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Kasama

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March 20, 2006

Comments

snap judgements

This is a good letter, though I am concerned with the degree to which Bush's leadership is given precedence over the whole tendency and motion that has produced this "sharp turn."

It's been a constant motion my whole life, and the difference between out and out fascism and "business as usual" always felt like it was just a matter of where one was standing at any given moment.

Chile was fascist for decades, so was Spain and Portugal and Greece. So is China today.

When we pick and choose where to "draw the line" on bourgeois political orders, how can we not fall into the same lesser evilism that (I really do think) is responsible for the self-immolation of the left.

Delirium Tremens

Personally, the "Open Letter" phenomenon (really, more like the Chain Flame Email phenomenon) always manages for some pettiness. This one is less sectarian than usual, though who knows whether that's a function of WCW's open-mindedness or its smaller size. Still, it has its petty points. Going after NOW for organizing for going into April 29 without a call for abortion rights is just the kind of stuff ANSWER/TONC were doing with their own "Open Letters" against UFPJ for the past couple years (this whole period of pissy "You forgot Palestine!" (which apparently became ANSWER's answer to "You forgot Poland!") and their race-baiting over last year's anniversary demos.

Not that I am going to defend NOW and its liberalism and willingness to make unprincipled compromises with the Democratic machinery, but this attempt to make NOW seem as if it were bad just because it's co-sponsoring a march without having a Christmas list of demands around abortion rights just strikes me as a petty line of argument. It's reminiscent of Trot sects who arrive at whatever demo with some blanket condemnation of those who don't call for an immediate general strike. "[Fill in the name of the group] - running dog of capitalism!"

That such criticism only goes but so deeply in any one of these "Open Letters" is why they rarely, if ever, manage to persuade anybody to think differently. Because in the end, you can't fight liberalism with liberalism; the criticism has to be direct and not masqueraded behind the currently fashionable shibboleth (to use Stan Goff's term). NOW has been a prop of the Democrats, and barely utters a peep at the general heterosexism of the 2006 Democratic slate. Why not say it and be done with it, instead of beating around the bush?

You Forgot Poland!

Caling out NOW? Is that what this is? We could come up with a whole laundry list of reasons why that might be justified... I'd start with the fact that NOW barely exists as an acutal oragnization with visible campaigns, committed activists instead of a paper membership and a fundraising staff.

They are illegalizing abortion and NOW has literally nothing to do about it. Nothing. NOW doesn't exist.

But that's not what this open letter is.

The issue here with the WCW call seems to me anyway more about whether we are lining up forces to fight the right on an open field, so to speak, or putting "policy" at the center of our "critique."

Do we need to "focus on the war" or take on the war-makers?

This might seem like the same thing, but it is not -- and the implications for our work are real.

While the Right fights on all fronts, the Left denies it exists and cries that the Democrats don't fight for them (before throwing in the towel again come the next elections).

The situation with the national antiwar groups is critical.

I don't think they can be fundamentally transformed to better positions because they creatures of habits that seem immune to changes on the ground. I mean, totally immune.

It makes much more sense to DIRECTLY engage the communities (constituencies, bases, whatevers) than attending to these bureaucratic national (office) maneuvers.

Then I think, well, this is what is out there and these are the people who are trying. More, that the vast bulk of activists still await "dates" around which to mobilize in between very slow, if even moving "informational" or "service" work.

Yadadamean

I like the open letter. For revolutionaries and commies, criticizing UFPJ is easy. Didn't they campaign for kerry in 2004? Didn't they call for people to stay at home and yell at the TV screen during Bush's Jan. 31 State of the Union speech?

The more complicated issue is the ANSWER critique. As someone that works with WCW and has had to deal with ANSWER a number of times, this letter was right on. Here in the S.F. Bay Area, one of our biggest impediments is a static entrenched left -- think Richard Becker, Jeff Mackler, Medea Benjamin, Barbara Lubin, KPFA, etc, etc... On Nov. 2, we had this major youth-oriented non-profit (did someone say poverty pimps), writing open-letters of opposition to the walk-outs -- in the name of protecting the children, of course. None of the Left organized for that day, so we ended up with a small (3-4000 person) demo but with a lot of youth and new people and a tremendous energy and determination. Let's just say it was not a boring ANSWER saturday walk in the park, where each speaker representing each cause/ethnicity gets up and talks about why there should be more money for this or that and less for war. On Jan. 31, the Bay Area left actually counter-organized. ANSWER called a meeting for that night, Code-Pink went to a bar to watch the SOU, and UFPJ organized to stay at home! So we had another cool demo with 3-4000 people. But we need numbers if we are to actually drive out a regime.

ANSWER's two main reasons (from what they've told me) for not signing the call or organizing for WCW mobilizations (besides that unprincipled territorialism that they are famous for) are: 1)WCW's call does not mention Palestine. And 2)They think we're soft on the Democrats, like the open letter said, for targeting the "Bush Regime," instead of both capitalist parties equally.

I'd like to hear what other people have to say on the first point. It seems to me that making Palestine the central issue will get you the support of Palestinian and Arab nationalists (which ANSWER does seem to have) but doesn't really correctly reflect reality. The BUSH REGIME is the central issue and the Isreali pit bull is controlled by it, not the reverse. The WCW call also does not directly address the issue of racism (it does talk about a "culture of greed, bigotry and intolerance") or Haiti, the Philippines, Columbia, Venezuela, New Orleans, Labor, or any of the other issues on ANSWER's laundry list. Maybe if the call was longer, or if the world situation changed and Israel invaded Iran (for Bush), then we could add Palestine to the Call. But that brings me to the next point, which is that WCW actually deals with the current dynamics of the world, whereas groups like ANSWER (and the marches that they organize reflect this) have rhetoric and ideology that is static -- it doesn't reflect the dynamic changes that are taking place. Being at an ANSWER march, one would not know (from their own propaganda anyway) whether it was 1999 or 2006. The central issue is not Palestine or money for education instead of the military. The central issue is an ascedent Christian fascist Neo-Con program, a "new normalcy" as the letter put it, that is the driving force behind almost everything else. The fact is, since 9-11 the Bush regime and the democrats are not equal, as Answer, the ISO and others claim. One leads and has momentum, and the other follows. Whether Jesse Jackson signs the our Call or not, we are building an independent movement and the WCW propaganda against the trap of "relying on the democrats" is sure to pick up as we move into election season. WCW is much more engaged in the dynamism of the post-911 world. A major obstacle is the stonewalling of us by those that are not engaged with that reality -- and frankly, the objection to a new movement which would threaten their entrenched political machines, especially a new movement initiated by the RCP. And not to open a distracting can of worms, but the main reason the WCW is more engaged with the new reality is the RCP and Avakian's continuing analysis in Revolution Newspaper. This open letter was timely.

missing the mark

I think Yadadamean misses the mark on the critique of ANSWER.

Do you really want to uphold a supposedly comprehensive statement that doesn't mention Palestine and claim that the situation in Palestine is not a major factor and flashpoint in the post-911 world?

And by contrast you think that ANSWER is *wrong* about putting Palestine forward clearly and boldly and centrally? Ok, you can take that position but I don't think you're on very solid footing either in terms of basic anti-imperialism and internationalism, or in terms of understanding what the key issues and flashpoints are in the "post-911" world, whatever that means. You think only if Israel invades Iran, then Palestine would be important enough to add to the WCW call? That's, um, strange.

And referring to racism and "Haiti, the Philippines, Columbia [sic], Venezuela, New Orleans, Labor" as "ANSWER's laundry list" is a very liberal criticism of ANSWER's consistent and principled insistence on maintaining that the war on Iraq is not a "single issue" but is in fact tightly connected with all these other issues. Referring to anti-imperialism as a "laundry list" is a liberal critique usually heard from the more liberal or mechanical UFPJ supporters, not a radical critique.

And I think you're the most off base when you claim that ANSWER does not respond to the actual changes in conditions in the world and that all their marches sound the same whether it's 1999 or 2006. This could not be more off base. ANSWER was the *only* national force in US politics that was able to turn on a dime and call a national demonstration against the pending US invasion of Afghanistan on September 27, 2001. There had been a Latin America-focused mobilization planned for DC that day -- and all the other groups cancelled it when they didn't know what to do after 911. ANSWER changed the call to an anti-invasion of Afghanistan march and mobilized about 10,000 people to DC in a time when it was very difficult and dangerous to do so.

And after the attack on Jenin, it was ANSWER that was able to understand the deep nature of it and turn on a dime again, calling the largest demonstration for Palestinian rights in US history. The simultaneous UFPJ march, which was separate on teh grounds of supposedly needing to be more "broad" by ignoring Palestine, was smaller and way whiter than the ANSWER demonstration that prominently advocated for Palestine in the face of what happened in Jenin.

Basically what it comes down to is that ANSWER doesn't share the RCP's frantic "fascism" analysis (which I've never seen backed up by the RCP giving any clear definition of fascism or clear analysis of why it's in any section of the US ruling class's interest to move in that direction at this time, when they haven't felt the need to do so at times in the past when their rule was much more threatened, like in the 1930s or late 1960s).

So you can dislike ANSWER's approach if you like, but you are wide of the mark in the criticisms you make here.

srogouski

I think the RCP's position on the Palestinians is wrapped up in their position on "Christian Fascism" and on the possibilities for fascism in the USA in general.

The Christian right in the USA has always depended on a sense of victimization in its rank and rile. You could say a similar thing about the pro-Israeli lobby.

9/11 brought both these strands of the American right together and united them behind Bush's project of remaking the Middle East in the image of the United States.

The victims of the terrorist attack on 9/11 become one with the fetuses aborted under Roe vs. Wade and the victims of terrorism in Israel. The result is an upsurge of public opinion in favor of invading Iraq and giving Sharon free reign in the occupied territories AND for greater repression of dissent at home (and this would certainly include pro-Palestinian academics and lobbying groups).

But this is no more easy to translate into a demonstration than ANSWER's so called "laundry list". In the RCP's case, the tendency is to put up a broad issue (Bush should "step down") and this often leads to people questioning just what it means. In ANSWER's case, it means a "laundry list" and people know exactly what it means but after awhile they get bored and stop listening.

repeater

Palestine is not the primary conflict in the world or in the Middle East.

It is exactly in mistaking this that ANSWER and "missing the mark", miss the mark.

As Yadadamean said, Isrel is run by U.S. imperialism not the other way around. The conditions of struggle in the Middle East are set by the actions of the United States broadly. The invasion of Iraq and the program and imperialist forces at the head of it are primary. Both Israel and the Palestinians have to accomodate this situation.

Making the Palestinian struggle primary and what's worse a dividing line is not just a mistake, but, given the context, is liberalism as it spontaneously tales the pet issues of activists on the left, just like the rest of their laundry list.

If there was a true principle of national self determination and internationalism behind it you would see other national struggles in the region on the list, for instance the Kurdish national struggle.

But the Kurdish national struggle isn't popular among left activists.

The reality is that the "left", as it stands today, is just as much a part of the system as anything else. The slogan "End the War in Iraq, Bring the Troops Home Now" misses the mark as well, and is a dead give-away for something that acts as a pressure valve. Mainly because ending the War in Iraq is not going to be accomplished through yearly marches, and even if the War does "end" what's to stop the next war, and the next, and the next. The only saving grace is that the "left" doesn't seem to be connecting to the masses well enough to release any of the pressure, so more than likely it is still building up somewhere.

Laundry list or not, these organizations have been running the exact same program for three years, and despite public opinion being squarely in our favor the effectiveness of these programs and leaders has become less and less. Why would you defend these organizations?

Christopher Bitchens

The Kurdish national struggle isn't popular among leftists because Kurds are a people fractured several different ways, repeater. Or, to put it another way: look beyond the rhetoric about Halabja and Saddam "gassing the Kurds" and one can quickly see that the Kurds of that area acted on behalf of Iran against Iraq; the opposite was true in Iran, where Saddam funded Kurds to do his own dirtywork. Or, to go beyond that, look at how Kurds were effectively used against Armenians.

Let's flash forward to the present: a sizeable and wealthy Kurdish contingent across Iraq, Iran, and Syria actively works as proxies for Israel in engaging in ethnic cleansing attacks against Arabs in the Arab north -- this fact was established by the recent spy scandal wherein AIPAC was passing Pentagon intelligence on them.

None of this is to dismiss Kurdish nationalism as potentially taking on a revolutionary character. But to compare: Palestine has the support of the left, because the people of Palestine have shown again and again their nation will not be a coolie nation, and that its people will not be coolies for Sharon or the Tunisian exiles. Why should we expect less of the Kurds than we do of Palestinians?

Hopefully, a true national liberation front will take hold via PKK or CPI, but until then "support the Kurds" is as much a warmongering right-wing propaganda slogan as "support the Germans of the Sudetenland." Anyone who says otherwise has probably gotten drunk with Chris Hitchens one too many times.

lu

supporting the kurds can be just as revolutionary or just as reactionary as supporting the palestinians. if you tail either, especially if you tail their worst parts, that is reactionary. if you lead with truth and on that basis support them, that is revolutionary. naming each struggle going on in the world is not internationalism. objectively and subjectively supporting them and rejecting both U.S imperialism and reactionary nationalist/comprador forces is internationalism. And palestine is not actually a dividing line issue in whether fascism is advanced and consolidated or not. that is what world can't wait is about - the bush regime. the rcp on the other hand does have a clear, revolutionary line on palestine. Lastly, answer's role is exactly what is said in the open letter. this is not saying wcw are against them. that's pretty clear.

Alex

One prob here-

"Meanwhile, when candidates emerge who oppose the war and don’t hold back from a scathing critique of the Bush administration, they are labeled as "unpatriotic" and pressured to drop out of the race (just look at what happened to Paul Hackett)."

Hackett's main opponent in the US Senate race was one Sherrod Brown who also opposed the war in Iraq, called for withdrawal and has been the leading progressive voice in the house against "free trade".

Check the following-http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1565849280/sr=8-1/qid=1142987527/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-7919051-7951909?%5Fencoding=UTF8

Hackett was not pushed out for being too anti war.

trying to learn

"After Hitler, us." That was the old German CP motto when Hitler rose up, and while they half got their wish in the form of the GDR, the cost (and the result) were nothing anyone would want to duplicate.

The German CP refused to form an alliance with the Social Democrats, then when Germany illegalized the left, the CPs of the world under Soviet leadership adopted a horrendous policy of sacrificing the socialist aspirations of the people TOTALLY. See Spain, and after the war France, Italy, Greece, etc.

So...

It's hard. These are hard choices and the Democrats appear to be getting worse and worse. They rolled on Roe and the whole Supreme Court. It's done. They can't even muster a limp "censure" of Bush, with Feingold making a point, but hardly a stand.

The left needs to get organized. That's all I really know to say. Anyone not in an organization with responsibilities needs to join somebody and put their best foot forward.

If we're not in the game, on the ground, then we're just going to keep getting let down.

The Democrats will NOT change course... as a party. So if there are liberals, including politicians, that we can work with -- on our terms -- then so be it.

As for the national antiwar coalitions -- if they think the issue is "money for jobs, not for war" then they are fundamentally misreading the nature of the times, what will be an effective pitch for the millions -- and what the very nature of the fight is.

WWP/ANSWER can play anti-imperialist all day long, when they frankly have no priciples whatsoever. They had a split and nobody knows why. Why? Because it was about petty position bullshit and not politics. Their members are so well trained to do what they're told that they don't even care if they don't know why.

Their method is worse than dull -- it is stultifying. It isn't dynamic, doens't speak to anyone's aspirations -- only fear.

We must take the political offensive DIRECTLY against the centers of right-wing power.

We must maintain an independence of forces, through our own ARRAY of organizations and split the left-wing of the Democrats towards a more realistic, socialistic orientation.

But if we're not organized, far better than today, such an observation is only a wish.

Delirium Tremens

To "You Forgot About Palestine" - my point, if you'll read it, was not a defense for NOW. It is that criticizing NOW for not including abortion rights in an anti-war march is petty - it gives them more than enough room to shrug off the criticism. As such, this is using liberalism to fight liberals.

The formula of Unity-Criticism-Unity necessitates that criticism be both principled and to the point - so that we obtain both greater and *higher* unities. This Open Letter manages the former, it shys away from the latter. While I take it that this could achieve a greater unity with radical feminists in general, is it promoting a higher unity with them? Or does it just render abortion as a shibboleth?

Delirium Tremens

That should have been "To 'You Forgot Poland'" of course. Apologies for the confusion. Those responsible have been sacked.

repeater

To Delerium Tremens:

If you reread the section in question of the WCW call you'll see that the point is much bigger than simply criticizing UFPJ (they're not criticizing NOW per se) for not talking about abortion.

The criticism is of a political methodology that would forgo discussion of certain issues in accordance with Democratic electoral strategies, which are formed in reaction to the Bush Regime's general political offensive.

You could reread the section here:

"The point isn't simply to add the right to abortion (or other issues) to a list of demands, but that the whole program has to be resisted and stopped.

What's disturbing about the failure to include abortion in UFPJ's demands for this demonstration is not only that it is an urgent and necessary demand – which it is – but that the failure to include this seems already to indicate a direction of tailoring and shaping protest to the political terms being set by the Bush regime and the non-opposition of the Democratic Party leadership. Or at least by the dubious and dangerous proposition that the politics of mobilization and protest should be determined by what's deemed "elect-able politics" under the current political order."

Delirium Tremens

Point taken on the WCW taking on a broader set of criticisms. I maintain, at least, that succumbing to the stereotyped party writing of Open Letters - e.g., make a big issue out of a somewhat peripheral one - is by definition one that highlights the most petty criticism, compared to the criticisms we *ought* to make.

That is, why bother picking at UFPJ and its coalition partner NOW for having made a compromise that (strictly speaking in the context of a demonstration) is understandable, when the real problem is that UFPJ and NOW's leaders make *careers* out of making unprincipled sell-outs? One, it lets them off the hook. Two, it gives the incorrect appearance as if UFPJ and NOW's leadership only started selling out since 2004.

I can understand, to some extent, that this could be erring on the side of not trying to seem old fogeys -- and Lord knows after being yelled at by a PLP member on the correctness of their lines on World War II and Vietnam just this past weekend, I'm not in a mood to be lectured at -- but personally speaking, I don't see what's gained by acting as if ideas (incorrect ones as well as the correct) fell from the sky. Some problems are evergreen; reformism and tailism are just a couple. Our politics has been around longer, and is a whole lot bigger, than the question of whether Sherrod Brown or Paul Hackett gets the nomination. So let's act like it.

a comment

first point: i think there are many forces that need to 'come over" to an approach that takes on the 'whole program." And more forces need to see that this also involves "breaking out of the framework" defined by politics-as-usual and the two party system.

We need independent historical action.

Now much of the 'left" is stuck in other approaches. And so we need some debate and struggle to achieve clarity.

And it is also important not to think of ourselves (or define ourselves) in the context of some 'left ghetto".

I thought earlier comments (like "open letters are ok, but ANSWER did theirs and....") act as if we are in a chess game defined and confined to various 'left groups." That shouldn't be our approach or vision. In fact, i assume that many of the "left" groups will be very late to come onboard as things take off.

We need to have a "to the masses' approach -- that sees our audience and outreach interms of sectionsof the pepole (colleges, scientists, progressive preachers, people of the ghettos and barrios).

Again -- defining ourselves, measuring ourselves by this "left framework" would be defeat from the start.

the burningman

To "a comment" -- Yes... and no.

The "left framework" is important for many reasons, not least that (by my estimate) around 90% of radical activists are in that framework for a whole host of reasons.

Writing that off and assuming that people are simply "reformists" or "revisionists" or "anarchists" is a HUGE mistake.

Even when "activists" think they have a worked out understanding of what they're doing, most people are fairly open minded and open to transformation when it makes sense, when there's a clear choice.

I've spent much of my political life trying to build open, non-sectarian social movement formations (and support institutions) in order to bring people into conscious, political life for the first time.

The autonomy of these movement groups is a huge part of what gives the basic political education and experience that turns "activists" into revolutionaries. At best, anyway.

Without such groups, with such an orientation, I think we have a strong tendency to develop fairly isolated, self-reproducting organizations that don't meet their own stated goals.

UFPJ has hundreds of "member" groups -- and the WWP/ANSWER axis is filled with committed anti-imperialists who are learning a bad method from a sophisticated leadership that's committed to (what I see as) a losing strategy with a distorted vision of socialism (a la North Korea, etc).

Engaging people where they are at is NOT attacking them. It's just that, an engagement.

World Can't Wait should be commended for engaging in a real political discussion aimed at the many people trying to do the best they can while hemmed in by pragmatic illusions.

lu

ditto to burningman

a comment returns

I agree when burningman writes: "World Can't Wait should be commended for engaging in a real political discussion aimed at the many people trying to do the best they can while hemmed in by pragmatic illusions."

And perhaps it wasn't clear: my criticism of being stuck in a "left ghetto" was not aimed at them (at all!) or at their open letter.

On the contrary. WCW has not been stuck that way at all. And that became obvious at all their actions -- where what you heard from those precisely 'stuck" was "Where did all these people come from? Who ARE they?"

WCW tapped into the high school scene powerfully. And has made important inroads in other sections of people.

And it is understandable that (in the context of their overall correct 'to the masses' approach') they also reach out to left circles, to 'bring them along" and also to polemicize against the lines that dominate in those quarters.

Burningman writes: "The "left framework" is important for many reasons, not least that (by my estimate) around 90% of radical activists are in that framework for a whole host of reasons."

There is a milieu of activists (how "radical" they are is another matter -- I find most self-identified leftists to be rather un-radical). And they have some importance. They are not mainly where this movement and this revolution (two separate points) is going to find its core and its cadre.

So yeah, it is valuable to reach out to people who are active already in the left -- especially since they were rather disconnected from WCW actions previously from what I can tell. Part of the question is how, and another part is where are you focused and rooted, and how ambitious and accurate are your expectations?

Some people really think that the "left" has and represents the politically active and potentially active forces -- and that our politics is a process of resorting and winning over THOSE forces. It is a puny and self-defeating approach, that has embedded in itself the assumption that we really CAN'T do what WCW envisions doing. And that we really can't concevably make a revolution or reach the masses of people with revolutnary politics.

We we are going to make revolution -- it will not be mainly by recruiting and reshuffling the current ranks of "movement activists.' Though, we will hopefully win some over.

Much of that "left" is boring, isolated, cranky, ossified, and very very resistant to thinking and change. And we all know it. They are not our framework, or what we should measure ourselves against.

We are putting the van and BA up against this system and this regime -- those are the terms, frameworks and stakes we need to be thinking about.

Burningman writes: "Writing that off and assuming that people are simply "reformists" or "revisionists" or "anarchists" is a HUGE mistake."

This is a part of an ongoing discussion on this site. First, IDENTIFYING people as reformists or revisionists IF THEY ARE reformists and revisionists -- is not wrong, it is simply accurate analysis.

Identifying the politics of people is not the same as writing them off (and your equating of these two things is your problem, not mine.)

Who and where is this "writing off" going on? Certainly the RCP has both identified people (correctly) as anarchist, and united with them repeatedly and willingly. And NION worked with Leslie Kagan here in NYC, right?

There is a huge element of political expediency in the arguments i hear around this, "political truth," and instrumentalism.

In other words, it seems to be (from what i can deduce of your opinion) inexpedient to even use the concept "revisionist" (for who? the CP? the COC? FRSO?)

And, in such arguments, the truth of the matter doesn't even come up. Training people (including communist activists and the broad mass of active and awake people) to see the difference in where different roads LEAD doesn't seem that important in that approach. All that exists is the single focus on the "unity of the moment" (and potential unity).

Isn't it possible and necessary to both unite on many different levels AND train people from a communist point of view about where different politics lead?

There is importance to UFPJ because there are many people within their umbrella. But there is also an importance because the LINE of UFPJ is an important concentration of the ways that people are kept WITHIN the killing confines of bourgeois politics. Their politics (as with the CP historically, and its current incarnations) is to confine the politics of people to whatever is acceptable to the oppositional wing of the ruling circles.

Can't we both reach out to people who are still caught up in such politics and also sharply draw out the implications of the lines? In fact, how can we successfully "reach out" without also contrasting the lines and approaches?

Burningman writes: "I've spent much of my political life trying to build open, non-sectarian social movement formations (and support institutions) in order to bring people into conscious, political life for the first time."

I think this paragraph tells a lot. Because the expediency i discussed above is connected with a very very onesided concentration on this building of the social movements and focusing on the people not yet in motion.

And, important though those things are, they are not the whole picture by a long shot. There ALSO needs to be sharp struggle over the future, training of cadre as communists, wrangling over dividing lines within the social movements (which are certainly not inherenly "sectarian" things).

In other words, if ALL you can see is "we are small and we need to get bigger" -- then "the bigger you get and build will not be the bigger that the people of the world need."

We must also deeply think through the basis of movement, unity and politics -- so that in the end we don't just end up with "the biggest fastest social movement" but with a revolutionary movement that can shatter the system, and do something good with any historic opening.

Burningman writes: "The autonomy of these movement groups is a huge part of what gives the basic political education and experience that turns "activists" into revolutionaries. At best, anyway."

I may not be understanding what that means. But i suspect it isn't true. It assumes that becoming revolutionaries is some "organic process" (where "organic" means "without the leadership of the van and in particular its chairman Avakian.")

And that is not (and never had been) how it works.

Quemata

I think in El Hombre del Fuego's lingo, "organic" means "real," or "rooted among the people in their lived life."

All kinds of political lines can be "organic" whether or not they have a liberating potential. In fact, most often the organic ideas of the people are not progressive.

This is the challenge, putting the insisted (and insisted) singularity of Bob Avakian aside for the moment.

We could end up with a situation like in Cuba, where the people joke: "They said 'Socialism or Death!' We got both."

In other words, a hallmark of revisionism is disregard (distrust) of the masses and their "agency" and the development of a state capitlism where the people are proletarianized anew... this time by supposed communist parties instead of top-hat wearing capitalists.

a comment

we all know what the word "organic" means in the dictionary.

But in this political context, I have seen "organic" used over and over again as a new way of negating the subjective factor.

In other words, it is (once again) an insistance on a particular process being key, and in particular the insistance that it has to be a "bottom up" (and essentially spontaneous) process -- or else it isn't "real" (i.e. organic).

As for "hallmarks of revisionism" -- they come in many forms. Including populism. Or fixating on the things that "organically" emerge from the masses. (which as Quemata correctly points out are not at all inherently revolutioanry). Or the fascination with "everyday life" (at the expense of the sweep of class struggle and the historic tasks of this epoch). In fact, in revisionist state capitalism there were, just as in western capitalism, forms of bourgeois democracy to give the appearance of popular control, input and legitmiacy.

You have invented these terms "agency" and "organic" to promote some very old concepts -- previously called "worship of spontaneity" within the communist movement. Pointing out this fact is not itself a refutation -- the refutation requires actually digging into the lines, comparing and contrasting where they lead. But inventing new terms for very old ideological and political lines also needs to be pointed out.

And then there is an insistance that no one can point out that these are (in reality) no different from the ideas that have characterized economism and semi-anarchism for two hundred years. But I can point that out. And need to.

And there is, as Chris emphasizes, a whole generation that is not familiar with these things (and whose method and line reinforces that?). And so, inevitably, lines have to be struggled out anew in new contexts.

john

burning: "I think in El Hombre del Fuego's lingo, "organic" means "real," or "rooted among the people in their lived life."

All kinds of political lines can be "organic" whether or not they have a liberating potential. In fact, most often the organic ideas of the people are not progressive. This is the challenge, putting the insisted (and insisted) singularity of Bob Avakian aside for the moment."

ACtually the challenge is not mainly or simply "making it real."

The challenge is acctually carrying through the transition to communism -- through the "two humps" of seizing countrywide power country by country, and then changing what dominates human society on a world scale.

If you fixate on merely or mainly "making it real" (i.e. getting a base) you get into the onesidedness that makes Chris think that a lot of communist work is "bat-shit crazy."

Cuz if you think our main challenge is growing roots -- then you become fixated on what is palatable to "your community" (meaning the intermediate masses).

In fact there are challenges on many levels -- near term and far term. And linking the final goal with the actions of the present is (and will remain) the heart of the challenge -- making what the RCP calls "the living link."

If all you see is "organizing" and "outreach" -- then you miss all the other levels, and the complexity. You aren't really thinking of all the various levels we have to wage this struggle on.... and the complex tasks of consolidating and growing a party, an international movement, and actually struggling through (collectively) the rather acute theoretical questions of this moment....

And in fact, you end up not HAVING a party or durable organization. And so the prospects for making revolution seem unreal.

nick

different dividing lines....

These ar4e complex dynamics -- to both go very broad, and reach deep into the population. And how to do this in a way that actually contains the possibility of confronting and defeating this system.

We obviously don't want to adopt "whatever works -- whatever reaches people" -- cuz that is a recipe for disaster. And no one is arguing for that in quite that crude a way (though i thought there were some things running very close in the SDS thread!)

you say "If all you see is organizing and outreach..." and I find my self agreeing -- but also thinking that we need to affirm (and not just begrudgingly!) that the times demand and make possible some unprecendented organizing and outreach.


lu

i wanted to clarify, not as an affront to burningman, that my comment "ditto burningman" was meant for his last sentence, which i thought was very clear: "World Can't Wait should be commended for engaging in a real political discussion aimed at the many people trying to do the best they can while hemmed in by pragmatic illusions."

Red Guard

Two things:

1) WCW is not the same thing as the RCP. I observed a World Can't Wait national organizers gathing in NYC at the end of 2005, and while the RCP presence was open and engaged, it was not simply their line in play. There are a variety of local forces, with varying coalitions.

2) The RCP is a steadfast political supporter of the Palestinian resistance and has engaged in opposition to Zionism as such as long as I've known of them. The Revolutionary Worker, now Revolution, has never wavered in the slightest. They see Israel as a settler garrison of US, and European, imperialism.

The RCP taught me to respect Palestine on the deepest levels. It's where I, as a European American with little contact with Arab people, learned first learned the history of the region

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