“Fire on the Mountain” book review

So for Christmas one of the gifts I received was Terry Bisson’s progressive alt-history Fire on the Mountain, the premise of which is “What if John Brown had won at Harper’s [sic] Ferry?” In the novel, the success of Brown’s raid leads to the creation of an independent Black republic named “Nova Africa” in the South, socialist revolution and construction throughout the world, and by 1959 a world where the Pan-African Space Authority is carrying out the Second International Mars Mission while futuristic technology abounds and cars must stop for passing herds of buffalo. All in all a pretty nice utopia. With it being a fairly short book (155 pages), I finished it in one or two days. Since I enjoyed it immensely, I thought I might write a little book review for it.

First of, let me say that Fire on the Mountain a perfect combination of artistic skill and progressive politics. Extremely well written, and filled with the best ideology.

*sniffs*

John Brown had originally planned to conduct his raid on the Fourth of July with the assistance of Harriet Tubman. However, Harriet Tubman fell ill, key supplies were delayed, and the raid didn’t occur until October 16 without the aid of Tubman. The novel’s point of divergence is that Tubman doesn’t fall ill and the raid occurs on schedule. Thanks to Tubman, key errors that Brown actually made don’t happen and the raiders successfully seize arms and retreat into the mountains. From there, the raiders elude the Virginia militia and the Army, raid plantations, gain support, and then march south. Christened the “Army of the North Star” by Frederick Douglass, Brown and Tubman’s army gains the support of Haiti, Garibaldi, Mexico, the Molly Maguires, and several Native American nations. They win the war, the slaves win their freedom, Nova Africa is established, and by 1959 there is world socialism.

Fire on the Mountain contains three narrative threads: the story of a woman who is the great-granddaughter of a boy who served in Brown’s army and her relationship with her daughter, the tale of that boy as he observes Brown’s raid and its aftermath before joining the “Army of the North Star,” and the story of a white southern abolitionist doctor who moves from pacifism to militancy and ultimately joins the “Army of the North Star.” These three threads are well incorporated into each other and the story flows naturally from one thread to the next.

Some flaws are that the shortness of the novel results in some characters being undeveloped, and a subplot that seems entirely unnecessary. However, neither of these flaws detract from the sheer joy of reading good writing that brings a utopia to life, filled with brief references to things like “dialectics class.”

All in all Fire on the Mountain is excellent and y’all should get a copy!

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It is so Easy to Claim to be a Communist

A status from my political facebook that I’ve decided to put up here, with further elaboration/commentary:

“It is so easy to claim to be a communist, a Marxist, a revolutionary. But saying that you are doesn’t make you one. To be a communist, a Marxist, a revolutionary, you need to be engaging with the contradictions and struggles in your social context, applying theory to practice and practice to theory, forging links with the masses, learning from the masses, and engaging in collective struggle. That is the real criteria for determining the bona fides of an individual or organization, not their words. Otherwise, however well intentioned the individual or organization is, or how promising they seem, they aren’t a revolutionary. They are either a revolutionary to be, or they are a posturer.

I’m not a revolutionary yet, I’m just a kid who’s read good stuff and talked with good people. That is a good start, but it’s not enough. I need to move beyond that, and to start seeing just how I can help in the struggle. When I find that out, I need to do it.”

I wrote that status to remind myself to not get cocky. To remind myself that I am simply a kid learning stuff, not the next Lenin. And that’s something that I would like to make clear for this revitalized blog: I am one kid, who hopes to one day be a revolutionary, is striving to be a revolutionary, but until I am one I am just a kid who’s learning and using this blog to sound off on stuff with the hopes of clarifying my own views and learning. I hope I keep that in mind while writing, and that y’all keep that in mind when reading.

I’m back! (hopefully)

So I started this thing over a year ago with the hopes of writing a lot of informative and interesting things. Well, I wrote about one thing of substance… and then I stopped. Instead of using this blog, I continued to devote my time to my twitter, which while addictive was not a productive way to spend my time. I started drafts for a couple of pieces but never got around to finishing them. Well, those days are over! (Hopefully). I’m back, (hopefully), and I’m going to start making use of this blog. Might dust off my draft about the DSA and get it done and posted soon. Anyways, I’m back! (Hopefully)

The incoming Trump administration

Donald Trump is about to be inaugurated as president of the United States, the commander-in-chief of the world’s #1 terrorist organization. Now that we know that Trump will serve as the head of U.S. imperialism, the chief exploiter and oppressor of the world’s peoples, what do we do? First, we must take stock of the situation. Look, we are under threat. A more or less open fascist is the president-elect, his cabinet is going to consist of some of the most reactionary politicians around, as well as generals, CEOs, millionaires, and lobbyists. This ‘law and order’ president will most likely going to harshly crack down on BLM and similar groups, he will target immigrants, maybe more than Obama, the climate will become even more under threat, and Mike Pence will be a big player (he’s the guy who likes conversion therapy). Plus, Steve Bannon, a definite fascist and executive chairman of the fascist Breitbart News, is going to be Trump’s chief strategist. Clearly, Trump is awful. So what can we do to combat him?

We need to unite with all who can be united to oppose the rising forces of fascism. This means uniting with all those who understand that the popular masses, not the system, will defeat Trump. The broadest possible united front against fascism is necessary. This united front would draw its strength from the oppressed and exploited masses, in particular the oppressed nationalities, the Afro-American people etc. We need to attack the forces of Trumpism, as well as the Republicrat collaborators. We must show our strength and determination, using every form of extra-parliamentary resistance that the masses decide on. The program which this united front will unite around would be one of intractable opposition to Trumpism and all other forms of fascism, one of struggling for the people’s livelihood, one of opposition to militarism and imperialism. Basically left populism à la Sanders but with an anti-imperialist foreign policy, as a starting point. This united front could serve as the beginnings of a third anti-fascist party of labor and oppressed peoples, an HDP for the USA, say. Our task as revolutionaries is to work to build this front, to enter this front, to struggle within it, and to struggle to lead this front. Our task is to be the vanguard, to provide and use the weapon of Marxism-Leninism and Dialectical Materialism to fight for the concrete liberation of the popular masses.

The anti-Trump struggle is one that the oppressed peoples and workers must lead for it to be prosecuted to victory. If the liberal, Republicrat, Keith-Olbermann-draped-in-a-flag “Resistance” takes leadership of this united front aided by the social-democrats, the opportunists, the labor misleaders, the NGOs and the compradors this struggle is doomed to be defeated and this premature fascist turn will be successful. The US will sink into the mire that is has put so many others into. Only a thoroughgoing anti-fascist united front with Marxist-Leninist leadership that draws its strength from the oppressed and exploited will win a complete victory, a victory that will set the stage for continued struggle, for victorious national democratic revolutions in the oppressed nations and socialist revolution in the US (North).

The US, while it has strong fascist elements that have been developing since at least Reagan, is still a bourgeois democracy. If the US becomes full-fledged fascist, our future struggle will be extremely difficult and the oppressed and exploited will be even more oppressed and exploited by the blackest reaction. We cannot, will not allow this to happen. The masses, will the proletariat and the oppressed nations at their head, will stand up and defeat this rising scourge. We have the power, victory can be one. Let us steel ourselves for battle and destroy the foe. Let us unite and fight.

Death to fascism!

Defeat Trump!

For an anti-fascist peoples front!

What on Earth just happened? Reflections on the election

Donald J. Trump is now the president-elect of the United States of America. And this is something that I think most of us didn’t expect. I thought Clinton would be elected, given that she was obviously preferred by the majority of the imperialist bourgeoisie, and most of the portion of the U.S. population that isn’t white and rural. But the U.S. is still a bourgeois democracy, and the voters are allowed for the most part to select who wins elections, despite numerous constraints. And apparently more voters in the battleground states plus the traditional red states preferred him to Clinton. And now he, the semi-unhinged narcissist, rapist, and fascist, is president-elect, not the status-quo neoliberal war criminal.

So, what caused this? Discontent with the status-quo, white supremacy, economic fears, misogyny, and the fact that there is no strong U.S. left that could serve as pole around which those dissatisfied with the status-quo (in the sense of disgust with Wall Street rule, not multiculturalism) could rally around. Wages have been stagnant since the ’70s, automation and globalization have sent jobs overseas, and the system collapsed in the worse crisis since the Great Depression in ’08. This crisis helped to wreck the white petty-bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy, who revolted. The more progressive of them joined the Sanders campaign, the more reactionary ones the Trump campaign. Anger against the destruction of the post war economic order, anger against the destruction of traditional values, anger at a general sense of loosing their status in society lead these people to vote for Trump. And it was enough for him to win.

So, that’s what happened. Now what? We fight. We must come out in opposition to Trump, in opposition to attacks on immigrants and minorities, against the further fascistization of society. We must come out for a progressive alternative, for peace, jobs, and democracy. We must come out for an end to Wall Street rule, for an end to capitalist dictatorship. We must unite with all who can be united, go to the popular struggles, and infuse them with Leninism. We must really become Leninists, because only with Leninism have we had victory, without Leninism we have only had defeat. We must unite to struggle, struggle against fascism. It’s not here yet, but it is coming. So get out there, protest, march, make contacts, study. The U.S. left has abdicated its responsibilities for far too long. We need to grow up, and we need to do our duty.

So, just an initial general reflection on this. There is much more to be said and done. Anyways, hope you liked this! I’m planning on a more in-depth, future oriented post on this in just a bit. Any comments would be appreciated.

Hi!

Hello all! John McDonnell’s Kalashnikov is my personal blog, written from an Anti-Revisionist Marxist-Leninist perspective. In case you are wondering why this blog has the name it has, John McDonnell’s Kalashnikov is a reference to an excellent joke from the excellent Worker’s Spatula. I am a young Marxist-Leninist and proletarian internationalist in the United States South, a sympathizer of the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA, and I have a writing itch. My hope is that this blog will serve as a place for serious Marxist-Leninist commentary and discussion. I hope you enjoy this blog!