Rules of the road

Kasama

On the Shelf

« Nepal: Dual Power, High Stakes | Main | You may be a communist! »

June 20, 2006

Comments

Gregory A Butler, the mainstream communist

Hi, folks..

Its me again...

One of the posters above made the following statement:

"The Maoists are joining the government in Nepal in a position of strength, it would appear."

Now, that is what I mean when I say 'left wing popular frontism'

Let me break it down..

1. The Kingdom of Nepal is a capitalist state (a third world capitalist state, but a capitalist state nonetheless) Nepal, like most third world goverments, is also a dictatorship... they have a very repressive police force and army, and lots and lots of folks locked up in prison on political charges ...

2. One of Nepal's several maoist parties apparently is JOINING THE GOVERNMENT (for those unfamilliar with parliamentary/constitutional monarchy type goverments - that means they are becoming part of the administration)

3. Let me reiterate that... there will be COMMUNISTS actively involved in the administration of a capitalist state...

4. What does that mean in practice? Well, in France in the early 1980's, it involved the Minister of Transport (a communist) having to order the French Army to break a railroad strike...

5. There are lots of other examples of this... the German Social Democrats taking over the German capitalist state in 1918 after the Kaiser fled the country, and then unleashing the German Army and Police against the Communists (that's how Rosa Luxembourg died... Socialist Berlin police officers arrested her, knocked her over the head with a pipe, and then gave her to the Freikorps - the predecessors to the Nazis - so they could throw her unconscious body in the Spree Canal to drown)

6. Of course, those are BAD things that any real communist would oppose wholeheartedly..

6. But, when you become a part of the administration of any capitalist state, that is what will happen... the rulers will expect you to help them repress the working class...hell, thats the only reason the capitalists ever want communists in their goverments in the first place!!!

7. Therefore, the Nepalese communists entering the Royal Nepalese government will, sooner or later, end VERY BADLY for the Nepalese working class...

8. Worse yet, this comes in the midst of a revolution in Nepal... despite the fact that the possibility of fighting for an actual working class-ruled state is a possiblity, the Nepalese communists have already decided that they will ask for nothing more than an elected parliament (hell, they aren't even asking for a republic instead of a monarchy - and this is a country where the king got on the throne by HAVING HIS NEPHEW KILL HIS BROTHER, THE PREVIOUS KING... the king's whole family also got machine gunned to death along with the previous king)

9. In other words, yet another scenario where communists had a chance at going for the whole ball of wax... and instead decided to, objectively, prop up the current ruling class at a time when they were on the edge of overthrow....

That folks, is revisionism... and left wing popular frontism is one of the main symptoms of that political disease...

Lu

principles, method, approach, stance, - these things are all very important to people who want to understand reality and change it.

srogouski

Re:

"Will the new site feature content that is not related to arguing about the RCP and Bob Avakian?

That would be cool. I'd like to be a part of THAT!"

Well, you chose not to particpate in the thread about the Christian right and to watch the Spartacists and their supporters try to hijack it and turn it into a debate on Bob Avakian, but I'm game for a non-RCP discussion.

How about Mexico.

I found this artice on Indymedia this morning.

http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2006/06/71856.html

And I remember 1988 well, especially a an editorial that ran sometime during that year (and if I get a chance I have to look it up and track down the exact phrasing) which said "we had to steal an election in Mexico to preserve "democracy".

It's amazing that the stolen election of 1988 and the coming election this year NEVER ENTERS INTO ANY MAINSTREAM DISCUSSION ON IMMIGRATION. Most Americans know more about Iraq or even about Nepel than about the authoritarian state right on their southern border.

Will the Mexican ruling class try to steal the election this year?

And do these neo-nazi/minuteman/white power dickheads who are planning to protest Revolution Books have a clue that stuff like this is going on?

http://www.villagevoice.com/blogs/powerplays/archives/002689.php#more

the burningman

What is happening in Nepal?

I'd wonder about that one.

In fact, I'm setting up an open thread on that as well.

Klement

Just an aside on the RCP and what the burningman called "the cut" that was affected by its previous position on homosexuality. I'm going to digress into some generalizations here... I also think that RCP in part maintained its position for so long (much longer than the great majority of individual members held the position "personally") because it provided a dividing line with liberals. Cadre would maintain that it "wasn't a dividing line issue," and that for those who are really committed to revolution, this line, if disagreed with, would be of secondary importance to RCP's overall revolutionary line.

I have always believed this to be the case. It was a "cut" that served to reinforce RCP's rejection of identity politics, the various trendy brands of leftism common in the imperialist countries.

The problem is that it made it objectively very difficult for homosexuals to unite with the RCP. In fact, it was the position that a homosexual could not be a party member. That is more than a "cut," it is a rejection of unity with homosexuals. At least that's how I eventually took it...

the commentor

I just have to say that this whole theory of "a cut" is, imho, bogus.

It is a theory that assumes (at root) that the RCP adopts its political positions for instrumentalist reasons -- i.e. because they like the effect (or because they anticipate a particular effect) from having that position.

And, though their theory and practice on this has been less clear in the past than now, I don't don't doubt for a second that the REAL reasons for their positions is very different: I.e. they take political positions and adopt particular analyses because they think this is correct (i.e. this is what corresponds with reality, and what corresponds with moving along the communist road.)

Why did they hold their previous political position on homosexuality? Because that is what they thought.

And, in fact, the "effects" of that position were not particularly advantageous for them (despite BM's inventions about a desired "cut" or whatever.)

In fact, this idea of a "cut" (i.e. of an instrumentalism for adopting controversial positions) is SO SO distant from how the RCP "does business" -- that I find myself wondering: Is this really how you think communists operate? Is this cynical view of ideas and of people really how you think communists approach important matters? And (forgive my bluntness) is this perhaps how you (BM and Klement) approach ideas -- putting on one idea 'cause it suits you at the moment, and putting on another one when that becomes convenient?

the commentor

I just have to say that this whole theory of "a cut" is, imho, bogus.

It is a theory that assumes (at root) that the RCP adopts its political positions for instrumentalist reasons -- i.e. because they like the effect (or because they anticipate a particular effect) from having that position.

And, though their theory and practice on this has been less clear in the past than now, I don't don't doubt for a second that the REAL reasons for their positions is very different: I.e. they take political positions and adopt particular analyses because they think this is correct (i.e. this is what corresponds with reality, and what corresponds with moving along the communist road.)

Why did they hold their previous political position on homosexuality? Because that is what they thought.

And, in fact, the "effects" of that position were not particularly advantageous for them (despite BM's inventions about a desired "cut" or whatever.)

In fact, this idea of a "cut" (i.e. of an instrumentalism for adopting controversial positions) is SO SO distant from how the RCP "does business" -- that I find myself wondering: Is this really how you think communists operate? Is this cynical view of ideas and of people really how you think communists approach important matters? And (forgive my bluntness) is this perhaps how you (BM and Klement) approach ideas -- putting on one idea 'cause it suits you at the moment, and putting on another one when that becomes convenient?

Klement

Commentator - I do not think that communists *should* operate in this manner. I believe that this was a case of a mistaken method adopted by the RCP prior to 2001. I am not saying it is good or should be upheld. You are right to oppose this method because it's pragmatism.

If one reads the 1988 RCP paper on homosexuality in the Revolution magazine, it sounds like an apology os sorts - a way to modify the 1981 program statement on homosexuality without doing so.

I'm relaying what I thought about the RCP's motivations in taking so long to actually disavow the statement.

the commentator

i understand what you are saying.

My rely is that i don't believe that it is FACTUALLY correct. The RCP did not use (or want to use) their position on sexuality to create an arbitrary and artificial "cut" against other trends.

And (if you think about it for a second) there are deep, principled and very real differences between communist and non-communist left trends. There is no need to invent a "cut" of the kind you speculate about.

The eighties were a time of rampant identity politics, rampant pro-sovietism, an extremely narrow "movementism" that could not see beyond nicaragua (even while World War was on the agenda! and the Nicaraguan fighting was a proxie front of a far larger confrontation)... and so on.

Again, the idea that the RCP "clung" to a position because it was "useful" to them as a cut: it is your own personal invention, and it is not actually what went down.

And if you want to know what were "the RCP's motivations in taking so long to actually disavow the statement" i would suggest that you start with their statements on that (not merely to inform yourself, but also to give you something to critique.)

In the Conversations book with Bill Martin, Bob Avakian gives a quite revealing discussion of this -- about how people come to critically examine and break with previous view, and what triggers that.

In particular, he points out the larger fight against reductionism of the old communist movement (a fight that intensified as the RCP sought to sum up mechanical thinking they had had about the questions surrounding world war).

In other words, struggle against mechanical thinking in one arena, led to some methodological breakthroughs that led around to rexamining lines and positions in other areas.

If you read that, you get (i believe) a clearer sense of what really went down -- and also the ways in which the struggle around homosexuality was tied to a larger struggle for an epistemological break, and for what is now being called a new synthesis of communist theory.

proposal

let's open commentary on the name of the coming discussion site (assuming that it is part of an online community and our opinions will be of interest.)

Red Flags is ok as a name, but not really very biting or sharp.

I was thinking that a place called "The Backbone" may actually raise a challenge of "what is needed."

Any other suggestions?

I was also reading the book "America In Decline" and saw the following quote (which might really serve as a challenging materialist credo for a new discussion board):

"Once the inner connection is grasped, all theoretical belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions breaks down before their collapse in practice"

Karl Marx 1869

anyone else have ideas?

bartelby

Hi Folks,
thought I would share this--

below are 2 links. I don't know if they are going to be new to you but they are new to me. The first is the military's procurement information site. It has stats for money and corpses broken down by state and some older figures broken down by race. You can get the information there or wait for leftyMcLeftist.org to cut and paste the figures. In addition to the Iraq/Afghan war they have figures going as far back as I think the first world war. The other is a link to procurement data for the Gulf area. I'd be willing to do some digging through the latter if necessary.


http://siadapp.dior.whs.mil/index.html

http://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/general/hurricane_katrina_relief.htm

Also--
I don't know if you are familiar with Stratfor or not. They are a premium "business intellegience" service, basically news for capitalists who need to know it. So it is more detailed and accurate than most outlets. Mostly they've been a premium service, and very expensive to boot. However today I noticed that google news spiders their pages and apparently Stratfor's premium content is available through there.
If you go to google news and type in the following:
inurl:statfor
it will bring up some (I don't know how much, maybe all) of Stratfor's premium material.

To search for a particular subject try this:

Iraq inurl:stratfor

Instead of Iraq try any other search term as well. Knock yourself out.

The results will be in google's order of significance. You can change that to "sort by date" and get up to the minute premium news material.

The drawback is that none of links on the Stratfor pages will work, unless you have the login script google news uses. So bringing up those links in google news is your best bet.

mcapri

the burningman

Suggestions are always welcome, but I'll tell you a little of the little bit of thinking that went into the name.

It's plural. It's not the red flag as a pointing finger. It's a recognition that there might be more than one way to get to the same place. And in terms of what is needed... good god, the list on that one is tremendous. We certainly do need some backbone!

We need many different trend development fora that don't currently exist. Many of these need to be generated by organizations properly. Others don't...

The proliferation of ML and MLM blogs, both independent and organizationally affiliated, is a good development.

The other day I went cruising through the Maoist blogosphere... and it's certainly on a roll. Celticfire in particular is my favorite, but there's a whole bunch out there now with real thought going into them. Several bloggers are involved in common study, and there's a generally comradely tone that has caught on across the board... much to my delight. Doesn't mean there aren't real arguments happening, that chaotically follow the rough trend differentiation among ML forces. And good.

The post-70s generations had such a distaste for the bitter, wooden polemics that often defined that time (who's REALLY real, etc... proof-texting galore...) that many just plain forgot how to argue. Some folks don't even quite get what distinguishes different trends, joining the first group they encountered without much investigation and taking whatever conventional wisdom they got trained in as the way of it.

One of my concerns is that the "dead weight of history," in the form of revisionism, is rife in activist and even "Marxist-Leninst" circles. ML becomes an identification, not a living science, not revolutionary communism. It is a concession waiting to happen, an eddy to spin in passing judgement.

There is an old RCP saying, or at least that's who I learned it from, that there will be "many flags on the field" come the North American revolution. That is a fact. This is a whole continent, an empire. There are several revolutionary organizations in the USA, even if I would argue that there is (currently) only one communist organization.

The exchange of experience and analysis across trend lines is a recognition that all the answers aren't already arrayed, awaiting deployment.

We are making the road by walking, and the old adage of "unity-struggle-unity" is something I think more people are up for than is commonly assumed.

So Red Flags isn't a burning barricade of a name. But it's what I'm hoping for in terms of discussion.

hmmmm

yes, there will be many flags in the field. But they will not all be "red flags" at all -- that's the point. In fact, the real question is not how to handle MANY red flag, but where among the "many flags" there will be a red on -- yes, pointing the way.

Even on "backbone" -- to me the issue is not whether we (subjectively) "need backbone" (i.e. more conviction in our diverse views). But whether there will be in, whatever comes, a leading "backbone force" -- that can gather the remaining "flesh and bone" of the rev around itself.

To take the expression "many flags in the field" and morph that into a credo of "many red flags are inevitable" -- is to take a true insight (and an objective dilemma) and turn it into a "many vans" theory. In fact, the response to "many flags i nthe field" is precisely to build and strengthen a real van, that can unite and forge and transform and lead the inevitably whelter of things that will emerge.

Not only is not "all good" -- but it is not "all equal" -- there may be "many flags in the field" but only one vision at a time can transform and lead society. And ultimately only one state will have the "monopoly of violence" -- even if a chaotic scene starts with many "contested zones" and "leopard spots."

srogouski

So if the government starts jailing NY Times editors can we THEN start using the term "fascism"?

http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/06/bush-lynch-mob-against-nations-free.html

"Documenting the violent rhetoric and truly extremist calls for imprisonment against the Times is unnecessary for anyone paying even minimal attention the last few days. On every cable news show, pundits and even journalists talked openly about whether the editors and reporters of the Times were traitors deserving criminal punishment. The Weekly Standard, always a bellwether of Bush administration thinking, is now actively crusading for criminal prosecution against the Times. And dark insinuations that the Times ought to be physically attacked are no longer the exclusive province of best-selling right-wing author Ann Coulter, but -- as Hume's Ghost recently documented -- are now commonly expressed sentiments among all sorts of "mainstream" Bush supporters. Bush supporters are now engaged in all-out, unlimited warfare against journalists who are hostile to the administration and who fail to adhere to the orders of the Commander-in-Chief about what to print."

friend of a friend

I'd laugh with Stan if this wasn't so deadly serious.

There is a section of the resistance to the right that thinks it's only "fascism" when their own door gets kicked in... It's not an enforced police state, but the motion and intention are undeniable at this point. Defense of democratic rights must be generalized and public, and not left to Democrats™.

----------

We should also pay attention to the "Green Scare" that is targetting direct action, ecologically-oriented anarchists.

"Hoot" is a cute movie about direction action, but when it's Elves, not owls, the cops are gunning for total supression now through wide, nationally-coordinated arrests, informants, "flipping" defendents facing substantial charges and what looks to be involved entrapments as well. This is a serious situation.

http://www.supportdaniel.org/

In New York, Daniel McGowan is facing life in prison. McGowan does not identify as a current or former member of the Earth Liberation Front, the decentralized target of the government's hunt. He has disassociated himself as such.

McGowan has been a prominent, and well-liked anarchist activist in New York, especially in the lead-up to the Repbulican National Convention. He has also done political prisoner support work, which makes it seem like the government is targetting people in the direct action movement who are simply advocating IDEAS and talking to the press. McGowan did mass organizing and public relations during the RNC. He was not an advocate of any kind of adventurism.

A substantial number of artists are contributing to a Benefit Art Show for Daniel McGowan in July.

http://www.visualresistance.org/mcgowan/

---------

The fascism point is real, real, real. Things are sharpening up. There is a motion to what's happening and there needs to be a broader, explicit movement to defend the social and political space that's been won, and built, in the past.

Sidenote on the Times piece: the New York congressman who is talking "treason," Rep. Peter King (R–NY), was a long-time proponent of Irish Republicanism. Now he's in charge of some congressional "homeland security" committee. Pub bombings happen, I guess, but heaven forbid a national newspaper publish the massive invasions of privacy. Aside from the total incineration of the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution, these "total information awareness" shit is straight-up Big Brother. Not kind of, not "becoming." Here. Now... doesn't mean I can't write a comment on a blog, but it does mean I wonder who all reads it and what that might mean in the future.

The government feel the power and necessity to redefine law and criminality by fiat.

srogouski

Peter King needs a seriously loud and obnoxious protest outside of his office and soon.

No one thinks we're going to see Gail Collins and Bill Keller behind bars in the very near future (this is all the Rovian noise machine cranked up to keep out minds off of the issue the Times was reporting on) but once people start talking like this it's hard to put the cat back in the bag.

Peter King is trash.

the burningman

hmmm, indeed.

Maybe it's not all good. I know it's not. But to start that discussion, I'd like to bring up an aphorism that Prachanda brings out in the most recent copy of The Worker:

"Science is not a sacred cow. It's a horse. Don't worship it. Feed it."

I want to help feed it.

There's another issue that goes back to literature in the Soviet Union. The great communist writer Isaac Babel, who was killed in the course of the purges and shamefully appropriated by right-wing social democratic critics, who said that the freedom to write is the freedom to write badly.

How can we know what is right or correct, not just without open and fostered debate, but without a range of practical experimentation?

Hmmmm says "Not only is [it] not "all good" -- but it is not "all equal" -- there may be "many flags in the field" but only one vision at a time can transform and lead society."

Yes... and no. And inclusion doesn't imply much beyond that. I don't buy the idea that ideas or people are "tainted." I'm curious where the range of revolutionary communism is at. As a trend. MLM. Different applications, orientations, current thinking.

This is something I respect in the declaration from the Maoist parties in Turkey, India and the Philippines — the call to discuss revisionism, understand it. Fight it.

I'd add the need for unity-struggle-unity to reach out to better understandings and practice all around.

These kinds of discussions have been no one's real priority, but there are times when we really need to dialogue and interogate. This is one of them.

Bring your A game if you think illness slips in the mix, but maybe we're all trying to rise to the times.

charged

Prosecuting the Times for treason?

Obviously they are the disloyal left...

Scary stuff. Total surveillance, establishment newspapers under threat from Tony Snow, current white house press secretary, former Fox News broadcaster.

Non Serviam

By all indictations Rep. King (R-Asshole) is being, well, a member of the House of Representatives. That is, he is producing hot air in between signing off on appropriations bills. He knows this kind of stuff gets him a headline for the New York Post (who have been feuding mercilessly with the Times, since the latter have covered a story on a NY Post writer's extortion trial).

We're not living under fascism. This kind of stuff is business-as-usual for a liberal democracy -- kind of the reason why we're looking to overthrow it.

What would be "not" business as usual?

At what point are you so lost inside the playbooks of activistlandia that plain and obvious changes in the government are just "same old, same old..."

I don't see anyone saying we are living in "fascism." But there are plainly authoritarian, new, aggressive and frightening changes happening. The idea that "we are at war" and therefor the president can just decree changes in law is unprecedented in my lifetime anyway. As is the aggressive, far-right religious fundamentalism that is operating at the highest levels of power.

They are also doing away with Roe v. Wade, and promoting an openly "eliminationist" wing of the conservative movement that is calling for legal action against the left.

Ignore Ward Churchill's firing... but it's just one thing after another. Not at all the "same old, same old."

Non Serviam

As a rule, using one's own lifespan as a meter-stick is something that one has to break with, if one wishes to be an active agent of history rather than an automaton.

Business as usual: where liberal-democracy cannot maintain hegemony for the ruling class, it uses coercion. Sometimes the threats are implied and sometimes explicit; sometimes real and sometimes a bluff.

Before threatening Ward Churchill, it was Chomsky and Zinn who were on the firing line; before Roe v. Wade, the SCOTUS ruling to beat was Brown v. Board of Ed; before the New York Times got slammed, it was Ellsberg and Phil Agee.

As for law by decree -- any president since FDR has used the executive power in some reactionary fashion. Reagan did it -- and his directives (over Afghanistan, etc.) are still sealed.

Do we ignore what we have before us? Never would I say such a thing. But part of communists' leadership duties is NOT to allow ourselves and revolutionary forces to get stuck on a hampster wheel of spontanaeity.

srogouski

Non Serviam,

And Nixon threatened the press.

But you can't take examples of abuses within the Bush adminstration in isolation from their context then point out examples in history where they happened before to disprove their relevance. That's ahistorical.

What you need to do is look at the signing statements, the attacks on the press, the NSA spying, the pre-emptive war and, above all, the mass movement of Christian brownshirts behind the Bush administration.

Nixon attacked the press but didn't have a mass movement. It means alot more when you look at how these things interact with one another.

Troll Patrol

I've noticed a ton of bickering on Wikipedia on page entries related to the RCP and Avakian. Much of it appears to be from one or two individuals who identify as anarchists attempting to overwhelm the reports with sectarian attacks.

See the entries on Bob Avakian and the RCP, USA in particular.

the burningman

People can identify however they want on the internet -- what's important to do is recognize the content of the activity and to respond accordingly. There is a minorty sector within the anti-authoritarian movement, called "post-left" that is egrigiously anti-communist and in my experience totally unprincipled.

Two websites in particular host materials they know to be factually false: Chuck Munson's Infoshop.org and Ernesto Aguilar's APOC site.

In both cases, it is important to distinguish the sectarian agenda of the webmasters from the political identity they speak on behalf of. In both cases, they refuse to allow rebuttals, even on factual matters, to the attack pieces they host. In both cases, it is the agenda of these individuals that is at issue -- NOT their stated political identity.

Supremely fucked

The new supreme court is bad news.

The crazies are running the asylum.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Hot Shots