Steele: A Rough Overview of Our Theoretical Project

 

by John Steele

We are starting to discuss our organizational, theoretical and practical plans for moving forward. Here is a tentative document for discussion of the theoretical project. I have jotted down my sense of what our theoretical project entails, so that we can flesh it out and modify it.

Moving beyond

Theoretically the Nine Letters were written as a polemic against the failures and assumptions of the RCP. Now we need to move beyond that.

In the last of the Nine Letters, the analogy for our theoretical moment is found in the beginnings of the Red Army’s long march, when Mao’s forces had to abandon their heavy baggage. So do we:

“We need to discard ruthlessly, but cunningly, in order to fight under difficult conditions. We will be traveling light, without baggage and clutter from earlier modes of existence. We need to preserve precisely those implements that serve the advance, against fierce opposition, toward our end goal. We need to integrate them into a vibrant new communist coherency — as we thrive on the run.”

 

We need to reconceive as we regroup:

“We need a process, a going, where we sort things through, think afresh, and start to act, together.”

 

The theoretical project involves the sorting things through and thinking afresh. It involves a reconception.

On Method

As part of this project of reconception, we need a decisive break with the RCP's ossified and ultimately elitist divide of "thinkers and doers."

We want to break with the generational arrogance that believes this new generation had nothing new to add (as if the world hadn't changed, and as if they aren't engaged in a unique way in that!). We want to get away from "here is the line, your job is to grasp it, reorient your thinking and implement it."

Instead, we will discuss projects and questions collectively before they start, and circulate outlines, drafts and problems as they emerge. As we did with the 9 letters, we will find ways that all kinds of people can make all kinds of input contributions (even if they themselves are not ready to do a full synthesis or a counter-synthesis at this moment, or on this topic). And we need a project and a movement where debate happens (on major problems of theory and strategy) before the decisions and final formulation, not just afterwards. In fact where debate is ongoing.

This has to be a movement that crackles with comradely debate, new ideas, provocative proposals, heretical suggestions, new data... and where everyone is involved in that....

With this in mind, what do we need? We need, at least:

I. A revolutionary strategy.

Our theoretical project must be part of understanding the world in order to change it This is our foremost theoretical task. We need a strategy for going forward in a revolutionary way. And we do not have a model or template.

  • How can we make revolution in the U.S. -- in alliance with the people of surrounding countries, and the people of the world?
  • What does revolution look like in this era of interconnected highly urban society?
  • What are the social forces at the core of revolutionary change?
  • What is the society and mode of production that will (can) replace modern capitalism?
  • What does it look like to sever or transform the linkages of imperialism, transforming capitalist globalization to socialist globalization?
  • What is internationalism in our era -- before and after the revolution?
  • What does it mean to critically examine assumptions of models (including the cherished and instructive model of "October Road.")

An example of how this question poses itself, raised sharply by the 9 Letters – the inability of communist thinking, historically, to gain a real foothold among any section of the masses in this country (see Letter 2). On the one hand, as Mike points out in this critique, this fact, in relation to the efforts which communists have made, cries out for analysis and summation. But more importantly (and this would be the purpose of such an analysis in the first place), how does this relate to future political/ revolutionary work?

 

In other words, how to do revolutionary work, in such a way that it may gain purchase among sections of the people, and gain partisans for revolution, or for a communist, or a genuinely emancipatory, politics?

What is a possible scenario of revolution in this country? What might the actual process of revolution look like?

II. A deep comprehension of the world today:

The world has changed dramatically over the past 40 years (over the past 30 years, the past 20, or 10 years). We need to understand, on a deeper, more integrated and theoretical level:

As we say in Letter 9:

“…the new connectedness of production and communications, the global shifts of industry, the mass migrations of people, the changes in class structures, the dynamics of modern warfare, the capitalist transformation of remaining feudal relations, the new interpenetrations and conflicts of imperialist powers, the basis and limitations shaping the unprecedented attempt to establish a global U.S. hegemony, the development of political Islam, and the stark historically-new ways the emancipation of women is posed”

 

Letter 9 continues:

“There are related analyses of the U.S. itself that are needed, including deepening understanding of the impact of ‘de-industrialization’ of the working class, and changes in the structures of national oppression (i.e., racist oppression of minority people in the U.S.).”

 

As this letter also emphasizes,

“These changes (and more) are driving a world process quite different from the one explored in earlier communist analysis.”

 

Comprehending the world today means looking and thinking afresh. We don’t “already know.”

General areas which we need to comprehend include:

  • the structure and dynamics of capitalism and imperialism on a world scale today
  • the structure of classes today, in the U.S. and worldwide
  • the dynamics of imperialist political and military strategy/tactics
  • demographics, migrations, and interrelations of peoples globally
  • movements of resistance and opposition among the people
  • new structures and methods of warfare
  • structures and dynamics of popular communication and modes of feeling
  • the United States: both the ways in which global dynamics play out here, and the particularities of this country

III. History:

 

We need to look afresh and understand the great revolutions and movements of liberation of the 20th century. We need to understand the history of socialism and what that history shows us about the dynamics of the socialist transition and the causes of capitalist restoration.

There has been, in fact, much investigation and scholarship, and new material has come to light over the past decades. Regardless of new material, the passage of time alone, the ways in which changes in the world effect changed perspectives on the past, raises the need for reassessment. But even more, the changes that have taken place in the past 30 years include great shifts in popular perceptions of socialist societies. As we say in the 9 Letters,

“When encountering communists, people all over the world demand to know what we have learned from this exhilarating and painful process, and what we would now do differently.”

 

And we need historical analysis, not only of this process, but of the whole sweep of movements and struggles for liberation which so much marked the 20th century – and particularly of the movements and struggles in the United States. Especially with regard to those in this country, this is our past, we go forward at least in part on that basis, and we need to understand it. Here too we need to reexamine spontaneous and already-held verdicts and summations.

IV. The question of ideology, or overall revolutionary theory.

What structure of theory and practice do we need in order to do creative and effective revolutionary thinking, and political work, now?

Recalling again the Long March analogy, we too must ask, and decide, what to discard, what to build on, and what to build out? What to critically borrow from others, what to assimilate, and what to leave for later?

Dig in.

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People in this conversation

  • Guest (zerohour)

    To elaborate on Point IV:

    We need to understand popular consciousness better. ML parties don't seem interested in popular consciousness except as it relates directly to political thinking. This narrow approach may be part of why they constantly fail to properly understand the "mood" of the masses.

    We need to understand how media such as TV, movies, magazines and now the internet affects popular thinking. Activists view the media in terms of "disinformation" a la Chomsky. While this is valuable, I think we also need to investigate media in the mode of Zizek. In a documentary about how movies, he said that movies don't just tell us what to think but <b>how</b> to think.

    In terms of political ideology, we need a more nuanced approach that doesn't just pre-categorize people's thinking as "reactionary", "reformist" or "revolutionary", though it is warranted in obvious cases. I think Raymond Williams's notion of "emergent contradictions" might be helpful here. I think some of the discussion around Obama reflects this necessity.

  • Guest (Ben Seattle)

    Hi everyone,

    It is very good to see John's comments. We need a positive alternative to the RCP and to other cargo-cult Leninist organizations.

    John Steele:
    <blockquote>
    What is a possible scenario of revolution in this country? What might the actual process of revolution look like?
    </blockquote>

    I have written about this (I am not aware of anyone else who has) as follows: <a href="/http://struggle.net/alds/part_03_content.htm" rel="nofollow">A scenario for the overthrow of bourgeois rule in the U.S. in the middle of the 21st century</a>. I would be very interested in the thoughtful comments of others on this topic.

    One question which John does not discuss is the question of organization.

    We need to be thinking about this. Currently, the predominant conception of organization is of an organization which is <strong>profoundly dysfunctional</strong>. I think this is the main reason there is little enthusiasm for organization. However if we have a conception of organization which is <strong>healthy</strong> -- there will be a lot of enthusiasm. So we need to think about the principles that mark the difference between a healthy and unhealthy organization. I have written about this at length and believe we should encourage readers of this site to think about this also.

    Following from this is my "three-point program" for Kasama (I do not understand why Mike removed it from the "Welcome to Kasama" page along with all comments. I disagree with this action).

    <blockquote>
    <strong>————————————————————————————————————————————————————
    Ben’s three point program for Kasama:
    Make it easy for readers to navigate to topics
    directly related to our revolutionary alternative
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————————</strong>

    (1) Kasama needs a topic page for threads directly related to <strong>these three questions</strong> related to our <strong>revolutionary alternative</strong>:

    (a) what <strong>kind</strong> of organization do we need?
    (b) What <strong>principles</strong> must guide this organization?
    (c) How can we take <strong>action</strong> today to help <strong>create</strong> this organization?

    (2) <strong>Posts</strong> should be added to this topic page at least <strong>several times per month</strong> to <strong>help readers focus</strong> on these difficult but important questions.

    (3) The link to this topic page should be in the <strong>top navigation bar</strong> and the label should reflect the content to readers in a <strong>meaningful way</strong>, such as:

    (a) “Our revolutionary alternative” or
    (b) “How will we reconceive as we regroup”

    rather than something lame like “Vanguard Party”.
    </blockquote>

    (excerpted from a lengthy post on this thread: http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2008/03/01/on-the-party/ )

    -- Ben

  • Guest (Nando)

    Ben, your comments feel like someone always yelling "what about me?"

    Here John Steele posts a lengthy contribution on theory (which deals with issues crucial to any new organization) -- an d all you can say is "it doesn't address organization, so please come read my website."

    You have some points worth discussing: but you present them in ways that are frankly irritating, and seem disrespectful to everyone. Why don't you actually join the discussions and bring up relevant points in that context?

    As for your other complaint, that your posts are moved, I found them right where you had put them:

    http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2008/03/21/welcome-to-kasama/

  • Guest (d)

    Zerohour I think the points you raise are extremely important.

    Transforming the world requires an deep grasp of the objective conditions, and the popular consciousness of the masses is a determining factor of how to go about revolutionary work, (or what one even defines what revolutionary work is).

    It is undeniable that consciousness, especially that of the generations born in or after the 1980’s- or those who might still be called “youth”- has been very effected (often subconsciously) by popular literature, television, "film", the internet and general advertising (from brand loyalty to shoe and clothing, furniture, cleaning products, etc., to recitation of slogans from ads of products and the conceptions of the things we "need").

    The fact that the idea of a totalizing radical transformation to a better society is laughable to many from these generations (I think) reflects a conception of a fragmented unknown reality where truth and fiction are so intermeshed that it is impossible to tell the difference and people end up accepting, embracing and/or flaunting a mocking nostalgia for revolution or Change- expressing an inherent assumption that the ways things change is spontaneous or completely without the participation of conscious factors, i.e. the masses of people. Many people express some sort of idealized distopia and those (more comfortable in life) seem to even believe (unconsciously perhaps) that this world, or perhaps this era is some sort of utopia, or at least their oyster. A disturbing but interesting article in the New Yorker (albeit from the perspective of a smaller section of the population) I think captures some of this well (link). Though I feel some of this feeling has been articulated by individual proletarians and individual “lumpen” both black and latino, and white whom I have discussed revolutionary change with. (clearly this is an empirical observation, but one that may be founded in a more general truth).

    I have found people often hold an unconscious adherence to ideologies or eclectic mixes of them (often post-modernist and relativist understandings of ourselves and our world) that is very difficult to challenge because it is a result of a way of thinking (that is often not understood by either those trying to “dig” into it or those articulating it). The inescapable "modes of existence", particularly expressed through the forms of popular culture of imperialism, from the belly of the beast to 3rd world "developing" nations, form the framework of HOW to think and how to live in convoluted and contradictory yet somehow cohesive ways. The superstructure has transformed in a very complex way that as effected consciousness, the conception of consciousness, the understanding of self and other and of self in relation to the world, mass or group consciousness etc., in ways that must be examined and understood (as best they can be!) as a crucial part of developing political ideology that fully understands the meaning and importance of “non-political” consciousness.

    This must be part of the task we face in becoming an actual force of revolutionary change in the world!

    -I also have a clarification question about the excerpt from letter 9 that ends “…the the stark historically-new ways the emancipation of women is posed”

    What is being referred to here? Anyone?

  • Guest (d)

  • Guest (Ben Seattle)

    Hi Nando,

    First, I apologize for saying (incorrectly) that my posts had been removed. It turns out that I had gotten confused between these two posts with near-identical names and content:

    * mikeely.wordpress.com/2008/03/21/welcome-to-kasama/
    * mikeely.wordpress.com/2008/04/07/welcome-to-kasama-2/

    I reposted my "three-point program" because I thought it had been removed.

    <blockquote>
    Here John Steele posts a lengthy contribution on theory (which deals with issues crucial to any new organization) — and all you can say is “it doesn’t address organization, so please come read my website.”
    </blockquote>

    Actually, I did engage with John's comments. John had specifically discussed the need for possible scenarios concerning how a revolution might unfold in the United States. It turns out that I have also felt there was a need for scenarios--in order to help activists develop more realistic ideas on this topic. And I linked to my article. I think it is hasty on your part to conclude that I made no effort to engage the content of John's comments and I believe it would be helpful for you to correct your error.

    John's questions are, of course, important for any revolutionary organization. But there are also questions concerning the <strong>principles</strong> that will guide <strong>how the organization sorts out these kinds of questions</strong>. For example: will members of this organization have the right to <strong>publically disagree</strong> with the organization's line on these questions? If not--this will make it much more difficult to correct mistakes that the organization will make. (And mistakes of various kinds will be inevitable.) And will <strong>more than one line</strong> on questions such as these exist in the organization and contend with one another in public? I consider this essential in order to attract the conscious energy and attention that is necessary to correctly resolve the difficult questions.

    At the same time there must be limits of <strong>some kind</strong> concerning the views of members. Where do we draw these lines? These are all issues which I consider to be related to John's comments.

    Also--I do not see how it is helpful to call me a "self-proclaimed genius". I am a theoretician. I do my best to study, investigate and write about the issues which I consider most decisive to our common cause. Is this supposed to be a problem? What is the basis for calling me a name like this? Isn't it better for this site (and our movement) for us to make every effort to treat one another with respect?

    -- Ben

  • moderator note:
    The last paragraph of ben's response refers to a snarky second post by Nando that was removed at his request.

  • Guest (Iris)

    I was speculating with some friends the other day on particular difficulties on reaching youth in a significant way in this country--and we started thinking about mental roadblocks that come up in our thinking and approach to 'changing the world' (a phrase laden with limitations, unreality and even sarcasm to the youth). I feel like there is an extreme disenfranchisement felt by the youth--rooted in consumerism, electoral politics, American exceptionalism and ignorance (for [relatively] privileged/middle class American youth, the greater 'world' does not even exist!) and in, perhaps, the age demographics of this country.

    Now these are thoughts that need to be expanded on and dissected further, and this is speculation, but what about the idea that this is an 'aging country'? That youth feel that they can't do _anything_ impacting until they get older and get past whatever life events make sense in their particular culture. My friend and I were thinking, because we discussing the age dynamics in the Middle East due to war: 70+ % of the people in Saudi Arabia are under 21; it is similar or sometimes even more extreme in other surrounding countries. How would this impact the thinking of youth on their own abilities?

    What D said in post #4 was fascinating. I think the extreme disconnect with the greater world by many youth in this country must contribute to cultural nihilism on some level...There was an interesting short article in the (february?) Harper's about American culture and the nihilist ends of relativism--anyone can believe anything they want, as long as it's sincere...

  • Guest (Iris)

    Can I also say, tentatively, that I have felt in my experience with the RCP that their communist theory seems strangely divorced from other theoretical threads that are advancing in greater society? Particularly with psychology and sociology. Isn't communist theorizing ideally on the cutting edge, at least in terms of engagement with, scientific advances? In the 9L, Ely writes about the poverty of communist theorizing. In particular, in a society there is so much access to emergent information, communist thinking has to be able to contend as fresh, correct and inspiring. We aren't bringing Germ Theory to peasants. This particularity here needs so much consideration in a 're-conception' of communism in the 21st century. There should be no barrier between communist theory and science--science shouldn't be 'out there' for the RCP or other communists to 'grab'. Not that anyone here thinks that. I'm just kind of desperate for the words 'vitality' and 'communism' to be in proximity for a change. Just some thoughts.

  • Guest (celticfire)

    I welcome this development and call for a re-oriented project, it can only serve our movement and the broader left good to venture into such territory.

  • Guest (Linda D.)

    Thank you John for this important and serious contribution. You have provided a very tangible basis for us to help define and hone "reconceive as we regroup."

    I just printed it out so that I could read (and reread) it (along with any comments) with the attention it deserves. (Am also going back over the 9 Letters.) But already agree with something Zerohour said right off the bat:

    "We need to understand popular consciousness better. ML parties don’t seem interested in popular consciousness except as it relates directly to political thinking. This narrow approach may be part of why they constantly fail to properly understand the “mood” of the masses."

  • Guest (Eddy)

    <BLOCKQUOTE>What structure of theory and practice do we need in order to do creative and effective revolutionary thinking, and political work, now?</BLOCKQUOTE>

    Does the 'structure of theory and practice' represent an objective process that is generalizable throughout the cognitive development and symbolization of all human beings?

    Or does this statement suggest that there are many possible 'structures of theory and practice'? If so, what are these 'structures' relative to?

  • Eddy - Could you elaborate on what you have in mind? I'm really not sure what you mean in asking "Does the ’structure of theory and practice’ represent an objective process that is generalizable throughout the cognitive development and symbolization of all human beings?"

  • Guest (Eddy)

    Perhaps I am misreading the question. But here's an attempt at elaboration.

    In my view, the process of human cognition follows a 'structure' which relates activity and cognition (practice and theory). This structure is a social process, with cognitive ability and 'knowledge' developing in a process that moves from the group to the individual.

    Marx made several observations concerning the relationship between being and thinking, and the significance of its social nature, in <I>The German Ideology</I> (among other places) and Mao famously summarized the process in his thesis 'correct ideas come from social practice'. Vygotsky provided empirical evidence for this psychological process through his studies, especially with young children, during the 1920s (c.f. <I>Thought and Language</I>;).

    So...

    How a group of people (e.g. a nascent Marxist political organization) understand the relationship of theory and practice might draw on this dialectical materialist foundation.

    In recent history, anyway, the term 'theory' has been much misused by some would-be Marxists to mean all sorts of conceptualizations, regardless of whether those are drawn from 'practice' or not. A hypothesis or conjecture is not a theory. Conversely, Lenin's theory of imperialism (for example) is not a suggestion or a hunch, and he summarizes it concisely in <I>Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism.</I>

  • Guest (karla)

    i briefly raise these points in response to iris's points above .... perhaps they merit consideration and elaboration in this period of retrenching.

    vygotsky's 'mind and society' also provides a useful framework to examine how technology -- computers and the internet, specifically -- has so radically transformed society, and, thus in many ways our way of thinking. and while the digital divide persists, there is no doubt that such technology (which we may take for granted) dramatically influences countless spheres of social interaction.

    in addition, pierre bourdieu's extension of marx's construct of capital that includes the notions of cultural capital, social capital, and linguistic capital, may also provide a useful framework for carrying out the tasks that need to be done in an advanced (and decaying!) imperialist state.

  • Guest (Eddy)

    Karla wrote:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>
    pierre bourdieu’s extension of marx’s construct of capital that includes the notions of cultural capital, social capital, and linguistic capital, may also provide a useful framework
    </BLOCKQUOTE>

    While some (Marxists) interpret Bourdieu's formulations to primarily mean 'processes', many other sociologists have interpreted them to mean 'asset'. I think that difference is very important.

    Certainly, a critique of Bourdiue would be a very useful contribution to contemporary Marxism. I would suggest including (perhaps starting with) his <I>Outline of a Theory of Practice</I>.

    In that same vein would be an examination of David Harvey's <I>The Condition of Postmoderrnity</I>, in which he references Bourdieu at some length. For that matter, all of Harvey's discussion of urban processes under capitalism, such as <I>The Urban Experience</I>.

    like pulling on a single loose yarn in a sweater...

  • Guest (karla)

    hmm. the notions of linguistic capital, social capital and cultural capital can be very useful in a practical way: when looking at how one earns currency/power/influence in various spheres of society (among academics, prisoners, bourgeoisie, immigrants, proletarians, who, of course may overlap in a myriad of ways). specifically when it comes to building important ties for the purpose of communist revolution.

    moreover, related to iris's points, i think we need to reconsider how we frame and assign meaning to various constructs (for instance, to the concept of "communism") as it relates to a new kind of society, free of classes and exploitation. and whether and how that will be possible, given the complexities before us. that is, i wonder if it is reasonable to suggest we reconsider such terms and meanings.

    i apologize if this sounds obtuse; theory is not my strong suit. however, i feel we need to somehow reframe our concepts and terms if we are going to win over those seeking a way out, given the baggage and negative connotations associated with terms such as "communism" and phrases such as "changing the world."

  • Guest (karla)

    to clarify I recently synthesized bourdieu's extension of capital in an academic paper:

    Cultural capital represents the skills and knowledge one possesses and social capital represents the various social networks one has access to and engages in. These types of capital can be exchanged for other types of capital (such as access to particular social milieus, a college degree). Various classes or blocs of individuals in society hold varying amounts of capital, which can be seen as power, depending on the types of capital possessed.

    considering these definitions can be useful when figuring out how to relate to broad sections of people, all with a particular role to play in road forward.

  • Guest (Jose M.)

    karla:

    interesting comments. My father has talked to me about these types of capital and their concepts, and how they are applicable to either capitalism or socialism (albeit within radically diff conditions). how much truth there is to that idk because I have not studied out.

    What he has told me is that it is an central aspect to sociology (which is my minor in college) and of a female professor in iowa by the name of cornelia flora (i believe).

  • Guest (karla)

    "how much truth there is to that idk because I have not studied out."

    sorry, jose, what's "idk" above?

  • Guest (arthur)

    I'm very impressed with the clarity of Mike's key questions (and also with the delightful byline "Force the frozen circumstances to dance by singing to them their own melody")

    * How can we make revolution in the U.S. — in alliance with the people of surrounding countries, and the people of the world?

    * What does revolution look like in this era of interconnected highly urban society?

    * What are the social forces at the core of revolutionary change?

    * What is the society and mode of production that will (can) replace modern capitalism?

    * What does it look like to sever or transform the linkages of imperialism, transforming capitalist globalization to socialist globalization?

    * What is internationalism in our era — before and after the revolution?

    * What does it mean to critically examine assumptions of models (including the cherished and instructive model of “October Road.”)

    I think its reasonably clear from the discussion in this thread that there isn't much focus on answering such questions.

    That is not something new or unique. It reflects a situation that has prevailed for literally decades.

    The answers (and better questions) are currently unknown.

    A central problem is unwillingness to even record and accept that fact. As long as people remain unable to openly acknowledge it, there won't be any clear line of demarcation from the existing pseudo-left swamp - no matter how thoroughly you expose any particular cults within it.

    Acknowledging won't solve the problem either. (I'm speaking from bitter experience as someone who thought we'd make rapid progress on breaking from a similar pseudo-left decades ago). But I still think it's necessary.

    How's this for a "Manifesto":

    * WE DON'T KNOW how can we make revolution in the U.S. — in alliance with the people of surrounding countries, and the people of the world?

    * WE DON'T KNOW what does revolution look like in this era of interconnected highly urban society?

    * WE DON'T KNOW what are the social forces at the core of revolutionary change?

    * WE DON'T KNOW what is the society and mode of production that will (can) replace modern capitalism?

    * WE DON'T KNOW what does it look like to sever or transform the linkages of imperialism, transforming capitalist globalization to socialist globalization?

    * WE DON'T KNOW what is internationalism in our era — before and after the revolution?

    * WE DON'T KNOW what does it mean to critically examine assumptions of models (including the cherished and instructive model of “October Road.”)

    Any similar set of confessions obviously negates any claim to have "organizational, theoretical and practical plans for moving forward".

    It means admitting we are stuck.

    But that's a necessary start to not sinking deeper in the swamp.

    When you are in a hole, stop digging.

  • Just to comment on a couple of points raised above -

    Karla - on the Bourdieu’s concept of cultural, social, and linguistic capital: These are useful terms, definitely, but I’d like to clarify that they have to be seen as metaphorical extensions of the concept of capital as used by Marx, not as a simple extension or broadening. By that I mean: Capital is a central term of analysis and theory for Marx, representing an objective social relation and process. If you understand extensions like “cultural capital” or “political capital” (another commonly-used metaphor) in the sense of “Marx had too narrow a conception of capital; now we know there are many forms, such as cultural and linguistic capital, etc.” – if Bourdieu’s terms are taken in this way, I think it’s falsifying, and probably based on not fully understanding Marx’s theory. But understood as metaphors, not literal extensions, I think they’re useful terms.

    In saying this I’m not arguing for any sort of “Marxist fundamentalism.” I think that Marx’s theories have to be extended, modified, corrected and changed in some ways, because the world has changed and also some things are known or understood better now than when Marx wrote. But I do think that his theories of history and society and in particular capitalism are very deep and comprehensive and have to be the starting point and framework of understanding the world with a view to revolutionary change. (For purposes of understanding things without disturbing the basic structures of society, many other theories are adequate of course.) But reaching an understanding based on Marxian theories that comprehends the world today in a revolutionary way – that’s what’s needed, and it’s difficult, and it’s what we’re striving toward in this theoretical project. I don’t think we’re at all alone in this either – there’s a widespread sense and recognition of the need for means of comprehending the world deeply in ways that enable radical changes in the disastrous structures and processes of today’s world.

    So we do have some theoretical framework, and we do have some things we know, but we don’t have the theory and the knowledge that we need. As I say, that recognition is our starting point, and the series of questions above (what does revolution look like in this era of interconnected highly urban society? and the rest) give some particular aspects of what we need to reach some understandings of, and don’t know now.

    So given that, Arthur, I'm puzzled why you appear to think we are not accepting or admitting the fact that the answers to these questions are currently unknown. [“The answers (and better questions) are currently unknown. A central problem is unwillingness to even record and accept that fact.”] Admitting that the answers are unknown is our starting point. I wholeheartedly agree that a real recognition of our theoretical and political poverty is a necessity for moving forward. But of course the point is to move forward, to move closer to actually answering these questions, and others.

    Oh, btw Karla (that’s 'by the way'), I believe idk means ‘I don’t know’. (I’m gradually learning these abbreviations myself.)

  • Guest (Jose M)

    karla:

    "idk" indeed does mean "i dont know."

  • Guest (Eddy)

    <BLOCKQUOTE>
    How’s this for a “Manifesto”:
    * WE DON’T KNOW how can we make revolution in the U.S. — in alliance with the people of surrounding countries, and the people of the world?
    </BLOCKQUOTE>

    Hmmm. The implication of agnosticism is almost overwhelming.

    If your point is that there is no 'blueprint' or fixed process for the radical transformation of society, then yes, and let's argue the extent of that problem.

    Let's also describe those social conditions that we do understand, if if that understanding is in some respects partial.

    Given the dynamic nature of society (even within the moribund confines of the present class structure, e.g. imperialism), the precise direction that may be taken is highly variable. However, we can decipher and describe important, if general, patterns.

    We can also theorize our strategic planning based on past practice and the theory it has engendered.

    For example, that the objective should be the abolition of social classes and all class distinctions generally.

    For example, that the imperialist state apparatus cannot simply be laid hold of by the revolutionary people, but be completely destroyed, and a new revolutionary state constructed to represent the strategic interests of the revolutionary people.

    For example, we ought to recognize that 'the most radical rupture with traditional property relations ... involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas'. (<I>Communist Manifesto</I>;)

    There are only a few of the bases from which to work and there ARE practical examples with which we can critique and refine our revolutionary theory (and necessarily, our practice).

  • Guest (Eddy)

    typographical error:

    Let’s also describe those social conditions that we do understand, if if that understanding is in some respects partial.

    was intended to be

    Let’s also describe those social conditions that we do understand, even if that understanding is in some respects partial.

  • Guest (arthur)

    John, if we are agreed that the answers are unknown then we are agreed there is no basis yet for "practical plans for moving forward".

    My appearance of doubting such agreement reflects suspicion that in posing the questions the intention could be to exchange a few drafts, quickly reach some pre-conceived conclusions, draw some more lines of demarcation and establish some new sects.

    Eddy,

    Agnosticism would assert that these questions are "unknowable" rather than that "WE DONT KNOW". I believe there is no excuse for ignorance - we have a duty to ask the right questions and get correct answers.

    A more reasonable accusation would be "liquidationism". Once we really internalize the idea that we haven't got the foggiest clue what's actually going on in the societies we live in, what we want or why we want it, who are enemies and friends are etc the idea that we are about to move forward in some revolutionary project inevitably looks bizarre.

    D's response to Zerohour on the need to understand popular consciousness struck me as disturbing but interesting. The NY Times piece linked was, as described, "disturbing but interesting". I couldn't possibly articulate my impressions of popular consciousness but I suspect D "gets" something about it. I am much more disconnected from and bewildered by it. All I could possibly say on the subject is that I am disturbed but interested. In short I just don't know (and would be delighted to read further expositions from D).

    I am encouraged by the existance of Kasama and the fact that you have at least noticed that the revolution in Nepal might be worth studying. But most of the site still appears to be a reflection of, rather than a solution to, the complete collapse of any sort of revolutionary left in our societies. The difference is that you seem to be at least aware that something is wrong and possibly open to discussion.

    In another post Mike said:

    <blockquote>4) For that reason, the organization we need is not (in my opinion) a “pre-party formation” — but a NON-party revolutionary formation that is organized around theoretical work, critical summation, and some key practical projects. This is (as Letter 9 says) a process and a going. We need a network of revolutionaries — one that is relatively broad, open and that is organized around a process of mutual engagement and deep study of our time-and-place. If we just end up gathering a few veterans of the RCP experience, or a few non-RCP Maoist critics — we will have missed the requirements and possibilities of this moment. We need a wider gathering of radical and revolutionary minded people — where many ideas can content and cross-fertilize, in the context of an emerging body of common political practice.</blockquote>

    My own view is that what you need is what you've got. A web site that has connections with the old sects while being open to thinking things through. That's frustrating compared with being a "formation" but it reflects reality and is a huge improvement from when you were in formation and blissfully uninformed.

    It's been 3 decades since the international communist movement collapsed. The results from people who shunned the sects like myself have been negligible. The results from the sects have been negative.

    Something obviously positive has just emerged in Nepal and may well help get people thinking again. But if that's what precipitated recognizing problems in the RCP it implies that you have a couple of decades of shit to get out of your systems before considering a pre-party formation.

    I certainly agree with "Let’s also describe those social conditions that we do understand, even if that understanding is in some respects partial."

    That's what people do when they establish web sites and post articles about social conditions. Some are more pompous about it than others. Those that are more pompous tend to be less interesting.

    I do feel reasonably confident about my partial understanding of the global strategy of US imperialism in the present world situation. But that's because I have reached directly opposite conclusions not just to the pseudo-left and sects but pretty well everyone.

    Interestingly despite overwhelming agreement, including total solidarity from the bulk of the ruling class and almost universal agreement that Bush is at least hopeless if not insane there has been no significant anti-war movement but just lots of hot air.

    So on points where you would have no difficulty establishing agreement, and unity with the existing sects, you also have no possibility of getting anywhere. That mystery can only be explained by recognizing that what you are agreed on is bullshit.

    I'm not raising Iraq for discussion in this thread. (And not bothering to challenge the prevailing assumptions about it in other threads).

    Just mentioning it as an example of something which you probably feel reasonably confident you have a correct analysis of but remain puzzled as to why, after years and years of espousing that analysis, it doesn't seem to actually go anywhere.

    Don't "move forward". Publish interesting articles and exchange your views with the rest of the world wide web while developing them. Eventually you will be recognized as not being a rearguard.

  • Guest (zerohour)

    "Once we really internalize the idea that we haven’t got the foggiest clue what’s actually going on in the societies we live in, what we want or why we want it, who are enemies and friends are etc the idea that we are about to move forward in some revolutionary project inevitably looks bizarre."

    I disagree. To say that we don't have detailed, comprehensive knowledge is not to say we know nothing. We have some idea about social and political relations in this country, and that is enough to move forward.

    We learn from practice, and we often learn best from erroneous practice. Of course we should work very hard to minimize mistakes, but letting fear of error prevent us from doing active investigation and participating in faultline struggles is an argument for agnosticism.

    No matter how articles written or positions debated, there is always one more argument to be made. When will it be the right time to move forward?

    We know there is a proletariat in this country. It is materially divided by occupational status, age, nationality, gender, citizenship status, etc., but such a sociological approach can only tell us so much. There are ideological and political positions that do not always neatly map onto the material conditions. Does it take much effort to understand that the conditions of undocumented immigrant labor lead it into direct confrontation with the state and raises issues of race and imperialism? Why would this not be enough for us to investigate further? Do we need a coherent and thorough strategy before we proceed? It's naive to think we could even have one that's even minimally useful.

    Who are our friends? To begin with: students, liberals [including the middle class], small business owners, some sections of the military, liberal/progressive intellectuals.

    Who are our enemies? The state in the form of the governments [federal, state, local], the police, the courts, the bourgeoisie, some sections of the military, racists, ultra-right conservatives.

    People may disagree with the way I've formulated certain things, but I wanted to be clear that after years of experience and analysis, there is no need to act as if we were starting from scratch and all we've learned is that we've failed. Since the 60s there has been greater popular awareness of gender, race, sexuality, ecology, militarism, and imperialism. This is far short of socialism, but the revolutionaries have at least disseminated a language and value system we can build on.

    To simplify my earlier point: we need to understand <b>ideology</b>: its production, circulation, metamorphoses, and reproduction. We need to understand the <a href="/http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/althusser/1970/ideology.htm" rel="nofollow">ideological state apparatuses</a> involved as well as its expression in popular collective activity, especially in the form of "common sense".

    Despite numerous examples from history and everyday life, many radicals completely underestimate the motivating role of ideology, calling such concerns idealist and voluntarist. The alternative is to reduce peoples' behavior to stimulus-response in relation to their immediate material conditions. This itself is an ideology that needs to be exposed and discarded.

  • Guest (Linda D.)

    Have now read this post (and the comments) over many times and decided to try and back up a little, and break it down more. Have been trying to focus more on the following excerpts and I’m thinking that a lot of the other things posed flow from these.

    “Recalling again the Long March analogy, we too must ask, and decide, what to discard, what to build on, and what to build out? What to critically borrow from others, what to assimilate and what to leave for later.”

    As to the above, it has been a struggle, at least for me, to even examine Marxism (Leninism, Maoism) with a fresh and/or critical eye. Think it would be very helpful if people on K. laid out more specifically what they would “borrow from others, what to assimilate” and what to uphold and/or disregard – in terms of the present and near-future situation.

    From the 9 Letters:

    “When encountering communists, people all over the world demand to know what we have learned from this exhilarating and painful process, and what we would now do differently.”

    II. A deep comprehension of the world today: (and from Letter Nº 9)
    “…the new connectedness of production and communications, the global shifts of industry, the mass migrations of people, THE CHANGES IN CLASS STRUCTURES…”

    What are the changes in class structures over the last 40 years? And in tandem with that: “* What [sic] are the social forces at the core of revolutionary change?”

    And finally: “These changes (and more) are driving a world process quite different from the one explored in earlier communist analysis.” … “Comprehending the world today means looking and thinking afresh.”

    The following anecdote is certainly not on the level of: “* movements of resistance and opposition among the people” but I thought it interesting nevertheless and worth taking note of. It also shows that the people can come together and organize themselves with focus on a unified "cause." Tonight in the city where I live in Mexico, thousands were marching along the main boulevard, everyone dressed in white, many holding candles, NO chanting, NO placards, but in the name of PEACE and against violence. Politicians and their parties were basically banned, NO POLICE, and the whole event was organized by the people, barrio a barrio. This was occurring simultaneously with marches all over México, with an estimated of more than 500,000 gathered in the “zocalo” in Mexico City. “Iluminemos México.”

  • Guest (arthur)

    Zerohour writes:

    <blockquote>Who are our friends? To begin with: students, liberals [including the middle class], small business owners, some sections of the military, liberal/progressive intellectuals.

    Who are our enemies? The state in the form of the governments [federal, state, local], the police, the courts, the bourgeoisie, some sections of the military, racists, ultra-right conservatives.
    </blockquote>

    Who are "the middle class"? I'm from Australia and I suspect the term here is used the same way it is in America. But I've never really understood what people mean by it and have doubts whether people who call themselves middle class or use the term have a clear conception either. What differentiates the "middle class" from the proletariat? Property?

    I gather from coverage of the current US elections that both the Democratic Party and the Republican party wish to be seen as their representatives (while Hilarity represents the proletariat!)

    "Liberals" is used slightly differently in the US from usage in Australia and the UK.

    My understanding of the US usage would not incline me to treating liberals as friends. Phil Ochs song <a href="/http://www.lyricscrawler.com/song/65145.html" rel="nofollow">Love me I'm a Liberal</a> sums it up. Chinese usage is also somewhat different from American but I'd still go with <em>Combat Liberalism</em>

    As for "ultra-right conservatives" that fits well with the current alliance with liberals, mainstream conservatives, libertarians and the US foreign policy establishment on Iraq. Is Pat Buchanan in or out these days?

    It will be interesting to see how your alliance with liberals against the government pans out after November.

    After years of experience and that kind of analysis it might be better to get used to starting from scratch.

  • Guest (arthur)

    Linda,

    Your description of “Iluminemos México.” sounds like a really interesting new phenomena which nobody here could feel bad about not being able to smother in instant analysis. Could you post some links or an article about it?

  • Guest (Linda D.)

    From La Jornada--

    http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ultimas/

    "El Día en Imágenes"--with several photos of the events

    and

    From La Voz de Michoacán:

    http://www.vozdemichoacan.com.mx/

    I will look for tomorrow's (Sunday's) press to see if there is more. La Voz de Michoacán focused more on what the politicians had to say, but "La Jornada's" photos are worth a thousand words.

    Some of the violence addressed, in these "silent" marches was directed at the growing number of "pandillas" or gangs--much drug related--but there was also the unspoken "truth" of police and military violence against the people. (A lot of this has to do with the cover of the drug-wars, funded by the likes of the U.S. of course). Everything is exacerbated by the poverty and bankrupt Mexican economy. Just the other day 11 decapitated bodies were found, piled on top of one another, and both the people and police were coming up with different summations of just who the perpetrators were.

  • Guest (Linda D.)

    Arthur--this article is in La Jornada's Sunday edition--obviously just came out and it is 2 a.m. where I live. But it is a wrap up of various demos in 21 cities across México. The text is all in Español but even if you don't speak Spanish am sure you can get the gist:

    http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ultimas/2008/08/30/alistan-en-estados-las-marchas-de-iluminemos-mexico

    Title: "Marchan en 21 Ciudades del país contra inseguridad"

  • Guest (arthur)

    Thanks Linda. The photos certainly look impressive!!! Hope you write an article (or even just translations).

  • Guest (Eddy)

    Arthur wrote:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>
    I do feel reasonably confident about my partial understanding of the global strategy of US imperialism in the present world situation. But that’s because I have reached directly opposite conclusions not just to the pseudo-left and sects but pretty well everyone.
    </BLOCKQUOTE>

    If not agnosticism, then perhaps nihilism.

    But OK, I'll bite. What specifically IS your partial understanding of the 'present world situation' and the 'global strategy of US imperialism'?

    For example, which social classes and/or strata are aligned with US (or other, e.g. Australian) imperialism?

    Which classes and/or strata are objectively and/or subjectively opposed to imperialism?

    What types of economic and political activity characterize those classes or strata?

  • Guest (arthur)

    Eddy,

    No, we atheists often get mistaken for agnostics or nihilists - but our problem with religious beliefs is worse than the religious suspect us of. Its actual REJECTION of what they hold to be essential. Not lack of opinion about it, nor rejection of everything, but specific rejection of what the religious believe.

    Re Iraq and the strategy of the last superpower in decline. I wasn't coat-trailing and it really would be a pointless diversion this thread for me to accept your reasonable invitation.

    What I was hinting at was that confidence in a correct understanding of the international situation does not necessarily get around being completely stuck on what is to be done.

    That's almost self-evident among forces who have mobilized around their analysis of a US war of aggression in Iraq. They are stuck. I was acknowledging that the same is true for those who haven't.

    Acknowledging that we are stuck won't immediately help either. But it is a necessary preliminary to any serious theoretical work.

  • Guest (Jose M)

    I like this conversation a lot, thats what I got to say.

    Linda: why is it that you find it hard to study MLM with a critical eye? I think for example, if you are reading say, "On New Democracy" by mao, you can at least start from the fact that is not something universal to be applied wherever. It was a formulation that was developed for semi colonial/feudal nations, to develop the path for capitalist development after defeating feudalism, and as a need, unite with the all anti imperialist strata.

    I think, just an example, this can be done with whatever you want, you can analyze what is going on in nepal. Read bhattarai, basanta, prachanda, etc., and try to get a decent grasp on the nepali politics and economy, and how their programme of NDR is going to be applied, what they will keep from the Mao's formulation and what they will discard. "concrete study of concrete conditions." Thats what mao sai; and I think if we can do this in a materialist way, then we are being critical, creative, and not dogmatic. Like you said, we gotta start somewhere. Not saying you have to use my nepal example, you can read whatever by marx, lenin, mao, and then reflect on what is going on in society and what to throw out and keep. It is difficult, i didnt say it was easy, but, thru study, we can do it.

    Now, would this be a bad time to suggest that we begin a little discussion here on the questions that John Steele and arthur posed? For example:

    "How can we make revolution in the U.S. — in alliance with the people of surrounding countries, and the people of the world?"

    can we get into this^?

  • Guest (zerohour)

    Arthur -

    In your rush to win an argument with me, you ignored the larger point, which is that we don't need comprehensive knowledge to proceed. In fact, we can only gain such knowledge by doing the work.

    You raise important questions, such as the nature of the middle class and liberals, and we do need to answer them but we can't do that purely from definition.

    In the US, the middle class is an amorphous grouping that doesn't correspond to class in the Marxist sense. It refers to sections of the proletariat who make above average income, own a house and/or car, managers, professionals, intellectuals. The term functions more on an ideological level, implying a shared identity among otherwise disparate sectors, revolving around consumption patterns. It obliterates class analysis, so workers exist, but the working class does not. This is why the Democrats and Republicans both refer to workers as belonging to the middle class, as in Obama's latest speech. Regardless, this is grouping of people creates an ideological mix that tends towards liberalism.

    Let's look at liberalism. The Phil Ochs song captures much of the contradiction of liberalism, but liberalism does encompass a broad section of people. As with any political term and practice, liberalism, has taken on new forms over time. It includes the Cold War ideology and racial panic targeted by Ochs, but also people who are well to the left of that who call themselves liberal because that is the vocabulary at hand. The movements of the 60s expanded the terrain of liberalism, especially the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements.

    I was clearly not providing an analysis as that would exceed the boundaries of this blog, but an initial answer to three crucial questions. There is more to discuss and elaborate on, but decades of revolutionary work in this country has produced some real gains and insights.

    If you would like to expand on how things would look in Australia, be my guest, but I was not advocating a universal revolutionary strategy with a set of alliances that are applicable in all countries at all times. I was referring only to the US and would not presume to prescribe strategies for a country where my investigation was based on an essay from Mao and an old folk song.

  • Guest (Eddy)

    <BLOCKQUOTE>
    No, we atheists often get mistaken for agnostics or nihilists - but our problem with religious beliefs is worse than the religious suspect us of. Its actual REJECTION of what they hold to be essential. Not lack of opinion about it, nor rejection of everything, but specific rejection of what the religious believe.
    </BLOCKQUOTE>

    Rather than enter into the discussion, Arthur prefers to stand off to one side and criticise those who do.

    His conflation of "theory" with "belief," however, is telling. (As is his 'atheist' cloaking device.)

    Theories are summarized from fact. Beliefs are ungrounded articles of faith. In Arthur's case, he believes that all prior theorization about capitalism, imperialism, internationalism, revolution, socialism, etc. is invalid. (e.g. his emphatic "WE DON’T KNOW"s, above)

    In fact, if he is sincere, he IS promoting an agnostic approach, namely that we cannot know or have any practice which indicates answers to the questions he have posed; not simply that he rejects what others have accepted as proven by past events. (aka as 'known')

  • Guest (Jose M)

    I am not sure where arthur is saying that he rejects theorizing at a time like this. If he does, I strongly disagree.

    But, eddy, would you mind if we began discussion on some of the key questions that this article posed? I mean, we can talk about agnosticism, why we dont know these things, etc., but, why not at least attempt to get into these questions? I believe we need to start somewhere. I of course am not suggesting that any of these questions can be solved here or definitive conclusions reached, but this can be a good time to begin to "grapple" with such questions.

    So:

    “How can we make revolution in the U.S. — in alliance with the people of surrounding countries, and the people of the world?”

    "What are the social forces at the core of revolutionary change?"

  • Guest (Linda D.)

    José: "Linda: why is it that you find it hard to study MLM with a critical eye? I think for example, if you are reading say, “On New Democracy” by mao, you can at least start from the fact that is not something universal to be applied wherever. It was a formulation that was developed for semi colonial/feudal nations, to develop the path for capitalist development after defeating feudalism, and as a need, unite with the all anti imperialist strata.

    I think, just an example, this can be done with whatever you want, you can analyze what is going on in nepal..."

    I can definitely unite with the spirit of what you said, and you're putting theoretical study into a much better perspective and context. Ironically I have been trying to do what you suggested--not just comparing articles from the CPN(M), but rereading the 9 Letters, etc. But in trying to "break with old ideas" and some dogma, and even though I have not been "in tune" with the RCP for years, although I have continued to try and read Revolution on and off, want to give you a concrete example of how this "breaking with old ideas" and not just looking at these important ideological and political questions takes form.

    Remember the discussion about revolution as science? (I will look up the link in case you don't.) In a knee-jerk response, I said something like the revolutionary science of MLM...and was called out on that, in a very good and materialist way and really started to look at that whole notion differently...something I had been spouting for eons.

    So as this discussion deepens, I can very much understand your example of Mao's "On New Democracy"--but still, obviously like others, am "grappling" with some fundamental questions like (and in terms of the U.S.) who is the proletariat? the real proletariat? What is applicable in Marx, Lenin or Mao for our current situation and what is not? etc. What are the contradictions we are faced with in the 21st century? just to name a few.

    In attempts to not just read and regurgitate, this is not as you said, an easy task.

  • Guest (Linda D.)

    Here are some links on Kasama, one referred to above re science--plus others that I have been rereading, that might prove helpful in this discussion. In going back through K. posts, have rediscovered lots of material that flesh out, for me anyway, some ideological questions:

    http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2008/06/22/a-note-on-science-and-communist-theory/

    Is Communist Theory “A Science”?

    http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/understanding-the-material-basis-of-incorrect-ideas/

    Linc and Me: On the Material Basis of Incorrect Ideas

    http://mikeely.wordpress.com/2008/04/05/on-communist-orthodoxy/

    Communist Orthodoxy: A Good Idea?

  • Guest (arthur)

    Zerohour,

    There may well be differences between Australia and America in relation to national minorities and an "underclass" but my impression is that your description of what is understood by "middle class" would also be widely accepted in Australia.

    As far as liberalism (in the American sense) is concerned it is completely dominant in Australia and the mainstream is completely unaware of the existence of anything actually "left", let alone revolutionary left. So much so that liberals are generally taken as "leftists" in overtly right-wing polemics.

    My impression is that is pretty much true in America too - ie a left, let alone a revolutionary or communist left simply does not exist as a factor in mainstream politics. Its existence is largely a figment of the imaginations of various sects who basically talk to themselves and consider it a huge breakthrough if they become willing to talk to each other.

    One aspect of that is that "anti-capitalism" and "anti-imperialism" is quite widespread but based on a "green" world outlook that is diametrically opposed to a red one.

    There is a pseudo-left which is fairly openly reactionary on most concrete issues and there are various sects.

    I want there to be a revolutionary communist left in both countries and I am glad that Kasama is opening up interest in theory.

    But we didn't get into this situation based on correct theories and its going to take a LOT of deep theoretical work to get out of it.

    My starting point on that is that we should not pretend to be speaking for some non-existant vanguard of the proletariat. If we have views worth publishing we should publish them in the same way that anybody else would, and reply to the views of others in the same language they speak. Setting up political web sites is a pretty normal activity. Just do it and develop ideas and practice while doing it. When we do know what we are talking about will be the time to start writing about higher forms of organization. In the meantime there's lots of things happening in the world that we can contribute to without claiming to be in the process of organizing some new "formation". Those claims merely get in the way of figuring out whats actually going on in the world and what needs to be done about it. They encourage us to talk to ourselves instead of listening to and discussing politics with the rest of the population of this planet.

    Eddy,

    Actually I think a lot more of the classical principles espoused by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao are still relevant today than I believe are generally accepted in circles associated with Kasama.

    For example it seemed obvious to me literally decades ago that the RCP(USA) had fundamentally rejected Mao's basic concepts of the united front and the mass line even though it did oppose the Chinese revisionists and support the Cultural Revolution.

    There's simply nothing in common between the kind of "lemmingist" organizations that were setup and how the party of Lenin functioned.

    I don't believe theory can be divorced from practice. In my view our practice (mine as well as yours) has demonstrated that we are stuck. Were not getting anywhere. That is not and could not be because of particular bizarre phenomena like the Avakian cult.

    It reflects a much more widespread failure which is not going to be overcome quickly. That fact is demoralizing, has caused many people to give up and will continue to do so. But if its a fact we had better acknolwedge it rather than pretending it isn't there.