Our Struggle Series: Introduction
The GroundUp unlike Petrarch does not proclaim any big T truths in its historical addresses. Petrarch writes “What else, then, is all history, if not the praise of Rome?” This means that Petrarch held deep condemnation of the “barbarous” countries outside of Rome. Likewise, he contributed to the construct known as the Dark Ages not because the period lacked sophistication but because he wanted to extinguish the light of the period. But unlike scholarship concerned with righting the wrongs of historical inaccuracy like Elizabeth Brown’s 1974 article in The American History Review titled “The Tyranny of a Construct: Feudalism and Historians of Medieval Europe” wherein she argues against the tradition of “confining the word feudal to its narrow sense—“relating to fiefs,” The GroundUp argues that there is a certain value in a reductionism. Richard Dawkins and Alan Sokol certainly believe that empiricism is capable of exhausting metaphysics. The scientist, the great Prometheus saving us with the light of truth from the dark evil of esotericism. Of course, some might argue that the difference between a—let’s say—outer understanding of something is different than an inner understanding of something. This could be the body and mind or an object and subject or as suggested previously an exoteric text as opposed to an esoteric text. Now, to be clear, this piece is not a critique of science. Science helps reveal what reality is. Science is powerful. But science has its limits. Science itself doesn’t indicate what should be done with its revelations of reality. This would of course be shocking to any devotee of Marxism-Leninism and scientific communism or adherents to Marx and Engles scientific socialism. These "sciences" refer to a method for understanding and predicting social, economic, and material phenomena by examining their historical trends through the use of the scientific method in order to derive probable outcomes and probable future developments. Of course, there are a lot of crossovers to the science of sociology and even the humanities but for the sake of being more precise and establishing the contrast with utopian socialism—a method based on establishing seemingly rational propositions for organizing society and convincing others of their rationality and/or desirability, it is appropriate to identify these sciences as theories of specific types of socialism—but not identify them as sciences.
If they were truly sciences the utilization of the scientific method would ensure that there was no long-term law demanding the necessity of centralized production for the success of a socialist country and such a notion would be nothing more than a disproved hypothesis. But in fact, what was taught in Russia as scientific communism doesn’t utilize scientific terminology like that found in either the hard or soft sciences. It actually assumes efficacy, validity, and truth value without any such conditions being met. For example, in Political Economy, a textbook once issued by the Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the u.s.s.r, a section in “CHAPTER XXVII : THE MATERIAL PRODUCTION BASIS OF SOCIALISM” reads:
“As a result of the elimination of private ownership of the means of production, all the achievements of modern science and technique become, under socialism, the property of the whole of society. In seeking to satisfy the constantly growing needs of the mass of the people, socialist production requires uninterrupted development and perfection of techniques; old techniques must be replaced by new, and they in turn by newer ones. Hence the necessity for systematic work to produce, master and introduce into industry new machinery, mechanisms, appliances and apparatus, new types of material and advanced technology. The Socialist State, which concentrates in its hands the basic means of production and accumulation, can make large-scale capital investments in the national economy to ensure uninterrupted technical progress, and can carry out capital construction on a large scale and at a speed which is not possible for capitalism.”
Centralization simply isn’t necessary for a mass of people no matter how many bodies constitute the mass. And as Luigi Fabbri argues in “Anarchy and "scientific" communism,”' Marxist communists, especially Russian ones, are beguiled by the distant mirage of big industry in the West or in america and mistake for a system of production what is only a typically capitalist means of speculation, a means of exercising oppression all the more securely; and they do not appreciate that that sort of centralization, far from fulfilling the real needs of production, is, on the contrary, precisely what restricts it, obstructs it, and applies a brake to it in the interest of capital:
“Whenever dictatorial communists talk about “necessity of production” they make no distinction between those necessities upon which hinge the procurement of a greater quantity and higher quality of products—this being all that matters from the social and communist point of view—and the necessities inherent in the bourgeois regime, the capitalists' necessity to make more profit even should it mean producing less to do so. If capitalism tends to centralize its operations, it does so not for the sake of production, but only for the sake of making and accumulating more money—something which not uncommonly leads capitalists to leave huge tracts of land untilled, or to restrict certain types of production; and even to destroy finished products! All these considerations aside, this is not the real point at issue between authoritarian communists and anarchist communists.
“When it comes to the material and technical method of production, anarchists have no preconceived solutions or absolute prescriptions, and bow to what experience and conditions in a free society recommend and prescribe.”'
Now look, this project isn’t an attack specifically on Marxism-Leninism, The GroundUp doesn’t embrace that theoretical framework but it doesn’t set out to write articles intended to specifically expose its flaws. It just so happened that for this article it was necessary to expose one of them. Indeed, The GroundUp has addressed issues with anarchist organizing and the problem areas found in the theoretical underpinnings of Black Rose/Rosa Negra’s “sectoral analysis,” which makes the blatant claim that there is no peasant sector in the united states of america therefore, no analysis was needed by Black Rose/Rosa Negra unlike how it would be needed in Central and South America. The GroundUp revealed that such a claim is both unfounded and simple minded. Likewise, the GroundUp is regularly critical of liberal ideology and many The GroundUp contributors are as well. All of this is to say no left child gets left behind so to speak. Unless you are a stalin apologist or a fascist The GroundUp articles are not designed to say “Fuck you” they are designed to encourage alternatives to limiting beliefs.
And there is a bounty of beliefs in this world! Many of the beliefs we hold we hold simply because the person who extended that belief was self-centered—Petrarch and his contribution to the common term of Dark Ages for example. Some of what we believe is so because of a combination of factors. The history behind the understanding of feudalism has as much to do with the classroom as it does the teacher who originally taught it in the reductionist way. Is it lazy to teach that serfdom is exhausted by fiefs? Yes. But how much time is there to go in depth on this particular dimension of the Middle Ages. Through the 21st century children and young adults are still taught feudalism the same way. But basic research in medieval studies shows just how flawed this popular belief is.
Flawed belief and distorted epistemology govern almost all of modern leftist thought. And the examples of Petrarch choosing what to shine the light on and what to keep in the dark and the matter of the constructs in the Elizabeth Brown case bring me to the way in which we are going to present a new leftist epistemology. We are not going to be trigger happy with complex constructs but if they save us time, we will use them. We will use them sparingly and we will both explain their use and attempt to measure constructs with adequate conceptualization and operationalization. This is useful for both the presentation of research and a way to address the matter of reification which is integral to the flawed belief and distorted epistemology that governs almost all of modern leftist thought. Reification is the process of regarding mental constructs as real, which is both central to the important matter of defining constructs and identifying measurable variables that can provide truth value to claims.
To begin the critique of the flawed ideology that is american leftist epistemology, an assault must be made on the flawed ideology that composes american foreign policy. The reason that it is important to begin with american foreign policy is that this domain is a major influence on those who shape modern american leftist epistemology. A standard of american foreign policy is that the world can be reduced to simple models. But the real dynamics of this world make prediction nearly impossible.
For example, it was believed in the early 2000s that military dominance would lead to victory in the Middle East. The strategy of military dominance operating through violence was the strategy in varying degrees of severity up to and including the abrupt and total exodus from Afghanistan in mid-2021 but as early as 2003 the efficacy of this strategy was challenged by donald rumsfeld when he said "We know we're killing a lot, capturing a lot, collecting arms. We just don't know yet whether that's the same as winning." Why it’s important to start here for the critique of leftist epistemology is to create a brief space of unity for all leftists. Liberal, Anarchist, Socialist—whatever you call yourself. Let’s show a violent smile for the stupidity of the wars in the Middle East. We know they were futile. Right? Right? This is the consensus correct? Okay, now that we have something in common and we have an example of something that is futile let’s talk about what is futile in leftist dealings with international matters and what ideologies of american foreign policy are rearing their heads in left space.
From the United Nations Human Rights website on the page titled “About International Solidarity and human rights” the text reads:
International cooperation is the core of international solidarity, but that international solidarity is not limited to international assistance and cooperation, aid, charity or humanitarian assistance. International solidarity should be understood in a broader concept that includes sustainability in international relations, especially international economic relations, the peaceful coexistence of all members of the international community, equal partnerships and the equitable sharing of benefits and burdens, refraining from doing harm or posing obstacles to the greater wellbeing of others, including in the international economic system and to our common ecological habitat, for which all are responsible.
Now in a report to the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/15/32, July 2010), former independent expert Rudi Muhammad concluded that:
“International solidarity is a precondition to human dignity, the basis of all human rights, and a human-centered approach to development, and has a bridge-building function across all divides and distinctions. It encompasses the values of social justice and equity; goodwill among peoples and nations, and integrity of the international community; sovereignty and sovereign equality of all States, and friendly relations among them."
What does “international solidarity” mean materially? The United Nations believes in international solidarity and they are championing their Fourth International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. To be clear colonization is the action or process of settling among and establishing control over the indigenous people of an area. Forty years is too long a time for such a reality to be eradicated. And of course, there are processes that take time but the UN process of admitting a new state to membership or the way representatives of a new government are accepted are as bureaucratic and as inequitable as an independent business needing to show proof of value in order to receive distribution services. The UN in this instance doesn’t extend international solidarity unless there is something of potential value to extend it to.
But this is interesting, the United Nations Human Rights website also has a page titled “Human rights are not a matter of charity” with a quote from former UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay that addresses immigration that reads, “Nor are they a reward for obeying immigration rules. Human rights are inalienable entitlements of every human being, wherever they are and whatever their status.” Well modern immigration cannot be delinked from colonization or neo colonization, which is the practice of using economic imperialism (extending a country’s economic power), globalization (businesses developing international influence and sometimes operation), cultural imperialism (extending a country’s cultural power) and conditional aid to influence a developing country instead of the previous colonial methods of direct military control or indirect political control, and so with the reality of diaspora, which is often linked to genocide the UN having staunch criteria or limited aid to new powers and bodies of people who form governments is defacto neo-imperialist. The UN needs to provide for new groups and bodies of people and since it gives special power to China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States it is foolish to think that it ever will. So much of what the UN does for countries is deliver the same feel-good speeches as politicians do globally without establishing healthy and non-oppressive systemic change. Paper saviors as opposed to paper tigers the UN is.
And this paper savior dimension of the UN has indeed impacted leftist ideology at the level of the public display. There is so much flowery language in leftist meetings with elastic terms like bridge building, connection, solidarity, unity, sustainability. In leftist meetings that discuss matters of u.s. imperialism this rhetoric is delivered likewise in the same feel-good bonding manner to an even lesser efficacy. The GroundUp refers to this as bannerism. Bannerism is supporting some distant struggle through means that are regularly innocuous to the enemies of those struggling and they are efforts that are often not requested by those struggling and those struggling often never even know about the intended the acts of solidarity.
Once at a certain meeting in New York City, The GroundUp asked why don’t we send those struggling militants’ money and the idea was rejected as almost taboo. We knew the name of the people involved in the struggle (the Venezuelan Anarchist Black Cross). Now, the Venezuelan Anarchist Black Cross ABC didn’t ask us to make a banner. But most people present wanted to make one for them. The Venezuelan Anarchist Black Cross ABC wanted our support. We asked the meeting presenters who were in touch with the militants in Venezuela to connect The GroundUp with the militants so we could help fund them—those people chose to not put us in touch. And that is unfortunate because the intermediary didn’t in that case follow the request of the militants who explicitly wanted support—not banners.
Maybe “support” was thought of in the broadest sense but the Venezuelan ABC mentioned that they are running out of supplies so we don’t see how a banner thousands of miles away can be supportive. This is why foreign policy and international politics are a fantastic starting point for a correction of leftist epistemology because leftists in the international conversation (imperialism and u.s. interventionism as two examples) are so regularly alienated from performing actual material and impactful aid and solutions. A lot of left space is just talking and spinning mental wheels and art and fun and ultimately ineffectual.
What will follow is a potential solution to this absurdity! It is a metapolitical theory called against inaction, oppression and bad hope; or, the imperative of real political deed and a politics of non-oppression and understanding what is only politically quasi-real. Our primary attack will be against leftists that are alienated from real political action no matter if this alienation is theoretically derived or derived from other channels. Our second attack is concomitant to the first attack as we wage an assault on theoretical disconnect from political and lived reality. Our third attack is on certain beliefs such as the misassociation of centrists and individualist anarchists to politics when in fact they are participating in a quasi-politics that is more akin to calculus because in different ways they do not valuate the material social as being about power.
It will of course follow that centrism and individualist anarchism are misnomers because they do not relate to politics. We will then acknowledge that moderatism is politically real, but it is bad hope to be a moderate in an oppressive system and hold the belief that simply because of moderation the system can be explained as good or right or through other such reductivity. In this way we will make clear that the horseshoe theory is nothing more than bad hope. Since people exist within political systems governed by power, which is the value of the material social and its relationship with politics, it is therefore fallacious to explain a political system as good reductively, in terms of properties such as moderate or even free. What will follow is then an acknowledgment that equating the property of political goodness or rightness with some non-moral property is an alienation from the realism of the material social being governed by power given that cults of personality use words like moderate and free to manipulate agreement to a certain political system. And it is by the very belief (or supposed belief) of politicians or ideologues extended to people that has enabled a belief that morality is the value of the material social despite the existence of a system that is not horizontal in power relations (but none the less governed by rules) and this establishes morality in politics as a code switch for power and weakness. And while moral realism exists, as it is the inkling to know that freedom and moderation are concomitant to good but are not in and of themselves exhausting of good, politics must be positioned in both an internal and external permanent revolution and hope must not be centered in qualities of morality, as that allows the binary of bad hope and bad faith to operate in systems where the value of the material social is power, but in the most intransigent, physical expressions of moral imperative that exists in the world via physical suffering and oppression. And because the value of the material social is power and moral imperatives exist via physical suffering and oppression it is the case that individualistic anarchists are not political thinkers because the only way to truly stop oppression beyond individualist outburst is at the system level and the only way to establish enough power to stop systemic oppression is through intersectional social organizing. And individualist anarchists are not concerned with maintaining the social dignity concomitant to it.
Our fourth attack is non-leftist issues that are treated as leftist issues. Ecological terrorists are one such example. The actions of their camp and many other camps are in fact politically real. But they are designer organizers with ends that are not inherently leftist. Leftism is concerned primarily with equity and eco-terrorists are not.
Our fifth attack is the que será, será (whatever will be, will be) of antifascist, anarchist, and socialist (and sometimes liberal) action and organizing that pertains to security, planning, fitness, and training. These end our attacks! One example of organizing failure that we will clarify right now pertains to the strategy of confrontation with fascists. It is always a chaotic strategy! And there are people who confront fascists in an antifascist capacity who should not be doing so. In the Spartan military it was considered disgraceful for a Spartiate to return to Sparta without his shield. It meant the Spartan wasn’t doing his job to protect the next man in the phalanx. The shield did not protect one Spartan alone it protected his fellow Spartan to his left! There are countless occasions where The GroundUp has witnessed confrontations between antifascists and fascists and there are people who while earnestly showing up for the right cause of fighting fascism are not able to defend themselves from the average fascist let alone the person to their left. We propose a training regimen before, during, and after insurgency.
We will then conclude this offering by noting a possible organizational model for the leftist organizing body going forward! It is imperative for organizations to be organic but there must be structure, discipline when needed, non-outdated militancy, courage, and the unceasing focus on a political reality of non-oppression.