The Confession of Faith

The Communist Manifesto is basically a piece of writing that says “this is the way we should run our shit, and this is why.”

It was written by Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels. Marx and Engels met at a party or something in 1842 and they didn’t get on, but then they hooked up a few years later in 1844 and had a bit of banter and sort of a “yeah, you’re sound actually, let’s write a manifesto of our boss ideas.”

Marx and Engels set out to sort of shake up the left, so they joined this socialist league on the condition that they gave it more of a structure and, from what I can understand, got some proper IDEAS about things rather than just being sentimental. 

To sort of set that in stone, Engels wrote the Confession of Faith. Now my dad is a preacher, so I know what a confession of faith, or catechism, is. It’s basically a set of questions and answers that solidify your core beliefs into a series of statements, and this is basically what Engels confession of faith said:

[[ This is not the entire thing, I have cherry-picked, ha. But you can find it here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/06/09.htm ]]
– Are you a communist?
Yes (pretty standard)

– What is the aim of the communists?

To develop a society where every single person can achieve their potential and exercise their rights in complete freedom without fucking things up for anybody else.

– How do you wish to achieve this aim?

By completely getting rid of private property, and making it so that everybody collectively owns all of the property.

– How do you wish to prepare the way?

By enlightening and uniting the proletariat.

– What is the proletariat? (This ones a biggie, everyone loves this word)

The proletariat are the people who solely survive from the work that they do. They don’t get anything of any real worth from it, they live hand to mouth. Which means their standard of living, even their life and death, depend on wether business is good or bad. They only bargaining chip they have, is their labour, or ability to work.

– Where did it come from?

At one point almost all labour was done by hand – building, manufacturing, farming, but loads of machines turned up that could do the job faster and cheaper. They were expensive as well, so only the rich people could buy them, and so the workers became worth very little to anyone. This meant all the produce, all the wealth, went straight to the bosses and the workers got nothing. Factories popped up and suddenly something which would have been one mans masterpiece was built on a line, he wasn’t a master anymore. So now we have two huge classes, one very rich and one very not:

– the capitalists, or bourgeoisie, who in almost every country own all of the produce and wealth, and all of the means of getting it, like factories and machines.

– the proletariat, who have to sell their labour just to get enough to survive. Because they are not on an equal footing, the proles have to accept whatever conditions the bourg offer no matter how bad they are.
The Confession of Faith then goes on to explain how the proletariat are the only class of it’s kind, and how it has been brought about by this new influx of machinery and efficiency. It also explains what they plan to do a bit more in terms of getting rid of private property and making sure everyone is cool.

Engels said that Marx defended the new theory in fairly lengthy debates, until everyone agreed and they were unanimously accepted. Marx was apparently big on “the practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments.” Well no shit. Somebody said of Marx at this time “…Marx represented the manhood of socialist thought.”

Now what I understand from that is that this man recognized in Karl the evolution from an idealistic socialism that everyone was bang up for before, into a practical, straight-forward and *implementable* Communism that more concretely addressed the needs of the proletariat.

(You should defo know proles by now, man.)

That, to me, is what this whole manifesto was about. It was designed to coagulate the left and say “look, we might not agree on this or that, but let’s focus on what we DO agree on, get that down on paper, and move forward from there.”

From there it was pretty much “holy shit man, good idea, cool story bro.”

And more on that later. The point is that this unification of the left is as relevant an issue now as ever. Again, we see that there are a class of ruling elite, and a whole class of people struggling to get by, living hand to mouth, and barely (if at all) meeting the cost of living. 

As Marx & Engels did with their Manifesto, again it is necessary to coagulate the left and to give it a sense of direction. So many people have such a lot of love for the left, so many go on marches, demos, start activist groups, squat banks. 

But the fact of the matter is that no matter how good the intentions are, if there is no sense of direction and especially of solidarity between everyone, then it’s a totally pointless exercise. There is no sense, no sense at all, at standing on a street corner with a placard railing against the system on behalf of somebody else. 

What is necessary, is to encourage, educate, and empower that person to do it on their own behalf. It is all well and good to tout ourselves as the great protectors and saviours of the lower class, but the fact of the matter is if they’ve never heard of you and they don’t know what you’re about, and there’s about three of you in total, then it’s pretty fucking pointless.

We don’t need to be kicking off at every injustice we see along the way, this will only serve as a distraction. What is needed is a new wave of ideas and solidarity on the left, a real alternative to the way that shit is run at the moment rather than this feeling, that at least personally I get, that we are bailing out a sinking ship with a thimble. 

Good intentions and good works are great, and nobody should stop striving for that. But what we should be doing is striving for a common goal, pooling our ideas and yes, where necessary compromise to further the aims of the left as a whole.

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The Standard

“What’s that flag mean?”
“Is that a Ukrainian flag?”

“Is it for football?”

I’ve been asked a thousand questions about the flag that hangs on my living room wall by everyone that walks in. It’s rarely recognised, and if it is its assumed to be ‘some Russian thing.’ 

I like the question. I like answering it. I change my answer dependent on who I’m talking to. I explained to my best mate yesterday that the flag means that she shouldn’t have to worry about a house, and a job and bills. That in an ideal world we would share it all out equally and everyone would have what they need and give what they’re able.

I tell my mates boyfriend that it’s a USSR flag – the flag of the Soviet Union because I know that he thinks himself a bit of a history buff and he will ask me why I’ve got it on my wall. Back to answer one.

I tell next doors kids that it’s the flag of the greatest story ever told, and how kids just like them wear that little ribbon on the corner every May to celebrate how they beat the worst baddies the world ever acknowledged.

I tell lots of stories about this flag, and there is always, always one. This one is my landlords handyman who’s been doing loads of work on my house, he’s about 50. He recognises it, but he doesn’t know why I’ve got it. He doesn’t ask though, he just looks a bit bewildered. Over the next few days he drops comments, “I dunno you bloody communists” he says laughing, trying to wind me up but I know the reason he’s saying it is he doesn’t understand how the things he has heard of communism are appealing to a 26 year old single mum, and that’s what I’m banking on.

I goad him into asking me questions about it, I encourage him to challenge the things he has heard of communism with common sense and facts. After a week he doesn’t look at the flag on the wall anymore. He accepts my explanation, it makes sense to him. He might not agree, but it doesn’t seem like mad cult anymore. It’s not anymore out of place or prominent than my kettle to him now.

And this is exactly the reason why it is important to hold to this symbology. It has been smeared for decades all over the world as a dirty, horrible thing. A hammer and sickle to some people now comes with a warning, a little alarm, like when you see a Germanic looking eagle and you have to double take and see if it’s one of those eagles. 

But I don’t represent anyone but myself. I’m not a leader of anything, not a member of much. So although some people may be a little put off, more than anything they are curious as to why the person that I am in my every day Birkenhead slum life has got something like this, and when they ask it gives me a chance to undo some of that damage. It gives me opportunity to dust off that hammer and sickle and wipe away some of the mud that covers it now.

We should not discard our emblems which have given so many hope and freedom, we should not hide them away in shame at what other people may think. We should not pander to the idea that there is something wrong with being a communist. It is not a dirty word. And we know this, we know this is fact and we know the propaganda we are up against. 

Those conversations won’t happen unless we hold to it, we would not compromise our ideals or our beliefs to compensate people who don’t agree. The hammer and sickle is the representation of a lifetime of struggle for what is right and good. We should not compromise on that either.

Give yourself opportunity to talk to people about what it is and what it means. Be open to their criticism, and arm yourself with the knowledge that validates your right to proudly display it. People want to know about what and why you believe in things, they will never ask while its collecting dust in the bottom of history’s wardrobe.