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May 20, 2007



burningman lives!


Oh, living!

Sometimes it takes a pause to sort things out, to listen and observe.

I've been busy with work, true enough. But also really trying to evaluate the best contribution to make. Over the last few years, there have been some real breakthroughs among revolutionary communists... and... at the same time, some pretty painful deadlocks.

Maybe I can put it in a sentence:

The whole future of the world rests in no single man's hands.

That's not the nature of politics, and if we're discussing revolutionary communism – it's not just wrong, it's a tragic mistake that turns a epochal change in the human condition into ideological property. That's not a process I want to enable or justify.

There's an old truism: The masses make history, the party leads.

The first part is always true, the latter – well, that takes more than the assertion.


"We want no condescending saviors
To rule us from their judgment hall
We workers ask not for their favors
Let us consult for all"

--The Internationale

r. john

the masses make history? that too takes more than assertion. In some stretches of history, the masses are making wheat, rye, barley, steel and ugly knick-nacks.

There is a process by which the masses become "fit to rule" that also involves them becoming interested in ruling.

None of this is automatic or inevitable.

And there is rather central role for a high conscious and organized core for enabling the masses to "make history."

If we were to separate those two things (masses making history, and party leading them) -- mechanically -- we would understand and achieve nothing.

r. john

I also think there is a difference to be noted between "providing key theoretical insights" and leading a real revolutionary process (where "one class overthrows another.")

What is "communist leadership" -- it has layers to it. It involves having a bulldog grip on the "final goal" (in a materialist not utopian way), and then it involves actually connecting that to millions (not just in words).

There is a lot of talk about "a living link" between the final goal and this moment of the present. But that link is not made solely (or even mainly) by the theoretical insights of communists (however important and even decisive that can be). The link has to be living ALSO in the sense that it brings the masses of people ("in their masses") into a position to fight in the direction of that final goal.


...But let there be something said for self-activity among the people. Civil Rights, sabotage, wildcat strikes are all examples of people taking leadership in their own hands. Of course, you would chalk it up to spontateity and there is a need for parties to turn these activities into learning tools, only if orgs are connected to people in an organic way.


To BM:
Break-through is the right word. Write your way, through. Make thinking transparent so we all can learn. But remember like Neil Young said "It's better to burn out than it is to rust"


JB says:

"There's an old truism: The masses make history, the party leads. The first part is always true, the latter – well, that takes more than the assertion."

Well put. Working toward the creation of a real communist party (the real deal, not just in name) is the central task of communists in the U.S.

How to get there is a question that has vexed lots of good people. Just declaring it doesn't make it so.

Looking forward to more of your thoughts.

r. john

"...But let there be something said for self-activity among the people."

Uh, certainly "something".... but what.
And what is "self-activity"? All activity has leadership of one kind of another, and is led by one kind of politics or another.
"Civil Rights, sabotage, wildcat strikes are all examples of people taking leadership in their own hands."

Well, that is highly contradictory too.

First of all, take civil rights. It had leading cores that competed and had different lines -- (example Core or Sncc vs SCLC). Some of the leadership was "indigenous" some was "imported from north.

MLK was indigenous (SCLC) and folks like Bob Moses came "from without." Was MLK "self-activity" but SNCC's student arrivals not "self-activity."

In fact, there is no such thing as "self-activity" by "the people," without leadership. There is always leadership (i repeat). And homegrown leadership is an illusion since everyone (home grown or not) is influenced by the ideology and politics of the surrounding society.

Strikes? you think they just happen? Or (even if they are triggered suddenly) you think the organizatoin that takes action wasn't created? And even if no one "called" the strike, you think it doesnt develop, or borrow, or seek out a leadership if it is to survive any protracted struggle?

Kaz writes: "Of course, you would chalk it up to spontateity."

Again a vague comment. Are you saying that "spontaneity" is just a "label" and isn't objective?

Of course many strikes and sitins were "spontaneous" in the sense that they happened without communist leadership (unfortunately). And so "spontaneously" emerged with one form or another of bourgeois (or petty bourgeois) leadership.

That's objectively true, right?

Kaz writes: "there is a need for parties to turn these activities into learning tools."

Well, yeah, we agree on that. But is that really all a party needs to do, help the masses extract "lessons" from their own "activities"? I think V.I.'s observation is still valid: that real communist class consciousness can only develop on the basis of ideas drawn far outside the realm of the struggles people themselves are waging. (Including from science, philosophy, political economy, analysis of world events and history etc.)

If you think that communists can suck world-historic lessons from the "activities" that people are themselves waging, you have it exactly wrong.

And if you don't think that, then I just understood you wrong.

Kaz writes: "only if orgs are connected to people in an organic way."

Please, someone, write down in clear language what that squishy term "organic" means.

Are you arguing that not only can "lessons" be drawn from the immediate struggle, but that the vanguard itself must emerge out of them?

You will wait forever for both organization and consciousness that way. But perhaps I don't know what is being said.

Clarify? Draw a lesson for me out of the activity I'm engaged in.

Renegade Eye

Celticfire is correct. I would say specifically Venezuela is what is to be watched.


I think many of us probably know what you're referring to when you say, "The whole future of the world rests in no single man's hands." But what makes you think that the Party views it that way? Or that they view Avakian's insights as "ideological property"? I think it's the opposite. and the whole point of promoting him is to make those insights not just our property, but the property of the whole world. Maybe you could elaborate a little on what you mean.

Christopher Day

While the RCP hasn't (yet) come out explicitly and said "the whole future of the world" depends on Bob Avakian, that is the unmistakeable conclusion to everything else they say about him. The over the top proclamations about his preciousness and his great theoretical contributions (which are never specified in a particularly convincing manner) coupled with an evident retreat from a lot of the sort of reporting that the newspaper used to do on actual struggles and events of the day strongly suggest this view.

As for "ideological property" I don't doubt that the RCP wants to make Bob-thought "the property of the whole world," but that misses the point. What the whole world needs in the realm of ideas is a well-rounded understanding of revolutionary theory, not a catechistic crash course in Bob-thought. And no, they are not the same thing.

The RCP isn't simply promoting a political line, they are promoting one man as the embodiment of that line in a manner that deliberately obscures the actual lineages of his ideas and therefore cuts off access on the part of his followers to the critical debates out of which they emerged. This can only produce a totalitarian intellectual regime (even if thsi is exactly what Bob claims to oppose). The RCP's apparent faith that they can now win some significant fraction of intellectuals to Bob-thought reveals a profound misapprehension of the character of American intellectual life, of how revolutionary ideas have historically gained such adherents, and of what intellectuals are good for.

The perverse thing is that the content of what Bob has had to say recently actually contradicts this whole thrust. Bob's understanding of the need for a new synthesis in revolutionary theory is correct, but the RCP's faith that Bob has already produced this synthesis and that it is ready for delivery to hungry minds of the world is hallucinatory.

r. john

there are several things worth dealing with:

1) I don't think there is any doubt that Avakian has developed a distinctive "synthesis" of ideas and strategic thinking.

The question is whether it is the leap we need. And there is really no other way to answer that other than to dissect, debate and engage.

I don't personally think it can simply or correctly be dismissed as a hallucination (i.e. that it is absurd on the surface).

i think there are clearly major and important elements to what Avakian is arguing for, and major breaks from what has historically been understood to be integral to Marxism-Leninism and Maoism.

2) I do think that there has been also been a major leap and change in how the RCP does its work. That is not, frankly, explictly discussed by them, though the impact is very visible.

Not merely or mainly that the party's supporters "promote leadership" (which I would otherwise not have some major issue with.)

But this is being done in a way, and with assumptions, that change their overall and basic line.

I was recently struck with one clear example of this: How they describe the value and purpose of their newspaper.

Compare how the the RCP has described their paper's contributions in the past with how they do it now.

Here is a posting from just a couple years ago:

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Looking for Truth? Read the Revolutionary Worker

Looking for truth in a world of unjust war, censorship, patriotic hype and lies?

Experience the Unique Perspective of the REVOLUTIONARY WORKER

To change the world, we have to know the world.

We need the truth and we need the revolutionary press.

The Revolutionary Worker is fresh air to breathe. It is a lifeline to the reality beyond the dog-eat-dog. It brings you the perspective of those fighting for a new revolutionary power around the world.

The Revolutionary Worker newspaper is the voice of the Revolutionary
Communist Party, USA. And there is nothing like it.

Published weekly in English and Spanish, the RW is packed with news that the powerful don’t want you to know.

In this time of hype and war, the RW cuts through the lies and patriotic ranting. It reveals why the war-makers really have launched their crusade on the world. It has been part of building the powerful opposition to unjust war—and it is a source of news on this resistance

Come here every week, to dig deep into the issues of our world—
hidden stories, groundbreaking analysis, and sharp exposures.
Here you get eyewitness reports from the Maoist guerrilla zones of
Nepal, the class struggle in Mexico, the intifada of Palestine. And special features like the amazing series on the science of evolution.

This is where artists, activists and intellectuals lay it out in the “RW Interviews.”

The RW cuts up the depressing lie that “nothing but capitalism is
possible.” It opens the door to a fresh perspective on the communist

The RW features the writings of RCP Chairman Bob Avakian —
discussing how things would be different in a revolutionary society, dealing with major questions of philosophy and revolutionary strategy,
and training a new generation to be leaders of a future society.
This is where you hear the forbidden voices of the rebel and the outcast. The RW takes you to the ghettos and barrios of the inner cities, to the villages and shantytowns of the third world, wherever forces are gathering to fight for change and justice. It is on the frontlines where women are fighting to break the chains of tradition and superstition.

This paper is a connector — a subterranean network of political
consciousness. It reaches street kids and Ph.D.s, it moves from cell to cell in the prisons, it schools a new generation of activists and revolutionary leaders. It is a crucial part of a great dialogue on how to change the world, and at the same time, it is part of a down-to-earth
struggle for a radically different planet.

Get it, Read It, Support It...
Create Public Opinion…Seize Power...

If you want in-your-face analysis that you won't find anywhere else... check out as soon as you can.

* * * * * * * * * **

Now compare that previous passionate description above with how their newspaper is now described just this week (as they launch a new campaign for subscriptions and fundraising):

** * * * * * * * * * *

Revolution: Connecting People with Bob Avakian

There is no one doing anything like the work that Bob Avakian is doing. From wide-ranging discussion—and re-envisioning—of the communist project to penetrating analyses of the U.S. social structure; from deep discussions of epistemology to very practical guidance at critical junctures in the struggle; from searching critiques of religion and democracy to explorations of the ethical dimension of communism—the work by Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, is a must for anyone who is seriously grappling with the situation we’re in and how to change it. And getting this work circulated through society, week in and week out, is central to our mission at Revolution.

Bob Avakian's recent talk, Bringing Forward Another Way, was edited by the author for serialization in Revolution, and speaks deeply and provocatively to political and moral questions of the day. Excerpts include "Living in the House of Tony Soprano," "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives," and "Rejecting—and Breaking Out of—the Framework of the "War on Terror."

In celebration of Black History Month 2007, Bob Avakian contributed a series of four articles to Revolution: The Oppression of Black People and the Revolutionary Struggle to End All Oppression. These articles spoke to the bitter reality—and the fundamental source—of the oppression of Black people throughout the history of the U.S., from the days of slavery down to the present time, and pointed to the revolutionary road to ending this oppression, and all forms of oppression and exploitation....

{It goes on for a while in this vein.)
* ** * * * * * * *

In other words, the RCP's newspaper has gone from being seen as a "what is to be donist" organ of agitation, exposure and communist propaganda... to being a vehicle of "connecting people with Bob Avakian."

In the past the paper was seen as a "scaffolding" of a revolutionary movement, connecting people with organized forces, enabling them to act together, enabling them to understand other class forces and understand that when people are oppressed around the world "its our blood down there."

Now it is seen as connecting people to Bob Avakian, and enabling them to understand what he is saying.

Previously, the work of BA was seen as an important and crucial component of what the communist press did. Now there is little left. Only one task is left onstage... the promotion and popularization and appreciation and publication of Avakian's new synthesis.

This also means that a particular kind of propaganda and communist theory now greatly overshadows agitation (reporting and communist analysis,and exposure on the heels of events). Just look at what gets put on their front page now.

This change has a major strategic component -- a change in their view of what the tasks and focus of communists are, how they reach out to the people, how ideas and political landscapes get transformed.

In sum:
i think we have to deal with the "new synthesis" in its own right == and engage with its claims to be a radical rupture and much needed leap within marxism.

And then, on a second level, we need to deal with and explore the obvious change in how the RCP views its mass work, what they view as central and most important. The way the seek to relate to, transform and lead the masses. This too needs to be analyzed and engaged, not merely dismissed (on the bases of ideological and political assumptions that are themselves left unexplored and undebated too often.)

honest question

R. John writes: "I don't personally think it can simply or correctly be dismissed as a hallucination (i.e. that it is absurd on the surface)."

Why not? Really, why not? It is absurd on the surface.

Reading the whole of your comment, I also get your gist.

But don't you think that you're kind of griping about the recently added frosting without digging into the layers of that cake?

The cult of Avakian is nothing new, apologetics to the side. "Bullets" anyone? Remember that? Jeez.

The RCP has done some good, solid work. That's the shame of it.

r. john

well, perhaps we disagree.

First, there is an important question to answer: is marxism as it was "handed down to us" sufficient for the tasks of global transition to communism?

Is it just a matter of grasp and "apply to local conditions"? Or are some major leaps, changes, new insights, changed summations, theories and ruptures needed?

I am of the belief that major changes are needed in marxism.

SEcond, I think that BA made major contributions to this process.

The very idea that Marxism is a "synthesis" which developes like sciences... based on new experiences, debates and summations is itself a sharp contrast to the very religious view of Marxism as a series of revelations by infallible prophets.

He has made a series of challenges in marxism: on the nature of rev as a world process, on the question of how and when it is possible to break with bourgeois right, on the role of socialist countries in the world, on the importance of intellectuals to the struggle for communism, on the spiral conjunctural nature of crisis in the imperialist era, and on many many more questions.

Taken as a whole, these theories create a densely interwoven synthesis - carefully enumerated and developed over decades (starting with Conquer the World, which was and remains startling in its various theses.)

So no, i don't think it is absurd on the surface to say that this is a new synthesis. My question is whether it is correct, or how correct it is? Or what within it is correct and what is wrong?

If you don't see how different this synthesis is from (say) Gonzalo's inevitabilism... well, then we need to talk about that.

What was wrong with the silver book? As a concept or as a book?

Here were extracted quotes from many works, arranged to make a single easy and accessible way for new people (or less literate people) could grapple with communist theory and summations.

I thought it was a great thing.

Again, not absurd on the surface.

People need accessible communist theory -- done in a living and lively way. And the red book in the 1960s (and the Silver book in the 1980s) were a great way to popularize these ideas.

Perhaps you don't agree. Why?

r. john

another example:

The RCP historically has talked about the mix of objective and subjective conditions needed to carry through a revolution....

a profound political crisis, a paralyzed or divided ruling class, an upsurge among the masses, vacilation among the "middle forces," a partisan "revolutionary people" determined to fight through a change, a revolutionary party with a correct line and deep roots among the people....

The elements have been expressed in different ways over the years, but the point is nonetheless that you need a mature and developed vanguard, a profound crisis throughout society, and a section of the people ready to fight and die for a new world.


Now look at how the latest issue of Revolution describes things:

"To be clear: there are many important things that go into a revolution, all kinds of struggles and mass outpourings and debates which require effort and attention from those who want to make fundamental radical change. But visionary communist leadership is the crucial element in the whole mix--and this leader is a rare and unique one."

There is a change expressed here -- though not yet articulated in the theoretical work or program ofthe RCP, that THE CRUCIAL ELEMENT in making revolution (and not just revolution in one country) is the emergence of a single revolutionary leader of a special "caliber."

We can debate whether this is true. But clearly this is a major ideological change from the line and analysis that AVAKIAN HIMSELF has made repeatedly over the years.

It is even said that perhaps the reason that there were revolutions in China and Russia was mainly tied to the fact that they had leaders of this "caliber."

Again, I don't want to dismiss this theory lightly... it needs to be "engaged." And it needs to be seen in contrast with the RCP's own line.

That is why I don't agree when someone writes that "the RCP always had a cult of personality." That misses the real change that has gone on, in both the ideological view on leadership and its role, and on a range of related strategic conclusions.

When they now say "the world revolution hangs by a thread," it is increasingly clear that the thread they are talking about is Avakian... and the question of whether he and his synthesis is "connected with the people" or not.


Chris Day: "While the RCP hasn't (yet) come out explicitly and said "the whole future of the world" depends on Bob Avakian"

Bob Avakian's obituary to Willie "Mobile" Shaw:

"Willie said to me: "You are the only hope we have.""


The problem is the "synthesis" you are speaking of from Avakian is hardly a synthesis of anything new at all. I completely confounded still on how people see Avakian's work as a vibrant re-envisioning of Marxism, to me it seems like the stale old instrumentalism or worse, idealist inversions of the "productive forces" line....on the the rhetorical side just added humanism to the model of Socialism.

It is clear to say whatever the "vision" of socialism or ideology of RCP, it is clearly befuddled right now. That came off quite clear in the Martin-Lotta events were Martin was able to ask questions and try to understand things beyond Lotta's more apologist styled speaking and classic "dialectical" understanding of morality.

On some things and thoughts on what Avakian's synthesis has meant.

First, the epistemological break, and is it a break at all or just confusion for Avakian. Essentially if you look at the work that has been developed by the current thinkers (Badiou and Zizek leading the way), the ontological properties of Truth since Heidegger have been the main question. What is the subject's position towards understanding the world and finding what is correct, and what is what we call "Truth" in its relation to reality. Avakian merely goes back to an old hat argument and particularly bad vulgarization of Corresspondence Theory...Truth is merely that which is reality.

Well then that leaves a whole host of questions that leaves us in the relativist position, questions that deal with the nature of Aesthetic, Ethical, and Political truths. Such things merely don't have a corresspondence in the world in some dogmatic materialist sense, but rather are conditioned by are very existence and thinking. Of course I have stated before, RCP had thrown out the baby with the bath water whent hey there are no class truths.

The whole "Embrace and don't Replace" formula as a position strikes me much like the very dogmatic position of Trotsky on LEV, Prolekult, and the Futurist movement that tried to create a PROLETARIAN Culture. Also a negation of the very origin of the GPCR and Yao Wenyuan's criticism of "Hai Rui Dismissed from Office."

Also, I am not sure how RCP reconciles that there is a "Proletarian Morality" when there are no class truths.

Of course that is a sketch of some theoretical problems, but there is also the very fact that Avakian's "vision" of Socialism has little material basis beyond just assertion despite RCP declaring there is. Avakian's criticism of Socialism in the past is justified; however he merely asserts that his Party can do it better. I see no reason why he would not be vulnerable to the same mistakes.

Then there is the whole issue of the Cult. How does RCP expect to connect Avakian to the masses of people and engage him in the intellectual circles when they vehemently hold on to the same position that Avakian needs a "culture of appreciation" and has already made the "break." Anyone can tell you who has been a part of the scene and left that just let to the culture of stifling thought and leadership based on the best dogmatism. Further when you have an organization that refuses to engage others on any level besides its own, then you will not make any strides and build the "organic" base and leadership that Kaz was speaking to, it will continual to remain a small fraction of the very small left in this coutnry which is dominated by those who have the leisure time to engage in this struggle. The Revolution Paper is not connecting to the people, and it is simply not raising their consciousness in any significant way, as well as the DVD watching scenes,etc.

How do you connect to the Masses, of course the question comes down to leadership and methodology. RCP insists they have an "enriched" what-is-to-be-donist ethic, while it seems to me they lack simply Mass Line leadership and work. The alienation of many young people from WCW and the way in which RCP runs that organization seems to confirm this to me.

Thats all I have, another voice of one the many dissatisfied Maoists and Revolutions with our "Vanguard" Party.


maoist and revolutionaries*


R. John: Agreed that Marxism as it was “handed down to us” is insufficient—as Marxism itself teaches us. But, too, Marxism as “handed down to us” by Avakian or for that matter the Central Committee or the party newspaper—also insufficient. Agreed that it is not just a matter of grasp and “apply to local conditions.” But that formula is closer to the mark than the follow-the-leader model. (Which is not to say that we shouldn’t follow correct leaders, but instead that we should have and should cultivate the skills to distinguish correct lines and leadership from incorrect lines and leadership.) From Marx to Mao, the greats have taught us to understand Marxism as a guide to action, not as a dogma.


R. John: You raise some good points about recent changes in the line of the RCP. However, I think you miss the overall trajectory.

Couldn’t you see things ending up here with the way the criticisms of the economist errors of the 1990s and early 2000s were conducted? Starting with the ‘Campaign to Promote the Revolutionary Press’ in 2003, wasn’t it more or less clear that things would end up here? Yes, there has been a progression, but here we are, where many close observers and former supporters predicted we would end up.

For all their economist flaws, the efforts of the 1990s and early 2000s were directed at mobilizing the masses and changing the world. There were major errors in not connecting those efforts with communist ideas. However, the whole effort to change that by largely abandoning those efforts (although not absolutely) and focusing on propaganda instead of working to correct those errors in the context of building and deepening the mass struggles we were neck-deep in set in motion a dynamic that could clearly be seen to be moving precisely in this direction.

As the new direction did not yield desired results, the Party moved more and more into idealism, one-sidedly emphasizing revolutionary ideas and their fount, blaming the masses and cadres for the failures of the line.

While Avakian has much to contribute to a larger process of understanding and re-evaluating the history of the ICM and forging a new path on the basis of that understanding, he is not what the RCP claims he is, and the role of revolutionary communists is not to ‘connect people up with Avakian.’

It seems like you have taken some steps in recognizing that. It would behoove you to look over that whole trajectory from 2003 to today, think about how you got pulled along so far with this idealist tide, and contribute to the process of extracting the revolutionary communists from this morass.

r. john

Many issues are being raised, and I will only address two here:

STP writes: "How does RCP expect to connect Avakian to the masses of people and engage him in the intellectual circles when they vehemently hold on to the same position that Avakian needs a 'culture of appreciation' and has already made the 'break'?"

I think it is possible to both say that you have made a breakthrough and volunteer to engage others in a debate over that. I don't see that as an obstacle. I just don't think it is an obstacle. You don't have to be an agnostic for people to engage you.

People also need to engage with the theory of evolution -- and the fact that the evolutionary biologists HAVE a modern synthesis (or two) helps that engagement, it doesn't hurt.

And I believe that a big struggle is needed in the world to have people "engage" again with communism -- to give it a second look, to agree to explore again what they may see as "final verdicts"... Otherwise, if we can't succeed at that, then communism will (in fact) be seen as a "remmant of the past," even if it genuinely has the answers for the future.

So for me the issue is not whether we need a new leap. Or whether the masses of people should engage one as it emerges. My question is how to evaluate the "new synthesis" that Avakian is putting forward.

Second point:

CPR writes:
"Couldn’t you see things ending up here with the way the criticisms of the economist errors of the 1990s and early 2000s were conducted? Starting with the ‘Campaign to Promote the Revolutionary Press’ in 2003, wasn’t it more or less clear that things would end up here? Yes, there has been a progression, but here we are, where many close observers and former supporters predicted we would end up. For all their economist flaws, the efforts of the 1990s and early 2000s were directed at mobilizing the masses and changing the world. There were major errors in not connecting those efforts with communist ideas. However, the whole effort to change that by largely abandoning those efforts (although not absolutely) and focusing on propaganda instead of working to correct those errors in the context of building and deepening the mass struggles we were neck-deep in set in motion a dynamic that could clearly be seen to be moving precisely in this direction."

Look: there are people who think the RCP was an ultra-left sect since the late seventies. I don't.

I am not one of the people who thinks that what the world mainly needs is two, three, many Indypendent's with that kind of rather vague left ideological and political mix.

I think that over time the communist press got de-emphasized, and some communists got lost in "the movement." In fact, the response to all the "death of communism" needs to be a vigourous public and substantive upholding of communism -- or the whole game is lost. And all the movements in the world can't liberate the people if there isn't a powerful and emerging revolutionary and partisan core in the mix. And developing all of that takes real communist work.

Was the current onesideness all in place in 2003? I dunno. I think now (as I thought then) that the revolutionary press NEEDED to be expanded and taken up, and it needs to maintain a truly communist content.

But there has been But there certainly has been development.
What i think is that the new trajectory has become "more clear" and some new choices have become made. And, as some of my examples may show, these involve some real changes in strategic thinking, and in the way revolution is conceived.

It is one thing to say "we must be prepared in case a rev crisis break out in the period ahead." And it is another thing to say that our key work is to seek to repolarize politics around one individual. It gives a changed meaning to the content the RCP has given to the word "prepare."


Say what you will, but "economism" hasn't exactly been the vice of the RCP. In fact, anything that smacks of concern with the facts of social life beyond grand strategies has been dismissed as "economism".

Any attempt to organize workers is economism... unless I'm missing something.

Any response to the national oppression of people is called out as Bundism or identity politics (even where its not).

There is no (substantial) attempt to intervene in strikes – such as the NYC Transit Strike in 2005. This was a major, polarizing event in New York and the RCP played literally no role.

In the same way that being practical isn't being pragmatic, so too is organizing the proletariat hardly economist.

This logic sees any particular organizing as a detraction from the grand revolutionary scheme.

Since any real-world manifestation of ANYTHING related to people's living lives is deficient, no wonder so much is riding on the analyist (who makes that very argument).

Sole fide sans sciptura?


When we talk of revolutionary communist leadership in the U.S. we're primarily talking about Avakian. It seems to me, especially reading "Bringing Forward Another Way" that there truly is no one doing what Avakian is doing, which includes leading in an eminently practical way.

That talk discusses the general outline of the moment and our approaching tasks with strategic sweep that is simply lost in discussions like this. The best example would be the issue of the "two things we don't know how to do". Simply by isolating these things, especially within the context of the larger speech, he is giving direction as to where we need to be working. And this even as I disagree with certain points in that speech, and even as I would agree with detractors that not enough is being done to learn how to do these things we don't know how to do.

Nonetheless, I would say that while Avakian's leadership may lack with regards to the overall situation at times and is by no means perfect, I would rather follow him than anyone writing here. And I don't mean that as a personal slight to anyone here, but more as a recognition of the difference in terms of accepted responsibility, experience, and character.

The realization that no one here reaches that level seems to me as obvious as is the realization that the RCP is incorrectly understanding and promoting this leadership, primarily by, as JB says, mainly asserting this leadership rather than following it, and through that leading the masses.

So when people start talking about creating yet another "real" communist party, I wonder whether such a demand is a disguised call for the liquidation of a movement which is developing relatively rapidly. And developing not simply quantitatively, but qualitatively as well.

The last thing we need is for revolutionary communist to devolve into competing sects. And one of the greatest ironies of something like that happening in this situation is that it could develop a plethora of little personality driven sects ostensibly as a criticism of the RCP.

I would urge people to not, as STP says, throw the baby out with the bathwater.


As to the question of economism, I think that people's lived lives change with the overall situation in society, and that there are certain aspects of the those lives which communist have no business getting involved in.

What I am saying is that the objective situation NOW has led to a moment where the lived lives of the people are becoming extraordinary. It is in this context that communist leadership begins to merge with the social life of the masses, because it is at this moment that they are either choosing or being forced into rebellion on a qualitatively different level.

We could argue as to when that situation first developed, and I would agree that the RCP should have been more involved in the NYC transit strikes, but regardless of where you draw that line TODAY they are very involved with the immigrant masses, and labor in that quarter, as well as with certain aspects of the anti-war movement which reflect these realities now.

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