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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Avakian—worse than just a bad writer—he acts like a condescending savior

When it first came to my attention, while reading New Synthesis of Bob Avakian and concept of dissent by Harsh Thakor, who regularly contributes to the Kasama Project, I didn’t think much about this subject. But Harsh Thakor’s article and some comments I read at Kasama encouraged me to do some research on my own as to the role that Avakian played in the end days of the Revolutionary International Movement (RIM) and his treatment of third world Maoist parties in that alliance. Regardless of his writings, his treatment of other RIM members was rude and patronizing.
Harsh Thakor’s article was on parts of Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) USA Chairman Bob Avakian’s new synthesis; which is called COMMUNISM: THE BEGINNING OF A NEW STAGE A Manifesto from the
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
. Thakor praised parts of it: “Bob Avakian makes an important contribution in his analysis that dissent is required within a Socialist Society. This was valid as in USSR and even in China in the period of the Cultural Revolution, sufficient scope of debate or dissent was not promoted.” He also pointed out that some of it runs contrary to what many Maoists believe in today’s world. He included some comments and opinions from other Maoists, such as Ajith, the Secretary of the Communist Party India (Marxist Leninist)-Naxilbari.
Most amusing were some comments left by Avakian supporters/ fans, at Harsh Thakor’s article and on some other articles about Alain Badiou. At one point one of these Avakianists suggested we promote his new synthesis in Nepal to regenerate the revolution there.
I have not actually read very much of Avakian’s new synthesis, although I have read a lot of his writings over the years.  I began looking at comments and articles that have been written and posted on line, by other Maoist parties, commenting on Avakian and his latest works. What I found was disturbing, not merely because of his actual writings, but the accusations of several Maoist organizations, many of them past RIM members. They have accused him of using undemocratic methods to push his ideas into the RIM and excluding any real debate on them; trying to set himself up as a super cult of personality and contributing a great deal to the collapse of RIM. And that is not counting the complaints that he has almost completely abandoned Marxism-Leninism-Maoism for his new theories—which have led to the accusation that he is a revisionist.
I don’t really care if people read the new synthesis, but I think in the international arena, this new ideology is associated with the collapse of RIM and is a sore spot for a lot of 3rd world revolutionaries. It is also causing a sense of disunity.
It is Ironic that Avakian helped launch RIM. Even after its demise it has left behind some positive elements. Maoist parties around the world have been able to keep in touch, share information, draft and sign documents of solidarity and shore up moral for the smaller parties that may have otherwise felt isolated.  
Now the majority of former RIM members have condemned Avakian. It is not hard to imagine this considering that Avakian and his party have treated other 3rd world Maoist parties as if he is the “condescending savior”[i] and they are all in need of his patronizing leadership.
The following is from an article on the RIM written by Ajith, Secretary, Communist Party India (Marxist-Leninist) NAXALBARI;

In keeping with the proposed agenda two draft resolutions were prepared. Since contact with the PBSP was broken for a lengthy period these resolutions were prepared without their participation. But the finalised drafts could be reached to them. Just around the time when the Special Meeting was to be convened, the PBSP informed that it would not be participating due to logistical reasons. It was their opinion that “RCP’s New Synthesis has not been debated. Without much debate and analysis this type of line-question should not be settled”. Conveying news about a letter the RCP is writing to all RIM parties, they had in a separate communication….

At this point I skipped over to a letter about the introduction of the RCP’s new synthesis:

So this was the first time we heard about the RCP’s letter. Its timing was quite suspicious. For several years now the RCP has been publicly propagating that the ideas of its Chairman must be adopted by the international communist movement as its ideological basis.6 This amounts to liquidating the ideological foundations of the RIM.7 The very relevance of the international Marxist-Leninist-Maoist movement was being negated. The RCP had been continuously refusing to discharge the responsibilities assigned to it within the RIM. Hence it was quite obvious that the sudden inspiration to write to all RIM parties was a devious response to the SM, meant to derail or at the least delay it. That failed.
The RCP letter was finally sent out, deceitfully labelled “Not for Publication”; remember, this was coming from a party that had placed itself outside the ranks of the RIM in all senses! But any ploy, no matter how ludicrous, must be allowed its due share of time. Thgame of ‘adherence to norms’. That is how things stand with the RCP’s letter and its varying avatars. at is the one thing the RCP can’t spare. It is in a blind rush to impose its ideas, ‘everywhere and everywhen’. So, hardly two months later, the ‘internal’ letter went online, even at the risk of getting exposed in its misleading 

I found a similar complaint from the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan/ حزب كمونيست (مائوئيست) افغانستان:

A Response to the RCP-USA's May 1st 2012 Letter
The Revolutionary Communist Party - USA’s [RCP-USA] May 1st Letter (Letter to Participating Parties and Organizations of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement) is, after its new Constitution and Manifesto, the third most important party document regarding “Avakian’s New Synthesis.” Although this document was initially intended to be an internal letter addressing the members of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement [RIM], the RCP-USA reversed its earlier decision and published the letter publicly without a clear explanation. 
We believe this whole game of internally addressing only the participants of RIM was an unnecessary theatrical show from the very beginning. There is no reason to pursue an internal RIM discussion around issues that have been public for several years––issues that were made into a public matter first and foremost by the RCP-USA itself. 
The RCP-USA’s Manifesto (Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA) publicly broadcasted its new post-Marxist-Leninist-Maoist line in 2008 and thus not as a document for discussion and debate within the RIM. Then, in May 2009, this same document (as an appendix to a letter whose audience clearly was not only the members and participants of the RIM) was presented “to all the communist of the world.” It is worth mentioning that the RCP-USA’s new Constitution––the first post-Marxist-Leninist-Maoist document prior to its Manifesto––was also not an internal document.

So we see here two examples of parties feeling that the RCP,USA had deliberately tried to bypass the members of RIM with attempts to promote Avakian’s new synthesis.
There was also the argument that the RCP under Avakian tried to stifle speech:

We realized, however, the futility of keeping the debate internal after witnessing the open publication of the post-Marxist-Leninist-Maoist document of the central committee of the CPI(MLM), the RCP-USA’s continuous international efforts in propagating their post-MLM line, the harm inflicted by this line upon the existence and activities of the RIM, and finally, at the same time, the consolidation of this line within the RCP-USA that purged opposing views under the label of an “inner party cultural revolution.”

Another argument against Avakian and his RCP party was that he tired to create super personality cult within RIM. Again from the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan:

In one of our documents we have claimed that CPI(MLM) has fallen "on the lost road" of post-MLM and, in this context, wrote: 
The strategic direction of the post-Marxist-Leninist-Maoist line of the RCP-USA's new Manifesto and Constitution, and now the document of the central committee of the CPI(MLM) that names this line a 'new synthesis' is obviously clear. This 'new synthesis' is not a thought like 'Gonzalo Thought', a 'path' like 'Parachanda Path' or an 'ism' like 'Avakianism'––something that is the continuation and evolution of MLM––but it claims to be a total synthesis, meaning a fundamentally new post-MLM theoretical framework and ideological weapon. It is thus that we consider it a deep and wide deviationist line with a depth and breadth that is deeper and wider than the deviationist line of the Communist Party of Peru that emerged under the label of 'Gonzalo Thought'; it is much deeper and wider than the deviationist line of the Communist Party of Nepal that named itself “Prachanda Path.”

And these two parties are not the only ones disappointed with the direction of the direction of the RCP,USA under Avakian’s new synthesis. Here is an excerpt[ii] from an article from the blog of Red Sun - Communist Party of Ecuador, VIVA 120 ANIVERSARIO NATALICIO PRESIDENTE MAO TSE-TUNG:

.....But today, Prachanda Avakian and revisionists considered a historical mistake the Dictatorship of the Proletariat , deny it , the cornerstone of Marxism Leninism Maoism , and call to make amends with the stinking bourgeois theories on the "right to dissent " and " multi democracy or multiparty " consistent in giving the exploiting classes overthrown the right to organize and participate in the affairs of the state under socialism , call depose force - read overthrow the dictatorship of the proletariat - in socialism , erasing thus the existence classes and irreconcilable struggle in the period of transition to communism.

The article was signed by the following organizations:

Arab Maoists
Centre - Leninist - Maoist Marxiste (Belgique )
Red Sun - Communist Party of Ecuador
Communist Workers Union (MLM ) - ( Colombia ) !

Of these four groups, Communist Workers Union (MLM ) - ( Colombia ), was a member of RIM. Many organizations have worked with RIM without joining, so this statement shows the contempt from other parties as to Avakian’s deviations and apparent abandonment of MLM.

From the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan:

Contrary to the previous Leninist and Maoist ruptures and advances, however, the RCP-USA has removed the phrase Marxism-Leninism-Maoism from its Manifesto and Constitution.

So he arrogantly pushed his new synthesis on many Maoist parties of the 3rd world—many of which are used to having North American or European white folks (“the great white father,” “the condescending savior,” etc.) tell them what to think. Once again they were being asked to accept the dictates of such a person in their own anti-imperialist movements and asked to completely abandoning the one thing that held ALL the parties together. And that was a general acceptance of the MLM ideology.
I normally don’t like to trash other people’s heroes or beliefs. But Avakian has shown a grave disrespect for the people of MLM parties in other parts of the world, who like many of us here in the USA are among the minority but feel solidarity with those who struggle elsewhere. He may not be the only reason that RIM folded, but he did contribute in his own way. He has let Maoists in the third world down and that is worse than simply writing a piece of theory that is simply wrong.

-សតិវ អតុ

[i] This slogan was printed over “What Went Wrong with the Pol Pot Regime” on AWTW,

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