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WILHELM II   (1859-1941)
German emperor from 1888-1918 and 9th king of Prussia.
“Kaiser Wilhelm, the last emperor of the German empire and grandson of
of Wilhelm I, ascended the throne in 1888. When he was emperor, Germany developed and
became a powerful imperialist country with its industrial production ranking second only
to the United States. Acting in the interests of the bourgeoisie and junkers (big
landlords), this empire was actively engaged in arms expansion and war preparations and
stepped up its aggression and expansion overseas.
“To contend with the old-line imperialist powers for world domination, the German imperialists headed by Wilhelm II provoked World War I (1914-18). In November 1918 a revolution took place in Germany and Wilhelm II was forced to step down and flee to Holland where he lived in exile. He died in 1941.” —Reference note, Peking Review, #45, Nov. 4, 1977, p. 42.
WILL OF THE PEOPLE
There are two sayings that are worth carefully considering and comparing. The first is something I once found in a fortune cookie, and which expresses the essential democratic ideal: “The will of the people is the best law.” But here’s a little different idea that is also very good:
“Salus populi suprema est lex.” [The good of the people is the highest law.] —Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Legibus, III, 3, 8.
So which is it then? Should the highest law be the “good of the people” or the “will of the
people”? Obviously there is a lot to be said for both views. But if we are forced to choose
between them, the “good of the people” has to be the highest ethical and political principle,
since after all, people do not always choose to do what is actually in their own best interests.
On the other hand, Cicero’s statement can be interpreted in a very
paternalistic manner, and those who rule paternalistically can
easily start to promote their own self-interest rather than the interests of the masses. For this
reason, over the long run the safest place for important political decisions to be made, is by
the people themselves.
So our solution to this puzzle must be along these lines: To allow (and indeed insist on) basic democracy among the masses while at the same time finding a way for those who better understand the real and long-term interests of the people, and how those interests can best be satisfied, to educate them about this and help them to avoid working against their own true interests.
Fortunately Marxism-Leninism-Maoism has found a brilliant way to do just this. A political party to educate and lead the masses must be drawn from among the masses and must constantly refresh itself with the best new representatives from the masses. Such a party must devote itself to studying society scientifically, and carefully studying the objective situation. And such a party must itself be constantly supervised by the masses it leads, always be open to mass criticism, and always be willing to purge elements who start to think only of their own personal welfare and interests. But most of all, such a party must lead the masses in a truly democratic way, using the mass line method of leadership. This is our way of combining democracy and the wisdom that comes from all the previous experience and investigations of people throughout history. —S.H.
“To link oneself with the masses, one must act in accordance with the needs and wishes of the masses. All work done for the masses must start from their needs and not from the desire of any individual, however well-intentioned. It often happens that objectively the masses need a certain change, but subjectively they are not yet conscious of the need, not yet willing or determined to make the change. In such cases, we should wait patiently. We should not make the change until, through our work, most of the masses have become conscious of the need and are willing and determined to carry it out. Otherwise we shall isolate ourselves from the masses. Unless they are conscious and willing, any kind of work that requires their participation will turn out to be a mere formality and will fail. ... There are two principles here: one is the actual needs of the masses rather than what we fancy they need, and the other is the wishes of the masses, who must make up their own minds instead of our making up their minds for them.” —Mao, Quotations, ch. XI; originally from “The United Front in Cultural Work” (Oct. 30, 1944), SW 3:236-7.
WILLIAMS, Robert F. (1925-1996)
A radical American civil rights leader and proponent of armed self-defence for African-Americans being terrorized by not only the Ku Klux Klan and individual racists, but also sometimes by the local, state and national governments of the U.S. When Williams was a boy his grandmother, a former slave, gave him the rifle that his grandfather had used to defend himself in an earlier period. Williams became president of the Monroe, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP in the 1950s and 60s. He also organized the Black Armed Guard to defend the local Black community against KKK attacks. His 1962 book, Negroes with Guns, further promoted armed self-defense, and served to inspire many others, most notably Huey Newton and the Black Panther Party.
During a period of high racial tensions in the area, a white couple linked to the KKK was stopped by an angry crowd of Blacks. Williams escorted them away from the potential trouble and sheltered them in his own home. Ironically, the state then charged him with kidnapping! Since there was no hope for a fair trial nor any kind of justice, Williams fled the country and went to Cuba. From there he made regular radio broadcasts to Southern Blacks on “Radio Free Dixie”, a station he established with the help of Fidel Castro’s government. This station’s signal was hypocritically jammed by the U.S. at the same time they condemned Cuba for jamming U.S. propaganda broadcasts directed against that country!
The NAACP, Black religious leaders such as Martin Luther King, the liberal white civil rights movement, and even the revisionist (so-called) Communist Party, USA, all opposed Blacks arming themselves in self-defense against racist attacks. In a 1964 letter to his lawyer, Conrad Lynn, Williams wrote that
“... the U.S.C.P. has openly come out against my position on the
Negro struggle. In fact, the party has sent special representatives here [to Cuba]
to sabotage my work on behalf of U.S. Negro liberation. They are pestering the Cubans
to remove me from the radio, ban THE CRUSADER [a newspaper Williams published] and to
take a number of other steps in what they call ‘cutting Williams down to size.’...
“The whole thing is due to the fact that I absolutely refuse to take direction from Gus Hall’s idiots... I hope to depart from here, if possible, soon. I am writing you to stand by in case I am turned over to the FBI...”
In 1965 Williams and his wife left Cuba to settle in China, where he was warmly welcomed.
He was, however, never a Marxist or a communist. In August 1966, during the Cultural
Revolution, he and the Communist Party of China organized a major demonstration against
the continuing discrimination and oppression of Black people in the U.S. His
speech on that
occasion appeared in the Chinese publication Peking Review. In 1968 he was invited
home to the U.S. by Conrad Lynn and other supporters in order to run for U.S. president!
But he wisely decided that until he could reasonably be assured that he would not be sent
to prison he should not return. He did return to the U.S. in late 1969, where in the period
of warming relations between the U.S. and China his knowledge of China was welcomed at the
Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan. There were continuing attempts
to extradite him to North Carolina, however, and this finally happened in 1976. However, by
then there was significant support for him from the left and from Blacks, and the charges
against him were soon dropped. In the years that followed Williams continued to work at the
Center for Chinese Studies. He died of Hodgkin’s disease in 1996.
For more information and a list of further sources, see the Wikipedia entry about Robert Williams, from which much of the material here has been taken.
WISHING THAT THINGS WERE DIFFERENT
Everyone often wishes that things were different—and much better! But sensible people need to avoid wasting time in imagining in some religious or fantasy way that things really are not so bad, or in foolish notions that everything will spontaneously improve, or in supposing that fundamental changes for the better will be easy to accomplish (say through the ballot box), or even in thinking that nothing fundamental can ever really be changed. Marxist materialists must spend less time wishing or imagining that things were different, and more time facing reality and working to make them different! And we need to do that through our participation with the people in their struggles, while educating them about the absolute need for socialist revolution, and in the process learning from the masses themselves how to go about leading them.
If someone only wishes that things were different, and doesn’t actually work hard to make them different, then they will sooner or later come to hate “the people” for not changing the bad situation which we all face—and despite the fact that they themselves are really doing nothing to change it either!
Just wishing that things were different is simply not enough!
“A mortal should think mortal thoughts, not immortal thoughts.”
—Epicharmus of Kos (Greek dramatist and philosopher, c. 550-c. 460 BCE).
[No more unrealizable liberal or utopian dreams! No more fantasies about changes in society that it would really take a “god” or a dream to “accomplish!” Let us resolve to work with the masses to change the world step-by-step through rational plans and actions to carry out revolution, that the leaders themselves largely discover in the course of that great struggle! —S.H.]
WITHERING AWAY OF THE STATE
The Marxist conception that the class struggle, and the proletarian state which enforces the rule of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie after the socialist revolution, will gradually “wither away” and cease to exist.
The revolutionary Marxist view is that every state is the organized agency of one social class which exists for the purpose of maintaining by force (“when necessary”) its own dictatorship over one or more other classes. Specifically, our view is that the socialist state exists to exercize the dictatorship of the proletariat over the remnants of the bourgeoisie it overthrew as well as over any new bourgeois elements that might arise in the early stages of the new socialist society. But we intend to organize that socialist society so that it will gradually transform the class outlook of the older generations, and even more importantly, bring up the new generations with socialist and communist consciousness. This will be done through both educational means, and by continually transforming the relations of production and distribution in the direction of communism. Before too many decades pass there will no longer be any bourgeoisie left and there will no longer even be any basis for the creation of new bourgeois outlooks. By that point there will no longer be any need or use for the dictatorship of the proletariat, or for the state at all, and it will cease to exist.
Of course there will still need to be social organization, the planning and organization of production, the organization of education, health services, and so forth. However, this will be handled by the agencies of communist civil society, and there will no longer be any agencies of force whose task is the suppression of one class by another. That is, the state—properly speaking—will have ceased to exist.
WITTGENSTEIN, Ludwig (1889-1951)
Austrian-British philosopher, who founded two major twentieth century schools of bourgeois philosophy. The first, logical positivism, was largely inspired by his 1921 work Tractatus Logical-Philosophicus. The second school, in many respects a reaction against the first (at least for Wittgenstein himself), was linguistic philosophy. Wittgenstein’s major work in his second period was his Philosophical Investigations (1953).
See also: Philosophical doggerel about Wittgenstein.
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