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April 24, 2006

Comments

Leon Sphinx

Well, gee, that's real tough brotha, 'cause I don't have the time to find a full text of "Conquer the World" online, and I used up my last issue of Revolution when I ran out of toilet paper. Can anyone provide a link?

Searching for it though, I couldn't supress my giggle reflex enough over another Avakian title:
"Getting Over the Two Great Humps: Further Thoughts on Conquering the World"
The "Two Great Humps"? Bwah, hah, hah! What a limp joke: Avakian's jargon is pure self-parody, and the realization that this kind of dated Chinese idiom falls flat on modern ears never seems to sink in with the RCP drones. It's a good measure of their isolation and tone-deafness.

Here's a test cut between Avakianists and the rest of society: show someone with a high school education the title of "The 2 Great Humps" and see if they find it a clunker.

As to your comment about Robert Conquest, I may agree with you that he belongs on "the shelf" and I may not. What I propose is a simple question of epistemology.
1. How do you know whose scholarship to trust? Is it true just because all the footnotes say "Bob Avakian"?
2. Is my rap bourgeois psycho-babble, or is it a Trotskyite smack-down?

And before we start the arguments about historical verity, let me just add a personal note: My Grandmother, a damn tough and nastily clever survivor, was from Kiev.

srogouski

"My Grandmother, a damn tough and nastily clever survivor, was from Kiev."

My granmother was from Switzerland. Does that make me an expert on clocks?

scorchedEarth

Rarely have I seen anyone so loud and proud about being ignorant. Not only have you never read the work you criticize but your main source of 'historical verity' seems to be your grandmother from Kiev! Epistomology? Give us all a fucking break! And yes, your view of history is complete bourgeois bullshit, grandma notwithstanding.

I think another brother gave you too much credit for reading Robert Conquest - or even reading at all.

leftclick

Getting back to the topic, it looks like the monarchy has bought itself a little time, with no little help from the US. According to the NY Times, the CPN[M] has lifted the blockade at least until Friday. Anyone hear anything more?

Zhe-Li

I’m not sure what Leon Sphinx’s game is, whether Trot of Bourgeois, but it is very worth while to read “Conquer the World.”

http://rwor.org/bob_avakian/conquerworld/#section_I

I’m not sure, what another brother’s game is either, for Avakian does draw attention to the demoralization of the Soviet cadres as well as Stalin’s turn to Russian patriotism. That’s very clear:

“But what emerges from studying the Soviet Union in this period is the impression that by the middle ’30s and from the middle ’30s on, already large sections even among the advanced in the Soviet Union were confused, demoralized and somewhat passive politically. Somebody who became a renegade but had been a supporter of the Soviet Union at one point reported on the very sharp contrast between the earlier period of the ’20s and ’30s and the situation in around 1936. (Renegades’ observations are not always, and certainly not automatically, without any merit.) He called attention to the fact that earlier he had met people from different levels of leadership cadre as well as masses who had a lot of enthusiasm, fighting for the future, but after the mid-30s, especially among the cadre, all that he met were sycophants and cynics and most people were both. Unfortunately, regardless of the character of this particular person, I think there was a great deal of truth to this; this in fact was becoming a more and more predominant pattern particularly among the cadre. And this links up with developments in leadership and leading lines.”

An excellent book, though quite depressing, is Sheila Fitzpatrick’s “Everyday Stalinism”. Unlike the Pipes/Conquest terror-as-a-psychopathic-spasm-and-if-you-don't-believe-that-you're-a-revisionist school, Fitzpatrick is more focused on Stalinism at the common level. How it was brutally maintained and what its demoralizing effects were. Avakian, for his part, emphasizes the resurgence of Russian chauvinism as part of Stalin’s “patriotic’ strategy during World War 2:

“To put it in a nutshell, World War 2 on the part of the Soviet Union, was fought on a patriotic—that is bourgeois-democratic—basis. It has to be said here that Red Papers 7 is wrong in the way that it upholds the necessity for conducting the war on this basis; in fact it was not necessary nor correct to conduct the war on a patriotic and a bourgeois-democratic basis. But this was the logical extension of wrong views, lines and policies and the generally wrong orientation that had been adopted and which led overall to the growing strength of the bourgeois—largely new bourgeois—forces within the Party and the state at the same time that concessions were made to the old bourgeois forces within the Soviet Union, including among the peasantry—and especially in Russia, because the Russian nationality was singled out as “first among all” Soviet peoples by the end of the war.

There was all that stuff about Ivan the Terrible coming on top of Alexander Nevsky and on and on which were such grotesque expressions of this in the cultural sphere. And all of a sudden all these old priests are lumbering out again; after being correctly put to slumber, they were allowed to come out with their medals and icons and robes and obscurantism; these and all sorts of things represented, reflected and were part of the attempt to mobilize the nation on a bourgeois-democratic basis, on the basis of Russian patriotism, overwhelmingly. And internationalism was flushed down the drain on a pragmatic and nationalist basis in order to defend the nation and beat back the attacks on it at all costs.”

But enough of that debate. What is most relevant to the thread that started this all is the following warning from part II of Conquer the World:

http://rwor.org/bob_avakian/conquerworld/#section_II

Avakian says:

"By that I mean that in today’s situation Leninism is the key link in upholding and applying Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought. To put it somewhat provocatively, Marxism without Leninism is Eurocentric social-chauvinism and social democracy. Maoism without Leninism is nationalism (and also, in certain contexts, social-chauvinism) and bourgeois democracy. Now those may sound like nice little axioms but they apply, and have real importance, and this is, in my opinion, a summation from experience of some phenomena that exist in the world and around which there must be deeper struggle."

Is this the danger we’re seeing in Nepal, that without a LENINIST revolution, we’re left with a Maoism that is nationalist and bourgeois democratic?

nick

"BM, you reference the "pathbreaking" "Conquer the World?", which some other recommendations in discussions on this site prompted me to check out-- what is it that is so pathbreaking about this piece? As far as Stalin is concerned...

"Which path was broken with this essay? Is the main thing the perspective that "line is decisive" in determining whether a society is socialist?"

This is an important question you raise, that needs to be gotten into from a number of sides.

I think the discussion has "gotten off the track" a little, in that (for some reason) it is focusing merely and mainly on the discussion of how to evaluate the Stalin period.

Let me list a few things that are important to put into perspective when you talk about CTW:

1) This work was written after four intense years where Avakian had fought to defend "Mao's immortal contributions" and lay the bases for regrouping the world's Maoist forces ON A REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNIST BASIS.

2) CTW is a work that takes a huge leap -- not simply calling for the uniting on the basis of Mao's revolutionary developments -- but fighting for the beginnings of a new synthesis and leap.

3) Avakian himself recently described CTW as the beginning of an epistemological break (clearly with a great deal of the thinking, methodology and philosophy that had characterized much of the preceding communist movement, including its most revolutionary currents.)

4) What stands out about the work (and what was shocking to people at that time, and what is still controversial about that work), is that it took a scientific approach to science. It viewed EVERYTHING as contradictory (even the works and approaches of leading communists that Avakian was upholding.)

5) In other words, one thing that was shocking at the time was not just that Avakian criticized stalin -- but that he "divided one into two" on Marx, Lenin and Mao as well. His stand on the revolutionary communist forces and socialist periods of the past was (as is now described as) "boldly uphold, while boldly criticize."

6) On many points, Avakian is putting forward almost-startling theses while weaving them together, systematically and coherently, as a new synthesis -- based on an all sided scientific approach to the world around us (including to the communist movement of the past and present).

7) On the question of approach -- the opening discussion on the Paris Commune sharply applies a method that shows the relationship of theory and practice -- how the struggle of the people, the creative results of revolutioanry attempts, and then the positive and negative outcomes of the struggles, provided a basis for theoretical approaches (some starting primitive, often dividing into two, deepaneing and developing.)

8) Almost every page of this work is a fight for a radical new approach to internationalism -- a rupture with all kinds of assumed nationalism among communists (bundism and revoltuionary nationalism of the oppressed, and even imperialist chauvinism and patriotism among first world communists.)

This is a view that resurrects Lenin's (far better and earlier) approach to internationalism (during World War 1) and then synthesizes a new leap in understanding -- how to see the national liberation struggles of the colonial world, in the context of the INTERNATIONAL and INTERNATIONALIST struggle of the proletariat (as a historic class) for communism on a world scale. The contradiction between the fact that struggles in the world are often "country by country", while the proletariat as a class is international, and can only liberate itself by abolishing borders.

9) On the Stalin question, there is a profound question of method that needs to be dug into -- and which the preceding discussion neglects. While Avakian has been quite sharp and deep=going in his approach to the Stalin era (and CTW was only the "opening shot" of a series of works that were unsparing in their critical content) this is on a very different basis than is commonly promoted in other quarters. Avakian digs into the objective contradictions faced by the revolutionaries in the USSR (war, encirclement, postponement of revolution in Germany and the rest of Europe, backwardness of the Soviet agriculture inherited from Tsarism etc.) -- and then (IN THAT CONTEXT) looks at the line and method with which the communists approached it.

And he puts his finger on an important problem -- that when the proletariat has a state, and a country, it no longer has "nothing to lose but its chains." Suddenly it has something to lose -- a country -- which is an important base area for the world rev. And there emerges a contradiction -- between the real and immediate interests of the proletarian state (as a state in the world), and the larger interests of the proletariat as an international class.

He points out that the Soviet party (and stalin) acted as if there was no contradiction -- as if these two things were simply identical.

And you get a key part of the method that Avakian is fighting for (then and now) -- to identify contradictions (that are real and material) and then deal with them as contradictions. To look the reality in the eye, and then fight for the correct resolution (based on looking at the most far-sighted communists interests of the people, not on the short sighted defense of this or that).

There is much much more in this work...

Personally, I think it is one of the most historic and far-reaching works of communist theory. It is worth reading for its method alone -- how does it identify what are the questions to deal with, how does it approch evaluating things, how does it apply dialectics to complex and knotty problems, how does it work to unravel things (going at them "from many sides") -- in ways that don't at all deny the real complexity of reality, and that doesn't deny the ability of human beings to understand and transform it all.

All that I have written is just an opening shot. But I hope it helps this thread get on a different path.

I will also post this on awip.proboards23.com and perhaps a threaded message board is a better place to actually get into all this.

Leon Sphinx

sirgouski:
"My granmother was from Switzerland. Does that make me an expert on clocks?"

If your grandma was a clockmaker and she schooled you in the craft you might know a thing or two about clocks. And if you grew up with your Bubushka telling you of her many relatives annihilated during collectivatization, or her firsthand ecperiences of Stalinist Horror in Kiev, then you might know a thing or three about Stalinism. Any of you have a relative that grew up behind the iron curtain? I'd be curious to know.

scorchedearth:

"Rarely have I seen anyone so loud and proud about being ignorant. Not only have you never read the work you criticize but your main source of 'historical verity' seems to be your grandmother from Kiev!

Epistomology? Give us all a fucking break! And yes, your view of history is complete bourgeois bullshit, grandma notwithstanding."

If you actually bother to read my first post you'll see that I'm quoting the commentator r graves, not offering my own analysis, which I freely admit: note the "quotation marks".

It would be nice if Buby Akimova were around to kick your ass, but since she's not, I can deduce two things:
1. You're dodging the question of epistemology 'cause your real nervous. My familial and extended social experience makes me give greater credence to scholars who report on a history similar to what I've heard from relations. Who are your sources? Bob Avakian? Do you deny the Holocaust as well? Maybe you consider that as Western bourgeois history as much as the President of Iran does.

2. You don't have a relative who experienced the kind of Hell that my relatives did. How many Hungarian Stalinists have you met? Ever talk to a bunch of ancient Ukrainian emigres about the good old days?

3. Like most Maoist poseurs, real communist history is quite removed from you. It's something you glean not from firsthand accounts, or scholary text, but from issues of Revolution. I've noted that this is particularly American phenomenon, usually suburban, were college kids don't have roots to the old country.

So then, how do you know that my history, my family, my experience and reading is all bullshit and you've got the REAL TRUTH? Go ahead and answer if you're not afraid.

Zhe-Li:

"I’m not sure what Leon Sphinx’s game is, whether Trot of Bourgeois, but it is very worth while to read “Conquer the World.”

No need. I'm not interested in playing your game: your quotes are enough. These are just the sort of queasy evasions that I was talking about, that r graves mentioned. So, now that it's 2006, Chairman Avakian can FINALLY admit that some really nasty shit went down under Stalin, but, on balance, it was really for the best as the "correct position" at that time? It was correct because it established the material and conscious conditions that led to . . . well, ahem, cough . . . led to . . . .the collapse of communism actually. Yeah, that's an argument that's really going to fly with the masses. What a loser. Your cult is led by a loser.

srogouski

I don't give much weight to "appeals to authority" like this.

"And if you grew up with your Bubushka telling you of her many relatives annihilated during collectivatization, or her firsthand ecperiences of Stalinist Horror in Kiev, then you might know a thing or three about Stalinism. Any of you have a relative that grew up behind the iron curtain? I'd be curious to know."

It makes about as much sense for me to say that because my grandparents grew up (poor) under capitalism during the Great Depression I have some kind of special authority to condemn capitalism.

Really, what have all those Russians who grew up under Breshnev's Russian given the world in its place? What has their "experience" with Communism led them to build?

To me it looks like a corrupt oligarchy ruled by organized crime.

scorchedEarth

Leon Sphinx, I don't know anything about your family and never claimed to but I do know that personal experience as the final word on history is bullshit and not even worth the effort to justify.

No I don't deny the Jewish Holocaust but according to your methodolgy I should: after all, I'm not Jewish and don't personally know anyone who went through it.

What I don't understand is why you bother reading scholars [do you, or do you just read titles?] if you know everything from personal conversations.

Leon Sphinx

srogouski:
"It makes about as much sense for me to say that because my grandparents grew up (poor) under capitalism during the Great Depression I have some kind of special authority to condemn capitalism."

Well they'd be right, wouldn't they? Capitalism was worth condemning during the Depression, as if you didn't know. Your analogy is inexact and a bit dumb. Here' a better one: If your grandparents grew up poor during the Depression and some revisionist or fringe historian was claiming that the masses did just dandy -- that they were all actually living high on the hog --in the US during that horrible time, then you'd have some authority to declare otherwise. Your grandparents would have told you different. Experience counts, for it is "social being that determines . . . consciousness."

"Really, what have all those Russians who grew up under Breshnev's Russian given the world in its place? What has their "experience" with Communism led them to build?"

People of that generation grew up under an exhausted ideology and with parents who were traumatized by Stalinism. While not as bad, it was an ugly and repressive place and the people I've met from that generation have a real yen for American rock n' roll. You prove my point.

Comandante Gringo

I'm not interested in rehabilitating Stalin either. Whatever is objective about Komrad Joe's rule, it is not my belief that all that happened was mechanically inevitable. Certainly not desirable, this regime in its wanton criminality and brutality. AFAIC another, far better path was possible -- within the severe material limits imposed upon the Soviet Union by its surrounding reality. And I'm not much more interested in Mao either -- though his praxis and theorizing has, IMO, its objective uses and lessons for all of us, tho' nowhere on the same level at all of Lenin or Marx or Trotsky, etc.

In my view, all marxist leaders, good, bad or ugly, have their entries in both the plus and minus columns of that Big Marxist Ledger Book... However, I came here to this particular blog to find out about what's going on in Nepal, first; and something about where the RCP is at, second. And I must also say that I'm not yet too impressed with Dear Komrad Leader Avakian, having read just enuff of his/your maoist stuff to see that it's not so different from what has come before.

That being said: I sure hope Komrad Bob is getting somewhere with his New & Improved Thought, because we all need a smarter maoist movement in North America (since it's not going away simply if we ask it to).

So by all means: if Komrad Bob and the RCP have something unique to contribute to the praxis of the world revolutionary Movement at this juncture -- then let's have it. But anything unique and valuable to the world working-class coming from the RCP should also be able to stand the Test of Fire of polemic and praxis -- if it has objective legs and can stand on its own. And if not -- then let us find that out ASAP, so we can dispense with further maximalist nonsense and get on with the task from some other angle.

And so far, I'm not liking what I see, eh? -- no matter that Avakian might have twigged to a good ideer to two or three. Prachanda and Bhattarai, however... they and their Party and Movement are another matter entirely.

srogouski

You haven't met my grandparents because they've never condemned capitalism. So this is meaningless.

"Well they'd be right, wouldn't they? Capitalism was worth condemning during the Depression."

On the contrary, my grandparents, while never saying a word about capitalism, spent a lot of time condemning blacks, immigrants, and Jews. They were racists.

So that valuable experience with poverty that I never had only taugh them to say "nigger".

The experience my grandparents had during the depression and their lack of formal education only warped them and left them unable to understand what they had gone through.

And this quite honestly is so unclear it looks like a simple attempt to dodge the question.

"People of that generation grew up under an exhausted ideology and with parents who were traumatized by Stalinism. While not as bad, it was an ugly and repressive place and the people I've met from that generation have a real yen for American rock n' roll. You prove my point."

(and this is such an absurd sounding line it sounds as if it came right out of that old Robin Williams movie "Moscow on the Hudson")

So what has their "yen for rock and roll" led them to build?

To me it looks like a gangster oligarchy where the life expectency is lower than it was under Communism and where a staggering number of people have Aids.

What's the legacy of the end of Communism in Russia?

Dean Chechans
Russiam mail order brides for American losers
Aids
Poverty
And a country ruled by a gangster class that makes Michael Corleone look like Gandhi.

leftspot

I was just reading over Mao Zedong's essay "On Coalition Government" ( http://www.marx2mao.com/Mao/OCG45.html )

It's an interesting thing to read and think about what's going on in Nepal. I'd bet that CPN(M) has read it carefully.

scorchedEarth

BTW Sphinx, if you bothered to read you'd know that Avakiian wrote Conquer the World in 1981 so he did not just get around to it.

la lucha sigue

Next!

leftspot

Now the CPN(M) starts building openly in the Capitol. Interesting!

-----------------

http://www.kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=72138

Maoists to hold mass meet in Capital

Kantipur Report

KATHMANDU, April 27 - Maoist rebels are to hold a peaceful mass meeting in the capital on Friday.

According to the Maoist sources the rebels will take out a rally before converging into a mass gathering at Khullamanch in Kathmandu tomorrow at 12 noon.

The sources added that the Maoist aligned All Nepal National Independent Students' Union - Revolutionary (ANNISU-R) will conduct the meet.

The country is at considerable ease after Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala promised that the reinstated House would include constituent assembly elections as the main issue in its working agenda.

Earlier in the week, Maoists had called for a series of programmes including the blockade in the Kathmandu valley and all the district headquarters of the country expressing dissatisfaction on the Seven Party Alliance’s (SPA) decision to welcome the April 24 Royal Proclamation.

The rebels however, called their protest programmes off and declared a three months unilateral ceasefire after requests from Koirala, who has been named seven-party alliance's candidate for the post of the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, the first session of the reinstated parliament is also slated for Friday where SPA has already decided that all "regressive" decisions taken by the royal government after Oct.4, 2002 will be declared null and void besides making the announcement of constituent assembly elections.

Posted on: 2006-04-27 00:05:57 (Server Time)

the burningman

I have been trying to write an article on events in Nepal for the last week... but every time the draft is down -- events on the ground force me to rip it up.

Imagine the complexity the revolutionaries face on the ground in navigating some deeply treacherous waters, the conflicting aspirations of the Nepalese people -- and the increasingly open manipulations of the USA, in the person of Amb. James Moriarty.

scorchedEarth

Leon Sphinx writes: "You seem a bit dense on context, so let me do it for you one more time: Your grandparents are/where racists, right? So let's say that Dinesh D'Souza, or Charles Murray, or some other conservative racist writes a propaganda work that claims that American racism was totally exaggerated during your grandparent’s era, that it really wasn't deeply held by even small segments of the population. Based on YOUR personal family experience, you'd claim that was bullshit, right?"

Uh no that's just fucking idiotic Personal experience MIGHT only invalidate the first claim but the second claim cannot be invalidated this way. There are small pockets of Russians who lived throught the Stalin years who sitll think he's great. In pictures of Russian demos post-1991, there were peole carrying pictures pf Stalin and, no, there was no evidence that they were hard line apparatchiks longing for the good ol' days [although you can believe that if you want]. This means nothing about how we evaluate Stalin unless you think history should be written by opinion polls.

"For similar reasons, my friends with parents and grandparents who survived the Holocaust have no tolerance for Holocaust deniers, and I can't stomach fringe "scholars" who try to soft-peddle Stalin's crimes."

Friends and fmaily? It looks like you can't stomach any scholars at all.

"I can't make it any more simple for you."

Oh sure you can make it much simpler and much more simplistic. But can you be less long-winded?

[[NOTE FROM THE BURNINGMAN: Please don't bother with obvious flamebait. Just pass it by. This site is moderated and trolls get removed. Leon Sphinx was posting disinformation and generally reactionary bullshit and is not welcome on this explicitly communist discussion board. A diversity of opinions are welcome, provided they are offered in dialogue and good faith... which is clearly not what our anonymizing fried is up to.]]

leftclick

WTF?

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/N/NEPAL?SITE=COBOU&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Comandante Gringo

I'm not only wondering where the riddler Sphinx is now; I'm also wondering what happened to Yakov Smirnoff ("On Burningman you don't get Riddle of Sphinx... Riddle of Sphinx gets YOU!)
;P

I'd also like to point out that -- like so much of infighting and misunderstanding amongst marxists -- the problem here with personal experience vs. 'objective' knowledge _really_ lies with the complete lack of an understanding of the logic -- and concrete praxis -- of dialectix, generally. Just because people are self-declared marxists, doesn't mean they know diddly-squat about dialectical thinking. And that's no small matter, really.

And now is indeed the time for the maoists to move, en masse, into the political life of the cities of Nepal. And keep their guns handy too. And to not let up any pressure in the countryside: that's how Nepal got to where it is now, in the first place. One doesn't throw away one's trump card because the enemy with the poor hand to play wishes you to...

And if the SPA doesn't immediately and transparently arrange the logistix of a Constituent Assembly -- they must pay for it, politically.

I sure hope youse guys can keep on dredging up timely & cogent info on these developments. We rely on youse!
;>

Ananta Adhikari

Maoist of Nepal helped a lot to eradicate kingship. They have come to the main stream politics but they havent given up terrorising the people. They cheated and won election. Everyday they abduct,kill civilian. I dont feel happy being a communist because of the Maoist of Nepal, they are not communist at all.

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