Rules of the road

Kasama

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January 22, 2007

Comments

ShineThePath

Comrade Hassoun, I believe you're completely off I want has been said here. I am not going to write a polemic on 30 years of RCP history and political line, but this has been and has always been the question that I have brought forward...whether the cult is a "good cult" or a "bad cult" I think has been verified. Not only is it a cult, but a cult that doesn't have an open Maoist line grounded into the political realities of America today.

1) WCW and RCP shamefull persues a line of fright tactics and has even gone as far as state that if you aren't take up their struggle, you are complicit with Fascism. The analysis of Christian Fascism is itself of base, as well as the "Coming Civil War."

Now WCW speaks and they say Driving Out the Bush regime is merely about driving out a tendency that exists in the government. They even go as far as stating that tendency belongs amonst Democrats...but what is that tendency? Is it anything other than Imperialism?

Further RCP's failure to engage the masses, to lead them, and to serve them...failure of Mass Line..which for RCP, they consider this "economism." But even in their frivilous "promoting the culture of appreciation for the Chair" they STILL don't engage the masses. When they "set the record straight," they did that infront of mostly their own ranks inside Academia...they didn't do it for the masses. They engage Columbia, NYU, but what about CUNY? Sometimes...but when they do that..they don't learn from the students there and their problems...just going there to promulgate WCW and their line in a manner that shames us all. (Can we forget the events that led to arrests I believe a year back).

I can go on about "new synthesis," which is nothing new or synthetic...since itself is almost a just working thought of BA. Solid Core with lots of Elasticity sounds nice, but largely practice turns this into mostly solid core around BA...the whole idea loses meaning when you have to respect the "culture of appreciation," discuss solely his work, and pushed into reading memoirs. It isn't the fact that the Solid Core bothers be, believe me I was a 'corist' for a while..but investigating MLM shows that it isn't responsible for you to be a disciple too long for a political line that ignores the most important needs of MLM...class analysis, mass line, plans-of-actions, etc.

Hassoun, I understand there are indeed a lot of so-called Communists and Anarchists who merely attack Avakian for having a portrait of himself in Revolution books. I don't really care about those sort of little issues. In fact I dig the idea of people promoting someone like Avakian if they really do think he is the "new Lenin." (though the ways they go about promoting him are becoming weirder and weirder). Good, we need a one; however prepare to find others who don't see that new Lenin and disagree....they should be willingly to challenge that sort of suggestion.

Leftclick...thanks for infilitrating my thoughts and revealing my dreams. I guess I have to strap my tin hat a little tighter to my head. However I do dream a little more beyond Soviets...though Soviets are themselves awsome...I am quite sure me and you have the same dreams about a communist type of society and it probably isn't as boring and drab as Marx's thoughts I would bet. However to merely say these thoughts are what defines myself and my work is Idealism. We as communists have to deal with the concrete, the battles of the day against Capital. We have to be always in the process of praxis and not merely sitting down and "imagine growing meat rather than killing animals." Or whatever...it is nice to imagine and dream, but it is more difficult to be a thorough going communist and start working to see if your dreams and thoughts are in corresspondence with the world.

And that isn't merely being economist...there is no "tailism" to reality.

jibaro

STP writes: "WCW and RCP shamefull persues a line of fright tactics and has even gone as far as state that if you aren't take up their struggle, you are complicit with Fascism."

This is a point worth thinking about deeply.

These are times that may decide things for decades (perhaps generations) to come. To be complicit you don't have to be a Young Republican, you can just be silent. Or you can just go on with business as usual (however "left" your business seems to you).

Someone needs to ring the bell and point the way. And you condemn them for it?

note

The inadequacies, real or perceived of any vanguard is a challenge first to the person who sees it.

the burningman

People who know what is happening but do not directly engage resistance should get shook up.

People who substitute social work for political resistance need to get shook up.

Activists who know how to canvass, agitate, speak – and who are not doing political mass work need to get shook up.

Revolutionaries who are not organized need to be shook up.

Communists who don't do a lick of mass communist work need to be shook up.

Knowing what is up is not doing jack doodle about it. If you're not doing at least jack doodle, then you really don't know what's up.

Are you mad at the claim that "torture + silence = complicity"?

Why?

I'm mad at the truth of it. Agitators have nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing.

--------

Nobody needs another excuse to sit "this one" out. Too many people are doing too much sitting. Too much complaint about existing organizations masks demoralization. Too much going with the flow.

If you think the RCP is the only force in the USofA talking about incipient fascism, you would be mistaken. Nor are they only people recognizing the special role of religious fundamentalists in great swaths of this country.

The suspension of habeus corpus, and the whole Military Commissions Act, is a qualitative change.

Permanent war against an undeclared enemy, "The Terrorists".

Signing orders. Public normalization of torture. The special session of Congress during the Schiavo intervention. Fox News. Gitmo. War profiteering. Regular discussion of illegalizing the left, "Treason," and so on.

These are qualitative changes in the American state and political culture, not the same old.

Bob Avakian is one of the few leaders saying that what we do matters. He says what he is fighting for, and puts that voice out as far as he can.

Is that creepy?

I respect it, all the more for the shitstorm that comes down on anyone who speaks up.

Bob Avakian is arguing that the conscious activity of people is the essence of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but that without state power it is a mirage.

This is not what most political leaders on the left, or otherwise, are arguing. I wish...

(SHAWN: This is exactly why what Avakian is saying is not "foreign" to the working class or fucked up. People care about the character of the world a lot more, in my experience, than what one would assume by their identity in any given class or social group. This insight, which Avakian shares, is why he argues that communists need to start being communists, and NOT subsume their politics to an ever-decreasing lowest common denomenator. In other words, approaching working class politics as a fight around pensions, and who is the "best fighter for the basic needs of the working class", for example, would be poison to the interests of the working class.)

Bob Avakian does not have a unique voice. He often speaks the ideas I have, and his leadership has profoundly shaped my basic worldview. That said, it's a rare voice and that has to change.

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ShineThePath: Since you aren't interested in getting beyond throwaway lines about the article that ostensibly started this discussion, why don't you post your whole-shebang critique of the RCP to your blog?

You've been doing it is pieces. Pull it together so you can breath a little easier.

Take it seriously, avoid cheap shots, check your assertions with the people you are writing about before you jacket an organization with your own mistaken conception (which I've seen you do, friendly observation).

Recognize what contradictions are antagonistic, and which are not. Keep that distinction in mind whenever you write, friendly advice.

Or, use this thread (and this transcript) to demonstrate what you think the problem is.

In the spirit of criticism/self-criticism – say your peace and give the object of your criticism the chance to digest what you're saying. I'm open to criticism, or I try. I've gone so far as to spend time providing a forum for it.

I guess what I'm saying is at least try to hide your scorn, disillusionment or petulance – whatever it is. Respect your readers' time.

|| || ||

People of conscious should try to be righteous. Nobody respects self-righteousness.

leftclick

bm says: "The suspension of habeus corpus, and the whole Military Commissions Act, is a qualitative change.

Permanent war against an undeclared enemy, "The Terrorists".

Signing orders. Public normalization of torture. The special session of Congress during the Schiavo intervention. Fox News. Gitmo. War profiteering. Regular discussion of illegalizing the left, "Treason," and so on.

These are qualitative changes in the American state and political culture, not the same old. "

Let's add the attacks on science, with especially egregious effects on the environment. Replacing scientific reason with theocratic faith.

When you look at what the Bush administration has done, it is inconceivable that so many revolutionaries want to bury their heads in the sand and say that this is all just imperialism.

They're on the next level and far too many of us are orienting our approach towards 'last year's imperialism.'

left trick

"far too many of us are orienting our approach towards last year's imperialism."

Some even think our job here is to be in "solidarity" with resistance abroad, as if the struggle here was impossible and revolutionaries "marginal" or "irrelevant".

There's a deep strain of left-wing misanthropy that views the masses with disdain. That's at the root of bitching about "paper pushers" — the equation of struggle with self-righteousness, because you know deep down were all just shitheels like "all the rest."

Heaven forbid we reach OUT to people who aren't already down. What we really need is another listserve about another heroic fight, noble and distant.

This isn't just imperialism. It's imperialism in crisis, and not just in Bagdad. Right here.

ShineThePath

Burningman, are you mad at the "truth" of the statement? What truth is there in it? Silence is not complicity, and further it is no way winning and building consciousness of the masses. Name me how this Elitist sloganeering and tactics have been sucessful in organizing people in the past.

Further...the whole culture under Capitalism is itself complicity, do you go up to regular people and yell at them how they are complicit with Child Slavery? Or how they have starved millions and then pose yourself as the righteous one?

Burningman, how are you not complicit in any action taken by the State and Capital? In some sense we're all complicit in the actions WE know that are occuring. What to do about it? Well yelling at college students that they themselves are no better than Nazis is not going to "create public opinion" that you need. How about some serious organizing...

"This is a way of 'challenging' students that puts them on the defensive, and sets up an antagonistic relationship with organizers that is not the mass line."

So what happen to that position, Burningman? Is now calling students fascists going to win them over to 'repudiate' the Bush regime.

And who said RCP is the only one saying that we are moving to Fascism? Who said they were the only ones who think Fundamentalism is a problem, especially in the Christian Evangelical movement? Did I? Well if you have read something that I did not write, than I am sorry. I never said this IS ONLY the position of RCP; however just because other people are saying it does this mean this is a correct analysis of what is going on in America. That some how the whole constitutional liberal process is going to collapse and we are going to find ourselves in a new Papal state? I think this is a stretch...along the with the whole "Coming Civil War" etc. Are these trully the direction of this Country?

Now Burningman, I am not sure if you're in a position to talk about my "disillusionment" are what not. I think this is no place where you can talk, and further even if I was disillusioned with my experience with RCP, that doesn't change the basic points of my statements. Further I have been making these points when I was in the circles as well.

Now can you point to my "cheap shots?" I like to know exactly what I said that has not dealt with the line of the RCP? Or further what have I said that is my own "misconceptions." Stop arguing by innduendo that I am suppose to get and say what you mean. Illuminate us to what you particularlly mean, Burningman...elaborate on your "friendly advice" as it where.

Writing a critique of RCP is a good idea, and perhaps I should do that on my blog...but why suggest this to "breathe a little easier?" Am I all of a sudden a burden on your readers? I don't believe I am writing throw away lines, as you suggest or taking cheap shots. And I don't know if I need to "check your assertions with the people you are writing about before you jacket an organization." What People? I have only written about Avakian and the Party, have I ever wrote about anyone else?

the burningman

Okay, heard you.

I don't really want to get into a discussion of cheap shots or who-shot-Johns.

I'd rather talk about the article at the top.

Emma Lemur

ShineThePath: "I have only written about Avakian and the Party, have I ever wrote about anyone else?"

Maybe that's part of the problem, bro.

Forgive me, I'm listening to the state of the union. Escape! I had to just barge in here. Bush looks weak.

Avakian is saying the choice isn't only socialism or barbarism. The administrative, bureaucratic welfare/warfare state is as much a vice of the socialist left as the neo-Liberal right.

The alienation of the great mass of people from the administration of life, the living of life in all its richness, is what the communist movement seeks to overcome. The turning of people into things, producers, consumers, data, proletarians.

Look at "socialist" Europe. What is done with the super-profits of imperialism can be deployed in different, related ways by the Venezuelas and Irans of the world by floating on the international oil market. This does not challenge, fundamentally (or simply on its own) the class dictatorship in those countries, or in their relation to the "international market". China and India can exploit their interior (read: the people) and produce globalized middle classes with high standards of living.

Agency, the conscious participation of the proletariat and exploited classes.

Knowing this, agreeing with Avakian on this, is why I care to wade through the negativity of anonymous internet chat stuff.

It's not a discussion I get to have at work. If you know what I'm saying you know.

repeater

To note: That is exactly the orientation that I think those who are critical of the RCP should have, though not in some individual or personal sense.

I'm somewhat surprised by the vituperative nature of Shine The Path's remarks regarding the RCP and Avakian, though perhaps I should take some responsibility for having given a bad example in certain instances. One thing which I think STP can be criticized for is arguing that the RCP, and Avakian, are completely without merit. This is profoundly wrong. The RCP, and it is because of Avakian's leadership, is the most advanced revolutionary grouping in the U.S. That they could be so much more, and that we need so much more, is where criticism should be focused. And one has the responsibility to lead where they fall short, even as we try to learn from them and help them learn as well. Anyway I'd like to address what I think are some important mistakes in their theory, and hopefully it will be taken in the spirit in which it is meant, i.e. in the spirit of cooperation and of lifting up our "movement" (by our movement I am not referring simply to MLM, but the entire spectrum of ideologies that share the problematic, or the core of, consciously transforming reality).

To begin with:

On "Objective Truth"

What is our core? Our core is the concept of the conscious transformation of objective,
material reality. This concept carries within it a contradiction which roughly equates to the contradiction between subject
and object, and it is this contradiction which is the source of truth. There is no "objective truth", except inasmuch as this
process of subjective interaction with objective reality either is itself, or develops, an objective phenomenon that we can call truth.

[As an aside I would like to compare and contrast the objective phenomena of truth, with the objective phenomena of God. Both require a subjective consciousness. This is no different than saying that people created God, not the other way around, the same goes for truth. But where God explicitly refers to, and HAS to refer to, the unreal, the truth refers to, and HAS to refer to, material reality. In other words the reason we have an objective phenomena, in ideology, of God is exactly because He doesn't exist, whereas the reason we have an objective phenomena, in ideology, of truth is exactly because there is such a thing as objective, material reality. On this issue I think Avakian misses the point when he boldly declares that God doesn't exist. But I digress...]

It is necessary to understand truth in this way if we're not to produce idealism and empiricism.
The concept "objective truth", especially where it is confused, or used interchangeably with "objective reality", lends itself to the understanding of truth as a mere reflection of objective reality, which it is not. If this was the case, then the distinction between perceptual knowledge and conceptual knowledge would have no meaning, that is, conceptual knowledge would be superfluous.

The other deviation takes you into the direction of arguing that truth exists independently of any one subject, and one could assume that if "objective truth" is a thing in itself, different in some way from objective reality, then this "objective truth" also exists independently of objective reality, or it is an object within objective reality. This conception leads to an understanding of a process of truth that argues for the "discovery", that is, truth
simply exists out in the world and the task of any one subject, or collection of subjects, is to seek out and find this truth. This line is typically related to an ideology of scientism. This is incorrect. It is idealism, and is a perfect display of the conflation of objective, material reality with truth.

Material reality certainly exists independently of any subjective interest in it. But truth absolutely requires a conscious subject to have interacted
with said material reality, to analyze it, and to synthesize perceptual knowledge, or fact, into something which we may call truth, if certain criteria are met. Avakian needs to more deeply investigate this problem. If he is to argue for the "rational leap", he must make room for the subject and the subjective in the realm of truth. "Objective truth" explicityl denies any subjective interaction, i.e. "the truth exists regardless of what anyone thinks about it". The reason the notion of truth I'm arguing for is not relativism is that it is dependent on a relationship between a subject and the objective, material world. At some point we can discern the real truth from falsity with reference to objective, material reality. As a general rule, I would say that truth does not reflect reality inasmuch as it makes reality it's reference point. At any rate relativity is not the same as relativism, one is a part of our reality, while the other is an ideology which obscures reality.

In terms of finding where it is that Avakian conflates "objective reality" and "objecive truth" I refer readers to Question #1 in the most recent Question and Answer series on Bobavakian.net, among other places. And this particular audio segment is valuable beyond simply giving us an example of what I'm criticizing, so I suggest people take the whole thing in.

Now, if we reject the conception of truth as mere reflection of material reality, as we should,
we're then left with the question of what the relationship between truth and reality actually is. In other words, how does your epistemology relate to your ontology? What demands do they make on one another. How can one come from the other and vice versa? To restate it again, how does consciousness relate to being?

[Another digression: Avakian claims to have made an "epistemological rupture", but more correctly understood he has made a methodological rupture. He has ruptured with an incorrect method for arriving at truth, but he has not ruptured with his prior conception of what truth is, i.e. "objective". I don't say this to belittle the incredible richness of the rupture Avakian has made. It is my opinion that the method Avakian has set out is absolutely necessary for all of us to advance, and I urge everyone to understand it and practice it. And I urge them to practice it from where they're at, not to accept the full program and ideology of the RCP as some prerequisite to applying this method. People should, and I think NEED to grapple with "The Discussion on Epistemology".] http://rwor.org/a/1262/avakian-epistemology.htm

Now, here I don't have a definite answer, but I would refer people to Althusser's musings on the issue, and I wish I had the reference, but it is in either Reading Capital, or For Marx, and it deals with exactly this question of getting at the point of interaction between consciousness and reality. I don't refer to it as an example of a correct synthesis on the question, nor as a place to go for clarity, so much as a good place to find a deeper and more sophisticated rendering of the problem, and to give context to the larger issue.

I would also refer people to Avakian's treatise on leaps of faith and rational leaps: http://rwor.org/a/010/avakian-leap-faith-leap-rationale.htm
And I would urge people not to proof-text his writings here (understanding that you can proof text in two opposite directions by bringing either an apriori of criticism or an apriori of agreement to the interaction between yourself and the text). One should struggle in all investigations to find the right synthesis of critical view and openess to new and correct ideas.

Furthermore, I strongly encourage people to pick up Badiou's Infinite Thought. [I was a bit chagrined to see Badiou recently referenced by an RCP supporter, not because they rejected his ideas, but because the engagement was narrow. They referenced how Badiou had some good ideas about the Cult of Personality, China and Maoism. The point at which Badiou is relevant to "The New Synthesis" is not in his shared lineage of maoism, nor in his use of the term "New Synthesis" and the arguing for it as a political task, but in his works on epistemology and ontology. Works which I think are vital to more fully understanding what we're dealing with, and, in general, vital to an understanding of what truth is and how it procedes. Again, this vitality does not imply that we should agree with him completely, or take up his ideas uncritically.

Now if we can say that "objective truth" does not exist, what are we to make of the claim of Avakian that he is using this term in accordance with materialism? Well, I think here we have to ask, what kind of materialism? And I think the RCP makes use of two distinctly different materialisms. The "materialism" which is professed in such concepts as "objective truth" is the materialism of the Old Synthesis. Here I will quote Althusser, "a materialism of the encounter, hence of the aleatory and of contingency, which is completely opposed... to the various registered materialisms, including the materialism commonly attributed to Marx, Engels, and Lenin, which, like every materialism in the rationalist tradition, is a materialism of necessity and teleology, that is to say, a transformed and disguised form of idealism." [This quote appears in the introduction to "Machiavelli and Us", on page xxiii.]

Now without taking up Althusser's vocabulary of "encounter" and "aleatory", we can see how this posing of materialisms actually relates to the two kinds of materialism in Avakian's thought. There is still the ideology of materialism. We see this in the concept of "objective truth" because if it does not exist, then it must be an ideology, and it is most definately wrapped in the flag of materialism, deeper still, what kind of demands does an "objective truth" make on us if we're to interact with it, where does it lead? But on the other hand, we see this second, and correct, materialism. We see it exactly where Avakian is advancing. We see it in the increasing understanding of contingency, and accident. And, fortuitously, we are finally beginning to see it in the theoretical interventions of some RCP supporters and cadre. Though we should be cautious, as there is a pattern of taking up new words to cover over old concepts.

But let me go further with this discussion of these different materialisms. Where does Avakian find the rupture from idealism on the one hand, and mechanism on the other? He finds it in the "rupture" of Marx. He sources it in the "turning rightside up" of the Hegelian Dialectic. Here's the thing, Marx didn't do that, Feuerbach did. What Marx did was to develop a more thorough materialism and to escape the embrace of the Hegelian mode. He transformed both the dialectic and materialism, and he did it primarily through a more correct understanding of materialism. Here I point you to a quote from the Theses on Feuerbach, and in my opinion the most important quote in the document, far outweighing the eleventh because the eleventh makes no sense without it:

"The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism – that of Feuerbach included – is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively. Hence, in contradistinction to materialism, the active side was developed abstractly by idealism – which, of course, does not know real, sensuous activity as such.

Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective activity. Hence, in The Essence of Christianity, he regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and fixed only in its dirty-judaical manifestation. Hence he does not grasp the significance of “revolutionary”, of “practical-critical”, activity."

It is astonishing to me that so few have grasped the gravity of this, and more so that Althusser didn't see it, given his theoretical project. And while I'm sure many will try to limit its import by suggesting it is a narrow criticism of Feuerbach, and only relates to his practical deficencies, I would argue for focusing in on the first paragraph. Marx rebukes Feuerbach's materialism, not because it lacks objectivity, but because it lacks the insight of a dialectic of objective and subjective. He criticizes Feurbach for not being subjective enough. He makes the same criticism of Feuerbach that I'm making of Avakian with regards to "objective truth".

Now I know in many ways this is all off topic. And it is not my intention to hijack the thread into another discussion of Avakian and his theories, but given that they have come up, and especially the incorrect ways in which it has come up, particularly with Shine The Path, I thought it was important not only to get into some concrete criticisms of Avakian, but to show a more correct method in doing so. I hope I've done that so far.

At some point I would like to get into more criticisms of Avakian. These are basically arranged around a pattern of theoretical conflation on his part. For instance the conflation of the structure, or form, which is the Cult of Personality, with the content of the principle of leadership. They are not the same thing (I think this is where Chris is coming from). Or another example, and this is a little more tenuous, the, not really conflation so much as, sublimation of homosexuality into the "Women Question", which we saw in the position on homosexuality (in passing that there was even such a thing as a position on homosexuality was retrograde). In my mind all these things connect up.

Anyway, so as not to further divert the current discussion, perhaps this can be continued on the other Avakian thread, or I could give my email to anyone interested in further discussion.

Ali C.

RESPEK!

but a-ha!

Here is where I would point out the "dirty-judaical" chauvinism of Marx, of which he was hardly immune anymore than we are of good old-fashioned bullshit.

But the elegance of your point, as is only appropriate, is noted. I see the leap there in Marx is why he is has always been with the Bolsheviks. Marxism became Marxism-Leninism, and in Bolshevizing Marx also developed into a world movement. Marx so renewed, or better, developed was no longer the radical heart of a European Socialist movement largely buying into imperialist treachery.

And all of that said, I don't see the new synthesis. I see the articulation of that Marxism, that Bolshevism, that Mao of the popular dialectic for the world today.

That's cool. But the claim of a new synthesis from the most articulated public leader of a party in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement is rightly taken as the claim to an "ism" without the word. It's claiming MLM is Avakianism.

What's exciting in his rap, his articulation, development and character can get lost in what comes to people like a proprietary rap. Rebels don't want to be "owned" ideologically.

That's like playing with fire.

In the rain.

but a-ha!

Thanks to the people who took our host up on his challenge to bring up some other people talking this deep shit. Marcos is, in his way and to some popular effect.

Who else?

Christopher Day

First, I'd really like to thank repeater for such an excellent contribution. Frankly I'd really like to see repeater's post promoted as its own thread where we can focus on the important questions it raises.

Second, with all due respect to our host, I think the question of "who else is doing this?" doesn't really advance the discussion. Lots of people are doing lots of different pieces. Avakian is doing his piece. The importance and centrality of what he is doing should be argued out based on the sort of critical engagement we've just seen from repeater and NOT based on setting him up for an imaginary pissing contest with Heinz Dietrich or Badiou or Prachanda or Marcos or David Harvey. As I've said before, the C of P is a MAJOR obstacle to doing this and sets us up for the pissing contest model. And on this again I'd like to thank repeater again for clarifying my own position that the principle of leadership and the C of P must be disentangled.

Finally, a question for repeater. In the passage from the Theses on Feuerbach that you (brilliantly IMHO) zeroed in on, do you think Marx is here breaking with Feuerbach's Hegelianism or are you following Althusser in locating that rupture later on? I ask because what strikes me in this passage is precisely how Hegelian it is in its understanding of the subject-object dialectic and that if it is as significant as you say (and I think it is) for a correct understanding of Marx, what that means for Althusser's account of Marx's epistemological break.

I read a while back a very interesting piece (author and title momentarily forgotten) contrasting Engels and Marx's views on Feuerbach and problematizing the ways that Engels account of their philosphical reckoning with Hegelianism has distorted our understanding of Marx's own distinct course of philosophical development. I'm generally suspicious of efforts to divorce Marx and Engels, but I remember being quite impressed with this line of argument.

Jimmy Higgins

but, a-ha! inquires, reasonably enough:

"Thanks to the people who took our host up on his challenge to bring up some other people talking this deep shit. Marcos is, in his way and to some popular effect.

"Who else?"

If we are speaking of a third "Alternative World" to use the nomenclature adopted by Avakian, I suggest that folks interested in what else exists in the ML tradition might want to look at Kjersti Ericsson's take on this. Dating from 1991, Den flerstemmige revolusjonen (The Polyphonous Revolution) is an eyeopener.

It can be found at the website of the Workers' Communist Party of Norway: akp.no . Click on the little Union Jack at the top for the English language section, and follow the link to Ericsson's book, which is published there in full. Despite some infelicities in translation, her thinking is sharp, clear and easy to engage with.

the burningman

"A thousand Swedes ran through the weeds... chased by one Norweigen."

Thanks, Jimmy. I haven't read that and I'll be sure to put it in queue.

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Repeater just did something valuable: he described what he sees of value in the content and form of what Avakian is doing, without getting caught up in tangents. Repeater also pulled some of the very threads (the "footnotes") of Avakian's thinking that seem important in terms of situating where Avakian is going.

The last time I featured Avakian's analysis, well... check it out.

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I'm not asking for more people doing this for round #9 of political identity politics (or the proverbial pissing match).

I want to popularize and engage with ANYONE discussing human liberation on these terms, expand the range of discussion and NOT assume Avakian has the right answers simply because he's bringing up the right questions.

I'll say it again: making revolution is not a zero-sum game.

Links are certainly appreciated. Articles, interviews and essays that do this should be sent via email for potentional featuring.

Repeater, thank you so much for taking the time to write that out.

Christopher Day

I can vouch for the Ericsson book. I read it a while back and found it provocative.

the burningman

Can you vouch for the running of the Swedes?

sample track

RJ Maccini writes:

* Why do you think that Avakian and the RCP, USA are more relevant to us in developing a solid core here in NYC, or the USA, than the Zapatistas and the Other Campaign?

* What do you see as the key differences in their theory and practice?

* What should our relationship be to these two forces (the Zaps and the RCP,USA?)

----

Not quite accepting that these are the only two poles on the revolutionary left, I'm interesting in broadening that discussion to include a wider range of forces.

Real questions.

Christopher Day

re: the running of the Swedes

1. I don't know what you're talking about.

2. I wasn't there.

3. It was self-defense.

observer

since we are into the skandi thing...

Let me just say (as a Norwegian ex-pat) that the title "Den flerstemmige revolusjonen" could not be tranlated "he Polyphonous Revolution" (since no one in english would every use the word "polyphonous.")

Flerstemmige is a popular word, not a pompous academic one!

A better translation is

"A Revolution Of Many Voices"

attack of the skandis!

I just started reading that article, and its pretty interesting.

A lot of discussion of the "everyday" and "micro-politics." Interesting.

Not a surprising take on what's revolutionary in socialism from a red in the land of no poverty. (Better said, nothing like the poverty we'd recognize here...)

repeater

Chris wrote:

"Finally, a question for repeater. In the passage from the Theses on Feuerbach that you (brilliantly IMHO) zeroed in on, do you think Marx is here breaking with Feuerbach's Hegelianism or are you following Althusser in locating that rupture later on? I ask because what strikes me in this passage is precisely how Hegelian it is in its understanding of the subject-object dialectic and that if it is as significant as you say (and I think it is) for a correct understanding of Marx, what that means for Althusser's account of Marx's epistemological break."

I don't think you can locate exactly where THE rupture happened, and so I think that perhaps what is of more importance is where the rupture ended up, i.e. in Das Kapital (I've never been able to get past the first part, so I'm taking Althusser's word for it)...

[As an aside I think it's kind of funny that I was so comfortable reading "Reading Capital" and have such a hard time actually reading "Capital".]

... I believe Althusser ended up saying this same thing by way of a self criticism at a certain point, but I've never read it and I don't know where to find it... maybe in his autobiography.

In terms of what exactly Marx is doing in relation to Feuerbach and Hegel, I think that Marx is primarily rupturing with Feuerbach's "materialism", but that in doing so he is also rupturing with Hegel. Feuerbach was completely within the realm of the Hegelianism that he was trying to escape from. He thought that you could do it by simply "turning the dialectic right-side up", but it was Marx's contribution that really broke through.

It's hard for me to explain, but what I'm trying to say is that by correctly understanding and asserting materialism, as opposed to the material idealism of Feuerbach, Marx gets out of the Hegelian dialectic. What ends up happening is that the materialism and the dialectic become so tightly woven that the distinction between the two begins to break down. Very much like the interaction between object and subject within consciousness. It becomes difficult to tell exactly where the dialectic ends and materialism begins and vice versa, and yet it is qualitatively different than the sum of its parts.

Badiou has said something which I still struggle over, "the non-dialectical unity of theory and practice". For the longest time, and somewhat even now, this formulation has disturbed me because I could only see the dialectic in it. But then he adds that the key is to "think both at once", and I think perhaps this is what Marx was really doing. So perhaps the non-dialectical unity of materialism and dialectics? But again, I don't really understand what Badiou is trying to say here.

These are very good questions, but I'm not prepared to do much with them. I'm more or less thinking outloud on the subject, my previous post has been literally months in the making. What do you think?


To but a-hah! wrote:

"And all of that said, I don't see the new synthesis. I see the articulation of that Marxism, that Bolshevism, that Mao of the popular dialectic for the world today."

I have it in my head, but I just don't have the will to go deeply into what I'm thinking about "The New Synthesis" right now. Suffice it to say that I think that on one level "The New Synthesis" is an objective phenomenon which the world is striving towards. [This is very much related to the article which this thread is tied to.] Within this there are many competing "New Syntheses". Avakian's is one, and as such is only "A New Synthesis" and not "The New Synthesis". I think that his synthesis is going to have to become a material force in reality (this supposes some leap in terms of size, impact and in theory) before it can rightly be called "The New Synthesis". And regardless, by the time it reaches this level it won't be "his". As to the heart of it? What it is, and how it's different? Well, I think the heart of it is the methodological rupture, which they refer to as the "Epistemological Rupture".

The problems you've spoken to are real and they will have to be continually addressed and readdressed. But I think we need to do some dividing into two when it comes to the RCP, actually alot. For instance, oftentimes, and it seems among a majority of RCPers, the line of the RCP is tending towards Avakianism, but on another side it is poised to move into something completely different. I think these tendencies roughly corresponds to the two materialisms I referenced in my earlier post.

On the other hand, Avakian has done something which I think is of tremendous importance, and that is to have brought forward this new methodology, which RCPers call "The Epistemological Rupture". You characterized my point as "elegant" and I guess I would attribute my ability to have made it at all to Avakian's piece, "Discussion on Epistemology". http://rwor.org/a/1262/avakian-epistemology.htm

In my opinion, my previous post is an example of this method in practice.

repeater

I have to add a point regarding Avakian's synthesis. When I say the heart of it is his methodological rupture, I don't mean to narrow it down to just this point. I guess what I'm saying is that his synthesis is in the process of becoming and it is because of this that the methodology is at the heart of it.

It's not complete, but the rupture will lead to a qualitatively different synthesis when it is fully grasped and enacted broadly. I had occasion to ask a very similar question to yours, "but a-hah!", in terms of asking for some positive indications of what the synthesis actually is. I did this from the standpoint that it doesn't exist. No one could give me a positive answer to the question and where they tried they failed, but it is because the question was wrong. I don't think it is necessarilly wrong to ask, or demand, a positive definition of the synthesis in question, I mean I don't think it's positivism, but maybe it is. At any rate, it's just not where we are at right now. And for us to get there, you and everyone else needs to be trying to create that synthesis that we'll be able to point to and define. This I think necessitates, as I said in my earlier post, engaging the problematic/question (the objective problematic, which I see many forces and figures engaging, but with no recognition of eachother) from where you are at, and using the method which I've referenced repeatedly in engaging it. This is one of the ways in which this new synthesis is going to become a material force in our reality, and this is also why at the point it becomes this, it will no longer be "Avakian's New Synthesis", if it ever was.

the burningman

One note for any prospective readers checking in: if the philosophical language is difficult for you, don't sweat it. Many of the regular commentators here, myself as much as anyone, can speak in a shorthand that could come off confusing. After all, Althusser may be a well-known name in philosophy departments, but few have read his work.

Just about everyone is writing to be understood, but if something isn't clear – never be afraid to ask (or call bullshit if the occassion calls for it.)

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