- Category: Communist Organization
- Created on Wednesday, 27 May 2009 02:19
- Written by Kasama
Download the new Kasama Pamphlet:
This pamphlet is based on a discussion document presented to a recent Kasama conference by Enzo Rhyner, J.B. Connors, John Steele, Kobayashi Maru, Mike Ely, Rita Stephan and Rosa Harris.
This essay was also posted online (in HTML format) in the Kasama discussions:
- Contributing to Revolution’s Long March Part 1: Grabbing Pitchfork or Theoretical Knife
- Contributing to Revolution’s Long March Part 2: Revolutionary Work and the Pull of the Sect
* * * *
One way to understand the Kasama Project is to sketch two other alternatives:
- We could rush off again, like peasants to war, disperse ourselves deeply among the people and “just do it” — wielding the political understandings we have at this moment, take up urgent struggles and expect to develop new strategy and theory from that process.
- Or we could rush to encapsulate ourselves as a new little political sect — carve quick lines of demarcation, proclaim strategy and theory based on the political understandings we have at the moment, and rush out to proclaim it to the world.
These two alternatives both assume that we have, in our hands (”there for the taking”) sufficient summation to simply dig in and take off. If we could quickly determine (based on what we already know) where to make a few, quick “structural reforms” to our inherited theory… then we should make those changes, and throw ourselves back into practical work on that basis.
But a basic assessment of the Kasama project is that we have a need and an opportunity to do something very different. And that requires a break — both with Avakian’s claims, but also with a deeper component of existing Maoism.
* * * * *
Our conception is to form a communist project that does not rush, prematurely, to mark lines of demarcation or to prematurely establish rigid structures. Instead the idea has been to initiate both practice and theoretical work with an aim of discovering and inventing a new revolutionary road for the U.S.
This assumes that the process of building a new revolutionary movement will have stages — and that our current Kasama Project has specific characteristics that flow from this early stage.
* * * * *
There is a well-worn path that we need to avoid (and it won’t be easy).
Here is the method: You gather like-minded people. You document the things you already agree on. You adopt your agreements as a basis of unity. And your new grouping rushes out into the world to proclaim your politics and put them into practice. Drawing lines of demarcation is key — and that is done on the basis of the politics you walked in with.
For people trained in revolutionary communist politics, we could complete all of this in one or two afternoons of relatively easy work — declaring our loyalty to well-known ideas associated with communism (democratic centralism, dictatorship of the proletariat, vanguard party, materialist dialectics, and so on). We could demarcate our view from others — and assign them the label revisionist. We could then rush out into the world to proclaim our politics.
Kasama has opposed forming itself as such a new little sect — but the temptation keeps popping up because of training and concerns that pull on us all:
- We have often been taught to assume some of those things we should now problematize.
- The suffering of the people and the press of events gives us all a powerful sense of urgency. And around the RCP, a deliberate training has hyped that sense of urgency — in moralist and anti-theoretical ways.
- It is sometimes said that perhaps doing anything is better than “doing nothing.” And the creative work of reconception can be portrayed as “doing nothing.”
- There is an assumption that the theory we need can emerge from the summation of our own direct political practice — and so the initiation of practice (almost any practice) is the prerequisite for sound theoretical work.
- Sometimes the very idea of creating a new theoretical framework and then a political program is alien territory. If your training is in the narrow routines of mass work, then our “presumptuous work” requires a real break (including personal transformation).
- There is a dogmatic legacy that says the problems of revolution have been solved by existing MLM. The logic says that solutions arise from deeper grasp of orthodoxies and from the repeated criticism of any departures from orthodoxy. The very idea of creative reconception sometimes triggers fear of sliding into an abyss.
- It is not easy to fully confront the implications of the two absences — special theoretical and practical tasks that fall on communists when they don’t have a party.
- There is often not an understanding that there is both major line struggle raging among the world’s communists and major gaps in communist understanding — all of which needs attention and resolution by appropriate methods.
We should not form a little group that play-acts as the seed of a future party. The process we foresee will be far more contradictory than that.