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Sunday, August 05, 2018

​How much criticism of Stalin does it take to turn a Maoist into a Trotskyist?

By សតិវ អតុ
It is a bad sign when someone labels an article like this one:

"On the right opportunist revisionist and liquidationist theory of J. Moufawad Paul."
 My photo
The article is labelled: “Maoism”[1] From Below," on the publication called Struggle-Sessions The authors, Kavga and Anatoli K. could have just as easily accused him of eating human babies and practicing sorcery.
Some of the arguments against JMP include criticism of Stalinism[2]:

"Moufawad-Paul however in both his attacks on Stalin and his insistence on the “mass party” (see, The Criticism of Mortals) flattens out the unity of opposites, in his distortion; no aspect of a contradiction is principle and dominant. Democracy and centralism stop being a unity of opposites and start being two equals which co-exist peacefully without struggle. He is, in short, gutting the essence of the Party. He is making an error in dialectical materialism far worse than that of Stalin. Without this internal contradiction democratic centralism ceases to function, by falsely smoothing over this contradiction he has eliminated the leading role of the Party. One no longer divides into two; for Mouawad-Paul, two becomes one."

 And splitting hairs over Maoist views on democratic centralism, such as:

"An argument quite similar to that of Moufawad-Paul’s was presented by Leon Trotsky[3] himself in regard to “inter-party democracy” which was his way of framing his revisionist-liquidationist politics. In practice Trotsky and his camp were extremely centralized, and the subsequent Trotskyite movement was always centered on Trotsky the person. Nonetheless due to this ideological maneuver and rattling of “democracy” as equal to centralism or dominant over centralism, demands for “socialism from below” became the dog whistle of many Trotskyites and remains so to this day. Dressed in some Mao-speak, Moufawad-Paul has made a new-return, not to the principles foundational to Leninism but in the form of a distorted “Maoism” from below. This is evidenced by his false equalizing of the democracy and centralism, quantity and quality contradictions etc., a major issue we will continue addressing throughout the piece.
To make matters even more muddy, Moufawad-Paul claims that the false flattening of contradictions in the form of equalizing democracy and centralism—which is in reality the subordination of centralism to democracy, i.e. liquidationism — is a genuine contribution of Chairman Mao! This argument however is absent in the major works and thought of Maoists. It was made abundantly clear by those who synthesized it that MLM[4] was not in any way a diffusion of centralism."

No matter what anyone believes and no matter whether these criticisms are legitimate or not, JMP is not writing revisionism, liquidationism or Trotskyism. It is simply a difference of opinion.
Many Maoist have had strong criticism of Stalin for many years. Mao seemed to favour Stalin as a kind of role model leader and yet Mao developed extremely different methods of leadership from Stalin. Their leadership styles are clearly different. Therefore there is no reason that a modern Maoist can't disagree with Stalin and some of his policies. Criticism of Stalin from Maoists have gone from almost non-existence to severe criticism. Almost all Maoist recognize the importance of Stalin from a historical sense, but there are plenty of Maoists who recognize the differences in technique that developed from the two leaders over time. To label a Maoist a liquidationist or revisionist for criticizing Stalin just doesn't make sense.
There are some positions nearly all Maoist agree on; such as that Stalin's "Socialism in one Country," was superior to the Trotsky idea of "Permanent Revolution." Even if a Maoist was to hesitate on the is position, that is hardly liquidationism. If a Maoist such as JMP were to call Stalin a traitor to the working class, the party, the country and communism, that might be worthy of such condemnation. But that is not what he is saying. No Maoist would agree with that. Opposition to Trotskyism is almost a universal position for Maoists. But there are some areas of disagreement that many Maoist feel appropriate, such as collectivization of agriculture, the cult of personality, vanguard party of communist revolution, allegedly using state violence and the purge trials of alleged inter-party supporters of the bourgeoisie. As in Wikipedia, their article on Stalin also alleges that there was a totalitarian state. On the left we all know that " totalitarian state" was a propaganda term created in the west and it has no place in a leftists debate. Trotskyists tend to argue that there is no communist, Marxist or socialist value to Stalin at all. They usually imply that Stalin is just a fascist or even an anti-communist. JMP never makes such a claim.    
I for one have questioned whether the trials of party members, such as Nikolai Bukharin[5]
and their executions were really necessary. That is not to say that I agree with Bukharin and his ideas, nor do I agree with many of the ideas of Staliln's political opponents. But there is a difference between expelling someone from the party and executing them. Wrong does not warrant executions.
As noticed in the first example: "He is making an error in dialectical materialism far worse than that of Stalin. Without this internal contradiction democratic centralism ceases to function, by falsely smoothing over this contradiction he has eliminated the leading role of the Party."

I think that the role of the party changes over time, or it evolves. We don't throw out all the functions of a party. But the role of leadership does change. The Chilean MIR and the New People's Army have changed how the party leadership conducts business. The Chilean MIR had avoided complete annihilation due to attempts to keep a backup of party leaders. By avoiding a single cult of personality, the Philippine Maoists were able to avoid the kind of set back that the Communist Party of Peru (AKA Shining Path) endured when President Gonzalo was captured.[6]
So the main point of all of this is that JMP is not guilty of any of these accusations. We can debate his positions, but he is not an opportunist revisionist, liquidationist or a Trotskyist. He has some differences of opinion of Comrade Stalin and we can debate his opinions- "Yea or Nay! "
That is my point on this issue. I may have more to say about him later.

[1] Maoism, supporters of Mao Zedong (泽东).
[2] Stalinism, supporters of Joseph Stalin (Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин/ იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე სტალინი).
[3] Leon Trotsky, (Лев Дави́дович Тро́цкий).
[4] Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin/(Владимир Ильич Ленин) and Mao.
[5] Никола́й Буха́рин. 
[6] See: An article was posted at that site, Maoism as Anti-Eurocentrism, by Redzeal, pointing out that some of the anti-Maoist opinions of Western Marxists are rooted in Eurocentrism. The reaction to this on the site was predictable. For example:
 “Problematic analysis.
Mixes humanism with radical agency perfunctorily, collapses post enlightenment developments in Europe (Hegel, Marx, etc) into imperialist history too simplistically in its critique of European history and the capitalist class developments of the "core"......
“The only ones who can counter Eurocentrism is the European working class.....”(Really! No need to combat Eurocentrism? If this isn’t Eurocentrism I don’t know what is.)

And then there is this plain and ridiculous comment:

“The author either is ignorant of, or lying about, the anti-Eurocentrism of the early Comintern and its continuation by Trotskyists. What's more I find it hard to take seriously an analysis which upholds Maoism as anti-Eurocentrist when Mao demanded that a billion Chinese act like idiots and worship him as an infallible deity. Plus, how anti-Eurocentric was Mao's betrayal of third world revolutions when it conflicted with his diplomatic goals?”

And some earlier comments said it all:

“I don’t consider Maoism to be Marxist.”

“Mao was not a Marxist and China is just another state capitalist excuse for being commie.”

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Campaign Against State Repression On Rights Activists

From Harsh Thakor
The protest programme at Parliament Street in Delhi by Campaign Against State Repression on Rights Activists saw the participation of over four thousand people from Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and all other parts of the country. The programme was presided by Professor G Haragopal. Justice BG Kolse Patil, D Raja, Manorajan Mohanty, Arundhati Roy, Dharamvir Gandhi, S Vanchinathan and others addressed the gathering. The programme began with cultural performances from Praja Kala Mandali from Andhra and Telangana, and cultural organizations from Punjab and Haryana.
Setting the stage for the programme, Prof. Haragopal laid out the purpose of the programme and welcomed the gathering. Advocate S Vanchinathan, the lawyer who was fighting for the release of residents of Thoothkudi who subsequently found himself jailed under draconian and colonial laws like the Goondas Act, spoke of the struggles of the people of Tamil Nadu. He reminded the gathering that the struggle against Sterlite in Thoothkudi has strong similarities with the struggle of Maruti Suzuki workers in Haryana. In both cases, the government in power did everything in its capacity to protect the interests of the corporations over the people of this country. He said, the TN police under the instructions of Sterlite-Vedanta Company imposed a ban on internet, created a condition of fear and ordered the firing on the people of Thoothkudi. After the targeted shooting of TN Commandos was released, the BJP government along with the Intelligence Bureau started claiming that the protests were a Naxalite conspiracy. He stated that the current government, the BJP, is doing everything in its power to invent enemies to justify its actions. Justice BG Kolse Patil reminded us that we must remember that we have evidence of the crimes of former CM of Gujarat Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in light of the 2002 Gujarat massacre of Muslims. Justice Patil said, two classes of people exist in India – the struggling people of the country and the parasitic class who live on the labour of the struggling masses. The people who neither believe in democracy nor the Constitution are sitting in Parliament today and what we face today is an unprecedented case of an undeclared Emergency. He warned against the Brahmanical nature of the state that is crippling all the democratic institutions, including the education system, by negating the collective intelligence of the country. This, he felt, is something we should strongly oppose while we strive for a world without repression.
Dharamvir Gandhi, independent MP in Rajya Sabha, remarked that the struggle for the rights of dalits, adivasis, Muslims and all marginalised communities need to be fought both inside the Parliament and outside it. And, he reiterated the need for all democratic forces across the country to fight against state repression and fascism expanding all over the country. Writer Arundhati Roy spoke of the breaking of two locks in the early 90s, the locks of Babri Masjid and the end to the restraints on exploitative global capital. She felt that we need to understand both capitalism and casteism in order to understand the nature of the state as both work hand in hand. The arrests of Prof. GN Saibaba, Rona Wilson and Advocate Surendra Gadling reveals that anyone amongst us could be arrested next by this exceedingly vindictive state; a state that is ready to let the country burn in order to retain control in the 2019 elections. She called the BJP the Bharat Jalao Party that spreads the politics of hatred and urged everyone to unite in the face of this hatred. Kavita Srivastava of PUCL raised the threat to all democratic institutions and activists in the lead up to the 2019 elections. As democratic state institutions collapse under the weight, journalists are constantly threatened by the police, and activists thrown behind bars under UAPA and other draconian laws. She asked for the repeal of UAPA, a draconian law which has progressively been made more draconian through amendments in 2008 and 2012.
Vinay Ratan Singh from the Bhim Army spoke of the continued incarceration of Chandrasekhar for challenging caste oppression. The government has set the silence of the Bhim Army against atrocities and caste-based oppression as the price for Chandrasekar’s release. On 2 April 2018, those protesting against the government were killed, arrested, and their families continue to struggle, without food. Bhim army will continue to raise their voice against caste oppression, through education, of this and the next generation. D Raja, member of Parliament, reminded the people that the constitution was enshrined to protect the people of the country but instead, under the current regime, it is being dismantled and abused and most importantly subverted to serve the ends of those in power. He challenged the BJP and the Sangh Parivar about the history of this country particularly highlighting their history in being hand in glove with the colonial state. He called the effort to build a Hindu Rashtra an attempt to establish fascism and destroy democracy. He condemned state repression, be it in the form of name-calling to outright violence, on the people fighting to save democracy in the country.
Baby Turi from Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan, Jharkhand, challenged the continuing persecution, false arrests and cases against adivasis involved in Pathalgarhi, challenging the escalated grab of land and forests. She demanded the repeal of UAPA. Prashant Bhushan also shed light on the trend of arresting those who are facing repression, such as Muslims, Christians, Dalits, Adivasis, and those raising their voices against the repression, while the perpetrators of violence and atrocities are not even investigated. This he found was visible in the case of Stan Swamy and 10 other activists being charged with sedition in Jharkhand. Surendra Gadling, representing GN Saibaba in the false case under UAPA, is arrested under UAPA. In Thoothkudi, those protesting against Sterlite are shot and killed, those leading the movement arrested. The BJP government is looting the country, while their promises of bringing a strong Lokpal, targeting black money and corruption, are all forgotten. Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi are allowed to flee the country under Modi’s watch. The attack on the people of this country as visible in Assam with the NRC is another effort by the current government to establish a Hindu state favourable to its ends. Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty reminded all that while oppressed groups have been fighting injustice but there are two new dimensions to the current regime: one, relentless repression by army and paramilitary forces, and two, mob lynchings. This is done in the name of ‘national security’. This national security is nothing but security for corporate and capital. We are fighting for the security of peoples. During the Emergency, we fought for civil liberties and democratic rights, but those are not sufficient anymore. The fight needs to be strengthened through unity.
Rinchin from WSS also brought to the fore the two issues of repression on women and the loot of land. She found that capitalism and patriarchy stood firmly on the ground established by a repressive state, a state that runs roughshod over the constitutional rights of adivasis as in the case of the Pathalgadi movement in Jharkhand and the assaults on women by CRPF in Bastar. She reminded that someone like Mahesh Raut who had been working for the rights of gram sabhas as enshrined in the constitution in Gadchiroli has been incarcerated and declared anti-national. She asked where are the voices of the women who have been raped, and then forcefully held under the custody by the state. She asked the gathering to resolve to fight against both capitalist loot and the patriarchal system that exists to crush the people of the country. Sujato Bhadra spoke of the Bhangar movement and the effort to crush it as indicative of the various forms of repression visible in the country today. Rajeev Yadav of Rihai Manch said that these arrests are a warning to the people that anyone who will speak will be jailed and today’s protest is an indication that people will not be threatened this way. Aparna of IFTU spoke about the banning of trade unions like MSS in Jharkhand and how the state is afraid of workers organisations that are reminding the people about the struggles of workers all the way from the Russian revolution to now. The struggle for Podu land in Telangana where the government is running JCBs on land of the people and filing cases against those speaking against it is indicative of the anti-people nature of the government. She said that we must remember that two people from amongst us, Professor GN Saibaba and Rona Wilson, are now behind bars for speaking against the loot of land and for the release of political prisoners while right wing perpetrators of violence like Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide roam free.
Buta Singh of Association for Democratic Rights talked about party controlled media trial that is on–going all over the country. Sawarnjit Singh, Tapas Chakrabarty, Prof. Laxman and Kranti Chaitanya all spoke of the need to unite in the face of repression. Parvez Ahmad spoke of how today is a gathering of people of all shades but what is common is our struggle against fascism and how people like Gauri Lankesh, Gadling and Chandrasekhar and all spoke about justice and now they are silenced. All participants reiterated the need to fight against the murder of constitutional rights and the need to unite and fight against all forms of state repression. The programme culminated with revolutionary songs in various languages by groups from all over the country.

Friday, August 03, 2018


Salute historic protest at Parliament street in Delhi today. Around 2000 people thronged to the venue with the anti-fascist spirit burning in their hearts. Inspite of such fascist repression the people displayed heroic defiance .A day that will be remembered for always in the annals of anti -fascist protest in India. It was a true thorn in the flesh of the ruling classes. Speakers participated from all rungs if life on a huge range of issues be it black laws as, Adivasis, Dalits, Muslim minorities, trade unions, economic crisis etc. What was heartening was the unity of such diverse trends prevalent. Significantly even a member of Parliament spoke. The rally proved the potential of the masses to resist the ascendancy of fascism. The rally speakers represented the voice of the Indian people as a whole. The venue literally resembled an Ocean. Majority of participation was from Telengana, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab. Few came from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra etc. I deeply appreciated the content of the short speeches which in a most concise manner summed up the fascist nature of arrest of political prisoners ,suppression of people's movements and black laws. What is positive is that they vividly covered every aspect of state repression with most concrete day to day examples. Arundahati Roy was her usual self and in a poetic style described the ruthless marginalization of the Adivasis, dalits and Muslims. Very striking words by professor Manoranjan Mohanty that inspite of facing oppression more than the emergency of 1975 the preparation of democratic forces compared to what it was then is negligible. He summed up how Saffron Fascism was more pernicious than any type before and transcended every walk of life. Sandhya of Peoples Organization for women narrated how the basic necessities like land, food and water were denied to the tribals and how every economic policy of the state was corporate. Lawyer Bhushan elaborated how any democrat resisting repression was dubbed an urban 'Maoist. Very articulate speech by Kranti Chaitanya on the oppression of Adivasis and P Raja on how the constitution is literally being destroyed. Raja,a leader of C.P.I, spoke about aspect of Maoism being irrelevant and what had to be brought to light was the fascism of Modi and the anti-poor govt.policies. Kranti Chaitanya spoke about how 97% of people arested under UPA in Punjab were proved innocent ultimately. Also vivid description by Laxman of CLC Telengana on how Telengana democratic front activists were most unlawfully arrested. Parvez of Progressive Front of India described the oppression the Muslim minorities faced by the ban on the group. Aparna of IFTU spoke about the repression of podu cultivating farmers and Adivasis in Telengana region and the workers in coal mines. She also condemned the ban and arrest of leaders of Mazdoor sanghatana Samiti. The event is an inspiration for the Al Indian people as a whole and has Lit a spark that can turn into a prairie fire.
Arguably there were weaknesses like very few people from the urban working class or toiling peasantry. Also not sufficient participation from other section of the Revolutionary camp in India like Class Struggle, Communist League of India and Red Star groups. However the numbers exceeded the expectation being 1500 instead of expected 100. Considering the onslaught of the ruling classes on the broad masses it was a considerable achievement. This trend should continue in major places all over the nation and integrate more of the basic classes.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

India- Maoists attempting to regroup in Bengal

India has been a steady source of good news for Maoists world-wide. In other parts of the world major mistakes have been made, in such countries as Peru and Nepal. But in India, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has remained a steadfast and persistent foe of world imperialism, both US, Europe and under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi Regime. Constant attempts to destroy the guerrillas, such as Operation Green Hunt, have failed. Nothing could be better news than such reports as this one:
- សតិវ អតុ

From ZeeNews:
KOLKATA: After about six years of peace in West Bengal’s Jangalmahal since the death of Maoist leader Mallojula Koteswara Rao also known as Kishenji, the spectre of Maoists seems to have come back to haunt the administration, as they are attempting to regroup in this region.
Officers in central intelligence agencies said that activities of the armed squad led by state secretary Akash have recently increased in the villages along Bengal-Jharkhand border in the districts of Jhargram and Purulia in West Bengal. 
This squad, which comprises between 12 and 15 guerrillas, was based in the forests of Jharkhand over the past five years but was spotted along the Bengal-bordering villages of Jharkhand several times over the past couple of months. 
R R Bhatnagar, the DG of CRPF, recently confirmed this news during his visit to Kolkata to attend a meeting with the ADGs, DIGs and IGs of the state that falls within the central zone. 
“Yes, there are reports of Maoists regrouping in Jhargram, which still falls under the worse affected districts,” Bhatnagar when asked by DNA/ZEE NEWS on the preparedness to take on the Maoists head-on in Jhargram.  
Until recently, Bengal had four districts listed as worse affected by Left-wing Extremism. However, due to the past five-six year’s peace in this forested belt of southwestern West Bengal, only the district of Jhargram is now listed as LWE affected. 
Significantly, these renewed Maoist activities come at a time the districts of Jhargram and Purulia are heading for political turmoil with the ruling party, Trinamool Congress, starting to lose its grip. 
It was evident from the results of the recently-held rural polls that resentment against Trinamool Congress is growing among the people of Jhargram and Purulia, where people at some places supported BJP and independent tribal outfits at some other places to defeat the ruling party leaders. 
A senior police officer said that it was a similar period of political turmoil in the last 1990s that helped Maoists gain a foothold in West Bengal. During 2010-11, Maoists led by Kishanji had wrested control of significant parts of the districts of Jhargram, Purulia, West Midnapore and Bankura. However, the Maoists’ organisation broke down virtually overnight after the death of Kishanji. 

For the rest of the story click here.

Maoists attempting to regroup in Bengal

Saturday, July 28, 2018

US- Mao and Stalin greet us from Lindsborg, Kansas

By Steve Otto
My friends from Spain, Mark Davis and Pedro Esbrit, along with my wife Cam Gentry and I, have been travelling around our home state of Kansas (except Pedro who has never lived here) viewing the sites and small towns. We went to the town of in Lindsborg, KS, which is a small Swedish community. We stopped for lunch at the Swedish Crown Restaurant, on the main street of that town. While we were having lunch I noticed they have small carved statues of famous people, such as past US presidents and famous foreign leaders such as Charles de Gaulle, Mao Zedong (毛泽东) and Joseph Stalin (Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин/ იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე სტალინი).

This photo of Lindsborg, with the restaurant, was taken by Mark Davis. 

I was quite surprised to see Mao and Stalin. Kansas, as a whole, is a very conservative and reactionary state. There are only a handful of Marxist-Leninists, such as myself, in the whole state.[1]
No matter why the owners of the restaurant chose to have Mao and Stalin in their display case, it was refreshing to see those two leaders among those carved. I just had to take some pictures.

I also took some pictures of Kansas wildlife. Kansas may be conservative, but the state dose have some remarkable natural resources for those who take the time to admire them.
Here is a picture of a lizard I took. It is a skink. 

We saw plenty of bison, or buffalo, at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge.
Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature
This photo was taken by Mark Davis. 

[1] With the possible exception of Lawrence, KS which is a medium sized college town, known for being a pocket of leftism.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Party as a Process- Marxist-Leninist-Maoist reflections


When it comes to the proposition of the revolutionary vanguard party, the anti-capitalist left falls into two general camps: those who reject the entire notion, and those who believe it is still a worthwhile concept.  Within these two camps there are significant variations, but it important to note that the concept itself is divisive.

The first camp is further divided between those who think that the entire notion of a party vanguard was worthless to begin with, and those who possess a slightly more nuanced view and who might argue, to a greater or lesser degree, for the historically embedded worth of the concept.  So we have a group that might be broadly defined as anarchist who, in my opinion, promote an improper definition of "vanguard": rather than trying to wrap their minds around the idea of an "advanced guard", they simply and inaccurately define it as "authoritarianism" (once I made a bad joke about this) and sometimes, due to this conflation of vanguardism with authoritarianism, are unable to accept that their own practice may often demonstrate those attributes they assign to vanguardism.  Then there is the group that could possibly be called autonomist marxist that argues for a more historically nuanced understanding of the theory of party vanguard––it was an attempt to operationalize marxism that failed, and this operationalization might have even been the reason it failed––without necessarily dismissing the gains made by actually existing and failed socialisms.  And finally there is a broad movementist group of leftists who, without necessarily dismissing these past and vanguardist attempts at socialism, are broadly defined by the search for some new theory of the vanguard that is not, for whatever reason, the same as a revolutionary party.

The second camp, despite its willingness to accept the notion, is also divided according to various fault-lines.  First, there is the most obvious controversy over ideology: if one of the key characteristics of a revolutionary vanguard party is a unifying revolutionary theory, then competing marxist articulations result in competing bids for the party vanguard.  Secondly, there is the problem of timing: when is a party founded, when is it right to initiate a revolutionary party, and maybe there are points in time, in given social contexts, where we should work on party-building and coalitions rather than declaring the emergence of a party.  Thirdly, there is the problem of function and constitution: just what does a party mean, in a given historical point and time, and how does it function––what goals does it pursue, how does it develop, how can it constitute itself in revolutionary manner that learns from both the successes and mistakes of the past.  Finally, there is sometimes the problem that only revisionist or extremely dogmatic party formations exist in one's social context––but this is circumstantial, and a problem that precedes the other problems, so I'm less concerned with it here.

In this post I'm also generally unconcerned with the first camp because, at various points in the history of this blog, I have argued for the importance of a revolutionary party (either to uphold the successes of the revolutionary seizure of power or to argue for my support of involving oneself in a revolutionary party process), just as I have discussed my anarchist past.  Suffice to say, I find casual dismissals of the revolutionary party vanguard rather annoying––especially when these dismissals are premised on inaccurately defining "vanguard" as "authoritarian" rather than trying to work one's way through the theoretical and historical importance of the concept, originally found in Marx and Engels, of the "advanced guard" [or "avante garde"].  This infantile and knee-jerk reaction brings nothing to the debate, demonstrates a refusal to recognize history, and is just downright offensive.  And it is extremely offensive to observe such dismissals, as I recently did in reddit, prefaced by claims about how Lenin "obviously misread Marx" followed by a winky-face, period, end of argument.  Please: do yourself a favour and educate yourself on what Marx, Engels, and Lenin actually wrote about the concept before lapsing into your most-probably petty bourgeois understanding of world history and theory.

Here, I'm concerned with the second camp––the communists who already consider the concept of the vanguard as something worth pursuing––and the fault-lines that keep this camp fragmented.  And because I consider the people in this camp to be, in some ways, people with an advanced revolutionary consciousness, I'm interested in thinking through the problems that keep them from moving towards a broader revolutionary unity.  Ideology, timing, function and constitution: these are fissures that prevent unity, some of them fundamentally important and some of them little more than excuses.

The problem of ideology is a problem that, I'm sure most readers will agree, is both fundamental and important.  If a revolutionary party is defined first and foremost by a unity of theory and ideology, then disparate ideologies are a point of unifying debate.  I have already argued for what ideological foundation is necessary in this context, so I won't do so further here.  But I have also argued that potential parties can and should line struggle amongst the masses and that if a party's membership is composed of people who care more for revolution than dogma, then its membership will be willing to shift its communist ideology towards whatever "competing" communist group is bringing us closer to revolution (but not, to qualify, closer to capitalist reform).  Later in this post, I hope to explain how a proper understanding of a revolutionary party will operationalize this potential problem of ideology, but for the moment I will move away from this fault-line that could fill (and has already filled) innumerable posts.

But I want to argue here that the fault-lines of time, function and constitution, though important, are often secondary fractures that sometimes exist because we want to make excuses for our unwillingness to practice what we accept in theory.  And I am arguing this because of my own personal experience, because I've made similar arguments, so I know how this gap between theory and practice is fostered and justified.

At various points throughout this blog I've argued against the wrong-headed belief that it is "not the proper time" to involve oneself with a revolutionary party, let alone attempt to build a party in the first place.  And those who argue that the time for a vanguard isn't now, and who will argue instead for the primacy of reform or movementist based struggles (for political projects, Draperite "socialism from below", trade-unionism, lowest-common-denominator economism), will never be able to explain precisely when it is correct to involve oneself in a revolutionary party.  At most they will argue that the "objective circumstances" aren't right (which is dubious), but to this claim we must ask: if the subjective circumstances (i.e. the existence of a revolutionary party embedded in the masses) don't exist by the time the objective circumstances are right, how the hell are we going to organize a revolution?  Whatever the case, as I've argued at numerous points, pushing the necessity and existence of a party into a distant and unknown horizon is an excuse for those who claim to believe in the concept of the vanguard to avoid revolutionary politics.  For once imagines that the time isn't right, it will never be right.

By now I have become extremely exhausted by people I know and count as comrades, who are very good organizers, who will tell me that, on the one hand, they believe in the existence and need for a revolutionary party, but on the other hand demonstrate that they do not think it is time to involve themselves in such a party.  Their energy is being sucked up in other activist pursuits, in reformist coalitions and trade unions, and they feel that their time can only be spent on these immediate and economists projects––not that there isn't a need for a revolutionary party to intervene in these spaces (there is), but those who believe in the primacy of a revolutionary party should be getting out of these spaces so that they can intervene from a revolutionary position.

Then there is the fact that some people who believe in the theoretical importance of a party will never agree that it is time to join one because they find the practice embarrassing.  At the centres of capitalism, after all, the whole party vanguard thing is treated as antiquated by a left that is primarily defined by members of the petty-bourgeoisie.  The moment you start talking about involving yourself in a party, whatever this party might be, you're suddenly part of that group of people––and no one wants to be like a member of the Spartacist League (except the small group of religious-minded people who are Sparts) who shows up at demonstrations (that s/he didn't help organize because s/he thinks everyone else in the left is a fool) to sell papers, yell at other people and call it an argument, and generally be a giant asshole.  And though it is rather embarrassing to be like one of these people, why does a party have to look like that type of party?  And why, if we do believe that the theory of the party vanguard is correct and the only way to make revolution, should fear of embarrassment keep us from pursuing revolution?

As for the problem of function and constitution: this produces important questions about a party's existence and development, but these are questions that can only be fully answered within a party's process––in the process of its construction, in the process of its development––and when they are used as an excuse for disavowing party participation, they will remain in order to produce an eternal excuse. A revolutionary party, after all, is not a completed institution but something that is always in movement, always changing: it will be determined by concrete circumstances and its engagement with the masses, by the groups of people it draws in and their contributions, just as it will be politically determined by the dynamic of internal line struggles.  To imagine that a perfect and complete theory of a party can be drafted after a long process of discussion and study is a myth: the holy grail of the perfect party does not exist because completed perfection does not exist––there is no party composed and run by Hegelian pure souls.

Indeed, as the comrade I accompanied to Chicago for the Platypus conference the other weekend pointed out, a revolutionary party is always a process and to imagine it any other way is theoretically unsound.  And when we start to think of the party as a dynamic process that is always open to the future, the aforementioned fault-lines are necessarily taken into account.  A party process is one that accounts for time because the party develops over time.  It should account for function and constitution because, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, a healthy party will have a process that is attempting to learn and grow through continuous self-criticism and constitution.  Finally, and most importantly, when we think of the party as a process we should be able to deal with ideological division.

During the early period of a party's existence, a party that understands itself as a process is also one that conceives of itself as a potential vanguard.  That is, it is a party pursuing a politics of the advanced guard but will only become an actual vanguard when it proves itself at the revolutionary moment of strategic defensive––when it emerges as the prime force challenging the bourgeois state and other forces are demonstrably lagging behind.  Even at this stage it might fail to complete its aims, its moment of being the vanguard might disintegrate.

So maybe it is better to have multiple potential vanguards, as long as they are willing to engage in principled line struggle and agree to liquidate themselves within the ranks of those parties moving closer to revolution––especially into the ranks of those parties that have become actual vanguards.  In this process of multiple line struggle, ideological differences that only exist because different groups feel that their ideology will produce revolution might be solved.  True, there will be those dogmatic sects whose members will never admit that they are wrong even if the world is being shaken around them–-but these sects were never even potential vanguards in the first place, no matter how hard they want to believe they are leading the revolution.  But only the party that initiates the revolution and carries it through to the seizure of power will be justified as the vanguard in the crucible of class struggle… and those parties that, even at this point, would claim otherwise––they are lagging behind, are already proven to be dogmatic and sectarian, and are even perhaps moving towards what will become the camp of counter-revolution.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Why The Thai Cave Rescue Story Drew Such Attention Compared To Other Crises and Events

For weeks we have seen every detail of the lives of those 12 boys who were rescued from that cave in Thailand. It was a remarkable story. It was a story with a happy ending. It was newsworthy. But where the minute by minute details and day long coverage really worth it?
In the last several years our mainstream news media seem to look for "heroes" they can honour for various acts of courage under siege, whether related to weather, terrorism, or just plain old crime. It's as if our capitalist system has a deficit of heroes to worship and our mainstream news media is looking to fix that situation. We Marxist have real heroes who have helped revolutions or have defended the working class. We don't need cops for that and we don't need to make heroes out of defenders of imperialism. 
There are children in trouble all over the world. There are refugees, children who go hungry, children who live in deep poverty or other man-made, and capitalist-made forms of injustice. These children's stories could easily make good and important news stories. Also, the coach who took these children into a cave right before the rainy season, did something very stupid and yet he gets made into a hero. Our capitalist system lacks heroes because this system promotes "everyone for themselves" and outright selfishness. US culture doesn't encourage people to put society before themselves.
The following story looks into the hype related to the kids in the cave story. This story asks a lot of good questions that a lot of journalists should have been asking.

From NPR:
Like millions of global citizens, Abraham Leno has been riveted by the story of the 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave in Thailand.
"I sat around the radio with my family and we wanted to hear the recent updates of the kids, every little detail," he says. "To see all the governments sending their best divers, giving them equipment, offering their moral support — it was a beautiful thing to see."

But Leno has another perspective. As a youth, he spent ten years in refugee camps in Guinea. Now working at the American Refugee Committee, he wishes that the media had paid more attention to his plight and his fellow refugees: "It would have shed a better light to create the understanding necessary to help us."
Others share his concerns. Manyang Reath Kher became a Lost Boy at age 3 and later founded the charity Humanity Helping Sudan. He says, "I don't want to sound horrible to those kids [in the cave], but the attention they got, it should be spread around. Give that to other children, too."
The aid community is grappling with that issue as well. While they all stress that they were deeply moved by the story of the boys in Thailand, they raise a point: Can the world bring the same level of care and resources to other children living in crisis? More than half a million Rohingya children live in camps in Bangladesh, for example, and 800 children die of malaria each day.

There are, of course, reasons why the cave story is so riveting.

For the rest click here. 

Story by
Rohingya children carrying firewood into the Kutupalong camp in 
Bangladesh. Refugees have stripped almost all the area 
vegetation to use in cooking fires.
Allison Joyce for NPR

On the Maoist Principle of Great Leadership

Harsh Thakor shared Struggle Sessions's post to the group: For genuine Maoism:

Great Leadership – or what the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) refers to as Jefatura (in English it translates to Great Leadership) – is Communist leadership. We must be ready, armed with the entire arsenal of proletarian theory, especially in the U.S. as the horizon of the coming PPW approaches.
Great Leadership is an integral part of Marxism, because it is a component of proletarian revolution, and its Communist Parties. It is the natural outcome of Democratic Centralism, as it will be explained further on. Great Leadership is not what the revisionists and bourgeois scholars would have you believe, the tyranny of a demigod over a helpless and ignorant majority.
In the following I hope to lay out more on what Great Leadership is and what it isn’t and how it develops and why it must be embraced and defended as part of Maoism, and of course Marxism.
 Jefatura is Great Leadership – it is not “a cult of personality”
In 1956, just three years after the death of the Great Leader and Defeater of Nazism, Stalin[1]., at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Khrushchev devoted a long, babbling and rabid attack on Marxism under the guise of exposing the supposed “cult of the person of Stalin[1].” The international bourgeoisie was beside itself with glee and satisfaction at the end of his speech. So much so that it has become a permanent part of World History as the accepted anti-communist narrative of the errors of socialism.
In the speech, Khrushchev sneakily made a false dichotomy between the masses making history versus Great Leadership making history – and attempted to cite Lenin as proof. But Maoists understand this better. The masses make history. But the Vanguard Party guides the masses to build Communism. And who is at the helm of the Vanguard other than Great Leadership? It is disgraceful but not unsurprising that arch-revisionists would attempt in resurrecting Lenin and propping him up as something that he never was or prying his dead mouth open and forcing him to mouth things he never said.
Communist leadership never dispenses, and must never dispense, with two things: 1.) that revolution is only made through the people, principally the proletariat, and 2.) Communist leadership means mastering Marxism and leading the masses through revolution and in building socialism and Communism.
Khrushchev and all revisionists and the more honest capitalists (who don’t pretend to call themselves Marxists) ignore the second point. They are not bothered by Communist leadership because they are not Communist! But also because Communist leadership is in direct opposition to their red-bourgeois ideology. It is a constant threat to their comfortable, parasitic existence within or outside of the Party.
Today’s revisionists are like mini-Khrushchevs. They pretend to be Communists. They quote all the correct quotes by Marx, Engels, Lenin, and even Mao, Stalin and Gonzalo. But they quickly interject a stupid apology for the supposed shortcomings of the latter three. They say things like, “They were mostly correct but if only there weren’t cult of personalities around them, they would have achieved more” or “their downfall was their cult of personality and the inability to be held accountable to the Party and the masses” or the best one that “they were above the Party” as if they were a fucking cloud.
But Great Leadership is only Great Leadership because they understand the two criteria for themselves. Without the Party or the masses they would cease to exist. They are not only held accountable to the highest degree by both the Party and the masses, they are banished to a position of complete servitude to the revolution and condemnation to building Communism above all else. Great Leadership, in this way, transcends the individual and becomes an embodiment of the application of proletarian ideology to a specific time and place, i.e. country.
The Peruvians perhaps have done the best job in defending Great Leadership. But communists, at least in the U.S., need a better understanding of the concept.
Great Leadership, like any universal principal, exists everywhere at all times, in all contexts, without anyone’s acknowledgement or defense. Therefore, it is evident throughout history.
You don’t have to like it; it cares not what you think; it just is.

Great Leadership as an extension of Democratic Centralism
All revolutions guided by the Party, which is hierarchal due to Democratic Centralism, are guided by revolutionary authority. It has to be this way in order to wield revolutionary violence. You can’t wage warfare by not prioritizing centralism.
In “The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War,” [2] Mao defines Democratic Centralism as containing four integral articles:
(1) the individual is subordinate to the organization;
(2) the minority is subordinate to the majority;
(3) the lower level is subordinate to the higher level; and
(4) the entire membership is subordinate to the Central Committee.
But the pyramidal hierarchy of structure of Democratic Centralism does not stop at the Central Committee but has individuals in positions of heavy responsibility and authority as chair people, official leadership. This is not in contradiction to Mao’s four parts of the discipline of Democratic Centralism; it is part of the structure of the Central Committee. They exist within the Party and its structure, and not above it as the anti-communist revisionists allege. Those who argue differently either are ignorant or have an underhanded agenda of undermining Marxist, specifically Maoism, for their own gains – which whether they are aware of it or not, comes through the vehicle of postmodernism’s concept of liquidating leadership and diffusing political power.
What Great Leadership is not is a mindless following of an omnipresent demigod who controls his followers – as the revisionists and bourgeoisie would have us believe. These enemies of revolution need us and the masses to believe this desperate lie in order to discredit and hopefully kill the revolution. Or in our case in the U.S., to kill the revolution’s germination.But as Chairman Gonzalo himself says it in his interview with El Diario in 1988,[3] Jefatura is the necessary component and formal appearance of and within PPW:
A leader is someone who occupies a certain position, whereas a top leader and Great Leadership [Jefatura], as we understand it, represent the acknowledgment of Party and revolutionary authority acquired and proven in the course of arduous struggle–those who in theory and practice have shown they are capable of leading and guiding us toward victory and the attainment of the ideals of our class. 
Hierarchy is a necessary component of the militarized Maoist Communist Party because it instills the discipline of subordinating oneself to the higher militarized command of revolutionary leadership and revolution itself. Authority is another indispensable component because of its constant conditioning and training of communists as people’s soldiers and proletarian administrators, all in preparation to seize power and establish proletarian democracy and exert authority over the bourgeoisie through the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. This is the Centralism in Democratic Centralism, which is generally principal in the Party as its mission is the political-military conquest of power through PPW. The militarization of the Party, which is also the militarization of the masses, cannot exist without the concept of Great Leadership.
Enemies of Marxism, and principally Maoism, would dispense with Great Leadership in the hopes of making Communism more appealing to leftist activists and the petite-bourgeoisie of the masses. They begin entirely from the wrong premise that there is a desire or need to resuscitate the image of Communism as something less frightening and simply mistakenly understood. That what it really means is only democracy and egalitarianism/humanism. They start from the philosophical place of self-appointed savior of revolutionary Marxism and the great apologists of proletarian revolutions of history. For them, the more they denounce the “cult of personality” the closer they get to mass-acceptance and therefore revolution. It is not coincidental that these same revisionists attack Stalin or the supposed “downfall” of Chairman Mao and Gonzalo – that if only they hadn’t been placed above the Party that their revolutions would have succeeded.
Great Leadership is the manifestation of the guiding thought of the specific ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism, as it develops exclusively in revolution. There exists no revolution, nor has there ever, without a central figure at its head. From the native resistance movements in the times of early colonization of the Americas – Geronimo, Tetabiate, Cajeme, Cuauhtémoc, Popé, Túpac Amaru, Hatuey, etc. – to the contemporary Marxist revolutions of the 20th and 21st centuries, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Mazumdar, Gonzalo, Kaypakkaya. Even the leaders of revolutions or revolutionary movements who betrayed the masses, like Prachanda in Nepal, or Avakian in the US, exist as proof of the universality of Great Leadership but in the latter two cases as the inevitable rise of leadership which fails without the mastery of proletarian ideology.
Great Leadership is the informal and formal assignment and undertaking of revolution. It is not an undemocratic coup in the Party or an egocentric ploy to exercise hyper-individualism.
Formally, Chairman Gonzalo was elected chairman democratically by the democratic bodies of the Party. Gonzalo Thought was adopted organically as he rose to Great Leadership through organized two-line struggle within the Party – beginning with defense against attacks on Mariategui early on in the Party, then by standing against Paredes and his “Patria Roja” fraction, against the fake and anti-Party “Bolsheviks” within the Party and finally in support of the Initiation of Armed Struggle in 1979-1980.
 Why is Great Leadership attacked?
The bourgeoisie attacks Great Leadership also for its suppose antagonistic contradictory nature between the individual leadership and the mass-based project of revolution and building communism. This is nothing more than anti-Communism masked as concerned critique. It is childish to try to argue, like some anarchists and liberals do, that having a single-head at the top of the revolutionary movement negates the principles of Communism. But Communism is not humanism or some ideology based on peace and love. It is a machine of hatred against the bourgeoisie. It is a highly-centralized and authoritative militarized body from generals to privates, the lower-body members subordinate to leadership, and both subordinate to the ideology of the proletariat and its specific application in PPW through a central figure as a guiding thought.
In Peru the masses and cadre talk about Chairman Gonzalo and the Party, not as something idealistic and heavenly, but as the components to the invincibility that is Maoism. In this, they have shed their bourgeois mortality for proletarian morality and the acceptance their historic condemnation, the march of history.
There is only history. The martyrs of the Peruvian PPW saw themselves as agents of Communism with no need for individuality; they were part of one body, one mind, one heart – extremities coming together for the sole purpose of the functionality of the whole body. The bourgeoisie and their self-appointed red lapdogs are disgusted and frightened at the sight of this amazing heroism. They are disgusted because it is an attack at their supposed need for individualism. They are frightened because they see it as unstoppable and infectious. The future belongs to communism and the masses, not capitalism and the supremacy of the petite-bourgeois individual. Great Leadership is not in contradiction to the collectivity and mass character of Communism, exactly as how the proletarian state is not in contradiction to the statelessness of Communism; they are both necessary steps in the road to Communism.
When the heroes of the Peruvian PPW pledged their loyalty to Chairman Gonzalo and the Party they did so not because of a strange bourgeois, pseudo-religious devotion to a God figure. They pledged their loyalty only to Maoism and revolution above all else, including and ultimately their own lives. What about this is bourgeois? It is heroically Communist, and part and parcel in the militarization of the Party and the masses. The People’s Army’s soldiers subordinate themselves to leadership not because they are leadership but because their specific leadership represents the proletariat’s ideology and their highest fighting organization. For some, it is not impossible to think of laying down their life for the Party and the revolution. And for that, they are correct but only partially. Give your life to the Party and the revolution, but also give your life while alive in subordination and revolutionary servitude to the guiding thought of the invincibility of Maoism and the revolution’s Great Leadership.
On June 19, 1986, more than 300[4] heroic guerrillas laid down their lives while in the Callao, Lurigancho and El Fronton prisons when the Peruvian state descended on them in frightened frenzy.  Without a doubt in their minds, these People’s Guerrilla Army soldiers, these guerrillas of Chairman Gonzalo, the Vanguard of the international proletariat, knew in their heart of hearts that they were not dying; They were being made immortal in serving the Peruvian masses, the international proletariat and worldwide revolution.
Can you imagine the scared faces of the state reactionaries as they threw cadre from helicopters when they without hesitation or fear yelled, “¡Viva El Presidente Gonzalo!”?
Chairman Gonzalo did not invent Great Leadership, but he did develop it and squarely placed it on the red banner of Maoism. He did not take a single step back and apologize or downplay his rise to leadership at the helm of the Peruvian PPW. Leaders rise to Great Leadership through the class struggle, including two-line struggle, and steeled in revolutionary practice and experience. There is no such thing as an inexperienced leader. All leaders are experienced. But Great Leaders unify the militarized Party around themselves and embody the revolution through correct navigation of two-line struggle.
As mentioned earlier, all revolutions and revolutionary movements have produced leaders. To deny this is to deny history.
Comrade Stalin understood this and defended the leadership of Lenin and his indispensable role as the main organizer and leader of the Russian Communist Party and the Soviet Union[5]:
In our time of proletarian revolution, when every Party slogan and every utterance of a leader is tested in action, the proletariat makes special demands of its leaders. History knows of proletarian leaders who were leaders in times of storm, practical leaders, self-sacrificing and courageous, but who were weak in theory. The names of such leaders are not soon forgotten by the masses. Such, for example, were Lassalle in Germany and Blanqui in France. But the movement as a whole cannot live on reminiscences alone: it must have a clear goal (a programme), and a firm line (tactics).
 There is another type of leader—peacetime leaders, who are strong in theory, but weak in matters of organization and practical work. Such leaders are popular only among an upper layer of the proletariat, and then only up to a certain time. When the epoch of revolution sets in, when practical revolutionary slogans are demanded of the leaders, the theoreticians quit the stage and give way to new men. Such, for example, were Plekhanov in Russia and Kautsky in Germany.
 To retain the post of leader of the proletarian revolution and of the proletarian party, one must combine strength in theory with experience in the practical organization of the proletarian movement. P. Axelrod, when he was a Marxist, wrote of Lenin that he “happily combines the experience of a good practical worker with a theoretical education and a broad political outlook” (see P. Axel-rod’s preface to Lenin’s pamphlet: The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats10). What Mr. Axelrod, the ideologist of “civilized” capitalism, would say now about Lenin is not difficult to guess. But we who know Lenin well and can judge matters objectively have no doubt that Lenin has fully retained this old quality. It is here, incidentally, that one must seek the reason why it is Lenin, and no one else, who is today the leader of the strongest and most steeled proletarian party in the world.
It is fitting that I end this with the boogeyman of Marxism – which still haunts the fascists who are creeping back into popularity, the revisionists and the bourgeoisie who never went away, all in 2018, a century after the heroic conquest of power by Lenin and the Bolsheviks. To be an organizer, a propagandist, a leader, a theoretician, and above all else a soldier – and in combination, a Communist – is not to usurp the power from the masses and ride above them disconnected from their goals, ideas and accountability. It is for the undying loyalty to the masses, the Party and its leadership.
As communists, we should all strive to give our lives to the Party and revolution.