Maoists and iPhones: On New Tech And Blaming the People

This post originally appeared on the RevLeft discussion board this spring, before Obama was chosen as the Democratic party nominee. An extensive debate followed the post.

by Mike Ely

In an article called Refusal to Resist Crimes Against Humanity is Itself a Crime Avakian (head of the Revolutionary Communist Party) said, in one of his extensive talks:

"Not all, but still too many, Americans—especially within the middle strata, although not only there—are in a real sense falling into acting like children, easily distracted with toys. 'Here at midnight tonight—the new i-Phone!' People will line up, and fight each other to get in line, to get the new i-Phone, but they can’t bring themselves to mobilize against the torture and the wars and everything else that is being done by their government, in their name and right before their eyes—this is not even really being hidden."

 

I need to respond -- speaking as a Maoist and as someone who believes in serving (not blaming) the people. There is a lot wrong with BA's uninformed rant that needs to be unraveled.

* * * * * *

 

First the title captues the theme: "Refusal to Resist Crimes Against Humanity is Itself a Crime."

Let's discuss whether we can say that the masses of people are committing a "crime" of complicity.

There are huge problems in how to bring people to a fighting front against this system -- at a time when so many are both infuriated and passive. But what claim to leadership can anyone have who so crudely charges the masses themselves with "complicity" or even "crime"!?

To think this is about people being merely "distracted" or childish is (need I really say?) very shallow.

True: the masses don't *see* alternatives, so they don't create alternatives. They *believe* that the Dems will end the war -- or more precisely they confuse their hopes and projections with belief. They are buffered, pacified, atomized, bombarded by lies, not monolithic and restless.

But this verdict conflates (mushes and confuses) two things: the willingness of the masses to act, and their willingness to act along specific lines DEMANDED by this small political group. For communists to confuse these things is to lose the mass line completely.

These cheap shots about complicity "point the spearhead down," at a time when this party is itself falling painfully and crudely short.

And look: What is going to happen now? The political juice of this country will now flow into the elections. there will not be an impeachment movement (unless some new scandal or war erupts) -- october 5 2006 was the last window for that. Now the huge sucking sound will be the elections. And there are huge contradictions within that -- because the leading democrats will not (and do not now) oppose ending the war. (Hillary's call for continuing both U.S. bases and combat operations until the end of her first term is only the most blatant example.)

There will be a "stop hillary" effort by the Daily Koz folks.... and then what? If an attack on Iran emerges (and the Dems fall in line with that), huge eruptions are possible.

Who can think that the RCP has positioned itself (and advanced forces in society) wisely or well to deal forcefully and creatively with that coming storm?

What about the cascading DE-motion of organizing and struggle in the universe of the RCP?

* * * * * * * *

Second point:

 

The old CP railed in the 1960s against people who played electric guitars. Now Avakian rails against people who try iPhones in the 21st century.

It is really conservative cluelessness mascarading as scientific truth and radical visions!

Part of Kasama’s critique of the RCP involves this issue of “living in the 21st century” — including on the question of technology. Rather than being on the cutting edge, the RCP has remained stubbornly clueless about all of this… aggressively removing their DVD materials from youtube, resisting even email for a decade between 1996 and 2006, treating the web as "just another way of publishing a newspaper," and conceptually focusing on “getting into the superstructure” (onto TV etc.) without considering the ways that superstructure is fragmenting.

What excites people about the new technology

Let's step back and ask what is really involved and what really excites people:

The change happening in mass media today is far more rapid than the shift to radio that happened in Weimar Germany.

Forms of technology, streams of data, means of independent creation, undermining of traditional hegemonic ideological centers, method of new dissemination -- all this is mushrooming and morphing in unprecedented ways. And people are creatively learning to use this to "get around" so much of the previous institutionalized crap and constraint in society.

Revolutionaries used to be on the cutting edge -- the European Reformation is inconceivable without the massive exploitation of the new printing presses. Communists jumped to take advantage of new mass literacy and the explosion of newspapers during the 1800s. Lenin's communists were ferocious in their attempts to innovate using film in the new Soviet Union (even creating movie theaters within armored trains during the civil war.)

Yet, the RCP is a party that clearly doesn't have a clue about really using the explosive potential of the internet, youtube, interactive discussion.... except as a stodgey one-way repeat of nineteenth century newspaper paradyms.

Yes: people line up when a new leap may be happening in the merger and delivery of info-paths -- as phone and internet and multimedia come together in a cool new way.

Yes some people want to be on the cutting edge of that -- and struggle to participate in the new ways human society is handling information, art and ideas.

Was there some silliness and corporate hype in the frenzy over the iPhone -- obviously. Is there privilege in the way technology is marketed and distributed -- obviously.

Is that the essence of the matter? Obviously not.

Is everything that has arrived with the internet, video games and new communication technologies positive? Obviously not -- especially in its corporate implementation and exploitation. There are new forms of advertising and surveillance, and new arenas for distraction and mental fragmentation.

But, perhaps rather than babbling uninformed nonsense about iPhones, more communists should investigate (gawd, do some real investigation!) into how the convergence of devices is potentially IMPACTING and TRANSFORMING the future of modern political discourse!

For a hundred years, the "mass media" of modern capitalism has undergone relentless monopolization -- the defacto censorship of the available culture by fewer and fewer hands. And now, suddenly, the internet, social networking and the explosion of digital media allows the fragmenting and cracking of that monopoly control in ways that have not even yet become clear.

Is this a major new social development, one that revolutionaries to be excited and curious about? Or is this all just the playthings of the privileged?

Some Quotes

In “Bringing Forward Another Way,” Avakian writes:

“I want to say, just for the record, that at times I myself have been acutely disappointed by—and, yes, have cursed in graphic terms—the people in this society who are sitting by and doing nothing in the face of atrocities and horrors committed by their government and in their name…’” This is bitter, mean-spirited "blame the people, curse the people" nonsense.

Here are some quotes from Mao that provide a valuable AND TRULY COMMUNIST orientation. Compare and Contrast, as Mao says:

"As for people who are politically backward, Communists should not slight or despise them, but should befriend them, unite with them, convince them and encourage them to go forward." As for speaking without knowing, Mao said:

"A Communist must never be opinionated or domineering, thinking that he is good in everything while others are good in nothing; he must never shut himself up in his little room, or brag and boast and lord it over others."

 

Finally: Here is a related quote featured prominently on the Revolution newspaper website by Bob Avakian:

“The politics of the ‘possible’ is the politics of monstrosity. To adhere to, or acquiesce in, the politics of the ‘possible’ is to support, and actually to facilitate, monstrosity.”

 

It is worth thinking through, and debating, what that means. The politics of the possible refers to those who think that it is possible that the Democrats will make a difference, and that nothing else is currently possible.

Are the people who hold these illusions actually supporting and faciliating "monstrosity." Is it really that simple?

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  • Guest - Linda D.

    "But this verdict conflates (mushes and confuses) two things: the willingness of the masses to act, and their willingness to act along specific lines DEMANDED by this small political group. For communists to confuse these things is to lose the mass line completely."

    The above paragraph speaks to a snippet I wrote in response to the RC4/Akil B. post. :

    "But if the likes of the RCP goes into the community–suddenly–without having any ties, without really being involved in the struggles that people are waging (I think this has more to do with them (the RCP) not having hegemony over those struggles and they would have to contend with different forces and lines),"...

    Don't you think that a lot of this overlaps, but coming from a basically incorrect political line? or am I mushing this all together?

  • Guest - Quorri

    Mao basically says: "stop thinking you're the awesome shit and get down with people, all people, to try to figure out what is really going on and to figure the best way to unite with them and draw them forward politically." Blammo, BA's crap falls to pieces in front of this line.

    BA supports going out to the people and TELLING them what they must do rather than asking them what they think must be done....BA comes from a point of view where he assumes himself and the RCP just are RIGHT and therefore everyone else is wrong, without even fully exploring the issues with the people they affect.

    I think that we can manage to unite with quite a large group of people if we really take the RCP's whole unity struggle unity line seriously and put it into action. I think that was one of the gems of the RCP when I was around them. Not that it was always practiced, especially not in the face of reformists or whatever... Often, instead of trying to struggle through to unity, people will just scream at someone who doesn't agree, "Get the crap off your iPhone and get in this protest!!!" That helps no one, that electrifies no one, that drives people away.

    I had this experience once when I was a Nader activist in the 2000 elections. (I know, everyone hates me for it :P) This kid on the republican side of the invisible line we were all battling between started taunting me with some republican shit. I countered with asking him about his beliefs and lines instead of returning attacks. I really, honestly just kept asking him questions that forced him to think critically about what he was saying. Luckily, he was game. Every once in a while I would drop a piece of knowledge or fact that he was unaware of. After about half an hour, he literally threw down his sign, stripped off his republican shirt, and walked over to the Nader side of the line and picked up a Nader sign.... that was a powerful lesson in how to unite with people where you can, and how to treat people with dignity no matter what you perceive their shortcomings to be, political or not.

    Ok, I feel like I'm rambling now.... but this article is perfection. Except that paradigm is spelled paradigm :D

  • Guest - Iris

    Quorri--

    I don't hate you for supporting Nader! I worked with the mainstream pro-choice movement for two years--Planned Parenthood Vox, NOW, NARAL, etc.--and so I was roped into going door to door for local elections and presidential elections. I thought I was doing the only thing that could be done. And I had a similar experience once, though not as dramatic.

    I was out with comrades in Guantanamo jumpsuits and hoods, promoting Oct 5th on campus. These guys came up, all silly taunts and mocking questions about our 'liberal credentials'. I tore my hood off and asked them, as calmly as possible (I have a bit of a temper), what they thought about the John Warner Defense act of 2006, illegal torture, etc. I asked them to take it seriously, even if they didn't agree with me. They actually stopped short, asked questions, and walked away thoughtfully, in silence. Like they were shocked that I wanted to discuss, not prostelytize. I don't know how common this occurence is, but I think we can all remember ourselves at one time, running into a particularly patient and knowledgable and sincere person, who helped to radicalize us. I admit that this approach is much more difficult, and takes practice and serious commitment to the masses (which I am learning).

    I compare this to another experience (with some shame) that happened at the Oct 5th rally. I was on the bullhorn for first time in my life. I'm usually far too shy, so emotions were running a bit high for me. A heckler screamed "Shut up!!" and I completely lost my head and laughed "You shut the fuck up!" He was outraged, and I saw the faces of onlookers--potential supporters--twist into grimaces. There were children present at this demo as well, so I was pretty embarrassed. I think i still have invisible training wheels on sometimes (yeesh :P).

    Thanks for sharing your story, quorri, it's great! I would like to start a thread on how to struggle sharply but in a comradely way, with backward and progressive people. To listen and learn, not always teach. To always tell the truth as you know it.

    ******

    As for the article itself, I agree with Mike that the RCP seems to be a bit behind on technology and I see this as part of a larger generation gap in the party (as I've worked around it). A friend argued that WCW has been much more technologically agile--youtube videos, TV appearances, etc, implying that that had to count for something. R just recommended a polemical video on youtube between Sunsara Taylor and Chris Hedges, I think.

    And even though I agree with much of what the article says, I think BA was referring specifically to commodity fetishism, not the phone itself, as a poster on revleft said (8 whole pages of debate!). The way he refers to it may be incorrect though.

    I am on the fence on this issue of "crimes of complicity". I feel frustrated at people's passivity, and in some moments, even my own--but are they committing a crime? Am I if I don't go to every b. dem. demo downtown? I feel like the effort where I live has become stagnant, and that the few of us who have organizing experience need to spark things again.

    So, some questions. I think this is really important:

    1. How should we bring anti war activism to people without comparing them to "Good Germans"?
    2. Is this analogy wrong or correct? How?
    3. There was a way that WCW switched positions (on impeachment), and had dodgy nebulous answers to common questions (what is 'driving out' exactly? how does it relate to congress? what is next? who founded this group?). How can an affective anti-war initiative not repeat these weird mistakes that are easy for a broad coalition to fall into. I got the feeling that people wanted us to give more radical and concrete answers to these questions, or at least be very active.
    4. i am now accused of not wanting to 'take the truth out sharply' to people if I disagree with RCP tone or method. what do you all think is an appropriate approach? How does one tell the truth but not be shrill? And how much should we worry about this?

  • Guest - Iris

    “The politics of the ‘possible’ is the politics of monstrosity. To adhere to, or acquiesce in, the politics of the ‘possible’ is to support, and actually to facilitate, monstrosity.”

    I have seen this quote many times. It seems odd to me, in some way. Isn't it natural for people to envision things in terms of what is "possible"? Isn't it the communist's job to present new possibilities to the people? BA himself says that what people will tolerate is directly related to what they think is possible. I thought that he was implying that we need to expose the system, and WITH THE MASSES, set the sights higher. Isn't that our work? Does it follow that people are monstrous criminals--on the level of Cheney, or torturers in Guantanamo--if they see the world in terms of what is natural?

    And it has this wierd stilted quality, like it is meant to be a Quotable Quote. I hate that!

    he has this other quote, to paraphrase--the more one believes the Democrats are something that they're not, the more one becomes what the democrats actually are. I am a little leery of this distillation as well. Thoughts?

  • Guest - Iris

    Sorry to multi-post. Maybe if the first quote above were addressed to communists themselves, who I assume are human beings that sometimes get burned out, or lean toward reformism in dark hours--maybe it means something different?

  • Guest - Nathaniel

    It's utterly ridiculous that the RCP has not put the Revolution DVD on Google Video, or at least significant portions. I don't think there is even a "trailer" of any sort.

  • Guest - Iris

    I youtube'd 'RCP' and got nothing; I know the "Next Stop: Revolution" promo is up; 'Bob Avakian' has some footage from the 60's and some 'fan videos' in tribute to BA. Not many views; very few comments (few of them pleasant, even from leftists). 'Revolution' pulls nothing about the RCP or the DVD. The fan vids were posted by someone named 'LeftUnity'--they are promoting videos of the major U.S. and international socialist/worker/communist parties.

  • Guest - Iris

    Oh, and "50 reasons" from Carl Dix is up.

  • Guest - Quorri

    Maybe they didn't post those videos on You Tube or anywhere because they wanted to SELL them.... Ouch.

  • Guest - Quorri

    Hey Iris, you ask some great questions:

    1. How should we bring anti war activism to people without comparing them to “Good Germans”?
    2. Is this analogy wrong or correct? How?
    3. There was a way that WCW switched positions (on impeachment), and had dodgy nebulous answers to common questions (what is ‘driving out’ exactly? how does it relate to congress? what is next? who founded this group?). How can an affective anti-war initiative not repeat these weird mistakes that are easy for a broad coalition to fall into. I got the feeling that people wanted us to give more radical and concrete answers to these questions, or at least be very active.
    4. i am now accused of not wanting to ‘take the truth out sharply’ to people if I disagree with RCP tone or method. what do you all think is an appropriate approach? How does one tell the truth but not be shrill? And how much should we worry about this?

    I really think you should start these questions as there own thread on Kasama threads..... otherwise I'll get back later on this post to respond to them.... either way ;)

    But I will say, briefly, that anytime you have questions about how to take something out to people or questions about why or what exactly you're saying and you get instantly shut down or attacked for it, it is because they don't want you to ask those questions and/or don't have the answers (i.e. perhaps they weren't given the answers but just the task and aren't allowed to question things themselves...... pressures and powers at play....) I mean, I've used those same tactics of control in many an argument or discussion in my life where I wasn't being totally honest and was being manipulative instead, it's a common power play.

    P.S. Did we meet at a concert last January/February? The Coup?

  • Guest - Joseph Ball

    Mike Ely seems to have really misunderstood what Avakian is saying. Avakian is not complaining about I-Phones because he is against technology. He is complaining about how imperialist super-profits enable the 'middle strata' in America to afford gadgets like I-Phones and that this bribery buys their acquiescence to US imperialism and all the torture, genocide and barbarism this entails. Yes, these people are complicit. They elected Bush twice. In my country they elected Blair three times, once after he had committed the crimes of genocide and waging a war of aggression against the Iraqi people.

    OK, you ask, if the middle strata are as bad as all that, how do we make revolution in an imperialist country? I haven't got an easy answer to that. And as far as I can gather,neither has Avakian. But at least he identifies the problem and tries to grapple with it. Mike's line just avoids the whole question and lapses into trade unionism and reformism.

  • Guest - Iris

    Lol, I wish I had seen the Coup! What city are you in, if you don't mind me asking?

  • Guest - Iris

    Ps how do i start a new thread?

  • <a href="/http://z11.invisionfree.com/Kasama_Threads/" rel="nofollow">Kasama threads</a> exists so you can start new threads.

  • Guest - Iris

    I have started <a href="/http://z11.invisionfree.com/Kasama_Threads/index.php?showtopic=196" rel="nofollow">a thread on the questions</a> I asked above.

  • Guest - N3wday

    Joseph Ball writes:
    <blockquote>"Mike Ely seems to have really misunderstood what Avakian is saying. Avakian is not complaining about I-Phones because he is against technology. He is complaining about how imperialist super-profits enable the ‘middle strata’ in America to afford gadgets like I-Phones and that this bribery buys their acquiescence to US imperialism and all the torture, genocide and barbarism this entails."
    </blockquote>


    I'm going agree with Joseph on the above mentioned point. I don't think what Avakian is pointing to here is in any way an attack on technology itself. Mike's post is confusing because it mixes a valid criticism of the RCP's use of new technology with the RCP's point about complicity. The result is a very confusing criticism, which parts of is wrong.

    However my unity ends there.

    Here I'm forced to ask.. Complicity is a subjective, conscious action (or non-action) correct? If that's so then what is the validity of Joseph's argument, because he seems to be saying that people who aren't aware they are doing anything wrong are automatically complicit and are committing a crime. In other words the role of the vangaurd is liquidated. There is no need to make people aware of the need to struggle against the system because it's obvious, and anyone who isn't acting is committing a crime because they know something awful is happening, and have to tools and know-how to challenge it.

    This simply isn't true. People are not JUST bought off (yes some are and some really are complicit, but not the audience Avakian was / should have been talking to). That's a far too simplistic analysis. Everyday people are indoctrinated by the ruling class to believe one of three things, 1. Nothing is wrong, 2. Nothing they do will matter, or 3. The only thing they can do is try to vote the problem out of office.

    And guess what, most people believe that. Not because they are bad, stupid, or complicit, but because the ruling class is powerful, has an incredible propaganda machine, and we revolutionaries have utterly failed to challenge those ideas in any sort of effective way. Look at the anti-war movement in the US. We got so caught up in acting we forgot to make any real penetrating analysis of why it was ok to pull out (why there wouldn't be a civil war with massive bloodshed after a withdrawel). Is it the people's fault for not wanting a civil war in Iraq? Just the opposite, they thought they were making the best decision, and we failed in our duty to the people of the world to persuade them otherwise. And guess who's cleaning up our mess? Bourgeois intellectuals like Christopher Hitchens.

    The problem isn't the people, it's the mass line.

    Also BTW the electoral college elected Bush twice, not the people. We live under different governments.

  • Guest - Joseph Winter

    Avakian has nobody to blame but himself. He failed in gathering the masses, so let us take up the duty in educating the working class on other options.

  • Guest - land

    Iris's questions were to the point.

    Lining up for i-phones is not the problem.

    Are people committing a "crime" of complicity. Sometimes yes. WCW has a sticker silence plus torture is complicity.

    I remember the word complicity surfacing after 9-11. Immigrants were being swept up and disappeared. The quote from Martin Niemieller was used alot. "First they came for the communists..."
    There were examples of the silence when the Japanese were herded into concentration camps.

    One of the things we said alot was "if you come for them you will have to come through us.

    Judgement at Nurenberg Movie: Spencer Tracy, the judge, wants to find out what the German people thought of the crimes of the Nazi War criminals. He asks the housekeeper and her husband where he is staying "What happened?" The housekeeper is very uncomfortable and said "We didn't know." Her husband said "we were just little people what could we have done.?"
    Tracy says "I thought you didn't know".

    Good debate.

  • Guest - Nando

    A historical note:

    The analogy with Germany is often raised, and it is relevant.

    Were the German people guilty as a whole of the crimes of nazism?
    Did they all know, and accept or support those crimes?

    This debate raged (btw) through the 1930s and 40s -- and especially in the aftermath of the war (when there was a debate over how to restructure Germany).

    The british government in particular pushed a line that said they were a guilty people. they had "collective guilt."

    And (interestingly for this discussion)it was the communists who then opposed this theory of "collective guilt." they argued that there were shades of responsibility -- having to do with political affiliation and class.

    This led to a focus on exposing and repudiating the nazis (in the eastern zone of Germany, that then became the German Democratic Republic) but a focus on punishing the people in the British zone of the west (which was coupled with a general trend of half-hearted "de-Nazification" in the west, and a focus on anti-communism for political regroupment among the Germans).

    So if we make an analogy between Hitler Germany and the U.S. (and we should) we also need to dig deeply into different lines on how to sum up Hitler Germany.

    some thoughts on that:

    This situation was complex in germany. And it was not so simple that "silence + holocausts = complicity" -- in other words, the German people were not as a whole guilty of the crimes of the nazi regime.

    there were in fact levels of guilt, levels of complicity and also levels of knowledge of the crimes. And there were levels of coercion.

    On coercion: this was, after all, a Nazi regime, a fascist regime, and its crude police state was aimed at the people and at any resistance. If the german people had simply been complicit, the need for this state violence (and this fascist suppression of any dissent) would have been unnecessary.

    Now, let's deal with the complicity for a moment:

    Hitler was very controversial as he rose to power. Obviously he was hated by "the left" who were a huge chunk of the people. And he was also suspicious to the conservative right (who saw the Nazis as rude street thugs, in contrast to the old, dying world of aristocratic pretenses).

    But after he won easy victory (Anschluss annexation of Austria, absorbtion of Bohemia, quick victory over Poland, etc.) and after the depression was eased by a hyper war economy (full employment even in the midst of regimented war-time scarcity) -- it has to be said that his popularity rose. (The communists of the late thirties had it wrong when they portrayed the pre-world war Nazi government as isolated and resting on terror. The situation was more complex.)

    And, as we experienced after 9/11, the ability of a government to portray the whole country under attack helped them rally a certain nationalist mood (homeland defense) -- even when they were (in fact) quite aggressive.

    If you read the pamphlet "road to the deathcamps" (which should be posted here on kasama) you can see that the government targetted some key groups with extreme repression, and then cast a net of threat on far larger groups. (rounding up people who were fully jewish, while merely endangering the "mischlinge" who were half or quarter jewish). there was state violence mixed with state threat -- designed in many ways to silence those watching.

    Were there people complict? Of course. There were active supporters of the nazis. There were people who benefited from the round ups (even crudely so when jewish colleagues or superiors or competitors left an opening for advancement in academia or business). There were people who saw and did nothing (out of fear, or ambivolence, or indifference, or selfishness.) And then there were people burning with rage and yet paralyzed by a sense of impotence. And then there are those who found the ways to resist.

    And, it has to be said, many of the forces of resistance acted in quite symbolic ways, or often organized themselves in secret but did little. Many of those who acted forcefully in ways that left a public trace, were then uncovered and rounded up.

    Some Germans said they were just following orders. In a Nazi worldview that may seem like a reasonable excuse... but it is not. Some Germans said they "did not know" about the holocaust -- and that is a more complex question. In fact, they all knew about the round-ups. They knew Jews had been purged from society, and removed "to the east." And by the end of the war, it is clear that rumors of mass murder were moving through the grapevine -- from person to person.

    One woman, who was alive at that time, told me that someone at her family dinner table (in a small German university town) spoke a blunt attack on Hitler (in 1944), and someone sharply said "watch what you say, or we could all end up smoke out of a chimney."

    that story suggests to me that there was wider knowledge of many DETAILS of the "final solution" -- not just the much earlier roundups after the Nuremburg laws. Was their silence simply "complicity"?

    Around that dinner table, people did not report the person to the police (they weere not complicit in that degree). And there was (as the war went on) more and more outbursts by people (against the government, the war, the coming defeat, the horrific loses in war, etc.) -- which even when individual started to represent a rise of defeatism and a growing consensus of opposition to the Nazis.


    It was, as I said, a complex scene. And i think there are degrees of complicity, support, and opposition.

    And there was a conjunctural element: as the war progressed (and especially as reverses happened), those supporting the war were demoralized and those opposing the war were encouraged. What seemed impossible at one moment, seemed imperative at the next.

    Now let me just mention for a moment the example of the White Rose, which has been promoted by the RCP (which has rarely ever mentioned the far more impactful and extensive communist resistance). Was it the view of the White Rose that those who were silent were complicit? No. They saw themselves as a voice (and a clarion call) to those forced into silence, and who finally were having an opening to speak (as the reality of defeat was sinking in). They did not curse the masses, they tried to reach them. If you watch the rather remarkable films aobut the White Rose, you can see that their main work was outreach, and (like the civil rights workers of the South) they were filled with a quite powerful moral sense of the justice of their cause AND OF THE ABILITY OF OTHERS TO BE WON OVER.

    The rise of "defeatism" in both the army and civilian population (that came on the heels of Stalingrad, and the massive losses of the German army) was the political sea that the White Rose emerged from and tried to swim in.

    The indiscriminate charges of "complicity" put forward by the RCP really don't make necessary distinctions. And it is tied to a rather mechanical association of privilege with complicity. That is why Joseph Ball chimes in in defense of those charges -- since he is from that (rather paralysed and demoralized) political camp that believes the whole population in the U.S. is privileged, bought off, and complicit -- and cannot be won to opposing the system. And that the only hope lies in the sacrifice and struggle of others.

    In short: I think there are degrees of guilt. There is complicity with great horrors, and degrees of complicity. But it is wrong to assume that the silence of a population is simply complicity -- when their paralysis arises from a complex of things (support for reaction, ignorance, lack of a visible channel for sacrifice). Often we (the conscious and organized forces) are lagging -- and have to take responsibility.

    To advocate "guilt tripping" (as has been consciously done within the RCP), really misreads the contradictions, and it departs from a communist view of those contradictions.

  • Guest - Linda D.

    Nando...during the reading of your last comment, the whole time was thinking of THE WHITE ROSE (who BTW were executed by the Nazis). But "point of order":

    You say: "The rise of “defeatism” in both the army and civilian population (that came on the heels of Stalingrad, and the massive losses of the German army) was the political sea that the White Rose emerged from and tried to swim in."

    I always thought The White Rose came beforehand???? (i.e. before Stalingrad)
    No?

  • Guest - land

    It would be good to post THE ROAD TO THE DEATHCAMPS.
    And there is a good film Swing Kids. Nazi youth by day and swing kids by night. And not all remained Nazi Youth.

    It was complex. And I have always wanted to know more about what happened to the communists in their failure to lead.

    In a review I read about Sophie Scholl the writer said that as he was walking out of the movie he heard someone ask "how could this have happened?" One thing he said was the resistance of the WHite Rose came too late. "The moment" does make a difference.


    And there is the quote from Warsaw ghetto "If only we had known..."

    I was also thinking of this in relation to the Linc article.

    I don't think you can say the silence of a population is simply complicity. And it was not all silence. I think that is what Spencer Tracy was trying to figure out.

    But for today. I do not think it is guilt. But whether intended or not if it is not complicity what is it?

    WOuld like to know more history references.

  • Guest - Paul L

    Quorri says "Maybe they didn’t post those videos on You Tube or anywhere because they wanted to SELL them."

    Well, I will share my experience with this. I was attending a series of classes on the new synthesis when it was suggested that sections of the DVD Sampler be put up on YouTube. Since I had technical knowledge on how to do this, I volunteered. I specifically asked if this would violate any kind of copyright and was assured that since this was a sampler to hopefully interest people in buying the full version, that it was OK. After spending about 10 hours of capturing to DV format, adding a slug at the end of each segment as to where the full version could be purchased. After uploaded them onto YouTube, I received a very sharply worded email from a higher-up that demanded that they be removed immediately, due to copyright reasons. So I did, even though I wished that had been decided before I did all this work for them.

    Then in the next class, I was informed by the class instructor that that wasn't the REAL reason why I was "asked" to remove them. It was due to concerns that it put BA in danger of being spotted on the street because of all the people having access to his image from YouTube(it was reiterated to me that he still had that 200plus year sentence hanging over his head and the authorities were basically waiting to pounce. I asked at this time that the sentence was obviously way over the top and why no one had been legally challenging it after all this time. I was told that he was sure there WERE people still working on it so that BA could be brought back home to the US).

    I found this explanation to be a bit odd. First of all, the copyright reason made perfect sense to me. I didn't hold the rights to it. But this new reason didn't connect. After all, the full video certainly wasn't hard to get a hold of. It was, after all, openly advertised on the side of buses in LA last year. Any authority who truly wanted to see this video could have easily gone into any bookstore or online to buy it.

    I only learned later that the charges had actually been dropped in the early 80's, and there is really no legal basis from keeping BA from appearing at all. I was having increasing apprehensions about what I saw was a cult of personality around BA then (I had only learned about the RCP while doing volunteer work for WCW in '06). But after learning the truth of his current legal status, I really felt manipulated and it really solidified my gut feeling that BA was, in a sense, being kept out of view to make him seem more invisible and, dare I say, "deity-like."

  • Guest - Quorri

    I know what you mean, Paul! I can't understand why there would be so much secrecy and distance surrounding BA if he really is this radical, groundbreaking, awesome beyond awesome leader that seeks to liberate the masses of the world from oppression.... I mean, how connected can you be to that struggle when you spend most of your life hidden and sequestered away in an Emerald Tower? I was leery myself, I didn't even know until right now that he wasn't actually wanted anymore by our government.

    I have to say though, it's kind of a cop out for him to be able to hide all these years while the rest of us risk arrest, harassment and worse from our political work. I used to be like, "so....what's the RCP gonna do when this guy dies?" and no one could answer that. The truth is, we need MANY leaders and people of leadership quality just because of this fact: human life is fleeting and unpredictable.

    Also, thanks for the story about trying to YouTube-ify the Revolution videos, that really EXPOSES the RCP in a way I've never viewed them before. Fucking capitalist shenanigans have no room in a revolution that seeks to overthrow capitalism. Fundraising is great and fine and perfect but withholding supposedly necessary and vital information because you hope to get MONEY out of it is straight up fucked.

  • Guest - Eddy

    simply a point of information:

    assuming that the RCP claims copyright of the words, images and reproduction of same of Avakian (which is not unreasonable) they don't abrogate their 'rights' or give up any of that ownership by publishing excerpts (or the whole freaking nine hours or a lecture) on youtube, flicker, or your uncle Billy's blog. The copyright is automatic according to US law, and in this example, rather indisputable. (a subsequent lawsuit might be odd, however.)

    I suspect that the real concern is that someone(s) might download the clips and re-edit them with ill-intent. Of course, one could do the same thing using the DVD material.