The Balance of forces domestically: contradictions among the people and intra-elite competition.
“…the ultimate aim of this most bourgeois of all nations would appear to be the possession, alongside the bourgeoisie, of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat. In the case of a nation which exploits the entire world this is, of course, justified to some extent.” Engels to Marx in an October 1858 letter, on the English proletariat. (1)
Socialists in the United States have their work cut out for them. Though conditions for socialist construction materially exist as a highly developed means of production and a large wage earning class the balance of class forces is decisively poised against any real or actually existing powers of conscious proletarian revolution. This is largely due to the colonial, settler and imperialist history of the country and its status as the world’s chief oppressor nation and global linchpin of world imperialism since the end of WWII. It is only natural for a country that has been the center of world imperialism for almost an entire century for bourgeois polity to be firmly entrenched domestically.
Despite excitement from socialists in the United States over the recent election of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who was elected as a Democrat, essentially all levers of state power remain centralized inside of bourgeois political parties within bourgeois state institutions and no dual power capable of existentially challenging the hegemony of bourgeois politics yet exists. AOC has even already voted in favor of funds for the current coup in Venezuela and for the maintenance of ICE. A powerful party of labor does not exist. There is no “mass party of labor”. Despite left liberals who masquerade as socialists like AOC and Bernie Sanders standing politically with imperialism through the votes they cast, their campaigns have done much to popularize socialist ideas. From here proletarian power should continue to be built and Marxist-Leninist ideology should be advanced and geared towards the principles of Marxist-Leninist party building. Doing this correctly though means taking a healthy, sober and real evaluation of the realities of the balance of class forces or the actual human material of the United States.
The material resources, the wealth, the coercive powers, and the myriad of privileges the United States ruling class has accumulated for itself began in the earliest pre-national days of settler-colonialism and grew and expanded since that time through the war of United States formation and national independence and into what it is today while maintaining the interests of private property, wealth and capital accumulation with the white settler population at the core of accumulation. The United States national polity is the historical continuator and enforcer of the white supremacy of the colonial days in the present in the form of capitalism and imperialism in North America. As of December 2017 73% of white families own their own home in the United States as opposed to 43% of black families (2). The situation is not much better for other non-white minorities within the USA.
The US ruling class has essentially been able to “buy off” the majority of the US working class of European descent, reducing them to a kind of labor aristocracy with petty bourgeois consciousness that believes in US imperialism as righteous and good and more or less genuinely believes that Democrats and Republicans speak to and can and have met their needs and the needs of their parents, and often times their parent’s generation before them. The material reason is that many workers, especially white workers, have small “stakes” in the capitalist mode through property and wealth ownerships which have accrued due to many official policies over the centuries geared towards benefiting and enfranchising the majority of whites. A key example of this de jure white supremacy is the institution of home ownership. Richard Rothstein in his book “The Color of Law” explains how during the administration of Woodrow Wilson “Terrified by the 1917 Russian revolution, government officials came to believe that communism could be defeated in the United States by getting as many white Americans as possible to become homeowners – the idea being that those who owned property would be invested in the capitalist system. So in 1917 the Federal Department of Labor promoted an “Own-Your-Own-Home” campaign…” (3).
The Home Ownership campaign of the Wilson administration is just one example of many official, de jure government programs meant to materially enfranchise the white population with stakes in property ownership while marginalizing the black and non-white population. This is just one example of countless official government policies which reinforce and continually recreate the conditions for white supremacy. These official campaigns of government backed enfranchisement of whites into the private property system have been perpetuated in combination with persistent and consistent anti-Communist propaganda campaigns since at least the time of the Bolshevik revolution. Anti-Communism has become the unofficial religion of the United States. This religion is constantly being reinforced by propaganda in not just the news but even in popular culture which celebrates USA great national chauvinism and what Michael Parenti would refer to as a kind of “super patriotism” and that openly attacks Communism. As has been recently revealed by the Freedom of Information Act: the “US government has worked behind the scenes on over 800 major movies and more than 1,000 TV titles.” (4) The combination of these official policies has molded the “white working class” (or at least large portions of it) of the United States into a type of political consciousness which does not see politics as legitimate or “acceptable” unless they are a. white and b. propertied. This is why even during the 2016 presidential campaign Trump had spoken specifically about the “white working class”.
Bourgeois political parties have dominated the course of national events from the founding of the country and a successful labor party based on the self-conscious class power of the proletariat never historically coalesced. This is the case now and was the case in the past because of real material reasons which stretch all the way back to the settler foundations of the United States with all of its complex contradictions among the people from its beginnings and not due to Communists not trying hard enough to build socialism in North America. It is not something that is historically fixed, but something that has been historically barred from developing because of unresolved contradictions between the people.
In 1929 Stalin mentioned in a speech to the CPUSA that the idea of “American Exceptionalism” existing in terms of the United States being immune to the crises of capitalism or exempt from basic features of capitalism is wrong (5). It is very true that the United States is not at all exempt from the basic features of or the crises of capitalism and imperialism. However, a certain kind of ‘American Exceptionalism’ , or a couple very important peculiarities do exist in that the USA was founded on settler colonialist roots with no feudal past by petty proto-capitalist at an early part of the world historical transitional epoch between feudalism and capitalism. These colonists, who left primarily England and the Netherlands in pursuit of private accumulations of land and or wealth, was to carry the historical quality of pre-capital. These land owning colonists based the acquisition of their land in the first place on swindle and genocide and then used the slave labor of kidnapped Africans for the bulk of profitable productive work; land cultivation, from which whole economies in the North American colonies were created to finance and service.
The United States is also geographically removed from Europe, where most of the core countries of capitalist and imperialist development reside and was thus able to escape the cataclysms of World War I and World War II essentially unscathed.
The combination of an essentially several centuries long white supremacist settler colonial project that was primarily concerned with the mass plunder of an entire continent, or to later be known as “Manifest Destiny”, in combination with the geographic isolation of the United States from other ever-conflicting core capitalist countries of European capital allowed the USA to become the historically unprecedented power it is today.
By 2045 or in only roughly 26 years “whites” are set to become a “racial minority” in the United States. The end of white supremacy as a demographic fact of US society is only about a quarter of a century away and has not only roused the most reactionary sentiments in the extreme haute bourgeoisie but also throughout the entirety of “white society”. This was the true meaning of the “Tea Party” which arose quickly after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, the first “warning bells” of the end of white supremacy by white supremacists masquerading in the guise of a type of “liberty” history has exposed as a hypocritical farce. The approach to this 2045 mark and the years after it will mean an intensification of the reactionary process of white supremacism in its historical deaththrows in which it will unload whatever violence it is able to onto a population increasingly less white. This is why as long as capitalism and imperialism continue, White Supremacy, though ending as an demographic fact of race in the US in 2045, will continue as a political fact which is the historical meaning of why fascism is now rising in the United States.
While interest in socialism, socialist theory and socialist organizing on the ground has gotten stronger and more consistent the real material balance of class power between the working classes and bourgeoisie has not shifted much at all in favor of the working classes in terms of state power but, on the national level has backslid, enhancing the state and extralegal powers of white supremacy and fascism. As Georgi Dimitrov mentioned in his report to the 7th World Congress of the Comintern fascism is “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” (6) This enhancing of fascist state power has not only exacerbated contradictions within the working classes but has also caused a deepening of the intraclass antagonisms between different strata of the capitalist class as the terroristic violence of the most extreme reactionary wing of the haute bourgeoisie also at times targets other layers or groups within the capitalist class in the process of wresting complete control of the bourgeois state machine. The process of fascist consolidation of state power has therefore widened and exacerbated the social fracture lines of US society to an extent not seen since the Civil War. As a historical process it has been brought about as a result of the new period of global stagnation and eventual decline of US and NATO empire globally.
Marxists in the US would do well to recognize the peculiarities of the historical development of capitalism and imperialism and its basis on settler-colonialism and expansion in North America and the United States as they are reflected in the features of all classes of society today. It is only through having a firm grasp on this that unfolding events can be fully understood and thereby the road to socialism in North America evaluated and navigated to successful revolutionary outcomes.
The International balance of power: a struggle between oppressed nations and oppressor nations, between labor and capital.
The collapse of the USSR and Eastern bloc in 1991 meant a major setback globally for the international communist revolution. Capitalism as a world historical mode seemingly was unchallenged in any serious way for a whole historical period for the first time since at least before World War II when the Soviet Union existed, though as a marginal player in the power politics of Europe and Asia and certainly not as a world scale power able to existentially threaten capitalism it emerged from the second World War as. The actually existing forces of socialism that retained state power were reduced to a small handful, none of which could existentially compete with capitalism. Even China was now “capitalist” or so we were told throughout the 1990s.
By the early 2000s something began to change. Cuba had made its way through the ‘Special Period’ of the 90s. By the early 2000s the ‘Pink Tide’ was apparent and by the mid to late 2000s ALBA or the Bolivarian Alliance countries had arrived on the stage of history as a new socialist (if only a soft or ‘pink’ socialist) bloc, very much so supported and financed by the People’s Republic of China, also of which was help to Cuba in navigating the ‘Special Period’.
At the same time as this Russia was recovering its balance from having endured the counter-revolution that was the fall of the Soviet Union. Owing to it’s history, even on the basis of bourgeois polity Russia found itself in an antagonistic position in relation to the United States and NATO if only in defense of its own national interests and sovereignty, as by the late 1990s NATO had already converted most of Russia’s former Eastern European socialist allied countries into their spheres of influence.
In 2003 came the Second Iraq War in which the US and NATO, still flexing over the ‘end of history’, were able to essentially go unchallenged in exerting their will. This continued and was essentially unchallenged for the last time in 2011 with the joint US and NATO overthrow of the Libyan Jamahiriya government.
By 2012 the US and NATO had the same plan for the Syrian Arab Republic as they did for Baathist Iraq and Socialist Jamahiriya Libya. The difference now was that forces antagonistic to the unbridled rule of US and NATO hegemony, for reasons of the broad social antagonisms of the transitional epoch between capitalism and socialism, now had something of enough strength again to be able to challenge US and NATO imperialism and stifle the plans of overthrowing the SAR and replacing it with another sphere of the West in the region under proxy Saudi dominance which can only mean generalized barbarism on the basis of religious fundamentalism and the expansion of the encirclement of Russia, Iran, and ultimately the geo-political clamping down on the People’s Republic of China. All of which means new wars of imperial maintenance to the people of the US.
And now, after the largest expansion of wealth the ruling class has seen in many historical periods, probably since the Gilded age, the historical repercussions of imperialism for the countries which make up NATO are occurring in various ways. This takes the form of opposition in the geo-political sphere to US and NATO interests from Russia and China along with regional powers which strive to express their autonomy from global capital and imperialism. Socialist China as an essential link and major hub of production in the world capitalist mode itself means that less control over global market forces are able to be exerted by Western capitalists for the purpose of private accumulation. Migrant crises caused by centuries of Monroe Doctrine policies in the Americas and recent topplings and destabilizations of North African and Middle Eastern governments in Europe are another way the contradictions of imperialism are making themselves felt in the core. On top of all this is the promise capitalism brings of looming and unavoidable fresh market crises born out of the internal contradictions of the capitalist mode itself. All these things mean the growing restriction of United States and NATO market interests abroad and the general frustration of the ruling classes of these countries abroad which find their outlet in increased intra-elite competition.
As Fidel Castro said in the Spring of 2015: “Today, the solid alliance between the peoples of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, the State with the world’s fastest economic growth, is possible. With their close cooperation, powerful armies and brave soldiers, both countries constitute a mighty shield for peace and world security, so that the life of our species may be preserved.” (7)
At the time this essay was being written or was nearly completed even, Trump recognized Juan Guaido as the “legitimate” president of Venezuela. Followed by this Colombia, Brazil and all other “Lima Group” countries, excluding Mexico, also recognized Guaido as the “legitimate president” of Venezuela. US Imperialism is attempting to now consolidate itself in the Western Hemisphere where its plans have been stifled in Syria by attempting to make Venezuela into the Syria of Latin America, unleashing a Civil War in Venezuela. US Imperialism saw its interests blocked in Syria by the global “security shield” Fidel Castro mentioned in the excerpt above and it will also see its interests in Venezuela blocked by the same anti-hegemonic global security shield.
What is the result of this new balance of international forces on the core countries of capitalism? Foremostly, as the ability of the United States and NATO to reap profits abroad is curtailed antagonisms within that alliance between the bourgeois countries that make them up and those antagonisms within the capitalist classes of those countries themselves are sharpening. The criticism of NATO Trump gave, that NATO member states are going to have to start “paying their share” is an expression of this phenomenon. The Brexit movement is another. The fierce, civil war like atmosphere that has taken grip of US politics that began once Obama was elected and which only became fiercer and more intense with the rise of Trump is yet another one. As a result of the drive for capital accumulation by the imperialist powers being stifled abroad they find themselves, as a class, in a deep political crisis at home over how to handle the slow down in achieved ambitions. Owing to its vast historical accumulation of material resources in terms of wealth, capital and actual material coercive force US capitalism and the US capitalist class has the material ability to, if not be able to save Empire abroad, then to be able to save its hegemony at home through the shedding of liberal democracy and the rise of open fascism by the most reactionary layers of the United States capitalist class and this is what Trump represents. From there a fully fascist US would be able to have what some layers of the US ruling class have been wanting for a long time, not just war with small countries that opposed US interests but its main competitors Russia and China, that is the long term existential threats to its global hegemony. Domestically, any war with Russia and or China for the US working classes would go hand in hand with the historical entrenchment of fascism and the lowering of living standards all around with “super patriotism” as the prime virtue. Internationally, in the process of this mad dash to war, for allies who do not march fast enough, or “pay their fair share”, be they NATO or not, it will mean being discarded in the name of US interests.
The rise of fascism means the most dominant pools of capital in society, the banking sector, huge industry, entrenching themselves further as hegemons through the use and financing of an astroturf “popular” movement propelled by the most reactionary layers of the working class and petty bourgeoisie. This process at the same time means the shedding, severing and splitting off of layers within the bourgeoisie in an intensification of intra-elite competition. This process of the fascists grinding down the liberal wing of the capitalist class into submission does and can yield some opposition from left liberals and social democrats.
The history of liberal and social democratic behavior during arising fascism shows they a. need to be engaged with in the formation of an anti-fascist people’s front, but at the same time b. cannot be fully trusted to be completely consistently reliable allies of the revolution owing to their vacillating petty bourgeois intermediary station in class society. Even still, this vacillating layer can be the decisive factor as to whether or not fascism prevails. Had the Social Democrats and Communists maintained a firm United Front would Hitler have been elected? The history in this case was that the Social Democrats a. sold out the German people by voting for war credits and entry into WWI and then b. after a popular movement brought them to power after German defeat in WWI used their post war social democratic government to crush a Communist uprising. It’s no wonder the KPD did not want to work with the Social Democrats before the election of Hitler in a United Front or a People’s Front with that kind of record, but the historical tragedy is that they essentially had to to have had a chance to stop Nazism
So it is the same case today with us as revolutionary communists in the face of unfolding US fascism. We should be finding common ground with left liberals and social democrats. We should be building a People’s Front to stop fascism. We should be at the same time studying and ever examining the changing and shifting patterns of the deepening splits and fissures within the US capitalist class to draw left liberals and social democrats to conclusions which will advance the conditions which will make socialist construction actually possible in North America.
The foundations for socialist construction in North America
So after a long period in which the United States and NATO have gone unchallenged internationally, the forces of socialism and anti-hegemony have managed to re-establish a “protective shield” for themselves. At the same time as this, at the national level, the historic contradictions among the people that US capitalism and the United States of America itself were born with are beginning to exasperate in the same kind of seismic way we saw in 1861, that is, in the language of civil war. Politically, because of the vastness of the material dominance of the capitalist class over the rest of US society, (which also dominates largely the entire world) in terms of the sheer quantity and size of accumulations of wealth spread over a large geographical area in one national polity, intra-elite competition between antagonistic layers of capitalists becomes inevitable and makes this antagonism a chief one in society especially in the absence of any organized political force of labor, thus civil war manifests as between factions, layers and stratas of the capitalist class.
What conditions will make it possible to build socialism within North America? Firstly, the United States is not one nation. It is a polity of many and indeed, a prison house of nations ruled by white supremacy which was historically cobbled together explicitly to keep white land owners and capitalists hegemonic within developing North American society from the times of earliest colonization right down to the present. All oppressed ethnic minorities and nations within the United States, if their community wills it, have a right to autonomy, self-determination and national liberation. Regions of the United States that no longer want to be a part of or materially support the growing fascism of the United States of America will also be seeking self-determination and national liberation as movements which realize the only way that fascism and global imperialism can be ended is by leaving the USA as a polity arise. This way forward will become increasingly clear, on the basis of freedom struggles like Black Lives Matter and the national liberation and self determination of oppressed ethnicities and nations within the United States and on the basis of regions within the United States deciding to leave the polity on the basis of having no choice to do other than this to avoid having their resources taken by a global and domestic fascist empire as in the case of Calexit.
Who within the United States, from a Marxist-Leninist perspective, do not have the right to self-determination? Whites within the United States do not have a right to self-determination as their “national” interests have been, historically speaking, made manifest through the white supremacy that is the United States itself as a national polity for hundreds of years now and the pursuit of any sort of “white nation” means only a step towards more overt and blatant white supremacy, imperialism, slavery, fascism, capitalism and generalized ruling class cruelty, that is, exactly what Trumpist fascism more or less openly already represents. Self-determination for whites as an ethnic group separate from oppressed ethnicities and nationalities means the expression of the same white supremacy we have seen for hundreds of years. The way forward for whites in the Western Hemisphere is either forward towards integration with the rest of the peoples of Americas or backwards to insulated and fascist “white nationalism”. This is why the status of whites as a nation, with their own national aspirations or the validity of any white nation on any level is invalidated and denied by Marxist-Leninist theory. This wholesale rejection of the concept of “whiteness” itself will be shown in practice to be the only correct way forward towards socialist construction in North America.
The first type of national liberation movement, struggle for self-determination or freedom struggle for democracy in the face of authoritarian white supremacy in the United States is that of the indigenous peoples, African Americans, Chicanos and other whole nations and ethnic minorities which have been ensnared under the yoke of white supremacy. The reasons for this type are deeply embedded in history and first began to arise in the days of Columbus. These are deeply rooted ethnic and national contradictions we commonly call “racial tensions” that have existed at a hypostatic level in our society for hundreds of years now, changing and altering with the development and growth of capitalism, imperialism and now fascism. These “racial tensions” have been an ever present, antagonistic and regressive force in society. A contradiction among the people that was originally born out of the literal genocide, plunder, slavery , rape and “settling” process of the Americas that began in the early colonial epoch, picked up pace with United States chauvinist “Manifest Destiny” and still continues as a primary mechanism of the rule of capital to this day. It is the collective decision of the oppressed ethnicities and nationalities within the United States what form liberation takes (whether autonomy or actual national liberation), however, one thing is clear, remaining under the yoke of the polity that is US fascism and empire will only mean further oppression.
The second type of national liberation movement and struggle for self-determination in the United States is based on a difference of politics and potentially economy from the rest of the United States and would take place on the basis of break away polities occurring. The CalExit movement is an example of this. Currently the CalExit movement appears to be under the influence and or leadership of either incredibly naive liberals who engage in wishy-washy sometimes pro-imperialism, sometimes anti-imperialism or aspiring compradors. The CalExit movement’s founding leadership, on the day US imperialism unleashed the ploy of declaring Juan Guaido president of Venezuela onto the people of the American hemisphere declared support for the coup on its Facebook page. The Venezuelan opposition will never find themselves politically inclined to support Calexit and owe their own vitality to US imperialism and Trumpist fascism itself. There was much outrage in the comments of rank and file followers of a certain CalExit Facebook page declaring themselves in opposition to the founding leadership of CalExit’s apparently declared line that it is in favor of the Juan Guaido coup and the beginning of a regional war in Latin America for the blatant interests of US imperialism which would once again make Latin American the United State’s “back yard” as Evo Morales said. The goal of this ploy by US imperialism is to overthrow Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua which arch-imperialist John Bolton, and architect of this campaign called in recent months a “troika of tyranny”. While the Calexit founding leadership has made a strange choice many of those who had previously looked to it as a guiding star understand the only correct line for a polity that wishes to gain autonomy from the imperial center is a consistent line of international solidarity with anti-imperialism.
CalExit has also made mistakes in terms of its handling of relations and proposals to indigenous peoples. It is, even if an unconscious and liberal one that is infected with oppressor nation chauvinism itself, an example of an anti-imperialist policy of national self-determination, though an inconsistently internationalist and chauvinist one, which if successful a. would allow whatever population that resides under its governance to avoid Trumpist fascism b. would deny the Trumpist fascist entity material support and c. would deny imperialism much material support that it uses to exert force with around the world as an oppressor nation to oppress other nations. In terms of it’s ethnic composition, owing to the demographics of North America, a movement such as Calexit remains majority white and thus is embedded with, as the foolish endorsement of Juan Guaido exposes, white supremacist and oppressor nation chauvinism at least in terms of its approaches or modes of operation. Currently it appears that within the CalExit movement though the founding leadership has exposed itself to have deep oppressor nation and pro-imperialist chauvinist features, many who subscribe to lines of secession within the CalExit movement and in other regions have taken the correct line of consistent anti-imperialism and are opposed to the the coup against the Maduro presidency.
Fascism, at its ultimate core value is all about profit returns. It strips away the “social contract” of bourgeois liberal democracy and retains the core virtue of capitalism, the bottom line, as the highest virtue while scrapping all other ones pertaining to democratic rights. It is often said that fascism is “capitalism in decay” and indeed it is the decaying of liberal democracy in favor of simply cold, hard, undisguised coercion of all kinds; economic, official, unofficial, paramilitary, domestic and international etc.
Both types of national liberation struggles are tied up with the historical reality that capitalism itself can never fully and consistently deliver all the rights it legally promises as the power of capital extends its hand into the political sphere also to curtail and render inconsistent even basic bourgeois democratic rights such as universal voting, the history of which itself has been a long and unfolding process to universal suffrage. Even the 2016 election revealed a critical inconsistency in the bourgeois electoral machinery; winning the popular vote means nothing, the electoral college means everything.
As Lenin explains in Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution: “The more complete and determined, the more consistent the bourgeois revolution, the more assured will be the proletarian struggle against the bourgeoisie for Socialism. … And from this conclusion, among other things, follows the thesis that, in a certain sense, a bourgeois revolution is more advantageous to the proletariat than to the bourgeoisie. This thesis is unquestionably correct in the following sense: it is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie to rely on certain remnants of the past as against the proletariat, for instance, on the monarchy, the standing army, etc. It is to the advantage of the bourgeoisie if the bourgeois revolution does not too resolutely sweep away all the remnants of the past, but leaves some of them, i.e., if this revolution is not fully consistent, if it is not complete and if it is not determined and relentless …. The very position the bourgeoisie occupies as a class in capitalist society inevitably causes it to be inconsistent in a democratic revolution. The very position the proletariat occupies as a class compels it to be consistently democratic. The bourgeoisie looks backward, fearing democratic progress, which threatens to strengthen the proletariat. The proletariat has nothing to lose but its chains, but with the aid of democracy it has the whole world to gain. That is why the more consistent the bourgeois revolution is in achieving its democratic changes, the less will it limit itself to what is of advantage exclusively to the bourgeoisie. The more consistent the bourgeois revolution, the more does it guarantee the proletariat and the peasantry the benefits accruing from the democratic revolution.” (8)
Thus, fascism occurs when the democratic revolution or liberal democracy, is dismantled by big capital. Fascism is an eclecticism of all the old and leftover barbarisms of capitalism and all past class and state societies made new again as an effort to insure the rule of capital in its late and decaying phases. In the history of the bourgeois democratic system of the United States the bourgeois democratic revolution has gone from in the beginning to being highly inconsistent to being less inconsistent. Even still though, there remain deep antagonisms which make it so the democratic revolution is far from “complete” in US society and this unresolved contradictions of the democratic revolution at the same time stifles the development of socialist forces at home, but also can only be resolved by socialist forces. The descent into fascism means the forces of ruling class barbarism are prevailing in society over the forces of socialism. It is signified by the increasing of inconsistencies in delivery on the legal promises or “social contract” of bourgeois democracy to more and more people, eroding foremostly those at the margins in the name of stabilizing the white supremacist project as the United States loses international hegemony and the country becomes less and less white.
The dismantling of bourgeois democratic society in favor of open fascism will mean a major step backwards and even many members of the liberal bourgeoisie know and realize this, only they cannot oppose it in more than in rhetoric as their bottom line depends on it, the bourgeois media outlets CNN and MSNBC are perfect examples of this.
It is the task of revolutionary communist forces in this period to bring under its leadership all social forces who are in real opposition to imperialism and fascism if possible and when not possible to influence them towards all measures which will uphold democratic society against the expansion of fascism while at the same time building the the anti-imperialist and communist movement generally.
A Fractured Society with fascist characteristics as the outcome of the settler-colonial-capitalist-imperialist historical project.
The tone among liberals and many on the left is that the 2018 midterm elections mean the decisive defeat of Trumpism and fascism but this is not the case. Trump will more than likely be re-elected in 2018 as if the Democrats had a rising star in their back pocket we would know of them by now. In fact, the only type of candidate which could possibly stand a chance against Trump would be a 1. left liberal of the Bernie Sanders or Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez type or 2. a liberal popular media star or magnate such as Oprah Winfrey or Mark Zuckerberg. Besides all this, the phenomena of fascism in the United States is one that brought Trump to power, not one that exists because of Trump and with or without him will continue as an unfolding social process the overwhelming majority of liberals themselves are complicit in.
Any attempt by the the liberals to run a conventional centrist liberal politician such as Beto O’Rourke will end in failure. An attempt to have a centrist unity ticket comprised of anti-Trump establishment Republicans such as Bush or Romney types with establishment liberals like Project for a New American Century signer Joe Biden too will meet with failure.
In the first scenario in which a left liberal such as Bernie Sanders got the nomination the Democrats would win the Presidency. The issue is that the entrenched centrist forces within US liberalism which control the Democratic Party a. will not tolerate even this b. if somehow Bernie were elected he would be pushed even further right than he already has been. This is evident from the demise of the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign which was sabotaged by collusion between the DNC and the Clinton campaign. It is also further evidenced by the fact that former president Barack Obama made a conscious decision not to support or endorse Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez on account of her being “too far left” even though AOC has now voted with imperialism, even voting for a $20 million “democracy in Venezuela” fund for the imperialist coup there. The rise of a left liberal Democratic Socialist candidate is a hard and unlikely path which will mean once again a smothering of those forces by the more conservative and hegemonic layers of the Democratic Party.
In the event of the second scenario an establishment centrist Democratic ticket or a centrist “unity ticket” with center Democrats and Republicans too would split the Democratic party, weakening it and alienating whatever left following they have, sending them into the arms of left liberal alternatives as in 2016 like Jill Stein and the Green Party.
The only strategy the establishment Democrats really could use to win would be to run a counter-celebrity who can be “everything to everyone” in the way Trump was to the right wing. This could only be done via a personality such as Oprah Winfrey or some other political “outsider” who could blind the broad left into unity on the basis of their seemingly “familiar” charisma in the same way Obama had done in 2008 and Trump had done in 2016.
Peace from the consequences of fascism and imperialism at home can only be achieved through socialist revolution and owing to the material balance of class forces in the United States, this can only take the form of a united, multinational, Peoples’ Front of all progressive democratic forces and oppressed working peoples in North America under consciously Marxist-Leninist leadership. Only on this basis can the contradictions between the people based on ethnicity and nations, which have been present since the beginning of US history and European settlement of North America, find a social outlet in liberation rather than social tensions based on contradictions among the people. Likewise, only on this basis can the antagonisms within the capitalist class itself find anything close to an outlet that moves society closer to being able to build socialist foundations.
In regards to the increasingly open antagonisms with the capitalist class Peter Turchin mentions: “Intense intra-elite competition leads to the rise of rival power networks, which increasingly subvert the rules of political engagement to get ahead of the opposition. Instead of competing on their own merits, or the merits of their political platforms, candidates increasingly rely on “dirty tricks” such as character assassination (and, in historical cases, literal assassination). As a result, excessive competition results in the unraveling of prosocial, cooperative norms (this is a general phenomenon that is not limited to political life). Elite overproduction in the US has already driven up the intensity of intra-elite competition. Another clear sign is the unraveling of social norms regulating political discourse and process that has become glaringly obvious during the 2016 presidential election. Analysis of past societies indicates that, if intra-elite competition is allowed to escalate, it will increasingly take more violent forms. A typical outcome of this process is a massive outbreak of political violence, often ending in a state collapse, a revolution, or a civil war (or all of the above).” (9)
So, it is because of “elite overproduction” or the “over production of an elite class” which is the result of imperialism itself that intra-elite competition or intra-class antagonisms between the different layers of the capitalist class can take place. Since the end of World War I when Communist forces first gained state power for a sustained period of time it has been that when “intense intra-elite competitions” takes place it has made room for socialist projects to be able to expand and grow. It was due to imperial Russia’s over extension of itself in the natural antagonism of the world capitalist mode between competing pools of capital, specifically competition with German and Central Powers capital, that lead to not just the demise of tsardom but also the political vacuum and room for Bolshevism to have been able to take power in the first place. This is the essence of Lenin’s famous “Revolutionary Defeatism”.
Mao wrote: “The prolonged splits and wars within the White regime provide a condition for the emergence and persistence of one or more small Red areas under the leadership of the Communist Party amidst the encirclement of the White regime. … If only we realize that splits and wars will never cease within the White regime in China, we shall have no doubts about the emergence, survival and daily growth of Red political power.” (10)
“China is the only country in the world today where one or more small areas under Red political power have emerged in the midst of a White regime which encircles them. We find on analysis that one reason for this phenomenon lies in the incessant splits and wars within China’s comprador and landlord classes. So long as these splits and wars continue, it is possible for an armed independent regime of workers and peasants to survive and grow. ” (11)
Thus, above we have seen that the rise of fascism itself means a process of intra-class antagonism between capitalists, or “intra-elite competition” as Turchin calls it. Furthermore, because of the “American Exceptionalism” of the country, the United States also has found itself with a vast “overproduction” of the “elite class”, or a gross accumulation of wealth, capital and property that in terms of the class composition of the country is reflected in high numbers of bourgeoisie in competition with each other across the broad continental geography of the US. As the contradictions of capitalism grow internationally with the rise of a new anti-hegemonic bloc on the world stage the forces of the ambitions of US capital that once found outlets globally are pushed back within national boundaries. This curtailing of market interests abroad manifests domestically as pressures that intensify the antagonisms between the capitalist elite which generally destabilizes society and undermines their own authority while also at the same time creates openings for socialist authority and power to expand.
As this intra-elite competition intensifies there will emerge some “patriotic bourgeoisie” that find themselves in the camp of the People’s Front. These types are not the Keith Obermanns of the “Resistance” or Andrew Cuomo, but rather left liberals like Jill Stein and Jesse Ventura of the Green Party, and perhaps even sometimes even “social democrats” or “democratic socialists” like Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and the CalExit movement broadly. The credentials for a left liberal worthy of critical support ought to be an acceptance of a. the end of all US military bases and activity around the world b. the acceptance of the right of the people of region to engage in revolutionary socialist construction and or national liberation.
Many Democrats, liberals and leftists believe that the 2018 mid-terms marked a regaining of some kind of stability in the country as far as the intensification of intra-elite competition or an end to Trumpist fascism or the growing and intensifying danger of white supremacist and white nationalist politics and fascism broadly. None of which it really has.
I have heard the criticism of placing importance on antagonisms between pools of capital, whether they be in the form of individuals, corporations or nation-states as a driving force of history as “anti-Marxist”. The notion of competition between competing pools of capital for control over material resources and market spheres itself is an inherent part of Marxist analysis. The capitalist class is heterogeneous and multi-layered. When the bourgeoisie historically “over produces” itself as it has done in the imperialist oppressor countries of the world, specifically in the United States this leads to competing nodes of capital within the national polity forming which compete for advantage against each other. In the absence of an organized political power of labor, such as a workers party, a labor party, a socialist party, a communist party, that can leverage against the bourgeoisie even on the basis of democratic constitutionality and parliamentarianism the bourgeois narrative dominates the entirety of society and the bourgeois political agenda drives the course national events take as there exists no organized forces of labor to materially challenge the one dimensionality of bourgeois social framing on all significant levels.
This contradiction between competing pools of capital has been illustrated clearly in history as having occurred between nations. Stalin’s reports to the 14th and 15th congresses of the CPSU(B) devote entire sections to the intra-class conflict of the capitalist countries as having unresolved contradictions of market interest and intra-imperial antagonisms from WWI that were still in existence and moving towards a new war between the capitalist powers (WWII).
In the world today the largest sums of capital are in a globally hegemonic bloc together politically best made manifest by NATO ultra-imperialism. Fractures are beginning to occur between not just the alliance national polities themselves but within the national capitalist classes of these countries also. This imperialist alliance controls the largest, most powerful and most expansive military that has ever existed, attempting to smite any country that does not go along with its program. Since 1991 it’s chief task had been exerting full control over countries that had been able to gain ground in the national liberation struggle for national self-determination during the Cold War with the assistance of the Soviet socialist bloc. It’s most recent mark in this process had been the Syrian Arab Republic though by the mid 2010s it had been apparent that an anti-hegemonic bloc consisting of the PRC, RF, Bolivarian Alliance and other countries had emerged. The pressures of stifled imperial ambitions could only find their outlets at home while at the same time the misguided and blundering course of both liberal and conservative wings of US imperialism became apparent to the general population, which though still not generally having achieved class consciousness was gaining experience in anti-war movements with some effect with the help of an improved international situation from the outlook of anti-imperialism. As Marxist-Leninists today we should seek to fully understand what antagonisms between competing accumulations of capital or “intra-elite competition” as Turchin puts it, mean for building socialism in North America and the decline of US-NATO Empire broadly.
Theory and Practice
There are a number of ways in which practice has manifested from theory on the left today, some of which is good, some of which is bad, and some of which is mixed.
Firstly, there are numerous Marxist, socialist and communist parties of various tendencies existing within the United States. The majority of them, like the Marxist-Leninist PSL for example, do good organizing and activist work and even many orthodox Trotskyist groups show good initiative at organizing on the basis of allegedly socialist programs as did the group Socialist Alternative who was able to get elected Kshama Sawant a few years ago to Seattle city council and will be up for re-election soon.
The problem with Trotskyism however is that it from the time of its origins to now has been used as a tool of the right to spotlight deficiencies of actually existing socialist projects from a seemingly leftist perspective. Trotsky did this with the USSR, for example in his work “The Revolution Betrayed”, in hopes of inserting his extreme minority factional clique’s view into the leadership of the international Communist movement counter to the Comintern and CPSU’s majority line. The criticisms Trotsky leveled, most of which rest on an idealist understanding of proletarian democracy, was quickly picked up second hand and also used by bourgeois opponents of the USSR. Trotskyism represents a petty bourgeois intelligentsia layer of the party which wishes to lead over and above or insulated from the broad masses. Hence why Trotsky was against the Lenin Enrollment and in turn could never make real connections with the hundreds of thousands of working people who entered the CPSU in the mid 1920s. This same technique of Trotsky’s of standing apart from the real life social forces and presenting oneself as the “pure socialism” against degenerated and deformed “Stalinsts” and “Stalinist” regimes that are only worthy of partial support has been applied by many Trotskyist groups to mean standing in open opposition to “dictators” like Gadaffi and Assad who were openly attacked by imperialism. Or even constantly slandering the People’s Republic of China, like Socialist Alternative or “SAlt” in the USA, part of the CWI constantly do. Defacto support for US and NATO imperialism against the nations which historically gained self-determination and national liberation post World War II from colonial status is not Marxism or even leftism and is exactly what Trotskyism engages in when it joins in with imperialism in its condemnation of anti-hegemonic or socialist countries. It is simply a way of disguising a right wing position in left sounding phraseology and inserting the agenda of imperialism inside the program of the left.
In a similar way anti-revisionist Maoists have played at times this same role as Trotskyites in undermining actually existing socialist projects, like the PRC, Cuba and Bolivarian countries with idealist and anti-materialist ideological takes about how socialism can actually be immediately or more efficiently achieved that does not consider the basis of the material conditions and the balance of class forces which exist nationally and globally today.
Thus within the Marxist scene in the United States there are two lines; broadly, do you support imperialism or are you an anti-imperialist party? In the correct position of consistent anti-imperialist analysis and line there is the Marxist-Leninist Party for Socialism and Liberation which is consistent in its defense of and urging for peace with the PRC, Russia and oppressed nations within the anti-hegemonic sphere. On the other end of the spectrum there are parties like the Trotskyite-Cliffite “International Socialist Organization” whose publications regularly run pro-imperialist, generally anti-communist pieces regularly having even supported the White Helmets in Syria. Of course then there is also the anti-China “anti-revisionist” Maoist crowd who call for essentially the same type of political revolution within China that many Trotskyists do which could only play the role of destabilizing the PRC to the advantage of world imperialism and the partitioning of the country. Between these two ends of the spectrum you may find some orthodox Trotskyist groups who lend alternating levels of “critical support” to the “deformed workers states” of the world rather than flat out rejecting them and declaring neutrality in position between “state-capitalist red fascism” and global imperialism.
There are essentially three types of self-described Marxists that exist within the US centered around the anti-imperialist and pro-imperialist lines; consistent anti-imperialists like the PSL, inconsistent anti-imperialists like the CWI and Red Guards and pro-imperialists masquerading in left sounding phraseology like the ISO.
This line of anti and pro imperialism runs down the middle of the Marxist left because it runs down the middle of the entire left generally. Though totally consistent anti-imperialism is impossible to find among liberalism generally, It is possible to have left liberals of that are more than less consistent in their anti-imperialism, like Jill Stein, who called for the shutting down of all overseas US military bases in the 2016 presidential election race (12) and refused to recognize the Guaido coup, calling it a coup as it is. A more radical line than AOC or Bernie Sanders ever dared who support the coup in Venezuela. Compare this line also to the US “anarcho-communists” Noam Chomksy who wishes to see US troops remain in Rojava to “protect” it from Turkish invasion but is against the coup in Venezuela. Or see the ISO line that excitedly supported US intervention in Syria in the first place. The line struggle between the correct line of consistent anti-imperialism and the wishy-washy sometimes anti-imperialism of anarchism, liberalism and Trotskyist organizations and figures is a decisive one. This difference of lines comes down to being either for the advancement of socialism or for the maintenance of capitalism, white supremacy and world imperialism.
Anarcho-communist organizations and figures too, while demonstrating inconsistency on anti-imperialist positions also have shown an inconsistency on security issues as has been demonstrated by the rogue SRA “Central Texas branch”(13). The decentralized nature of this kind of “community defense” project invites all types from ultra-left adventurers, to confused rightists who self identify as “socialist”, to agent provocateurs. Hence why ultra-left anarchist organizing while having immediate benefits of casting a wide net, has been shown by history to be not effective in the long term and will at some point or another in the revolutionary process present itself as detrimental as anarcho-communist organizational approaches are not based on historical materialism but idealism.
Furthermore, community self defense projects that exists on the basis of whiteness such as Redneck Revolt gives seemingly implicit left support for the maintenance of the white identity within the United States even if this is not the intention and is therefore not just organizationally vulnerable on account of its anarchist practice but also ideologically on account of the ideological angle of associating itself with a continuation of the explicit whiteness of the Young Patriots. Even still, though we find that very strong anti-racist work can be and is being done by some branches of this organization under revolutionary socialist leadership, one still has a sense there is an inconsistency in a. ideology from branch to branch b. approach to practice from branch to branch contingent on this heterogeneity of ideology c. in approaches to organizational concerns having to due with centralism, decentralism, internal democracy and more.
Any kind of white identity as a political defining point will find itself in an odd place within leftist politics of 21st century United States and while I am sure the vast majority of those in Redneck Revolt are anti-racists themselves and are most ardent communists, the framework implicit even in it’s name of “redneck” in the popular consciousness of essentially all people within the United States brings to mind white people, no matter what the allegedly historically true origin of the term is, the popular connotation is of whiteness as this is the definition popular culture seems to have retained.
Ideologically speaking, white identity politics has its historical origins in the earliest settlement and take-over of the Americas by Europeans. Since the end of the Civil Rights movement, in even many liberal circles and milieus today in the United States, conscious ethno-political identification as “white” itself appears as backwards and regressive. This type of conscious political orientation based on the 500 year long hegemonic “ethno-racial” social construct known as “whiteness” can only be something which will serve to further perpetuate the settler-colonial-capitalist-imperialist-fascist historical project which has whiteness and white identity at its core and still historically exists.
Owing to the history of settler-colonialism, ethnic or national projects explicitly for and by whites serve and will more so serve, as the countries becomes less white on the whole, as a “safe place” for whiteness itself.
Community self-defense is a real issue, but anarchist structures have been historically proven and are even still currently being proven, in the case of Rojava, to be lacking both organizationally and ideologically.
On the other end of the spectrum there are the Maoist Red Guard organizations who are qualitatively more wrong than the above mentioned anarchist gun clubs on many more levels despite their fanatical belief that they are upholding “pure” Marxism in the form of MLM which is said in anti-dialectical fashion to be the “highest, third and final” synthesis of Marxism. If the above discussed anarchist gun clubs can be described as essentially anarcho-communist, the Red Guards can only be described as Blanquist which is also a dead end owing to the extremely limited material resources and isolation of these groups in combination with their failure to make any real connections with either the oppressed people themselves or other leftist groups on account of dogmatisms and idealist conceptions of again, ideological purity common among most self-described “anti-revisionists”.
Coalitions between leftist groups are a good strategy, in essence though there are contradictions between these groups, they should work together and in this way a. their struggles against capitalism will be in common and b. ideological questions between groups can be threshed out through healthy dialogue, discussion, communication and verbal exchange. In this way a conscious Peoples Front can be built and already is being built for the purpose of maintaining anti-war and anti-imperialist actions while also combating the growth of fascism. At the same time, it should be realized that the Peoples Front is in itself a road to the expansion of socialist power if it can be taken in combination with a “New Democracy” and a national self-determination approach under Marxist-Leninist leadership. The approach of New Democracy, or a bloc of all anti-fascist classes should be linked up with struggles for national self-determination as a. an approach for maintaining peace from fascism on the local, regional and national levels and b. as an approach to autonomy from an increasingly fascist and long time world imperialist polity. c. as expressions, if so demanded, by oppressed nations and peoples for national liberation and autonomy. As Mao mentioned, in the epoch of the socialist revolution, “No matter what classes, parties or individuals in an oppressed nation join the revolution, and no matter whether they themselves are conscious of the point or understand it, so long as they oppose imperialism, their revolution becomes part of the proletarian-socialist world revolution and they become its allies. ” (14)
Furthermore, it should be mentioned that in the United States due to the over production of elites and the competition between capitalists which will become more regular and more extreme due to the natural contradictions of capitalism itself, openings for expanding the actual political forces of socialism and even winning over some left liberals will become increasing regular. Because of intra-elite competition in the USA and the rise of fascist currents in some factions of the capitalist class actual national self-determination break aways of regions apart from fascist centers may arise if only for the sake of peace and autonomy from fascism.
The institutions of the United States are not historically static. They have their own internal contradictions which reflect those of the class they represent. These historical contradictions are deepening and reaching a point of crisis. In terms of historical and social analysis there is no such thing as “the way things have always been”. To think that anything has “always been”, especially in terms of social and historical analysis, is an anti-dialectical and non-Marxist approach. As Marxist-Leninists we should not be attached to an idea of historical immovability of bourgeois polities, how ever long standing and however endowed with their own grandiose mythologies they are. There is nothing exceptional about the stability of the ruling class in the US and the increasingly sharpening, inane and generally strange contradictions and antagonisms between different factions of the ruling class and their institutions show that intra-elite competitions will likely heighten to the extent that over the next decade or two the creation of new national polities may occur. As Marxist-Leninists with the goal of socialism and ultimately classless, propertyless, stateless high communist society we should be conscious of the multiplicity of contradictions capitalist society in North America rests on.
- Letter of Engels to Marx, 7 October 1858. https://marxists.catbull.com/archive/marx/works/1858/letters/58_10_07.htm
- US Census Statistics. https://www.census.gov/housing/hvs/data/charts/fig08.pdf
- Rothstein, The Color of Law, Part 4. https://books.google.com/books?id=SdtDDQAAQBAJ&pg=PT56&lpg=PT56&dq=Terrified+by+the+1917+Russian+revolution,+government+officials+came+to+believe+that+communism+could+be+defeated+in+the+United+States+by+getting+as+many+white+Americans+as+possible+to+become+homeowners+-+the+idea+being+that+those+who+owned+property+would+be+invested+in+the+capitalist+system.&source=bl&ots=RKVv4RkRAE&sig=XcFgu2WomzI40vOan7l6V6VDOHk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwifoabox9DfAhVHvlkKHduWAo4Q6AEwAXoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=Terrified%20by%20the%201917%20Russian%20revolution%2C%20government%20officials%20came%20to%20believe%20that%20communism%20could%20be%20defeated%20in%20the%20United%20States%20by%20getting%20as%20many%20white%20Americans%20as%20possible%20to%20become%20homeowners%20-%20the%20idea%20being%20that%20those%20who%20owned%20property%20would%20be%20invested%20in%20the%20capitalist%20system.&f=false
- EXCLUSIVE: Documents expose how Hollywood promotes war on behalf of the Pentagon, CIA and NSA: US military intelligence agencies have influenced over 1,800 movies and TV shows, Tom Secker and Matthew Alford https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/exclusive-documents-expose-direct-us-military-intelligence-influence-on-1-800-movies-and-tv-shows-36433107c307.
- Stalin’s Speeches on the CPUSA. https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/stalin/works/1929/cpusa.htm
- The Fascist Offensive and the Tasks of the Communist International in the Struggle of the Working Class against Fascism, Georgi Dimitrov. https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/dimitrov/works/1935/08_02.htm
- Our Right to be Marxist-Leninists, Fidel Castro. http://www.fidelcastro.cu/en/articles/our-right-be-marxist-leninists
- Lenin, Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/tactics/ch06.htm
- “An Appeal to the American Elites from One of Their Own”. Peter Turchin. http://peterturchin.com/cliodynamica/appeal-american-elites-one/
- Why Is It That Red Political Power Can Exist In China?. Mao Tse-tung. https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-1/mswv1_3.htm
- The Struggle in the Chingkang Mountains. Mao Tse-tung. https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-1/mswv1_4.htm
- August 17, 2016 Jill Stein on CNN. https://grabien.com/story.php?id=62538
- CENTRAL TEXAS: Data Leak Connects Central Texas Socialist Rifle Association to FBI and Fascists https://tygpress.com/post/150252084-503-CENTRAL-TEXAS:-Data-Leak-Connects-Socialist-Rifle-Association-to-FBI-and-Fascists
- On New Democracy. Mao Tse-tung. https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_26.htm