Comrades! A Russian Bolshevik who took part in the 1905 Revolution, and who lived in your country for many years afterwards, has offered to convey my letter to you. I have accepted his proposal all the more gladly because just at the present time the American revolutionary workers have to play an exceptionally important role as uncompromising enemies of American imperialism—the freshest, strongest and latest in joining in the world-wide slaughter of nations for the division of capitalist profits. At this very moment, the American multimillionaires, these modern slaveowners have turned an exceptionally tragic page in the bloody history of bloody imperialism by giving their approval—whether direct or indirect, open or hypocritically concealed, makes no difference—to the armed expedition launched by the brutal Anglo-Japanese imperialists for the purpose of throttling the first socialist republic.
The history of modern, civilised America opened with one of those great, really liberating, really revolutionary wars of which there have been so few compared to the vast number of wars of conquest which, like the present imperialist war, were caused by squabbles among kings, landowners or capitalists over the division of usurped lands or ill-gotten gains. That was the war the American people waged against the British robbers who oppressed America and held her in colonial slavery, in the same way as these “civilised” bloodsuckers are still oppressing and holding in colonial slavery hundreds of millions of people in India, Egypt, and all parts of the world.
About 150 years have passed since then. Bourgeois civilisation has borne all its luxurious fruits. America has taken first place among the free and educated nations in level of development of the productive forces of collective human endeavour, in the utilisation of machinery and of all the wonders of modern engineering. At the same time, America has become one of the foremost countries in regard to the depth of the abyss which lies between the handful of arrogant multimillionaires who wallow in filth and luxury, and the millions of working people who constantly live on the verge of pauperism. The American people, who set the world an example in waging a revolutionary war against feudal slavery, now find themselves in the latest, capitalist stage of wage-slavery to a handful of multimillionaires, and find themselves playing the role of hired thugs who, for the benefit of wealthy scoundrels, throttled the Philippines in 1898 on the pretext of “liberating” them, and are throttling the Russian Socialist Republic in 1918 on the pretext of “protecting” it from the Germans.
The four years of the imperialist slaughter of nations, however, have not passed in vain. The deception of the people by the scoundrels of both robber groups, the British and the German, has been utterly exposed by indisputable and obvious facts. The results of the four years of war have revealed the general law of capitalism as applied to war between robbers for the division of spoils: the richest and strongest profited and grabbed most, while the weakest were utterly robbed, tormented, crushed and strangled.
The British imperialist robbers were the strongest in number of “colonial slaves”. The British capitalists have not lost an inch of “their” territory (i.e., territory they have grabbed over the centuries), but they have grabbed all the German colonies in Africa, they have grabbed Mesopotamia and Palestine, they have throttled Greece, and have begun to plunder Russia.
The German imperialist robbers were the strongest in organisation and discipline of “their” armies, but weaker in regard to colonies. They have lost all their colonies, but plundered half of Europe and throttled the largest number of small countries and weak nations. What a great war of “liberation” on both sides! How well the robbers of both groups, the Anglo-French and the German capitalists, together with their lackeys, the social-chauvinists, i.e., the socialists who went over to the side of “their own ” bourgeoisie, have “defended their country”!
The American multimillionaires were, perhaps, richest of all, and geographically the most secure. They have profited more than all the rest. They have converted all, even the richest, countries into their tributaries. They have grabbed hundreds of billions of dollars. And every dollar is sullied with filth: the filth of the secret treaties between Britain and her “allies”, between Germany and her vassals, treaties for the division of the spoils, treaties of mutual “aid” for oppressing the workers and persecuting the internationalist socialists. Every dollar is sullied with the filth of “profitable” war contracts, which in every country made the rich richer and the poor poorer. And every dollar is stained with blood—from that ocean of blood that has been shed by the ten million killed and twenty million maimed in the great, noble, liberating and holy war to decide whether the British or the German robbers are to get most of the spoils, whether the British or the German thugs are to be foremost in throttling the weak nations all over the world.
While the German robbers broke all records in war atrocities, the British have broken all records not only in the number of colonies they have grabbed, but also in the subtlety of their disgusting hypocrisy. This very day, the Anglo-French and American bourgeois newspapers are spreading, in millions and millions of copies, lies and slander about Russia, and are hypocritically justifying their predatory expedition against her on the plea that they want to “protect” Russia from the Germans!
It does not require many words to refute this despicable and hideous lie; it is sufficient to point to one well-known fact. In October 1917, after the Russian workers had overthrown their imperialist government, the Soviet government, the government of the revolutionary workers and peasants, openly proposed a just peace, a peace without annexations or indemnities, a peace that fully guaranteed equal rights to all nations—and it proposed such a peace to all the belligerent countries.
It was the Anglo-French and the American bourgeoisie who refused to accept our proposal; it was they who even refused to talk to us about a general peace! It was they who betrayed the interests of all nations; it was they who prolonged the imperialist slaughter!
It was they who, banking on the possibility of dragging Russia back into the imperialist war, refused to take part in the peace negotiations and thereby gave a free hand to the no less predatory German capitalists who imposed the annexationist and harsh Brest Peace upon Russia!
It is difficult to imagine anything more disgusting than the hypocrisy with which the Anglo-French and American bourgeoisie are now “blaming” us for the Brest Peace Treaty. The very capitalists of those countries which could have turned the Brest negotiations into general negotiations for a general peace are now our “accusers”! The Anglo-French imperialist vultures, who have profited from the plunder of colonies and the slaughter of nations, have prolonged the war for nearly a whole year after Brest, and yet they “accuse” us, the Bolsheviks, who proposed a just peace to all countries, they accuse us, who tore up, published and exposed to public disgrace the secret, criminal treaties concluded between the ex-tsar and the Anglo-French capitalists.
The workers of the whole world, no matter in what country they live, greet us, sympathise with us, applaud us for breaking the iron ring of imperialist ties, of sordid imperialist treaties, of imperialist chains—for breaking through to freedom, and making the heaviest sacrifices in doing so—for, as a socialist republic, although torn and plundered by the imperialists, keeping out of the imperialist war and raising the banner of peace, the banner of socialism for the whole world to see.
Small wonder that the international imperialist gang hates us for this, that it “accuses” us, that all the lackeys of the imperialists, including our Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, also “accuse” us. The hatred these watchdogs of imperialism express for the Bolsheviks, and the sympathy of the class-conscious workers of the world, convince us more than ever of the justice of our cause.
A real socialist would not fail to understand that for the sake of achieving victory over the bourgeoisie, for the sake of power passing to the workers, for the sake of starting the world proletarian revolution, we cannot and must not hesitate to make the heaviest sacrifices, including the sacrifice of part of our territory, the sacrifice of heavy defeats at the hands of imperialism. A real socialist would have proved by deeds his willingness for “his” country to make the greatest sacrifice to give a real push forward to the cause of the socialist revolution.
For the sake of “their” cause, that is, for the sake of winning world hegemony, the imperialists of Britain and Germany have not hesitated to utterly ruin and throttle a whole number of countries, from Belgium and Serbia to Palestine and Mesopotamia. But must socialists wait with “their” cause, the cause of liberating the working people of the whole world from the yoke of capital, of winning universal and lasting peace, until a path without sacrifice is found? Must they fear to open the battle until an easy victory is “guaranteed”? Must they place the integrity and security of “their” bourgeois-created “fatherland” above the interests of the world socialist revolution? The scoundrels in the international socialist movement who think this way, those lackeys who grovel to bourgeois morality, thrice stand condemned.
The Anglo-French and American imperialist vultures “accuse” us of concluding an “agreement” with German imperialism. What hypocrites, what scoundrels they are to slander the workers’ government while trembling because of the sympathy displayed towards us by the workers of “their own” countries! But their hypocrisy will be exposed. They pretend not to see the difference between an agreement entered into by “socialists” with the bourgeoisie (their own or foreign) against the workers, against the working people, and an agreement entered into for the protection of the workers who have defeated their bourgeoisie, with the bourgeoisie of one national colour against the bourgeoisie of another colour in order that the proletariat may take advantage of the antagonisms between the different groups of bourgeoisie.
In actual fact, every European sees this difference very well, and, as I shall show in a moment, the American people have had a particularly striking “illustration” of it in their own history. There are agreements and agreements, there are fagots et fagots, as the French say.
When in February 1918 the German imperialist vultures hurled their forces against unarmed, demobilised Russia, who had relied on the international solidarity of the proletariat before the world revolution had fully matured, I did not hesitate for a moment to enter into an “agreement” with the French monarchists. Captain Sadoul, a French army officer who, in words, sympathised with the Bolsheviks, but was in deeds a loyal and faithful servant of French imperialism, brought the French officer de Lubersac to see me. “I am a monarchist. My only aim is to secure the defeat of Germany,” de Lubersac declared to me. “That goes without saying (cela va sans dire ),” I replied. But this did not in the least prevent me from entering into an “agreement” with de Lubersac concerning certain services that French army officers, experts in explosives, were ready to render us by blowing up railway lines in order to hinder the German invasion. This is an example of an “agreement” of which every class-conscious worker will approve, an agreement in the interests of socialism. The French monarchist and I shook hands, although we knew that each of us would willingly hang his “partner”. But for a time our interests coincided. Against the advancing rapacious Germans, we, in the interests of the Russian and the world socialist revolution, utilised the equally rapacious counter-interests of other imperialists. In this way we served the interests of the working class of Russia and of other countries, we strengthened the proletariat and weakened the bourgeoisie of the whole world, we resorted to the methods, most legitimate and essential in every war, of manoeuvre, stratagem, retreat, in anticipation of the moment when the rapidly maturing proletarian revolution in a number of advanced countries completely matured.
However much the Anglo-French and American imperialist sharks fume with rage, however much they slander us, no matter how many millions they spend on bribing the Right Socialist-Revolutionary, Menshevik and other social-patriotic newspapers, I shall not hesitate one second to enter into a similar “agreement” with the German imperialist vultures if an attack upon Russia by Anglo-French troops calls for it. And I know perfectly well that my tactics will be approved by the class-conscious proletariat of Russia, Germany, France, Britain, America—in short, of the whole civilised world. Such tactics will ease the task of the socialist revolution, will hasten it, will weaken the international bourgeoisie, will strengthen the position of the working class which is defeating the bourgeoisie.
The American people resorted to these tactics long ago to the advantage of their revolution. When they waged their great war of liberation against the British oppressors, they had also against them the French and the Spanish oppressors who owned a part of what is now the United States of North America. In their arduous war for freedom, the American people also entered into “agreements” with some oppressors against others for the purpose of weakening the oppressors and strengthening those who were fighting in a revolutionary manner against oppression, for the purpose of serving the interests of the oppressed people. The American people took advantage of the strife between the French, the Spanish and the British; sometimes they even fought side by side with the forces of the French and Spanish oppressors against the British oppressors; first they defeated the British and then freed themselves (partly by ransom) from the French and the Spanish.
Historical action is not the pavement of Nevsky Prospekt, said the great Russian revolutionary Chernyshevsky. A revolutionary would not “agree” to a proletarian revolution only “on the condition” that it proceeds easily and smoothly, that there is, from the outset, combined action on the part of the proletarians of different countries, that there are guarantees against defeats, that the road of the revolution is broad, free and straight, that it will not be necessary during the march to victory to sustain the heaviest casualties, to “bide one’s time in a besieged fortress”, or to make one’s way along extremely narrow, impassable, winding and dangerous mountain tracks. Such a person is no revolutionary, he has not freed himself from the pedantry of the bourgeois intellectuals; such a person will be found constantly slipping into the camp of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, like our Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and even (although more rarely) Left Socialist-Revolutionaries.
Echoing the bourgeoisie, these gentlemen like to blame us for the “chaos” of the revolution, for the “destruction” of industry, for the unemployment and the food shortage. How hypocritical these accusations are, coming from those who welcomed and supported the imperialist war, or who entered into an “agreement” with Kerensky who continued this war! It is this imperialist war that is the cause of all these misfortunes. The revolution engendered by the war can not avoid the terrible difficulties and suffering bequeathed it by the prolonged, ruinous, reactionary slaughter of the nations. To blame us for the “destruction” of industry, or for the “terror”, is either hypocrisy or dull-witted pedantry; it reveals an inability to understand the basic conditions of the fierce class struggle, raised to the highest degree of intensity that is called revolution.
Even when “accusers” of this type do “recognise” the class struggle, they limit themselves to verbal recognition; actually, they constantly slip into the philistine utopia of class “agreement” and “collaboration”; for in revolutionary epochs the class struggle has always, inevitably, and in every country, assumed the form of civil war, and civil war is inconceivable without the severest destruction, terror and the restriction of formal democracy in the interests of this war. Only unctuous parsons—whether Christian or “secular” in the persons of parlour, parliamentary socialists— cannot see, understand and feel this necessity. Only a life less “man in the muffler” can shun the revolution for this reason instead of plunging into battle with the utmost ardour and determination at a time when history demands that the greatest problems of humanity be solved by struggle and war.
The American people have a revolutionary tradition which has been adopted by the best representatives of the American proletariat, who have repeatedly expressed their complete solidarity with us Bolsheviks. That tradition is the war of liberation against the British in the eighteenth century and the Civil War in the nineteenth century. In some respects, if we only take into consideration the “destruction” of some branches of industry and of the national economy, America in 1870 was behind 1860. But what a pedant, what an idiot would anyone be to deny on these grounds the immense, world-historic, progressive and revolutionary significance of the American Civil War of 1863-65!
The representatives of the bourgeoisie understand that for the sake of overthrowing Negro slavery, of overthrowing the rule of the slaveowners, it was worth letting the country go through long years of civil war, through the abysmal ruin, destruction and terror that accompany every war. But now, when we are confronted with the vastly greater task of overthrowing capitalist wage-slavery, of overthrowing the rule of the bourgeoisie—now, the representatives and defenders of the bourgeoisie, and also the reformist socialists who have been frightened by the bourgeoisie and are shunning the revolution, cannot and do not want to understand that civil war is necessary and legitimate.
The American workers will not follow the bourgeoisie. They will be with us, for civil war against the bourgeoisie. The whole history of the world and of the American labour movement strengthens my conviction that this is so. I also recall the words of one of the most beloved leaders of the American proletariat, Eugene Debs, who wrote in the Appeal to Reason, I believe towards the end of 1915, in the article “What Shall I Fight For” (I quoted this article at the beginning of 1916 at a public meeting of workers in Berne, Switzerland)—that he, Debs, would rather be shot than vote credits for the present criminal and reactionary war; that he, Debs, knows of only one holy and, from the proletarian standpoint, legitimate war, namely: the war against the capitalists, the war to liberate mankind from wage-slavery.
I am not surprised that Wilson, the head of the American multimillionaires and servant of the capitalist sharks, has thrown Debs into prison. Let the bourgeoisie be brutal to the true internationalists, to the true representatives of the revolutionary proletariat! The more fierce and brutal they are, the nearer the day of the victorious proletarian revolution.
We are blamed for the destruction caused by our revolution. . . . Who are the accusers? The hangers-on of the bourgeoisie, of that very bourgeoisie who, during the four years of the imperialist war, have destroyed almost the whole of European culture and have reduced Europe to barbarism, brutality and starvation. These bourgeoisie now demand we should not make a revolution on these ruins, amidst this wreckage of culture, amidst the wreckage and ruins created by the war, nor with the people who have been brutalised by the war. How humane and righteous the bourgeoisie are!
Their servants accuse us of resorting to terror. . . . The British bourgeoisie have forgotten their 1649, the French bourgeoisie have forgotten their 1793. Terror was just and legitimate when the bourgeoisie resorted to it for their own benefit against feudalism. Terror became monstrous and criminal when the workers and poor peasants dared to use it against the bourgeoisie! Terror was just and legitimate when used for the purpose of substituting one exploiting minority for another exploiting minority. Terror became monstrous and criminal when it began to be used for the purpose of overthrowing every exploiting minority, to be used in the interests of the vast actual majority, in the interests of the proletariat and semi-proletariat, the working class and the poor peasants!
The international imperialist bourgeoisie have slaughtered ten million men and maimed twenty million in “their” war, the war to decide whether the British or the German vultures are to rule the world.
If our war, the war of the oppressed and exploited against the oppressors and the exploiters, results in half a million or a million casualties in all countries, the bourgeoisie will say that the former casualties are justified, while the latter are criminal.
The proletariat will have something entirely different to say.
Now, amidst the horrors of the imperialist war, the proletariat is receiving a most vivid and striking illustration of the great truth taught by all revolutions and bequeathed to the workers by their best teachers, the founders of modern socialism. This truth is that no revolution can be successful unless the resistance of the exploiters is crushed. When we, the workers and toiling peasants, captured state power, it became our duty to crush the resistance of the exploiters. We are proud we have been doing this. We regret we are not doing it with sufficient firmness and determination.
We know that fierce resistance to the socialist revolution on the part of the bourgeoisie is inevitable in all countries, and that this resistance will grow with the growth of this revolution. The proletariat will crush this resistance; during the struggle against the resisting bourgeoisie it will finally mature for victory and for power.
Let the corrupt bourgeois press shout to the whole world about every mistake our revolution makes. We are not daunted by our mistakes. People have not become saints because the revolution has begun. The toiling classes who for centuries have been oppressed, downtrodden and forcibly held in the vice of poverty, brutality and ignorance cannot avoid mistakes when making a revolution. And, as I pointed out once before, the corpse of bourgeois society cannot be nailed in a coffin and buried.[*] The corpse of capitalism is decaying and disintegrating in our midst, polluting the air and poisoning our lives, enmeshing that which is new, fresh, young and virile in thousands of threads and bonds of that which is old, moribund and decaying.
For every hundred mistakes we commit, and which the bourgeoisie and their lackeys (including our own Mensheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries) shout about to the whole world, 10,000 great and heroic deeds are performed, greater and more heroic because they are simple and inconspicuous amidst the everyday life of a factory district or a remote village, performed by people who are not accustomed (and have no opportunity) to shout to the whole world about their successes.
But even if the contrary were true—although I know such an assumption is wrong—even if we committed 10,000 mistake for every 100 correct actions we performed, even in that case our revolution would be great and invincible, and so it will be in the eyes of world history, because, for the first time, not the minority, not the rich alone, not the educated alone, but the real people, the vast majority of the working people, are themselves building a new life, are by their own experience solving the most difficult problems of socialist organisation .
Every mistake committed in the course of such work, in the course of this most conscientious and earnest work of tens of millions of simple workers and peasants in reorganising their whole life, every such mistake is worth thousands and millions of “lawless” successes achieved by the exploiting minority—successes in swindling and duping the working people. For only through such mistakes will the workers and peasants learn to build the new life, learn to do without capitalists; only in this way will they hack a path for themselves—through thousands of obstacles—to victorious socialism.
Mistakes are being committed in the course of their revolutionary work by our peasants, who at one stroke, in one night, October 25-26 (old style), 1917, entirely abolished the private ownership of land, and are now, month after month, overcoming tremendous difficulties and correcting their mistakes themselves, solving in a practical way the most difficult tasks of organising new conditions of economic life, of fighting the kulaks, providing land for the working people (and not for the rich), and of changing to communist large-scale agriculture.
Mistakes are being committed in the course of their revolutionary work by our workers, who have already, after a few months, nationalised almost all the biggest factories and plants, and are learning by hard, everyday work the new task of managing whole branches of industry, are setting the nationalised enterprises going, overcoming the powerful resistance of inertia, petty-bourgeois mentality and selfishness, and, brick by brick, are laying the foundation of new social ties, of a new labour discipline, of a new influence of the workers’ trade unions over their members.
Mistakes are committed in the course of their revolutionary work by our Soviets, which were created as far back as 1905 by a mighty upsurge of the people. The Soviets of Workers and Peasants are a new type of state, a new and higher type of democracy, a form of the proletarian dictatorship, a means of administering the state without the bourgeoisie and against the bourgeoisie. For the first time democracy is here serving the people, the working people, and has ceased to be democracy for the rich as it still is in all bourgeois republics, even the most democratic. For the first time, the people are grappling, on a scale involving one hundred million, with the problem of implementing the dictatorship of the proletariat and semi-proletariat—a problem which, if not solved, makes socialism out of the question.
Let the pedants, or the people whose minds are incurably stuffed with bourgeois-democratic or parliamentary prejudices, shake their heads in perplexity about our Soviets, about the absence of direct elections, for example. These people have forgotten nothing and have learned nothing during the period of the great upheavals of 1914-18. The combination of the proletarian dictatorship with the new democracy for the working people—of civil war with the widest participation of the people in politics—such a combination cannot be brought about at one stroke, nor does it fit in with the outworn modes of routine parliamentary democracy. The contours of a new world, the world of socialism, are rising before us in the shape of the Soviet Republic. It is not surprising that this world does not come into being ready-made, does not spring forth like Minerva from the head of Jupiter.
The old bourgeois-democratic constitutions waxed eloquent about formal equality and right of assembly; but our proletarian and peasant Soviet Constitution casts aside the hypocrisy of formal equality. When the bourgeois republicans overturned thrones they did not worry about formal equality between monarchists and republicans. When it is a matter of overthrowing the bourgeoisie, only traitors or idiots can demand formal equality of rights for the bourgeoisie. “Freedom of assembly” for workers and peasants is not worth a farthing when the best buildings belong to the bourgeoisie. Our Soviets have confiscated all the good buildings in town and country from the rich and have transferred all of them to the workers and peasants for their unions and meetings. This is our freedom of assembly—for the working people! This is the meaning and content of our Soviet, our socialist Constitution!
That is why we are all so firmly convinced that no matter what misfortunes may still be in store for it, our Republic of Soviets is invincible.
It is invincible because every blow struck by frenzied imperialism, every defeat the international bourgeoisie inflict on us, rouses more and more sections of the workers and peasants to the struggle, teaches them at the cost of enormous sacrifice, steels them and engenders new heroism on a mass scale.
We know that help from you will probably not come soon, comrade American workers, for the revolution is developing in different countries in different forms and at different tempos (and it cannot be otherwise). We know that although the European proletarian revolution has been maturing very rapidly lately, it may, after all, not flare up within the next few weeks. We are banking on the inevitability of the world revolution, but this does not mean that we are such fools as to bank on the revolution inevitably coming on a definite and early date. We have seen two great revolutions in our country, 1905 and 1917, and we know revolutions are not made to order, or by agreement. We know that circumstances brought our Russian detachment of the socialist proletariat to the fore not because of our merits, but because of the exceptional backwardness of Russia, and that before the world revolution breaks out a number of separate revolutions may be defeated.
In spite of this, we are firmly convinced that we are invincible, because the spirit of mankind will not be broken by the imperialist slaughter. Mankind will vanquish it. And the first country to break the convict chains of the imperialist war was our country. We sustained enormously heavy casualties in the struggle to break these chains, but we broke them. We are free from imperialist dependence, we have raised the banner of struggle for the complete overthrow of imperialism for the whole world to see.
We are now, as it were, in a besieged fortress, waiting for the other detachments of the world socialist revolution to come to our relief. These detachments exist, they are more numerous than ours, they are maturing, growing, gaining more strength the longer the brutalities of imperialism continue. The workers are breaking away from their social traitors—the Gomperses, Hendersons, Renaudels, Scheidemanns and Renners. Slowly but surely the workers are adopting communist, Bolshevik tactics and are marching towards the proletarian revolution, which alone is capable of saving dying culture and dying mankind.
In short, we are invincible, because the world proletarian revolution is invincible.
August 20, 1918
 The dispatch of the letter to America was organised by the Bolshevik M. M. Borodin, who had recently been there. With the foreign military intervention and the blockade of Soviet Russia this involved considerable difficulties. The letter was delivered to the United States by P. I. Travin (Sletov). Along with the letter he brought the Constitution of the R.S.F.S.R. and the Soviet Government’s Note to President Wilson containing the demand to stop the intervention. The well-known American socialist and journalist John Reed secured the publication of all these documents in the American press.
In December 1918 a slightly abridged version of the letter appeared in the New York magazine The Class Struggle and the Boston weekly The Revolutionary Age, both organs of the Left wing of the American Socialist Party. The Revolutionary Age was brought out by John Reed and Sen Katayama. The letter evoked keen interest among readers and it was published as a reprint from The Class Struggle in a large number of copies. Subsequently it was published many times in the bourgeois and socialist press of the U.S.A. and Western Europe, in the French socialist magazine Demain No. 28-29, 1918, in No. 138 of the Call, organ of the British Socialist Party, the Berlin magazine Die Aktion No. 51-52, 1918, and elsewhere. In 1934 the letter was brought out in New York in the form of a pamphlet, which contained the passages omitted in earlier publications.
The letter was widely used by the American Left Socialists and was instrumental in aiding the development of the labour and communist movement in the U.S. and Europe. It helped advanced workers to appreciate the nature of imperialism and the great revolutionary changes effected by the Soviet government. Lenin’s letter aroused a mounting protest in the U.S. against the armed intervention.
 Lenin quotes from Chernyshevsky’s review of the book by the American economist H. Ch. Carey, Letters to the President on the Foreign and Domestic Policy of the Union, and its Effects. Chernyshevsky wrote: “The path of history is not paved like Nevsky Prospekt; it runs across fields, either dusty or muddy, and cuts through swamps or forest thickets. Anyone who fears being covered with dust or muddying his boots, should not engage in social activity.”
 Man in the muffler—a character from Chekhov’s story of the same title, personifying a narrow-minded philistine scared of initiative and new ideas.
 Appeal to Reason—American socialist newspaper, founded in Girard, Kansas, in 1895. The newspaper propagated socialist ideas and was immensely popular among the workers. During the First World War it pursued an internationalist policy.
Debs’s article appeared in the paper on September 11, 1915. Its title, which Lenin most probably quoted from memory, was “When I Shall Fight”.
 See present edition, Volume 22, page 125. Speech Delivered at an International Meeting in Berne.
This article was republished from Marxists Archive.
“Appeals to all civilized and reasonable people.”
Volume I of Hitler’s Mein Kampf [My Struggle] was published in 1925. Volume II was published in 1926.  It’s important to bear these dates in mind because, according to historian David Schmitz, in 1933, when Hitler first became Chancellor of Germany, US officialdom was “not distraught.” In fact, George A. Gordon, the US charge d’affaires in Berlin, told Washington that Hitler led a “moderate” faction of the Nazis, which “appeals to all civilized and reasonable people.”  In 2015, footage emerged of British Royal Family members giving Nazi salutes in 1933. Defending the footage, Buckingham Palace said that “No one at that time had any sense how it would evolve. To imply anything else is misleading and dishonest.” 
This is nonsense.
western governments were obviously capable of doing rudimentary intelligence work like reading Mein Kampf, which Hitler wrote while in prison after attempting a coup. So, what was it about Mein Kampf that might have put western imperialists at ease? The short answer is that Hitler also happened to be a western imperialist who was obsessed with annihilating Marxists.
His explicitly stated intention in Mein Kampf was, through mass murder, to eradicate Marxism in Germany and Eastern Europe. The primary goal was the destruction of Soviet Russia in order to transform Germany into a major European super-state: “This colossal Empire in the East is ripe for dissolution” he wrote.  After this goal was accomplished — and Marxism eradicated — Germany could then get to work seizing colonies outside Europe: “The German people will have no right to engage in a colonial policy until they shall have brought all their children together in the one State.” 
Marxists were not a secondary target for Hitler
Hitler’s savage antisemitism was inextricably linked to his anti-Marxism. As an aspiring young artist in Vienna (he was born and raised in Austria) he said “my eyes were opened to two perils, the names of which I scarcely knew hitherto and had no notion whatsoever of their terrible significance for the existence of the German people. These two perils were Marxism and Judaism.”  Throughout the book he conflates Jewish people with Marxists, or else depicts Marxism as the deadliest weapon deployed by Jews in a quest for world domination:
On the day when Marxism is broken in Germany the chains that bind Germany will be smashed for ever. 
Hitler said that Bolshevism (Marxism as applied in Soviet Russia) was ultimately driven by “the aspiration of the Jewish people to become the despots of the world” and that it would triumph in Germany if it is not crushed in Russia: “The struggle against the Jewish Bolshevization of the world demands that we should declare our position towards Soviet Russia.” 
In Mein Kampf, it seems Hitler more frequently conflates Jews with Marxists (or social democrats) than with capitalists. His theory was that Jews first infiltrated powerful circles as financiers, then disarmed the hatred of the masses towards them by controlling the press. Lastly, Jews solidified their power by seizing control of anti-capitalist forces: “the Jew […] in a short while became the leader of their struggle against himself. […] And thus the Marxist doctrine was invented.” 
In Marxism, Hitler saw anti-racist and anti-elitist ideas that were a complete negation of his own, and a dire threat:
Such is the true essence of the Marxist Weltanschauung [worldview] […] The destruction of the concept of personality and of race removes the chief obstacle which barred the way to domination of the social body by its inferior elements, which are the Jews. […] in reality its aim is to enslave and thereby annihilate the non-Jewish races. 
Referring to Marxism, Hitler asked “Is it possible to eradicate ideas by force of arms? Could a Weltanschauung be attacked by means of physical force?” He concluded that it could be, but only if the extermination campaign has the “moral support” that comes from working “in the service of a new idea or Weltanschauung which burns with a new flame.” 
It’s important to add that Hitler regarded most people, including his beloved German “Aryans,” as quite stupid. German schools, Hitler said, should have students spend less time reading and more time developing their physical fitness; basically producing “real men” who’d become soldiers, and producing the healthy women who would give birth to them.  Hitler’s book only once cautioned against getting carried away with the premise that most people were stupid: “Generally speaking, one should guard against considering the broad masses more stupid than they really are.”  He also said that orators were more effective propagandists than writers for reaching “the masses,” and that written propaganda should be very concise and dumbed down.  Hitler clearly wrote Mein Kampf (which is 600 pages long) for a trusted audience with whom he believed he could be fairly honest. 
Emphasis on stealing working class support from Marxists
In the last chapter of Volume I, Hitler stated that his growing movement “must try to recruit its followers mainly from the ranks of the working class. It must include members of the intellectual classes only in so far as such members have rightly understood and accepted without reserve the ideal towards which the movement is striving.” Hitler lashed out at industrialists who hurt the fight against the “internationalism” promoted by Marxists:
“A movement which sincerely endeavors to bring the German worker back into his folk-community, and rescue him from the folly of internationalism, must wage a vigorous campaign against certain notions that are prevalent among the industrialists. One of these notions is that according to the concept of the folk-community, the employee is obliged to surrender all his economic rights to the employer and, further, that the workers would come into conflict with the folk-community if they should attempt to defend their own just and vital interests. Those who try to propagate such a notion are deliberate liars.”
Hitler saw class solidarity as an abomination (a Judeo-Marxist abomination of course) that must be replaced with racial solidarity. He actually defined a state as a “racial organism” but feared that excessive inequality could undermine racial solidarity, and thereby thwart the eradication of Marxism. He declared that “the paramount purpose of the State is to preserve and improve the race; […] Those States which do not serve this purpose have no justification for their existence. They are monstrosities.” 
Hitler said that use of the color red in Nazi posters was deliberately intended as a provocation (“our intention being to irritate the Left”). He wrote that “ordinary bourgeois” were shocked to see Nazis use the “symbolic red of Bolshevism” and call each other “Party Comrade.” But Hitler and his inner circle were delighted with accusations that they were Marxists: “We used to roar with laughter at these silly faint-hearted bourgeois and their efforts to puzzle out our origin, our intentions and our aims.” 
In that same Chapter, he recounts with pride the initial exploits of the goons he formed to beat up “Reds” and enforce order during his speeches: the first Nazi “Storm Troops.” However, Hitler did not believe Nazi unions could compete with the trades unions that he saw as thoroughly controlled by Marxists:
The Marxist trade-unionist citadel may be governed to-day by mediocre leaders, but it cannot be taken by assault except through the dauntless energy and genius of a superior leader on the other side. 
In a rare display of modesty, Hitler said no such leader existed for this particular task, so he said it was best to wait until they had state power to establish Nazi trade unions (while of course also using state power to smash the “Marxist trade-unionist citadel”). Until they had state power, Hitler advised his followers to either leave the Marxist unions, or remain but disrupt them as much as possible.
Hitler’s racist pecking order and admiration of the British Empire
Though he hated Jewish people so much that he claimed to be repulsed by their very odor, he at least credited them with cunning, or intelligence as in the case of Karl Marx.  Africans on the other hand, Hitler likened to dogs:
From time to time our illustrated papers publish […] the news that in some quarter or other of the globe, and for the first time in that locality, a Negro has become a lawyer, a teacher, a pastor, even a grand opera tenor or something else of that kind. […] the more cunning Jew sees in this fact a new proof to be utilized for the theory with which he wants to infect the public, namely that all men are equal. […] The bourgeois mind does not realize that it is a sin against the will of the eternal Creator to allow hundreds of thousands of highly gifted people to remain floundering in the swamp of proletarian misery while Hottentots and Zulus are drilled to fill positions in the intellectual professions. For here we have the product only of a drilling technique, just as in the case of the performing dog. 
Hitler also alleged that the “cunning Jew” was happy with an “influx of negroid blood” in France which was “infecting the white race with the blood of an inferior stock” in order to “destroy the foundations of its independent existence,” and turning that region bordering Germany “into a playground for hordes of African niggers.”
In another passage of the same chapter Hitler assailed the idea that merely speaking German and living in Germany could make anyone a German: “it is almost inconceivable how such a mistake could be made as to think that a Nigger or a Chinaman will become a German because he has learned the German language.”
What does it say about George Orwell that he could review this obscene book and still remark that “I should like to put it on record that I have never been able to dislike Hitler”?  What does it say about Steve Wadhams of the CBC (in 2016!) praising Orwell’s “courage” for writing that? 
It’s also worth recalling that when Hitler wrote Mein Kampf the US was an apartheid state plagued with lynchings of African-Americans.  It was also militarily occupying Haiti, a majority black republic established by a sucessfull slave revolt in 1804 (and punished by European and US white supremacists ever since). How troubling could Hitler’s virulent racism have really been to US officialdom back then, or even now  as it ships weapons to neo-Nazis in Ukraine to fight a proxy war with Russia?  And of course Winston Churchill’s racism and brutality  were comparable to Hitler’s. 
Orwell’s review dubiously claimed that Mein Kampf contained an “implied intention of smashing England” after dealing with Russia. The book clearly conveyed Hitler’s wish to one day see Germany surpass Britain as an imperial power, but preferably by making it subordinate to Germany as an ally (as Britain is today to the US) not by destroying it — the fate he undeniably intended for Marxists, Jews and Slavs. In fact, Hitler often expressed admiration and, most importantly for him, racial solidarity with the British Empire.
Consider one of the reasons Hitler rejected the idea of an alliance with India’s independence movement just after World War I: “I as a German would far rather see India under British domination than under that of any other nation.” Moreover, he wrote that groups advocating an alliance showed that they had “learned nothing from the world war” of “Anglo-Saxon determination.” 
Reminiscing of World War I, Hitler said that
No sacrifice should have been considered too great if it was a necessary means of gaining England’s friendship. Colonial and naval ambitions should have been abandoned and attempts should not have been made to compete against British industries. […] This policy would have involved a period of temporary self-denial, for the sake of a great and powerful future. 
After the war, despite the ruin and humiliation Britain helped impose on Germany, Hitler continued to advocate for an alliance with Britain. He lamented, “Of course it is difficult for us to propose England as our possible ally in the future. Our Jewish Press has always been adept in concentrating hatred against England particularly.”
Lessons in movement-building?
Any movement, whether it be noble or evil, will grapple with similar kinds of growing pains and tactical dilemmas: internal power struggles driven by petty jealousy, difficulties merging with like minded groups, decisions about how careful to be admitting new members. Generally, when writing about movement-building tactics and propaganda, Hitler’s hateful fantasies and obsessions are toned down and he appears practical. His description of the first German Labor Party meeting he attended and is one of the few times he shows any sense of humor. He basically barged into a comfortable little club that had no interest in growing or really doing much of anything.  But he guessed correctly that he could take it over and do something with it.
Given the success he had building his movement, and its humble origins, there is no denying that he had good political instincts for the time and place in which he lived. He stressed intensity, action, and results. He brought in his army buddies (battle-hardened racist fanatics like himself) to make sure that happened, and to ensure he kept control. He said that calling his movement a “party” was a great way to scare away “dreamers” he thought were useless. 
However, Hitler was a genocidal maniac who succeeded for many years because he lived a world run by like-minded genocidal maniacs. To a large extent, far from bursting down walls, he was walking through doors left wide open by centuries of western imperialism. That’s ultimately the most important lesson to take from his book.
this article was republished from Orinoco Tribune.
The contemporary world is characterized by high levels of individualization i.e. the withdrawal of people from any substantive engagement in inter-subjectively meaningful collective activity. Such decomposition of the social body has cut off people from one another, and made them lonely, fragile, sad, and stressed out. They are in need of a recomposed social body. In his book “The Communism of Love: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Exchange Value,” Richard Gilman-Opalsky writes, “Recomposition is the hopeful opposite of decomposition and it indicates an effort to revitalize confidence and hope, to be with others who share your feeling, and to confront and combat loneliness—not alone, but together.” Interpersonal feelings can either be of an erotic nature or simply form a bond of intense affection. “To be empathic together, to express feelings together—this is what revolts do when they break out. A revolt is no less about collective sadness than it is about anger. Often, revolt is less about political transformations than ontological ones.”
Insofar that the militancy of revolts derives not only from the conceptual coherence and organizational strength of political agendas but also from fundamental yearnings for psychosocial health and communitarian sensibilities, love has a lot of political relevance. Franco Berardi makes a poetic comparison between rebels in the streets and feelings of love. He writes that solidarity “has nothing to do with altruistic self-denial. In materialistic terms, solidarity is not about you; it is about me. Like love, it is not about altruism, it is about the pleasure of sharing the breath and the space of the other. Love is the ability to enjoy myself thanks to your presence, thanks to your eyes.” Explaining this passage, Gilman-Opalsky notes that “love and solidarity with others is good for one’s own self. When we speak of love, we are not speaking of charity. But we should resist the idea that love is either egoistic or altruistic. Love is both altruistic and egoistic, but at the same time it is neither. Love recombines individuals into a collective being, a one comprising many, a heterogeneous collectivity of two or more that has interests beyond any of its discrete members.”
As is evident, love demonstrates the basic fact that the development of the human individual’s personality and being-in-the-world can take place only through relations with others. This specificity of love is significantly different from the non-relational nature of sex. Alan Badiou comments: “in sex, each individual is to a large extent on their own, if I can put it that way. Naturally, the other’s body has to be mediated, but at the end of the day, the pleasure will be always your pleasure. Sex separates, doesn’t unite… In sex, you are really in a relationship with yourself via the mediation of the other. The other helps you to discover the reality of pleasure.” Insofar that there is no such thing as a sexual relationship, what comes to fill this absence, this non-relationship, is love. In the words of Badiou, “In love the individual goes beyond himself, beyond the narcissistic…the mediation of the other is enough in itself. Such is the nature of the amorous encounter: you go to take on the other, to make him or her exist with you, as he or she is.”
To better understand how love is tied to a distinct form of sociality, one in which our existential identity is fully realized through the free expression of others’ identities, we can take recourse to psychoanalytic theories. The emergence of the signifying order directly coincides the formation of a constitutive lack at the heart of human subjectivity. In the language system developed by humans, significatory connotation confers an additional or excess meaning on objects that is not reducible to their empirical existence. This translates into the construction of a division between the signifier and signified, between the name and the idea of the object, with no amount of linguistic effort ever being able to close this gap. We keep moving from one signifier to another along the signifying chain, as one signifier constantly refers to another in a perpetual deferral of meaning. This separation of the signifier and the signified also denotes the separation of the subject from the satisfying object (“objet a”). This object gives an over-all orientation the subject’s desire even though the subject has never had it. Todd McGowan remarks:
“[T]o exist within signification is to accept loss as constitutive, a situation that psychoanalysis calls lack. Signification retroactively creates a lost object that was lost with the entrance into signification and that would have provided complete satisfaction if it had actually existed. Even though this object has no substantial status and can never acquire any concrete form, it shapes the contours of subjectivity. All of the subject’s multifarious activity within the world of signification centers around the attempt to rediscover this object that it never possessed.”
Since absence animates the subject, repetitious attachment to failure – attributable to the loss of the object that signification entails – becomes a defining characteristic of human subjectivity. We unconsciously satisfy ourselves through successive efforts to attain a missing satisfaction. Though we strive for success, we continue to engage in a series of failures, and the repetition of failure is the logic of subjectivity. This unconscious drive for failure obtains enjoyment/jouissance in the repetitive process of not reaching it. However, this drive is always masked to our conscious thoughts as a desire for a seemingly attainable object present in reality; this desire, as we know, can never be fulfilled due to the structural incompleteness of language. That is why our dissatisfied psyche keeps elevating myriad objects to the impossible-real object of desire, being temporarily infatuated with their supposedly sublime qualities before moving onto another object.
Love eliminates the unending journey of desire by relocating jouissance from the status of unconscious to consciousness. Instead of satisfying itself through the failure to realize its desire, all the while believing in the idea that it pursues success, the subject involved in a relation of love comes to identify itself with the inevitability of lack. While desire always gets entangled in the metonymic chain, where it can never be pinned down, and is in a continual condition of “that’s not it,” love accepts this un-obtainability of the satisfying object. As such, it sees the Other in its ontological negativity, paying attention to what it lacks. The observation of this common experience of an originary loss allows the subject to truly bond with the Other, to initiate a free interaction of desires in which it can enjoy its lack without feeling this lack as a deprivation. Instead of trying to escape, or domesticate its lack, the subject comes to see it as a precondition for the creative and controlled guidance of desire on the terrain of reality. Thus, in love, enjoyment is obtained not from the unconscious drive toward the repetition of failure, but from the conscious ability to freely explore the various intricacies of desire with an Other.
Through the impulse of love, objet a ceases to function as an always-unavailable sublime object that pushes us toward dissatisfaction. Rather, it coincides with the various banal objects of desire, becoming a freely chosen way through which we materialize our lack. In this way, a productive tension is inaugurated between the sublime and the banal, which enables lovers to occupy a precarious space where they weave fantasmatic fabrics in response to their lack – a contingent process that is dependent on the ability of the subject freely determine the composition of his/her fantasies. If the aforementioned right is denied to any of the participants of the love encounter, then desire, in its wish to consume the object, would fail to see the Other in its Real dimension, in its aspect of lack. And such a blindness to the lack of the Other would mean the inability of the subject to come to terms with the structural absence of objet a. Here, we can see how the generativity of love is crucially linked to the willingness of each participant to regard each other’s personal identity in the fullness of its pure singularity and Otherness, in the totality of its distinctive being. Therefore, genuine love is democratic since it has to allow the Other to unrestrictedly respond to its lack through fantasmatic materializations of this loss.
Today, neoliberalism’s social Darwinian norms have weakened the solidaristic aspects of love, romantically reducing it to sex. Gilman-Opalsky remarks that our societies “valorize youth, youthful beauty, speed, energy, and stamina.” This fetishistic portrayal of “sexual relations depicts uncontrollable passion for the other’s body and being, for an erotic explosion that is sustained over time.” Such a distorted focus on sex is accompanied by the conservative vision of “a mainly monogamous, heterosexual, and religious model of sexual togetherness [that] invariably miniaturizes love to make it fit with a narrow strand of human relationality.” “We ourselves become small private properties of someone else, with miniaturized spheres of affection…As a whole, then, shrinking love both shrinks love, domesticating it and stripping it of its social dimensions, and shrinks us down to the little commodities of some present or future family/marital unit, complete with private purposes and concerns”.
In opposition to the neoliberal depiction of sexual intercourse as the highest depiction of love, Gilman-Opalsky comments that we have to see love as “a practice that socializes a unique polyamory beyond the structure of romantic relationship. This polyamory is not about having multiple partners, and is not primarily sexual or romantic, but is instead the polyamory of a communist affection for others.” “The core idea is that love is a union with someone or something outside of oneself that in no way diminishes one’s own individuality or sense of self. The notion that displaced attention from one’s own self to another shrinks oneself is false; in fact, the individual person actually grows only in unity with others.” Love’s radical capacity to unite us all in our vulnerabilities, in our lack and in our uniqueness, can serve as a potent political tool in the fight against capitalism’s dehumanizing destruction of human relations and social sensibilities of solidarity.
Yanis Iqbal is an independent researcher and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at email@example.com. His articles have been published in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and several countries of Latin America.
The Battle for God is an ambitious book by the popular writer on religion Karin Armstrong. In it she attempts to explain the origins and goals of the major fundamentalist movements in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is a heroic attempt which she ultimately fails to accomplish. Along the way, however, she presents a useful, if fanciful, account of the history of religious fundamentalism over the last 500 years.
Why do I think she fails to accomplish her task of explicating the origins and goals of fundamentalism? The reason is she does not really understand the social role of religion and its relation to the economic base of society. Her explanations are almost uniformly conditioned by idealistic fantasies on the nature of religion as an independent force which exists in order to make us better people (more compassionate) and to help us find a truth about the nature of life that reason cannot provide.
She tells us that in olden times there were two ways of thinking and “acquiring knowledge”— namely, “mythos” [religion] and “logos” [philosophy/science]. Then religion was primary as it gave meaning to life while science “enabled men and women to function well in the world …[it] could not assuage human pain or sorrow. Rational arguments could make no sense of tragedy.” In other words, religion is a support which people who cannot face the world science reveals to them fall back upon to find comfort.
The book is divided into two unequal parts. The shorter first part deals with the prehistory of modern fundamentalism from 1492 [the expulsion of Moslems and Jews from Spain] to 1870. It is well worth reading for the orientation it gives on the pre-modern relations between traditional religion and science. Islam, for example, after an earlier embracing of science, or at least toleration, and critical thinking in its first centuries, found itself confronted with social conditions [Mongol invasions, conflicts with the West] that led it to retreat from rationality into mysticism and dogmatism: forces also at work in Judaism and Christianity for other reasons.
Some of her explanations are unacceptable, however. In her chapter “Jews and Muslims Modernize” we are informed the “Jews would … have to adopt modernity in an atmosphere of hatred,” which she blames on the “modern ethos” of the Enlightenment and on Karl Marx who “argued that the Jews were responsible for capitalism which in his view was the source of all the world’s ills.” She mentions in passing, many pages later, that Christianity had been anti-Semitic for centuries.
It will come as news to Marxists that Marx blamed capitalism on the Jews. This would be a big disappointment to the ultra-rightists who blame them for communism. Nietzsche blamed them for Christianity. It will also be news that all the ills of the world are due to capitalism. Marx and Engels devoted many pages to the problems and the “ills” of pre-capitalist economic formulations that plagued humanity - serfdom in Russia, feudalism and feudal land tenure in Germany and Eastern Europe. It might surprise Ms. Armstrong that Marx and Engels even spoke of the progressive role that capitalism had played in world history.
She justifies her claim that Marx held the Jews responsible for capitalism by a general reference (no quote) to an early work of his, “On the Jewish Question.” Had she read this work she would be hard pressed to find any statement by Marx to the effect that the Jews were responsible for capitalism. This, despite her own comment about “ the fabled business acumen of the Jews.” If Ms. Armstrong’s readers are interested in Marx's views on the origin of capitalism they should be referred to the first volume of Das Kapital.
Part Two deals with fundamentalism per se. She provides a detailed history of its development in the 20th Century focusing on Iran, Israel, and the U.S—Pakistan and Egypt also come in for special mention. These are important chapters as she relates some of the more extreme movements in Islam to the reaction of the fundamentalists to the aggressive policies of imperialism and its Zionist offshoot.
However, we are also told that the main reason for fundamentalism is that for humans it is almost impossible to live without a religious belief in the ultimate meaning of life and that fundamentalism is a reaction to the extreme threat of the Western scientific outlook to this religious need especially as it is manifested in less developed areas. She maintains that these ultimate questions of meaning cannot be addressed by science. (She means, fundamentalists do not like the answers of science).
Armstrong discusses the recent history of the West in order to show that science is no substitute for religion. World War I was brought about by “a nihilistic death wish, as the nations of Europe cultivated a perverse fantasy of self-destruction.” A good dose of Lenin’s Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism would remedy this mis-diagnosis of the causes of the First World War.
Nevertheless, we get a good introduction to the men who founded modern fundamentalist movements. Unfortunately, too much of Armstrong’s criticism is based on her own religious sensibilities. She condemns the violence of fundamentalism because she thinks that it violates “one of the central tenets of all religion: respect for the absolute sanctity of human life.” Distressingly, no such central tenet exists for any of the world’s religions, as their bloodstained histories attest.
She does mention the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homes by Zionism, and the Western role in the overthrow of Musaddiq and the restoration of the Shah in Iran. But these appear as incidental to the root cause of fundamentalism which is rooted in man’s search for meaning which has been road blocked by the Western scientific outlook.
She tells us WWII, the Holocaust, and the bombing of Hiroshima demonstrate “the limits of the rationalist” worldview. “Reason is silent: there is — literally— nothing it can say.” She appears to view the Nazis as the products of “unfettered rationalism” [!] and again, the mass destruction of WWII reveals “a nihilistic impulse.”
What can the response be to Armstrong’s position? I can only say that reason is not silent but has in fact, through the medium of Marxist analysis, explained the reasons for the wars and acts of mass destruction which the imperialist system, in its quest for market supremacy and economic domination has, and is still inflicting, on the people’s of the world.
The attack on reason as inadequate and unable to explain our world, a mainstay of the arguments of bourgeois commentators, is motivated by a refusal to admit that a rational solution involves a Marxist solution. The existing capitalist relations of production are irrational and engender the contradictions in the world economy. It is these relations, not the nihilistic impulses of European rationalists, that have been, and still are, responsible for the social anarchy we see about us.
Still, this book is recommended for the mountain of facts, names, movements, and historical accounts given of the fundamentalist religious movements of our times. But her conclusions are themselves nothing more than religious nonsense.
“At the end of the twentieth century, the liberal myth that humanity is progressing to an ever more enlightened and tolerant state looks as fantastic as any of the other millennial myths we have considered in this book. Without the constraints of a higher mythical truth, reason can on occasion become demonic and commit crimes that are as great as, if not greater than, any of the atrocities perpetrated by fundamentalists.”
Reason will not take the rap for the irrationality of the capitalist system, and no higher ‘’mythical truth’’ will solve the problems of humanity. The solution remains as it was first enunciated to the world in 1848 in The Manifesto of the Communist Party. The working people of the world must unite to end the oppression of an economic system that puts profits, at any cost, before the well being of humanity.
Thomas Riggins is a retired philosophy teacher (NYU, The New School of Social Research, among others) who received a PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center (1983). He has been active in the civil rights and peace movements since the 1960s when he was chairman of the Young People's Socialist League at Florida State University and also worked for CORE in voter registration in north Florida (Leon County). He has written for many online publications such as People's World and Political Affairs where he was an associate editor. He also served on the board of the Bertrand Russell Society and was president of the Corliss Lamont chapter in New York City of the American Humanist Association. He is the author of Reading the Classical Texts of Marxism.
In the Brazilian Amazon, as deforestation reaches record levels and rivers are increasingly polluted, the illegal gold mining contributing to these problems continues largely unabated. The response of the government has been to increase military action to curb environmental crimes in Brazil. Far from achieving this purpose, however, the military intervention has only led to tragedies in the region, directly or indirectly.
A source from the Brazilian Amazon wrote to us at Revista Opera two years ago to warn us about something strange that was going on there: illegally mined gold was being sold at the same price as legally mined gold. “If the nugget is a big one,” said the source, “they give the miner extra [money].” There was no investigation based on this information since it would have required great resources and risks, neither of which we could afford. It was just another fascinating story that was buried in the green hell (Inferno Verde) or El Dorado—terms often used to describe the immensity of the Amazon rainforest.
In August 2021, a study by the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in partnership with the Brazilian Federal Public Ministry (MPF) showed that in two years—2019 and 2020—28 percent of all gold that was both produced by and sold in Brazil appeared to have been mined illegally. Perhaps such a large influx of gold for some exceptional reason had an effect on the price paid out for mining it at a given time, or perhaps the information provided was fabricated by the source, we thought.
The study further stated that of the gold produced in the Amazon, 44 percent was found to be “irregular” or illegal, revealing how the activity continued unchecked in the region.
The Amazon has been a multifaceted obsession of Brazil’s military for some time now. During the military dictatorship, which began in 1964, the motto regarding the policy to be followed in the Amazon was “integrate not to surrender.” Later on, the motto conformed to the view that the forest was a site for a possible insurrection. In the ’80s and ’90s, Brazil’s generals would focus their attention on the incursion of Colombian left-wing guerrillas and on the trafficking of drugs and weapons. For them, the integration of the Amazon was a part of what the country’s military institutes now call a “national project.”
Media attention has focused on deforestation during the tenure of the government under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Despite the press coverage of the dark skies that were witnessed by Brazil’s major cities during the daytime in August 2019, as the smoke from the wildfires enveloped the cities, revealing the extent of deforestation in the Amazon, one fact remained hidden: the militarization of the Amazon.
During Bolsonaro’s rule, three military Law and Order Assurance Operations (GLOs) for reducing deforestation in the Amazon have been enacted: Operation Verde Brasil, which ran from August to October 2019; Operation Verde Brasil 2, between May 2020 and April 2021; and Operation Samaúma, between June and August 2021. The decrees of the operations provided Brazil’s Armed Forces with powers to take “preventive and repressive actions against environmental crimes,” and for “surveying and fighting fires.” In total, out of the 41 months that have elapsed since Bolsonaro’s government came to power, the Amazon has been under military control for almost 17 of them.
In addition, in February 2020, the National Council of the Legal Amazon was also reestablished, with its presidency being transferred from the Ministry of the Environment to the vice presidency. The council is now chaired by Army General and Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão and is composed of 16 ministries (seven of which were being directed by army officials at the time the decree established the council). The general purpose of the council is to coordinate and integrate the action of the ministries on the issues related to the Amazon, “strengthen the state’s presence in the Legal Amazon” and “coordinate actions for the prevention, inspection and repression of illicit acts.” In addition, the council is responsible for establishing special subcommittees and inviting “specialists and representatives of public or private, national or international bodies or entities to participate in the meetings.”
Despite this mandate of the council, governors, representatives of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), the National Indian Foundation (Funai)—two governmental organizations working for the protection of the environment and the traditional populations of the Amazon—Indigenous peoples, and traditional communities weren’t invited to be part of it, and 19 military officials were appointed to the thematic committees of the body—whose composition is decided by vice president Mourão—in addition to four delegates from Brazil’s Federal Police.
An article by journalist Marta Salomon in Piauí magazine in October 2020 stated how there was a “Military Buildup With Money From the Amazon” during Operation Verde Brasil 2: renovations in barracks that included painting walls, replacing floors, doors, coatings and roofs were part of the operating expenses—in addition to the secret expenses in the contracts of the Army Intelligence Center with private companies. As spending on preservation of the forest by the Ministry of the Environment fell, investments in GLO military missions in the Amazon grew by 178 percent: in 2021, 37 percent of the total spending to stop deforestation was allocated to military actions.
Another government measure involving the military (or military measure involving the government) was the “intervention” in Funai, Brazil’s official agency that is responsible for protecting and promoting Indigenous rights. An article by Daniel Giovanaz in February 2021 revealed that “[o]f the 24 regional coordinations of the National Indian Foundation (Funai) in the Legal Amazon, 14 [were] led by the military.” One of these coordinators was Jussielson Golçalves Silva, an inactive navy soldier arrested in March this year for brokering the leasing of Indigenous lands to cattle ranchers in Ribeirão Cascalheira, Mato Grosso. Another article by Marta Salomon in October 2021 mentioned the case of Army Captain Raimundo Pereira dos Santos Neto, regional coordinator of Funai in Pará state, who had sent a letter to the organization informing them that a “collaborator,” Antônio Júlio Martins de Oliveira, had built a shed on the banks of the Iriri River under the pretext of serving the Kayapó Indigenous people of the region. The collaborator was an illegal miner, and the Funai shed was being used for his illegal activities, according to Salomon’s article.
As reported before, the three GLO operations that constituted the direct military intervention over the Amazon for a year and a half cost R$550 million—almost six times the budget allocated to Ibama for environmental inspection, licensing and biodiversity management in 2020—and failed to curb deforestation in the Amazon, according to Folha de S. Paulo. Brazil’s government said that the operations “attest to intransigence in the defense of our territory.” Vice President General Mourão, president of the Amazon Council, declared that the results of Operation Samaúma were “extremely positive,” despite data showing that during the GLO operations, deforestation continued to increase. In April this year, the vice president said that the data on deforestation in the Amazon rainforest for the month—when military operations were no longer active—were “terrible, horrible.” This raises questions about the contradictions in the statements made by Mourão during and after the GLO operations and the end-results of the military intervention in the Amazon; with the situation going from “extremely positive” in August 2021 during Operation Samaúma to “terrible, horrible” a few months later, once the operation ended.
The killings of indigenist Bruno Pereira and English journalist Dom Phillips, who disappeared on June 5 in Vale do Javari, Amazonas state, certainly has nothing to do, directly, with the military intervention in the Amazon, despite the delay in beginning the search operation by the armed forces and the scandal over the notes that the Amazônia Military Command (CMA) issued, saying it was “awaiting command from the upper echelons.” Indirectly, however, the title of an article written by Phillips in 2018 explains the role played by the military intervention in their killings clearly: “Tribes in Deep Water: Gold, Guns and the Amazon’s Last Frontier.”
Pedro Marin is the editor-in-chief and founder of Revista Opera. Previously, he was a correspondent in Venezuela for Revista Opera and a columnist and international correspondent in Brazil for a German publication. He is the author of Golpe é Guerra--teses para enterrar 2016, on the impeachment of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, and coauthor of Carta no Coturno--A volta do Partido Fardado no Brasil, on the role of the military in Brazilian politics.
Will powerful men be held accountable? Will links to "intelligence" be meaningfully investigated? If it was blackmail, what was the actual target?
Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conspiring with Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse minors on Tuesday. Her lawyers have stated they will appeal the sentence.
The timing of events often strikes me as notable. Surprise witness Cassidy Hutchinson testified at the Jan. 6 hearings just as Maxwell's sentence was announced on Tuesday.
This virtually assured minimal coverage for the Maxwell verdict.
A serious hypothesis needs to be on the table that there is a massive apparatus to distract and manage information and the public mind.
Also ironic is that rapper R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years on Wednesday for abusing young women and girls.
Meanwhile, all the other wealthy and establishment white men implicated in the Epstein/Maxwell scandal seem to have evaded any meaningful justice.
Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Chris Hedges wrote during Maxwell's trial that it will "not hold to account the powerful and wealthy men who are also complicit in the sexual assaults of girls as young as twelve Maxwell allegedly procured for billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
"Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, hedge-fund billionaire Glenn Dubin, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, former Secretary of the Treasury and former president of Harvard Larry Summers, Stephen Pinker, Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz, billionaire Victoria's Secret CEO Les Wexner, the J.P. Morgan banker Jes Staley, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barack, real estate mogul Mort Zuckerman, former Maine senator George Mitchell, Harvey Weinstein and many others who were at least present and most likely participated in Epstein's perpetual Bacchanalia, are not in court. ... Epstein’s death in a New York jail cell, while officially ruled a suicide, is in the eyes of many credible investigators a murder."
In February, the British Independent reported "Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre reach ‘£10m’ settlement over sexual abuse claim." Giuffre was one of the girls targeted by Maxwell.
New York magazine just published the piece: "How Leslie Wexner Helped Create Jeffrey Epstein" about how the billionaire Wexner, whose company at one point owned Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Express, and Bath & Body Works, funded Esptein. "Epstein’s money, Upper East Side mansion, and even the Lolita Express -- originally a Boeing 727 owned by L Brands -- would all come from Wexner."
The investigative reporter Whitney Webb -- who now writes at UnlimitedHangout.com -- has been pointing to these connections for years. She has noted: “The fact the FBI won’t even touch or question Les Wexner (‘head of the snake’ of the whole op) tells you that any effort to go after Ghislaine is superficial.”
In her piece, “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Shocking Origins of the Jeffrey Epstein Case,” Webb reports that “Alex Acosta -- who arranged Epstein’s ‘sweetheart’ deal in 2008 and resigned as Donald Trump’s labor secretary following Epstein’s arrest -- claimed that the mysterious billionaire had worked for ‘intelligence.’"
Webb also wrote about Maxwell’s father, Robert, who worked with the Mossad “according to several books including Seymour Hersh’s The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy.” She adds: “In exchange for his services, the Mossad helped Maxwell satisfy his sexual appetite during his visits to Israel, providing him with prostitutes, [whom] ‘the service maintained for blackmail purposes.’” [Quoting the book Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad by Gordon Thomas.] Webb's book One Nation Under Blackmail: The Sordid Union Between Intelligence and Crime that Gave Rise to Jeffrey Epstein is scheduled to be released later this year.
It's truly remarkable how little attention this story has gotten.
The claim is often made that the media love sensationalism and sex.
The Epstein story was ignored for years and years.
And then when it finally broke, it was still limited in vital ways.
If -- as Webb charges -- the Epstein/Maxwell operation was part of a blackmail operation, the young females they targeted, used and abused would only be the most obvious victims.
It would be very different than a typical sexual abuser whose sole goal is the actual abuse.
If this was done for blackmail, with Epstein allegedly taping these powerful men having sex with underage girls, then the girls and young women would be almost a commodity used in a larger, even more heinous scheme.
The wider intended victims would then be all the people -- likely numbering millions if not billions -- on the receiving end of the policies that were enacted because of the leverage of the blackmail. The question then becomes, if it was blackmail, what was the actual goal of the operation?
"The least we owe Ukraine is full support, and to do this we need a stronger Nato [...] Today, one cannot be a leftist if one does not unequivocally stand behind Ukraine” (The Guardian, June 21, 2022).
Who is the author of the above words? Is it NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg? Or German Chancellor Olaf Scholz? Maybe Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez? None of them. The phrase belongs to a celebrity of contemporary left-wing intelligentsia. The much publicized “Hegelian Marxist” philosopher Slavoj Žižek.
Žižek's opinion on Ukraine would have been completely insignificant if the Slovenian thinker and cultural theorist had not received so much publicity in the Western media, establishing himself as one of the “most important living intellectuals”. For more than two decades, Žižek has a prominent position not only in the bourgeois press but also in the most prestigious academic institutes and think tanks in Europe and the United States.
The reality is that Slavoj Žižek is the embodiment of pseudo-marxist charlatanism who, through grandiloquent analyses, incoherent and frequently contradictory philosophical mumbo-jumbo and pompous expressions, tries to “whitewash” the exploitative system itself.
It is no coincidence that the charlatan who is now calling for a “stronger NATO” to defend Ukraine, is the same guy who in 1999 was an outspoken supporter of NATO's imperialist intervention and bombing of Yugoslavia. In his article titled “NATO, the Left Hand of God”, Žižek was writing among other things:
"Today we can see that the paradox of the bombing of Yugoslavia is not the one that Western pacifists have been complaining about -- that NATO set off the very ethnic cleansing that it was supposed to be preventing. No, the ideology of victimization is the real problem: it's perfectly fine to help the helpless Albanians against the Serbian monsters, but under no circumstances must they be permitted to throw off this helplessness, to get a hold on themselves as a sovereign and independent political subject [...] But it's not only NATO that depoliticized the conflict. So has its opponents on the pseudo-Left. For them, the bombing of Yugoslavia played out the last act of the dismemberment of Tito's Yugoslavia. It acted out the end of a promise, the collapse of a Utopia of multi-ethnic and authentic socialism into the confusion of an ethnic war. Even so sharp-sighted a political philosopher as Alain Badiou still maintains that all sides are equally guilty. There were ethnic cleansers on all sides, he says, among the Serbs, the Slovenes and the Bosnians. [...] It seems to me that this represents a leftist yearning for Yugoslavia lost. The irony is that this nostalgia considers the Serbia of Slobovan Milosevic to be the successor of that dream state -- i.e., exactly the force that so effectively killed that old Yugoslavia" (lacan.com/zizek-nato.html, June 29, 1999).
Slavoj, the outspoken supporter of NATO's horrendous crime in Yugoslavia, wasn't pleased enough of the barbarity unleashed against the Serbian people. He wanted even more bombs: “So, precisely as a Leftist, my answer to the dilemma "Bomb or not?" is: not yet ENOUGH bombs, and they are TOO LATE” (Slavoj Žižek, Against the Double Blackmail, New Left Review, 04/1999).
Four years after the crime in Yugoslavia, in 2003, the Slovenian “philosopher” was stressing out during an interview: “To the horror of many leftists, even I did show some understanding for the NATO bombing of ex-Yugoslavia. Sorry, but this bombing did stop a terrible conflict" (Left Business Observer #105, August 2003).
In 2012, Žižek openly supported SYRIZA by participating in joint political events with Alexis Tsipras, while he didn't hesitate to unleash slanders against the KKE by saying that “it is the party of the people who are still alive because they forgot to die”. He is the same charlatan who, following the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, suggested that the antidote to the deadlock of global capitalism is the militarization of society: "Democratically motivated grassroots movements are seemingly doomed to failure, so perhaps it’s best to break global capitalism’s vicious cycle through ‘militarization,’ which means suspending the power of self-regulating economies.” (Slavoj Žižek: In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots, inthesetimes.com, November 16, 2015).
A year later, in 2016, the flamboyant thinker endorsed ultra-reactionary billionaire Donald Trump for the US Presidency, calling him a “centrist liberal”. More recently, he has been seen in political panels alongside other self-proclaimed “erratic marxists”, like former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.
No, Slavoj Žižek is neither a Marxist nor a radical philosopher. He isn't a lunatic who expresses nonsense just because he wants to draw attention. On the contrary, he is a very well-read apologist of capitalist barbarism and a conscious anti-communist. As such, he vilifies the 20th century's socialism, he shamelessly attacks Lenin and promotes, either openly or covertly, the murderous imperialist alliance of NATO. Even when he pretends to defend communism, Žižek does it only in words, as an abstract theoretical issue, deliberately separating it from its social and political field of application.
So, what does Slavoj Žižek represent? He himself has provided the answer. “In short, what the sensitive liberals want is a decaffeinated revolution, a revolution which doesn't smell of a revolution” he wrote once. That is exactly what Žižek and other widely-publicized by the bourgeois media “Marxist intellectuals” (like A. Badiou, A. Negri, T. Eagleton, etc) are: Ideological waiters of a “decaffeinated revolution” and the best apologists of the exploitative capitalist system.
Nikos Mottas is the Editor-in-Chief of In Defense of Communism.
This article was republished from In Defense of Communism.