In this final post of my criticism of the contemporary Communist movement, I’ll be merely touching on a few observations I’ve made over the past couple years. These points have less to do with fundamental tenets or issues in various Communist parties or tendencies and the like, and deal more with “cultural” or “attitudinal” problems that seem to be prevalent among Marxists and the far left in general.
It sounds a bit confusing, so I’ll get right to it.
No New Strategy:
I touched on this issue in my first set of criticisms- asserting that Marxism had neglected action in favor of pointless intellectual exercises- but I think I should delve a bit deeper into this.
Perhaps it’s because we’re too busy skirmishing with each other, perhaps it’s because were too busy trying to concoct the perfect “revolutionary theory”, or perhaps we’re just too busy period- regardless of the reason, it’s always struck me that for all the detailed analysis of our past, we really don’t have all that much of a plan for our future.
Let’s face it- we don’t have a strategy for the here and now. Protests? Marches? Slogans? These aren’t much more than the “solutions” offered by our Anarchist cousins.
What bugs me is it’s tough to criticize an Anarchist (either real or phony) for their plans when we just don’t have any ourselves. Barring our joint work in Antifa campaigns, there’s really not a whole lot I can cite when someone genuinely asks me what Communism can do for him or her and their family. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying that Communism has never done anything for anyone- In fact, I typically reference the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense as (from my research, anyways) a strong model for both immediate and long-term social change.
We need to put our intellectual side to use. We need to get to a point where our actions speak louder than our words. We need to provide people with a reason to look to us, rather than begrudgingly investing in the two-party scam year after year after year.
Just a few moments ago, I came across a diatribe written about the Captain America movie, the authors decrying it as a propaganda piece and terrible distortion of history.
Needless to say, it was a pretty dumb article, completely over-analyzing a movie based off of comic books. I’d be hard pressed to cite a better example of the problem I’m talking about than that- it’s all just the same stuff. Over and over, publication after publication, it’s all just another three minutes of “Capitalism is evil! Socialism is good!”, pawned off as the “newest and most in-depth analysis of _______!”.
Do we really not have any new material? Do we really not have anything to throw out there that isn’t rehashing everything we’ve said already? Has there been nothing new added to Communism since the 1960s? Is this what our conversations have been reduced to- in-depth studies of film where we search for anything we can condemn as further proof of the vile nature of Capitalism?
Which brings me to my final point.
The Big Fight:
At the end of the day, the reason for so many of our problems is that we just can’t talk to each other. Why don’t we strategize? Why don’t we unify? Why don’t we question? Because whenever any of us opens our mouth to say something that isn’t some tried and true slogan, we’re terrified of getting called a reactionary or a reformist or a traitor or a host of other insults. No one can say anything contentious- no one can anything period– without people assuming he or she is saying it because he or she is deliberately trying to subvert the entire movement.
There’s no way around it- we’re cynics.
Why? Maybe Communism just appeals to people who sneer at the established order of things. Maybe having our eyes always open to the propaganda and lies we’re fed on a daily basis puts on always on edge. Maybe putting down everyone else is just our defense against having to deal with our own inactivity. Maybe it’s all of these things, or none of them- regardless of the answer, it’s who we are.
And it needs to change.
If we’re ever going to make any progress at all, we need stop making condescension our default reaction whenever anyone says anything. We need to stop putting so much stock in the opinions of people who were the same lot that mocked Che or Huey or Trotsky or Marx. We need to be willing to take risks, and not get smug when they pay off, or afraid to admit when they fail. We need to collectively resurrect dialogue without judgment or old grudges.
I know that, with everything we’ve gone through, it’s tough to accept, but this is what we need:
We need our hope back.