I believe that having alliances with lines that are military minded is somewhat dangerous to the united front. First and foremost, I do believe in armed struggle, but building public opinion on imperialism and moving toward communism as the ultimate goal to end all oppression is key. Some lumpen orgs or nationalists might criticize MIM(Prisons) on their line. But truth be told we must study the history of the Cultural Revolution in China, which gives us the best way to move toward socialism, ending in communism. It also allows us to learn from the mistakes of the past.
Amerikkka targets lumpen orgs, and nationalist groups. So alliance with a militia group might jeopardize the united front. And once the imperialist policies place everyone in one basket who they feel are a threat, they will place them in prisons or worse eliminate them as what happened to many BPP members in the late 1960s. So, I must say comrades, that MIM(Prisons)'s approach with study groups and challenging all comrades to study history and dialectical materialism prepares us to use public opinion to change the minds of the lumpens and all those who are oppressed.
What good is guns if you don't know who the enemy truly is? By enemy I mean, just going up against amerikkka's army is not enough. The enemy is the system which must be changed. Guns with no vision or discipline is suicide to the united front. The best weapon in the struggle is unity, and armed struggle is also important. But each one teach one is the method to awakening the masses on how capitalism destroys lives.
Once the American people become self-reliant and help their fellow man and stop supporting this economic monster (capitalism-imperialism) then hopefully through public opinion and democratic centralism we can achieve the goal we all want which is communism.
As for snitches, there are different levels of snitching. But I will not allow a person in my circle who I know has the tendencies to crack under pressure. I mean those individuals who work for the prison administration, receiving goods in order to cause chaos. They would go so far as telling prison officials that you are sharing revolutionary material and having your books confiscated.
Even on the outside you have to be careful aligning with rats who will jeopardize the united front in order to demoralize and cause dissociation. But as long as those who represent the militant side of fighting oppression can agree that we must use strategy and wait for the right time to strike the imperialist monsters, I'm all for it. But if militants feel as though focoism is their aim, I'm all out. Educate the poor and oppressed first, to show them the real enemy. And there needs to be a change in habits and consciousness so that we will not allow materialistic ideology to control us.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good point about the risks of allying with those who are engaging in military actions now. We agree with em that focoism is not the right strategy. But the value of a united front is that we can disagree on this point of strategy in terms of the right time for armed struggle, but still unite in our fight against imperialism. We can work with these organizations while struggling with them over these points if such struggle seems fruitful. We do not need to have complete agreement on points of strategy in order to work together in a united front. We would also want to keep these groups at arms' length for the simple fact that advocating armed struggle now is a known tactic cops use to wreck a movement from within.
But beyond the question of uniting without complete theoretical agreement, this writer is arguing that it is too risky to unite with focoists because their premature military action could bring down the whole united front. This is certainly a risk we need to consider. Groups within the UF have the autonomy to act independently of the group, and so some may engage in actions that others disagree with. While we wouldn't automatically exclude focoists from a UF based on their political line, this comrade is correct to warn that we need to stay vigilant about actions that present a risk to our work and to our organization.
At the same time, resistors of all stripes, even those who aren't focoist, bring down repression from the state. Even anti-imperialist academics and people working in electoral politics are harassed, and murdered, by the state when their words are too effective. One could also argue that the frivolous security practices of other groups will jeopardize the UF. We have to find a balance between putting ourselves out there, and getting the work done.
We can't make up easy rules to answer to this contradiction. Instead everyone has to evaluate alliances based on the circumstances and current situation.
This is an open letter to all you advocates and activists who are at war with the prison system. The American Corrections Association (ACA) has done their two-stage, once in a decade, onsite prison review beginning in January 2017 ending in March 2017. They've posted memos to the effect of talking to prisoners and performing audits to better use monies towards treatment and rehabilitational programs. Well at California Correctional Institution (CCI) this is a joke, especially of the level 3 yard where there is no accountability on safety issues.
There are no cameras on yard nor in buildings that would hold Correctional Staff to a higher level of accountability on the lines of brutality waged against prisoners. This brutality is covered up too often by collusion between Correctional Officers in reporting of incidents which comes down to their words against prisoners' with no physical evidence to support because there are no surveillance cameras. This is a black site operation, period. There exists no accountability when it comes to enforcement practices. Correctional employees are given full discretion and are supported fully by a Gestapo Culture with no checks and balances from outside authorities. This is including the ACA, who only talked to 2% of the prison population, and those were selected by this administration, i.e. Correctional Staff.
There is no accountability on the running of programs, which means anything from dayroom, yard, school, vacations, or even jobs. At the same time there is no program and no movement, prisoners walk to medical lines, walk to chow, go to self help groups, etc. No matter what the weather is they are required to walk to and from just to lock themselves back into their living quarters, i.e. cells. The ACA didn't assist prisoners to get assignment cards for going to college classes onsite nor through mail even though they know these participants miss at least 9 hours a week from yard and dayroom, at the same time providing assignment cards to prisoners in GED courses. Though the institution is making money from these new college onsite classes of which I myself am in, earning 6 credits for 2 classes this semester and enrolled in both summer and winter courses. Yet, I am not able to go outside on the weekend to get fresh air so I now get outside rec and fresh air less than my brothers and sisters in the SHU. The American Correctional Association is there for a waste of tax payers' money.
Blame is put on the prisoners for most that continues to occur here to be absolutely honest, because most of them fail to study the rules, are rule breakers and have terrible conduct creating negative attention. Once more I must state in complete truth, that all levels of staff have treated me with respect, I haven't gotten any write up, never assaulted on any level by any level of Correctional Staff. Quite the opposite has happened to me. I've initiated my own services, I've signed up and am currently going to college, I had constructive conversations with all levels of Correctional Staff. At the same time I've read the Title 15 and re-read it several times complying with every law and rule. I've communicated with complete respect at all times with prisoners and prison staff of all levels and walks of life.
This is written for the purpose of exciting advocates to get involved with pro-social programs in person, to let them know that the ACA and many other organizations are rip-offs and monies would effect more positive change if and when it goes directly to the prison and prisoners who are willing to take advantage of all pro-social programming. That those who are doing the work to create better futures by learning in college or vocational skill learning should receive beneficial treatment and be allowed to go to yard on weekends and holidays even days that they are off. We need advocates to sound the bell for us ensuring that we are treated with favorable treatment, so that we are not being punished for attempting to get ahead.
A Socialist and Conscious Comrade
MIM(Prisons) responds: We've been watching the great progress of organizers at CCI with interest and excitement over the last year. But playing by the rules does not generally pan out so well for prisoners across the United $tates engaged in postive organizing along the lines of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). In one recent example, the United Kage Brothers have been denied the ability to form an official organization by the CDCR at Pelican Bay State Prison. And this is why the UFPP stresses INDEPENDENCE as one of the 5 principles. If local staff are supportive of your efforts that is great. And there is plenty reason for them to be supportive of a safer work environment. But we also must not build or organizing in a way that is dependent on the whims of the state, which has a general principle of opposing the organizing of the oppressed.
China's Urban Villagers: Changing Life in a Beijing Suburb
by Norman Chance
Thomson Custom Publishing, Second Edition 2002
"Thus it is not surprising that an important theme expressed by the suburban Chinese described in the concluding chapter of this book is resistance — not in direct opposition to socialism per se but against a government and party that in recent times chose to put its own interest ahead of those of the Chinese people. In the early years of the People's Republic, the Communist party was the major force leading the struggle for economic improvement, enhanced social equality, and greater political empowerment of its predominantly peasant population. But the protest movement of May and June 1989, supported by thousands of Chinese from all walks of life demonstrated to everyone that the party and government no longer had a mandate of leadership. What the future holds for China remains to be seen. But the lessons of the recent past, from which much can be learned, are there for all to see." - Norman Chance
China's Urban Villagers is a book about peasants on the edge of modernization. This book discusses in part how peasants made great strides in the construction of socialism, attained a life free from hunger, oppression and exploitation, and then lost it all. In particular this book chronicles the story of Half Moon Village, a small peasant village which used to be located on the outskirts of Beijing on land which prior to liberation was known as a "vast wasteland" but which following socialist revolution was transformed through the peoples collective strength into Red Flag commune, one of China's largest communes.
The author wrote the first edition of this book based on data originally gathered on his third trip to China in 1979. However, the author also references material collected from earlier trips to China in 1972 and 78. He was also assisted in collecting information for the first edition as well as the second edition to this book in 1984 and 1989 by his wife Nancy Chance and by Fred Engst, the son of Joan Hinton, sister of William Hinton. Within the preface to this book Norman Chance explains his decision to publish the second edition (of which this review covers) so as to put into perspective his previous experiences in China, both during and after the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) as well as his time in Red Flag in light of the repression at Tiananmen which followed capitalist restoration.
The preface to Urban Villagers began with the author discussing how he was initially impressed with the Chinese success upon his first visit to China during the GPCR commenting that: "Many people, including myself, were impressed with Mao Zedong's strategy of reducing economic inequalities through the immense collective effort of the people."
Yet he immediately follows up this statement by saying that in retrospect this prior assessment was incorrect due to the fact that he later came to believe that we was never really allowed to actually observe socialist China's failures in agriculture and industrialization, only its successes. This is an erroneous analysis which effectively amounts to a "Potemkin Village" thesis in which the author implied that everything that was good about China was false and everything that was bad about it was instantly authenticated. This is a contradictory stance on behalf of the author, not because he changed his position after leaving China, but because all throughout the book he finds it useful to compare and contrast what he saw and wrote about China in 1972 and 1976 with the changes he observed in 1979, all the while claiming to uphold the conditions of the Chinese people as being qualitatively better in 1972 and 76, while still stating that what he saw in those first two trips wasn't really real after all — either conditions were better in 1972 and 76 or they were not, you can't have it both ways. Indeed, even in Chapter 9, "A Decade of Change", added to this second edition using data from the years 1987-89, the author comes to the conclusion that social conditions had drastically changed in China since 1979. In particular he refers to "class polarization the breaking up of communal peasant land into individual holdings and the rising rate of inflation and exploitation."
Norman Chance was one of the first cultural anthropologists to be allowed into China between the years 1952-1972 as anthropology as a branch of the social sciences was discredited in the Peoples Republic following the socialist stage of the Chinese revolution (1). He was invited to visit China in 1972 as part of an educational delegation during the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution. Professor Chance was asked to give a lecture at the Beijing Institute of Minorities titled "Minority Life in America." No doubt the communist party invited this Western academic not only as part of a mutual exchange of ideas, but so as to expose the Chinese people to reactionary ideologies so that they may learn from them and be better prepared to combat them. Upon reflecting on his visit to China Mr. Chance commented on "how different were our perspectives on the relationship between minority and majority nationalities." (p XV)
It would have been helpful if the author would've spoken more on this last point so that we could've learned about the structural relationship between the majority Han nationality and minority nationalities in China. For example, the contradiction of nation (Amerikkkka vs the oppressed nations) is principal here in the United $tates. How did similar contradictions get resolved in the PRC? In particular how were these contradictions further elaborated and worked on during the GPCR?
"Apart from their other characteristics, the outstanding thing about China's 600 million people is that they are 'poor and blank'. This may seem a bad thing, but in reality it is a good thing. Poverty gives rise to the desire for change, the desire for action and the desire for revolution. On a blank sheet of paper free form any mark, the freshest and most beautiful characters can be written the freshest and most beautiful pictures can be painted." - Mao Zedong, Introducing A Cooperative, 1958
To understand how Red Flag commune and Half Moon Village came to be developed we must first understand China's need to raise the quality of life for its majority peasant population. As in any other society quality of life is first measured by the country's ability to meet it's citizen's basic needs, first among these needs being the government's ability to feed, clothe and house it's citizens. After providing a summary of China's national liberation and socialist revolution struggles the author dives right into some of the major social issues facing the People's Republic in the early 1950s' primarily how does a country of 600 million paupers who are stuck in medieval culture and a feudal economy pull themselves into the 20th century? Chance acknowledges the feat with which China was forced to contend at this critical juncture in its hystory as nearly insurmountable.
Indeed, if China had remained a colony or neo-colony of this or that imperialist empire as say a country like India was at the time and continues as today, then it would have proved insurmountable. As hystory has proven however the Chinese people, with the guidance of Chairman Mao and the Communist Party, were able to lift the mountains of feudalism and imperialism off their backs, and in doing so cleared the way for socialism and communist development to begin.
When learning about socialist experiments of the past it is always common to hear intellectuals and sophists alike speak of the contradiction of a supposed "humyn nature" that will always prevent us from building a society free of poverty, hunger, exploitation and war. And as most academics writing on the subject, Chance does not miss the opportunity of raising the specter of humyn nature. Where Chance departs from this common bourgeois narrative is when he frames the issue of greed and selfishness as originating in the culture prevalent at the time:
"Underlying these conflicts is a fundamental problem in the building of a socialist society — the issue of human nature. If greediness is at the heart of human nature, then the whole idea of socialism is nothing more than a utopia. If on the other hand, human nature involves a dialectical tension between self-interest and social interests, then self-interest can become secondary to the interests of the larger group. Anthropological studies of various societies demonstrate that pure greediness in human behavior is deviant indeed. Rather, individual motivation is strongly shaped by the social and cultural environment. If greed is encouraged and rewarded, it would be considered foolish not to act in a similar fashion. By contrast, if friends and associates strive to act in a helpful, cooperative manner, selfish actions on the part of an individual would likely lead that person to feel ashamed. Even within the competitive, individualistic orientation of Western society, one regularly finds selfless actions by individuals who are willing to risk their personal security for a given cause. Thus in discussing greed and selfishness, the question is not human nature but rather the dominant behavior expected in normal circumstances." (p7-8)
What's more the Chinese masses were able to transform their country from the "sick man of Asia" into a strong socialist power in the span of only twenty years. They were able to accomplish this not by force but by persuasion. Compare this to India which started ahead of China, had a higher life expectancy and had a higher per capita than China. It was also 75% peasant like China. Yet China surpassed India in all these areas within one generation — so much for the comparison between socialism and capitalism.(2)
"Our task is to build islands of socialism in a vast sea of individual farming. We are the ones who will have to show the way for the whole country."(3)
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was able to spearhead the collectivization of agriculture thru their successful mobilization of peasants first into mutual aid teams, then low level elementary agricultural cooperatives.(p4-5) These APC's were comprised of "20 or more households which pooled their labor, land and small tools for the common benefit."(p4) These cooperatives not only helped peasants survive, but begin to spurn on the economy in the countryside. With time and success the APC's began to grow as peasants eagerly joined. According to Chance the only people who hesitated or refused were the "well to do" peasants who saw an end to their standard of living come with the rise of the APCs. At first the government let these rich and middle peasants abstain from joining until of course their abstinence became a hindrance to social development. It was at this time that the communist party under the leadership of Chairman Mao "opted for a acceleration of rural collectivization — a Socialist upsurge in the countryside — in which mutual aid teams and low-level co-operatives were to be combined into larger, more advanced units."(p6) These APCs were but preludes to the Great Leap Forward 1958-1960. The Great Leap Forward was China's attempt to catch up with the West by building up China's ability to produce grain and steel. Experimentation in farming, animal husbandry and other associated activity were in fact the earliest models in innovation from which experience and rationale knowledge were garnered for and summed up for further practice and experimentation in the city environment. Once the Great Leap forward began the APCs quickly ran their course and became outmoded. The APCs then gave way to the commune movement in the countryside in which the most advanced APCs were consolidated into 42,000 communes.(p8)
In it's early developmental stages one of the fundamental political lines in the Chinese countryside was to "rely on the poor peasants, unite with the middle peasants, isolate the rich peasants and overthrow the landlords and wipe out feudalism."(p39) Having put this political line into practice the land was re-distributed "according to the number of persons in the family and the quality of the soil."(p39) Landlords were treated thusly: their house, animals and tools were divided among everyone. As for the rich peasants the policy was to let them keep whatever they were able to work themselves. Because most peasants were not used to having so much land and were accustomed to only working on small individual plots much land and crops went to waste. After having had time to accumulate and process experience and practice from this the peasants of Half Moon were well on their way to conquering this new social environment. Half Moon as so many other villages within Red Flag became responsible for growing rice, wheat, corn and a variety of vegetables, as well as raising chickens and pigs.(p29-30) On the question of forced collectivization, two old peasants known to have lived in the area of Red Flag prior to redistribution had "nothing to say." The author insinuates the peasants were afraid to speak out against land distribution and collectivization for fear of reprisals from the government. However, this insinuation is unfounded due to the fact that (1) the peasants interviewed clearly voiced their support for Red Flag commune and the CCP remembering the "bitter years" before revolution, and (2) this interview was conducted in 1979 at a time that collectivization and other socialist policies originally began under Mao were being dismantled throughout China in favor of for-profit enterprise.
Education in the Peoples Republic
Education in the area of Half Moon Village lept from "fairly small" between the decade of the 1950s to the early 1970s when it then spiked to over 90 percent by 1979.(p91) These are surprising numbers for a Third World country, yet it is only another impressive indicator that only a country under socialist construction is truly serving the people. In visiting some of Half Moon's primary schools Professor Chance found that even in 1979, three years after the capitalist roaders rise to power, certain socialist values were still being upheld in China's education system even as others were being negated. One example of this could be seen in how peasant children were imbued with a sense of proletarian morality by being taken out of school and into the fields on a daily basis so that they could watch their parents and neighbors work. Children would also be put to work alongside the village engaging in light duty. The children's work consisted of "husking small ears of corn left behind by their parents... Such activities not only instilled in the student the value of hard work, but also emphasized the importance of being thrifty with what one produced."(p93)
In another example, the author describes how individualism was still being struggled against at the basic level of education:
"Students continually learned proper behavior from teachers, parents, textbooks, radio, newspapers and television. In all these instances they were encouraged to help each other, care for each other and take each other's happiness as their own. In contrast activities that caused embarrassment or remarks that emphasized a negative attribute were discouraged. Envision for example, a Chinese child's participation in a game like musical chairs. In an American school such a game encourages children to be competitive and to look out for themselves. But to young Chinese, the negative aspect was much more noticeable. That is, losers become objects of attention because they had lost their place — and therefore 'face.' In China, winning was fun too. But it should not be achieved at the expense of causing someone embarrassment. In all kinds of daily activity, including study as well as games, Chinese children were regularly reminded that they must work hard and be sensitive to the needs of others for only through such effort would their own lives become truly meaningful..."(p94)
Even groups like China's Young Pioneers, a group similar to the Boy Scouts, taught their members to engage in pro-social activities such as cleaning streets, assisting the elderly and aiding teachers as opposed to the leisure activities which the Boy Scout movement largely concerns itself within the United $tates.
Of course, not everyone in Half Moon was of the same mind politically. One school administrator spoke ill of education in China during the Great Proletarian Revolution (GPCR):
"Education is improving now... Before (meaning during the decade of the Cultural Revolution) the children had no discipline. They didn't behave properly and couldn't learn anything. Now that is all changed. We have ten rules and regulations for behavior, and they have settled down. Now they are learning very well."(p97)
As previously stated, it is logical that this school administrator would consider educational policies a disaster during the GPCR quite simply because his own power and prestige were challenged and negated by revolutionary students. In addition the author also states:
"Both primary and secondary education had expanded significantly throughout the commune by the early 1970s. Much of this activity, closely linked to the educational policies of the Cultural Revolution, emphasized the importance of utilizing local initiative. And indeed many villages had established new primary (and junior middle) schools by using local people and urban-trained "educated youth" to staff them. Wages for these new teachers were largely paid by the villagers themselves, though brigade-based work points. To obtain additional teachers for the new facilities, villages had reduced the earlier system of six-year primary schools to five years — justification for the step being summed up in the slogan "less but better."
"This dramatic educational effort put forward during the Cultural Revolution brought the benefits of expanded primary and secondary education to many commune youth — a real achievement, given the large increase in population between 1950 and the 1970s. Yet it did so at the expense of improving educational quality. The local primary school director was obviously identifying with the quality side of this equation."(p98)
Indeed, no period in the hystory of revolutionary China is more despised or has been more besmirched by the enemy classes as that of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. During the GPCR the bourgeoisie witnessed how the masses armed with Maoist philosophy opened up a new offensive against traitorous, revisionist and bureaucratic elements within the CCP itself, and attempts at the restoration of capitalism. This new offensive took the form of criticisms of bourgeois morals, values and ideals. Though seemingly innocent from a first worldist perspective such as our own, if left unchallenged within socialist society these morals, values and ideals become like a virus or disease in the body of socialism. When left untreated they will fester and wreak havoc on their socialist host, interrupting normal function with the very real potential to cause death.
Beginning in 1966 all established facets of life were forced to justify their existence within the new society or risk being relegated to the museum of antiquities. No more would an experts in command line be tolerated, in Chinese society whether in enterprise or education. No more would patriarchal rule be considered the natural order of things. Confucianism outside the temple of worship would be forced to contend with scientific method — all reactionary cultural products would be grappled with, criticized and torn asunder. In their place proletarian morality would be erected both as a guide and bulwark to the cause of socialism and the masses.
Later, on pg99 Norman Chance talks about how middle school students began to drop out and how most cases were related in one way or another to economic problems in the countryside. Chance explains that although "80% of all primary school graduates in the commune began middle school less than 30% finished. Of those who did, almost none entered higher education." Both the "failing" grades and new economic downturn can probably be linked to the restoration of capitalism.
Portrait of An Educated Youth
In socialist China education went beyond the enclosure of the classroom, as society as a whole was treated as a laboratory where people could discuss, debate, experiment and learn from others, not just experts in command. An excellent example of this could be seen in the "sent down educated youth" program which started in the mid 1950s but increased from the early 1960s to 1966 and then "dramatically from 1968-1976 before finally being concluded in late 1979" (p101). During the Cultural Revolution in times of intense political struggle in the country school was suspended so that students could struggle over the issues of the day and have a say in which direction China would go. This is more than can be said of the Amerikan public school system where rote memorization is popularized and children are expected to parrot what they heard and read and punished for leaving school to challenge government policies.
In this section we are introduced to Zhang Yanzi, a young tractor driver in Red Flag who chose to speak to Chance about her experience in the "Going to the Countryside and Settling Down with the Peasants" campaign. Zhang Yanzi recounted how after graduating from middle school she volunteered to go live with the peasants working first at a state farm as an agricultural worker then as a primary school teacher. She was only 16 years old when she took up a teaching position. She admitted to having her reservations about teaching because her parents were school teachers in Beijing and had been criticized by the masses during the Cultural Revolution.(p103) After requesting to be transferred from her teaching position, she ended up working with livestock and later attained a position as a cook.(p103) Zhang finally became a tractor driver in 1976 and was transferred to Red Flag in 1977.(p103)
She spoke about how initially there was great unity between the peasants and the sent down educated youth. This unity however soon began to dissolve after what Zhang describes as "political factionalism" began to develop amongst the older cadre in the commune. Another problem Zhang brought up was that there wasn't enough concern given to the educated youths' political development.(p104) It seems that much of what Zhang speaks about was happening in post-Mao China (1977) and it's somewhat hard to decipher what experiences happened when. For instance, on page 104 she speaks about how enthused at first she was about choosing to go work and live with the peasants in 1966. She speaks about how it was all done on a volunteer basis:
"In the beginning, no pressure was put on anyone to go. It was all on a volunteer basis. Each individual had to pass the 'Three OKs.' One was from the actual student, one from the family, and one from the school. If there was any disagreement, then the person wouldn't go. Even if you hesitated just before climbing on the train you could stay. But we didn't do that. We were all very enthusiastic."(p103-104)
In the next two paragraphs however Zhang speaks about how "later the policy was changed" and that families with more than "three educated children had to send two of them to the countryside" and if they didn't then the parents would be forced to attend study groups and if the parents still didn't agree then the "neighborhood committees would come out to the street and beat big gongs, hang up 'big character posters,' and use other propaganda to persuade you to let your children go."
Because the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was exactly that, a revolution in culture, it meant that the masses for the first time anywhere in hystory were given free reign to not only grapple and struggle with ideas but to engage in open debate publicly and at the grassroots level without government interference. This is the true meaning of democracy — and so long as violence wasn't used the masses were left to reach their own conclusions and express themselves freely. It is as Lin Bao correctly stated. "...the mass revolutionary movement is naturally correct; for among the masses, right and left wing deviationist groups may exist, but the main current of the mass movement always corresponds to the development of that society involved and is always correct."(note 4)
Critics of the Cultural Revolution, in particular, intellectuals like to portray the GPCR as some kind of punishment for the petty-bourgeois classes in which they were made to endure mental and physical torture at the hands of the Communist Party and hateful peasants. But Zhang who originally lived in Beijing and whose parents were both teachers, paints a much different picture. Admittedly enough, Zhang has her own disagreements with various CCP policies during and after the Cultural Revolution but commune living was not one of them:
"We all ate together in the public dining halls, with some of the older workers. Even though conditions were bad (speaking of the living conditions of the peasants and the weather) they took pretty good care of us, giving us easier jobs and better housing."(p104)
In that same paragraph Zhang also says that in fact it was the sent down youth who, after a while, began to talk down to and abuse the peasants calling them "country bumpkins," "dirty" and "uncultured." She also says that in "units where there were few educated youth, the work was done better, but where they were the majority, the problems became severe."
The most severe problem to occur at Red Flag during the time Zhang reflects on is an instance in which a corrupt high ranking cadre was discovered to be molesting young girls. This official was said to be virtually untouchable within Red Flag, until the People's Liberation Army caught wind of these abuses, entered the commune, began an investigation, arrested the official and subsequently executed him. Afterward the situation got better. (p104-105)
All in all, Zhang's biggest criticism of the GPCR is that there could've been more mechanization in Red Flag and that because of the lack thereof much of the commune's potential in agriculture went to waste. She thought that the sent down educated youth program was sound because it "enabled them (urban youth) to learn more about the good qualities of the peasants and also some production skills."(p105) Zhang also addresses the bureaucracy. This will however be addressed in the upcoming sections.
In this portion of the book the author focuses on how collectivization and land reform affected the family structure and the patriarchy in Half Moon Village. From control over the fields, tools and animals to wimmin's empowerment both in the home and the local and central government.
According to the author the focus of this attack in Red Flag was on "Feudal backward patriarchal thinking."(p130) Although the GPCR was the most progressive social event in world hystory we should not be mistaken to think that the Cultural Revolution simply went on unimpeded.
From a mother-in-law's perceived rule in the family to the bureaucratic apparatus there were a variety of social forces opposed to true revolutionary change, even in Red Flag.
The Changing Status of Women
Before the start of the GPCR wimmin's existence in rural China was largely devoted to serving the male's side of the family according to what was known as the "three obediences and four virtues." These required a woman to first follow the lead of her father, then her husbands, and on her husband's death, her son, and to be "virtuous in morality, proper speech, modesty and diligent work."(p134)
One peasant womyn recounts her experience to the author explaining how prior to the revolution she was given away as a child bride, beaten, starved and made to engage in forced labor at the hands of her husband and her husband's family. After 1949 however the Communist Party began the arduous task of doing away with the old system thru the enactment of wimmin's rights in a country where wimmin were by and large still considered property according to the old kinship system. Beginning with the Marriage Law of 1950, which required free choice in marriage by both partners, guaranteed monogamy, and establishing the right of women to work, and obtain a divorce without necessarily losing their children. This law when combined with the Land Reform Movement Act, which gave women the right to own land in their own name, did much to challenge the most repressive features of the old family system.(p137)
Social relations in Red Flag during the 1950s, 60s and 70s reveal a complex effort by the CP to simultaneously transform China economically and liberate wimmin. Because capitalism developed under congealed patriarchal social conditions, and ideology arises out of the superstructure, this means that even in a socialist society the ideology of the oppressor does not dissipate overnight. Rather, a cultural revolution must be set into effect so that the masses and society as a whole can learn to struggle against backward, reactionary and oppressive thinking. Therefore it should not be surprising to find out that when wimmin first attempted to assert their rights in the new society there were some who did not approve and attempted to put wimmin "back in their place." To some, especially idealists, this will seem difficult to understand, but revolution is never easy and at root requires scientifically guided struggle at all levels of society. And so to many Western academics and so-called "observers" it would've seemed that wimmin's rights were being subsumed into the wider socialist (and male dominated) framework. But before we get too discouraged with China's inability to meet our idealistic standards, we should remember that revolutionary struggle always requires determining and working to resolve the principal contradiction, to which all other contradictions become temporarily relegated. This is different than subsuming which requires the glossing over of contradictions or cooptation. It would therefore seem that this is also how the Communist Party saw it. Therefore they could enact land reform, marriage laws and divorce laws which recognized wimmin's democratic rights, but they also had to be aware of the fact that land reform, agriculture and industry were of the highest priority during this period. If China was unable to develop its productive forces in conjunction with changing social relations then all would be lost. Yes land reform was enacted, and yes wimmin were finally given democratic and bourgeois liberal rights which in semi-feudalist society were revolutionary. But socialist revolution proceeds in stages and it is ultra-left to believe that the patriarchy would not put up a fight and that some concessions would not have to temporarily be made. Ultimately this is why cultural revolution is necessary, to criticize and build public opinion against the old ruling class in preparation for the following stage of revolution.
Even with such reactionary ideas still being propagated wimmin's conditions were elevated exponentially. Testament to this being the fact that in 1978, 3,037 young wimmin students were enrolled in junior middle school in Red Flag compared to 3,202 males, while 1,035 wimmin were enrolled in senior middle school compared to 859 males in Red Flag.(p101) "In 1977, there had been six women members, out of a village total of fifteen members, of whom one had been the party secretary."(p44) In addition, let us not forget Jiang Qing, great revolutionary leader who helped spark the GPCR, one of the most influential and powerful people in China; neither should we forget the countless other revolutionary wimmin of China who without their participation in revolutionary struggle China's liberation would not have been possible. With the restoration of capitalism however, most of the progress made in the arena of wimmin's rights were reversed or negated with the exception of some democratic rights which mostly the petty-bourgeoisie and the bourgeois classes who reside in the urban centers are still privy to. China's countryside however has seen a resurgence in female slavery since the restoration of capitalism.(5)
Among other reversals in socialism which the author documents is a perversion of China's barefoot doctor's program which the social fascists used to depopulate the masses. Here the author speaks about how barefoot doctors and wimmin's federations "introduced system of material incentives to reduce births, pregnant Half Moon peasant women at that time could receive five yuan in cash and have several days off from work if they agreed to abort their unborn child. Counseling women on such matters was the responsibility of the local women's federation. Technical medical questions were handled by barefoot doctors in consultation with the federation."(p142)
"Becoming Rich is Fine" and A Decade of Change
These are the concluding chapters in China's Urban Villagers and they are very interesting as well as disappointing in the fact that they really document China's about face in building socialism. Perhaps they can be both summed up in Xiao Cai's (a young wimmin in charge of foreign affairs at Red Flag) statement to professor Chance: "you know, it's all right to become rich... I mean that individuals and families can work hard for their own benefit. If they make money at it, that's fine. They won't be criticized any more for being selfish."(p151)
Emphasis on getting rich came thru the "Four Modernizations" campaign which emphasized developing the productive forces while negating production relations in the economy and social relations in society. In popularizing this campaign the revisionists stated that "collective effort must be linked to individual initiative" and that the GPCR "was an appalling disaster."(p152) These criticisms expressed the class outlook of the bourgeoisie in the party and their attempts to convince the broad masses that "the political extremism of the Cultural Revolution" offered a "simplistic notion of capitalism" and "unfairly labeled people as capitalist roaders."(p152) The outcome being "a large decrease in individual and household sideline activities, to the detriment of China's overall economic development."(p152)
In reality however, nothing could be further from the truth. While the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution were not without their mistakes, both the GLF and GPCR marked profound shifts in both the development of socialism as well as the overall development of the humyn social relations not seen since the development of classes themselves. Furthermore, the GLF and GPCR offered the masses insight into the unraveling of contradictions on a hystoric level. Thru participation in the Great Leap the masses learned what it was to engage in industrial production as well as how to innovate traditional farming techniques by utilizing collective effort in combination with proletarian thinking (see note 3). By their participation in the GPCR the revolutionary masses learned what it was to both gain unprecedented insight into the advance towards communism and the unraveling of contradictions prevalent in socialist society. Thru this experimentation the masses contributed not only to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as the science of revolution, but to the development of rational knowledge as well.
Other reversals in socialism in Red Flag were made apparent when officials in Beijing issued an order to China's commune to "de-collectivize" the land and privatize most plots. Opposition to this privatization was fairly strong in Red Flag even though its residents weren't as politically educated as others, they still clung to the memory of the hardships common in the countryside before the revolution. In particular they were well aware that it was only thru collective strength and revolutionary leadership that they were able to overcome such difficulties. Thus, they began to openly fear class polarization as they rightly began to recognize that some peoples "rice bowls" had gotten bigger than others. Especially when it came to party officials.
As time went on, many in Red Flag began to get a new understanding of what Mao spoke about before his death concerning the revisionists and the return to capitalism.
By the mid-1980s exploitation in China had returned full-force and no-one could deny or claim ignorance to what was happening except for perhaps the bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie. As a part of the so-called "responsibility system" initiated under the traitor Deng Xiaoping "separate households and even individuals, could contract with production teams and brigades to produce their grain, vegetables, and other agricultural goods on specific plots of brigade land divided up for that purpose."(p161) The inevitable result of all this was that migrant peasant workers began to be sought out to work Half Moon's individually owned plots. The result? Deplorable oppressive conditions for hundreds of thousands of peasants from poorer regions of China who began arriving in Beijing's agricultural suburbs:
"It looks like a prison labor camp to me" commented one visitor on seeing Half Moon's migrant worker dormitories "After spending all day in the fields these poor peasants return to their dorms in the evening only to be doled out a bare minimum of food — lots of grains but not many vegetables. Once the harvest is over, they are paid a small wage by the manager and then head back to Henan, Hebei, or whatever province they came from. It's highly exploitative."(p166)
Due to a return to capitalism by 1985, China was again forced to import grain, something unheard of since the natural catastrophes that occurred towards the end of the Great Leap Forward. During this time corrupt party officials' greed reached new heights as they enriched themselves at the expense of the masses thru their manipulation of the national economy and exploitation of workers and peasants thru their access and control of the means of production. Some of the frustration of the people was captured in an interview of a party member by professor Chance in 1988. Although the quote is much too lengthy to feature here the party member was very critical of the capitalist roaders. This is part of what he had to say:
"Some people feel the nature of the party and the state has changed. The change first appeared in the late 1960s and 1970s when the power and authority, rather than representing the interests of the people came to represent those in power. This process took some time to unfold. But now it is quite clear what Mao meant when he warned us about the danger of capitalist roaders.... You don't know how hard it was for us to figure out what was going on. Mao tried time and time again to weed out the capitalist roaders, but still he failed. Now people don't know what to do.... Since Mao came along many years ago and saved China from the mess it was in, someone else will come along someday and save us from the mess we are in today..."(p173)
In fact, contrary to what this "Communist" Party member has to say, many of the problems with the bourgeoisie in the party first surfaced during the Great Leap forward 1958-1961 and were illuminated for us by Mao and his followers prior to the Cultural Revolution. In fact, during the Great Leap Forward political struggles and factionalism were already taking place in China's factories and industrial centers between those wishing to keep expert-in-command and those wanting the masses to take the lead in production. Furthermore, this party member is in error when he places Mao as a great individual whose responsibility it was to save China. Yes Mao was a great revolutionary leader, but he would've been the first to point out that the masses were responsible for controlling their own destiny. Afterall this is why the GPCR was initiated.
The student movement at Tiananmen Square is also addressed in which the author chronicles the events leading up to the political repression and massacre of the students. The demands of the protesters ranged from a return to socialism to freedom of the press and a desire to turn to Western style capitalism and democracy. The revisionist CCP, fearing an uprising by the masses, ordered the People's Liberation Army to fire on the protesters. On 3 June 1989, 8,000 troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers entered the outskirts of Tienanmen and began firing on protesters and city residents alike. Discussion in Half Moon over the protests and political repression and Tiananmen brought mixed reviews.
"Based on their past knowledge and experience, most villagers found it inconceivable that the PLA would fire on the protesters. Even during the height of the Cultural Revolution, the army had gone unarmed into the colleges and universities, where the worst fighting had occurred. But when several factory workers reported that the army had fired on crowds at street corners, the tenor of the conversation began to change."(p182)
Close enough to Beijing to have participated in the rebellion (and indeed some Red Flag students and other villagers did participate), Half Moon residents were brought under investigation by authorities. Most were eventually cleared.
In short, contradictions in China since the return of capitalism have once again created the conditions for a new revolutionary upsurge. With China's economic emulation of the so-called "economic miracles" of the South-East: Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong (also knowns as the "Four Tigers" or the "Four Dragons") contradictions in China have once again created the conditions for a new revolutionary upsurge. In relation to this point the author ends this book with the following:
"Implicit in this proposal is the assumption that by emphasizing privatization and a market driven economy, China too can achieve a similar prosperity. However, those four nations that were able to break out of Third World poverty were small, were on the Asian periphery, and were the beneficiaries of two large Asian wars financed by America. There is little reason to assume that a market-driven economic system will enable China to repeat the process. Much more probable is a return to a neo-colonial status with small islands of prosperity and corruption on the coasts and with stagnation in the hinterland — a sure formula for future revolutionary upheavals."(p187)
This will be my full account of my evolvement with the organizing of peace between all prisoners, be they independent citizens of this yard or members of lumpen groups or organizations. Many prisoners have been involved in the processes that will be disclosed, to ensure their safety their names won't be mentioned in this report. All circumstances are well known by the prisoner population on this yard (C yard @ Tehachapi) and can therefore be verified easily by asking and requesting anyone who receives ULK on this yard. Before starting I want to give shouts out to United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP), because I hold your principles and am inspired by your scientific methods. As a 5%er I give all due respects to the teachings of the Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE) for my Free dome and clear sight which allows me to live in a non-fictional reality, being awakened to the True Self which is righteousness without fear. Also I would like to thank ULK and MIM(Prisons) for providing revolutionary education for free, which has taught me how to lead and helped me realize that I am a socialist with a revolutionary conscience. Thank all the prisoners here at California Correctional Institution (CCI) who's assisted me [nicknames omitted], Tha Numbers, Tha Old Black Vanguard and a huge part of the New Afrikans and [email protected]
I arrived here at CCI in mid-2016. Upon my arrival I introduced myself as a member of the NGE. I met several New Afrikans that were very negative about the program here, C.O. culture, prisoner treatment and a myriad of other complexities dealing with conflicts among prisoners. The first persyn I came to know from a non-fictional reality is a member of one of the largest street organizations in North America. Our first conversations would become the foundation and conduit for many actions that followed. His assessment of the yard has proven to be invaluable, though bleak when he spoke of the mental deadness of our people; meaning the Black prison population on the yard. Blind, deaf and dumb with no concept of organization or unity. This comrade is indispensable to the prosperity, growth, and development of this yard's prisoner on just about every level. His advice is most valuable now as ever.
To begin to address these conditions, I initiated the weekly services for everyone on the yard who wants to attend as a place of unity, education and true identity resurrection. From proposal to acceptance it took one month, then from acceptance to being physically scheduled it took three more weeks ending when we had the first NGE service in November 2016.
At the same time this was being developed, most people were saying this will never be accepted by the administration on this yard. Doubters included prisoners, as well as Captains, Chaplains and Correctional Officers. I persynally began circulating my verbal disapproval of two-on-one violence or group violence against one person. Simply stating these actions won't be tolerated when acted out against New Afrikans by other racial groups nor by other New Afrikans on New Afrikan prisoners nor member of other races who are also prisoners regardless of charges and convictions issued by the unlawful court system. By my understanding this position is backed by the BPP's 10 point program demand #8.(1) This has become the new norm through actions I will now describe.
On a day at the ass end of September 2016, at the morning yard for the lower tier, I noticed a dichotomy between a group of Aztlán known as the Number and an elder from the New Afrikans. Three members of the Number appeared to be attempting to jump physically this unknown elderly New Afrikan when his cellie physically assisted him ending the exchange of blows by walking away and descending to the bottom of the yard. All this happened in the direct view of the yard Correction Officers without any response. After my initial investigation of the occurrence turned little to no information I migrated to the bottom of the yard to build and better understand what I had just witnessed. Upon speaking to a New Afrikan soldier who we shall call Ty, me and him decided to get to the bottom of this matter. The elder explained that the Number owed him and upon confrontation about the debt verbally refused to pay. That is when the elderly New Afrikan swung his fist, hitting the debtor in the jaw, causing 3 members of the Number lumpen group to engage him in physical battle. After the knowledge, me and Ty decided to go and confront the Numbers, to issue a formal notice that the jumping of any New Afrikan would no longer be accepted and if we cannot have an agreement we would go to war at that moment. However, due to the magnetic energy all the New Afrikans on the yard mobilized with unity and harmoniously walked as one to the Numbers table at which time the aforementioned decree was stated to the Numbers. They decided peace was best for the yard at that moment and minutes later came assuring the elderly New Afrikan he would receive what he was owed. They apologized for the acts of aggression and the miscommunication.
During this time the Correctional Officers stayed in their yard position but many prisoners reported hearing them radio the tower to shoot Blacks if violence was to occur. Many New Afrikans felt the power of unity that day and began a positive dialogue due to being empowered by the unity of that event. That day also respectful communication between New Afrikans and Numbers were established including beginning dialogue between white nationals of two different lumpen groups in days to follow, which opened up the door for me to begin to share the principles of the UFPP with both major groups. The NGE membership grew to 23 prisoners of a racially diverse demographic, mostly New Afrikan but Aztláns and YT's joined too. I shared white national books out of my collection with the white nation lumpen group member and believed we had strong lines of communication.
Over a month later, in November 2016, an issue was made known to me about an alleged thief of a radio supposedly by a New Afrikan who had a history of mischief named KC. When word got to me I was told the Aztláns were planning to jump the New Afrikan, after sharing this with my comrade it was decided that we would investigate in order to keep the peace. While playing basketball someone had taken the radio off of the sidelines where items had been sat inside owners' shirts. My comrade believed KC to be the culprit, which he denied. Voluntarily, all the New Afrikans stripped down to their boxers proving they didn't have the property in question, lastly and with little fuss KC stripped proving he didn't have it. Then all the Aztláns likewise stripped proving they didn't have it either. The victim still felt like KC was guilty and wanted to fight. KC reluctantly obliged and whipped him and peace was better established stating New Afrikans won't turn down no battle if requested but peace is desired.
Almost a month later a white national, who I believed to be solid used our growing relationship to lure KC away from myself, then attacked him with a huge stone in a pillow case when his back was turned. Needless to say his instant karma manifested, KC was able to thwart this plot against himself and turn the tide with a huge victory over this extreme form of physical oppression and violent aggression. In days to follow white national politics seemed to attempt to establish itself, with whites telling Blacks they could not use pull up bars near their table. On hearing this I spoke with their known leaders and we all decided to end all attempts at making C yard a racialized environment and instead work together on a proposal to help create this yard into an honor yard. Vowing to do away with weapon usage and to better establish open lines of communication in order to solve interracial issues without violence.
There was an issue which touched home that I must share with you now. One of the persyns I most respect was accused of a savage crime against his celly. At the time I was allowing him to use my TV and a few CDs as was two other comrades. Upon his arrest people began circulating rumors of his alleged guilt. Due to his conduct and our developed closeness I persynally went to those prophecizing against him and told them to stop and desist. While he was being investigated a white porter came into blame for what was by then deemed missing property, that the porter had access to and had allegedly stolen. This was based on the fact that neither my TV nor all the CDs and a CD player made it to R&R. He was blamed and pressured to pay for two of the missing CDs by someone of influence. During this time I found out that the Building Officer had on his own taken my TV out of this persyn's property before it even left the building along with the CD player. I was asked to protect the white porter by one of the members of the original Black prisoners vanguard party, which I agreed to. Then the Correctional Officer returned my TV after keepin it almost two weeks, which is not just unfair but it is unlawful and burglary by definition. I didn't know if the white porter was guilty so I didn't charge him for my CDs knowing that the comrade was innocent and would be returning. Under threat and fear the white porter paid a 16oz jar of coffee to the owner of two missing CDs.
Well, I was right about the porter being innocent and the comrade because when he came back the CDs were in his property which he returned to their owners. The porter got his coffee back and all the false prophets learned a valuable lesson and some even apologized for smutting the comrade.
Now I have a monthly unity walk at yard with an all inclusive New Afrikan peaceful unity movement and I will have my first banquet in February 2017, of which all the leaders of the different lumpen organizations have been invited to attend. I will read UFFP principles at that time and speak on United Prisoners (UP) its benefits and how important it is to take the initiative in the Change Movement.
Tania La Guerrillera Y La Epopeya Suramericana Del Che
("Tania: Undercover with Che Guevara in Bolivia" is the title of the English translation)
Ocean Press 2005
Mention the name Che Guevara virtually anywhere in the world and images of Cuba, Fidel Castro and armed struggle come to mind. Travel to places like Cuba, Peru, Bolivia and Uruguay and say the name Che and another image comes to mind; that of Haydée Tamaia Bunke Bider, better known as "Tania the guerrilla", the only womyn to live, fight and die as part of Che Guevara's Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), National Liberation Army.
The first time i came across the figure of Tania the guerrilla was in reading the book Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson, which documents Che's extraordinary political life from childhood to his death. And while Jon Lee Anderson's book is unrivaled as far as political biographies goes, his emphasis was on Guevara, so his writing on Tania left much to be desired. In stark contrast, Ulises Estrada's present work casts much needed light on this figure little known here in the U.$.
Tania the guerrilla was born Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider on 19 November 1937 in Buenos Aires, Argentina to Erich Bider, a German communist, and Nadia Bunke Bider, a Russian Jew (pg 157). The Bider's fled Nazi Germany in 1935 and settled in Buenos Aires, promptly joining the banned Argentine Communist Party (ACP) (pg 143). Nadia Bider recounts how Haydée was exposed to politics early on as the Biders hosted ACP meetings, hid weapons, stashed communist literature in their home and helped Jewish refugees (pg 162). Besides joining the ACP, Nadia and Erich also belonged to various anti-fascist organizations (pg 144).
The Biders were to remain in Argentina for most of Haydée's young life and would not return to Germany until well after the Soviet Red Army smashed fascism there. Then in 1951, when Haydée was fourteen and after having spent two years in Uruguay, the Biders moved to the German Democratic Republic (GDR), also known as East Germany, part of the old Soviet bloc (pg 145). Haydée, having lived all her life in South America, did not want to leave her home and made her parents promise to let her return when she was older (pg 145).
After arriving in the GDR, Haydée felt as if she'd experienced a "revelation" (pg 145). She immediately incorporated herself into political life. Having attended her first Free German Youth meeting, Haydée returned home with "great enthusiasm." According to Nadia, Haydée confirmed that the socialist system was superior to capitalism, because, among other things, she was allowed to speak freely and express herself politically (pg 145). No doubt that having lived in Argentina, a "democracy" where the communist party was banned and poverty and exploitation were rampant helped her make this materialist comparison.
Apparently Haydée never forgot her beloved Argentina and, after having settled into German life, couldn't help but share with her new friends her preference for Argentinian folkloric music (pg 145). Like most girls raised in a capitalist democracy (Argentina, Uruguay), Haydée was socialized into dreaming of marriage and children. When she got older, however, even in adolescence, her priority was to one day join the revolutionary struggle in Latin America — this was to remain a focal point for Haydée (pg 145).
At age 18, Haydée was admitted into the United German Socialist Party in the city of Stalinstadt. Due to Haydée's high level of political education and commitment, she was admitted into the UGSP after only a one-year waiting period instead of the mandatory two. This would be the only time in its hystory that this exception would be made (pg 258). Haydée first became familiar with Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the struggle in the Sierra Maestra while attending the 5th annual World Youth Festival in the Soviet Union in 1957 (pg 145). Shortly thereafter, she decided she had to go to Cuba and the next two years in Germany were spent organizing for the trip (pg 146). Haydée was confident that in Cuba she'd learn the revolutionary methods with which to liberate Argentina from the imperialist stranglehold (pg 146).
Haydée's participation in Che Guevara's ELN started sometime after arriving in Cuba. She was chosen from among two other Argentinian wimmin living on the island to take part in "Operation Fantasm", which was the code name given to the mission to infiltrate the Bolivian government at the highest levels, as well as to initiate a guerrilla insurgency there (pg 20). At the time Haydée was interviewed for this position, she was working as a German translator for the Cuban Ministry of Education (pg 22). She was also involved with the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the World and the steering committee for the Woman's Federation (pg 22). In addition, Haydée also worked with the Rebel Youth Association, the Young Communist Union, she volunteered in various other serve-the-people type programs and was a member of Cuban Popular Defense Militia (pg 25). The author of this book, who was working in Cuba's Ministry of the Interior at the time and was vice-minister of "political intelligence" as well as one of the people to recruit Haydée for Operation Fantasm after Che himself recommended her, remembers how she swelled with pride whenever she wore her olive green uniform and service weapon (pg 25). Among other useful academic accomplishments of Haydée was her fluency in Spanish, English, German and French (pg 145). She'd also just received a Journalism Degree from Havan University and, at the time of her departure from the GDR, she'd just completed her first year as a philosophy major at Humboldt University in East Berlin (pg 25). It was also around this time Haydée met Carlos Fonseca, the founder and leader of the Nicaraguan Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN), to whom she'd confessed her wish to one day participate in the guerrilla struggle there (pg 25).
After being vetted and being given the role in Operation Fantasm, Haydée began training for her position, which included cryptography and learning how to use various types of communications equipment (pg 27). Haydée was not given any specifics as to her mission other than the fact that she'd be functioning mostly as a technician, but under no circumstances should she rule out the possibility of actively participating in armed struggle (pg 28). At this point, Haydée asked that she'd be allowed to choose her own pseudonym for her mission. She chose the name "Tania" in honor of Zoja Kosmodemjanskaja, a Soviet womyn guerrilla who was killed after being captured and tortured by the Nazis during the German invasion of the USSR (pg 28). Days after her training was complete, she was taken to the Ministry of Industry, where she was met, much to her surprise, by Che himself (pg 28)! After congratulating her on her decision to take up this task, Che informed her that it was not too late to back out, as he understood the gravity of what they were asking her to do. Without hesitation, Tania stated that as a communist, it was her revolutionary duty to carry out whatever task necessary to liberate Latin America from imperialist exploitation (pg 29). Che then gave her his assessment of the political, economic, social and military situation in South America. He condemned Amerikan imperialism for siphoning the region's wealth and for its subordination of Latin American governments who they bought off with only a pittance of what they themselves stole. He then concluded his assessment by telling Tania that you couldn't be a revolutionary unless you were an anti-imperialist (pg 30).
In preparing Tania for her mission, the author shared his views on guerrilla warfare with her. He said that according to his own experience in the Sierra Maestra, it would be very difficult for a guerrilla insurgency in the rural areas to maintain itself and succeed without the support of an organization in the city, especially during the insurgency's early states. Only after the revolutionary movement in the rural areas reached maturity could it then execute military and political operations with independence (pg 32). From a Maoist perspective, however, this political-military line is incorrect. Strategically speaking, it is completely backwards as the peasant masses make up the driving force of any revolutionary movement in agrarian societies. So before moving on with respect to this topic, let us be clear that as Maoists, we disagree with the Cuban political-military strategy known as Focoism. Focoism is defined as:
"The belief that small cells of armed revolutionaries can create the conditions for revolution through their actions. Demonstrated revolutionary victories, the success of the Foci, are supposed to lead the masses to revolution. Focoism often places great emphasis on armed struggle and the immediacy this brings to class warfare. Focoism is different from People's War in that it doesn't promote the mass line as part of guerrilla operations."
-From the MIM(Prisons) Glossary
So while as anti-imperialists we have great unity with the national liberation movement that booted U.$. imperialism from Cuba, we also have a variety of criticisms of Focoism, in particular the line being espoused in this book. The line that says only the "urban population" (industrial proletariat & left-wing sections of the petty-bourgeoisie) in a Third World country are advanced enough to lead the revolution is crypto-Trotskyist. The Focoists, while claiming to be communist and claiming to follow in the footsteps of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, in fact prove themselves to disagree with the philosophy of dialectical materialism in practice by attempting to prove external forces as principal both in general and in particular. By relegating the role of the masses as makers of hystory to mere spectators in hystory, the Focoists display a lack of faith in the masses and thereby uphold the bourgeoisie theory of hystory which they also claim to struggle against in their individualist attempts to bring about revolution. The Focoist political-military line upheld by the author is therefore anti-Marxist, anti-dialectical materialist, anti-communist and contradicts the entire hystorical process ever since the emergence of classes and class struggle. It is no wonder that Focoism has never succeeded in defeating imperialism anywhere in the world with the exception of Cuba. Indeed the Cuban example has been the exception and not the rule when it comes to the revolutionary transformation of society.
On the other hand, if we look at all three major stages of the Chinese Revolution: from the war of independence against Japan; to the revolutionary war that ousted the KMT from China, including Amerikan, British and French imperialism; to the struggle for New Democracy, we can see how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under the leadership of Mao Zedong struggled shoulder-to-shoulder with the masses in order to build dual power from inside the revolutionary base areas from which they were able to encroach upon, encircle and challenge the cities of China. This revolutionary war strategy is called People's War and it is the model for national liberation struggles all throughout the Third World in the era of dying imperialism.
Once her training was complete, Tania's handlers were confident she was more than prepared to fulfill her role. They believed that during the course of her training, she'd displayed many new character traits: hate for the enemy, firm ideological grasp of the revolutionary task at hand, discipline, vigilance, a disposition towards sacrifice in victory without any personal ambition or gain and satisfaction in completing her mission (pg 42). Tania soon departed for Prague under the alias "Maria Iriarte" from Argentina (pg 62).
Once in Prague, she was briefed on the next stage of her mission by Czech agents working in tandem with Cuban intelligence. Tania then travelled to Italy and then to the Federal Republic of Germany, also known as West Germany, which was split at the time between U.$., Briti$h and French imperialism. Tania's objective here was to deepen her cover as Maria Iriarte so that she may then establish herself as “Vittoria Pancini” of Italian origin (pg 62). It was in the course of these trips that Tania was finally confronted with the on-the-ground reality of capitalism and the class distinctions between the developed West and the under-developed Third World. Here Tania was able to witness the existence of poverty alongside the opulence that characterized the West; the egoism of western society and various other social ills she'd only learned about in school and her studies of Marxism. Whereas many people newly arrived in imperialist countries have swooned at the sight of such riches, Tania on the other hand found that her resolve was only strengthened (pg 63). After a few months in West Germany, Tania was sent to Italy to create another persona, that of "Laura Gutierrez Bauer", also from Argentina (pg 79).
On 5 November 1964, after returning to Italy from West Germany, Tania arrived in Peru by way of Argentina on her next stop to La Paz, Bolivia (pg 82). This is where Tania really proved her powers as a Cuban spy. Through her connections she'd established with the Argentine embassy as "Laura", she was able to infiltrate the Bolivian dictator, General Ramon Barrientos's inner circle. Near the end of 1964, Tania managed to get herself invited to a special banquet breakfast for Gen. Barrientos, where she had a conversation with him and even had pictures taken together (pg 84). Following this event, Tania abandoned her residence at Hotel La Paz and moved into the guest house belonging to Alicia Dupley Zamara, the wife of an important cement factory administrator. From here, Tania was able to stockpile connections deep within the Bolivian bourgeoisie as well as with various right-wing leaders and organizations, reactionary Christian social-democrats and pro-fascist organizations (pg 35). Next, Tania began to embed herself into various government agencies, such as the Office of Criminal Investigations, where she was able to collect information on the extent of Amerikan imperialism's penetration into the Bolivian penal and judicial system. She also gathered intelligence on the local jail in La Paz known simply as "the Panopticon" (pg 89).
Afterwards, Tania left Bolivia for Mexico City, where she was to meet a member of Cuban intelligence who informed her of her next mission and congratulated her for a job well-done. Tania had accomplished far more than anyone expected. She was also informed that she'd been voted in absentia into the Cuban "Communist" Party* (pg 76).
The next stage of Tania's mission was to gain Bolivian citizenship so as to better facilitate her cover and role in the Bolivian urban insurgency. She was to be Che's eyes and ears in the Bolivian government. Tania gained citizenship by marriage to a Bolivian university student, Mario Martinez (pg 105). On 31 December 1966, Tania met with Che in the ELN's base camp in the Bolivian mountains for the first time since leaving Cuba. By all accounts it was a joyous reunion and Tania celebrated the 9th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution with the ELN guerrillas. Two days later, Tania left camp with explicit orders from Che not to return to the camp and to refrain from any illegal activities that might blow her cover. However, on 19 March 1967, Che was angered to receive news that Tania had returned to camp. In Tania's defense, she stated there was no other member of the incipient urban insurgency she yet trusted enough to deliver fresh soldiers to the ELN, which was the task Tania was carrying out at the time. The timing, however, could not have been worse as the ELN had just suffered the desertion of two volunteers (pg 113). Che immediately ordered Tania to return to the city. Before she could leave, however, they received information that the Bolivian Army was aware of the ELN's location and were on the hunt. On 23 March 1967 combat operations began when, during the course of an ambush initiated by the Bolivian military, seven government soldiers were killed and 14 were taken prisoner. Four days later, news reached the camp that Tania's cover might have been blown when government officials announced over the radio that they were looking for someone matching Tania's description with links to the ELN. Around this same time the Bolivian police found identification belonging to a "Laura Gutierrez" inside of a jeep of a home they'd raided in search of possible connections to the ELN (pg 118).
On 31 August 1967 "Tania the guerrilla" was killed by government soldiers during an ambush along the edges of the Rio Grande. According to the only surviving member of the ELN, the group were trying to march out of the zone known as the Bella Vista mountain range where the military was attempting to confine Tania's unit, which had split off from Che's. As Tania knelt down to touch the water a single shot rang out. Tania had been shot through the arm. She immediately lifted her arm over her head to reach for the M1 slung over her back, when she suddenly collapsed. The single bullet traversed her arm and hit one of her lungs. Tania fell into the Rio Grande and was swept away by the current as shots raced back and forth between the ELN and the Bolivian Army (pg 124). Tania's body was found three days later by government troops (pg 125). On 8 October 1967, Che Guevara was taken prisoner and summarily executed the following day (pg 126). The bodies of all 33 fallen ELN guerrillas would then be disappeared by government troops and would not be found for nearly 30 years, when retired Bolivian general Mario Vargas Salinas confessed to Jon Lee Anderson the true location of Che Guevara's remains (pg 132).
As late as 2005, the people of Vallegrande, near the site where Tania was killed and where her remains were last seen, still held a special Mass every Sunday for Tania the guerrilla (pg 138). Until the dissolution of the GDR in 1990, there existed more than 200 juvenile brigades and "feminist" groups with the name Haydée Tamar Bunke Bider. Day care centers and elementary schools also bore her name in the GDR (pg 261). Today, with the temporary triumph of imperialism in Germany, none of these are still around. In Cuba, up until 1998, there were many collectives and various other institutions with either the name Tamara Bunke or Tania the guerrilla. And in Bolivia, the name Tania remains very popular for girls. In Nicaragua and Chile there also existed until 1998 many institutions and organizations with any variety of Tania's names and aliases (pg 261).
It was Tania's mother's last wish that Tania's remains be laid to rest alongside her fallen comrades whenever she was found. On 30 December 1998 Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider; alias Maria Iriarte; alias Vitorria Pancini; alias Laura Gutierrez Bauer; alias Tania the guerrilla finally arrived to the Ernesto Che Guevara Memorial in Santa Clara, Cuba, where she remains today (pg 273).
The role of wimmin in the annals of revolutionary struggle are not confined to a few noteworthy names such as Tania the guerrilla. From the Maoist struggle of the Naxalbari currently playing out outside the cities and urban areas of India, where guerrilla wimmin battalions and guerrilla units led by wimmin are some of the most feared by government troops, to the overwhelming amount of leadership positions held by wimmin in the Communist Party of Peru (aka "Shining Path") in the era of Gonzalo, to the national liberation struggles of the internal semi-colonies of the U.$. empire, wimmin will remain a vital component in the struggle for socialism-communism — this is what Mao meant when he said "wimmin hold up half the sky."
Indeed, the most effective road forward has already been paved. Revolutionary accomplishments should be viewed as the product of many peoples' collective labor and not just a select few. Anyone attracted to the Focoist theory of revolution need only look at the hystories of oppressed peoples' movements everywhere and learn from practice. What has been more successful – Maoism or Focoism? The relationship between mass movements and the individuals leading them is a dialectical one and neither can carry out the task of revolution without the other.
I have recently watched a well-planned election and campaign by Donald Trump, soon to be president of the United Snakes of Amerika. But I have to give him credit where credit is due. First, the Democrats for years have used the minority vote to get elected, by making promises of making eir life more better under a democratic capitalistic society.
I do want to question protest. They only focus on revolutionary nationalist struggles aligning their struggle with the left wing national bourgeoisie and with women and men of the left wing nations of the oppressed in Amerika. But we should also remember that not all struggles lead to socialism. The recent protests have cells that are revolutionary nationalism, where the people want the power. We need to study and use strategic methods to overthrow imperialism period. Why protest about issues that are not in line with changing our current economic system?
Now back to my opening on why I give Trump credit. Not to say I support his ideology or policies. I am considering how he managed to get support from the patriarchal labor aristocracy, and the First World lumpens. And some lumpens in the poor rural districts. This explains why Mao asked "who are our enemies, who are our friends?" The white proletariat showed up and it lets us know that they are the majority. And will support a system of imperialism. And the oppression of the Third World peasants. Just as long as the bourgeoisie be fed the illusions that jobs will come back to Amerikkka!
MIM(Prisons) responds: Overall this comrade has a good analysis of the election of Trump and the class that is behind this campaign. However, we want to point out that they are not a white proletariat but rather a white petty bourgeoisie. This distinction is important because the Amerikan workers are not exploited, and this is why they support imperialism: they are benefiting economically from imperialism! It doesn't really matter if a few jobs come back to the United $tates or not. As was proven with the failed attempts to get citizens to work the fields picking crops, there are some jobs that Amerikans really don't want. The petty bourgeois class thinks it is owed cushy jobs at high wages, but has no problem with people in the Third World doing grueling work for pennies. The only jobs the Amerikan workers want back are high paying jobs that don't require much work.
For anyone who believes the myth that white workers in the United $tates are on the decline and getting poorer, we have much in-depth documentation about the level of wealth enjoyed by the vast majority of Amerikan citizens and their well-above-exploitation level wages. This is a question of science, that is all the more important now that it has gained attention not only among false revolutionaries seeking to rally the so-called Amerikan proletariat but also among right-wing politicians gaining center stage in Amerikan politics. As this writer points out, we must be clear about who are our enemies and who are our friends, and at base this question requires a clear analysis of class and nation within U.$. borders. Write to us for a copy of our labor aristocracy study pack to get a more in depth understanding of this important point.
In an article titled "Revolutionary Nationalism and the Afro-American Student," published in January 1965, Max Stanford argued that Black students of the "warbaby" generation embodied several contradictions at once – contradictions that could lead them to embrace capitalism and white values, check out altogether, or join the revolutionary movement. What I like about this idea from Max Stanford is many of us Black lumpens scream and protest about oppression and unjustice. But as soon as we're pacified with promises of more jobs and wage growth we tend to get amnesia on how capitalism is creating the oppression and injustices.
Sometimes I question organizations that scream that we need to be free and equal but still want to hold on to petit-bourgeois ideas. I can agree with Max Stanford about the warbaby generation that wants oppression to end but will embrace capitalism as if that system will truly liberate them from oppression. I see this happening today; what we should be protesting about is bringing in a new economic system which can give us control of the means of production. Rather than riot and protest and beg these imperialists for more oppression and injustice in order to satisfy our material desires.
Another point I want to express is the embracing of white values. When we hear the term white values what is Max Stanford getting at? Well he must mean how Blacks will adopt lifestyles and ideology that most capitalist whites have. Now I assume Max Stanford was envisioning a future in which New Afrikans would sell out the revolution for material wealth in supporting a system which creates class divisions in Amerikkka and abroad. A lot of revolutionaries of the past used self-censorship in order to support capitalism and gave up on the struggle for the fear of being isolated targets of the imperialist masters. We have even gone so far as denying self-determination. So I agree with Max Stanford's statement that Black revolutionaries would embrace white values.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises a very relevant point about the potential for oppressed nation people to be pacified with material wealth. We have seen a movement towards integration and buying off oppressed nations within U.$. borders, as a part of a dual-pronged strategy from the government since the revolutionary movements of the 60s and 70s: dramatic incarceration rates combined with significant movement towards integration. We still see sufficient national oppression that we continue to have distinct nations within U.$. borders, but as with other nations in the past, Amerika could decide to fully integrate its oppressed nations to focus its energy on the exploitation of the Third World. Already superprofits are being shared with the [email protected] and New Afrikan nations so that even while facing national oppression they are enjoying an economic benefit from their Amerikan citizenship. And this promise of material benefit does lead revolutionaries to give up the struggle, as this author points out.
So we have to ask, what should revolutionaries do with these material conditions? This issue of ULK is about movement tactics, and it is an analysis of our conditions that should lead us to determine what are appropriate tactics and strategy for our organizing work. At this point in time we still believe that the principal contradiction within U.$. borders is between the oppressor nation and oppressed nations. It's even possible we will see this contradiction heighten as the white supremacists gain a stronger foothold in open roles in the government. So for now it is our job to educate and organize the revolutionaries, with a focus on the oppressed nations. But we are not fighting for the economic advancement of oppressed nation workers, who are already benefiting from imperialism. Our message must be clear: we are internationalists, fighting to end all national oppression, not just gain a bigger piece of the pie for internal oppressed nations while the pie is baked with the labor of exploited Third World workers.
We don’t support or uphold the current U.$. political process as a viable means for the liberation of U.$. internal oppressed nations and semi-colonies. Bourgeois politics work for the imperialists and the bourgeois class. However, assessing the current election cycle provides a glimpse into the social dynamics of U.$. imperialist society. It allows us to gauge the level of parasitism and privilege that is generally characteristic of First Worlders. In short, we can better clarify who are our friends and enemies as well as determine what actions we need to take in order to push the national liberation struggles forward.
This presidential election season we saw very deliberate rhetoric that contains elements of fascism. Huge numbers of Euro-Amerikans have shown unshakable support for Donald Trump’s idea of how to “make amerika great again.” Trump has made it explicitly clear that ey despises Mexicans. Ey advocates for extralegal violence against people of color, particularly those individuals who had the audacity to exercise their “right” to protest Trump’s racist, hateful campaign. And Trump’s view and treatment of wimmin, while not surprising, reaches a new low in gender oppression. To put it succinctly, Trump represents more than working class jobs for Euro-Amerikans, who feel that Amerika is changing for the worse. Ey is offering them a vision of payback and retribution for all the perceived slights and humiliation that Euro-Amerikans have endured in respect to their place in U.$. imperialist society. Needless to say, a Trump presidency would have serious consequences for the climate and space for organizing for liberation within the United $tates.
Opposing Trump was Hilary Klinton, who may check all the boxes for “minority” support, but will continue along the same path as Obama. Likely, ey will be even more hawkish and ready to engage militarily to defend empire.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The recent U.$. presidential campaign had a lot of people reeling over whether Clinton or Trump is more of a fascist. So we decided to have our special election issue devoted to the question of fascism as MIM(Prisons) sees it. We don’t completely agree with the author’s analysis above, which we hope to explain further in this article and throughout this issue of ULK.
In order to analyze fascism, a study of historical materialism and dialectics is very helpful.(1) Capitalism is characterized by the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Imperialism is an escalated form of capitalism, and Lenin analyzed imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism. So imperialism has the same fundamental contradiction as capitalism (bourgeoisie vs. proletariat), but it is on an international scale and the world is divided into oppressor nations and oppressed nations; it is also divided into exploiter countries and exploited countries (which are not parallel divisions).
When the proletarian forces (the secondary aspect of this contradiction) grow in strength and overcome the bourgeois forces, then the economic system will change from capitalism to socialism. We saw examples of this movement towards socialism in the early-to-mid 20th century across Africa, Latin America, and most of Eurasia, with solid socialist states established in the Soviet Union and China. In response to the spread of socialism, the imperialists committed coup d’etats and backed the installation of fascist leaders in several countries.
We can see that the proletariat defeating the bourgeois oppressors is not a simple process. As the antagonisms between the proletariat and bourgeoisie (and all the inherent sub-classes of these two groups) increase, humyn society reaches a fork in the road. This is called the unity of contradiction. Humynity will be at a crossroads between socialism and fascism. At this point, the secondary aspect (the proletariat) of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism may overcome the dominant aspect (the bourgeoisie), but if fascism grows in strength and popularity, this is a clue that the socialist and proletarian forces are losing. If the communists are doing a good job in their work, then we should see more economic systems turning toward socialism. If they are maintaining those successes well, with cultural revolutions as we saw in China under Mao Zedong in 1966-1976, then we can expect those successes to evolve toward communism worldwide.
Fascism is a form of imperialism, and so this means fascism is a form of capitalism. Fascism is the final attempt for the bourgeoisie to remain the dominant aspect in the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. As the proletarian forces become stronger, the imperialists go to even more extreme measures to protect their beloved economic system. To say we’re in a fascist scenario now, or we’re moving toward fascism, is to overstate the strength of the proletarian forces in the present day. Fascism is enhanced imperialism, so it’s natural that we would see some elements of our current imperialist society appearing more like fascism than others, even if we haven’t moved into fascism as an overall system.
The imperialists want to protect their economic interests, but actually any imperialist who’s good at eir job is a bourgeois internationalist and would put off moves toward fascism until absolutely necessary. It’s a more difficult system for the imperialists to maintain. The mass base that historically pushes for fascism the most, to protect their own material interests, is the labor aristocracy. Living in the United $tates, surrounded by labor aristocrats, our primary task as communists in the First World is to combat labor aristocracy denial. The more that people believe themselves to be oppressed by “corporate capitalism,” when actually they are benefiting immensely just from living within these borders, the harder it will be for us to fend off fascism.
One of the myths of fascism is that average Amerikans would suffer under it. That’s not actually the case – average Amerikkans would benefit from fascism just as they benefit from imperialism. It might be a little less convenient to consume than we do today, and some liberal privileges may be curbed for the “greater good,” but the wealth acquired by the labor aristocrats would still be an extractive process; extracted from the Third World where the United $tates already exercises a much higher level of imperialist brutality more closely resembling fascism than what is experienced in this country.
So how does Trump v. Clinton fit into this dialectical analysis?
Capitalism is characterized by a class contradiction (bourgeoisie vs. proletariat), yet the principal contradiction is nation. So a lot of this question of how the U.$. presidential race fits into the question of fascist development in the United $tates rests on how the national contradictions interact with class contradictions.
Except for a very small minority, on the whole people in the First World are aligned with the bourgeoisie. And this includes oppressed-nation internal semi-colonies. Even organizing among the oppressed-nation lumpen, one of the most oppressed groups in U.$. society, we still see a lot of loyalty to empire.
While this election itself was not much different than other elections, Trump’s rhetoric increases antagonisms along national and gender lines, which encourages the openness of these sentiments in general society. Male and white chauvinisms already belong to capitalism and imperialism, so an increase in these sentiments aren’t necessarily a move toward increased fascism. In this case, Trump’s sexism is just a fluctuation within the realm of imperialism.
Clinton’s election rhetoric (not to be confused with eir practice) was not as antagonistic on national or gender lines. Eir political practice is of course different than eir rhetoric (as with any politician for as far back as this responder has studied). Clinton and Sanders are more avid supporters of the labor aristocracy’s interests than Trump. Clinton and Sanders favor a $15/hour minimum wage, union organizing, etc., where Trump wants to gut worker protections in favor of the capitalists.
Trump’s rhetoric is not bourgeois internationalist. Ey promotes an “isolationist” position, meaning ey wants the United $tates to isolate itself from the rest of the world. (In practice it is unlikely that the Republican party would actually carry out isolationism at this point in time as imperialist profits come from internationalist plunder.) Trump doesn’t support the TPP or NAFTA, whereas Clinton is more of a bourgeois internationalist who does support NAFTA and did support the TPP until it became inopportune for eir campaign. Clinton has more of a geopolitical interest in eir presidency. Trump panders to Amerikkkans’ national interests. Ey doesn’t pander to the imperialists. Clinton panders to both the U.$. labor aristocracy and imperialists’ economic interests.
National contradiction and fascism
How do the national contradictions within the United $tates interact with the international class contradiction (proletariat vs. bourgeoisie)? In other words, we know the Amerikkkan labor aristocracy is pro-fascist in its core, but how would the oppressed nation internal semi-colonies fare?
If Trump’s leadership increases antagonisms between the oppressor nation (Amerikkka) and the oppressed internal semi-colonies, then that would be reversing a lot of the assimilation that has been so important since the 1970s in quelling legitimate uprising of the people in this country. This may be why the republiklans were apprehensive of supporting Trump. They remember (if not persynally then at least historically) how important this assimilation has been to maintain their nation’s political power. They don’t want Trump to disrupt that stability.
If Trump’s rhetoric is dividing the labor aristocracy (along national lines), undermining the integration that helped Amerikkka keep power coming out of the 1960s, this is likely actually bad for the bourgeoisie and bad for capitalism. It reduces the amount of support that the imperialists might enjoy in hard times, because Trump alienates the oppressed-nation bourgeois-affiliated classes.
With more racism, there would be more national oppression, and the oppressed-nation bourgeois classes would likely become targets of the fascist elements. This would align the oppressed nation internal semi-colonies more with Third World struggles. The bourgeoisie doesn’t want to make more enemies unless it has to, especially domestically. So this question of “what about the oppressed nation labor aristocracy?” is parallel to the question of integration and assimilation that we deal with every day in our work already. We see lots of integration but we also see lots of national oppression. It’s hard to predict how the oppressed nations would fare under U.$. fascism, but at least some classes, and likely some entire nations, will be subject to fascist oppression.
In reality today we see the strongest expression of fascism in Third World countries where the United $tates supports or actively installs dictators to put down popular uprisings. A good example of this would be the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, which was brought to power by a U.$.-backed coup in 1973 after the popularly elected government led by Salvador Allende began implementing too many anti-imperialist policies. Pinochet’s government banned all leftist organizations and arrested, murdered, tortured and disappeared tens of thousands of Chilean people who expressed or acted on disagreement with this imperialist-backed fascist dictatorship. There are similar examples in other countries around the world where activists, especially communist organizations, gain significant footholds and Amerikan imperialism then steps in to help fascist governments come to power to suppress this popular uprising that threatens imperialist profits.
People who rally around anti-fascism but not anti-imperialism will do little to liberate oppressed people in the United $tates or around the world. Capitalism is the economic system that makes exploitation and oppression possible, and we need to oppose all forms of capitalism, whether in its highest stage or on steroids.
For those of us who have received a political education and are locked away in Amerikkka's prisons, the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity should be a call to action. As many people as have been involved in MIM and MIM(Prisons)-led study groups over the years, comrades should be more than clear on what their duties and responsibilities are to the prison struggle as well as to the International Communist Movement (ICM). The fact that September 9 events are still few and far between is therefore continuing indicative proof of a variety of contradictions still plaguing the prison movement. This essay attempts to address and give special attention to the development of the mass line.
Some people who have shown interest in taking up revolutionary politics incorrectly believe that they must spend years on end learning political theory before they are ready to take up revolutionary struggle, especially when it comes to applying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. However, this type of thinking is incorrect, not only because it has the potential to slow down revolution, but because it can be used to purposely derail the revolutionary movement. Just think — where would any revolutionary movement be if everyone always sought to first become an expert in any particular field before they did anything? This is what Maoists criticized as the "experts in command" approach to education, production and revolution in communist China during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) (1966-1976), the furthest advance towards communism in humyn hystory!
The experts in command political line was initially related to the intellectual belief during the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961), that only experts with years of training (usually within the confines of a classroom or a controlled environment) were worthy enough to lead or teach. This same line was later used by traitors and the bourgeoisie in the Chinese Communist Party itself as a way to disempower the revolutionary masses and consolidate their grip on power.
In opposition to experts in command, Mao Zedong and others began popularizing Lenin's slogan of "fewer, but better" by pointing out that it wasn't necessary for comrades to have years of experience in political struggle before they were able to take up leadership roles. Instead Mao stressed comrades' dedication to serving the people as more important than this "expertise." Furthermore, Mao encouraged cadre to not separate themselves from the revolutionary masses, but to work amongst them and help them develop the mass line. To develop and carry out the mass line is simply to help the masses develop and carry the revolutionary programs that will best help them accomplish the task of developing revolution and achieving self-determination. Without the mass line revolution is impossible; the masses will sink ever deeper into despair, while the leaders lead the revolutionary movement astray and the oppressors will rein. Mao Zedong's instructions for cadre to develop the mass line are thus:
"In all the practical work of our Party, all correct leadership is necessarily 'from the masses, to the masses.' This means: take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Then once again concentrate ideas from the masses and once again go to the masses so that the ideas are persevered in and carried through. And so on, over and over again in an endless spiral, with the ideas becoming more correct, more vital and richer each time. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge." - Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership
Mao also said it would be enough for comrades to first put an emphasis on being "red" with an aim towards becoming experts through continued participation in revolutionary struggle.
There is also the problem of intellectuals in the prison movement. But does this mean that all intellectuals in the prison movement are a problem? No, of course not. There are revolutionary intellectuals and there are bourgeoisie intellectuals. Revolutionary intellectuals hate oppression, they value knowledge as power and the collective accomplishments of many people, and they are dedicated to using their knowledge to serve the people. Bourgeois intellectuals on the other hand don't much care if people are oppressed, they are apathetic, they value knowledge for the sake of knowledge and they view the accumulation of knowledge as the accomplishment of great individuals. Some of these people may sometimes cheerlead for anti-imperialism and revolutionary struggles, but thru their inaction they actually hold up imperialism. Such people often excel in MIM(Prisons)-led study groups. These types of people take up revolutionary politics for the sole purpose of study and discussion without application, which is to say that they get off on talking about revolution but very rarely do they go further. These types of people give lip service to communist ideology and the topic of national liberation. When pressed on putting their knowledge to use they'll suddenly come up with excuses. "Now is not a good time for me," "The masses aren't ready," "The movement isn't ready," etc, etc. In fact it is they who are not ready!
Real revolutionary intellectuals don't study revolutionary theory for the sake of knowledge, but to make revolution. Theory without practice ain't shit! Mao addressed this in his essay "On Practice":
"What Marxist philosophy regards as the most important problem does not lie in understanding the laws of the objective world and thus being able to explain it, but in applying the knowledge of these laws actively to change the world."
Maoism teaches us that there is no great difference between politically conscious leaders and mere followers, between leaders and led. The only difference is practice, for practice alone is the criterion of truth for knowledge, as it is through practice that the masses can come to power and exert influence over their destiny.
The deeply appreciated efforts of MIM inspire me to see with a different view the same circumstances. Let's look at the current election:
Both candidates have an utterly failed platform. The Amerikkkan elections are about Amerikkkan hegemony; keeping Amerikkka the richest and most militant/violent nation on earth.
There is no revolutionary voice or worthy candidate. Have we heard anyone say "All the wealth of the world belongs to all the people of the world?" That's the revolutionary voice.
Have we heard any candidate say "The goal of humynity, including politics, is to solve the problems of hunger, lack of shelter, cure diseases and end oppression across the globe. Politics is NOT meant to exploit people beyond national borders or to see that we have 'more and better.'" If you heard such a speech you heard a revolutionary voice.
Have you heard a candidate say "This is my plan to assist other nations to work in harmony with us to end world hunger, child mortality, lack of medicine and education, and dire poverty. Some candidates speak of the upper 1%, but I'm here to tell you that if you live in the United $tates you are the upper 13%. It's past time for us to see all people as our family. The Haitian in the slum is your sister, my sister. The Nepalese man living in the street is our father. The infant who died in Bangladesh from a treatable fever is our daughter, yes, one of us humyns."
When you hear that voice, then vote. Until then, ignore the candidates and work together for the day when your political power comes from the barrel of a gun.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade nicely summarizes where our priorities should be as world citizens: focused on ending oppression for people suffering under imperialism around the world. We know that the capitalists will not peacefully give up the power they use to generate great wealth from the majority of the world's people. In fact, even after a communist revolution that seizes the government for the interests of the world's oppressed, we can expect that the former bourgeoisie, and even some new bourgeois recruits, will attempt to take back their wealth and power and they will need to be kept down with force until they can be re-integrated as productive members of society.
We call this phase of the revolution the Dictatorship of the Proletariat because it still involves a government with power over people, but that government is acting in the interests of the proletariat, unlike our current government which is really a Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie. There will be a long period of socialism while we remould society and our culture to educate people in treating others humanely and working for the greater good rather than for individual gain at the expense of others. During this process we can expect to see a new bourgeoisie attempt to take power from the proletariat, as their goal and culture will not disappear overnight.
We learn much from looking at the histories of the Soviet Union and China under socialism, both about this bourgeois counterrevolution and the cultural revolutions necessary to build towards communism. In imperialist elections we recognize that changing the face of the government doesn't change the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and we stay focused insist on overthrowing this dictatorship rather than adjusting the makeup hiding its evil face.