The Revolutionary Communist Party has decreed on a "matter of basic orientation." The unsigned author(s) don't mention the object of their scorn by name, but they call the Nine Letters to Our Comrades nothing but "completely dishonest and unprincipled attacks, including crude distortions of our views, aims, and methods." The distortions and purported lies are not discussed, noted in particular or corrected. Off limits and not up for consideration. Decided. Think about that. Read the Nine Letters, then the RCP's initial public response and hear the elastic snap.
Nor is any shadow of a doubt left up to wonder about the motives of Mike Ely or the other comrades involved, myself included:
...there are some people who have sunk to the point where they can do
nothing more than act as “parasitic critics” in relation to our
revolutionary role and work—having themselves nothing positive to offer
in terms of achieving a radical alternative to the monstrous system we
live under, having no defining or unifying mission other than seeking
to sabotage our efforts to bring such a radical alternative into being.
Peculiar, considering the sharp use of weasel words, is the total refusal to even say what this is all about. As if saying the words gave them power, which is dialectically speaking, exactly what silence does. It imparts fear and wonder when you can regulate what can and can't be said. Which you can't, by the way, beyond those who will put up with it in demonstration of their fealty to the mantle of revolution, rhetorically claimed.
Anyway, Bob, I'll see your reality and raise you a check. Lyrics on the link.
Mike Ely, a life-long communist and former editor of the RCP's press, has released a major polemic on Avakian's supposed "New Synthesis" and the failures of the RCP to become a leading party of revolution in the USA. I'll hold off on my own commentary by way of introduction... but discussion has already taken off on Ely's new Kasama website. For anyone working to build a revolutionary movement in the United States, this is among the most thoughtful, engaged analyses you will find on such efforts over the last few decades. It is no "so long to all that" – rather, it is a call to begin the "audacious task".
The following polemic was passed on to me recently by a sometimes contributor to this blog and veteran of the North American anti-imperialist and communist movements. Included are an abridged version of a recent report from the Communist Party of Iran (MLM) and a critical response. They raise the important question of what are the tasks of Iranian communists in the event of a US invasion and occupation of Iran. The CPI(MLM) argues that the "primary contradiction" and focus of struggle must be with the reactionary Islamic Republic, the critical response argues that it should be with US imperialism.
The implications of the discussion are all around us.
Labor Day in my neck of the woods is the biggest carnival in America. About a million people have gathered in Central Brooklyn for the West Indian Day Parade, known to West Indians as the Labor Day Parade. This year, it's the only one NYC gets because the Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO has canceled the usual flag-waving exercise for the first time in a century (from what I heard). So... it's worth remembering today that "labor", conceived of and enforced as the skilled, pensioned and professionalized workers of the core industries is just one section of the international working class. Our struggle is a freedom struggle, as sloppy and hopeful as that's bound to be. Today is carnival in Brooklyn, May Day is our international workers day. Video by Rebel Diaz.
The problem, as I see it, comes down to reality.
Progressives believe in it, Bush’s people believe in creating it. The
left and right have switched roles – the right taking on the mantle of
radicalism and progressives waving the flag of conservatism. The
political progeny of the protestors who proclaimed, “Take your desires
for reality” in May of 1968, were now counseling the reversal: take
reality for your desires. Republicans were the ones proclaiming, “I
have a dream.”
I have to say I know what he's talking about. From defending the evaporating, fetid gains of the welfare state or the ongoing acceptance by people who should know better of the Clintonian urge to do the Bushie thing right, large sectors of the "left" have become more conservative than those they ostensibly oppose. The fault of this, if where it lies is so simple, may reside less in a lack of the urge to dream than in the inculcated, now naturalized habits of American anti-communism – those who refuse to even say the world socialism shouldn't be shocked when the movements they lead and participate in settle for a refracted politics of fear and permanent, if glorious, resistance. After all, isn't "yelling from the mountaintop" just another word for vanguardism? Or, is it only a dread vanguard when there's the expectation that people will listen, be transformed and themselves take responsibility for others?
I only ask these questions because it seems like the stalemate in the movement of movements has settled into a discomforting middle age. One quick note: Turbulence makes it's entire issues immediately available as a PDF. In other words, they write so that people read! Here's to hoping more publications see the wisdom in this. Click on the cover to get the entire issue as a PDF formatted for letter-size paper.
This dramatic reading of Paul Potter's rightly famous speech is part of a wonderful series of public performances called the Port Huron Project re-enacting the signal flares of the American New Left. It's striking how contemporary they sound, and why, really, 1968 neither failed nor won. It is in more ways than one would wish the terrain of the battle we are still fighting. It's easier than you think to engage in free speech. You just have to do it. Read an interview with project creator Mark Tribe.
Participants in the CCOMPOSA political association of South Asian Maoists, the Communist Party of Bhutan (MLM) have openly declared the imminent launch of insurgency with the immediate goal of abolishing the monarchy and the establishment of a republic. I am not familiar with the author of this article, nor much beyond superficialities regarding life in Bhutan. This article is posted because it is so far unique, and that it appears to confirm the prognosis that South Asia is indeed becoming a storm center of world revolution. [Kantipur is not a Maoist publication. All links are provided for informational purposes.]
Another Maoist insurgency is going to rock yet another country in South Asia, if the statements made by the leaders of the Communist Party of Bhutan Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (CPM MLM) are anything to go by.
"Preliminary preparations for an insurgency are over. We are going to launch it soon," says Vikalpa, nom-de-plume of CPB MLM General Secretary. Bhutan is holding its parliamentary elections in March and April 2007. But, prior to the election date, CPB MLM plans to launch its 'People's War' in the Himalayan kingdom.
The goal: Abolition of monarchy and establishment of a republic.
The following is an open letter from Prof. Bill Martin, a tenured professor of philosophy at DePaul University, site of the recent fight over Norman Finkelstein's tenure and the very ability of intellectuals to engage in work that runs counter to the dominant politic.
"Two things that are very simple to understand need to be said up front.
First, you cannot deny tenure to a professor because she or he takes a
political stand that you do not like, agree with, or that is going to
incur the disapprobation and wrath of some group. Yes, frankly, I think
a professor who is an outright racist or misogynist or anti-gay bigot
ought to be removed from the university (though even here there have to
be procedures, and judgments cannot be based on whims, innuendo, or the
self-promoting agendas of powerful persons or groups), but that is not
what is going on here. Second, you cannot deny tenure to a professor
simply for a rhetorical style that you do not like. A person cannot be
denied tenure simply because you find his or her rhetoric 'inflammatory.'”
By Martin Travers artist living in Holland, and creator of the original image
I am a firm believer in the right to self determination of all peoples all over this wonderful world we all inhabit. To stand by the right to that self determination by Palestinian people or any other people is by no means supporting terrorism or senseless violence or racism, to say that is in itself an injustice. My painting which was recreated on the mural in question is about that right, breaking through the wall that separates the Israelis from Palestinians and the Palestinians from each other is symbolic of the breaking of the walls that fence in the marginalised and the “unwanted” people everywhere because to see them is to be reminded of where and how Europe, north America and Israel got its wealth.
Okay, so I confess that as a New Yorker, the fact that "Burningman" was an over-priced participatory arts orgy in the Nevada desert didn't quite register with my hard head. Every year, around this time, I get a surge of traffic from folks looking for information or reports on the Burningman festival. Haha! Bet you didn't see this one coming! I was just a man on fire... Adopting the Burningman pen name was only a play on the translation of my family name. In any case, I thought I'd post a link for ya'll burners to a scientific essay about the art of revolution. What does that mean?
[The text below is from the Maoist Information Bulletin,
produced by the CPN(M), Central Committee. The
CPN(M) is listed as a "terrorist" organization by the U.S. State
Department, American citizens should be advised.redFlagsprovides this link for informational purposes. On the link, there is also the entire text of a recent interview between Prachanda and Kantipur Online]
"On several occasions we have brought out our assessment that the
domestic situation in Nepal is favorable and ripe to capture central
state power in the near future, but as all the genuine communist
parties engaged in revolutionary practice know, the international
situation is quite unfavorable to accomplish new democratic revolution
and sustain it. It is obvious that we should try to mobilize
justice-loving people all over the world in general and the peoples of
south Asia in particular to garner support in favor of revolution,
improving on the domestic situation in the same spirit. For this we
should dare to abandon the course once selected and have the courage to
climb the unexplored mountain."
resignation of Debbie Almontaser as principal of the proposed Arab
language school in Brooklyn has caused a great deal of controversy. The
DOE replaced her with Danielle Salzberg. There's so
much stuff flying it is hard to keep track of it all. An interesting
interview by Amy Goodman posted on Democracy Now can be found here. Also this piece written by Almontaser, not long after 9/11.
By Steve Quester
UFT chapter leader
P.S. 372/418K The Children’s School from Education Notes Online
veteran Latina educator, with a years-long record of service supporting
Latino/a youth and building bridges between Latino/a and non-Latino/a
communities, is slated to be principal of a new middle school with a
focus on Hispano-Caribbean studies and Spanish language. She endures
months of vitriolic attacks from right-wing hate websites and blogs,
and from the Murdoch news organizations. Finally, the Murdoch media
uncover that she’s on the board of an organization that shares an
office with a Latina girls’ empowerment organization. The organization
has produced a T-shirt with the image of Che Guevara and the words
“Hasta la victoria siempre.” The Murdoch media point out (rightly) that
the “victoria” to which Che referred was the violent overthrow of all
capitalist governments, including the U.S. The media demand that the
educator condemn the T-shirt, but instead she says that the girls’
intention was to point to the victory of tolerance and coexistence over
anti-Latino/a bias in New York. The media howl. The educator quickly
apologizes, admitting that she did not take into account the effect
that the image of Che has on Cuban-American refugees of Castro’s
After the apology, the United Federation of Teachers president [hypotheticallyRandi Weingarten —JB], who had been
supportive of the new middle school and its principal, is quoted
condemning the educator’s initial defense of the T-shirt...
Chavez, President of Venezuela, recently announced the arrival of XXIst
Century Socialism. This declaration, although greeted with great
enthusiasm, left a residue of confusion. Since Chavez didn't discuss
XXIst Century Socialism during his recent Presidential campaign, and
since there are virtually no public theoretical documents defining this
new Socialist era, its precise features are not always clear.
Chavez has appointed a committee, well stocked with international
supporters, to come up with appropriate explanatory documents. In the
meantime, we can best understand the contours of XXIst Century
Socialism by examining it as it actually functions in the real world.
Practice is the true test of theory; after several years of Chavez's
leadership, we can readily detect the broad outlines of this innovative
There appear to be several critical new features of
the new XXIst Century Socialist breakthrough. We will review some of
the most important:
First of all, XXIst Century Socialism does
not require a revolution. This comes as a great relief to Socialists
around the world, and will surely encourage many new Socialists to step
Here's what I
want to understand more deeply: this question of the "everyday" – the place,
importance, meaning and political relevance of that “everyday” locus of
human existence. What emerges from that vantage point for viewing and
evaluating human existence? How important is specificity and how do
we know that importance?
during the civil rights struggle when white racists insisted that
“outsiders” didn’t “understand” Mississippi, and had no right to
denounce its long evolved local “ways.” Their slogan was seen on
handcrafted signs as marchers came. “We live here, you suck,” one read.
“States rights” after all defended jim crow (and before it slavery)
under the banner of local rights (and even “self-determination”!)
think it is the larger material coherence of society, that makes
politics possible. You don’t have to know all the many particularities
of each county or township, or else a Red Army couldn’t march through
on a Long March liberating people, or enter Tibet with profound
insights into the transformations needed there.
here: Some things can only be known well by direct experience. All
knowledge has its roots in experience (however removed the specific
practice and practitioners may be from those synthesizing that
knowledge). But intimate contact with everyday life (and
especially a close personal focus on the everyday in life) does not at
all automatically or directly breed insight to the problems and
solutions of that life.
This international declaration, signed by several significant international communist parties including the Communist Party of India (Maoist), was originally issued on May 1, 2007. I am here including it to give communists in the USA a sense of how some of these discussions are playing out... Unfortunately, there is no organized national grouping in the USA that currently sees the need to keep these in circulation.
We, the undersigned Marxist-Leninist, Mao
Zedong Thought and Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations,
hereby issue this declaration to reaffirm the significance and
relevance of the struggle against modern revisionism starting in 1956
in opposition to the revisionist content of the 20th Congress of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in February 1956 leading to
the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976 and
continuing after the bourgeoisie seized power in China in 1976. We do
so after one year of activities celebrating the 50th anniversary of the
anti-revisionist struggle and renewing our commitment to pursue this
It seemed only right that longtime civil rights veteran Grace Lee Boggs was asked to open up the 2nd annual national convention for the newly reformed
Students for a Democratic Society [SDS], which took place in Detroit over this past weekend.
Grace Lee Boggs,
although rarely receiving the same kind of attention as some of her
male counterparts in the movement, is truly a living testament to what
a life-long commitment to revolutionary organizing looks like. Many of
the 150 students in attendance seemed aware that they were witnessing
something special, as they battled through some tough audio
difficulties to listen to Grace's talk.
Grace painted an eloquent historical backdrop for the convention, as she described the
rebellions that shook Detroit in the summer of 1967,
nearly 40 years ago to the day. She talked about how although the media
had called described the uprising as 'unruly riots', but that to many
militant black workers it signified the start of something much more
hopeful, "a time when anything seemed possible".