Peace from the Gods! We salute the world with universal greetings of peace. We recognize the need for unity-criticism-unity. We only want to build upon the "actual facts" Wiawimawo built upon concerning Islam and New Afrikans. We have found that concerning so-called revolutionaries scientific approach towards New Afrikans and Islam one must first define, then science out the rest for the sake of peace and the absence of confusion. A New Afrikan is a young, poorly educated, superstitious, disillusioned Black person fed up with the slow legal process, who takes up a militant stance against the lack of equality of opportunity and treatment in the United States according to E. David Cronon, a Marcus Garvey biographer who wrote Black Moses. Islam is and always will be peace. There is no "I" in Arabic, so Islam is As-Slaam, root word slm, which is peace. A deaf dumb and blind would use the so-called translation of submission to the will of Allah as the defining of Islam. These are the Facts! Peace is one of the reasons we salute Under Lock & Key.
Wiawimawo has taken a few fragments of information and stretched them to fit a particular line. In the article when he [sic] uses citation 10 from Knight's book, he leaves out the part that states "in turn some[emphasis ours - Legion] Five Percenters replace 'understand' with York's 'overstand' (itself grafted from Rastafari) in regular conversation..." We feel as if to make a point the comrade can't defend a poorly constructed argument, so a blanket statement is made. That's like us saying the Maoist let the Black Panther Party get massacred and laid it down during the COINTELPRO stings.
In citation 11 about the Gods, Black Muslims and Rastafarians in cahoots to kill suspected dope dealers was a cover-up the NYPD manifested to cover up the fact they had ten unsolved murders on the books along with the assassinations of various so-called Black messiahs. On pages 248-252 of In the Name of Allah Vol. 1 you'll find the full history of the situation. The NYCPD, NYPD and FBI tried to cause yet another "civil war" between the Gods and Black Muslims. The NOI was cleared and NYC Mayor Lindsay put Barry Gottehrer to the task of clearing up the confusion.
Five Percenters are doing what no other LO or nation has the ability to do with regard to citation 13, and have been since before 1970. ["In the later 1970s the Five Percenters recruited whole street gangs into their fold whose members accounted for a significant portion of the arrests in Brooklyn during those years.(13)" - Wiawimawo] We are nation builders. It's what we do.
This line about civic duty and spirituality is another stretch. The Five Percenters main brain function is pulling people out of the mud with proper knowledge of self. Spirit as defined in Funk and Wagnalls dictionary is the part of the human being characterized by intelligence, personality, self-consciousness, and will; the mind. We live on actual facts every day in every way. No spook in the sky is ever going to feed us or you. It's in the lessons.
We must point out that Allah (the Father) was never close friends with Malcolm X. The Father stayed away from the beef between X and Elijah. The people come first. The strength of a nation before money is the youth. Malcolm X let the lime light get himself killed. We respect the intent, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. People also seem to forget Malcolm X was a UNIA Mason before Elijah, before his brother told him about Islam. So his ability to do for self was in his political make up anyways.
The difference between allegory and myth are exponential. A myth is used to explain a natural phenomenon, while allegory is used to represent characters and events as ideals and princples. To discount the Yacub theory is to discredit any and all efforts made by Maoists, whom use dialectical materialism to present solutions to problems faced by the masses. We are tasked with learning the science of everything in life. So we tend to look listen and observe through an independent lense. If one is a scientist then you are a religionist. If you are not then you really aren't living the life of a scientist (i.e. devoted).
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: Thanks to Legion for eir feedback and corrections. Legion pointed me in the right direction for research on this topic, but is much more knowledgeable on the history than i. There is an interesting problem that we face as we attempt to lay out the history of most LOs when there is little documentation, and primary sources are mostly stories and the (subjective) memories of certain individuals. Much of the research in Knight's book is admittedly unverified and presented in a very loose form.
My citation 10, on Rastafari's influence on the NGE was flimsy on it's own. But i do believe the influence is greater than the use of one word, for example in terms of diet and dress (of some Five Percenters, not all). And the bigger point i was making still stands, that the NGE is a uniquely New Afrikan organization that reflects the history of the nation via movements including Rastafari, UNIA, MSTA, NOI, hip hop and lumpen street organizations.
We agree with Legion that the allegory of the white man as the devil is useful. However, it seems clear that it was taught as historical scripture by many. As a white researcher of the history of these organizations, perhaps Michael Knight gave it special attention. But it is at least one of the major issues that caused Malcolm X and Wallace Muhammad to split with Elijah Muhammad. So its unscientific aspect has made it divisive among New Afrikans at times, and the story of Yacub has never been the mythology of the majority of the nation.
As discussed in the original article, idealist philosophies usually differentiate between the material world and the spiritual one. Such philosophies are "dualist." Communists are monists, as we do not believe there is a mind or spirit that is separate from our material bodies. By working to transform society we address both the material and the so-called spiritual needs of the people. Above Legion seems to see the NGE similarly. Even the NOI has in its founding ideology a "do-for-self in this world" line, yet the NOI philosophy is clearly religious. As i argue in the original article, the NGE represents a move towards materialism (and therefore monism), but certainly in its founding ideas there are many parallels to the NOI. Finally, we do not agree that a scientist is a practitioner of religion; as we define in my original article, religion "is idealism with organized rituals." Legion's insistence on merging science and religion seem to demonstrate that there is still some level of disagreement between us there.
Since 2010, after the so-called "Arab Spring" that caused governments in North Africa and the Middle East to crumble, those regions have been in all-out war at the expense of the people who populate them.
Over here on this side of the world, people have prejudiced animosity towards the people who populate war-torn countries like Syria and Yemen. First World nationalists and the bourgeoisie, along with the petty-bourgeoisie, believe that the displaced people risking their lives to come to the United $tates or European Union threaten their First World lifestyle. What nerve these money hungry, war-mongers have. It's a fact that very few First Worlders have actually seen war, or experienced hunger, or had to give up everything and risk their lives taking a chance migrating to a new country, sometimes even a new continent, to have a so-called "better life" and partake in the "Amerikan dream" that everyone talks about.
600,000 people crossed into Europe this year, sometimes 10,000 a day.(1) This is a cycle that goes back centuries, but now that it's affecting the First World's backyard, the imperialists have no choice but to admit that it's gotten out of hand. Now the imperialists are calling it a "world crisis." My question to them would be, what world are you talking about? I doubt they're talking about the world as a whole.
In the European Union, right-wing parties that promote xenophobia were on the rise way before the displaced people started pushing through the borders.(1) Now protectionist E.U. governments are complaining that Europe will change for the worse because of the mass migration plaguing their countries. They complain that the displaced people will "take their jobs, get spoiled on government benefits, and worst of all change the identity of Europe."(1) Wow, I say fuck their identity, for centuries they've been destroying ours.
Thanks to globalization, smuggling displaced people has become a full-blown enterprise. Smugglers charge up to $1,200 a persyn and children at half that. This is big business with a lot of activity in the Mediterranean. So much so that 100 boats leave Turkey for Greece almost daily, each packed with over 40 people. All this adds up to over $5 million a day for the smugglers.(2) This is true capitalism, getting rich off the people of the Third World.
Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, is to blame for the wars in poor regions like the Middle East with the real victims being our children. Our youth are being poisoned with bourgeois culture, and parasitic class ideology. That type of mentality is everywhere: in books, magazines, TV, and the radio. No matter what part of the world you're in, all you hear about is how great Amerika is, the so-called land of the free where nobody's poor, or hungry, or cold. People, some still children, leave their home countries because they want to believe in a utopia where they are safe from bombs or stray bullets. Only thing is that the imperialist propaganda machine doesn't tell them that the "Amerikan dream" is for a chosen few. I know because I am one of them that risked it all at a young age for a piece of that "Amerikan dream" and now here I am locked away in a humyn warehouse. According to an ABC news report aired on Good Morning America, "5,000 children crossed the U.$./Mexico border alone in October."(3) Now they're in koncentration kamps being processed to be deported back to their poor, war-torn, inhumyn countries. Every one of them treated like an animal, locked away in so-called "refugee camps."
The imperialists call this "radical ideology," but as materialists and students of Maoism we point out the fact that the First World exploits the Third World for its cheap labor and resources. These bureaucratic pigs justify their imperialist policies by claiming to promote democracy and Liberal capitalism. But in reality they flex their muscles in the Third World to intimidate other nations for the purpose of exploiting their oil fields or mines that are rich in minerals, and any nation that resists is called "undemocratic" or "ruled with an iron fist," attacked by the imperialist propaganda machine. Now that some nations want some of that wealth (that was made off the oil or minerals) the imperialists stole, the imperialists push policies to block any of those nations from entering the empire and partaking in the benefits that the wealth provides. It's all in the hystory books for anyone to see. The First World exploits the Third World in the form of neo-colonialism.
As anti-imperialists we oppose U.$. and E.U. aggression in the Third World, and we put them on blast for their crimes against humanity. If NATO could stabilize the Middle East with their billions of dollars/euros they would have done it by now. Now the imperialists see that they have awakened a giant, not in the form of socialism, but still, in the form of anti-imperialism. The bourgeois media gives off this false perception of the people of the Third World as illiterates, uncivilized, and religious fanatics, but hystory is on our side and just like in China, Cuba, Vietnam, etc. the people of the Third World will prevail.
Just like in Nazi Germany the United $tates is using white nationalism in the form of patriotism to use fascist-like tactics and policies to repress oppressed nations here in the United $tates. It's sad really, some actually believe that imperialist forces overseas are actually protecting their freedom. And to those who speak up on the crimes the state department commits against their own people, well just look at Edward Snowden. And if you're against the war crimes committed by the U.$. forces, well just look at Bowe Bergdahl. Both are considered traitors.
We must educate the youth that flashy cars and jewelry is not what life is really about. The reason that people have for coming to the United $tates is that they too want to get rich and own a mansion in Beverly Hills. This is what the United $tates preaches and then they complain when others flood their borders to partake in the "Amerikan dream." We must expose the real criminals. Down with the imperialists and their puppet regimes, all power to the people.
As each holiday season reminds us, there are certain tunes sung again and gain for generations. Perhaps a word or two is altered as language changes, but the message is the same.
A man named Carolus Linneaus is honored by most amerikkkans as "one of the greatest scientists of the Western world" for his message back in 1738.(1) While the terms aren't in use in today's language, let's see if we recognize the time.
Modern imperialism was in its nascent stage back then. Powerful and power hungry Europeans were attempting to find a reasoned justification for dominating and destroying other people in order to take their resources. Good ol' Carolus Linneaus - brilliant scientist - had already classified the world into the various families, genus, types, etc. that we learn in biology. But most hystory books don't tell us he also made four classes of humyns:
Homo Europeans: people who are light, lively, inventive, ruled by rites
Homo Americanus: people who are tenacious, contented, free, ruled by custom
Homo Asiaticus: people who are stern, haughty, stingy, ruled by opinion
Homo Africanus: cunning, slow, ruled by caprice
This is a timeless tune, isn't it? I suppose we could add to this "Carolus" the jingle of Donald Kunt, er Trump kkklassifying Latinos as murderers, rapists, and criminals. I mean, if i classify you as not quite humyn then I can freely treat you as other than me. Like it's okay to steal a duck's eggs 'cause ducks don't have rights.
The recurrence of police brutality and racial prejudice against U.$. oppressed nation groups that has captured widespread attention has also heightened the national question. More and more, oppressed nation communities and groups are expressing their discontent with a system of oppression that dehumanizes and marginalizes them. Mass protests have taken place, unrest has gripped cities, and organized movements have arisen all in direct response to these injustices. In other words, the demand for change by U.$. oppressed nations is beginning to define the national question.
These events signal a realization among U.$. oppressed nations that the prevailing system does not represent their interests, and that in fact, it functions at a disadvantage to them. While socioeconomic indicators reveal inequalities in communities of oppressed nations, they cannot communicate the dimensions of humyn misery and suffering that result from institutionalized racism and discrimination. Just as class consciousness begins to take root and grow within exploited workers as they question and share their experiences with each other, resulting in organizations and movements expressly designed to overcome their plight, so too does national consciousness follow this process as oppressed nations deal with the reality of national oppression.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is indicative of this process. It is not the recent sanctioned murders of oppressed nation youth alone that is responsible for this renewed activism, but the accumulation of years of national oppression. The quantitative development of the national question as it relates to U.$. imperialist society has reached a critical point. Either U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations are going to vie for liberation, or seek the path of reform and further integration. Thus, the question becomes how are we, as Maoists, going to nurture this emerging seed of awareness with revolutionary nationalism.
Ultimately national oppression informs the consciousness of oppressed nations within the unique conditions of U.$. imperialist society and there are implications from the BLM movement that are relevant to the larger national liberation movement. It is important to note that the BLM movement is not a revolutionary organization. Yet, BLM is instructive to our cause because it demonstrates the potential among U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations to be organized around issues of national oppression.
National Oppression and a Nation's Right to Self-Determination
For U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations the national question should be about realizing their right to self-determination. Oppressed nations are subject to semi-colonialism and thus have no control or power over their destiny. Because white supremacy dominates every aspect of the oppressed nation, their material existence merely functions as an afterthought to the white power structure.
Moreover, the white-setter nation-state has created mechanisms of social control to maintain dominance over oppressed nations. Mass incarceration, family and community dysfunction, the culture of stereotypes and stigmas, etc. are just a few means used to keep oppressed nations in check. To elaborate more on this point, the systematic restriction of access to meaningful education undermines access to meaningful job opportunities. No jobs means poverty and the social ills that accompanies it. In addition, institutionalized racism and discrimination inform attitudes and behavior that further creates a culture of inequality within communities of oppressed nations. As a result, some members of oppressed nations are compelled to pursue criminal lifestyles, opening themselves up to the repressive criminal injustice system.
While the above scenario is not representative of the entire oppressed nation it does speak to the need for national liberation and the exercise of a nation's right to self-determination. Granted, U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations enjoy living standards and privileges that their Third World counterparts would die for. Nevertheless, the reality of national oppression is no less detrimental to the U.$. oppressed nation. The hurt and pain associated with injustices of semi-colonialism is no less real.
These social experiences of national oppression take a mental toll on oppressed nations. Every day and every instance of national oppression that members of oppressed nations go through makes an impression upon their consciousness. Eventually, they begin to connect the dots and recognize the injustice of their situation in U.$. society.
What is National Consciousness?
Oppressed nations within U.$. borders develop an awareness due to enduring national oppression. This awareness is not revolutionary nor is it substantive. To be clear, any material situation that humyns inhabit conditions a corresponding awareness that reflects their living state. Marx and Engels developed the theory of materialist dialectics, which dictates that consciousness is a product of matter, the exterior world. The prison-house that is U.$. imperialist society is the physical world and the social, political, and economic relations and interactions that comprise it involve actual activity that is outside of our minds.
In this sense, the oppressed nations are subject to this dialectical process as these relations and interactions condition their consciousness. The activity of daily life within U.$. imperialist society makes an impression upon mental capacity. And as shown above, national oppression is a fundamental part of the daily life of these oppressed nations.
Furthermore, national consciousness is similar to class consciousness in that during the grind of daily life people exchange and engage ideas about their material situation, their living conditions. They begin to seek ways to resolve the issues that they face. Intellectuals gather to discuss, theorize, and come up with solutions to common problems. More importantly, institutions and organizations are founded to help push their agendas. All of these actions take place because somewhere down the line people got together after recognizing a problem.
Thus, when Marxists of old talked about building and deepening class consciousness among exploited workers, they were referring to a process in which people began to realize their predicament, but in a revolutionary manner. For us, as Maoists, our job at this hystorical point is to push forward national liberation struggles within oppressed nations with revolutionary nationalism. We must build national consciousness among oppressed nations so that these groups understand that concepts such as race are false and Amerika is not representative of their interests. These groups must come to understand that nations exist and that their respective nation is entitled to exercise its right to self-determination.
Why Black Lives Matter
The BLM movement is no different from the [email protected] movement that demanded repeal of the chauvinist, racist, tough-on-immigrant legislation in Arizona a few years back.
In the [email protected] communities, immigration is an extremely decisive issue. Obama's chauvinist policies have broken families apart, the mistreatment of migrant workers in the workplace has become all too frequent, and in general, under-served and under resourced [email protected] communities continue to suffer from inequalities and poverty. The fact that Arizona was trying to pass - and eventually passed - even more extreme anti-immigrant laws was just the straw that broke the camel's back, mobilizing the [email protected] community.
Similarly, national oppression has wreaked havoc on the New Afrikan community, as the New Afrikan is the face of inequality and injustice in the United $tates. New Afrikans, particularly the youth, are tired of the overt mistreatment. The BLM movement, while it arose in response to police brutality, embodies the anger and angst of the New Afrikan nation at the marginalization and repression they have suffered for years. Movements like these must be used to our advantage as they demonstrate that oppressed people are not just fed up with the system, they are willing to commit themselves to actually changing it.
One key implication that arises from this is the recourse for oppressed nations to overcome national oppression. Will U.$. oppressed nations vie for liberation or will they settle for reform, and by extension, assimilation and partial integration?
Mainstream media provide coverage on these events to control a group that might otherwise threaten the status quo. Therefore, they act as a supervisor rather than objective reporter all in an attempt to shape public opinion and undermine revolutionary organizing. This has serious consequences for the national liberation movement in the United $tates as a whole. This is why the BLM movement is critical, because we cannot allow the same outcome as took place at the end of the radical era of the 1960s.
The impact of national oppression on U.$. internal semi-colonies and oppressed nations has begun to push the national question forward. We are starting to see a realization emerge among oppressed nations that recognizes U.$. imperialist society is rife with inequalities and injustices. Only revolutionary nationalism can nurture and grow this seed of awareness. And if our goal is the liberation of oppressed nations within the United $tates then we must build their national consciousness in preparation. Movements like BLM illustrate the potential and activism that is alive within oppressed nations. The duty falls upon us to revolutionize it.
[This comment was submitted by a California death row prisoner to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in response to a "written public comment period" (closing 22 February 2016) on the topic of instituting death penalty by lethal injection in California. Any response to this letter will be posted here.]
No matter how it's accomplished legalized murder is still murder. Making it seem less cruel so it's not that unusual needs a lot of premeditation. And unfortunately the United $tates keeps drooling to kill people under the guise of "justice" around the globe.
The most sickening thing about the state governments still promoting legal murder within their borders is the warehousing of all those bodies awaiting the genocidal intention of their oppressor. These beast-like governments are scurrying to stack living bodies high in newly designed torture units based on the Pennsylvania model, which was ironically outlawed back in the 1890s then brought back in 1983 starting in Marion (in Illinois) and continues unchecked, merely shrouded in token reform despite the Convention Against Torture ratified by the United $tates in 1994 or the hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013. So who are the real psychopaths?
The general public's ability to research these facts is greater than a prisoner's, and of course this is by design as well. The oppressor is real, and just as it intentionally deprived its slaves from an education to keep them neutralized, submissive, unable to use the most powerful weapon to free themselves - their minds - because knowledge is power; it is still the mind our oppressor is aiming to destroy. Our bodies provide their sustenance. So it's no sign of relief simply because their methods of execution change.
Obama once went on TV saying Assad needs to be ousted for gassing to death his own people. He even talks down to the UN Assembly basically accusing it of having no balls and suggested threats, drones and missiles be launched at Syria as if that would promote mass peace in the region.
Several states, including California have a history of gassing to death their own people too. Some prosecutors rallied to bring back the gas chamber since suppliers of chemicals used by the state to "legally" murder its citizens are not wanting to sell them drugs meant for peaceful purposes — for extending and saving life rather than making a weapon of mass corruption to use against the minority nations.
If it's Obama's solution to oust the Assad regime/government than reason dictates that the Obama regime/government should be ousted for the same. What you are seeing is a chiseling away at human rights which is starting to expose the features of the beast within, not some random shape perceived in a passing cloud of one's overactive imagination. And the current government don't seem to have the balls to admit.
No doubt even throughout the global community many have heard of the infamous "3 Strikes Law." In California if someone gets 3 felony convictions they face a sentence of LIFE in prison. The law has created quite a bit of controversy and there's been a few token reforms to it that mean about as much as calling San Quentin (SQ) a "Correctional Center" instead of a prison.
SQ's Adjustment Center (AC) is also in the midst of controversy and in the process of implementing reactionary token reforms in much the same way. They also implemented what could be called "The 2 Strikes Law." The SQ oligarchy calls their oppressive tool of retaliation Operational Procedure (OP) 608 Section 825 A.4. Here's how it gets implemented:
On 25 December 2015 while en route to group yard Sergeant Rodrigues waved a piece of paper in a prisoner's face, after asking him if he remembered refusing to show his asshole to officer C. Burrise the other day. Rodrigues tells the prisoner he is going to the AC for receiving two serious Rules Violations Reports (RVRs) within 180 days of each other. A death row prisoner receives an indeterminate SHU term for that.
The two RVRs involve the prisoner's refusal to submit to unclothed body search procedures either prohibited by OP 608 Section 765(2) (local prison rules) and state law, or not applicable to East Block (EB) prisoners. In fact, before either of these RVRs were fabricated the prisoner had filed several staff complaints citing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and alleged "sexual harassment under the guise of security." The prisoner also wrote an informal letter to Specialized Housing Division Facility Captain J. Arnold asking him to abolish his "Perversion Enforcement Team Training Project" (PETT Project). That got the prisoner a punitive cell search response resulting in the confiscation of a loaner TV and theft of art supplies valued at $48. So now you know the motive. But let's see what else this means for ALL death row prisoners thinking Seigle & Yee are to the rescue.
Seigel & Yee are the attorneys currently representing the "AC class" regarding the long-term/indeterminate SHU program conditions experienced by death row prisoners in the AC. One prisoner who corresponded with Seigle & Yee attorney Emily Rose Johns in early 2014 from his recently acquired EB (SHUII) cell reports advising her a wave of prisoners formerly doing indeterminate SHU terms in the AC was flowing into EB and being assigned to the "Sun Deprivation Program."(1) This prisoner came over to EB just ahead of that wave. Johns's response to our dilemma was, "We intentionally kept the scope of the case narrow for many reasons, including out of respect for the experience prisoners in the AC had with the Thompson case."
So now it's about time that someone points out that experience prisoners in the AC had with the Thompson case, including not rescinding the 2 Strikes Law, and that OP 608 Sec. 825 A.4. is still being used as a revolving door into the abyss of indeterminate SHU terms. How leaving that door wide open could be hailed as a reform or "respect for the experience of prisoners in the AC had with the [SQ/Seigel & Yee] case" remains to be seen by a lot of prisoners literally LEFT IN THE DARK for years.
This unfolding experience brings to mind an article from a recent issue of Under Lock & Key.(2) It sets the record straight, explaining in detail the "reforms" hailed in the media regarding indeterminate SHU terms with respect to prisoners subject to the cruel and unusual conditions in the Pelican Bay gulag. Just as the so-called reform left the doors wide open to every other SHU in California's gulag system, merely limiting the time spent doing an indeterminate term at Pelican Bay to 2 years. It's nothing, NOTHING different than SQ's 2 Strikes Law being intentionally contested. Torture cannot be reformed. So the practice of long-term isolation must be ABOLISHED. The construction of more SHUs at SQ must stop because it is torture.
I am not a murderer
yet i am not free
I am not alone in this struggle
I'm not ever going to putt or give up
Like my blood kin have done
on themselves and me
I'm not racist, but I'm white
but I find no pride in the latter
or excuses in the former
I am not religious
Science has proven evolution
Therefore I'm atheist
What's your excuse?
I am not some scholar or martyr
Just a man skating on the edges of insanity
Because of my country
And its 'cruel world' hypocrisy
I'm the person lifting and dropping this pen
but these words aren't just mine
I am not alone in this emotion
going to accept this system
I'll fight it to my death (I swear!)
I am not you
I am not an Amerikkkan
And I will never ever be
[The motivation for the focus of this issue of Under Lock & Key was to better address the many interested readers who write us coming from a religious background. We also thought that our study pack on the topic could use some updating. And that is the planned outcome of putting this issue together. Therefore it was timely that we recently received an in-depth response to this study pack to spur discussion. One of the readings in the religion study pack is on the struggle of the Tibetan lamas who rose up against the oppressive rule of the Dalai Lama after socialism was established in China. This article begins with a response to that from Legion.]
In the excerpt from Chapter 10: Reform in a Major Monastery(1), I recognize the principal contradiction to be rebellion vs. religious thought (I define religions as a doctrine of ethics derived from "spookism"). When the lamas took the time to work out problem #13 (master their circumference/cipher, 360 degrees/120x3) they came to see the very nature of the Buddhist teachings and began active rebellion against the 10% ruling class. The elimination of classism liberated the poor righteous teachers from the bondage of captivity. When people use religion to secure position, all they do is promote imperialism/colonialism and economic oppression, which is very devastating to the humyn condition. With autonomy you have freedom to see the reality of your power. The feelings of the lamas is in line with the Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE) student enrollment #1, when you master your condition you become owner ruler sustainer, God of your universe.
The lamas also came to the reality that the only way they would find any peace or equality was to unify, arm themselves and defend their position in the face of the oppressor. And when the goal of peace was obtained they went about their lives, with the power of self-determination in the form of religious freedom.
The issue with the blind, deaf and dumb religious belief lies with the fact that traditions and institutional doctrine lead people towards the path of faith instead of scientific discovery. Dialectical materialism is based on history but whose history? The fact is that when technology is stolen and corrupted holes and cracks appear and when one discovers for self the answers become liberating in themselves. For example, ancient Egyptians perfected communism thousands of years before Marxism existed. Yet, through racism and colonialism the history was nearly erased from record books. But with the science beginning to catch up with the absolute truth we can begin to understand why the religious institutions gravitate towards oppression because with knowledge comes power and responsibility.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This analysis is a good example of how the Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE) evolved from indigenous New Afrikan liberation theology by rejecting religion and moving towards materialism. The rejection of faith in favor of scientific discovery puts the NGE ideology close to our own. However, as an amalgamation of ideas from different New Afrikan movements, we do find NGE literature to often refer to things that are not actually based in scientific discovery. An example is in the citing of Egypt as developing communism before Marxism existed. While primitive societies existed in communalist social structures, Egypt in the period mentioned had a highly developed society. And like all complex societies known to date, it had a hierarchical social structure. There is a tendency to rewrite history to paint the past of oppressed nations to be more noble. But this does a disservice to our understanding of how to actually build communism today.
Another feature of the existing religion study pack is a debate among a few members of the NGE, one of whom (Infidel) was in the process of leaving the organization for its promotion of imperialist views and idealism. One piece that particularly triggered Infidel to move away from the NGE was an article from The Five Percenter newspaper (2006) by the God Born King Allah on the relationship between those in prison and those on the outside. Below is a relevant excerpt from that article highlighted by Infidel.
"The fact that the father[sic] respected the American government is very important and he raised our Nation to do the same. The reality that the Father fought for this country in the Korean War showed that he was a true patriot... It showed that his love for the country of his birth outweighed any disappointment he may have had with the treatment his people suffered in the Jim Crow era that he came up in. ... Gods and Earths in the Armed services... are fighting to insure[sic] that people all over the planet can enjoy the Freedoms that their own Nation is still denied in America... the Father...must have seen how the religion of Islam and Muslims would become synonymous to terrorists posing a danger to America way back in 1964. His personal separation from religious Islam and Muslims as well the Nations[sic] separation from them as well in the past and present excludes us from being linked to any terrorist, Muslims or radical Islam, period."
Ey goes on to say the country of Afghanistan is responsible for 9/11. This same newspaper printed a statement calling on members to join the military in October 2001 because "we" were attacked.(2)
One NGE comrade in the study group counters that the article represented a few misguided members, taking a similar position to Legion below. However, we must note that the NGE is a mass organization and it does not have a defined political line. While not the focus of what Father Allah taught the Five Percenters, eir political views were in fact quite reactionary and pro-Amerikkkan in relation to international politics.(3) So as we work and build with the many Five Percenters who do take up an anti-imperialist stance, we think it would be a mistake to see the NGE as an organization made up of anti-imperialists at this time.
Legion responds to NGE debate: NGE have, according to the 8th degree of the 1-14, socialist political views. So, anyone claiming anything else should do the basic knowledge on anything before firing shots into a crowd. I have done the knowledge on United Struggle from Within (USW) principles and built with a few Gods along the way and point after point has a parallel with NGE science. Let's not forget NGE don't practice Islam as religion but as science; a science of everything in life. Religion tends to feed into the imperialistic trend of getting everything funneled to the top while everyone else works hard for nothing.
With regards to Infidel's commentary, I see no reason that one would be confused with comments made, unless it was made to agitate and stir up debate. NGE metaphysics is a philosophy that seeks to explain the nature of being (life) and reality (dialectical materialism). To call the allegorical nature of lessons sham science is false evidence appearing real based on, time after time "Western" science has proven that 1. the Blackman is God, and 2. that the nature of the oppressor is exactly how it's described in the lessons.
...If we take a look at the "Arab" movement vs. the NGE movement, you find mostly similarities. Let's be logical about it. Keep in mind, I make no apology for another man's statements. Just facts. NGE has been at the forefront of the Third World in America (prisons). MIM's focus is on prison. "Arabs" get labeled terrorists by the same people that lock up young Gods for borning knowledge. Plus, most overlook the fact that the father served before not after he came into the NOI.
...Infidel also states, "You claim to have 7.5 ounces of superior brain power (compared to the white man's 6 ounces. Please tell me you don't actually believe this, brother)..." Man is God, so God is Man, period. The 7 reps Man-God/God-Man, 5 reps Justice/Power. Therefore NGE does have manpower and the "white man" whom prior to 1492 did not exist (people were referred to as Irishman, Englishman, Dutchman, etc), created as an oppression tool this version of equality that only applied to the genocidal pilgrims who trekked across the Atlantic. The white man is only available on paper and as a mindstate. I know plenty of so-called Black men who are white as snow and vice versa. Black is dominant consciousness, white is weak consciousness.
...The focus would be very different if MIM(Prisons) and NGE knew each other in depth from inception. But, like many others before and to the present, most humyns get stuck on doctrine instead of looking at the bigger picture. Supreme Power Allah told me in civilization class people get so wrapped up in the designs of one tree, that they fail to recognize the forest. When you debate over small things, big things never become material. HC [the coordinator of the MIM-led study group] says, "such a persyn will not be able to be as effective fighting imperialism if they don't learn and apply the science of dialectical materialism." Once again I emphatically state, we focus on manifesting using metaphysics, or in layman's terms we make apparent to the senses reality and reality is the answer to the equation. Numbers and letters, formulas and theories are what? Science.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Legion is one of those comrades who have taken up anti-imperialism. By the time we heard from em, ey had already gained a good understanding of USW and the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). Not only that, but ey had put the UFPP into practice(4) applying the scientific method to the laboratory of the U.$. prison environment. This leads us to put more weight in eir words above, which we have a lot of unity with. In the last paragraph ey talks about finding common ground rather than dogmatically debating minutia to divide us. MIM(Prisons) hopes this issue of ULK in particular works at that common goal.
Legion uses metaphysics as a term analogous to science. Metaphysics can be used to mean different things, and we are not sure what its meaning is here for Legion. However, we typically use metaphysics to define a type of materialism that is antithetical to dialectical materialism. Where dialectics recognizes things as always changing, based on contradictions found within the thing, metaphysical materialism sees things as static, or even eternal. For example, a metaphysical position would be that humyns are greedy, while a dialectician might say that humyns in a certain time and place (ie. 20th century United $tates) have developed greedy tendencies on average.
Where we see metaphysical tendencies in the NGE lessons is in the meaning put into numbers and letters. As if the number 7 or 360 has eternal meaning and power and aren't just concepts created by the humyn brain.
Legion critiques Infidel for making literal readings of the NGE ideological foundations. We cannot speak to how they are more often interpreted. We like Legion's interpretation of them as metaphors that might fit in with Loco1's ideas on how religion is an important tool for the imprisoned lumpen.(5) However, we also know that things like the story of Yacub have been and continue to be interpreted as literal truths by many in different New Afrikan organizations. So we would not be so quick to dismiss Infidel's critique. The creeping of religious idealism into NGE ideology is also reflected in the following quote from Tupac Shakur when asked, 20 years ago, what religion ey follows:
"I talked to every god there was, in jail. I think that if you take one of the 'o's out of good, it's god, if you add a 'd' to evil it's the devil. I think some cool motherfuckers sat down a long time ago and said let's figure out a way that we can control motherfuckers, and that's what they came up with, is the Bible, woo woo. Because if God wrote the Bible, I'm sure there would have been a revised copy by now. You know what I mean? Because a lot of shit has changed.
"...I think heaven is just, when you sleep you sleep with a good conscience, you don't have nightmares. And hell is when you sleep, the last thing you see is all the fucked up things you did in your life. ...it's hell on earth because bullets burn. There's people that got burnt in fires... All that's here... Heaven is now, look, we sittin up here, big screen, this is heaven, for the moment. Know what I mean? Hell is jail, I seen that one. Trust me. This is what's real, and all that other shit is to control you.
"...I believe in God... It makes sense that if you good in your heart, then you're closer to God. But if you evil then you're close to the devil. That makes sense. I see that every day. All that other spooky shit don't make sense. And I don't even believe, I'm not dissin' it, but I don't even believe in the brothers, I was in jail with 'em and having conversations with brothers; 'I'm God, I'm God.' You God? open the gate for me. You know how far the sun is and how far the moon is, how the hell do I pop this fuckin' gate? And get me free up outta here. Then I'll be a Five Percenter for life! But, never seen it." (6)
Like Legion, Tupac calls for a materialist approach that works here in this world. His critiques of religion parallel those of the NGE in rejecting spookism but not the concept of God altogether. Yet, Pac also had criticism for the Five Percenters he encountered while in prison. Another way to put what he said is that combating idealism is more than just rejecting the God in the sky. Most of the idealist European philosophers that Lenin and Engels spent so much time critiquing did not believe in a God above.
Legion provides an interpretation of the 7.5 ounce brain that is not based in ideas of race or biology, but rather an analogy for the history of white nation oppression. This is an example of an interpretation that is friendly to our own. In fact, we'd point out that Irishmen existed as separate from the "Native" white nation in North America into the early 1900s. This interpretation of oppressors as evil, while rejecting racial categorizations, was put forth by Father Allah and even further back by other New Afrikan liberation theologists who strove to empower Black people, while rejecting a biological basis for race.(7)
Book Review: Marxism, Orientalism, Cosmopolitanism Gilbert Achcar Haymarket Books 2013
In part one of this review i addressed the author's apparent disdain for the anti-imperialist Islamic movement. In this concluding article i will expose the author's First World chauvinism as being at the root of his reactionary perspective by explaining how he uses the Christian liberation vs. Islamic fundamentalist concept in religion and politics today from a Marxian perspective, so as to better prepare the reader for his ideas on "internationalism" and "ultra-nationalism" by which he really means revolutionary nationalism. As such, it would seem that the entire premise of this book was not intended as a supplemental analysis of anti-imperialist politics in the Middle East today, but so that the author can push his crypto-Trotskyist agenda. Crypto-Trotskyism is a term used to refer to organizations that exhibit Trotskyist tendencies, but which don’t admit to being Trotskyist. Most significantly they suffer from the same great nation chauvinism as the other Trots: over-emphasizing the role of the oppressor nation working classes, and under-emphasizing the role of liberation struggles of the oppressed nations.(1)
The author begins the final essay of this book titled "Marxism and Cosmopolitanism" by tracing the very hystory of the word cosmopolitanism. He discusses how it went thru many twists and turns, from its beginning in ancient Greek civilization thru the Middle Ages and up until today; at one point progressive, while regressive at another. Hence, we learn that the terms cosmopolitan and globalization are connected in this regard. We also learn that Marx and Engels shared Achcar's disdain at one point or another for any and all national movements, in particular for those centered in the capitalist periphery, preferring, instead to champion the cause of the global proletariat, which in their lifetimes meant focusing on European workers. As a result, Marx and Engels contributed to popularizing the concept of cosmopolitanism as interchangeable with international proletariat, which to many communists of the time was preferable to mentioning by name the plight of English or German workers because of the obvious connotations to nationalism. Such connotations were seen by most as giving legitimacy to nationalist struggles, which at the time were driven by the national bourgeoisie.
Within this context nationalism was viewed as backward and reactionary for the proletariat, as the national bourgeoisie was using this concept to their advantage by inciting the proletariat to kill and be killed by workers of other countries, for the bourgeoisie’s goal of world domination. The communists on the other hand rejected nationalism, considering themselves staunch internationalists; champions of the world proletariat, whose hystoric mission it was to usher in the socialist stage of communist development. This being the accepted theory of the time, well before Mao posited that in the age of imperialism, nationalism of the oppressed nations is internationalism.
All this is important to remember when assessing the text as it pertains to the whole reason why Achcar even wrote this book. More so, it is important to remember because in the following pages the author uses much of this information to attack the practice and political line of Joseph Stalin. And while it is undeniable that Marx and Engels at one point agreed with many of the ideas that Achcar propagates, it is also undeniable that as reality progressed, so did Marx and Engels' thinking, which is more than we can say for Mr. Achcar. So if we want to learn the genuine Marxist stance on nations and nationalism then we should not limit ourselves to what the founders of scientific socialism had to say on these topics early on in their revolutionary careers. Rather, we should study and learn what they advocated and stood for later in their lives once they became full-fledged Marxists. As such, the line that Achcar is pushing is a disingenuous one in which he proclaims that all nationalism, just like all variants of revolutionary Islam, are inherently bad, when in reality it is the nationalism of the oppressor nations and the Western privilege that comes with it that he upholds. As such, Gilbert Achcar should just come out and say what he really thinks; which is that the nationalism of the oppressed is what he believes to be backward and reactionary, while oppressor nation nationalism is inherently progressive due to its linkage to Europeans, their culture and tradition. Thus, just as the author correctly pointed out in "Religion and Politics today from a Marxian Perspective," that Islamic fundamentalism is a concept that can be divided into one that is collaborationist with Western interests and one that is hostile to Western interests, so is nationalism a concept that can be divided into one that is bourgeois and reactionary, and one that is revolutionary and forward looking.
"Cosmopolitanism" as Anathema: the Stalinist Perversion
Trotskyists of various stripes have always hated on Stalin for a multiplicity of reasons, primarily however for his theory of socialist development. As Stalin's line on socialist development progressed it eventually came to stand for the national liberation struggles of the oppressed nations, not only within Europe but outside the continent as well. He correctly saw the revolutionary character of the anti-imperialist movement in the colonies as both hostile to Western interests and potentially pro-Soviet. Trotsky on the other hand had nothing but contempt for Asians, Africans and [email protected] Americans, believing them too backward and weak to ever launch successful liberation struggles and/or engage in socialist construction absent the immediate help of the European working classes, a theory that was proven incorrect when an onslaught of colonial countries broke free of the imperialist framework following the end of World War II. And so it is within the context of "globalization" and anti-imperialist struggles in the 21st century that Gilbert Achcar now attempts to rehabilitate Trotsky's theory of the world revolution led by the so-called proletariat of the advanced capitalist countries vis-a-vis the rehabilitation of cosmopolitanism; vis-a-vis his criticisms of Joseph Stalin. To accomplish this however, Achcar must go in depth into the hystory of the Soviet Union, in particular into the propaganda campaigns against cosmopolitanism which Stalin had initiated at the end of World War II, as well as to the campaigns in favor of Soviet patriotism which Stalin also had initiated to prepare the Soviet masses for the Nazi invasion.
According to Mr. Achcar these campaigns were nothing more than a cover for Stalin's anti-Semitism. Yet interestingly enough, in making these accusations the author inadvertently puts forth a plausible explanation for the oppression of notable Jews during this period in the Soviet Union; thereby paving the way for a materialist explanation of these actions and the clearing of Stalin's name as far as anti-Semitism goes.
Achcar like so many anti-communists before him cannot contain his contempt for the progress made under Stalin and so he jumps on the bourgeois bandwagon of blaming Stalin for the so-called Jewish pogroms that were said to have taken place beginning in 1949 alongside the further elaboration and popularization of Soviet patriotism as a concept over that of cosmopolitanism. In addition, the author also contends that these campaigns were one and the same as the so-called anti-Marxist movement which supposedly took place during this period. What these campaigns actually represented however were struggles in the realm of ideas between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries battling for the "hearts and minds" of the Soviet masses, and indeed the future of the revolution.
According to Achcar, the cosmopolitans appear to have been something like a Trotskyist sect operating inside the USSR, who were agitating around the need for openness with the West and glorifying the West. Now remember, this is 1949 and the Cold War is cracking, all of the Soviet Union's wartime imperialist allies have retrained their guns on the communists. And although the author certainly doesn't say it, the Communist Party under Stalin certainly believed that these "cosmopolitans" were in the service of Amerikan imperialism carrying out intelligence gathering activities and engaging in building public opinion for counter-revolution and coup d'etat, just like the types of activities that CIA sponsored groups carry out in Third World countries with anti-western governments. It would seem then these cosmopolitans and other so-called "Marxists" were actually involved in sabotaging socialism from within with actions which thoroughly alarmed the Soviet government. But according to Achcar these were the real "Marxists," the real "internationalists" because they followed the teachings of the young Marx; but when did Marx ever speak of colluding against a socialist state?
Furthermore, the author states that in analyzing Stalin's anti-Semitism we cannot afford to begin in the post-war period, but must start with the publication of Marxism and the National Question, which Achcar describes as "a superficial and dogmatic essay on this most complex of questions."(2) Stalin denies the existence of a Jewish nation within Europe's borders, based on the Jewish people's lack of a common territory. Apparently Gilbert Achcar disagrees with the Marxist definition of nations preferring instead Otto Bauer's The Question of Nationalities and Social Democracy, which clearly defines Jews as a nation based solely on their "common cultures" by which they should really just say religion. The author further claims that it is in this hystorical period that Stalin began his first anti-Marxist campaigns in which he sought to squelch all opposition and secure his position of power. Achcar goes on to argue that Stalin's ideas on internationalism reflected only a narrow and selfish outlook which took into account only the internationalism of the "pan-Tsarist" Russia organization of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party when, in Marxism and the National Question, he mentioned the principle that the party strove to "unite locally the workers of all nationalities of Russia into single, integral collective bodies, to unite their collective bodies into a single party."(3) In defending this principle Achcar states, "Stalin launched a fierce attack on nationalism, putting Great Russian chauvinism on equal footing with the nationalism that was expanding among oppressed nationalities in the USSR - in a definitely non-Leninist fashion."(2) However, this is an extreme misrepresentation of Stalin's line on Achcar's part. Stalin criticized the national chauvinism that was beginning to develop among some of the more reactionary sectors of the oppressed nations in the Tsarist empire and certainly not the nationalism of the oppressed themselves. Apparently, the author believes that national chauvinism should only be criticized when it originates with the oppressors and by people of the offending nation themselves and not by anyone else. In other words, only Russians can criticize Great Russian chauvinism and only the oppressed nations can criticize any chauvinism that originates within their own nations. This is certainly an ironic point that those who have actually read Marxism and the National Question will note. But Stalin was right to criticize the chauvinism of the oppressed nations in the old Russian empire, especially when that chauvinism has the potential to foment violence amongst the oppressed. Chauvinism is chauvinism no matter who propagates it.
Later on Mr. Achcar comes out with an ass-backwards refutation of Stalin's theory of socialism in one country first, attempting to tie it back to Stalin's "anti-Semitism" (Achcar's term for his denial of a Jewish nation) and Soviet patriotism. The line goes as follows: "Socialism in one country: this theoretical innovation central to Stalinism actually laid the groundwork for a Soviet patriotism, coupled with a sui generis internationalism that amounted in fact to the internationalism of Soviet patriotism. Communist members of 'bourgeois nations' had a duty to identify with the thriving 'fatherland of socialism.' Indeed, their Soviet patriotic duty could very well have taken as its motto 'our country, right or wrong!'"(4)
The following paragraphs is where accusations of Jewish repression and anti-Marxism by Stalin really gets interesting.
To give some real context to these accusations, which Achcar himself provides, I will say that prior to the beginning of the Second World War an expansive campaign was begun in the Soviet Union to create and solidify a hegemonic Soviet patriotism for the explicit purpose of strengthening the bonds and common interests of the Soviet Republics against the impending threat of fascism. Stalin was well aware that not only the German fascists, but the soon to be imperialist allies were all working hard to divide the Soviet people from within on the basis of old national grievances which were common under the Tsar. And, as stated earlier, there were counter-revolutionaries inside the USSR consciously working against the Soviet masses. These were the cosmopolitans who by and large were composed of "real Marxists." The struggle between the two opposing forces is recounted and explained by Achcar:
"The patriotic mutation was brought to completion after the Soviet Union entered the Second World War, engaging in what the Stalinist regime called the 'Great Patriotic War.' This went along with the rehabilitation of the Greek Orthodox Church and the resurrection of Slavophilism. "Soviet Patriotism" became a highly praised virtue in the Soviet Union and in the world communist movement while Stalin's brand of 'internationalism' reached its logical conclusion in the 1943 dissolution of the Comintern.
“Soviet patriotism mutated into full-fledged chauvinism after Moscow emerged victorious from the war, especially when the Soviet Union faced renewed ostracism with the start of the Cold War. It is against this historical background that the campaign against 'cosmopolitanism' unfolded."(5)
We agree with the decision to disband the Comintern, which was done because
"it became increasingly clear that, to the extent that the internal as well as the international situation of individual countries became more complicated, the solution of the problems of the labor movement of each individual country through the medium of some international centre would meet with insuperable obstacles."(6)
Leszek Kolakowski is then cited favorably by Achcar as giving the Trotskyist perspective of these events:
"In 1949 the Soviet press launched a campaign against 'cosmopolitanism', a vice that was not defined but evidently entailed being anti-patriotic and glorifying the West. As the campaign developed, it was intimated more and more clearly that a cosmopolitan was much the same thing as a Jew. When individuals were pilloried and had previously borne Jewish sounding names, these were generally mentioned. 'Soviet patriotism' was indistinguishable from Russian chauvinism and became an official mania. Propaganda declared incessantly that all important technical inventions and discoveries had been made by Russians, and to mention foreigners in this context was to be guilty of cosmopolitanism and kowtowing to the West."(5)
Achcar then describes how, according to Isaac Deutscher, Stalin ordered a crackdown on Jews in the Soviet Union following "massive demonstrations of sympathy by Russian Jews who in 1948-49 greeted Golda Meir the first ambassador to Moscow of the newborn state of Israel..."(7)
According to Deutscher the crackdown was in response not only to this unauthorized public display of support by Soviet citizens, but because Israel "stunned" Stalin by siding with the West in the cold war. Yet the author would have us believe that "unauthorized public displays of support" for a foreign head of state invited to Russia by Stalin would take precedence in this "crackdown" over that of the machinations of cosmopolitans and their collusion with a tool of Western imperialism, as is the sub-text that lies hidden beneath these events. Indeed, just a paragraph down from this Achcar says that Soviet authorities began to close down Jewish theaters, periodicals and publishing houses while purging personnel and arresting various Rabbis and other Jewish public figures soon thereafter. But aren't these institutions that which have been traditionally used by the imperialists to agitate for counter-revolution in anti-imperialist nations? If Jewish pogroms really took place, then why is it that only certain people and institutions were being repressed and not Jewish people as a whole? Clearly these were political moves with a basis in national security that were happening and not oppression based on nationality (or religious beliefs) as Achcar would have us believe. As a matter of fact, when we turn the page of this book we find a much more coherent and realistic assessment of these campaigns as detailed by F. Chernov in his article: "Bourgeois Cosmopolitanism and it's reactionary role" as published and featured in Bolshevik, the theoretical and political magazine of the central committee of the All Union Communist Party (Bolshevik). It begins by reporting that Soviet newspapers
"unmasked an unpatriotic group of theatre critics of rootless cosmopolitans, who came out against Soviet patriotism, against the great cultural achievements of the Russian people and other people in our country."
Chernov's article then states:
"Cosmopolitanism is the negation of patriotism, its opposite. It advocates absolute apathy towards the fate of the Motherland. Cosmopolitanism denies the existence of any moral or civil obligations of people to their nation and Motherland..."
"Present day bourgeois cosmopolitanism with its call for the repudiation of national sovereignty, with its notions of 'one-world government,' the creation of the 'United States of Europe,' etc. is an ideological 'basis' and 'consecration' of the assembling under the aegis of American imperialism of the union of imperialists in the name of the struggle against the toiling masses, against the Soviet Union and peoples democracies, against the irresistible growth over the entire world of the forces of socialism and democracy.
"The party unmasked the anti-patriotic, bourgeois-cosmopolitan essence of servility before the capitalist West. It revealed that this cringing before foreign countries inevitably leads to national treason and betrayal of the interests of the Soviet people and the socialist fatherland. The unmasking of unpatriotic groups of bourgeois cosmopolitans, the struggle against the ideology of bourgeois cosmopolitanism, is a striking expression of the concern of the Bolshevik Party about the education of the toiling masses of our country in the spirit of life-giving, Soviet patriotism."(8)
This portion of the essay and the book then end with the statements that: "With the start of 'de-Stalinization' in Kruschev's Soviet Union, the eyes of many communists were opened; more accurately, their mouths were opened, as it is difficult to believe that they had not been aware of the realities they denounced when the green light finally came from Moscow..."(9)
"With the end of the Stalinist campaign, 'cosmopolitanism' faded away as a major issue in communist circles, as well as in the public debate in general..."(10)
Of course it did, but only because the cosmopolitans and other revisionists were now in power and the Soviet Union was starting on the capitalist road. The final pages of this book then shift back to Trotskyist political line as Gilbert Achcar outlines how Marx, Engels and Lenin thought cosmopolitanism, i.e. proletarian internationalism charts the course towards communism, i.e. "socialist globalization" and how national liberation struggles in the Third World "can fit perfectly in the cosmopolitan struggle for global transformation as necessary moments of this struggle, as components of the global struggle..."(11)
But when the oppressed nations finally rise up in revolt against imperialism these national liberation struggles won't just be "necessary moments" or "mere components" of the global struggle: but instead will mark the beginning of a long stage of socialist transition and development in which the people of Africa, Asia and [email protected] America will band together in a Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations against the former oppressing and exploiting nations.
In summation, the author opens this book with the chauvinist First World belief that Western domination of the world brought progress to the hordes of uncivilized savages and barbarians thru the spread of Christianity. Apparently, revolution, progress and development are phenomena inherent only to white people and deliverable in the future only thru a multi-nation working class approach, led of course by the workers of the core capitalist countries.
This is why he views with such disgust the success that revolutionary Islam is having in repelling Western forces, because in those movements he sees the reactionary and backward Islamic fundamentalists doing what he says they cannot; engage and win against the imperialists. Likewise, this is why he cannot stand Stalin and must tear him down, because in his practice and political line he sees the backward national liberation and self-determination movements of the oppressed nations as they came to fruition all throughout the 20th century by using revolutionary nationalism to establish socialism in their countries and then vigorously defending it. While the only thing that Trotskyists could do was complain and criticize that the Soviet Union was moving contrary to what the young Marx and Engels had envisioned in their early years. Such is the hallmark of Trotskyism which holds that socialism is impossible in countries of the Third World before the imperialist countries have had revolutions. Such is the hallmark of Trotskyism which needs but to depart from the reality of material conditions and enter the jungle of idealism to carry out the lofty goals of the white worker elite.
Book Review: Marxism, Orientalism, Cosmopolitanism Gilbert Achcar Haymarket Books 2013
"Thus, as in all idealist interpretations of history, historical phenomena are fundamentally explained as cultural outcomes, as the results of the ideology upheld by their actors, in full disregard of the vast array of social, economic and political circumstances that led to the emergence and prevalence of this or that version of an ideology among particular social groups." (p. 77)
Not too long ago the author of this book appeared on the political news show Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. During this appearance Achcar made the statement that the people who are joining groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda in 2015 share the same socio-economic background and social alienation from the prevailing system as the people who joined the various Marxist-led movements in North Africa and the Middle East during that region's de-colonization process. The author went on to state that it was the oppressed classes' material existence under colonialism that pushed them towards the communist movement then, and that it is this new generation's similar oppression that has them taking up arms once again, and not some mistaken sense of cultural-religious doom at the hands of the Christian West, no matter what some within the revolutionary Islamist movement might subjectively think.(1) In other words, what we have been seeing happening today within the majority Muslim countries is not Muslim resistance to what some have erroneously labeled a "Holy War" or cultural imperialism as seen thru the rubric of globalization. Rather, what the author says we are seeing is nothing more than the continuation of the class struggle in its religious form. And while at first glance this might seem like a breath of fresh air within an atmosphere dominated by the imperialist media, upon closer inspection what the author puts forward in this book is in fact just a more detailed and eloquent version of Bob Avakian's proposition of the "theory of the two outmodeds"(2); a dogmatic and disingenuous, First Worldist, chauvinist re-phrasing of Engels' negation of the negation.(3)
This book is a collection of four essays which the author describes as a comparative Marxist assessment of the role of religion today, as well as of the continuing development of religious ideology within the class struggle. The author also attempts to provide the reader with a Marxist materialist assessment of Christian liberation theology and Islamic fundamentalism not only in regards to each other but with respect to bourgeois cosmopolitanism and "revolutionary internationalism." The focus of this review however will be on the first and last essays. Where the former offers an incisive look into the topics discussed above, the latter is an in depth and baseless attack of Stalin, in need of its own analysis which I will deal with in part 2 of this review. The following is part 1.
Religion and Politics Today from a Marxian Perspective
In this first essay Achcar introduces us to the general theme of the book: The chauvinist First World belief that Western domination of the world has brought not only progress to the Third World, but created a better overall society compared to what "Orientalism" had to offer. Orientalism is just old terminology used to describe everything east of Europe. It is also used to describe Middle Eastern and Asian societies prior to the rise of Western European colonialism, and liberation thereof. Lastly, the term and concept of Orientalism was also used to describe the re-emergence of Muslim dominance in politics and culture immediately preceding liberation in what we today call the Middle East.
Definitions aside, this book is very much inconsistent on a Marxian level as Achcar does a good job of advocating ideas long since refuted and proven incorrect by Marxist scientists, not only in the realm of theory, but in the social laboratory as well. Paradoxically however, this book has a strong dialectical thrust to it as the author uses dialectical analysis to both inform eir position and present eir thesis; yet ey fails to balance out this dialectical analysis with Marxist materialism, thus presenting us with subjective findings. Therefore, while the author takes a correct dialectical approach to the development of religion vis-a-vis the class struggle, Achcar simultaneously negates the reality of world politics in the "Orient" which of course leads em to the wrong conclusions.
This criticism of Achcar is also applicable to eir failure to locate and define the principal contradiction in the world once imperialism developed. Part and parcel to Achcar's biased position with respect to the progress of the West is eir comparison of Christian liberation theology to Islamic fundamentalism as a philosophy of praxis categorizing both as "combative ideologies arising out of the class struggle" but thru the dominant humyn ideology (religion). However, the author incorrectly posits that the former is inherently progressive due to its origins with the oppressed and poverty stricken followers of Jesus, while the latter is inherently backward and reactionary because of its early beginnings with the Arab merchant classes of proto-feudalism. By comparing these two religions Achcar tries to have us draw parallels between the "communistic tendencies" of early Christianity and the propertied character of early Islam, thereby attempting to produce a divergence in the reader's mind as to what is inherently progressive and what is not.
While an argument can be made to support the thesis of revolutionary Islam as the path forward for those Muslims oppressed by imperialism, less can be said of the social democratic turn that the proponents of Christian liberation theology have taken. Achcar attempts to frame the issue by hypothesizing that the world of today is the inevitable outcome of Christian liberation struggles in Medieval Europe which served as early models for bourgeois democracy through the equalization of power through armed struggle. To prove this the author finds it useful to point to various revolts and peasant struggles in the Middle Ages in which the class struggle began to take on religious overtones with the Protestant Reformation. Prior to this however, Achcar praises liberation theology as the embodiment of what ey refers to as the "elective affinity" in Christianity that can lead the world to communism. In other words, what Achcar is trying to say is that liberation theology is the positive aspect in Christianity which can also play the principal role in bridging together religion with the cause of communism. Furthermore, the author says that this elective affinity draws together the "legacy of original Christianity — a legacy that faded away, allowing Christianity to turn into the institutionalized ideology of social domination — and communistic utopianism."(p. 17)
When pointing out examples of more contemporary struggles the author states:
"It is this same elective affinity between original Christianity and communistic utopianism that explains why the worldwide wave of left-wing political radicalisation that started in the 1960s (not exactly religious times) could partly take on a Christian dimension - especially in Christian majority areas in 'peripheral' countries where the bulk of the people were poor and downtrodden..."(p. 23)
When speaking of Islam's "inherently" reactionary character today Achcar attributes it primarily to what ey describes as
"the tenacity of various survivals of pre-capitalist social formations in large areas of the regions concerned; the fact that Islam was from its inception very much a political and judicial system; the fact that Western colonial-capitalist powers did not want to upset the area's historical survivals and religious ideology, for they made use of them and were also keen on avoiding anything that would make it easier to stir up popular revolts against their domination; the fact that, nevertheless, the obvious contrast between the religion of the foreign colonial power and the locally prevailing religion made the latter a handy instrument for anti-colonial rebellion; the fact that the nationalist bourgeois and petit bourgeois rebellions against Western domination (and against the indigenous ruling classes upon which this domination relied) did not confront the religion of Islam, for the reason just given as well as out of sheer opportunism..."(p. 24)
The author then goes on to say that Islamic fundamentalism grew on the decomposing body of Arab nationalism, citing it as "a tremendously regressive historic turn"(p.25). In reality any ideology that is based on mysticism and idealism will never be enough to defeat imperialism once and for all whether that be Christian liberation theology or Islamic fundamentalism. That said, as materialists we must still make the assessment of what movement is currently doing the most to challenge imperialism today. Is it the Islamic fighters who are engaged in a series of anti-imperialist struggles? I am reminded of something the Maoist Internationalist Movement once said in an article on pan ideologies:
"The measure of any ethnic ideology is whether it focuses its fire on imperialism as the enemy. If the pan serves to fry imperialism then it is progressive. If the pan fries non-imperialist nations, then it is reactionary and should be thrown out."(4)
But things aren't always so clear cut as we might want them to be, which is probably why later in that same article MIM said:
"It is only the struggle against imperialism as defined by Lenin that can really bring global peace. Other wars can bring no net gains to the international proletariat, just more or less dead exploited people. The plunder of the imperialists is much greater than that conducted by any oppressed nation's neighbors."(4)
These statements are liberating because they free us from all the imperialist clap-trap about the evils of Islam. We are hence reminded that there is no evil above that of imperialism and so long as these movements keep their sights trained on the imperialists then they will remain "inherently" progressive.
On that same note, not everything in the book is bad, and we should at least give Achcar some credit for pointing out that even Islamic fundamentalism can be divided into separate entities, instead of simply painting all Islamic fighters with a single brush as most Western intellectuals tend to do:
"Thus two main brands of Islamic fundamentalism came to co-exist across the vast geographical spread of Muslim majority countries: one that is collaborationist with Western interests, and one that is hostile to Western interests. The stronghold of the former is the Saudi Kingdom, the most fundamental, obscurantist of all Islamic states. The stronghold of the anti-Western camp within Shi'ism is the Islamic Republic of Iran, while its present spearhead among the Sunnis is al-Qa'ida."(p. 25)
As student-practitioners of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism we would be wise to keep in mind that Marxist philosophy and methodology is based on the most radical rejections of philosophical idealism with emphasis on revolutionary practice. Therefore our criticisms of religion and religious ideology should remain within the scope of critiquing certain ideological props as used by the imperialists to justify and support capitalism-imperialism along with all of its oppressive structures which made up the world today, for the explicit purposes of changing the world today and certainly not to critique religious believers or religion per se. In addition, organizations like those coming out of Islamic fundamentalism should be viewed by revolutionaries as developing out of the principal contradiction filling the voids left by the Marxists and revolutionary nationalists when those movements were either smashed or capitulated. Rather than denigrating these combative ideologies the way that Achcar does, bemoaning the day that revolutionary Islam stepped in to fill Marxism's shoes, we should instead champion their victories against imperialism while simultaneously criticizing where they fail to represent the true interests of the Muslim people.
As Achcar correctly states, the hystory of Islam in combating Western interference in the Orient is but the natural dialectical progression of the anti-imperialist struggle absent a strong communist movement. However, it is Western nihilist politics in command which fails to appreciate the positive role that Islamic fundamentalism plays in the anti-imperialist fight. Much in the same way that Christian liberation theology did in countries like Nicaragua and El Salvador. While the author raises a lot of good points in this book ey still fails to arrive at the correct conclusions. Real internationalists will not hesitate to celebrate every blow struck against the imperialists when it comes from the oppressed, whereas First World chauvinists hiding under the cloak of communism will continuously cringe at the barbarity of the oppressed for fighting back the only way they can. Achcar admittedly criticizes Islam's inherently "reactionary" character while simultaneously putting forth the concept of "cosmopolitanism" under the guise of anti-Stalin vitriol and so-called "internationalism" reducing revolutionary nationalism as inherently reactionary much in the same way ey does Islam. These final topics will be dealt with at length upon the second half of this review.