As the socialist wave grows larger every day, especially among the youth, political debates are reaching a new level of heat for many of us. I recently got into the umpteenth debate about capitalism and communism with a friend, and ever since I turned Marxist-Leninist a few months ago, I realized that my friend, who had actually helped me become politically active in the first place, is but a liberal, just like the political activists I had once idolized with him.
To be clear, all liberals are not the same. All communists of today started out as liberals and we have all benefited from the changes that liberal politics ushered into our modern middle-class society. The only liberals I have a problem with are those who parade as intellectuals (they’re not) and who refuse to embrace communism as the next step in their social evolution. There is no denying that liberal politics has woken up a generation of today’s youth to the reality of racism, sexism, and gender discrimination but where it has failed is in waking us up to the reality of capitalism, neoliberalism, and imperialism.
The Problem of the Liberal Centrist Camp
Before I proceed further, I will make a distinction between the two kinds of liberals that I have come across so far. The first kind are those who clutch to their precious free markets and support the likes of Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton without realizing that these are war criminals. The second kind of liberals are those who do criticize capitalism, neoliberalism, and imperialism but ideologically align with the likes of Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, Arundhati Roy, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, etc., mistaking them to be Leftists. This article is primarily a message to the second kind of liberals.
Political activists like Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, and Arundhati Roy have helped thousands of people across the world understand the injustice of our society that stems from the greed for wealth and power of politicians and big businesses. They have exposed the exploitation, oppression, and killing of innocent people through wars and state brutality. In this regard, they have been excellent gateways for budding Leftists and have inspired young people to be brave and passionate in the fight for equality but what is also common to such activists is the “centrist camp.”
These activists and “intellectuals” have fiercely and repeatedly criticized governments, businesses, and fascist right-wing groups. They have written books, attended protests, and appeared on shows. But in spite of all this activism, it is evident that what they really specialize in is merely criticism and not revolutionary practice. And this is what frustrates me the most about the liberals who idolize these activists – they align themselves with the politics of paralysis and not praxis.
When I say the politics of paralysis, I do not mean politics that fails to mobilize but that which leads to a dead-end. Such a dead-end is the result of criticizing capitalism to our heart’s content but never accepting the solution to the problem. For there is one, and only one, solution to capitalism and that is communism. And these activists, while quite sympathetic to their misconceived notions of socialism, are quite anti-communist in their words and deeds, much to the frustration of actual Leftists.
It is a joke to call Noam Chomsky the world’s foremost intellectual. Since when is removing hunger and illiteracy, improving healthcare and technology, and treating women and blacks with equality “fake socialism”? The only reason the US government gives Chomsky the space to criticize them is that he is an unrelenting critic of the Soviet Union and the US government understands very well the massive threat to capitalism that Soviet communism posed. The Soviet Union was the world’s first successful socialist experiment on a national level and remains a beacon of hope for communists even today. (I use socialism interchangeably with communism because, in Marxist-Leninist theory, socialism is the lower phase of communism, the transition phase in society between capitalism and communism.)
Please do not be swayed by her sympathy or support for Maoists in India. Her sympathy does not mean much to the Maoists if she doesn’t become part of their resistance. Does she even understand communism and in particular, Maoism? Will she still sympathize with the communists if they take over India, overthrow the government, and institute a one-party system, or will she decry them as undemocratic? Will she still support them when they abolish private media or will she denounce them as dictators? More importantly, will she support the Maoists in permanent revolution and small-scale industry? Is this a leading “intellectual” of our times, someone who thinks that “communist movements in history have been just as destructive as capitalism”? To quote Alain Badiou, comparing the death tolls of communism to the death tolls of capitalism is a sign of “extreme intellectual poverty”. Millions of communists voluntarily gave up their lives to make this world a better place for us and not only have we failed them, we also insult their memory by making it seem that they were just as power hungry and bloodthirsty as capitalists.
Criticizing capitalism does not require one to be a genius and is definitely not enough to give these activists celebrity status. There are other prominent figures like Michael Parenti and William Blum who have also fiercely criticized capitalism, neoliberalism, imperialism, and in particular the US government. But they do not stop at criticizing capitalism, they tell the world that there is a tried and tested solution that has worked for hundreds of millions of people, and that solution is socialism. They tell the people why socialist countries are forced to turn authoritarian in a world dominated by the US, the world’s foremost anti-communist terrorist nation. Is it any wonder why are these activists not given the celebrity status by bourgeois liberal media?
To say that one is anti-capitalism but not pro-communism is like saying one is anti-sexism but not pro-feminism. There is no being anti-capitalist in practice if we do not become communists, just like there is no fighting sexism if we do not become feminists. It is as binary and simple as that.
No need to reinvent the wheel
To understand feminist theories, we have read writers such as Simone de Beauvoir and Gloria Steinem. We have delved into the history of the development of feminism, from Emmeline Pankhurst to Maya Angelou. We have read Margaret Atwood and listened to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and been inspired by them. We have supported the #MeToo movement in its fight against sexism and misogyny as part of our feminist practice. But then, why does our fight against capitalism exclude our education in Marxism, the only successful form of socialism to have ever been developed in human history? Why does our praxis against capitalism exclude supporting Actually Existing Socialist states like China and the DPRK? Even a layperson knows that to understand socialism, one has to start with Marxism but unfortunately, our “intellectual elite” would rather have us read the sham socialist George Orwell instead of Lenin.
The theory, applications, and outcomes of capitalism and socialism have been studied and researched in great detail. Intellectuals like Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Che Guevara, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Thomas Sankara, Ho Chi Minh, Rosa Luxemburg, and many other revolutionary leaders had dedicated their entire lives to the development of socialist theory. They had tirelessly poured over history and economics to teach us about historical materialism, dialectical materialism, and theories of labor value. They took theory to practice and successfully implemented socialism in their countries, achieving feats for their people that capitalism can never match. Here’s a very brief overview of what some of the socialist states have done for their working class:
Cuba: The literacy rate in Cuba is nearly 100%. Healthcare in Cuba is free, one of the finest, and universal. In a world where capitalist countries are accelerating devastating climate change despite, Cuba is leading the world in environmental protection. Cuba is also one of the first countries to have legalized same-gender sex, way back in 1979 and 24 years before the United States. Cuba is the world leader in the ratio of doctors to the population. Fidel Castro had helped tens of African countries in their struggle for liberation against imperialism, including the South African fight against apartheid.
China: The Western capitalists view China’s success as a result of capitalism and Western Leftists view China as a betrayal of socialism. Both are hugely mistaken in their analyses for it is Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, rooted in Marxism-Leninism, which is responsible for its growth. Labor wages in China have grown by 100% from 2011 to 2018 compared to the measly 1%-2% yearly average in the world. As of 2018, China had uplifted 740 million citizens out of abject poverty, which is a huge contribution to world poverty reduction, too. In 1950, when the Communist Party liberated China, the average lifespan was 35 years and literacy rate was around 14%. 26 years later, average lifespan had doubled to 70 and literacy levels had gone up to around 80%.
DPRK (North Korea): Literacy in the DPRK is also around 100%. The DPRK government abolished direct income tax of its citizens in 1974. Healthcare in the DPRK is a leading source of inspiration for all developing countries. Healthcare is entirely free and with one doctor for every 130 families. There is no homelessness in the DPRK. Housing is public and free. Crimes are almost non-existent, which makes the police force minimal and nearly unrequired. All theme parks, museums, and public infrastructure is available free of cost to the citizens.
The Soviet Union: The USSR was the first non-black country to give equal rights to blacks. Starvation and illiteracy were unknown throughout the country. Agriculture was completely collectivized and extremely productive. Preventive healthcare was the finest in the world, and medical treatment of exceptionally high quality was available free to all citizens. Education at all levels was free. More books were published in the USSR than in any other country. There was also no unemployment.
Given such accomplishments of socialist states, does it not make sense to at least read Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Kim Il Sung, and Kim Jong Il before rejecting their variety of communism? What socialist theory, economics, and philosophy have our liberal intellectuals read before rejecting communism as the answer to the problem of capitalism? I understand that we have been the target of brainwashing and anti-communist propaganda for over half a century but have these “intellectuals” never felt the curiosity to investigate how such socialist states achieved such impressive feats in healthcare, education, and economic production? Before denouncing the “authoritarianism” of socialism, have they not wondered why every socialist country turns authoritarian?
Communism is a spectrum and communists are not a monolith. There have been opportunists, sham socialists, and corrupt communists throughout history. But let us take a look at feminist history. Has feminism always been pure and untainted in practice? The first and second wave of feminists excluded the rights of women of color and sex workers. Third wave feminists today continue to exclude the working class in both their ideology and practice. Modern-day liberal feminism peddles sex work as “choice”. Then why not denounce feminism, too?
Socialism is a social science that has been developed through multiple experiments and through the process of trial and error. It has a bloody history because the ruling class ruthlessly oppresses revolts against them, just like men have violently oppressed women in all strata of society. Our liberal intellectuals are quick to denounce the efforts of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and the Kims because they were authoritarian but somehow the intellect of these activists can not comprehend the fact that the US has done everything in its power to subvert communism and these socialist leaders were merely defending their people.
The problem with such intellectuals is that they only identify with criticism, not practice. They are passionate about criticizing capitalism and hence have attracted a large fan base but does it not strike their fans to ask them what the solution to this problem is? (And no, taxing the rich is not a solution and they would know that if they critically read history.)
How do we fight sexism and gender inequality? By only criticizing the hegemony of cis-gendered heterosexual men but not supporting women and non-binary groups? Or by criticizing the oppression of men and also the struggle for liberation from them? If we won’t take this approach to end gender inequality, then why do liberal activists take this approach in trying to end economic inequality?
Fighting for meager reforms for the poor is meaningless. It is like applauding the men who occasionally do the dishes to help the women in the house. In the fight for gender pay-parity, will we strive for a minimal increase in women’s wages that will never equal what their male counterparts are paid for the same job? If we don’t want to settle for anything less than equal pay for all genders, then why do we settle for futile taxation of the rich, which has proved to be ineffective over and over again, as a way of removing class distinctions in society?
All oppression is connected
At the root of all oppression is capitalism. Sexism, racism, and imperialism are features of capitalism, not flaws. Friedrich Engels was one of the first to make the connection between capitalism and sexism but somehow we equate Marxism with oppression itself. “What we can now conjecture about the way in which sexual relations will be ordered after the impending overthrow of capitalist production,” had said Engels, “that will be answered when a new generation has grown up: a generation of men who never in their lives have known what it is to buy a woman’s surrender with money or any other social instrument of power; a generation of women who have never known what it is give themselves to a man from any other considersations than real love, or to refuse to give themselves to their lover from fear of the economic consequences.”
There is no smashing the patriarchy without smashing capitalism. We will never win the struggle against racism unless we dismantle capitalism. We will never save the environment unless we stop for-profit production and replace it with for-need production. The countries that are leading the world in all these causes are socialist countries. Under Lenin and Stalin, women, black people, and ethnic minorities had equal rights way back in the 1920s. Mao had said, “Women hold up half the sky.” Thomas Sankara prioritized the liberation of women in socialist Burkina Faso. Cuba legalized same-gender sex in 1979, 24 years before the US. Cuba and China are leading the world in environmental protection.
There is no saving our world without communism and “intellectual” activists of today are doing society huge disfavor by not showing us the right path, by not educating themselves in history and economics. While they have worked hard to make this world a better place, and I appreciate them for that, such hard work will meet a dead end if they are too arrogant to accept their mistakes and too idealistic to confront their ignorance.