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Kasama

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August 22, 2005

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fellow traveling

So what if the CP got people down there? Maybe there's a reason they got 500 and all you out of touch ultra-leftists are twiddling your thumbs. America will never see some communist revolution. Your sectarian rant is your own reality.

the burningman

The future is unwritten. I'll start with that.

In the meantime, the CPUSA has gotten a free ride on their raggedy shit for too long. Even people in their immediate periphery don't know their agenda and history. And they like it that way.

The question isn't if the CP is saying things people want to hear. Any opportunist can do that. It's where they are leading people.

Instead of being upfront about their crappy program, they use populist lingo and socialist symbols to mask an essentially pro-capitalist and defeated agenda. Everywhere and always, by design, they promote accomodation.

Everybody starts somewhere, and for many the CP and their tentacles are folks' first encounter with any kind of dissident ideas. But you don't have to scratch too hard to know that Breznev wasn't a good guy.

Everything people hate about "communism" is concentrated in the CP. Apology for police states, timidity, social conservatism as organizational ethic, dishonesty... and most importantly, total and complete opportunism.

cleveland radical

thanks for the post... the idea of thousands of radical youth gathering from around the world does sound real fucking cool... i can see the appeal. the question in my mind is, how do we reach out to the youth attracted to this kind of gathering with a visionary revolutionary message? how do we speak to people with that message that the future is unwritten, but that something better than chavez and castro is possible?
thoughts?

Random Name Generator

I think the first way to "reach out" is to actually call large gatherings that are open to a range of politics, or attend them with propaganda teams where they are already happening.

Revolutionaries don't provide enough "entry points" for people who don't have a whole developed analysis, something opportunists always appreciate.

It also seems like a number of non-CP trends were involved in the gathering, including various Trot formations and Latin American Bolivarian-nationalist types. If these conferences are actually "open," then there's no reason other trends can't enter and promote their politics. But I'm skeptical this one is open... it is very tightly tied to revisionist parties internationally and they aren't liberal about their techniques of domination, just subtle.

There was an argument among Maoists about how to deal with the World Social Forum, with some Indian parties denouncing the WSF for its reformism and non-radical character. But just as I think that was narrow, even if I supported the Mumbai Resistance conference held in tandem, it was good for comrades to engage the WSF. So too with these international youth gatherings.

Young radicals are being trained into revisionism a lot more often than they are generating it.

I know several people who attended and some organizers... and they are all "good people." Most didn't quite get what it was, even on their return. It was just a "left" gathering with lots of "inspirational" events and a contact high off the more radical groups (and regimes)in the third world.

Of the 500 who are estimated to have attended from the US, I'd estimate a relatively small number to be die-hard CP types. Most were excited to visit Venezuela and see their experiment. And none encountered a strong political critique of the CP's history and method.

Random Name Generator

Here's the good news from Stuart Munckton's report on Znet:

"Chavez left no doubt about what system he supported to replace imperialism, coming out strongly for a socialist alternative. The position of the crowd was not in any doubt either: when Chavez at one point asked “Who here is a socialist?”, 10,000 hands reached for the roof.

Neither did Chavez shy away from controversy. To an audience with many representatives of youth groups of communist parties that were aligned to the former Soviet Union, Chavez didn’t hesitate to quote the great anti-Stalinist revolutionary Leon Trotsky, or repeat Che Guevara’s criticisms of the Soviet Union for abandoning the Third World. Both comments received a noticeably mixed response.

Chavez imbued his speech with optimism, pointing to the growing anti-imperialist revolt in Latin America and the advance of the Venezuelan revolution. He declared that the US “will never be victorious in Venezuela” and that it is “doomed to failure” because the revolutionary consciousness of the people is too high. He pointed out that peoples’ resistance killed the US-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas, and that the alternative promoted by Venezuela and Cuba, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, based on cooperation and solidarity, continued to advance. “I want you to go back and bring the good news: imperialism is not invincible!”

000000000

Hell muthafuckin' yeah!

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=45&ItemID=8557

the burningman

Something better than Chavez and Castro better be possible. (No matter what doubts I have about that "better" thing arising in Cuba or Venezuela).

Part of the problem is that I don't know if revolutionary communism in South America has actually been better. From many discussions and much investigation, I think that the PROFOUND dogmatism of some revolutionary communists in South America may have caused some deep damage.

It is deeds that count. So long as Chavez is the best thing on the ground in Latin America, that's where the debate will rest. He has managed to bring millions of Venezuelans into political life, largely from among the most oppressed. And he is earning respect for it.

I love that he stuck a needle in the side of the revisionists, even if he did it by quoting Trotsky.

Someone send Chavez the "Shanghai Textbook on Political Economy!"

Salaam Mumbai

Random Name Generator apparently does not read the Indian Maoists' own writings about the WSF/MR-2004 and instead takes AWTW at its word on that controversy. Those who actually read the People's March article (the whole thing, not the short excerpt in AWTW), should see that MR-2004 was a means of intervening in the WSF, not boycotting it. In that article they clearly explain why they feel the MR-2004 model of intervention is much more effective than the method of 'propaganda teams' as the principle means of intervention within these sorts of events (given conditions where the revolutionary forces have the strength to pull off an MR-2004 type event).

Random Name Generator

Salaam, I read the argument via People's March... which is the paper of the newly unified Maoist movement in India. I think that having a basically separate event is fine... and Mumbai Resistance was an important event... but it wasn't an either or thing.. It's not an either/or thing.

There's also a way that criticizing an event or political trend can stand in for engaging it.

The WSF, and large revisionist-inspired events, are not a closed book. Thousands attend who are looking for a way forward, and engaging those youth (and at the WSF the middle classes) is important.

Random Name Generator

Here are the links to the debate between Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, which publishes A World To Win Magazine internationally, and People's March, the organ of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) over the over Mumbai Resistance and the World Social Forum. The gist of the discussion is how to engage "middle forces."

CoRIM's Introduction:
http://awtw.org/current_issues/wsf_communist_tactics.htm

CoRIM's Open Letter on Communist Tactics to "Comrades Involved in the World Social Forum and Mumbai Resistance:
http://awtw.org/current_issues/co_rim_on_tactics.htm

The response from People's March was included on A World to Win's website in excerpt, with a link to People's March for the full piece.

People's March on the "Participation Trend & CoRIM Stand"
http://awtw.org/current_issues/wsf_peoples_march.htm

People's March on "The Question of Approach to WSF/MR" -- This is the full piece in question:
http://www.peoplesmarch.com/archives/2004/june2k4/wsf.htm

Salaam Mumbai

It's hard to believe that you read the PM article and could come away with the impression that MR-2004/WSF was considered an either/or thing by PM. In fact, a major part of PM's article is criticizing those forces that chose to boycott the WSF. MR-2004 was in fact a way to engage with and intervene in the WSF. There was a lot of back and forth between MR-2004 and the WSF, which was reflected both on the stage (with Arundhati Roy, for example, who was at both) and in the mass participation. Many people from the WSF crossed the highway to participate in MR-2004. Clearly, MR-2004 did not see the WSF as a closed book, it sought a high level of intervention in the WSF and included a strong criticism of the forces leading the WSF and many of the prominent lines in the WSF as part of that intervention. By holding the MR-2004 across the highway from the WSF they were able to intervene on a much higher level than just by sending in propaganda teams to gather contact addresses, which was the limit of what CoRIM had put forward as appropriate tactics for the WSF.

Those who boycotted the WSF did not engage the WSF and were irrelevant to the tens of thousands of participants of the WSF (and MR-2004). Their criticism of WSF stood in for engaging it. But the MR-2004 criticism of the WSF did not prevent it from engaging the WSF on a very high level, much more so than could have been accomplished by being one trend of people passing out flyers among hundreds of other trends.

In fact, there is a lot for people to learn internationally from the experience of MR-2004 and its advances on a number of different levels. It is an advanced experience that stands sharply in contrast to the practice and line of those that think passing out 1 million flyers or distributing 50,000 newspapers is a major victory, even when it doesn't change the political landscape in the slightest.

the burningman

Mumbai Resistance "is an advanced experience that stands sharply in contrast to the practice and line of those that think passing out 1 million flyers or distributing 50,000 newspapers is a major victory, even when it doesn't change the political landscape in the slightest."

Well, if that's the discussion... then it would be very simple. But I don't think the CoRIM was arguing against holding the Mumbai Resistance conference, or downplaying its successes.

Just to be fair.

This is the gist of what I find objectionable, from the People's March piece:

"So, while in India, the exposures of MR acted to effectively keep many of the genuine forces away from the WSF and bring them a step forward in building a genuine anti-imperialist movement; from abroad the tendency was more for participation. Surprisingly, it was the CoRIM that was one of the most assertive on this; and it was the RCP, USA's Revolutionary Worker (22 Feb and 14 March 2004 issues), that went to such an extent as putting WSF and MR on an equal plane, thereby, in effect, negating the need for an ideological and political struggle against the WSF through an alternative programme to counter its reactionary leadership and its diversionary role of it being a "safety valve" to diffuse the growing discontent."

The World Social Forum isn't "just a safety valve" for imperialism, nor is participation a way of "in effect" covering over real differences between the revolutionary movement and various social-democratic forces. This position recognizes neither the WSF's internal contradictions as an event... or the vast range of often undeveloped politics among the participants.

By promoting an antagonistic view of the WSF, the People's March position is to denounce what should be, in the main, upheld. Salaam Mumbai's take, of trying to make the molehill of a disagreement among Maoists into a mountain isn't something useful either... I think Salaam's method is related.

All contradictions aren't sharply antagonistic. Maoism's general obsession with the "correct line," means that those who disagree are often cast as "representing bourgeois lines." This can make it difficult to just fucking disagree.

It's okay to disagree. The trick is figuring out what the essence of a dispute is, and if it is, in fact, "antagonistic."

By holding a parallel, revolutionary and anti-imperialist conference, MR was able to SUBSTANTIALLY raise the general level of discussion and the effect certainly was world-wide.

At the same time, various forces engaged the WSF from the inside, and I don't think it's just a matter of distributing propaganda... though there's nothing wrong with that either. Propaganda does change the political landscape quite a bit.

But I think the point Salaam is trying to make is that RCP is an "agit/prop" group and not an effective political party. There's certainly an argument to made about that, but I'm sure you can articulate it yourself.

For the same reason I think it's important for MLM forces to directly engage things like the WSF, it's also worth paying attention to (and where possible, engaging with) revisionist mobilizations.

--------

The World Youth Festival brought thousands of militant-minded youth together to indoctrinate them in shitty politics. There was no intervention by revolutionary forces, not even a leaflet on the outskirts.

Chavez was the most challenging speaker, and that needn't have been the case.

RDB

Looking for the YCL I found this page. I remember those days. I'm not in the movement now. Just a quiet life. Opportunism. That's quite a word for it. Deeply Cynical is what I'd say.

Salaam Mumbai

I think that, while the WSF isn't 'just' a safety valve, it is a safety valve among other things. And it was conceived as such.

This report on the WSF by the Research Unit on Political Economy: http://www.rupe-india.org/35/contents.html
provides important background on how the WSF was created by the imperialists as a way to co-opt the anti-globalization movement. If you disagree with what RUPE shows, you would be doing us all a favor by refuting some of the facts that they cite about how the WSF was founded and funded.

That said, you are of course correct to point out the various internal contradictions within the WSF and related events (such as the Caracas conference) and also to point out the responsibility of revolutionaries to intervene in these events. Perhaps we differ in that I see the MR-2004 event as the best example of such an intervention yet, albeit one resting on a higher level of organization than any revolutionary group in the Americas was in a position to bring to bear vis-a-vis the Caracas conference or the social forums that have been held in this hemisphere.

Pick Hielo

Here's some reporting from an LA based Trotskyist:

"This is a report from the World Festival of Youth and Students that happened this month in Venezuela. I am a 23 year old white male substitute teacher and History graduate student from Los Angeles, I went there between August 4th-18th with a group of about 7 friends and fellow marxist activists from the U.S. I am a supporter of the socialist group Labor's Militant Voice and a member of an independent marxist youth organization in Los Angeles, Progressive Alliance."

http://www.lefthook.org/Ground/Saxe082505.html

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