Humourless Marxist Reviews: If Beale Street Could Talk

ifbealestreetcouldtalk

“If Beale Street Could Talk” is the latest film from Tarell Alvin McCraney’s straight accomplice from “Moonlight”, Barry Jenkins. The film is based on a novel of the same name by James Baldwin, continuing Barry Jenkins’s artistic love affair with gay men.

What is the film about, you ask? Quite simply, it’s about the same thing that everything is essentially about: structural violence against the oppressed.

Whether it’s the patriarchal behaviour of even the most apparently well-intentioned men in the film, or the constantly simmering racist dynamics which define the relationship between the Black characters and the dominating white society which oppresses them, this film contains many examples of what every film contains many examples of: reminders that the world is harshly––indeed, violently––oppressive in a manner that can only be explained by the fundamental structures through which it is defined.

Things in the film which are examples of structural violence against the oppressed include: religion, marriage, gender, sexuality, capitalism, jobs, and of course: the state. All of these things strongly resemble prisons, which incidentally are also depicted in the film. Several of these structurally oppressive things are depicted in a particular concrete act of violence, which can only serve to remind us of the abstract universality of violence under the oppressive structures which are our collective lived experience.

The structural violence which victimises the characters played by Stephen James (who strips down for the camera) and Brian Tyree Henry (who tragically does not strip down for the camera, even though he looks like a real snack as always) also plunges them into a dynamic in which they indirectly enact violence against each other, reinforcing their mutual oppression seemingly inescapably, because the violence is structural.

Also at several points in the film characters explicitly mention that they are oppressed by violent structures in the manner alluded to above. KiKi Layne, who does a stellar job in portraying the hero, Trish, is stellar partially because she is the actor who narrated the film and therefore gets to do this the most often.

If you were to ask us which film this most reminded our team of reviewers of, we would have to say “any other film about structural violence”, which is to say, all of the films.

We would like to congratulate the entire cast and crew, but especially director Barry Jenkins, for reminding us all of the structural violence against the oppressed which everything else that exists reminds us of, either because it is a concrete instance of structural violence, or because it is another artistic depiction of structural violence, or because artistic depictions are themselves an act of structural violence.

The world is a carnival of pain and oppression.

Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite.

Honestly the film was good and you should see it, as well as read the literary works of James Baldwin, an artistic treasure of the heroic Afro-American people, who still hope and fight for freedom to this day, as they did in Baldwin’s day.

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Fightback Guerrillas Killed in Clashes with RCMP

fightback

TORONTO – Canadian sources are reeling at the news of multiple deaths in shoot-outs between Canadian state forces and guerrilla units claimed to be affiliated with the local IMT organisation Fightback, who have apparently gone full Mahir Çayan while no one was paying attention.

At least six guerrillas died in the initial clash with the RCMP, while two of the Mounties are reported dead, apparently killed in an explosion when the guerrillas launched a rocket-propelled grenade at the RCMP vehicle at the beginning of the clash.

A statement released by the “Proletarian Guerrilla Forces”, the group claiming responsibility for the attack, quoted Alan Woods extensively, and stated that the attack was carried out in retaliation for “the colonial authorities suppression of the national will of the Wet’suwet’en people”, and that they intended to “fulfill our vanguard role for the proletariat fighting for the liberation of all oppressed peoples in the prison-house of nations that is Canada”.

The bourgeois settler-colonialist Canadian state aims to keep the Indigenous nationalities in Bantustans, and the only force which can prevent this is the united militant action of the class conscious proletariat of all nationalities. In the final instance, the only means to liberate the oppressed Indigenous peoples of Canada is through proletarian revolution, which will take the form a mass insurrection which will shake the entire Canadian project to its core.

But as we prepare ourselves for the moment when the ruling classes are unable to rule in the old way––in the schools, in the unions, in the streets, everywhere the revolutionary proletariat is to be found––the most advanced sections of the Canadian proletariat must defend the proletariat in the internal colonies by any means necessary. The Canadian state must know this: from now on, their repression of the First Nations peoples will have real consequences.

Despite a denial issued by Fightback of any connection to the “Proletarian Guerrilla Forces”, mass arrests of Fightback-affiliated students and workers took place in the hours following the release of the PGF statement. In general, the arrests took place peacefully, with the Fightback cadres shouting slogans but offering no violent resistance. However, York University witnessed several violent clashes with the police, raising the body count of this week higher still.

One student, upon seeing the police approach her in the library, is reported to have screamed “clear out, clear out!” frantically to the surrounding students, who all ran away looking confused. As the police approached her, she is reported to have screamed “THIS PROBLEM CAN ONLY BE SOLVED BY BLOOD AND IRON!”, before detonating an explosive device which the forensics team have determined was kept in her backpack, taking three police officers with her. Her identity has not been revealed by York University authorities, but she is claimed to be one Shilpa Mudaliyar, a York University Economics PhD student who classmates describe as “prone to quoting Alan Woods”.

Another student, whose identity has also been concealed by York University authorities but who has been widely claimed following release of video of the arrest to be Owen Patrick, a Mathematician and known Fightback cadre at the school, was apprehended on his way home. The stony-faced Trotskyist shouted “WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE” repeatedly and sternly for the entirety of the video until he was forced into the back of a police vehicle. While the student was taken into custody peacefully, police have claimed that a stockpile of weapons was found in his residence.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Alan Woods was taken in for questioning by British authorities. A spokesperson for Mr. Woods has denied all charges of coordinating “terrorist violence”, dismissing the claims as “ludicrous”:

It is not even clear that Fightback itself is concretely linked with the Proletarian Guerrilla Forces, and neither take orders from Alan Woods personally. The fact that the PGF quoted Alan Woods in their statement is proof only of Alan Woods’s continuing popularity as one of the most critical Marxist voices of our time. The Canadian state and its international allies would do well to cease harassing Marxists and instead to come to an agreement with the Indigenous First Nations which would not provoke such unfortunate violence.

Responses from the various Maoist elements around the world has been mostly shock. The RCP-PCR of Canada were the first to issue a response, stating that “we must repeat, as Fightback themselves have stated, that claims of an armed wing of Fightback are nothing more than rumours which the state is exploiting to repress socialist activists, and those repeating them are objectively aiding the state in this campaign”, but that “it is clear from the PGF statement that they are in fact followers of Alan Woods, so, um… that’s unexpected, eh?”

The German MLPD released a rare public letter to a Trotskyite figure, inviting Alan Woods to come to Germany to “discuss those things that you’re definitely not doing”, “which is not to say you can join ICOR, because of the Trot thing, but still, we want to discuss some stuff with you”. Another ICOR affiliate, the Turkish and Kurdish Hoxhaite party MLKP released a statement claiming to have predicted the developments in Canada, stating that “if the revolutionary wave of the 1970s gave the Trots the PRT-ERP in Argentina, then of course today’s wave of revolution would produce Trotskyite militants on the other side of the American continent. We look forward to the PGF following the PRT-ERP’s path of abandoning Trotskyism behind in the coming months”.

Trots from various non-IMT traditions have all been united in condemning the violence in Canada as “adventurism” that, even if it leads to a revolution, “will probably degenerate anyway”.

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Max Zirngast Free, Disappointed in You

zirngast

ANKARA – International hero of of the toiling masses and already designated Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2019 Max Zirngast has broken his silence after his release from Turkish Prison via the website triple-double-u period Twitter dot com. As noted Right Hegelian trendsetter Donald Trump has made Twitter the official source of all information, Left Hegelians like Comrade Max Zirngast have taken to the site to shout the truth to the heavens.

In his first tweet, Zirngast stated that he is “very glad to finally be recognised as the hero of the masses that I have always been. The masses are great, I just love them”. Following this initial affirmation of populism, the expected and extremely dialectical negation in the form of criticism followed, with Zirngast characterising the support he received from the masses in Turkey as “disappointing and insufficient”:

The fact that only I and some TÖP people were freed shows how much the masses in Turkey have frankly been slacking off. Freeing me was the easy part. Not only are tens of thousands still trapped in Turkish prisons, but this prison regime continues to stand. What about revolution, eh masses? When are you going to make one of those? Frankly, the least I could ask for, that my release be celebrated by the storming of a couple of government buildings, was not realised. SAD.

Subsequent tweets from the newly freed Austrian took credit for the “Yellow Jackets or WASPs or whatever, the French ones,” who were “clearly inspired to take to the streets by my own personal courage and leadership.”

Asked by a local Worker’s Spatula correspondent about who else he was disappointed in, Zirngast responded:

Who am I not disappointed in? EMEP, the ESP, Alınteri… all the Hoxhaites, and even more than them, the Maoists. Oh, the IWW, ICOR, and especially the readers of Worker’s Spatula. None of you have shouldered the weight of my revolutionary responsibilities while I was in prison, and none of you did enough to free me. None of you are as brave as me, either, or you would have been in prison with me. Frankly, the DSA and the Austrian state are bolder than most of the internet left reading this.

Regarding the motives for the Austrian state in helping to secure his release, Zirngast responded: “Obviously, every state has its own class interests. For my own rubbish homeland, the state’s hand was absolutely forced by the spectre of socialist revolution in Austria itself. Word got to us in Sincan that barricades were already being prepared in Viennese social housing projects in preparation and the call to arms was to take place on January 12th, my birthday. Only freeing me could take the pressure off.” Asked about his sources for this information he referenced “various Twitter personalities, the comments section of left-wing news sites, you know, all the most credible sources.” Concluding his remarks on the possibility of a Viennese insurrection, Zirngast was quoted as saying:

I don’t know all the details of this call to arms, since this information was being delivered to me in censored missives in a Turkish prison. But I think that I would not be going too far if I were to say that my prison letters served as the coded orders followed by guerrilla cells from Vienna to Innsbruck.

Regarding the question of what he has been up to since his release, Zirngast said:

Mostly what anyone would do in a similar situation, you know? Whenever you are released from prison, or start graduate school, or finish graduate school, or drop out of graduate school, or get elected President of the United States, your mentality is basically the same: you are overwhelmed at first and you have trouble adjusting yourself to the new circumstances. So you read Adorno, wander around at home in an open bathrobe, and randomly harass people on Twitter. It’s a solid, time-tested strategy, and it’s been serving me well.

Asked what he missed most about prison, his answer–given without hesitation–was “not having to read or be in any way reminded of the existence of Worker’s Spatula.”

[Note: shortly following the publication of our article, it was announced that Max Zirngast had been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Revolutionary Leftism, with a Nobel Committee representative stating that “he’s a shoe-in, everyone agreed that he is second only to Spartacus himself on the list of historical heroes resisting oppressive rule”.]

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Worker’s Spatula New Year’s Message and Self-Criticism

 

Alps

PAN-ALPINE GUERRILLA FRONT PATROL ROUTE, SOMEWHERE IN THE SWISS ALPS – Seated in plastic chairs in a snow-flecked mountain landscape under the blue Swiss sky, the video displays the heroic Central Committee of Worker’s Spatula, guns and spatulas raised in their clenched anti-fascist fists.

Cacophonously, the anthems of several rival Turkish anti-revisionist organisations begin playing simultaneously over shitty cell phone speakers which are clearly nowhere near the microphone. All of the assembled Worker’s Spatula Central Committee members attempt to sing along, off-key, for a few seconds before the video cuts forward to a speech by a representative of the group, already mid-speech:

“…an especially happy New Year to the now-free Max Zirngast, who is about as free as any of our friends trapped in the Republic of Reaction can be. Free them all!

We would like to begin this year’s New Year’s message, which usually would only contain our self-criticism, with a criticism of all of you. We would like to criticise all of our followers who were fooled by our 2018 April Fool’s joke. Shame on you for ever thinking the Spatula team would abandon you without the death, imprisonment, or otherwise neutralisation of our Central Committee.

Obviously, we would be shirking our duties if we did not add here that we must self-criticise for making light of the idea of the end of Worker’s Spatula, the vanguard of the vanguard of the vanguard of the world revolution. Such things are not to be joked about. Indeed, fuck “jokes”. Basically, everything we write is real. Raw dialectical materialism without the horse shit. No, we will NOT revise Marxism-Leninism. Worker’s Spatula. We live for this.”

At this juncture, the Yank is overcome with excitement and begins firing a Mosin into the air, after which the video cuts forward again, the Yank now disarmed and holding two spatulas instead of the rifle. The spokesperson continues:

“Continuing with our self-criticisms. 2018 was in many ways a year of setbacks. We suffered a split in our ranks on April 1st, and while unity has been achieved again, we are still rebuilding the structures which were lost in these difficult inter-Spatular conflicts. In particular, our Melbourne base of Hungry Jack’s workers has lost a fair number of good cadre, weakening the southern hemisphere work we had initially hoped to emphasise in 2018.”

Another cut, and the floor has been surrendered to two Welsh comrades, one of them speaking in Welsh, and the other providing simultaneous translation, providing a brief report on southern hemisphere work, including this self-critical section:

“Australia was meant to be our red base, it was, for the liberation of Papua and Argentina and all the rest of them mad winter-is-summer places, like. Well we cached that one up right proper, we won’t lie to you. And not being funny or nothing, like, but we’ll tell you for why: there’s no Marxist-Leninist discipline down there. No tradition of it, is there?

Well from now on, all of our Australian comrades are going straight to Turkish boot camp, reading Stalin and Hoxha and studying the culture, like. It’s no more of that mad upside-down rygbi or VB for them, only Turkish football and tea. Iechyd da, cymrodyr.”

The main representative concludes the self-criticism with a reference to the second Three-Year Plan announced in August of 2018:

“One last point of self-criticism before we get to our plans for 2019: as we already mentioned in the announcement of our second Three-Year Plan, we underestimated the strength of Swiss imperialism in the capitalist world-system. Liechtenstein have made us look like fools, and now they’re probably going to get to celebrate the 300th anniversary of their Nazi shithole homeland on the 23rd of January before we can even overthrow their parasitic regime. Fuck Liechtenstein.

But we are still here in the Swiss Alps. In December, we made a lot of progress in organising a Krampus union together with the Marxist-Leninist Group of Switzerland, and our guerrilla movement across the Alps grows stronger and more determined to fight for a new, Liechtenstein-less tomorrow each day. Death to Liechtenstein, whose fascist security forces are responsible for the martyrdom of Subcomandante Spatule on the 4th of April, 2018. Death to Swiss imperialism which protects the existence of Liechtenstein, as it has for 300 years.”

At this juncture, the flags of Liechtenstein and Switzerland are taken out, smeared with what appears to be faeces, and set on fire to cheers and applause from the assembled Central Committee. The representative continues:

“We are here in Switzerland, just as our invisible army of workers and intellectuals is to be found everywhere around the globe. We are in the Toblerone factories, the Toblerone mines, and the Toblerone fields, making Toblerone halal to troll the Christians, and making Toblerone Hegelian to troll the AKP.

In 2019 we hope to engage in more polemics with non-Marxist pages, as we finished off 2018 by doing to the revisionists at AboutIslam. You know we had to do it to them.

While joining the rest of you in dealing with the absolute shitshow that will be the beginning of the 2020 US Presidential Election campaigns which will start this coming year, we also plan to swing an election somewhere. Maybe a student election, maybe a municipal election, but we swear by Allah (SWT) that we will find some election with a candidate we support, make propaganda for them as the Spatula, and then take credit for the ensuing victory.

We will also continue building RaFFWU in Australia, as our deepest connections with the working class remain those with the fast food workers in Australia, who anyway are the single most revolutionary section of the international proletariat that exists.

We will of course continue posting pithy jokes to Twitter, memes to Facebook, and giving you the deep content you crave on this WordPress page. If the bastards at Facebook attempt to ban us again, we can just keep changing our URL. Top mathematicians in our ranks theorise that we can just keep adding one to the current number in the URL and achieve a larger whole number, perhaps infinitely.

We may also actually write an original joke, instead of repeating the same jokes over and over again in different combinations as a thin veneer for Marxist theory and criticism. But don’t hold your breath.

Regardless, we will continue to transform the internet left generation into serious Marxist-Leninist cadre with real praxis and build sincere revolutionary movements around the world.

No one can stop us: we are right, we will win.”

And with that, the Central Committee disappear over a mountain pass, the Alpine landscape disappears from the screen, and the video message concludes by displaying the text “Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!”

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Yā Ummat ul-Islām: Embrace Marxism-Leninism!

Euzübillahimineşşeytanirracim Bismillahirrahmanirrahim:

We at Worker’s Spatula have always been very open about the Islamic faith which guides our Central Committee, elhamdulillah. Just as we love the liberation of all of humanity through the material overcoming of class society, we love Allah (SWT), who has created Marxism as all things in the dialectic of history so that we might know them. Given how long our Central Committee have been underground, perhaps we assumed that all of our co-religionists had embraced communism as we have, but tragically it would appear to not be so.

Tragically, our co-religionists at AboutIslam have done a great disservice to the Ümmet and to human liberation by publishing some truly second-rate anti-communist propaganda, and so we of the Central Committee have been pulled away from our busy schedule of organising to respond to this baseless nonsense. If we do not receive a published response from AboutIslam, we will be forced to assume that the AboutIslam staff were convinced by our arguments, and have become communists themselves.

İnşallah.

aboutislam

The discussion begins as such:

Marx and his collaborator Engels in their “Communist Manifesto” wrote, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” – i.e the struggles between those who have property and those who don’t have – “the haves and the have nots” – or between the capitalists and the workers.

Already we can see we are not dealing with writers well versed in explaining Marxist theory. The struggles are not necessarily between those who “don’t have” property, the question is the different relationship to property. At several stages in history, classes with different amounts of private property found themselves in conflict, such as in conflicts between the bourgeoisie and the feudal aristocracy. It is therefore inaccurate to say that Marx and Engels believed that “all hitherto existing society” was characterised as a conflict between “the capitalists and the workers”. Let us not, however, try to throw out our opponents before they have even made any points “against” communism. Let us be generous, and assume that our friends at AboutIslam mean that this history to which Marx and Engels referred culminates in the struggle between the proletariat and bourgeoisie under capitalism, today. Let us read on, knowing that this is where we stand today, and assuming that the other side do in fact know what they’re claiming to rebut:

Marx believed that the tension between the ruling class and the working class would eventually reach a boiling point, leading to a socialist revolution.

This, in turn, would cause the rise of a system of government in which the majority of the people, consisting of the workers, would dominate. Marx termed this the “dictatorship of the proletariat”.

From this situation, a classless utopia would emerge, causing the withering away of the state or government.

All of this assumes a highly deterministic and teleological reading of Marx. In fact, in the portion of the Communist Manifesto which AboutIslam quotes (which we assume they read, not merely stealing a quote from Google or Wikipedia without even checking the freely available versions of the short text available on the internet), Marx and Engels immediately say that class struggle: “carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes”. So even in the Communist Manifesto, a very short and accessible text relative to the bulk of Marx’s rather dense theoretical work, we see that Marx and Engels believed that society could be reconstructed in radically new terms or end in disaster for all… much as appears to now be very likely the case as global capitalism threatens to make the planet uninhabitable for all of humanity if the ruling classes who are overseeing this unsustainable development are not brought low by the will of Allah (SWT) made manifest in the impoverished proletarian masses who are being tested by Allah through the sinful greed of their oppressors and exploiters.

Moving on to the slander:

The first problem we as Muslims come across in communism is the crass materialism on which it is founded. The communists reject God, the human soul, and the life hereafter.  They ridicule the human need for Divine guidance and consider religion “the opium of the people”.

“The communists” reject God, do we? We reject “the human soul” and “the life hereafter”? As communists we would note that Marxist theory does not meaningfully weigh in on these subjects except as sociological theory, and we are believing Muslims (elhamdulillah). And as believing Muslims and communists, our existence––hateful though it may in your eyes––is proof that “you know not” of what you speak: “perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you“. Who knows if we are good or bad, but Allah? But here we are now, and if you are sincere and truthful Muslims, you must reckon with this truth.

Let us be generous and assume that in this slanderous paragraph about what “the communists” believe about subjects which have nothing to do with Marxism at all, that the point is that Marx personally was subscribing to a “crass materialism” (indeed this too shows a lack of understanding of how Marx and Marxists viewed the world, as the phrase “vulgar materialism” is a frequent insult by theoretically informed Marxists, who, like Marx, are inspired by the logical insights of the German Christian philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel applied to a materialist reading of history) when he referred to “the opium of the people”. Let us turn to the context in which Marx wrote these infamous words, often misunderstood by irreligious Marxists and religious non-Marxists alike:

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

If Marx were an atheist, where is the “ridicule” in this to which AboutIslam refers? If all atheists had such sympathy for believers, they would not have such false prophets as Richard Dawkins, who preach war against the Ümmet by the imperialist powers. If all atheists should “reject God [religion and] the human soul” by speaking of religion as “the soul of soulless conditions”, inşallah they will be easy to bring to a sincere belief in Islam.

It is true that communists not only see it as a necessity to engage in revolutionary politics across religious boundaries, but also to transcend religious division altogether. But this is not because we are, or Marx was, an atheist: Marx was not an atheist, as can plainly be seen from “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”, the text from which the quote above was taken. He was a pious Sufi criticising the kâfir religions for having drawn the proletarian masses away from a sincere belief in Allah. Marx sought to transcend their false religion with genuine nearness to the Creator. In full communism, there will be a universal state of absolute knowing by which the revealed religion of Islam and a true knowledge of and closeness to God will be achieved by all. İnşallah maşallah.

So when AboutIslam asks:

If we adopt just the economic program of communism, rejecting their foundational philosophy, how can it affect our religious beliefs and practices?

Can we really take them seriously as critics of Marx, our brother in faith?

Defence of Marx’s religiosity aside, however, what is the meaning of this statement:

The answer is that their economic system cannot be separated from their world view or their outlook upon the life of a people. Their economics is a kind of militant atheism; and the Marxian ideology of dialectical materialism is presented as the only driving force behind all human progress that humankind has achieved so far, or humans can achieve in future.

Rejecting all concepts of God, His apostles, and their messages; communists assert communism to be the winner of the ongoing ideological battle. They assert that by changing the economic circumstances, we can create a good social system.

This is tautology at best, dishonesty at worst. The former is not befitting an intellectual debate, the latter not befitting a believing Muslim. How is Marxist “economics […] a kind of militant atheism”? Which economic principle in any volume of Capital requires atheistic assumptions? We are not even treated to a hint of an answer to this crucial question. Instead our (hopefully sincere) co-religionists at AboutIslam simply repeat that communists do not believe in God, that Marxism is atheistic, and therefore, this alleged atheism permeates the economic theory, because it was written by atheists. Compelling stuff.

Should Muslims reject everything which atheists have created on the grounds that the material creations of atheists “cannot be separated from their world view”? A fair amount of information technology today might fall into this category, and therefore we may be forced to assume another possible reason why this polemic might not receive a response: upon reading it, those behind AboutIslam abandon the use of much of communication technology to keep with the “logic” they employ in the above paragraph (which anyway we feel is ill-founded and incorrect in its assumptions about what Marx and Marxism stand for in the realm of the spiritual).

Nowhere do they demonstrate the incorrectness of Marx’s economic theory, or reference Capital in any way. They simply state, incorrectly, that it is “militant atheism”. We could just as easily, state without evidence that the creators of AboutIslam were a collection of atheistic Trotskyite wreckers out to keep communism out of the hands of the Muslim youth, and that the site should not be visited because of its “militant atheism”. This is the level of argumentation which this section of this anti-communist polemic dips to.

Then our friends at AboutIslam pull an amazing sleight of hand by claiming that Islam itself is proof of the untruth of the materialist conception of history (which they refer to as “dialectical materialism”, though they surely mean “historical materialism”) and class struggle:

Completely disproving the Marxian principle of dialectical materialism, the Prophet effected a complete change of the existing socio-political system prevailing in Arabia, bringing about a revolution in the whole of human existence as it were.

But nowhere does Marx claim that all historical change happens only as a result of fully conscious economic subjects speaking in purely economic terms. This would be frightfully undialectical to begin with, since ascribing this level of consciousness to humanity as a whole would imply that there was a more or less already existing state of universal and absolute knowledge. The point is that humanity is still not conscious of itself, etc. But turning from the Hegel back to the more specifically Marxist claims: most of the rest of the piece repeats in various ways the above “argument”, that Marxism is simply economic determinism, which of course would be news to Karl Marx:

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.

But going a bit more deeply, there are three chief problems with this erroneous assumption:

–Firstly, that it implies Marxists cannot explain the advent of Islam… when one of France’s most famous Marxists, Maxime Rodinson, made a career doing just that. If the authors at AboutIslam are unwilling to address this key Marxist theoretician of the rise of Islam, who has been translated into Turkish and English and is discussed by Marxists of various relationships with belief at least in these two languages, we cannot say that they really have any right to speak about Islam and communism.

–Secondly, and relatedly, their own deeply flawed argumentation about what communists consider important and what Islam preaches seem not to be in such sharp contradiction as the rhetoric they use to tie them together implies: communists are charged with viewing social change in terms of “changing the economic circumstances”, which purportedly can’t explain the rise of Islam, by which “the Prophet effected a complete change of the existing socio-political system prevailing in Arabia”. Ah, but this didn’t involve a change to the economic circumstances? According to AboutIslam again: “Certainly Islam acknowledges and understands the importance of a good economic basis for any improvement in the social life of a community. ”

Hum.

–Thirdly, and following chronologically from the last quote:

But it firmly rejects the idea that man is simply “an economic animal”, which is the basis not only of Communism, but also of Capitalism. Islam does not teach that if economic conditions of a people are improved, all the ills of the society are cured.

Surely, Marxism does not either? Just a bit more from AboutIslam before we return with a final Marx quote to show how little our friends have engaged with Marx and Marxism:

Economics, with all its significance, is still only one aspect of human life. There are other important areas of human life such as the spiritual and cultural spheres, where too there are issues to be addressed. Mere economic solutions can do little in these areas.

Marx was in no way blind to spiritual or cultural ills, and wrote on them rather extensively. Indeed, there can be no excuse but ignorance to claim that in addition to being a pure “economic determinist”, Marx was unconcerned with anything except for the explicit economic system on which a society ran. Numerous sections of Marx’s writings on diverse subjects can be found, again, for free on the internet with only the smallest amount of Googling.

But we do not deny that Marxism claims an essentially “economic” character to human social life, one which we feel is crucial to understanding the world as we actually live it. While AboutIslam are free to deny the importance of this, we think the majority of our Ümmet, impoverished, exploited, and oppressed as they are as proletarians, must hear Marx when he says:

In labour all the natural, spiritual, and social variety of individual activity is manifested and is variously rewarded, whilst dead capital always keeps the same pace and is indifferent to real individual activity.

In general we should observe that in those cases where worker and capitalist equally suffer, the worker suffers in his very existence, the capitalist in the profit on his dead mammon.

The worker has to struggle not only for his physical means of subsistence; he has to struggle to get work, i.e., the possibility, the means, to perform his activity.

Where is the atheism in this? In conclusion:

It must surely be mere ignorance that causes the authors at AboutIslam to slander and misrepresent all communists and Marx himself with unfounded and ignorant statements of the sort found in their shoddy anti-communist screed. We would not want to imply that they are being willfully dishonest, themselves motivated by some economic incentive, perhaps payment from someone who wishes to erase the above simple material fact about the world we live in… perhaps so that they may continue to amass the wealth that Allah has created––objectified in the forms of the means of production and its distribution––for themselves, rather than sharing it as our common inheritance. We pray no Muslim would sell their honesty so cheaply.

Since there is no chance that is the case, and the writers are motivated purely by piety and an accordant desire to protect Islam from kufr, we are certain that they will consider our arguments and respond. We look forward to having a more fruitful and complete discussion following clarification, self-criticism, and counter-arguments to the points raised in the modest piece above.

AboutIslam: please respond.

To the rest of you: if you are a Muslim and are interested in communist ideology, we encourage you to be in touch with the page to discuss philosophy, politics, economics, war, peace, Marx, Lenin, etc. İnşallah, we will hear from you soon.

If you are a non-Muslim communist and you are interested in our blessed dîn, please also be in touch so we can find you a local mosque in which to learn about Islam.

Now comrades who know that Islam is the light:
workers and oppressed of the world, unite!

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Happy Birthday, Joey Steel!

There are many reasons to defend the legacy of Comrade Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, also known as Joseph Stalin, Koba, Joey Steel, and more intimately, as Sam Steel. There are those who might emphasise his status as the last principled leader of the Soviet Union and the Bolshevik Communist Party which led the process of its construction. There are those who would defend his successful leadership during the darkest days of the anti-fascist struggle, ultimately emerging as the head of the anti-fascist front that would liberate the east of Germany from Hitlerite fascism and beating back the imperialist camp to the greatest extent since the October Revolution, a high water mark in the internationalisation of class struggle which was tragically never to be reached again thanks to the rise of modern revisionism and the Sino-Soviet split.

But on the occasion of his birthday, we want to emphasise a different side of Joey Steel. We want to emphasise that before becoming the face of the heights of organised struggle against capitalism-imperialism and all the ensuing controversies of the great struggle to reshape human society beyond capitalism, beyond profits, beyond exploitation… before there was even a Soviet Union… even before he was organising militias to separate out intercommunal violence in Baku and robbing banks… before he was Koba, he was an ordinary person like any of us. He was a member of an oppressed nationality under the Tsarist empire (the Georgians), he was impoverished, he suffered from abuse from his alcoholic father, and he contracted smallpox. From such humble beginnings, any single one of us can become a figure of greatness like Joseph Stalin.

But there is one thing about the personage of the young Stalin which makes him drastically different to most readers: he was fit as fuck, and could absolutely get it, any time, any place, no questions asked.

youngstalin

Look at that gorgeous example of Georgian manhood. Mm-mm, comrades. Mm-mm. Before he became a typical Caucasian uncle (which, if that’s your type, no judgement), Joey Steel looked like he could really lay down some steel, if you know what I’m saying.

Marxism-Leninism.

We like to imagine sexy young Stalin was always hooking up with the other lads in his seminary, and was known as much for his beautiful singing voice as being pleasantly girthy. Not too girthy, you understand. Not enough to the point where it looks weird. Just girthy enough that you can tell just by looking that it’s got some heft.

Whew. Going to need a minute here. You all listen to this song from the “Stalin Did Nothing Wrong” Conference while I uh… take care of some stuff:

 

So uh… yes. Happy birthday to Joseph Stalin, and to all the sexy enemies of Trotskyism, opportunism and modern revisionism, the world over.

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CrimethInc. Organises Dauvé Talk in Phnom Penh

holidayincambodia

PHNOM PENH – CrimethInc., the most popular of all post-left anarchist “Ex-Workers Ex-Collective[s]” recently organised a talk on “the failures of Leninism” by Gilles Dauvé, their favourite “Marxist” thinker, delivered in the capital city of the country where his ideas on socialism were first put into practice all those years ago. The talk was attended by correspondents of Worker’s Spatula, the most popular of all “internationalist and anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist platform[s] for irreverent Marxist discourse”.

Owing to the scarcity of Dauvé’s public appearances, his readers from around the world have flocked to “the Pearl of Asia” to hear the premiere Communization theorist speak on his insightful criticisms of Leninist theory and practice, as well as the history of practical alternatives and the theoreticians associated therewith:

The failure of 20th century “Marxist” projects was that their programme of the so-called “dictatorship of the proletariat” was–in its essence–the programme of dictatorship over capital, which effectively constrained the real movement within the confines of the management of a particular mode of production: capitalist production in essence.

The real essence of communism – which is an eternally dynamic real-historic movement towards the wholesale abolition of the current state of things–fundamentally irreconcilable with the management of production–was thus lost.

The talk proceeded that way for some time, with Dauvé going on about abolishing value production as a prerequisite for the Communization process–something that is definitely compatible with capitalism’s continued existence as an international mode of production–and the “revisionism” of communism displayed in those who speak of a socialist transition called the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, since “only he is a communist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the immediate building of communist society as such”, as emphasized by the great Communization theorist Saloth Sâr.

The question and answer period of the talk was dominated by critical “questions” delivered in the form of screamed Marx quotes by an unlikely alliance of Hoxhaites and Bordigaists, who waved crumpled pamphlets and pounded on the covers of ancient Italian and Balkan hardcovers, as is their tradition.

Dauvé–who, if it is not yet obvious, we are comparing to Pol Pot; and who has written a “theoretical” defence of paedophilia–responded to these criticisms by referring to the assembled Marxist-Leninists and Marx-literate leftcoms as “edgelords” and “power fetishists” whose commitment to abolishing capitalism is “suspect at best”.

That’s it. That’s the joke.

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Point/Counterpoint: English Republicanism

anotherengland

Point: We must build an anti-Westminster movement in England
by Anthony Jones, writer at The Lever

As the economic crisis deepens, Europe is particularly gripped by contradictions between various imperialist powers. This is most saliently felt in the “Brexit” regime which has pitted sections of the British ruling classes against their French and German counterparts. However, we in Britain are still living through the contradictions of capitalism-imperialism headed by Westminster, and in particular, the national contradictions within Britain which have the potential to splinter the UK as the EU is being splintered.

Naturally, I am referring to the potential of rising Scottish and Welsh nationalism to weaken Westminster imperialism and the English bourgeoisie, but it is very important that we understand how the English bourgeoisie is actually ruling Britain under the guise of not doing so. Through cultural soft power and economic and military hard power, the English ruling classes whose seat of power is Westminster attempt to convince all the peoples of this island of a shared political identity as “British”. This lie must be exposed not only by the Welsh and Scottish proletariats who can carry the struggle against imperialism beyond the weak positions offered by our “own” bourgeoisies, but also by the English themselves.

It is not enough for the English working class to not identify with British imperialism: they must show how British imperialism is seeking to dominate the market through national oppression, even “at home”. To do this, a line of demarcation must be drawn and an English movement against Westminster must be born, roughly based on the weak historical trend of English republicanism, now potentially strengthened by economic crisis and sharpened by the knowledge of national contradictions in these islands.

This is no appeal to a bourgeois English patriotism of the sort of the original English republicans, which itself sowed the seeds of capitalist-imperialist domination of Wales and Ireland. Rather the English revolutionaries must preemptively work to give up land dominated not only by the UK state as such, but even legally defined as England. As I have argued before, it is up to the English revolutionaries to begin this struggle against their ruling classes by continuing to question the borders of England itself. But whatever remains of England and Englishness after this investigation, must be realised as a particular site of struggle, and the “local” class struggle in England identified with the multinational proletariat imprisoned in and by England and Britain, in a united revolutionary struggle against the bourgeois dictatorship in Westminster.

Workers and oppressed peoples of the world – unite!

Counterpoint: Chas and Dave were English
by RCG representative

The position put forth by Anthony Jones would at first glance appear to take a creative and original anti-imperialist stance against the English ruling classes, dividing English workers from their “own” ruling classes by uniting them with the anti-imperialist movements of various oppressed peoples in these islands and around the world.

But “Comrade” Anthony Jones is forgetting one crucial fact: Chas and Dave were English.

 

How can the revolutionary multi-national proletariat around the world put any faith in any of the classes which belong to a nation so reactionary that it produced such “art” as Chas and Dave? They certainly cannot.

So as to prevent a continuation of this “debate” with opportunists such as Anthony Jones, we want to head off potential responses to what we consider is already the end of the discussion: Anthony Jones might offer that many English people also agree that Chas and Dave are bad and reactionary shit. This is certainly true: we know many individual English people who never listen to Chas and Dave, or indeed, any English “musicians”. But breaking on an individual level with Chas and Dave cannot be mistaken for a decisive break by English workers with the labour aristocracy ideology best exemplified by Chas and Dave and their rubbish “music”.

Since Chas Hodges passed away (tragically altogether too late) earlier this year, Anthony Jones might offer that Chas and Dave represent a historical threat to proletarian internationalism, but not a contemporary one. However, the continued life of Dave Peacock… really? His surname is Peacock? Disgusting. Right, the fact that Dave is still alive represents a concrete obstacle that we are confident no victim of British imperialism could look beyond.

Imagine you are in Belfast, engaged in solidarity work with the 32 County Sovereignty Movement or the Irish Republican Socialist Party. On this nearest front line against British Imperialism, if you were in a pub, and Dave Peacock came on television, speaking in that horrendous accent of his, what Irish republican would not be justified in taking out their rage on any English person in sight?

Under such conditions, no meaningful international solidarity can be built on the basis of anti-imperialism between the victims of British imperialism and the English, the nightmare nation which incubated the “cultural” abomination known as Chas and Dave. Not even the most apparently revolutionary elements of the English working class will be able to overcome the contradiction of Chas and Dave and Chas and Dave-ism at least until some hero ends the life of Dave. Until then, we must maintain a national liberation strategy of the entire legitimate territory of Wales and Scotland from English oppression “at home” and strict anti-imperialist struggle against Britain abroad.

KNEES UP MOTHER BROWN.

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“Jospor”: a representative debate with the dominant ideology

Jospor

We were recently contacted by private message on Twitter by a young Tory apologist whom we’ll refer to as “Jospor”. This individual attempted to “debate” us, and we feel this experience was instructive in so far as it revealed the weakness of rightist debate against actually theoretically informed Marxist-Leninists, and why it is important for us all to engage in theoretical interventions to steer “First Day Communist Kids” towards a firmer grasp of our ideology. Of course we would prefer to debate, say, Jordan Peterson, but he has not yet been convinced to debate us, out of fear of exactly such an exchange. And anyway, we can’t say that “Jospor” is any less skilled at anti-communist propaganda than Jordan Peterson, as the “debate” below will attest.

But yes, dear comrades, please read the theoretical materials Worker’s Spatula recommend, from our reading group to the English-language content on Abstrakt, or recommendations specific to your theoretical and practical needs which we can provide if you contact Worker’s Spatula through Facebook, Twitter, Curious Cat, or e-mail; then you too can wipe the floor with the reactionaries and join us in our mission to rescue our communist youth from the twin scourges of Trotskyism and modern revisionism!

Below we have published the entirety of the exchange, typos and other errors made by our side included. Out of respect for “Jospor”, we have not revealed their name or Twitter handle, and if anyone is able to identify them from this exchange to which they contributed practically nothing of intellectual substance, the fault is theirs for publicly showing off their atrocious politics on Twitter, goading the left into debate. We share this exchange also in the hopes that perhaps one of “Jospor”s elders will take responsibility and either explain to “Jospor” why we were right, or take part in a serious debate and explain to us why we are meant to be wrong. Enjoy:

“Jospor”: Why are you a communist? [editor’s note: this was completely his opener, don’t worry, it gets better]

Worker’s Spatula: After a very thorough reading of the complete works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, we came to the inescapable conclusion that despite the idealist terrain in which Hegel is usually positioned, there is a strong materialist reading of his work which implies that achieving a liberation of human spirit in its totality must be achieved by overcoming the contradiction between exploiter and exploited, a contradiction between the right of private property objectified in the capitalist class and the right of creative humanity objectified in the revolutionary proletariat, the first class in history which represents an internationalised and therefore universal human conception of production with no claim to the exploitation of the other, a class which is developing every day to higher and higher levels as capital develops.

Also we found this sexy picture of Stalin:

sexyyoungstalin

“Jospor”: But don’t you think communism would kill the economy?

Worker’s Spatula: Firstly, just a stellar job on engaging with the theoretical claims made in our response to your initial question. Truly you’re doing wonders for your repeated claims that socialists are intellectually underdeveloped children while defenders of class society such as yourself are serious thinkers. But, to your second question: of course, if you had read Capital, Volume I, with even the most cursory care, you would see that the problem we face is in our conception of “the economy”. Under a system of commodity production, the profit motive decides whether a given enterprise fails or succeeds. When you say “communism would kill the economy”, it is necessarily true that communism must “kill” the commodity-based, profit motive-ruled economy to which you are accustomed. This is certainly a bad thing from the interests of profit and the capitalist class in which the interests of profit are objectified, but it is indeed a good thing for the majority whose needs are not met under the current “economy” which forms the totality of the current global order and, accordingly, your main reference point for human existence. To claims of the inefficiency of socialism in practice, we direct your attention to this two-part work by Güney Işıkara[.]

“Jospor”: So how would you suggest people but [sic] things? How would the division of labour be split up? Do you even believe in the economy?

Worker’s Spatula: It seems you don’t read anything written to you, but like the illusion of “debate” that comes with yourself typing words into the void. Please engage with the considerable material we have just sent you and then get back to us.

“Jospor”: You sent me something on a socialist economy. I thought you were communist?

Worker’s Spatula: You’re really very poor at this, but simply so that you don’t feel slighted, we will humour you a bit longer: “socialism” is the idea of an economic system that takes the place of capitalism as such (see part 2 of the piece linked above, which rebuts the conception of “market socialism”), “communism” is a name for the ideology of Karl Marx which was counterposed with the already fashionable socialist movement in Europe at the time in reference to the Paris commune, and is also used among communists as a roughly equivalent term with a special emphasis on Marx’s theories, and in particular, the idea of a stage of socialism so advanced that overcomes capitalism entirely, not only replacing the commodity form and pushing aside the profit motive, but the stage of the “withering away” of the state because these things had retreated from human civilisation entirely (hence the term you may have encountered, “full communism”). At any rate, we assure you, communists believe in an economic system which can be called “socialism” that is incompatible with capitalism as such, “communism” is to “socialism” what “Kantianism” is to “deontological ethics”, it is a particular form thereof. As for the piece by the Marxist and trained economist which we sent you the first part of being somehow “unrelated” to communism (despite the fact that if you had even glanced at it you would see it explicitly references the October Revolution and Marxism), the entire site on which it is hosted is indeed a Marxist site:

“Abstrakt is open to all writings and translations based on historical materialism and Marxism, with socialist aims”

Again, we would be willing to continue this “debate” when you had perhaps read anything we recommended you read and put forward questions that actually grapple with the problems contained therewithin. You will find that Güney Işıkara’s piece, for example, explicitly starts with the assumption that anti-communist academics must be rebutted and not hand-waved away. The least you could do is offer the same courtesy in return.

So again, please read both parts of Güney Işıkara’s piece and, ideally, the first volume of Capital, since the little you’ve written has already betrayed how little you understand our arguments and how little you are ready to even hear our responses at the present time.

We wish you good day, down with the British state, freedom to Ireland and all the victims of British imperialism, down with patriarchy and freedom to all women and all gender oppressed, down with capitalism, and long live liberated humanity united in a glorious future beyond the world of profits and exploitation.

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Bigfoot Condemns Gramsci

Bigfoot

As a cold front rolls in to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, that most awe-inspiring of all God’s anti-revisionist creatures, Maoist Bigfoot shakes some snow off of his fur, saddles up on his elk, and sets off towards the 43rd parallel.

He must travel many miles to attend the annual conference of the rarest and most powerful of the three ICMLPOs, the ICMLPO (Cryptid), hosted by a mountain Giant in Woodland Caribou National Park this year.

Whilst crossing the sparsely populated Canadian south, he wanders past a group of young revolutionaries training for gue-errrrr… practising their bushcraft skills in a wooded grove in southern Ontario. One of the cadre- which is to say, group, eagle-eyed as ever, spots Maoist Bigfoot hiding, mostly concealed by a dense thicket of trees, just outside of the range most cameras can effectively focus.

“Ah, Bigfoot,” exclaimed J. Moufawad-Paul said “My old ideological nemisis.”

“JMP,” replied Bigfoot, nodding.

“How are the Red Guards?’’ smirked JMP.

“We split over the issue of pig heads,” Bigfoot replied, calmly: “they wouldn’t give me the rest of the pig. Apparently ‘the butcher uses the rest of the pig’. Do they know how many calories it takes to sustain a creature of my size? Absolute bullshit.”

“Solidarity,” replied JMP, sympathetically.

“How have you been, JMP?” asked Bigfoot, dismounting from his elk. “What polemics have you been engaged with since we last met?”

“Oh, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you,” said JMP. “I had to break into my own university during a strike to host a conference with Worker’s Spatula. We were going to continue it, but ever since we’ve been e-mailing back and forth, debating Gramsci.”

“Gramsci?” bristled Bigfoot, “I presume your debate centred on Gramsci’s flagrant idealism?”

“…no, I… we were debating whether Gramsci can be considered an orthodox Marxist-Leninist theorist. I suppose that in so far as Gramsci’s ideas from his Prison Notebooks weren’t connected to a concrete practice…”

“NOR SHOULD THEY HAVE BEEN!” thundered Bigfoot. “Gramsci’s theory substitutes an idealist war of culture in the place of engaging with the real roots of the decline in the emergence of the proletariat as a class for itself: that although the proletariat objectively increased in number since capitalism emerged, the development of imperialism has divided the proletariat, and neo-liberal restructuring has intensified this process of the practical fragmentation of the proletariat in social terms!”

“Absolutely the economic processes to which you refer are real,” replied JMP, “but you can’t possibly claim that there is no place for ideological struggle for unity of the revolutionary masses? After all, what was the Cultural Revolution if not an attempt to shore up the ideological hegemony of what was at the time referred to as ‘Mao Zedong Thought’?”

“Chairman Mao never advocated for an internationalisation of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which was a political struggle by the Chinese proletariat in practice after having already overcome the material obstacles to proletarian revolution in their own country!” proclaimed Bigfoot, pausing to blow a huge cloud of vape, under which he was entirely naked.

“So you’re suggesting that Gramsci’s theories were mistaken in terms of his understanding of what the role of ideological struggle was?” enquired JMP, attempting to find common ground with the Cryptid.

“Not at all,” insisted Bigfoot, “the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was a practical political struggle in concrete material practice, just as People’s War is. Delaying People’s War in favour of achieving some idealist ‘ideological hegemony’ is nothing but the October Road, no matter how you choose to conceal this fact. There is no ‘War of Position’, there is only a strategic defensive phase of the protracted war that the people wage against imperialism and the comprador bourgeoisies,” concluded Bigfoot, placing his vaporiser back in the pouch on his elk.

Polemics continued for several hours, as is traditional among anti-revisionists, before talk turned to the shared commitment of the RCP-PCR and Bigfoot to Maoist People’s War against all the settler-colonial imperialist forces of North America, who oppress the victims of colonialism and exploit all the cryptids of the region for tourist money.

The group raised their Kalashnik-I mean their bushcraft firemaking tools and fired-that is to say… produced sparks up into the air in a display of anti-revisionist Maoist unity. A revisionist loon on a near-by lake was heard cawing in disdain in the distance, but even this could not dull the spirit of proletarian and internationalist solidarity.

As Bigfoot climbed back onto his trusty elk, his thoughts returned to the upcoming ICMLPO (Cryptid) conference ahead of him. Strange ethereal lights guided his way through the snow-covered landscape. What would the other creatures of lore have to say about the current struggles around the world? Was Dogman really a Hoxhaist? Would the Black-Eyed Children of the PSL turn up and ruin it for everyone? Would proceedings get interrupted again by a group of Satanic Guevarists trying to contact Fidel Castro by seance again like last year? Only time––and the dialectic of history––will tell.

To be continued…

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