalism, it is undeniably the future of the capitalist system. The two principles of democracy and of capitalism have always been contradictory, but their total divorce is inevitable as capitalist society progresses. Slavoj Žižek has taken on the role of the social alarmist in this regard, and rightfully so.
Slavoj Žižek makes another valid point in posing the question: Who has the must brutally efficient, successful capitalism? It is none other than the kind advocated by the Communist Party of China. What irony is this? In China, it is illegal to point out this contradiction, that the CPC still justifies itself on a Marxist line yet fully embraces a total bureaucratic dictatorship and a virtual dictatorship of the foreign and domestic bourgeoisie. It is even illegal to point out that it is illegal to point out this contradiction. So many intellectuals, thinkers, and socialists have been imprisoned for breaking this, which is one of many, unspoken rules of Chinese society.
People often hit me with this question, “what about China? You are a socialist so you must support the Chinese one-party dictatorship, Stalin, Mao, etc.” But this is absolute nonsense. I am a member of Socialist Alternative yes, and it is a Marxist organization. But not a Marxist-Leninist organization. We are Trotskyists, and as such we are militantly opposed to Stalinism. We are also militantly opposed to a one-party state. Contrary to common belief you will not find a single page written by Lenin that advocates such a one-party system. In fact, up to 1924 in Russia, there were several mainstream political parties (the Left-Mensheviks, Anarchists, Social-Revolutionaries, etc.).
Worse still you accuse us, the most vocal opponents of totalitarianism and Stalinism of advocating the very things we are militantly and vocally opposed to. Socialist Alternative is part of the CWI, the Committee for a Workers International. It is an international Trotskyist organization and it just so happens that our Chinese counterparts have recently been illegally raided by the Chinese authorities for calling for an abolition of the Chinese dictatorship. Yes! In China, our organization’s counterpart has advocated the overthrow of the Chinese government you so fervently accuse us of supporting because we just so happen to fly the red banner.
Who supported the early worker’s revolts in Soviet Hungary, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia? It was us, the Trotskyists advocating the overthrow of Stalinism and the establishment of actual socialist democracy! 95% of the population, of the proletariat, was opposed to the Stalinist state during this time. They were calling not for the reestablishment of capitalism against socialism, but for socialism against Stalinism! Yes, it was we who supported their efforts, yes it was we who abhorred the lack of free speech, general elections, the lack of freedom of press and assembly, the religious persecution, and the one-party system that was the foundation of Stalinism in the USSR and the Marxist states of the 20th century! So how can we help but laugh when you accuse us of advocating these things? It is nonsense, total nonsense!
When you think of the American two-party system as a dialectic, only then does the realization of total political class servitude enter into the mind. In American society the liberal “left” and conservative right is designed to act as the thesis and anti-thesis of this dialectic. So that the only viable outcome (the synthesis) is the result of a conflict of these two ideologies, which are inherently favorable the same capitalist ideology of both the synthesis and anti-synthesis. There are fundamental issues of grave importance that are not discussed in the two party system, as any socialist can tell you.
In order to have free will, there has to be a recollection between these two sides (the synthesis). You have to pick a side to influence change in the political sphere. But in the two-party system, this is an intentionally limited paradigm so that the only conclusions one can come to in mainstream politics is one that reinforces the existing social order, and this synthesis can do nothing but. This is the dialectic of the two party system. There are those of us who do not fit into this two-party dialectic (we socialists in particular). For those of us who do not fit into the two-party system, it is our duty to do away with it entirely by introducing a rogue variable into the political sphere that will smash it entirely. This is our call to the working class.
The two-party system is but an illusion of free will and democracy. The two parties are nothing but toys of the ruling class, which when politicized in bourgeois society (as it always is) becomes an oligarchy. To quote the question posed by one of my favorite early Marxists, Ernest Untermann, “Has history not taught us that mere political democracy without industrial democracy amounts to virtual oligarchy in practice?” This oligarchy supports both parties because they both support the interests of the oligarchy and thereby of the ruling class.
As Engels says in his 1891 work The Civil War in France, “It is precisely in America that we see best how there takes place this process of the state power making itself independent in relation to society, whose mere instrument it was originally intended to be. Here there exists no dynasty, no nobility, no standing army, beyond the few men keeping watch on the Indians, no bureaucracy with permanent posts or the right to pensions. and nevertheless we find here two great gangs of political speculators, who alternately take possession of the state power and exploit it by the most corrupt means and for the most corrupt ends* — and the nation is powerless against these two great cartels of politicians, who are ostensibly its servants, but in reality exploit and plunder it.”
There is virtually no difference between this system of limited, truncated and false “democracy” and a one party state except for this illusion of choice. And I by no means am advocating a one-party system. The only solutions that can be found for the problems we face today on a large scale are wholly outside the two-party system, for the bourgeoisie itself (acting through this two-party system) is wholly responsible for creating and maintaining these problems on a massive scale, for producing the problems of capitalist society which are innumerable. The synthesis of the dialectic will only ever solidify the rule of the oligarchy, the reign of the ruling class. The synthesis may address feeble problems that concern this ruling class’s hold on power but never will it threaten that power directly, even in circumstances of dire emergency.
Has this not, on the other hand, brought us many progressive reforms to the capitalist system? Indeed it has, but at the same time, there are problems posed by the very capitalist system itself, fundamental problems that threaten our very existence, that cannot be solved but by the abolition of the capitalist system entirely. These are the problems of homelessness, poverty, hunger, the anarchy of production, vast wealth inequality, alienation, unhappiness, climate change, imperialism, imperialist war, capitalist exploitation itself, lack of real political democracy, total lack of any real industrial democracy, the crippling of the individual, of individual liberty and creative expression, etc. Sure they can put band-aids on these issues to soften their blow, or dazzle them with grand words of liberty and duty but in the end, they cannot solve these problems inside the capitalist system. For when capitalism is abolished there will be nothing pushing back on such reforms, these problems can be addressed directly without challenging the fundamental nature of the prevailing socio-economic system. In fact, socialism demands these problems be solved immediately and without hesitation. There is no conflict of interest in pursuing these issues absolutely and without excuse under a socialist system. And for these grave evils, there certainly is no acceptable excuse to be made in addressing them.
This, my friends, is why at Socialist Alternative we call for a new party of the 99%. A party that will not be a part of this dialectic, nor part of a three-party dialectic of the same nature (if you can imagine such a thing). It will be wholly outside the scope of the action of this oligarchy, and thereby it will directly threaten its power. Thus it forms a new dialectic between the 99% and the 1% directly. The interests of the majority and of the bourgeoisie go head to head against one another. This new party is but a step in our transitional program (see Trotsky’s Transitional Program). We at Socialist Alternative do not claim to be this party, nor do we want to be. We call on the working class itself to unify in struggle and build it themselves! We simply wish to be a leading force in guiding this party, the party of the 99%, towards total liberation. This is not to say that this party will by any means lead directly to some sort of revolutionary struggle, but rather that it will unify the proletarian masses to allow for such a dialectic to exist in a much more powerfull way. The synthesis of a unified, class-conscious proletariat and the bourgeoisie can be only in what Marx would call “the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions”, in the establishment of absolute and genuine democracy, for true liberty and equality for all. And that my friends, is the end of capitalism.
* My Italics -TFB