Posted April 25, 2008
“Radical Blogging Is The Main Trend In Our World Today”
Let’s focus on two trends in radical blogs, both based on Marxism. One is the emergence of a web of prolific Maoist/Marxist-Leninist blogs in the United States. The other is the world of Marxist blogs emanating from English-speaking western Europe. I will start this entry with a look at the Maoist-inspired blogs.
I was late to understanding much about the Maoist/M-L interpretation of Marxism. I came to left politics via anarchism and Trotskyism and didn’t really look closely at the Maoist-influenced tradition until I had been in the movement for some time. Over the last couple of years I’ve started to investigate this framework and its contemporary practice. Through this search I have stumbled across one of the most vibrant corners of net.
There are a couple main spheres of M-L blogs in the U.S. One is a trend that is influenced by both organizations using the name Freedom Road Socialist Organization, especially the group that produces Fight Back newspaper. Another grouping is connected to dissident ex-members of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). A third is a distinct trend that interprets the M-L tradition as hard “anti-first world” politics with no interest in the U.S. working class. There are also at least a dozen blogs that focus exclusively on the armed insurgencies in India and Nepal.
Freedom Road Socialist Organization
The powerhouse of the Fight Back blogs is surely Leftspot. Leftspot is both a regularly updated blog with reliable content (and the odd dud entry) and a massive clearing house for M-L related material online. For example Leftspot has made available online a veritable archive of classic and rare M-L materials from the New Communist Movement era to the present. It also is a portal hundreds of M-L influence materials and movements. It is the M-L blog I check the most.
Also associated with FRSO/Fight Back is The Marxist-Leninist. The Marxist-Leninist is an eclectic mix of news and views with the kind of somewhat traditional Maoist politics you might expect, with maybe a Workers World vibe. But a little more colorful than that sounds. Speaking of political aesthetics, The Marxist-Leninist is worth a visit just for the artful masthead. It features a collage of just the fighters you would expect from Jose Maria Sison to Harry Haywood. The blog is written and edited by an activist living in the US south who writes under the name Comrade Zero. He should update more regularly because it’s usually pretty readable stuff.
FRSO/OSCL has a number of blogs that are influenced by its politics too, including All Out for the Fight and Pottawatomie Creek. I’m continually impressed by the writings of FRSO/OSCL comrades, especially their new book The Cost of Privilege. I wish they would utilize blogs more than they do. Other great bloggers in this milieu include Rise! Resist! Revolt! and the Wrath of Hephaestus.
(ex)Revolutionary Communist Party
These days the realm of ex-RCP comrades is angry, growing, and blogging. They’re angry because they remember the good old days of “Refuse and Resist” and Peru solidarity, before the RCP basically became a cult around Chairman Bob Avakian. Now we can argue about when that happened (hmm, early 70’s?), but it’s as clear as day in 2008. The document that has crystallized this milieu is former Revolution editor Mike Ely’s “Nine Letters to Our Comrades”. This deep critique of the Avakian regime and the dialogue that has followed can be found on Ely’s popular Kasama. Kasama also has excellent and archived material on Nepal, a regular topic of M-L blogs. Also a part of this trend is Good Morning Revolution and Red Flags.
With the people’s war heating up in the Indian countryside and a sweeping Maoist victory in Nepal you may want to stop by some of the many South Asia-focused M-L blogs. Maoist Resistance covers the South Asian Maoist left in incredible detail, sometimes being the only English-language source for information on these movements. Recently the blog has examined the armed movements (sometimes called the “Naxalites” for the town where India’s peoples war began in the 1960’s) in the state of Kerala. Kerala has long been a stronghold of the traditional left, which is now being challenged. Maoist Resistance also pays close attention to insurgencies in West Bengal and Nepal. Here again, this blog has an incredible selection of links connecting you to the full spectrum of M-L influenced movements. If you want to see short documentaries on the Indian Maoist groups you should be directed to World Revolution Media.
Most of these blogs so far assume a socialist politics that asserts the potential of revolutionary situations developing here in the U.S. But there is a current in the M-L blogesphere that rejects the whole notion of their being a potentially radical working class in the U.S. This trend claims “victory to the Third World, defeat for the First World” is the route to world communism. This theory takes peasant insurgency to a global level, with poor nations fighting wealthier nations for global power. The blogs fall ideologically somewhere between Lin Biao and Sam Marcy. The term they use is Maoist-Third Worldism.
Theoretically, Monkey Smashes Heaven leads the pack. The articles are in depth and focus on the super-exploitation of the so-called ‘developing world’ by the wealthy nations of North America and Europe. Chinese communist guerrilla-turned-philosopher Chen Boda, a favorite of the Cultural Revolution, is taken very seriously. Lin Biao himself is also a touchstone, which is not surprising as these blogs have an orientation to political-military thinking. This blog is comes out of the It’s Right To Rebel Cell (IRTRC), which was made up of former MIM members.
Back to Marxists aesthetics for a moment. Shubel Morgan is a gorgeous blog that centrally features contemporary digital art inspired by a Maoist-Third Worldist perspective. Ideologically it is closest to Monkey Smashes Heaven. The blogs name is taken from an alias used by revolutionary anti-slavery activist John Brown.
Red Guard Camper is cantankerous, ultra-left, sectarian, and tons of fun to read. It’s also a lively introduction to the whole tendency because he is always critiquing other Maoist-Third Worldist formations and detailing their shortcomings.
And let’s not forget…
There are a couple of other websites that are very useful for getting information about Maoist/M-L tradition and practice. M-L Translations is an incredible source for documents from across the world. It includes texts from a dizzying array of parties and groups from Turkey to Tunisia and from across decades. You can learn anything you would want to know about the current state of the Maoist-inspired Communist Party of the Philippines over at Philippine Revolution Net.
If you have been wondering if there is a Kim Il Sungist party operating in the Carolinas that also upholds Jim Jones and the Peoples’ Temple, yes, there is such a group. You can find out if I made this up by swinging by the Rural Peoples’ Party website. I guess someone has to uphold the Juche, and why not in the U.S. south? The “Jim Jones model of socialism” I can’t quite visualize, though.
There are also a plethora of blogs that touch of themes such as national liberation, race, and Asian Marxist movements such as Whenua Fenua Enua Vanua. This blog looks closely social movements in the Pacific through an anti-colonial and Marxist lens. One of my favorite is radical blogs overall is Blak Orchid, subtitled “a blog by Asian rebels”. The blog claims James and Grace Lee Boggs as key reference points, which will make sense when you read some of the entries on race and labor. This blog is clearly influenced by elements of the Communist legacy, but also by a confluence of other radical currents and experiences. Back once again to blog aesthetics: Black Orchids has a lovely masthead, bringing together Malcolm X and anti-WTO protests in Korea.
I also want to point out a Marxist blog coming instead out of the Trotskyist tradition. The Rustbelt Radical has a personable mix of Marxist commentary, labor politics, even the odd music review. It’s an internationalist blog but there is a strong connection to the politics and culture of southeastern Michigan. It’s less that six months old and it’s one of the best out there.
In my next entry I’ll look at the Marxist blogs of Ireland and England.