Caleb Maupin’s book on Breadtube is must reading for genuine leftists

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BreadTube Serves Imperialism: Examining The New Brand of Internet Pseudo-Socialism

By Caleb Maupin

DESCRIPTION: A group of liberal commentators with shady origins, loosely calling themselves "BreadTube" have become the primary online pro-socialist voices. The ideology that BreadTubers espouse, however, is not consistent with Marxism-Leninism or genuine anti-capitalism. Drawing from the work of Marx, Lenin, Mao Zedong, William Z. Foster, R. Palme Dutt, Peter Kropotkin and other great revolutionary thinkers, Caleb Maupin shows that BreadTube has emerged due to a power struggle within the US ruling class. Maupin contrasts the BreadTube worldview of pessimism, anti-populism and post-modernism with the hopeful project of 21st Century Socialism around the world. He urges working people to reject the dead-end of identity politics, liberalism and de-growth, and instead to stand against decaying imperialism and its drive toward fascism and war.

Reviewed by P. Greanville

A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favor of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilize openly to assist an external attack. This term is also extended to organised actions by military personnel. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathizers with an external force. The term "fifth column" originated in Spain (originally quinta columna) during the early phase of the Spanish Civil War. It gained extreme popularity in the Loyalist faction media in early October 1936 and immediately started to spread abroad.[1] (Wikipedia)

Adapted to the digital age, the above definition of the widely despised "fifth columnists"—the traitors within—excoriated by the real left since the 1930s, seems to fit the synthetic left that Caleb Maupin aims to warn us about with his book on Breadtube. Perhaps the only difference is that while fifth columnists mostly operated silently, in the shadows, such caution justified by the higher political sophistication of the times and the heavier personal price to pay for discovery, Breadtubers, with their characteristic egotism,  and in many cases lack of sufficient political awareness, literally shout their nonsense from the digital platforms, confident that in the ideologically chaotic and largely politically unsophisticated US, their pronouncements, even if scandalously wrong, won't attract condemnation.  

Their indifference to the damage they inflict on the cause of the actual left virtually defines them. For make no mistake about this, the main, perhaps sole, litmus test for the real left in the last 80 years, and particularly now, when a clearly degenerate and sociopathic empire openly proclaims a posture of endless war against any rival power (including highly capable nuclear-armed nations), has been its position on US imperialism, the most ruthless, devious, and formidable expression of global capitalism ever seen. 

While not all anti-imperialists need to be subjectively on the left, nor directly engaged in the class struggle, no one claiming to be on the left can fail to be against US imperialism in any of its myriad manifestations, nor regurgitate the US exceptionalist canon as if it constituted some form of genuine progressivism. Why? Because imperialism, as Maupin reminds us, is central to the current dilemma.  It is what defines the monster consuming us and everything else that lives through wanton acts of colossal and ghastly exploitation and destruction, and a value system criminally indifferent to the survival of our species and, ecologically speaking, the viability of the planet itself and the multitude of dependant species whose fate humans now totally control. (Ultraleft factions like the New Left, largely grounded in the petite bourgeoisie, and whose philosophical currents included the CIA-influenced Frankfurt School, plus a fair dose of anarchism, libertarianism, and postmodernism, were formally anti-imperialist, but their rejection of mass work and Leninist vanguardism substantially crippled their effectiveness).  

Today, in the second decade of the 21st century, and in the context of real politics, not the grotesque farce that passes for politics in the United States, even a heartfelt embrace of identity politics certainly does not suffice, in fact it is ultimately myopic and self-defeating when it comes to attaining meaningful change. If identity politics were true leftism, a real oppositional and liberating creed, the Democrat party, an undeniable and often in-your-face tool of global capitalism and US exceptionalism, carefully designed and managed to co-opt popular insurgencies, would never support it, yet it does, and with alacrity. Nor would the whorish corporate media—always attentive to the strategic needs of its billionaire masters— lavish praise and attention on all facets of identity politics if it really packed a revolutionary punch. Need we say more? 

In this informational and ideological maelstrom deliberately created to forestall radical challenges to the global capitalist system, and precisely at a moment when humanity needs to be most lucid to confront a barrage of existential crises,  examples like Caleb Maupin's tireless and heroic effort to inject clarity and doctrinal order are not only admirable but indispensable to our salvation.  People need to learn about true socialism, the only possible cure to the all-enveloping curse. Fake anti-capitalists, the thriving cohorts of fake leftists in our midst, need to be recognised for what they are: grave impediments to the urgent tasks at hand. Maupin sums it up rather impeccably:

It is clear that BreadTube has created a brand of “socialism” that is not very threatening to the status quo. Rather than calling for society to control the means of production, even a minimal class struggle program like stopping cuts in social spending or opposing imperialist regime change wars, BreadTube simply wants to experiment with profit sharing and employee stock ownership as imperialism and austerity are allowed to roll ahead.

Below, a sample chapter of Breadtube. If you are a veteran leftie, pick up a copy for the sheer pleasure of seeing the explanatory power of Marxism at its best. If you are beginning to inquire about socialism, this is surely one of the best introductions to the subject you could find. 

Patrice Greanville, a media critic and former economist, is editor in chief of The Greanville Post.

Amazon's Product details
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09798771Q
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (June 20, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 200 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8524111708
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8.1 ounces
  • UNSPSC-Code ‏ : ‎ 55101500
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.25 x 0.46 x 8 inches

Chapter Two: Redefining Capitalism and Socialism
BreadTube Serves Imperialism: Examining The New Brand of Internet Pseudo-Socialism

Caleb Maupin

The name “BreadTube” is derived from a book published in 1892 by Anarchist Russian activist Peter Kropotkin. The book, entitled The Conquest of Bread and nicknamed “The Bread Book” is considered a primary text of “Anarcho-Communism.” In the book, Kropotkin critiques both feudalism and capitalism, proposing a decentralized voluntarist collective society as the alternative.

Peter Kropotkin’s ideas were fundamentally opposed to those of the Bolsheviks, who ultimately toppled the Czarist autocracy and later established the Soviet government in October of 1917. However, to discount Kropotkin and his ideas would be mistaken.

The Legacy of Peter Kropotkin

Kropotkin was born in the Russian aristocracy but from his youth, he became dedicated to the liberation of the Russian peasantry, who were brutally repressed. Kropotkin joined the International Workingmen’s Association (The First International), and worked alongside some of the most important revolutionary thinkers of the age. He spent years in prison for his beliefs, and took great risks. When the Russian Revolution occurred in 1917, Kropotkin embraced it as a positive development despite his criticisms and ideological differences. When Kropotkin died in 1921, Lenin personally approved a funeral procession of thousands of people to march in his honor. In 1957, the Soviet government named a subway system in his honor.

Kropotkin’s influence spread well beyond Russia. Many Anarchists and leftist intellectuals across the world found his work and writings to be inspiring. Among those who were influenced by Kropotkin’s work was a young man named Mao Zedong. Before joining the Chinese Communist Party at its founding congress in 1921, Mao Zedong was the leader of a Kropotkinist organization called the New People’s Study Society, and many see the influence of Kropotkin popping up throughout Mao’s life as a revolutionary and statesman.

The primary difference that Kropotkin had with the Bolsheviks was about who in Russian society should be the focus of the revolutionary movement. Kropotkin’s focus was on the peasantry as the backbone of a potential revolution, while the Bolsheviks, as Marxists, viewed industrial workers as the sector of society where revolutionary work should be focused.

Kropotkin rejected some of Marx’s economic ideas, arguing that the concept of surplus value was mistaken. As an anarchist, Kropotkin argued that a post-capitalist society could only be built voluntarily and that attempts to reform or seize political power were a waste of time. Kropotkin’s vision was for the Russian peasantry to seize control of land themselves and begin growing crops cooperatively, much like German peasants had done during the event of 1524-1525. Kropotkin was an agrarian socialist rather than an industrial one.

Chapters 4-12 of his magnum opus for which the BreadTube community has taken its name are dedicated to laying an intricate vision of his ideal society of a decentralized, voluntary socialism with vast abundance. Kropotkin writes: “Citizens will be obliged to become agriculturists. Not in the same manner as peasants who wear themselves out, plowing for a wage that barely provides them with sufficient food for the year' but by following the principles of market-gardeners' intensive agriculture, applied on a large scale by means of the best machinery that man has invented or can invent…They will reorganize cultivation, not in ten years' time, but at once, during the revolutionary struggles, from fear of being worsted by the enemy. Agriculture will have to be carried on by intelligent beings; availing themselves of their knowledge, organizing themselves in joyous gangs for pleasant work…when man invents and improves his tools and is conscious of being a useful member of the community.”

Kropotkin’s writing has an almost religious faith in the good intentions of human beings and their willingness to cooperate without coercion, combined with a gentle pacifism that fears the cruelty of authoritarian structures. He writes: “We shall see then what a variety of trades, mutually cooperating on a spot of the globe and animated by the social revolution, can do to feed, clothe, house, and supply with all manner of luxuries millions of intelligent men. We need write no fiction to prove this. What we are sure of, what has already been experimented upon, and recognized as practical, would suffice to carry it into effect, if the attempt were fertilized, vivified by the daring inspiration of the Revolution and the spontaneous impulse of the masses.”

However, despite holding a vision of a voluntary society where all cooperate with each other in the absence of coercion, Kropotkin was not opposed to using force and violence to achieve his goals. The Anarchist organizations and networks he associated with throughout Europe advocated “Propaganda of the Deed,” the use of bombings and assassinations in the hopes of sparking a rebellion among the wider population. How much Kropotkin was directly involved in such activities remains unclear, but it is clear that many people who were inspired by Kropotkin’s teachings and worked with his organizations engaged in Left Adventurist Terrorism.

In 1916, most anarchists and revolutionary socialists were protesting and opposing the war between imperialist powers. Kropotkin published his “Manifesto of The Sixteen” that announced support for British and American imperialism in their war against Germany, Austria, and Turkey. This earned Kropotkin a large amount of scorn and was seen as a slap in the face and betrayal of the many socialists like Rosa Luxemburg and Eugene Debs, who went to prison for opposing the war.

Peter Kropotkin is a figure that is worthy of respect despite criticisms of his political line and actions. He was willing to make great sacrifices and take great risks on behalf of oppressed peasants and factory workers, and he did a great deal to put forward a vision of post-capitalist society that would resolve the injustices of the world. Marxists of course reject Left Adventurism and Terrorism along with idealistic fairy tales.  They favor instead to build a mass movement of workers to seize control of the state, and create a rational, centrally planned economy to eliminate all scarcity, marching toward the ultimate goal of a stateless, classless world.

The fact that the BreadTube internet universe claims Kropotkin’s legacy and presents itself as the main representative of not just Kropotkin’s ideas, but all anti-capitalism in 21st Century America is deeply problematic. The intellectual laziness and shallow analysis presented by various BreadTube voices is a total disservice to his legacy, however complex it may be.

The Marxist Definition of Capitalism

The teachings of Karl Marx understand socialism to be a result of the innate human drive for progress and the expansion of productive forces. For most of humanity’s existence, we lived as hunter gatherers in tribes. The first social revolution came with the domestication of animals and the growing of crops. The dawn of agriculture brought forth a new mode of production and a new set of social relations to correspond to it. Soon society was divided between landowners and slaves.

Eventually, feudalism, a more efficient mode of production, replaced slavery. In the 1700s capitalism emerged in Europe as the mercantile classes replaced the kings and nobles, and industrial production replaced subsistence farming.

Capitalism resulted in the creation of two social classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie are those who own the banks, factories, land, means of transportation and other centers of economic power, and operate them in order to make profits. The rest of society makes up another class, the proletariat, a class Marx described as: “the modern working class, developed — a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.”

The interests of the capitalists who own the means of production and the workers who sell their labor power to capitalists are diametrically opposed. Capitalists seek to drive wages down and maximize their profits. As a result workers form unions and organize strikes in the hopes of increasing their pay and bettering their conditions.

Capitalism is defined by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as a system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated to make profits for those who own them. Marx described capitalism as “the anarchy of production.” Engels explained “For in capitalistic society, the means of production can only function when they have undergone a preliminary transformation into capital.” Mao Zedong, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, said that capitalism was a system of “Profits in command.” The capitalist system is defined as a system of production for profit.

The capitalist is always looking to make production more efficient in order to increase his profits. As Marx explained, “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production.” The capitalist seeks to hire the least amount of workers, replace human labor with machines, de-skill jobs, and make human labor more easily replaceable, all in order to churn out more and more products for lower and lower cost. The capitalist seeks to increase his profit margin so those profits can be reinvested and his operations can expand only to make more profits, which can then be reinvested again. This is what Marx referred to as “The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation.”

Driving down labor costs, however, has an unplanned side-effect. The purchasing power of workers is derived from the wages they are paid. In the drive to efficiently produce goods and maximize profits, the capitalist system is prone to cyclical crises of overproduction. The workers cannot afford to buy back the products they produce. The market becomes glutted with products that cannot be sold. As a result, prices drop, companies go out of business, and workers lose their jobs, because too much has been created.

Marx wrote in his text The Poverty of Philosophy: “From day to day it has becomes clearer that the production relations in which the bourgeoisie moves have not a simple, uniform character, but a dual character; that in the selfsame relations in which wealth is produced, poverty is also produced; that in the selfsame relations in which there is a development of the productive forces, there is also a force producing repression; that these relations produce bourgeois wealth; i.e., the wealth of the bourgeois class — only by continually annihilating the wealth of the individual members of this class and by producing an ever-growing proletariat.”

This problem of abundance creating poverty is uniquely capitalist. In previous systems, people starved because not enough food had been created, but in capitalism, starvation can occur because too much food has been produced. In previous systems, homelessness resulted from a lack of housing, but in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis when “the housing bubble burst,” many Americans lost their homes or became homeless because too much housing had been constructed.

Marxists often will cite a parable dialogue between a coal miner and his son.

Son: Father, I am very cold, why can’t we light the stove?
Father: We cannot light the stove because we don’t have any coal.
Son: Why don’t we have any coal?
Father: Because I lost my job at the coal mine and we do not have any money to purchase coal.
Son: Why did you lose your job at the coal mine?
Father: Because there is too much coal.

Friedrich Engels explained why cyclical economic crises result from the built-in problem of production organized for profit in his text Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, writing: “The whole mechanism of the capitalist mode of production breaks down under the pressure of the productive forces, its own creations. It is no longer able to turn all this mass of means of production into capital. They lie fallow, and for that very reason the industrial reserve army must also lie fallow. Means of production, means of subsistence, available laborers, all the elements of production and of general wealth, are present in abundance.”

Imperialism: The Capitalism of Our Time

Much of BreadTube’s discussion of capitalism centers around the inequity of relations between employers and employees. This is certainly a very big aspect of Marxian analysis of capitalism. Marx described the alienating environment of the worker, the way workers are reduced to “appendages of machines” who sell their labor power to the employer like any other commodity. Marx described how the worker is not paid the full value of his labor, with the surplus value being stolen from [him/her] in order to become the profits of the capitalist.

However, the bulk of Marx’s analysis was focused on the problems that flow from production being organized for profits, as shown above. The irrational profit motive leads to capital centralizing into fewer and fewer hands, gluts of overproduction, poverty amidst plenty, and all kinds of social chaos.

In the aftermath of Marx’s death, Vladimir Lenin analyzed the further development of capitalism. Lenin showed that increasingly the industries became dominated by financial institutions, and that the banks who supply credit become the central institutions in western countries. In the 1890s, capitalism in the United States, Britain, France, Germany and other western countries became dominated by huge conglomerates. Banks and industries tied together in huge trusts as multinational corporations spread their tentacles across the globe. The western monopolies worked to stop economic development in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and maintain their dominance in global trade. Excess commodities were dumped onto the developing world that served as a captive market. This higher stage of capitalism was called “Imperialism.”

Lenin described the five stages of imperialism: “We have to begin with as precise and full a definition of imperialism as possible. Imperialism is a specific historical stage of capitalism. Its specific character is threefold: imperialism is monopoly capitalism; parasitic, or decaying capitalism; moribund capitalism. The supplanting of free competition by monopoly is the fundamental economic feature, the quintessence of imperialism. Monopoly manifests itself in five principal forms: (1) cartels, syndicates and trusts—the concentration of production has reached a degree which gives rise to these monopolistic associations of capitalists; (2) the monopolistic position of the big banks—three, four or five giant banks manipulate the whole economic life of America, France, Germany; (3) seizure of the sources of raw material by the trusts and the financial oligarchy (finance capital is monopoly industrial capital merged with bank capital); (4) the (economic) partition of the world by the international cartels has begun. There are already over one hundred such international cartels, which command the entire world market and divide it “amicably” among themselves—until war redivides it. The export of capital, as distinct from the export of commodities under non-monopoly capitalism, is a highly characteristic phenomenon and is closely linked with the economic and territorial-political partition of the world; (5) the territorial partition of the world (colonies) is completed.”

It is because of this global setup called imperialism that Nigeria can be the top oil producing country in Africa, exporting more of this valued commodity than any other country on the continent.  Yet they still have only 62% literacy, along with a very low life expectancy and a high infant mortality rate, according to the CIA World Factbook.

It is because of imperialism that Honduras and Guatemala are drug and gang infested countries where much of the population lacks access to education and running water.  In comparison, Nicaragua, which has broken out of imperialism, has been able to roll back poverty and raise living standards. The Central American countries that have economies and governments dominated by the United States are kept poor, subject to foreign domination and impoverishment.

When the British colonized India and Bangladesh, they burned the looms and forced people that had been weaving for thousands of years to import their cloth from British textile mills. In more recent times, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) devastated the agricultural sectors of Mexico, Haiti, and other countries. Writing for the New York Times on November 24th, 2013, Laura Carlsen explained: “As heavily subsidized U.S. corn and other staples poured into Mexico, producer prices dropped and small farmers found themselves unable to make a living. Some two million have been forced to leave their farms since NAFTA. At the same time, consumer food prices rose, notably the cost of the omnipresent tortilla.As a result, 20 million Mexicans live in “food poverty”. Twenty-five percent of the population does not have access to basic food and one-fifth of Mexican children suffer from malnutrition. Transnational industrial corridors in rural areas have contaminated rivers and sickened the population and typically, women bear the heaviest impact.”

Much of the developing world is very rich in terms of natural resources and human labor. In order to maintain a monopoly, the western multinational corporations, with full support of the government apparatus and international institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, force countries into unnatural poverty due to foreign economic domination.

The mechanism for enforcing the rule of western monopolies is war. If countries break out of the grip of western capitalism and begin to develop their economies, they become subject to attack. If one looks at the economies of Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, Syria, or any other country the imperialists target for regime change, one will see a level of independence and striving toward development that the international monopolies cannot permit. Often this independence is directly related to the most valuable commodity in our outmoded fossil fuel economy, petroleum.

Vincent Copeland’s text, Expanding Empire, describes in clear terms the nature of imperialist economics: “The expansion into foreign countries resulted from a new stage in the expansion of business: The export of capital. Business had been exporting ordinary commodities of trade for centuries. The export of capital was something new—especially for the United States. And it couldn’t be done without foreign wars. The reason for this isn’t very complicated. The export of capital goods—that is, machinery, mining equipment, railroad engines, earth-moving tools, etc., is intended not to make just a quick "small" profit, but a constantly repeating profit that can go on forever, if the exploiter can hold onto the "investment." The investment of capital in a foreign country should be regarded somewhat like sending a huge suction pump.  The pump pulls out the metals from the ground, the products from the soil and the fruits from the trees—with the help, of course, of the labor of the "native" people working on this suction pump. It is as if the pump were connected to pipes that run back to the "home" country, via the banks and big corporations. All the rich products are showered from the pipes into the treasuries of these institutions, in the form of profits… Whole nations are drained by these great suction pumps—or "investments." And the profits are so great that rival groups of big business, led by small cliques of big banks, go to war with each other over the exploitation of these nations.”

BreadTube voices tend to talk of capitalism in merely the simple factory floor analogies rather than understanding the concentration of global economic power in the hands of monopolistic associations. BreadTubers talk of “pencil factories” where workers produce the pencils, but a capitalist gets the profits. These analogies are certainly relevant in understanding the nature of capitalist production, but BreadTube voices obscure the big picture for a microcosm that obscures analysis of global events.

Furthermore, BreadTube voices tend to argue that anything resembling Lenin’s analysis of capitalism in its imperialist stage is somehow anti-semitic. BreadTubers will often claim that references to bankers, international bankers, or globalism is merely a coded repackaging of Nazi conspiracy theories about Jewish global domination. This allegation is absurd, and would render not just all adherents of Marxism-Leninism, but also many liberal critics of globalization such as Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, and Naomi Klein to be Nazi propagandists.

The world is not dominated by low level businessmen who own individual factories, but by an elite of ultra-rich, globally oriented capitalists.  These capitalists do not focus their business efforts on a single national market. The ruling class of Wall Street and London are “globalists,” and they dominate the world economy with gigantic financial institutions, “international banks.” To analyze a world of gigantic multinational corporations that beat down entire nations simply in terms of the inequity between the owners of an allegorical pencil factory and his employees is simply inadequate. By declaring analysis of gigantic corporations or finance capitalists dominating the world to be “fascist” or “Trump-like” BreadTube is, in essence, blocking out and “canceling” essential contemporary Marxist analysis.

Lenin’s understanding of imperialism enabled him to reorient much of the Marxist movement. Marx argued that all nationalism was a barrier to workers' solidarity, though in his later life he became somewhat sympathetic to the Irish freedom struggle. Marx argued that European colonialism was bringing development and progress to places like India. Lenin’s understanding of how capitalism developed in the late 19th century laid the basis for revolutionaries embracing the national liberation struggles of colonized people.  As the Chinese Communist Party’s document Long Live Leninism, published April 16, 1960, summarizes: "Lenin pointed out that the oligarchy of finance capital in a small number of capitalist powers, that is, the imperialists, not only exploit the masses of people in their own countries, but oppress and plunder the whole world, turning most countries into their colonies and dependencies. Imperialist war is a continuation of imperialist politics.”

Lenin understood that an aristocracy of labor, a stratum of well paid workers enabled European social-democratic parties to become reformists and eventually support the First World War.  Lenin saw that the revolutionary energy was coming from the east and the colonized world: “In the light of the law of the uneven economic and political development of capitalism, Lenin came to the conclusion that, because capitalism developed extremely unevenly in different countries, socialism would achieve victory first in one or several countries but could not achieve victory simultaneously in all countries.”

Lenin argued that socialism in the developing world would come about with the working class leading the struggle to liberate entire nations from the yoke of imperialist domination.  Because of the stratification of the working class within the imperialist homelands and the rise of social reformism and the aristocracy of labor, Communists in western countries had a special task: “The liberation movements of the proletariat in the capitalist countries should ally themselves with the national liberation movements in the colonies and dependent countries; this alliance can smash the alliance of the imperialists with the feudal and comprador reactionary forces in the colonies all dependent countries, and will therefore inevitably put a final end to the imperialist system throughout the world.”

Imperialism, the rule of the world by western monopolies who keep the world poor in order to make themselves rich, is the capitalism of our time. Opposing capitalism in our time means opposing imperialism, and this understanding is essential, especially for those living in the imperialist world centers. The lack of any analysis of imperialism and anti-imperialism, and the constant allegation that those who do analyze such things are covert anti-semites reveals a very big flaw in the BreadTube sphere and its viewpoint.

The Marxist Definition of Socialism

Marxism views Socialism as resolving the inherent contradictions of capitalism, a system of production organized to make profits. Socialism is when the means of production become public property and are forced by the state to serve society overall, not the profits of private owners. Marx distinguished between the “higher stage of Communism,” the ultimate ideal of a stateless, classless world, and the lower stage of communism; i.e., socialism.

Marx, Engels, Lenin, and other scientific socialists specifically defined socialism, the lower stage of Communism. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx wrote: “The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State; i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible. Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production. These measures will, of course, be different in different countries.”

Marx went on to list in The Communist Manifesto 10 measures that the proletariat might adopt upon taking power in order to enact the transition to socialism. This list is commonly misrepresented by Libertarians and rightists, who point to planks such as “income tax” and “public education” as proof the USA is already a Communist country. Social-Democrats and reformists will also sometimes misrepresent this list.

In his pamphlet Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Friedrich Engels also defined socialism. He wrote: “The proletariat seizes the public power, and by means of this transforms the socialized means of production, slipping from the hands of the bourgeoisie, into public property. By this act, the proletariat frees the means of production from the character of capital they have thus far borne, and gives their socialized character complete freedom to work itself out. Socialized production upon a predetermined plan becomes henceforth possible.”

Using different words, Engels explained: “Whilst the capitalist mode of production more and more completely transforms the great majority of the population into proletarians, it creates the power which, under penalty of its own destruction, is forced to accomplish this revolution. Whilst it forces on more and more of the transformation of the vast means of production, already socialized, into State property, it shows itself the way to accomplishing this revolution. The proletariat seizes political power and turns the means of production into State property.”

He also wrote: “This point is now reached. Their political and intellectual bankruptcy is scarcely any longer a secret to the bourgeoisie themselves. Their economic bankruptcy recurs regularly every 10 years. In every crisis, society is suffocated beneath the weight of its own productive forces and products, which it cannot use, and stands helpless, face-to-face with the absurd contradiction that the producers have nothing to consume, because consumers are wanting. The expansive force of the means of production bursts the bonds that the capitalist mode of production had imposed upon them. Their deliverance from these bonds is the one precondition for an unbroken, constantly-accelerated development of the productive forces, and therewith for a practically unlimited increase of production itself. Nor is this all. The socialized appropriation of the means of production does away, not only with the present artificial restrictions upon production, but also with the positive waste and devastation of productive forces and products that are at the present time the inevitable concomitants of production, and that reach their height in the crises. Further, it sets free for the community at large a mass of means of production and of products, by doing away with the senseless extravagance of the ruling classes of today, and their political representatives. The possibility of securing for every member of society, by means of socialized production, an existence not only fully sufficient materially, and becoming day-by-day more full, but an existence guaranteeing to all the free development and exercise of their physical and mental faculties — this possibility is now, for the first time, here, but it is here. With the seizing of the means of production by society, production of commodities is done away with, and, simultaneously, the mastery of the product over the producer. Anarchy in social production is replaced by systematic, definite organization. The struggle for individual existence disappears. Then, for the first time, man, in a certain sense, is finally marked off from the rest of the animal kingdom, and emerges from mere animal conditions of existence into really human ones.”

No matter how egalitarian and democratic a worker-cooperative model may be, it still does not eliminate the very essence of the capitalist system: profits in command. A worker-cooperative will seek to maximize profits for its employee shareholders.

In his book The State and Revolution Lenin defined socialism, the lower stage of Communism, in the following passages: “It is this communist society, which has just emerged into the light of day out of the womb of capitalism and which is in every respect stamped with the birthmarks of the old society, that Marx terms the “first”, or lower, phase of communist society. The means of production are no longer the private property of individuals. The means of production belong to the whole of society. Every member of society, performing a certain part of the socially-necessary work, receives a certificate from society to the effect that he has done a certain amount of work. And with this certificate he receives from the public store of consumer goods a corresponding quantity of products. After a deduction is made of the amount of labor which goes to the public fund, every worker, therefore, receives from society as much as he has given to it.”

Lenin also clarifies: “The first phase of communism, therefore, cannot yet provide justice and equality; differences, and unjust differences, in wealth will still persist.” He then goes on to make clear: “And so, in the first phase of communist society (usually called socialism) "bourgeois law" is not abolished in its entirety, but only in part, only in proportion to the economic revolution so far attained; i.e., only in respect of the means of production. "Bourgeois law" recognizes them as the private property of individuals. Socialism converts them into common property. To that extent--and to that extent alone--"bourgeois law" disappears.”

“Marx wasn’t a statist”

Probably the most blatant distortion of Marxism that is spread in the BreadTube universe is the belief that somehow Marx did not believe in creating a centrally planned economy, or having the means of production become public property. As the previous quotations make clear, this is the very definitive act of the social revolution that overturns capitalism and creates socialism.

Yet, with smug arrogance and childish desperation, the BreadTube voices insist this cannot be the case. After all, they have been told by US media and educational institutions that each and every society where this transformation has taken place, it has resulted in a brutal human rights-violating dictatorship and utter economic failure. Lacking the courage to question these narratives, like a Biblical creationist confronted by the fossil record, they seek to “reinterpret” Marx so both he and mainstream US media can be correct. They wish to uphold Marx, but discount and dismiss all who have put his ideas into practice in order to maintain respectability within (and funding from) the very institutions and society Marxism seeks to overturn.

Matt “Thought Slime” insists that Marx and Engels never called for a centrally planned economy. In a video released on February 5, 2021 entitled “Prager University Does Not Understand Democracy” the content creator simply bluffs, pretending that the quotations above do not exist and assuming that their audience will never bother to fact check assertions. Furthermore, Matt goes on to claim Lenin personally invented the idea of a centrally planned economy, calling his newly invented concept “Democratic Centralism.”

A simple Google search for the term “Democratic Centralism” shows how laughingly inaccurate and ignorant this social-media-appointed expert is. Democratic Centralism was the model for decision-making in Lenin’s “party of a new type.” Democratic Centralism was a process through which the Bolshevik Party made decisions and obligated all members to carry them out.  It distinguished the vanguard party model from the looser social-democratic organizing methods of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party; i.e., the Mensheviks. It has nothing to do with economic planning in a socialist state. It is a method of political organizing by Marxists under capitalism in order to take power. Such a gaffe should be embarrassing and discrediting, but Matt “Thought Slime” has not been discredited for spreading such blatant misinformation. Over 200,000 people have watched this misinformative video about socialism, most of them probably believing its contents to be accurate.

Ian “Vaush” Kochiniski, also speaking with the authority of the algorithms, frequently claims “Marx wasn’t a statist.” To justify this he utilizes a quotation from Marx’s Civil War in France. Matt ‘Thought Slime’ also invokes this quotation, where Marx proclaims: “the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.”

Caleb debating Vaush

The misuse of this quotation seethes with ignorance, if not blatant intentional deception. The passage comes from Marx’s presentation Civil War in France in which he discusses the Paris Commune of 1871. This briefly existing regime that took power in Paris after the capitalist government had already surrendered to the Prussian invaders is considered by Marx to be the first historical example of his concept of “Dictatorship of the proletariat.” Marx points to the Commune, not as an example of why states are not necessary, but rather for the lessons it taught about what post-capitalist states will look like.

The particular quote refers to the fact that the existing French state had been created to serve capitalism, and the Paris Communards who led the workers uprisings were forced to create NEW state institutions, not simply seize control of the previously existing ones created by capitalism. Marx spends the following paragraphs describing in detail the nature of the new proletarian forms of state power the Communards created and praising them. To claim this quote means Marx opposed states existing at all is laughable.

Here is the entire passage from Marx: “But the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes. The centralized state power, with its ubiquitous organs of standing army, police, bureaucracy, clergy, and judicature – organs wrought after the plan of a systematic and hierarchic division of labor – originates from the days of absolute monarchy, serving nascent middle class society as a mighty weapon in its struggle against feudalism. Still, its development remained clogged by all manner of medieval rubbish, seignorial rights, local privileges, municipal and guild monopolies, and provincial constitutions. The gigantic broom of the French Revolution of the 18th century swept away all these relics of bygone times, thus clearing simultaneously the social soil of its last hinderances to the superstructure of the modern state edifice raised under the First Empire, itself the offspring of the coalition wars of old semi-feudal Europe against modern France… The direct antithesis to the empire was the Commune. The cry of “social republic,” with which the February Revolution was ushered in by the Paris proletariat, did but express a vague aspiration after a republic that was not only to supersede the monarchical form of class rule, but class rule itself. The Commune was the positive form of that republic... The first decree of the Commune, therefore, was the suppression of the standing army, and the substitution for it of the armed people. The Commune was formed of the municipal councilors, chosen by universal suffrage in the various wards of the town, responsible and revocable at short terms. The majority of its members were naturally working men, or acknowledged representatives of the working class. The Commune was to be a working, not a parliamentary body, executive and legislative at the same time. Instead of continuing to be the agent of the Central Government, the police was at once stripped of its political attributes, and turned into the responsible, and at all times revocable, agent of the Commune... Public functions ceased to be the private property of the tools of the Central Government. Not only municipal administration, but the whole initiative hitherto exercised by the state was laid into the hands of the Commune…The judicial functionaries were to be divested of that sham independence which had but served to mask their abject subservience to all succeeding governments to which, in turn, they had taken, and broken, the oaths of allegiance… The unity of the nation was not to be broken, but, on the contrary, to be organized by Communal Constitution, and to become a reality by the destruction of the state power which claimed to be the embodiment of that unity independent of, and superior to, the nation itself, from which it was but a parasitic excrescence.”

What Vaush claims about his cherry-picked quotation is nothing but blatant distortion. Either Kochiniski was handed this quote by someone else and never bothered to look at the context, or he intentionally misrepresented its meaning with deceptive intent. To claim Marx was arguing that no central authority or state power should exist is simply inaccurate. On the contrary, Marx was emphasizing how new forms of state power must be created to correspond with the new class in power and its interests.

Maintaining Profits in Command

Armed with his misrepresentative quotes from Marx, Ian “Vaush” Kochiniski has repeatedly said that socialism in the United States would mean “everything would be exactly the same except every corporation would be a worker cooperative.” While worker ownership and cooperatives are not a bad thing, the problem with this definition of socialism is that it does not eliminate capitalism. Capitalism is a system where, as Engels put it, “the means of production only function as preliminary transformation into capital,” or as Mao Zedong put it, “profits are in command.” Simply instituting worker ownership does not eliminate what Marx called ‘The Anarchy of Production.’

Employee stock ownership programs, co-determination, co-partnership, or profit sharing are not at all foreign to capitalism. Furthermore, those putting forth these ideas have generally not been socialists, but theoreticians and academics assigned with the task of making capitalist corporations more productive and efficient.

While BreadTube adherents fetishize the Mondragon Corporation, a federation of worker cooperatives located in the Basque Region of Spain, the examples of such schemes within the capitalist system are much more widespread.

The Oxford University Act of 1854 in Britain required that the faculty of the University be represented on the board of directors. The Port of London Act of 1908 passed such a requirement for representation of dock workers on the board governing London’s port. The Weimar Republic in Germany passed the Supervisory Board Act of 1922, requiring labor unions to have representation on the board of directors of corporations. Many western European countries maintain such laws up to today.

In the United States, the retirement plans offered to many corporate employees are described as “profit sharing plans” where the pension paid to retirees is related to the performance of the corporation. Many employees across the USA and the world have “stock options,” incentive pay, and other mechanisms that theoretically make them co-owners of the corporation in which they work. Many different stock ownership, employee representation and co-ownership programs exist, and they vary in their degree of success.

During the 1920s and 30s, industrial unions often fought hard against “piece wages.” Often factory employers would attempt to maximize their profits by paying employees only for each item produced, rather than a set hourly wage. In 1938, the Labor Movement celebrated the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act which required all employees receive a minimum hourly wage on top of whatever incentives or productivity linked wages they received. These reforms brought a new level of economic security to industrial workers, because they knew how much money they would receive, rather than having their incomes subject to the unpredictable fluctuations of the market and however many products the capitalist assigned them to produce on a given workday.

BreadTube adherents will generally dismiss the many examples of their ideas being put into practice within capitalism. They will insist that piece wages, employee stock ownership programs, worker representation, co-partnership, and profit-sharing are not enough. They will say they advocate 100% worker ownership and democratic control.

However, no matter how egalitarian and democratic a worker-cooperative model may be, it still does not eliminate the very essence of the capitalist system: profits in command. A worker-cooperative will seek to maximize profits for its employee shareholders.

Imagine if the US “defense industry” were operated under a worker-cooperative model. Would this end the “military-industrial complex” long decried by leftists? Would the drive to make profits from war no longer influence US foreign policy? Not at all. If anything, the lust for war profits would expand beyond the corporate boardrooms to the factory floor. Employees would be motivated to see the government go to war and for government military spending to increase, as it would directly impact their incomes.

Having the guards as equal, democratic co-owners of private prisons would not eliminate the inherent societal problems flowing from the much decried “Prison Industrial Complex.” Having workers as equal co-owners of pharmaceutical giants would not eliminate the drive to overprescribe potentially addictive or dangerous medications.

Other problems inherent to the capitalist system of production for profit would continue as well. Employee owners would certainly be incentivized to replace labor with machines, as the fewer workers hired by the cooperative firm, the larger their share of the profits would be. Employee owned enterprises would compete with other employee owned enterprises producing the same products and services. Environmental regulations and laws affecting other “externalities” would still be an impediment to the profits of corporate owners just as they are now, even if the corporate owners were the employees themselves. We could, of course, expect that “worker owners” would seek to lift regulations and maximize their own profits just as corporate owners would.

A system of “profits in command” is still irrational and unsustainable, even if those profits are shared. Simply declaring workers to be co-owners of profit centered entities functioning in the chaos of the market does not eliminate the irrationality of capitalism.

In the context of a state centrally planned economy, worker-cooperative ownership is very different. The most successful examples of worker-cooperatives tend to be those that emerge in the absence of the anarchy of production, when an overall state central plan guides their activities.

The most successful example of a profit-sharing corporation, by far, is one that BreadTube avoids highlighting. The largest telecommunications manufacturer in the world is Huawei Technologies, a cooperative corporation established by the Chinese government and its military in 1988. An article in Harvard Business Review published on September 24, 2015 hails it as “A Case Study of When Profit Sharing Works” and speaks of the company in glowing terms. In the context of China’s 5 year economic plans, receiving huge subsidies and directions from the state and military, Huawei has become very successful. The model of worker ownership, profit sharing, and coordination with state central planning and a socialist economy has made Huawei a model that many corporations in the capitalist world have studied. Huawei is widely respected for its efficiency and success. Of course, BreadTube voices largely remain silent on Huawei, as it takes the lead from the US State Department deeming anything associated with China or other anti-imperialist states to be toxic and evil.

In many socialist countries elements of “worker ownership” have been implemented. The collectivization of agriculture in 1931 resulted in the prevalence of collective farms as the dominant form in the Soviet countryside. While some state farms that operated much like state-owned factories existed, most of the Soviet Union’s agriculture was carried out by independent kolkhozy, which sold agricultural goods to the state at a set rate. This motivated the farmworkers to produce as much as possible in order to maximize the payout they would receive from the central government. This model became the dominant form of agriculture in “really existing socialism” of the Cold War, beyond the Soviet Union. Mao Zedong launched the creation of a collective farm system with his “Hail The Communes” campaign in the 1950s. Cuba, North Korea, and various Eastern European countries adopted the collective farm model. Trotsky criticized this, arguing that state farms were more socialistic in nature than collective farms and arguing that material incentives and differing abilities among farmers would lead to inequality. Stalin defended this model, arguing it was more efficient. Che Guevara and Mao Zedong both upheld the collective farm model as being more egalitarian and decentralized, and presented the Soviet Union as being a bit too centralized and bureaucratic in its planning of production, leading to a lack of participation by the working class and a level of alienation.

During the cultural revolution in China, the model of a “Three in One Combination” was adopted, where each factory was governed by an elected worker representative as well as a Communist Party official and a technical expert. Mao Zedong put forward the “Three in One Combination” as an alternative to the model of total factory autonomy put forward during the infamous “January Storm” of 1967, which established the Shanghai People’s Commune.

Josip Broz Tito developed a model of “worker self-management.” Albania declared this model to be state capitalism because it relied on material incentives to motivate labor, but other socialist countries considered Tito’s model to be more effective. Tito’s “worker self-management” model was most likely a big influence on Deng Xiaoping’s “Reform and Opening Up” policies in 1978. Vietnam and Nicaragua have developed self-employment programs where workers become individual entrepreneurs in coordination with the state’s overall vision. Venezuela has created many colectivos and communes, which produce goods and render services, while being subsidized with state revenue and directed by state central planners.

Worker-cooperatives are not bad, but the fetishization of them and the rejection of the need to eliminate the anarchy of production, distorts the nature of socialism. BreadTube’s insistence that socialism is “everything exactly the same except every corporation is cooperative” is particularly problematic in the context of imperialism.

Capitalism in the 21st Century involves huge multinational corporations based in western countries reaping super profits at the expense of the developing world. Wars are waged to enforce that system, with socialist and anti-imperialist governments being the primary targets. Imperialism is a global economic order in which the world is made poor and kept poor, so that the finance capitalists of London and Wall Street can remain rich.

Simply offering a greater share of the super profits of empire to the workers within the imperialist homeland is not dismantling this global system. If anything, it is a scheme that would likely stabilize and enhance it.

The Myth of the 20th Century

Underlying BreadTube’s redefinition of socialism is the same motivation and sentiments that are highly present in Trotskyism, Anarchism, Social-Democracy and other brands of left-wing anti-communism. In the United States, anti-communist propaganda about the 20th Century is widespread and inculcated among the population.  It is so central to the rhetoric of every faction of the ruling class that repeating it is almost mandatory for any voice that seeks to avoid being marginalized.

In order to conform to the ‘party line’ that is almost universal among every faction of the US ruling class, BreadTube must accept the premise that “Communism failed everywhere it has ever been tried.”

It is tragic that so many adherents of socialism, who claim to oppose the capitalist system, are so cowardly that they cannot state what is obvious, socialism works. When Yale economist Dr. Richard Wolff debated Steven “Destiny” Bonnell, he confronted this mythology head-on, proclaiming: “I have no idea what this silly remark that I so often hear that no socialist society has succeeded at anything, I have no idea what you are talking about. Let me give you an example, one of the most important metrics used in the economics profession around the world to assess the success of an economic system is the rate of economic growth. You measure GDP and you look at how it grows over time, and then you compare one country to another to assess their relative success, not as societies, because that's a vague generality… It's not the only metric, but it's a widely used one so I am now going to use it. In the 20th century the fastest growing GDP in any country measured was the Soviet Union. And in the 21st century we are living in, the fastest growing GDP in the world has been the People's Republic of China. This is not an endorsement of one or another economic system, it's a statement of fact verified by any reliable source of information, the UN, the projects of the University of California at Berkeley and others who keep track of this.”

Bonnell quibbled, trying to say that Japan had been more successful than the Soviet Union and that the industrialization of the USSR was irrelevant because many countries underwent similar growth at the time. Wolff further ripped this illogic to shreds proclaiming: “Those are the facts, you can play whatever games you want, the fact of the matter is that the Soviet Union’s performance in the 20th century completely outshines that of Japan. In 1917 when the Soviet Union began, it was the poorest country in Europe by far. It then goes through 70 years of  World War 1, of a civil war, of collectivization, and of World War 2, which did more damage in Russia than in any other country. Notwithstanding that it was the poorest country at the beginning of this horrific story, it ends up in 1965 being the number one competitor of the United States for global hegemony. That’s only because of its number one status in economic growth that it achieved the overcoming of all those horrific losses. I am not arguing in favor of this or that about the Soviet Union, but the fact of its achievement is a staggering reality that you can dance around today and tomorrow, but it doesn’t go away because it is inconvenient to confront it. The same thing is true now. If you read Pearl Buck’s novels about China before the revolution, you will read about a society whose depth of poverty literally blows your mind, and here they are about to surpass the United States by the end of this decade, and that was accomplished by a Communist revolution and a government that has been run by a Communist Party to this day.”

BreadTube’s insistence that socialism is merely a worker cooperative scheme reveals further the thesis of this book, that BreadTube is largely the creation of the more powerful, globalist wing of the ruling class in its efforts to beat back the rebellions of Trump and lower level capitalists. The pro-imperialist narrative, where Communist revolutions “only made life worse” is repeated by BreadTube voices, despite being overwhelmingly inconsistent with reality. Because BreadTube targets the same governments that the US State Department targets, and repeats the same narrative of the 20th Century that is widely promoted in US society, it also allows the most common argument against socialism to go unchallenged.

Right-wingers have long mocked the comment, “That’s not real socialism,” which BreadTube aligned voices frequently fall back on. During the Iraq War, right-wingers who taunted leftists would carry sarcastic placards reading “Communism only killed 200 million people, let’s try it again!” There is a refusal of leftists to challenge the historical record; not about human rights or the shortcomings of existing socialist societies, but about basic economic data. This is the greatest weakness of the socialist movement in the United States. However, it fits with the overall weakness of BreadTube’s analysis, which is a refusal to confront or discuss imperialism, in an age where western capitalism IS imperialism.

Basic economic data shows that the Soviet Union had a consistently high rate of economic growth throughout its existence. In 1917, Russia was an agrarian underdeveloped country. By 1936 the Soviet Union was fully electrified and had become an industrial powerhouse. The Soviet Union produced more steel and tractors than any other country in the world. It wiped out illiteracy, built a modern university system, and constructed some of the largest power plants in the world. In the field of culture, the Soviet Union spawned the films of Sergei Eisenstein, the music of Shostakovich, and some of the greatest ballet performers and Olympic athletes.

With an economy where the state controls the major industries and banks and issues 5 year economic plans, China has become the second largest economy on earth, lifting 800 million people from poverty. Cuba’s achievements in terms of healthcare and literacy are marveled at by international observers. Prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, North Korea experienced huge explosions of growth with Soviet aid. A BBC article from August 26, 2008 admits: “The mass mobilization of the population, along with Soviet and Chinese technical assistance and financial aid, resulted in annual economic growth rates estimated to have reached 20%, even 30%, in the years following the devastating 1950-53 Korean war. As late as the 1970s, South Korea languished in the shadow of the "economic miracle" north of the border.”

Baathist Arab Socialism in Iraq and Syria resulted in massive economic achievements in terms of literacy, education, and industrialization. Years of pro-western regimes have not undone the great achievements of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who took great strides to industrialize Egypt, constructing the Aswan Dam in coordination with the Soviet Union. Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Muanmar Gaddafi, and other African revolutionaries who established socialist planned economies achieved similar victories in terms of basic societal health. The Islamic System labelled “Not Capitalism But Islam,” in which the state and the Revolutionary Guards control the commanding heights of economic power has resulted in a huge level of development in Iran.

Criticisms of these societies related to issues like human rights, consumer goods, or other issues are certainly reasonable. To say Marxist-Leninist governments and anti-imperialist states “never accomplished anything” or “only made life worse” is a sick joke that is completely contrary to all basic economic data.

However, BreadTube’s vision of socialism as merely profit centered worker cooperatives, its demonization of the very same governments the imperialists target, all make BreadTube a version of socialism that is deemed acceptable by the ruling class. In rare instances BreadTubers will even defend cuts in social spending and the erosion of the welfare state, arguing that “we don’t want state socialism” and “socialism has nothing to do with the government.” Somehow various adherents of BreadTube thinking have determined neoliberal economics and austerity is not a threat to socialism, because their worker cooperative schemes will still be permitted.

It is clear that BreadTube has created a brand of “socialism” that is not very threatening to the status quo. Rather than calling for society to control the means of production, even a minimal class struggle program like stopping cuts in social spending or opposing imperialist regime change wars, BreadTube simply wants to experiment with profit sharing and employee stock ownership as imperialism and austerity are allowed to roll ahead.

Not surprisingly, this deviation from everything Marxists and socialists have advocated for hundreds of years has been enabled to go viral and speak in the place of genuine anti-capitalism.

The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of  The Greanville Post. However, we do think they are important enough to be transmitted to a wider audience. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 2.38.28 PMWhat other voices are saying (excerpts)

John John

Reviewed in the United States on June 25, 2021

So if your first questions are "what the hell is breadtube and do I need to know what it is to read this book" the answer is NO. Caleb explains the subject in the first chapters and expands his analysis beyond breadtube to make a larger point about "pseudosocialism," its origins and danger to the movement for world emancipation. Much of the book runs through historical events, so despite its narrow focus, it has a broad appeal.

I myself am a breadtube fan and regularly post on their subreddit. Breadtube was effective in helping me avoid the traps of right wing thought. But as I went deeper into it, I found there was something profoundly lacking in the philosophy of breadtube. It seemed to have more than just a beef with right wingery, but also with many LEFT WING movements, including radical communism aka "tankie-ism." I became especially conscious of this problem after Breadtube became a surrogate for the Joe Biden campaign and continues to soft peddle his administration's policies.

I give Caleb 4 stars for taking on breadtube as a vestige of establishment propaganda meant to sheepdog left leaning people into a more status quo oriented politics.

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Reviewed in the United States on July 2, 2021

27 people found this helpful

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Reviewed in the United States on June 30, 2021

17 people found this helpful

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Reviewed in the United States on June 27, 2021

It should first be prefaced that Maupin's book and its exposure of the true class nature of the nebulous yet definitely pro-capitalist BreadTube sphere is a needed one. In the frankest sense, as long as these people continue to peddle pseudo-anticapitalist dogma as was previously done by the CIA in its previous attempts to discredit the USSR and other internal enemies, the work and its critique will not only remain seminal but will again be made by another person when BreadTube eventually collapses.

This being said, I found myself wanting for more detail about how this works, and I feel some things could use more detail, specifically that the BreadTubers Maupin talks about could receive a thorough philosophical critique to not only drive the point home that these BreadTubers are part of a refuse of brainwashed influence peddlers, but to introduce to the reader a kind of critique that this is extremely difficult to find. To many, such a critique I believe would issue a challenge to their worldview that could not go unanswered: a challenge whose critique would be as unimpregnable as that of IDubbz, though I understand this to be optimistic.

In all, it is a great book. It does contain some typing errors, but they are minimal and can be especially dismissed considering that the Center for Political Innovation (the presumed publisher) is at this time relatively small and is not Penguin Publishing. It is also highly recommended to the reader that they read the other material after the conclusion, with emphasis added to Maupin's personal note on his political development and his experience with the WWP. His story provides greater context to how the nonsense of BreadTube's incoherence and Dem coattail-chasing is not just exclusive to them, nor does it occur just because the CIA or FBI caused it. I do not know if the author intended it, but it contains a lesson: not every internal problem of a revolutionary party is caused by external forces.

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5.0 out of 5 stars An informative, funny and reflective examination of a modern "counter-gang"

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 1, 2021

With a bit of dry wit, historical documentation and contemporary analysis - journalist Caleb Maupin attempts to delve into the rabbit hole of contemporary "left-wing" "activism" with regards to the emergent online social movement of BreadTube.

I was initially taken aback by Mr. Maupin's decision to write a book on such a "social movement", given the assumption that it holds next to zero influence with regards to "real world" politics. However, upon picking it up and giving it a read, I found the historical parallels drawn to be next to impossible to disagree with; particularly with regards to some of the lessons drawn from the late Cold War (via the Western use of countergangs and internal divisions within the left). Chapter one provides an outline of the social movement, including some general backgrounds on its more "prominent" voices. What I found most amusing about this chapter was how effortlessly Mr. Maupin was able to draw accurate historical comparisons with this digitized "movement", to similar "movements" of the Cold War past. Many "defenders" of this social movement have, without even reading through this chapter (or the book, for that matter), seem to suggest that Mr. Maupin has pulled these comparisons from thin air, despite the simple fact that an entire bibliography is available for their reading pleasure at the back of the book (pp. 191 - 194); works which confirm much of the conclusions throughout the book. I particularly found his section on the use of counter-gangs during "The Troubles" to be particularly relevant, considering the fact such a thing continues to take place in my country to this day; I do wish, however, that more detail could have been added, but this was not the purpose of the book. Chapter two discusses some basic Marxist theory, as well as a look into the importance of Peter Kropotkin (whom this very same "movement" attempts to bastardise a name after), and lays out some of the common theoretical flaws that many of the same supposed social activists make when it comes to butchering left-wing theories, at the expense of essentially anything of value. While I am of the personal belief that this chapter could have benefited more from a glossary of terms for those of a shorter memory such as myself, I certainly agreed with much of what was stated, and found the section on imperialism to be the most relevant area of discussion. Chapter three and four finalise the work by discussing the common "tactics" used by this particular movement, how it alienates both long-time leftists and working-class people, and how it perpetuates a cycle of pessimism which does nothing to actively improve the lives of the very people it claims to care about in the first place.

All image captions, pull quotes, appendices, etc. by the editors not the authors. 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License