Inge Deutschkron, Holocaust survivor, author, and lecturer, was a force of nature. She died at the age of 99 on March 9, 2022, and was buried on April 8 in her hometown of Berlin, where she fought for justice against right-wing extremists.
She was honored by officials and political leaders from Berlin, few of whom knew her personally, at the funeral she planned at the Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf cemetery near Potsdam, Germany. It has architecturally striking tombs and burial places of famous people, but is difficult for friends to reach.
I happened to be in Berlin that day. I was not one of the invited guests but was told about it. Inge Deutschkron and I met in 1970 in Bonn, then the German capital. She worked out of the Reuters office for the Israeli paper Maariv and often stood over my shoulder, lecturing me as I struggled with news and the German language. We met over the years when I worked in and visited Berlin.
‘I Wore the Yellow Star'
Inge left Germany in 1968 for Israel where she worked in the foreign affairs section of Maariv. I had known she escaped the Nazis by living underground but not much more. When I was visiting Israel while working for Reuters, she gave me a copy of her book Ich trug den gelben Stern (German for “I Wore the Yellow Star”; Outcast is the English title), for which she became famous. It was her first of many books.
Inge wrote of the life-threatening experiences she and her mother faced while fleeing the Nazis—using a false identity, hiding in 22 places (backyards, garden sheds, and abandoned apartments), and constantly fearing capture. Her father, an educator and Social Democratic Party activist, fled to England before the war, but Inge and her mother were denied entry until after the war.
In one notable scene, when starved for food, she and her mother joined refugees fleeing to Berlin. Asked at a collection site her address, she said: “Giesen, Adolf Hitler Strasse, 2” (a guess she made that a town square had been named after Hitler in the village of Giesen), rightly assuming the Fuhrer was cited everywhere. She got the food.
Of the 200,000 Jews in Berlin before World War II, about 7,000 Berlin Jews had gone into hiding, and only 1,700 of them survived.
Among those who helped Inge survive was Otto Weidt, who hired her and other Jews (many of them blind and deaf) under false names for his factory that made brooms and brushes. He was the Oskar Schindler in her life, and she honored him by helping to resurrect his workshop into a museum. She told me how the blind Jews whom Weidt had harbored were finally ordered to a Nazi deportation site. They walked along streetcar tracks, single file, one by one.
A play based on her book, which is still performed in theaters in the German-speaking world, “Ab heute heist du Sara” (“From Now On, Your Name Is Sara”), depicted her odyssey during the war. I once joined the “Saras” at a party for Inge.
Why Did I Survive?
In 2013, 90-year-old Inge Deutschkron gave a speech in the German parliament on Auschwitz Memorial Day recalling those who had not survived the Holocaust: “At night, I saw them in front of me, and could not stop thinking of them. Where were they? What was done to them?… What right did I have to hide, to duck out of a fate that should have been mine as well? That feeling of guilt haunted me, it never let me go.”
In her speech, Inge also recalled the early postwar years in Bonn under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. She said that Chancellor Adenauer “had claimed in a government statement in parliament that the majority of Germans had opposed crimes against the Jews” and that “many of them even helped the Jews escape their killers.” “Ah, if only that had been the truth!” she said.
Parliamentarians stood and applauded—except for delegates from the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AFD) party, who sat in stony silence.
Was Returning to Berlin a Wise Choice?
Inge Deutschkron returned to Berlin from Israel in 1988. Annette von Broecker, the former editor-in-chief of the Reuters German-language news service, thinks the move was a mistake and believes Inge thought so too. Annette mentored Inge during her last years.
“She could have gone back to Israel and had a nice life and even written about her own experiences as an exile,” Annette told me.
While in Israel, she and Annette often took holidays together. “She was interested in so many things and enjoyed life,” Annette recalled. But in Berlin, where Inge lectured in schools and elsewhere, “she was confined to one topic: the Holocaust.”
Inge Deutschkron had the potential to have done so much more in other areas, and yet she dedicated her life to the remembrance of the Holocaust and the rise of fascism. As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, it is remarkable that she made such a significant contribution to educating the public about a horrific history—one that could be repeated if its memory is left to wilt.
Evelyn Leopold is a writing fellow and correspondent for Globetrotter. She is an independent journalist based at the United Nations and the winner of a UN Correspondents Association gold medal for her reporting. She served at Reuters as a manager, editor and correspondent in New York, Washington, London, Berlin and Nairobi. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and head of the Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists.
This article was produced by Globetrotter.
Featured image: King delivering his speech “Beyond Vietnam” at New York City’s Riverside Church in 1967. Photo John C. Goodwin.
It is disheartening to hear movement leaders say they are inspired by Martin Luther King while also supporting the U.S. proxy war against Russia. Like all wars it endangers the lives of civilian populations, enriches the military industrial complex, and robs Americans of public resources. Once King chose an anti-war stance he did not waiver in his condemnations of U.S. empire.
On April 4, 1967 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave one of the most significant speeches of his career. In “Beyond Vietnam – Time to Break Silence ” King declared his unequivocal opposition to the war in Vietnam. His very public break with Lyndon Johnson was greeted with derision, including from his own allies, who believed that the president was an ally who should not be attacked. The NAACP board passed a resolution calling King’s statement a “serious tactical mistake” that would neither “serve the cause of civil rights nor of peace.” The media joined in the condemnation, with the New York Times characterizing his comments as “facile” and “slander.” Even Black newspapers such as The Pittsburgh Courier judged his remarks to be “tragically misleading.”
It is important to remember this speech in which he declared that the United States was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” There are individuals and organizations who routinely claim King’s mantle until they fall prey to the war propaganda promoted by the present day purveyors of violence.
The Rev. Dr. William Barber is sadly one such person. In an April 30, 2022 email on the subject Moral Clarity About Our Own Atrocities he made many specious arguments on the issue of war as it pertains to U.S. policy in Ukraine.
“To see the butchery at Bucha or the massacre at Mariupol and do nothing would be to forfeit any claim to moral authority. We know this instinctively. It is why, despite the political gridlock on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats have acted swiftly to approve historic military aid to Ukraine. In the face of such a moral imperative, it would be anathema for either party to ask, “How are we going to pay for it?”
There is no independent investigation of what the Biden administration and corporate media label as “massacres.” No one who claims to act in the interests of humanity should praise the historic levels of military aid to Ukraine, an oligarchic kleptocracy under U.S. control which depends upon military and police support from openly neo-Nazi formations. So blatant are the connections that in past years members of congress have moved to ensure that these groups are denied U.S. aid .
Furthermore, Rev. Barber ought to know that questions of funding for domestic needs must always be raised. Joe Biden is requesting $33 billion in aid to Ukraine, which means money for the military industrial complex, after ending stimulus payments and other support for struggling people in this country. Barber opens his email with the story of a woman who lost children in her care to a child welfare agency after the termination of the child tax credit program plunged her into poverty. It is disturbing to see Barber’s attempt to have it both ways, demanding help for the poor while also supporting the system that keeps them in their condition.
The child tax credit which kept families afloat disappeared, along with enhanced unemployment benefits, anti-eviction protection, and free covid related treatments to the uninsured. The much vaunted Build Back Better bill is dead and Biden seems uninterested in resurrecting it. It is reasonable to ask the Biden administration for a monetary accounting and for an explanation of how their actions led to a humanitarian disaster for the Ukrainian people, mass theft from Americans’ public resources, and a risk of hot war with the Russian Federation.
Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign are preparing for a Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls taking place on June 18, 2022. His ill conceived email was meant to bring attention to this event but instead he brought attention to the deep connections that liberal politics has with right wing forces. Barber is not alone in his capitulation as members of congress who claim to be progressive march in lock step with imperialism and austerity which create suffering in this country and around the world.
Then again, perhaps Barber was directing his words to people who support the anti-Russia proxy war in Ukraine.The non-profit industrial complex and the Black political class have cast their lot with the democratic wing of the war party. At this moment they all demand obedience to the status quo which gives a veneer of concern for low wage workers who suffer because of military adventurism personified by the anti-Russia proxy war in Ukraine. What better way to kill two birds with one stone than to mobilize for the poor while also praising what King called the “giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.”
It is sad to see the name Poor People’s Campaign, which was launched by Martin Luther King, being used to support the war machine. It is even sadder to see a man like Rev. Barber succumb to the very worst narratives of American exceptionalism and demonization of another nation.
“As we all watch the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine, Americans are aware that the main difference between us and the Russian people is that we see the truth of the human slaughter that is hidden from them by Putin’s propaganda.”
The U.S. is rife with propaganda emanating from the state and corporate media. What truths do Americans recognize and expose? Sadly, too many of them believe that their nation is superior to Russia while knowing very little about that country or how living standards there compare to theirs. Do Russian police kill three people every day? Do Russians have medical debt? Are they consigned to lifetime debt peonage after attending university? Military spending in their country is a fraction , less than 10%, of what the U.S. spends. Despite all the stories of Russian atrocities and human rights violations it is the U.S. which invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, destroyed Libya in a proxy war, and now is helping its ally Saudi Arabia practice a genocide in Yemen.
We cannot separate the treatment of the marginalized from the foundational inequities present in this country. Barber cannot get justice for the poor and also uphold the contradictions he mentions. His words are troubling and frankly sad. Ignoring their harm is to give them undeserved credence.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in Black Agenda Report, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well at patreon.com/margaretkimberley and she regularly posts on Twitter @freedomrideblog. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
This article was republished from Black Agenda Report.
Cinco de Mayo is commonly associated with drinking, sombreros and many other Mexican stereotypes. It is actually a holiday celebrating the defeat of a French army by the Mexicans. Karl Marx, who’s birthday is May 5th, denounced the French invasion and sided with the Mexican people.
Mexico’s history during the 19th century was turbulent. A young country that had recently gained its independence, Mexico had to deal with both a vast territory and the unresolved question of which form of government to establish. After a brief period of monarchy, headed by Agustín de Iturbide, in the first half of the 19th century, Mexico had several coups d’etat and republican administrations that shifted between centralist (conservative) and federalist (liberal) forms of government.
After the defeat of Antonio López de Santa Anna in the US-Mexico war, the so-called Ayutla Revolution put younger politicians in power with demands for liberal reforms, including the separation of church and state as well as land reform.
The liberals’ victory in 1857 brought a new constitution that legalised the Reform laws. These laws represented first steps towards the establishment of capitalism in Mexico. However, the Conservative Party still had relatively wide support among the population. Tensions came to a breaking point as president Ignacio Comonfort carried out a self-coup and did not recognise the 1857 Constitution, reigniting the civil war. This marked the beginning of the Reform War (1858-1861)
The liberal victory in this war forced the conservatives—including many staunch monarchists—to contact the European monarchs in search of political and material aid to restore their power.
Meanwhile, Benito Juárez—who became president after Comonfort’s coup—was cornered in a tough financial situation and declared the suspension of payments of the foreign debt.
Spain, Britain and France sent troops to demand that the Mexican government immediately resume repayment of the debt. Negotiations ensued and British and Spanish troops eventually withdrew. France, however, kept its soldiers in Mexican territory. France’s second intervention in Mexico had begun.
Napoleon III: from Tragedy to Farce
Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
This is how Marx described the coup d’etat of Louis Bonaparte in France in 1852. In his famous work The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Marx drew numerous parallels between Napoleon’s original coup and the “farce” carried out by his nephew five decades later, attempting to rebuild the old French Empire that the Congress of Vienna had dismantled.
Louis Bonaparte, renamed Napoleon III, entered into discussions with the Mexican conservatives and saw an opportunity to win an ally against the growing hegemony of the United States on the American double continent. Thus, he sent Maximilian von Hapsburg to establish a puppet government for Mexico.
At the time Marx was working as a journalist and correspondent of the New York Tribune. In its pages he denounced the intervention:
The contemplated intervention in Mexico by England, France, and Spain, is, in my opinion, one of the most monstrous enterprises ever chronicled in the annals of international history. […] But, nevertheless, it is certain that the French plan was far from being matured, and that both France and Spain strove hard against a joint expedition to Mexico under English leadership.
Marx condemned the joint intervention, while at the same time apparently distancing himself from his early stance in 1848 (when he favoured the U.S. invasion of Mexico) since he now criticized how the independence of Texas was used to expand slavery.
The Battle of Puebla and the French Retreat
On May 5, 1862, Mexican troops under General Ignacio Zaragoza defended the city of Puebla from the French. Fighting alongside indigenous people from the Pueblan sierra and the villages of Xochiapulco, Tetela and Zacapoaxtla, armed with machetes, they managed to defeat the French zouaves of General Latrille de Lorencez.
Marx’s last article in the New York Tribune, coincidentally enough, refers to Mexico. Published in 1862, Marx once again denounced the joint intervention and accused the British government of taking advantage of weaker nations.
Although the war between France and Mexico—known in Mexico as “the Second French Intervention” (the first being the so-called “Pastry War” of 1838)—did not end until 1867, the heroism of the Mexicans, who resorted to guerrilla warfare, was able to defeat Maximilian’s puppet empire. Simultaneously, the growing presence of Prussia on the European and international stage pressured Napoleon III to withdraw his armies and in preparation for war against the Germans.
The end result of that war, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, was the first working-class government of history: the Paris Commune. The preface for this was Napoleon III’s failed adventure in America, defeated by the heroism of the Mexican people. This did not escape the keen eye of Karl Marx.
Óscar Ferńandez is a member of the Socialist Workers' Movement (MTS) in Mexico and a graduate of political science at the Universidad Iberoamericana. He is a Left Voice correspondant in Mexico City and a member of the editorial staff of our sister site La Izquierda Diario México as well as the magazine Ideas de Izquierda México.
This article was republished from Leftvoice.
Like many folks these days, I’ve become dependent on modern gadgetry to get through the day. I don’t leave the house without my smartphone. I don’t have much use for stamps anymore; most of my correspondence and bill-paying occurs online. I haven’t owned a camera that requires film in almost a decade. It seems that almost every aspect of my life has been replaced by a digital version, and leading this high-tech revolution is a thing called Facebook, a website I spend entirely too much time on.
Facebook has really changed the way people do things. When we throw a party, we don’t send each other invitations in the mail; we create an event on the web and invite everyone on our friends list. In fact, I’m constantly bombarded by events, including ones that are thousands of miles away, which I have no hope of ever attending even if I wanted to. But just when I thought I’d seen it all, I got one last week that was good for a chuckle.
I’d been invited to Karl Marx’s birthday party!
May 5 marks the 197th birthday of the esteemed Karl Marx, and some creative soul took the time to create a Facebook event to commemorate the occasion. I’m sure that good old Karl never imagined that people sitting in front of computer screens would be sending out invitations to his birthday celebration, the message crisscrossing the globe to friends near and far at the speed of light.
Of course, Marx was no stranger to the role of technology in society. It was he who realized that it was technology that separated humanity from the other species of our planet. Technology allowed us to rise above subsistence living, create a surplus value and a division of labor, and do more interesting things with our lives than forage for the bare necessities. He also realized that as technology became more sophisticated and the group of people who could get their hands on the latest productive property became fewer and fewer, it would push ever more people into the proletariat, the class of workers who had nothing to bring to the marketplace except labor which could easily be extorted from them. Marx saw that it was technology that carried humanity from one epoch to the next.
When you really think about it, perhaps a high-tech invitation to Marx’s birthday party isn’t so bizarre after all. But the question at the heart of the issue is whether a man born almost 200 years ago has a role to play in the era of Facebook. Have his ideas gone the way of the rotary phone?
There have been plenty of folks who have argued that the works of Marx are flawed. They say that his analyses were detached from the reality of his day and that most of his predictions didn’t come true within his lifetime. Many have pointed to the fall of Soviet socialism as an example of what they perceive as Marx’s folly. It would seem to them that there’s no room for Karl Marx in the 21st century.
I have a different opinion, however. To me, the ideas of Marxism are like a vintage wine. In many ways they’re just now coming into full bloom. If there is any kernel of truth to the claims of the naysayers, it’s because Marx, and many of those who were inspired by him during the 20th century, were ahead of their time. When we look at the defining economic phenomena of the past 40 years – globalization, corporate mega-mergers, the boom and bust economy, the decline of post-industrial America, the “proletarianizing” of the middle class in nearly every industry – we can finally see the wisdom of Marx confirmed in material reality over a century later.
Are the ideas of a 19th-century bearded guy relevant in the age of Facebook? I have no doubt in my mind that his works are more important now than ever. I just wonder what kind of embarrassing photos he would be tagged in if he had been alive to attend the party.
This article, updated this year, was originally posted in People’s World on May 5, 2010.
This article was republished from People's World.
This 1886 engraving was the most widely reproduced image of the Haymarket massacre. It shows Methodist pastor Samuel Fielden speaking, the bomb exploding, and the riot beginning simultaneously; in reality, Fielden had finished speaking before the explosion. | Chicago Historical Society
CHICAGO—On the morning of Oct. 6, 1886, Albert Parsons, native of Alabama, whose brother was a general in the Civil War, rose in a Chicago courtroom to make the last speech of his life.
He was facing his doom as one of the convicted co-called “anarchists,” one of the “detested aliens” who had been seized in the police frame-up following an explosion on Chicago’s Haymarket Square during a workers’ demonstration on May 4.
Parsons spoke long and well. He was going back over his life, telling the remarkable story of how the boy who ran with the Texas trappers and Native American traders as a kid grew up to become a leader of industrial strikes and an agitator for a new social system.
“The charge is made that we are ‘foreigners,’ as though it were a crime to be born in some other country,” he said. “My ancestors had a hand in drawing up the Declaration of Independence. My great great grand-uncle lost a hand at the Battle of Bunker Hill.” His speech then took an edge of defiant bitterness. “But I have been here long enough, I think, to have the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of my country.”
Ringing up to the ceiling of the room which was to be his death chamber, the voice of this man, a printer in the shop of the Chicago Tribune and a labor organizer after the early days of the frontier, became deep with exaltation:
“I am also an internationalist. My patriotism covers more than the boundary lines of a single state; the world is my country, and all mankind my countrymen.” Parsons was speaking against a force, a conspiracy that was determined to throttle him, and he knew it. But why was the state determined to see him dead?
The 8-hour day
The demand for an 8-hour workday was sweeping over America at that time as workers demanded relief from the 12-, 14-, or even 16-hour days that were the norm. On May 1, 1886, hundreds of thousands of workers launched a general strike—the first in the history of the United States—which saw demonstrations in all the big cities greater than anything America had ever seen.
A peaceful rally took place that evening, with speeches from Parsons and other labor leaders condemning what had happened the night before. A light rain began to fall as the meeting neared its end, and most people began to head home. Without warning, a force of some 200 police officers charged the square. A fight broke out between the cops and the crowd, and then, suddenly, a bomb was thrown. A number of police officers were killed by the explosion. Volleys of police bullets then plowed through the terrified and fleeing audience, killing at least four workers and wounding scores.
Parsons, along with several fellow organizers, were rounded up and charged with being an “accessory to murder.” Prosecutors eagerly followed advice given by the New York Times to “pick out the leaders and make such an example of them as would scare others into submission.” A Chicago newspaper was even more blunt, with editors writing, “The labor question has reached a point where blood-letting has become necessary.”
The trial was a classic case of intimidation, perjury, and forgery. The prosecution quickly gave up any attempt to prove that the men charged had thrown any bombs. No, the defendants were guilty of a far greater crime. They had inculcated among workers a theory of social change and spread in America the fearful idea of class consciousness.
Socialism on trial
As he faced the gallows, Parsons told the world that it was not just himself and the other defendants who were on trial, but rather the ideas of socialism and workers’ power. He declared to the judge, “Socialism is simple justice, because wealth is a social, not an individual product, and its appropriation by a few members of a society creates a privileged class, a class who monopolizes all the benefits of society by enslaving the producing class.”
Knowing history would absolve the leaders at Haymarket, Parsons spoke his last solemn words to the court: “They lie about us in order to deceive the people, but the people will not be deceived much longer. No, they will not.”
When the Second International, a global organization of socialist and labor parties, was founded three years later in 1889, it declared that May 1st would permanently be known as International Workers Day, in honor of the Haymarket struggle. Thus was born May Day—a global day of struggle and celebration—right here in the U.S.A.
This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared as “Haymarket Hangings Vain Effort to Halt American Labor,” in the Nov. 12, 1937 edition of the Daily Worker.
Milton Howard was the pen name of Milton Halpern, a correspondent for the Daily Worker (a People’s World predecessor publication). He served in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II and was among those who liberated the Nazi death camp at Dachau. He was later an editor for Masses and Mainstream and was subjected to government harassment during the McCarthy period.
This article was republished from People's World.
Longhouse at Ganondagan State Historic Site, Boughton Hill, Victor, NY. Haudenosaunee means “people who build a house."
Communists often hear the objection that communism can never work because it is against humanity's essentially greedy, selfish human nature. But is human nature really essentially greedy? Karl Marx and Frederick Engels argued that human nature evolved along a dialectical trajectory based on conflict over material resources. In light of this view, their bold proclamation in the 1848 Communist Manifesto that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle” begs the question: What came before class struggle, before hitherto existing society? In the Manifesto, Marx and Engels sketched out a path of social evolution that continues to influence historical materialists today. They wrote:
In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.
They described historical epochs, ancient, feudal and bourgeois, characterized by the complex relationships of oppressors to oppressed. However, it would not be until Engels’ book The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, published in 1884, that Engels attempted to explain what came before hitherto existing society, before the history of class struggle. Engels wrote The Origin of the Family using Marx’s notes for a book Marx had planned to write about the work of anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan around the time of his death in 1883. Engels described the pre-society, pre-class struggle period as primitive communism. Today the less Eurocentric term primary communism is more appropriate. According to anthropologists, this period has made up over 99 percent of human history. What can this history before society, before class struggle teach us about human nature and the potential for the revolutionary transformation of society today?
Lewis Henry Morgan
Morgan’s book League of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois.
The cover of the original 1884 German edition of On the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State acknowledges Morgan’s influence on the front cover.
Pioneer anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan was the first to identify the political economy of the extensive pre-class period as “primitive communism.” Morgan was a profound influence on Marx and Engels’ anthropological thought. Engels praised Morgan in the preface to the first edition of his book The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State published in 1884:
For Morgan in his own way had discovered afresh in America the materialistic conception of history discovered by Marx forty years ago, and in his comparison of barbarism and civilization it had led him, in the main points, to the same conclusions as Marx. And just as the professional economists in Germany were for years as busy in plagiarizing Capital as they were persistent in attempting to kill it by silence, so Morgan's Ancient Society received precisely the same treatment from the spokesmen of “prehistoric” science in England.
Much later socialists such as Sam Marcy, founder of the communist Workers’ World Party would use the less pejorative term “primary communism.” Marcy wrote in 1992, “Lewis Henry Morgan's writings on the communal life of the Iroquois in North America confirmed what the socialist movement in Europe had deduced about early societies elsewhere before written history: that there was a universal period when property was communal, there was no state, and the products of human labor were shared equitably.”
In 1851 Morgan published the League of the Ho-De-No-Sau-Nee, Or Iroquois, which became a founding text of ethnography, the scientific study of cultural customs. Morgan discovered that the Haudenosaunee had practiced “communism in living” for centuries. Haudenosaunee society planned for and met the needs of each individual. Extended families lived communally in large longhouses and shared their belongings in common. They organized inter-communal trade networks based on reciprocity. In 1881, Morgan wrote:
Among the Iroquois hospitality was an established usage. If a man entered an Indian house in any of their villages, whether a villager, a tribesman, or a stranger, it was the duty of the women therein to set food before him. An omission to do this would have been a discourtesy amounting to an affront. If hungry, he ate; if not hungry, courtesy required that he should taste the food and thank the giver. This would be repeated at every house he entered, and at whatever hour in the day.
Hospitality and harmony were key values in Haudenosaunee society.
Engels explained the conditions that made primary communism possible:
A division of the tribe or of the gens into different classes was equally impossible. And that brings us to the examination of the economic basis of these conditions. The population is extremely sparse; it is dense only at the tribe’s place of settlement, around which lie in a wide circle first the hunting grounds and then the protective belt of neutral forest, which separates the tribe from others. The division of labor is purely primitive, between the sexes only. The man fights in the wars, goes hunting and fishing, procures the raw materials of food and the tools necessary for doing so. The woman looks after the house and the preparation of food and clothing, cooks, weaves, sews. They are each master in their own sphere: the man in the forest, the woman in the house. Each is owner of the instruments which he or she makes and uses: the man of the weapons, the hunting and fishing implements, the woman of the household gear. The housekeeping is communal among several and often many families. What is made and used in common is common property — the house, the garden, the long-boat.
Key to Engels’ interpretation of Morgan was Morgan’s discovery of matrilineal society where the family lineage is traced through the female line. Marcy explained, “Primary communism based on food gathering and hunting succumbed to private ownership because it lacked the necessary concentration and development of the means of production. But private property, while more productive, also brought subjugation and degradation, first of women.” The overthrow of matrilineal society signaled the beginning of inequality and class society according to Engels:
The overthrow of mother-right was the world historical defeat of the female sex. The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude, she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children. This degraded position of the woman, especially conspicuous among the Greeks of the heroic and still more of the classical age, has gradually been palliated and glossed over, and sometimes clothed in a milder form; in no sense has it been abolished.
Engels saw Morgan’s discovery so key to understanding the origins of inequality that he wrote in the preface to the 1884 fourth edition of Origin of the Family:
This rediscovery of the primitive matriarchal gens as the earlier stage of the patriarchal gens of civilized peoples has the same importance for anthropology as Darwin’s theory of evolution has for biology and Marx’s theory of surplus value for political economy. It enabled Morgan to outline for the first time a history of the family in which for the present, so far as the material now available permits, at least the classic stages of development in their main outlines are now determined. That this opens a new epoch in the treatment of primitive history must be clear to everyone. The matriarchal gens has become the pivot on which the whole science turns; since its discovery we know where to look and what to look for in our research, and how to arrange the results. And, consequently, since Morgan’s book, progress in this field has been made at a far more rapid speed.
Engels considered Morgan’s work as groundbreaking as Darwin’s. Indeed, many of Engels’ conclusions in The Origin of the Family were as influenced by Darwin’s theories as they were by Morgan's.
When Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species was first published in 1859 it caused a sensation in the academic world. Scientists, biologists and philosophers interpreted Darwin's evolutionary model in different ways. Social Darwinism was a belief that the strong survive through natural selection and that this idea should be applied to humankind as much as Darwin applied it to the rest of nature. Social Darwinism came to dominate North American social theory in the 1870s. Social Darwinism really had little to do with Darwin. In fact, conservative Anglican Thomas Robert Malthus’ Essays on Population established the idea that “on the whole, the best live,” an idea which influenced Darwin’s concept of natural selection. It was social Darwinist theorist Herbert Spencer that actually coined the term “survival of the fittest.” Social Darwinists argued that society was rightly dominated by the powerful because they were the best of society. They argued that competition was the rule of success, not cooperation. Social Darwinism has been used to justify eugenics, imperialism, capitalism and eventually fascism. However, others combined Darwin’s theory of evolution with other kinds of evidence from zoology and anthropology and derived very different conclusions.
Russian anarchist, zoologist and theorist Peter Kropotkin argued in 1902 that mutual aid, reciprocal exchange for mutual benefit, not competition and violence, was a key factor for evolutionary success. Kropotkin wrote:
As soon as we study animals -- not in laboratories and museums only, but in the forest and the prairie, in the steppe and the mountains -- we at once perceive that though there is an immense amount of warfare and extermination going on amidst various species, and especially amidst various classes of animals, there is, at the same time, as much, or perhaps even more, of mutual support, mutual aid, and mutual defense amidst animals belonging to the same species or, at least, to the same society.
Kropotkin listed many examples of intra- and inter-species mutual aid in the animal world and concluded, “The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress.” He cited a study done by a Russian zoologist Karl Kessler who concluded that “all classes of animals, especially the higher ones, practise mutual aid” using empirical evidence collected from burying beetles, birds and mammalia. Humans were no exception. Kropotkin concluded, “It is evident that it would be quite contrary to all that we know of nature if men were an exception to so general a rule: if a creature so defenseless as man was at his beginnings should have found his protection and his way to progress, not in mutual support, like other animals, but in a reckless competition for personal advantages, with no regard to the interests of the species.” Although leader of the Russian Revolution Vladimir Lenin and Kropotkin disagreed on tactics, the two agreed that communism was the right course for humankind. Kropotkin said upon meeting Lenin:
How glad I am to see you, Vladimir Ilyich! You and I have different views. We have different points of view about a whole series of problems, both as far as the execution and organization is concerned, but our goals are the same and what you and your comrades are doing in the name of communism, pleases me very much and makes my already aging heart happy.
Lenin was so impressed by Kropotkin’s work that approved a state funeral in Moscow for Kropotkin in 1921 and allowed anarchists to march and carry anti-Bolshevik banners.
Funeral of P.A. Kropotkin in Moscow, February 13, 1921: album
Recent research has proven Kropotkin’s statement to be true of the earliest of human ancestors. Anthropologists Tim White, Gen Suwa and Berhane Asfaw discovered the Ardipithecus ramidus, one of the earliest human ancestors not shared with chimpanzees, in the Afar region of Ethiopia 1994. Their discovery was dated to about 4.5 million years ago. The discovery of Ardipithecus ramidus shed light on the trajectory of human evolution when compared with that of one of our closest relatives, the chimpanzee. Chimpanzee teeth have what is called a honing-complex, which means they have long canines that are used to rip apart tough meats. Homo sapiens and Ar. ramidus do not have a honing complex. The canines of Ar. ramidus are significantly “feminized,” meaning they are not sexually dimorphic. Sexual dimorphism is when species develop traits specific to the male or female sex. Smaller canine teeth indicate that the Ar. ramidus likely exhibited significantly less male-male aggression, when compared with primates like chimpanzees. A lesser degree of sexual dimorpohism could also mean a greater amount of equality between the sexes. Suwa et al write, “The dental evidence leads to the hypothesis that the last common ancestors of African apes and hominids were characterized by relatively low levels of canine, postcanine, and body size dimorphism. These were probably the anatomical correlates of comparatively weak amounts of male-male competition, perhaps associated with male philopatry and a tendency for male-female codominance as seen in P. paniscus and ateline species.” This evidence indicated that the earlier work of primatologists like Jane Goodall, who tried to make inferences about human nature from studies with chimpanzees and other aggressive ape species, was less relevant to human nature since decreased aggression seems to be what set the human line apart from the apes. The human evolutionary line appears to indicate that parental investment, cooperation and gender equality, not competition and violence, were at least partially responsible for the evolutionary adaptations like upright walking and larger brain size that contributed to the formation of more complex modern Homo sapiens.
The anthropologist Alfred Radcliffe-Brown applied Kropotkin’s concept of mutual aid to his ethnological and ethnographic work in the 1930s. He said of Kropotkin’s influence, “Like other young men with blood in their veins, I wanted to do something to reform the world – to get rid of poverty and war, and so on. So I read Godwin, Proudhon, Marx and innumerable others. Kropotkin, revolutionary, but still a scientist, pointed out how important for any attempt to improve society was a scientific understanding of it.” Radcliffe-Brown studied kin relationships in South Africa and found that joking was one way to defuse potentially disruptive behavior. He wrote, “The show of hostility, the perpetual disrespect, is a continual expression of that social disjunction which is an essential part of the whole structural situation, but over which, without destroying or even weakening it, there is provided the social conjunction of friendliness and mutual aid.” He also proposed that the primary factor in the maintenance of society is not governmental pressure, but social pressure. He wrote, “A social relation does not result from a similarity of interests, but rests either on the mutual interest of persons in one another, or on one or more common interests, or on a combination of both of these…. [W]hat is called conscience is thus in the widest sense the reflex in the individual of the sanctions of society.” Radcliffe-Brown acknowledged, as Kropotkin did, that cooperation and mutual aid drove social evolution through collective responsibility, not coercive force.
Other anthropologists have suggested the origins of trade and material exchange were not the result of greed and competition, either, but the result of the law of reciprocity. Reciprocity is mutually beneficial exchange without immediate reward. It is also known as gift economy. The French anthropologist Marcel Mauss wrote on gift-giving economy in his book The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies. In it he wrote, “In Scandinavian civilization, and in a good number of others, exchanges and contracts take place in the form of presents; in theory these are voluntary, in reality they are given and reciprocated obligatorily.” He described the process of gift giving as potlatch, using the North American Chinook term. Anthropologist Frans Boas demonstrated the meaning of potlatch by quoting Chief O'wax̱a̱laga̱lis of the Kwagu'ł of British Columbia for his 1888 article “The Indians of British Columbia”:
We will dance when our laws command us to dance, we will feast when our hearts desire to feast. Do we ask the white man, 'Do as the Indian does'? No, we do not. Why, then, will you ask us, 'Do as the white man does'? It is a strict law that bids us to dance. It is a strict law that bids us to distribute our property among our friends and neighbors. It is a good law. Let the white man observe his law; we shall observe ours. And now, if you are come to forbid us to dance, begone; if not, you will be welcome to us.
Mauss describes the potlatch tradition as universal amongst archaic societies. In the Maori culture of New Zealand, for example, all goods possess a spiritual power that is exchanged along with the gift. This spiritual power is called hau and the physical gift is called tonga. A Maori juridical expert explained it best in Mauss’ book:
The tonga and all gods termed strictly personal possess a hau, a spiritual power. You give me one of them, and I pass it on to a third party; he gives another to me in turn, because he is impelled to do so by the hau my present possesses. I for my part, am obliged to give you that thing because I must return to you what is in reality the effect of the hau of your tonga.
This system of reciprocity was a form of exchange that predated both barter, direct trade, and mercantile, trade for currency, exchange. In his conclusion Mauss was optimistic about the elevation of the social over the individual. He wrote, “The brutish pursuit of individual ends is harmful to the ends and the peace of all, to the rhythm of their work and joys – and rebounds on the individual himself.” He then critiqued capitalism, saying that under the contemporary system men are turned into machines forced to exchange their labor for less than its true value. He argued that the workers of all societies and historical epochs expected to be fairly rewarded for their efforts, and that the individualistic type of economy did not do this. He stated that there was self interest in gift giving, but it is only self interest in the sense that what is good for the whole is good for the individual.
Another French anthropologist, Pierre Clastres, wrote about the institution of the chief and his role in mutual aid and gift giving. In his book Society Against the State, published in 1974, Clastres studied the Guaraní and Chulupi of Paraguay and Argentina and the Yanomami peoples of Venezuela and Brazil. He wrote that chiefs in so-called “Indian” societies of South America were required to give most of what they had for the greater good of the community. Clastres argued there were no societies without political power, but there was a difference between coercive power and non-coercive power. He wrote, “The model of coercive power is adopted… only in exceptional circumstances when the group faces an external threat.” Normally, civil power was based on consensus and its function was pacification. The chief existed to maintain the peace and harmony of the group. The chief was required to give up his belongings to help the greater good of the community. Therefore, greed and power were incompatible. In this way the chief was not so much a ruler, but a servant of the people.
Italian communist theorist Antonio Gramsci argued that there were two main factors at play in the maintenance of a society: the state and civil society. The state was a coercive apparatus represented by the violent dictatorship of the military, police and carceral apparati. Civil society was the realm of soft power, dominated by the social and cultural hegemony of the ruling class that legitimized that class’s domination. However, there was another force, that of counter-hegemony, that existed in the realm of the proletariat. This kind of hegemony existed in subversion of the ruling class. Gramsci argued that a permanent proletarian hegemony must exist to oust the bourgeoisie, the ruling class of bourgeois or capitalist society.
Clastres argued the chiefdoms of South America had achieved a healthy balance between hegemony and counter-hegemony. He wrote, “It is in the nature of primitive society to know that violence is the essence of power. Deeply rooted in that knowledge is the concern to constantly keep power apart from the institution of power, command apart from the chief.” In his conclusion he writes, “…what the Savages exhibit is the continual effort to prevent chiefs from being chiefs, the refusal of unification, the endeavor to exorcize the One, the State.”
Anthropologist Marshall Sahlins argued in his book Stone Age Economics, published in 1972, that while industrial society attempted to achieve affluence through producing much, primary communist society actually achieved affluence through desiring little. Sahlins based his claims on data from two contemporary hunter gatherer societies: the Arnhem Landers of Australia and the Dobe Bushmen of Kalahari Africa. His most surprising claim was that the average amount of time spent in the procuring of food for these primary communists was about four to five hours a day. The rest of their time was spent in leisure and sleep activities. Despite problems with Sahlins’ data and conclusions, his theory of “original affluence” turned hunter gatherer society from a painful life of toil to an enviable, easy life of leisure and affluence in anthropological discourse.
Data from anthropologists suggests the opposite of the social Darwinist and “objectivist” claim that human nature is essentially greedy. In fact, the research of anthropologists reveals that the vast majority of human history was stateless, egalitarian and communal. Mutual aid, reciprocity and communal kinship bonds, not greed, completion and violence, prompted the first leaps in human evolution. If humanity had communism for most of its history we can have communism again. According to Sam Marcy, “The discovery of the early communist societies refuted the canard assiduously cultivated by apologists for the bourgeoisie: that a planned society is utopian, that humankind cannot plan its own society on the basis of common ownership of the means of production and equitable distribution of the products of labor. People had done just that for hundreds of thousands of years.”
 Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, “Manifesto of the Communist Party,” Communist Manifesto (Chapter 1), https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm#007.
 Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto.
 Richard B. Lee and Richard Daly, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers, (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 1.
 Frederick Engels, “Preface to the First Edition, 1884,” Origins of the Family- Preface (1884), https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1884/origin-family/preface.htm.
 Sam Marcy, “Soviet Socialism: Utopian or Scientific - Utopian socialist experiments,” https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/marcy/sovietsocialism/sovsoc1.html.
 Morgan, Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines, 44.
 Lewis Henry Morgan, Houses and House-Life of the American Aborigines, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1881), 45.
 Engels, The Origin of the Family.
 Marcy, “Soviet Socialism.”
 Frederick Engels, “Preface to the Fourth Edition, 1891,” Origins of the Family. Preface (1891), https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1884/origin-family/preface2.htm.
 Gregory Claeys, “The ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and the Origins of Social Darwinism.” Journal of
the History of Ideas. 61.2 (2000): 223.
 Claeys, “The Survival of the Fittest.”
 Peter Kropotkin, Mutual aid: A factor of evolution, 1902,, https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/kropotkin-peter/1902/mutual-aid/ch01.htm.
 Kropotkin, Mutual Aid.
 Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich, “A meeting between V.I. Lenin and P. A. Kropotkin,” accessed January 22, 2022, https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/kropotkin-peter/1917/a-meeting.html.
 Emma Goldman, Living My Life, (New York: Dover Publications, 1970), 867.
 Gen Suwa et al., “Paleobiological Implications of the Ardipithecus Ramidus Dentition,” Science 326, no. 5949 (February 2009): pp. 69-99, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1175824.
 George W. Stocking Jr., After Tylor, British Social Anthropology, 1888–1951, (Madison, Univ Wisconsin, 1995), 305.
 Richard J. Perry, “Radcliffe-Brown and Kropotkin: The Heritage of Anarchism in British Social
Anthropology,.” Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers, 51-52, (1975): 63.
 Perry, “Radcliffe-Brown and Kropotkin,” 63.
 Marcel Mauss, The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies, Trans. W. D.
Halls, (London: W. W. Norton, 1990), 3.
 Franz Boas, "The Indians of British Columbia," The Popular Science Monthly, March 1888 (vol. 32), p. 631.
 Marcel Mauss, The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies. Trans. W. D.
Halls, (London: W. W. Norton, 1990), 11.
 Mauss, The Gift, 77.
 Ibid., 77
 Pierre Clastres, Society Against the State, Trans.: Robert Hurley and Abe Stein, (New York:
Zone Books, 1987), 30.
 Ibid., 30
 Dominic Mastroianni, “Hegemony in Gramsci,” https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/postcolonialstudies/2014/06/20/hegemony-in-gramsci/
 Pozo, Luis M. “The Roots of Hegemony: The Mechanisms of Class Accommodation and the
Emergence of the Nation-people.” Capital and Class. 91. (2007): 55-89.
 Clastres, Society Against the State, 154.
 Ibid., 218.
 Marshall David Sahlins, Stone Age Economics, (Chicago: Aldine-Atherton, 1972).
 A key objection to Sahlins’ conclusion is that he did not factor food preparation into the “food question” calculations he did on the Dobe !Kung and Arnhem Landers. David Kaplan, “The Darker Side of the ‘Original Affluent Society,’” Journal of Anthropological Research 56, no. 3 (2000): pp. 301-324, https://doi.org/10.1086/jar.56.3.3631086.
 Marcy, “Soviet Socialism.”
Mitchell K. Jones is a historian and activist from Rochester, NY. He has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in history from the College at Brockport, State University of New York. He has written on utopian socialism in the antebellum United States. His research interests include early America, communal societies, antebellum reform movements, religious sects, working class institutions, labor history, abolitionism and the American Civil War. His master’s thesis, entitled “Hunting for Harmony: The Skaneateles Community and Communitism in Upstate New York: 1825-1853” examines the radical abolitionist John Anderson Collins and his utopian project in Upstate New York. Jones is a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
V.I. Lenin was born on April 22, 1870. He was the leader of the October 1917 Russian Socialist Revolution – one of the most monumental events of the twentieth century. The militant rise of the Russian people on this occasion sent shockwaves throughout the world. Tyrants, colonizers, exploiters, and oppressors were left in disbelief.
His leadership inspired hundreds of millions oppressed and exploited people on every continent. The Russian Revolution under Lenin’s leadership impacted the Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Cuban revolutions, as well as many progressive movements throughout the world.
Lenin’s tactical prowess is revered by revolutionaries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. As a result of his influential and strategic direction, Leninism became a guiding principle among revolutionary leaders, such as Amilcar Cabral, Celia Sanchez, Ho Chi Minh, Claudia Jones, Madame Nguyễn Thị Định, Fidel Castro Ruz, Nguyễn Thị Bình, Ernesto Che Guevara, Mao Zedong, Steve Biko and many more international historic figures.
A beautiful painting depicting Lenin address armed workers Soviets at the moment of revolution.
Moreover, renown Puerto Rican activists like Juana Colon and Nationalist Juan Antonio Corretjer, African American leaders like Cyril Briggs, W.E.B. Dubois, Harry Haywood, Paul Robeson, and others, were all influenced by what Lenin represented politically – the necessity to bring about a socialist society.
In the 1960’s-70’, both the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords Party (Puerto Rican/Latinx allies of the BPP) read Lenin’s writings as part of their mandatory political education classes. Their study curriculum included Lenin’s “Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism,” and “State and Revolution.”
After a century since the Bolshevik leader’s death, his legacy never stopped posing a threat to the capitalist system. And because Lenin’s persona is viewed with disdain by the mainstream, his name continues to be vilified by the anti-communism of bourgeois historians, educators, news media, and religious institutions.
In 1934 the billionaire John D. Rockefeller expressed precisely that contempt. Rockefeller ordered the destruction of a mural at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, because it contained a portrait of V.I. Lenin. The mural was the creation of renown Mexican painter Diego Rivera, who Rockefeller himself had commissioned.
Lenin standing with other Bolsheviks a few days after the seizure of power.
One of Lenin’s most fundamental principles was the need for the working class to create its own political and organizational system, with the highest sophistication. Despite attempts to trivialize and distort his teachings, Lenin was firmly consistent in his belief that human suffering could only end by denying the billionaire class the “right” to political power, that is, by working people eliminating the capitalist state.
Lenin was stern about eliminating the police, courts, prisons, and military under capitalist rule, due to its inherent disregard for the well-being of working class and oppressed people.
Given the current situation in the United States, with rampant police violence, food prices and rents skyrocketing, including the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lessons drawn from Lenin’s leadership and teachings continue to prove applicable to the reality of today’s world.
My portrait of V.I. Lenin. 24″ X 30″, acrylic paint on canvas. Completed March 2022.
Part and parcel to stripping the capitalist class of their power is denying them “ownership” to the wealth they robbed from the people over many generations. According to Lenin “The expropriators would be expropriated.” His vision of a future socialist society was based on the Marxist premise – where working people produce and provide services while also taking part in managing all aspects of the economy.
Today, Lenin’s views on the state and bourgeois “property rights” are targeted by enemies of socialism – including by some who claim to be “socialists” but are insidiously hostile to his teachings.
In addition, with the premise that the world is comprised of many nations, is why Lenin was adamant and uncompromising about respecting the right of self-determination for all oppressed national entities, specifically conquered and colonized people.
Lenin often spoke out about racism in the United States, specifically, the plight of the African American masses and their fight against racist discrimination and all forms of violence, especially the heinous act of lynching.
Lenin understood that the persecution of African Americans and the downtrodden economic position they have been kept in has served to perpetuate racial divisions. He also understood how the centuries-long enslavement of Black labor became the impetus for the economic might of United States imperialism.
At a meeting of the Communist International (Comintern), a body made up of representatives from various Communist Parties, Lenin voiced support for a proposed resolution that raised the right of African Americans to succession. That is, the right of Black people to break away and create their own state in a separate territory, presumably in the Southern part of the United States. Lenin believed that if African Americans wished to succeed it would be perfectly within their right to self-determination.
Additionally, Lenin was critical of the United States for launching the 1898 Spanish-American War, in which Guam, the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico were militarily invaded and colonized. It was Lenin who characterized that event as “the first Imperialist war.”
What V.I. Lenin demonstrated with his character and genius was the power freedom fighters possess when they fight for a better world. His teachings will undoubtedly continue to influence working class struggles and national liberation movements everywhere, until the emancipation of humanity is finally achieved.
LONG LIVE THE LEGACY OF V.I. LENIN!
Carlos “Carlito” Rovira
This article was republished from Carlitoboricua.
More than 100 years after World War I, Europe’s leaders are sleepwalking toward a new all-out war. In 1914, the European governments believed that the war would last three weeks; it lasted four years and resulted in more than 20 million deaths. The same nonchalance is visible with the war in Ukraine. The dominant view is that the aggressor should be left broken and humbled. Then, the defeated power was Germany. Some dissenting voices, such as John Maynard Keynes, felt that the humbling of Germany would be a disaster. Their warnings went unheeded. Twenty-one years later, Europe was back at war, which lasted six years and killed 70 million people. History neither repeats itself nor seems to teach us anything, but it does illustrate similarities and differences.
The hundred years before 1914 offered Europe relative peace. What wars took place were of a short-lived nature. The reason for this was the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), which brought together the victors and the vanquished from the Napoleonic wars to create a lasting peace. The chair of the conference was Klemens von Metternich, who made sure that the defeated power (France) paid for its actions with territorial losses but that it signed the treaty along with Austria, England, Prussia, and Russia to secure peace with dignity.
Negotiation or Total Defeat
While the Napoleonic wars took place between European powers, today’s war is between a European (Russia) and a non-European (United States) power. It is a proxy war, with both sides using a third country (Ukraine) to achieve geostrategic goals that go well beyond the country in question and the continent to which it belongs. Russia is at war with Ukraine because it is a war with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is commanded by the United States. NATO has been at the service of U.S. geostrategic interests. Once a steadfast champion of the self-determination of peoples, Russia is now illegally sacrificing these same principles to assert its own security concerns, after failing to have them recognized through peaceful means, and out of an undisguised imperial nostalgia. For its part, since the end of the first cold war, the U.S. has striven to deepen Russia’s defeat, a defeat which in fact was probably more self-inflicted than brought about by any superiority on the part of its opponent.
From NATO’s perspective, the goal of the war in Ukraine is to inflict an unconditional defeat on Russia, preferably one that leads to regime change in Moscow. The duration of the war depends on that goal. Where is Russia’s incentive to end the war when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson permits himself to say that sanctions against Russia will continue, no matter what Russia’s position is now? Would it be sufficient for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be ousted (as was the case with Napoleon in 1815), or is the truth of the matter that the NATO countries insist on the ousting of Russia itself so that China’s expansion can be halted? There was also regime change in the 1918 humbling of Germany, but it all ended up leading to Hitler and an even more devastating war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s political greatness could be construed as being either in recognition of the brave patriot who defends his country from the invader to the last drop of blood or in recognition of the brave patriot who, faced with the imminence of so many innocent deaths and the asymmetry in military strength, successfully enlists the support of his allies to negotiate fiercely to secure a dignified peace. The fact that the former construction is now the prevalent one probably has little to do with President Zelenskyy’s personal preferences.
Where Is Europe?
During the two world wars of the 20th century, Europe was the self-proclaimed center of the world. That is why we call the two wars world wars. About 4 million of Europe’s troops were in fact African and Asian. Many thousands of non-European deaths were the price paid by the inhabitants of remote colonies of the countries involved, sacrificed in a war that did not concern them.
Now, Europe is but a small corner of the world, which the war in Ukraine will render even smaller. For centuries, Europe was merely the western tip of Eurasia, the huge landmass that stretched from China to the Iberian Peninsula and witnessed the exchange of knowledge, products, scientific innovations, and cultures. Much of what was later attributed to European exceptionalism (from the scientific revolution of the 16th century to the industrial revolution in the 19th century) cannot be understood, nor would it have been possible, without those centuries-old exchanges. The war in Ukraine—especially if it goes on for too long—runs the risk not only of amputating one of Europe’s historic powers (Russia), but also of isolating it from the rest of the world, notably from China.
The world is far bigger than what you get to see through European or North American lenses. Seeing through these lenses, Europeans have never felt so strong, so close to their larger partner, so sure of standing on the right side of history, with the whole planet being run by the rules of the “liberal order,” a world finally feeling strong enough to go forth sometime soon and conquer—or at least neutralize—China, after having destroyed China’s main partner, Russia.
Seeing through non-European lenses, on the other hand, Europe and the U.S. stand haughtily all but alone, probably capable of winning one battle, but on their way to certain defeat in the war of history. More than half of the world’s population lives in countries that have decided not to join the sanctions against Russia. Many of the United Nations member states that voted (rightly) against the illegal invasion of Ukraine did so based on their historical experience, which consisted of being invaded, not by Russia, but rather by the U.S., England, France, or Israel. Their decision was not dictated by ignorance, but by precaution. How can they trust countries that created SWIFT—a financial transfer system aimed at protecting economic transactions against political interference—only to end up removing from that system a country on political grounds? Countries that arrogate to themselves the power to confiscate the financial and gold reserves of sovereign nations like Afghanistan, Venezuela, and now Russia? Countries that trumpet freedom of expression as a sacrosanct universal value, but resort to censorship the moment they are exposed by it? Countries that are supposed to cherish democracy and yet have no qualms about staging a coup whenever an election goes against their interests? Countries in whose eyes the “dictator” Nicolás Maduro becomes a trading partner overnight because the circumstances have changed? The world is no longer a place of innocence—if it ever was.
Boaventura de Sousa Santos is the emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. His most recent book is Decolonizing the University: The Challenge of Deep Cognitive Justice.
This article was produced by Globetrotter.
Photo credit: Yinan Chen on WikiMedia Commons (CC0 Public Domain).
Late 19th and early 20th century Hot Springs, Arkansas was a breeding ground for corruption. A police department controlled by the wealthy collected debts for the powerful families that ran the city, Al Capone visited the Arlington Hotel regularly, and firefights in the street were a common occurrence. Poverty was rampant and brutal.
Amid this chaotic backdrop, the Socialist Party of Hot Springs began publishing a socialist newspaper called Clarion.
What follows are excerpts and clippings from the only issue available – published May 17, 1913 – in the Arkansas state archives.
Hot Springs Clarion
Published every Saturday by the Socialist Co-Operative Publishing Company.
Editor… T.W. Bryan
Secretary & Treasurer… D.G. Sleeper
Local Hot Springs
Meets every Saturday night at 8:?? at Gower and Williams store [unintelligible]
YOU MUST LEARN TO GOVERN YOURSELVES
Why has the laboring class always got the worst of it? Because they always thought they wanted leaders. Of course, the leader came first in control of things and presently had all the real estate and goods in sight. Let us build a democracy. Join the Socialist Party and attend every meeting, then you will have YOUR say about running first the party and then the whole country. Learn to govern yourselves collectively.
Socialist Party Members in the Professions
An effort is being made by the Information Department to collect the names of the members of the Socialist Party who belong to the professions. There is a two fold object in this effort – first, to show the proportion of educated and especially trained men in the Socialist Party, and, second, (and what is very much more important) to enlist the technically trained comrades in the constructive work which the party must do. More and more the comrades everywhere are realising their need of technical information that can be relied upon to help them in their tasks as members of city councils, school boards and state legislatures. Already a number of consulting engineers, scientists, special students and others are assisting the party thru this department. It is hoped that this list may be greatly lengthened and strengthened.
Comrades who themselves have some technical training in any particular line, or who know of comrades who have such attainments, should send the information to this department and correspondence will be opened with them.
Notes from our local papers
Under a co-operative government there would be nothing of value with which to bribe a public officer. As mining stock and railway stock would be like stock in a post office or public road. Everyone would have all they could use, but wouldn’t walk a city block for some other fellows share. Money can never be a true measure of value, for it is a product of labor and creature of law, and is no truer or nearer correct than watched or baled hay would be. There are those who are tired of measuring their own value of their happiness and the welfare of their posterity, by so changeable a standard as money. –McAlester
Comrade May Walden was with us three days this week. She is woman’s correspondent for the state of Illinois, and is doing special work among the women. The cry now is “A 50 percent woman membership in the Socialist Party.” A very interesting meeting was held at the Unitarian church in which Comrade Walden impressed upon the ladies the importance of Socialism to the women. –Moline
We notice that in the Sunday issue of the Arkansas Gazette, an entire page of the magazine section was devoted to the exposure of the Krupp Gun Works in Germany, by the socialist leader, Dr. Leibnecht. He charges that the Krupps were responsible for the semi-annual German-France war scare that consumes so large an amount of space in the Capitalist dailies has been fully substantiated, the Krupps admitting that they bought French newspapers for the purpose of fanning the hatred supposed to exist between the two nations for the purpose of selling armor/plate and guns to the government. Some day when the facts are brought to light we will find the Steel Trust is behind the anti-Japanese agitation in this country, and in the light of recent developments, that anti-Jap [sic] act of the California legislature is significant. This much is certain – even though murder machine manufacturers are able to buy newspapers to fan the flame of international hatred, if the workers of the world will refuse to furnish the corpses there will be no more wars.
What We Stand For
For a world without a master,
a world without a slave.
Where none shall kneel and ask permit
to work, or favor crave.
Where thrones and kings and priests and snobs,
and creed and greed are past.
For human brotherhood is law,
And love’s enthroned at last.
A world where right and reason rule,
and law supreme of love,
As Jesus said when here on earth,
The Kingdom from above.
Rev. Geo. D. Coleman
Socialism the Way Out
In the place of the present capitalist system Socialism proposes the new social order – the collective ownership and the democratic operation of the natural resources and social utilities upon which the coming of life and labor of the people depend for the common good of all.
This, the Socialist movement declares to be the supreme issue – the only possible solution – the only [?] relief – the only program worth while.
Compared to this, everything else is unimportant. Without this, everything else is useless.
Henceforth Socialism is the supreme issue – the only way out.
However while holding firmly and steadily to the final goal the Socialist party nevertheless offers a constructive program for immediate action, formulates measures that will aid in bringing about the new socialist order, and leads the way in the struggle for the higher civilization. –Socialist Campaign [unintelligible]
This article was produced by Arkansas Worker.
Photo credit: MaxPixel (CC0 Public Domain)
A Militant Celebration
Women’s Day or Working Women’s Day is a day of international solidarity, and a day for reviewing the strength and organization of proletarian women.
But this is not a special day for women alone. The 8th of March is a historic and memorable day for the workers and peasants, for all the Russian workers and for the workers of the whole world. In 1917, on this day, the great February revolution broke out. 1 It was the working women of Petersburg who began this revolution; it was they who first decided to raise the banner of opposition to the Tsar and his associates. And so, working women’s day is a double celebration for us.
But if this is a general holiday for all the proletariat, why do we call it “Women’s Day”? Why then do we hold special celebrations and meetings aimed above all at the women workers and the peasant women? Doesn’t this jeopardize the unity and solidarity of the working class? To answer these questions, we have to look back and see how Women’s Day came about and for what purpose it was organized.
How and Why was Women’s Day Organised?
Not very long ago, in fact about ten years ago, the question of women’s equality, and the question of whether women could take part in government alongside men was being hotly debated. The working class in all capitalist countries struggled for the rights of working women: the bourgeoisie did not want to accept these rights. It was not in the interest of the bourgeoisie to strengthen the vote of the working class in parliament; and in every country they hindered the passing of laws that gave the right to working women.
Socialists in North America insisted upon their demands for the vote with particular persistence. On the 28th of February, 1909, the women socialists of the U.S.A. organized huge demonstrations and meetings all over the country demanding political rights for working women. This was the first “Woman’s Day”. The initiative on organizing a woman’s day thus belongs to the working women of America.
In 1910, at the Second International Conference of Working Women, Clara Zetkin 2 brought forward the question of organizing an International Working Women’s Day. The conference decided that every year, in every country, they should celebrate on the same day a “Women’s Day” under the slogan “The vote for women will unite our strength in the struggle for socialism”.
During these years, the question of making parliament more democratic, i.e., of widening the franchise and extending the vote to women, was a vital issue. Even before the first world war, the workers had the right to vote in all bourgeois countries except Russia. 3 Only women, along with the insane, remained without these rights. Yet, at the same time, the harsh reality of capitalism demanded the participation of women in the country’s economy. Every year there was an increase in the number of women who had to work in the factories and workshops, or as servants and charwomen. Women worked alongside men and the wealth of the country was created by their hands. But women remained without the vote.
But in the last years before the war the rise in prices forced even the most peaceful housewife to take an interest in questions of politics and to protest loudly against the bourgeoisie’s economy of plunder. “Housewives uprisings” became increasingly frequent, flaring up at different times in Austria, England, France and Germany.
The working women understood that it wasn’t enough to break up the stalls at the market or threaten the odd merchant: They understood that such action doesn’t bring down the cost of living. You have to change the politics of the government. And to achieve this, the working class has to see that the franchise is widened.
It was decided to have a Woman’s Day in every country as a form of struggle in getting working women to vote. This day was to be a day of international solidarity in the fight for common objectives and a day for reviewing the organized strength of working women under the banner of socialism.
The First International Women’s Day
The decision taken at the Second International Congress of Socialist Women was not left on paper. It was decided to hold the first International Women’s Day on the 19th of March, 1911.
This date was not chosen at random. Our German comrades picked the day because of its historic importance for the German proletariat. On the 19th of March in the year of 1848 revolution, the Prussian king recognized for the first time the strength of the armed people and gave way before the threat of a proletarian uprising. Among the many promise he made, which he later failed to keep, was the introduction of votes for women.
After January 11, efforts were made in Germany and Austria to prepare for Women’s Day. They made known the plans for a demonstration both by word of mouth and in the press. During the week before Women’s Day two journals appeared: The Vote for Women in Germany and Women’s Day in Austria. The various articles devoted to Women’s Day – “Women and Parliament,” “The Working Women and Municipal Affairs,” “What Has the Housewife got to do with Politics?”, etc. – analyzed thoroughly the question of the equality of women in the government and in society. All the articles emphasized the same point: that it was absolutely necessary to make parliament more democratic by extending the franchise to women.
The first International Women’s Day took place in 1911. Its success succeeded all expectation. Germany and Austria on Working Women’s Day was one seething, trembling sea of women. Meetings were organized everywhere – in the small towns and even in the villages halls were packed so full that they had to ask male workers to give up their places for the women.
This was certainly the first show of militancy by the working woman. Men stayed at home with their children for a change, and their wives, the captive housewives, went to meetings. During the largest street demonstrations, in which 30,000 were taking part, the police decided to remove the demonstrators’ banners: the women workers made a stand. In the scuffle that followed, bloodshed was averted only with the help of the socialist deputies in Parliament.
In 1913 International Women’s Day was transferred to the 8th of March. This day has remained the working women’s day of militancy.
Is Women’s Day Necessary?
Women’s Day in America and Europe had amazing results. It’s true that not a single bourgeois parliament thought of making concessions to the workers or of responding to the women’s demands. For at that time, the bourgeoisie was not threatened by a socialist revolution.
But Women’s Day did achieve something. It turned out above all to be an excellent method of agitation among the less political of our proletarian sisters. They could not help but turn their attention to the meetings, demonstrations, posters, pamphlets and newspapers that were devoted to Women’s Day. Even the politically backward working woman thought to herself: “This is our day, the festival for working women,” and she hurried to the meetings and demonstrations. After each Working Women’s Day, more women joined the socialist parties and the trade unions grew. Organizations improved and political consciousness developed.
Women’s Day served yet another function; it strengthened the international solidarity of the workers. The parties in different countries usually exchange speakers for this occasion: German comrades go to England, English comrades go to Holland, etc. The international cohesion of the working class has become strong and firm and this means that the fighting strength of the proletariat as a whole has grown.
These are the results of working women’s day of militancy. The day of working women’s militancy helps increase the consciousness and organization of proletarian women. And this means that its contribution is essential to the success of those fighting for a better future for the working class.
Women Workers Day In Russia
The Russia working woman first took part in “Working Women’s Day” in 1913. This was a time of reaction when Tsarism held the workers and peasants in its vise like a grip. There could be no thought of celebrating “Working Women’s Day” by open demonstrations. But the organized working women were able to mark their international day. Both the legal newspapers of the working class – the Bolshevik Pravda and the Menshevik Looch – carried articles about the International Women’s Day: 4 they carried special articles, portraits of some of those taking part in the working women’s movement and greetings from comrades such as Bebel and Zetkin. 5
In those bleak years meetings were forbidden. But in Petrograd, at the Kalashaikovsky Exchange, those women workers who belonged to the Party organized a public forum on “The Woman Question.” Entrance was five kopecks. This was an illegal meeting but the hall was absolutely packed. Members of the Party spoke. But this animated “closed” meeting had hardly finished when the police, alarmed at such proceedings, intervened and arrested many of the speakers.
It was of great significance for the workers of the world that the women of Russia, who lived under Tsarist repression, should join in and somehow manage to acknowledge with actions International Women’s Day. This was a welcome sign that Russia was waking up and the Tsarist prisons and gallows were powerless to kill the workers’ spirit of struggle and protest.
In 1914, “Women Workers Day” in Russia was better organized. Both the workers’ newspapers concerned themselves with the celebration. Our comrades put a lot of effort into the preparation of “Women Workers Day.” Because of police intervention, they didn’t manage to organize a demonstration. Those involved in the planning of “Women Workers Day” found themselves in the Tsarist prisons, and many were later sent to the cold north. For the slogan “for the working women’s vote” had naturally become in Russia an open call for the overthrow of Tsarist autocracy.
Women Workers Day During the Imperialist War
The first world war broke out. The working class in every country was covered with the blood of war. 6 In 1915 and 1916 “Working Women’s Day” abroad was a feeble affair – left wing socialist women who shared the views of the Russian Bolshevik Party tried to turn March 8th into a demonstration of working women against the war. But those socialist party traitors in Germany and other countries would not allow the socialist women to organize gatherings; and the socialist women were refused passports to go to neutral countries where the working women wanted to hold International meetings and show that in spite of the desire of the bourgeoisie, the spirit of International solidarity lived on.
In 1915, it was only in Norway that they managed to organize an international demonstration on Women’s Day; representatives from Russia and neutral countries attended. There could be no thought of organizing a Women’s Day in Russia, for here the power of Tsarism and the military machine was unbridled.
Then came the great, great year of 1917. Hunger, cold and trials of war broke the patience of the women workers and the peasant women of Russia. In 1917, on the 8th of March (23rd of February), on Working Women’s Day, they came out boldly in the streets of Petrograd. The women – some were workers, some were wives of soldiers – demanded “Bread for our children” and “The return of our husbands from the trenches.” At this decisive time the protests of the working women posed such a threat that even the Tsarist security forces did not dare take the usual measures against the rebels but looked on in confusion at the stormy sea of the people’s anger.
The 1917 Working Women’s Day has become memorable in history. On this day the Russian women raised the torch of proletarian revolution and set the world on fire. The February revolution marks its beginning from this day.
Our Call To Battle
“Working Women’s Day” was first organized ten years ago in the campaign for the political equality of women and the struggle for socialism. This aim has been achieved by the working class women in Russia. In the soviet republic the working women and peasants don’t need to fight for the franchise and for civil rights. They have already won these rights. The Russian workers and the peasant women are equal citizens – in their hands is a powerful weapon to make the struggle for a better life easier – the right to vote, to take part in the Soviets and in all collective organizations. 7
But rights alone are not enough. We have to learn to make use of them. The right to vote is a weapon which we have to learn to master for our own benefit, and for the good of the workers’ republic. In the two years of Soviet Power, life itself has not been absolutely changed. We are only in the process of struggling for communism and we are surrounded by the world we have inherited from the dark and repressive past. The shackles of the family, of housework, of prostitution still weigh heavily on the working woman. Working women and peasant women can only rid themselves of this situation and achieve equality in life itself, and not just in law, if they put all their energies into making Russia a truly communist society.
And to quicken this coming, we have first to put right Russia’s shattered economy. We must consider the solving of our two most immediate tasks – the creation of a well organized and politically conscious labor force and the re-establishment of transport. If our army of labor works well we shall soon have steam engines once more; the railways will begin to function. This means that the working men and women will get the bread and firewood they desperately need.
Getting transport back to normal will speed up the victory of communism. And with the victory of communism will come the complete and fundamental equality of women. This is why the message of “Working Women’s Day” must this year be: “Working women, peasant women, mothers, wives and sisters, all efforts to helping the workers and comrades in overcoming the chaos of the railways and re-establishing transport. Everyone in the struggle for bread and firewood and raw materials.”
Last year the slogan of the Day of Women Workers was: “All to the victory of the Red Front.” 8 Now we call working women to rally their strength on a new bloodless front – the labor front! The Red Army defeated the external enemy because it was organized, disciplined and ready for self sacrifice. With organization, hard work, self-discipline and self sacrifice, the workers’ republic will overcome the internal foe – the dislocation (of) transport and the economy, hunger, cold and disease. “Everyone to the victory on the bloodless labor front! Everyone to this victory!”
The New Tasks of Working Women’s Day
The October revolution gave women equality with men as far as civil rights are concerned. The women of the Russian proletariat, who were not so long ago the most unfortunate and oppressed, are now in the Soviet Republic able to show with pride to comrades in other countries the path to political equality through the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and soviet power.
The situation is very different in the capitalist countries where women are still overworked and underprivileged. In these countries the voice of the working woman is weak and lifeless. It is true that in various countries – in Norway, Australia, Finland and in some of the States of North America – women had won civil rights even before the war. 9
In Germany, after the Kaiser had been thrown out and a bourgeois republic established, headed by the “compromisers,” 10 thirty-six women entered parliament – but not a single communist!
In 1919, in England, a woman was for the first time elected a Member of Parliament. But who was she? A “lady.” That means a landowner, an aristocrat. 11
In France, too, the question has been coming up lately of extending the franchise to women.
But what use are these rights to working women in the framework of bourgeois parliaments? While the power is in the hands of the capitalists and property owners, no political rights will save the working woman from the traditional position of slavery in the home and society. The French bourgeoisie are ready to throw another sop to the working class, in the face of growing Bolshevik ideas amongst the proletariat: they are prepared to give women the vote. 12
Mr. Bourgeois, Sir – It Is Too Late!
After the experience of the Russian October revolution, it is clear to every working woman in France, in England and in other countries that only the dictatorship of the working class, only the power of the soviets can guarantee complete and absolute equality, the ultimate victory of communism will tear down the century-old chains of repression and lack of rights. If the task of “International Working Women’s Day” was earlier in the face of the supremacy of the bourgeois parliaments to fight for the right of women to vote, the working class now has a new task: to organize working women around the fighting slogans of the Third International. Instead of taking part in the working of the bourgeois parliament, listen to the call from Russia –
“Working women of all countries! Organize a united proletarian front in the struggle against those who are plundering the world! Down with the parliamentarism of the bourgeoisie! We welcome soviet power! Away with inequalities suffer by the working men and women! We will fight with the workers for the triumph of world communism!”
This call was first heard amidst the trials of a new order, in the battles of civil war it will be heard by and it will strike a chord in the hearts of working women of other countries. The working woman will listen and believe this call to be right. Until recently they thought that if they managed to send a few representatives to parliament their lives would be easier and the oppression of capitalism more bearable. Now they know otherwise.
Only the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of soviet power will save them from the world of suffering, humiliations and inequality that makes the life of the working woman in the capitalist countries so hard. The “Working Woman’s Day” turns from a day of struggle for the franchise into an international day of struggle for the full and absolute liberation of women, which means a struggle for the victory of the soviets and for communism!
Down with the world of Property and the Power of Capital!
This article was produced by Arkansas Worker.
The demarcation of monetary value controls the way people act in social settings and can explain much about current social tensions. For instance, it is profitable for employers to suppress a workers’ right to organize, stopping them from demanding higher wages. One way these elites stay in power is by manipulating how people learn about the history of capitalism. George Orwell once wrote that “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” Here, Orwell recognizes that those who have authority over how history is taught can dictate how people perceive capitalists for generations. History is inherently political and cannot be divorced from the present day, because how historical figures are portrayed, paints different narratives for accountability. By portraying history as something that is separate from present-day political and economic issues, capitalists mask the amount of violence that wealthy elites have sanctioned in the past.
The political importance of history is evident in three ways. First, dissecting the way that capitalists aimed to pacify revolutionary figures like Martin Luther King Jr. to encourage other protestors to become passive acceptors of capitalism reveals how history is currently controlled. Additionally, investigating the historical brutality of corporations undercuts the flattering depiction of capitalism and clarifies who is responsible for cruelty against the working class. Analyzing the way that anti-capitalist agitators instigated change through civil disobedience, for example, demonstrates that passive and obedient tactics for change fail. Finally, Karl Marx’s historical materialism spotlights the large role of history and how to deconstruct the violent forces that propel capitalism. Suppressing the violent exploitative power that corporations have historically had over the working class allows capitalist elites to hold on to their authority in shaping debates about workers’ rights and continue their oppressive practices.
Corporations are the enemy of the working class; however, history still portrays them in a positive light. Andrew Carnegie is painted as a philanthropist that ignited the steel mill industry and helped boost local economies. However, the perpetuation of this philanthropist image ignores how Carnegie exploited labor and played a significant role in countering labor movements. Carnegie remained neutral and tolerated wage demands until they threatened his profits. His focus then shifted. Carnegie began eliminating all forms of industrial competition to maximize profits. Once other corporations could not compete with Carnegie, he then denied demands for better-compensated labor. Corporation owners like Carnegie worked with the police and judicial forces to influence legislation and enforcement in ways that would benefit them and only them.
For example, in 1892, the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (the AA) organized a lockout strike to protest the way Carnegie’s steel business empire treated workers. Carnegie hired counter agitators called the Pinkertons to break up the protest, authorizing them to use violence. By the end of the protest, nothing substantial had changed and a handful of people died. Any lingering support for the AA dissolved because the loss gave them a lousy reputation for making progress and they went bankrupt. Without funding or a robust central organizer, the AA was fractured and couldn’t organize in a meaningful way. However, pro-capitalist history does not spotlight these details. Deliberately obscuring the way that wealthy elites orchestrated the downfall of labor unions allows the system of capitalism to continue functioning as it always has without taking accountability for a history of violence. Additionally, it creates misleading information that these corporations were somehow beneficial for workers and that labor protests often fail.
Capitalist-shaped history falsely suggests that conforming to a form of peaceful protest that is idealized by white society is effective. Leading up to the civil rights movement, there was little progress made until agitational tactics were employed. Prior to the civil rights movement, black people had no institutional allies and gained little from isolated, passive protests. The fact that there were only a few legal victories from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) shows that non-disruptive survival strategies were not enough. Phillip Randolph was a socialist organizer who suggested that people of color should band together to form a labor strike. This was an explicit call for civil disobedience. These strikes included but were not limited to sit-down strikes near white businesses and boycotts. These strategies eventually cornered businesses into accepting hiring agreements that helped put money in the hands of black people who were otherwise unemployed. The tangible success of these strikes had a substantial impact on the momentum for black people in the U.S. to galvanize for civil rights because the protests' successes showed that there was hope to defeat their oppressors.
The civil rights era clearly shows that agitational organizing has been a more effective method for resistance. Another earlier example of anti-capitalist agitation succeeding is found in the stories surrounding the union called the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) around the twentieth century. The union was fractured and lacked organization to apply any pressure to push back against exploitative practices. Vincent Saint John was a miner turned activist who eventually joined the IWW. John was a known socialist who opposed exploitative capitalist practices and saw the electoral process as ineffective and only served as a mechanism to benefit corporations. By leading strikes on mining camps, John was able to push mining conglomerates to adopt a standard minimum wage for miners. John was unfortunately killed a few years later, however, his actions show historic precedent that agitational strategies work to empower those at the fringes of society.
Agitational protests are a productive form of enacting change, however, a common argument is that Martin Luther King Jr. is an example of why protests ought to remain peaceful. Contemporary historical depictions that portray King as a pacifist without mentioning his anti-capitalist upbringing are misleading. For instance, during his academic career, he was primarily influenced by socialists such as Adam Clayton Powell. Powell steered King in the direction of anti-capitalist theory, introducing him to Marx’s critique of capitalism and the idea that money was the root of all evil and fueled racism. King documented his thoughts on these influences, drawing upon personal experiences and addressing education's role in people's lives. King personally experienced how capitalism and money can become mechanisms for anti-black violence during a summer job. King observed that black employees were paid substantially less than their counterparts, preventing them from accessing material luxuries.
After becoming more involved in academia, King wrote essays opposing the idea that education should be a tool to trample on others and instead advocated that education is a tool for critical thinking and understanding the implications of our actions. It was this analysis that put King at the head of the civil rights movement because the fight for civil rights required the willingness to critique anti-black laws that had become normalized. King’s strategy was peaceful at the start of the civil rights movement, but towards the end, he abandoned the strategy in favor of agitational protests. For example, on several occasions, King used guns to protect him and his family from white supremacists. King’s nonviolent resistance was not meant to replace self-defense from the violence incited by white civil society. However, capitalist educators have rewritten history in a way that masks agitational and anti-capitalist ideologies in order to convince marginalized people that they ought to act like pacifists and fight for social improvement in specific ways. However, this modeling relies on false conceptions of agents like King, it also ignores how “ideal” forms of protesting failed.
Every movement has to start somewhere. To resist blindly accepting capitalism which pacifies and obscures historical figures and revolutionaries, one can utilize Marx’s concept of historical materialism. Marx’s historical materialism encourages deep analysis of the way that the material conditions of the oppressed are shaped by historical events. By adopting a critical consciousness of historical trends, people can better understand how capitalism portrays history to reify structures of bourgeois society. However, the working classes’ circumstances change dramatically over time, meaning that experiences from the 19th century and the 20th century cannot necessarily be equated. Historical materialism does not aim to equate every experience but rather create the foundation upon which better movements can be built.
This form of analysis connects the dots between historical events and the social conditions of the present day to better identify the mechanisms of power used by the wealthy—Historical analysis identifies who and what plays a role in suppressing the working class.  Put simply, to try to be politically active in today’s world with only a capitalist view of history would be like taking a midterm without studying. The capitalist understanding of history purposefully aims to dilute class tensions by depicting anti-capitalist agitators as pacifists. By tranquilizing the image of historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, capitalist history turns political subjects into economic subjects in order to exploit vulnerable people. Only by understanding the way that pacifism has historically failed to challenge a system built upon the exploitation of the marginalized people, can activists take meaningful action to dismantle oppression.
Capitalism sets up social systems that exist only for monetary profit, resulting in the exploitation of the working class. The violent effects of capitalism are not just physical, they also involve subtle distortions in how people understand history. By promoting a history informed by capitalist propaganda, corporations can wash away accountability and deceive people into protesting in a certain way that stalls progress. The capitalist lens of history masks how Carnegie enabled violence against unionized workers under the guise that he was a philanthropist, which takes away any accountability.
The stories revolving around agitators like Philip Randolph demonstrate the success of civil disobedience to enact change. Finally, diving into the nature of Martin Luther King Jr.’s upbringing breaks down the pacifism model that capitalist anti-agitators desire to suppress the will of the oppressed. Marx’s work on historical materialism sets the philosophical framework for understanding historical analysis as an instrument to prevent an ever-adapting bourgeois state. Reorienting our education around historical materialism will give a more comprehensive and equitable picture of history which is key for effective engagement to improve the lives of the most vulnerable. Readers and writers alike can become equipped with the knowledge necessary to make progress during dark and turbulent times in politics.
 “CUL - Main Content,” Philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie | Columbia University Libraries, accessed November 12, 2020, https://library.columbia.edu/libraries/rbml/units/carnegie/andrew.html.
 Madeleine Adamson and Seth Borgos, This Mighty Dream: Social Protest Movements in the United States (Boston: Routledge et Paul, 1985), 47
 Ibid., 46
 Adamson and Borgos, This Mighty Dream: Social Protest Movements in the United States, 71
 Ibid., 72
 Ibid., 76
 Ibid., 73
 Dara T. Mathis, “King's Message of Nonviolence Has Been Distorted,” The Atlantic (Atlantic Media Company, April 3, 2018), https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/kings-message-of-nonviolence-has-been-distorted/557021/.
 Carson, Clayborne. "Martin Luther King Jr.: The Morehouse Years." The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 15 (1997): 122.
 Ibid., 123
 Mathis, “King's Message of Nonviolence Has Been Distorted,”
 Ellen Meiksins Wood, Democracy against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism (London: Verso, 2016), 3.
 Wood, Democracy against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism, 21
 Ibid., 36
Will White recently received a bachelor of arts in history from UCLA. They spent lots of time in forensics during undergrad dedicated to researching political theory from authors like Bataille, Baudrillard, Nietzsche, and Marx. Will is currently applying to grad programs in hopes to continue investigating how to use Marxism to study rhetoric.
Millions have proudly bared their shoulders to receive the Cuban vaccine "Abdala," but few know that this was the name given by Cuba’s national hero, José Martí, in his dramatic poem of the same name, to a young black African who fought and died for the independence of his country
Photo: Artwork by Kamil Bullaudy
Millions have proudly bared their shoulders to receive the Cuban vaccine "Abdala," but few know that this was the name given by Cuba’s national hero, José Martí, in his dramatic poem of the same name, to a young black African who fought and died for the independence of his country, Nubia, invaded by colonialists.
Abdala is the first play written by Martí when he had not yet reached 16 years of age. It is a testament to the love for his homeland of a young man from Nubia, a Sudanese region south of Egypt, a poem published in the context of the beginning of Cuba’s first war against Spain.
In its eight scenes, the young Martí outlines his patriotic ideals and offers a preview of his own life. In the initial part of the drama, a senator comments to Abdala that a conqueror is threatening to occupy Nubian territory, and upon hearing the news the young man responds firmly:
“Well, tell the tyrant that in Nubia / There is one hero for each of his twenty spears... “
The third act of the play features Abdala's meeting with warriors going out to confront the aggressors, when he says:
“To war, brave men! From the tyrant / Let the blood flow, and to his impudent enterprise / Let our stout breasts serve as walls, / And let their blood fire our audacity!”
The fourth and fifth scenes are very moving, as they reflect his mother's fear for her son, as she attempts to dissuade him from going to war, but Abdala tells her that he cannot be detained and is going to the countryside to defend his homeland. In this part of the play, Martí conveys in Abdala's voice his concept of homeland, which is well known and clearly evident in his life’s work:
“Love, mother, for the Homeland / Is not ridiculous love for the land, / Nor for the grass where our plants tread; / It is invincible hatred for those who oppress it, / Eternal wrath for those who attack it…”
Anticipating what would be his own death in combat, Martí concludes his dramatic poem as Abdala lies dying but happy, content that the enemy had been defeated.
Like the young Abdala, created in his work when he was only an adolescent, Martí dedicated his life to his people’s cause and was present where the battles were fought, facing the death he had foreseen.
Cuba’s national hero lived his life according to the precept he raised in New York City’s Hardman Hall, on October 10, 1890, when he insisted: "The true man does not look toward the side where one lives better, but toward the side where duty lies; this is the true man."
And this is Abdala, in the vaccine we carry inside, with the same patriotic pride with which Martí conceived the young African hero.
This article was produced by Granma.
Is social, economic, and political history repeating itself? Robert D. Putnam, best known for his 2000 book Bowling Alone, and his co-author argue here that the contemporary U.S. has some remarkable parallels with the “Gilded Age” of the late 1800s. The upswing in the title refers to the positive strides made in the U.S. society, economy, and polity between the Gilded Age and the 1960s. Can we through deliberate action recreate some of those strides?
The strength of The Upswing is its marshalling of quantitative and qualitative data covering the last 125 years or so. The authors focus on four indicators: economic equality, public cooperation, cohesion of social life, and altruism in cultural values. Both now and in the late 1800s, there was more economic inequality, less public cooperation, less cohesion in social life, and less altruism in cultural values.
The authors devote a chapter to each of these dimensions, with clear indicators of each area graphed to show an upside-down “U.” For example, one measure of inequality takes the average total tax rate on the top 1% and subtracts the average total tax rate on the bottom half of the population. When illustrated, the upside-down “U” goes from a low of around 20% in 1910, to a high of 70% in 1960, and back to a low of 25% today. Other measures echo the same shape: gains and losses in minimum wages, regulation of financial markets, and union density. Even life expectancy, once seen as an inevitable upward slope, has begun to descend because of what economists call “deaths of despair” — fatalities due to opioid overdose, suicide, or alcohol abuse.
Public cooperation is a third component explored in a chapter entitled “Politics: From Tribalism to Comity and Back Again.” One measure inevitably is the partisan conflict that is so strong today. The authors argue that partisan loyalty was the weakest in the period around the second world war. Since then, one’s partisan affiliation has devolved into tribalism, as measured by, among other indicators, declines in friendships and marriages across party lines.
Fourth, in turning attention to cultural values over time, Putnam and Garrett contrast individualism and “communitarianism,” a term in sociology that refers to people putting their communities before themselves. Here the authors draw on quantitative data from “Ngrams,” which measure the incidence of given words per million words stored in Google Books. For example, the popularity of “survival of the fittest” reached a peak in 1890, compared to “social gospel,” which peaked in 1960. A graph of the Ngram for the phrase “common man” recreates the ubiquitous bell-shaped curve.
Robert Putnam is a Harvard sociologist, and he is not so naïve not to recognize some major complications to this simple upside-down “U” perspective. Chapters on race and gender explore how these dimensions introduce nuances missing in the “simplified microhistory” of the bell-shaped curve of 125 years of history. Many of the indicators in the race chapter, interracial marriage rates and Black Americans in U.S. Congress for example, trace steady upward trends instead of the familiar upside-down “U.” Furthermore, the text is about “trends and narratives, not certifiable causes.”
While their work on social change doesn’t benefit from a consciously historical materialist viewpoint, Putnam works in a discipline deeply influenced by Karl Marx, and he recognizes the ways that technological advances and changes in the economy reverberate throughout the other sectors of society.
The last chapter zeroes in on the work of several key movers and shakers of the Progressive Era who helped shape the upswing of the early 1900s: Ida B. Wells, Frances Perkins, and Walter Lippman among them. The authors find hope for progressive change in the grassroots organizations, especially of young people. While we might prefer an analysis that recognizes more clearly the concerted action of classes in shaping culture, politics, and social life, Putnam and Garrett’s book is a thorough and thoughtful analysis of patterns in a century-long arc of U.S. history.
Anita Waters received a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University and is retired from the faculty of sociology and anthropology at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. She’s the author of two books and many articles about Caribbean politics and other topics, and is a member of the National Committee and the Chair of the Ohio District of the Communist Party USA.
This article was produced by CPUSA.
2021 was marked, from start to finish, as a year dominated by the pandemic and its attendant dramas, including vaccination, variants, and lockdowns. When the prior year had come to a close, journalists and writers had described 2020 as the “plague year” or the “lost year.” Although 2020 was defined by the onset of the pandemic and over two million deaths attributed to COVID-19, this was nothing compared to the all-encompassing, inescapable pall that COVID cast over the year 2021.
The pandemic has dealt a particularly heavy blow to residents of the world’s greatest imperialist power, where over 880,000 US citizens have perished. The country’s failure to care for the well being of its people — particularly when juxtaposed with the success of China, where about 875,000 fewer deaths have been attributed to the novel coronavirus — laid bare the futility of capitalism and individualism when faced with crisis. The parallels with global climate catastrophe are impossible to ignore.
From January 1, 2021, until the final day of the year, powerful blows reigned down on the global imperial superstructure captained by the US, leading in tow its Western European vassal states and junior partners including Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Colombia, India and the UK.
January 6: If any one event marks the end of the unipolar world led by the US since the fall of the Soviet Union, it is the cringeworthy storming of the US Capitol, incited by Donald Trump and carried out by farcical supporters united by their belief that the US presidential election was a fraud.
“Trump did more for the liberation of humanity from Western imperialism, because of his crudeness, than any other US leader in history,” commented political analyst Laith Marouf — and that was before the embarrassment of the failed uprising exposed the fragility of the US capitalist regime.
Contrary to the mainstream media narrative, over half of those arrested for involvement in the January 6 insurrection were “business owners, CEOs from white-collar occupations, doctors, lawyers, and architects.”
January 19: On his very last day in office, disgraced President Trump labels China’s treatment of Xinjiang’s Uighur community as a “genocide.” The laughable claim is promptly echoed by mainstream/imperialist media. A month later, Canada’s parliament voted to second the motion, cementing its status as fawning minion to the US war machine. These claims were particularly ironic as Canada, like the US, is a nation founded on actual genocide.
January 28: The GameStop scandal went viral and many learned firsthand that capitalism was a giant Ponzi scheme designed to plunder their savings.
March 7: A death blow was dealt to Brazil’s Bolsonaro regime, one of the US’ largest and most compliant vassals, as former President Lula was acquitted of all charges related to the Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash) lawfare scheme which had imprisoned him for 580 days. The failure of the maneuver exposed the similar proceedings against his successor, Dilma Rousseff, as a fraud, and later in the year the White House admitted the nefarious role it played in using paralegal means — also known as lawfare — to overthrow Brazil’s progressive governments and replace them with the neo-fascist Bolsonaro, whose popularity continued to bottom out through the course of the year.
March 13: The 99% rejoiced as fugitive former Bolivian dictatress Jeanine Áñez was discovered hiding under a bed and arrested by the democratically elected government of Luis Arce, committed to restoring order in Bolivia and serving justice to Áñez’s US-backed coup regime.
April 28: The gigantic paro nacional [national strike] broke out across US client state Colombia. A neoliberal austerity package passed by the Duque regime set off the mobilizations. The package would have seen Colombia bowing to IMF pressure with a swath of proposed “reforms” that increased taxes on the most vulnerable, accelerated privatization of healthcare, increased student tuition fees, and allowed for a 10-year wage freeze. The national strike was met with brutal force, dozens were killed and thousands arrested.
The immensity of the revolt led to working-class victories including “the withdrawal of the tax package, the sinking of the privatizing health project, the extension of the zero tuition to students of stratum 3, the unanimous international condemnation against the insane wave of police-paramilitary repression of the regime, the forced resignation of the ministers of finance and foreign affairs — representatives of the imperialist bourgeoisie — and a parliamentary trial of the minister of war,” as detailed by the World Federation of Trade Unions.
May 14: Amid the genocidal war on Palestine waged by the apartheid state, Hamas missiles pierced the so-called Iron Dome defense system. The vaunted missile defense system, funded by billions of dollars from the US and the apartheid state, proved to be an overpriced lemon, like so many other US weapons of war, as Gaza rose to the defense of Palestinians in the West Bank, on the other side of their divided nation. The militant solidarity shown by Gaza, and its ensuing sacrifice when civilian dwellings were subsequently levelled by the apartheid state, will be remembered as a turning point in the long journey towards a free Palestine.
May 26: President Bashar al-Assad was re-elected by the Syrian people, receiving 78% of the vote. “Supporters of the president took to the streets in the hundreds of thousands as the results were publicized, celebrating what they saw as a repudiation of violence and a step forward for the beleaguered nation,” wrote Mnar Adley for MintPress News. Celebrations in Damascus put the lie to claims by the empire ruled from DC regarding Assad’s supposed lack of popular support.
Election rally in Homs, Syria, May 23, 2021. Photo: Tim Anderson
May 29: A chilling reminder that Canada was founded on the genocide of the Indigenous inhabitants of the land was unearthed in Kamloops, BC. A mass grave of 215 children, whose deaths were undocumented, was found at an Indigenous children’s concentration camp — euphemistically called “residential school” — after years of denial that such sites existed.
“We hear from residential school survivors who tell you of these things happening, of mass graves existing, and everybody always denies that those stories are true,” said Arlen Dumas, grand chief of Manitoba’s Assembly of Chiefs. “Well, here’s one example… there will be more.”
Sure enough, mass graves continued to be unearthed throughout 2021. The last Canadian “residential school” closed in 1996, and between 6,000 to 50,000 children are estimated to have been murdered in the concentration camps for Indigenous children.
June 6: Pedro Castillo, presidential candidate of Peru’s Marxist Peru Libre party, rose from virtual obscurity to defeat the right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori, daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori, convicted in 2008 of crimes against humanity. Castillo named staunch left-wing revolutionary Héctor Béjar as his foreign minister, who re-established diplomatic relations with Venezuela (made official on October 16), bringing an end to the Canada-led “regime”-change operation The Lima Group. Béjar referred to The Lima Group as “the most disastrous thing” Peru had ever done in the field of foreign relations.
June 24: The Bicentennial Congress of the Peoples of the World convened in Caracas, Venezuela, to celebrate the 200-year anniversary of the Battle of Carabobo, the decisive victory by Venezuelan troops, led by Simón Bolívar, over Spanish imperialism. Delegates from 123 countries attended the Congress, lauded as an “anti-imperialist and internationalist space for dialogue with social movements.”
June 24: Yet another powerful symbol of the crumbling foundations of the empire ruled from DC, a building collapse in Miami, Florida, left 98 people dead. Only four survived the sudden disintegration of the 12-story beachfront condominium, one of the deadliest residential building collapses in modern history. Rescue operations went on for two weeks. With each passing day, monotonous news items covered the rescue operations, effectively delaying the announcement of the death toll until few were paying attention anymore.
June 28: Russia and China announced the renewal of their 20-year long mutual cooperation pact. “The two sides agreed to continue maintaining close high-level exchanges, strengthening vaccine cooperation, expanding bilateral trade, and expanding cooperation in low-carbon energy, digital economy, agriculture and other fields and promote the alignment of the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union,” reported Xinhua. The midsummer event was another milestone in the death march of the unipolar world.
July 1: The Communist Party of China celebrated 100 years since its founding. During that span, the CPC has lifted 850,000 people out of extreme poverty, according to the DC-based World Bank.
July 6: Honduras’ highest court found Roberto David Castillo guilty of the 2016 murder of celebrated land defender and activist Berta Cáceres. Castillo was a graduate of the West Point US Military Academy in New York state. COPINH, the organization founded by Cáceres, hailed the verdict as a “people’s victory for justice for Berta; a step towards breaking the pact of impunity.” In addition, COPINH hoped that the conviction would open the door to “bringing the masterminds behind the crime to justice,” members of Honduras’ family of billionaires, the Atalas.
July 6: The dictator Jovenel Moïse, who dissolved parliament and ruled Ayiti (Haiti) by decree beyond the term of his mandate, was assassinated by a team of Colombian paramilitaries contracted by a Florida-based firm. Ayiti had been racked by waves of mass protests and general strikes almost continually since 2018, when Venezuela was forced to suspend the Petrocaribe program due to US economic sanctions on Venezuela’s national petroleum company PDVSA. Petrocaribe had provided cheap fuel to Ayiti in exchange for deferred payment. These deferred funds, earmarked for social programs, were instead pocketed by Moïse’s administration. Demonstrators demanded his resignation and a proper election in which Fanmi Lavalas could fully participate. The Moïse regime was propped up by the de facto ruling cartel, the Core Group including the US, Brazil, and Canada.
August 13: The Mexico Talks, a dialogue between Venezuela’s government and the opposition, began in Mexico City. To its great ire, the US was excluded from the process. Both parties signed a memorandum demanding an end to the economic blockade imposed on Venezuela by the empire ruled from DC.
August 15: With the US hastening its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban took the capital Kabul and overthrew the US puppet government. Videos filmed at Kabul airport the next day went viral, capturing the hysteria of the fleeing US forces and their supporters. At least five people died in the panic, while about 200,000 Afghans were directly killed by the failed invasion and 20-year long occupation, led by the empire ruled from DC.
September 16: Working in tandem, the resistance forces of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah break the imperial siege on Lebanon, delivering much-needed Iranian fuel. The courageous operation exposed the permeable nature of illegal US and EU “sanctions,” which had triggered shortages, fuel scarcity, inflation, and a deadly economic crisis in Lebanon.
September 16: Thumbing his nose at the empire, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador invited his Cuban counterpart, Miguel Díaz-Canel, as guest of honor for Mexico’s independence day celebrations. AMLO used the opportunity to reiterate his calls for an end to the 61-year-long US economic blockade of Cuba.
November 7: Daniel Ortega, leader of the Sandinista revolution that defeated the US-backed Somoza dictatorship and overcame the subsequent counter-revolutionary assault of the US-funded and trained Contra paramilitaries, was re-elected as president of Nicaragua. The result came as no surprise because Ortega has presided over a broadening of social programs and a strong Nicaraguan economy since his return to power in 2007. “The Nicaraguan people believe in their government and their electoral system,” wrote electoral monitor Dan Kovalik. “And one of the things they believe in is the government’s right, and indeed duty, to protect the country and its sovereignty from outside intervention, and in particular the incessant intervention by the US, which has been interfering in Nicaragua — often through local quislings — in quite destructive ways for over a century.”
In 2021 the rabid mainstream media assault on Nicaragua’s democracy accused Ortega of jailing his opponents, after a court order prevented Cristiana Chamorro from running due to illegal foreign campaign contributions. Chamorro’s NGO received over $6 million from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) since 2015, more than half of which went to influencing the 2021 elections.
November 15: Heavily publicized in Western media, this day was supposed to see a great popular uprising in Cuba, a supposed resurgence of the protests that had shaken the nation in early July, when Cuba suffered its worst COVID-19 problems.
“The nationwide ‘Marches for Change’ was scheduled for November 15,” wrote Ted Snider. “The Biden administration endorsed the demonstrations. So did Congress: on November 3, the House of Representatives voted 382–40 — and you thought they couldn’t agree on anything — for a resolution declaring ‘strong solidarity’ with ‘courageous Cuban men, women, and youth taking to the streets in cities and towns across the country.’ What the media and the government doesn’t want to tell you is that, once again, it didn’t happen.” The non-event was dubbed #15Nada.
November 21: Venezuela’s violent opposition returned to the political fray for the country’s regional and municipal “mega”-elections. These were carried out in relative peace, without any credible allegations of fraud, by Venezuela’s internationally acclaimed electoral system. The results were a sweeping victory for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). The PSUV captured 19 of 23 state governorships (including the capital district), and 213 of 325 mayoralties.
November 29: Perhaps the most inspiring and surprising of the year’s significant electoral victories, in Honduras Xiomara Castro unseated US-backed narco-dictator President Juan Orlando Hernández. Castro is representative of the rising anti-imperialist political forces in Latin America. Her husband, Manuel Zelaya, was overthrown by the Honduran military — with Hillary Clinton’s blessing — in 2009, after he promised to convoke a Constituent Assembly to write a new Constitution, raise the minimum wage, and join the ALBA-TCP regional alliance founded by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez in 2004.
December 9: Nicaragua resumed diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, recognizing the One China principle and the sovereignty of China in Taiwan. Nicaragua thus ceased to consider Taiwan as a country and severed all contact and official relationship with Taipei. This expands the scope of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Latin America and at the same time diminishes US imperial authority in the region.
2021 was marked by a series of embarrassments and defeats for the empire ruled from DC, the decisive end of US hegemony, and the birth of a new multipolar world, which promises to continue asserting itself in the face of informational and military assault throughout 2022 and beyond.
Steve Lalla is a writer, essayist, analyst, journalist.
This item was originally published on January 23, 2021 by Orinoco Tribune
I have followed exactly the same line the whole of my adult life. The fight against fascism and the fight against imperialism were fundamentally the same fight”, Kim Philby was quoted as saying.
Philby, alongside some other progressive young people of his generation, understood the deeply reactionary character of capitalism. That is why they began searching for radical ideas, studied Marxism and, some of them, came closer to the communist ideology.
In his 1968 book "My Silent War", where he provides a detailed account of his activity as a double agent, Philby writes:
"It was the Labour disaster of 1931 which first set me seriously to thinking about possible alternatives to the Labour Party. I began to take a more active part in the proceedings of the Cambridge University Socialist Society, and was its Treasurer in 1952/35. This brought me into contact with streams of Left-Wing opinion critical of the Labour Party, notably with the Communists. Extensive reading and growing appreciation of the classics of European Socialism alternated with vigorous and sometimes heated discussions within the Society. It was a slow and brain-racking process; my transition from a Socialist viewpoint to a Communist one took two years. It was not until my last term at Cambridge, in the summer of 1933, that I threw off my last doubts. I left the University with a degree and with the conviction that my life must be devoted to Communism."
In the usually dark world of secret agents, Philby was one of the bright examples who betrayed his own class and served the people of the Soviet Union and the world's proletariat.
Below you can read the brief story of Kim Philby published in “Russia Beyond the Headlines” (rbth.com):
Harold Adrian Russell Philby (Kim was a nickname) was born into an affluent family: His father, St John Philby, worked in British India, later converted to Islam, and was advisor to King Ibn Sa'ud of Saudi Arabia. Such are the ironies of fate: St John persuaded the Saudis to cooperate with Britain and the USA – instead of the USSR – while his own son ended up working for Moscow for 30 years.
Young Philby received a first-class education at Cambridge. While there, he associated with the British Socialists – something he later addressed by saying: "When I was a nineteen-year-old undergraduate trying to form my views on life, I had a good look around and I reached a simple conclusion – the rich had had it too damn good for too long and the poor had had it too damn bad and it was time that it was all changed."
The desire to bring equality to the world led him to work for the main citadel of the Left at the time – the Soviet Union. In 1933, Philby was recruited in Vienna by Arnold Deutsch, a deep-cover Soviet intelligence agent. Later, when accused of betrayal, Philby always calmly retorted that he remained true to his own convictions – and that this was more important than loyalty to his country.
Arnold Deutsch convinced Philby that, as a secret agent inside British counterintelligence, he would do far more good for the communist cause than any devoted Socialist could, and, beginning in the 1930s, Kim began to conceal his political beliefs: as a correspondent for The Times, he sent reports from Fascist Spain and publicly praised General Franco. Gradually, Philby’s international experience had led to the SIS taking up interest in the journalist, and offering him a job. Philby agreed.
After the outbreak of WWII in 1939 Philby became an indispensable agent for Soviet intelligence. Thanks to the decryption of the Enigma code, the British managed to read secret German radiograms throughout the war, and while Winston Churchill was in no hurry to share all the information with his Soviet allies, Kim Philby had been secretly doing that job for him.
"You have probably all heard stories that the SIS is an organization of mythical efficiency, a very, very dangerous thing indeed. Well, in a time of war, it honestly was not," Philby told a seminar for East German intelligence officers in 1981. Every day he had left the office with a big briefcase full of the latest papers and reports, and handed them to his contact. The latter photographed them and sent them to Moscow, while Philby put the originals back in their place with no one any the wiser next morning.
Philby took personal pride in the 1943 Battle of Kursk: thanks to him, the USSR knew exactly where the Third Reich was planning to deliver the decisive blow – near the village of Prokhorovka – and held back a powerful attack by German tanks, which later made it possible to win the battle. "When Philby was asked what his main achievement in life had been, he would repeatedly say 'Prokhorovka'," Sergei Ivanov, head of the press service of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, told RIA Novosti.
Philby was skating on thin ice all the time. On one occasion, in 1945, the Soviet vice-consul in Turkey, Konstantin Volkov, told the British that, in exchange for political asylum and money, he was prepared to reveal the names of three important Soviet agents in London. Philby, being one of them, flew to a meeting with Volkov as SIS representative, having sent a tip-off to Moscow. Volkov was arrested, with Philby telling his SIS bosses that the meeting must have been a provocation.
In 1951, the clouds were gathering over Philby again, following the escape to Moscow of two Soviet spies who had been recruited on his recommendation – Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess. Maclean was already on the verge of being exposed, but Burgess, who had organized Maclean’s escape, fled without permission, deeply compromising Philby's position. The SIS was aware that Philby and Burgess knew each other, and decided it was quite possible that Philby was the "third man”. He underwent questioning.
The Soviet agent kept his nerve: the British subjected him to weeks of daily interrogation, but couldn’t spot one lie, In the end, he was left alone (although he was removed as head of the department) and officially cleared by the foreign secretary personally. And in 1955 Philby convened a news conference at which he expressed his outrage at being accused of espionage. "The last time I spoke to a Communist knowing that he was a Communist was some time in 1934," Philby said. And the nation believed.
In the years 1956-1963, Philby worked in the Middle East: ostensibly as a journalist but in reality as an SIS agent (and Moscow's, of course). Not much is known about this period of his life. In 1963, however, he was finally exposed thanks to testimonies provided by new defectors to the West, as well as by an old girlfriend who revealed his Communist beliefs. An offer of immunity "was contingent on my telling all I knew about the KGB and naming names in Britain", Philby was to recall later. But his Soviet comrades organized his escape from Beirut to Moscow (some people believe the British intentionally let Philby "flee" to the east to avoid a scandalous trial).
In the USSR, Philby essentially became an honorary pensioner: he passed on to Soviet intelligence everything he had, and occasionally gave seminars for intelligence officers. He lived in a flat in central Moscow and married a Muscovite 20 years his junior. In the few interviews, he gave he said he regretted nothing and spoke of the USSR as "we" – although admitted that he did miss Britain a little. According to some intelligence officers, many of the things Philby had been involved in are classified to this day and may remain shrouded in mystery forever.
In Defense of Communism.
This article was republished from In Defense of Communism.