- Category: Communist Organization
- Created on Monday, 15 September 2008 09:03
- Written by Mike Ely
The Revolutionary Communist Party has published its first public description of how its founding chairman Bob Avakian took over, transformed and purged the party in the recent years. it is the the first official history of a rectification and restructuring process Avakian calls the RCP's "cultural revolution." This struggle is still ongoing within and around the RCP, continually forcing out former members and supporters, literally dis-membering the party.
For over a decade, Avakian had been (as he himself complained) essentially a minority-of-one demanding major changes in the party's line and operation. At the core of this controversy was Avakian's demand that he be aggressively promoted publicly and within the international communist movement as a "rare, unique, special and irreplacible" leader who is the "caliber of a Mao or a Lenin" -- i.e. someone fundamentally transforming communist theory and human history itself.
The promotion of Avakian himself, his views and his persona were to be elevated to a central task of the party's work. Meanwhile appreciation of him and his views was to be viewed as the "cardinal question" within the communist ranks (as the defining line between revisionism and the next wave of Marxism). Finally, his various theories were to be accepted as a special new body of work defining a "new stage" of communism itself.
These conceptions were opposed, one way or another, actively or passively, by the vast majority of the RCP and its leadership. That struggle came to climax with a self-coup by Avakian himself. Avakian's organizational victory and the consequences of that victory have slowly been tearing that party apart.
The following RCP text is the first public discussion of the self-coup that Avakian launched a few years ago to take over his own party -- reshaping its ideology and organization around his own cult of personality and around the series of ideas he calls his "new synthesis" of communism. This is an excerpt from a larger document that the RCP published on September 15, entitled: Communism: the Beginning of a New Stage.
This official party version of events is very partial and self-serving. However it opens the door to a much wider exploration of these events and lines -- and so a great deal more insight and truth will emerge.
Those of us who, in various ways, opposed the New Synthesis and the mushrooming Avakian cult of personality have consciously exercised a principled restraint in discussing internal matters -- not even mentioning the existence of the Avakian coup, the subsequent cultural revolution, or the waves of rectification and internal purge.
Clearly the RCP's own discussion of these matters lifts a great deal of that constraint. We are all still compelled to adhere to principle -- to remain on the high plane of two-line struggle (avoiding pettiness, empty anecdotes, personal attacks, and any organizational details with security implications.)
But clearly, the RCP's publication of its version of events and lines frees the rest of us to share our views and understandings of these same events -- and it even compels us to fill in the many yawning gaps of fact and politics built into the RCP's redacted version.
Just two initial examples:
This history does not discuss the ways this line struggle within the RCP is part of a much larger struggle among the Maoist forces of the world, or the way Avakian's internal self-coup was conditioned by the growing differences between the RCP and the most significant Maoist parties internationally, especially the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the various wings of Turkey's TKPML, and the Communist Party of India (Maoist).
Similarly, this history does not mention the ways that the party's line on homosexuality was a major "precipitating factor" in bringing the internal line struggles to a boil. As the party worked to finalize a new program, a great wave of anger and criticism erupted within the RCP over the party's previous position on homosexuality -- which had characterized same sex orientations as an ideological choice that was inherently anti-revolutionary, and had refused party membership to openly gay men and lesbians. In many places, party members demanded a serious accounting of how such a reactionary position had been adopted, and especially why it has been so stubbornly upheld and enforced for decades. This was treated as an open revolt against Avakian personally and harshly suppressed. A major critique or self-criticism by Avakian was not in the cards -- especially as he was fighting to be elevated to the status of "special caliber." This severe crisis and the divisions it revealed accelerated the plans for Avakian's coup and rectification.
There will certainly be a discussion here on Kasama of this whole process and the many issues involved. I urge readers to raise their questions and share insights.
In this initial post, we are simply offering the RCP's own version for discussion.
* * * * * *
The following is excerpted from a larger document published on the RCP's Revolution website on September 15, 2008.
VI. A Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The influence of incorrect and even outright revisionist lines is hardly something to which our Party itself has been immune. In fact, the lines and tendencies we have criticized here have not only existed within our Party, but over a number of years, and until very recently, exerted a powerful pull and posed the real danger of our Party’s ceasing to be a revolutionary communist vanguard and instead degenerating into yet another motley collection of reformists, even if retaining, for a time at least, the label of communist.
Over the period of the 1980s and 1990s, a situation had developed within our Party in which, in effect, there were two parties, representing two fundamentally opposed roads. On the one hand, there was the “official” line of the Party, and the ongoing development of that line, as embodied particularly in the new synthesis Bob Avakian was bringing forward and, in the main, expressed in the Party’s newspaper (the Revolutionary Worker, now Revolution) and other documents and publications of the Party. But at the same time, in increasing opposition to the new synthesis and the revolutionary-communist line overall, were revisionist views and orientations which, while not generally expressed and argued for in a systematic way, were becoming predominant on all levels of the Party—views and orientations which varied in certain particulars but had in common that, objectively, they amounted to abandoning the outlook and aims of the communist revolution, accommodating to the system of imperialism and settling for, at most, reforms within this horrific system.
What were some of the main features of these revisionist lines, and main factors leading to their growth and increasing influence within our Party?
» The defeat in China and the end of the first stage of communist revolution—combined with decades of relative “stability” in the world’s most powerful imperialist country, after this defeat and the related ebbing of the great upsurge of the 1960s and into the early 1970s, in the U.S. as well as on a worldwide scale—not only had a disorienting and demoralizing effect on large numbers of people who had actively sought, and fought for, radical change in the world, as well as people more broadly, but this was also true among communists and within our Party. Communist parties are made up of people who come together on the basis of an advanced, scientific understanding of the necessity and possibility for revolution, aiming for a fundamentally different and far better future for humanity; but they exist and carry out their work within the present system—they are not, cannot be, and should not be separated, much less sealed off, from the rest of the world and the conditions it imposes and the pulls it exerts.
At the same time, and seizing on the defeats and setbacks for the communist revolution, there has been the relentless ideological assault on communism carried out by the defenders and apologists of the old order over the past several decades, and the effect of this has been to make the pull toward accommodation with imperialism, especially in a country like the U.S., all the more powerful.
Speaking to an important Party meeting several years ago—at which he directly confronted and sharply criticized the revisionist lines within the Party—Bob Avakian made the following observations:
“Let’s look again honestly at this. I talked about how we are still suffering from the effects of the loss of China. We should not underestimate this defeat in China, and everything it has brought forth, everything the imperialists have done on that basis, and have built on that. China, and everything it represented for the international proletariat and the world proletarian revolution—to lose that after the Cultural Revolution [in China], after millions and millions of people went through that upheaval, and yes, a significant process of remolding their world outlook—this is something we’re still coming to terms with, both in objective reality and in our own thinking.
“If you add to this the whole “death of communism” phenomenon, and the constant barrage of anti-communism and abuse and slander heaped from all directions and in all forms on the GPCR [the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China], on the Chinese revolution and socialism there, and in fact on all of the experience of socialist society and the dictatorship of the proletariat; if you think about the effect of all that, and you are a materialist and you apply dialectics, it is very difficult to think that we are immune from the effects of all that and that it only influences people outside the Party. Even in our thinking and our souls, if you want to use that term, in our heart of hearts, don’t we have questions about whether we were wrong about all this: Why did we lose? If we were so right, and if what we’re for is so correct, why did it end up this way? I don’t think there are very many comrades who can say they haven’t had those questions agonizing within them, probably more than once.
“We have an answer to those things, but you have to dig for that answer and you have to keep on digging—and you have to be scientific. You have to go to materialism and dialectics.”
The problem was that, while Bob Avakian and a few others in the Party had been “digging” in this way, applying the scientific outlook and method of dialectical materialism, most of the Party, on all levels, was not doing so—and instead was, to a large degree, “buying into” the slanders of communism and becoming swept up in what Lenin so incisively identified as the spontaneous striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, ideologically and politically: retreating into the confines of bourgeois democracy and bourgeois right, tailing after the outlooks characterizing the reformist movements—including “identity politics” and the related relativism philosophically (the idea that there is no objective truth, or that objective truth cannot be determined with any degree of certainty, and that there are merely different groups or individuals with different “narratives,” all equally true, or untrue)—and replacing revolution with reform as the basic objective.
» The revisionism within our Party was characterized by long-standing features of revisionism in the communist movement that Lenin had also exposed—which were embodied in the notion that “the movement is everything, the final aim is nothing,” and the determinist orientation that what is necessary is what is possible, and what is possible is what is already being done. This involved “digging in” among the masses in the wrong sense—on a narrow basis and with a narrow conception of struggle, with revolution and communism left to the side or at most “tacked on,” in a meaningless and lifeless way, to reformist work, and gutted of any real meaning and connection to the ongoing activity of the Party—in effect burying revolution and communism. Party members were often very busy—but occupied, or preoccupied, with everything but revolution and communism.
In essence, this was a form of “economism.” Historically in the communist movement, economism has meant focusing the attention of the working class on its own immediate conditions and struggles as the “most widely applicable means” of winning them, some day, to socialism and communism—an approach which Lenin thoroughly exposed and refuted in his famous work What Is To Be Done?, where he showed that this approach will never lead to building a revolutionary movement aiming for communism but will only contribute to confining the movement, and the masses involved in it, within the framework of capitalism. In opposition to this, Lenin emphasized that, while it is important for communists to take part in and relate to significant struggles of the masses, and even to strive to lead many of these struggles, they must do so as communists, whose emphasis is on doing exposure of the features and nature of the capitalist system, through timely and compelling agitation and propaganda, setting before all our communist convictions and aims, and in this way linking the struggles and movements of the day with the goal of revolution and communism, diverting these struggles, and the masses of people, from the spontaneous striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, and leading all this toward the revolutionary goal. Since the time of Lenin, economism has come to take on the broader meaning of applying the notion of “most widely applicable means” not only to economic struggles of workers but more generally to struggles among many different strata—making the essential focus of communist work organizing such struggles and in reality, if not always in words, treating the prospect of revolution and communism as something abstract and belonging to a far off realm in the indefinite future, with no living link to the present and the movements and struggles at any given time.
In essence, in place of the orientation of revolutionary work in a non-revolutionary situation, hastening while awaiting the development of a revolutionary situation, the economist recipe is: reformist work pending revolution—a revolution which will never come and is never actually built for with this approach. What all manifestations of economism have as a fundamental characteristic is tailing the masses, instead of acting as a vanguard to lead the masses—learning from them, yes, but leading while learning—raising their sights to the possibility and necessity of revolution and working and struggling with them to win them to take up the revolutionary and communist standpoint and fight for its emancipating goals.
» The economism and overall revisionism that was increasingly characterizing the actual work, life, and culture of our Party was also marked by the pragmatism and empiricism that has been so common in the communist movement (and which we have discussed above), as well as agnosticism about well-established principles of communism and even about the desirability as well as the possibility of revolution and communism. The ongoing theoretical work and real breakthroughs in communist theory that the Chairman of the Party, Bob Avakian, was carrying forward were not so much frontally opposed as largely ignored by most of the Party—or in some cases greeted with an equally uninterested “wow, heavy” and then put on the shelf to gather dust—because such theoretical work and the breakthroughs it produced, while crucial in relation to the goals of revolution and communism, were not of value and not “useful” to those mired in an economist and revisionist orientation.
» Related to the above, another key element of the “revisionist package” that had gained such currency within our Party was the approach not of treating communism as a real, revolutionary orientation—which must be consistently applied to change the world, and which masses of people can and must be won to take up consciously and actively fight for—but instead reducing communism to an “alternative lifestyle.” With this viewpoint, the Party was becoming just one more self-validating oppositional niche, more or less trendy. Sometimes this “alternative lifestyle” meant busily preoccupying yourself, and everyone else, dashing from one immediate struggle to the next; sometimes it took the form of smug, dogmatic satisfaction at (supposedly) being a communist, with your special knowledge of history and set of ethics (that you could never connect with anyone, if you even still ever tried); sometimes it just meant marking time, putting critical thinking in the freezer. The work of the Party was increasingly marked by the approach of feeding the masses pablum while maintaining, as the special province of the “initiated,” what has been described as “a temple of secret knowledge”—turning communism into a lifeless, essentially religious, dogma.
In opposition to the works of Bob Avakian and the Party’s newspaper and other publications and official documents, much of the public face of the Party—the bookstores associated with it, for instance—gave off the musty odor of relics of the past, or else the busy-ness of (non-revolutionary) “movement centers.” The variations in all this may have been many, but the source and result were the same: revisionism.
» Along with all this was a definite aversion to, and a studied avoidance of, carrying out ideological struggle with masses of people, particularly in opposition to religious conceptions and notions as well as other backward viewpoints which are, in fact, shackles, mental chains, on the masses of people. This went so far as to include even a reluctance, or refusal, to take on the anti-communist prejudices and preconceptions that are now so widespread but at the same time so superficial.
» Overall and most fundamentally, what this “revisionist package” represented was giving up on revolution: adopting—even if without saying so explicitly and in an open and aboveboard way—the attitude that “we’ve seen all the revolution we’re going to see.” At most, revolution was something for the distant future—or it was for others, somewhere else—perhaps it could succeed in the Third World but, with the revisionist viewpoint, that was seen as having very little in the way of a real, and living, relation to what our Party was doing or should do (other than, perhaps, to reduce itself to being vacuous “cheerleaders” of revolutionary struggles elsewhere). As for the Party and its culture, under the influence of this revisionism, liberalism ran rampant and a general attitude took hold that said in essence: “C’mon, let’s be realistic—what do you expect?—you can’t have a party in this country that is really a vanguard of revolution, that is actually worthy of the name Revolutionary Communist Party.”
The fundamentally antagonistic and increasingly acute contradiction between these two lines—the developing body of work and method and approach of Bob Avakian and the “official” line, documents, and publications of the Party, on the one hand, and the “revisionist package,” with the various features and the essential content we have outlined here—came fully to a head in the last few years: These opposing lines could no longer coexist within the Party, or such “coexistence” would lead to the triumph of revisionism and the end of the Party as any kind of a real revolutionary-communist vanguard.
The precipitating factor, leading to open and profound struggle over these fundamental differences, occurred in the context where the Party was preparing to carry out a campaign of building a culture of appreciation, promotion, and popularization of Bob Avakian’s role as a communist leader, as concentrated in his body of work and method and approach. Building this culture of appreciation, promotion, and popularization has now come to be recognized as one of the two mainstays of our Party’s all-around revolutionary work (the other mainstay is wielding our Party’s press—all this is discussed in our Party’s newConstitution). But at the time, only a few years ago, discussions about this within the Party revealed, more clearly than had been apparent before, that within the Party itself there was, as a recent internal Party document puts it, “an abysmal lack of appreciation for what had actually been the principal content of the Chair’s work—his re-envisioning of revolution and communism, the new synthesis.” As this internal document goes on to point out:
“The work of this new synthesis had been going on for 25 years at that point; but the revisionist line was turning away from that work, first in non-comprehension and then, as things developed, objective opposition.
“Something new was—and is—struggling to be born into the world; it’s fighting uphill against both conventional wisdom and the dogmatism, along with reformism, of the communists. But this was either opposed by comrades...or else this was ignored, or at most treated as “interesting.” And almost universally its content was not grasped (or eclectically opposed). In practice it was treated as irrelevant. The vulgar empiricism that “theory cannot run ahead of practice”...went essentially unchallenged in the ranks.
“Bob Avakian had been confronting and going deeply into the real problems that had led to all too many people being unable to distinguish Marxism from revisionism after ten years of the GPCR in China. This was ignored by many comrades, and some became downright uncomfortable with this. The fact that he had gone deeply into this and begun to develop answers to these extremely vexing questions: again, opposed—either outright, or through “ignore-ance.” This [revisionist opposition] amounted, objectively, to “buying into” the “death of communism”—in that it replaced living, developing communist leadership, actually grappling with (and forging answers to) the agonizing questions of “why we lost China” with frozen, dogmatic religious faith.”
At this point, the opposition between the revisionist and communist lines in our Party had not only become more fully expressed but had become clearly and sharply focused on the question of whether to grasp, and boldly take out to the masses of people, what is represented by the leadership of Bob Avakian and is concentrated in the new synthesis he is bringing forward—or whether to reject this and refuse to act on it. In these circumstances, the former represented advancing on the road of revolution and communism—because the role of Bob Avakian and his body of work and method and approach consists, above all, in the development of communism, as a living science and strategic revolutionary orientation—while the opposition to this within our Party represented, in a concentrated way, retreating into reformism and capitulation to imperialism, even if this was done while maintaining “communism” as some kind of religious catechism and/or an “alternative lifestyle.”
Fully recognizing the seriousness of the situation and the stakes, as well as the risks, involved—and able to rely at that point only on a very small core within the Party leadership—Bob Avakian boldly issued a call for a Cultural Revolution within the RCP. At the same time, he insisted that this must be a Cultural Revolution in the midst of a Long March—emphasizing through this metaphor that the radical transformation and revolutionary revitalization of the Party, which was the purpose and aim of this Cultural Revolution, must be carried out in the context of, and fundamentally to serve, the transformation of the larger objective world—the carrying out of work by the Party which would actually be guided by communist principles and objectives and would build a revolutionary, and not a reformist, movement. For the reasons that have been discussed here, the focal point and cardinal question of this Cultural Revolution was whether to base ourselves on and actively carry out the new synthesis and the overall body of work and method and approach of Bob Avakian, and the advance in communist theory and strategy that this concentrates, or whether to turn away from that and adopt instead one or another variation—or some eclectic stew—of revisionism.
In a talk earlier this year to a group of Party members, Bob Avakian spoke about his orientation at the start of this Cultural Revolution:
“As I saw and confronted things at the time, more or less 5 years ago, there were three basic choices when it became clear that, despite the continuing revolutionary-communist character of the Party’s “official” line, the Party was in fact “saturated with” and even characterized by revisionism. The three choices were:
“accept this Party as it was, and in essence give up on what the Party is supposed to be all about;
‘quit, and set out to start a new Party;
“or, launch the Cultural Revolution.
“I believed then, and still believe now, for reasons I’ve spoken to elsewhere and earlier today, that the latter course was the only correct course and the necessary course. This is for reasons having to do with how precious a party is, and how difficult it would be to create a new party if in fact prematurely and incorrectly this Party were given up on. But, yes, it is true, there is nothing holy about a party, and if it’s not going to be a revolutionary vanguard, then fuck it!—let’s do something else and get something else. But I believed then, and believe now, that we must not give up on this Party unless objectively and scientifically it is clearly indicated that there is no hope for actually transforming this Party into what it needs to be”
This Cultural Revolution was not a purge but a struggle—an ideological struggle whose purpose and method was not to target individuals but to compare and contrast the revolutionary line with the revisionist line and in this way to deepen the foundation of the Party, and its members, in the revolutionary line while exposing, criticizing, and rupturing with the revisionist line—to revive and give even greater impetus to the orientation of Party members, on all levels, as revolutionaries and communists, to ground this more firmly in a scientific communist method and approach, and to rescue and revitalize the Party as a whole as a real revolutionary-communist vanguard capable of and determined to take on its responsibilities as that, and nothing less. The course and nature of this Cultural Revolution, over the five or so years since its initiation, has been complex and at times intense. It has involved a number of twists and turns and has required repeated, and deepening, ideological struggles to bring about a basic rupture, on the part of members of the Party and the Party as a whole, with revisionism and a leap to becoming—once again, and on a more profound basis—communists and the communist vanguard we are required to be and are now determined to be. It has been marked by different stages, with a decisive advance taking place in its early stages, when the leadership of the Party collectively rallied, in fundamental terms, to the revolutionary line and the leadership of Bob Avakian in developing and fighting for that line, and on that basis deepened its determination and ability to carry this Cultural Revolution through to defeat revisionism and rescue and revitalize the Party as a revolutionary-communist vanguard.
As should be expected in a struggle of this magnitude and with these stakes, the process of the Cultural Revolution in our Party has been one which has involved a dividing out with those who were willing to make their peace with imperialism and its monstrous crimes, even if sometimes they would still call themselves communists, or would express the wish that a better world could be brought into being, so long as they did not have to take responsibility for the struggle, and face the sacrifices that would be required to actually make this a reality. Some people refused, or found themselves unable, to rupture with revisionism and so resigned (or were prevailed upon to resign) from the Party. For the most part, and with a few exceptions,17 those who have left the Party have done so on the basis of insisting that they do not believe that revolution is possible—at least not in this country, not in any meaningful time frame—while some have even acknowledged that they no longer regard revolution and communism as desirable. In reality, what this means is not that revolution is not possible, and communism not desirable, but that these people’s revolutionary will and communist orientation have degenerated and—unlike those who have come forward through the course of the Cultural Revolution in our Party, and once again and more deeply have committed themselves to the cause of communism—those who have turned their back on the Party and on revolution recognize that this revolution and its goal of communism will require, but they are not willing to undertake, “the hard work, the risky work, the often unpopular and ‘going against the tide’ work, to make this a reality.” They no longer meet the basic criteria spelled out in our Party’s Constitution (Part II. Principles of Organization):
The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA is made up of people who have come together to help fulfill the greatest need before humanity: making revolution, as the first step toward communism. They have fully dedicated their lives to this—with great seriousness and great love; with great determination and great passion.
In its principal aspect and most essentially, the outcome of the Cultural Revolution within our Party has been a real revitalization of the revolutionary and communist outlook, objectives, spirit, and culture of the Party—a Party facing squarely, and confronting scientifically, the complexities, the difficulties and the dangers, as well as the inspiration, of doing all it can to work for revolution in this country, and to contribute the most it can to this same cause throughout the world, all aiming for the final goal of communism. And the struggle continues, on a new basis, within the Party to further strengthen, and deepen, its revolutionary character and foundations, in the context of vigorously and creatively carrying out revolutionary work, based on what is in fact the revolutionary-communist line of this Party.
Over a whole period of time, our Party has suffered—while masses of people who have looked to the Party, and the masses of people more broadly whose objective interests lie with communist revolution, have also suffered—as a result of the revisionism which had gained increasing influence within our Party, being fed by, and in turn strengthening, the tendency to adopt an incorrect summation and approach to the situation where the first stage of communist revolution had ended with the restoration of capitalism in China, and imperialists, old and new, were on a rampage to seize on this situation to even more ruthlessly plunder the world and to wage an unrelenting ideological and political war in the attempt to demolish any remaining respect for the great things that had actually been accomplished in that first stage of socialism and to discredit the revolutionary science of communism which brought to light the possibility and gave guidance to the real-world struggle that made possible those great achievements. Through the course of the Cultural Revolution in our Party, we have emerged much stronger, and unified on a much higher level, ideologically and politically as well as organizationally, more firmly grounded in the science of communism, as it has been further developed through the new synthesis brought forward by Bob Avakian, and with the understanding of this as a living science which we must continue to apply and to further develop, in an ongoing way and through continuing struggle.
We have paid a price for sticking to communist principles and objectives and refusing to abandon the road of revolution for the well-worn ruts of reformism—which, it is claimed, is more “realistic” and will somehow “work”—when bitter experience has shown, over and over again, that this can only “work” to keep people contained within the killing confines of bourgeois rule and capitalist oppression. But having paid this price, we are now more prepared to take on the great responsibilities we must shoulder, more determined to rise to great needs before us—to actively work for revolution here, on the basis of the new synthesis brought forward by Bob Avakian, to make everything we do actively and meaningfully contribute to that revolutionary goal, and to fight for this same understanding and orientation in the communist movement in the world as a whole.
Fully aware of very real problems and risks that may be involved in doing so, we are making our experience—and what we have come to grasp, more deeply and firmly, through this experience—known to others, in the communist movement and more broadly, because of its profound lessons and its great importance for our whole cause. Our experience, particularly through the Cultural Revolution in our Party, has greatly raised our understanding of what it means for the masses of oppressed, here and around the world, and for the future of humanity, that such a Party has not been defeated and destroyed—that it has not only persevered but has achieved a real revitalization and strengthening, ideologically, politically and in terms of strategic revolutionary approach and communist orientation and a scientifically grounded determination to work tirelessly to make this understanding a powerful, living reality of masses of people consciously fighting for revolution, yes in this mightiest of all imperialist powers, in unity with people doing the same throughout the world. As our Chairman, Bob Avakian, has recently written:
It is in this way, it is on this scientific foundation and through the application of this scientific method and approach, that we can, and should, have a conquering spirit—and an orientation of (to borrow a phrase from a poem by Yeats) passionate intensity—for revolution and communism.20
 An exception to the general pattern with those who have left the Party on the basis of more or less openly giving up on revolution, is a motley group which has not been content simply to capitulate to imperialism but has set itself up as a small cabal of “parasitic critics” outside the Party, seeking to fabricate “grand rationalizations” for this capitulation by launching highly unprincipled attacks on our Party and its leadership—and in particular our Chairman Bob Avakian—by purveying gossip and innuendo, slander and crude distortion of our Party’s line and work, and even making crude appeals to anti-communism, all while still pretending, for now, to uphold revolution and communism (although this pretense, too, will very likely be abandoned before long). While objectively this represents a minor phenomenon, there are some things that characterize these “critics” which can serve as useful teachers by negative example.
First, the positions and viewpoints that they are now arguing for have the virtue (if it can be called that) of presenting, in a fairly thorough way, precisely the kinds of revisionist lines that were identified, dug out, discredited, and defeated through the course of the Cultural Revolution in our Party—lines whose features we have outlined here in discussing the “revisionist package” that emerged in opposition to the revolutionary line within our Party.
Second, the former Party members who resigned and started up this little cabal have provided a textbook example of the nature of political and ideological opportunism, including in the fact that they refused to carry out principled struggle over their differences while in the Party. Such conduct is in contradiction to and in violation of the fact that it is a basic principle of communist organization, and has all along been an explicit principle of our Party, that Party members have not only the right but the responsibility to raise differences with the line and policies of the Party, in an open and aboveboard way, through the appropriate Party channels. Moreover, during the course of the Cultural Revolution in our Party, all Party members were called on at one point to seriously reflect on their commitment to the Party, its communist principles and aims, and the content and objectives of the Cultural Revolution in the Party, and if—but only if—they were firm in this commitment, to rededicate to this. And it is noteworthy that a certain Mike Ely, who is now attempting to puff himself up as some kind of “big fish” in this little stagnant pond of “parasitic critics,” did in fact make such a rededication at that time—once again without raising any objections or differences concerning the line of the Party and the aims and the course of the Cultural Revolution within the Party. Given that it has now become very clear that he has had disagreements with the basic line of the Party—not only in the last few years, during the period when a Cultural Revolution has been carried out within the Party, but going back well before that—the question naturally poses itself: Why did such a person remain in the Party all that time, while refusing to raise substantive disagreement with or wage open and aboveboard struggle around important aspects of the Party’s line that he has clearly held basic differences with over a whole period of time? The obvious answer is that he remained in the Party, while at the same time concealing major differences, in the attempt to use the Party as a vehicle for his own, opportunist line. Evidently, as a result of the grip of revisionism in our ranks, he found it possiblefor many years to carry out his “alternative lifestyle” inside our Party, pretending unity and more or less doing whatever he wanted, given the rampant liberalism that was a part of the revisionist line and the culture it promoted within our Party. It was only as the Cultural Revolution continued to be carried forward, and as the ground for revisionism was increasingly cut away, that he found it more and more difficult to continue carrying out an opposing line while feigning agreement with the Party. So then, what did he do? He abruptly quit the Party, sought other avenues for the expression of his opportunism, and launched his unprincipled attacks on the Party and its leadership. Before quitting the Party, did he exhaust—or even seek to utilize—the means that exist within the Party for raising and struggling over differences in a principled way? Did he, before quitting, write up a paper expressing his differences and have it forwarded, through Party channels, to Party leadership? Did he request a meeting with Party leadership to voice and discuss these differences? No. Instead, he acted in complete violation of the principles of communism, and in fact in the opposite manner of anyone with any basic sense of integrity. This kind of conduct is not surprising on the part of such a person, not only because of his opportunist political and ideological line in general but also because, especially once the Cultural Revolution was launched and was gaining momentum within our Party, and the sights of Party members were being raised to crucial questions of ideological and political line, and to struggling out these lines with science and substance, had he attempted, while still in the Party, to employ the kind of “tabloid” methods he has used since quitting the Party—innuendo, gossip, “revelations of inside information,” and so on—this would not only have been immediately recognized, within the Party, as crude and ludicrous distortion, and blatant violation of communist principle, but it would have been identified as part of a more overall opportunism, and he would have been required to abandon those kinds of unprincipled methods and instead engage, in a serious way, with the crucial questions of line that have been at stake in this Cultural Revolution, and to defend, by principled and substantive means, the lines he has obviously held in opposition to the revolutionary line of the Party. And he would have failed miserably in attempting to do that, because once again these lines would have been clearly recognized as representative of the very “package” that the Party, and its members, were increasingly identifying as revisionist and waging ideological struggle against as such.
As we have said, in the course of a major class struggle—and that is what this Cultural Revolution in our Party has been: a crucial class struggle, in the ideological realm—things and people are bound to divide out. Our Party, having carried out this struggle on a principled basis, focusing on questions of ideological and political line and seeking to win as many as can be won to the revolutionary line, without compromising with revisionism, has greatly strengthened itself in its communist outlook and orientation and its ability to carry out its revolutionary responsibility; and on this basis we are well rid of opportunists like those in this small cabal of “parasitic critics.” And while the line of such opportunists is utterly bankrupt, our Party, and the revolutionary movement we are dedicated to building, and leading, will bestrengthened as people compare and contrast the objectively counter-revolutionary line of these opportunists and the role they are playing, with the revolutionary-communist line and work of our Party.
(In this connection, see “Stuck in the ‘Awful Capitalist Present’ or Forging a Path to the Communist Future?, A Response to Mike Ely’s Nine Letters,” by a writing group in the RCP, available online at revcom.us.)
 Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, II. Principles of Organization, Article 1 —Membership, p. 18; also available online at revcom.us.
 Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, II. Principles of Organization, p. 15; also available online at revcom.us.
 Bob Avakian, Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, RCP Publications, Chicago, 2008; this work is also available online at revcom.us.
 Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Conclusion, p. 24; also available online at revcom.us.