A revolution is not a dinner party. Words to that effect were spoken by one of the 20th century’s greatest revolutionaries, Mao, and they are as relevant today as they were when they were uttered.
A revolution is bloody, ruthless, pits one class against another and as such necessitates violence to either be successful or to be crushed. Revolutions leave countries deeply split and are never truly complete or bear fruit until the first generation of revolutionaries departs from the main stage. These things must be remembered when we look at revolutionary movements and governments.
Ever since 1917, members of the left, more specifically members of the left in the first world, have never lost a moment to criticise revolutions and revolutionary movements as varied as Russia, China, Grenada, Cuba, and Nicaragua. In these modern days these left wingers have found it fit to criticise the DPRK, China, Vietnam, and Cuba, stating bluntly that these governments have somehow deviated from official Marxist doctrine and as such should be shunned and publicly lampooned at any and every moment.
We are told that China has long ago left the traditional Maoist line, that it has sold its soul and is now a capitalistic hegemon in the same fashion as the USA. We are advised that the DPRK is nothing but a hereditary dictatorship, run by a clique who use the veneer of Marxism to hide their megalomania. Vietnam is seen in the same vein as China, long ago deviating from the path laid by Ho Chi-Minh. Cuba and Venezuela receive abuse as well, Cuba because it has a chequered past on LGBT rights (also because of the hotel industry), while Venezuela is constantly referred to as a failed socialist experiment (when Hugo Chavez died) and is simply a failed state run by a Caudillo.
These critics are keyboard warriors, more than able and willing to criticise a movement but almost never ever involved in a notable movement of any sort. When these cosplay revolutionaries dare to criticise movements and governments in the third world the should be asked: ‘Show me your revolution which has successfully given the workers not only a seat at the table but the whole damn dining room set.’ These people must put up or shut up as their constant prattling only hinders movements in the third world.
This by no means is to say that the aforementioned governments and movements are above criticism. On the contrary, they criticise themselves regularly and (as is the case with Cuba and Venezuela) are more than willing to admit where and when they have made mistakes. These movements and governments are more than open to questioning of tactics and criticism, so long as it is constructive and not made up of pot shots and sniping comments about ‘how the purity of the revolution is lost’ or ‘this is not textbook Marxism so it must be a deviation and thus not worthy of support’. Those comments serve no constructive purpose and instead act as potential ammunition for the powers which have and will continue to have it out for the communist/socialist project.
These people who have all the time in the world to criticise any and all things they dislike about these movements/governments need to grow up and do one of two things: Either enter into your own revolutionary struggle, win power, consolidate power and implement your idea of ‘perfect socialism’, or, conversely you could all be quiet and take notes from the people, movements and governments which have actually launched successful revolutions and have somehow managed to weather the Cold War and being in the Yankee ‘backyard’.
There is always hidden, not too well in these statements, the tinge of racism and elitism. The savages and lumpen in the third world surely must be doing it wrong; that is not by the text, because they are unenlightened about the finer principles of dialectic materialism. It could not be that the practice differs greatly from the theory because the nations and movements have to face struggles which Marx himself did not envisage and nations have a penchant for strangling revolutionary movements in the cradle.
This paternalistic and even racist trope comes regularly in the form ‘it isn’t real communism/socialism’. The idea that we in the third world need to ape our western (read white) left-wing ‘allies’ in order to be regarded as true members of the left is disgusting and adds nothing of value to the debate about how to make the revolution better.
We in the third world do not want your snide criticisms, nor do we need your fake sympathy and tears. All we ask is that you end the needless criticisms of movements and governments which are trying, and that you, if you really want to run a revolution along your perfect lines, then by all means throw one. Do it. Try to beat the British, French or American armies and establish your worker state. Let us see how you lot deal with sieges, biological warfare and disinformation campaigns since you have all the answers to the ‘problems’ faced by these movements and governments. Until you do the latter, that is, until you manage to overthrow your governments in the imperial core, please leave us alone.
Ask questions. Ask critical questions even, but don’t for one minute dare write long epistles lamenting the fact that China has ‘forgone Maoist principles and is now a den for capitalists and their vices’. Don’t come in stating that Cuba has sold its revolutionary soul because they have reintroduced tourism and a small private sector. Don’t go around stating that Venezuela has somehow gone back into the capitalist fold because the Government looking to sell off state assets.
True, all the mentioned governments don’t practice ‘orthodox Marxism’ but how could they when even Marx himself (and echoed by Lenin years later) stated that the revolution would look different in each country as they deal with their material surroundings. These nations have to act in the way they do if they are to survive. Rather than criticise these bodies those first world ‘fellow travellers’ should show solidarity, even if it is critical solidarity, and aim to dismantle the imperial behemoth from within. If they really have an issue with how these revolutionary movements act, then they should create conditions which allow these movements to act in a more ‘orthodox’ or pleasant fashion.
Take state power and end the blockade on Cuba thereby allowing it to develop properly. Take power and end the sanctions on Venezuela which would allow it to continue its revolution via the ballot box and communal organising. Take power and down the American military goliath so that nations as varied as Laos and Bolivia can make their revolutions truly successful in your eyes. Take power either through the ballot or the bullet and talk to us in the third world after you face down the collective might of the capitalist/imperial world as Cuba, China etc have done.
Until that day comes, please reserve all judgement and criticism. We who are tormented by your leaders and governments don’t need lecturing from you as to how a revolution should be run. We know what we need and how to get it, so either throw off the yoke of your oppressor (thus aiming the global struggle) or shut up and enjoy the ride as countries and movements in the third world win their freedom and put into practice things and ideas you could only dream of.