Rectification (pinyin Cheng Feng) in communist thought is to "make right" imaginary crimes of Western capitalists and beneficiaries of so-called "white privilege", to purge communist revolutionaries contaminated with individualism. Self-criticism and confession is forced either through torture or public shaming.
While rectified Marxist revolutionaries may be exiled or canceled as punishment, there may be hope for rehabilitation through re-education and brainwashing; counter-revolutionaries and non-co-conspirators in leftwing lawlessness are forced to confess, giving alleged legal justification for capital punishment or other extreme measures, including victimizing a non-communist or non-leftist's family, friends, and co-workers with the same rectification measures up to, and including, murder.
Rectification is aimed a purging society of dissenters of leftwing, communist, and establishing atheist totalitarian rule, purifying society for a future socialist order.
The Great Awokening
A Maoist rectification campaign erupted out of the Antifa riots. Whites were asked, if not demanded, to kneel and publicly disavow their white privilege. Calling police to report crimes or threats to life and safety was deemed "racist". The mayor of Minneapolis was shamed before a leftist mob of mostly white people for not agreeing to disband the Minneapolis police. A New York Times columnist urged white people to text “relatives and loved ones telling them you will not be visiting them or answering phone calls until they take significant action in supporting black lives either through protest or financial contributions.”
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees told an interviewer “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America.” Brees and his family received death threats. Brees publicly asked for "forgiveness" for saying Americans should respect the flag. Even Brees wife wrote an apology: “WE ARE THE PROBLEM. I write this with tears in my eyes and I hope you all hear our hearts.”
Aleksandar Katai, a Serbian soccer who played with the Los Angeles Galaxy, wife posted criticism of the Minneapolis rioters in Serbian. Someone noticed, translated the posting and criticized her. She deleted the posting. Katai's wife was in Chicago when she wrote the post, and Aleksandar may not have even been aware of the post. Riot protesters arrived at the Los Angeles stadium to call for Alexander's firing. The management of the L.A. Galaxy forced Alexander Katai to apologize for his wife, and then to denounce her. Then they made him endorse Black Lives Matter, which he did, and then they fired him anyway. Then Katai was attacked on his way out for something he didn't do, may not have even been aware of, in a language most Americans don't understand.
Editorial page director of the New York Times James Bennet apologized, and then resigned, after publishing an op-ed from Sen. Tom Cotton. The article suggested the U.S. military might be necessary to quell nationwide socialist insurrection if governors and mayors refused to defend the lives and property of American citizens and taxpayers.
Sacramento Kings play-by-play announcer Grant Napear resigned after the backlash from tweeting, “All lives matter.”
Roseanne Barr, a mere mortal was fired from ABC after apologizing for making what was alleged to be a racist comment; prominent leftist spokesperson and alleged comedian Jimmy Kimmel was retained by ABC after apologizing for a blatantly racist alleged comedy skit.
During the 2020 Leftist rectification campaign UCLA investigated a white professor who read Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, which reportedly contains the N-word, to students in a political science class. UCLA also held a town hall shaming and urged students to come forward with complaints. The department head and other faculty charged,
"The lecturer also showed a portion of a documentary which included graphic images and descriptions of lynching, with a narrator who quoted the n-word in explaining the history of lynching. Many students expressed distress and anger regarding the lecture and the lecturer's response to their concerns during the lecture. We share students' concerns that the lecturer did not simply pause and reassess their teaching pedagogy to meet the students' needs."
Investigative journalist Tracy Beanz published an anonymous letter from an African American collogue in the Department of History at Berkeley. Twitter initially censored the link which led Beanz to publish the letter on her website with the note, "It will be long....it is worth every moment of the read."
Dear profs X, Y, Z,
I am one of your colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley. I have met you both personally but do not know you closely, and am contacting you anonymously, with apologies. I am worried that writing this email publicly might lead to me losing my job, and likely all future jobs in my field.
In your recent departmental emails you mentioned our pledge to diversity, but I am increasingly alarmed by the absence of diversity of opinion on the topic of the recent protests and our community response to them. In the extended links and resources you provided, I could not find a single instance of substantial counter-argument or alternative narrative to explain the under-representation of black individuals in academia or their over-representation in the criminal justice system. The explanation provided in your documentation, to the near exclusion of all others, is univariate: the problems of the black community are caused by whites, or, when whites are not physically present, by the infiltration of white supremacy and white systemic racism into American brains, souls, and institutions.
Many cogent objections to this thesis have been raised by sober voices, including from within the black community itself, such as Thomas Sowell and Wilfred Reilly. These people are not racists or ‘Uncle Toms’. They are intelligent scholars who reject a narrative that strips black people of agency and systematically externalizes the problems of the black community onto outsiders. Their view is entirely absent from the departmental and UCB-wide communiques.
The claim that the difficulties that the black community faces are entirely causally explained by exogenous factors in the form of white systemic racism, white supremacy, and other forms of white discrimination remains a problematic hypothesis that should be vigorously challenged by historians. Instead, it is being treated as an axiomatic and actionable truth without serious consideration of its profound flaws, or its worrying implication of total black impotence. This hypothesis is transforming our institution and our culture, without any space for dissent outside of a tightly policed, narrow discourse.
A counter-narrative exists. If you have time, please consider examining some of the documents I attach at the end of this email. Overwhelmingly, the reasoning provided by BLM and allies is either primarily anecdotal (as in the case with the bulk of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ undeniably moving article) or it is transparently motivated. As an example of the latter problem, consider the proportion of black incarcerated Americans. This proportion is often used to characterize the criminal justice system as anti-black. However, if we use the precise same methodology, we would have to conclude that the criminal justice system is even more anti-male than it is anti-black.
Would we characterize criminal justice as a systemically misandrist conspiracy against innocent American men? I hope you see that this type of reasoning is flawed, and requires a significant suspension of our rational faculties. Black people are not incarcerated at higher rates than their involvement in violent crime would predict. This fact has been demonstrated multiple times across multiple jurisdictions in multiple countries. And yet, I see my department uncritically reproducing a narrative that diminishes black agency in favor of a white-centric explanation that appeals to the department’s apparent desire to shoulder the ‘white man’s burden’ and to promote a narrative of white guilt.
If we claim that the criminal justice system is white-supremacist, why is it that Asian Americans, Indian Americans, and Nigerian Americans are incarcerated at vastly lower rates than white Americans? This is a funny sort of white supremacy. Even Jewish Americans are incarcerated less than gentile whites. I think it’s fair to say that your average white supremacist disapproves of Jews. And yet, these alleged white supremacists incarcerate gentiles at vastly higher rates than Jews.
None of this is addressed in your literature. None of this is explained, beyond hand-waving and ad hominems. “Those are racist dogwhistles”. “The model minority myth is white supremacist”. “Only fascists talk about black-on-black crime”, ad nauseam. These types of statements do not amount to counterarguments: they are simply arbitrary offensive classifications, intended to silence and oppress discourse. Any serious historian will recognize these for the silencing orthodoxy tactics they are, common to suppressive regimes, doctrines, and religions throughout time and space. They are intended to crush real diversity and permanently exile the culture of robust criticism from our department.
Increasingly, we are being called upon to comply and subscribe to BLM’s problematic view of history, and the department is being presented as unified on the matter. In particular, ethnic minorities are being aggressively marshaled into a single position. Any apparent unity is surely a function of the fact that dissent could almost certainly lead to expulsion or cancellation for those of us in a precarious position, which is no small number.
I personally don’t dare speak out against the BLM narrative, and with this barrage of alleged unity being mass-produced by the administration, tenured professoriat, the UC administration, corporate America, and the media, the punishment for dissent is a clear danger at a time of widespread economic vulnerability. I am certain that if my name were attached to this email, I would lose my job and all future jobs, even though I believe in and can justify every word I type.
The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people. There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution.
Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is. No discussion is permitted for non-black victims of black violence, who proportionally outnumber black victims of non-black violence. This is especially bitter in the Bay Area, where Asian victimization by black assailants has reached epidemic proportions, to the point that the SF police chief has advised Asians to stop hanging good-luck charms on their doors, as this attracts the attention of (overwhelmingly black) home invaders. Home invaders like George Floyd.
For this actual, lived, physically experienced reality of violence in the USA, there are no marches, no tearful emails from departmental heads, no support from McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. For the History department, our silence is not a mere abrogation of our duty to shed light on the truth: it is a rejection of it.
The claim that black interracial violence is the product of redlining, slavery, and other injustices is a largely historical claim. It is for historians, therefore, to explain why Japanese internment or the massacre of European Jewry hasn’t led to equivalent rates of dysfunction and low SES performance among Japanese and Jewish Americans respectively. Arab Americans have been viciously demonized since 9/11, as have Chinese Americans more recently. However, both groups outperform white Americans on nearly all SES indices – as do Nigerian Americans, who incidentally have black skin. It is for historians to point out and discuss these anomalies. However, no real discussion is possible in the current climate at our department. The explanation is provided to us, disagreement with it is racist, and the job of historians is to further explore additional ways in which the explanation is additionally correct. This is a mockery of the historical profession.
Most troublingly, our department appears to have been entirely captured by the interests of the Democratic National Convention, and the Democratic Party more broadly. To explain what I mean, consider what happens if you choose to donate to Black Lives Matter, an organization UCB History has explicitly promoted in its recent mailers. All donations to the official BLM website are immediately redirected to ActBlue Charities, an organization primarily concerned with bankrolling election campaigns for Democrat candidates. Donating to BLM today is to indirectly donate to Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. This is grotesque given the fact that the American cities with the worst rates of black-on-black violence and police-on-black violence are overwhelmingly Democrat-run. Minneapolis itself has been entirely in the hands of Democrats for over five decades; the ‘systemic racism’ there was built by successive Democrat administrations.
The patronizing and condescending attitudes of Democrat leaders towards the black community, exemplified by nearly every Biden statement on the black race, all but guarantee a perpetual state of misery, resentment, poverty, and the attendant grievance politics which are simultaneously annihilating American political discourse and black lives. And yet, donating to BLM is bankrolling the election campaigns of men like Mayor Frey, who saw their cities devolve into violence. This is a grotesque capture of a good-faith movement for necessary police reform, and of our department, by a political party. Even worse, there are virtually no avenues for dissent in academic circles. I refuse to serve the Party, and so should you.
The total alliance of major corporations involved in human exploitation with BLM should be a warning flag to us, and yet this damning evidence goes unnoticed, purposefully ignored, or perversely celebrated. We are the useful idiots of the wealthiest classes, carrying water for Jeff Bezos and other actual, real, modern-day slavers. Starbucks, an organisation using literal black slaves in its coffee plantation suppliers, is in favor of BLM. Sony, an organisation using cobalt mined by yet more literal black slaves, many of whom are children, is in favor of BLM. And so, apparently, are we. The absence of counter-narrative enables this obscenity. Fiat lux, indeed.
There also exists a large constituency of what can only be called ‘race hustlers’: hucksters of all colors who benefit from stoking the fires of racial conflict to secure administrative jobs, charity management positions, academic jobs and advancement, or personal political entrepreneurship. Given the direction our history department appears to be taking far from any commitment to truth, we can regard ourselves as a formative training institution for this brand of snake-oil salespeople. Their activities are corrosive, demolishing any hope at harmonious racial coexistence in our nation and colonizing our political and institutional life. Many of their voices are unironically segregationist.
MLK would likely be called an Uncle Tom if he spoke on our campus today. We are training leaders who intend, explicitly, to destroy one of the only truly successful ethnically diverse societies in modern history. As the PRC, an ethnonationalist and aggressively racially chauvinist national polity with null immigration and no concept of jus solis increasingly presents itself as the global political alternative to the US, I ask you: Is this wise? Are we really doing the right thing?
As a final point, our university and department has made multiple statements celebrating and eulogizing George Floyd. Floyd was a multiple felon who once held a pregnant black woman at gunpoint. He broke into her home with a gang of men and pointed a gun at her pregnant stomach. He terrorized the women in his community. He sired and abandoned multiple children, playing no part in their support or upbringing, failing one of the most basic tests of decency for a human being. He was a drug-addict and sometime drug-dealer, a swindler who preyed upon his honest and hard-working neighbors. And yet, the regents of UC and the historians of the UCB History department are celebrating this violent criminal, elevating his name to virtual sainthood. A man who hurt women. A man who hurt black women. With the full collaboration of the UCB history department, corporate America, most mainstream media outlets, and some of the wealthiest and most privileged opinion-shaping elites of the USA, he has become a culture hero, buried in a golden casket, his (recognized) family showered with gifts and praise.
Americans are being socially pressured into kneeling for this violent, abusive misogynist. A generation of black men are being coerced into identifying with George Floyd, the absolute worst specimen of our race and species. I’m ashamed of my department. I would say that I’m ashamed of both of you, but perhaps you agree with me, and are simply afraid, as I am, of the backlash of speaking the truth. It’s hard to know what kneeling means, when you have to kneel to keep your job.
It shouldn’t affect the strength of my argument above, but for the record, I write as a person of color. My family have been personally victimized by men like Floyd. We are aware of the condescending depredations of the Democrat party against our race. The humiliating assumption that we are too stupid to do STEM, that we need special help and lower requirements to get ahead in life, is richly familiar to us. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to deal with open fascists, who at least would be straightforward in calling me a subhuman, and who are unlikely to share my race.
The ever-present soft bigotry of low expectations and the permanent claim that the solutions to the plight of my people rest exclusively on the goodwill of whites rather than on our own hard work is psychologically devastating. No other group in America is systematically demoralized in this way by its alleged allies. A whole generation of black children are being taught that only by begging and weeping and screaming will they get handouts from guilt-ridden whites.
No message will more surely devastate their futures, especially if whites run out of guilt, or indeed if America runs out of whites. If this had been done to Japanese Americans, or Jewish Americans, or Chinese Americans, then Chinatown and Japantown would surely be no different to the roughest parts of Baltimore and East St. Louis today. The History department of UCB is now an integral institutional promulgator of a destructive and denigrating fallacy about the black race.
I hope you appreciate the frustration behind this message. I do not support BLM. I do not support the Democrat grievance agenda and the Party’s uncontested capture of our department. I do not support the Party co-opting my race, as Biden recently did in his disturbing interview, claiming that voting Democrat and being black are isomorphic.I condemn the manner of George Floyd’s death and join you in calling for greater police accountability and police reform. However, I will not pretend that George Floyd was anything other than a violent misogynist, a brutal man who met a predictably brutal end. I also want to protect the practice of history. Cleo is no grovelling handmaiden to politicians and corporations. Like us, she is free.
Yan'an rectification movement
- See also: Chinese Communist Party
In northern Shaanxi Province, while sandwiched between the Japanese and the KMT, the CCP began the Yan’an Rectification Movement (qiangjiu) of mass cleansing, killing many people. More than 10,000 were killed in the "rectification" process, as the Party made efforts to attack intellectuals and replace the culture of the May Fourth Movement with that of Communist culture. This type of repetitive massacre on such a massive scale did not prevent the CCP from eventually expanding its power to rule all of China. The CCP expanded this pattern of internal rivalry and killing from the small Soviet areas to the whole nation. The Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party describes Yan'an rectification movement as,
|"the largest, darkest, and most ferocious power game ever played out in the human world. In the name of “cleansing petty bourgeoisie toxins,” the Party washed away morality, independence of thought, freedom of action, tolerance, and dignity....Humiliation became a fact of life in Yan’an—it was either humiliate other comrades or humiliate oneself. People were pushed to the brink of insanity, having been forced to abandon their dignity, sense of honor or shame, and love for one another to save their own lives and their own jobs. They ceased to express their own opinions and recited Party leaders’ articles instead."|
Mao developed the techniques of "thought reform" (literally "washing the brain" in Chinese). Mao's tactics often included isolating and attacking dissenting individuals in "study groups." These techniques of pressure, ostracism, and reintegration were particularly powerful in China, where the culture puts great value on "saving face", protecting one's innermost thinking, and above all, identifying with a group. Individuals put through thought reform later described it as excruciating. The resulting changes in views were not permanent, but the experience overall seriously affected the lives of those who went through it. The CCP has used these same types of techniques on millions of Chinese since 1949.
Van Jones on rectification
CNN analyst Van Jones was a founding organizer and leader of the communist revolutionary organization, Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM). The organization had its roots in a group protesting "U.S. Imperialism" during the Persian Gulf War of 1991. The leftist blog Machete 48 identifies STORM's influences as "third-worldist Marxism (and an often vulgar Maoism)."
STORM's own literature describes its "Maoist orientation" which conducted "a group reading of Mao's On Practice and On Contradiction." The group studied Lenin's theories of the state, revolution, the party, and "the political ideas of Mao Tse-tung." STORM's own history further states, "We also pushed at or went beyond the limits of the traditional Marxist canon, studying such topics as revolutionary feminism, the Palestinian liberation struggle, transgender liberation, methods of evaluation, self-care for cadre and revolutionary mass [community] organizing." STORM was extensively involved in the community organizing movement.
In Reclaiming Revolution, STORM editors discussed their self-critical evaluation of accusations other groups made  that STORM considered itself the revolutionary vanguard of Marxism. They write,
We did not understand clearly enough the distinction between cadre organization, revolutionary parties, revolutionary organization and vanguard organization.
STORM repented of this grievous Marxist error as a "lesson learned,"
We were a cadre organization that was working to build revolutionary mass organizations and to lay the groundwork for a future revolutionary party (or parties) by building a broad revolutionary internationalist trend.
STORM's error was not being clear to members that they were an "advance guard" organization, and not a "vanguard organization." Van Jones' comments give a rare insight into what Marxist organizers call "communist discipline" or "party discipline".
Jones wrote on his experience with Maoist rectification in Reclaiming Revolution:
We contrasted Alinsky organizing models, SNCC's grassroots model and Marxist-Leninist methods of mass work. We worked to develop a basic understanding of Marxist and Leninist histories, theories and politics. Members also worked to identify the features of the current historical period and discussed what it would take to build towards a revolutionary period.
Outside of the organization, a group of movement veterans, intrigued by STORM's interest in Marxist politics, organized a series of study groups. STORM members, along with other young leftists, thus got a chance to study Marx's critique of capitalism and revolutionary strategy together with trained communists.
This rectification was an important period in STORM's political development and consolidation. All of STORM's members developed a basic understanding of and commitment to revolutionary Marxist politics - with a particular emphasis on the historical experiences of Third World communist movements. Our understanding of these politics and histories, though still relatively crude, was extremely significant in the development of our work. For the first time, STORM had a shared ideological framework, giving us a common basis for developing our political analysis, our structure and our program.
During this time, we developed our analysis of and approach to the current historical period. We came to believe that the central role of revolutionaries today is to help build "resistance struggles" in oppressed communities around immediate reform issues and to use this resistance work to lay the groundwork for the development of a more clearly revolutionary struggle. We called this approach "Moving From Resistance to Revolution." See "STORM's Politics" for a more thorough discussion of these points.
Applying the Lessons of Rectification
We now believed that revolutionary Marxist politics would be central to the development of a successful liberation movement in this country. We also thought that we needed to build an organization that maintained its commitment to these politics.
But our new political commitment to Marxist-Leninist politics raised many questions about our structure and potential for relevance and growth. Most young activists around us - particularly women and people of color - were hostile to revolutionary Marxism. Would new members undermine our new political unity and commitment to red politics? Would there be political differences too large to resolve without divisive struggle and destructive arguments?
Looking around us, we didn't think it was possible to build an explicitly Marxist organization. And after the previous period of division and power struggles, it seemed risky to bring new people into our but recently - and delicately - cohered group.
To deal with these issues, STORM adopted a two-tiered membership structure with a leadership "Core" and a "General Membership." All Core Members had to be explicitly committed to revolutionary Marxist politics. General Members did not, although they could not be hostile to red politics either. Instead, General Members had only to support STORM's Points of Unity, which were not explicitly Marxist.
411: Political Education Committee
In 1998, STORM created 411. For the first time, STORM had a formal committee in charge of providing structured training for both the Core and the General Membership. 411 was also responsible for orienting new members. 411 was important in collectivizing STORM's commitment to Marxist politics.
411 facilitated political education trainings in every membership meeting. It also conducted bi-monthiy weekend "intensives." We began with Marxist "basics," laying a foundation on which to build an understanding of Third World communism. We studied philosophy, wage exploitation, capitalism, imperialism and globalization, Lenin's theories of the state, revolution and the party, and the political ideas of Mao Tse-tung and Antonio Gramsci.
Later sessions covered more "contemporary" issues, including Marxist feminism, transgender liberation, and the Palestinian liberation struggle. We continued to study the Marxist tradition, including dialectical materialism and member-initiated studies of Mao's "On Practice" and "On Contradiction". We also had skills trainings (e.g., revolutionary organizing, self-care for cadre, evaluation). Members were also expected to attend SOUL's Revolutionary Sunday Schools to study the history of Third World revolutions.
STORM's methodological approach to political education was distinct. To make the material more accessible to our members, 411 used interactive methods rather than traditional left study methods like reading and lecture.
In general, members had a low level of discipline with regards to political education. They often failed to read. Attendance at in-depth training sessions, held outside of meetings, was inconsistent. Members were busy in their mass work, leaving little time to schedule adequate training sessions.
We devoted what time we had to learning basic concepts. We rarely got beyond interactive, but often shallow, pedagogical methods and tools. As a result, members often developed only a crude understanding (sometimes not much deeper than a slogan) of complicated political ideas.411 designed these trainings and workshops as introductions to the basics of different political theories. But these introductory sessions were the only spaces within STORM for political discussion. This left more advanced members with virtually no organizational time or space for deeper, more nuanced study or discussion. It also left members with little opportunity to discuss the material's applicability to their mass work. This lack of deeper discussion became a problem for STORM's political development.
- Jaffe, Bisson, and Lattimore were all founding board members of the communist controlled Amerasia magazine.
- US Joint Publication research service. (1979). China Report: Political, Sociological and Military Affairs. Foreign Broadcast information Service. No ISBN digitized text March 5, 2007
- Twitchett, Denis and Fairbank, John K. The Cambridge history of China. ISBN 0-521-24336-X
- Borthwick, Mark. (1998). Pacific Century: The Emergence of Modern Pacific Asia. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3471-3
- Apter, David Ernest. (1994). Revolutionary Discourse in Mao's Republic. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-76780-2
- Revolutionaries in High Places- Van Jones, by adamfreedom March 23, 2009.
- Obama File 72 Obama Appoints "Former" Communist To White House "Green Job", Trevor Louden, April 06, 2009.
- Machete 48
- Reclaiming Revolution: history, summation & lessons from the work of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), Spring 2004, p. 23 pdf.
- Ibid, p. 25 pdf.
- Ibid, p.15 pdf.
- Ibid, p. 25 pdf.
- Ibid, pp. 8, 10, 15 pdf.
- Reclaiming Revolution, p. 10.
- Reclaiming Revolution, p. 40.
- Ibid. Also p. 42.
- Ibid, p. 33.
- "Rectification" is a term used in the communist tradition to describe an organizational effort to get back on track, to rectify past errors.