Rules of the road


On the Shelf

« Prachanda Interview With Time Magazine | Main | Mao's Legacy in China's Current Development »

December 28, 2005


Old Timer with a young heart

The resurgence of communism throughout Asia is really interesting and totally off the radar of many activists in the USA. It seems like those forces who have returned to revolutionary politics are faring really well and growing, while those walking dead commies are sort of drifting around trying to be all things to all people.

We should all be fighting for principled unity in the international communist movement.

Thanks for this site. I've been looking for something like this.

Red Guard

Does anyone know why there are still different Maoist international formations?

The CPP isn't in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. Why?

I read their statement on international stuff, but it contains very little meat. There was a RIM piece in A World To Win magazine some years back, criticizing aspects of the CPP, but since then the groups seem much closer and in line.

One stronger international, with good politics (!) will help us all tremendously. Someone needs to pressure all these small groups to get their shit in gear.

Please post any deeper analysis of why there are different groups.


Red Guard: the CPP are in the ICMLPO, which they founded, and which takes a pretty dim view of the CPN(M) and a lot of other RIM stuff. RIM tend to support CPP all the same.
I've been putting some info on the ICMLPO on wikipedia of late, so have a look on there.

Strikes me that the CPP are going to have much more of an uphill struggle in the Philippines than the CPN(M) have had in Nepal, what with the Philippines being a US neo-colony, rather than just an Indian one.

the burningman

Mark: do you have links to any documents? Saying the CPP (and affiliates) have a "rather dim view" is one thing, but I'd be much more interested in why.

I know that RIM wrote a rather scathing polemic in the 1980s about the CPP's international opportunism, but since the "re-affirmation" I don't see what the issues are. The CPP split off from it's more rightward elements who have shown themselves for what they are since.

Revolutionary communists have a responsibility to fight for unity on the highest levels possible and engage in struggle. If the CPP does have these "dim" views, they should make them known.

Have they?


My basis for these comments is not any documents from the CPP, but rather from the ICMLPO. The ICMLPO has a Nepalese section who are heavily antagonistic towards the CPN(M). I must admit this is not the same as the CPP's own position. My source of information is the ICMLPO's website which has the conference reports of national groups, which pertain only to the situation in the countries where they are based, hence the CPP has nothing to say other than about the Philippines. My impression, which you can judge for yourself by visiting relevant websites, is that the ICMLPO are keener on the FARC than they are on the Nepalese PLA.

Red Guard

That would be depressing. The FARC is not going to bring socialism. At least not more than a Chavez type welfare state which I don't think they could even pull off. This is one of those places where the line discussion is very, very real.

I try to see value in resistance of all kinds, but... it's almost painful to see how many socialists around the world are so uninterested in a class analysis of socialism as it has happened and what we can learn from that.

I also just don't trust movement "chatter." Documents are organizational positions -- not what this or that individual associated with some group says in passing.

There's also something downright provincial about only having analysis that supposedly end at a nation's borders. You can't develop an analysis of what's happening in this world by turning nations into organizing turf. That's wrong. It might be convenient to bring different centers superficially together, but... it ends up not just allowing for, but literally enabling various forms of opportunism.

the burningman

True that about the "chatter."

Leftists are as prone as anyone to confusing what something superficially "feels like" or "seems to me" with what it is.

The international communist movement needs to found a new international on a revolutionary basis. For that to happen, we need to at least recognize that the truth doesn't stop at national borders.

Treating movements like fiefs is a big mistake -- and when line discussion is not open, front and center it only feeds the same unhealthy dynamics that have carried the day poorly for too long now.


The CPP participates in various international formations that bring together Marxist-Leninists.

They are regular participants in the Workers Party of Belgium-initiated International Communist Seminars of Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations every May in Belgium. As is mentioned above they also participate in the ICMLPO. I think they go to other M-L gatherings as well.

Prominent CPP-associated groups and individuals play an important role in the International League for Peoples Struggle, an international grouping of progresive and anti-imperialist mass organizations (which is linked on the right side of this website).

But the CPP does not participate in the RIM.

I don't know of any direct statement by the CPP or by the RIM as to why that is so. The CPP relates to individual parties in the RIM (Revolutionary Worker newspaper wrote a few years ago about some prominent RCP members' experiences with them in the Philippines, for example).

But looking at the CPP's international work, one could infer that they disagree with the approach of the RIM in declaring themselves as the 'embryonic center' of a new international. It seems that the CPP believes in uniting on the basis of Marxism-Leninism in the international arena, not only uniting with those who call themselves Maoists.

The CPP also leads the way in uniting progressive and anti-imperialist mass organizations internationally on the basis of practice in organizing against imperialism. There are groups participating in the ILPS from various left tendencies. But interestingly, the RCP has not participated in the ILPS (to my knowledge at least, I may be wrong though they definitely haven't participated in it in a big way).

I think CPP's approach to international work is correct. A lot of groups that divided along the Sino-Soviet split or the China-Albania split or what have you, now find that they have quite a bit in common in the current period, and can build more unity and learn from each other more than they previously thought.

Hand-wringing about why they don't just join the RIM is pretty fruitless. They have their views on what happened in China and so forth, and they don't hide those views, but they engage in a serious and respectful way with other Marxist-Leninists who don't hold exactly the same views or don't come from the same historical tradition on those questions.

Now, all that said, if the CPN(M) succeeds in taking power in Nepal, I could see that creating a center of gravity around the RIM that doesn't currently exist, which might pull some more groups into the RIM. Of course that assumes there is no division in the RIM over the politics and/or strategy of the CPN(M)...


Bloody hell, what will happen to the RIM if the CPN(M) take power! Will Prachanda start calling the shots for the international? I can't imagine Avakian liking that.

There's one thing that rings false to me about your analysis RDL - though I'm not that much of an expert - and it's your characterisation of the CPP as taking a more open stance by participating in the ICS and ICMLPO. The ICS and ICMLPO are united by their fanatical (although in fact, rather ironically, quite different) anti-revisionism (of the MLM kind in ICMLPO and of an eclectic kind based around Stalin in the ICS). The RIM on the other hand, it seems to me, mainly on the evidence of the RCP, are willing to play far looser with positions on the history of the movement, such as the legacy of Stalin, and the adabtibility of MLM. My suspicion is that the CPP don't like RIM precisely because it's so flexible. And I don't think this indicates a strength of position on the CPP's part: rather, it seems to me to indicate a dogmatic and uncritical way of thinking, that moreover ends up with the CPP teaming up with parties who are opposed to People's War where it is occuring elsewhere in the world, viz. Nepal, India, Peru.

the burningman

Mark writes: "Bloody hell, what will happen to the RIM if the CPN(M) take power! Will Prachanda start calling the shots for the international? I can't imagine Avakian liking that."

Do you think it really works like that? I don't. From what I've seen the RIM is almost unique in its principled poliitcal discussions. It is not a honcho system -- and Avakian's ideological efforts have found some real traction internationally.

I've been heartened that the CPN(M) -- in the person of Bhattarai -- has made similar statements about not just recreating some Stalinoid society, but creating a people-centered socialism.

Regarding the "flexibility" that Avakian promotes: This is good news and cuts to the heart of what socialism is and will be.

Making Stalin the line on "revisionism" ignores what Stalin's regime was essentially -- and how much we've learned since them (and through those experiences).

Stalin had no concept of popular agency. The omlettes and eggs point kind of cuts to the quick on it -- and if socialism has no popular agency it cannot escape from the pull towards state capitalism. For those who think socialism IS state capitalism, this is no problem as long as it delivers a welfare state -- but this, again, is why there is an argument.

RLD says: "A lot of groups that divided along the Sino-Soviet split or the China-Albania split or what have you, now find that they have quite a bit in common in the current period, and can build more unity and learn from each other more than they previously thought."

Well, I don't agree. Juche is not socialism. And the "sino-soviet split" was not just that -- it was a defining fight over what socialism is and will be. Agnosticism on the issue isn't something to be glossed over.

We can work with social-democrats and revisionists in various coalitions and movements. But at the heart of the communist movement, there better be some clarity on these questions -- or we'll end up tailing every puff of smoke as some new vanguard.

Put another way, RDL, imagine what socialism would be like if people like Avakian just stopped and said, "oh, whatever... let's just pretend it's all good."

Because it's not. And whole movements can sacrifice everything they've fought for if there is no clarity on the nature of the proletarian state. Otherwise we will build a Breznevite movement ala the South African CP that sells people out in the name of pragmatism. The expediency of groups will take precedence over what it is they supposedly exist for.

German socialists killed Karl and Rosa. The Spanish CP sided with the bourgeoisie over the workers in rebellion. Teng restored capitalism in China. The CPUSA backs the DLC.

Pretending otherwise is either opportunism or lying -- in either case not a good plan.


I was being pretty tongue-in-cheek with that comment about Prachanda and Avakian, BM.

I think we're in agreement. And I think the difference between us and RDL is the RIM-CPP difference. The PTB/ICS is all about levelling differences between Mao, Castro and Juche to produce an idiot's Marxism-Leninism. The CPP obviously has a more principled line than that, but I get the impression that they still cleave to Mao Zedong Though, not Maoism, which is to say they downplay rather than accentuate the differences between Mao and his forebears.

the burningman

The semantics of MLM vs. "Mao Zedong Thought" isn't of interest to me. MLM is a terrible acronym and I generally distrust the naming of philosophies after people. Maybe that's aesthetic, but I don't trust it since you end up "proof-texting" arguments instead of grounding them.

Marxism (there I go!) is a science, not a vocabulary. Just as socialism is the dictatorship of the proletariat or it is nothing at all. There is a "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" school of "communism." We just don't have to pretend that embracing THAT is some better, easier basis of unity.

The PTB (Belgian Workers Party) has large gatherings from around the world and Ludo Martens wrote THE defense of Stalin. He reduces the anti-revisionist struggle Mao led against the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union as little more than nationalistic bickering.

This allows him to cozy up to every grizzly Easter European red/brown formation and get some ugly numbers.

I'm partial to Lenin's argument that we need to be SHARPER on politics when we are smaller in order to at least launch in the right direction. Avakian makes a strong case for the same argument implicitly through his whole memoir.

the burningman

Site moderation is going to be generally lax. But then I've just deleted the first comment that appeared meant in earnest.

Short rules:

No baiting, really, of any kind. Just don't flame.

No personal gossip or politics by crude anecdote.

No advocacy of criminal acts or threats of any kind.

No speculation on the internal workings of active organizations. No submission of non-public materials. Discussion should be conducted with at least manners, on the basis of line and practice. Otherwise it's of no use to anyone.

Try to throw more light than shade.

Questions regarding moderation or materials should be sent to [email protected]


OK, I've done a bit more reading of the ICMLPO's documents' specifically their most recent Newsletter (, which was really fascinating. The MLPD (relatively large German party) supports the people's war of the RIM parties, though the assess the people's war in Peru as a failure. The CPI(ML) Red Flag oppose all these people's wars, including apparently the CPP's, as petit-bourgeois and anarchist, and suggest that the struggles in Iraq and Palestine are more progressive. Clearly, this is a far more heterogenous conference than I suspected. Indeed, it is difficult to uderstand what holds it together.

Red Guard

"Heterogenous" is one word for it.


I probably should add that I just found a statement which the CPP seems to have made with RIM groups and others affirming people's war in general:


CPP opted to unite with other forces under anti-imperialist unity. however, the fact that CPP initiated ICMLPO(IN) shows that it had not forsaken MLM. in fact, anti-imperialist struggle is part of the whole MLM struggle.
and yes, RDL is right. CPP dislikes the idea that, at the present, a party (RCPUSA) or an international (RIM) is engrossed with the idea of being the "embryonic center" as one of the main issues to be resolved before formally re-establishing the international. however, CPP maintains the highest regard for RIM, RCPUSA and even PCP as one the leading forces in the American continent.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Hot Shots