Posts Tagged ‘left-wing

20
Jul
10

A Communist Look Back (and Forward)

It’s been over a year since I first started this blog, and a lot has happened in the world- I think it only appropriate that I write a brief post reviewing the past year and making a few predictions for the next one.

We have the economic crisis (or rather, a series of crises) of such great proportions the public’s faith in Capitalism has been badly shaken. The bailouts, the BP oil spill, the revelation of corruption within the regulatory branches of government- none of these have done much to convince the people that Capitalism has their best interests at heart. Indeed, the loss of faith in the current system has led many to look into alternatives, such as Libertarianism, Socialism, and to an extent, Communism. Despite this, neocolonialism, economic and cultural imperialism continue to spread. The poor and working class of the third world remain largely oppressed. Slavery rates continue to rise. In xenophobic reaction to ever increasing immigration rates, the US and Western Europe has become more hostile to foreigners.

The controversial creation of public healthcare in the US- indicative of widespread dissatisfaction with healthcare under Capitalism (or the lack thereof)- has garnered both enthusiastic support and vehement opposition, most on the far-left have voiced support for the change, but maintain that free, universal healthcare is the only answer.

In short, to say that the past twelve months have brought forth dramatic change would be an exaggeration- at the same time, it is undeniable that have been significant developments in economics and the public views of Capitalism.

Predictions for next year:

1. Continued disillusionment with Capitalism- independent parties will probably gain in popularity.

2. Extreme right-wing reactions in the Republican and Conservative movements will ultimately alienate moderates and undecided voters, resulting in more harm to the GOP/Conservative movement than benefit.

3. Immigration into the US and Western Europe will result in greater hostility towards immigrants, possibly resulting in blatantly anti-immigrant legislation, violence, and the oppression of minorities. Fascists, racists, and extreme right-wing groups will probably be seeing some victories unless this xenophobia is immediately combated.

4.  Austerity measures in some European countries will result (or rather continue to result) in strikes by the working class- some potential for rioting, but no absolute certainty.

Looks like it’s gonna be fun…

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07
May
10

Anarchism and Communsim

Communism is often depicted as a political system in which a faceless, oppressive state exerts almost unlimited control over the lives of the impoverished citizens. This of course isn’t even remotely close the society Marx (and other founders of Communism) called for or the sociopolitical-economic system Communists strive for. Such depictions are a result of generalizing Communism as a whole based on the actions of a certain group (imagine claiming Christianity calls for the ruthless extermination of those of differing religious views based on the participants of the Spanish Inquisition or crusades).

In much the same way Anarchism is commonly considered to be a political system (or lack thereof) in which riots take place in the streets, looters run free, and so forth. In reality Anarchy is a sociopolitical-economic system that attempts to do away with the concept of rulers and the state as a whole. The vilification of Anarchy is a result of propaganda that depicted Anarchists as dangerous maniacs. In reality, both Communism and Anarchism call for similar goals, the creation of a classless, stateless society based around the concepts of public property and community organization. In fact, during the mid 1800s, the terms “Communist” and “Anarchist” were interchangeable! Until 1872 Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin (the leading figures of Communism and Anarchism respectively) worked together.

So what went wrong?

The Communist/Anarchist split occurred as a result of differences in the opinion of which was the greater enemy, Capitalism or the state. The Anarchists argued that the primary goal of the revolution ought to be the abolition of the state, as opposed to the Communist argument that Capitalism was the true oppressor. Now these points of view were (and remain to be) by no means mutually exclusive. Anarchism, like Communism, calls for the institution of private property and community organization- just look at Russian Anarchist Peter Kropotkin who, in essay Economic Views of Anarchism wrote “…The Capitalist exploitation of labor, we must work for its abolition.” Communism, like Anarchism, calls for the abolition of the state- just look at Marx’s essay The Origin of Family, Private Property, and the State in which he claims “…The state… becomes also the politically dominant class, and thus acquires new means of holding down and exploiting the oppressed class.”

So what’s the big difference?

Well the problem that Baukin and his followers saw with Marx’s theory was that focusing on the abolition of Capitalism may lead to the establishment of a new state in which the leaders of the revolution simply replace the overthrown state. Marx and the communists took issue with the fact that focusing on the abolition of the state would simply allow the wealthy and ruling classes to fill the void the state had left.

So who’s right, the Anarchists or the Communists?

Interestingly enough both sides’ concerns have been proven to have equal merit. Without abolishing the state, the Russian revolution quickly devolved into state-capitalism (what we would today call “Socialism”). Without abolishing private property, Capitalism, and the class system, abolishing the state is pointless- Capitalist oppression remains and may even be strengthened by the lack of a regulatory system.

So what it really comes down to isn’t a question of who’s right and who’s wrong. The Communist/Anarchist split shouldn’t be an either/or choice. Both sides are struggling for the same goal and both sides agree that both Capitalism and the state should be wiped out (though there different opinions about which to target first). Should this be something worth bickering over? Absolutely not. This is an opportunity to ensure that the mistakes of early Communist and Anarchist revolutions are not repeated. We worked together at the Paris Commune, we can work together today.

Long live the revolution.

05
Apr
10

The Political Spectrum

It seems that today whenever a right-wing or conservative pundit wishes to criticize the left they use the buzz word “Socialist”. Socialism is, of course, associated with big government and extensive (and invasive) government control of the general public (à la George Orwell’s 1984). Now the issue of simply calling something one doesn’t like about the political left “Socialist” (whether or not said something is actually Socialist or not) is that people have a basic misunderstanding of the socio-politico-economic spectrum. Just take this video by conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck, for example.

As you can see in the opening of the video, there’s a common misconception about the relationship between Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism. Despite the fact that Communism is often portrayed as a more authoritarian version of Socialism, the reality of the situation is that Communism is as detached from Socialism as it is from Capitalism. While both Socialism and Communism reject the Capitalist tenet of private property, Socialism espouses the concept of state property and Communism calls for the institution of public property. Allow me to illustrate.

In a Capitalist world everything is owned privately. “Item X” belongs to you and only you and cannot be taken away from you unless you give it away or trade for something better (though considering the purpose of Capitalism is to get as much “Item X” as possible, it isn’t very likely that you’d just hand it off). In a Socialist world everything would be owned by the state. “Item X” does not belong to you but to the government and only the government and how much you get of it is purely at the whim of the politicians. In a Communist world nothing belongs to anybody (or rather, everything belongs to everybody). “Item X” belongs to you as much as it does to your neighbors and must therefore be shared equally.

Now to this one might argue that while Socialism may advocate state property and Communism may demand public property, since both wish to bring about massive government control the results are the same. Again, the issue with reducing the political spectrum to a linear graph is that political control and economic control simply aren’t the same thing. You can have massive government and state property (Socialism) or massive government and Capitalism (Fascism) or no state control and Capitalism (Objectivism/Libertarianism/Anarcho-Capitalism/etc.) or not state control and public property (Communism/Anarchism/Anarcho-Communism/etc.) or anything in between.

In short, while making the connection between Socialism and Communism is a common mistake, it has be understood that it’s a mistake nonetheless, and only serves in propagating a false understanding not only of Socialism and Communism, but of Capitalism as well.

09
Mar
10

The Communist Perspective: The Arab-Israeli Conflict

Despite the general support the state of Israel is given by the US and other western and 1st world nations, the far-left is almost unilaterally pro-Palestinian. Now this may seem counter-intuitive. After all, Israel is (by today’s standards) an economically left-wing country with many Communist and Socialist-like programs (take the Kibbutzim, for example). Why then do Communists and other leftist ideologies support the Palestinians over the Israelis?  As with most things in life, there’s no single reason.

Firstly, there’s the obvious affinity the far-left has with the proletariat. Despite the fact that Israel does indeed have a Communist party (Maki- which interestingly enough is considerably pro-Palestinian), the majority of the proletariat the Israeli state relies is in fact Palestinian. Indeed, some (including yours truly) have made the argument that Israel is dependent upon the Palestinian proletariat as a primary workforce. Palestinians, who themselves have very little control of natural resources (due largely to such Israeli implementations as the West Bank Barrier) become dependent on the state of Israel for water, medical care, etc. and in exchange provide cheap labor. It’s not a feudal system- it’s a modern incarnation of Sparta (a nation whose obsession with military prowess was based off a need to control its massive slave populace). In short, as for as simple affinity for the working class, Communists and the left feel obligated to support the Palestinians.

Secondly, there are the Communist and left-wing ties to the peoples of the 3rd world and to various tribal and native groups. The members of the third world currently bear the brunt of the ills of Capitalism, being exploited by (most often) Western or 1st world corporations and having their resources monopolized by foreign interests (take the examples of rubber plantations in Brazil in the early twentieth century, for example). Neocolonialism and imperialism are two issues very close to the hearts of many Communists (the fact that most 3rd worlders have systems and values similar to Communism doesn’t help either). Considering the vast, vast majority of Israelis are immigrants from Europe and North America, many Communists consider Israel to be quasi-European colony or an extension of Western culture (or rather anti-culture- but that’s another subject).

Thirdly there’s the ever present issue of human rights violations. Most Communists and leftists believe that Israel uses excessive force in dealing with Palestinians, favors militarism over diplomacy, denies and/or violates Palestinian basic human rights,  and- despite numerous UN demands- continues to aggressively expand into Palestinian territory (just recently Israel approved 112 new apartments in a West Bank settlement).

So in conclusion, while you can- if you search hard enough- find Communists or leftists who are pro-Israel, the percentage of anti-Israeli Communists is so great their perspective is almost always pro-Palestinian.

07
Sep
09

The Communist Perspective: Obama

Over the course of his campaign for the presidency and his past months in office, President Obama has been called many things, from messiah to monster. Among the wide range of names given to the president, one tends to stand out more than others: “Communist”.

We see these accusations everywhere, from bumper stickers replacing the “c” in “Barack” with a hammer and sickle to picket signs audaciously depicting Obama next to Stalin (who incidentally, was not actually Communist). Is there any substance to these accusations? Is Barack Obama a Communist?

The answer is a resounding no.

Now if Barack Obama was indeed a Marxist, we Communists would be dancing in the streets. Allow me to assure anyone in doubt, Barack Obama is most certainly not a Communist. He is a Democrat and he is left-wing within the sphere of the Democrat Party. However, having certain leftist stances does not make a person a Communist. So far, Obama has done nothing to indicate that he intends to abolish the class-system, Capitalism, or the institutions of private property and commerce. Higher taxes, more regulation, and higher government spending in no way equates with the principals of Marxism.

So what do Communists think of Obama? While opinions vary (as they inevitably do), there is both of a feeling of loyalty and disappointment among Marxists on the subject of the current President. After eight years of the generally right-wing policies of George Bush and faced with the prospect of McCain and Palin in the Whitehouse, Communists were of course happy for Obama’s victory, believing that after nearly a decade of right-wing control, any movement to the left would be a step in the right direction. At the same time, Marxists consider Obama and his policies to be addressing the symptoms of the disease, rather than the disease itself. Rather than attempting to solve the debt crises though pumping money into the economy, redistribution of wealth and property is needed to bride the social divide. Rather than attempt to regulate Capitalism, the system needs to abolished completely. In short, Obama is only aspirin for an injury that desperately requires surgery. Granted, it’s better than McCain or another conservative candidate, but Obama simply isn’t enough.

01
Sep
09

Communist Slang

Throughout the years, Communists have been depicted and portrayed in the media as always having beards, thick Russian accents, and a unique vocabulary used when interacting with Capitalists. While only some Communists actually ever had the thick accents and beards hair (let the facts be faced, Colonel Sander’s is just a composite of Stalin’s face and Trotsky’s facial hair) for once the media stereotype of Communists is accurate when it comes to the slang. Communism, you see, is not merely a political-economic system but also a worldview and a kind of culture, and like every culture, there’s a specialized vocabulary that goes along with it. Listed below are some of the more common Communist phrases and terms:

Comrade: Though originating during the French Revolution, the word first became associated with Communism during the mid 1870s, though it was briefly used by the Nazis during the Second World War. The word itself was created (and to this day used) as a term of address doing away with any titles of nobility and royalty. While used in a derogatorily and sarcastic manner by Capitalists to describe someone of a far left-wing orientation, the term “Comrade” is still used as a formal term of address among Marxists.

Imperialist: The term “Imperialist” is an insult commonly used throughout the Communist movement. While the word may have any number of uses, it is most commonly employed to describe a person or group engaged or associated with globalization, unrestricted international or “free” trade, or war. The insult has its origins in the early years of Communism, when imperialism was taking place under the name of colonialism. Sympathizing with the indigenous populations, Communists began applying the word “Imperialist” to those involved in the expansion of European (and later, American) power. The word is still used frequently today, though it is often paired with another word, creating combinations such as “Imperialist Pig” or “Imperialist Exploiter”.

Fascist: While “Fascist” does technically have its own definition (Fascist: noun. A movement or group attempting to maintain culture, Capitalism, tradition, and the status quo through whatever means available) when used as an insult, the word takes on the simpler meaning of “repressive”, “authoritarian”, and “totalitarian”. Often applied to the police, members of far right-wing/conservative groups, and the military, “Fascist” perhaps can be ranked as one of the stronger Communist insults. For those of you who may have difficulty discerning when a Communist is using “Fascist” to refer to the insult or the actual political theory, simply study the tone- if the Communist is screaming and/or throwing things at you while referring to you as a “Fascist”, chances are he’s using the word as an insult rather than a technical term.

Revisionist: While the word “Revisionist” may refer to a number of things, when used in a Communist context, this most commonly refers to heterodox Communist theory (i.e. “Communism” with one or more basic tenets changed). “Revisionist” is often used as an intra-Communist insult, used to attack members of a school of Communism the insulter deems to be strayed from orthodox Marxism.

Revolutionary: While technically used to refer to anything associated with the Communist revolution, the term, when used casually, is simply a positive Communist term meaning “good” or “excellent”. For example, while a Communist would not reply “revolutionary!” when informed of a good event (such as free pizza being delivered to his house), some Communists might describe the pizza as being “revolutionary”. While this term is by no means common, it is used in certain circles.

Capitalist: Like “Revolutionary”, the word “Capitalist” has both a technical and casual usage. Technically the word refers to an economic system based on private-property, free trade, and commerce, however when used informally, the word acts as the reverse of “revolutionary” (see previous entry)- used simply to refer to anything considered “bad” or “unfair”. For example, if a Communist did not like the price of pizza at a certain restaurant, chances are you’ll hear him angrily mutter something about the restaurant being run by “filthy Capitalists”.

Bourgeois/Bourgeoisie: Much like “Capitalist” the terms “Bourgeois” and “Bourgeoisie” (while technically referring to the middle-class) are used to describe anything distasteful or traditionalist. Essentially, the word “Bourgeois” is used to refer to anything considered to be “counter-revolutionary” or un-Communist. For example, if one person were to say to a Communist “My life’s goal is to get married and run a successful pizza restaurant”, the Communist may reply that this goal is sickeningly “Bourgeois”.

The Man/The System: While the exact era and region that this term originated in are unclear, most believe that the term was developed sometime between 1880s-1950s in rural America. “The Man” is a term used to refer to the government or indeed, any authority figure- derived from the word “management”. Likewise, the term “the system” is also used refer to political or social authority. Both terms are used in an extremely derogatory sense, though they are more often attributed to the left-wing in general, rather than Communism specifically.

Pig: While more commonly used in reference to the police (the exact origin of the term is unknown), when used among Communists, the word “pig” is often a suffix to a larger insult (i.e. “Capitalist Pigs”, “Imperialist Pigs”, etc.). It is commonly hypothesized that the origin of the use of the word “pig” in this context is derived from stereotypes of a pig’s nature, especially its association with gluttony.

Proletariat: (See “Revolutionary”)

Socialist: Once again, “Socialist” has a number of technical terms however when used among Communists, the word is often used according to its classical definition as being synonymous with Marxism.

Amerika/Amerikkka: Common Leftist derogatory refference to the United States, or right-wing elements of the United States.