The Third International after Lenin

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Bosses give Trump plaudits as communists knock on doors in working-class neighborhoods in big cities and small towns

US rulers give high marks to Trump
administration policies


The economic uptick in the U.S. and Washington's moves to defend U.S. imperialist interests around the world are consolidating support among the propertied rulers for the course of the Donald Trump White House. This has not stopped liberals and others in the middle-class left, who never reconciled themselves to Trump's victory, from intensifying their demands that he be driven from office.

The boss press is running articles of praise. "For Businesses, Donald Trump's First Year Is a Net Success," the Wall Street Journal said Jan. 16.

"What the critics don't acknowledge is that Trump and his national security team have actually scored some real foreign policy wins," CNN said Dec. 27.

The bosses give Trump plaudits for cutting taxes on the propertied owners. Factory orders are increasing as bosses predict further capitalist growth off the backs of working people. He has slashed the number of federal regulations and red tape on businesses and banks, and says he will cut the size of the Washington bureaucracy.

His administration is working to secure a bipartisan agreement on measures that will assist the bosses in exploitation of immigrant labor, and, at the same time, scapegoat foreign-born workers.

The economic carnage and deepening competition the working class has confronted for several years continues to bear down. The number of workers who've given up looking for work and the number employed part time who can't find full-time work stands in the millions. Current capitalist expansion has only begun to affect this. And more workers are looking for a way to respond to what has been done to them.

Trump pushes rulers' foreign policy

The administration is advancing the capitalist rulers' interests in the Middle East, bolstering Washington's military and political weight against its competitors — Moscow, Tehran, Damascus and Ankara.
It has carried through the war against Islamic State begun by former President Barack Obama, but gave U.S. commanders greater freedom in carrying out operations and expanded weapons supplies to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which drove Islamic State from its capital, Raqqa, in October.

Washington announced Jan. 14 it would set up a 30,000-strong Border Security Force based on the cadres of SDF. They will be deployed along the border with Turkey and along the Euphrates River, the line dividing U.S.-backed SDF forces from Syrian government and Hezbollah troops, backed by Moscow and Tehran.

Washington also announced the deployment of 1,000 more combat "advisers" to join the 14,000 troops it has stationed in Afghanistan, while maintaining over 5,000 troops in Syria and Iraq, according to Pentagon figures. Both of these decisions aim to stem the rising influence of Tehran in the region. And unlike Obama, Trump imposed no timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The consequences of these ongoing conflicts continue to devastate working people. Over half the Syrian population has been forced to flee their homes since 2011, many in recent months. The Syrian regime's bloody war against rebel forces and civilians in Idlib province and around Damascus continues.

The administration has advanced Washington's imperialist interests in pushing through the U.N. Security Council's ever-stiffer sanctions against North Korea, which hit working people the hardest. At the same time, as the governments of North and South Korea have begun discussing common participation in upcoming winter Olympic games, Washington keeps open prospects for negotiations with Pyongyang to press it to end its nuclear and intercontinental missile programs.

Washington remains far and away the most powerful imperialist power in the world, but its strength has declined relative to Beijing and Moscow. Trump combines pressure on these regimes with efforts to build relations that can open doors to advance the political and economic interests of the U.S. rulers.

The Trump administration has pressed European NATO members to take more financial and military responsibility. Washington announced Dec. 22 it would supply weapons to the Ukrainian government in its fight with Moscow-backed forces operating in the east of the country.

Liberals continue cry to oust president

Liberals, middle-class radicals and some Republicans seeking to build support for efforts to drive Trump from office seized Democrats' allegations that Trump used language they claim was racist and derogatory to African nations in a private meeting at the White House Jan. 11.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow said the problem was the millions of workers that voted for him are "part of his racism."

In reality, because of victories won by the proletarian mass movement that overthrew Jim Crow and workers' decades of common experience working and living with immigrant workers, there is less racism and anti-immigrant chauvinism among working people than ever before. This is a source of strength as workers seek ways to stand up to the bosses' attacks on jobs, wages, conditions and to cop assaults.

Michael Wolff's recently published book on the Trump White House, Fire and Fury, an instant best-seller, includes the author's acknowledgement that he couldn't verify anything he alleges in the book and that he provides only what he calls "notional truth."

While the self-righteous calls of these middle-class layers to get rid of Trump grow shriller, their actual prospects of driving him from office are diminishing.

At the center of their witch hunt is the open-ended special counsel investigation, headed by former FBI chief Robert Mueller. It has failed so far to come up with evidence of collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign and Moscow that could be used to impeach the president. In December Mueller revealed he had fired FBI agent Peter Strzok from the investigation after finding out Strzok had called for the FBI to get an "insurance policy" against Trump winning the election.

What Next?

How long the economic uptick will last, and how far it will grow, have yet to be seen. Also unknown is when the balloons in the propertied rulers' financial speculations from Wall Street stocks to Bitcoin futures will burst.

The capitalist rulers have no solutions to the long-term crisis of production and trade, rooted in declining profit rates, other than continuing to make workers pay. And today's depression conditions are driving more workers to look for ways to stand up to assaults by employers and their government.

The uptick gives us more confidence. Recognizing this, Walmart bosses announced they were raising workers' minimum wage.

Socialist Workers Party members — whose party-building efforts are built on knocking on doors in working-class neighborhoods in big cities and small towns — find interest in discussing how workers can organize to defend ourselves and build a party that can lead the fight to overturn capitalist rule.

A look at the upsurge in working-class discontent and protest in Iran indicates this is true elsewhere in the world.


Friday, January 19, 2018

The fascist "threat" has never been less than it is today.

Facebook comment by a comrade: too good not to preserve and share.

Fascism isn't going to be stopped by a few people punching a few other people.  Fascism is a mass movement (which does not exist anywhere on earth right now) that can only be stopped by another mass movement, led by the working class.

The reason fascist-minded groups are marginalized is that the ruling class doesn't need them.  It has nothing to do with you and your dozen anonymous friends.  Fascism is a threat to the working class when the working class is in a position to challenge for power.  Unfortunately that is not the case anywhere in the world now.  In fact the fascist "threat" has never been less.  You should spend more time talking to workers about the need for working-class unity, the need to build a working-class party, and the need for that party to lead the fight to overthrow capitalism.  That's the only way to put an end to the fascist threat.

The question of program

Trotsky’s answer to Stalin’s
‘socialism in one country’ 

Printed below is an excerpt from The Third International after Lenin, one of Pathfinder’s books of the month for May. It presents Leon Trotsky’s defense of the proletarian course of the Russian Revolution that triumphed in October 1917 under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party led by V.I. Lenin. In 1919 the Communist (or Third) International was founded to advance this revolutionary internationalist course. By the time of Lenin’s death in 1924, a privileged petty-bourgeois social layer—whose leading representative came to be Joseph Stalin—had gained the upper hand in the Communist Party and Soviet state apparatus. It justified its actions with the anti-Marxist slogan of building “socialism in one country.” This book presents Trotsky’s 1928 criticism of this perspective, which was laid out in the draft program presented by Nikolai Bukharin and Stalin to the Communist International’s Sixth World Congress held that year in Moscow. Copyright © 1957 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.


The new doctrine proclaims that socialism can be built on the basis of a national state if only there is no intervention. From this there can and must follow (notwithstanding all pompous declarations in the draft program) a collaborationist policy towards the foreign bourgeoisie with the object of averting intervention, as this will guarantee the construction of socialism, that is to say, will solve the main historical question. The task of the parties in the Comintern assumes, therefore, an auxiliary character; their mission is to protect the USSR from intervention and not to fight for the conquest of power. It is, of course, not a question of the subjective intentions but of the objective logic of political thought.

“The difference in views lies in the fact,” says Stalin, “that the party considers that these [internal] contradictions and possible conflicts can be entirely overcome on the basis of the inner forces of our revolution, whereas Comrade Trotsky and the Opposition think that these contradictions and conflicts can be overcome ‘only on an international scale, on the arena of the worldwide proletarian revolution.’” (Pravda, no. 262, November 12, 1926.)

Yes, this is precisely the difference. One could not express better and more correctly the difference between national reformism and revolutionary internationalism. If our internal difficulties, obstacles, and contradictions, which are fundamentally a reflection of world contradictions, can be settled merely by “the inner forces of our revolution” without entering “the arena of the worldwide proletarian revolution” then the International is partly a subsidiary and partly a decorative institution, the congress of which can be convoked once every four years, once every ten years, or perhaps not at all. Even if we were to add that the proletariat of the other countries must protect our construction from military interventions, the International according to this schema must play the role of a pacifist instrument. Its main role, the role of an instrument of world revolution, is then inevitably relegated to the background. And this, we repeat, does not flow from anyone’s deliberate intentions (on the contrary, a number of points in the program testify to the very best intentions of its authors), but it does flow from the internal logic of the new theoretical position which is a thousand times more dangerous than the worst subjective intentions.

As a matter of fact, even at the Seventh Plenum of the ECCI [Executive Committee of the Communist International], Stalin became so bold as to develop and defend the following idea:

“Our party has no right to fool [!] the working class; it should declare openly that the lack of assurance [!] in the possibility of building socialism in our country leads to the abdication of power and to the passing of our party from its position as a ruling party to the position of an opposition party.” (Minutes, vol. 2, p. 10. Our emphasis.)

This means that we have only the right to place assurance on the scanty resources of national economy but that we must not dare to place any assurance upon the inexhaustible resources of the international proletariat. If we cannot get along without an international revolution, then give up the power, give up that October power which we conquered in the interests of the international revolution. Here is the sort of ideological debacle we arrive at if we proceed from a formulation which is false to the core!

The draft program expresses an incontrovertible idea when it says that the economic successes of the USSR constitute an inseparable part of the worldwide proletarian revolution. But the political danger of the new theory lies in the false comparative evaluation of the two levers of world socialism—the lever of our economic achievements and the lever of the worldwide proletarian revolution. Without a victorious proletarian revolution, we will not be able to build socialism. The European workers and the workers the world over must clearly understand this. The lever of economic construction is of tremendous significance. Without a correct leadership, the dictatorship of the proletariat would be weakened; and its downfall would deal a blow to the international revolution from which the latter would not recover for a good many years. But the conclusion of the main historical struggle between the socialist world and the world of capitalism depends on the second lever, that is, the world proletarian revolution. The colossal importance of the Soviet Union lies in that it is the disputed base of the world revolution and not at all in the presumption that it is able to build socialism independently of the world revolution.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Workers World Party's convergence with Russian fascists documented

Workers World Party and my former CLE friend Caleb Maupin get a nice mention in an encyclopedic blog piece about Red-Brown political convergence.


The WWP And Fascists


The reactionary positions of the WWP include the party forging ties with hardline Russian Stalinist parties in the 90s, the most prominent one being the Russian Communist Workers Party (RCWP/RKRP-RPK) [archive] as notes Kevin Coogan. The WWP’s newspaper ran an article by Victor Tyulkin, the RCWP’s leader and Secretary of its Central Committee in September 3, 1992. Tyulkin and Victor Anpilov, another RCWP member as well as member of the executive committee of the Working Russia group, sent birthday wishes to Sam Marcy which were republished on the WWP’s newspaper in 1996. The WWP even contrasted the RCWP more favorably to the KPRF [archive] on its publication.

The RCWP however is a “left fascist” organization, being extremely homophobic, anti-semitic and anti-Black, and being described by the International Solidarity with Workers in Russia as a “pseudo-Communist anti-Semitic organization”[archive], Kevin Coogan suggesting this might be why the WWP did not devote more extensive coverage of the RCWP as it would alienate the WWP’s rank and file members. Victor Anpilov later left the RCWP and his Labor Russia party allied with the National Bolshevik Party of Eduard Limonov [archivein a voting bloc in 1997 [archive], yet kept on being praised by the WWP’s paper until at least 2002 in an article where Eduard Limonov is also described as one of many anti-capitalist political prisoners [archive].


More recently, the WWP has been involved as of at least 2014 with the organization Borotba, a Stalinist organization formed by a former member of the RKRP [archive] and Sergey Kirchuk, from various Ukrainian Stalinist groups. Borotba has been on record for trying to cannibalize direct action by Anarchists and attacking anti-authoritarian leftists by falsely labeling them as members of far-right group Right Sector while having itself worked with far-right groups associated with Right Sector before the Euromaidan protests, after which it aligned itself with Novorossiya.

Like the RKRP, Borotba has been extremely racist, homophobic and associates with far-right groups like Slavic Unity and Rodina. Borotba routinely publishes anti-Semitic imagery and its leadership is close to anti-Semite Israel Shamir while its ranks include Aleksey Bluminov, who had worked with Svoboda and the PSPU. Borotba has itself cooperated with the PSPU and far-right anti-Semitic group Oplot while attacking left-wing members of the Maidan, leading many members of the Ukrainian left (which has condemned the far-right elements within the Maidan protests) to openly condemn it.

Aleksey Albu, a member of Borotba, fled to Crimea in 2015 and set up a “Committee for the Liberation of Odessa” [archive] with Vadim Savenko and Aleksandr Vasilyev of Rodina and and Dmitry Odinov of neo-Nazi organization Slavic Unity, itself a branch of the neo-Nazi group Russian National Unity, and which has cooperated with Dugin’s Eurasian Movement.

Another example of Stalinists working with fascism is when Antiimperialistische Aktion, a German “anti-imp” group, collaborated [archive] with an organization which calls itself the “International Anti-Fascist Committee” to organize “International Anti-Fascist Conferences”. A closer look at the website of the “International Anti-Fascist Committee”‘s website (which features a Saint George’s ribbon, a military award during the Russian empire under the Tsar) shows Soros conspiracy theories [archiveand support for Donald Trump[archive] as well as claims the West wants to balkanize Syria quoting Michel Chossudovsky [archive], which clearly establishes this organization was not only anti-fascist, but explicitly fascist of the red-brown type and weaponizing “anti-fascist” rhetoric in the service of fascism in the same fashion as Dugin does.

The participants [archive] of the International “Anti-Fascist Conference” included:

Anti-Imperialist Action


the Communist Youth of Poland

the Swedish Donbass Group

the KPRF

the Leninist Komsomol of the Russian Federation, the youth organization of the KPRF

the Vanguard of Red Youth of Labour Russia

the Communists of Russia

the United Communist Party

the International Anti-Fascist Committee

the Young Communist League of Canada, an organization close to the Communist Party of Canada with which it shares overlapping membership

the Center for Continental Cooperation, an Islamophobic[archiveEurasianist organization following Dugin’s ideology[archive]. Its slogan is “From Lisbon to Vladivostok”, corresponding to Dugin’s ideology of a Eurasian state. Its president, Yuri Kofner [archive], is a leader of the Eurasian Movement of the Russian Federation [archive]. Kofner is also the president of Young Eurasia [archive] to which belongs Tanai Cholkhanov [archive], an imam who has been fighting on the side of Novorossiya and has been trying to undermine the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People [archive], the highest representative body of Crimea’s indigenous Crimean Tatar people, which opposed to the Russian annexation of Crimea and whose subsequent banning as part of repressive measures against opponents of the annexation is part of larger policies of discrimination Crimean Tatars have been facing since 2014

The Community for Qaddafi and his People, an organization close to the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia (which I explored below in this post). Its activists Pyotr Rybakov and Elena Gromova visited Syria in solidarity with Bashar al-Assad in November 2011 [archive] and participated in a ceremony at the Syrian Embassy in Moscow in December 2011 [archive] together with activists from Planet Antiglob (the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia’s newspaper) at the invitation of the Syrian Abmassador. Elena Gromova and Sergey Dondo, the editor-in-chief of Planet Antiglob, gave an interview on Jamhariyya Radio in Dcember 2011 [archive]. In December 2011, Elena Gromova, Pyotr Rybakov, Sergey Dondo and Aleksandr Ionov, then a representative of the Anti-Globalization Movement (Ionov was once a campaigner for The Community for Qaddafi and his People), took part in a rally in support of Bashar al-Assad together with members of Anpilov’s Labor Russia[archive].

Videos of their conference [archive] show that Pavel Gubarev was present at the conference, and Greg Butterfield from the Workers World Party participated in one of their conferences in 2016 [archive].

Antiimperialistische Aktion has also collaborated with Italian ska-punk band Banda Bassotti (which has organized numerous “Anti-fascist Caravans” in support of Novorossiya) and the Trade Union of Lugansk Republic to organize events as well [archivein 2017 [archive].


It is not surprising then that the Workers World Party has supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea and openly aligned itself with Novorossiya, published translations of Aleksey Albu[archive] in 2016 and quoted the Committee for the Liberation of Odessa on its website [archive] while repeating Russian state media narrative of a “Kiev putsch junta” opposed to “anti-fascists in the Donbass”, even as Anarchists in Ukraine paint a different picture, fighting against Nazis in Kiev, condemning the leaders of Novorossiya as Russian fascists whose fake calls to fight fascism echo those of Dugin and Limonov and condemning the right-wing elements of Euromaidan, the Kiev government’s alliance with fascists and the fascist Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (a position also expressed by Russian Anarchists, who condemned the war in the Donbass as being fought by fascists on both sides and a way for Putin to divert attention from the economic crisis in Russia). Which means that is is not a surprise either then that SSNP flags and Saint George’s ribbons are appearing at protests organized by groups like the WWP and Code Pink. This is not isolated to American Stalinists, with some Spanish leftists having claimed to have fought side by side with Nazis for Russia in Ukraine.

Multiple Workers World Party articles have quoted Fort Russ (example 1 [archive], example 2 [archive], example 3 [archive], example 4 [archive], example 5 [archive]), a pro-Novorossiya website on whose front page are links to multiple National Bolshevik websites and, listed on the “Fraternal Sites” section, are linked Aleksandr Dugin’s think tank Arktogaia and Open Revolt, the website of National-Bolshevik and Eurasianist group New Resistance.


The WWP has been quoting Michel Chossudovsky since the 90s [archiveto defend Milosevic [archive], and acknowledged[archivebeing reshared [archive] by the Centre of Research on Globalization, and worked together with WWP to defend Slobodan Milosevic [archive]. Sara Flounders (who is also a member of the International Committee for the Defence of Slobodan Milosevic) was listed by the Centre as one of its writers [archive]. Chossudovsky himself was one of the signatories of the founding charter of the ANSWER coalition when it was initially founded by the WWP. In 2013, Chossudovsky was a speaker [archiveat a conference[archivein North Korea [archivewhich included Ramsey Clark, Brian Becker and former WWP member Kiyul Chung.

Kiyul Chung

Kiyul Chung, who was formerly associated with the WWP, is a visiting professor at the state-owned Tsinghua University in the People’s Republic of China [archive], is Editor in Chief of the 4th Media, a confusionnist media outlet on whose board isMichel Chossudovsky as chairman and WWP organizer Abiyomi Azikiwe, who himself operates a blog named Pan-African News Wire which quotes [archive] and reshares[archiveconspiracist [archiveGlobal Research [archivearticles [archive] regularly. 4th Media itself regularly shares material by Engdahl [archive] (who is a visiting professor at the Beijing University of Chemical Technology [archive] and Meyssan [archive], as well as conspiracies [archive] in line with LaRouche’s [archive] and Dugin’s [archive] ideologies. Chung was awarded with a honorary degree for his “information service” by North Korea in 2014 as result.

Chung is on the Scientific Committee of Duginist magazine Geopolitica along with Chossudovsky, Engdahl and Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, whose editor is Tiberio Graziani, a member of the High Council of Aleksandr Dugin’s International Eurasian Union who has worked with representatives of the Italian embassy of the People’s Republic of China [archive].

[Note: Engdahl and Aleksandr Dugin are on the Scientific Committee of Eurasianist magazine Eurasia, edited by Claudio Mutti. Graziani has also worked with Eurasia. Mutti is also associated with Stato e Potenza, a Third Positionist group funded by the Economic Club of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Italy-Mongolia Association, the International Academy for Mongolian Studies, the Italy-North Korea Friendship Association, the Belorussian State Economic University. Another group Mutti is involved with is the Centre for Mediterranean and Eurasian Studies, which is partnered to Leonid Ivashov’s Academy of Geopolitical Problems [archive], Dugin’s Journal of Eurasian Affairs and Mutti’s Eurasia [archive], and promotes the New Silk Road initiative [archive] supported by both LaRouche [archive] and the Duginists [archive].]

Chung is also the Editor in Chief of The 21st Century, which appears to be an offshoot 4th Media [archive], and which lists among its “specialists” [archive] numerous regulars of confusionnist media and of Russian and Iranian state media: fascists and reactionaries such as William Engdahl, James Petras, Thierry Meyssan, Mahdi Darius Nazamroaya and Paul Craig Roberts, as well as WWP members and affiliates such as Sara Flounders, Margaret Kimberley of the Black Agenda Report, Abayomi Azikiwe, and Brian Becker.

The presence of WWP members and associates in organizations tied to the network of conspiratorial fascists including Lyndon LaRouche, Aleksandr Dugin and Thierry Meyssan might explain the WWP’s recent stance on the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar [archive], blaming the crisis on US and Saudi attempts to oppose Chinese investment[archive], which echoes Thierry Meyssan’s claims (published a few days before the WWP’s) that the West was [archivearming jihadists in Myanmar [archive] and Sputnik’s similar claims blaming George Soros for it [archive] (sourcing a member of the same Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Institute of Sciences which publishes the Engdahl-affiliated New Eastern Outlook journal). Similar material [archiveappears[archiveon Katehon too [archive]. Global Research posted similar articles by the New Eastern Outlook journal [archive], the Land Destroyer Report [archive] (a conspiracist [archiveblog [archivewith far-right leanings [archiveaffiliated to the New Eastern Outlook and linking to Webster Tarpley’s and William Engdahl’s websites [archive]) and by Mint Press News[archive] (a confusionnist website publishing Holocaust denier Anthony Hall [archive], National Bolshevik Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya [archive] and the fascist New Eastern Outlook[archive], Rothschild conspiracy theories [archive], Soros conspiracy theories [archive], HAARP conspiracy theories[archive], 9/11 Trutherism [archive], anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories which quote white nationalist Breitbart[archive] among others, while attempting to brand itself as a progressive news outlet, and its list of staff members and contributors is itself a strange red-brown list of fascists and leftists [archive]) around this same time.

Caleb Maupin

Another strange WWP member is Caleb Maupin, who has been involved with Webster Tarpley’s Tax Wall Street Party more than once [archive]. He has been writing for the New Eastern Outlook journal affiliated to Tarpley’s associate William Engdahl since June 2014, and spoke [archive] at the Third International New Horizons conference in Tehran. Among the attendants and speakers of the conference were leftists like CodePink founder Medea Benjamin, and Cambodian genocide denier Gareth Porter as well as fascists (most of whom were invited by Hamed Ghasghavi [archive], a contributor to many far-right websites like Veterans Today, Cercle des Volontaires and Katehon) such as:

Kevin Barrett

Wayne Madsen

Kenneth O’Keefe, a former anti-war activist who became an anti-Semite and associate of David Duke and Gilad Atzmon

Thierry Meyssan

Gilles Munier, the leader of the pro-Saddam Hussein French-Iraqi Friendship Association, who is also close to Dieudonné’s and Soral’s Égalité et Réconciliation

Claudio Mutti

Claudio Moffa, a Holocaust denier and associate of French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson

Anthony James Hall

Mateusz Piskorski, a member of Polish fascist group Niklot, associate of Aleksandr Dugin and vice-director of the German Center for Eurasian Studies [archive]

Manuel Ochsenreiter, a host of Russian state-owned channel RT who was revealed to be the editor of a neo-Nazi magazine and the director of the German Center for Eurasian Studies [archive]

Imran Hosein

Leonid Savin, member of the Duginist International Eurasian Movement, chairman of the Ukrainian Eurasian Youth and editor of, a Duginist journal, who once attempted to infiltrate the leftist anti-globalization  People’s Global Action [archive].

It is with no surprise then that in 2016 Maupin wrote a book called Satan at the Fountainhead: The Israeli Lobby and the Financial Crisis, a book which blames the 2008 financial crisis on the Israeli lobby, which closer to the coded anti-Semitism of the likes of Kevin Barrett and LaRouche than a legitimate criticism of Israeli policies or a Marxist analysis of the crisis.

Maupin left the WWP that very same year, in 2016, and his present website features Lionel and lists the white nationalist American Free Press as part of its network.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Poverty of Philosophy by Karl Marx (1847).

It took three attempts over 30 years, but I finally started and finished The Poverty of Philosophy by Karl Marx (1847).

Marx is a demanding writer, and his scabrous style here can be confusing to the inattentive reader.

His nemesis here is Proudhon, a sanctimonious middle class tinkerer who wants to bring forth a peaceful society by elimination of contradictions. "Use only the positive aspects of every economic category," is his insight.

It does not take much effort to hear such sentiments echoed more recently than Proudhon's time.

Start the book, read it straight through without underlining anything. It takes about four hours. Then go back through to highlight Marx's illuminating lightning bolts.


14 January 2018


A few sections I highlighted:

….Up to now we have expounded only the dialectics of Hegel. We shall see later how M. Proudhon has succeeded in reducing it to the meanest proportions. Thus, for Hegel, all that has happened and is still happening is only just what is happening in his own mind. Thus the philosophy of history is nothing but the history of philosophy, of his own philosophy. There is no longer a "history according to the order in time," there is only "the sequence of ideas in the understanding." He thinks he is constructing the world by the movement of thought, whereas he is merely reconstructing systematically and classifying by the absolute method of thoughts which are in the minds of all.

Second Observation

Economic categories are only the theoretical expressions, the abstractions of the social relations of production, M. Proudhon, holding this upside down like a true philosopher, sees in actual relations nothing but the incarnation of the principles, of these categories, which were slumbering – so M. Proudhon the philosopher tells us – in the bosom of the "impersonal reason of humanity."

M. Proudhon the economist understands very well that men make cloth, linen, or silk materials in definite relations of production. But what he has not understood is that these definite social relations are just as much produced by men as linen, flax, etc. Social relations are closely bound up with productive forces. In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production; and in changing their mode of production, in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist.

The same men who establish their social relations in conformity with the material productivity, produce also principles, ideas, and categories, in conformity with their social relations.

Thus the ideas, these categories, are as little eternal as the relations they express. They are historical and transitory products.

There is a continual movement of growth in productive forces, of destruction in social relations, of formation in ideas; the only immutable thing is the abstraction of movement – mors immortalis….


….....Just as the economists are the scientific representatives of the bourgeois class, so the Socialists and Communists are the theoreticians of the proletarian class. So long as the proletariat is not yet sufficiently developed to constitute itself as a class, and consequently so long as the struggle itself of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie has not yet assumed a political character, and the productive forces are not yet sufficiently developed in the bosom of the bourgeoisie itself to enable us to catch a glimpse of the material conditions necessary for the emancipation of the proletariat and for the formation of a new society, these theoreticians are merely utopians who, to meet the wants of the oppressed classes, improvise systems and go in search of a regenerating science. But in the measure that history moves forward, and with it the struggle of the proletariat assumes clearer outlines, they no longer need to seek science in their minds; they have only to take note of what is happening before their eyes and to become its mouthpiece. So long as they look for science and merely make systems, so long as they are at the beginning of the struggle, they see in poverty nothing but poverty, without seeing in it the revolutionary, subversive side, which will overthrow the old society. From this moment, science, which is a product of the historical movement, has associated itself consciously with it, has ceased to be doctrinaire and has become revolutionary.

Let us return to M. Proudhon.

Every economic relation has a good and a bad side; it is the one point on which M. Proudhon does not give himself the lie. He sees the good side expounded by the economists; the bad side he sees denounced by the Socialists. He borrows from the economists the necessity of eternal relations; he borrows from the Socialists the illusion of seeing in poverty nothing but poverty. He is in agreement with both in wanting to fall back upon the authority of science. Science for him reduces itself to the slender proportions of a scientific formula; he is the man in search of formulas. Thus it is that M. Proudhon flatters himself on having given a criticism of both political economy and communism: he is beneath them both. Beneath the economists, since, as a philosopher who has at his elbow a magic formula, he thought he could dispense with going into purely economic details; beneath the socialists, because he has neither courage enough nor insight enough to rise, be it even speculatively, above the bourgeois horizon.

He wants to be the synthesis – he is a composite error.

He wants to soar as the man of science above the bourgeois and proletarians; he is merely the petty bourgeois, continually tossed back and forth between capital and labour, political economy and communism….


....Of all the towns in England, Bolton is the one in which the radicalism is the most developed. The Bolton workers are known to be the most revolutionary of all. At the time of the great agitation in England for the abolition of the Corn Laws, the English manufacturers thought that they could cope with the landowners only by thrusting the workers to the fore. But as the interests of the workers were no less opposed to those of the manufacturers than the interests of the manufacturers were to those of the landowners, it was natural that the manufacturers should fare badly in the workers' meetings. What did the manufacturers do? To save appearances they organized meetings composed, to a large extent, of foremen, of the small number of workers who were devoted to them, and of the real friends of trade. When later on the genuine workers tried, as in Bolton and Manchester, to take part in these sham demonstrations, in order to protest against them, they were forbidden admittance on the ground that it was a ticket meeting – a meeting to which only persons with entrance cards were admitted. Yet the posters placarded on the walls had announced public meetings. Every time one of these meetings was held, the manufacturers' newspapers gave a pompous and detailed account of the speeches made. It goes without saying that it was the foremen who made these speeches. The London papers reproduced them word for word. M. Proudhon has the misfortune to take foremen for ordinary workers, and enjoins them not to cross the Channel.

If in 1844 and 1845 strikes drew less attention than before, it was because 1844 and 1845 were the first two years of prosperity that British industry had had since 1837. Nevertheless none of the trades unions had been dissolved.

Now let us listen to the foremen of Bolton. According to them manufacturers have no command over wages because they have no command over the price of products, and they have no command over the price of products because they have no command over the world market. For this reason, they wish it to be understood that combinations should not be formed to extort an increase in wages from the masters. M. Proudhon, on the contrary, forbids combinations for fear they should be followed by a rise in wages which would bring with it a general dearth. We have no need to say that on one point there is an entente cordiale between the foremen and M. Proudhon: that a rise in wages is equivalent to a rise in the price of products.

But is the fear of a dearth the true cause of M. Proudhon's rancour? No. Quite simple, he is annoyed with the Bolton foremen because they determine value by supply and demand and hardly take any account of constituted value, of value which has passed into the state of constitution, of the constitution of value, including permanent exchangeability and all the other proportionalities of relations and relations of proportionality, with Providence at their side.

"A workers' strike is illegal, and it is not only the Penal Code that says so, it is the economic system, the necessity of the established order....

"That each worker individually should dispose freely over his person and his hands, this can be tolerated, but that workers should undertake by combination to do violence to monopoly, is something society cannot permit."

(Vol. I, pp. 334 and 335)

M. Proudhon wants to pass off an article of the Penal Code as a necessary and general result of bourgeois relations of production.

In England, combination is authorized by an Act of Parliament, and it is the economic system which has forced Parliament to grant this legal authorization. In 1825, when, under the Minister Huskisson, Parliament had to modify the law in order to bring it more and more into line with the conditions resulting from free competition, it had of necessity to abolish all laws forbidding combinations of workers. The more modern industry and competition develop, the more elements there are which call forth and strengthen combination, and as soon as combination becomes an economic fact, daily gaining in solidity, it is bound before long to become a legal fact.

Thus the article of the Penal Code proves at the most that modern industry and competition were not yet well developed under the Constituent Assembly and under the Empire. [1]

Economists and socialists [*1] are in agreement on one point: the condemnation of combination. Only they have different motives for their act of condemnation.

The economists say to workers:

Do not combine. By combination you hinder the regular progress of industry, you prevent manufacturers from carrying out their orders, you disturb trade and you precipitate the invasion of machines which, by rendering your labour in part useless, force you to accept a still lower wage. Besides, whatever you do, your wages will always be determined by the relation of hands demanded to hands supplied, and it is an effort as ridiculous as it is dangerous for you to revolt against the eternal laws of political economy.

The socialists say to the workers:

Do not combine, because what will you gain by it anyway? A rise in wages? The economists will prove to you quite clearly that the few ha'pence you may gain by it for a few moments if you succeed will be followed by a permanent fall. Skilled calculators will prove to you that it would take you years merely to recover, through the increase in your wages, the expenses incurred for the organization and upkeep of the combinations.

And we, as socialists, tell you that, apart from the money question, you will continue nonetheless to be workers, and the masters will still continue to be the masters, just as before. So no combination! No politics! For is not entering into combination engaging in politics?

The economists want the workers to remain in society as it is constituted and as it has been signed and sealed by them in their manuals.

The socialists want the workers to leave the old society alone, the better to be able to enter the new society which they have prepared for them with so much foresight.

In spite of both of them, in spite of manuals and utopias, combination has not yet ceased for an instant to go forward and grow with the development and growth of modern industry. It has now reached such a stage, that the degree to which combination has developed in any country clearly marks the rank it occupies in the hierarchy of the world market. England, whose industry has attained the highest degree of development, has the biggest and best organized combinations.

In England, they have not stopped at partial combinations which have no other objective than a passing strike, and which disappear with it. Permanent combinations have been formed, trades unions, which serve as ramparts for the workers in their struggles with the employers. And at the present time all these local trades unions find a rallying point in the National Association of United Trades, the central committee of which is in London, and which already numbers 80,000 members. The organization of these strikes, combinations, and trades unions went on simultaneously with the political struggles of the workers, who now constitute a large political party, under the name of Chartists.

The first attempt of workers to associate among themselves always takes place in the form of combinations....


The Left: 13 generalizations.

The Left: 13 generalizations.

1. No confidence in working class.

2. "It's not what you're for, it's what you're against."

3. Substitutiary locomotion: since the working class has failed to rise to the occasion, look to other forces: meritocratic NGOs, progressive labor unionists, Islamist philanthropic groups,
OWS, hackers.

4. Unprincipled "Whateverism" defined along an anti-American axis: we are all Bolivarians/Hezbollah/Correa/Ahmadinejad.

5. Programmatic "Whateverism." Equal social weight granted to all oppressed groups. Tailist approach to backwardness and spontaneity. Rhetorical word salads and politically correct obscurantist euphemisms.

6. Against extraction resources/fossil fuels. Opposition to nuclear power. Opposition to pipelines. Let the world's toilers eat cake.

7. Critical approach to meta-narratives like science. Skepticism about GMOs and vaccines.

8. Absolute anti-Zionism. The "Holocaust Industry." The "Israel Lobby."

9. Rejection of the Cuban road. Yes to Corbyn/Syriza/Podemos.

10. Hysterical responses to political events and election results. Chicken Littles.


Some additions from readers:

11. Shibboleths cooked up in the offices of campus professors; i.e., "White Privilege".  No training in a bona-fide mass movement (not necessarily any given persons fault).  Trained by academics with no connection to the working-class.

Of course, the one thing it's actually possible to shed, middle class privilege, by joining the working class, is the one the middle class left never considered doing.

12. Cannot understand why you shouldn't collaborate with rightist conspiracy theorists and Jew haters.

13. This could've used a mention of Maoism, which I'm convinced has had a tremendous impact on leftist vernacular.