- Category: Communist Organization
- Created on Friday, 26 September 2008 10:03
- Written by Mike Ely
One of the most glaring things about the RCP is the distance between the promise and the delivery. In letter 1 (of the “9 Letters to our comrades” we call this a “disconnect.”
“Many people see this as a bewildering disconnect between Avakian “talking the talk” and his party somehow failing to “walk the walk.” But that summation doesn’t get past the superficial appearance of things. Whatever else can be said: Bob Avakian’s theorizing is an internally coherent synthesis and it is in command. The flaws that now mark the RCP’s work fundamentally arise from Avakian’s synthesis itself, from the methods and thinking it unleashes, not from somewhere else.”
The followng two positions both are lifted from the same document: the RCP’s new Manifesto. Explore the disconnect.
#1: New Synthesis’ Policy-on-Paper Concerning Intellectuals
“…Bob Avakian has criticized a one-sided view in the communist movement toward intellectuals—toward seeing them only as a problem, and failing to give full recognition to the ways in which they can contribute to the rich process through which the people in society overall will come to a deeper understanding of reality and a heightened ability to carry out an increasingly conscious struggle to transform reality in the direction of communism.
Again, as the Constitution of our Party explains:
“‘This new synthesis also involves a greater appreciation of the important role of intellectuals and artists in this whole process, both pursuing their own visions and contributing their ideas to this broader ferment—all, again, necessary to get a much richer process going….’”
#2: The RCP’s Actual Line Regarding Particular Left Intellectuals
The second is footnote 16 in the very same Manifesto document. It is written as a discussion of unnamed theoretical writers in the world today. We can speculate that it targets people like Alain Badiou, Slavoj Žižek and Bill Martin (among others) — all those intellectuals who are not sufficiently enthused about the New Synthesis or who are genuinely exciting radicals of this generation about their own theories.
16. During this present period, some communists, former communists, and “fellow travelers” of communism have conjured up an eclectic brew of scholasticism, agnosticism, and relativism, which is in opposition, in some cases consciously and explicitly, to the new synthesis brought forward by Bob Avakian, and in any case to the fundamental outlook, methodology, and objectives of communism. Those who proffer this brew claim that there is no adequate theoretical framework to explain, clarify, and draw the appropriate lessons from the past experience of the communist movement and to guide practice which would avoid the mistakes of the past, as these people (mis)understand them. Therefore, the argument goes, efforts must be spent on what can only amount to endless and aimless endeavors to discover, in a realm totally divorced from revolutionary practice guided by communist principles, the necessary theoretical framework. Often this is accompanied by an advocacy, if not an actual carrying out, of practical work and struggle on the most narrow basis and of the most reformist kind—another ingredient in this eclectic brew. All this serves, at least objectively, as a rationalization for withdrawing, retreating, or simply remaining aloof from actual revolutionary struggle—struggle guided by communist theory and principles which in fact can be, have been, and are being developed, in dialectical relation with practice, in the broad and not narrow sense—struggle with a revolutionary not reformist content.
It is hardly surprising, especially in a highly parasitic imperialist country—an imperialism which literally preys on the world and billions of its people—that such a scholasticist, relativist, and agnostic orientation and approach would arise, even with a more or less communist coloration, and would find some receptivity particularly among the more privileged strata, and specifically among the intelligentsia. For, so long as one can continue to maintain that an adequate theoretical framework is lacking, one can continue to convince oneself that there is nothing wrong with refusing to make the commitment to the actual struggle for communism, a commitment and struggle which could compel one to move outside of what is, after all, the not so uncomfortable existence of an academe in the world’s wealthiest and most powerful imperialist citadel. What is being objected to here is definitely not the role of the academic intellectual per se, nor grappling in the realm of theoretical abstraction itself—which can be an important area of endeavor and can in fact make valuable contributions, in various ways, to the cause of communism, even when this does not directly involve the realm of politics and political philosophy. Rather, what is being identified, and sharply criticized, is the phenomenon of making a principle of approaching theory in abstraction from revolutionary practice and in opposition to the scientific communist, dialectical and materialist, understanding of and approach to the relation between theory and practice, as this has been discussed here. And we do feel the need to express our impatience with a certain kind of frankly unintelligible and self-consciously obfuscating fluff that passes itself off as, and all too often passes for, radical thinking in academic circles and which at times even masquerades as Marxism.”
Compare and contrast. Explore the disconnect.
Note the sputtering jealousy over “some receptivity” that others get (but that Avakian does not). Note the mean spirited accusation of corruption by the “not so uncomfortable existence of an academe.” Note that all of it is said without seriously engaging with the theoretical views of its targerts — or “their own visions” in the “broader ferment.” And without even the simple courtesy of naming who they are smearing with a broad brush.
Can anyone expect this party to tolerate the views of others — including when it is in power –especially if those views sharply oppose those of the party and if they find “a certain receptivity”?