A Hillbilly Syllabus


“Some people call me Hillbilly
Some people call me Mountain Man
Well, you can call me Appalachia
’Cause Appalachia is what I am”
—Del McCoury

Since the publication of JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, just before the “election” of Donald Trump, the people of Appalachia have been discovered again. Perplexed by the specter of white poverty and apparent backwardness, liberals and progressives turned to Vance’s Elegy to understand Appalachians. Instead, what they found was a blame-the-victim and culture of poverty narrative that wouldn’t pass the smell test of racism in any other case.

Unfortunately, Elegy is now the touchstone for any discussion about Appalachia. Yet, there is a rich tradition of Appalachian scholars and writers, writing from the Left, about the topics of poverty, racism, underdevelopment, and struggle.

This is a partial list of some of the most useful resources that I’ve come across and recommend for people to read…

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Statement of Unity of PYO-STL and STP-STL into Revolutionary Action, STL (RevAct – STL)

Revolutionary Action - Saint Louis


August 19, 2017

Progressive Youth Organization (STL) was founded in January of 2016 as Progressive Students Organization. The purpose of PYO-STL was to develop revolutionary consciousness among the youth of the Saint Louis Metropolitan area, to carry out the mass line method of leadership, and generally secure university and high school campuses in our metropolitan area as trenches of struggle and combat for students of working class origin and outlook. In the formation of PYO, we took inspiration mainly from the now defunct RSCC (Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, a mass organization of the now defunct NCP-LC, or Liaison Committee for a New Communist Party) and PYO-KC (Progressive Youth Organization – KC). Serve the People – Saint Louis was founded in January of this year, with the purpose being the organization of non-student masses for concrete and militant struggle against gentrification, police brutality, drug abuse, and other ills caused by capitalism…

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Declaration of the Organizing Committee for a Maoist Communist Party

Maoist Communist Party - Organizing Committee

Declaration of the Organizing Committee for a Maoist Communist Party

We are the only ones who can get at the monster’s heart without subjecting the world to nuclear fire. We have a momentous historical role to act out if we will. The whole world for all time in the future will love us and remember us as the righteous people who made it possible for the world to live on. If we fail through fear and lack of aggressive imagination, then the slaves of the future will curse us, as we sometimes curse those of yesterday. I don’t want to die and leave a few sad songs and a hump in the ground as my only monument. I want to leave a world that is liberated from trash, pollution, racism, nation-states, nation-state wars and armies, from pomp, bigotry, parochialism, a thousand different brands of untruth, and licentious usurious economics. – Field…

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Lenin Complex and Some Frustrations of Mine

It doesn’t take one very long to realize that the Left-wing movement is full of oddballs; most of these oddballs are loveable. Others, however, are not so loveable and so I found it fitting to be the topic of this short post– overly serious “professional” revolutionaries who fancy themselves the Lenin of their times.

Or, Lenin Complex for short.

Ignoring the maybe slightly Ableist connotations of the word “complex”, these people are the sort of comrades which frustrate me more than any other comrade. Why is because, at best, they turn Leftism into a drab military-esque formation where everything is sacred, and all is black and white. At worst, such comrades hide reactionary politics and/or toxic behavior.

You know who they are, they are the Leftbookers who will never be caught uttering a joke, mentioning anything about their personal lives which hasn’t be filtered through fifty-shades of SERIOUS™ and POLITICAL™, and who always act as though every post and story shared, every sentence of commentary, is akin to a polemic which will be read by online archeologists decades down the road. Maybe they even are working on their “collected works” or an “autobiography” of their political lives.

I deplore these people.

Now, there is nothing wrong with taking yourself or your organization seriously. Not everyone needs to be a clown-in-training. But there is a difference between taking yourself seriously and immersing yourself within the SERIOUS™.  The former is something mature people practice from time-to-time while the later tends to be, more often than not, a cover for self-aggrandizement and reactionary politics.

To give an example: I have known several comrades over the years who have transitioned to far-right extremists. It is a sad development but something which happens from time to time. What every instance had in common, however, was that the comrades in question had bad cases of Lenin Complex (nothing against ya, Lenny!).

These comrades would try to mask everything they did. One, a younger fellow, posted an overly long, yet emotionless rant about how he lost his cell phone while on a study trip to Europe. Why the post was long was because he wanted to be taken SERIOUSLY® for his newly acquired Right-wing pals; he didn’t want to be perceived as a stereotypical, whiny American kid who was so concerned about his cell phone. It will not surprise you to learn that this behavior was something which followed him throughout life, even when he was a leftist: before he ditched an organization which, at the time, we were both members of, he called my on Skype to say that we were still comrades; a touching sentiment, yes, but something which is hardly needed if you are merely leaving one group to join another.

Another example, this time with someone older than my ex-comrade: in short, he was a class reductionist National-Bolshevik. He was incredibly transphobic. Part of how he would hide his fascist sentiment was with overly-serious attitudes; he would post lengthy commentaries on how carefully he decided on the course of action to take. To him, every time he deleted somebody from a social media profile was a BIG EVENT©. People such as him hoped to find their fame as a left-wing personality by making it seem as though they took a personal interest in each and every action and story they shared. It was pathetic.

What I am getting at is that this behavior indexes larger problems.

One can just as easily hide their counter-revolutionary politics with “ironic” humor, it is done every day, especially with TERFS. But, if one uses humor, it is harder to build a cult-following and easier to pass one’s self off as a respectable commentator and source of opinion. Whereas comedy tends to alienate the respectable, the serious attracts the crowds out of the authority fallacy.

I want to shift gears, though, because I think this Lenin complex cuts deeper. This is where my personal frustrations peek.

Lately, I have been becoming more and more frustrated with the revolutionary left. Do not mistake me, I have never been more of a revolutionary communist, but I have been finding it harder and harder to have non-hostile conversations with people from certain tendencies and outlooks, mainly because of how they operate in a subset of Lenin Complex.

What irks me is when a comrade will remain connected to my profile for a long time but only comment or react to my content when it comes time to disagree with a political statement I make. Now, I tend to be selective about who I let on my profile, but there is a variety of people on there, not all of whom are Leftists. But what I strive for in my interactions has been to keep up an interest in my friends’ activities. Sometimes this means liking/reacting to stories, other times commenting, or if they are of the persuasion, messaging them and deepening the connection. What I have been seeing lately, though, is comrades who simply only care about my activity when it clashes with their own beliefs.

These comrades you will not see taking an interest in anything you do: they will not like/react to your posts, they will only rarely comment or message you. But, don’t worry, they will comment on your posts if you post something which offends their very exact political sensibilities. Never will they interact with your content about your personal life, even though you clearly give off the vibes of someone who is open to people becoming closer via communication.

Obviously, this is not a position shared by comrades who have thousands of friends. As I said, I am selective about who I let on my profile. Additionally, I understand boundary issues and some people just wanting to do their own thing. I get that. So what bothers me is when I see Lenin Complex intersect with other bad behavior; behaviors such as: overly serious, religious-like, reverence some comrades have for their group or tendency, or how it leads them to remain connected with known abusers but does not lead them to conduct self-criticisms. Such comrades place personal affectations above politics while remaining attached to that overly-serious political model which allows them to deny any personal stake in their actions; it is the reverse of my own frustrations but a very real present all the less.

Personal affectations aside, however, the general conduct of the left in organizing has been disappointing. There have been many premature declarations and larger than life assertions with poor practice. I hope that organizers start taking their roles as political agents more seriously. I say this because in my personal experience, there is a lot of weirdly misplaced effort in the most unlikely of places and it disturbs me.

2017: Symbols and Logos of White Nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and the Alt-Right

Based Leftist


  • TRADITIONALIST WORKER PARTY: “The Traditionalist Worker Party is a white nationalist group that advocates for racially pure nations and communities and blames Jews for many of the world’s problems. Even as it claims to oppose racism, saying every race deserves its own lands and culture, the group is intimately allied with neo-Nazi and other hardline racist organizations that espouse unvarnished white supremacist views.”
  • PROUD BOYS: A far-right “fraternal organization of Western Chauvinists who will no longer apologize for creating the modern world” founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnes. Frat boy “alpha males” who are prone to street violence and IRL trolling.
  • VANGUARD AMERICA: A fascist group with the goal of making the United States a “nation exclusively for the White American peoples.” One must be “at least 80% White/European heritage” in order to join. Also made explicit is a policy of “no homosexuals, transsexuals, adulterers, or any other…

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Spectacle and Simulation

The Moonbat Diaries

A combination photo shows U.S. President Trump  trying twice to let go of a handshake with France's President Macron as Macron holds tight, before a working lunch ahead of a NATO Summit in Brussels

As Evan Puschack (a.k.a. The Nerdwriter) pointed out in his excellent video essay on cinematic violence, one of the most striking characteristics of action sequences in superhero movies is the seeming lack of consequences. The cityscapes in which the action is often situated exist as nothing more than ephemeral simulations, crumbling into rubble over and over again, only to re-emerge, unscathed, for the next sequence (or movie). Reality seems to be suspended, as punches fly and skyscrapers (usually conveniently evacuated) collapse, hordes of aliens are wiped out, and nothing happens. The choreography, for all its flashiness, is ultimately devoid of meaning. These fights seem more like ritualistic displays than battles for survival. Alright, now after I punch you in the chest, you’ll block my kick, and then I’ll tackle you into this building… Each blow is nothing more than an empty signifier, landing without any real impact. Of course…

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“Russia is an Imperialilst Country”

Comrades over at Mass-Proletariat recently published a great take on modern Russia’s imperialism; since there is much confusion on Russian imperialism, with some people refusing to believe it even exists, this should be mandatory reading for anyone who considers themselves a Leftist.

Link: http://www.massproletariat.info/writings/russia_is_an_imperialist_country.html