Kevin Rashid and First Worldism: Straw Men are Easy to Kill

Kevin Rashid has again posted, what he sees in his own mind, as a “refutation” of the Third Worldism.[1] This blog post is similar to the last where he misrepresents the Third Worldist line in order to attack it. Such a tactic is as common for him as it is for others who oppose our line. A genuine struggle of ideas cannot take place with such people when they are so open with their dishonesty. It would appear to me, as well as others, that their reliance upon such tactics speaks to the weakness of the attacker and their ignorance of Third Worldist theory. So once again allow me to refute the nonsense of Kevin Rashid on Third Worldism. I hope to receive a real response instead of (in another case) being childishly told to “go to Lin Biaoist Hell.”[2]

What Rashid is doing here is the same as others who so fraudulently attack Third Worldism. They are doing what was described in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution as “waving the red flag to oppose the red flag”. They are presenting a reactionary line masked as Marxism to attack a correct one. I think this description is further reinforced by the dishonesty of their attacks. A description of “waving the red flag to oppose the red flag” is made as follows:

“Playing the main role in this adverse current were the representatives of the bourgeoisie who had sneaked into the Party. They waved “red flags” to oppose the red flag and donned the cloak of Marxism-Leninism, of Mao Tse-tung’s thought, to oppose Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse-tung’s thought. Dressing themselves up as “authorities” on Marxism, as “authorities” clarifying the Party’s policies, they wantonly spread poison and deceived the masses. They took advantage of their positions and powers, on the one hand to let loose all kinds of monsters, and on the other hand to suppress the counter-attacks of the proletarian Left. They are a bunch of schemers who put up the signboard of communism behind which they actually peddled anti-Party and anti-socialist poison. They are a most dangerous bunch.”[3]

The First Worldist line is entirely out of date and no longer corresponds to the reality, the material conditions of the world today. By waving this “red flag” attempting to appeal to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, he is dogmatically asserting a line that is incorrect and does not lead to revolution. This is an attempt to block a line that is correct, and thus far, he has not been able to argue against. What Rashid is doing is sabotaging a real revolutionary line in favour of a dogmatic out of date one. I think this is also made clear by the weakness of the attacks launched upon Third Worldism.

Again with the Strawman

Dishonesty seems to be the stock and trade for Kevin Rashid. He begins immediately by attacking positions that Third Worldists don’t support. He and other First Worldists have already been told by myself[4], the Maoist International Movement[5], and the Leading Light Communist Organization[6] in different replies that these particular accusations are false. Yet, despite having been corrected multiple times, and failing to point to any place where we have said this, he continues to repeat it knowing it is a lie. But let us start from the beginning of his “argument”.

He begins by saying that he has read Divided World, Divided Class by Zak Cope.[7] However instead of gleaming something from the magnificent book, he instead uses it as a basis for attacking Third Worldism. “Lots of worthy research went into Cope’s book, but the end conclusion, like the typical line of other Third Worldists, is that workers in the First World are not exploited and there is no basis for socialist revolution here.”[8] The problem begins with the fact that we, nor Zak Cope have ever said that there is no exploitation in the First World. Even if he had, Zak Cope doesn’t speak for all Third Worldists. He gives an amazing work that highly supports the general Third Worldist line. Now despite the assertion by Rashid, Zak Cope specifically says the opposite about exploitation on the third page of the book.

“Part II of the book argues (in abstraction from the reality of institutional discrimination against immigrant and minority ethnic populations favouring white workers) that, in the context of the contemporary capitalist world system, little or no legal exploitation takes place within First World borders. […]”[9]

This passage is on the third page of the book. Literally the third page of preface. It seems that Rashid hasn’t even read the preface to the book, let alone the book itself. If the proof of a claim being false can be found so quickly: One clearly did not read the work, or they are lying.

His strawmanning of the Third Worldist line continues in the same paragraph.

“[…] Basically the theory is that goods from the Third World are so cheap that it more than offsets the surplus labor extracted from First World workers and makes them exploiters of the Third World.

Of course, it doesn’t affect shit if you can’t afford to buy these goods, but you can make statistics dance to your tune if you play with them enough. […]”[10]

Actually the book states far more than that as a basis for First World “workers” being a labour aristocracy. It is vastly more than there being cheap commodities for First Worlders to purchase. Cope’s book lays out (as well as many Third Worldists) how the super-exploitation of Third World people actually subsidizes the much higher wages of First World “workers”. These cheaper commodities provide an incredibly higher standard of living. The way in which Rashid expresses this makes it appear as though it is minor, something of little relevance. In fact it’s quite important, especially when we consider how this super-exploitation is also necessary to stave off a falling rate of profit that was (and is) very clearly taking place.[11] To deny this super-exploitation as significant is to deny the reality of basic Marxist economics with regards to crisis theory.

Rashid rate of profitAnother point I’d like to make against Rashid here is that, while it doesn’t mean much if people can’t afford them; they in fact can and do afford them. The sales of these commodities are certainly there and the profits are being made. The data tells us that this is true. The rates of profit are falling, but the mass of profits are doing just fine.[12] The sales of these commodities are certainly being made.

Rashid mass of profitsFinally on this subject I’d like to point out that Cope produces a great deal of data confirming what he lays out in the book. Now if Rashid is so certain that the data is twisted to say what Cope wants, and therefore wrong, can he please tell us how it is wrong? I’ve tried to interpret the data differently myself and don’t see any errors or particular contexts to it. Since Rashid is confident enough to just offhandedly disregard Cope’s work here, I think it would be beneficial for him to produce some kind of argument as to why Cope’s data is wrong. Rashid doesn’t do that, he doesn’t make an argument. He merely asserts that Cope’s work is wrong without backing it up.

Rashid’s falsehoods continue:

“The bottom line is this purely theoretical revisionist Marxism (which deviates from authentic Marxist philosophy—namely dialectical materialism), is all about justifying not doing revolutionary work in the First World—allowing the bourgeoisie and counter-revolution to reign by default—and awaiting revolution in the Third World to topple capitalist imperialism for us.”[13]

Rashid asserts that the Third Worldist position, particularly as it pertains to Cope’s writings are “purely theoretical”, meaning they have no basis. If this is truly the case why hasn’t he presented an argument for it? He has dismissed the Third Worldist position on a mere assertion. In addition, if this supposedly violates dialectical materialism, how? He gives no reason. I would argue that it certainly does not. In simple terms we can easily see a quantitative in qualitative change. The divide between the rich countries and the poor countries has grown. Since Marx’s time the wealth gap between The First and Third World has increased from 3:1 in 1820 to today at an astonishing 72:1.[14] Over time that gap increased going through quantitative changes. These increased until they forced a qualitative change. That qualitative change was the development of living conditions and benefits of imperialism that negated the revolutionary potential of First World people.

I think we genuinely do have a theory that corresponds to reality. There is the big question as to why the First World masses have not been revolutionary since the 1930s, at least in the United States. (This is excluding the Original Black Panthers as they were a small portion of the proletariat. They were not a group that consisted of the proletariat as a whole.) It’s very clear that revolution did not take place in the advanced industrialized nations as Marx predicted. Instead they happened in the less developed countries. Even Russia was very backward for Europe.

We as Third Worldists do not advocate doing nothing in the First World. Neither myself, nor MIM, nor the LLCO has ever argued such a position. The LLCO for instance has denounced such a position producing a work titled “Do Nothingism is counter-revolutionary”[15] All three of us hold the position that there must be revolution in the Third World and resistance in the First World. We the people of the First World live in “the belly of the beast” to paraphrase Che Guevara. We push a line of giving the beast a stomach ache in order to create weaknesses in imperialism that allow breathing room for Third World groups to carry out revolution. The anti-war movement in the U.S. is a good place to start. Any attempt to end the imperialist wars and end their accompanying occupations creates better conditions for Third World people to struggle. I hold this same line as does MIM. We do not advocate sitting around doing nothing. We believe in not wasting resources on a revolution that can’t happen in the First World. We instead choose to assist those struggles which are revolutionary. This is quite far from what Rashid has claimed here.

“This line dogmatically and mechanically recognized only one of three contradictions with V.I. Lenin and others recognized inhere in the political economy of imperialism, namely the contradiction between the First World and the Third World’s (neo)colonized peoples. The two other contradictions that exist/ yet go ignored by the Third Worldists are the contradictions between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat (especially within the First World countries,) and the contradictions and rivalries between the various competing and cooperating imperialist powers.[16] These contradictions also factor in the struggles to defeat imperialism and achieve world socialist revolution.”[17]

This is just a completely false statement. We Third Worldists have never taken such a stance. I would like very much for Rashid to provide some kind of source for this demonstrating any Third Worldist group following this line. What we actually believe is that imperialism between the First and Third World is the primary contradiction. We see that imperialism has changed from Marx, Lenin, and Mao’s time. Instead of having various imperialist power just competing with each other, we now have a good deal of cooperation across imperialist countries with a common goal of suppressing the Third World. This comes from much of financial capital no longer being tied as a single national capital. As an example we can look at Goldman Sachs, a financial capitalist entity that exists in almost all of the world’s countries. Goldman Sachs has investments in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Korea, Russia, Spain, Brazil, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, China, and all over Latin America and Europe.[18] They push for war in places where they don’t have an interest. Places like Cuba, North Korea, Iran, various Africa countries, etc. Capital is no longer restrained to a single national interest as it was in Lenin’s day. This is why we have seen a halt to the reoccurring cycles of World Wars that Lenin theorized.[19] He wasn’t wrong, he was correct for the level of development of capitalism of his time. We make no denial of the internal contradictions of countries, we believe in them similarly to Mao. Our difference is that we see a qualitative change in the contradiction between the imperialist and the oppressed countries. This is just another baseless assertion by Rashid.

“It is true of course that everyone in an imperialist country derives some benefit from imperialism, but this doesn’t mean that the majority couldn’t derive more benefit from global socialism, elimination of war, for example, or avoiding ecological crisis; not to mention the elimination of poverty, racism, sexism, police repression and theocracy. All of which cry out for solutions right here in the First World, around which a revolutionary line, program, and movement could and needs to be built.”[20]

It’s good that Rashid acknowledges that there is an imperialist benefit as it seems to be lacking sometimes. However as we have seen it is not “some benefit”, it is actually quite a lot. I refer to the previously mentioned wealth gap between the First and Third World of 72:1. This is not “some benefit” it is an astronomical amount. This is a great understatement by him. It should also be noted that First World people would materially lose out in a global redistribution of wealth. If the entire world lived as Americans, we would need five plant Earths of resources to make it happen.[21] Combine this with the wealth inequality and we see that the First World has to drop tremendously. Such a gigantic global redistribution of wealth would take decades to complete. Sure, First World people would be happy to be rid of war, ecological crisis, racism, sexism, police repression and theocracy. But what are we talking about in terms of poverty? American lower class is still much higher than what is considered middle-class in the Third World. In fact, a worldwide wealth study shows that the United States literally is the 1% of the globe.[22] More than half of the world’s richest people live in the US. Astoundingly, it only requires $34,000 USD a year per person after taxes to qualify as part of the global 1%. The First World would lose and astronomical amount of wealth. The insane rates of waste that the First World carries out would mean an unacceptable reduction in privilege.[23] First World “workers” wouldn’t be able to accept such a loss. They would revolt against the revolution to bring back the old ways of excess at the expense of the Third World. Had Rashid actually read Divided World, Divided Class he would has seen such information for himself.

Finally here Rashid gives two quotes from Marx and Engels which state that despite the fact English workers benefitted from colonialism, they still had revolutionary potential. These quotes are correct and not taken out of context. However we are supposed to be taking these quotes as a refutation of the Third Worldist line, which they are not. Our line is that things are different from Marx, Lenin, and Mao’s time. The divide in wealth between the imperialist countries and the occupied countries has under gone a qualitative change which renders the First World people devoid of revolutionary potential. Thus simply quoting Marx and Engels doesn’t provide a refutation at all. They were not speaking of our time, they were speaking of their own. To refute the Third Worldist argument you would have to demonstrate that First World people still did have revolutionary potential, not just Quote Marx and Engels. How is it that despite the very real qualitative change, First World people supposedly still have revolutionary potential? Rashid doesn’t answer this question at all. In fact he avoids it entirely.

Regardless of this, his quotes come from around 1870. I can give a newer quote by Engels that says the opposite of that Rashid’s quotes say. Engels outright says the English proletariat is not revolutionary.

“Do not on any account whatever let yourself be deluded into thinking there is a real proletarian movement going on here. . .

“And–apart from the unexpected–a really general workers’ movement will only come into existence here when the workers are made to feel the fact that England’s world monopoly is broken.

“Participation in the domination of the world market was and is the basis of the political nullity of the English workers. The tail of the bourgeoisie in the economic exploitation of this monopoly but nevertheless sharing in its advantages, politically they are naturally the tail of the “great Liberal Party.””[24]

In fact we can go back to some quotes from before the ones Rashid gave where Engels was questioning the revolutionary potential of the English workers.

“The English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that the ultimate aim of this most bourgeois of all nations would appear to be the possession, alongside the bourgeoisie, of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat. In the case of a nation which exploits the entire world this is, of course, justified to some extent.”[25]

No matter what quotes you use, they do not confirm, nor do they refute the Third Worldist position that the global wealth divide has produced different material conditions than Marx’s time. Rashid’s response to the Third Worldist line does nothing to respond to it.

Presupposition is Not an Argument

The next section of Rashid’s work is worse than the first. Here he attempts to show that Third Worldism is merely blaming people for their own oppression. This criticism makes no sense, we make no such accusation. What Rashid is really doing is, instead of arguing against the Third Worldist line, he is merely pre-supposing it to be incorrect and attacking it. Instead of showing how there is a revolutionary potential in the First World, he blasts Third Worldists for not believing there is one. This isn’t much different than a creationist saying that the Theory of Evolution is wrong because it doesn’t take God into account. I will elaborate on what I am saying.

He says:

“[…] we can also say Third World workers are complicit in the exploitation of their own countries, their peasants and so on. We can say the Chinese masses were complicit in the overthrow of Socialism in their country and in the imperialism being practiced in Afrika and elsewhere by China. Much the same could be said of the Russian masses.

“We can play the blame game all night long!

“We can blame slaves for being complicit in their slavery, wimyn in their oppression, and rape victims in their rape. We can blame New Afrikans/Blacks and Browns in Amerika for being complicit in the militaristic and murderous police occupation of their communities because, for lack of other available options, they must call upon the same forces to respond to their community’s otherwise unmet security needs.

“Does a worker go to the unemployment office and say, “I want to be complicit in the system of global imperialism, what have you got for me?”[26]

Aside from the unnecessary obnoxiousness of this passage, no, actually you couldn’t say that. Rashid’s words here are terribly misleading. We Third Worldists say that because of the inaction of First World “workers” they reinforce imperialism. The point is that they don’t engage in because they have accepted concessions which alter their material conditions making them unrevolutionary. This simple fact should be obvious to Rashid. This answer from Rashid proceeds from the premise that First World people are revolutionary and that we agree with this. This is false, he is presupposing us to be wrong in order to attack us. Instead he should be showing how these First World “workers” are supposedly revolutionary. He is presupposing the very thing it is he’s trying to prove. He is not making an argument at all.

It’s a false comparison anyway. We are saying that First World people are in a class separate from Third World people who aid in that oppression. This line says it all, “We can blame slaves for being complicit in their slavery, wimyn in their oppression, and rape victims in their rape.” The women and their rapists are two different groups. Rashid is proceeding from the premise that First and Third World people are the same. No, he would have to demonstrate that they are the same. He is instead proceeding on the false assumption that we Third Worldists think they’re the same group. I could do the same thing to Rashid’s First Worldist line by accusing him of thinking that women and their rapists are allied together as having the same interest in rape. That would be wrong, as one wants to end rape and the other wants to cause it. This is a deliberate misdirection Rashid has made rather than making an argument.

“People are struggling to get by as best they can. Shoppers don’t ask why one item costs more than a seemingly identical one, they buy the cheapest, or maybe the more expensive one hoping it is of a better quality.”[27]

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, or how it’s related to First and Third World struggle.

After this Rashid switches gears and returns to making strawman arguments once again misrepresenting the Third Worldist line.

“Imperialism consciously chose to bribe sectors of the masses in the imperialist counties with various concessions (economic, political and otherwise), to avert the threat of socialist revolution on its home grounds and to sell its goods to consumers. And the Third Worldists are content to concede this ground to the imperialists, allowing them and counter-revolution to reign by default. So whose complicity is really counter-revolutionary and criminal? The Third Worldists or First World workers? As Mao observed, it is the role of revolutionary leaders to “create public opinion and seize power” — the opposite of the Third Worldist line of allowing the imperialists a free hand in manipulating public opinion and ceding power to them.”[28]

It’s true that imperialism bribed First World “workers” with higher living standards, easier lives, and social democratic reforms “to avert the threat of socialist revolution”. You’ll get no argument from me there, the offer certainly was made. Rashid claims that us Third Worldists have conceded “this ground to the imperialists, allowing them and counter-revolution to reign by default.” He is quite mistaken that we have somehow conceded it. It is actually the First World “workers” who have taken this bribe to avoid doing revolution who have allowed “counter-revolution to reign by default.”. We Third Worldists are the ones pointing this out, this is the complaint that we make of First World “workers”. They have accepted the bribes, they have accepted reforms that have ruined their own revolutionary potential. Who is Rashid to say we have capitulated to the imperialists? He should be looking at himself and the rest of the First World “proletariat” who have accepted the bribes, and since then not done revolution.

They concede ground to the imperialists by refusing to do revolution. We are pointing out what the First World “workers” have done. Rashid uses his presuppositionalism to turn the tables and accuse us of what they themselves have done! We are pointing out and creating theory around the conscious choice by First World “workers” to refuse to engage in revolution. We are not the First Worldist parties that refuse to acknowledge this that are the “counter-revolutionary and criminal” element; who allow the imperialists to reign unopposed by refusing to do revolutionary action. We don’t advocate doing nothing, we advocate resistance in the First World by those anomalous people that do have revolutionary potential.[29] We advocate that those people sabotage imperialism from the inside, not waste resources on trying to build a revolution in a place where the “workers” have already sold out to concessions. If anything it is those who hold the First Worldist line who call for reforms who are the traitors. They seek more benefits and concessions rather than revolution itself. It is outrageous that we should be accused of they themselves have done!

“Even so, imperialism won’t and can’t keep this level of bribery up forever. Nor can it keep super-exploiting the Third World forever. It is the combination of austerity and repression at home and overextended military abroad that creates a revolutionary situation. But leave it to the Third Worldists and no one will do the political work needed to awaken the revolutionary consciousness of the workers and other oppressed sectors in the First World to seize the time. So their line if given sway performs the greatest service to imperialism.”[30]

We are well aware of the limits of capitalist accumulation, and that imperialism cannot be kept up forever. We know markets cannot infinitely expand, we know capital cannot infinitely accumulate. We are saying that so long as it does, First World people are bought off enough so that they don’t engage in revolution. We very clearly say that revolution can’t happen in the First World unless it is broken down to the level of a Third World country. There has to be a collapse of the First World in order to instigate a revolution when people have achieved a class consciousness. The Third Worldist theory on creating revolution in the First World goes along this line.

Our first task is to build a pan-Third World resistance that creates revolution all across the Third World. With those countries liberated the U.S. will become cut off from their source of exploitation. In fact it wouldn’t even require the entire Third World. The loss of India or China alone would cripple U.S. capitalist-imperialism. Once that collapse happens as a result of cutting off their plunder, the First World people will begin to build some kind of class consciousness. This is our theory behind creating revolution in the First World at a point in the future because First World people are not revolutionary now given their material conditions. Rashid either doesn’t know Third Worldist theory at all, or he is being deliberately misleading.

I would respond to his accusation of ignoring political work in the First World with this: Where is that First World revolution you claim is possible? Why has it never happened? Tell me why Marx’s prediction that it would be the advanced industrialist nations that would achieve revolution was wrong. Why has it been the less developed areas of the world who suffer tremendously more than the First World who have achieved revolution? Explain to me why there has been no revolutionary potential in the United States since the 1930s. If there is revolutionary potential as Rashid and other First Worldist groups assert, then please by all means go out and do revolution right now. Prove us Third Worldists wrong. Go do the revolution right now.

To believe that it only requires political work to awaken the masses is entirely idealist. It flies in the face of historical materialism. It is one of the three basses for Marxism. The others being Marxist economics and dialectical materialism. This is a problem of First Worldists, they don’t want to look at material conditions, they dogmatically hold on to outdated concepts. If we outright reject this scientific approach and instead chase idealist notions of being heroic revolutionary fighters, we are capitulating to imperialism because we’re not doing what is necessary to undermine and destroy it. It reasons that those who are not the victims of imperialism, but in fact the beneficiaries of it, who advocate trying to do revolution where it cannot be done. People in the First World are not willing to fight, they have made that clear with past protests, most notoriously the Occupy Movements. We advocate taking the fight to where it can be won, and is in fact already going on. We don’t advocate wasting resources trying to rally the useless lethargy of First World people to engage in a fight that won’t happen. Who’s really capitulating to imperialism here?

Imperialism Has Evolved as Capitalism Has

Continuing his assault upon Third Worldist theory, Rashid asserts that we ignore the role of inter-imperialist rivalry. We actually see it as secondary to the imperialism of First versus Third World. We don’t negate inter-imperialist rivalry as he claims. The reason we see it as secondary is because we acknowledge that imperialism, like capitalism, evolves as it alters its own material conditions. Nothing remains static. The world and relations between people are always evolving and changing. The antagonistic contradictions of social forces in the world are what have give rise to change.

“At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production, or – what is but a legal expression for the same thing – with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters.

“No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, it will always be found that the tasks itself arises only when the material conditions of its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.”[31]

If we were to follow Rashid’s words in his work here we would assume that global society and its antagonisms are static. He correctly refers to both Lenin and Stalin, but they lived in a different historical stage of imperialism than we do. Yes, imperialism has evolved from Marx, Lenin, and Mao’s time.

Financial capital today is not like it was back then. We don’t have a collection of national capitals that are in direct conflict with another collection of national capitals. The largest and most powerful of financial institutions exist in multiple countries simultaneously. They don’t need a military conflict to get into Asia, Europe or Latin America. Financial capital no longer has a home country. It exists independent of countries floating above them with financial power. For example, financial company Goldman Sachs has investments in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, Korea, Russia, Spain, Brazil, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, China, and all over Latin America and Europe.[32] Capital is no longer restrained to a single national interest as it was in Lenin’s day. Just Goldman Sachs alone has a capital interest in almost every country in the world. If a war was to break out between, say Russia and the U.S., they would stand to lose no matter what. The same scenario is true with a war between China and the U.S. Sure there are some moneyed interests that would make a ton off of weapons manufacturing, but they are fairly small in comparison to say the global financial giant’s potential losses. They don’t want world wars because now they have nothing to gain from them, they only have something to lose.

Another good example is the renewed militancy over the arctic. This is only because of the energy resources that have been discovered there. No one really “owns” the arctic, which is why so many countries are claiming ownership of it. Whoever does gets to collect the tax revenue from the energy company that drills out the oil and gas.

The only real threats of military conflicts left are the places where financial capital has not gotten its claws into yet, or where its claws have been dug out. The DPRK, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, and formerly Libya are prime examples of this. The hostility of capital and therefore imperialism, is focused on these nations for a reason and not into direct military conflict with Russia, China, or Brazil. Much of the financial capital today exists in all of those countries simultaneous but not in the former nations. Look at the end of the embargo against Cuba. Are we to think that U.S. President Obama did this out of the goodness of his heart? No, such a notion is nonsense. There has to have been some concession by Raul Castro in the secret negotiations which precipitated this change in U.S. policy.[33]

There is not an increasing militancy in the world, there is now actually less conflict than there has been historically.

“The rising inter-imperialist conflict exists particularly between the BRIC countries and the US-EU bloc. Why indeed had the US been saber-rattling with North Korea and Syria except to threaten Russia and China? Why is it so set on thwarting Russia’s own imperialist aims in Central and Eastern Europe? Why is it setting itself up as a major oil producer/exporter, while destabilizing oil rich countries throughout the Third World (e.g. Nigeria, Libya, Sudan, Iraq, Venezuela, etc.) and blocking Russia’s own exports, except to try and maintain its monopoly if the world oil market and the markets’ ties to the US dollar?


“The US is not afraid of North Korea or Iran attacking itself, but of not being able to threaten them with attack without the threat of counter-attack. They want to force China, Russia, Korea and Iran to spend more of their GNP on military “defense” and thereby slow their economic development. Amerika especially wants to prevent others’ advancing civil sector nuclear energy technologies, which might replace the old cumbersome system developed by Amerika over 70 years ago.”[34]

He’s quite right that there is growing inter-imperialist rivalry rising to challenge the US. What Rashid has not seen is that there are no wars going on between these countries. In fact there are small proxy wars, like the US versus Russia in Syria for example. There is not however open world war as he is making it appear. Not the reoccurring cycles of world wars which Lenin predicted. This is what he is not realizing when he quotes Lenin and Stalin, trying to apply it to our age. There is a reason for this, the rivals all have nuclear weapons as he says. No one really wants to go into a world war because of that. He’s essentially saying that there is rising global conflict, but that the wars aren’t actually there between the imperialist powers. We see nothing but Rashid’s lack of understanding regarding modern imperialist conflict and contradictions.

Why No First World Revolutions

Rashid continues to misrepresent the Third Worldist theory when it comes to explaining why there are no First World revolutions taking place.

“Third Worldists are fond of arguing that the lack of revolutionary movements in the First World in modern times, compared with their relative frequency in the Third World, empirically proves that First World workers have no revolutionary potential.”[35]

No, actually the lack of revolution in the First World is proof of our argument that there isn’t revolutionary potential in the First World. Rashid’s wording here is misleading, he makes it out as though the lack of revolution taking place is the argument against First Worldism. Rashid already knows that this is false, he already knows that we have an argument. He dishonestly skips over it and makes an attack on an argument that we don’t make at all. If what he says is true, then is there an explanation as to why there is no, and has never been a revolution in the First World?

To further his response he claims that any failure to produce revolution is on the head of the Vanguard party itself. He refers to Mao when he says, “when revolution fails it is the fault of the vanguard party”. His error here is that he ignores material conditions, and relies entirely on idealism. He simply asserts that it is all because of the failures of the Vanguard party. I’d like to remind him that material conditions are absolutely necessary, and exist independent of the theory produced by any communist. The theory has to fit the reality, not the other way around. Mao called this, “cutting the toes to fit the shoes”.[36] If we were to blindly follow his logic we’d come to the conclusion that revolution never happened in the First World simply because the people who were supposed to be doing it were incompetent. In the time since Marx first laid down the Communist Manifesto, the advanced nations must have just been filled with idiots for communists! This is ridiculous idealism in the extreme and shows that he knows nothing of the material conditions necessary to produce revolution.

What proceeds from Rashid is nothing less than poorly explained excuses for First World failure.

“Amerika for example has not had a mass and workers based revolutionary party since World War II when the Comintern was disbanded and the post-war Red Scare, Communist witch hunts, and Cold War drove Communists underground and shattered the remnants of the 1930s revolutionary movement and Communist Party. Subsequent efforts to build mass based revolutionary parties also came under concentrated attack under the imperialist state’s counter intelligence programs (COINTELPROs), such as the Black Panther Party and the Revolutionary Communist Party USA for example.

“The rural-based parties in the less developed Third World proved harder to target and suppress, and could more directly interact with their mass bases. The Panthers had similar success, but never embraced as specifically proletarian political and ideological line, so fell victim to left and right deviations and political opportunism. The RCP-USA was active within the US working class for a period, but ended in disengaging from this base in the 1970s, has since engaged primarily in agitational work aimed at other sectors than the traditional strategic working class, and doesn’t practice the mass line so it has no mass base.

“In other First World countries, without Comintern leadership, the workers’ parties were effectively infiltrated by traitorous elements that entered into alliances with their bourgeoisie and allowed their parties to be coopted into the mainstream political system.

“The imperialists recognize the essential role and value of a revolutionary vanguard. This is why they have targeted with almost fanatic consistency every potentially revolutionary organization that has reared its head, and expended untold resources and energy on demonizing and undermining the very image of Communism, that even today people fear almost instinctively to be identified with Communism, and those on the “Left” who prefer instead to be called “Socialists”.”[37]

According to Rashid, revolution was just too hard for First World people to do. These counter-revolutionary efforts certainly had a negative effect on the movements. However Third World communists have faced off against repression the likes of which no American has ever seen. The pain and suffering people went through for revolutions in the past were a million times worse than what Rashid describes here. For example, Suharto in Indonesia, as a part of the 30th of September movement killed around 500,000 communists and communist supporters.[38] This is more than all communists in Canada, the UK, and the United States have faced combined. Does he think sabotage efforts were not carried out by other states in efforts to stop revolutions? The New People’s Army in the Philippines would laugh at such incidents as the Red Scare in the US. It is nothing compared to what they face on a daily basis. The day-to-day struggle for survival for most Third World peoples poses more of a threat to their lives than if they had lived through the Red Scare in the US. There is so much more here I could go into when describing the difficulties of revolution for the Third World, they would make the US’s a look like a mild disturbance.

It also bears mentioning that First World people did accept concessions from the capitalist class in order to avoid carrying out revolution. The whole basis of The New Deal was specifically designed for this purpose. Communist groups all across America eventually gave up doing revolution and instead made certain demands from the capitalist class, which have mostly been met. What Rashid ignores is that First World people did give up on carrying out revolution once things got a lot nicer. He makes no mention of those concessions at all, as if they never happened.

Conclusion Kevin Rashid has once again completely misrepresented the Third Worldist line and created straw men to attack. I say it is dishonesty given that multiple Third Worldist organizations have already corrected him on these positions in the past. Rashid has no intention of debating honestly Marxist theory with anyone from the Third Worldist camp (nor does anyone else for that matter). I highly recommend that every communist read Dived World, Divided Class, including Rashid himself. A wealth of information is made available in the book. It is by no means the end-all-be-all of Third Worldism, but it does lay a very good basis for it. No First Worldist groups have been able to put forward a refutation of the Third Worldist line at all. They only dogmatically assert that no new theory is needed. In other moments they use quotes as arguments, not arguments themselves. We apparently still live during the time of Marx, Lenin, and Mao. Despite the reality of dialectics and historical materialism, nothing has changed in a hundred years since the Bolshevik Revolution. All theories from that time are completely valid now as, I guess, the world is still the same.

* * * Sources

[1] Third Worldism and Politicizing the Blame Game: What’s Revolutionary About That?, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

[2] Mao and Lin Biao – Refuting the Anti-Maoism of The Leading Light Communist Organisation and so called “Maoist” Rebel News, Democracy and Class Struggle

[3] “Hongqi” editorial. No. 8, Long Live the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Peking Review, 1966

[4] The Pretend Revolution of Kevin Rashid’s First Worldism,

[5] rashid’s Empty Rhetoric on the Labor Aristocracy, MIM(Prisons)

[6] Response to the American Party of Labor: It’s too bad word processors don’t have a factcheck,LLCO
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

[7] Zak Cope, Divided World Divided Class: Global Political Economy and the Stratification of Labor Under Capitalism (Quebec: Kerspebedeb Publishers, 2015, 2nd Ed.)

[8] Third Worldism and Politicizing the Blame Game: What’s Revolutionary About That?, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

[9] Zak Cope, Divided World Divided Class: Global Political Economy and the Stratification of Labor Under Capitalism, (Quebec: Kerspebedeb Publishers, 2015, 2nd Ed.), Preface pp. III

[10] Third Worldism and Politicizing the Blame Game: What’s Revolutionary About That?, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

[11] The Rate of Profit is Key, Michael Roberts Blog

[12] US. Bureau of the Census, Retail Sales: Total (Excluding Food Services) [RSXFS], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, May 6, 2015.

[13] Third Worldism and Politicizing the Blame Game: What’s Revolutionary About That?, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

[14] How Was Life? Global Well-being since 1820, Income inequality since 1820, OECD iLibrary

[15] Do Nothingism is counter-revolutionary, LLCO

[16] In the Foundations of Leninism, Stalin outlined the three most important contradictions which inhere in the capitalist imperialist system. In short they were listed as: “The first contradiction is the contradiction between labour and capital… The second contradiction is the contradiction among various financial groups and imperialist powers in their struggle for sources of raw materials, for foreign territory… The third contradiction is the contradiction between the handful of ruling “civilized” nations and the hundreds of millions of the colonial and dependent peoples of the world…

[17] Third Worldism and Politicizing the Blame Game: What’s Revolutionary About That?, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

[18] Goldman Sachs, Outlook 2015

[19] Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism, 1916

[20] Third Worldism and Politicizing the Blame Game: What’s Revolutionary About That?, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

[21] Daily Infographic: If Everyone Lived Like An American, How Many Earths Would We Need?, Popular Science

[22] America IS the 1%: You need just $34,000 annual income to be in the global elite… and HALF the world’s richest people live in the U.S., Mail Online–You-need-34k-income-global-elite–half-worlds-richest-live-U-S.html

[23] Almost half of the world’s food thrown away, report finds, The Guardian

[24] Frederick Engels to Bebel, In Borsdorf near Leipzig August 30, 1883

[25] Frederic Engels , October 7, 1858, Letters to Marx Unfortunately this letter is no longer available at the Marxist Internet Archive thanks to the bourgeois scum at Lawrence & Wishart who have demanded that it be taken down.

[26] Third Worldism and Politicizing the Blame Game: What’s Revolutionary About That?, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Revolution in the Third World; Resistance in the First World, LLCO

[30] Third Worldism and Politicizing the Blame Game: What’s Revolutionary About That?, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

[31] Karl Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Preface, 1859

[32] Goldman Sachs, Outlook 2015

[33] Secret U.S.-Cuba diplomacy ended in landmark deal on prisoners, future ties, The Washington Post

[34] Third Worldism and Politicizing the Blame Game: What’s Revolutionary About That?, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

[35] Ibid.

[36] Mao Zedong, Problems of Strategy in China’s Revolutionary War, December 1936

[37] Third Worldism and Politicizing the Blame Game: What’s Revolutionary About That?, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

[38] Anderson, Benedict, Friend (2003), p. 113.