- Category: Kasama
- Created on Saturday, 01 December 2007 21:15
- Written by Mike Ely
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Letter 1: A Time to Speak Clearly
Letter 2: A Gaping Hole Instead of Partisan Bases
Letter 7: Whateverism in Evaluating Avakian
Letter 9: Traveling Light, Coming from Within
How do we make revolution in a world that seems to conspire against liberation?
With apparent singlemindedness, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP) has been insisting that its leader, Bob Avakian, has the answers for humanity. His new theoretical synthesis (this party says) is a major rupture with, and leap beyond, even the best of previous communism, including Marx, Lenin and Mao. And (this party says) this New Synthesis represents the best and even only hope for the future.
The “Nine Letters” unfold a detailed Maoist critique of Avakian’s synthesis. It engages and criticizes Avakian’s claims and methods. The main author is Mike Ely, a former editor of the RCP’s Revolution newspaper.
These “Nine Letters” excavate the RCP’s inability to establish any mass base or revolutionary movement over more than thirty-five years. They dissect the RCP’s escalating cult of personality around Avakian – with special focus on the cult’s theoretical assumptions, denial of practice, and implications for revolutionary strategy.
In a beginning way, these Nine Letters point to a different road for communists and call on others to join in a very presumptuous work of re-conception and new revolutionary practice.
Standing at a lectern, young Omar looks into the camera.
The crisis in the communist movement, he says, “has given us the right to make a precise accounting of what we possess, to call by their correct names both our riches and our predicament, to think and argue out loud about our problems, and to engage in the rigors of real research.”
This moment has, Omar continues, “allowed us to emerge from our theoretical provincialism, to recognize and engage with the existence of others outside ourselves. And on connecting with this outer world, to begin to see ourselves better. It has allowed us to develop an honest self-appraisal by laying bare where we stand in regard to the knowledge and ignorance of Marxism.”
Omar scans his comrades scattered across the room and adds: “Any questions?”
 La Chinoise, film by Jean Luc Godard,1967, Our translation from French. The crisis Omar was discussing was the great struggle that followed Stalin’s death and Krushchev’s denunciation.
These letters emerge from a collective process. Mike Ely has been a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP,USA) since its founding in 1975. Over the last 25 years, he worked as staff writer and then an editor of the party’s press. Many comrades, inside and outside circles of the RCP, sharpened the work. Among them: J.B. Connors, Rosa Harris, DMC, JB and JS shaped and deepened the letters at every stage, fighting to go from perception to underlying dynamics.
These letters attempt a critical excavation of political and ideological substance. However, they carefully avoid direct reference to internal events, documents, organizational structures and internal activities of specific personalities. This restraint means that potential documentation of some arguments remains submerged.
Footnotes and Quotes:
I have used footnotes to fill in background information for readers not familiar with the history and terminology of the RCP. Quotations that are not directly cited are formulations used by the RCP.