i was thinking about 'authoritarianism' today
any principled Marxist would not dismiss the errors of the USSR or China in the full sequence of their proletarian revolutions. but for skeptics to place the magnifying glass over these powers that are/were laboratories for the socialist transformation of society and remove it from the horrors spewing forth from just the last 100 years alone of global capitalism and Western imperialist aggression is pretty telling about a person’s intent.
the US’s crimes, along with western Europe’s, far exceed the worst atrocities that could be elsewhere mentioned about any other dominant ideology (things that are not capitalism and market economy) in human existence. should we discuss the history of colonial genocide of millions of the indigenous population of the Americas? the far right coups and their death squads in Central and South America that the US funded and orchestrated? WW1, WW2 and the Nazi holocaust? the European colonial r*pe of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East? the wholesale destruction of Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and too many countries to name in the Middle East but namely Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and of course Palestine? and that’s not even counting the exploitation, coercion, and domination the owning classes in Western countries enforce on their own proletarian inhabitants. so the list goes on.. but hey, let’s throw in not 1 but 2 atomic bombs just for completeness.
Marxism isn’t some religion. it’s not book worship or a cult of personality - Mao himself wrote a pretty compelling essay on the dogmatism this creates called “Oppose Book Worship.”
Marxism is the science of social analysis. of the historical/cultural/political progression of society and the forces/relations of production that undergird it. guys like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and others, used this scientific methodology to understand the conditions of their own time period and create the necessary means for the continuation of the revolutionary class struggle. their former domestic feudal/bourgeois oppressors, as well as the constant imperialist threat from the West (and imperial Japan), had every reason to oppose this societal transition - namely because they benefited from the then-present conditions.
all revolutions have required non-violent as well as (unfortunately) violent struggle against State repression. that’s obvious, right? well then if that’s true, what’s so special about guys like Mao or Stalin? the fact that people get so upset with these two individuals in particular and not others such as Pinochet or Suharto, for 2 quick 20th century examples, shows how effective CIA and anticommunist propaganda in general has been in the US.
the transition from capitalist society - rule by the capitalist class - toward the beginnings of socialist society - rule by the working class - necessitates the defense of this movement from internal bourgeois counterrevolution as well as foreign imperial intervention. and that, again unfortunately, requires some “authoritarian” measures through various State mechanisms to protect the transition. and sometimes that shit is violent. they don’t call it ‘class struggle’ for nothing folks.
one of the features of liberalism is to attach a kind of essentialist character to “authoritarianism” and denounce it as some sort of pure evil in and of itself; and i think this is because liberalism is an ideology that 1) lacks a meaningful analysis of power, and 2) is embedded in a morality that serves the interests of the bourgeoisie. i hate to be the one to tell you this, but sometimes, power is necessary to wield. that’s a fact. and that’s why “authoritarianism” isn’t just some evil method of governance. it certainly CAN be... but especially in periods of intense upheaval, it is necessary. why do you think nearly all the successful proletarian revolutions (with the main exception being the Spanish Revolution of 1936 and the anarcho-syndicalist labor union movement) were the ones that used Marxism-Leninism, so-called ‘authoritarian communism,’ as the engine for its movement? because MLism works - at least, when not being aggressively sabotaged.
back in my anarchism days, i used to be fascinated by applications of authority. and even though i’m not an anarchist anymore, i still think studying anarchist thinkers is important. consider this useful way to think about authority or authoritarianism in general, from Chomsky: “The core of the anarchist tradition, as I understand it, is that power is always illegitimate, unless it proves itself to be legitimate. So the burden of proof is always on those who claim that some authoritarian hierarchic relation is legitimate. If they can't prove it, then it should be dismantled.”
and if it CAN justify itself? then it’s time to raise hell and praise Dale.
as a closing thought… the bazillions of deaths people like to throw around as the “victims of communism” (i.e. the black book of communism) are counted in a very suspect way or are related to famines (like the so-called Holodomor), which isn’t some essential feature of socialism. there have been plenty of famines - under slavery, feudalism, and yes, even capitalism. big numbers isn’t always the gotcha people think it is.
again, were Mao and Stalin paragons of leadership? not for everyone. but paragons of leadership don’t actually exist anyways (except for Thomas Sankara of course), which is why Great Man Theory is bullshit. revolution is always messy - don’t fall for it when people only want you to look at other people’s poopy diapers and not their own. so it’s time we start shutting the fuck up about Stalin and Mao and move on, while understanding that socialism is going to look very different in every single future iteration it’s attempted - which is a good thing.