Lurkers, Step Up: This World Needs Us to Break Old Walls

 

Humanity awaits, the moment unfolds
Humanity awaits, the moment unfolds

by RedFlags

 

Excerpted from comments posted on our thread discussing "Avakian’s Self-Coup Within the Party"

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"Do not let Avakian tell you that he’s all there is and if you can’t buy what he’s selling then it is supposed to be you who is “demoralized.”  Reach out to friends and comrades and don’t let them be lost... Why does it matter? Because not only is revolution possible, here in this country and in our lifetime – but we are witnessing the break up of all the old certainties right now!... All you lurkers reading this and not speaking… step up."

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 The RCP has a well-tried-and-untrue method of starting from the a priori position that the RCP is the vanguard party and Bob Avakian is a world-historic leader (blah blah blah). Everything flows back from this conception.

Members of the RCP have believed this even where they weren’t willing to go to the extreme of a cult of personality. When it became fully cartoonish and desperate - no doubt some have moved on or claimed they gave up.

It’s funny. When I was recently banned from RCP events it wasn’t for giving up or switching sides or ANY kind of accomodation with the government or system: it was because I argue plainly that revolution is possible, just not how Avakian is demanding.

And this is where my anger comes in. Avakian wants those who don’t tow his line to be defeated. It is why he and his followers are compelled to distort the nature of the Kasama project from top to bottom.

The anti-materialist, anti-people, anti-cadre and essentially anti-political method that Avakian has enforced within the RCP has burned people and broken too many comrades’ revolutionary will.

It should be called out for what it is: wrecking activity cloaked in scientistic, religious language to impose what are his personal delusions of grandeur. There is a deeper ideological problem that has allowed him to get away with it, effectively wrecking that great attempt to build a revolutionary party in the USA. But the leadership is his and the responsibility is his.

If a member has submitted to this harsh regime of compliance with the cult of personality (in direct opposition to serving the people by building the capacities of the oppressed to build socialism in our time), when they are all worn out – no doubt many think “that’s all there is” and give up.

No!

Do not let Avakian tell you that he’s all there is and if you can’t buy what he’s selling then it is supposed to be you who is “demoralized”. Avakian’s method is demoralizing comrades and driving them out of not just the party, but has burned people right out of the movement. Reach out to friends and comrades and don’t let them be lost.

Why does it matter?

Because not only is revolution possible, here in this country and in our lifetime – but we are witnessing the break up of all the old certainties right now! It’s not just that the ways we’ve tried to make change aren’t working, the ruling class can’t rule in the old ways.They don’t know how to bring it back together – and we have a rare opportunity. These are the time we were waiting for through long years of treading water. This is the time.

The need for conscious, committed, trained, dedicated, principled communists to make their mark is crying. We need a movement of leaders, not followers. If we aren’t on the field, then the realm of the possible actually shrinks.

Yes, some people have been (intentionally and by design) demoralized to break opposition to Avakian’s cult of personality – but getting beyond that (and now!) is our responsibility. And by “ours”, I don’t just mean Kasama. Comrades must organize themselves and not waste what we do know, our real capacities and experience.

The world needs us to rise to this occasion and break through the old walls, self-limiting doctrines and fear of success. We need to be revolutionaries, not just revolutionists.

All you lurkers reading this and not speaking… step up.

People in this conversation

  • Guest - cassiusghost

    The mooring buoy bobs far from the shore,
    Crashing white crested curling waves deafen us on the shore,
    “To the buoy, comrades, if only to cling till the ship arrives!”
    The storm is coming; a riptide will pull us under.

    Behind us, comes killing a monster of our fears …
    Ravaged our ancestors, the sisters, brothers all past,
    Devoured all the annals of our history,
    Ravaged every forest, mountain and plain.

    In the gray battering winds sweeping in the riptides
    We tremble; the waves can drag us down,
    The waves will drag us down.

    “To the buoy, comrades, if only to cling till the ship arrives!”
    The sand beneath is washing away,
    Behind the monsters are growing,
    Eating, slashing red gore, the groaning.

  • Guest - TellNoLies

    An interesting new book on this question is Immanuel Wallerstein's "Utopistics" -- a term he coined to refer to the scientific discussion of possible futures. Wallerstein argues that we have entered a period of profound upheaval in which the only certainty is that the present order can not survive. On the question of what will succeed it there is enormous contingency, considerably greater than at any prior moment in the history of the capitalist world system. I'd also be very interested in other folk's views on the value of Wallertien and other world system theorists.

  • Guest - Eddy

    well said, and let's add this:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>
    Pray tell me, when bricklayers lay bricks in, various parts of an enormous, unprecedentedly large structure, is it "paper" work to use a line to help them find the correct place for the bricklaying; to indicate to them the ultimate goal of the common work; to enable them to use, not only every brick, but even every piece of brick which, cemented to the bricks laid before and after it, forms a finished, continuous line? And are we not now passing through precisely such a period in our Party life when we have bricks and bricklayers, but lack the guide line for all to see and follow?

    -- Lenin, <I>What is to be done?</I>
    </BLOCKQUOTE>

  • In response to Tellnolies - I've read several books and articles by Wallerstein, including Utopistics. I find his outlook exciting and his theories stimulating -- I like him a lot. I don't know all the parameters of his World Systems Theory approach. But on the other hand I do think, from what I've seen in what I've read, that some of his theoretical points are greatly over-simplified, and some of them wrong, imo.

    For instance his explanation of the "profit squeeze" in Utopistics (I was just looking it over), although it brings in many aspects, is still over-simplified and too neat. In another work he basically puts forward Rosa Luxemburg's theory of imperialism, seeing its contradictions as arising from the fact that (by this theory) it is essentially a means of incorporating feudal (for lack of a better term) agricultural areas into world capitalism, and it is running out of areas in which this is possible.

    There's truth in all this, I think, but it's not complete or enough in depth, and as he puts it forward it's too neat and pat.

    That said, though -- I do agree with Wallerstein that we are approaching or moving into a really epochal period of crisis and change on a world-wide scale -- and also, by the same token, a time of great contingency, which means greater freedom, with outcomes very uncertain. So I really don't want to diss Wallerstein. But I do think we have to understand things more deeply than what can be got from his writings.

    I agree with Jed, too, that we are witnessing the break up of all the old certainties right now -- if we just have the eyes to see it.

  • Guest - patrickm

    ‘The world needs us to rise to this occasion and break through the old walls, self-limiting doctrines and fear of success. We need to be revolutionaries, not just revolutionists.
    All you lurkers reading this and not speaking… step up.’



    I have some questions on RCP history that bears on the Kasama ‘project’ as it appears to be unfolding.


    When was the old, what I would call standard communist-Maoist ‘verdict’, to use the term that is prevalent here, on WW2 re-raised as an issue and overturned in favour of the view that is now held in an ongoing way by the leading figures here at Kasama; and what is the difference between this current view and the view held at the time of WW2 by the historically isolated and despised Trotskyite sects?


    What event triggered this reassessment? Or do I have it wrong; (not understanding the RU-RCP history); is it argued here that the position on WW2 is a continuing ‘verdict’ from the inception of this group; or was there no ‘verdict’ position taken over WW2? The latter would amaze me but would still be an option I suppose.


    My understanding has always been that Maoists have had a ‘traditional Stalinist’ position on WW2 in direct conflict with Trotskyites. Is there a difference between the view of WW2 held by the RCP and the Kasama core (moderators, Mike Ely, Nando etc)? Can someone point me to where this theoretical struggle was fought out (if it was)?



    Also why continue to call Kruschevite revisionism ‘ite’. Is it not because they were and remain a real enemy? They are not a legitimate variant or trend in Marxism that is to be united with as fellow leftists, but are only left in form but right in essence capitalist-roaders and thus to be opposed and exposed?


    True in 1968 revolutionaries were glad of the help provided to the Vietnamese even when the Kruschevite U.S.S.R. was invading Czechoslovakia, and leftists did not ‘beat them up’ when they turned up to march at anti-Vietnam war marches. People just kept to there own section of the march and pushed their own flyers etc. But they were not leftists even though ten years earlier these same people were treated as leftists before the great split.


    Remnant Kruschevites no doubt still turn up to May Day marches and anti-war activities (they always played a prominent role in peace groups in my experience) and continue to discredit anything and everything they are associated with.

    Yet I don’t think any Maoist would be seeking to reverse their label derived from a ‘verdict’ on their politics fought out in an international context in the early 1960s and confirmed by the events of 1968 and beyond and address them more respectfully as Kruschevists. So why is the ‘verdict’ on the theory and activities of Trotskyite enemies of the people now being re-raised? Isn't their history as clear as Kruschevites?

  • Guest - Five Ridges

    I agree that there is something basically wrong with Immanuel Wallerstein’s analysis and “world-system” theory. Very wrong, actually.
    For one, it is based on the dependency theory of Andre Gunder Frank and Samir Amin which falsely argues that just through foreign trade links, capitalism automatically makes other societies capitalist as well. It is based on the false premise that capitalism is principally what it is because of its being geared to the market. That goes against the grain of Marx/s analysis of capitalism.

    To dependistas like Frank, Amin and Wallerstein, the poor oppressed countries are basically capitalist countries, they call “peripheral capitalist” countries just because they are caught in the web of foreign trade with the U.S., Japan and Europe, they call “core” or metropolitan capitalism... Wallerstein only modified Frank and Amin’s dependency by making it more “sophisticated”, by coming up with the concept of “semi-peripheries”.

    What dependistas like Wallerstein did was mess up Marx’s theory. Mao and Maoism was right in identifying the poor, oppressed countries as “semi-colonial and semifeudal”. This holds true until. One of the reasons why the Nepalese revolution has been so successful during its people’s war was the way it rallied people around the banner of anti-feudalism.

    John Steele mentioned Rosa Luxembourg. While she should be credited for her heritage, she was wrong in this department. She maintained that in its imperialist outreach, capitalism would automatically make other societies capitalist. Trotsky made the same mistake as Luxembourg, using the same argument as the dependistas, that trade ties made the poor, oppressed countries capitalist, too.

    This was where Stalin, Mao and Maoism were correct. Imperialism tended on the whole to preserve feudal relations of production in poor, oppressed countries rather than dissolve them. This analysis makes Maoism such a powerful revolutionary theory, as shown in Nepal, India and the Philippines.

    The dependismo of Wallerstein, Amin and Frank should be critiqued by Marxists as a revisionism that runs counter to Marxism.

  • Guest - A voice from Hunan Province

    Question to patrickm - Based on a cursory view of your web site, I deduce we should support the US government funding international finance capitalists, even as it bails them out. Wouldn't this be in line with your site's support for US imperialism in crushing popular resistance to occupation in the Middle East?

    Let Rosa rest in her grave, you without arms, hands and only heads.

  • Guest - patrickm

    A voice from Hunan Province;

    I think it safe to say that all descendents of The Enlightenment (not just any Marxists that are reading) would condemn your McCarthyite attack on the messenger. It’s a blatant attempt to hide from the message. Rather than respond to the questions of the message you have taken direct aim at the messenger! You may as well have said ‘are you, or have you ever been a member of the communist party?’ But the questions are still out there.


    Why not pretend the questions were posed to you by somebody that you respected (like your teenage child perhaps), and just give your views in reply? I don’t mind being patronized, but I would like to know what you think of the issues involved in former communist ‘verdicts’ on WW2, and how these old verdicts require a reassessment etc., rather than being shot for holding the wrong thoughts on other issues!

  • Guest - TellNoLies

    Five Ridges,

    I think your summation of Wallerstein is far too tidy. There are problems with Wallerstein (his fixation on Kondratieff cycles for example), but your reading seems to rest more on stuffing him into a box than on a particularly close reading of him. While it has roots in depency theory I think World Systems Theory should be judged on its own strength and weaknesses. (The key text in this regard is the first volume of The Modern World System.)

    The semi-feudal category made sense for mid-century China and is arguably still applicable to a country like Nepal, but its value for huge swathes of the rest of 21st century Asia and Latin America is another matter altogether. In any event World Systems Theory does not so much deny the existence of semi-feudal relations of production in various countries operating within he world system as it attempts to account for them (or for their supercession) in relation to a globasl regime of capital accumulation. In other words the question of whether a country is or isn't capitalist isn't so neat.

    I have much more to say on this, but I gotta run.

  • Guest - Chuck Morse

    For what it's worth, I really enjoyed John Sitton's critique of Wallerstein in <i>Recent Marxian Theory: Class Formation and Social Conflict in Contemporary Capitalism</i>. He has a very thoughtful discussion of the role of Kondratieff cycles in Wallerstein's work. I thought the book as a whole was very good, with lots of interesting material on the problem of revolutionary agency. Also, for a book that teases out many of the political implications of how we think about capitalism, I found <i>The End Of Capitalism (As We Knew It): A Feminist Critique of Political Economy</I> to be very provocative.

  • Small note to Patrick: why do you <a href="/http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2008/09/17/redflags-a-challenge-to-lurkers-to-step-up/#comment-7013" rel="nofollow">put scare quotes</a> around Kasama "project"? Don't you like our name? In your world, are we only the so-called Kasama Project?

    Meanwhile some of the more substantive questions patrick raises about imperialism, socialist countries and the communist approach to World War 2 are discussed <a href="/http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2008/09/18/from-ww2-to-us-hegemony-is-there-a-single-main-danger/" rel="nofollow">in a separate post</a>.

  • Guest - Linda D.

    I am not sure where to add this comment so am opting for the "Step Up" post:

    To focus on a small snippet of what Mike said in “Serve the People and Maoist Algebra; What’s the Point?” (Comment Nº 23):

    <blockquote>“It is my view that the major line question we face among revolutionaries is whether revolution is possible — and the main question we face among non-revolutionaries is whether it is necessary.”</blockquote>

    I think there’s another very strong element and tendency, in this “major line question”, that leads to skepticism and cynicism, both amongst the more advanced (the revolutionaries) and the people (non-revolutionaries) which is based on both their collective experience. Both have been burned.

    And the question that arises amongst both is: is this new sprout, this new organization, or are these new leaders going to ultimately end up just like the old ones—which covers a whole spectrum; e.g. from our more recent history (and a small sampling), from Obama to Jesse Jackson to the RCP and Bob Avakian.

    I don’t see the question of revolutionaries, or even former revolutionary-activists as simply a matter of their questioning the real possibility of revolution—to boil it down to that almost sounds like one is questioning their “revolutionary will.” It is an over-simplification and doesn’t take into account their experience in the realm of struggle in both theory and practice. Nor do I think that if you really engage with many people who are not wedded to some group or organization, and are considered “non revolutionary”, perhaps “progressive,” you can summarily sum up that “they don’t see the necessity of revolution”. It is too sweeping a statement when trying to figure out a major line question. Many of the latter more likely will “admit” that revolution is necessary but they don’t see how to get there, nor do they see a viable revolutionary pole, line or organization, thus they become pragmatic, and usually settle for something else that appears to be within their immediate grasp. And also, both revolutionaries and “non-revolutionaries” are leery of groups, organizations, parties who automatically proclaim both the possibility and necessity of revolution, and their wariness is often times based on their real life experience.

    In rereading “The RC4 Tour ‘What the Heck was That’?” article by Akil (http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2008/08/07/revolutionary-communist-4-tour-what-the-heck-was-that/), I think there are many lessons to glean, at least by negative example.

    If we just take the RCP’s practice (and line) in that situation, along with their non-summation, how can we be so sure that amongst those same African Americans there weren’t former revolutionaries, or people who still consider themselves revolutionaries, or other people with revolutionary aspirations? Or—that perhaps there were many people who have not only been beaten down by the system, but have had their higher aspirations beaten into the ground or co-opted by self-proclaimed revolutionaries, or opportunists and careerists?

    As Akil said:
    <blockquote>“A movement rallying any group of people around a revolutionary ideology simply can’t be imposed from the outside. It has to emerge from within. For this to happen, revolutionary forces have to already be strongly entrenched within these areas and politically engaged with the people. This apparently was not the case for the RCP with regard to the RC4 tour and their lofty aspirations for it came crashing down on the pavement of material reality.”</blockquote>

    And Akil himself was later expunged by the RCP.

    Now we are privy to Avakian’s summation of most of the RCP’s cadre as being revisionist, ad nauseum.

  • Guest - TellNoLies

    On the question of whether we are experiencing an epochal shift, check out this:

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/15840232?video=859580963

    Its an interview with the senior international economist at UBS. The headline, "Is Capitalism Over?"

  • Guest - Eddy

    <BLOCKQUOTE>
    I don't see the question of revolutionaries, or even former revolutionary-activists as simply a matter of their questioning the real possibility of revolution--to boil it down to that almost sounds like one is questioning their "revolutionary will."
    </BLOCKQUOTE>

    Isn't the question of 'possibility' answered by the interaction of the workings of imperialism AND the agency of the proletariat and allies? In other words, reverting to Lenin's theory, the possibility of prol-rev depends upon both the (outrageous and exposed) failures of the 'status quo' and the (conscious and practical) abilities of the revolutionary people to overthrow it.

    (As I read him, Lenin placed great emphasis on agency, especially in the forms of organization and program.)

    It seems to me that recognizing the 'possibility' involves recognition of the conditions that enable revolution and the transformation of society. Those conditions include 'willfulness'; they are variegated and may also seem counter-intuitive, given the complexity of society and the weight of 'dominant narrative' on the way we perceive the world.

    In part, this is 'will', but it is not simply that (as we know). It requires the 'willful' and dialectical activity of social practice and social consciousness.

    (But it is not a 'gut check', nor does it emanate from either the brain or the endocrine system ;-)

  • Guest - Five Ridges

    TellNoLies.

    Thanks for your comments, but I don’t agree that my summation is far too tidy. I know it may be brutally frank, but I’m just calling a spade a spade, as it should be for revolutionaries. To use the phraseology of dependista theory, you are questioning the “periphery” of Wallerstein theory, as in Kondratrieff cycles, but you seem to accept the “core” of his theory, which in contrast to Marx, describes capitalism as principally a commercial phenomenon, just like Adam Smith.

    If Kasama, or the Left, for that matter, at all, wish to reconceive and group, it must start from a clear understanding of what capitalist, semi-feudalism and capitalist-imperialism are. In my view, based on Marx really understood and explained it to be. To call a spade a spade, there is no revolutionary road without that.

    You believe that the concept of semi-feudalism as a prop of imperialism is not valid or relevant anymore, except for contemporary Nepal. And that, the World Systems theory, the latest variety of dependismo, may be more valid or relevant in understanding imperialism. I beg to differ.

    I think that contributions from the Philippines offer new instructive and relevant insight and clarifications on this matter. An earlier, 1986-written, work, for instance, Philippine Economy and Politics by Jose Ma. Sison and Julieta Sison, that focuses on semifeudalism as basically the rule of the big comprador bourgeoisie. And then a newer 2003 work, Crime of Empire: A Case Against Globalization and Third World Poverty as a World System by a certain Ricco Santos, which attempts to measure unequal exchange on a global scale and in the case of a poor, oppressed country like the Philippines.

    I suggest that we dig in to works like this to enrich our theory.

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