At the latest Democratic Party debate among candidates for U.$. President, Tulsi Gabbard made headlines by appealing to emerging views on the criminal injustice system among younger Amerikans. She did so in attacks on former California District Attorney Kamala Harris. Gabbard focused on two issues of particular interest to the petty bourgeoisie: drug decriminalization and prison labor.
Senator Gabbard opened her comments by expressing concerns for the "broken criminal justice system that is disproportionately, negatively impacting Black and Brown people all over this country." She went on to say that Harris "kept people beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California." and condemned Harris for imprisoning people for marijuana possession and then laughing when she was asked if she had ever smoked it.
The prison labor point was specifically about concerns Harris' office raised about losing firefighters if they complied with court orders to reduce the prison population.(1) The court had ruled that overcrowding in the state had led to cruel and unusual punishment. As we've established in our own surveys and research, most prison labor is for the state, and most of it is to maintain the prisons themselves. Fire fighters are the exception in terms of the important role their work plays, and no doubt Harris' legal team was playing that up at a time when wild fires were a major threat in California. But the fire fighters are typical in that they are not producing value or part of the profit-making of private corporations.
Prison labor (and the privatization of prisons) has been an ongoing issue of concern for Amerikans in the age of mass incarceration. MIM(Prisons) has long demonstrated that there is a myth that exploiting prison labor is a motivating force for mass incarceration in this country.(2) It is important to point out that the petty bourgeois obsession with this myth is largely based in class interests. On the one hand there is a fear among the labor aristocracy about competition with prison labor resulting in lower wages and higher unemployment. This has been the major political barrier that explains why prison labor for profit is so rare in the United $tates. More generally, there is a contradiction between the petty bourgeoisie and the big bourgeoisie that causes the former to be skeptical and fearful of the latter, because the petty bourgeoisie favors small-scale capitalism. This results in a general sentiment against corporations profiting off prison labor, even without the direct concern of wages. In a recent campaign ad, Gabbard condemns private prisons for profiting off prisoners.
Drug decriminalization is also very popular among the Amerikan petty bourgeoisie, in particular the movement to decriminalize marijuana. In 2016, Pew Research found 57% of Amerikans supported legalization of marijuana compared to just 12% in 1969.(3) And the younger generations were more favorable of course. In this case, public opinion is based in class interests around economics and leisure time. While there is a financial interest in the booming legal economy of marijuana products for young Amerikans, the broader public opinion is based in leisure time interests.
The movement to legalize weed will often give lip service to condemning the blatant racism in many U.$. drug sentencing laws, similar to Gabbard's opening statement against Harris' criminal injustice record (above). Yet the scale of your average weed festival/rally versus that of the size of your average protest against torture (of primarily New Afrikan and [email protected] men) tells a clearer story. These reformists for persynal freedoms of the petty bourgeois individual are not going to do anything about national oppression in the form of targetted arrests, sentencing, concentration camps and torture chambers that make up the U.$. criminal injustice system.
MIM has long used the "Willie Horton"-style of campaigning as an example of Amerikans support for national oppression, especially of New Afrikans.(5) While "tough-on-crime" politics is finally waning, we have yet to see whether Amerika can really start to decrease its prison population now that the infrastructure and economic self-interest has been built up around it.(6) Beyond that, the national question is only more at the forefront today, with Amerikans chanting "send them back" at a recent rally held by current President Trump, where they were calling for female Senators who are not white to be sent back to the countries their ancestors came from.
It is important to be aware of these shifts, as they may provide opportunities for the anti-imperialist prison movement. But there has been no change in the overall orientation of the Maoist Internationalist Movement that sees nation as the principal contradiction both internationally and within the United $tates. We continue to organize with the medium-term goals of building dual power and independent institutions of the oppressed and the long-term goal of national liberation and delinking from imperialism.
I was looking for a purpose in my life. I have been in prison over 10 years. What can I do in this place, I wonder. I hear so many people with dreams, or talents they would like to pursue. What is it that I like or have passion for. Politics is a love of mine, always has been. Also since being locked down, I want to help my people.
I started talking to these conscious brothers on the status of black men in America. One thing led to another and I was given information to contact ULK. Then the issue at hand was facing me. In ULK 64, I read the article written by a New York prisoner about voting and the mid-term.(1) This article and your reply sparked something in me. I'm not a writer, but I think this issue at hand may be the most important one for us as people.
I understand the writer's views, but also yours as well. I believe the worst thing we can do is decide that we can't change the political landscape. We are in America, and if we like it or not, the system is money and politics. Look, maybe we made a mistake yesteryear, when the leaders in the black community chose to fight for integration instead of us being a sovereign community. That's up for debate, and can be spoken about later. But back to the issue at hand, we didn't fight for sovereignty as a whole, so we must play the hand we have. I heard the same guys who told me about ULK, on the walk talking about how we don't need to vote. I also hear that displayed in the African-American Community so much. What difference does it make if we vote Republican or Democratic, they are both the same. Sorta like your reply to the article was stating. I get it, but this is why that thinking leads to the status quo. We can't win not fighting, right? We are not the majority, right? We hold no power in the political sense. We don't make the rules. The only way for us to win is to make the rules work for us.
I would not call myself a communist, but I do agree with a lot of the platform. I also know it's 2 major political parties. You can either work in one of those, or take your ball and go home. You can put resources behind third party candidates, and lose, that's an option. Or you can hijack one of the major parties. That is the best and only option for us to get our platform to the mainstream. Look, the Tea Party (say what you will) started the hijacking of the Republican Party, crack after crack. They mobilized people who shared their worldview, forcing candidates to take up their issues or face a primary. This led to a more forthright party, and house of representatives. That allowed them to block President Obama's agenda, and force in their movement. It all led to this racist, bigoted, homophobic, anti-American nationalist, treasonist person who occupies what is supposed to be the people's house. Now it is no longer a Republican Party, it's his followers. They all have bowed down to "Dear Leader".
So we have the blueprint. Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and others are pushing a socialistic platform. We need to mobilize our people to get out and hijack the Democratic Party; that's our only way. We need to force all Democratic politicians to take up more of our platform, or be primaried. We need to start at the grassroots level. Start getting our people or people who share our worldview on board and winning local elections. Then we repeat the playbook of the other side. Before we know it, we will have a party and a president who share our worldview.
I know it's hard work, but that is how we change the game. Other demographics are forcing their issues onto the main stage, besides us. By us saying "what difference does it make" we are not hurting anyone but ourselves. Like it or not, the game goes on if we participate or not. The other side prefers we don't take part. Isn't it funny the other side always are the ones who try to take our voting rights? Wonder why? Now the Democratic Party has not been friends to us, they have hoodwinked and bamboozled us. I get it, we don't trust them, but we must use them as our vessel for change.
I hope to be out soon. I can't wait to start my mission to fight against the status quo. I may not make it out before the next fight, but I hope you take my suggestions up for thought. Please take the fight up, mobilize our base, our future depends on it. He has declared war, it's up to us to fight back.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The author is saying that we must work within the capitalist electoral system if we want to make change. "The only way for us to win, is to make the rules work for us." If that's true, eir strategy of trying to take over the Democratic party might make sense. But what if that's not true? What if there's another way?
We aren't limited to just studying and learning from the history of the United $tates. We can also learn from the history of other countries. This includes countries that have had successful socialist revolutions. The Soviet Union, China, Albania, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba: all places where they won by forcibly overthrowing the government. None of these victories came through elections.
On the other hand, we can look at a few countries where socialist candidates did win elections. Chile, with the election of Salvador Allende in 1970 is a good example here. Allende tried to implement policies in the interests of the oppressed while in office, and the imperialists saw him as such a threat that they sponsored a coup which ended in Allende's death and the fascist government of Agusto Pinochet taking over in 1973. Implementing socialism in bits and pieces proved impossible in the face of imperialist opposition.
From the many lessons of historical struggles of the oppressed we conclude that the bourgeoisie will never give up power peacefully. For this reason, we know we can't vote them out of power. We have to take power and force them out. A socialist government in the United $tates would work against the interests of the bourgeoisie, so of course they would oppose it. This includes the bourgeoisie in the Republican and the Democratic parties.
So why were the Trump folks so successful in taking over the Republican party if we can't take over the Democratic party? Well Trump is an imperialist. This is just another brand of imperialism. Variations in imperialism will come and go, and the bourgeoisie will get behind various factions. That's not counter to their interests.
There will also be some local initiatives and candidates where the impact of victory will have a net positive effect on the oppressed. This could be part of strategic organizing locally. But that's very different from working to groom candidates in a long term strategy of changing Amerikan society via the electoral process as this writer is advocating.
In response to "Mid-Term Elections, Do we Need to Vote?" in ULK 64, I wholeheartedly agree that we should be talking about elections.(1) I believe anyone wanting to see society progress would desire their voice be heard in the electoral process.
Here are two issues we can fight for. Both issues bring an opportunity to work with others for the collective good of all.
1. Voting rights for prisoners. We are all part of society, whether living in Freeworld or Behind The Wall. As part of society, our voices deserve to be heard. The time has come for disenfranchisement of the incarcerated masses to end! Any organization or individual working toward improving inmates' lives and living conditions should be well-equipped to lobby for voting rights for prisoners.
2. Ballot access for third parties. Ballot access laws vary from state to state. For many states, it's a case of the foxes guarding the hen house. Both Democrats and Republicans have a vested interest in keeping very restrictive access laws in place. Regardless of political affiliation: Communist, Socialist, Libertarian, Constitutional, Green, or Independent, all have an interest in less restrictive ballot access laws.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Voting is considered a fundamental right in capitalist society. One that is required for democracy to function. The fact that this right can be taken away from 6.1 million people because of a felony conviction illustrates who is and is not included in Amerikan bourgeois democracy.
And it's not just that prisoners and those convicted of a felony can't vote. What about all the workers in this country who don't have citizenship? They contribute essential labor to the economy, and money in taxes, but will never be eligible to have a say in elections.
And further, it's true that ballot access laws are very restrictive. And these restrictions are in place to help keep the established power structure in place.
These are problems with Amerikan "democracy" that we should expose. They help underscore the truth that this is not a democracy at all; it is a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. This particular dictatorship happens to serve the majority of the people living within Amerikan borders. Amerikan citizens get some really valuable benefits from living in such a wealthy country. This includes being paid wages higher than the value of their labor. They are basically being bought off to keep the country peaceful so the bourgeoisie can continue to plunder the Third World.
So far, we're totally in line with the writer's position. But where we diverge is on the question of what to do about voting rights and access. Beyond exposing this situation to expose the hypocrisy of capitalism, should we also put our time and resources into the campaign to fight for these rights? This is where we argue that there is something fundamentally wrong with Amerikan "democracy" that can't be fixed by getting access to the ballot for more people. Even if those who gain access are primarily the oppressed within U.$. borders, this will not fix Amerikan "democracy."
Fighting for voting rights implies there is value in voting in imperialist elections. If all the disenfranchised former prisoners had voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, would that improve the conditions for the oppressed in the world? How about if Bernie Sanders wasn't suppressed by the Democrats and all former prisoners voted for em? Sanders, who supports U.$. military intervention and protectionist economic policies, including closed borders, was excluded by the Democrats. Perhaps expanding beyond a two-party system would have allowed Sanders to compete in the election. But we still have only imperialist candidates. And no anti-imperialist candidate can be elected as president of the dominant imperialist power in the world. We can't take down imperialism through the ballot, we can only do that through armed struggle.
With that said, there can be value to fighting electoral battles on a local scale. In these cases it's possible to win some victories that will set up better conditions for revolutionary organizing. For instance Chokwe Lumumba was elected Mayor of Jackson, Mississipi.(2) Lumumba was Vice President of the Republic of New Afrika. This is a situation where the oppressed have an opportunity to build independent power and used local elections to further this work. Under suspicious circumstances, Lumumba died eight months after taking office.(2)
Single-issue organizers who don't see the opportunity available to us in building toward revolution should definitely focus on the two campaigns this author suggests. People who are building dual power, like in Jackson, and have electoral politics as a specific piece of their overall strategy, should go for it if that's what they determine is the way to move forward in their conditions at this time. And bringing in people who support electoral politics generally to support a campaign for a specific candidate like Lumumba is an agreeable tactic.
As revolutionaries, we know better than to expect liberation from elections, and we need to be clear about that. The recent mayoral election in Oakland, California holds an example of playing up both sides of this contradiction. When Cat Brooks, an admired New Afrikan nationalist and radio persynality, ran for Mayor of Oakland in 2018, ey was clear that ey was running for the position because that's what the community ey organizes with asked of em. When introducing eir campaign over the radio waves, ey was clear that eir campaign was about issues, organizing, and mobilization — not a government office. And ey rallied support among many sectors of society, not just the revolutionaries and anti-capitalists. In the context of a campaign like this, revolutionaries can use elections to build the movement. We always need to be clear with people that we won’t be winning, as a movement, through the ballot box. We hold up these two examples (Jackson and Oakland) as models of how to incorporate electoral politics into revolutionary organizing in a way that pushes our struggle forward rather than subsuming the revolution into Amerikan "democracy."
I would like to hear your opinion of the growing politikal party that has been moving slowly over the past few years and that is the so-called Socialist Democratic Party. I myself have an exceptionally hard time with their concepts and ideals as I was born shortly after Komrad Stalin’s death and was raised in the USSR in a home that lived and breathed the ideals of Komrads Lenin and Stalin. I am extremely interested to hear and hopefully read your views and ideals concerning the United $tates and the SDP as it is forming today. Please enlighten me as much as you can on this issue.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The context in which we've seen this "new Socialist Democratic Party" label is mostly from reactionary sources who claim that the mainstream Democratic Party is too far left. This is the derogatory name the right wing is using for the Democratic Party.
This is a problem for genuine socialists/communists. We know the Democratic party is far from socialist. In fact they are squarely in the middle of mainstream Amerikan capitalism. And so it just gives socialism a bad name.
However, historically there was a Socialist Democratic Party, founded by Eugene Debs in the late 1800s. It was combined into the Socialist Party in 1901. Debs was then the Socialist Party's candidate for President in Amerikan elections between 1900 and 1912.
There are also plenty of self-proclaimed socialist organizations that operate within the electoral system. We call these folks social democrats or democratic socialists. These organizations may advocate nationalizing private industries and abolishing production for profit, but their strategy is reform through the ballot box. Genuine communists, on the other hand, want to abolish classes altogether, and recognize that overthrowing the bourgeoisie will require armed struggle.
The list of social democratic organizations in the United $tates includes the Socialist Party, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Socialist Labor Party and others. These parties all support electoral struggle within the Amerikan system. Some are also revisionists, claiming to uphold Marx while opposing eir idea of the "dictatorship of the proletariat."
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is a group that has gained ground in the United $tates on the heels of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. Sanders identifies as a democratic socialist, but ran as a Democratic Party candidate. The treatment of Sanders by the Democratic Party alienated many young Amerikans who turned to the DSA. The DSA endorsed Sanders, after the 2016 election. It is the largest organization in the United $tates that falls under the meaningless umbrella of "socialist," with over 50,000 members. While it does not claim Marxism, it does critique capitalism. In 2018, the DSA celebrated getting two candidates into Congress, as well as a handful of state-level victories and many local election wins.(2)
social democracy: The social movement to improve or maintain conditions of the broad parasitic classes. The economic base of social democracy is the labor aristocracy. An organization or movement does not need to be openly (or even consciously) social democratic to be considered so. Social democracy is the principal social (not military) prop of imperialism, ensuring superprofits flow from the exploited countries to the exploiter countries. (Labor Aristocracy, Mass Base of Social Democracy by Edwards, H.W. , Chapter II)
The recent rise in popularity of the DSA symbolizes a growing interest among imperialist country youth in critiques of capitalism as its inner contradictions unravel. While most Amerikans will stick with the DSA-style "socialism" that serves the material interests of exploiters and does not actually threaten capitalism, there is a smaller, growing interest in communism as defined above.
Some of our fellow comrades remain skeptical or indifferent about our engagement in the political process. Don't be foolish! We have to act while we can to fortify our freedoms and ensure that government does not try to quarantine our communist ideology. Too long have we been unrepresented at the polls for elections.
The fact that we have been unrepresented only condones and promotes the inundated lies that sound convincing and are spread through education, through the media and through entertainment. "In January 2010, a conservative minority on the Supreme Court radically rewrote Ameri[k]a's campaign-finance laws to allow mega-donors and corporations to contribute unlimited sums, often in secret, to political action committees. The Citizens United v. FEC decision gave wealthy donors unprecedented influence to buy elections, which Republicans quickly used to their political advantage" (Rolling Stone, Ari Berman, February 8-22, 2018, p.30). I do not believe there is any difference from today's political culture and the one of the late 1780s "Three-Fifths Compromise" which treated each slave as three-fifths of a person for tax and representation purposes. It has always been about which political party is going to get the vote.
These mid-term elections elect a body of electors who elect the president and vice president. Under the Trump administration we have watched numerous offices filled and seats to our judicial branch, two of which after the next Supreme Court justice seat, will be for the life of that persyn. How does that weigh on us? I do not know, so the advancement of "why the need to vote?" is a relevant topic for discussion amongst us comrades.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is right that we should be talking about elections in ULK because so many people are focused on this topic in the United $tates right now. On the "left" we regularly hear about the critical need to get Democrats elected in mid-terms to limit President Trump's power. But we come at this topic from a different perspective.
To determine what is the most effective actions we can take today we need to first identify our principal enemy. For revolutionaries this enemy is imperialism, the global system which keeps many nations poor and oppressed in order to provide wealth for a few nations. We happen to live within one of the imperialist powers: the United $tates. Here still imperialism is our principal enemy. And the President is certainly the leader of this imperialist country. But congress is just as much a part of that leadership structure. And whether members of congress are Democrats or Republicans matters not one little bit to which side they are on; being in the Amerikan government requires supporting imperialism.
So when this writer points out that revolutionaries are dramatically underrepresented in the government, we think that's to be expected. The system is not set up to allow for a peaceful revolution through elections. And in fact, when we look closely at the interests of the vast majority of people who could legally vote in elections, we see that their material interests are aligned with imperialism. So of course they are electing these imperialists! The capitalist system has advanced to the point where people living within imperialist countries can be bought off with the vast wealth plundered from the Third World. And buying people off includes buying their voting allegiance since they want to help perpetuate this system that is giving them a comfortable life.
Within imperialist countries we can't expect to have a majority on the side of the oppressed, fighting for revolution, until conditions change dramatically. At this point we're not even close. Trump's reactionary policies and rhetoric may be angering some self-described leftists, but only to the extent that they want to get a more soft-spoken imperialist into the White House. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama are friends of the oppressed. They just peddle a different flavor of imperialism.
It's a mistake for revolutionaries to focus on getting Trump out of office. And when we tell people to vote in mid-term elections we are telling them to vote for the imperialists. There are no revolutionary candidates for high office. And with the implication that we oppose Trump, we're telling people that we support the Democrats. This is not only misleading but also will soon be demoralizing. What happens if the Democrats win big? And at the next presidential election a Democrat comes into office. When we still have imperialism, and the Democratic President is funding more prisons, more police, and more invasions of other countries, what are people going to think of the revolutionaries who campaigned for the Democrats?
This writer raises the question of the Supreme Court. Presidents have the power to fill seats in the court with someone who will serve for life. And these individuals have a big impact on laws in the United $tates. The right to legal abortions, for instance, is a decision many fear could be overturned with a more conservative court. This is an example of a law that has a real impact on people's lives, especially hurting those without the resources to buy access to safe abortions. Just as we fight for legal victories to gain more organizing space and less abuse within prisons, we would oppose outlawing abortion. But these laws and legal precedents are no different than variances in how a city deploys its police force: more trigger happy cops in the projects means more dead oppressed nation youth. There are so many laws and policies within imperialism that are harmful to the oppressed.
Focusing on the Supreme Court again keeps us from seeing the big picture: it's all still a part of imperialism. We will have variations in legal rights and in modes of repression, but imperialism is still the same system of exploitation and oppression. And many of the Supreme Court decisions that Amerikans worry about are only possible due to the luxury of living in this wealthy country. Of course we support affirmative action, LGBTQ rights, and abortion access. But these are things aren't even considered in many Third World countries where the masses are barely surviving in the wake of imperialist wars, direct and by proxy, to secure cheap resources and labor, with puppet dictators in power. The United $tates has not become less imperialist by implementing more rights for more people within U.$. borders.
There are battles that can be fought in these non-revolutionary times that do contribute to weakening imperialism, such as ending torture and political repression within the injustice system. And so we say: keep your eyes on the principal enemy. That enemy is imperialism. Fight that enemy for rights for those living within U.$. borders, but never sacrifice or lose sight of the bigger picture. An imperialist who supports legal abortion for Amerikan wimmin is still an imperialist.
We have received many letters lately exploring the future of our struggle under a Trump administration. Below we print excerpts from two of those letters and our response on the topic.
From a comrade in Colorado:
"The presidential election has been most interesting. The election of King Trump may be the last chance for the folks that brought us the Cold War, Vietnam, and much of the current world instability, to try to hold on to power (or make a show of power). The racial minorities and poor people in the United $tates are actually in the majority, but they apparently did not get out and vote, so now we get Trump.
"On the possible good side, perhaps the explosion of right wing, world domination capitalism that Trump will be pushing will finally provoke the masses (the proletariat) once they really get screwed by Trump policies, to look for a real solution to improving their status. (I do not mean the U.$. labor aristocracy who are doing very well — lots of toys to keep them occupied. They will get even more under Trump's policies.) By that I mean looking to the philosophy, the understanding of socialism, as the the only viable means to their liberation from the shackles of capitalism."
From a comrade in a Federal facility:
"The election of Donald Trump is a cause to celebrate for revolutionaries. These are revolutionary times. The times where movements are built. Communists are in a position over the next 4 years to put in place a revolutionary front that can be sustained beyond the next election if it should be lost to a so-called democratic contender. No time will be lost to make revolution with these revolutionary times at hand.
"The fact that a so-called 'social democrat' - read 'socialist' - like Bernie Sanders had a chance in an Amerikan election to become president is a sign of the times that 'socialization' of European Amerikans is at a point of maturity in its epoch of imperialism. It is ready for socialism but lacks the world-historical material condition to make it possible. Thus this contradiction (condition) manifests as a 'national socialism' that is the opposite of international socialism and is nationalist or 'nationality exclusive.' That is why white Amerika elected Trump, to make Amerika white ('great') again."
MIM(Prisons) responds: The writers here make interesting points about the election of Trump as an opportunity for revolutionaries. Certainly there are some good reasons to agree with this. Trump's extremely reactionary cabinet appointments seem to be inspiring many Amerikkkans to political activism who previously were content to sit and watch the politics of this country from the sidelines, perhaps going to the polls once every 2 or 4 years. Revolutionaries should seize their initiative and make sure that people have access to information about why electoral politics aren't the answer, if they really are seeking change for the better of the majority of the world's people.
Of the large portion of people who are eligible to vote but don't vote in presidential elections we see a few major groups:
People who don't care who wins because they know the government is serving their interests generally by continuing on with imperialist plunder to keep people in the United $tates rich. For the most part this is the labor aristocracy and is the vast majority of U.$. citizens. Where our comrade in Colorado says poor people are a majority in the United $tates, instead our class analysis says the labor aristocracy is the majority, and if they didn't vote it's because they knew either Clinton, Sanders, or Trump would all be fine to serve their interests.
People who don't care who wins because they know that both candidates support national oppression and will work counter to their interests. This is the oppressed nation lumpen and oppressed nations generally; the "racial minorities" referred to by our Colorado comrade.
People who genuinely oppose imperialism and so can't in good conscience vote for a candidate who will run the imperialist state. This is a small number of revolutionary activists within U.$. borders.
As our comrade in Colorado points out, the U.$. labor aristocracy is comfortable and may even get more comfortable under a Trump administration. As much as the bourgeois liberals are crying about Trump's election, the potential for socialist revolution to be initiated within the United $tates is slim to none. They are upset about LGBTQ rights and Trump's overt racism and sexism and anti-environmentalism, but on the whole don't mind extracting wealth from Third World peoples for their own benefit. The best we can expect from the Amerikan masses' own volition is a push toward social imperialism, which still leaves the Third World out.
Even supporters of Bernie Sanders are not socialist, as much as Sanders tries to claim that's what eir politics are about. Sanders was a candidate with a clear imperialist line on international issues. While ey might have planned to spread around the wealth a bit more to U.$. citizens, ey still falls firmly in the imperialist camp, supporting wars of aggression, and financing terrorist governments like I$rael. In this regard, Trump, Obama and Sanders are more similar than they are different. Our Colorado comrade says Trump will push world domination capitalism, but we've been seeing this for decades and it didn't slow down for a second under Obama. There is no way to reconcile Amerikan imperialism with socialism. No elected candidate will make this change. Only by forcibly overthrowing the government will we be able to implement socialism.
Our comrade in a Federal prison brings up the question of the need for world-historical material conditions to be in place to bring the Euro-Amerikan nation toward socialism. This comrade's claim that Euro-Amerikans are well on their way to supporting a socialist shift is likely overstated. But if the oppressed internal semi-colonies and oppressed Third World nations are enraged by Trump's rhetoric and policies, then we can expect revolutionaries in Amerikkka to grow in strength and number as well. The oppressed nations' response, internally and abroad, to a Trump's presidency is where we see real revolutionary potential.
This writer is correct that socialism (in the short term, and communism in the long term) is the only way to liberate the oppressed from capitalism. But when we recognize that the majority of people in the United $tates are benefiting from capitalism, we can see that most people in this country, voters and non-voters alike, aren't being fooled by mis-information. Rather they correctly understand that if we were to give back all the wealth stolen from Third World countries and stop the plunder of imperialism tomorrow, standards of living in this country would go down dramatically.
Still, there are very good reasons why Amerikans should oppose capitalism, including the destruction of the environment, the deadly culture of patriarchy and violence, and basic humynity towards other human beings around the world. And so we conclude that if Trump's presidency leads some Amerikans to greater global awareness and inspires them to oppose capitalism, it is our job to provide a correct analysis of the system and opportunities for action against the system.
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.
This 2016 election season we heard many people likening Trump and eir proposed policies to fascism. Here we look at statements and actions that ey made, identifying fascist elements, while also going over what else they could be. First, let's review what fascism is - from MIM's "Definition of fascism" (which draws information from Dimitrov's report to the 7th world congress of the COMINTERN and Dutt's Fascism and Social Revolution), fascism is "the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital." Further, fascism is "an extreme measure taken by the bourgeoisie to forestall proletarian revolution... the conditions [which give rise to fascism] are: instability of capitalist relationships; the existence of considerable declassed social elements; the pauperization of broad strata of the urban petit-bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia; discontent among the rural petit-bourgeoisie; and finally, the constant menace of mass proletarian action." So basically, if the capitalists feel like they are going to lose their money deals, if mass amounts of the petit-bourgeoisie suddenly find themselves impoverished, and there is significant fear of actual proletarian revolutionary action, these are conditions that give rise to fascism.
With this in mind, let's look at one of Trump's more popular proposals — to build a wall on the U.$./Mexico border to physically keep people from crossing over into so-called United $tates territory. Trump believes immigrants from Mexico impose a threat to the job economy of the amerikkkan labor aristocracy, and also that they are not amerikkkans and don't belong here. Following the guidelines laid out above, the building of a wall could fall into a reactionary action taken to counteract the threat to the labor aristocracy; keeping the amerikkkan "working class" safe and happy to prevent discontent and ensure that there is no declassing or pauperization. However, it's more accurate to consider the idea of a border wall to fall under extreme racism and isolationism than fascism. Trump claims that amerikkkan people are better at making money and working than those who might come over from Mexico, and ey wishes to keep things contained within eir own walls than to bring in people from the outside. A similar example of Trump's isolationism can be found in eir ideas to keep production and trade local rather than global. Ey believes that trade with other countries is stealing jobs from people here, and that people here can do it better anyway. A more fascist way of handling this would be to allow trade with other countries as long as it proved opportunistic and beneficial (which it does for the U.$. financially).
Next, we can look at Trump's ideas about "destroying radical Islamic terrorist groups." To make such a statement is highly chauvinist and reactionary, though it is not in response to something ey believes could topple the government. It is more of a show of force both internally and externally. Again, here we see extreme racism — Trump is further bolstering the "us vs. them" mentality that is already prevalent in much of amerikkkan society, identifying a group of people as the other or bad, and rallying people around that idea. A more fascist example of a similar act is the raids, arrests and murders committed by the pigs towards the Black Panther Party (BPP) and other revolutionary nationalist groups in the 1960s and 70s. The BPP was a highly organized group with significant popular support among the New Afrikan nation and it was enough of a threat of revolutionary action to warrant direct reaction. The imperialists felt enough pressure from the BPP to publicly act outside of their established laws to counteract that pressure, though much public opinion was on the BPP's side. The attacks against nations that are primarily Islamic is imperialist aggression that has been the war cry of Amerikan imperialists for years now.
The biggest thing to take away from this is the understanding that Trump's actions are often not fascist because they do not need to be. Ey is not facing any of the triggers mentioned in MIM's "Definition of fascism" at the moment. There is no internal revolution rising, nor is there fear of pauperization of the bourgeoisie. Trump for the most part is what we would call an imperialist, as ey seeks to systematically and internationally oppress some groups whilst bolstering others. That being said, based on Trump's statements and actions, if Amerikan capitalism was truly threatened by the oppressed internal nations, Trump's open chauvinism would easily transition to far heavier fascist tendencies.
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.
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.