Disheartened Communist’s Fighting Spirit Revived by “Through the Fire and the Flames”

Ethem

İSTANBUL – As HDP campaigning carries on in the shadow of ongoing AKP repression, progressives across Turkey are redoubling their efforts to unite all poor and oppressed in a principled struggle against fascism on all fronts. One ordinarily disheartened communist has had his spirits lifted by British power metal outfit DragonForce’s hit 2006 track “Through the Fire and the Flames”:

“Most days I trend towards hopelessness, despair, and a belief that all my efforts are for naught and the fascists will invariably win,” explained Özgür Ğ in between handing out HDP propaganda to passers-by. “A vote for the HDP is a vote for fraternity and peace!” he shouted towards a curious crowd of onlookers, before turning back to our correspondent:

I would say I think about failure and death… most days. But ever since I heard that song about carrying on through the fire and the flames, it’s been stuck in my head, and I keep thinking: the fire and the flames are like the gunshot that killed Ethem Sarısülük. The carrying on? Well that’s you know… carrying on. In spite of that.

Some young students passing Özgür took some of his propaganda without his having to convince them, taking a swig of water he turned to our correspondent and smiling said: “the young comrades are the best, they are the hope for the future. If you ever think we won’t win, look to the young women with their fierce determination. They will lift up the struggle to heights you have never seen before.”

Some things seem really difficult, like victory in the face of fascist forces who have shown their readiness and willingness to take on the army in a reactionary-on-reactionary civil war. After the July 15th coup attempt, it’s easy to think we are weak and on the sidelines. It’s easy to imagine the red dawn will never come. You would think victory was impossible.

But then you hear Herman Li shredding on his fucking guitar on that “Fire and the Flames” track, all weedly-deedly-weedly-deedly, and it just makes you think: fuck it, communism will win. We will inscribe socialism into the 21st century.

Asked for his assessment of a likely body count from post-election violence, Özgür merely began bellowing Theart’s lyrics at our correspondent, which admittedly sound vaguely Stalingrad-ish if that’s your angle:

WHEN THE DARKNESS HAS FALLEN DOWN AND THE TIMES ARE TOUGH ALL RIGHT

THE SOUND OF EVIL LAUGHTER FALLS AROUND THE WORLD TONIGHT

FIGHTING HARD, FIGHTING ON FOR THE STEEL

At this point, Özgür merrily twirled his own Stalin-esque moustache and bounced further down the street.

However, by time of press, an argument with a belligerent Vatan Partisi uncle had re-convinced Özgür of the inevitability of failure, causing him to lapse back into depression, and could be seen sobbing in an alley, crying “it’s pointless, we’re all going to die!”, at which juncture an HDP friend grabbed him roughly by the shoulder and pantomimed an air guitar motion to bring him to his senses.

To this Özgür responded with an equally enthusiastic air guitar display of his own, and an off-key wailing:

THROUGH THE FIRE AND THE FLAMES WE CARRY OOOOOOOOON!

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Overcoming the Whitegeist

Whitegeist

“Why Trump? Why now? Why not Bernie?”

Don’t worry, US readers: this will not be yet another thinkpiece about how Donald Trump reflects the latent white supremacy of the settler-colonial Yankee national identity. This will not be yet another thinkpiece about how many of Donald Trump’s supporters are bourgeois. This will not be yet another thinkpiece which repeats that the Trump presidency is the means by which the crisis punishes all of the US for the victory of Clintonite status quo-ism over even the most modest reformism of Sanders.

You know these things already. The fact is, everyone knows these things. Everything under the sun is old and burnt.

Rather, let us dispense momentarily with a simple meditation, in lieu of a hot take. At this point, all but the most out-of-touch critic would agree that Bernie would, in fact, have won. But given that the objective conditions are such that Bernie did not in fact win, let us not forget how much of the blame lies precisely with political subjects such as Sanders and the Sandernistas for failing to see beyond the Whitegeist.

The Zeitgeist, as all of our readers know, is the spirit (Geist) of the age (Zeit). We are most concerned with the level of development of the masses, their collective consciousness and spirit. It does not suffice to consider oneself a meaningful political subject and not consider the objective reality of the development of the revolutionary masses. But who are the revolutionary masses In the United States? Quite simply, everyone except white people.

At this point, their biases against us confirmed, all the white leftists in the United States have stopped reading. But seriously, folks, nobody is actually preaching that there is no revolutionary potential in the struggles of “white” proletarians. And if they do appear to exist, they’re just Worker’s Spatula psyops.

In fact, just to be safe, assume that everyone on left Twitter discussing such matters is either a Spatula writer or a sockpuppet which is part of a Spatula psyop, depending on whether or not we unironically share the views they espouse or not.

Can we all stop talking about the problem of imaginary leftists condemning labour strikes because of the skin colour of white workers? How often has this actually obstructed your practice, if you’re reading this and actually have any practice (since most of the internet left has neither theory nor practice)?

However, many white leftists in the United States, particularly the Sandernistas and large sections of the DSA, but also some anarchists and Marxist-Leninists, seem to think that chauvinism is found only in explicit statements of condemnation for oppressed nations and identities or movements addressing said oppression. Strasserite chauvinism finds its reflection in an obsession by more honest socialists with saving the soul of white workers, no matter how chauvinist those workers might be.

“Oh so you’re saying all white workers are chauvinists?” Hell yes we are, every single one of them is chauvinist trash, no different to the KKK, and all non-white workers are pure vessels for the revolution, whose only flaw is not kicking white workers out of their unions screaming “beat it, whitey!”

But seriously, the editing process for this piece was inordinately held back by debating how many times we should insert a joke about how we hate all white people* or there are no white workers or whatever. The hyper-sensitivity on this point by white communists (particularly in the US) is so obnoxious and we wonder when they will stop it. We assure you: we have considered the class implications.

We all know Trump voters are not disproportionately the disenfranchised in this country. We all also agree that there should be a unity of struggle between the white proletariat and the oppressed nationalities. The problem is, to build a sincere solidarity after literally centuries of harsh national oppression, which is not merely a scar on historical memory but which creates a real hierarchy in economic reality, we must do so on the terms of the more oppressed and impoverished oppressed nationalities.

Occupy Wall Street began in 2011. Afro-Americans have been struggling for their most basic democratic rights since before there was a United States. It is not unreasonable to expect that in uniting the two struggles, the one should show due deference to the other.

But what is the response of the white left? To scold others for bringing up the national question, to speak of “One United American Working Class™”, to compare George Washington to Robespierre, and other such thinly-veiled patriotic nonsense, right as the US Empire is weakening for the first time since the end of the Cold War!

It is not only the DSA, who speak of the US as a “nation”, who do this, but even many ostensible Marxist-Leninists! While the Whitegeist in the US may be one step ahead of Occupy Wall Street, the Zeitgeist of the oppressed nations in the US is one step ahead of Black Lives Matter, is in Cooperation Jackson, is speaking about “decolonisation”. We struggle to unite these struggles of course, but the Whitegeist must be brought up to the level of the heroic oppressed peoples in the US, their struggle cannot be buried because the Whitegeist of the white working class (or intellectuals’ idealist conception thereof) is frightened of it!

Our hypocritical white US leftists insist that they support Black Lives Matter, that they “like” Malcolm X, that they name-drop Assata Shakur. Like anarchists, they use their individual lifestyle to cover up the essence of a more general theoretical critique; like social democrats, they assure us that Black America is on their mind, but we can’t divide the working class [vote?] by distracting precious white workers from their own precious white problems with anyone else’s “identitarian” non-white problems; like the liberals who worship Barack Obama, they want Black “allies” who validate their position as good white people and do not make them uncomfortable.

In short, these labour aristocratic settler-colonialist white leftists who have yet to face their own history and social position substitute their own consciousness for that of the revolutionary proletariat. They may be well-intentioned, but their good intentions are only an indication of of how far we can travel with them as individuals. They are no indication of the correctness of their analysis, which entirely substitutes their idealist and subjective conception of the working class for a critical dialectical process of material struggle of all workers and all oppressed.

There is a general tendency in the United States to characterise polemics such as this one, without using precisely this terminology, as “reverse racist”, or “anti-white”. The code-word used is “Third Worldist”. You would think, therefore, that those who demand that liberation of the oppressed be centred in the rhetoric of revolutionaries in the US are either idealists who don’t understand the material conditions of their own country, or foreign leftists who don’t understand that the objective conditions of struggle in the US are so undeveloped as to not be ready for this sort of revolutionary rhetoric.

And indeed, one of the writers who pushed this piece in committee did come from a country with wildly different economic conditions, political history, and culture.

Australia.

Yes, whatever you want to say about Socialist Alliance, and no Worker’s Spatula writer can pass up the chance to point out that Green Left Weekly, while a fine news source, simply has NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT HEGEL, but from the vantage point (Ollman lol) of Melbourne, it’s frankly startling to see how little the liberation of oppressed peoples means to white leftists in the US. It’s not as if we committed less genocide against the indigenous than the Yanks. If Yanks are under that impression, it’s simply because their settler-colonial society’s population has been bolstered by more immigration than ours.

And while it’s true that in Australia, Aboriginals are a greater portion of the population than the Indigenous nations in the United States, it’s equally true that the Afro-American people, who are subject to similar national oppression, are a much greater percentage of the overall population of the United States than the Aboriginals in Australia. Thus we can see that it is not that the white left are ignoring the oppressed peoples within “their own” borders based on irrelevance, but out of a chauvinism that even other settler-colonial peoples, such as the arch-racist white Australian society, are capable of overcoming on the radical left.

head-2018
Compare the CPA to the CPUSA and despair.

This is a clear example of the role subjectivity plays in shaping objectivity. If the white left in the US insists on tailing the Whitegeist, then they will see no objective need to embrace the liberation struggles of the oppressed peoples. If the white left in Australia overcome the Whitegeist, suddenly it becomes completely objectively obvious to them that there is a pressing need to embrace the struggle of the Aboriginals.

In fact, whether or not we had written this screed, things are in motion in the white left, and the Whitegeist itself is developing. Different elements of the white working class in the US will be driven towards fascism whether we intervene or those with a less full analysis intervene with a more vulgar class politics. But to intervene most correctly we hope all interested comrades will grasp the limitations into which they were socialised, struggle to overcome them, and take on the struggle of the oppressed peoples as their own, and by doing so, become themselves a living connection.

Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite!

*Although, you know, fuck white people.

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Fast Food Workers Told us the Five Worst Things about their Jobs

FastFoodWorkers

Fast food workers have a tough job, and nobody knows it better than us. From low pay to the long hours the low pay imposes, from heartless management to impatient customers, there’s good reason why “flipping burgers” is the go-to descriptor for undesirable minimum wage work. We spoke to workers across Australia whom we contacted through our top secret RaFFWU networks about the things in their line of work which make their lives the hardest, and we collected their answers into a convenient five-item list for the clickbait-hungry public!

5. Rude customers:

“I understand most of our customers are about as hungry, broke, and pressed for time as we are, and I wish they could see that in us, too! Sometimes we make mistakes on an order, and no matter how apologetic I am, there are some customers who want to use me as a verbal punching bag! It’s not right, I’m having a hard day too.

“Also, one time, we called out this woman’s order about eight times, and then moved on to calling out other orders. A few minutes later, she came up to the counter demanding to know where her order was, and when I said we had called it out, she said I should’ve given the number in English, as if anyone was speaking anything but. Then she demanded a refund even though her order was right there, ready to be taken! What satisfaction do people get from this sort of behaviour?”
–”Ayşe”, Hungry Jack’s, Roxburgh Park (Melbourne)

4. Mussolini management:

“My manager is the worst. In addition to the sexual harassment and the fact that he threw my copy of Pedagogy of the Oppressed into a bin because I left it in a public area, he’s a borderline fascist with our time! If we go a couple of minutes over on our break, he starts talking about ‘time theft’, but his nephew who he just hired can come in late and do nothing and we never hear a word.

“Besides, I wonder how ‘efficiently’ he’s using his time when he locks the door to his office and puts on music so we can’t hear what he’s up to? Fucking wanker.”
–Anita, KFC, Melbourne

3. The fucking SDA:

“The SDA are a bloody bosses’ union. They don’t speak for us, and it’s impossible to claim they are even winning reforms for proletarians like ourselves! I’ve been slipping RaFFWU propaganda into all my coworkers bags, and I haven’t been caught yet. We’re taking back our labour union movement, for the labourers!”
–Ali, Subway, Perth

2. The lack of consciousness of their coworkers of their potential as a political class:

“I work at the drive-in, and I can say the absolutely most unbearable thing is in between trying to hear the customers over the faulty speaker system, whenever I consider that even many of my coworkers who complain about their wages or hours or whatever are unaware that by formulating a theory and taking part in a practice which encompasses the totality of social struggle they can constitute a political class, namely the revolutionary proletariat, that can end exploitation and alienation as we know it!”
–Cindy, Red Rooster, Sydney

1. Modern revisionists and their fundamental lack of understanding of Marxist-Leninist categories of class analysis:

“The other day, my coworker Riley got upset because someone compared labour policies in Australia to those in China. His complaint was that China is socialist, and shouldn’t be compared to a capitalist country. I told him I considered China was not only not socialist, but was developing into an imperialist country. He scoffed at that, and when I asked him about the export of Chinese capital, he said ‘Why can’t socialist countries export capital? Do you want them to starve?’

“I couldn’t even tell what he meant by that, but then he said something about how China ‘can’t be imperialist because it hasn’t invaded any other countries’. It’s one thing to be ignorant about the PRC’s invasion of Vietnam, for example, but Lenin never theorised imperialism on the basis of its wars, imperialist wars are a natural outcome of the economic basis!

“How am I supposed to work with such people during the lunch rush?!”
–Karen, McDonalds, Canberra

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