Points of Unity

These are the basic political principles and positions that members of our group are expected to uphold and defend, as well as our terms of formal affiliation with other groups in our project of forming a larger scale organization.

  1. Communism is a worldwide stateless society where money and markets have been abolished and production is collectively planned by all. It is the abolition of all exploitation and oppression, where the segmentation of human beings into classes, nationalities, races and genders has been transcended. Rather than mere worker ownership of factories or state-control of resources, communist society is one within which “value” as we know it has been abolished and free access to goods has replaced markets and rationing. Also abolished is the mental/manual division of labor, where permanent attachment to menial work-task specialization is replaced by a great reduction of the social working day, allowing for a maximization of leisure time and fluidity between different forms of socially necessary labor. Under communism, phenotypes like skin color which function unevenly today as markers of racial and ethnic distinction will carry no more significance than differences of eye color. Similarly, the superficial surface markers of gender identity will carry no necessary power to govern minds and bodies. Masculinity and femininity will be purged of relations of domination and forced labor and become nothing more necessarily socially significant than personal fashion preferences or subcultural affinity. However, this society will not emerge through self-sufficient communes or an immediate change in the social order without transition. Capitalism itself is a product of history developed from previous social orders and communism will be no different.

  1. Communism can only be achieved through the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat, a class whose self-emancipation is the emancipation of all humanity. The proletariat are those without reserves who must sell their labor power to survive, compelled by these conditions to engage in the economic and political battle against capitalism. There is no other “revolutionary subject” that can lead the struggle for communism nor any kind of substitute for the class struggle. In order to triumph in the class struggle the proletariat must organize into a world-wide political party around a programme that expresses its exclusive class interests. Cops and strike-breakers are not part of the proletariat and are class enemies in all circumstances.

  1. We are internationalists. We oppose all forms of imperialism and refuse to side with our own nation-states in worldwide conflicts. In situations of imperialist war the only sensible position to take is revolutionary defeatism: to pursue transforming imperialist war into a revolutionary civil war against world capitalism. We also reject all forms of nationalism as an obstacle to revolution and reject political alliances with nationalists of all stripes. It is unprincipled to maintain anything other than strict organizational independence in relation to those who uphold the nation-state as a positive political force, whether it be those espousing patriotism for our own countries or “national self-determination” for oppressed groups. This includes rejecting “socialism in one country” or any other national road to socialism. Communist revolution must be international in scope or nothing. In logical continuity with our internationalist principles is also our conviction in the importance of upholding a pro-immigrant stance. This means support for the abolition of borders and maintaining an uncompromising position against all forms of xenophobia and national chauvinism. Anything less would mean departure from the basic ethic of working class solidarity.

  1. As communists we also offer a critique of existing relations that attacks the totality of social life, not merely the economy or state. We are not “color-blind” marxists who ignore the real social realities of racism, which is deeply embedded into the class structure of modern capitalism through the historic legacies of colonialism and slavery. The struggle against capitalism is inherently tied in with the struggle against the social construct of white supremacy, which entails fighting against racial divisions within the working class as well as in society at large. Regarding questions of gender and sexuality we also reject an approach which treats these issues as secondary. Gender oppression is rooted in the sexual division of labor and its abolition is part and parcel to the transcendence of class society. This will necessitate the abolition of the patriarchal family and the socialization of domestic labor, which will no longer be regarded as essentially feminine. Rather than repeating empty calls for an inorganic ‘class unity’ which deliberately glosses over non-class forms of oppression, we must actively work against the segmentation of the working class by racism, national oppression and patriarchy. This also entails actively opposing attitudes such as transphobia, rape culture, homophobia, anti-semitism and islamophobia. Although we reject prefigurative politics — the idea that ‘islands of communism’ can be built in our movement or in a subcultural milieu — it is nonetheless the responsibility of a movement to create spaces whereby political free association which transcends the divisions of race or ethnicity, linguistic barriers, national origin, gender identity and disability can occur. The problem with identity-nationalism or separatism and post-structuralist identity politics is not in addressing these issues as such, but in failing to recognize their root causes in the material reproduction of society.

  1. We categorically reject that the USSR and its various offshoots such as the People’s Republic of China and Cuba are examples of socialist societies or functioning proletarian dictatorships which serve as models for us to use. While no functioning communist society has existed, we point to the Paris Commune, the early days of the Russian Revolution, the German revolution, the Shanghai Commune and aspects of the Spanish Civil War as historical moments where the working class grappled with the task of forming a new society.

  1. As communists we aim for the abolition of the state but cannot deny that any collective project of changing the world means grappling with political power. This doesn’t mean participating in elections to take power through capturing the bourgeois state as is (an impossibility) but rather developing an alternative to bourgeois politics. Ultimately the proletariat must form its own political institutions independent from other classes and develop the capacity to smash the bourgeois state, take power as a class and abolish capitalist relations (the dictatorship of the proletariat). Such institutions must be genuinely controlled by and accountable to the masses of revolutionary workers. The proletariat cannot legitimately come to power through a conspiratorial putsch or coup, nor can it come into power through alliances with the bourgeoisie.

  1. We uphold the right to open debate, factions and accountable collective decision-making within revolutionary organizations, especially our own. This means opposing bureaucratic centralism and working against the development of unaccountable caste-like layers of leadership. All disputes among fraternal and comradely groups and individuals are to be aired publicly and to be conducted in a manner befitting organizational discipline. Threatening splits to assert minoritarian vetoes over rank and file majorities, personalistic politics, lack of transparency — all of these are roads to degeneration for any organization. We also reject secretive and authoritarian “cadre” models of organization that are based on an unchallenged dictatorship of the central leadership over the rank-and-file. Proletarian organizations will either function according to norms of internal democracy or fail. However, we also recognize that democratic forms as such do not have an inherently communist content and that democracy when meaning the sharing of power between antagonistic classes is to be rejected.

  1. We deny political support for all bourgeois parties, including those belonging to the left-wing of capital. Throughout history various factions of the left have served not to advance the class struggle towards communism but to stifle it. This entails recognizing that our enemies aren’t limited to outright reactionaries but also those who defend capitalism under a veneer of anti-bourgeois radicalism. Strategies of Popular Frontism or “mass line” politics can only open the door to opportunism. While strategic work with the rank-and-file of certain organizations may be necessary and beneficial, actual political alliances with reformist or reactionary groups can only mean sacrificing our political independence.

  1. While we do not discourage workers from joining unions to defend their basic economic needs, we recognize that the class struggle must extend beyond the limitations of unionism. Unions are organs of mediation between workers and capital and are thereby structurally compelled to develop bureaucratic and conservative tendencies that will push against revolutionary class struggle. Repeatedly throughout history, the union bureaucracy has proven itself to be a conservative force that stifles the development of the workers’ struggle and act as a roadblock in the fight for communism. Therefore we reject a strategy of union entryism that seeks to recuperate the existing unions and employ them towards revolutionary ends, instead advancing the autonomy of the working class from capital and the existing union bureaucracy.

39 thoughts on “Points of Unity

    • To say that only one shade of humans can be racist is a very racist anti-communist position. “White supremacy” theory came from bourgeois (mostly imperialist) universities, this is why so many white people leave the left and join fascists, its very dangerous historically incorrect and anti-proletarian class contradictions are the fundamental in every social formation in all the world from Haiti to Poland and all over

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    • In your website – the points of unity – I found an ideal place where people think and talk in original manner in the service of toiling humanity and their struggle against a tiny global caucus of capitalists out to enslave them to quench its greed of more and more money. It is wonderful – and really courageous – on your part to start from the “Capital” of Marx; it is starting from the source to the destination. Most of the present-day communist organizations start the other way round – starting from Mao Zedong’s or Che Guerra or …. like them to Lenin to Marx and Engel. They hate to talk of the original premises and ideas of Communism. I would suggest that you include in your group deliberations the books like “Dilectics of Nature” and “Anti – Dhuring” etc. to broaden the scope of our discussion. I would like to share my thoughts on all the relevant issues. I may be wrong in my ideas but I think we should re-establish “communist social order” as the ideal of humanity and “Dialectics, a philosophical percept” on a scientific pedestal – ever growing, reforming, self-correcting discipline of knowledge.
      Shreepal Singh

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  1. I agree with the points. I’m very much interested to have regular exchange of views with you on theoretical questions as well as current affairs. It would be fine if we could build an international platform based on the basic principles of communism – with others differences kept open to be comradely discussed/debated openly in an organ – to conduct ceaseless revolutionary campaign against capitalism with its all aspects.

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  2. Hi,

    We generally agree with the outline of your points of unity, with some disagreements. We wanted to know, in particular: what tasks do you see as necessary under the DOTP? And: what program would you advocate before and during this period of transition?

    Comradely,

    – M.A.R.S.

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    • Agree with Jamal about the word “democracy”. It’s a tainted word now. But what about “society’s” and “workers councils”? How do you think workers will organise their political dictatorship?

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  3. Agree with Jamal’s point about the word “democracy”. It’s tainted with bourgeois deception. But what about “workers councils” are they not the discovered way of proletarian decision making? Or maybe not?

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  4. Good stuff. Communism is not what most people think it is. I used to work in a worker/ community owned grocery store. We were self sufficient and strong. Until we were attacked by federal labor law legislation.

    Utopian statements?? Yes. I do enjoy them!

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  5. Utopian statements may be fun but I don’t think there’s much utopianism around today, or even to be found In people discussing communism, or in comrades forming communist political groups, with a statement of principles such as is given above. Because, far from being a dream, communism is now an absolute and urgent necessity for world society before capitalism destroys us all and the planet too. After all, capitalism is creaking on its feet, doesn’t know which way to turn, longs to unleash its destructive powers as a means to solving its economic problems and starting again – as it did after the two world wars last century – and is now bedevilled by maniac terrorist fringe groups causing mayhem on its most highly polished doorsteps in Paris, London and New York, to name the obvious examples. These capitalist/terrorist groups, like IS, are of course products of decaying capitalism, serving its interest in their own unpleasant way, and in no sense at all revolutionary.

    But working in a community owned grocery store must have been fun, railroadmusic333, and I’m sorry to hear you got bashed by the authorities. However I would need persuading that such a venture, even “community owned”, represented in any way a serious step to overthrowing capitalism, or even organising to think about doing so. After all communism isn’t what most people think it is, as you say.

    Yet if ever the time was ripe for a real genuine international communist revolution it has surely to be now.

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  6. At the end of para. 4 of your principles above, you say the following.

    “Although we reject prefigurative politics — the idea that ‘islands of communism’ can be built in our movement or in a subcultural milieu — it is nonetheless the responsibility of a movement to create spaces whereby political free association which transcends the divisions of race or ethnicity, linguistic barriers, national origin, gender identity and disability can occur. The problem with identity-nationalism or separatism and post-structuralist identity politics is not in addressing these issues as such, but in failing to recognize their root causes in the material reproduction of society.”

    You reject “islands of communism” quite rightly, but rather like the idea of “spaces” where “political free association” can occur. These specially created spaces are able to transcend all the divisions we loathe and detest about life suffered under capitalism, although you make no suggestions as to how this miracle is achieved.

    I suppose these “spaces”… well it’s a sort of backyard communism. As long as you stay in the liberated space you’ll be okay, but don’t go out in the street. I just wondered whether this concept might not be open to the criticism of being a little idealistic about the harsh reality of this society in which we struggle? Even a bit utopian!

    But then later in the piece I copied above, you seem to reject the idea of the spaces that rise above and offer freedom from all the unpleasant divisions we suffer, and say that the failure of identity politics to recognise that many of the most divisive issues – for myself I’m thinking in particular of gender identity and the weight of patriarchy in capitalist society – have their roots “in the material reproduction of society”; that is to say they have their roots in capitalism itself.

    I may of course have misunderstood what you’re saying and got it all wrong. In which case I’m sorry. But if I’ve more or less got it right, then isn’t there a contradiction here, and doesn’t it mean that “politically free spaces” where a degree of communism, or “communisation” is assumed to be taking place, are really just pie in the sky and fantasies? And in that case is not this whole idea of a gradual communisation just misleading and a distraction from the real task?

    The reason I’m going on about this is because occasionally posters on the libcom web site register their enthusiasm for “liberated spaces” and various types of backyard struggle, and so I think does the group Pale Blue Jadal. The latter are particularly keen on fighting patriarchy. But is their a generation gap here, and is it merely a sign of getting long in the tooth to question the viability today of any compartmentalised struggle?

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  7. Does your group still exist? I agree with much here , but I’m unclear -are you against working to build reform struggles where unions exist? Or, working within unions structures like stewards’ councils or union caucuses while developing cadre cells? Any examples that show your approach?

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    • We still exist and meet every week. We are in the process of updating our PoU on unions because as you point out it is unclear what our strategy is. We are current working within the IWW and trying to build it and reform it to be a more effective union.

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  8. Not sure what being a more effective union ( IWW) means here. They hold the syndicalist strategy of one big union and are anticapitalist. They do have room for ” dual carders” who can be IWW and in a “business” union. Which still poses the same questions.

    I did see a recent post from Tampa IWW that emphasizes building solidarity within each industry. Is that a fair read?

    Looking forward to sharing experiences and ideas,
    Earl

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    • Hi Earl,

      I’m both a member of Communist League of Tampa and the Delegate for the Tampa I.W.W. General Membership Branch. The following views are my own.

      There are two essays I’ve authored on this blog that highlight some of the obstacles I think the IWW is facing today, and how I think it could be more effective. I’m hoping to write some more through December and January on the question of unions.

      My basic outline is that communists ought to fight for ‘class struggle unions’ which unite workers as workers across any boundaries in the industry. One practical example is that we have members in education; an industry with *three* separate unions! Why don’t the faculty, the graduate assistants, and the staff belong to the same union and negotiate together? Surely they could get a better deal for all. That’s partly what I would advocate for, is increased industrial organization.

      The second thing (and this is the IWW’s strong point right now) is putting the organizing tools in the hands of the rank and file. The IWW is fairly good about it’s Organizer Training program, which mirrors committee training in other unions, or stuff put out by Labor Notes. This is something we should continue and expand. The IWW places shopfloor direct action at the core of this training and I think that is largely correct because this will put the tools and confidence for organizing direct action around grievances in the hands of the rank and file as well as introducing them to the nuts and bolts of committee building.

      But where this needs to be built up is in the area of institution building. This is where I think the IWW could learn from some of the more democratic but larger unions.

      Outside the IWW, I think the communist program is to fight for democracy within unions and increased education of the rank and file on behalf of unions on the methods of direct action grievance handling vs. the bureaucratic methods which are predominant. I also think we need to grapple with the question of contracts and stability of local industrial unions, negotiations, and strategies for winning (as the labor movement has been losing for sometime). I also think communists should push for unions to endorse at minimum the broad vision (maximum program) of socialism/communism.

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  9. I totally disagree with the above comment, esppeciallly the last paragraph. The Unions have had their day. In the 19th century they achieved reforms for us. But capital is in advanced decay today. . Reforms are pipe dreams now. Winning over the kind of bureaucracy the unions consist of for our new communist purposes is impossible. You might just as well try and recruit Trump, Clinton or Corbyn to our cause. They no more understand what communism is – and, perhaps more importantly what it isn’t! – than do the unions today, and never will.

    The working class must start to struggle again – on our own terms. We will discover what those terms are as we fight and work and talk together. Just as we discovered the soviet form of democracy in1905. We will rediscover and find new ways. Not the old 19 th century ways but new revolutionary ways.

    Either that, or our communist cause and the planet are done for. Take your pick.

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    • The soviet form, in its core principles of operation, was prefigured in many the Paris Commune and many strike committees. New conditions produce new forms, but we don’t simply wait for these forms to develop but fight with the forms we know and update them to function under current conditions. The fact that a tactic or form of organization is “19th” century” says nothing; strikes go back to Ancient Egypt as far as a I know. Riots have existed as long as cities have.

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  10. Different organizations serve different purposes and, as far as I know, riots have never got anywhere much. We don’t live in slave society, now but in capitalism in advanced decay with the possibility of a new society just over the horizon.

    The 19th century was not the same as now. Capitalism was new and thriving everywhere. Not like now. So reforms were possible. The working class via its Unions was able to make monetary, educational and health against for itself. This is not possible now. The bourgeois can no longer afford reforms and the unions in any case work now to defend whats left of the capitalist system, and do it on behalf of the statusquo which pays them, not for workers

    Unless the working class developes sufficient class consciousness to start thinking and acting autonomously and on its own behalf – without petty bourgeois middle-men interfering and controlling – we will get nowhere. We have to learn from the past.

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    • “Petty-bourgeois” middle-men do not exist due to the will of the working class; they are a product of objective factors in the division of labor. The working class cannot will them out of existence, but they can submit them to democratic control and transform the social division of labor that give rise to them.

      Anyway, the more important point you make is that it is impossible for for reforms to be won under capitalism. This is a claim you’re going to have to prove to me, it seems like an assumption that isn blind to the fact that reforms have been won over the years. Of course, a comprehensive reform of capitalism that will make it a bearable system can’t happen, but this is not what’s being argued. The fact is you’re arguing for a period where unions were once great and won reforms while today they don’t because capitalism objectively can’t cough up the money demanded by workers. However, this relies on romanticization of old labor movement, acting like it didn’t have the same problems of bureaucracy that we have today. Remember, the 1st International broke up because conservative trade unionists disagreed with Marx’s support for commune. Today the labor movement is ruled by an ossified bureaucracy which prevents the working class from winning basic reforms. But the problem is not that the money to pay high wages doesn’t exist; it’s just just that the labor movement isn’t strong enough to give the capitalist class an incentive to reform.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. A few things:

    1. I didn’t say that unions will take the same forms they have in the past. It seems to me that considerable innovation is on the table, in order to grapple with highly financed, intensely centralized capitalist enterprises with geographically dispersed sites of work. This to me implies at a minimum, *true industrial unionism* if not ‘supply chain unionism’ (i.e. organizing warehouse workers at a regional grocer and then using that leverage to send organizers into cities to line up the store-front workers). Aside from these details in strategy/vision are the issues of the relationship between the membership and the organization; extreme democracy and a strict rule of avg. members wages for all staff and officers seems essential. This is what guided the IWW, the U.E., and the MESA in the past (iirc) and is more an issue of *principle* related to form.

    2. This brings me to point two. The fact of the matter is that the wage relation remains and workers need day to day defense on the job. These are the result of capitalism’s normal functions. It is *not the case* that capitalists called forth unions merely to ‘integrate’ labor into the state. At it’s peak something like 35-40% of the private sector was unionized. Furthermore, the state in the U.S. reached out at times to arbitrate disputes, hold elections, and during WWII, bargained with labor as a unit for maintenance of membership and so on in exchange for no-strike promises through the war. But what happened after the war? The attack on unions resumed. Ultimately, what changed to justify capitalists sloughing off this integration now? The simple, left anti-union line is ‘profitability’. This combined with a view of capital as omniscient and omnipotent argues the integration of unions into state arbitrated bargaining regimes as the necessary coup of capital, rather than a series of complicated and different political and class struggles over the nature of unions and workers in capitalist society, which require study and investigation in each iteration. Perhaps the above recommendations aren’t perfectly suitable to Germany or some other countries, but they’re suitable to the united states where unions bargain with employers directly through the vehicles of their organizations, arbitrated somewhat by recalcitrant and capital friendly NLRB.

    3. The issue of ‘affording reforms’ is pretty ridiculous. The historical lineage of most of the unions in the United States as well as what scared the capitalists into legislating labor reform, was a series of strikes and battles in the period that *is routinely referenced as being the worst economic downturn in U.S. history*. How did they afford concessions then? It really is the case, rather, that capitalists have out maneuvered the nationalist labor movement of the united states. Hence the myopia of Bernie(‘Bernstein’) Sanders’ repetition of the AFL-CIO’s nationalist line on immigration policy with respect for ‘jobs’. Without a series consideration of both the need for industrial and internationalist unions, I agree they’re quite doomed.

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  12. ““value” as we know it has been abolished ” this is a little vague to me (given the Law of Value, according to Marx, will always apply) can you clarify a bit what you mean? do you just mean production won’t be for exchange but for consumption? why mention value?

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    • “Value” is the form which labor takes in capitalist society; labor is expressed in value terms as a result of the general social structure. Consider here, in Rubin:

      “Thus the “value form” is the most general form of the commodity economy; it is characteristic of the social form which is acquired by the process of production at a determined level of historical development. Since political economy analyzes a historically transient social form of production, commodity capitalist production, the “form of value” is one of the foundation stones of Marx’s theory of value. As can be seen from the sentences quoted above, the “form of value” is closely related to the “commodity form,” i.e., to the basic characteristic of the contemporary economy, the fact that the products of labor are produced by autonomous, private producers. Aworking connection between producers is brought about only by means of the exchange of commodities. In such a “commodity” form of economy, social labor necessary for the production of a given product is not expressed directly in working units, but indirectly, in the “form of value,” in the form of other products which are exchanged for the given product. The product of labor is transformed into a commodity; it has use value and the social “form of value.” Thus social labor is “reified,” it acquires the “form of value,” i.e., the form of a property attached to things and which seems to belong to the things themselves. This “reified” labor (and not social labor as such) is precisely what represents value. This is what we have in mind when we say that value already includes within itself the social “form of value.””

      Communism is the breaking of the bonds of labor; the destruction of the social foundations of value; private ownership of the means of production and production for exchange in pursuit of profit. Thus, labor is free to be socially directed toward chosen aims. Does this help?

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      • ah perhaps this just bespeaks my own confusion of terms. i thought i had read (though i can not now refind the source so i accept my mistake) that marx argued value was not particular to capitalist society, but existing in all societies–the difference being the form it takes. iow, the “form of value” is distinct from value itself.

        anyway, to my mind, your point is better served by specifying exactly _what_ this form of value is that needs to be abolished (than simply saying it must be otherwise than “as we know it”), which you do in this reply to my satisfaction quite well: “private ownership of the means of production and production for exchange in pursuit of profit.”

        though this bit i am much less sure of “the destruction of the social foundations of value”. this sentiment suggests to me a primitivist bent which i’d find quite concerning, because i take from it you mean we shouldn’t be attempting to produce use values for consumption socially. that may not be what you mean, in any case, i’d appreciate hearing more precisely, and in general thank you for your answers.

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  13. mooreniemi, My intention is not to sustain primitivism but to highlight the complicated and social nature of the power of the bourgeoisie. The *foundation*, which is social, is to be destroyed, but not through a tout court rejection of the social.

    I think Lenin’s recapitulation of the principles and forms of working class rule (‘dictatorship of the proletariat’) is fantastic in State and Revolution. It is a good summary of what Engels and Marx wrote on the subject, with maybe a low point being the over-reliance on soviets.

    Communism is the ‘material human community’, an end to the social alienation at the core of all class societies.

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  14. Have you read the actual works of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and others? I have spent a great deal of time studying the USSR and I promise you, while it was far from perfect, it WAS a shining beacon of socialism and possibly the international proletariat’s last great hope. If your mind is not 100% made up, please visit the Prole Center to learn more.

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