Written by O’Connell and Saoirse
Important note about the authors: The two authors have spent years on Leftbook before breaking from it and its toxic environment. This article, this analysis, is by former leftbookers with lived experiences of this environment.
Leftbook is the online nickname for leftist Facebook. It is the online community for anarchists, Trotskyists (Trots), Maoists, Marxist-Leninists (ML), Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (MLM), etc.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of leftist Facebook groups, pages, etc. that make up the dominant majority of Leftbook. Many of these spaces being for different purposes from educational to humor to gardening to activism, etc.
In many ways Leftbook has aided in growing the leftist community in America, including assisting in the growth of the Marxist-Leninist community. However the cons of Leftbook are so glaring and substantial, that it outweighs the good it does; many of said cons, which will be detailed in this article, specifically aid in destroying the leftist movement in America.
An important point to mention; all the information about Leftbook, its ultra-left tendencies, etc. can apply to other online areas of the left as well from Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, etc. It’s just that Leftbook is the more famous and the worst of these communities; thus, the article will specifically be talking about Leftbook, however these arguments can apply elsewhere online.
Leftbook, as a few comrades have put it, has become a COINTELPRO psyop. The argument is very compelling from an in-and-out observation of Leftbook. This analysis is from the lived experiences of those who have been in Leftbook and see it from this in-and-out observation. However, it is not just empirical evidence though, as a materialist analysis of leftbook can easily show the cop-like behavior of those who frequent that different spaces there; from tankiespotter group, who take screenshots of and catalog the activities of so-called “tankies”, to even those who would be considered tankies doing the exact same work. There are often claims that this is in the interest of protecting the left, but at the time, there are those who dedicate their entire time to doing this work.
Additional note, for those who aren’t aware of what “tankie” means, its context has culturally changed in the online left from meaning people who support the USSR sending tanks into Hungary to crush the fascist coup, to being an umbrella term for communists in general, especially those who support Stalin, Mao and/or Lenin.
When the argument about how Leftbook is a COINTELPRO psyop is given, it is not specifically saying it is controlled or regulated by COINTELPRO, but rather that the environment can be exploited, and most likely is, by COINTELPRO. In fact since we know the FBI, CIA, etc. use online spaces, it makes a good argument that it is exploited by such entities. It is an environment that can allow specific entities to “fan the flames”, so to say.
Leftbook breeds an environment of individualism, ultra-leftism, and adventurism. It allows uncontrolled communication between leftists and non-leftists, which, with the different developments of each person, and liberal tendencies plaguing everyone, turns the environment into a hostile community of constant fighting, purging, attacking, and targeting. It creates a hostile environment, in which education and learning are cast aside, in favor of call outs, and canceling people of any simple mistake. There is no regard for the level of development someone has gone through in their communist education.
Fighting and infighting:
It is absolutely no secret for anyone who spends a single day on Leftbook that fighting, and infighting is constant. It is so common that even those on Leftbook make jokes about how much we fight each other. What is worse is exactly how this culture even starts. Sectarianism has always been an issue in the left, specifically among Marxists. There are two glaring differences between Marxists and anarchists, or Marxists and ultra-lefists. However Marxists should not fight with other Marxists, unless the views of one overtake what makes someone a Marxist to begin with. We have an issue in Leftbook, where small disagreements can not only end friendships, it can destroy interaction with the left as a whole, as different groups of social cliques participate in liberal cancel culture and start ostracizing people. There is no patience, no understanding, no interest in working collectively to develop and/or advance people who hold incorrect views. However, this does not ignore the present reality that some don’t wish to break from incorrect views, and in which they then participate in dogmatism on specific topics, or uphold reactionary beliefs. There needs to be a certain level of understanding and patience for people with specific views, but on that same note, if the person does not wish to change from said views, trying to apply pressure will only result in a feeling of alienation for the specific person as no one agrees with them, making them seek those who do and doubling down on their views.
This is probably the most important statement that can be made on this topic and if you are not willing to teach someone to change, and have patience with them as you work on them further developing, not only have you broken away from communist behavior, but you have ignored, ignorantly, our duty, in a time where people, who are products of their environment, act in accordance to their environment. To practice “canceling” as a primary reaction towards questionable behavior and not re-education/rehabilitation as the primary, is how you turn people anti-communist, or ostracize them down this path, where they get worse in reactionary tendencies.
Fighting has become, for many on the left, a sense of euphoria which intoxicates leftists. It heightens someone’s ego to believe “my aims are correct (in my view) therefore what I am doing is justified.” This mindset is toxic and counter to communist behavior. If, say, for example, you attack someone because they have liberal tendencies, and you call for them to be ostracized, you have successfully called to destroy further development of a potential comrade, limiting and lowering our numbers as a movement further. This is not communistic behavior, it is liberalism. We are told to not hate people with incorrect ideas, but to help educate them, so they may grow, and become better communists. No one is born with correct ideas. As comrade Mao said, we need to look at where correct ideas come from; they come from studying theory, practice, studying again, and practice again, ad infinitum.
If you create a fight with someone over minor, specific disagreements, which further escalate into cliques forming, this is sectarianism, and divisiveness. This is not communistic behavior, this too is a form of liberalism. And it needs to be stated that fighting is not the same thing as engaging in discourse. Discourse is a good faith discussion, in which the parties at hand engage in a dialectic, where a thesis is presented, followed by the antithesis, and a conclusion is come to in the form of synthesis. This is not what we typically see on Leftbook, rather, we see fights on broadly defined ideological grounds, that usually results in ad-hominem attacks, and misses the point of how we are supposed to, as communists, handle disagreement between comrades. Even if someone hold a belief that is contrary to everything you believe in, we must at least try to calmly engage them, in good faith discussion, so we can educate them. Fighting between comrades does the opposite, in which it results in furthering the alienation of both parties. This is incorrect, and we must combat this. That is not to say, though, that we need to engage with obvious “trolls”, and unnecessarily hostile people; we can try our best to educate them, but there is nothing wrong with leaving a discussion that is clearly going nowhere. Fighting our own should not be a behavior any communist, or someone inspiring to such, should promote.
Individualism is a common trait on Leftbook, and many other online spaces for the left. We strive to be communists, who are inherently collective, but we also struggle to break away from the one trait that causes us the most strife and is anti-communist. The vast majority of us exist in very individualistic environments, especially our American, and European comrades, so it is naturally difficult for us to break away from this liberal behavior.
Examples of this can be seen from the usual actions of many leftbookers, aka the individual act to say something without thinking, to act without collectivism, etc. As communists, we need to look out for what is best for the collective. Individualistic actions harm the collective, and are part of what breeds cliqueism.
It’s common for many on Leftbook to act upon something by themselves, or to say something without collective insight. In fact it is common for collective insight on Leftbook to be opposed, because of the previous point about fighting. The slightest disagreement turns into online brawls, that build social cliques, and ostracize a person or groups from another. Individualism and fighting on Leftbook go hand and hand. It is very rare for disciplined or principled people on Leftbook to break away from this common behavior.
We must materialistically examine what causes this. One reason is the countless cliques, and lack of collectivism on Leftbook. One breeds the other, and subverts any attempt to eliminate cliques, and espouse collectivism. There was the era of “Godmins”, in which one person in a group would hold absolute power above all members. This is one example, in the history of Leftbook, of collectivism being ignored for individualism. It lead to raw formation and cliques, and even cults of personality around the Godmins. We all know that the cult of the individual is anti-communist. What causes this though? There is the obvious answer of people who live in an individualistic society having trouble separating themselves from it, as they were brought up this way, and any learned behavior is hard to unlearn. This is true, but it is more complex than that. The main cause is charismatic individuals, with an incomplete Marxist development, believing they have the most correct ideas, taking a position of power, and using their influence to shut down anything that goes against their own preconceived notions. When other such individuals are denied recognition, and there is no room for a dialectic, they go on, with their own clique, to form their own group, counter to the other. Those within the clique are discouraged, and even forbidden, from engaging with the other group.
One example of this, in the history of Leftbook, was Karl Marx’s Dank Meme Stash (KMDMS). There was a sound disagreement with the admin team, over inaction against transphobic content, but it was shut down. Comments were locked, and only the admins could approve any post. This, coupled with the failed attempts to radicalize Jill Stein’s Dank Meme Stash (JSDMS), spurred the creation of a whole slew of cliques, in the form of other “Dank Meme Stashs”. None of them were functionally different from one another, aside from the different cliques in control.
This spawned the era of “coups” as well, which started with KMDMS. Individuals, who had disagreements with leadership in the group, largely over inaction against transphobes, collaborated with a member of the admin team, who was sympathetic to their plight. They used this person’s admin powers to remove the other admins, and install a new regime of admins. There was an attempt to change the group, make it more inclusive, and follow Marxist principles. The issue was, however, that the group was run by a clique, nominally voted in to power democratically. However, the votes were skewed by the lesser members of the clique, and only those who were in the cliques votes really mattered. There was an attempt at democratic centralism, and collectivism, but the voice of the collective was ignored, in favor of what the clique believed to be correct. This mentality continued for quite some time, and lead to the infiltration of liberal groups, not to educate, but to stage coups, and fill the group with supporters of the clique involved.
Some of this may sound like it was collective behavior, however, we must remember the nature of cliques, and how they function. The nature of a clique is a group of individuals, who act in the collective interest of the clique. They maintain individuality, as opposed to a collective consciousness, meant to further the good of the collective, but rather the good of the clique, and sometimes not even that. They function as groups, whose sole purpose is subversion. In addition, they are lead by an individual, who the rest of the clique can rally behind, so long as it is in their individual interest. This shows the danger of cliques, as one clique always results in another, creating a disorganized, individualistic environment. Many of us come from individualistic environments, as has been stated, and when we fail to remove ourselves from this mentality, we reproduce this in our online environments, and in organizing, or rather lack of organizing.
What made many on Leftbook become leftbookers is the same thing that pushed introverts to dedicating unhealthy amounts of time online; isolation.
Isolation and social ostracizing is so common online there is jokes about it. The things that makes people “different” in social life often become the reasons for being ostracized, thus pushing people to find their own community. So if this is the case with online communities for fans of anime, games, or other hobbies; why would it not be the same case for politics? Specifically leftist politics which, in this country, are so culturally hated? It wasn’t until recently (2016) that leftist politics started becoming culturally common with leftist organized rallies against Trump and Neo-Nazi rallies, and even most socially accepted leftist politics are social democrat liberalism or anarchism (to a degree). Regardless, Leftbook became one of many online spaces for the American left. Realistically, Leftbook and online spaces for the left served a good function; providing space for the left to interact and grow. And a worse function; it made the worse behaviors leftists should oppose heightened. Ostracizing went from physical social life to online social life as one clique ostracizes the other, or one person ostracizes the other. Be it for legitimate reasons (ideological opposing beliefs) or illogical reasons (small disagreements on ideological topics). Out of the many online spaces, Leftbook is probably the worse in terms of taking isolation and ostracizing to a new level among its own.
Let this be clear; Leftbook is a cesspool of ultra-leftism. Ultra-leftism intoxicates every corner of Leftbook.
From a Marxist-Leninist outlook, especially one with years of experience on Leftbook, ultra-leftism is a plague that sweeps over Leftbook in every corner. Even the ML community on Leftbook is effected to some extent, so much so that it feels like they’re lacking in being an ML when you talk with and associate with actual ML’s in a communist party.
Or worse, people who call themselves ML but in all actuality are “meme communists.” Meme communists basically being joke communists, or communists who take small amounts of theory, don’t study further, and use it for self-righteousness to justify that they’re a principled communist who represents the whole of the movement, while not getting involved in any leftist groups, writing off groups in specific nations because they aren’t to their misguided liking, or getting involved in ultra-left groups, or even taking studying theory and becoming dogmatic with it or not carrying out what they studied. Meme communists/joke communists are the stereotype of a communist, they are part of ultra-leftism in the modern era.
Or we have the other situation of ultra-leftism, which is one that opposes dialectical materialism on every level. These kind of tendencies are usually common with anarchism, however even other “socialist” tendencies fall into this backwards thinking. This kind of ultra-leftism is usually one that doesn’t take materialist outlooks to subjects, historical or non, it takes an idealistic outlook; basically what it should be vs what it is. This kind of ultra-leftism often takes topics that are complex and boils them down into simplicity. Such a topic that requires a dialectical analysis, like the USSR after Stalin for example; ultras of this variety argue after Stalin the USSR was permanently bad, it was state capitalist, it was social imperialist, etc. etc. This mentality paints everything black and white, when dialectically speaking, the world is a mixtures of gray. The USSR was still Socialist after Stalin however it was being taken over by revisionists. It wasn’t till Gorbachev’s 1980’s reforms did the economy open up to privatization. Social imperialism completely ignores Lenin’s analysis on imperialism. This kind of ultra-leftism ignores specific people as well, such as Khrushchev, who did good things like sending the tanks into Hungary to crush the fascist coup happening there against Jews and Communists, and food reforms to avoid famines, however he did horrible things like his “secret speech” denouncing Stalin, along with multiple social democrat policies and the like. These are just a few examples, but there are plenty of others. This kind of ultra-leftism doesn’t use dialectical materialist analysis, it opposes this kind of analysis.
Adventurism and Spontaneity:
Adventurism and spontaneity is so common on Leftbook that it is promoted as the ideal form of organizing. This is backwards thinking.
This behavior coupled with individualism turns into a situation where the lack of collectivism allows people to organize things that aren’t worked on with civil analysis and debate. It allows things to be organized and created which can, in turn, hurt the movement rather than help. It also in turn becomes the organization style that people idolize instead of reject, which, in a revolutionary situation, or intense situation, can lead to harm or death as the lack of collective interaction and centralization allows the situation easily destroyed by opposing forces. It also allows the multiple individuals in such an event organized via these means to act on their own rather than collectively, which means people can have opposing views and no ideological unity is formed, leading to confusion for the masses and people acting upon their own, increasing the death toll or the bad reputation it brings if things get out of hand.
These kinds of behaviors can be seen with the individualistic acts of many leftbookers in making online spaces (Facebook pages and groups) which can often times turn out to be discriminatory, ideologically backwards, abusive, etc.
Oppose adventurism and spontaneity.
Lack of Security Culture:
Security culture on Leftbook is rare. And we don’t mean this in the sense that leftbookers don’t protect their identities against the state, that’s impossible on Facebook or anywhere in this day and age with the NSA, FBI, etc. and these companies selling private data to said agencies. However what we mean in this context is the lack of security culture for far-right people or undercover profiles. Most leftbookers often accept friends into their circles based completely on commie aesthetics, meme communists are the worse for this. This leads to completely unknown people infiltrating Leftbook circles, and for undercover profiles who are far-right this can be used for gathering information, and for undercover feds this can be used to exploit Leftbook and keep ultra-leftism and these many characteristics mentioned in this article continuing to be present, if not dominating Leftbook. Any involvement on Leftbook must come with some level of security culture and some level of studying WHO you are allowing in your circles.
Leftbook and Former PCUSA Members:
The many former members the PCUSA has had issues with often stemmed from Leftbook, or it involved Leftbook; hopefully this article will be the end of such a trend, however we know that will not always be the case.
We won’t mention names, however we have had more than a few members who have conflicted with the party specifically because of ideological differences or from a lack of discipline, principles, and/or lack of Marxist-Leninist behavior. Such often problems with these former people was individualism, spontaneity, ultra-leftism, and most of these people was deeply consumed by Leftbook.
The factionalists we dealt with back in November 2018, a group of people trying to rally members against the Trans cadre, and spread slanderous lies against the party; not only was these attempts spread by their leader to ultra-leftists and the far-right, but of the many online circles that was used to push this slander, Leftbook was the main one. The traitors directly went to Leftbook, and the many ultra-leftists and class reductionists who hated Trans people, as the people to spread their slander to the left and destroy the party. Thankfully, many was able to see the slander as slander and see exactly what the PCUSA was trying to do; protect a section of the working class and its membership from the very enemies against them.
Conclusion and Reaction to Online Spaces:
The position the PCUSA should have, and really the position any communist organization should have, towards Leftbook and online leftist spaces should be one of caution. Leftbook and other online leftist spaces serve the purpose of influence and growth, however those who get involved must break from their previous anti-communist behaviors that was praised and promoted on these online spaces. They must further develop and change into a disciplined and principled communist, to break from any ultra-left tendencies, and to work collectively instead of individualistically.
Our conclusion on Leftbook is that it is the second most destructive entity for the American left. The first being the government. What specifically makes it so destructive for the American left is what has been detailed here. It takes anyone trying to become a communist and sways their path. It can and has been shown to take principled communists and make them unprincipled ultra-lefts. It breeds ultra-leftism and, because of the lack of Marxist-Leninist guidance, or experienced Marxist-Leninist guidance, it leaves people inspiring to be such lacking in their attempts.
People who aim to become communist (Marxist-Leninist) should join a organization with ML guidance and ideology, they shouldn’t be consumed by Leftbook because Leftbook will destroy them or sway them in being what they inspire to be.
And for members of our own party, or who are interested in our party, who are involved in Leftbook, let this be our message to you; Break away from it. Focus specifically in guidance by the party, because Leftbook can’t provide, in great depths, what the PCUSA can. The PCUSA has old, experienced ML’s among its membership and leadership, this is what Leftbook lacks, and because of that, it is not substantial in providing for those inspiring to be Marxist-Leninists what experienced and disciplined/principled Marxist-Leninists can provide