Two articles – one composed by a former cadre now organizing with the so-called ‘Maoist Revolutionary Party’ and one published on the Struggle Sessions website – have recently advanced certain criticisms of the Organizing Committee for a Maoist Communist Party (MCP-OC) which demand response.
We will principally respond to the positions put forward by the Struggle Sessions editorial board in their article ‘A Single Will,’ not least because – surprising as they may find it – we tend to agree with their criticisms of the ‘line’ of the so-called Maoist Revolutionary Party (MRP); any criticisms we could offer in that regard would largely be redundant. We will only attend to the MRP piece insofar as it offers an incorrect rendering of the political line of the MCP-OC which needs to be rectified.
We would like to begin by offering the following consideration: in the last analysis, the difference between the line of the Central Committee of the MCP-OC – Marxism-Leninism-Maoism – and the line put forward by the Struggle Sessions editorial board – which can be broadly characterized as Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Gonzalo Thought – returns to the question of the so-called universality of protracted people’s war theory and its place in the revolutionary science which we call MLM. That question demands a more rigorous theoretical response; as such, we will be focusing here on instead only attempting to sketch out a response to the concerns raised in ‘A Single Will.’ A forthcoming article will deal with problem of protracted people’s war and its character within the core countries.
In brief, while the MCP-OC does uphold the universality of PPW, we maintain that it will take on a particular character informed by the political geography of the core countries. Thus, the primary distinctions between our application of MLM to the u.s.a. context and that of the Committee to Reconsitute the Communist Party, USA (the vanguard of Gonzalo Thought revisionism in the u.s.a.) result from their erroneous and dogmatic elevation of the concrete content of the people’s war in Peru to the level of universality. This is evidenced early in the article in question, whose authors elect to name Chairman Gonzalo among the great leaders of the Marxist tradition – namely, Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao.
The MCP-OC does not reject the important historical role played by Chairman Gonzalo in the synthesis of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism during the RIM phase of the global communist movement. That the scientific application of MLM to the Peruvian conditions generated a great deal of practical knowledge which should be applied by revolutionaries across the world in the fight to overthrow capitalism-imperialism should be clear as day; we have never denied that. What we instead would like to challenge is the claim to “universality” made in the formulation, “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism ‘Gonzalo Thought,” which seems to be an arbitrary designation. That is, we question the basis for the construction, “Gonzalo Thought.”
“Every creative application of MLM, leading to the successful development of a revolution (that is an application tested through practice), will surely give rise to a deeper grasp and insight of MLM. It will even contribute new concepts or ideas, which will enrich MLM. But it is not necessary (inevitable) that these contributions will represent a new ‘Thought’. It is even less necessary that they will represent a leap to a new stage, i.e., an all-round development of MLM.”Com. Ajith, in his refutation of the Avakianite Revisionists
It is certainly unclear to us which contributions of com. Gonzalo constitute a new ‘thought,’ any more or less than the contributions of coms. Ajith, Sison, &c. The contributions made by the revolutionaries of the RIM period contained and reflected the universality of Maoism as the qualitative new stage of the international communist movement, but this is a universality embedded in the particularity of their own national struggles. The universal character of the advancement and new stage of the ideology of the revolutionary movement – Maoism – is the product of a historically new rupture: the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It is to this concrete event that the name Maoism expresses its fidelity, just as Leninism refers us to October Revolution and Marxism to the Paris Commune. The defeated people’s war in Peru represented the creative application of MLM to the Peruvian conditions; this alone does not constitute a new ‘Thought,’ any more than the petulant hooliganism of our comrades in Austin might be called ‘Com. Dallas Thought’!
Or else, might we not call the theoretical contributions of, for example, the NDFP’s com. Sison ‘universal’? From the publications of the Gonzaloite camp, it would appear that com. Sison’s ideas are not universal simply because they are not of a kind with the work of Gonzalo; if our approach to making revolution is on the basis of ad hoc adherence to the writings of Gonzalo (rather than the creative application of MLM’s scientific analysis to the u.s.a. context), we are not Maoists, we are dogmatists!
A great deal of ink has already been spilled refuting the Gonzaloite theory of the universality of protracted people’s war, including writings from our comrades currently waging people’s war against the US-Duterte regime in the Philipines. While Comrade Belisario engages in subtle rightism with his emphasis on so-called ‘legal’ work within the imperialist countries as necessary preparation for the revolutionary situation (an error generally emerging from his dogmatic reliance on Lenin’s Left-wing Communism essay and to which we would offer a significant counterexample in the legacy of the practice of the Black Panther Party), he is otherwise correct in his appraisal of the Gonzaloite line of Tjen Folket; his criticisms just as neatly apply to the CRCPUSA. The nearly religious orthodoxy with which the Gonzaloite camp approach MLM – which is properly understood as a science for making revolution, rather than a readymade formula for making revolution – closes off their capacity for real struggle; their dogmatic “anti-revisionism” has transformed into dogmato-revisionism. As Mao reminds us, “…dogma is less useful than cow dung. One can make whatever one likes out of it, even revisionism.”
To be clear, while the MCP-OC rejects the basically dogmato-revisionist line of ‘Gonzalo Thought,’ we do not reject anti-revisionism as such – hardly! We do disagree, however, with the claim that revisionism “is the main enemy”; while it is certainly true in the last instance, it is obtuse and, indeed, reactionary, to claim that, in the absence of a revolutionary situation, revisionism is the main enemy of anything at all (rather than being nothing more than a toothless playact at making revolution). So far as we are aware, there is no living communist party which they might disrupt; indeed, at the current juncture, it is clear that the main enemies remain the bourgeois class dictatorship and the (very real) fascist/neofascist movement, which has claimed the consciousness of broad sections of the settler masses. Is there an objective contradiction between the real communist movement and the revisionists? Certainly – as Mao says, “every difference in men’s concepts should be regarded as reflecting an objective contradiction.” The more significant question for the current juncture is whether it is an active contradiction; it is clearly not.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to commit to and struggle for a specifically anti-revisionist line, both within our own political formations and in the context of united front work with existing mass organizations under the command of the revisionists; in this, we are in absolute agreement. A united front with revisionism in command is a short road to nowhere and indeed violates the very definition of united front work, which the Struggle Sessions editorial board correctly point out. However, the only way to unite the advanced – many of whom have been deceived by the promises made by revisionist formations – is to engage in principled struggle; a great deal of the rank-and-file, whether of reactionary unions or of social-fascist ‘socialist’ organizations, should be viewed as potential comrades and not out-and-out enemies. Drawing them into mass organizations through united fronts under communist command is the only route to demonstrating the correct anti-revisionist line.
Likewise, we are in agreement with the editors of Struggle Sessions that the title of ‘party’ is not one which is simply declared; the communist party is by its very definition the vanguard of the revolutionary working class. It can be nothing else; to pretend to that title without being the very crest of the tidal wave of the masses in struggle, to have their absolute trust in your leadership along the revolutionary road, is the basest form of petit-bourgeois vanity. The childlike impatience of the so-called ‘Maoist Revolutionary Party’ demonstrates their complete misunderstanding of the relationship between the party and the masses. This also goes for their qualification ‘Militarized’ communist party – we need only point to com. Belisario’s refutation of the Tjen Folket call for precisely the same thing:
Does a “militarized Communist Party” simply mean that the Party operates underground outside of base areas, and that Party members are encouraged to learn military work, e.g. be familiar with guns and work in tight teamwork with near-military discipline? But CPs that lead armed struggles are already expected to adopt such methods, yet have no need to enshrine it as a principle on the same level as the name “Communist Party” or “Bolshevized party” and the practice of democratic centralism.
If the term simply means that CPs cannot viably combine open and underground channels of work, legal and illegal methods, but must choose one or the other, to either be “militarized” or be guilty of “legalism”, then Kinera [author of the Tjen Folket piece] is an infantile brat whose coloring pens are limited to blacks and whites.
We recognize that, at the current juncture, our link with the masses hardly qualifies for the status of vanguard – the preparatory work with which we are currently engaged is a modest attempt at forging the relationships necessary for the reconsitution of a communist party within the so-called u.s.a. under Maoist command. This work remains the core of our program – service to the masses is the main path to revitalizing the communist movement and winning over the intermediate. The party of the proletariat – the communist party – can only emerge as vanguard if it is able to develop a unity of practice and an unshakeable relationship with the masses. We share an understanding of the character of the communist party – really the party of a new type – with com. Ajith, who succinctly describes the Maoist approach to the vanguard concept:
Taking lessons from the Chinese revolution and the international communist movement Mao elaborated a number of propositions on the party. One theme consistently stressed throughout is that of firmly building up the communist consciousness of serving the people, by checking attitudes of superiority in the relations between the party and the people, and leadership and ranks. This does not deny the role or importance of leadership. Mao was contradicting an outlook that absolutised leadership, and made the masses and ranks into disciples, passive instruments. He reminded communists that no matter how necessary cadres are, it is the masses that carry out things and therefore it wouldn’t do to exaggerate the role of cadres. (‘On the Maoist Party’).
It would be correct to accuse us of a certain economism in our approach – we have largely failed to transform our programs of mass work into real revolutionary organs. In this, it is absolutely right to identify a basically gradualist tendency in our work, one which it will take considerable rectification to correct. Our self-criticism on this point is also the source of our disagreement with com. Belisario’s assessment of the role of communists in the imperialist countries; overemphasis on ‘legal’ work can indeed lead to reformism and economism, as we have discovered after allowing that tendency to grow unchecked. Still, there is a key distinction between recognizing the necessity for both legal and underground work, and the tendency, represented by the MRP, toward infantile, militant posturing. It is clear from the criticism provided in the Struggle Sessions article that, rather than breaking with the self-same economism we are now seeking to correct, in splitting with us, MRP’s leadership has only intensified their error, while doubling down on an altogether empty ‘militancy.’
On the Charge of ‘Liquidation of Class Struggle’
Bracketing the question of people’s war and the dogmato-revisionism of the Gonzaloite camp, we see need to further sketch out the position of our Central Committee on the question of national liberation and the accusation that we have ‘liquidated’ class struggle.
This accusation has been levied on the basis of the basic principle put forward in our resolution on the National Question: that “the contradiction between oppressor/exploiting nations and oppressed/exploited nations remains the primary contradiction of our era of capitalist-imperialism.” What does this principle mean?
It is nothing other than a reformulation of the essential thesis of Lenin: Imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism. The development of capitalism to its most moribund and parasitic stage has already taken place; “capitalism has now singled out a handful of exceptionally rich and powerful states which plunder the whole world.” (Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism. Preface to the French and German editions). These are the exploiting nations, the imperialist core countries, largely euro-amerika, as well as the social imperialist countries, including revisionist China; the rest of the world, from Africa, Asia, Latin America, to the internal colonies in the u.s.a., canada, and australia, among others, are the exploited/oppressed nations.
Imperialism, of course, does not appear like a lightning bolt from a clear blue sky; it is the product of class struggle, is a process absolutely internal to capitalism itself. It has arranged the world in new ways, but only according to an already existing capitalist logic – thus, the contradiction ‘imperialist nation – colonized nation’ (expressed as ‘colonizer – colonized,’ which describes our political subjects: namely, class and nation) is motivated originarily by the determinant contradiction ‘relations of production – forces of production’ (expressed as ‘bourgeois – proletarian’). Com. Lenin thoroughly exposed the relationship between capitalist accumulation and imperialist expansion, “which emerged as the development and direct continuation of the fundamental characteristics of capitalism in general.”
To call the contradiction ‘colonizer – colonized’ the primarycontradiction of our era of capitalism-imperialism means exactly that, despite the determination in the last instance of all social phenomena by the capitalist mode of production (which should be properly understood as the general contradiction), the particular contradiction colonizer-colonized plays a dominant role in the determination of contemporary social formations. That is, while in the last instance we can say that the relationship between the colonizer nations and the colonized nations is determined by the bourgeois-proletarian contradiction, it has nevertheless been brought back around to bear on the mode of production from which it has emerged and modified that selfsame contradiction. It has become dominant, primary. We see concrete examples of this as early as the 19th century – on October 7, 1858, Engels wrote to Marx: “The English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie.”
As com. Althusser correctly demonstrates,
Of course, the basic [nb: general] contradiction dominating the period is active in all these ‘contradictions’ and even in their ‘fusion’. But, strictly speaking, it cannot be claimed that these contradictions and their fusion are merely the pure phenomena of the general contradiction. The ‘circumstances’ and ‘currents’ which achieve it are more than its phenomena pure and simple. They derive from the relations of production, which are, of course, one of the terms of the contradiction, but at the same time its conditions of existence; from the superstructures, instances which derive from it, but have their own consistency and effectivity from the international conjuncture itself, which intervenes as a determination with a specific role to play. (‘Contradiction and overdetermination,’ from For Marx)
To naively assert that, because the dialectical pair colonizer-colonized is, in the last instance, the expression of the general dialectical pair proletarian-bourgeois, we can, on the basis of some associative property, simply replace one for the other is an astonishingly undialectical position; by virtue of its place as the primary contradiction of our era, the colonizer-colonized contradiction cuts across class lines as the folding back of the bourgeois-proletarian contradiction onto itself. Hence, the working class within the imperialist nations – including the settler working class within the so-called u.s.a., which is qualitatively distinct from the black, brown and indigenous workers of the internal colonies – have come to be radically transformed by the effects of imperialism, becoming, in Engels’ words, a “bourgeois proletariat,” or labor aristocracy.
If dialectics is truly the unity of analysis and synthesis we must take seriously the complex character of social phenomena: “The concrete is concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse.” (Marx, Grundrisse). The colonizer-colonized contradiction is one such determination, and is indeed the primary determination in our contemporary epoch.
It is exactly in this complexity, which has the character of a rich totality of many determinations and relations, that all social phenomena must be apprehended. In the u.s.a. context, this principle equips our social analysis of the broader masses with the capacity for distinguishing friend from foe by adequately interrogating not only “pure” class lines, but also the modification of “pure” class interests by settler-colonial ideology, despite that ideology itself being originarily motivated by class struggle.
It is on this basis that we assert the capture of the broader fraction of the settler proletariat by petit-bourgeois ideology, principally by way of their constitution as a labor aristocracy. By settler proletariat, we refer not to the individual ‘racial’ character of an individual worker, but of the fraction of the working class defined by their relationship to the settler-colonial ideological state apparatus as “white,” ie the euro-amerikan demographic. It should be obvious that the petit-bourgeois ideology of the settler proletariat qua labor aristocracy is not self-determining; it is the product of the class struggle which lead to euro-amerikan imperialist ventures and the colonization of the world. Nevertheless, it has radically altered the trajectory of class struggle, not just in its displacement of crises in the core countries, but by altering the composition and allegiances of the working class itself.
Our resolution asserts, given the primary role of colonizer-colonized contradiction in the contemporary world situation, that the struggle for national liberation must be the primary force for the struggle against capitalism-imperialism and the world-spanning dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. This follows from the fact that the vanguard role afforded to the proletariat has itself been modified by the colonizer-colonized contradiction. Thus, within the settler-colonial u.s.a. context, because the working class has been shattered by the allegiance of broad sections of the settler proletariat to the maintnenace of the bourgeois dictatorship, we assert that the leading role has principally fallen to the indigenous, New Afrikan and Chicanx proletariat, whose struggles for national liberation are storm centers within the u.s.a. Only through a shift in allegiance, what com. Ignatiev called “treason to whiteness” but what should be better called treason to its own petit-bourgeois tendencies, can the settler proletariat discover again a place at the vanguard of the revolutionary masses.
Class struggle remains the only question of the day – the revolutionary place of the indigenous, New Afrikan and Chicanx proletariat is determined by their character as proletariat! The designation ‘colonized’ proletariat, and the determinant role of the colonizer-colonized contradiction, remains well and fully within the capitalist frame, and in the last analysis, it is only the proletariat as such which is capable of making all-the-way revolution.
The vanguard role of the colonized proletariat is established on the basis of the capitalist mode of production itself and within the limits it sets, despite being determined primarily by the colonizer-colonized contradiction.
The line of the MCP-OC remains that the proletariat alone is able to provide leadership to the real movement to destroy the present state of affairs; this follows from its objective social position, as the only class whose liberation depends upon the liberation of all of humanity.
This leading role is a historical potentiality, contained within the specific circumstances of a concrete social formation. It can be realized only through creative intervention in those historical circumstances.
The concrete conditions faced by communists in the so-called u.s.a. make clear the treasonous allegiance of broad fractions of the settler proletariat to the bourgeois dictatorship, an allegiance facilitated by the constitution of the settler proletariat as labor aristocracy. Meanwhile, the national liberation struggles of the internal colonies of the so-called u.s.a. clearly demonstrate the leading role of the colonized sections of the proletariat.
Unite with the forces of all the revolutionary masses under the bright red banner of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism! Annihilate the settler-colonial bourgeois dictatorship through protracted people’s war!
Our intervention and agitation is on the basis of this understanding.
All power to the revolutionary masses!
It is right to rebel against the reactionaries!
– Comrade Sabine, Central Committee of the Maoist Communist Party – OC