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Maoist Internationalist Movement

Video game raises question of uneven regional development

"Making History: The Calm & The Storm"
Muzzy Lane Software

This is yet another World War II game, a very stale genre. Nonetheless, there is an elaborate political economic model behind it, so we find it to have some redeeming features.

Dialectics and uneven development

Playing as the Soviet Union, one will find that there are many provinces in the eastern region that are basket-cases economically. In particular, no matter the infrastructure investments, some regions will produce little or no food and no metals, coal or oil.

In the future we may think many desert regions are perfect for solar power. So far in history we as humyns have not managed even economic development, theses of the Trotskyists not withstanding. Capitalism has in fact exacerbated uneven economic development. Questions that used to be answered with respect to the church and social relations now face the great numeric translator of profit.

In the game as in life, agricultural, fortification and transport infrastructure requires maintenance. Hence, a numbers-oriented approach will tell the player that some regions are simply unprofitable in an overall sense. They have to be left undeveloped or they will drag the whole economy down with maintenance costs.

The question can be boiled down to whether the state should subsidize equality in the regions, so that all citizens have the same standard of living as in the Ukraine where there are abundant resources. On the one hand, we want to be careful not to imitate the capitalists, but on the other hand we have no patience for back-to-earth anarchists and other sentimental sorts.

Paying someone to farm in a desert that is never going to produce is a drag on the whole international proletariat. The proletariat and capitalists should agree on that on the surface. However, there is a difference between the two classes on how much investment is merited before one concludes that a region should be written off.

The Ukraine, Moscow, Leningrad and Baku have nice resources. So the political solution for people living in regions that have no economic activity that would not have to be wastefully subsidized is to receive legal documentation to move. (This is not something discussed in the game, just something MIM wants to address from looking at the game. We would want proletarian intellectuals to look at this game and come to the same conclusions.)

Although neither the proletariat nor the capitalists wants to subsidize waste permanently, the two classes disagree on when that occurs. The capitalist only invests where there is already infrastructure in place; although we have to admit that there are infrastructure capitalists, such as Bechtel, Halliburton and Osama Bin Laden's old company. They tend to need the help of imperialist governments to "convince" the locals of an overall economic plan, despite being against planning in their politicians' rhetoric.

In the proletarian planning of a region, huge investment may be justified if that region has economic possibilities down the road--if deserts can be turned into solar power stations for example. In contrast, the capitalist finds more projects justified where others pay for them, regardless of whether they make sense or not. Hence, an initial job for NSA analysts was to convince Third World lackeys to sign off on projects that profited Amerikan contractors. With such motivations in place different projects will be completed or attempted than in a situation where there is only the brain at work and no corporate interest. That is why we at MIM say that the capitalists can collect as much intelligence as they want, but they will never be able to use it as well as the proletariat, because the capitalists have vested interests to overlook intelligence or misuse it.

The capitalists may say they only approve projects that will generate and pay for other projects down the line. However, that is not really up to them, as the surplus for them available to invest simply outpaces their capabilities.

The proletariat has to maximize two things--employment and the returns from that employment. In contrast, capitalists do not care about total employment except as one factor in profitability. If uneven development and the rich getting richer generates a high profit rate for a company or other individual actor, then to hell with employment of all humyn resources, say the bourgeois analysts.

Politically, it is ONLY the proletariat that has the answer to the question of uneven development. On the surface, the capitalists may appear to agree with MIM: "that's right; that region is hopeless; give them all green cards to Moscow." When the capitalist-imperialist tries to implement that bit of economic rationality, he discovers an impediment called the labor aristocracy.

That labor aristocracy believes it has a national or racial entitlement to appropriate more labor than it deserves--simply by virtue of where it lives. It is a privilege that has to be attacked by proletarian administration.

Likewise, the Yugoslav-style Mensheviks following Tito's old line, the Greens and decentralization-minded anarchists often lack the intellectual drive to know what privilege is when they see it. They are inclined to believe that if they are born on a gold mine, their decentralized ideology entitles them to its proceeds. They do not give a thought to the overall picture, where some people are born in regions where it is really difficult to make a living.

Greens and back-to-nature anarchists should reserve their struggle to refuting bourgeois notions of humyn nature. When the bourgeoisie says all people destroy their environments, the greens and anarchists may know of historical and cultural examples contrary, thus proving it is not a question of hard-wired humyn nature.

MIM has argued that there may be enough proletarian intellectuals to run the media of an imperialist country, but in a proletarian administration we must have people who really know what it means that it is difficult to hopeless to make a living--no Amerikans need apply. We must adopt the perspective of the people from the remote regions guided by hard-driving proletarian intellectuals.

In history, the debate became one between Trotsky on the one side and Sultan-Galiyev on the other. Trotsky and Russian settlers argued that backward regions of the East were feudal and movements premised on them would likewise be backward, inclined to feudalism and installation of an Islamic caliphate. They looked to the German workers in particular to liberate the world, because the Germans had the most advanced culture.

In contrast, Sultan-Galiyev argued the Germans were decadent and even implicated Russian settlers to a lesser degree. Sultan-Galiyev argued there needed to be bourgeois revolution in the East first, because decadent Western countries lacked in revolutionary thrust. Rather than seeing the Islamic peoples as feudal-minded, Sultan-Galiyev argued that they were exploited nations and he served as a precursor for the MIM line on the Western countries becoming exploiters from top to bottom. Stalin stood in the middle and sided with Sultan-Galiyev while there was tension with England and Turkish reactionaries. When that threat subsided, Stalin fell back to Marxist tradition in looking to the German workers.

Today it is very clear that the world is in a Sultan-Galiyev situation, not a Trotskyist one. A full-time minimum wage worker living alone (and usually they have richer spouses or parents) is in the top 10% of the world by appropriation of labor known as income. That status does not stem from the fact that street sweepers in Santa Monica do such a better job than street-sweepers in Calcutta. Nor are Santa Monica street-sweepers needing so much more education contrary to chauvinists making excuses for the Western exploiters. That status of any street-sweeper in the united $tates stems from the fact that there are exploiter nations and exploited nations. This means we must have an answer for uneven development or kiss the proletarian revolution goodbye. Entire countries that used to be founts for inspiration for Marxism no longer have any forward-looking prospects without external dictatorship from the proletariat of the oppressed nations.


"Making History" has a standard 19th century, Machiavellian geopolitical dynamic to it. There is a slight ideological element in the game, more crudely modeled than in other games now available. Mostly alliances are pure convenience.

In playing the game, the reviewer always played as the Soviet Union and always stuck to defense, never attacking first. Players will find it is difficult to achieve peace treaties once wars start.

In the first scenario the reviewer ran starting in 1936, communist China quickly succumbed to the so-called nationalist Chiang Kai-shek, but the Soviet Union kept going and Republican Spain defeated Franco; whereas in real history, the communists in China survived and the Spanish republicans went down to defeat.

The results of these little alterations of history in the first simulation continued to pile up. With the Chinese communists and Spanish nationalists out of the picture, Germany hustled to attack Japan for some reason. Germany ended up in great trouble right away, so great that England invaded continental Europe, wiped out Germany and then invaded the Soviet Union successfully.

In the second simulation, Mao again succumbed almost immediately. No amount of aid could save him. The game developers seem to have bought the idea that Mao's historical success depended on a direct Soviet military role.

Continuing in the second simulation, Republican Spain won, (we assume because of the heavy Soviet aid the reviewer was giving out in all three simulations played) but then Japan and China allied to attack the Soviet Union. After a see-saw battle, the Soviet Union beat back Japan and China combined. The first liberated province of China, became communist Tibet, its own republic, a very nice touch we are thankful to the game developers for. The rest of China was capitalist, but because of geopolitics, Tibet went communist.

In the end of the second simulation, the Soviet Union raced to liberate Korea, route Japan and finish with Chiang Kai-shek. However, seeing this, the United $tates landed in China and Japan started propping up fascist provinces of China. Japan ended up gone from China, but then the united $tates ran away with the whole game by getting about 40% ahead in overall economic power. The united $tates assumed the role that Japan and China had before of attacking in the eastern Soviet Union.

In the third simulation, we wrote off Mao. Republican Spain won again. This time, there was what the reviewer will call the Sultan-Galiyev scenario. For some reason, Turkey was dumb enough to attack the Soviet Union along with Britain and importantly, Britain and Turkey stayed with it, something that nearly happened in real history in the aftermath of World War I.

In this game, the moves that Germany makes are the most reliable. It tends to go after Austria, the Czechs and then the rest of Eastern Europe as in real history. So Germany, China and Japan were on the sidelines when Britain and Turkey attacked the Soviet Union.

So the crucial twist in the third simulation was that Turkey ended up completely taken over by the Soviet Union. From there, the Soviet Union hopped to Cyprus and then liberated Jordan from British colonialism. Saudi Arabia had joined in the fight against the Soviet Union, and ended up taken over. Then the Soviets hopped over to Africa at Sudan to take all the British colonies there. By then, Portugal too was against the Soviet Union because of Republican Spain, so the Soviets took the Portuguese colonies also.

From the Arab peninsula, the Soviets hopped over to the British colonies of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Burma. The Soviet Union liberated them all, and India declared itself an independent communist republic. There was also a communist republic of Burma. The Soviets had liberated Malaysia and part of New Guinea and had started the attack on Australia when the game became too tiresome. The entire British alliance minus the united $tates was going down to imminent defeat, but the rest of the game would involve detailed battle with the united $tates.

After this sequence of events of beating back attackers and taking over Britain's colonies, the Soviet Union finally became the number one economy in the world. However, it became involved in a close battle with the United $tates. England and France became insignificant historically, less important than China, and Germany and Italy were in third and fourth place. In all three simulations, Republican Spain won and Germany never made it to attacking the Soviet Union. In two simulations, Soviet trade with fascist Germany became important.

The most worthwhile parts of "Making History" are its geography and whatever thoughts about economic development it might provoke by showing differing results from investments in agriculture, mining and transportation. Technically speaking the game is well put together. Players should note that it does need a video card and Windows XP may require updating to play the game.

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