Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Revolutionary Ramblings and Doom Sayings

Warning the below post is a lengthy criticism of a Youtube Vlogger, if this doesn't interest you then I suggest skipping this post entirely.

I was blessed to receive a Youtube recommendation of a video from the #1 Marxist on Youtube. The eponymous Maoist Rebel, Canada's Chairman of internet agitprop, Jason Unruhe. There is dire news from the Revolutions cyber centre and angry commentator cadre are bombarding the head quarters. And I promise to knock off the Mao speak jokes.

Full disclosure, I've followed Jason for many years on and off, usually several months will go by before I come across him again, and each time I'm surprised by how different he is. The man knows how to reinvent himself, its a shame each iteration is more odious than the last. So this rambling video about the dire state of "Marxism" rattling off a diverse group of misdeeds and guilty parties. Its starts off alright, he condemns the CPRF's homophobia but he tells his audience this news as if its a surprise, that a "Marxist-Leninist"(ML) party is homophobic, which means he's unaware that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union made homosexuality punishable by time in a Labour camp. Kinda of a worrying oversight for Youtubes No 1 Marxist hey?

Then he goes on to warn about a trend of ML parties turning to Fascism, and cites the use of antisemitism amongst the regions that broke away from the Ukraine. However annoyingly he doesn't give a specific example or a link to establish what exactly he's referring too. This is frustrating since the issue of antisemitism is rather confusing in this area. It's definitely being used by someone but both sides accuse the other and plead innocents, the infamous episode of anti Jewish leaflets shows how murky and prevalent `The Socialism of fools` is in the region.

And he offers no real substantiation for his claim that ML parties are trending towards Fascism. Though the evidence of some of them flirting with it isn't hard to find, in Eastern Europe they're known as Red-Brown alliances. Indeed the CPRF itself is part of such alliances,But again vague wording and a refusal to cite sources or give examples mean is impossible to tell how accurate Jason is. He also briefly states ML parties in the US are putting out Fash statements but he doesn't say which parties or which statements are Fascistic, meaning its impossible to tell if he's correct and nearly impossible to look up.

Then things get a bit weird, we go from ML's becoming Fash, to Maoists (in the first world mind) doing something with a gender bandwagon, which is bad because....? It just is. I honestly have no idea what he's talking about here, Maoists in the first world is somehow even vaguer then his previous statements. Talking about Gender apparently won't lead to Revolution, okay, I guess we have to take Jason's word for this since he doesn't elaborate at all. But taking Jason at his word, Maoism would also be bankrupt. The ideology of Maoism hasn't led to a successful Revolution since 1949 in China, and that was made possible thanks to the inherent instability of the Chinese state after the 1911 Revolution, and the weakness of the KMT. Everywhere else Maoist tendencies have tried to seize control through force of arms, what Mao called People's War they failed, Jason even brings up an example of this failure later in the video. The closest a Maoist group has come to a successful "revolution" was the downfall of the King of Nepal, but the King was defeated by a mass alliance of seven political parties and the new Maoist government has been vigoursly denounced by Maoist organisations throughout the world, from Afghanistan to the USA.

He then links these two seemingly completely separate trends (ML Fash, and Maoist Genderists) with a common cause, lack of relevance to the working classes. Here Jason is sorta correct, the Maoists and ML's and Trotskyists (whom Jason doesn't mention) are declining in influence and numbers. Well at least in Britain and Ireland and the USA from what I've heard from American friends. Jason tells his audience to look at the numbers, but doesn't show the numbers, apparently Jason wants his audience to do his work for him. But it is correct anecdotely speaking these groups used to be fairly prominent at Mayday demonstrations and Trade Union marches, but their presence has decreased at each march I attended, and several organisations have collapsed over the years. But I doubt this has much to do with gender fixation or Fascist leanings. For a start this Gender stuff is apparently a new trend but Maoism has never had a big presence in the British Labour movement, in America they were more noticeable, but they peaked in the 70's. Most of the Maoist groups shrunk and collapsed in the 80's and 90's which is before this Gender stuff became fashionable, I assume. I'm also not convinced that gender is alienating the working masses from embracing interpretations of 1940's era Chinese politics. But I can't be sure because I don't know what he's talking about*.

The closest we get to a piece of evidence actually seems to contradict his own assertion. Jason brings up the Revolutionary Communist Party of Canada, but then says they're small and marginal despite downplaying gender. This would suggest that the relative decline of Maoist parties would have little at all to do with Gender then would it not? Apparently not, it seems the Canadians flaws lay elsewhere. Now I'm going to give Jason the benefit of the doubt and assume he knows warfare pre-dates the existence of firearms and that what he meant to say was that its fraudulent for Canadian Maoists to claim to be fighting a People's War without some sort of armed wing. Seems reasonable, but looking up the RCPC program's section on People's War, it states that the RCPC is preparing for People's War and that it sees this war as being protracted and long and that it will first involve a lot of work, building their movement, boycotting elections, boycotting the state etc, and only engaging in insurrection when they believe the time is right. Apparently Jason must think the time is right for the insurrection and the establishment of the Toronto Commune, right now. Basically Jason is advocating that a small group of students get some guns and then get themselves killed. Unless Jason honestly believes a Guerilla army can topple the Canadian state -in which case he should be busy trying to start his own band of freedom fighters, surely?- right now, this complaint is petulant and potentially very dangerous. I have no love for Maoism but what Jason is (I hope accidentally) doing here is trying to shame a group of people into getting themselves and other people killed, in a fight they couldn't possibly win.

Now Jason isn't well known as a competent speaker, he's often incoherent and his seeming inability to cite his sources or back up his statements often kills what little sense you can scrape out of his more baffling statements. Here I can only surmise that he is advocating an insurrection this very second, since he doesn't criticise the doctrine just the RCPC's lack of progress in building their own Red Army. This is simply a shocking level of callousness, and I honestly hope the explanation for such a statement is his own intellectual laziness. It also raises another question, does Jason believe that an insurrection, by nature a clandestine affair waged primarily in the wilderness, led by students would be more appealing to the Canadian proletariat? Are Canadian workers really itching to live in wilds being hunted by Canadian security forces?

Actually there is a silver lining of a sort here, it seems clear that Jason a self described Maoist, doesn't actually understand what Protracted People's War means. Mao's lecture which were compiled in 1938 as On Protracted War, were about China's military situation resisting Japan, since the army of the Empire of Japan was superior to the Republic of China's armies and the Communist partisan units Mao argued against conventional large scale battles in favour of smaller skirmishes and ambushes. Which honestly strikes me as simple common sense really. If you don't regiments and a well supplied and coordinated logistical wing, don't plan to fight like a General with a battle line. He also argued against a weapon centric attitude to conflict in favour of a people centric view.

48. This is the so-called theory that "weapons decide everything", which constitutes a mechanical approach to the question of war and a subjective and one-sided view. Our view is opposed to this; we see not only weapons but also people. Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things, that are decisive. The contest of strength is not only a contest of military and economic power, but also a contest of human power and morale. Military and economic power is necessarily wielded by people. If the great majority of the Chinese, of the Japanese and of the people of other countries are on the side of our War of Resistance Against Japan, how can Japan's military and economic power, wielded as it is by a small minority through coercion, count as superiority?

Basically what he's getting at is that a war involves more than a clash of arms, and requires political and economic actions. I'll say this for the RCPC their statement on Protracted War is far closer to Mao's speeches when stripped of their references to the Chinese resistance to Japan.

Moving on Jason claims that Marxism globally is weak and laments that we don't live in the area of Soviet tanks and Maoist Guerrilla's, showing how little Youtube's number one Marxist understands Marxism, and basic history. Not only were the regimes of Eastern Europe not Marxist, they differed from Social Democracy and the Paris Commune both movements Karl Marx did endorse, but they also failed, that's probably the most important thing to remember, the Soviet Union was a global superpower, and it failed utterly in all of its aims. It didn't manage to transition to Communism, it didn't hold back Western Imperialism, it didn't a free and open society for its citizenry and it didn't survive as a political system. Maoism did not sweep Asia in the 60's it failed outside China, the only successful "Communist" movements in Asia, (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) owed their success to the collapse of America and France in the region, and massive handouts from the Soviet Union and the PRC. Laos and Vietnam were very close to the Soviet Union, and Cambodia remained tied to China for support against its neighbour Vietnam, none of these regimes were Maoist in a sense that means anything. Same was true of Latin America, the only successful resistance movements of note, the Sandinista's and Castro's 26th of July Movement weren't Maoists, neither were most of the other groups that grew powerful enough to worry their governments. The only exception were the Peruvian Shining Path, and they failed. And probably a good thing that they did too, given how brutal they were in their `Revolutionary base areas`

And as for Europe, the Soviet Union et alls brutal repression of its own working classes  ensured a collapse in support for the Communist parties in the East and a mass Exodus in the West. Hungary 56, and Czechoslovakia 1968 where the most obvious examples but there was no shortage of them. It also didn't help that the populations of Europe were on the receiving end of Soviet military posturing. It's hard to recruit amongst the workers when your best example is pointing missiles at their families.

Moving on again, we now get a list of reformist movements that didn't lead to an uprising, despite the claims of some. Mixed in with some admissions that third world Guerilla armies haven't toppled the pyramid of imperialism and are actually exhausting themselves. I guess that means grabbing guns and going off into the wilderness to fight the running dogs of the bourgeoisie isn't so effective hey? He continues to equate revolution with fighting in the bush and lamenting the decline of it. The revolution is not the army, historically People's armies have a very poor record in military terms, and the few revolutionary regimes they manage to put in power turn out to be not very revolutionary at all.

If this is Marxism (and for the record it isn't) I say let it die. Thankfully it isn't, and the class struggle continues to be waged and will continue to ebb and flow until its finally solved once and for all.

Jason is quite welcome to waste his time "updating" things, I just hope that when he's doing crafting his Unruhist party program he'll stop referring to himself as a Marxist and a Communist. He should also stop calling himself a Maoist but I won't lose any sleep if he doesn't. 

Oh and I find it very amusing that his patreon link flashed on the screen when he was castigating his viewers for not doing anything, accident or well timed plug?

*A bit of an aside, at around 02:30 in his video lamentation about Maoism, Jason mentions that in addition to not being able to reach "the workers" (tm) these groups also can't reach the "black masses". This is a bizarre remark, surely the black masses, like the masses and the people include non proletarian black people, like black businessmen, so why on earth would any Revolutionary group even try to appeal to a group to initiate a Revolution when it includes non revolutionary classes and sections of society?

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