Merriam-Webster defines “abuse” as,
- a corrupt practice or custom (the buying of votes and other election abuses)
- improper or excessive use or treatment; misuse (drug abuse)
- language that condemns or vilifies usually unjustly, intemperately, and angrily (verbal abuse, a term of abuse)
- physical maltreatment (child abuse, sexual abuse) (Source 1)
For the purposes of this piece we will be dealing mainly with c., “language that condemns or vilifies usually unjustly…”, because that is where the most confusion lies today. It is too open to interpretation based on what is “unjust” and is not, and commonly labels anything angry as abusive. But rage is valuable in the hands of the oppressed and this is not the same as abuse. Also relevant is d., “physical maltreatment”, as there are some who in practice claim that any violent physical activity is abuse. This is untrue and reflects a liberal avoidance of violence.
Like everything in capitalist society, sources such as Merriam-Webster and the definitions they promote do not always reflect objective reality but often reflect the interests of the bourgeoisie. For example, an M-W editor’s note also reads, “Democracy is contrasted with communism primarily because the 20th-century communism of the U.S.S.R. was characterized by an authoritarian government, whereas the democracy of the 20th-century U.S. was characterized by a representative government.” (Source 2).
In reality, the “representative government” of the US is representative only of the bourgeoisie while the Communist Party is representative of the proletariat. For M-W to not mention class is to take the side of the bourgeoisie right off the bat. Even those sources we are taught to trust to be completely objective are influenced by the power of the bourgeoisie. This is not a conspiracy theory, as opponents of communism try to paint it, but a fact of class society.
Nothing in our world is safe from the influence of anticommunism. This includes even the accusation of “abuse” which today is often yielded for the purposes of anticommunism. Here we are not concerned primarily with the word itself, but the ideas and meaning behind it. True abuse is rarely if ever dealt with in capitalist society. Rapists run rampant, and the bourgeoisie abuses the masses through privatized healthcare, just to name a couple examples.
Our object is not to mechanically negate abuse as it certainly exists. “Abuse” has one meaning in capitalist society and corresponds with a specific set of ideas which are used to attack organized Communists who are not abusive. Because abuse is real, in socialist society and in the revolutionary movement along the way we will attempt to understand and develop its true meaning.
Bourgeois society values the needs of the individual over the needs of the whole and this is expressed in the way the superstructure defines “abuse” and a related term, “codependency”. We will go through what these are not as well as their genuine meanings. Related examples which we will not cover here are “gaslighting”, what is considered “healthy” and what is considered “toxic”. Today all these words and the accusations behind them are charged against Communists and in this context they reflect an extension of the bourgeoisie.
What abuse isn’t
The postmodernist conception of abuse, by identifying power as the root of all evil, frames anything seeking power as abusive. Specifically, “abuse”-jacketing, happens more and more the more power a group seeks. Foucault set the precedent for the postmodernist ideas related to discipline and power in “Discipline and Punish”. According to this work which examines the history of prisons, the state does not hold a monopoly on power, and strategy (not class) determines the power which underlies prisons (Source 3). Foucaultian ideas about the diffusion of power have come to greatly influence the false understanding of abuse today: in practice, abuse and power are viewed as almost synonymous. Just as power was viewed by Foucault not as concentrated (but diffuse), his modern followers see abuse not in a cohesive way but in a diffuse way.
In “Civil War In France” Marx wrote, “Thus with nations as with individuals. To deprive them of the power of offence, you must deprive them of the means of defence. You must not only garrote, but murder.” (Source 4) This is a necessary understanding to all of class struggle and war in general and explains the necessity for revolutionary proletarian violence. All murder cannot be abuse and violence less drastic than murder cannot all be abusive.
Take for example a liberal, who upon seeing a video of Richard Spencer getting punched by an antifascist, cries out that the far left is “abusive” in their methods. This liberal would seek to set themselves apart from this, embarrassed of the violence. They might be sure to organize “peace” marches, and when confronted with fascist violence, try to drown them out with chants rather than with counter-punches.
On the “left”, particularly between Communists and anarchists, there is some unity on the issue of violence against fascists. But that unity on the issue of violence is only temporary. This becomes clear when instead of between fascists and antifascists, the contradiction is between antifascists themselves. False “abuse” accusations often start because of bad liberal rejections of violence. One divides into two regarding violence here whether it be in relation to state power, security, or the handling of rapists. To think such contradictions will never reach the level of antagonism deserving of violence is naïve.
In 1919 in Ukraine, Nestor Machno’s “Black Army” showcased these contradictions coming to a violent head. In late July, 40,000 members of the Red Army turned against the red line choosing the black line. Switching sides, they knowingly attacked the Bolshevik influence in the area and would go on to sabotage the Red Army in the Civil War. While the Bolsheviks held some temporary unity with the Machnovist forces against the White Army, they would go on to correctly attack the black libertarian “Free Territory” compound. This was after learning the anarchists withheld food from Soviet workers and stole weapons from the Bolsheviks (Source 5). The black “Free Territory” competed with the established territories of the USSR in claiming not to be centralized. This project was short-lived, dissolving in 1921. Machno referred to the Bolsheviks as “dictators”; it is no stretch to say that today supporters of his line refer to modern Bolsheviks as “abusive”. Friends can become enemies deserving of violence in war.
Just because a group or person calls themselves “leftist” does not mean they truly loyal to revolution, and it does not exempt them from all violence at the hands of the working class and its representatives. To exempt someone from all violence simply because they call themselves a leftist represents unprincipled unity. Anarchists who parrot such bad ideas are really using a more narrow version of the logic of the squeamish liberal who argues against punching Richard Spencer. Surely this liberal also identified themselves as being “against fascism” but objectively was not. You don’t have to be so far right as a fascist to be deserving of violence, and violence among the left is not automatically abuse. The abuse-jacketing that happens when leftist contradictions reach antagonism rests on the idea that it’s abuse if you know the person or people enacting violence on you. This contradicts historical materialism because our alliances are not frozen in time. One divides into two, and things change.
Narrowing the scope even more, not all who call themselves “communists” carry the legacy of the International Communist Movement. This becomes apparent when we examine capitalist restoration. When the masses led by Communists use violence against revisionists, such as in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR), they are doing what needs to be done to prevent restoration. Again, knowing the person does not mean hitting them is abusive. If this were true, then we would not be allowed to physically fight those whose ideology is capable of killing our entire movement.
Deng Pufang, son of rightist Deng Xiaoping, was imprisoned by the Red Guards and thrown out a fourth-story window of Peking University in 1968. This followed a period of questioning him about his father, and he was paralyzed as a result. This defenestration is now commonly referred to as abusive and used to fuel many anticommunist attacks with Deng Pufang himself going on to hold multiple offices in the now capitalist “People’s Republic” of China. We support this case of revolutionary violence as the application of antirevisionism to concrete conditions in the GPCR. The Children of Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping came under attack in the GPCR not exclusively due to who their parents were, but more importantly what political line they represented, the way rightists and reactionaries would rally around them and how they would carry out the directives of their fathers.
The first Tiananmen Square incident took place on April 4, 1976. Traditionally the day to commemorate the dead, it quickly became a counterrevolutionary memorial to the recently deceased rightist Zhou Enlai and an attempt to reverse the Party’s verdict on capitalist restoration. Thousands of white-paper wreaths covered the Square, and when supporters of the rightist line left for the night, Jiang Qing made the correct call to have the wreaths removed. The next day, supporters of the rightist line came back with more wreaths. It is hard to tell what is true and what is untrue, but according to both bourgeois sources and the rightists themselves, the armed detachment of the Party beat protestors with batons, and some sources claim protestors were killed. (Source 6) (Source 7). This mini-“rebellion” appears left at first because there were young people fighting police figures, but their political line was actually rightist. That cannot be inherently abusive if the batons were being yielded in service to the road to Communism. At the same time, the People’s Liberation Army was also yielded in service to the capitalist roaders, killing three hundred rebel red guards in 1967 in Mongolia. This on the other hand can be considered abusive because the force of the army was yielded against the people’s interests.
Surely, every member of the working class who has ever initiated a fistfight cannot be inherently labelled abusive. We cannot isolate the movement from the masses for whom violence is a reality every single day. Within violence, initiating and defensive violence come into contradiction. It is necessary for PPW to be initiated by a Party which has decided this based on objective conditions brought about by their own subjective intervention. We reject the liberal argument that self-defense is the only justified violence. Just because the Party initiates the violence does not mean they have now reached the position of “bully” themselves. They are responding to a history of conflict and seizing the initiative in class struggle. So while tactically they are taking the offensive strategically this act is defensive. We hit the enemy to defend ourselves. To paraphrase something Mao said in “On Protracted War” the best defense is a good offense. (Source 8) Or, as Lenin said in What Is To Be Done?: ”Moreover, it is our habit to reply to attacks, not by defence, but by counter–attack” (Source 9, emphasis his). Even initiating violence is justified: Protracted People’s War is a response to the development of capitalism.
A genuine Communist organization abides by democratic centralism. Abuse-jacketing Communists today is an attack on centralism. Most anticommunism is expressed as an attack on centralism i.e. the earlier excerpt from M-W, “Democracy is contrasted with communism”. Democratic centralism, requiring conscious submission of the individual to the unit, is not abuse. The classic anticommunist tropes paint a picture that all Communists must be brainwashed by the given centralized figure. Bourgeois society will never accept that people consciously choose to follow the leadership and move as one man. The bourgeoisie would rather believe people are not capable of thinking for themselves than believe they are capable of choosing the side of the oppressed. Cadre are truly won over internally and their minds are dedicated to the necessity of communism.
Collectivization of resources—money, food, water, shelter and clothing—is another principle Communists must live by that they may be attacked as abusive for. To confiscate individual property from the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie for the collective good is not abusive. A truly classless society means the collectivization of resources through the abolition of private property altogether. From the hands of the few the resources of the world need to change to the hands of the many.
For putting collectivization into practice Stalin is historically barraged with anticommunism. The bourgeoisie paints him as having abused human rights in the USSR after the death of Lenin, but his actions were a continuation of Leninism. The bourgeoisie relies on the idea of Stalin as a thieving murderer especially referring to the collectivization of farming and de-classing the petty bourgeois Kulak class of farmers. To counter the bourgeois narrative, we read from the true history:
“Further the kulaks had taken a position of active opposition and sabotage of the socialist construction process. They refused to sell to the Soviet State their grain surpluses. They resorted to terrorism…and burned down collective farms and state granaries…
At the end of 1929, with the growth of the collective farms and the state farms, the Soviet Government turned sharply … to the policy of eliminating the kulaks, of destroying them as a class. … It permitted the peasants to confiscate cattle, machines and other farm property from the kulaks for the benefit of the collective farms. The kulaks thus lost all their means of production. They were expropriated just as the capitalists had been expropriated in the sphere of industry in 1918. The difference, however, was that the kulaks’ means of production did not pass into the hands of the state, but into the hands of the peasants, united in the collective farms.” (Source 10)
The Kulaks were a counterrevolutionary class who had to be fought—the bourgeoisie in its account of collectivization removes the reasons for this and makes it look like wanton cruelty, theft, and abuse. Those hearing this imagine themselves being stolen from as individuals without any more context and automatically choose the side of the Kulaks. For collectivization to be an abuse of human rights the bourgeoisie defines the existence of private property as a human right. Private property is inherently exploitative therefore this is an individualist definition.
Conflict is not abuse. While most of the world ignores abuse, the left in imperialist countries while focusing on it distorts its definition to that of any conflict. Two-line struggle, the struggle between right and left lines ideologically, forms in any organization. The framing of conflict as abuse cancels out this reality and encourages people to leave the organization when two-line struggle becomes the sharpest. Any impassioned debate or yelling comes to be painted as abuse and as a result the right engages in conflict avoidance. This conflict avoidance abuse jacketing is always pointed against the left line, whoever comes to express that in the given organization.
Sarah Schulman wrote a book called,“Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair” (Source 11). Schulman was an activist who protested the Vietnam War, got arrested with ACT up, and currently holds a top position in Jewish Voice for Peace. All these things are good however her career tells the story of so many would-be revolutionaries in this imperialist country who sell out. Her consciousness and the ideas in her books ultimately represent someone stuck in academia, stuck between bourgeois and proletarian consciousness, ultimately serving the bourgeoisie. While we agree with her that conflict is not abuse, the ideas of this book question the over application of “abuse” without going much further than that. The reasons and ideology presented to prove the thesis are insufficient to break down completely why false accusations of abuse happen. Latent anticommunism is presented throughout the book. Here we will use examples from Chapter Five, “On Escalation”.
While she claims to be critical of the diffusion of power, she also contributes to the diffusion of power by naming the forces in situations labelled abusive abstract names such as Supremacy, Conflict, and Trauma. This abstract labelling is reminiscent of Foucault already. For example, Supremacy, which in the passage is given the abuser type role, could mean either white supremacists, or could mean Maoist, because the only criteria is picking an ideology and sticking to it. This way of analyzing group dynamics is deeply imbedded horsehoe theory.
On “Location 2463” of a printout of this chapter, Schulman writes, “Unfortunately, groups that rely on perfection, the good/evil dichotomy, and are motivated by a paralyzing fear of ever being wrong, often deny that mental illness/distorted thinking is in play.”
While we agree with her that denying mental illness is bad, we wonder which groups she is talking about here. This isn’t a blanket statement that can be applied uncritically discarding politics. The idea of such a “group” she is talking about here is surely a cult, and historically cult is almost synonymous with Communist in the consciousness of the average academic. A collective that is strongly centralized can easily be attacked as “relying on perfection” especially for being focused on criticism self-criticism and uprooting revisionism. Furthermore, there are few communities in today’s world who do not rely on some form of the “good/evil” dichotomy. Moral systems exist throughout class society and to pretend any differently is idealist. We are left with only very neutral groups to not fit this criterion which in reality do not exist.
On a later page she is talking about “false loyalty systems” and instability. She says, “Ironically, bullying, shunning, scapegoating, threatening, violence, occupation, racism, and other forms of cruelty are not only created by instability, they produce instability.” Here the emphases are ours. The first problem is equating interpersonal phenomena such as “bullying” with systemic oppression such as “occupation, racism”. This flattens the contradiction between systemic and interpersonal contradictions and therefore tries to put them on the same level. Of course, here racism is just an afterthought to the true problems which start on the individual level. The second glaring problem here is we see “violence” blatantly equated with all things bad without any context. This idea of antiviolence is deeply rooted on the academic sort of left Schulman is part of. All these cases things are seen as inherently bad! We on the other hand see some cases of shunning as justified—for example, wreckers of the Maoist movement and abusers and rapists all deserve to be shunned from the movement.
Even further she references the role of the person perpetuating “harm” and says, “…or just the local big man who will not tolerate opposition.” Most important here isn’t what’s being said on paper but the way it’s applied in reality. While this description is valid in some cases it also happens to overlap with some of the qualities necessary for Maoist leadership (holding a line) and comes to be applied across without context. People who read the likes of this book see Maoists holding firm lines and automatically start looking for ways to label them as “perpetuating harm”. We are sure those that adhere to this thinking are some of the biggest agents of anticommunism, pointed against the Maoist movement.
What abuse is
There are few instances of abuse that are easy to identify and define that can work as a good reference point for the rest of the grey area. Pedophilia is outright abuse.
In defining anything we use dialectical materialism. Contradictions exist in every relation of the forces existing in society. To learn more about dialectical materialism we recommend “On Contradiction” (Source 12). In situations of actual abuse there is a contradiction between abused and abuser. Power is indeed taken from the abused for the personal benefit of the abuser. With this concrete definition it is easy to see how rapists are abusive. They take the power to consent away from their victims and this is for the personal benefit, the gratification both sexually and psychologically, of the rapist.
We come into conflict here because there are times where the personal benefit of a given subject and the benefit of society align such as in a case of initiating violence against an infiltrator or wrecker. Therefore, the best way to define abuse generally is when power is taken from the abused to the personal benefit of the abuser where this personal benefit contradicts the overall benefit of society. There is absolutely no case where the rape of children benefits anyone but the pedophile therefore this definition withstands the most basic example.
To clarify something that should already be clear: no one is exempt from the potential to be abusive. And being critical of “abuse” is not an attempt for Communists to put themselves above any potential to have unhealthy or abusive tendencies that need to be uprooted. In fact, the Red Guards movement, who for their unwavering commitment to revolution have often been falsely labelled “abusive”, are the only left force who have shown in multiple cities that they are willing to deal with abusers properly. These material actions against abuse mean far more than the performative inactive call-outs against abusers. While “calling out” genuine abuse is somewhat progressive, it has limitations when the actions do not match up. Supporters of the Red Guards movement have ousted abusers both internal and external to the revolutionary movement in Austin, LA, KC, and Charlotte. (Source 13)
That the same postmodernist crowd who would level false accusations of abuse toward RGs repeatedly would then “criticize” RGs for taking “punitive” measures against abusers shows the contradictions internal to the postmodernists themselves. You either care about abuse or you care about never being “punitive”. It cannot be both. Abuse and punitive measures against abusers are not the same thing. If a woman is repeatedly raped in her relationship and one day takes up physical violence against her serial abuser, that violence is more than justified. The Communist Party of Peru beat and sometimes killed wife abusers (Source 14).
Physical violence against abusers from either their victims or the revolutionaries safeguarding them is justified no matter how oppressed the abuser is under capitalism. Punishing abuse even when the abuser holds oppressed identities does not then mean those doing the punishing have moved into the position of “oppressor”. This includes in the future when these revolutionaries acting in the interests of victims hold state power in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Putting the rehabilitation of the abuser above the struggle against their crimes in general is a soft, ineffective method.
When examining “abuse”, violence becomes another thing that, less about violence itself as an abstract thing, is about who is yielding it and for what purpose. If this can be understood on an interpersonal level, such as with the rape survivor taking the power back, then it must also be understood on a societal level.
Abuse manifests in the real world and takes two forms. One is societal abuses. Of these the abuse the ruling class subjects the working class to is both most rampant as well as most normalized by society. The existence of private property gives rise to the extraction of surplus value from workers. This results in a system in which the boss we work for allows us to die prematurely. The second societal abuse, which is surely more widespread than just individual to individual, is the widespread rape and coercion into sex of women by men. Some may refer to this as “rape culture”. Therefore, the struggle of every rape victim is not only their own struggle but is always connected to centuries of the oppression of women.
The second type of abuse is abuse between individuals. Just because we value the needs of society over the needs of the individual does not mean we negate the needs of the individual when these needs are in harmony.
Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church), is a clear example of an abuser. He is an enemy of the people deserving of the worst possible punishment. According to former church members he had 70 wives. He raped children including his own children and facilitated the rape of children girls by forcibly “marrying” them to adult men. The FLDS community lived on a compound in Utah and had very limited contact with the outside world. The women and girls were told to “keep sweet” and forbidden from being jealous or angry, and this helped to pacify any resistance to their religious system. (Source 15). Here he clearly rapes women and girls for his own personal benefit. However, the chaining of women into positions of servitude was not only for his own personal benefit but also to the benefit of the FLDS organization in general. Therefore, the interests of this almost fascist institution were completely against the interests of society in general and women and girls in particular.
Of course there are more subtle examples of abusers than Warren Jeffs but he is a concrete example of a pedophile and showcases both examples of abuse: interpersonal as well as systemic.
The concept of codependency is controversial even in social-science circles. It has been defined as, “a dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables the other person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.” (Source 16). We agree with them that enabling under-achievement is legitimately codependent, however the capitalist definition of achievement is much different from the Maoist one.
The Party forms a unity of opposites between democracy and centralism. With centralism being principle, the individual within the Party is still subject to the discipline of the whole. This is not innately codependent. Codependency, the way we are taught it, prioritizes the individual above all else, so many things that aren’t codependent can be characterized as such. The justifications look a lot like:
“When co-dependents place other people’s health, welfare and safety before their own, they can lose contact with their own needs, desires, and sense of self.” (Source 17)
For true Communists the sense of self, which in class society is sense of bourgeois self, is indeed something we want to lose contact with. Comrade Avanti of the CPI(Maoist) died in a Mumbai hospital of complications related to malaria. As a member of the Central Committee she was wanted by the Indian government and had to give a false name when seeking treatment which led to a late diagnosis (Source 18). In giving doctors no way to reach her she put the needs of the Indian people, the People’s War, above her own health. Having been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis years before going to live in the jungle to serve the People’s War, she had for years been making sacrifices for the people regardless of her personal afflictions. This runs directly counter to the individualist “self-care” (care of the bourgeois self) line popular on the left today.
According to the capitalist definition of codependency some may argue Avanti’s level of self-sacrifice to be codependent or unhealthy. But for her as is the case for all Communists her sense of self came from serving the people. Her sense of self (of the people) is in direct contradiction with the bourgeois self which we are taught to identify with and nurture from birth in capitalist society. The bourgeois sense of self serves to break up movements because, through distortions of abuse and codependency, the person is convinced that they are being manipulated and robbed of their rights. They are encouraged to leave the movement and regain their individualist lifestyle.
Codependency can be incorrectly alleged against comrades to divide them and sow disunity between them. For example, a unit of comrades who have been through life-threatening fights against the system together will have a close bond. To come to trust your comrades through struggle is not unhealthy but healthy. State agents and others seeking to poke holes may try to convince one that they are too dependent on the other banking that the underlying individualism will resurface and cause them to flip. This shows why most internal disagreements must be kept internal lest our enemies use them against us. Regardless of what the correct line is, intra-Party line struggles should not be made public until the line struggle has been organized and the correct line agreed upon. Cadre must be inoculated with how to respond to such attempts to sow disunity.
The true essence of codependency is useful to organized Communists so that they can guard against it. Using dialectical materialism, the best way to describe codependency is a contradiction, whether societal or interpersonal, in which rather than advancing through time, the development of the forces in the contradiction is at a standstill. During a period of codependency, the contradiction does not reach a conclusion, nonetheless its correct conclusion. It’s as if a contradiction meant for one moment is frozen in time and these two forces are constantly playing against each other, in the same repeated relationship. This stunting of growth is especially expressed in the aspect of the contradiction which becomes underdeveloped. The classic, legitimate example is the alcoholic wife and the partner who enables her by buying booze for her. The healthy thing would be for one of the partners to identify this problem, to explain why it’s stunting the alcoholic’s growth, and to use the identification of this contradiction to solve it. This invites in the next contradiction which will inevitably rise but pushing forward nonetheless. The unhealthy thing would be to either deny it’s a problem or to not work to solve it. In codependent contradictions between people the record keeps playing over and over with no real development.
A true Communist must be able to find their own bearings (Source 19). These bearings should flow with, not contradict, the antirevisionist Party line. Codependency between cadres would get in the way of individual cadre developing to the point that they can make their own decisions. While the highest priority decisions are primarily the job of leadership, the lower level decisions need to be handled by the cadres they apply to. For rank and file cadres applying the Party line to specific situations in day-to-day work is challenging and requires creativity. This creativity can only be cultivated through the class struggle. Only through giving cadres control over decisions can they be built up to replace their leadership. During the life of a Party there will be many trying times which require decisions to be made, sometimes in the absence of cadres who the bourgeoisie have murdered. Surely their comrades must continue, loyal to revolution in their absence.
Genuine codependency within a cadre organization would be when in the group-individual contradiction not enough care has gone into training the individual cadres themselves to behave effectively on behalf of the group. This is especially necessary when a lower level cadre is surrounded by advanced masses and others who are not cadres. Genuine cadres need to be able to follow orders from leadership but also need to have enough intuition to do things that need doing without being asked. Getting cadres to this point requires a lot of difficult training. As Mao says, general calls from leadership need to be followed up with particular guidance (Source 20). Within a collective this is expressed as leadership issuing a direct order then following up with instruction on how to carry out the order.
Where the codependency comes in is where this training has not happened enough. It is neither desirable nor possible to hand-hold people through every single aspect of their theoretical development. This is not out of vanity—we should be helpful and supportive. However, there comes a point in the class struggle where more experienced Maoists come to be relied on as a crutch to keep the newer comrade from growing themselves. Developing Maoists need to be responsible for their own political development to some extent and be motivated to read the pieces that they are assigned or encouraged to. Failure to do this can result in a codependent relationship with political acquaintances. This would be expressed in not being able to complete assignments, or even start them, without the help of the senior comrade. We cannot enable lazy behaviors and cannot exhibit them ourselves.
Ultra-democracy, which inside a Communist collective is a result of overvaluing democracy in the democracy-centralism contradiction, is another way codependency can express itself. When democracy is overemphasized, centralism (unity in political line and in action), is under-emphasized. Leadership is essentially someone prioritizing then making difficult choices on behalf of the group. In sharp contrast ultra-democracy is everyone needing to have a say in every single decision. This translates to a lack of decisions–important tasks are not completed because there was never a resolution reached on what the problem is and how it would be solved. This problem is the norm on the anticommunist left and within a collective ultra-democracy holds the development to a standstill rather than in a constantly forward motion.
Codependency in its genuine societal form could be used to describe the relationship between inmates and guards in a prison. The same dialectic that is present everywhere in the world between oppressor and oppressed is present in these two forces. They are stuck in a standstill place unable to continue the spiral of contradictions past a certain point. Guards participate in allowing drugs and fights into the facility which instead of raising the quality of life of the inmates lowers it. Inmates are repressed because this system is dependent on keeping them down. Many inmates are not rehabilitated even into capitalist society but often regress into the lumpenproletariat. As was said in an earlier struggle-sessions piece, “Annihilation Zone”, prisons are schools of crime meant to de-class proletarians.
Unhealthy habits are habits that inhibit growth. As with anything capitalist society defines growth as the growth of the individual. True growth however is the growth of the Party, the collective, the class etc. and what will lead to a Communist society. These will come into contradiction often in the revolutionary movement. The result is the false application of abuse and its surrounding terms. This is done, consciously or unconsciously, to kill the revolutionary movement and turn its supporters against one another. The object of abuse-jacketing Communists is the unrestricted expression of the bourgeois self— “abuse” becomes a label to block out anything that challenges “self”. Communist organizers are often labelled “toxic” by petty-bourgeois activists when they hear things they don’t want to hear or are confronted by contradictions which challenge them. Indeed, the ICM must be “toxic” to society as it exists and win supporters away from the bourgeois self into the proletarian self.
In the course of revolution, every step of building the Party and towards Protracted People’s War, representatives of the people must be relentless. There will always be challenges that seem too big to handle, and if one is a pessimist, there will always be an excuse to quit. This relentless quality to continue organizing no matter what and to fight for the principles of the working class is the exact thing that is labelled “abusive”. This mystifies and covers up the true abuses exacted by the bourgeoisie every day. The true defenders against abuse must organize opposition to it. If you care so much about abuse, join those who are doing something about it. Let abuse be a reason to fight rather than a false excuse not to get organized.
Article written by Ira
1.) M-W on “abuse”
2.) M-W on Communism
3.) Foucault: “Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison”
4.) Marx: The Civil War In France
5.) On the Machnovist forces
Skirda, Alexandre, Nestor Makhno: Anarchy’s Cossack. AK Press, 2004
6.) Associated Press: “First Tiananmen Incident Overshadowed”, 1996
7.) And Mao Makes Five: Mao Tsetung’s Last Great Battle page 486
8.) Mao, From “On Protracted War”:
“68. Here we are not dealing with the political aim of war; the political aim of the War of Resistance Against Japan has been defined above as “to drive out Japanese imperialism and build a new China of freedom and equality”. Here we are dealing with the elementary object of war, war as “politics with bloodshed”, as mutual slaughter by opposing armies. The object of war is specifically “to preserve oneself and destroy the enemy” (to destroy the enemy means to disarm him or “deprive him of the power to resist”, and does not mean to destroy every member of his forces physically). In ancient warfare, the spear and the shield were used, the spear to attack and destroy the enemy, and the shield to defend and preserve oneself. To the present day, all weapons are still an extension of the spear and the shield. The bomber, the machine-gun, the long-range gun and poison gas are developments of the spear, while the air-raid shelter, the steel helmet, the concrete fortification and the gas mask are developments of the shield. The tank is a new weapon combining the functions of both spear and shield. Attack is the chief means of destroying the enemy, but defence cannot be dispensed with. In attack the immediate object is to destroy the enemy, but at the same time it is self-preservation, because if the enemy is not destroyed, you will be destroyed. In defence the immediate object is to preserve yourself, but at the same time defence is a means of supplementing attack or preparing to go over to the attack. Retreat is in the category of defence and is a continuation of defence, while pursuit is a continuation of attack. It should be pointed out that destruction of the enemy is the primary object of war and self-preservation the secondary, because only by destroying the enemy in large numbers can one effectively preserve oneself. Therefore attack, the chief means of destroying the enemy, is primary, while defence, a supplementary means of destroying the enemy and a means of self-preservation, is secondary. In actual warfare the chief role is played by defence much of the time and by attack for the rest of the time, but if war is taken as a whole, attack remains primary.” (Emphases ours)
9.) Lenin: What Is to Be Done?
This was in footnote 17 In Section III: Trade Unionist Politics and Social-Democratic Politics:
“Lack of space has prevented us from replying in detail, in Iskra, to this letter, which is highly characteristic of the Economists. We were very glad at its appearance, for the allegations that Iskra did not maintain a consistent class point of view had reached us long before that from various sources, and we were waiting for an appropriate occasion, or for a formulated expression of this fashionable charge, to give our reply. Moreover, it is our habit to reply to attacks, not by defence, but by counter-attack.”
10.) CPI Maoist: Excerpt on collectivization and the Kulaks—MLM Basic Course
11.) Sarah Schulman: “Conflict is Not Abuse…”
12.) Mao: On Contradiction
13.) Cities in US Maoist movement where abusers have been ousted (imbed the links in the text net to bullet point rater than having the link underneath as it is here)
- RGA against McKinley Forbes
- RSF isolating abuser Carlos Salamanca via RGA website https://redguardsaustin.wordpress.com/2017/12/06/call-to-ban-the-abuser-carlos-salamanca-from-all-revolutionary-spaces-rsf-atx/
- RSF action against abuser professor Morrisett
- Progressive Youth Organization Kansas City https://progressivekc.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/rape-culture-live-from-umkc-admin-and-their-independent-newspaper/
- Red Guards Charlotte against Manuel Fuentes
- STP-C against Winter Kaplan
- RGLA gender rectification campaign (after expelling member once they found out he had physically assaulted a woman)
14.) Zirakzadeh C.E. (2006) Diverse Directions along the Shining Path. In: Social Movements in Politics. Perspectives in Comparative Politics. Palgrave Macmillan, New York
15.) Abuser Warren Jeffs
“Breaking Free: How I Escaped Polygamy, the FLDS Cult, and My Father, Warren Jeffs” by Rachel Jeffs
16.) BPD Family on “codependency”
17.) Mental Health America on “codependency”:
18.) Arundhati Roy: Foreword to “Scripting the Change: Selected Writings of Anuradha Ghandy”
19.) Georgi Dimitrov: Unity of the Working Class Against Fascism
“Third, ability independently to find one’s bearings in given circumstances and not to be afraid of assuming responsibility in making decisions. He who fears to take responsibility is not a leader. He who is unable to display initiative, who says: ‘I will do only what I am told,’ is not a Bolshevik. Only he is a real Bolshevik leader who does not lose his head at moments of defeat, who does not get a swelled head at moments of success, who displays indomitable firmness in carrying out decisions. Cadres develop and grow best when they are placed in the position of having to solve concrete problems of the struggle independently, and are aware that they are fully responsible for their decisions.”
20.) Mao: “Some Questions Concerning Methods of Leadership”