On November 26th, classconscious.org posted on the Socialism subreddit an article entitled “A further warning to Marxists in regards to Trump’s coup attempt”. A short time later the account was permanently banned by the moderators for breaking their policy on promoting “lesser evilism”. The r/socialism sub-reddit has over 320,000 members and is one of the largest forums on the internet where socialists can share information. Reddit itself is the 17th most visited site on the internet. Whilst warning of the threat of a fascist coup by Trump – a warning which has been utterly vindicated – in no way did the article promote illusions in the Democrats or call for electoral support for them in any form. The article labelled both parties as utterly reactionary, however, it also discussed the different class forces the Republicans and Democrats rest upon and the different factions of the ruling class forces they represent. To construe all such analysis as “lesser evilism” is simplistic and ridiculous!
The effect of this censorship goes beyond its impact on one small Trotskyist website but represents an attempt to sabotage analysis and discussion of the deadly threat of fascism to the working class – if it consolidates itself in the world’s most powerful imperialist state. Such analysis is a pre-condition to the working class being mobilised to defend itself. The moderators need to reverse this ill-thought-out act and unjustifiable act of political censorship immediately and reinstate the class-conscious-site account!
The article was the third in a series that I authored and published on classconscious.org – calling for the formation of a United Front Against Fascism to promote organising for a General Strike in the event of a coup and for the formation of self-defence committees to protect the working-class against fascist gangs. The first, published on October 12th was entitled: “March separately, but strike together! For a united front against fascism in the US! General Strike now!”. The second, published on November 12th was entitled: “A call out to the Marxist Movement – the time to act against Trump’s fascist coup is now!”. The third article (which was banned) attempted to refute the criticisms raised online in response to the first two articles by other Marxists.
What is the rule the article supposedly breached to justify the banning of our account? It is called “lesser evilism” and reads as follows:
“Do not promote voting/campaigning for liberals like Biden and Macron as “harm reduction” or try to claim they’re “the lesser evil”. This is highly oppressive rhetoric that apologizes for the devastating atrocities of imperialist neoliberal political parties and is not welcome in a socialist space. Furthermore, there is no “better rapist” in an election between two rapists, and rape apologia will not be tolerate”
There is no disagreement from me that Socialists should have no truck with “lesser evilism” – however the article is (I believe) completely devoid of any such ideological ‘sin’. Whilst most of the article is dedicated to refuting arguments that downplay the threat of a coup and the contention that Trump is a fascist, there is one long section on the Democrat Party. Presumably, this is the section the moderators objected to and therefore, rather than paraphrase the section, I will reproduce it in its entirety below:
“Perhaps the most common criticism of the General Strike call is that it entails denying the reactionary nature of the Democrats and Biden, or more seriously, offering them political support.
The call-outs were crystal clear in identifying the Democrats as a party of reaction, capitalist imperialism, and as a faithful servant of the bourgeoisie. However, to draw an equals sign between the Democrats and Biden and Republicans and Trump, borders on recycling the Stalinist policy of social fascism. The policy adopted by the Stalinized Comintern equated social democracy and fascism as “twin brothers,” and that in reality, social democracy was just a variant of fascism. Trotsky eviscerated the policy of social fascism, instead, arguing for a United Front with social democrats against fascism.
As Trotsky explained, whilst fascism and social democracy are both tools of the bourgeoisie – that does not mean that they are the same in relation to the working-class. Fascism is dedicated to wiping out the organising capacity of the working-class, whilst social democracy is a tool to control the working class through reforms or the false promise of reforms under capitalism. Ultimately, both must be defeated if socialist revolution is to occur. However, as Trotsky stated:
“When one of my enemies sets before me small daily portions of poison and the second, on the other hand, is about to shoot straight at me, then I will first knock the revolver out of the hand of my second enemy, for this gives me an opportunity to get rid of my first enemy. But that does not at all mean that the poison is a ‘lesser evil’ in comparison to the revolver.”
Let me quickly clarify that I acknowledge that the Democratic Party is not the same as the SPD in Germany, and is not a social democratic party. The Democratic Party is the oldest capitalist party in the world. However, in the US context, where there has never been a mass social democrat or labor party, the Democrats morphed from the party of slavery into the party of ‘progressive reform’. They have played an analogous role to that of Labour in the UK, serving to trap the working class behind the dead-end of parliamentary reformism and away from revolutionary socialism. They have been labelled the “grave yard” of progressive social movements for a reason! Like the social democrat parties in the UK, Australia, France and elsewhere, the Democrats rely on their relationship with the parasitic trade union bureaucracy to maintain these illusions. Even though the economic nationalism of the likes of AFL-CIO President Trumka may have led them to flirt with support for Trump – when it came round to the 2020 election, the union bureaucracy fell in 100 percent behind Biden and the Democrats.
I don’t contend that any of this makes the Democrats ‘progressive’, or anything other than arch reactionaries. Biden has already made it clear by his choices for his cabinet, that if he is able to take office, he will preside over a right-wing, hawkish government of austerity – hostile to the working class. The days when the Democrats could even offer up the thin gruel of mild reforms has long since passed.
Whilst the Democrats are backed by, and serve finance capital and large sections of the military-intelligence complex – they rest for popular support on the trade unions and the oppressed minorities, offering them the illusion of reforms. Whilst such illusions have been dashed for many and, in fact, the Democrats are indeed hated by many workers, the recent huge vote for Biden shows they have not completely exhausted this class function. They might be a zombie party— but until a mass socialist movement can kill the zombie, it will lumber on as if still living.
Relying for support on the trade unions and the broad mass of working people means that the Democrats cannot morph into a fascist party in the same way that the Republican Party has. They can be authoritarian war mongers, but they cannot beat the fascist drum in the way Trump can, even if they wanted!
It is therefore a mistake to equate the two major parties in the US in relation to the working class. To do so is to repeat the same disorienting “social fascism” mistake of the Stalinists but in modern form. To do so is to “miss the fascist forest for the trees of reformism”. (End quote)
Now, let us revisit the rule that this section presumably contravened: “Do not promote voting/campaigning for liberals like Biden and Macron as ‘harm reduction’ or try to claim they’re ‘the lesser evil’.”
There patently is no encouragement in the article to vote or campaign for liberals, so one must assume, that despite my references to the Democrats as being “ ..a party of reaction, capitalist imperialism, and as a faithful servant of the bourgeoisie”, “ arch reactionaries”, “backed by and serve finance capital and large sections of the military-intelligence complex“ and stating both parties “ must be defeated if socialist revolution is to occur”, I somehow still managed to claim they were the “lesser evil” in the eyes of the moderators!
I have to assume that my assertion that the Democrats rested on different class forces than the Republicans and served a different class function for the ruling class was interpreted as an argument that the Democrats are ‘better’ than the Republicans. This is despite arguing clearly that both the fascist and ‘progressive’ factions of the bourgeoisie are united in their aims of suppressing the working-class but use different methods. Obviously, the moderators were not swayed and found impermissible the arguments of Leon Trotsky that I quoted, which refuted the accusations of “lesser evilism” made against him when he sort to analyse the different factions of the bourgeoisie in Germany in the early 1930’s.
If one is not even allowed to make such analysis, how can any sense be made of the simple fact that the far right/fascist forces within the US ruling-class are using the Republican Party as their vehicle currently and not the Democrat Party? If the parties are exactly ‘the same’ why are the MAGA mobs charging the capital to try and stop Biden’s becoming Presidency?
Of course this conception can be argued against and indeed may be wrong. However, to shut down debate over these issues on a forum, as large and important as the Socialism sub-reddit is politically criminal. The question must be asked- whose class interests does such censorship serve? Whatever the motivations of the moderators themselves – the fact is – such actions only benefit the ruling-class by not allowing the working-class to clarify and argue out such important issues. It should be remembered, that the failures of the Stalinist Comintern in its position on German fascism, was what finally drove Trotsky to work towards replacing it with the Fourth International. If fascism can consolidate in the US today, world socialism will face a similar reckoning.
Although it’s not the crucial issue, it should be added that there is no evidence that the readership of the sub-reddit, by-and-large, shared the views of the Reddit moderators/censors. The article received 5 upvotes and no negative comments before it was removed.
It is also worth noting that Reddit itself, is a large capitalist venture. It was valued at over 3 billion dollars in 2019 and its revenues are approximately 100 millions dollars a year. It is majority owned by the media conglomerate, Conde Naste. With Facebook, Twitter, Google and Amazon- so much of our political speech is conducted on these capitalist forums, that are dedicated to only making money and in many ways incorporated into the security-intelligence complex. It is bad enough as Marxists that we have to deal with the inevitable censorship of our speech by these capitalist entities on behalf of the ruling-class. It is altogether another matter to submit to unreasonable censorship from other Marxists.
The classconsciuos.org website and myself as the author- demand that the moderators of the Socialism sub-reddit immediately reverse the banning of the class-conscious-site account. At this crucial moment in history such arbitrary actions of censorship are intolerable.