Saturday, May 01, 2021

Being a Marxist-Leninist of any kind, here in the US, is not an easy task for a high profile political activist

  .....Such as Angela Davis

By Steven Otto

Just recently I had a run in with some so called "friends" on my Facebook page that reminded me how much opposition goes along with the United States of America's corporate and imperialist propaganda mindset that many of our citizens have to deal with, in this country. Those of us who are  Communists know this well. For example, one woman, who I refuse to identify here, compared my views on Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. She said:


"What makes you think I'm "buying into" pro-capitalist pundits? I'm a critical theorist with a great respect for Marx's works, and I abhor authoritarianism in any shape. Even if what you believe was true, Mao oversaw political attacks on his opposition, imprisoning and murdering them. He was a mass murderer. I'm going to believe those who survived his dictatorship, not those who seem to welcome it. I'm also going to believe survivors of Castro's regime, so many of whom are not pro-Batista. And survivors of Lenin's and Stalin's regimes. Dictatorships aren't to be celebrated.

They may have liked the theory, but they never lived by it. They fomented anger, ordered mass executions, committed ethnic cleansing and genocide, and they deserve no more love than Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco. Theory is hardly ever reality."


I had another gentleman who insisted, as did she, that both Mao and Staling were mass murderers. This is not uncommon. I get that from the right-wingers all the time, who like to rattle off the summation that Mao was intentionally more murderous than Hitler or Stalin. That off course, has been a common pronouncement by revisionist historians of the US right-wing. But they are not alone in this. This view is also held by many Democrats. When it comes to opposing imperialism, the Marxists left is often attacked by liberals as well as people on the right. Until the addition of Ilhan Omar to the House of Representatives, US foreign policy has never been questioned by either party, since the Ronald Reagan years.

In addition to all the accusations of human rights abuses in Cuba and Venezuela much of US imperialism tries to justification of the subjection and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, which is a policy supported by both Republicans and MOST of the Democratic Party as well.

Both Republicans and Democrats refuse to normalize relations with Venezuela and the US recognizes a right-wing stooge, opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has never been elected and yet this country only recognizes that person as the president of Venezuela. Omar has been just about the only congress person to question that position.

I do try to hold discussions and debate with any of my so called friends who make an honest attempt to discuss my positions on Maoism or Chinese history. But when a friend tells me that they respect the Cuban gusanos (worms is what they are called by the Cuban who have stayed behind) who have left Cuba to try and help overthrow that system, and when that person equates, not just Stalin and Mao, but VI Lenin and other leftist leaders with Hitler, Mussolini and Francisco Franco of Spain, then there is no common ground left and I unfriended that person.  

At times it is really difficult to be a Marxist, because the history of China's communist movement did make its share of mistakes. At times, certain actions have lead to people's deaths and at times there have been some excessive actions taken against those who have been critical to the communist government. Not all of the excesses are justifiable. But that does not mean that the revolution in China has no redeeming values, or that the population was "terrified by Mao." Some of these people are on the left, but they have accepted what they have read about China and they have believed those who left that part of the world in favor of a capitalist lifestyle. One of the tricks for me is to determine whether a person is seriously trying to debate a position or is so anti-communist that there is absolutely no common ground to work with. When there is no common ground, there is no point in keeping a relationship going with that person.

That said, it is difficult to be any kind of Marxist-Leninist in the US. Today I worked at the local Wichita School System today. While I was there, I was looking at the black heroes this teacher had put up on the wall, probably to celebrate black history month, which was last month, February. There was quite a contrast of various different people and leaders, and a plethora of different political ideas, from Barack Obama, to Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Judge Ruth Ginsburg and last but not least was a picture of Angela Davis along with a quote of hers: "In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist."

The amazing thing about Angela Davis is that she is a Marxist-Leninist and her picture and quote is on the school wall. To become a famous civil rights leader as a Marxist-Leninist is no easy feat. There was a lot of prejudice against her. She had been fired from her job at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) over her political views:

"Because Davis was a member of the Communist Party, the UC Board of Regents, at the urging of then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, tried to fire her before she even taught her first class. But enraged UCLA faculty, staff and students protested in support of Davis, citing academic freedom. A lawsuit also was later filed in Davis’ defense."

At one point the government tried to include her in a murder case.

"On August 7th, 1970, seventeen year old Jonathan Jackson kidnapped Superior Court Judge Harold Haley from the Marin County Civic Center in San RafaelCalifornia. The kidnapping was meant as a tool to negotiate the freedom of the Soledad Brothers, a trio of African-American inmates (George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo, and John Clutchette) who were charged with the murder of a prison guard at Soledad Prison in California. George Jackson also happened to be the real brother of Jonathan Jackson.

Jackson, heavily armed, took over the courtroom in Marin County, arming the defendants and taking Judge Haley, the prosecutor, and three female jurors hostage. In a firefight that broke out as they attempted to leave the scene, Judge Haley, the defendants, and Jonathan Jackson were killed. In the ensuing investigation, it was discovered that the shotgun used to kill Judge Haley had been purchased by Angela Davis a few days prior to the event. Furthermore, it was discovered that Davis was in collusion with one of the Soledad Brothers."

At one point she was on the FBI's 10 most wanted list as a dangerous criminal. All of this over the fact that she had become a member of the Communist Party USA. That party used to be the pro-Soviet party—a party which many of us on the left, considered to be revisionist. But I don't think that matters today. She had to go against the same prejudices that any Marxist ends up going through, just by being here in the US. Just as I had to confront those who believe that Mao was a mass murderer, at times Davis had to go through the same kinds of accusations, mostly because she supported the Soviet Union and its so called "satellites." 

An example of the kinds of smears she was subjected to include these comments recorded by Wikipedia: 

"Davis was an honorary co-chair of the January 21, 2017, Women's March on Washington, which occurred the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration. The organizers' decision to make her a featured speaker was criticized from the right by Humberto Fontova and National Review. Libertarian journalist Cathy Young wrote that Davis's "long record of support for political violence in the United States and the worst of human rights abusers abroad" undermined the march."

So, as with myself, she had to defend a position of support for a country, along with other countries, that even US liberals had attacked. In fact some leftist Marxists and Maoists also attacked those governments.

Some of her past positions have been condemned by the established politicians, yet there are supporters for what she believes in today. For example: 

"......"Davis supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel." And that is a position that has gained a lot of ground as more and more political activist are taking up.


At the same time as all this was going on, Davis was an intellectual and a scholar"


Growing up, Angela attended black-only schools. She and her family were forced to ride in the back of buses, and were only able to enter the back door of different establishments in the community. This made her angry early on. Angela entered high school just as the civil rights movement was beginning. She left Birmingham at the age of 15 and traveled to New York City. There, she attended high school and began to learn about the Communist Party. After high school, Angela attended Brandeis University on a full scholarship, where she was one of only three African American first-year students. As a college student, Davis continued to pursue her interest in communist activities and to learn about different cultures. She came to realize that there were many barriers that needed to be overcome with regard to language and diversity.

During her junior year, Davis studied French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. Upon returning to the states she was able to fulfill her interest in philosophy, studying with the German philosopher Herbert Marcuse. She later received a scholarship to study philosophy in FrankfurtGermany, where she delved into the philosophies of Karl Marx, Georg Hegel and Immanuel Kant.

An Outspoken Activist

During college, Angela became interested in the Black Panther Party. She learned that this party had been formed in order to protect the African American community from experiencing brutality from the police. Angela was very interested in this movement and wanted to participate. Her work with the Black Panther party brought her further discrimination from males involved in the movement. They considered the work Angela was doing to be 'men's work'. Davis would encounter this type of discrimination in many of her future roles as well.

In 1969, Davis was hired as an assistant professor at the University of California Los Angeles. By this time, she had become a member of the Communist Party and participated in activities with them, including a trip to CubaDavis worked with the Cuban people and realized that there was very little discrimination there under the Socialist system. For her participation in this trip, she received much criticism and hate mail when returning to the United States and was also not rehired as a professor the next year."

She was vary smart. However, she was forced to confront both racism and prejudice of her communist beliefs. Being a communist in the US has always had its dangers. Consider the Hollywood 10 and their treatment during the 1950s, during the Joseph McCarthy (Known as McCarthyism) years:

"Hollywood Ten, in U.S. history, 10 motion-picture producers, directors, and screenwriters who appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee in October 1947, refused to answer questions regarding their possible communist affiliations, and, after spending time in prison for contempt of Congress, were mostly blacklisted by the Hollywood studios. The 10 were Alvah BessieHerbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward DmytrykRing Lardner, Jr., John Howard LawsonAlbert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo."


So I'm not surprised to see a lot of prejudice beliefs against those of us who have chosen any type of Marxist-Leninism. At times those governments were not always fair or democratic. But they have been an alternative to the horrible governments of the US and Europe that have allowed a hand full of rich people to become wealthy beyond their wildest dreams and at the expense of the rest of us.

As I have told people here in the US, I have been to Cuba. It is a country that lacks the constant advertising and attempts to make money off of us, as here in the US. It was pleasant to get away from that. I met some prostitutes and other people, while I walked around the streets of Cuba, by myself. Yes in this foreign country I walked through working class neighborhoods, I walked into working class bars, I walked all over the various neighborhoods of Cuba and I would love to go back. 

Cuba was a wonderful place and nothing like the horror show that I have read about here in the US. Anyone who thinks they can learn more from a gusano than by a person like me, who took the time to walk around and actually meet Cubans, does not need me for a friend. If fact, I would never trust anyone like that.

So I will continue on and try and produce an important blog that brings people real and believable news of the world around us. I get nearly 800 to 1000 hits a month on that blog. I'd say we are doing something right. 

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