The Lumpen Show Relative Progress Compared to Amerikkkans
[The following letter is from a prisoner in New York who generally likes what MIM Notes has to say. It is an example of what communists are up against in terms of uniting the oppressed within u$ borders against imperialism. Most of the criticisms in the letter are answered in the original article, and some answers are repeated in brackets within the letter. Below we discuss this letter in the context of the greater public opinion battle among the lumpen class.]
I am writing in response to an article that was featured in the April 2007 issue of MIM Notes (#343) entitled, "War Criminals Kill Saddam Hussein." I was shocked and disappointed by the author's description of the executed reactionary dictator Hussein as "... a martyr for Third World independence." The author went on to assert that "He [i.e.. Saddam Hussein] followed his two sons... and grandson... to the grave in the fight for Iraqi independence." Although I found other statements in the article to be both accurate and poignant (such as the author's reasoning that Hussein could not be put on trial for the bulk of the slaughter he performed "...because the evidence for U.$. and British complicity would have come out..."), the aforementioned eulogy of Saddam cannot be deemed as anything except ridiculous, the product of ignorance, and a slap to the face of all oppressed "Third World" peoples who are suffering under and standing against U$-supported lackey regimes like that of former Iraqi resident Saddam Hussein.
[MIM: In the second sentence of the article, "War Criminals Kill Saddam Hussein", MIM mentions that Hussein killed thousands of communist-minded Iraqis before stating that he put his life on the line for an oppressed nation. So the reader's claim that the author is not aware of Iraqi history is clearly due to h own poor attention to the original article. Yes, Hussein killed thousands of communists and he died in the struggle for national liberation. We said it again. MIM is also part of the tiny minority in the united $tates who actually cared that the united $tates was funding the Baath regime before the imperialists turned on it. Meanwhile, the vast majority of amerikkkans did nothing to stop their government from funding the slaughter of Iraqi communists in the 1960s nor from their own people going to Iraq today to slaughter Muslims, which no one can claim ignorance of. So for amerikkkans to turn around and use the fact that he was u$-funded against Hussein after he died defying u$ occupation of Iraq is ludicrous.]
The author makes mention of the "stupid liberals on NPR," but at least NPR has been intelligent enough to recognize and report (quite vigorously) on the U$ all-out support for Saddam and his Baathist regime before their "foxy-proxy" relationship went sour- or the atrocities that grew from and were enabled by that support - on programs such as Amy Goodman's "Democracy NOW!"
[MIM: What we were criticizing the stupid liberals for was failing to recognize that Arabs ranked Hussein as the fourth most respected world leader, tied with bin Laden. A fact our reader also chooses to ignore from the original article being critiqued.]
Hussein's decision not to flee Iraq during the invasion was hardly one based upon any revolutionary principles (incidentally, he did flee Iraq once early in his political career following a botched assassination attempt of a political opponent). He was a power monger/ mega-parasite who was unable to even imagine living without the ability or means to impose his will upon others. Moreover, he had created so many enemies throughout the planet and from every class of society that surely he knew that he could not have survived for long outside of Iraq.
Addressing the Second National Congress of Workers and Peasants Representatives in 1934, Chairman Mao stated: "I earnestly suggest to the congress that we pay close attention to the well-being of the masses, from the problems of land and labour to those of fuel, rice, cooking oil and salt." Neither Saddam Hussein, his profligate and vicious sons, nor anyone else who comprised the brutal cadre that commanded the pseudo-socialist democratic Baathist regime's government (the history of which the author is invited to research in depth) ever upheld or intended to uphold such a critical and revolutionary ideal - not during the time of U$ patronage, not during or after the Gulf War, not during the embargo, and not at any time during the U$ invasion and current occupation.
[MIM: Clearly our reader has not done much research into the current conditions in Iraq, nor compared them to Iraq in the past. Things like "fuel, rice, cooking oil and salt" are no longer readily available in Iraq as they were during the Baath Party rule. Remember how the u$ bombed water treatment facilities and knocked out the power grid upon its invasion? Not only have the u$ occupiers taken away the basic necessities of the people, but they have more than doubled the number of unnecessary deaths in the country, while bringing in u$-style prison operations. (1) Since we last reported on these facts, the bourgeois press has reported a 50% increase in the number of Iraqis held in u$ prisons over a six month period. (2) However, these numbers ignore the majority of prisoners who are in Iraqi-run jails, making it hard to know how close they are to achieving amerikkkan-level imprisonment rates. But reports from a Big Noise Films reporter indicate that in parts of Anbar province "everyone" is in prison, leaving only children and the elderly in the streets begging u$ military persynal to return their families. So while we don't have the complete numbers, the trend is clear: lock up the oppressed. According to U$ General Petraeus, supervising this growing prison population was one reason for the increase in troops needed this year. (3) Perhaps amerikkkan prison guard unions will push to increase the troop and imprisonment surge in Iraq.]
Chairman Mao stated: "The bourgeoisie, as a rule, conceals the problem of class status and carries out its one-class dictatorship under the "national" label." Hussein and his henchmen were pure petty bourgeoisie- and truly traitors to the Iraqi people in allowing the Iraqi nation to be used by the U$ as a proxy serving it's own imperialist/ neocolonialist interests in the middle east.
Chairman Mao said:
"All men must die, but death can vary in its significance... To die for the people is weightier than Mount Tai, but to work for the fascists and die for the exploiters and oppressors is lighter than a feather."
Saddam Hussein, who was an Arab Fascist at best, who exploited the ethnic and racial divisions and the resources of the Iraqi people to consolidate and augment his own power and status, who oppressed the Iraqi people with the aid and at the insistence of his neocolonial/imperialist masters, died a humiliating death at the hands of these very same masters that was lighter than the feather of a humming bird.
MIM discusses this further: The lumpen in the united $tates are struggling to get a scientific hold on the principal contradiction. On the one hand you have people rapping about the Taliban, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden as being hard, rebels against the white power structure. You have Muslim wimmin speaking out in favor of modesty to beat back the war cries of the white nationalists using Islam's gender line as a justification for invasions for more superprofits. And you have those who see the fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan as being on the righteous side of a holy jihad.
On the other hand you got people rapping about Bush and bin Laden being "two separate parts of the same seven headed dragon." You got people putting religion as principal, and as an absolute tool of the oppressor. And you've got people pushing a purity line, as the reader above, who will not make strategic alliances with someone who has done things they disagree with.
We can see we have more of the former here among the lumpen than we do among the u$ population in general, and that is something. Integration may have bought off and brainwashed many, but not all. What makes the struggle more interesting is that it is those who identify as revolutionaries that are more likely to stumble on the petty bourgeois obstacles to unity of the oppressed nations. It is people who are rapping about sex and drugs half the time that are saying, "al Qaeda be Black men's best friend" and " I'm half Saddam, half bin Laden, that equals full time ridin." It seems to be those who pick up the Koran instead of the New York Times that are more likely to recognize that the Iraqi fighters are contributing the most to overthrow the very system that is responsible for this war and so much suffering thru economic deprivation.
When the Nation of Gods and Earths (NOGE) came out with a statement proclaiming their right to affiliate and practice their beliefs in prisons they attempted to draw a clear line between themselves and "religious" Islam that is associated with "terrorism" in the minds of the oppressors. While righteously calling amerika out for alleging to support religious freedom in Afghanistan while persecuting Five Percenters, they deem the liberation fighters in that country terrorists. Their statement reads, "The fact that the Father fought for this country in the Korean War showed that he was a true patriot. To go to war for your homeland on foreign soil is the greatest sacrifice a man can make." The Father of this group took up arms against socialism and self-determination of the Korean people.
This caught the attention of one God who responded to a struggle among members over this article by saying:
"How are you going to encourage Black men and womyn to fight in Amerika's army to 'protect freedom and democracy' and against oppressed nations fighting for liberation? See point 6 in the Black Panther 10 point program and contrast with what Born King Allah espouses. How are you going to distance yourself and Black people from the liberation struggles in the Middle East, labeling the Arab Muslims 'terrorists who worship a spook God'- to which I say, so what! The Arab, spook God worshipping Muslims have done more in 6 years to undermine and overthrow imperialism than the NOGE has done in its 40 plus years of existence! How are you going to tell our people that the greatest sacrifice one can make is to give one's life for this country? this is madness!"
The sad thing is we don't even need to go to the Panthers to find a better line on this question, we can go to the guy who self-proclaimed revolutionary MC Immortal Technique claims to be part of the "same seven headed dragon" as George W. Bush: Osama bin Laden. On the sixth anniversary of 9/11, bin Laden issued a statement in which he once again placed responsibility for the genocide in Iraq and Afghanistan on the amerikkkan people. He even went so far to put capitalism at the root of the problems in the world today. He has done more to unite the oppressed against u$ imperialism than a million amerikkkans and their lackeys chanting "No to Bush, No to Islam."
Now some comrades are having a problem because they are struggling against the idealism of NOI or NOGE style Islam at home within the greater context of the imperialist war targeting Muslim's globally. There is a need for Maoists to distinguish ourselves from the Nation of Islam, the Nation of Gods and Earths and other cultural nationalist groups. We all make claims to liberating the Black nation. One of us has a better plan than the others. But now is not the time for broad attacks on religion. In a feudal kingdom, such broad attacks would be progressive. But it is questionable whether they will be useful to the oppressed again in a modern capitalist state. As long as we are combatting religious ideas among the oppressed then we are dealing with contradictions among the people. These must be dealt with from the standpoint of unity-struggle-unity, not from the standpoint of defeating an enemy.
One revolutionary hip hop group has a song about jokes that says, "I'd like to see a boxing match between them all, Colin vs. bin Laden and Bush vs. Saddam, rig a pound of dynamite to the ring and kill 'em all." Despite incorrectly equating Saddam and bin Laden to Bush and Powell, they get it right in a later joke that goes, "An atheist and a Catholic priest on top of a building. Well there used to be a Muslim, but they ganged up on him and pushed him." See it ain't even about religion, it's about white people teaming up on the oppressed.
We don't pretend that we don't wish there was a communist party playing the role that bin Laden is playing right now. That would mean we were probably closer to putting an end to imperialism and oppression. But that is a subjective wish, and our actions can only be based on objective facts. Anyone who reads us for more than a minute will know that we differ from the Islamic fundamentalists, even though we are on the same side. Those who are attacking Islamic fundamentalism in the name of communism right now are dividing the oppressed and uniting the oppressors.
Throughout history Marxists have dialogued with and critiqued many political trends. Often times those criticized were those deemed most close to the Marxist perspective. In the era of the dictatorship of the proletariat, ushered in with Lenin in 1917, revisionism soon became the primary target. Once the people had been largely won over by socialism, it was only the wolf in sheep's clothing who could stand a chance in challenging communist ideology. Similarly today, it is often those who appear closest to us, usually the revisionists, who we must criticize most to raise the consciousness of the masses. For all the times people have asked MIM how we are different from the rcp=u$a, I don't think anyone has ever asked how we are different from the Baath regime in Iraq. And despite his condemnation of capitalism and support for the liberation of the oppressed nations, people don't confuse MIM with Osama bin Laden.
So not only are the fake Maoists on the wrong side of the principal contradiction, while bin Laden and Hussein are/were on the right side. The fake Maoists also serve to create more confusion among the oppressed by preaching idealism in communist rhetoric, rather than an openly religious philosophy as bin Laden does.
To respond to the reader above in kind, let us quote Mao as well,
"The middle bourgeoisie constitutes the national bourgeoisie as distinct from the comprador class, i.e., from the big bourgeoisie. Although it has its class contradictions with the workers and does not approve of the independence of the working class, it still wants to resist Japan and, moreover, would like to grasp political power for itself, because it is oppressed by the Japanese imperialists in the occupied areas and kept down by the big landlords and big bourgeoisie in the Kuomintang areas. When it comes to resisting Japan, it is in favor of united resistance; when it comes to winning political power, it is in favor of the movement for constitutional government and tries to exploit the contradictions between the progressives and the die-hards for its own ends." (from Current Problems of Tactics in the Anti-Japanese United Front)
You see, we never claimed that Hussein's decision not to flee Iraq was based on revolutionary principles. We don't know or care about his persynal motivations. (In fact, we have no way to claim to know the psychology of Hussein as the reader claims to know). As the reader stated, there were many material reasons that may have caused Hussein to stay in Iraq. But these motivations do not change the fact that he stood up to u$ imperialism and died as a martyr for Iraqi liberation. In the quote above, Mao distinguishes between the national bourgeoisie and the comprador class. Hussein was a comprador of u$ imperialism for many years. Not a home-grown Arab Fascist as the reader suggests, but an arm of u$ fascism. That is the thing about fascism in the Third World, when finance capital pulls out the whole thing changes. We go so far to say without finance capital, there is no fascism. And a former puppet of fascism suddenly finds himself in the national bourgeoisie again, fighting against his former puppet-master side-by-side with the masses of his nation.
Lenin always insisted that change does not occur in straight lines, despite our wishes. And like all Marxists, he stressed historical materialism, which means that ideas come from material reality and not vice versa. We can imagine the world we want and wish it into existence, but that will not make it so. What Marxists do is look at the contradictions in humyn society and study the forces that make them up in order to understand how to resolve them. It is in the resolution of contradictions that we can reach goals like peace and putting an end to hunger and oppression.
(1) MC5. Which one is worse for Iraq? A comparison of G.W. Bush & Saddam Hussein. http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/agitation/iraq/bushvshussein.html
(2) Shanker, Thom. With Troop Rise, Iraqi Detainees Soar in Number. New York Times, August 25, 2007.
Also of note in this article. Of the 24,500 detainees, 280 are from outside Iraq and none are Iranian despite claims of active agents and intervention by Iran from the u$ state department.
(3) Pincus, Walter. U.S. Expects Iraq Prison Growth. Washington Post. March 14, 2007.