It is Right to Rebel: The Modern Bull of Minos
There are thousands of truths in Marxism,
in the final analysis they boil down to one single sentence:
"It is right to rebel."
As outrage once again boils to the surface in US society over the continued barbarism of State repression and murder—self-admitted ”acts that defy humanity”—hushed discussions in radical circles from coast to coast return once more to one of the most important questions of the present age for those living in the core of the dying Empire: which way to freedom? Has “that time” arrived? Is the latest spate of atrocities, the latest outburst of indignant rage, the spark that will finally set off the simmering powderkeg?
As the great Lenin once told us, without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. In order to begin grappling with the current situation, it is necessary to understand where exactly we are, and how exactly we arrived at the current moment; to identify current conditions, as well as, however broadly, the “outer limits” presented by those conditions. Only then will we be equipped with the proper understanding needed for this time of monsters.
As the oppressed and working masses, and our many opportunistic hangers-on from the idle classes, once again rise up in indignant fury, we must grasp what it is that has given rise to the present situation. The United States’ foundations as a racist and oppressive settler-colonial entity have become more widely understood than at any other point in the country’s history, as highlighted by the majority of even white Americans agreeing that the country experiences “widespread” racism. The United States, as a political entity, was founded on land stolen from the indigenous, using labor stolen from Africa, and financed with wealth stolen from Asia. While efforts to continue educating the public are—and must be—ongoing, no other time in the history of the country have so many people so clearly understood the foundational terror upon which the country has been built, and by which it continues to be maintained. So widespread is this understanding that it has given rise to a multitude of far-reaching, and increasingly overtly fascist, attempts to reinforce public ignorance and drive out such realities as “woke,” or part of a “communist plot.”
HOW WE GOT HERE
Less openly discussed, or widely understood, is the exact development by which the present moment was arrived at. It is correct that the United States was established on the foundations of indigenous genocide, slavery, and imperialism; “flattening” the understanding of America to just these historical foundations, however, opens the door for the present liberal and reformist campaign of whitewashing and abstracting those errors—to decry what the country was and in some ways may still be, but emphasizing that these things are not inherent to what it is as an entity; that although the foundation may rest on inhuman barbarity, the structure may be saved. Here we grasp the issue with clarity: the United States as a political entity is precisely manifest from these things—genocide, slavery, and imperialism—and is not merely stained with the memory of these horrors, but rather is the continuation and reinforced manifestation of them. To excise these “original sins” of barbarism and depravity means precisely to excise the thing itself. It is possible to see how the domestic crisis is mirrored in the historic and international crises: the United States is a parasite that, once removed, cannot survive. Therefore, like all parasites, it will seek to take its host with it.
What are the machinations of this menace? Through what method does the parasite seek to keep itself alive? What have their key developments been? By looking at these questions we may begin to understand the present conditions, as well as gain insight into how we might overcome them, and what the future may have in store. History is a mirror; if wielded properly, it may help to guide our path to the future.
The machinations of imperialism, state power, and anti-communism are intertwined in a vast mechanical arrangement—a labyrinthian machine one might sooner go mad than untangle. Some wander the labyrinth forever trying to get out; others are gored by the monsters stalking within. We will explore some of its halls together here: a glimpse at the web built on the aforementioned racist foundations of America, the anti-communism both before and after amplification through the Cold War, and neoliberalism—which led to countless US interventions and osperations disguised as positive forces, while in reality being anything but. We will not wander forever. The situation of the modern oppressed and working class trapped in the American labyrinth is quite different from Theseus' story, but there is light at the end.
As reported by INSIDER, on 12 January 2023, Swiss national Maia Arson Crimew, described as a “prolific hacker” by the Department of Justice, found the FBI’s famous No-Fly List on an unsecured server, containing over 1.5 million entries, as well as another 251,169 entries for individuals designated for “additional screening.” Further analyses of the documents showed, in a surprise to absolutely no-one, that a disproportionate amount of individuals targeted were of presumably middle-eastern descent, with over 10% of entries containing the name “MUHAMMAD”. As Crimew remarked, the existence of such blacklists, governed by secretive selection criteria overseen by a labyrinth of State and private actors, is “a very perverse outgrowth of the surveillance state.” In a fit of irony the likes of which would make Orwell cry with laughter, the only likable comparison many westerners can make for the current surveillance state is the make-belief boogeyman of authoritarianism in places like China and liberated northern Korea; anti-communist propaganda designed to hail the “freedom” and superiority of the west, revealed to have instead been admissions of guilt. As Marxists, we are well aware of what’s really going on.
Looking at the NSA Files, leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013, as well as the Panama Papers (2016), Paradise Papers (2017), and Pandora Papers (2021) published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), draws an even clearer picture of the situation; that the opaque web of private-public bureaucracy, surveillance, and corruption is not merely a discrete problem affecting only one or even a handful of issues, but is rather the underlying reality—the actual mechanics—of the overarching bourgeois dictatorship. Neither an idealist nationalistic global order of “free and fair competition,” nor a conspiracist “globalistic” deep state; the reality of the present situation is rather blatant, as well as, once grasped, the expressions reflected in both domestic and international—as well as historic—developments.
The present arrangement—the fascistic web of late-stage capitalism—is the culmination of several factors. We have earlier established that, in terms of history, ideology, and economy, the foundations of the United States are genocide, slavery, and imperialism—the direct material contradiction to the claimed life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The life, liberty, and happiness the US was founded in service of were that of the then-rising bourgeois slaver class of primarily English settlers—later expanded into Anglo-Saxon more generally, and then into the modern concept of whiteness. This development was necessary, first and foremost, to secure a broader section of popular support for the bourgeois slaver class while still maintaining their own power; slightly expanding their dictatorship in order to more thoroughly exploit the toiling masses. This phenomena of opportunistically “expanding” and “retracting” the privileges of the exploiting classes in order to maintain and reinforce the supreme authority of the bourgeoisie is reflected in the murder of Tyre Nichols, an innocent working class black man who died on 10 January 2023 as a result of the barbaric violence done to him by Memphis police officers—all of whom were also black. The individual races, genders, etc., of the pig officers enforcing white supremacy in any given situation is secondary to the fact that they are in fact enforcing white supremacy, and, therefore, are acting in the interests of the white supremacist bourgeois class. The United States as a political entity exists as an extension of its foundations; a continuing manifestation of bourgeois dictatorship.
While the underlying class character and economic reality has not fundamentally changed since the founding of the country, that is not to say that it has been historically static. Rather, it is precisely a result of the opportunistic dynamism of the bourgeoisie and their liberal ideology that they are able to so brutally cling to power all these centuries later. A complete detailing of the historical development of the socioeconomic and ideological superstructure would require many researchers over the course of many years—here, instead, we will suffice with one of the key factors for understanding the present circumstances: in brief, the underbelly of the cold war.
The cold war, as an antecedent to the present crisis, encompasses the period between the surrender of fascist forces in 1945, to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. An extremely broad period, the key developments for our purposes are more clear: the absorption of nazism trending to the emergence of American neoliberalism, the birth of NATO, and the birth of the modern surveillance apparatus.
In the wake of the Great Depression (1929-1939), with the Soviet Union rising meteorically under the leadership of Secretary Josef Stalin (1922-1952), and the failure of the attempted fascist coup in America (1933)—known as the Business Plot—the liberal world order was at a crisis point. A little over two centuries following the death of the so-called father of liberalism, John Locke (1632-1704), the ideology he championed appeared to be nearing its end. With the socioeconomic crisis driving mass suffering, the scarlet banner of Marxism-Leninism cast a growing shadow around the world; thousands of unemployed and radicalized workers flocked to the Communist Party. It was as Marxists had theorized for decades: that the development of Liberal Capitalism would someday reach such a point that it would necessarily, by virtue of its own contradictions, give rise to revolution, and the birth of Socialism.
“The whole course of development of the capitalist mode of production and of the class struggle in bourgeois society inevitably leads to the revolutionary replacement of capitalism by socialism… As has been shown above, in the epoch of imperialism the conflict between the growing productive forces and bourgeois relations of production, which have become fetters on these productive forces, assumes unparalleled acuteness. The law that the relations of production must necessarily correspond to the character of the productive forces requires the abolition of the old bourgeois production-relations and the creation of new socialist productive relations. Hence, there arises the objective necessity of the proletarian socialist revolution.”
The bourgeois class and their Liberal academic running dogs would not give up so easily, however, and as the crises of Liberal Capitalism reached their zenith, the most reactionary corners of the bourgeois class began coalescing around a program of open terroristic dictatorship—fascism was born. Although the Liberal democratic forces under President Franklin Roosevelt would not succumb to the Business Plot, the conditions over which he presided did serve as inspiration for one up-and-coming fascist who would succeed in seizing power: Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. While the United States would ultimately go to war with the fascist Reich, the same bourgeois interests that had allegedly been preparing the Business Plot to overthrow the United States government and install a fascist dictatorship had, unsurprisingly, constructed a very profitable relationship with Nazi Germany; the “strongest economy in Europe,” a genocidal death machine the likes of which the world had never seen before, built with American capital and the assistance of a developing new spin on the standard bourgeois ideology. Precisely one year prior to the Nazi Party’s ascension to power, in 1932 the German economist Alexander Rüstow delivered a speech titled “Free Economy, Strong State” whereby he asserted a new socioeconomic position that, while seemingly conceding to the left regarding the role of the State in establishing and maintaining market order, largely maintained the classical Liberal position of maintaining the so-called free market. One year later he would be forced to flee from Germany under the fascist terror, but neoliberalism had been born, and its ramifications play a considerable role in the present crisis today, nearly a century later. While Rüstow would return to Germany following the war, neoliberalism would find fertile ground in the desperate hands of the American bourgeois class, much like Jim Crow had inspired the Nazi party only a few years earlier. Desperately seeking a mechanism by which to re-entrench their power, solidify their dictatorship, and put a halt to the growing popularity of Marxism-Leninism, neoliberalism became their new ship of Theseus. First, as the position of capitalism with a human face, granting concessions to the working and oppressed masses, as exemplified by the rise in real wages up to 1973; then as the position of Reaganomics and the Chilean Chicago Boys—a rapacious “shock doctrine” of privatization and oppression resulting in State capture on a mass scale—as exemplified by the complete stagnation of real wages between 1973 and 2019.
While nominal earnings have continuously risen, real earnings were completely stagnant between 1973 and 2019.
Simultaneous to these economic developments, the development of neoliberalism was likewise underway in other spheres as well. Namely, in the settlement of thousands of Nazi criminals in the United States, and their implementation as intelligence assets in the cold war. One such program, ANYFACE, saw the United States government intentionally shielding and protecting the renowned Nazi Stepan Bandera, living in the American zone of Germany, whose Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists had directly participated in the holocaust. The most famous program from this era, PAPERCLIP, oversaw the transfer of some 1,600 nazis to the United States—to live out their lives as free men; albeit as assets of the US government. Here we see the emergence of the original surveillance apparatus in America. With such programs as the CIA’s COINTELPRO, to surveil and disrupt left-wing organizations, CYCLONE, to train and arm Taliban, Uyghur, Al-Qaeda, and other religious extremists in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1992, and more, the bourgeois dictatorship—which had, to be clear, never been a friend of oppressed or freedom-loving people—evolved into a pseudo-fascist juggernaut; a fourth Reich, with neoliberalism acting as its ideological sword and shield, thinly veiling some of the most horrific human rights abuses in modern history. CONDOR facilitated the training, coordination, and implementation of “executive action” throughout South America—exact figures on the number of civilians tortured to death, thrown into the sea, or otherwise disappeared by State actors via CONDOR remains unclear, with Vincent Bevins’ Jakarta Method (2020) estimating the total death toll to be potentially as high as 80,000. Through veiled support for organizations such as the World Anti-Communist League, “a collection of Nazis, Fascists, anti-Semites, sellers of forgeries, vicious racialists, and corrupt self-seekers”, formerly chaired by Senator John McCain, and known to have functioned as a back-door for US government operations regarding Iran-Contra, as well as the supporting of death squads across central and South America, the modern NGO apparatus (typified by organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy) took form.
All other clandestine fascistic programs, however, pale in the face of GLADIO: the catch-all name for a series of programs under which the United States government established illegal “stay-behind” armies, primarily comprised of fascists and right-wing terrorists, in NATO countries throughout Europe—generally without the knowledge or consent of the governments or people of those countries—complete with funding, training, and caches of military-grade communications equipment and weaponry. The most famous section of GLADIO, from which its name is derived, was in Italy, where US-backed fascist terrorists are believed to have played a heavy role in the Anni di Piombo—Years of Lead—a roughly 20-year period of unbridled political violence that, it was later discovered, had been part of a strategy of tension to weaken and disorganize communist forces by encouraging adventurism and terrorism. The strategy was successful, as it effectively alienated the communists from the masses, neutralized their leadership, and threw their organizations into complete chaos. Given the involvement of the US government, the COINTELPRO-esque nature of the Anni di Piombo cannot be overlooked, as it concretely signifies both the development of such fascistic tactics, as well as the capacity that can be—or already is—very easily applied to domestic repression. In many ways it reminds one of some of the recent repressive actions taken by government forces during the George Floyd protests in Portland, albeit without the messy ending of kidnapped dissidents being permanently disappeared—or worse. Such actions clearly mark that such an extra step would not be a difficult jump to make; perhaps such psychological terrorism is the point.
Thus it is clearly revealed that notions of an unspoken and uncodified rules based order, what the New York Times referred to as “The Vacuous Phrase at the Core of Biden’s Foreign Policy”, is precisely the result of this unholy mixture of American exceptionalism, militarist fascism, and so-called neoliberalism that formed in the United States following the war. Today, both Democrat and Republican parties are bona fide neoliberal parties—with one merely leaning more openly towards fascism. This is not to discount the importance of the electoral sphere of struggle—the MountTai editorial board’s position on that issue has already been established. It is, however, to shine a light on the spider’s web we find ourselves in. The Marxist-Leninist position, as always, is that voting alone will not secure the revolution. In the face of such repression, such malice, and such barbarism, what is the path forward?
KILLING THE MINOTAUR
An ancient Greek myth goes that during the reign of Minos, Athens was forced to send tributes to the island of Crete every seven years—the seven bravest men, and the seven most beautiful women; sacrifices to the great minotaur, cast into the labyrinth, never to be seen again. Our great and beautiful working and oppressed people are today what those lost souls were in legend; blind and ignorant, fumbling through the dark labyrinth, helpless against the beast that lurks in the shadows. So the story goes, the Athenian hero Theseus killed the great beast, and freed the people of Athens from its tyranny. So it is that, from time to time, would-be “heroes” arise today, hoping to slay our own beast. One such martyr, Willem van Spronsen, an Anarchist, rose with fury against the tyranny of ICE, in defense of our undocumented neighbors. The real world, however, is not fairytales—Cde. Willem was martyred by pig bullets in Tacoma in 2019, at the age of 69; he attacked no one, and yet his lone act of defiant rebellion—in solidarity with one of the most horrifically oppressed communities in the US—was enough to earn his martyrdom.
Here we refer back to the opening quote of this article: it is right to rebel. Alternatively translated as rebellion is justified, Chairman Mao Zedong correctly encapsulates the essence of the truth of Marxism-Leninism when put into practice. It is not enough, however, to only read one sentence devoid of context. The rest of the sentence following the initial quote establishes further what exactly comrade Mao had in mind:
For thousands of years, it has been said that oppression is justified, exploitation is justified, and rebellion is unreasonable. Since the emergence of Marxism, this old case has been overturned. This is a great accomplishment. As Marx concluded, the proletariat has learned this truth through struggle. Based on this principle, we resisted, fought, and practiced socialism. What credit does Stalin have? He developed this principle, he developed Marxism-Leninism, and came up with a very clear, concrete and vivid principle for the oppressed people all over the world, which is the theory of how to establish a revolutionary front, overthrow imperialism, overthrow capitalism, and establish a socialist society.
Comrade Mao here is advocating for the same revolutionary program as put forward by Stalin, who in turn advocated the program put forward by Lenin, and so on. The only differentiation among them lay in the precise implementation of the science of Marxism-Leninism to specific material conditions in specific moments in time. The failure to properly apply revolutionary theory to real material conditions in this manner results immediately in alienation from the masses, and places one on the side of either adventurism—offensive action at a time when such action is not in the interests of or desired by the masses—or tailism—action taken from a position of defensive reactivity at a time when forward action and direction is necessary.
As regards the former, there is no shortage today of loud voices calling for violence—unlimited genocide on the first world! Today, as throughout history, the Marxist-Leninist position is one of revolutionary professionalism, and tact. Marxists have, and will, only ever engage in self-defense. There is a key distinction that must be made, and understood, between adventurism and self-defense. In light of what we now know regarding the surveillance State and the strategy of tension, it is especially important to understand the difference.
As regards the latter, there is no shortage of half-baked chauvinists pretending to be Marxists in the west today. This is neither new, nor exciting, nor worth wasting more time with than is absolutely necessary to ensure that as few honest people are pulled into their trash heap as possible. All the social-chauvinists are now “Marxists” (don’t laugh!).
In light of the above, the possibility must also be considered of agents provocateurs intentionally spreading both of these errors; it is a matter of fact that they have, and will continue to do so. It is the task of every Marxist to be alert and keep themselves and their comrades safe against such dangers. It is well known that the FBI actively creates terrorists; this is a function of the strategy of tension, to garner a sense of dependency from the masses by fomenting make-believe threats and then “solving” them and proudly declaring the results. For these reasons, the most vulnerable, detrimental, and ultimately worthless Marxist will always be the one that is isolated and unorganized.
There exists an entire ecosystem on the internet, trapped in a never-ending cycle of crises, precisely due to its lack of organization; though ostensibly comprising millions of people, it exists as an ecosystem not for the organizing of collective attack and defense, but rather a containment zone of impotent rage: millions of rats enclosed on a sinking ship, screaming into the void as they are inevitably driven into the deep. There is no greater task, at this moment, than to be organized. Many revolutionary movements began with nothing but a reading circle—if no professional organization, or no organization you wish to affiliate with, exists within your area, then you can at least grab a friend or family member and start reading together. Considering that 54% of Americans are illiterate, merely reading with someone is itself a revolutionary act.
In the final analysis, nothing less than a full revolutionary program, implemented across every sphere of engagement, will be enough to break the pseudo-fascist stranglehold in America. Therefore, that is precisely what must be done.
The first step is to get organized. If not for us, then for them.
I am antifa.
I stand with comrades around the world who act from the love of life in every permutation.
Comrades who understand that freedom means real freedom for all and a life worth living.
Keep the faith!
All power to the people!
Willem van Spronsen