A synthesis of left and right in defense of the people
There appeared on Twitter recently the hashtag #MAGACommunism, which included tweets calling for an alliance between communists and MAGA followers. I was immediately intrigued by the idea, inasmuch I have been seeking to formulate a political analysis that is an anti-imperialist synthesis of Third World socialist and American conservative values.
I have questions for which I do not have answers. Is there a possibility to develop a Twitter hashtag with a certain following into a real social and political movement? What would be appropriate strategies for attempting to forge a real movement? What would be necessary mechanisms for preventing the infiltration of the fledgling movement by subversive elements acting in defense of certain particular interests, using such strategies as hostile disruptive actions and the promotion of immature, idealist proposals?
It seems to me that a clarification of proposals and principles is necessary, and here we confront a considerable difficulty at the outset, in that the word “communism” has a multitude of meanings. I propose that we place the meaning of communism on a solid empirical foundation. That we form our understanding of communism on the basis of the theory and practice of four countries that are in the process of constructing socialism today under the guidance of communist parties, namely, the People’s Republic of China, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the Republic of Cuba. These four have developed people’s democracy, characterized by vanguard communist parties, the creation of assemblies or congresses of people’s power, and the active participation of mass organizations. They have developed socialist-oriented economic systems, characterized by mixed state and private economic enterprises, regulated by the state in accordance with its comprehensive long-term plan. And they have developed foreign policies based on the principles of the sovereign equality of nations, the non-interference in the internal affairs of states, and mutually beneficial trade among nations. They have been cooperating with other nations of the global South in the development of a pluripolar world, based in the principles of the UN Charter and other documents of the United Nations. I propose that we appropriate the insights emerging from these examples of real socialism today, adapting them to the conditions of the United States; with the intention of leading the peoples of the United States toward cooperation with these four vanguard nations and all nations that presently are cooperating with them.
As for the MAGA side of the hashtag, I submit that the followers and supporters of former president Donald Trump have various motives. The slogan Make America Great Again has wide appeal, because many patriotic Americans deeply lament that the nation has declined significantly in economic power and prestige in the world since the 1950s. Trump’s economic nationalism responded to the neglect by the political establishment of the development of the productive forces of the nation. And it responded to the failure of the left to put forth an alternative narrative on the American Republic, explaining the roots of the spectacular U.S. economic ascent in conquest, slavery, imperialism, and war; and explaining the need for an alternative approach for the future of the nation, based in expanding and deepening the democratic values proclaimed at the founding of the nation.
Since the time of Trump’s election to the presidency, we have witnessed the ideological and moral deterioration of the left. Slogans and concepts are put forth, based on feelings, setting aside any obligation to formulate an accurate description of history and contemporary reality. And gender has been disconnected from biological sex, ignoring the design of nature and contradicting the historic teaching of religious traditions among our people. And the left attacks with incivility any who disagree, utilizing government bureaucracies to impose its ideological will. Corporations join in the campaign in defense of these post-modern, anti-empirical conceptions. These developments provoke profound ideological divisions between the so-called left and the followers of Trump. And they have provoked a number of articles and books by scholars and commentators affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, which provide a foundation for formulating the conservative values that would be integral to a conservative/socialist synthesis.
Meanwhile, imperialism has reached an aggressive, decadent stage. The USA today wages unconventional war against Russia in Ukraine, and it conducts a new Cold War against China. And it imposes economic sanctions on many countries of the world. In the context of these dynamics, anti-imperialism has little voice in the United States.
These dynamics call for an ideological realignment of political forces in the United States, which is what the hashtag #MAGACommunism suggests. Seeking to point toward a deepening of understanding of the beliefs of the proposed alignment, I posted on Twitter on September 18 a series of twelve tweets under the #MAGACommunism hashtag, proposing twelve principles for consideration and discussion. I reproduce the twelve principles in today’s commentary, supplemented with further explanations that are not possible under the structures of Twitter.
Twelve proposed principles for a socialist/conservative synthesis
(1) We appeal to all US citizens, without regard for race, ethnicity, gender, or class. We convoke them as the “people,” in the tradition of the American Revolution. We reject appealing to “workers and oppressed peoples” as implicitly privileging some voices among the people over others; and as obscuring the fact that, taking into account the centrality of conquest in human history, virtually all of the people of the United States are descendants of oppressed peoples. Although we are mindful of the fact that Marx called on “the workers of the world,” we also are aware that Fidel, in different conditions, convoked the “people” to revolution.
(2) We affirm the principles of the American Constitution and its separation of executive, legislative, and judicial powers. We call upon all citizens to care for the founding constitutional principles of the nation as they pursue particular policy goals.
We recognize that the American Constitution was originally formulated with bourgeois, racist, and sexist limitations. But we cannot ignore the fact that the people of the United States have forged movements of workers, women, and blacks seeking to expand and deepen the meaning of democracy in the name of that imperfect constitution. These movements, at important historic moments, successfully pushed forward constitutional amendments in defense of the rights of blacks, women, and the people as a whole. We identify with these historic struggles of the people of the United States. We take their example and call for the adoption of constitutional amendments today in key areas.
We also recognize that successful revolutionary processes take seriously the constitutions of their nations as necessary for the process of attaining legitimacy. They formulate new constitutions when the conditions are right, but in the meantime, they defend their goals on the basis of existing constitutions and universally held principles and values.
We have observed that some of our people are dismayed by the indifference of government bureaucracies to the values of the people. We affirm that when we attain political power, which is our long-term goal, we will never impose on the people measures that do not have the support of at least 60% of the elected representatives of the people, as expressed by the Congress of the United States. We will attain our social justice goals through patient explanation and the education of our people.
(3) U.S. foreign policy ought to be anti-imperialist, non-interventionist, and respectful toward to the sovereignty of all nations. The USA should seek mutually beneficial trade will all nations. All existing sanctions should be eliminated.
We profoundly lament that that during the course of the twentieth century, the U.S. government, acting in service of corporate interests, integrated the national economy into the colonial and neocolonial structures that had been forged by the Western colonial and imperialist powers, thereby distorting not only the economy but also the political culture of the nation. Today, however, it is increasingly evident that the neocolonial world-system is no longer sustainable, as the peoples and governments of the world seek an alternative, more just international economic order. In this changing global political context, we see the possibility for an alternative foreign policy that cooperates with the nations of the world in the construction of a post-neocolonial and post-imperialist world-system, in which the nations of the world seek trading relations that contribute to the economic development of both trading partners.
(4) We must create structures to eliminate of the role of money in electoral campaigns, to improve the quality of public debate, and to elevate the social and political consciousness of our people, thereby establishing the foundations for government of, by, and for the people.
As we observe the development of impressive socialist projects in the People’s Republic of China, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, and the Republic of Cuba, we are aware that they have developed people’s democracies, with structures different from those of representative democracies, which have the capacity to nullify the role of money in the political process and to ensure that the interests of the people are given priority. Although in our nation the conditions do not exist for the creation of people’s democracy, we can nonetheless seek reforms that attempt to reduce the pernicious role of money in our political process.
We call upon our people to study what these socialist projects have developed with respect to political structures, and not be persuaded by the Western propagandistic dismissal of them as “authoritarian.” We submit that the key to their long-standing political stability is their structure of “people’s democracy.”
(5) Capitalistic enterprises, large and small, are the driving force of the economy. However, they must operate under state guidance, direction, and regulation, in accordance with a long-term comprehensive plan for further developing the productive capacity of the nation.
The key is not state ownership, but state planning and regulation. In observing the real socialist projects in the world today, we see that they have discovered that the construction of socialism and the transition to communism is much more complicated than “the abolition of private property.” They confronted the enormous task of providing for the fundamental human needs of the people in the context of the barbaric aggressiveness of the imperialist powers. They experimented with different development strategies, ultimately concluding that private property can make important contributions to the productivity of the national economy. The key is to permit it to make this contribution in directions that are socially beneficial, and at the same prevent it from taking control of the economy and the political system. They have arrived to socialist-oriented mixed economies, under the direction of state planning and state regulation.
In developing a comprehensive plan for the continuous development of the productive forces of the national economy, we must take into account the need to maintain the ecological balance of the earth. Scientific evidence is clear: there has been an erosion of the wealth of the natural environment due to the impact of human productivity. We propose a constitutional amendment affirming the responsibility of the state to develop and implement a long-term plan to promote the productivity of the national economy, in balance with the needs of the environment and in accordance with scientifically informed principles of ecological sustainability.
(6) The federal government ought to ensure that all citizens have affordable health care and housing as well as healthy nutrition and equal access to high quality education. We support a constitutional amendment for the protection of the socioeconomic rights of all citizens.
We recognize the significant costs involved in the protection of social and economic rights, and we appreciate that financing them through increasing government debt is not sustainable in the long term. They must be financed through the state’s long-term comprehensive plan for the development of the national economy. For this reason, we declare that health care, education, and other fundamental human needs must be affordable, not necessarily free. We follow the example of Cuba: hospitalization and medical services are free, but medicines must be purchased in state managed pharmacies at subsidized prices. Schools are of high quality and offered to all equally and without tuition; but uniforms are required for primary and secondary school students, and the parents must purchase them in state stores. Everybody can afford the services, but everybody contributes something.
(7) We believe in equality of opportunity for all in education and employment, with no discrimination on the base of race, ethnicity, class, or sex. We believe that preferential treatment for some categories of the people no longer has positive social consequences.
Affirmative action programs, even though an imperfect way to remedy past injustices, had their place in the aftermath of the civil rights reforms of 1964 and 1965, inasmuch as attitudes that were centuries in the making were not going to change overnight. However, in the context of the significant changes in the attitudes and customs of the people, such measures are no longer desirable.
We lament that some black leaders and intellectuals have indulged in an exploitation of residual racism or new forms of fascism and racism among a few to inaccurately describe racial conditions today, using such terms as “systemic racism,” “white supremacy,” and “white privilege.” They have provoked profound ideological and social psychological divisions among our people. We support “black conservatives” who have courageously and insightfully exposed this tendency as a hustle to promote the particular interests of black professionals.
We reject the claims of some that they have a privileged right to speak because they see themselves as pertaining to a historically oppressed people. We maintain that all of our people have an equal right to speak and to express their ideas and feelings, whatever be their experiences and family histories. To the extent that we find that some of their ideas are undemocratic or in other ways unacceptable, we respond with patient education, and not with cancelling. In the United States of America, everyone has the right to speak; no one should be bullied into silence.
(8) The rights of homosexuals and transgender persons ought to be respected. However, such comportment ought not be normalized or celebrated, except privately, out of respect for citizens with religious convictions. Gender transition medical treatments on minors ought not be legal.
We have observed that many of our citizens with religious convictions are distressed that sexual behavior that they believe to be morally wrong is endorsed and celebrated far and wide. It is for them not merely a question of a teaching against a particular form of behavior, but a spiritual world view, which sees God as the Creator of the universe and the human being, a God who calls the people to correct conduct in accordance with the design of nature. They find that, as parents, they seek to educate their children in a spiritual worldview, but there are numerous television programs and films presenting such comportment as completely acceptable. They find that, as teachers, they are compelled, under threat of dismissal, to affirm conduct that violates their religious convictions. They find that, as medical practitioners, they are compelled to participate in medical procedures that go against their religious convictions.
We believe in the rights of all regardless of sexual orientation or sexual identity, including their right to be open about their sexuality, if that is their personal preference. At the same time, in developing the protection of this right in practice, we ought to be respectful toward our citizens with more traditional convictions toward sexuality.
(9) The difficult issue of the right to life versus reproductive rights should be addressed in the states, in accordance with the Tenth Amendment. We encourage the citizens of the states to look for middle ground, such as no abortions after ten or twelve weeks of gestation.
We support the recent Supreme Court decision affirming that the issue should be resolved in the states. We lament that liberal voices have been presenting the decision as the elimination of abortion, when it in fact has returned the decision to the states and the representatives of the people in state governments, with the argument that it never should have been taken from them. We also lament that the leaders of the Democratic Party were calling for and participating in protests against the Supreme Court and its justices, instead of calling for all to respect the law of the land, and to wage their political struggle in their states.
Some citizens believe that human life begins at conception, and there is increasing scientific evidence in support of this belief. We believe, however, that laws prohibiting abortion would be unenforceable, and would lead to various negative consequences. At the same time, defenders of reproductive rights ought to be able to accept a middle ground position, such as the criminalization of abortion after ten or twelve weeks. This is done in many nations of the world, including socialist Cuba, which does not permit abortions after eleven weeks, primarily at the insistence of the Cuban medical establishment for reasons of the health of the woman. The protection of the right of abortion prior to eleven weeks, available without cost, proceeds without division or conflict in Cuban society.
(10) Immigration laws ought to be enforced. The federal government ought to cooperate with other nations in the development of safe, orderly, and controlled international migration and in alleviating the desperate socioeconomic conditions that stimulate migration.
We affirm that all persons have rights, regardless of their migratory status, and the rights of all persons must be respected by the migratory authorities of our nation. At the same time, we recognize that migration is not an unconditioned right; the movement of persons from one nation to another is conditioned on the regulatory approval of the governments involved. Moreover, we appreciate that migration is an individual solution in some cases to the problem of poverty, but it is not a collective solution to the problem of underdevelopment and poverty in the world. What is required is cooperation among nations in the development of mutually beneficial trade, so that the living standards of all nations can be elevated.
(11) The people of our nation ought to be educated with respect to the worldwide processes of conquest, colonialism, slavery and other forms of forced labor, neocolonialism, and imperialism. Treaties with Native American tribes ought to be fully respected.
For decades, the political culture of our nation has been distorted by the colonial denial, that is, cultural blindness with respect the colonial foundations of the capitalist world-economy and the spectacular ascent of the nation. This limitation must be overcome through the education of our people concerning fundamental historic and global dynamics, which is different from ahistorical and anti-empirical concepts disseminated today, such as systemic racism and white supremacy, which do not accurately describe U.S. reality today.
In the context of the political awakening of our peoples in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the American Indian Movement emerged to demand addressing the issue of the trail of unbroken treaties. Since that time, significant progress has been made in respecting tribal sovereignty and self-government, in government-to-government negotiations with respect to tribal claims, and in promoting tribal control over energy resources in Native American lands. We support these efforts and call for full commitment to their intensification on the part of the U.S. government.
(12) We are American patriots. We seek an economic revitalization and spiritual renewal of our nation.
We stand in the tradition of the great revolutionary leaders of China, Vietnam, Korea, and Cuba, whose patriotism was the foundation of their revolutionary commitment.
I return to the questions that I raised at the beginning of today’s commentary, concerning the possibility of converting a hashtag into a real social and political movement. I call upon persons with leadership and organizational capacities to take steps in this direction.
For my part, I pledge continued intellectual work, seeking to develop and write my understanding of a synthesis of Third World socialism and American conservatism. I invite readers to subscribe to my column, either as free or paid subscriber, thus joining with me in this ongoing quest. As a paid subscriber, you would be able to use the reply mechanism, and contribute to an ongoing conservation.
For the past fifteen months, I have addressed in my Substack column many themes relevant to this proposal for a synthesis of socialist and conservative concepts and principles. Links to relevant commentaries can be found in the thematic index, where the articles are organized according to theme.
Follow me on Twitter: Charles McKelvey@CharlesMcKelv14