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For my fellow text-only browser users (or the visually impaired), the top banner says "Red Liberty; Socialism or Barbarism, Liberty or Death! (Formerly known as Thought Foundry Blog)". The immediate above image says "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. -Elie Wiesel"

(Jump to article on page)

Latest posts (towards the top) tend to represent my actual present views much more so than the older ones. Some of the writing and ideas are still good. But generally I consider them to be immature. I have included images here only when they are necessary to fully comprehend the article. On the clearnet site I usually include an image with every post, but since this is all one page I have kept images to a minimum, and in the case of Freenet I have eliminated nearly all of them.

Table of Contents:

Table of Contents

The Seeds of An Idea: All Men Are Brothers

Getting From Zero To Hero With I2P and Tor Browser on Debian/Ubuntu: A How To

An Open Letter To The Youth: To Prevent Future Regrets and Save The World

Bicycle Day: The Psychedelic Experience, God, and the Future of LSD

A Review of The Russian TV Series Троцкий (Trotsky): Historical Negationism At Its Finest

Why I Changed the Name of The Blog to Red Liberty

European Police Congress Calls For Banning of Tor! Democracy Dies in Darkness!

The Small Increase In US Military Budget Between 2015 and 2019 Alone Was Enough To Abolish World Hunger AND Homelessness in The US

To "Break up" Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple? No! To Democratize Them? Yes! A Reply To Elizabeth Warren

Shameless Utopia: Wild Speculations On The Year 3019

An Open Letter To The Cuban People On The New Constitution

The Need For The People To Invoke Their Right To Amend or Rewrite The Constitution

What Can Rojava Learn From The Hacker Community?

Thoughts On “The Media” and “Fake News”

Don’t Let Rojava Become Another Yemen! Contact Your Representatives To Defend Our Kurdish Allies!

In Defense of Positive Liberty

Sympathy With The Super-Villains

A Critique of Post-Structuralism’s Rejection of “Grand Narratives” and The Need For A “Post-Post-Structuralism”

Rethinking Marxism In The 21st Century: Turning Marxism Back On It’s Head

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE SAY, “REAL SOCIALISM/ COMMUNISM HAS NEVER BEEN TRIED”? AND ARE THEY RIGHT?

Rethinking Marxism In The 21st Century: Turning Marxism Back On It’s Head

Why The Left Should Stand Against The Corporate Censorship of Alex Jones

My Thoughts on What The Distant Future Can and Should Look Like

Marxism Against The Conversion of Marxism Into a Political Religion

An Open Letter To Kim Jong Un

What Makes Stalinist State Terror Different From Leninism and Jacobinism?

A Marxist’s Defense of Privacy in The Age of Mass Surveillance

Why Every Activist Should Use a VPN/Tor and Oppose Mass Surveillance

Historical Justice For The Crimes of a People’s Ancestors. To What Degree it Justice?

“Turn To Him The Other Cheek Also” An Essay on Liberation Theology

Democratic Centralism: Great Under Capitalism, Not So Great Under Socialism

America Only Has A Criminal ‘Injustice’ System

HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF MODERN SOCIETY: THE REVOLUTION

Against Christian Fundamentalism

Briefly on the unspoken rule regarding torture and Trump’s disregarding of it

Why I am a Socialist

Pope Francis on Christianity and Communism, and my views as a Christian and a Communist

A criticism of the Stalinist “one-party state”. If the working class is not free to oppose it, then the working class is not truly in power!

Lenin On Imperialism, On Exploitation In Our Country and Abroad

“Does not caring about politics make me a bad person?” No, it does not.

On that age old question of existence, part 2

On existence, an answer to the question of “Why does something exist instead of nothing?”

Briefly, In Praise of Lenin

Socialism, Capitalist Exploitation, and Innovation Under Socialism

Briefly, On the Sacred Nature of Literature : Books Are Thought Traps!

The Seeds of An Idea: All Men Are Brothers

June 12, 2019

There is this thing I've had for a long time now, the seed of an idea not yet fully formed. When I try to put it on paper it comes out all wrong. When I try to connect the dots in the way my spirit understands, it comes out all wrong. It's something deep inside me, this I know. It's intangible, indescribable, a knowledge of a universal brotherhood and kinship of all humankind, as cheesy as it sounds. It's like a fire that in spite of whatever happens to me, whatever I feel or think or experience, cannot be extinguished. And put here now, not even death can put it out. I know of many things both good and evil, and the darkness of the human soul is not able to deter my beliefs. It's an amalgam of radically different, often seemingly contradictory aims and ideals that, when put together, form something, or begin to form something beautiful. It's a raw selection from different books, movies, essays, and TV shows. Now, I am putting this here to elaborate on later. For a post on Red Liberty I am aware it is quite disorganized.

Reds (1981)

Describing Jack Reed: "He took a tremendous jump forward from there on. He became a revolutionist on the workers' side, and he had no more illusions about people like Wilson. We all have problems. You can't escape having problems, don't you know? But to take on the problem of all humanity, to save all humanity, my God, that was too big even for Jesus Christ. Don't you know he got himself crucified? How the hell do we expect to do those things?"

Eugene V. Debs

A hard-bitten socialist told me once, "Gene Debs is the only one who can get away with the sentimental flummery that's been tied onto Socialism in this country. Pretty nearly always it gives me a swift pain to go around to meetings and have people call me 'comrade.' That's a lot of bunk. But the funny part of it is that when Debs says 'comrade' it is all right. He means it. That old man with the burning eyes actually believes that there can be such a thing as the brotherhood of man. And that's not the funniest part of it. As long as he's around I believe it myself." -Heywood Broun, quoting an unnamed socialist in It Seems To Me, 1925-1935 (1935), p. 38

Star Trek: The Original Series (Bread and Circuses, S02E25)

[Prison]

(Spock and McCoy carry Flavius into a cell.)

KIRK: Tell Merikus I'd like to see him.

MAXIMUS: The first citizen? Why would he bother with arena bait like you?

KIRK: Tell him it's Jim Kirk. Perhaps a friend.

MAXIMUS: Perhaps?

KIRK: Well, if I am a friend and you don't tell him, do you really want to risk that?

(They are locked in and left alone. McCoy tends to Flavius's head wound.)

KIRK: But if there have been slaves for over 2,000 years, hasn't there always been discontent, runaways?

FLAVIUS: Long ago there were rebellions, but they were suppressed. And with each century, the slaves acquired more rights under the law. They received rights to medicine, the right to government payments in their old age, and they slowly learned to be content.

SPOCK: Even more fascinating. Slavery evolving into an institution with guaranteed medical payments, old-age pensions.

MCCOY: Quite logical, I'd say, Mister Spock. Just as it's logical that twentieth-century Rome would use television to show its gladiator contests or name a new car the Jupiter Eight.

SPOCK: Doctor, if I were able to show emotion, your new infatuation with that term would begin to annoy me.

MCCOY: What term? Logic? Medical men are trained in logic, Mister Spock.

SPOCK: Really, Doctor, I had no idea they were trained. Watching you, I assumed it was trial and error.

FLAVIUS: Are they enemies, Captain?

KIRK: I'm not sure they're sure. When the slaves began to worship the sun, they became discontent again. When did all this happen?

FLAVIUS: Long ago. Perhaps as long ago as the beginning of the empire. The message of the sun, that all men are brothers, was kept from us. Perhaps I'm a fool to believe it. It does often seem that man must fight to live.

KIRK: You go on believing it, Flavius. All men are brothers.

(The guards return.)

...

> [Bridge]

KIRK: And strong personal feelings, he obeyed the Prime Directive. His temporary blackout of the city below resulted in no interference with the society and yet saved the lives of myself and the landing party.

SCOTT: Thank you, Captain.

(Scott leaves as McCoy and Spock enter the Bridge.)

KIRK: Gentlemen.

MCCOY: Captain, I see on your report Flavius was killed. I am sorry. I liked that huge sun worshiper.

SPOCK: I wish we could have examined that belief of his more closely. It seems illogical for a sun worshiper to develop a philosophy of total brotherhood. Sun worship is usually a primitive superstition religion.

UHURA: I'm afraid you have it all wrong, Mister Spock, all of you. I've been monitoring some of their old-style radio waves, the empire spokesman trying to ridicule their religion. But he couldn't. Don't you understand? It's not the sun up in the sky. It's the Son of God.

KIRK: Caesar and Christ. They had them both. And the word is spreading only now.

MCCOY: A philosophy of total love and total brotherhood.

SPOCK: It will replace their imperial Rome, but it will happen in their twentieth century.

KIRK: Wouldn't it be something to watch, to be a part of? To see it happen all over again? Mister Chekov, take us out of orbit. Ahead warp factor one.

CHEKOV: Aye, sir.

The Sunshine Makers (2015)

"I went to Billy Hitchcock and asked him whether he had ideas for a distribution channel. Because Billy had all kinds of social contacts, all over the psychedelic scene. And he introduced me to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, also known as the Hippie Mafia."

"The mafia rules by fear. The Brotherhood ruled by love. LSD made freethinkers out of people. The grip that all governments have on people was going to probably end. I know it sounds ridiculously naive. But if you've ever sat and really seen the golden light, and really went deep inside yourself... it ain't all that far out."

"They were actually stickup men. And they all dropped acid. And they threw their pistols away. And they said, we're going to form the Brotherhood of Love. And we'll be working with psychedelics and we won't be sticking up people anymore. Our aim was to turn the world on."

God is Love

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:7-8

See also:

Patriotism A Menace to Liberty, an essay by Emma Goldman (http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/anarchist_archives/goldman/aando/patriotism.html)

Getting From Zero To Hero With I2P and Tor Browser on Debian/Ubuntu: A How To

June 9, 2019

This post is released under the GNU Free Documentation License Version 1.3

Usually this blog is about social issues, activism, politics, and so forth. But this post is a little different.

You may be asking yourself, "What is I2P? Why is Red Liberty (a political blog) suddenly giving tech tutorials?" Well, I will explain what I2P is in a minute, but in my spare time I, a computer nerd, like to contribute to the I2P project. Now, my interest in the I2P project is not entirely apolitical, but unlike most of the posts on this blog the politics of it are not necessarily left-wing, and they are not necessarily right-wing either. If anything they are merely anti-authoritarian. It's something for everyone regardless of political views, with the exception of those who hold the totalitarian view that such technologies should not exist at all. If anything, it is pro-freedom, something I hope everyone can agree with regardless of their own opinions on my own political activities over the past few years.

At the very bottom of this post is a condensed "no explanations, humor, or chit-chat" version of this guide for the I2P installer in a hurry.

Now what is I2P? You may be asking. According to the project website, "The I2P network provides strong privacy protections for communication over the Internet. Many activities that would risk your privacy on the public Internet can be conducted anonymously inside I2P." I2P is a lot like Tor, where Tor is better for anonymizing ordinary (clearnet) internet connections and I2P is better for location hidden services, but both networks do a bit of both. Now what is Tor? Tor's website says "Browse Privately. Explore Freely. Defend yourself against tracking and surveillance. Circumvent censorship." I hope you are starting to get the idea. I2P is like the internet, but it's privacy respecting and anonymous by default. You can access websites on the I2P network (called eepsites) and you don't know where geographically the eepsite (location hidden service) is located, and the website doesn't know who you are or where you are (unless you tell them). Outside observers likewise don't know what you are doing on the network, all they know is you are running I2P. Naturally I advise looking into the I2P threat model for more info as to what a powerful adversary can see, but generally it's just encrypted traffic. Unlike with Tor, pretty much every I2P user routes traffic for other users in order to make tracing the whole path of a communication extremely difficult, which in my opinion is how the internet should be.

In the United States and Europe people might call this a "darknet", and they aren't wrong. But in my view I2P and Tor, darknets though they are, get an unnecessarily bad rep. A darknet is like a hammer, it's a tool. You can use a hammer to build your neighbor a house or to bash their brains in. The tool is not good or bad on its own, it depends on how it is used. Though I would argue the tool in question must exist for free society as such, to exist. In authoritarian countries the "darknet" isn't given a bad rep at all, it's a place where people can think and speak and read freely without the government knowing who they are or what they are doing. To whistleblowers, even to law enforcement and the intelligence community, to journalists, dissidents, activists, students, oppressed minorities (like LGBT+ youths and religious minorities), and ordinary people the world over, these tools are vital in protecting their privacy, anonymity, and personal safety. I have written previously on my own views, how I believe that privacy in the digital age is one of the only real prerequisites to the very existence of civil liberty in our era because as Rosa Luxemburg once said, "freedom is always the freedom of the dissenters, of the one who thinks differently", and one cannot possibly be free if they are being observed and recorded by the powers that be at all times (looking at you NSA). Freedom depends on privacy, and without privacy, we are lost. Tools like I2P I consider to be a safe-guard to the preservation of the fourth amendment in practice, and the rights it embodies in the digital age. Regardless of the reasons, ideological or otherwise, a diverse group of people use these technologies and I personally prefer I2P.

If you like privacy, you'll like I2P. I don't have time to deconstruct the bullshit arguments of "I have nothing to hide so I have nothing to fear" (actually from Mussolini's famous quote "if you have nothing you hide you have nothing to fear") or the other arguments against privacy. You should check I2P out even if you are skeptical of my arguments, even if you don't think you have any use for it. Even if you are using Windows or a Mac (though not fully applicable to this tutorial) you should still check it out. Activists especially (who read my blog more than the previously mentioned groups) would benefit from I2P. I have used all the "darknets" that are often used today and I2P is by far my favorite.

BEFORE WE BEGIN

It's recently occurred to me, as a contributor to the Invisible Internet Project (I2P), that getting from zero to hero in I2P isn't as easy for others as it was for me. See, I read the technical documents before installing I2P, for the average person installing I2P and setting it up to work flawlessly may seem a bit like solving a rubix cube. I2P has great documentation, but not everyone takes the time to read this documentation. But fear not! Installing and configuring I2P is actually quite simple and straightforward. That is why I decided to write this guide for installing and configuring I2P on Debian based GNU/Linux distributions (that includes Ubuntu and Whonix). This should work on other GNU/Linux distributions as well, though keep in mind 'apt' is not the default package manager on many non-Debian based GNU/Linux distributions and packages may have different names.

Naturally we are going to be using Tor Browser with I2P for this guide as it is a hardened version of Firefox already configured to address numerous security vulnerabilities capable of compromising your anonymity (something important when we are using an anonymous network). This tutorial does work with Whonix-workstation (see https://www.whonix.org/wiki/I2P) however more hops does not necessarily mean greater anonymity/ security and I2P will be very slow, not to mention the fact that you will be leeching off of the network which is generally bad. If you really do want to use I2P over Tor because you are THAT paranoid, check out the above link as the following steps are applicable to most Debian based GNU/Linux distributions, but not to Whonix specifically.

Prerequisites

This guide assumes:

-You are running Linux (not Windows or macOS)

-You have the latest version of Java installed

(You can get this from Oracle's website or you can get an older but still supported version of Java with 'apt-get install default-jdk' as root)

-You have Tor Browser Bundle installed or existing as an executable in a directory

(You can get this from https://torproject.org, Whonix-workstation comes with Tor Browser installed)

INITIAL INSTALL

There are two ways to install I2P in Debian, the first is to use the Java executable file (found here: https://geti2p.org/en/download) available on the website which should work for all Linux distributions (not just Debian based ones), the second is to add the I2P repository to sources.list.d automatically by following the on-site instructions (found here: https://geti2p.net/en/download/debian) and to install it that way. This will work for Debian and Ubuntu and their derivative distributions (including Whonix-workstation). It really doesn't matter HOW you install them but for the sake of simplicity we are going to be using the regular .jar installer in this tutorial.

You can download the necessary .jar file for I2P from https://geti2p.org/en/download Be sure to verify the checksum. The latest version of I2P as of writing is 0.9.40 and the file is i2pinstall_0.9.40.jar with a SHA256 of: b5dac73d1683ebfa9b58475c2dddc6ffc40efa6622278d133688af73db428381. You can check the checksum by typing into terminal:

sha256 /path/to/i2pinstall_0.9.40.jar

and pressing enter (after you have downloaded the file, of course). The string of letters and numbers should be identical to the string posted above (the same one on the I2P website). For the insanely paranoid you should also grab the signing key for zzz (found under the Help menu under Verify I2P here: https://geti2p.net/_static/zzz.key.asc) from another source (like a different computer/connection) to ensure your copy of I2P is genuine with a tin-foil hat on. All versions are signed with this key. You can also freely examine the source code for I2P, which is always reassuring.

If you opt for a straight Debian/Ubuntu package follow the instructions here (https://geti2p.net/en/download/debian) otherwise we will continue with the Java install (once I2P is installed it really doesn't matter which method was used unless you plan on running I2P as a daemon in which case the Debian/Ubuntu package is preferable).

To run the .jar file all you have to do is open up a terminal and type:

java -jar /path/to/i2pinstall_0.9.40.jar

and it should take you through a graphical installer. Remember where you installed it as we will use this later. Do not do this as root unless you know what you are doing as I2P doesn't require escalated privileges to run.

CONFIGURING TOR BROWSER

To get I2P to run inside Tor Browser a number of default browser plugins have to be disabled. There is a way to get Tor Browser to run over both I2P and the Tor network interchangeably using FoxyProxy however since installing additional add-ons to Tor Browser alters the browser fingerprint this is inadvisable as it makes you stand out. I personally haven't used FoxyProxy so I cannot vouch for it. The I2P Laboratory (https://geti2p.net/en/download/lab) also boasts an experimental "I2P Browser" based on Tor Browser however this is still "proof-of-concept" alpha software and likewise inadvisable for use where security is critical. This is why we are tweaking classic Tor Browser for this tutorial, we are assuming your threat model is higher than that of the average consumer.

With Tor fired up head over to the browser configuration guide on the I2P website which you can find here (https://geti2p.net/en/about/browser-config). The initial changes we will be making to Tor Browser's proxy settings are identical to the changes mentioned in the documentation for Firefox's proxy settings (since Tor Browser is based on Firefox), so follow the guide and change those settings!

Next we need to disable several add-ons that come default in Tor Browser, so head over to Add-ons Manager (reached by clicking the 3 bars on the top right of the Browser window and going to Add-ons or going to: about:addons) and disable HTTPS Everywhere, TorButton, and TorLauncher. Obviously we don't need to connect to the Tor network as we are connecting to I2P instead. NoScript actually has valid security applications while browsing I2P so we will keep it enabled, and we will enable 'Safest' security settings by clicking the shield icon in the browser menu, though we will be relying on NoScript and disabling JavaScript at the browser level. Most eepsites (the term used to describe I2P hidden services) do not use HTTPS even though such a feature is optionally configurable by eepsite admins such as myself. Like with Onions (the term used to describe Tor hidden services), HTTPS is not really necessary as the network provides end-to-end encryption by default. The browser will ask to restart after disabling add-ons, so go ahead and restart the browser.

Note: The one caveat of this setup is Tor Browser updates. Updating the browser is possible, but requires resetting the proxy settings to their defaults and re-enabling the disabled plugins. Naturally updating is highly advisable as this minimizes the possibility of browser exploits being executed on your machine. It is, nonetheless, quite annoying, a necessary trade-off of convenience for security. The same is true on Whonix however the 'Tor Browser Downloader' application should mitigate some of this annoyance, it will however reset what browser modifications you have made replacing your tweaked Tor Browser with a fresh one.

FIRING IT UP AND GETTING I2P READY TO GO

If you opted to install I2P through the Debian/Ubuntu package, all you have to do is run 'i2prouter start' in a terminal. Though please do not run this as root! Otherwise head over to where your I2P folder is and look for a file called 'i2prouter'. Okay now this is really complicated, you ready? Drag that file into a terminal window or paste it's path and type ' start' after it, press enter. Usually it looks something like this:

/home/username/i2p/i2prouter start

This is high tech hacker stuff, I know. I2P should start and open up in your default browser which USUALLY isn't Tor Browser, and that's okay! Copy the address it opened, by default that's 127.0.0.1:7657/home into Tor Browser and hit enter. Now you can browse the Invisible Internet. But wait, we're not done yet!

Do you really want to copy and paste that EVERY TIME you start I2P? I didn't think so. Copy that address and press those 3 little bars again, this time go into preferences (or type about:preferences into the address bar). The default Home page is usually set to about:tor (BORING!) so paste that address into that text box and hit enter. Now the I2P router console is your home page! Congrats!

Recommended: If security is your goal, as it probably is if you are reading this guide, then setting the security level to safest is good (by clicking the shield icon and going into Advanced Security Settings), but sometimes a really hard fail-safe is better. Type about:config into the address bar and hit enter. Accept the risks of the scary warning and just start tinkering with stuff you don't understand (KIDDING!), but seriously, type 'javascript.enabled' and hit enter into the search bar. By default that's set to true, double click it and it will become false. Now Javascript is disabled at the browser level, this may break some eepsites but if you are extremely paranoid this is advisable.

BROWSING EEPSITES

"So that's it then? I can just go to thesiteineed.i2p and that's that?"

No! Similar to the clearnet (normal internet), I2P uses DNS (domain name services) to associate IP addresses (essentially public keys in I2P, not IP addresses so don't worry) with human readable .i2p domain names. But if all those fancynames.i2p were centralized all an attacker would have to do is take over that part of the network and the whole thing would be in shambles! That's why I2P DNS services are decentralized! The bad news is you have to "subscribe" to DNS service providers, the good news is this is pretty straight-forward. I have provided here a list of popular I2P DNS providers. This is straight from my personal list that I have added to over the years so enjoy. You can get to the "add subscriptions" part of the I2P router console by going to 127.0.0.1:7657/susidns/subscriptions or you can do what I like to do and type some random giberish294ieiefjeifj.i2p and then click "add some subscriptions" and go over to "subscriptions" to get to the list (a quick hack to get to this page).

By default you should have:

http://i2p-projekt.i2p/hosts.txt

Now, we want to add to that list so we can get ALL the eepsites and not just a hand-picked few. Just copy and paste what I have down here into that box and hit "save".

Add these:

http://identiguy.i2p/hosts.txt

http://inr.i2p/export/alive-hosts.txt

http://no.i2p/export/alive-hosts.txt

http://stats.i2p/cgi-bin/newhosts.txt

http://reg.rus.i2p/public/a-hosts.txt

http://skank.i2p/static/hosts.txt

Now the first 4 are the standard "you really want these to work" providers, the latter 2 are optional. Once you have that your fancyname.i2p (obviously not a real eepsite) address should work. Now the hostnames.i2p are one way to access a site, but base32 (B32) addresses (longrandomstrings.b32.i2p) also work. There are also address helper links (ADH) that you can click to associate a B32 address with a readable_name.i2p for your addressbook (personal DNS accumulated through various DNS providers or super secret groups you are a part of) and those are helpful, and there are also "jump services" offered by identiguy.i2p and inr.i2p among others, basically a "I know the name of a website.i2p but don't have it in my addressbook so please help me find it". Let's say you want to find totallynotdrugs.i2p (these aren't real eepsites) but you don't have it in your addressbook and you want to get to the website associated publicly with that domain name. inr.i2p offers such a service, and you can go to inr.i2p to use it or just type inr.i2p/?q=totallynotdrugs.i2p and hit enter to find it. The same is true of identiguy.i2p where you can go to the site to use the service or just type identiguy.i2p/cgi-bin/query?hostname=totallynotdrugs.i2p and hit enter.

Now I joke with totallynotdrugs.i2p but really I2P is a remarkably clean darknet, and I should know. If you access my personal eepsite at red.i2p you will see some of my research on the matter. A few months ago I actually visited every known eepsite personally and documented what was there. (Note I did this first with images disabled in the browser, similar to how we disabled javascript at the browser level since it really is a true unknown when exploring such things, but even on my second go with images/ javascript enabled my results were the same).

Unlike Tor, Freenet, or ZeroNet, I2P is a pretty safe place content-wise (in my experience). Like the normal internet it is possible to stumble upon bad stuff, but generally I'd say it's about as prevalent on I2P as it is in the normal internet, and this is not something I can say about Tor hidden services, Freenet's Freesites, or ZeroNet's Zite's. There is only one active drug market to date on I2P called Libertas (I will not give the link here for legal reasons) and from what I have seen of it, it's actually a pretty ethical darknet market with a good Terms of Service. Actually I think it looks like what I hope your local head shop should/ hopefully will look like in 20 years, offering (actually) regulated substances from reliable sellers to consenting adults and-- whoa hey! I'm getting into politics now and contrary to most posts on my blog here, this isn't an explicitly political post. Libertas might be bringing a little more people to the network than usual as of late, but that's actually probably not why you are using I2P anyways. I2P has a whole bunch of uses not pertaining to that one eepsite, and I should know as I've been using it for several years now and the shiny new drug market is quite recent! Now that we're back on track, what else do you need to do?

CONFIGURING BANDWIDTH

By default I2P seems to assume you are using dial-up in Alaska, so it's important to adjust your bandwidth settings to match the speed of your actual internet connection. This is actually pretty easy to do. Usually on the first run it automatically tests your bandwidth for you and configures it automatically. If not, there are plenty of free online internet speed test sites you can use to get a feel for your speed, and configuring it inside I2P is pretty easy. (Note: the privacy policy of speedtest.net says it collects what may be considered private data, so always run such tests in a private window.)

To adjust bandwidth settings just clicking 'BANDWIDTH IN/OUT" under the I2P logo in the top-left of the router console and adjusting your bandwidth settings accordingly.

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO WITH I2P?

Anything, literally! If you're a developer I2P has a ton of options. "But what if I'm a normal person and not a developer?" That too!

Do you like Torrents? I2P has a ton of good torrent trackers I can't post here for the same legal reasons I can't give you the link to The Pirate Bay. But fear not law abiding citizen! Plenty of torrent files are perfectly legal! Latest Debian release anyone? I2P comes with I2PSnark, an in-browser BitTorrent application which you can find under 'torrents' in the home page. The only thing better than a good torrent file is one that is anonymous by default, am I right? When downloading copyright-questionable torrents in I2P, you don't even need a VPN for privacy (though don't hold me accountable for your own actions)! That will save you a few bucks on a good VPN service if you don't mind waiting a bit longer than usual for a file to download.

Do you like email? You can get your own email@mail.i2p, which can also be an email@i2pmail.org for I2P-to-Clearnet_emailing. How's that for next-level privacy? There is also an I2P Plugin called I2P-bote which you can get from bote.i2p that is similar to regular email but is end-to-end encrypted by default. IRC? Sure, just fire up HexChat or your favorite IRC chat application and follow the directions documented on the official I2P website that I am too lazy to post here. You will meet a lot of cool people on Irc2P and it's a great place to go for questions/ support. Fun fact: I2P actually started out as an IRC only project! You can even access an I2P XMPP server offered by Crypthost at xmpp.crypthost.i2p, throw on an OTR like end-to-end encrypted XMPP client add-on and have truly private conversations!

There are plenty of pastebin services and even a "Deep Web Radio" available over I2P. Someone even managed to configure a RDP server to run over I2P for truly private remote desktop access. Encrypted file sharing? Sure, that too provided your files aren't too big. Social networking? I thought you'd never ask. There is Visibility.i2p, among others (I'll let you find the rest on your own) and a few experimental not-yet-working Mastadon and Diaspora instances. Applications such as RetroShare also work with I2P, and in my mind this has serious practical applications for activists. Remember LimeWire? A developer named zab recently released a piece of software called MuWire that's a sort of similar to LimeWire but made for I2P, and keep in mind P2P applications have plenty of legitimate uses outside of copyright infringement! This blog? A full mirror of the 400GB+ Marxists Internet Archive? Okay, those my eepsites, but yes it's up there! Marxists.org took me literally over a month to fully mirror so I hope you guys enjoy that.

Zero knowledge pastebins? Yep, just don't paste the things the owner says not to paste even though they cannot check you didn't paste the things they said not to paste because it is a zero knowledge pastebin, but seriously don't. Whisteblowers could definitely use such services.

What else? Cryptocurrencies? Absolutely. GOSTcoin is an I2P-centered cryptocurrency with an I2P mining pool, exchange, and a while bunch of other tools and Monero also is working with I2P to increase it's own privacy (see Korvi). GOSTcoin is based on Russian Federation standard cryptography, and oh yeah, I2P has a HUGE Russian community as well so you're in luck if you speak Russian. There's also eepsites for anoncoin and zcash. Host your own site? That's really easy too as I2P comes configured with a hardened Jetty webserver ready to roll. If you have a good idea for a website and a computer that's on 24/7 consider installing I2P on it and running a hidden service on it!

Read the news? io.i2p has (copyright questionable I'll admit) news from The Guardian, The Intercept, BBC, etc. all safely ported onto I2P for your anonymous viewing pleasure. This has valid applications for those living in places where uncensored news is hard to come by. For more info on all the cool stuff you can do check out the I2P wiki linked by default in the I2P router console. The possibilities are endless!

BEING A GOOD ITOOPIETIAN

Proper shutdowns and Routing traffic

So you're done with I2P, time to just immediately shut down I2P right? Wrong! On the I2P router console home page when you "power off" it sometimes asks you to wait for routing commitments to expire, with an option to "shutdown immediately". Those "routing commitments" are actually encrypted tunnels between a computer, your computer, and another computer. You are essentially routing encrypted traffic for other people when it says that (that's how garlic routing works). So what happens if you shutdown immediately? They get disconnected. It's a crappy thing to do, so don't do it unless it's an actual emergency. If you're literally the next Edward Snowden and you're about to get rendered by the CIA I think those other people would understand, otherwise don't do it. You can choose to share 0% of bandwidth with the network but this is essentially leeching and this is something that actually harms your own anonymity. You might have a good reason and that's okay but otherwise please don't do it.

Contributing good content to the Network

I2P is a pretty clean network and we generally like to keep it that way. You can do what you want, sure, but if you want your own domain name the DNS providers have to be willing to agree to give you one, and many of the decentralized DNS providers rightfully reject blatantly immoral websites and thus (in my view) actively discourage really bad people from using the network. This is one of the reasons I prefer I2P to other anonymous networks. I agree with the hacker philosophy that "information should be free" but the architecture through which information is distributed should be organized, not blatantly assuming that all content is the same even if for the sake of the preservation of a free society, anonymous networks have to assume this to a certain extent. I think I2P has struck the right balance here, but that is another discussion entirely.

Now, does anyone REALLY care about copyright laws/ the occasional drug market? I don't really think so. There is breaking the written law and there is breaking the law of morality and my personal philosophy is "information should be free" and "consenting adults want what they want". The world can be a cruel, sick, twisted place and sometimes really bad people abuse networks such as I2P, Tor, Freenet or ZeroNet in order to hide their own immorality behind them, and this actually makes everybody's civil liberties weaker. Now, this is much less so (if at all) with I2P, but I still wanted to say it. Ever heard of the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse? The old Cypherpunks Mailing list contains a snippet of the demented logic used by the enemies of liberty against tools such as I2P. We'll assume the "thing" here is I2P:

"How to get what you want in 4 easy stages:

1. Have a target "thing" you wish to stop, yet lack any moral, or practical reasons for doing so?

2. Pick a fear common to lots of people, something that will evoke a gut reaction: terrorists, pedophiles, serial killers.

3. Scream loudly to the media that "thing" is being used by perpetrators. (Don't worry if this is true, or common to all other things, or less common with "thing" than with other long established systemspayphones, paper mail, private hotel rooms, lack of bugs in all houses etc.)

4. Say that the only way to stop perpetrators is to close down "thing", or to regulate it to death, or to have laws forcing en masse tapability of all private communications on "thing". Don't worry if communicating on "thing" is a constitutionally protected right, if you have done a good job in choosing and publicising the horsemen in 2, no one will notice, they will be too busy clamouring for you to save them from the supposed evils.

The four supposed threats may be used all at once or individually, depending on the circumstances: aj"

Now when the "thing" isn't being used by the bad guys, it can still be used by the enemies of liberty to their advantage, but especially when it is true, even doubly so. On top of being immoral, the bad guys on the network, though there aren't a lot of them (comparable in my view to the normal internet, though stigma assumes more hence this section), give people who are afraid of tools like I2P a good enough excuse to cause a moral panic and scare people into giving up their civil liberties. In most countries this is unthinkable, but don't forget the European Police Congress just recently called for the banning of Tor! Now, you want to share a pirated movie or buy/sell some drugs? You're not who I'm talking about here. In my humble opinion the really bad guys, the Nazi-pedo-terrorists of the world, should take their filth elsewhere. Let the haters hate, my stand on the issue is clear and in my view, just. Though I speak for myself and no one else.

If you think I2P is cool, bring good content to the network! Have a cool website and a computer that's always on? Mirror it over I2P! Have some cool files you want to share? Put them on a popular torrent tracker and seed them or put them onto MuWire! See someone struggling to install I2P on Linux? You know how now, so show them! Have a nerdy friend? Show them I2P! In an activist organization? Have your activist friends look into I2P! RetroShare over I2P is far better for privacy/security than Slack for organizing protests, just saying!

Read the docs

I2P can be a great tool, but it helps if you actually understand what it is and how it works. What is the threat model of the network? Can I use it in China? What vulnerabilities exist? How does I2P compare with Tor? These are all good things to know. I2P is not Tor, it's threat model and safety profile is not that of Tor's. I personally wouldn't use I2P on its own in China, but I think technologies designed to help people circumvent state-level censorship are on the agenda for future discussion and possible integration (but don't take my word on that). Read the technical documents. Understand, evaluate, decide. Is I2P for you? I hope the answer you come to is yes. For most people reading this, it will be yes.

If your freedom is actually really at risk, obviously combine digital privacy/security with physical privacy/security. This is true of Tor as well. Always have more than one fail-safe if you're literally Edward Snowden. This should be a no-brainer. I2P sadly is no longer a part of Tails (though you can change that if you know how/ have the time) but the above directions can still be applied to an encrypted Debian install or a virtual machine stored only on an encrypted disk. You could connect to I2P using only public Wi-Fi. You could install I2P onto a remote server you paid for with Monero and access it through Tor using SSH. The possibilities are endless. I do not mean to alarm you though, I2P is generally pretty safe. The above warnings are only for those whose lives are literally on the line.

Contributing to the Project

Now I'm just a normal person, barely even a developer, maybe a bit of an idealist (not in the Marxian sense of the term so relax all you dialectical materialists). In my spare time I have contributed to the I2P project by improving documentation, posting guides (like this one), doing research, teaching other people the ropes, testing new software, and promoting the network to my friends. You can do that too! If you're an actual developer you can really help out the network, but get to know it first! An I2P maintainer in Tails is highly desired by people in both communities, which often overlap. If you can actually do this, please do it. It's above my head, but perhaps those greater skilled than myself will look at this issue with the same interest I have.

Donating

Take a look at the Dev Forum for I2P to see what some of the actual developers are doing. You have people like zzz working their asses off to make this network the best it can be and for what? Did you pay to use I2P? Is their an I2P Foundation? I'd argue there should be, but no. Not to guilt you, but I2P relies on donations. Sometimes they don't accept donations, but a lot of times they do. Look around and explore, if you like what you see consider donating to the I2P project, if you donate with PayPal you can even get stickers if you ask for them, and that's pretty damned cool!

CONDENSED VERSION (TL;DR)

If you're in a hurry, this is the condensed version of the above tutorial. We'll do everything we did up there a little faster (no chit-chat) and start our I2P router before configuring Tor Browser to get it integrated into the network so it'll be ready to run once everything is configured (this should be as safe as starting it after configuring Tor Browser insofar as you don't start doing stuff immediately in your default browser and just let it sit there).

Prerequisites: Have the latest version of Java installed. This can be found on Oracle's website or you can grab the default supported Debian version by running:

apt-get install default-jdk

as root.

You should also grab a copy of Tor Browser Bundle from https://torproject.org/.

We are going to be using the .jar file to install I2P. You can also follow the instructions on the I2P website to install it via a custom Debian/Ubuntu package available here: https://geti2p.net/en/download/debian. This is good if you want to run I2P as a daemon but otherwise isn't necessary. The configuration steps for Tor Browser and initial settings in the I2P router console still apply if you want to go this route.

Download the Linux .jar file from https://geti2p.org/en/download. The latest version of I2P as of writing is 0.9.40.

With the file downloaded type into terminal and execute:

sha256sum /path/to/i2pinstall_0.9.40.jar

The output for 0.9.40 should be b5dac73d1683ebfa9b58475c2dddc6ffc40efa6622278d133688af73db428381.

Optional: Grab zzz's public key (found here: https://geti2p.net/_static/zzz.key.asc) preferably from a different computer/ connection and use it to further verify your I2P install with GPG. You can also freely examine the source code for I2P, which is always reassuring.

Start up the I2P Java installer by executing:

java -jar /path/to/i2pinstall_0.9.40.jar

in a terminal. Generally you should not run this as root! Run through the GUI as usual and install somewhere you'll remember. I recommend your home folder.

Once that is done go into the i2p folder the installer created and find a file named i2prouter. Either drag that file into terminal or copy/paste it's file path into terminal and type 'start' after it. Once again we are not running as root:

/home/username/i2p/i2prouter start

This should open the default I2P router console page (your future Home Page) up in your default browser, which usually isn't Tor Browser. Not to worry! Just leave that window alone for now or copy the address and close it out while your I2P router starts up as it takes a few minutes to get going.

Open Tor Browser and go into add-ons (about:addons). Disable HTTPS everywhere, Torbutton and Torlauncher. Go ahead and restart the browser.

For the security focused, click the shield icon in the menu bar and go into Advanced Security Settings. Set it to safest. I also recommend disabling JavaScript at the browser level. This can be done by going to about:config, accepting the risk, and typing 'javascript.enabled' into the bar. Click enter. Double click the javascript.enabled row and the boolean value should change from true to false. Now JavaScript is disabled at the browser level. This may break some eepsites (I2P hidden services) but is recommended for the paranoid.

Next go to Preferences (about:preferences#general) and scroll down to Network Proxy. Click settings. Now you want the proxy settings to be identical to those used for Firefox in the I2P documentation (found here: https://geti2p.net/en/about/browser-config). So go ahead and do that.

Remember the default browser that opened when you ran the command to start I2P? Copy the address it opened and paste it into Tor Browser. You should see the I2P router console. Go into Preferences again (about:preferences#general) and set that address you just pasted to your Home Page.

Hit enter. Now the I2P router console is your home page.

Go to 127.0.0.1:7657/susidns/subscriptions and paste the following (do not remove the default entry):

http://identiguy.i2p/hosts.txt

http://inr.i2p/export/alive-hosts.txt

http://no.i2p/export/alive-hosts.txt

http://stats.i2p/cgi-bin/newhosts.txt

You can also optionally add these too:

http://reg.rus.i2p/public/a-hosts.txt

http://skank.i2p/static/hosts.txt

These are DNS (domain name service) providers that associate base32 string addresses with human readable .i2p domain names. Their 'addressbooks' are added to your 'addressbook', or your private list of .i2p domain names. Click save.

I2P takes a bit of time to start up, so it may be slow at first (this is why we started I2P before configuring Tor Browser). But this may not be the only reason for a really slow connection. Default bandwidth settings are very low, to adjust bandwidth settings just clicking 'BANDWIDTH IN/OUT" under the I2P logo in the top-left of the router console (your Home Page) and adjusting your bandwidth settings accordingly. It should test your connection automatically on first install, if not open an online internet speed test in a private window. and adjust your bandwidth settings to match those of your internet connection.

That's it! Welcome to I2P!

Final Thoughts:

-To update Tor Browser you need to reset proxy settings and re-enable the disabled add-ons, this is a necessary evil to stay safe so keep up to date on the latest Tor Browser updates.

-When shutting down your router wait for routing complements to expire, shutting down immediately means someone else gets disconnected.

-Sharing bandwidth is actually good for your anonymity, plus it's good not to leech off the network.

-Don't forget to check out all the cool stuff you can do with I2P!

-It's best to keep your router running, and if you're computer is on 24/7 consider running a hidden service to add good content to the network! I2P comes bundled with a hardened Jetty webserver to make setting up your own personal eepsite simple and fast.

FINAL THOUGHTS: CONCLUSION AND FURTHER SUPPORT

Now, you can jailbreak an IOS device, root an android, homebrew a Nintendo Device, and J-tag an Xbox 360. Hacking stuff is fun. What about I2P? Well, there is a community maintained, "enhanced" version of I2P you can check out called I2P+. I won't cover how to install it here but I'll give you the link if you want to check it out. The I2P link is: skank.i2p/static/i2p+.html. Now, for security I recommend using just the default I2P install, but for the adventurous you can check out I2P+. I've used it in the past and I can vouch for it, it is pretty cool.

Now that your I2P installation is properly setup let me be the first to welcome you to our Darknet! I2P for me has been a little "home away from home" in the world of cyberspace and I hope it can be yours as well. It's where I go when I'm tired of the normal internet and want to talk to cool people from around the world anonymously, see cool new stuff, help people troubleshoot problems, and do something that I think is good for humanity. If you have more questions or concerns, I2P has it's own user forum inside and outside of the network, and it's own subreddit at https://reddit.com/r/I2P. Right now my Reddit username is /u/removable_muon so be sure to say hi. So have fun, be safe, and be a good Itoopietian! See you on the other side!

Copyright (C)  2019  red, red liberty
    Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
    under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3
    or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
    with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
    A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU
    Free Documentation License".

An Open Letter To The Youth: To Prevent Future Regrets and Save The World

April 26, 2019

How I was shy in the days of High School! I was the kid who was known to say nothing at all. I sat with people at lunch who did not really know me and who I did not really know. Only in the last year or so, or perhaps the second to last year did I find fleeting friendship, and a few kindled flames who I still today know. But the regrets! So many missed opportunities, how I hated the unfreedom of that place in life. I wanted to move ever forward, to independence as one naturally does. But in my eagerness to transcend that place I forgot to live.

"High school will be the best days of your life", my days are far better now, but it pains me to know what could have been. For me High School was hell, yet still I find that I would sell my soul to go back and to do it all over again as I was, but am, knowing then what I know now. Why, I do not know. I long for those days unfulfilled and untreasured, how many people did I long to know whose fire I never saw kindled. How many missed opportunities, how misunderstood I was to others and to myself! It is childish to wish to not be so constrained to this present form, bound by time and space and to the physical seat of consciousness, itself bound to laws that dictate it can only go forward, never backwards. Life, said Kierkegaard, can only be lived forwards, but it can only be understood backwards.

I read about some crazy 20-something lady who pretended to be in high school again. I think its the pain of regret that leads to people doing such things, clearly a regret far surpassing my own. Like the suicide bomber, we can understand the pain they feel, often in losing large sections of their family to American drone strikes, while despising the irrational ways by which they respond to their pain. Like the suicide the bomber, the "crazy lady" tries to ease her pain by doing something so false, deceptive, and childish instead of confronting her feelings and acting on them in a rational way. My aim here is to lay out my regrets so that you may learn from them and, if you are lucky, have none at all. Perhaps, in this, there may be some social utility in my own regretful years, and those years will not be so wasted. For me what I long for is the days of the past, with the people of the past who today, like me, are grown. It is those missed opportunities that I impossibly long to rekindle. But the feeling of general pain and regret, that is something I share with so many sad souls. It is not so much regret of this or that thing but a large, innumerable accumulation of missed opportunities. That is not something you want any part of.

The later years of High School were those in which I embraced the present, were those in which I kindled great friendships and had wondrous experiences that I will cherish until the day I die. You must remember to embrace the present, the future is not going anywhere, do not forget to live.

My story in reminiscing of those days is one of caution to those of you who are today as I once was. You, young people, who are misunderstood, shy, and who are so paralyzed by the infinite possibilities of life that you choose to stay where you are without acting, to not hang out with that person, to not ask that person out, to not go to this or that social gathering. For most of my High School years I was horribly depressed, but there is a light in this. Today I no longer worry about the things I worried about then, the problems of High School today, in spite of painful regrets, seem so trivial to me. Had you told me this then I would not have believed you. There is naturally a truth in looking forward to the future. The freedom that comes with adulthood is real and truly liberating, but you must never forget to live now in favor of a more favorable future. I cannot stress this point enough.

There is another jewel of wisdom I must share with you, and that is this: Do not let that inner fire that burns within you die. I mean not only the fire of life but the fire of a youthful, mindful, rebellious spirit. To grow accustomed to the status quo is not a sign of maturity but of profound immaturity. It is not a transcendence into adulthood but a regression into childhood. Authority figures so necessary in the days of youth are replaced by the authority of the prevailing forms of society-- and by the status quo itself. It is claimed that the restrictions placed upon you by society are for your own protection. Naturally, the youth are far more reckless and willing to put themselves in danger than fully mature adults, so there is of course a substantial grain of truth in this claim.

But the youth, having undergone substantial indoctrination into the prevailing culture, ideology, and superstructure of society, are only just finding their own independence of thought and introspection. Often with this is a profound realization that something intangible in the world is fundamentally wrong, immoral, absurd, authoritarian, and unnecessary. While this criticism is still embryonic, lacking the necessary ruthless criticism of all that exists and and the ruthless self-criticism of its own methods and conclusions, lacking the necessary analysis and objective understanding of scientific criticism, it is a necessary first step towards serious critical theory and social consciousness. Rebellion must be just rather than unjust, but in the final analysis, regardless of forms, we have to say that it is right to rebel. Do not let authority tell you that this is but a sign of immaturity merely because it is so often a symptom of youth. Instead of listening to authority and getting rid of such thoughts as you grow older you ought to embrace them and expand on them, not only in the days of youth but all the way into the time of old age.

The UN panel on climate change says we have 12 years to implement radical change to our global socioeconomic system to avoid a serious and permanent ecological catastrophe. It need not be said that your generation, and the generation of your children and grandchildren are placed in serious danger due to the recklessness of the former generations and an economic system based on a system of endless growth and expansion. Your generation will be the deciding factor in the struggle. It is a struggle not only for your very survival but necessarily a struggle to build a freer, more democratic, just and humane world.

For me this means socialism, a word so often spoken by those who do not understand what it really means. As a socialist I define socialism as nothing more than industrial democracy (the broad definition is social ownership and democratic control of the means of production), where political democracy stems not from a domination of the owners of the world, through undemocratic corporations and vast wealth syndicates, but from the people themselves having real control over their own lives, from the workplace to the ballot box, a politics separated from money, and individual wealth that never stems from the hard work of another. In such a world the existence of homelessness in the richest country in the world will rightfully be condemned as a crime against humanity. Listen, it was as absurd to speak of a right to healthcare in 1774 as it was to speak of freedom of the press in preliterate society. Part of the responsibility of your generation is to fight for positive liberties while preserving the negative liberties we have today, for a right to healthcare, higher education, housing, and a dignified life for all. You, the children of the internet, the future is in your hands and you must begin to forge it yesterday. You have to make the adults act on your behalf, the future of the human race is at once your future, and the current rulers of the earth in their old age, will not live to see your peril.

But this fight is inseparable from learning the ideas of those who came before you, from other people with real criticisms of the way things are it is inseparable from a greater struggle to create a better world. Google Murray Bookchin, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Leon Trotsky, or better yet, switch to DuckDuckGo. You have to learn the things they don't teach you in school. The ruling ideas of each age have only ever been the prevailing ideas of that ages' ruling class. You will not learn in school the knowledge needed to adequately question and criticize social injustice that stems from the prevailing base and superstructure of our socioeconomic and political system, but rather you will only find such knowledge only on the bookshelf. In spite of all you learn and know, you have to be open to the possibility that everything you know is wrong. That is what separates a scientist from a dogmatist. The modern education system does not so much kindle a love of learning as it does a hatred of it. Do not be surprised when you actually read the books you were supposed to read in High School after you graduate, freely and of your own volition. To learn truly important things on your own without trivial rewards or recognition, that is something more valuable than gold.

In short, youthful rebellion can and should be transcended into a mature critique of the status quo, but far too often it is squandered in a social regression of the individual into childhood, replacing the authority over youth with the authority of an unjust society itself.

Mine is a cautionary tale, yet one of great hope and potential peril at the same time. Be smart and learn from my mistakes. Be not so eager for the next stage of life that you forget to live in this one. The next stage of life will still be there waiting for you. Be mindful and don't give into social anxiety or be paralyzed by the infinite possibilities of life that you forget to go anywhere at all. I feel it necessary to quote a favorite poem by a Dylan Thomas. If my words have not moved you, perhaps those of Mr. Thomas will, That is what I have to say to you.

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Bicycle Day: The Psychedelic Experience, God, and the Future of LSD

April 19, 2019

What's all this got to do with LSD? I'll get to that in a minute.

Men have forgotten God

The old anti-communist Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn said of the Russian Revolution,

"Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: 'Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.' Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: 'Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.'"

Of course as a Libertarian Marxist I do not share Solzhenitsyn's crude anti-communism, but I nonetheless agree wholeheartedly with his general sentiment that "Men have forgotten god". Nietzsche was right when he prophesied the death of God and the horrific effect it would have on our collective civilization. His famous quote on the "death of god" is quite well known:

"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?"

More people are atheists today than ever before in all human history, and religious fundamentalism I claim is as much to blame for this as the largely progressive secularization of society. People's conception of God today is as bourgeois as it was feudal in the middle ages. Those who claim to worship and adhere to the ideas of a man who said "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven" today openly promote the "virtues" of capitalist decadence and defend the leadership of a billionaire President whose actions and words stand intrinsically opposed to the entire doctrine of Christianity. Instead of opposing the excesses of bourgeois society they embrace them, opposing rather what aspects of modern society are antagonistic to their own socially conservative views. This to me is an utter betrayal of Christianity, a bastion of hypocrisy and conscious or unconscious submission to the ways of the world, in truth the opposite should be true!

Rosa Luxemburg's condemnation of Christian capitalism is as valid today as it was in hers:

"But it is in vain that you put yourselves about, you degenerate servants of Christianity who have become the servants of Nero. It is in vain that you help our murderers and our killers, in vain that you protect the exploiters of the proletariat under the sign of the cross. Your cruelties and your calumnies in former times could not prevent the victory of the Christian idea, the idea which you have sacrificed to the Golden Calf; today your efforts will raise no obstacle to the coming of Socialism. Today it is you, in your lies and your teachings, who are pagans, and it is we who bring to the poor, to the exploited the tidings of fraternity and equality. It is we who are marching to the conquest of the world as he did formerly who proclaimed that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

Secular society and the technological, cultural, and social progress it has brought about is one of the best things to happen in the world. The issue here is something else entirely. I have to agree with Dr. Cornel West who claimed that "if my conception of God was what I found in so many modern churches, I would probably be an atheist". Today as Christian fundamentalism stands in such strong opposition to scientific fact, no one more undermines the existence of the Christian faith than Christian Fundamentalists themselves. No one is better at turning people away from God than those who claim their God dictates that the earth and the universe at large is only 6000 years old, that evolution and the Big Bang are "fake", that dinosaurs were placed in the ground by Satan to turn people from their faith. The Devil does not need to sway people from God, your modern bourgeois Christianity does that for him. As the radical theologian Thomas Müntzer identified the Catholic Church and the feudal order it endorsed in his day as the Beast of Revelation in his illustrated translation of the scriptures, so too must we today identify the actions of the Devil with modern Christianity's fervent apologism for the Kingdom of Mammon.

In my mind so many horrors of the past 250 some odd years since the French revolution can be boiled down to the simple fact that "people have forgotten God". But the prognosis is far worse than this, the cynical saying of the deposed French clergy in 1793. I mean this in a much more fundamental way, that the ethics of Christianity has been subjugated to, and been used as weapons of subjugation by, unjust social systems of coercion, class domination, hierarchy, oppression and exploitation for the past 1600 years. I say this not in the sense that we ought to return to feudal despotism or some late pre-capitalist notion of Christianity but rather that we should transcend capitalist Christianity altogether. The practices of the early Apostles as described in the Book of Acts were ardently communistic. If they had to embrace any social order it would have to be a state of free communism, the opposite of our modern bourgeois society, rejecting both what is often the dogmatic atheism of traditional Marxism and the totalitarianism of Stalinist despotism at the same time. In my mind only a genuinely open society in the form of a free and democratic socialism can do this. Once again the burning question, "yes you're rambling on about religion but what the hell does this have to do with LSD?

Several years ago I considered myself like so many young people an ardent atheist, that is, until I took a particularly strong LSD trip that shook the foundations of my atheistic convictions (I have written about this previously). I saw, heard, and felt things of an entirely other dimension. The experience alone was not enough to sway me, it was the impossible things I learned and later confirmed that swayed me. I encountered mysterious entities of another plane of existence and learned things about them, their appearances, functions, names, and essences, information that I later found in an obscure, esoteric medieval grimoire I had never heard of or read called the Ars Goetia, a book allegedly written by King Solomon as a manual for the control and conjuration of demons. The ascertainment of this impossible knowledge propelled me to research this book and ultimately led to the rekindling of my faith in God. To this day I am convinced that God used the Devil for his own aims in restoring my faith in him. Of course there are varying interpretation of such an experience, did I merely conjure up some personified part of the collective unconscious? Was this really real? I do not know, but it was enough to kick me off my high horse and accept the possibility that everything I thought I knew was wrong. Isn't that, after all, why Terence McKenna said psychedelics were illegal in the first place?

“Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

I also believed that what happened to me can happen to other people, as it often does in far less infernal forms. I am convinced that without this experience, without seeing something impossible or at the very least extremely difficult to rationally explain, without something making me question everything, I would still be an atheist to this day. I accredit this to God, but moreover I feel that LSD and psychedelics in general truly are a substance capable of opening the doors of perception to a greater reality. Whether that reality is something out there or merely a truly logical and objective point of view I cannot say. But in my mind the psychedelic experience has the ability to restore people's faith in God, religion, and spirituality in a progressive, anti-dogmatic, open-minded way. Nothing, I claim, is needed more in our world than this today.

Bicycle Day and the Psychedelic Experience

On this day, April 19th, I make this most startling prediction: that in 40 years Bicycle Day will be recognized almost universally as an official holiday. That in those days, it will be a custom for a minority of those comfortable and of sound mind and with safe set and setting, to publicly declare their intention and aim of freely going out into the natural world to trip on low, moderate, and even large quantities of LSD.

Bicycle Day isn't as well-known as the holiday that immediately follows it: 4/20. But 4/19 is also a drug holiday, a commemorative holiday where people the world over take LSD and ride on bicycles as the inventor of the drug Albert Hoffman did, accidentally, for the first time on April 19, 1945.

It is a stereotypical "druggie" notion that psychedelic drugs "like, (cough) expand your mind dude". Of course, the origins of this claim go back thousands of years, and more recently lie in the claims of scientists, neurologists, and psychologists who do indeed support the notion that the filter placed on the conscious mind by the subconscious mind is removed by these substances. LSD is known for its use by the hippies, but originally its use was more confined to researchers and scientists. It was originally a drug for people with PhD's rather than for stereotypical stoners. The "Harvard Psychedelic Club" is a famous example of such use.

The psychedelic experience, and LSD specifically, has been accredited by great minds for countless incredible scientific and technological achievements the world over. From discovering the shape of the double helix as the shape of human DNA in an afternoon after countless months of mental crunching and dead-ends, to the personally accredited successes Bill Gates and Steve Jobs attribute to the substance, and to the countless other contributions to the cybernetic revolution, LSD was there to lift the psychological filters we humans place on our everyday reality, to show the mind a larger piece of the unfiltered thing. As anyone who has taken psychedelic drugs knows, there in that warm, bright, awestruck, electrical substance we call enhanced reality, genius finds expression.

Having experienced this for myself, I have to say that it is my firm belief that the many advances brought about by the psychedelic era of yesterday still hold merit today, and that a new era necessitates the use of these substances yet again. As for potential of these substances, not only medicinally but recreationally, socially and culturally, I claim society has seen but the faintest tip of the iceberg.

On the day the use of these drugs are, in the not too distant future, accepted into our culture, legalized and regulated, on that day innovation and revelation, enlightened evolution and revolution, will overtake all parts of our society with a force hitherto unseen in all human history. Timothy Leary was right in this regard. The emancipation of labor from capital on a libertarian basis will undoubtedly see an explosion of individual innovation and culture, but with the emancipation of the human mind from the fetters of the subconscious filter I say this will be doubly so.

I predict that many of the problems our species faces, indeed perhaps even the enigma of cold fusion and the energy crisis, "faster than light" rocket propulsion, the levels of plastic in our oceans, the still unknown cure for cancer, and the very problems of society itself, I claim, will potentially be solved in the span of a decade, or at the very least the progress of such research will be substantially accelerated when LSD is accepted again and used as a tool by those who dedicate their lives to trying to understand and fix these problems. The scientists and researchers who toil away trying to solve these great problems and others, will find that what they needed all along was a fresh pair of eyes capable of seeing complex patterns where the sober mind only sees static, and better yet an informed pair of eyes unlimited by the confines of traditional thought. LSD provides exactly that. The callouses we form around our existence are, for those who trip, peeled away from time to time. Such a thing can be equally marvelous and terrifying, though necessary for a society to heal itself of its wounds and really progress into the future. Even something as simple as a color is seen as if through a child's eyes for the first time, but in an even more profound way with all the knowledge an adult carries with them from the long gone cradle of childhood.

The psychedelic experience is not to be taken lightly, it is not like any other drug induced experience. Conventional drugs intoxicate, whereas psychedelics do the exact opposite-- though the nature of the question of "intoxication" in regards to the psychedelic experience is itself, riddled with contradictions. Hallucinations, certainly, are common. Such a state of mind can of course bring profound hallucinations. But the hallucinations are often not mere fictitious constructs of the mind but rather a means for it to reveal a deeply hidden truth, to reveal patterns and greater truths not really yet understood in full by the conscious mind. Patterns never seen before become apparent, one is awestruck at the complexity of the simplest of objects, colors too are as a profound revelation.

On low to moderate doses, I would argue that while the psychic defenses usually up for our own evolutionary survival are down, so too are the filters our subconscious minds places on reality. In many ways, I think those filters are survival mechanisms inherited from our distant past, for the terrain the mind treads in those 12 hours cannot be permanent if one is to live and breathe as a sane modern man. But those 12 hours can be, if one is prepared, wonderful and life changing.

The nature of humanity is not transfixed, but ever changing and evolving into a higher form. This affirmation of evolution I believe, does not contradict my faith in God but rather it affirms it. From our ape-like ancestors to modern man, and from modern man to an entirely new being that I hope will take with it the best of us, while negating the worst aspect of our nature. But it is at the same time, for us today, a state of being trapped halfway between apes and angels. Man's self-domestication and his construction of a society created in his own image (i.e. civilization) is a step away from barbarism and away from the primal nature of the past, it is a step towards the next phase of human evolution. The psychedelic experience lifts man's consciousness to a higher level, beyond the confines of traditional human consciousness. I claim that this higher level of being will be, to a certain extent, how our distant descendants perceive reality. Without the filters our primitive minds place on reality, our future children may find a way to perceive reality in much the same way as one on psychedelic drugs, perhaps even more so, without sacrificing one's own sanity or experiencing overwhelming emotions and such fragile states of mind.

For us, we are allotted a mere 12 hours, and that 12 hours for anyone who has taken this miraculous substance is often life-changing. The mechanisms that allow the psychedelic experience to happen are written into the human brain itself. I believe it is not a sinful intoxication as is often the case with alcohol, but a sacred enlightenment that is the nature of the psychedelic experience. Alcohol suppresses the human soul. Spiritually as well as physically, it is toxic. Alcohol suppresses reality and one's own inner thoughts. Psychedelics on the other hand are reality-affirming and thought-affirming in such a profound way that they seem to transcend the limitations of the conscious mind.

Language and thought, if you are lucky enough to experience it, lose their marriage to one another, and pure thought, divorced from what one finds to be the constricting, limiting vestiges of language, expresses itself wonderfully and in such a way that challenges many of the conceptions of orthodox Kantianism. Such an effect for me has not been confined to this one trip, but I find when my mind wanders that I now have learned from this trip, the ability to do so whenever I like, even whilst fully sober (this effect I gained from psilocybin as opposed to LSD, but note that I have found a somewhat involuntary effect several days after such a trip, where written and spoken language appears alien and more difficult to comprehend than under normal circumstances). This sort of "skill", I have found, allows the human brain to think in a way much faster and more efficiently than traditional thought.

Reason takes entirely different forms during the psychedelic experience. Whereas the sober mind goes from A to B to C, the psychedelic mind can easily and in a seemingly miraculous yet logical way go from A to B to Z, or from A to Z to B. In some cases, abstract thought can be delusional in nature, as the mind is not used to such a state of consciousness. But through altered neural pathways the mind can, because parts of the brain that don't normally talk to each other are talking to each other, reach phenomenally logical and reasonable epiphany and "eureka" like realizations at the same time, such realizations and ideas flow unconstrained from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind like a river, sometimes thousands in the course of a few seconds. I remember such moments with extreme clarity, and many of these realizations have been life changing and life-affirming.

A thousand brilliant ideas flow through the conscious mind in a single moment. Riddles and enigmas so complex and unsolvable are in such a state, seemingly solved in the blink of an eye. Space, time, and even one's own ego becomes meaningless. But the psychedelic experience magnifies ones own inner feelings, be they of harmony or turmoil. For that reason one should not take such a substance without much understanding and thought. One does not take LSD to escape their problems as one takes alcohol, should one do this LSD will magnify the psychological extent of their problems and force them to confront it. That alone moves the status of LSD from being a so-called "recreational drug" to a sacrament. In my view, the world today needs one big Bicycle Day. If everyone of sound mind and without a family history of psychosis or mental illness, for one day took 150ug of LSD, I claim the world would change overnight. All this of course must sound completely absurd to someone who has never taken a psychedelic drug. "What nonsense is all this!" they might say. To such a person I would encourage that they cast aside their preconceived notions, do their research, talk to their doctor, and take a few grams of mushrooms or a tab or two of the real thing, and then come back to me.

What else is there to say of LSD? The military stopped testing its soldiers with the drug because nearly all of them came to their senses and quit the army after taking it! What other drug can make pacifists out of battle-ready soldiers? Religion certainly can, but even that today is distorted to serve the powers that be, war-ready and all. "Think for yourself and question authority", Leary liked to say. Maybe this is what society needs today.

But the psychedelic experience can likewise plunge those already miserable or in terrifying places into a literal hell, this is especially the case when one ingests a substance sold as LSD that was not, in actuality, LSD. The prohibitionist (I say ridiculous) "coalition for a drug free world" makes the truly absurd claim of LSD that "When things go wrong, which often happens, it is called a 'bad trip,' another name for a living hell." The issue I have here is the term "which often happens". When one has a good set and setting and is adequately prepared for the experience psychologically, the odds of a bad trip are generally astronomical. Generally I would say that at most bad trips are one in a thousand, and even those who have had the misfortune of experiencing one (myself included) often claim that they learned something valuable from the experience and are better people for it. LSD itself is a remarkably safe chemical. There have been no reported fatalities attributed directly to LSD, and the LD50 for the substance is truly astronomical. The same is true of cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms. A simple look at aggregated research from the Lancet and other sources confirms this fact.

(See: https://thoughtfoundryblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/drugchart2.gif and https://thoughtfoundryblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/drug-chart.png")

Make Sure It's The Real Deal: A Cautionary Tale

Psychedelics are at the same time, extremely powerful substances. Years ago I had the misfortune of taking a drug I thought was LSD that turned out to be something else entirely. It was the only time I had not preformed a test-kit on the blotter to make sure that it was LSD. I trusted my source, and that was a mistake. What I took was not LSD. After 3 hours, I assumed I had been ripped off (I never hold a grudge), so I continued on with my day, not leaving the house or driving to be safe. LSD usually kicks in within 45 minutes to an hour, but this was not LSD.

After 3 hours of sobriety colors suddenly appeared exceptionally vibrant, and I knew at once that I was tripping on something I had not intended to take. The trip was like LSD but unpleasantly different, my muscles were tight and I grew increasingly anxious and sad. The trip lasted almost 24 hours and I fell asleep while tripping (something you can never do on LSD). Knowing I had taken what was likely a DOx compound (I suspect DOB) with no real established safety profile, panic and terror set in. I can only describe it as the "raw energy of terror", and a period of 24 hours felt like weeks. In hindsight I grew from the experience and decided to wait 10 years before attempting another trip, but in those early months after the trip I required psychiatric intervention as the after-effects of the drug had destroyed my perception of conscious reality. Nothing felt real, like I was watching myself in a movie. It was absolutely terrifying. Anxiety let to this derealization, and the anxiety caused by the experience only amplified it in self-perpetuating panic attack. While not an LSD trip, I can say that the psychedelic experience itself is as wondrous as it is dangerous. I am convinced that LSD would not have given my such an experience that day. Having read the horror stories of people who had ingested these "research chemicals" I understood the dangers only all too well. The lesson here is simple: 100% sure that what you are taking is the real thing, pay the 100$ to send it into a lab, or at the very least buy a 20$ test-kit. To not do so in an era of prohibition is reckless in the extreme. For real LSD if one has a good set and setting, and a trusted trip-sitter to be sure, they have practically speaking, nothing to worry about.

Prohibition 2: "This Time It Will Work"

The ill-informed media likes to report on "fatal LSD overdoses" from time to time. Of course, like cannabis, the LD50 for LSD is millions of times higher than a recreational dose, and as such, such a large quantity of the stuff must belong only to those who synthesize it or their immediate colleges. No one "accidentally" takes a gram of LSD. Since that is the case, it's hard to believe a 19 year old kid took a gram of pure LSD crystals (a truly priceless amount) before dying, especially when it is reported they took "tabs". In nearly all cases, the poor kid took, knowingly or most often unknowingly, what is called a "research chemical", something with a chemical composition similar to another psychedelic drug such as 1P-LSD, or different altogether such as 25i-NBOMx or DOx, that was sold as LSD. Such deaths then, are not the result of LSD but of its prohibition. Contrary to popular belief LSD, like cannabis, is a non-addictive substance (see above image). Not only is it non-addictive, but in many ways it is even anti-addictive. Alcoholics Anonymous in fact, used to use LSD as part of the twelve-step program when the substance was legal! Addicts in the United States and Canada often travel to Peru to participate in Ibogaine and Ayahuasca ceremonies that boast an exponentially higher success rate for treating addiction than the traditional 12 step program alone. Like the MDMA trip that one should take only once every 3 months at most (for serotonin levels to return to normal), a very high LSD tolerance builds up rapidly after a single dose. One has to wait 2 weeks for the same dose to have the same effect. If one even could take multiple doses consecutively I do not envy them, the mind is much too fragile an object to do something so reckless.

Having described the subjective effects of the psychedelic experience and the extreme harm of prohibition I must plea for Liberty in our own era. What business is it to authority what substance a free and informed person chooses to put into their body? It is none at all! The war on drugs has been a disaster since the day it was started. It has created a death toll for substances that are impossible to overdose on, all because there is no regulation or laws ensuring that what people buy is what they get. It has destroyed lives and families by locking people up for non-violent crimes, turning honest citizens into criminals by putting them into prisons- the universities of crime. It has shut down any attempt on the part of drug users to self-regulate the exchange of drugs, reduce violence and enforce the quality control of psychoactive drugs by shutting down and arresting the people who run darknet markets such as the Silk Road. It has deprived the individual of their liberty and hindered the pursuit of happiness. It has perpetually destabilized the South American continent, concentrating what should be social wealth into vast crime syndicates that know no morals or social utility. It has led to far greater rates of addiction, death, disease, and use rates among both adults and minors than if it were legal and strictly regulated. It has led to the social popularity of truly destructive drugs such as alcohol and tobacco while much safer alternatives remain illegal. The addict not only cannot often afford treatment, but is afraid to seek it. What good is incarceration for getting sober when one finds more drugs inside of prison than outside of it?

The only way out of this crisis is the inevitable future legalization and strict regulation of all psychoactive drugs, public harm-reduction initiatives and free universal healthcare and addiction treatment. Decriminalization is a necessary first step, but decriminalization without universal healthcare is heartless. While LSD is not an addictive substance, or one nearly as harmful as most other drugs, I claim that the only solution lies in legalizing and regulating all drugs. Inevitably less harmful drugs will become commonplace over more harmful ones. I predict that cannabis will work to gradually replace the widespread use rates of both alcohol, tobacco, and opiates, and such a replacement will be long overdue.

As for psychedelic I have to reiterate my agreement with what Terence McKenna once said of psychedelic prohibition:

“Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

My dream is that in 40 years time Bicycle day will cease to be a social taboo, and will become something worthy of that great chemical compound Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Legal disclaimer: I am, of course, saying "take a few grams" of portobello "mushrooms" and "tabs" of drug-free blotter paper. I totally wouldn't encourage people to break what are fundamentally unjust laws or anything like that.

A Review of The Russian TV Series Троцкий (Trotsky): Historical Negationism At Its Finest

March 26, 2019

I waited a very long time to see the TV series Russian TV Series Троцкий (Trotsky), created by Russia's Channel One (a large share of the company being owned by the Russian government). The series is a biographical drama dedicated to co-leader of the Russian Revolution, Soviet exile, and founder of the Fourth International; Leon Trotsky, on the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. I subscribed to a sketchy Russian Netflix like site shortly after it was released in hopes of seeing it to no avail. I bought the DVD with English Subtitles only to find it full of errors before finally finding a version uploaded to YouTube with an option to translate to English subtitles. I watched the 7 part TV series in full before writing this review.

After seeing it in full I have to say that the Criticism section of it's Wikipedia page does not go nearly far enough. Wikipedia's recorded "Criticisms" are as follows:

The series has been criticized for numerous historical inaccuracies in its depiction of Trotsky as a megalomaniacal leader who masterminded the revolution, invoking many of the antisemitic tropes used by the White Guard during the Russian Civil War. Amongst the many historical falsehoods are that Trotsky personally ordered the execution of the Russian royal family (currently the subject of a Federal Investigation for "ritual murder"[15]) and that he knew his assassin to be a Stalinist and invited him to write his biography for him.[16][17][18] The important (and final) episode of Trotsky's assassination by Ramon Mercader, the NKVD agent, ordered by Josef Stalin, and the role of his lover Sylvia, who facilitated his admission to Trotsky's household, are totally misconstrued or downplayed. Facing the criticism, Konstantin Ernst, the general producer of the series, insisted that they were aiming to weave a fictionalized narrative around the basic facts of Trotsky's biography rather than making a documentary.[19]

The series has also been criticized by RFE/RL journalist Luke Johnson for "taking contemporary Russia’s anti-revolutionary ideology global" and for being a vehicle for Russian state propaganda, "unmistakably align[ed] with the Kremlin worldview", critical of "Western decadence" and foreign "interference" in Russian domestic affairs.[20]

Konstantin Ernst may say "oh this is fiction" but this is not at all how the film appears, it appears as a reenactment of a man's life, as one aiming for historical accuracy. He only insists there is a "fictional narrative" employed when attacked on all sides by historians who said "what is this nonsense?" In the end I have to say that I was extremely disappointed with the TV series Троцкий (Trotsky). The expected conservatism and historical negationism of Channel One Russia was far worse than I thought it would be. What exactly do I mean by this?

During the entire series, not a single political difference between Trotsky and Stalin was brought up. Not a single mention was made of the Fourth International, of Trotsky's struggle for democracy within the Soviet Union, of his call for a political revolution to restore genuine workers' democracy and civil liberties for the Soviet people, of the political reasons for Trotsky's exile. In the film, Trotsky and Stalin were essentially the same, with no real differences in political opinion whatsoever. The popular support of the revolution by the workers and peasants was completely glossed over. Trotsky, according to the series, was a bloodthirsty tyrant who was just looking for an excuse to start his "reign of terror".

Let us set the record clear: The initial Russian Revolution was the one of the most peaceful social revolutions in all of human history. Violence came from the reaction, and it was answered in kind by the Bolsheviks. White terror was met in kind with Red terror. The wretched poor, the workers and peasants, had taken power for themselves for the first time in all of human history on a national scale, in one of the poorest, most backward countries in the world that was in the middle of a famine, a World War, and had just gone through a revolution.As if this wasn't enough, in came an armed invasion of 14 of the most powerful armies in the world to aid the White Army, a brutal war on 22 fronts with anti-Jewish pogroms and a White terror designed to strangle Bolshevism in it's cradle. This was what compelled the Red Army into taking extreme measures, victory hinged on the international revolution that never came.

I do not wish to apologize for or justify the atrocities committed on either side, merely to provide necessary context for what took place. You will not find this context at all in Троцкий. The White army isn't even really shown in the film, nor the White Terror. Trotsky is a true Machiavellian who fabricates plots in order to make the situation worse, to make revolutionary violence more severe. There is in actuality, no real contradiction between Trotsky's views in 1920 and his views in 1940. Anyone familiar with Trotsky's works and political life will tell you this. The Bolsheviks were compelled to suspend their own democratic principles to win the war, they understood only all too well what was necessary to fight against a full counter-revolution. But at no point did they seek to glorify or crystallize the emergency measures of the early Soviet Republic as some form of ideal political ideology, as Stalin did in later years. In Троцкий, the Bolsheviks are murderous, bloodthirsty fiends and Trotsky is a heartless Machiavellian with no real differences or antagonistic views in comparison with Stalin.

In the show, Jackson asks Trotsky, "Name one difference between you and Stalin". And what does Trotsky say? He says he "gave himself entirely to the cause" whereas Stalin "only cared about power". This blatant historical negationism is almost as bad as that of the historical negationism found principled defenders of Stalin and Stalinism. The political differences between Trotsky and Stalin are enough to fill over 14 volumes of books. I know this because I personally own 14 volumes of the writings of Leon Trotsky after his expulsion from the USSR, the political struggle of the Opposition for internal democracy from 1923 until his final expulsion from the Soviet Union could likewise fill another 14 volumes. Anyone with internet access can go to the Trotskyist Internet Archive at marxists.org and see this for themselves. Apparently while the writers at Channel One are familiar with Trotsky's biography, they are completely ignorant, or arrogantly dismissive of his political views, of the very thing that makes Trotsky who he is, and why he's worth mentioning in the first place. For a television show about a political figure, such a dismissal of his political views is completely outrageous and inexcusable.

Do I mean to respond to conservative historical negationism with Trotskyist historical negationism? Not in the least. Atrocities were committed on both sides, that is a matter of fact. To what degree they were or were not justified, or to what degree they were necessary, is a matter of personal and political opinion. But as Trotsky himself said, "A slaveholder who through cunning and violence shackles a slave in chains, and a slave who through cunning and violence breaks the chains-- let not the contemptible eunuchs tell us that they are equals before a court of morality!" It is moral cowardice to equate those who react to violence with those who initiated the violence of their own right, and to not even portray the White Terror at all in order to demonize the Red in a "historical" reenactment, is criminal.

Of course, it wasn't until Stalin took power that the idea of murdering a dissident Party member ceased to be truly unthinkable, this even after the Bolsheviks had taken power. When hearing of the exiled Martov's (leader of the Mensheviks) ill health and poor condition in Berlin; Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin all discussed indirectly helping the exiled Menshivik. In spite of their obvious political differences, they did not wish to see a socialist revolutionist who had done so much for their movement suffer needlessly. Stalin's response was a cold: "Who cares? Let him croak". (The Life and Death of Leon Trotsky, Victor Serge and Natalia Sedova Trotsky, p. 116). You will, of course, not hear of such things in Троцкий.

In the film, the petty disagreements of Lenin and Trotsky far before the revolution are fictitiously dramatized to show how "evil" Lenin really is. Lenin, on a rooftop with Trotsky, grabs him by the collar and holds him over the edge of the roof threatening to kill him. Such a thing, of course, never actually happened. There isn't even a single historical allegation of such a thing happening in this regard. It is yet another attempt on the part of Channel One to rewrite history.

Even Trotsky's murder by Jackson is fictionalized in order to demonize Trotsky. Even in Trotsky's final moments he is demonized by the conservatives of Channel One. The "kind and empathetic" Stalinist Jackson asks, "And your children, father, friends, comrades, millions of dead?" To which the evil Trotsky replies, "You do not understand anything. I changed the world." The kind, benevolent Jackson then takes the moral high ground and, not obeying the orders of Stalin to assassinate Trotsky, says "Goodbye, Trotsky" as if to leave. Trotsky, knowing Jackson was sent to kill him, locks the door and begins calling Jackson a "weak coward" and starts whacking Jackson with a cane very violently (no, sadly I am not joking). During this he says, among other things, "The only thing I regret was that I was not sufficiently fierce and terrible. I showed the softness where it was supposed to be..." and then he talks about not counting victims, letting the world burn in the flames of a terrible war, and all other things you would expect from an "evil" Bolshevik. All the while, Trotsky continues beating Jackson fiercely with his cane. At the end of it, Jackson kills Trotsky in what most courts would call self-defense, and the brutality of the murder itself is dramatized for the cameras. Trotsky, according to the film, is dead.

Let us set the record straight again: Trotsky did not know Jackson was a Stalinist agent, and he did not know Jackson was sent to kill him until it was too late. Trotsky's brutal murder was not provoked, nor was it an act of self-defense. Trotsky was reading a paper written by Jackson while Jackson, from behind, swung an ice-pick into Trotsky's skull. It was cold-blooded murder, not something in the least bit provoked by Trotsky. He didn't even die from the attack for over a day.

But do not take my word for it, Wikipedia once again sets the record straight:

"On 20 August 1940, Mercader (Jackson) was alone with Trotsky in the exiled Russian's study, under the pretext of showing him a document. Mercader struck from behind and fatally wounded Trotsky on the head with an ice axe while the exiled Russian was looking at the document.

The blow failed to kill Trotsky, and he got up and grappled with Mercader. Hearing the commotion, Trotsky's guards burst into the room and beat Mercader nearly to death, but Trotsky, heavily wounded but still conscious, ordered them to spare his attacker's life and let him speak.

Caridad and Eitingon were waiting outside the compound in separate cars to provide a getaway; but when Mercader did not return they left and fled the country.

Trotsky was taken to a hospital in the city and operated on but died the next day, as a result of severe brain injuries."

So you see, far from assaulting his assassin, trapping him, and forcing him to act, Trotsky was a victim of a heinous crime who, in his final moments, ordered that the life of his murderer be spared. Such a history the conservatives of Channel One seem to deem "unfavorable" to their version of history.

Ramon Mercader's last words are said to have been, "I hear it always. I hear the scream. I know he's waiting for me on the other side." Such are the words not of one who is innocent, but of one who is guilty.

As if to add insult to injury, the TV series dedicated to the life of a self-described "irreconcilable atheist" ends with a quote from the scriptures; Proverbs 4:19, "The way of the wicked is like gloomy darkness; they do not know what they stumble over." I have of course as a follower of Liberation Theology, written extensively as to why I believe the Bolsheviks position on religion is wrong, and even harmful to their movement. But I cannot and I will not stand for such a blatantly disrespectful end to an already disrespectful TV show. The last moments of the TV show only add insult to injury.

Part of me thinks the hesitancy to show Trotsky's dedication to freedom and democracy for the Soviet people is due to the current political situation in Russia, where talk of freedom and democracy is a touchy subject. The ideology of Russia today is "all this talk of freedom and democracy never really works, the Americans are just as bad as we are, and so forth". In this one could possibly forgive the writers of Channel One. But in the final analysis, if history is not to be presented as accurately as possible, if it is to be shown with all the relevant details omitted, then it is best not to be shown at all. The show should be scrapped in its entirety and re-made, its writers replaced with a coalition of historians of various political views who are dedicated to accurately portraying the life and death of Leon Trotsky.

I will say that the cinematography, acting, and directing of the TV series was phenomenal. For this I can only congratulate those who worked so hard to make the show a reality on a job well done. My anger resides not in the director, actors, cinematographers, editors, makeup artists, etc. but with the writers who while studying enough to know Trotsky's biographical details, omitted entirely his real political convictions, the entirety of the reasons for what he did what he did, and explicitly went out of their way to portray him as a monster.

In all the political currents of the 20th century, I will say that the views espoused by Trotskyism were by far among the most honorable. It was the Trotskyists more than anyone else who never betrayed their principles. They wanted a world free from every possible form of oppression or exploitation, despotism or totalitarianism. Without fear of persecution or personal safety, they called for political revolution, for genuine workers democracy and unrestricted personal and political freedom in the Soviet Union and other so-called socialist states. They called for socialist revolution within the capitalist nations at the same time. And for this, they were hunted to the ends of the earth by McArthyist's and Stalinists alike. Trotsky committed many mistakes as I will be the first to admit. But none of them warranted such a perversion in the portrayal of a human life as embodied in Троцкий (Trotsky).

A life such as Trotsky's deserves a real obituary, not a disrespectful, historically negationist work of Russian conservatives, but one that tells it as Trotsky himself saw it, and more importantly as those around him saw it. For that, I will leave here the obituary of Trotsky written by James P. Cannon for all who are curious to read (https://www.marxists.org/archive/cannon/works/1940mom.htm). To the millions of people in Russia who saw this show, I say you have learned virtually nothing at all about the man, besides the basic geological locations of Trotsky throughout his life, and some of the historical negationist falsifications of modern Russian conservatives who have an interest in not showing who Trotsky really was and what he really believed in and fought for. What truths there are have blood and sin added to them to make Trotsky a villain. Perhaps this is precisely the aim of the show, to show a demonized version of Trotsky's life in such a way that any hint of the Soviet past that "there might have been another way, one without totalitarianism, repression, and bureaucratic dictatorship but with actual freedom and Soviet democracy" is completely dismissed outright. This is precisely how the ideology of Putin's dictatorship functions. Maybe instead of scriptures aimed to demonize him we should end with a quote by Trotsky himself:

“Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full.”

― Leon Trotsky

Why I Changed the Name of The Blog to Red Liberty

March 20, 2019

A few months ago we changed the name of our blog from Thought Foundry Blog to Red Liberty, though we never really gave an explanation as to why. In my view such an explanation is long overdue.

When I started this project it was mainly just a source to write about my interests: Astronomy, Egyptology, Philosophy, Economics, various Social Issues, etc. I don't recall how I came up with the name Thought Foundry Blog but after a time I understood it no longer reflected the nature of the website as it had taken a largely political turn. Why did it take such a political turn, you may ask. The answer is somewhat complicated.

I had seen the poverty ravished towns near where I live after taking a wrong turn on the interstate one day. Everywhere it seemed was poverty, homelessness, and social desolation. Yet only a few miles away was one of the richest cities in the country, while this other town seemed more a distant third-world concept than a reality. As a Christian this was a wake-up call for me, what kind of a society allegedly based on Christian ideals would allow such suffering amidst such material abundance? It was only later that I read Marx and other socialist thinkers.

When I first started reading economics, I eventually stumbled upon what I thought were the "fringe" writings of Karl Marx. Having been familiar with more "mainstream" economists and political thinkers, I consider my mindset at this time to be that of the typical American. "It works good on paper but not in reality", I would say, not sure how the idea, an idea that seems to be everyone's first response to the advocacy of Marxist ideals, even got there since I had never read a page of what the man himself had to say in my life. To my mind, the ideas of Marx were thus associated with totalitarianism and a failed Utopian social system, that is-- until I read what he had to say rather than what other people said about him. Reading Marx was like a revelation to me, it articulated something already so self-evident that I had yet to put into words. Such is the experience for many people. It took a lot of reading and critical thinking before I called myself a Marxist. I was looking here at Marx himself rather than at Cold War history, which naturally was a second step in the mind of the typical American I, in so many ways, was.

Like most people who agree with so many of Marx's ideas, I looked to historical movements that were based on Marx's critiques of capitalism. This led naturally to the Russian Revolution and subsequent Cold War. I was so naive then, taken aback by the astounding progress many of these countries made, wholly ignorant of the other side of it. Cold hard statistics can paint a lovely picture, but that picture is almost always devoid of what things were like on the ground.

To see that Stalin had done in a decade what took the west 150 years, to see China's life expectancy go from the mid-30's, to see illiteracy rates go from 80% when Mao took power, to a life expectancy comparable to the west and the abolition of illiteracy when Mao died, all these things shocked me. Certainly the gains in regards to industrialization and improvements of people's standards of living in the initial process of rapid modernization, positive liberties and the like, are under-emphasized in most history books, but I somehow overlooked the totalitarianism of it all, how its very undemocracy, its very unfreedom was a contradiction to its "official" claim of having been a really free, really democratic, socialist society, as Stalin called it. The initial enthusiasm of it all wore off when I mentioned that I considered myself a Christian in a Marxist-Leninist (a term coined by Stalin) online group. The people in that group seemed to be far more anti-religious than any self-proclaimed Marxist I have known since then, but it made me start to question my own nativity in my studying of this history. One of them, a dissident in the group, claimed one could be a religious Marxist-Leninist as long as they didn't go to Church or try to spread their faith! What madness! It wasn't long before I read more critical sources, most of which were mainstream, but among them the writings of Leon Trotsky.

I eventually saw after much reading that the initial ideas of socialist democracy, of a truly free, truly democratic society were not realized in Stalinist countries (as I began to call them). I had joined Socialist Alternative (an American Trotskyist organization) and began seriously studying Trotsky's collected works (which I got for a steal on eBay) on my own initiative. For years I considered myself a Trotskyist. Even today I claim many ideas of this political philosophy are valid, but as I continued my research I grew even more critical of these social movements. I began to be more critical of the early Bolsheviks, always and especially in regards to their hostility towards religion. I began looking to other socialists such as Rosa Luxemburg and James Connolly, Eugene Debs and even the ex-Trotskyist, ex-Anarchist Murry Bookchin.

I read about anarchism from anarchists, and not from Marxists trying to prove that it was wrong. I read the accounts of other early 20th century socialists and gradually I came to realize that not only was Stalinism an authoritarian distortion of Leninism, but Leninism was an authoritarian outgrowth of Marxism. But even in this revelation comes naturally a kind of profound naivety when one merely dismisses an entire social movement as "not socialist". What really shook me were the writings of the German Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg on the Russian Revolution, and her early polemics with Lenin's "dangerous" ideas on Jacobinism and the party (something Trotsky initially was against also). For me Trotsky was a prophet in predicting the collapse of the Soviet Union, but Rosa Luxemburg even more so.

Having been familiar with a wide range of leftist activists and intellectuals, I was shocked at the fact that so many of them were Marxists towards everything but the historical attempts at realizing their own ideas. They ruthlessly criticized all that existed, that is, everything but "actually existing socialism", and the history of the countries that collapsed with the end of the Cold War. For them this was the ultimate taboo, some of them even regarded criticism of the North Korean personality cult as a form of racism! Engels once said that "an ounce of action is worth a ton of theory", and here we found "Marxists" that were more concerned with 150 year old political theory than the results of its application to real societies. They read history to be sure, but the historical accounts they read were whitewashed accounts of history by people like Grover Furr who make it their life-long mission to exonerate figures like Stalin and the social systems they constructed. This historical revisionism in my mind, came to be one of the biggest menaces to the political left in modern history. It was our modern predicament, our inability to transcend, and brutally criticize the history of the Cold War. Needless to say I was completely disillusioned with totalitarian attempts to build socialism.

I found reason in the ideas of Hegelian Marxist Slavoj Zizek, who argued that if anything liberal or "bourgeois" accounts of Cold War history are not critical enough. I saw his analysis of Stalinism as something profound, he argued that only Marxists could really expose how terrible and tragic the 20th century socialist experiment really was. Only the dead can truly bury their dead, so to speak.

But in this analysis almost inevitably comes the conclusion that if it wasn't a genuine democracy where working people held all political power, then it could not really be a socialist society. The claim "not real communism" and "not real socialism" seems to anger a lot of "typical Americans" who don't really understand what those words actually mean according to their adherents. Of course, no society claimed itself to have achieved communism (a stateless, classless, perhaps moneyless society), socialism however was claimed. But can it really be so simple? In his book Trouble in Paradise, Slavoj Zizek recalls an interesting conversation:

"The mistake to be avoided is the one best exemplified by the story (apocryphal, maybe) about the Left-Keynesian economist John Galbraith. Before a trip to the USSR in the late 1950's, he wrote to his anti-Communist friend Sidney Hook: 'Don't worry, I will not be seduced by the Soviets and return home claiming they have socialism!' Hook answered him promptly: 'But that's not what worries me-- that you will return claiming the USSR is NOT socialist!' What worried Hook was the naive defense of the purity of the concept: if things go wrong with building a socialist society, this does not invalidate the idea itself, it just means we didn't implement it properly. Do we not detect the same naivety in today's free market fundamentalists? When, during a recent TV debate in France, Guy Sorman claimed that democracy and capitalism necessarily go together, I couldn't resist asking him the obvious question: 'But what about China today?' He snapped back: 'In China there is no capitalism!' For the fanatically pro-capitalist Sorman, if a country is non-democratic, it simply means it is not truly capitalist but practices capitalism's disfigured version, in exactly the same way that, for a democratic Communist, Stalinism was simply not an authentic form of Communism. The underlying mistake is not difficult to identify. It is the same as the well-known joke: 'My fiance is never late for an appointment, because the moment she is late she is no longer my fiance!' This is how today's free-market apologist explains the crisis of 2008: it was not the failure of the free market that caused the crisis but excessive state regulation, i.e. the fact that our market economy clutches to the welfare state. When we stick to such a purity of market capitalism, dismissing its failures as accidental mishaps, we end up in a naive progressivism that ignores the mad dance of opposites."

At the same time, Zizek calls himself a Marxist. He said to protestors at Occupy Wall Street, "If by communism it is meant the social systems that collapsed in 1989, then we are not communists". Zizek also holds that "Stalinism is not to be rejected because it was immoral or murderous (he does argue that this is a reason for it to be rejected -Red Liberty), but because it failed on its own terms, because it betrayed its own premises." The idea of socialism went from one applicable only to the most technologically advanced capitalist countries first, to the most backward first (Russia). The idea then went from "we have to support socialist revolution abroad at all costs as socialism cannot exist in one country alone" to "we can and must construct socialism in one country". It went from a first world Eurocentric movement, to a third world movement. When this failed miserably (as one might expect), it failed on its own terms. Fundamental to its legitimacy was the claim that "in X country, here the workers have real power, here there are the same Civil Liberties as in the west but to an even greater extent! We have provided the means to realize the liberties you proclaim 'formally', and we have expanded them with the positive liberties socialism promises. We have real socialist democracy, popular democracy, genuinely free elections, etc." In this sense we can say it betrayed its own premises, because the whole thing was a mad contradiction.

To say "ah this is not really socialism" may have credence if we judge what "socialism" is by standards that country gives us, i.e. you say you have a genuinely popular socialist democracy that depends on "wild, lively debates at the local level, the free thrashing out of opinions", but we know this is not the case in actuality, and so on. If you do not judge such a country by its own standards there is a tendency to avoid its vehement social contradictions by siding with one of many factionalist tendencies which dismiss other tendencies at worst as "revisionist" or "anti-Marxist" without exploring the issue any further. You can also use the dictionary definition of socialism as "social ownership and democratic control of the means of production" to argue that without really democratic control, it doesn't qualify as socialism. But to dismiss the entire thing as "not really socialist" can a mistake in many ways. What do I mean by this?

I say I am a socialist, a Libertarian Marxist, I mean that in the sense of James Connolly and Rosa Luxemburg. That is a very different thing from being a socialist in the sense of Lenin and Trotsky, or Stalin and Mao, or Khrushchev and Brezhnev, or Dubcek and Gorbachev, or Goldman and Kropotkin, or Tito and Bukharin, etc. The Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha spent his entire life's rule denouncing the "anti-Marxist stand" of Soviet "Khrushchevite revisionism", "Yugoslav revisionism", and later the "anti-Marxist stand" of "Mao Tse-Tung Thought". By 1985 little Stalinist Albania declared itself the "only socialist country in the world" (remember the Berlin wall didn't fall until 1989). At the same time, in 1978, Soviet propaganda was pumping out anti-Maoist literature from its official "Novosti Press Agency Publishing House" such as Maoism: Slogans and Practice which aimed to show how "fundamentally Maoism is at variance with the principles of scientific communism and proletarian internationalism." Maoist China, of course, said precisely the same thing about the Soviet Union. Trotskyists called for political revolution in all the "degenerated and deformed workers states" in order to realize real workers democracy and the civil liberties formally proclaimed under such regimes, also claiming they weren't genuinely socialist either. I will touch on Luxemburg's view later on, as it is very interesting. But one can clearly see here the trend for socialists to say "we have real socialism" or "we are the real Marxists" and "those guys aren't".

Perhaps it is only Dubcek and Gorbachev who really attempted to reconcile the "mad dance of opposites" in these "socialist societies". It is an irony that today they are so vehemently hated on the political left. You can address these contradictions and address this "mad dance of opposites" this by either admitting openly "this is a totalitarian one-party state" (something Tito initially did in early years that really infuriated Stalin and confronted his idea of "People's Democracy"), or you can attempt to reconcile the contradiction by making the "workers democracy" (and perhaps socialism by extension of you share this view) along with the formally proclaimed constitutional rights to freedom of press, speech, assembly, and so forth, something that actually exists. The Prague Spring and the Gorbachev era aimed at precisely this. People on the ground abandoned their "public opinions" in favor of the party and their "private opinions" that were often for socialism, but against what the society had become. They quite openly said what they meant, and press censorship was entirely abolished. The issues with traditional Eastern Bloc economics were openly criticized and alternatives were put forth, most of which were against a return to capitalism (something that didn't happen again until it was too late). It truly was a "spring" of sorts. The open abolition of the (never before admitted to) press censorship, secret police, rigged elections, etc. was an attempt to say "we fucked up, now we the people are fixing it". Glasnost basically said "we're opening all the old archives and state secrets, to show you exactly how we fucked up so you, the free people, can figure out how to fix it." In Czechoslovakia this led to the invasion of Warsaw member nations for the "restoration of socialism (Brezhnev's interpretation of it anyways)". In the Soviet Union this led to the August Coup by party hard-liners, a coup that led to the disillusion of the whole country (so don't blame Gorbachev). In this sense, Gorbachev and Dubcek are similar to Lenin and Trotsky in that they never hid from public view what was really going on, but rather they confronted it head on. In revolutionary Russia, Red terror was openly called what it was in Trotsky's Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky. They did not claim to have a democracy of any sort, it was a period of revolution and there was no freedom on either side. Such a thing under Stalin where "genuinely free elections" and "really free" socialism was officially proclaimed, was unthinkable, even during that period of Soviet history known as the "Great Terror". In this sense perhaps, maybe Dubcek and Gorbachev really were Bolsheviks in the classical sense of the word. Maybe, I say, they were onto something.

As for Rosa Luxemburg, her criticism of the Bolsheviks was rooted in her Marxist ideals. Her main fear was, in spite of supporting the revolution, that the openly anti-socialist measures taken by the early Bolsheviks to support revolution abroad would continue on into a post-revolutionary period. The idea that they would be crystallized into a concrete political theory and proclaimed fundamental precepts of socialism was unthinkable at that time! Her pamphlet The Russian Revolution is startling. In it she said:

"On the other hand, it is a well-known and indisputable fact that without a free and untrammeled press, without the unlimited right of association and assemblage, the rule of the broad masses of the people is entirely unthinkable"

This was, at the time of writing, a fact shared by virtually every socialist in the world. Sadly today this seems to be somehow "controversial" among some socialist circles today, a sign of how far we have fallen. She continues:

"Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party however numerous they may be is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when “freedom” becomes a special privilege."

Once again we find a startling contradiction between this view, one shared by nearly all of the early socialists of the 20th century, and even by Lenin himself before the revolution, and between the views of Stalin and later "Marxist-Leninists". She continues:

The tacit assumption underlying the Lenin-Trotsky theory of dictatorship is this: that the socialist transformation is something for which a ready-made formula lies completed in the pocket of the revolutionary party, which needs only to be carried out energetically in practice. This is, unfortunately or perhaps fortunately not the case. Far from being a sum of ready-made prescriptions which have only to be applied, the practical realization of socialism as an economic, social and juridical system is something which lies completely hidden in the mists of the future. What we possess in our program is nothing but a few main signposts which indicate the general direction in which to look for the necessary measures, and the indications are mainly negative in character at that. Thus we know more or less what we must eliminate at the outset in order to free the road for a socialist economy. But when it comes to the nature of the thousand concrete, practical measures, large and small, necessary to introduce socialist principles into economy, law and all social relationships, there is no key in any socialist party program or textbook. That is not a shortcoming but rather the very thing that makes scientific socialism superior to the utopian varieties.

The socialist system of society should only be, and can only be, an historical product, born out of the school of its own experiences, born in the course of its realization, as a result of the developments of living history, which just like organic nature of which, in the last analysis, it forms a part has the fine habit of always producing along with any real social need the means to its satisfaction, along with the task simultaneously the solution. However, if such is the case, then it is clear that socialism by its very nature cannot be decreed or introduced by ukase. It has as its prerequisite a number of measures of force against property, etc. The negative, the tearing down, can be decreed; the building up, the positive, cannot. New Territory. A thousand problems. Only experience is capable of correcting and opening new ways. Only unobstructed, effervescing life falls into a thousand new forms and improvisations, brings to light creative new force, itself corrects all mistaken attempts. The public life of countries with limited freedom is so poverty-stricken, so miserable, so rigid, so unfruitful, precisely because, through the exclusion of democracy, it cuts off the living sources of all spiritual riches and progress. (Proof: the year 1905 and the months from February to October 1917.) There it was political in character; the same thing applies to economic and social life also. The whole mass of the people must take part in it. Otherwise, socialism will be decreed from behind a few official desks by a dozen intellectuals.

Public control is indispensably necessary. Otherwise the exchange of experiences remains only with the closed circle of the officials of the new regime. Corruption becomes inevitable. (Lenin’s words, Bulletin No.29) Socialism in life demands a complete spiritual transformation in the masses degraded by centuries of bourgeois rule. Social instincts in place of egotistical ones, mass initiative in place of inertia, idealism which conquers all suffering, etc., etc. No one knows this better, describes it more penetratingly; repeats it more stubbornly than Lenin. But he is completely mistaken in the means he employs. Decree, dictatorial force of the factory overseer, draconian penalties, rule by terror all these things are but palliatives. The only way to a rebirth is the school of public life itself, the most unlimited, the broadest democracy and public opinion. It is rule by terror which demoralizes."

Interestingly enough, her criticism of terrorism was initially shared by Trotsky, who in 1903, according to Trotsky's wife and Victor Serge in their book The Life and Death of Leon Trotsky, was vehemently opposed to the idea of "proletarian Jacobinism". In it, Trotsky is recounted as having:

...showed the incompatibility of Jacobinism with socialism, and contended that any 'dictatorship of the proletariat' along such lines would soon degenerate into a 'dictatorship over the proletariat'. Lenin's authoritarianism appalled him. 'But that's dictatorship you're advocating,' he said to him one day. 'There is no other way,' Lenin replied. (Serge, Sedova, 14).

This idea that "socialism cannot be decreed from above" was likewise shared by many early socialists, a stark contrast to North Korea today where everything good that happens is thanks to the wisdom of "the leader". The real prophetic crux of Luxemburg's work is in the next section, where she says:

When all this is eliminated, what really remains? In place of the representative bodies created by general, popular elections, Lenin and Trotsky have laid down the soviets as the only true representation of political life in the land as a whole, life in the soviets must also become more and more crippled. Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously at bottom, then, a clique affair a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins (the postponement of the Soviet Congress from three-month periods to six-month periods!) Yes, we can go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc. (Lenin’s speech on discipline and corruption.)

For the above section, perhaps nothing better describes the 20th century socialist experiment, and nothing better denounces it as "not the dictatorship of the proletariat" than the words of Rosa Luxemburg herself. It is a grand irony that Rosa's face was ironically plastered on East German currency and statues where this, her most penetrating work, was censored. If you look at footage of old East German Party congresses, everyone claps and approves resolutions by Honecker unanimously, with pictures of Rosa Luxemburg on the walls, completely ignorant to the irony of such a thing. But such is history. Thus to say "I really don't think these countries had the dictatorship of the proletariat they claimed to have, or a socialist society by extension" from a Luxemburgist perspective, when that is your premise as to what socialism is, is completely valid. The danger here lies in the nativity of saying "they were anti-Marxists". The leaders of these Stalinist regimes were communists. Much to people's surprise, they really were true believers behind closed doors. They were Marxists, though I argue, revisionists of Marxism, and having said that, I also say that even the so-called "purity" of the Marxist concept ought to be challenged.

I say they were revisionists but by this I mean at the same time that I don't want Orthodox Marxism, even the Orthodox Marxism of Rosa Luxemburg, to be revived in its entirety. I want revisionism, yes! But I want good revisionism, I want things that are outdated or inaccurate to be revised, not good things distorted or abandoned to justify Stalinist atrocities. The solution comes only from addressing openly, ruthlessly, and without fear, the mistakes of the past. That means having a brutally honest historical analysis, not embracing a more favorable historical revisionism that justifies my own views. That means sweeping away what needs to be swept away, no sanctimonious reverence for Marx, Engels, Lenin, or Luxemburg whatsoever. For me, the Marxist views of Rosa Luxemburg, views that see the principled defense of human rights and the belief that unlimited individual civil and political liberty is an indispensable prerequisite and fundamental part of socialism, need to be revived. The resurrection of Luxemburg herself is necessary in modern times only to show to the "typical American" who is wholly ignorant of what Marxism even is, who when hearing "Libertarian Marxism" proclaims that "You can put any two things together that doesn't mean they make sense", that Luxemburg herself, an Orthodox Marxist in her time or a Libertarian one in ours, held such views. We need to see more of this attitude, a ruthless criticism not only of Stalinism but of Leninism and Trotskyism, even of Marxism, all the -isms (not in the post-modernist of the word either).

Of course, in saying I am a socialist in the sense of James Connolly puts forward a modernized vision of a radically Libertarian socialist republic or federation, different though quite similar to Luxemburg's. It is however, radically different from what most Americans think of when they hear "socialist republic". Many a "typical American" would be shocked to see that Connolly advocated the abolition of the same conditions of capitalism that "typical Americans" accredit to socialism:

"In short, social democracy, as its name implies, is the application to industry, or to the social life of the nation, of the fundamental principles of democracy. Such application will necessarily have to begin in the workshop, and proceed logically and consecutively upward through all the grades of industrial organization until it reaches the culminating point of national executive power and direction. In other words, social democracy must proceed from the bottom upward, whereas capitalist political society is organized from above downward...

It will be seen that this conception of Socialism destroys at one blow all the fears of a bureaucratic State, ruling and ordering the lives of every individual from above, and thus gives assurance that the social order of the future will be an extension of the freedom of the individual, and not the suppression of it. In short, it blends the fullest democratic control with the most absolute expert supervision, something unthinkable of any society built upon the political State...

Under Socialism, States, territories, or provinces will exist only as geographical expressions, and have no existence as sources of governmental power, though they may be seats of administrative bodies."

I have also not been hesitant to emphasize the correctness of many views espoused by Murray Bookchin in his polemics against Marxism. This blog is part of an attempt to get us out of our current predicament, to do what is necessary if we want to build a society that is truly liberating, that expands individual liberty instead of squandering it, that brings about a fuller, more complete democracy rather than its abolition. If that's not our goal, then we have to ask what Bookchin did in his day: "What the hell are we trying to make a revolution for?" If we aren't for the real democratization of society, if we aren't for growing the tree of liberty, what the hell are we trying to make a revolution for? It is impossible to speak of an abolition of oppression and exploitation without talking about real individual freedom at the same time. If we don't take socialism back to its roots in this sense, and perhaps only in this sense, then all is lost, our current predicament lasts forever.

The name change to Red Liberty is a change to reflect the present nature of the blog. Socialism if it is to advocated, ought to aspire to transcend the historical limitations of the past. It ought to reconcile itself with its own mistakes through ruthless criticism of its own social movements and ascribe once again the word of Liberty upon its banner, as was almost universally the case in the early 20th century. In this sense, and perhaps only in this sense, we find ghosts from the past that need not be exorcised, but called forth.

European Police Congress Calls For Banning of Tor! Democracy Dies in Darkness!

March 18, 2019

According to the German news source Heise, the European Police Congress (the largest conference for internal security in the European Union) recently called for the banning of the darknet (Tor) in "liberal democratic states". This should, as I will explain, terrify practically anyone who claims to want a free and democratic society.

According to DeepDotWeb:

"During this 22nd Congress meeting, it was agreed that dark web activities should be banned in member states of the European Union. This action, they say, will help prevent online related criminal offenses which have been rising alarmingly since the advent of the dark web. These include drug trafficking, human trafficking, human smuggling, smuggling of weapons, identity theft, credit and debit card theft, cyber-attacks, and murders. Some of these illicit businesses have become so big that they form cartels or massively organized drug rings...

Günter Krings, the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, demanded during the opening ceremony that the use of the Tor browser be forbidden in the union. This is because it forms a platform for illegal activities and makes it harder for law enforcement to track offenders."

According to Heise, the parliamentary State Secretary Günter Krings said at the congress:

"I understand why the Darknet can have a benefit in autocratic systems. But in my opinion there are no legitimate benefits in a free, open democracy. Those who use the darknet are usually up to no good. This simple insight should also be reflected in our legal order."

It gets worse.

"Krings was followed in the opening ceremony by Wolfgang Sobotka, President of the Austrian National Council. He praised China for not having any inhibitions and successfully ignoring data protection laws when analyzing citizens. His statement that there is a human right to political asylum, but no human right to asylum for economic or social reasons, fit into the picture he drew."

On the one hand, the European Police Congress claims there is no legitimate use for a darknet in "liberal democratic states", in a "free and open democracy", on the other hand, at the same congress, these "champions of national security and public safety" praise the Chinese police state for systematically violating the rights of its own people, for being unbound by the law or public accountability in spying on and scrupulously analyzing ordinary Chinese citizens. Here Krings refutes himself and his own friends. We are quite open in our view that the threat to freedom and democracy comes not from individuals on the "darknet" but from people like Krings himself!

It need not be said that the overwhelming majority of people who use Tor, who use darknets, even in "liberal democratic states", are not criminals. We at Red Liberty host our platform not only on WordPress, but on Tor, I2P, Freenet and ZeroNet (practically all of the widely used "darknets") because we have a minority of readers in authoritarian countries, and because some of our readers, the freedom loving people they are, don't think it's anybodies business what they say, read, think and do.

What can be said of this European Police Congress? It is perhaps the most fascist minded thing to happen in Europe since the Second World War. We can have only absolute disgust of such absolute blatant ignorance as this, that is the only just response to what these authoritarians have said. What ignorant, frightful, fear-mongering jackals! Do they not realize that a free and open darknet is one of the reasons they don't have an "autocratic system"? Such a thing keeps people like Krings in check! It is the load-bearing pillar of a genuinely free society in our current epoch. Remove it and you open up the possibility for free society itself to collapse. A free society has to allow for extralegal natural liberty to exist in order to genuinely protect civil liberty, in spite of the well known and universally hated abuses of that freedom. While the two do contradict one another in some ways, you have to be able to go around the legal system when one's own individual conscience, mightier than all the written laws in the world, bounds it to do so in the overall interests of a free society. No one can or should be able to determine the legitimacy of one's own conscience, that is precisely what's so laudable about it.

If the member of a European intelligence agency or military finds out the organization he works for is breaking the law, acting unethically, violating human rights, or acting contrary to the will of the people, and at the same time such a person is bound by oath or sworn to secrecy on pain of extreme punishment, what mechanism is there for us to report such happenings to the public without serious jeopardy to life and limb? Outside of the "darknet", we find in our present society that there are practically none. I cannot fathom a greater danger to the existence of free society, apart from turning the key to tyranny itself, than this appalling proposal to "ban the darknet".

People, be vigilant! Anonymity is the ultimate expression of freedom, the ultimate means to even speak of truly free speech, free thought, free opinion. What better prerequisite to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of thought is there than privacy, than the right to be anonymous? In light of this danger we must sound the alarm bells. Hackers of the world, Unite! The light of liberty is waning, we shall not see it dim without a fight! Till the restless scourge of power unjust is upon us, and even then we shall not go quietly into the night!

https://www.deepdotweb.com/2019/03/10/european-police-congress-deliberates-on-making-the-darknet-inaccessible-to-its-states/

https://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Europaeischer-Polizeikongress-Weg-mit-dem-Darknet-4313276.html

The Small Increase In US Military Budget Between 2015 and 2019 Alone Was Enough To Abolish World Hunger AND Homelessness in The US

March 13, 2019

Another horrifying statistic: The incremental increase in the US military budget from 2015 to 2019 was enough to abolish world hunger AND homelessness in the United States!

Donald Trump, the US President, has increased the current military budget of the United States to 686 billion dollars annually. That’s $686,074,048,000. So often today when the social ills that face humanity are brought to the table of political action, we are told that addressing them is simply “impractical”; firstly it is said that it “cannot be afforded”, then it is said to be merely “impractical”, without much more of a reason given beyond the already implied logic of capitalist decision making.

The United States could afford, without any real issue, to raise the military budget from 637 billion in 2015 to the present 686 billion in 2019. That is nearly 50 billion dollars. Why do I bring this up? I bring this up because it is estimated that it would cost about $20 billion for the government to effectively eliminate homelessness in the United States. It is estimated to cost $30 billion dollars annually to completely abolish world hunger from the face of the earth. Together that is 50 billion dollars, or, the equivalent of the small percentage increase our military budget saw between the years 2015 and 2019. In other words, the 7 percent increase on the US military budget between 2015 and 2019 was enough to abolish world hunger and homelessness within the United States. To actually do this? Unthinkable for a capitalist politician. In the minds of the powers that be, this money was better spent going to the military than to meeting human needs and abolishing these grave social ills that we have more than enough power to abolish. This is yet another reason why we as socialists speak of politics as revolutionaries.

From the draft of an upcoming Manifesto of Red Liberty.

With sources:

Cost of Ending US Homelessness: https://thinkprogress.org/infographic-we-could-end-homelessness-with-the-money-americans-spend-on-christmas-decorations-6b49b415668c/

Cost of Ending World Hunger: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/04/news/04iht-04food.13446176.html and https://borgenproject.org/cost-to-end-world-hunger/

US Military Budget: https://dod.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1438798/dod-releases-fiscal-year-2019-budget-proposal/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States

To "Break up" Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple? No! To Democratize Them? Yes! A Reply To Elizabeth Warren

March 10, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has, in true Keynesian spirit, recently unveiled her plan to "break up" the big tech monopolies of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, among others. The critics are accusing Warren of socialism, but in fact, this policy misses the mark entirely and is anything but socialist in nature. The socialists here at Red Liberty would like to reply to these accusations and propose our alternative to Warren's "solution" to this problem.

To the accusers of "socialism", we can recall when Warren quite explicitly stated "I am not a democratic socialist". Indeed, such a plan to "break up" the tech giants which hold a virtual monopoly over our lives is but a temporary fix. Contrary to the ideals of socialism, this "solution" finds its roots not in the ideas of industrial democracy (socialism) but in Keynesian reformism. As socialists, we feel that these measures do not go far enough.

In her blog post Warren said,

"Today’s big tech companies have too much power    too much power over our economy, our society and our democracy... They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. ... That’s why my Administration will make big, structural changes to the tech sector to promote more competition   including breaking up Amazon, Facebook and Google."

We at Red Liberty have hardly anything good to say about these tech giants in regards to ethics. We know that Facebook and Google are champions of the business model of data capitalism, a business model that sells people's private data, stores it indefinitely and uses it in order to further the aims of mass surveillance. Such a business model is wholly contrary to the people's right to privacy, a right that many users do not even realize they are giving up. We know that Apple is a King of proprietary "closed source" software, a form of software that deprives the user of their freedom to really own and control their own devices and digital lives. Not to mention the Chinese sweatshops by which iPhones are manufactured and the Ugandan mines in which the rare earth elements used in iPhones are extracted. Amazon's de facto monopoly is quite self-evident, and working conditions are equally deplorable.

Warren is completely correct when she says "Today’s big tech companies have too much power    too much power over our economy, our society and our democracy". These companies are indispensably necessary in day to day life. They are almost universally used by everyone, and yet we find that they are under the near absolute control of a very small minority- a small minority that sits in a board room and is not held accountable to the interests of the workers or the public at large. Such a minority in a traditional capitalist enterprise, we know, is elected by wealthy shareholders under the principle of "one share, one vote", giving a monopoly to the richest and thus, working almost entirely in the interests of profit alone. Surplus wealth (i.e. profits) produced by the working people in a traditional capitalist enterprise, or more specifically, by the business model itself which uses data indiscriminately as a commodity, belongs solely to the owners of the industry. The goal of capitalism is thus the enrichment of the owners of industry, even though and often do we find, that it is to the detriment of society as a whole. Wealth inequality is inevitable under such a model, as is the concentration of power into the hands of a few rich men and women. The perpetual threat such a model poses to society and to democracy is quite self-evident.

We socialists look at this inherently undemocratic, anti-social business model, and at these giant companies that are public in nearly every sphere of social life but on paper, and claim that the solution to this problem, this excess of power in the hands of an extremely small, extremely wealthy minority, this threat to our society and to our albeit limited political democracy, is precisely the democratization of the enterprise. Warren, in true capitalist spirit, does not see this as a viable solution. For her the solution is, in accordance with the ideas of Keynesianism, the "breaking up" the big tech companies. But history, as we know, tells us that the severing of one of these great heads by the state will, over time, lead to many more to come in its place. Such wounds to a big company will inevitably heal like a Hydra, and the problem Warren is attempting to fix will inevitably rear its head up once again. In time, more monopolies will spring up from this severed head, and the cycle will continue. The lack of democracy in industry will not improve, and neither will the threat the owners of big business pose to "our democracy". That is, after all, the problem Warren seems to have with these tech giants.

The so-called "platform utilities" model to be applied to these businesses is not industrial democracy or public ownership, but, as Warren explains it,

"These companies would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform. Platform utilities would be required to meet a standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users. Platform utilities would not be allowed to transfer or share data with third parties."

We can recall how AT&T was broken up in 1982 for precisely the same reason that Warren today proposes the breaking up of these tech giants. If we are honest in our analysis of history, anyone can see how within a period of 37 years AT&T (the new version), Verizon, and Century Link (all companies of nearly the same stature as the original AT&T bell system) came to the place they now occupy. The head was cut 37 years ago, and in its place 3 new heads of the Hydra of big business were born. Warren seems to not mention this when she refers to America's long standing tradition of breaking up companies when they become too big, even when she mentions the case of AT&T by name. Perhaps we need only more of Warren's Keynesian tactics. Shall we break up AT&T, Verizon, and Century Link again? Should we break up Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook only to have this cycle of undemocracy and the concentration of power over social life in the hands of a small minority of the ruling class continue? This seems to be what Warren is advocating.

The democratization of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and co. would mean these companies served the public interest, were operated for the people and by the people, as opposed to operating for the private interest of a handful of capitalists. The social good of these tech giants would be the primary focus, not a side effect of their business model whose goal was profit alone. This would mean the end of big data capitalism, the end of selling people's private information. It would be a massive blow to mass surveillance, to shady business practices, and to the control the billionaire class has over our society, to political and social life. Google and Facebook would work in the public interest, would operate as representatives of the public interest through genuinely democratic mechanisms. Trade secrets would be abolished, and transparency would prevail. These companies would not hire teams of lawyers to dismiss and dodge allegations of unethical or illegal activity, for this would be a thing of the past!

Such a democratization would further the birth of new enterprises operating in accordance with the principles of industrial democracy and eventually perhaps, lead to the democratic planning of large sectors of the economy. Innovation will spring from competition as it always does, we socialists have no intention to rid the world of incentives to further innovation but on the contrary, to expand them. But innovation will also spring forth from openness, the abolition of trade secrets, cooperation, coordination, and democracy itself. Those who did not innovate would be removed from their positions, and those innovations which did not satisfy the public need would likewise be removed, as is the tradition already. Business efficiency would increase, the ecological impact of these companies be substantially reduced. Democratization would be a blow to the monopoly proprietary software giants hold over the lives of billions of tech users. The News would read of the "opening" of closed source, proprietary programs and operating systems. Democratization would put an end forever to the dangers Warren brings up, and not merely fix it for a few decades as Warren's plan would inevitably do. Democratic control would mean power to the people, for the tree of liberty in the modern age can either expand or die. The ruling class is fiercely against breaking up these tech giants, but it is even more horrified by the idea democratization. This, we feel, is the only viable solution.

This is what the socialists at Red Liberty have to say about the things Warren has said.

Shameless Utopia: Wild Speculations On The Year 3019

February 28, 2019

In 1919 if you were to ask an average person, even in the most advanced nations, what the world would look like in 100 years, not even the wildest dreamers could have imagined the year 2019. A smartphone connecting instantly over the World Wide Web to a person on the other side of the globe for a video conference with the entirety of human knowledge just seconds away. Mans footprint on the moon, images of distant worlds and plans to send microprobes to our nearest star! Even now there is a talk of landing man on Mars to set up a colony! We live in a society of material abundance with the capacity to abolish world hunger and extreme poverty on a global scale ten times over!

What then is all this talk of Utopia? Marx used the term to describe socialists who often had valid critiques of society, albeit came to by unscientific analyses, but whose "prescriptions" for the future were ungrounded in logic or were grounded in unrealistic, often wild assumptions. We speak of utopia not in the Marxian sense of the word here. It is important to note that social problems and contradictions will always exist, that's life. But the problems of yesterday are more and more we are finding, solved today, and more problems thus present themselves to be solved on a higher technical and social level than before.

We are radicals for insisting that the unnecessary social ills that face us today from world hunger to global poverty, from homelessness to the need for human beings to work 40 hours a week, can be solved under present conditions. Anything, it is granted, is seemingly possible today. Men can become women, and women can become men. You can choose the eye color of your baby, go from New York to Beijing in less than a day. But to solve these problems? Problems that financially cost but a drop in the bucket of global wealth? For advocating this we are called utopians! And rightfully so, we demand utopia! Any guess as to what the future would or should look like is utterly utopian by modern standards precisely because the modern world is already utopia by 19th or early 20th century standards, in spite of the many social ills of today. The guessing itself is utopian, to say this will be the future-- and that is not our intent here. But the forms a more advanced society will almost inevitably take, certainly will be utopian by our modern standards of the year 2019. Let the reader understand the difference here.

I wish to give to you here a fanatical piece of writing, full of wild and unfounded speculations; a rosy eyed, only a somewhat educated guess as to our common future. Utopian, certainly by modern standards, but such a society no matter how wondrous it appears would doubtlessly have its own problems that its generation would have to struggle to remedy in the broadest democratic forms of action. I am looking not a hundred, but a thousand years to the future, to the year 3019 by our current calendar. Perhaps such progress will come hundreds of years sooner, or even later! Who is to say? The problems of the future, as are the problems of today, largely regarding questions of liberty and equality. Ideally, everyone would be given an equal chance to succeed in live, equal opportunities, positive liberties, etc. Ideally everyone would have absolute unlimited individual, political, and religious liberty. These are principles everyone ought to aspire towards, principles that in my speculation are woven into the bedrock of the free social institutions of the year 3019.

Utopia and Terror went together quite well in the 20th century. But with our level of technology, we can hope that humanity will find its way without it, for there is a great danger here that cannot be understated. I use the term man and human interchangeably here. Needless to say a revolution in language too, will have likely done away with this linguistic sexism in the year 3019. A word of caution to the reader; in spite of rosy eyed optimism, here too there be monsters!

Leaping into our proverbial time machine, let us look at humanity in the year 3019.

A thousand years into the future on a mostly terraformed Communist Mars, Christian Priests in conformity with the will of biological parents, will baptize infants as they are born from birthing machines and deliverer to them healthily straight to their homes through instant teleportation. On Earth man will live in harmony with nature, having outgrown his childish desire to conquer it. But at the same time the whole human civilization will be different! Between vast expanses of untouched nature, islands will be made from nothing, grand hills and mountains moved at a whim! Man will design his community as a video game developer today creates wondrous fantasy worlds! Every community will have its own personality, it’s own culture, the will of its own people put into action.

State society found its source of strength in unity, in the disillusionment of social and cultural diversity, it sought to purge that which made man unique. In the social base and superstructure of the year 3019, diversity will be seen as richness. The free association of producers through democratic confederalist and communistic ideals, radically libertarian to be sure, will thrive on diversity of culture, people’s, and ideas. The great civilizations of antiquity will be overshadowed a thousand times by true civilization of a liberated humanity. It will be a front for a new renaissance, of a new moral and spiritual rebirth we can aspire to build the bedrock for even today. Psychedelic drugs will undoubtedly play a part in this new culture, and rivers of ideas will flow through liberated minds in the state of the sacred psychedelic experience. On our moon and other astronomical bodies, the largest craters will act as the dishes of massive radio telescopes, far more powerful than anything humankind has yet to construct. With the help of the divine hand which made such craters, we will look deeper into the heavens than ever before. The moon will almost certainly act as an exchange point between the earth and the stars.

Labor, on earth at least if not on other planets and astronomical bodies, will be largely automated, freeing mankind from the million year old curse of hunger and toil. In the process of automation, artificial intelligence will come into being, and in spite of inevitable mistakes and catastrophic incidents of our millennium (or even our century), will come to be recognized as sentient beings with all the rights of man. For a time those aged 20 to 35 will be conscripted to do that which has yet to be automated, then the gap will lesson to 20 to 30, and then to 20 to 25. Still some communities will cherish traditional values, and their right to self-determination will be respected. Even in the year 3019 I predict the Amish will continue to exist!

People will come together to form vast communities and impossible worlds with virtual reality and cybernetics, our internet will be but a predecessor to theirs. Liberty through its prerequisite of privacy, and privacy through its prerequisite of freedom of speech, will be ensured in this new internet by design, and local democracy with an emphasis on respecting the rights of the minority will be the mechanism by which free information passes. This internet will span worlds, connecting men on earth to those on Mars and other celestial bodies instantly through elaborate technologies utilizing quantum entanglement to bypass the limitations of the speed of light!

Some people will refuse cybernetic and genetic modifications of the mind and body, and their right to do so will be respected without question or coercion of any form; locally or centrally, socially or culturally. Cybernetics will be crafted not to bypass individual will or to masquerade as individual will, but to be bound by it (referring to some alarming recent studies on cybernetics and free will). The elderly will be given the option to have new android bodies so they can be young forever, bone marrow transplants and other operations we cannot even dream of will allow for the perpetual healthy state of the human brain, and even purely organic methods of expanding its faculties will undoubtedly come about. Micro-surgeries implanting cybernetic materials into the brain will over time replace biological brain tissue without at all disrupting consciousness, giving humanity the ability to be amortal (to have theoretical immortality). But some humans in albeit different forms, born in this time will outlive our own Sun and Earth as they roam the galaxy. Perhaps in hundreds of thousands or even millions of years they will think back to us!

Buddhist monks, whose minds are contained within machines attached to rockets exhausting a near unlimited source of fuel, utilizing hitherto unknown methods of propulsion, will orbit the planet Neptune in a state of perpetual meditation and psychedelic enlightenment, free to explore the solar system and beyond without the limits of biological bodies or conventional rocketry. Artificial intelligence and flesh and blood human beings seeking new frontiers of discovery and knowledge will be launched into the heavens, to our nearest star Alpha Centauri and beyond. Thus humanity will be assured survival regardless of what happens in our own solar system. Perhaps in this time extraterrestrial civilizations will find us, assuming they haven't already, and we will find them. Perhaps once we have outgrown our infancy, our wars and hunger, we will join an intergalactic or perhaps even multi-galactic community as a species, and greet a widely diverse universe cautiously, but with open arms. Let us hope they can forgive our primitive nature!

The term "person" already expanding to artificial intelligence, will be expanded to extraterrestrial intelligence too, just as the word for person in ancient Egypt, which was once the same word for 'Egyptian', came to mean the whole of humanity in their time too. Mind and thought sharing, through dreams and conscious connection, will become a social trend, assuming its nature is voluntary. The internet will allow thought and consciousness to intermingle with the thoughts and consciousness of an entire civilization, yet I predict conventional HTML will still be used, perhaps HTML 194 to our HTML 5! It will be possible for minds to paint, write, and create entire worlds just as dreams do today, instantly and without the use of hands! Such a time it will be, when one can freely explore the elaborate frontiers, fictional worlds created in the minds of individuals and collectives! Near unlimited sources of energy through cold fusion and other hitherto unknown methods, will by future technologies allow for the near unlimited creation of matter from energy. Those worlds that today exist only in the mind, may be translated into matter through such machines! Perhaps those cryogenically frozen today may wake up in such a time, and oh how I envy them!

I believe marriage will continue to exist, and monogamy will likely still be quite popular. But there will be those who forego marriage and monogamy. The family unit will not merely be nuclear in many instances. Genetic engineering will produce individuals who are intellectually and physically superior to the present man. Insofar as this is voluntary, it will be but a symptom of a free humanity.

On The Road To 3019; Bumps, Bombs, Broken Bridges, and Roadblocks.

This will not come at all peacefully in spite of our best wishes. Social conflicts are inevitable, and before us and them may be many catastrophes, perhaps on a global scale. The chaotic emergence of artificial intelligence, cybernetics, and bio-genetics will undoubtedly bring great risk and conflict. Climate change and the possibility of nuclear war will further endanger the odds of reaching such a state of society. There are other dangers not even mentioned here. Perhaps there will emerge a form of totalitarianism far more severe in its scope and technical ability than anything 20th century fascism or Stalinism ever produced. Here there is a very real danger too, and a great responsibility rests on the shoulders of we radicals who are the vanguard of future civilization.

Even in the worst case scenario, even if we or our great grandchildren, in the wake of ecological or nuclear catastrophe brought about by the present order are relegated for a time to underground bunkers-- the only place that food can grow when the next great extinction event passes over us, even then will mankind-- years, decades, or centuries later-- stick its head up once again to greet a new world. And if man finds that world is still decimated, by horrors we cannot even yet fathom, they will use science to breathe life into it anew. One way or another we will prevail. Long ago what was the entirety of what was to be the modern homo sapiens were huddled together through a terrible freezing storm, the survival of our species hanged by a thread, yet we prevailed. Nothing will change this time too.

Unless an unforeseen asteroid or gamma ray burst is able to wipe us off the face of the earth, or unless we are invaded or obliterated by a hostile extraterrestrial force, we will prevail. One mustn't take this idea as a joke. It would be foolish not to question why the heavens are so silent of any voices like our own. Perhaps the use of radio for communication in most civilizations only lasts for a brief period, or such a period is when most civilizations destroy themselves. Perhaps beyond the nuclear age is another age, relying on a single experiment like the detonation of the first atom bomb, that obliterates any world it is used on. There are still hurdles to be leaped over that we may or may not survive. But there is yet an even more terrible thought, worse even than the possibility of our cosmic loneliness. This is the idea that there was life on other stars near to us, but when it reached our point of development and it began broadcasting its radio waves into the heavens it had already signed its death warrant-- for minds far superior to our own, cold and heartless, with unsympathetic ears, were listening against the cold, empty vastness of space for worlds to destroy. We do not know what is out there, and this mystery inflames the minds of countless men and women. Could it be as wondrous as Star Trek? Or as terrible as War of The Worlds? We simply do not know.

I believe that if we are cautious and have a bit of luck, even in the aftermath of the worst catastrophes, out of the caverns and bunkers we will emerge with all the essential knowledge we have hitherto accumulated. Yet we must stress the ever present necessity of addressing the ills that face us now before some catastrophe "relegates mankind to caverns and bunkers".

It is fun to have dreams and nightmares, imagining what the future may hold. But here we have a great power in our actions of today to determine the course of future events. Let us not be foolish, selfish, or cowardly, for a great responsibility rests upon our shoulders. We must address the crisis of climate change now. We must address the issue of nuclear war now. We must address artificial intelligence, cybernetics, and human genetic engineering now. It was said by Slavoj Zizek that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but for us that light is an oncoming train. So frightful! But we need not fear death by a thousand cuts! Even still, if our species dies out, in millions or billions of years, new intelligences rivaling our own may emerge on this very planet! In digging through the earth, they may find evidence of what once was the old homo sapiens, and perhaps with it great wells of knowledge digitally etched into storage mediums made to last so long. Even if our entire planet was destroyed, we can have faith that somewhere out there is another planet teeming with intelligent life. Even billions of years after we are gone, remnants of the radio waves we have sent out may have been captured by other races. Even then, Voyager 1 and 2 with their golden records will serve as a memorial to us. How can one not understand the beauty of this? Earth is but a small, marvelous piece of God's craftiwork, which transcends the boundless limits of time and space!

An Open Letter To The Cuban People On The New Constitution

February 26, 2019

Originally I intended to post this much sooner in opposition to passing the new constitution on the grounds that it legalizes private property. It is much too late now though, as the constitution has already been passed. The spirit of the letter today can be interpreted as a plea for an alternative both to the undemocracy of the continuation of Stalinist planning and the undemocracy of capitalist private property. Needless to say we fully supported other progressive reforms such as LGBT+ marriage, anti-discrimination legislation, the presumption of innocence, etc. I am posting it regardless because the alternative is still viable to the Cuban people. The party leadership said those who vote against it are "counter-revolutionary", but in actuality the opposite is true! While many reforms were necessary, the legalization of private property is a potential grave digger of the gains of the revolution. The letter may be regarded as a piece of social alarmism. In the face of history I accept this verdict, for it is better to be cautious in these dangerous times. I write in the interests of Liberty. I hope that this letter will have some small impact on the minds of even one Cuban citizen. If I can do just that, I consider my mission accomplished.

The Letter

Citizens of Cuba! You are voting on the approval or disapproval of a recently drafted constitution, a first of its kind in 40 years. Change is undeniable necessary, but in what direction? What will be best for the Cuban people? What will improve their own lives both materially and spiritually? Should the Cuban people support or fight the passing of the new constitution? There are two provisions of concern here to the general public:

-The recognition of private property

-The legalization of LGBT+ marriage

Our view is that the constitution should be fought against. We are against the constitution because we are against the legalization of private property on the premise that we are also against the continuation of Stalinist central planning. Naturally it would be absurd to advocate immediate change, what we do advocate is a gradual transition to real industrial democracy (another word for socialism). We are for the legalization of LGBT+ marriage insofar as it forces no church to perform any ceremony contrary to the religious conscience of the believers-- and there are many churches in favor of having LGBT+ weddings. But as for the economy, how can we be against both the legalization of private property and the continuation of the current model? To answer this question, historical context is needed.

On the 26th of July, 1953, Cuba was liberated from the former dictatorship, and a new popular government was put in its place. This new government espoused the principles of socialism, albeit while modeling itself after the largely totalitarian, bonapartist, model of Stalin's Soviet Union. In spite of its Stalinist character and the inflexible rigidity of a state-capitalist, undemocratic, centrally planned economy in a de facto undemocratic state, the ruling Party along with the Cuban people rightfully recognized the dangers of world imperialism and global capitalism.

Legalizing private property today is but a first step towards a return to the days of Batista when Cuba was no more to the west than a Sugar Plantation, a source of dirt cheap labor, a brothel, and a place for the rich to go to party and gamble. Cuba's stagnant economy doubtlessly needs revitalization, the question is how? Is such a grand capitulation to capitalism necessary to attain this end? Or is it in fact, contrary to this end. Some think anything better than the current system is preferable. We say that the best path is the road less traveled-- neither capitulation to capitalism nor a continuation of the current model! Has Cuba not taken steps in the direction of capitalism? Necessarily, it has, and in many ways this move towards capitalism has brought with it much of the corruption of the old regime. Are the down-trodden people of Cuba not tired? Indeed they are, and many workers inside the country support the new constitution. Unfortunately, the new constitution if passed, will not alleviate the burning desires of the Cuban people for freedom and prosperity. Even if multi-party democracy was instituted, it would not alleviate this burning desire. An alternative is needed, but that alternative lies neither in the Stalinist model of undemocratic, centralized state planning nor in the undemocracy of "free" market capitalism where private property is recognized. What then is the alternative?

State capitalism in Cuba, up until the collapse of the Soviet Union, was a primarily progressive force in Cuban society. Anyone old enough remembers what life was like for the people under Batista knows this, the positive liberties (in regards to healthcare, education, housing, child care, workers rights, etc.) won under Castro would be done away with under the capitalist system. A path different to either Stalinist planning or "free market" capitalism could maintain the positive liberties of Cuba today and bring about the negative liberties so treasured by the "free world" (real freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, etc.) while maintaining social and political stability. In these frustrating times it is all the more necessary to put the Cuban revolution into historical perspective.

The Cuban revolution, while nobly aspiring to the highest ideals of humanity, was nonetheless a Stalinist revolution. Genuine revolutionaries and intellectuals whose hearts trembled at every injustice, seriously looked to Stalin and the social system he embodied as a viable alternative to the misery of the capitalist order. Stalinism of course, attempted to legitimize itself as the "rightful heirs" of the October revolution under Lenin and Trotsky (while of course, erasing the latter figure from history). Furthermore, Stalinism called itself socialist in this spirit to gain popular support of the laboring masses all over the world whose liberty loving hearts longed for socialist democracy. Stalinism claimed to embody the socialism and socialist democracy that workers and oppressed people's all over the world longed for. Stalinism also, necessarily in the same sentence, claimed to embody genuine political democracy. For it is a well-known fact, at least up to that point, that socialism could not exist without genuine democracy. Today it seems absurd to think of Stalin as a democrat. Speaking of the social system in Stalinist Russia, Stalin is quoting as having said,

"This is what we call socialism in daily life, this is what we call a free, socialist life. It is on this basis that our really free and really democratic elections have arisen, elections which have no precedent in the history of mankind."

Che Guevara, a hero for all progressive people's throughout the world, grew up in this confusing time. He was nonetheless a hero, embodying the virtue of a saint and the burning justice of liberty herself. "The life of a single human being", said Che, "is worth a million times more than all the property of the richest man on earth." Che had traveled Latin America in the course of his life and seen with his own eyes the horrors of US imperialism and the world capitalist system. In this time, it is not surprising and, for us, forgiving that Che looked to Stalin as a figure diametrically opposed to this system of oppression and exploitation. Che is quoted as having said, after seeing the horrors of Guatemala under the domination of foreign capital, "I have sworn before a picture of the old and mourned comrade Stalin that I won't rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated." In hindsight we can say that Che believed Stalin's lies, but the ideals Che stood for unquestionably bypass Stalin and the Stalinist system he stood for. Stalin was a fraud who used socialism as a shield to deflect criticisms against himself and the totalitarian system he had constructed in its name. Capitalism happily gave Stalin this victory, for if this was the "socialism" workers were always making trouble about, it would be good to call it precisely that-- so that when people saw the horrors of Stalinism they could say, "oh but this here in the Soviet Union is socialism", and thus, they would not want it. As Chomsky correctly argues time and time again, it is very hard to convince people that the one thing two historic world superpowers agreed on was actually wrong. The victims of Stalin are both those he terrorized, the people under him, and those men and women, as virtuous as saints, who took up arms against capitalist oppression while falling for Stalin's deception that his road had the answers they were looking for. There are some who argue that Che understood this towards the end. He is said to have been carrying books by Leon Trotsky towards the end of his life. Whether or not he ascribed to Trotsky's ideas at the very end remains unclear. What is clear however, is that the Cuban revolution emerged as a vestige of Stalinism, its political and social system still takes Stalinist forms.

Socialism itself is defined as "a range of economic and social systems characterized by social ownership of the means of production and workers democratic self-management". A centrally planned economy is regarded as meeting the criteria for socialism only insofar as the mechanisms used to plan the economy (i.e. the state) are genuinely democratic. The legitimacy and healthiness of a democracy under a one-party Marxist-Leninist (Stalinist) state need not be mentioned here, for its nature is quite self-evident. An undemocratic centrally planned economy meets the criteria for state-capitalism, and that can sometimes still be a progressive force. Needless to say, the socialist mode of production, by its simplest definition, was not realized in the undemocratic, centrally planned economy of the past, precisely because they were in practice, undemocratic. Cuba's economy up until now has been largely state capitalist in nature, but it has been a form of state capitalism that has a largely progressive role in the lives of countless working people. In spite of the brutal imperialist embargo, the lives of the poorest Cubans are significantly better relative to the lives of the poorest people's of other Latin American countries under the yoke of foreign capital and imperialist domination, even in Latin American countries that are wealthier than Cuba.

It is widely accepted that the idea of "socialism in one country", as advocated by Stalin is impossible, or at the very least extremely impractical. History shows that such a model leads to economic stagnation (through lack of democracy and/or autarky) and eventually to economic and social collapse. The lives of working people may get better for a time, but stagnation is inevitable. Any notion that Cuba can continue under a centrally planned economy without substantial foreign aid or economic and political is utopian. Without a Soviet like superpower to help her, her economy will continue to decline under the present model.

But socialism is such a wide school of thought, socialist modes of production so diverse in possible applications, that the idea of "central planning vs. private property" seems absurd to anyone familiar with its diversity. The Marxist critique of capitalism has led to many schools of socialist thought. Modern Marxian economist Richard Wolff takes Marx's critique of capitalism (a very valid critique) as something that in the modern world could be addressed by Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises. Marx after all, never gave "prescriptions" as how to address the problems his critiques scientifically and empirically revealed beyond the general idea of the working people of the world uniting to democratically figure out how to transcend this predatory system of exploitation. Lenin attempted to do so, so did many anarchists. The diversity here in socialist thought is truly astounding.

Even within the framework of a market economy, Dr. Wolff looks to many examples, both modern and historic, of economic models whose primary feature is workers ownership and democratic management on the enterprise level. Under such a system, workers democratically control their own work-places, either directly at the local level or hierarchically by democratically electing (yes, electing!) their own CEO's and members of a company's Board of Directors, who in turn determine company policy in all its complexities, and are at all times re-callable and accountable to the workers and the public at large. Under the traditional capitalist model (which this constitution would endorse), such Board Members would be responsible only to a number of wealthy share-holders, most of whom are in the richest 1% of society. They would be responsible for determining how much they got paid, and how much the workers who produced the wealth got paid. They would work not in the interests of the workers or the public at large, but in the interests of their own bank accounts. Democracy at work would regard public companies as responsible to the public, it would bring power to the streets where the people live. This is not at all theoretical, all over the world, in Italy for instance, such Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises are coming into being. Italy even gives unemployed workers incentives for creating such (socialist) enterprises. When a worker in Italy is unemployed, they receive a check from the government every so often while they look for new work. But at the same time, the government gives them an alternative option to get 2 years worth of unemployment checks at one time if they, with 7 or so other unemployed workers, agree to start a workers self-directed enterprise. In this way, socialism is incentivized into a capitalist economy. A country such as Cuba could put forth even more radical policies in this regard. Perhaps a balance could be found between Workers Self-Directed Enterprises and open and democratic planning. This is but one possible example of socialism, an example of which that is viable even in a market economy.

The new Cuban constitution represents an almost complete counter-revolution, it foregoes all possible alternatives and surrenders the Cuban people to the domination of the capitalist system. At the same time, it opens the door to world imperialism. The revolution against capitalism was just, the forms it took in addressing the ills of the former society in many ways was not. Real industrial democracy would likely work towards the democratization and opening up of Cuban society as a whole, without the political and social destabilization that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the bloodshed of Tienanmen Square. I am not here to give the specifics of what an ideal constitution would say, the new constitution is a question for the Cuban people themselves. But if such a question is not seriously asked and debated, then all is lost.

Do the Cuban people want to continue on the road of Stalinism? They unquestionably do not. Do the Cuban people want to go on the road of capitalism, opening the way for imperialism? The Cuban people are tired, and many may see this as a possible alternative, but many Cubans understand the danger here. If this constitution passes, it is my belief that the Cubans will regret it 10 or 15 years down the road just as the people of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union regretted not looking into alternatives to their own predicament. There are two examples that come to mind here when considering a capitulation to capitalism in Cuba: that of China and that of the Soviet Union. Capitalism in the Soviet Union destroyed Soviet society, its effects on life expectancy alone paint a broad enough picture as to the horrors such "reforms" can wrought upon a people. In many Eastern European countries, people say that life was better under Stalinism than it is now. Such statistics are less to paint a virtuous picture of the horrors of Stalinism than to show the very real horrors of capitalism and world imperialism. In China, many millions were brought out of extreme poverty by capitalism under the strict control of the Chinese State. But China is still a dictatorship, one of the most authoritarian in the world, it is even more authoritarian than the one the Cuban people are under today. This unfreedom too, is a vestige of Stalinism. It is absolutely absurd to speak of socialism without liberty, this too can be viably addressed if the Cuban people opt for a different road than the one they are on. As Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg argued in her day,

"Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party however numerous they may be is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when “freedom” becomes a special privilege...

Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously at bottom, then, a clique affair a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins."

Cuba is ripe for a spiritual and political rebirth, but that rebirth can take many different forms. It could be a spring of popular rule, a spiritual rebirth, a flowering of countless opinions and ideas. It could bring forth industrial democracy, real socialism as an alternative to Stalinist planning, and over time, it could bring forth real liberty for the Cuban people. Cuba could in time become a bastion of freedom and democracy in the world, an aspiring model for all people's. At the same time it could be a bastion of socialist democracy, a fortress against world imperialist domination. Perhaps in time, it could become the world's first successful example of revolutionary democratic socialism in practice. But today the opposite seems to be on the table. On the horizon there appears to be a spring of political and social counter-revolution in the highest echelons of the party bureaucracy. If the constitution passes, the party bureaucracy itself will almost certainly grow rich off the blood and sweat of the Cuban people. This could mean Cuba progresses down the Chinese model of brutally successful state-capitalism at the expense of even further diminished civil liberties, or the party bureaucracy could complete the counter-revolution even more totally and abandon it entirely-- in which case the Cuban people would suffer the same hardships as the people of the former Soviet Union suffered in the 1990's along with the imperialist domination of the country. Which do you prefer? Increased dictatorship and the further diminishing of civil liberties or exponentially worsened poverty, inequality, and the eventual installment of a new Batista-like dictator? These are two extremes, admittedly, but nonetheless the threat here is very real and it should be taken seriously. In popular discourse the "other option" (i.e. in not passing the constitution) is a continuation of the status quo, which to many seems equally deplorable. This "other option" however, is not the only "other option". Do you not realize that real socialism is on the table? We are not speaking of "socialism" as Stalin spoke of it, in the same way he spoke of his "genuinely free elections" and his "real democracy". We are speaking of socialism proper, albeit in a different form than the one Fidel or Che imagined. Where in Cuba are the capitalists to oppose you if you go down such a path? They are nothing to the capitalists faced by the Latin Americans of other nations under the yoke of US imperialism. Cuba longs to come into the 21st century, let the Cuban people freely discuss and debate all possible options!

In summation of our views:

-For the new constitution? No.

-The legalization of private property? Neither that nor a continuation of the Stalinist planning, let the Cuban people find their own way in order to reduce the inevitable human suffering both positions would bring. What alternatives are there? There are many. Perhaps, even in a market based economy, in the form of workers self-directed enterprises; where corporations are democratically run and boards of directors are responsible to the workers and the public at large. This is a viable alternative to both the undemocracy and rigidity of Stalinist planning and the undemocracy and inequality of the capitalist enterprise. Such a position would likely lead to a stable democratization and opening up of Cuban society. This is a path to genuine socialism and real liberty.

-The legalization of gay marriage? The constitution might not pass due to its legalization of gay marriage. The church leads the resistance of the new constitution on this basis alone. Do we support the legalization of gay marriage? Absolutely, but at the same time we respect the rights of each individual church and congregation to decide whether or not to have gay weddings in accordance with their own religious views and individual consciences. It is immoral for the state to forbid gay marriage, just as it is immoral for the state to force a church to perform it. Let those opposed be opposed, that is their right and such a right I will defend to the death, but let not those opposed force their opposition on the whole of society, that is in violation of the ideals of liberty which every socialist ought to aspire to embody. There are many churches and many congregations who would happily perform gay weddings and I for one applaud them. Our opposition to the new constitution is on the basis of private property alone. We fully endorse the rights of LGBT+ people's all over the world.

Needless to say we are in favor of the following provisions:

-The creation of a two consecutive five-year term limit imposed on the president;

-Extending the terms of municipal council delegates to five years;

-Banning discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability, (formerly included leading to the possible legalization of same-sex marriage)

-The restoration of a presumption of innocence in the justice system, last provided for in the 1940 constitution.

Cuban citizens! The future of your children is in your hands! The revolutionaries in the 20th century were radical and creative; be radical and creative yourselves!

Neither a continuation Stalinist planning nor the legalization of private property!

Down with the new constitution and its provision to legalize private property!

Defend the reforms advocated for, draft a new constitution that removes the provisions on private property!

Fight to create real Citizen's and Worker's democracy-- both politically and industrially!

¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

The Need For The People To Invoke Their Right To Amend or Rewrite The Constitution

January 28, 2019

"Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them, like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well: I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading: and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know, also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. It is this preposterous idea which has lately deluged Europe in blood. Their monarchs, instead of wisely yielding to the gradual changes of circumstances, of favoring progressive accommodation to progressive improvement, have clung to old abuses, entrenched themselves behind steady habits, and obliged their subjects to seek through blood and violence rash and ruinous innovations, which, had they been referred to the peaceful deliberations and collected wisdom of the nation, would have been put into acceptable and salutary forms. Let us follow no such examples, nor weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another of taking care of itself, and of ordering its own affairs. Let us, as our sister States have done, avail ourselves of our reason and experience, to correct the crude essays of our first and unexperienced, although wise, virtuous, and well-meaning councils. And, lastly, let us provide in our constitution for its revision at stated periods. What these periods should be, nature herself indicates. By the European tables of mortality, of the adults living at any one moment of time, a majority will be dead in about nineteen years. At the end of that period, then, a new majority is come into place; or, in other words, a new generation. Each generation is as independent of the one preceding, as that was of all which had gone before. It has, then, like them, a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its own happiness; consequently, to accommodate to the circumstances in which it finds itself, that received from its predecessors: and it is for the peace and good of mankind, that a solemn opportunity of doing this every nineteen or twenty years, should be provided by the constitution; so that it may be handed on, with periodical repairs, from generation to generation, to the end of time, if any thing human can so long endure. It is now forty years since the constitution of Virginia was formed. The same tables inform us, that, within that period, two thirds of the adults then living are now dead. Have then the remaining third, even if they had the wish, the right to hold in obedience to their will, and to laws heretofore made by them, the other two thirds, who, with themselves, compose the present mass of adults? If they have not, who has? The dead? But the dead have no rights. They are nothing; and nothing cannot own something. Where there is no substance, there can be no accident. This corporeal globe, and every thing upon it, belong to its present corporeal inhabitants, during their generation. They alone have a right to direct what is the concern of themselves alone, and to declare the law of that direction: and this declaration can only be made by their majority. That majority, then, has a right to depute representatives to a convention, and to make the constitution what they think will be best for themselves. But how collect their voice? This is the real difficulty. If invited by private authority to county or district meetings, these divisions are so large, that few will attend; and their voice will be imperfectly or falsely pronounced. Here, then, would be one of the advantages of the ward divisions I have proposed. The mayor of every ward, on a question like the present, would call his ward together, take the simple yea or nay of its members, convey these to the county court, who would hand on those of all its wards to the proper general authority; and the voice of the whole people would be thus fairly, fully, and peaceably expressed, discussed, and decided by the common reason of the society. If this avenue be shut to the call of sufferance, it will make itself heard through that of force, and we shall go on, as other nations are doing, in the endless circle of oppression, rebellion, reformation; and oppression, rebellion, reformation, again; and so on, for ever.

These, Sir, are my opinions of the governments we see among men, and of the principles by which alone we may prevent our own from falling into the same dreadful track. I have given them at greater length than your letter called for. But I cannot say things by halves; and I confide them to your honor, so to use them as to preserve me from the gridiron of the public papers. If you shall approve and enforce them, as you have done that of equal representation, they may do some good. If not, keep them to yourself as the effusions of withered age, and useless time. I shall, with not the Less truth, assure you of my great respect and consideration."

-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Samuel Kerchival - July 12, 1816

We at Red Liberty believe that in order to best represent the will of the people as they actually exist in American society, at a minimum, the kind of constitutional reform advocated by Thomas Jefferson in his private letters is necessary. Jefferson himself, over 200 years after the above excerpt was written, now exists in the mystical veil of sanctimonious reverence he himself criticized. A "founding father", we quote him at length here precisely because of the reverence so many fellow Americans hold for the ruling class of that generation. This idea, though it may seem radical in how it shatters the mystical, almost religious reverence so many hold of the nation's founding documents, was itself a believed necessity in the minds of those who founded the Republic. As the socialists we are, we are far more optimistic than Jefferson as to the emancipatory potential of humankind. This time, when the oppression and exploitation of the present day is reconciled with the free will of the informed people, in our society of material abundance, we believe a real possibility for the abolition of all institutional forms of oppression and exploitation presents itself. Furthermore, the internet provides the people with the possibility of a grassroots initiative of popular assemblies all over the nation, to be decentralized, that is, best representing the will of the people as they actually exist, while also being enormously wide in scope. The class implications here are also apparent, such a meeting of people's blocks out in form and execution, the corrupting influence the billionaire class has on existing institutions.

Today we find ourselves on the edge of oblivion. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that we have only 12 years to limit the catastrophic consequences of climate change, yet one of the two ruling parties of this country refuses to even admit that climate change is real. We the millennials, even when working full time, increasingly find ourselves unable to afford higher education, rent, and the basic necessities of life in the richest country in the world. Not making enough to survive, things have only gotten worse for us. And what, we must ask, of the generations to come? We are the children of cyberspace. The technically inclined among us use VPN's or Tor to connect to the internet because we know we are being watched illegally, and unethically by our own government and by the governments of the world. Nearly everyone informed on this issue is alarmed. We believe information should be free, cyberspace has no borders, regognizes no walls, no barriers, no outside authority. As the surveillance state grows stronger and stronger with less and less accountability, where here is the consent of the governed? Consent that is passive is granted, but true consent requires one to be informed, and even our own conservative courts when informed on the issue at hand deem these illegal programs, that have only accelerated in totality since we the people found out about them, to be "Orwellian in scope". When can we acknowledge that privacy in the digital age is a fundamental prerequisite to civil liberty? In the history books that describe the descent of the 21st century into despotism, or with our own voices today?

How is it that there are 5 empty homes for every homeless person in the richest country in the world? We already produce enough food to feed 10 billion people a year, yet world hunger still persists. We give to charities and then stop thinking about the issues at hand. Why? Trump wanted 5 billion dollars for a border wall. To end homelessness in the United States, what is the estimated cost? 20 billion dollars. To end world hunger, what is the estimated cost? 30 billion dollars. Neither party is talking about this, and for good reason. Such facts pose an existential threat to the capitalist system. What of the institutional racism of the American criminal injustice system? For an entire community to view the police as a menace to the community, yet to still be subjugated to them, that Citizens is a menace to democracy. America has more prisoners than any other nation. Prisoners are routinely subjected to solitary confinement, cruel and unusual punishment- torture by any other name to be sure, and used legally as slave labor. Trans women are sent to male prisons, and trans men are sent to female prisons. How many times do we hear of Trans women being raped 1000's of times in all male prisons? We know European prisons boast only 20% of inmates returning to prison, in America that number is well over 80%. People still want to "debate" the legitimacy of trans rights, but when such fundamental questions such as human rights are put up for debate, we have a serious problem. It is our own "War on Drugs", our own imperialistic foreign policy, our own imperialist socioeconomic system that is responsible for the rampant crime and poverty that affects Latin America. Those of us informed on the issues at hand know that prohibition does not work, we see clearly how Portugal's decriminalization of all drugs has led to drastic decreases in drug related deaths, addiction, use, and disease. Yet the prospect of drug decriminalization, legalization, and free treatment for addicts in our country is deemed "too radical" by both parties to be even considered.

Those of us who are informed understand the absurdity of the present socioeconomic and political system. As socialists, we advocate neither corporate dictatorship in the workplace nor dictatorial state management over the enterprise, but rather, we advocate industrial democracy for the worker and the public at large! To what degree this or that measure or policy is to be implemented? We have no "ready made plan" of action. We leave it to the free expression and debate of the people themselves. Before it's Stalinist degeneration, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the 1960's rightfully recognized that our present society was not a democracy. Just as the Greek city slave states were both a dictatorship of the slave owner and a democracy through the slave owner, our modern society is a democracy of the capitalist class and a dictatorship of that class at the same time. Jefferson to his lasting credit, knew this day would come. The founding fathers did not think their experiment would last this long, and to it's credit it has achieved miracles. Jefferson thought every 19 or so years the new generation should speak for itself in the name of democracy, amending the constitution or drafting a new one where necessary. By such logic, a radical change embodying the active consent of the people is 10 times overdue! Jefferson and his generation have no right to speak for us, Jefferson himself said so!

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

As democracy divorces itself more and more from capitalism, those in power expect us to stand idly by. We will not be a party to the death of liberty, to the death of democracy. If necessary we will preserve and expand liberty and democracy at the cost of our lives. As 12 years come down to 0, we are expected to beg for concession after concession so that our children might survive what they have wrought upon us. We are expected to blame climate change on the individual, to "stop using plastic bags and plastic straws", to "bike to work" and not to challenge the corporations that mercilessly plunder and pollute the earth, not to challenge those really responsible for our predicament. The present socioeconomic and political order, in it's nihilistic, anti-scientific, and reluctant attitude towards the scientific consensus, and in its unabashed corruption in this regard, is fundamentally destructive to the Life of humankind and all future generations. The unprecedented increase in far-right authoritarianism in the most "stable" democracies of the world, along with the emergence of Orwellian, illegal government mass surveillance programs and its violations of the people's right to privacy, fundamentally endangers one of the only prerequisites to the existence of civil Liberty in our age. Indeed we must say that it is destructive to Liberty itself. And what of the pursuit of Happiness? I will quote here from my friend and fellow writer Christian Chiakulas:

“In a world that produces enough food to feed each and every one of us, starvation is violence. In a society where vacant houses outnumber homeless people six to one, homelessness is violence. A country in which health insurance companies rake in billions in profits while leaving nearly thirty million people uninsured and unable to access medical care is a violent society. This is the everyday violence of capitalism if it is profitable to let somebody die, or languish in abject poverty, we do so. That is a violent society.”

More than violence, such a state of affairs are a menace to the pursuit of Happiness. We have established thusly, that the present socioeconomic order, and the government with it, has become destructive to the ends of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. We therefore must see it as justified to invoke the right of the people to alter or abolish the present government if we are to be true to reason and to ourselves. We must have no fear in saying this, for it is the right of the present generation to do so, a right recognized by the fundamental founding documents of the United States itself. We must cast aside the sanctimonious reverence so many of us have for the constitution, it is our duty to rewrite it if we the people deem it to be necessary. What power do I at Red Liberty have in this regard? I have no power, all political power rests solely with in the hands of the people themselves. I am one of them, but without them I am nothing. They will either dismiss me as some isolated radical or take the initiative themselves to forge their own futures, in time I think these measures will be seen as having been inevitable. What I propose is not some violent revolution, but that the people come together at the grassroots level, in popular assemblies, and discuss what kind of future they want, what kind of society they want to live in, what kind of government, if any, they desire. The people at such assemblies would not be ignorant of the issues at had, they would call in experts where necessary, to educate the people and themselves. Does this mean such things need be applied having been debated and drafted? Not necessarily. The act itself can be but a matter of future precedent, an experiment if not a revolution, though revolution itself is always an experiment of sorts, the greatest of all experiments. Experiments such as those of the recent Congress of People's Resistance organized of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) are promising in this regard, even if we condemn the PSL's Stalinist political line. The website for the Congress of People's Resistance puts it well when it says, "U.S. Congress is a Multi-Millionaires' Club. It's time to build a #PeoplesCongress". We cannot help but agree.

I would like to give here my predictions as to what would come of such a thing. Of course, many of these predictions are far more radical in scope than what would today be considered popular opinion. I make these speculations with an understanding that not only would the people would have to be informed on the issues at hand, but moreover I make these speculations keeping in mind the spirit of all revolutions and revolutionary movements. As the people become more involved in public life and are swept away in the turn of events, popular opinion and the vanguard movements of popular opinion become more and more radicalized. This, history tells us, is the general course of development in all the great historic social revolutions of modern history; the English Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution. It is the typical course of every first general reckoning of the revolutionary forces begotten within the womb of bourgeois society. Its development moves naturally in an ascending line: from moderate beginnings to ever-greater radicalization of aims and, parallel with that, from a coalition of classes and parties to the sole rule of the radical vanguard of the formerly oppressed people's (paraphrasing Rosa Luxemburg).

Not funded or corrupted by big business or corporate power, I believe the Bill of Rights would be radically expanded. New amendments would be passed by the people themselves that were just as, if not more radical than the first Bill of Rights was in its day. The biggest corporations would be socialized and democratized, made to work by and for the people themselves, with rights always guaranteed to the minority, and not for the profit of the few The media too, I believe, would be democratized and decentralized, becoming grassroots, ruthless adversarial journalism made to inform the people and not to profit off of them through flashy headlines and clickbait. The fourth amendment would be restored by the prohibition of mass surveillance and the architecture of the internet itself would be altered to make it decentralized, secure and privacy respecting by default. The government insofar as it exists, would be made to be 100% transparent. There would be transparency for the powerful and privacy for everyone else. Perhaps most importantly to the future of humankind, the people, not corrupted by lobbying and misinformation from the fossil fuel industry and the billionaire class, but thoroughly informed on the scientific consensus, would advocate the immediate and emergency rapid divergence from fossil fuels and its replacement with 100% green, renewable energy. Plastics and other polluting industries would be replaced with ecological ones or allowed only under strict conditions. There would be mass reforestation initiatives and a serious focus on preparedness for the impending consequences of climate change for the generations to come, even for "worse than the worst case scenario". The current Bill of Rights rightfully recognizes negative liberty, but as far as positive liberty goes, there is none. It was as absurd to speak of a right to healthcare in 1774 as it was to speak of freedom of the press in pre-agricultural society. There is no reason anyone in our society should be homeless, hungry, or in a state of material poverty. We have the ability to sustainably abolish forever these grave social ills 20 times over, and many times more so! Such conditions are a menace to liberty. The world of material scarcity that produced our Constitution and Bill of Rights no longer exists. Today in our world of material abundance, it is our right and our duty to actively decide for ourselves what kind of a world, if any, we want for our children. Inaction is to let a generation that knew not our world to govern it. Inaction here is to declare the future of humankind as good as dead in the name of profit. The people would in time, realize that they had far more in common with the citizens and working people of every other country than with their own ruling class, and the people's of the world would increasingly come to the same conclusion. As Anarchist Emma Goldman said in 1908,

"Thinking men and women the world over are beginning to realize that patriotism is too narrow and limited a conception to meet the necessities of our time. The centralization of power has brought into being an international feeling of solidarity among the oppressed nations of the world; a solidarity which represents a greater harmony of interests between the workingman of America and his brothers abroad than between the American miner and his exploiting compatriot; a solidarity which fears not foreign invasion, because it is bringing all the workers to the point when they will say to their masters, "Go and do your own killing. We have done it long enough for you."

The military would serve to be a purely defensive apparatus of the people. It would not invade other countries, it would not intimidate the people's of the world, it would respect the right to national self-determination of other nation, viewing it as a prerequisite to its own freedom and sovereignty.

We do not believe it is possible to adequately address the climate crisis under capitalism. Green social-democrats often look to Norway as an staple of Green capitalism, a model to the rest of the world. But in spite of Norway having moved to 100% Green energy, it's top exports are still all in the polluting industries. The top exports of Norway are Crude Petroleum($45.1B) Petroleum Gas ($43.6B), and Refined Petroleum ($6.56B), all of which are fossil fuels. This is a prime example of the impossibility to fully address this issue under capitalism. But at least it is a step in the right direction. We should mention here that as of late, while fossil fuels are still Norway's top exports, its second top export is fish in the midst of global excesses in regards to ocean fishing! Norway has created a fortress of ecology within its own national borders, it has merely ‘exported’ the crisis of climate change to other countries! In the alternatives we look towards, a country (Norway, for instance) could stop fossil fuel exports and resource exploitation entirely without a serious hit to its economy as other countries would provide it with needed material aid. As Murray Bookchin said,

"To speak of 'limits to growth' under a capitalistic market economy is as meaningless as to speak of limits of warfare under a warrior society. The moral pieties, that are voiced today by many well-meaning environmentalists, are as naive as the moral pieties of multinationals are manipulative. Capitalism can no more be 'persuaded' to limit growth than a human being can be 'persuaded' to stop breathing. Attempts to 'green' capitalism, to make it 'ecological', are doomed by the very nature of the system as a system of endless growth."

While an authoritarian state-capitalist model such as that of the present day People's Republic of China has the potential to begin addressing the climate crisis in a serious way, it can do so only at the expense of the freedom and democracy of the people. This to us is unacceptable. The Chinese model is by far the most successful model of capitalist economics today. If one wishes to see the future of capitalism, they need look no further than China. No other school of economics to date comes close in terms of success and stability. Yet in spite of this, we think the advent of popular political democracy at the local level with the emergence of genuine industrial democracy has the potential to blow the Chinese state-capitalist model out of the water. Its focus would not merely be production for the sake of production, with no regard whatsoever to the social and ecological consequences of its actions, but on meeting human needs and to expand the state of human liberty and the dignity and quality of life. It would replace the feudal, dictatorial methods with which modern day corporations are managed, with the principles all Americans claim to aspire to embody- democracy. Do we as Americans, not claim to love liberty and democracy? The current order endangers the very foundations of all Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. It is a menace to democracy itself.

Citizens, our generation will have none of it! It's high time the American people come together to create a socioeconomic and political system that embodies their active, not their passive consent. A system that embodies the hopes, dreams, aspirations, and values of the people as they exist today, not as they existed in 1774. I tip my hat to Mr. Jefferson, who recognized our right to do this. Citizens, it's high time our generation said for itself what kind of a world it wants. If we care at all for liberty, for democracy, if they are more than empty words for us, then we must act now. For if we do not act now, the generations of tomorrow will not forgive us!

What Can Rojava Learn From The Hacker Community?

I decided to write this post after reading on the Internationalist Commune website (Rojava), "If you have ideas for new projects to contribute to our work we are happy to hear from you." I decided to write this post because I do have ideas that I believe may greatly increase the freedom of the people of Rojava in regards to the digital world. Perhaps I am shamelessly utopian in my dreaming of a truly liberated world, in my enthusiasm for what is happening in Rojava today, for a truly free and democratic world. Regardless, I do hope the reader will take my views seriously, for I say that anything is possible today. As a disclaimer it should be noted that the word "Hacker" is subjected to as much misuse as the words "Socialism", "Anarchism", and "Communism". We are not here referring to criminality. A hacker is someone who writes code, a cracker (a more specific form of hacker) is someone who specializes in breaking into computer systems, both with permission (white hats) and without permission (black hats), and those who break the written law whilst still a biding by the law of morality (grey hats). Though generally there is some overlay, we are referring primarily here to the former and not the latter.

The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (Rojava) is actively striving for total liberation of the Kurdish people from every possible form of institutionalized oppression and exploitation, including and especially the oppression that comes from the nation state. When thinking of institutions, the Internet naturally comes to mind, and Syria's Internet is anything but free. I am not talking here of state censorship which is another matter, but of surveillance.

On 29 November 2012, almost all Internet connectivity between Syria and the outside world was cut off. In the midst of the civil war, one side blamed the other, and the fighting intensified. It was not until 2014, two years later, that the world learned of the real culprit thanks to the heroic act of a Mr. Edward Snowden: it was the American government, the NSA. You see, by that time the surveillance of the Syrian nation by the National Security Agency of the United States was so intense that it had managed to "filter" the entirety of Syria's Internet through NSA owned servers. The "blackout" happened due to a catastrophic failure at an NSA owned data center. This surveillance almost certainly continues to this day, and in all likelihood is far more intense. If the Americans can do it, what of Turkey, America's so-called ally? What of the government of Iraq? The Russian government? ISIS? What about the companies that provide the people of Rojava their Internet connections and phone data? Can they be trusted not to spy on the people of Rojava?

I would not call myself an anarchist, but I agree with Proudhon when he said this of authority:

“To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so."
In Rojava the people are effectively learning to govern themselves thanks to the principles of Democratic Confederalism, but insofar as they are being watched, even by a foreign power, they cannot be truly free. In the spirit of the fact that "Freedom is always the freedom of dissent" (a paraphrase of a quote by Rosa Luxemburg), I wrote recently in a post titled "Why Every Activist Should Use a VPN/Tor and Oppose Mass Surveillance" the following:
"Privacy in the digital age is the only real prerequisite to civil liberty. One is not truly free to dissent if one is being watched at every moment, (it is a well known and independently verifiable fact that people alter their behaviors when they are being watched, especially by authorities, and especially when these authorities retain everything a person said or thought or did indefinitely) and if one is being watched at every moment, one is not free at all. One doesn’t even have to wield this power to the fullest extent possible to destroy human liberty, its very existence is a terminal illness to every form of human freedom. In light of the horrendous abuses of power by NSA, GCHQ, and its accomplices, the Marxist left is bound by its principles to fight against mass surveillance, for the preservation of human freedom. We are bound by our principles to fight against these abuses of power in the political realm, but it is also necessary to protect ourselves and our communities at the individual level as well."
The people of Rojava are more capable of reaching a greater state of real freedom and democracy than any other people on the face of the earth. I have stated previously that it is my firm belief that the Greek democracies of antiquity are to our modern society, what Rojava is to the world of tomorrow. In the midst of such revolutionary potential, I believe it necessary for the people of Rojava to look towards ensuring and maintaining freedom in the digital world as well as in the physical. We used to say that a woman's home is her castle, now it is a woman's phone that is her castle.

Before going further, I felt it necessary to quote in part, Julian Assange's introduction to his book Cypherpunks, titled Introduction: A Cryptographic Call To Arms. I highly recommend anyone interested in internet freedom to go out and read the book itself, as it is a very interesting read:

"The platonic nature of the internet, ideas and information flows, is debased by its physical origins. Its foundations are fiber optic cable lines stretching across the ocean floors, satellites spinning above our heads, computer servers housed in buildings in cities from New York to Nairobi. Like the soldier who slew Archimedes with a mere sword, so too could an armed militia take control of the peak development of Western civilization, our platonic realm.

The new world of the internet, abstracted from the old world of brute atoms, longed for independence. But states and their friends moved to control our new worldby controlling its physical underpinnings. The state, like an army around an oil well, or a customs agent extracting bribes at the border, would soon learn to leverage its control of physical space to gain control over our platonic realm. It would prevent the independence we had dreamed of, and then, squatting on fiber optic lines and around satellite ground stations, it would go on to mass intercept the information flow of our new worldits very essenceeven as every human, economic, and political relationship embraced it. The state would leech into the veins and arteries of our new societies, gobbling up every relationship expressed or communicated, every web page read, every message sent and every thought googled, and then store this knowledge, billions of interceptions a day, undreamed of power, in vast top secret warehouses, forever. It would go on to mine and mine again this treasure, the collective private intellectual output of humanity, with ever more sophisticated search and pattern finding algorithms, enriching the treasure and maximizing the power imbalance between interceptors and the world of interceptees. And then the state would reflect what it had learned back into the physicalworld, to start wars, to target drones, to manipulate UN committees and trade deals, and to do favors for its vast connected network of industries, insiders and cronies.

But we discovered something. Our one hope against total domination. A hope that with courage, insight and solidarity we could use to resist. A strange property of the physical universe that we live in.

The universe believes in encryption.

It is easier to encrypt information than it is to decrypt it.

We saw we could use this strange property to create the laws of a new world. To abstract away our new platonic realm from its base underpinnings of satellites, undersea cables and their controllers. To fortify our space behind a cryptographic veil. To create new lands barred to those who control physical reality, because to follow us into them would require infinite resources.

And in this manner to declare independence.

Scientists in the Manhattan Project discovered that the universe permitted the construction of a nuclear bomb. This was not an obvious conclusion. Perhaps nuclear weapons were not within the laws of physics. However, the universe believes in atomic bombs and nuclear reactors. They are a phenomenon the universe blesses, like salt, sea or stars.

Similarly, the universe, our physical universe, has that property that makes it possible for an individual or a group of individuals to reliably, automatically, even without knowing, encipher something, so that all the resources and all the political will of the strongest superpower on earth may not decipher it. And the paths of encipherment between people can mesh together to create regions free from the coercive force of the outer state. Free from mass interception. Free from state control.

In this way, people can oppose their will to that of a fully mobilized superpower and win. Encryption is an embodiment of the laws of physics, and it does not listen to the bluster of states, even transnational surveillance dystopias.

It isn’t obvious that the world had to work this way. But somehow the universe smiles on encryption.

Cryptography is the ultimate form of non-violent direct action."

As an activist and a self-proclaimed computer nerd, I have found myself drawn to the Free Software community, which advocates the exclusive use of free (as in freedom) software that respects the users freedom to know what the software is doing, to change the software, and to redistribute modified versions of the software. That freedom is not abstract but real. Only when software is free can a user have control over the software, and not the other way around. The Free Software Foundation views the issue of free vs. proprietary software not as a matter of personal preference, but of individual and social liberty, and I cannot help but agree. In addition to this I have been an avid GNU/Linux enthusiast, favoring the free and democratic, community driven initiatives behind the Linux world over the proprietary corporate monopolies of Microsoft and Apple. It's no secret that Microsoft tells the NSA about security vulnerabilities in its software (including Windows) before patching them, and Apple along with other tech giants were most prominently featured on leaked NSA PRISM slides. I have also been a supporter of efforts to restore privacy and build individual liberty in the digital age. One of the projects I actively contribute to is called I2P (The Invisible Internet Project). The featured image is of Itoopie (the I2P mascot) standing with the International Freedom Batallion while waving the flag of Rojava. When explaining the need for such technologies, I often find myself quoting what American founding father John Adams once wrote to Thomas Jefferson,
“When people talk of the Freedom of Writing, Speaking, or thinking, I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more.” (15 July 1817)
Technologies such as I2P actively seek to bring about in practice the genuine and unfettered expression of individual liberty in the digital age, of real freedom of writing, freedom of speech, freedom of thought. Their mission is to do precisely what Adams and Jefferson dreamed of. It is ironic that in contributing to the development this technology, I actively hamper the American NSA in its mission statement to "know everything". Truly it is a sad world we live in. But for a liberated people and for a people struggling day by day for liberation, such as the people of Rojava, real freedom is on the table, not as an abstract idea but as a potential reality. We must of course, still be practical. What can the people of Rojava do today in this regard?

I have not yet been able to find a GNU/Linux distribution that supports Kurmanci (the main language used in Rojava) natively. The I2P project also lacks sufficient translation to Kurmanci, as does the Tor Project from what I can tell. For the people of Rojava, protecting the existence of individual liberty is paramount, and having access to the tools that do just that, in their own language, is paramount. I would highly recommend the people of Rojava use Linux as opposed to Windows or MacOS in their daily computing. For this to become practical, someone fluent in the language needs to help translate! Debian I think would be the best Linux distribution to translate since many other Linux distributions are based on it, and its generally a good distribution that uses all free software by default. You can find out how to translate for the Debian project here. Furthermore I would highly recommend the people of Rojava become adept in using Tor to protect their privacy online, for this to be practical, translators are needed yet again. I also would recommend those enthusiastic about this kind of thing to look into I2P, translators are needed here too! Unlike Tor, I2P is focused primarily on location hidden services (rather than anonymizing regular internet usage).

I favor I2P over other censorship resistant networks such as Tor, Freenet, and ZeroNet because they have a stronger focus on community, as well as having a better way to implement democratic principles while still respecting individual liberty. As far as "darknets" go, the content found on I2P is generally of a remarkably good nature. I attribute this precisely to the community oriented model embraced by the I2P project. Anyone can do anything they like, but things that reflect badly on the community or on I2P generally are not shown to the user by default, and as a result are of less quantity than other censorship resistant networks. With other censorship resistant networks, bad people see links to bad things almost immediately out of the naivety of the developers in taking the phrase "information is neutral" too seriously , or hear about abuses from the media, and bring more bad people to the network and before you know it the whole thing becomes a swamp. Sadly this is happening to tools like Freenet and ZeroNet, where ethical users must actively avoid key parts of the network, even if Freenet and ZeroNet have mainly legitimate, benevolent uses (Chinese citizens for instance openly talk on ZeroNet about state repression, and make up a substantial part of the network). I2P has thus far been largely immune to these problems, and that is why I am most enthusiastic in my endorsement of this particular piece of software. Here I dream of the practical uses of I2P in a liberated society.

What could the people of Rojava do with I2P? Anything! The people of Rojava could set up their own DNS servers (called addressbook services), that were democratically run by the community itself. Every computer user could set up their own website free of charge and put it onto I2P with the in-built Jetty webserver. If someone set up a website, they could get a domain from the community run addressbook provider, and no one else would know who ran it or where (geographically) it was located. If someone posted something immoral or illegal, the community would have the power to remove the domain name (without actually taking down the server) with the popular consent of the people. Thus if something really bad ever was happening in Rojava in regards to authoritarianism (itself unlikely), or if someone wanted to anonymously post a complaint or report an abuse, the people would have a safe space to freely voice their concerns without fear of retribution. There is hardly any better safeguard against authoritarianism than this, and because freedom is always the freedom of dissent, there is hardly a greater assurance of individual liberty in the digital age. The people of Rojava could also set up their own email servers and configure them to run over I2P, or use I2P-bote (an end-to-end encrypted, decentralized email like platform). The entirety of Rojava could email one another, talk to one another, and share things with one another inside the I2P network where no external power, no matter how strong, could ever spy on the people of Rojava or threaten their individual liberty. Why should one person in Rojava ever email another in Rojava when the email (itself unencrypted by default) was sent far outside of Syria, through the NSA's massive net, and then back into Syria to the intended recipient? Does such a scenario not limit the intellectual pursuits, the freedom of speech and thought of the person writing the email?

Children growing up in such a society would learn the importance of free software. They would learn to code and hack without limits, understanding that innovation is greatest when they share with one another. As the society progressed, they could contribute to these projects, actively securing and safeguarding the freedom of the people. The future generations would learn the values of privacy and the values of a society that did not give up its liberties to state power in the false name of "security", of a society that saw privacy as a fundamental prerequisite to civil liberty in the digital age.

For more general uses of the world wide web (a priceless tool that ought to be safeguarded), it is my view that the public's telecommunication infrastructure should be democratically run by the community itself, by neither state nor corporation. Those who manage it should be democratically elected, at all times instantly re-callable by the community by popular petition. ISP's should not log the activities of the people or store their search histories, perhaps community run VPN services would help to obfuscate internet traffic as an extra safeguard. In America, our congress made it legal in 2017 for ISP's to sell the American people's internet history to the highest bidder. Your ISP's should be nothing more than dumb pipes, infrastructure that gets messages from point A to point B without violating the rights of the people by spying on them or collecting their personal information. In that regard, you can progress far beyond the United States or any nation state in regards to individual liberty. There are other technologies too, that may be of interest to a liberated people, I would recommend fostering the use of PGP encryption for all email communications, using apps like Signal instead of texting, and the widespread use of privacy respecting services such as those found at PrivacyTools.io as a social norm (a translation of PrivacyTools here is also needed). Once mastered, two parties can communicate with one another safely without the prying eyes of any third party. I would recommend hackers look into projects such as Hyperboria that seek to create community run meshnets, that in theory would replace the centralized power of an ISP with 100% community infrastructure run by the people themselves. In spite of my numerous criticisms of the market and the existence of money as a currency of exchange, certain cryptocurrencies such as Monero (XMR) have the key benefit over the use of credit cards of being as or even more anonymous than cash. Tools such as Matrix can be used as a replacement for phone calls and texting. I would recommend the people of Rojava to look into these technologies.

As Glenn Greenwald said, "We all need places where we can go to explore without the judgmental eyes of other people being cast upon us, only in a realm where we're not being watched can we really test the limits of who we want to be. It's really in the private realm where dissent, creativity and personal exploration lie." Perhaps there is no better place in the world to put this into practice than Rojava. In conclusion, I think the people of Rojava could benefit greatly from the free software, Linux, and hacker community, and from projects such as I2P and Tor.

It is my highest hope that Rojava may continue to become a bastion of liberation, that it might climb to new frontiers in regards to digital resistance too, frontiers not dreamed of within the confines the nation state! Long live liberty! Long live the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria! Long live Rojava! May it last a thousand years!

Thoughts On “The Media” and “Fake News”

At the dawn of 2019, what can we really say about “the media”? It is a thing that, like “the people”, often embodies a meaningless abstraction to be used or abused as the powers that be see fit. But “the media” is a real, tangible, complicated thing just as “the people” consists of countless individuals each with their own biases, opinions, and backgrounds. One side in half-truth and often hypocrisy, proclaims the evils of the “mainstream media” and “fake news”. The other side also sometimes uses the term “fake news” in relation to foreign powers, but moreover goes on to uncritically defend the “integrity” of the billionaire owned and run corporate media. In that light, I thought it would be acceptable, since this is my blog, to voice my own views on the matter.

The media in all its varying forms, no longer required to attempt to present both sides of an issue objectively, has been turned into an outlet of specific political propaganda. Under capitalism one can expect that the media, no matter how “objective” it tries to be, will always come to the defense of capitalist society directly or indirectly; ideology permeates especially through so-called “apolitical” journalism just as it permeates through “liberal” and “conservative” journalism. Today however, the fragmentation of even the believable illusion of objectivity within the nomenclature of formal declarations, has led to a rampant increase in political tribalism. The media seeks not to inform, leaving the individual to come to their own conclusions having been informed to the best of their ability, of both sides within the limitations imposed by the ideology of bourgeois society– but rather, it seeks to indoctrinate the viewer into a political tribe which, while fervently opposed to the “other side”, in actuality has far more in common with the “other side” when compared to the objective diversity of global politics. That which is agreed upon by both positions, both parties, is never debated or discussed except by “radicals” who are occasionally given 3 minutes of air time without enough time to really prove or adequately defend their “impossible” positions. Those agreements matter, and often are just as if not more important than the immediate issues at hand.

Those who cry “fake news” are often those most susceptible to it. Everything they do not agree with (i.e. the “liberal media”) is “fake news”, while their preferred conservative media outlet, usually the billionaire owned Fox News, which plays 24/7 on the television of almost everyone over 60, is somehow “real news”. Right-wing conspiracy theorists such as those found on InfoWars are the “real news” while CNN, in spite of its obvious liberal biases, is “fake news”. In fact, the conservatives do not lie when they call CNN “fake news”, they merely do not go far enough. Fox News, one of the biggest mainstream media sources in existence, likes to pretend it is special when it speaks of “the media”, “the mainstream media”, etc. Any billionaire owned television station will be slanted towards the views and attitudes of the prevailing society, and moreover towards the views of the ruling class of that society.

If objectivity is the goal, legislation ensuring fair and unbiased journalism (to the best of the ability of the journalist) is necessary. Furthermore, what is needed is radical decentralization and democratization of the media itself. The corporate media of course, will proclaim a violation of its “right to a free press”, even if such action is actually necessary for the freedom of the press to survive. The primary purpose of the media is to hold power accountable. In actuality we find that one side is hypocritical in its criticism for 4 years, and uncritical in its praise for the other 4. People like to listen to what affirms their own biases, and avoid what contradicts them. Ignoring the issues of the relative subjectivity of attempted objectivity, and the seriously overlooked issues of agreement between “both sides”, it is highly unusual for someone to watch Fox News under Obama, and then to switch to MSNBC under Trump. Because of this, truly adversarial journalism ought to be encouraged embodying “the ruthless criticism of all that exists: ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.”

Both sides have of course, been more and more radicalized since the early 2000’s. Not only in the sense that the left is moving further to the left, the right is moving further to the right (in comparison with the American norm), but rather both sides are increasing in their authoritarianism. More and more we find that one side would have it that the other is silenced, and vice versa. Often we find that the media today is less “journalism” than stations of indoctrination. Anyone who cannot see this today is blind to what is happening. As long as serious, though often petty differences between both sides are fervently debated, the similarities between them embodying the gross injustices found within very base of society itself will be ignored and overlooked. There is no simple solution to this problem, but support for ceaselessly adversarial and principled journalism, legislation requiring both sides to be fairly reported, and the broad decentralization and democratization of the media are a good start as we try to look for both short and long-term solutions to this issue. In a world of ever increasing authoritarianism and mass surveillance, we should also look to support censorship resistant and privacy respecting platforms of communication that journalists may need to rely on in the future. In short, these are my views on the matter.

Don’t Let Rojava Become Another Yemen! Contact Your Representatives To Defend Our Kurdish Allies!

December 24, 2018

Trump’s announcement of his plan to withdraw US troops from Syria has struck terror into the hearts of the Kurdish people of Northern Syria. It is genocide they fear– not from ISIS but from Turkey. The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (Rojava) is a staple of democracy in the Middle East. It is however to Turkey, as America was to Great Britain in 1774. Moreover, the people of Rojava were our allies in the fight against ISIS, and it is our moral responsibility to help protect them now. True, the relationship between the Kurdish independence movement and the United States is a complicated one, but the Syrian Civil War has de facto and resolutely proclaimed that the people of Rojava are in fact our allies.

I personally am not shy on this issue, I fully support the Kurdish people’s struggle for independence, their aspirations of a real and working stateless democracy of the common people in the Middle East, and their commitment to ecology, social justice, feminism, and libertarian socialism. As a socialist and a supporter of the ideas of Murray Bookchin, this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Every honest socialist ought to support Rojava, but in my opinion it is not only the leftists that should support Rojava, but everyone.

Anyone who cares at all about democracy, human freedom, and the future of human civilization ought to support Rojava. It is my firm belief that the Greek democracies of antiquity are to our modern civilization, as Rojava is to the world of tomorrow. It is not only leftists but liberals and conservatives, and even right-wing libertarians who ought to support Rojava. Yes Rojava is a left wing, democratic confederalist experiment, but even centrist news outlets admit that it’s the only real hope for democracy in the Middle East. In the midst of a bloody civil war it has emerged in impossible conditions as bastion of democracy, freedom and equality surrounded by unfreedom and despotism. The heroism and selflessness of the YPG and YPJ in their fight against ISIS is known throughout the world, and the last thing the United States, a nation that sees itself as a “defender of democracy”, a nation that invades sovereign nations on the basis of “defending democracy”, ought to do is leave democracy for the slaughter.

Trump has decided, seemingly on a whim, to withdraw all US forces from Syria. Under normal circumstances I would applaud this act, and before pondering the implications for Rojava, I initially did– bringing US troops home from the Middle East is long overdue– but these are not ordinary circumstances. Conservative TV pundits seem to be more concerned with exposing the hypocrisy of once “anti-war” liberals in their “horror” over Trump’s decision of withdraw from Syria than with the actual potential consequences of these events. Liberal TV pundits seem more concerned with Russia and the imperial interests of the United States than with the actual consequences of these events. The Kurdish people are friends of the people of the United States. The US government and the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria have until now been on mostly good terms and proven allies in the fight against ISIS. Moreover, the United States has a responsibility to protect and defend it’s allies, the Kurdish people and the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, who valiantly fought on the ground against ISIS. There can be no excuse for the moral cowardice involved if the United States refuses to come to the aid of its Kurdish allies.

No people, no matter how well natured, could ever forgive the United States, if after using the Kurdish people for its own ends as cannon fodder, left them to die in the wake of an aggressive Turkish invasion that recent history tells us would amount to genocide. Is that what the Kurdish people are to the United States? Cannon fodder? Or are they allies and heroes in the fight against ISIS? The actions of the United States in the next few weeks will tell us one way or another. To the American people they are heroes and allies, will the government act in accordance with the will of the people who are informed on these events? Will it stand idly by amid genocidal Turkish aggression against an innocent people who demand nothing than their rights? Against a people who demanded no more than what George Washington demanded from Great Britain at the dawn of this nation?

In closing I will leave the reader with a Press Release titled “Urgent Statement From The Emergency Committee For Rojava” titled “Don’t Let Rojava Become Another Yemen”, and I plea as they do, that every US citizen contact their local representative on this issue, and furthermore I ask that you be prepared to protest if urgent action is not taken:

With reports of the Trump administration planning to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, along with disturbing new documentation released today about Turkey’s war crimes in Afrin, we are writing to alert our elected representatives and the public to the dire consequences should Turkey attack Rojava (the Kurdish majority region in northeastern Syria) east of the Euphrates, as it has promised. Turkey appears poised to attack whether or not American troops are stationed there. On Dec. 12, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a speech saying a Turkish offensive is imminent. The Pentagon command responded that such a “unilateral action” would be “unacceptable,” but the US has warned Turkey similarly in the past with no real consequences. Turkey has already been signaling its intentions by sniping at civilians across the border and bombing Kurdish areas in Iraq including the Makhmour refugee camp and Mount Shingal, home to the Yazidis.

A year ago, without any provocation, Turkey crossed the border into Syria to invade and occupy Afrin, driving out its Kurdish citizens, looting and confiscating their property, taking hostages, and repopulating the area with jihadis and Arabs from other parts of Syria in a demographic change that amounts to ethnic cleansing. The U.S. ignored Kurdish appeals for help despite the coalition’s reliance on Rojava and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to defeat ISIS. Now the Trump Administration says it will withdraw troops from Syria.

We call on Congress and the American people to make sure this betrayal is not repeated and that Rojava’s extraordinary but fragile democracy is not endangered. It is critical that the U.S. take this stand because:

Rojava is the only democratically-run part of Syria based on secular, feminist, and ecological principles.

Its values oppose both fundamentalism and dictatorship.

Its pluralism and federalist vision of the future of Syria are a model for the entire region, as is the Kurds’ integration of other ethnicities and women into positions of power throughout society.

The SDF have consistently proven to be the only reliable US ally in the war against ISIS. Now that they have almost finished the job, and taken immense losses, it is essential that we honor our moral obligation to the people who fought ISIS by helping them realize a peaceful co-existence with all regional powers.

Rather than deserting Rojava, the U.S. must commit to giving the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (the official name of Rojava), economic and political as well as military assistance, and should put all possible pressure on Turkey to reopen peace negotiations with its own Kurds. As Aliza Marcus said recently in the New York Times, “The only way to build an alternative to the chaos and repressive dictatorship in the rest of Syria is through recognition of the Kurdish-led administration and active political engagement.”

The U.S. has faltered in Syria too many times in the past. It can prevent a bloodbath and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, if it demands Erdogan stand down. It can press Turkey to reopen peace negotiations with its own Kurdish population, stopping the endless cycle of violence. We urge the Trump Administration and Congress to act to defend Rojava before it is too late.

In Defense of Positive Liberty

November 11, 2018

Every so-called right today was once in olden times, or perhaps in times not so long ago, nothing more than a privilege for the few, a dream for the many. To say on the one hand “freedom is not free” and to ask on the other hand “who will pay for it?” is an irreconcilable contradiction. History teaches us that rights are not given, they are taken. Freedom is never free. Here the words of Proudhon ring ever true today, “We are convinced that freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice; socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality”. Liberty and equality do not contradict one another but on the contrary, they complement one another. The contradiction between liberty and equality that has allegedly plagued human society since 1789 is only a contradiction in capitalist society. Rights are not absolute and eternal even if society ought to recognize rights already won as such. Liberty is a dialectical process of constant expansion throughout human history. The privileges, even dreams of today become the rights of tomorrow. No one now has any right to deny this.

Even the American Founding Fathers understood that centralized private property was incompatible with their “vision” of bourgeois democracy. One can of course dream of going back to an “uncorrupted” American democracy rooted in decentralized ownership of private property if one can ignore the slavery, sexism, open racism, and genocide. Or one can naively believe in bourgeois democracy and the “willingness” of the ruling class to work together in the name of class harmony and utilitarianism for the common good. The assuredly revolutionary implications of the only other option available are too dangerous to even contemplate in mainstream politics. In the world where everything is possible; positive liberty, social democracy (in the classical sense of the word), and a fundamental social change that according to most climatologists deem necessary for humanity’s long term survival, is by some alchemy “impossible”.

I have provided a brief explanation of Positive Liberty by the encyclopedia at Marxists.org for those unfamiliar with the term:

“Negative freedom means the lack of forces which prevent an individual from doing whatever they want; Positive freedom is the capacity of a person to determine the best course of action and the existence of opportunities for them to realise their full potential.

The overwhelmingly dominant tendency in the history of bourgeois society has been to open up negative freedom, by removing feudal and other reactionary constraints on freedom of action. Free trade and wage-labour are the most characteristic bourgeois freedoms which have resulted from this history: free trade being the freedom of a capitalist to make a profit without restriction, and wage-labour being the freedom of a worker from any means of livelihood other than being able to sell their labour power to the highest bidder. Thus this negative bourgeois freedom is a kind of freedom which is real only for those who own the means of production.

Positive freedom has been built up almost exclusively as a result of the struggle of the working class: initially the legislation limiting hours of work, child labour and so on, later the creation of free compulsory education, public health systems, right to form trade unions, and so forth, freedoms which explicitly limit the freedom of the capitalists to exploit workers, but give worker the opportunity to develop as human beings.

The freedom people have is determined by the ethical system of the society they are born into, which is fundamentally based on the economic relations that society is based on: for example in capitalistic society a person is free to exploit wage, but labourers are not free to receive things like an education and health care in accordance to what they need; only in accordance to what they have to pay. In socialist society, a person is not free to exploit labourers (i.e. restrict the freedoms of labourers), but are free to own a more or less equal portion of the means of production in accordance to their own need and ability.

In hitherto existing Socialist states, like the Soviet Union and China, “negative freedoms” were severely restricted, while “positive freedoms” were advanced. All people had universal access to health care, full university education, etc, but people could only use those things they had in a particular way – in support of the government. In the most advanced capitalist governments, this relationship is the other way around: “positive freedoms” are restricted or do not exist all together, while “negative freedoms” are more advanced than ever before. A worker in capitalist society has the freedom to say whatever she believes, but she does not have the freedom to live if crippled by a disease regardless of how much money she has. A socialist society that has been established from a capitalist society will strengthen “negative freedoms”, while ushering in real “positive freedoms” across the board, ensuring equal and free access to social services by all.

The fullest development of positive freedom is impossible however without a further development of negative freedom – people cannot be forced to be free”

Entitlement and The myth of the “Self-Made Man”.

One of the staunchest criticisms of positive liberty is that its emergence is but another symptom of a deeply rooted affliction affecting America’s youth: entitlement. Traditional capitalist ethics are of course deeply rooted in the foundational documents and principles of the bourgeois-democratic republic itself. The Constitution with its Bill of Rights, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, and so forth are hailed as the highest of ideals. The very notion that we can transcend even them is to many conservatives, offensive, even if they’ll call it by any other name. Historical attempts rooted in the very valid criticism of the limitations of capitalism and bourgeois society have, albeit in extremely backward nations, brought forth extreme forms of despotism that no genuine socialist or libertarian ought to idolize. The memory of Stalinism weighs like a nightmare upon all who dream of a better world. But the conditions of today are not remotely similar to the conditions of pre-revolutionary France or colonial America, nor are they for that matter even remotely similar to the conditions of 1917 Russia. They have transcended their earlier forms of barbarism not in spite of the revolutionaries of 1774 and 1789, but because of them. Their ethical, political, social, and economic system is a product of their own time, of an era rooted not in material abundance, but material scarcity. Today for the first time in human history we find ourselves in a society rooted in material abundance. The contradiction between our hitherto existing ethical, social, political, and economic systems rooted in material scarcity and the world we find ourselves in today, will almost certainly lead to the biggest social revolution in all of human history. It is up to us, the people of the world, to determine what our future will look like and by what means it will be brought forth. It is not only logic, but Liberty herself that demands we take from them that which exists that is good and move beyond that which is not. For Liberty today cannot stagnate, she can either expand or die.

It was as absurd to speak of a right to healthcare in 1774 as it was to speak of a right to a free press in pre-agricultural society. That which society does not have the means to provide cannot be guaranteed to all as a right but on paper, and a society that does not take its proclaimed rights seriously often has none (as we see under Stalinism). But when a society is productive enough to provide something deemed a necessary attribute of social existence by most members of society, to all members of society, it is obligated to do so– not as a privilege, but as a right. Once again it must be stressed that freedoms are not given, they are taken.

It is impractical to speak of any real positive liberty under capitalism. Here we must speak in explicitly class terminology. Bourgeois democracy, insofar as it remains bourgeois, by design can and will in every possible instance, ceaselessly attempt to retract those positive liberties won by the common people precisely because the instruments of power are in the hands of the bourgeoisie. In spite of constant pressure from below to keep what concessions are won, the bourgeoisie will always try to restore society to its “rightful” equilibrium– negative liberty without positive liberty. In the United Kingdom, the wealthy proclaim universal healthcare to be a “total failure” while the poor see it as a blessing. The rich man who pays more taxes to society, who can no longer get better treatment because he can pay more, has every reason to complain. But the poor man who under American-style capitalism could barely afford a mere Doctor’s visit, has little fundamental in regards to healthcare to complain about. He or she who declares universal healthcare, or any positive liberty for that matter, to be a “resounding success” or a “total disaster” without taking into account the class implications misses the mark entirely. This is the essence of positive liberty: it already exists as a privilege to the rich in a society productive enough to provide it to all. As such, it ceases to be a privilege but a right. Reaction to such declarations by those in power, and by those indoctrinated into the prevailing ideology of bourgeois society, is inevitable. It is precisely that reaction which this essay seeks to usurp.

Still people go on about positive liberty being nothing more than “entitlements”, “handouts”! What then is considered a handout? Is the entire existing human species not arrogantly “entitled” to the historical and technological progress earned by the blood of countless generations past? Yet we ourselves shed no blood. What right then do we have? Should we not return to caves so we can through blood and sweat “earn” what we currently enjoy without a second thought? Or is it of the same nature the socialists and left libertarians attribute to the concept of positive liberty— a birthright in any society technologically capable of recognizing it as such?

The question here is not at all an innocent one. Violence, like liberty, comes in many different forms. He who murders his neighbor commits an act of violence just as he who refuses to shelter his neighbor who is freezing to death out in the cold with no place to stay. To quote my fried, comrade, and fellow blogger Christian Chiakulas:

“In a world that produces enough food to feed each and every one of us, starvation is violence. In a society where vacant houses outnumber homeless people six to one, homelessness is violence. A country in which health insurance companies rake in billions in profits while leaving nearly thirty million people uninsured and unable to access medical care is a violent society.

This is the everyday violence of capitalism – if it is profitable to let somebody die, or languish in abject poverty, we do so. That is a violent society.”

Sympathy With The Super-Villains

October 19, 2018

In superhero movies, the protagonist often “saves the world”. This rarely of course means saving the structural integrity of the planet we live on, but rather “the world” symbolizes the status quo. The “bad guy” is demonized to the extreme and holds no coherent theoretical or scientific basis for their critique of the status quo, much less a solution. In Blacklist, the anti-capitalist antagonist is “General Ludd” (referring to the luddites of early capitalism who destroyed the means of production in an effort to stifle the industrial revolution, rather than seizing and democratizing the means of production). They are not Marxists with a coherent idea of how capitalism works, they are Luddites. In The Dark Knight Rises, we never see on the ground what “the people” do when given real political power. We see demonizations, but never what actually happens. This I believe is intentional. Black Panther’s Killmonger holds a mostly valid critique of world imperialism and institutional racism, but his solution is the substitution of one form of oppression and exploitation with another, something no real anti-imperialist or historic member of the Black Panther Party would ever advocate. In Mission Impossible the “evil anarchists” also do not hold a remotely sensical world-view. The critique of institutional forms of oppression, exploitation, and domination present in actual, logical anarchist thought is replaced with the slogan, seemingly invented for the film “the greater the suffering, the greater the peace”. This too is intentional.

Bat Man and Iron Man are both billionaires (in fact we find this to be the case in many superhero movies, tv shows, and comics from Blacklist to Archer). If we take off the rosy eyed glasses that portray these superheroes in a purely benevolent light, do we not find that our sympathies lie with the villains who are opposed to the systems that require a “homeless man to be given a nice coat from a kind billionaire” to begin with? Naturally, the super-villains as they are presented to us are hardly admirable. But we should not be so quick to dismiss their aims either. As Trotsky once said, “A slave-owner who through cunning and violence shackles a slave in chains, and a slave who through cunning or violence breaks the chains – let not the contemptible eunuchs tell us that they are equals before a court of morality!”

A Critique of Post-Structuralism’s Rejection of “Grand Narratives” and The Need For A “Post-Post-Structuralism”

September 18, 2018

The rejection of “grand narratives” by post-structuralism is no different from Marx’s conclusion that religion would simply no longer exist in a truly free, or classless society. The post-structuralist critique of ideology, like Marx’s critique of religion, is by and large rooted in social reality. But the post-structuralists fail to understand that rejecting all “grand narratives” manifests itself as the biggest grand narrative of all. In attempting to transcend what their critique of society has found, the post-structuralists embrace it in it’s most toxic form. The rejection of ideology is not at all a negation of ideology but on the contrary, it is one of the most toxic forms of ideology in the present society. Like the Stalinist distortion of Marxism, that which is generally correct and emancipatory has been converted into that which is dogmatic, oppressive, and vile. The statue of dead Lenin under Stalinism beats the oppressed worker with the works of Karl Marx just as the early bourgeois conception of Christ beats the rebellious slave with the crucifix.

The real critique here is merely of the “completeness” or the ideological “full circle” of ideological structures and grand narratives, including the “completeness” in the logic of post-structuralism itself. The post-structuralists are correct in their initial critique of ideology, in the application of structural linguistics to society at large and their skepticism towards the alleged objectivity of phenomenology. But to take it to faithfully to its “logical” conclusion brings with it certain dangers that are present in nearly every “correct” ideological school of thought, dangers the post-structuralists themselves know all too well. This is where all ideological systems have a tendency to go from that which is correct, to that which is wrong or at worse, oppressive. Reason itself is the cantor of the rhythm of any correct ideological school of thought. But the subjectivity of experience itself can cause the cantor to turn into an uncompromising fanatic under the illusion of correctness or objectivity. What is needed therefore, is not an abandonment or a rejection of post-structuralism, but a post-post-structuralism that dialectically transcends the initial application of structural linguistics onto society itself. And I am by no means qualified to carry out such a monumental task in modern philosophy. But I can give some initial impressions as to the attitude of such a philosophical system. The basic idea is that ideological schools can bring a people only halfway, even “revolutionary” philosophical outlooks such as post-structuralism. Real praxis then, starts with ideological critique and ends in action, and “logical conclusions” thus, must be based on actual experience rather than concretely on theoretical leaps of logic. But awareness of the shortcomings of ideology naturally should lead one to not take their ideological beliefs too seriously. They should embrace reason and reject fundamentalism whether religious or political. The awareness of the subjectivity of phenomenology does not itself constitute the rejection of “grand narratives”, but on the contrary, it merely demands humbleness of the followers of this or that world outlook. The rejection of “grand narratives” leads politically to stagnation and conservatism. In our world, nothing is needed more than a “grand narrative”. If humanity stops now, the consequences will be catastrophic. Every follower of this or that belief should be completely willing to abandon their views if they are confronted with evidence that demand such an abandonment. Even if one dedicates their whole life to this or that view, they should happily and enthusiastically celebrate the logical destruction of their world outlook, and be grateful to that which is responsible. Like a scientific theory, one’s view can be based largely on what seems to be objective truth, but like a scientific theory, this or that viewpoint can and should be abandoned when new evidence comes to light that fundamentally challenged said theory.

In a word, what for lack of a better word I call ‘post-post-structuralism’, should demand ideological agnosticism. But what do I mean by this? I do not mean agnosticism in the traditional sense of the word (neutrality). A Christian Agnostic for instance, may believe in the basic tenets of the Christian faith. When he dies he may believe he will go to heaven, but such a person does not purport to know that their religious world out-look is correct. Nothing is more arrogant, when faced with the subjectivity of existence and the limitations of phenomenology, than to purport to know objective truth- even when ones views are based on reason and not faith alone. One should accept that in this or that ideology which is based on reason, but the “complete” circular conclusions derived thereof should be viewed with agnosticism. This does not mean they do not believe in the conclusions their logical, political, or philosophical systems arrive at, but that they are agnostic towards them. Overall, the best judge of the benevolence or malevolence of this or that ideology is the actual effect it has on society. Human rights is an excellent example of this. No one is so stupid to believe in the objective existence of human rights. One can look at positive effect it has on society (yes, we have negative liberty in most of the developed world), and the negative (countless imperialist wars and interventions in the name of human rights under the cloak of benevolence). Monolithic ideological systems present in totalitarian political religions do not merely go full circle, they spiral. But in our present era, nothing is more dangerous or hypocritical than to reject “grand narratives” in the name of “rejecting ideology”.

I have tried to express my criticism here briefly, being only familiar with post-structuralism to a certain degree. I am by no means an expert on the matter and will happily accept criticism from readers.

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE SAY, “REAL SOCIALISM/ COMMUNISM HAS NEVER BEEN TRIED”? AND ARE THEY RIGHT?

September 9, 2018

A common argument made on the left is the allegation that real socialism has never been tried. This has, naturally, caught the attention of many right wing bloggers, memers, and think tanks who make fun of such a notion. But the question itself is a valid one, and one worth exploring by anyone who claims to be intellectually honest.

What even is Socialism? What is Communism?

There are no words more commonly misunderstood today than the words socialism and communism. Socialism is, admittedly, an umbrella term. For instance, Hitler’s use of the term ‘socialism’ is radically different from, say, Lenin’s or Rosa Luxemburg’s use of the term. But when referring to economic systems, such as capitalism, feudalism, or socialism, we are generally referring to the Marxist definition of the term socialism. Of course, there is an extremely common, yet incorrect view that the word socialism means government ownership and control over the economy. But as we shall see, the term socialism in and of itself has nothing to do with the government.

So what is the Marxist or economic definition of socialism? It’s actually quite simple. It means: “an economic system characterized by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production (meaning industry, workplaces, enterprises, factories, etc.)” Here is a list of 9 sources, courtesy of Wikipedia, that validate this definition of the term. Such an economic system means, practically speaking that those who produce the wealth in an enterprise, have democratic control over where that wealth goes. Those who produce the all the wealth in society, own and control where all of that wealth goes and how it is used. There is no problem of “running out of other people’s money” as Margret Thatcher famously said, because socialism means social ownership of the means of producing wealth, the expropriation of the expropriators, not temporarily riding a ‘red wave’ off the hoarded wealth of the few. The popularity of this quote by Thatcher is but a testament to the crisis of ignorance and political illiteracy in our society today. Generally the philosophy of socialism, according to Lenin, is “from each according to their ability, to each according to their work“, meaning that workers are paid in proportion to their work. It is a pure myth that “everyone gets paid the same under socialism”, or even under communism. This can be distinguished from communism, which embodies the philosophy “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs“, and this typically refers to a stateless, classless, moneyless society, which is not the topic of this post. Socialism is the lowest stage of communism, it is the economic system of a society in transition to communism. The economic system itself implies democracy. The political system of socialism also implies democracy, but not in the bourgeois or capitalist sense of the word.

In a socialist society, political power rests in the hands of the workers, the proletariat, or what we would call “the 99%” in modern political discourse. This means political power is not subject almost exclusively to the will of wealthy corporate donors, super PACS, political philanthropists, and corporations- but rather to the free opinions of the people themselves. In essence it means divorcing money from politics entirely. Marx claimed that “the first step in the revolution by the working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle for democracy.” There is no such thing as a true “democracy for all”, for capitalist and worker at the same time. We see that in America this “democracy for all” turns in practice, into a dictatorship of the capitalist class, just as the early democracy of the early Greek Republics was a democracy and a dictatorship of the slave owners at the same time, as only the slave owners had any real power under such a system.

The verdict of history is quite clear- political democracy without industrial democracy amounts to virtual oligarchy in practice. A true “democracy for all” implies equal representation to all members of society without regard to personal wealth, meaning that the working class, the proletariat, or the 99%, would in effect hold all power over the capitalist minority- not through force of arms or political repression, but through the democratic system itself. In this sense, the “dictatorship of the capitalist class” is turned into a “dictatorship of the proletarian class”, just as the dictatorship of the ruling class in feudalism was turned into a dictatorship of the capitalist class in the 18th century, just as the dictatorship of the slave owners was turned into a democracy of the ruling class under feudalism before that. But once the proletariat has power for itself, once it democratizes the economy and society as a whole, class society itself disappears, as no distinction is left between those who own the means of production, and those who toil. This is only possible if the power held by the few is redistributed to the many, if the enterprise itself is democratized. Only in such a society can “we the people” refer to the people as they actually exist and not to meaningless abstractions. The form of democracy here is far more radical in scope than the democracy of our bourgeois society.

Were the USSR, China, North Korea, etc. ‘real socialism’? Were they Communist?

As for communism, no society in the 20th century ever called itself communist. Communism itself implies a stateless, classless, moneyless society- a society without private (not personal) property. The USSR stands for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The USSR called itself socialist, not communist. Communism has existed historically, 9/10 of the existence of the human species was under what Marx called ‘primitive communism’. The communities built by the early Christian Apostles in the first century AD, as recorded in the Book of Acts, were ardently communistic, more so than the USSR or Karl Marx himself. Socialism, however, is a different question.

In the USSR, People’s Republic of China, North Korea, and other “people’s democracies” of the cold war, there can be little doubt that the means of production were socially owned. The form of ownership this took, most often, was in the form of state ownership. There are other forms of social ownership that would qualify for a socialist system including but not limited to employee ownership, cooperative ownership, citizen ownership of equity, common ownership, collective ownership, etc. State ownership can qualify as social ownership, so the “people’s democracies” clearly meet the first standard for what could be called socialist. However, socialism by its very nature implies democracy, democracy that is industrial as well as political, and moreover, democracy can only exist in a society that allows unlimited individual liberty.

As Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg said in 1918,

“…it is a well-known and indisputable fact that without a free and untrammeled press, without the unlimited right of association and assemblage, the rule of the broad masses of the people is entirely unthinkable…

Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when “freedom” becomes a special privilege.

According to Rosa Luxemburg, no society without genuine democracy and unlimited political and personal freedom qualifies as a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, or a socialist society. This is fully in line with the basic principles of Marxism. Luxemburg not only understood this, but also prophetically foreshadowed the Stalinist despotism that would follow in the later 20th century and cold war:

“Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously – at bottom, then, a clique affair – a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins! Yes, we can go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc.”

The principle of democracy is universal to socialism.

“Democracy is the road to socialism.” -Karl Marx

“Socialism needs democracy like the human body needs oxygen.” -Leon Trotsky

“There is no democracy without Socialism and No Socialism without Democracy” -Rosa Luxemburg

So, based on this definition, the question becomes a simple one. Were the “people’s democracies” of the 20th century (such as the USSR, China, North Korea, etc.) genuinely democratic? If you believe the USSR was an example of real socialism in practice, this implies, naturally, that you believe the USSR was a genuinely democratic economic and political system, as it claimed to be. If you say, “No, the USSR was a totalitarian dictatorship, not a genuine democracy”, then you are basically saying “the USSR wasn’t actually a socialist society”. Stalinism tries to justify itself ideologically by cherry picking from the ideas of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Even with this cherry picking, Stalinist society still calls itself a “free and democratic” society. If a Stalinist society openly admitted it was not democratic, it would not be able to call itself socialist. If a Stalinist society openly admitted it was not a free society, it would not be able to call itself socialist. Here we find one of the most sinister attributes of Stalinism. In 1989 one of the most common rallying cries of the German workers was “Freedom of the press!” This was a danger to the regime not because it was in principle opposed to a free press, but on the contrary, because “officially”, freedom of the press already existed. “Officially”, there was no press censorship at all. Article 9 of the constitution of the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR, or East Germany) blatantly stipulates, “There is no press censorship.” Needless to say, Rosa Luxemburg’s writings were censored in the GDR, in spite of Rosa’s face appearing on GDR currency, and in spite of GDR soldiers being sent to guard statues made to her by the GDR state.

This Stalinist formalism is the same defense North Korea uses to dodge criticism of its human rights abuses. A UN representative of the North Korean regime asked the United Nations “Have you read our constitution?” as a response to criticisms of its well-documented religious persecution. Of course, the North Korean constitution “officially” guarantees freedom of religion. It even goes further than this:

Article 66.

All citizens who have reached the age of 17 have the right to elect and to be elected, irrespective of sex, race, occupation, length of residence, property status, education, party affiliation, political views or religious belief. Citizens serving in the armed forces also have the right to elect and to be elected. A person who has been disenfranchised by a Court decision and a person legally certified insane do not have the right to elect or to be elected.

Article 67.

Citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech, the press, assembly, demonstration and association. The State shall guarantee the conditions for the free activities of democratic political parties and social organizations.

Article 68.

Citizens have freedom of religious belief. This right is granted through the approval of the construction of religious buildings and the holding of religious ceremonies. Religion must not be used as a pretext for drawing in foreign forces or for harming the State or social order.

Article 69.

Citizens are entitled to submit complaints and petitions. The State shall investigate and deal with complaints and petitions impartially as stipulated by law.

Of course, anyone who used to live in North Korea will tell you these rights are not actually realized in any way whatsoever, because as Rosa Luxemburg correctly said, “freedom is always the freedom of the dissenters”. The same was no doubt the case in every other “socialist” country in the 20th century. If I was a citizen of North Korea who happened to be an anarchist running on a platform opposed to Kim Jong Un and the Workers Party of Korea in an election, I would no doubt be arrested, forcibly ‘reeducated’, or worse. Could I start a newspaper critical of the regime, calling for North Korea to open itself up to the world? Could I call for freedom of information and the introduction of the world wide web into North Korean society? As a free North Korean citizen, I’d imagine I’d have a lot to complain about, and the state has to, according to the constitution, give me not only the right to complain, but also the ability to create an organization of agitation, and the conditions for the free activities of my democratic political party or organization (i.e. the tools to print my newspaper and the ability to distribute it to the masses). Because if I don’t have that freedom, I certainly do not live in a genuinely democratic society, and I most certainly do not live in a socialist society. Not according to some abstract thinker or modern political hack, but according to the founding mothers and fathers of scientific socialism itself. This is why so many socialists today agitate saying these countries are not genuine expressions of socialism, because they are not genuinely free or democratic, even by bourgeois standards. This is why they call for socialism, this is why they condemn Stalinism and capitalism at the same time.

Rethinking Marxism In The 21st Century: Turning Marxism Back On It’s Head

August 22, 2018

In what way do I make the claim of “Rethinking Marxism”? I make the claim only in regards to trends within the socialist movement that have converted Marxism into a political religion. This conversion of Marxism into a political religion is artificial, itself a deviation from Marxist theory that paves the way forward for totalitarianism. My goal is to demonstrate exactly how such a conversion took place, and why it is contrary to Marxist principles and Marxist theory. In “Turning Marxism Back On It’s Head”, we mean to say that at a certain point on the mainstream of the radical left, Marxism was turned onto it’s head, marking it’s conversion into a political religion. Our goal is to reverse this, to turn it upside-down again in order to pave the way for genuine socialist democracy and the global emancipation of labor.

Marxism is Generally Correct

The Marxist analysis of the existing political, economic, and social order both now and historically, is generally correct. The problems historic Marxist movements have faced stem not only from the economic, political, and cultural backwardness and isolation of the nations in question, but from the abstracted nature of Marxism being taken too literally, too seriously, resulting in its conversion into a political religion. There is a great danger that comes with having so correct a world outlook, as certain “idealist” social myths are necessary for society to function. Moreover, the traditional application of Marxist theory onto a society is artificial, (i.e. not genuinely Marxist in application, but idealist in the worst sense of the word) and has thus often caused great social harm historically, even if these harms spring mainly from a totalitarian distortion of Marxist theory.

Is Marxism a Science? Is Communism a Historical Inevitability?

I look at Marxism like psychology. Is psychology a science? Yes. But it’s a science dealing with abstract analyses of concrete phenomena, it is not infallible, it should not be seen as a dogma or some political religion. Is there such thing as historical inevitability? To answer that you have to know whether or not free will exists and to what degree it expresses independence over concrete material conditions. I think to a certain extent there is historical inevitability, but I think at best we can say “this is likely where we are headed”. If true historical inevitability exists, not even dialectical materialism gives man the ability to truly understand what that inevitably actually is, at best we have hints or likely possibilities. To know true historical inevitability one must know all things. Is communism inevitable? No. But it is the likely outcome, in the long term, of a truly free and democratic society in the hands of the working class or majority- and it is something that should be fought for.

The Abstract Nature of the Marxist Method of Analysis

Marxism analyzes society, itself an abstraction (i.e. the sum of all hitherto existing interrelations between all individuals at large or by some category of differentiation). Its method of analysis is dialectical materialism. The conclusions it arrives at when capitalism is put under the microscope, show the likely historical necessity or “inevitability” of socialist revolution and the emancipation of labor. It’s method is scientific, but it is a scientific form of analysis in the sense that psychology is a science. Like psychology, it’s conclusions and formulas exist as an abstraction of that which is unabstracted, or real to the lives of working people. But its conclusions are very clear. What it advocates is democracy, there is no other way. At no point does Marxism advocate the pure application of some abstract theory (yes even that of Marxism itself) onto society. It sees the spontaneous action of the working class as something infinitely more valuable to the socialist movement than action based merely on some preconceived theory. Marxism demands that it’s own abstract analyses be unabstracted through the negative, spontaneous, direct, and democratic movement of the working class in it’s struggle for political power, and through that action alone, does it transform society. Not from the abstract to the concrete, but from the concrete to the abstract. Marxism is but a guide for the workers movement, it is not the engine of the workers movement itself.

Turning Marxism Back on Its Head; The Bolsheviks and The Paris Commune

As aforementioned, genuine socialist action tends to go not from abstract theory into concrete action, but from direct action into abstract theory. Not from the abstract to the concrete, but from the concrete to the abstract. In this we find true Praxis. “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory”, said Engels in this spirit. We shall go on further explaining this position. Rosa Luxemburg in her 1918 pamphlet ‘The Russian Revolution’, affirms this view:

“The tacit assumption underlying the Lenin-Trotsky theory of dictatorship is this: that the socialist transformation is something for which a ready-made formula lies completed in the pocket of the revolutionary party, which needs only to be carried out energetically in practice. This is, unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – not the case. Far from being a sum of ready-made prescriptions which have only to be applied, the practical realization of socialism as an economic, social and juridical system is something which lies completely hidden in the mists of the future. What we possess in our program is nothing but a few main signposts which indicate the general direction in which to look for the necessary measures, and the indications are mainly negative in character at that. Thus we know more or less what we must eliminate at the outset in order to free the road for a socialist economy. But when it comes to the nature of the thousand concrete, practical measures, large and small, necessary to introduce socialist principles into economy, law and all social relationships, there is no key in any socialist party program or textbook. That is not a shortcoming but rather the very thing that makes scientific socialism superior to the utopian varieties.

The socialist system of society should only be, and can only be, an historical product, born out of the school of its own experiences, born in the course of its realization, as a result of the developments of living history, which – just like organic nature of which, in the last analysis, it forms a part – has the fine habit of always producing along with any real social need the means to its satisfaction, along with the task simultaneously the solution. However, if such is the case, then it is clear that socialism by its very nature cannot be decreed or introduced by ukase. It has as its prerequisite a number of measures of force – against property, etc. The negative, the tearing down, can be decreed; the building up, the positive, cannot. New Territory. A thousand problems. Only experience is capable of correcting and opening new ways. Only unobstructed, effervescing life falls into a thousand new forms and improvisations, brings to light creative new force, itself corrects all mistaken attempts. The public life of countries with limited freedom is so poverty-stricken, so miserable, so rigid, so unfruitful, precisely because, through the exclusion of democracy, it cuts off the living sources of all spiritual riches and progress. (Proof: the year 1905 and the months from February to October 1917.) There it was political in character; the same thing applies to economic and social life also. The whole mass of the people must take part in it. Otherwise, socialism will be decreed from behind a few official desks by a dozen intellectuals.”

(The Russian Revolution, Rosa Luxemburg).

The “ready-made formula lies completed in the pocket of the revolutionary party, which needs only to be carried out energetically in practice” here, refers to a political force which applies Marxist ideas in an abstracted form, onto a society, rather than a working class movement transforming society in a way that, once analyzed through Marxist methods, seems to conform with the generally predicted “historical inevitability” of the capitalist system. Was it (October) still “real” in spite of its abstracted form? Certainly, it had yet to degenerate into Stalinism and it was based to a large extent, on mass movements and genuine struggle. But it was not purely the result of a working class movement aspiring towards the domination of its class either. These peculiar conditions arise undoubtedly from Russia’s backwardness, and the immaturity of Russia’s working class’s class consciousness and the immaturity of the socialist movement itself (the necessity of a vanguard party, etc.) And for this, no one is to blame.

To better understand my point, it helps to look towards the Paris Commune, a movement that affirmed the revolutionary spontaneity of the masses. Here there was a working class movement, a democracy, that was “Marxist” through and through. Even Marx himself called the commune a dictatorship of the proletariat, and for this he was not wrong. Marx’s criticisms would have been priceless to the commune. Here, Marxist politics best find their expression; as the revolutionary vanguard and critical appraiser of the movement for the emancipation of labor, not as its artificial engine. Marxist politics here, are not forced onto the will of the people. They are accepted or rejected at the people’s will, on primarily an individual and not institutional basis. They exist not as a political dogma or a political religion, but as a guide for labor’s emancipation in the historical and democratic process itself. Hence, “What we possess in our program is nothing but a few main signposts which indicate the general direction in which to look for the necessary measures, and the indications are mainly negative in character at that. Thus we know more or less what we must eliminate at the outset in order to free the road for a socialist economy. But when it comes to the nature of the thousand concrete, practical measures, large and small, necessary to introduce socialist principles into economy, law and all social relationships, there is no key in any socialist party program or textbook. That is not a shortcoming but rather the very thing that makes scientific socialism superior to the utopian varieties.”

Stalinism as a Distortion of Marxist Theory, An Expression of “Upside-Down” Marxism

Historically “Marxism-Leninism”, or Stalinism, embodies a paradoxical analysis of Marxist theory. Upon closer examination, Stalinism is wrought with irreconcilable contradictions, contradictions that show Stalinism to be disingenuous, a system that betrays its own premises. The working class itself, when unabstracted from abstract political theory, consists of countless individuals. Under Stalinism, this class of individuals is said to hold and democratically control all state power. Yet at the same time, and in actuality, the individual is crushed under the despotism of the bureaucratic state, and is not actually free to voice their own opinions, political or otherwise, even by bourgeois standards. What we are referring to here is not a “dictatorship of the proletariat” at all, contrary to both the bourgeois and Stalinist assertions.

Stalinism has its origins in the difficult conditions of revolutionary Russia. For these conditions and the inevitable response derived thereof, no blame really lies on the shoulders of Lenin and Trotsky. To them, the emergency measures taken during the Civil War period were just that, emergency measures. In essence, they understood that their war-time actions were opposed to the principles of Bolshevism. Their continuation into the post-civil war period represents, therefore, a deviation from Bolshevism. The elimination of the original heads of all the communist parties of the world and the heads of their representatives in the Comintern by Stalin, and the execution and persecution of most of the original Bolshevik revolutionaries that fought by Lenin’s side in 1917, are but a testament to this fact.

Let us look again at ‘The Russian Revolution’. In it she writes, or perhaps prophesies is a better word, the following:

“When all this is eliminated, what really remains? In place of the representative bodies created by general, popular elections, Lenin and Trotsky have laid down the soviets as the only true representation of political life in the land as a whole, life in the soviets must also become more and more crippled. Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously – at bottom, then, a clique affair – a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins (the postponement of the Soviet Congress from three-month periods to six-month periods!) Yes, we can go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc. (Lenin’s speech on discipline and corruption.)”

(Ibid.)

In a Stalinist society you have blatant and brutal press censorship, and a constitution that at the same time stipulates “There is no press censorship” (Article 9, Section 2 of the 1949 G.D.R. constitution) A Stalinist society exists as nothing more than a brutal caricature of a socialist society. It uses Marxist methods in a purely abstracted form, and justifies its abuses purely based on these abstractions. Pointing out the absence of human rights in a Stalinist nation would be responded to by a Stalinist with, “Be materialist”, implying the intrinsic non-existence of human rights. But not even the most liberal human rights activist believes human rights actually exist. It is hard to believe anyone is so stupid. Within the abstraction itself, the Stalinist society finds for itself perfection. Officially, the whole of society is turned into a “paradise on earth” even though in actuality, nothing could be further from the truth.

In a genuine dictatorship of the proletariat such as the Paris Commune, public discourse and democracy are the mainspring of civilization. In a Stalinist society, only the leader and the central committee have any real right to speak, and the bureaucracy ensures that dangerous leaders are removed from power when they get too carried away. Without agitation and freedom of dissent, the working class and popular masses within a society, even a so-called socialist one, can only find stagnation- the opposite of progress. The social conservatism of traditionally Stalinist states in comparison with the increasingly “liberalizing” west is evidence of this fact. The inevitable result, is that the society itself acts as a pressure cooker. It builds up enough steam until it explodes. The social contradictions and antagonisms brought about by this inherently “unfree” society, even by bourgeois standards, essentially means that Stalinism, like capitalism, produces it’s own gravediggers.

As Eugene V. Debs said,

“If it had not been for the discontent of a few fellows who had not been satisfied with their conditions, you would still be living in caves. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation.”

Stalinism is to Marxism as Bonepartism is to Jacobinism- even if Marxism is light years superior, both ethically and politically, to Jacobinism.

Comparing The Experiences of The Commune, The Bolsheviks, and Stalinism; Where on Such a Spectrum Should 21st Century Socialism Lie?

The relationship between theory and action with workers states and self-proclainmed socialist movements can be placed onto a new kind of political spectrum if one so wishes. Stalinism exists on the opposite side of the spectrum to the Commune, for its actual historical expression was itself intrinsically opposed to the experience of the Commune.

If the Paris Commune is on the left (mainly action and genuine democracy), the Bolsheviks in the center (action based mainly on theory), and the Stalinists on the right (nearly all action based on theory to a paradoxical, hypocritical extent), 21th century socialism should aim for a position on this aforementioned spectrum of workers power, farther to the left than even the Paris Commune. In what way could it be further to the left? We shall demonstrate how in a moment.

Freedom, Democracy, Socialism

The Paris Commune had to utilize terror against the overthrown ruling class to secure its position. A modern socialist revolution in an advanced capitalist country today would not need to resort to such measures. It would have no use for them.

“During the bourgeois revolutions, bloodshed, terror, and political murder were an indispensable weapon in the hand of the rising classes.

The proletarian revolution requires no terror for its aims; it hates and despises killing. It does not need these weapons because it does not combat individuals but institutions, because it does not enter the arena with naïve illusions whose disappointment it would seek to revenge. It is not the desperate attempt of a minority to mold the world forcibly according to its ideal, but the action of the great massive millions of the people, destined to fulfill a historic mission and to transform historical necessity into reality.”

(What Does the Spartacus League Want?, Rosa Luxemburg.)

If democracy is the method by which the working class controls society, and the majority truly holds all political power in a state of unlimited political freedom, then social and political life of such a society would be light years ahead of our modern bourgeois society in the age of Trumpism. It would be a democracy more broad and “open” than the Paris Commune or the most democratic of existing republics. It would be so free in essence, to the individual, that our modern capitalist society would appear to be fascistic in nature by comparison. In such a society, the Marxists would likely be elected to hold public office, would lead the revolution’s spirit and inflame the minds of the masses. But Marxism would not be decreed. This society would not aspire to embody “Marxism” or some preconceived notion as to what some thinkers in the 19th and 20th centuries would have approved of. It would not implant a monolithic ideological worldview on the masses, it would not aspire to the “official” crystallized perfection of Stalinism. No, it would be considered “Marxist” or “socialist” through the spontaneous organization and democratic conquest of power by the working class, only after would they say “this is a Marxist society”. It would be Marxist once the concrete was abstracted, it would not be “Marxist” by the artificial application of abstract theory onto a society by means of terror, as was the case under Stalinism.

In it’s many errors, debates, and the general messiness of democracy, it would become a true dictatorship of the proletariat.

“Let us speak plainly. Historically, the errors committed by a truly revolutionary movement are infinitely more fruitful than the infallibility of the cleverest Central Committee.”

(Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy, Rosa Luxemburg).

A small revolutionary party would not seize power and decree “Marxism”, getting the masses to unanimously applaud the resolutions of a leader by- unofficially- rule of terror. It would not be so utopian, no, it would be messy. A new event, a thousand new problems, a thousand wild debates. We firmly believe it is only in the mainsprings of unlimited political freedom and unfettered democracy that socialism truly exist. Let the philistines of conservatism who equate us with the Stalinist totalitarian chiefs of the 20th century, search for an audience in their own light. The current of historical progress will sweep away such views and illogical notions by weight of its own evidence, with neither censorship, terror, nor repression at its side.

Why The Left Should Stand Against The Corporate Censorship of Alex Jones

August 18, 2018

Some people, who I would consider “politically suicidal” leftists, recently celebrated the corporate censorship of Alex Jones and InfoWars by Facebook, Youtube, and Apple. I began writing a draft explaining how dangerous this was shortly after this happened, and just after I wrote this draft, Facebook arbitrarily “unpublished” the Facebook page belonging to Venezuelanalysis, a left-wing, grassroots funded, pro-Bolivarian news website similar in content to TeleSur. (Edit: Facebook also just “unpublished” the TeleSur English page as well). Included below is the polished draft I originally intended to publish, with an analysis at the end by a Trotskyist friend and comrade of mine who is also, like myself, a member of Socialist Alternative (US/CWI):

Wikipedia does a nice job explaining what has recently happened to the far-right conspiracy-theory “news” organization InfoWars:

“On August 6, 2018, YouTube, Facebook and Apple all removed content by Alex Jones and Infowars from their platforms, as it had violated their policies. YouTube removed various channels associated with Infowars, including The Alex Jones Channel, which had amassed 2.4 million subscriptions prior to its removal. On Facebook, four pages that were associated with InfoWars and Alex Jones were removed due to repeated violations of the website’s policies. Apple had removed five podcasts associated with Jones from its iTunes platform and its podcast app.”

We, a far-left radical Libertarian Marxist blog, affirm that we do in fact, oppose the corporate censorship of InfoWars, because we are principally opposed to corporate and state censorship, period. For what reason do we say this? Our political views have almost nothing in common apart from the fact that they both claim to be in opposition to the status-quo in one form or another, though for radically different reasons. We of course, fervently condemn InfoWars for it’s dangerous and harmful hate speech, for it’s grotesque, conspiratorial distortion of basic facts, for it’s glutenous profiteering off of the irrational fears of it’s readers, and for it’s thinly veiled fascist sympathies. We are however opposed to censorship, especially when it is done by undemocratic, tyrannical institutions- as corporations inherently are. We give here several reasons for this:

Firstly, the anti-fascists are not in principle opposed to freedom of speech, nor are we “free speech absolutists”. We are, however, opposed to what happens when violent hate speech, freedom of assembly, and the congregation of angry fascist sympathizers converges into a single terrifying mob of hate and reaction targeted either directly or symbolically, at minorities and people who traditionally face one form of oppression or another. This, consequently, is what gets us into trouble with those unsympathetic with our aims. We are also firm believers in the fact that violent speech is not a form of free speech, but rather is an abuse of it. When such conditions manifest themselves, we are not at all opposed to direct action or confrontation. Nor are we Utopian advocates in the social infallibility of the “market-place of ideas”. The explosion in the popularity of InfoWars is an expression of such fallibility, but it is not generally something that should be seen as a serious “threat” to society. Thus we are opposed to censorship. Generally we see the internet as a tool for attaining knowledge, not as a tool for gaining knowledge from the accounts and hearsay of others, but directly from the source with few exceptions. A website, Facebook Page, Podcast or YouTube channel is something very different from a rally. And if a website is “shut down” by society, it ought to be done so in the form of direct action through popular demand from below, not by faceless corporations or by the state (see what happened to The Daily Stormer).

Here let’s quote from Trotsky’s The Revolution Betrayed: “‘We are not Utopians,’ responded Lenin in 1917 to the bourgeois and reformist theoreticians of the bureaucratic state, and ‘by no means deny the possibility and inevitability of excesses on the part of individual persons, and likewise the necessity for suppressing such excesses. But… for this there is no need of a special machine, a special apparatus of repression. This will be done by the armed people themselves, with the same simplicity and ease with which any crowd of civilized people even in contemporary society separate a couple of fighters or stop an act of violence against a woman.'” Lenin here does not deny that suppression of abuse is sometimes necessary, but he makes the argument that such suppression ought to be done by the people themselves, neither by a state or a corporation, or any other special apparatus of repression. And even then, one still has the right to speak freely, and tools and mechanisms exist to ensure that right is protected. This is one of the many reasons that this site, Thought Foundry Blog, exists as a Tor, I2P, and Freenet hidden service. Even if you are in China or Saudi Arabia, you can find our site on the censorship resistant internet relatively easily and without serious threat to your personal safety or privacy.

Secondly, we as communists are principally opposed to the corporation as an entity. We shall give one example as to why. A corporation is controlled almost entirely by its board of directors. On face value, it is “democratic” because this board is elected by share-holders. But who are the share-holders? It is natural, certainly, of an ordinary person to own a few shares in a big company. But the corporate model is as follows: one share, one vote. Who owns most of the shares on Wall Street? The top 1%, an undeniable fact. The people who are directly affected by the decisions made by the company- the workers and the public at large- have democracy only insofar as they own shares. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that this model is as “democratic” as the “estates” of pre-revolutionary France, or the “Democratic” People’s Republic of Korea. The board of directors of so large a corporation as Google, have near absolute power over their company. Criminal acts are in effect, legal for such an entity, because the organization can easily pay off fines and lawsuits, assuming it’s team of highly skilled lawyers somehow fails to get a case dismissed. And the workers? Well, they can be fired for almost any reason, or for no reason at all. Are they paid what they are worth? An absurd proposition. Profits in capitalist society are but the unpaid wages of the working class. That is what capital is, the surplus value produced by the worker that the worker does not receive in turn. Do we want such an organization, itself exclusively in the hands of the ruling class, to be able to decide what speech is and is not acceptable? Would it not, in holding such power, turn the weapon of censorship towards its chief enemies (i.e. the socialists) when it feels the socialists, like InfoWars, are becoming too popular? What is the lesson of history here? Where power can be abused, it will be. The power here to censor and silence, simply should not exist. There is nothing in politics so suicidally reckless as for a socialist to cheer at a corporation’s censorship of an organization or individual on account of their political beliefs. (We saw this weapon turned against the socialist left just the other day with Venezuelanalysis and TeleSur).

Thirdly, what effect does censorship have on a society? To answer this question we have to carefully examine the history of the 20th century, whose horrors those sympathetic to our aims, even in distorted form, are partially responsible. I have often said here that privacy is the only real prerequisite to individual liberty in the digital age. But what does having privacy really, in and of itself, guarantee? Freedom of privacy guarantees that the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press can exist unfettered without intimidation or repression. Yes, it even allows abuses! But history shows us that the abuses of individuals are far less harmful to humanity than the abuses of institutions, corporations, and states. That is an irrefutable fact. Typically here I would quote a lengthy excerpt from Chapter 5 and 6 of Rosa Luxemburg’s pamphlet, ‘The Russian Revolution’ written in 1918 in which she gives her principled proletarian defense of unlimited individual and political freedom, and lays such freedoms down forth as an indispensable necessity for any society to be called a dictatorship of the proletariat, or a socialist society. People see an act of corporate censorship as acceptable because corporations are private institutions. But the effect it has in a corporate dominated world is no less grotesque an abuse than government censorship in a one-party state. As Hannah Arendt said in 1974, “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?” How can anyone truly be opposed to InfoWars if one cannot find primary source material, only hearing what others say about it? How can one truly be an anti-fascist if Mein Kampf is banned? No, we are opposed to InfoWars because we have seen it. We are opposed to fascism not only because we have seen the effect it has on society, but because we have read and understand the fascist thinkers of the 20th century. YouTube may not as an organization yet have the power to “erase” InfoWars, but it would if it could, and that is the problem. When an organization such as YouTube becomes so universal, it ceases to effectively be a “private” organization. We are of course opposed to the existence of private property, but even someone not sympathetic to our views can see the logic of our argument here.

But back to the point, a democracy is impossible without a truly informed population. That is the effect censorship has on a society, it makes it much more difficult for a population to be informed. Democracy is impossible in a censored society, freedom also is impossible, and socialism with that. I will quote briefly here from Rosa Luxeburg’s pamphlet mentioned above, “Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of ‘justice’ but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a special privilege.” Alex Jones is a buffoon, a bigot, and a dangerous one at that. But to say he should be allowed no form of freedom of expression paves the way towards a truly totalitarian society. A slippery slope? Indeed. But the slippery slope only exists because centralized censorship by corporations (or states for that matter) is allowed to exist by society. Let the people censor themselves, the people do not need to be “protected” from dangerous ideas. If the people are truly free, they can choose not to watch InfoWars of their own free will, and if something is truly vile, the people will shut it down, or will obfuscate access to it themselves. There is no need for a special mechanism of repression. Also as a side note, the self-censorship we refer to here is entirely different from the “self-censorship” we speak of the the context of the mass surveillance society, where people limit or “self-censor” their intellectual inquiries due to the awareness that they are being watched and recorded by corporate and state institutions, and by those in power.

We do not have a democratic press. The capitalist “freedom of the press” has only recently been somewhat actualized with the emergence of the internet, where anyone can publish their opinion somewhat freely. This website is but an expression of that freedom. But even still, our world is dominated by the corporate media, by institutions owned largely by only a handful of powerful corporations who are controlled exclusively by a few privileged members of the ruling class. We do not have a democratic press, nor do we have a press that is truly free from censorship. Here we would reluctantly agree with InfoWars and Donald Trump’s criticism of the press, but not at all for the same reasons. Of course the corporate media is “fake news”, even if it is less so than InfoWars or Donald Trump’s Twitter page. Contrary to the principled defense of CNN and MSNBC as heralded by many liberals, the corporate media, as Glenn Greenwald said, is a “neutered, impotent, and obsolete” organization full of “slimy beasts”. I am quoting from two separate interviews here, but I think the description stands. The popularity of InfoWars is itself partially the fault of the left. Socialists aren’t the only ones who see through the farce that is the corporate media. InfoWars is an expression of reactionary petty-bourgeois defiance to the bourgeois corporate media. There are very few anti-establishment left-wing news sources, and even fewer that are explicitly socialist. And even those news sources fail to become as popular as the infamous “InfoWars”. Noam Chomsky has always been a fierce advocate of a “democratic press”, an idea that causes the ruling class owners of the corporate media to tremble and falsely cry “censorship”. If we as a society are serious about combating “fake news”, a democratic press is something we should seriously consider creating, even as something that co-exists, side-by-side, with the corporate media and the bourgeois press under capitalism.

There is no such thing as “apolitical” journalism when it comes to politics. The vacuum not sufficiently filled by the left has been filled by right-wing conspiracy-minded “anti-establishment” journalism- if it can be called that- that in actuality only reinforces the existing dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, or capitalist class. Even still though, to consider it a “threat to democracy” is farcical. Censorship is a far greater threat to our bourgeois democracy, and to the existence of individual liberty as such. Truly working class politics demand the existence of a free and unfettered press, it demands the continual expansion of positive and negative liberty, as opposed to it’s gradual erosion under modern late stage capitalism and the mass surveillance society.

In closing, I would like to quote from a friend and comrade of mine on Facebook’s recent censorship of Venezuelanalysis (this was before TeleSur was also censored):

“For those on the left celebrating Facebook, YouTube, etc ‘de-platforming’ Alex Jones — this is the other side of the equation.

A NATO funded team is advising Facebook on how to combat the fevered ‘fake news’ paranoia in the wake of the highly overblown Russiagate episode and organizations such as Venezuela Analysis are seen as a similar threat to acceptable discourse. There is already evidence that Facebook and other platforms have de-prioritized independent left content in their news feed algorithms.

It’s not hard to imagine a not so distant future where organizations on the left are de-platformed as well or aggressively de-prioritized to the point where our content is hardly accessible to anyone that isn’t directly connected to our organizations.

Imagine if the Bush administration had this kind of power after September 11, 2001.

People can denounce ‘free speech absolutists’ all they want but if we have any confidence in the working class’s ability to transform society we shouldn’t see Alex Jones and others like him as a fundamental obstacle to our project. The fact that their ilk were able to spread their garbage on Facebook shouldn’t phase us. The pendulum can quickly swing the other way and we need access to social media tools as much as we need constitutional free speech protections.”

We do not believe Apple, Facebook, and YouTube (itself owned by Google) have any business censoring people on account of their political beliefs. As institutions that are de facto public, they have no such right. We at the Thought Foundry Blog, humbly proclaim that we will resist both corporate and state censorship, from a socialist perspective, with our last ounce of strength. You cannot advocate giving these institutions power over right-wing organizations without giving them power over left wing organizations also. Facebook has shown that it has no qualms silencing independent political journalism, will we be next?

My Thoughts on What The Distant Future Can and Should Look Like

July 22, 2018

I’d have to co-opt a phrase by Marx when it comes to the future, “I do not have a crystal ball”. But if I had to speculate the kind of society that follows this one, I’d have to say that Marx’s prediction is probably not only the most likely, but also the most ideal. But such a society I don’t think would declare itself dogmatically “Marxist”, these are merely my speculations, hopes, and dreams as to what our common future holds.

The United Earth Confederation would serve as a union of sovereign republics and territories. It’s articles of agreement, merely a mutual respect for human rights, peace, liberty, and equality, will be ratified by all member nations and territories. All member nations and territories will have the right to suceed from the union by popular vote. It will be a socialist, and ultimately communistic union without any centralized authority, all territories and republics being equal in rights and privileges. It’s flag shall be the red unicolor flag of the world socialist republic. Real authority will exist only insofar as the long term survival of the human species is concerned (i.e. regulationg emissions, fossil fuels, transfering the worlds energy source into 100% renewable green energy), and in military affairs. It will not be a “one world government” so much as there will be no actual state entity or central authority, either to the central power or individual territories. There will be no state in this new world, the people themselves will be armed and will govern themselves. It’s associations will be purely voluntary and without political coercion or coercion of conscience.

It would have no currency whatsoever or medium of exchange. All disputes between regions, territories, and republics must be settled diplomatically, war itself being considered an act of aggression against the whole Confederation.

Trade will be conducted on an egalitarian basis, with efforts made to rapidly reduce the wealth differential between historically imperialist and historically oppressed nations. The nations and territories of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East will spring fourth as a land of “wealthy nations and territories”.

The whole of humanity will speak a common second language. Hunger, poverty, war and want will be considered primitive conditions of the past, after taking advantage of the means we already have to abolish these grave social ills in our modern society. With a strong emphasis on scientific advancement, humanity will dip its toes into the planets, moons, and stars above.

Work will be preformed from each according to their ability, and each will take from society according to their needs, after a period in which income must be proportionate to actual work (including for former capitalists). The economy will be democratically planned. Workers will have direct democracy on the local level, elected and recallable technocrats and experts will plan the economy on the higher level. The economy will be centralized and decentralized at the same time, in regards to different industries and fields of work. Innovators will be given even more opportunities than they have under capitalism to forge new industries and products, and the workers who create and use the products will provide input for products and the production process itself to be better and more efficient. Bad ideas and bad products will be allowed to fail without the drastic social expense of poverty and unemployment workers and capitalists both face currently under the capitalist system. The relationship between the intellectual workers who draft new ideas and products and the physical laborers who create the products, will truly be voluntary and equal through the democratic process itself, both within and outside the workplace.

The political process in most countries I think, would be as follows: direct democracy and community self-governance on the local levels, representative democracy on the higher levels, with all elected representatives being instantly recallable by popular petition at any time.

There will be freedom or religion in this world socialist republic. It will officially promote state agnosticism as opposed to the state atheism of the “Marxist-Leninist” states of the 20th century. Groups of believers will be free to build houses of worship and promote their views publicly. There will be not only freedom of the press, but also decentralized democratic press confederations of journalists and citizens. Censorship by design, will be impossible.

The internet will be a vital part of the United Earth Confederation. Unlike the internet of today, the world wide web will be privacy respecting by default. It will be so to such a degree that a user simply browsing the net will be completely anonymous. Servers will be location hidden by default making censorship a virtual impossibility. Mass surveillance will be a thing of the past, considered an institutional violation of the rights of humanity.

Later on insofar as the distant future is concerned, it is likely that my predictions will become even more divorced from the actual historical process. I’d speculate that human genetic engineering and cybernetics would become popular trends in some areas of life. People would become genetically resillient to many of the diseases and illnesses that routinely plague humanity today and scientists would ensure a certain level of genetic diversity as a safety precaution through artificial means. I’d speculate that women would finally be liberated of the pain of childbirth through artificial wombs and hatcheries. I’d speculate that neural implants would offer many significant cognitive enhancements and inter-connectedness. Voluntary thought sharing in this era, may come about. The internet may become, quite literally, a way to surf the currently existing and historical thoughts of humanity in a way that is voluntary for all parties involved. I could foresee needless conflict coming about because of these technological advancements, between the so-called “superior” and “primitive”. But I hope the egalitarian spirit of the world republic would displace such conflicts, and that the spirit of socialist voluntaryism would win out. To choose to genetically engineer a child, to work, to give birth in the body or outside of it, to connect to the internet at all, to use cybernetic implants, or euthenasia, should all be purely voluntary matters of individual conscience. I predict that the old will be given new, robotic bodies through science, maybe even uploading their consciousness or transfering itto one of these robots. Even through medical science alone, I foresee a mankind that is ammortal. People will live to become 1000 and sometimes far older.

I predict the word “human” will extend to non-homo sapien organisms, either intelligent extra-terrestrial life if we find it, genetically engineered super-intelligent animals, or artificial intelligence created by man. Such beings should and must have the same rights as man, so much so that the word “human” will apply to them as the term “foreigner” came to be know by our distant tribal ancestors.

I predict marriage and the family will be radically altered in many ways, but that marriage will still be sacred and involiable to many if not most. I predict polygamy will become normal and accepted, even among the religious, that it will be purely a matter of individual conscience to the consenting adults involved. Women will sometimes have multiple husbands or wives, and men will sometimes have multiple wives or husbands. Gender norms too will become radically altered and doing activities traditionally associated with the opposite sex will become normalized. Different gender identities will become widely accepted by all of society.

I would hope at this point that humanity will extend not only to a terraformed Mars and the outer reaches of the solar system, but to Alpha Centauri and beyond. Perhaps we will find like minded civilizations out there who would not consider us too hostile or too primitive, and who would not be too hostile themselves.

All this is speculation of course, we could easily kill ourselves off in a mass extinction event caused by our reckless consumerism and polluting industries, all for the sake of profit. Or perhaps there are still darker paths our species could take. But I have to hope humanity is not as stubborn as it sometimes appears, that radical change will come to our world order, that this change will be a means not only to the long term survival of the human species, but towards greater individual liberty and shared abundance for all. I think my hopes can be said as follows: Out of many, one. A free humanity.

Marxism Against The Conversion of Marxism Into a Political Religion

July 12, 2018

What did Marx and Engels imagine when in 1848 they wrote in the Manifesto of the Communist Party, “WORKERS OF ALL LANDS, UNITE!”? In the same manifesto, they wrote, “We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle for democracy.”

Looking back, half a century later, Frederick Engels said:

“The Communist Manifesto had already proclaimed the struggle for the general franchise, for democracy, as one of the first and most important tasks of the militant proletariat . . .” (Introduction to Class Struggles in France 1895)

Only four years after the Communist Manifesto Marx emphasised the point in an article in the New York Tribune (25 August 1852):

“The carrying of universal suffrage in England would . . . be a far more socialistic measure than anything which has been honoured with that name on the Continent. It’s inevitable result, here, is the political supremacy of the working class.”

In their early years of political activity Marx and Engels had been optimistic about the speed with which developments would take place. With greater experience they had to recognize that the obstacles—the resourcefulness of the ruling class, the adaptability of capitalism, and the slowness with which socialist ideas were accepted by the workers—were much greater than they had supposed.

Engels, in the work already mentioned summarised this:

“The time is past for revolutions carried through by small minorities at the head of unconscious masses. When it gets to be a matter of the complete transformation of the social organisation, the masses themselves must participate, must understand what is at stake and why they are to act. That much the history of the last fifty years has taught us. But so that the masses may understand what is to be done, long and persistent work is required . . . . Even in France the Socialists realise more and more that no durable success is possible unless they win over in advance the great mass of the people, which, in this case, means the peasants. The slow work of propaganda and parliamentary activity are here also recognised as the next task of the party”.

(https://www.marxists.org/archive/hardcastle/marx_demo.htm)

What did Engels say of socialism in “The Principles of Communism”? He said, “Above all, it will establish a democratic constitution, and through this, the direct or indirect dominance of the proletariat.”

What is the attitude of Marxism towards the question of authority and the cult of personality?

“Neither of us cares a straw for popularity. Let me cite one proof of this: such was my aversion to the personality cult that at the time of the International, when plagued by numerous moves— originating from various countries— to accord me public honour, I never allowed one of these to enter the domain of publicity, nor did I ever reply to them, save with an occasional snub. When Engels and I first joined the secret communist society, we did so only on condition that anything conducive to a superstitious belief in authority be eliminated from the Rules.” (Marx, Engels Collected Works V. 46, P. 288)

On the question of criticism Marx said his method of analysis embodied “the ruthless criticism of all that exists: ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.”

The Marxist view is that a socialist society cannot but be a democracy, even if its methods of attaining such a society are revolutionary. Marxism does not see the building of socialism as something that can be decreed or ordered from above, but something that can only emerge in the democratic struggle and process itself.

Such a view mirrors Luxemburg’s critique of the Russian Revolution, when she said in her 1918 pamphlet:

“The tacit assumption underlying the Lenin-Trotsky theory of dictatorship is this: that the socialist transformation is something for which a ready-made formula lies completed in the pocket of the revolutionary party, which needs only to be carried out energetically in practice. This is, unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – not the case. Far from being a sum of ready-made prescriptions which have only to be applied, the practical realization of socialism as an economic, social and juridical system is something which lies completely hidden in the mists of the future. What we possess in our program is nothing but a few main signposts which indicate the general direction in which to look for the necessary measures, and the indications are mainly negative in character at that. Thus we know more or less what we must eliminate at the outset in order to free the road for a socialist economy. But when it comes to the nature of the thousand concrete, practical measures, large and small, necessary to introduce socialist principles into economy, law and all social relationships, there is no key in any socialist party program or textbook. That is not a shortcoming but rather the very thing that makes scientific socialism superior to the utopian varieties.

The socialist system of society should only be, and can only be, an historical product, born out of the school of its own experiences, born in the course of its realization, as a result of the developments of living history, which – just like organic nature of which, in the last analysis, it forms a part – has the fine habit of always producing along with any real social need the means to its satisfaction, along with the task simultaneously the solution. However, if such is the case, then it is clear that socialism by its very nature cannot be decreed or introduced by ukase. It has as its prerequisite a number of measures of force – against property, etc. The negative, the tearing down, can be decreed; the building up, the positive, cannot. New Territory. A thousand problems. Only experience is capable of correcting and opening new ways. Only unobstructed, effervescing life falls into a thousand new forms and improvisations, brings to light creative new force, itself corrects all mistaken attempts. The public life of countries with limited freedom is so poverty-stricken, so miserable, so rigid, so unfruitful, precisely because, through the exclusion of democracy, it cuts off the living sources of all spiritual riches and progress. (Proof: the year 1905 and the months from February to October 1917.) There it was political in character; the same thing applies to economic and social life also. The whole mass of the people must take part in it. Otherwise, socialism will be decreed from behind a few official desks by a dozen intellectuals.”

Furthermore in another work Rosa says again,

“The modern proletarian class does not carry out its struggle according to a plan set out in some book or theory; the modern workers’ struggle is a part of history, a part of social progress, and in the middle of history, in the middle of progress, in the middle of the fight, we learn how we must fight… That’s exactly what is laudable about it, that’s exactly why this colossal piece of culture, within the modern workers’ movement, is epoch-defining: that the great masses of the working people first forge from their own consciousness, from their own belief, and even from their own understanding the weapons of their own liberation.”

Yet somewhere along the way in the 20th century socialist experiment, this principle of mass rule and unfettered democracy was turned on its head. One of the peculiarities of Stalinism is its basis in Marxist theory, yet we see historically that a Stalinist society can only be maintained by political repression, murder, and the forcible suppression of actually existing political will. This violence is not against the “remnants” of the bourgeois class as our Stalinist theoreticians would allege but against the actually existing proletariat itself. The seasonal “renewal” of the class struggle as decreed by party bosses is not in actuality a renewal of class struggle, but of political repression against those workers and peasants who express discontent with the status quo. Its own justification for its existence is theoretical and abstract, it is the “historical necessity of progress towards communism”, “communism”, or even “history itself”. If 95% of the population (i.e. the proletariat) is opposed to the Stalinist dictatorship, it does not matter because every brutal act is justified for those who will exist under communism. But it is impossible to know just how many people genuinely support the Stalinist system of a particular country due to the repressive nature of a Stalinist dictatorship. Officially, everyone is a “free and happy people” who support the government. It is impossible to know how many people disapprove of the status quo because those who speak out are labeled as “class traitors”, “enemies of the people”, are arrested, imprisoned, exiled, or disappeared. Officially this doesn’t happen at all, but pointing out that it does “unofficially” happen is far more dangerous a thing to do than to proclaim oneself critical of the leader.

Social contradictions in a Stalinist society therefore, can only but build up to the point of social implosion. There is no real internal mechanism to address social contradictions and popular discontent. Thus it is only a matter of time before the whole system destroys itself. Like capitalism, Stalinism creates its own gravediggers.

The purpose of socialism is to actively and democratically address social contradictions to build a better world, not only the contradictions of the previous society, but the contradictions created in the construction of a new one. Revolution itself is an act of dissent, and that freedom of popular dissent cannot be limited without being lost. Eugene V. Debs said of this, “If it had not been for the discontent of a few fellows who had not been satisfied with their conditions, you would still be living in caves. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation.”

Somewhere along the way socialism became not only something different from what Marx, Engels, or Rosa Luxemburg advocated, but entirely opposite. For example, Kim Jong Il said in his theoretical magnum opus “On The Juche Idea”:

“The core in the Juche outlook on the revolution is loyalty to the party and the leader. The cause of socialism and communism is started by the leader and is carried out under the guidance of the party and the leader. The revolutionary movement will be victorious only when it follows the guidance of the party and the leader. Therefore, to establish a correct outlook on the revolution, one must always put the main emphasis on increasing loyalty to the party and the leader…

The revolutionary practice of communists is nothing less than a struggle to implement the revolutionary idea of the leader and party policy. A man who upholds the revolutionary idea of the leader and dedicates his all to the struggle to carry out party policy is a genuine communist revolutionary with a correct outlook on the revolution.

Whether one has a correct outlook on the revolution or not is revealed particularly at a time of severe trials. People reveal their true nature in adverse circumstances. He who is determined to be infinitely faithful to the party and the leader even if he would have to give up his life and who remains loyal to his revolutionary principles on the scaffold, is a true revolutionary with a firm Juche outlook on the revolution.”

Somehow miraculously, the movement embodying “the ruthless criticism of all that exists: ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be”, was turned into, “always [putting] the main emphasis on increasing loyalty to the party and the leader.”

The conversion of Marxism into a political religion would not only have mortified Marx, but is something intrinsically opposed to the principles of Marxism. The democratic rule of the masses as they actually exist, free to determine their own destiny, was replaced by something entirely different. As Enver Hoxha said, “Our Marxist-Leninist theory teaches us: Every revolutionary activity must be guided by the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory which the Marxist Leninist party masters, defends and faithfully applies.” It is not a question of democracy, but a question of faithful adherence to a particular ideology, to a single political party, and moreover to the central committee of that political party.

When Marx said, “WORKERS OF ALL LANDS, UNITE!” he did not by any means imagine his face next to Engels, with the faces of several other revolutionaries plastered to a wall behind a central committee giving a speech on “increasing loyalty to the leader” and “turning every cadre into ideologically sound anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists”. On the contrary, Marx imagined that the working class, having won the battle of democracy, would be free to forge its own destiny unfettered by the past, unfettered even his own opinions and ideas. The socioeconomic system called communism was seen by Marx as a likely historical inevitability that would come about as a result of the seizure of power by the proletariat and the establishment of its democratic control of society, and not something brought about by faithfully and religiously following the ideas of Karl Marx or any other revolutionary. We again must reiterate, “That the socialist transformation is something for which a ready-made formula lies completed in the pocket of the revolutionary party, which needs only to be carried out energetically in practice is, unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – not the case.”

The point of this overemphasis on the quotes of long dead revolutionaries is not to advocate their conversion into icons, but to show to those who do convert them into icons that their ideological heroes deplore their own sanctification and the conversion of their ideas into a political religion. The future is unclear, undetermined by any one book, thinker, or theory. We can use reason and tools such as a historical materialist analysis to infer what kind of society would result from this or that measure, from this or that class seizing political power at this time or place. But we can never really know. Marx’s catchphrase was, “I do not have a crystal ball”. We must emphasize this view. In using reason we can infer that the results of the proletarian majority, or working class, seizing political power for itself and establishing a genuinely democratic society, could only be benevolent, especially if applied to a developed society where negative liberty and formal democracy are already the norm and eagerly long for expansion. The introduction of industrial democracy and community self-governance, we believe, can only be benevolent, can only expand the liberty we enjoy now, can only be a means to greater shared abundance.

“The great only appear great because we are on our knees – let us rise”. -James Connolly

An Open Letter to Kim Jong Un

June 23, 2018

To The Supreme Leader of The Korean People,

Marshall Kim Jong Un,

Greetings! I can only hope you have come across this letter and are willing to read what I have to say. I am a student of history and a socialist in the United States of America. I have studied your country’s history and the Juche idea with great detail in order to better understand the DPRK. I also have read extensively on the ‘cold war’ era, and on Albanian history in particular, a subject I am writing a book on as we speak. This book is very critical of the Stalinist system, not out of hatred, but out of love for the socialist cause. Until recently I did not see much of a chance for genuinely socialist reforms benevolent to the working people of your country. But the historic DPRK-US summit and the comments of your friend Dennis Rodman have changed my view on the matter. I have spent a lot of time writing this letter, laying out my views. I hope you will take the time to read them, and I only ask that you forgive me if my writings seem too critical or disrespectful, as I can assure you that this is the opposite of what I intend.

I am enthusiastic about a DPRK that is implementing reforms, but my fear is that the DPRK will collapse entirely if it naively implements “shock therapy” or similarly misguided market reforms, abandoning socialism entirely. The result of this in my opinion, would be tragic. When the USSR fell, life expectancy plummeted by decades and the Soviet people endured many hardships. Mr. Gorbachev’s reforms were not, in my view, misguided politically. Only in the economic field were they misguided. Politically, the liberalization of the USSR was fully in line with genuine socialist politics. Gorbachev thought he could either continue flawed Stalinist top-down state planning of the economy, or move towards a market economy (similar to, but more capitalist in nature than Lenin’s ‘New Economic Policy’ that some historians argue Lenin would have continued). But this is a false dichotomy.

Your country, after successfully fighting against Japanese imperialism, was liberated by Kim Il Sung and the Workers’ Party of Korea. However, tragically, the model implemented by Kim Il Sung was not one that emerged organically in the course of struggle and the seizure of power by the working class and peasantry. Nor was it based on the Paris Commune or even on the early democratic principles of the Russian Revolution. Instead, it was based on Stalinist Russia. Leon Trotsky, I think, best explains the nature of a Stalinist state. He wrote in 1938 of Stalinism in the USSR:

“The Soviet Union emerged from the October Revolution as a workers’ state. State ownership of the means of production, a necessary prerequisite to socialist development, opened up the possibility of rapid growth of the productive forces. But the apparatus of the workers’ state underwent a complete degeneration at the same time: it was transformed from a weapon of the working class into a weapon of bureaucratic violence against the working class and more and more a weapon for the sabotage of the country’s economy. The bureaucratization of a backward and isolated workers’ state and the transformation of the bureaucracy into an all-powerful privileged caste constitute the most convincing refutation – not only theoretically, but this time, practically – of the theory of socialism in one country.

The USSR thus embodies terrific contradictions. But it still remains a degenerated workers’ state. Such is the social diagnosis. The political prognosis has an alternative character: either the bureaucracy, becoming ever more the organ of the world bourgeoisie in the workers’ state, will overthrow the new forms of property and plunge the country back to capitalism; or the working class will crush the bureaucracy and open the way to socialism.” (The USSR and Problems of The Transitional Epoch).

Kim Jong Il rightfully pointed out in Our Socialism Centered on The Masses Shall Not Perish, that the systems embodied in the USSR and Eastern Europe represented totalitarian deviations from what socialism was supposed to represent. Kim Jong Il says in this speech, “Our socialist society is a genuinely democratic society which fully provides the people with true political rights and freedom. By nature, socialism cannot be separated from democracy.” The former, I will discuss in detail later on. The latter, is an undeniable fact. Socialism is indispensable to democracy and democracy to socialism. Political democracy without industrial democracy (socialism) amounts to virtual oligarchy in practice (see my country, the United States or any other bourgeois republic). But the reverse can also be said. A country that formally has industrial democracy without any real individual liberty also amounts to virtual oligarchy in practice.

It is my belief that Stalin lied when he declared the USSR had fully constructed a socialist system in the 1930’s. The construction of a socialist system takes enormous time and effort, and cannot be completed in one country alone, not in Korea or even in a country as big as the former Soviet Union. A planned economy alone is not socialist, but is state-capitalist. Only a democratically planned economy that does not exist in isolation can truly be called socialist, where the working people and the whole of society democratically control production and society as a whole. The Bolsheviks fully acknowledged that socialism could not be built in Russia alone. Lenin and the Bolsheviks repeatedly stressed that the success of the Russian revolution depended entirely on international revolution as socialism could not be built in one country alone. But with the failure of the German revolution and Lenin’s untimely death, Stalin and Bukharin invented the “theory” that socialism could be built in one country alone. The first world war was an imperialist war that came about chiefly due to the fact that the internal contradictions of a capitalist economy could no longer be reconciled within the confines of the nation state (certainly not by the mere assassination of a single politician as our bourgeois historians claim). Socialism, a higher stage of historical and social development, would naturally also not be able to exist in one country alone, in isolation. The inevitable result of this would be autarky, and inevitable economic stagnation. With the collapse not only of the USSR but of the Eastern Blog as well, the DPRK has been left virtually isolated by no fault of its own. This poses a serious problem for the people of the DPRK. Your country’s economy cannot be modernized from within. But it is surrounded by hostile capitalist powers who want a “McDonald’s and a Starbucks on every street corner”, who see the workers of the DPRK as nothing more than a potential source of “cheap labor”. This contradiction must be addressed.

It is clear that Marx and Lenin underestimated the resilience of the capitalist system, it’s ability to utilize the state to artificially prolong it’s lifespan. As such, I believe it is crucial to implement some market reforms and to open your country’s economy up to the rest of the world. At this point, market reforms alone can rapidly modernize the DPRK. But without political reforms, this would shatter your country. I would like to quote from Communist Revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg’s best work, The Russian Revolution (1918), as I think it best illustrates my views on a genuinely socialist system, which is miles away from the Stalinist system, and sadly, from the reality of the DPRK today:

“On the other hand, it is a well-known and indisputable fact that without a free and untrammeled press, without the unlimited right of association and assemblage, the rule of the broad masses of the people is entirely unthinkable…

Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when “freedom” becomes a special privilege…

The tacit assumption underlying the Lenin-Trotsky theory of dictatorship is this: that the socialist transformation is something for which a ready-made formula lies completed in the pocket of the revolutionary party, which needs only to be carried out energetically in practice. This is, unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – not the case. Far from being a sum of ready-made prescriptions which have only to be applied, the practical realization of socialism as an economic, social and juridical system is something which lies completely hidden in the mists of the future. What we possess in our program is nothing but a few main signposts which indicate the general direction in which to look for the necessary measures, and the indications are mainly negative in character at that. Thus we know more or less what we must eliminate at the outset in order to free the road for a socialist economy. But when it comes to the nature of the thousand concrete, practical measures, large and small, necessary to introduce socialist principles into economy, law and all social relationships, there is no key in any socialist party program or textbook. That is not a shortcoming but rather the very thing that makes scientific socialism superior to the utopian varieties.

The socialist system of society should only be, and can only be, an historical product, born out of the school of its own experiences, born in the course of its realization, as a result of the developments of living history, which – just like organic nature of which, in the last analysis, it forms a part – has the fine habit of always producing along with any real social need the means to its satisfaction, along with the task simultaneously the solution. However, if such is the case, then it is clear that socialism by its very nature cannot be decreed or introduced by ukase. It has as its prerequisite a number of measures of force – against property, etc. The negative, the tearing down, can be decreed; the building up, the positive, cannot. New Territory. A thousand problems. Only experience is capable of correcting and opening new ways. Only unobstructed, effervescing life falls into a thousand new forms and improvisations, brings to light creative new force, itself corrects all mistaken attempts. The public life of countries with limited freedom is so poverty-stricken, so miserable, so rigid, so unfruitful, precisely because, through the exclusion of democracy, it cuts off the living sources of all spiritual riches and progress. (Proof: the year 1905 and the months from February to October 1917.) There it was political in character; the same thing applies to economic and social life also. The whole mass of the people must take part in it. Otherwise, socialism will be decreed from behind a few official desks by a dozen intellectuals.

Public control is indispensably necessary. Otherwise the exchange of experiences remains only with the closed circle of the officials of the new regime. Corruption becomes inevitable. (Lenin’s words, Bulletin No.29) Socialism in life demands a complete spiritual transformation in the masses degraded by centuries of bourgeois rule. Social instincts in place of egotistical ones, mass initiative in place of inertia, idealism which conquers all suffering, etc., etc. No one knows this better, describes it more penetratingly; repeats it more stubbornly than Lenin. But he is completely mistaken in the means he employs. Decree, dictatorial force of the factory overseer, draconian penalties, rule by terror – all these things are but palliatives. The only way to a rebirth is the school of public life itself, the most unlimited, the broadest democracy and public opinion. It is rule by terror which demoralizes.

When all this is eliminated, what really remains? In place of the representative bodies created by general, popular elections, Lenin and Trotsky have laid down the soviets as the only true representation of political life in the land as a whole, life in the soviets must also become more and more crippled. Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously – at bottom, then, a clique affair – a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins (the postponement of the Soviet Congress from three-month periods to six-month periods!) Yes, we can go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc. (Lenin’s speech on discipline and corruption.)”

Unfortunately Rosa Luxemburg here is correct, and her writings are prophetic in describing what I regard as the Stalinist tragedy of the 20th century. I believe that political reforms are crucial to your country’s survival. Currently the DPRK is the envy of the developing world in regards to positive liberty (healthcare, education, housing, the right to employment, etc.) But sadly the DPRK lacks almost entirely negative liberty (freedom of speech, protest, religion, assembly, information, internet, press, etc.) which is as fundamental to socialism as positive liberty. This inherent lack of real individual liberty is why many working people do not look onto your country favorably. This lack of liberty will inevitably lead to the total collapse of the DPRK without serious political reforms. This is the lesson of 1989. And the opposite is also true, if you implement too many reforms too quickly, in a reckless way, it will also inevitably lead to the collapse of the DPRK. Hence the motto, if you recklessly and in an unplanned way “give the people an inch, they will take a yard”. You want them to have the yard, but in a way that does not plunge them into extreme poverty.

One of the key aspects of a Stalinist country is that it denies the actually existing material conditions of political and social life. Officially, the DPRK or any other historic Stalinist country is full of “free and happy” people who wholeheartedly support the government. But unofficially, and in actuality, this is not the case. And often times, no one really takes the “official” ideology seriously, except perhaps children and the country’s leader and central committee, which in a Stalinist country serves as “the only thinking element”, as Luxemburg claimed. These conditions are a result of an unfree society that (unofficially) utilizes post-revolutionary state terror, a hallmark of the Stalinist system. I do not blame you personally, Kim Jong Un, for the conditions of the country who’s leadership you inherited. I do not even blame your father or grandfather. I place the blame onto Stalin himself and on the backward conditions from which the world’s first Workers republic emerged. The tragedy of the Russian revolution is a genuine one.

Recall in 1967 when Lin Biao arrogantly proclaimed, “The ever-victorious thought of Mao Tse-tung is Marxism-Leninism in the era in which imperialism is heading for total collapse and socialism is advancing toward worldwide victory.” In reality the opposite was true. It was Lin Biao’s Stalinism that was heading for total collapse and imperialism that was heading for worldwide victory, precisely because of the contradictions I have laid out.. Naturally I believe socialism will return, but it will be miles away from the Stalinism of the 20th century. Such slogans of the “inevitable” victory of a Stalinist political system or of the “invincibility” of a political party, can be made only in total denial of the actually existing material conditions of a country. In East Germany there was a song called “The Party is Always Right”. A true Marxist must acknowledge that the party is not always right. In your country for instance, eventually you will grow old and like your father and grandfather you will pass away. The person who takes your place could stand opposed to everything you stand for. He or she could be the devil himself and still the party would proclaim this person to be a “dear leader” and a “comrade” who’s words are “followed faithfully” by the people who “love and admire” them regardless of if the people even approve of that persons leadership. In a day the people could go from officially having “total love and admiration” of the leader to executing him in a way similar to how Ceausescu was overthrown. The masses would have no right to dissent or speak out as they actually exist in society. “The rule of the masses” would be, and is, only a theoretical abstraction totally divorced from the real social conditions of the country. And that is the problem, the same problem that led to the total collapse of the Eastern Bloc. In our country and in the West, we socialists have a website we often go to called Marxists.org. This website says correctly of freedom and socialism:

“In hitherto existing Socialist states, like the Soviet Union and China, ‘negative freedoms’ were severely restricted, while ‘positive freedoms’ were advanced. All people had universal access to health care, full university education, etc, but people could only use those things they had in a particular way – in support of the government. In the most advanced capitalist governments, this relationship is the other way around: ‘positive freedoms’ are restricted or do not exist all together, while ‘negative freedoms’ are more advanced than ever before. A worker in capitalist society has the freedom to say whatever she believes, but she does not have the freedom to live if crippled by a disease regardless of how much money she has. A socialist society that has been established from a capitalist society will strengthen ‘negative freedoms’, while ushering in real ‘positive freedoms’ across the board, ensuring equal and free access to social services by all.”

In 1968 Czechoslovakia during the ‘Prague Spring’, the key contradiction I pointed out in the Stalinist universe (between public and private opinions) was directly addressed. Everyone before 1968 had a “public opinion” that supported the “leader and the party”, and a “private opinion” which while often in support of socialism, was usually fervently opposed to Stalinism and the dictatorship of the central committee. The Prague Spring tried to abolish this contradiction. It tried to make the “rule of the popular masses” a reality by allowing the masses to voice their opinions as they actually existed without fear of repression or individuals “disappearing” because of the opinions they hold. They said in their actions, “The proletariat is not some mythical people that will exist under communism for which all brutal measures that the state takes are justified. No, we are the proletariat, the common people who actually exist today and we demand political freedom, the same freedoms that have actually materialized to a large degree in the capitalist countries, and no longer ‘merely on paper’. Listen to us, and not the Central Committee”. The result as I am sure you know, was an onslaught of Soviet tanks and an armed invasion from the armies of the USSR and Eastern Blog, the publishing of the dreaded “Brezhnev Doctrine”. In your country too, there is a vast contradiction between people’s “public” and “private” opinion. And the more repressive the DPRK state apparatus is, the stronger this contradiction will become.

If you recall, a single speech from someone in your position can change a nation, can change the world. In 1956 Khrushchev delivered a speech at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He denounced Stalin and Stalinism. He openly pointed out the terrible abuses, murders, and political repression that existed under Stalin’s rule. While these terrible crimes were primarily the sins of the Stalinist bureaucracy of which Khrushchev was a part, and while he incorrectly blamed Stalin the individual only, it was nonetheless a revolutionary speech that sent shock-waves throughout the world. It heralded in the “De-Stalinization” of the Soviet Union. While it remained a totalitarian society, it nonetheless made significant reforms. Gorbachev too, made serious reforms in his country. And it should be noted that the collapse of the Soviet Union was caused primarily by the hard-line conservative Stalinist bureaucracy that created the 1991 August Coup in an effort to undo Gorbachev’s reforms and to destroy the newly emerged, genuine dictatorship of the proletariat. Boris Yeltsin managed to take advantage of the situation to illegally abolish the Soviet Union and establish a “Commonwealth of Independent States”. Thus it can be said that it was not Gorbachev who destroyed the Soviet Union. Perestroika did not fail. Glasnost did not fail. The Stalinists who tried to retake power failed. The fall of the USSR is on them alone.

In light of all this, I can only ask: Who else can change the conditions of your country but yourself? Reforms are inevitable and the Korean people are starving for real individual liberty and modernization. If you do not act, the people will inevitably rise up and overthrow you, and the chaos that ensues will destroy the DPRK and in all likelihood, will plunge the nation into the same extreme poverty and misery that the Soviet people endured in the 1990’s. You are the supreme leader of the Korean people. They look up to you. They listen to you. I do think your grandfather, President Kim Il Sung, made many mistakes. I think the cult of personality that surrounded him is as tragic as the one that surrounds you today. But I do not doubt the sincerity of his belief that a better world is possible. In fact, I share this belief, even if I fervently disagree with his Stalinist methods.

I will not pretend that the problems your country and people face are easy. In fact, they are in many ways more difficult than those faced by the early Soviet Union. But if you lead your people on a road that brings them real political freedom, modernization through cautious market reforms, and truly socialist democratic control and planning of the economy (similar to the People’s Republic of China) and the state, I think the respect and reverence the Korean people have of you will truly have been earned, and not the natural result of an unfree Stalinist society and a censored press that only praises you. I would call on you, respected Marshall Kim Jong Un, to implement real reforms for the Korean people. I would call on you to implement a more cautious but nonetheless revolutionary Glasnost and a truly socialist Perestroika, learning from the mistakes of Gorbachev, and applying it’s key principles to the material conditions of the DPRK. I would call on you to implement a ‘Korean Spring’, similar to the Prague Spring of 1968. There are no Soviet tanks that could roll into Pyongyang today and I think China would approve of cautious, revolutionary reforms as they would guarantee the long-term stability of the DPRK.

If you succeed, your country will not only be like China in regards to economic success, but also it will be country with real human rights and socialist democracy, a country where the working class is truly in power and not merely a handful of politicians. In fact, in time there would probably even be popular demand in the South for a unification with the DPRK’s reformed government and economic system. In several decades the DPRK could be the envy not only of the developing world, but of the developed world as well. You constantly stress in your speeches the importance of ideological work. You alone can say to the masses, for instance, “We have fallen behind decades economically due to the imperialist blockade. In the years when my father and grandfather ruled, somewhere along the way we became a totalitarian society. We have made many mistakes. The state has suppressed real workers democracy and human rights. It has silently imprisoned and repressed political dissidents and falsely claimed we were a free society. But I believe in socialism, and I believe real individual liberty and genuine democracy are fundamental prerequisites to socialism. I believe that the rule of the masses is impossible without a free and untrampled press. So we will found a congress of people’s deputies like the one Gorbachev founded. We will invite freely elected representatives of the people, some of whom are not even in the Workers’ Party of Korea, to an assembly where they can debate, speak freely, air old grudges, ask questions, propose measures, and cast votes. It will be an assembly where there is real power. There was a time when I decided what questions were allowed, where I alone made the decisions. But now I will have the help of ~3,000 elected representatives of the common people. Now there will be a congress of people’s deputies held in Pyongyang that will be aired on live television to the tens of millions of fellow countrymen and women, and to the world where we can say to our people and to the world ‘We are learning democracy. We are working to build real socialism.’ We will make the dictatorship of the proletariat a reality. In time we will become the envy not only of the developing world, but of the developed world. We will accept cautious market reforms while maintaining independence and building workers power. We will become a country so free and democratic that the people of the West will become envious of us. That is what we will do.”

A socialist in my country named Eugene V. Debs once said to our people, “If it had not been for the discontent of a few fellows who had not been satisfied with their conditions, you would still be living in caves. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation.” If you want socialism sir, if you want a prosperous and free nation, you have to let the Korean people air their grievances without fear. You have to let them speak freely. A Korean Congress of People’s Deputies would be the perfect platform for such a change. It would be a platform for the people to implement real changes without endangering the political stability of the nation. Like the Chinese people, the Korean people are fond of socialism. While they are repressed by the state, they nonetheless understand the importance of positive socialist liberty, of a country in the hands of the majority and not the minority. So while the DPRK today is not as Kim Jong Il claimed, a “genuine democracy with real freedom”, it certainly can be if you implement reforms.

Marxism is based on criticism, and I make my criticisms in that spirit alone. Marx described this as being “the ruthless criticism of all that exists: ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.” Understand that I write to you in defense of socialism, not against it. I write only against the Stalinist despotism that has poisoned the words ‘communism’ and ‘socialism’ in my country, that has subjected the emancipatory struggle for freedom and socialism to a despotism far worse that the tyranny of the market.

Kim Jong Un, perhaps I have too high hopes for you. But perhaps I do not. If you agree with what I have said even a little bit, or have any questions at all, please write back to me. Please investigate what I have said for yourself. I know you are a very busy man, and I am extremely grateful to you for taking the time to read this letter. I am only a young intellectual and writer but I speak on behalf of many who hold similar views. I implore you, sir, change your country, change the world.

Sincerely,

Thought Foundry Blog

A Marxist’s Defense of Privacy in The Age of Mass Surveillance

June 12, 2018

Over 200 hundred years ago today, a famous bourgeois revolutionary named John Adams wrote the following in a letter to Thomas Jefferson:

“When people talk of the Freedom of Writing, Speaking, or thinking, I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more.”(15 July 1817)

John Adams couldn’t have been more correct. As a bourgeois revolutionary who fought in the American revolution, John Adams and his contemporaries understood the revolutionary potential of capitalism. They understood that it had, was, and was going to transform human society irrevocably. For them, they hoped this progress would work towards the betterment of mankind. As such, the bourgeois-democratic republic they established was one in which individual liberty was to be protected by a rigid adherence to formal guarantees of liberty, to a jury by ones peers whose decisions were bound to interpretations of these texts, and to a free press which was to challenge a state power already limited by the separation of powers. These bourgeois republicans had found within their system something fundamental to any so-called free society. Most of the rights they proclaimed therein “for all” were not actualized for the majority until the civil rights movement, and the countless working class struggles from below. Every nation thus far which has attempted to ‘skip over’ a bourgeois stage of development and go directly into socialism has failed miserably not only because of economic backwardness and isolation, but because of the lack of liberty that came as a result of this backwardness, and the suffocating effect it has on any attempt of socialism or the rule of the masses. Trotsky once said “socialism needs democracy like the human body needs oxygen”. We can only affirm how right he was.

As Rosa Luxemburg has said, “Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of ‘justice’ but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a special privilege.”

Naturally, “On the other hand, it is a well-known and indisputable fact that without a free and untrammeled press, without the unlimited right of association and assemblage, the rule of the broad masses of the people is entirely unthinkable.”

(The Russian Revolution, Chapters 5 and 6).

Why did John Adams say to Jefferson he could “only laugh” at the assertion of any real freedom of speech, writing, or thought? Yes, we can say Adams recognized the limitations of formal bourgeois declarations of liberty and equality, especially in the 19th century. But more than that, Adams also realized the revolutionary potential of capitalism and the technological innovations it would inevitably bring, innovations that would revolutionize human communication forever. I do not think in this Adams predicted the coming invention of the internet per se, but I do think he believed a new form of anonymous communication was bound to come about. But as he said in his letter, it could come about only hundreds of years after he and Jefferson spoke no more.

As I have stated previously in my article ‘The Marxist Defense of Human Rights’, and ‘The Dictatorship of The Proletariat and America Today’, I believe the ethics of the bourgeoisie no longer are in line with liberty or equality, but are opposed to them. I believe that when the bourgeoisie in 1776 took control of society in the name of society, that its interests were those of the people at large. Hence the great slogan of sovereignty: “We the People”. But today, the bourgeoisie has outlived its usefulness and its right to rule. It has endangered the future of humanity by its reckless and nihilistic plundering of the earth, it’s destruction of the prerequisites of human prosperity for the generations to come, and its refusal to address the fundamental social ills that still plague humanity of which, it alone is responsible for. I believe that only the revolutionary proletariat has the potential and self-interest to preserve human freedom, strengthen it, and bring about real equality for all in actuality and not merely on paper.

When Adams and Jefferson spoke of liberty, their interests were those of the people at large. The interests of the bourgeoisie were, for a very long time, the actual interests of the people. It is in this that the bourgeois founders of the American republic said fearlessly to the tyrant king “We the People”. Today when Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton speaks of “freedom” it is an empty catch-phrase to gain the popular support of the bourgeoisie, petty-bourgeoisie, and the upper strata of the proletariat. It means nothing in actuality. At every possible instance the modern ruling class has acted against the interests of liberty by attacking its only real prerequisite in the modern age: privacy.

Teresa May of the United Kingdom, where GCHQ already siphons and stores not just the metadata, but the content of the digital communications of every citizen, has called for the total ban of encryption altogether! She later quietly changed her mind when told banking would be made impossible without encryption, but the fact remains. If the modern bourgeoisie could, it would place cameras in every home, it would collect and store every digital communication, it would ban encryption and any technology that gives the individual any power above that of the state. Not in the name of totalitarianism, not as some evil plan, but in the name of “national security” and “safety”. Far from being enthusiastic about the new recent actualization of fundamental liberties, the modern bourgeoisie is horrified by the technologies that have now been invented that make freedom of speech, thought, and writing a possibility. Sadly still, most people are apathetic to the abuses of mass surveillance, and to the possibilities these new technologies offer for liberty as such.

The Cypherpunks of the 1980’s and 1990’s rightfully predicted the importance freedom of privacy has to a “free” society. The Cypherpunk Manifesto by Eric Hughes is short. I have included it in its entirety here:

“Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn’t want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn’t want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.

If two parties have some sort of dealings, then each has a memory of their interaction. Each party can speak about their own memory of this; how could anyone prevent it? One could pass laws against it, but the freedom of speech, even more than privacy, is fundamental to an open society; we seek not to restrict any speech at all. If many parties speak together in the same forum, each can speak to all the others and aggregate together knowledge about individuals and other parties. The power of electronic communications has enabled such group speech, and it will not go away merely because we might want it to.

Since we desire privacy, we must ensure that each party to a transaction have knowledge only of that which is directly necessary for that transaction. Since any information can be spoken of, we must ensure that we reveal as little as possible. In most cases personal identity is not salient. When I purchase a magazine at a store and hand cash to the clerk, there is no need to know who I am. When I ask my electronic mail provider to send and receive messages, my provider need not know to whom I am speaking or what I am saying or what others are saying to me; my provider only need know how to get the message there and how much I owe them in fees. When my identity is revealed by the underlying mechanism of the transaction, I have no privacy. I cannot here selectively reveal myself; I must always reveal myself.

Therefore, privacy in an open society requires anonymous transaction systems. Until now, cash has been the primary such system. An anonymous transaction system is not a secret transaction system. An anonymous system empowers individuals to reveal their identity when desired and only when desired; this is the essence of privacy.

Privacy in an open society also requires cryptography. If I say something, I want it heard only by those for whom I intend it. If the content of my speech is available to the world, I have no privacy. To encrypt is to indicate the desire for privacy, and to encrypt with weak cryptography is to indicate not too much desire for privacy. Furthermore, to reveal one’s identity with assurance when the default is anonymity requires the cryptographic signature.

We cannot expect governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations to grant us privacy out of their beneficence. It is to their advantage to speak of us, and we should expect that they will speak. To try to prevent their speech is to fight against the realities of information. Information does not just want to be free, it longs to be free. Information expands to fill the available storage space. Information is Rumor’s younger, stronger cousin; Information is fleeter of foot, has more eyes, knows more, and understands less than Rumor.

We must defend our own privacy if we expect to have any. We must come together and create systems which allow anonymous transactions to take place. People have been defending their own privacy for centuries with whispers, darkness, envelopes, closed doors, secret handshakes, and couriers. The technologies of the past did not allow for strong privacy, but electronic technologies do.

We the Cypherpunks are dedicated to building anonymous systems. We are defending our privacy with cryptography, with anonymous mail forwarding systems, with digital signatures, and with electronic money.

Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can’t get privacy unless we all do, we’re going to write it. We publish our code so that our fellow Cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don’t much care if you don’t approve of the software we write. We know that software can’t be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can’t be shut down.

Cypherpunks deplore regulations on cryptography, for encryption is fundamentally a private act. The act of encryption, in fact, removes information from the public realm. Even laws against cryptography reach only so far as a nation’s border and the arm of its violence. Cryptography will ineluctably spread over the whole globe, and with it the anonymous transactions systems that it makes possible.

For privacy to be widespread it must be part of a social contract. People must come and together deploy these systems for the common good. Privacy only extends so far as the cooperation of one’s fellows in society. We the Cypherpunks seek your questions and your concerns and hope we may engage you so that we do not deceive ourselves. We will not, however, be moved out of our course because some may disagree with our goals.

The Cypherpunks are actively engaged in making the networks safer for privacy. Let us proceed together apace.

Onward.”

The technologies Hughes speaks of here, are the very same technologies spoken of by Adams to Jefferson. They are the very same technologies that the modern bourgeoisie opposes in every instance. The US funds the Tor project only because it serves its interests abroad by helping political dissidents in China, Russia, Turkey, and Iran speak out against an invasive government. But when the people use these tools against the invasions and abuses of our government, it tries to stop them. It detains Tor’s developers and spokespersons when they try to travel. It approaches developers of key technologies and services all over the board and subpoena’s them to place a backdoor in their software, and to hand over their records as a matter of “national security”. The NSA motto is the same as the Stasi’s: “Collect everything”, “Know everything”.

In addition to the class struggle on the streets, with its many signs of protest, another struggle is taking place all around us. The defenders of liberty in the modern age take to the keyboard and write software that realizes the freedoms Adams spoke of, they build software that makes freedom of speech, writing, and thought a reality. They give the individual with all their faults, supreme power over the state with cryptography: mathematical algorithms that not even the most determined state or three letter agency can solve. They continuously update and perfect software designed to anonymize and secure communications between individuals and organizations. They work to free information from the fetters of “intellectual copyrights” and to free individuals from data-capitalism and intrusive state surveillance at the same time. In small niche’s of digital communities, a heroic people of varying religious, political, social, national, and ethnic backgrounds are fighting with persistence and heroism for the preservation of liberty, and privacy. Their names are not known to us but in small corners of the internet. Many contribute without ever revealing their true identity. These are the real heroes of the modern age.

But those who do not regard these heroic acts and vital technologies with apathy, often view them with disdain. Like any freedom, there are those who abuse it. But a person who utilizes freedom of movement to strangle his neighbor does not merely use his freedom, he abuses it. In having the freedom to go where one wishes, there are inevitably casualties. But everytime someone strangles his neighbor, the enemies of liberty do not pop up to advocate the abolition of freedom of movement. In the digital world, by some strange alchemy, it is different. If someone uses Tor to create a marketplace where one can easily find unregistered firearms, we naturally condemn that person as far as morality is concerned. But the enemies of liberty go further. An abuse of the right to privacy in their mind necessitates the abolition of the right itself. Surely people wouldn’t sell guns over the internet if they had no right to privacy, but so too would a person never kidnap anyone if the police routinely barged into peoples homes without even the mere suspicion of a crime. Crime would be abolished overnight in a police state. But the question here is neither safety nor crime, it is one of liberty.

Those who do not regard these heroic technologies with apathy, all to often view them with the narrow lens of self-interest alone. A college student might use Tor to buy weed online instead of meeting a shady drug dealer. While I cannot condemn this act in particular as far as morality is concerned, one has to admit that the darknet is far too often used for criminal activities, many of which are far worse than buying the occasional gram.

Finally there are those who regard these heroic technologies as supremely benevolent. Those in authoritarian countries are extremely offended by the Western use of the term “Darknet”. For them it is the only place where they can speak freely, organize, and air grievances without fear of persecution. When one goes to ZeroTalk (a default site when one installs Zeronet), one will find a large amount of Chinese comments. What does one find when one translates these comments? They find that the Chinese people openly talk about the Tienanmen Square massacres without fear. People who were part of the protests speak out. They keenly re-post news articles from the West and discuss them with great interest. They talk about the tyranny the people suffer under the yoke of the Stalinist Communist Party. In other authoritarian countries, we find the same thing.

By design, these networks are resilient to censorship. Even when some form of speech is horrible or causes real world harm, information itself and the tools used to exchange it are morally neutral. The abundance of criminality on the darknet is a result only of the irrational comfort a people feel in a surveillance state that at any time could turn into a police state. They are convinced that such a thing “would never happen here”. But so said the people of Germany and countless other “free” nations before degenerating into totalitarianism. Free society is dying and we are fighting on the loosing side. But in this fight we will never surrender. And in the end when all is said and done, we just might win. The bourgeois politicians clamor on about “freedom” but at every instance they condemn the only prerequisite to civil liberty in the modern age: privacy. “National security” is not the same thing as public safety nor is the national interest the public interest. National security is and always will be, in a bourgeois republic, the security of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

When one buys a computer, they are by default forced into using proprietary software which limits the users freedom and invades their right to privacy. When you use a modern phone or computer, it is 99% of the time, defective by design. It comes with a proprietary operating system that spies on you. You use a search engine which sells your search history to advertisers and governments. As of 2017 your internet service provider in the United States can sell your internet history without your consent. When you connect to the internet without using a VPN or Tor, you are merely giving everything you do to an institution with almost unlimited power, that operates with virtually no oversight. When you do so, your information is being stored in massive state-owned data centers. Where in 5 or 10 years, the state can hypothetically blackmail or threaten you if and when you become “interesting”.

Those who do not oppose mass surveillance, consent to mass surveillance. Here there is no middle ground. For now real privacy is not a pipe-dream. It is realized by those who seek to find it. Right now, anyone in a western liberal democracy can use encryption tools, and with these tools you can circumvent mass surveillance and data-capitalism. You as an individual still have the freedom to say “I do not consent.”

By default, though, this freedom is illusory. By default you are forced to consent to mass surveillance, for wherever you, the average consumer turns, you will find only technologies, services, and computers that are privacy invasive. But those who seek out such tools will find them. And in finding them, the individual will find that in spite of the many complexities of the modern world, that they can exercise supreme power over the powers that be. They will find that far from being an inconvenience, they will be able to say and do whatever they like without fear of being watched and spied on.

Soon they will find the invasions of the modern world- mass surveillance and data capitalism, are intolerable. When they connect to the internet without using a VPN or Tor, they feel as a person changing feels in front of an open window at night. Suddenly the indifference and apathy they once felt, and were conditioned to feel by the modern world, peels away and they are at once horrified by those who still use privacy invasive technologies without thinking twice, and by those who oppose privacy respecting tools out of concerns for “national security”.

Many unintentionally quote Joseph Goebbels when they say, “If I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to fear”. Yet the same person closes their window blinds at night, and locks the door when they use the bathroom. The same person whispers when they speak of something private to a friend. Such a person may have “nothing to hide” but they certainly have nearly everything to protect.

Snowden hit the nail on the head when he said:

“Technology can actually increase privacy. The question is: why are our private details that are transmitted online, why are private details that are stored on our personal devices, any different than the details and private records of our lives that are stored in our private journals? I think, you know, saying that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say. It’s a deeply anti-social principal because rights are not just individual – they’re collective. What may not have value to you today, may have value to an entire, you know, population, entire people, an entire way of life tomorrow. And if you don’t stand up for it, then who will?”

Such people expect people like us who use these tools to justify the use of our rights. But on the contrary, we do not have to defend our right to privacy. It is the government which has to defend any invasion of our right to privacy. And in the modern age of mass surveillance, where everyone is being spied on by default, it cannot do so. So I will not consent, nor will I ever consent. To defend privacy in the age of mass surveillance is to defend the very existence of liberty.

But more than that, I call on everyone reading this to refuse to consent also. Included on my blog (clearnet) is a mirror of PrivacyTools.io titled “Privacy Tools for Activists” which every person without exception should take advantage of. In my post “Why Every Activist Should Use a VPN/Tor” I elaborate further on this position. I Invite you, as an individual, to use a VPN, to install Tor, to install I2P, and to try out a Linux based operating system. I invite you to put tape over the cameras on your phone and computer. I invite you to use DuckDuckGo instead of Google. I invite you to encrypt every aspect of your digital life without exception and I invite everyone to do the same. In this fight for privacy only one side can win: the people who value their freedom, or the enemies of liberty. Edward Snowden made his choice. Now it is time to make yours.

What Makes Stalinist State Terror Different From Leninism and Jacobinism?

June 2, 2018

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.

The Dictatorship of The Proletariat and America Today

May 31, 2018

What do the Libertarian Marxists want?

The most pompous and misinformed servants of the existing order cry that because we are Marxists, even “Libertarian Marxists”, that we want to instill upon America the same despotism that reigned in East Germany, in Romania, in the Soviet Union, the same tyranny that reigns in China and North Korea today. “They want a dictatorship! They want to overthrow our democracy and create a dictatorship of the proletariat!” so our misinformed worker/ proletarian cries.

We certainly do want to bring about the dictatorship of the proletariat. But what even is “the proletariat”? The proletariat is really just another word for the working class. But in America the “working class” typically refers to the most impoverished subsection of the proletariat. A proletarian is anyone who lives off their own labor, is anyone who receives a wage or a salary. In popular terms, the “proletariat” refers to the 99%.

Our hypothetical critic (who no doubt exists) is horrified by the word “dictatorship”. But such a person has not the faintest knowledge of the class nature of our capitalist/ bourgeois society, or of the role social classes have played throughout human history generally.

The word “bourgeois” or “bourgeoisie” refers to the capitalist class, who does not derive its income from its own work, but rather lives off the labor of the proletariat, or the working class. The bourgeoisie is the ruling class in capitalist society, the class that owns the “means of production”, the factories, enterprises, and implements used by the workers to create all the wealth in our society. This is what is meant by the term “private property”.

Our most ancient knowledge of democracy in practice stems from where? The Greek city slave states. The first real exercise of democracy in practice, while an enormous step forward, was nonetheless an expression of a democracy and a dictatorship at the same time. No democracy in all of human history has ceased to be a class dictatorship in one form or another.

In Ancient Greece the only people allowed to vote and run for office, the only people with any real power or influence, were members of the ruling social class that owned the instruments of production– the slave-owners. Ancient Greek democracy, according to the Marxist interpretation of history, was a dictatorship of the slave-owning class by means of democracy. After those thousand or so years of feudalism, in which democracy was once again proclaimed by the nobility and feudal lords (the ruling class of feudalism) to be “against human nature” and something that “if tried always fails and reverts back to the God-ordained order of the monarchy”, democracy once again emerged supreme.

The early French and American revolutions only solidified the political and economic rule of the emerging bourgeoisie or capitalist class. The newly declared capitalist/ bourgeois republics did this by abolishing feudalism and toppling the monarchy, they then took control of society not in the name of its own class, but in the name of the whole of society. At once, it identified its own class interests with those of the people as a whole.

But history is not a straight line, progress is the trend, but not the rule. In France, for instance, the first French republic was overthrown and the monarchy was restored. The economic rule of the capitalist class, however, remained unchallenged. In America too the first real expression of bourgeois/ capitalist state power failed miserably and the Articles of Confederation were graduated into the dustbin of history. It was, nonetheless, a heroic attempt to establish a bourgeois republic.

The class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie historically becomes self-evident when looks at how the electoral process works. The bourgeois/ capitalist Founding Fathers of America, who were though well intentioned, the top 1% of the 1%, wanted to establish a system that, while serving the interests of the whole people and maintaining liberty, represented exclusively the minority bourgeois/ capitalist class to the exclusion of the majority proletariat/ working class, slave, and the agrarian petty-bourgeois classes. So it was said in the constitutional convention of Philadelphia by John Jay, “Those who own the country (the bourgeoisie) ought to control it”. The right to vote was restricted not only to the male sex, but to the minority subsection of the male sex that owned the means of production in one form or another (private, not personal property). No matter how benevolent and in the actual interests of the whole people this republic was, it was still a dictatorship of the bourgeois/ capitalist class minority to the exclusion of the majority. A bourgeois/ capitalist republic, no matter how open a society it creates, still represents a class dictatorship of the minority to the exclusion of the majority.

But, naturally, we must take into account the countless proletarian/ working class social movements from below that did away with the formal bourgeois/ capitalist restriction on electoral politics, that abolished slavery and gave the black man the right to vote and be elected, that gave women the right to vote and be elected, that opened the way for a democracy of “the whole people”. The natural development of our bourgeois/ capitalist democracy is a people unconsciously longing to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat, a democracy of the majority in practice and not merely on paper.

A proletarian today is not merely the “industrial factory worker of the 19th century”, but according to the Marxist analysis of society, is anyone who earns a salary or a wage, is anyone who works and does not live off the labor of others. This is why we refer to the Marxian “working class” as the proletariat, because “working class” refers to the lowest strata of the proletariat in American society. Certainly, then, the proletariat constitutes the overwhelming majority of society. The expression “the 99%” and “the proletariat” are in actuality, the same thing.

In spite of these formal declarations of a democracy “of the whole people”, we nonetheless find that those who hold positions of power in electoral politics are members of the bourgeois class, are capitalists, or rich men and women. We find that the two parties in this country are thoroughly bourgeois/ capitalist in nature. We find that candidates running for office only become successful through the corporate funding and financing of bourgeois/ capitalist institutions. To receive money from wall street is the only way to get elected to a high office in this country, with the small exception of people like Bernie Sanders and Kshama Sawant who had massive grass-roots social movements behind them.

Let us look at how corporations fund candidates. The workers in any industry or enterprise, produce all the wealth “made” by that enterprise (minus initial investments on the part of the capitalist). An individual worker, let’s call him Karl, produces 40$ an hour on average. Karl earns a salary that is the equivalent of about 10$ an hour. “But wait! What happens to the other 30$ that Karl makes?” you might ask. The answer is simple. To keep the business running, naturally 2$ or so needs to go to keeping the lights on and paying the bills, and another 3$ or so needs to go towards buying more raw materials needed in the production process. But that still leaves another $25 that Karl is making but not getting. Where does this go? Well Karl, working in a capitalist enterprise or corporation, has bosses, not merely the managers he “sees” everyday but the ones he doesn’t see, the ones who may have never even been to the place Karl works. Those bosses happen to be the ones who own the building Karl works at, who own the tools Karl uses to make whatever it is he makes. In other words, they own the means of production.

These bosses aren’t elected by people like Karl, Karl has no say in how the business (in which he spends over half of his life) operates, nor is he represented by them. Instead the board of directors at the top is elected by share-holders, where one share is equal to one vote. Naturally, the top 1% owns over 50% of all the stocks on the market, so naturally it is they who are being represented more than anyone else. The board of directors can do whatever it likes, if it wants to, it can decide not to pay any dividends to the share-holders at all (though this would probably be a bad idea and isn’t all too common). The board of directors, naturally, has to pay taxes to the government. Assuming there aren’t any Islands in the Caribbean where they can funnel their funds, let us assume that this business does, in fact, pay taxes. 5$, we will say, goes to taxes. From the $20 left, the board decides it will invest 5$ into the further expansion of the business. The bigger the company is, the more there is to make. But they realize that Karl is making 10$ an hour in America, and that workers in Mexico or China only are paid 3$ an hour. So that 5$ goes to the construction of a plant in Mexico or China, a plant that will eventually take Karl’s job. Karl has no say in this, in fact he doesn’t even know it’s going to happen. He will simply show up for work one day only to find he no longer has a job.

But then there is still 15$ Karl makes but does not receive. What happens to this? Well the board of directors and CEO feels they have been working very hard and deserve a raise, already they are taking 3$ of Karl’s labor every hour (all to go into the pockets of 10-15 people) but that is not enough, so they decide to give themselves a raise in celebration of the increased profit margins they will get out of foreign labor, say, an additional 2$ from Karl’s labor (which adds up to a whole lot, that’s 5$ from every working employee at the company per hour on average). They have 10$ left, and decide that they should pay dividends, so they give 1$ away to the share holders to encourage further investment. So what do they do with the remaining 9$? Well the workers have managers and clerks who do the paperwork and make sure the workers are actually working, so for the managers, 5$ from the remaining 9$ is taken. When that 5$ is taken from the average $40 or so every worker makes, the managers end up making significantly more than Karl.

But then of course there is the (albeit unlikely) danger that the workers will realize what a scam this all is in the future. The capitalists at the top want to ensure this system of exploitation (making lots of money without really working very hard) continues. But there is still 4$ left. Where does this go? The board of directors decides they want to fund a candidate who is running for office, a candidate that, being pro-capitalist, will look after their interests and ensure the cycle of exploitation continues unfettered (they may call it innovation of course). If the workers are seriously disgruntled, they can fund a democrat who will give the workers small enough concessions to keep everything running smoothly for the people on top. If they want, they can fund a candidate who will blame everyone but themselves (who are in actuality responsible) for all the jobs that are going overseas, someone who will blame the individual Mexican and Chinese workers instead of the people making the decisions. This is all very good for the capitalists/ bourgeois class.

In a nutshell, Karl says he “makes 10$ an hour”. In Karl’s mind, this is a “fair wage”. But Karl doesn’t think about the fact that he is in fact producing an average of $40 an hour because he never sees those numbers. Out of the 40$ made in one hour, 10$ is going to Karl (who made the entire $40), $5 goes to “necessary expenditures” paying the bills, buying more raw materials, another 5$ goes into investing further into the business (by exporting Karl’s job abroad), and another 5$ goes towards paying taxes, and another 5$ goes to the salaries of the clerks and managers. $10, though, is left over for the capitalists at the top to do with as they will. It should come as no surprise that they decide to make $5 an hour off of every $40 Karl produces (the equivalent of half of Karl’s wage), and that this “$5” is in fact exponentially greater than $5 alone because they make $5 per hour, per employee who works for the company. 1$ of the $5 left goes to dividends, and the remaining 4$ goes towards a politician who will look after not Karl’s interests, but the interests of the people running the corporations who funded said candidate.

Just over half of the total amount of work Karl does is actually necessary to produce his wage (and pay the bills, get the raw materials, pay his managers salaries, and pay taxes). This is Karl’s socially necessary labor time, the minimum amount of time he has to work to start producing a profit for those who own the means of production. For the rest of the time he spends at work though, he is actually producing the extremely high salary his bosses at the very top make He is also making money for share-holders and producing the funds that will be poured into the political system, to fund candidates chosen by the board of directors. It doesn’t matter if Karl here is pro-choice, his bosses can use the money he directly produced to fund a pro-life candidate or vice versa. He has no say in the matter. This is capitalism in a nutshell.

When Karl is fired from his job and learns that his job was taken by someone in Mexico, he rallies behind a billionaire politician (who was, consequently, funded by his former bosses) who demonizes the workers in Mexico and those who are coming across the border illegally to “take our jobs”. It never occurs to Karl how corrupt this whole system really is. The idea of democracy in the workplace (socialism) certainly never crossed Karl’s mind. Socialism to Karl, means the dictatorship of a central committee, of a one party state. Socialism in Karl’s (Karl being fictitious and bearing no relation to Karl Marx) mind, is a system where “the state controls everything and there is no freedom”.

It doesn’t matter what pompous slogans of a “democracy of the whole people” the bourgeoisie/ capitalist class promotes. Yes, everyone can vote, but not everyone can or does pour money into ensuring a particular political candidate is heard. That privilege belongs almost exclusively to the bourgeois/ capitalist class, the big capitalists who own the means of production. The American political system in a nutshell, belongs to Wall Street.

No matter how “open” a bourgeois/ capitalist democracy is, those who hold office will consist overwhelmingly of those who either are capitalists, or those who represent the interests of the capitalist class to the exclusion of the proletarian majority. Lenin once said the ratio of capitalists to non-capitalists in such a republic was about “nine tenths” to one. But if we look at the socioeconomic makeup of the federal Government in America, we see that “nine tenths” is far too conservative an estimate.

Many people promote the idea of “going back” to a supposedly more democratic America, before Wall Street “corrupted” American democracy. But such a thing never existed. The dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the relationship between wall street and American politics has always been there. Yes, America is an astoundingly free country, and all of human civilization should aspire to have such negative liberty as we Americans enjoy, but we have reached an impasse beyond which point America can only become a freer and more democratic nation by ousting the political and economic rule of the bourgeois/ capitalist class, by divorcing money from politics and abolishing the capitalist system. This can only be done by the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and with it, direct democracy at the local level.

To our misinformed critic who accuses us of wanting to abolish our bourgeois/ capitalist “democracy” and replace it with the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, we plead guilty. But in place of our bourgeois/ capitalist democracy we do not want a “dictatorship” of one party or of a small group of politicians as we saw under Stalinism in the 20th century. That is not the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois/ capitalist sense of the word, in the sense of the Jacobin’s.

America, though a democracy, is a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie/ capitalist class because its democratic institutions are dominated almost exclusively by the bourgeois/ capitalist class, a class that is the 1%, or the extreme minority. When we say we want the “dictatorship of the proletariat” we mean that we want our political institutions to represent the majority, the 99% or proletarian class, and not the wealthy minority. Such a system can but only be a democracy so “open” and “free” that it would make modern America look like an authoritarian nation. We do not want to abolish freedom of the press as some accuse us. We are not Stalinists, we recognize that the political rule of the masses is impossible without an absolutely free and unfettered press. But we go further, as Rosa Luxemburg said,

“Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when “freedom” becomes a special privilege…

Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously – at bottom, then, a clique affair – a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois/ capitalist sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins! Yes, we can go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc.”

Rosa here foreshadows the Stalinist despotism that would rule in Europe for nearly a century, but in the same sentence she also dismisses any notion of such a tyranny being by any interpretation a “dictatorship of the proletariat” as many liberals and Stalinists claim today. The dictatorship of the proletariat means exorcising from our current flawed notions of “democracy” its domination by wall street, big business, and the bourgeois/ capitalist class generally. It means a political system “of the people, by the people, and for the people” in actuality and not merely on paper. Not of the bourgeoisie in the name of the people, but of the people themselves. We believe that political democracy without industrial democracy (socialism) amounts to virtual oligarchy in practice.

Some claim we are “totalitarians” because we say we are communists. But such a flawed understanding of the word “communism” negates entirely the entire school of socialist thought. By those standards, anarcho-communists too, are “totalitarians” because they too say they are communists. By such an absurd definition, we could call them “radically anti-authoritarian-totalitarians”. Such a contradiction in terms alone would make the entire broad school of anarcho-communist thought invalid. But communism means the establishment of a classless, moneyless, stateless society. We believe that with the expansion of industrial and scientific achievements, coupled with industrial and political democracy, such a state of being is inevitable. Unlike the Stalinists, we are vehemently opposed to the totalitarian pursuit of a socialist or communist society. Such a pursuit is, in and of itself, anti-Marxist. Communism has nothing to do with totalitarianism, it is the method of pursuing such a society, that can be either totalitarian or radically anti-authoritarian in nature. This goes for capitalism too.

The Jacobins were totalitarian capitalists, but no one today claims that “to be a capitalist means you must be a totalitarian”. Such notions are dismissed by the clearly non-totalitarian paths many nations took to establish a capitalist political and economic system. The only reason they say such things about communism is because the only notable historical expression of the attempt to realize such a society in the public’s mind, has thus far has been totalitarian in nature. We are as horrified by such systems as anyone else. If anything, the current state of affairs in America today is far more authoritarian than any political system we seek to bring about. We, for instance, view mass surveillance programs as indefensible in any society, and believe they should be done away with entirely. The broad consensus of the masses is that individual liberty is precious and should be protected at all costs, that state power is a threat to civil liberty and should be limited, that we should expand the rights we have now to include education, health-care, housing, etc. This is what the socialists want.

As Rosa Luxemburg said, “The proletarian revolution requires no terror for its aims; it hates and despises killing. It does not need these weapons because it does not combat individuals but institutions, because it does not enter the arena with naive illusions whose disappointment it would seek to revenge. It is not the desperate attempt of a minority to mold the world forcibly according to its ideal, but the action of the great massive millions of the people, destined to fulfill a historic mission and to transform historical necessity into reality.”

The dictatorship of the proletariat in America will not come as the result of some armed violent insurrection by a small party of intellectuals. On the contrary, it will come as a result of the conscious actions of tens of millions of people who want a freer, more equal and just world. It will not be something opposed to the popular will of the people, but something that is fully in line with the will of the overwhelming majority, and something that can only come about by the popular will of the people themselves. It will not declare itself militantly atheistic, but something compatible with all religious faiths.

As Leon Trotsky said, “Should America go communist as a result of the difficulties and problems that your capitalist social order is unable to solve, it will discover that communism, far from being an intolerable bureaucratic tyranny and individual regimentation, will be the means of greater individual liberty and shared abundance.

At present most Americans regard communism solely in the light of the experience of the Soviet Union. They fear lest Sovietism in America would produce the same material result as it has brought for the culturally backward peoples of the Soviet Union… Actually American soviets will be as different from the Russian soviets as the United States of President Roosevelt differs from the Russian Empire of Czar Nicholas II… Who else will fight against communism? Your corporal’s guard of billionaires and multimillionaires? Your Mellons, Morgans, Fords and Rockefellers? They will cease struggling as soon as they fail to find other people to fight for them.”

We are not utopians who claim the path to such a society lies as a ready-made formula in the book of some political party. On the contrary, it can come about only through the open and free democratic process itself. The arguments against industrial democracy (socialism) by the bourgeois/ capitalist class today are no different from the arguments against political democracy made by the feudal nobility in the middle ages. They too will be graduated into the dustbin of history. As Rosa Luxemburg said,

“The modern proletarian class does not carry out its struggle according to a plan set out in some book or theory; the modern workers’ struggle is a part of history, a part of social progress, and in the middle of history, in the middle of progress, in the middle of the fight, we learn how we must fight… That’s exactly what is laudable about it, that’s exactly why this colossal piece of culture, within the modern workers’ movement, is epoch-defining: that the great masses of the working people first forge from their own consciousness, from their own belief, and even from their own understanding the weapons of their own liberation.”

The dictatorship of the proletariat is against the political rule of a “central committee”, which almost always constitutes itself as the “only thinking element” within a political party. As Rosa also correctly said,

“The nimble acrobat fails to perceive that the only ‘subject’ which merits today the role of director is the collective ‘ego’ of the working class. The working class demands the right to make its mistakes and learn the dialectic of history.

Let us speak plainly. Historically, the errors committed by a truly revolutionary movement are infinitely more fruitful than the infallibility of the cleverest Central Committee.”

Our call is a call for the dictatorship of the proletariat is a call for the preservation of individual liberty in a world where privacy, the only real prerequisite to civil liberty in the digital age, is being eroded more and more, day by day, by an increasingly authoritarian far-right shift in global politics. We believe only the socialism can act to truly preserve the grand ideas of freedom, democracy, and equality. And more than that, we believe that only socialism can realize these grand ideas in actuality and not merely on paper. The cause of socialism is the cause of liberty. Such is the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Why Every Activist Should Use a VPN/Tor and Oppose Mass Surveillance

May 29, 2018

In terms of cyber-security, activists tend to be the most vulnerable to attack both in the sense of their likelihood to be targeted by governments and mass surveillance programs, and in regards to the notoriously weak cyber-security measures they as individuals, and as a community take. In 2017 when the Senate voted to make it legal for Internet Service Provider’s (ISPs) to sell your internet history to the highest bidder, a tech blog I follow called ‘The Tin Hat‘ (who I borrowed the above image from) made the claim that “Privacy in America now starts with a VPN”. Every activist should have a VPN and use Tor, and I will explain why below. And it is certainly true that a good VPN can restore the internet to what it once was, that it can give you the freedom to have reasonable security from entities hell-bent on violating your right to privacy. But the situation is far graver than just “privacy” alone. Mass surveillance is a cancer in the very heart of our “free society”.

“When people talk of the Freedom of Writing, Speaking, or thinking, I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more.” — John Adams Letter to Thomas Jefferson (15 July 1817).

This freedom existed briefly, I claim, shortly after the internet exploded in popularity. Children could talk in forums about Astronomy with experts in the field and no one knew or had any way of knowing who the other person was. People were free to say and think and research anything they wanted without fear of being watched or meticulously recorded. But then 9/11 happened and the NSA started watching everyone. Finding out about that destroyed the sanctity of the web, but the people have the right to know what their government is doing and Edward Snowden is a hero for what he did.

We had those freedoms once. I remember what the Internet was like before the NSA started spying on everyone and the government made it legal for ISP’s to sell your internet history to the highest bidder. As I said in my article “The Marxist case for Human Rights”, “In the digital age the right to privacy is also withering away more and more even (and especially) in the most “freedom loving” liberal democracies. But as Rosa Luxemburg correctly pointed out, “freedom is always the freedom of the dissenters… of the one who thinks differently”. Privacy in the digital age is the only real prerequisite to civil liberty. One is not truly free to dissent if one is being watched at every moment, (it is a well known and independently verifiable fact that people alter their behaviors when they are being watched, especially by authorities, and especially when these authorities retain everything a person said or thought or did indefinitely) and if one is being watched at every moment, one is not free at all. One doesn’t even have to wield this power to the fullest extent possible to destroy human liberty, its very existence is a terminal illness to every form of human freedom. In light of the horrendous abuses of power by NSA, GCHQ, and its accomplices, the Marxist left is bound by its principles to fight against mass surveillance, for the preservation of human freedom.” We are bound by our principles to fight against these abuses of power in the political realm, but it is also necessary to protect ourselves and our communities at the individual level as well.

Freedom and mass surveillance are incompatible, period. And activists, who dutifully express their right to dissent, are under extra scrutiny by mass surveillance programs. In East Germany, the purpose of the Stasi’s mass surveillance was not merely to “catch dissidents”. It’s primary purpose was psychological: to cause the people to self-censor out of fear of how a certain action or conversation might look to the authorities. In Czechoslovakia before the Prague Spring people had a “public opinion” which venerated the Stalinist government and a “private opinion” which often was opposed to it. We are not yet at that point, but more and more people are silencing themselves out of fear. “I wonder what this will look like to a government agent or employer in 5 or 10 years when I search for this or go to this website.” Surely all of us have decided not to search for something because of how it might look to big brother. For me I avoided researching the war in Iraq because I was afraid. A family member’s professor, I remembered, was interrogated by the FBI for doing research on the very same topic. People often joke about appearing on “the list”, as if it’s some trivial thing. Well us activists actually are on “the list” and some of us aren’t even doing the bare minimum to protect ourselves against the illegal mass surveillance programs targeting activists and activist organizations explicitly.

I came across a Reddit post awhile ago that laid out the dangers of mass surveillance that I think best lays out why one ought to be politically opposed to mass surveillance programs:

“I live in a country generally assumed to be a dictatorship. One of the Arab spring countries. I have lived through curfews and have seen the outcomes of the sort of surveillance now being revealed in the US. People here talking about curfews aren’t realizing what that actually FEELS like. It isn’t about having to go inside, and the practicality of that. It’s about creating the feeling that everyone, everything is watching. A few points:

1) the purpose of this surveillance from the governments point of view is to control enemies of the state. Not terrorists. People who are coalescing around ideas that would destabilize the status quo. These could be religious ideas. These could be groups like anon who are too good with tech for the governments liking. It makes it very easy to know who these people are. It also makes it very simple to control these people.

Lets say you are a college student and you get in with some people who want to stop farming practices that hurt animals. So you make a plan and go to protest these practices. You get there, and wow, the protest is huge. You never expected this, you were just goofing off. Well now everyone who was there is suspect. Even though you technically had the right to protest, you’re now considered a dangerous person.

With this tech in place, the government doesn’t have to put you in jail. They can do something more sinister. They can just email you a sexy picture you took with a girlfriend. Or they can email you a note saying that they can prove your dad is cheating on his taxes. Or they can threaten to get your dad fired. All you have to do, the email says, is help them catch your friends in the group. You have to report back every week, or you dad might lose his job. So you do. You turn in your friends and even though they try to keep meetings off grid, you’re reporting on them to protect your dad.

2) Let’s say number one goes on. The country is a weird place now. Really weird. Pretty soon, a movement springs up like occupy, except its bigger this time. People are really serious, and they are saying they want a government without this power. I guess people are realizing that it is a serious deal. You see on the news that tear gas was fired. Your friend calls you, frantic. They’re shooting people. Oh my god. you never signed up for this. You say, fuck it. My dad might lose his job but I won’t be responsible for anyone dying. That’s going too far. You refuse to report anymore. You just stop going to meetings. You stay at home, and try not to watch the news. Three days later, police come to your door and arrest you. They confiscate your computer and phones, and they beat you up a bit. No one can help you so they all just sit quietly. They know if they say anything they’re next. This happened in the country I live in. It is not a joke.

3) Its hard to say how long you were in there. What you saw was horrible. Most of the time, you only heard screams. People begging to be killed. Noises you’ve never heard before. You, you were lucky. You got kicked every day when they threw your moldy food at you, but no one shocked you. No one used sexual violence on you, at least that you remember. There were some times they gave you pills, and you can’t say for sure what happened then. To be honest, sometimes the pills were the best part of your day, because at least then you didn’t feel anything. You have scars on you from the way you were treated. You learn in prison that torture is now common. But everyone who uploads videos or pictures of this torture is labeled a leaker. Its considered a threat to national security. Pretty soon, a cut you got on your leg is looking really bad. You think it’s infected. There were no doctors in prison, and it was so overcrowded, who knows what got in the cut. You go to the doctor, but he refuses to see you. He knows if he does the government can see the records that he treated you. Even you calling his office prompts a visit from the local police.

You decide to go home and see your parents. Maybe they can help. This leg is getting really bad. You get to their house. They aren’t home. You can’t reach them no matter how hard you try. A neighbor pulls you aside, and he quickly tells you they were arrested three weeks ago and haven’t been seen since. You vaguely remember mentioning to them on the phone you were going to that protest. Even your little brother isn’t there.

4) Is this even really happening? You look at the news. Sports scores. Celebrity news. It’s like nothing is wrong. What the hell is going on? A stranger smirks at you reading the paper. You lose it. You shout at him “fuck you dude what are you laughing at can’t you see I’ve got a fucking wound on my leg?”

“Sorry,” he says. “I just didn’t know anyone read the news anymore.” There haven’t been any real journalists for months. They’re all in jail.

Everyone walking around is scared. They can’t talk to anyone else because they don’t know who is reporting for the government. Hell, at one time YOU were reporting for the government. Maybe they just want their kid to get through school. Maybe they want to keep their job. Maybe they’re sick and want to be able to visit the doctor. It’s always a simple reason. Good people always do bad things for simple reasons.

You want to protest. You want your family back. You need help for your leg. This is way beyond anything you ever wanted. It started because you just wanted to see fair treatment in farms. Now you’re basically considered a terrorist, and everyone around you might be reporting on you. You definitely can’t use a phone or email. You can’t get a job. You can’t even trust people face to face anymore. On every corner, there are people with guns. They are as scared as you are. They just don’t want to lose their jobs. They don’t want to be labeled as traitors.

This all happened in the country where I live.

You want to know why revolutions happen? Because little by little by little things get worse and worse. But this thing that is happening now is big. This is the key ingredient. This allows them to know everything they need to know to accomplish the above. The fact that they are doing it is proof that they are the sort of people who might use it in the way I described. In the country I live in, they also claimed it was for the safety of the people. Same in Soviet Russia. Same in East Germany. In fact, that is always the excuse that is used to surveil everyone. But it has never ONCE proven to be the reality.

Maybe Obama won’t do it. Maybe the next guy won’t, or the one after him. Maybe this story isn’t about you. Maybe it happens 10 or 20 years from now, when a big war is happening, or after another big attack. Maybe it’s about your daughter or your son. We just don’t know yet. But what we do know is that right now, in this moment we have a choice. Are we okay with this, or not? Do we want this power to exist, or not?

You know for me, the reason I’m upset is that I grew up in school saying the pledge of allegiance. I was taught that the United States meant “liberty and justice for all.” You get older, you learn that in this country we define that phrase based on the constitution. That’s what tells us what liberty is and what justice is. Well, the government just violated that ideal. So if they aren’t standing for liberty and justice anymore, what are they standing for? Safety?

Ask yourself a question. In the story I told above, does anyone sound safe?

I didn’t make anything up. These things happened to people I know. We used to think it couldn’t happen in America. But guess what? It’s starting to happen.

I actually get really upset when people say “I don’t have anything to hide. Let them read everything.” People saying that have no idea what they are bringing down on their own heads. They are naive, and we need to listen to people in other countries who are clearly telling us that this is a horrible horrible sign and it is time to stand up and say no.”

Every activist who values human freedom regardless of their political affiliations or tendencies has a duty to abuse these programs. They are grotesque abuses of power and constitute a mortal threat to any notion of a “free society”. We are one terrorist attack away from the “turn-key tyranny” Edward Snowden warned us about. If the United States becomes a dictatorship, or becomes unstable in any way, the socialists and dissenters will be the first to go. The threat of such a thing happening within the next 10-20 years has never been higher. But the fight against these programs on the political level is indispensable from the fight against these abuses of power on the individual level.

DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) came out last year recommending intermittent Tor usage for their members and fellow activists. But Tor alone, in my view, does not go nearly far enough.

Many socialists and activists today happily use digital tools critically vulnerable to mass surveillance without thinking twice. Even socialist organizations coordinate their actions exclusively through Google and Facebook with no backup for if –god forbid– things go wrong. If some awful terrorist attack happened and the increasingly far-right government took emergency measures to ensure its “political stability and national security”, the socialist left today would disappear with a whimper not a cry.

Even in our pre-1984 world, political repression against the socialist left is very real. Members of Occupy Wall-street were routinely harassed and surveilled by the FBI, leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement even got their doors kicked in when protests became “too big” of “violent” (as if somehow they were responsible for the rogue actions of a few individuals!). The Stalinist-Maoist FRSO (Freedom Road Socialist Organization) was successfully infiltrated by the FBI less than 10 years ago, and these activities are routine even in the post-cold war era. And unlike Maoism, the ideas of democratic socialism actually resonate with millions of Americans today. Socialism is coming back, and so too is the government repression of the socialist movement. Surely DSA and other democratic socialist organizations are seen as a much bigger “threat” to the status quo than a few cloak-and-dagger Maoists. A Trotskyist comrade I know claims he even found out that his wife, the woman he married, was an undercover FBI agent. A black activist was recently jailed by the FBI for the speaking out against police brutality on Facebook. You cannot make this stuff up.

In light of Snowden’s revelations, you would have to be an idiot to assume that this harassment and surveillance was limited to the physical world alone.

If you are an activist with any level of influence or popularity, you are being watched, your communications are being intercepted. And I don’t mean you are being watched in the same sense that everyone is, I mean the bulk data the government collects on you is subject to actual scrutiny by real people. Content, not just metadata. If you go to a protest the police can find out who you are simply by intercepting your cell phone signal with an IMSI catcher, something extremely common in urban areas, and from then on you are on a list.

Everyone, but especially activists, should take measures to avoid and obfuscate the governments illegal mass surveillance programs.

Here is a list of resources you can use to gain the information you need to protect yourself (Tor, I2P, and ZeroNet users should do a DuckDuckGo search of these resources):

Privacytools.io (mirrored on Thought Foundry Blog)

EFF’s Surveillance Self Defense Guide

EFF’s Surveillance Self Defense for Activists

EFF’s Guide for attending protests (US)

EFF’s Guide for attending protests (international)

Tor Project

Non-biased VPN reviews (ThatOnePrivacySite)

As a standard for individual activists, I personally would recommend the following:

You should use a good VPN, not a “free” VPN but a paid one. Non-biased VPN reviews can be found at ThatOnePrivacySite. You should keep your VPN on all the time, and test for DNS leaks, so as to ensure all internet traffic 24/7 coming to and from your phone or computer is encrypted. When you are researching political topics, you should use the Tor Browser to further encrypt your communications. You should be running Linux by default, even an easy-to-use Linux distribution like Ubuntu or Linux Mint. You should avoid OS X, and Windows 10 like the plague. Don’t store anything embarrassing or that can be used against you on iCloud or Google Drive. Remember when the FBI tried to get Martin Luther King Jr. to kill himself by threatening to release knowledge of his affair? Yeah, don’t let that happen to you. Your computer and phone should use a strong passphrse (not password) and everything without exception should be encrypted. Don’t message other activists using SMS of Facebook Chat, use Signal or another end-to-end encrypted messaging system. If you go to a protest, bring a burner or keep your phone turned OFF. And finally, tape your damn webcams. Do it on your laptop, your phone, everything. You may think this is “paranoid”, but the reality is, you are being watched, and you are extremely vulnerable if you do not do even the bare minimum to protect yourself.

As a standard for socialist and activist organizations, I personally recommend the following:

Communications within an organization should be end-to-end encrypted by default. Emails should use PGP encryption as the standard. Websites for socialist organizations should use HTTPS encryption and ideally be mirrored on the Tor network. Facebook may be crucial to organizing protests and other events, but individual members of socialist organizations should use mediums of communication that are much more difficult for the government to intercept.

Now many people will probably try to defend these programs and claim “I have nothing to hide”! But you know, it was confirmed by the white house that mass surveillance programs haven’t stopped a single terrorist attack since their inception. Also the quote “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” was popularized by Joseph Goebbels, you know, the propaganda minister of Nazi Germany. I hope I have laid out why privacy in the digital age is the only real prerequisite to civil liberty today, that it isn’t a matter of having something to “hide” (i.e. wrongdoing) but a matter of having everything to protect. Freedom is always and exclusively the freedom of dissent! If this doesn’t convince you still, let me resort to the spirit of the law, as much as I hate legal formalism. Here is the fourth amendment, that by some alchemy “doesn’t apply” to the digital world- so say the enemies of liberty within our own government:

Amendment IV

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Also Article 12 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights echo’s this proclamation:

“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

As Benjamin Franklin correctly said, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty, to purchase a little Temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”. We would be much “safer” if the police could search anyone at any time without reason, and surely crime would go down exponentially. This is the philosophy NSA uses to justify it’s illegal and immoral mass surveillance programs. But the point of liberty is to protect the people from the very threat the state poses to the people. The point of liberty is freedom, not “safety” or “security”. And as activists who face a much grander threat to our liberty than ordinary people, we can, should, and must defend ourselves from these malevolent intrusions and abuses of power.

Using Mao’s own Quotes Against Him

May 29, 2018

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.

Historical Justice For The Crimes of a People’s Ancestors. To What Degree it Justice?

May 26, 2018

It is fun to joke about a Native American president deporting all Caucasians back to Europe, and this would be a form of ‘total historical justice’ for the Native American people, but are a people innately responsible for the crimes of their ancestors? No, but they are responsible for whatever injustice the present generation imposes onto a people. Every year that goes by after an occupation, the morality of restoring the old society in full grows increasingly grey as new generations emerge. But this grayness does not in the least give a people the right to continually oppress or exploit the deposed peoples. No, they have no such right.


Take for instance the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The initial act of “taking back” Israel was a criminal and unjust act, even if it was in response to another injustice (the holocaust). Most of Israel is not responsible for this. But the present generation of Israel mercilessly oppresses the Palestinian people, continues to steal the land that belongs to the Palestinian people, and wages a war against a people that borders on genocide. In this, all of Israel is guilty of crimes against humanity. Those who stand by and do nothing are guilty. Neutrality always is on the side of the oppressor.


The solution is not, however, the ousting of the present generation of Israel. Nor is the solution to the oppression of the indigenous peoples of America the “ousting” of all Caucasians to Europe. Israel and Palestine should be restored to the pre-1967 borders by force of arms if necessary. Those who advocate total seizure of the land by one group of another are morally bankrupt in either case, regardless of historical injustices. The Native American people today suffer horrendous injustices even if on a lesser scale than the Palestinian people. But nonetheless it is our fault if we do not help them, if we do not do what we can to restore the dignity and self-determination they have lost due to the crimes of our ancestors.


Force, naturally, is the only option to restore order to a people who have been brainwashed to hate one another, justly or unjustly, with good reason or without. Due to such a situation, the “right to national self-determination” of Israel has no moral grounds to exist, nor would it for America if we treated our natives as horribly as Israel treats the Palestinians. Historical justice is not necessarily justice proper, when total for one party, it is in nearly every instance a form of injustice against a people whose only crime was being caught in the cross-fire.



“Turn To Him The Other Cheek Also” An Essay on Liberation Theology

May 23, 2018

We are all familiar with the following Bible verse about turning the other cheek:

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on one cheek, let him hit the other one too; if someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well. Give to everyone who asks you for something, and when someone takes what is yours, do not ask for it back. Do for others just what you want them to do for you.” -Luke 6:27-31 

On the individual level, this humility and selflessness is admirable. But according to the political line of the early Bolshevik party, as espoused by Bukharin in The ABCs of Communism, 

“…the Christian code runs: ‘Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.’ In most cases there is an irreconcilable conflict between the principles of communist tactics and the commandments of religion. A communist who rejects the commandments of religion and acts in accordance with the directions of the party, ceases to be one of the faithful. On the other hand, one who, while calling himself a communist, continues to cling to his religious faith, one who in the name of religious commandments infringes the prescriptions of the party, ceases thereby to be a communist.”

But Bukharin, and any other socialist or Marxist who defends this ultra-leftist semi-feudal attitude towards religion, fails to understand the underlying philosophy and basic principles of the Christian faith. Christianity in no way supports “turning the other cheek” to systematic forms of oppression and exploitation with no underlying socioeconomic justification of their social existence.

It can be said that the attitude Christianity takes towards this question is as follows, “If you oppress me or strike me as an individual, I shall turn the other cheek. But if you oppress or strike my neighbor, my brother, or my sister, and do so on a systematic basis, then I will not hesitate to deliver them from the yoke of oppression you have forced upon them”.

This is a principle that is fully in line with the basic tenets of the Christian faith:

This is what the LORD says: “Uphold justice and righteousness. Deliver from their oppressor those who have been robbed. Don’t mistreat or do violence to the alien, the orphan, or the widow, or shed the blood of innocent people in this place.”

-Jeremiah 22:3

Taking into context the historical materialist view on human history, it is no surprise that the Bolsheviks took a hostile attitude towards religion and the church, especially given the backward state of the Russian Empire. The ruling class of each age uses religion, as it uses every other instrument available in the existing superstructure of society, to legitimize its social rule and existence as a class regardless of the actual principles of a religious faith which often are directly opposed to the ‘ethics’ and ideas of the ruling class. But the Bolsheviks did not oppose religion on this basis, on the basis of the Russian Orthodox Church’s reverence of the Tsar as holy, of its antisemitism, of its persecution of protestants and atheists alike, of its semi-feudal and bourgeois character. On the contrary, it opposed religion as such, as a matter of principle. This was one of the most tragic mistakes of the Bolshevik party, a mistake I have elaborated on ceaselessly before.

Take for instance the sign of the cross. What is the cross? In ancient times the cross was not a religious symbol at all, on the contrary, it was a symbol of the political repression and state terror of the Roman Empire. It is easy to forget this fact after 20 odd millenniums of human social development, but the adaptation of the symbol of the cross by the adherents to the Christian faith was the radical transformation of a weapon of the oppressor into the weapon of the oppressed. This is precisely what Liberation Theology and Christian Communism attempts to do today. It takes Christianity, which has been converted by the bourgeoisie into a tool to justify its own existence and oppression of the poor, and it converts it into a weapon of the oppressed to be used against the oppressor. Not only does it do that, but it abolishes the ruling class character of Christianity which has been used to distort the principles of Christianity and  justify oppressive social systems for nearly 2000 years. It brings Christianity back to its roots, which are undeniably communistic in nature.

According to Rosa Luxemburg, in her pamphlet Socialism and the Churches (a pamphlet I recommend anyone interested in this topic to check out),

The Social-Democrats want to bring about the state of ‘communism’; that is chiefly what the clergy have against them. First of all, it is striking to notice that the priests of today who fight against ‘Communism’ condemn in reality first Christian Apostles. For these latter were nothing else than ardent communists…”

After going into great detail as to the specifics of the communistic nature of the early Christians and the Christian faith, she reiterates her attack on bourgeois Christianity, an attack we can say is still valid against the mainstream, conservative Christianity of today,

But it is in vain that you put yourselves about, you degenerate servants of Christianity who have become the servants of Nero. It is in vain that you help our murderers and our killers, in vain that you protect the exploiters of the proletariat under the sign of the cross. Your cruelties and your calumnies in former times could not prevent the victory of the Christian idea, the idea which you have sacrificed to the Golden Calf; today your efforts will raise no obstacle to the coming of Socialism. Today it is you, in your lies and your teachings, who are pagans, and it is we who bring to the poor, to the exploited the tidings of fraternity and equality. It is we who are marching to the conquest of the world as he did formerly who proclaimed that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

She finishes by stressing, directly in opposition to the ultra-leftist, semi-feudal attitude of the Bolsheviks, the compatibility between religion and socialism saying,

And here is the answer to all the attacks of the clergy: the Social-Democracy in no way fights against religious beliefs. On the contrary, it demands complete freedom of conscience for every individual and the widest possible toleration for every faith and every opinion. But, from the moment when the priests use the pulpit as a means of political struggle against the working classes, the workers must fight against the enemies of their rights and their liberation. For he who defends the exploiters and who helps to prolong this present regime of misery, he is the mortal enemy of the proletariat, whether he be in a cassock or in the uniform of the police.”

Christianity teaches love, humility, forgiveness, mercy and justice at the same time. These principles are not hypocritical to one another, but rather they express themselves dialectically in the living action of the holy spirit as embodied in the believers of Christianity and its teachings. The philosophy this embodies best is not a Kantian resistance to all forms of liberation struggles on the grounds of universal standpoint of morality as many on the right-wing claim, but rather an adherence to taking whatever path causes the least possible social harm to others. On an individual level, it would be harmful and morally indefensible to lash out violently against someone because a wrong or form of oppression they caused you. This is what turning the other cheek means. Many ultra-leftists fail to understand this principle. They sink into degeneracy and moral cowardice, they abandon the basic ethics of socialism and Christianity alike when they enthusiastically celebrate the death or killing of a police officer or a capitalist or a landlord- as if the crimes of an entire social class manifest themselves entirely into a single individual, a product of the world they were born into, who probably never questioned the fundamental superstructure of society at all! Such despicable “celebratory remarks” are innately anti-socialist in character.

It is on the social basis alone that socialism wages the class struggle, that the ethics of Christianity wholeheartedly support. It seeks, yes, first and foremost to liberate the poor and oppressed, but its goal is the liberation of the whole of humanity without exception. It seeks to make life better for all and not merely for the oppressed. It does this for the former oppressor on a spiritual level, if not a material one. By abolishing the antagonism of social classes, socialism reconciles the former bourgeoisie and the former proletariat into a single class, the working class, and thereby it creates a classless society. This represents even for the former bourgeois, a liberation from the immorality of exploitation and the moral bankruptcy caused by living off of the labor of the poor. This represents also, the abolition of the social conditions which cause the petty-bourgeois to go bankrupt and homeless after a business they start fails, or when the investments a bourgeois has placed into a single company collapses in a stock market crisis, bringing the sum total of an entire life’s work to naught. Socialism and Christianity support the class war because it causes the least possible social harm.

Some would argue that Christianity and Communism are incompatible on the grounds of the “violence” revolutionary socialism has historically employed. Ignoring the pacifism of some socialists, we must say that if socialism utilizes positive violence, it does so as a tragic necessity (and it rarely does so). It does so only as a reaction to, and in an effort to stifle counter-revolutionary violence. Socialism seeks to abolish the negative violence represented by the toil and sweat, cold and homelessness, heartbreak and hidden tears of the oppressed, of the working class and the poor. Socialism struggles to make the state itself superfluous, the organization in our society with a monopoly on violence that forcefully maintains the existence of class society. Negative violence is itself a form of violence. As fellow comrade and Christian Communist blogger Christian Chiakulas (who’s blog you can find here) said,

In a world that produces enough food to feed each and every one of us, starvation is violence.  In a society where vacant houses outnumber homeless people six to one, homelessness is violence.  A country in which health insurance companies rake in billions in profits while leaving nearly thirty million people uninsured and unable to access medical care is a violent society.

This is the everyday violence of capitalism – if it is profitable to let somebody die, or languish in abject poverty, we do so.  That is a violent society.”

Christianity opposes violence as a tactic when at all possible, but when the path to reconciliation of a social contradiction that is profoundly violent can only be reconciled by a lesser violence alone, that is the path it takes. Non-action is itself a form of action, it is better to act and cause a little harm than to refuse to act, and in moral cowardice, cause a far greater harm by not acting. This is the moral justification on which Christianity has supported just wars over the centuries. This moral justification is no different when it comes to socialist tactics. It does not, as no socialist should, glorify or fetishize acts of violence. But it does not take a liberal Kantian attitude towards the question either.

Jesus said “turn to him the other cheek also” because non-action in this case causes the least possible social harm. Despite the claims of various ruling classes over the centuries, Christian ethics is not and never has taken such a position of non-action towards social and systematic forms of oppression and exploitation, at which point the slogan “liberate the oppressed from the oppressor” comes into play. If a form of oppression or exploitation are historical necessities (as slave, feudal, and bourgeois society was), Christianity sought to reduce the violence associated with this antagonism on the individual and systemic level, even if the ruling class hijacked Christianity for its own ends. It did this because we live in a “fallen world”, in an effort to cause the least amount of harm possible. It did not take a Utopian stance towards a revolution during the early Roman Empire. It did seek to build a communist society within the community of believers by peaceful means, who held all property in common. Even if the experiment failed and had no social basis to succeed, the first act of the early Christians was an attempt to establish a communist society. Christianity has never been opposed to struggles for social justice or liberation. Because we have the means to realize the communistic society the early Christians hoped to build, to eradicate poverty, hunger, and homelessness on a global level, Christians and socialists alike should support the fight to realize such a society. There ought to be no contradiction between socialism and Christianity. The symbol of the cross alone repels the advocates of continuing the existing order of misery and oppression. Let the symbol of the cross bury the present bourgeois society as it buried the Roman Empire! Let that be the slogan of Christianity today!


Democratic Centralism: Great Under Capitalism, Not So Great Under Socialism


April 8, 2018


Democratic centralism as a tactic is crucial to modern socialist and communist parties under capitalism. During periods where the strength of capital is unfettered, it is a crucial organizational tool for the working class. Its effectiveness is self-evident when compared to parties that do not utilize this method of organization. It is capable of mobilizing and rallying the masses to the streets with a fervor and concreteness of action that no other model of political organization can bring. A socialist party of 3,000 can have more of an impact under such a model than one of 300,000.

But in reflecting on the history of the 20th century, one must come to the conclusion that the democratic centralist model is not at all applicable to a revolutionary government or post-revolutionary state. It is not at all applicable to the organization of a socialist society as such. Within such a framework, under any system, the central organs of party (and thereby state) power act as the sacred maintainers of the ‘correct’ political ideology and the ‘correct’ political line. Insofar as the party is of reasonable size, and insofar as democracy within the party is maintained, and insofar as it is a party taking a critical attitude towards the history of the 20th century, this is not a problem.

But when such a party becomes ‘the party’ for an entire society or a new emergency government, it converts Marxism into a political religion, into an alien dogma which cannot be questioned or genuinely believed in without such a person being half suspected of being a dissident. In this we the roots of a potentially totalitarian society. When Stalin took power, we saw precisely what such a state of affairs can bring to a country.

As victory becomes increasingly inevitable, millions flock to join the ‘winning’ party and the democratic aspect of democratic centralism is done away with to preserve the radical nature of the revolution. Under such a state of affairs, we find (as in the case of the Bolsheviks) that state terror becomes a lash by which the spiritual rebirth of the people is enforced at the direction of a small number of party intellectuals. But such a society is contradictory in the extreme, socialist democracy and the spontaneous action of the masses is the only thing that can bring a genuine spiritual rebirth in political life. And unrestricted individual liberty is a prerequisite to such a rebirth. It is rule by terror that demoralizes. Here we find one of the biggest mistakes of the Bolsheviks, one of the most accurate criticisms of Lenin and Trotsky.

But without a democratic centralist framework in capitalist society, in the midst of class struggle, the contradictions within a party of professional revolutionaries become innumerable. The agreed upon historical analysis of the history of the 20th century, the role of the Bolsheviks, the attitude a workers party should take in regards to modern political affairs, to economic affairs, to electoral politics, to historical figures, to methods of struggle, to anarchist tactics, to modern politicians and parties, and so forth, become so contradictory within such a party that its effectiveness on the battlefield of class struggle disintegrates entirely. It opens itself up as a ‘multi-tendency party’, meaning a party without a firm scientific or Marxist analysis of society.

Such a party and mode of political organization does have a time and place in which it should exist, as it is one that embodies the purest of democratic philosophies. But it should not exist as a party of professional revolutionaries and revolutionary intellectuals with the intent of leading the masses as they overthrow bourgeois society. It should not exist in a society where class consciousness is extremely low. These innumerable questions as to the positions such a party must take on various issues should be freely discussed and debated within the party, but once a decision has been made it must be accepted. This is the essence of democratic centralism: freedom in discussion, unity in action. When such a party becomes the only legal party in a newly born society, freedom of discussion vanishes, and the central leadership effectively becomes a dictatorship. Not a genuinely free and democratic dictatorship of the proletariat, but a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense of the word, in the Jacobin sense of the word. Such is the essence of Rosa Luxemburg’s early criticisms of the Russian Revolution.

A socialist party not ascribing to a particular variant of Marxist thought, that is not a democratic centralist party, has the potential of being a proletarian party in the truest sense of the word: a party in line with the will of the proletariat and the broad masses as it actually exists in a socialist society. Such a party, or parties, or such a political organization, can and should emerge in the spiritual rebirth that a genuinely free and democratic socialist society brings. Society must be shaped in line with the will of the working people, not in line with the will of a few political theorists and party intellectuals. But such a party has no place in a capitalist society with extremely low class consciousness, or as an effective revolutionary socialist party within capitalist society.

It is in this that we can declare democratic centralism to be good under capitalism, but bad under socialism. Of course it is never so black and white, but this is generally our analysis.

America Only Has A Criminal ‘Injustice’ System

April 8, 2018



America does not have a criminal justice system, it has a criminal injustice system. It does not ‘rehabilitate’ people. On the contrary, it turns decent people convicted of petty or one-time crimes into actual criminals. 4/5ths of those ‘rehabilitated’ return to prison. It denies female prisoners the most basic of feminine hygiene products and punishes them when they bleed openly because of it. It punishes those who are troubled by isolating them from everyone and everything in a most cruel punishment, which only makes their problems worse. It makes those convicted of even petty sex crimes social outcasts by putting them on sex offender registries. It does nothing to help people when they are released from prison. It does nothing for transgender prisoners, forcing them into prisons populated by members of their birth sex where they are raped, abused, and murdered. It refuses them vitally needed hormone replacement therapy. It disproportionately targets people of color and the poor. It is a heartless institution. It does nothing to address the material conditions of physical and spiritual poverty that create crime, on the contrary, it worsens them. It is a racist, criminal, sadistic, unjust system that has no moral justification to exist.

Photo by Carles Rabada on Unsplash 

Free Society’ is Dying: The Diagnosis of 21th Century Geopolitics And Its Remedy

March 29, 2018


There has been a hard authoritarian right wing shift in global politics: the emergence of Trumpism, Brexit, and the triumph of Chinese state capitalism are all symptoms of this social transformation. What is happening and why? And what is to be done about it? I hope to address all of these things here.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF MODERN SOCIETY: THE REVOLUTION

There is a general trend in the course of recent human events. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, the masses of common men and women have fought bravely for their individual liberty and their liberation from oppression and exploitation in all its forms. The American revolution, the French revolution, the Haitian revolution, the revolutions of the 1840’s, the workers revolution that founded The Paris Commune, the Russian revolution, the Cuban revolution, the Chinese revolution, and even the revolutions of 1989 have all been a part of this great revolution. Such a revolution undoes itself when it is betrayed, or when it no longer represents the interests of the liberation of the people. It may not do so immediately, it may take many years of struggle. This is what we saw in 1989 with the fall of Stalinism in Eastern Europe. This revolution is not a straight line, it is a spiral of self-contradictions. But the general trend is almost universal: two steps forward, one step back.

The revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries fought mainly and almost exclusively for negative liberty, the barest of human rights. The revolutions of the 20th century fought mainly and almost exclusively for positive liberty, in societies that never had negative liberty to begin with.  The revolutions of 1989 made clear that no people can achieve liberation by negating the most basic negative liberties in the pursuit of a society that guarantees positive liberty.

This is what the ‘fall of communism’ symbolized. There can be no socialism without unfettered liberty and democracy, and no real liberty and democracy without socialism. The latter, however, was lost on such a disillusioned people as the Eastern European’s of 1989, and for this we cannot blame them. All these social contradictions and antagonisms, and especially those of our modern society, make clear the need for yet another expansion in the realm of personal liberty, another great revolution, this time for positive liberty on top of the negative liberty we already have in Western countries. This time what is needed is a revolution for a truly democratic and free socialist society, a society in line with the ethics of all the major religions of the world, not one like ours which is against those ethics. This is what we socialists believe.

But the information and telecommunications revolution, itself a phase of the industrial revolution, has revolutionized society to such an extent that it has struck at the very heart of the revolution. It has placed all of ‘free society’ in mortal danger. Not because technology is evil or bad, but because of the way technology functions in our liberal bourgeois society.

WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS?

Global politics has taken a hard authoritarian right wing shift in recent few years. There are several reasons for this and I believe the diagnosis is far more serious than anyone realizes. The reasons and consequences of this are as follows:

1.) Neoliberalism is a failed economic and political system that has not only lost all faith in itself, but it has lost the faith of the people.

2.) The establishment liberal left offers no viable alternatives to the existing order. Since the collapse of the USSR and co, the social democratic left offers no viable alternatives to the existing social order that will not be completely undone by capital via privatization and neoliberal ‘reforms’ just years after implementation. This is not because said social programs ‘failed’, but because the bourgeoisie is in power and it puts its own interest above the general interest. There is no USSR left to compete with in regards to ensuring a social safety net for the common people of western nations. As a result, social democracy alone is no longer a viable alternative. The majority of far-left parties are Stalinist, advocating a return not to the democratic ideas of Marx and Rosa Luxemburg, but to a return to the totalitarianism of Stalinism. No one takes Stalinism seriously as a potential alternative. Politically it is a dead end. Anything other than Stalinism is preferable, including the existing social order. The almost total lack of a viable left wing alternative is entirely the fault of the left.

3.) In spite of the fact that we are statistically living in the safest era in all of human history, we are also more connected than we ever have been before thanks to the information and telecommunications revolution and with it, the creation of the internet. The human brain evolved to know only several hundred people that geographically live around the person in question. This is a recipe for disaster when terrorism is introduced to an over-informed and hyper-connected society. This is especially true given the fact that the media is a capitalist organization whose goal is typically to entertain and sensationalize rather then to objectively inform. A terrorist attack that happens 1000’s of miles away killing a few dozen people causes people all over the world to feel unsafe. Even though you are more likely to be struck by lightning, people FEEL like terrorism is a serious threat, they FEEL unsafe and are willing to give up their liberty for illusory promises of security. In our political era, feelings tend to be equated with facts: fear becomes policy.

4.) The later stages of the information and telecommunications revolution has caused a logarithmic growth in the emergence and creation new technologies and with it, new frontiers have emerged for the abuse of state power and the violation of the rights of the people. In combination with the perceived threat of terrorism, this threat is terminal to the existence of any ‘free’ society.

5.) Due to the nature of liberal democracies, there is a significant delay between the creation of new technologies and the creation of ethical legislation regarding the ethical use of said technologies by the state. The laws “protecting” our rights in the digital age are mostly from the 1980’s and earlier. The fourth amendment and the 12th article of the UN’s declaration of human rights guarantee privacy to be a fundamental human right. However, these rights are declared to be null and void in regards to the digital world. Freedom is always and exclusively the freedom of dissent. A free society is one in which the people can meaningfully oppose state power without fear, without self-censorship or surveillance. Privacy is therefore not only a right, but it is the only real prerequisite to the realization of virtually all other rights. Nearly all legislation passed in the United States and similar ‘liberal democracies’ in this regard has been unethical, illiberal, and in direct violation of the rights of the people (ex. House of Reps repealing regulation that forbade ISPs from selling your internet history to the highest bidder in 2017, NSA mass surveillance or ‘bulk collection’ of metadata as revealed by Snowden in 2014 w/ PRISM, TEMPORA, five, nine and fourteen eyes alliances, etc.)

6.) Despite ‘economic growth’ for the rich, real wages have not risen with productivity since the 1970’s and the life quality of working people continues to stagnate or decline. Working people have become increasingly disillusioned with establishment politics. The liberal left’s obsession with political correctness has only furthered this disillusionment. Liberal leaders such as Obama have failed to implement any transparency or “change”, but have instead done the exact opposite.

Conclusion:

7.) The combination of all these things has caused a resurgence in right wing and far-right politics and with it, vast increases in authoritarianism and gradual decreases in civil liberty. Privacy is not only a right, but it is the only real prerequisite to all human freedom. Freedom is always and exclusively the freedom of dissent, and the erosion of privacy means the erosion of the capacity of the people to effectively dissent. The state has vastly increased its own power and has effectively decreased the power the people have to meaningfully oppose said power. Censorship is superfluous in a society that imposes mass surveillance. Instead of implementing external censorship and physically crushing dissent, mass surveillance causes people to self-censor themselves because everyone’s most personal secrets are known or are readily available to the state with no real oversight. Anyone who stands effectively in defiance of the state or state policy is an easy target for state-sponsored blackmail, slander, or demonization- and these powers are only growing stronger with time. The safeguards in place, which are policy, not legislation, change every 2 to 4 years in a liberal democracy and are gradually being eroded in the name of ‘security’. This erosion will only speed up in the coming decades.

The governments of the western nations, of the ‘freest’ countries in the world, no longer represent either the will or the general interests of the people. They are the biggest threats to individual and liberal rights that have ever existed in all of human history. Snowden is right in claiming that they have constructed and are continually strengthening architectures of oppression far surpassing those of the wildest dreams of the Stasi and the Nazi Gestapo. Establishment liberal politicians who promise more transparency and less authoritarian measures are Machiavellians in the truest sense of the word. Even the White House review panel on NSA surveillance programs has come to the conclusion that these programs have not stopped a single terrorist attack since their inception. But our political system, like our whole bourgeois society, is not based on reason and facts, it is based on feelings. These Machiavellians know that if they end these Orwellian programs, that they personally will be blamed for the next terrorist attack that happens. It is far too rare for an elected official holding high office to subjugate the individual interest to the social interest, and as such, we cannot rely on elected officials to implement the changes that are necessary.

The common people are conditioned not to be involved in politics. The nature of the political system is such that it is designed to keep things the same, even when there is minor change, it is done by offering small enough concessions to continue the growth of the capitalist system. Freedom in a stable society is always only ever a fundamental issue to the dissenting minority, it is never a question of the majority interest but of the minority interest- and it is an absolutely crucial minority interest just the same. Only when a society becomes authoritarian or unstable (as our society is becoming) do these rights become essential for an entire society. The information and telecommunications revolution has created such an expanse in the emergence of new technologies that abuses of said technologies are deemed to be acceptable to the non-political class precisely because the current political system is designed to keep things the way they are, to maintain existing forms of oppression and exploitation. By design, it alienates the masses from the affairs of the political class, which just so happens to consist mainly of the petty-bourgeoisie and big bourgeoisie.

The only successful form of capitalism in our era is the Chinese model of authoritarian state capitalism, a capitalism wholly divorced from democracy. The future of the capitalist system is a capitalism divorced from democracy. If the United States and Europe continue under capitalism in the coming decades, they will likely and out of necessity, become more like China.

It is for these reasons that we believe that there is an extremely high risk that the late 21st century will consist mainly of a people crushed under the weight of totalitarianism if the current system is allowed to continue. The erosion of privacy, the only real prerequisite to civil liberty in our society, is but a first step in this social transformation. It is a betrayal of almost every revolution that has taken place since 1774. The increasingly authoritarian rightward shift in global geopolitics reflects this diagnosis of society.

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

The solution to these grave social ills can only be a left wing solution. This cannot mean a solution consisting of a small group of intellectuals seizing power nor of any manner of individual terrorism. It must be a revolution if the people. It cannot aim to establish a Stalinist state or a one-party dictatorship. Only the people are capable of liberating themselves and governing themselves. Nothing can nor will change without the support of the people. We believe the solution to right wing authoritarianism is not left wing authoritarianism, but a democratic, anti-authoritarian, mass socialist movement. This is in line with the ideas of Karl Marx and Rosa Luxemburg as well as the principles of Trotskyism. Luxemburgism, Trotskyism, and some of the anarchist ideas on the radical left that no one took seriously for most of the 20th century, must be taken seriously today if the people of the 21st and 22nd century are to be free and healthy.

The slogan of socialism in the 21st century is that of expanded individual liberty as much as it is the introduction of industrial democracy, of this be sure. Rosa Luxemburg, in her perhaps misplaced criticism of the Russian Revolution (in Ch.6 of a pamphlet titled ‘The Russian Revolution’), famously declared the necessity of liberty in a socialist society. To quote,

“Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of ‘justice’ but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a special privilege…

Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously – at bottom, then, a clique affair – a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins (the postponement of the Soviet Congress from three-month periods to six-month periods!) Yes, we can go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc.”

Any socialist movement worth its salt in the 21st century must defend and expand the liberal rights that have been won through decades of working class struggle.

The way for society to progress in a stable world would be to wait for the inevitable: the later stages of the information and telecommunications revolution will bring vast increases in automation technologies. The automation of most forms of physical labor will make communism (a stateless, classless, moneyless society) a virtual historical inevitability. But we do not live in a stable world. In addition to increasing authoritarianism and the erosion of civil liberty, the capitalist system is utterly nihilistic when it comes to acknowledging its own effect on the environment. To ensure its own survival, it has sacrificed the entire future of humanity to further its own ends. It accepts that it has destroyed the environment beyond repair and refuses to do anything of meaning to address this, it accepts that we are probably living in the final centuries of humanity. It blames the individual for climate change, not its own systematic rape of mother earth. From a species perspective, capitalist society has become so illogical that we would not be wrong to call it suicidal. By the time the automation revolution comes, the effects of climate change will become so acute that the potential such technologies have for ensuring human liberation will become superfluous in its wake.

For this reason, the working people of the world cannot wait for some far off historical inevitability. As Lenin said, “sometimes history needs a push”. And in the advanced capitalist countries where civil liberty already exists and the economy is highly industrialized, where socialism can already be built without the iron whip of Stalinism, we have to agree. As liberal democracies become increasingly unstable, it is only a matter of time before they degenerate completely into a system similar to the Chinese system of authoritarian state capitalism, and this will likely happen far before the automation revolution. It is precisely at this moment of destabilization and crisis that the common people, the working people, must seize all state power and work to ensure the future survival and freedom of the human race. This is the only way that we can cast Trumpism, the suicidal perpetuation of technologies that are destroying the environment, authoritarianism, and capitalism into the dustbin of history. The slogan of such a movement is the same as it was in the 20th century, “Workers of All Countries, Unite!” People should not fear political change, they should not fear a radical restructuring of society. If it is something done by the will of the people, with the people truly in power, have faith that it will be done in a way that changes the world for the better. Only this, we believe, can get us out of our current predicament.



What Would Socialism Look Like In The 21st Century?


March 24, 2018


I claim that only the revolutionary socialists of the 21st century can be the real guardians of unfettered liberty and true democracy. What would a socialist society look like in the 21st century? It would be as far different from Stalinism as Bernie Sanders is from Tsar Nicholas II. Unlike Marx we can take the liberty of guessing what such a society would look like. I claim that orthodox Marxism (the ideas and principles of Marx and Rosa Luxemburg) have more in common with anarchism than with the totalitarian distortions of Stalinism. This is true even of Leninism and Trotskyism. We would undoubtedly base many democratic principles on those of the Paris Commune. Unlike revolutionary Russia or France, advanced capitalist countries do not exist in such a state of material and spiritual poverty. The masses are educated, literate, and have an abundance of material wealth. Unlike these countries, liberal rights have already been won in our society and the people will not stand for any form of tyranny. As such, historical reflections of the ‘totalitarian excesses’ of the French and Russian revolutions would not be able to emerge if such a revolution emerged first in the advanced capitalist countries, as Marx predicted they would.

It would be a revolution not of a small group of intellectuals seizing power for themselves in the name of the workers or the people. This is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense of the word. In our society, governing institutions could but only consist of elected representatives of the people themselves. Any socialist movement worth its salt would not only defend, but would expand the liberal and human rights won through decades of struggle. Representatives would have extremely short terms of service and would be instantly re-callable by popular petition at any time. This was a fundamental democratic aspect of the Paris Commune.

There would be no need for such governing institutions to suppress a free press or demonstrations of the people. A revolution at its purest is reason in revolt, a revolution IS dissent. If it is to truly be a revolution of the people, the people themselves would decide the course of the revolution and not an ‘enlightened’ central committee of a single monolithic party. This means also, that such a society would not be a one party state as were the Stalinist states of the 20th century.

Such a revolution by design would place a great amount of faith in the masses. In the Stalinist states of the 20th century, those in power tried to censor what information the masses could attain. It coddled the masses out of fear that the masses, if given a choice, would not support the existing social order. We see this today in North Korea, and to a lesser extent in Cuba, China, and Vietnam. Only Laos has taken real steps towards allowing unfettered access of the masses to free information. These restrictions on the rights of the people are an abomination to Marxism and to scientific socialism and must be seen in such a society as grotesque remnants of a much darker past.

In a socialist society of the 21st century there would be, on the contrary, unfettered and free access to information in the country in question and abroad. The internet would be free and democratically controlled with an abolition of intellectual property, proprietary software, and absurd copyright laws (downloading pirated movies would be legal). The established order by design would have no right to use powers of mass surveillance. The architectures of oppression that have been built in our society by shadowy intelligence organizations, and intelligence organizations generally, would be dismantled in full by the will of the people. The state would have no right to this criminally attained information. The only just course of action would be its destruction.

Such a society would have faith that the people would not join protests against the new order, that they would not petition and rally en mass to return to the old order. And if something was fundamentally wrong with the revolution, if something needed to be addressed, those elected would by design be forced either to address it or be instantly removed from office by popular petition. At no point would the approval ratings of those in power drop below the level of majority support of the masses. If it did those in power would be instantly removed from office by popular petition and a new election would take place to put into power a person genuinely supported by, and in support of, the popular masses. Those who did hold office would hold extremely short terms of service.

The purpose of such a revolution would be to bring about a spiritual rebirth in social life, to bring the masses into political life and political affairs directly, to have public debates and discussions, (subjected to reason, fact checks, and an analysis of logical fallacies,) about the necessary courses of action. The masses today cannot be bothered with politics. Even if they had the time, the bourgeois state only changes things just enough that the fundamental base and superstructure of society stay the same. By design the bourgeois state and bourgeois society in general alienate the masses of working people from political life. Such debates and discussions would educate the masses on various political, ethical, and philosophical issues. It would at no point indoctrinate them into an obscure political ideology. It would not convert Marxism into a political religion as did the Stalinist states of the 20th century. Such conversion of Marxism into a political religion is by is very nature, anti-Marxist. It would not dictate Marxism and Marxist philosophy to the masses. Marxism by design recognizes that not even Marxism is infallible. Like everything, it is constantly changing and reevaluating its validity in the dialectical process of world history.

Contrary to popular belief, a genuinely socialist economy would not mean state ownership and control of industry. This is not socialism. Socialism means social (can be state) ownership AND democratic control of industry. Neither state nor private controlled industry can be trusted to truly represent the people and not bring about vast abuses of power. Instead, the working people and public must have democratic control over production. Industrial democracy is socialism at its purest, not the tyrannical control of owners and board members as we see under modern capitalism, nor the despotism of state bureaucrats and unelected officials as we saw in the former Soviet Union.

Production would be democratically planned by public representatives in collaboration with similar industries and changes to the way business is done would require approval of the workers directly. No factory floor would ever have agreed to fire everyone and send their jobs to Mexico if workers had such power in our society. The same principles of democratic elections and the ability to instantly recall elected officials by popular petition would apply here too. Computers would be utilized to ensure that production was planned in accordance with the material and social resources available. The purpose of production would be to meet human and social needs directly, not to enrich a handful of ‘owners’, board members, and share holders as is the case under capitalism. The surplus value created by an industry would not be ‘profits’ or ‘capital’, it would rightfully be recognized as the unpaid wages of the working class.

Socialism would mean a democratization of the whole of society, industry included. It would expand, not squander the human and liberal rights won through decades of struggle, and those rights enshrined in the documents marking the establishment of the bourgeois era. It would add positive liberty to the negative liberty we enjoy in our bourgeois society. In addition to freedom of speech, religion, press, personal property, organization, etc. the people would for the first time have positive liberties such as the right to education, housing, healthcare, food, internet access, transportation, and the means necessary to truly realize their essential negative liberties. Make no mistake, it would be such an “open” society that the “open” society we have today, that liberals lust over, would look to this socialist society like a “closed” society. This is the goal of socialism in the 21st century.

The purpose of the press would no longer be the generation of capital for the bourgeois owners of the press. It would, after the overthrow of bourgeois ownership and rule, not use sensationalism and mindless entertainment to generate profit as the generation of capital would no longer be the goal. On the contrary, its purpose would be to objectively inform the masses. It would be allowed to maintain its adversarial and skeptical stance to government and the government by design would have no right to suppress a free press. At no point would it be converted into an organ for state or party propaganda as it was in the 20th century Stalinist states. A free press would be a cornerstone of such a socialist society. This includes the freedom of independent journalists and groups of people to form press organizations, even ones adversarial, freely.

Unlike the Stalinist states of the 20th century, the transition period between socialism and communism would be not only inherently democratic and anti-totalitarian, but it would have a visible end in sight. Its purpose would be to directly attain a free communist society. Here the democratic, not totalitarian pursuit of communism, would be the goal. The state would be designed to wither away and the armed people would ensure it attained this aim. I predict the tribal and nationalistic ‘intelligence organizations’ of the old society would be substituted in an an act of parody with WikiLeaks! It would be made clear that the state has no right to exist after the socialization of industry was achieved. The Stalinist “strengthening of the state against the ‘remnants’ of the bourgeoisie”, that gross totalitarian distortion of Marxism, would by design not possible and the armed people, organized into various voluntary militias, would be right to abolish it by force if it did not wither away. Here anarchists would serve a vital function as the protectors and ensurers of the attainment of a stateless society.

The increasing capacity of society to realize its full potential to meet human needs would usher in a new ethical paradigm. Working 40 hours a week would no longer be seen as morally desirable. It would be seen for what it is, a state of being that reduces the potential for individual growth, a state of being which deprives the individual of their humanity. The mass unemployment that will inevitably result from increasing automation would bring would not mean homelessness, hunger, misery and want for the working people as it means in our capitalist society. On the contrary, it would mean their freedom and liberation from ceaseless labor.

Unlike in the 20th century, the call of socialism would never be a call for militant atheism. Such a society by design would protect the peoples right to practice religion freely and publicly, for religious communities to construct new religious buildings and places of worship, to publish their teachings and to preach unfettered. State atheism would be deemed a grotesque remnant of the past. Not even in a communist society would atheism be enforced. The state and ruling apparatus by design would not be allowed to take a stance on religion. It would be a purely secular institution, neither ‘Christian’, ‘Muslim’, or ‘Atheist’. It would protect the rights of the people to follow whatever religious ideal or lack thereof which aligned with their conscience. The right to practice religion is a personal and a family matter, the state would have no right to to interfere with that right. Organized religious institutions would be compelled to either support the cause for human liberation from oppression and exploitation or the lose material and moral support of the masses. In addition to being grossly immoral, for the state to take an adversarial stance against religion in general would mean a loss of support for the cause of liberation from the people. I have written extensively on my views on the question of religion and socialism.

We are not Utopians. We make no such claim that such a revolution would solve all the problems of society. On the contrary, we openly admit that such a revolution is bound to cause even more problems. But the problems of homelessness, hunger, poverty, excesses of crime, overwork, and alienation- the problems of state and capitalist oppression and exploitation, the exploitation of man by man, those we aim to abolish. The abolition of every possibility of oppression and exploitation- this is our slogan!

These are not a series of ‘plans’ that an enlightened people should apply dogmatically to society. A revolution is a dialectical action. One learns from it and decides what principles to apply as it happens. There is no ‘guidebook’ to attaining a socialist or communist society to be found in small party of enlightened intellectuals that will liberate mankind ‘if only it is followed enthusiastically by the masses’. We can only make predictions and suggestions of what can and should emerge in our society. We libertarian Marxists, Luxemburgists, Trotskyists, and other revolutionary socialists wish to bring to the world a viable left wing alternative to the existing order. One thing is for sure, the totalitarian pursuit of a communist society is grossly immoral and should never be repeated. We accept only a truly democratic socialistic and communistic society. We accept only the rights respecting, democratic attainment of such a system.

We believe revolution will likely be necessary to end the capitalist system and destroy the bourgeois state, but we believe that this revolution can be achieved largely with only the threat of popular violence. It can be a largely bloodless revolution. Also, it can only be done with and by the will of the masses themselves. With the increasingly authoritarian right wing shift in geopolitics today, the world socialist revolution appears even more and more likely.

Should the overthrown ruling classes of bourgeois society rise up to seize power once again, any bloodshed would be on their hands alone. Should they start a civil war in one of these countries, the people would strive to re-implement democracy and liberal rights as soon as possible. For it is rule by terror that demoralizes, it is rule by terror that poses a greater threat to the revolution than anything else. We sincerely doubt the potential for victory of a dying social order in such a scenario.

Capitalism in the 21st century can only survive if it takes up the Chinese state capitalist model. The neoliberal model of capitalism is dead, the social democratic model is dead, even the Latin American model is dead. Even today neoliberalism has lost all faith in itself, first economically and now politically. Global capitalism can only survive if it further and further divorces itself from democracy, from even bourgeois democracy. The capitalism of the future, if it is to survive, is the capitalism of China increasingly turning to a sort of neo-fascism. It can only be a right wing surveillance state. This is late capitalism in decay. It is for this reason that the revolutionary socialists of the 21st century are the only real guardians of liberty and democracy. With the increasing rudeness and lack of respect of the conservative right, the socialist left must also become the guardians of decency, kindness, and respect for humanity. We must take a stand against the political correctness of the liberal left while at the same time reiterating the necessity of the rights for people of color, LGBT+ persons, women, Muslims, and other oppressed groups.

All of this relies on the principle that the first revolutions marking the end of capitalism, as Marx predicted, will happen in the most advanced capitalist countries first and not in the ‘weakest links in the chain of world imperialism’ as seemed to be the case in 1917. If a communist revolution succeeded in India or Africa today, it would likely be marked by a resurgence of Stalinist politics. It would be a deformed workers state from the beginning, and it would become a massive propaganda machine. Both the US and this Stalinist country would agree that the system these Stalinists have implemented is ‘socialism’, even if it is objectively not so. And it would be impossible for real revolutionary socialists to convince the masses that the one thing the two biggest propaganda machines in the world agree on is not actually true. The people of the western imperialist nations would never in principle support such a revolution. It would end up being confined to that country alone or to similarly impoverished countries. It would in principle stand against liberal rights and real workers democracy. In short, it would be another cold war with both sides being morally indefensible yet again.

If such a revolution happened in the advanced countries first, it would quickly spread to the rest of the world. The lackeys who work in the service of world imperialism, who hold power in the oppressed nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America would quickly be overthrown by the popular masses. It would be abundantly clear that this revolution was substantially different and infinitely more desirable and respectful of popular democracy and liberal rights than the Stalinist countries of the 20th century. As the wealthier countries met the human needs of the people in their own countries, there would be a decline in the exponential expansion of technological innovation and growth that we see in the present era of the later stages of the information and telecommunications revolution. This is not because socialism ‘squanders innovation’ as some bourgeois lackeys suggest. On the contrary, socialism has the potential to increase innovation to an extent far surpassing its ability under capitalism. This decline in innovation would be intentional and design. To advocate the slowing down of the information and telecommunications revolution, as I am aware, is political heresy. The wealthier countries would have a responsibility to provide aid for the newly socialist countries of Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. Those nations formerly oppressed by imperialism would be brought up to the standards of living and modernity we consider acceptable in the west with the aid of western countries. This would not mean a decline of the standards of living for people in western countries, but an increased standard of living as society was restructured to primarily meet human needs. It would however, mean a decrease in innovation temporarily.

This revolution would place the interests of humanity above those of capital. As such, the long term survival of the human species would be prioritized over the ‘profits’ of the fossil fuel industry and big corporations. The crisis of climate change would immediately be addressed by the transformation of the world energy system into one that runs on 100% renewable green energy. New cities would be built in preparation for the already inevitable drastic rise in sea levels. Plastics would be done away with and plans initiated to clean the oceans and rivers of plastic and other forms of waste. Fishing would be cut substantially to allow the fish populations to return to normal. The industrialization of the poorer countries would be done exclusively on ecological grounds and mass reforestation programs would be initiated globally.

Social democratic countries like Norway today claim that they have figured out how to be truly ecological under capitalism. “Norway has 100% renewable green energy!” says our petty-bourgeois democrat. Indeed it does, but even Norway, bastion of green social democracy, has fossil fuels overwhelmingly as its largest exports. Norway has created a fortress of ecology within its own national borders, it has merely ‘exported’ the crisis of climate change to other countries! A world socialist system would allow a country (Norway, for instance) to stop fossil fuel exports and resource exploitation entirely without a serious hit to that nations economy as other nations would provide it with aid.

I have taken the time also to make a series of points that would be generally applicable to nearly all the advanced countries, and could reasonably emerge in a socialist 21st century. Some of them have already been stated above and I hope the reader can forgive my repetition. Note that as I have said before, this is mostly speculation, I do not have a crystal ball. This is merely what one would hope to, and expect to see:

-Direct democracy on the local level, representative democracy on the higher levels. High officials occupying offices in specialized fields are to be elected by the people on the basis of their expertise in said specialized fields. Scientists only would be allowed to run for office and hold positions in fields dictating policy for scientific affairs (environmental regulations, etc.) The same applies to all other fields of government. The goal here would be to ensure that society ran smoothly and without constant “meetings of the masses” to discuss “how our community will get water this week”. We would want an engineer with experience with water systems to be responsible for the public water service, not merely a ‘comedic’ populist. We would want a scientist in control of a socialist EPA, not someone like Jeff Sessions.

-A spiritual rebirth and reemergence of the popular masses and workers into political life with the emergence of a system where the people are truly in power. An absence of Marxism as a political religion or mandated political dogma enforced by those in power.

-All political and industrial officials are to be elected, have an extremely short term of service, and be instantly recallable at any time by popular petition of the people.

-The abolition of private property, its substitution not with state ownership and control but with social ownership and democratic control by the workers themselves and representatives of the public at large. The state, we believe, can and should aid in this transformation. These representatives too would be democratically elected and instantly recallable by popular petition at any time. Such a change would not be implemented overnight and therefore necessitates the existence of a state to aid in this social transformation. The state should, upon seizing power, take the largest 500 or so corporations into social ownership and democratic control after a very brief transitional period of state ownership and control. Everyone would have to “go back to work” the day after a revolution. A revolution is an economic trauma as much as it is a political one. Effort would have to be made to return the (likely falling apart) economy to a stable state of being before serious reforms were implemented.

-An abolition of all rights to inheritance. Small businesses also would no longer be passed down from generation to generation. We have no intention of robbing small business owners of their businesses that they have legitimately worked hard to create without reason. Means of production would likely be seized by the state and transferred to the workers upon death of the respective owners. Small businesses as they exist today are a fundamental aspect of the economy. Simply seizing ALL the means of production instantly would be disastrous for the economy and for society at large, as would be a ‘too rapid’ transformation of society. It would be the biggest economic disaster in all of human history, far more so than the state of Eastern Europe and Russia in the 1990’s. The workers could still elect members of that persons family if they truly represent the interests of the workers and the public at large. It could in effect, still be a ‘family business’.

-The right of working people to form their own workers self directed enterprises. This necessarily entails an abolition of wage labor. All workers would be paid in proportion to their quality and quantity of work, and in proportion to their needs.

-An abolition of individual taxation for the overwhelming majority of society. Capitalists, millionaires, and billionaires possessing over 10 million dollars would have all funds seized except for 10 million dollars or its equivalent. 10 million dollars would be the maximum allowed net worth of an individual. Emigrants who fled the country and capitalists who took arms against the revolution would be deprived of all funds and property by default, both personal and private. The vast amounts of hoarded wealth would be distributed to the working people and be made to fund social welfare programs. It would also be reinvested back into production.

-The immediate release of all non-violent criminals and those arrested for crimes whose origins emerge from poverty. The total reconstitution of the criminal justice system on a reform, not a punishment basis. An abolition of the current criminal injustice system. Such a system should aim to spiritually enrich those imprisoned and give them the means to have a stable and meaningful life upon release. It should not dehumanize them, use cruel and unusual punishments like solitary confinement, etc. This also entails an abolition of the death penalty and the establishment of a “maximum” sentence for prisoners (perhaps ~30 years).

-An immediate abolition of homelessness via the seizure of all empty homes from their respective landowners and landlords. Systems should be put in place to help those with mental disorders and addiction. The formerly homeless should be guaranteed either employment or a guaranteed means of subsistence. (Even in America today there are 5 empty homes for every homeless person). All land and property rents would be abolished and the sacred and inviolable right of the home would be preserved.

-The abolition of all existing government institutions and their immediate replacement by grassroots workers councils representing the true will of the people. Such councils then would elect representatives of their local communities to the nation as a whole, who would naturally be instantly recallable by popular petition at any time.

-The organization and armament of the masses and their organization into various voluntary militias to replace the traditional military. An immediate recall of all troops stationed overseas and closure of foreign military bases. An immediate end to all wars and the abolition of all treaties and trade agreements made with all other countries. A backup reserve could still be maintained and recruited exclusively for the defense of country from foreign invasion. To go to war with another country would require a popular vote of the people themselves (not merely their federal representatives) and such a decision would have to be done on a purely rational and calm basis. This makes the likelihood of an aggressive war against another nation almost non-existent. No people in all of human history have ever willingly and in reason made the decision to start an act of aggression against the people of another nation without the indoctrination of the ruling class and profiteers of warfare. No nation at war has ever objectively informed the masses about the aims and views of the other side. Such a system would aim to do just that.

-The transformation of the police into a truly public service, not a weapon of the state. The police would be instantly recallable at all time by members of the community, and its head would be democratically elected and instantly recallable at any time. It would exist solely to stop violent crime, as an organization responsible exclusively to the public. If a community felt alienated by the police, it would have the right to bar the police from entering said community and to recall elected officials of the community and/or the policing institutions.

-Potentially a rotating office in the highest seats of leadership in both cities and in the country at large

-An established and expanded version of the Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the removal of all rights to private property (the exploitation of labor) and the inclusion of positive liberty.

-The withering away of the state as soon as the economy is sufficiently socialized. State power to be replaced with peoples self-government. This would mark the beginning of stateless communism.

-The transfer to 100% green energy globally, massive reforestation programs

-Large amounts of foreign aid to formerly oppressed countries to industrialize and modernize on an ecological basis

-An increase in public funds for arts and sciences, including the creation of a new space program

-Increased funds into organizations specializing in robotics and automation with the goal being the eventual full automation of production and the liberation of humanity from physical labor.

-Strict regulations put in place in regards to potentially dangerous new technologies and scientific discoveries such as genetic engineering, disease research, and artificial intelligence. (We don’t want to give an AI unfettered internet access without understanding it first)

-The reconstituion of the production of agriculture and foodstuffs for the purpose of ending world hunger entirely (We alredy produce enough food to feed 10 billion a year)

-The abolition of extreme poverty globally with an emphasis on the abolition of poverty generally. (In 2017 the profit of billionaires alone was enough to abolish extreme poverty globally over 7 times over)

-State secularism as opposed to state atheism

-An abolition of mass surveillance and the re-stressing of the importance of liberty over the elusive idea of ‘security’. Technology would be made to increase privacy by design and not to track users. The internet would be decentralized, proprietary software and current privacy laws would be abolished. (You could read the source code and the community could make edits to OS X, Microsoft Windows, Adobe Photoshop, etc.)

These are some of the general predictions of what a world socialist revolution in the 21st century would look like. Its purpose would be to bring ordinary working people into power, to overthrow capitalist and corporate domination of the state and to establish a system that truly represents the people. With this, it would end once and for all every form of private and state oppression and exploitation. It would aim to liberate humanity and all the oppressed peoples of the world. These are merely my own speculations.

In this era of increasing right-wing authoritarianism, the erosion of privacy (the only real prerequisite to individual liberty), and the further divorce of even bourgeois democracy from capitalism, we can definitively say once again, as Rosa Luxemburg correctly did in 1920’s Germany, that in this era, at this time in human history, it is either socialism or barbarism! Our slogan today is the same as it was then, Workers of All Countries, Unite! Unite under the banner of liberty and socialist democracy! You have a world to win, you have nothing to lose but your chains!

The Necessity of Exposing Social Constructs and Illusory Manifestations of Social Life: Exposing Some Basic Concepts



March 18, 2018


In order for human society to function, it requires countless abstractions (i.e. illusory manifestations of social phenomena that do not in actuality exist). Society itself is one such abstraction. The basis of any real critique of bourgeois society, of the later phases of the information and telecommunications revolution, or of human society in general, entails the peeling back and exposure of said illusions. It is only in this way that one can achieve, as close as possible, pure objectivity in criticism and analysis of social phenomena. Here we will attempt to expose some of these illusory manifestations of social phenomena as rudimentary examples. We will critique the fundamental notions we hold of society, humanity, the nation state, class society, liberal and universal human rights, etc. both on the left and generally.

To begin as our first example, countries do not exist. A country is as real as Santa Claus. People do not believe in it because it exists. It exists (even without substance) solely because people believe in it.

One does not see proof of the existence of the object itself, but rather the real consequences of its perceived existence. The socially accepted perception of its existence manifests itself to the individual as evidence of its existence. This illusion in particular is historically necessary insofar as class society exists.

Social hierarchies and seemingly organic organizations of social life manifest themselves as unchangeable, morally defensible and necessary absolutes. Like all things, they too change with time and with the evolution of a society. These manifestations largely define the ethics, values, and socially accepted morality of an epoch.

These ethics, values, and morals are almost exclusively those of that epochs ruling class. “The ruling ideas of each age have only ever been the ruling ideas of that ages ruling class”, said Marx. Therefore we can say with reason that every socioeconomic and political system follows a moral system based squarely on the justification of its own existence. This system is adopted by the oppressed and exploited social classes in times of geopolitical and economic stability as much as it is promoted by the ruling class. Education systems and the press both promote the ruling ideas of a particular epoch, which are, as we have previously stated, those of that epochs ruling class.

There are many commonly held oversimplifications of the idea of the ruling class on the left. These too are illusions, and these too hurt the cause of human liberation. To begin, a member of the ruling class (except in cases so immoral that it is indefensible even to that members social class) does not perceive (typically his) actions as being immoral. On the contrary, he is merely an individual acting in the same way as those around them. He is merely mirroring the society from which his own psychologically ingrained moral code of conduct emerged.

When it occurs, a member of the ruling class is naturally taken aback by the eruption of a social revolution or a radical social movement. Because he lacks the experience of the oppressed classes, he does not understand why the revolution or mass movement has emerged. In case of revolution, the destruction of long standing social hierarchies and traditional manifestations of social life is such a shock to the status quo that such an individual clings to his own perceived and long ingrained notions of right and wrong. He therefore renounces objective reason in revolt and clings to the subjective ‘reason’ and ‘order’ of a dying social system.

Only the successful manifestation on positive social change brought about by a social revolution or movement can change the mind of such an individual.

But an individual is bound by their own experiences. A vast improvement of the social life of the majority in such a short span of time necessarily implies a reduction in quality of life, luxury and privilege for the ruling elite. This is why universal healthcare, in the liberal countries where it exists, is deemed to be ‘a disaster’ by the bourgeoisie who can no longer pay for ‘premium’ (see, better) healthcare due to their privileged status in society. Thus begs the question, “Is universal healthcare a disaster?” But we say that the question itself is invalid. To the proletariat and the working majority it is largely a godsend, to the bourgeoisie it is a nightmare.

In spite of the subjectivity of morality, there are certain actions universally abominable in virtually every society regardless of historical epoch. These actions almost always act against the interests of human civilization and the long-term survival of the human species.

The individual is infinitely malleable only because the potential course of human evolution is infinite. There is no such thing as ‘human’, this too is an illusion. A human is only the currently existing, statistical average homo sapien, and the homo sapien is constantly evolving even at what seems to be a snails pace. Within the bounds of natural evolution, there are certain facets of human nature that do not change with even the most radical social revolution. The constellations in the sky are not timeless and eternal, but the individual stars are moving. Their motion is not detectable to us as individuals, even over eons. But they are not static, the stars too are in motion.

The basis of our critiques are the identification of social illusions as they manifest themselves in the socialist movement, and in society at large. It is in this that we hope to soon publish our work on the information and telecommunications revolution, tribalism, and the erosion of liberty in late capitalist society.



A Change In Themes


February 18, 2018


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.

The Four Prerequisites to Full Democracy And A Reason Why Stalinism Failed


November 9, 2017 


There are, in my view, four prerequisites to democracy that unfold historically with the progression of human social development, each progression allowing for a fuller democracy. Mankind has found democracy to be the most ideal system, the system that best represents the will of the majority of the population. But democracy under capitalism is limited, is a democracy that de facto serves only the capitalist class. Let us look at what these prerequisites are, and how each stage represents an ever increasing democratic progression, from feudalism to capitalism to socialism and finally, to stateless communism. In this, I also will attempt to explain the inherent lack of liberty and genuine democracy in the 20th century Marxist-Leninist states. This is a new theory.

1: Industrial Development And The Social Development That Accompanies It (Feudalism to Capitalism) As The First Prerequisite To Democracy

The industrial revolution, and the decline of feudalism, brought forth the initial prerequisites of bourgeois democracy on a massive scale. Industrialization, and the social consequences that come with it (literacy, increases in the average knowledge of each individual, education, etc.) provided a solid foundation for the emerging dominance of the capitalist mode of production. But this alone was merely the necessary prerequisite for bourgeois democracy. Democracy did not come about merely from this new emergence in human society. It is also worth noting, that the lack of these characteristics largely explains the failures of U.S. imperialism’s attempt at grafting liberal democracy onto backward nations such as Iraq, and why dictatorship is sometimes necessary before liberal democracy can come about (see South Korea)

2: Declaration Of The Rights Of Humanity (Negative Liberty, Human Rights) As The Second Prerequisite To Democracy (Capitalism)

The great bourgeois revolutions of the late 18th century introduced the idea of negative liberty into human society. With these social explosions, notions of what we would call human rights came about. Individuals were granted the freedom of speech, protest, press, religion, etc. Of course, these freedoms remained mainly bourgeois in character, because they were only in actuality, privileges mainly of the bourgeois class. Built into the doctrine of these great social advances, is the right, or more accurately put, the privilege, of the ruling class to own private property. In a word, the entitlement to all a worker produces solely by owning the means of production is written into the bill of rights itself. Private property rights are negated with the transcendence of this stage, into a more democratic society.

These two developments form the necessary prerequisites not only for bourgeois democracy, but for democracy in general, excluding as aforesaid, private property “rights”. No form of democracy, neither bourgeois or proletarian, can exist without sufficient industrial development and the social development that comes with it, as well as the negative liberty that bourgeois revolutions establish (excluding private property).

I hope the reader will forgive me for using this quote again by Rosa Luxemburg,

Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when “freedom” becomes a special privilege…

Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element.”

https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/russian-revolution/ch06.htm 

But with this alone, private property and all, the Fukuyamaists declare liberal capitalism to be the end of history! They declare neoliberal capitalism to be the highest stage of human development! They declare bourgeois democracy to be the epitome of democratic institutions! But as we shall see, these are opinions blinded by historical limitations.

“Bourgeois democracy”, says Lenin, “although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor.” In fact, bourgeois democracy is only different from the democracy of the Greek Slave states in that it takes on a truly national character, in that it guarantees the formal rights of the oppressed classes. It is a “democracy” all right, but a democracy for who? What social class does it represent? In ancient Greece, the answer is simple: the ruling class, the slave owners. In America, the answer is the same: the ruling class, the capitalists. The image below shows beyond doubt the bourgeois character of the American government, the true nature of this so-called “bastion of democracy”.


There are two ruling political parties in the United States, both are owned and controlled exclusively by the capitalist class. The recent election between the hated Donald Trump, a billionaire capitalist, and the loathed Hillary Clinton, a mega-millionaire, is evidence of this fact. The DNC rigging of the election against Bernie Sanders is evidence of this fact. The overwhelming majority of people voted for one solely out of having more hatred for the other. There is no real democracy here. Every election, regardless of size, is intangibly bound up with the interests of capital. It is built into the base of the capitalist mode of production. The inherently undemocratic nature of capitalism creates an inherently undemocratic government, or rather, one that is subservient and “democratic” only for the bourgeois class. The video below of a lecture by Richard Wolff explains the undemocratic nature of capitalism, and its effect on political democracy, perfectly.

3: Industrial Democracy (Socialism) And Positive Liberty As The Third Prerequisite To Genuine Political Democracy (Capitalism to Socialism)

Thus we come to the next stage of democratic development. It is not one independent of the previous two stages (industrial/ social development and negative liberty), but is entirely reliant on it. In an advanced capitalist country, where bourgeois democracy and industry are fully developed, it’s inherently undemocratic nature in regards to the overwhelming propertyless majority becomes increasingly apparent, and socialist revolution brings the abolition of capitalism. Despite “formal” declarations of equality, despite the bourgeois class making concessions to women, people of color, and to the poor, it still exists as an equality in spite of inequality. That is, equality in spite of the actual inequality between rich and poor. The influence of the rich in the government becomes so apparent that the existing bourgeois government is abolished by the will of the proletariat.

In its place, a new prerequisite to real political democracy is declared: industrial democracy. No more shall the capitalist be entitled to what the worker produces merely by “owning” the means of production! No more shall the capitalist fund political candidates and parties to look after their own interests! From this stage onward, the working masses themselves have democratic control over what is done with the fruits of their common labor. Negative liberty is not abolished, but on the contrary, it is expanded in this stage of development. For the first time, all are guaranteed not only the fundamental rights of man and citizen, but are provided the means to realize those rights in the form of positive liberty. The rights to housing, healthcare, food, education, labor, rest and leisure, a dignified existence, etc. are declared to be absolutely fundamental human rights. This is the only possible way for “money to be separated from politics”. Only those ignorant of the way our bourgeois society functions declare the possibility of the “separation of capital and politics” without the abolition of capitalism. Because the state in this stage of development represents the overwhelming majority of society, and is the ever vanishing dictatorship of the proletariat, the next stage begins to emerge.

4: Stateless Society And The End Of Class Society, The Abolition Of Class Democracy (Communism)

But democracy as we know it, while it is certainly a democracy, is a dictatorship of one class over another. “Democracy” in the class sense of the word, becomes superfluous. With the abolition of the state, this limited notion of democracy is also abolished. In this sense, only with the coming of stateless communism, can a “fully democratic system” emerge. While this is the withering away of democracy in one sense, it is the ultimate unfolding of the pure essence of democracy in another. At this stage, class interests cease to be, for class society ceases to be.

20th Century Marxism-Leninism: “Socialist” “Democracy” Without Any Of These Prerequisites

The socialist revolutions of the 20th century took place in the most backward countries of the world. They were as far from advanced capitalist countries as one can get (excluding, of course, war torn Germany). We have to acknowledge the fact that most of these countries were in the midst of, or had yet to have, bourgeois revolutions. A bourgeois revolution can occur, and be immediately followed by the seizure of power by the proletariat. However, if the proletariat is to have not fought in vain, the revolution must spread abroad, favorably towards the advanced capitalist countries of the earth. The imperialist world wars came as a result of the fact that the internal contradictions of the most advanced capitalist countries of the world could no longer be reconciled within the confines of the nation state. Because of this, the construction of socialism, the mode of production more efficient and advanced than capitalism, cannot possibly be completed in one country alone as the Stalinists insist.

However, these prerequisites I have laid out, are not dogmas. Historical stages are not dogmas, as Trotsky points out in his history of the Russian Revolution saying,

The privilege of historic backwardness – and such a privilege exists – permits, or rather compels, the adoption of whatever is ready in advance of any specified date, skipping a whole series of intermediate stages. Savages throw away their bows and arrows for rifles all at once, without traveling the road which lay between those two weapons in the past.”

The October Revolution was a permanent revolution, but it ceased its permanent character when the fervent pursuit of international revolution was abandoned and the Stalinist bureaucracy took power.

The socialist states of the 20th century, while basing themselves on Stalinism, decided to ‘skip over’ the advanced capitalist phase of development. While this was no doubt difficult, it was theoretically possible. With Trotsky’s genius idea of rapid industrialization, a plan implemented under Stalin, it was thought that these socialist states could emulate the capitalist stage of development without having to pass through it. But a crucial element is missing from this formula: democracy, or more specifically, the necessary prerequisites of even bourgeois democracy. So this system, by the way, was not socialist! Of course, one of the aims of this rapid industrialization was to establish the necessary prerequisites to democracy (Industrial development, literacy, education, etc.). And it no doubt succeeded in this regard. Illiteracy was abolished in the Stalinist countries, industrial output quintupled, life expectance was doubled, education was mandatory, healthcare was free for all, and other positive liberties were expanded exponentially. However, under Stalinism in these previously semi-feudal, now degenerated workers states, the negative liberty that develops naturally under capitalism was missing entirely. This negative liberty is not only a necessary prerequisite to bourgeois democracy, but to socialist democracy as well!

Socialism without negative liberty, is therefore impossible, for democracy without negative liberty is impossible. Since socialism without democracy is impossible, we cannot call those Stalinist countries that lacked negative liberty socialist, or anything other than degenerated or deformer workers states.

This is one of the key reasons why Stalinism failed. While these countries did not naturally undergo a bourgeois stage of development, and they did try to emulate the industrial and social development that comes with it, they did not emulate the exponential expansion of negative liberty that occurs under capitalism. What we were left with, is a country with positive liberty, but no negative liberty. This contradiction, as we know, was reversed entirely in 1991. The positive liberty in the former Stalinist countries was abolished in its entirety and replaced with negative liberty alone. Life expectancy dropped some 10 years in Russia, homelessness returned, and all the social ills of capitalism.

I have quoted it perhaps too often in my articles, but I hope the reader will forgive me if I quote again from Marxists Internet Archive’s encyclopedia:

In hitherto existing Socialist states, like the Soviet Union and China, “negative freedoms” were severely restricted, while “positive freedoms” were advanced. All people had universal access to health care, full university education, etc, but people could only use those things they had in a particular way – in support of the government. In the most advanced capitalist governments, this relationship is the other way around: “positive freedoms” are restricted or do not exist all together, while “negative freedoms” are more advanced than ever before. A worker in capitalist society has the freedom to say whatever she believes, but she does not have the freedom to live if crippled by a disease regardless of how much money she has. A socialist society that has been established from a capitalist society will strengthen “negative freedoms”, while ushering in real “positive freedoms” across the board, ensuring equal and free access to social services by all.

The fullest development of positive freedom is impossible however without a further development of negative freedom – people cannot be forced to be free.”

https://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/f/r.htm#freedom 

We have never had a socialist revolution in an advanced capitalist country. When we do, the contradiction mentioned here will cease to be, and a free society such as the one mentioned above, will inevitably come about in a developed society that already enjoys negative liberty.

Onward, the historical dialectic unfolds.



Ecological Catastrophe: The Global Superstate That May Become Necessary For Our Survival




November 23, 2017


In most of the developed world, denial of climate change is on par with denying the moon landing, the theory of evolution, or the fact that the earth is round. In America however, in the heart of world imperialism, climate change and science denial is extremely common. So common in fact, that the current President of The United States, billionaire capitalist Donald Trump, is a known climate change denier. His policies such as stripping the EPA (environmental protection agency) of funds necessary for it to function, and the American withdrawal of the Paris Agreement, are evidence of this fact.

It is well known that the fossil fuel industry, one of the leading polluting industries in the world, is in the pockets of U.S. politicians and (often debunked) scientists who promote the idea of the “climate change hoax”. We see the same thing today in America with climate change denial as we saw several decades ago when it was still widely disputed that tobacco was addictive or caused cancer. No honest climate scientist denies that climate change is happening, nor do they deny that tobacco is addictive/ causes cancer. Many scientists believe we are past the point of no return, that with rising sea levels hundreds of millions of people are going to be displaced from their homes, and this is only the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended).

One Possible Future 

What I fear may eventually become essential, for the long term survival of the human species, is the pursuit of the long term survival of the human race by any means necessary. Of course, this implies a planned economy on a global scale, but more than that, maybe even a one-party state to enforce reforestation programs, the transfer to 100% renewable energy, ecological friendly industrialization, and programs for our long term survival above all else.

If we truly have passed the point of no return, then material comfort and luxury are superfluous for this entire generation, and perhaps even the one to follow our own. When this becomes the case, in the not too distant future (assuming capitalism continues), the only thing that will matter is minimizing the damage to such an extent that our great great grandchildren can have a planet to call home.

Scientific investigation, economic planning, and skepticism alone would be the guide for this monstrous superstate. To drive a gasoline car would eventually become illegal as green alternatives emerged. Massive amounts of money would go into educating a generation of scientists, finding alternative energy sources such as cold fusion, getting people to Mars, etc. This is not an ideal place to live, make no mistake. I pray to God such a thing would never, ever become necessary. I hope we never mess things up to such an extent. But I can easily imagine a world in which we have. I can envision a global state mechanism, or possibly inter-state mechanism, that enforces these aims by terror and fear alone, but doing so in such a way that the overwhelming majority recognize its necessity.

The Ideal Solution 

To prevent either the eventual global totalitarian pursuit of the long term survival of the human species, or its annihilation under capitalism, an inter-state power is necessary, but the sooner this happens, the less likely such extreme measures, such as terror and authoritarianism, will become. To truly regulate and eventually abolish pollution, the state power of one country alone is simply not enough. This is a global crisis, it requires therefore, a global solution. All country’s on the earth should be held to a predetermined environmental standard set by scientists, the violation of which, necessitates a total and immediate economic embargo on the country in question by all the country’s of the earth until the crisis is resolved, or, in extreme circumstances, war and the overthrow of that country’s government, a measure which is, by the way, a violation of that nations right to self-determination, but a necessary one. In this way, we could see a world relying on 100% renewable energy, the emergence of massive reforestation programs on a global scale, industrialization of less developed country’s along ecological friendly lines, and eventually a planned economy on a global scale. The idea of such a system existing under capitalism is utopian, but the frameworks for such a system have already been laid in international organizations such as the United Nations under capitalism. Only a democratically planned economy, along with inter-state cooperation on a global scale, can ensure the abolition of the continual man-made destruction of our planet, and the long term survival of the human species as a whole.

The Internet is Humanity’s Best Achievement: Let Us Use It To Better Ourselves

November 1, 2017


I think the internet was humanity’s best achievement thus far. All other innovations pale in comparison. All of human knowledge is now knowable instantaneously. Never before was this possible in any previous epoch. We are all connected to one another through this medium of communication and anonymous exchange.


Let us preserve this great achievement and protect it from all governments and private interests who wish to control, censor, or profit off of it. The internet is mine as it is yours. It belongs to all of us, not to any one individual. All of us have the right to freely add to and take from it, and to hopefully use it to improve ourselves and the rest of humanity.


The internet is often something we take for granted. In the past people had to go to the library to learn about something. Now we just press a few keys and buttons and the whole of human knowledge is before our eyes, in an instant. I often say that ‘books are thought traps’. They are something sacred. You think a thought and it disappears, you tell it to another and they forget. But if you write it down and publish it, there it is on the pages for aeons and aeons after your death. The internet is like this but on a much grander scale. What is done on the internet cannot be undone, but it’s so big that it doesn’t really matter.


It is potentially the most dangerous weapon, the most toxic poison if we are not careful. But conversely, it is potentially the saving grace of humanity, a tool to exponentially increase human innovation and growth, a tool saturated in the optimism of progress. Let us take this tool and use it to better ourselves and the lives of those around us. In the name of knowledge let us demand the barriers on human thought be lifted and made free to all. Truly we are living in a remarkable age.


Atheism and Trotskyism: Both Negations of certain Ideology’s, Both Attacked For Similar Reasons



October 29, 2017


Atheism is the negation of religion. Trotskyism is Marxism and Leninism with the negation of “Marxism-Leninism”, i.e., Stalinism. Both atheism and Trotskyism are defined by the fundamental negation of an aspect considered “normal” of the thing of which they are a part of, i.e. theology or Leninism (Marxism in the era of imperialism).


This negation is precisely what makes people uncomfortable, because it is a the negation of what many consider to be a fundamental aspect of the thing, and this is what what defines the ideology in question, i.e., the negation.


But many atheists would consider the ideological negation of religion in the fields of reason and morality a fundamental aspect of these fields, as a necessary negation due to the immorality of religious fundamentalism, the illogic of faith, etc, etc. While some may not agree, this is the view of the atheist, and this position is not taken up without reason (no pun intended).


Similarly, a comparison can be made with Trotskyism. Trotskyists agree with the necessity of Leninism, i.e. Marxism in the age of imperialism, i.e. the contributions to Marxist thought made by Lenin. They defend the genuinely democratic gains of the Russian Revolution. However, the negation is found with Lenin’s successor, Stalin, and all the ideological extensions of Marxism-Leninism after Stalin (Maoism, Hoxhaism, Juche, etc.). It is found with the theory of “socialism in one country” as opposed to “permanent revolution”, and the international character of the socialist revolution.


Furthermore, Trotskyism is a criticism of Marxism-Leninism, it is a fundamental characteristic of Trotskyism as such. Atheism is a criticism of religion, it is a fundamental characteristic of atheism as such. Many theists hate atheism, and many Marxist-Leninists hate Trotskyism for the same reasons: both criticize a larger ideology, of which they are but a negation. Both theists and Marxist-Leninists promote the intentional obfuscation of the ideology that presents itself as a criticism of their own ideology. I.e. “atheists are inherently immoral” or “Trotskyists don’t want people in third world countries to make revolution and they want them to just ‘wait’ for international revolution abroad and suffer under the yoke of imperialism in the mean time”. In reality, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. These are baseless ideological attacks that serve an obvious end: the hostility to criticism and the avoidance of it at all costs.


In the wake of rising religious extremism, fundamentalism in schools, the fact that 40% of Americans think the earth is less than 10,000 years old and don’t believe in evolution, etc, etc, I think it is safe to say that, even as a follower of Liberation Theology, that atheistic criticisms of our society today are warranted. In the wake of the “fall of communism” in 1989-1991, the inherent lack of democracy (the ‘democratic’ aspect of democratic centralism) in the Marxist-Leninist states, the lack of any real substantial negative liberty’s for the people of those country’s, the failure of the universal applicability of the theory of “socialism in one country” (see DPRK’s economy today, or any other Marxist-Leninist autarky in the 20th century), and the overwhelmingly disastrous fall of the Marxist-Leninist world, I think it is safe to say that criticism is warranted.


Trotskyism represents itself as a socially revolutionary criticism of capitalism and imperialism, as well as a politically revolutionary criticism of Stalinism. It is not an attribute of imperialism because it sees imperialism, not Stalinism, as it’s number one enemy. When the USSR fell, Trotskyists united to rally behind and defend the Cuban Revolution, to attack Yeltsin’s counter-revolution in Russia. When the USSR fell, the overwhelming number of genuine Trotskyists were on the side of the working people, against imperialism and the introduction of capitalism in Soviet society (note I say genuine Trotskyists, not organizations like the ISO). It’s hostility towards imperialism and capitalism are inherent, it’s criticism of Stalinism, therefore, is as should be self-evident, a Marxist one.

Trotskyism Today and What Needs To Be Done 


In the period between the fall of the USSR and the coming socialist revolution that will inevitably spring from the coming automation revolution, there is the manifestation of a ‘post-ideological’ ideology, an intangible ideology which claims to reject ideology itself. Revolts are happening around the world without any real ideological basis. Post-modernist ideology has made any all encompassing ideology seem superfluous and meaningless, Marxism included. In this desperate atmosphere, the last thing we need is the entire political left consisting of anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists who have learned virtually nothing from the 20th century, except for the fact that “revising and reforming Stalinism caused the collapse of socialism”, that, and, social-democrats who think that capitalism can merely be reformed or given a “human face”, that we need a “balance of both sides”.


The only way out of this ideological crisis is through a clear, concise, Marxist criticism of the failures of Stalinism, and a radical movement that challenges the framework of global capitalism from a Marxist, yet anti-Stalinist position. We need a revolution, to put it simply. We need a revolution that takes Leninism from ‘The State and Revolution’, not the Leninism that emerged from the conditions of 1920’s Russia. We need a revolution that seeks not merely to rapidly industrialize this or that underdeveloped country, but a revolution in an already advanced capitalist country, one inside the beating heart of world imperialism itself.


Such a revolution, where the prerequisites of democracy and socialism are already in place, makes the bureaucratization of the state, the one-party system, indefinite restriction of negative freedoms in the post-revolutionary period, and the necessity of “strengthening the people’s state power” constantly, etc, superfluous. A revolution in the U.S., for instance, would cause Mexico and Canada to join the new United States of North and South America like “iron filings attracted to a magnet”, as Trotsky put it. International revolution would become a reality, the Marxist theory mentioned in ‘The State and Revolution’ would become a reality, and the state would begin to wither away as it never even began to in the Soviet Union.


To break the chains of this post-ideological age, fierce Marxist criticism of the past is essential. From this criticism, comes revolution, from this revolution, comes a third red scare, the smashing of post-modernism, and inevitably, world socialist revolution. All of this begins with the negation of Marxism-Leninism (Stalinism) from Leninism, i.e. Trotskyism, just as the criticism of religion begins with its negation, i.e. atheism.


Why The Liberal “Cultural Revolution” Against Racism Is Doomed To Fail



October 26, 2017


Going on today is what I see as an unofficial, disorganized, and very liberal “cultural revolution” that, while recognizing the racist nature of our society, is not addressing the institutional roots of the problem. On the contrary, is individualistically and idealistically slandering individuals and commodities for taking part in a system of which, they too, are an intrinsic and fundamental part of. The remedy to racism in our society lay in either regressing into even stronger idealism (i.e. conservatism, denying there is even a problem), or, in actually addressing the institutionally racist superstructure, and, most essentially, it’s economic base: capitalism.

A key component of liberalism is the defense of the prevailing socioeconomic system (capitalism). To be critical of capitalism while still wanting to “reform” it is to still be a camp of liberalism. But to be critical of it enough to want its replacement with a more just, democratic, efficient, and humane economic system transcends liberalism and its idealistic limitations. It then goes into the camp of materialism. The democratic party, by its very nature, is incapable of this transcendence. And so long as the two-party system exists, the root of the problem will exist and remain unchallenged. So long as this is the case, any attempts at “eliminating and exposing racism” will ultimately fail in the long run. We see today the failures of the “formal” declarations of racial equality that emerged purely as concessions from the ruling class due to the civil rights movement.


Liberalism identifies individuals as the root of society’s problems, and not the social and economic forces that shape the individual into the person they ultimately become. As such, it is more concerned with attacking certain individuals or even commodities who are (correctly or incorrectly) labeled as racist, than with addressing the system that institutionally creates, shapes, and maintains this racist hegemony in our society that keeps racial minorities in de facto bondage and produces those who end up promoting racist views. Liberalism cuts the weeds instead of killing the seeds that produce the weeds. This is why the good intentioned witch hunt for racism on the liberal left is ultimately doomed to failure, because it tries to destroy racism solely on an individual, and not an institutional basis.

Engels explains the de jure declarations of equality in bourgeois society quite well saying,

Equality is set aside again by restraining it to a mere “equality before the law”, which means equality in spite of the inequality of rich and poor — equality within the limits of the chief inequality existing—which means, in short, nothing else but giving inequality the name of equality.” (Collected Works Volume 6, p. 28-29).

Inequality becomes equality in bourgeois society, just like slavery becomes freedom, ignorance becomes strength, and war becomes peace. The solutions to these grave social ills lay solely outside of the prevailing socioeconomic system, if it were not so, this writing would have long since become unnecessary. It should be self-evident by now that the conclusion Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Huey P. Newton all came to is correct: the problem of racism cannot be solved until capitalism is abolished.


The Existence of Homelessness in America Today is a Crime Against Humanity!


October 25, 2017


Any elected official with any real power that does not make the abolition of homelessness a concrete goal is guilty of crimes against humanity in my eyes. At present, that is almost every elected official, republican or democrat, in the country. When you give food to the homeless do not be fooled for one second into thinking that you are doing a “good deed”, on the contrary, you are doing what society should have been doing all along. By merely allowing homelessness to exist, our entire society is guilty of unspeakable crimes against humanity.


In honestly investigating the root of this problem, one can come to only one conclusion: our capitalist order has to die so that humanity may live. We need abolitionists for homelessness just as we needed abolitionists of slavery 200 years ago. It is an unspeakable atrocity that we can de facto force people to go sleep outside in the cold, to have to dig through the trash for food, to be barred from entering stores like animals. We have so many homeless people, and even more empty homes. Why is this? Because capitalism values the exchange values of commodities instead of its actual use value. In a word, it values profit over human needs.


It cannot be reformed to be “more humane”, you cannot have “capitalism with a human face”, it can, will and inevitably must be abolished and replaced with the introduction of industrial democracy, the abolition of private property, the abolition of the production merely of exchange value and its replacement with production explicitly for use value. There is no other way to permanently abolish this grave social evil. It’s continuation in even the most advanced countries is an abomination, a stain on humanity, and on our history. We are not civilized, we are barbarians so long as we continue these crimes!


To quote Hélder Câmara, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.” This is the view we must take, it is not enough to give food to the poor. Hunger itself must be abolished. It is not enough to feed or give money to the homeless, to volunteer at a homeless shelter. Homelessness itself must be abolished. This is not some utopian dream. We know we have the productive capacity as a society to do this 5 times over, but the ruling class consciously or unconsciously, chooses not to.


Homelessness is an act of class war, and the response we should take to it must be an act of class war as well. This time, not against the helpless poor but against the super rich, against the slumlords, against those who own empty homes and apartments and allow them to deteriorate. But even still we must go even further, we must eradicate the very root of the problem: capitalism. There is a very real class war in America, and currently that war is being waged almost exclusively by the bourgeoisie, not even our billionaires deny this fact! To quote my fried, comrade, and fellow blogger Christian Chiakulas (who’s blog you can find here):

In a world that produces enough food to feed each and every one of us, starvation is violence.  In a society where vacant houses outnumber homeless people six to one, homelessness is violence.  A country in which health insurance companies rake in billions in profits while leaving nearly thirty million people uninsured and unable to access medical care is a violent society.

This is the everyday violence of capitalism – if it is profitable to let somebody die, or languish in abject poverty, we do so.  That is a violent society.”


History will not remember our current society well. In the history books, the pages of early 21st century America will be filled with pictures of the homeless, the poor, those who could not afford healthcare, our imperialist wars, and the minorities who fought and died for real social equality. I would bet that such pages will also include the acknowledgement of the absurdity of the capitalist system, its inability to address these social ills, and the barbarity of our modern bourgeois society.


History is in our hands. We must do our duty according to our lights, to the lights of reason and compassion, and leave the final verdict to God and to history.


Religion and Socialism: A New Answer To The Religious Question




October 25, 2017


Religion and Socialism: A New Answer To The Religious Question

The Russian Revolution

In 1917 a revolution in Russia erupted that shook the very foundation of the new world. Democracy up to that point had been the democracy of the property owning minority to the exclusion of the toiling masses, who hitherto had made up the overwhelming majority of human civilization. The concept of democracy according to the ancient Greeks, and consequently the democracy of America, was turned on its head into a democracy of the 99%, of the workers and peasants, to the exclusion of the property holding minority. It represented therefore an inversion of the dictatorship of the rich ruling class (the bourgeoisie) through bourgeois democracy, and its conversion into a dictatorship of the majority of society, of the workers and peasants through proletarian democracy.

At the same time, the revolution sought to establish a "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" in accordance with the principles of Marxism, in a society that had not yet undergone an advanced level of capitalist development. This is an issue not only because a certain level of material abundance, education, and advancement are necessary for any democracy (socialist or capitalist) to even exist, but also because the industrial proletariat is a majority only in advanced capitalist societies. In Russia the overwhelming majority constituted the peasantry, the proletariat was a minority, and moreover an extremely backward and impoverished minority. Whereas in an advanced capitalist society the dawning of a "dictatorship of the proletariat" to supplement the existing "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" would mean the transference of power into the hands of a cultured, advanced, majority, in Russia this meant the transfer of power into a minority. This in addition to the extremely underdeveloped nature of industry, meant that socialist rule in Russia could only be a dictatorship in the political sense of the word. Without foreign aid the struggle would be a hundred times as terrible, the resistance on account of the propertied classes a hundred times as great. Without aid from abroad in modernizing the country, the early hopes of a genuinely free and democratic society would be crushed, and the revolution lost. This is why the early Bolsheviks believed the only hope, the only salvation for Russian socialism lay in spreading socialist revolution abroad.

In early Soviet Russia, women were, for the first time in world history, given full political and economic equality. Racism was prohibited and lost its institutional basis. Homosexuality was decriminalized and the Bolsheviks initially sought direct workers control of industry until the extremely backward state of Russian capitalism made socialist industrial democracy, and labor conscription through a form of state-capitalism necessary. Immediately after the revolution, 16 imperialist countries invaded the young Soviet Republic, waging a bloody civil war with the fervent monarchist, anti-semitic, and reactionary white army. This invasion was supported by the former ruling class, the landowners and capitalists. It was supported by the Russian Orthodox Church, an institution that had taught the Russian people to revere the Tsar as a saint, to blindly follow him into battle against other working people in whatever imperialist war he wished to wage at their expense.

Most socialists and Marxists were shocked at dawning of the October revolution, according to Marxism the first socialist revolutions ought to happen in the most advanced capitalist countries first, at the end of capitalist development. Instead the opposite happened, in a backward country where 65% to 80% of the population could not read! While not in conformity with Orthodox Marxian theory up to that time, it is nonetheless said by Marxists that an ounce of action is worth a ton of theory. The imperialist expansion of the most advanced capitalist economies in the world, ultimately culminating in the first World War, was largely the cause of the Russian Revolutions surprising emergence in world history.

The Civil War period forced upon the Bolsheviks a necessary policy of Red Terror against the White Terror, a reinvented form of Jacobinism to defend the gains of the revolution. The attacks on the Bolsheviks from other parties, even socialist ones, in these conditions, led to the eventual formation of a one-party socialist state, a system never mentioned in the writings of Marx, Engels nor Lenin. Though tragic, it emerged as a historical necessity to defend the Russian Revolution from its enemies.

The success of the revolution depended entirely upon revolution on the international scale, a fact often stressed by Lenin, Trotsky, and even Stalin in those early years. Many fought and died for this cause, but unfortunately the Bolshevik’s salvation never came. For a time socialist revolutions and Soviet republics though, did spring up all over old Europe. The Free Socialist Republic of Germany was founded for a small period of time, in the most advanced capitalist country in the world, on radically democratic and libertarian grounds. Needless to say had Germany succeeded in overthrowing capitalism, Hitler never would have come to power, and moreover when speaking of this period the Russian Revolution would have been but a minor footnote. Instead we would speak of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, and the ideas of socialism and communism as radically anti-authoritarian, libertarian, and democratic. The imperialist war that led to the revolution was a result of the fact that the contradictions of the economic system of capitalism, the internal contradictions brought about by a market economy could no longer be reconciled within a nation state. It was long thought that socialism, a system more advanced than capitalism, could also only be achieved as an economic system on an international scale, the advent of imperialism furthered this reasoning. When Lenin died and international revolution never happened there was a split in the communist movement, a split between Trotsky and Stalin. Stalin and Bukharin advocated a theory of Socialism in one country, while Trotsky advocated a theory of Permanent Revolution.

Trotsky was exiled by Stalin in 1927 and was eventually murdered by one of Stalin’s agents in 1940. Trotsky believed that the Russian Revolution had been lost under the Stalinist bureaucracy, that it had become undemocratic, despotic, and that it had betrayed the revolution. Stalin on the other hand believed that he had only done what was necessary to keep Russia together under the socialist cause. After WW2 a whole series of liberated countries from fascist Germany and Italy set up systems mirrored not on the 1917 revolution, but on Stalin’s Russia. Stalinism was their political foundation and the once liberated people's were subjected to a totalitarian nightmare in some ways worse than their former fascist oppressors. All of these countries with the exception of former Yugoslavia, starting in 1917, were led by parties that waged a relentless struggle against religious belief.

However, herein lies the most interesting facet of this historical examination: the early Bolsheviks and the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party from which the Bolsheviks formed, were up until the Russian Revolution wholly unique in their extremely anti-religious attitude. The overwhelming majority of socialist parties were not dogmatically atheistic, espousing the personal religious views of Karl Marx, but regarded religious belief as fully compatible with socialist politics. It is my proposition that the anti-religious attitudes of the Bolsheviks over-emphasized the atheistic ideas of Karl Marx as a fundamental aspect of socialist politics due largely to the material backwardness of Russia. Semi-feudal Russia by all accounts, held back for hundreds of years due to the influence of religion. Religion was used as a weapon of the ruling class in a way far more severe and terrible than in any advanced capitalist country. The extremely anti-religious attitudes of the Bolsheviks in that regard is understandable, however it is not a product of a workers party in an advanced capitalist country, but rather of a workers party in an extremely poor semi-feudal one. Thus we can say that the militant atheism of Bolshevism has its origins not in capitalist development, but in the remnants of feudalism.

Such is the basis of my criticism. In 1989-1991 the USSR, followed by the entire Eastern Bloc, fell to capitalism and what gains were won were lost. Of course those countries were, with the exception of the USSR, at that time totalitarian dictatorships. Religious persecution was one of the major reasons for the “fall of communism”, however it was not in the least the only one. In addition to Trotskyism are the profound criticisms of Rosa Luxemburg of the authoritarian methods of the Bolsheviks in the early revolution.

The Critique of Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, et al.

Historical materialism shows that religion, and organized religion in particular, has, in every epoch, acted in defense of the prevailing socioeconomic order, and every socioeconomic order since the emergence of agriculture has been fundamentally based on exploitation. 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).

While this certainly seems to be true in Lenin's time, 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, a form of Christianity that saw the material emancipation of the oppressed and exploited peoples of the world as a necessary prerequisite to Christianity. 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.

These are religious organizations and movements that share in the optimism of progress we all on the left of the political spectrum feel. This puts to bed Trotsky’s declaration in The Revolution Betrayed that

“Marxism is saturated with the optimism of progress, and that alone, by the way, makes it irreconcilably opposed to religion.” (p. 27)
Stalin was once asked the following question,
We know that some good Communists do not altogether agree with the Communist Partys demand that all new members must be atheists, because the reactionary clergy are now suppressed. Could the Communist Party in the future take a neutral attitude towards a religion [that] supported all the teachings of science and did not oppose communism? Could you in the future permit Party members to hold religious convictions if the latter did not conflict with Party loyalty?”
He answered dogmatically,
“I do not know of any ‘good Communists’ such as the delegation mentions here. It is doubtful whether any such Communists exist at all.” (Stalin, Works, p.137).
Trotsky once remarked,
“…Perhaps you intended to imply that religion is of no political importance? That it is possible to be religious and at the same time a consistent communist and revolutionary fighter? You will hardly venture so rash an assertion.” (Trotsky, In Defense of Marxism, p. 52: http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1942-dm/ch03.htm).

All of these assertions have been completely debased and put to bed by the development of liberation theology and other genuinely proletarian religious movements for the liberation of the proletariat.

Of course, one doesn't blame Copernicus for believing the sun to be the center of the universe, just as one shouldn't blame Lenin for believing that "each and every religious organization" is an instrument of reaction and bourgeois obfuscation of the proletariat. These men were limited by the historical knowledge and material conditions of human progress in their time. This does not in the least mean that Copernicus or Lenin were not wrong in their final conclusions, merely that the result of their conclusion was underdeveloped by the limits of human knowledge and world history.

In this spirit of ideological hostility to religious belief Lenin declared,

“The party of the proletariat demands that the state should declare religion a private matter, but does not regard the fight against the opium of the people, the fight against religious superstitions, etc., as a ‘private matter’. The opportunists distort the question to mean that the Social-Democratic Party regards religion as a private matter!”(ibid. 410)
Of course, this proclamation directly contradicts the proclamation of German communist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg when she said,
“Social-Democracy in no way fights against religious beliefs. On the contrary, it demands complete freedom of conscience for every individual and the widest possible toleration for every faith and every opinion. But, from the moment when the priests use the pulpit as a means of political struggle against the working classes, the workers must fight against the enemies of their rights and their liberation. For he who defends the exploiters and who helps to prolong this present regime of misery, he is the mortal enemy of the proletariat, whether he be in a cassock or in the uniform of the police.”(https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1905/misc/socialism-churches.htm)
Not even Marx declared that atheism should be an essential policy of a workers party. When the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy proposed as rule number 1 of its program,
“The Alliance declares itself atheist; it wants abolition of cults, substitution of science for faith, and human justice for divine justice.”
Marx replied in a side note,
“As if one could declareby decreethe abolition of faith!” (Marx Engels Collected Works, Volume 21 p. 208).
In the Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith, Engels says,
“All religions so far have been the expression of historical stages of development of individual peoples or groups of peoples. But communism is the stage of historical development which makes all existing religions superfluous* and brings about their disappearance.” .( https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/06/09.htm).
This is in conformity with the Marxist interpretation of religion as the opium of the people, as religion (the tool for the oppressed worker) is no longer needed when the oppression of the worker ceases to be. The word Engels uses here is superfluous, not abolished by force, not something that comes about by “convincing the masses ideologically”, not something that is established as a prerequisite to communism, but as something that comes about with communism. All this rests though, on the Marxist theory that religion is solely an expression of socioeconomic conditions, is solely “the opium of the people”. Marx also once remarked,
“Communism begins from the outset (Owen) with atheism; but atheism is at first far from being communism; indeed, that atheism is still mostly an abstraction.” (https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/comm.htm)
But even with this Marx is describing communism in the abstract, not in the concrete as a socioeconomic system.

Marx’s interpretation of communism is, no doubt, atheistic. However would it not befuddle the worker to proclaim Marx a prophet? As someone who’s vision of communism was to be carried out exactly as Marx envisioned? Would it not be rash to consider the ideology of the proletariat in the 21st century to be exactly Marx’s ideology with no historical context? Is it revisionist to make such a claim? Perhaps. But it is thoroughly based on the historical context of the 20th century and the material conditions of the 21st.

Marx’s famous quote about religion has been grotesquely misinterpreted by Stalinists and idealistically by “new atheists” alike. To quote it in full,

“It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.” (https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/critique-hpr/intro.htm)

Truly this is a beautiful quote by Marx, but let us first analyze what Marx is saying. Religion as it is portrayed in this way is a false light in a world of darkness. Marx is calling on its abolition “as the illusory happiness of the people”. He is calling on the abolition of the “conditions that require illusions”. He is not merely attacking religious ideas as illusions as such, but he is calling for their abolition as they manifest themselves as an illusory happiness.

Can anyone who is sincerely religious say they want their religious convictions to be merely a tool for people to achieve illusory happiness in grotesque conditions? Can anyone sincerely religious say they want religion to merely be an opiate for people who live in oppressive conditions? Religious ethics compel one to be compassionate, and therefore compel the abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people. There is no contradiction here. It was once alleged correctly that Mother Teresa was “a friend of poverty, not of the poor”. Is this what a “true Christian” is? Someone who takes pleasure in the religious suffering of others in order to spread their faith to the widest possible masses? Not in the least! This is an ethical betrayal of Christianity!

The Contradiction Between The Party and The State

Let us assume, for a moment, that religion should be combated directly by the party of the proletariat. Well and good then, but what happens when the party comes to power? Marx, Engels, and Lenin never once mentioned or wrote about a one-party state. It emerged in a later phase of the Russian Revolution and there is no indication that such a system was to remain permanent. If, under such a system, the party controls the state, controls the schools, and all other state, public, and social organs, how can the state be neutral on the grounds of religion and the party not be? Here there is a glaring contradiction that was never once addressed under the Stalinist system. Instead it led to the total abandonment even of Leninism, and even of this contradictory Stalinist interpretation of Leninism.

While there was no “official” state persecution, there were, still, constant anti-religious campaigns carried out by the party, de facto carried out by the state during the entire existence of the USSR and the other Marxist-Leninist states. In Stalinist Albania, this contradiction eventually led to the abolition of freedom of religion entirely! All religion was made illegal in 1967, over 2000 (the total number of) churches and mosques were closed down by the state in a matter of months. It was an action carried out in total violation of even Marxist-Leninist principles as a result of this contradiction. Even the British-Albanian Friendship Association (an anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist organization if there ever was one) distributed a lengthy document labeled "Discussion Document Only - Not for Publication" within its ranks (because it did not want to damage the image of Stalinist Albania) that wholly condemned Hoxha’s anti-religious campaign. It did not in the least point out or even acknowledge this contradiction, but instead blamed it on “hidden revisionists who - by taking advantage of the 'cult of personality' built up around Hoxha - sought to [utilize] this sectarian action to discredit the country's Marxist-Leninist leadership around Hoxha as part of a broader aim of reversing the construction of socialism in Albania” in the typical Hoxhaist bunker mentality of Stalinist anti-revisionism.

The conclusion of the entire lengthy British-Albanian Friendship Association’s analysis is as follows:

In the context of the anti-religious struggle carried out in socialist Albania, the closure of its religious institutions in 1966-67 had been:

1) in violation of Marxist-Leninist principles;

2) in violation of the Constitution of the PR of Albania;

3) not in compliance with Albania's international obligations as a UN member;

4) an action embodying certain features of the 'cultural revolution' which was simultaneously proceeding in China;

5) an action which must have alienated to some extent religious believers within Albania who might otherwise have been full supporters of the socialist regime;

6) an action which assisted international anti-socialist propaganda;

7) an action which alienated to some extent religious believers who might otherwise have been [favorably] disposed towards socialist Albania;

8) an action which held back to some extent the international Marxist-Leninist movement, of which socialist Albania had been the sole citadel during the sixties, seventies, and eighties, by presenting the image of a state which arbitrarily permits the violation of its constitutional rights, and by alienating to some extent religious believers who might otherwise have been firm supporters of the movement;

9) not initiated by the leading group in the party and state around the PLA First Secretary, Hoxha;

10) initiated by an [organized] and influential group of hidden revisionists who - by taking advantage of the 'cult of personality' built up around Hoxha - sought to [utilize] this sectarian action to discredit the country's Marxist-Leninist leadership around Hoxha as part of a broader aim of reversing the construction of socialism in Albania.”

Even the British-Albanian Friendship Association admitted religious people would have fully supported the government had it not carried out these policies. Dare we not go a step further and say that the Leninist attitude towards religion in general alienated the people who resided in Leninist Russia, the later USSR, and other Marxist-Leninists states to such an extent that it was a major contributing factor in the “fall of communism” in the USSR and Eastern Europe? We have already established that Lenin’s view of religion as being something that, “in every instance”, opposes the liberation of the proletariat to be a wrong interpretation in light of modern conditions. This was his entire basis for his opposition to religion as such, next to, of course, his Marxist interpretation of materialist philosophy.

Materialism

How did Lenin regard materialism? Lenin said, “Marxism is materialism. As such, it is as relentlessly hostile to religion as was the materialism of the eighteenth- century Encyclopaedists or the materialism of Feuerbach.” (Lenin, Collected Works Volume 15, p. 405). Lunacharsky, yes the same Bolshevik who in 1918 held a mock trial and execution of God himself, in his earlier years was a leading proponent of the “God Builder” faction of the Bolshevik Party. Though he wanted to create a “new secular religion” to replace the old, he held that the workers party should be agnostic, that true materialism is agnostic and not atheistic as the existence or non-existence of God was not an obviously apparent. He said:

"From the socialist point of view, the attitude of the proletarian movement toward religious organizations is built on the basis of their positions in the class struggle. Socialism looks at religious movements from the point of view of the common good, as well as physical, moral and mental development, which implies the following:

1. Socialism is fighting against religious superstitions and prejudices based on empirical knowledge of objective and subjective science. 2. Socialism is fighting against the religious intellectuals serving the bourgeoisie, just as with the secular intellectuals supporting the bourgeoisie. 3. Socialism is alien to militant atheism, based on opposing prejudice and violence against people. 4. Socialist freedom also implies freedom of religion and an independent search for the truth for every person. 5. Socialism cannot dogmatically hold any one position on the statements 'God is' or 'There is no God', and takes a position of agnosticism or 'open possibilities'. 6. Socialism unites secular and religious ideological groups in the struggle for the proletariat. Any action aiming to merge socialism with religious fanaticism, or militant atheism, are actions aimed at splitting the proletarian class and have the formula of “divide and rule”, which plays into the hands of bourgeois dictatorship." (Anatoly Lunacharsky. Religion and Socialism, Moscow (1908))

There is an obvious contradiction in views here as well between the views of Lunacharsky and Lenin. Though Lunacharsky eventually came around to the Leninist view of religion in the years of the revolution, we cannot dismiss his earlier writings. What is the interpretation of materialism according to James Connolly? Connolly said,

“Modern Socialism, in fact, as it exists in the minds of its leading exponents, and as it is held and worked for by an increasing number of enthusiastic adherents throughout the [civilized] world, has an essentially material, matter-of-fact foundation. We do not mean that its supporters are necessarily materialists in the vulgar, and merely anti-theological, sense of the term, but that they do not base their Socialism upon any interpretation of the language or meaning of Scripture, nor upon the real or supposed intentions of a beneficent Deity. They as a party neither affirm or deny those things, but leave it to the individual conscience of each member to determine what beliefs on such questions they shall hold.”
It should suffice, then, that socialists have a materialist interpretation of history, view the world through the lens of materialist dialectics in which “God” is not a variable for change, but on the question of personal belief and conscience in regards to religious belief, it should never compel a fighting socialist to abandon their religious convictions or, as a party, to spread “anti-religious propaganda”.

A New Historical Materialist Approach To The Question

Religion has, in all previous epochs, defended the prevailing socioeconomic system. If we take into account only Asiatic, slave, feudal, and capitalist society we can say that religion has always stood for exploitation and oppression because of its defensive attitude towards the prevailing socioeconomic system. But if we consider for a moment that the ethics of every single religion today are irrevocably hostile to capitalist “ethics”, and are in total sync with the ethics of socialism, why should we assume that organized religious institutions and religion in general would not support a socialist world order? We have no reason to believe that it would as an eventuality. Initially, as always, many if not most religious institutions are undoubtedly reactionary in nature and would initially be hostile to social change. This necessitates an ideological battle against these institutions not on the basis of their being religious as such, but on the basis of them being bourgeois. The exposure of the hostility of these institutions towards a system no doubt resembling that of the early apostles, no doubt in line with the ethics of most every religious doctrine, would cause a massive reformation of religion as it exists today. It would, no doubt, cause new and reformed religious institutions to mercilessly defend socialism. To quote St. Paisios of Mt. Athos,

“Personally, if the communists weren’t atheist, if they didn’t hunt Christ, I would agree with them. It’s good for the plots of land, the factories, to belong to everyone; not for one to be hungry while someone else is throwing away food.”

In this regard, Lenin’s declared official hostility of the Bolsheviks to religion as such, and not to its bourgeois character in the (then) present epoch, actually worked against the cause of socialism. For the religious institutions of Russia, or any other country for that matter, would never, and never did support a militantly atheistic socialist system. This actually led to the fall of Marxism-Leninism in the 20th century. Pope John Paul II’s speech in Poland is widely regarded as the speech that inspired the workers of Poland to finally destroy the Stalinist system, and with that, the first domino in the Eastern Bloc fell. It played directly into the hands of world imperialism and reaction. It was the reason the U.S. added “In God We Trust” to currency as a reaction to Stalinist atheism!

Making the struggle against religion a “natural and indispensable part of scientific socialism” was one of the biggest contributing factors in the fall of Marxism-Leninism in Russian and Eastern Europe. I say that not with any desire whatsoever to rehabilitate the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, which in my view has its place only in history books and in the memory of modern socialism. Its dogmatic approach to the religious question alienated the majority of the population and made both believers and the church institutions themselves wage a now hidden, now open ideological fight against the communists, a fight that could have ended either in the utopian abolition of religion under socialism at large, or in the destruction of the Marxist-Leninist system as a whole. History, as we know now, unfolded upon the latter.

What should have been something in conformity with the ethics of all the major religions was turned into something militantly hostile to religious belief. The socioeconomic base of the Marxist-Leninist system lacked the justification and support it had from religious institutions under the asiatic, slave, feudal, and capitalist modes of production and their natural socio-political counterparts. The religious institutions were reactionary because they were capitalist under capitalism. They only remained capitalist because the new socioeconomic order would never allow them to exist freely in society without hinderance, constant ideological war, and persecution.

Conclusion

What, then, should the policy of the workers party be towards religion? It should, as Rosa Luxemburg said,

“in no way [fight] against religious beliefs”,
on the contrary, it must
“[demand] complete freedom of conscience for every individual and the widest possible toleration for every faith and every opinion. But, from the moment when the priests use the pulpit as a means of political struggle against the working classes, the workers must fight against the enemies of their rights and their liberation. For he who defends the exploiters and who helps to prolong this present regime of misery, he is the mortal enemy of the proletariat, whether he be in a cassock or in the uniform of the police.”

Religion always justifies and endorses the existing social order, even if it is intrinsically opposed to the principles of that established religion insofar as it is not fundamentally hostile to religion itself.

In regards to Russia we can say that yes, religion held back Russian society for hundreds of years, the semi-feudal state of Russia in my mind was largely to blame for the Bolsheviks anti-religious policies. It was something born in the womb of feudalism rather than an advanced capitalist society. For that reason if none other it must be rejected. So in that sense, the militant atheism of the early Bolsheviks is to a certain extent forgivable or at the very least understandable. But by the late 1980's under Gorbachev, by the time Russia had begun to become a democratic society in practice and not merely on paper, the totalitarian, rigid, and dogmatic ideas of the past had already been crystallized into the ideology of Marxism-Leninism.

Now, if by some alchemy their ideology cast off the fetters of its roots in a society based on material scarcity and semi-feudal backwardness by admitting that there is no necessary contradiction between Marxian socioeconomic views or at the very least communism and religion and religious belief, religion would over time cease to be reactionary because the social base ceased to be militantly opposed to religion as such. Just as Christian fundamentalism today, its origins in the teachings of a man who said "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven" embraces capitalism in bourgeois society, so too would Christianity under a socialism that was not explicitly anti-religious embrace socialism and endorse the progress that comes with it. Herein lies the crux of the matter.

This application of the basic philosophy of historical materialism to the social function of religion, much to my surprise, was shared almost word for word with the Irish Catholic and Marxist revolutionary James Connolly in his 1908 article Roman Catholicism and Socialism which he published in The Harp. In it he said:

"This (Roman Catholicism and Socialism*) is the title of a pamphlet by Patrick J. Cooney of Bridgeport, Conn., which we would like to see in the hands of all our readers, and especially those who are struggling towards the light out of the economic darkness of today. To Catholics who have been repelled from socialism by the blatant and rude atheism of some of its irresponsible advocates and unfortunately the number of such Catholics is legion this book will be as refreshing as an oasis in the desert to the tired and thirsty traveller.

The author is an active Catholic and at the same time a militant socialist, and in his presentation of our socialist doctrines he never wavers in his allegiance to either. Here and there indeed his loyalty to the Church seems to betray him into statements regarding her position which to our mind would hardly stand the test of modern criticism and historical research. But we confess that in that respect his attitude is a refreshing change from that of the crudely superficial thinkers (?) and scribblers who so commonly discredit the socialist ranks by their dogmatisms on that subject. If we had to choose between the perfervid Catholicity of our author and the blatant anti-Catholicism of the men who are so fond of repelling earnest Catholics by their assertion that the great conflict of the social revolution will be between the forces of the Catholic Church and those of socialism, then we should prefer the position of Comrade Cooney as containing the highest propagandist value, as well as being, if historical precedents count for anything, the most probable to last and stand the test of time. As a matter of fact the Catholic Church always accepts the established order, even if it has warred upon those who had striven to establish such order.*

To use a homely adage the Church “does not put all her eggs in one basket,”* and the man who imagines that in the supreme hour of the proletarian struggle for victory the Church will definitely line up with the forces of capitalism, and pledge her very existence as a Church upon the hazardous chance of the capitalists winning, simply does not understand the first thing about the policy of the Church in the social or political revolutions of the past. Just as in Ireland the Church denounced every Irish revolutionary movement in its day of activity, as in 1798, 1848 and 1867, and yet allowed its priests to deliver speeches in eulogy of the active spirits of those movements a generation afterwards, so in the future the Church, which has its hand close upon the pulse of human society, when it realises that the cause of capitalism is a lost cause it will find excuse enough to allow freedom of speech and expression to those lowly priests whose socialist declarations it will then use to cover and hide the absolute anti-socialism of the Roman Propaganda. When that day comes the Papal Encyclical against socialism will be conveniently forgotten by the Papal historians, and the socialist utterances, of the von Kettelers, the McGlynns, and McGradys will be heralded forth and the communistic utterances of the early fathers as proofs of Catholic sympathy with progressive ideas. Thus it has been in the past. Thus it will be, at least attempted, in the future.* We are not concerned to champion or to deny the morality of such a cause in anticipation, we are simply attempting to read the lessons of the past into the future. And, we modestly submit, this forecast has infinitely more of probability in it than the dreams of those who tell us so glibly of a coming Armageddon between the forces of socialism and Catholicism. Such dreams are not the product of modern socialist philosophy, they are a survival from the obsolete philosophy of the days preceding the first French Revolution.

To the free-thinkers and rebels of those days and the professional free-thinkers of today have not advanced much beyond that mental stage God and the Church were nothing more than the schemes of a designing priesthood intent on enslaving and robbing the credulous masses.* Religion was a systematised business of deception and trickery invented and perpetuated by men thoroughly aware of its falsehood and baseness, and consciously laying plans to maintain and spread it for their own selfish ends. Kings and rulers of all kinds were the creation of this crafty priesthood which used them to its own purposes. That we are not in the slightest degree mistating the ideas of the times we are criticising any student of the early freethought literature will readily concede. That many otherwise excellent comrades have brought such ideas over into the camp of socialism is also undeniable. But that they are also held by an even greater number of enemies of socialism is truer still. And it is in truth in the camp of the enemy such ideas belong, such doctrines are the legitimate children of the teachings of individualism, and their first progenitors both in England and France were also the first great exponents of the capitalist doctrines of free trade and free competition, free contract and free labour. Such conceptions of religion are entirely opposed to the modern doctrine that the intellectual conceptions of men are the product of their material conditions, and flow in the grooves channelled out by [the] economic environment..."*

https://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1908/09/cathsoc.htm

James Connolly lays out the attitude any socialist party can, should and must take in his work Socialism and Religion (1899) saying,

“The Socialist Party of Ireland prohibits the discussion, of theological or anti-theological questions at its meetings, public or private. This is in conformity with the practice of the chief Socialist parties of the world, which have frequently, in Germany for example, declared Religion to be a private matter, and outside the scope of Socialist action.* Modern Socialism, in fact, as it exists in the minds of its leading exponents, and as it is held and worked for by an increasing number of enthusiastic adherents throughout the [civilized] world, has an essentially material, matter-of-fact foundation. We do not mean that its supporters are necessarily materialists in the vulgar, and merely anti-theological, sense of the term, but that they do not base their Socialism upon any interpretation of the language or meaning of Scripture, nor upon the real or supposed intentions of a beneficent Deity. They as a party neither affirm or deny those things, but leave it to the individual conscience of each member to determine what beliefs on such questions they shall hold. As a political party they wisely prefer to take their stand upon the actual phenomena of social life as they can be observed in operation amongst us [today], or as they can be traced in the recorded facts of history. If any special interpretation of the meanings of Scripture tends to influence human thought in the direction of Socialism, or is found to be on a plane with the postulates of Socialist doctrine, then the scientific Socialist considers that the said interpretation is stronger because of its identity with the teachings of Socialism, but he does not necessarily believe that Socialism is stronger, or its position more impregnable, because of its theological ally. He [realizes] that the facts upon which his Socialist faith are based are strong enough in themselves to withstand every shock, and attacks from every quarter, and therefore while he is at all times willing to accept help from every extraneous source, he will only accept it on one condition, viz., that he is not to be required in return to identify his cause with any other whose discomfiture might also involve Socialism in discredit. This is the main reason why Socialists fight shy of theological dogmas and religions generally: because we feel that Socialism is based upon a series of facts requiring only unassisted human reason to grasp and master all their details, whereas Religion of every kind is admittedly based upon ‘faith’ in the occurrence in past ages of a series of phenomena inexplicable by any process of mere human reasoning. Obviously, therefore, to identify Socialism with Religion would be to abandon at once that universal, non-sectarian character which to-day we find indispensable to working-class unity, as it would mean that our members would be required to conform to one religious creed, as well as to one specific economic faith a course of action we have no intention of entering upon as it would inevitably entangle us in the disputes of the warring sects of the world, and thus lead to the disintegration of the Socialist Party.

Socialism, as a party, bases itself upon its knowledge of facts, of economic truths, and leaves the building up of religious ideals or faiths to the outside public, or to its individual members if they so will. It is neither Freethinker nor Christian, Turk nor Jew, Buddhist nor [Idolater], [Muslim] nor Parsee it is only human.”*

(https://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1901/evangel/socrel.htm)

It is this attitude that socialism of the 21st century must take towards religious belief. It must not condone religious intolerance and religious bigotry, or anti-religious intolerance and anti-religious bigotry. As essential as the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky are to the history of the socialist movement, we must take their views into historical context, and, when they are wrong such as in the instance of the religious question, fundamentally revise them. Socialism is, after all, only human.

*My Italics or bold- TFB

Historical Materialism and Religion: A New Theory



October 24, 2018


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. 

Briefly On The Constant Existential and Moral Terror



October 20, 2018


How anyone can harm an old person, a child, or an animal escapes me. The world is filled with terror, not actual terror but emotional terror. There are laws of physics that cannot be broken, and written laws that exist only because they can be broken. The worst atrocities can take place in 3 seconds, at any time, at any place. People seem sane and calm in everyday life, then when something awful happens it is terrifying and it breaks them. But what is even more terrifying, to me, is that horrible things can happen at any time, at any place, seemingly without reason. There is no solace from this. This is, of course, merely terror caused by the physical. It is not, the ever greater terror of existence. How we aren’t in constant fear and trembling at the inevitability of death, the unknown, the possibility of atrocity, etc. is beyond me.


Against Christian Fundamentalism



October 19, 2017


45% of Americans believe the universe is less than 10,000 years old. How did we get here? I had thought most everyone accepted the big bang theory and the theory of evolution as a scientific fact. This statistic terrifies me. If you make it a war of science vs. religion, science will always win. Evolution and the big bang are theories backed by mountains and mountains of scientific evidence. Creationism is a great creation myth, but it’s literalism is just that, a myth. I’m sorry but outside this ancient text, these ancient scribblings, written by men, perhaps inspired by God as I and many Christians believe they are, there is no actual scientific evidence for the universe being 6000 years old. In fact, the scientific method illuminates empirical truth through reason and skepticism, it reveals that there is not one shred of evidence for such a claim.


The modern conception of God to many Christians is, in my view, horribly wrong. God is not supposed to be, as Neil DeGrasse Tyson put it, “an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance”. God is not some being that acts directly through some hitherto undiscovered scientific mechanism of action. 45% of Americans are ignorant of, or blatantly in denial of, basic scientific fact. When they discover the truth, many of them will abandon religion altogether as I once did. This will no doubt spark a nietzschean moral and existential crisis, the likes of which have never been seen in Western society. The Creation Museum is a museum of human ignorance. For every one person it “saves”, ten more are irrevocably turned away from the Christian faith, for Christianity becomes, in their mind, merely a testament to the ignorance and stupidity of the dark ages.


The denial of reason and the embrace of superstition is not a testament of faith, but on the contrary, it is evidence of a faith so weak that it has to deny and attempt to bury any and all rational arguments against it. The true testament of faith is found in one who accepts new evidence against old interpretations of scriptures, one who subjugates their religious convictions to the light of reason and scientific evidence, who asks questions and does not dogmatically follow the flock.


If you claim that the only way there is a God is if evolution is a “satanic conspiracy” and the big bang is a “hoax”, then I would claim that there is no God. But this rigid, literalist interpretation of Christianity is not the only one in the least. Many Christian sects are coming around and saying that there is no contradiction between science and religious belief, that the evidence of the big bang and evolution is evidence that our literalist interpretation of scripture is wrong.


But I go one step further. I claim that while I believe in God, I also believe a time will come when virtually every single phenomenon will be explained by science and the laws of physics. The backward view of God as this ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance will be abolished and thrust into the dustbin of human ignorance. God, as we believers understand him, will take on a radically different form. I do not claim this form will be inherently atheistic, but that it will do away with the ignorance and rigidity of the religions of the past. This, of course, will affect all existing religions, not just Christianity.


Christian institutions, and indeed all religious institutions, in every epoch, justifies and ideologically reinforces the prevailing socioeconomic order (hitherto in slave, feudal and capitalist societies, forms of oppression and exploitation). Modern bourgeois Christianity takes Americanism and turns American Fundamentalist Christianity into a civil religion that directly justifies U.S. imperialism, military expansion, the police force, economic exploitation, oppression of minorities, violence, and decadence of our capitalist order. Even more so, it declares America to be “God’s chosen nation today”. But nothing could be further from the truth, nothing could be more in opposition to Christian moral values than capitalism and imperialism. A billionaire is to a Christian as Ted Bundy is to Saint Basil. There can be no comparison.

Even worse is the social hostility of modern Christians towards women’s and LGBT+ rights. Such abominable and backward views are ethically anti-Christian, yet those adhering to the alleged infallibility of the Bible ceaselessly defend such backwardness in the name of religious freedom. Christianity is thereby turned from a religion which proclaims God is love into one that proclaims God is hate. 


In a word, what modern Christianity needs to do is to break away from its scientific ignorance and its ceaseless defense of capitalism and imperialism. The tool to do this, I believe, lies in Liberation Theology. But what is also needed is a historical materialist critique of Christianity through the ages (slave, feudal, bourgeois) and how our religion is alienated from itself in each epoch and used to justify oppression and exploitation, how our religion must adapt institutionally to condemn capitalist exploitation and defend socialist democracy if it is to truly take on a Christian character.



I know nothing! All I know is but a part of myself even though it exists outside of myself!



September 24, 2017


I hold an apple in my hand realizing that the apple in my hand which I am perceiving is not the apple that exists outside of me, but rather exists as an internal abstraction of the apple itself. Therein begins the terrifying realization that everything I know or think I know is only that which I have perceived or learned, is only that which has been interpreted by my sense organs, filtered by them, reflected into my brain, filtered by my brain, and finally perceived by my brain.

Nothing I know is objective, only that which has been perceived. Perception of our higher reality, while being of this plane of existence, without filtration, is impossible. The apple to me exists as an abstraction, and thus as a concept. It exists as that which is, though material in nature, idealist to me. The apple is certainly infinite in scope, down to the smallest subatomic particles it is mathematically possible to go down in our analysis of the size of the parts of the apple forever. But it exists in actuality as a finite infinity. For to perceive the apple in its entirety is impossible, only a part can be perceived by us. Even this merely implies an analysis the apple as it exists in a moment frozen in time, not even taking into account the constant dialectic of decay and change in which the apple is undergoing.

What about who I am to myself? I must filter my perception of myself as well even though it is myself. And those around me I love and care about? They too are but abstractions who I can never truly know. In this I am utterly alone, in this, though together, we are all alone. But in realizing this it also comes to mind that, even the good things about life are also internalized reflections of the external, and that they too are a part of me in some small way. Entering into a field of extreme skepticism one can easily come to idealist conclusions that I am the only thing that exists and the world around me is merely a figment of my imagination. But one must accept a scientific analysis if one wishes to retain sanity. The external is real and the mind is an emanation of the material, though no doubt highly organized. But in a spirit of skepticism I can never really know the answer to this question, or the objective answer to any question. In short, the only thing that I know is that I know nothing, nothing at all. And this too is but an abstraction.

The Foundation of the Idea of Objective and Subjective injustice and its Relation to Mercy


September 24, 2017


I once said that “one cannot fight injustice with injustice”. But I realize now that this only touches the tip of the iceberg. More specifically, it can be said that “one cannot fight objective injustice with objective injustice”, or that “one cannot fight merely subjective injustice with any form of injustice”.

First of all, what do I mean by this? Objective injustice is precisely how it sounds: that which is objectively unjust. If a person slaughters an innocent for no real purpose at all, with malicious intent, we can say that this was objectively unjust. There was and can be no real justification for this. To the accused, the price for their violating the civil liberty of another is rightfully the violation of their own civil liberty. To the murderer, he experiences a subjective by being imprisoned. Can we say that this subjective injustice was objectively unjust? Not in the least. Therefore this subjective injustice was objectively just.

Objective injustice is always morally abominable. Subjective injustice and mercy are the only ways to address an objectively unjust phenomenon. When equality of white and black people was formally declared it released a whole wave of reaction among some white people who felt that they were being oppressed. But on the contrary! This oppression may have been a subjective injustice to the white man, but it was objectively just, and therefore certainly right! Equality always feels like oppression when you come from a position of privilege.

In response to 9/11, a truly abominable act of terrorism, the U.S. found its alleged justification for unleashing a wave of terror of its own against the middle east. Was this just? It may have seemed that way to the United States but this is merely an example of fighting that which is objectively unjust with objective injustice. It is, therefore, a form of injustice which cannot be justified. Abolitionist John Brown found the only truly emancipatory solution to slavery to be the creation of a violent slave rebellion. Was this unjust? Not in the least! It was a response to an objectively unjust institution which perpetually created injustice. The response was subjectively unjust to the slaveowners, but by merit of being slaveowners they were guilty of an enormous crime against humanity. Brown’s response to slavery was therefore objectively just, and arguably, didn’t go far enough against the slaveowners.

What then is the relationship between mercy and justice? It must be said that mercy towards an individual objective injustice in which the injustice is perpetrated solely against the individual who, in contemplation of what to do arrives at the conclusion that inflicting subjective injustice against the accused is just, is certainly admirable and a worthy deed. However, in instances in which the objective injustice is institutional, collective, and systematically reinforced, the act of mercy against that institution or the perpetrators of it, is itself, merciless against the victims of that objective injustice. Therefore mercy against that which has no mercy in its objective injustice towards others, is itself an act of moral cowardice and barbarity. There can be no mercy against that which is objectively unjust and institutional in nature. This is, in and of itself, an act of objective justice.

We go back to an earlier post, ‘The Elements of Leadership: Immoral, Moral and Immorally Moral Pragmatism’, to ask a simple question. Is it not an act of moral cowardice for one to refuse to kill 5 people if it is the only way to save of 5 million? It may seem to that individual to be wrong, to be an act of barbarism, but objectively the act is eerily just. The ideas of objective and subjective justice and injustice are therefore aspects of utilitarianism, and my contribution to it.


A Letter to My Professor About Equating Communism With Fascism



September 22, 2017


During an in class discussion earlier today, the phenomenon of fascism was brought up. Eventually, as often happens in these sorts of discussions, communism came up as well. In agreement with a large section of the populous, it was mentioned that “communism and fascism are two sides of the same coin”, that coin being totalitarianism. Naturally, as a Marxist and a Trotskyist with libertarian tendencies, I was compelled to politely write her a letter on why this was not the case, on why communism does not equal fascism, even if one wishes to equate Stalinism with communism generally. I have nothing but the utmost respect for my professor, but naturally I did felt compelled to write the following letter:



Dear Professor (Name Omitted),

I certainly enjoyed today’s discussion and while I took absolutely no offense to it in any way whatsoever, I wanted to address something that was said because it commonly comes up in discussions I have with other people. That is, the misconceptions of Marxism brought about by the tragedy of Stalinism in the 20th century and, consequently, what it has done to the image of the Marxist movement as a whole.

Initially, nearly all of the early socialists and communists of the 20th century took on an attitude that the state was an inherently evil institution, and even went so far as to criticize the roots of totalitarianism that emerged in Russia before the Stalinist period. Rosa Luxemburg for instance, a leading figure of the attempted communist revolution in Germany, had this to say in light of the despotism that had emerged in the early Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic:

“Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a special privilege… Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element.”

Even within the Russian Revolution itself, there developed an intangible bureaucracy in which all the genuinely democratic gains of the early revolution were lost. When Stalin came to power he not only continued the revolutionary despotism of the civil war era into the post-revolutionary period, but he also amplified and obfuscated its role in the development of Soviet society. Stalin murdered, imprisoned, exiled, or otherwise “disappeared” nearly all of the original Bolsheviks who first served in the October revolution, numbering in the thousands.

He did this in the name of Marx, Engels and Lenin, who, contrary to popular belief, never once wrote about a one-party state. Trotsky, a man who most considered to be Lenin’s no. 2 during the revolution, was exiled by Stalin for opposing the bureaucracy within the party. For the rest of his life he fought for genuine democracy and liberty within Soviet society and for political revolution before being murdered by one of Stalin’s henchmen in his own home.

As for Marx, he was first and foremost an economist; he studied above all else capitalism and its relation to the earlier economic systems of human history. After decades of intense investigation of political economy (including a tedious analysis of all the written works of the prominent economists of and before his time) and human history, he made a scientific prediction that capitalism, like feudalism before it, would eventually be surpassed by a more efficient, democratic socioeconomic system. The means of producing wealth in our society, which are today exclusively owned by the property owning class who de facto hold all state power, would be held in common and would be brought not under state control, but the democratic control of the workers themselves, thereby abolishing private property. Those who produce all the wealth in our society would have democratic control over what is to be done with that wealth. The objective of the produce of human labor would thus become addressing human needs rather than blind profit.

The idea was that eventually humankind, after abolishing private (not to be confused with personal) property, would necessarily enter into a stateless society. Because to Marx and Engels, the state was, as Engels put it, “nothing but an instrument of oppression of one class by another – no less so in a democratic republic than in a monarchy.” Marxists certainly never saw it as a good thing. The violent organization that we call the state would be replaced with the democratic management of society. Eventually when human society became productive enough, people could work according to ones abilities and take freely (without money as a medium of exchange) to each according to their needs. This, and not the totalitarian despotism of Stalinism, is what we call communism.

The question of how to get to this society has many answers, some in anarchist (anti-statist) tactics from the beginning, some in the initial use of the state under a more libertarian pretext, others through sheer state terror and totalitarianism (Stalinism). Thus the proposition of achieving a communist society has no inherent basis in the use of the state, let alone a totalitarian one. I consider myself to be a libertarian Marxist, meaning that while I agree with Marx’s critique of capitalism; I wholly and unequivocally condemn any form of totalitarianism to get to a more democratic and equal society.

As for fascism on the other hand, while its totalitarianism and lack of personal liberty is, admittedly, comparable to the Stalinist despotism that devolved in the cold war era, it sees the use of the state as an end and not a means to an end. Hitler wanted his “Reich” to last a thousand years. Lenin wanted the state to wither away as soon as possible, for the state is always a barrier to the genuine fulfillment of human liberty. Contrary to Marxism, it sees democracy as a negative aspect of human society, it sees classes and inequality as a good thing. As Mussolini, Hitler’s biggest inspiration put it,

“After Socialism, Fascism attacks the whole complex of democratic ideologies and rejects them both in their theoretical premises and in their applications or practical manifestations. Fascism denies that the majority, through the mere fact of being a majority, can rule human societies; it denies that this majority can govern by means of a periodical consultation; it affirms the irremediable, fruitful and beneficent inequality of men, who cannot be leveled by such a mechanical and extrinsic fact as universal suffrage. . . . Democracy is a regime without a king, but with very many kings, perhaps more exclusive, tyrannical and violent than one king even though a tyrant. . . .”

Marx and Lenin, on the other hand, supported a system in which the working masses (the overwhelming majority), to the exclusion of the property holding class, would hold and democratically control all state power. In this way it is an inversion of the early American democracy, a bourgeois democracy in which only white, property owners had an exclusive dictatorship over the state. In this way, we can say that such a system is inherently even more democratic than our own (if applied properly and developed in ideal conditions). For Lenin, freedom and democracy were always a goal for working people, for example, he said,

“Freedom and equality for the oppressed sex! Freedom and equality for the workers, for the toiling peasants! Down with the liars who are talking of freedom and equality for allwhile there is an oppressed sex, while there are oppressor classes, while there is private ownership of capital, of shares, while there are the well-fed with their surplus of bread who keep the hungry in bondage. Not freedom  for all, not equality for all, but a fight against the oppressors and exploiters, the abolition of every possibility of oppression and exploitation-that is our slogan!”

In short, I merely wanted to respectfully lay out my views on the matter. I know you may disagree with me, as is certainly and should be your right, but I just wanted you to be informed of the basics of these ideas, ideas which have suffered intentional obfuscation by those in power since their inception.


Respectfully,


(Name Omitted)

A Materialist Case For The Potential Existence of The Soul


September 21, 2017


A common idealist interpretation of consciousness

Materialism as a philosophy proclaims that matter and energy are all that exist. Traditionally materialism, especially the materialism of Feuerbach and Marx, correctly leaves no room for the medieval idea of the incorporeal spirit controlling the body, being the force which drives human consciousness. Consciousness is rightfully proclaimed to be the highest known organizational form of matter. This notion therefore, traditionally does away with the idea of an afterlife, of an immortal soul, of a God, etc. As to the specifics of this I have no intention of trying to specifically justify my views about the nature of God, the afterlife, etc. but only to postulate the potentiality of the existence of the soul within a materialist framework. If this is possible, then all else follows.

The materialist viewpoint seems to conform to what we know science tells us about the world. But all of this assumes the traditional model of consciousness, a form of consciousness based on the physics embodied in the theories of classical mechanics. Traditionally the debate between idealism and materialism in regards to consciousness has been as follows: the mind exists either as science understands it, being material and a product of the processes of the brain in materialism, or as part of an incorporeal spirit that is immaterial in idealism. Obviously this medieval notion of a purely incorporeal spirit is nonsense. It follows then, traditionally, that there is no such thing as the soul. But all of this, as previously stated, rests on the traditional model of consciousness.

It can no doubt be said that the traditional model hitherto conforms with known scientific laws, that the exception with which I am to bring up is merely a scientific hypotheses and not a theory. But its possibility throws into question the very atheistic shell of materialist philosophy and should thus be, at the very least, investigated by any self-proclaimed materialist. The hypotheses which I am referring to is known as the quantum mind, or quantum consciousness hypothesis. To explain it in a nutshell I will reluctantly quote Wikipedia:

The quantum mind or quantum consciousness group of hypotheses propose that classical mechanics cannot explain consciousness. It posits that quantum mechanical phenomena, such as quantum entanglement and superposition, may play an important part in the brain’s function and could form the basis of an explanation of consciousness.” [2]

But what does this have to do with idealism vs. materialism? With atheism and theism? With the existence of the soul? To answer this question we have to go back to another hypothesis that is a part of the quantum mind hypothesis called “Orchestrated objective reduction”. It was first formulated by theoretical physicist Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff in the 90’s. It should be said that Hameroff is, by his own admission, an idealist. He believes that consciousness does, to a certain extent, create the material world. But even with this, one can easily take his hypothesis and apply it to a materialist framework. For his hypothesis in and of itself, makes no assertion to the immaterial nature of consciousness, for quantum physics is as material a process as Newtonian physics. The hypothesis says that

consciousness in the brain originates from processes inside neurons, rather than from connections between neurons (the conventional view). The mechanism is held to be a quantum physics process called objective reduction that is orchestrated by molecular structures called microtubules. Objective reduction is proposed to be influenced by non-computable factors imbedded in spacetime geometry which thus may account for the Hard Problem of Consciousness.” [3]

When we take the traditional model of consciousness into account we can conclude that consciousness dies with the decay of the human brain, that it does not and can not go on after death by any known processes. If we presume consciousness to be quantum in nature, it follows then that consciousness obeys the laws of quantum physics. We know that nothing can go faster than the speed of light, that for it to do so is a violation of the laws of Newtonian physics. But in quantum physics there exists the process of quantum entanglement, which is the

physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs or groups of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently of the others, even when the particles are separated by a large distance—instead, a quantum state must be described for the system as a whole… This has been shown to occur even when the measurements are performed more quickly than light could travel between the sites of measurement: there is no lightspeed or slower influence that can pass between the entangled particles.” [4]

It is in this process that the adherents of the Quantum Consciousness hypothesis find a potential mechanism for how consciousness could escape the body in the form of quantum information at a speed faster than the speed of light without violating the known laws of physics. It is precisely in this spirit that Hameroff postulates how his theory might apply to life after death:

“‘Let’s say the heart stops beating, the blood stops flowing, the microtubules lose their quantum state. The quantum information within the microtubules is not destroyed, it can’t be destroyed, it just distributes and dissipates to the universe at large,’ Dr. Hameroff told the Science Channel’s ‘Through the Wormhole’ documentary.

If the patient is revived, however, this quantum information can go back into the microtubules and that is what we describe as ‘a near death experience‘.

If they’re not revived, and the patient dies, it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul,’ Dr. Hameroff said…

The energy of your consciousness peels away from the physical vehicle at death, in the same way that a pianist can get up and walk away from the piano,’ Steven Bancarz wrote in an article.” [5]

Some would say that materialism degrades the human condition by asserting that consciousness is merely a result of physical phenomena. But on the contrary, I say it empowers the human spirit by showing the complexity not only of the universe but of the human mind. As for the idea of quantum consciousness, it is all, of course, speculative, as the hypothesis is just that- a hypothesis. But if true its ramifications could be enormous in the field of materialist philosophy and philosophy at large. Is it a bit of a stretch? Perhaps, but then again perhaps not. What do you think?


Sources:

Image 

2: Quantum Mind 

3: Orch OR-Quantum 

4: Quantum Entanglement 

5: Hameroff Quote 


Controversial View: Religion Should Be A Private Matter Not only In Relation To The State, But To The Party Of The Advanced Proletariat



September 19, 2018


I am a seminarian and I will join the New People’s Army! Christians For National Liberation!”


I will start by saying that while I consider myself to be a (rather unorthodox) Leninist and a Trotskyist, I fundamentally disagree with Lenin’s and Trotsky’s position on how religion relates to the party of the advanced proletariat.

The Traditional Leninist Position 

It should be said that, contrary to myth, Lenin never outlawed religion as such, and made it explicitly clear in his writings that freedom of conscience should reign in socialist society. In The Attitude of The Workers’ Party to Religion, Lenin stated that while

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)

that,

Engels frequently condemned the efforts of people who desired to be ‘more left’ or ‘more revolutionary’ than the Social-Democrats to introduce into the programme of the workers’ party an explicit proclamation of atheism, in the sense of declaring war on religion”(Ibid).

This, by the way, shows the anti-Leninist attitude of Albania under Enver Hoxha, who declared all religious worship and practice to be illegal in 1967 and barred religious cadres from joining the party. This pseudo-revolutionary policy of barring religious cadres is also taken up by the Communist Party of China today.

Furthermore, Lenin goes on saying that

“…in 1877, too, in his Anti- Dühring, while ruthlessly attacking the slightest concessions made by Dühring the philosopher to idealism and religion, Engels no less resolutely condemns Dühring’s pseudo-revolutionary idea that religion should be prohibited in socialist society. To declare such a war on-religion, Engels says, is to ‘out-Bismarck Bismarck’, i.e., to repeat the folly of Bismarck’s struggle against the clericals…” (Ibid).

But make no mistake as to Lenin’s position on the matter. Lenin also said

Social-Democrats regard religion as a private matter in relation to the state, but not in relation to themselves, not in relation to Marxism, and not in relation to the workers’ party” (Idib, 404).

Despite this, Lenin actually advocated the allowances of religious members and even priests into the communist party if they so wished, saying,

If a priest comes to us to take part in our common political work and conscientiously performs Party duties, without opposing the programme of the Party, he may be allowed to join the ranks of the Social-Democrats; for the contradiction between the spirit and principles of our programme and the religious convictions of the priest would in such circumstances be something that concerned him alone, his own private contradiction; and a political organisation cannot put its members through an examination to see if there is no contradiction between their views and the Party programme.” (Ibid, 408).

Discrimination among citizens on account of their religious convictions is wholly intolerable. Even the bare mention of a citizen’s religion in official documents should unquestionably be eliminated.” (Lenin Collected Works, Volume 10, p. 84)

But Lenin constantly emphasized the atheism of materialism and Marxism in saying,

Marxism is materialism. As such, it is as relentlessly hostile to religion as was the materialism of the eighteenth- century Encyclopaedists or the materialism of Feuerbach. This is beyond doubt. But the dialectical materialism of Marx and Engels goes further than the Encyclopaedists and Feuerbach, for it applies the materialist philosophy to the do- main of history, to the domain of the social sciences. We must combat religion—that is the ABC of all materialism, and consequently of Marxism.” (Lenin Collected Works Volume 15, p. 405)

In short, Lenin believed that religion should be a private affair in regard to the state, but not in regard to the party of the advanced proletariat. Lenin taught that the party of the advanced proletariat should fight against religious beliefs as such, even though it never believed in barring religious members from joining, as the contradiction of doing so was a purely personal one. Lenin believed that religion itself was to be combatted, and not merely the bourgeois nature of modern religion.

The Position of Rosa Luxemburg and James Connolly, and Consequently, My Position 

Rosa Luxemburg and James Connolly, two of the famous revolutionary Marxists of the 20th century take an entirely different position on the matter of religion in regards to the party of the advanced proletariat. It is precisely their position that I advocate instead of Lenin’s and Trotsky’s.

James Connolly explicitly addresses his view on the matter in a section of Workers’ Republic, June 17, 1899 titled The New Evangel, Socialism and Religion, The Known and the Unknowable. Connolly begins by addressing the fact that the relationship between socialism and atheism is often used as a last ditch attack by the bourgeoisie against the principles of socialism. We saw this in the 20th century with the addition of “In God We Trust” to American currency during the height of the Cold War to combat “Godless” Communism. But in the case of the Cold War, this bourgeois attack had a material basis in the shameful religious persecutions that took place in the so-called Marxist-Leninist states of the 20th Century. Connolly states that this intentional bourgeois obfuscation on the question of religion and socialism often works negatively to deter a religious worker away from socialist politics. A firmly established position of atheism no doubt turns the religious worker away from any socialist party 9/10 of the time, and is undoubtedly negative. In fact, religious persecution was one of the main factors contributing to the fall of the USSR and Eastern Bloc. Connolly further clarifies the pre-Leninist position of the socialists saying that,

The Socialist Party of Ireland prohibits the discussion, of theological or anti-theological questions at its meetings, public or private. This is in conformity with the practice of the chief Socialist parties of the world, which have frequently, in Germany for example, declared Religion to be a private matter, and outside the scope of Socialist action.* Modern Socialism, in fact, as it exists in the minds of its leading exponents, and as it is held and worked for by an increasing number of enthusiastic adherents throughout the civilized world, has an essentially material, matter-of-fact foundation. We do not mean that its supporters are necessarily materialists in the vulgar, and merely anti-theological, sense of the term, but that they do not base their Socialism upon any interpretation of the language or meaning of Scripture, nor upon the real or supposed intentions of a beneficent Deity.* They as a party neither affirm or deny those things, but leave it to the individual conscience of each member to determine what beliefs on such questions they shall hold. As a political party they wisely prefer to take their stand upon the actual phenomena of social life as they can be observed in operation amongst us to-day, or as they can be traced in the recorded facts of history. If any special interpretation of the meanings of Scripture tends to influence human thought in the direction of Socialism, or is found to be on a plane with the postulates of Socialist doctrine, then the scientific Socialist considers that the said interpretation is stronger because of its identity with the teachings of Socialism, but he does not necessarily believe that Socialism is stronger, or its position more impregnable, because of its theological ally. He realises that the facts upon which his Socialist faith are based are strong enough in themselves to withstand every shock, and attacks from every quarter, and therefore while he is at all times willing to accept help from every extraneous source, he will only accept it on one condition, viz., that he is not to be required in return to identify his cause with any other whose discomfiture might also involve Socialism in discredit. This is the main reason why Socialists fight shy of theological dogmas and religions generally: because we feel that Socialism is based upon a series of facts requiring only unassisted human reason to grasp and master all their details, whereas Religion of every kind is admittedly based upon ‘faith’ in the occurrence in past ages of a series of phenomena inexplicable by any process of mere human reasoning. Obviously, therefore, to identify Socialism with Religion would be to abandon at once that universal, non-sectarian character which to-day we find indispensable to working-class unity, as it would mean that our members would be required to conform to one religious creed, as well as to one specific economic faith – a course of action we have no intention of entering upon as it would inevitably entangle us in the disputes of the warring sects of the world, and thus lead to the disintegration of the Socialist Party.

Socialism, as a party, bases itself upon its knowledge of facts, of economic truths, and leaves the building up of religious ideals or faiths to the outside public, or to its individual members if they so will. It is neither Freethinker nor Christian, Turk nor Jew, Buddhist nor Idolator, Mohammedan nor Parsee – it is only human” (Socialism and Religion, 1899, James Connolly).

*My Bold – TFB

Rosa Luxemburg, a figure so famous among the left that there can no doubt as to her loyalty to Marxism, goes a step further saying that not only should religion be considered a private matter in relation to the party of the advanced proletariat, but to social-democracy as such, saying,

And here is the answer to all the attacks of the clergy: the Social-Democracy in no way fights against religious beliefs. On the contrary, it demands complete freedom of conscience for every individual and the widest possible toleration for every faith and every opinion.* But, from the moment when the priests use the pulpit as a means of political struggle against the working classes, the workers must fight against the enemies of their rights and their liberation. For he who defends the exploiters and who helps to prolong this present regime of misery, he is the mortal enemy of the proletariat, whether he be in a cassock or in the uniform of the police.” (Socialism and The Churches, 1905, Rosa Luxemburg).

*My bold – TFB

It is in this tradition, that of the pre-Leninist Marxists that I fall. It is well known to my readers that I am a follower of Liberation Theology, and, consequently, a religious communist. It must be said, however, that while we have to combat bourgeois religion due to its loyalty to the bourgeoisie, this fight should be taken up because it is bourgeois and not because it is religion as such. This fight should be taken up by religious communists as well, for every minute a religious institution supports capitalism, it betrays its own emancipatory foundations. We should support any religious movement that tries to emancipate itself from the chains of bourgeois ideology and the defense of capitalist exploitation. Religion always defends the prevailing socioeconomic order, but, with the stubborn struggle against social change, it eventually comes around to support the new order once it is firmly established. Such will no doubt be the path taken by the church when socialism inevitably triumphs over the earth. But by making the struggle against religion an active policy of the party of the advanced proletariat, as was the case in the 20th century, it actually works to prevent this future support by religious institutions of socialism. On the contrary, religious institutions under a socialist state hostile to religious belief will never come around to support socialist society as they did support capitalist society, even though the ethics of socialism fall infinitely more in line with religious teachings than those of capitalism. Such institutions under such conditions will act to militantly defend the reign of the bourgeoisie, and be permanently opposed to socialism.

To quote St. Paisios of Mt. Athos,

Personally, if the communists weren’t atheist, if they didn’t hunt Christ, I would agree with them. It’s good for the plots of land, the factories, to belong to everyone; not for one to be hungry while someone else is throwing away food.”
-Elder Paisios

That is the only contradiction between religion and socialism the socialist movement of the 21st century need worry about.

I consider myself to be a materialist but not an atheist, and no, there is no contradiction. An actual philosophical inquiry as to my interpretation of materialism and consciousness, however, will be saved for a future post as it would be too lengthy to go into in this post.

I strongly advocate that socialist and communist parties everywhere, not only in the spirit of Rosa Luxemburg and James Connolly, but in the spirit of learning from the horrendous tragedies of the 20th century Marxist-Leninist states, take on an attitude of neutrality towards religion as such.

Sources:

Lenin Collected Works Volume 10 

Lenin Collected Works Volume 15 

Socialism and Religion, James Connolly 

Socialism and The Churches, 1905, Rosa Luxemburg 

Elder Paisios Quote 


The Marxist Case for Human Rights



September 19, 2017


Liberty consists of doing anything which does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of each man has only those borders which assure other members of the society the enjoyment of these same rights. These borders can be determined only by the law.” -Article 4 of the Declaration of The Rights of Man and Citizen, 1789


Call into memory the philosophy of Karl Popper. To be tolerant of intolerance as a position leads society towards the abandonment of tolerance as its prime virtue. Indeed with the passage of time we can say that inevitably such tolerance of intolerance leads towards a fundamentally intolerant society.


The Marxist Critique of the liberal approach to human rights is generally correct in regarding such rights as fundamental but not universal. By this it is meant that such rights do not prevail historically in times of war or revolution, but that they require a socioeconomic foundation. Moreover, Western human rights embodies the utmost expansion of negative liberty with the squandering of positive liberty. The Stalinist/ Marxist rights of humanity historically (taking the 20th century as an active example) embody the utmost expansion of positive liberty with the squandering of negative liberty.


To quote Marxists Internet Archive’s definition of negative and positive freedom: “In hitherto existing Socialist states, like the Soviet Union and China, ‘negative freedoms’ were severely restricted, while ‘positive freedoms’ were advanced. All people had universal access to health care, full university education, etc, but people could only use those things they had in a particular way – in support of the government. In the most advanced capitalist governments, this relationship is the other way around: ‘positive freedoms’ are restricted or do not exist all together, while ‘negative freedoms’ are more advanced than ever before. A worker in capitalist society has the freedom to say whatever she believes, but she does not have the freedom to live if crippled by a disease regardless of how much money she has. A socialist society that has been established from a capitalist society will strengthen ‘negative freedoms’, while ushering in real ‘positive freedoms’ across the board, ensuring equal and free access to social services by all.”


It is in this that we find the foundational basis for an expansion of what we think of as “human rights”. Also, we find in Popper’s philosophical analysis a justification of the Marxist critique of liberal human rights. We cannot be tolerant of political organizations and movements fundamentally based on intolerance, as a matter of fundamental law. This is not a sign of an unfree or intolerant society, but rather of one so free and tolerant that the roots of unfreedom and intolerance can never get a grip on its fundamental virtue: tolerance.


This, as well as the socialist character of such a declaration (the full expansion of positive freedom) strips from our bourgeois notion of liberty its capitalist character, exorcizing it of its status as a bourgeois ideology and bringing about its birth as a true proletarian ideology. It serves to be the largest possible expansion of the idea of human freedom, not it’s Stalinist squandering in the name of some future, far off society. If there is something to be learned from the Stalinist tragedy of the 20th century it is that the Marxist-Leninist approach to bourgeois liberty today is outdated. It was the “Marxist-Leninist” states that were compelled to sign a formal declaration respecting human rights by the capitalist countries, not the other way around. The liberty we know today, though no doubt limited and not actualized for a large portion of the population due to the near total absence of positive freedom, is in fact to a certain degree, real, and not merely a “bourgeois declaration”. It is real because of the bloody and peaceful working class struggles of the 20th century to gain true, even if largely formal, equality for women, people of color, etc. This is not something Lenin or Marx could have foreseen. Of course, the struggle continues today thanks to the heroic work of the Feminist movement and organizations like Black Lives Matter, but the original Marxist-Leninist critique of liberty still fails the test of time when we take the 20th century into account.


Still even today, despite the experiences of the 20th century, some Stalinists totally ignore the material reality of what took place in those countries and still clamor on about the “illusion” and “falseness” of a declaration of human rights. There is nothing more tragic than this. Socialism, especially coming from an advanced capitalist society, should serve as an enormous expansion of human rights (negative liberty) through providing the means for its actualization via the expansion of positive liberty.


To quote Engels, the aim of the communists is “to organize society in such a way that every member of it can develop and use all his capabilities and powers in complete freedom and without thereby infringing the basic conditions of this society.”


To quote Rosa Luxemburg, “Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of ‘justice’ but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a special privilege… Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously – at bottom, then, a clique affair – a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins (the postponement of the Soviet Congress from three-month periods to six-month periods!) Yes, we can go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc. (Lenin’s speech on discipline and corruption.)”


It is in this spirit that I make the case for the socialist and communist parties of the world to learn from the mistakes of the past and to declare not only the rights of humanity, but human rights, to be a fundamental aim of socialism. As socialists we aim not for liberal declarations of human rights but their actualization. We aim not for their Stalinist destitution in the name of communism, but their fulfillment in the name of communism. We aim for the total and complete liberation of the poor and the exploited classes, for a society in which that old phrase “all humans are born equal and free” is embodied by human society at large, where all have an equal chance to succeed at life, to pursue happiness and better themselves.

Sources:

Declaration of The Rights of Man and Citizen: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/rightsof.asp

Karl Popper on tolerance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

MIA on Liberty: https://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/f/r.htm#freedom

Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith by Engels: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/06/09.htm

Rosa Luxemburg on The Russian Revolution: https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/russian-revolution/ch06.htm


Briefly on the unspoken rule regarding torture and Trump’s disregarding of it


September 9, 2017


No, of course torture should be dogmatically rejected by any politician. But secretly as an unspoken rule, in order to maintain the illusion of civility we do it anyways but keep it on the hush hush. Of course it becomes necessary when someone hid a bomb somewhere that’ll go off at X time in a busy city. You torture them, threaten their family, etc. Of course you do this, it’s a horrible thing to prevent an even more horrible atrocity. It is just to kill 5 people to directly prevent the deaths of 5000. You don’t make public an affirmation of the act, to do so is to normalize the innate barbarity of the state. Trump doesn’t understand this rule. This is what makes him dangerous.

I condemn the act of torture, but I recognize its necessity under extenuating circumstances when the lives of the innocent are at stake. There has to be someone willing to do the necessary thing, the unpleasant thing, when the situation calls for it. Cold, yes. Pragmatic, even more so.

On Freedom and Socialism (By Marxists Internet Archive)

September 5, 2017


On the intentional obfuscation of the explanation of Marxism practiced by bourgeois educators



August 19, 2017


My old political science professor once pointed to someone’s laptop as an example of private property and said to the class that this was what the cold war was about. “Wouldn’t you want to live in a society where your laptop, phone, and house belongs to you?” Yes! Of course, I, as a Marxist, would! But Marx never said a negative thing about your personal property, he was against private property. This was the same obfuscated explanation of communism I was taught back in high school. I was furious at this absurdity and explained the difference between personal property (such as your phone, laptop, home) and private property (factories, enterprises, i.e. the means of production). I remember that the class seemed rightfully baffled at such an obfuscation of one of the most basic ideas of Marxism


Marx himself wrote in The Communist Manifesto that,

You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.


In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.”


By this absurd equation of private and personal property, my professor would have been implying that Marx thought that 9/10 of the population had no personal belongings, something that throughout human history, has never been the case in the least.

Such explanations are one of the many attempts on account of bourgeois intellectuals and educators to obfuscate the logic of Marxism, for if it were presented as it actually was to the broad masses of people, no one would ever deny its logic. In fact, if Marxism was taught by Marxists in schools, even side by side with bourgeois lectures on the necessity of greed, 9/10 of the population would identify as Marxist.


Who does the “Alt-Left” hate?



August 16, 2017


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:



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

August 15, 2017

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.



Pope Francis on Christianity and Communism, and my views as a Christian and a Communist



July 25, 2017



Pope Francis himself said:


I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the centre of the Gospel… Communists say that all this is communism. Sure, 20 centuries later. So when they speak, one can say to them: ‘but then you are Christian'”


The option for the poor (liberation theology) comes from the first centuries of Christianity. It’s the Gospel itself. If you were to read one of the sermons of the first fathers of the Church, from the second or third centuries, about how you should treat the poor, you’d say it was Maoist or Trotskyist.”


It it has been said many times and my response has always been that, if anything, it is the communists who think like Christians. Christ spoke of a society where the poor, the weak and the marginalized have the right to decide. Not demagogues, not Barabbas, but the people, the poor, whether they have faith in a transcendent God or not. It is they who must help to achieve equality and freedom”


I am extremely critical of the Catholic church as an organization. I do not approve of the Catholic church or some of the popes more reactionary views. I do however, feel that he is right about this. I have the unique experience of being both a Christian and a communist. They do not contradict one another, on the contrary, my Christianity and my communism nurture and define each other. It is because I am a Christian that I have become a communist. It is the only view, in my mind, that is in sync with the message espoused by Christ.


The flag of true Christianity is not an American flag with a thin blue line and an arrow through an LGBT+ symbol. No, the flag of true Christianity is a red flag with a cross and a sickle.



A criticism of the Stalinist “one-party state”. If the working class is not free to oppose it, then the working class is not truly in power!

July 15, 2017



If the sovereign is free to oppose them and does not do so, we must take universal silence as evidence of popular consent” -Rousseau, The Social Contact p. 36

This quote by Rousseau alone makes the claim of Stalin that the one party state is necessary for the dictatorship of the proletariat fall apart. As I have stated many times before, you will not find a single mention of a one-party state in the writings of Marx, Engels or Lenin. In a Stalinist state the sole legal political party is said to represent “the working class”, even coalition parties are banned from challenging the rule of the communist party. But in fact the working class cannot legally object to the despotism of this monolithic party, even when it betrays its own premises, even when it becomes entangled in a monstrous bureaucracy, comes under the domination of a small clique, becomes extremely unpopular, becomes revisionist, or capitalist.



There are many examples of this that prove my point, but Poland in my view is one of the best examples. In Poland the communist party remained the sole legal party until 1989 when the government was forced to capitulate to the Solidarity protest movement (a movement by the working class, mind you). When Solidarity was on the ballot, the communists lost 100% of the vote, and solidarity won 100% of the seats. Not 60%, not 90%, but 100%. The party had long before become despotic, tyrannical against the working class, revisionist, and the defining feature of the Polish degenerated workers state. It ceased to represent the will of the working class, but because of its Stalinist heritage, the working class could not object to its rule or found its own party in opposition. Then of course there is the economic consequences of building socialism in one country, but I will refrain from getting into that here.





If the people are NOT free to oppose the ruling state apparatus, universal silence means neither universal consent OR opposition. It is only when the people ARE free to oppose the ruling party that universal consent can be gauged.

But would the working class in those countries have supported a communist government naturally? Certainly in many. But in Eastern Europe especially, the working class likely would have ended up supporting a social democratic party, and not an expressly communist one. This in particular contributed to furthering the development of Stalinism in the 20th century. In Asia however, the overwhelming majority of workers and peasants supported Ho Chi Minh, Mao, Kim Il Sung, etc. The U.S. president at the time even admitted that he was suppressing democratic elections in Vietnam because Ho Chi Minh would receive over 80% of the vote. The important thing is not wether the working class initially supported the communist party, but if it was free to oppose it under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Because it was not, all but 5 Stalinist states collapsed in the period of 1989-1991.

The experience of Stalinism necessarily should lead to a complete abandonment of a one-party dictatorship, and the favorability of a multi-party system instead, under the dictatorship of the proletariat (the 99%). Democratic rule of the working class can only be maintained insofar as there is genuine democracy among the working class. And after a revolutionary period, the continued despotism of a single monolithic, unchallengeable political party is the anti-thesis of workers democracy. As Rosa Luxemburg said, “democracy is indispensable to socialism and socialism is indispensable to democracy”. And as Rosa also said, “freedom is always the freedom of dissent”.



How can the working class be in control of a country when the individual members of the working class are not free to voice their opposition? How can they be in control if they are not free to run against the ruling bureaucracy, speak freely, believe what they wish, follow whatever religion they prefer or none at all, to write freely and to be free to act in accordance with their conscience? If the individual members of the working class is not free to do these things after a revolutionary period, then it is not truly in control of the state, and it is not a genuine dictatorship of the proletariat.

Freedom in the time of Marx and Lenin was exclusively bourgeois freedom, that is, freedom for the bourgeoisie to the exclusion of the proletariat. However times have changed. Even if many freedoms are limited and bourgeois in nature, (such as freedom of the press and travel which requires significant wealth), we are in many ways free. We are free in these ways because of the life and death struggle of leftists in the 20th century. Of course I’m not a moron, full freedom can only exist in a classless society, but the gains made in regards to individual liberty are not merely characters of bourgeois ideology, they are real. But even with this, as Žižek says, “We feel free because we lack the language to really articulate our unfreedom”

A true dictatorship of the proletariat represents an advance in human society, not a retreat. The republic laid by a socialist revolution should cause the working class to be more free, even if not completely free, than it is in modern bourgeois society.

But what of revolution? Does revolution not strip away freedom from a portion of society for a time? Certainly, as Engels himself said,

“A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means, if such there be at all; and if the victorious party does not want to have fought in vain, it must maintain this rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionists. Would the Paris Commune have lasted a single day if it had not made use of this authority of the armed people against the bourgeois? Should we not, on the contrary, reproach it for not having used it freely enough?”

But what distinguishes a revolution from the republic which the revolution founds? For this I prefer to quote Robespierre,

“The aim of constitutional government is to preserve the Republic; that of revolutionary government is to lay its foundation.”

In this regard we should think of a revolution as a two staged event. First it destroys the old class rule and state apparatus of the old society. It does this in ways aforementioned by Engels. During this period, historically there can be no freedom of dissent. In this regard my beliefs are the most radical. “Do you want a revolution without a revolution?” A social revolution, at least in its initial stages, can only be a true rupture in the social order, and not merely a formal change of political power. It is the only way to shorten the death agony of capitalism and the birth pains of the new social order.

But afterwards what is to be done? A socialist republic is born from the ashes of the old society. Can it be anything less than an advance forward for the working class? For freedom and democracy of the working people? No! It cannot. By simply dismissing formal liberty as ‘bourgeois’ you are taking a massive step back in human development. Stalinism changed the nature of the initial Red Terror to maintain it, even when it was formally done away with after the civil war. Formally he declared in the 1936 ‘Stalin Constitution’ your typical freedoms that are found in any modern constitution. But history tells us that this was not truly implemented in Soviet society. In Stalin’s Russia, as Slavoj Žižek pointed out on several occasions, you could not publicly criticize ‘Comrade Stalin’ or his policies. If you did, you would not be seen the next day. But here is the strange part, if you pointed out this contradiction publicly (that the constitution guarantees you the right to do so but doing so will get you shot) and claimed that it existed, you would not be seen later that night! Žižek claims that this is how ideology functions, not as the official rules of a society, but as the social, unwritten rules.

But doesn’t the dictatorship of the proletariat require that he overthrown bourgeois class is held down by the state power? Certainly. What was the nature of democracy in our country when it was founded? It was purely bourgeois. Only white, male, property owners could vote or participate in the democratic process. This was maintained by the state power. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat, only the working class (the 99%) has the right to vote or participate in the democratic process. It is the dictatorship of the formerly exploited over the former exploiters. It is not the dictatorship of a small bureaucracy over proletarian and bourgeoisie alike. After a time, with the disillusion of social classes in a given society, democracy is given back to all members of society as a whole. This is not to say, however, that the dictatorship of the proletariat is done away with! On the contrary, in comparison with other capitalist states it remains a militant dictatorship of the proletariat, but merely one in a higher stage of development. Khrushchev’s claim of an ‘all people’s state’ is inherently reactionary, in this I agree with the anti-revisionists.

So to summarize, what are my views on this? The one-party state is purely a vestige of Stalinism. To claim it is necessary is to ignore 100 years of Marxist history. The ideal dictatorship of the proletariat is one in which the proletariat truly, and not merely formally, holds all state power. This means that individual workers are free to create or join parties (so long as they are not capitalist or fascist) as they wish, and are free to criticize the government, speak what they wish, follow any or no religion, protest, write, and, in a word, think what they wish. The ideal system is a multi-party state. Individual liberties have been won, even in a limited, bourgeois form, by radical leftists in the last 100 years and should not be done away with under the dictatorship of the proletariat. If anything they should be expanded. A revolution is a most authoritarian rupture which brings about this transformation. The purpose of the revolutionary government is to lay the foundation of the socialist republic, and the nature of the revolutionary government and the republic it seeks to lay have a different character in actuality, and not mere formality. The dictatorship of the proletariat holds down the former oppressor class and forbids it to participate in the democratic process for a certain time, and afterwards, even after this distinction is done away with, it still remains the dictatorship of the proletariat because the state still exists, and international capital still exists in some countries.























Lenin On Imperialism, On Exploitation In Our Country and Abroad



July 8, 2017




[There is] the need constantly to explain and expose among the broadest working masses of all countries, and particularly of the backward countries, the deception systematically practiced by the imperialist powers, which, under the guise of politically independent states, set up states that are wholly dependent upon them economically, financially and militarily.”


Vladimir Lenin


(V.I. Lenin, Works, vol. 31, p. 150, Eng. ed.)


That is one of the ways imperialist countries like the United States dominate the world and constantly stay on top. The wealth of our national bourgeoisie is the source of the poverty of the “underdeveloped” or, in reality, the over-exploited, poorer nations of the world. This seems to be a fact that everyone knows, but is “too depressing” to be looked at or dealt with.



The device you are reading this on was assembled by extremely poor factory workers making just dollars per week, whose working conditions are comparable to slavery. Their factories have nets to prevent them from committing suicide because there is no end to their exploitation. The raw materials of your device were probably mined by child laborers in the Congo, among other desolate places. Your clothing was made in sweatshops by people who work 16 hours a day for mere pennies. You say that capitalism is best demonstrated by a walk in an American shopping mall. I say that capitalism is best demonstrated by going to where the raw materials used to produce your commodities first come from, where they are assembled, how they come to you, and how you get them. The end of the line is like a polished diamond, its  beginning is like brimstone from hell.













Yet despite these desolate conditions, if you receive a wage or a salary in this country, in America, then you too are being exploited. You produce 50$ an hour, the people on the top “give you” 15$ an hour back, and pocket the 35$, or the 20$ that is leftover after taxes and other necessary expenditures needed to maintain the business for themselves. You work 50 hours a week and still live in poverty? Can’t afford rent or to feed your kids? You’re told “tough shit, pull yourself up by your bootstraps”. You need food assistance? You’re taught to call people on food stamps “lazy fucks” and “welfare queens”. Well, the real welfare queens are the bourgeoisie, the capitalist class, whose wealth is the source of the poverty of the poor. The real welfare queens are those capitalists who do no productive work of their own, and live off of the life blood of those who do- the working class.



When Karl Marx said “Workers of all countries, Unite!” he didn’t mean merely that the end goal was better wages, or social democratic reforms. He meant that the working class should unite to seize the means of production, the means of creating wealth in our society, and bring them under common ownership and democratic control. He meant that workers are entitled to all that they produce, and those who do no work are not entitled to anything- until society is productive enough to make constant toiling obsolete. You want to hate those who do no work and still eat? Don’t hate the poor, who require food stamps and government assistance, hate up. If you have to hate, hate the people who pocket half of what the super poor produce in this country and take the rest for themselves, leaving them in poverty and hunger. Hate the people who create the material conditions that cause people to require food stamps. You’re being taught to hate down and its disgusting.



“Does not caring about politics make me a bad person?” No, it does not.



June 21, 2017



A friend asked me “does not caring about politics make me a bad person, in your opinion?” I said no, for several reasons.

First let us look at Rousseau, in the ‘Social Contract’:
“If the sovereign (meaning the people) is free to oppose them and does not do so, we must take universal silence as evidence of popular consent”

But this only applies insofar as we take a bourgeois republic seriously, as the will of the people and not as the will of the bourgeoisie. Which any serious look at politics in the U.S. or Europe shows that these republics represent the will of the 1%, to put this in terms that most people can understand.

Plato once said that “The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men”. But we are still ignoring one of the key facets of modern politics: it is intentionally alienating.

Lenin once said in ‘The State and Revolution’ that “A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and, therefore, once capital has gained possession of this very best shell (through the Palchinskys, Chernovs, Tseretelis and Co.), it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-­democratic republic can shake it.”

Naturally it follows from this that the proletariat is alienated from politics. Why? Because as Lenin said, the bourgeoisie establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-­democratic republic can shake it.

So why should anyone be interested in whether Clinton or Trump is elected? The fundamentally exploitative social system we live under will not change, the bombs will not stop falling from the skies, the proletariat will gain no meaningful concessions from the ruling class. Politics is designed to be this way. What difference will it make to someone working 50 hours a week and still living in poverty? Or someone who is unemployed? Why should they vote for a party that won’t even give the working class 15$ an hour?




On that age old question of existence, part 2



June 15, 2017



The formless static from which being emerges is called nothingness. The creation of nothingness separated by time (+1 and -1) is called being. The coming into being is called the birth of reality. The collision of +1 and -1 is called annihilation, or the end of being. 
Within the virtual particles, with their endless coming into being and annihilation without actually creating anything that adds up to more or less that zero, is the secret rational answer to that age old question: why does anything exist instead of nothing? For in fact, mathematically nothing does, or can exist. Everything adds up to nothing.



On existence, an answer to the question of “Why does something exist instead of nothing?”



June 14, 2017



What is said to be that which cannot be, yet is? It is existence, it is being, it is not however, nothingness. Why? There is no why, there simply is. Nothingness cannot simply be, it can only be the static from which being arises. How? Can something be created out of nothing? In principle, no, in actuality, yes. +1 and -1 can come into being simultaneously, and so long as they are separated by some variable (such as time), they can exist for a “time”. +1 and -1 can only come into being because they add up to zero, to nothingness. But time and space are relative. So, within +1 or -1, time can be infinite. +1 and -1 can infinitely approach one another without ever joining together and annihilating. It could be said that “the” universe undergoes endless cycles of deaths and rebirths, but insofar as time as relative, our universe can in essence be eternal. Does “time” exist in the void in which these infinite variables of equal but opposite values arise? In principle yes, in actuality no. Such is the answer to the grand question “Why does anything exist instead of nothing?” For nothing does exist, everything adds up to nothing! This is the answer which my existential crisis has brought me to.



Briefly, In Praise of Lenin



June 3, 2017



Lenin made some mistakes, as I will be the first to admit. But that man dedicated his entire life to the total freedom and liberation of the human race from every possible form of oppression and exploitation. People like Lenin come around once every few centuries, if we are lucky. People today often falsely equate Leninism with Stalinism, but such grievances are of the historically illiterate.


Anyone who has read ‘The State and Revolution’ can tell you that the society that Lenin believed in could not have possibly came about in backwards Russia, and that it was the epitome of democracy. The society Lenin was fighting for could not possibly have more personal liberty or virtue.


The story of Leninism in the 20th century is a tragedy, it was a beautiful flower that tried to bloom far before it was ready, in bad soil. Marx believed that successful socialist revolutions would first happen in the most ADVANCED capitalist countries, at the END of capitalist development. Instead, due to the conditions of imperialism, the first socialist revolution happened in Russia in 1917, a semi-feudal country, one of the poorest in the world, that also JUST HAD a capitalist revolution. Despite these major setbacks and limitations, for the first time in human history, under Lenin’s leadership, all political power was in the hands of the workers and peasants- to the exclusion of the exploiting, property owning classes.


Compare THAT form of democracy with the Greek and American democracies. In Greece and early America, only white, male, property/ slave owners could vote- to the exclusion of the oppressed and exploited masses. Today our American “democracy” is de facto owned and controlled by wall street and big business- by the property owning class, and 9/10 of our public representatives are capitalists, or rich men. Contrary to popular belief, you will not find one mention of a one-party state in the works of Marx, Engels, or Lenin. It is purely a vestige of Stalinism. So we should perhaps, rethink the way we view Lenin. He was a champion of liberty and democracy, not of tyranny.



Socialism, Capitalist Exploitation, and Innovation Under Socialism



June 2, 2017



How could we ask our poor bourgeois to pay more taxes to help out the wage laborers that produced his wealth in the first place?” Obviously by the logic of the capitalist system, if you produce something, it doesn’t belong to you. So if you produce ~30$ in an hour and receive only 15$ in return, or, if you produce 200$ in an hour, and receive only 50$ in return, then by the natural laws of the capitalist system, you are owed nothing but a wage, even if that wage is so low that you are impoverished, hungry, can’t afford rent, healthcare, etc. Under the guise of “free contract” many may find this appealing. But this is but the tip of the iceberg of the capitalist mode of production, even if this fact is exploitative by nature.


On the other hand, the bourgeois can, and occasionally we find that he does, do absolutely no work of his own, being a non-acting board member or owner, who votes once every few months if that, and collects a check for millions of dollars- containing the leftover surplus produced by hundreds of thousands of working people whose poverty is the source of their bourgeois wealth. This is, of course, an extreme example. But I have met people who happen to be on the boards of very large companies who do just that.


He can, and often does, also vote to take the surplus (after necessary expenditures and investments for the enterprise) and give it to one of the TWO political parties in this country to systematically protect and maintain this exploitative social system. We would call such a thing a Super-PAC, and it’s almost the exclusive funding of most politicians today. In a word, he lives off of the labor of others, off of those who own no property of their own, and are compelled to either sell their labor at a fraction of its value, off of the proletarian class which constitutes 95% of our society.


We cry shame on the feudal baron who forbade the peasant to turn a clod of earth unless he surrendered to his lord a fourth of his crop. We called those the barbarous times. But if the forms have changed, the relations have remained the same, and the worker is forced, under the name of free contract, to accept feudal obligations. For, turn where he will, he can find no better conditions. Everything has become private property, and he must accept, or die of hunger.” -Pytor Kropotkin. The statement still applies, of course, but due to the revolutionized condition of the productive forces since then, we could say that the worker today gives up half of what he produces to the capitalist class, and not a fourth as the feudal peasant would be obliged to give.


The bourgeois may, and more often than not does, do non-productive (but still essential) work to manage the affairs of the enterprise, but because of private property, he is “entitled” to oftentimes 5000x more per hour than his workers produced, that 5000x, mind you, along with all other profits, having been produced by the workers themselves.


I am not saying that innovators and inventors should NOT be compensated, indeed they absolutely should be. A study funded by the Federal Reserve Bank by Daniel Pink (a capitalist organization if there ever was one), found that MODERATE compensation was best to encourage further innovation from a creative individual. Meaning that it would be better for, say, Bill Gates, to have received a 150,000$ salary for his invention, than a 5 Billion dollar one. The study found that LOW and HIGH financial compensation had almost identical results in promoting further innovation. This study only furthers the evidence that capitalism, while it socialized the productive forces which made rapid innovation and expansion possible, is not the best mode of production if innovation is the concern. On the contrary, socialism, and communism would be.


Under a socialist system, or a market socialist system as would be the first step towards the complete socialist mode of production (which, mind you, has never been established in an advanced capitalist country as Marx believed it would have to be as a prerequisite to socialism, can elaborate further if asked), the board of directors which determine WHAT is produced, how much is produced, etc. would be DEMOCRATICALLY elected by the workers themselves and the general public, would receive NO MORE THAN A WORKMAN’S WAGE (not millions), and subject to immediate recall at anytime. The surplus produced by ALL THE WORKERS, would be democratically distributed BACK TO ALL THE WORKERS, instead of going into the pockets of a few. The workers themselves would decide what to do with the surplus they collectively produced. If it was the STATE deciding what was produced, then that would be state-capitalism, not socialism, and certainly not communism as communism requires the absence of the state altogether.


Also, I can provide a feasible example of how innovation would even increase under socialism. My friends and I, given a year or two, could program and create a computer program in which orders for a restaurant could be spoken directly to the computer and inputed (using the various incorrect terms and sayings that customers use). This could and would negate the need for cashiers altogether even though would vastly increase net profits for an enterprise and speed up production speed. HOWEVER, if we DID create such a thing, we would no doubt lose our jobs. Under a socialist system, such an innovation would mean increased profits not for a capitalist at the top, but for the workers as a whole. Automation would mean vacations, not lay-offs. Workers would be inspired to innovate because they know that said innovation would benefit them, and not someone at the top. Not to mention that the workers would no doubt decide to appropriate a larger wage to those innovators from the surplus that they collectively produced.



Briefly, On the Sacred Nature of Literature : Books Are Thought Traps!



June 2, 2017



Long ago when someone wanted to preserve a message, they carved it on stone in the form of a picture. Today we have written language and books, allowing us to send complicated messages, thoughts, and ideas into the indefinite future. Books are thought traps! That is the essence of my appreciation of literature. You can collaborate on a project with Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, etc. without ever having met said person. When you read something, your thoughts become their thoughts, even if for just a moment. You quite literally hear the thoughts of dead geniuses in your own head, for you to freely contemplate, listen to patiently, and build off of. The thoughts of those long gone, still echo off the bookshelf. I cannot emphasize the miraculous nature of such a phenomenon enough.

Literature, and written language are the SOLE reason for human progress today. As Isaac Newton himself said, “If I have seen further than others, it is by having stood on the shoulders of giants.” This is a direct reference to the written literature of brilliant minds who had long ceased to be when Newton took up their torch. Human endeavor is a collaborative effort, stretching across both time and space. Next time you read a book, remember that whoever wrote it decided to preserve that thought, idea, or story in time indefinitely, to exist for hundreds if not thousands of years after their physical mind ceased to be. Appreciate literature, it is sacred.









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