One of the issues a revolutionary has to not only accept, but address with relevant political points, is the practice of people trying to catch them in contradiction. Whether it’s someone that the person knows well or just a passing acquaintance, as soon as leftist politics become apparent, the other person proceeds to try and root out hypocrisy on the revolutionary’s part, usually using the tool of lifestyle criticisms. This results from a simple lack of data to understand socialist ideology—it is a simple structural fact of imperialist society.
To give an example, after talking briefly about some relevant current event or political theory with a person, afterwards the two may get a meal or soda of some sort. Immediately their face lights up, and they grin deviously like someone who is suddenly privy to some dark secret. The following conversation or something like it ensues:
“You’re drinking soda!”
“So, you’re a hypocrite!”
“Why? Communists can’t drink soda? What is anti-communist about soda?”
“Soda is made by corporations!”
“So is everything—so is my food and clothing for that matter.”
“Yeah, but instead of buying from small businesses, you choose to support large corporations! If you’re going to oppose capitalism you can’t give money to big corporations.”
“No, that is your belief, not mine. See, you believe that there is a difference between small capitalists and big capitalists, and supporting smaller ones is somehow ‘better’ than supporting big capitalists. Me, I hold no such beliefs. In my view, the Marxist view, a capitalist, big or small, is a capitalist.”
At this point the capitalist speaker usually ceases, as he/ she realizes in trying to catch a Marxist-Leninist in contradiction they are merely projecting their own notions onto the other person and creating straw-man arguments to avoid considering a political line alternative to their own.
Analysis of Boycotts and Fighting “Big” Corporations
A mom-and-pop store may not be Wal-Mart, but it has the potential to become one. Supporting the petty-bourgeoisie (small shopkeepers and landowners) is not preferable to supporting big bourgeoisie. Until the workers control the means of production, all basic commodities that a human being requires require on a day-to-day basis are manufactured by capitalists. Starvation does not make one more proletarian.
Communism deprives no man of the ability to appropriate the products of society; it simply deprives him of the ability to subjugate the labor of others. The solution to the corporate stranglehold on production is not a liberal/social-democratic style boycott, but rather to organize the workers to seize all productive facilities as part of a greater socialist revolution.
A Marxist-Leninist revolutionary is by nature not a commune-dwelling flower child who is in favor of Utopian or metaphysical ideals over facts. They are not anarchists or primitivists who believe that retrogression away from the modern technological marvels of this age is the solution to humanity’s problems. As such, they completely reject the concepts of “boycotting” and “lifestylism” as pointless and counterproductive. Even if the masses of people gave their patronage and money to the petty-bourgeois small business owner, they would only succeed in creating a new monopoly capitalist entity in the process.
The wealth of misconceptions about Marxist-Leninist ideology abounds, and therefore leads to a repetitive parade of opportunistic reactionaries searching for hypocrisy in deeds, trying to perhaps “expose” their target and discourage others from the path of Marxism. As always however, with political cadres active and ready to combat these tendencies, we will soon find that these arguments are nothing but feeble straw men.