Sunday, 15 July 2018

Wall of Shame - When Memes go Wrong

Vladimir Lenin,

"Like a terrifying spectre there approaches ... an alliance of the Bolsheviks with Germany. A Bolshevik alliance with German imperialism would be the most frightful moral blow for international socialism ... With the grotesque 'mating' between Lenin and Hindenburg the moral source of light in the East would be extinguished ... Socialist revolution ... under the patronage of German imperialism.... that would be the most monstrous thing that we could still experience. And furthermore, it would be ... pure utopia ... Any political downfall of the Bolsheviks in noble struggle against the superior force and unkindness of the historical situation would be preferable to this moral downfall.
Rosa Luxemburg


Well this one seems uncontroversial, he wasn't a Marxist Leninist since that was a thing created by Stalin after he had died. But Lenin's career did have him be responsible for the deployment of troops and armoured cars against opposition on many occasions, including massacres of workers and peasants. Even other early supporters like Gorki denounced some of them like the shooting of demonstrating workers when the Bolsheviks abolished the Constituent Assembly.

"For a hundred years the best people of Russia lived with the hope of a Constituent Assembly. In this struggle for this idea thousands of the intelligentsia perished and tens of thousands of workers and peasants... The unarmed revolutionary democracy of Petersburg - workers, officials - were peacefully demonstrating in favour of the Constituent Assembly. Pravda lies when it writes that the demonstration was organized by the bourgeoisie and by the bankers.... Pravda knows that the workers of the Obukhavo, Patronnyi and other factories were taking part in the demonstrations. And these workers were fired upon. And Pravda may lie as much as it wants, but it cannot hide the shameful facts."
However that does also bring up the question of why Trotsky isn't on this list? He was Lenin's collaborator and more importantly as head of the Red army was responsible for much of the brutality and repression meted out by the Bolsheviks to their opponents when Lenin was in charge, most infamously in Astrakhan and Kronstadt.

Stalinists regard Trotsky as the arch heretic, but as we will see this list includes Trotskyists and some Trot adjacents, so I don't see why he's being excluded in this case, he certainly fits the definition a lot better than a few others on the list.

Oh but on anti American there's a serious issue though. Lenin was an admirer of America, particularly its efficient organisation of work. He was a vocal supporter of the American efficiency saving system known as Taylorism. You may not be familiar with the name Taylorism, but if you've ever had a job for a largeish employer, you've almost certainly experienced a version of it.

Indeed in 1914 he wrote in The Taylor System-Man's Enslavement by the Machine, that application of Taylor's system to the entire distribution of labour in society could transform it. 

The question naturally arises: What about the distribution of labour in society as a whole? What a vast amount of labour is wasted at present owing to the disorganised and chaotic character of capitalist production as a whole! How much time is wasted as the raw materials pass to the factory through the hands of hundreds of buyers and middlemen, while the requirements of the market are unknown! Not only time, but the actual products are wasted and damaged. And what about the waste of time and labour in delivering the finished goods to the consumers through a host of small middlemen who, too, cannot know the requirements of their customers and perform not only a host of superfluous movements, but also make a host of superfluous purchases, journeys, and so on and so forth!

Capital organises and rationalises labour within the factory for the purpose of increasing the exploitation of the workers and increasing profit. In social production as a whole, however, chaos continues to reign and grow, leading to crises when the accumulated wealth cannot find purchasers, and millions of workers starve because they are unable to find employment.

The Taylor system—without its initiators knowing or wishing it—is preparing the time when the proletariat will take over all social production and appoint its own workers’ committees for the purpose of properly distributing and rationalising all social labour. Large-scale production, machinery, railways, telephone—all provide thousands of opportunities to cut by three-fourths the working time of the organised workers and make them four times better off than they are today.
It wasn't just talk either Lenin's economic reforms pushed for the break up of the factory committees and the implementation of the Taylor system.

"Piece-rates must be put on the agenda, applied in practice and tried out; we must apply much that is scientific and progressive in the Taylor system (...)'' [31] Lenin, not the workers, decides what is put 'on the agenda', but the workers, not Lenin, will try out the piece-rates.

This attitude was reflected at the 1st All-Russian Trade Union Congress held in January 1918. The factory committees were attacked for not being organised, or disciplined or experienced enough. Members of the Central Council of Factory Committees were not there to argue their case. The Bolshevik Gastev proposed a resolution that was passed almost unanimously which argued for the industrial reconstruction of Russia with foreign capital, for the implementation of Taylorism (piece-rates, time and motion studies etc), for the raising of productivity and discipline, for workers to be moved as required, and for private ownership to remain. This approach was agreed in March at the 4th Conference of Trade Unions.[3]
So on the grounds of opposing Western ideas its a lot shakier. Lenin did lead a government in military conflict with western powers, but at the same time his government was importing western modes of production. Class warfare is often described and equated with for want of a better word "normal" warfare between competing nations, but its about more than that if you don't succeed in fundamentally reorganising society you've failed even if you manage to wreck the enemy army. 

This is often written off as an ultra leftist criticism but Lenin himself was open about the building of a capitalist economy.

"State capitalism is that form of capitalism which we shall be in a position to restrict, to establish its limits; this capitalism is bound up with the State, and the State - that is the workers, the most advanced part of the workers, the vanguard, is us. And it is we on whom the nature of this state capitalism will depend."

Its also true that Lenin's government made peace and cooperation with western powers too, such as Rapallo with Germany in 1922, and the treaty of Moscow with Turkey in 1921, which didn't help the Turkish Communist whose leaders were killed by the Turkish government in 1921. The Soviet Union seems to have shrugged its shoulders and continued pursuing good relations with Ankara. So peaceful coexistence wasn't an impossibility for Lenin either, so long as the other party was willing to give a good deal.

Josef Stalin -

The Georgian [Stalin] who is neglectful of this aspect of the question, or who carelessly flings about accusations of "nationalist-socialism" (whereas he himself is a real and true "nationalist-socialist", and even a vulgar Great-Russian bully), violates, in substance, the interests of proletarian class solidarity, for nothing holds up the development and strengthening of proletarian class solidarity so much as national injustice;
V.I. Lenin

Stalin's inclusion seems pretty accurate, though its worth noting that he was even more and enthusiastic supporter of the Taylor system and quite prepared to sign treaties of alliance and co-operation with other powers. Also despite Stalin being heavily associated with and adored by many modern Tankies it should be remembered that the original Tankie gave a speech denouncing him for causing quite a lot of harm to the Marxist-Leninist movement.

After Stalin’s death, the Central Committee began to implement a policy of explaining concisely and consistently that it is impermissible and foreign to the spirit of Marxism-Leninism to elevate one person, to transform him into a superman possessing supernatural characteristics, akin to those of a god. Such a man supposedly knows everything, sees everything, thinks for everyone, can do anything, is infallible in his behavior.

Such a belief about a man, and specifically about Stalin, was cultivated among us for many years. The objective of the present report is not a thorough evaluation of Stalin’s life and activity. Concerning Stalin’s merits, an entirely sufficient number of books, pamphlets and studies had already been written in his lifetime. The role of Stalin in the preparation and execution of the Socialist Revolution, in the Civil War, and in the fight for the construction of socialism in our country, is universally known. Everyone knows it well.

At present, we are concerned with a question which has immense importance for the Party now and for the future – with how the cult of the person of Stalin has been gradually growing, the cult which became at a certain specific stage the source of a whole series of exceedingly serious and grave perversions of Party principles, of Party democracy, of revolutionary legality.

Because not all as yet realize fully the practical consequences resulting from the cult of the individual, [or] the great harm caused by violation of the principle of collective Party direction and by the accumulation of immense and limitless power in the hands of one person, the Central Committee considers it absolutely necessary to make material pertaining to this matter available to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Allow me first of all to remind you how severely the classics of Marxism-Leninism denounced every manifestation of the cult of the individual.
Stalin originated the concept “enemy of the people.” This term automatically made it unnecessary that the ideological errors of a man or men engaged in a controversy be proven. It made possible the use of the cruelest repression, violating all norms of revolutionary legality, against anyone who in any way disagreed with Stalin, against those who were only suspected of hostile intent, against those who had bad reputations. The concept “enemy of the people” actually eliminated the possibility of any kind of ideological fight or the making of one’s views known on this or that issue, even [issues] of a practical nature. On the whole, the only proof of guilt actually used, against all norms of current legal science, was the “confession” of the accused himself. As subsequent probing has proven, “confessions” were acquired through physical pressures against the accused. This led to glaring violations of revolutionary legality and to the fact that many entirely innocent individuals – [persons] who in the past had defended the Party line – became victims.


Though despite dying before 1956 Stalin was no slouch in the crushing of workers revolts. For example he made a deal with Winston Churchill to divide up Eastern Europe, they did this on a napkin. That isn't a joke, here's a scan of that napkin

Its hard to make out but in essence it said this

CountriesSoviet PercentagesUK Percentages
 Bulgaria 75% → 80% 25% → 20%
 Greece 10% 90%
 Hungary 50% → 80% 50% → 20%
 Romania 90% 10%
 Yugoslavia 50% 50%
Now aside from an act of blatant Imperialism between two regional powers at the expense of weaker nations this caused another serious problem. Yugoslavia and Greece had very large and active Communist movements, and both decided it was time for a seizure of power. The Yugoslav communists succeeded under the leadership of Tito whose further down the list, however his Greek counterpart is not on the list because he was killed.

Not only did the Soviet Union not help the Greek communist partisans in their struggle he actively took action to throttle it.

In December of 1945 a republican army (DSE) had been founded based out of Yugoslavia, by 1947 this held 100 villages. In March of 1945 US congress allowed 300 million in aid, 50% of which was military. The DSE ranks swelled to 23,000 as people fled the terror in the towns but they were becoming increasing isolated from the working class, seeing the campaign purely in terms of getting a large enough town to call a capital so Moscow would recognise them. US aid continued to flood into the government. Opposition papers were closed on US insistence and the right to strike abolished. In November 1947 a joint US-Greek army staff was established. Britain donated 50 spitfires equipped with the new Napalm bombs.

The DSE was growing still, it was now much bigger than the anti-Nazi partisan forces had been but it was reliant on bases in Yugoslavia. Stalin however was clear «the uprising in Greece must be stopped, and a quickly as possible». The US for the first time found itself in its post war dilemma, how to appear as the force for democracy while backing corrupt regimes.

On June 28th 1948 Yugoslavia was expelled from the conform. The Greek CP backed Stalin which was a disaster as they were reliant on Yugoslav bases and supplies. Many KKE members left refusing to follow the Kremlin line on Tito. Part of the anti-tetoism was reorganising the partisan forces as a regular army which was of course a military disaster, serving to give the Greek air force a clear target. By late summer 1949 they had been driven out of Greece and into Albania and in 16th October the Civil war ended.

He did also end the limited toleration for homosexuality by the Soviet government, with the passing of Article 154, which would later on become Article 121. Here's one account of what life as a convicted homosexual was like in the Soviet prison system.

The first convicted homosexual to come out was the Leningrad poet Gennady Trifonov. In December 1977, he sent the following open letter to Literaturnaya Gazeta from Camp No. 398/38 in the western Urals:

“I have experienced every possible nightmare and horror; it is impossible to get used to it. Over a period of 18 months I have seen daily what it is to be a convicted homosexual in a Soviet camp. The position of gays in the death camps of the Third Reich was nothing compared to this. They had a clear prospect for the future-the gas chamber. We lead a half-animal existence, condemned to die of hunger, nursing secret dreams of contracting some deadly disease for a few days peace in a bunk in sickbay.

“I know people who have either forgotten the end of their prison term, or who have not managed physically to survive that long. Their bodies were taken off the electric wire; they were found hanging in prison cells, tortured to death by prisoners in bestial mood or beaten by guards, mad. I know their names; I have access to the written evidence of witnesses. In a year and a half of this hell I have carefully studied 22 convictions for homosexuality in the USSR. If this information reaches the West, I will be accused of slander and physically liquidated. It won't take much. They will set a group of convicts who have lost all semblance of humanity against me and certify my death ‘in the natural way’.

I think this is worth bringing up since there is still in existence a rump of Stalin admirers whom defend the terrorisation of homosexuals and other Queer people, the rest sadly just twist themselves in knots so they don't have to confront the issue head on.

Though amusingly his inclusion causes problems further down the line, as we shall see.

Mao Zedong-

The Chinese revolution won victory by acting contrary to Stalin’s will. The fake foreign devil [in Lu Hsün’s True Story of Ah Q] ‘did not allow people to make revolution’. But our Seventh Congress advocated going all out to mobilize the masses and to build up all available revolutionary forces in order to establish a new China. During the quarrel with Wang Ming from 1937 to August 1938, we put forward ten great policies, while Wang Ming produced sixty policies. If we had followed Wang Ming’s, or in other words Stalin’s, methods the Chinese revolution couldn’t have succeeded. When our revolution succeeded, Stalin said it was a fake.


Another fairly good choice for this list, Mao actually openly urged Khrushchev to intervene militarily in Hungary in 1956.

Then in the evening Liu Shaoqi called Mao. Mao changed his earlier stand that the Russians should leave and agreed with the delegation’s conclusion, because, in addition to Liu’s report, he had been receiving daily situation reports from Hungary written by Ho Deqing, the Chinese ambassador, and Hu Jibang, chief correspondent of the People’s Daily in Budapest. But he said it would be better if the Russians would wait a while to let more antirevolutionaries expose themselves--a typical Maoist tactic later on used to smoke out China’s Rightists. After calling Mao, the Chinese requested an emergency meeting with the Russians. In the meeting, Liu Shaoqi, vice chairman of the CCP’s central committee, strongly suggested that Khrushchev not “give up” in Hungary but make more efforts to save the situation, while Deng Xiaoping, the general secretary of the CCP, explicitly urged that the Russian army return to the capital and seize the government. [4]
And when the Cultural Revolution seemed like it was going beyond his limits he turned to the People's Liberation Army to save him by smashing the most radical elements of the Red Guards.
General Xu's repression of radicals reached its apogee by 1970. In a year long "Drag Out May 16" campaign directed against alleged "ultra-leftists", over 100,000 people were accused of leftist heresies; many were executed, imprisoned, or exiled to labour camps.[5] 

 And about anti western, to quote an old Vulcan proverb, "only Nixon could go to China"

When the war was still going on, when the Americans were killing and bombing in Vietnam and the whole of Indochina, China held secret talks with the Americans in which the agreement was reached that Nixon should go to Peking and, as it turned out, discussions about Vietnam were also held. These disgraceful, anti-Marxist, uncomradely negotiations were held without the knowledge of the Vietnamese, let alone any knowledge on our part. This was scandalous. This was a betrayal of the Chinese towards the Vietnamese, towards their war, towards us, their allies, and all the other progressive peoples. This is revolting. The conclusions of Chou En-lai's talks with Kissinger fell like a bombshell on us Albanians, on the Vietnamese, the Koreans, not to mention the others. The Khan of Pakistan was considered worthy to be the first to be informed about «the secrets of the gods». What shamelessness on the part of the Chinese!
Enver Hoxha

Yes, in 1972 President Nixon visited China and it opened the door for normalisation of diplomatic and economic ties. But even before Mao's China often found itself on the same side as the USA in te Cold War against the Soviet Union.  For example both the United States and the People's Republic supported Pinochet's dictatorship.

A Chinese-Chilean friendship delegation

I think its worth quoting fully this short article from 1975

Chinese bureaucracy offered support to Pinochet  
The following first appeared in the Dec. 8, 1975, issue of the magazine Intercontinental Press, under the headline, "Peking Wins Good Word from Pinochet." We are publishing it because of the facts it reveals about the record of the Chinese ruling bureaucracy.
At a time when the Pinochet dictatorship's murderous repression of political opponents has isolated it internationally to the point that the blood-soaked regime is even a public embarrassment to the White House, help has arrived from the Maoist bureaucracy in Peking.
"The Chilean military junta, increasingly isolated and beleaguered at home and abroad, is seeking stronger ties with China, one of its few remaining friends," Hugh O'Shaughnessy reported in the November 23 issue of the Observer.
"Commandant Gaston Frez, head of Codelco, the Chilean State copper corporation," O'Shaughnessy continued, "announced in Santiago last week that China would increase its imports of Chilean copper from 8,000 tons this year to 34,000 tons in 1976."
A substantial loan from Peking is reported to be part of the deal. In a recent interview with Pinochet, New York Times columnist C.L. Sulzberger asked if there were any truth to a rumor he had heard that "Chile was discussing with Peking a $58-million loan to this tottering economy" as part of the copper negotiations.
"Much to my surprise," Sulzberger said in his November 29 column, "he confirmed this."
According to Sulzberger, Pinochet "said discussions with the Chinese had begun during the Allende era but were being continued now, after having been suspended. 'The matter remains open and the loan is still pending,' he added."
Sulzberger, apparently still skeptical, sought verification of Pinochet's statement, with the following results:
"I confirmed this in conversation with the Chilean who has been a principal negotiating contact with Peking's ambassador, a man he describes as 'very, very patient.'"
Pinochet has every reason to be pleased with Peking's diplomatic representatives.
Following the coup in September 1973, the Chinese embassy in Santiago closed its doors to all political refugees. While working people were being gunned down by the thousands and political prisoners were being executed and tortured, Peking's embassy turned desperate refugees away, leaving them to the mercy of the Chilean gorillas.
Furthermore, in face of a worldwide outcry against the slaughter, Peking refused even to break off diplomatic relations with the regime.
Instead, on October 11, 1973, Peking told the pro-Allende ambassador to China, Armando Uribe, that he was no longer recognized as Chile's representative. By November 5, a representative of the military dictatorship was reported to be in Peking to take Uribe's place.
For the sake of diplomatic and trade concessions, Peking has once again betrayed the most elementary principles of proletarian internationalism. In doing so it has won approval from Pinochet.
"China has behaved well," he told Sulzberger. 
Support for regimes like Pinochet's Chile and Mobutu's Zaire

Huang Hua, China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Zaire recently to meet with President Mobutu and discuss the possibilities of Chinese military aid for this African country. Shortly afterwards, two delegations of Chinese military advisors arrived in Zaire to train some of the country’s 800 sailors, artillerymen and tank drivers.

The visits of the Chinese leaders are linked to the current situation in that part of the world. For the second time in 14 months, Zaire has had to appeal for foreign military aid to fight off invasion of its territory by Katangan mercenaries trained and oufitted by Soviet imperialists and their Cuban agents in Africa. To counter these attacks, Morocco intervened in March 1977 in support of Zaire by sending an expeditionary force of 3,000 men airlifted into the area on planes provided by France. More recently, France, Belgium, Great Britain and the United States have had to bail out Zaire by providing soldiers, technicians and military equipment to throw back the invaders.

The current leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) consider this an important victory. They commented on events in 1977 by saying:

During the Zaire event last year, Moscow’s plot was smashed, thanks to the persistent struggle of the international united: front against hegemony. (Peking Review, April 21, 1978)
These strange turns actually became part of Mao's ideology with Mao's Three Worlds Theory. This theory proved quite controversial even amongst international Maoists. Here's a quotation from the Progressive Labor Party journal.

China’s Foreign Policy: Alliance with U.S. Imperialism

In spite of all the turmoil in China during the last year, China’s foreign policy hasn’t changed very much. The new leadership is carrying on the reactionary policies laid down by Mao and the recently purged “gang of four.”

The Chinese leadership justifies their support for counter-revolution with the ridiculous theory that the world is divided into three “camps.” The “first world” is said to be the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., the two superpowers. Then comes the “second world,” which includes Europe, Japan, Canada, etc. Finally there is the “third world,” which includes everybody else. Each of the superpowers is said to be seeking “hegemony” over the whole world; the Chinese leaders call on the “second world” to unite with the “third world” in opposing “hegemonism.”


Not content with supporting “third world” fascists, the Chinese leaders have been cozying up to the capitalists in the “second world” (Europe, Japan, Canada). The Chinese press praises the European Common Market as an example of how the “second world” should “unite to oppose the superpowers”–without mentioning the struggles of European workers for higher pay, better conditions, and an end to racist discrimination against foreign workers. The Chinese leaders invited a stream of European prime ministers to Peking–not to discuss the need for socialist revolution in Europe, but to learn from the European ruling class how to make China into a junior imperialist power.

The common explanation for the PRC/USSR extreme hostility differs depending on the sympathies of the teller. Sympathises of Mao say it was the unfortunate but inevitable result of the revisionism of the Soviet leadership, especially Khrushchev. The pro Moscow crowd meanwhile lament Mao Zedong's extreme fanatical fervour and inability to see the world as it is.

Both explanations overlook the tense history of the CPSU and CCP, from 1927 if not earlier the relationship was extremely tense after the Soviet encouraged alliance between the CCP and the Goumindang (Nationalist party)  resulted in the latter betraying and massacring the Communist party and trade unionists. The famous Long March begun in 1934 occurred because the Nationalist army had begun to break through the defences of the Communist parties remaining stronghold the Soviet Republic in Jiangxi. Mao's rise through the party was largely the result of his winning of factional fights with rivals who were much closer to the Soviet Union than Mao was.

Indeed in 1954 the CCP carried out a purge against senior members they feared were too close to the Soviet Union and its less than comradely ties in Manchuria.

The political downfall of Gao Gang, and the expulsion of his followers
from the Party, was determined at a December 1953 Politburo meeting and
formalized by the Party’s Central Committee in February of 1954. Gao was
charged with having set up an “independent kingdom” in Manchuria (independent,
that is, of the government in Beijing) and having organized a
conspiracy to seize state power. Allegedly, he conveniently responded to the
accusations by committing suicide. It is a reflection of the secretiveness
that enshrouds political decisions in the People’s Republic that the purge
was not revealed to the Chinese people until more than a year later, in
March 1955 .
What was not publicly mentioned at all was the fear of Soviet political
penetration that Gao’s “independent kingdom” in Manchuria symbolized.
While there is little evidence to substantiate the vague charges of any nationwide
conspiracy to seize power, there is much to suggest that Gao had
close political ties with the Russians, who continued to exercise strong influence
in Manchuria long after their postwar military occupation of the region
had ended. Soviet aid had restored the heavy industrial base of
Manchuria after Soviet troops had carried away much of Manchurian industry
as “war booty” during the occupation period. The Russians controlled
the joint Sino-Soviet stock companies, established in 1950, and
retained their hold on the Chinese Eastern Railroad (and its economic subsidiaries)
as well as Dairen and Port Arthur. These were not returned to
Chinese control until 1955, after the death of Stalin and the removal of
Gao Gang. Wlule Gao Gang reigned in Manchuria, however, Soviet economic
and political influence also was dominant. Gao reportedly went on a
mission to Moscow as early as 1945.30 He did so again in July of 1949,
when in his capacity as head of the People’s Govermnent of the Northeast
(Manchuria), he negotiated an economic agreement with the Soviet Union,
several months before the formal establishment of the People’s Republic in
Beijing and before Mao’s negotiations with Stalin in February 1950. Moreover,
Gao was the foremost advocate of Soviet methods of industrial organization,
and nowhere were these methods introduced and pursued more
rigorously than in Manchuria, China’s major center of heavy industry
The Gao Gang affair was partly a case of what it was presented to be—
a case of a region acquiring an intolerable degree of autonomy from the
central government. But Gao’s “independent kingdom” in Manchuria was
intimately tied to Soviet predominance in an area which historically had
been a key object of Russian expansionism in East Asia.

So not a great example of a team player, but given his role in the brutal repression of workers and communist in China and abroad I think the label of Tankie does fit, he was after all a supporter of  Soviet intervention in Hungary so even in the purist sense he qualifies.

"The Soviet Union is our example" from 1953, just one year before the purges against pro USSR party members.

Karl Marx- I was expecting this one, I could just re-read my Listen Gamer! article, but instead I'll just say this, according to Engels in his preface to the Civil War in France the Paris Commune was an example of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. If so that invalidates him as a Tankie because the Commune was in essence the opposite to the police state of Stalin. The commune was established and supported by a popular militia the National Guard, with elected officers. In addition to the Communal council which was elected and came to decisions through debate, every arrondissment of Paris had its own popular committees and clubs, most workplaces were run by workers committees too.

How about anti-western? In a word no. If anything Marx would be pro western, he was a member of the German democratic movement, at the same time he wrote the Manifesto his newspaper was publishing article after article advocating Democratic republicanism. That infamous Tankie sounding quote about Terror,

We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror. 

is from an article wishing for the rise of a German republic. He went further and argued that revolution could only be viable in nations like England because it was only there where the proletarian class had developed in both size and contradiction with the capitalist economic system.

The [political] emancipation of Europe, either in the form of raising the oppressed nationalities to independence or of the final overthrow of feudal absolutism, is conditioned upon the victorious rising of the French working class. But any social revolutionary upheaval in Europe must necessarily miscarry, unless the English bourgeoisie or the industrial and commercial supremacy of Great Britain is shaken. Any aspiration for a lasting, though partial social transformation in France or any other part of the European Continent must remain an empty, pious wish. And old England will only be overthrown in a world war, which alone would give the Chartist Party, the organised English Labour Party, the possibility of a successful rising against its stupendous oppressor. The Chartists at the head of the English Government – only from this moment would the social revolution emerge from the realm of Utopia and enter the sphere of reality...
And of course Karl Marx became one of the founders of German Social Democracy, which eventually coalesced into a political party that stood in elections when the government didn't try to ban it. Funnily enough the SPD would go on to play a Tankieish role in 1918 and bloodily crush a workers revolt, but he had been dead for years at that point and can't really be held responsible for its shifts and turns.

He would also work for a Republican newspaper -as in GOP- in the 1850s-60s as a foreign correspondent. He also supported Abraham Lincoln as a progressive force in the US Civil war. So not really feeling the anti western fighter angle either.

Oh and since the maker of the collage brought up the Commune, Karl Marx actually wrote a pretty famous book called the Civil in France, largely as a rebuttal to the critics of the Paris Commune.

The direct antithesis to the empire was the Commune. The cry of "social republic", with which the February Revolution was ushered in by the Paris proletariat, did but express a vague aspiration after a republic that was not only to supercede the monarchical form of class rule, but class rule itself. The Commune was the positive form of that republic.

Paris, the central seat of the old governmental power, and, at the same time, the social stronghold of the French working class, had risen in arms against the attempt of Thiers and the Rurals to restore and perpetuate that old governmental power bequeathed to them by the empire. Paris could resist only because, in consequence of the siege, it had got rid of the army, and replaced it by a National Guard, the bulk of which consisted of working men. This fact was now to be transformed into an institution. The first decree of the Commune, therefore, was the suppression of the standing army, and the substitution for it of the armed people.

The Commune was formed of the municipal councillors, chosen by universal suffrage in the various wards of the town, responsible and revocable at short terms. The majority of its members were naturally working men, or acknowledged representatives of the working class. The Commune was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time

He wasn't above making criticisms of the actions of the Communards but its clear his sympathy is with it.

Indeed his sympathies were so well known he soon found himself the target of a press campaign blaming him for the whole thing.

When asked about the Commune during an interview he rubbished the claims of conspiracy but maintained his support.

Dr. Marx: There is nothing to prove that this is the case.

I: And the last uprising in Paris?

Dr. Marx: First of all I would ask you to prove that there was any kind of a conspiracy and that everything which occurred was not simply the inevitable result of the existing circumstances. And even if we assume that there was a conspiracy, I would still ask you to prove to me that the International Association took part in it.

I: The presence of so many members of the Association in the Commune.

Dr. Marx: Then it could just as easily have been a conspiracy of Freemasons, for their individual part in it was not small by any means. I really would not be surprised if the Pope did try to push the whole uprising onto their account. But let us try to find another explanation. The uprising in Paris was carried out by the Parisian workers. The most capable workers must therefore have been the ones who led it and carried it out; yet the most capable workers are also members of the International Association. But nevertheless, the Association need not be responsible for their actions in any way.

Freidrich Engels - Well Engels did write that terrible On Authority, so it would seem like he counts, but again there's some issues. Engels did take part in a revolution, it was around the same time the Manifesto was being published and he fought alongside another early communist called August Willich. So does it bear much resemblance to the events of Hungary? Well no, that revolt was the uprising of Baden in 1849 and it was an uprising to establish a democratic republic. Essentially a United States of Germany.

And his Principles of Communism, has a section stressing the importance of democracy, as a communist principle and path to socialism.

Above all, it will establish a democratic constitution, and through this, the direct or indirect dominance of the proletariat. Direct in England, where the proletarians are already a majority of the people. Indirect in France and Germany, where the majority of the people consists not only of proletarians, but also of small peasants and petty bourgeois who are in the process of falling into the proletariat, who are more and more dependent in all their political interests on the proletariat, and who must, therefore, soon adapt to the demands of the proletariat. Perhaps this will cost a second struggle, but the outcome can only be the victory of the proletariat.
Democracy would be wholly valueless to the proletariat if it were not immediately used as a means for putting through measures directed against private property and ensuring the livelihood of the proletariat. The main measures, emerging as the necessary result of existing relations, are the following:
There is more, but he broadly agreed with Marx which is why the two are often seen as synonymous.

I do however want to go back to the Commune briefly, the version of Civil War in France I read has a preface by Engels written in 1891 were he claims the Paris Commune was an example of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat

Of late, the Social-Democratic philistine has once more been filled with wholesome terror at the words: Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Well and good, gentlemen, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

Fidel Castro -

“The Cuban revolution has given birth to a bourgeoisie, to repressive apparatuses meant to defend from the people a bureaucracy very distant from that same people. But above all it has been anti-democratic because of the religious messianism of its leader...
 the criminalisation of difference, the means of persecution of homosexuals, hippies, free thinkers, trade unionists and poets...
 All my criticisms of Fidel Castro start from his distancing from libertarian ideas, of his treason committed against the people of Cuba and the frightful system of vigilance established to preserve the State by crushing people...
 Sometimes we tend to judge reality from our desires, and that's a problem. I would like to see changes in Cuba, but that is not happening. In the collective imagination of Cuba, change is associated with the death of Fidel Castro. The political system on the island has behaved like a monarchy, and Fidel has ensured a monitoring of the succession, and that delays any change. "
Canek Sanchez Guevara (Ernesto Che Guevara's grandson) 

A good choice, Castro's Cuba was often called Sunshine Stalinism for a reason. And his credentials as a thorn in the side of the United States are well known. In fact I know of an incident where the Cuban army used tanks to crush dissent.

On the 27th of May in 1977 Cuban tanks attacked a rival movement within the MPLA, thousands were killed.

“Não vamos perder tempo com julgamentos, não havera mais perdão.” 
In Sambizanga, hundreds of Cubans soldiers were sent in to clean the place out. Both Mateus and Z spoke of absolute terror. One move and the army would shoot. They both believe the Cubans were told to fire at lots of people simply to frighten the population and bring the situation under control. It was, says Z, “a persecution of man against man”.
And it was to get worse. Mateus remembers the 28 May as one of the worst in his life. “The tanks came into Sambizanga and cleaned up the whole place. They destroyed more than 100 houses here,” he points to a row of low ramshackled buildings in front of us, “They just drove their tanks straight over these – for years, no one would build here, it was known as the sinister area, and was just abandoned – and then the Cubans started their hunt for the football players.”


So the shoe fits to borrow the expression. And unlike some on the list there are many photographs and film reels of Fidel Castro rubbing shoulders with many others on the list, but unfortunately he's also photographed rubbing shoulders with a lot of the people whom overthrew and murdered people on this list, so swings and roundabouts to borrow another phrase.

One thing that gets overlooked in Castro mythology though is that Castro and the 26th of July Movement fought in a revolt that was nationalist with strong democratic overtones in the early days.
The old Communist party the Popular Socialist Party, had supported Batista,

In November 1940, the communists supported Batista's candidates in the elections to the Constituent Assembly. In return for their support, Batista allowed the communists to organize and control the government sponsored union, Cuban Confederation of Labor (CTC Confederacion de Trabajadores de Cuba) The first Secretary General of the CTC was Lazaro Pena--who, ironically, enough, held the same post in the Castro regime. In exchange for these favors the communists guaranteed Batista labor peace.

When asked directly whether he was a Communist or if the movement he was a part of had Communists in it he quickly denied and downplayed the idea.

For example this interview with Clark Galloway in 1959

Clark Galloway: As you may have heard, rumor has it that your brother, Maj. Raul Castro, and Maj. Ernesto Guevara are communists or communist enthusiasts. Those are the rumors. I’d like you to comment on this.
 Fidel Castro: The Twenty-sixth of July Movement is a party of radical ideas, but it is not a Communist movement and it differs from communism in several respects. In a series of essential respects. Do you understand? And in the Twenty-sixth of July Movement there are men like Raul and like Guevara who are very much in agreement with my political thinking.

Castro and the Cuba he controlled wouldn't proclaim Cuba's Socialist path until April of 1961 after the United States had bombed several Cuban airports. The pro-Soviet turn of Cuba didn't happen until after the revolution.

And of course Castro's Cuba carried on the tradition of executions, many of which have been public. Photographs and televised executions were not uncommon, supporters of Castro like to focus on the executions of former Batista officials, framing these as righteous revolutionary vengeance.

The problem is there are also well documented cases of the Cuban revolution devouring its own. Such as General Arnaldo Ochoa, the hero of the famous Cuban mission to Angola. Ochoa had fought alongside Che Guevara in the Cuban Revolution and went on to be an important officer in the Cuban army. However in 1989 to the shock of many he was arrested, charged with drug dealing and then executed.

Now much of this isn't really of interest to Castro's many admirers, they aren't bothered about the realities of the revolution or the executions of enemies even if a few could be considered to have been dealt with overly harshly. The secret of the appeal of Fidel Castro is the naked hatred of him by American administrations and his success in surviving their opposition, from many assassination attempts to bombings to the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion. But it does raise a question, the hostility started before Fidel's open prostrations of support for Communism and the Soviet Union, the current ruling Communist Party of Cuba wasn't founded until 1961.

This means that the ideology Castro adopted and the Soviet Union he embraced was the Khrushchev dominated anti-Stalin version and under Castro Cuba remained a firm friend of the USSR even under Gorbachev and its demise.

There is one area of Fidel Castro's socialist construction that has caused some qualms and caveats in overt praise for the Maximum Leader, the history of Gay Rights and the treatment of homosexuals and other Queer Cubans.

Che Guevara -

Another good choice for the Tankie column, by his own admission he carried out executions to maintain discipline amongst his forces. On Anti-western both he and Fidel have some issues, it depends on whether or not you consider Francoist Spain counts as Western.

Guevara touring Madrid
In 1960 Cuba and Spain signed a commercial accord and it was renewed every year. Indeed Franco's Spain refused to agree to the US's embargo of the country in 1962.  When Franco died Castro declared a three day mourning period.

“In France in 1961 I was at the Cuban Embassy, promised a visa so that I could travel to Cuba to get to grips with Cuban cooperation in our fight; but that visa never came … Castro never broke off elations with Franco and Che Guevara was able to saunter around Spain under the protection of the Francoist police. Franco and Castro became friends.”

Ho Chi Minh - Another good choice, though his most Tankie ish period involved him collaborating with the British so he could attack and destroy the Saigon Commune, the Commune had been established by Trotskyist Vietnamese Communists.

One of the main concerns of the Vietminh Committee was to ensure its ‘recognition' by the British authorities as a de facto government. To this end the committee did everything it could to show its strength and demonstrate its ability to ‘maintain order'.
Ho had previously worked with the OSS a precursor to the CIA. to resist the Japanese during World War II.

OSS Deer Team members pose with Viet Minh leaders Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap during training at Tan Trao in August 1945
I don't bring up the OSS aide to discredit the man, though plenty of people have been denounced for far less by the modern campists. A point I'm trying to make and will continue to make throughout much of this list is that geopolotics is a poor foundation for ideological commitments. Many of the people on this list and other socalled "heroes of socisalism" and "anti-imperialist bastions" are simply monstrous on an individual level. Many have betrayed friends, murdered rivals, and attacked defencless communities. But on the level of domestic and interneational politics they've shown themselves to be active counter revolutionaries who have suceeded in halting attempts at human liberation and emancipation, and have often attacked and subverted other nations to exploit and profit from them. 

Looking at Ho Chi Minh we know that he was passionate in his struggle to liberate Vietnman from foreign control, we also know from the example of the Viet Minh and the North Vietnmese state that he had an equal devotion to controlling that independent Vietnam. 

Kim il Sung
 The collapse of the ruling socialist parties and the frustration of socialism in the Soviet Union and several East European countries in recent years were mainly due to the fact that officials misused their authority and behaved bureaucratically. This had the result that the parties in these countries lost the support of the popular masses. A party, divorced from the popular masses and forsaken by them, is doomed to collapse. Should this happen, socialism cannot maintain its existence. In the final analysis, bureaucratism does the evil work of destroying the mass basis of the working-class party and undermining the socialist system. The great danger of bureaucracy lies precisely here.

I think here is one of the few people on the list to qualify for both categories without much issue, so well done I guess?

Kim il Sung also meets the requirement for anti-western in the philosophical sense, for example his staunch opposition to mixed gender schools.

Kim il Sung had a policy of separating boys and girls at school, and he prohibited marriage until college graduation. it was late in the 1970s when many students who studied in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe came back and became party officials. they had the opinion that a co-educational system was better and sent up a suggestion to Kim il Sung. Kim il Sung was outraged. he said, "Whose idea was this! They're all revisionists! Fire them and re-educate them!" Subsequently, several members of Science Education Department and Education Committee of the Party Political Bureau were terminated and sent to re-indoctrination.

Its often hard to find reliable information on North Korea due to the secrecy of the government and how many of the sources positive and negative have very obvious political bias's. So I find accounts such as the above which come from Hwang Jang-Yop very interesting. Hwang defected from North Korea in 1997 because he believed that Kim Jong Il was a terrible betrayer of Kim Il Sung and spent his years in exile in South Korea trying to promote Kim Il Sung thought while explaining why Jong Il was an unworthy successor.

He's kinda hard to write off as a cheerleader for US Imperialism.

Il Sung's inclusion on this list is also eye brow raising because his relationships with the USSR and PRC were very strained to say the least.
By the end of the decade, mentions of Mao almost disappeared from the North Korean press.
The sudden worsening of relations between the two countries also resulted in a border conflict: the part of the border between the PRC and the DPRK going through Paektu mountain (called Changbai mountain in China) was unregulated. 
The Hungarian embassy in Pyongyang reported that China had presented Pyongyang with an ultimatum: approve the border we suggest, or the People’s Liberation Army will take it by force. North Korea had to yield. Notably, Seoul did not recognize the agreement and officially continued to claim the Chinese part of the mountain.
In 1967, Kim Il Sung issued his May 25 Instructions, which dramatically tightened control of the country. This age saw the DPRK also begin to falsify history, with expressions of gratitude to Soviet liberators and friends of the People’s Volunteers’ Army of China being replaced by panegyrics to Kim – fitting for the new age of isolation.
Chinese citizens in the DPRK fell victims to the new age – just as the Soviet Koreans did a decade earlier. Pyongyang cut them off most of the state-distributed goods – unless they left for China or changed their citizenship to DPR Korean. Very soon, the diaspora vanished nearly completely.

If your looking for a parallel the closest would be Romania, which maintained distance but still had dialogue and economic links with the Soviet Union and China. 

Thomas Sankara

Well Sankara called himself a Marxist - Leninist and was close to Cuba and the Soviet Union. And his regime did rely on the army and the establishment of Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs) which were quite authoritarian.
Thomas Sankara and Fidel Castro

For example striking civil servants and members of the teachers union were dismissed for "sabotage" which seems to be a euphemism for strike action

The TPRs announced the dismissal of over 2,000 civil servants (127). The latter particularly suffered from abuse by these revolutionary tribunals as well as from a high level of taxation (128). On March 22, 1984, more than 1,300 primary school teachers and members of the “Teacher’s Union” (SNEAHV) were dismissed after going on strike. Sankara suspected them of scheming to destabilize the country (129).

He was committed and most famous for his attacks on Neo Colonialism, especially from France, the former colonial power of Burkina Faso. So yeah I can Sankara fitting the bill.

It wasn't all repression, Sankara's Burkina Faso is quite well known for some of its achievements, the ones I've heard most often by supporters involves the inoculation campaigns against polio, meningitis and measles, at least 2.5million were vaccinated by these campaigns earning the country international praise. He was the first African leader to speak out about AIDs as a major epidemic. He was an open supporter of women's rights. The first book I ever bought about him was a collection of speeches on the subject called, Women's Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle.

“Mister President, please hear me out. We have just met. I don’t know Blaise Compaoré and the other leaders. Should you refuse to draft and adopt a constitution, and to get elected, your own are bound to kill one another.
Simple minds will hail the dead and vilify the living.… But the truth will lie elsewhere. It is inscribed in the course of your joint action. You are but in the midst of acting out a Greek tragedy”
 Marco Pannella

Though its worth remembering that his downfall was caused by the authoritarian nature of the regime he lead. In 1987 Thomas Sankara would be deposed and murdered in a coup by his second in command Blaise Compaore. Blaise was the second person on Sankara's Revolutionary Council, and it was an earlier coup by Blaise Compaore in 1983 that put Sankara in charge of Upper Volta. This is not an isolated case, the People's Republic of Poland found itself enduring a coup in 1981 when General Jaruzelski established a military dictatorship to supplant the party dictatorship. And Ben Bella of Algeria had to spend years in house arrest when his own party and military deposed him, and Maurice Bishop of Grenada was deposed and then murdered by a party rival for not being hard enough on the opposition.

Thomas Sankara's reputation has grown by leaps and bounds since his death in 1987 throughout Africa and on the political left. However at the time of his death in October 1987 he was isolated and alone. Blaise Compaore's coup was so secure it didn't have to resort to mass terror against the population to stay in power. And the Committee's for the Defence of the Revolution, whose abuses and corruption had been so controversial had also abandoned Sankara. Shortly before his death he gave a speech urging the CDR's to rally to him, of the 45 CDRs only 4 acknowledged him.

Fidel Castro with Blaise Comp

Huey Newton, - Huey P. Newton was the leader and face of the Black Panther Party for Self Defence. The Panthers had a diverse political inspiration and developed their politics over time. For example this reading list for new members in 1968.

We can see some authors who are on this list, but also a few who don't really fit, like Marcus Garvey a man whose movement was mainly interested in building what he called `Black Capital`. I also notice CLR James, an early Trotskyist who moved more into a libertarian council communist direction.

Its hard to pin down a definitive Black Panther Party politics, because of tensions, regional differences amongst branches and leaders but most because the police and FBI had made the party its main target for their counter intelligence operations, aka COINTELPRO. As a result divisions within the group were exploited as much as possible by the authorities and imprisonment or executions of effective organisers and militants.

However Newton's political processes are easier to clarify, in 1970 at a public conference at Boston College on the 18th of November Newton declared the Party would adopt a doctrine called Intercommunalism. In it he publicly rejects National Liberation in favour of class struggle, and calls the attempts by African leaders including some on this list as `Neo-colonial`, among other interesting things.

Marx and Lenin felt, with the information they had, that when the non‐state finally came to be a reality, it would be caused or ushered in by the people and by communism. A strange thing happened. The ruling reactionary circle, through the consequence of being imperialists, transformed the world into what we call “Reactionary Intercommunalism.” They laid siege upon all the communities of the world, dominating the institutions to such an extent that the people were not served by the institutions in their own land. The Black Panther Party would like to reverse that trend and lead the people of the world into the age of “Revolutionary Intercommunalism.”This would be the time when the people seize the means of production and distribute the wealth and the technology in an egalitarian way to the many communities of the world.

Interestingly in the speech he does maintain that the party are still Marxist Leninist but in a way that is almost unique. (Emphasis mine)

The Black Panther Party is a Marxist‐Leninist party because we follow the dialectical method and we also integrate theory with practice. We are not mechanical Marxists and we are not historical materialists. Some people think they are Marxists when actually they are following the thoughts of Hegel. Some people think they are Marxist‐ Leninists but they refuse to be creative, and are, therefore, tied to the past. They are tied to a rhetoric that does not apply to the present set of conditions. They are tied to a set of thoughts that approaches dogma ‐ what we call flunkeyism.
Its almost as if Huey could see into the future as its precisely this attachment to the past and rhetoric that led to the creation of this list and collage.

Just a quick note on the rejection of Historical Materialism, I was quite surprised to read that, especially when it came in a passage reaffirming ML credentials. I was surprised because official ML thought advocated by Stalin and the Soviet Union regards Historical Materialism as one of its pillars. For example in 1938 Stalin wrote a book called Dialectical and Historical Materialism.  And all scientific fields in the Soviet Union had to conform to what the authorities considered to be in line with Historical Materialism. Stalin himself took a stab at putting linguistics in this framework in 1950. [27]

Also of interest in that speech he goes on to declare that he believes it will not be the industrial workers at the Vanguard of a new revolution but the "Lumpenproletariat". Lumpen-proles being a rather dismissive term by Karl Marx to refer to the criminal element of the working class and the chronically unemployed, it comes from a German word for Rogue.

Our Minister of Information, Eldridge Cleaver, who now is in Algeria, wrote a pamphlet called “On the Ideology of the Black Panther Party.” In that work Eldridge Cleaver stated that neither the proletarians nor the industrial workers carry the potentialities for revolution in this country at this time. He claimed that the left wing of the proletarians, the lumpen proletarians, have that revolutionary potential, and in fact, acting as the vanguard, they would carry the people of the world to the final climax of the transformation of society.
This is interesting because that's completely alien to every other Marxist Leninist I've encountered. They usually stress the contrary, that only a Vanguard party (I.e. theirs) leading the industrial workers to a victorious revolution and the establishment of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. What that means in practise can vary in many, many ways, but this is the first time I've encountered a self declared Marxist-Leninist openly deviate from the core premise.

Lets look at what Marx had to say on the matter, from the Manifesto

that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution, its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.

Engels went further, from the Peasant War in Germany

The lumpenproletariat, this scum of the decaying elements of all classes, which establishes headquarters in all the big cities, is the worst of all possible allies. It is an absolutely venal, an absolutely brazen crew. If the French workers, in the course of the Revolution, inscribed on the houses: Mort aux voleurs! and even shot down many, they did it, not out of enthusiasm for property, but because they rightly considered it necessary to hold that band at arm’s length. Every leader of the workers who utilizes these gutter-proletarians as guards or supports, proves himself by this action alone a traitor to the movement.

So do they count? Well Huey P. Newton still used the label, and if the label is all that matters rather than the content than sure why not? It does raise an interesting question though, at what point does a Marxist-Leninist stop being a Marxist-Leninist? How far is to far and what makes the core that should not be altered or replaced? If I started calling myself a Marxist-Leninist but changed nothing about myself would I qualify?

kim jong il,

enver hoxha,

Souphanouvong - I'm personally pleased to see Souphanouvong on here, because one quirk of mine is that I feel sympathetic to Laos and its people because its the part of South East Asia that everyone overlooks it so well done to the list makers.

Souphanouvong was a prince who joined the Lao People's Party (political wing of the Pathet Lao) before that though he had a number of jobs, the French Colonial Administration sent him to Vietnam to work on infrastructure projects, which in a weird way means the French Colonial government proletarianised Souphanouvong. 

I'm a bit confused why Souphanouvong is here though, even accounts friendly to the Laos Communist party call him a figurehead. How Souphanouvong is called in a text is a pretty good guide to its political sympathies, hostile accounts tend to call him a puppet, whereas more sympathetic ones refer to him as a figurehead or spokesperson.

Since Souphanouvong hasn't really had much impact on legislation or executive actions in his long political career this is a bit like a Social Democrat using a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II to represent the NHS. 

Angela Davis, -

I feel this one will be controversial with everyone for different reasons, depending on which parts of the Davis legacy each person is most familiar with.

Angela Davis is probably the most famous member the Communist Party of the United States of America, or CPUSA. The CPUSA was the official fraternal party of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and so officially a Marxist-Leninist party.

However she is no longer a member of the CPUSA, in 1991 she left the party to help found a group that split from the CPUSA and rejected among other things "Leninism". That group is called the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS). The CCDS is in its own words a Democratic Socialist organisation.

Socialism can not emerge from sentiment, ideology, or wish fulfillment. Socialism emerges because the working class, as it struggles around the crisis of everyday living comes to recognize socialism as a necessity.

History and contemporary reality do not yield a schematic blueprint for socialism. An analysis of experiences in social struggle, combined with a critique of objective circumstances, suggest some possible guiding principles for the transition to a socialist democracy.

Socialism’s fundamental building blocks are already present in US society. The means of production are fully developed and stagnating under the political domination of finance capital. The US labor force, for the most part, is highly skilled at all levels of production, management, marketing, and finance.

There is a broadly enfranchised electorate, as well as kernels of socialist organization scattered across the landscape in cooperatives, socially organized human services, and centralized and widespread mass means of communication and supply/demand data management. Many earlier attempts at socialism lacked these advantages.

Socialism is a democratic political system wherein the interests and organizations of the working class and its allies have attained and hold the preponderance of political power and play the leading role in society.

Angela Davis had a very eclectic inspiration base, including her academic mentor the Frankfurt school Marxist Herbert Marcuse (whom also worked for several years at the Office for Strategic Services, the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency, and he used his research while at the Office to write a book heavily criticising the ideology of the Soviet Union. Soviet Marxism: A Critical Analysis, published in 1958)

INTERVIEWER: Your mentor, Herbert Marcuse once back in '58, as I recall, said that one of the things that would happen as blacks made gains in the civil rights movement was that there would be the creation of a black bourgeoisie and that's certainly been one of the things that's happened as we look back from the vantage point of 1997. How do you see the role of the black bourgeoisie in the continuing struggle?

And of course its hard to overstate the impact of the civil rights struggle and women's liberation movement on her thinking.

INTERVIEWER: In 1967 what made you make the decision to come back home and how would you characterize the mood of the Black Liberation Movement and how you began to get involved with it in those years?
ANGELA DAVIS: I decided to study in Europe in 1965 which was the year of the Watts uprisings, and the following year the Black Panther Party was founded. So, I found myself in Europe at a time when the Black Liberation Movement was undergoing a very important transformation. I felt very drawn to that movement and felt very frustrated during the entire period I spent in Europe because I was forced to watch things from afar. In 1967 I decided to discontinue my academic work in Europe and return to this country specifically in order to become involved in the Black movement. I chose to go to San Diego because Herbert Marcus with whom I had studied at Brandeis was teaching there. But I also knew that in California there was a great deal of, ah, organizing occurring in the community as a result of the, ah, emergence of the Black Panther Party and other organizations. So, as soon as I arrived in San Diego, I began to investigate what was happening in the community, what organizations existed. A number of organizations were active. The Black Congress, ah, and there was a, an organization headed by Ron Karenga called "Us Organization." Finally however, I decided that, ah, the organization I wanted to join did not really exist. So I became active on the campus in founding the first Black Student Union there, which eventually developed into a movement demanding, ah, Black studies on the campus and an entire college devoted to the needs of Black students, as well as, ah, Latino students and White working class students.

On the other hand in 1972 she visited East Germany, met with its leader Honecker and gave a speech praising both it and the Soviet Union. And she was also a vocal supporter of Jim Jones and his People's Temple right up until their mass suicide....

So I don't think Angela Davis can be seen as a Tankie in the orthodox ML sense, not without ignoring a lot of her work and views, anyway. What about advocate of state repression? Well she's been a strong opponent of prisons and police for many decades,

From the first interview

INTERVIEWER: But still there were those who were arrested around the same time you are were still in prison? You got out -- you got off in some ways because you had become such a cause celebre that there were others who didn't have.
DAVIS: I mean that's true but I am actually addressing your question about guilt, and I'm trying to suggest that maybe there are other ways to deal with it than with guilt. So rather than feeling guilty is what I have done is to continue the work. As soon as I got out of jail, as soon as my trial was over, first of all, during the time I was in jail, there was an organization called the National United Committee to Free Angela Davis, and I insisted that it be called National United Committee to Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners.
As soon as my trial was over, we tried to use the energy that had developed around my case to create another organization, which we called the National Alliance against Racist and Political Repression. And, what? in June it will have been 25 years since my trial was over. I'm still working for the freedom of political prisoners, Mumia Abu Jamal, the Puerto Rican political prisoners, such as Dinci Pargan, for example, Leonard Pelletier. I'm involved in the work around prison rights in general. I think the importance of doing activist work is precisely because it allows you to give back and to consider yourself not as a single individual who may have achieved whatever but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement. Then I don't think it's necessary to feel guilty. Because I know that I'm still doing the work that is going to help more sisters and brothers to challenge the whole criminal justice system, and I'm trying to use whatever knowledge I was able to acquire to continue to do the work in our communities that will move us forward.

Her opposition to prisons and the campaigns for the rights of prisoners that she also often the face of the prison abolition movement in the US. The image above is from such a campaign. Unfortunately her solidarity with prisoners often stopped at the borders of the US when she was a member of the CPUSA. Also in the 1970s Czechoslovakian dissidents appealed to Davis for support in their struggle for Czechoslovakian prisoners. On Jiri Pelikan who had joined the Czechoslovak Communist party in 1939 to fight the Nazi occupation went so far as to write an open letter addressed to her in 1972.

I am sending you this letter in their names. I can speak and write because I have chosen, like many of my compatriots, to continue the struggle in exile. But I'm also writing to you because, in spite of our different experiences, we have a lot in common and I think that you will understand me. You say that you became a communist because after seeing the people suffer you understood that society must be changed. So did I. I joined the Communist Party in September, 1939. I was a student and I had seen my country occupied by the German Nazis. I wanted to fight for freedom and to change a system which produces wars and oppression. You have lived through the painful experience of prison. So have I. While the Gestapo hunted me, my parents were taken as hostages: and my mother never came back from prison. I know as. well as you what is meant by repression, discrimination, and suffering. Like you, I went into the revolutionary movement convinced that socialism can create a more just society for the majority of men.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US consists only in the fact that after thirty years as a militant, in October, 1969, I was expelled from the party along with some half million Czech and Slovak communists simply because we refused to consider the occupation of our small socialist country by a foreign power, itself "socialist," as "fraternal aid." You may say that there is a big difference between American military aggression in Vietnam and the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia. I agree, and that is why our people did not defend itself in arms. But the substance of the two interventions is the same: to prevent people from deciding their own destiny. You are for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam. So am I. But why, four years after the intervention, are there still 80,000 Soviet soldiers in Czechoslovakia, in spite of the agreements between Bonn and Moscow and Warsaw,

She turned them down and accused them of working to undermine their own country. So in the looser definition of a Tankie I think there is a case here, though I do find it strange that someone would want to claim her  legacy based on the part of her career where she turned her back on political prisoners including many dissident Communists like Jiri Pelikan, who had resisted the tyranny of the Nazis.

Its very disappointing but at least she seems to have ditched the support for repressive regimes with red flags since the 1990s but kept up her social criticism and opposition to the institution of prisons.


Hassan Nasir - I suspect Hassan was included to fill out the list and to give Pakistan some representation. Hassan Nasir was the leader of the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP), and was tortured to death in 1960 by the Pakistani military during Auyb Khan's dictatorship. Unfortunately that's about it, there isn't much information in English readily available. I don't know what he's supposed to prove by his inclusion.

The man was brave and dedicated, but so were many socialists who were tortured and executed by other people on this list. In terms of practical results Hassan Nasir sadly did not have much to show for his sacrifices. By the 1960s the repression of the CPP had left the party at about 3000 members strong and shortly after the Sino-Soviet split would cause disunity and the independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan would result in the Bangladeshi members leaving to form their own party in that nation, further diminishing its numbers and impact. And while Pakistan's turbulent governmental system would be shaken up with Dictators being toppled and some periods of civilian rule, the countries trajectory as a US and Chinese ally remains intact to this day. It was always hostile to the Soviet Union the nation to which the CPP was aligned with.

In the 1990s the CPP would merge with a group called the Mazdoor Kissan Party to form the

Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP). However there was soon a split reviving the CPP, and they split as well. So now we have the CMKP and two competing CPPs. At least one of the CPPs registered and stood in the 2013 elections and did very poorly.

Now I have heard bits and pieces about Pakistan Communists being active in recent Union struggles, but I've never been able to determine which party they belong to (if any). Nevertheless I'm sure on a smaller scale the CPPs members and even Nasir have played a role in some struggles but unless there's more evidence to be looked into I'm just not seeing the "improving the material conditions of hundreds of millions of people".

Nasir and his comrades put up a strong fight but just like the CNT of Catalonia and the Paris Commune they ultimately lost. I still think their experiences are worth remembering, but apparently the authors of this meme do not.

Bhagat Singh - Well he was a revolutionary fighter against British Colonialism, so the anti western part fits at least. But Tankie? Well he certainly wasn't a Marxist-Leninist, he was executed in 1931 before that project became monolithic in Soviet Union never mind the rest of the world. He did read out a telegram on the anniversary of Lenin's death praising the Soviet Union,

ON LENIN DAY WE SEND HEARTY GREETINGS TO ALL who are doing something for carrying forward the ideas of the great Lenin. We wish success to the great experiment Russia is carrying out. We join our voice to that of the international working class movement. The proletariat will win. Capitalism will be defeated. Death to Imperialism.


However liking Lenin does not make one a Marxist-Leninist. On the contrary many of the leading Bolsheviks clashed heavily with Stalin after Lenin died, including Lenin's widow (whose on this list further down). The clashes would be so severe that many of the losers such as Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin would end up losing their positions, their reputations and eventually their lives.

He was also open to many political writers from diverse tendencies and movements. Including Lenin, but also Bakunin and Bertrand Russell. For example we have a preserved list of books he request from a friend while in prison.

Lahore Central Jail

Please take following books in my name from Dwarkadas Library and send them through Kulvir on Sunday:
Militarism (Karl Liebknecht)
Why Men Fight (B. Russel)
Soviets at Work
Collapse of the Second International
Left-Wing Communism 

Mutual Aid (Prince Kropotkin)
Fields, Factories and Workshops
Civil War in France (Marx)
Land Revolution in Russia
Spy (Upton Sinclair)
Please send one more book from Punjab Public Library: Historical Materialism (Bukharin). Also, please find out from the librarian if some books have been sent to Borstal Jail. They are facing a terrible famine of books. They had sent a list of books through Sukhdev's brother Jaidev. They have not received any book till now. In case they have no list, then please ask Lala Firoz Chand to send some interesting books of his choice. The books must reach them before I go there on this Sunday. This work is a must. Please keep this in mind.
Also send Punjab Peasants in Prosperity and Debt by Darling and 2 or 3 books of this type for Dr. Alam. Hope you will excuse me for this trouble. I promise I will not trouble you in future. Please remember me to all my friends and convey my respect to Lajjawati. I am sure if Dutt's sister came she will not forget to see me.

With regards
Bhagat Singh


Karl Liebknecht, Karl Marx and Lenin are already addressed here, but do I have to elaborate on why Kropotkin, Upton Sinclair and Bertrand Russell aren't part of the Marxist-Leninist cannon?

He was also a committed Atheist and cites some of his inspirations for this turn in his life

I studied Bakunin, the anarchist leader. I read a few books of Marx, the father of Communism. I also read Lenin and Trotsky and many other writers who successfully carried out revolutions in their countries. All of them were atheists. The ideas contained in Bakunin’s ‘God and State’ seem inconclusive, but it is an interesting book. After that I came across a book ‘Common Sense’ by Nirlamba Swami. His point of view was a sort of mystical atheism. I developed more interest in this subject. By the end of 1926, I was convinced that the belief in an Almighty, Supreme Being who created, guided and controlled the universe had no sound foundations. I began discussions on this subject with my friends. I had openly declared myself an atheist. What it meant will be discussed in the following lines.

So quite an eclectic source of inspirations. But how about Tankieism? Well strictly speaking you don't have to be an Orthodox ML to be a Tankie, you just have to be ok with the brutal repression of workers in the name of stabilising a government that is nominally "socialist". We'll never know how Bhagat Singh would react to something like Hungary 1956, because he was executed long before that, but based on what has survived of his writings and thoughts I personally find it quite doubtful that he'd have been in favour of it.

The writings and declarations by Singh and the Socialist Republican Army go out of their way to lament even the killings of colonial police as a tragedy forced upon them.


Sorry for the death of a man. But in this man has died the representative of an institution which is so cruel, lowly and so base that it must be abolished. In this man has died an agent of the British authority in India - the most tyrannical of Govt. of Govts. In the world.

Sorry for the bloodshed of a human being; but the sacrifice of individuals at the altar of the Revolution that will bring freedom to all and make the exploitation of man by main impossible, is inevitable.

Long Live The Revolution" !
Furthermore his most substantial political work in English `To Young Political Workers` written a month before his execution outlines his political strategies and views. Its worth reading in full if you're interested in his views, for the purposes here I'm just going to highlight the relevant parts. 

Its not quite what I'd call ideologically coherent, he endorses Lenin, specifically the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and Left Wing Communism and Infantile Disorder, so there's issues including him in a list with Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. 

Again after the 1917 revolution, when the Bolsheviks were forced to sign the Brest Litovsk Treaty, everyone except Lenin was opposed to it. But Lenin said: "Peace". "Peace and again peace: peace at any cos t— even at the cost of many of the Russian provinces to be yielded to German War Lord". When some anti-Bolshevik people condemned Lenin for this treaty, he declared frankly that the Bolsheviks were not in a position to face to German onslaught and they preferred the treaty to the complete annihilation of the Bolshevik Government.
About the tactics and strategy one should study life-work of Lenin. His definite views on the subject of compromise will be found in "Left Wing" Communism.
However he also said that compromise was necessary and it would be important to achieve universal suffrage to replace the limited self government put in place by the British Authorities.
As regards the second item, we can judge it through the scope of franchise. The property qualifications making a man eligible to vote should be altogether abolished and universal suffrage be introduced instead. Every adult, both male and female, should have the right to vote. At present we can simply see how far the franchise has been extended.
I may here make a mention about provincial autonomy. But from whatever I have heard, I can only say that the Governor imposed from above, equipped with extraordinary powers, higher and above the legislative, shall prove to be no less than a despot. Let us better call it the "provincial tyranny" instead of "autonomy." This is a strange type of democratisation of the state institutions.

He also states that while the party he believes is necessary should be based on Lenin's iron discipline he also states that it should not be illegal and should mostly work on what we would now call consciousness raising.

The party requires workers which can be recruited only through the youth movement. Hence we find the youth movement as the starting point of our programme. The youth movement should organize study circles, class lectures and publication of leaflets, pamphlets, books and periodicals. This is the best recruiting and training ground for political workers.
Which to me seems more akin to a gradualist movement modelled on the German Social Democrats.

He is also extremely critical throughout of the Congress party leadership, accusing them of wanting Dominion status rather than independence and for turning their backs on the Indian workers and peasants.

Whether national or the socialist, are the peasantry and the labour. Congress leaders do not dare to organize those forces. You have seen it in this movement. They know it better than anybody else that without these forces they are absolutely helpless. When they passed the resolution of complete independence — that really meant a revolution — they did not mean it. They had to do it under pressure of the younger element, and then they wanted to us it as a threat to achieve their hearts' desire — Dominion Status. You can easily judge it by studying the resolutions of the last three sessions of the Congress. I mean Madras, Calcutta and Lahore. At Calcutta, they passed a resolution asking for Dominion Status within twelve months, otherwise they would be forced to adopt complete independence as their object, and in all solemnity waited for some such gift till midnight after the 31st December, 1929. Then they found themselves "honour bound" to adopt the Independence resolution, otherwise they did not mean it. But even then Mahatmaji made no secret of the fact that the door (for compromise) was open. That was the real spirit. At the very outset they knew that their movement could not but end in some compromise.

He was also very sceptical of an independence movement that didn't seek to establish a socialist republic and just settle for self rule.

 Anyway, we were discussing the forces on which you can depend for a revolution. But if you say that you will approach the peasants and labourers to enlist their active support, let me tell you that they are not going to be fooled by any sentimental talk. They ask you quite candidly: what are they going to gain by your revolution for which you demand their sacrifices, what difference does it make to them whether Lord Reading is the head of the Indian government or Sir Purshotamdas Thakordas? What difference for a peasant if Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru replaces Lord Irwin! It is useless to appeal to his national sentiment. You can't "use" him for your purpose; you shall have to mean seriously and to make him understand that the revolution is going to be his and for his good. The revolution of the proletariat and for the proletariat.

So he probably wouldn't have approved of Nehru being in the same circle as him, since independent India has never gone beyond a mixed economy with serious and severe exploitation and repression of its industrial and rural workers.

Tamara Bunke - Well looks like we've got another one who fits the bill pretty neatly. One thing I would like to add is to be careful when looking her up, many of the books written about her were taken out of print in Germany after her mother sewed them for defamation over allegations that she was a KGB and or Stasi agent, and that she was Ernesto Guevara's lover, and they couldn't submit compelling evidence in court.

Though I confess I don't see the millions materially raised out of poverty by the actions of Tamara Bunke. She fought in Ernesto Guevara's Bolivian campaign which bluntly put was a failure. The Guevera band remained small and isolated, many of its fighters including Tamara Bunke were killed and its leader Ernesto Guevara was captured, interrogated and then killed. I thought the whole point of this list was to rebut the ideological enemies with a series of practical accomplishments?

I personally don't fear or devalue experiences that failed, but it seems a tad hypocritical to use the supposed lack of practical achievements of your opponents as a rhetorical weapon, whilst stuffing the list with people whom were no doubt committed to the cause but had little to show for it in practical results.

Oscar Lopez Rivera,

Oscar Lopez Rivera was the suspected leader of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional or FALN. A Marxist Leninist Puerto Rican Nationalist group that carried out several bombings in an attempt to start an armed struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico. 

I get why Rivera is included, at first glance the leading member of an armed group openly promoting Marxist-Leninist positions and fighting directly against the United States, and whom rejected a pardon in solidarity with other FALN members and only got released after his sentence was reduced seems very impressive. But this is a specific list with a specific mandate, and once you bother to learn about Rivera and the FALN issues quickly crop up.

Lets start with the main thing, remember this?

Fuck these pieces of shit for improving the material conditions of hundreds of millions of people. Youre only a REAL revolutionary if your revolution fails, so you can romanticize it, Like The Paris Commune and Catalonia
Well what the group behind the meme is doing is romanticising a group that failed much worse than the Paris Commune and Catalonia. The Paris Commune lasted for 71 days the FALN didn't control Puerto Rico for 71 minutes. They failed, they tried but by 1983 FALN had collapsed and as hurricane Maria showed the world in 2017 Puerto Rico is still cripplingly poor and still under the brutal control of the USA. 

Maurice Bishop

"The new society must not only speak of Democracy, but must practise it in all its aspects. We must stress the policy of "Self-Reliance" and "Self-Sufficiency" undertaken co-operatively, and reject the easy approaches offered by aid and foreign assistance. We will have to recognise that our most important resource is our people."

Maurice Bishop of Grenada, arguably the most well known Caribbean leader after Fidel Castro and Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. Bishop's New Jewel Movement (NJM) described itself as Marxist-Leninist vanguard party, after its revolution in 1979, and developed quite strong ties to Cuba.
Though interestingly it didn't call itself communist and some of its early literature specifically denied it, treating it almost like an accusation.


    No. We think that some of the Marxist analysis is valid, however, for instance it is clear that the Middle Class in Grenada, a minority of the people, wishes to dominate the Country. We have drafted a programme for Grenada. It is our programme to suit the needs of the Country. It includes People's Assemblies, a brand new concept. Our manifesto is not the Communist Manifesto.

And of course like most Caribbean leftist groups C.L.R James was a big influence, so its not exactly a pure strain MLism, but I can see the case for it here. The NJM's early pamphlets talked about the importance of democractic government, mainly through a system of people's assemblies, listing Tanzania and Switzerland as examples. And development, maybe even pressing the UK for reparations to fund some of it.

But in power the NJM struggled to fulfil these goals, on the contrary many of its early members including those who took part in the pivotal capture of the True Blue Barracks -which gave NJM the ability to seize power- were soon frozen out and disillusioned. One of them Stran Phillips had written and published a document "The Truth of the Revolution" denouncing Bishops NJM government for corruption. 

In one year, one month and few days we

(1) we had more gifts, grants and money than Gairy had in 25 years. Yet, the roads, water, agriculture and everything else stand still. We criticise self help and a lot of other things that Gairy used to ask Grenadians to do but today we beg more. Why? This must be because more than 1200,000 could be spent on the repairs of one house. So, you understand why the road can't be repaired. This progress we think Grenada is making is backwards and not forwards.

(2) The Torchlight was closed and freedom of speech removed from all Grenadians. It was alleged that everyone is free to talk, but when they do so they are detained for destabilising.

(3) A new petit bourgeois has emerged. Houses are taken from citizens and the old government buildings are renovated for the politicians. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on these buildings, fencing themselves off from the people.

(4) No transport could be found for agricultural projects, but dozens could be obtained for security - only to be destroyed overnight.

(5) In the year of education and production, indeed, there is greater emphasis on education, but it's only political. How to defend the revolution and how to live in a revolutionary society.

(6) We criticised the bad conditions of the roads before but today it's worse and nature takes the blame - rain.

(7) The agriculture department is worse than in Gairy's days. The attitude is 'what can be left for tomorrow don't do it today'.

A few months later Stran Phillips would be murdered during a purge led by Bishop after an attempt on his life known as the Queen's Park Bombing.

And of course infamously the NJM found itself in combat with the United States when Reagan decided to flex his muscle in 1983. However the United States did not kill Maurice Bishop, because Maurice Bishop had been dead for six days by the start of the US attack.

The leader of Grenada at the time was Hudson Austin the man whom had ordered the deaths of Maurice Bishop and several other government ministers by firing squad under charges of counterrevolution.

Statement by General Hudson Austin on behalf of the Revolutionary Military Council

First heard at 9:10 p.m., Radio Free Grenada, 19 October 1983, in a broadcast scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Brothers and Sisters:
Last night a delegation from the Central Committee of the New Jewel Movement made a formal offer to Comrade Bishop for him to continue as Prime Minister, to continue as a member of the Party and work closely with the NJM Central Committee in running the country.
Comrade Bishop's position was that he would consider the offer but was not willing to talk last night.
This morning at nine-thirty, a crowd led by Unison Whiteman, Vincent Noel and two businessmen stormed Maurice Bishop's home. The soldiers guarding the Mount Royal road had instructions not to fire on the people. The people therefore broke through the barrier and stormed through the gates of the house. Again the soldiers were instructed not to fire on the people but to fire above the people's heads - not at the masses.
The crowd, realising that the soldiers had instruction not to fire on the people, broke into the house. Maurice Bishop went with them and then led the crowd of innocent people to seize Fort Rupert, the headquarters of the Armed Forces.
Again, the soldiers at Fort Rupert were told not to fire on the people who stormed the fort. Attempts were made by the Armed Forces to establish communication with Maurice Bishop, and Unison Whiteman in order to continue negotiations for a peaceful solution and in order to persuade them to let the civilians leave the fort.
Bishop and Whiteman declared: “No compromise, no negotiations.”
They then disarmed Officers of the General Staff as well as the rank and file soldiers guarding Fort Rupert and began to arm the crowd.
They declared their intention to arrest and wipe out the entire General Committee and the senior members of the Party and the entire leadership of the Armed Forces as well as to smash the Revolutionary Armed Forces.
At that point, the Revolutionary Armed Forces sent a company of soldiers to reestablish control of Fort Rupert. Maurice Bishop and his group fired on the soldiers killing two members of the PRA - Sergeant Dorset Peters and Warrant Officer, Raphael Mason, and wounding several others.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces were forced to storm the fort, and in the process the following persons were killed: Maurice Bishop, Unison Whiteman, Vincent Noel, Jacqueline Creft, Norris Bain and Fitzroy Bain among others.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces then evacuated the wounded and assisted several persons in getting to hospital.
The People's Revolutionary Armed Forces has all along stayed off the street in the hope that [the situation] could be resolved internally by the Party. However, in a situation where Maurice Bishop had declared his intention to wipe out the entire leadership of the Party and the Army, in a situation in which he had linked up with counter-revolutionaries, in order to do so, the Revolution itself would have been wiped out.
Our working people have suffered too much for too many years to allow imperialism and counter-revolutionaries to take over our People's Revolution.
The People's Revolutionary Armed Forces has, as of 3:00 p.m. today, established a Revolutionary Military Council which will form the government of the country until normality is restored.
Let it be clearly understood that the Revolutionary Armed Forces will govern with absolute strictness. Anyone who seeks to demonstrate or disturb the peace will be shot. An all day and all night curfew will be established for the next four days, from now until next Monday at 6:00 p.m.
No one is to leave their house. Anyone violating this curfew will be shot on sight. All schools are closed and all workplaces except for the essential services until further notice.
The personal safety and property of all citizens will be guaranteed by the Armed Forces. Let it be clearly understood that the People's Revolutionary Army is totally united. We are also clear that our major task at this moment is to protect and defend our country against any attack by imperialism.
Our people must be clear that imperialism will seek to take advantage of this situation. We must also realise clearly that a military invasion would bring about the deaths of thousands of our people and that any confusion in Grenada at this time opens the way for such intervention by imperialism.
Whatever each man's personal views on this situation at this time, we must unite to defend our country against any attack by outside forces.
The Armed Forces for their part will defend the revolution with all our might!


In the radio broadcast Austin claims Bishop and his supporters were killed in the fighting, so it shouldn't be accepted without question. Though the split within the NJM and its armed forces is contested. Like Sankara several years later Bishop lost the support of key party members and its powerful security forces.
Maurice Bishop (right) with Bernard Coard (left) in 1982. Bernard launched a coup in October 1983 which put Bishop under house arrest. He himself would quickly be toppled by Hudson Austin

Curiously in this scenario it is Hudson Austin who is more qualified for the title of Grenada's Tankie. He was a loyal member of an ML party, like Stalin he publicly denounced his former comrades as counterrevolutionaries on spurious grounds, like Khrushchev and Brezhnev he justified his extreme crackdown and putting troops in the streets by an appeal to the need to fight off Imperialism. He even led the fight against a US invasion like Ho Chi Minh, he fits the bill completely.

Rogue Dalton,

Rogue Dalton is a very famous Salvadoran poet and essayist, his portrait is still used on stamps in the country, that's how famous he is decades after his death. He studied Marxism and was an enemy of several Salvadoran right wing dictatorships (yes several). During the start of the Salvadoran Civil War Dalton was willing to join the fight, specifically wishing to be a combatant.

He tried to join the Marxist-Leninist Farabundo Martí Liberation People's Forces, but they wouldn't accept him, so he joined the Marxist-Leninist (specifically Che Guevara inspired Focosimo) People's Revolutionary Army (ERP). 

However including him shows a staggering amount of ignorance, as does placing him next to Maurice Bishop. Roque Dalton was killed in 1975, and his killers were, well the leadership of the ERP. Dalton had clashed with the leadership of the ERP in the past promoting a mass based strategy, and they also believed, or at least publicly claimed that they believed that Dalton was a CIA informer. 

So either he was a CIA informer or he's an example of the bloody sectarian campaigns carried out by Tankie's against innocent supporters.

Either way his inclusion just undermines the whole façade constructed here.

Fred Hampton,

Fred Hampton was probably the most famous Black Panther Party member operating in the Chicago area though his life and work as been overshadowed by his brutal murder by the Chicago police with assistance from the FBI in 1969. He was aged 21 when he was murdered.

In recent years he's quickly become a very popular figure in online arguments since his death and his outspoken admiration for many in the Marxist-Leninist pantheon. For example an extract from a speech he gave the same year he was killed. Its a Class Struggle Goddamit!

We got a lot of answers for those people. First of all, we say primarily that the priority of this struggle is class. That Marx, and Lenin, and Che Guevara end Mao Tse-Tung and anybody else that has ever said or knew or practiced anything about revolution, always said that revolution is a class struggle. It was one class--the oppressed--those other class--the oppressor. And it's got to be a universal fact. Those that don't admit to that are those that don't want to get involved in a revolution, because they know that as long as they're dealing with a race thing, they'll never be involved in a revolution. They can talk about numbers; they can hang you up in many, many ways, but as soon as you start talking about class, then you got to start talking about some guns. And that's what the Party had to do.

That's just one paragraph from one speech of many, later on he goes back to the importance of Marxism-Leninism on several points and in one instance calls Huey P. Newton a better Marxist than Kim Il-Sung and Mao, which I found interesting.

You’ve got Bobby Seale chained and gagged at the Federal Building. You’ve got James and Michael Soto who was murdered in two days. By the way, for all you white folks who claim you’re radicals, that claim you’re gonna support the Party. We move in and we’re saying that there’s no better, there’s no higher Marxist than Huey P. Newton. Not Chairman Mao Tse-Tung or anybody else. We’re saying that unless people show us through their social practice that they relate to the struggle in Babylon, that means that they’re not internationalists, that means that they’re not revolutionaries, truly Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries. We look at Kim Il Sung. We look at Comrade the Marshall, Marshall Kim Il Sung of Korea as towering far and high above in his social practice as Mao Tse-Tung. If you can relate to that, cool. If you can’t relate to that, walk out with your as picked clean like the chickens do, you dig? If you can’t relate to that. And we’re tellin’ you that.

To be honest I find a lot of his speeches to be confused I know speeches have limitations and by taking two sections out they lose their context, but most of the rest of the speech is like this. But I think its clear that Fred Hampton was a Marxist-Leninist as he understood the term. And although he was brutally murdered before he could finish his project, but he was a very capable bridge builder and had opened dialogues and coalitions with other groups outside of the traditional base of the Black Panther Party including the white Young Patriots.

But one final thing though the legacy of Fred Hampton is often weaponised to try and claim connections and ownership of the whole Black Panther Party. Its no accident that multiple party members appeared in this list after all.

So does Fred Hampton legitimate claims on the Black Panther Party as a whole? Well not really no, as has already been established the party was quite diverse in its inspirations and its own ideas, Huey P. Newton may have been the highest Marxist in the ML sense in 1969 but he quickly moved into new territory with his ideas on Revolutionary Intercommunalism among others. Furthermore other Black Panther Party members disagree with Hamptons characterisation of the Party.

For instance Mumia Abu-Jamal
“The Black Panther Party was a Malcolmist party far more than it was a Marxist one,”
And in Revolutionary Suicide Huey P. Newton described the initiative to found what became the Black Panther Party of Self Defense was influence of Malcolm X on him and Bobby Seale.

Bobby had collected all of
Malcolm X’s speeches and ideas from papers like The Militant and Muhammad Speaks. These we studied carefully. Although Malcolm’s program for the Organization of Afro-American Unity was never put into operation, he has made it clear that Blacks ought to arm. Malcolm’s influence was ever-present. We continue to believe that the Black Panther Party exists in the spirit of Malcolm.

And of course there was Kwame Ture and his ideological inspirations and Pan African ideas, as well as the early collaborations with the San Francisco Diggers. Basically its very disingenuous to present the Panthers as monolith.

Celia Sanchez,

A doctor and supporter of Castro, died in 1980 from lung cancer, a lot of the talk about her is focussed on gossiping on whether or not Fidel was her lover, which kind of strikes me as irrelevant whether the answer is yes or no. She was active during the revolt against Batista and ran messages and supplies for Castro's 26th of July Movement, though bizarrely in at least one source she's described being the Maximum leaders personal servant.

She said that being a guerrilla was the best time of her life. She began to take care of Fidel in the manner written below. She prepared his coffee, made sure his uniform was clean and tidy, and his boots cleaned and repaired.
She's also been described as the first female Guerrilla, maybe in the Cuban context, but weirdly they often say in North America, which isn't remotely true, the Mexican revolution alone saw hundreds of armed women in combat roles.

Regardless I get why she's here, she's a pro Castro woman who doesn't have any massacres or orders to deploy riot police as baggage, but one thing that stuck out to me is how little her admirers seem to even care about her. If you look on the pro Castro left their are blog posts and articles praising her, but once the Granma lands in Cuba and Sanchez and Castro start to work together directly all of a sudden she becomes at best a supporting actor in her own story. While the accounts will still heap praise upon her the achievements she's praised for are largely due to her relations with Fidel Castro.

An enemy of bureaucracy and lover of creativity, Celia lived her life serving the revolutionary cause, by serving its leader.

Its very strange, she did do things on her own, founding the National Archives in 1964 for one, but much of the focus is on her frankly obvious subservience to Fidel Castro.

Stokely Carmichael,

Later, when I was in jail, I was told that they had totally rejected any plans for a merger because I never answered a letter they wrote me. I was in solitary confinement all this time and did not receive the letter from SNCC. But they held me responsible nonetheless.

It worked out for the best in the end, however, because when SNCC took their turn in the wrong direction we were not dragged along. They had talked socialism for a while, but then they back-tracked and started to advocate a separate nation and to ignore the world class problem. Any relationship with Stokely would have been problematical. We realized this when we first got in touch with African guerrilla groups and other freedom fighters. They said they had had confidence in Stokely at first, believing him to be a revolutionary. But when he aligned himself with reactionary African governments, he lost his credibility. He had come into their countries, barely acknowledging them, talking about the new alliance he was forming with Nkrumah, and making himself the spokesman for African freedom fighters. Then the revolutionaries found out that Nkrumah did not really support Stokely’s position on race.

Anyway, we broke with SNCC, not really wanting to, but realizing we could accomplish little without their trust. Later I was glad of the break, because Stokely’s views are so inconsistent you never know where he is coming from. When a man is consistent, you at least know what is happening and what to expect. Stokely says one thing one day and another the next. He accuses us of misleading people by our coalitions with whites, but I say he confuses people when he goes to Washington and tries to prevent a Black policeman from being kicked off the force—a policeman who takes orders to kill his own people and who protects the Establishment. Stokely told me he would support anyone—he did not care who—if the person were Black. We consider this viewpoint both racist and suicidal. If you support a Black man with a gun who belongs to the military arm of your oppressor, then you are assisting in your own destruction.
Huey P. Newton
The importance of the rally was obvious. I was, therefore, especially disturbed by the content of some of the speeches. Stokely, for example, spoke of socialism as "the white man's thing." Marx, he said, was a white man and therefore irrelevant to Black Liberation. "As Black people," Stokely shouted, "we have to forget about socialism, which is a European creation, and have to start thinking about African communalism."
Angela Davis

Kwame Ture, to give him his preferred name* is very famous and very influential in African-American politics and the New Left period. But as the comments by his ex party comrades in the Black Panther Party for Self Defense and Angela Davis show, probably shouldn't be idolised by a group of serious Communists. Not for nothing his most famous book is called Stokely Speaks: From Black Power to Pan Africanism.

I've noticed quite a few ML and Maoist types trying to lay claim to the legacies and sacrifices of people of colour, whilst completely overlooking what their politics and struggles were actually about.

Many of them were promoters of cultural and political nationalism, often to the point of separatism, and Kwame Ture was one of those. He left the Black Panthers over their decision to work with white activists, and eventually the pressure from the COINTELPRO FBI -who had paternalistically dubbed him the most likely "Black Messiah" after Malcolm X had been killed- pushed him to emigrate to Ghana and then to Guinea to collaborate with Kwame Nkrumah. The Kwame in Kwame Ture was chosen to honour Nkrumah.

He's credited with coining the phrase Black Power, and he personally claimed to have come up with the name and symbol Black Panther, though that was contested by Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party.

Also strangely enough when asked which white person he admired in an interview he first replied none, and then added that Hitler would come the closest to earning his respect. He had a reputation for making jokes so the interviewer asked if he was being facetious and Ture denied it.

As for his white list, Mr. Carmichael said: “I couldn't say who was my hero. But if you could ask me who I think was the greatest white man, perhaps I could say that.”
Mr. Frost asked, “Who was that?”
“I would think Adolph Hitler was the most. . .” began Mr. Carmichael, but gasps, booing and jeering from the studio audience interrupted him. He waited, then continued, “. . . When you talk about greatness, you don't put ethical judgments or moral judgments on them. And when you talk about genius you do not put ethical or moral judgments on it. The man who created the atom bomb was a genius, even though it's used for destructive purposes—he's still a genuis.
“Adolph Hitler—I'm not put ting a judgment on what he did—if you asked me for my judgment morally, I would say it was bad, what he did was wrong, was evil, etc. But I would say he was a genius, nevertheless.
Cites Hitler's ‘Genius’
When Mr. Frost suggested that Mr. Carmichael might have been facetious in the remarks about Hitler, Mr. Carmichael responded:
“You say he's not a genius because he committed bad acts. That's not the question. The question is, he does have genius. Now when we condemn him morally or ethically, we will say, well, he was absolutely wrong, he should be killed, he should be murdered, etc., etc. . . .
“But if we're judging his genius objectively, we have to admit that the man was a genius. He forced the entire world to fight him. He was fighting America, France, Britain, Russia, Italy once— then she switched sides—all of them at the same time, and whupping them. That's a genius, you cannot deny that.”


Now I believe him when he said he wasn't making a moral judgement, and I'm not bringing this strange reading of Hitler up to advocate writing off Kwame Ture, on another occasion he uses Hitler as an example of the distinction between law and order, and Justice, which is a lot more interesting and useful. I bring it up to illustrate a point, lots of people especially those active in politics are to put it nicely a mixed bag. Its very rare when a large number of people can be lined up in neat rows and stand shoulder to shoulder without controversy. I also bring it up to show that a superficial usage of the term Leftist breaks down. Kwame Ture's politics were racial, he could name many Black people whom he respected and was inspired by and his political projects and activism were committed to pan Africanism. Trying to pass himself off as anything but a pan Africanist, like the creators of this meme have done is not only incorrect but pretty insulting.

Anyway while in Guinea Nkrumah and Ture founded the All-African People's Revolutionary Party (A-APRP). Its ideology is Nkrumahism-Toureism which reads like an African version of a Marxist-Leninist press release. Its purpose is supposed to build the foundations for an All African Revolutionary Army to drive out Imperialism, and capitalist exploitation on the continent, but so far since its founding in 1968 this army has yet to materialise or fight in any battles.

*I understand that he's still more famous under his old name, the popularity of Stokely Speaks can't have helped,  but it always confuses me when someone claiming to be an advocate or inspired by Ture's politics defaults to his old name. It just seems disrespectful.

Nicolae Ceausescu, -
Our commercial relations are healthy. Britain is proud of its contribution to the development of the Romanian aircraft industry, a particularly good example of co-operation to joint advantage. But the scope for trade and co-operation between our two countries is far from exhausted. [end p3] It is important that we should do more. I know, Mr. Prime Minister, that your own responsibilities in Romania lie predominantly in the economic field, and am confident that your visit will give new impetus to the development of our commercial and economic relations. We have tried to arrange for you a programme in this country which takes full account of your interests.
Margaret Thatcher


"Of course Poland is not really a socialist country. It's governed by a military Junta along South American lines." 
 Nicolae Ceausescu, speaking to Margaret Thatcher in 1988


An interesting choice, I personally think he qualifies as a Tankie, his regime was built on incredibly brutal repression. Though if you look up his downfall in 1989 online, you'll see a lot of images of Tanks being controlled by the opposition,

So I guess Nicolae reminds us that strong military forces are a double edged sword. Though his inclusion on the list is a little surprising as he isn't really a typical ML. According to him his ideology was National Communism, and he had a very tense relationship with the Soviet Union and the rest of the Eastern Block.

He refused to take part in the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia and publicly criticised the Soviet Unions decision to invade Afghanistan in 1979. He was also on very good terms with the United Kingdom and the United States. He personally welcomed two US Presidents, Nixon and Ford to Bucharest and was welcomed to the West. He and his wife even met Queen Elizabeth.

He also took out loans from the International Monetary Fund.

Rumania will get loans worth nearly $1.5 billion from the International Monetary Fund, it was announced today, and the Rumanian Government has promised to raise prices and hold down spending in an attempt to improve its international financial standing.
Rumania will have to repay its advances over three to seven years, with interest at annual rates varying from 6.25 percent to 13.5 percent or more.
The loans take the form of drawings of currencies - dollars, marks and others - partly from the I.M.F.'s own money and partly from I.M.F. borrowings. When a country draws money that the I.M.F. has had to borrow, it pays higher interest rates.
Rumania already owes the I.M.F. the equivalent of about $280 million. Over the past four years, Rumania has suffered reverses in trade. In particular, it used to export oil but now has to import much of its supply.

So not exactly anti western, but if they're willing to embrace the brutal dictator and royal friend Nicolae Ceausescu, they're welcome to him.

Leonid Brezhnev,-
The Soviet revisionist renegade clique has completely betrayed these brilliant teachings of Lenin’s. From Khrushchov to Brezhnev and company, they are all persons in power taking the capitalist road, who had long concealed themselves in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. As soon as they came to power, they turned the bourgeoisie’s “hope of restoration” into “attempts at restoration”, usurped the leadership of the Party of Lenin and Stalin and, through “peaceful evolution”, turned the world’s first state under the dictatorship of the proletariat into a dark fascist state under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

Chairman Mao has waged a tit-for-tat struggle against modern revisionism with the Soviet revisionist renegade clique as its centre and has inherited, defended and developed the Marxist-Leninist theory of proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Chairman Mao has comprehensively summed up the historical experience both positive and negative, of the dictatorship of the proletariat and, in order to prevent the restoration of capitalism, has put forward the theory of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
 Lin Biao 1969
A pretty good choice for a Tankie list, he was in charge of the Soviet Union when the Warsaw pact sent tanks into Czechoslovakia in 1968 after all. Though again it does raise the issue of why Khrushchev isn't on this list. Brezhnev's crushing of the Prague Spring was the follow up to Hungary in 1956.

Its also a bit strange having him in the same list as Stalin as like Khrushchev and the other Soviet leaders he was dedicated to essentially erasing Stalin, apart from blaming him for the Soviet Unions problems.

If I may be permitted an anecdote, my father visited the Soviet Union several times in the 1970s. He visited Russia and also the Caucasus's including Georgia. He told me the party officials he met were very talkative about how bad the Stalin period was and how much better things were now. The Georgian Communist party members even told him all sorts of stories about Stalin including that during WWII he was an active rapist. And other strange stories of that nature.

No idea how true the stories about Stalin's personal behaviour were; I asked my father if he believed them and after thinking it over for a few moments he just shrugged and said they seemed to be pretty convinced and who was he to question them? But the fact that they were willing to openly denigrate their own former party leader to a foreigner is quite telling of official attitudes to Stalin's legacy.

Anyway onto Anti western, mixed bag. On the one hand Brezhnev's Soviet Union was a massive supporter of Northern Vietnam in its war with the United States. But on the other he personally signed multiple arms limitation treaties with the United States, SALT I and SALT II, and also saw the increase in trade with the United States. It actually peaked in 1979 at $5.4 billion.

And in the dying days of his leadership the Soviet Union and Margaret Thatcher's government struck a deal to develop a pipeline in Siberia. This caused quite a political rift, but er between Regan and Thatcher.

The heart of the problem was deciding what to do about the Siberian Gas Pipeline, a huge infrastructure project being built in the Soviet Union by Western firms to supply natural gas to Western Europe. Weinberger wanted the US to do what it could to kill the project altogether, or at least significantly scale it down, denying the Soviets foreign currency and reducing Europe's dependence on Soviet energy and trade. The CIA supported him. Haig conceded the undesirability of the pipeline , but argued for a much more cautious line, reminding the President that the allies (particularly Germany) would adamantly oppose the Pentagon's policy. European allies tended to see trade interdependency with the Soviets as a good thing, calming Cold War tensions, as well as generating useful business, since Soviet earnings from gas were likely to be spent buying European goods. The allies would also resent American dictation, or the appearance of it. In all, he concluded that a US campaign againist the pipeline might well do more to split the alliance than impede construction.

That Britain might have difficulties with a policy designed to stop the pipeline was apparent from the first. Richard Allen, National Security Adviser, suggested the President ask Weinberger about the British stance in the NSC on 9 July, specifically the impact on Rolls-Royce ("a sick British firm in a British economy with a current unemployment rate of about 10 per cent"). Although the minutes have not been released, in his paper for the meeting Weinberger was optimistic that the British would cooperate, helped by "ideological compatibility and the low cost of cooperation". And it was British and Japanese compressor technology that he most wanted to deny to the Soviets, besides that of the US.

Eventually the official machine produced a set of "talking points" for the President to use in Ottowa. Little progress was made at the summit, however, and divisions within the Administration remained unresolved.

Nur Taraki,
Just as we condemned the foreign aggression against the island of Grenada, so we condemn all foreign intervention. Thus, we cannot remain silent about the foreign military intervention in Afghanistan.
Thomas Sankara
'Soviet troops should withdraw from Afghanistan, and Afghanistan and Pakistan should hold direct talks on halting any help being given to anti-government forces,'
Nicolae Ceaușescu
The political deputy of the security brigade became especially talkative and told Captain Lebedev that President Taraki was suffocated under the orders of Amin.  This was important information and confirmed Soviet suspicions.  Major Dzhandad immediately ordered the political deputy to leave the room, The Soviets now knew that the Afghans had lied to them about the death of Taraki.

Now the first two quotes were made about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which occurred after Nur Taraki's death, but in many ways the two are linked, and despite having several leaders of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) on this list and Leonid Brezhnev, for some reason the DRA president alive at the start of the Soviet Afghan war Hafizullah Amin is absent.

Nur Taraki was the leader of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) a small nominally Marxist-Leninist party. I say nominally because while on paper they were much like the other ML parties with ties to the Soviet Union the PDPA was quite different structurally. It was extremely fractious and is usually described as having two competing and sometimes violently opposed currents, one called the Khalq meaning masses or people and the other Parcham meaning banner or flag. Generally the Khalq faction is described as the PDPA's hardline faction with the Parcham being depicted as moderates, but looking at how each faction behaved in the ascendancy and when in power that distinction is very clear. And in addition to the Khalq/Parcham split there was extreme rivalry within the factions.

The party was so fractious that even after the PDPA came to power in Afghanistan party members of the rival and weaker current were violently persecuted and so were members of the same faction considered to close to a rival.

The PDPA was so hostile to itself it took the direct intervention of the Soviet Union to enable the party to hold a full conference in 1977 after a decade of splitting apart.

Despite this infighting and increasing suppression by the former Prince Daoud the PDPA were able to come to power in 1978. Despite their small size the party had the support of many army officers, most of which were trained in the Soviet Union, in a situation reminiscent of Central America, the officer corps launched a coup with the assistance of their patron foreign power. The PDPA member credited for his role in the coup or Saur revolution as the PDPA called it was Hafizullah Amin.

The new Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and its president Nur Taraki of the Khalq faction grew extremely close to the Soviet Union, but the move cause concern in the United States and the People's Republic of China.


 Afghanistan is another area where the People's Republic and the USA were keen to collaborate to stop Soviet ambitions.

Taraki is often remembered and credited with a series of ambitious reforms that aimed to "modernise" Afghanistan and build a strong state with effective central control. Shortly after coming to power the DRA announced and promoted reforms in education, marriage, land and the role of women in society. However these reforms also came with a powerful repressive apparatus an expanded secret police and greater restrictions on freedom.

To carry out this sweeping transformation, the Khalq leaders set about eliminating all political rivals and those they considered to be obstacles to their efforts to transform the Afghan state, including anyone who had served in the governments of Zaher Shah and Daud, mullahs, pirs and other religious elites, tribal leaders, Maoists and other leftists outside the PDPA, professionals of every kind and other members of the educated class other than those who had joined the Khalq party and the leaders of various ethnic communities. Abandoning the brief rapprochement with Parcham, the other faction of the PDPA, Taraki and Amin purged the party of leading Parcham members, executing at least hundreds, imprisoning others and exiling some as ambassadors abroad.

This repression was so severe that even fellow DRA ministers and PDPA politicians would denounce it once Taraki and Amin had been killed and their allies dispersed.

 General Nabi Azimi, a Parchami who would become deputy defense minister and commander of the Kabul garrison under Najibullah, wrote that the regime “arrested too many ordinary people, clergymen, intellectuals … and put them in Pul-e Charkhi prison or executed them … without trial on dark nights and threw them into holes already prepared.” (4) Amnesty International reported in 1979 that it had “received a substantial number of allegations that political prisoners [were] … subjected to torture. … some prisoners [were] paralyzed and that others died as a result of torture.” (5) The prison was vastly overcrowded with some 12,000 prisoners in 1979. (6) Many died from disease from poor food and sanitation.

This repression failed to secure the PDPA, on the contrary it strengthened opposition to the point the city of Herat was taken by mutinous soldiers from the DRAs own army and could only be retaken with the assistance of Soviet airpower.

The response to the resistance was to increase the brutality, it was not uncommon for opposition to the governments land reform policies to be punished by the rounding up and executions of suspected landlords, which quickly escalated into collective punishments of inhabitants who lived in an area noted to have opposition active in the area.

One of the most infamous cases during Taraki's rule was the Kerala massacre in April 1979. The village of Kerala was suspected of giving aid to anti-government forces, so in response the 444th Commando group under the command of Sadeq Alamyar rounded up 1,000 men and boys and executed all of them. At Sadeq Alamyar.

On 20 April 1979, Alamyar’s alleged troops are believed to have raided Kerala, the capital of Kunar province on north-eastern Afghanistan. More than 1’000 boys and men were executed or taken away to be killed, in retaliation for collaborating with an

Taraki would continue to escalate the violence and isolation of his government, even going so far as to try and depose and murder his former second in command Hafizullah Amin. Amin would retaliate and succeed, Taraki was suffocated on the 14th of September 1979. He would himself be killed on the 27th of December 1979 by the Soviet army he had invited into the nation.

So in conclusion, Nur Taraki is essentially another failure. He failed to carry out his reform programs, he failed to build a stable base of support for Marxism-Leninism amongst the Afghan masses, he failed to control his own party and in the end his regime would both kill him and require the direct intervention of one of the worlds two Superpowers to give it a chance of survival, and even that wasn't enough.

His lasting contributions were the creation of the Mujahedeen, plunging the country into a civil war it still hasn't recovered from and getting many of his citizens including his own party members tortured and killed. The one institution he built that seemed to function as intended was the secret police, which would outlive him and grow to become a powerful institution.

Josip Broz Tito,

I recall the first days when the conflict between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia began to be blown up artificially. Once, when I came from Kiev to Moscow, I was invited to visit Stalin, who, pointing to the copy of a letter recently sent to [Yugoslavian President Marshal Joseph] Tito, asked me, “Have you read this?” 
Not waiting for my reply, he answered, “I will shake my little finger – and there will be no more Tito. He will fall.”

"Stop sending people to kill me. We've already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle (...) If you don't stop sending killers, I'll send one to Moscow, and I won't have to send a second."
When I first saw Stalin and Tito on the list, I knew then that this list would have serious problems. There simply is no way you can have both as brothers in arms, not only did their political ideologies diversify as time went on, but as the quotations above show, they both wanted each other dead. Tito's Yugoslavia was expelled from the Comintern in 1948 and tensions remained very high until after Stalin's death. The repairing of the relationship happened under Khrushchev's leadership whom singled out Stalin's role in destroying the relationship between Yugoslavia and the USSR in his famous "secret" speech.  

It wasn't just bluster either, its hard to find out just how far the enmity went, for example after the collapse of the Soviet Union, intelligence officers denied they had carried out any attempts on Tito's life, but they did admit that there were several very serious planned assassinations.

The murder of Tito, who was a thorn in the Soviet Union's side, was never actually attempted.
But the forerunner of the KGB devised elaborate plans for the killing and even chose the assassin, a Soviet spy who had become Costa Rica's ambassador to Yugoslavia, Dmitri Volkogonov wrote in Thursday's Izvestia.

Stalin's secret police chief Lavrenti Beria ordered his agents to kill the renegade Yugoslav leader. They turned to the agent known as Max, who had won the confidence of Costa Rican leaders and obtained the post of ambassador to both Yugoslavia and Italy.
The Soviet security ministry considered having Max release lethal plague bacteria at one of Tito's diplomatic receptions, according to a secret memo quoted in Volkogonov's article.
"The death of Tito and every other person in the room would be guaranteed," the memo said. "Max himself would not know anything about the nature of the substance. To save his life, Max would be immunized against plague beforehand."
Other options devised included shooting Tito with a "silent mechanism disguised as a personal article" such as a pen, lighter, cane or briefcase.
Finally, the security ministry proposed in the memo to construct a beautiful jewel box that would emit a deadly gas when opened

Its a bit strange seeing Tito in the list of Tankies made by an actual Tankie, usually when Tito finds his way onto a list of M-L's with Stalin the author is an Anarchist or Libertarian Communist. With admirers of Stalin referring to what they called `Titoism` much like Trotskyism a sort of heresy. For what its worth Tito called his political and economic system Workers Self Management, which sounds quite a bit different from the USSR's centralised economy and its five year plans. But it remains questionable how much self management the workers actually did in Yugoslavia.

For example in the 60's there were workers and student dissident movements and strikes, demanding greater autonomy and reductions in Yugoslavia's high unemployment rates.

The nature of the gap between Yugoslav ideology and society had been analyzed before June 1968, not by "class enemies" of Yugoslavia's ruling "revolutionary Marxists," but by Yugoslav revolutionary Marxists--by heretics. According to official declarations, in a society where the working class is already in power there are no strikes, because it is absurd for workers to strike against themselves. Yet strikes, which were not reported by the press because they could not take place in Yugoslavia, have been breaking out for the past eleven years--and massively (Susret, No. 98, April 18, 1969). Furthermore, "strikes in Yugoslavia represent a symptom of the attempt to revive the workers' movement." In other words, in a society where workers are said to rule, the workers' movement is dead. "This may sound paradoxical to some people. But it is no paradox due to the fact that workers' self-management exists largely 'on paper'..." (L. Tadic in Student, April 9, 1968, p. 7.)

Now usually when "Socialist regimes" face widespread opposition from students and workers Tankies are quick to write off this opposition as being orchestrated by counter revolutionary elements, (CIA, Bourgeois intellectuals, Fascists etc.) usually with little to no evidence, but the protests in Yugoslavia are even harder to paint as counter revolutionaries since the most well known group of dissent was from a group called Praxis a bunch of Marxist academics.

The incident which set off the actions was minor. On the night of June 2, 1968, a performance which was to be held outdoors near the students' dormitories in New Belgrade, was held in a small room indoors; students who had come to see the performance could not get in. A spontaneous demonstration began, which soon included thousands of students; the demonstrators began to walk toward the government buildings. They were stopped, as in capitalist societies, by the police (who are officially called a "militia" in the self-managed language of Yugoslavia); students were beaten by militia batons; many were arrested.

The following day, June 3, continuous general assemblies were held in most of the faculties which compose the University of Belgrade (renamed The Red University Karl Marx ), and also in the streets of New Belgrade. "In their talks students emphasized the gross social differentiation of Yugoslav society, the problem of unemployment, the increase of private property and the unearned wealth of one social layer, the unbearable condition of a large section of the working class and the need to carry out the principle of distribution according to labor consistently. The talks were interrupted by loud applause, by calls like 'Students with Workers,' 'We're sons of working people,' 'Down with the Socialist Bourgeoisie,' 'Freedom of the press and freedom to demonstrate!'" (Student, special issue, June 4, 1968, p. 1.)

Anti-Western? Well no, Yugoslavia famously enjoyed very good relations with both East and West Europe and the United States. Tito's funeral in 1980 was one of the most well attended event in the Cold War with many heads of state and government from many corners of the world in attendance. Including Leonid Brezhnev of the Soviet Union and Walter Mondale Vice President of the United States. Its quite a lengthy list. [34]

But it wasn't just glad handing, from the beginning of Yugoslavia's economic system Tito opened his society to the West.

The famous "Basic Law on Workers' Self-Management" was introduced in 1950. "Workers' Councils" were created to ensure a more democratic and participatory management of capitalist exploitation. Annually-elected councils were given the power to choose a management board. This delegated the day-to-day running of its enterprise to a professional manager chosen by the local authorities. The list of council candidates was drawn up by the union branch at the enterprise, and often council members also held positions in the union, or in local bodies of Party or State.
In 1951 individual enterprise authorities won limited rights to engage in foreign trade, and by 1953 they were able to decide all questions concerning product range, investment, output, supplies and customers. In most cases they could set their own prices. Soon only the building, transport and targeted producer-goods industries remained subject to the direct influence of central government, which retained the power to set down sums of revenue available to each industrial branch. Enterprises were also affected by decisions taken by district planning bodies and investment bodies, which were no longer subject to federal control but which were given increased scope to impose local taxes.
Wages were set within centrally-fixed limits, but enterprises were free to introduce "profit-sharing" schemes (i-e- productivity bonuses) and their flip-side, unemployment. Numerous workers were sacked by enterprises which were forced to rewrite their "irrational" payrolls. For a time it was usually the women who were sacked first, but many sacked workers were able to find jobs in the "parallel" economy.

Erich Honecker, - Erich Honecker is the most famous leader of East Germany (DDR), a shame Ulbricht didn't make the list because in my mind he's the Ur-Tankie given his support of the Soviet Unions armed intervention to save the party from German workers in 1953. Never mind.

Honecker was in charge of a pretty well known police state, its secret police the Stasi is well known, and the most famous landmark in the country was a great big wall in the middle of the capital to keep the population from leaving en-masse.

Next to the jar display are detailed instructions on how to use the so-called "smell cloths". A diagram shows a special Stasi chair containing a false bottom on which the cloths were placed without the suspect noticing.
"The subject must remain sitting for at least 10 minutes if a reliable sample is to be obtained," the accompanying Stasi manual states blandly.
The letters on the jars' metal seals stand for "Ministry For State Security" – the official name for the Stasi.
The exhibits are among hundreds of secret police relics, ranging from tiny spying cameras and bugging microphones to a snack bar used by Stasi officers during their breaks from surveillance, which stand as if frozen in time in Berlin's former Stasi headquarters.
Yet the mammoth 1.1 million square foot former secret police complex, turned into Germany's main Stasi museum in the months that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall, is at the centre of an acrimonious dispute over how best to remember the country's divided past.

East German soldier helping a boy cross the new Berlin Wall, to reunite with his family. 1961.

Around 140 people would die while attempting to cross the East German border.

At least 140 people were killed or died at the Wall in connection with the East German border regime between 1961 and 1989.
  • 101 East German fugitives, who were killed, died by accident, or committed suicide while trying to flee through the border fortifications.
  • 30 people from the East and West without any escape plans and 1 Soviet soldier were shot or died in an accident.
  • Eight East German border soldiers, who were killed by deserters, comrades, a fugitive, an escape helper or a West Berlin policeman by accident or intentionally while on duty.
At least 251 travelers also died during or after they had gone through checkpoints at the Berlin border crossings. Unknown numbers of people suffered and died from distress and despair in their personal lives as a consequence of the Berlin Wall being built.

As a leader of a key Eastern Bloc nation he was loyal to the Soviet Union, however he was loyal to the Soviet Union from beginning to the end. He stuck with Gorbachev and when the DDR collapsed he sought sanctuary in Gorby's USSR.

He also had to suffer the humiliation of his own parties youth wing chanting "Gorby help us, Gorby save us!" that was during the celebrations for the fortieth anniversary of the DDR in 1989. It did not have a forty-first anniversary. In the late 80s the DDR found itself facing extreme opposition despite its well funded security forces. In response Honecker tried to use the Tankie play book,

In the summer of 1989, East German politicians praised the Chinese decision to use violence against democracy activists camping in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. In September and early October, East German police had cracked down forcefully on protesters in Dresden, Berlin and Plauen. Protesters marching in Leipzig on Oct. 2 were beaten by police. "People had seen pictures from Beijing," Jens Schoene, a historian and author of "The Peaceful Revolution: Berlin 1989/90 -- The Path to German Unity," says. "It wasn't at all clear it would be peaceful."

But the protests kept growing and spreading and eventually the security forces wavered and the party forced Honecker to resign.

As the crowd made its way towards the city's century-old train station -- accompanied by thousands of helmeted riot police -- tension grew. But at the decisive moment, the police stood aside and let the protesters march by. "They didn't attack," Fuehrer says. "They had nothing to attack for." Organizers made sure the crowds gave the police no excuses. They carried nothing but candles and banners reading "We are the people." The Stasi planted plainclothes officers in the crowd to cause trouble, but they were all quickly surrounded and neutralized by protesters chanting "no violence."

Historian Erhard Neubert later called that night East Germany's "October Revolution." At least 70,000 people - perhaps as many as 100,000 -- took to the streets, making Oct. 9, 1989 the largest protest East Germany had ever seen. "People were on the streets and had the courage," Schoene says.

The time for violence was over. Secretly recorded footage of the march was broadcast on West German television, inspiring Monday Demonstrations all over East Germany in the weeks to come. The demonstrations in Leipzig doubled in size every week, attracting protesters from all over East Germany. By Oct. 23, 1989, a little less than two weeks before the Berlin Wall came down, more than 300,000 people filled Leipzig's city center, carrying candles and banners. Leipzig was nicknamed "Heldenstadt," or "hero city."

No one knew it at the time, but the peaceful Leipzig demonstrations exerted irresistible pressure to reform on the East German regime -- and led directly to the fall of the wall five weeks later. "It was a self-liberation. We did it without the dollar or the DAX, without the US or Soviet armies," Fuehrer says. "It was the people here who did it."

Which is why most of the famous photo's of the fall of the Berlin Wall involve East German police just standing around watching.

Mohamed Najibullah 
Two bodies hung from a pole outside the Presidential palace. the larger was soaked through with blood from head to foot. it had been castrated, the fingers were crushed, the torso and face battered and there was a bullet hole through the forehead. the other had merely been shot and hanged, the pockets stuffed full of Afghani, the local currency as a sign of contempt. the bodies were those of former president Muhammad Najibullah and his brother. Najibullah was a hated man. he had been head of the secret police at the time of the Soviet invasion and was said to have ordered the execution of 80,000 so-called enemies of society.

Mohamed Najibullah was another PDPA leader and President of the DRA. He was from the Parcham faction of the party and had spent some time in exile during the rule of Taraki and Amin before returning after the Soviet Union murdered Amin and deposed his followers. He became President of the DRA in 1987 and would be the last leader of the DRA and would survive the withdrawal of the Soviet army and just outlast the Soviet Union being toppled from power in 1992, he would then spend a few years seeking sanctuary with the UN in Kabul until the Taliban seized the city, both he and his brother were beaten to death and had their bodies publicly hanged for display.

A key tool for his rise to power in the PDPA was his position as head of the now very large and very powerful secret police which was reorganised under its most well known name the State Information Service or KHAD. Built off the back of the secret police started by Taraki and Amin and with extensive assistance from the KGB and Stasi and other Eastern Bloc intelligence services the KHAD grew in power and reach under Najibullahs leadership.

KHAD reported directly to the Prime Ministers Office and probably also to the Soviet Embassy Its budget was enormous, said to he larger than the entire government budget of the past 10 years. The number of employees expanded vastly to between 15,000 30,000 full-time operatives, with perhaps another 100,000 paid informers.

Afghans harbored some hope that it would be less oppressive
than its two predecessor PDPA governments.
Most political prisoners were released. Babrak promised
that persons would not be arrested for holding
contrary political beliefs, provided they had not been
involved in violence, and that the prohibition against government use
of torture was "absolute." Yet within three months these promises
were broken. The jails began filling again with political prisoners,
and reports of torture became commonplace. By the end of 1983 Amnesty
International estimated that the Babrak regime held 12,000 political
prisoners in Kabul alone, and it identified eight interrogation
centers applying torture.
The Soviets played the controlling and leading role in these denials
of human rights. Afghans who experienced incarcerations in
Kabul's political prisons, and Afghan secret police and other government
agency defectors, testified to Soviets—presumably KGB operatives—
being involved in important roles, including torture sessions.
Nowhere in the DRA government was the Soviet presence more
pervasive than in the Afghan secret police, KHAD. Though a Politburo
member, Dr. Najibullah, headed the organization, the KHAD
was de facto controlled and run by the many KGB advisers attached
to it. The KH/ O's functions were ubiquitous, focusing particularly
on dissidents and on subverting the armed resistance.
There's another interesting side to Najibullah aside from his connections to a very brutal police force. Because Taraki and Amin had done such a good job turning most of the population of the country against including left wing sections of society, the Soviet Union and its PDPA administrations started softening their policies and trying to build bridges with other groups. It largely failed but under Najibullah the project of National Reconciliation was promoted to its most radical extent.

At first the significance of the policy of National Reconciliation
was misunderstood by observers and by the commanders, who saw
in it only a propaganda exercise. Their incredulity, which was real,
marred the effect of the declaration of the policy, with which the
government had counted on dropping a political bombshell.Nevertheless,
the following developments were spectacular: the government
set about nothing less than the deconstruction of the communist
regime. The issue concerned not so much the ‘sincerity’ of these
changes as their political effects, which would in the end be substantial
since they expressed new power relationships. The effects of the
policy of National Reconciliation would only truly be felt after the
After several last thrusts in 1986, mainly to ensure the security of
the towns, the Kabul government proclaimed the policy of National
Reconciliation in January 1987. Following the plenary meeting of
the party and the declaration of a unilateral cease-fire from 15 January,
the government asked the leaders of the armed opposition to
negotiate. In addition a general amnesty was promulgated on 24 January
for Afghans engaged in anti-government activities. Finally, on
8 March 1988 Najibullah commissioned the Paderwatan to establish
contacts with opposition groups, which were acknowledged as future
The lifting of restrictions on commerce and the new attitude—
in public, at least—of respect for religion brought great satisfaction
to the merchants and officials,

This is a long passage but it covers the scope of Najibullahs climb down. In addition to easing restrictions on commerce, the DRA moved to a more plural political system holding elections in 1988 that were largely boycotted. It also aggressively stepped up campaigns to appease religious figures which would culminate in a new constitution in 1990 proclaiming Afghanistan to be an Islamic Republic.




It didn't work in the long run though it did enable his regime to survive in the short term and outlast the Soviet Union for a brief period before the Mujahedeen eventually toppled him. In summary we have a politician who brutally imprisoned, tortured and executed many but even with Soviet assistance could not win the war and in desperation abandoned what few core principles his party and the Saur Revolution had, and lost power anyway.

assata shakur,

Nelson Mandela -
“No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens but its lowest ones.”

No don't worry, this isn't going to be dismissing the struggles against Apartheid, giving Mandela or the ANC sole credit like some narratives do is worth tackling, but the main focus of this work is to access the practical achievements of the regimes that were built off the backs of  liberation struggles.

In recent years I've seen certain lefty sections scramble to reclaim the image of Nelson Mandela. I get it, it makes good tactical sense, Mandela is well known around the world and loved by all apart from the most openly racist and reactionary types. And he was a member of the Communist party of South Africa (though he would publicly deny it at his trial)

‘Well I don’t know if I did become a Communist,’ he replied to a question from his own attorney towards the end of the marathon Treason Trial in 1960. ‘If by Communist you mean a member of the Communist party and a person who believes in the theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, and who adheres strictly to the discipline of the party, I did not become a Communist.’

But eventually after his death the ANC would admit that he had been a member. Now most of his explicit renunciations of his party membership were in relation to his legal defence, and I'm not going to criticise someone for be economical with the truth when facing prosecution and persecution. But that he kept coy about it even while in power is a bit strange. Though regardless, it wasn't exactly a well kept secret, this photo for example is often circulated by right wing anti-communists for character assassination purposes.

He did clearly lead a coalition with the Communist Party and the African National Congress (ANC). To this day the South African Communist Party remains a junior partner in the governing of the Republic of South Africa. 

He was also a founding member of Umknonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) a paramilitary organisation that was a joint initiative of the ANC and the Communist Party. So I get why they're doing this, personally speaking I'm also quite annoyed that Mandela has been used by mainstream liberal opinion as a sort of messianic pacifist whose used to shutdown arguments about the utility of violence. But honestly this attempt at "corrective" hi-jacking seems equally dishonest and flawed just from a different area. 

Sure the liberal darling version of Mandela ignores a lot about the defeat of Apartheid, the violent street clashes in the townships, the Spear of the Nation armed groups, the assassinations, the open warfare in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe etc. But the Tankie narrative also excludes a lot about the anti-Apartheid struggle, Mandela the ANC and the Communist Party, and the regime they would found and continue to lead.

For a start, when the Apartheid system was in its death spiral in the late 80's it opened negotiations with the ANC and Mandela. They reciprocated and worked with De Klerk to share power while dismantling the system. Here's a bit from Mandela's speech after being released from prison.
Today, I wish to report to you that my talks with the government have been aimed at normalising the political situation in the country. We have not as yet begun discussing the basic demands of the struggle. I wish to stress that I myself have at no time entered into negotiations about the future of our country except to insist on a meeting between the ANC and the government.
Mr. De Klerk has gone further than any other Nationalist president in taking real steps to normalise the situation. However, there are further steps as outlined in the Harare Declaration that have to be met before negotiations on the basic demands of our people can begin. I reiterate our call for, inter alia, the immediate ending of the State of Emergency and the freeing of all, and not only some, political prisoners. Only such a normalised situation, which allows for free political activity, can allow us to consult our people in order to obtain a mandate.
The people need to be consulted on who will negotiate and on the content of such negotiations. Negotiations cannot take place above the heads or behind the backs of our people. It is our belief that the future of our country can only be determined by a body which is democratically elected on a non-racial basis. Negotiations on the dismantling of apartheid will have to address the over- whelming demand of our people for a democratic, non-racial and unitary South Africa. There must be an end to white monopoly on political power and a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheid are addressed and our society thoroughly democratised.
It must be added that Mr. De Klerk himself is a man of integrity who is acutely aware of the dangers of a public figure not honouring his undertakings. But as an organisation we base our policy and strategy on the harsh reality we are faced with. And this reality is that we are still suffering under the policy of the Nationalist government.

During that speech he thanks the ANC's military wing and the General Secretary of the Communist Party Joe Slovo, but he also thanks many other groups like the United Democratic Front and the churches for their role in the struggle. And as can be seen in the above extract he publicly committed himself and the ANC to working with De Klerk and his government to build a "democratic, non-racial and unitary South Africa".

Which is largely what happened, the transition wasn't without violence and obstacles but modern South Africa is a republic with multiple political parties representing all demographics, competing for power through elections, its political structure is much closer to the UK or USA than say the USSR. And this transformation was achieved not through the systematic liquidation of the political opposition via show trials, but with compromise and the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.

Those Commissions were chaired by the Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu. The purpose of the Commission was to gather testimony from victims but perpetrators of crimes could also give testimony and apply for Amnesty,


There is a reason why liberal peaceniks loved Mandela, the ANC dominated government was surprisingly forgiving and accommodating to its old enemies, and if anything its been criticised for being too moderate and forgiving.

But that's politics how about constructing socialism in Southern Africa? Well anyone whose ever been to South Africa will know that capitalism is still the economic order complete with slums, private corporations and the like. This even extends to the Mandela family.

Company information showed the Mandela children and grandchildren had, over the past two decades, been involved in about 200 companies extending over a wide range of sectors, including real estate, investments, railway engineering, minerals, medical firms, fashion, and entertainment.
Makaziwe, Mandela's eldest daughter, was an active director in 16 companies, including the South African subsidiary of the Swiss multinational food giant Nestle, a shopping centre in Kimberley, two railway engineering companies, and four companies apparently engaged in mineral exploration.
Zenani Dlamini, Mandela's other daughter and currently South Africa's ambassador to Argentina, was an active director of nine companies.
She was previously associate director of a company with Clinton Nassif, who was implicated in the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble.
Zondwa Mandela, Khulubuse Zuma, and Zuma's lawyer Michael Hulley were co-directors in Labat Africa.
The three were at one stage directors of the Aurora mine, but Hulley had since resigned.
Nandi Mandela, Mandela's granddaughter, was a co-director in a city planning company Linda Masinga & Associates, which according to the company's website, had completed numerous municipal contracts for municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal.
According to Beeld, Nelson Mandela himself did not possess many assets registered in his own name.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation Trust in 2012 paid R2.9m to "The Founder", slightly more than the R2.8m of the previous year.
As a former president Nelson Mandela also receives a lifelong presidential pension.

But it goes beyond a family with a famous member making hay when the sun shines, the alliance between the state and business interests is extremely brutal. Perhaps best demonstrated by the massacre of striking Platinum miners in Marikana.

Perhaps the most important lesson of Marikana is that the state can gun down dozens of black workers with little or no backlash from 'civil society', the judicial system or from within the institutions that supposedly form the bedrock of democracy. What we have instead is the farcical Farlam commission, an obvious attempt to clear the state's role in the massacre and prevent any sort of real investigation into the actions of the police on that day. In other words, the state can get away with mass murder, with apparent impunity in terms of institutional conceptions of justice and political accountability. If anyone takes the fall it will be Phiyega rather than her higher ups, who appear to have set her up as the fall guy if it ever reaches that stage.
The current ANC leader and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is a share holder in Lonmin the company that the workers were striking against. It later emerged that in addition to being another case of an ANC higher up having lucrative links to business interests Lonmin had also actively solicited Ramaphosa's assistance in dealing with the strike.

Two days after the massacre, Ramaphosa’s company, Shanduka, announced that they would donate R2 million towards the funeral costs of the murdered mineworkers. Some of the workers reacted angrily to the offer as blood money, but it was presented as a goodwill gesture in a time of extreme trauma and devastation in that community. 
Now Ramaphosa is caught in the eye of the storm around a series of emails which reveal his role in drawing intervention from the highest levels of government and the ANC to clamp down on the striking workers at the Lonmin platinum mine at Marikana.  
Advocate Dali Mpofu, representing the 200 mineworkers who were arrested by police, revealed the email correspondence at the Farlam commission of inquiry into the Marikana massacre. 
In one of the emails to Lonmin’s chief commercial officer, Albert Jamieson, Ramaphosa wrote: “The terrible events that have unfolded cannot be described as a labour dispute. They are plainly dastardly criminal and must be characterised as such. There needs to be concomitant action to address this situation.” 
This email was sent exactly 24 hours before police fired live ammunition at the workers, killing 34 and injuring 78 others. 

While Nelson Mandela remains very popular in modern South Africa it seems like his popularity has become something of a curse. The new corrupt business and political elites of the ANC/SACP dominated nation have used Mandela and the legacy of the anti Apartheid struggle to give their increasingly exploitative brutal rule much needed legitimacy.

leila khaled,

WEB dubois,

cartes fonseca,

Kanu Sanyal,

The Naxalite insurgency has been described as India's most pressing internal security problem. Their insurrection in the east around West Bengal has resisted for years against the combined forces of the police, paramilitaries and Indian army. The "Red corridor" is a famous symbol of resistance and or terrorism.

There's just one problem though, this isn't the insurrection Kanu Sanyal was part of. He took part in the first uprising of 1967 in the village of Naxalbari which gives the name of Naxalite.

Naxalbari, 1967
A group of Indian Marxist-Leninists and Maoists, allied with local peasants believed the time was ripe to launch a protracted peoples war, and on the 25th of May the uprising against the local landlords began. By the 19th of June the Indian government had counterattacked and flooded the area with paramilitaries. Their leader Charu Majumdar was killed, and many other leaders were imprisoned. Kanu Sanyal went into hiding but was arrested in 1970, he would spend seven years in prison. The rest would either drift away or remain underground for sometime, occasionally regrouping but often falling out with each other, until a new Naxalite movement emerged.

So another case of a failed uprising, but this particular case is interesting for two other reasons. The Marxist-Leninist current in India was in turmoil due to the Sino-Soviet split, they had good relations with both the Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic so the falling out caused a lot of tension and splitting within the movement. At this point there were dozens if not hundreds of Communist Party of India competitors. The Naxalbari rising made this much worse with several independent groups claiming to be the true heirs of the Naxalbari uprising. The tension was partly because China publicly supported it.

"A peal of spring thunder has crashed over the land of India."
- Editorial, People's Daily,
July 5, 1967.
THE organ of the Communist Party of China (CPC) seemed to be consumed by a sense of euphoria as it used these words to describe the Naxalbari uprising in West Bengal in May 1967. It went on to add that the "revolutionary group of the Indian Communist Party has done the absolutely correct thing" by adopting the revolutionary line advanced by Chinese leader Mao Zedong, which involved "relying on the peasants, establishing base area in the countryside, persisting in protracted armed struggle and using the countryside to encircle and finally capture the cities".
The editorial concluded that "a single spark can start a prairie fire" and that "a great storm of revolutionary armed struggle will eventually sweep across the length and breadth of India". This optimism, was obviously motivated by similar hopes expressed by the leadership of the Naxalbari uprising - Charu Mazumdar, Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal. Charu Mazumdar, the principal ideologue of the "first authentic Maoist phenomenon" in India, held that "there was an excellent revolutionary situation in the country with all the classical symptoms" and that organisations such as the Communist Party of India (Marxist), to which Mazumdar originally belonged, had "betrayed the cause of Indian revolution by choosing the path of parliamentarism and class collaboration".

But unfortunately for the first Maoists of India China didn't provide any physical aid.

And while in prison Kanu Sanyal had time to reflect and came to some interesting conclusions.

The history of the movement after Mazumdar's death was marked by a number of splits brought about by personalised and narrow perceptions about the Maoist revolutionary line and attempts at course correction by some of the major groups. Even Kanu Sanyal, one of the founders of the movement, was not free from this trend. He gave up the path of "dedicated armed struggle" by 1977 and accepted parliamentary practice as one form of revolutionary activity.

After his release he became the leader of one of the competing parties that claimed the name Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). It stood candidates in two state elections polling between 0.5 and 2% of the vote. Unfortunately Sanyal would take his own life in 2010. Haven't found much about what the party has been up to since.

Jose Sison,

"We share with President Duterte the determination to resume the formal talks and work for a just and lasting peace" Sison said

Jose Sison was the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), he's credited with promoting elements of Mao Zedong thought in the Philippines and is still despite his age and recent activity considered by the United States to be a sponsor of terrorism. Though importantly the European Union disagrees and ordered his assets to be unfrozen. This is important because Jose Sison lives as a refugee in the Netherlands.

Now that a Filipino revolutionary is now living in the Netherlands and qualified for refugee status should a big clue that their political career hasn't met with much success. This is another case of ML romanticism of a insurrection that has failed to bare fruit. Now the CPP is still active so maybe in the future

Though Jason Unruhe the self proclaimed most popular Marxist on YouTube who host the Maoist Rebel News show is less optimistic declaring the Philippines revolution "Over" in 2016 after the CPP and its armed wing the New People's Army agreed a ceasefire with President Duterte's extreme right wing government.

The National Police Chief Dela Rosa shaking hands with Renato Reyes Jnr, the Secretary General of BAYAN a legal leftist group affiliated with Jose Sison's international.
Since then the relationship between Duterte's ultra authoritarian and murderous regime and the CPP/NPA has soured with renewed clashes, but it hasn't escalated into full scale war again either. The CPP leadership including Jose Sison remain committed to pursuing peace talks, and their have been several later truces and temporary ceasefires.

"The stand down agreement is an act of mutual goodwill to stimulate the resumption of formal peace talks. It is also to prepare for the coordinated unilateral ceasefires, which are a more advanced form of ceasefire." Sison Said

Now this has skipped many years here, while I think the history of struggle in the Philippines is worth studying in its own right this isn't really the place for this, we can see what the path of Sison and the Philippines Maoists leads.

But before finishing I think its worth looking at Sison's other projects. In addition to remaining an important figure in the CPP Jose Sison is also an important figure in an international organisation called the International League for Peoples Struggle (ILPS). I saw that the ILPS had held its 2019 congress in Hong Kong and was curious as to their stance on the current mass street protests.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) extends its solidarity to the protest movement of various sectors in Hong Kong standing up for their democratic rights. The massive street demonstrations of up to two million people opposing changes to the extradition law have spread throughout Hong Kong since June 2019. 
The protests were sparked by the Hong Kong government’s attempt to ram through amendments to the extradition law that showcase contempt for the rights of autonomy and competency of the Hong Kong political, legal and judicial system relative to the mainland authorities. The people in Hong Kong have just and legitimate grounds to oppose these changes to the law as they will violate the one country, two systems principle. 
The stand taken by the protesters is even more understandable as the proposed amendments to the extradition law – that will bypass judicial processes in Hong Kong on extradition cases – was preceded by dramatic cases of abduction from Hong Kong to mainland China.
The ILPS supports the calls for the Hong Kong government to totally withdraw the extradition bill, release arrested protesters and desist from branding the legitimate protest of the people as “riots”. 
All residents in Hong Kong must persist in their legitimate cause to respect the one country, two systems principle and stand guard against foreign powers, led by the USA, from riding on the issue to instigate the separation of Hong Kong from China. As well, they must also be conscious of rabble-rousers and infiltrators who attempt to sabotage the integrity of their cause.

Its quite confused. On the one hand it supports the protests and their grievances and even acknowledges the dangers of the law and abductions, but then swings back to endorsing the one country two systems arrangement. What on earth does the ILPS think will happen in 2047 when the two systems end and Hong Kong becomes fully incorporated into the People's Republic?

Nevertheless I doubt Xi Jinping welcomes this stance attacking the CPCs collaborators in the Hong Kong.

The Maoist Third Worldists are not happy with Comrade Sison

Farabundo Marti,

Farabundo Marti, was a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary from El Salvador. The FMLN is named in his honour. He held several positions in a number of COMINTERN affiliated groups including the All-America Anti-Imperialist League, but he's mostly remembered for leading a peasants uprising in 1932.

It lasted ten days, failed and Farabundo Marti was captured and quickly executed. He died along with at least 30,000 peasants when the army launched a punitive terror campaign. I don't like saying this it feels like kicking someone when they're down, but the truth is the truth, to memorialise Marti is to praise a failed revolutionary. I don't have any issue with taking ideas and inspirations from past failures, and the FMLN shows he remained a popular and romantic figure, but then I also like Catalonia and the Paris Commune.

Can't have it both ways.

agostinho neto,

Mengistu Mariam

Former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was sentenced to life imprisonment Thursday, ending his 12-year trial in absentia for genocide and other crimes committed during his iron-fisted rule.

Mengistu, known as "the butcher of Addis Ababa," is unlikely to ever spend a day behind bars. He lives comfortably in exile in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe has said he won't deport Mengistu if he refrains from political activity.
Mengistu ruled from 1974 to 1991 after his military junta ended Emperor Haile Selassie's reign in a bloody coup. Some experts say 150,000 university students, intellectuals and politicians were killed in a nationwide purge by Mengistu's Marxist regime, though no one knows for sure.


Mengistu Haile Mariam, was an incredibly pure choice given that this whole sorry meme is designed to make Tankie's look good. I think he's in the minority that's a pretty good match for the label, as we shall see, though I can only assume complete and utter ignorance on the part of the artist, the list compiler and whoever nominated him for inclusion. Mariam's military junta called the Dergue ruled Ethiopia after a the downfall of its long ruling, corrupt and autocratic Emperor Haile Selassie, until 1991 when he fled the country to seek asylum in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

However in order to secure his government Mariam reached out to the Soviet Union and Cuba, and became the head of the Marxist-Leninist Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE) a party he built himself slighting the older Marxist-Leninist Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP). Like a lot of new governments the Dergue found itself facing opposition, sometimes violent. Mariam described a spate of anti Dergue protests including assassination attempts and bombings as a `White Terror` though the main source of opposition to the Dergue was a series of strikes in 1976, sparked by its new policies.

The most serious and immediate threat to the Dergue was posed by the offensive launched by the EPRP in the urban sector during the fall of 1976. Regrouped underground, the radical opposition now moved towards a direct forceful confrontation with the dictatorship. The new, violent phase of the struggle began exactly two years following the overthrow of Haile Selassie, when the EPRP called for a boycott of the official celebrations commemorating the event. The urban associations were mobilized to collect an audience for the rulers on this occasion. These units were not able to prevent a wave of labour strikes instigated by the EPRP towards the end of September. The strike wave acquired additional momentum in October, as a result of the change of currency, during which notes of 50 Ethiopian dollars and above were discounted by 20 per cent. Bank, insurance, and supermarket employees joined the factory workers in striking.

At the same time, a series of raids on armouries and police stations for the purpose of collecting weapons, alerted the government of the EPRP's intention to wage urban guerrilla warfare. The prime target of the underground opposition were the radical intellectual contingent of POMOA and highly placed petty bourgeois collaborators of the Dergue. An alleged unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Major Mengistu, on 20 September, is widely believed to have been staged by the dictator himself in order to justify the campaign launched against the EPRP at this time. The EPRP struck selectively, and even gave its enemies advance warning. Letters were sent to numerous persons advising them of the consequences if they remained in their posts. The first victim was a prominent member of POMOA. In the following months, three ministry permanent secretaries were assassinated. Trade union officials imposed by the regime and urban association officials also became targets of the underground opposition. According to one account, 20 POMOA cadre and 20 urban association officials were killed during the month of November 1976. The building of a school for political education operated by POMOA was burned down at the end of October. Sabotage of public installations, transport and communication facilities became routine from now on.
And in response in 1977 declared publicly in a speech the start of a `Red Terror` targeting counter revolutionary elements.

“The revolution needs to be fed by the blood of traitors,” he said. Human rights groups reported that at the height of the terror campaign, organised by Soviet advisers and Mengistu’s East German-controlled Department of State Security, government hit squads were summarily executing 100 to 150 “anarchists, feudalists, exploiters of the people and counter-revolutionaries” each day on the streets of Addis Ababa, other centres and in the notorious state prison on the edge of the capital.

It became commonplace to see students, suspected government critics and rebel sympathisers hanging from lamp posts each morning. Families had to pay a tax known as "the wasted bullet" to obtain the bodies of their executed loved ones.


But despite the bluster most of the victims were members of the rival Marxist-Leninist EPRP and its affiliated student societies. One of the victims whom managed to survive was the EPRP member Original Wolde Giorgis


So in effect a ML civil war, however Mengistu was not above persecuting national and ethnic minorities. While he was busy purging the Dergue of opponents and massacring students, he was losing control of several regions including Eritrea. The war for Eritrean independence had begun in the 1960s and was a contributing factor to the decline and fall of the Emperor Haile Selassie, however by concentrating his forces in the cities for the terror campaign Mengistu found his forces dangerously overstretched and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) another Marxist-Leninist (until the late 1990s) political/military organisation was making gains, so the situation became extreme.

Mengistu relying on Soviet and Cuban arms and military support counter attacked and the war lasted until 1991 when the Ethiopian army had to withdraw. That support included Napalm and "anti-personnel gasses" and both were used, take for example the battle of Massawa in 1990, where the Ethiopian army also deployed cluster bombs it acquired from Israel by making a deal to allow its Jewish minority to be air lifted out of the country.

But the Israeli Cluster bombs were a new kind of bomb.
The cluster bombs were particularly devastating to Eritrean civilians because they released small bomblets upon explosion to disperse over a wide area and shred the crowded streets.
When, in February 1990, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) captured Massawa in a daring land and sea operation, the colonial Ethiopian government responded with relentless bombing of the port city, dropping cluster bombs to punish residents of Massawa.
The EPLF had once before come very close to liberating the port city of Massawa in 1977 and was on the verge of victory, but its offensive failed to reach the heavily fortified naval base and the two islands around it, in part because it coincided with the arrival of the added firepower of Soviet arms in Eritrea with Soviet advisors taking a direct combat role. Soviet technicians operated the rocket launchers and long-range artillery while Soviet battleships offshore bombarded EPLF positions. The 1977 failed offensive on Massawa was the last major battle against the American-backed colonial Ethiopian Army of Haile Selassie and the first confrontation with the new Soviet-built colonial army of Mengistu Hailemariam.
It would take about a decade for the EPLF to completely break the Soviet rock into pieces by taking a chisel to it.

Oh yes, in the dying days of the regime Mengistu's Dergue made a deal with Israel, it's kinda famous that Mengistu took money and weapons from Israel in exchange for letting them airlift thousands of Jewish Ethiopians out of the country.
Nonetheless, Israel brought about 16,000 of them here during a secret airlift in 1984. The plan was to evacuate all of them then, but the operation was called off when word of it leaked to news organizations, embarrassing the Ethiopian Government.

Got to tell you, its weird seeing a man with military connections to Israel in a list with Yasser Arafat.

How about `Improving conditions for millions`? Well two words, Live Aid. The first Live Aid concert that made the charity single `Do They Know its Christmas?` was made in response to Mariam's colossal failure to improve living standards in his country. As a result of the rather brutal wars in the towns and regions like Eritrea and Tigre, the ballooning seize of the country's military budget, about 46% in 1984, coupled with poor rains and a strict control on rural activity and movement lead to a widespread famine in 1984.

The total number of people killed by the famine is not known.  The UN has gone on record saying that one million died, but this is no more than a guess.  No systematic studies of mortality among the population in general were conducted, and the government discouraged any attempts to carry them out.33  The mortality data for the 1970s famines are better than those for the 1980s.  The RRC never published its own figures for deaths.  The death totals in camps can be estimated with some accuracy.  40,000 died in camps in Wollo between August 1984 and August 1985,34 15,000 in refugee camps in Sudan, and a total of between 100,000-150,000 for the whole famine zone for the whole period.  (Deaths in the resettlement program will be considered in chapter 12.)  Deaths among the general population are open to greater problems of estimation -- we know neither the size of the population, the number affected by famine, the death rate in normal years, the length during which the death rate was raised on account of famine, nor the death rate during the famine.  Nevertheless, some approximations can be made.  The total country-wide affected population during 1984/5, according to the RRC, was 6,098,000.  In the north, there were 872,000 in Eritrea, 1,790,900 in Wollo,35 376,500 in Gonder and 200,000 in northern Shewa.  The real figure for Tigray was at least one million more than the official estimate of 1,331,900;

In addition suffering a terrible and internationally recognised famine Mengistu sought to exploit the situation by the control of aid, most of which was given to his government even though the famine had also effected rebel held territory.

The relief given in Eritrea was generous, in contrast to the years 1983-4.  However, outside the towns, it was tied to the continuing program of the creation of protected villages.  In order to receive food, rural people had to bring their whole families, and register, often paying a fee of 5 Birr in order to do so.  The food was then given in frequent small amounts, making it impossible for the family to return home with food.  Other means were used to control the population in distribution centers: most were protected villages, with curfews enforced and movement restricted, with only one or two permitted entrances, and ringed by anti-personnel land mines.  One way in which the aid was used to draw people into protected villages was by threatening and harassing those who tried to obtain aid from ERA distribution centers.  Said Ali Mohamed was interviewed by Barbara Hendrie at an ERA center in March 1986:19  In my village we are completely encircled by the enemy.  The Dergue is in all directions; we drink from the same well, you can say.  We are afraid.  All of the time they take our camels, our goats, our animals.

 The food I get here, I will not take it home to my village, because if I do, and the Dergue finds out, they will kill us.  So I will hide my food in valleys or in the hills and will travel to the hiding place from my village to take some food at a time, daily or weekly.

 The enemy has prevented us from getting food before, so this is the first time I have come here.
So to summarise, we have here a brutal dictator whom slaughtered his countries students and rival Marxist-Leninists, used Cuban, Soviet and Israeli military aid to carry out brutal wars against minorities complete with indiscriminate bombings and the use of cluster bombs and napalm, presided over one of the worst famines in history, actively tried to profit from that famine, and is hiding in Zimbabwe to escape a genocide verdict.

And this is a man these people are proud to revere...
A collage of some of the victims of Mariam's brutal rule

samora machel,

Eugene Dennis,
The overriding fact and factor in our Party at the present moment is the open threat by the Revisionist faction to once and for all carry out the final liquidation of our Party. We say final liquidation because in point of fact the liquidators have already realized the main portion of their wrecking plan.

This decision by the Revisionists to strike the final blow NOW has been precipitated by the tremendous display of strength and unity of the camp of Socialism and the Communist Parties of the world.
Marxist-Leninist Caucus within the CPUSA, 1957

Well I think Eugene qualifies as a Marxist-Leninist being a former General Secretary of the CPUSA (1945-59), though I don't quite know how he can qualify as an anti-western fighter since the CPUSA was the same party that declared "Communism is Twentieth Century Americanism"

Communism is Twentieth Century Americanism. The Com-
munist Party continues the traditions of 1776, of the birth
of our country, of the revolutionary Lincoln, who led the his-
toric struggle that preserved our nation. In the greater crisis
of today only the Communist Party shows a way to a better
life now, and to the future of peace, freedom, and security
for all.

By supporting, working with, and voting for the Communist
Party in the November elections; by organizing the mass pro-
duction industries into powerful industrial unions, in a united
American Federation of Labor, by independent political action
and by building the American people's front — the Farmer-
Labor Party — the toilers of America can best fight for the
realization of their aims in 1936.

The Twentieth century Americanism period is not only an embarrassing slogan, it was the summary of a years long attempt by the Communist Party to reorient itself into a legitimate electoral party and present itself as the heirs of Washington. 

That platform was produced under his predecessor Earl Browder. After World War II ended and tensions started building up with the start of the Cold War Browder found himself out of the job and out of the party by 1946 with Eugene stepping into his shoes. But what's interesting is that most of the pressure against Browder came not from Eugene Dennis or from within the CPUSA but from outside the party, particularly the Soviet Union and the French Communist Party.

AS: But in 1945 Browder went out as a result of Duclos' attack on his coalition line.
GG: I was terribly shocked by the article. But in my naiveté and innocence, I was shocked because I was supposed to have been involved in what was a betrayal of Marxism. This was undoubtedly coming from Moscow, and had greater significance than an article by some leader of the French party who suddenly attacks the line of the American party without even letting us know his views beforehand. According to the Italians, later on, there is evidence that it was not aimed so much at Browder and the party here as at the Italian and French parties. The fear was that, with their underground fighting against the Nazis, they would emerge with tremendous prestige and be able to take an independent course. And while the blow was struck against us here, it wasn't necessarily concerned with us alone.

So from 1934-45 Eugene Dennis was complicit in what became known as "Browderism deviation". I feel its also worth pointing out that even after Khrushchev denounced Stalin in his not very secret speech Dennis stuck with the CPUSA and the Soviet Union. He stepped down from his position of General Secretary in 1959 for health reasons, but remained on its National Committee until his death in 1961.

This is one of the unique failings of Marxism-Leninism as a tendency, it can't really work because its main source of legitimacy was the Soviet Union, but the leadership of the Soviet Union rips any attempt at continuity to shreds. After Lenin's death there's a confusing few years of collective leadership split between people who publicly hate each other and went out of their way to undermine their rivals by emphasising their heresies and deficiencies. Stalin wins the struggle but in the process had to denounce and destroy many of the leading figures in the Party's past. Stalin dies, another period of struggle for dominance, Khrushchev wins, destroys his rivals, and proceeds to public demolish the record of Stalin. Khrushchev falls, is replaced quickly by Brezhnev, whom proceeds to damage Khrushchev's reputation though not to the same degree as Stalin's. Its only after Brezhnev that you get a period of continuity (commonly called the period of stagnation).

But from 1923 onwards you have all these fraternal parties around the world with their own leaders and personalities either going along with this constant reinvention and reversal or getting expelled. Virtually every prominent ML will have done something that had they done so a few years earlier or later would be grounds for expulsion and discrediting.  

This is why initially in the 1950s the ML camp was split in two, between the Revisionists (willing to still follow the post Stalin Soviet Union) and the Anti-revisionists (people who weren't).

kim jong un,

Alexandra Kollontai - I'm sure her inclusion will annoy some tribalistic Left Communist types, but personally I think she belongs on this list quite comfortably. From what I can tell she never really condemned or opposed the Bolshevik parties increasingly dictatorial direction and its repression of other Socialists. Here opposition was largely based on disagreements over the New Economic Policy and the role of the Bolshevik party controlled Trade Unions in economic planning.

She made it perfectly clear she was ok with repression by the party. For example in 1921 she gave a speech that argues the Bolshevik government should not pass a law against sex work, however the reason she's against such a law is because it was unnecessary because sex workers could already be arrested an sent to labour camps for the crime of labour desertion.

We now call the “honest merchant” a speculator, and instead of awarding him honorary tides we drag him before a special committee and put him in a forced labour camp. Why do we do this?’ Because we know that we can only build a new communist economy if all adult citizens are involved in productive labour. The person who does not work and who lives off someone else or on an unearned wage harms the collective and the republic. We, therefore, hunt down the speculators, the traders and the hoarders who all live off unearned income. We must fight prostitution as another form of labour desertion.
After Stalin came to power and purged the Left opposition Kollontai managed to survive and kept working for the Soviet government as an ambassador to Scandinavia. Whilst there she pressured those governments to expel dissident communists like Hugo Urbhans from Sweden. In fact there's a somewhat well known picture of an older Kollontai covered in medals given to her by Stalin's administration.

So yeah I think she counts. Don't really know how a national ambassador can be considered anti western though, the international system was built as part of Western hegemony.


frida kahlo,

Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky

Subcomandante Marcos - Marcos is a member of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) as the Zapatista part-named after the prominent Mexican Anarchist revolutionary Emiliano Zapata- indicates they're inspired by more libertarian ideas. Officially the EZLN says its politics and praxis is something called Neozapatismo, which is a blending of libertarian socialism, anarchism, Marxism with Mayan traditions.

A popular slogan associated with the EZLN is

"For everyone, everything. For us, nothing" (Para todos todo, para nosotros nada)
I would love to know what the author was thinking including Subcomandante Marcos on a list of Tankies, I don't really associate a collection of communal villages and an militia made up of struggling peasants with the tenets of Marxism-Leninism.

I mean given the class background of many Zapatistas rural peasants traditional Marxist-Leninist wisdom writes them off as petite bourgeois and incapable of revolutionary consciousness without the guiding hand of a dominating workers party.

During the revolt in Chiapas according to Marcos in this interview from 1997 the revolt was sparked by the refusal of the Mexican government to integrate its indigenous population into its society as equal citizens.

He says that the fight would be over if the government would agree and keep its word to give the indigenous communities respect and autonomy.

And the Zapatista's have been open and active members in broad coalitions of Mexican civil society.

The EZLN’s declaration of war represented a break from traditional strategies associated with guerrilla movements in Latin America. After the uprising, the EZLN advocated bottom-up democratization rather than the seizing of state power and nonviolence rather than guerrilla warfare. It emphasized the potential of “civil society” (in EZLN usage, the subordinate individuals and organizations independent of the state’s corporatist structures)for bringing about democratic change. The Zapatistas’ vision sharply contrasted with the PRI’s policy of a managed transition to electoral democracy including radical free-market reforms that had a negative impact on peasant life (Collier,1994;Barry, 1995; Harvey, 1998; Otero,1999).
I just don't see it. As an anti western fighter its a bit better, the EZLN have been very vocal about opposing neoliberalism and in particular the NAFTA agreement. An odd choice, I know obnoxious tankies like to latch on to one of their oldest statements about not being anarchists, and some of the original Zapatistas came out of the Mexican Maoist currents, but they are named after Mexico's most famous Anarchist, and that same communique described their inspirations as being more liberatarian in ethos. And in order to survive when their initial march failed radically re-organise and open up in a way that's fundamentally incompatible with standard Marxist-Leninist dogma.

Abimael Guzman,

In the face of reactionary military actions and the use of mesnadas, we responded with a devastating action: Lucanamarca. Neither they nor we have forgotten it, to be sure, because they got an answer that they didn't imagine possible. More than 80 were annihilated, that is the truth. And we say openly that there were excesses, as was analyzed in 1983. But everything in life has two aspects. Our task was to deal a devastating blow in order to put them in check, to make them understand that it was not going to be so easy. On some occasions, like that one, it was the Central Leadership itself that planned the action and gave instructions. That's how it was. In that case, the principal thing is that we dealt them a devastating blow, and we checked them and they understood that they were dealing with a different kind of people's fighters, that we weren't the same as those they had fought before. This is what they understood. The excesses are the negative aspect. Understanding war, and basing ourselves on what Lenin said, taking Clausewitz into account, in war, the masses engaged in combat can go too far and express all their hatred, the deep feelings of class hatred, repudiation and condemnation that they have--that was the root of it. This has been explained by Lenin very clearly. Excesses can be committed.

The above snippet is from an interview Abimael Guzman gave to El Diario a pro Shining Path newspaper, and the photo is a scene of the aftermath of the 1983 massacre of Lucanamarca where the Shining Path murdered over 60 villagers including women and children. As Guzman himself admits Lucanamarca was not an isolated event. Murders of the Peru's indigenous population were so common at the hands of the Shining Path that most statistics on the death toll of Peru's Internal War put the civilian casualty rate from the rebels and the army at parity, some even estimate that the Shining Path managed to kill more civilians then the army.

Abimael Guzman was philosophy Professor turned Maoist insurgent after a spell in the Moscow dominated Communist Party (he was expelled for deviations). His political movement the Communist Party of Peru but are more famous by their name Shining Path.

Despite issues with their line on excesses the Shinning Path were a pretty capable fighting force, even without their leader (Guzman was captured and arrested in 1992) though the loss of Guzman marked the groups decline, with thousands of its fighters surrendering in the 90s. The Shinning Path rump remained active into the 21st century, although over the years they developed reputations for getting involved in the cocaine trafficking, and kidnapping rackets, and the occasional civilian murder.

But fortunes remain grim, by 2006 one of last leaders `Comrade Artemio` was asking for a truce, the government turned him down, and in 2012 he was severely wounded and captured in a raid on his main base. Comrade Artemio pulled through and joined Guzman in the Peruvian penal system.

Like Guzman, Artemio acknowledges and admits to committing many of the acts that he's been accused of.

Prosecutor Marcos Guzman Baca read out the crimes attributed to the rebel chief between 1989 and 2011, including the murder of 131 people: 56 soldiers, 43 police and 32 civilians. La Republica published an account of the hearing, which lasted 48 hours.

On Thursday, at the end of the reading of the crimes that he is charged with, the prosecutor asked Florindo Flores how he pleaded.

“I accept everything,” he answered.

“What do you mean?” asked Guzman.

“That I take responsibility for the acts as chief of the Regional Committee of Huallaga. What you have read are acts of war,” said Artemio.


At this point, prosecutor Marcos Guzman asked him why, if he considered that he was fighting a war against the Peruvian state, he ordered the killing of civilians.

“They were not ordinary civilians. We are talking about informers, collaborators with the armed forces, traitors to the party, criminals who extorted people using the name of our organization, common criminals, and homosexuals,” said Artemio.

The bit at the end caught my eye, its not a good look when one of the leaders of guerrilla army you're praising casually equates homosexuality with crime and informers and openly admits to murdering them.

The Internal War was hell for a lot of Peruvians, many were caught between the violent repression of the police and army and the violent repression of the armed rebel groups. Peru's Queer community was singled out for repression and violence by all sides.

Journalist Amanda Meza published the first investigation into the ordeals that the LGBT community underwent during the armed conflict of the 80’s and 90’s on Thursday. 

According to the report, the armed groups Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), and the right wing government armed forces lead by former president Fujimori committed crimes against these communities.

Meza explains that she has found “untold stories, stories of hate, stories of horrific policies of extermination of populations that are poor, far away, and invisible.”

In particular, the MRTA had a homophobic policy that equated homosexuals with criminals and proudly announced their murders.

The consensus seems to be that the MRTA a rival ML paramilitary that feuded with the Shining Path was the most enthusiastic in targeting Peruvian homosexuals but they weren't alone in pushing for "social cleansing".

Not even the epoch of terrorism was able to destroy us, despite the fact that Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) had a policy of social "cleansing" toward homosexuals, along with prostitutes, common criminals, and drug addicts. to them we were the worst scum. And I don't think the armed forces thought differently, despite being polar opposites politically.

The Shining Path has also been known to engage in rape of women in the areas that it controlled, like the targetting of homosexuals they aren't alone in this, the Peruvian Internal War like all wars is known for all sides engaging these atrocities, but that doesn't make it ok for the Shining Path to do it, nor does it mean its vocal supporters should be let off the hook for it either.

CW: this image is a screen cap of an account of a rape by a Shinning Path member with the full knowledge of his cadre, its graphic and disturbing.

So the leader of a terrorist group that massacres villages and has been known to target homosexuals. How about improving lives for millions? Not really, they terrorised the populations under their control at their peak, and have failed pretty conclusively in their struggle with the government. Guzman is serving life in prison and the splinters of the Shining Path continue to wither.

Mirza Kuchik Khan,

Mirza Kuchik Khan, was one of the leaders of what's commonly known as the Soviet Republic of Gilan or the Persian Socialist Soviet, Gilan is in the North of Iran and the socialist republic was formed in the wake of the Russian Revolution, though the movement that led to its formation and which Khan was a leading figure predates it and started in 1914. The Republic was forcibly destroyed in 1921, Khan was one of the casualties.

Dying in 1921 he wasn't a Marxist-Leninist, indeed the Communist party of Iran (founded in 1920) was founded out of a merging of Iranian Socialists and social democrats of varying tendencies flocking to Gilan and the protection of Khan's Jangali fighters and Soviet troops that had crossed the Caspian. The only thing that can be said for certain is that the CPI and the Soviet relied heavily on the support of the Soviet Union, the troops deployed their allowed the Gilan Soviet to operate in the open, and when the CPI found itself deep in a factional crisis Khan had to request mediation from the Bolshevik party, from what I've read it didn't work the CPI remained bitterly divided until after the collapse of the Soviet.

This dependence on the Soviet Union was its fatal flaw, because in the grand scheme of things Gilan was never really a priority for Soviet foreign policy, the main reason for their intervention in Northern Iran was to put a stop to White army attacks from across the border, the White army often established bases outside the old Empire to attack the Reds, they did it in Northern China and Mongolia too.

While the Gilan Soviet was establishing itself Lenin's Soviet government was negotiating a trade deal with the United Kingdom, which was the Anglo-Soviet Trade Agreement of 1921. The agreement doesn't mention Iran or Persia as it was commonly known, but it does contain a clause whereby the Soviet Union agrees not to engage in actions hostile to the British Empire in Asia

(a) That each party refrains from hostile action or undertakings against the other and from conducting outside of its own borders any official propaganda direct or indirect against the institutions of the British Empire or the Russian Soviet Republic respectively, and more particularly that the Russian Soviet Government refrains from any attempt by military or diplomatic or any other form of action or propaganda to encourage any of the peoples of Asia in any form of hostile action against British interests or the British Empire, especially in India and in the Independent State of Afghanistan. The British Government gives a similar particular undertaking to the Russian Soviet Government in respect of the countries which formed part of the former Russian Empire and which have now become independent.

Shortly afterwards there was a coup in Tehran which lead to the rise of Reza Khan soon to be known as Reza Shah. After the coup Lenin's government negotiated with him and those negotiations lead to the Russo-Persian Treaty of Friendship 1921. Both treaties lead to the Soviet Union cutting back its support for Gilan drastically. Its troops were recalled and it stood aside as Reza's forces launched an offensive on the Gilan Soviet.

By the spring of 1921 they had negotiated agreements with both countries, guaranteeing non-interference in Russia's affairs in return for, among other things, their respecting the neutrality of Persia. The treaty with Britain, which concentrated on trade, included a clause in which the Bolsheviks undertook not to engage in anti-British propaganda in Asia; and under the agreement with Reza Khan's government the Russian troops began to withdraw from Gilan. In so doing, the Russians removed an important support of the Gilan Republic. Whilst they tried to produce some reconciliation of the Gilani movement and the central government, this was a failure; and amid protests from the Baku section of their own party the Russians then accepted the destruction of the revolutionary enclave as a necessary part of their wider campaign to neutralise their southern neighbour.

The Soviet was defeated, and Mirza Kuchich Khan had to flee into the mountains where he died of frostbite.

Not Lenin's finest hour. But the example of Mirza Kuchich Khan and Gilan is more important than just another example of revolt failing to gain momentum. It establishes a pattern for both the Soviet Union and later all the major nation states ruled by Communist parties. At best external revolutionary groups and insurrections are opportunities for advancement or auxiliary resources. The USSR had a choice in Iran, continue backing the Gilan revolutionaries in the face of opposition from Reza Khan and the British Empire, or use both powers desire for stability in the region to extract concessions.

The Soviet Union got what it wanted, it crossed the border to eliminate raids by its enemies, and got recognition and trade agreements with the British Empire and the new government in Iran. Its border was now secure and its economy could develop, all it had to do is let the Iranians settle their own scores and cutback on agitprop in Asia.

Stalin would do much the same later, he even negotiated with the British Empire over Eastern Europe, sacrificing thousands of loyal and committed Marxist-Leninist Communists in the process. Mao Zedong would negotiate with the United States behind the back of North Vietnam, and Cuba maintained trade and diplomatic relations with Franco's Spain, ignoring all the Communist party members in Spanish prisons, and being garrotted.

Rosa Luxemburg - When the meme went live a lot of people focussed on Rosa being included as an object of ridicule. To be honest I was expecting it, ever since Rosa died there's been an effort by nearly all the main currents of Marxism to use her legacy as a recruiting tool. They all have their reasons and selective reading lists, but honestly I suspect the drive to claim her is caused mainly by the combination of her fame -she has a lot more mainstream recognition than many other Marxists- and the romantic image of her as tragic revolutionary cut down in the fight for a better world.

I have just two corrections, I have actually seen a couple Social Democrats try to use Rosa as a selling point, and also the "Orthodox Marxists" should have a clawing hand too.
How's the Tankie case fair? Pretty poorly to be honest. She spent most of her political life in the German Social Democratic party, and must of her writing reflecting that organisation. She would in the 1910s begin to break with the SPD over its increasingly patriotic and militaristic realignment, and with its turn away from `mass politics` street demonstrations and the general strike in favour of an almost exclusively electoral strategy, and she died in 1919 years before Marxism Leninism became a thing.

However her falling out with the leadership of the SPD did not lead to her moving towards the Bolsheviks. was actually a very vocal critic of the Bolsheviks, her most famous criticism is Marxism or Leninism? written in 1904, though its original title was the much less marketable Organisational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy. But that was not the only one, she also criticised the Bolsheviks even after the October revolution, for example in the Russian Tragedy published in September 1918 she accuses Lenin and the Bolsheviks of selling out the revolution in Germany and much of Eastern Europe by signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. 

And yet these calculations largely overlooked the most crucial factor, namely German militarism, to which Russia surrendered unconditionally through the separate peace. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was in reality nothing but the capitulation of the revolutionary Russian proletariat to German militarism. Admittedly Lenin and his friends deluded neither themselves no other about the facts. They candidly admitted their capitulation. Unfortunately, they did deceive themselves in hoping to purchase a genuine respite at the price of this capitulation, to enable them to save themselves from the hellfire of the world war by means of a separate peace. They did no take into account the fact that the capitulation of Russia at Brest-Litovsk meant an enormous strengthening of the imperialist Pan-German policy and thus a lessening of the chances for a revolutionary rising in Germany. Nor did they see that this capitulation would bring about not the end of the war against Germany, but merely the beginning of a new chapter of this war.

In fact the ‘peace’ of Brest-Litovsk is an illusion. Not for a moment was there peace between Russia and Germany. War has continued since Brest-Litovsk up to the present time, but the war is a unique one, waged only by one side: systematic German advance and tacit Bolshevik retreat, step by step. Occupation of the Ukraine, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, the Crimea, the Caucasus, larger and larger tracts of the southern Russia – this is the result of the ‘state of peace’ since Brest-Litovsk.

She continues to blame German Social Democracy for sharing responsibility for this situation

The blame of the Bolsheviks’ failures is borne in the final analysis by the international proletariat and above all by the unprecedented and persistent baseness of German Social Democracy. This party which in peace-time pretended to march at the head of the world proletariat, which presumed to advise and lead the whole world, which in its own country counted at least ten million supporters of both sexes – this is the party which has nailed socialism to the cross twenty-four hours a day for the four years at the bidding of the ruling class like venal mercenaries of the Middle Ages.

So by this point in time she was moving away from both factions.

So what was she moving to? Well in 1918 there was a revolution in Germany after mutinying sailors kicked off a massive uprising in the German military which brought out many German workers. It resulted in the establishment of a very extensive workers council movement, and provoked the immediate abdication of the Kaiser and the suing for peace from the German high command so it could send loyal units back into Germany to deal with the revolt. At this time the majority of the SPD leadership also made a pact with the generals to restore order.

Rosa and a small number of collaborators, most well known of which are Karl Liebknecht and Clara Zetkin, formed a group called the Spartacus League, in 1919 they changed their name to the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), but they're usually still referred to as the Spartacists until after the Revolution.

What did the Spartacists want? Well here's an excerpt from their 1918 manifesto

The question today is not democracy or dictatorship. The question that history has put on the agenda reads: bourgeois democracy or socialist democracy. For the dictatorship of the proletariat does not mean bombs, putsches, riots and anarchy, as the agents of capitalist profits deliberately and falsely claim. Rather, it means using all instruments of political power to achieve socialism, to expropriate the capitalist class, through and in accordance with the will of the revolutionary majority of the proletariat.
Also on November the 9th 1918 Karl Liebknecht publicly proclaimed a "Free Socialist Republic" after the moderate Social Democrat leader Schiedemann declared Germany a Republic at the Reichstag.

They weren't very Tankieish, the Spartacist were a minority amongst the council movement but nevertheless kept working within it even after the moderate though increasingly openly reactionary SPD faction led by Ebert gained a majority. Despite this setback unlike the Bolsheviks whom turned their backs on the Constituent Assembly when it didn't give them the results they wanted, this was Rosa's positon on the National Assembly of  workers councils.

The bourgeois gentlemen, with the Ebert government at their head, would use the National Assembly to banish and cripple the class struggle and to avoid taking the revolutionary decision. In defiance of this plan, the class struggle should storm into the National Assembly itself; it should utilize the elections and the deliberations of the National Assembly precisely for the purpose of accelerating the revolutionary decision.

We are approaching turbulent times. Unemployment and economic conflicts will grow relentlessly in the next few weeks and months.

The great confrontation between capital and labour will determine the course of future history and, in its final result, admits of no other decision than the destruction of capitalist rule and the triumph of socialism. This confrontation will see to it that the masses’ revolutionary feeling and activity in the country will grow every day.

According to the plan of the Ebert crowd, the National Assembly will create a dam against this revolutionary deluge. So it must be a question of directing the deluge right into and through the National Assembly to wash the dam away. The electoral action and the floor of this counter-revolutionary parliament should be a means of training, rallying and mobilizing the revolutionary mass, and a stage in the struggle for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

An assault by the masses on the gates of the National Assembly, the clenched fist of the revolutionary proletariat raised from the middle of the assembly and waving the banner upon which glow the fiery letters: All power to the councils – this is our participation in the National Assembly!

If there's any declaration of allegiance here its to her old roots in Social Democracy. This would be one of her last texts as in January 1919 she would be beaten to death and have her body thrown in the Spree river. This was in the aftermath of what was known as the Spartacist uprising, but most people agree that, that was Liebknecht's idea so I cover that when I get to him.

Nadezhda Krupskaya, - Krupskaya  a curious choice, Lenin's wife and deputy education minister of the Soviet Union. She clashed with Stalin quite a bit during the Bolshevik factional fight for power when her husband died. She sided with Kamenev and Zinoviev during much of the squabbling, alternatively criticising Trotsky and allying with him depending on how struggle went. That how period is rather opportunistic and confusing really. Most notably she was vocally against turning her late husband into a patron saint of the Soviet Union.
I have a great request of you. Do not permit your grief for Ilyich [Lenin] to take the form of external reverence for his person. Do not raise memorials to him, palaces named after him, splenderous festivals in commemoration of him. To all this he attached so little importance in his life, all this was so burdensome to him.
But once Stalin became triumphant she seems to have settled down. She certainly did better than her old comrades Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev who were imprisoned and executed as traitors in 1936.

Zinoviev, taken by the NKVD after his arrest in 1934
One thing of note I did find about her later career was that she supported the restriction on the right of abortion. She wrote a preface for a pamphlet arguing for the restrictions.

After widespread discussion at meetings and in the press of the draft decree ”on the prohibition of abortions, increased material assistance to young mothers, the establishment of government aid for large families, the extension of the network of maternity homes, nurseries and kindergartens, increased penalties for failure to pay alimony, and certain alterations in the divorce laws”, this decree with certain additions and amendments, has been passed by the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the U.S.S.R.


Fifteen years have passed since that article was written. Our country has become rich, mighty, and prosperous. Our people are better educated and more enlightened. Women have become a force in the collective farm. They have become active in social work. Many of the women are Stakhanovites. They are studying hard. The Party and the government surround the children with public care. They make their childhood a happy one. It is with good cause that millions of working women are so devoted to Stalin – they see his solicitude for the working women.

Under these new conditions the questions of the family and of abortions appear in a new light. The new decree will play an extremely important part in remoulding people’s modes of life.

It is essential to carry out this decree on the widest possible scale, to fight for good maternity homes, nurseries and kindergartens. There is much work ahead.

Bit of an odd choice, but if they wish to embrace an opportunist and pro life candidate then I won't lose much sleep over it.

Bobby Seale,


"We risked our lives for the party's sake and now the party is doing injustice to us," said combatant Dhan Bahadur Rana from Arunkhola, Nawalparasi. "The amount we are paid is peanuts. We are shocked that the party is trying to take it from us."
Prachanda is the war name of the leader of the largest Nepalese Maoist party and has been that country's Prime Minister on two occasions. His party and its military wing began a civil war in the 1990s and when the King launched a coup and installed himself as dictator in 2005 Prachanda was able to enter into an alliance with seven other political parties that eventually gave the army the strength to topple the king. But instead of proclaiming a People's Republic like their neighbours to the north, Prachanda and the Maoists found themselves the caretakers of multiparty parliamentary system.

Incidentally the People's Republic of China was one of the last military supporters of the King in his war against the Maoist guerrilla's.

Nepal has looked to China for arms since the US, UK and India suspended military aid after King Gyanendra's takeover of power in February.
There has been no official confirmation of the delivery by Nepal's government.
The BBC's Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu says external assistance is crucial for Nepal's army in its fight against the rebels, who want a communist republic.

Most of my knowledge of Prachanda comes from the now defunct American Maoist realignment Kasama. As an example of a successful military campaign, against a feudal king no less, the Nepalese Maoists attracted a lot of attention. However most of their writing on Prachanda was extremely hostile and negative. Words like sell out and traitor were quite common.

At one point the Nepalese Maoist movement declared that their approach to politics was encapsulated in an evolving synthesis they called Prachanda Path — after their founding leader Prachanda.
In subsequent years, Prachanda became part of a political move to the right, abandoning and then disbanding the essential gainst of the revolution — the base areas, the peoples courts, the Peoples Liberation Army, and essentially the hopes of revolution itself.
Kasama an quite a few other Maoists eventually shifted over to supporting opposition groups from within the party.

Why the hate after leading a successful military campaign? Well, corruption and a path that saw the Maoist party increasingly move to the electoral centre and a responsible party of government. Shortly after winning elections the Maoist government took steps to encourage foreign investment and restrict the power of the Nepalese labour movement. By 2009 they were pushing for strike bans

KATHMANDU, Jan 22: After four years of finalizing the draft, the cabinet on Thursday endorsed Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act, paving way for the implementation of the SEZ projects in the country. [...]
...the Act treats SEZ as a land where other domestic laws related to labor and industries would not be applicable. It has mooted an autonomous SEZ Authority to oversee its operations.
The source stated that the ratification of the Act, which had so far lingered due to the differences over the tighter labor provisions, had became possible after the seven parties recently agreed not to launch strikes in the industries or disturb productions.

“The Act allows workers to unite and practice collective bargaining, but prohibits them from undertaking activities that affect production and normal operations of industries,” said the source. It also allows the entrepreneurs to hire workers on a contract basis. [Our emphasis.]
And its People's Liberation Army was folded into state Nepalese army, though the transition proved controversial, not only as it was seen as a further capitulation to capitalist development, but also because of a scandal where the party leadership and the army officers were pocketing most of the demobilisation pay of the rank and file.
The total amount of money the party has collected from the salaries of the 19,528 combatants since 2006 stands Rs 1.17 billion.

Going by what the party pledged to the combatants, Rs 585.84 million should now go back into the pockets of the combatants.

But many junior PLA commanders doubt if the party will return the money easily.

“We are not sure if we will get the total amount we are supposed to get as voluntary retirement packages, let alone return of the deposits,” says a junior level commander.

But some others are mulling ´tough measures´ against the party if the money is not returned.

“We may have to resort to legal procedures for justice. We will knock at the doors of the courts,” said a junior commander. [...]

Each of the seven PLA divisions is said to have millions of rupees kept from the combatants´ salaries. According to sources, a large portion of the money has already gone to party headquarters.

Besides, the combatants´ money has been invested in many ventures including the Jana Maitri Hospital and some FM radio stations.

So a Maoist insurgent, who fought against a Chinese ally, and has now become a democratic politician, who woos foreign capital, bans strikes and robs his own soldiers.

Eugene Debs - Eugene Debs was an electoral politician who believed the democratic institutions of America could bring about Socialism. I know this isn't a joke but I'm finding hard to believe it isn't. Laborwave and whoever came up with the list simply cannot have known who Eugene V. Debs was. Eugene Debs ran for President, because he wanted to become President of the United States, and he believed it was possible of the Socialist Party to achieve electoral victory.

Indeed when a rift between the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World developed in the 1910s over whether to focus on direct action or electoral action, Debs despite remaining on good terms personally with the IWW chose to stay with the electoral Socialist Party.

I'd be amazed if you could find one scrap of text in his archive that sounds even remotely Tankiesque. If anything he comes across as an Impossibilist, for example take his 1916 criticism of the Socialist Parties proposed platform.

First. The class struggle should be more clearly and specifically stated and more emphatically declared. Second. The platform should declare in positive and unequivocal terms in favor of revolutionary economic organization, and state the reason for it. This omission is, in my opinion, a grave defect. It has been the weakness of our party in the past and it will be still more the weakness of our party in the future. Hundreds of militant, redblooded Socialists have quit the party and their invaluable influence has been lost to us because of the party’s evasive, not to say cowardly, trade union attitude. We have too long feared to give offense to reactionary trade unionism, bowed to it, catered to it, and been inoculated with it, instead of maintaining inviolate our uncompromising integrity and inoculating the union movement with the virile spirit of the revolution.

He believed in a combination of a strong revolutionary Union organisation and helped found the IWW, an organisation that's often regarded as anarchistic, and a strong electoral movement putting Socialist party candidates into office. By all criteria his inclusion is absurd.

Khorloogiin Choibalsan,

As Tankie candidates go this one's hard to argue with, a nickname for Choibalsan was even "Mongolian Stalin". The People's Republic of Mongolia was extremely cordial to the USSR, even friendly accounts of Choibalsan and the MPR describe it as a satellite or junior partner. It wasn't completely one-sided trade and investment from the Soviet Union enabled the MPR to invest in education and infrastructure and Soviet patronage would eventually lead to more of the world recognising its independence from China.

However that close relationship meant the MPR and Choibalsan emulated the nasty side of the Soviet Union. In many ways Mongolia in the 30s mirrored the Soviet Union. It too had its purges of the party, prominent leaders exposed as vile counter revolutionaries and spies, massacres and show trials.

A Stalin era mass grave has been uncovered in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator.
Investigators say the grave, found on a construction site, contains the bodies of hundreds of executed Buddhist monks and civilians.
They say that 348 skulls with bullet holes in the back have been found, and that the number of bodies could top 1,000.
Some 90 percent of the dead were found with the remains of yellow and red garments and religious items usually worn by Buddhist monks, investigators said. But objects belonging to civilians from the upper and middle classes were also found.
Historians say at least 30,000 intellectuals, dissidents, noblemen and monks were killed in purges by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) in the 1930s.

Choibalsan is mainly remembered for his attempts to liquidate Mongolia's version of Buddhism but many of his victims were also long term party comrades. The show trial that started the waves of state violence in the 30s involved alleging a conspiracy by senior Buddhists and party members, in addition one of Choibalsan's collaborators in political murder would himself be denounced, tried and executed later on.

The Jongzin Qambu’s trial was the first public knowledge of the threat Mongolia was said to be facing. It was also the first trial held under the auspices of the Extraordinary Plenipotentiary Commission, a three-person committee consisting of Choibalsang, at the time minister of defense (often referred to as “Mongolia’s Stalin,” he had received some education at a monastery in his youth); Lubsangsharab, representing the party (a former lama, he was arrested and executed in 1939 as a counterrevolutionary); and Tseringdorji, the justice minister. It was this commission that was responsible for authorizing and legitimating much of the violence to follow.14 The Jongzin Qambu, his deputy Damdin, ex–Prime Minister Gend¨un, and ex–Minister of War Marshal Demid were all named as counterrevolutionaries in the top-secret resolution creating the commission (Rinchin 1993:123–124). Their trial was clearly intended as the showpiece and justification for all that was to follow.


I mean I'm fully in agreement here with the authors, I'm not sure why they'd want to point to a man who filled mass graves and killed his own party colleagues as an inspiration though, not exactly a recruit winner to me.

Paul Robeson - Not really sure why Paul is here given the stated criteria by the meme artist and list maker, he was a pretty loyal member of the CPUSA, and had very nice things to say about the Soviet Union and Mao's China, so I guess we could say he was an ML (if we ignore all the other ex members of the CPUSA whom both denounced it and are also on this list). Don't really see how Paul Robeson helped millions out of poverty though.

He was a fine singer and actor, I have several of his albums, but that's not really "materially helping millions". He was active in anti-fascist work during the Spanish civil war, but the artist seems to be sneering at that so I guess that isn't a reason for inclusion.

I enjoy he's songs, one album that's very special to me is Paul Robeson and the Transatlantic Exchange concert. Its one of the first transatlantic broadcasts and involves Paul Robeson talking to and trading songs with Welsh miners.

"In 1957 the South Wales area of the National Mineworkers Union extended an invitation to their great friend Paul Robeson to attend the South Wales Miners eisteddfod at Portcawl's Grand Pavillion. he couldn't come, the American government wouldn't let him leave the country because Robeson had upset too many people with he's outspoken views, and he was a victim of McCarthyism.
But the NUM weren't about to give up, they established an audiolink with New York from Porthcawl via the Transatlantic telephone, not as easy to do in those days as it is now. So Robeson was able to speak and sing to his admirers waiting their to hear him."

The quotation is from the introduction by John Humphreys, if you're not familiar with Wales then that name won't mean much to you, but if you are familiar then you'll know the significance of John Humphreys speaking on this matter. Humphreys was a newsreader for the BBC but he's highprofile and still noticeable Welsh accent made him a sort of hero of Wales. The CD is a mix of songs by Robeson and the Miners choir and a slection of short speeches from Robeson and Will Painter then President of the South Wales miners, denouncing the US government and pledging international friendship. Its very touching.

Robeson's connections to Wales go back to the early 30's when he ran into a group of blacklisted miners from the Rhondda valley who had been blacklisted for their participation in the 1926 General strike. That was the start of a long and deep friendship, Robeson kept in touch and collaborated with the Welsh Miners on many occasions, including singing at a benefit for the funerals of Welsh volunteers killed in Spain.

If you search Paul Robeson and Wales you'll find many articles calling Robeson a hero of Wales, for example many articles from Welsh newspapers and websites were very eager to hear the news that the director of Twelve Years a Slave is planning on making a film about Paul Robeson.

Is there a point to all this? Well yes there is. See I have no problems saying that Paul Robeson was a supporter of the CPUSA, the USSR or even the ideological construct of ML. But I don't really buy him being at hear a Tankie, and I think he's deep connections to the miners of Wales are excellent proof. I know nowadays its common to call all MLish people and groups Tankies, but that's not really very accurate, many of the victims of Tankie style terror are often fellow ML members in good standing.

For example in Hungary in 1956 one of the most high profile victims of the Soviet invasion was Imre Nagy. Nagy is often called a "Reform Communist" and left at that, but Imre Nagy was in the party for years. He was a senior member during the leadership of Rakosi, the man who used to brag that he was Stalin's most devout Hungarian disciple. If Rakosi didn't get rid of him he can't have been to far away from the Tankie position surely? And after the defeat of Prague Spring many of those imprisoned or exiled were fellow party members some of whom were active during the resistance to the Nazi occupation. And Sankara was killed by his own second in command, Sankara and Blaise worked together from the beginning, so the differences between the two couldn't have been that extreme in the 80's. And many of the victims of Stalin's purges were fellow party members whom Stalin had worked with for years in many trying circumstances.

As far as I'm concerned, its not enough to have the complete works of Stalin on your bookshelf to make you a Tankie (otherwise the term Tankie and ML are meaningless). What pushes a person into that bracket is extreme sectarianism and intra-sectarianism where even members whom agree on 90% of the manifesto or policy platform are potential enemies. 

In contrast Paul Robeson built decades of connections and friendships with the Welsh miners whom while having some sympathy to the old CPGB were the Labour parties most solid support base. In the Southern areas there was also a tradition of syndicalism with the establishment of the South Wales Miners Federation[62]. So unless the two authors would have us beleive Paul Robeson would be happy for Red Brigades to shoot up the Rhondda valley or turn Pontypridd into a labour camp, I don't think he counts.

raul castro,

Langston Hughes,
Hughes was accused of being a Communist by many on the political right, but he always denied it. When asked why he never joined the Communist Party, he wrote, "it was based on strict discipline and the acceptance of directives that I, as a writer, did not wish to accept." In 1953, he was called before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations led by Senator Joseph McCarthy. He stated, "I never read the theoretical books of socialism or communism or the Democratic or Republican parties for that matter, and so my interest in whatever may be considered political has been non-theoretical, non-sectarian, and largely emotional and born out of my own need to find some way of thinking about this whole problem of myself."[80] Following his testimony, Hughes distanced himself from Communism.[81] He was rebuked by some on the Radical Left who had previously supported him. He moved away from overtly political poems and towards more lyric subjects. When selecting his poetry for his Selected Poems (1959) he excluded all his radical socialist verse from the 1930s.[81]

I know its considered bad form to use Wikipedia, but I found this paragraph to be so perfect as a rebuttal to the decision to include him on this list. Also I'd just like to point out that most of the images used for the collage above are found on their namesake's wiki pages, which coupled with the glaring issues with many of these individuals, tells me the authors couldn't be bothered to even read the wiki pages.

I confess I wasn't particularly familiar with Langston Hughes before reading this list, so I guess some thanks are in order, he seems very interesting.

However just the wiki page should have been enough to discourage the list maker and the artist, Hughes was part of the Harlem Renaissance, he wrote poetry and political essays, some of which were quite influential, though he was criticised by some fellow Harlem Renaissance personalities for taking his ideas of cultural nationalism and black pride too far into a chauvinistic direction.

He seems to have been telling the truth about having never joined the party, but he was close to many of the CPUSA's front groups and associations. But then I was close to the CPB's front groups and associations ten or so years ago, if I give the artist a passport photo could I make the next list?

He did find time to sign a petition in support of Stalin's purges, which isn't a good look, and he was active in a group called American Peace Mobilisation (APM). APM was a group ran by the CPUSA to keep the USA out of a war in Europe even though it was almost certain at the time that the US would enter the war against the Axis powers. Which also isn't a good look.

Incidentally APM would eventually be classified as a subversive organisation, but unlike the typical story of McCarthyite paranoia the case against APM was substantial. Most damming was that it reversed its platform immediately after the start of Operation Barbarossa, it even changed its name to American People's Mobilisation demanding America's immediate entry into the war now that the Soviet Union was threatened.

So not really getting the Tankie cred here, but like I said, I'm not an expert, its possible there's more compelling evidence in Hughes body of work. If they want to lay claim to a man closely associated with chauvinism and who never joined the party, then I ain't going to lose any sleep over it.

Yuri Kochiyama,

Yuri Kochiyama is one of the few surviving members of the New Left period and has been involved and connected with many personalities and struggles including Malcolm X and American Maoism. She's also pretty famous, she was on the Google homepage for a day and there are multiple documentaries featuring her or about her. She was also nominated in 2005 and five for the Noble Peace prize as part of a group of 1,000 women, when I found that out I was very confused, because while I'm not qualified to write the difinitive Kochiyama biography, I do know she has been vocal in her support of political violence as part of many of the struggles she's supported. She was a friend and supporter of Assata Shakur (also on this list) a member of the Black Liberation Army to pick just one example, and I mean just picking one example there are dozens more that can be found with just a few minutes googling.

But then I remembered that Kissinger and Obama were not only nominated but also won the Nobel Peace Price, and that Nobel himself made his fortune inventing dynamite so I guess promoting peace isn't actually all that important of a qualification.

I'll assume the reason for Kochiyama's inclusion here is in recognition of her decades of political activism in various struggles and not the other thing she has become famous for in the early to mid 2000's. Kochiyama has on repeated occasions publicly saluted Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

I’m glad that you are curious why I consider Osama bin Laden as one of the people that I admire. To me, he is in the category of Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Fidel Castro, all leaders that I admire. They had much in common. Besides being strong leaders who brought consciousness to their people, they all had severe dislike for the US government and those who held power in the US.

That's not an off the cuff remark, this is from an interview and her praise of Bin Laden goes on beyond this. This is possibly the best refutation of the vulgar Anti-Imperialism promoted by certain sections of the pseudo left, including the authors of the list and collage. Osama Bin Laden cut his military teeth fighting against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan(DRA) and the Soviet Army. He did so as part of a group allied to the Mujihadeen which had the support of the United States government. And yes she does mention this briefly, but waves it off with a bizarre comment that even when he was helping to destabilise an ally of the Soviet Union he was really fighting the Americans.

 He was fighting for Islam and all people who believe in Islam, against westerners, especially the US--even when he was fighting against the Russians…I do not care what the US government or Americans feel--I think it’s shameful what this government has done from the beginning of its racist, loathsome history.

A young Bin Laden with Carter's National Security Advisor Brzinski
I don't see how you can square the enthusiastic gushing about the Soviet Union and Afghan communists with the sympathiser of a man responsible for the killings of those same Afghan Communists and Soviet soldiers. Now both the Soviet Army and the DRA were very brutal, but since two of the DRA leaders are in this list we'll cover that later. And after the destruction of the DRA in the 90s the Mujihadeen started sqaubbling for power continuing the civil war. At the same time a new Islamist paramilitary movement was growing in the refugee camps of Pakistan funded with Saudi Arabian donations. They are called the Taliban,

Obaid quotes a former senior Pakistani civil servant saying that in Afghanistan "the US provided the weapons and the know-how, the Saudis provided the funds, and we provided the training camps ... for the Islamic Legions in the early 1980s and then for the Taliban."
The Saudis and the US chose the Taliban, Obaid says, with the belief that they would be able to take over Afghanistan.
But it was the Taliban's supreme commander who would later demand "a removal of all US troops from Saudi Arabia". Ominously, Obaid adds, "this is the same call made by Wahhabi fundamentalists in the Kingdom before the Riyadh and Dhahran bombings. And if Mr bin Laden actually was behind these attacks, there is even more reason to fear Taliban-inspired terrorism."

The Taliban after driving the Mujahedeen out of Kabul celebrated with a wave of terror against their suspected enemies, one of the most high profile victims of this terror was the last leader of the DRA, Mohammed Najibullah (who is also on this list), he was killed and his mutilated body was hung publicly.

The Taliban seized the capital of Kabul in September 1996, driving Massoud into a northward retreat. The ousted communist leader Najibullah, who had stayed in Kabul, sought shelter in the United Nations compound, but was captured. The Taliban tortured, castrated and killed him, his mutilated body hung from a light pole just as the CIA hardliner had wished seven years earlier.
The triumphant Taliban imposed harsh Islamic law on Afghanistan. Their rule was especially cruel to women who had made gains toward equal rights under the communists, but were forced by the Taliban to live under highly restrictive rules, to cover themselves when in public, and to forgo schooling.
Normally I'd react with alarm that a so called communist(s) is supporting Bin Laden, but as we've seen and will see again plenty of people whom actively tried to eradicate communism in their borders are on this list too.

The point here is that Kochiyama is well aware of the effects of the brutal Islamic fundamentalism espoused by Bin Laden and the Taliban, she just doesn't care. She's more interested in punishing the Americans, than she is with the genuine suffering of Communists in the Middle East and Central Asia, or the Islamic minorities like the Shia who are targetted for massacres, her outlook is like many vocal "anti-imperialists" who promote and cheerlead brutal governments in other countries, motivated purely by spite. The political phrases are just mere window dressing to make the enthusiastic support of brutal repression look presentable.

I can only assume the same is true of the artist and author.

Bin Laden in 1993

Ali Soilih 

Popular support had dwindled to such a level that when a mercenary force of fifty, consisting largely of former French paratroopers, landed at Itsandra Beach north of the capital on May 12, 1978 the regular armed forces offered no resistance. The mercenaries were led by French-born Bob Denard (an alias for Gilbert Bourgeaud, also known as Said Mustapha M'Hadjou) a veteran of wars of revolution, counterrevolution, and separatism from Indochina to Biafra. (Ironically, Denard had played a role in the 1975 coup that had enabled Soilih to come to power.) Most Comorans supported the coup and were happy to be free of Soilih's ineffective and repressive regime. The deposed head of state was killed under mysterious circumstances on May 29, 1978. The official explanation was that he had attempted to escape.

Ali Soilih was a name I recognised but knew little, I'd heard of him from a Cannabis legalisation forum, apparently his brief time power marked one of the first cases of a government legalising Cannabis, apparently in an attempt to appeal to the youth. Coming to power shortly after Comoros independence from France he professed to be a revolutionary socialist and secularist. A key area of policy for his government was challenging the islands traditional culture and its Islamic influenced ceremonies.

He came to power through a coup that relied largely on French mercenaries, at least one of whom alias Bob Denard would come back in 1978 to launch another coup that would end in Soilih's defeat, capture and execution. From 76-78 Soilih was in charge of the islands of the Comoros, in addition to legalising Cannabis he also launched campaigns against traditional cultural practices such as the wearing of veils, and grand wedding ceremonies which could be very expensive.

Much of his internal power base relied on courting the young especially in recruiting for a revolutionary militia called the Moissey (sometimes spelt differently).
To make matters worse, Soilih established his version of Mao's Red Guards, the Commando Moissi. These vigilantes, trained by Tanzanian military advisers, further alienated Comorian society by acting as a repressive political police. Growing popular discontent resulted in four unsuccessful coup attempts against the Soilih regime during its two and a half-year existence.

The Moissey were often described by both supporters and critics as acting like Mao era Red Guards.

More than the absence of democracy, it is the violence and excesses of the revolution that have made the regime unpopular. Villagers locked in tanks, notables humiliated, arbitrary arrests, beatings ... The Basic Committees and commandos Moissi multiplied the abuses. " We knew that things were going badly," said the President of the Assembly of the Union, Saïd Dhoiffir, who was then coordinator of the National People's Committee. "We talked about it from time to time to the president. He told us that he was going to try to fix it but that the commandos were poorly educated, that they found themselves with responsibilities as if they had fallen from the sky, and that they had trouble finding a happy medium. And then, we had the impression that for him, it was part of the revolution. And we could not control the basic committees . "

The groups of young people who imposed their laws left bitter memories in the villages. " I was put in jail for some time because I did not agree with the coup ", says Ali M'sa, from N'tsudjini, the village of Ali Soilihi's father. " Small committees did what they wanted in the village. It was anything, anarchy. I took refuge in my banana fields and only returned at night. If we complained to the president, the committee could take revenge. So people closed their mouths. "
The opinion will be especially shocked by the case of Iconi, where the soldiers of Moroni, came to the aid of the Local Committee, suddenly opened fire, killed nine people and made 142 wounded.

Economically speaking things were rather bleak as well. Though the hostility of the former Coloniser France (who used to fund up to 40% of the Comoros budget before independence) an influx of Comoriann refugees from Madagascar where the government had been killing them, and the eruption of Mount Karthala an active volcano on Comoros did not help matters.

Soilih, who described himself as a devout Muslim, advocated a secular state and limitations on the privileges of the muftis, or Muslim jurists who interpret Islamic law. These reforms, which were perceived as attacks on Comoran traditions, combined with a deepening economic crisis to erode support for his government. Several attempts were made on Soilih's life, and in a referendum held in October 1977, only 55 percent of the voters supported a new constitution proposed by his government. Attacks by the Moissy on real and imagined political opponents escalated; raids on mosques were common; a number of refugees fled to Mahoré. The eruption of Kartala in April 1977 and the influx of refugees from Madagascar following a massacre of resident Comorans there exacerbated the situation. In March 1978, some fishers in the town of Iconi, south of Moroni, were killed after protesting the government's policy on compulsory sale of their catch to the state. Severe food shortages in 1976-77 required the government to seek aid internationally and forced the young nation to divert its already limited export earnings from economic development to purchases of rice and other staples.

With nothing much to show for two and a half years of work besides a crumbling economy and collapsing support base but armed teenagers it isn't surprising that Soilih was on the out. The circumstances of his death are somewhat murky, officially Ali Soilih was shot while trying to escape from his guards. But several rumours abound, one of which is quite salacious.

One day in May 1978, Saleh was chilling out in the presidential bedroom with three naked schoolgirls. They were smoking ganja and watching a flickering 8-mm porn film projected on a wall when the door burst open. Standing in the doorway was Bob Denard. Now if you are the nasty self-imposed leader of a nasty self-imposed African government and, sooner or later, are going to be shot, there is no one more suitable for the job than Bob Denard. Denard pulled the trigger of his machine pistol and Saleh’s reign ended in a pool of his own blood.

I like Cannabis and have a strongly negative view on traditions, especially religious ones, but I can't really see the wisdom in wanting to emulate Ali Soilih. For starters I don't think French Mercenaries come cheap, and the consequences of letting them go elsewhere can be lethal.

Juan Posadas,-
David Walters, a volunteer at the Marxist International Archive and director of the Holt Labor Library, says that they were "an extreme cult.""They were considered odd and weird were totally ignored by other tendencies and internationals,"  [180]
Again this is another addition I have a hard time not believing was a joke, given Posada jumped in popularity in jokes and memes thanks to his ideas about talking to Dolphins and summoning socialist aliens via nuclear war.

But since I know its not a joke I'm just confused. Posada cut his teeth in the global Trotskyist movement. He was actually quite an effective as under his leadership of the Latin American Bureau of the Fourth International he was able to build a presence and links with workers in several countries including Argentina, Bolivia and Cuba.

In the late 60s the Posadists would move away from Trotskyism and start embracing things like UFO's, but they never moved closer to Marxism Leninism. So it is surprising to see a Trotskyist on the list, is this a rare moment of Left Unity?

Well no because of what happened in Cuba. During the Cuban revolution which the Cuban Posadists were active within, their group being the Revolutionary Workers' Party (Trotskyist) or POR(T). Some of them were active Guerrilla's. After Posadas split from the orthodox Trots the entirety of the POR (T) followed Posadas. It didn't take long for the Posadists to fall out with Castro, their printing press was smashed, and they were soon banned, after spreading rumours that Fidel Castro had murdered Ernesto Che Guevara. 
the longstanding defamation of Posadas against Fidel Castro as an “accomplice” in the supposed “murder” of Guevara in Cuba in 1965 , and other similar remarks); impeding the possibility for growth

Apparently in 1966 Castro called them "Pestilential" and the group was soon driven completely underground. So in addition to including a Trotskyite in a list of Tankies its a bit weird include him with Guevara and Castro.

Afeni Shakur,

The mother of Tupac Shakur and former Black Panther, she was one of the 21 New York members arrested on charges of plotting bombings. The trial was the longest and most expensive in the history of New York and eventually collapsed with all 21 members being acquitted. After the collapse of the trial and then after the collapse of the Black Panther Party she remained an activist until her death in 2016.

I can see why she's considered a person of interest and admiration but there is a bit of an issue. Afeni Shakur also became a businesswoman with the establishment of Amaru Entertainment, Inc. A record label which controlled her sons estate with assets estimated at over $100 million. Amaru Entertainment Inc, is not a non profit it is a corporation with intellectual property rights, trademarks and distribution deals with major record companies. She also launched her own clothing Makaveli Branded.

Now I'm not going to pretend to be morally outraged that a mother wanted to protect the work of her deceased son, and I'm sure some of the profits were funding her charitable programs like the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts, but I don't really see how forming several for profit companies and becoming a capitalist can be regarded by a committed communist as anything but a failure.

Normally I'd give some slack and assume the authors also share my disquiet about her move into big business, and were merely holding up for an example her more radical past. But in this case I'm not really sure. Afeni Shakur was one the Panther 21, so they had 20 other candidates who took part in the same struggle to choose from if that were the case. But they aren't as famous and this was an attempt at overawe.

Also the inclusion of people Xi Jinping on the list, a leader who has done much to enrich himself and support Chinese billionaires suggest that the authors aren't that opposed to the presence of wealthy business people.

Antonio Gramsci

"Gramsci... has become a fountain from which everyone takes whatever water they need... 
For some, he is the father of a conception of authentic proletarian democracy; for others, he is a strict Stalinist- for still others he is a social democrat, maybe even of a right-wing variety; there are those who consider him an orthodox Marxist-Leninist; while in the eyes of others he is an incorrigible idealist who has never understood anything of Marxism or just about."

In the recent polemic which has broken out in Russia, it is clear that
Trotsky and the opposition in general, in view of the prolonged absence
of Lenin from the leadership of the party, have been greatly preoccupied
about the danger of a return to the old mentality, which would be
damaging to the revolution. Demanding a greater intervention of
proletarian elements in the life of the party and a diminution of the
powers of the bureaucracy, they want basically to ensure the socialist
and proletarian character of the revolution
and to prevent a gradual
transition to that democratic dictatorship—carapace for a developing
capitalism—which was still the programme of Zinoviev and Co. in
November 1917
. This seems to me to be the situation in the Russian
party . . . the only novelty is the passage of Bukharin to the Zinoviev,
Kamenev, Stalin group.

Emphasis mine.

Antonio Gramsci is another inclusion that can only really work if you follow a highly limited and selective reading list. Now one key theme of this project has been (these folks are idolising people they don't know anything about) but I'm going to be charitable here because much like the example of Connolly this isn't really the author and artists fault. This deliberate misrepresentation of Gramsci has been going on for decades and has been practised by many different personalities, sects and tendencies.

The portrait of Gramsci as a loyal follower of Stalin's International has largely been attributed to the actions of his successor as Communist Party of Italy (CPI) leader, Palmiro Togliatti. Togliatti inherited much of Gramsci's work and was responsible for republishing or not republishing them.

But Togliatti isn't alone, I've seen Trotskyists, Bordigists, social democrats and democratic socialists and what is often termed in parts of the internet as the "cultural Marxists" aka those interested in the role of culture and influenced by groups like the Situationists and the Frankfurt School.
And of course I've also encountered other members of the same groups write the man off completely.

Paul Piccone in his work on Italian Marxism documents the posthumous treatment by Togliatti of Gramsci following his death in Mussolini's prison in 1937.

Togliatti became the main architect of the myth of Gramsci as a brilliant footnote to Lenin- or rather, to the Stalinist reconstruction of Lenin. This it was thought, would provide post world war II Italian Communist party policies with a legitimating antecedent, and would cover up major divergences between official Marxism-Leninism and Gramsci's Crocean brand of Marxism.

However he also notes how Italian Trotskyists also did something similar to Togliatti.

This comedy of errors surrounding Gramsci interpretations is continued in the Trotskyists'. At first glance this sees unlikely... Italian Trotskyists take great pains to separate Gramsci from Togliatti, starting from an open disagreement between the two concerning Stalin's administrative handling of  Trotsky and the Left Opposition before Gramsci's arrest in 1926.

This isn't exclusive to Italian Trotskyists either, my introduction the man was from a member of the Socialist Party of England and Wales (SPEW) one of the larger UK Trotskyist parties.

And later in 2014 the BBC podcast series Great Lives, had a program dedicated to Antonio Gramsci, throughout which his defenders Dr Tom Shakespeare and Professor Anne Sasson refer to him as a Democratic Socialist, and opponent of Stalin's direction, and a key influence on what became known in the 70s and 80s as Eurocommunism.



And Eric Hobsbawm the Marxist Historian closely associated with Eurocommunist faction in the CPGB was also interested in Gramsci's ideas.

Gramsci has become part of our intellectual universe. His stature as an original marxist thinker —in my view the most original such thinker produced in the west since 1917—is pretty generally admitted. Yet what he said and why it is important is still not as widely known as the simple fact that he is important. I shall here single out one reason for his importance: his theory of politics. 

Anyway as far as Gramsci himself was concerned, he was an Leninist, he uses that term to describe himself and his positions throughout his work. However we know that the criteria for being a Leninist is not calling yourself one, (well judging by the list half the time it counts but half the time it doesn't) otherwise we'd have to include folks like Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin and Bordiga amongst the hallowed halls of the ML Tankies.

At the time of Gramsci's arrest in 1926 all but Trotsky were still in the Comintern, Bordiga actually got a promotion to its Central Committee at this time. And yet not only did these personalities often clash with Stalin, they also had little in common with each other.

Furthermore Paul Piccone's last chapter of his work Italian Marxism is dedicated largely to showing how divergent and incompatible Gramsci and Lenin's ideas were.

In terms of the perspective of that party Gramsci helped to found and direct for the most intense part of his active political life, his outlook occupies the emancipatory side of a political oxymoron whose survival and continued success hinges on the rapidity with which the scientific-socialist, or Leninist, side is finally abandoned. Only if translated into a political project of social modernization, continuous with the Spaventa-Labriola tradition of which it is an integral com-ponent, can the Gramscian root of the Italian Communist Party resur-face as a qualitatively distinct alternative to the various strategies of capitalist rationalization now under consideration in Italy and Europe in general. The Gramscian heritage lives on as an ethical vision trapped historically in an incompatible Leninist framework that grows ever more irrelevant and counterproductive in the face of modern-day realities.

So I don't really think he fits into any political lineage very well, he's more of his own thing. Which shouldn't be surprising the PCI was a very fractious group and after 1926 he spent the rest of his live isolated in Fascist Italy's prison system. Always in weak health he would die in 1937, this meant that he missed they years of when the ML project was codified and Stalin's leadership of the Soviet Union and the official Communist movement was secured.

Xi Jinping,

We must conduct socialist education. We must correctly understand and handle class contradictions and class struggle, distinguish the contradictions between ourselves and the enemy from those among the people and handle them correctly. Otherwise a socialist country like ours will turn into its opposite and degenerate, and a capitalist restoration will take place. From now on we must remind ourselves of this every year, every month and every day so that we can retain a relatively sober understanding of this problem and have a Marxist-Leninist line.
Mao Zedong


Now, with Mr. Xi in charge in China, Mr. Obama sees a chance to restart the relationship. And there is reason to believe he can.
American and Chinese officials appear to finally be on the same page about how to contain a nuclear North Korea. During the talks at Sunnylands, according to two officials, the Chinese spoke in unusually specific terms about how they might use their leverage as the North’s economic savior and energy provider to bring its young leader, Kim Jong-un, to heel.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang holds a news briefing on Oct. 29, 2018. [Photo:]

"The Chinese side wishes new achievements would be made continuously by Brazil in the path of developing the country," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a news briefing.
According to Brazil's Superior Electoral Court, Jair Bolsonaro of the Social Liberal Party won the country's presidential run-off on Sunday.
"China always attaches great importance to its relations with Brazil from a strategic height and long-term perspective," Lu said, adding China is willing to work together with Brazil to safeguard and develop the China-Brazil comprehensive strategic partnership, to better benefit the two countries and the two people.
There's a lot of ground to cover but I struggle to find the motivation, this should be obvious to everyone, I'm going to do something a bit different, in 2017 Xi Jinping attended the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos Switzerland. There he gave a speech lauding globalisation and the importance of the world financial system. I'm going to quote multiple extracts from it (bolding my own).

The full text of the speech can be found here.

I’m delighted to come to beautiful Davos. Though just a small town in the Alps, Davos is an important window for taking the pulse of the global economy. People from around the world come here to exchange ideas and insights, which broaden their vision. This makes the WEF annual meeting a cost-effective brainstorming event, which I would call “Schwab economics”.
 From the historical perspective, economic globalization resulted from growing social productivity, and is a natural outcome of scientific and technological progress, not something created by any individuals or any countries. Economic globalization has powered global growth and facilitated movement of goods and capital, advances in science, technology and civilization, and interactions among peoples.
There was a time when China also had doubts about economic globalization, and was not sure whether it should join the World Trade Organization. But we came to the conclusion that integration into the global economy is a historical trend. To grow its economy, China must have the courage to swim in the vast ocean of the global market. If one is always afraid of bracing the storm and exploring the new world, he will sooner or later get drowned in the ocean. Therefore, China took a brave step to embrace the global market. We have had our fair share of choking in the water and encountered whirlpools and choppy waves, but we have learned how to swim in this process. It has proved to be a right strategic choice.

Whether you like it or not, the global economy is the big ocean that you cannot escape from. Any attempt to cut off the flow of capital, technologies, products, industries and people between economies, and channel the waters in the ocean back into isolated lakes and creeks is simply not possible. Indeed, it runs counter to the historical trend.

 Do I have to go on? I shouldn't have to waste anyone's time with this, everyone knows that China has been taking part in global capitalist economy since the 80s. Its only gotten more blatant with time. Deng Xiaoping declared entire parts of the PRC to operate outside of the PRCs regulations when he opened the Special Economic Zones to attract foreign business investment.

They haven't stopped multiplying since

Type City Province
Special Economic Zone, City Shenzhen Guangdong
Zhuhai Guangdong
Shantou Guangdong
Xiamen Fujian
Kashgar Xinjiang
Special Economic Zone, Province - Hainan
Coastal Development Areas Dalian Liaoning
Qinhuangdao Hebei
Tianjin -
Yantai Shandong
Qingdao Shandong
Lianyungang Jiangsu
Nantong Jiangsu
Shanghai -
Ningbo Zhejiang
Wenzhou Zhejiang
Fuzhou Fujian
Guangzhou Guangdong
Zhanjiang Guangdong
Beihai Guangxi
City life went from this
To this

China even has Walmart branches, with workers there being treated much the same as in the US,

“The trigger for the strikes has been Walmart’s imposition of new work schedules, similar to the ‘just in time’ scheduling system at its non-union stores across America. The new system enables management to change work hours at short notice and void extra payments for overtime work as long as each worker’s total adds up to 174 hours per month. Walmart workers often work 11 or 12-hour shifts to make a living wage, and many workers complain that real wages at the company have stagnated since 2009. Since the start of July, the company has moved swiftly to replace the existing 8-hour day for full-time workers and force workers onto the new contracts.

Back in the late 80s when Gorbachev was opening up the Soviet Union and started swimming deeper into that global sea there was a massive crisis amongst what was left of the old Communist movement in the West. Many of the people in the UK who had proudly called themselves Tankies were shocked and appalled at foreign shops and fast food places especially McDonalds were now open for business.

Much of it never recovered, and many of the old Soviet fraternal parties went into death spirals shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed, or pivoted into even more moderate electioneering. I saw a clip of an old Communist Party of Great Britain member (the old now defunct one) quite pleased with himself that so many young people were embracing communism Specifically the musty old Communism of his time, I wonder how he and the rest of his generation would react to learn that many of todays new generation are not only idolising their favourite strongmen but also their grave diggers?

Seeing the increasingly cheerleading for the PRC I'm convinced that Comrade Gorbi's real crime in their eyes was in having lost and given in instead of resorting to a pointless bloodbath.

Well there's one thing that's remained consistent through the phases of CPC evolution, their willingness to deal violence to any opposition with the opposition to be defined by them. The CPC has issues with its minorities, it deals very harshly with them. In addition to ongoing human rights abuses in Tibet, its recently started to ratchet up the surveillance and oppression of its Muslim community, especially the Uighurs in Xinjiang.

The fate of estimated up to one million people is unknown and most of the detainees’ families have been kept in the dark.
China has intensified its campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation against the region’s Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups.
Amnesty International has interviewed more than 100 people outside of China whose relatives in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are still missing, as well as individuals who said they were tortured while in detention camps there.

But its not just religious and ethnic minorities feeling the pressure. Feminist and Queer activists have come under increased pressure.

It’s occurred to me before that some gender equality people would get arrested during Xi’s Jinping’s administration. Because in 2013, when Xi had just assumed office, at that time I was in Guangzhou with [some of the people now being detained] organizing a training workshop for college students, also related to gender equality. That was the most difficult [狼狈] workshop I’ve ever done. We had arranged to do it in a hotel. We had 30-some people, and as soon as we tried to enter, we were kicked out. So we tried three other hotels. None were willing to let us in… And this was very similar to the present situation: all the students from Guangdong were phoned by their fudaoyuan [political counselors]6, who told them [not to participate], and five or six actually [decided not to participate], and afterwards the school kept [harassing] them. And at the time the Guobao [secret police]7 followed us around all day… So already at that time it occurred to us that Xi’s assumption of office might be a disaster for gender equality.
 A: For [several] years now [the NGO that organized that workshop] has organized at least ten workshops every year, most unrelated to gender, and that was the one they chose to suppress… LGBT-related activities have also been targeted, especially in Beijing. Last year around June 48, at least twenty LGBT-related events were forced to be canceled…. Even watching films together wasn’t allowed.

C: So you think the Xi administration’s crackdown on civil society is especially targeting both LGBT and feminist activities?

A: Yes. Ever since he assumed office, Xi has been emphasizing “traditional Chinese family values.” So we can see that Peng Liyuan [Xi’s wife], who was an extremely successful artist, but ever since Xi assumed office, the image of her as a housewife repeatedly appears in the media. Same thing goes for CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala: it continually emphasized “family, family, family…”

photo of some of the feminist activist who have been detained and harassed by the authorities during Xi's leadership
label on the legs say "My vagina is not a labor gift"
And you may have noticed some curious headlines about Chinese police cracking down on "Chinese Marxists".

"As Communists, we should incorporate Marxist classics and principles into our lifestyle and treat Marxism as a spiritual pursuit," President Xi Jinping said at an event celebrating the bicentennial of Marx's birth in May.

But this August, police arrested more than 50 student activists, many of them members of college Marxist groups, for helping organize workers at Jasic Technology, a welding equipment factory in the southeastern Chinese city of Shenzhen. At least two Peking University graduates remain missing.
Though I don't really get the surprise, as shown in the Mao section the CPC has always persecuted rival tendencies, and they really don't like students and workers fraternising as Tiananmen square showed.



M.N. Roy,

Narendra Nath "Naren" Bhattacharya, later known as M. N. Roy is another Indian politician added to this list. Of all the ones added Roy seems to fit the bill nicely, at first anyway. Roy's conversion to Communism led him to rise through the ranks of the Moscow dominated Communist movement. He was present at the founding of both the Mexican and Indian Communist parties, and had a working relationship with Lenin, and was a senior member of the Comintern. 
However his story doesn't end there, he was not a fan of Stalin, indeed shortly after the defeat of Trotsky and his followers Roy began to drift away from the party. In 1929 it was announced that he was expelled from the Comintern

Roy broke with the Communist International in 1929 having publicly opposed the extreme left sectarian policy adopted at its Sixth Congress. Returning to India he spent six years in various prisons during which he wrote a 3000-page draft manuscript provisionally titled The Philosophical Consequence of Modern Science. On his release he campaigned against every variety of authoritarianism, supported the anti-fascist war, drew up a Draft Constitution for free India and the outlines of a decentralist people’s plan for economic development.
And after that he would go on to found the Radical Democratic Party which promoted a philosophy of Radical Humanism. In 1948 he also launched the Indian Radical Humanist movement which joined with similar movements in Europe and the USA to create the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Not getting a lot of Tankieness from Roy.

hadj-ali abdelkader,

James Connolly - James Connolly is quite like Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Marx, in that as soon as they had died a bunch of grave robbers sprung up with scissors and glue to claim them as part of their chosen pantheons. To this day arguments are being waged about which leftist tendency Connolly most accurately represents. I've personally seen him in lists of everything from Social Democrats to Syndicalists, and at least one Irish ML organisation (the Irish National Liberation Army) have used Connolly to justify their indigenous Marxism-Leninism.

Indeed the Socialist organisation Solidarity once tried to pinpoint Connolly's positions and trajectory, and ending up coining the term Connollism because you just pigeonhole him like that unless you just ignore the majority of his writing and actions.

So how about Marxism-Leninism? Well obviously not, the man was killed by a firing squad in 1916, before the October revolution, and he didn't have any close contacts with Lenin beforehand. Indeed according to the INLA its actually backwards, as far as they are concerned it is Lenin et al who were influenced (in an incredibly vague and nebulous way) by James Connolly.

In embracing the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin, we are placing ourselves in line with the most advanced thought of our age and, as a consequence, are in line with the revolutionary tradition passed on by James Connolly.

If you want to read up more on the INLA and this political mix you'll have to get use to that crowbarring in of James Connolly without elaboration. I keep using the term Pantheon, but this is literally all this is. James Connolly's reputation is as the most advanced and militantly committed republican socialist Ireland has ever produced, therefore he order to establish your socialist revolutionary credentials you have to present yourself in his footsteps, and since the INLA also really liked Marxism-Leninism, they had to bridge the gap somehow.

I've seen posters by Irish Maoists that prominently feature Connolly too, so this is really is endemic amongst the Irish hard left.

Why doesn't it work? Well because Connolly's life and political activity has very little in common with Lenin. The list of political organisations Connolly had a hand in founding or joining is incredibly long. Starting with the Irish Republican Socialist Party in 1896 (not to be confused with the political wing of the INLA) then moved on to work with Keir Hardie and the Independent Labour Party. He also found time to be a founding member of the British Socialist Labour party in 1903 which had split from the Social Democratic Federation, however he soon had to emigrate to the United States of America, while there he joined the American Socialist Labour party and helped establish the Irish Socialist Federation, a fraternal organisation for Irish Americans, but then in 1909 joined the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World.

Shortly after that he returned to Ireland and collaborated with James Larkin to found the Irish Transport and General Workers Union and the Irish Labour Party as the political party affiliated with the Irish Trade Union Congress, and stood for election twice to the Dublin Corporation (city government). And during the Dublin Lockout in 1913met up with an ex British army officer called Jack White. Connolly and White formed a the Irish Citizens Army, a non sectarian militia built up to defend the Unions and strikers from the violent repression of the Dublin police.

When the First World War broke out Connolly like Lenin opposed the war, however he did so in explicitly nationalist terms regarding the British Empire as the main foreign enemy of Ireland. Going so far as to say that he would happily join an Imperial German army if it managed to land in Ireland.


In Easter 1916 most famously Connolly and a number of the Irish Citizen Army took part in the failed uprising in Dublin. Connolly was infamously shot to death while tied to a chair because he was too weak to stand.

I bring up the biography to show why its hard to pin him down and say he was definitively an ___ist. However it does show some broad consistency. Many of the groups, parties and unions he helped found or joined were either Social Democratic, Social Democratic Federation, the Irish Labour Party, The Irish Republican Socialist Party, the Independent Labour Party. Impossibilist with a strong De Leon influence; Socialist Labour Party (both UK and USA), Socialist Party of America, or Syndicalist; Industrial Workers of the World, Irish Transport and General Workers Union.

In 1897 Connolly regarded “the unfortunate insurrectionism of the early socialists” (p. 125) as having been abandoned by modern Socialism in favour of the “slower, but surer method of the ballot-box”. He continued to advocate the parliamentary road, although ideally the socialist vote was to be directed by a revolutionary industrial organisation. But he believed that in Ireland independence was a pre-requisite, so that the Irish Nationalist was seen as “an active agent in social regeneration” (p. 126) “even when he is from the economic point of view intensely conservative”.

The method of physical force, while not to be favoured for its own sake, was not excluded from the “party of progress”. There were, however, certain conditions which should precede its adoption; first, perfect agreement on the end to be attained, then presentation of the demand for freedom through elected representatives. Discussing street fighting, Connolly assumes a large scale rising with the support of the populace (pp. 228-30). The implication is that success will justify the method.

The only outlier is the Irish Citizens Army, but that grew out of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union struggles. The other consistent vein is his nationalism, but if that's all you need to qualify for Tankie status then there are some serious issues.

Harry Haywood,- I think Harry is the only person on this list who would meet the criteria for an perfect Tankie of the old school. He bitterly opposed Khrushchev's  De-Stalinisation period and was so committed he got expelled from the CPUSA over it. So right there he would not be comfortable rubbing shoulders with Brezhnev. Funnily enough the man who kicked him out of the Communist party is also in this list Eugene Dennis. The parting of ways was very acrimonious, Haywood declared the CPUSA to be influenced by "white chauvinism".

He was a bit of a joiner and a lot of the New Communist Movement groups that emerged in the 1960s liked different parts of his ideas and formed links with him. He's mainly associated with the Maoist group the October League and generally speaking seems to have sided with Mao in the Sino-Soviet split.

Maulana Bhashani,

Maulana Bhashani is not remotely ML, he's often described as `left leaning` a description that I've seen applied to the Liberal Democrats and the American Democratic party. He is seen as an inlfuence on the development of what became known as "Islamic Socialism" though. But Islamic Socialism isn't really a codified ideology with its own cannon, funnily enough given the topic of discussion its much closer to the term Left Communism because its a very vague and loose catch all term to describe a rather large number of thinkers and movements that have very tenuous connections with each other.

I can see why he might be considered an `Anti western` fellow since he supported Bangladesh's struggle for independence against the campaigns of mass murder carried out by the Pakistani military. The conflict which began with Operation Searchlight was so bloody it is often called the 1971 Bangladesh genocide, with estimates of 3 million dead and between 200,000-400,000 women raped.

And the United States did support Pakistan. However another supporter of the Pakistan governments military regime was Mao's China. One of the reasons we know this was the case is because Maulana Bhashani appealed to the People's Republic to intervene on the behalf of the suffering Bangladeshi's. He was ignored.

There were those who did not sympathise with Bangladesh’s people. President Richard Nixon and his national security advisor Henry Kissinger, using Pakistan as a conduit to America’s opening with China, looked the other way as the Pakistan army went on raping and killing in Bangladesh. The left-leaning Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani’s appeals to China for support for the Bengali struggle went unanswered. Pakistan’s ambassador to Beijing (or Peking as it then was), Khwaja Mohammad Kaiser, a member of Dhaka’s Nawab clan, was in a dilemma. Prime Minister Zhou Enlai told him he understood his difficulties (in post-1971 times, Kaiser would return to Beijing, as Bangladesh’s ambassador to that country).

When the Pakistani army was eventually driven out and Bangladesh became an independent nation, Maulana Bashani spent most of his days in parliament in opposition, specifically he opposed and criticised Rahman's BAKSAL front government which included the Marxist-Lenninist party, and he vocally criticised BAKSAL's moves towards a one party state.

So no he really doesn't fit the bill for a Tankie.

Bashar al-Assad

Mathieu Kerekou,

In the first two years of Mathieu Kérékou's rule he espoused only nationalism and gave no explicit support to socialism in any way. He was even quoted as saying that the Dahomean Revolution would not "burden itself by copying foreign ideology ... We do not want communism or capitalism or socialism. We have our own Dahomean social and cultural system."

Colonel Mathieu Kerekou, came to power by military coup in 1972 and would establish the Peoples Republic of Benin replacing its old name of Dahomey in 1975 to coincide with his public embrace of Marxism-Leninism. The delay between his rise to power and the proclamation, his background and behaviour in power has given many the impression that Kerekou was less of a convert and more of an opportunist looking to consolidate power. It wasn't helped that the main opposition group driven underground by Kerekou's government was the Communist Party of Dahomey/Benin another Marxist-Leninist party. 

Nevertheless, once the bridge was crossed he remodelled Benin along familiar lines, the Constitution banned all other political parties besides the ruling People's Revolutionary Party of Benin (PRPB) and French owned businesses were nationalised. During this period Benin earned the nickname of "Africa's Cuba".

He faced constant internal opposition surviving several coups, a number of politically active junior officers died under mysterious circumstances and attempts by unions and students to strike were repelled by mass arrests. So leaving aside questions about his commitment he seems to fit the bill, but he probably shouldn't have been included here if the intention is to impress.

Despite the adoption of a planned economy Benin's economic prospects didn't improve and by the 1980s the growing deficit forced Kerekou to pursue new revenue streams from renewed trade with France and potential loans from the International Monetary Fund and to delay payments to civil servants, state employees and grants to students.

to focus more on food and on integrated development projects, notably involving cotton, with World Bank support; state farms and co-operative development were quietly neglected. Several dozen parastatals were to be amalgamated or wound up. This however reduced neither the overblown public sector labour force (which grew from 20,000 in 1980 to 47,000 in 1988) and its wage bill, nor the massive public debt, which reached SI billion in mid-decade. In the mid-1980s Benin suffered a reduction in trade with Nigeria, both through legal channels and by smuggling," together with the ending of hopes for high oil revenues, which further confirmed that it was now in economic crisis. Over the next four years there occurred an increasingly desperate search for finance —from the IMF (which refused), from other donors, even from secret deals to take toxic and nuclear wastes from France and other producers. The quest failed, as did attempts to reduce state spending, though by 1986 jobs were being frozen and allowances or even salaries delayed in payment. The intensifying economic crisis affected both the state and civil society.

And compounding the issue was the rampant corruption carried out by the leadership of the PRPB and the state institutions.

Corruption among senior politicians although never absent in 1975-85 appears also to have grown more blatant and more urgent after 1985, associated in part with the growing influence within government of the Malian marabout, Mohammed Ahmed Cisse, whom Kerekou made his de facto deputy and adviser. Cisse was even-tually arrested by the Interim Government on corruption charges, though his patron Kerekou was later granted immunity for all acts while in
By 1988 the pillaging of the state by its own leaders had reached suicidal proportions. Not only did large individual sums go missing, such as the $200,000 campaign fund allocated to support a Beninois candidate for the Director-Generalship of the FAO or the working funds of the Office nationals du pharmacie, but the entire state banking and credit system began to be drained of all liquid funds. The Caisse nationale du credit agricole had to be closed, having been depleted by large unsecured - and unrepaid - loans to senior figures. This was followed by the collapse of the Commercial Bank and the Development Bank, both of which had made massive unsecured loans to individuals and to bogus companies,' all associated with ministers and a handful of wealthy businessmen and women. Public realization of the true extent of corruption helped shape political consciousness in 1989, as well as giving rise to the local phrase laxisme-beninisme' to describe the regime's true ideology. A third feature of state decay was growing military indiscipline. In the decade following his crushing of dissent in the army in 1975 and culminating in the death of Aikpe, Kerelcou had been firmly in control of the security forces, a control he sustained in part by structural reorganization and frequent changes in senior personnel, combined with relatively high levels of spending and pay. From 1986, however, military discontent resurfaced at first in the form of rumours and hints of plots, and then in 1988 in two unsuccessful attempts at coups. More significant than their failure, though, is the involvement in them of officers drawn from the Presidential Guard and Kerekou's personal security team. The first attempt, pre-empted on 26 March, was led by Capt. Pascal Houndtoundji of the Guard, and was said to involve two veterans of the 1972 coup, Lt.-Col. Francois Kouyami (Chief of Staff of the entire paramilitary forces) and Lt.-Col. Hilaire Badjagoume (Commander of Guezo military camp); 50 other officers and 100 men were also arrested. The motive behind intervention may have been regionalism but is no less likely to have been resentment at the recent cuts in military allowances, part of an austerity package that included the ending of housing allowances in the public sector. Kouyami escaped from detention in November, to Nigeria.'' Civil discontent emerged openly in 1985, with student demonstrations over the ending of automatic recruitment of graduates into the public sector, and over official control of the student union. Then, and again in 1987, there were violent clashes with police, and numerous arrests followed by detention and torture?' It was not however until student action coincided with that of public sector workers that discontent began to develop into a general mobilization against the regime in 1989-90 -known as the renouveau democratique.

It was this combination of economic stagnation, corruption, bank collapse, rising debt, and enforced austerity that would lead to Kerekou's downfall in 1989-90. 

In January 1989 students started strike action to protest the cancellation of scholarships. Iinitally the police and security forces were able to handle the small numbers of striking students, but as the strike continued teachers and civil servants joined in demanding payment for the last months of 1988. Echoing Ronald Reagan the government threatened to fire anyone who did not turn up for work the next day and deployed more troops. The strikes continued and the tension rose until Nigeria offered financial aid to pay the strikers arrears.

However, the students at the National University in Cotonou began what they said would be a 3-day strike on January 17, still demanding the arrears in grants owed by the government. Striking students tried to march to the presidential palace on that first day, but soldiers stopped them and arrested several of the demonstrators. The next day several students met with University officials and announced that they would continue their strike beyond the stated 3 days unless the state paid the arrears and guaranteed further scholarships.

By January 19, 1989, secondary school teachers and civil servants from the Finance Ministry had joined the strike demanding that the government pay their salaries for the last four months of 1988. While some civil servants stayed away from work, others went to their offices, but refused to do any assigned tasks. Two days later, while students, teachers, and civil servants continued the strike beyond the 3-day window, the government’s National Executive Council announced on the radio that any workers who did not return to work would be forfeiting their jobs with the government. Following this announcement, the university students stated that they would continue their strike indefinitely until their grants were paid.

When their first call to end the strike failed, the government’s Interior Minister called on “all vigilant citizens” to defeat the demonstrators with force. In Porto Novo on January 23 students clashed with security forces, some demonstrators burned pictures of President Kérékou and others looted some government buildings. However, demonstrators in Cotonou remained peaceful. Then, on January 24, the Defense Ministry announced that security forces would fire without warning on all assemblies on public roads and sent 300 additional troops to Porto Novo to prevent riots. There was no more known violence after the in this period of the campaign. Furthermore, the government ordered the banks to prepare payment for government employees for the months of October and November 1988. Although the government had paid much of the military, the campaigners remained unpaid. As the civil servants continued to strike, the government announced that they would dismiss all strikers if they did not return to work by January 31.

On February 2, the government sacked all striking civil servants and began to replace them with young, unemployed university graduates. A week later, Nigeria agreed to give aid money to Benin in an attempt to end the strike and pay the arrears owed to the strikers. At this point most civil servants and teachers returned to work, while the students continued to strike. However, in the following months the government failed to pay all of the salaries it owed for the last four months of 1988.

However the government didn't fulfil all of the outstanding payments, so by March there was a resumption of strike action this time further fuelled by the government publicising its intention to cut allowances for state employees as part of an agreement it had just made with the IMF for a loan.
On March 14, 1989 the civil servants threatened to strike again after the government announced it would cut allowances for all government workers. They never began this strike. The announced cut in allowances was part of the austerity measure agreements that the Beninese government had made with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

As the university students in Cotonou continued their actions, at the end of March university officials threatened to close the school if students did not return to classes by April 3. Despite this ultimatum, the students remained on strike, even as the government threatened to invalidate the 1988-89 school year. Furthermore, high school students in Porto Novo had again begun demonstrations. As these students and their parents protested outside of their school, security forces attacked the students. Over the next two days soldiers and police continued to fight students in Porto Novo and students retaliated throwing stones and even chairs. There was calm after this and university students continued to strike.

At this same time, teachers at all levels rejoined the strike demanding an end to a 50% allowance cut, release of students and teachers who had been arrested for striking earlier in the year, and payment of three months’ salaries from the end of 1988, which the government still had not paid. Amidst the strike, teachers also sent signed petitions with their demands to the government.

In the beginning of May the government agreed to pay teachers’ and civil servants’ salaries for the month of April and to continue to pay them regularly after that, but still refused to pay the arrears for the end of 1988. The teachers, however, continued to strike into July. During this period teachers began negotiations with the government but by July 6 these negotiations had failed. In mid-July Finance Ministry workers again joined the striking teachers and on July 24, civil servants from at least 5 sectors began to strike as well. A majority of the nation’s 22,000 teachers and most of the 50,000 government employees were on strike at this point, although the exact numbers are not known.

In response the government invalidated the school year so it wouldn't be obligated to pay striking teachers until October if they returned to work. Though it still owed many for months of work in 1988. The situation continued, with growing strikes and demonstrations met with stalled negotiations and repression. Though eventually cracks appeared, political prisoners including members of the Communist Party of Benin were released, by the 8th of December the government officially renounced Marxism-Leninism, but when strikes continued into 1990 a transitional government was setup and by 1991 Kerekou was out of power.

So we have a man whose regime was corrupt and occasionally brutal, who oppressed fellow Marxist-Leninists, relied on foreign loans and was defeated by his introduction of austerity economics. Not someone I'd choose to identify with, but we have a bit of a coda.

Kerekou, Democrat and Born Again Christian.

Yes, Kerekou is quite unique, not only did he manage to negotiate his way into immunity when he lost control of his country, but he managed to make a comeback as successful Presidential candidate. He won 52% in a run off in 1996, the vote was deemed fair but there was some controversy, Kerekou initially refused to say a part of the Presidential Oath that referenced ancestor spirits since it clashed with his religious convictions. He was persuaded to say the oath in full. He would win re-election in 2001 and commit Beninese troops to peace keeping operations before stepping down in 2006.

So we have a man who spent 2 years as a proud Nationalist military dictator, 15 years as a Marxist-Leninist with a deeply stagnant economy, and ten years elected head of liberal democracy as a born again Christian. 

leslie feinberg,

Sen Katayama, - Katayama Sen was originally a Christian Socialist and one of the founders of the Japanese Socialist Party in 1901. The party was shut down by the police within three hours of its founding, which may still be a record. Later he moved away from Christian socialism and started reading Marx among other authors. He would become a founding member of the Japanese Communist Party(JCP), which managed to stay open much longer than Katayama's Socialist party.

However as the omen of the founding of that JSP (there have been other Japanese Socialist Parties) showed Meiji era Japan was very much police state that was incredibly hostile to even the mild social reform proposals of Christian socialism. So the JCP and the other left wing groups faced constant and pretty severe repression. The most famous of these was the Great Treason Incident of 1911 when five Anarchists were caught plotting the murder of the Emperor Meiji, in response the government arrested them and any radical vaguely connected to them and sentenced many of them to death.

But that wasn't an outlier, the repression steadily increased. In 1925 the infamous Peace Preservation law was passed, giving the police sweeping powers to crush any form of dissent and so the Japanese labour movement found itself increasingly suppressed, and Japanese society became increasingly Totalitarian and Fascistic.

Katayama Sen would spend the rest of his life in exile in the Soviet Union, dying in 1933. So he didn't get to do much improving of material conditions for many millions. I don't think its fair to put the praise and criticism of the JCP slowly on his shoulders, but he was a founding member and its the only thing I can think of that would've qualified him for a list of reverance, so lets have a look.

Though the JCP did manage to barely survive the state terror inflicted upon it by the Japanese military (said military would rely on the support of Indian nationalists like Lakshmi Singal further down the list). After the defeat of Japan in WWII the JCP would be made legal again by the American occupation, which is a bit of an oddity.

It won 10% of the vote in 1949 and won 35 seats, however this provoked the public condemnation of Stalin whom urged them to abandon electoral activity and focus on violent action. Here's how the official history on the JCP website describes it

1950-1955 Repression by the U.S. occupation forces swept Japan, and the JCP was split by a group connected with the Soviet Union and China. The group worked to bring into Japan fallacious policies from abroad. This brought considerable difficulties to the JCP for the next several years (called the "1950 Question").

Describing the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China as fallacious and foreign isn't a good basis for left unity. The JCP would move away from the Soviet Union and also China after the Sino-Soviet split, to embrace electoral activity and mild reforms. By 1976 it had removed the cherished "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" phrase and replaced it with a declaration of support for democracy. In fact its commitment to representative government and liberal democratic elections has become so well ingrained that commentators have actually gone so far as to credit the party as an important safety valve for Japan's democratic society.

It is the only established party in parliament that has not been coopted by the conservative parties. It performs the watchdog role against the ruling parties without fear or favor. More importantly, the JCP often offers the only opposition candidate in prefectural governorship, city mayoral and other local elections. Despite the ostensible differences between the non-Communist parties at the national level, they often support a joint candidate for governor or mayor so that all parties are assured of being part of the ruling coalition. If the JCP did not offer a candidate, there would be a walkover and Japanese voters would be offered a fait accompli without an electoral avenue of protest. Promoting women candidates in elections to win women's votes is another characteristic of the party. More women are elected under the Communist label than other political parties in Japan.
If anything despite the red political colour and occasional rhetoric the JCP would be considered a social democratic one if it were standing in Europe.

Now this was long after Katayama's death so its unfair to blame him for the bizarre sight of a JCP candidate standing up for small businesses, but it does mean that his work ultimately failed. The party he helped found and was supposedly a very important influence on spent its time either fighting bitterly for survival or enjoying great success (second largest non governing Communist party in the world in the 1990s after the Italian Communist Party) as a mild social democratic party.



Patrice Lumumba - Patrice Lumumba was a Congolese nationalist and the first Prime Minister of an independent Congo. He is often cited as a fellow traveller of hard-line communist party leaders but I don't see it. His party the Movement National Congolais (MNC) was a broad coalition representing many diverse political view points. He became PM because his party won the first General election, the election in 1960 to select a government to lead the country after the Belgians withdrew from the country.

However the Congo was in serious political turmoil the worst crisis being the Katanga secessionist movement and Belgian interference. Lumumba rather than taking the Tankie course of action appealed to both the United Nations and the United States of America for support. He didn't get much luck there, so in desperation he turned to the Soviet Union for aid. This turn to the Soviet Union enraged the US even though they left him no alternative, and so the United States joined the anti Lumumba coalition. 

He was captured by soldiers loyal to Mobutu and after being transferred to several barracks was executed along with several close friends and advisors by a mixed group of Belgian and Mobutu soldiers on January 17th 1961. In addition the Belgians would attempt to dismember the bodies using acid and resorted to scattering the bones. Its a sad and quite sickening story.

Lumumba centre, before transportation to Thysville
Its a very unpleasant event, but it does highlight the inappropriateness of his inclusion here. If anything Lumumba is a victim of his own tolerance and desire to negotiate. He turned to the west for help and they turned him down, then sort to punish him for trying to build a independent Congolese nation. It is quite stomach churning but it doesn't give us license to turn the man into something he was not and ignore his actual beliefs and ideas.

He was a committed independence politician and anti colonialist, I find this extract from a speech he gave very illustrative of him.

For this independence of the Congo, although being proclaimed today by agreement with Belgium, an amicable country, with which we are on equal terms, no Congolese worthy of the name will ever be able to forget that it was by fighting that it has been won, a day-to-day fight, an ardent and idealistic fight, a fight in which we were spared neither privation nor suffering, and for which we gave our strength and our blood. We are proud of this struggle, of tears, of fire, and of blood, to the depths of our being, for it was a noble and just struggle, and indispensable to put an end to the humiliating slavery which was imposed upon us by force.

And he was attacked while he was alive as an anti western extremist. But honestly he seems to have been committed to building a functional democratic state quite inline with what western civilisation is officially supposed to be all about. He even placed his faith in the international system created by the West. It was there complete indifference if not outright hostility to him and forced him to look for alternative supports.
If anything Lumumba should be remembered for showing just how hollow all these nice sounding western ideals truly are.
He also raises a serious issue, Mobutu was instrumental in the death of Lumumba, and he would go on to topple the Congolese government and build an incredibly brutal and corrupt dictatorship. That dictatorship was supported by the West but also by Mao's China as we've already covered. Isn't it insulting to put a man side by side with a supporter of his killer?

Clara Zetkin - Of the three Spartacist members in the list Zetkin is the closest to a match I feel. For example in 1919 she wrote Through Dictatorship to Democracy, which effectively rubberstamps Bolshevik repression, including the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly (though she omits the firing on demonstrating workers part). Though interestingly she does state that her support hinged on this dictatorship being a necessary and temporary step, and based on the rule of the Soviets with the collaboration of the Left Social Revolutionaries, so it didn't date very well, as the Bolsheviks were already in the process of dismantling the Soviets and would soon be at war with the Left SRs.

The persistence of soviet rule, which, the confident prophets assured us, could not possibly last more than a few weeks, enables us to infer with certainty that this government is supported by the broad masses of the Russian people. The bolsheviks, and the left social revolutionaries who co-operate with them, constitute the stalwart framework of the Russian revolutionary army. Through their readiness for action, through their capacity, they inspire confidence in the masses and rally the masses to their support. The need for dictatorship shows us, indeed, that the number and importance of the opponents of the soviet government must by no means be underestimated. Power must he used to repress power. Our hope is that the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry will maintain itself long enough to abolish itself when it has fulfilled its function and reached its goal. For whereas during the two opening periods of the revolution the path of the governments led from the fine ideal of democracy to the harsh and cruel reality of dictatorship, the path of the soviet dominion will lead from the harsh and cruel reality of dictatorship to the beautiful and realised dream of democracy.

Unlike Karl and Rosa she survived the defeat of the German revolution. And she continued to be a leader of the KPD, leaning more to its right wing. When Hitler came to power in 1933 she was exiled to the Soviet Union and then died shortly after.

I can see where this is coming from but I don't think its a perfect fit. She died in 1933 and while a close collaborator of the Comintern Stalinism or Marxism-Leninism as we know it today didn't really take off until later culminating in the Great Purge in 1936. So while the ML project was under way it wasn't monolithic. Quite a few who we now regard as dissident communists were still active and had high and important positions.

So far apart from the expulsion of Trotsky and his closest circle of comrades by 1927, the hardening of ideological lines had only just started going. Bordiga whom had personally clashed with Stalin publicly in meetings of the Comintern Executive managed to stay in the fold formally anyway until 1930, and rival Bolsheviks like Kamenev, Zinoviev were active until 1934 and Bukharin wouldn't be arrested until 1936 after buying the complete works of Marx and Engels from the exiled German Social Democrats.

 I could go either way on this one, she was loyal to the Soviet Union and the Comintern, but that was at a time when those two camps still had some plurality of views and other equally if not more loyal members who lived longer than she did would end up denounced and executed.

Lakshmi Sahgal - Lakshmi Sahgal was an Indian Nationalist, however unfortunately for the authors of this meme she was a Nationalist with a lot of baggage. She was an officer in the Indian National Army (INA). If you know nothing of the history of India that sounds pretty good, an woman officer in an army fighting for National Liberation against the British Empire. Unfortunately the INA was founded with the support of Imperial Japan. Many of its recruits were from Prisoner of War camps, meaning a level of coercion was present in its recruitment operations.

This means that Lakshmi Sahgal was a collaborator with a Fascist Axis power. Now contrary to Imperial propaganda the Raj was extremely brutal and violent throughout its existence. Churchill's role in the Bengal feminine has become more well known at least but it wasn't an exception, of the top of my head I can also think of the massacre of Amritsar in 1919, the Great Famine of 1877-8 etc.

If I may be permitted a quotation from Alexander Berkman on the aftermath of the Irish revolt of 1916

As a matter of fact, it is entirely in keeping with the character and traditions of the British government to show no quarter to rebels. Those familiar with the colonial history of Great Britain know that the English government and its representatives have systematically practised the most heinous brutality and repression to stifle the least sign of discontent, in Ireland, in India, Egypt, South Africa — wherever British rapacity found a source of aggrandizement. Burning villages, destroying whole districts, shooting rebels by the wholesale, aye, even resorting to the most inhuman torture of suspects, as in the Southwestern Punjab and other parts of India — these have always been the methods of the British government.

So this isn't a moral indignation, I can easily see why a group of Indian nationalists would weigh up their options in the 1940's and think throwing with the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) would be the smarter move. But it doesn't change the fact that by doing so they were providing material aid to a Fascist power. The same power that Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh were busy fighting to end their brutal occupation.

A Fascist power that was already in the process of torturing thousands of their countrymen to death in forced labour camps.

Officers would be slapped across the face or beaten up with sticks for the slightest error made by their men – error in this case being a tired soldier taking a moment’s rest while on double fatigue duty, or a sick soldier failing to salute a Japanese officer. Very often, work parties of haggard men would be taken away from the camps to the shooting range where they would be used as live targets for new Japanese infantry recruits to improve their marksmanship. Soldiers who were not killed in the firing but wounded were bayonetted to death.

Japanese recruits using Indian prisoners for target practice
There's no getting around this, the INA were collaborators who were prepared to sacrifice thousands of their own countrymen to the brutal whims of a foreign power.

After Independence Nehru was rather cool on the returning INA members, refusing to incorporate them into the newly independent Indian Army. 

In early 1948 the Prime Minister sent for three of us to hear our views on the matter. The trio comprised Mr Rao, a Defence Ministry civil servant with a judicial background, General Srinagesh, an early Sandhurst graduate and myself. We each expressed our view and though there were differences in reasons and reasoning, individually and collectively we all felt that the reinstatement of the Indian National Army into an army which they had left and against which they had fought would be incorrect, probably unwise and certainly disruptive. The Prime Minister heard us out and when we finished he said in his usual forthright manner, ‘I disagree with your reasons but I agree with your conclusions.’ The Indian National Army men were not reinstated and though some benefits were paid to them and a very few political appointments having no connection with the armed forces were made available to some of them, their treatment was in fact surprisingly cool after all the adulation they had received just one year earlier.

Bobby Sands, - Bobby doesn't need much of an introduction he was famous for leading a hunger strike in 1981 that brought a lot of media attention to the conflict in Northern Ireland. He and nine other members would die as a result. That wasn't the only thing of note he did, before his incarceration he lead a successful Provisional IRA bombing of a furniture shop in Dunmurry (no idea why).

Bobby Sands was probably not a Marxist-Leninist since he joined the Provisional IRA and not the Marxist-Leninist republican group the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).  Seamus Costello or Hugh Torney would have been a much better fit for a list of Tankies. Its actually a sad story, Sands had made an effort to stay out of sectarian conflicts, ignoring constant harassment from Unionist co-workers who were trying to maintain segregation in the trades. At one point armband wearing members of the Tartan gang (a sort of youth wing for the Ulster Defence Association) held him up at gun point. Also in 1972 his family home was vandalised by a Unionist mob and they had to move to Poleglass in West Belfast.

The Provo's came out of a split from the increasingly Marxist leadership of Cathal Goulding whom after the split was left with what became known as the Official IRA.

This break meant that the Provisional faction was more open to using the same sectarian violence that Bobby and his family were the victims of. Perhaps most infamously was the Kingsmill massacre in 1976, when a group of IRA members murdered 10 workers because they were Protestants.

A teenager injured during a sectarian IRA massacre cried for his mother as he lay waiting to die, the sole survivor has told an inquest into the 1976 Kingsmill massacre.
A new inquest was set up to look into the deaths of 10 Protestant workmen who were killed at a Co Armagh roadside by the IRA in 1976.
Alan Black told the inquest that a gunman then stood over teenager Robert Chambers and shot him in the face, blowing his head off.
Mr Black said: "Robert Chambers - my last memory was him lying on the ground calling for his mother.

He was only wounded at that time. The gunman came over and shot him in the face... His head was blown off.

The Provo's ideology according to its political wing Sinn Féin is a mix of left nationalism, republicanism and democratic socialism. And despite their decades long abstentionism in the UK parliament they are very active in both Ulster and the Republic of Irelands elections and local governments, and the European Parliament. How about anti western? Well a very large chunk of SF and the Provo's political and financial support came from the United States of America. 

Now a lot of this support came from the Irish American community including very right wing anti Communist Irish Americans like GOP Congressman Peter T.king, [18]

It has also included major corporations like the Coca Cola company.

Sinn Féin accepted a $5,000 donation from Coca Cola four months before US unions began a legal battle against the company for alleged human-rights abuses in Colombia.

That's not a one off either a year later they accepted $15,000 from Coca Cola

Hang on. Surely this couldn't be the same Sinn Fein leadership which last year voted with its pockets to accept a US $15,000 corporate donation from, er, Coca Cola.

Oh, but indeed it is. Part of the huge American subvention of Sinn Fein last year came from the US drinks manufacturer


This isn't unusual the Friends of Sinn Fein fundraising group has extensive links to Wallstreet.éin-1.2126448

After the Good Friday agreement Sinn Fein and the Provo's would disarm, with the former operating openly as a normal political party in an elective society, well with one exception, due to the peace agreements Northern Ireland's political system has been set up so that Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party share power, including an integrated police force. In addition the now deceased former Provisional IRA member Martin McGuiness became Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, and met the Queen.

Karl Liebknecht, - Karl was Rosa's closest collaborator, while its not exactly fair to say the two were completely in step on everything.  But the two were close and often worked together on initiatives. And because of that, I'm not going to repeat what was said in Luxemburg's section, I'll just confine myself to the events of the Spartacist insurrection of January 1919.

The official date of the Spartacist rising is January 4th, however for the first few days much of the action was done by large demonstrations against the increasing power and conservative trend of the SPD government. In particular the attempt to remove the head of the Berlin police department Emil Eichorn (independent socialist who was given the job by the Berlin Workers and Soldiers Councils) proved quite controversial.

During this time the Spartacist League members joined the protests and put out several pamphlets arguing for a revolutionary seizure of power in the city.

 The Ebert-Scheidemann government has become intolerable. The undersigned revolutionary committee, representing the revolutionary workers and soldiers, proclaims its removal. The undersigned revolutionary committee assumes provisionally the functions of government."

According to Karl Radek a Council Communist who knew the Spartacist League members, the call for a revolt was the work of Karl Liebknecht and Wilhelm Pieck with Rosa very displeased with it. As such the uprising is often depicted as Putsch by Liebknecht with the rest of the Spartacists reluctantly joining in. But honestly it seems to me the street fighting phase of the revolt was provoked by the deployment by Ebert of the Freikorps. The accounts of violence seem largely to start as soon as the Freikorps entered Berlin and not before.

Honestly despite the name `Spartacist Uprising` I think its far more accurate to think of it as a General strike in Berlin against the policies of Ebert's government. Before the Freikorps showed up while many workers and demonstrators were armed the most serious events was the occupation of several government and pro SPD buildings like the offices of the SPD newspaper Vorwärts. After that there was also the establishment of what was called "Interim Revolutionary Committee" (Provisorischer Revolutionsausschuss) of 53 members which the Spartacists did not dominate, and in fact on the 8th of January they withdrew from the Revolutionary Committee because they didn't believe the situation was developing.

There were also attempts to appeal to sympathetic military units, but they largely failed. For all this talk of a Spartacist insurrection the mobilisation of its militia seems to have been a last minute attempt to resist the state terror of the SPD and its far right paramilitary. 

So yeah, again I'm not seeing the Tankieness of Karl.

Ahmed Ben Bella, This is an unfortunate choice, Bella was not a Marxist-Leninist, he was an Algerian nationalist whom after succeeding in getting the French to pull out of Algeria began a series of policies which were a bit of a mix. He maintained very good relations with the Soviet Union and its allies, but in land reform an important issue for Algeria he promoted policies based on autogestion or self management of the land, as opposed to forced collectivisation.

However in 1965 he was deposed in a coup and spent many years under house arrest before leaving Algeria in 1980. After that he moved around Europe and founded an opposition party called Mouvement pour la démocratie en Algérie  a party that's often described as moderately Islamist.
Politically speaking the man was hard to pin down. This is the problem with lists and pantheons like this that are cooked up purely to `win` arguments, the need to impress and overwhelm just makes the whole thing incoherent. I can at least see how Ben Bella made it onto a list of anti western fighters as been part of an insurrection against a coloniser fits the bill.

Though there is a bit of an addendum to this, Ben Bella on at least one occasion publicly declared the concept of national liberation a failure including the Algerian experience.

Ben Bella on "national liberation"

Q: What are the main lessons you've learned from your experience?
A: These days I use a formula which summarize what I've come to: The single party is the single evil. Earlier I didn't have the tools for understanding this evil. The FLN had become a monster. The organization formed in the struggle for independence was not the same as the one ruling Algeria. The whole superstructure, the Party, the Parliament, et cetera, had become a hindrance.

It was during my 1962 tour of the country, after the decrees on self-management of land by peasants, that I realized this change. There was great energy among the peasants and the workers. We would have had to set aside the bureaucracy, form revolutionary committees and expand self-management to take advantage of this dynamism. The Parliament and all those structures - excuse me, but they're all bullshit.

Unfortunately, I chose the wrong camp. I hesitated in sweeping aside all that hindered these possibilities.

Q: I heard you say earlier that socialism existed nowhere in the world...
A: That's true. I'm not talking about what's in the blueprints. I'm talking about living socialism. You see what's happened since 1917. Do you see socialism? Still, I'm faithful to the ideals of socialism, to the struggle against the exploitation of man by man. But it should be understood that there's not just one form of exploitation. There is also exploitation by bureaucratic apparatus.

Q: This is a very negative view of the achievements of national revolutions...
A: They have all failed. As long as we have not broken the world capitalist order, we remain exploited by the mercantile relations of production. Even in the "socialist" world you find these types of relations. Inside COMECON (The Council for Mutual Economic Aid of the Soviet bloc countries), for example, or between the Soviet Union and the Algeria that I was President of.

From No Middle Ground - San Francisco USA, Fall 1984/Winter, 1985 (original source of interview unknown).
Here he seems to be taken more of a libertarian line.

Simon Bolivar - Yes that's right, on a list of Tankies they've included Simon Bolivar a man who died in 1830. Not only was he not a Stalinist, but he wasn't a socialist under any possible definition of the word.

He was a classical liberal who fought to liberate South America from the Monarchy of Spain. He also interestingly idolised George Washington. Bolivar was in Paris during the coronation of Napoleon -whom Bolivar had greatly admired- Bolivar was so disturbed by this betrayal of (French) Revolutionary values that not only did he not attend the celebrations, but he made a show of shuttering the windows of the house he was staying as a protest*.

I have a book of his speeches and letters, with a foreword by Hugo Chavez, its full of talk about Constitutional liberty and decrying the despotic government of Spanish monarchy and its regency of the American colonies. For example here's an extract from the Jamaica letter September 1815
These authorities were to guide the course of our revolution, to take advantage of the happy circumstances which allowed them to found a constitutional government, worthy of the present age, and appropriate to our situation.
All new governments first have to establish popular assemblies [juntas]. These assemblies then formed rules for the convocation of a congress,  which finally produced important changes. Venezuela first erected a democratic and federal government, declaring the rights of man, maintaining the just balance of powers, and enacting general laws which were favourable to civil liberty, the freedom of the press, and many others. New Grenada followed Venezuela's lead in political institutions and reforms, making the broadest federal system that ever existed into the fundamental basis of her constitution. She has recently improved the general executive power by making many amendments. from what I can understand, Buenos Aires and Chile have followed these examples;
So no, Bolivar is not a Tankie, and as for anti westerner? Simon Bolivar did more to westernise Southern America than anyone else in history. The man was liberal revolution in the tradition of Washington.

*Yes, quite a few historians have noted how he would later do much the same thing when the revolution started slipping away from him.

Salvador Allende, - Yeah this is a poor choice, Allende was a Democratic Socialist, who believed Chilean democratic institutions could provide the road to change society.
Like Russia then, Chile now faces the need to initiate new methods of constructing a socialist society. Our revolutionary method, the pluralist method, was anticipated by the classic Marxist theorists but never before put into practice. Social thinkers believed that the first to do so would be the more developed nations, probably Italy or France with their powerful Marxist-oriented working-class parties.

Nevertheless, once again, history has permitted a break with the past and the construction of a new model of society, not only where it was theoretically most predictable but where the most favourable concrete conditions had been created for its achievement. Today Chile is the first nation on earth to put into practice the second model of transition to a socialist society.

“The program of the Popular Unity is not a Communist program,” declared Allende in the October 4, 1970, New York Times, “nor is it a Socialist program, nor a Radical program, nor the program of the MAPU, or the API. It is the convergence of opinion.”

And when workers in the factories and countryside started rising up and seizing property, Allende stood with the institutions of government including the military, and moved to pacify and disarm the population.

Allende the martyr was the same Allende who disarmed the workers' militias of Santiago and Valparaiso in the weeks before the coup and left them defenceless before the military whose officers were already in his cabinet.

He was neither a Stalinist nor open to their measures. How about Anti-western? Well he was a committed supporter of democratic governance, he did annoy and anger the US government, but really he was rather mild. His nationalisation of mines and companies that were partially owned by American companies, but he did pay compensation. And curiously despite the growing rift investment by American companies in the Chilean economy actually increased during his presidency.

Allende’s earlier promise to pay about $US500 million for the remaining 19 per cent of the mines still in North American hands was a huge concession to US imperialism. After all, it was only a year earlier that the Peruvian military dictatorship, much further to the right than the Allende government, nationalised an important US oil corporation without compensation.

So a mixed bag there too. 

Julius Nyerere,
". . . the community of the traditional African village was a truly socialist community. Everyone worked. Everyone shared. There were no classes, no privi- leges either for food or self-respect. Wealth belonged to all and all shared in its assets. Only exploiters were missing. There were no landlords and no idlers to live off the labor of others.,

Julius Nyerere 

For the 420 million people of Africa, independence has brought little, if any more, freedom than under colonialism. Tanzania has more political prisoners than South Africa. One fourth of the population of equatorial Guinea is in exile

Sam Dolgoff 1977


Julius Nyerere became the leader of an independent Tanzania once its borders were consolidated. He was a public advocate of a form of African Socialism which was officially called by the Swahili word Ujamaa and was said to be based on pre colonial African social organisations and customs. So its curious that he tried to build this socialist society through a nation state and civil administration that inherited from the British colonial authorities. The independence of Tanzania was not particularly revolutionary, it was managed with open co-operation with the British government, independent Tanganyika had a Govenor General in the early days, and Nyerere himself would appeal to British assistance in restoring order such as in 1964 when his Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) government was threatened by both mutinies and a general strike.

In the meantime, a group of politicians and trade union leaders including an Area Commissioner who had been a long-time TANU stalwart, had begun conspiring with the ringleaders of the mutiny to bring about a real overthrow of the government. They planned to initiate a general strike on Saturday, followed by a coup on the following Monday in which, it was rumoured, Nyerere and his ministers would be removed.

Nyerere got word of this on Friday afternoon and Friday evening he asked for British aid. Fortunately for the government, the British were close at hand and the more serious threat was stopped before it could materialize. On Saturday night police detained about 200 persons, including officials of five major unions and the General Secretary of the Tanganyika Federation of Labour. Most of the officials are only now being released. The government has announced plans to disband the TFL and its eleven affiliated unions and to institute in their place a single, giant trade union representing all the workers in the country. Though the trade unions have opposed the government in the past, they have paraded through Dar es Salaam almost daily for a week to demonstrate their present loyalty.


Nyerere would eventually stabilise the situation by turning TANU into the blueprint for a one party state and concentrating power into the hands of state ministries. The country was essentially built on a contradiction, the countryside saw the development of many Ujamaa villages, new villages that were designed to be communal and promote self reliance based on a sucessful pioneering of co-operative villages in Litowa in 1960. But this villages still had to operated within a planned national economy structure along five year plans. If peasants did not want to move to these new collective villages then they were forcibly moved to them, much like in the Soviet Union of 1920s this disruption led to severe shortages in agricultural output in some regions. 

Unfortunately, the implementation of the Ujamaa scheme was heavy-handed. Although Nyerere originally stated that the re-villagisation process would be voluntary, reports returned of villages being burned and their inhabitants fleeing under force. Nyerere responded that he had no knowledge of the violent methods used to carry out his policies in distant regions of his land, especially the far south and north. The results were drastic, as entire villages and rural regions suffered extreme poverty and near starvation when they were forced to leave the land that had provided their subsistent existence and to immediately establish new crops on unknown land. The policy for agricultural collectives suffered because the 8,200 Ujamaa villages were mainly reliant on the hand-hoe, meaning that group action had little effect and many farmers were reduced to subsistence farming. The sisal plantations, previously a highly developed industry, suffered hopeless detriment as a result of mismanagement and cashew farmers moved so far from their crops that they abandoned them. Government officials placed within the villages held the balance of power, over that of elected representatives.


Though the promises of health and educational services at the new villages were mostly kept, so progress was made on reducing infant mortality and improving education. However the new system failed to build a prosperous Tanzania, and when Idi Amin invaded the country in 1979 the Tanzanian military had to be mobilised, and while it successfully drove back the Ugandan army, deposed Idi Amin and put Obote in power, it left the nation effectively bankrupt.

Throughout the 1980s Tanzania found itself increasingly debt ridden and dependent on foreign aid from the west. A demoralised Nyerere denationalised large portions of the economy, and stepped down in 1985 leaving his successors to negotiate IMF loans. 


The reason Tanzania got its name is because after independence it absorbed the neighbouring territory of Zanzibar, which was also a colonial possession of the British Empire. To this day the union has proven extremely controversial with Zanzibaris accusing the government on the mainland of treating the islands just like the old colonial powers, essentially an alliance with a local brutal elite and overwhelming force. 

For example in 1984 just before Nyerere stepped down he faced a potential crisis that could see Zanzibar become independent, and responded with troop deployments to maintain control. 

Nyerere sent 2,000 troops to the islands in 1984, forced Jumbe to resign and put Ali Hassan Mwinyi in power as president, with Seif Shariff Hamad who now leads the CUF, as chief minister. He regarded them both as reliable men who would defend the union between Zanzibar and the mainland. They introduced free market reforms similar to those that were then being put into action on the mainland under an IMF plan.


Ultimately if we take Nyerere at his word he seems to be a pretty clear failure. He's an advocate of African independence who turned for help from the old coloniser in fighting his own people, he actively oppressed and colonised an independent territory, promoted self reliance up to the point his citizens used that self reliance to deviate from a one party system, promoted economic independence, only to negotiate aid packages and loans from many countries from the UK to China and the IMF and World Bank.

Oddly though none of this seems to have damaged his reputation very much, I even found an article in the liberal Guardian newspaper praising the achievements of the wonderful villages he built, even though it acknowledges that the project and its most successful examples were founded independently of him. I think its worth quoting at length,

Some people decided to put ujamaa into practice in 1960, even before Nyerere had invented the name for his bold and imaginative strategy. They succeeded brilliantly in Litowa, the first ujamaa village they created – organising production, distribution, housing, health and education. Others came to join and were encouraged to form new villages; limiting village size enabled all to have a voice. When there were a few villages, the Ruvuma Development Association (RDA) was formed with its Social and Economic Revolutionary Army to help new villages to establish themselves. By 1969, the RDA had 17 villages.

A couple of times a week the village had communal meals where they made decisions. The women were encouraged to speak – a slow process – and their interests were considered. Housework and childcare counted as part of the village workday. Soon piped water ended fetching and carrying by women and children. Spare cash from sales of surplus crops was divided equally among all, including to elderly and disabled people who contributed by scaring wild animals from “sharing” food crops, or working in the new childcare facility.

Child mortality plummeted. Pupils at the self-governing Litowa school came from all the villages, boarding at Litowa in term time. They were not trained to compete or join the educated elite but to develop their exciting, caring rural society. Domestic violence virtually disappeared. Women’s status was rising, and the disapproval of others was discipline enough.

Nyerere backed them. When people asked what he meant by ujamaa, he would send them to Ruvuma. Just as ujamaa was about to mushroom into a mass movement, the RDA was destroyed by the greedy and ambitious new ruling elite, capitalism by the back door. They, hated the creativity of the people which had Nyerere’s support. Where was the power for them? Thus a great grassroots development, which might have changed the history of Tanzania and beyond,tragically ended. Nyerere, defeated, continued to work for socialist equity, in general and between the sexes.


This is quite explicitly pro Nyerere, but if we look a bit deeper and apply some critical thinking it largely rings hollow. If Nyerere was in charge and actively backing the projects (how did he back them?) with the support of the population then how did the capitalists destroy them? Which capitalists are these anyway, the corrupt state administrators and party leadership, or Tanzania's international financiers? It seemed to be a combination of both from what I've read, and far from working for socialist equity Nyerere continued his position as an elder statesmen in a system that kept making accommodations with financial capital and moved away from the one party system to a more typical multi party system.

Even at its most enthusiastic it seems Nyerere recognised a good idea, then decided to control it through the power of decree and security forces. 

Kwame Nkrumah,

Things have not gone well in Africa for quite a while. the era of colonial freedom which began so optimistically with Ghana in 1957 would soon be captured by Cold War manipulators and skewed into a deadly season of ostensible ideological conflicts which encouraged the emergence of all kinds of evil rulers able to count on limitless supplies of military hardware from their overseas patrons, no matter how atrociously they ruled their peoples.
All of us, therefore, even though pursuing widely contrasting policies in the task of reconstructing our various nation-states, still use “socialism” to describe our respective efforts. ‘The question must therefore be faced: What real meaning does the term retain in the context of contemporary African politics? I warned about this in my book Consciencism (London and New York, 1964, p. 105).
And yet, socialism in Africa today tends to lose its objective content in favour of a distracting terminology and in favour of a general confusion. Discussion centres more on the various conceivable types of socialism than upon the need for socialist development
 There are, however, other African political leaders and thinkers who use the term “socialism” because they believe that socialism would, in the words of Chandler Morse, “smooth the road to economic development”. It becomes necessary for them to employ the term in a “charismatic effort to rally support” for policies that do not really promote economic and social development. Those African leaders who believe these principles are supposed to be the “African socialists”.

Kwame Nkrumah was the first leader of an independent African nation during the disintegration of the colonial empires in the 20th century. And as the selection of quotes above demonstrate, he was very interested in developing socialism as he understood it, and wasn't blind the use and misuse of the term and concept. He also wasn't a supporter of the Soviet Union or the eastern block he was committed to the founding of the Non Aligned Movement and as the first quote makes clear he was extremely critical of the "solidarity" provided by both east and west to their friendly nations in Africa. 

Though eventually in the 1960s Nkrumah would move closer to China and the Soviet Union. Coincidentally the same time his economy was faltering and he faced strikes and anti corruption protests.

When Ghana became independent Nkrumah was adamant that the independent nation would prove itself in the form of industrial development. 

"My first objective is to abolish from Ghana poverty, ignorance, and disease. We shall measure our progress by the improvement in the health of our people; by the number of children in school, and by the quality of their education; by the availability of water and electricity in our towns and villages; and by the happiness which our people take in being able to manage their own affairs. The welfare of our people is our chief pride, and it is by this that the government will ask to be judged."

His socialism was similar to that of the British socialists, in that it was tied to the idea of the state nationalising industry. To that end he created many government companies. The results were not surprising, inequality and corruption increased, and this growing dissatisfaction led to increased social tensions with strike action becoming more common in the 60s when the government tried to impose austerity measures.

The July Budget austerity measures—demanding a 5 per cent deduction from the wages of all those earnings more than NC.336 per annum (the approximate starting wage of most skilled workers) were hardly sufficient in themselves to provoke such stern resistance as was in fact encountered. After declaring their secession from the TUC on the grounds that the TUC had failed to express the true feelings of the working class, the railway workers led their fellow-workers of Sekondi-Takoradi in an illegal strike which lasted seventeen days, in the face of the detention of their leaders and threats of military intervention. The role of the United Party opposition was marginal to the central dynamic and aims of the strike, even if it provided much-needed financial support in the later stages. More important by far was the moral and, in some cases, active support provided by other sections of the Sekondi- Takoradi masses. As one strike-leader put it, 'The support we received from all the people here was so tremendous we could not have backed down even if we had wanted to.' To some degree, this was a matter of other groups—most notably the market women and many of the unemployed—recognising their dependence on the trade, or charity, and hence the financial capacity, of the regular wage-earners. The market women also had their own specific grievances relating to the increasing domination of the market trade by C.P.P. favourites.
All these were united by a common sense of resentment at the widen- ing socio-economic and communications gap between the C.P.P. elite and the common people who had brought them to power.
Its a long quote but it touches on many of the realities of Nkrumaism. In particular the response of the government when workers did not go along with the plans of the state. Increasingly Nkrumah turned to more authoritarian measures and reliance on his armed forces. In the aftermath of the strike in 1961 Nkrumah purged some of the most overtly corrupt members of the state administration, but also tightened controls on the unions. This reliance on the military would ultimately prove his undoing when the military launched a coup in 1966 when he was abroad.  He would spend the rest of his life in exile in Guinea.

The party led, the Convention People's Party still exists, though its a very minor party that contests parliamentary elections. 

CLR James who was close to Kwame Nkrumah and an advocate of his revolution for many years would write a book on the Ghanaian revolution that showed some of the discontent and problems which grew to overshadow everything else. Its worth reading in full but for now
The harder you drive for westernisation, modernisation, the more you create these conflicting forces. And Nkrumah has been driving hard, none harder anywhere. The statistics of economic development in Ghana are the most advanced in Africa. But, given the original conditions, every economic advance means social disruption. To a man in his position it would seem that the only thing to do is to drive on and if to go on means ruthless suppression of opposition, well, history and progress demand it.

And of course one of Nkrumah's closest political aides who frequently found himself a powerful minister on the cabinet representing one economic sector or other Krobo Edusei infamously defended his wife's purchase of a gold plated bed (£3,000 at the time) with the statement "Socialism doesn't mean if you've made a lot of money you can't keep it". 

Krobo Edusei meeting Ben Gurion Prime Minister and founder of Israel

Ultimately Nkrumaism would peter out as an ideological force and the popularity and prosperity of the early Ghanaian Republic would collapse under the weight of corruption and increasing arbitrary violence.

ali salem al beidh,

Dennis Banks,

Our message was broadcast live. I addressed my remarks to the
Symbionese Liberation Army and to Patty Hearst. I began by saying
that kidnapping was not something that I could endorse as a way to cure
social ills. I explained that we, as American Indians, knew what it was
to be taken from our ancestral homes, forced into military-style boarding
schools, and Christianized and acculturated into a society that only had
intentions of using us. I said that this form of kidnapping had left its
mark upon all of us but that it had never been the answer to our social
problems. I added that birth is an accident and that no one should judge
Patty by her parents, just as it is wrong to judge people by their race. I
asked the SLA to not harm her or use her as a pawn, but to release her.

Dennis Banks one of the founding members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and actor lead a very interesting live. He and AIM fought very hard to try and halt and reverse the systematic violence of the United States against its remaining Indigenous populations. AIM was founded during what's known as the New Left period, and many of those groups the Young Lords, Black Panther Party etc were influenced to a greater or lesser degree by Marxist-Leninist and or Maoist writings and ideas. But this was not always the case, I've not seen anything to suggest that AIM was particularly influenced by this or any strand of socialist thought.

Famously another prominent member of AIM would give a speech rejecting what he saw as foreign ideology called "Marxism is as alien to my culture as Capitalism". In that speech he roots his ideas in what he calls American Indian culture and rejects the whole project of European culture including Marx and Hegel and everything that stemmed from it.

Now Means wasn't AIM's official theoretician and he didn't speak for the entirety of the group, though he did appear as a spokesman for the group on several occasions. But it does give us a glimpse into what AIM's intellectual inspirations were.

Well known actions by AIM which included Dennis were the Siege at Wounded Knee in 1973, and the Alcatraz occupation which lasted from 1969 until 1971. Now this would usually be the part where I point out just how very little the Red Power movement has to do with the Immortal Science of Marxism-Leninism, like for example AIM's  condemnation of Nicaragua's Sandinista's and support for the Miskito Indians in their struggles against that government. or how a group mainly involved in civil disobedience who used violence largely in self defence, and a man who founded his own Maple Syrup company doesn't fit in with this crowd, but I don't really need to do this again.

I think its much more interesting to talk about probably the strangest episode of Banks life, the time in 1974 when on still on trial for his participation at Wounded Knee, Banks was roped into work with the extremely wealthy Randolph Hearst and the FBI.

Randolph Hearst's daughter Patty Hearst had been kidnapped by another product of the times the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), and during the bizarre negotiations AIM was dragged into it. Hearst used his connections to get Banks a weeks deferment in his trial over the events of Wounded Knee, and in return Banks went to California to cooperate. He refused to wear a wire when asked but he was still cooperating with an investigation for a rich man whom used his influence on the Justice department with the help of the FBI.

The entire floor was reserved for the Hearst family. There
were about fifteen to twenty FBI agents and a large group of law
enforcement men standing around. I was feeling very much out of place
as I was introduced to all those people. Then at last I met Randolph
Working with the FBI isn't a good look but I think this episode is interesting in showing just how influential wealth can be in a capitalist society, even if Hearst didn't help get his Wounded Knee charges dropped, that he could get the favour of bringing a man on trial off for a bit (across State lines no less) while he worked on this strange negotiation is impressive. But also the publicly stated announcement also shows the divide between Banks and some of the other people on this list. The Mao era was infamous for reprisals on children for the class origins of their parents, many of the Guerrilla movements have resorted to kidnapping in their military campaigns.

One thing I do find a bit odd after having read Banks' autobiography is how this period is listed on his own websites official timeline.

1974 (37):
He cooperated with FBI for Patty Hearst Rescue.
Sep., He was acquitted of the Wounded Knee charges


In his autobiography he goes out of his way to explain how little co-operating he actually did, when asked to wear a wire he rejects it immediately, he gives Hearst advice he doesn't want to hear, he agrees with the other third parties who were called on by the SLA to limit their involvement and so on.

Its a bit of an open question, does his involvement with the FBI as involuntary as it was to his discredit, or was his ability to empathise with a victim and provide limited assistance while working with people who made his skin crawl to his credit.

I don't know, but I do think we can safely scratch him off this list.

Hugo Chavez,

“We have assumed the commitment to direct the Bolivarian Revolution towards socialism and to contribute to the socialist path, with a new socialism, a socialism of the 21st century, which is based in solidarity, in fraternity, in love, in justice, in liberty, and in equality,”
Hugo Chavez, 2006

Hugo Chavez is probably the most famous leader of what came to be known as the Pink Tide, so called because the early 2000s saw many nations in South America elect several leaders whose platforms moved away in varying degrees from the quite brutal neoliberal economic model. The term pink was used rather than red because while many were considered to be on left they weren't like the more hard line left-wing Latin Americans of the previous century.

To give a brief example of how incompatible the Pink Tide is with this list, Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner is often included in this Tide, and she did have very good relations with the rest of them. The problem with this is that while she did move away from the Neoliberal model the party she represented the Justicalist party, which is an open supporter of Peronism, Peron being of course the famous Dictator and admirer of the Axis and safe harbour for fleeing Nazis.

I bring this up to highlight an important factor that gets overlooked when looking back on this years. While the election victories of centre left politicians meant a change from the old days of the 80s all that really united these politicians was there hostility to neoliberal austerity. Some left office with only a few minor reforms expanded wealthfare and infrastructure.

Though to be fair to Chavez I think of all of the Pink Tide I believe he went furthest in his programs. After failing to take power twice in the 90s through abortive coup attempts Chavez managed to get elected President of Venezuela in 1999, and he would remain in office until his death in 2013.

In the early days  Chavez promoted an developmental model of capitalism, and didn't start to push towards some form of socialism until the 2000s, and when he did he stressed that the socialism he envisaged would be very different from what is commonly associated with it.

The Bolivarian doctrine was a doctrine in construction, a heterogeneous amalgam of thoughts and ideologies, from universal thought, capitalism, Marxism, but rejecting the neoliberal models currently being imposed in Latin America and the discredited socialist and communist models of the old Soviet Bloc.24 The model being proposed, however, was firmly capitalist, not 'savage neoliberal capitalism' but a 'capitalism with another face, with other mechanisms [which] ... is equitable and gets to all Venezuelans, rather than what has occurred in those years ... causing poverty, and the great squalor that exists in Venezuela'.25 This Third Way ideological rhetoric became more radicalised, however, as the Chavez government matured and faced down opposition threats. By January 2005 Chavez was talking of 'twenty-first century socialism' which would be different from Soviet Union-style twentieth-century socialism, in that it would be more pluralistic and less state-centred. This socialism would be 'based in solidarity, in fraternity, in love, in justice, in liberty, and in equality' and would mean the 'transformation of the economic model, increasing cooperativism, collective property, the submission of private property to the social interest and to the general interest', created 'from the popular bases, with the participation of the communities'. This socialism was not a dogma, however, but 'must be constructed every day'.

Officially the doctrine Chavez promoted was 21st Century Socialism, thought often also called Bolivarianism, or more derogatorily Chavismo. 21st Century Socialism was in practise involved massive social programs in health and education, support for co-operatives and the intervention of the state into the economy, it did not however lead to the abolition of wage labour, private property, poverty or the expropriation of the entire Venezuelan business community.

The party that Chavez built the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) was formed in 2007 after Chavez won re-election and was built out of a coalition of left wing parties and personalities including Trotskyists like Jose Ramon Rivero as minister for Labor.

Among the new ministers to be incorporated into the government Chavez also pointed to the new Minister of Labour, José Ramón Rivero, which he described as "young and a workers' leader". "When I called him" Chavez explained, "he said to me: 'president I want to tell you something before someone else tells you... I am a Trotskyist', and I said, 'well, what is the problem? I am also a Trotskyist! I follow Trotsky's line, that of permanent revolution."

And its not just Trotskyism, publicly Chavez throughout his career has expressed admiration for people from across the spectrum, including Marx, Lenin and Fidel Castro, but also Noam Chomsky and Kropotkin and Antonio Negri, and old liberals like the 19th century Ezequiel Zamorra and of course Simon Bolivar the liberal Venezuelan George Washington. Also worryingly he's also expressed praise for several dictators. 

I don't really think he qualifies as Tankie, he was open to working with all sorts of ideologies and he did win multi party elections thanks to a broad base of support. I think the charges that he was a dictator don't really hold up although his reliance on the military as part of his Bolivarian movement and top down approach mean he's not really a libertarian or even a liberal hero either.

His policies have mixed results, his missions expanded access to health care and education but they often fell short of their more lofty goals. For example Mission Zamorra which is a land reform policy designed to increase food security provide land for the poorest of the rural population. 

According to the decree all land confiscated under the plan is supposed to be paid a fair market compensation, and the lands that can be distributed come in three types.

  1. Land already owned by the Government
  2. Land claimed by large land owners but whose claims are disputed
  3. Underutilised Private land including second homes and investments

Some hectares have been transferred

The Venezuelan National Land Institute (INTI in its Spanish initials) is carrying out the land distribution under the co-called “Plan Zamora.” The plan – as well as Álvarez’s organization – is named in memory of Ezequiel Zamora, the 19th century Venezuelan peasant leader who struggled for land reform, social equality, and human rights for the poor.

In the first phase of Plan Zamora, more than a million hectares (2.5 million acres) were transferred to campesinos, benefiting more than 40,000 families. The government handed over 31,437 land deeds, 121 farm machines and 30 billion bolívars (US$20 million). The second phase of the plan will be to distribute two million hectares by the end of this year.

The Eziquiel Zamora National Agrarian Board brings together 22 campesino, indigenous and small business organizations in a horizontal organizing structure.

However I've not been able to find evidence that the government had distributed any land under the third category. That farmers received credit as part of the plans show that they're expected to take part in the economy and despite beginning in 2003 there are still severe rural poverty and large estates and the desire to improve food security in Venezuela has clearly failed as food shortage have become severe in recent years.

The Missions are in essence wealth fare reforms, they provide help to many but they haven't solved the problems they're meant to address.

But Bolivarian economics goes beyond establishing clinics in urban slums and limited land reforms, a key part of it has been in the co-operative and state sectors. There's been a lot of talk about workers co-ops and the "Bolivarian Factories" factories and workshops taken over by the government and supposedly run according to 21st century socialist ideals.

Vetelca was the first Bolivarian factory, set up in 2009 and curiously was public-private partnership with a Chinese company, it made mobile phones.
Levy Revilla Toyo, one of 56 workers (of both sexes) who were sacked from the factory, recently gave a detailed account of Vetelca’s origins. In his official complaint, Revilla tells us that recruitment for the factory started in October 2008, when the Ministry for Light Industry and Commerce gathered 250 people “from the missions [chavista social programmes – trans.], universities and communal councils from throughout Falcón state”. 60 of these 250 stayed on, and a total of 100 individuals survived the secondary training process in March 2009. March also saw the top-down election of the company’s board of directors, to this day presided over by Carlos Audrines Flores.
On 1 May – the international day of the worker – assembly of Los Vergatorios began. “We had to work into the small hours of the night,” Revilla testifies. “Everything was very poorly organised, which led to many of my workmates fainting and passing out due to hunger and difficulties with transportation”.
However, the workers were rewarded with a productivity bonus and – with the models ready in just 10 days - the satisfaction of having honoured the President’s word. Following this though, new employees began arriving, “crowding the plant and the canteen and violating the rights and the direct participation of the communal councils and missions”. In accordance with the Organic Law for Prevention, Conditions and Environment at Work (LOPCYMAT in its Spanish initials), passed by the Bolivarian regime itself, workers started to elect ”delegados de prevención” [roughly equivalent to health & safety representatives in the UK – trans.], despite the diverse, destructive obstacles placed in front of them by the board of directors.
On 7 July, eight Vetelca workers were sacked, including all three ”delegados” that had been elected via workers’ assembly. The fired workers were resolute in the necessity of defending their rights; however, when they visited the factory in order to corroborate their complaints, they were informed of the following: “the workers [here] are students, and their salary isn’t a salary but a maintenance stipend; [moreover] said workers don’t have an organisational structure”. Later, management would request the presence of the National Guard onsite, while accusing the sacked workers – in terms which by now are all too familiar – of being counter-revolutionaries. They would soon fire 56 more workers, forcing them to sign redundancy agreements in order to receive their paycheques. A few days later, the total number of sacked workers rose to 86.
The new workplaces like in Tito's Yugoslavia are largely superficial in employing new more "socialist" methods of organising. Workers at these factories and state sponsored co-ops are controlled by management and their conditions are often secondary to the need to be profitable. Because of this there was a growing trend amongst unions and workplace organisations to break away from the PSUV and start opposing it.

BREAKING NEWS (12/03/10, 4:45pm local time): 43 people have been arrested in a demonstration for labour and human rights and the return of collective contracts in the city of Maracay, Aragua state, Venezuela. Amongst the detained are three members of the human rights organisation, Provea, and an editor of the anarchist newspaper El Libertario.

Information is still scarce, but it appears that the demonstration - which had been organised by around 30 separate unions and was comprised of more than 200 people - was prevented from moving off by police, who attacked the assembled with tear gas. In the process of dissolving the congregated mass - who were calling for the right to protest, the return of collective contracts and freedom for Rubén González, the imprisoned union leader in Bolívar state - some 43 individuals were detained.

The three detained comrades thus far identified are Rafael Uzcategui (from El Libertario, and there in his capacity as an official human rights observer with Provea), Marcos Ponce and Robert Calzadilla. "Unfortunately, it is to do with our stance against the intolerance of social protest," commented a Provea spokesman in Caracas. "We hope that our comrades will soon be granted unconditional freedom".

And the cracks would only deepen once Chavez passed away. 

Even the Ba'athists criticise how little progress Chavez has made

France-Albert René

Since 1977 Seychelles has been an authoritarian, one-party, socialist state. In 1979 the government adopted a new constitution that failed to provide for basic human rights, but instead includes them in a preamble as a goal of the Seychellois people. René has also intimidated dissidents and opponents by threatening to invoke the Public Security Act, which allows for indefinite detention in security cases. Moreover, he often exiles opponents or orders the confiscation of their property. Over the years, numerous credible reports indicate that the police beat prisoners. Invariably, the government dismisses complaints against police officers charged with such practices. By the early 1990s, the Seychellois human rights record had improved somewhat as the government adopted a less belligerent attitude toward dissidents and opposition groups.


France-Albert René, came to power in the Seychelles in 1977 after a coup launched by his party the Seychelle's Peoples Progressive Front (SPPF). In terms of economics he's arguably the best candidate on this list, his time in government saw increased spending on social services with big increases in literacy and health care access, and the Gross Domestic Product grew so much that in some years the Seychelles islands could boast the highest in the whole Africa. 

His one party state was closely aligned to Tanzania, who assisted the coup and sent other military advisors, Cuba, the Soviet Union and North Korea whom also provided military assistance in the 1980s. Indeed even neutral commentators have praised the period of SPPF rule and Rene has even been given the title of "Benevolent" Dictator. But like most "Benevolent" Dictatorships, this only applies if you ignore the way the government treats everyone they don't like.

Frank Kilindo, a 28-year-old dockworker, was arrested on 17 May 1991 in Victoria,
the Seychelles capital on Mahé island. It is reported that he was arrested
on account of being found in possession of leaflets of a newly formed opposition
party, Parti Seselwa (Seychellois Party). Amnesty International is concerned
he may be a prisoner of conscience, detained for the non-violent expression
of his political views.

  Frank Kilindo has been detained on an administrative detention order
under the Public Security (Detention) Regulations 1981. This provides for
detention without charge or trial for an indefinite period of anyone thought
by the authorities to be endangering public safety. He is being held at the
Grand Police Military Camp, which is a maximum security prison in Mahé. He
is being held incommunicado and has been denied access to his lawyer
Amnesty International is also concerned at reports of other prisoners being subjected to ill-treatment at Grand Police Camp. One prisoner, Alain Vidot, is reported to have one leg paralysed as a result of beatings received from warders. This Prison Camp, which is a civilian prison run by the military, is reported to have no trained prison staff and no published rules or regulations. Prisoners are forced to undergo hard labour and are not permitted sufficient rest periods. Communication with the outside world in the form of letters or newspapers is forbidden. There have been persistent reports that in-mates are regularly beaten, particularly if they are unable to carry out their work.

 Part of the rationale for this repressive atmosphere was the Cold War, South Africa and mercenaries, this time the famous Merc was "Mad Mike" Hoare who tried to launch a coup in 1981, but the plot was quickly foiled. But as we see with the case Frank Kilindo just being found with unsanctioned leaflets could get you detained for days and sent to a prison facility with reputations for extreme physical assault.  

Now given some, many of the other idols on the list, I'm going out on a limb and assuming the intended audience for this type of agitprop aren't really interested in human rights abuses. They'll say they are when a government they don't like does something, but the legion of accounts even admissions and bragging of torture, and murder by the geopolitical vanguard get at best a shrug but more often an attempt to shift the conversation or attack the critic. 

As long as Rene and the SPPF stay the course it doesn't matter how benevolent or unbenevolent they actually were. But unfortunately for this crowd, the SPPF were much more like Yugoslavia or the Beninese and Romanian Dictatorships, quite open to the prospect of good relations with the West provided the deal was right. In the 1980s Rene cooled his rhetoric and took steps to build bridges with the Reagan Administration, steps which where reciprocated.

Critics of such U.S. aid call the Seychelles government a Marxist dictatorship and argue that any U.S. offer of military aid makes a mock- ery of the Reagan administration’s often-stated goals of supporting democratic resistance movements.
Critics also believe that troops from Tanzania, which helped Sey- chelles ruler France Albert Rene overthrow a democratically elected government in 1977 and helped keep him in power until North Koreans replaced them about a year ago, will return to the Seychelles if the North Koreans leave.
The State Department is prepar- ing to discuss a military program when the Seychelles defense minis- ter, Ogilvy Berlouis, visits the United States next month. If Mr.
Rene accepts the US. offer of mili- tary training, the State Department would interpret that move as an effort of the Seychelles to move out of the Soviet sphere of interest, Mr. Fischer said.
“We have reason to believe [the Seychelles government] will accept it,” Mr. Fischer said.
Mr. Fischer said the Seychelles is showing other signs of what he called a “more balanced foreign policy.” Mr. Rene has allowed the return of U.S. Navy ships for rest- and-recreation tours and is toning down his previous anti-U.S. rhetoric at the United Nations, Mr. Fischer said.
“He's no Soviet puppet,” he said of Mr. Rene.

Though the rebuilding would take sometime, about a year after sending their Defence Minister to meet with the United States to discuss among other matters $50,000 of US military assistance there was another coup attempt this time involving members of the Seychelles army and the Defence Minister.

In 1986 another coup attempt against the René regime occurred, supposedly involving the United States, France, and Britain. In addition to this foreign connection, the plot, known as Operation Distant Lash, included thirty mercenaries and some 350 partisans in Seychelles. The figurehead of this coup attempt was Minister of Defense Ogilvy Berlouis who reportedly was groomed to be the country's new pro-Western president. The security forces uncovered the conspiracy before the plotters could act and subsequently arrested Berlouis. Also, the government forced several Seychelles People's Liberation Army (SPLA) officers to resign.

Berlouis was another old revolutionary who was instrumental to the coup and had spent the time since building up the Security state in Seychelles.

Berlouis first served in President France Albert René’s government after the 1977 coup d’etat against the late James Mancham. Berlouis was appointed as Minister of State for Internal Affairs. His portfolio changed to that of Minister of Defence in 1979.

Berlouis’ portfolio at that time included immigration, prisons, and probation. He was also the Minister for Youth. As the Minister for Defence Berlouis was also the Chief of Defence Forces, a position he held until 1986. Berlouis was credited with building up the Seychelles armed forces. 

So once again we see the danger of trusting in military power to protect the regime.

Despite this upset and as the Cold War wound down and Rene and the SPPF found there was no longer a Soviet Union to counter the USA they started to move towards multi party politics. They gradually through the 1990s relaxed their security apparatus and allowed the opposition more freedom of movement. Today the Seychelles is largely a liberal democratic country. Rene stood down in 2004 and the SPPF (now the People's Party) lost their parliamentary majority in 2016.

Had time stopped in say the mid 1980s I could see the logic in latching onto Rene's legacy. Sure it would be weird seeing a group of supposed hardcore communists cheering on high GDP but we live in strange times. Sadly Rene and the SPPF were too successful, the same group that aligned with North Korea and harboured the Soviet fleet is the same ones who pursued rapprochement with the West and opened up a liberal democratic system.

Nicolas Maduro,

Venezuela is the centre of an important global debate. The images of thousands of humble people claiming for food or medicine, crossing by foot the borders with Colombia and Brazil, escaping from the economic and social debacle, the news of looting and repression, they illustrate the free fall to which the government, headed by Hugo Chavez and continued by his heir Nicolas Maduro, led the country. All these facts fuel the discussion about the fate of Chavismo, a political project that a decade ago still aroused great enthusiasm in important sectors of youth, trade union, and left activism in Latin America and the world.

We reject those positions which define some reactionary governments as “antiimperialist regimes”, when in reality they are governments of the ruling classes that use the “antiimperialist” or “revolutionary” demagogy in their attempts to restructure their states and save bureaucrat capitalism through corporativism and/or a “change of master”, as in the case of the fascist government of Venezuela. We communists support every national liberation movement against imperialism, but we reject and condemn every false national liberation movement that, under the pretext of “tactics” sell themselves to one or another superpower or power as a chess piece in the new redivision of the world.

Emphasis mine.

Statement by the Shining Path and Communist party of Chile at its first Latin American conference in 2018. The Shining Path being the faction professing loyalty to "Chairman Gonzalo" AKA Abimael Guzman.

I don't put much stock in the views of Gonzalism (the common name for the Maoist tendency promoted by Guzman and the Shining Path) nor do I agree with their analysis of the PSV government of Venezuela. I'm only bringing this up to (yet again) highlight that most of these people we're supposed to take note of and agree with don't actually get along. 

Maduro is often relegated to being the poor successor to Hugo Chavez, he's not as a popular as Chavez and his time as President of Venezuela has seen steep declines in both the PSUV's popularity and the economy of Venezuela. The economic situation has gotten so dire that "but Venezuela" has become a popular right wing anti-socialist argument.

Muammar Gaddafi

Finally, I would like to add a personal word of thanks for your assistance in the matter of deportation. That support – and the excellent co-operation of your officials with their British colleagues – is a tribute to the strength of the bilateral relationship which has grown up between the United Kingdom and Libya. As you know, I am determined to see that partnership develop still further.

Best wishes
yours ever,

Tony Blair

Muamar Gaddafi, more commonly known by his military rank as Colonel Gaddafi, after giving himself a promotion from captain after his successful coup, against the corrupt and very unpopular monarchy, had many admirers. Some of them like Nelson Mandela are on the list too, so he isn't a complete sore thumb. His long rule saw many achievements in development and nation building in Libya, the successful nationalisation of the oil industry made it possible to invest heavily in housing, education and health care. 

Under his rule illiteracy (at 90% before his coup) was wiped out infant mortality fell drastically, and the average GDP of its citizens increased to very high levels. At the peak of his regime Libya actually had higher rates of prosperity and human development than the rest of Africa and even some European nations. And he didn't stay isolated, internationally he was well known and had lots of friends too. Originally a Nasser admiring pan Arab, when his many attempts to build a pan Arab state failed to materialise he embraced a form of Pan Africanism, and while he never succeeded in building a United States of Africa, this initiative did see more practical results. Libya was a major supporter of the African Union, the funder of RASCOM, the African satellite communications company, a financial supporter of many other African infrastructure development projects, including establishing a $5 billion development fund for building hotels, mobile phone companies, mining companies etc. And under his rule Libya broke world records for irrigation with the massive great man made river project, that brought water and irrigation to millions of acres of desert.

And many individual African leaders could count on financial, political and military support over the years. Gaddafi even managed to get the West back on side in the late 90s, and Libya managed to secure diplomatic and trade deals with many European nations, and the Libyan intelligence service collaborated with the west. 
As a developer of economies and investor in welfare programs he seems like an obvious object of praise, bit odd that the financier of corporations is in a list of hardline revolutionaries mind. Especially if you bothered to read his speeches and literature where he equates communism with capitalism and boasts of finding a superior third way. And domestically if you read the Green book and watch Libyan documentaries and news reels you will know that Gaddafi was a democrat and complex political theorist who strove to build a better more egalitarian system of mass participation. Gaddafi wasn't even the leader of the country, the main power was held in the General People's Congress (GPC) a body made of representatives drawn from the 187 basic People's Congresses.

And yet in 2011 his own people, many of them so young they knew only life under Gaddafi chased him into a tunnel and beat him to death and then mutilated his corpse. Its one of the most vicious things I've seen. How could this happen? Why did so many of his own population want him gone and were willing to risk death in a civil war? Why did they not simply take their grievances to GPC? Well because Gaddafi's Libya like most governmental systems was a sham. The GPC always supported what Gaddafi wanted to achieve, while on paper it was a democratic utopia, the reality was that the security forces aggressively stamped out any and all potential opposition.

Thousands of Libyans were forced into exile or were silenced, in one of the more infamous and well known cases was the 1996 massacre of 1,200 prisoners in Abu Salim after inmates protested the restriction of visits and poor conditions in the prison. Initially the government denied the whole  thing but due to pressure and leaks finally acknowledged it in 2004.

In the summer of 1996, stories began to filter out of Libya about a mass killing in Tripoli's Abu Salim prison. The details remained scarce, and the government initially denied that an incident had taken place. Libyan groups outside the country said up to 1,200 prisoners had died.
In 2001 and 2002, Libyan authorities began to inform some families with a relative in Abu Salim that their family-member had died, although they did not provide the body or details on the cause of death. In April 2004 Libyan leader Mu`ammar al-Qadhafi publicly acknowledged that killings had taken place in Abu Salim, and said that prisoners' families have the right to know what took place.
But the reach of the security services was much wider. This was confirmed when the Workers Revolutionary Party - a British Trotskyist party that was run by a serial rapist- collapsed. During the fallout it was confirmed that both Gaddafi and Saddam Huessein had been funding the party and paying them to collect information for Libyan intelligence.

Even these remnants disclose pay­ments of over a million pounds to the WRP from Arab regimes and the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The report clearly shows that for nearly a decade the WRP acted, quite literally, as the paid agent of brutal and oppressive foreign powers. This lasted from at least as early as 1975, when the first contact was made with the PLO, until 1983. During this period a series of agreements was concluded with the Libyan regime and the WRP's political perspectives were amended to suit their paymasters.
The document alleges that the WRP acted - through Gerry Healy, Alex Mitchell, Corin and Vanessa Redgrave, and a number of others -as a collector of information for Libyan Intelligence. This function had, as the report puts it, "strongly anti-semitic undertones". Put plainly, they were Jew-spotting in the media, politics and business. The Khomeini revolution and the Iran-Iraq war - in which the WRP's efforts to support both sides soon collapsed - put paid to their employment by the regime of Saddam Hussein. But before this disaster the WRP's connections with Iraq clearly generated more than the £19,697 identified in the report.
The Iraqi connection had sinister aspects. From 1979 on, the WRP provided the Iraqi embassy with intelligence on dissident Iraqis living in Britain. Since Saddam Hussein's dictatorship does not scruple to arrest the relatives of opponents, to use torture on a vast scale, or even to murder children, it seems likely that the WRP were accomplices to murder.
And while Gaddafi counted many friends in Africa, he also had many enemies. Gaddafi's growing disillusionment with Pan Arabism led to military clashes with Egypt after its leader Sadat refused plans to merge the two nations. Initially this led to Gaddafi supporting assassins and dissidents in Egypt with Sadat answering in kind, but by 1977 Gaddafi had sent tanks across the border, starting what is known as the Four day War. The conflict ended with no border change, but the Libyan army lost over 400 men as a result, and the landmines laid during the conflict were not completely neutralised until 2006. 

This was not the only time Libya tried to annexe and destabilise a neighbour, Gaddafi tried to occupy portions of territory of its southern neighbour Chad, in the process sponsoring a bloody civil war and getting several thousand of his own soldiers killed before being forced out of the country in 1987 due to an international intervention and opposition counter attacks. And when brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin launched an invasion of Julius Nyerere's (also on the list) Tanzania, Gaddafi send many troops and equipment to his aid, over 600 Libyan soldiers lost there lives trying to keep the man who starved thousands and had dissidents beaten to death with hammers in power.

And when Liberia's dictator Doe fell out with Gaddafi, Libyan funding and military support made its why to Charles Taylor, a brutal warlord who among many other crimes used child soldiers, slavery, and mass rape. 

Drawing recruits from his terrorism camps, Gaddafi trained, armed and dispatched thugs like Charles Taylor and Foday Sankoh to take power in West African countries, initiating the brutal slaughter of innocents in Liberia and Sierra Leone, says David M. Crane, the founding prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. “This was a long-term criminal conspiracy,” says Crane, who is now a professor at Syracuse University, and “[Gaddafi] was the center point.”

Sankoh died in custody after the war ended; Taylor is currently being tried by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Gaddafi is named in Taylor’s indictment, and Taylor has testified to Gaddafi’s involvement. Crane says he found evidence that when Sankoh invaded Sierra Leone, “Libyan special forces were there helping train and assist them tactically and there were Libyan arms in that invasion: he had been involved from the get go.”

I could go on all day, Blaise Compare of Burkina Faso was also trained by Gaddafi's military advisers and after the murder of Thomas Sankara Libya maintained its support. 

Gaddafi also gets some infamy and praise for his support of terrorist movements, there is a famous mural of him in Northern Ireland to commemorate his financial and military support for the Provisional IRA, although its often overlooked that he cut off their support in 1987 when they were getting desperate, because he wanted to improve his relationship with the west and the Provo's attacks on civilians had grown extremely controversial. 

In a statement, Colonel Gaddafi's government said: " Libya is aware of the difference between legitimate revolutionary action and terrorism aimed at civilians and innocent people. This action does not belong to the legitimate revolutionary operation."

And when the revolt broke out Sinn Fein publicly supported the rebels.

He acknowledged the Colonel as a "friend of the IRA", but wouldn't be drawn on whether this relationship is now a "grubby" embarrassment.
Instead Mr Adams tried to consign the Gaddafi link to the past and associate republicans with the Arab spring, drawing parallels between the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East and the struggle for civil rights in the 1960s (this mirrored comments made to me by Martin McGuinness back in the early days of the Libyan rebellion).

So that relationship didn't work out. Indeed the reason we know so much about the extant of Gaddafi's support for terrorist and rebel groups is because Libyan intelligence acknowledged many of the allegations and released information detailing the extant. The pivot back to the west was extremely fruitful for Gaddafi, sanctions were scaled back, trade increased and he earned praise as a reformed leader. The relationship with Berlusconi's Italy was so close that Libya agreed to a deal to police migration to the EU with his prisons being opened to thousands of illegal migrants. 
In August 2008, both countries agreed a Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Co-operation, including provision for bilateral efforts to combat "illegal migration" through joint patrolling of the sea. As part of the treaty, Italy has said it will compensate Libya for its 30-year occupation. The $5bn (£3bn) package involves construction projects, student grants and pensions for Libyan soldiers who served with the Italians during the Second World War. In return, Libya has agreed, amongst other things, to tighten control of its territorial and international waters and accept disembarkation on its soil of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees intercepted at sea by Italian vessels. Italy has been reported to have also undertaken to provide resources, including technology for control of migrant flows through the southern borders of Libya.

This deal would earn Gaddafi praise from the European right, but its not like that hasn't happened before, 
The National Front News (the party’s paper of record) wrote at the time: “Common interest must be turned into practical cooperation. Those involved must work to nail the media lies which are used by our enemies to try and divide us and make us afraid to be seen standing side by side with…. nations such as Libya and Iran”.
Griffin himself has never denied seeking funds from Gaddafi.
He said at one time: “In our minds was the fact that Libya is a small country awash with oil money. If we wanted to build a serious nationalist movement in this country [Britain], we needed to attract serious money. Had we been offered it, we would have been very happy to take it.”

Though the main far right beneficiary of Gaddafi was the Italian Neo Fascist terrorist movement

Over the years, Ghaddafi has been wooed by several neofascist leaders, including Italian fugitive Stefano delle Chiaie, who was accused of masterminding a series of bomb attacks in Rome and Milan.

Described in a 1982 CIA report as "the most prominent rightist terrorist ... still at large," delle Chiaie wrote a letter to Ghadaffi, inviting him to join in a common struggle against "atheistic Soviet Marxism and American capitalist materialism," both of which were supposedly controlled by "international Zionism."

Delle Chiaie added: "Libya can, if it wants, be the active focus, the center of national socialist renovation [that will] break the chains which enslave people and nations."

Ghaddafi, the Green Book and Western Extremism
Links between Libya and the European far right have been scrutinized in several parliamentary and judicial probes in Italy.

One Italian judicial inquiry found that the Libyan embassy in Rome had provided money to aid the escape of Italian terrorist suspect Mario Tuti shortly after the bombing of an express train near Florence in 1974. Tuti was later captured and sentenced to a lengthy prison term for orchestrating the attack, which killed 12 people and injured 44 others.


This is why despite all the funding for schools and investment banks he established Gaddafi remained a despised figure by many of his people, who resisted him. When his security forces started firing on demonstrations, killing dozens the protest movement soon retaliated and a civil war broke out. A war which he lost everything. And Libya has been in a cycle of violence ever since. He tried to unite the Arabs, and he failed and made enemies among the Arabs, he tried to unite the Africans, and he failed and made many enemies amongst the Africans, he tried to unite his own population to his vision and again failed and made many enemies amongst them too.

Gamal Nasser

“On November the 4th, at dawn, policemen and members of the secret police… broke suddenly in the room of my father’s apartment in which I was sleeping. Major Achoub threw me out of bed and started his inquiry… ‘You are a communist, a traitor to the country. Me, an officer of the army will show you what you deserve…’”.1 So begins the letter from an unnamed “young comrade” in Cairo’s Central Prison. It was 1953, and the first wave of post-revolutionary repression against the communist movement was in full swing. All political parties were forcefully dissolved by the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) on January 18, 1953. A month before the RCC passed a law abolishing the right to strike, just months after a large-strike had erupted at Kafr al-Dawwar, which the Free Officers dealt with harshly.2 They hoped by repressing independent political elements, especially communist organizers of trade union movements, it would facilitate the fostering of economic and political relations with the United States. Thus, the property of all parties, especially offices and printing presses, were confiscated and leaders of political parties were arrested and put under house arrest pending trial.

Brief anecdote, feel free to skip. In 2005 I was on holiday in Egypt just after the Presidential election and before the parliamentary elections where to no one's surprise Hosni Mubarak and his National Democratic Party (the successor to Nasser's political party) romped home. There were political posters covering most of the wall space of Cairo, our tour guide decided to pass the time by quizzing us on modern Egyptian politics, kinda dicey because a lot of us were British and you know there was the colonializing and the conflict over the Suez canal. Anyway, one of the question was `which leader Egyptians liked the most?` we all said Nasser, to which he replied `a lot of tourists think that but not really, he helped win our independence but he also took Egypt into a lot of wars, and lost a lot of them, so with the mourning and war costs eating up the budgets for domestic programs, his popularity has dimmed.` He claimed Sadat was the most popular leader at the time, I don't remember why he said Sadat was more popular, nor do I have any clue if that was true in 2005, I just found oddly relevant to the topic.

Back to more substantial matters, Gamal Nasser was the man personality and organiser of the Free Officers, a mix of politically minded officers with adherents from every tendency. In 1952 after ousting the Monarchy the Free Officers formed the RCC to run the country as a republic. Throughout the 1950s the RCC and Nasser persecuted Egyptian Communists and cracked down violently on Unions and strikes. This no doubt comes as a surprise to the typical "anti-imperialist" leftist given that Nasser's Egypt also had close ties to the Soviet Union, but that's just ignorance talking. The Soviet Union has a well worn history of leaving its "Fraternal parties" out in the cold while making deals with the brutal governments that are busy locking their members up or hanging them.

I mean that literally by the way, people were sentenced by Nasser's Revolutionary Tribunals for the crime of spreading Communism, and several of them like the striking workers like Khamis and el-Baqari were hung for taking part in a strike at Kafr al-Dawwar.

Mostafa Khamis before his execution, his last words were "I am wronged I want a retrial"

This very blog has covered Stalin's sell out of the Greek communists so he could make a deal with Churchill over spheres of influence, as well as Lenin's treaties with Germany that undermined the potential of a German revolution, and his abandoning of the Iranian Communists for trade and friendship deals with Reza Khan (soon to be Reza Shah) and the British Empire, and the Soviet Union's military deployments against Eritrean Marxist-Leninists.

Curiously the repression seems to have gotten worse the stronger Nasser's position became, despite multiple Communist splinters publicly supporting his government, some even going so far as to organise defence groups in 1956 when the British-French-Israelis invaded to take back control of the Suez Canal. They were just rewarded with more repression.

Nasser viewed the Communists' turning toward Kassem as an immediate threat to his position as the sole leader of the Arab nation. An attack launched against the communists reached its zenith in January 1959, when the authorities began taking measures to crush the movement.

The conflict between the Nasserist Arab Socialists and the Communist movement would end in 1965 when what was left of the Egyptian communists agreed to dissolve their parties, journals and networks and join Nasser's Arab Socialist Union.

"This is the first time in history that a communist party ends its independent existence and accepts the leadership of the national socialist revolutionary forces."

Not all of the Egyptian communists were happy about this new marriage, some split off and managed to build a small underground party in 1975, but it remained the victim of repression by Nasser's successors. So in effect Nasser represents the complete and total defeat of Marxism-Leninism in Egypt.

But what about international politics? Well after hanging a few reds had failed to ender the West to Nasser's pan Arab dreams his nation developed a relationship with the Soviet Union. It also maintained its hostility to Israel, Nasser would come to fight several conflicts with Israel, the historical consensus is that he lost most of those conflicts, but his commitment to opposing Tel Aviv's aspirations can't be denied. Unfortunately his opposition seems to have passed over into exploitation of anti-Semitism
While it is unclear if Nasser himself continued propagating the Protocols, the government cited the antisemitic text ubiquitously, not only in Arabic but in multiple languages. Israel, the Enemy of Africa contained select quotes from the Protocols, and was distributed by the Egyptian Information Department to Africa in 1965

Nasser's Egypt also found itself in conflict in Yemen against the Saudi back royalist forces, the conflict was very bloody but one factor stands out was the deployment by the Egyptian army of chemical weapons on villages in the northern part of Yemen.


Abd al-karim Qasim,

This is one of the inclusions that made me scratch my head, I think they just ripped him from a list of Iraqi leaders and confused him for a Ba'athist given the other Iraqi choices. I can see why a vague anti-imperialist would admire Qasim, the coup he jointly led deposed the monarchy in 1958 and would eventually take a hostile and anti western stance, especially over foreign troops on Iraqi soil and oil corporations. He even lifted the ban on the Iraqi communist party, so for a MLish audience he'd be somewhat more appropriate than Nasser.

But he was overthrown and murdered by the Ba'ath parties Iraqi wing. And yet many high ranking members of the Ba'ath party are not only on the list but rubbing shoulders with him.

The action against Qassem had to be brought forward because some of the conspirators were arrested, and when it was launched many army units refused to mobilize in support of the Baathists. Bakr, drawing on the services of four Hunter Hawker fighter jets, managed to launch an assault on Qassem’s well-defended redoubt at the Ministry of Defense. The fighting lasted for two days, leaving hundreds of dead and wounded in central Baghdad, before Qassem was finally forced to surrender. His captors denied his request that he be allowed to keep his firearm, nor would they allow his trial to be held in public. After a summary hearing, Qassem was executed by firing squad. The whole process between his unconditional surrender and his execution took just one hour. To reassure the doubting Iraqi public that the president was indeed dead, Qassem’s bullet-riddled body was featured in a grotesque film that was shown repeatedly on Iraqi television.
a photo of the death of Abd al-karim Qasim. Distributed by the Ba'athist party

And while they were showing off his body the Ba'ath party hit squads including a recently returned Saddam Hussein were busy hunting down Iraqi Communists.

If Saddam was frustrated in his political ambitions, the bloody clashes
that continued between the Baathists and communists after Qassem’s overthrow
provided him with a more familiar outlet through which to channel his
frustrations. The street fighting that took place in Baghdad during the coup
itself had claimed anywhere between 1,500 and 5,000 lives. For several weeks
after the coup, house-to-house searches were undertaken in pursuit of communists
and leftists. The searches were carried out by the National Guard
(Haras al-Qawmi), the paramilitary wing of the Baath, which had joined in
the street battles that eventually led to Qassem’s defeat. The national guardsmen
wore green armbands and carried submachine guns and, armed with
lists of communist sympathizers, some of which had been provided by the
CIA, they spent the first few weeks of the Baath Party’s new government
indulging in what can only be described as an orgy of violence.
Despite the assurances that the Baathists had given to the CIA that all
those detained would be given a fair trial, many of those held by the National
Guard were tortured and then summarily executed. Sports clubs, movie theaters,
an entire section of Kifah Street, and a number of private houses were
requisitioned by the National Guard to be used as prisons and interrogation
centers. The liquidation of the communists in Baghdad was in many respects
a forerunner of the anti-Leftist purges that were to occur in Chile and
Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s.

I could go on to detail the impact of Qasim's reforms, his negotiations with the Kurdish minority or his attempts to promote women in the Iraqi society, and evaluate the level of repression during his republic etc, but what's the point? that obviously isn't why his picture is added to this collage. If the authors were familiar with his actual politics and reforms they'd also know about the bloody role the Ba'ath party played in his downfall and would realise the problems either with including him in a list with several Ba'athists and his rival Nasser, or with the inclusion of the Ba'athists at all.

Saleh al-Bitar,

Huh? Salah al-Din al-Bitar was a founding member of the Syrian Ba'athist party, but he spent the remainder of his political career and life in exile. When Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970 al-Bitar had a very brief return to Syria, but he quickly fell out with al-Assad and went back into exile, founding a journal called al-Ihiyyaa al-Arabi which was critical of the al-Assad administration. 

In 1980 he was assassinated in Paris, the killer was never caught but given that his death occurred at a time when his opposition network was growing and the Syrian government was openly threatening opponents.

Observers took seriously, however, the suggestion that the hard-pressed regime of Syrian President Hafez Assad, despite its ambassador's denials here, was behind the slaying of Bitar, a man who had come to be the leading symbol of democratic opposition to an increasingly repressive government.
Bitar, 68, was by far the best-known leader of a group of exiled opposition forces that had begun about six months ago to overcome their differences and to organize themselves here into a broad multireligious National Front against the Assad government, which is based on the small Alawaite Moslem sect. The assassination of Bitar, said a qualified Western diplomatic observer, is "a sign of the desperation of the regime."
The government-directed press in Damascus has recently stepped up its threats against opponents of Assad.
Two weeks ago Syrian radio said that "Syria is capable of firmly striking at all the hands attempting to harm it" and added that the Syrian people "believe it is high time to launch a comprehensive attack" on opponents of the government. A few days later the official Al Baath newspaper warned, "The hand that is directed against Syria will be cut off be it directed from abroad or internally."

Hafez al-Assad is next but one down on this list...

Michel Aflaq,

Speaking of Hafez al-Assad, Michel Aflaq was a founding member of the Ba'ath party and for a time a leader of the party in Syria. Until 1966 when an internal party coup lead by Salah Jadid and Hafez al-Assad drove him into exile. Unlike Bitar who would drop out of Ba'athism entirely, the exiled Aflaq moved to Iraq where he was successful in obtaining the post of General Secretary of the party. His election would contribute to increased tensions and strains between the Syrian and Iraqi parties which would see relations largely breakdown.

To give an idea of the extent of the falling out among the Ba'athists, Hafez al-Assad would sentence Aflaq to death in absentia in 1971.


He remained a marginal figure despite the party position which he held until his death in 1989. However he did befriend Saddam Hussein another prominent and famous Ba'athist leader. So given his friends and his history in sectarian infighting and his role in the birth of Ba'athism, a political project more than willing to get its hands dirty I think he could qualify as Tankie in a generic worshipping of authoritarian leaders sense. But again his presence just shows how absurd these attempts at Agitprop are.

Theses lists and collages are supposed to impress us with how many powerful and popular people are "on our side". But in order to maximise the impression they often include people who don't reflect their political lines at all, and in many cases were bitter opponents of each other. It instead advertisers either their ignorance or their dishonesty.

Hafez al-Assad

The Ba'athist leaderships fratricidal history and some of Hafez al-Assad's contributions to this bloody history of coups, counter coups, imprisonments, exiles, assassinations and suspiciously convenient fatal accidents elsewhere so I don't think its worth going over again here.

Instead I thought it be more productive and enlightening to cover Hafez al-Assad's relationship to Palestinian liberation. The Palestinian liberation movement has a very fractious relationship with the Arab states, in many the Palestinians are left in refugee camps and treated as second class citizens, others like Jordan and Kuwait have attacked and driven out much of the Palestinian communities within their borders.

The Ba'athist regime in Syria is no exception. Hafez al-Assad in addition to fighting against rival Ba'athists clamped down heavily on Palestinians in Syria, going so far as to have Yasser Arafat and other leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) arrested and sentenced to death in the 60s

"They are determined to find Arafat guilty of ordering Urabi's murder and they are making it a criminal offence so they can hang him. If you want to save Arafat you must mobilize all of your friends everywhere."

Fortunately for Arafat Hafez al-Assad was only the defence minister at the time and the pressure mounted by the PLO got the other members of the Syrian leadership to release them. But that was not the end of Hafez's attempts to dominate and control the PLO and destroy its independent leadership.

The Syrian regime sponsored a Ba'athist split within the PLO called the As-Sa'iqa which was purged by Hafez al-Assad shortly after becoming president in 1970 and staffed with Assad loyalists. The military wing of the group would actively fight against the PLO as part of the Syrian army offensive in Lebanon.

In 1976 the Syrian army with the approval of Israel and the United States, but not the Soviet Union entered Lebanon and attacked the left wing coalition that included the PLO.

It was thus intimated to Syria that neither the USA nor Israel would oppose Syrian intervention. Thus reassured, on 1 June 1976 Syria sent a detachment of its own army reinforced by 250 tanks and troops from a As-Saiqa (thunderbolt), into Lebanon at the invitation of the Maronite Christian leadership

The invasion and occupation of Lebanon by the Syrian army would eventually see the army in conflict with nearly every faction within Lebanon but the clear early target of the intervention was the broadly leftist National Movement and the PLO in particular.

On May 31, Assad launched his first offensive against the National Movement. 2,000 men and 60 tanks split into three columns.  One column moved south through the Bekaa Valley then across the Shuf towards Sidon, where it was halted by PLO forces. Another column moved west along the Beirut /Damascus highway stopping outside Beirut.  The last column moved north through the Bekaa Valley then west to join Syrian forces around Tripoli.56  The first offensive met with tactical failure on all fronts.  Leftist forces in Mount Lebanon area and Tripoli inflicted heavy casualties on the Syrian forces. The PLO stronghold of Sidon was attacked with the same results.  To complicate the problem, the Christian forces used the opportunity to lay siege to the Palestinian refugee camp of Tel al-Za’tar, which lay between Mount Lebanon and East Beirut


That siege would end several months later in the horrific massacre of over 3,000 Palestinian civilians including children.

But still this isn't the end of it, in the 1980s Hafez al-Assad formerly expelled Arafat from the country in 1983 and continued to arrest and detain many Palestinian activists.

Of course regular Syrians didn't far much better as the infamous massacre in Hama in 1982 showed.

In February 1982, the Muslim Brotherhood began an uprising against the reactionary, draconian regime. Assad’s strategy to quell it—just like that of his son—was to drown it in blood.

During the slaughter, children recall walking over dead bodies in the streets on the way to school.

After killing thousands and crushing the uprising, Hafez al-Assad preceded to engage in a massive clampdown on all forms of opposition. He vehemently crushed not just the Ikhan, but also the leftists who opposed both his quasi-fascist rule and the Muslim Brotherhood. (Assad, an anti-communist Ba’athist, had purged his regime of communists in the 1960s, yet some leftists had still managed to survive). Thousands of communists and Arab nationalists were subsequently arrested, forced into exile, disappeared, and executed


evo morales,

Zialfikar ali Bhutto, - Bhutto in his own words was a democratic socialist, he came to power through elections and was considered to be part of the golden age of free expression in Pakistan. His terms in office also coincides with Pakistani counter culture movement and the rise of the Hippies. Don't really see where he fits into this. The only thing I can think of is the counter insurgency campaign against rebels in Baluchistan.

He did in later years move towards economic moderation and Islamic social conservatism in an attempt to gain support from the conservative Pakistani middle class, but it wasn't enough, he was overthrown in a coup.

Fearing a toppling and, more so, a military coup by the Army, Bhutto decided to hold talks with PNA leaders and if need be, hold fresh elections.
For this, he also agreed to close down nightclubs and bars and outlaw gambling at horse racing, and make Friday a weekly holiday instead of Sunday.
But just as a compromise between Bhutto and the PNA was in sight, Bhutto’s own hand-picked General, Ziaul Haq, toppled the regime in a military coup and imposed Martial Law on 5th July, 1977.

So I'm not really seeing either label sticking unless you count his desperation in 1977.

Hassan Nasrallah,

We reject both the USSR and the US, both Capitalism and Communism, for both are incapable of laying the foundations for a just society.

Yes, the leader of Hezbollah a Shia fundamentalist militia and political movement is in a list of tankie's rubbing shoulders with Stalin (who supported the establishment of Israel), Mao and Che Guevara. Pretty strange company, I mean online you will find allegations that say Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea support Hezbollah at least. But usually the allegations come from pro Israel sources with nothing approaching proof, and for what its worth Venezuela and North Korea have publicly denied any support for the group.

"This is utterly baseless sophism and sheer fiction let loose by the US to isolate [North Korea] internationally," North Korea's foreign ministry declared on Tuesday. "Lurking behind this propaganda is a sinister intention of the US to justify its criminal acts of backing Israel."

The United States itself was a paradise for drug dealers and gangs who got rich in the face of the ineptness and indifference of authorities, the Venezuelan government said.
Its foreign ministry also rejected allegations by a senior Israeli diplomat that Venezuela harbored cells of Hezbollah guerrillas.
Dorit Shavit, head of Latin America and Caribbean affairs at the Israeli foreign ministry, told Colombian newspaper El Tiempo that the presence of Hezbollah had increased in recent years in Venezuela’s northwestern Guajira region and on the Caribbean island of Margarita.
Venezuela’s foreign ministry called the statement absurd. 

These governments could be lying of course, but there's not really much of a smoking gun besides that North Korea sells weapons to Iran who does occasionally give some military aid to Hezbollah. Anyway aside from the absurdity of placing Hezbollah as a sort of continuity with say Angela Davis or Engels I get why Nasrallah is here.

Nasrallah has nothing to do with Communism, but he is the head of a very successful resistance group that has fought against Israel and the United States. And just glancing at the collage it quickly becomes clear that there were multiple conflicting checklists for acceptance being used. Many perhaps most have no connection at all the Communism, and some can at best be said that they at one time or another formed an alliance of convenience with a group or state proclaiming some kind of Marxism.

So what we have here is a small group of online leftists parasitically claiming struggles that have nothing to do with them, in order to make their ideology seem more impressive. And its not exactly unprecedented, the British Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party (SWP) also infamously tried to parasitically leach off the conflict in Lebanon with its `We are all Hezbollah Now!` placards.

That Hezbollah explicitly rejects Communism, that it was founded during the Islamic revolutionary wave which included the rise in Islamist opposition to Middle Eastern Communists and support for the anti USSR resistance in Afghanistan doesn't really matter to this lot.

yasser arafat,

malcolm x,

Jawaharlal Nehru- This was another strange inclusion, Nehru was the first Prime Minister of an independent India and leader of the Indian National Congress. Under his leadership India developed a mixed economy and maintained good relations and economic ties with both sides in the Cold War. If he must be put into an explicitly leftist label he would be a type of social democrat, definitely not a Marxist-Leninist.

As part of the independence struggle he played a role in weakening the British Empire, but he took great pains to stimulate a multi party electoral system. So in a sense he was anti western because he took part in an anti colonial struggle against a western nation, but he also made sure the independent India would be modelled on western national lines.

He was also Prime Minister when India and China went to war in 1962 after the Chinese launched an offensive along their shared border, which was when Mao was in power. During the conflict Nehru requesting military aide from the United States, specifically requesting US jet aircraft and American pilots to train the Indian air force. Kennedy turned him down because he was busy dealing with the Cuban missile crisis, but the US did send some support.

When the Indian situation became particularly desperate, US Air Force squadrons in the Philippines were alerted; through its contacts in Warsaw, the US conveyed its resolve to the Chinese to come to India's assistance.

C-130 Hercules aircraft carried out drops of arms and ammunition supplies as well as essential clothing to Indian soldiers on the battlefront.

Indian national morale had hit rock bottom on November 18, 1962 when news of further reverses reached New Delhi. The Indians felt isolated, vulnerable and betrayed, when even the 'friends' of India took ambivalent positions.

On October 25, 1962, when war with the United States was potentially imminent, the Soviet newspaper Pravda published a front-page article that put the entire blame for the 1962 war with China on India.

The article called the McMahon line, which New Delhi accepted, 'notorious', 'the result of British imperialism', and legally invalid.

Pravda also accused India of being incited by imperialists and being the main ringleaders of the conflict. The Soviet Union's hostile attitude contrasted with President Kennedy's generous help to India in its hour of need. This made a deep impression on the Indians.

So we have another problem here, if Mao or Nehru can be considered a Tankie or anti western, than either the other can't as they were directly in conflict with each other, but if both do count on either scale then the terms are really meaningless.



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