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Landonism (also known as Marxism–Landonism) is the political theory and application of Marxism as articulated and advocated by Sierran revolutionary and Civil War leader Isaiah Clayton Landon. Landonism comprises socialist political, economic, and military theories, developed from the works of Karl Marx and Frederich Engels, as well as Isaiah Landon's own interpretation of Marxist works and his own theories regarding republicanism. It includes the practical praxis developed and implemented by Isaiah Landon during his presidency of the Second California Republic, a breakaway state in Northern Sierra during the Sierran Civil War that was governed under the guiding principles of Landonism.
Although the term "Landonism" was never used by Isaiah Landon himself or others during his lifetime, Landon's writings and life inspired other Marxist and Communist thinkers and revolutionaries, including Russian leader Vladimir Lenin. Landonism served as the precursory foundation for Continentalism and is classified within the Anglocommunist family of Marxist theories. Central to Landonism is the idea that a socialist revolution requires collective action and direction between workers, farmers, and laborers in order to achieve and sustain a transitory state from capitalism to communism. Landon argued that a special class of proletariat workers and political intellectuals, known as the vanguard class, would rise up to direct and lead the proletarian revolution, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Nonetheless, Landon stressed the importance of democracy and republicanism, which could both be realized and attainable through the cooperation and deliberation between labor unions, parties, and individuals within the framework of the state apparatus. In a class conscious society, the working class majority would work with the vanguard in preserving and defending the ideals of communism, whilst applying practical solutions to progress the state towards conditions that would render the state obsolete.
Landon argued reformist approaches within liberal democracies were tolerable to an extent, but viewed revolution, either through "ballot or bullet" was not only desirable, but inevitable, and thus emphasized the need for workers to achieve communism by "any means necessary in practicality". The vanguard of the socialist state would safeguard the interests of the working class and purge bourgeois elements from the state, while mobilizing reorganization efforts in the state to reach a state of communist statelessness and common ownership of production. Class struggle could be manifested through armed struggle, which according to Landon, requires coordination and organization under the leadership of the vanguard class. Landon advocated proletarian internationalism, and believed it was necessary to assist workers in other countries to achieve a workers' revolution. One major distinction between Orthodox Marxism and Landonism is the partial rejection of Marxist dialectics and views on dialectical materialism. Landonism interprets the world and class struggle from an Hegelian idealist viewpoint, in contrast to Marx's explicitly materialist and anti-idealist conception of the world. It contends that not all knowledge, ideas, and beliefs must necessarily be grounded in material, physical form, but hold that abstractions and principles can exist independently and reconstruct reality to an idealist standard.
After the defeat of the Republicans in the Civil War and Landon's death, Landonism was expanded upon by other followers. Landon's writings were incorporated into Leninism, which became the operating ideology of the Russian Bolsheviks between 1923 and 1924. It also influenced other Marxist variants, all of which claim derivation or inspiration from Landonism. Aspects of Landonism has also deeply influenced Sierran republicanism, and Landon holds a special status among cultural republicans as their leading thinker. Anglo-American Continentalism, particularly the strain found in the United Commonwealth, was inspired by Landonism, and became the leading state ideology of the nation following the rise of the Continentalists during the Continental Revolutionary War.
In 1848, The Communist Manifesto by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, was published. The book framed the history of mankind as a history of class struggle and called for an international movement uniting the world's working class that would launch a communist revolution to overthrow bourgeois capitalism. Marx and Engels wrote that communism would inevitably supersede capitalism, but first required a transitionary stage where a state controlled by the workers (a dictatorship of proletariat) would control and direct the capitalist mode of production. The ultimate goal and culmination of workers' struggle would end in a stateless, classless society where all people would have common ownership of the means of production.
For the first two decades, Marx and Engel's writings were largely obscure and unknown outside the intellectual and political circles of Continental Europe and Great Britain. While Marx and Engels became involved in socialist organizations and activities, his work was on the verge of de-circulation by the 1860s. The Communist Manifesto did not reach Anglo-America until 1868, when it was first serialized in American newsletter, The Old Glory. Isaiah Landon himself did not begin reading the book or Marx's other writings until 1871 as he began penning his own writings critiquing monarchism, Jacobitism, and industrial capitalism.
Landon, a native of South Carolina, traveled to Sierra, then known as California, during the initial offset of the California Gold Rush. He and his lover, Martha Rita Cunningham, arrived to San Francisco City penniless from the financial cost of their journey, and were thrown into debtor's prison when they were unable to pay for their traveling fees. After spending four months in jail, Landon and Cunningham were released from their imprisonment. They became acquainted with the Benevolent Association of Freemen (later known as the Bay Area Republicans), a friendly society of syndicalists, utopian socialists, and anarchists. Their views helped formulate Landon's own political thought. After Landon spent a few years working as a small newspaper publisher, he and his fiancé Cunningham purchased land outside Bernheim and founded Grace Colony, an experimental commune that had a peak population of 67.
At Grace Colony, Landon started publication of The Liberty Press with the financial backing of his supporters and sympathetic patrons. The paper became an immediate success and gained significant readership in the Styxie. Landon's own personal experiences managing Grace Colony were documented in the newspaper and formed the basis of Landon's emerging views that would later serve as the foundation for Landonism. The term "Landonite" was first used by The Bernheim Defender, a newspaper that was critical of Landon and his followers, which described them as "drunkard, faux-philosophers" and "illiterate, algerine hobbledehoys" for their radical views.
Landon's publications sympathized with the working class and farm-based workers. The Liberty Press attacked large businesses, entrepreneurs, factory owners, and railroad magnates. He raised objections to the Californian government's mishandling of its tax-derived revenue and its struggles with corruption. Landon's popularity became far-reaching throughout California that he was nominated as a candidate for the California Constitutional Convention of 1857. He was denied a seat in the Convention, but he was able to participate indirectly through his communications with the Convention's republican faction. Landon also continued his publication by offering commentary to the day-to-day developments and drafts of the Convention in Sacramento. He was deeply critical of the surprising support for monarchism in the Convention, and took a hardline republican stance.
Following the ratification of the 1858 Constitution and the subsequent formation of the Kingdom of Sierra, Landon joined the Democratic-Republican Party of Sierra in curtailing the powers and role of the monarchy immediately. Although his economic theories were not widely accepted by the party establishment, he was a populist figure who earned the respect among working-class citizens. He oversaw the creation of the Order of Farming Countrymen and the Brotherhood of Railroad Workers. His socialist ideas remained in their developmental, nebulous form at the time and were therefore ignored by most labor unions and guilds. Landon shifted most of his energy and attention towards republicanism rather than socialism during the early years of Sierra, but continued formulating his own thoughts on Marxism in private and through written publications on The Liberty Press.
In 1874, Ulysses Perry, the third prime minister of Sierra and a close friend of Landon, was assassinated. The assassination was widely believed to be politically-motivated due to the circumstantial evidence around Perry's death. Landon was motivated to take action to avenge Perry's death and began conspiring to wage a rebellion against the monarchist government. He envisioned uniting republican clubs and unions under a united front which would take up arms and overthrow the Sierran government. Since Sierra had moved its capital from San Francisco City to Porciúncula, Landon later decided to merely take over the city and the rest of the Styxie, and secede from the Kingdom to form a breakaway socialist state.
Landonism was formulated during and after the life of Isaiah Landon. He initially began work during the 1850s and 1860s by focusing on republicanism, before he shifted his attention towards class relations, economics, and Marxism. Landon believed in the efficacy and importance of democracy and sought to reconcile it within a liberal democratic society. He argued that republicanism must be the first step towards socialism in a society controlled by a monarchy, autocracy, or plutocracy. He defended Karl Marx's dialectical materialism and historiography.
Ballot or bullet
Although Sierra was a monarchy, it like other Anglo-American countries, was a liberal democracy which elected its officials and enacted laws based on democratically-based elections and constitutional safeguards. Landon said that reformism as advocated by gradualist socialists was possible under bourgeoisie-controlled democracies, but warned against "blind trust" towards the institution in its entirety. He reasoned that liberal democracies were a creation of the bourgeois class and therefore, it would be predisposed to maintain the bourgeois in power unless the working-class proletariat had accumulated enough power to constitute an electoral majority or supermajority over them. Although Landon agreed with most points of Marx's historical materialism, he believed that the transition between the capitalist mode of production and the lower-stage production of socialism did not necessarily demand a violent revolution. Landon did not discount the possibility that a revolution could be achieved through peaceful political processes within existing capitalist societies. He believed that capitalism, through its contradictions, would eventually reach to a point of obsoleteness and its function would be discharged through a variety of possibilities. In the face of these multiple paths in history, Landon argued that socialism could be achieved by "ballot or bullet", meaning reform and revolution were both equally valid prima facie means to advancing towards the next mode of production.
Landon viewed reformism within capitalist societies as a viable strategy for bringing about socialism and communism. He welcomed "all forms of liberation no matter how minute" so long as it helped society progress towards a socialist future. However, Landon argued that reforms must be made done to bring about meaningful and purposeful change that challenged capitalist rule. To Landon, the purpose of reform was to "hasten the revolution" and was merely a means to arrive towards a potentially peaceful transition, as opposed to a violent revolution. He warned that reform for the sake of remedying the blights of capitalism without communist transformation as the end goal was doomed. He echoed Marx's concern that reforms such as wage raises or worker's protections could lead working-class individuals away from revolution and embrace change from within capitalist society. In his 1883 work, he wrote using a ladder analogy,
The working man cannot bring himself to salvation by climbing the ladder which was set forth by the capitalists. He must instead take it upon himself that the ladder he climbs is propped in his accordance. If he is to ascend the capitalist ladder, it must be so that he may reach the neighboring ladder of socialism.—Isaiah Landon, Disputations on Anarchism, Democracy, and Trade Unionism
He reasoned as long as the capitalists retained control over the overarching power structure, any reform would be at-risk of manipulation, exploitation, subversion, or undoing so all attempts to change must be singularly-minded and purposed towards the eventual victory of communism.
He supported civil disobedience, protests, organized labor strikes, and other forms of popular discontent to bring forth change and attention to the struggles and grievances of the working class. Landon acknowledged that such actions may welcome resistance and violence by the bourgeoisie state but argued that any attention drawn to such events would be "propaganda for the masses" and would fall in the realm between the "ballot or bullet" mantra. Landon argued that protests and strikes were an intermediary form between peaceful political participation in a liberal democracy and outright political revolution against the same society.
Landon emphasized the need to preserve and protect democracy under a socialist society. He believed the working-class would be capable of formulating their own policies and decisions as a collective polity in a democratic framework. Landon stated that the goal of socialism is to democratize the workforce, labor, and government so that the proletariat can fully control and dictate the progression towards the socialist and communist modes of production. Landon stated if the goal was to eliminate the classes, the working class was the only class capable of bringing forth this reality and therefore, must be the only class to have the discretionary power and participatory means to represent the voting polity. He believed that in a society transitioning out of capitalism would still bear vestiges of capitalist elements and therefore, every effort must be made to prevent a reactionary reversal. He proposed that the old bourgeois class and its elements should be excluded from participating at first and undergo rehabilitation before they could be reintegrated into society.
He argued that active participation by the people and the workers in self-management of the economy as essential to the survival of both democracy and socialism. He proposed a number of criteria for a functioning democracy including: that the people have full autonomy and agency to make their own decisions regarding the state and the economy, that the people have equal and full opportunity to make their decisions heard, and that the people alone were allowed to decide what should be decided on and how.
Landon believed that socialism could not effectively survive without democracy and warned any long-lasting trend towards authoritarianism risked inadvertently creating a "neo-bourgeoisie" where the state would own the means of production but restrict its control and ownership to a new ruling class. Landon believed that this tendency towards authoritarianism could be remediated if democracy was allowed to flourish under the protection of a leadership class of revolutionary intellectuals who would be singularly-minded towards safeguarding the principles, values, and goals of the working class as a whole. He referred to this class as the "vanguard" and deemed it as a compatible match for a democratic socialist society.
Dictatorship of the proletariat
Landon agreed with Marx that the ultimate goal and final stage of human development was communism where society is stateless and classless. He believed that before the withering of the state can be achieved, the Marxian concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat must occur following a revolution or peaceful rise of the working class. According to Landon, the dictatorship of the proletariat was a political system where the working class controlled and dictated the democratic and civic processes of society. He proposed a state controlled by the workers which would enforce the principles and goals of socialism to prevent the resurgence of reactionaries and class subversives. Landon stated that the dictatorship of the proletariat did not necessarily imply the state needed to become authoritarian. Landon stated that "on the contrary, it is precisely within the term itself that a dictatorship of the proletariat must expand democracy by encompassing the entire working class whereby the proletariat exercises a government of, for, and by itself and it alone." According to Landon, to the outside observer, a dictatorship of the proletariat may appear authoritarian if it concentrated power into a vanguard class. However, he reasoned if such system functions in harmony with the interests and voice of the proletariat, then it is a legitimate worker's state. He likened this relationship within the dictatorship of the proletariat between the vanguard and the rest of the proletariat body to a human body:
The vanguard exists solely by derivative function from popular support for it must be held accountable by the proletariat. It shall therefore immediately and certainly cede its own existence if it shall no longer serve the proletariat. A man's head cannot live if his body turns against himself to strangle him.—Isaiah Landon, Society and Statelessness
At every level of society, including the workplace and in local communities, the dictatorship of proletariat would exist. A socialist society would be able to achieve its goals from a bottom-to-top approach and be able to organize itself organically into a worker's state. Each level would function as the foundation for the higher level of organization, leading up to the national state, controlled by the vanguard. A true vanguard would, according to Landon, be indistinguishable from a worker at the lowest level except by responsibility, rather than by status, material worth, wealth, prestige, or class. Worker participation in labor, production, and politics were essential to ensuring that the working class would be able to harmonize and unify their collective political and economic needs. Landon believed that this "expression of organic unity" at every level of the worker's state was the dictatorship of the proletariat made manifest. Workplace democracy, worker collective ownerships, and collective action were to be expanded to all aspects and areas of the state apparatus to ensure that the proletariat was in continuous control and command of the state and economy.
Landon advocated for a world revolution and agreed with Marx and Engels that the working classes shared more commonalities through class, rather than by nationality or race. He believed that the principle of "ballot or bullet" could be applied at a global scale where he acknowledged each country were to undergo their own unique transition towards eventual communism through reformism or revolution. He held that workers should remained principally focused on their own domestic struggles but be secondarily prepared to assist and advance political change in other countries. He cautioned however, that certain societies may have cultural barriers or "tribalist feelings" that may temporarily prevent the development of class consciousness, and warned of the potential for interethnic conflict. He suggested that in a socialist society, some form of segregation may be needed at first before reconciliation could be achieved between the historically antagonized groups.
The hatred of another man on account of his race is a detestable sin...the racial and cultural differences of groups may be greater to bear however and distract the proletariat from their common goal. Man is all the same but the stain of race is immutable. It does become a necessary thing that for an appointed time, segregation of the races underneath the common dictatorship of proletariat may be placed so that harmony can be achieved in time and all barriers destroyed.—Isaiah Landon, Anglo-American Application of Karl Marx
Although Landon developed much of his political theory on the works of Karl Marx and Frederich Engels, Landon developed independent analysis on the basis of his faith and as a devout Christian from within the Restoration Movement pushed him into a less orthodox understanding of Marx. Landon disagreed with Marx's opposition to Hegel and the Hegelian articulation of idealism, known as absolute idealism. Landon reaffirmed throughout his lifetime that Jesus Christ was not an abstraction but a concrete god, believing Christ to be both divine and human, and declared that the Hegelian idealism which Marx rejected was not incompatible with Marxist economics. Landon's disagreement with Marxist dialectics and philosophy is the most significant deviation within Landonism and has been described as "partial immaterialism".
While Landon defended most of Marx's teachings regarding dialectical materialism, Landon had a major point of contention with Marx's critique of religion and rejection of the mental world. Since Orthodox Marxism is constructed on the premise of ontological materialism, it focuses on material production and economic activity, which is a premise which Landon, and consequently, Landonism has sometimes stood at odds with communists who have historically demanded the implementation of state atheism. Landon stated that:
While we must place emphasis on the destruction of the capitalist mode of production and the liberation of the working class, the denouncement of any mental construct is unreasonable. Although Marx's dialectical materialism applies to our earthy existence and the laws of nature—it does not apply to the wonders and mysteries of God the immaterial.——Isaiah Landon, Society and Statelessness
Landon condemned the institution of organized religion as a tool against the working class, stating that its position as a source of charity provided capital the opportunity to dismiss their ongoing warfare on labor. In several of his writings, Landon quotes various Biblical verses as a testimony to the immorality of labor exploitation and wage theft. Among his most favored readings included James, which called upon the end the oppression of the poor. In Society and Statelessness Landon declared that the unnatural wickedness of capitalism would defile an individuals soul, condemning its followers to a "damned existence of eternal suffering within the crucible of Hades."
Landonism after Landon
Many Sierran republicans fled to Brazoria after the civil war had ended along with Brazorian citizens that volunteered and fought for the republicans. They brought their ideals back home to them and created the Brazorian Workers' Party in 1881 to oppose the Crown of the Brazos Movement that sought to establish a monarchy in the country. The Workers' Party faced heavy opposition due to its support for Landonism, an ideology that the Brazorian government had opposed, but the party would enter into politics by the 20th century. Today Landonism remains active in Brazoria and makes up a significant faction in the Democratic Socialist Party.
In 1898 the Tondolese Workers' Party was founded and became the country's first communist party with the doctrine of Landonism making up its core platform. The party was banned in 1902 after the Sierran East Indies were established, but waged an underground war of resistance against the Sierrans and later the Japanese during the First Great War (GWI). After the war, the Tondolese Worker's Party was disbanded. In the 1960s, the Communist Party of Tondo was founded, with its armed wing the New People's Army waging an guerilla war until the mid-1990s. In 1995, the party was reorganized into the Socialist Party of Tondo and currently forms a coalition government with the left-wing People's Democratic Party.
Landonism made its way to the United Commonwealth by the late 19th and early 20th centuries and would inspire the future founders and leaders of the Continentalist Party who forged their platform and ideology based around the teachings of Isaiah Landon. During the Continental Revolutionary War, many Continentalist units had banners, uniforms and symbols inspired by the Bear Flaggers and other Civil War-era republican forces commanded by Landon. His philosophies helped influence the party's doctrine and their foreign policy and diplomatic conduct throughout most of the 20th century and served as the leading state ideology of the commonwealth until the 1970s when it faced opposition during the "Liberal Troubles" period. In the contemporary era, Landonism still influences both the nation and the Continentalist Party with the latter still being the dominant party in the nation.