Criticism and self-criticism are key aspects of any logical and scientific revolutionary theory. It is one of the ways revolutionary theory does not stay stagnate, static, isolated in one place and time. Without criticism and self-criticism, any movement or organization is bound to suffer greatly. Without it, there is no chance of anything moving forward whatsoever. But there is a difference between criticism and pure shaming.
Criticism is made when ignorance or deviation from the proper scientific path is noticed, and whoever notices it gives critical advice, so as to help the ignorant see the error of their ways and the logic in the truly scientific approach. It is done, not with raging anger or demeaning arrogance, but with the goal of helping whoever has committed the fallacy, and in order to prevent the same fallacy from being committed in the future.
Shaming, on the other hand, is argument for argument’s sake. It is ruthless and cold. It has no goal but to make the target feel internally guilty and flawed. It is telling the other that they are incurably wrong in every way. It does not aim to fix any issue, but only to garner self-gratification by attempting to mentally and emotionally destroy another person or group.
In some cases, it is true, when the criticized party continues their usually-reactionary actions, criticism takes a much harsher form. But that is for the purposes of warning others of any dangers this person or group raises to the movement for working class revolution. That isn’t to say that most of us are not guilty of shaming: I am guilty of this. Consider this a self-criticism as well as an outward criticism.
So-called ultra-leftism has historically been a tool of reactionary forces; from Bakunin’s anti-Semitic arguments against “authoritarianism”, to the Krostadt Rebellion(which was aided by the proto-fascistic White Army), to Trotsky working with the Mexican and US governments in trying to liquidate the communist forces. Today, some elements of the various ultra-leftist trends are doing their own kind of sectarian, counterrevolutionary work.
Now, I want to say this while(or if) I still have your attention: I do not consider all of those who label themselves as one of the ultra-leftist tendencies(anarchists, libertarian socialists, etc.) as being guilty of these actions I am about to criticize. Though I, of course, have some pretty big differences with these tendencies in general, I do not consider every ultra-leftist to be a full-on reactionary.
Shaming is now, evidently, a hot new trend within some small factions of the ultra-“left”. Some childish adults with too much time on their hands have taken it upon themselves to “purify” the Left by outright slandering the tendencies and individuals they personally dislike. Though these factions have created some semblance of “officialdom” by forming parties and organizations each consisting of tiny cliques of politically-identical people, they do not seem to take part in any form of political activity other than slandering and shaming every other section of the Left.
These aren’t genuine, civil criticisms, they are grade-school bullying tactics on steroids. The self-righteous perpetrators are not looking to point out flaws from a scientific position, but are only wishing to demean, to belittle, to shame. Basic psychology proves that these kinds of attacks do not fix the problem within the individual, much less in the grander scheme of societal norms.
We Marxist-Leninists, the primary targets of these immature attacks, are not opposed to working with other tendencies or organizations, so long as they do not act in ways identical to the fucking FBI. I work locally with many libertarian socialists and a few anarchists, people I consider friends, who I would trust with my life. There aren’t even a handful of Marxist-Leninists in my city. I work with the revolutionary(as opposed to reformist) folks in my city, and most of them are not even Marxist-Leninists.
But, to the ultra-leftist ultra-sectarians, working with Marxist-Leninists, or anyone outside of their personal preferred clique, is totally out of the question, which leaves them with zero actual revolutionary activity to be done. The only political work they accomplish is the creation of unfunny memes slandering anyone and everyone they disagree with. There is even a Facebook page(Facebook page just rings of real political work) called “Antita” – meaning, “anti-Tankie”, “Tankie” being a new popular word referring to anyone these five dudes on social-media hate.
There are imperialists slaughtering innocents all over the world, bourgeois dictatorships the world over, but these factionalists can find no other target for their rage besides anti-imperialist, pro-proletarian parties, individuals, and movements. One of the reasons for these slanderous, shameful attacks is the Marxist-Leninist assumed-uncritical support for anti-imperialist states in the world. There are two very big problems with the “reasoning” of the attackers: 1) it naturally comes with the assumption that the revolutionary forces of the world should take “neither side”, no matter what, and on any and every issue in almost any and every place; and 2) it is a claim that would mean the targeted parties, individuals, and movements are all physically and materially supporting all of the various anti-imperialist states(and their so-called “atrocities”). Not to mention that this all comes with another assumption: that the reactionary, bourgeois media and intelligentsia is 100% correct in their accusations against regimes they do not like.
Another large hole in these “uncritical criticisms” is the fact that many, or most, of the targeted parties have their own criticisms of the various anti-imperialist states. The American Party of Labor is a frequent target of these attacks(how flattering that you’ll think of the APL while attempting your amateur insult-comedy and creating your memes), despite taking a completely scientific approach to analyzing the existing revolutionary, anti-imperialist states. Indeed, as I pointed out at the beginning of this entry, a crucial part of Marxism-Leninism is this kind of cautionary approach to calling anything truly socialistic.
But these slanderers’ view of the anti-imperialist states is entirely bourgeois and chauvinistic. Therefore, so is their view of pretty much every socialist organization. When a person’s or group’s sole goal is the attack and shaming of the entire Left, it should be pretty damn clear who they are fighting for. Whether they’ll admit it to themselves or not, they are, in any case, doing the work of the capitalist-imperialists for them. If they aren’t feds, they might as well be.
In this day of social upheaval and unrest, of the masses taking action and rising up, of the imperialists upping their oppression domestically and abroad, it is critical that the revolutionary Left not split hairs or take part in such counter-productive and despicable infighting. Those supposed “leftists” who do, and in such immature and petty ways, spend every waking moment trying to rip the revolutionary forces to pieces, must be exposed and rightfully criticized for working towards the very same goals as the bourgeois-imperialist states – that is, the factionalizing of the Left and the annihilation of any force actively fighting imperialism. And when these childish slanderers do not cease in their anti-leftism(in a transparently-fake “leftist” disguise), they must be likewise attacked as the bourgeois-liquidators that they are. For, while the revolutionary movement should stay civil in criticisms within itself, the bourgeoisie and its allies deserve no mercy.
I look forward to this post possibly being featured on one of the “anti-tankie” pages. It would be an honor to be shown in a meme-based comedy sketch, and it will only prove the point of this criticism I have given even more. So, thanks, bro, for the affirmation of my analysis. It really wasn’t very hard – your reactionary characteristics speak for themselves.