Communism, the real movement of the proletariat towards the abolition of class, work, capital, and commodity production, is opposed to the entire right wing and the entire left wing, both of which only seek to manage capitalism in various ways to ensure the reproduction of capital and prevent a working class insurrection. In today’s age, even the most radical left-wing and right-wing ideologies (Marxism-Leninism, Trotskyism, Maoism, and most variants of Anarchism on the left plus Fascism, Nazism, Third Positionism, and Monarchism on the right), all of which pay lip service to a nominal anti-capitalism and even sometimes pay lip service to the working class, are merely various ideologies justifying crushing the working class, protecting bourgeois dictatorship, and maintaining the ferocious foursome of class, work, capital, and commodity production. The entire left-right axis is thus the spectrum of political views congenial to the management of the bourgeois system. We can also say that the entire left-right axis is the spectrum of counterrevolution.
The right wing of capital is the more direct and blatant threat to communism but the left wing of capital offers a more subversive and clandestine danger. While right-wing ideology when turned right side up is fundamentally about crushing the real movement of the proletariat using state and paramilitary violence, left-wing ideology when turned right side up is fundamentally about co-opting the real movement of the proletariat back into capitalist forms. It is thus necessary for proletarian pro-revolutionaries to struggle against both the right wing and the left wing, and to never confuse the class enemy for a class friend.
What do I mean about being turned “right side up”? Being ideological entities, the left wing and the right wing of politics do not reflect the actual relations of humans to their material mode of existence, other humans, or their own nature. Rather, they reflect the illusory relations of humans to the conditions of their lives. In that reflection, left and right wing ideology appear as reality flipped upside-down, distorted, and abstracted. The Left and Right are both “the result of their limited material mode of activity and their limited social relations arising from it”. (From Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology) However, since communism abolishes “limited material mode[s] of activity” and “limited social relations” through the abolition of alienation, and instead births the real material human community, communism will dissolve the Right and the Left, and politics all together, since there will no longer be a subject body to be managed by an alienated power when class society is destroyed.
Contemporary left-wing ideology looks towards the future and emphasizes the value of progress towards “equality” and “social justice”. According to its own ideology, the Left seeks to steer society in a progressive direction so as to break down existing social hierarchies. The Left tends to follow Keynesian economics, or a distorted so-called “Marxian” economics. On the other hand, contemporary right-wing state ideology generally looks towards the past and emphasizes the values of stability and naturalism (what is natural is justified). According to its own ideology, the Right seeks to steer society in a retrograde direction so as to reinforce natural social hierarchies, and return to the “good old days”. The Right tends to follow laissez-faire economics, though some right-wing groups embrace protectionism and autarky.
We can divide the left and right wings of capital each into three sects: establishment, populist, and radical, giving us a total of six sects to study. Briefly, the establishment sects of the left and right wings are led by a section of the bourgeoisie already in political power and lean on the passive acceptance of the proletariat and middle class of limiting political action to just incremental changes from the status quo, in order to keep social order and thus the reproduction of capital. On the other hand, the populist sects of the left and right wings aim to actively rally the middle class, declassed elements, and proletariat into a class alliance led by the bourgeoisie of the populist sect, which may or may not be in political power, to place or keep the sect in political power through parliamentary means. Finally, the radical sects of the left and right wings are lead by a section of the bourgeoisie (or a wannabe-bourgeoisie) not in political power to militantly rally the middle class, declassed elements, and proletariat into a class alliance led by the bourgeoisie (or the wannabe-bourgeoisie) to violently place themselves into political power through extra-parliamentary means in the midst of political upheaval. It goes without saying that once the bourgeoisie of the populist or radical variety comes into power through a class alliance that they double-cross their class “allies” and instead exert a pure bourgeois class domination.
Sects can easily transform from one type to another after gaining or losing political power. For example, outside of political power, Marxist-Leninist parties would be considered radical sects of the left-wing, whereas once they have violently taken political power, seized the means of production under party-state rule, and taken the old bourgeoisie out of political power, they would then be considered establishment sects of the left-wing.
- Political Determinism
Note that contrary to political determinism, I uphold a basic materialist economic determinism (my detractors would likely call this mechanistic) that states that under the real domination of capital, economic forces dictate the actual political actions of politicians and capitalists, not the reverse. Capital controls capitalists and politicians, not the other way around. Political determinism is a naïve, anti-Marxist viewpoint that places too much importance on the politician in power’s ability to dictate economic events. Under the view of political determinism, neoliberalism was a scheme concocted up by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and imposed onto the American and British populace, instead of being an economic regime forced upon the American and British populace by the continuing crisis of capital. Political determinism leads naturally into a kind of instrumentalism, where the system is seen as a neutral institution, one that can be transformed if different people with different goals gained control over it, instead of one fundamentally mediated and overpowered by the capital relation. (This is a summarized version of Michael Rectenwald, Against Political Determinism)
What does economic determinism entail? It means that despite the provocations and claims of each of the six sects, each of the six sects would implement roughly similar policies if they came into power in the same conditions. Any statistical difference in policy can be explained by the fact that economic forces tend to throw up a particular sect for a particular economic situation. For example, heavy state-led development tends to occur as a transitory phase in underdeveloped countries, hence the spread throughout the Third World in the 20th century of the radical left-wing sects that justified through ideology state-led development (Marxism-Leninism and other variants of state “socialism”). Thus, all the way down their political platforms, all political sects are merely smoke-and-mirrors, pure ideology that obscures the economic forces that actually dictate public policy.
- The Left-Right Axis and the Management of Capitalism
Despite this “pessimism” about political agency, or maybe because of it, we can describe left and right wing ideologies as simple placeholders for different methodologies for managing capitalism, a fact that is masked by their respective ideologies. The left-right axis allows for interplay between these left-wing and right-wing methodologies, which forms a tough integument that upholds and defends the power of capital better than any other system devised so far. Hence the stability, proliferation, and economic success of capitalist social formations with a parliamentary system that contains both left and right parties. There are two reasons why this is the case.
First, a mix of left-right politics is necessary to steer a social formation in a direction suitable to its reproduction over the long run, because capital alone can only obey the dictates of its drive towards accumulation, which dictates a focus on short-term profits to the detriment of the long-term survivability of the mode of production. The left wing of capital seeks to offer concessions to marginalized strata, the middle classes, and the proletariat to placate them to lower their level of political consciousness to prevent revolution and also to lower levels of social strife due to social hierarchy. On the other hand, the right wing of capital seeks to take away those concessions when they interfere with the efficiency of capital accumulation and also to exacerbate social hierarchies that divide the working class. Both these strategies complement each other, as (1) the left-wing solution prevents the right-wing solution from causing enough social strife to derail capital accumulation, and the right-wing solution prevents the left-wing solution from causing enough unity among the proletariat to lay the seeds for revolution and (2) the left-wing solution prevents the right-wing solution from undermining social programs to the point where they cause social unrest and the right-wing solution prevents the left-wing solution from increasing social programs to the point where the social programs’ costs sap the ability for the bourgeoisie to accumulate capital. Thus, in bourgeois politics, a balance between the left wing and the right wing is essential to maintain the long-term stability of the economy by making sure that nothing swings too far in one direction. In addition, the bourgeoisie is not explicitly beholden to either the maintenance of social hierarchy or social egalitarianism but merely its bottom line. This allows there to be two major wings of the global bourgeoisie, each seeing through the lens of bourgeois ideology its own relation to social hierarchy and concessions as better for maintaining the long-term stability of capitalism.
Second, allowing left-right interplay allows for a political battle between defenders of social hierarchy (generally, the Right) and defenders of social egalitarianism (generally, the Left), letting capital protect itself by diverting people’s attention away from capital as the root cause of social problems and instead falsely towards the other side of the political divide as the root cause of social problems. Marginalized people and members of socially privileged strata that identify strongly with marginalized people rise up to defend the interests of marginalized people, while socially privileged strata and marginalized people that identify strongly with socially privileged strata rise up to defend the interests of socially privileged strata.
In addition, allowing a battle between Left and Right over social hierarchy also lets both the Right and Left assert their own identity politics (the Left asserts the identity politics of the marginalized while the Right asserts the identity politics of the dominators) against each other, which is problematic, because identity politics reifies (gives the appearance of reality to imaginary concepts) various identities (person of color, white, woman, male, gay, straight, queer, etc.). It does not abolish said identities but rather celebrates and fetishizes them. In doing so, identity politics is inherently reformist rather than revolutionary, in the sense that it does not actually seek to end social hierarchies, but rather it seeks to fetishize victimization (for the Left) and domination (for the Right) and thus refuse the possibility of an end to reification of social identity. It therefore blocks the creation of the authentic material human community of communism, the becoming-human of the social individual (who will therefore be in touch with their own desires, in free association with other social individuals, and in a state of coherence with their species-being), because identity politics defines the individual in the terms of a predefined social role and strengthens the attachment of the individual to their predetermined social role instead of allowing the individual to act upon their own authentically human desires. Therefore, because communism is the abolition of all predefined social roles and it can only arise out of the unity of the working class, communism is thwarted by identity politics and it is resolutely opposed to all identity politics, no matter from the Left or the Right.
Note that not all leftist ideologies fetishize identity politics to the same extent. In fact, many radical leftists have internalized a partial critique of identity politics, because in their ideology, they are apparently “trying to unify the working class for its own interests”. Yet, virtually all of them still adhere to a crude workerism, where the working class, working class culture, and wage-labor are worshipped and celebrated. This position strengthens the demarcation of the proletariat in terms of a predefined social role and forgets that communism is the abolition of classes, including the category “proletariat”.
- More on Leftism
Let me elaborate more on why leftism is a subversive and clandestine danger to revolution, since the reader presumably should have already been convinced before reading this essay that right-wing politics are a direct and immediate danger to revolution. How does the leftist co-opt proletarian struggles that could lead to revolution?
First, let me assert that capitalism is infinitely adaptable. It can take up the form of anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophobia, self-management, etc. while still preserving class, work, capital, and commodity. In fact, one of the main projects of the United Nations, a major body upholding capitalism, is a non-racist, non-sexist capitalism. This means that the “progressive” changes proposed and agitated for by leftists only end up strengthening the system. Why? To ensure its own reproduction over the long run, the capitalist system must undergo enormous shifts in politics and consciousness over time to keep up with the changing economic base. Together with this, capitalism generates an alienation and misery that leads to feelings of rebellion. However, these feelings of rebellion are then co-opted by capital to serve the needs of the massive changes in politics and consciousness required by the system. How? The media, leftist capital-managerial ideology, and university intellectuals swept up by leftist ideology provide a veritable cornucopia of progressive causes for the rebels to militate for. From anti-racism to anti-sexism, from anti-homophobia to anti-poverty, all of these causes are heavily endorsed by the mass culture (with the exception of fringe far-right sources) and are values deeply engrained in leftist and even center-right ideology and ideologues. The bourgeoisie itself and its politician cronies often fail to identify which reforms are necessary to keep the population sedated under the cybernetic welfare state (Social control of entire populations through material incentives delivered through the technological techniques characteristic of late capitalism leading to a low level of political consciousness) and other forms of population management. As a result, these would-be rebels are necessary under capitalism, so that their rebellion against outdated values/policies and militancy in favor of new values/policies can be co-opted by the state as a useful mechanism to change the superstructure and consciousness in lockstep with the technological base. The rebels think that they are fighting against the system, but in reality they are strengthening it by ironing out its bugs and getting rid of mindsets problematic to the reproduction of capitalism (Now that capitalism is shifting towards protecting itself through a glaze of anti-racism and anti-sexism, by integrating women into the workplace, integrating people of color into the middle class, etc.).
Normally, imposing large-scale social change on a population would create popular resentment from social disruption. However, by allowing leftists to push for these policies themselves, capitalism is able to divert the right wing’s resentment from being towards capitalism to being towards the rebels. In addition, the capitalist system no longer has to push for these necessary social changes from the top-down, which would also cause resentment, because it is able to “convince” would-be radicals to push for the necessary social changes under capitalism from the bottom-up. The capitalists and politicians are not conscious of having played this trick, but it still works to handily reproduce capitalism. Through leftism, the resistance against the system is fully determined by capital and stays within the bounds inscribed by capital. Left-wing organizations further this determination by capital and co-opt proletarian resistance, by diverting proletarian energy away from revolution and towards the service of these minuscule reforms, all of which boost the prestige and capital of said left-wing organization under capitalism. They do this because left-wing organizations themselves are inscribed by the logic of capital and act in a similar way as trade unions and other pillars of the capitalist state, aiming primarily at accumulating capital and prestige for themselves and at fighting to keep their position as mediators of the relationship between the proletariat and the bourgeois state.
One qualification that a reader pointed out was that while the ruling ideology may be sympathetic to leftist/progressive causes, oftentimes capital strongly caps the amount of left deviance from the ruling ideology that the ruling ideology considers acceptable. Hence media friendliness to feminism, anti-racism, anti-homophobia, or anti-poverty, but hostility to those same ideologies once they take up radical forms. Left-wing ideology in general serves the interests of capital, but left-wing ideology that has become too radical, proposing greater changes to the superstructure than is required by the base or proposing changes that interfere with the reproduction of capital, can and will be suppressed by the state’s ideology and repressive wings. That being said, we still have to differentiate between radical left-wing ideology and communism, because capitalism is not contingent upon sexism, racism, homophobia, ableism, poverty, etc. but can readily adapt itself to suit any progressive form as necessary. The only things capitalism is contingent upon are class, work, capital, and commodity.
Second, many leftists often advocate for more government programs to “medicate” various problems within capitalism, such as crime, drug use, alcoholism, racism, sexism, or lack of interest in STEM fields. However, the sum total of all of these actions is the further development of totalitarian bureaucratic capitalism and the end game of total subjugation of human autonomy to the managerial bourgeois state apparatus. Neither the bourgeoisie nor activists have consciously planned for a totalitarian society, but we are on track towards greater and greater totalitarianism through the perfection of psychological and biological management of entire populations by technocratic bureaucrats, because of each of these individual small steps (usually started by grassroots movements) added up. Each instance of “medication” seems to work to some extent to solve grave social problems but in fact increases the power of the state, which is controlled by the bourgeoisie. Ultimately, this is the unintentional endgame of social reformism, social democracy, and democratic socialism. It is a society in which everything under the stars is under the control of the bourgeois state-apparatus and its loyal bureaucrats and where perfected psychological and biological manipulation is used by capitalism to manage entire populations for the sake of long-term profit margins. Alienation and misery drives the leftist to rebel against the system, but their resistance is co-opted by the system to increase the power of the bourgeois state. The leftist further recruits proletarians in the service of fighting for these reforms, diverting their attention from the fact that all of their militant agitation simply increases the power of their class enemy. They thus help co-opt proletarian struggles back into the bourgeois state by redirecting the anger and drive of the proletariat and the oppressed back into state institutions instead of out of state institutions and into building autonomous power.
In addition, agitating for government programs is paternalistic in essence, because these programs reflect an altruistic contempt for the oppressed masses as incapable of providing for their own needs. The reformist wants the bourgeois state to provide for everyone’s needs and they have the paternalistic desire to want to enact policies for the oppressed through bureaucratic and top-down organizations, instead of the alternative, which is the proletariat building independent organizations to aid themselves, self-liberate as a class, and then liberate humanity.
Third, most leftists don’t escape the framework of identity politics for the marginalized, which masks the economic base and delays the liberation of the world’s oppressed. Identity politics does this by failing to identify the capitalist relation of production as the material base for creating these oppressive social hierarchies and by focusing solely on struggling against limited effects of social hierarchy in public consciousness, instead of formulating a plan to attack social hierarchy at its material base. By only focusing on the symptoms of social hierarchy, by focusing on attacking ideas alone, while leaving the material based untouched, they will never be able to actually rupture with social hierarchy in material reality, but will only strengthen it by masking its most visible symptoms, making it harder for the proletariat to identify the root problem of capitalism as the creator of all social hierarchies. They thus make it more likely for proletarians to be misled by this or that reformist left-wing ideology instead of fighting for revolution.
So far, we have only been discussing identity politicians, reformists, progressives, social democrats, and democratic socialists. How do radical leftists pose a subversive and hidden danger to revolution? By having in practice a division between leadership (revolutionaries) and led (the proletariat) between their organizations and the masses (Even if they call themselves “anarchists” or “anti-state communists” and claim to not be forming a vanguard party), they maintain the same division of power and mental-manual division of labor that exists under capitalism. This makes it inevitable for a post-revolutionary society led by radical leftists to devolve into state capitalism, because the means of production will be in the hands of a minority, instead of in the hands of the proletariat itself, leading to the reproduction of capitalism under state ownership of the means of production. This is proven by history. Whenever the working class is not leading itself and is instead being led by individuals, then it will not be able to transcend capitalism, as seen by the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Chiapas, Rojava, and countless other examples. The working class must own the means of production themselves and not through any mediated body.
When the world revolution comes, there will be thousands of leftist organizations, some establishment, some populist, some Bolshevist, some Stalinist, some Trotskyist, some Maoist, some anarchist, even some left communist (sadly enough), all claiming to have the best line for the proletariat to follow. In reality, they are the counterrevolution, whose goal is to cease the revolutionary process and return the exploiter class back into political power. They justify this in various ways through their various ideologies. It is the job of pro-revolutionaries to not only attack the Right but also bitterly denounce and criticize all of the organizations (possibly even wreck them, if necessary) of the Left and discredit them in front of other workers, so that they will not be able to co-opt the real movement of the proletariat for state capitalist ends. Leftism in all of its forms, from establishment to populist to radical, is a cancer upon the proletariat, almost as counterrevolutionary and bloody as fascism in its continued prolongation of capitalism through subversive means. It must be discredited or destroyed for communism to succeed.
- The Communist Alternative
The Communist Alternative is to make a break with both the politics of the Right and the Left in all of their forms.
To break with the Right is something that most pro-revolutionaries have already done. It means breaking with racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist and other oppressive attitudes that prevent the unification of the working class. It means criticizing and wrecking the Right in power and out of power whenever possible.
To break with the Left means that:
- Pro-revolutionary workers should argue for their ideas on an equal basis with other workers and not attempt to form a new leadership
- Pro-revolutionary intellectuals need to take great care in making sure not to reproduce the mental-manual divide of labor
- Pro-revolutionaries should participate in the revolution as much as the ordinary worker, not tailing behind the masses and thus blockading the real movement of the proletariat, or jumping ahead of the masses and thus substituting their action for the action of the class
- Pro-revolutionaries should distance themselves away from the bourgeois state apparatus and its co-dependents (trade unions, NGOs, etc.)
- Pro-revolutionaries should distance themselves from all organizations that will lead the proletariat in practice even if they claim in theory to not be forming a “vanguard party”
- Pro-revolutionaries should venomously criticize the Left in power and even out of power, possibly even wrecking the Left’s agenda to manage capitalism or co-opt resistance whenever necessary
- Pro-revolutionaries should avoid reforms that lead back to the power of the bourgeois state at all costs
- Pro-revolutionaries should avoid playing into the capitalist system’s agenda by agitating for an anti-racist, anti-sexist, progressive capitalism
- Pro-revolutionaries should avoid all kinds of identity politics of the marginalized in favor of the unity of the working class
Communists Against Both Left and Right!
Workers of the World, Unite!