One of my closest comrades Steve Otto, expired 4 days ago, while sitting on the porch of his house. Some months ago, he lost his wife Cammy.He ran blogs ‘Ottos War Room’ and ‘Idiot Factor.’
I may not have personally met him but I don’t have words to express my sense of loss at his demise and my gratitude for his support to my work. A writer who dipped his pen for service of the oppressed peoples. Few have ever been so supportive to me, giving such a platform to project my view. Such figures create avenues for young writers to blossom in the revolutionary movement. In hardest times, he helped me stand afloat. I deeply admire how he supported my writings on Struggles in Punjab, Naxalbari,Maoism and progressive cultural activists, Hindi Film actresses and actors, philosophers. and Swimming.
Overall he was manifestation of the Marxist revolutionary as a spiritual being, revealing a subtle human touch. Steve portrayed why a Marxist or Maoist was creative. I recommend everyone to read his blogs. One of the most creative and broad minded comrades who rejected dogmatism of any type.
I was happy that in reactionary society like America. Many a follower backed the writing son his blogs, which inspired them. His language was plain, simple and readable. Very cogeally he illustrated why Marxism is still most relevant. In my view Ottos War Room is a most interesting Leftist blog with considerable diversity.
I regret his blog Ottos War Room was disallowed on facebook.
His blogs encompassed a wide range of subjects. Profusely he upheld all the worldwide revolutionary armed struggles be it in Phillipines,Peru or India.
What was remarkable was his diversity ad open mindedness inspite of being a Marxist-Maoist.
He gave considerable respect to New Left writers like Herbert Marcuse and views of the Frankfurt School and philosophers like Carl Rovelli who wrote on how physics and philosophy mutually needed one another. He also expressed admiration for philosophers like Joshua Moufawad Paul who wrote about the Continuity and rupture of Maoism. Steve also expressed admiration for Chinese philosophers like Lao Tzu.and other Taoists, projecting their similarity with Mao Zedong’s thoughts. Steve’s blog highlighted positive philosophers even of the Greek times.of Epicurean period.
He had respect for the positive aspects of religious philosophy be it Christianty or Islam. In his view there was no need to launch unscathing criticism on religion or religious people. Although supporting atheism he had respect for parts of Buddhism or even Hinduism.
He strived to unite different trends within the Communist or Maoist camp and at the very backbone confronted sectarianism or dogmatism .Although critical of Gonzolaite followers; he defended the contribution of Gonzalo to the Peoples War and the positive aspects of such organizations. Otto to the very skin challenged dogmas of Stalinism or Maoism. Steve placed Gonzalo and Joma Sison on the same footing and admired the C.P.I. (Maoist).Steve wholeheartedly defended the armed struggles of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and the Communist Party of Phillpines.His blog published progressive anti-imperialist statements of all the Maoist parties encompassing the world.
Otto permitted posting of a wide range of trends within the Indian Communist camp, from Maoist to those who advocated path of Socialist Revolution. He gave wide scope for debate on blog posting contending views within the Communist camp. A few years ago Otto posted a series of most fruitful debates within the International Marxist camp on aspects of whether Maoism was a rupture from Leninism, protracted peoples war was universal and on Leninist vanguard party. Otto was critical of the rebuking of the Gonzolaites by Joma Sison and vice-versa and also gave a broad perspective to events like the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Steve diligently defended the positive aspects of Maoist China be it the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution. He did not dogmatically uphold concept of party as vanguard, questioning its absolute legitimacy. Steve’s blog reproduced many a statement projecting progressive views of groups be it the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, Bob Avakian, International party of Kazakhtan, and Russian Maoist party. His writings held Cuba in the highest esteem. On a visit to Cuba he researched on why it was more democratic than any other nation today.
During Ukraine War with great consistency he projected the evil designs of NATO and America, but never condoned the invasion of Russia. He wrote tributes to Comrades like Chiang Ching in International Women’s day. Even if revoking Bob Avakian’s cult or departure from Marxism, he upheld his positive writings against the American govt,religious fundamentalism and Imperialist policies. Steve had a good word for even leaders like M.K. Gandhi, able to detect his positive features. Although critical of many of Gandhi’s practices collaborating with opressors,overall he felt he was good man. He also saw the positive side of comrades like Lin Biao,who were condemned by the CCP.
At the very core he illustrated he neo-fascist nature o America.Steve’s blog routinely threw light on the hypocritical cultural practices of America and the wretched living conditions of it’s people be it in housing, health, employment etc.His writings fully defended the anti-imperialist resistance of North Korea,the preacher of NATO count rise and America in the Ukraine War ,Iraq’s challenge to American hegemony in the War,and struggles of American immigrants. Steve’s best reports on America include on the sheer futility of the Scientists, Doctors and Experts in Florida during Covid crisis., US mercenaries in the Ukraine War ,hypocrisy of Kansas lawmakers refusing to enforce a ban on strips in controlling morality over saving lives, US Supreme Court Ruling which has protect not only abortion rights, but now gay marriage and other types of protections for transgender and gay people, US policy in Venezuela, insurance and business of fear, miserable housing condition sin Portland,Orgeon,the superficiality of Christmas patronising capitalism, Conservatives creating culture of gun worship and political murder ,anti-people aspect of Thanksgiving, the lies of the State on Veterans day .ISIS children languishing in American prisons.etc.
Afro-American activist Candice Yemaya thanks Steve Otto for nurturing her as a radical Communist Joni Taylor Gold can never forget how he worked jointly with Steve in humanitarian actions and projects. Son Etah Otto stated “He was a political activist with a big heart and keen sense of knowledge. He owned and operated his own newspaper in South Hutchinson, Kansas before writing numerous books, blogs and articles throughout his life. I’m proud of Steve Otto and I wish him well.”
Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist who has undertaken extensive research on Marxist writings and Writers