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[Elections] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 54]

Revolutionary Potential of a Trump Presidency


We have received many letters lately exploring the future of our struggle under a Trump administration. Below we print excerpts from two of those letters and our response on the topic.

From a comrade in Colorado:

"The presidential election has been most interesting. The election of King Trump may be the last chance for the folks that brought us the Cold War, Vietnam, and much of the current world instability, to try to hold on to power (or make a show of power). The racial minorities and poor people in the United $tates are actually in the majority, but they apparently did not get out and vote, so now we get Trump.

"On the possible good side, perhaps the explosion of right wing, world domination capitalism that Trump will be pushing will finally provoke the masses (the proletariat) once they really get screwed by Trump policies, to look for a real solution to improving their status. (I do not mean the U.$. labor aristocracy who are doing very well — lots of toys to keep them occupied. They will get even more under Trump's policies.) By that I mean looking to the philosophy, the understanding of socialism, as the the only viable means to their liberation from the shackles of capitalism."

From a comrade in a Federal facility:

"The election of Donald Trump is a cause to celebrate for revolutionaries. These are revolutionary times. The times where movements are built. Communists are in a position over the next 4 years to put in place a revolutionary front that can be sustained beyond the next election if it should be lost to a so-called democratic contender. No time will be lost to make revolution with these revolutionary times at hand.

"The fact that a so-called 'social democrat' - read 'socialist' - like Bernie Sanders had a chance in an Amerikan election to become president is a sign of the times that 'socialization' of European Amerikans is at a point of maturity in its epoch of imperialism. It is ready for socialism but lacks the world-historical material condition to make it possible. Thus this contradiction (condition) manifests as a 'national socialism' that is the opposite of international socialism and is nationalist or 'nationality exclusive.' That is why white Amerika elected Trump, to make Amerika white ('great') again."

MIM(Prisons) responds: The writers here make interesting points about the election of Trump as an opportunity for revolutionaries. Certainly there are some good reasons to agree with this. Trump's extremely reactionary cabinet appointments seem to be inspiring many Amerikkkans to political activism who previously were content to sit and watch the politics of this country from the sidelines, perhaps going to the polls once every 2 or 4 years. Revolutionaries should seize their initiative and make sure that people have access to information about why electoral politics aren't the answer, if they really are seeking change for the better of the majority of the world's people.

Of the large portion of people who are eligible to vote but don't vote in presidential elections we see a few major groups:

  1. People who don't care who wins because they know the government is serving their interests generally by continuing on with imperialist plunder to keep people in the United $tates rich. For the most part this is the labor aristocracy and is the vast majority of U.$. citizens. Where our comrade in Colorado says poor people are a majority in the United $tates, instead our class analysis says the labor aristocracy is the majority, and if they didn't vote it's because they knew either Clinton, Sanders, or Trump would all be fine to serve their interests.
  2. People who don't care who wins because they know that both candidates support national oppression and will work counter to their interests. This is the oppressed nation lumpen and oppressed nations generally; the "racial minorities" referred to by our Colorado comrade.
  3. People who genuinely oppose imperialism and so can't in good conscience vote for a candidate who will run the imperialist state. This is a small number of revolutionary activists within U.$. borders.

As our comrade in Colorado points out, the U.$. labor aristocracy is comfortable and may even get more comfortable under a Trump administration. As much as the bourgeois liberals are crying about Trump's election, the potential for socialist revolution to be initiated within the United $tates is slim to none. They are upset about LGBTQ rights and Trump's overt racism and sexism and anti-environmentalism, but on the whole don't mind extracting wealth from Third World peoples for their own benefit. The best we can expect from the Amerikan masses' own volition is a push toward social imperialism, which still leaves the Third World out.

Even supporters of Bernie Sanders are not socialist, as much as Sanders tries to claim that's what eir politics are about. Sanders was a candidate with a clear imperialist line on international issues. While ey might have planned to spread around the wealth a bit more to U.$. citizens, ey still falls firmly in the imperialist camp, supporting wars of aggression, and financing terrorist governments like I$rael. In this regard, Trump, Obama and Sanders are more similar than they are different. Our Colorado comrade says Trump will push world domination capitalism, but we've been seeing this for decades and it didn't slow down for a second under Obama. There is no way to reconcile Amerikan imperialism with socialism. No elected candidate will make this change. Only by forcibly overthrowing the government will we be able to implement socialism.

Our comrade in a Federal prison brings up the question of the need for world-historical material conditions to be in place to bring the Euro-Amerikan nation toward socialism. This comrade's claim that Euro-Amerikans are well on their way to supporting a socialist shift is likely overstated. But if the oppressed internal semi-colonies and oppressed Third World nations are enraged by Trump's rhetoric and policies, then we can expect revolutionaries in Amerikkka to grow in strength and number as well. The oppressed nations' response, internally and abroad, to a Trump's presidency is where we see real revolutionary potential.

This writer is correct that socialism (in the short term, and communism in the long term) is the only way to liberate the oppressed from capitalism. But when we recognize that the majority of people in the United $tates are benefiting from capitalism, we can see that most people in this country, voters and non-voters alike, aren't being fooled by mis-information. Rather they correctly understand that if we were to give back all the wealth stolen from Third World countries and stop the plunder of imperialism tomorrow, standards of living in this country would go down dramatically.

Still, there are very good reasons why Amerikans should oppose capitalism, including the destruction of the environment, the deadly culture of patriarchy and violence, and basic humynity towards other human beings around the world. And so we conclude that if Trump's presidency leads some Amerikans to greater global awareness and inspires them to oppose capitalism, it is our job to provide a correct analysis of the system and opportunities for action against the system.

[U.S. Imperialism] [Theory] [Yemen] [Middle East] [Africa] [Fascism] [ULK Issue 53]

The Strategic Significance of Defining Fascism

fight imperialism smash fascism
“The imperialists export fascism to many Third World countries via puppet governments. And imperialist countries can turn to fascism themselves. But it is important to note that there is no third choice for independent fascism in the world: they are either imperialist or imperialist-puppets. Germany, Spain, Italy and Japan had all reached the banking stage of capitalism and had a real basis for thinking they could take over colonies from the British and French. … The vast majority of the world’s fascist-ruled countries have been U.$. puppets.” – MIM Congress, “Osama Bin Laden and the Concept of ‘Theocratic Fascism’”, 2004

What MIM wrote about Osama Bin Laden in 2004 is just as true for the Islamic State today. Those who call the Islamic State fascist use an unsophisticated definition of fascism that may mean anything from “bad” to “undemocratic” to anti-United $tates. But the idea that it is in the Third World where we find fascism today is correct.

Much funding for the Islamic State has come from rich Saudis. For this, and other reasons, many people have tried to put the fascist label on the obscurantist monarchy of Saudi Arabia. Despite having almost the same per capita GDP (PPP) as the United $tates, it is by geological luck and not the development of imperialist finance capital that Saudis enjoy such fortune.

A word often associated with fascism is genocide. More recently Saudi Arabia is getting some “fascist” rhetoric thrown at it from the Russian camp for its war on Yemen. What is currently happening in Yemen is nothing less than genocide. A recent analysis by the Yemen Data Project showed that more than a third of the “Saudi” bombings in that country have targeted schools, hospitals, mosques and other civilian infrastructure.(1) We put “Saudi” in quotes here because the war to maintain the puppet government in Yemen is completely supplied by the imperialists of the U.$., UK and Klanada, along with U.$. intelligence and logistical support. The United $tates has been involved in bombing Yemen for over a decade, so it is a propaganda campaign by the U.$. media to call it the “Saudi-led coalition.” In October 2016, the United $tates bombed Yemen from U.$. warships that had long been stationed just offshore, leaving little doubt of their role in this war. A war that has left 370,000 children at risk of severe malnutrition, and 7 million people “desperately in need of food,” according to UNICEF.(2)

This is another example where we see confusion around the definition of fascism feeds anti-Islamic, rather than anti-Amerikan, lines of thinking, despite the majority of victims in this war being proletarian Muslims in a country where 40% of the people live on less than $2 a day.

In countries where the imperialists haven’t been able to install a puppet government they use other regional allies to act as the bad guy, the arm of imperialism. It is an extension of neo-colonialism that leads to inter-proletarian conflict between countries. We see this with Uganda and Rwanda in central Africa, where another genocide has been ongoing for 2 decades. While Uganda and Rwanda have their own regional interests, like Saudi Arabia, they are given the freedom to pursue them by U.$. sponsorship. And we are not anti-Ugandan, because Uganda is a proletarian country with an interest in throwing out imperialist puppets. Even Saudi Arabia, which we might not be able to find much of an indigenous proletariat in, could play a progressive role under bourgeois nationalist leadership that allied with the rest of the Arab world, and even with Iran.

Sometimes fascism is used as a synonym for police state. Many in the United $tates have looked to the war on drugs, the occupation of the ghettos, barrios and reservations, gang injunctions and the massive criminal injustice system and talked about rising fascism. We agree that these are some of the most fascistic elements of our society. But many of those same people will never talk about U.$. imperialism, especially internal imperialism. This leads to a focus on civil liberties and no discussion of national liberation; a reformist, petty bourgeois politic.

If we look at the new president in the Philippines, we see a more extreme form of repression against drug dealers of that country. If the U.$. injustice system is fascist, certainly the open call for assassinating drug dealers in the street would be. But these are just tactics, they do not define the system. And if we look at the system in the Philippines, the second biggest headlines (after eir notorious anti-drug-dealer rhetoric) that President Duterte is getting is for pushing out U.$. military bases. This would be a huge win for the Filipino people who have been risking their lives (under real fascist dictatorships backed by the United $tates like Marcos) to protest U.$. military on their land. This is objectively anti-imperialist. Even if Duterte turns towards China, as long as U.$. imperialism remains the number one threat to peace and well-being in the world, as it has been for over half a century, this is good for the masses of the oppressed nations.

The importance of the united front against fascism during World War II, which was an alliance between proletariat and imperialist forces, was to point out the number one enemy. While we don’t echo the Black Panther Party’s rhetoric around “fascism,” they were strategically correct to focus their attack on the United $tates in their own United Front Against Fascism in 1969. And it was reasonable to expect that the United $tates might turn fascist in face of what was a very popular anti-imperialist movement at home and abroad. What dialectics teaches us is the importance of finding the principal contradiction, which we should focus our energy on in order to change things. Without a major inter-imperialist rivalry, talking about fascism in a Marxist sense is merely to expose the atrocities of the dominant imperialist power committed against the oppressed nations.

Rather than looking for strategic shifts in the finance capitalist class, most people just call the bad sides of imperialism “fascism.” In doing so they deny that imperialism has killed more people than any other economic system, even if we exclude fascist imperialism. These people gloss over imperialism’s very existence. But MIM(Prisons) keeps our eye on the prize of overthrowing imperialism, principally U.$. imperialism, to serve the interests of the oppressed people of the world.

[U.S. Imperialism] [Elections] [Fascism] [ULK Issue 53]

What is Fascism? Analyzing Trump Scientifically

This 2016 election season we heard many people likening Trump and eir proposed policies to fascism. Here we look at statements and actions that ey made, identifying fascist elements, while also going over what else they could be. First, let’s review what fascism is - from MIM’s “Definition of fascism” (which draws information from Dimitrov’s report to the 7th world congress of the COMINTERN and Dutt’s Fascism and Social Revolution), fascism is “the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” Further, fascism is “an extreme measure taken by the bourgeoisie to forestall proletarian revolution… the conditions [which give rise to fascism] are: instability of capitalist relationships; the existence of considerable declassed social elements; the pauperization of broad strata of the urban petit-bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia; discontent among the rural petit-bourgeoisie; and finally, the constant menace of mass proletarian action.” So basically, if the capitalists feel like they are going to lose their money deals, if mass amounts of the petit-bourgeoisie suddenly find themselves impoverished, and there is significant fear of actual proletarian revolutionary action, these are conditions that give rise to fascism.

With this in mind, let’s look at one of Trump’s more popular proposals – to build a wall on the U.$./Mexico border to physically keep people from crossing over into so-called United $tates territory. Trump believes immigrants from Mexico impose a threat to the job economy of the amerikkkan labor aristocracy, and also that they are not amerikkkans and don’t belong here. Following the guidelines laid out above, the building of a wall could fall into a reactionary action taken to counteract the threat to the labor aristocracy; keeping the amerikkkan “working class” safe and happy to prevent discontent and ensure that there is no declassing or pauperization. However, it’s more accurate to consider the idea of a border wall to fall under extreme racism and isolationism than fascism. Trump claims that amerikkkan people are better at making money and working than those who might come over from Mexico, and ey wishes to keep things contained within eir own walls than to bring in people from the outside. A similar example of Trump’s isolationism can be found in eir ideas to keep production and trade local rather than global. Ey believes that trade with other countries is stealing jobs from people here, and that people here can do it better anyway. A more fascist way of handling this would be to allow trade with other countries as long as it proved opportunistic and beneficial (which it does for the U.$. financially).

Next, we can look at Trump’s ideas about “destroying radical Islamic terrorist groups.” To make such a statement is highly chauvinist and reactionary, though it is not in response to something ey believes could topple the government. It is more of a show of force both internally and externally. Again, here we see extreme racism – Trump is further bolstering the “us vs. them” mentality that is already prevalent in much of amerikkkan society, identifying a group of people as the other or bad, and rallying people around that idea. A more fascist example of a similar act is the raids, arrests and murders committed by the pigs towards the Black Panther Party (BPP) and other revolutionary nationalist groups in the 1960s and 70s. The BPP was a highly organized group with significant popular support among the New Afrikan nation and it was enough of a threat of revolutionary action to warrant direct reaction. The imperialists felt enough pressure from the BPP to publicly act outside of their established laws to counteract that pressure, though much public opinion was on the BPP’s side. The attacks against nations that are primarily Islamic is imperialist aggression that has been the war cry of Amerikan imperialists for years now.

The biggest thing to take away from this is the understanding that Trump’s actions are often not fascist because they do not need to be. Ey is not facing any of the triggers mentioned in MIM’s “Definition of fascism” at the moment. There is no internal revolution rising, nor is there fear of pauperization of the bourgeoisie. Trump for the most part is what we would call an imperialist, as ey seeks to systematically and internationally oppress some groups whilst bolstering others. That being said, based on Trump’s statements and actions, if Amerikan capitalism was truly threatened by the oppressed internal nations, Trump’s open chauvinism would easily transition to far heavier fascist tendencies.

[Elections] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 53]

Hearing Voices

Bernie Sanders Open Borders

The deeply appreciated efforts of MIM inspire me to see with a different view the same circumstances. Let's look at the current election:

Both candidates have an utterly failed platform. The Amerikkkan elections are about Amerikkkan hegemony; keeping Amerikkka the richest and most militant/violent nation on earth.

There is no revolutionary voice or worthy candidate. Have we heard anyone say "All the wealth of the world belongs to all the people of the world?" That's the revolutionary voice.

Have we heard any candidate say "The goal of humynity, including politics, is to solve the problems of hunger, lack of shelter, cure diseases and end oppression across the globe. Politics is NOT meant to exploit people beyond national borders or to see that we have 'more and better.'" If you heard such a speech you heard a revolutionary voice.

Have you heard a candidate say "This is my plan to assist other nations to work in harmony with us to end world hunger, child mortality, lack of medicine and education, and dire poverty. Some candidates speak of the upper 1%, but I'm here to tell you that if you live in the United $tates you are the upper 13%. It's past time for us to see all people as our family. The Haitian in the slum is your sister, my sister. The Nepalese man living in the street is our father. The infant who died in Bangladesh from a treatable fever is our daughter, yes, one of us humyns."

When you hear that voice, then vote. Until then, ignore the candidates and work together for the day when your political power comes from the barrel of a gun.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade nicely summarizes where our priorities should be as world citizens: focused on ending oppression for people suffering under imperialism around the world. We know that the capitalists will not peacefully give up the power they use to generate great wealth from the majority of the world's people. In fact, even after a communist revolution that seizes the government for the interests of the world's oppressed, we can expect that the former bourgeoisie, and even some new bourgeois recruits, will attempt to take back their wealth and power and they will need to be kept down with force until they can be re-integrated as productive members of society.

We call this phase of the revolution the Dictatorship of the Proletariat because it still involves a government with power over people, but that government is acting in the interests of the proletariat, unlike our current government which is really a Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie. There will be a long period of socialism while we remould society and our culture to educate people in treating others humanely and working for the greater good rather than for individual gain at the expense of others. During this process we can expect to see a new bourgeoisie attempt to take power from the proletariat, as their goal and culture will not disappear overnight.

We learn much from looking at the histories of the Soviet Union and China under socialism, both about this bourgeois counterrevolution and the cultural revolutions necessary to build towards communism. In imperialist elections we recognize that changing the face of the government doesn't change the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and we stay focused insist on overthrowing this dictatorship rather than adjusting the makeup hiding its evil face.

[Spanish] [U.S. Imperialism]

Una reseña de libro de ‘Guantanamo Diary’

Guantanamo Diary

de Mohamedou Ould Slahi


Desde el año 2001, Mohamedou Ould Slahi ha estado [email protected] en centros secretos de detención por orden del gobierno amerikano. Primero en Mauritania (el país donde nació), después en Jordania, y finalmente en 2002 fue encarcelado en la Bahía de Guantánamo, donde todavía está. En septiembre 29, 2001, Slahi se entregó voluntariamente a la policía Mauritania; estaba [email protected] de que iba a ser [email protected] ya que era inocente de cualquier crimen. Pero en lugar de ser [email protected], sufrió años de tortura. Al inicio mantuvo su inocencia hasta que se dio cuenta de que no iba a ser liber[email protected] y hasta que no pudo soportar más el sufrimiento. Desde ese momento, Slahi empezó a confesar cualquier cosa que sus captores querían que dijera. Ocasionalmente, Slahi les decía la verdad cuando le preguntaban directamente y también cuando sabía que sus cuentos no eran consistentes ni podían ser ratificados porque sus ‘confesiones’ fueron totalmente fabricadas. Pero fue después de empezar a dar confesiones falsas e implicar falsamente a otros que a Slahi se le permitió dormir y comer e incluso paró el extremo maltrato físico. Los detalles de su tortura harán que los lectores se pregunten: ¿Cómo pudo durar tanto tiempo?

En 2005, Slahi empezó a escribir sobre sus experiencias (después de que le dieron papel y bolígrafo) y finalmente, después de muchos años de batallas jurídicas, su manuscrito, que fue fuertemente censurado, fue liberado por el gobierno americano. Este libro es una versión editada de la historia de Slahi y contiene las redacciones originales. El editor, Larry Seims, incluye algunas especulaciones de las razones de dichas redacciones y documenta información desclasificada que confirma lo que Slahi escribió. A pesar de la censura excesiva, el manuscrito incluye detalles sorprendentes sobre las experiencias de Slahi, por ejemplo: los años de tortura que sufrió, evidencia incuestionable de su inocencia, y el deseo del gobierno americano de una confesión falsa. El libro está escrito en inglés, el cuarto idioma de Slahi, uno que aprendió en la cárcel para poder comunicarse mejor con sus captores y para poder entender lo que sucedía a su alrededor. Durante seis años y medio, Slahi no pudo tener contacto con el mundo exterior. Incluso, fue ocultado del ‘International Committee of the Red Cross’ (el Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja – CICR) que tiene un mandato bajo los Convenios de Ginebra de visitar a los prisioneros de guerra y a las personas que fueron detenidas en situaciones similares a Slahi, para asegurarse de que son tratados humanamente. Durante el primer año de su encarcelamiento, la familia de Slahi ni siquiera sabía dónde estaba y solo lo descubrieron cuando uno de sus hermanos vio un artículo en un periódico alemán. En 2008, Slahi finalmente se le concedidó el ‘privilegio’ de poder llamar a su familia dos veces al año. En 2010, la petición de habeas corpus, que ordenaba su liberación, fue concedida por el ‘DC Circuit Court of Appeals’ (Corte de Apelaciones de Estados Unidos para el Circuito del Distrito de Columbia). Pero la administración de Obama presentó una apelación y Slahi permanece aun en custodía.

La dominación global del imperialismo Amerikano

Las tantas personas que fueron detenidas y secuestradas de sus países nativos, y que fueron mandadas a la Bahía de Guantánamo, enfatizan el estado neo-colonial de esos países. Como Slahi explica, “El 28 de noviembre es el día de la independencia de Mauritania; simboliza el evento cuando la república islámica de Mauritania supuestamente declaró independencia de los colonizadores franceses en 1960. Irónicamente, en ese mismo día en 2001, la independiente y soberana república de Mauritania entregó uno de sus propios ciudadanos en una premisa. Además de su deshonra eterna, el gobierno de Mauritania no solo rompió la constitución, que prohíbe la extradición de los criminales Mauritanos a otros países, sino que también extraditó a un ciudadano inocente, exponiéndole a la impredecible justicia amerikana.” (p132)

Cuando el CICR por fin consiguió ver a Slahi, el último detenido que tuvieron permiso para ver, intentaron [email protected] hablar del abuso que sufrió. “Siempre escondí los maltratos cuando me lo preguntaba el CICR porque tenía miedo de la represalia. Eso y el hecho de que el CICR no tiene ningún poder real sobre el gobierno amerikano; el CICR intentó, pero el gobierno amerikano no cambió de ruta, ni siquiera una pulgada. Si dejaban al CICR ver a un detenido, significaba que la operación contra ese detenido se había terminado.” (p348)

Este libro enfatiza el poder del imperialismo amerikano y el hecho de que puede hacer lo que quiere en este mundo. No hay ningún gobierno ni organización que pueda luchar contra este poder. Muchos amerikanos se enorgullecen de esto, pero esto es el poder de una gente que quiere dominar el mundo para ganancias económicas. Cuando los oprimidos contraatacan, el poder es desplegado para aplastar a la resistencia por cualquier medio necesario. Por supuesto hay una contradicción inherente en este poder: la dominación del imperialismo amerikano engendra resistencia de los oprimidos en todo el mundo. Los llamados ataques terroristas dirigidos a los E$tado Unido$ (EE.UU) son reacciones al terrorismo amerikano en todo el mundo. Como Slahi escribió cuando estaba viendo la película ‘Black Hawk Down’ (La caída del halcón negro): “Los guardias se volvieron locos emocionalmente porque vieron a muchos amerikanos asesinados a balazos. Pero no se dieron cuenta de que el número de víctimas amerikanas es insignificante comparado con los somalís que fueron atacados en sus propias casas. Me quede pensando cómo la gente puede tener la mente tan cerrada. Cuando la gente ve algo desde solo una perspectiva, fracasan en ver el escenario total, y esa es la razón principal de la mayoría de los malentendidos que a veces resultan en confrontaciones sangrientas.” (p320)

No estamos de acuerdo de que solamente son estos malentendidos que resultan en estas confrontaciones sangrientas. Pero, más bien es el hambre de sangre de la agresión imperialista que continuamente busca nuevas fuentes de riqueza explotada y riqueza robada que inevitablemente resulta en las confrontaciones sangrientas.

Aunque Slahi está lejos de ser radical políticamente, sus experiencias le educaron sobre la realidad de la injusticia y la definición del crimen por los que están en poder. Escribiendo sobre su arresto y encarcelamiento inicial en Mauritania: “¿Por qué tenía tanto miedo? Porque la delincuencia es algo relativo; es algo que el gobierno define y redefine cuando le da la gana.” (p92)

La guerra contra el Islam

El objetivo de la agresión de los EE.UU cambia dependiendo de donde este la mayor resistencia al imperialismo. A mitad del siglo XX la agresión fue concentrada en los países comunistas, esto luego cambió a finales del siglo XX a la guerra contra las drogas en Latinoamérica, y después al mundo árabe al principio del siglo XXI. Slahi está fuertemente consciente de esta reciente ola de agresión por [email protected] imperialistas [email protected] dirigida al Islam y la hipocresía de este ataque:

“…[email protected] [email protected] suelen ampliar el círculo de los que están involucrados para poder atrapar el mayor número de musulmanes posible. Siempre hablan de una gran conspiración en contra de los EE.UU. Yo personalmente fui [email protected] sobre la gente que solamente practican lo básico de la religión y que simpatizan con los movimientos islámicos; me preguntaron sobre cada detalle de los movimientos islámicos, sin importar que tan moderadodos fueran. Es sorprendente que en un país como los EE.UU, donde organizaciones terroristas cristianas como los nazis y los defensores de la supremacía de la raza blanca tienen la libertad de expresarse y reclutar gente públicamente sin repercusiones. Sin embargo, si eres musulmán y si simpatizas con las opiniones políticas de una organización islámica, tendrás grandes problemas. Incluso asistir a la misma mezquita que un sospechoso resultaría en apuros serios. Esto es evidente para todos [email protected] que entienden los componentes de la política amerikana hacia el supuesto terrorismo islámico.” (p260-61)
Slahi también documenta la denegación de las prácticas religiosas en los campos de detención:
“Pero en los campos secretos, la guerra contra la religión islámica era más obvia. No solo no había señales hacia Meca, sino las oraciones rituales también fueron prohibidas. Recitar el Corán fue prohibido. Ayunar fue prohibido. Poseer el Corán fue prohibido. Prácticamente cualquier cosa relacionado con islam fue estrictamente prohibido. No estoy hablando de rumores; estoy hablando de mis experiencias personales. No creo que el estadounidense común esté pagando impuestos para librar una guerra contra el islam, pero sí creo que haya gente en el gobierno que tiene un problema grande con la religión islámica.”(p265)

Slahi no se da cuenta de que este chovinismo no es un problema que [email protected] [email protected] tienen con la religión islámica, sino que es un problema con las personas oprimidas que se alzaran contra el imperialismo amerikano. El Islam es solo uno de los tantos blancos porque es una religión de [email protected] [email protected] El gobierno amerikano (y su gente) no tenía ningún problema con islam cuando Al Quaeda fue un aliado en la lucha contra el comunismo. De hecho, el mismo Slahi entrenó con Al Quaeda durante seis meses en Afganistán, pero esto fue durante el tiempo cuando el grupo fue apoyado por el gobierno amerikano y cuando luchaban contra el gobierno sostenido por los soviéticos en dicho país. Esta acción era legal para los ciudadanos en Mauritania e incluso fue animada por el gobierno amerikano. No obstante, este hecho se convirtió en uno de los factores más importantes que influyó la insistencia del gobierno amerikano de que Slahi estaba detras de los ataques del Centro de Comercio Mundial, entre otras cosas.

¿Se opondrán [email protected] [email protected] a la tortura?

Después de años de tortura e injusto encarcelamiento a manos del gobierno amerikano, las opiniones de Slahi sobre el país y sus habitantes permanecen relativamente moderadas. Ve el bien en todos, una opinión que compartida por los comunistas. Pero es una opinión que no le deja ver los intereses económicos de la mayoría de los amerikanos que hace que apoyen la tortura en Guantánamo, incluso después de que reportajes como este sean publicadas. “¿Qué pensaría un amerikano muerto común si podría ver lo que su gobierno está haciendo a alguien que no ha cometido ningún crimen contra nadie? Por más que me apenaba por los compañeros árabes, sabía que no representaban el árabe común. La gente árabe está entre los mejores en el planeta; son sensibles, emocionales, amorosos, generosos, se sacrifican, son religiosos, caritativos y amables… El odio contra los EE.UU seria regado si la gente en el mundo árabe supiera lo que sucede aquí. Incluso la acusación de que los EE.UU está ayudando y trabajando con los dictadores en nuestros países seria dimentada.” (p257) La realidad es que la mayoría de la gente en el mundo árabe esta consciente de la injusticia amerikana. De hecho, cuando Slahi preguntó porqué le estaban extraditando cuando pensaban que ya había probado su inocencia, la policía en Mauritania le dijo “los Estado Unidos es un país que está basado en la injusticia.” (p134) Es este conocimiento que resulta en que la gente empiece a luchar contra el imperialismo amerikano. Al mismo tiempo, la mayoría de [email protected] [email protected] ahora saben sobre la tortura de los detenidos en la Bahía de Guantánamo y la opinión del público está lejos de furia a conocer estas acciones. Mucha gente de la población se reúne para dar apoyo a figuras políticas como Donald Trump cuando exige más tortura. A través de todo esto, vemos más evidencia que apoya la posibilidad de que Islam pueda ser una Teología de liberación para los que luchan contra el imperialismo amerikano. Así como las masas en Latinoamérica fueron atraidas a la Teología de liberación católica como una reacción contra la opresión e injusticia en esa región, es probable que segmentos de cualquier religión adapten sentimientos similares. La Teología de liberación fue una aliada valiosa para los revolucionarios en Latinoamérica.

Sea como sea que se desarrolle esta lucha de liberacióon, sabemos que la gente oprimida de este mundo no puede esperar a que los americanos abran los ojos y paren la tortura ellos mismos. Ahora, después de un año de que el libro de Slahi fuera publicado (e incluso fue entre los libros más vendidos), todavía no cambia su situación. Las masas deben liberarse a sí mismos; sus captores nunca rendirán su poder voluntariamente. Los amerikanos están disfrutando de los botines de los captores, entonces la mayoría de [email protected] [email protected] están contentos con la tortura mundial imperialista.

[U.S. Imperialism] [Culture]

Capitalism Glorifies Suffering for Profit

Afghan Girl

I have on my cell wall, "Afghan Girl," Steve McCurry's photograph that graced the cover of a 1985 National Geographic. I'm sure MIM is familiar with "Afghan Girl." It's one of my favorite selections of photo journalism/art.

2010, NG again dispatched McCurry to Afghanistan in search of "Afghan Girl" in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the famous photo. McCurry found "Afghan Girl," just as before - still living in the dirt. I would wager McCurry has made tens of thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds from "Afghan Girl." Obviously, McCurry's subject didn't receive squat.

My question to MIM is: Should "Afghan Girl" be compensated for McCurry's photo commensurate to revenue generated, even though said revenue is derived form superprofits? After all, "Afghan Girl" was McCurry's model.

Extrapolating form the above, if prisoners are thrown nickels an dimes by the prisoncrats, are prisoners then feeding at the imperialist trough? I, myself, don't give 2 hoots if Texas prisoners are paid or not. That would just bequeath the man more authoritative leverage to be used against us. I don't give a fuck 'bout commissary, unless you're talking about boycotting or looting it. And the Texas so-called "good-time" scheme is a farcical sham.

MIM(Prisons) responds: There is some value, in a world where the government and its structures are actually serving the interests of the majority of the world's people, to superstructure systems of media and arts that also serve the people. But in the case of a photo exposing conditions of poverty and suffering, these should be used to identify problems and inspire action to change, not to generate wealth for the photographer.

The imperialists have come up with a myriad of ways to make money off the backs of Third World people. It is true that revenue for a photo is just a shifting around of superprofits; obviously there is no actual value or profit created from the taking of a photograph, or from being photographed. But instead this shows how the privileged in the First World share the wealth stolen from the Third World, to First World workers who are mostly engaged in unproductive labor. Rather than ask whether the Afghan girl in the photo should be compensated for the photo, instead we say that the entire situation is wrong and demonstrates how imperialism is more interested in profit than the welfare of human beings. This is just one small example further demonstrating that capitalism is a dead end system and must be replaced with a system that serves the interests of the majority, not the profit of the minority.

[U.S. Imperialism] [Elections] [ULK Issue 51]

Lesser of Two Evils

This year's election reminds me of the 1980 Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter neo-conservative presidential campaign. We have Donald Trump, the competitive imperialist bizzness mogul. Now we must ask ourselves, since we have lesser of the two evils, what is it that we as a nation want as a leader? But I find myself not liking or feeding into the rhetoric of both candidates, Trump or Clinton. Hillary Clinton favors exploitation of Third World international proletariat. Both Trump and Clinton have no solutions for the oppressed nations here in the United $tates or abroad. As senator Sanders pointed out, Clinton is in the pockets of big bankers and Wall Street. And Trump seizes the opportunity to expand his ego and exploit more oppressed nations, by building casinos, resorts and handing out slave wages to the proletarians of that land.

But what are the solutions to our problems in this capitalistic culture? One solution which needs to be addressed is a separate party which would be for the people and by the people. We must not allow the media to downgrade socialism. Socialism and a socialist party in the United Snakes of America is a must. We have to overstand what socialism is and what it can do for oppressed nations here in America. Bringing equality to all people, and ending global imperialism. But this brings me to Bernie Sanders. His rhetoric of free education and universal health care sounds good, but if you are going to support socialist ideas, then you must go all the way and build a socialist party, and not allow the two party system of Amerikkka to stigmatize socialist views and its persistent hopefulness.

As long as the wings of establishment support imperialism we will never get close to fruition of socialism. But what really upsets me is that New Africans in America sell out to capitalistic rhetoric by upholding or embracing bourgeois cultural propaganda. This is why the title “lesser of two evils” is used for this essay on the awakening of the lumpen to class consciousness.

There are so many contradictions within Donald Trump's “Let's make America great again” slogan. First and foremost, we must overstand what made so-called Amerikkka great. Stealing land and demoralizing the First Nations. Denying them culture and their own way of life. Enslaving New Africans, or might I say oppression of all people of color who do not represent white supremacy. That Trump slogan alone is a subliminal white supremacist statement. Making those who support the labor aristocracy continue and support efforts to exploit the white lumpen and the people or nations of oppressed people of color. Creating more wars, and war on the revolutionaries who will stand up to imperialism. And I can’t forget about Hillary Clinton who will continue where her husband left off. She was a supporter of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed into law by Bill Clinton. And we have the nerve to say oh she's for New Africans. I must conclude that what we have in this election is lesser of the two evils, Trump vs. Hillary. Capitalism vs. mass incarceration.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is on the right track in condemning the Amerikan election system as a tool to reinforce imperialist power. There is no choice for the truly oppressed and exploited of the world. In fact, the vast majority of those exploited by Amerikan imperialism aren't even eligible to vote in these elections because they aren't Amerikan citizens.

We agree that the lumpen should be paying attention to this election and using it to raise class consciousness, but we're not in agreement with the implication that Bernie Sanders represents socialist ideas. In fact, he is just the other side of the Donald Trump "Let's make America great again" coin. Both want to increase the wealth for the Amerikan labor aristocracy which can only come at the expense of the exploited Third World proletariat. Even if Sanders spreads those super profits around a bit more, that doesn't help the oppressed majority of the world. Sanders supports the same aggressive militarist international policies of all the other imperialist candidates: “We live in a dangerous world full of serious threats, perhaps none more so than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda. Senator Sanders is committed to keeping America safe, and pursuing those who would do Americans harm.”(1)

The problem isn't just that Sanders doesn't support an independent socialist party, the problem is that Sanders is muddying the word socialist, just like the "national socialists" (aka fascists) in Germany did in their day. This is not a word meant to ensure greater wealth for privileged nations at the expense of oppressed nations. And while it's possible Sanders could pursue a policy of greater advancement for the oppressed nations within U.$. borders, this would only serve to expand the ranks of the labor aristocracy on the backs of oppressed nations globally. We cannot support that sort of rhetoric.

MIM(Prisons) maintains that it is possible one day Amerika will fully integrate the oppressed New Afrikan, [email protected], Boriqua and First Nations like the Irish, Italians and others who initially faced oppression but later fully integrated into Amerikan society. This could even be done by shifting around some money from within imperialist Amerika. But judging from the popularity of the overtly fascist rallying cries from Trump and eir ilk, it seems more likely that national oppression abroad will continue to engender national oppression and racism at home.

This election is important for lumpen consciousness within Amerikan borders because it would be easy to be taken in by the Sanders rhetoric. Or to be frightened by the Trump rhetoric. And so be moved to rally around “the lesser of two evils” campaign to get on the streets working for the “Democratic Party.” But the lumpen class consciousness needs to be tied to internationalism. We need to diligently point out the suffering of the international proletariat at the hands of imperialism, which is the same oppressor keeping the lumpen down. The alliance should be between these two oppressed groups, against the imperialists. Not between the lumpen and the so-called left wing of the imperialists against the international proletariat. Our job as communists is to push the oppressed and exploited classes to the right side of this equation: the side of the world's oppressed.

When the Black Panther Party's Ten Point Program included: “We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the White racist government of America” they were demonstrating this internationalist class consciousness, specifically in the context of the Vietnam War. This writer is correct that we will never get close to socialism within the imperialist establishment. But we disagree that there is actually a lesser of two evils in any imperialist election, or a choice between imperialism and mass incarceration. These things go hand in hand, and one side's rhetoric benefits some Amerikans more while the other side would benefit a slightly different group of Amerikans, while the white nation remains firmly in power, and the wealth continues to come from the exploited in the Third World.

Notes: 1.
[U.S. Imperialism] [Idealism/Religion] [ULK Issue 52]

Guantanamo Diary Book Review

Guantánamo Diary
by Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been held in secret detention centers by order of the Amerikan government since 2001, first in Mauritania (the country where ey was born), then in Jordan, and finally in 2002 in Guantánamo Bay where ey is still imprisoned. Slahi voluntarily turned emself in to the Mauritanian police on 29 September 2001; sure that ey would quickly be cleared since ey was innocent of any crimes. Instead ey faced years of torture, through which ey initially maintained eir innocence, until it became clear that ey would never be released and ey could no longer stand the suffering. After that point Slahi began to confess to anything eir captors wanted em to say. Slahi still occasionally told them the truth when they asked directly, but for the most part their stories were not possibly consistent or confirmable since the "confessions" were entirely fabricated. But after ey began to make false confessions and falsely implicate others Slahi was allowed to sleep and eat, and the extreme physical abuse stopped. The details of eir torture will make readers wonder how Slahi held out for so long.

Slahi started writing down eir experiences in 2005 (after ey was finally given paper and pen) and after many years of legal battles eir heavily censored manuscript was finally released by the Amerikan government. This book is an edited version of Slahi's story, complete with the original redactions. The editor, Larry Seims, includes some speculation about what is behind the redactions and documents other declassified information that corroborates what Slahi wrote. In spite of heavy censorship, the released manuscript includes surprising detail about Slahi's experience including years of torture, the clear evidence that ey is innocent, and the Amerikan government's desire for a false confession.

The book is written in English, Slahi's fourth language, one that ey learned in prison in order to better communicate with eir captors and understand what was going on around em. For six and a half years Slahi's was allowed no contact with the outside world and was even hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which has a mandate under the Geneva Convention to visit prisoners of war and others detained in situations like Slahi's to ensure humane treatment. For the first year of incarceration Slahi's family didn't even know where ey was, they found out when one of eir brothers saw an article in a German newspaper. In 2008 Slahi was finally granted the "privilege" of twice-yearly calls with family. In 2010 Slahi's petition of habeas corpus was granted by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, ordering eir release. But the Obama administration filed an appeal and Slahi remains in custody.

Amerikan Imperialist Global Domination

The many people who were arrested and kidnapped from their home countries to be sent to Guantánamo Bay underscore the neo-colonial status of those countries. As Slahi explains "November 28th is Mauritanian Independence Day; it marks the event when the Islamic Republic of Mauritania supposedly received its independence from the French colonists in 1960. The irony is that on this very same day in 2001, the independent and sovereign Republic of Mauritania turned over one of its own citizens on a premise. To its everlasting shame, the Mauritanian government not only broke the constitution, which forbids the extradition of Mauritanian criminals to other countries, but also extradited an innocent citizen and exposed him to the random American Justice."(p. 132)

When the ICRC finally got in to see Slahi, the last detainee they were allowed to visit, they tried to get em to talk about abuse ey experienced. "But I always hid the ill-treatment when the ICRC asked me about it because I was afraid of retaliation. That and the fact that the ICRC has no real pressure on the U.S. government: the ICRC tried, but the U.S. government didn't change its path, even an inch. If they let the Red Cross see a detainee, it meant that the operation against that detainee was over."(p. 348)

This book underscores the power of Amerikan imperialism to do whatever it likes in the world. There is no government or organization able to stand up to this power. This is something that many Amerikans take pride in, but this is the power of a people who seek to dominate the world for economic gain. When the oppressed fight back, that power is deployed to squash the resistance by any means necessary. Of course there is a contradiction inherent in this power: Amerikan imperialist domination breeds resistance from the oppressed around the world. So-called terrorist attacks on Amerikan targets are responses to Amerikan terrorism across the globe.

As Slahi noted when ey was watching the movie Black Hawk Down with a few of eir guards: "The guards went crazy emotionally because they saw many Americans getting shot to death. But they missed that the number of U.S. casualties is negligible compared to the Somalis who were attacked in their own homes. I was just wondering at how narrow-minded human beings can be. When people look at one thing from one perspective, they certainly fail to get the whole picture, and that is the main reason for the majority of misunderstandings that sometimes lead to bloody confrontations."(p. 320)

We would not agree that it is just misunderstandings that lead to these bloody confrontations. Rather it is the blood thirst of imperialist aggression constantly seeking new sources of exploited and stolen wealth that inevitably leads to bloody confrontations.

While Slahi is far from politically radical, eir experience educated em in the reality of injustice and the definition of crime by those in power. Writing about eir arrest and initial imprisonment in Mauritania: "So why was I so scared? Because crime is something relative; it's something the government defines and re-defines whenever it pleases."(p. 92)

War on Islam

The target of Amerikan aggression changes depending on where there is the most resistance to imperialism. Back in the mid 1900s it was focused on the communist countries, this shifted to the "War on Drugs" and attacks on Latin America in the late 1900s, and then to the Arab world in the early 2000s. Slahi is acutely aware of this latest wave of aggression by the Amerikan imperialists targeting Islam and the hypocrisy of this attack:

"...Americans tend to widen the circle of involvement to catch the largest possible number of Muslims. They always speak about the Big Conspiracy against the U.S. I personally had been interrogated about people who just practiced the basics of the religion and sympathized with Islamic movements; I was asked to provide every detail about Islamic movements, no matter how moderate. That's amazing in a country like the U.S., where Christian terrorist organizations such as Nazis and White Supremacists have the freedom to express themselves and recruit people openly and nobody can bother them. But as a Muslim, if you sympathize with the political views of an Islamic organization you're in big trouble. Even attending the same mosque as a suspect is big trouble. I mean this fact is clear for everybody who understands the ABCs of American policy toward so-called Islamic Terrorism."(p. 260-61)

Slahi also documents the denial of religious practice in detention camps:

"But in the secret camps, the war against the Islamic religion was more than obvious. Not only was there no sign to Mecca, but the ritual prayers were also forbidden. Reciting the Koran was forbidden. Possessing the Koran was forbidden. Fasting was forbidden. Practically any Islamic-related ritual was strictly forbidden. I am not talking here about hearsay; I am talking about something I experienced myself. I don't believe that the average American is paying taxes to wage war against Islam, but I do believe that there are people in government who have a big problem with the Islamic religion."(p. 265)

Slahi misses that this chauvinism is not at root a problem Amerikans have with the Islamic religion. Rather it is a problem they have with oppressed people who rise up to oppose Amerikan imperialism. Islam is just one of many targets because it is a religion of the oppressed. The Amerikan government (and its people) had no problem with Islam when al-Qaeda was an ally in the fight against communism. In fact Slahi himself trained with al-Qaeda for six months in Afghanistan, but this was during the time when that group was supported by the Amerikan government and fighting against the Soviet-backed government in that country. This action was legal for Mauritanian citizens, and in fact encouraged by the Amerikan government. Nonetheless this fact became one of the cornerstones of the Amerikan insistence that Slahi was behind the World Trade Center attacks, among other things.

Will Amerikans Oppose Torture?

After years of torture and unjust imprisonment at the hands of the Amerikan government Slahi remains relatively moderate in eir views about the country and its people. Ey sees fundamental good in all people, a view that communists share, but one that has blinded Slahi to the economic interests of the vast majority of Amerikans which leads them to support the torture in Guantanamo even after reports like this one are released.

"What would the dead average American think if he or she could see what his or her government is doing to someone who has done no crimes against anybody? As much as I was ashamed for the Arabic fellows, I knew they definitely didn't represent the average Arab. Arabic people are among the greatest on the planet, sensitive, emotional, loving, generous, sacrificial, religious, charitable, and light-hearted.... If people in the Arab world knew what was happening in this place, the hatred against the U.S. would be heavily watered, and the accusation that the U.S. is helping and working together with dictators in our countries would be cemented."(p. 257)

The reality is that most people in the Arab world do know about Amerikan injustice. In fact, in Mauritania the police told Slahi "America is a country that is based on and living with injustice"(p. 134) when Slahi asked why they were extraditing em when they believed ey had already proven eir innocence. And it is this knowledge that leads to many taking up the fight against Amerikan imperialism. At the same time most Amerikans now know about the torture of detainees at Guantánamo Bay and still public sentiment is far from outraged at these actions. Large portions of the population rally around political figures like Donald Trump when ey calls for more torture.

From all of this we see further evidence for the potential of Islam as a liberation theology for those fighting against Amerikan imperialism. Just as the masses in Latin America were drawn to Catholic liberation theology as a reaction to oppression and injustice in that region, segments of any religion are likely to adapt to popular sentiments. Liberation theology was a valuable ally for the revolutionaries in Latin America.

Regardless of the format this liberation struggle takes, we know that the oppressed people of the world can not wait around for Amerikans to wake up and stop the torture themselves. Now more than a year after Slahi's book was released (which even spent some time on the best seller's list), still nothing has been done about eir situation. The masses must liberate themselves; their captors will never willingly give up power. And the Amerikan people are enjoying the spoils of the captors, so most Amerikans are happily going along with imperialist torture worldwide.

[Principal Contradiction] [Syria] [Middle East] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 47]

The Syrian Civil War: Inter-Imperialist Rivalry

The Syrian civil war, the biggest conflict in the Middle East if not the world, has many wondering what the outcome will be. The United $tates has backed a group in the Kurdish area that has called for the expulsion of Arabs (1) and has armed fundamentalist religious forces that threaten the Syrian government, headed by Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, the government-controlled capital of Syria, Damascus, has been a place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews are allowed to co-exist, united by the same desire to save their nation from the forces that be. The Syrian Constitution is based in the mission of Pan-Arabism and specifically prevents the formation of political parties "on the basis of religious, sectarian, tribal, regional, class-based, professional, or on discrimination based on gender, origin, race or color."(2)

The Assad government opposes becoming a puppet to U.$. imperialism and was never for the creation of I$rael and its occupation of Palestine. As history has shown, with a policy like that comes economic, if not military, aggression. The East and the West are in a tug-of-war over influence in the Middle East and it's only going to get worse. The so-called U.$.-type of "democracy" has proven again and again that it does not work; imperialist pseudo-democracy will not work in Syria just like it hasn't worked in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The pro-West bourgeois media claims Assad rules with an iron fist, but the West has backed the destruction of secularism and political pluralism in the region. Syria is more democratic than Saudi Arabia, a U.$. ally and the biggest dictatorship in the region. If the United $tates is really so concerned about iron fists, maybe the capitalists should look past the petroleum barrels and look at Saudi Arabia, the anti-democratic Sunni dictatorship that is nominally leading a repressive war in Yemen and was involved in the brutal repression of recent revolts in Bahrain.

For centuries Sunni influence has dominated the sectarian Muslim world, but now the table has turned and the Shia militias have taken up more territory than they've had in centuries, which has the Saudis in an ideological war with Iran. Assad is blamed for all the casualties in the war but even the foreign aggressors can't deny that it's their coalition planes dropping the barrel bombs on innocent civilians, threatening the Syrian government with war if they intervene.

The United $tates has spent $5 million on a Pentagon-sponsored training program to arm the Syrian opposition forces, but four years later there is still no success in their campaign. The Pentagon has admitted that the program was a failure. From the beginning of the war the U.$. State Department's policy towards Syria was "Assad must go now." But since it's looking like this is not going to happen any time soon Obama said Assad doesn't have to leave right away, there can be a transition of power. What bureaucratic bullshit.

All this has to do with Russia and Iran's strong presence in Syria and their strong stance on supporting Assad. The Iran-backed Shia militias are doing most of the fighting on Iraq's border with Syria, and they have made it clear that as soon as they've dealt with the Islamic State they're prepared to fight the real enemy: U.$. imperialism. Russia has recently opened up an airbase in western Syria, the biggest Russian base ever built outside the old Soviet territory. Just recently they've started conducting their own airstrikes against the Syrian opposition forces in eastern Syria, far from Islamic State-held territory.(5) Now the United $tates sees how determined Russia and Iran are in making sure the Syrian government doesn't collapse. Both sides are willing to sit down for talks on how to avoid each other on the battlefield but can't decide how the war should end. One thing is for sure: if Assad leaves, the war still won't end.

The real victims of this ideological, semi-colonial war are the innocent people of Syria. Since the beginning of the war, 250,000 people have died and more than 9 million people have left their homes. According to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 3,000 to 6,000 people leave Syria every day. So now because of the war the biggest refugee crisis since WWII is happening with no end in sight.

Other major casualties are happening among the Kurdish people, who have been fighting for freedom since before the war and have suffered much death and destruction because of the war. I'm not talking about the comprador landlord class that sold out to imperialism. I'm talking about the exploited who were suffering way before the war, and do not have interests aligned with imperialism, despite their misleaders.

As anti-imperialists we oppose U.$. aggression in Syria as well as anywhere in the world. Chairman Mao said "political power comes out of the barrel of a gun." So as long as there is exploitation there will always be war. As materialists we must use scientific theory to educate one another on the importance of solidarity with the Third World and opposition to the bourgeois warmongers.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade is correct that our principal contribution here should be in making it hard for the United $tates to stay involved in Syria and elsewhere. And while we cannot determine the forces on the ground elsewhere, we can see who is in the anti-imperialist united front and who is with the imperialists. In that light, we have a couple comments related to some popular narratives on this conflict.

First, there is a myth promoted in the Western media that violence in the Middle East is due to centuries-old religious conflict. This myth paints the current war(s) in an ahistorical way; they have always existed, and may continue to exist unless the imperialists can somehow tame and modernize these backwards peoples.

The reality is that these are some of the most religiously diverse countries because they are close to the birthplaces of so many of the world's most popular religions. Countries like Iraq and Syria not only were quite diverse and harmonious, but were relatively well-developed; not the bombed-out desert caves we see in the media.

The narrative that focuses on religion does so to hide the real politics and economics behind the conflict. In particular, hiding imperialist meddling. It also attempts to convince the West, from atheist to Christian, of the barbarity of these "foreign" cultures. It is important to remember that the principal contradiction on the international scale is imperialism vs. the oppressed nations, and not between religions or genders.

Many have used the role of wimmin in the Islamic State in contrast to the Kurdish regions to justify support for the Kurds. As Frantz Fanon noted in his study of the Algerian revolution, the conditions of armed struggle forced the involvement of wimmin in military operations, regardless of cultural beliefs to the contrary. In other words, the national struggle, if genuinely aimed at liberation from imperialism, will force the gender contradiction forward with it. The converse is not true, which is how we know which contradiction should be prioritized. It is true that more wimmin holding guns can be a good sign of the progressiveness of the organization, but even in the Third World this is not always the case.

This leads us to another myth that we want to clarify for our readers, which is that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is a Marxist, or even a Maoist organization. While having Marxist-Leninist roots, the PKK fully capitulated to the Turkish state after the capture of their leader Abdullah Ocalan in a joint U.$.-Turkish operation in 1999. He officially changed the leading ideology of the PKK to a libertarian “Democratic Confederalism” in 2005. But as early as 1998 Ocalan was denouncing communism, and promoting the route of U.$. development for the oppressed nations.(6)

The PKK has its roots in Turkey, which has a long history of Maoist activity that continues to this day. Yet none of the Kurdish-controlled areas are currently run by anti-imperialist organizations. The U.$.-backed Erdogan regime in Turkey does have a complex relationship to the PKK and other Kurdish forces. While they have provided support to Kurds fighting the Islamic State, in recent months, they resumed violent attacks on the PKK within Turkey. For this reason and many others, the current alliance of Kurdish forces with the U.$. empire is not an optimistic choice for the Kurdish people.

[FAQ] [Economics] [Theory] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 60]

What is the Third World?

A USW comrade asks:
Recently I was having a conversation here with someone about the "Third World." This person didn't think all of Africa, Asia & Latin America was still the "Third World." I wasn't totally sure. He also asked exactly what qualifies a country for Third World status. I had no answer, he asked someone outside prison who looked online and stated all Latin America is still Third World but China was now considered "Second World," is this true? Can you send me an article on "Third World" - past, present, and future? Thank you.

MIM(Prisons) responds: The use of the terms First, Second and Third World arose during the Cold War, when the Western imperialist-led block was referred to as the First World, the communist block was the Second World, and the Third World were the so-called non-aligned countries who were also the most exploited and underdeveloped countries by design.

Mao Zedong put forth an alternative assessment of the world using these terms. By this time the Soviet Union had clearly gone back on the capitalist road. So while the West saw the Soviet Union as communist, China saw it correctly as imperialist. Mao therefore labeled the two superpowers, U$A and the Soviet Union, as the First World. He grouped other imperialist countries as the Second World, which he saw as potential allies against the First World. Then the exploited countries he saw as the Third World, including socialist countries like China itself.

Today, the general usage of the term Third World is more consistent and it is closer to the way Mao defined it. It might be used interchangeably with terms like "exploited nations," "oppressed nations," "underdeveloped countries," "periphery" or "global south." In 1974 Mao said, "The third world has a huge population. With the exception of Japan, Asia belongs to the third world. The whole of Africa belongs to the third world and Latin America too."(1) To this day, this is probably the most common view of who is the Third World. But of course it is more nuanced than that.

It is worth mentioning the more recent use of the term Fourth World to refer to indigenous populations that are not really integrated into the capitalist world economy. This points to the reality that the vast populations that we might lump into the category of Third World can vary greatly themselves. The distinction is a more useful point when analyzing conditions within a Third World country than when doing a global analysis.

In the earlier years of the Soviet Union, Stalin summed up Lenin's theory of imperialism and split "the population of the globe into two camps: a handful of 'advanced' capitalist countries which exploit and oppress vast colonies and dependencies, and the huge majority consisting of colonial and dependent countries which are compelled to wage a struggle for liberation from the imperialist yoke."(2) This is how we view the world today, when there is no socialist block with state power. But we also know that historically the socialist USSR and socialist China both saw themselves in the camp of the exploited countries, or the Third World.

In our glossary, we define Third World as, "The portion of the geographic-social world subjected to imperialist exploitation by the First World." If this is our working definition, we might choose to use the term "exploited nations" to be more clear. But this comrade brings up a good question asking about China. And it leads us to the question, is China still an exploited nation?

We will only superficially address this question here, but we think the obvious answer is "yes." It was only recently that the peasantry ceased to be the majority in China. And after the destruction of socialist organizing in the mid-1970s, the conditions of the peasantry quickly deteriorated pushing people to leave their homelands for the cities. While urban wages have seen steady growth in recent years, even that masks a vast and diverse population. The average annual income of $9,000 puts an urban Chinese worker in the neighborhood of earning the value of their labor.(3) But the average is greatly skewed by the wealthy, and most workers actually make far less than $9,000 a year. Combine them with the almost 50% of the population in the rural areas and we've got a majority exploited population.

Another way to think about China as a whole is that it accounts for about 25% of global production.(4) Capitalism cannot function and pay over a quarter of the world's productive labor more than the value they produce. Keeping all the value of your own labor (and more) is an elite benefit only granted to a tiny minority found almost wholly in the First World. There is really no feasible path forward that leads to the vast majority of Chinese people benefiting from imperialism when they make up almost 20% of the world's people. This is a contradiction that Chinese finance capitalists must deal with.

While the modern interpretation of the term Third World tends to be a descriptive term for the conditions of that country alone, the definitions from the Cold War era actually defined Third World countries by how they relate in the global balance of power. To define a country as Third World is more meaningful when it is done to define its interests in relation to others. Can we count on the Chinese to take up anti-imperialism or not? Or, as Mao put it, who are our friends and who are our enemies? That is the important question.

While we see the makings of more and more revolutionary nationalist organizing by other nations against China in the future, we cannot put the Chinese nation in the camp of oppressor nations. It is our position that some 80% of the world are of the oppressed nations that oppose imperialism. Including China as an oppressor nation would push that number down near 60%. But the conditions in China just don't support that categorization.

The bourgeois myth is that the world has been in a period of peace since the end of World War II. The MIM line has always been that World War III is under way, it's just taken the form of the First World vs. the Third World, so First Worlders don't worry about it so much. In recent years that has begun to change as witnessed in thinly veiled conflicts in places like Ukraine and Syria. In recent months we've seen U.$. and Russian military on the same battlefield, not on the same side. And both countries are gearing up to increase their militarys' involvements in that war in Syria. This is the first time that the inter-imperialist contradiction has been so acute since Gorbachev took power in the Soviet Union in 1985 and began the dissolution of the union in partnership with the Western imperialists.

Politically speaking, it would be reasonable to consider countries like Russia, as well as China, to be the Second World today, as they provide a counterbalance to the imperialist interests of the dominant imperialist powers of Europe, Japan and, most importantly, the United $tates. As such, Russia and China can play progressive roles as a side-effect of them pursuing their own non-progressive interests, because they challenge the dominant empire. However, we have not seen the term Second World used in this way, and you don't really hear the term these days. Perhaps the growing inter-imperialist conflict will warrant its comeback.