Rules of the road

Kasama

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January 22, 2007

Comments

jibaro

i suspect that what happened to their draft is:

a) 9/11 and changes in the world that would require significant changes in the draft.

It would be kinda bureaucratic and just plain out-of-it to say "how come they didn't stick to their timetable.

The world, uh, went nuts, and they are trying to keep "eye on the prize" within all that.

b) an eruption of new theoretical work and exploration by them on socialism and communism

c) From what I can tell, their draft is their working document, not the earlier one from the 1980s (didn't someone say that on this site?)

jibaro

a simple question:

Would you want to live in a "socialist" country run by a party who thought Lennon was a multimillionaire little shit? Or that dismissed him in a sectarian way.

What kind of a view is that of art, of the people, of the middle classes, of how we struggle over truth, over how we view allies, over what we are trying to achieve?

Compare how BA polemicizes with Lennon with the method Lopez uses in his polemic.

Just look at the crude and ridiclous workerism (the distain for taking up struggle among the intellectuals and academics... or the very idea of waging a campaign over communism on the campuses)!

Imagine what this narrow view translates into when you have state power. "We're here now, so shut the fuck up."

Would you (or any sane person on the planet) want to live in a society like that? (Even if they are among the workers!)

Can you imagine such a society reaching communism?

This is at the very heart of BA's talk:

"Communism: A Whole New World And The Emancipation of All Humanity – Not 'The Last Shall Be First, And the First Shall Be Last'"

which is here: http://bobavakian.net/

It is a crucial dividing line -- which will decide whether people give communism "a second look" and, more importantly, will be decisive in whether any future revolutions produce societies that are worth a fuck.

the burningman

OPEN CALL:

Regarding the Lopez polemic (Contribuir a la Confusión | A Contribution to the Confusion, and the Raymond Lotta presentation Setting the Record Straight to which it refers, please email any short, clear responses to me. I will post a feature on it when I get at least a couple good engagements.

redflags.us@gmail.com

debates & bans

B-man, so right about the issue of ideological bans. Talk about an overdue discussion!

ShineThePath

Repeater-
Some thoughts

Where you state that the RCP, USA is the most "advanced" revolutionary grouping in the US and that the criticism should be only focused on their short comings as an advanced revolutionary organization. I am not sure if this is something I agree with, since it essentially assumes that there is possibility for us to "better" the party by merely criticizing and it shall see its errors and short comings. I do agree that in some sense, the RCP does represent a more "advanced" revolutionary organization, but what is so advanced about it beyond that it is nominally Maoist and talks about Maoist revolution. I see nothing more advanced here...atleast in its praxis...then the revisionist parties around us such as FRSO.

Now on some of the more ontological questions you have brought up. On dealing with truth, I do indeed agree with your summation of the necessasity of subjective consciousness, and that truth is not merely a synonymous definition with existing reality. In fact, I believe in my blog as well I have been arguing against the "scentist" approach that merely regulates our revolutionary ideology to merely just sociological inquiry. In fact, what you have said reminds me of how Zizek put in great brevity, that is only through ideology itself, through dogma, that people can arrive upon Truth. In this perhaps there is legitimacy to the idea of "class truth" and "class nature" but not in the narrow way put by the dogmatists in China. What are your ideas on the debate of whether there is a class nature toward truth? RCP as I know has ridiculed this on the presumption that truth=reality. If one is to say that the subjectivity of our being is need in relation to understanding reality, is this in some way varifying an idea of class, ideological, truths?

It seems however, that you think RCP has made a methodological break rather than an epistemological break. I am not sure if I see the same, and what is different in the way that Avakian has gone about learning about the world. In fact, it is my consideration that RCP's methodology itself is in a rut more then anything other. And what I mean by this is that essentially the RCP has not engaged the Maoist methodology of Mass Line and Mass Perspective. Further you state that one needs not take upon themselves RCP's programme and politics to take up their methodology; however where then does RCP's programme and politics stem from? It must stem from the methodology of practice of the RCP and Avakian. It is hard for me to make out a break, for even Avakian admits that Lenin had already spoken out against this instrumentalism of truth in Materialism and Empirico-criticism. If Avakian wants to criticize the errors of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, and especially Stalin...this is all well and good; however theoretically there is no break from the methodology of Marx and Lenin themselves. I do agree with the idea that we need a more "liberal" (not in the bourgeois sense) approach to dealing with science, philosophy, and writers than the Bolsheviks and the Chinese. Perhaps...but when it comes down to it, the RCP's methodology moves into Idealism, and that is why their Programme and their politics are problematic. When it comes to doing the necessary investigation and struggle amongst the masses, to create plans-for-actions, they have failed. When it comes to creating class conscious masses, they don't learn from Mao.

After this, I believe you and I do agree with the fact that Feurebach "flips Hegel," not Marx...it was here that Althusser points to the fact that Marx supercedes Feurebach's Humanism and limited materialism. But from this point, you acknowledge that Avakian, like Buhkarin or the early Bolsheviks, merely sees Hegel as the idealist inversion of Marx. If this is indeed Avakian's position as well, how can he understand the "rupture" that we owe in debt to Marx. If Avakian is coming from a position that the philosophy of Marxism, dialectical materialism, is merely the inversion of the Hegelian formula. When Avakian speaks of rupture from Hegel and Feurebach, he merely speaks of a mechanical kind of "synthesis" between Hegelian dialectics and Feurebachian materialism when it is on the contrary not really this. Can there indeed be a proper break if Avakian is stuck in the rigid orthodox understanding of Marx?

Jibaro and Burningman-

I am glad that there is this very antagonistic posts on your front. Good...lets ask ourselves some questions from your posts. Let us discuss how you beat the hell out of the Strawman created out of a (mis)readining of both myself and of Lopez. It is interesting that you argue for "Lennonism" in comparison to the revisionist workings of "really existing socialism." Of course this is the false dichotomy that both of you have created in your own "sectarian" readings and proof texting.

The question of "Lennonism" is not a "sectarian" position, but rather a true ideological question of the Socialist movement since Marx. The problem isn't that John Lennon writes songs about the future, the problem is that a "vanguard" party in its analysis of the USSR, China, and its class analysis of the US has substituted Lennonism for the stark "cold" but serious Marxism. In the Raymond Lotta speeches that Chavez was criticizing, it was exactly this sort of position that was being criticized. Lotta turned Marxist summation of Socialism into a Humanist one, or "economist" one. There was not even an attempt to analyze the various factors that contributed to the development in a Marxist sense.

What was not being argued, as Burningman has suggested, is a "workerist" position but rather for the class analysis and summation fitting of a Marxist group. This exists in Nepal, despite what Burningman, they haven't substituted a fickle position to their situation. Burningman...Nepal doesn't have a "Proletarian Line," but they do have a Mass Line. Further THERE are "Proletarians" and urban workers in Nepal..most of the country lives in the valley, comrade Burningman.

On the Set the Record Straight campaign.

I think Chavez' criticism on the idea of focusing on colleges and ivy league colleges is important. He wasn't arguing for Lotta to go to pig farms in Mexico and set the peasants straight, as someone has suggested here. But the fact that Lotta focused his sites on Ivy League schools and on other activists is illuminating to some problems with that series of lectures. It didn't actually set the record straight, anywhere. It wasn't merely about "anti-intellectualism" on the part of Communists..that wasn't the problem, but even the idea of doing these lectures in CUNY and popularizing them beyond Columbia and Harvard amongst the masses wasn't taken in anyway seriously. The focus of the lectures was to build consciousness or organize amongst students in the most esteemed colleges, precisely because they were so esteemed.

Now on Avakian's "rupture" on the "base/structure" relations. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Avakian is in the same rut as Buhkarin or the other stalinist instrumentalists of the past. There is no serious break in any sense, as is evident by Avakian's most recent writing on state power. For him, the idea of state contingency is just another excuse for "revisionism" and the post-modernists. Avakian has also stated that he believes the rise of "Christian Fascism" deals with the actual Imperialist crisis in the world, and a split within the ruling class...so much for Avakian's break with instrumenatlism.


ShineThePath

By the way let me point out the Strawman.

The argument that I am sectarian because I am against Lennonism. That is mere economism to attack John Lennon, and that the Lopez article is similar to a PLP article.

This is obvious bullshit...and this is known...it isn't about disdain for John Lennon...would it have mattered if someone characterized it as Strummerism or Mayfieldian? No...the point wasn't attacking cultural icons because their not full going revolutionaries or Marxists, but the reduction of terms of Marxism by a "Maoist Political Economist" or a Maoist Chairman.

So I call shannanigans on your spin.

repeater

To "reading capital":

By pointing out that I hadn't completed Capital (this is different than never having read it) I intended to give a more accurate account of my reference points and to show where there is a serious gap. Absolutely I need to read Capital. My point was also, to some extent, a self-criticism. So in that sense you're banging on an open door.

On the other hand I don't think that I have to read Capital before I can speak to these issues. If there is something which you see in Capital which contradicts, or clarifies, my post then please make that clear. If you really believe that reading Capital is necessary to engaging these issues please point out why. At any rate, I agree with you that reading Capital is important and will most definately enrich my understanding of the issue, so point taken.

But... speaking logically (as in following the logic of your logic) if we're to say that a right to speak on this issue requires having read Capital, forgetting whether it's actually UNDERSTOOD, then we are, right out the gate, saying that the VAST majority of humanity has no right to engage what is ultimately THEIR future.

So again, you've read it, enlighten us as to where it can add to this conversation. Better yet, use it yourself to enlighten this conversation.

To STP:

Well, I think first off it is only the Party itself, and Avakian himself, who are going to be able to better their theory and practice. We're not going to do it for them. But since they're objectively allies of anyone in the U.S. who is interested in "consciously transforming reality", I think we need to approach them as allies. And this means approaching criticism of them from the perspective of helping them to better themselves, but also learning from them how to better ourselves, and there is alot to learn.

But I don't mean to, and I didn't mean to, suggest that we should be focused on simply getting the RCP to live up to either our expectations, or their own. And I didn't mean to suggest that we should only be focused on the RCP and Avakian. Rather, I think that where they are not acting, or thinking, correctly we have a responsibility not only to point it out, but to act and think correctly. What I'm saying is we don't have to wait around for them to "do what we tell them". We have a world in which we can go out and act on our own, or in conjunction with a wide variety of forces and individuals who also share the core of "consciously transforming reality". But I also think we need to take this stand with everything, and everyone, vis-a-vis wherever it is we're at.

As an aside, it was not my intention to suggest that we should all have an orientation of following the RCP. I don't believe that is likely or necessary. As Avakian has put it regarding leadership, follow where you agree and don't where you don't (I would only add that where you don't you have a responsibility to either put your criticisms into practice, or let them be known, or both).

But what I am saying, vis-a-vis the methodological rupture, is that we all need to be using this method.

STP writes:

"Further you state that one needs not take upon themselves RCP's programme and politics to take up their methodology; however where then does RCP's programme and politics stem from? It must stem from the methodology of practice of the RCP and Avakian."

I have to ask you whether a scientific method requires that you follow the program of, and subordinate yourself to, the RCP? To me the method Avakian has argued for (and he is not perfect in putting it into practice) is exactly a more scientific method for dealing with ideas. Frankly, the method itself isn't new. It's referred to by Steven J. Gould, and all good scientists use it, when they're doing good science. Nonetheless, for people concerned with "consciously transforming reality" it has not been well understood, or to put it more precisely, it has not been consciously taken up in the way Avakian is arguing for.

As for the RCP being in a rut methodologically, I think you need to be making a division between alot of the practice and theory in the RCP and Avakian's thinking, which is still in the old mode, and where it is that they're doing something different. I was just listening to some audio today where Avakian makes the point that the first time anything is tried out it is practiced mechanically. I definately see this in the practice of many people in the RCP milieu, but what is it they're aiming for? To put it another way, "yeah, but does it work in theory".

So lets not let our criticisms overwhelm the fullness of reality. Lets not be so focused on where the RCP, or any other force in the world, is doing it wrong, to the extent that we can't see where they're doing it right. And where we see them doing it wrong lets take up the responsibility to lead... to lead our friends and allies in the great honor and responsibility of liberating humanity.

One final point, that Avakian, apparently, has some mistaken ideas regarding truth and material reality, etc., is not a point for completely ignoring where he has made breaks. And, well, frankly STP I think you need to take a deep breath and reevaluate where you're coming from. I mean, it's like you're arguing against what is an advancement, using the ideas and stands that it is advancing beyond, and then declaring that there is no advance because you keep seeing them acting on what is essentially the same philosophical basis as what you're arguing for. Seriously read the Discussion on Epistemology. I'm sure you've already read it, but try focusing in on where it is he's obviously right, and don't worry about who said it first, or where he's obviously wrong (you've definately covered those bases).

To Burningman and the rest:

It seems that we just got through discussing how we didn't need to be having a pissing contest between different figures and ideas here, and now we're all into it again.

Let me just ask these question: What is the point of such a contest, if not to gain political capital? Is Avakian's leadership capital? Is "The New Synthesis" capital? Are we going to go out and accumulate more capital via a pissing contest?

It is totally correct to be contesting ideas and to be having sharp ideological confrontations around different figures and their lines, but "for whom and for what", and then "how"?

repeater

Addendum: That last bit goes for you too STP. When I said, "everyone" I meant it, including myself of course.

repeater

Un mas correcion:

When I said, "And I didn't mean to suggest that we should only be focused on the RCP and Avakian." I meant to say, "And I didn't mean to suggest that we should solely be focused on the RCP and Avakian." I think that gives a more exact meaning.

RJ Maccani

Yeah, my questions are still hanging...although it seems that you don't find them as relevant as the finer points of this article...and that's cool, it's your show. Drop me a line when you wanna talk about how we are really relating to these forces. I know you have hinted and said as much in different ways, but it would be nice to see it laid out and also to know what you think of my specific responses and questions to you, BM...

celticfire

I wish I had more time to contribute to this discussion, but instead I wanted to post the most striking argument in Lopez's "A Contribution to the Confusion"

"How is it possible that a ‘Maoist political economist’ skips over Marx's most elemental critique of political economy in Capital? In the Grundrisse, Marx affirms that capital is a relation and can only be a relation of production. One might think that only in this part of Lotta's speech is there such an omission and that it would be immediately corrected, but that’s not how it is. This omission goes for the whole text. Therefore, we believe that this is a conscious position, an economist deviation.

Modern Pitung

A bit late to the discussion . . .

My two cents on this:

If I could boil down my ideological/political difference with Bob Avakian it's this: from reading his work, it's certainly clear that he's interested in pushing things forward a bit -- but is interest enough?

From reading Revolution and in particular the analytical sections from Avakian, one gets the impression that yes, old Bob's reading up on things and concerned about the state of the world and how to change it. The problem is, both ideologically and politically, for all Avakian's talk on various contradictions one is at a loss to say "this contradiction is the principal one in play."

Instead, from Revolution and elsewhere, we have Avakian speaking on a series of contradictions that are certainly "big" -- the "Jihad/McWorld" contradiction, the contradiction of "Christian fascism", and here we have the contradiction of three alternate worlds. The question of where the eminent explosion or single spark tbat could break out is lost in the shuffle; i.e., the whole "Christian fascist" discussion got kicked to the curb faster than you can say (or make) Santorum.

It's a dialectic that is lost in esoterica, and not considering the true essence of the contradiction between these superstructural demands and material production.

At any rate. . .

Meanwhile: for those interested in Kjersti Ericsson's The Polyphonous Revolution (or Revolution of Many Voices), I am currently working through friends to try to get ahold of the Norwegian comrades and see what the permissions situation is. I have a PDF version in the pipeline. Check All Out in the near future for a link.

the burningman

Well, RJ, I guess I left your questions hanging in the hope someone else would engage them. Que sera.

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?)

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

To start, there are a few other discussions here where this exact discussion is joined. They are very involved questions that intrinsically range wide over hotly contested ideological and historical terrain. These are also two rapidly developing organizations, changing before our eyes in the dynamic politics of today. Not to be trite, but we are in the rapids so to speak – and it shows in the thinking and behavior of not just these two groups, but many people trying to push forward from the mouth of madness.

To put some fancy words to it, it's the difference between synthesis and lacuna.

Zapatismo is, to deploy the very criticism raised about me above, "all elasticity, no solid core." I don't mean in the sense of the EZ's command structure – but in the sense that they have developed no party capable of governing Mexico. Instead they have engaged the (quite possibly necessary) "revolution to make revolution possible." They have positioned themselves in the "lacuna", or "unfilled space" of the popular/local movements, viewing that "space" itself as catalytic and demanding of participation. Whether that demand is met, is a whole other kettle of fish.

MLM has a more developed, and I'd argue essentially correct position on what socialism is – of particular note, that the dictatorship of the proletariat is the (contested) political condition for social revolution in economics, culture and so on. It problematizes the leadership-relationship that I honestly believe Marcos and the EZLN have mystified.

Maybe it's the difference between agnosticism and atheism, by way of analogy. Or through another comparison to Argentina – all those "horizontal" forms of popular administration and syndicalism are spatial and aspectual so long as the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is in effect. Which it is in Argentina including over the worker-occupied shop floors, just as it is in Mexico and New York.

From these "participatory" movements we are learning technologies of popular administration – but without the political revolution that dismantles the capitalist state, these breakthroughs can't "break through to the other side."

I'm just thinking out loud here, but the intention and capacity to govern are what it at issue, which manifests in different styles of work and self-conceptions (beyond how other people view each of these groups).

And to get real-real, after any political revolution the class struggle will continue within and without the socialist state, in a world still dominated by imperialism and its military, economic and still considerable cultural forces. For all the difference between us and Mexico (or India, etc.) – there are some political facts that are universal. Learning from the defeat of socialism in the 20th Century, we know "the revolution" is not a second coming. We are not fighting for the end of history, or revolution as orgasm. It is also not the infinite horizon of what could be.

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

What should our relationship be to these two forces?

That's easier to answer.

I support the EZLN, mostly rhetorically and by spreading word of what they've done. That includes the comradely act of criticism and interrogation – and knowing that if we are not comrades, but remain merely "allies" to the struggle "over there", we aren't doing our duty here in the States. Mexico's crying need for a vanguard party (not, for the shotgun critics another "vanguardist sect") is apparent. I don't know the Mexican political scene enough to say who I'd join, but I think we should struggle with (and learn from) the EZLN and other groups who are in the struggle.

We all support the APPO, but that form as with Zapatismo, needs to overcome the state and not just resist it.

I think people who are revolutionary, in the sense that they seek to smash the state and re-form the social structure from top to bottom, and communist, in the basic meaning of the word, should join or support the RCP and do their part to build a healthy, popularly grounded party for the difficult struggle ahead. Where there are criticisms, they should be engaged intimately while doing mass work.

The divorce between revolutionary parties and aspectual social/sectoral movements is both the symptom of, and continuation of defeat. It is our generations challenge to overcome that. We should refuse to dismiss serious organizations with short-hand epithets, and promote an ethic of solidarity even where we can't "agree."

From where we are to having a vanguard party that is organic to large sections of the population, among different nationalities and other social sectors, is going to be a hard and tricky road. People of conscience, I think, need to make choices about what it is they are fighting for and follow through on them. That's different from a "coalition" or even a united front. Activists need to be organizers, organizers need to be clear on what it is they are organizing.

Support and join the party. Make it the more it needs to be.

You asked.

-------

We don't (mainly) need more civil society activists, "allies" in place of comrades, spatial sectoral organizing around what people already think they know: we need to build a "solid core" that engages civil society, organizes among the proletariat, takes party building seriously, and finds unity in political synthesis not mere and fickle affinities.

Playing hooky at work, I don't know if this gets into the meat of it, RJ.

okay.. chining in again, last time

Jibaro: "Frankly your criticizm of BA would apply eactly to the works of Mao. Though you try to fudge that point.

Where is Mao's work that is structured and footnoted like Capital? It doesn't exist. And it has been a basis for attacking Mao and his leap in marxism by those who have a mechanical view of science."

I said Mao used the best available data, I did not say he had access to libraries in London. Yenan is not Paris, and you should know the difference. Asking for a certain level of rigorous is not mechanical, it is scientific.

footnotes & a clarification

I'm not at all interested in the petty commentary that keeps popping up. Think before you write if you want anyone to bother. B-man, a nested commentary system would help reduce the ability of one or two people to drag their crosses through the whole discussion.

So...

Leaders aren't just the "analyst in chief." That's a strange idea.

Mechanical thinking is "materialism without dialectics." Idealism, at its best, is "dialectics without matter."

These are two of the most consistent errors that Marxists have always made, and it should be noted, have consciously struggled against.

Viewing people as an undifferentiated "mass," as an object, as defined by what we already are... or a utopianism that removes real people in the real class struggle from the matrix of relationships we're in... treating politics as a catechism.

What Avakian is doing here is asserting the importance of two things: the conscious activity of the people as a key differentiation from simple egalitarianism (or the welfare-state, whatever its particular foundation)...

and,

The dialectical relationship of that agency with a "solid core": the vanguard party and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

These points have raised the hackles of exactly the utopians and mechanical Marxists, each in their own way denying the possibility of socialism-to-communism.

To RJ Maccini: You ask what the relationship is between the EZ and the RCP? None that I can tell, in any substantive or direct way. Marcos once said he "shits on all revolutionary vanguards," by way of a discussion with ETA. Of course, the difference between radical nationalist bombers and an MLM party is profound, and Marcos now tours with various ML political forces... so who knows?

The RCP's press has covered the initial uprising, and threw full support to the aspirations and struggle that unfolded in Chiapas. They also noted disagreements early on about the EZ's stated intention to do no more than carry out some structural reforms in the Mexican state. Criticisms I would add that proved prescient.

What should we do, RJ?

Join and build the party, develop its relationships among the people, build new fronts of struggle, keep in touch (which isn't the same as posting on this blog).

I wouldn't cry a single tear if some kind of Zapatista-type formation developed north of the border. I'm skeptical it could work, for all the reasons we don't have anything like an ejido system or village-level participatory forms.

In so many ways, I agree that the EZ has mystified "power," and in that sense has done a disservice that we need to learn from by negative example.

As Avakian is pointing out, the state is about what class dictatorship it is carrying out, not just its "fact." Not "power" or "democracy" removed from class context.

The answer to the riddle of history is the trick of proletarian dictatorship. Without it, we get more of the same and worse.

ZACK

Comrades, just wanted to thank you all for the lively discussion here. It's been an extremely good read. Lots to digest. Keep it up!

Zamora on Class Instinct

I have a question I would like to put forward for discussion. This seems like about the only place in the world where an open discussion of this question might take place, and my question has partially been stimulated by some of the ways in which the concept of ‘class instinct’ has been recently criticized here.

One thing I have always found attractive about Maoism, and this is a point that has in particular been stressed by Bob Avakian at different times, is how someone doesn’t become a Maoist leader, or become the person in charge, just because they have more education or general intellectual training and aptitude. I believe this line that Maoists oppose is often summed up as “the person who has read the most books leads.”

And I have had a lot of unity with Maoist criticisms of that line, both in Mao’s own work and in Avakian’s further elaborations and corrections to Mao on that point. (And here I see Avakian as taking on some secondary anti-intellectualism that comes out in Mao at times, particularly on this point.)

Obviously, if someone becomes a leader, as I think happens in many petty bourgeois political trends, because they “have read the most books” (perhaps not literally, but I think it is a useful shorthand), i.e., they have the most intellectual capital and training and use that to dominate an organization, I think that is a real problem. I have seen it in practice in many cases and I don’t think it represents a political orientation that puts the liberation of the masses first. Rather, it tends toward more narrow forms of politics depending on the precise form it takes.

Now, sometimes in taking up opposition to the line of “he who reads the most books leads” (and somehow it almost always seems to be a he, except maybe in the case of Raya Dunayevskaya), Maoists can fall into a sort of obvious opposite error of anti-intellectualism. But I think that is something everyone here would recognize as an error, and is not what I want to discuss.

What I do want to discuss is the more sophisticated ways in which Maoists oppose themselves to this “he who reads the most books leads” line. It has always seemed to me, that the way as Maoists we oppose this line, is to stress the importance of political line leading, and that correctness of political line is based not on how many books you read (although study would be an obvious element of that), but on a combination of understanding the world through the grasp of our science and applying that science in the process of understanding the world (through various forms of investigation, some participatory but mostly not) and taking a strongly partisan stand (based on the material interests of the international proletariat) in applying that understanding to changing the world.

Which leads me to my question. In my own communist training, and in conversations with fellow communists, I have always understood ‘class instinct’ or ‘class feelings’ to play some sort of indeterminate role in the formation of a class stand that allows us to apply our scientific method in the interests of the proletariat and not, as many have done, in the service of just understanding the world better and perhaps furthering their own personal interests in the process.

Class feelings has never been understood, in the context I have encountered it as a revolutionary communist, as a ‘Jimmy Higgins’ type attitude. Rather, I have understood it as the sort of feelings and emotions that lead us, even in many cases before gaining our broader understanding of MLM and world history, and then deepened on the basis of that understanding, to oppose the police and to oppose the various crimes and wars of imperialism. That somehow, there is this visceral, emotional component to our understanding that allows us to make sacrifices and to wield the classless knowledge (i.e., truth that, as truth, has no class character per se) for a partisan class cause.

And yet, I can’t but feel a little uncomfortable with that. Is this a privileging of the irrational within the wielding of the rational and scientific? Isn’t there a problem with something irrational having any role within an overall rational and scientific process? And I can easily see how this more ‘revolutionary communist’ understanding of class feeling could degenerate into an economist way of understanding class instinct. On the other hand, what we are called on to do does require intense passion, emotion and sacrifice. Despite being in contradiction to the scientific character of our project, it is objectively called for. Is it wrong to say that ‘class instinct’ has no role to play in spurring us on?

So, can we really throw out the concept of class instinct or class feelings altogether? Or is there some way in which we need these things as a (contradictory and problematic) part of the overall process of communist revolution?

I would like to invite some more wrangling on this question.

LxryLif

We need a better word than "revisionist."

LxryLif

Speaking of the title of this entry. I think Avakian does a good description of what we need to look beyond.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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