The Octant
Insights and reporting from Caleb Maupin

 

On Arts Express at WBAI radio, Prairie Miller interviews journalist Caleb Maupin who shares his ideas about the October Revolution, the Soviet Union, 'not-Capitalism' and much more!

Caleb's points:

  • October was " a rare moment in history", "an anomaly" where the Bolsheviks were able to become the ruling party, which changed world history
  • "I don't think anyone in October 1917 knew what was going to happen"
  • The actions of the Bolsheviks in October and after split the political Left; some forces on the Left denounced it after-the-fact
  • In October, it was not clear at all what Soviet power and the Revolution would proceed in
  • While they are romanticized in Soviet Historiography, "these were bad times", with hardship, famine, invasion, "some of the hardest times in Russian history"

Recorded by Arts Express with host Prairie Miller on WBAI radio 

100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution

 

 

In this segment from the radio program “Art Express” hosted by Prairie Miller on WBAI New York, a selection from Caleb Maupin’s remarks in “The Revolutionary Left vs. The Revolutionary Right” is played alongside poetry. The radio program is syndicated by Pacifica Radio across the country. In the selection, Caleb Maupin describes what socialism in the USA might be like.

Recorded by Arts Express with host Prairie Miller on WBAI radio 

Art Express Radio Program Features Vision of a Socialist America

 

In this segment from the radio program “Art Express” hosted by Prairie Miller on WBAI New York, a selection from Caleb Maupin’s remarks in “The Revolutionary Left vs. The Revolutionary Right” is played alongside poetry. The radio program is syndicated by Pacifica Radio across the country. In the selection, Caleb Maupin describes what socialism in the USA might be like.

 

All across the planet, especially in the urban areas, the cost of living keeps on rising. Yet, at the same time, millions of homes, apartments and other types of housing units remain empty.

If the much heralded "invisible hand" of the free market were operating as the ideological defenders of capitalism tell us it does, then housing prices should be going down. The law of supply and demand should cause such a drop, in the context of over-abundance.

However, this is not the case. Real-estate is no longer a market driven by consumers, but rather by speculation. The owners make their profits, not by renting out their property, but by waiting for an increase in market value and then selling it.

In a very real sense, housing and real-estate has become a new kind of stock market. In a casino-like atmosphere, wealthy people purchase a building, work to increase its market value, and then "flip it" for profit. The current U.S. President Donald Trump became very wealthy as a real-estate speculator in New York City, pioneering the market environment we now see in urban areas all over the world.

 

From the moment that the Saudi-led onslaught against Yemen began, the USA has been solidly behind Riyadh. Yemen now faces a humanitarian crisis, yet the forces committed to sovereignty and economic development remain strong, nowhere near surrender. Signs now indicate that as the war continues, some circles within the US power structure may be looking at other options, including negotiations.

US media routinely distorts the conflict in Yemen. The primary narrative is that the war is a complex, internal matter with scores of different factions competing for power. Typical US media reports on the conflict in Yemen overload the reader with references, mentioning “the Houthis”, Saleh, Al-Queda, ISIS, tribal forces, etc.; leaving the reader with the impression that Yemen is simply a disastrous mess of armed factions killing each other in ways that are beyond comprehension.

In addition to the primary narrative, more explicitly hawkish publications, specifically a hardline minority in the US press closely tied to Israel and Saudi Arabia, will repeat an even more distorted narrative. FOX News and the Wall Street Journal, both part of News Corporation, which is partially owned by Saudi Arabia, will often tell a story about Iranian imperialism. They present the war as Saudi Arabia fighting off an attempt by the Islamic Republic to colonize its neighbor.

Both of these narratives distort reality. The war in Yemen is not a deeply complicated mess, and it is not a proxy war with Iran. The war in Yemen is a struggle by one of the poorest countries in the world to assert its independence. Saudi Arabia, aligned with the United States, is fighting to keep Yemen an impoverished, underdeveloped satellite state.

 

It has become almost cliche to compare the current atmosphere of Russo-Phobia in US politics to the 1950s “Mccarthyism.” The sometimes open and sometimes subtle demonization of alleged Chinese influence in Hollywood has drawn similar parallels. While the anti-Russia, anti-China atmospheres of the 1950s and today are very different, in some ways they are quite similar. The commonalities between the two episodes point to certain truths about the psyche of the American people, especially certain demographics, and what those demonizing the two Eurasian superpowers are really afraid of.

An Inner-Party Purge

The opening of Mccarthyism in the USA, much like the current “Russia Investigation” was a fight within a major US political party. Though Mccarthyism eventually moved toward Republicans calling Democrats “soft on Communism,” the period opened with the Democratic Party purging its own ranks of a distrusted element.

Prior to the Second World War, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had often stood up to his own party in order to transform the United States. Democrats who opposed him had formed the “American Liberty League” in the 1936 Presidential election. Prominent Democratic leader Al Smith urged opposition to Roosevelt saying that the USA “can have only one capital, Washington or Moscow!” This was, of course, a not so subtle recognition of the fact that Roosevelt’s mass movement of supporters had many outspoken Communists and Socialists in its ranks. Though Roosevelt died 1945, after the war, the leftist political army that had backed him remained intact.

 

The world famous founder of Alibaba may be a billionaire CEO, but the words he is repeating around the world contain echoes of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Mao Zedong. It may be difficult for the untrained ear to identify it, but it should be no surprise that this rock star of China’s centrally planned economy is on good terms with the deeply ideological ruling Party. For those with a deeper understanding, Marxist undertones can be found all throughout Ma’s technological optimism.

Historical Materialism 

Many people have opened the Communist Manifesto, expecting to find a blueprint for an ideal world scrawled out before them. However, very little was written by Karl Marx or his associates about the supposed nature of the future world. Instead, the focus of Marx’s writings was on the philosophical concepts he coined, dialectical and historical materialism. In essence, Marxism is an understanding of world history as being driven forward by a struggle to advance living standards, and achieve a higher mode of production.

Speaking at Valdai Discussion Club in October, Jack Ma harshly criticized those who responded to the birth of the internet with fear. He said “where other people worry, we figure out ways to solve the worry.” He reminded those of us in the audience of the many fears that accompanied the invention of the automobile. He says “If we have more imagination and creativity we will feel much better.”

On July 8th, at a small theater in Manhattan, one of the country’s most outspoken anti-capitalist voices debated a well-known figure of the Alt-Right. In this rare occurrence, articulate representatives of the  two ideologies that have been clashing in the streets had a chance to debate with words, not fists.

Representing the political left and socialism was Caleb Maupin, a journalist and political analyst. Maupin does not shy away from the word “Communism” and used the debate to present a unique vision for “Socialism with American Characteristics,” as well as to castigate the far-right for its bigotry and primitive thinking which dehumanizes immigrant workers, low income people, and others within US society. Representing the Alt-Right was Augustus Sol Invictus, a Republican Senate candidate who has been a headline speaker at “Unite The Right” rallies. Invictus was once a libertarian, but ended up being shunned in free market circles for his blatant use of fascist imagery and association with white nationalists.