Rules of the road

Kasama

On the Shelf

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March 20, 2007

Comments

JB

11) Politics is not about issues, but power. We can "expose and resist" forever. Unless we're following the Sisyphus model of activism, we need to not just mobilize, but to lead.

12) Take unpopular positions (when they are true). Activists don't need to tell people what they already know but to challenge the unstated orthodoxies, ideological and practical, that keep us treading the same water.

13) Join a political party. Parties are what we are for, not just what we oppose. They are the means by which masses of people develop self-consciousness insofar as they really exist as parties. Without these organizations, all our "politics" are mere sentiment.

14) When you see a problem, fix it. The temptation to judge others by what they lack is strong and pervasive. If you are a part of a movement with a chronic problem, it's not enough to criticize it – engage and solve it. Meet the need instead of lamenting it.

15) Truth is not a personal property. Having a correct political line has literally nothing to do with "purity". At base, this is the difference between a religious and a scientific world outlook. Too much debate centers around "political identity politics" that assumes our identifications are how we define ourselves and what we can even think about doing. Avoiding debate and conflict over burning issues enshrines makes us contain ourselves.

16) Model the tactics and change you want to see. We can argue about parties and movements in the abstract, or we can "demonstrate" what we're about by doing it. If we learn anything from Huey Newton besides the morality tale (say no to cocaine culture!) – it's that the masses of people trust leaders who lead.

17) Vanguard is a beautiful word. We are the people we've been waiting for.

Black Jack

18) GET OFF THE INTERNET

Black Jack Johnson

19)Building the party is not in competition with building a movement. They feed each other.

Red Heretic

20) Update your blog burningman ;)

allthe way

21. "That demands leadership. And that is where Bob Avakian comes in... Here is a leader, one you urgently need to check out, engage with, and follow."

JB

22) The map is not the territory.

Updates coming today.

Red Heretic

ahem

AWIP

http://anotherworldispossible.info

Stalinist

http://news.socialistforum.net

Bobby

I think Red Flag vanished or something. Maybye his computer blew up.

ZACK

Damn. Get back here Jed!

Red Heretic

While people await the imminent return of our lord and savior, Jed, they can check out all of the cool shit on www.revmedia.net

RevolutionarySarcasm

23) Use up your time, enegery, and capital to spread millions of papers on the floors of city trains. There is nothing more urgent at the moment!

The movement is nothing, this special edition of Revolution is everything!

leftclick

In response to #23:
http://www.policyalmanac.org/publications/utne/beyond_activistism.shtml

24) Don't let lazy absolutes and stereotypes substitute for genuine analysis and engagement

Red Heretic

RevolutionarySarcasm, do you have an actual analysis of the special edition of the paper? Do you have any actual content to your line?

I think the special edition of Revolution was amazing, and I have already seen many people come forward to take up Avakian's leadership as a result of it.

Jimmy Higgins

What exactly does it mean to "come forward to take up Avakian's leadership" and how are people impelled to do so by reading a nwspaper supplement?

JP PT

I think Burningman is stuck in Guantanamo somewhere

Red Heretic

It means to grapple and engage with what Avakian is bringing forward, and to make the decision to get behind this program to actually bring about a proletarian revolution in the USA.

Jimmy Higgins

Look, RH, I am trying pretty hard to avoid snarkiness or polemic here. I am trying to understand how RCP supporters see their tasks in this period, and what criteria you use to gauge success or failure.

You wrote originally that you "have already seen many people come forward to take up Avakian's leadership" as a result of their exposure to the special issue of Revolution.

By way of clarification, you said that means "to grapple and engage with what Avakian is bringing forward, and to make the decision to get behind this program to actually bring about a proletarian revolution in the USA."

Let me ask four specific questions that may make clearer what I am trying to grasp:

1. My understanding, from what I've read in RCP literature, on this list, etc. is that the main thing that Avakian is bringing forward is the idea of the "epistemological break" and rethinking certain theoretical foundations of Comintern-era Marxism-Leninism. Is that what you refer to here, or is it something else?

2. Whatever it is that Bob Avakian is bringing forward, how have the particular folks that you have had experience with grappled and engaged with it? The "grapple and engage with" formulation seems to imply deep, rigorous and protracted discussion and struggle, certainly something more than reading some articles, even carefully, and saying, "That's cool."

3. When you say "get behind this program," do you mean the "Draft Programme" of the RCP that was unveiled almost exactly six years ago? The call to finalize the Programme came maybe two years after that, and since then I am not aware of any substantive discussion or announcements that the Programme has been adopted.

4. Traditionally, when people make a decision to get behind a program to bring about proletarian revolution, that is best done by actually joining a revolutionary organization. "Without a revolutionary party..." and so on. To your knowledge, is the RCP doing a broad recruitment push (like the Lenin levy) based on the special issue of Revolution,/i>?

Red Heretic

Ah, Jimmy, I'd like to apologize. I misunderstood your original question, so let me clarify.

1. Those are some of Avakian's contributions to the ICM, but that's not exactly what I was referring to here. What I meant was they (the masses whom I have observed) are organizing DVD screenings of the Revolution DVD of Avakian's hictoric 2003 talk, and they're becoming distributors of Revolution Newspaper themselves. See "What is to be Done?" by Lenin for more info on why a communist newspaper serves as the hub and pivot of building a revolutionary movement.

2. People are doing alot more than just simply saying "that's cool." They're asking questions, raising disagreements, and all around engaging what Avakian is putting forward. This includes his vision of how we can make revolution in a country like the USA.

3. No, I was not referring to the Draft Programme.

4. No, I was not reffering to a "membership drive." I was referring to a push to broaden the scope of Revolution Newspaper, which is the hub and pivot through which the Party leads the revolutionary movement. The Party is calling on people to become distributors themselves in their own neighborhoods, and to spread this paper broadly throughout society.

I hope this answers your questions... If no, call me out again and maybe I'll finally get to the essence of it ;)

G. Frohman

Italics fix

Testing

G. Frohman

Worked in the preview. Trying again.

r. john

the remark on program is interesting.

I think it can be fairly said that the RCP has taken steps away from its draft programme -- for better or worse.

I.e. the central idea of "create public opinion, seize power -- prepare minds and organize forces" has been shunted aside, with an emerging notioin that there will be a "repolarization around this leader." I.e. that a specific form of reaching to the masses will percipitate a profound sea change in politics (given certain objective conditions).

It is revealing that the program they are being offered is not the Draft Programme. If you get what I mean.

Red Heretic

Well, I disagree with you actually r john. While it is true that some of the aspects of the Draft Programme do not reflect some of the developments of the RCP in the last few years, the Draft Programme is still one of the main documents of the RCP. That document coupled with "The Coming Civil War, and Repolarization for Revolution in the Common Era" by Avakian given and all around understanding of the RCP's current orientation.

r. john

Where is our disagreement?

You write: "it is true that some of the aspects of the Draft Programme do not reflect some of the developments of the RCP in the last few years"

Which was my point.

In particular, I was pointing out WHICH aspects in particular are being left behind.

For example, the RCP used to call themselves "what is to be donists." Now they say "enriched what-is-to-be-done-ism."

What is this enrichment? it is essentially putting their chairman, and his new views on communism quite central (in relation to, for example, a previous stress exposure hot on the heels of events.)

Put another way: look at the "three main points" in their paper -- what we want you to get out of this newspaper.

The third point: "3) Such a revolutionary struggle is possible. There is a political Party that can lead such a struggle, a political Party that speaks and acts for those with nothing to lose but their chains: The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

This Party has the vision, the program, the leadership, and the organizational principles to unite those who must be united and enable them to do what must be done. There is a challenge for all those who would like to see such a revolution, those with a burning desire to see a drastic change for the better, all those who dare to dream and to act to bring about a completely new and better world: Support this Party, join this Party, spread its message and its organized strength, and prepare the ground for a revolutionary rising that has a solid basis and a real chance of winning."

Wouldn't you have to say that this is not what the newspaper talks about much anymore, and that the promotion of leadership has replaced the discussion of "there is such a party"?

Lenin viewed a newspaper as a way of training the masses to respond to the events, struggles and changes in society around them from a communist point of view (and no other.... as he put it).

But exposure of the events in society (while still present in the newspaper) is definitely on a second tier to both theoretical analysis (of present and past and the transition to communism) and the promotion of central leadership as such.

So thisIs this enriching "what is to be donism" or is it something rather different?

Similarly, one of the "aspects"( as you put it) that seems viewed in new ways is the RCP's approach to the long standing "central task of communists" -- which was viewed as a process over time embracing "create public opinion, seize power -- prepare minds and organize forces."

http://www.revcom.us/margorp/a-create.htm

Go there and read the section on the "pivotal role of the newspaper" and tell me if this corresponds with how the party's newspaper now functions.

There is more... but I will leave it there.

So you say that the Programme is "one of the main documents." OK, that is true historically, and certainly it concentrated their views at one moment. But I have not seen it used or sold in quite a while. And I think it is worth addressing (including it is worth YOU addressing) which "aspects" are being upheld, and which are not.

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