“Dear Commander Nie, Today I feel really bad. Probably I have to say farewell to you forever! Please send a letter to Tim Buck the General Secretary of Canadian Communist Party. Address is No.10, Wellington Street, Toronto, Canada. Please also make a copy for Committee on International Aid to China and Democratic Alliance of Canada, tell them, I am very happy here… Please give my Kodak Retina II camera to comrade Sha Fei. Norman Bethune, 04:20pm, November 11th, 1939.” – Last Will of Dr. Norman Bethune
Norman Bethune was a Canadian doctor and Communist sent by his party to participate in both the Spanish Civil War and the Chinese Revolution. It was in China that he contracted septicemia and died. He was a proletarian internationalist hero in the Communist spirit and his life should be studied and remembered by those who are Communists. He did what the masses and their Party commanded him to do, and he was eulogized by Mao Zedong himself. This individual example of Proletarian Internationalism, meaning the self-sacrificing spirit of the Communist when the world is ablaze, the realization that the working class all over the world are your brothers and sisters, has been displayed on a larger scale by members of the Black Panther Party and other revolutionary formations. Cuba sent thousands of doctors, for free, to wherever they needed them. That’s revolutionary internationalism. We Maoists realize that proletarian internationalism is a very specific thing with a very specific character and a very specific purpose. You don’t just grab a weapon, gallivant overseas, and kill people and call it proletarian internationalism. This definition is too loose and anarchistic, allowing all sorts of opportunists to smuggle themselves in. Those that engage in this type of thinking oftentimes haven’t investigated the situation that they seek to engage in, and don’t understand the forces at play. In that case, the ex-Marines, PissPigGranddad, and all sorts of mercenaries and opportunists can be called “proletarian internationalists”. That’s a ridiculous mockery of the Norman Bethune spirit and the spirit of proletarian internationalism.
The Kurdish struggle for self-determination. It is indeed a just one. The Kurdish nation is a long oppressed one divided among several countries in the Middle East, specifically Turkey, Syria and Iraq. When most in the West refer to the “Kurds”, they’re referring to the Syrian Kurds who fight under the guidance of the PYD-led YPG units. These are who most Westerners who go to Syria end up embedded with, alongside US Marines. The Westerners who go to Syria usually claim to want to “fight ISIS”. Yet even a cursory investigation shows that ISIS is funded and backed by US proxies in the region, and the “fighting of ISIS” has mainly been done by non-YPG forces, who have also been fighting the US backed “FSA” jihadist forces. The US isn’t in the region to “fight ISIS”, its meddling is what gave ISIS a vacuum to operate in the first place. The US is in the region to destabilize Syria, turn it into another Iraq except 10 times more bloody, and expand its foothold in the Middle East. Assad is a thorn in their side. What has the PYD done? Called for more US missile strikes on Syrian territory in an act of blatant and extreme opportunism which shows callous disregard for human life and more than “creative and tactical” engagement with US imperialism. The YPG/PYD is not using the US, it is being used. When the US can no longer use them as a club to punish rapidly fascistizing Turkey over the head, they will go the way of all other pawns of US imperialism. Their founder, Abdullah Ocalan, has renounced Marxism-Leninism and is now a follower of Murray Bookchin in prison. Call me wrong, but I don’t think Mao would be pleased.
What about the Westerners? More than a few Americans have gone to Syria and faced down ISIS. It’s the sexy thing to do among anarchists at heart that also happen to like the color red nowadays. Is it beneficial? Depends. Combat training isn’t obtained only in Rojava, but at least there’s a case for it. Perhaps some “veterans” of that conflict might prove useful in the future, but that’s to be seen. Syria isn’t the only place where brown people are killing brown people. I find it odd that those who “support Rojava” and have resources to go there have very little knowledge or willingness to support projects and struggles that can harm US imperialism (which also is supporting ISIS) at home. Nobody pays attention to initiatives launched by colonized people at home in the US, but everybody has money to go to Rojava. Are we not sexy enough or something? Sorry. Nobody seems to pay attention to things going on in Africa, in South America where Venezuela seems to be tearing itself apart, or anywhere else where a nice dose of proletarian internationalism can be used. There are places here in the US where proletarian internationalism and support can be used! Why? I have guesses. Rojava is a gateway to stardom and fame either through martyrdom or through status. You might even be on VICE! Nevermind the fact that in 5 years the experiment will most likely be solidly under the thumb of the US due to its opportunist leadership and the dynamics of the situation, goddamnit, you were there!
The white American left should focus less on self-aggrandizing adventurism and white saviorism thinly disguised as “internationalism” (the US is the world headquarters of fascism of ISIS type, there’s plenty to do here) and pay more attention to building up something that can actually materially help people across the world in a major way. It’s good you want to put your body on the line, but millions of people here don’t have to go to a warzone that the people your parents voted for made to be in danger. If you want to participate in the antifa struggle, you’re in a perfect place to do so. You’re in a perfect place to smash fascism, actually. Or you can run off to Syria to be used. Makes no difference in the long run and grand scheme of things. If you’ve got complaints or whining to do in my direction send them along with the money you were going to waste on a plane ticket, we can use it here. Reject self-aggrandizement, your purpose in life is to make revolution here, if you’re trying to “find yourself” or whatever you people call it talk to some people. Don’t be PissPig. Be Norman Bethune.