This is a two-headed response concerning criticisms raised on third worldism. I’ll be responding to both Jake and Tanner, who are, to me, good friends. So without further ado:
One point raised by Jake (@Smashing.Nirvana on insta) was;
While we must analyze our conditions to effectively build a revolutionary movement, we need not analyze our conditions to prove revolution is possible in the imperialist centers. The wave of revolutions across Europe, after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia (which was an imperialist country, more on that later), attests to this. The Maoist-Third Worldist position argues the cause of the failure of socialist revolutions in Europe was these revolutions’ imperialist setting; it does not analyze exactly what was the cause of these failures (which was the military strategy of insurrection).
This point arises only because of our lack of specification. Revolution is not always impossible in imperialist centers. Further, is it not the fact that a specific nation is imperialist that therefore renders its own internal socialist revolution impossible, it is the welfare state, that most imperialist nations have, that renders internal revolution impossible. Therefore, revolution was possible in the imperialist Russian Empire because they had little to no welfare state, and history has shown that because the peoples oppressed by the Russian Empire did revolt and successfully overthrow the state.
The service workers of first world nations do not revolt because there is no material incentive to. Yes, oppression does still happen in first world nations, but you can’t build a successful socialist class-based revolution on the issue of, say, oppression of blacks, gays, or other minorities. As much as we would want that to be possible, it can’t. The vast majority of workers, some with false consciousness and reactionary beliefs due to their conditions, just will not care about the oppression of blacks or other minorities, and therefore won’t join a revolution with that basis.
Even on economic issues, specifically wages and pay, workers don’t have to join the revolutionary communist party to increase their wage because many liberals and democrats already support such reforms. They can just vote for their wages to be raised by some politician, and this is a point that third worldists make: Revolution is impossible in the first world given its welfare state conditions. Instead of joining a revolutionary communist party and risking their lives to increase their pay, they can simply vote for someone with a D next to their name. This also serves the interests of the bourgeois, seeing as how the welfare state nullifies any revolutionary potential in first world nations. Even Mao Zedong acknowledges this in his ‘Critique of Soviet Economics’:
In the various nations of the West there is a great obstacle to carrying through any revolution and construction of a movement; i.e., the poisons of the bourgeoisie are so powerful that they have penetrated each and every corner. While our bourgeoisie has had, after all, only three generations, those of England and France have had a 250-300 year history of development, and their ideology and modus operandi have influenced all aspects and strata of their societies. Thus the English working class follows the Labour Party, not the Communist Party.
The bourgeoisification of an entire nation happens because, in order to nullify revolutionary conditions, therefore securing the existence of the bourgeoisie, the service workers of the first world are paid with a small chunk of the surplus value brought over to the first world as imperialist super-profits. This also brings in enough wealth to finance a welfare state, which saves millions of people from extreme poverty and any chance of class consciousness. And this section of the “working class” therefore syncs its consciousness with that of the imperialist bourgeois, as they are in fact, both standing upon the surplus value of third world workers to sustain their livelihoods. Engels even writes of this bourgeoisification in an 1858 letter to Marx:
The English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that the ultimate aim of this most bourgeois of all nations would appear to be the possession, alongside the bourgeoisie, of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat. In the case of a nation which exploits the entire world this is, of course, justified to some extent.
Jake goes on and writes:
This statement begins on the false pretense that Russia wasn’t imperialist. Russia was, in fact, imperialist, as admitted by Lenin constantly in his works on imperialism. This introductory piece, intended to show the reader that revolution in the imperialist centers is impossible, does exactly the opposite! It shows the reader that revolution did happen in the imperialist centers, but not only a revolution, a world-historic revolution
Again, I’ve already responded to the imperialist part of the claim. But these revolutions in Europe (which were not successful) and in the Russian Empire (which was successful) that he’s referring to all happened before capitalism made its massive shift in attitude post-great depression. Feeling threatened by the new crop of workers’ movements in the turmoil of the great depression, there followed a massive shift in attitude from the bourgeois. They began to widely reject laissez-faire policies—as these have, as all empirical and historical evidence has shown, led to disaster, which was followed by workers movements threatening the existence of capitalism—and a shifted towards more regulated and welfare-state-supporting mindset to further secure their own existence and avoid mass workers’ movements in the future.
In our previous essay we wrote “The average First World person looks out for his or her fellow First World friend and their interests, but has no regard for the Third World laborers whose back they sit on to build their privilege.” to which jake responds with:
I’m curious as to where Logan gets this image. Any revolutionary organization in the USA has shown that internationalism can be built here. The Black Panthers uniting with the Brown Berets and dispensing Chinese communist literature, the Red Guards supporting Kurdish and Palestinian resistance, Redneck Revolt organizing protests against Trump and White nationalism, the environmentalists and anti-capitalists supporting the Standing Rock Sioux tribe against the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, the anti-war movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s against US imperialism in Vietnam, and so on. More examples could be given, but this Third Worldist stance means nothing.
Again, this falls on our failure to specify. When I typed that, I was referring to the average person. Not the advanced vanguards. The average first world person does not care. The Black Panthers? Most people at the time thought MLK was too radical, so The Black Panthers obviously wasn’t perceived well. Some people today even still hold that “The Black Panthers were just the black KKK!” the various Red Guard groups across the nation? Most people consider them terrorist organizations. The anti-war movement? Those people that protested war weren’t protesting out of concern for the third world people, they were mad that they were being drafted to more than likely die against the will. If the average first world person (Not the vanguard!) was truly concerned for the third world, then where are the mass protests against Obama’s drone strikes or the our occupation in Afghanistan?
Jake continues in a later portion of his essay:
“Aaron raises an objection”… “that upholding Maoism-Third Worldism as a revolutionary in the semicolonial countries is redundant. But this is only the case”… “if one reduces Maoism-Third Worldism to a guide of action for the revolutionaries of the imperialist centers (which, itself, is reduced to ‘resist imperialism, don’t attempt to build up revolution’).”
I never said that we shouldn’t attempt to build up revolution. My claim is that, even if we tried, under these modern conditions, it would fail. But that does not mean we cannot fight other forms of oppression. Like say, police brutality against blacks, and so on.
Maoist-Third Worldists see revolution in the imperialist centers as an impossibility, unlike Maoists in general and unlike Maoists in the imperialist centers who definitely are building up revolution.
I’m sorry to inform Jake, but no, their attempt at “building up revolution” will fail. Just like the BPP, RCP, and even communist parties that attempted revolution in the great depression. If they couldn’t have a successful revolution in the great depression what makes you think they can do it now! Even if they (the modern first worldist MLM groups) were a serious threat to the state now or in the future, the capitalist welfare state will do what it always has done in those types of situations and just give concessions! This has always happened in the first world. And it always will happen until there’s no more third world for them to exploit! I.e after the third world becomes socialist in a global people’s war. Thus leaving the first world parasites without a source to suck the life out of.
I think most of my responses to jake also apply also overlap to Tanner, but Tanner also makes several unique claims, as he comes from a Hoxhaist stance, as opposed to Jakes’s MLM stance.
Tanner quotes Lenin, saying:
“The social revolution cannot be the United action of the proletarians of all countries for the simple reason that most of the countries and majority of the worlds population have not even reached, or have only just reached, the capitalist stage of development” While going on to state “Only the advanced countries of Western Europe and North America [China and Russia now given their advanced capitalist stage…T.S] have matured for socialism…Socialism will be achieved by the United action of the proletarians, not of all, but of a minority of countries, those that have reached the advanced capitalist stage of development.”
Does Tanner forget that Lenin wrote this over 100 years ago? When capitalism was at a much lower stage of development than it is today. An issue with Hoxhaists in general is that their sense of time is abysmal. What Marx, Lenin, or Stalin said 70-200 years ago may not apply to today. Marxism is not a cult, like many Hoxhaists make it seem, it’s the science of revolution wherein we must use Marx’s method of analysis to analyze our (Keyword) conditions today (another keyword). Things are in constant motion and change, so again, what someone has said decades ago may not apply today, as many Hoxhaists refuse to accept. On this dogmatism, Mao says: “The principle of using different methods to resolve different contradictions is one which Marxist-Leninists must strictly observe. The dogmatists do not observe this principle; they do not understand that conditions differ in different kinds of revolution and so do not understand that different methods should be used to solve different contradictions.”
And it seems as if Lenin disproved his own words in what Tanner is quoting. Seeing as how the Russian Empire was semi-feudal and not a developed capitalist nation, yet it still managed to have a revolution. Why? Because they were extremely exploited and their conditions were horrendous. Even on a global scale.
Tanner goes on later saying:
Now, I’m sure Aaron will respond that 3rd world countries are more exploited and therefore are more revolutionary or something of that nature, but he would be right and wrong. I agree that underdeveloped countries are more exploited, it’s obvious, but as Lenin said:
“The underdeveloped countries are a different matter. In those areas, as a rule, there still exist oppressed and capitalistically undeveloped nations. Objectively, these nations still have general national tasks to accomplish, namely Democratic tasks, namely the overthrowing foreign oppression”
Again with the quoting of leaders speaking of issues specific to their time. Have you not checked a calendar? The year is 2017, not 1917. Many third world nations are no longer directly controlled by their old imperialist dominators. France no longer controls the majority of western Africa, Britain doesn’t control South Africa, and so on. During the 20th century, passed Lenin’s time, after WW2, many colonies experienced democratic revolutions and were given national autonomy for the most part. Although, they still experience many indirect forms of control such as neocolonialism.
Mao developed a method for overthrowing imperialists and then proceeding with internal national struggle to overthrow the national bourgeoisie and then build socialism, as he did successfully (No matter how much Hoxhaists scream that it wasn’t). But then again, that’s only revisionism because Stalin and Lenin didn’t come up with it. Nevermind the fact of its practicality, it’s just a bunch of revisionist hogwash because it’s new and different.
Advanced or developed countries have to be the head of this global revolution, just as the proletariat must lead the peasants in national revolution. It’s wrong to hold that undeveloped nations or even semi-developed nations can front world revolution and be the centre. Now, America itself is a bit backwards in that with extreme liberalism and had events like McCarthyism and political reaction in its most volatile form but don’t be so condescending to it “In no way should we proceed from the idea that the conditions are not yet ripe for revolution, or that revolution cannot break out in the developed capitalist countries..” -Enver Hoxha
I’ve responded to this in the Jake section, but i’ll say it again. Revolution cannot happen in the first world. We’ve reached the point to where socialist revolution in the United States in virtually impossible. For revolutionary spirit to grip the masses, class consciousness is vital and they have to feel first-hand the worst of conditions that the capitalist system perpetuates (These conditions now being largely exported to third world nations). A large segment of the people need to be in extreme poverty, which our welfare system prevents. There has to be noticeable food shortages or lack of funds from people to purchase food they need to live, food stamps prevent that. People need to be educated and informed about their current conditions and how to fix those conditions, which our school system prevents because it completely destroys the independent thought needed within the majority of the students and deliberately lies about other systems and even edits history to make it seem as if “Capitalism is the only way! Communism and socialism are evil! It’s when the government owns everything and you have no freedom!”. And our media also stifles this intellectual development because so many people trust the media. Neocons are running around saying Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization, so can you just imagine the negative press that would arise in the event of an armed guerilla force seizing government buildings and fighting the cops and military. They’d be labeled the most negative of things, and the mass of the American “working class”, sharing their consciousness largely with that of the bourgeoisie, would eat it up and reject their own liberation.
Tanner’s final spiel goes as follows:
The biggest issue In America as well as other developed nations is one of a lack of a Marxist-Leninist party that serves at the helm of the masses but the point still stands that the advanced countries need to be at the helm as opposed to undeveloped or underdeveloped countries. Now, the issue with the these countries lies in its political, ideological and thus, as a result, economic backwardness as well as the issues I mentioned earlier. Now, my final critique is the use of the “worlds” aesthetic 3rd worldists use. Rather than using “Worlds” as there is only 2, being Capitalism and Socialism, let’s say that there are 3 types of countries in the question of self-determination as they are all under capitalism just at different stages with different approaches to their respective national questions.
First type: Advanced countries where the national movement is a thing of the past.
Second type: Developing countries where it’s a thing of the present
Third type: undeveloped or underdeveloped countries where it’s largely a thing of the future.
In conclusion, I want to say I respect Aaron highly and am using this as a criticism to point out errors. I agree that underdeveloped countries are in need of liberation from oppressors, but as I’ve shown and have Lenin and Hoxha to back up, they can’t head the revolution in a world capacity for the same reasons the peasants can’t head the proletariat in a national revolution. Also, given the use of Terrorism in all these underdeveloped or even developing countries (Coups, School of Assassins, etc) as well as ignoring the national, economic, ideological and political backwardness, that we have to understand that downplaying the rising exploitation and anger in the developed countries and using the idea of wealth negating the revolutionary potential and thus concluding that the “3rd world” can suddenly helm a world revolt is simply false.
No, it’s not a Marxist-Leninist that we’re missing. We have plenty of those. It’s the conditions we are missing as a result of our imperialist-funded welfare state. America has been through several large crashes and each every single attempt at revolution has been thwarted with concessions. So stop pretending that we’re going to someone magically build a revolution from thin are. It’s not happening and never will happen so long as the welfare state exists.
Tanner’s criticism of the existence of three worlds can be refuted by a quote from Logan in his most recent essay (Which by the time of the release of this essay, has not been finished)
To even begin discussion on third-worldism, we should likely begin by explaining the third-worldist definitions of the “first world” and the “third world” are. The terms “first” and “third” world are, perhaps, poor ones to choose, however, so for the purposes of this essay I will instead break the world into three categories: service nations, industrial nations, and agricultural nations (the last two known collectively as production nations). These different types of nations, naturally, don’t have clear points of divide, however, I do believe we have the needed information to effectively categorize most nations.
The first category to define is service nations. A service nation is one whose workers, instead of producing for their own needs or producing for the needs of others, instead focus on the service sector. The main conditions needed for a country to become a service nation are a strong, prosperous wealthy class and influence over poorer nations who produce goods for the service nation, thus freeing the working class of the service nation to work in more artisan, liberal arts jobs. The United States is a prime example of a service nation. The service sector makes up 79.5% of the United States’ economy, making their status as a service focused nation nearly undeniable.
The second and third classifications are different, but serve similar roles. Both industrial nations and agricultural nations exist in the global market to provide the service nations they need in order to continue functioning without needing their own workers to produce. For example, Ghana provides Cadbury with their cocoa beans, and agriculture as a whole accounts for 53.1% of Ghana’s economy. This places Ghana firmly in the agricultural nation camp.
Every single piece of historical and empirical evidence proves these following points.
- Revolution will not happen in nations with a strong imperialist-funded welfare state
- Revolution has always taken place in the most exploited nations and the more oppressed nations
- Every attempt at revolution in the First World thus far has ended with the ruling class providing concessions.
- The mass of first world people will not support a revolutionary group within their own country because of their bourgeoisification.
Both Tanner and Jake provided me and Logan with criticism which I highly appreciate. Not it should be said again, to drive the point home, that I do not believe in do-nothingism. There are still many forms of social oppression in the first world that we must tackle, but, for the most part, first world people, are not economically oppressed.
Tanner and Jake are two smart people with great views and I could consider both to be comrades. So go check out what they have to say, I’ll link both of their wordpress’s below. I hoped this piece was helpful. It also did not go through any editing and it was all written in a mid-night Dr. Pepper fueled rage so if you, the reader, notice any grammatical or syntax errors, please bring them to my attention. Thank you!