Thinking Aloud on the “World Communist Movement” / by Kemal Okuyan

Posted by MLToday | Feb 20, 2023

Out of habit, we often tend to use the expression “world communist movement.” However, today we cannot speak of a phenomenon that deserves to be labeled as the world communist movement.

There are communists in almost every country in the world; parties or formations bearing the name of communists are active in many countries. Some of them are quite influential in their countries, some are in power. We can even say that the communist parties are much more wide-reaching today than they had been in 1919, when the Communist International was founded, and in the few years that followed.

But we still cannot speak of a movement.

Because a movement, despite all its internal contradictions, does have a trajectory. It is clear that the communist parties today do not have a common trajectory that we would expect from a movement.

Then we need to answer the question: Is it possible for communists today to be transformed to an international movement?

The “Communist Party” can be defined by its will and determination to lead humanity to a society free from classes and exploitation. While preserving the originality and richness of its components, a sum that is not characterized by this will and determination in its entire fabric cannot turn into a “world communist movement”.

This should not be taken as a criticism or a polemic, but as an objective assessment of the situation.

The struggle for democracy or peace, and being at the forefront of such a struggle, cannot replace the historical mission of communist parties. Similarly, while the struggle against US imperialism is an indispensable task for communist parties, it is not a distinctive feature for them.

We can benefit from the testimony of history to better understand what we mean.

We know that between 1933 and 1945, the world communist movement focused predominantly on the struggle against fascism, while other missions and goals were relegated to the background. But we still use the term “world communist movement” for that period. While explaining this with the existence of the USSR, what we should not forget is the fact that even during this period, the USSR maintained the central perspective of “a struggle for a world free from classes and exploitation”, and despite some mistakes, they kept their efforts in the name of seizing the opportunities that arose for a forward leap of the world revolutionary process.

If the Communist International could be reduced exclusively to the Popular Front politics, we could very well say that in the historical context the world communist movement was in decline starting from the 1930s.

It should be clear that this approach has nothing to do with denigrating the struggle against fascism or other similar tasks. It is only to remind us that the definition of the “world communist movement” requires a common trajectory in line with the historical mission of communism.

In fact, what we need to focus on is how to reach a moment in which this historical mission comes to the fore again, becoming a center of gravity that influences and shapes each of the communist parties with different paths and agendas.

It is obvious that for communism to reach such a level of influence and gravity in the international arena, there certainly is the matter of objective conditions. However, it would be a grave mistake to attribute the leap of the communist movement to some favorable conjuncture that will show up at some unknown moment, especially at our times when capitalism is facing an insurmountable economic, political and ideological deadlock in each and every country. Under the conditions where the rule of capital is tumbling from crisis to crisis and is unable to offer any hopes to humanity, even false hopes, it should be self-evident that communists need to prioritize the analysis of the subjective factor instead of complaining about those conditions.

We need to make bold debates.

The world revolutionary process had begun to have the necessary theoretical and political references for the difficult struggles ahead, following the few decades after the Manifesto of the Communist Party was penned with an unparalleled phrasing. Divergence and convergence always demand references. By the turn of the 20th century, Marxism had become the main reference for the working class movement, prevailing over its rival, anarchism. However, it did not take long for the Marxist movement to disintegrate. It was a split that even those who argued that “unity” was in any case something good considered as inevitable and necessary. Marxists had roughly taken two different courses, revolutionaries and reformists.

Over time it became clear that there could be no reformist interpretation of Marxism. Social democracy abandoned the revolutionary ranks, inflicting on the working class the worst betrayal in its history.

This also meant the launch of a period in which revolutionaries in the world, who now preferred the name “communist”, renewed and strengthened their references. The 21 conditions for joining the 1919-founded Communist International, could well be seen as the sharpest expression of these references.

As of 1924, when the revolutionary wave in the world retreated, a certain erosion in these theoretical and political references was inevitable. German fascism, and later on the Second World War accelerated this erosion.

In fact, the period between 1924 and 1945, contrary to the founding philosophy of the Comintern, confronted each of the young communist parties with their own realities and, in addition to that, imposed different responsibilities on each of them in terms of the general interests of the world revolutionary process.

Despite all these, the existence of the October Revolution and its most precious outcome, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as well as the will to establish socialism in those years, strengthened by the transition to a planned economy, industrialization and collectivization in agriculture, provided an immensely valuable historical framework for communist parties. Such will not only prevented deviations, but also served as the necessary ground for leaps forward. The defeat of fascism and the strengthening of socialism following the Second World War reinforced this.

However, the world communist movement was facing very serious internal problems that undermined the integrity it was able to preserve thanks to the prestige of the Soviet Union.

References waned, and “reformist Marxism”, which in some respects was assumed to have been abandoned, made itself vocal again.

The speech of Khrushchev, the then General Secretary of the CPSU, at the closing of the 20th Congress in 1956, cut the last strands anchoring the world communist movement in the safe harbors and, even more importantly, smashed down the optimism that prevailed since 1917.

What is interesting is that Khrushchev’s speech, full of distortions, did not lead to a sound debate and an accordingly split in the world communist movement.

However, the communist movement was expected to preserve and update the principles of 1919 and tie itself to more consolidated theoretical and political references. Instead, what has emerged is a disarray in which a large number of parties with no common ground had their individual relationship in their own way with the Soviet Union, which remained as the most important achievement of the world revolution.

The conflict between the People’s Republic of China and the USSR, which ended up in a violent split, also did not give way to a healthy partition. In the period that followed this split, the gap between the parties that maintained close relations with the CPSU continued to widen. As some of the ruling parties in the People’s Republics in Eastern and Central Europe tried to overcome their shortcomings during the period between 1944 and 1949 by ideological hybridization, the internal correlation of forces within the world communist movement became even more complicated. But the problem was much greater. For example, friendship with the Soviet Union was almost the only commonality between the Communist Party of Cuba -which in the 1960s brought a new dynamism to the communist movement not only on the small island where it came to power, but also throughout the Latin America and the world-, and some other parties that turned their faces to Euro-Communism. In the end, until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, no debate or split was realized that would push the world communist movement forward.

After 1991, neither the CPSU which held many, if not all, parties close to itself existed, nor was there an axis according to which the communist parties could adjust themselves.

By the very meaningful efforts by some parties, notably the Communist Party of Greece, it became a priority task to gather together whatever was left in the name of communism. The Communist and Workers’ Parties convened 22 times. This in itself has been extremely important. However, this period did not serve for the communist movement to rebuild its own references in the way it needed to.

And eventually, the view that the communist parties don’t actually need theoretical and political references, began to consolidate.

Today, we do not have a functional mechanism to examine the fundamental differences that can be observed when we look at not only the Solidnet member parties that participate in the International Meetings of Communist and Workers’ Parties, but all the parties that identify themselves as communist.

It would be a big mistake to rationalize this lack of communication by hiding behind the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, despite being a principle we think must strictly be preserved in the period ahead.

In the final analysis, the world revolutionary process is a whole, and how each party identifying itself as communist relates to that process does concern all the other actors that are part of that process.

This article can be regarded as a modest way of thinking aloud on the different forms the relationships between communist parties should take under the given circumstances.

It is worth emphasizing at this moment what we can say at the end. Despite the undeniable and wide divergences among the communist parties today, there is no ground for a healthy partition or split.

We need to organize a debate, a really bold debate.

This should not be understood as an appeal for the communist parties to engage in an ideological showdown within and between themselves. The extent of the decay of capitalism confronts the communist parties with the task of channeling a real alternative as soon as possible. At this moment, we cannot limit ourselves with an academic, theoretical debate. [emphasis added].

What we need is the following: Establishing a clarification of the theoretical and political points of references from which each communist party acts. There is no sense in considering this as an internal problem of each party. Interaction is one of the most important privileges of a universal movement like Marxism.

Unfortunately, we are not passing through a healthy period for communist parties to listen to and understand each other.

What we need is for everyone to contribute to creating real grounds for discussion without labeling any other party.

Even if there are enough facts to label a party, the need to refrain from doing so is not a matter of political courtesy but is totally related to the particular conditions of today.

The process in which communist parties lost their points of reference has spanned almost over 70 years. The problem is too deep to be surpassed by premature attempts at splits or separations.

Undoubtedly, parties that have similar positions or those that consider forming strategic partnerships can and should establish bilateral, multiple, regional or international platforms to reinforce this. But the reality is that their contribution to the formation of these points references will be limited.

The organization of a healthy debate requires staying away from resorting to epithets such as reformist, sectarian, adventurist, or opportunist. As said above, political courtesy is not the decisive factor here. Indeed, in the past, much harsher and hurtful epithets have been used by Marxists. But each of these former conflicts matured over the points of references that were thought to exist and shared among them.

I suppose the point where we need to clarify what we understand by the word “reference”, is now reached.

We are talking about historical, theoretical and moral points of departure that have flourished in the bosom of Marxism and have been internationally endorsed.

For example, before the Second International was stained with the shame of 1914, categorically opposing imperialist war was a principled position that was unanimously endorsed. This principle was the outcome of Marxism acting upon common references, despite the differences on the issue were not yet fully crystallized by then.

Another well-known principle, not participating in bourgeois governments, was also stemming from the same references.

Such examples can be multiplied. What we need to keep in mind is that, what lies at the root of the conflicts and partitions among Marxists in the first quarter of the 20th century are these former common references.

This commonality was the reason behind Lenin blaming Kautsky and others as “renegades”.

As I have underlined above, the Third International developed codes that turned into new sources of reference for the communist movement after the deepening differences in 1914 that led to a split. While some parties were not brave enough to openly declare their distance to these references, some other parties sincerely advocated for and followed them. In any case, the world communist movement has moved within a theoretical and political framework.

I mentioned above that these references already began to lose their influence long before 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved, and besides, it is impossible today to establish a new framework that would be endorsed by all.

However, it is obvious that there will be grave consequences for the communist parties to act on a ground whose historical, theoretical and political boundaries are completely lost.

Debate and communication here should serve to establish a clarity on the set of principles that are binding for communist parties, without conceding to this lack of references.

Divergence (if it is inevitable) will serve for advancement only when it is the outcome of such a process.

It is of course possible and necessary in this process, despite all differences, to develop common positions and actions on international issues, such as war and peace, or the fight against racism, fascism and anti-communism. If we do not ignore and trivialize the differences, the positions taken can become more real and the joint actions more powerful.

The aim is certainly not division. The aim should be to help the communist movement, which claims to be the vanguard of the uneven and combined world revolutionary process, transform into a joint movement above and beyond the single elements.

What we mean by a joint movement is not of course to form a template not taking into account the particularities of struggles going on in different countries. On the other hand, we would all need to be preoccupied with the reason why the dichotomy of “internal issues” and “international relations” has turned into a comfort zone as never before in our 170-year-long history.

Debate, interaction and communication are important because of all these.

But how, and on what shall we debate?
At this point, there should be no room for “taboos” or untouched areas.

Of course, we will need to start from our own histories. TKP courageously made efforts to analyze a very critical turning point for itself, which is the complicated problem that arose right after its foundation, and included the murder of almost all of its founding leaders.

Relations with the Kemalist movement, which had an alliance with Soviet Russia yielding very important, albeit temporary outcomes, and the approach to the bourgeois revolution that led to the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, were among fundamental problems for TKP, which also had an impact in the following years. Our study on the history of the Party, whose first two volumes were published on the centenary of our foundation, proved that we can address such problems with a revolutionary responsibility.

We are trying to express the same courageous attitude in the face of breaks, splits, and liquidations in the history of TKP, and we are bearing the costs of an honest analysis of the party’s political and ideological preferences.

The issues we are discussing do not only concern Turkey. TKP’s struggle was never in an isolated country since its foundation in 1920. When we examine our entire history, we can see that the ground on which our party struggled interacted with Russia, Greece, Iran, India (and Pakistan), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria, Germany, Cyprus, Iraq, Syria and many other countries.

Beyond this, we cannot speak of the international influence of the class struggle in Turkey as if it is concerning only TKP. In this sense, TKP will never resort to the simplistic approach of “We are the owners of our problems” and take seriously any criticism, suggestion or evaluation that is elaborate and respectful.

TKP also conducts debates and studies within itself on the not-widely-discussed issues pertaining to the history of the communist movement, yet without jumping to conclusions or attaching labels. It is not favorable for communist parties to remain silent on many issues, including the 7th Congress of the Comintern, the Popular Front policies, the Spanish Civil War, or Euro- communism, and to leave the field open to anti-communists and the “new left”.

There is no issue to be brushed aside for those who witnessed the tragic collapse of the Soviet Union. For us, the idea that discussing certain issues would threaten the values that link us to our own past, is unfounded. What really threatens our values is today’s lack of reference. If we can prevent some issues from turning into a taboo, we will clearly see that the common history of the communist movement is much richer than assumed. [emphasis added].

The best example of what kind of adversities can arise when we move away from a healthy process of debate and evaluation, is the Stalin era, which after 1956, was turned into an obscured theme and eventually a taboo, and then into an object of either slander or glorification. It should not be forgotten that the years under Stalin’s leadership can turn into the most illustrative and honorable chapter of the world communist movement, when the fanaticism is left behind.

Communists should have no reservations about discussing any theme pertaining to the history of class struggles. However, more sophisticated mechanisms of debate are necessary if we are not to allow our discussions to be inhibited by our respect for the preferences of the communist parties struggling in each country.

It is worth elaborating a little more on the idea that the debates should not involve stigmatization. It is obvious that a communist party can label another, either explicitly or implicitly. Of course, we cannot consider all these as groundless. Today, it is no secret that there are some communist parties acquiring social democratic character. Identifying some parties that are practically and politically non-existent as “sloganist” or “sectarian” can also be taken as justified. However, we can observe that these labels do not serve the interaction and debate that we need most at the moment.

We already mentioned that common references in the international arena are lacking. Yet, another truth is that many parties bear within themselves the potential to change. We can characterize this change as positive or negative in each case. Nevertheless, we can also see that the aftershocks of the great earthquake which hit all communist parties in the second half of the 1980s still continue, and that many parties have not stabilized ideologically and politically.

It would be wrong to attribute a negative meaning to these pains of change, which sometimes lead to breaks and splits. What is wrong is actually that these internal conflicts often do not coincide with a tangible and perceivable process of debate or partition. The lack of “debate” among communist parties does play a role in this viciousness.

In this sense, we can argue that problems are caused by devaluation or denigration attempts disguised by politeness, rather than open accusations.

It is inevitable that relations will become unhealthier in the lack of a real platform of debate.

Until now, we elaborated on the consequences of the lack of theoretical and political references. Another problem arises in the criteria for evaluating communist parties. While evaluating a communist party, we pay attention to its program, ideology, organizational status, actions, its influence in the society, electoral performance, publications, and cadre standards. Some of these are purely qualitative, yet others can be measured quantitatively. However, leaving aside its ideological preferences, and not taking into account easy-put labels such as “reformist”, “sectarian”, “adventurous”, etc., we can judge a political party only by questioning if it is influential or not.

In this context, it is clear that the distinction of “big party-small party” is not a “revolutionary” criterion. In particular, there is no point in evaluating the magnitude of a party based primarily on electoral results.

There is no need to remind that we are making this emphasis not on behalf of a party lacking a parliamentary victory so far, but on the basis of the tradition that has been shaped since the beginning of the 20th century.

Since equality among communist parties is one of the most important and universally advocated principles, it is worth putting more emphasis on it.

The classification of “big party-small party” does not serve to encourage parties for advancement. But a real debate is absolutely beneficial. Today, any communist living in any country has the right, and the duty, to wonder how another communist party is reacting to the developments in that country, to ask questions, and to express opinions about it.

Whatever conditions it operates under, whatever opportunities it has, it is always possible for a communist party to act more, better and more revolutionary than before. So, the principles of mutual respect and non- interference in internal issues should not nullify critical approaches, and communist parties should not remain in a comfort zone where they are on their own.

Communist parties are not to grade each other, but they follow each other, discuss and look for ways of collaboration. The grounds for this can be created by evaluating communist parties with sound criteria.

Right at this moment it is worth addressing the situation of the communist parties in power today. All these parties are the bearers of immense historical legitimacy. Insofar as “revolution” and “political power” are of
central importance for the communist parties, there is no point in arguing about these parties having a weighted role in the world revolutionary process.

Today, we know that there is a wide range of assessments of the domestic policies of these parties, their ideological and class characters, and the role they play in the international arena. Of course, the historical legitimacy I just mentioned does not automatically create any impunity for criticism. All parties can freely make their own evaluations, given that a certain level of maturity and respect is preserved. It is also inevitable that part of these evaluations could be a bit hurtful. The ruling communist parties, to this or that extent, are also international actors that have influence on the class struggle in other countries.

Is it necessary for these parties to have a particular place among world communist parties, based on the above mentioned extent? We know that some parties struggling in capitalist countries are of this opinion. In some international meetings or bilaterals, we come across some proposals favoring the ruling communist parties to be at the forefront and to have a decisive, or at least a regulatory role.

Much can be said about the role of the CPSU within the international communist movement in the past, positive and negative. But today, the situation is widely different. The Soviet Union, at least until a certain point, tried to relate its own existence and its foreign policy with the world revolutionary process, even in the most difficult moments. The communist parties in power today clearly do not have such a positioning.

The reasons for this shall be the topic of another debate. In addition, the possibilities and conditions of each of the countries where communist parties are in power are quite different from each other. A totalist judgement has never been appreciated by TKP. Those who are responsible for the socialist struggle not being at an advanced position in capitalist countries are us, and our inadequacies as the communist parties in the capitalist countries.

Moreover, in today’s complex correlation of forces, it is obvious that for the agenda of the communist parties in power, other communist parties do not constitute a priority.

This alone puts the proposals that the ruling communist parties should play a more special role in question.

The outcome of the ruling communist parties today stepping forward in international meetings and in relations between communist parties would be that communist parties would start to analyze class struggles from a geostrategic perspective. Once again, this is not based on our “subjective” opinions about the foreign policy priorities of the ruling communist parties.

Even though we don’t stress it as much, the geostrategic approach would be the most dangerous choice if communist parties are to position themselves within the world revolutionary process. Communist parties shall approach the international arena by trying to harmonize the interests of the revolutionary struggle in their own countries with the general interests of the world revolutionary process.

This harmony might be difficult or even impossible at times. Yet, for communist parties, it is a must to acknowledge the costs of alienation from the goal of revolution in their own countries and create this harmony as sound as possible.

Geostrategy could at best be a complementary analytical element for Marxism. It is not sound to replace the perspective in which concepts such as imperialism, state, revolution and class struggle play a central role, with power struggles that can anytime trivialize these concepts.

And here, another problem needs to be brought forward.

Soviet Russia and later the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics exerted a serious ideological and psychological influence “in favor of socialism” on the working people and oppressed nations in the capitalist countries. And this was achieved even during the most challenging moments for the Soviet Union. This was achieved because hundreds of millions of people in the rest of the world felt that in the USSR the struggle for the “construction of an egalitarian society” continued.

Over time this influence waned. The Soviet Union disintegrated. This article is composed of reflections expressed aloud and pays attention to not highlighting negative examples. But I feel the need to move on with a positive example. We need to think about why Cuba, despite all the extraordinarily difficult circumstances in which the country finds itself, can still be a center of attraction for people in search of “another world”. This is possible because the Cuban Revolution, despite a series of setbacks, continues to defend a strong value system. [emphasis added].

The boundlessly implemented realpolitik, which is the inevitable result of geostrategic thinking, may excite some strategists, intellectuals and politicians, but it does not serve as a center of attraction for the working masses.

Communist parties are obliged to turn both the ideal of an egalitarian society and a value system compatible with this ideal into their banner. Even today’s indisputable and pervasive task of defeating or pushing back the U.S. imperialism, should not become a pretext to overshadow this ideal and value system.

The ruling communist parties should maintain their important roles within the family of communist parties with their historical legitimacy and prestige, but calls to give them a decisive role should not be insisted upon. Such insistence, should be kept in mind, could lead to a very harsh break within the communist parties.

After all, the principle of equality and non-interference, which is perhaps the most commonly recognized principle among communist parties today, does not allow for such an internal hierarchy.

Right at this moment, we can be more specific about what we mean by a “real debate”. What is behind the need of not leaving a single point in our own history unilluminated or not honestly assessed is certainly not academic rigor. When we examine carefully, we see that the “identification of the priority tasks” had been at the center of all debates, starting from the 1st International to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It is this simple question that determines the debates and divisions within Marxism.

The priority tasks were once defined as the overthrow of monarchy and feudalism, at other times the expansion of the working class’s right to organize and engage in politics, and in some other cases, the neutralization of the threat of fascism or war.

Now too, communist parties have different views on what is the priority task of the world revolutionary process, of which they constitute elements themselves.

The needs of the world revolutionary process are determining.

Naturally, each communist party evaluates these needs from the point of view of their own country and the interests of the struggle in their own country. The distance between the general needs of the world revolutionary process and the interests within one country is one of the most serious problems that communists have to solve or manage. Sometimes this distance can turn into a conflict. Here, too, the communist parties have a major role to play.

We must admit that today, the differences among the communist parties are yielded by the different responses to the question of what is the priority task of the world revolution.

A very widespread and long-standing approach states that expanding the space for democracy and freedoms is the priority task for the world revolutionary process.

Again, we are more and more hearing descriptions of tasks such as “pushing back the US imperialism” and “repelling the danger of fascism and war”.

It is obvious that these tasks cannot be neglected. However, such definitions of tasks can eventually turn into defending the foreign policy initiatives and moves of this or that country.

It is also a choice to define the urgent task with regards to the interests of the world revolution today as rendering socialism an timely option. This approach, which we also adopt, should be seen as the product of the determination to reject and put an end to the status in which socialism, the only alternative to capitalism, is going through its least influential and assertive moment over a period of 170 years.

Determining the main task on the basis of the timeliness of socialism, and therefore of the revolution, also means eliminating the adversities that can be caused by other approaches that limit or pacify the working class.

Realistically speaking, it is impossible for the working class in its present form to be the main force capable of pushing back US imperialism or neutralizing the threat of fascism and war. For communists to exert weight in these historical tasks, they need to have the will to fulfill their main mission.

The communist movement will have no future by imitating other forces, by fitting into a broader definition of the left. This is not even a kamikaze dive because it will not do any harm to the enemy. It is also not a harakiri because it will not lead to an “honorable” end.

As a growth strategy, the above mentioned priorities will not help the communist movement to flourish and develop.

Of course, we cannot speak of a sincerity test here. History is the fairest judge. But we all know that communism has red lines.

If these lines have become ambiguous, this can be a starting point for us. Without falling into repetition, without exhausting each other with slogans, quotations or parroting.

The great work of Marx and Lenin is in the totality of their thoughts and action. If what defines Marx’s life was his infinite hatred of capitalism, it is revolution and seizing the political power for Lenin.

In the previous years, at every moment when the communist parties forgot about their own raison d’être, they went through some troubles which today can be judged as “mistakes”.

For this reason, if instead of chaotic and unfruitful quarrels, communist parties can contribute to the debates by giving clear responses to how they relate to the world revolutionary process and by demonstrating appropriate ideological and political references, a collectively meaningful outcome will emerge for each of the communist parties. In this way, common positions, joint actions or separations will take place on a much more solid ground.

TKP will make its modest contributions to the international arena with this perspective.

    Kemal Okuyan is the General Secretary, Turkish Communist Party (TKP)

    Ruling class still trembling as ‘Communist Manifesto’ turns 175 / by Tony Pecinovsky

    Artwork and cover of Communist Manifesto by S.A. Geta / Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1986

    “Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of all countries, unite!”

    These words, written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, were first published in The Communist Manifesto on Feb. 21, 1848, 175 years ago.

    Since its publication, the Manifesto has become one of the most widely read and influential books in human history—second to Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of SpeciesIt is considered a World Heritage document by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, which adopted the book in its Memory of the World Register, an initiative designed to “preserve humanities heritage against the ‘ravages of time’ and ‘collective amnesia.’”

    And as for Karl Marx, he’s considered the “most influential philosopher” in human history. His ideas “redefined geopolitics and shook up the world order,” in the words of Oxford philosophy professor Jonny Thomson.

    Around the globe this Feb. 21, as part of #RedBooksDay2023, tens of thousands of people will publicly read The Communist Manifesto—or another Red Book—and engage in discussion and dialogue about capitalism, socialism, and communism.


    In many ways, the Manifesto was a product of its times. Just months before its publication, revolutions had swept through Europe. Ordinary people—the working class—in Italy, France, Germany, Hungary, and elsewhere were rising up. They were demanding democracy and liberation. It was a “springtime of the peoples.”

    Throughout the late-19th and early-20th centuries, the Manifesto inspired countless millions to fight for a classless, egalitarian society free of capitalist exploitation, racism, and war.

    By the early-20th century, socialist and communist parties had been formed around the world. One of those groups, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, known as the Bolsheviks, became the first Communist Party to win state power.

    Marxist and Communist revolutions continued winning victories in the decades ahead. By mid-century, one-third of the world’s people were governed by Communist Parties. Another one-third was in the throes of revolutions for colonial independence and national liberation, often led by Communists.

    Socialism was undeniably on the ascent.

    As Marx and Engels predicted, for a brief moment in world history, the ruling classes did in fact tremble.

    Marxism USA 

    In the United States, the Communist Party USA was born in 1919. In the belly of the capitalist beast, it bravely led struggles for workers’ rights, African American equality, peace, internationalism, and socialism. Often, its members were harassed, beaten, jailed, and deported. Some were murdered.

    The party helped to found and lead countless CIO unions, including the Steelworkers and Autoworkers. It led the charge in defense of the Scottsboro Nine. It built Black Popular Front organizations, such as the National Negro Congress and the Southern Negro Youth Congress.

    It sacrificed during World War II—on and off the battlefields. An estimated 15,000 CPUSA members served in the Armed Forces during the war against fascism, while thousands more helped to win the fight for wartime production on the Homefront.

    After the defeat of fascism, Communists and their allies were once again targeted as the Red Scare and Cold War heated up. Hundreds of Communists were thrown in jail for teaching and advocating Marxism-Leninism. Thousands more were harassed, intimidated, followed by the FBI, and, again, deported.

    Yet, like Communists everywhere, they persevered. Throughout the 1950s, Communist-led groups, such as the Civil Rights Congress, the Council on African Affairs, the International Workers Order, the National Negro Labor Council, and the Jefferson School of Social Science, among others, continued to advocate for African American equality, Black liberation, immigrant rights, workers’ rights, peace, and socialism.


    After the worst civil liberties abuses of the McCarthy period, by the early-1960s Communists decided to focus their energy on youth and students. They embarked on a wildly successful series of college and university speaking tours. In collaboration with campus groups—and various free speech movements—they challenged the intellectual straitjacket of anti-communism. By 1964, the W.E.B. Du Bois Clubs were formed, which helped to lead many of the most important fights for civil rights, peace, and free speech—on and off campuses.

    Communists also helped to lead and initiate many of the most important campaigns in the fight for peace during the U.S. war in Vietnam. Marxist historian Herbert Aptheker led a delegation to Hanoi in 1965. Considered the “most dangerous Communist in the United States” by J. Edgar Hoover, Aptheker returned to tens of thousands of students packed into college and university auditoriums to hear his first-hand accounts.

    Other Communists, two of the Fort Hood Three, became the first G.I.’s to refuse to deploy to Vietnam and thereby helped spark the genesis of the anti-war movement within the military.

    Just a few years later, the worldwide campaign to free Communist Angela Davis emerged, bringing international attention to a racist political frame-up. With the aid of world socialism, Davis was freed and later the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression was born.

    The reddest of Red Books 

    It is exactly this history and internationalism that organizers have in mind this Feb. 21, international #RedBooksDay2023, a day to commemorate and celebrate The Communist Manifesto and the contributions of Communists to the struggle for democracy.

    Started on Feb. 21, 2020, #RedBooksDay was initiated by LeftWord Books and the Indian Society of Left Publishers. During the first #RedBooksDay, 30,000 people from South Korea to Venezuela collectively, publicly read the Manifesto.

    The largest number of readers of the Manifesto was in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where the publishing house Bharathi Puthakalayam and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) read to 10,000 people. The Manifesto was also read in Brazil, Cuba, South Africa, and Lebanon, among other places.

    After this initial success, the Indian Society of Left Publishers formed the International Union of Left Publishers (IULP), which International Publishers is a part of. Since its founding, the IULP has produced several joint books. This year’s book will be a collection of the writings of Ruth First, a leader of the South African Communist Party brutally murdered by the apartheid regime.

    #RedBooksDay2023 is an initiative of the IULP, but organizers hope it will become part of a broader global calendar of annual cultural events. Check out for more details.

    The Michigan Communist Party, in collaboration with Nox Library, held a #RedBooksDay event this past weekend. Let People’s World know what events you have planned.

    Organizers are encouraging activists to read any Red Book in public or online.

    What Red Book will you read this year?

    People’s World has an enormous challenge ahead of it—to raise $200,000 from readers and supporters in 2023, including $125,000 during the Fund Drive, which runs from Feb. 1 to May 1.

    Please donate to help People’s World reach our $200,000 goal. We appreciate whatever you can donate: $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or more.

    Tony Pecinovsky is the author of “Let Them Tremble: Biographical Interventions Marking 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA” and author/editor of “Faith In The Masses: Essays Celebrating 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA.” His forthcoming book is titled “The Cancer of Colonialism: W. Alphaeus Hunton, Black Liberation, and the Daily Worker, 1944-1946.” Pecinovsky has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Book TV” and speaks regularly on college and university campuses across the country.

    People’s World, February 21, 2023

    Henry Winston, Communist and Black Liberation leader / by Charlene Mitchell

    Communist Party USA Chairman Henry Winston. | CPUSA Archives / Tamiment Library NYU

    The following article originally appeared in Political Affairs in 2012. It is based on remarks delivered by the late Charlene Mitchell at an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Henry Winston, a leader of the Communist and Black Liberation movements who died in 1986. Charlene Mitchell was a long-time labor and political activist; the first Black woman candidate for President of the United States, running for the CPUSA in 1968; and a founder of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

    I count myself as among the lucky ones who had the privilege of working with Henry Winston over a number of years and in a number of struggles. Karl Marx wrote that: “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.” Henry Winston made history, but his contribution to history was not based on his unique genius, although he was a genius. The history he made was grounded in the world he lived in.

    Growing up in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Kansas City, he experienced first-hand the brutal oppression of the African American people and the callous exploitation of the working class. In Hattiesburg, in the early 1900s, more than one-half of the town was African American, yet only one percent of them were registered to vote due to the disenfranchisement of the African American people in the South.

    Communist Party leaders Henry Winston, right, with Gus Hall at the Federal building in New York City, Oct. 13, 1949, to hear the final arguments in their nine-month Smith Act trial. | AP

    His father was a laborer in a local sawmill, who struggled to feed, clothe, and house his young family on the meager wages of the mill. Thus, from birth, Winston’s life was intertwined with the two social forces that would mark his future life—he was a member of the working class, viciously exploited by the capitalist system, and he was an African American, subjected to the base degradations of national oppression.

    As a fighter, Winston grew to adulthood organizing against these twin forms of oppression. He was a leader of the Young Communist League, the Unemployed Councils, and the
    Scottsboro Defense Committee. In the midst of these struggles, he honed the theoretical and organizational abilities that would serve him so well later as a leading member of the Communist Party USA.

    Many of Winston’s most lasting theoretical contributions are in the areas of the anti-colonial and independence struggles of Africa and the movement for African American equality. Although his personal life experiences certainly gave him important insights into these issues, it was not a sense of nationalism that drove his analysis. Instead, it was a firm belief in the future of socialism and the historic role of the working class in bringing about that future. Winston was fully aware of Lenin’s admonition that Marxism cannot be mixed with even the most refined forms of nationalism.

    In a 1964 pamphlet entitled Negro Liberation: A Goal for All Americans, Winston referred to the African American question as “the touchstone in the struggle for democracy in this country,” adding that “the achievement of equality for the Negro people is the key in the struggle to defend and extend democracy for all.”

    Winston was an advocate of the centrality of the struggle for African American equality. He understood that the fight against African American oppression was “central” to the unity of the working class. He understood that this “centrality” could not be posed against the class struggle—as some social democrats attempted to do by insisting that only
    the class struggle is “central.”

    Instead, Winston understood the interconnection between the class struggle and the struggle against national oppression. He also understood that no movement would lead the U.S. working class toward the fundamental transformation of this system without a correct understanding of the centrality of the fight against African American oppression. The white sector of the U.S. working class will never break with bourgeois ideology without cleansing itself of the odious ideology of racial superiority—in whatever form it takes.

    Henry Winston with Angela Davis and Oliver Tambo, president of the African National Congress and leader in the anti-apartheid fight in South Africa. | CPUSA Archives

    These ideas, the struggle for a correct line in the African American and African support movement, are the centerpiece of Winston’s book, Strategy for a Black Agenda. In that work, which was a major intervention in the ideological struggle within the African American movement and among those in solidarity with African liberation and independence, Winston pulled the covers off of the Maoists, who under the guise of “anti-revisionism” sided with the imperialists in the struggle for the liberation of Angola.

    More importantly, Winston’s analysis demonstrated that these positions were not merely mistakes or errors in judgment by the Maoists, but were the logical outcome of an anti-Leninist, anti-working class philosophy.

    In that book and in his Class, Race, and Black Liberation, Winston also dissected the then-current Pan-Africanist movement. He demonstrated that the nationalism and lack of anti-imperialist grounding in that movement reflected that it owed more of an intellectual debt to George Padmore and Marcus Garvey than to DuBois’ conception of Pan-Africanism.

    He noted that they were quick to base their analysis on Dubois’ famous quote that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.” However, Winston added, “Dubois said it was the problem, Dubois did not say it was the solution.” Winston went on to write, “As Lenin demonstrated, the solution lies in a strategy to overcome the disunity of the oppressed and exploited at the line of differences in color and nationality.”

    Henry Winston with Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban Revolution, 1970s. | CPUSA Archives / Tamiment Library NYU

    Comrade Winston’s leadership on these issues was not limited to the theoretical sphere. He played an active role in guiding mass movements in these areas. Winston was the organizational brains behind the formation of NAIMSAL, the National Anti-Imperialist Movement in Solidarity with African Liberation.

    Under his guidance, and through his connections with African leaders throughout the continent, NAIMSAL succeeded in injecting a consistent anti-imperialist content into the then-developing movements in solidarity with African liberation. NAIMSAL was one of the first organizations in this country to campaign for the freedom of Nelson Mandela and, with the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR), launched a ,,petition drive that helped make Mandela’s freedom a national issue.

    Much of NAIMSAL’s work laid the basis for the larger African liberation support movement that
    developed in the 1980s.

    And under Winston’s guidance, the Communist Party helped build the largest political defense movement this country had seen since the Scottsboro defendants of the ’30s. I can still remember receiving a call from my brother, Franklin Alexander, in the summer of 1970 informing me that Angela Davis was facing arrest on trumped-up charges stemming from a shootout at a courthouse in San Rafael, Calif.

    I immediately went to discuss this development with Winston and Gus Hall. Both had no hesitation in throwing the weight of the entire party behind the movement to defend Angela, and both immediately saw this threat as an attack against the Communist Party, the African American movement, and the entire progressive movement.

    Winston, especially, demonstrated a particular sensitivity to the role of gender. It was an advanced attitude I had seen displayed by him over the years. In his work in defense of Angela, he consistently expressed the importance of the role of women in the movement’s leadership and in the broader society. This may have partially been due to the influence of Claudia Jones, one of his closest comrades from the “old days” and at one time chair of the Communist Party’s Women’s Commission.

    With Winston’s assistance, we rallied the Communist Party to build an international movement demanding the release of Angela and all political prisoners. This movement, more than any other single motion, helped rebuild the CPUSA’s image in the African American community and in the broad left. There are still many activists around who “cut their political teeth” in that movement. And in the process of building that movement, the party made many valuable contacts with activists across the country. It was this movement that positioned us to launch the NAARPR.

    In Winston’s last years, he had developed a particular concern for the plight of African American youth. He recognized that the general crisis of capitalism and the national oppression of the African American people were combining to stigmatize African American youth as, in Winston’s words, “social pariahs.” Decades later, we see Winston’s concerns manifested in astronomical youth unemployment rates, collapsing public education, and mass incarceration as a method of control of African American youth.

    Yet Winston was full of optimism about the long-range future.

    Charlene Mitchell applauds as Henry Winston delivers a speech. | CPUSA Archives / Tamiment Library NYU

    In a 1951 pamphlet, entitled What It Means to be a Communist, Winston wrote: “Those who see only backwardness, immobility, and disunity in the working class, are bound to ignore the essential truth that it is the working class that possesses all the necessary qualities to bring about the transformation of society, and build socialism.” The working class and its allies are the only force that can bring about the fundamental transformation of this society.

    It’s important that we honor the life and legacy of Henry Winston. But we must also recognize that Henry Winston was not a great man in spite of being a Marxist-Leninist. He became a great man because he was a Marxist-Leninist. He was not a great man in spite of being a member of the Communist Party. He became a great man because he was a member of the Communist Party.

    Nothing in his contributions makes sense if separated from the Communist Party and its ideology. And yet, his legacy belongs not just to the Marxist-Leninists or to the Communist Party.

    His legacy belongs to the African American people, to the working class, and to the oppressed people all across this world, who all strive for a better society and a better future.

    People’s World has an enormous challenge ahead of it—to raise $200,000 from readers and supporters in 2023, including $125,000 during the Fund Drive, which runs from Feb. 1 to May 1.

    Please donate to help People’s World reach our $200,000 goal. We appreciate whatever you can donate: $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or more.

    Charlene Alexander Mitchell was born in 1930 in Cincinnati and moved as a child to Chicago where she grew up in the Cabrini-Green public housing project. In 1968 Mitchell made history as the CP’s presidential standard-bearer, becoming the first African American woman to run for the Oval Office. Her long career of unrelenting activism and persistence is most famously illustrated in the success of the campaign to free Angela Davis. In her solidarity visits, she met with CPUSA leader Claudia Jones who had been deported to England, Joseph Dadoo of the African National Congress, and other international leaders. In 1994 she served as an official observer of the first democratic elections in post-apartheid South Africa and was an observer at the congress of the South African Communist Party that year. She went to Cuba for rehabilitation medical treatment following a stroke suffered in 2007. Charlene Mitchell joined the Communist Party USA at 16 emerging as one of the most influential leaders in the party from the late 1950s to the 1980s. She later joined the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. Mitchell died in New York City’s Amsterdam Nursing Home on December 14, 2022, at the age of 92.

    People’s World, February 22, 2023

    Alain Badiou Is the World’s Leading Philosopher of Communism / by Caitlyn Lesiuk

    Alain Badiou speaking on May 5, 2016. (Wassilios Aswestopoulos / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

    Originally published in Jacobin on Febraury 18, 2023

    While many radicals of the 1968 generation shifted to the right, French philosopher Alain Badiou maintained fidelity to the revolutionary communist project.

    For leftists today, it’s common to regard the idea of communism with skepticism, or to view events like the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Paris Commune as failures. For French philosopher Alain Badiou, however, the fact that these moments of revolutionary upheaval did not absolutely overturn the status quo is no reason to discard them — or, for that matter, the idea of communism.

    Badiou likens the communist project to a theory that mathematician Pierre de Fermat first proposed in the seventeenth century. In 1994, after three hundred years of failed attempts, English mathematician Andrew Wiles finally substantiated Fermat’s “Last Theorem.” For Badiou, the example is instructive: the communist hypothesis is true, even if it remains to be proved. “Failure is nothing more than the history of the proof of the hypothesis,” he writes, “provided that the hypothesis is not abandoned.”

    It’s this lifelong commitment to radical philosophy that marks Badiou out among intellectuals of his generation. In his youth, he interviewed philosophers such as Michel Foucault, Jean Hyppolite, and Georges Canguilhem for a TV show L’Enseignement philosophique. Today, at eighty-five years of age, Badiou continues to interrogate the relationship between politics and philosophy with his monthly seminar series, which begun in 2021, titled “How to live and think in a time of absolute disorientation?”

    Nevertheless, the Anglophone left has been slow to engage with Badiou’s thought, perhaps due to the demands he places on readers. But this is to overlook a philosopher who insists on reviving the idea of communism against the many who have “cheapened” it or who would rather communism be “sentenced to death.” Indeed, Badiou offers an example of what it is to live one’s politics in the most radical sense. He thinks and writes in the spirit of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Mao Zedong, and his chief contribution is a philosophy that defends the core tenets of revolutionary Marxism with unrivaled rigor.

    Who Is Alain Badiou?

    Badiou grew up in Morocco under French colonial occupation, a childhood that left him keenly aware of class inequality. In the 2018 documentary “Badiou,” he recalls noticing that white colonial women occupied the upper rooms of his family’s house, while the Arabic women who largely raised him lived below and worked in the kitchen.

    A gifted student, when Badiou was nineteen, he enrolled at the École Normale Supérieure where he was taught by the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser. At the time, Althusser criticized Badiou’s approach to philosophy for what he called “Pythagorism,” that is, an overindulgence in mathematics. Readers of Badiou, however, will agree that this is a warning he didn’t heed. As Badiou later reflected, “as so often happens to the Master’s injunctions when the disciple is stubborn, I simply went on to make things worse for myself.”

    After graduating, Badiou first became a high school teacher and later a lecturer in Reims, where he took part in the student and worker uprising of May 1968. Reflecting on this period, Badiou explains that it “breaks my life in two parts,” forming the impetus behind much of his later work.

    When Badiou’s university in Reims joined the 1968 general strike, he marched alongside his students to the gates of the Chausson automotive factory, the largest local workplace to down tools. However, neither Badiou nor his students had a clear idea of what they would do when they arrived. Later, he reflected on the initial uncertainty that characterized the meeting between radical students and factory workers:

    We approached the barricaded factory, which was decked with red flags, with a line of trade unionists standing outside the gates, which had been welded shut. They looked at us with mingled hostility and suspicion. A few young workers came up to us, and then more and more of them. Informal discussions got under way. A sort of local fusion was taking place. We agreed to get together to organize joint meetings in town.

    Prior to this uprising, there had been little dialogue in France between working-class people and students because union representatives generally served as mediators between the two. The protests, however, created a newfound possibility for communication and collective action. Indeed, as Badiou recounted, factory-gate discussions like the one he and his students had initiated “would have been completely improbable, even unimaginable, a week earlier.”

    Like the Paris Commune and the Cultural Revolution, this moment of resistance ultimately died down. Yet, Badiou insists that we must not consider it a failure. The lesson of 1968 is that there is a common politics that can unite student and working-class radicals and actualize the potential of joint resistance. As he would put it, we are “still contemporaries” of 1968, and indeed, the event had such an impact on Badiou that for the subsequent decade, he entered into a period of “no philosophy,” and instead dedicated himself to political action.

    Rather than distance himself from the academic world, Badiou sought to bring political militancy to bear on it. So, he took a teaching position at Paris 8 University Vincennes-Saint-Denis, which was founded in response to May 1968 and counted a number of radicals among its staff, such as philosopher Gilles Deleuze. While at the university, Badiou led several unorthodox protests aimed at countering ideas he regarded as conservative or elitist.

    “I myself once led a ‘brigade,’” Badiou recounts, “to intervene in his [Deleuze’s] seminar.” This was not lost on Deleuze’s students, one of whom later recalled Badiou’s pupils “turning up with copies of Nietzsche and asking trick questions to try and catch [Deleuze] out.” Alternately, Badiou invoked the “people’s rule,” calling on students to leave Deleuze’s class in favor of a political protest or meeting. On these occasions, Deleuze would signal his resignation by raising his hat — a white flag of surrender — and placing it back on his head.

    As Badiou explains in his monograph Deleuze: The Clamor of Being, he was concerned with the political import of Deleuze’s philosophy. Today, his methods of intervention have changed and he reflects on these youthful protests humorously. However, Badiou’s sentiment remains unchanged: one must be vigilant in thinking through the political implications of any given philosophical system taken to its limits.

    In the Name of Truth

    Badiou is a prolific writer, and in addition to many philosophical treatises, he has published plays, novels, and translations. He has also remained engaged with live political debates, publishing commentaries on the election of Donald Trump and the Yellow Vests movement, for example. However, the centerpiece of Badiou’s oeuvre is the Being and Event trilogy in which he pursues the main goal of his philosophy: to develop a theory of truths.

    As Badiou notes, this project clashes with contemporary academic fashion, which frequently considers it gauche to speak earnestly of “truth.” Against this, Badiou argues that there are such things as truths — and they run contrary to the two dominant characterizations common to our times.

    On the one hand, it is conventional to think of truths as relative, that is, as only being true within particular contexts and for certain communities, but not others. On the other, we might favor a notion of truth as singular or legislative. This approach upholds the idea that there is only one truth to which everyone must submit. The former, relative approach to truth, is common coin in undergraduate social or cultural studies programs, and is often associated with the liberal left. The latter, by contrast, is more commonly favored by those working in the hard sciences, or by certain religious or political movements that propose one spiritual truth or one national identity.

    Both understandings of truth present problems. If truths are relative, we sacrifice any idea of universal truth, and are therefore forced to deny that we are united by shared ideas. Consequently, we have nothing but our differences. Conversely, if truths are universal, the challenge is to give an account for how they can be true for radically different peoples and contexts. And we must do this without inadvertently legitimating structures of oppression — like colonialism — that historically have used the language of universal truth to justify their violence.

    Badiou’s theory of truths attempts to resolve this tension by establishing truths as both universally applicable and particular to the local situation. Truths emerge in historically determinate events while also ringing true in times, geographical locations, and cultures outside the place of their emergence.

    Importantly, truths shape and constitute the possibility of philosophy itself. Badiou insists that philosophy does not itself produce truths but must think through truths as they appear in art, science, love, and politics, which he terms the four “conditions.” Here we encounter one particularly valuable feature of Badiou’s schema vis-à-vis politics. By insisting that philosophy does not produce political truths, he ensures that philosophy doesn’t attempt to determine politics. Instead, by arguing that philosophy should be determined by politics, he attempts to maintain the potential for political thought as such.

    What’s crucial for Badiou is that we learn to think in ways that do not follow from the existing situation of capitalist oppression. The fact that there is no clear example of a perfectly realized emancipatory politics makes this harder — but it doesn’t mean that the task Badiou sets us is impossible. However, the politics that we begin to construct cannot be based on pure conjecture, otherwise we are bound to fall into abstraction or tend toward fascism.

    This is where philosophy can help us develop political alternatives, but only provided we maintain fidelity to a revolutionary sequence — such as 1968 — set in motion by real political events. In short, Badiou suggests that we avoid the twin dangers of relativism and abstraction by insisting that philosophy must follow from politics, as thought in action.

    The Mathematics of Resistance

    If Althusser was taken aback by Badiou’s emphasis on mathematics, what are we to make of it? Historically, it’s not uncommon for philosophers and theologians to attempt to think through mathematical problems like the nature of the infinite. However, the connection between mathematics and Marxist political action might seem obscure.

    While Badiou does offer a philosophical argument that reconciles mathematics and politics, he’s clear that it’s not just a scholarly question. He points out that historically, many mathematicians have upheld fervent political convictions, and that their discipline has drawn them toward political life, not away from it. As an example, he points toward his father Raymond Badiou, a mathematician and enthusiastic member of the resistance against the Nazi occupation of France.

    Badiou also writes about the more widely known mathematicians Albert Lautman and Jean Cavaillès, who were both killed for their anti-Nazi activism. For example, in 1942, disguised in nothing more than a boiler suit, Cavaillès broke into a German submarine base in Lorient. Although French police arrested and interned him, Cavaillès escaped later that year. In 1944, German counterintelligence arrested him again before he was eventually shot and buried in a grave marked “Unknown Man No. 5.”

    Both Cavaillès and Badiou’s father explained that their choice to resist oppression was a necessary consequence of the mathematical logic to which they were committed. Indeed, it is worth noting that Cavaillès worked in the field of pure mathematics. He advocated for a methodology that divorced mathematical reflection from any notion of the subject and emphasized the potential internal to mathematics itself.

    This is important for Badiou who, following Plato, argues that mathematics is the first point where logic demands that we break with opinion. He writes, “the essence of politics is not the plurality of opinions. It is the prescription of a possibility in rupture with what exists.”

    The Event

    This is to say, political truths cut through the proliferation of political debates and identities, offering an alternative to the prevailing social structure. Ruptures like these, in Badiou’s theoretical schema, are understood as “events.” An event is inherently challenging because it produces a new truth that goes beyond the geographic and historic conditions that gave rise to it.

    Consequently, the task for radical philosophy is to discern between what is genuinely new and what recapitulates a version of the existing state of affairs under the guise of novelty. For instance, contrast the uprising of 1968 against the 2016 election of Donald Trump. The former created new forms of political action, broadening our horizon of possibility. The latter was a symptom and, ultimately, a repetition of the status quo.

    Badiou’s point is that mathematics can provide us with resources for thinking through an event as it ruptures the dominant political order. Reduced to its simplest form, the question of politics is: How can we imagine and actualize a different situation to the one we are currently in? And from this, a further question flows: How can moments of resistance to oppression come to restructure society, beyond the often brief and chaotic moment of revolt?

    Because mathematics provides a mode of thinking according to axioms, philosophy informed by mathematics allows us to think at the point of what cannot be determined. This helps us answer the question: What do certain decisions allow? And how, by a series of inquiries into the unknown, might we begin to actualize an alternative to oppressive political realities?

    For Badiou, these inquiries help us address all contemporary social and economic threats that result from capitalism by positing a higher, communist truth. Rather than “participate in the festivities of capital or roam aimlessly,” he calls on those with a commitment to philosophy to think the political truth of communism through to its consequences.

    The result will be thought in action and the proof of a communist hypothesis that will have been true since its birth.

    Caitlyn Lesiuk is the convener of the Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy and a PhD candidate at Deakin University, where she teaches philosophy.

    Why and How Class Still Matters / by Nick French

    A custodian working on a stairway at the Zakrzewska Building in Boston, Massachusetts, October 5, 2022. (David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

    Originally published in Jacobin on January 21, 2023

    Review of The Class Matrix: Social Theory After the Cultural Turn by Vivek Chibber (Harvard University Press, 2022)

    It’s fashionable to declare that Marxism doesn’t have much to say about complex, modern societies. But class and the material interests it generates are still the central features of capitalism.

    Though Occupy Wall Street, the Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns, and other developments have brought the themes of class and economic inequality back into public consciousness in recent years, this resurgence has been accompanied by denunciations of Marxism as an outdated framework for social and political analysis. Pundits and politicians warn us of the dangers of focusing too much on class or treating it as in any way “more important” than other social identities or forms of hierarchy.

    These popular refrains echo claims that have become dominant in academic social theory for decades. Where Karl Marx and his followers saw economic forces as central to understanding social stability and conflict, proponents of “the cultural turn” in social theory give pride of place to noneconomic factors. If class is a matter of a person’s location in an economic structure — whether, say, they own means of production or must sell their labor for a living — then class has little predictive power in explaining why people do what they do, culturalists argue. We should look instead to contingent cultural factors: social norms, values, and religious practices.

    It’s easy to see the attraction of these arguments. Despite renewed concern with economic inequality represented by Sanders and related phenomena elsewhere (Corbynism in Britain, Podemos in Spain, La France Insoumise), class-based critiques have failed to capture the support of the working classes on a large scale. The old parties of the Left are in decline, with ever more workers gravitating to the Right. Global politics continues to undergo class dealignment: compared to the early and mid-twentieth century, class is becoming a less and less salient category of political identity and conflict. Partisan divisions are hardening, but no side credibly claims to represent the interests — or can win the loyalty — of workers.

    If class is so important, why do so few people think so? Why, as the chasm of economic inequality widens, aren’t workers rallying around the red flag and trying to overthrow the system?

    In his recent book, The Class Matrix: Social Theory After the Cultural Turn, sociologist Vivek Chibber argues that dismissing the importance of class analysis is a grave error. A proper Marxist understanding of class, he argues, can rise to the challenge of culturalist arguments in social theory. But more than that, Marxism can give us a framework to understand why workers under capitalism will be more likely to acquiesce to the capitalist system than to revolt against it — and can shed light on how to make revolutionary change a reality.

    Economic Structure and Culture

    At the core of Chibber’s argument is an elegant explanation of the relation between the class structure of capitalism and culture. Culturalists argue that all intentional human behavior is mediated by the “interpretive work of human actors,” as social theorist William Sewell puts it. For a social structure — like, say, the capital–wage labor relation — to become effective in motivating behavior, the agents participating in that structure must learn and internalize the appropriate cultural scripts.

    This argument, Chibber writes, suggests that “the very existence of the structure seems to depend on the vagaries of cultural mediation.” If I am a worker, I must learn and internalize the fact that I have to find and keep a job in order to sustain myself, and I must learn and internalize the norms and habits required to do so (norms of speech and dress, certain skills, a “work ethic,” and so on). If I’m a capitalist, I need to learn and internalize the fact that success means maximizing profits, and I must learn and internalize the norms and habits that allow me to do that (a single-minded focus on expanding market share and cutting costs, for instance, which requires a ruthlessness in dealing with my employees.)

    So, it may seem that human motivation is explained by culture “all the way down.” But this isn’t so. Though culturalists are right that people must adapt to certain cultural scripts to participate in social structures, Chibber admits, it doesn’t follow that these cultural scripts have causal primacy in explaining the structure. Instead, the economic structure itself explains why people need to learn and internalize the relevant scripts in the first place.

    Consider what happens if a worker fails to internalize the cultural script appropriate to their role. That means they will fail to secure a job; or, if they do manage that, they won’t be able to keep it for very long. The outcome will be destitution, hunger, and worse. Likewise, a capitalist who fails to internalize the script relevant to their role will soon find their firms going under — and if they don’t get their act together, they’ll eventually find themselves in the desperate situation of a propertyless proletarian.

    For capitalists and workers alike, the economic structure generates powerful material interests that compel them to internalize the cultural scripts corresponding to their class positions. The fundamentals of their individual well-being are on the line if they fail to do so.

    None of this is to deny the importance of culture. But it is to say that, if we want to understand why people in capitalist societies act as they do, economic structure must be given a primary explanatory role. This claim is borne out, Chibber argues, by the global spread of capitalism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Far from particular cultural understandings being either prerequisites or insurmountable obstacles to the development of capitalist class structures, the imposition of capitalism has transformed cultures around the world — including those once thought to be inimical to capitalist relations — to suit its purposes.

    The False Explanation of False Consciousness

    Marxists argue that capitalism essentially involves the exploitation and domination of the working class by the capitalist class. Because they don’t have access to “means of production,” workers must sell their labor power to those who do: the capitalists. Once a worker secures a job, they are subject to the tyranny of the boss, who will attempt to get as much work out of them for as little pay as possible. Though workers are the ones who produce the goods and services that the capitalist sells, the capitalist gets to keep the lion’s share of the social surplus produced by their employees in the form of profits, while workers receive a pittance in the form of wages.

    This antagonism of interests involved in the capitalist–wage labor relationship, and the harms it imposes on workers, leads to conflict. Marx, observing the nascent labor organizations and political movements of his day, thought that this conflict would take on an increasingly collective and revolutionary form: workers would band together to resist their exploitation and eventually “expropriate the expropriators,” abolishing private property and doing away with capitalism entirely.

    This didn’t happen. There were, of course, socialist revolutions in countries where capitalism was just starting to develop, beginning with Russia in 1917, but these societies soon degenerated into authoritarian regimes and by the end of the century were evolving in a capitalist direction. In the West, socialist parties gradually accommodated themselves to the capitalist system and eventually moved away from even promoting significant reforms to the system and representing their traditional working-class bases. Even labor unions have now been on the decline globally for decades.

    Why didn’t Marxism’s revolutionary prophecies come true? According to thinkers of the New Left, the answer lies in culture. Workers do have an interest in organizing collectively to defend their well-being and, ultimately, in overthrowing the capitalist system. But they have been thoroughly indoctrinated by bourgeois ideology to accept the system as morally legitimate, and anesthetized by the shallow consolations of “the culture industry,” the promise of consumer goodies, and the like. If only workers could pierce the veil of illusion and recognize their true interests, the thought goes, they would revolt.

    Chibber deploys his materialist understanding of class to dismantle this argument. The problem with this explanation is that, as a result of their class position, workers daily experience pervasive harms and loss of autonomy at work, anxiety over finding or keeping a job, and the struggle to maintain a comfortable standard of living. To say that the working class in general has fallen prey to ideological indoctrination is to say that ideology has overwhelmed these prominent features of workers’ lived experience — that the influence of “bourgeois culture” is so strong as to induce systematic “cognitive breakdown” — in other words, false consciousness. Worse still, this explanation bizarrely positions the theorist as having more insight into the workers’ experience than the workers themselves.

    And, in fact, workers do often resist their exploitation. They shirk when they’re on the job; they call in sick when they’re not; they occasionally engage in acts of petty theft and sabotage against their employer. These widespread forms of individualized resistance show that working people aren’t simply dupes of pro-capitalist myths.

    Why Workers (Only Sometimes) Revolt

    So, why don’t workers revolt? The answer lies in the costs and risks associated with collective action. Workers depend on their jobs to sustain themselves and their families. It is not the case that workers “have nothing to lose but their chains”: in organizing or taking action with their coworkers, they could very well lose their livelihood. “The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all,” the economist Joan Robinson quipped.

    Besides the vulnerability to unemployment, there are plenty of other obstacles to a strategy of collective resistance. Workers have diverse interests that sometimes push against collective action. For instance, while the vast majority of workers would benefit from building powerful labor unions and political organizations in the long run, in the short term, lucky or very skilled workers may be able to secure a better deal for themselves through individual bargaining with employers.

    Then, there is the problem of free riding: while everyone benefits from the fruit of collective effort, no individual worker will be worse off if they don’t contribute. That creates a strong incentive for workers to shirk their responsibilities to collective organizing efforts — but, if enough individuals shirk, the efforts will of course fail.

    Chibber’s conclusion is that Marx was wrong to think that capitalism would naturally produce its own “gravediggers.” Instead, the material interests generated by the class structure usually militate against collective action and instead push workers to advance their interests by working hard and “keeping their heads down,” while engaging in occasional acts of individualized resistance. New Left theorists who say workers don’t revolt because they’re under the sway of bourgeois ideology make the same mistaken assumption as Marx — they think the reasons for workers’ acquiescence must come from outside the economic structure. In fact, in most times and places, the class structure provides strong-enough reasons of its own to eschew collective resistance, let alone revolutionary activity.

    But workers can and do sometimes organize together to fight their exploiters. Under what conditions does collective action become feasible? A crucial ingredient, Chibber argues, is the creation of a culture of solidarity:

    [Workers] have to make their valuation of possible outcomes at least partly on how it will affect their peers; this stems from a sense of obligation and what they owe to the collective good. . . . In directing every worker to see the welfare of her peers as of direct concern to herself, a solidaristic ethos counteracts the individuating effects normally generated by capitalism. In so doing, it enables the creation of the collective identity that, in turn, is the cultural accompaniment to class struggle.

    When workers come to see their own well-being as bound up with that of others, the normal obstacles to collective action become smaller. They become more willing to take individual risks, and they become averse to free riding on the efforts of their comrades.

    Again, culture is constrained by material interests here. A solidaristic ethos is not the same as an altruistic ethos, in the sense of a selfless concern for the welfare of others. Solidarity is rather about forming a sense of reciprocal obligation around shared interests. Knowing that, in the long term, they all stand to benefit from strong workers’ organizations, workers internalize norms that change how they weigh the costs and risks associated with collective action. My sense of obligation to my coworkers may allow me to overcome my fear of the boss’s retaliation; it may encourage me to see an individual wage increase here and now as less important than the security offered by a union contract; it will make me see free riding as a shameful betrayal of my comrades.

    Where workers build cultures of solidarity, they are more likely to pursue, and succeed in, strategies of collective resistance. But we should emphasize that class-based organization is not the only way that workers under capitalism might pursue their interests collectively. They also of course belong to formal and informal organizations based on race, ethnicity, religion, kinship, and other social identities. Workers may use such networks to navigate the vicissitudes of labor market competition by hoarding resources and job opportunities; the usefulness of these strategies gives rise to justifying ideologies of racism, ethnocentrism, and the like.

    Such collective identities, then — like class — have a basis in the economic structure of capitalism. Yet over time, workers’ prioritizing their identification with (say) members of their race or coreligionists makes it less likely they will forge large, durable coalitions to advance their interests and makes it easier for capitalists to pit workers against each other. (If a union refuses to admit nonwhite workers, for instance, it will sooner or later find the bosses employing those excluded workers as scabs.)

    So, the reason to treat cultures of class solidarity as particularly central is not because we chauvinistically regard class oppression as more morally significant than other social hierarchies, as some ill-tempered critics charge. It’s because organizing along class lines is the only feasible long-term strategy for resisting and eventually overcoming capitalist domination and thereby undermining the material basis of racial and other forms of oppression.

    Class, Politics, and Class Politics in the Twenty-First Century

    It follows that class formation — the transformation of workers from a “class in itself” to a conscious, organized “class for itself,” in Marx’s terms — is an extremely fraught proposition. The material incentives generated by capitalism’s economic structure discourage collective class organization and instead push workers to seek individualized means of pursuing their interests or otherwise to fall back on networks of kinship, race, and so on that pit them against their potential comrades in arms.

    Thanks to the heroic efforts of ideologically committed left-wing organizers to build cultures of solidarity, the workers’ movement was born and grew by leaps and bounds in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These organizers were aided by propitious circumstances. Rapid industrialization brought ever-greater numbers of workers into large factories and dense urban centers and decreased workers’ fear of long-term unemployment. In most of the capitalist world, workers were politically disenfranchised, strengthening their sense that they were unjustly treated and making clear the need to organize along class lines to demand political well as economic rights. Workers lived close to each other in city slums, segregated from other elements of society, facilitating an awareness of their shared interests and the forging of a collective identity.

    These structural and institutional facts were fertile ground for the growth of powerful labor movements and socialist parties. Those organizations fought for a partial “humanization” of capitalism, redistributing wealth and income toward the poor and working classes. For a while, especially in the postwar era, rapid economic growth meant that employers could (reluctantly) absorb unions’ and left parties’ redistributive demands. Yet a decline in profit rates starting in the 1960s forced employers to be less tolerant, and capitalists began to fight back, successfully crushing unions and rolling back the welfare state across much of the developed world.

    This story brings us to the neoliberal period, which workers haven’t yet been able to fight their way out of. For decades, they have suffered from stagnant wages and the erosion of public goods. At first, Chibber notes, workers responded by retreating from political activity and civic life. But recent years have seen active expressions of discontent, in the form of an uptick in strike action (though still at historically low levels) as well as explosions of anger at the ballot box in the form of support for populist, antiestablishment parties and candidates of both the Left and Right.

    This pattern of working-class disaffection and anger is understandable in materialist terms — as are the obstacles to a renewal of the organized labor movement and mass working-class political parties. The structural and institutional factors underlying the birth and expansion of the Old Left are no longer in place. Globally, capitalist economies are now deindustrializing, which has meant slower employment growth; the dispersion of workers into smaller firms; and less job security. Workers in most capitalist democracies now have full political rights, and they are no longer geographically isolated in their own densely populated communities but spread out in the suburbs among other classes.

    These facts mean the project of organizing workers has a totally different character than it did in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. “Workers’ electoral status and social conditions once worked in tandem with the class structure to push workers toward a common identity,” Chibber writes, “but this is no longer the case.” Their electoral status and social conditions today pull workers apart, exacerbating the tendency to adopt individualized or parochial modes of resistance.

    Back to Class

    The Class Matrix is not without its flaws. Nowhere does Chibber explicitly offer or defend a definition of material interests, a notion fundamental to his account of human motivation under capitalism and to his distinction between materialist and culturalist explanations of social structure. Nor does he discuss the connections between interests, preferences, and motivations — a topic that has long bedeviled philosophers as well as social scientists, and one on which Chibber makes some controversial assumptions that he does not entirely bring to the surface. (Very briefly: he seems to be working with a definition of material interests as universal components of well-being, rooted in human biological needs and capacities, that systematically regulate people’s preferences and motivations across cultural contexts. That is certainly a plausible and defensible conception of interests, but not, I think, a self-evident one.)

    Finally, many of the book’s formulations suggest a dichotomy between individualistic forms of resistance to domination and class-based collective action. But as discussed above, and as Chibber himself acknowledges at points, collective strategies of interest advancement can also take the form of reliance on racial, ethnic, and other nonclass collectivities. There is, of course, an important similarity between individualistic forms of resistance and reliance on parochial networks to hoard advantage: they mean failing to unite workers to challenge capitalism at the root and are, for that reason, ultimately self-defeating.

    However, these are complaints about presentation rather than substance. Overall, The Class Matrix is a clear, compelling, and systematic statement of the view that class is an objective reality that predictably and rationally shapes human thought and action, one we need to grapple with seriously if we’re to comprehend contemporary society and its morbid symptoms.

    Socialists today face the difficult task of building cultures of solidarity on different, and less favorable, terrain than our predecessors. Whether and how exactly we can do so are questions Chibber leaves to his readers. But his contribution to understanding what class is, and why it matters, will likely be indispensable to finding the answers.

    Nick French is an assistant editor at Jacobin.

    On Why Capitalists Are Guilty of Social Murder / by Friedrich Engels

    Friedrich Engels directing the construction of a barricade in the streets of Elberfeld during the riots of May 1849 in Prussia. (Universal History Archive / Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

    Originally published in Jacobin on November 28, 2022

    In 1845, Friedrich Engels wrote a scathing condemnation of English capitalism, The Condition of the Working Class in England. In it, he accused the bosses of carrying out “social murder” against workers and the poor.

    The following is an edited extract from Friedrich Engels’s The Condition of the Working Class in Englandfirst published in 1845. You can read the full text here.

    Atown, such as London, where a man may wander for hours together without reaching the beginning of the end, without meeting the slightest hint which could lead to the inference that there is open country within reach, is a strange thing. This colossal centralization, this heaping together of two and a half millions of human beings at one point, has multiplied the power of this two and a half millions a hundredfold; has raised London to the commercial capital of the world, created the giant docks and assembled the thousand vessels that continually cover the Thames.

    I know nothing more imposing than the view which the Thames offers during the ascent from the sea to London Bridge. The masses of buildings, the wharves on both sides, especially from Woolwich upwards, the countless ships along both shores, crowding ever closer and closer together, until, at last, only a narrow passage remains in the middle of the river, a passage through which hundreds of steamers shoot by one another; all this is so vast, so impressive, that a man cannot collect himself, but is lost in the marvel of England’s greatness before he sets foot upon English soil.

    Friedrich Engels

    But the sacrifices which all this has cost become apparent later. After roaming the streets of the capital a day or two, making headway with difficulty through the human turmoil and the endless lines of vehicles, after visiting the slums of the metropolis, one realizes for the first time that these Londoners have been forced to sacrifice the best qualities of their human nature, to bring to pass all the marvels of civilization which crowd their city; that a hundred powers which slumbered within them have remained inactive, have been suppressed in order that a few might be developed more fully and multiply through union with those of others. The very turmoil of the streets has something repulsive, something against which human nature rebels. The hundreds of thousands of all classes and ranks crowding past each other, are they not all human beings with the same qualities and powers, and with the same interest in being happy? And have they not, in the end, to seek happiness in the same way, by the same means?

    And still they crowd by one another as though they had nothing in common, nothing to do with one another, and their only agreement is the tacit one, that each keep to his own side of the pavement, so as not to delay the opposing streams of the crowd, while it occurs to no man to honor another with so much as a glance. The brutal indifference, the unfeeling isolation of each in his private interest, becomes the more repellent and offensive, the more these individuals are crowded together, within a limited space.

    And, however much one may be aware that this isolation of the individual, this narrow selfseeking, is the fundamental principle of our society everywhere, it is nowhere so shamelessly barefaced, so self-conscious as just here in the crowding of the great city. The dissolution of mankind into monads, of which each one has a separate principle, the world of atoms, is here carried out to its utmost extreme.

    Hence it comes, too, that the social war, the war of each against all, is here openly declared. Just as in Stirner’s recent book [The Ego and Its Own], people regard each other only as useful objects; each exploits the other, and the end of it all is that the stronger treads the weaker under foot; and that the powerful few, the capitalists, seize everything for themselves, while to the weak many, the poor, scarcely a bare existence remains.

    What is true of London, is true of Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, is true of all great towns. Everywhere barbarous indifference, hard egotism on one hand, and nameless misery on the other, everywhere social warfare, every man’s house in a state of siege, everywhere reciprocal plundering under the protection of the law, and all so shameless, so openly avowed that one shrinks before the consequences of our social state as they manifest themselves here undisguised, and can only wonder that the whole crazy fabric still hangs together.

    Since capital, the direct or indirect control of the means of subsistence and production, is the weapon with which this social warfare is carried on, it is clear that all the disadvantages of such a state must fall upon the poor. For him no man has the slightest concern. Cast into the whirlpool, he must struggle through as well as he can. If he is so happy as to find work, i.e., if the bourgeoisie does him the favor to enrich itself by means of him, wages await him which scarcely suffice to keep body and soul together; if he can get no work he may steal, if he is not afraid of the police, or starve, in which case the police will take care that he does so in a quiet and inoffensive manner.

    During my residence in England, at least twenty or thirty persons have died of simple starvation under the most revolting circumstances, and a jury has rarely been found possessed of the courage to speak the plain truth in the matter. Let the testimony of the witnesses be never so clear and unequivocal, the bourgeoisie, from which the jury is selected, always finds some backdoor through which to escape the frightful verdict, death from starvation. The bourgeoisie dare not speak the truth in these cases, for it would speak its own condemnation. But indirectly, far more than directly, many have died of starvation, where long-continued want of proper nourishment has called forth fatal illness, when it has produced such debility that causes which might otherwise have remained inoperative brought on severe illness and death. The English workingmen call this “social murder,” and accuse our whole society of perpetrating this crime perpetually. Are they wrong?

    True, it is only individuals who starve, but what security has the workingman that it may not be his turn tomorrow? Who assures him employment, who vouches for it that, if for any reason or no reason his lord and master discharges him tomorrow, he can struggle along with those dependent upon him, until he may find someone else “to give him bread”? Who guarantees that willingness to work shall suffice to obtain work, that uprightness, industry, thrift, and the rest of the virtues recommended by the bourgeoisie, are really his road to happiness?

    No one. He knows that he has something today and that it does not depend upon himself whether he shall have something tomorrow. He knows that every breeze that blows, every whim of his employer, every bad turn of trade may hurl him back into the fierce whirlpool from which he has temporarily saved himself, and in which it is hard and often impossible to keep his head above water. He knows that, though he may have the means of living today, it is very uncertain whether he shall tomorrow . . .

    Friedrich Engels was a German socialist instrumental to the development of Marxism

    ‘A new way of life’: the Marxist, post-capitalist, green manifesto captivating Japan / by Justin McCurry

    Kohei Saito’s book Capital in the Anthropocene, inspired by Karl Marx’s writings on the environment, has become a surprise hit in Japan | Image:

    Originally published in The Guardian on September 9, 2022

    Kohei Saito’s book Capital in the Anthropocene has become an unlikely hit among young people and is about to be translated into English.

    New English Edition
    Cambridge University Press, 2023

    The climate crisis will spiral out of control unless the world applies “emergency brakes” to capitalism and devises a “new way of living,” according to a Japanese academic whose book on Marxism and the environment has become a surprise bestseller.

    The message from Kohei Saito, an associate professor at Tokyo University, is simple: capitalism’s demand for unlimited profits is destroying the planet and only “degrowth” can repair the damage by slowing down social production and sharing wealth.

    In practical terms, that means an end to mass production and the mass consumption of wasteful goods, such as fast fashion. In Capital in the Anthropocene, Saito also advocates decarbonization through shorter working hours and prioritizing essential “labour-intensive” work, such as caregiving.

    ‘I was as surprised as everyone else’
    Few would have expected Saito’s Japanese-language solution to the climate crisis to have much appeal outside left-wing academia and politics. Instead, the book — which was inspired by Karl Marx’s writings on the environment — has become an unlikely hit, selling more than half a million copies since it was published in September 2020.

    As the world confronts more evidence of the effects of climate change — from floods in Pakistan to heat waves in Britain — rampant inflation and the energy crisis, Saito’s vision of a more sustainable, post-capitalist world will appear in an academic text to be published next year by Cambridge University Press, with an English translation of his bestseller to follow.

    “It is broadly about what’s going on in the world … about the climate crisis and what we should do about it,” Saito said in an interview with The Guardian. “I advocate for degrowth and going beyond capitalism.”

    The mere mention of the word “degrowth” conjures negative images of wealthy societies plunged into a dark age of shrinking economies and declining living standards. Saito admits that he thought a book that draws on strands of Marxism as a solution to modern-day ills would be a tough sell in Japan, where the same conservative party has dominated politics for the best part of 70 years.

    “A new way of life”: the Marxist, post-capitalist, green manifesto captivating Japan | Photo by Dimitry B.

    “People accuse me of wanting to go back to the [feudal] Edo period [1603-1868] … and I think the same sort of image persists in the U.K. and the U.S.,” he said. “Against that background, for the book to sell over 500,000 copies is astonishing. I was as surprised as everyone else.”

    The 35-year-old needn’t have worried about using the language of radical change; as the world emerges from the pandemic and confronts the existential threat posed by global heating, disillusionment with the economic status quo has given him a receptive audience.

    The pandemic has magnified inequalities in advanced economies, and between the Global North and South — and the book struck a nerve with younger Japanese.

    “Saito is telling a story that is easy to understand,” says Jun Shiota, a 31-year-old researcher who bought Capital in the Anthropocene soon after it was published. “He doesn’t say there are good and bad things about capitalism, or that it is possible to reform it … he just says we have to get rid of the entire system.

    “Young people were badly affected by the pandemic and face other big issues, such as environmental destruction and the cost of living crises, so that simple message resonates with them.”

    Saito agrees that growing inequality has given his writing more immediacy. “Many people lost their jobs and homes and are relying on things like food banks, even in Japan. I find that shocking. And you have essential workers who are forced to work long hours in low-paid jobs. The marginalization of essential workers is becoming a serious issue.”

    The response to COVID-19 had shown that rapid change is not only desirable but possible, he says.

    “One thing that we have learned during the pandemic is that we can dramatically change our way of life overnight — look at the way we started working from home, bought fewer things, flew and ate out less. We proved that working less was friendlier to the environment and gave people a better life. But now capitalism is trying to bring us back to a ‘normal’ way of life.”

    ‘Marx was interested in sustainability’

    Saito is deeply skeptical of some widely accepted strategies for tackling the climate emergency. “In my book, I start a sentence by describing sustainable development goals [SDGs] as the new opium of the masses,” he said in reference to Marx’s view of religion.

    Kohei Saito is pictured on Sept. 17, 2020, in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

    “Buying eco bags and bottles without changing anything about the economic system … SDGs mask the systemic problem and reduce everything to the responsibility of the individual while obscuring the responsibility of corporations and politicians.”

    “I discovered how Marx was interested in sustainability and how non-capitalist and pre-capitalist societies are sustainable because they are realizing the stationary economy, they are not growth-driven,” Saito said.

    Since the book was released, Saito has made Japan noticeably less squeamish about the German philosopher’s ideas.

    The conservative public broadcaster NHK gave him four 25-minute segments to explain his ideas for its Masterpiece in 100 Minutes series, while bookshop chains cleared space for special displays of revivalist Marxist literature.

    Now he hopes his message will appeal to an English-language readership.

    “We face a very difficult situation: the pandemic, poverty, climate change, the war in Ukraine, inflation … it is impossible to imagine a future in which we can grow the economy and at the same time live in a sustainable manner without fundamentally changing anything about our way of life.

    “If economic policies have been failing for 30 years, then why don’t we invent a new way of life? The desire for that is suddenly there.”

    Justin McCurry is the Guardian’s Tokyo correspondent

    Kohei Saito received his Ph.D. from Humboldt University in Berlin. He is currently associate professor of political economy at Osaka City University. He has published articles and reviews on Marx’s ecology, including “The Emergence of Marx’s Critique of Modern Agriculture,” and “Marx’s Ecological Notebooks,” both in Monthly Review. He is working on editing the complete works of Marx and Engels, Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (MEGA) Volume IV/18, which includes a number of Marx’s natural scientific notebooks.

    Read more by Kohei Saito…

    Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy

    Marx’s Ecological Notebooks

    Why Ecosocialism Needs Marx

    See also….

    Chinese party congress envisions domestic growth and equality, less reliance on exports / by Roger McKenzie

    Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, China, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022. Xinhua News Agency via AP

    Chinese leader Xi Jinping opened the Communist Party’s 20th Congress Sunday promising to reinforce “a new pattern of development” focused on domestic rather than export-led growth and reducing inequality.

    Vowing to continue “the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” in an address to the congress’s 2,000 delegates, Xi was joined on stage by his predecessor as Communist Party general secretary Hu Jintao, former prime minister Wen Jiabao, and 105-year-old communist revolutionary veteran Song Ping to emphasize the continuity of the Chinese Revolution.

    “We must fully and faithfully apply the new development philosophy on all fronts,” he said, referring to changed targets that emphasize “all-rounded development” rather than simply economic growth.

    Reducing inequality has been a major theme of Xi’s leadership, with China celebrating the elimination of absolute poverty last year and cracking down hard on corruption in both the party and the government.

    Promoting domestic demand and a higher quality of life within China rather than settling into a position as a manufacturer of goods for the developed West has also been a hallmark policy, one accelerated by U.S. economic attacks seeking to cut China out of global supply chains.

    The leader attributed the progress China has made to its reliance on socialist ideology in the development of policy. “Our experience has taught us that, at the fundamental level,” he said, “we owe the success of our party and socialism with Chinese characteristics to the fact that Marxism works.” 

    Xi said Beijing would maintain its zero-COVID policy, in which coronavirus outbreaks are quickly isolated and suppressed. China, he argued, had “protected life and health” in contrast to Western governments which let the virus rip.

    Official state statistics report that China has recorded just 10.38 COVID-19 deaths per million inhabitants, a figure far lower than Britain (2,689 per million) or the U.S. (3,099 per million).

    The party leader also pledged to stand up to attempts to divide China, praising his administration’s handling of anti-China protests in Hong Kong and saying it would continue to pursue peaceful reunification with Taiwan. He did emphasize, however, that China “will never promise to renounce the use of force” to settle the Taiwan question and said the nation would “reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.”

    Xi is expected to be elected to serve a third five-year term as general secretary at this congress.

    Since 1993, the general secretaries of the Communist Party of China have also been elected president of the country and chair of the Central Military Commission, positions he is also likely to retain over the next five years.

    Roger McKenzie is a journalist and general secretary of Liberation, a UK-based human rights organization which fights for economic and social justice, and opposes neo-colonialism, economic exploitation, and racism.

    People’s World, October 17, 2022,

    A Unity of Opposites: The Dengist and the Red Guard / by Douglas E. Greene

    Mao Zedong

    According to Mao Zedong, the principal law of materialist dialectics is the unity of opposites. Thus, it is quite fitting to observe that we can find the unity of opposites on display in evaluations of Mao himself as represented by Domenico Losurdo and Alain Badiou. For Losurdo, Mao is praised for his realism, nationalism, and attention to economic modernization. By contrast, Alain Badiou sees Mao as an eternal rebel, a symbol of the communist idea, and a universalist. These positions could not be more opposed. Even in their judgements of what Mao did wrong in the Cultural Revolution, both provide different answers. On the one hand, Losurdo condemns Mao for going too far with mass rebellion; while on the other, Badiou faults Mao for not going far enough. Yet as we shall see, even though Losurdo and Badiou form a yin and a yang, they both end up short when it comes to Mao.

    Domenico Losurdo

    The late Domenico Losurdo (1941–2018) was one of the foremost Marxist writers of his generation. He was the author of acclaimed studies on liberalism, Antonio Gramsci, G. W. F. Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Karl Marx. Losurdo was not simply an academic, but a militant in the Italian Maoist movement of the 1960s. When it came to Marxist-Leninism, Losurdo was forthright about his allegiance: “This is the tradition in which I recognize myself.”1 By the 1980s, Losurdo hard joined the Italian Communist Party. After its dissolution in 1991, he was a member of the Communist Refoundation Party, followed by the Party of Italian Communists. The last organization that Losurdo joined was the anti-revisionist Communist Party of Italy (PCI). At the sixth congress of the PCI in 2011, Losurdo wrote: “It is the coexistence of promising prospects and terrible threats that makes the construction and strengthening of the communist parties urgent. I sincerely hope that the party we are rebuilding today will be up to its tasks.”2

    In order to situate Losurdo’s view of Mao, we need to grasp how he understood the different camps of “Western” and “Eastern” Marxism. According to Losurdo, Western Marxism was born as a reaction against imperialism, the slaughter of the First World War, and the aura of the Bolshevik Revolution: “In the West, the radical, indeed apocalyptic, historical turning point is undoubtedly represented by the outbreak and flare-up of the First World War. The tiredness, the disgust, the indignation at the interminable carnage, all this promotes the rapid spread of the communist movement.”3 Furthermore, he argues that Western Marxism was shaped not only by material circumstances, but also the cultural tradition of “Judeo-Christian messianism.” Early Western Marxists like Ernst Bloch, Georg Lukács, and Walter Benjamin all viewed the Russian Revolution through an apocalyptic lens as a utopian and universalist event that would deliver humanity from all the vices of bourgeois society. In the ranks of Bolshevism, Losurdo singles out Leon Trotsky as the embodiment of this messianic spirit of Western Marxism: “If one can ever speak in Russia of Western Marxism, this is represented by Trotsky.”4

    However, Western Marxists were bound to be disappointed once their hopes of achieving a classless society did not come to pass in the USSR. Losurdo argues that Western Marxism could not comprehend the mundane need to develop the productive forces and reckon with so-called realism. Since figures like Trotsky refused to deal with this reality, they condemned efforts to do so by “realists” like Stalin as betrayals of the revolution: “Any political programme that fell short of demanding a social order without a state and military apparatus seemed wholly inadequate.”5

    Losurdo claims that since Western Marxists were detached from the material realities of imperialist encirclement and economic backwardness, they made a virtue of poverty and authenticity that was akin to a religious belief:

    In the eyes of these “Communists,” the imperialist encirclement of “real, existing socialism” and the socialist revolution are simply as irrelevant as the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the Jewish national revolution were for the assembly of Jewish early Christians. From this perspective every effort to analyze the concrete historical conditions is a distraction and immoral; the only thing that really matters is the authenticity and the purity of the gospel of salvation.6

    In turn, this leads Western Marxists to disavow the experience of “actually existing socialism” as inauthentic. Losurdo argues that this position plays into anticommunist prejudices and makes Western Marxism acceptable to the bourgeoisie: “They passionately deny the accusation that they are in any way connected to the history of ‘real, existing socialism.’ At the same time they reduce this history to a simple series of horrors in the hope that this will lend them credibility especially in the eyes of the liberal bourgeoisie.”7

    Instead of taking this approach, Losurdo argues that socialism must purge itself of the “abstract utopianism,” messianism, internationalism that are the hallmarks of Western Marxism. In its place, he advocates the embrace of “realism” which includes normalizing the market, nationalism, the bureaucracy, the rule of law, and the promotion of material incentives. According to Losurdo, twentieth-century socialism failed because it was too permeated with Western Marxist abstractions, as a result, it was unable to connect with its material environment:

    What has been defeated, in the Third World and in the “socialist camp” itself, is a Western Marxism that, having failed to take into account the national and religious identity-religion is often an essential constituent element of national identity-of the countries in which it operated, has failed to orientalize itself, so to speak.8

    By contrast, Losurdo says that Marxism’s counterpart in Asia had much different concerns than Western Marxism. In contrast, it was the reality of colonialism that provided the immediate environment that shaped the reception of Marxism after 1917. As Losurdo says, what spoke loudest to Marxists such as Mao was the Leninist theory of imperialism: “Marxism-Leninism is the truth finally found after a long search; the ideological weapon capable of putting an end to the situation of oppression and ‘contempt’ imposed by colonialism and imperialism, the ideological weapon which ensures the victory of the revolution in China.”9

    While Western Marxists were cosmopolitans separated from reality, Marxists like Mao both understood and integrated into national life. Losurdo praises Mao’s efforts to “nationalize” Marxism, arguing that the “Sinification” of Marxism was the unification of “East and West, general characteristics and national peculiarities.”10 In other words, Mao (along with Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh) fused together internationalism with patriotism: “they never contradicted patriotism and internationalism, indeed, they always saw in the struggle for the liberation of oppressed nations an essential moment in the march of internationalism and universalism, of what Gramsci defines as ‘integral humanism.’”11 He notes that Western Marxism, with its “pure vision of the universal,” could only view these national liberation struggles with utter contempt.12

    In addition, Mao’s thoughts on the productive forces were markedly different from those found in Western Marxism. Losurdo observes that the Long March and the anti-Japanese resistance was an “epic endeavor.” During the war, the Japanese targeted the whole population for subjugation, which meant that the “class struggle and national resistance tended to merge in China.”13 To fight Japan, the Communist Party of China (CPC) sought to build a united front that included not only workers and peasants, but also the national bourgeoisie. In this fight for national survival, the CPC’s commitment to production became inseparable from the greater war effort:

    From this moment [at the beginning of the Anti-Japanese War], the commitment to the production and development of the economy becomes, especially in the liberated areas controlled by the Communist Party, at the same time an integral part of the national class struggle. It is clear then why, even in the midst of the war effort, Mao called communist leaders to pay close attention to the economic dimension of the conflict.14

    Unlike Western Marxists, with their grand disdain for “vulgar” productive forces, Marxists in Asia saw the economic front as even more important than the class struggle and national liberation.15

    According to Losurdo, this focus on increasing production did not change after the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. For one, China endured embargos and economic attacks from the United States, which made no secret of its efforts to overthrow the new regime. China might have secured national unity, but it faced the continued threat of imperialist aggression and neocolonial subjugation. Therefore, China’s economic development had the twin tasks of social transformation and modernization.16

    Recognizing the economic problems of the Soviet Union, but still wanting to continue the revolution, Mao turned to a “Western Marxist” solution. As Losurdo observes: “Mao Zedong believed that these problems could be solved through the uninterrupted mobilization of the masses. This led to the Great Leap Forward, followed by the Cultural Revolution. A new stage of the revolution was called upon to guarantee both economic development and progress in the direction of socialism. This new stage of socialism had the mission of liberating the initiatives of the masses from all bureaucratic obstacles, even from the bureaucratic obstacles of the Communist Party and the state that it controlled.”17 In other words, Losurdo senses in Mao the same Western Marxist abstract universalism found in figures such as Trotsky.18

    Losurdo believes that both the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution created unrealistic millenarian moods to mobilize the people. In these campaigns, Mao undermined the authority of both the party and state. Since these two institutions could no longer ensure stability, this meant that China was only held together by the prestige and power of Mao’s personality, buttressed by the army:

    Because the mediating roles of the Party and the state had been swept away, there really only existed, on the one hand, the immediate relationship to the charismatic leader, and on the other hand, the immediate relationship to the masses (though these were in fact manipulated and fanaticized by means of the news media and controlled by an army prepared to intervene in emergencies). These were truly the years of a triumphal Bonapartism.19

    For Losurdo, Mao’s fundamental mistake was relying on mass mobilization and revolutionary utopias. This was completely at odds with the requirements of realism: “The ‘Great Leap Forward’ and the ‘Cultural Revolution’ took no account of the need to normalize the process of transformation. No one can call upon the masses to be heroes all the time, to endure being continuously and eternally mobilized, always ready to sacrifice, to do without, to deny oneself. The call to heroism must always remain the exception and never become the rule.”20 Despite Mao’s desire to increase productive forces and overcome inequality, Losurdo concludes that his efforts were unsustainable in the long-term.

    After Mao’s death, the leadership of China passed to Deng Xiaoping. A noted “realist” in the CPC, he was not interested in ideological purity, but increasing production through any means. As Deng famously said in 1962: “It does not matter if it is a yellow cat or a black cat, as long as it catches mice.”21 Under Deng, the Cultural Revolution was formally ended and politics were “normalized.” Market socialism was introduced, leading to the rapid increase of productive forces, along with inequality, corruption, and a degradation of social solidarity.

    Losurdo believes that China’s return to the realism of “Eastern Marxism” is something to be celebrated. He argues that Deng’s policies were successful in advancing the cause of socialism: “And even with the attendant high costs, the outcomes of undertaking this new course are generally visible: a rapid expansion in the development of productive forces; an economic miracle of European proportions; access like never before to economic and social opportunities for hundreds of millions of Chinese. All of this adds up to a liberation process of enormous proportions.”22 It is safe to assume that Losurdo believes Deng’s governance proves the superiority of Chinese Marxism over Western Marxism, with its focus on organizing the mechanisms of normalcy, and not utopian dreams.

    Yet this does not mean Losurdo completely repudiates Mao’s legacy. Deng changed course by rejecting Mao’s radicalism, but without repeating Nikita Khrushchev’s approach to Joseph Stalin, “demonizing those who preceded him in holding power.”23 Deng himself bluntly acknowledged this: “We will not do to Chairman Mao what Khrushchev [sic] did to Stalin.”24 He knew that Mao was a source of legitimacy in China who could not be dismissed in one blow without irrevocably harming the CPC: “Comrade Mao Zedong was not an isolated individual, he was the leader of our Party until the moment of his death. When we write about his mistakes, we should not exaggerate, for otherwise we shall be discrediting Comrade Mao Zedong, and this would mean discrediting our Party and state.”25 This led China to adopt a formal verdict on Mao of being 70 percent good and 30 percent bad. Ironically, this was the same verdict Mao had on Stalin.

    In 1981, the CPC approved a resolution on Mao’s historical role. Ultimately, Mao was praised for his correct version of Marxism before 1956, but afterward, he pursued the incorrect “Western Marxist” policies of the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution: “Chief responsibility for the grave ‘Left’ error of the ‘cultural revolution,’ an error comprehensive in magnitude and protracted in duration, does indeed lie with Comrade Mao Zedong. But after all it was the error of a great proletarian revolutionary.”26 For Losurdo, Deng and CPC’s defense of the “realist” as opposed to the “utopian” side of Mao successfully preserved the validity of socialism in China and allowed for its continued advance: “The procedure chosen by the new Chinese leadership, in any case, avoided a delegitimation of revolutionary power. Above all, it made possible a genuine debate about the conditions and characteristics of the construction of a socialist society, because it did not shift all the difficulties, uncertainties, and objective contradictions onto one person as scapegoat.”27

    Alain Badiou

    Alain Badiou appeared destined for a quiet career as an academic and a writer, but became politically active during the 1960s. Originally a member of the leftist Parti Socialiste Unifié, the student-worker protests of May 1968 transformed Badiou into a Maoist revolutionary. He describes this moment of political awakening as a religious conversion: “I admit without any reticence that May 68 was for me, in the order of philosophy as in everything else, a genuine road-to-Damascus experience.… It is the masses who make history, including the history of knowledge.”28 Afterwards, Badiou was active in the Maoist organization Union des communistes de France marxiste-léniniste (UCFml) and then the non-Maoist L’Organisation Politique. In addition, Badiou has combined his political activism with a prodigious output of plays, philosophical works, literature, and political polemics. He is currently one of the most prominent public intellectuals in France.

    Before explaining how Badiou views Mao, we must discuss his understanding of communism. According to Badiou, communism is a Platonic idea that has existed since the emergence of class society: “Every historical event is communist, to the degree that ‘communist’ designates the transtemporal subjectivity of emancipation, the egalitarian passion, the Idea of justice, the will to break with the compromises of the service des biens, the deposition of egoism, an intolerance of oppression, the wish to impose a withering away of the state.”29 For Badiou, communism itself is an idea that is not connected to any specific class, whether workers, serfs, peasants, or slaves. Instead, communism possesses an invariant and transhistorical character: “The communist invariants have no defined class character: they synthesize the universal aspiration of the exploited to topple every principle of exploitation and oppression.”30

    Since all communist invariants emerge from similar political events, they take on shared characteristics. In Logics of Worlds, Badiou lists four common traits found in any political truth that aims at communism:

    All these truths articulate four determinations: will (against socio-economic necessity), equality (against established hierarchies of power or wealth), confidence (against anti-popular suspicion or fear of the masses), authority or terror (against the ‘natural’ free play of the competition). This is the generic kernel of a political truth of this type.”31

    The communist invariants not only share these four attributes, but they are also symbolized by proper names. Among those names highlighted by Badiou are Spartacus, Louis Auguste Blanqui, Maximilien Robespierre, Marx, V. I. Lenin, Che Guevara, and, of course, Mao. As Badiou says, for the unnamed masses who fight for emancipation, these proper names stand for the idea and truth of communism:

    The anonymous action of millions of militants, rebels, fighters, unrepresentable as such, is combined and counted as one in the simple, powerful symbol of the proper name. Thus, proper names are involved in the operation of the Idea, and the ones I just mentioned are elements of the Idea of communism at its various different stages.32

    While communism is an eternal idea, Badiou—at least in his more Marxist days—argued that the proletariat was not doomed to simply go through the same past struggles repeatedly. Rather, the proletariat is a universal class through which the communist program can finally be realized: “With the proletariat, ideological resistance becomes not only the repetition of the invariant but also the mastery of its realization.”33 This is true because Marxism is the accumulation of knowledge from all the past popular struggles carried out by other communist invariants. For the proletariat, Marxism now becomes the key instrument to its ultimate victory: “We must conceive of Marxism as the accumulated wisdom of popular revolutions, the reason they engender, and the fixation and precision of their target.”34 When Badiou wrote these words in 1976, he undoubtedly saw Maoist thought as the highest synthesis of Marxist knowledge for the proletariat. However, since the 1980s at least, Badiou has retreated from an identification of the proletariat as a universal class.

    Badiou sees communism as a political truth which undergoes periodic sequences of emergence, growth, and exhaustion: “I will begin by saying that a political truth can, after all, be described in a purely empirical way: it is a concrete, time-specific sequence in which a new thought and a new practice of collective emancipation arise, exist, and eventually disappear.”35 According to Badiou, there have been two separate sequences of modern communism. The first came with the French Revolution in 1792 and lasted until 1871. He argues that the major characteristics of the first sequence were combining a mass movement of workers with the conquest of power: “This sequence combined, under the sign of communism, the mass popular movement and a thematic of the seizure of power. The object was to organize the popular movement, in multiple forms—demonstrations, strikes, uprisings, armed actions, and so on—in preparation for an overturn, evidently meaning an insurrectional overturn such as went by the name of ‘revolution.’”36 This sequence ended with the Paris Commune, which Badiou identifies as “the supreme form of this combination of popular movement, working-class leadership and armed insurrection.”37

    The second sequence lasted from the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 to the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. Badiou argues that this sequence was dominated by the question of how to escape the defeat of the Paris Commune and achieve victory. Lenin’s vanguard party provided these answers: “This obsession with victory and the Real was focused on problems of organization and discipline, and entirely contained, from Lenin’s What is to Be Done? of 1902, in the theory and practice of the centralized and homogeneous class party.”38 While the vanguard party allowed communists in the second sequence to take power, it created the new problem of the terroristic and bureaucratic party-state. As Badiou put it:

    The party, in fact, appropriate for insurrectionary or military victory over weakened reactionary powers, proved ill-adapted for the construction of a state of proletarian dictatorship in Marx’s sense, in other words a state organizing the transition towards a non-state, a power of non-power, a dialectical form of the withering away of the state. The form of the party-state, on the contrary, involved an experiment with an unprecedented form of authoritarian or even terroristic state, one that in any case was entirely separate from people’s practical life.39

    The main attempt to break out of the party-state impasse was made by Mao. Badiou argues that Mao was opposed to the depoliticization and ossification of the Stalinist state:

    Similarly, Mao rises up against Stalin’s objectivism. He argues that Stalin ‘wants only technology and cadres’ and only deals with the ‘knowledge of the laws’. He neither indicates ‘how to become the masters of these laws’, nor does he sufficiently illuminate ‘the subjective activism of the Party and the masses’. In truth, Mao indicts Stalin for a veritable depoliticization of the will…This depoliticization must be envisaged in terms of its most remote consequences: the transition to communism, the only source of legitimacy for the authority of the socialist state. Without a political break, without the will to abolish ‘the old rules and the old systems’, the transition to communism is illusory.40

    For Mao, the way out of the Stalinist deadlock was the politicization of the masses and an assault on the party-state. This took the form of the Cultural Revolution and the resurrection of the Paris Commune: “We can therefore say without fear that, in the current phase of revolutionary politics, the Cultural Revolution plays the role that the Paris Commune played in its Leninist sequence. The Cultural Revolution is the Commune of the age of Communist Parties and Socialist States.”41 For Badiou, the Cultural Revolution was a historic attempt to break through the deadlock of the party-state and renew the idea of communism.

    Yet Badiou identifies a contradiction in the Cultural Revolution between the needs of order and rebellion:

    On one hand, the issue is to arouse mass revolutionary action in the margins of the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat, or to acknowledge, in the theoretical jargon of the time, that even though the state is formally a ‘proletarian’ state, the class struggle continues, including forms of mass revolt. Mao and his followers will go so far as to say that under socialism, the bourgeoisie reconstitutes itself and organizes itself within the Communist Party itself. On the other hand, with actual civil war still being excluded, the general form of the relation between the party and the state, in particular concerning the use of repressive forces, must remain unchanged at least in so far as it is not really a question of destroying the party.42

    While Mao and his supporters told the masses that it is “right to rebel” against the party-state, there was also the need to maintain stability. Despite the Cultural Revolution’s invocation of a new state based on the Paris Commune, Badiou notes that Mao wanted to maintain the party-state, insisting that most cadres were basically good.

    For Badiou, the seizures of power—particularly the Shanghai People’s Commune of 1967—reveal the failures of the self-imposed limits of the Cultural Revolution. Mao ended up retreating from the commune form, instead supporting the creation of “three-in-one” revolutionary committees composed of cadre from the party, army, and mass organizations. This amounted to the restoration of the party-state’s power and authority. Furthermore, the workers’ movements and Red Guards were disbanded. Badiou concludes that the Cultural Revolution proved that the party-state cannot serve as a means to reach communism:

    [The Cultural Revolution] marks an irreplaceable experience of saturation, because a violent will to find a new political path, to relaunch the revolution, and to find new forms of the workers’ struggle under the formal conditions of socialism ended up in failure when confronted with the necessary maintenance, for reasons of public order and the refusal of civil war, of the general frame of the party-state.43

    In terms of Mao himself, Badiou says that he played a contradictory role in the Cultural Revolution as both a rebel and a restorationist:

    We can clearly see that Mao, by bringing in the workers, wanted to prevent the situation from turning into one of ‘military control.’ He wanted to protect those who had been his initial allies and had been the bearers of enthusiasm and political innovation. But Mao is also a man of the party-state. He wants its renovation, even a violent one, but not its destruction. In the end he knows full well that by subjugating the last outpost of young rebellious ‘leftists,’ he eliminates the last margin left to anything that is not in line (in 1968) with the recognized leadership of the Cultural Revolution: the line of party reconstruction. He knows it, but he is resigned. Because he holds no alternative hypothesis—nobody does as to the existence of the state, and because the large majority of people, after two exalted but very trying years, want the state to exist and to make its existence known, if necessary with brute force.44

    Ultimately, Badiou claims that the Cultural Revolution proves that the next sequence of communism must dispense with the vanguard party: “We know today that all emancipatory politics must put an end to the model of the party, or of multiple parties, in order to affirm a politics ‘without party,’ and yet at the same time without lapsing into the figure of anarchism, which has never been anything else than the vain critique, or the double, or the shadow, of the communist parties, just as the black flag is only the double or the shadow of the red flag.”45 Despite his denials, Badiou’s communism is effectively a form of speculative anarchism, with its celebration of miraculous “events.” However, his concept of the invariant allows Badiou to avoid disillusionment like other former Maoists. Instead, he can argue for the revival of communism since it will always exist as a form of mass rebellion:

    I maintain the expression [of communist invariants], against that of the ‘death of communism.’ And that—at the very moment in which a monstrous avatar, literally disastrous (a ‘State of communism’!) is falling apart—it thus be a matter of the following: any event which is foundational of truth exposes the subject it induces to the eternity of the equal. ‘Communism,’ in having named this eternity adequately serve to name a death.46

    Even now, Badiou refuses to disavow Mao. On the fiftieth anniversary of the Cultural Revolution in 2016, Badiou upheld Mao as a representative of the communist idea: “You might say that what I first saw in Mao and the Chinese Communist Party was a ‘left’ critique of Soviet politics. Mao’s major grievance was as follows: Stalin’s vision isn’t dialectical. He represents congealed, immobilized state socialism, whereas Mao, as is clear in all his great texts, thinks in an almost infinite way.”47 In the end, Badiou holds true to his youthful Red Guard beliefs by affirming Mao as an eternal rebel.

    Two Halves that Don’t Make a Whole

    What would Losurdo and Badiou say about each other’s views on Mao? Losurdo would likely consider Badiou to be infected with Western Marxist abstractions and anarchism in his celebration of mass rebellion and disregard for the needs of realism. By contrast, Badiou would no doubt consider Losurdo to be a Stalinist cop, with his defense of order, normalcy, and the bureaucratic party-state. Between them, no resolution could be possible. Yet this contradiction does not add up to a coherent picture of Mao.

    In Mao, there is an antinomy without resolution between the opposed dialectic of the Dengist and the Red Guard. The source of this unresolvable conflict is built into Mao’s dialectics since he rejects any reconciliation or negation of the negation. Instead, there is an eternal struggle between opposites. According to Mao, there are always rival positions in politics representing different roads such as bourgeois and proletarian, capitalist or socialist, or Dengism and the Red Guard. Depending on the requirements of the situation at hand, Mao himself oscillates between opposed positions. This ambiguity was most clearly on display during the Cultural Revolution where Mao was the source of both ultimate authority and rebellion. In religious terms, it could be said that Mao was both God and Lucifer. Ultimately, the Dengist and Red Guard fail to understand Mao, since neither are willing to conclude an identity between their unity of opposites.

    1. Domenico Losurdo, “Domenico Losurdo interviewed by Matteo Gargani (2016),” Red Sails.
    2. Domenico Losurdo, “Intervention at the 6th PdCI National Congress,” Domenico Losurdo (2011).
    3.  Domenico Losurdo, Il marxismo occidentale Come nacque, come morì, come può Rinascere (Bari: Laterza2017), 33, translation mine.
    4.  Domenico Losurdo, Antonio Gramsci dal liberalismo al “comunismo critico” (Rome: Gamberetti, 1997), 242, translation mine.
    5.  Domenico Losurdo, Class Struggle: A Political and Philosophical History (New York: Palgrave, 2016), 229.
    6.  Domenico Losurdo, “Flight from History? The Communist Movement between Self-Criticism and Self-Contempt,” Nature, Society and Thought 13, no. 3 (2000): 461.
    7.  Losurdo, “Flight from History? The Communist Movement between Self-Criticism and Self-Contempt.” For a thorough refutation of Losurdo on Stalin, see the appendix of Doug Greene, The Dialectics of Saturn: On the Question of Stalinism (forthcoming).
    8.  Losurdo, Antonio Gramsci dal liberalismo al “comunismo critico,” 242, translation mine.
    9.  Domenico Losurdo, “World War I, the October Revolution and Marxism’s Reception in the West and East,” in Cataclysm 1914: The First World War and the Making of Modern World Politics, ed.  Alexander Anievas (Boston: Brill, 2015), 263.
    10.  Losurdo, Antonio Gramsci dal liberalismo al “comunismo critico,” 242, translation mine.
    11.  Domenico Losurdo, “Como Nasceu e como Morreu o ‘Marxismo Ocidental’,” Marxists Internet Archive, translation mine.
    12.  Domenico Losurdo, “Como Nasceu e como Morreu o ‘Marxismo Ocidental.’”
    13.  Losurdo, Class Struggle: A Political and Philosophical History , 160.
    14.  Losurdo, “World War I, the October Revolution and Marxism’s Reception in the West and East, 266–67.
    15.  Losurdo, “World War I, the October Revolution and Marxism’s Reception in the West and East, 266–67.
    16.  Losurdo, “Flight from History? The Communist Movement between Self-Criticism and Self-Contempt,” 494.
    17.  Losurdo, “Flight from History? The Communist Movement between Self-Criticism and Self-Contempt,” 494–95.
    18.  It is absurd for Losurdo to compare Trotsky with Mao as falling under the same species of voluntarism. For more on Trotsky’s anti-voluntarist politics, see The Dialectics of Saturn.
    19.  Losurdo, “Flight from History? The Communist Movement between Self-Criticism and Self-Contempt,” 495.
    20.  Losurdo, “Flight from History? The Communist Movement between Self-Criticism and Self-Contempt,” 495.
    21.  Deng Xiaoping, “Restore Agricultural Production,” in Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping – Volume I (1938–1965) (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1992), 318.
    22.  Losurdo 2000, 497.
    23.  Ibid. 496.
    24.  Deng, “Answers to Fallaci,” Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, vol. 2, 344.
    25.  Deng, “On Drafts of Resolution on CPC History,” Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, vol. 2, 300.
    26.  Communist Party of China, “June 27, 1981- Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China,” Wilson Center, p. 16.
    27.  Losurdo, “Flight from History? The Communist Movement between Self-Criticism and Self-Contempt, 497.
    28.  Quoted in Peter Hallward, Badiou: A Subject to Truth (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 33.
    29.  Quoted in Hallward, Badiou: A Subject to Truth, 241.
    30.  Quoted in Bruno Bosteels, Badiou and Politics (Durnham: Duke University Press, 2011), 277.
    31.  Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event, 2 (New York: Continuum, 2009), 27.
    32.  Alain Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis (New York: Verso, 2010), 250-51.
    33.  Quoted in Bosteels, Badiou and Politics, 279.
    34.  Quoted in Bosteels, Badiou and Politics, 280.
    35.  Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis, 231.
    36.  Alain Badiou, The Meaning of Sarkozy (New York: Verso, 2008), 106.
    37.  Badiou, The Meaning of Sarkozy, 106.
    38.  Badiou, The Meaning of Sarkozy, 108. By “passion for the real,” Badiou is referring to a term from Lacanian psychoanalysis that refers to a desire for what can be done in the here and now in a sense of immediate material urgency. In terms of politics, Badiou views the Real as making the impossible possible: “And in particular, this conception of the real as being, in a situation, in any given symbolic field, the point of impasse, or the point of impossibility, which precisely allows us to think the situation as a whole, according to its real. Part of what I said a moment ago could be resaid as follows: emancipatory politics always consists in making seem possible precisely that which, from within the situation, is declared to be impossible.” Peter Hallward and Alain Badiou, “Politics and philosophy: an interview with Alain Badiou,” Angelaki 3.3 (1998): 124; Alain Badiou, The Century (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2007), 32.
    39.  Badiou, The Meaning of Sarkozy, 109.
    40.  Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event, 22.
    41.  Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis, 278.
    42.  Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis, 113–14.
    43.  Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis, 155.
    44.  Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis, 148.
    45.  Badiou, The Communist Hypothesis,155.
    46.  Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return to Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2003), 131.
    47.  Alain Badiou, “Mao thinks in an almost infinite way,” Verso Books, May 16, 2016.

    Douglas Greene is an independent Marxist historian living in the greater Boston area. He is the author of two biographies: Communist Insurgent: Blanqui’s Politics of Revolution and A Failure of Vision: Michael Harrington and the Limits of Democratic Socialism.

    MR Online, August 19, 2022,

    Party youth and our political moment / by Carol Widom

    This article was adapted from a speech presented at the opening of the 2022 Little Red School House, in New York City.

    Good morning comrades!

    I am really excited and honored to be able to welcome you this morning to the opening of the 2022 national Communist Party youth school! I also want to extend these welcoming remarks on behalf of our NY State District and our National Board and National leadership, our co-chairs Joe and Rosanna.

    Welcome also to this building, our revolutionary space, that houses the national headquarters of the Communist Party and that for the next week will be your space where you are encouraged to discuss, plan, debate, learn, form new and deeper friendships and feel it is your safe space to think and talk about building the future.

    I want to congratulate you on acceptance to the youth school. It is a testament to your commitment to participate in the movement, to your leadership and your sincere, undoubting working-class outlook: a better world is possible.

    Let me just tell you a little about my background to begin. I was an early childhood teacher for about 25 years in the NYC public school system. I was active in my union, the UFT, as a member of the rank and file. In this most recent period, the rank and file, due in part to the work of our Communist Party Educators’ Club, has been organizing, fighting, and winning against the UFT’s attempts to privatize our healthcare, as well as that of 250,000 NYC retirees. A coalition of rank-and-file caucuses ran the United For Change slate against the class collaborationist UFT head, and, as a result, one of our comrades won a seat on the executive board, where he’ll be pushing progressive demands for changes in the school system.

    I worked several years at People’s World when it was a print edition as editor of the Spanish language pages, Nuestro Mundo, and throughout my life had various other jobs. In the early ’80s, I joined the Communist Party in Brooklyn. I can tell you that it was the best decision of my life in that through Party work I was able to turn my socialistic leanings into relevant, purposeful, meaningful action. And I’ve never stopped learning and trying to deepen my understanding of Marxism or had any reason to look back. So that’s a little about me.

    The task of the youth in general, and of the Young Communist Leagues … might be summed up in a single word: learn.

    I wanted to highlight a quote from Lenin on the occasion of the beginning of the 2022 Little Red Schoolhouse that particularly struck me:

    “I must say that the task of the youth in general, and of the Young Communist Leagues and all other organizations in particular, might be summed up in a single word: learn.”

    For the wisdom of these words to be fully realized, the thinking and experiences of everyone must be shared. This means making room in the conversation for all to express their ideas in camaraderie, thoughtfulness, and consideration of the value that everyone’s ideas and questions bring to the table. We should be vigilant against any instances where some comrades might tend to dominate the conversation, keeping in mind other comrades who might be quieter or more shy. We have to provide a space where everyone has a chance to feel comfortable. We must be mindful of the diversity of the collective and ensure that all are heard, in order for the conversations to be fair, substantial, and consequential.

    Communist youth in action

    When I think about our Communist youth and the things they are doing throughout the country, as we used to say back in the day, it “blows my mind.”

    Our youth are engaged in bold actions that respond to the needs of our working class. They work in and build coalitions, always playing a unifying role, organizing around common struggles and leading in many. They play leadership roles with veteran comrades in Party Clubs and committees, write powerful pieces in the People’s World, and meet regularly and collectively with the Party membership to exchange ideas that advance the democratic struggles for equality, social and economic justice, and peace, and against white supremacy and the current fascist danger.

    Early on, here in New York City, the YCL Organizing Collective formed a book club to delve into the classics, historical and movement literature. When the pandemic hit, Communist youth formed mutual aid groups in various cities; they organized tenant rights groups, anti-war and anti-imperialist collectives; they led a rally to protest the embargo against Cuba. They were at the front lines in union organizing at Amazon and Starbucks, and joined solidarity picket lines against Black Stone. They mobilized for criminal justice and prison abolition with banners and posters, the Party flag waving high in marches for Black Lives, for reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and at the Pride March. They organized on college campuses, set up tables to register voters and distribute PW articles and literature on voting rights, immigrant rights, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, Rural Workers, Bill of Rights Socialism. And the list goes on and on.

    Communist youth are organizing in cities and districts throughout the country. There are YCL collectives in Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, D.C., Indiana, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia; they are firmly integrated into Party clubs and often take the lead in carrying out work and actions. I know in our club and district we would not be able to carry out the work of the Party anywhere near as successfully without the YCL. Youth leaders participate in district and club meetings, taking the kinds of initiatives that speak to their energy, enthusiasm, and solid political roots in the Party and Marxist thought. They elevate the socialist agenda in the mass movements.

    The youth movement throughout the U.S. has led in the struggles against police murders, climate destruction, union-busting, for fair wages and union organizing, with a majority expressing favorable opinions of socialism over capitalism. This is part of the background of what Joe has termed our socialist moment. In 2020, the youth vote increased by 11% from 2016, from 39% to 50%. Young people are committed to political engagement and action.

    We can just look at the 400-strong Communist contingent at the Poor People’s Campaign rally in DC. The red T-shirts, flags, and banners that stood out so strikingly—it could not have been accomplished without the tremendous organizing work of the YCL in the Party districts, in particular in doing footwork in DC and NY. It was a terrific example of applying our Communist plus to our mass work, and the Poor People’s Campaign expressed their appreciation for our organizing work and participation.

    In today’s political moment, the path to socialism is paved by the battle for democracy.

    Our full participation in mass struggle builds the revolutionary movement. The fight to defend and expand democracy and democratic rights is the correct course on the path to socialism. In today’s political moment, the path to socialism is paved by the battle for democracy.

    We also need to analyze, to assess and hone our tactics, to update our work and approaches based on our science, adjust what needs to be adjusted, considering the advances in technology, social media, and other factors that are part of the culture and the times.

    We also face challenges that arise from the rapid growth of the YCL and of the Party.  We must find ways to best organize and consolidate a growing membership.

    The tremendous surge in union organizing, in trade union and working-class consciousness among the youth and among workers in general presents challenges. How can we best mobilize emerging new forces, and grow class consciousness, unions and union solidarity? How can we galvanize the outrage that people feel at the assaults on the working class—physical assaults, economic, ideological assaults? How do we cast the widest net possible to unify for working-class and democratic victories against these assaults and fascist threats?

    Our political moment

    American families are overwhelmed by inflation, and lines are growing at food banks all over the country, with the rapid rise of rents and an end to COVID-19 relief. Price gouging by oil and food corporations forces people to turn to food lines to feed their families.

    Republicans and wrecking-ball Manchin, loyal to oil and other corporate interests, have derailed the Build Back Better agenda that would begin to address climate change as well. All this as the world literally melts around us, with temperatures reaching well over 100 degrees, fires raging in the West Coast and globally, people dying from the effects of extreme heat. Yet, Republican deniers reiterate comments like, “It’s summer, and it’s normal to have hot days.” There is nothing normal about what’s happening to our environment.

    In front of the Supreme Court, dozens of activists, joined last week by legislators—among them AOC, Ilhan Omar, Barbara Lee, Carolyn Maloney, and Cori Booker—were arrested, protesting and sitting down in the middle of the street chanting, “We Won’t Go Back!” This was days before the House passed two bills aimed at protecting women’s autonomy and the right to an abortion. One would codify Roe into law, and the other would protect the right to interstate travel to seek an abortion.

    Despite the legislative roadblocks, people keep struggling to find ways to protect all the fundamental rights that are under threat, putting Republicans on record opposing them.

    Masses of people are engaging in “good trouble, necessary trouble.”

    In a sign of growing public pressure, earlier this week the Respect for Marriage Act to codify same-sex marriage seemed more likely to get the votes needed to break a filibuster. Forty-seven Republicans voted in the House to pass the bill that would enshrine protections for same-sex marriage into federal law.

    A club in Arizona has engaged in weekly rallies to demand an end to the filibuster. Let’s remember that the tremendous movement around the Poor People’s Campaign grew out of Rev. William Barber’s initiative in bringing people together in North Carolina at the church steps, speaking to the issues during Moral Mondays.

    Communist youth are organizing collectives to help women travel across states to obtain an abortion.

    Abortion rights organizations collected hundreds of thousands of signatures for the Reproductive Freedom for All campaign in Michigan. The overturning of Roe v. Wade by the far-right Republican-dominated Court is not only widely unpopular, it’s galvanizing women and reproductive rights allies across the country. Millions refuse to accept the decision and are fighting on multiple fronts, including the ballot box.

    Outraged voters could make the difference in defeating Republican candidates in state and congressional elections.

    The Supreme Court ruling criminalizing abortion means that, for the time being, the battlefront to defend abortion and reproductive freedom centers on states and the 2022 elections. The outcome could depend on whether voters amend state constitutions to protect these rights and whether pro-choice Democratic legislative majorities and governors can be elected, including in red states, to preserve and expand reproductive freedom.

    The ruling is also an assault on the right to privacy, the foundation of a broad range of other democratic rights, including private sexual conduct and interracial marriage.

    Demands grow that Biden expand the court. We know that, except for a relatively short time in history, during the civil rights movement, the Supreme Court was not a political apparatus for progressive change. Now the extreme right majority poses an existential threat to democracy.

    The attack on reproductive freedom and voting rights, along with Supreme Court rulings undermining the ability of the EPA to regulate pollution and broadly expanding gun rights, and the Congressional hearings on the Jan. 6 insurrection, are all creating a new political framework for the 2022 election.

    Like we say at rallies, when the people’s rights are under attack what do we do?  “Stand Up! Fight Back!”

    For the first time in almost 20 years, when the federal assault weapons ban expired back in 2004, the House Judiciary committee is marking up a bill that would ban assault weapons. It can go to the House floor.

    It’s not just a question of what the Democrats can do with the limited power they have to get things passed. The power of the people is not limited to the Democrats’ agenda, but it’s important to move on these key issues and democratic demands. Some say that because of today’s legislature composition, legislative actions are symbolic. But people’s power mobilized, organized, and massive is not symbolic—it’s very real and powerful.

    We set the agenda, and the standard is not what the political pundits say will pass. The standard for our demands is what the people and families need to live and to thrive.

    November and the fight against the right

    Contrary to the assumption that 2022 will be a “done deal” election for the GOP, the latest polls show Democratic and anti-MAGA voter sentiment intensifying, and all the critical battleground races are now competitive. Some are now predicting that a big voter turnout in defense of constitutional democracy could result in a larger Democratic Senate caucus, including a pro-abortion, anti-filibuster majority.

    This is the new framework we live in, and it shows where we can win.

    The explosive testimonies in the Jan. 6th hearings, watched by tens of millions, has shifted public opinion. The compelling testimony by Trump’s own Republican allies, staffers, aides—and even his own family—has delivered a powerful blow to the Trump gang’s schemes, exposing their lies and criminality.

    In public opinion polls, 60% now say that Trump is responsible for the insurrection and 65% believe that his election lies were, in fact, lies.

    The fake electors are now facing criminal prosecution and the pressure is on the Department of Justice to indict Trump, who thinks that declaring his intention to run in 2024 can shield him from prosecution. Just last week, Trump asked the Wisconsin Assembly speaker to overturn the 2020 election results! So, he’s still at it—the only thing that will stop him is to throw him in jail!

    Yet, the machinations to install Trump Republicans as heads of election committees, the nefarious attempt to strip state legislatures of oversight—actions like these show why we need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act.

    The extreme right is desperate because the outcome of the midterms is not preordained. The times we are in are extraordinary, continually punctuated with mass protests, civil disobedience, and marches. If taken to the ballot box, people’s movements can win in the midterms and deal heavy blows against the extreme right, fascist movement.

    The plot for a fascist coup hatched by Trump and his gang—e.g., the hair-dye-dripping Giuliani, Eastman, Sydney Powell, and various corporate backers—is now clear to millions of voters. The attempt to have the military seize voting machines—in effect a declaration of martial law — the attempt to pressure state election officials to declare election fraud by “finding” votes; the attempt to install fake electors; to have the Justice Department “just say” there was some fraud suspected so he and his minions would “take care of the rest”; to keep Pence from certifying the electoral count, even if by literally lynching him; the physical and racist threats to legislators and election workers that refused to go along with Trump’s big lie that the election was stolen; and the last-ditch move to have the insurrectionist mob overthrow the government in a fascist coup have all been placed before the public, moving us closer to Trump’s criminal indictment. Yet, his core cult-like base is still under the hypnotic spell of his manipulative personality. The number 11,780 should be emblazoned on his prison clothes—the votes he said “I just want to ‘find’” to overturn the election.

    This is a moment for bold action—to rally together coalition partners, to make clear the connection between voting and fighting the fascist movement. In response to a report from Joe Sims to our Party’s National Committee, Comrade Chris and others in the New York district  are exploring initiatives to expose the corporate connections and supporters of the fascist coup. There are 147 GOP members of Congress who voted, in league with the coup plotters, to overturn the 2020 election. What you don’t hear in the big business press is that the members of this so-called Sedition Caucus have received corporate funding, now surpassing $21.5 million. In coalition with our partners in the people’s movements, along with the progressive press and media, our YCL and Party clubs can help organize actions to expose the financial feeders of the fascist coup caucus, while building the movement and the Party.

    We know that under capitalism, we go from one crisis to another crisis. It’s in the nature of a system that is based on exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class. Capital is never satiated. Legislatures pass bills to give away billions in corporate welfare— the chip industry is the latest one—but capital will never solve the problems that besiege and oppress the working class. Capital will eat up the wealth labor creates and be back soon like pigs at the trough asking for more.

    In the endless quest for increased profits, capitalism is a system that gives legal cover to the ruling class to commit murder.

    Inhumane conditions in prisons, where people are incarcerated for years waiting to have cases heard, many without even being charged; the prison labor system; racist police killings; gun violence and horrific massacres with assault weapons, now the number one cause of death of children—all are the result of a racist, capitalist system, where corporate profits in the gun and other industries are valued above human life.

    In the Uvalde investigation report, it was concluded that numerous measures could have been taken to prevent the massacre of 19 children and 2 teachers.  However, an important contributing factor was that there was “no legal impediment to the gunman buying [the assault weapons].”

    Under tremendous public pressure, the House has just advanced a bill to ban assault weapons for the first time in almost 20 years. In California, a new state law makes it possible to sue and hold gun manufacturers and dealers responsible when they don’t follow the strict gun laws and their products cause harm.

    Young people across the U.S. are leading in the struggle against gun violence, and Communist youth are taking action in YCL collectives to end police murder, advance criminal justice reform, and fight against endless wars and the bloated military budget.

    Marxism applied

    We know that the understanding and implementation of the science of Marxism has liberated the working class of socialist societies, and has revealed how beautiful life can be.

    During this week you will collectively assess the conditions and needs of the people, the balance of forces, and the steps needed to build a massive people’s movement
    on the path to socialism. We can deepen the discussion around the struggles for preservation and expansion of democratic rights, of victories for the movements against racism, chauvinism, never-ending wars, voter suppression, for healthcare, housing and education, women’s rights and broader civil rights, and the very preservation of the planet.

    We know you are on the right side of history! You can use our science not only as a source of deeper study and knowledge, but also as a source of inspiration for what is possible in the future. A future that belongs to you.

    Solidarity and on to a better world, a beautiful life and Socialism!

    Images: Young CPUSA / YCL members at the June 18 Poor People’s Campaign rally in the nation’s capital, DC Communist Party (Twitter); NYC Queer Liberation march (CPUSA); Little Red Schoolhouse participants in Washington Square Park (CPUSA); Anti-displacement demonstration at City Hall (CPUSA).

    Communist Party USA, August 11, 2022,