#1
The ameriKKKan Marxist Parties & their Problems, Part One

LORD'N'BONDSMAN ON A CAR RIDE, LORD'N'BONDSMAN IN THE BAR & GRILL

Like any organization attempting to build from top-to-bottom, for instance a pyramid scheme, the big parties effectively rely on recruiting the most vulnerable people to fill their ranks. There’s nothing really wrong with this, yet, since these are technically parties of oppressed and working people. However, the leadership of a nascent branch isn’t going to bring in the average cleaner or one of the few remaining factory workers, or student activists and intellectuals, but the people who are already embedded in communism in its subcultural form. This means people who are, primarily, extremely online and, secondly, passively invested in mostly aesthetic notions of communism itself.

Even as someone who was/is partially this type of person, I can say without a doubt that the average recruit plucked from this milieu is basically going to be fucked up in some way. This isn’t necessarily a problem in itself, just a general observation that anyone who’s half-self-aware is going to make, maybe a prejudice. The problem is that, invariably, that this subculture attracts and reproduces a reserve of usually nice, but ultimately credulous, nerds whose present political configuration consists of winning Facebook arguments at best.

Under conditions of intense atomization and imperialist decline, the collective drive for social-class organization is becoming more frantic as it becomes more necessary for identification and basic psychological well-being. The reality is we were left with no institutions, communities, or cultures to call our own, as working class and oppressed people. Essentially we have to search rather blindly for alternatives, or try to cobble together our own, or else we live and die alone as individuals or mere members of a family unit. This is a mass-psychological issue, in spite of its root cause in social alienation and imperialist complacency. The subcultural communist milieu, like a lot of online communities, is in the middle of this psychic tension between atomized personhood and communal life. Usually, members in leadership positions understand this completely.

As I’ve seen personally in a handful of cases, the party leadership will intervene on this kind of dilemma with a more or less ready-made alternative, which is its own internal life. The process of initiation into that life is, however, one of passive acceptance, and the exigencies of internal party life generally emulate the passive investment of time and energy into “Bro, we are Communist, problem?” memes, for example. At face value, this is boring, bog-standard organizational work but the real, practical activity of the party in this moment upon its subject is, from a more critical perspective, an act of pity for a dying social order engineered by a cabal of political hucksters flying red flags. The retention of these particular members, their trust, and their unwavering support for the party’s given status quo is basically guaranteed out of this original, conscious act of psychological wish-fulfillment.

The new members scuttle into this social organization, like a fan club, to fulfill a psychological necessity with no concrete way of rendering that necessity into political action nor subjectively transforming the party’s purely social character into an expressly political one. On their own, these people are obviously totally capable of independent and critical thought as individuals. However, this psychological relationship to the party, which is consciously bred by higher membership, and the basic ideological ignorance of collectivity and community, which is reproduced by imperialist mass-culture at large, has a disastrous tendency to strangle independent and critical thought as Marxists, within a self-described Marxist organization. (This phenomenon also tends to push slightly inconvenient ideological struggles from the party itself to a peripheral zone at a “healthy” distance from it. This usually means those struggles hit Twitter and the meme pages until the party’s members are just so overwhelmed that it stops any attempts at practical work dead in its tracks. More on this later.)

This, in turn, has a depressing effect on the internal democratic processes that are meant to take place within the party’s centralized body. Ironically, this produces a situation in which members can change any little aspect of the outside world that they choose, within reason, but they’ll never be able to change any little aspect of a party that’s supposed to change the world. Members will be relieved from one point of psychological tension, only to get twisted into another, perhaps worse, one. In real life, this subsequent contradiction is translated into emotional outbursts against external dissent (substantial or not), depression during periods of counterrevolution elsewhere in the world, despair when unexpected events on a world scale seem to deviate from generally optimistic party analyses, or legitimate terror when more pessimistic party analyses are vindicated.

About an hour after a Syrian military airport was bombed by the US, accompanying further threats to escalate against the government’s areas of control, I was invited to the PSL’s planning event for a picket the next day. I got there to find that everyone was already wasted and in varying forms of frantic distress, except girlfriends who were quietly babysitting them (More on this later.), between rehearsing the chants they were e-mailed. One particular member was sobbing, and he kept telling me that World War 3 was ready to spark off. He said he didn’t want to get drafted and die, or witness that level of suffering and destruction in his life. Having followed the whole clusterfuck for years, as well as the weak left-wing opposition to the intervention, I patiently explained to him that the US was going to look worse for swinging its dick in front of all the other imperialist powers, if anything it was simply going to advance its legitimacy crisis, and, besides that, the Syrian people and progressive forces in the region would immediately stop fucking around and resist if it all came to an inter-imperialist ground war. It was half-truth, half white-lie, but it managed to calm him down from a full-on panic attack.

In my mind, the whole point is not that there’s a growing population of atomized individuals coming into the communist movement who are joining these organizations to fulfill a need that imperialism neglects, or even actively destroys; the point isn’t even that the parties are conscious of this and maybe prey on people’s psyches to retain membership, which is politically justifiable; the point is that these parties are incapable of giving its members the power to think, criticize, and act as Marxists, especially within its own processes. Instead, history is an uncontrollable lever that pulls itself, and two seconds later you watch helplessly as untold thousands die in pain. That’s a drastic failure of party leadership and an irresponsible, immoral misuse of the party itself.

If the party itself isn’t actionable, it can’t be political. If the party isn’t political, every member below a certain threshold is psychologically and intellectually disarmed. They’re essentially at the mercy of whatever “National” says and whatever local does.

Any fucking moron can compare these aforementioned issues to a cult, which we tend to hear all the time. With the exception of the RCP-USA, the parties are no more cultish than marketing teams, only the parties are a magnitude less successful than marketers are for all intents and purposes. Any organization of people can decompose into an oppressive husk from its original role and function in keeping them together. This is a process that occurs more or less organically when an organization has no demonstrable grounding, direction, or principles, which is a general problem any kind of organizer has to contend with.

The compounding problem with that is democratic centralism is supposed to solve that first, basic problem and it’s supposed to work at least most of the time, with constant activity, a degree of fungibility, and a clear margin of error that it derives from the political life of the proletariat. Without politics in command, both the democratic and centralist aspects will fall away and ossify into a mostly static hierarchy of “some people” who claim to be important authorities, plus maybe a few people who handle the money. This was one fairly key aspect of the ideological crisis within the Soviet bloc, and the rot is clearly present in the big parties.

For the PSL, the constitution demands seven full members to officially start a branch. A candidate has to go through 13 courses of “political education” to become a full member. If you’re lucky and somewhat dedicated, it’ll take 13 weeks to become a PSL member; if not, it could take months due to the fact that you’ll have to catch virtual or physical classes on each subject you have left lasting about an hour and a half to two hours on free weekends. Sometimes the schedules are just completely off. While virtual classes are proctored by people from “National”, the physical ones are outlined, taught, and proctored by the locals. This is broadly considered a security measure but that’s just a silly idea for a lot of reasons; it’s basic ideological training stretched over 13 courses, with an emphasis on basic. Rather than its technical utility as a security measure, it’s more useful as a means of keeping membership low, inert, and sustainable. This is reasonable for bigger cities but, outside of them, emerging locals have to fight an uphill battle for recognition and regularized party support. Dues and donations usually go straight to the national treasury, most likely to service the big cities. Additionally, the incentive to actively bring the relatively large communist subculture into the realm of full-membership retention is evident in this situation, even if it’s not issued by directive.

I mean to point out, in part, that even the “big parties” with arguably the most clout are very, very small and they’re probably going to keep being that way. The movement in this country, between X number of disparate organizations, probably numbers about 200-300 active cadres altogether. Numerically, it’s extremely weak. Accordingly, it’s also insignificant as a political force. Ideologically, if cadres aren’t just mistaken for dying members of an obscure historical society, they’re generally going to be impressionable, especially as the movement gets younger over time. Finally, there’s a general consensus that the coming immolation of the planet, as well as a crisis of imperialism, will enable the movement to grow rapidly and exponentially over the next 15 years, in which time younger leadership will replace the old.

Now, certain special individuals will notice something, even if they don’t fully know it; which is that hegemony within the movement itself hasn’t been consolidated by a dominant communist tendency or organization and, relative to the movement’s size and net inexperience, a single person could potentially dominate that hegemonic force itself and develop the party, and the course of political conquest, in the “right” direction during a sweetspot in its growth. Those special individuals are called narcissists or careerists, or both. Unfortunately, at the moment, they’re generally local leadership or prominent organizers rather than isolated rank-and-file party members.

They’re the cadres who, in the last instance, decide to make somewhat manipulative, and sometimes ethically challenging, decisions in the process of recruitment and internal politicking, as well as consistently draft and send reports to national-level leadership on basically everything that’s going on. These reports are taken as gospel without a contradicting account or complaint, but sometimes with them too. Sometimes a liaison from “National” swings by the local branch chair’s apartment for a few days and just goes home after that; if you’re lucky, they bring some books and make you pay for them.

These liaisons mainly look over the reports, check on local political activity, and tend to feel the room for the internal dynamics of the branch for about an hour. The best I can describe it, it’s like an inspection call from Child Protective Services when an abusive parent actually has their shit together. The ratio of real, institutional power between a national-level organizer, or a member of the Central Committee, and local leadership is so disproportionately small compared to the gap between the rank-and-file and local leadership that putting faith in the party’s own constitutional procedures and codes of discipline is basically just total idiot logic for most of the people involved. The party can’t command actually existing trust or faith from its members without clearly earning it. Whether or not local leadership is taking advantage of a disciplinary code built on fucking pinky-promises is immaterial because the power to do so will definitely be felt by the leadership, and more perceptive members will feel uneasy wondering when, maybe not even if, leadership will abuse it.

As for those cadres as individuals, I haven’t met a single one who didn’t have an educated, professional background, and generally quite a bit older than the people they organized. I would understand a pragmatic decision to support and elevate leadership or solid organizers with business experience in lieu of political experience, in very isolated cases, but this particular demographic seems to be a countrywide phenomenon. To most people, they’re likely very adept organizers; dedicated, energetic, supportive, and whatever. However, if you’re young or look impressionable, they’ll try to trick you and lie to you, either because that’s all they know or they want to feel clever. These people know how to establish their presence in a room, flaunt their confidence, and casually put people down to whittle away at their visible insecurities. In these initial one-on-one meetings, if they aren’t simply ambitious then they’re selling a product dressed up as a Marxist party tailored to your particular taste in ideas. This, again, would be fine insofar as the party held some ground for future cadres to build off of, and insofar as cadres had no ambitions or desires that could weather a communist platitude or two.

As for the younger, expanding section of the communist movement, who have essentially slipped into the psychological relationship with the party mentioned earlier, these cadres appear striking and magnetic. Their role and presence within a sufficiently small local is tantamount to the embodiment of the party. Among other things, this is a byproduct of a rote and fetishistic understanding of a party, or even authority at large, coming from a now deeply-rooted aesthetic and memetic process. They would be incapable of consummating this deliberately paternalistic relationship without a strong authority figure to represent and maintain it, even if it wasn’t party line. They then tend to be charmed and railroaded into an ideological, and sometimes intellectual, dependency on such leadership as a matter of the leadership’s personal preferences and attention-seeking, which quickly homogenizes the topic and trajectory of most, if not all, relevant discussions.

At this point, the party branch, as far as it’s developed, is simply a vessel for personalities rather than a tool for political action. It doesn’t act or progress in any direction. There’s a top and a bottom to the organization and it’s been established that they don’t move, or change. Everything is locked in place by a mixture of pathological and social pressures. After gaining some supporters, local leadership like this thankfully won’t desire any more power over cadres. Their narrow individualism simply rejects the responsibility of leadership, for the image leadership commands in a social environment where people have very little freedom to do what that environment was designed for.

Every once in a while, we’re forced to respect the history of proletarian revolution, and especially its leaders within that history, before we try to strip it for parts without an ounce of sentimentality. Most people go the extra mile to miss the second part and decide deification is the same thing as respect. No matter what head people stick in a portrait frame, they’ll eulogize about the significance of that particular head and what it did when it was still, really, attached to a living human body. What’s frustrating about this isn’t that it’s some spectacular, ritualistic gesture; it’s frustrating because it’s a very standard ritualistic gesture usually deprived of the prescient and useful content of their ideas, or their application.

The sheer ideological damage of recasting leaders into celebrities, for ourselves and within what exists of an internal communist culture, has played a large part in contributing to fetishist conceptions of socialist power and reproducing a bourgeois outlook on leadership, which is reassembling itself in new organizers and leaders. New popular notions around communism – communists being, of course, flattered by an inkling of popularity without understanding the fucking notions – have turned bourgeois stereotypes inward, and this process has most likely managed to regress and corrupt even basic preconceptions of communist politics by vindicating and championing anti-communist myths as historic victories.

Last year I found out that cartoonish, arbitrary authoritarianism had simply become a part of a younger generation’s expectations of communism, as followers. New waves of opportunists and careerists can and will easily capitalize on this phenomenon, as leadership clearly cut out to live up to the whole range of expectations. These are the people who are already trying to start more branches of Marxist parties from the fucking Stone Age, that are neither ideologically nor technically equipped to educate members or investigate and discipline abusers. They’re very old party-forms that structurally, if not socially, engineer their own periodic crises through arrogant, bureaucratic paper-shuffling and paranoid flailing. Additionally, I don’t think the older cadres can even imagine the world or the people around them getting substantially worse before they die. That’s sad.

As a result, the big parties are likely facing a future of collapse before any movement can hit its stride, but in the meantime, they’ll likely have half of their new branches established as a series of communist-themed master-slave dialectics mediated almost exclusively through Kim Jong Un memes. There is no resolution. Just a guarantee that Daddy Stalin jokes will simply become more real as time goes on.

Edited by Gssh ()

#2
good shit op
#3
front page it
#4
christ thanks for the flashbacks товарищ

i got specific faces attached to a good number of these paragraphs
#5

ialdabaoth posted:

christ thanks for the flashbacks товарищ

i got specific faces attached to a good number of these paragraphs


*crestfallen yakov smirnoff voice* ha ha ha what a party

#6

Parenti posted:

front page it


how does that work?

#7
Very carefully
#8
This is a cool post thanks
#9

red_dread posted:


LORD'N'BONDSMAN ON A CAR RIDE, LORD'N'BONDSMAN IN THE BAR & GRILL


#10

red_dread posted:

how does that work?


i'll pm you details

#11
red_dread, are you actually planning on expanding on this in the future? i hope so because it gives a lot of precise context to some general feelings ive had about my time in groups with varying degrees of direct political purpose and activity, and how that relates to internal dynamics and recruitment. in particular, seeing the differences in organizational psychology etc between a small local unions, communist/anarchist orgs, and local antifa really mades it clear to me that having a direct political purpose is a hard prerequisite for an organization to have any sort of motivation for dealing with internal issues and recruitment in a proactive or sensible way. its been my experience that organizations that need their membership to grow and develop in order to fulfill a purpose that positively affects the membership makes it much more possible to effectively deal with issues from harrassment to keeping meetings to a reasonable length to effective delegation of tasks.

ive been thinking a little about how this relates to the detachment of the big US communist parties from labor work, i guess in the first world in part due to the reactionary trajectories of a lot of US unions and elsewhere because its hard to coordinate (in addition to the various social pressures in these big US orgs that you mention). it seems like a difficult problem to figure out how to structure the political activity of an organization such that it has a real chance of producing the conditions for developing a meaningful tendency for marxist analysis in its membership, but at the same time its the key to seeing any sort of success.

Edited by c_man ()

#12

red_dread posted:

...the big parties effectively rely on recruiting the most vulnerable people to fill their ranks....The subcultural communist milieu, like a lot of online communities, is in the middle of this psychic tension between atomized personhood and communal life. Usually, members in leadership positions understand this completely... no concrete way of rendering that necessity into political action nor subjectively transforming the party’s purely social character into an expressly political one... a drastic failure of party leadership and an irresponsible, immoral misuse of the party itself.
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v
Finally, there’s a general consensus that the coming immolation of the planet, as well as a crisis of imperialism, will enable the movement to grow rapidly and exponentially over the next 15 years, in which time younger leadership will replace the old.



it is crazy hubris to think the second will follow the first. US people will look first to the US communist movement for a vision of a new world, see that it's spent its preparation time as a social club, and then rapidly look someplace else. at the PSL meetings i've been to (not a member) planetary immolation, the material challenge of the age, would get tacked onto the end of speeches like i'd imagine women's liberation did in the 70s, 80s, as a check box not a really difficult contradiction to overcome at the center of the global land struggle..

...hegemony within the movement itself hasn’t been consolidated by a dominant communist tendency or organization and, relative to the movement’s size and net inexperience, a single person could potentially dominate that hegemonic force itself and develop the party... As for the younger, expanding section of the communist movement, who have essentially slipped into the psychological relationship with the party mentioned earlier, these cadres appear striking and magnetic... a byproduct of a rote and fetishistic understanding of a party, or even authority at large, coming from a now deeply-rooted aesthetic and memetic process... Most people go the extra mile...and decide deification is the same thing as respect... Last year I found out that cartoonish, arbitrary authoritarianism had simply become a part of a younger generation’s expectations of communism, as followers.


maybe wouldn't be the worst gamble to consolidate leadership around a successful cadre... might be better to teach>apply>reproduce theory and maybe it'd lose but it'd lose differently from how it's losing now. but yea it took me personally way too long to figure out how 1917 wasn't LENIN it was a mass democratic parasite-shedding. 1949 wasn't MAO, the red army was less than nothing w/o its peasant base, the physical metabolic energy of that land struggle, every grain of rice was payment for parasite-killing services rendered. the non-marxist assumption that politics is made by heads of state is reproduced by reds about socialism, sometimes cynically sometimes naively, and it's weird when the same people can see thru bourgeois kabuki.

Additionally, I don’t think the older cadres can even imagine the world or the people around them getting substantially worse before they die. That’s sad.



i haven't met any of these 200 cadre but if that's true then they know how little they have to offer our class :(

#13
what's the read on FRSO? same problems as above?
#14

c_man posted:

red_dread, are you actually planning on expanding on this in the future? i hope so because it gives a lot of precise context to some general feelings ive had about my time in groups with varying degrees of direct political purpose and activity, and how that relates to internal dynamics and recruitment. in particular, seeing the differences in organizational psychology etc between a small local unions, communist/anarchist orgs, and local antifa really mades it clear to me that having a direct political purpose is a hard prerequisite for an organization to have any sort of motivation for dealing with internal issues and recruitment in a proactive or sensible way. its been my experience that organizations that need their membership to grow and develop in order to fulfill a purpose that positively affects the membership makes it much more possible to effectively deal with issues from harrassment to keeping meetings to a reasonable length to effective delegation of tasks.

ive been thinking a little about how this relates to the detachment of the big US communist parties from labor work, i guess in the first world in part due to the reactionary trajectories of a lot of US unions and elsewhere because its hard to coordinate (in addition to the various social pressures in these big US orgs that you mention). it seems like a difficult problem to figure out how to structure the political activity of an organization such that it has a real chance of producing the conditions for developing a meaningful tendency for marxist analysis in its membership, but at the same time its the key to seeing any sort of success.


yeah, i'm writing five more parts. i'm trying to cover marxist/proletarian feminism, ideological struggle, hegemony, party finances, and political violence. i'll probably touch on some more technical and psychological aspects of organizational work but my perspective is pretty limited due to the fact that the PSL did none and my org was essentially, though consciously, "ultra-left".

#15

toyotathon posted:

it is crazy hubris to think the second will follow the first. US people will look first to the US communist movement for a vision of a new world, see that it's spent its preparation time as a social club, and then rapidly look someplace else. at the PSL meetings i've been to (not a member) planetary immolation, the material challenge of the age, would get tacked onto the end of speeches like i'd imagine women's liberation did in the 70s, 80s, as a check box not a really difficult contradiction to overcome at the center of the global land struggle..


planetary immolation takes a backseat to the elusive "imperialism in crisis" most of the time, which i refuse to take seriously in terms of priorities at this point. it's immeasurably worse when a branch uncritically accepts reindustrialization without any ecological concerns.

maybe wouldn't be the worst gamble to consolidate leadership around a successful cadre... might be better to teach>apply>reproduce theory and maybe it'd lose but it'd lose differently from how it's losing now. but yea it took me personally way too long to figure out how 1917 wasn't LENIN it was a mass democratic parasite-shedding. 1949 wasn't MAO, the red army was less than nothing w/o its peasant base, the physical metabolic energy of that land struggle, every grain of rice was payment for parasite-killing services rendered. the non-marxist assumption that politics is made by heads of state is reproduced by reds about socialism, sometimes cynically sometimes naively, and it's weird when the same people can see thru bourgeois kabuki.


one time i had an internet argument with a 50 year old, ML, grown-ass man about the cultural revolution. with patience and clarity, i elaborated the complex political dynamics within the CPC and outside of it. then he came back asking about fucking... why mao didn't just get on the radio and say which party line was correct. this is more or less the outlook of most MLs i've met, when i've dug deep enough.

i haven't met any of these 200 cadre but if that's true then they know how little they have to offer our class :(


by "older" i mean 60's and 70's. they're really way too comfortable with their ideas about the future without them, which sounds nice for dying people but it doesn't help build confidence in their ideas, or their parties, at all.

#16

red_dread posted:

c_man posted:

red_dread, are you actually planning on expanding on this in the future? i hope so because it gives a lot of precise context to some general feelings ive had about my time in groups with varying degrees of direct political purpose and activity, and how that relates to internal dynamics and recruitment. in particular, seeing the differences in organizational psychology etc between a small local unions, communist/anarchist orgs, and local antifa really mades it clear to me that having a direct political purpose is a hard prerequisite for an organization to have any sort of motivation for dealing with internal issues and recruitment in a proactive or sensible way. its been my experience that organizations that need their membership to grow and develop in order to fulfill a purpose that positively affects the membership makes it much more possible to effectively deal with issues from harrassment to keeping meetings to a reasonable length to effective delegation of tasks.

ive been thinking a little about how this relates to the detachment of the big US communist parties from labor work, i guess in the first world in part due to the reactionary trajectories of a lot of US unions and elsewhere because its hard to coordinate (in addition to the various social pressures in these big US orgs that you mention). it seems like a difficult problem to figure out how to structure the political activity of an organization such that it has a real chance of producing the conditions for developing a meaningful tendency for marxist analysis in its membership, but at the same time its the key to seeing any sort of success.

yeah, i'm writing five more parts. i'm trying to cover marxist/proletarian feminism, ideological struggle, hegemony, party finances, and political violence. i'll probably touch on some more technical and psychological aspects of organizational work but my perspective is pretty limited due to the fact that the PSL did none and my org was essentially, though consciously, "ultra-left".


bad ass

#17
my 3 suggestions to the communist party were

1. if were just a hang out club, lets at least make it fun, someone bring some board games and ill cook everyone dinner
2. if were an educational club, lets at least learn about something interesting, have you heard of this thing called science, and philosophy?
3. if were just a marketing club, why have we chosen the S-rank task of selling pseudo-fash newspapers with a big hammer and sickle on the front? like whats the demographic here?

needless to say...
#18

tears posted:

pseudo-fash newspapers with a big hammer and sickle on the front?



is this about the cpgb-ml or more than that

#19
never heard of them, must be some micro-sect
#20
Since I spent a few years just making jokes online and going to school I mostly missed the growth of small collectives on the far-left in the USA. I saw a list of recent collectives and micro-parties and had no idea most of them existed. Obviously most of these just exist on paper or on the periphery of other organizations but it was still interesting to see. The theory seems eclectic and contradictory at first glance but I'm not sure that's all that bad as people work through things. It's quite astonishing on Twitter seeing thousands of people self-describe as ML. It's also surprising seeing these some of these people working with "libertarian socialists" to criticize the DSA-as-it-exists from multiple directions. A lot of this is contradictory and childish but it's still cool to see people working through potential programs. I don't think the groups that operate in the DSA have a viable future because Bernie 2020 will swamp them. I mean there is no barrier to entry to just tens of thousands of people who sorta like Bernie and most of those people don't care about Lenin beyond a meme or two.

I'm also much less confident that I have many answers anyway. After learning more about law and religion and such I still have pretty similar beliefs about politics but I'm more comfortable just being like well whatever. I'm also much more open to just working with people on campaigns to learn particular skills and help out a bit. Like I finally reached out to get more involved in some broad ecology and indigenous justice campaigns just to learn more about them, and I'm going to try to start volunteering as a peer support person now that I'm done school and just writing part-time. Some of the problem with far-left groups is just the level of urgency you feel compared to the level of contribution you and your comrades can actually make. I feel this a lot because I have very little capacity to contribute at like a health level but I feel like I could be helpful if I focus better and just chip away over time.
#21

getfiscal posted:

Since I spent a few years just making jokes online and going to school I mostly missed the growth of small collectives on the far-left in the USA. I saw a list of recent collectives and micro-parties and had no idea most of them existed. Obviously most of these just exist on paper or on the periphery of other organizations but it was still interesting to see. The theory seems eclectic and contradictory at first glance but I'm not sure that's all that bad as people work through things. It's quite astonishing on Twitter seeing thousands of people self-describe as ML. It's also surprising seeing these some of these people working with "libertarian socialists" to criticize the DSA-as-it-exists from multiple directions. A lot of this is contradictory and childish but it's still cool to see people working through potential programs. I don't think the groups that operate in the DSA have a viable future because Bernie 2020 will swamp them. I mean there is no barrier to entry to just tens of thousands of people who sorta like Bernie and most of those people don't care about Lenin beyond a meme or two.

I'm also much less confident that I have many answers anyway. After learning more about law and religion and such I still have pretty similar beliefs about politics but I'm more comfortable just being like well whatever. I'm also much more open to just working with people on campaigns to learn particular skills and help out a bit. Like I finally reached out to get more involved in some broad ecology and indigenous justice campaigns just to learn more about them, and I'm going to try to start volunteering as a peer support person now that I'm done school and just writing part-time. Some of the problem with far-left groups is just the level of urgency you feel compared to the level of contribution you and your comrades can actually make. I feel this a lot because I have very little capacity to contribute at like a health level but I feel like I could be helpful if I focus better and just chip away over time.


this is a very getfiscal post but this part is important and neglected. the hype is intense and infectious but unfortunately illusory; worse when it's mistaken for power. it proves to be a massive obstacle to developing self-consciousness in a political context, which most people don't achieve for a bunch of stupid reasons.

something i asked myself a lot when i would pore over maoist documents would be, "how much of this was just people sitting in rooms?" if any of the more intellectually rigorous maoist groups i met with were any indication, the answer is "about 90%, baybee!!"

#22

red_dread posted:

the hype is intense and infectious but unfortunately illusory; worse when it's mistaken for power. it proves to be a massive obstacle to developing self-consciousness in a political context, which most people don't achieve for a bunch of stupid reasons.


I think there is a layer of organizers which is dominant/hegemonic in the DSA/Jacobin (and Labour UK) where the obvious solution to this is to pitch a project that can plausibly win concrete political battles in hopes of drawing in large numbers of people. And to some extent it obviously can, even it if is probably doomed as a solution to confronting the capitalist state as such. Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not building socialism but she's someone a lot of news-addicts can cheer on. And some people can be snared off of those campaigns by being doom and gloom about it, but I doubt that works for millions of people. I always think of the Maoist slogan "a minority with the correct revolutionary line is no longer a minority." Being right on the sidelines and not being able to translate it into power is mostly irrelevant, it's like having niche opinions about medicine or something in our world. I don't know how to square that circle without just trying to keep basics in mind - like the need for an independent left, the inevitably of conflict with the capitalist state, etc. but if they just become mantras for a small number of people will it even matter. i dunno. anyway i appreciated your views.

#23
The ameriKKKan Marxist Parties & their Problems, Part Two

“YOU KNOW, I THINK ALL I REALLY LEARNED ABOUT COMMUNISM IS IT’S OKAY TO SHOUT AT WOMEN (UNTIL THEY CRY)”

With Trump’s election, no one could fail to anticipate the rapid advance of women and oppressed people eager to explore more militant alternatives to a growing but passive social-democratic movement.

The parties, as well as the “pre-party formations”, hitherto emulating social-democracy in order to capitalize on its political gains, shifted to a melange of “radical” tokenism and revolutionary phrase-mongering. They were nonetheless still haunted by a backwards envy of social-democratic advances and catchphrases that popularized a zombified distortion of “socialism” in a matter of months. The failure of these opportunistic ploys wasn’t just rooted in political miscalculation. It was simply in their underestimation of these particular people – neglected and fetishized by the parties for years – who were probing for organizations that would make good use of their talents and facilitate the development of their political thought and activity, rather than trying to find reasons why social-democracy would fail to do so.

At the time, our organization was flailing for identity and definition; it made a good match for curious groups of newly-minted radical women, most of all. The vast majority of our supporters, as well as the people who claimed to be “members”, were women. This never really changed through the years. I imagine, in a few years from now, there’ll still be women claiming retribution against men in our name, or starting rumors of Communist conspiracies to wipe the bars, the scenes, and the streets clean with gangs of “Red Women.” The constant episodes of myth-making throughout our lifespan betrayed a violent desire for an organization begging to be brought to life, with a clarity of vision that we always lacked. All these things only made an impression on half of the organization at any given time. Being one part of that half, I became deeply preoccupied with trying to integrate women into leadership and membership in broader organizational units.

In nearly 3 years of political experience, I was never consumed so much with a single problem so consistently. Through that process of assembly and development, we eventually established the centrality of women’s oppression, and especially patriarchy at large, in our political outlook and activity. From our class location, our perspective, no other contradiction manifested itself so vividly and frequently, and none could be heightened or exposed with so little traction or resistance. This is where our political line and practice diverged from PSL dramatically.

To illustrate this division: we made an investigation into a founding member after a bout of suspicious activity and a tip from a former friend. Through a sufficient amount of digging and private talks, we discovered he was a serial rapist. Subsequent plans included quietly informing friends and relevant social circles, ambushing him and beating him with bats and pipes, and destroying all avenues for him to access any kind of social life by escalating the levels of exposure. Some stumbles occurred in this process, but within a year we managed to twist him into a half-broken shell of who he was. This was our political line, devised to avoid the pitfalls of Marxist parties that mire themselves in cover-ups instead. The solution was an ultimatum between confession or retaliation. On the other hand, there was the party.

The PSL isn’t an organization to insert chauvinism into its public image like the CPGB-ML, for example. Its surface is calculated to appeal to all oppressed people, though its “line” on their particular oppressions is rather weak and vacillating. Lacking strong, or even compelling, ideological leadership, its political line is essentially determined by cliques in local leadership and trends in the rank-and-file, whose influence and actions overwhelm whatever’s actually committed to official documents. As a member of a Marxist party, you’ll come to realize this leadership is holding together what’s mostly a paper organization. Long after realizing this myself, I discovered the depths of the disdain that its members had for women, when I was exposed to their humiliating and dehumanizing outbursts against them – cheered by weak minds and encouraged by newfound authority in another political circle. This was simply a feature of their lives, private or political, and, sadly, these outbursts worked to further silence potential challenges and establish a crude dominance over people around them. Thus, the bitches shut their mouths, the men gab to each other about their profound things, and the transaction of power for a stillborn political entity is completed.

What’s more, a very general phenomenon would manifest in their relations to partners, who are viewed and pressured to act as passive wells of empathy and caregiving. For the most part, they’re spared from abuse as not to jeopardize the men’s access to emotional and physical intimacy. While presenting themselves at political functions, they were never asked or encouraged to share their thoughts or speak for themselves. As a homosexual and an all-round “alien queer”, the extension of this uneasy, and pathetic, dynamic to the political sphere was particularly revealing. Even when involved, these women couldn’t be free to act as anything other than Mom 2.0, and this status will actively be reproduced by the same social mechanisms used to establish political power and influence over others in a more violent fashion.

The purer and more demanding part of myself will ask: what’s Communism without women? What’s Communism without criticism or questions? Can anyone truly be a Communist if they sincerely believe the thread of gristle between their legs entitles them to authority? Within the internal life of the Marxist parties, but not exclusively them, the ideal is rendered meaningless by the idiotic seizures of power-hungry men. As epidemic as this is, the root of the problem is never really explored by party leadership.

While the Marxist parties might indulge in some gestures towards economistic explanations of women’s oppression, they’re engrossed in a basically virginal outlook. For them, there’s only a handful of palatable “Marxist feminist” theories which contradict each other to such an extent that they can’t form a comprehensive, analytical body that would complement Marxist critique or practice. Wages for housework; the expropriation of women’s property in primary accumulation; elimination of the gendered division of labor, etc., haven’t kept up with the movement of existing social relations and the productive forces, and instead they’ve shielded intellectuals and organizers alike from the challenge of social investigation or ideological transformation.

No one in these parties will concern themselves politically with problems of sex, which isn’t simply just about rape, assault, or abuse but a category encompassing social contradictions that run the risk of indicting the greater part of their membership if exposed. The Marxist party is designed to be a libidinally sterile environment in order to elude this level of exposure and prevent the development of ideas that might reveal, and therefore heighten, these contradictions. As a result, in theory, the party is celibate and encourages its members to mold themselves into bureaucratic monks, which is invariably a purely performative role. This is in sharp contrast to an outside world obsessed with fucking, with an ever-booming sex industry and new generations that have weaned themselves on its products. It’s inevitable that when these two worlds clash, leadership is at a loss to comprehend the basic issue at hand.

Bourgeois and petit-bourgeois organizations have presided over high-profile “MeToo”-influenced purges, while self-described “proletarian” organizations have failed to follow suit. It’s no surprise that, like any ecclesiastical body, parties have developed a legacy of cover-ups and member shuffling over numerous abuse and rape allegations. Leadership often undercuts attempts to organize and rectify these failings, and organizers will sabotage attempts to organize women or, failing that, drag their feet in a petulant move to do so. While lacking a cohesive analysis of gender is a particular issue preventing the transformation of these people and their organizations, ironically it’s the inability of Marxists to clearly criticize their own class that comprises the general problem of developing that analysis in the first place.

Much like the prevailing attitude towards settlerism, superwages, and mass parasitism, patriarchy is often reduced to cheap, feminist sloganeering or ignored altogether. Attempts to develop a critique consistent with dialectical materialism is, as mentioned, discouraged so as to avoid self-indictment in practice. The prospect of any section of the party being equipped with programmatic ideas of any real depth inspires a kind of visceral fear in men, no different from a bourgeois, because it would threaten to expose their ideals as nothing more than a fucking pickup line or a ploy to catch the attention of weaker personalities and wield power over them. There’s nothing more humiliating to the “professional revolutionary” than the public revelation that his dick is occupying the greater part of his intellect. Cutting straight through this insecurity will likely liberate the development of Marxist feminism, by enabling it to turn inward.

Despite its depth, all existing theory on the subject betrays a mode of thought and poverty of practice burdened with layers upon layers of abstraction. Wittig’s essays on materialist feminism have been a recent point of controversy for broadly exposing the category of “woman” as a class formation, brought about by an antagonistic, exploitative relation to men; Fredrici’s theories have expanded on the gendered division of labor, and labor appropriation, into the ensemble of social reproduction; Ghandy’s proletarian feminism has been appropriated by the Maoists here as a broad alternative to “eclectic” feminisms and as more or less a convenient defense against the “antagonistic” character of the contradiction between men and women. The more academic schools of feminist, queer, and critical theory can also be useful for analysis, despite their subjectivism and idealism.

Any of these critiques can eventually prove to be acceptable to any political circle, in time, but a revolution in the dominant critique itself will never substitute for the practical achievement of organizing a circle capable of embodying the critique in the real world, and expanding upon it. This is evidently a dangerous and intimidating concept to a lot of people, not just men; which is all the more reason to appreciate and encourage it.

Fighting patriarchy in the real world isn’t simply a matter of reacting to its excesses but actively penetrating its thoroughgoing parasitism. Women predominate what exists of the proletarian class in the imperialist nations. Typical patriarchal relations have progressed to a point in which they are the dominant wage-earners in their households, compounding extractive relationships to their partners. These proletarian women are increasingly being reduced to a subhuman status by political reaction, to say nothing of the mounting efforts to convert transwomen into corpses. The sex industry continues to expand into more accessible, casualized avenues, yet Marxists can't seem to conceive of how a working-class john might be an exploiter.

As is, working-class women will happily present a number of demands to so-called revolutionary organizations, given the chance to speak. “A group where we can talk to each other”; “a way to defend ourselves”; “an outlet to broadcast our ideas”; “a way to circulate information quietly,” etc.. The dumb tragedy of it all is that the Marxist parties could easily provide for these demands but they can’t, because they never think to ask them in the first place.

Stay tuned for a bleak tale of ideological struggle in VOMIT RUNNING DOWN MY JACKET SLEEVE; OR, DON’T TELL ANYONE I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT DENG XIAOPING.

Edited by red_dread ()

#24
the littlest tower of all
#25

red_dread posted:

Thus, the bitches shut their mouths, the men gab to each other about their profound things, and the transaction of power for a stillborn political entity is completed.



one game to play in meetings is, keep a private tally of man/woman speaking time vs men/women present.. don't need a stopwatch, the pattern's pretty obv. i hear a fairly consistent 70/30 whether it's a PSL thing or a reading circle.. so the avg man believes they've got about twice as much to say as the avg woman. it's skewed by male loudmouths, but there ya go again

edit- great post

Edited by toyotathon ()

#26
well said
#27
The ameriKKKan Marxist Parties & their Problems, Part Three

VOMIT RUNNING DOWN MY JACKET SLEEVE; OR, DON’T TELL ANYONE I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT DENG XIAOPING

When I was thinking about how to structure this section, I wanted to establish how “Dengism” developed both as a term and, later, what became a small phenomenon. I realized that it was now taken for granted as a crude label for a prominent section of the “Marxist-Leninist” left. There was a time when it was just another piece of bad Maoist propaganda, and there was even a time when the conflict between Maoists and “Marcyites” was a pretty distant possibility, though I anticipated it happening sooner or later. Hilariously, this process spiraled out into a series of open confrontations, against the party, and political maneuvers on the part of party leadership, against the Maoists, that prefigured the ones our organization found itself on the receiving end of.

In the broad scheme of things, the development of this whole phenomenon was underwhelming and hard to take seriously, but it was something that perfectly encapsulated everything wrong with ideological struggle in the parties and broader movement. Back then, I thought it was something idiotic I’d been forced to take seriously but I later realized it belied greater ideological rifts than its Cultural Revolution-style stagedressing and inflated sense of self-importance implied. Given my experiences and the prevailing situation, I’d say that the “popular masses” will never take the movement seriously, but it isn’t their responsibility to do so; unfortunately, it’s the responsibility of Communists, ourselves, to address our stupidities self-consciously and realistically without dressing up our embarrassment in past glories.

Ideological struggle isn’t allowed to “work” in the same way that it was during the 20th century. The existence of any class organization implies an ideological line and a political one; the dominant idea clearly exercises an influence on political action, and subsequent political action informs the further development of that idea. At certain junctures, the advancement of the political requires the transcendence of the idea. Strategies have to be transformed in order to meet new tactics suitable to a higher stage of development. The activity of a bourgeois-democratic revolution can’t complete the tasks of a proletarian one, for example. Up until the Soviet Union crashed and burned, and the internet was popularized, these struggles progressed in a more or less linear fashion, with trends and ideas clearly represented by individuals or groups in the same organization or contending ones. This is the format we’ve come to expect, simply because it’s sensible, translatable, and adaptable.

The actual, non-linear, and rhizomatic network of shiftless discussions on social media, that form the contemporary basis for the development of ideas, are something entirely different from the paper-based exchanges that structured the debates of the past. While an argument might be formed and expressed clearly in an essay, calculating the constellation of data-points that form a broad consensus on a particular argument, among thousands of people, is beyond basic human comprehension. Greater factors, like algorithmic bubbles and self-reinforcement, also contribute to the conception of half-baked ideas by leaving them unchallenged. The rapid cycles of discussion will generally out-pace the average observer’s ability to process and reflect on them, and the idea can easily come into the ownership of cliques and in-crowds. By the time it’s generalized, the premises and definition of the idea aren’t intended to be questioned; they are simply understood.

This is a totally memetic process. Sometimes people will assert ideas without an argument behind them, sometimes an argument without ideas, even against their better judgment. They’re so insecure whenever they’re criticized or questioned on those points, since the sole compelling reason for how they came to those beliefs is, “Because we all agreed that it was established.” Even if it’s relatively easy to explain why an idea came about, attempting to understand how it came about is almost inconceivable.

The popular emergence of this phenomenon is why Trump’s political successes hit the liberal commentariat like a rampaging dump truck in 2016; why there were attempts to indict Facebook, as if its code was anymore responsible for the election than Gutenberg was for the publication of Mein Kampf. “Trump won because White America is full of fascists”; “That day I noticed that everything was happening all at once.” Party leadership is bound to be in the same position soon. While the socialization of the technology that made these things possible is taken for granted, the reciprocal effect that technology has had on basic social processes isn’t taken into account whatsoever.

Nearly a decade ago, these were fundamental changes to social engagement and culture that no one could get off their minds. Nominal “left-libertarians” started lauding an emerging, consensus-based “mass democracy” with no leaders, hierarchies, or parties, derived from the apparent liberties and egalitarianism of social media; Facebook seemed to mobilize thousands of demonstrators on a dime to fight inequality and start revolutions; and, with the development of a globe-spanning social network that looked like it afforded all ideas equal value, big-tent strategies were implemented. Within a number of years, the intellectual leaders retired into “digital party” coalitions – collapsed or collapsing in on the weight of their contradictions – or the houseflipping business; the revolutionaries turned out to be fascists with State Department-funded PR teams; and the big-tents fragmented along political, class, national, and gender lines once everyone realized that they were living in a society. Today, their energetic, counter-cultural tech-optimism is the exclusive reserve of Taco Bell commercials and degenerate billionaires who pump their veins full of teenagers’ blood to live a little longer in their own paradise they’ve made everyone else’s hell. At the end of this episode, great humanity has come full circle to the horrifying conclusion that was only evident before our critical mass event: the internet is shit for despicable morons – please get the fuck out.

Recalling these events is crucial: on one hand, they provided me with far more reasons to appreciate the merit of Marxism-Leninism as a political theory, even as an anarchist, in spite of the reputation of the parties; on the other, they depict events that did, objectively, occur in the real world and I didn’t imagine them, even if I fail to demonstrate the influence of the period on political discourse and social exchange.

After over a decade of uninterrupted technological progress and social engineering, we are essentially data harvesters. Consumption of information, like Freire’s bank-deposit mode of education, is replacing what would be a process of study and reflection. We convince ourselves we can process this information faster than we actually can and we’re encouraged to respond to them, seriously and intellectually, as quickly as we can manage. With content mills churning out millions of videos and millions of images everyday, and millions of words spat out into thousands of discussions reproducing themselves every single hour, time seems to move slower but we only get clumsier and more impatient under this illusion. Any doubts that this internal culture would be any less homogenous and totalizing than the outer world’s have long passed. The pursuit of minor clout in small and carefully curated circles rewards speed and strength of opinion more than the content of ideas. For each of the many constellations of data-points comprising scores of consensuses, every data-point comprises a comment or suggestion each as inane and functionally worthless as the last; of every constellation, there is an idea that will eventually be crystallized; of every one thousand of those constellations, there is an idea that will pass on to a higher sequence of dialectics, transmitted upwards into the sensuous realm. Sometimes I overhear things so alien and baffling in the moment they briefly dropkick me into a dissociative state. This happened to me the first time I heard party members anxiously gushing over Deng Xiaoping.

The existence of a party is contingent on not only the maintenance of its ideological line, but its continuous advancement. Its ideological line is the core expression of its class character and the struggle for the proletarian line comprises the highest activity of a party’s intellectual life. No ideological struggle, no intellectual life; no intellectual life, no proletarian class character; no proletarian class character, shit party. From the highest levels to the lowest, the parties are intellectual deserts. They have no infrastructure to encourage, or even support, ideological struggle. Subsequently, their intellectual output and more critical arguments are exported to Facebook groups and Twitter.

This would just be a minor issue if the leadership understood and kept serious track of trends in the lower levels, while intervening to encourage study, debates, or discussions on those subjects. They don’t: criticism isn’t accepted at meetings, rarely between its levels, and, when it arises, debate is discouraged as a waste of time. The leadership is more interested in intervening to crush struggles over ideological line when they get tired of hearing about them.

Apart from a handful of mostly mediocre books written by senior figures and national leaders, their only intellectual prizes are their monthly newspapers, which feature accounts and analyses as decrepit and clunky as their medium. Even as I was distributing and dropping papers, I had no idea who these were for, apart from art school grads who I discovered liked them more as status symbols than anything else. They were never eye-catching enough to pick up, nor insightful enough to keep reading. I’m under the impression that the unactivated “masses” are generally intelligent and psychologically resistant to hokey bullshit, and they need more than an outdated format and a didactic headline hook like “What does North Korea really want?” to inspire any interest in socialism. I inspected them from every angle I could think of and they always seemed dry, unoffensive, and dull-edged.

When I used to wait for dive bars to open and set up for punk shows, I would hate-read copies of Slingshot I picked up on the street. Every section was a fucking outrage, each page as obnoxious and self-indulgent as the next, and the whole zine was a monument to an anarchism that had reduced itself to a lifestyle guide – something that inspired more rage in me at the time than fascism. Nevertheless, my eyes never left it until I was finished. From a propaganda standpoint, I think if a product of creative, intellectual work can’t manage to be either informative or inspiring it should at least be capable of pissing off the opposition. The worst thing I could say about a political piece meant for the outside world is that it wouldn’t provoke anything but indifference from people who already despise us.

The Red Guards, as much as they’re mocked and derided, seem to understand that editorial standards aren’t didactic principles; that the central goal of revolutionary press, no matter the medium, is primarily agitation. Their news articles are consist of embellishments, questionable narratives, intense rhetoric, and the occasional breakthrough of investigative journalism. The object is to present the people they organize and the Shining Light of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as the protagonists of accounts and narratives that they command. They would have to rely on these articles to reflect reality to insofar as they serve as a practical measure of strength and influence, but they could otherwise embellish and twist reality against their opponents with a strong narrative that would be difficult to refute.

This was demonstrated during an episode in which the RGA staged a public confrontation with the PSL over their implied enrollment of McKinley Forbes as a party member. A year before, Forbes broke away from RATPAC-ATX, alleging they attempted to convert her to Maoism and ignored her nut allergy while she was on board for their emergency housing program. RATPAC-ATX then claimed she appropriated radical politics to serve her new career in the tech industry, which made her a gentrifier as well. Later on, the RGA revealed that an investigation, with some random but apparently established Hoxhaist party serving as impartial observers, validated the credibility of a series of leaks that implicated her in a handful of rapes and sexual assaults. A visit from Gloria LaRiva and some evidence of association with the party led the RGA to announce a picket against the PSL at one of their events.

(I’m almost completely certain that this was a deliberate move by the party to get close to someone who was targeted by the Maoists, whether or not they knew about what the RGA reported on Forbes. The party knew about her and RATPAC-ATX back when that whole thing started. Party leadership also has a tendency to dispatch high-profile members to dazzle and intimidate people outside of its apparatus, which was what happened when they decided it was necessary to split up a group in a nearby region, to establish a branch there, and try to fuck our organization over in the process, too. I will note, for the benefit of the PSL apparatchik who’ll inevitably read this, that our organization had no “members” to bar from a “dual membership” in the party; membership was hidden and prohibited from identifying themselves as such, if nothing else then to track spontaneous activity, information, and imitators. We sent the snitch back to your fucking branch weeks before anything happened. We warned you, and it still took you months to get him out of the party. Fuck you, tankie. Good luck getting that stipend.)

In a fairly predictable turn of events, the picket was dumb; the Maoists were rambunctious and irritating, the PSL members were confused and scared. A table was flipped, or jarred, depending on who wants to tell the truth when. The PSL’s response was launched within an hour or two, filled with every possible cliché that a party’s ever launched against sectarians, as well as anyone accusing their members of sexual assault, since the late 70’s. The Red Guards’ following statement dressing down the PSL for their overreaction and cynical arsenal of cliches practically wrote itself. The bulk of Marxist-Leninists were appalled by what happened but the RGA had easily taken command of the weak, prevailing narrative to appear more intimidating and graceful than they were, while presenting a stronger case for their own competence over the party’s, which was clearly what they were working towards. Anarchists and ultra-leftists thought it was hilarious, since the Red Guards did the work of breaking some unwritten rules of the organized “left” that were just waiting to be broken.

These actions imply a requisite level of ideological development that sometimes exceeds the parties’, and a constituent creative drive that’s derived from the active intellectual life of the collectives. As crude as they are, the Red Guards achieved a dynamic between their cells that enabled them to critique and build off of each other’s theoretical documents and summations. They engaged in internal debates that transformed their outlooks and political lines. They worked to turn their mass organizations into reserves for recruiting new cadres. They started an independent theoretical journal to expand upon open and closed struggles. Then they established a news service that clearly and concisely embodies their ideology and politics, broadcasting propaganda on almost a daily basis. In sum, the Maoists have built an independent, self-sufficient network of creative and intellectual output that the Marxist parties are fundamentally incapable of accomplishing.

All this allows the Maoists to advance their ideas and experiences, such as they are, in a more or less comprehensible, linear, and dialectical fashion. The presence of a strong, dominant idea uniting their collectives allows them to face opposition directly, even when dumb mistakes are made, and accomplish certain political goals using tactics they’ve developed themselves, no matter how much Gonzaloite dogma they believe they’re following. There is ideological leadership, ideological struggle, intellectual life, and continuous development constantly working within the collectives.

On the other hand, while there’s some natural presumption of a dominant idea, that party leadership seems to draw a lot of confidence from, leadership in fact has no consistent grip on ideological leadership. There’s a basic insecurity at the heart of the party’s political line due to this phenomenon. The party’s leading bodies can’t be challenged internally or externally, through criticism or total opposition. As was the case with the Maoists and a group of anarchists who ambushed a branch in ABQ a year or two earlier, even when it would be very easy to reasonably dismiss the ideas and actions coming from the opposition, they concluded that opposition could only be a COINTELPRO-inspired operation; a slew of women claiming to have been abused or assaulted by their members could only be wreckers; internal critics could only be splitters and also wreckers; and external critics are simply always wrong because the party’s ideological line is the party exists and the party is right.

This tends to be inversely reflected into the party’s Russian capitalist-subsidized radio show, where one party leader frequently shares airtime with hard-right “anti-imperialists,” which is sometimes characterized as evidence of an imaginary “red-brown alliance.” In fact, party leadership thinks they can embrace all the colors and hues of the fucking rainbow through their anti-war coalition, simply by existing and being right. Having airtime dedicated to suit-and-tie fascists and their “anti-war” bullshit is, legitimately, something they believe they’re doing to score points with the right, just like they do with liberals; the main problem is that a cheap rightist appearing on a nominally leftist podcast, calling himself “anti-war” or “anti-imperialist,” is a politician who knows how to take advantage of a failed Trotskyite book club. The leadership is being played for what little political capital they have and they’re actually that fucking stupid.

This stupidity and insolvency is ultimately a result of the dissonance in leadership that consequently pushes the development of ideas outward, only for those ideas to overwhelm party members and can potentially trigger a bottom-up sea change in the overall orientation and direction of the party, which would leave an idea completely maladapted to its circumstances. To this extent, party members can affect the party in some way, but it was because the strange case of Deng Xiaoping didn’t threaten the body politic with potential conflict or threaten short-term losses that national and local leadership didn’t tamper with its growth.

I attempted earlier to explain how Deng Xiaoping became the subject of adulation so quickly. Simply, it was an arbitrary process; the same way memes have usually formed, developed, and spread. It was only possible in our era. There was no reason to love Deng Xiaoping as an individual, no rational explanation for a movement that hasn’t received so much as a fucking box of free pamphlets from China since 1985. The party itself has no links to the CPC.

Deng Xiaoping was only ever remarkable for being a singularly talented, right-wing politician who rallied the support of bureaucrats, capitalists, and technicians, systematically dismantled the Cultural Revolution, and reintroduced capitalism through a series of rapid, dramatic reforms that was cheered on by the imperialist powers. Before now, he was simply an ambiguous figure to most of the Marxist-Leninist left. The reforms were seen as drastic and destructive but as a necessary concession to imperialism. The tremendous economic growth that followed was treated with caution, due to the poverty, oppression, and bloated capitalist class that erupted from it.

Within the party itself, existing documents stressed defending the “actually existing socialist” countries but also emphasized criticizing capitalist development. The only book in the PSL’s catalog about China rested its hopes on a nebulous “left-wing” of the CPC. Sam Marcy even criticized the arrest of the Gang of Four as an unprincipled crackdown on the left of the CPC. There was no continuity to these ideas, only the contradictions inherent in defending “actually existing socialism”; attempting to find middle ground between left and right, proletarian and bourgeois, lines. In the time it would take you to say "compromise," the "left-wing" of these parties would mysteriously vanish into thin air, much like what would later occur in Marcy's own parties.

In defending it so long, witnessing the rise of China and the perpetual decline of their own parties, people had lost patience in a definition of socialism outside of its largest contemporary “proponent.” If China was socialist, socialism was China; nothing else had evidently succeeded. The Chinese revolution brought about a new stage of socialism by strategically implementing capitalism; and a new era by strategically implementing imperialism. China was a socialist state that had managed to produce a stable middle class and all those billionaires, who were even socialists, too. There was no incentive in advancing “Marxism-Leninism” without following its clearly most advanced, experienced practitioner. This proceeded from a simple, mechanical logic.

Deng Xiaoping became such a phenomenon because the actually existing leadership of the party was incapable of teaching its membership how to oppose and fight Maoism. Imperialist China became the model for the dictatorship of the proletariat because the leadership couldn’t articulate a compelling vision of socialism. The Chinese Communist Party became the sole inspiration for the membership because the stolid, worthless hierarchy produced by the leadership’s superfluity could no longer justify their elitism or inaction – which it even emulated down to its superficial Neoconfucian mantras. If they were accomplishing nothing, at least Xi Jinping was. To deepen and elaborate the paternalistic nature of their own party, they collectively looked to China’s apolitical, chauvinist state and found an opulent reflection.

When their real estate bubble bursts, and all its capitalist sectors erupt at once, the CPC will strike all Marxist lingo from its mindnumbing, meaningless rhetoric, replace the “Communist” in their name with “Chinese,” and remove “core socialist values” from its constitutional and theoretical documents as the last ideological buffer from becoming just another imperialist state with a nameless bureaucracy full of adjuncts, who do nothing and own considerably less than they do now. Every time a Chinese manager opens fire on Zambian miners, the dying light of a scorched industrial wasteland will fall on the withered face of a PSL member. “It’s happening, it’s just like Xi,” he’ll say, a single tear running down his cheek. “They’re going to put ‘Communist’ back into the Chinese Party of China!”

I started studying the Cultural Revolution, and Chinese history up until the early years of Hu Jintao, just to figure out what I thought about Deng Xiaoping shortly after the whole thing came to my attention. I split with the general consensus when I realized that if any number of people around me found themselves in leadership roles, they would be the first ones shot as traitors by the Shanghai Red Guards.

Brace yourselves for the specter that haunts power, identity, and hegemony in a SCARY STORIES OF HEGEMONY TO TELL IN THE DARK spooktacular.

Edited by red_dread ()

#28
Extremely for the win post
#29

blinkandwheeze posted:

Extremely for the win post


thank you, blint wheez. i can't promise a lot from my position but i can say that each subsequent section will get progressively more maoist.

also i'm ditching the party finances section. it would be boring and mostly speculative, whining about how acquiring funds for revolutionary orgs hasn't progressed since nyack or the george jackson brigade. why won't some communist just get into high finance and steal some retirement funds or something. the leadership is full of complete conjobs who use revolutionary rhetoric to sentimentalize money out of its members. a big chunk of party funds go to maintaining huge electoral campaigns that are born to fail, generating tremendous waste. sometimes drug money is okay to take(?)

#30
I'm most anticipating ur post on political violence b.c that seems like it's the most fundamentally underdeveloped organisational question despite its obvious centricity to any kind of even vaguely marxist-leninist approach
#31
This is all excellent and I don’t want to dilute it by adding my own much lamer rant, but there is very little here that does not line up exactly with my own experiences in and around “parties”.

As was the case with the Maoists and a group of anarchists who ambushed a branch in ABQ a year or two earlier, even when it would be very easy to reasonably dismiss the ideas and actions coming from the opposition, they concluded that opposition could only be a COINTELPRO-inspired operation; a slew of women claiming to have been abused or assaulted by their members could only be wreckers; internal critics could only be splitters and also wreckers; and external critics are simply always wrong because the party’s ideological line is the party exists and the party is right.



this cracks me up because i saw it over an over again, parties approach to truth is an a priori argument for why they are always right and can never be wrong.

1. Lenin was always right on everything. – he was the most right person ever.

2. Only the party has interpreted Leninist scripture correctly.

3. They must therefore be right on everything.

4. It is fundamentally impossible for the party to be wrong on anything, because that would mean that Lenin was wrong – Lenin cannot be wrong, because he was right on everything.

5. If anyone disagrees with the party, they must be wrong – because the party are right by dint of correct interpretation of Lenin. Because of this, disagreements cannot be real, they are simply the work wreckers, splitters, government agents, infectious agents released by liberalism &c

it makes it impossible for the party to ever change its mind on anything, because to do so would mean either lenin was wrong, or they were wrong, neither of which is possible, see 1 & 2

#32

tears posted:

This is all excellent and I don’t want to dilute it by adding my own much lamer rant, but there is very little here that does not line up exactly with my own experiences in and around “parties”.


this is a good post and please for the love of christ, if anyone has rants to contribute, don't let me stop you.

edit: something that i won't touch on later, that separates the parties from their european counterparts, is that they don't really claim lenin's legacy. officially, they're "Marxist" parties; unofficially, and quietly, "Leninist" parties. most of their "deeper" theoretical insights are simply derived from sam marcy, and maybe by association rifts within the SWP rather than direct transmissions from trotsky. i think the leadership knows that most of its general membership has a growing antipathy for trotsky, so drawing too deep from their pre-history could be problematic, but i don't think they really understand how "stalinist" these people are. it's symptomatic of the same ideological problems i outlined.

Edited by red_dread ()

#33
trotskyism, marcyism, etc: not even once
#34

red_dread posted:

but i don't think they really understand how "stalinist" these people are. it's symptomatic of the same ideological problems i outlined.



I think they're vaguely aware but certainly not to the depth of it. Its part of the reason PSL never implemented a system for members to discuss things (openly or with restriction) with each other, whether a listserv to a nationality or gender caucus. Most WWP members are closer to Marcy though, with only a few, largely online, ML holdouts in the membership who are largely part of the 'rehabilitate Deng' trend, while most PSL leadership reject Marcys position on the national question and are closer to SWP on the question.

Edited by JohnBeige ()

#35

sovnarkoman posted:

tears posted:

pseudo-fash newspapers with a big hammer and sickle on the front?

is this about the cpgb-ml or more than that



Ppl here used to be all about cpgb-ml, what happened?

Good post op

#36
bhpn doesnt come around much anymore

Edit: ironically iirc its because hes gotten active in his local psl chapter
#37

overfire posted:

sovnarkoman posted:

tears posted:

pseudo-fash newspapers with a big hammer and sickle on the front?

is this about the cpgb-ml or more than that

Ppl here used to be all about cpgb-ml, what happened?

Good post op



the guy running their twitter went on a "there is nothing wrong about being white" rant or some shit. and then another round of "anti-idpol" nonsense

Edited by sovnarkoman ()

#38
just gonna say it, these writings represent a qualitative theoretical advance theory and the best analysis of the western left in years, thats history, right here, on the forum nobody reads, thanks a billion g_s
#39
wrap it up communailures
#40

tears posted:

just gonna say it, these writings represent a qualitative theoretical advance theory and the best analysis of the western left in years, thats history, right here, on the forum nobody reads, thanks a billion g_s


ty. i hope to compile all of these into a print volume that'll be nearly impossible to find 30 years from now, and sold at fucking outrageous markups by online merchants who are probably lying about having it in the first place.