Edited by tears ()
SCARY STORIES OF HEGEMONY TO TELL IN THE DARK
Harper’s columnist Donald Hughes recently reiterated one of Althusser’s points of comparison between Marx and Machiavelli: they had both observed that it was power that was the central, commanding force of the political realm. Hughes, an outspoken member of the “left” commentariat based in the Canadian social-fascist “New Democratic Party,” highlighted this comparison in order to demonstrate how bourgeois political supremacy, and its cultural hegemony, enabled its political establishment to not only incapacitate progressive, “socialist” states economically, but also to contrive and command a general narrative for the impossibility of socialist rule. Without this command, socialists could never successfully popularize the argument that the successes of socialism were being directly sabotaged by these kinds of economic regimes, or that the prevailing narratives to substantiate their “failures” were being engineered throughout the whole process.
Anyway, without the conquest for political power and the subsequent command of centralized power in the State, neither the rising bourgeoisie in Machiavelli’s time nor the proletariat in Marx’s could meet the challenge of ruling new societies and, especially, developing and spreading its ideas into the heights of cultural hegemony. The early Communist League was a vengeful, unscrupulous entity that intended to capitalize on a combination of Jacobin sentimentality, neglected bourgeois and petit-bourgeois demands, and proletarians’ intelligent militancy in order to command strategic positions in the inevitable uprisings of Western and Central Europe at the time. Though they were obviously out of their depth, the leadership of the Communist League, later the Communist Party, attempted to cast itself as the Machiavelli to the proletarian movement’s “Prince”.
What Machiavelli reveals to the “young prince” is that his ascent and rule is predicated on an understanding of a social-political apparatus that can only be navigated according to an outlook that will transcend his own particular sensibilities. Just because we’re right, doesn’t incline our rightness to power; just because we appear powerful or authoritative, doesn’t incline our power or authority to maintenance, reproduction, or expansion; just because our ideals are just, progressive, or kind, doesn’t incline their realization to just, progressive, or kind methods. In relation to Marx, what he could've anticipated was that the proletariat would resolve the underlying contradiction between the “young prince’s” practical rise and his sensibilities through materialist dialectics and, among other practices, criticism and self-criticism. To the proletariat, its freedom would be the recognition of necessity.
Our ideologues, no matter the sect or tendency, still haven’t grasped The Prince's opening conceit, which even led to its interpretation as a satire, much less internalized the level of self-consciousness that Marx expressed and imparted onto the social-historical character of the “proletariat.”
When the general consensus on our relationship to reality, to the productive forces, is that there’s little to no place for us except on the margins of social-democratic discourse, there’s also the attendant realization that the political stakes are so low that experimentation and playing at petty power-politics is essentially inevitable. Everyone will find themselves doing this at some point, whether it takes form as overblown theatrics or as underhanded gestures in events-planning. When the whole internal culture of the movement is held together by something as invisible and tenuous as a social contract, it’s only inevitable that a search for new answers will start beyond its terms. For all our organization’s own transgressions against the organized “left,” all the threats that we were going to be isolated never actually came to pass, since the pillars of cheap, moralistic codes that the movement was allegedly built on never actually existed. For all the antipathy we inspired in the process, it never proved an obstacle to the practical work that we wanted to do.
One thing I want to emphasize is that no one takes themselves seriously, in this movement; no one takes each other seriously; and, from group to group, no political entity takes another seriously. Even if their sincerity is bluntly asserted, there will always be an excuse that serves to deflate this quality. This results in a kind of cross-pollination of mutual indifference and reinforcement. The Maoists thrash another “Marcyite” picket, and within a matter of days it’ll simultaneously be the biggest thing that happens to both of them and all the more reason to discount its significance. From the outside looking in, even the most agitating events are totally ridiculous and impertinent. At the beginning and end of these narrative arcs, we have to admit that the present situation is a total no man’s land to us and the movement. We’ve nullified each other into equal irrelevance on equal terms; consequently throwing our cultivated sense of urgency and self-importance into an irrevocable crisis.
Any organization’s identity, between classes, national formations, smaller social groupings, etc., is a direct expression of the dialectic between its self-consciousness and self-activity. Where “self-activity” is what it’s doing to itself, “self-consciousness” is the degree to which it can comprehend those actions and, ultimately, their effects. While origins of this dialectic are derived wholly from material conditions predating its existence as a corporate unity as well as its self-division, the internality of the contradiction is principal to forces lying outside of its internal life. In Hegel’s philosophy, this is a purely mental “notion” that develops self-consciousness in order to attain “Reason,” to resolve the hitherto mounting contradictions of its own self-generating, ontological issues; in Marx, it’s a class that develops consciousness of itself in order to struggle for itself politically, to resolve the contradictions of hitherto existing class societies.
In order to acquire any form of political power, an organization will have to formulate a number of demands for itself – in essence, to develop an identity distinct from other formations – and be able to literally fight for them. This basically enables a class, for example, to transform from a “class-in-itself,” an identifiable social phenomenon and category, into “class-for-itself,” a self-identifying phenomenon and social force. To really put this difference into perspective: the thing-in-itself would be totally extant, but an object in an object-based realm; while the thing-for-itself would comprehend and declare, in its words and actions, “I am both subject and object, affecting an object-based realm.” In the ideological and political spheres, this collective comprehension and declaration, in various forms, and its recognition in contradiction with the existence of other formations is the historical mark of a class and the demarcation of its class struggle.
All this philosophizing bullshit has to do with something that I’ve alluded to in previous sections but haven’t really elaborated on. The fact is that the contemporary “communist movement” isn’t best understood as a cohesive political movement with an established historical legacy; it isn’t even that helpful to think of it as a “vanguard” apart or attached to or from a “mass element”. The “movement” is more or less an attempt by sections of a predominately settler-based working class, and subsections of newer proletarians, to identify themselves with the nearest hope for social cohesion and political ascension. The types of people that communist organizations are absorbing are wildly different from their late 20th century counterparts, in that they’re largely concentrated in some of the lowest-paid sectors of the country’s labor market.
Unlike the emerging social-democrats, they’re rarely concerned with quietly reviving a “middle-class” standard of living they lived to see, because they never did. The imperialist gravy train typically had left a generation before them, rather than within the span of theirs. Instead of becoming students, the advance knowledge of student loan regimes have left them workers. Despite the best attempts of Soviet liberals, Browderites, and Chinese capitalists, Communism slowly crawled out of its grave mainly due to the shifting priorities of imperialism and the present generation’s inheritance of stagnant, apartheid-era labor infrastructure, or what little remains of it.
The new wave of Communism is primarily a cultural phenomenon, like the radical Anabaptists who preceded the Chartists. They’ve funneled themselves into nominally political organizations with preexisting cultures, political activities, and systematic demands, which have largely gone past their expiration date by at least two decades. Barring a few key examples, their late 20th century counterparts were generally students and professionals of middle-class stock who either aged out of working-class status, when this was still possible, or ascended into the growing, mass-consumerist bureaucracy during deindustrialization. They were the products of a more stable and successful imperialist state, which managed to both educate and secure them in a more or less rationalized social order that found ways of presenting ready-made futures for them to occupy – sometimes literally. In this way, rejecting imperialism was fresher, harder, and sometimes more dangerous at the time; it was a conscious, political move into a near-unknown. More than anything, they were new and confused by their own political footing, especially as the ground they were standing on eroded into an atmosphere of apathy, sabotage, and corruption. The “pale-face SDS motherfuckers” of that era were anything but a product borne of circumstance; today’s cynical “precariat” (what a fucking worthless term) and their subconscious drive towards militant politics, however, are nothing but products of the absence of an alternative.
As the “main ideologue,” or intellectual leadership, of our organization, I always struggled to express the central idea that we weren’t just “communists,” or simply cutting figures of Lenin or whoever, but mainly proletarians attempting to develop our political consciousness and assert our interests collectively. If anything, we were more “proletarians” actively occupying this class position than “communists” actively fulfilling a developed political program in a vanguard-type role. Alongside emphasizing the idea that we had a right to be more critical of the organized “left,” this was an attempt to put the responsibility of developing class consciousness on ourselves in a process that would be more consistent with contemporary experiences and conditions. Practice would proceed from its psychological and cultural moorings into political action more quickly and accurately than it would in a party. Most importantly, the question of our identity would be resolved at a basic level the moment we were working around any other organization. This was confirmed and demonstrated beautifully on exactly one occasion, which I desperately tried to grasp and articulate as everything went to five different kinds of shit.
The revolutionary class is "us." After decades of neocolonialism and movementism, the national formations, communities, tribes, and smaller interest groups of the past have fractured along a more or less typical class lines. While still alive and kicking, settlerism provides a much more inclusive kind of garrison that isn’t immediately reducible to its old, raw sense of white supremacy. Taken altogether, the difference between the lower reaches of the petit-bourgeoisie and near-dead lumpenproletarians comprises the modern proletariat – new, old, half-made, or barely living – relinquished from the complicated ordeal of juggling “progressive national bourgeoisies,” even if the necessity for national liberation and decolonization has only intensified. In varying degrees of magnitude, this includes “us,” our Communist ideology, and the greater part of our movement, though its organizations are scarcely capable of representing us or fighting for our interests.
On the other hand, the more generous contradictions of imperialist decadence and mass parasitism have eroded the hitherto leading roles of petit-bourgeois intellectuals and their inharmonious, spiritual lag by introducing more accessible avenues for intellectual development – even discovery by happenstance, somewhat. The monopoly position of the 20th century political god-kings has been damaged beyond repair, which has had the effect of distinguishing this era from the last. Being accosted by the pathetic, dying morons manning the counter at the RCP-USA’s Harlem bookstore, trying to reel the absolutely destitute into their backroom to watch a 45-minute DVD presentation about Bob Avakian, is an object lesson in that decrepit regime and the functional impossibility of its emergence in the present day.
The elite groupthink of these organizations once dazzled their followers and hangers-on with their dimming achievements and pure, intellectual charm; even more dazzling was the promise of leading an imminent revolution. A handful of these groups managed to allure a selection of wannabe revolutionaries, boxing them into years of sustained, programmatic torture in order to mold them into lifelong servants of their megalomaniacal horseshit. Other groups were systematically attacked over questions of line by karate-wielding cadres, forced self-criticisms became cartoonish screaming matches, gays and lesbians were shut up in closets and beaten for “lifestyle reformism,” and their self-aggrandizements eventually jeopardized, then alienated, their remaining international contacts – essentially cutting themselves off from the outside world. Then the drugs wore off, or the dubious pride of not having done any did, and the aging remnants were forced to justify the sunken cost of a completely wasted life or throw the years away.
(After coaxing one of the bookstore’s several homeless regulars away from the leering party minders, I asked about how he was doing, what he was up to, and what he thought of the place. After a couple minutes, it was pretty obvious he couldn’t give a fuck about anything they thought or did even after months of coming in and out of there, though clearly they expected him to. With several decades of “arduous struggle” and icon-worship under the RCP-USA’s belt, Brother Al didn’t give a fuck; he was milking them for all the shelter, donuts, and coffee he could get. Besides, the lasting legacy of all their cultist shit has been the retention of a lot of young, pissed off Black workers who are biding their time, probably waiting for the leadership to drop dead, so they can kick off where the BLA left it and revive the long lost tradition of ambushing patrol cars.)
The present can’t afford the enthusiasm or optimism of the past that led to those narrow, violent mistakes. This is basically evident from a prevailing slogan like, “12 years to reverse climate change, or apocalypse,” over 1970-something’s “Learn about our Chairman, the most dangerous revolutionary and also most oppressed man in the country.” We have no independent political bodies of our own, no cultural institutions, and, at the end of the day, very little in the way of a historical legacy to base ourselves off of. The project of conquering political power is basically totalizing. In the twilight stage of capitalism, what works for the proletariat?
For one, the self-identification with their class, in itself, through social organization and, secondly, the ability and extent to which social organization can represent and struggle for the aims and interests of their class, for itself. The social organization that’s able to meet conditions head-on, translate its ideas and practices into the language of its class, and generate the various organisms to provide for its class’s psychological, cultural, political, and social needs, is the organization that will lead a class into a new social rule. The party of the present can't be a machine anymore; it has to be more of a social Leviathan. While the Marxist parties are rigidly political organizations, and their membership is largely attached to the psychological and cultural dimensions of the “proletarian party,” they’ll fail to live up to these expectations. If they only look outside of their apparatus for class consciousness, they’ll never account for the particular qualities of their self-consciousness. As it is, they don’t go soul-searching like this and the class-identity of the Marxist parties is a fucking mess.
I previously mentioned that the parties kind of have a tendency to tail the social-democratic movement from the “left,” to present themselves as a militant palliative to growing reformist trends. This relies on appearing more intelligent, coherent, and progressive than petit-bourgeois left-reformists in public and in semi-private settings. Local arrays of politically-neutered NGOs provide an audience to win over from the left-liberals but, in my experience, these are consistently neutral organizations that will be appreciative of any help they can get, especially when there are a number of “politicals” competing to win the favor or support of their members and communities.
The few pitched political battles against their better-funded, petit-bourgeois opposition will occur in broader coalition work, which is one of a handful of opportunities to clearly expound their views or exercise any political influence on relevant actions outside of anti-war pickets. After a while, it’ll become apparent that the party is incapable of leveraging its way into any small position of authority without relying on the immediate presence of petit-bourgeois misleadership. Leadership intends to turn these groups into their own foils and ends up becoming one of their appendages. This tactic is pretty much repeated endlessly, as if trying hard enough will somehow enable the leadership to fail upwards at some point. Their inability to represent themselves as an independent political force betrays a kind of strategic reality that they would have no fucking idea how to handle themselves if they achieved independence or dominance in the small arenas they find themselves relegated to. This is actually one of the many political buffers preventing nascent branches from going directly to people and speaking to them on their own terms.
With regard to more radical organizations comprised of working and oppressed people, the basic strategic plan is that they should be absorbed into the party. Unlike the stereotypical Trotskyite tactics of embedding members to occupy strategic points within smaller organizations, party constitutions support a programmatic conversion of the majority of the “mass organization” into party members, triggering a binding vote from above to establish it as a formal party organization. This acts more like a spreading virus than entryism, and it saves its leadership the difficult work of juggling members across the appropriate organizations and ensuring they make the right political decisions in their climb to the top. Since this process rests on the assumption that a mass org has no political line, and no real qualities as well-defined as the party’s, it’s hard to find fault in the party for essentially filling it all out with their own. Usually, at the point that this idea even comes up, the party and the mass org will probably have a good, close relationship, and it would be difficult in its own right to separate the members themselves. This is the position that The Red Nation found themselves in when they discovered that a member of the PSL sexually assaulted one of their members, which led to the justifiable impression that the party was attempting to take them over.
That process is a lot less of a smooth move when a member of a mass org is singled out by local leadership as a leading personality, consciously plucked out of a personal crisis to get drunk, and flattered relentlessly in an attempt to get them on board with the quiet transition of their self-described autonomous organization into the party’s national youth wing, without the knowledge or support of any of its other founding members. Because that was some fucking dumbass shit and they knew it. The main political objective behind this is basically to claim political work as their own, simply enveloping it under their banners with a pretense to legitimacy; it’s less a matter of whether integrating these organizations into the party machinery would allow them to develop to their full potential, since the party barely even has the funds or the manpower to sustain itself.
The parties do, however, maintain a fairly untouched foothold on fast-response anti-war pickets, which are useful for approximating and, in the best of times, engaging with local people who might be anti-imperialists. The political impotence of these actions are pretty much clear at this point, and it isn’t due to the prominence of the pro-interventionist “left.” The realities of permanent warfare, of individual military actions encompassing only a single fabric in the rich, global tapestry of imperialist atrocities, guarantee their impotence. A strong anti-war movement might’ve kept the draft away, or helped flatten the popularity of ground invasions, but warfare is adaptable in ways that an anti-war movement can’t possibly be. Ever since million-strong pickets failed to carry Bush and Blair directly to the fucking Hague, the anti-war movement has been structurally incapable of keeping up with a new emphasis on aerial bombardment, active occupation, proxy forces, private military companies, military exercises, and any number of “soft power” tactics. The reactive nature of any protest against one act of aggression will seem arbitrary compared to any number of acts committed in the same hour, which tends to pressure the party to come up with reasons to explain why some particular victim of aggression demands support. This is also rooted in a general superstition that the anti-war movement itself will compel the vast military apparatus itself to collapse, like a Super Vietnam 2.0 scenario or something.
The reactive and purely defensive character of their anti-war outlook has the unfortunate habit of turning anti-imperialism on its head, in a way. They get so comfortable with the significance of defending countries against a seemingly unstoppable, imperialist war machine from the heart of imperialism itself that they’re incapable of anticipating any kind of scenario where Amerika might not find itself on top. This is one of the reasons a lot of people seem to think there’s no such thing as “inter-imperialist conflict”: their outlook precludes the failure of permanent warfare at a point when they’ve accomplished so little strategically, and it helps that they don’t see China or Russia as imperialist powers in their own right. All of that was put to the test when the DPRK threatened to test its new nuclear capacities on Amerika’s Pacific colonial fiefdoms.
To me, this episode seemed to draft its own propaganda: the DPRK, one of the most maligned and marginalized countries on the planet, was staring down u.s. imperialism with a supposed nuclear arsenal that, for all intents and purposes, could’ve been fabricated or embellished, never flinching or backing down – even after losing the leverage of Russian or Chinese veto power in the UN – and succeeding in securing the first steps to realizing Korean reunification. For a Marxist-Leninist, I would’ve thought the whole thing was a wet dream of self-determination, anti-imperialism, pragmatism, and geopolitical leverage. As small as it was, and for as short as it lasted, it was a world-historical defeat against the global hegemonic power. For others, it was a fucking nightmare where they felt they had to mentally prepare to see everything north of the DMZ bombed back into oblivion, and quickly passed over once the news cycle finished. To this day, no one has really emphasized the significance of those events or, really, internalized the anti-imperialist spirit that led the DPRK to a victory of that caliber, even if it was needed at that particular time.
(It’s funny that the only popular advancement into more sophisticated forms of warfare was undertaken by the New Right in the form of Benghazi, which was projected onto Clinton alone. While Clinton was partially responsible for the proliferation of the proxy militias that turned Libya into an open-air slave market carved up by indistinguishable factions, she was only peripherally responsible for the attack in Benghazi. The most extensive and intensive war-crime of the past decade, a veritable laboratory of imperialist meddling and destruction, was eclipsed by the moment a u.s.-supplied, rocket-propelled grenade slammed into the EVE-Online rig of some bald, shitty dragon tattoo-having, colonialism enthusiast, internet sex pervert, turning his likely equally terrible colleagues into human paste in the process of incinerating a small Amerikan embassy. And people were so upset by this they continued to haunt Clinton through demon-spawning, child-sex-dungeon, pizza parlor conspiracies. There isn’t anything profound about this; it’s just funny. Because it’s a fucking joke.)
In my time, both the PSL and WWP conspired to crack down on a concerted attempt to unofficially bridge the gap between their respective rank-and-file members, who have always thought their basic rift was incomprehensible and unnecessary. I thought this was a project of some potential, but this was interpreted as an intimidating move towards an actual merger. Both Marxist parties found some serious common ground in maintaining their arbitrary and unexplainable separation by intrigue. Everyone who played an active part in organizing that project was scrutinized and indicted in one way or another. When Gloria LaRiva laid down the fucking law in person, she also delivered the directive that put our organization on the PSL’s shitlist – to someone who had absolutely nothing to do with us.
This ensemble of stupidity, self-sabotage masquerading as pragmatism, is worth a thousand embarrassing Maoist theatrics in its absolute fucking worthlessness and insolence towards the movement and their own membership. While I can cringe at bad propaganda, a decapitated pig’s head menacingly nailed to the entrance of an otherwise innocent public library is nothing compared to the untold possibilities of untapped potential and wasted opportunities that aren’t just obvious, but generally benign. It’s like watching a hundred thousand dollars in quantifiable political capital going up in flames. Like, what the fuck are they thinking, and who the fuck do they think they are. In the last analysis, this more or less comprises the scope and potential of the parties’ entire operations – and I can certainly conclude that it’s all stagnant and incapable of fulfilling even short-term strategic goals.
I’ll leave the parties at this: the only two positives I gained throughout. First, I have the local branch chair to thank for loaning me those books that turned me into a Maoist, after local and National decided I was a Maoist. Then, one time a former militant Black nationalist, recently relocated to the south from a big city – at heart still a soldier for the Nation – sadly confided in me that he really thought New Afrika had no longer had any material basis as a nation and the revolutionary potential of the colonized and oppressed nations was steadily being overtaken by the angry, white working-class kids he found himself surrounded by. This was a weird, remarkable exchange that I still think about every now and then.
Lacking any kind of capacity to even discover the totalistic challenges of attaining an identity, acquiring political power, and exercising a hegemonic influence of and for the proletariat in coming class struggles, the parties are giving way to an alternative that – in theory – is deliberately contrived to resolve these issues systematically. The alternative didn’t need to be the Maoist party, by any means, but the Maoist party, insofar as it exists, already matches the absolute size of at least one of the big parties and aggressively asserts its status as the alternative, in spite of everything. Sensitive souls, the weak of heart, and completely valid victims of internet-induced anxiety issues all clamored about the early Red Guards’ intrusive recruitment tactics. They had set up a botnet to cruise social media sites for new recruits and spit out automated, private messages when certain keywords had been tripped, which was reasonably misconstrued as targeted harassment.
Beyond my two official liaisons (one of whom was encouraging and fun to hang out with; the other is now facing overblown federal charges and evidently needs to be freed), I managed to trip three different Maoist bots on three separate occasions. As I was told, I urgently need to sweep away all revisionist lies and join the Red Guards in their concentric construction of the three instruments. While I don’t know the Maoist party quite as intimately as the Marxist parties, I’ve studied the development of the collectives very closely, “struggled” on questions of line, looked into myths and rumors, etc., and I’ve more or less grasped the primary sources of frustration, confusion, and outrage that plague the Marxist-Leninist left, as well as the non-RG Maoist collectives settled in the bigger coastal cities. Now, I turn to the enigmatic machinations of the third and highest stage of Marxism: Marxism-Leninism-Maoism – principally Maoism – in the u.$. of ameriKKKa.
While I’d contend that the Maoist party is by far the closest embodiment of a revolutionary-proletarian organization in the country, it’s obviously infantile in all its practical aspects and ideas. It’s infantile because it’s young, and the RG’s are generally younger, and certainly more energetic, than the common Marxist party stock. Its political strategy and tactics are undeniably bad and wrong, but these qualities haven’t become obstacles to their effectiveness. This political approach is an essentially destructive and alienating force, but only against their perceived enemies. Their propagandistic theatrics are ludicrous and grating to the vast majority of the organized “left,” but they’ve entertained and indulged groups to the left of themselves.
The RG’s rely on organizing those people to the left of them, and far to the left of the Marxist parties, as well as hitherto unorganized workers from the “grassroots” in their areas of influence. They leverage a collective command of their internal processes and an unwavering belief in their ideological line, up to and including its own adaptability, against a fundamental need for experimentation and transformation. This allows for a relative degree of freedom and flexibility in their pursuit of an uncompromising implementation of Protracted People’s War, a politico-military strategy specifically devised for semi-feudal, semi-colonial countries, and the construction of the New Power, which isn’t necessarily as awkward of a concept to deal with.
For the Maoists, the People’s War is already in its preparatory stages, undertaking the militarization of its cells and anticipating a formal declaration of war against the imperialist state with the collectives’ official merger into a national, Maoist Communist Party. First thing: this might seem silly but the militias of the New Right and the military have been pursuing similar strategies and counter-strategies, on and off, for the past two or three decades. Second one: the reason I haven’t examined long-term strategies until now is that the Marxist parties’ counterparts are basically just shitty, stick-people cartoons of the Storming of the Winter Palace scrawled on a couple of torn-up napkins. Lastly: the guiding, strategic vision of Protracted People’s War is more than just a daydream of hurling sticks of dynamite into police stations; it’s a systematic guideline to the development of a revolutionary organization that’s intended to inform strategic and tactical decisions at the lowest conceivable levels to the highest, at each developmental stage, until the seizure of political power.
Whether or not Protracted People’s War is “universally valid” is basically irrelevant; that it can be applied in more political than military contexts, or more military than political contexts, means it’s ultimately flexible enough to potentially transcend the conditions in which it was conceived. Sustained armed struggle in the imperialist nations might not even remotely resemble a “people’s war” after the necessary adaptations to the PPW theory, derived from an organization’s experiences and analyses. As the Communist Party of Peru explosively, then haltingly, demonstrated, Protracted People’s War might not even have its “protracted” character. In either case, Gonzalo once asserted that this strategy could be implemented even before acquiring arms to wage an actual war with.
In the early days of the Shining Path, Gonzalo himself demonstrated how the same grating and seemingly incomprehensible theatrics that the Maoist party employs today were a necessary prologue to successful politico-military leadership. The aggressive and disconcerting propaganda tactics of the nascent Communist Party of Peru against the Apristas and the revisionist parties in Ayacucho weren’t insane directives from an intensely weird man, though both the center-left and the hard left were convinced that was the case; they were the initial rehearsals of what would later typify Gonzalo’s unique, politico-military leadership – staging political actions as military operations, emphasizing political leadership in command of military actions. The Maoist party, as collective body, understands with a degree of historical certainty that its political actions are the primary aspect of its military approach; with that degree of historical certainty comes a level of predictability from its political opponents. These political actions might have value as propaganda but that isn’t their real worth, which is measured more in terms of practical experience from the rank-and-file to the leadership.
The Maoist party is a totalizing entity and its broad strategic tasks include revolutions in the cultural and psychological fields, buttressed by the construction of a new, parallel state-formations in its base areas. The theory of the New Power expands on Lenin’s “dual power” by insisting on the development of a new, embryonic state concomitant to the advances of the Protracted People’s War; rather than a temporal equilibrium between two warring class dictatorships, the New Power is a continuous revolutionary dictatorship established in base areas conquered from a decrepit state machine. By design, this theory betrays a very schematic and territorial mentality, because it was conceived and applied in conjunction with extremely fucking violent revolutionary warfare. The Maoist party, like Gonzalo, innovates these politico-military theories into, principally, political activities in order to lay the ground for future military developments.
The blocky and regimented suburban sprawls that the RG’s typically work in can easily be reduced from the county level, to the district level, and, finally, the neighborhood level. It’s easy to commit this physical terrain to memory, and relatively intuitive to track areas of influence, social issues, class compositions, etc., on a mental map. I mentioned earlier how the RG’s own propaganda served as a quantitative measure of power and influence in their respective areas of work. Their adaptation of the New Power has been scaled properly to the terrain, social investigation, data collection, and their experiences; this is an educational activity. Areas of influence, rather than base areas, are won on a small scale first by clearing the place of fascists, then by establishing political hegemony by any means necessary, and maintaining this hegemony primarily through force. This process presides over both the expansion of their political footholds and the practical exercise of necessary war games. Critics of this phenomenon typically accuse the Maoist party of engaging in “turf wars,” and they’re right; but not because this is inconsistent with the party’s ideas or revolutionary political practice in general.
One useful perspective that the Maoist party offers its members is the basic observation that the organized “left” isn’t made of the “masses.” They are outliers who hold no significant position within the political realm, and they typically don’t build political power, they submit to it. Once their moralism and sentimental allegiances are disregarded, there’s nothing that can stop a supposedly marginalized force from conducting necessary political work or rising to prominence. However, the cheap veneer of mystique that the RG’s try to enshroud themselves in, from time to time, reeks of a need to impress. Their internet-tough-guy bullshit is only more infuriating when it actually manages to work. I get the impression that they feel way more clever than they deserve for conjuring their propagandistic antics and needlessly trying to twist their self-mythology to intimidate assholes, and I’m getting so old that I’m sick of even experiencing these things vicariously. It’s all just symptomatic of their infantilism – their rambunctious and irritating horseshit.
The crucial thing for the Maoist party, if it manages to defy another year with its existence, is self-consciousness. They ought to keep in mind that the party isn’t a vehicle for their glorification, but an instrument to drag them down into the pavement, deeper and deeper, until they break from their romantic illusions and face reality in a truly pitiless way, in order to bring their ideal into a qualitatively new one. The party is gaining a reputation for doing everything wrong the right way, and their basis in the dessicated, soulless suburbs of the Rust Belt and the Bible Belt puts them in key positions to open up new political possibilities, stress-test their theories and preconceptions, and experiment with the construction of new institutions. Contrary to the rumors they're all white, middle-class students, the RG’s seem to be drawn primarily from these places: the deindustrialized, poor, neglected, drug-ridden, fume-choked, blank fucking suburban boneyards. They ought to recognize themselves in it, and realize they’re poor and blank too. This may seem a bad thing, but in reality it is a good thing. Poverty gives rise to the desire for changes the desire for action and the desire for revolution. On a blank sheet of paper free from any mark, the freshest and most beautiful characters can be written; the freshest and most beautiful pictures can be painted.
When does a Greek tragedy turn into a Roman farce? How do psychosocial traumas and pathologies interpenetrate political and ideological contradictions? What’s the difference between an open-palm slap in the face and a live hand grenade? Where does the Narodnik meet the Nihilist? The final answers to these burning questions and more in, WHY THE ACTING CHAIRMAN REPLACED HIS BMW’S DRIVER-SIDE WINDOW.
Edited by red_dread ()
EDIT: speaking of, are there any good posts on the 'zone about the NCM?
i think your summation of the Red Guards style formations are spot on, and this comes from someone who does 0 actual real-life organizing but has read about Chairman Gonzalo's disciples organizing tenants unions in california and getting super pissed off at the DSA for social club "feed the homeless" stuff in a neighborhood that doesn't really suffer from malnutrition or something, but insanely high rent. they reportedly run successful tenants unions and tested to see if they were good recruitment for cadres. i just had the sense that there was some self-actualization going on that you don't see with the PSL or WWP.
EDIT: speaking of, are there any good posts on the 'zone about the NCM?
there's more self-actualization going on in them than the PSL/WWP, imo. the main thing with the red guards is that gonzalo thought is like their training wheels and it has to come off at some point in order for them to mature politically. gonzalo thought is useful for literally carving out the political power and terrain that makes up base areas but it's the fucking worst at making sure the generated organisms of the party turn into new, functional social institutions for the masses.
i personally don't give a shit about the violence or their anti-revisionist posturing as long as their political line and practice is effective at organizing people and setting the groundwork for new, generated social organisms, until new problems start popping up.
bhpn doesnt come around much anymore
Edit: ironically iirc its because hes gotten active in his local psl chapter
Unfortunately I didn't survive a self-criticism session and had a mutual breakup with the PSL. I just don't feel like posting very often and I have no desire to badmouth the PSL/WWP who I believe are decent organizations with hardworking people. Sure they have a lot of problems and are ultimately trot parties despite attracting Marxist-Leninists (and the higher up you get the less room there is for Marxism-Leninism), but many shitty parties have become good parties through the process of revolutionary upsurge (or even stumbled into revolution) while many brilliant thinkers and disciplined parties couldn't make a revolution. They have no chance of becoming mass revolutionary parties of course but this is a kind of political fiction which serves both sides: North Korea is happy to have 10 people who claim to be the communist party of America to show around while the PSL etc. are happy to represent something so important to an entire nation. The union work and election stuff is basically reformist and tails the democrats and DSA but I don't expect a revolution in the United States so it doesn't really bother me.
People learned the wrong lesson from the comintern and the dependence of Western communist parties on the USSR: rather than holding them back or preventing them from making a revolution, it's now clear that without the USSR they were hollow shells with no revolutionary base. But those hollow shells had a lot of political power and made many things possible even if we all lied and said they would make a revolution in the west. Earlier the OP was talking about the sudden popularity of "Dengism" but I would be far more interested to see what that would actually look like, so far it's just a substitution of the USSR for China and purposefully avoiding what is fundamentally new (and problematic) about China today. The RGA who don't even have to be infiltrated by the FBI since they serve its purposes (though they probably are) are much more scary than some "revisionists" who force social democrats to confront their dependence on imperialism. For all my criticisms and the bluster about the PSL's impotence, they were the only ones showing up to defend Venezuela and they were the ones Maduro was speaking to. That kind of dependence on the third world for legitimacy is not something to be ashamed of, it's the seed of genuine internationalist, anti-imperialist organizing for the future instead of acting like neoliberalism has turned Detroit into Bangladesh. As for "inter-imperialist conflict" or Chinese "state capitalism" I have no interest.
i don't understand what the point is of any of this if you aren't interested in developing a mass social base that can actually intervene on the questions you're talking about. what value do international diplomatic efforts actually have if you're resigned to them being a purely rhetorical gesture devoid of any capacity to actually lend material support in either direction. if anything this is overtly parasitic of internationally revolutionary efforts since you're exploiting a dearth of support simply to lend some rhetorical veneer of legitimacy.
the revolutionary optimism of the psl/wwp might be naive but surely that's infinitely preferable to this tailist social democracy with a thin anti-imperialist dress, one that would be self-consciously devoid of any actual material implications.
I think that's mostly complete gibberish and seeing as you're pretty emphatically declaring that this "solidarity" will be devoid of any organisational responsibility there's no reason to participate in any party at all.
I did not say there won't be organizational responsibility. I'm saying this organization won't be bound to the idea that first world socialist revolution is possible or that it is even desirable. The Marxist-Leninist party model works fine since it's founded on a few self-evident organizational principles. But the whole Syria debacle showed that old principles of solidarity have reactionary character considering the red guards being praised in this thread were literally the vanguard of American imperialist occupation. I would think such episodes would cause self reflection, if the Red Guards weren't obviously police.
your grand proposal for a modern politics is ineffectual tailing of the democrats and dsa while seeking diplomatic contacts that carry with them absolutely no organisational or material obligation, reducing all international solidarity to empty rhetorical posturing. i don't think you have any reason to consider yourself a Communist at this point. This is where abandoning Maoism leads you...
Where did I say anything about tailing the DSA/Democrats? That was where I split with the PSL since it's completely useless and fundamentally contradicts anti-imperialism. I think you've confused my endorsement of the PSL's accidental anti-imperialism with actually endorsing their basically trotskyist politics. International solidarity now is empty posturing since the only org that even bothers does it out of self-hatred for formerly deformed worker's states. Maoists are still recycling 70s polemics against Cuba, I've seen nothing else at at organizational level (this is about the orgs we're discussing, third world maoist orgs are obviously their own beast but even they no longer pretend to care about western groups).
Where did I say anything about tailing the DSA/Democrats? That was where I split with the PSL since it's completely useless and fundamentally contradicts anti-imperialism. I think you've confused my endorsement of the PSL's accidental anti-imperialism with actually endorsing their basically trotskyist politics.
You directly stated that the social democratic tailism is fine considering the presence of anti-imperialist rhetoric. I think it's clear that you're arguing this as the best possible case, and your posts have absolutely no implications for how political action can be conducted on these questions in a materially effective way besides such rhetorical posturing and meaningless liaisons
you can't turn around and express that these approaches fundamentally contradict anti-imperialism considering you explicitly declared that it doesn't bother you and doesn't have a material consequence considering the impossibility of revolution in the first place. It's either consequential or it isn't
It doesn't bother me because it's harmless.
again, this is my point - fundamentally contradicting anti-imperialist organisational principles can't be harmful from your perspective because you've effectively relegated any fruitful anti-imperialist organisation to a purely rhetorical level. if you deny the capacity for mass social organisation then no party has anything to offer in practical terms to address these questions
Though there are better ways to support imperialism as well. Are these low stakes the best we can do? Considering North Korea had relations with some crazy people in the woods a decade ago because there was no one else we're actually doing ok on international solidarity these days.
again, if your international solidarity denies the possibility of mass social organisation then it's simply parasitic on international revolutionary efforts for a veneer of political respectability
I also think your reduction of g_s's very careful and nuanced take to simply siding with imperialism or whatever is stupid and detestable
all effective political action depends on the maintenance of a mass social base.
if this is strictly true then there can be no effective political action in the west at all. but i am not such a pessimist and i think you're just exaggerating.
Petrol posted:blinkandwheeze posted:
all effective political action depends on the maintenance of a mass social base.
if this is strictly true then there can be no effective political action in the west at all. but i am not such a pessimist and i think you're just exaggerating.
this is the most fundamental and central principle of marxism-leninism. the communist party exists to lead and develop the consciousness of the masses, this is its most essential and necessary attribute. the mobilisation of a mass social base is how its power is articulated. i don't understand how you can consider yourself even in the proximity of communist politics if you deny this most fundamental principle.
further you're obviously smuggling your own pessimism here in denying that a mass social base can be built. we all understand the obstacles offered by the settlerist labour aristocracy but there exists immense potential for the development of mass social base in the oppressed nations and national minorities, refugees, undocumented & seasonal workers, the incarcerated and otherwise detained, etc.
with the development of these sectors to the task of revolutionary leadership i think it's possible to form broader mass social bases with the integration of the labour aristocratic and petit-bourgeois currents as well. the marxist-leninist tradition has never denied the potential of these social bases in developing revolutionary consciousness, it has just identified their laboured and delayed capacity of doing so
Edited by blinkandwheeze ()
hm i don't really know what you're talking about then. i don't really know what tactics or interventions exist that wouldn't be served better under the rubric of an organised party or its mass organs
Honestly i'm just trying to justify my own position which is to do good works and support comrades without actually joining an org. I'm not cut out to be part of a vanguard. I'm just some guy, yknow?
This is why I like red_dread's class analysis of the younger white members of these parties. They're not typical "settlers" in the Mythology of the White Proletariat way. The social and maybe, moral problems, of imperial core society eat away at them. I fall into the description of a new PSL member myself (lol) and my family didn't really have a good time in the 60s and 70s. If the "working class" in America is either too busy trying to throw its first punches while it begs for the gravy train again, why shouldn't we do our own analysis of anti-imperial strata? Could it be that some of these rotting off labor aristocracy could be led into some sort of anti-empire movement? I've been interested in these questions and they require some sort of social investigation, looking at demographic changes, etc.
Red Guards Rhizzone
i remember certain revolutionary groups in the late 60's freaked out when the NLF started to support the efforts of anti-war, bourgeois liberals in the states, which seemed to subordinate the vietnamese communist party's revolutionary status, and its apparent ability to bestow an international standing onto certain groups, to the demands of strategic pragmatism. the same happened when the communist working circle split from the CPC when they declared that revolution was nigh in europe during '68, since they believed that their relationship to the party in china was, to a certain extent, reciprocal. today, you get the same thing with maoists who flail in frustration and confusion over the CPP-NDF-NPA's inclusion of revisionist parties in its international coalition fronts. internationalism is often uneven, and sometimes one-sided, because the leading elements in exploited nations have achieved independence on their own terms, which enables them to devise their own political and diplomatic prerogatives in an international context; the oppressor nations haven't, so they can't contrive their way onto equal, and potentially reciprocal, political footing with the former in spite of their presumptions.
the real first-world chauvinist blindspot is self-reliance. just as you have these parties indulging ideas of global value redistribution, reparations, and decolonization, their fundamental lack of direction betrays their inability to develop or realize those ideas. their political strategies don't even account for proletarian revolution or national liberation in any concrete way, along any kind of mature analysis. even if they don't explicitly concede that first-world revolution is a contradiction in terms then it's still evidently complementary to that idea.
in any case, more radical "third-worldist" designs are just disingenuous fantasies in this context. analyzing and expanding the social basis of anti-imperialism from within; building real proletarian-internationalist culture through new creative institutions; developing and spreading a practical awareness of how/where imperialism can be assaulted; etc., could potentially resolve those issues, but this process would have to proceed from and rely on the centrality of our own society and its particular contradictions. generally, that's just the point of origin for any self-conscious, social-political organism.
anyway, imperialism isn't reducible to a political arithmetic like "global class war," and opposing imperialism is a question encompassing various social, political, historical, cultural, and military components. i think the complexities of that question are better appreciated by the veterans of the semi-clandestine, armed struggle movement than any appendage of the settler-communist parties, but i guess i'll get into that in my last section.
edit, followup, whatever: fwiw (not much i guess) i think that considering how to organize mass-scale material solidarity between proletarians in the core and the periphery is probably the most practically meaningful question for amerikan communists to address, since it seems like that's really the only way to develop a coherent guiding organizational principle.
Edited by c_man ()
exactly the same fantasies of practicing ppw in the amerikan southwest that crow alluded to in the other thread (ironically, bnw made quite a show of claiming were views not actually held by anyone here)
the post explicitly disavows the fantastical revolutionary protagonism of the RGA. the value that's being presented of the universality of PPW is purely to do with the development of the concept by the PCP as a strategic approach that is directly applicable to political organisational questions and the development of a mass social base areas, not simply a narrow forwarding of military tactics. this is a relevance of the thesis i also defend, and it's clearly completely different from the schematic and adventurist proposition held by the RGA and their ilk. i think it's clearly the latter that you and Mr. Crow are suggesting is being forwarded here.
for what it's worth i've never said anything positive about anyone associated with the RGA in my life.
let a hundred schools of thought contend imo
every time i read or hear this, this "auzzie classic" now plays in my head