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- babyhueypnewton posted American Maoism and Surviving Chinese Foreign Policy (11 posts)
Though American communism suffered splits and expulsions on both the right and left since its founding, the “anti-revisionist” tendency that most closely intersected with the world events centered on China began in 1946-1948. A kind of American anti-rectification campaign, it began with Earl Browder taking the logic of the late 30s anti-fascist popular front, wartime collaboration between the Roosevelt administration and the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA), and post-war “peaceful coexistence” among the victorious powers to its logical conclusion. Why have a communist party at all if it was just a junior partner to the Democrats in power? If socialism could not only develop peacefully but out develop capitalism, why have a revolutionary party based on the Russian Bolshevik experience of illegality and Czarist terror?
Browder called for the CPUSA to dissolve itself, to be replaced with a “Communist Political Association” which would serve as an independent political lobby on the two parties, distance itself from the Marxist-Leninist party model and move towards liberal-democratic structures, and embrace a kind of American exceptionalism. The political justification for the move being that American capitalism was not in crisis, the American political system did not work in the same way as the European system and minor political parties were doomed to irrelevance, and that America had a very different history without the feudal compromises of the European bourgeois revolutions, but it’s clear that the general analysis, which would come to be called “Eurocommunism” and in the eyes of the Chinese Soviet “revisionism,” had deeper causes (Ryan 1977, 336).
After the second world war and the beginning of the cold war, the USSR condemned Browder through a French Communist Party polemic, and by 1945 he had been expelled. In his place, longtime rival William Z. Foster became de-facto party head and the party returned not only to a Marxist-Leninist party model but the Soviet orbit. But anti-revisionists claimed that this expulsion had been superficial and “Browderism without Browder”1 continued , with Foster isolated and the CPUSA fundamentally revisionist as a party.
This moment became important for anti-revisionism and American Maoism, not only because many groups like the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) considered Foster’s era to be the peak of American Communism and a forerunner of anti-revisionism2, but because it captures an entire era from beginning to end. As an overview of the New Communist Movement’s demise points out in its analysis of one of the major anti-revisionist and anti-CPUSA parties, the Communist Party of America (Marxist-Leninist), “denunciation of dogmatism…led to the questioning of such tenets of the communist tradition as the necessity for a separately organized revolutionary party, the need for preparations against the possibility of ruling class violence, a recognition of the class character and dictatorial features of any state, including a socialist democracy, and others.”3 Along with Maoist remnants collaborating with Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition4, embracing “anti-fascism” against the new Reagen era Republicans5, and eventually dissolving into non-party formations, the entire arc of anti-revisionism ended where it began.
How did a movement which not only presented itself as embodying a higher, universal stage of human history but genuinely appeared to many as the truly revolutionary political force for human liberation during the peak of the cultural revolution, anti-Vietnam war movement, national liberation struggles, and worker-student uprisings have such an ignominious end? That is a huge project, far beyond a 12-15 page paper. Instead, I will look at the crucial moment for American anti-revisionism vis-à-vis China: the long counter-revolution of 1971-1981. Beginning with Mao’s meeting with Nixon and subsequent reactionary foreign policy using the “three worlds theory” as justification, Mao’s death and the full repudiation of the cultural revolution and Global Maoism by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) threw the anti-revisionist movement into mass confusion. If anti-revisionism really began with Khrushchev’s condemnation of Stalin and the ultra-leftism of the purges and cult of personality and Mao’s defense of Stalin, it ended with a similar maneuver by Deng against Mao (though major differences had different consequences up to the present which we shall explore), and the events that were occurring in China had major influence on the American left even if they were only known about through the Peking Review. This time, there was no anti-revisionist center to defend Mao, and a variety of political responses followed without a single one emerging predominant. This paper will look at major events of this period in China and how the American Maoist movement responded to them, as well as the subsequent trajectories these organizations took.
Mao Meets With Nixon
Before 1971, anti-revisionism was a relatively straightforward story. Marx and Engels had been a consistently revolutionary force against the various revisionists6 they had faced off with. Similarly, Lenin had faced off against the revisionists of his day, the Mensheviks at home and the second international abroad. Stalin too had faced off against internal revisionists who had opportunistically joined the party but were not really communists and had in fact collaborated with fascism once collectivization and socialization of the economy was inevitable. Mao, in condemning the post-Stalin soviet leadership, was continuing this history, and the cultural revolution represented a more clear articulation of what had always been the struggle between these forces. It is sufficient to say that while Lenin and often Marx had been minorities in the global communist movement (an analysis that would be applied not only to Foster within the revisionist CPUSA but Stalin as well to make sense of the contradictions of CCCP and comintern policy during his era), they had always been proven right with time. No one remembers Proudhon or Lassalle except through Marx’s critique of them; Lenin’s “sectarianism” and anti-war principles were not only proven right by the Bolshevik revolution but the horrors of war which became indefensible even to liberals; Stalin had been proven right by victory over fascism and the spread of communism to Eastern Europe (a serious problem for Trotskyist analysis of the unique circumstances of the Soviet “degenerated workers state” and its immanent collapse after the war); and Mao was being proven right by the upsurge in third world national liberation movements that no longer looked to the USSR for guidance. Empirical contradictions can be ignored when history is told in broad strokes, but Mao’s meeting with Nixon, who he had previously called “worse than Hitler” (at least according to the PLP, see Alexander 2001, 20), brought forth for the first time major contradictions in this story which necessarily called into question the previous judgements.
Both Soviet social imperialism and American monopoly capitalist imperialism could be the enemy as long as you opposed both. But what did it mean when you embraced one over the other? What did it mean for American communists when their country was chosen as the “lesser evil,” despite all evidence from Vietnam? Even worse, what did it mean for a politics which had been founded on condemnation of collaboration with the American bourgeoisie as the “lesser evil” and the necessity of a revolutionary party?
In order to understand the answer, it’s necessary to understand the history of U.S. Maoism. “Maoism” as a formation didn’t really come to exist until the cultural revolution and its great shockwaves across the world in 1968. Before this, three different trends existed among the new left. The first was the already mentioned anti-revisionist old left which came to reject the possibility the CPUSA could be reformed. The second was the student movement that had come out of the anti-Vietnam war struggle and had no connection to the American Marxist tradition or the class struggles of the great depression era. The third were the national liberation struggles which had briefly intersected with the CPUSA “black belt” thesis period of the late 20s-early 30s. This period coincided with the leadership of Foster and the comintern directive that black people represented a distinct nation occupied by the United States and that racial issues were directly class issues vis-à-vis imperialism and served as a bridge between the first and third groups (most famously through W.E.B. Dubois ideologically and Harry Haywood organizationally). Nevertheless, the abandonment of this policy by the CPUSA, the dissolution of the comintern and the collaboration between the FDR democrats and the communists, and the McCarthyist repression severed any real connection between black liberation movements of the new left and the old left organizations.
The relations between these three groups was retroactive, coming out of the failure of the mass radicalism of the 60s. As an example, the Progressive Labor Party went through the history of early anti-revisionism through Maoism as a major player. The PLP was launched in 1962 by former members of the CPUSA in New York who had been expelled the previous year. Leading members had previously vied for leadership positions and launched a Progressive Labor Movement only after this failed. Initial critiques of the CPUSA saw the “most serious” problem as a lack of internal democracy and a lack of mechanisms to dispute the “liberal illusions” that had overtaken the party along with American society in general (hence “few see a real possibility of victory in America,” a judgement that would soon change)7. The movement would make a name for itself in making trips to Cuba at a time when this was highly illegal and participating in the Harlem Riots of 1964 before ultimately deciding that it needed to become a “party” to rival the CPUSA in 1965. Though the PLM and PLP took the side of China in the Sino-Soviet Split since its origins (Alexander 2001, 13), only later did this form into an ideological division between revisionism and revolutionary Marxism as is clear from the close relationship with Cuba and the early critique of Trotskyism for being too critical of the USSR. This is unsurprising since William Foster tried to keep the party together during the 20th CCCP congress and the invasion of Hungary and above all cared about party unity rather than the anti-revisionist critique that he later came to represent. It was only later that the PLP, in forming a party, began to take seriously revisionism as a rot in the entire communist movement and look to Maoism as a fundamental rupture (thus the CPUSA became characterized as not only “dead as a revolutionary organization” but “counterrevolutionary”)8. Coupled with this was the irrelevance of the CPUSA to the clear progressive march of history in the mid-late 60s that was completely different than the ruins of McCarthyism the party had sprung out of. Instead, the PLP oriented itself towards the masses and would compete on the same terrain without the necessity for direct confrontation.
The PLP most famously enacted this policy by its entryism into the Students for a Democratic Society, a new left student movement which had no relationship to the old left. Notably, its founding statement did not contain the anti-communism that was expected of a labor organization but instead condemned anti-communism as an excuse for imperialism, wealth inequality, and racism. The CPUSA in this formulation was neither all-evil nor the vanguard of the working class but “the tiny American Communist Party” which was “utterly pillor and outlaw.”9 This actually caused a split with Michael Harrington, founder of the Democratic Socialists of America (now well known for rapid growth in parallel with Bernie Sanders campaign) and other members of the old anti-communist left. But while refusing to take part in anti-communism led to rapid growth and influence for the SDS, which grew to 30,000 members and 300 campus chapters at its peak, this was merely delaying the issue until the contradictions of the SDS’s own practice caused ideological ruptures and breakdown. Harrington had been right in a sense: in a world of rapidly spreading communism where the struggle between revisionism and anti-revisionism was becoming an issue not merely of ideology but geopolitics, one had to choose. The PLP was waiting to take advantage. Famous for its strict conduct requirements among an otherwise libertine new left, it forwarded a consistent set of political principles, a vanguard party model, experienced cadre, and Marxism-Leninism at a time when revolutions across the world made that ideology synonymous with revolution and national liberation.
But this did not come without a cost. The PLP, determined to never be caught unawares by revisionism again as it had with the CPUSA, opposed everything that did not hew its own orthodox interpretation of Marxism-Leninism. The SDS, split apart by the failures of moderation to end segregation and racism de facto and not merely de jure, the rising tide of worker-student radicalism against the moderation of the decentralized SDS model and nearly exclusive focus on students, the failure of electoral politics and mass protest to end the Vietnam War, and the changing material conditions of the US itself as economic stagnation came to replace the post-war boom that had created a mass population of first generation college students all made the SDS an easy target. The only question was who would inherit the organization with the major conflict between the “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist” PLP and the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM), also Marxist in ideology but having emerged from the new left’s focus on third world nationalism, black liberation, and student activism separate from subordination to the working class (for example, the PLP and other organizations in the wake of the collapse of the SDS would send student members to get industrial jobs and become members of the working class, often hiding their class background and subordinating years of their lives to this cause). The RYM won in leadership but the PLP won in mass membership, with the organization splitting into two: SDS-WSA (“Worker Student Alliance, a PLP front group) and SDS-RYM which soon dissolved itself. From the latter, two factions emerged: the Weathermen faction, a group determined to overthrow American imperialism through “propaganda of the deed” and inclined to anarchism before dissolving into irrelevance once the war ended; and the RYM II which took the ideology of the RYM and applied it to Marxism-Leninism, as in the need for vanguard parties to replace the loose SDS model and harness the revolutionary energy that had been unleashed but uncontrolled previously. RYM II became the new communism movement and the first truly “Maoist” American organizations.
The SDS-WSA continued for a few more years but was by all accounts dead, the PLP playing a relatively minor role in the new communist movement henceforth. But while the RYM II rightfully criticized its sectarianism, entryist politics, refusal to take seriously national liberation movements, feminism, gay rights, and other identity issues that were quickly emerging out of the ashes of the SDS, this too came at a cost. Not only had the PLP condemned everyone from the Black Panthers to the National Liberation Front in Vietnam as petty bourgeoisie and insufficiently revolutionary, they condemned Chinese foreign policy immediately10 and rethought the cultural revolution while it was still going on in favor of the “leftists”11. The PLP had replaced the earlier tenacity and ideological confusion of its founding with a strict sectarianism but also principled political line. Domestic judgements may have aged poorly but its view of China proved not only correct but prescient; the Maoist movement would be destroyed over the same issues in 1975-1978.
The PLP had come from relying on China to give it ideological coherence to condemning China for any deviation from its own image, it even condemned Albania’s critique of China as not severe enough12, though of course by this time the PLP was just a shadow of its former influence (itself never more than a fraction of the CPUSA in its heyday). The price of coherence was relevance, though notably it still exists today forwarding a line close to Albanian “Hoxhaism.” This choice would soon face all Maoists as the contradictions of Chinese foreign and domestic policy became more acute.
China vs. the USSR in Angola
If the PLP represented the first “Maoists” and the continuity between Stalin and Mao that characterized the tight rope Maoism in China walked, its most notable American representatives were the Revolutionary Union (RU) which became the RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party). The PLP used Maoism in its own anti-revisionist critique and had no problem discarding it when Chinese foreign policy changed, but the RCP staked its entire existence on Maoism and could not easily abandon China as the center of world revolution. In fact, it only came into existence after Nixon’s visit to China and went through a similar convoluted path as the PLP, eventually condemning China as revisionist after Mao’s death. It too ended where it began and where American communism today remains13.
The Bay Area Revolutionary Union (BARU) emerged out of the RYM II from 1968-1970 and remained a bay area local “pre-party formation” until 1971, when one of the leaders left to join a Chicano national liberation movement, leaving Bob Avakian as the leader of the new Revolutionary Union (RU), now nationally focused (he remains its leader today though in exile in an increasingly cult-like atmosphere). Though some members were CPUSA veterans, most had emerged through collaboration with the black panthers, the SDS and student movement, and the anti-war movement. The question was over what Maoism meant, and among the major organizations that emerged from RYM II and competed for hegemony on the new left: the RU/RCP, the October League (OL), and the Communist League (CL), all were Maoist and sought official recognition from Beijing as the legitimate upholder of Maoism.
The RU decided in 1975 that it was sufficiently organized and ideologically coherent to form a party and changed its name to the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). This was a perhaps a bad year to do so, not only because China decided to support UNITA in Angola in collaboration with South Africa against the Soviet and Cuban supported MPLA but because Mao died the year after, leading to the post-Mao repudiation of the cultural revolution and, more practically, slow withdrawal of political and monetary support for global Maoism. China had previously made a series of questionable international maneuvers, not only meeting with Nixon in 1971 but diplomatic recognition of the Shah of Iran in 1971 (and the opening of an embassy in 1973), recognition of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile in 1973, support of Pakistan against East Pakistan’s national liberation movement (Bangladesh) and a refusal to recognize the newly independent country from 1971-1974. But these could be justified as against Soviet social-imperialism and were abstract enough to not affect domestic politics. But Angola was different because of the essential role black national liberation had played in the new left and the obviously reactionary role of South Africa.
Until this point the RU turned RCP maintained basically the same line: Chinese peaceful coexistence was different than the Soviet version because it was “only between countries with different social systems” rather than “all relations with the imperialists, even between the imperialists and the people and nations oppressed by imperialism.”14 This meant that while China could acknowledge reactionary regimes diplomatically, this did not amount to support of those regimes against internal class struggles or national liberation movements, only attempting to use them against Soviet and American imperialism. In the case of Bangladesh, where this was untenable, Indian interference was blamed for the national aspirations of East Pakistan, and the national question was subordinate to the question of class anyway.
Not only was this an interesting justification given the earlier polemics against the PLP’s anti-national liberation sectarianism, it coincided with some very strange political lines, most notably the RU’s campaign against busing of black children to white schools in Boston15. Unlike the pessimism of the PLP’s early founding, part of the reason for the RU’s anti-busing proclamation was that it believed it had already established a foothold in the proletariat and was therefore ready to lead them as a party (Elbaum 2018, 191), ossifying the political line it had developed in its penetration of the white working class (sending party members to West Virginia mines in an echo of the PLP’s earlier efforts16) and in its defense of Chinese foreign policy. An early document claim that “for the first time in almost 20 years, the working class in this country has as its own instrument an organized force standing completely for the interests of the working class against the capitalist exploiters,” in this case referring to itself as the direct inheritor of the Foster-era CPUSA17 and proclaiming a few issues of its magazine later with confidence that “socialist revolution in the U.S. is inevitable, just as it is everywhere.”18
While it would be easy to mock these proclamations, not only because they were completely out of touch with the ebb of mass movements in the United States, Chinese withdrawal from global revolution and “Maoism,” and the RCP’s own capabilities, the RCP in fact became a founding member of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM) in the 80s (1984-2006) which included revolutionary movements which engaged in armed struggle and sometimes nearly overthrew the government (the Peruvian Communist Party/Shining Path, organizations that became the Communist Party of India (Maoist)/Naxalites, the Maoist Communist Party of Turkey, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), and the Communist Party of the Philippines). If Maoism was a global, living movement within academia for Fabio Lanza (2017), it also remained so in much of the third world for millions of people. The twists and turns of the RCP’s ideology are part of this story, particularly given the courage it took to repudiate China after Mao’s death, losing 40% of its membership, isolation from other Maoist parties and the cold shoulder from China.
By the time of Angola, the RCP’s line was starting to fall apart just as it was stabilizing as a party. Early issues of the party paper, The Worker, repeated the same line about non-interference from the two imperialist powers19,20 while retroactively justifying Nixon’s visit as a political coup for China and a sign of American weakness.21 This was not enough for pro-China Maoists who understood perfectly well that Chinese support was not limited to political maneuvering but selling arms, blocking international political efforts, and acquiescing to repression of revolutionary movements and national self-determination. Other organizations called out its line on Angola: “RCP never once mentions that the Soviet social-imperialists are the main danger to the struggle of the Southern African peoples”22 and the RCP is the “new apologist for the two superpowers, especially the Soviet social-imperialists… its ‘theory of equilibrium’ between the two superpowers, a theory that merges with the revisionist line of detente and its thinly veiled attacks on Chairman Mao’s revolutionary concept of the three worlds.”23
By the time of Mao’s death, the RCP was ideologically paralyzed. Pro-China Maoists pointed out that “RCP’s newspaper Revolution has refused to inform its readers about the momentous victory of the Chinese people in smashing the efforts of the “gang of four” to restore capitalism, even though nine months have passed since this event.”24 In fact, the RCP had called a conference to discuss Chinese foreign policy specifically, which came to be in 1977. With speeches by William Hinton, Bob Avakian, C. Clark Kissinger (former national secretary of the SDS, closely affiliated with the RCP by that time) and a surprising openness to Trotskyists and other tendencies, the conclusions were mild. C. Clark Kissinger summarized the lack of RCP conclusions and the sectarian deferral of this onto a separate Maoist party: “I’ll be the first to admit that I was not privy to the internal struggle that went on in the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. But I’ll tell you this, that no matter what would have happened, if a chimpanzee had been elected Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, he would have gotten a telegram of congratulations from Michael Klonsky [chairman of the Communist Party (Marxist Leninist)25]… I have the greatest confidence in the Chinese people, the Chinese Communist Party and the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.”26
Such faith would soon evaporate, and the RCP would come out openly against the new regime in China, take the side of the “gang of four” ex-post facto, and reevaluate its previous lines domestically and on the international situation. But the large focus on the international situation did not merely result from the ideological confusion of the global anti-revisionist movement but from the receding of the revolutionary wave of the 60s and the substitution of other peoples’ struggles. The RCP, now much smaller but more ideologically focused, would make the news one more time when in 1979 they would violently protest Deng Xaoping’s visit to the United States. The resulting charges caused the party’s leadership to flee to France, where the cult of personality around Bob Avakian and his post-Maoist “new synthesis” grew. The RCP won the battle but lost the war, since while the charges were dropped in 1982 and the reactionary character of Chinese foreign policy was rather plain to see, the isolation and complete emphasis on dropping charges against Chairman Avakian warped the party into an insular and sectarian micro-party, exactly what it had criticizes the PLP for becoming in formulating its own reason for existing.
All the parties which ended up on various ends of the spectrum suffered the same fate. By the 80s, Harry Haywood, famous CPUSA veteran and anti-revisionist godfather, would come to reevaluate the “social imperialism” and “state capitalism” thesis about the USSR.27 Albert Szymanski, upholding a similar political line, held a debate with the RCP’s Ray Lotta upholding the Maoist thesis that capitalism had been restored in the USSR and China and that there were now no socialist countries,28 but both lines faded into irrelevance with the retreat of the left in the United States and the birth of neoliberalism. Other new left groups turned to Albania as the last socialist country left, but Albania’s hyperfocus on Yugoslavia and absolute defense of Stalin made it ill-suited to globally-aspiring “isms,” and this was made irrelevant with the death of Hoxha in 1985. Those parties which had curried favor with Beijing soon found the CCP no longer interested in American micro-parties, and these parties found themselves unable to survive the onslaught of the right on Maoist China and the Soviet Union’s “totalitarianism.” By 1989-91, the collapse of the socialist countries in Europe and Tiananmen Square were mere formalities.
As C. Clark Kissinger admitted, American anti-revisionist actually had very little knowledge of what was going on in China and mostly relied on hermeneutical readings of CCP documents, either in favor of or opposed to new political lines. Unlike the CPUSA, which survived the anti-revisionist onslaught for a time (more notable in the survival of the Eurocommunist parties until the collapse of the USSR) because of continued support from the USSR, Maoists simply couldn’t survive without Chinese legitimacy and a mass movement at home favorable to it. What had started as a movement which used Maoism to articulate its own history ended up entirely parasitic on distant and poorly-understood events abroad, leading to some of the most ridiculous political lines to justify it (not only the busing struggle but also the RCP’s anti-homosexual campaigns which ironically mimicked the austere conduct of the PLP that it had earlier criticized). Even those who, by the 80s, condemned the entire period as “a 20 year period of ultra-leftism”29 and eventually came to reject Marxism-Leninism entirely found themselves outmaneuvered by already existing social democrats, finding that in America even reformism did not suit former Maoists well. Thus anti-revisionism ended where it began and where we find ourselves today. Though it appear depressing, and the Encyclopedia of Anti-revisionism online analyzes its “collapse”30 while one “obituary”31 from 1981 ends on a positive note about the “birth of a wiser and more effective revolutionary movement in the last decades of the twentieth century” that now appears at best naïve, the basic motivation for human and national liberation, overthrowing imperialism and capitalism, and dreaming of a better world remains more relevant than ever. The twists and turns of Chinese foreign policy served as a beacon, and often a maze, for an entire generation of American revolutionaries, and retracing their steps may hopefully lead to at least not repeating their mistakes.
6 “Revisionism” does not necessarily refer to attempts to “revise” Marxism but revise it in order to eliminate its necessarily revolutionary implications: that capitalism cannot be reformed into socialism, that it is a historically limited and doomed system, that the wealth of the proletariat and bourgeoisie necessarily diverges and the latter grows in size at the expense of the former, that imperialism represented a stagnation of capitalism on the one hand and the dawn of proletarian revolutions on a national scale on the other, etc.
13 See for example the dissolution of the Revolutionary Anti-imperialism Movement just recently because of the same blockages that emerged from the new left’s Maoist “third wordlist” turn based on Lin Biao’s contribution to the cultural revolution: https://www.revaim.org/statements/2019/12/10/farewell/
16 See this master’s thesis for an overview: Mao in the Mines: An Anti-Systemic View of New Communist Movement Activity in the Appalachian Coalfields, 1962-1978 https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/73768/Abraham_JC_T_2015.pdf?sequence=1
22 https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-3/wvo-rcp-ssi.htm this polemic comes from the Worker’s Viewpoint Organization, begun by a former PLP member, which became the Communist Worker’s Party. Infamous for the “Greensborough Massacre,” on the question of China it continued to uphold Mao and the cultural revolution until the persecution of the gang of four made this line and support of the Chinese state impossible. It briefly considered China to have had a bourgeois counter-revolution before a “double twist” that upheld the cultural revolution but also claimed China to still be socialist and the USSR to have been socialist the whole time. Regardless of its ideological twists and turns on other countries, it soon diminished domestically and quietly faded after abandoning Marxism-Leninism and briefly attempting to become a social democratic pressure group.
23 https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-3/ol-rcp-cs.htm this polemic comes from the October League which became the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) in 1977. Led by former chairman of the SDS Mike Klonsky, it unquestioningly followed the political changes in China and was rewarded by official recognition when it visited Beijing in 1977 and 1978. It also had veteran black communist Harry Haywood as a member, giving it a unique role in unifying old leftists and now increasingly old “new leftists”. Sure enough, after the split in the RCP it emerged as the largest Marxist-Leninist organization for a moment before discovering it was not organizationally suited to this role. Notable for visiting Cambodia in 1978, clearly to uphold the Chinese political line, it found that following Deng abroad did not help much in thinking strategically at home and ate itself alive in its first and second party conferences of 1980 and 1981. Dissolving itself almost immediately after, it never had a chance to reflect on larger changes in China.
29 notice even here the touchstone of a coherent and revolutionary CPUSA, from: https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-7/basoc-20-years.htm
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- aerdil posted in American Maoism and Surviving Chinese Foreign Policy (11 posts)
- i feel like a paper about american maoism is rather incomplete without at least mentioning the widespread fbi infiltration of those orgs and its great success in fostering splits not only from the sino-soviet antagonism but from exploiting racial conflict & the nationalism question. pretty essential part of the story imo especially wrt to the RU and PLP. often a lot of the more ridiculous party lines, mistakes, and conflicting ideologies were advanced by high-placed informants pursuing goals relayed to them by the fbi itself to politically neutralize the party or individuals within. FOIA releases since the 2000s are pretty revealing.
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