Friday, March 30, 2012

United vs Popular front: How to relate to the Democrats?

Don't let the name of this post fool you; there is no reason to ever consider the adoption of Popular Front tactics.

But let's back up for a moment.

The rise of fascism in Europe caught everyone off guard.  From the time the Italian fascists became organized under Mussolini to the time they assumed power in Italy was about two years.  At no point was there any wide-spread effective resistance to the fascist onslaught.

The various Communist and Social Democracy sects were horrified by the obliteration of all Left (as well as most Right groups also, for the fascists are not content with half-measures, but now I'm getting distracted) and working class organizations in Italy in so short a time and in such a bloody manner.  In response, four general strategies were eventually put forward as a way of fighting back.

The concept of 'fighting', of course, being subjective.

Strategy: Quick, to the constitution!
Early (pre-Second World War) Twentieth Century marxist political parties can be divided into the categories of "reformist" and "revolutionary."  When confronted with the Stormtroopers the reformist parties of Germany and elsewhere retreated into the realm of government bureaucracy and constitutional handwringing.

For the Social Democrats of Germany this took the form of the so-called Iron Front.  The line of thinking was a simple as it was naive.

"The constitution guarantees a wide range of political and social freedoms.  We have the massive strength and resources of the working class as our base of support and the power of various police forces and parliamentary positions at our disposal.  Therefore, all we need to do is wait for this fascist 'fad' to pass!"

Needless to say, this failed.  Turns out that Hitler wasn't particularly fond of the Constitution.

Strategy: Fascists? What fascists?
Want to see a magic trick?

"The fascists are the party of bourgeois counter-revolution.  The Social Democrats are (de facto) the parliamentary screen for bourgeois negation of working class discontent.  Therefore, the fascists and the Social Democrats are the same thing!"

Thus the theory of "Social Fascism" was born.  The abominable child of the Stalinist clique in the USSR (which had taken power and purged all internal dissent at this point), Social Fascism was their first attempt to grapple with the lessons learned from the defeat of the communists in Italy.  Needless to say, they learned all the wrong lessons.

Operating under the theory of Social Fascism the official Communist party in Germany proceeded to act like the party of total lunatics; unsurprising given who was leading them at this point.  By holding that the Social Democrats were synonymous with the fascists the Communists completely isolated themselves from the overwhelming majority of german workers who were united under the Social Democratic banner!

In the end the Communists were one of the few groups who bravely took the fighting to the streets against the fascists in 1933, and many of the rank and file gave their lives in the struggle.  If only that energy hadn't been so thoroughly misspent by the assholes in Moscow.

For more info:

Strategy: This does not have to happen.
Which brings us to the United Front.

Trotsky, as well as other leaders of the anti-Stalinist "Bolshevik-Leninist Left Opposition" in exile, put forward the doctrine of the United Front as their solution to the fascist problem.  Recognizing that although the Social Demorcats ("marxists in name only") and Nazis were both parties that represented the bourgeoisie, they also contained fatally irreconcilable contradictions between the two of them which put them violently at odds.  This in addition to the fact that the Social Democrats had the working class locked up behind them opened up an amazing opportunity for the Communists and other revolutionaries.

Trotsky argued that by publicly calling for full cooperation with the Social Democrats on specific pragmatic goals in the fight against fascism the Communists could reveal the hypocrisy of the Social Democratic leadership, awaken the working classes to action, and obliterate the fascists by drawing the workers into revolutionary struggle.

In order for this to work all members of the United Front would have to maintain full political and organizational independence, except obviously on the specific points where they agreed to cooperate, and retain the right to criticize their allies.

This doctrine was rooted in the fact that the workers of Germany were overwhelming opposed to the fascists, but were held inert and discontented because the Social Democrats feared awakening the working class to direct action, because it would lead to revolutionary fever and threaten their privileged positions within the various bourgeois organizations (parliament, trade union officialdom, etc), and instead redirected the energy of the masses into elections.

By publicly agitating for sensible direct actions against the fascists the Communists would have had the potential to either build a mass movement that would have forced the Social Democratic leadership to engage directly in the life and death struggle against the fascists, or to tear the working class out from under the Social Democrats and into the arms of true revolutionary leadership.

At this point in time Trotsky still seemed to naively trust that the Communists had good intentions despite Stalinist malpractice; within a decade Stalin would have Trotsky murdered anyways, Trotsky who had founded the Red Army and fought alongside Lenin in the 1917 revolution.

Nonetheless the United Front was the only sensible option on the table, and under the leadership of the Left Opposition rather than the Stalinists the Communist Party may have had a strong chance of winning in Germany.

Strategy: Fascists? OH FUCK FASCISTS!
Never somebody to allow an excellent idea go un-ruined Stalin eventually adopted a form of the United Front, following the victory of the Nazis, and rebranded it as the Popular Front.  Instead of limiting cooperation to specific points and retaining independence and the right to criticize, Stalin's formulation demanded total subservience of foreign Communist Parties to anyone who would take up arms against the fascists.

The disastrous results of this are too numerous to recount here.

Bringing it home: What does this have to do with the Democrats?
Leading up the mid-1930s the Communist Party in the United States of America had done a lot of excellent work.  They led the fight against racism in the worker's movement and were one of the only organizations that never compromised on refusing to segregate any part of their organization, and many Blacks became leaders in the highest positions of power within the party.  They were staunch opponents to both the Republican and Democrat parties and refused to compromise or back down on issues of austerity measures or the rights of workers, women (for the most part), and minorities.  They fought against the corrupted union bureaucracy and served as a catalyst for many of the most important strikes and factory sit-ins of the time period.

Then the Popular Front ruined everything.  Because the Stalinists needed the Roosevelt White House on its side in the fight against fascism the US branch of the Communist party was ordered to throw its full support behind the Democrats.  Overnight the Communists disowned all of their accomplishments and towed the Democratic party line on every issue without complaint or reservation.

This was particularly horrendous in the fight for Black equality, which suffered a fatal setback for decades with the de-radicalization of an entire generation of disillusioned Black revolutionaries who were betrayed by the Communists.  (Well, I'm oversimplifying a bit, there was a lot that happened to the Black liberation movement during that time, but you get the general idea.)

None of this helped the Communists following the war when the Truman administration led the purges of the Communists from American public life; all of their former allies turned against them because of their betrayals during the Popular Front phase.

But this is the general story of the Left in the United States.  The Democrats thrive on cannibalizing leftist organizations.  First the Populists, then Communists, now the equal rights and environmentalist and Union activists are all sucked into the Dems' camp by simply pointing a step to the right and screaming "look they're scary!"  In return for their unwavering support the Dems give them: nothing.  The Dems are the party of seemingly perpetual half-heartedness and compromise.  Because every election is the choice between evils, every vote against the Dems is "a vote for the Republicans," the Dems are free to court Wall Street and perpetuate Endless War and cave in to the creeps in the socially conservative lobbies.

The American Democrats are "the second most enthusiastic capitalist party in history" and wear that badge with pride.  They support union rights as long as the unions only want the right to campaign for the Democrats.  They support women's rights when the voting demographics show that it's a winning campaign issue, and only to the extent that they are forced to.  The Democrats whine about Neocon insanity under a Republican president and then entrench and codify the same "shredding of the constitution" and "senseless imperialism" as soon as they are elected.

The Republicans aren't fascists, but they are a party of extreme right-wing insanity.  The American Democrats aren't the German Social Democrats, but they are close enough to serve our purposes.

The argument goes that we need to support the Democrat leadership, that we can pull them to the left over time.  This is patently just drivel.  If the Democrats truly want support against the right-wing that's nice, I'll support that.  But we on the Left cannot continue to surrender our independence, our energy and organizational integrity to the Democrats every time they scream "It's an election and we're the lesser of evils!"

If they want our support they will have to take action that we can support.  They must take seriously universal healthcare, worker's rights, electoral reform and true universal suffrage, equality regardless of gender, creed, ethnicity or nationality, end the war on drugs, the war on Muslims, and a million other things they pay lip service to.

Reverse the usual agitprop and look at it this way: if the Democratic leadership wants to win the fight against the Republican insanity they are going to need us.  We, the workers, the poor, the students, everyone who wants a better world, must make it clear that the Democrats will need to join our United Front.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It's hard to watch, but I can't look away.

Sure it's an airbrushed view of war presented for the purposes of glorifying western imperialism and allowing wanna-be SEALS to vicariously sate their blood-lust.

I still can't stop watching the videos from this Youtube channel.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Our Proud Democracy

Oh dear god make it stop.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Scream motherfucking DOOM!" And other juvenile bs

  • I'm replaying the Homeworld series, switching between all three games (the 'core' two and the expansion to the first).  The games are all fun, but the singleplayer campaigns feel horribly unfinished.  The missions all rely too heavily on gimmicks and the gameplay never becomes as fleshed out or involving as the skirmish or multiplayer modes.
  • A while ago I freaked out because a bunch of people were murdered in Afghanistan, ostensibly in retaliation for korans [sic?] being desecrated.  Looking back, I feel like a fool who got suckered into believing mindless propaganda.  It sucks that people were killed and I have nothing but contempt for religious freaks, but the Afghans weren't driven to that level of rage because of foreign soldiers callously gunning down books.
  • Have I already posted this quote by Kevin Phillips (one of the jackasses who helped develop the Republican 'Southern Strategy')? - "Part of the reason that the U.S. 'survival of the fittest' periods of economic restructuring are so relentless rests on the performance of the Democrats as history's second-most enthusiastic capitalist party.  They do not interfere much with capitalism's momentum, but wait for the excesses and the inevitable populist reaction."
  • Went to a coffee shop today, and the cash register broke down so the person gave me a free cup of coffee.  So that was nice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Has your highway been blessed?

From the Guardian:
Polk County's Highway 98 was first blessed a year ago by a local church group wanting to prevent sinners and wrongdoers from entering the community. 
Annoyed by the appropriation of the public highway by those of a religious bent, humanists took to the street last weekend to symbolically wash away the anointment oil. 
Now, not to be outdone, the group behind the initial ceremony have indicated they will re-bless the road – but they are not saying when.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012



(click the link before you judge me)

"our whole planet is our homeland"

Short video, pretty grim, go watch it anyways.

Friday, March 9, 2012

So True!

If you want an idea what its like interacting with various socialist/communist groups, watch this:

I am, of course, a real socialist.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

This is literal fascism (Small update)

This will probably seem incomprehensible if you aren't up-to-date on your Marxist lingo, but it is still required reading.

So here's a quick primer:

  • Bourgeoisie - The dominant class in a Capitalist society, notable for their complete control (whether de facto or de jure) over the 'means of production' (the industrial, agricultural, and financial sectors).
  • Petty bourgeoisie - The lower sub-classes of the bourgeoisie; the "middle classes", the low-ranking professional bureaucrats, depending on the context this can also include the soldiers and police.
  • Bourgeois dictatorship - Because the bourgeoisie dominates all of the most important parts of society, their rule is essentially a dictatorship of and for their class.
  • Proletariat - The "producing" or "working" class.  These are the factory workers, the miners, the field hands on large-scale industrial farms; any industrial worker in a fully developed capitalist system.  (Maoism, in addition to being a bat-shit cult of personality, is notable for its focus on the peasantry rather than the proletarian.)
  • Lumpenproletariat - Depending on who the writer is, this one will have one of a multitude of definitions.The dispossessed workers, the structurally unemployed, the "ghetto youth" who nobody will hire, the criminal underclasses, military mutineers... I'm honestly not sure what exactly Trotsky means with his use of this word, but you get the general idea.
What follows are excerpts from "Fascism" What it is and how to fight it", which can be read in full here -(

Seriously, go read the full thing.

(Update: Rereading this post I realized that the stuff I highlighted makes it sound like I'm trying to say that the US is already fascist, which would be absurd.  Those are just points I found interesting.)

Here's part of the 1969 Introduction:
Liberals and even most of those who consider themselves Marxists are guilty of using the world fascist very loosely today. They fling it around as an epithet or political swearword against right-wing figures whom they particularly despise, or against reactionaries in general.
Since WWII, the fascist label has been applied to such figures and movements as Gerald L. K. Smith, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Senator Eastland, Barry Goldwater, the Minutemen, the John Birch Society, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Wallace.
Now, were all these fascist, or just some? If only some, then how does one tell which are and which aren't?
The rest is by Trotsky, and was written during the 1930s.  Emphasis added:

At the moment that the "normal" police and military resources of the bourgeois dictatorship, together with their parliamentary screens, no longer suffice to hold society in a state of equilibrium -- the turn of the fascist regime arrives. Through the fascist agency, capitalism sets in motion the masses of the crazed petty bourgeoisie and the bands of declassed and demoralized lumpenproletariat -- all the countless human beings whom finance capital itself has brought to desperation and frenzy. 
From fascism the bourgeoisie demands a thorough job; once it has resorted to methods of civil war, it insists on having peace for a period of years. And the fascist agency, by utilizing the petty bourgeoisie as a battering ram, by overwhelming all obstacles in its path, does a thorough job. After fascism is victorious, finance capital directly and immediately gathers into its hands, as in a vise of steel, all the organs and institutions of sovereignty, the executive administrative, and educational powers of the state: the entire state apparatus together with the army, the municipalities, the universities, the schools, the press, the trade unions, and the co-operatives. When a state turns fascist, it does not mean only that the forms and methods of government are changed in accordance the patterns set by Mussolini -- the changes in this sphere ultimately play a minor role -- but it means first of all for the most part that the workers' organizations are annihilated; that the proletariat is reduced to an amorphous state; and that a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallization of the proletariat. Therein precisely is the gist of fascism....
And also:

Two years after its inception, fascism was in power. It entrenched itself thanks to the facts the first period of its overlordship coincided with a favorable economic conjuncture, which followed the depression of 1921-22. The fascists crushed the retreating proletariat by the onrushing forces of the petty bourgeoisie. But this was not achieved at a single blow. Even after he assumed power, Mussolini proceeded on his course with due caution: he lacked as yet ready-made models. During the first two years, not even the constitution was altered. The fascist government took on the character of a coalition. In the meantime, the fascist bands were busy at work with clubs, knives, and pistols. Only thus was the fascist government created slowly, which meant the complete strangulation of all independent mass organizations. 
Mussolini attained this at the cost of bureaucratizing the fascist party itself. After utilizing the onrushing forces of the petty bourgeoisie, fascism strangled it within the vise of the bourgeois state. Mussolini could not have done otherwise, for the disillusionment of the masses he had united was precipitating itself into the most immediate danger ahead. Fascism, become bureaucratic, approaches very closely to other forms of military and police dictatorship. It no longer possesses its former social support. The chief reserve of fascism -- the petty bourgeoisie -- has been depicted. Only historical inertia enables the fascist government to keep the proletariat in a state of dispersion and helplessness....
Also good reading on the subject is Trotsky's "Fascism, Stalinism and the United Front".

The silence is horrifying.

What.  The.  Fuck.

Emphasis in original:

 But the crux of Holder’s argument as set forth in yesterday’s speech is this:
Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces. This is simply not accurate. “Due process” and “judicial process” are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.

So that is the “process” which Eric Holder yesterday argued constitutes “due process” as required by the Fifth Amendment before the government can deprive of someone of their life: the President and his underlings are your accuser, your judge, your jury and your executioner all wrapped up in one, acting in total secrecy and without your even knowing that he’s accused you and sentenced you to death, and you have no opportunity even to know about, let alone confront and address, his accusations; is that not enough due process for you? At Esquire, Charles Pierce, writing about Holder’s speech, described this best: “a monumental pile of crap that should embarrass every Democrat who ever said an unkind word about John Yoo.”
All of this reminds me of a song, "Silence is Deafening".

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"We will always reject the notion that Zionism is racism."

"We will always reject the notion that Zionism is racism." - President Obama.

He's also awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the Israeli president.

Also from the same Guardian article (emphasis added):
Obama sounds unusually defensive for a US president in stating his support of Israel – a reflection not only of the attacks from Republicans accusing him of endangering Israel by not pressing Iran hard enough but also because of Obama's earlier pressure on Netanyahu to halt settlement construction in the occupied territories and to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians.
Remember kids, Zionism isn't racist, it just means the Palestinians need to get the fuck out of their homes so that the Jews can live there.


In an early post I remarked, rather tactfully, "FUCK THE IDF."  That's not 100% fair I've decided, since the IDF relies so heavily on conscripted soldiers.   I despise the Israeli leadership to no end, but I wish nothing but the best for the vast majority of Israelis.

I just wish they'd get over their racist bullshit.


Damnit.  Mass Effect 2 is one of my favorite videogames, and yet I somehow missed this:
Only Shepard's "magic penis" can cure the "badass biotic bitch."
hmmm ok, maybe you need a bit more context:
Players who play a female Shepard or choose to romance another character will find that after a certain point Jack shuts down, and her character's progression stops. After helping the character complete her loyalty mission, the only way to help Jack reach some sort of closure like every other character does is to sleep with her.
More fair criticism of the sexism in ME2 at

How to kill a revolution.

The best way to kill a revolution?  Peace and prosperity.  Sans any peace I'd still happily go for a bit of prosperity right now.

My bet is that the recovery short-lived, but even if it's permanent I still think dramatic changes are needed.  For instance, Obama is a hack who should be run out of office.

It is infuriating to no end that I'm probably going to end up voting Democrat again purely out of fear.