- Category: Theory
- Created on Monday, 28 January 2008 14:55
- Written by Mike Ely
by Mike Ely
In the Feb 3 issue of Revolution newspaper, the RCP's leader Bob Avakian makes a sharp criticism of writer Naomi Klein's recent book The Shock Doctrine. Avakian writes "...there are some valuable insights and analysis in this book, although its main thesis is ultimately not a fundamentally correct explanation of the reality it is examining..." That main thesis of Shock Doctrine is captured here in a lively youtube video). However Avakian doesn't elaborate on these overall criticisms because his main target here is an anticommunist remark Klein makes in regard to Mao Zedong.
Fair enough, it is common and very tiresome that even radical writers like Naomi Klein speak in this way about communists. And there is value in struggling against such remarks and the underlying assumptions in a sharp-but-friendly way.
In the process of making this criticism, Avakian essentially upholds some very particular metaphors
once used by Mao Zedong, the revolutionary communist leader of the Chinese revolution. In a 1958 essay Introducing a Cooperative, Mao wrote: to view sections of the people as "blank," it could encourage a lack of attention to people's current ideas (including both their insights and illusions). It could lead us toward viewing the political process as just pouring our ideology into people's heads, as if they are empty bottles -- which they are certainly not! It could lead to underestimating the complexity and protracted nature of winning people over (even the poor!) to revolutionary ideas and methods. Does revolution really write on the minds of the people as if they are blank pieces of paper? Believing this could reinforce approaches of preaching at the masses, as if we expect them to casually discard their current thoughts and quickly adopt ours.
In fact we need to be breaking with such methods, and we need to be creatively struggling to invent and learn methods for truly reaching people who, though "poor," are clearly not "blank."
Even when sections of the people are raring to make radical change, even when they are charged for revolution, even when their minds may be opening and questioning in new ways, the people are never blank.