We must firmly oppose and fight against social-chauvinist attitudes in the communist movement. Social-chauvinism in the hands of the peoples’ progressive organs of struggle is theoretical detritus dumped on the heads of the masses and a massive disservice to many comrades who are engaging in concrete struggles against atavistic/religious prejudice from the refuse of history. It is the continued persecution of homosexual, women and non-white comrades on the basis of atavistic trash. Social-chauvinism is the recreation of class divisions within the movement, it is the failure to tap into the contradictions of bourgeois society to broaden our ranks by drawing in people who are doubly or triply or quadruply exploited because of their skin color, nationality, gender or sexual preference. It is a lack of seriousness in the politics of revolution and is really just acquiescence to “traditionalist” and religious refuse from the sewer of human history. It is the implacable enemy of emancipation; it is the retention of class oppression within the household; it is the embodiment of irrational and anti-scientific notions; it is the lurid expression of base desires and catering to the lowest common denominator. It is rummaging in filth in the attempt to elevate garbage on the basis of ugly male bluster and bravado. It is assistance lent to the bourgeoisie, who are either lent a helping hand in further persecuting segments of the working class in the interests of dividing us against one another, or of casting themselves as the saviors of those segments of the working class (and therefore of casting the peoples’ revolutionary organs as the real reactionaries). It is, in many ways, really a way to tell the working class to drop dead.
For these reasons, a commitment to social-chauvinism and conservatism is a commitment to turning ourselves into a joke in the eyes of the masses. It is to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and to hand victory on a platter to the bourgeoisie. It is to defile ourselves as revolutionaries who serve the people and to become traitors who confuse the people, waste their time and deliver them to fascist politicians who then take up where we left off in peddling moral and theoretical detritus.
To oppose someone on the basis of their sexuality is to oppose them for no good reason; it is to cater to atavistic, feudal and religious backwardness, at the expense of and over and above the revolutionary vitality of the present movement. It is to dilute and fail to draw upon the resentments that capitalist society produces, on the thoroughly reactionary basis of attempting to preserve for oneself the benefits of the class relations that these oppressions embody. It is to behave like pitiful petty-bourgeois foot soldiers who expect their “due” for hardships suffered in the course of the revolution, and at the expense of other human beings and comrades who they should have been united with in common struggle in the first place.
Social-chauvinism, in short, is poison; utter, unambiguous, vile poison. It is a Trojan Horse laying in plain site, invited into our camp and ready to spring on us the seeds of our own defeat and to help perpetuate the hegemony of capital.
Social-chauvinism within the communist movement is a form of rank opportunism and tailism: tailing behind whatever sentiments the working class may have at a particular moment in order to curry their favor in the here and now, rather than developing the revolutionary consciousness of the working class and linking the short term to the long term.
As Lenin noted:
“The opportunist does not betray his party, he does not act as a traitor, he does not desert it. He continues to serve it sincerely and zealously. But his typical and characteristic trait is that he yields to the mood of the moment, he is unable to resist what is fashionable, he is politically short-sighted and spineless. Opportunism means sacrificing the permanent and essential interests of the party to the momentary, transient and minor interests.” —V. I. Lenin, “The Russian Radical is Wise After the Event” (Oct. 18, 1906), LCW 11:239.
Let’s not have racist communists who will fight the class war only to fight a race war. Let’s not have sexist communists who will fight the class war only to reassert their feudal “rights” as men to keep women down, to maintain women in their “roles”, to cast domestic violence as a “private” matter. Let’s not have homophobic communists who will fight the class war only to call for and act as enforcers for hetero-supremacy. Therefore, to all those who are reading this, I say: resolutely work to expose and overcome conservative and reactionary deviations in your movements. Work to overcome that which dilutes the revolutionary and emancipatory character of peoples’ organs of popular struggle. If you see a male comrade making lurid remarks about women comrades, or a white comrade making belittling remarks about “SJWs” or denigrating black and Latino workers as “anti-white”, patiently but clearly explain why their position is a poison to the cause they claim to be championing. Explain why, in the long term, their position is self-destructive and strategically stupid.
Having said all that, please understand what I am NOT saying: I am not saying that because we support women’s emancipation, the rights of homosexuals and an end to racism, that we should support bourgeois imperialist politicians donning the mantle of these causes. We should not degenerate into imperial chauvinists when, for example, Hillary Clinton makes some pronouncement about women’s liberation. We should never side with imperialism, no matter what humanitarian or progressive garb it is wearing. As Che said: imperialism is not to be trusted, not one iota! We should never side with “our” imperialism against the comparatively minor imperialism of the Russian state on the basis of support for persecuted homosexuals in Russia. Women’s rights, homosexual’s rights, the rights of people of color: none of these causes should ever be beholden to support for imperialism. We support the struggles of the Russian working class, but we do not support all of its backward ideas. We support the struggles of homosexuals and women in Russia, the struggles of revolutionaries fighting to bring clarity on the questions to the Russian masses, but not by hiding behind “our” imperialist governments’ military confrontations with Russia. It is the duty of all communists to oppose, undermine and bring about the defeat of the imperialist wars waged by “our” imperialists. We ruthlessly oppose the bourgeois notion that the highest honor is to serve “one’s own” imperialist country. As the Indian Maoist peoples’ armed forces say, “To die for the masses is loftier than Mt. Everest! To die for the exploiters is lighter than a feather!” Those of us who live in the imperialist centers must serve the victims of imperialism and those under its foot at the expense of the interests of “our” imperialist bourgeoisie; when we begin aligning with and cheering on the imperialist bourgeoisie, we become despicable traitors to the world’s masses, enemies of humanity and worthless renegades more concerned with our own comfort and well-being than with the emancipation of the world’s masses.
Finally, I am NOT saying that racial and sexual politics should take “precedence” over class politics. I am saying that in our struggles, in our recruitment efforts, in our agitation and propaganda, we should stress the relations between race, sex and class and how these inter-penetrate; we should explain and reveal to the working class (and make concrete to them through their own experiences) how class relations produce racist and sexist attitudes and how these attitudes in turn reinforce and buttress class oppression and exploitation. A crude and exclusive class determinism and focus is as inappropriate for guiding the work of an authentic revolutionary communist party and movement as one that smothers over class realities in favor of a cozy accommodation with imperialists who dangle identity politics in front of women, homosexuals and people of color in order to curry their favor. We oppose all such opportunist trends. We are for identity politics, but not just any identity politics; we are for an identity politics that properly situates class and imperialism in relation to class and sex, that listens to and prioritizes the struggles of the most marginalized and oppressed, that brings their perspectives into our movement and gives those people who are multiply oppressed by capitalism, sexism and social-chauvinism a leading role in these movements, rather than dancing around their experiences as “something that the working class doesn’t give a shit about” (note also that the latter sentiment is in fact a contemptuous slur against the working class, in painting it as a social force that cares only for its own immediate material satisfaction. Yes, the working class may at present be mostly concerned with its own immediate problems, but this is nothing to emulate; it is a thoroughly reactionary, bourgeois perspective instilled into the working class in the course of living in a bourgeois society, and that is something that we must fight resolutely to overturn. The point, from the perspective of revolutionary Marxism, is to fight to turn the working class into a force for universal emancipation rather than merely one that aims to put food on its table, pay its medical bills and then be done for the day. Otherwise, we just end up handing the working class over to gutter racist trash like Donald Trump who promises to be “pro-working class” through the lure of pigging out at the imperial trough, “bringing back jobs” and destroying the environment. And what’s the message there? That it’s alright for the working classes in the imperialist centers to benefit from the plunder and oppression of the semi-colonial countries so long as American workers (white heterosexual ones, at least) can pay their electricity bills and put food on the table? No, this is simply imperial-chauvinist opportunism, something that binds one to the imperialist bourgeoisie, whether one votes for an atavistic garbage monster like Trump or for a reformist-liberal “socialist” like Bernie Sanders (who aims to open the imperial franchise to people of color).
The only remedy, the only consistent and truly universal and emancipatory program for doing away with racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, religious-chauvinism and capitalism is to unite the working class around a revolutionary movement and party that focuses on all issues that affect it, encompassing both “strictly economic” problems, to problems having to do with race, sex, culture and other forms of identity, and to link all of this to the question of imperialism. A revolutionary checklist would have to ensure that:
1) If the movement is focusing on economic problems but ignoring and even belittling other problems, and taking social-conservative and chauvinist takes on them, it needs to be rectified.
2) If it is focusing on issues of race and sex but ignoring those of class, it needs to be rectified.
3) If it is addressing both social and economic problems faced by the working class, but airbrushing over the core question of imperialism, it needs to be rectified.
If these negative currents are not fixed, these movements will collapse, become diverted to serving reactionary and/or imperialist ends, and will become useless husks in so far as revolutionary politics are concerned, mere playthings in the hands of the bourgeoisie. Those who fail to heed these warnings are themselves taking a bourgeois stand by refusing to engage with material reality and instead mistaking their personal wishes and prejudices for reality. They are partaking in soothing delusions about the task at hand by cutting corners and doing shoddy workmanship on the vehicle of communist politics. The working class doesn’t need any more soothing delusions in this world of imperialist war, environmental despoliation, brutal and hateful class divisions and theoretical muddle; it needs a strategic outlook that brings a scythe to bear against all backward and bourgeois trash and binds together all progressive social struggle into a colossal fist to smash this disgusting capitalist system, and all its filth, once and for all.