By Thomas Buddenbrook
Recently I’ve heard from speakers and new acquaintances in the medical freedom movement which, to be perfectly frank, I find incredibly annoying. Under the guise of bringing us all together, these shibboleths threaten to divide and to paralyze our movement. These divisive shibboleths include the following. Much of them rely upon the ideology of anti-communism. So for a change from the usual situation where these shibboleths go unchallenged, I will rely largely upon the words of Marx and Engels for a refutation. We turn first to two shibboleths that are most obviously the product of anti-communist propaganda.
The leaders of socialism were financed by a cabal of international bankers, who are in reality communists
The fact that many in our movement embrace such nonsense, is no surprise, for two reasons.
1) Our movement is currently led by people from the small-propertied lower middle class. Such people are infinitely preferable, at least as allies, rather than as leaders, to the smugly authoritarian and conformist members of the upper middle class, proud denizens of TonyTown, who have largely drunk the Covid Cool-Aid. But this former class carries with it, its own ideological baggage: their pipe dreams that we can all get back to a Rousseauvian Golden Age of small propertied republicanism; that, to fight against the madness we face, they don’t need no stinkin’ workers leadership, struggle, or socialism. Marx and Engels analyzed the nature of this class’s ideological tendencies at length in their Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League. Note, however, that they were only describing tendencies. They fully understood that members of the middle and upper classes—like themselves–can and should do the right thing, exercise their free will, and come over to lend their knowledge and leadership to the working class:
“The democratic petty bourgeois, far from wanting to transform the whole society in the interests of the revolutionary proletarians, only aspire to a change in social conditions which will make the existing society as tolerable and comfortable for themselves as possible. They therefore demand above all else a reduction in government spending through a restriction of the bureaucracy and the transference of the major tax burden into the large landowners and bourgeoisie. They further demand the removal of the pressure exerted by big capital on small capital through the establishment of public credit institutions and the passing of laws against usury, whereby it would be possible for themselves and the peasants to receive advances on favourable terms from the state instead of from capitalists; also, the introduction of bourgeois property relationships on land through the complete abolition of feudalism. In order to achieve all this they require a democratic form of government, either constitutional or republican, which would give them and their peasant allies the majority; they also require a democratic system of local government to give them direct control over municipal property and over a series of political offices at present in the hands of the bureaucrats.”
We’ll discuss this further below.
2) Anti-communism has been the unofficial religion of the United States for many decades. It even goes back before the Civil War, when abolitionists were branded communist because they wanted to abolish private property—the ownership of some very profitable capital: black slaves!
There was actually a great deal of truth to this. Marx and Engels, as leaders of the First International, supported the election of Abraham Lincoln, and told their Communist League associates who had emigrated to America to use their positions as editors of German-American newspapers to bring Lincoln the presidency, in which victory, their support was instrumental. The great abolitionist Wendell Phillips joined the First International. Marx and Engels knew that Lincoln’s victory would usher in the Civil War that would abolish slavery, which was a great impediment to the unity of black and white workers, and thus to the building of a socialist movement.
Marx and Engels’ hatred for slavery, however, was no more cynical, a mere means to an end, as the anti-communists charge, than their support for workers revolution against Capital. At base, they opposed slavery because they saw black people as ends in themselves, whose demand for liberation, because the present materialist conditions made it possible, was just. Even when such conditions had not yet arisen, as in the ancient world, Marx, was unable to restrain his admiration for such leaders of servile revolts against the Roman Republic as Spartacus, whom Marx called
his hero, citing him as the “finest fellow antiquity had to offer”. In a letter to Engels dated 27th February, 1861, Marx says that he was reading about Spartacus in Appian’s Civil Wars of Rome: “Spartacus emerges as the most capital fellow in the whole history of antiquity. A great general […], of noble character, a ‘real representative’ of the proletariat of ancient times. Pompey a real shit […]” (Marx and Engels, Collected Works, Volume 41, p. 265).[i]
Early in his career, Marx set forward his own, socialist, moral goals, his “categorical imperative”: “to overthrow all relations in which man is a debased, enslaved, abandoned, despicable essence..” “Oh,” the skeptics might reply, “he was just saying that to impose his totalitarian, nightmarish agenda on the world.” But at some point, such paranoiac charges become tiresome: like the question posed repeatedly to a single man, “have you stopped beating your wife?” The only response in both cases is to tell the paranoiac that we have the right to be thought innocent until proven guilty, and either that he needs therapy, or to back it up with as much as a scintilla of actual proof. Otherwise, shut up!
Why would we, in a movement dedicated to freedom, dismiss the ideas of such a writer as Marx, who could write something like this?! Is it because his analysis of the laws of motion of the capitalist economy, decidedly do not favor the petit-bourgeois fantasy of a return to small-propertied Golden Age? To paraphrase Steve Martin, “Well excuuuuuse…Marx!” That isn’t rational. It is self-indulgent. It does not promote freedom.
Anti-communism has much in common with the divisiveness of racism, and, as we will discuss, some of the shibboleths discussed below seem borrowed directly from the playbook of anti-semitism, which August Bebel called the “socialism of fools.” Especially, we have a similar insinuation that darkly sinister, wealthy and powerful forces “financed” the founders of socialism, whose ideals are portrayed as cynical fig leafs for their “real” motives: power hungry tyrannical maniacs whose real goal is to take over the world, secretly on behalf of the very forces they purport to attempt to overthrow, and impose a totalitarian tyranny. Just like the Jews are portrayed in the (phony, forged) Protocols of Zion. The proponents of both these ideologies can offer very little proof of their assertions—besides forgeries like the Protocols of Zion, and the unfortunate coincidence that many Jews today are upholders of Zionism, and that many self-described “Leftists” uphold the Covid narrative. And actually the two coalesce in the fallacious theory of Jewish Bolshevism, propagated by the Nazis and their American sympathizers like the demagogue Father Charles Coughlin, that the Bolsheviks were primarily Jewish (only a few actually were) and that October Revolution was a major stepping stone in the Protocols of Zion![ii] But there are other reasons for both of these coincidences, than the idea that there is a sinister urge on the part of either Judaism, or Leftism, to try to take over the world. In the case of Jews’ support for Zionism, this is a result of careful manipulation by the Zionist leaders of the trauma of the Holocaust, and many Jews’ consequent cynicism about the possibility for liberation from antisemitism via socialism. In the case of [fake] Left support for Covid repression, this has occurred, not because of some covert willingness to serve the nefarious designs of the very Corporate Global Elite they have until recently sought to overthrow, but because of their scientistic faith in vaccines, public health officials, and Big Pharma-bought scientists, as well as other factors (see my recent article for Red Fire Online, “The Politics and Social Psychology of Complicity with this Insanity”[iii])
Like racism and antisemitism, anti-communism is a form of “horizontal hitting” and “down-punching,” dividing us against each other–especially against potential socialist leaders who might actually have something to teach our movement for freedom! It provides its adherents a convenient excuse to avoid the real, difficult struggle we must face—with the ruling capitalist class–if we are to finally take the power and win our freedom. At the bottom of their minds, anti-communists seek to find friendly collaboration and “a separate peace” with the very people who are threatening to destroy us, by proving they are good, loyal, and just as hateful toward communism as are our Global Corporate Masters. Thus their hope to gain the same alliance with these Masters, that they project upon the socialists (and the Jews)!
A joke told to me by a dear friend of mine, the late Sam Waters, who was a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain in the 1930s, illustrates this well. In Union Square, the cops have descended upon and are now beating up workers fighting for better pay and conditions. One of them yells out, as he is being kicked and clubbed, “I’m an anti-communist! I’m an anti-communist!” The cop continues to kick and beat him, and responds, “I don’t care what kind of a communist you are!”
Whenever socialism has been tried, it has ended in a totalitarian nightmare. Therefore it is intrinsically so.
People who take this point of view seem to think that the twentieth century was some kind of double blind laboratory experiment. In this model, history tests the merits and rates of success for creating freedom and prosperity of each system, capitalism vs. socialism, operating independently from each other.
Even if this were true, we see yet another double standard. While we are never spared the details about the Stalinist Gulag Archipelago, in the Soviet Union and in other places, the fascist outcome for capitalism, which occurred not only in the period of the 1920s through the 1940s, as well as today, are conveniently ignored, along with the horrors created by imperialism: genocidal wars against neo-colonies in Indochina and Central America threatening to “go communist,” “regime change” operations in which millions MORE died, Eugenicist “public health” campaigns conducted by Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci in Africa which have sterilized or murdered many people, etc.
But history is not a laboratory experiment, and we cannot view the horrors of Stalinism as occurring independently from the colossal, furious, and largely successful attempts by imperialism to, as Winston Churchill counseled, “strangle this baby in its cradle.” Nothing else could be expected from the bourgeoisie than this—but if the Social Democratic, Labour, and even Communist parties in the rest of Europe had offered the kind of brilliant and courageous leadership offered by the Bolsheviks to the workers and peasants of Russian, their revolution may have spread to the more advanced countries, strangling imperialism instead. If this had happened, Stalinism might have never arisen in the Soviet Union. And thus the revolutions which the Soviet Union sponsored in the Third World might also never have become deformed.
Freedom could have stayed on the march!
Now we turn to shibboleths that are less obviously, yet no less in reality, influenced by anti-communist ideology:
We need to get beyond politics, especially the politics of Left vs. Right
At one level, this statement bears truth. It counters above all the class snobbery and insularity of the Covid Left, who pat themselves on the back daily because they’ve allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the billionaire oligarchs, like Gates and Schwab, and their minions like Fauci and Biden. We must listen and engage with all those formerly on the Left as well as the Right, who are open to fighting alongside us against the Covid madness and the Great Reset.
On another level, however, this slogan has become a basis for blinkered ignorance, and censorship, particularly of those of us still interested in socialism and Marxism. Trump supporters can praise their (con) man to the skies—and their hero worship will be indulged. But when Leftists start talking about the need for socialism, they get booed and shouted down with this slogan. There is a double standard here. Much more problematic: what is also censored, or censured, is any attempt to offer a direction, a strategy, based on theory and analysis of the situation in which we in this movement find ourselves.
This threatens our movement with paralysis, or worse, pursuit of futile petit bourgeois pipe dreams. This brings to mind the debate Marx had with Weitling in 1846, in a meeting of the League of the Just, which was soon rechristened, The Communist League. Weitling was a great agitator for the League, but was also notorious for his promotion of sentiments rather than theory. He was of the school—and there were many in the League of the Just—that believed that there was no need for theory: In John Lennon’s words, “All you need is love!” Marx replied that the League could “do nothing without a positive doctrine and, in fact, had done nothing up to now except to make noise, cause harmful outbreaks, and ruin the very cause they had espoused.” Finally, Marx grew so exasperated with Weitling that he shouted, pounding the table, “Ignorance has never yet helped anybody!”[iv]
We do not demand, in “woke” fashion, that you cleanse yourself of all your former ideas and adopt our socialist way of thinking. All we insist upon is that we engage in a healthy debate about what theory, analysis, and strategy our movement ought to adopt. If we on the Left of this movement feel this necessity, why isn’t the Right willing to debate us honestly?
Private property is our only defense against totalitarianism.
We can see how well this principle has worked over the last two years. Many, many small business owners have been wiped out by the lockdowns imposed by governments working at the behest of the Great Reset-advocating billionaires. Private property ownership did not stop this, and nor, as in the old Rousseauvian/Madisonian republican pipe dream, did virtuous political official representatives rise to the occasion to stop it.
Many freedom movement pundits confuse the socialist campaign to socialize private property in the means of production with the campaign of Klaus Schwab, Bill Gates, and the WEF to ensure that by 2030, “you will own nothing” (and be very, very unhappy). Nothing could be further from our intention. We do not wish to do away with private possessions, as do the Great Reseters (excluding of course their own ruling class’s proposed ownership of everything). We only wish to ensure that no one can own the means of production privately, in order to exploit workers. We must all own and control the means of production collectively, communally. The means of production, but not our private possessions, would become public property—not the private property of the 99%.
Capitalism per se isn’t bad: only crony capitalism, the capitalism of the billionaires, in league with their bought-off political officials. We need to go back to our old Republic, to win back our freedoms:
Here again, we have the Rousseauvian delusion. We can live, on the basis of a republican “social contract,” in a society where each of us—with the exception of course of good-hearted corporations (wherever they exist!) –will only own a small amount of private property. We will vote in virtuous officials, who will ensure fairness and equity for all, and prevent corporations from going bad.
As I said before, this is a pipe dream. This is not a realistic hope.
In the first place, as Marx and Engels write in the Communist Manifesto, the “modern representative state” does not represent the people. Instead, it is the “executive committee” of the capitalist class, by which it gains sway over society.
In the second place, the laws of motion of capitalism must sooner or later create a centralization of capital in fewer and fewer hands. This is because the tendency of the capitalists, competing with each other, is to lower their wage costs by replacing workers with machines. As this process goes on, the rate of profit goes down. The capitalists compensate by increasing their investment in the production process, borrowing money from the banks, increasing the mass of profit—until there is a crisis. Those who survive this competition, and these depressive crises. Are the bigger firms that can afford to pay for the machines they need to stay in the game. The smaller firms go to the wall. The wealth of these bigger surviving firms enable them ever increasingly to buy off government officials, including public health officials and “regulatory” agency bureaucrats in general. The growing disparity of wealth and income between the global workers and peasants of the world, spurs a growing revolt, like it did before the pandemic. This encourages the sociopathic billionaires of the ruling class to engage in these desperate campaigns to enslave or depopulate the rest of the human population.
Conservative friends of mine—including a formerly Marxist professor of cultural studies at NYU– have denied that there is a tendency for capitalist profits to decline. This, they claim, is because the labor theory of value is bunk. So in their opinion, there is no intrinsic dynamic toward crisis, and thus toward the centralization of capital, etc. There is no exploitation. Since there is no such thing as value, what surplus value is there to exploit, in the first place? They embrace instead the neo-classical economic “marginalized use value” theory of price determination. But this is nonsense. Marx wasn’t the first to discover the labor theory of value nor the tendency of the rate of profit to fall—this was the work of the classical bourgeois economists, like Adam Smith and David Ricardo, when bourgeois economics was still an honest profession. Marx only connected the two theories—and then added the fact that the tendency of Capital is to reduce the component of human labor, replacing it with machines—thus increasing the “organic composition of capital,” and thus lowering the profit rate. Secondly, if value has nothing to do with human labor, then capitalist society would be the first ever to have a basis purely in the subjective whims of its individual members for the allocation of its productive powers, its social labor time. This is to take the theory of the “sovereign consumer” a bit too far. As Ernest Mandel wrote, marginalist theory
is, moreover, unable to explain how, from the clash of millions of different individual “needs” there emerge not only uniform prices, but prices which remain stable over long periods, even under perfect conditions of free competition. Rather than an explanation of constants, and of the basic evolution of economic life, the “marginal” technique provides at best an explanation of ephemeral, short-term variations.[v]
Finally, the periodicity of crises, and the concentration of capital, the immiserative results of exploitation and crisis, are historical realities, predicted by Marx on the basis of his economic theory, that anyone can see—anyone, that is, who does not wish to fill his or her mind with pro-capitalist, anti-communist pipe dreams.
Our Founding Fathers didn’t want democracy, but instead they wanted a republic. That’s a good thing, because democracy – mob rule. Which is what we face now.
This notion, which I heard expressed in Union Square in NYC last weekend, is based on a misunderstanding of history. First, the word republic is based upon the Latin word res publicus. Instead of being the private property of an autocrat, policy should be controlled by the public. But what public? Who is included in the public? In the aristocratic Roman Republic, the shots were called largely by the Roman Senate, controlled by the aristocrats. This was the conception that guided our “Founding Fathers” to prefer a “republican” form of government to a “democracy.” They wanted their class(es)–the aristocratic slave-owning planters in the South, the wealthy merchants and bankers in the North—to control the government. They succeeded by having the Constitution that they created, ratified.
The young Union Square orator, unlike his predecessors of the 1930s, in this praise for the Fathers, has only expressed the fact that his view has been “colonized”, as Paolo Freire might have said, by the ruling class. He accepts their fear of democracy, even though genuine, socialist democracy would empower his own, working class. Certainly, mindless mob/mass conformity is something to be feared. But we cannot stop this threat by relying upon a nostalgic return to the good old days of the new American Republic. We need to push onto build a socialist workers republic, where the workers come together in their revolutionary rank and file committees, councils, and yes, soviets, (which is just the Russian word for councils!) to take control of the means of production, and our common social life, and thus to truly “be happy.”
[i] Alan Woods, April 3, 2009, Spartacus: a real representative of the proletariat of ancient times | Ancient History | History & Theory (marxist.com)
[ii] A particularly rabid instance of this, backdating “Judeo-Bolshevism” to the early 1800s, is that of right-wing pundit John C. Carleton, who charges Karl Marx and his father Heinrich Marx with hiding their “real” Jewish names and only “feigning” conversion to Protestantism in order to “infiltrate Prussian society.” There’s also the charge that Heinrich was a “freemason,” and they came from a family of rabbis.. He also has a Confederate flag draped across his web site. See Moses Mordecai Levy-Karl, Heinrich Marx: | John C. Carleton (johnccarleton.org)
[iv] From the account of this meeting by Pavel Annenkov Marx on False Agitators, or “Ignorance has never yet helped anybody!” | POLITSTURM
[v] See Ernest Mandel, “The Marginalist Theory and Neo-Classical Political Economy,” excerpted from his Marxist Economic Theory, 712-717). The marginalist theory by Ernest Mandel (marxists.org)