Rules of the road

Kasama

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July 19, 2007

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No comment

Hahaha.

jlg

BM R U still
a maoist? Ha ha ha

JB

I guess I'd have to ask, "what is a Maoist"?

From the looks of it, it means no one thing. I'm not an icon dragger, or a bait-and-switch pragmatist. I think we can win, in some places we are.

Am I a revolutionary communist?

Yes.

With that said, my political muddle isn't unique to me. Nor is it static.

Ha ha ha

Christopher Day

I don't call myself a Maoist, but I think anybody who calls themselves a revolutionary and doesn't seriously study Mao is a fool. I consider myself some sort of post-Leninist, but again think our debt to Lenin is enormous. I call myself a Marxist, butthat doesn't mean I don't think Marx doesn't raise as many questions as he answers. I'm a revolutionary and a communist but painfully aware that recent history has not been kind to either revolution or communism. I want a new synthesis and I think that, among other things, that means re-reading some old thinkers with new glasses on. Sartre included.

r. john

Maoism is dividing into two. In fact it is dividing into three or four. And it is revealing that it was (all along) rather divided into some rather distinct ideological currents.

This is not surprising -- but rather typical of the development of both ideas and human efforts.

There seems to be considerable consensus that a "new synthesis" is needed, but less on what it should be.

(Except for those who insist "Put Maoism in command of the world revolution" -- and who are, in fact, offering their "synthesis" while portraying it as some ortho-Maoism. (Beware of synthesis marketed as orthodoxy -- there is something problematic at its core.)

My view is that "new synthesis" will not be forged "anew from here out" and not "from scratch" -- but has been in the making. That there are valuable "offerings" being made from various sides in the ICM -- that need to be sharply, and critically evaluated.
Gonzalo, Prachanda, and Avakian are putting forward their sense of where Maoism needs to go. And I imagine there are other thoughts and work on this (documents from TKPML? From CPI(M)? From groups and writers unaffiliated in that way?)

One issue is this question Chris raises of whether one should be a "Maoist." Look, it depends and it needs to be looked at scientifically: I don't think that there can be a new communist synthesis that does not have its basis, its feet, within Maoism. There are key insights (philosophically, politically, ideologically and even economically) within Maoism (and Mao's work within that) that are crucial and precious. And I am writing this as an understatement.

And I think Chris sometimes conflates the two: as if seeking to develop a leap beyond Maoism, inherently implies a process "confined" to the issues, ideas, language, writers, verdicts that were shaped by previous Maoism. And assuming that implications, he complains that Maoism is too narrow a framework (and too narrow a "discourse.")

It is one thing to critically seek and draw ideas from everywhere and anywhere -- but that should not be confused with the importance of defending and developing that core which is existing Marxism (i.e. which has been called for now Marxism-Leninism-Maoism).

I think there is a complex of dialectical processes here: where the affirmation and defense of truths within MLM form a key prerequisite for development (and co-necessary destruction) within communist theory.

Two related thoughts:

1) I think we need to create a place, a locus, "a space" where some discussion can take place of this process of synthesis. And where an attractive dynamic can be unleashed.

2) I want to suggest that this would be a good time to think about "throwing in."

To give an example (that is not intended as a "ding"): Chris Day has said (over time) that he thinks there are valuable insights in Gramsci ("old thinkers through new glasses") AND that he thinks there are lessons to be learned from non-communist movements and attempts around the world (Zapatistas? "New thinkers through old glasses"?)

Well, I have only a vague sense of what he means in both cases. But a real curiousity to learn what Chris is getting at.

How about it Chris, are you writing a 3000 word piece each on Gramsci and the Zapatistas -- that *specifically* seeks to explore these corners to make a contribution to the "new synthesis" we need? YOu insist there is something valuable there... well, good, what exactly is it?

Some work needs to be done, so that critical evaluation can proceed.

This is not just aimed at Chris, of course, but at everyone reading this. Can we kick this discussion up a whole level -- in content, and sharpness -- to the level of theory?

As JB is fond of quoting "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

JB

Gosh... who am I quoting? I think it's an old Hopi aphorism. True enough in any case.

I'll take a quick dig at what "Maoism" is today: Communists who have not made peace with capitalism, who do not fetishize parliamentary democracy and (should) place the key issue in socialist construction as the development of social agency among the oppressed, over the oppressor.

Without denying the necessity of state power (as proletarian dictatorship), it does not view socialism as the set of (mere) policies dictated "from the mountaintop", as some put it – but in the lived life of the masses of people.

Where Gonzalo has said the whole of society must be militarized, the Nepalese are talking about drastically down-sizing any national army (as such). Instead of a suffocating "center" – they are looking for both a federal structure in Nepal and a regoinal Soviet Union of South Asia.

Change the "color of the sky" through revolution, let the people breathe enough to create and bring change through their own lives.

Maoism is not "left Stalinism". It was picked up as a left critique of Stalinism in the face of the Soviet Union's move towards "great power" status (as opposed to a "revolutionary base area"). Samir Amin speaks of Kruschev as a "right critique" of Stalinism, and unfortunately one that got over far too much in the ICM.

--------

I agree with R. John that there are two (really three or more) directions that "Maoism" is taking, and I'll also say ain't nothing wrong with that!

My own take on a "new synthesis", thus far, is pretty broad. I'm very skeptical of scholastic takes on "orthodoxy" for exactly the reasons R. John states.

Another way of approaching that is to see how the formulation of "Revisionism" to describe insufficient or wrong tendencies (using a ML vocabulary) has a built-in motion towards a hackneyed orthodoxy.

This goes back to the divisions in the Second International, when Bernsteinian Revisionism was an actual sell-out trend, mainly in opposition to the "Orthodox Marxists" led by Karl Kautsky.

It was a "new synthesis" from Lenin, not just theoretically but with the "dignity of immediate actuality" that created modern, scientific communism. NOT orthodoxy. NOT an old wine in a new bottle.

How could we not be swimming in contention?

Use of (ultimately) facile terms like "revisionism" obscure more than they explain and short circuit critical, informed thinking. This is all the more true when the experimental (whether in Chiapas, Caracas or Rolpa, Nepal) don't necessarily even claim ML bonafides.

Revisionism of the classic sort is real, such as the South African Communist Party, our "CP"USA or Germany's Left Party. But all and all, the world is a (truly) changed place and simply "applying classics" won't cut it because the ground they grew up from is a new terrain.

People shouldn't be afraid to be wrong. To mouth off a little in the wrong directions. Convenient coming from me, no doubt. But I believe without that kind of scattershot in the mix, the temptation to cling to reassuring if impotent orthodoxies will continue to hold sway (ala the Belgian forums).

Things I want to see:

Overviews of who is on the field now, both in North America and abroad.

Philosophical investigations of "orthodoxy" and "revisionism", as well as noting where key ideological ruptures have occurred, such as Leninism.

An investigation into the practices of democratic centralism, the role of cadre in mass movements and the construction of "solid cores".

A re-examination of the proletariat, as concept within Marxist ideology and as an actually-existing class. Is the socialist revolution proletarian, in essence or fact? How do re-conceptions, such as the Zapatista "Other" play into this?

Without re-entering the complaint terrain regarding the RCP, that's what has been so frustrating to me: the reduction of the moment to an orthodox singularity, all claims to the contrary. To recognize the need (and to an extent, all Chicken Littlisms aside, the moment) – and to choke. To just assert a solution, like any other new product. Agitation as advertising.

Anyways, I'm writing today and there will be more to come.

Chuck Morse

Jed, why have you stopped updating your blog? What's up? Have you decided that the prospects for a Maoist revolution aren't so rosy after all? What's going on?

Christopher Day

Hi Chuck,

If you are interested in the keeping abreast of current discussions on the prospects of Maoism in the U.S., you should check out the polemic against Avakian and the RCP here:

https://mikeely.wordpress.com/

As for your semi-snarky question, I'd say that speaking internationally, the prospects for Maoism have improved pretty significantly in the past couple years just based on whats been happening in Nepal and India.

In the U.S., of course, the situation is less promising. The polemic launched by Mike Ely (and the discussion around it) address why this is, focusing on the RCP, but the issues raised are by no means exclusive to the RCP.

In any event thats where many of the folks who used to come to Red Flags are now going.

RGC

How it this critique original. The New Communist Movement [sic] has been splitting over "mass-line" since RYM2.

Real Maoists see this for what it is, one more split in the bankrupt and degenerated NCM. "Nine Letters" will lead nowhere.

Hmph. As if mass-line is the reason for the overall and historical lack of revolution in Amerika... Are you seriously that dense??

But whatever, keep on chasing "mass-line" pipedreams.

ShineThePath

Relevant Maoists think it is a real issue, RGC. Because they don't have some vulgar Three World Theory conception of the world.

What is more of the Pipe Dream I ask, organizing revolutionary struggle here and raising consciousness of the masses of this country...or expecting the armed invasion of the Imperialist centers of the world by the Third world in some version of bad Lin Piaoist thought.

zerohour

RGC -

The point of the critique is not "originality" but whether it's truthfulness. I found it to be rationally argued and supported by documentation.

More importantly it was done in the spirit of building a genuinely revolutionary communist movement, which partially draws on the some of the strengths of RCP's past.

The debate over mass-line is not about formulating slogans but of orientation towards revolutionary work among the masses. If you don't think this is of key importance communists, what is?

Of course there are structural reasons for the lack of revolutionary mass consciousness in the US. This is a matter for serious investigation, but for the dogmatists, it is mainly an excuse failing to engage in critical examination of one's own practice.

RGC

Relevant? Relevant to what? Comparing the relative influence of a type of "maoism" {especially within the First World} is merely one more attempt to dodge a material class analysis.

Real Maoists engage in material class analysis. Psuedo-Maoists of all types have failed to do this. They have done everything they can to worm themselves out of actual class analysis.

What's to say we don't raise revolutionary consciousness (meaning first and foremost a material class analysis) in the First World. We just don't push "Marxist" dogma. Besides, it's not like psuedo-maoism has been even marginally successful recently. So I have to ask, what revolutionary struggles are you talking about???

The truth is, psuedo-maoists of your stripe can't even see what is in front of their faces. Amerikans are principally reactionary- a labor aristocrat class that has tied its lot in with imperialism. It's not like you need stats to figure this out. It's obvious to anyone who isn't wrapped up in "marxist" dogma.

Zerohour, your critique is philistinic.

In the future, I'm not going to go back and fourth on comment boards. If you have a critique of my supposed Three Worlds Theory or anything else I'm saying then write it out in its fullest. STP, you are a part of Good Morning Revolution, right? Last time I checked, there was a noticeable lack of original content on that blog.

That goes for everyone else. If you have a critique then elucidate it in a blog post for the world to see. If you have an attempt at an actual class analysis that would be even better.

zerohour

RCG -

Generally dogmatists don't address what was actually said but what they wish was said. Your post is a case in point. What "revolutionary struggles" am I talking about? None. Maybe if you actually try reading my post, you'd see that.

Christopher Day

RGC,

Try drinking decaf. Even if everything you say were true (which it ain't) your belligerence makes it clear that you aren't really interested in a discussion so much as brow-beating your opponents.

Maybe you were convinced of your present line by being hectored into submission. If so I suggest you not assume this method will work on others.

There are undoubtedly big structural obstacles to promoting revolutionary consciousness in the US. If they are so insurmountable that nothing can be done then why don't you just go to the beach? Why do you even bother to argue with us? Why do YOU exist? It seems to me that your actual activity suggests a glimmer of faith in the possibility that some fraction of the US populace (if only us "pseudo-Maoists") might possibly be won to the brilliance of your analysis and that doing so might possibly be worth doing.

Presumably, you yourself somehow rose out of the ideological muck of Amerikkkan society and found your way to the one true light. If you think other people might be possibly guided to the light as well you should treat them with at least a modicum of respect instead of acting like you were raised by wolves or trained in political ettiquette by the Spartacist League.

Have a nice day.

repeater

RGC writes:

"The truth is, psuedo-maoists of your stripe can't even see what is in front of their faces. Amerikans are principally reactionary- a labor aristocrat class that has tied its lot in with imperialism. It's not like you need stats to figure this out. It's obvious to anyone who isn't wrapped up in "marxist" dogma."

Is this your materialist class analysis? The one that needs no stats? This analysis of yours is clearly erroneous when we look at the number of people housed in prison, the number of immigrant workers, the number of people housed in the state welfare system and the number of people who simply aren't housed at all.

This is not to speak of those who live on reservations, or throughout a depressed rural landscape, and to say nothing of those who have jobs which barely keep food on the table and what food does get to them is processed shit that creates diseases like diabetes.

I don't think anyone is arguing against the development of a materialist class analysis. In fact it seems pretty clear that this is one of the things that is being called for, the difference is that no one outside of your cynical circle agrees with your particular class analysis, all the more so when you put it forward as being "obvious".

RGC

I'm not going to waste my time browsing comment boards and engaging in pointless debates on the backroads of the psuedo-maoist blogosphere.

If you can't come up with a reasonable public statement, I'm just going to assume that what you are saying isn't worth my time.

My original comment was a link to my critique, not an invitation for a back and forth debate. I simply don't have time for that shit

So like I said, if you actually have something to say, post it publicly on your own blog (or something similar), not on some obscure comment board.

RGC

RGC

Sorry, I guess my original post wasn't a link.

I must have been confused. I mean, i've sent out so many links and so many of them simply get blocked [right STP?]... it gets kinda hard to keep up.

Anyways, like I said, if you have something to say- say it, just not on a comments board. Otherwise, i guess this particular conversation is over.

BTW, there is a new post at RGC. Check it out at redguardcamp.blogspot.com

Red Heretic

Thank you RGC for that exciting trip through the MIMite cyber swamp. I wish everything I read was that principled.

zerohour

Lessons in Dogmatism:

RCG said [attacking Mike Ely]: "Hmph. As if mass-line is the reason for the overall and historical lack of revolution in Amerika... Are you seriously that dense??"

Mike Ely actually said: "The objective conditions are the main reason why there has not been either a mass revolutionary movement or the basis for any actual revolutionary attempts." [in Letter 2]

That's the great thing about MIM politics, you can construct arguments without doing useless things like reading or research.

RGC

"The objective conditions are the main reason why there has not been either a mass revolutionary movement or the basis for any actual revolutionary attempts."

What exactly does that mean?? It am failing to see a clear material explanation coming from your camp.

So if anyone wishes, they can also post their ideas on global class structure in a blog post. This would clear up the overall muddled positions you people take.

zerohour

How many times do I have to stress the importance of reading? What does it mean? Find out from Ely himself: https://mikeely.wordpress.com/letter-2/

I never claimed to belong to any "camp". Another benefit of dogmatism is that you don't need to find out what people actually think. I'll clarify for you: my politics were influenced by RCP. For years I was a critical supporter of the Party, but I have grown further away from their orientation in recent years. However, I still consider Maoism a great contribution to political practice and theory, with insights that form a necessary part of any contemporary revolutionary strategy. I give the Party credit for keeping the question of revolution on the agenda when much of the left has been trying to avoid even discussing it.

Your insistent demand on an account of "global class structure" is nonsensical since: 1] there isn't a single world class structure and 2] an account of global class structures wouldn't really explain RCP's politics any more than the theory of relativity explains Hurricane Katrina.

SS

Mike Ely
"The objective conditions are the main reason why there has not been either a mass revolutionary movement or the basis for any actual revolutionary attempts."

RCG:
''What exactly does that mean?? It am failing to see a clear material explanation coming from your camp.

So if anyone wishes, they can also post their ideas on global class structure in a blog post. This would clear up the overall muddled positions you people take.''

As far as I can tell RCG, the above statement of Mike Ely's was posted in relation to your above statement.

"Amerikans are principally reactionary- a labor aristocrat class that has tied its lot in with imperialism. It's not like you need stats to figure this out."

The ''objective conditions'' that were being spoken to were the same ones pointed to when you were talking about Amerikas ''lack of revolution.'' Mike Ely was never talking about revolution on a global scale. He was speaking specifically about revolution in the US. He was saying that there are definate objective reasons why a revolutionary movement has not been easily built. one example would be the fact that, to put it crudely, even with all its problems, the US happens to be an imperial superpower that has bribed large sections of the populace away from revolutionary, and even socially mindful politics. As you stated.

But none-the-less he stresses the necessity for the Communist movement to sharpen up on its line / organizing abilities. That's the entire reason he wrote the ''9 Letters.''

It's officially spelled out.

SS

Sorry typo.

As far as I can tell RCG, the above statement of Mike Ely's was posted in relation to your statement BELOW.

"Amerikans are principally reactionary- a labor aristocrat class that has tied its lot in with imperialism. It's not like you need stats to figure this out."

Christopher Day

Despite his obnoxious manner of presentation and his own dogmatism on the question, RGC raises a real issue that deserves attention. That issue is not simply the question of whether "the objective conditions are the main reason why there has not been either a mass revolutionary movement or the basis for any actual revolutionary attempts." It is more particularly the question of WHICH objective conditions we are talking about.

I think MIM's account of the relationship between imperialist bribery and the (absence of) revolutionary class-consciousness in the US is crude and consequently blind to the cracks and contradictions that constantly emerge even among the most thoroughly bought-off sections of the working classes.

On a certain level, RGC is of course correct that no perfection of the methodology of the mass line will melt away the grip that white supremacy and imperial chauvinism has on the minds of broad swathes of the masses.

But this is actually just an expression of the more fundamental fact that revolutioanries can't just concoct revolutionary movements, that they arise to an important degree spontaneously out of the concrete conditions that exist within a particular country.

What revolutionaries CAN do is pay close attention to the struggles that arise all the time in every society and attempt to determine which ones have the greatest promise to become something more and to intervene strategically in these in various ways.

White supremacy and imperialist chauvinism aren't made of kryptonite. They have been powerful and persistent features of US society for a long time, but they are vulnerable to a variety of contradictions. Some of those contradictions came forward very sharply in the 60s and early 70s and there have been big changes since then. These changes have not been of a single character either. Revolutionary, radical and progressive movements have suffered big setbacks, but in many ways US hegemony and the domestic social peace it has bolstered has become much more brittle as well. We are at a moment when US imperialism is facing a big defeat in Iraq and when a much enlarged immigrant proletariat is beginning to feel its power as reflected in the massive immigrant rights marches last year.

In this context we have to be aware of how white supremacy and imperialist chauvinism are likely to act as brakes on the emergence of new popular forces. But we can't afford the dogmatic view that writes off whole swathes of the population and ignores the complexities of the civil war that is occurring in their consciousness. Our awareness of the obstacles should arm us for the fights neccesary to overcome them, and not serve as a permanent rationale for our puniness and isolation.

SS

I agree completely. Once again I would like to point out that that is the exact viewpoint Mike Ely is coming from in his article.

My point was not to express a comprehensive view of why there was and is no revolution in the US. Merely to explain Mike Ely's direction of thinking in a simple and as I and you said, crude way.

There are most certainly periods of time in which a revolutionary movement in the US can take a qualitative jump in power. This is based not only on the contradictions in a capitalist society itself but also very much on the revolutionary work we do.

There was another thread ôn this site that touched on this, but it never materialized into a discussion.

Questions came up like when is the best time to organize and when is the best time to throw newspapers at people. Another aspect that has been significatly ignored (atleast in my city)is revolutionary community organizations. I thinks that's one of the things we need to learn from the Anarchist movement.

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