Antonio Gramsci was a leader of the Communist Party of Italy in the early 20th century. The Fascists and the Communists struggled for control of that country and Benito Mussolini’s Fascists eventually prevailed. A couple years after Mussolini rose to power, Gramsci was imprisoned where he remained for the last ten years of his life. It was during this time that Gramsci formulated a strategy to overthrow western Capitalism:
Gramsci called for a methodical approach to infiltrate, capture, and reform education, the press, the cinema, theatre, the government, and the church, what he called “the long march through the institutions.” He said Capitalism had a cultural hegemony through violence and coercion, both political and economic, but also ideologically, which is where the battle lay.
I will return to his flawed premise that “Capitalism had a cultural hegemony through violence and coercion” later. First, I’ll illuminate how Gramsci’s subversion of Western institutions was implemented because the damage that has followed is still with us today.
The efforts of those that came after Gramsci to foster the ideas of Communism have seeded western institutions with Progressive memes–a meme is the cultural analogue of a biological gene; it’s a concept or idea that traces through a segment of society. Memes are not inherently right or wrong, but rather they are a tool in the battle of ideas. Gramsci’s intellectual progeny cultivated leftist, socialist, progressive, and communist memes in their battle with the classical, western liberal ideals. The vectors for these intellectual viruses vary, but there use against the United States has been routine for quite some time. In 2006 Eric S. Raymond summarized that history in an article titled Gramscian damage:
…ideological and memetic warfare has been a favored tactic for all of America’s three great adversaries of the last hundred years — Nazis, Communists, and Islamists. All three put substantial effort into cultivating American proxies to influence U.S. domestic policy and foreign policy in favorable directions. Yes, the Nazis did this, through organizations like the “German-American Bund” that was outlawed when World War II went hot. Today, the Islamists are having some success at manipulating our politics through fairly transparent front organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
But it was the Soviet Union, in its day, that was the master of this game. They made dezinformatsiya (disinformation) a central weapon of their war against “the main adversary”, the U.S. They conducted memetic subversion against the U.S. on many levels at a scale that is only now becoming clear as historians burrow through their archives and ex-KGB officers sell their memoirs.
The Soviets had an entire “active measures” department devoted to churning out anti-American dezinformatsiya. A classic example is the rumor that AIDS was the result of research aimed at building a ‘race bomb’ that would selectively kill black people.
The Soviets consciously followed the Gramscian prescription; they pursued a war of position, subverting the “leading elements” of society through their agents of influence. (See, for example, Stephen Koch’s Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals; summary by Koch here) This worked exactly as expected; their memes seeped into Western popular culture and are repeated endlessly in (for example) the products of Hollywood.
While the espionage apparatus of the Soviet Union didn’t outlast it, their memetic weapons did.
Those memetic weapons continue to disrupt the institutions that Gramsci originally targeted. Those seeds of Soviet socialism continue to propagate and sprout within America’s institutions. The latest example of Gramscian damage has been found in America’s heartland in the University of Missouri. This past Monday morning Publius at Big Government posted video of a union leader and professor teaching a how-to course about violent union tactics. By noon Monday a second video detailing violent union tactics was released.
The courses in question, Introduction to Labor Studies and Labor Politics and Society, are taught across multiple campuses with a video connection. The university has acknowledged that they are “reviewing the entire unedited tape of the class.” Perhaps the university should release that unedited tape.
P. J. Salvatore at Big Journalism noted the videos as well as the Gramscian damage that plagues America’s media institutions:
Considering the fair coverage the unions received in Madison and how the media refused to cover the violent behavior and death threats union supporters used against peaceful dissenters, how do you think this story will play out in MSM, if at all?
It wont play out (without your help). In fact, one of the professors, Judy Ancel, had an op-ed in the Kansas City Star Monday evening: ‘Right to work’ legislation in Missouri would hurt everyone. So expect the MSM to ignore and suppress this story.
The irony of Gramsci’s premise that Capitalism is rooted in violence and coercion is complete as we see the institutions teaching, threatening, and whitewashing violence. To say that Gramsci missed his mark is to understate the obvious.
The reality is that citizen journalists and upstart websites are repairing the Gramscian damage that’s been done to our media. Within our educational institution that work is being done by some of the institutions themselves. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers 2000 open access, online courses. Perhaps the University of Missouri should follow the lead of MIT and put all of their courses online. There is one company, The Great Courses, explicitly capitalizing on the best professors around the world by selling their lectures on DVD. I highly recommend the weekly EconTalk podcasts from George Mason economics professor Russ Roberts. And there are the remarkable presentations and lectures from TED. Excellence in education is being pioneered online, but underneath these advances in higher education, there is a growing and vibrant community of homeschoolers training students from pre-K through high school. The necessity of educating one’s own children has fostered this immune response to the Gramscian memes that have infected our government schools.
Tuesday morning, Dan Riehl noted the tax payer money going to the University of Missouri:
…one might ponder why hardworking American taxpayers are forced to fund an institution touting a course in how to undermine America, both at home and abroad – including in Iraq and Afghanistan while we’re at war – to the tune of 400 Million dollars.
In an era of tight government finances the process of pruning the Gramscian damage must be aggressive. The private sector alternatives like The Great Courses are modestly priced and often of greater quality. The free, online alternatives are often excellent, too. That is why I believe that Antonio Gramsci’s “long march through the institutions” may very well burst the education bubble as more and more people flee failed government-funded education for the private sector or free online courses.
You’ve no doubt seen his image on a t-shirt. It’s an image so fashionable in youth pop culture that you can actually buy a t-shirt with an image of this man wearing his own t-shirt on it. Of course we are talking about revolutionary rock star Che Guevara. Unfortunately most occupants of those t-shirts know little to nothing about Che and what they think they do is likely a fairy tale.
Despite being most famous (or infamous) for his exploits in Cuba, Che was born in Argentina to a father of Irish descent and a Marxist mother of Spanish descent. As a result, Che’s full name is Ernesto Rafael Guevara Lynch De La Serna which would have made him simply “Mr. Lynch” like his father. Not the most exciting of names but better than the nickname of ” Cancho”, or pig, that his youthful peers would give him due to his lack of bathing. He would retain his aversion to hygiene throughout his life.
But what about Ernesto’s nom de guerre, the ubiquitous and prestigious “Che?” The term “Che” is used by Argentines much like “dude” is in the States or “chico” is in Cuba. Ernesto used the term to punctuate his sentences so frequently that his Cuban counterparts started calling him Che. In short, Che is the South American equivalent of fictional deadbeat Jeff Lebowski. The Dude (Che) Abides.
Fast forward to January of 1957 and we find Che riding the communist coattails of Fidel Castro in the hills of Cuba. Up to this point, Che has done nothing in his life that has been the least bit remarkable, but today that will change. Castro orders his personal bodyguard, Universo Sanchez, to execute suspected Batista informer Eutimio Guerra. This is the first known execution of an “enemy of the revolution” and a somewhat reluctant Sanchez hesitates. Che does not. The relatively unknown foot soldier and medic strolls up to Guerra, places his pistol to his head, and fires. “I fired a .32 caliber bullet into the right hemisphere of his brain that came out through his temple” Che would later write in his diary.
Che has at last found something that he enjoys, something he is good at. So much so that he wrote his father to tell him: “I’d like to confess, papa, at that moment I put a bullet in a man’s head and watched him die slowly, I discovered that I really like killing.” Not killing on the field of battle mind you, but killing the defenseless. Castro was sufficiently impressed with his new executioner that he would later put Che in charge of La Cabana prison where he would use those skills daily on the people of Cuba.
Jon Lee Anderson, the author of “Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life,” has stated “I have yet to find a single credible source pointing to a case where Che executed an innocent.” Really? Let’s enlighten Mr. Anderson with the example of Colonel Cornelius Rojas who disappeared one evening in 1959. Rojas was a police officer, philanthropist, and devoted family man. He came from a long line of brave Cubans who fought for the independence of their country. After a week of frantically searching for the missing paterfamilias and fearing the worst, this is what three generations of his family witnessed on Cuban television.
The proud Rojas had bravely walked to the wall himself, faced the firing squad without a blindfold, and ordered them to fire himself. “FUEGO!” His wife immediately collapsed at home and fell dead of a heart attack after witnessing his brutal murder at the hands of Che’s firing squad. The shock also sent his pregnant daughter into labor and she bore the executed Rojas’ grandson prematurely that same evening. This is the legacy of Che Guevara, kidnapping innocent men without informing the families and executing them on television without trial, still wearing the same street clothes as when they were abducted.
Che apologists such as Anderson continue to espouse a man who himself stated “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.” And kill he did. Che’s victims included gays, rockers, young boys, hipsters, pregnant women, and the mentally retarded. The Cuba Archive continues to perform the difficult task of documenting the names and dates of those executed without due process by Che.
Despite the gallons of blood spilled in La Cabana, Che still longed for killing on an even grander scale. After the Cuban Missile crisis in November of 1962, Che told the London Daily Worker “If the nuclear missiles had remained we would have used them against the very heart of America, including New York City … We will march the path of victory even if it costs millions of atomic victims … We must keep our hatred alive and fan it to paroxysm.”
After a brief stop in the Congo to “lead” a group of monkey-skin clad cannibals, Che eventually travels to Bolivia in 1967 with delusions of starting a revolution there. He tricks a few people into joining his tiny group and leads them around in circles in the jungle, experiencing the same successes there as he did in Africa, which is to say none at all. He instructs this group to fight to the death should they encounter any resistance. The “rebels” soon do encounter a group of Bolivian rangers and dutifully follow Che’s orders, fighting to the last man.
Che on the other hand had no stomach for fighting or dying. He and a Bolivian miner named Willy moved methodically towards the rangers until they were within earshot. According to Bolivian General Luis Teran, Che then yelled loudly “I surrender! Don’t kill me! I’m worth more alive than dead!” A fully armed and nearly unscathed Che then raised his carbine and surrendered to only two Bolivian rangers. So much for Che’s fabled machismo.
Che tried desperately to convince the Bolivian authorities of his value but they were uninterested in his prattle. Ironically his case was even pleaded by a Cuban-born CIA agent named Felix Rodriguez who did believe Che held useful information. The Bolivians would have none of it and on October 9th, 1967, Che was executed. His hands were cut off to facilitate fingerprinting and ensure positive identification and his body was buried in an unmarked grave.
There is simply too much evil in Che to capture it all in a single article. He was a murderer, an abuser of animals, a narcissist, a coward, a military failure, an economic imbecile, a racist, and a deserter of two wives. And yet he still has his followers.
Today Che is a pop culture icon, a darling of the entertainment world, and still the toast of liberals everywhere. These useful idiots strut around donned with merchandise and tattoos bearing his likeness, blissfully ignorant of the real Che. So how is it that a man as vicious and despicable as Che could become the poster boy for freedom, love, and peace? It was no accident.
By the late 1960’s, Cuba’s once vibrant country was in shambles. The promises of liberation by Castro and Che had resulted in a total economic collapse and a starving population. Castro needed to put a smiley face on his regime and he picked the now “martyred” Che. According to Lieutenant General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest ranking Soviet bloc official ever to be granted political asylum in the United States:
In 1970, the Castro brothers shifted Che’s sanctification into high gear. Alberto Korda, a Cuban intelligence officer working undercover as a photographer for the Cuban newspaper Revolución, produced a romanticized picture of Che. That now-famous Che, wearing long, curly locks of hair and a revolutionary beret with a star on it, and looking straight into the viewer’s eyes, is the logo advertising Soderbergh’s movie.
It is noteworthy that this picture of Che was introduced to the world by a KGB operative working undercover as a writer—I. Lavretsky, in a book entitled Ernesto Che Guevara, which was edited by the KGB. The KGB entitled the picture “Guerrillero Heroico” and disseminated it throughout South America—Cuba’s area of influence. Italian millionaire publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, another communist romantically involved with the KGB, flooded the rest of world with Che’s picture printed on posters and T-shirts. Feltrinelli became a terrorist himself, and he was killed in 1972 while planting a bomb outside Milan.
So the iconic picture most associate with Che was nothing more than communist propaganda. And what of the writings of such luminaries as Jon Lee Anderson? His sources are primarily KGB and Castro approved books and documents bereft of any accounts from the Cubans who were actually brutalized by Che. To paraphrase author Humberto Fontova, this is like chronicling Hitler using the writings of Joseph Goebbels while dismissing Anne Frank as a heretic. If you want a true account of Che’s Cuba, go to the Versailles restaurant in Miami and the Cuban exiles having their coffee will enlighten you.
There is hope that a younger generation is finally looking past the fabricated window dressing of Che’s image. Some sport satirical T-shirts that spoof the original while Australian rockers “The Clap” mock the Che Guevara T-Shirt wearer who has no Cuban friends and knows nothing of the man. “You didn’t know that he wasn’t the singer of a political rock band.” Share the video with an ignorant undergrad and you may even foster some independent thought.
Having been involved in the genesis of a well-known protest, I know how everyone, including the media, gets the facts wrong when they try to ascertain the reason such events occur. The media won’t ever pay the real movers and shakers of protests any notice because they don’t know who any of them are. They need comfy, famous names and faces to do part of their job for them. It’s been almost 2 years after the Tea Party Movement started and our own media still doesn’t know who started it, and in most cases, they still don’t know why!
On the morning of January 28th, 2011, 3 days after the first day of the Egyptian protests, I was reading through the #Jan25 hashtag stream on Twitter, and I noticed that most of the foreign tweets were in Arabic. No big deal… my browser has a “translate this page” feature, just click and voilà, the entire page is translated. The problem is, I started noticing that many of the Arabic #Jan25 tweets were using phrases that sounded like Karl Marx fanboys passing socialist love notes back and forth to one another in class. Since we at The Graph focus on combating the worldview of neo-Marxists, it’s easy for us to spot Marxist propaganda. So, I put on my grassroots protester hat and started digging in the social web streams, because that’s where grassroots protesters work their magic.
In America, people are concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood are involved in the origination of these protests. In many tweets from Egyptians/Arabs in the #Jan25 stream people were very adamant about the Muslim Brotherhood not being the group responsible for the protests. The Muslim Brotherhood sounds like the Tea Party Express of the Egyptian protests – the western mainstream media is incorrectly attributing them for something they didn’t create.
I found no tweets in the #Jan25 hashtag stream espousing Islamic extremism. However, most Egyptians still link Sharia with justice.
These Egyptian grassroots political activists, most of them socialist/Marxist/unionist, used the momentum of the recent “revolution” in Tunisia to kick-off their January 25th protests. But who was behind the protests in Tunisia? Were the same people responsible there? If you look at the people who were appointed to the new Tunisian government, that should be obvious. Socialists. In the first post-Ben Ali government, the following new people were initially selected to serve as part of a 17 member cabinet. The other members were pre-existing members from the old regime:
- Mustapha Ben Jafar from the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties – This party is an advisory member of the Socialist International and is a coalition member with the Communist Party of Tunisian Workers
- Ahmed Ibrahim of the Movement Ettajdid – A socialist party originally known as the Tunisian Communist Party
- Ahmed Najib Chebbi of the Progressive Democratic Party – This party was formerly known as the Progressive Socialist Rally
- And 3 members of the Tunisian General Labour Union – This group is part of the communist-created and global socialist organization, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). Seems the head of the AFL (now the AFL-CIO) was in a pissing match with the Soviets at the time, otherwise they’d all be part of the WFTU.
Are you seeing a pattern?
Once it was decided by the activists in Egypt that protests were a “go”, they presented idea that they should use the January 25th holiday of “Police Day” (ironic, eh?) to launch their protests in Egypt. The activists’ thinking, based on blogs and tweets, was that the police wouldn’t be very motivated to mobilize against their protests on their holiday. Many of the activists have said that they were taken by the momentum of this particular protest, because they’ve organized many in the past that were quick to fizzle out.
Some of the activists were interviewed on Al Jazeera saying that there was no official party or group control of the protest, but their affiliations were quickly evident when searching them online. Al Jazeera didn’t bother pointing out that these two activists, among those who have been placed front and center by the protesters, are self-described socialists too.
- Gigi Ibrahim (pictured above left) – socialist activist, Egypt. She lists quotes from Marx among her favorite quotes on Facebook. She has also lived in Anaheim, CA.
- Wael Khalil – socialist activist/blogger, Egypt
The BBC World Service also interviewed Ms. Ibrahim, but the BBC didn’t bother pointing out Gigi’s socialism either. If you listen to any of these activists speak, they’re all crying for “democracy”, which, in their case, is apparently synonymous with socialism. Sure, they all despise Hosni Mubarak, but they would’ve protested anyone who wasn’t a socialist in the aftermath of the Tunisian protesters’ success.
Here are some of the more well-known socialists groups involved in kicking off the January 25th protests (this list isn’t meant to be exhaustive as I’ve been trying to get up to speed on all this during the last 24 hours):
- Kafya/Kefaya – “The Egyptian Movement for Change” – Translated to English it means “enough”. It’s made up of socialists, Marxists, (seems ‘Change’ means the same to them as it did to Barack) secularists and Islamists. Some see this group as Mubarak’s primary opposition group.
- Tagammu – “National Progressive Unionist Party” – a socialist political party in Egypt that rejects religious extremism.
- Mahalla/April 6th – a large group of unionists/socialists and their youth supporters. They launched a massive strike on April 6th, 2008, in Mahalla, Egypt, now known as the April 6th Youth Movement. Two of the recognized leaders of this movement Kamal Mohamed el-Fayoumi and Tarek Amin are well-known socialists in Egypt. In between the April 6th, 2008 strike and the January 25th, 2011 protests, Kamal participated in Socialist Days 2009 in Cairo, Egypt as a speaker. Socialist Days 2009 is also where Chris Harman, a well-known socialist author, and Marxist propagandist, from the UK, died while lecturing.
- The Center for Socialist Studies – an Egyptian group in Giza committed to bringing about “revolutionary socialism”. Led by director Kamal Khalil. The picture to the right is of Kamal Khalil and Kamal Mohamed el-Fayoumi (the leader of April 6th, mentioned above) at Socialist Days 2007. You can see the Center’s Twitter stream here.
- Nasserites – mainly Arab nationalism combined with socialism and secularism. Named after former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nassar. These supporters tended to be older in age and were in much smaller numbers at the protests, but their worldview is mostly consistent with their younger counterparts.
Another socialist activist, who was heavily involved in getting out the word via blogs and Twitter, said of this Kayfa ( one of the organizations mentioned above) member photographed below, “The best shot I took today.” The Kayfa sticker he’s holding probably says more about his leftist politics than Jihadi mayhem.
What do the protesters want? Well, originally, they wanted these demands met:
- To raise the minimum wage limit to LE 1200 and to get an unemployment aid.
- To cancel the emergency status in the country , to dismiss Habib El-Adly and to release all detainees without court orders. (this is in response to the alleged murder of Khaled Said)
- Disbanding the current parliament , to have a new free election and to amend the constitution in order to have two presidential limits only.
Although, now that the violence has escalated, curfews have been implemented, and an Internet blackout was forced by the government, many protesters are calling for a complete and total regime change. Mubarak firing his existing cabinet is not enough for some.
Some of you might say, “But you’re the guy who started The Graph. You guys are anti-Marxist.” That’s true, but you don’t have to take my word for all the above. Take the word of socialist organizations from around the world (just a few of the many articles out there):
- “Egypt and the fight for socialist revolution” – World Socialist Web Site
- “Tunisian Revolution Spreads, Egypt Regime Cowers” – Socialist Revolution, a socialist youth propaganda organization
- “Uprising In Egypt – The Revolution Is Spreading” – The Socialist Appeal
My takeaway from all this is that the Muslim Brotherhood has not been instrumental in this movement to date. The socialists involved in the January 25th uprising do not trust the Muslim Brotherhood politically because they see that group as beholden to Egyptian capitalism. However, the Brotherhood has money, powerful people who don’t mind engaging in murder, and years of organization on their side. If they want to co-opt this movement, they’ll be a force that the Egyptian neo-Marxists have to deal with.
Based on the people involved in the Tunisian movement, the April 6th Youth Movement/Mahalla Strike, and those involved in the creation of the January 25th protests, it’s clear that the current “revolution” in Africa has more to do with socialism than it does about Islamic fundamentalism, although the latter is playing a strong secondary role within some of the factions. Socialism has very deep roots in the Egypt and the Middle East going back to the era of Salama Moussa who wrote the first Arabic book on socialism in 1912 titled, “Al-Ishtirākiyya (The Socialism)”. Moussa also helped form Egypt’s Socialist Party (later to be renamed the Communist Party in 1923) in 1921 alongside the likes of foreigner Joseph Rosenthal.
It seems as if there’s no real alternative to dictators or socialist organizations in Egypt and many other countries in the Middle East. The better question to ask is, “Who isn’t a socialist in Egypt?” If you remove a dictator there, you’re bound to end up with some flavor of socialism as a result. Capitalism is evil to Islamic socialists because it’s of the Western non-believer. Socialism is allowed to flourish to a degree, but under dictators it’s mostly just a bone to throw to the masses as appeasement. Arab socialism is different in some ways to the old Soviet communism because of the Islamic influence rejecting the Soviet tenets that were incompatible with the worldview of Muslims. As evidenced by the poll earlier in this post, many of the secular leftists in this region accept Sharia as being generally beneficial.
Where does George Soros fit into all this? Or does he? I engaged one of the Egyptian socialist activists on Twitter to learn more about the origin of the protests. When I asked who was originally behind the movement, he linked me to GlobalVoices. You can see the tweet here. Who funds GlobalVoices? Soros’ Open Society Institute, of course. It’s interesting that Soros-funded GlobalVoices’ January 25 protest timeline starts with a post on the 23rd asking if the January 25th protests were going to be Egypt’s Intifada.
Intifada was the word given to the uprising, or shaking off, in the 1987 Gaza/West Bank clash between Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israelis. During this First Intifada, Zachary Lockman wrote, “Israeli forces killed an estimated 1,100 Palestinians and Palestinians killed 164 Israelis, Palestinians killed an estimated 1,000 other Palestinians as alleged collaborators, although fewer than half had any proven contact with the Israeli authorities”. How nice of a Soros-funded GlobalVoices to suggest Intifada. I think it’s worth investigating to see if Soros did have a hand in the protests in Tunisia and Egypt.
Leave it to the mainstream media to get yet another modern historical protest wrong. The Tea Party protests and the January 25 protests have almost nothing in common, save for the fact that the media doesn’t seem too interested in either protests’ precise origin. On behalf of the lamestream media, I nominate the Tea Party Express and the Muslim Brotherhood for the “irrelevant fire-starter” award.
As I’ve been writing this post, protests have begun in Saudi Arabia (doubt their protesters get too far), Yemen, Albania, and Jordan. Any takers on what ideology is behind the rest these protests? There are already reports of the Socialist Party speaking out in Albania against the current government there.