The insights of MAGA Communism
On leftists, partisans, and the sacred
On September 22, 2022, Thomas Fazi, a columnist for Compact, published “What is MAGA Communism?” He noted that the hashtag #MAGACommunism has been trending on Twitter. The inventor of the hashtag is unclear, but it has been popularized by Haz Al-Din, a self-described Marxist-Leninist who is the intellectual behind Infrared; and it has been disseminated on Twitter by Jackson Hinkle, popular commentator and self-described communist.
Fazi reports that, in Al-Din’s view, Trump has irreversibly changed American politics for the better, because he has broken the hold of the two possibilities allowed by the political establishment. The class struggle has been revitalized, and there is now a mass movement, in the form of MAGA, against the status quo. The key idea is that communists should support MAGA, making communism more appealing by severing its connection with leftism and stressing its opposition to monopolies in banking, pharmacy, agriculture, and technology.
Al-Din on MAGA Communism
“The Rise of MAGA Communism,” published by Infrared on September 19, 2002, possesses a number of important insights that can provide key components for an ideological reconceptualization and realignment in the USA, which is made necessary by the historic of limitations of the left and the right, the toxic turn of the left in recent years, and the profound dysfunctional ideological and political polarization in the nation.
In the Infrared commentary, Al-Din maintains that Western modernity is breaking down, a phenomenon indicated by the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, the oil embargo, and the Iranian Revolution. The collapse is giving rise to the institutionalization of civil society as the basis for the ideological justifications of U.S. imperialism, which polices what it considers fascist states, like the Soviet Union, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela.
Al-Din proclaims that leftist critiques are revolutionary only in appearance. Leftists can criticize almost everything about the state, but their forms of critique and their dissociation from actual political struggle have the effect of confirming the claim by the political establishment of an open society. Leftism, which became institutionalized during the twentieth century, “fulfills an agenda already established outside politics.”
So Al-Din wants to clearly differentiate leftism from actual left-wing alignment. Real political division, he maintains, is not based on differences in formal political alignment but in actual acute contradictions that express themselves in contestations for political power.
In modern politics, Al-Din maintains, the right defends order. At the same time, as order is more and more destroyed in liberal democracy, conservatives became revolutionary, seeking to restore order. The Iranian Revolution, for example, found a deeper order in Islam; and the MAGA Movement seeks an order based on the sacredness of the American Republic and its core concept of liberty and justice for all.
Al-Din utilizes Carl Schmitt’s theory of the partisan. The partisan takes an actual political position, in that the partisan actually contests for political power. Partisans go down to the people in order to establish a real experiential foundation for their premises. The partisan “is deeply terrestrial, earthly, with a profound attachment to the soil of the nation, and the deeper order of rural life.”
The partisan does not unite or synthesize the left and the right in a form that is abstracted from the struggle of the people. The partisan displaces the left-right distinction by occupying an entirely new counterhegemonic space, which seeks the resolution of modern contradictions into a new order that is based in the people and in commitment to eternal principles of social justice.
The partisan and the leftist are enemies, because the partisan stands with the people with their ideological imperfections, whereas the leftist has disdain for the people. In the view of leftists, Al-Din writes,
“Political conflict endures - not because of any fundamental contradiction grounding politics - but because people are too reactionary, too fascist, too immoral, or too stupid to accept the supposedly universal values of leftism. For leftists, enmity is not so much based on the friend-enemy distinction of any concrete struggle, but a vicious, savage inhumanity toward all those who fall outside their own discursive community, in a way that is structurally identical to the worst aspects of European racism and Nazism.”
The leftist tries to channel protest for social change through the institutions of civil society, thus nullifying the left as a source of true historical change. The partisan, on the other hand, engages in information war to nullify the influence of civil society, thereby giving space to the organic conceptualizations of the people.
Accordingly, the real political conflict today, for Al-Din, is not between the left and the right but between leftism and partisanship. Moreover, partisanship exists today only in one political space, namely, the MAGA movement. That is why communists must go to the MAGA Movement, seeking to transform its diverse earthly formulations into a more mature historical and political conceptualization.
MAGA wants to Make America Great Again, but leftists believe that America was never great. Al-Din is offended by this rejection of the MAGA slogan. He maintains that the counter slogan, “America was never great,” is a “sign of middle-class midwit consciousness and historical nihilism.” Against this nihilism, he declares, “America was great. It was great when it was other than what it only seems now.” The MAGA movement, he declares, sees the great America as grounded in and responding to the concrete needs of the people, and therefore as something real, and this is why America must be made great again.
Although Al-Din seems unsure as to the time of the highpoint of American greatness, it seems to me that it was in the 1950s, when the United States emerged from World War II as one of the victorious powers, when it had unrivaled military and economic dominance, and when it had enormous prestige in the world; and before its overextended military expenditures and its failure to understand the new international order being forged by anti-colonial movements, limitations that were central to its decline since the 1960s.
To say that America was a great nation with unprecedented military and economic power is not to say that it was a holy nation. Indeed, its spectacular rise to greatness was driven by slavery, conquest, and imperialism. And its Achilles heel was its incapacity to acknowledge its social sins and to rectify them in the construction of a more just international order, using its enormous power and prestige to this end. The MAGA Movement, without fully understanding these dynamics, senses that things could have been managed better by the nation’s elite, with a better result; and in this suspicion, they are entirely right, and they deserve a complete explanation that exposes the treason of the power elite.
America’s moral imperfections were not and are not fatal. They were the typical imperfections of great civilization; and they can be rectified. In fact, with respect to both slavery and the conquest of the West, I would maintain that the nation had been on the road of rectifying these social sins since 1965, until progress was interrupted with incivility by toxic leftist ideology. Imperialism still rules foreign policy, but it is not too late to abandon imperialism for the road of cooperation with other nations in the construction of a pluripolar world, a process that is underway without U.S. participation and in the face of antagonistic U.S. policies.
In this vein, Al-Din insists that neither America nor the West are unredeemable. Their evils are those of all of humanity, and future possibilities remain open. Al-Din affirms the fundamental decency of the American people, declaring that they were and are not inherently genocidal. He maintains that unipolar globalism, with its genocidal and suicidal implications, is only one possible outcome of the history of Western colonialism and imperialism. MAGA, in his view, implies another outcome, namely, the recovery of the American history that has been lost to consciousness, and on this foundation, the construction of a glorious future for America and humanity.
Al-Din maintains that, in this restoration of American history and purpose, Marxism-Leninism is indispensable. He writes that “the immortal and invaluable science of Marxism-Leninism will be necessary in order to give proper clarity, articulation, and insight into the host of social, historical and political forces.”
Al-Din recognizes that MAGA, at present, is anti-communist. But the anti-communism of MAGA is a result of lies about communism put forth by elites and leftists in the pursuit of their particular political agendas. But the reality, obscured by ideological distortions, is that communism supports movements of, by, and for the people, which is in essence what MAGA is. Thus, MAGA is dominated by anti-communist attitudes in its present stage of development, but it is not anti-communist in essence. “MAGA is not essentially defined by anti-Communism. It is, in the first place, essentially defined by being the American form of counter-hegemonic partisan politics.”
Thus, there is need to educate the MAGA movement with respect to the true characteristics of communism, as formulated by Marx, Engels, and Lenin, and as developed in practice under the guidance of communist parties, principally in the Soviet Union and China. For example, it is necessary to clarify that communism does not abolish private property; it abolishes rule by private property and the “reign of the institutions of private property,” because communism understands that rule by private property undermines the private property of the people in the form of homes, land, farmsteads, and businesses. Communism abolishes, more precisely, “economic nihilism, according to which the productive forces of society serve inhuman, alien, and antisocial ends.”
To be sure, Marx and Engels had envisioned that the development of productive forces through structures of free association would make private property superfluous, and it thus would lead to the withering away of private property as it became superfluous. However, Al-Din maintains, communists do not want to force this outcome. They wish to establish conditions that favor the gradual elimination of private property naturally as the productive forces develop.
In the education of the MAGA Movement, communists should emphasize that they are against monopolies. “What Communists seek is the overthrow of the monopolists, the bankers, big pharma, big agriculture, big tech, and others - which have hijacked the American republic in the name of the ‘sacred institution of private property.’” Communists advocate “pro-people policies, including lowering taxation, ending government subsidies for the monopolists, and removing red tape.” They want more prosperity for the people as well as the development of the productive forces.
Al-Din maintains that the right is incapable of resolving the contradictions of the nation and of modern politics. The right seeks to preserve order, but it takes for granted the assumptions of modernity, and thus it defends the temporal order brought into being by modern dynamics. The right does not understand that authentic sovereignty is based in the embrace of the eternal, and it thus does not seek an order on the foundation of universal and eternal principles. The right appears to defend religion, property, and family, but its defense is based in bourgeois utility and science and not in “the law of nature, the law of God, and the law of being.” Rooted in the assumptions of liberal democracy, the right does not embrace the sacred; therefore, right-wing politics ultimately solidifies leftism.
In contrast to the right, partisan politics embraces the eternal. “Its politics of order are not contrived from the temporal interests of an already condemned regime, but take their sanction from the starry sky above, boundless and eternal heaven. The partisan is the true conservative revolutionary, suspended in the embrace of the eternal.”
Partisan politics, Al-Din believes, can resolve the contradictions of the modern order. Partisan politics seeks political power, and when it takes political power, it establishes a new order on the basis of the eternal principles of social justice. On the foundation of this political dynamic, the catastrophic modern order will be left behind, left-wing politics will be rendered obsolete, and a civilization will be developed on the foundation of the true and the sacred.
As these potentialities emerge, the politicians and theoreticians of the established order are becoming more and more desperate. China’s dramatic and system-altering ascent has provoked an alliance of right-wing politics and leftism, involving “a merger of the leftist woke agenda, neoconservative hawkish aspirations toward China & Russia, and the faux veneer of a revived America (‘build back better’).” Accordingly, “neoconservatism is making its most vicious, final, and potent return - reconciling the ‘leftist’ chaos of the past decade into a new ‘Western’ order defined by genocidal designs upon China and Russia.” In this context, a Hitler-like takeover has a high probability, accompanied by efforts to channel the patriotic aspirations of MAGA believers toward a consensus for war, convoking classic jingoism and its false contrast between Western civilization and Chinese/Asiatic authoritarianism.
For Al-Din, the necessary response to such dynamics is more than the reasoned explanatory discourse of intellectuals of the left, even if authentic, and even if tied to real political struggles being led by what the U.S. government calls rogue states. The necessary response to the desperation of the established order is partisan politics. And in the United States, MAGA is the only space of partisan politics.
Al-Din maintains that MAGA needs its own political party. The communists embracing MAGA hope Republican political candidates genuinely against the establishment will come on board and will “join forces with all genuine partisan forces into forming a real working class third party.”
Al-Din notes that Trump is being blackmailed by politically motivated lawsuits. But “whatever happens to Trump, the spirit of the MAGA movement must survive, because 2016 was only the beginning. We believe the MAGA movement has the potential to be turbo-charged into a revolutionary movement by, of, and for the American working class. There is no other choice for us American MAGA Communists.”
Al-Din concludes the conceptually rich, 14,000-word essay by declaring that “MAGA Communists now make it their goal to go down to the people, and fight alongside them in a common, partisan struggle against the ruling class.”
By way of critique
I have criticisms of certain aspects of Al-Din’s formulation with respect to the following themes: the difficult and complex question of the concept of the proletarian vanguard; the need to formulate unifying or reconciling positions with respect to the cultural wars; the need to formulate specific proposed policies with respect to big banks, big pharma, big agriculture, and big tech; the need to formulate a comprehensive, long-term economic plan, explaining a new approach to expanding the productivity of the American economy; the need to put forth anti-imperialist principles that must guide American foreign policy, explaining the absolute necessity of anti-imperialism in today’s world; and the long-term dysfunctionality of guerrilla information war tactics. I will address these issues in my next commentary of Friday, October 14.
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