A little later than usual but here’s the link to the five new pieces of radical-Leftist propaganda has been posted. See you on Sunday!
Radical Leftism to Fan the Flames of Action
A little later than usual but here’s the link to the five new pieces of radical-Leftist propaganda has been posted. See you on Sunday!
Check out the STL Propaganda gallery! 5 new images! Use them as you see fit, Comrades!
Since I don’t have a real post for this Sunday (there is a post below from today), check out some of this “best of…” riot porn from over at Riot-Porn-Aesthetics over on Tumblr. I’ll be posting more occasionally. ACAB!!!
Due to personal reasons I have to miss posting anything substantial this week. But I would like to make a few observations before you go:
The most respected modern far-leftist intellectual is Noam Chomsky. Chomsky is Institute Professor (emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in the Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. He is also a historian, a social critic, and an activist, amongst many other important things. Chomsky completely rearranged my world view with a collection of his transcripts compiled from several of his talks entitled Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky . And I once felt that I could rely on him for infallible guidance as a radical leftist thinker. But I just recently found an interview Chomsky did with Canada’s National Observer published June 15th, 2020 that features a zoom call interview where he is described as proclaiming,
Voting for U.S. President Donald Trump is worse than voting for Hitler, Chomsky affirmed to interviewer Linda Solomon Wood, during a Canada’s National Observer-sponsored webinar in April. “Hitler was maybe the worst criminal in human history.” He wanted to murder millions of Jews, Slavs, Roma, homosexuals, others. “But what does Trump want to do? He wants to destroy the prospects for organized human life.”
Chomsky then explains that Trump is doing this horrible thing by destroying the environment with his policies, and that is what makes him worse than Hitler. (Check from minutes 9:32 to 14:00)
How can anyone possibly think that anyone in our modern age, much less former Pres. Donald J. Trump, rivalled Hitler’s criminality? That is the most insane argument I have ever heard. Yes, Trump will probably go down in history as the worst president the U.S. has ever had. And, yes, he tried to overturn Obamacare, gave huge tax cuts to corporations, and ripped kids from their parent’s arms and put them in cages. But Hitler? The Holocaust? The 25 million dead Russians? The destruction of Europe???
Chomsky then goes on to try and support his absurd claim by laying out an historical anecdote where he describes a document by the Nazi regime that was found. It read that even the Germans knew they had to stop the emission of greenhouse gases to protect the planet from overheating. And that is shocking. But worse than Hitler???
Sorry, Noam, Trump and the GOP do not want to intentionally destroy the entire system of organized life. They just have their heads completely in the sand about the global climate crisis due to business interests. The GOP takes three tracks in their thinking on the enviroment, either, A. climate change is not real, or, B. it is not a result of manmade greenhouse gas emissions, or, C. technology will provide us with a solution to the problem once the situation gets what they consider as out of hand. This is simple ignorance and a complete disregard for people’s lives in the interest of wealthy donors. And I am not absolving them from blame for future catastrophes. But it is not the killing of millions in an attempt to lord over the entirety of Europe!
Let it be said that even as enthusiastic radical leftists we cannot fall into the same trap Chomsky has. Sometimes we need to tone down the rhetoric, if you can believe I am saying that. Lenin and the other Bolsheviks were as radical as they come, yet they maintained reality. If not, they never would have kept the Revolution alive. And Marxism is a theoretical framework we believe in, and over-exaggerating does nothing to further the mechanics of it. Nor does it help the movement. Do you think most proletarians would think Chomsky is a complete kook if they heard the above claim? I am sure they would.
Just added five more images over at the STL Image gallery. Use them well!
I was unable to put anything together for this week’s post due to time constraints, but I did put up five new images in the STL gallery. I do have four quick points on the week’s news below, though. Be back with a full post next week:
Thanks for visiting!
A year or so ago I read an article that I cannot seem to track down now but it was written by a New York reporter who was originally from one of the Plain States; Iowa, Kansas, maybe Nebraska. And the story revolved around what he realized when visiting his hometown on one occasion. He observed that the Right-wing, God-fearing, “wholesome” people of his home state had something in common that the Left did not: They all believed that people are born inherently bad. But, on the other side, we know the Left believes every human is born good. To illustrate, have ever you noticed how we on the Left try to diagnose people psychologically, or diagnose a culture sociologically, when they go wrong, e.g., when we try to take apart the pasts of young school shooters? What did their parents do to them? What did their classmates do to them? What went wrong? Well, the Right does not think that way. They do not think about it because people are inherently bad and that’s why they do bad things. That’s why religion is so important to conservatives. If we further the above example, these school shooters were born bad, like everyone else, and something like a religious upbringing would have kept them on a better path. Observing a faith’s tenets keeps you in line. This is where the Right gets their criticism of what they call “moral relativism,” i.e., the concept that there is no objective right or wrong but just a myriad of social and philosophical variables. It is also such as social scientists, in their studies, portray so-called sacred things: Marriage? social construct. The Law? social construct. General ideas of right and wrong? Social constructs. But this issue of right and wrong is not as complicated as we leftists make it out to be. Sure, there is no God, and there are no objective morals or cultural practices which are inherently “good” out there But as true leftists we do agree that we know how society should work. We do not need to be conflicted about 1 in 8 kids combatting hunger here in my home state of Kentucky. We do not need some “Good Book” to tell us that it is unfair for some to have so much while others have so little. We know how a better society could, and should, be constructed.
My point is that we leftists are milling around questions of right or wrong too much. The invasion of the Capitol Building a few days ago by Trump-ist fascists was an act performed by those who are WRONG. Their so-called “values” of exclusion and oppression, their existence as bootlickers for the 1%, their exclusive religious morals, are WRONG. Not because of some objective truth out there in the universe but because we agree that they are wrong. Our leftist values are simply better. And, therefore, we cannot idly stand by as the fascists invade the Capitol building. We need to make sure that this never happens again. WE ARE THE PEOPLE, not those right-wing extremists who climbed through those shattered windows and up those concrete walls. There IS a right and wrong because we know what is for the best, and those jackasses who mugged for those selfies inside the Rotunda do not.
I’ve read Stalin make this argument before in some interview with a prominent Western journalist. Stalin, although not the most morally inclined person in history, insisted that there are “wicked” people in the world. And, of course, the Western journalist made excuses for these “wicked” people. He gave this excuse or that excuse, or this philosophical thought or that philosophical thought. But Stalin was right. There are wicked people in this world. The men and women who stormed the Capitol building the other day are wicked in their beliefs and I’m tired of the excuses the Left give them. A line must be drawn: The Right or the Left. That symbol of power in D.C. belongs to the socialists, communists, anarchists, the People. We cannot allow Right-wing radicals that power ever again. We must stop them as a movement for they are simply wicked.
I believe that one of the most important political/cultural/social movements of the last ten years was the Arab Spring. Therefore, I thought it deserved the initial post here at the relaunch of STL. But as I tried to put something together as a coherent argument on something about it, I realized that I am at a loss. The way in which it did not substantially work for the better leaves me lost even after ten years. I have no sure feelings, beliefs, or convictions on the period, or what is now called the “Arab Winter.” I can say I was so hopeful at the time that it almost lent itself to elation, but now I feel nothing but such dense disappointment; almost hopelessness. I have read books, articles, and saw many documentaries and news pieces on this most important set of events, yet I cannot put my finger on any argument to be made. Maybe it’s because I am a Westerner; a Roman Catholic. Maybe it’s because I was not there on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, or the destroyed streets of Aleppo, or at the Libyan storm drain where Qaddafi was found and killed. Maybe it is because I do not want to believe something negative. I don’t know. But below is a strategy, something I hope that can salvage the movement using the stories of the those times. Maybe something to look to inspire the future.
Simply put, What happened between the end of 2010 and the end of 2020? My thoughts are scattered below:
Up until December 2010, the North African country of Tunisia was as typical of an Arab state as it gets: a history of empire and colonialism; a hopeful independence; a state-centered, socialist economy; a slide into dictatorship implemented through secret police (Feldman, 2020). This small, coastal nation on the Mediterranean Sea did not seem out of the ordinary in any way compared to its’ neighbors..
Then on December 17, 2010, a young Tunisian named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself afire to protest against police harassment. He died on January 4, 2011, but not before his gesture went viral, sparking protests against the country’s authoritarian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the people’s poor economic situation. Ben Ali’s 23-year-rule ended 10 days later when he fled to Saudi Arabia, becoming the first leader of an Arab nation to be pushed out by popular protests. What happened next across the Arab world, what we now refer to the as the “Arab Spring,” followed something like this:
On January 25, 2011, thousands of Egyptians marched in Cairo, Alexandria, and other cities, demanding the departure of President Hosni Mubarak, who had been in power for 30 years. Then on February 11, as more than a million took to the streets, Mubarak resigned and handed control to the military.
The Muslim Brotherhood-linked government of Mohammed Morsi was then elected in 2012, but was overthrown the following year by the military led by the general, now president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
On February 15, in Bahrain, protesters took over the Pearl Square roundabout in the capital which they renamed “Tahrir Square”, and demanded a constitutional monarchy among other reforms. But their camp was stormed by riot police three days later, killing three people and injuring many.
The same day the Bahrain protests started, the Libyan police used force to break up a sit-in against the government in the second city, Benghazi. The country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi pledged to hunt down the “rats” opposing him. The uprising turned into a civil war with French, British and American air forces intervening against Gaddafi. On October 20, 2011, Gaddafi was captured and killed in his home region of Sirte by rebels who found him hiding in a storm drain. The country is now split between rival eastern and western-based administrations.
On March 6, a dozen teenagers tagged the wall of their school in southern Syria with “Your turn, doctor”, referring to President Bashar al-Assad, a trained ophthalmologist. The torture of the youths sparked mainly peaceful protests at first, and calls for democratic reform. But with violent repression by the government, the revolt turned into civil war. Syria’s war also contributed to the rise of the ISIL (ISIS) group and renewed conflict in neighboring Iraq, culminating in a genocidal attack on minorities in the north of the country.
On October 23, 2011, Tunisians streamed to the polls for their first free election, in which members of the Ennahdha movement triumph.
On February 27, 2012, Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled for 33 years, handed power to his deputy Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, after a year of protests. The Arab world’s poorest country, Yemen also descended into violence following initial protests.
Russia, who with Iran is al-Assad’s biggest ally, started air attacks against Syrian rebels on September 30, 2015, changing the course of the war. After 10 years of fighting, which left 380,000 dead, al-Assad was able to claim significant victories.
Ten years after Tunisia, It all seems for nothing when put together like that, does it not? All those aspirations for a more liberal-democratic pan-Arab region. A Guardian-YouGov poll published on December 17 even finds that a majority of populations of nine countries across the Arab world feel they are living in significantly more unequal society today than before the Arab Spring. And read here about Bouazizi’s legacy in his own country.
But maybe not all is lost. Let’s look at some social movement theory from Han and Wuk Ahn (2020) that may pick up the Arab Spring up from the canvas someday:
“Studies of social movements have benefited from the examination of narratives. Social movements are defined as networks of informal interactions between a plurality of individual, groups, and/or organizations engaged in political or cultural conflicts, on the basis of shared collective identities. Activists use stories to make sense of the reality surrounding them, motivate collective action by forging collective policymaking. Narratives unite participants in social movements and are utilized as tools. To be effective…social movements should not just mobilize financial and human resources, utilize political opportunities, and present solid transition plans but should also adopt effective frames. Narratives provide actors with tools to turn themselves into heroes with a powerfully mobilizing identity when they lack established organizations or coherent ideologies . Narratives translate feelings of shame and individual responsibility into feelings of empowerment, efficacy, and entitlement.”
So maybe the people of the Mid-East will someday be able to launch a new uprising, one taken from the stories of the those contentious politics that have occurred over the last decade. At this point, I admit I really do not know. I feel as if I’m just clinching at straws to pull something positive out of it all, something positive in this Arab Winter.
What do you think? Leave comments below.
Here is a good video piece from Al-Jazeera I find particularly moving that centers on the professional and amateur reporters who documented the movement. Maybe those reports and films will serve to inspire those of the next Arab Spring, if it ever occurs.
In previous posts I have advocated for some rather radical societal changes: smashing capitalism, fighting off cultural hegemony, etc. But let me explain how the essence of a new, better society also needs some restraint.
First, I have advocated for a vanguard party to lead us at first, or a small group of revolutionaries who will rule in the interests of the working class, what’s called the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” as Lenin proposed. But we must learn from history that we must put some legal/constitutional regulations on this group of leaders. What can happen is, like what happened with Stalin in the old USSR, a single leader may wrestle from the people far too much power and enact a totalitarian government serving only their interests. We must hold their feet to the fire as the people.
Second, we must not make any change too fast for the people will rebel against the new society, as happened during the French Revolution. We must not have economic “Five Year Plans,” or “Great Leaps Forward,” or how Khmer Rouge emptied the cities of Cambodia and shipped all the citizens to the countryside to work in collective farms. That would be insane. We can’t make such mistakes as these as far leftists have done in the past. Revolutionaries have not always known how to run a country. We must read the people and act accordingly maybe even welcoming a period of Thermidor.
What will be enacted right away, though, in the interest of a new, better, revolutionary society is enacting far leftist social changes. We must remove all wage discrimination between women and men. We must remove all hindrances for LGBTQ citizens from gaining equal rights. We must address the issue of reparations for both the Native American and African American communities. These must be addressed immediately. Capitalist WASP’s want to divide us through these differences. If we can make these changes we will realize that the only thing that separates us is class. Than all will become apparent.