Firstly, I would like to thank all the comrades I’ve known over the years. Without your help and inspiration, without your constant advice and friendship, I would likely have given up. As they say about taking on our Cause, we should be prepared to fight an uphill battle. One that may last our entire lives, if need be. It is a daily fight, one many of us wage while immersed in Capitalist society. Truly, as any dedicated Communist may know, it is not an easy thing. So comrades, I am eternally grateful to the support you have all given me over the years.
Why Did I Follow This Path?
Ten years ago, when I was but a sixteen year old (someone who likely has not enough experience in the world), I had bought a silly little game called Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. Yes, that is right, I had started out to a degree as a “Red Alert Commie”. One of those persons who is not a real Communist, but an aesthetic fan. However, in an ironic fashion, this game made me ask a few questions: Who were the Soviets? What is Communism? What does it mean?
These questions, in turn, lead me to read Marx and Engels The Communist Manifesto. It was my first foray into what would eventually become my very outlook on life. I read, I used the still developing resources of the Internet (this was, after all, around the time of the “Dot Com” Bubble), and I asked questions of a few understanding teachers. For the most part, I perhaps gave myself a bit more attention then what is wise, and I was solidly persecuted by my peers. Frankly, I’m still not sure if any of them had the slightest clue of what Communism is. In time, I came to realize that Marx and Engels vision for the world, this semi-utopian science, had so much promise. To a person already at a disadvantage in the world, the idea of a more equal and just society was enthralling. Even today, it still makes me smile with the hope that our efforts will succeed.
On Struggle, Hardships, and History.
Of course, not all was (or still is) so clear. Being subjected to ignorant and spiteful comments while living everyday in the Capitalist heartland of America does make one question the wisdom of things. Should I have been as vocal? Should I have bothered even making it known what I was doing? Of course, the answer is yes. In hindsight, as always, we see far more clearly. Any great thing is not without it’s risks. We should never be afraid to show our colors. Even if it would mean death, I would still hold fast. Of course, outside of the social prejudices, there is the mountain of history behind Communism. In the mere seventy some years of “World Communism”, many bad things had been done. Many people had been killed, imprisoned, or exiled. Comrades Stalin and Mao alone are credited with the greatest mass murder in human history.
So, how does one look at all of this? How does one justify going on in such a way? How do you support something that has (according to “experts”) caused so much misery? You step back from it a bit. You study it some more and think on it. You always keep in mind the historic perspective. What is done, after all, is done. There is no changing that. You balance the ideal against the idols, and decide for yourself if the ideal is still worth upholding. In my case, even with the horrors committed, I could not deny that the ideal was sound. Equality for all. An end to gross wealth. One helping another. All of these things should be. And even if the world itself should have to burn to ashes for this to happen, I’d gladly light the fuse. Then, as now, I would pay any price for a better world to come about. Perhaps it is this dedication, this unquestioning belief in what is right, that has lead to some of the slaughter of the past. To be sure, it has. But nothing is without cost or risk. When we speak of the future of mankind, what are millions compared to the fate of an entire untold multitude of future beings?
Theory and Practicality.
Of course, it is all good to speak of theory. To speak of doctrine, ideals, and texts. But without actual practice of ideas, without being able to test these things in the arena of reality, we are merely dreamers. In the past, our practices have had both positive and negative results. But one must always keep in mind that our past comrades were challenged by the great work of doing something that had never been done. They were, for all their faults, pioneers. They took the theory laid down by Marx and Engels and made it reality. Lenin, that immortal genuis, expanded upon and modernized Marx. He adapted it to the distinct nature of Czarist Russia. And even though he was hampered many times along the way, Lenin and his comrades eventually succeeded in their cause. Using the principles of organization and commitment, following the examples of the Paris Commune, the 1905 Uprising, and the February Revolution, the Bolsheviks finally created the first socialist society.
It was through both theory and practicality that this was achieved. Today, of course, the world is much different. Over the past decade, I have witnessed first hand incredible changes. We all have. Due to the ever shifting nature of Capitalism, it is no longer the same foe Lenin fought. It certainly is no longer the same pervasive force Marx observed. As such, we all must take the historical view. We all must apply the historical perspective Marx preached to see how the modern landscape evolved, and where it’s weak points are. It is up to us to create practical methods to exploit these weaknesses while being mindful of our theories and foundations. The great ideal that is Marxism has always been our guide. We must never abandon it, but we must always remember the great wisdom of looking back and observing the “why” and “how” of the current world.
Of course, this applies to our own efforts as well. Our past comrades, as noted above, made mistakes. They could not have foreseen certain things, nor could they have gotten everything right the first time. Using the historical method, Communists the world over have concluded a few important things: 1) Most of Marx’s economic philosophy is no longer applicable, due to the vast difference in world Capitalism today from it’s much younger self in the 1840s. While Das Kapital is a wonderous study, and something any Communist should take the time to read, many of the works conclusions no longer hold up to scrutiny. 2) The Soviet experiment is not the Be-All, End-All of Communist practices. Marx and Engels themselves said it best: The revolution and the socialist society will be different form nation to nation, fitting the needs of that particular proletariat. Does this mean we should discard Marxism-Leninism, and call the whole thing a failure? No. It means, yet again, using the historical outlook, we need to realize what worked and what didn’t. There is no carbon copy, sure fire way to go about the creation of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. What we must do is study how it was achieved, and what we can take from that. We today must always look to the foundations of the past. In that manner, we will be all the better prepared to build the society of tomorrow.
On Living in the Belly of the Beast.
One of the more nettling challenges facing any Communist is to live within the Capitalist society. Many of us do. Each day, we play by their rules, and live our lives by their structure. It is, suffice to say, hard not to seem hypocritical at times. Unless we would seek to “go off the grid” as some of our environmentalist friends like to say, we have no choice but to deal with Capitalist life. In my experience this has been a rather complicated, and at times conflicting, reality. There are, of course, many things anyone can enjoy about the modern world and the lifestyle it offers. But we must keep in mind that it is a lifestyle and reality built upon exploitation and greed. Even as I type this, I am using one of the luxuries of Capitalist society: The Internet.
In that fashion, as we find ourselves surrounded by the enemy, as we are strangers in our own lands, we must also take inspiration once again from Lenin: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope from which we will hang them.” We must use every tool given to us by the bourgeois society and turn it against them. They, naturally, never anticipate their own “gifts” to the masses to be used as weapons. Today, we are a greatly interconnected world. One where mass communication in real-time grants us the ability to plan, organize, and fight back. Just recently, we have seen the effects of this in Egypt. The people took to the streets, used the various forms of communication, and overthrew a dictator. If there is anything Egypt teaches us, it is how to conduct a modern revolution.
Another challenge for me has been the general apathy my fellow Americans have. While many have spoken out and participated in my country’s past few elections, there is still an alarming amount of the age-old trend. While Americans certainly have become more politically aware, they are still blind to class struggle. As an American Communist, I have many times had conversation with co-workers, people I meet, and peers. None of them really understand their position in our Capitalist society, nor what it means to be in the working class. They have no identity or concern in this regard, and are thus blind to the daily exploitation in their own lives. With a great amount of patience and determination, I have had my small victories in this effort. But even after a solid conversation, many of those I spoke to still did not understand or care. It is this attitude that has come from the calculated efforts of the bourgeois masters, a pernicious and constant denunciation of class importance and class struggle. The people, by and large, have no opinion in this regard because they have always been told “ours is a different society”, where being middle class is the ideal. Where anyone can become a success. The masses have been tricked into ignoring the constant antagonisms that fill our everyday lives. In this fashion, we today have some work to do to reverse this. While I’m sure this phenomenon is not limited to the United States, it certainly seems to be strongest here.
As I look back on my decade long life in the movement, I realize that I have never had much experience in traditonal organization. While I have for a few years been a member of the Communist Party USA, I have never had much contact with those in the Party. The Party itself is no going in a direction I cannot follow, as it is hopelessly Revisionist. But for those I have met, and the conversations we’ve had, I am all the much stronger. While I’ve lacked being part of a dynamic Party or organization, I have learned. I have also never held a job where I was in a workers union. To that end, I have very little grasp on the labor movement and it’s own progressive efforts. It has been, by and large, something I wish I could have taken part in. Of course, many employers in the United States discourage unions. They punish those who seek to organize. I would know, I worked for Wal*Mart. If ever there is an anti-labor company, it would be them. So, while I have lacked the connection to organized labor, I have witnessed how our bourgeois foe seeks to combat labor. I have been witness to the tactics and strategy of Big Money and it’s goal to bust up organized labor and those who would support them.
Over the course of years, I have made an explicit point to study history and doctrine. I have read and re-read works, I have thought long and hard on some of the great questions of our cause. I have, as I do now, reflect on what I’ve done to further this cause. I am confident that while I have a lack of real experience in organization, I am grounded in the foundation of Communism. We do not need to be a member of a Party to do our work. We do not need to be officially in the labor movement to do our work. But, I will admit, these things can help and provide crucial support. In that sense, I have been very blessed to get to know and work with everyone in the Communist Party of DeviantART. While it is a small and informal organization, it has allowed for me to achieve some of what I feel will be my life’s true work. I myself have had the drive and impetus to see the CPDA mature from a mere gathering of artists into a loose, but dedicated community of people. We are spread across the world, our views are diverse and not always in harmony with one another. But in this way, I personally have been granted the opportunity to grow and learn in ways I never could have otherwise. So to you, my comrades, I thank you.
In solidarity and comradeship,