Preview: The Sixties – A Revolutionary Decade without a Vanguard

The following is preview content from the forthcoming document The CP, the Sixties, the RCP, and the Crying Need for a Communist Vanguard Party Today: Summing up a century of communist leadership, organization, strategy, and practice in the United States so that we can rise to the challenges before us by the Organization of Communist Revolutionaries (US). This document will be published in early 2023 as kites #8. Check back here for pre-order info.

The following preview is the first part of the section on the Sixties. See the table of contents to understand how this preview fits into the document as a whole.

Continue reading “Preview: The Sixties – A Revolutionary Decade without a Vanguard”

Preview: The CP, 1928–33 – The dawn of the red decade

The following is preview content from the forthcoming document The CP, the Sixties, the RCP, and the Crying Need for a Communist Vanguard Party Today: Summing up a century of communist leadership, organization, strategy, and practice in the United States so that we can rise to the challenges before us by the Organization of Communist Revolutionaries (US). This document will be published in early 2023 as kites #8. Check back here for pre-order info.

The following preview comes from the summation of the Communist Party, USA. See the table of contents to understand how this preview fits into the document as a whole. This is only the first part of a lengthy section covering 1928–33.

1928–33

The dawn of the red decade

Aside from exorcising the curse of factionalism from the CP, the Comintern, at its 1928 Sixth Congress, also imposed political lines that were decisive for putting the CP in a position to lead militant class struggle and movements against the oppression of Black people, transforming the CP into something closer to a real revolutionary vanguard from the years from 1928 to 1935. Consequently, the CP’s practice during those years offers the most positive lessons for today’s communists to learn from, so we will devote considerable attention to summing up these lessons.

The far more revolutionary practice of the CP from 1928 to 1935 is indicative of the Maoist principle that the correctness of political line is decisive in determining the direction of a communist party. After jettisoning Bukharin’s leadership, the Comintern united around Stalin’s analysis that the relative stability of global capitalism in the mid-1920s was giving way to a period of profound crisis—an analysis subsequently confirmed by the stock market crash of Fall 1929 and the Great Depression that followed it. (The best fortune teller has consistently proven to be the application of materialist dialectics.) What came to be called the Comintern’s “Third Period” analysis heralded the greater possibilities for militant class struggle, already in evidence in 1927 with the worldwide movement in defense of Sacco and Vanzetti, and adjusted the tactics of communist parties accordingly.

Continue reading “Preview: The CP, 1928–33 – The dawn of the red decade”

Preview: The CP, 1923–25 – Grandiose schemes and outmaneuvered maneuvers

The following is preview content from the forthcoming document The CP, the Sixties, the RCP, and the Crying Need for a Communist Vanguard Party Today: Summing up a century of communist leadership, organization, strategy, and practice in the United States so that we can rise to the challenges before us by the Organization of Communist Revolutionaries (US). This document will be published in early 2023 as kites #8. Check back here for pre-order info.

The following preview comes from the summation of the Communist Party, USA (referred to as the CP in this document – its official name from 1923–25 was the Workers Party of America.). See the table of contents to understand how this preview fits into the document as a whole.

1923–25

Grandiose schemes and outmaneuvered maneuvers

In contrast to the post-WWI crisis, the Comintern analyzed the mid-1920s as a time of “partial stabilization” of the capitalist system that required a new set of tactics to avoid communist parties becoming too isolated from the masses when revolutionary politics were not immediately popular. What came to known as the Comintern’s “Second Period” (1923–28) approach dealt both with the reality of the post-WWI high tide of revolutionary struggle in Europe subsiding and the need to correct dogmatic errors in the ways in which newly formed communist parties interpreted the lessons of the Russian Revolution, as addressed in Lenin’s 1920 “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder. For the CPUSA, these “Second Period” policies were used as a rationalization for ill-conceived attempts to leap to the head of an emerging farmer-labor third-party electoral movement by virtue of organizational maneuvering.

Continue reading “Preview: The CP, 1923–25 – Grandiose schemes and outmaneuvered maneuvers”

Preview content: Table of Contents

The following is preview content from the forthcoming document The CP, the Sixties, the RCP, and the Crying Need for a Communist Vanguard Party Today: Summing up a century of communist leadership, organization, strategy, and practice in the United States so that we can rise to the challenges before us by the Organization of Communist Revolutionaries (US). This document will be published in early 2023 as kites #8. Check back here for pre-order info.

Table of Contents:

Introduction

The CP

  • Antecedents
  • 1917–23: Forming the Party…well…Parties
  • 1923–25: Grandiose schemes and outmaneuvered maneuvers
  • 1925–28: Bolsheviks gonna bolshevize; factionalists gonna factionalize
  • 1928–33: The dawn of the red decade
  • 1933–35: Broadening out
  • 1935–39: The Popular Front
  • 1939–41: Soviet diplomatic maneuvers and American dogmatic idiocy
  • 1941–45: Capitulation and liquidation
  • 1945–…: Stuck in the swamp of revisionism, never to escape

The Sixties: A Revolutionary Decade without a Vanguard

  • What gave rise to the revolutionary storms?
  • From revolt to revolutionaries; from sharpening objective contradictions to subjective revolutionary forces
  • The paths the Sixties generation of revolutionaries took: an overview
  • The bourgeoisie regains the initiative: the regime of preventive counterrevolution in the 1970s

The RCP

  • 1968–72: Moving mountains – The early RU
  • 1972–76: Building the Party
  • 1976–78: Discarding the CP baggage
  • 1978–81: “Better fewer, fewer better” – Taking a bold stand with cold revolutionary politics in command
  • 1982–88: “Masters of the wharf or slaves to tonnage?” – Hinging revolutionary work on a grand crisis ahead
  • 1989–91: “The end of a stage, the beginning of a new stage”
  • 1992–2001: Proletarian islands in a petty-bourgeois sea; severing political work from revolutionary objectives
  • 2001–2003: Gaining a mass following, but at what cost?
  • 2004–5: A “cultural revolution” without the masses
  • 2005–8: Fewer, but not better
  • 2009–15: The “new communism” in practice
  • 2016–20: “First time as tragedy, second time as farce”
  • The Party’s over

The Crying Need for a Communist Vanguard Party Today

  • The 2010s as a decade of revolutionary potential diverted
  • What would it take to build a vanguard?
  • Some particularities that the construction of a new vanguard in the US needs to pay attention to

“The Guerrilla Is Like a Poet”

Jose Maria Sison, 1939-2022

An Obituary by the kites Editorial Committee

Comrade Jose Maria Sison has passed away at the age of 83 after two weeks of hospitalization in his place of forced exile in Utrecht, Netherlands. He lived his whole life in struggle and service to the Filipino people, to the international proletariat, and to the oppressed and struggling peoples of the whole world. Joma, as he was affectionately known, modeled the communist principles of sacrifice, resilience in the face of torture, and an unwillingness to rest content with past accomplishments. From the classroom to the streets, from the countryside to revolutionary diplomacy, wherever he found himself Joma Sison found a way to make his life about advancing the Philippine revolution forward through whatever means he had at his disposal.

As a political leader, comrade Joma’s achievements are remarkable: after being the most influential leader of the radical Philippine student movement in the 1960s, he led a struggle against the revisionists who had made the old Philippine Communist Party (PKP) useless, and re-founded the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968. Established by Joma and his comrades on a revolutionary basis, the CPP firmly placed itself in the camp of Mao Zedong and the Chinese revolution in opposing Soviet revisionism and the lie of peaceful co-existence between capitalism and socialism; and Joma put those principles into practice in founding the New People’s Army (NPA) in 1969. He served as the leader of the CPP as it expanded the reach of the revolution throughout the Philippine archipelago editing the CPP newspaper, and giving guidance to the mass movement in Manila and other cities that were confronting the US-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who had declared martial law in 1972 to combat the growth of the Philippine revolution.

Continue reading ““The Guerrilla Is Like a Poet””

On “foreign monsters” and the people’s war that persists

An Interview with Jose Maria Sison, Founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines

Commissioned by the kites Editorial Committee

Original Release: October 2022 / Re-Edited: Late December 2022

For a printable PDF of this article, click the cover image above.

Editorial Introduction

In September 2022, kites had the pleasure of interviewing Jose Maria Sison, the Founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), just over three months before he passed away on December 16, 2022. The CPP was founded in December 1968, and went on to found and lead the New People’s Army in the people’s war that was launched in March 1969. In 1974, Sison was captured by the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and faced years of torture and solitary confinement before being released in 1986 after the overthrow of Marcos. In 1988, Sison was forced to seek asylum in the Netherlands after the Philippine reactionary government canceled his passport while he was abroad on a speaking tour.

Sison obtained recognition as a political refugee from the Dutch Council of State in 1992. Since then, he was protected under international law by the principle of non-refoulement under the Geneva Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, thus preventing his deportation to the Philippines or any third country.

While the people’s war continued and its underlying causes worsened, Sison faced repeated attempts at legal harassment and repression during his forced exile: he battled and defeated in the Dutch court system trumped up charges of multiple murders that were filed against him in 2007—charges that were instigated by the US-Arroyo regime in the Philippines. Sison later won a separate case before the European Court of Justice to have his name removed from the EU terrorist list, where it was placed in 2009.

As Sison told kites in preparation for this interview, “I am legally clean and there is no hindrance to my freedom of thought and expression.” In defiance of the many attempts to suppress his political activity, Sison served in the capacity of Chief Political Consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and remained highly active as a public intellectual against imperialism and in defense of the socialist cause until the very end of his life, as this interview attests to. Sison lived in Utrecht, Netherlands, his place of forced exile, with his comrade-in-arms and long-life partner Julie de Lima, surrounded by a community of supporters and friends of the Philippine national democratic movement.

This interview has been further edited since its original release in October 2022 to bring it more in line with the video interview (being released imminently), which diverts from and adds very slightly in a couple places from the original interview text we received. We made the choice that the final publication should reflect more closely to the video interview given rather than the written transcript we received. The added benefit of these new edits is that this interview transcript is now much closer to verbatim what was spoken in the video, thereby making the video a strong accompaniment to listen along with while reading this interview.

Continue reading On “foreign monsters” and the people’s war that persists

Key Words: Communist vs. Leftist and Postmodernist Conceptions

Click through the article cover image above for a PDF version of this piece.

Today, when people in North America join protests against injustice, try to understand what’s behind all the oppression in the world, and look for strategies to end it, they soon encounter Leftist and postmodernist politics, especially on social media, and are quickly inculcated in Leftist and postmodernist world outlooks.1 Since Leftist and postmodernist politics and world outlooks are impediments to the development of revolutionary politics and prevent people from acting towards the revolutionary transformation of society, kites has been consistently polemicizing against them. Even with these polemics, many kites readers still have trouble distinguishing between genuine communism, on the one hand, and the paltry visions of the Left and postmodernism, on the other—a consequence of the lack of socialist states since the 1976 counterrevolutionary coup in China and the lack of communist vanguard parties in the US and Canada today.

This impasse is in part a consequence of Leftists using communist terminology but with a whole different conception of that terminology that is diametrically opposed to revolution. So we thought it might be helpful to contrast communist conceptions of some “key words” with those of Leftists and postmodernists. We hope this “compare and contrast” exercise can spark some debate and help would-be revolutionaries distinguish between the communist world outlook from ways of viewing the world that pose as radical but in fact can never serve the revolutionary transformation of society.

TRIGGER

Communist: A mechanism that communists pull to annihilate the enemies of the revolution.

Postmodernist: A word postmodernists have appropriated from therapy (where it serves a productive purpose) and used to justify prioritizing their real and/or performative personal/emotional reactions to injustices over and against the struggles to end those injustices.

CAPITALISM

Communist: A system driven by the incessant accumulation of capital through the private appropriation of all that is produced via human labor, technology, and the earth’s natural resources. Though capitalism creates conditions of socialized production on a global scale, exploitation is its lifeblood, the profit motive compels the system toward an anarchy of production rather than rational social planning to meet human needs, and capitalism commodifies everything, including human labor and social relations.

Leftist: An economic system where the bosses exploit the workers.

Postmodernist: An ideal place to advance their position in the economic and social relations of commodity exchange.

THE BOURGEOISIE

Communist: The class that owns and/or monopolizes control over the means of production and is driven, by the “expand or die” logic of capital accumulation, to accumulate ever greater profits.

Leftist: The bosses; the rich.

Postmodernist: People to look up to if they’re from a shared identity group or the “right” identity group; people to oppose if they’re from the wrong identity group; people to get funding from for nonprofit activist organizations.

COLONIALISM

Communist: Under monopoly capitalism (when blocs of capital were concentrated as monopolies roughly at the end of the nineteenth century and continuing down to today) and stretching from the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, a system of foreign domination wherein an oppressor country exercises territorial control over an oppressed country so that they can pillage its resources and exploit its people. Prior and other systems of colonialism involved the movement of large numbers of European settlers into the colonies (settler-colonialism), the expulsion of the Indigenous people from their land and the genocide of those Indigenous people, resource extraction through exploitative trade relations and exploiting the Indigenous people in mines and other extractive enterprises, and the kidnapping of millions of Africans to work as slaves on plantations in the colonies. Since the dawn of capitalism in Europe, pre-existing colonial empires were drawn into the process of capitalist accumulation on a world-scale, leading to a dramatic increase in the intensity of exploitation of the land and labor of the colonized. As formal colonialism ended in most of the world in the decades following World War II, imperialist domination of the oppressed countries continued in new forms, wherein formally independent countries remained under the economic domination of foreign powers, a system often referred to as neocolonialism.

Leftist: A fancier word for racism.

Postmodernist: A system that justifies decolonization workshops, seminars, and trainings, none of which alter the material relations of exploitation and oppression under capitalism-imperialism.

SETTLERS

Communist: (1) As capitalism dawned in Europe, in order to meet the continual need for capital accumulation and, secondarily, to release the pressure of growing surplus populations, numbers of Europeans were encouraged or enticed to colonize overseas territories and participate in inflicting brutalities on Indigenous populations, from forced slave labor in mines to outright genocide, coupled with the ultimate prize: appropriating the land and its resources. This definition of settlers does not include those who came from overseas and were mainly exploited by the settler bourgeoisie, were not enlisted in frontier expansion and its murderous campaigns, and were pressed into manual labor and later industrial production, e.g., a Jewish Eastern European immigrant working in a factory and living in the Lower East Side of Manhattan around 1900 is not a “settler.” (2) Israelis (obviously not including Palestinians who were stuck in Israeli territory after 1948 or their descendants, who have Israeli citizenship) and tech, finance, and crypto-currency bros moving to Puerto Rico.

Leftist/Postmodernist: (1) Evil Europeans who took over Indigenous people’s lands and did horrible things to them (this definition comprehends outer appearances but fails to make a materialist analysis of the class interests and productions relations that created and propped up settlers). (2) A synonym for white people and sometimes also non-Indigenous immigrants (this seems to be the more frequent meaning behind Leftist and postmodernist use of the word “settlers,” and only further muddies the analytical waters). (3) What petty-bourgeois white people and the kids of petty-bourgeois immigrants who went to university in the US or Canada call working-class white people and working-class immigrants to deflect their own sense of or actual guilt for being a lower-level functionary in the capitalist-imperialist system (this definition betrays the petty-bourgeois class outlook at work behind the Leftist and postmodernist conception of settlers, and, ironically, has a lot in common with the settler mentality).

PROLETARIAT

Communist: The class of people who are deprived and dispossessed of any ownership of the means of production, who work, when they can find work, in conditions of socialized production on a global scale in which their labor is exploited, and who are cast aside as surplus populations when the bourgeoisie cannot profitably exploit their labor.

Leftist: The workers.

Postmodernist:

COMMUNISM

Communist: A state of existence beyond commodity production and exchange in which humanity has done away with all exploitation, property relations, and oppressive social divisions and lives according to the principle of “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

Leftist: ???

Postmodernist: The most terrifying society imaginable.

SOCIALISM

Communist: A transition period beginning after the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism-imperialism driven by continuous class struggle and radical social transformation until the achievement of communism.

Leftist: A society in which commodity relations and the laws of capital accumulation are still the defining features, but with some social reforms and better material provisions for the masses.

Postmodernist: “Just another white man’s ideology.”

THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT

Communist: The form of state during the socialist transition period in which the proletariat, led by its vanguard party, monopolizes political power through control over the key institutions of society, exercising dictatorship over the overthrown bourgeoisie and preventing the generation of a new bourgeoisie while working to live with and transform the petty-bourgeoisie. The best example of the dictatorship of the proletariat was in China from 1949–76.

Leftist: (1) Oh the horror! (2) Bourgeois-democracy for the proletariat. (3) Stanning for past and distant post-revolution governments that the person doing the stanning wouldn’t last a day living under.

Postmodernist: Oh the horror!

REVOLUTION (IN THE PRESENT DAY)

Communist: The violent overthrow of the existing order by the revolutionary army of the proletariat, in which the institutions, especially the repressive apparatuses, of the bourgeois state are destroyed and the bourgeoisie’s wealth and capital is forcibly expropriated.

Leftist: Bigger protests with the “right” slogans? The expansion of “mutual aid” activist networks? Some vague idea about “councils” overwhelming the ruling class?

Postmodernist: That tipping point where enough people have “checked their privilege,” “done the work,” and/or become good “allies” or “accomplices” (basically, an amalgamation of individual processes of moral change rather than a transformation of the material relations of society).

THE VANGUARD PARTY

Communist: An organization capable of leading the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeoisie and leading the socialist transition to communism, made up of the most advanced elements from the proletariat and popular classes who have remolded themselves as communists and dedicated themselves to the revolution, which functions according to the principles of democratic centralism and is organized so wisely and so well that the bourgeois repressive state apparatus does not know its organizational structure and cannot easily destroy it.

Leftist: An organization of dumb Leftists led by slightly smarter opportunists that splits or implodes rather frequently, puts all its internal documents on a google drive, and has zero sense of how to protect their organization from repression because they don’t really intend to do anything that will be met with serious repression.

Postmodernist: The most oppressive entity imaginable.

LEADERSHIP

Communist: Within the organizational structure of democratic centralism, the ongoing process of working out strategy and tactics for revolution in the concrete conditions we find ourselves in and training and guiding cadre and the masses to implement that strategy and the tactics that flow from it. As Mao summarized, communist leadership is a matter of working out ideas and using cadre well.

Leftist: Posting dumb clichéd Leftist shit on social media and getting lots of likes.

Postmodernist: Same as above plus getting appointed (by the virtue of wealthy donors) to some executive position in an activist nonprofit organization.

THE UNITED FRONT UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT

Communist: An alliance of classes under the leadership of the revolutionary proletariat and its vanguard party forged in order to isolate the bourgeoisie and amass the strength to overthrow it, as well as to build a new socialist society after the revolution.

Leftist: Getting a bunch of shitty Leftist organizations to sign on to a statement or put on a protest together.

REVOLUTIONARY DEFEATISM

Communist: Morally and strategically welcoming the defeats suffered by one’s “own” bourgeoisie.

Leftist: Stanning for all kinds of bourgeois and reactionary governments and forces all around the world because they happen to be in conflict with US imperialism (because Leftists are incapable of seeing more than one contradiction in play or sorting out contradictions with any nuance).

THE MASS LINE

Communist: A method of leadership wherein communists take the scattered, unsystematic ideas of the masses and concentrate them into political programs that can mobilize the masses in class struggle.

Leftist: At best, talking to the masses about their most immediate needs and narrow interests and then doing charity to try to meet those needs and serve those narrow interests.

MASS WORK

Communist: Going out broadly among the masses and conducting social investigation and carrying out political agitation in order to organize them in class struggle.

Leftist: Doing some charity among the masses, treating the masses as narrow identity categories, and maybe involving some masses in an auxiliary way around some very narrowly conceived struggle over narrow interests.

MUTUAL AID

Communist: Organizing the masses to find collective solutions to their common problems so that they can take part in the revolutionary movement.

Leftist/postmodernist: Charity.

IDENTITY

Communist: The ways that people understand themselves in relation to their social background, their kinship and ancestry, their place within the prevailing social relations of society, their lifestyle, and their cultural preferences.

Leftist/postmodernist: A rigid and monolithic category that individuals are ascribed to; something to use as capital in the oppression Olympics.

THE MASSES

Communist: The oppressed and exploited people in society who can be mobilized to overthrow capitalism-imperialism and begin the socialist transition to communism; the people we love and serve.

Leftist: An identity category.

MASS ORGANIZATION

Communist: An organization of (a section of) the masses, bound together by common class experience and struggle, ideally led by the communist vanguard party.

Leftist: An organization of Leftists with a lower bar for membership and a lower level of political unity than whatever the fuck Leftists think a vanguard party is.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Communist: The Silicon-Valley bourgeoisie’s way of profiting from and reproducing, among all age groups and strata of society, the social relations and popularity contests characteristic of everyday life at a suburban middle school. A powerful nexus of cold capitalist economics and highly effective, participatory ideological state apparatuses inculcating people in idiocy and individualism.

Leftist: My favorite place.

Postmodernist: My favorite place.

THEORY

Communist: The development of concepts to guide the revolutionary transformation of society by way of the scientific study of history and contemporary reality, engagement with the intellectual life of society as a whole, and practical involvement in and summation of the class struggle.

Leftist: Reading lots of books and learning the right phraseology so you can brag that you’re more correct than other Leftists, but never gaining the ability to apply those phrases and books to the real world.

Postmodernist: The invention of ever more esoteric jargon, the more unintelligible the better, in order to make yourself sound smart, innovative, and more woke than everyone else.

ENDNOTES

1 For an explanation of what we mean by Leftist and postmodernist outlooks, see “Kick ‘Em While They’re Down” in kites #3 (2021).

Seven Theses on Imperialism and the Drug War

For a printable PDF of this article, click the cover image above.

by Aiyanas Ormond

kites received the following submission from Aiyanas Ormond, a leading activist within the International League of People’s Struggles chapter in Canada who also has considerable experience and knowledge on the question of the bourgeoisie’s drug war, gained in part through eleven years of work in the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users. Beyond their specific analysis of the drug war, these theses also provide a model for making specific class analysis—defining who are our friends and who are our enemies—and outlining a program for class struggle based on that analysis.

1. The criminalized drug industry is fully integrated into the global monopoly capitalist economy (imperialism).

Profits from the illicit drug trade are stashed in big banks and financial institutions. It is an open secret that this money is laundered through the big banks. US bank Wachovia—now a part of Wells Fargo—recently paid authorities $160 million for its role in laundering money from the criminalized drug industry. In 2012, UK bank HSBC paid almost $2 billion in fines for stashing drug money.1 The head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has stated that during the 2008–9 financial crisis, drug profits constituted a key source of liquidity (cash available for investment) for the big banks, and that, as a result, $352 billion in drug profits were “absorbed” into the economy.2

Continue reading Seven Theses on Imperialism and the Drug War

The Psychosis of Imperialism

For a printable PDF of this article, click the cover image above.

kites Issue #7 Editorial

by the kites Editorial Committee

As the crisis of the world capitalist-imperialist system deepens and the bourgeoisie has no resolution, and in the absence of an international communist movement posing a revolutionary alternative, not just individuals but whole classes are losing their damn minds. The COVID-19 pandemic—not so much the virus itself, but the accompanying social instability, failed government policies, and mass discontent fueling conspiracy theories—pushed things over the edge, and the psychosis of imperialism is setting in.1

Perhaps the most obvious signs of the psychosis of imperialism are the alarming number of mass shootings and the widespread popularity of Donald Trump. Mass shootings are often carried out by people steeped in white supremacist, misogynist, and/or fascist revanchist ideology married to reactionary NRA-style gun culture, who are fertilized by the proliferation of pornography and violent video games that raise children and teenagers to find enjoyment in the degradation and dehumanization of others (especially women). The growth—numerically and in irrationality—of “Trumpists” underscores the attractive force of right-wing conspiracy theories and fascist revanchism today. Many of those Trumpists are part of sections of the petty-bourgeoisie more likely to have been negatively affected by pandemic restrictions—the small businesses they owned had to shut down or restrict their operations. They reacted to any real or imagined government impositions on their way of life with a “give me liberty and give me death” mentality. They got roped into conspiracy theories that take a grain of truth—Jeffrey Epstein really did procure underage girls for sexual exploitation by members of the bourgeoisie—and use it to obfuscate the deeper workings of capitalism-imperialism. Since the Trumpist form of class insanity is likely more obvious to our readers, let us move on to another form of class psychosis, that of the liberal petty-bourgeoisie.

The liberal petty-bourgeoisie in the US first lost their minds when Trump got elected. Their holy church of bourgeois-democracy had failed them, and they did not know what to do about it, briefly taking to the streets in protest, and then resigning themselves to an uneasy faith in their failed saviors, the Democratic Party. Lucky for them, an additional false prophet had been added to their alter over the last decade: postmodernist wokeness, with which they could pose as saints abstaining from the oppressive realities of the world through reciting the right scriptures (woke language) and ridding themselves of guilt by filling the collection plate (donating to Black Lives Matter).2

When COVID-19 hit, the liberal petty-bourgeoisie was the least affected by it yet the most alarmed about it. Since they tend to work white-collar, professional, and intellectual jobs, they could by and large work from home, or even escape to vacation homes, and get everything they needed delivered, safely quarantining themselves while leaving the proletariat to deal with a deadly disease. Yet they developed a cult of social distancing and treated getting COVID-19 as some personal moral failing.3 They blamed Trump and his unmasked followers for the pandemic and found themselves in denial when Biden proved no better, and in some ways worse, at curtailing the spread of COVID-19 than his predecessor. They lost their minds with Trump, found religion with Fauci, adopted “trust the science” as their catechism, and lost their minds again when that “science” (i.e., CDC guidance) told them “now you only have to quarantine for five days if you catch COVID.” Nevertheless, the liberal petty-bourgeoisie remains in an abusive relationship with the liberal bourgeoisie (not unlike the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys getting thrown under the bus by Trump over January 6th).4

Meanwhile, the proletariat had to face the worst of the pandemic. They staffed the hospitals that were overflowing; they suffered from rapid viral spread in prisons, with New York state prisoners being used, like slaves, to make hand sanitizer; they went to work at meat packing plants that became vectors for viral spread; they transported and delivered the necessities and playthings of life; they shuttled people around via ride apps; and in so many other ways subjected themselves to far higher risk of COVID-19 so that capitalism-imperialism could continue functioning and the privileged classes could maintain their lifestyles at a safe distance. The children of the proletariat were shunted into highly automated online schools with little to no hands-on support and often without fair access to the devices needed to attend remote classes.5 Pre-COVID-19, public and especially charter schools were already moving what passes for education in the google direction, such as replacing math class with computer games, essentially preparing the proletariat to work for Uber and Amazon, and COVID-19 gave those schools an excuse to deepen this dehumanization. The combination of economic insecurity, loss of recreation (Chicago at one point had parks shut down but bars open), and social isolation during the first years of COVID-19 worsened social problems among the people, from drug addiction to abuse to suicide. The proletariat got the worst of it all, but lost its mind the least.

That the proletariat is less infected with the psychosis of imperialism than other classes, however, should be no consolation for communists. Some members of our class are taken in, or at least impacted, by right-wing conspiracy theories, fascist revanchism, liberal bourgeois-democracy, and postmodernist wokeness. For example, older Black proletarians are likely to talk about “the system” when railing against injustices, but some younger Black proletarians might put the blame on “Karens.” Conspiracy theories of the Behold the Pale Horse6 variety have long been popular in prisons, and, among some proletarians, have been merged with those of the QAnon variety. And as crime and gun violence in proletarian neighborhoods make news headlines, politicians like New York Mayor Eric Adams, who advocates a modified return to Giuliani-era policing, can potentially gain a foothold among some sections of the masses.

Even if the majority of the proletariat can see through these forms of imperialist psychosis, that does not mean they can cut through it all with a revolutionary road forward. And that’s not their fault, for what they lack is a communist leadership with the adequate reach and organizational strength.

Cutting through it all

One of the challenges before us today is showing how to “cut through it all,” and by this we mean how to cut through the divide between liberal and conservative-now-fascistic sections of the bourgeoisie and the sections of the petty-bourgeoisie, labor aristocracy, and bourgeoisified workers who constitute the subaltern classes beholden to bourgeois hegemony.7

Neither side of the bourgeoisie has a solution for the crises before it, and the perpetual rivalry between the two sides serves as an effective foil. Both sides can amp up their bases and score electoral victories by painting the other side as a grave danger. The political representatives of each side of the bourgeoisie appeal to the class interests and cultural preferences of different subaltern classes, and so the rivalry between the two sides remains crucial to maintaining the allegiance of the subaltern classes. And the bourgeoisie does not, at present, need to impose one uniform mode of rule over all of society, but can practice liberal tolerance and postmodernist wokeness in some places and for some sections of people, draconian repression for others, and Christian fundamentalist laws for others. Analysis that fails to comprehend the flexibility of bourgeois rule will miss this fact.

Over the last decade or two, fascist ideology and politics have made substantial inroads among certain sections of the people, and in some imperialist countries, sections of the bourgeoisie have supported fascist politicians. Moreover, the bourgeoisie is not a puppet master, and must take into account, utilize, and cannot simply turn off the drive towards fascist revanchism among some classes and social groups. For example, the bourgeoisie as a whole, including its liberal sections, needs the police to protect its social order and keep down the proletariat and oppressed nationalities. For the police to perform that function, openly white-supremacist and reactionary ideology must be allowed a considerable degree of free reign among the police. Members of the liberal bourgeoisie may find those ideologies and the people beholden to them deplorable—it’s hard to imagine Hillary Clinton having a friendly dinner with Officer O’Malley8—but they need them to keep their system functioning. The police may at times exert their class outlook in ways that conflict with sections of the bourgeoisie, and the bourgeoisie cannot neatly sew up this contradiction.

That aside on the police is helpful background to understanding why the liberal bourgeoisie has been “spineless” in the face of the growth of fascist ideology and politics. It’s not that they never clamp down on reactionary movements (the Congressional hearings on the January 6th assault on the Capitol; Trudeau’s repression of the Freedom Convoy protests). But they do not, at present, have the necessity or freedom to move decisively against fascist forces inside and outside of government. That is why there is no effort on their part to abolish the US Senate or the Electoral College, despite the fact that both institutions only serve to prop up reactionary and fascistic politicians and politics—after all, both institutions were created to ensure the equal power of slave states.

The liberal bourgeoisie’s “spinelessness,” in turn, cascades down to the sections of the petty-bourgeoisie that follow in its wake. Those sections of the petty-bourgeoisie used to justify their political sterility with their faith in the church of bourgeois-democracy. But as bourgeois-democracy has increasingly failed them and is under assault by fascist elements, postmodernist wokeness has stepped into the breach to aid bourgeois-democracy in keeping the liberal petty-bourgeoisie under bourgeois hegemony. One example of this development is that the liberal petty-bourgeoisie used to be firm advocates of “free speech,” but now frequently advocate censorship of views that conflict with postmodernist woke values, with a group-think mentality reminiscent of religious cults.

Postmodernist wokeness has rendered the liberal petty-bourgeoisie an even more ineffectual political force that did its faith in the Democratic Party, as evidenced by its weak responses to the Trump presidency and the 2020 rebellions against police brutality. Large sections of the liberal petty-bourgeoisie now obsess over language policing, real or imagined emotional trauma in response to injustices (rather than stopping the injustices themselves), and advancing their careers through displaying proper diversity, equity, and inclusion credentials. The liberal petty-bourgeoisie has miserably failed to take any substantial risks or make any serious moves to fight fascist encroachments (exhibit A: widespread capitulation to the US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade among the liberal petty-bourgeoisie, with the exceptions of high school students and retirees) or win real victories in the struggle against the police killing of Black and other oppressed people.

Without a class-conscious section of the proletariat able to cut through the middle of it all, where does the growing polarization in imperialist society leave people? One telling example is the revolt of Chinese residents of San Francisco against postmodernist wokeness. The San Francisco Bay Area has long been a center of radical politics and culture, from the militant longshore workers’ struggles to hippies, from the Berkeley Free Speech Movement to the Black Panthers in Oakland to the gay liberation movement. But in recent decades, the incursion of tech capital has rendered it almost unlivable for proletarians, turning whole sections of the Bay Area into gentrified playgrounds for the new tech bourgeoisie and their petty-bourgeois compatriots. Combined with the overall gutting of social welfare in the US and the opioid crisis, the result is mass homelessness, public drug use and abuse, and petty crime.

Caught in between the new aristocracy and the no-longer-working class is a class segment of Chinese immigrants and their descendants, who have been part of San Francisco for decades. They often occupy a class position above Black and Latino proletarians, but still having to work long hours for low pay, sometimes by way of “self-exploitation” in family-owned stores. Like in NYC, Chinese families in San Francisco have found ways to utilize the public school system to facilitate the upward mobility of their children, using merit-based admissions for selective enrollment schools, which pave the way for attending top universities. Then the San Francisco Board of Education tried to take away that possibility.

“Westward Vision,” a panel from the communist painter Victor Arnautoff’s Life of Washington. Arnautoff was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration to paint a mural cycle for the opening of San Francisco’s George Washington High School in 1936, and produced a subversive depiction of the founding of the US. The San Francisco Board of Education first tried to have the mural painted over, and then concealed from view, before a judge intervened.

The San Francisco Board of Education had already made headlines for trying to woke-wash a historically significant Popular-Front-era mural that gave an honest depiction of the founding of the United States. Even while San Francisco had lower COVID-19 cases than other cities, its Board of Education moved slowly to reopen the schools, but put energy into changing names of schools that were deemed racist by a study it commissioned. The study, finished in 2020, proposed renaming one-third of San Francisco public schools, including those named after Abraham Lincoln, the conservationist John Muir, and sitting US Senator Dianne Feinstein. As a US Senator, Feinstein undoubtedly enforces white supremacy, but two facts reveal the hollowness and hypocrisy of renaming the school that was named after her. (1) All the members of the San Francisco Board of Education most likely voted for her multiple times. (2) Although Feinstein is reportedly quite senile, she still occupies a position of power in the ruling class whether or not a local school displays her name.

Many Chinese parents were undoubtedly annoyed by the Board of Education’s concern for the names of schools over the quality of education, a perfect example of postmodernist wokeness’s concern for language over material relations and the liberal bourgeoisie only delivering symbolic reforms rather than ones that provide real material benefits for the masses (free healthcare, for example). But what really enraged Chinese parents was when the Board of Education tried to move away from merit-based admissions to selective enrollment schools because the merit-based tests are racist (they are). The Board was effectively going to take away a crucial tool that Chinese families used for upward mobility.

On top of the education question, following the onset of COVID-19 and after the 2020 rebellions, many Chinese families found themselves in the crosshairs of a rising crime wave, including a nationwide spike in anti-Asian hate crimes. Given where they lived and worked, they were caught between the impoverished sections of the proletariat and the wealthier sections of the petty-bourgeoisie, essentially constituting a buffer that enabled the wealthy to avoid dealing with the social problems created by poverty. In 2019, Chesa Boudin, who disappointingly chose a very different life path than his biological or adopted parents,9 was elected San Francisco District Attorney. When Boudin took office in 2020, he was heralded as the most radical of all the recently elected “progressive prosecutors.” Rightly or wrongly, he was blamed for the rising crime wave and for failing to address homelessness and drug use.

The actions of the woke Board of Education and the progressive prosecutor set the stage for a reactionary and completely understandable revolt by Chinese voters in San Francisco. They used the power of community organizing, California’s ostensibly democratic (in actuality quite reactionary) recall laws, and Republican money to stage a recall campaign that ousted the Board of Education and then kicked Chesa Boudin out of the District Attorney’s office. Their justifiable grievances with the failures of postmodernist wokeness and “progressive” bourgeois-democracy to deal with their real problems pushed them towards a reactionary resolution. We can only expect more of this in the future, as the actions, inactions, and politics of the liberal bourgeoisie push sections of the popular classes into the outstretched arms of fascism.

Obviously the only real and permanent cure for the psychosis of imperialism is proletarian revolution. Up until that cure can be administered, two treatment plans can diminish the psychosis of imperialism so that the patient (the popular classes) can find the strength to escape from their strait jackets (bourgeois ideologies).

The brutal massacre of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, TX was the latest in a string of horrific mass shootings across the US and Canada. In Uvalde the police not only failed to prevent the shooting, but also failed to intervene to stop the shooting in progress for over 45 minutes.

The first treatment plan is for communists to mount major political interventions that mobilize the masses to transform the political landscape and clear a path forward. For example, when millions of people were heartbroken and outraged over the mass shooting of school children in Uvalde, Texas, and thousands of protesters gathered outside the subsequent National Rifle Association (NRA) convention, what if revolutionaries had organized that outrage into a force determined to physically shut down the NRA meeting and run its members out of town? Yes, the NRA crackers and the police protecting them might have taken down some on our side, but the stakes are too high not to be taking bold and decisive actions like that right now. Or what if states in the US that have banned abortion were flooded with serious organizers determined to unleash the fury of women against the Christian fascists, inside and outside of government, who want to impose archaic forms of patriarchy over women? Couldn’t such a force potentially overturn those abortion bans through mass resistance (and no shortage of arrests)? What if, as COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out, people in their millions were mobilized to demand that the pharmaceutical companies—who received massive government funding so they could massively profit from COVID-19 vaccines—make their vaccines open source so that oppressed countries can cheaply and quickly manufacture them and so that these vaccines can be assessed by scientists who don’t work for Big Pharma or federal government agencies, which would help answer understandable skepticism about what the pharmaceutical companies have cooked up?10 We could give plenty more examples of where a political intervention could transform the landscape, but the point here is to emphasize the potential and necessity to lead masses of people in bold actions that can force the bourgeoisie to make moves they do not want to make, and doing so in ways that bring the proletariat’s class interests to the fore without picking one side or another in the conflict within the bourgeoisie.

The second treatment plan is the creation of what comrades in Canada have called a proletarian media empire that can show people, through concrete exposures concerning current events, how the functioning of the capitalist-imperialist system is behind all the injustices in the world. Such a proletarian media empire would have to be worlds apart from all the Leftist media today that only resonates with a select group of people. It would have to develop a broad reach and literally compete with the bourgeois media in order to train the masses of people in proletarian class-consciousness. With that consciousness, people would begin to develop immunity to the barrage of bourgeois ideology, whether in the form of conspiracy theories, fascist revanchism, liberal bourgeois-democracy, or postmodernist wokeness, that right now has them losing their minds.

Neither of these treatment plans, let alone the cure, for the psychosis of imperialism can truly be developed without the leadership of a communist vanguard party, and there is not such a party in Canada or the US today. We will have much to say about the need for a communist vanguard party, especially by way of lessons we can learn from past communist organizations in the US and Canada, in the next two issues of kites. In this issue, our content focuses on analyzing several of the crises rocking capitalism-imperialism and fostering the psychosis of imperialism we speak of.

Our editorial for the 2022 International Women’s Day, titled “Between Gilead and OnlyFans: Notes on the Oppression of Women in 21st-Century Capitalism-Imperialism,” seeks to cut through both archaic forms of patriarchy and more modern ones of the reactionary “sex work is work” variety and point to a path for women’s liberation. We were fortunate to be able to pair this editorial with an interview we conducted with Coni Ledesma of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, titled “It is only in participating in the revolution that women can work for their liberation.”

In Canada this past winter, the so-called Freedom Convoy besieged the Trudeau government in Ottawa. While Leftists and liberals alike wrote the Freedom Convoy off as a bunch of fascist yokels, comrades Jorge, Paul, and Arthur conducted social investigation among those gathered in Ottawa to learn their motivations and researched the class and political forces at play within the convoy movement. They discovered deep fissures within the ruling class beneath the surface, and many people from the popular classes with legitimate grievances about the Canadian government’s handling of COVID-19 who were being drawn towards libertarian and reactionary politics, who could potentially be moved in a different direction if there were a political force with the will and ability to move them. The result of their work, “War in the Enemy’s Camp: An Investigation into the ‘Freedom Convoy’ Movement,” is perhaps the most in-depth piece of communist journalism by comrades in North America for the last decade or more.

Another crisis that has created widespread confusion and plenty of bad takes is the war in Ukraine. In “Contested Nation: Ukraine and the Present War Amidst Great Power Politics and Inter-Imperialist Rivalries,” F.O. Marthoz cuts through all the faulty analysis out there, from Western and Russian bourgeois media to Leftist nonsense, to show the imperial rivalries at work behind the war. To make a materialist analysis, Marthoz digs into the history of Ukraine as a nation before, during, and after the Soviet Union and the various political forces involved in that history and the current war. In the course of addressing the Ukraine war and the plethora of bad takes on it, Marthoz’s article helps clarify crucial matters of communist principle with broader relevance, including the national question, revolutionary defeatism, and the responsibilities of communists as inter-imperialist contradictions create greater dangers and opportunities.

In “Seven Theses on Imperialism and the Drug War,” Aiyanas Ormond makes a class analysis of the drug economy, examines the drug war’s effect on the proletariat and the role of drugs in society, and suggests ways revolutionaries might develop mass struggle against the bourgeoisie’s drug war.

The final two contributions in kites #7, departing from the main theme of crises in the capitalist-imperialist system, distinguish real revolutionary communism from the paltry politics of postmodernism and the Left. “Tin-Man Maoism” is a back and forth between Tyler’s summation of the now defunct so-called Maoist Revolutionary Party in Philadelphia and responses from Kenny Lake of the kites Editorial Committee. “Key Words: Communist vs. Leftist and Postmodernist Conceptions” is aimed at helping would-be revolutionaries sharpen their understanding of communist principles.

Finally, to wrap it all up, we’re excited to present the stunning artwork of comrade Ruby Lois, whose contributions to kites #7 capture everyday moments of struggle and resilience in the lives of proletarian women.

* * *

As the crises of the capitalist-imperialist system continue to proliferate and intensify, and the psychosis of this system has whole segments of society losing their damn minds, the need for concerted political intervention of communist revolutionaries becomes ever more urgent.

What does it mean to seize upon the multiplying opportunities? It means would-be communists getting their shit together by closing ranks, and struggling for the ideological, political, and organizational unity necessary go among the masses and prepare for struggle in a serious and diligent way. Eventually, after some serious practice at this, communists must aim to stage the kinds of political interventions we’ve suggested above.

We at kites have noted a common retort from many an anti-vanguardist “communist” out there, “What is kites even doing anyway?” Well, certainly not cashing in optics of “mass work” for clout on our social media profiles, to be followed by appeals for Venmo donations for a “comrade” who can’t pay their rent and student debts. This latest species of grifterism should be repulsive to anyone serious about revolution.

kites itself is a journal, and does what journals do: publishes articles. You can get a feel for some of the ways we interact with the masses through the social investigation pieces we’ve published. But we’re not foolish, so we don’t connect mass organizing efforts we’re involved in directly to a journal openly advocating for the revolutionary overthrow of bourgeois rule.

What we’re already doing is exactly what we’re calling on our readers to do: get serious and fall into the ranks of a collective political plan. If you’re about it, hit kites up. As always, we look forward to hearing your feedback, criticisms, and thoughts on the content of our journal.

ENDNOTES

1 An acknowledgment here to the comrade who coined the term “psychosis of imperialism” many years ago.

2 To put it another way, what has white allyship achieved over the last decade other than giving money to grifters, including many white grifters?

3 That’s not to say masking and physical distancing are not necessary measures to lessen the spread of COVID-19, just that the liberal petty-bourgeoisie’s attitude to them was cultish and hypocritical (how many of them decided that taking off a mask to go eat brunch with their friends at their favorite restaurant was somehow exempt from their mask absolutism?).

4 While Trump has skated free of any liability for January 6th, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and others who were egged on by Trump to storm the Capitol are receiving short prison sentences.

5A new study reveals a significant increase in adverse mental health symptoms and other health indicators among children and adolescents during school closures. See R. Viner, S. Russell, and R. Saulle, et al., “School Closures During Social Lockdown and Mental Health, Health Behaviors, and Well-being Among Children and Adolescents During the First COVID-19 Wave: A Systematic Review,” JAMA Pediatrics (2022, Vol. 176(4), 400-409).

6 A conspiracy theory book that has been popular inside US prisons for decades, has fueled the militia movement, and has been referred to as the “mother of all conspiracy theories.”

7 “Subaltern” is among the terms used by Italian communist Antonio Gramsci that have been grossly misinterpreted by petty-bourgeois academics. Gramsci used subaltern to describe classes who were junior partners of the bourgeoisie, like how in British military terminology a subaltern is a junior officer. Don’t learn Marxism from petty-bourgeois academics.

8 For those unfamiliar with this reference, in the mid-2000s, proletarian youth in New York referred to any and all police as “Officer O’Malley,” including right to their face, in wonderful everyday acts of defiance. Whoever started the “Officer O’Malley” slang, it was an insightful way of highlighting how the NYPD in some ways still functions like a bunch of racist Irish street thugs.

9 Boudin’s biological and adoptive parents were, respectively, Kathy Boudin, David Gilbert, Bernardine Dohrn, and Bill Ayers. All were part of the heroic, if strategically misguided, Weather Underground organization and made great sacrifices, especially Kathy Boudin, who was in prison for 23 years, and David Gilbert, in prison for 40 years.

10 This approach draws on the analysis made in “Worsening crisis under US-Duterte regime is generating greater resistance,” Ang Bayan, published by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Special Issue, 26 December 2021.