Letters, Vol 8, No 15

Bolshevik Anniversary Conference: “A Great Play, Where I Was an Actor”

LOS ANGELES, USA— “I want to continue discussing the idea of going directly from capitalism to communism,” said an MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) mechanic who was born and raised in socialist Russia.

The conference to honor and analyze the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was an ideological advance for the MTA workers.

Attendees, mechanics and drivers, actively participated by expressing their doubts and giving examples of how some aspects of communism might work better.

The most important thing is that their enthusiasm has continued since the conference. They are more willing to be involved in spreading communist ideas.

During a meeting after the conference, many wished to continue talking about the topics that were discussed at the conference. One worker said, “What most impressed me was the way the participants seriously discussed how relations would work in communism. The question of basic services, work relationships, and the most interesting was how to live without money. It was like attending a great play, but where I was an actor. I see that there is a plan and that if everyone pushes, it has to work.”

Two workers of the six at the meeting were self-critical for not having participated in the conference. One comrade was criticized, as constructively as we could, to help him advance politically. This co-worker has committed to writing a letter expressing his contradictions as a way to find a collective solution, to help other clubs advance the ideological struggle.

In general, the club and the base of the party at MTA are encouraged and ready to follow in the Bolsheviks’ footsteps. We will overcome their weaknesses without ever forgetting the great historic advance of the revolution of industrial workers, soldiers, farmworkers, students, teachers, the whole working class of 1917.

—MTA Comrade

We Want Equality

I really liked the celebration because it’s important to celebrate the dates that have marked the history of poor people, of all working people. I learned a lot Communism is important because we will all be united. There won’t be rich people or poor people.

Inequality isn’t good, because there are people who think that they’re better than others because they have a lot of money or because of the color of their skin. We want equality. We will have a better world, we will be all united and we’ll be very happy.

One question I have is this—when we have communism will it be necessary to study to get a diploma?

—A high school student

Imperialism in Persian Gulf Region

 

Saudi Arabia, with the support of the US military, is carrying out war against the people of Yemen. Over 10,000 people have been killed and a million have cholera. UN food and medical aid was just allowed back into Yemen, but tens of millions remain at risk of famine.

This war against the people of Yemen and the supporters of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, has been going on since 2015.

At the same time, the Saudi government has pressured the Lebanese Prime Minister to resist the influence of Iran’s proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon and the region.

Saudi Arabia also has led an international campaign to isolate and destabilize the nation of Qatar. Most recently, Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman led the arrests of allegedly 500 Saudis for corruption.

This is a regional offensive of Saudi Arabia to re-impose US imperialist domination into the Gulf states through Saudi Arabian economic and political aggression and military brutality.

Saudi Arabia’s attack on Lebanon, as well as the war against Yemen and the Houthi resistance, has received support from the Zionist apartheid state of Israel. Israel also supports Saudi Arabia’s blockade and attacks on Qatar and Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based news organization. US imperialism abetted Saudi attacks on Qatar, after Donald Trump’s visit to the gulf state in mid-2017.

US power has declined in the Middle East in the aftermath of its invasion of Iraq. Iran is the real winner and the Saudis are engaged in a multi-front campaign to combat their ascendance. Is this a proxy struggle between the US and Russia? Between the US and China?

There is nothing in the Saudi action, or in the actions of the imperialists or the region’s dictators, that is in the interest of the working class of the nations, regions, or world. Only the joint actions of urban and rural workers, soldiers and intellectuals can create the analysis, build the organizations, and engage in struggle that put an end to the monarchy of Saudi Arabia and all capitalist rulers. Fighting for communism is the only way to put an end to the devastation caused by capitalist competition and imperialist wars.

—West Coast (US) comrades

Two Questions from a Reader

I must admit that there are things in communism that I agree with and there are other things that I do not agree with. I will initially talk first about the aspects that I agree with.

I must agree with the idea that capitalism is not a suitable system for those who want an equal society with no poverty and racism where there is not a single person who is exploited. And I also agree that socialism is another form of capitalism and that it can’t eradicate wars, poverty and exploitation and capitalist brutality.

However I think that communism is failing to take in to account that we are different and we have cultures and as Africans we have traditional beliefs. So I think it is wrong for communism to just dismiss them as same other form of idealism, I need clarity in these two questions that I have

The first one is whether there is a space for people like me in this communist society you want to establish, people who believe in ancestors and who still practice African traditions?

And the second one is whether there is space for people who are gay in communist society because it speaks on how people will live. Thanks comrades.

—A reader in South Africa

Who’s Stealing from Whom?

“If someone takes an orange from an orchard, is that not stealing? We are doing the same thing that is criticized,” said a student while we worked in a field. Someone else said, “It’s not the same if you take it from a tree that’s on the mountain and not from another tree that’s near the house.” The student replied, “The action is the same, it’s theft”.

I commented that in the case of the orange, it was an act of necessity and not theft. We were working on the mountain; we ran out of water; it was high noon and the heat was reaching the maximum temperature. Therefore, you took the orange to fill a need knowing that only the birds would eat it. Or would you respect the “capitalist morality” that told you it was theft, and not eat it?

The discussion was broadened to topics related to capitalism and all the bad things it is doing to the environment and to the people. Another student said, “Let’s make a new party or group to fight against it.”

These are good opportunities to present the communist line, either in the moment or later. For example, in a communist society no one will own a plot or “country.” What we have will be used to produce to meet the needs of everyone. The bosses tell us about respecting private property and not stealing. But the real thieves are the bosses, their governments, their banks and their factories, who steal the labor of the worker.

I have sharpened the struggle with two co-workers. They appear to be won to anti-class ideas and liberal behavior. but I have told them that class feelings make us more similar than different.

A student wrote me his ideas about how he sees the mobilization of the masses and his contradiction with communism. With him I already started a series of discussions to clarify some of those ideas.

I’m working in a fertile field of ideological struggles. Join the struggle for a Communist society, where our behavior will be guided by communist principles that will favor all our brothers and sisters of the international working class.

—Comrade in Mexico

How Communists Can Give Anti-Racist Leadership

A reader asked (last issue) some specific questions about reform struggles.

The picture of “Water Protectors” supporters taking Red Flag shows ICWP in relation to a reform struggle. We’re in them to meet folks who are interested in communism and to build our confidence that masses can be won to mobilize for it.

The reader asked why we focus on “defensive” struggles instead of raising “offensive” demands against imperialism, like the Vietnam-

war era fight to end officer training on US campuses. Reform struggles are always defensive, especially during periods of global capitalist crisis.

US students responded to US imperialism’s genocidal offensive against the Vietnamese masses by showing that their universities were complicit in it. To go on the offensive politically, they should have argued more boldly for defeating imperialism with communist revolution.

The reader’s “more important question” is about how committed communists give leadership to friends. These friends might agree with some communist ideas (like “the Marxist conception of race”) but be unwilling to advocate communist revolution. This really is important! Most of us need to do it much better. But how?

We used to think that the main aspect of the communist line on racism was that it’s rooted in capitalism. That capitalism uses racism to divide the working class politically while reaping super-profits from super-oppressed sections of our class. The reader’s letter below implies this.

Now we see that the main aspect of the communist line on racism is that communism can end racism – when masses defy the bosses’ racism and mobilize collectively for communism. When we ask friends and comrades to distribute Red Flag, that’s the theory we’re asking them to test: are masses open to a communist line?

Friends who won’t do that, or even come watch us do it, can certainly still take advantage of opportunities to see that anti-racist class solidarity is possible. And many do. But they are testing secondary, not primary, aspects of the communist line. We need to “keep our eyes on the prize” (communism) even when they don’t.

—California (US) comrade

Marxism Versus Liberalism on Race and Racism

Class struggle is, under appropriate conditions, a school for communism. Communists should urge their non-communist friends to attend.

These friends must be clear about how liberals and Marxists differ about race and racism. The liberal position comes in lots of flavors. All say that racism is bad but it’s a natural position for whichever ‘race’ is more favorably situated. That’s because in the short run at least they benefit from their ‘white skin privilege.’

Of course, longer-term consideration and moral reflection can make it rational for some whites to abandon their privilege. This view is almost always associated with some level of contempt for working people (or at least for working class whites).

Educated middle-class liberal whites think that they can pretty easily recognize the moral and longer-term political advantages of being anti-racists. On the other hand, they think it’s much harder for working-class whites to reject the short-term advantages of their ‘white-skin privilege’ unless, perhaps, some charismatic Democratic Party politician moves them with anti-racist patriotic oratory.

Anti-racists who are influenced by the liberal conception of racism and sexism (and by the identity politics that goes with it) will think that white anti-racists objectively benefit from racism. This implies they are only reliable as ‘allies’ of black or Hispanic or Asian people and have no business playing any leadership role. If anti-racists ignore this liberal restriction they can be subjected to harsh criticism.

According to the Marxist position, there are, indeed, longer-term and moral considerations favoring opposition to racism, but liberals are wrong in every other respect.   Whites do not as a group benefit from racism.

Even when whites are afforded somewhat better salaries or opportunities or rights than blacks they would always be better off if racism were to some extent overcome and greater interracial solidarity prevailed. An example is in the Virginia colony when racist laws were introduced to divide European indentured servants from African slaves. That’s how capitalist markets (and politics) work. There is no white-skin privilege to acknowledge.

Not only do most whites have an abstract interest in opposing racism, they’re fully capable of understanding that this is so when the case is carefully made and they’re invited to participate (and take initiative in) anti-racist struggles.

It will matter a lot for non-communists trying to apply (and thus test) the Marxist approach to anti-racist struggles that they have as good an understanding as possible of that position.

—Anti-racist reader

Front page of this issue

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail