Rules of the road

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March 11, 2006

Comments

scorchedEarth

Can we open up a separate thread on the mass line?

redstar2000

"You are one hard-headed fool."

So I have been told...by more than a few. On the other hand, Marx was a lot smarter fellow than me...and look at all the things they've called him! LOL!

"World Can't Wait is not an owned entity."

Perhaps not...at the moment. It certainly began as the RCP's "baby" but by next fall it may belong to Barbara Boxer & Co.

"I've watched you for some time. Bottom line? A troll with a library card (or at least an internet connection) who knows how to read subheads but not the subtext."

And yourself? A well-meaning and well-read young fellow who just "hasn't put it together yet".

Think I haven't been there? LOL!

"My point being, I'm quoting a character who unlearns Christianity in a novel about the breakdown of America."

Since I'm not familiar with the novel, I'll take your word for it. But what would YOU make of someone who told you that "God Is Change"?

Sounds like "crazy stuff" to me.

"Oh, she didn't just tell believers that they're stupid, your preferred form of attack."

Believing in superstitions IS "stupid". I see no reason to be shy about pointing that out.

There's an "old tradition" in the left (at least as far back as Kautsky) of pretending that there's a "progressive Christianity" to which we should "appeal". Some have even recently suggested that there's a "progressive Islam" as well.

As if to say "FIRST we'll con the godsuckers into siding with us and THEN we'll convince them of atheism and materialism." LOL!

Whenever the left attempts such a maneuver, the outcome is ALWAYS the same. The "leftists" end up MOVING TO THE RIGHT.

The WCW, by giving a platform to liberal politicians and some god-racketeers, is already demonstrating that.

Sad...but not unexpected.

"You should actually try reading some Karl Marx. Then you might see that he clearly acknowledges his debt to Hegel throughout his writings..."

Have I or has anyone ever disputed the proposition that Marx was a "big fan" of Hegel? Sometime in the late 1860s (or early 1870s), Marx called Hegel "that mighty thinker" and complained that others treated Hegel as "a dead dog".

All that demonstrates is that Marx, who really was a "mighty thinker", made a mighty big MISTAKE.

And there are hints that he was aware of it. Consider this...

"As to the Delhi affair, it seems to me that the English ought to begin their retreat as soon as the rainy season has set in real earnest. Being obliged for the present to hold the fort for you as the Tribune's military correspondent, I have taken it upon myself to put this forward...It's possible that I shall make an ass of myself. But in that case one can always get out of it with a little dialectic. I have, of course, so worded my proposition as to be right either way."

Marx to Engels, August 15, 1857

One can verbally escape many awkward dilemmas with the skillful use of "a little dialectic". LOL!

"No other thinker 'using ordinary pedestrian scientific logic and empirical observation' has come up with anything like Capital."

Someone should give it a try. A well-written update of Capital -- with contemporary statistical data and purged of all the "dialectical" fluff -- would be, I think, most useful.

"Are you saying that only atheist materialists can have any insight into the world?"

Yes, that seems to be pretty much the case.

When a serious godsucker says something about the real world that's actually true, it's an ACCIDENT.

Here and there it's perfectly possible that one will appear who is sincerely outraged by injustice...but their outrage is perforce limited by their superstitions.

"Why not show Malcolm X the door as well?"

That's ok with me. However courageous and principled his fight against racism was, that doesn't change the fact that he was a sincere Muslim and would, if possible, have imposed some form of "Islamic Law" on ALL OF US!

Sound like fun?

A footnote: Mao did not "predict" the restoration of capitalism in the USSR, using "dialectics" or anything else. He OBSERVED that such had happened some years after the event...most notably in the small pamphlet "Is Yugoslavia a Socialist Country?" (c.1960).

If it happened in the USSR, then it was quite reasonable for him to conclude that it COULD happen in China. Even bourgeois historians endorse the idea that "what has happened CAN HAPPEN".

"Dialectics" is not necessary to understand that.

Now if Mao had actually understood historical materialism, he would have understood that "socialist revolutions" in pre-capitalist or semi-capitalist countries CAN ONLY result in modern capitalism. It's, pardon the expression, INEVITABLE.

I know...that's soooo "dogmatic" of me. LOL!

leftclick

Correction, read Karl Marx AND Hegel, you'll see that Marx was more than a fanboy, and in fact, his methodology is based on Hegel's. All you've shown is that Marx was approached Hegel critically.

As far as religious individuals, acknowledging the truth value of an their statements does not entail an endorsement or adoption of their worldviews. Yes, you are sooooooooooo dogmatic.

The impact of revolutions, especially in a country like China, affects the international situation greatly, including in the imperialist countries. There is no way to PREDICT how but there is a chance that it might create favorable conditions for revolutions and revolutionary movements in other countries. Subsequently, this could create more liberatory opportunities for third world revolutions. A lot of qualifiers but not baseless speculation. Mao himself credited the Russian Revolution for opening the door for the Chinese Revolution. Did I mention you were dogmatic?

Your vision of Marxism as rigorous number-crunching is pathetic. I'm sure you've inspired many to look elsewhere for liberatory thought.

fanboy

Can someone set RedStar up on a date or something?

redstar2000

"Your vision of Marxism as rigorous number-crunching is pathetic. I'm sure you've inspired many to look elsewhere for liberatory thought."

Of course I have...liberating "thought" from the degradation of grubby "number-crunching" (objective material reality) is always the goal of the true disciples of Hegel and other mystical "Prophet-Leaders".

Knock yourself out! LOL!

"Can someone set RedStar up on a date or something?"

Alas, I am too old. But as a thoughtful and well-considered response to what I've said, I really appreciate your generous suggestion.

friend of a friend

You're not just too old to date. You're too old to listen.

Sidenote: I had an interesting discussion several years back with a supporter of the Nation of Islam about the question of "prophet-leaders" in regard to the man of the many double-breasted suits, Louis Farrakhan.

He said, "don't black people need a prophet? Isn't it out time?"

I thought about that a lot, the wandering in the desert and the desire for a messiah who rises from the dunes to make the path clear. "God said we shall settle this new land" ala Moses.

Avakian wrote a great short piece about Moses that I read not so long ago that got me to thinking about that same point.

Leaders respond the needs and motion of the people or they are just analysts "crunching numbers." Leaders see the sweep and do, in fact, provide a path.

Communist leaders see that communist future in the capitalist present in all its ways and work to ground today's work in the "anticipative-indicative."

Prophecy? I think no. Leadership.

What amuses me is that RedStar thinks he's the smart guy, that most people are just stupid for believing all the wrong they inevitably do -- particularly when science has its own priesthood -- and THEN, to top it off, he embraces the most primitive and wrong-headed "super-mega-ultra democracy."

So, people don't need leaders because leaders sell us out, but people are stupid.

Result: Internet trolling and chronic disrespect of those actually building movements and parties on the ground.

He's got utopia in his wet palms.

fellow traveler

Leftclick responded with "Mao." to my query of what HM thinker or theorist predicted the restoration of capitalism in China or the USSR. What Mao predicted, late in his dotage was:

"Perhaps the right wing will seize power after my death. If they do this, then they will have a surprise. Since 1911, when the emperor was overthrown, a ractionary regime has not been able to hold China for long. If there is a right-wing, anti-communist coup de'etat in China, then I am certain that those elements will not know a moments peace."

Thirty years of power seems like a decent stretch to hold China however, and what Mao is predicting here is internal politics, not a lenghthy HM analysis. (Elsewhere Mao notes that the bourgeoisie is now within the Communist Party, complicating the whole communist/anti-communist schema.) HM doesn't account for the historical impact of individuals, like say the RCP's failure to account for Gorbachev's reforms in bringing about the decline of the USSR. Similarily, if Mao was such a skilled dialectician, why did he put his faith in a wuss like Hua Guofeng? No one can account for how character and individual action factors into historical time, let alone chance. HM is an educated guess, not a science.

What we have here, on this thread, is a failure of application. Some like burningman and nick, still see a value to HM analyses. OK, then, what does HM tell us about the collapse of communism? There could be no more vital question for the communist movement, a way to correct the errors of the past and provide a new vision for the future. Has anyone done this work? If not, then that would indicate a distinct lack of faith in HM to point out faults and potentials. What is a communist economy supposed to look like in the 21st century?

redstar2000

"I thought about that a lot, the wandering in the desert and the desire for a messiah who rises from the dunes to make the path clear. 'God said we shall settle this new land' ala Moses."

A declining sentiment in late capitalism, but still present in significant amounts.

So what's the COMMUNIST position?

Conjure up a "Red Messiah"?

Or TRASH that ancient (and stinking!) myth once and for all?

Well, we know what the "dialectical" option is, don't we? LOL!

"Leaders see the sweep and do, in fact, provide a path."

Yes, a "glory road" to...their own GLORY.

Wow! What a "liberating thought"!

"...chronic disrespect of those actually building movements and parties on the ground."

[SNIP - Flamebait and trolling are just not going to happen here, RedStar. If you insist on distorting other people's record and intentions, it won't be hosted on this site. —Burniningman]

the burningman

In the general interest of keeping lively discussion and not having each and every discussion side-line into the pet peeves of various participants, I'd like to bring everybody's attention to the "Rules of the Road and Check-in for Commentary" linked right under the Recent Comments on the left side of the site.

If you are a regular participant, you are free to post a self-description and contact information there, as well as browse the Rules of the Road.

Commenting is left open because just about everyone has been on their best behavior. A couple folks could try a little harder.

http://burning.typepad.com/burningman/2006/02/rules_of_the_ro.html

leftclick

redstar2000: number-crunching = objective material reality? nuff said.

fellow traveler: read some science books to find out how it's really done. I'd recommend stuff by Richard Lewontin, Stephen Jay Gould, Brian Greene, Lee Smolin to start. HM has a much stronger account of the roles of individuals than mainstream approaches. By situating individuals in relation to institutional forces, it provides a realistic and accurate account of historical development. The 'great man' theory of history of history still prevails which mysteriously assigns individuals the power to shape history through sheer force of will. If you reject HM and the great man theory, what do you have to offer? As far as HM analysis of the collapse of the USSR [to equate this with "communism" is to concede to Cold War propaganda], the debates have gone on since 1989 so don't imply that no one is dealing with it.

BTW aren't you really making that case that social science is impossible? No one expected the USSR to collapse: not Marxists, CIA analysts, US-based 'Sovietologists', not even Soviet leaders and citizens. Since no one was able to predict these events, it's really all just guesswork, no? Again, what alernative framework do you suggest?

a comment

there are challenges about the "level of debate."

You post an essay on dialectics -- cool. But some want to discuss "what is dialectics," Others in an obsessive way want to deny its existance, and some (for reasons they need to look in the mirror about) want to discuss (again) their distorted assessments of the RCP's line in the mid 1980s (!!)

That is complex, and unfortunate when you don't have threaded nesting (so that a dead end can be left behind).

One thing is that I hear awip is coming back (http://awip.proboards23.com and its threading will be a good adjunct and cross fertilizastion to discussions here.

For example: it is very bulky to post long quotes and articles here (other than by burningman)

But anyone can post them on awip, and then give the link here in the comments sections.

So i propose some synchronicity.

And on awip people can INITIATE THREADS (i.e. like on mass line) and then refer to it here.

and so on.

the burningman

Another World Is Possible is on the bounceback? Great news.

There's been a definite upswing with red blogs over the last few months, with many of the contributors to AWIP branching out a bit.

But blogs don't at all replace what a good discussion board can do.

Anyone know the timeframe for AWIP's lazarus?

a comment

Lots of people here have been asking for it. Maz, burningman, etc.

Here is the point: its there now, use it.

AWIP!

I'm not AWIP, but I second (third!) the sentiment to re-invigorate the AWIP discussion boards.

I've been enjoying this site, though. It's pretty. AWIP moderators got busy or something. For weeks garbage has been on the recent posts and little (if any) new stuff was being posted.

I'd suggest a general site re-vamp, aesthetically and in terms of moderation so people like me who've checked in from time to time see that it's really up.

a comment

make your suggestions for a face-lift on awip itself. Be specific. Submit graphics if you want.

this is gonna happen.

repeater

Chris said: "Aesthetics matter. The RCP has a style that can be frantic and, yes, apocalyptic. And I think that is an obstacle to thinking as clearly as possible. My reference to "canonical" was academic not religious, and was not a dig at Avakian but rather at the over-reliance on the Marx-Engels-Lenin_Stalin-Mao pantheon."

I can certainly see these tendencies in the RCP, but these are tendencies which I think spontaneously arise out of the situation and can be seen in many organizations. It seems to me that something that is missing from your summation is a knowledge of exactly where what you're suggesting is happening and has happened. It may sometimes seem that only the "canon" is promoted be it Avakian or "the heads", but there is a wide discussion and investigation of all kinds of thinkers and creations.

Anyway, I was more interested in understanding what, exactly, you're trying to get at by bringing in aesthetics. I'm interested in exactly how you understand this category and why "aesthetics matter", as you said. Frankly I agree with this statement, but I'm not sure why.

Certainly it can't be understood simply as "style", can it?

Christoper Day said: "My gut tells me that Christian Fascism IS a big danger AND that we have entered a period preganant with possibilities for social explosions, but it also tells me that the analysis of the nature of that danger and those possibilities presented by the RCP is two-dimensional, it doesn't really get at the connection between everday life and the theocratic turn of a wing of imperialism. That said I'm fucking glad they are putting the questions on the table."

I don't think "two dimensional" is the right term for it. It's pretty well-rounded, especially compared what else is out there. If anything I would say it isn't fully developed, perhaps it's significantly rough around the edges. I believe there are more radical ruptures to be made. In general I think things need to be viewed in the "anticipative-indicative" sense, as "friend of a friend" calls it. What is the RCP becoming? Where is it going? It is this dialectical viewpoint that allows me to be a partisan of a necessarily flawed organization.

the burningman

Regarding aesthetics, Suheir Hammad has a line in one of her poems from the CUNY struggle of 1995 that's something like:

Fascism is in fashion
but we be style.

Style; way in the world. What the effect is on other people.

Aesthetics and politics are deeply connected. Malcolm X, sharp authority, ferocious, intelligent.

Form follows function.

Fascism is in fashion
but we be style.

leftclick

Speaking of aesthetics, compare the speaking style of Malcolm X with that of the Black Panthers. Malcolm tended to use proper English and never cursed. The Panthers were more vernacular and had no problem with cursing. Not saying which is more valid, just an observation.

Christopher Day

Political line expresses itself in a variety of ways. It expresses itself in written documents and in utterances and this is often the form that is privileged in our discussions and is the easiest to respond to with a coherent logical critique. But the most important expressions of line are in other practices: how an organization behaves, how it actually conducts itself. How it popularizes its ideas, how its members relate to other people and organizations. (There is always some slippage between these expressions, but the degree of slippage is variable.)

Aesthetics, or style if you want, are one expression of political line that gets very little conscious attention among self-described revolutionaries. The RCP is actually better than most groups in the sense that there is clearly a conscious development of an aesthetic where some groups are lucky if their members don't have food on their shirts. Despite their differences both Malcolm and the Panthers understood the importance of style. And I think the RCP takes this to heart in a way say that WWP does not. But style isn't just about how you look, its about how you talk and the style of the RCP is, well, a little frantic.

more on this later...

leftclick

The interpretation of aesthetics is also a matter of line. You say "frantic" I say "urgent."

Christopher Day

Urgency may be the motivation, but franticness is, in this case, the effect. Conveying urgency without seeming frantic can be difficult, but it is critical to facilitating real substantive two-way discussion of what the situation is and what needs to be done to transform it. When the urgency of the situation is translated into the urgency of you doing what I think must be done it is hard to avoid an instrumental relationship between leaders and masses.

the burningman

Lord have mercy.

"Black jacket, brown shoes."

Frantic? I've seen it.

But.

You know.

Take ten members of any organization, put them in a room and define them by the one guy's characteristic that keeps you in the next room.

I've been in groups with ALL KINDS of issues. I have to say in all fairness, I'd trade opportunism and careerism for a little frantic urgentness just about any day.

Considering the broad culture of politico-passivity, and an all too common disrepect for passion (under the fashion totalitarianism of "cool"; cultivating an energy of doggedness is all right in my book.

Christopher Day

Of course if you think the cultivation of popular agency is just a petit-bourgeois semi-anarchist fixation on democracy without regard to its class content this isn't a problem. Except of course that it is, because it sabotages your every efffort to make a breakthrough with the masses.

the burningman

Moi?

Lurigancho

Well, all this raises another question as well. Is the urgency that the RCP feels the main source of the (often perceived) lack of interest in (genuine) dialogue with folks who disagree with them?

I would argue that both the line on democracy and a number of organizational lines that the RCP has are more the root of that sort of problem. (Which, as we can see from this discussion board, is obviously not universal with the organization, and in fact is counter to the stated politics of the organization, and yet, is a relatively common problem, and is in fact an expression of some lines the organization holds, even while it is contradicted by other lines, and people trying to uphold these lines end up bending one way or another, and this finds expression in their 'style', among other things.)

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