Essay:Communists in the west and their internal struggles

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There are no two ways about it. When you started this path you probably had your mind blown at all the cool new things you learned. The class struggle, dialectical materialism, historical materialism… you probably started questioning everything around you; how come we live in neoliberal hellholes? How come the rest of the world is poor and we are not? How come this, how come that?

Yet too often I see some topics that self-proclaimed communists are not happy to struggle with and they turn towards Trotskyism or left communism to reconcile not examining their position.

This ideological struggle does not come easy for us because we are so used to being right. I hold that life in the imperial core and life outside of it is so different as to be alien to each other, not only because of our material conditions but also due to our superstructure. In the West, we receive government curated media straight from the source. We can do no wrong, it’s those other countries that are bad for having elected a president one time too often, or for having refused that we should own their natural resources. We are never wrong, and that is why we are rich and the rest of the world is poor. This is an idea propagated by the bourgeoisie that we grow up with.

This concretely leads to wrong conclusions. These communists, non-revolutionary because they play right into the hands of the bourgeois state, are incapable of questioning some things they hold close, while being able to question others. This is not even exclusive to ultras or trots, this is also seen in the general population that may not be class conscious.

For example, it is impossible for many to imagine that the revolution in China was something good, and continues to be (it ended the century of humiliation). Because our governments are corrupt and propagate death and misery both at home and in the world, that must mean all governments are the same and therefore China’s government must operate on the same basis. Communists that have not made that critical step are unable to give fair assessments, and this turns them towards chauvinism if left unmonitored. Is it contradictory to say that we have a losing complex and yet we consider ourselves superior? Not at all. Owing to centuries of class struggle, these are two of the factors used by the exploitative class to remain in power. You should be happy with your lot in life, and you should not want to look with envy to those who have more. Does this ring any bells? It was inscribed on two famous stone tablets.

We have, due to our Christian roots, a losing complex. We are defeatists. We like to cheer for the underdog, and we all know the story of David and Goliath (and to this day I have not met anyone defending Goliath in that story). We even use that story as an allegory in common language.

We have seen that shift happen in real time as Deng Xiaoping opened up trade in China. As it was becoming richer and a major player of international trade, that is when the accusations of capitalist takeover started. That is when self-proclaimed Maoists, some of whom took after MZT and some of whom took after Gonzalo, started changing their tune. Suddenly China was not the vanguard of the world revolution like it was in 1959, suddenly it was a failed project that needed yet another revolution to set it on the right track. As if endless revolutions will bring about communism – everyone that espouses this line must realise how ludicrous it sounds, and that it is a defeatist line.

Likewise, we hold very deep individualist beliefs and are unable to understand why people would “revere” (again we see this Christian upbringing at play) mortal figureheads like Lenin, Ho Chi Minh or Mao. We deride their statues and popular support as cults of personality and although that is more of a reactionary talking point, it is still a term used by many self-proclaimed communists. Yet they were the creators and main proponents of the states that have given so much to their citizens. Why would people not hold them up? Why must their way of practising communism be ours at all costs? They are not Christians, they do not have this underdog complex. It’s very like us not to throw too much praise on someone, to “bring them back down to earth” lest… lest what, exactly? Lest they let power get to their head? Has that happened to Lenin? Lest they become larger than life? Has that happened to Ho Chi Minh?

My point of course is not to deride Christianity. It is to briefly point out the role it has played in shaping our ideas, even though you may be a committed atheist. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

The CPC caused a discussion in circles that care about keeping up with the PRC last year when Xi said that taking up after the West is not the only way to be civilised. He is right. We hold Western superiority too close. For centuries, we have seen British and then Amerikan hegemony rule the world, in architecture, science, art, economics, entertainment… we simply cannot imagine something else, living in the imperial core.

If you want to be a communist in the west, you have to struggle with things that will make you uncomfortable. They will transform your core beliefs. You have to accept change, because how better to integrate dialectics than starting within yourself? But for that, first you have to find out what is holding you back and accept that it is walking you towards failure.