Sites of Beginning Part 2: Nodules of the Advanced

This started yesterday with Sites of Beginning Part 1: Are Communist Openings Structural or Evental?

by Mike Ely

Let me start here: I listened to someone explain the formation of the Zapatistas.  The process  involved understanding that there were nodules or pockets of the very advanced in very particular conjunctural places among the oppressed people.

And those nodules -- concentrated in particular regions, and in this case, within the Catholic lay structure -- involved the emergence of  literate, energetic and very radical circles within the people themselves, who were able to  "hook up" with organized revolutionary intellectual forces  (from outside) in ways that are mutually transformative.

I think that the previous communist movements have not been able to find or connect with such advanced forces (in the U.S., in several decades.)  I  think our previous communist movement was perhaps able to "see" them sometimes, but not know what to do with them.

Particularly: I don't think our movement was able to transform itself in order to fuse with the advanced (in those specific moments over decades where they emerged and the movement ran across them). Certainly our movement was not able  (through and with them) to develop a partisan connection to the broader people (which would need to happen in the course of  powerful moments of struggle).


Seams or Veins?

Let me sketch a mining metaphor: Coal is a sedimentary layer of fossilized wood -- so it is concentrated in a seam that spreads over a large area. You can dig straight down in southern West Virginia -- and any hole has to pass through the major horizontal coal seams sooner or later.

But rock mineral mining is very different: diamonds, gold and silver exist in nuggets that are embedded along the fissure lines in the hard rock in the crust -- in occasional and irregular cracks where lava once forced its way upward. You can go to Nevada and randomly dig a hole straight down and are very unlikely to hit a pocket of gold or silver. You have to find those old fissure lines, and follow the veins of quartz along those fissures, and explore them until you find the nuggets and nodules.

I'm saying that the most advanced forces in society are not simply a "layer."

Of course, in any situation, anywhere, you can find relatively advanced and relatively backward -- but that is a different matter. Those people advanced enough t0 (1) connect with a revolutionary movement, and also (2) help connect that movement to sections of the people are rare in the U.S. -- and are dispersed in cohorts along social fissure lines where they have experiences special pressures and heat.

And if  you just go "dig a hole" where life has placed you -- looking to connect the revolutionary movement to people there randomly -- you are unlikely to trigger a process of fusing socialism with the people, because the necessary ingredients  for initiating that fusing are not evenly distributed everywhere.

The location of such cohorts of people is not necessarily geographic. In 1994 the anti-immigrant Proposition 189 gave rise to a radicalized section of Latino high school and college students scattered across the state, part of a larger radicalization that has gone on among second generation immigrant youth. In the 1960s, something was happening among Black students and workers that made it possible for the Black Panther Party to suddenly "go national" and gather thousands of members (seemingly overnight) -- Black students had been forming "black power" organizations everywhere and developing training as militants and organizers. Returning Vietnam vets were such a force in the 1970s -- as many returned embittered and conscious, and in networks of co-thinkers.

Connecting well with such networks before they disperse takes very active work, creative fusion, communist training... and a bit of luck.

To be clear: I talk about cohorts -- using the old Roman word for bonded co-fighters, a brother/sisterhood that emerges (including generationally).

In political work, we often run across very advanced and communist people as individuals -- whose special life experiences have brought them a particular consciousness. And that is a good thing. But often the few recruited by previous communist organizations have been the relatively rootless -- who are able to adapt themselves into a rigid pre-existing structure, and who were generally not able bring that structure into deep connection with broader sections of people or help transform that structure in needed ways. The RCP summed up that when it trained occasional communists from "among the masses" they often went back "home" to have great difficulty hooking back up or communicating what they now understood. The RCP's hope of developing them as levers shows that this  process will hardly be  easy. The point remains, however, the advanced who emerge in important cohorts, and who in their interactions -- with each other and the communist movement that some of them may join -- can (potentially) help creatively press forward the process of fusion.

We have to seriously talk about how that can happen. Since we don't yet know how to make that work -- and since the actual details of that need to be worked out in practice, in the concrete, in the act.)

Linking Partisan Communist Work with Strategy

Chicanofuturet is righteously passionate about representing communism among the people. He argues hard with those among us who think that can’t be done. And many of us  have a deep unity with him on this point — a unity  that goes beyond words into practice. Promoting communism, talking creatively and coming from within are extremely important parts of our communist work.

But let's also situate those necessary discussions Chicanofuturet has among the people (discussions of communism’s accomplished past, of our common inherited ideas, of our visions of radical change) within a new strategic plan for an actual movement (a communist movement with a partisan base among the people).

How do we communists arrive (among the people) as the beginnings of a movement (in the present, within this situation) — not merely as a disembodied idea about either the distant past or the distant future)? How do we organize a communist base (and a larger revolutionary current) among the people?

Where the Gaps have Narrowed

One issue (I believe) is that there is a large gap between thinking of the relatively advanced in most places and the ideas that defined a communist movement.

And further there is a relatively large objective gap between the activity of the relatively advanced in most places, and the forms of engagement that the previous communist movement allowed.

People from among the oppressed have had great difficulty bridging those two gaps — becoming communists (in the way that we chose to model it).

And I think we need to find the places and ways to close that gap:

  • by finding those distinct sites (in space and time) where the advanced are actually open to our vision of a revolutionary movement, and
  • by creating a movement that can creatively connect with such forces.

This will need a mutually transformative process, and a resulting fusion will mark the beginning of a new kind of "subject" -- and give shape to the kind of communist movement we create. It will (in some ways) mark its real appearance.


And I think that contact-and-fusion needed to be initiated by now-scattered communists doing new deep investigation  into the highly complex geology among the people.

The Problem with Forays

Let me put it this way: Talking to the people is not enough. I have been in countless “forays” to talk to the people about communist politics. I was part of an organized trend that did exactly what Chicanofuturet describes — nationally and daily for many years in many cities.

Door-to-door in housing projects, dorms and coal camps. In demonstrations. In campus talks. Weekly newspaper with communist agitation. etc. And over and over, lots of people express interest (and respect). Probably hundreds of thousands of people. That is important to note — communist politics has been controversial, but not automatically been self-isolating. It has always found interested people in significant numbers.

But then…. there has remained those gaps -- and an inability of more people to make the  leap from a kind of interested “listening” to an organized and partisan participation. The interest has not ever congealed as a partisan base or network.

And for me the question is: How do we bridge that gap (from the interested to the networks of organized partisan participants)? What are the stages of that process? What are the adjustments in form and speech that would help? What are the forms of organization that would move from “energetic propaganda sect” to an organized network of revolutionized working people themselves?

Connection Without Mutual Transformation

A historical example: In our ten year project in the U.S. coalfields (during the 1970s) — we only recruited one person who was a native coalminer (even though we worked closely with dozens, perhaps hundreds of men and women over those years).

This brother was unusual in many ways -- including in that  he had left the coalfields and worked with the farmworkers union in California etc. — and in other ways had become opened to a large world of ideas and organizing outside the immediate world of the coalfields.

Years later I went back to West Virginia, and met with him on a writing trip — and he said to me,

“I wanted socialism and I wanted to wage the class struggle — but really 80% of what the party was talking to just went by me. I had no idea what all that was about, or why it mattered.”

That speaks to weaknesses in our work more than it speaks to his weaknesses. And I’m saying that some of this is objective — that the political life among working people in the U.S. and the general level of political discourse in the U.S. leaves even the most radical and discontent people rather distant from discussing the complexities of radical transition.


And some of it is subjective — i.e. it speaks to the rather particular conception of “being a communist” that dominated the communist trend I was in (including its always-marked “fetish of the word”).

Part of the problem here was that we connected with the people, but there was not enough mutual transformation. As individuals we communists transformed by adopting some of the local workingclass culture (dress, speech, lifestyles, etc.) -- but as a movement we did not remake ourselves to be able to fuse with the advanced -- and through them connect politically with the people more broadly.

For one thing, we need a movement radiating its ideas — but that isn’t over-intellectualized. And we need a movement capable of listening and seeing -- and then continually transforming itself (without losing its goal, and the road to radical change). That is a very hard mix.

A Method of Starting

Obviously there is an element of uniting a critical mass of revolutionary forces to even initiate an organizing project. Some people have impatience frustration that our discussions (here on Kasama) are mainly among those already socialist. But in fact we need to have some regroupment of revolutionaries -- along common lines and ideas -- to start anything. And in many ways, we have barely started that process (and the necessary theoretical reconception).

As a key part of initiating practice: I think we need to look closely at the most advanced among the people — because they are the link to everything else.

Some think of the advanced as a layer dispersed uniformly among the people (along the interface between the oppressed and oppressor). Some think our main audience is the intermediate (or typical) worker who is not (yet) socialist or political.

But, by contrast, we need to see radicalization as conjuncture followed by contagion. Those advanced capable of fusing with a communist movement (and being its links to larger communities of people) emerge in circles and scenes -- in a conjunctural way along often unappreciated fissures. They are formed in moments, and come in waves. They try to change the world and often sink back into the grayness out of frustration.

We need a serious discussion of “where are the advanced, who are the advanced, what do they believe” — that is based on  organized  investigation among different sections of the people.

What we learn and decide will determine what we do, where we go, and what we say -- and how our movement appears when it is born.

People in this conversation

  • Guest - charley2u

    I'm going to butt in here again, because I am fascinated by your presentation. I am one of those advanced who "fell back into the grayness".

    I was an african-american working class kid who was recruited to the Black Workers Congress right out of high school in the wake of the Attica Rebellion. I went on the join the October League, and was on the Central Committee of the CP(ML) and on that incredible delegation that met with the Chinese Communist Party leadership just before the entire thing collapsed -- as it should have, since we had no idea what we were doing.

    What pushed me back into the "grayness"? One simple thing: the idea among communists that advanced consciousness had to take a specific form. It took me ten years to figure out why I was resistant to this idea. And, it came through working out why I knew that the anti-tax movement was not an anomaly. We were on the wrong side of a very important social movement, and I could feel it, but not put it into words.

    A couple of years later, I was attending college and was friends with a member of some RCP student group who would argue with me about why I wasn't involved. That was not the problem though.

    The real problem was our different ways of analyzing the conservative anti-government movement that had grown up in the wake of Prop 2 1/2 in Massachusetts and the Reagan "revolution".

    I made it known that I understood why people just did not want to pay taxes and hated government. She, on the other hand thought I was off my rocker.

    One day, in the course of revisiting this disagreement, I blurted out this gem which came to me in that very moment, and crystallized for me all my disagreements with the so-called left:

    "Why do you care whether they are against paying more in taxes? It isn't your government; it isn't your state -- it's the capitalist state and people hate it."</blockquote>

    I want to emphasize again: you have to understand the anthropology of capitalist society and how, very often, the way people apprehend its reality is a working out of the hidden processes going on behind their back. People don't know that they hate capitalism and the capitalist state -- most often they just know they don't want to pay taxes.

    It is up to you to understand why they have this feeling and how it connects to the actual unfolding social process. Well done, you will find the advanced in places you never imagined, and in quantities you never thought possible.

  • Guest - PatrickSMcNally

    <blockquote>&gt; I made it known that I understood why people just did not want to pay taxes and hated government.</blockquote>

    What is distinctive about the anti-tax movements is not that people would not want to pay taxes but that they go out of their way to emphasize that they don't want the Koch brothers or Rupert Murdoch paying taxes. The Right-wing conservative character of these movements rests upon a very overt class-identification with the superrich. This is a heritage left over from the days when it seemed like one could arrive penniless from Europe on the eastern shore and thereafter become a millionaire. A middle-class ideology has grown and been cultivated which teaches that since you might succeed in The American Dream eventually, it's better that you should not right now be supporting taxes on people who already are successful. That ideology is much more complex than simply a wish by individuals to avoid paying taxes of their own.

  • Guest - Tell No Lies

    This is a great post and Charley2u's comment is rich with insight into a chapter in my own political formation that I don't often talk about.

    Some here might have guessed that the coversation Mike had about the formation of the Zapatistas was with me. (And I think that for a particular cohort of people who went on to do a lot of other interesting things, Chiapas was "our Mississippi" and needs to be included in our understanding of history of such moments.)

    I've talked a fair amount about my anarchist past and the role of the Zapatistas in causing me to rethink certain anarchist verdicts on important questions.

    But before I was an anarchist, I was a libertarian. As in the Libertarian Party. As in Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and Murray Rothbard. As in the Koch brothers who fund the Tea Party. I was raised in a left-liberal academic family, attended anti-war demonstrations as a kid, generally identified with anti-colonial struggles around the world, at the age of 9 cheered AIM when they seized Wounded Knee, read Malcolm and Che in junior high, and got involved in anti-nuclear power activism and the Citizens Party (an early version of the Greens) in High School. And then at 16 I became a libertarian and got deeply into that for the next several years.

    I've struggled to make retrospective sense of this particular detour in the course my political development and Charley2u's comment brought me back to all that. David Harvey has commented on how neo-liberalism tapped into the anti-authoritarian and anti-statist ethos of the New Left and its success can't be understood without a reckoning with that.

    In the late 70s there were huge swathes of people, including many people from traditionally quite conservative or even reactionary sections of the population, who were deeply alientated from the system as a result of Watergate, Viet Nam and all the upheavals of the 1960s and early 70s. There was a whole white outlaw culture that was very contradictory, weed smoking and rebellious towards authority but generally confused in its outlook on the Black liberation struggle. The ability of the right to re-capture much of that by tapping into peoples anti-system feelings and channeling them into the tax revolt is something that deserves more of our attention.

    I was more or less done with the libertarians when on a lark I convinced a friend to attend a Republican precinct caucus with me in the eraly years of the Reagan administration. We combed our spikey hair down, wore ill-fitting suits that we had bought at church sales and even a couple American flag pins and I introduced resolution after resolution in solidarity with the Nicaraguan Revolution, the armed struggle in El Salvador, the ANC and so on with my buddy seconding them and forcing a debate before each one was voted down 38 to 2. When the time came to elect delegates, my friend nominated me and some other guy seconded after explaining that while he disagreed with everything I said he was just glad to see young people "getting involved." There were ten nominees for ten seats, five delegates and five alternates. I came in tenth, making me the last alternate. That proved good enough to get me called to attend the County Republican Convention where there was a big fight between the grassroots anti-tax crazies and the more respectable moderates. There was a rabid anti-tax resolution and the moderates were offering a modest amendment of support for law enforcement charged with enforcing existing tax laws, a matter on their minds in the wake of a recent local shootout between some far right anti-tax activist and the FBI. I rose to speak against the amendment, arguing that as our taxes were going to support U.S. policy in Central America we should applaud any actions that would starve the imperialist beast, suggesting incongruously that the posse comitatus nut was some sort of anti-imperialist hero. After I had spoken, a few of the anti-tax people came up to me and urged me to go back and run for precinct captain, but I wasn't prepared to take that particular stunt any further.

    None of this is to suggest that these are the places we should be looking for nodules. I don't think they are. But it is to support the view that their appearances are much more contingent than structural and that when we do find them they will probably be in places most of us did not anticipate.

  • TNL writes:

    <blockquote>None of this is to suggest that these are the places we should be looking for nodules. I don’t think they are. But it is to support the view that their appearances are much more contingent than structural and that when we do find them they will probably be in places most of us did not anticipate.</blockquote>

    Yes, the anti-tax movement is not a place to look for the politically advanced. The main problem with the anti-tax movement is not that they don't want to tax the corporations. It starts with the fact that "anti-tax" is merely a selfish slogan for a movement <em>against</em> the "redistribution of wealth" (<em>downwards</em>) This is (obviously) a defense of the <em>current</em> ongoing distribution of wealth, <em>and</em> a demand that more of the wealth go to the participants of the anti-tax movement (and not the poor, or the desperate, or the sick, or the unemployed, the non-white or the aged.)

    The fact that their anti-tax movement so rarely has an anti-war or anti-prison movement exposes their social program and reactionary nature (since obviously so much taxation and government debt is caused war and incarceration). Their blindspot reveals their blindspot (if you know what i mean).

    In one sense, the anti-tax movement reveals contradictions (within society, between sections of the middle class and the government, within the camp of reactionaries). It is not out of the realm of possibility that some might be propelled in a more progressive direction... but that is rare in the right populist movement (for important objective and historic reasons). We should not assume that the emergence of anti-government movements is automatically the emergence of potential allies (since in the U.S. in particular the most vicious and racist populist right movements have historically been anti-federal government -- for reasons that go back to the nature of a settler state, the frontier, the civil war, the opposition to reconstruction, the creation of federal land holdings in the West, and the states rights movements for Jim Crow.)

    It is a narrow and meanspirited movement that is (at its core and by its nature) opposed to our goals -- which have nothing to do with liking this government, or its taxes, or its current balance of war and "entitlement" (what a word!) expenditures.

  • Guest - Radical Eyes

    I have suggested a number of times out here that Kasama make some space for digging into the history, theory, and practice of Libertarain currents within the US. I continue to believe that many people in the United States are becoming "radicalized" and "anti-system" through a libertarian path. There is much to oppose and to struggle against (and to expose) about such a path; but there are also attitudes, and even aspects of ideas with which we might unite (and from which points of unity we can then struggle).

    There are opportunities here, I think, for engaging people and winning them to a different sort of anti-system perspective. But only if we navigate the terrain correctly. Only if we can really dissect the views and contradictions of various libertarian positions.

    Just as one example: It remains the case, as far as I can tell, that some of the most principled and sustained anti-war commentary is coming from a libertarian-inflected places, rather than "progressive" (left liberal ones). Consider . Counterpunch also has its libertarian strains.

  • Guest - RW Harvey

    Quite thought-provoking essays. Mike writes:

    <blockquote>"This will need a mutually transformative process, and a resulting fusion will mark the beginning of a new kind of “subject.”</blockquote>

    This could be the heart of the matter: what goes into a new kind of subject, a revolutionary subject? This is where our existential comrades have a leg up regarding the process of transforming consciousness. The two questions that begin to break the ideological ice that surrounds most of us in America are: "Who am I?" and "How do I choose to live?"

    Or to put it another way, the advanced are those who have these questions and are constantly interrogating the world in which they live and the way they are living in it. It's like that part of what constitutes a revolutionary situation: "the masses can no longer live in the same way." The advanced are at this point but usually individually: they ache from the hypocrisy, the madness, the suffering this system lays down, and they ache to do something about it. Without revolutionary consciousness thee is only life in the grayness where they either seethe or stuff it.

    So it is not primarily an intellectual dimension that have brought the advanced to this place; it is typically passionate, empathetic, and humanistic. To the degree that our communist work transforms the advanced into dogmatic (and oh so learned) robots, it is we who create the aliens that cannot function in the very communities that they came from! That we've turned them into "communists" in the worst sense of this word is a crime and a shame. Personally I'd rather be in the grayness, where I wrestle every single moment with who I am and how I choose to live, than have all the answers linerally laid down in a way that flat-lines my own dynamic struggle.

    This is where Mike's ongoing hammering on the role of imagination, creativity, "radiating our ideas and not overly intellectualized," is so vital and potentially fruitful.

    If the science of communism and revolution becomes the scient-ism that solves contradictions rather than exacerbates them in the hearts and minds of the advanced, we will have lost the passion that brought us to this place originally. When that occurs, we may as well join the Salvation Army, tolling our little red bells on the snowy streets of the imperium as people shuffle by oblivious because we, too, have become part of the white-noise background of the very system that berates and oppresses them daily.

  • TNL writes:

    <blockquote>Some here might have guessed that the coversation Mike had about the formation of the Zapatistas was with me. (And I think that for a particular cohort of people who went on to do a lot of other interesting things, Chiapas was “our Mississippi” and needs to be included in our understanding of history of such moments.)</blockquote>

    <b>On the main point here:</b> That conversation (between me and TNL), where you laid out the details of how the Zapatistas formed, was one of the most provocative and interesting presentations i have heard in a long time. It was mind-blowing for me, and his patient ongoing work on this may well become an extremely important cornerstone on our common work of "reconception and regroupment."

    I kick myself for not having a recording of those two hours (but who knew ahead of time when we sat down what you would share, and who just records personal conversations?!)

    But I look forward to some future moment when you have the time and the final synthesis to put that down -- in a sharp and accessible way. The objective emergence. The connections between the advanced cohort in Chiapas with the revolutionary post-student left, the mutual transformations, the creation of something rooted, distinctive, partisan and new.

    None of this overlooks the problems of the Zapatistas, or the limitations of their strategy -- or even the more troubling possibility that the limitations of their strategy (including the regionally bounded nature of their effort and its view of power) may have (in part) emerged from that very process of fusing and how it was led.

    But I believe there <em>is</em> something worth learning from here -- from the events and from your understanding of them. And raising that up will help us look at <em>other</em> moments of fusion (between the people themselves and the movement for socialism) around us. (Rolpa in Nepal is another episode like that -- it was not mainly "chosen" by the maoists as the site of eruption, the eruption also chose the Maoists as an expression and instrument of its arrival, while the Maoists "chose" to make this the beginning of a national peoples war).

    I also think that there is something to ponder deeply in the fact that this "cohort" of the advanced (a historic opportunity among the Mayan people of Mexico's south) emerged in an unexpected way from within the Catholic Church (and then burst out of it). This has to do with moments when sections of the previously silent achieve literacy and connection with larger outside currents, and there emerge from that opening, people who speak and write and read.

    Anyway... this is a discussion for the future, when we can lay out this episode and research more coherently... and then grasp its lessons more deeply.

  • Guest - Radical Eyes

    And speaking more to the points that Mike is raising:

    I agree that we should be thinking strategically. And doing investigation amongst various strata and organizations of the people to provide us with information upon which to base our strategy.

    Indeed, my call for various kinds of action (leafleting, etc.) on a local basis (aka "in the communities where we live, work, etc.) was couched as part of process of initiating *investigation*. Yes, we would need *some* sort of unity around a document and a set of lines to put out there in the first place, but the *real* motivation would be not to "tell them what we think" but to listen to how people (in different areas, institutions, etc.) respond to a number of crucial issues or questions. (Hell we could do this kind of investigation without even identifying ourselves as Kasama, really.)

    I agree, with Mike, that to simply jump in wherever we happen to be is to turn ourselves over to spontaneity. To give up the responsibility to being deliberate and strategic about how we deploy our scant resources.

    But I guess the question I want to ask is:

    ***** What is or ought to be the method by which we go about determining where, when, and how to pursue the investigations upon which we will then reconceive our communist (fault-line, nodule-directed, cohort-connecting) strategy? ******</blockquote>

  • Guest - chicanofuturet

    charley2u said

    <i>"I want to emphasize again: you have to understand the anthropology of capitalist society and how, very often, the way people apprehend its reality is a working out of the hidden processes going on behind their back. People don’t know that they hate capitalism and the capitalist state — most often they just know they don’t want to pay taxes."</i>

    charley2u makes some interesting points here..

    I agree we should understand the anthropolgy of the capitalist class,as a matter of fact I think we should endeavor to study,understand all aspects of that corrupt class.I agree with the words of Sun-Tzu the ancient Chinese warrior genius..

    <i>"it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."</i>

    In fact,Karl Marx in his magnum opus<i>Capital</i> profoundly researched and revealed the many aspects of capitalism.. <i>primarily economics</i>.

    Marx,like you,had a deep desire to understand how the capitalist class worked out <i>the hidden processes going on behind the backs of the working class</i>.

    Because of his efforts the working class were given a philosophic scientific frame of reference from which they would be motivated and inspired to wage class struggle- revolution- to rid themselves of the chains of capitalist exploitation and oppression.

    As to <i>taxes</i>.I,like you,hate the capitalists taxes because I know that their taxes are just another head of a multi-headed <i>hydra</i> called capitalism which through their taxes rob us like a band of thieves only to hand the people's money over to their families, cronies,political allies.

    One of the other heads of this multi-headed monster I refer to is called <i>inflation</i> which in reality is a hidden killer tax which makes life even more miserable and difficult for the working class and poor.

    Therefore,having stated my reasons,I am <i>anti-tax</i>.Being a communist is to be anti-capitalist and that includes being anti-tax on the working class and the poor.

    Since in this post I'm using mythological monsters as dialectical metaphors/similes.let me bring in another monster capitalism has resurrected from the's called the <i>chimera</i>
    this monster is a creature of deception which traps it's victims through illusion.

    the anti-tax movement is like a chimera because while it may put on a populist,attractive,progressive coloring it does so with a menacing reptilian intent of eating it's victims alive with deadly racism,xenophobia.

    What many of those anti-tax folks are actually saying is.. "I don't want my taxes to go towards paying for those goddamn lazy welfare parasites,or those goddamn illegal aliens getting any public services or free public education...hell no I'm anti-tax all the way!!"

    <i>People don’t know that they hate capitalism and the capitalist state.</i>

    It's the job of communists to educate people about capitalism and the capitalist state-how it works against their interests-how it destroys them.When they understand this they will know who it really was they hated all along.

    IMHO,the best way to be anti-tax to be a communist.

  • Guest - Nat W.

    I do understand now the point Mike is making about eruptions not always being geographic. Though it is also stated we need to find these distinct sites in space and time. I think it is also important that we understand the finite nature of these sites (the time is not infinite), when they do erupt, and if we are lucky enough to be able to dig in and build roots, to figure how to do this, the need to think about what (revolutionaries and the partisan advanced they have successfully linked up with) do to push that momentum forward. In other words, once we "go" to the site of the eruption and forge relationships among the advanced and create some type of a movement, how do we create a movement that is truly revolutionary and can see and take advantage of the opportunities to forcibly smash the old order? When the eruption takes place in one (or a few) significant spaces or in scattered sites all over the country or continentally or throughout the bicontinental region, it is true as you emphasize that new forms of popular power and activity will emerge spontaneously from the masses alot of it led by the most advanced who we will have forged ties with (in this specific scenario, we have assumed we have learned how to forge ties and work with the advanced). It is also true that where ever this has been done successfully, rather in Vyborg or Hunan or Rolpa, the forms of popular power and movements that were creatively developed were ultimately altered through the leadership of a party to meet the needs as the communists generally saw them, of seizing power first and then administering society. I think that along with understanding how to connect with the advanced, there also must be some clarity about our role as communists and how we react to contingent events in order to prepare for and then execute the seizure of power through leading the masses in feeding off their creativity in transforming their creations into organs fit to seize and exercise power. In that regard the work Mike E is doing around the history and contradictions of the vanguard party in cohesion with the TNL work on Chiapas are of vital importance and eagerly anticipated.

    So keep up the good work!

  • Guest - Nat W.

    I don't think i was clear about the relation between the finite nature of eruptions and the opportunities to forge ties with the advanced and on the other hand the importance of clarity on the role of communists when such eruptions appear. I won't assume it is obvious. The link or the importance between time and clarity of role is precisely based on the necessity for taking adavantage of opportunities that arise to smash the current order and thus my emphasis on leading the advanced in a revolutionary and not a reformist movement and strategy. While I would correct myself and say that the forms political power created by the masses may themselves be the actual vehicles for smashing the old order, it is still true that this needs to be given concrete direction by communists (imo). Thus while all the answers about exactly how and when and through which forms to seize and weild power may not be known and can only be fully grasped as a crisis situation develops, the need for clarity of our role and the strageic aims of our movement (ie. J. Steele says in a most recent Khukuri post that "the question on the agenda today is not socialism but communism) is crucial to navigate through the openings created by an eruption. This is because the length of a revolutionary movement in a metropolis (ie. imperialist) space or territory is usally shorter than it is on the periphery where the basis for protracted war and dual power in the form of base areas and red corridors is more possible. Thus if oppportunities are not decisvely taken advantage of in the case of an eruption and a successful connection between communists and the people, then after a relatively short ammount a time this connection may fissle out or regress into reformism.

    Just some (secondary) initial thoughts.

  • Guest - LiamWright

    I think there are important questions that are being grappled with here. Also different methods and ways of looking at how to understand what are the "advanced" and what are the kind of events that we must seize upon. I'll try to take a stab at what I think are some of these different approaches and my own thinking on these things.

    On the question of Mike's piece on fusion of the advanced with the revolutionaries:
    I agree with what he's fighting for here. Its important for developing an approach of "coming from within." Of being a force that becomes the representatives of the interests (and increasingly understood by the advanced and people broadly) of the felt needs of the masses of people, through revolution.

    I think however, we need to understand more thoroughly the relationship between the different components of this. What is the relationship between the main aspects of the fusion: The revolutionaries and the advanced. Which is primary? Which is secondary? How does that get expressed? What are the key aspects that make a revolutionary a revolutionary that must not be lost in this fusion, that we must also pass on to the advanced? What do we want to learn and absorb from the advanced masses? I think this is a way to come at what the Fire Collective has been advocating for of being "deeply rooted and deeply revolutionary."

    I think the answer to the first question is obvious, or should be, the revolutionary aspect has to be primary. The question of revolutionary consciousness and ties to revolutionary organization are the most important part of this equation. However, without the secondary aspect that revolutionary consciousness and organization will be alienated from the advanced masses. There is also a question of seeking to integrate while not tailing. This is going to be a tricky contradiction to handle. We must use the mass line through all of this; with a culture of listening, grappling, as well as being thoroughly unapologetic and unliberal about our goals and analysis. We have to fullfill the role of being tribunes of the people and of actually leading them to take state power away from the capitalists. Or as Lenin talks about in State and Revolution of being "teacher, guide..." of the proletariat. Without all of these components the revolution part gets lost and it is meaningless.

    I think too, we need elaborate further on the question of how to be tribunes of the people in the 21st century. In line with the development of the productive forces (in particular technology and means of communication) how do we do this? This is a question that is inextricably linked to the question of how to integrate into and relate to resistance from the masses of people as a part of a strategy for revolution.

    This is mainly thinking off of having read what everyone has been saying and thinking briefly. This requires serious, ongoing thought.

    On the question of anti-tax activists: We must not simply look to who is "active." As this seems to be the only criteria that would apply to this movement that we could even begin to look for. We must look deeper than simply the fact that they are moving, militantly and with "anti-government" rhetoric. These forces are the forces of reaction most fundamentally. They embody the activists of the most racist, the most anti-women, the most nationalist, the most "me and my own" localist, etc. Their trends are not actually directed at the system in <i>any</i> fundamental way, nor could they be; but rather are used as tools for certain sections of the ruling class as a means to exert influence over other sections of the ruling class and to create public opinion broadly.

    This does not say that there is not contradiction in the thinking or among the ranks of these forces and that here or there some might be able to be won over. But principally these are forces of the most reactionary sections of the ruling class. We must understand who are allies and who are enemies. This is also not to say that we shouldn't understand intimately the thinking, motion, leadership, and contradictions among these forces. This would have to be done more from the angle of seeking to foment the contradictions among their forces, to expose them, and to politically defeat them. It would have to be a part of our strategic analysis if we are serious about making revolution.

  • Guest - charley2u

    One final thought, because folks miss my point, and this point is a fundamental heresy among communists almost without exception: The proletariat IS the communism. It's not a what, it is a who. You don't bring communism to the class, nor bring the class to communism. You simply understand how this communism is expressed in their own demands. Your job is not to replace their demands with your "improvements", but to understand how their demands are the working of their historical role of negating class society...

  • Guest - Nil

    Not heresy among all communist, Charley2u, that sounds an awful lot like the ideas of C.L.R. James (and his subsequent intellectual and political heirs, althoug not all/most of them called themselves communists). You might be interested in checking James out, if you haven't already.

    I'm not sure I entirely agree with that basic point, especially in the U.S., depending on what you understand as the proletariat in the U.S., but it's worth considering.

  • Guest - Nil

    [Somewhat ironically (or maybe this isn't irony, I dunno), it also seems to be the perspective of the 'insurrectionary' anarchists -- just follow the masses, especially when they start burning stuff, the end. ]

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