A SINGLE WILL:
Disagreements with the “Maoist Revolutionary Party”
By the Struggle Sessions Editorial Board
There are many contradictory arguments and incorrect ideas in the document titled “Clarifying Positions on the MRP Declaration Statement” authored by the “Maoist Revolutionary Party” MRP, as well as some generally agreeable and genuinely progressive and revolutionary views. The following article is in the interest of demarcation, in the interest of struggle and persuasion, and always proceeding from the principle that real unity can only be accomplished based on struggle. [We place the quotation marks because we disagree on what does and does not qualify as a Party]
On The Importance of Reconstituting the Communist Party
The MRP state that:
“The Declaration Statement was meant to declare our intent to constitute a Maoist Party. It is not fully constituted.”
To begin, a fully constituted Communist Party cannot be declared, and any such declaration would be ultimately meaningless. This is political humility. “A Maoist Party” however, implies that there can at any point in any country exist a multitude of Maoist Parties, which is incorrect. The Party is a singular organism, separate from and opposed to the Parties of the old type and parties of other classes. The line of forming “a Maoist Party” must be overcome on the very basis of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM). It is not enough, and it is in fact detrimental to talk of “a” Party. Instead, revolutionaries must focus on the conditions in which the Party has yet to be reconstituted and insist on the process of struggles that make unity of the Party possible. Marxism has established long ago the need for a singular Party of the proletariat.
Comrade Stalin considered this a basic principal of Bolshevization, as well as a prerequisite for uniting the masses:
“If the workers are to achieve victory, they must be inspired by a single will, they must be led by a single party, which enjoys the indubitable confidence of the majority of the working class. If there are two competing parties of equal strength within the working class, a lasting victory is impossible even under favorable external circumstances.”
There must be adamant clarity on what the Party is, that is the most advanced organizational extension of the proletariat. This is the Party of the proletariat, which of course has many organizations but only one Party. The Communist Party of Peru deals with this matter in their General Political Line:
“Marx established that the proletariat cannot act as a class unless it constitutes itself as a political party different from and opposed to all the political parties created by the propertied classes. That since its appearance in a prolonged process, the proletariat has created its own forms of struggle and its own forms of organization. As a result, the Party is the highest form of organization, the army is the principal form of organization and the Front is the third instrument, and these three instruments are to seize Power by means of revolutionary violence.” [emphasis original]
MRP goes on to state that:
“We wish to obtain greater experience through practice to formulate a more correct theoretical line.”
This is correct in part, though one aspect remains incorrect—that being the issue of empiricism, which can bow to spontaneity. Theory derives from practice; this is a basic principle of Maoism. But it is not simply or only limited to the direct experience of one group, but concentrated from hundreds of years of practice since Marx and Engels produced the Communist Manifesto, and this practice has been developed subsequently by the greatest teachers of Marxism: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Gonzalo. There must exist a theoretical basis for unity for any organization and a high level of unity among those who seek to form the Communist Party. As Chairman Mao correctly instructed, it is through the combination of study, with general experience that the clearest understanding emerges. It is clear that in both of these aspects the MRP is understandably deficient.
MRP put forward the idea that they view themselves as a “constitution committee”: is it then their position that the Communist Party (which we are in agreement does not exist in the US) must be constituted? Constitution means to be created for the first time, so no other conclusion can be drawn from their choice of words.
This means that they believe that there was never at any point a genuine CP in the US, which is of course incorrect and highly objectionable. The Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) was in fact a real and genuine Party before being decimated by revisionism. Furthermore, it does not matter if MRP really thinks so or not, by overconfidence or lack of study they have found themselves aiming to reinvent the wheel. The Great Lenin, Comrade Stalin, and even Chairman Mao recognized the CPUSA as a legitimate revolutionary Party, the true vanguard of the US proletariat, and moreover, a Party which was part of the Communist International led by Lenin and Stalin. Revolutionaries must not reverse the verdict on the question of constitution verses reconstitution and this is no pedantic argument but one of great importance. The CP was in fact constituted already in 1919 and while it fell to revisionism in the later 30’s, it must now be reconstituted. It is up to all revolutionaries to uphold the revolutionary history of the US proletariat, of course including but not limited to the CP, for it would be shame should the MRP not enlighten themselves on this rich history, and throw away all the good with the bad. To do this would be to forfeit historical materialism.
Likewise, this should not be considered a mere miswording, words and formula have important meanings, and we must not assume total ignorance among a group who proved their worth already, by making the important and mature decision to part ways with revisionism. To assume they do not know what they are saying would be disrespect. Newness and eagerness to demarcate might offer a better explanation, however speculation is useless. What is clear, is while they claim to be a project for “constituting” the Party, it is obvious that they seek to reconstitute or at least aid in reconstituting the Black Panther Party (as it was in its original formation), leaving the question of what type of Party do they seek to establish?
The above question becomes clearer when evaluating the following from MRP:
“We disapprove of the length of time that many organizations spend in the ‘pre-Party formation’ stage in the Party-building process. We understand the need to politically consolidate, develop a correct line, and lay the foundation for People’s War in a practical sense. However, we believe the Party is the best tool for moving these processes forward, and in waiting for a more ideal time or for ideal conditions to be met, the task of making revolution is stunted and prevented from exercising full initiative.”
Political consolidation is an agreeable concept, in fact a necessary one, and developing the correct line through practice is also quite reasonable. Any Communist would not object, and of course the Party is a far superior tool than any other at accomplishing these tasks. However, time does not wait for the approval of the spectator, and there exists no argument for waiting to establish links or democratic centralism (meaning unity) between organizations for any unnecessary observance of time. The question is not one of quantity of time, but of quality of thought and practice. In short the struggles for ideological unity around Maoism require struggle, translating to work and time.
While this process should not drag on needlessly, it proceeds as it does through struggle and testing theoretical understanding in practice, as well as participation in line struggle, and this process objectively does not wait for MRP’s approval, making their disapproval a meaningless gesture. All anyone can do is apply effort to consistently improve to meet the objective conditions, to bring the subjective forces up to the task of the objective conditions. MRP must be reminded of some basic historic facts: the Bolsheviks were not formed in a short time! From the point Plekhanov developed Russian Marxism, all through the period of Lenin’s emergence as a leader, through the split with the Mensheviks, to the development of an all-Russian revolutionary newspaper (Iskra), we find that this was a period of many years. In Peru it took almost 12 years to reconstitute the Party from the red faction of the old CP which was falling more and more into opportunism. In India, the comrades formed the CPI (Maoist) in 2004, but the Naxalbari uprising, led by Majumdar and Sanyal took place in 1967, with many years of struggle taking place before the consolidated and unified Maoist Party could emerge and initiate its great People’s War.
Revolutionaries must not be so conceited as to believe US groups or conditions can force expediency which would cut the matter down to a short period, when these great revolutionaries spent many years struggling to reconstitute or constitute their CP’s. That being said, it is not a question of arbitrary time, or superficial numbers. The Party is where the few converge, making it a question of quality and unity, mass links and concrete level of organization, all based on the ideology of MLM – an understood and agreed upon all powerful ideology. Lacking patience in this regard can only result in a paper-party, and no real CP. MRP’s disapproval of duration requirements turns quickly into its opposite, a view which itself takes more time to correct, not to mention the setbacks resulting from such a false-start, rushed and flawed from its beginning.
The PCP explains the principle of the Party and its relations to the three instruments of revolution giving us the understanding to agree on the potential for a Party measured not in size but in quality (and it is quality which allows the Party the leading position which follows):
“The Party where the few converge, the Army with more participants, and new State/Front which is the base which progressively accumulates the masses through leaps.”
While the Party is the best tool for moving the whole revolutionary movement forward, revolutionaries are correct to insist that a falsified (or amateurish as Lenin says) Party would be the worst tool, and a concession to revisionism and reaction. It is a concession by objectively aiding these elements with its own weakness in essence. The Party is not just a question of form, but an ideological, organizational and political question as well; this speaks to the essence of the Party.
The Communist Party of Peru outlines six aspects of Party construction, which go on even after reconstitution is accomplished, these are; ideological construction, political construction, organic construction, leadership, two-line struggle, and mass work. While the Party continuously constructs these aspects, it is also necessary to have established them to some degree before the Party is a possibility. And what is important here is that these aspects take time and work,. these aspects will not be thoroughly prepared if the view of MRP is maintained; that they have any place to “disapprove” of how long these things can take, by merely forming another separate “pre-party” formation, especially when they lack the constitution to clearly demarcate between themselves and their rivals or where they stand on the question of struggling for unity.
As has been elaborated, it is bad to have a multitude of “parties” each lacking the six aspects outlined above, it is also no good to have a multitude of pre-party formations which do not make their differences clear, and maturely struggle for unity. Even if having multiple formations is inevitable at some stage, it is certainly not a desirable condition. In the best case, the struggles become more complex, and in the worst case, you see the emergence of right liquidationism, as is the case with the formation which MRP correctly split from. What occurs is a process of division, of splitting the movement up into micro-groups, each appearing as consumer options, but never as an organized vanguard.
MRP is again partially correct when they state that:
“The Party must be built through the practice of using it. We are reminded that many of the most successful People’s Wars across the world started with a Party of only a dozen or so members. In China, the Communists learned through implementing a program.”
The Communist Party of China had “a dozen or so” delegates, not members, each delegate represented many more members, and even those too were relatively few especially in comparison to how fast they were able to build the Party through war after its general reorganization in Yenan on the basis of Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought.
It is agreeable that Party is built after it has been constituted or reconstituted. Similar to body building the task is impossible without the body existing as a prerequisite. And of course, while the CPC was constituted with few delegates as we have indicated above (“the few converge”), there is no sense in hiding behind a narrow imitation of China. Two facts must be pointed out to warn against the logic professed by MRP: A) the comrades who founded the CPC, however few they were, were tried and tested in hard class struggle, with the best leaders having participated in the May 4th Movement and consequently already having developed strong mass links, and B) revisionism had not yet taken hold of China. It was yet to fully emerge in the modern form, and there were no other “parties” seeking to officially lead China’s small proletariat, as the Party having never existed could also rely on the Comintern for both advice and support, leadership and support which is non-existent in today’s conditions where the proletariat still lacks its international organization. These factors are conditional and do not exist today, on the contrary in the existing conditions of revisionism having done harmful damage to the Communist struggle internally to a country, and a lack of verifiable experience, it would be a major error verging on self-aggrandizement and delusion to believe that the process could be rushed on the basis of “disapproval.” While foot dragging, and lagging behind the masses is equally mistaken, and just as common, it is childish to disapprove of the process of struggling to unify and ideologically consolidate the revolutionary movement under the sole command and guide of Maoism. It is therefore agreeable that the CP is direly needed, and developing from this agreement, it must be insisted that the masses and the proletariat deserve only the most qualified singular CP to lead their diverse struggles.
To make it clear; without the Party, the principal task of all Maoists is to reconstitute the Party. Once it has been reconstituted it must begin preparations for the initiation of people’s war, choosing the right moment and consolidating all its forces for this task, which means taking mass organizations below ground. Once it has reached glorious initiation, it builds itself mainly through people’s war, carrying this on through the socialist revolution and continuing into successive cultural revolutions, all the way to luminous communism which the whole world must enter or no one will.
So it is not really a question of “declaring the Party.” The question is: Has the real and genuine Party, in form and essence actually been reconstituted and not a paper Party with no hopes or prospects of carrying out its historic tasks? There is no shortage of groups which call themselves Parties but that do not measure up to what Lenin demanded be the basic requirement of a Party, that is that it be a Party of professional, tried and tested revolutionaries, and such a composition determines the legitimacy of the Party. Without these criteria, trade unionism, social-democracy, and/or revisionism become its conclusion. Mao and the CPC did measure up to Lenin’s criteria, in essence. They earned the right to call themselves the Communist Party of China. Earning such a title, of course, does not exclude making mistakes, as Maoists insist that the title of Communist is earned through handling mistakes too, through criticism and self-criticism, arduous struggle, following the logic of the people to “fight, fail, fight again, fail again, and fight again until victory.” The masses and the class deserve such patient diligence and commitment. In essence Communists must earn the title, it is not enough to declare it, and such declarations are empty and furthermore insulting to the countless comrades who have made the utmost sacrifice for the cause. Should MRP contribute, however they can to the world proletarian revolution, they must learn the patience and humility of communists, so that they may rise to unite with all the genuine Maoists of the US for one unshakable cause—communism, and it is correct to be optimistic as well as patient in this regard.
The task is urgent and they are correct to feel the weight of this urgency. Such a viewpoint must not be denounced or brushed off, this urgent lack is exactly why reconstitution is the principal task of all revolutionaries. The whole world is in the age of the strategic offensive of world proletarian revolution as indicated by Mao, which means the objective conditions outrun the subjective ones, and hence the struggle is to bring up the subjective ones to meet the objective ones. Understanding this means to guard against amateurishness while understanding that many mistakes will be made, and these are not to be feared.
Regarding the Winstonite Revisionists (“Maoist Communist Party-Organizing Committee”/For The People, etc.)
MRP states that:
“The enemy is watching the development of both organizations and will most likely attempt to take advantage of this split to disrupt both of them. That is why we refrain from speaking openly about the MCP-OC. Here we will make one exception just to provide context and background.”
This view, while highlighting the treachery of US imperialism, which is the principal enemy, confuses the principal enemy as the main danger. It is the Maoist position that revisionism is the main danger to revolutionary movements and organizations. MRP considers imperialism the main danger and is paralyzed from stating their differences in an all-around way, even though they have come under considerably less attack (to none at all) from the state in both formations than the established MLM movement in the US. The already existing Maoist movement (not counting the revisionists of the “MCP-OC”) has already seen dozens of arrests, as well as raids, frame ups, and even an attempt on the life of a comrade, excessive prison sentences, etc. It assuredly does not underestimate the state or its agencies, yet takes its duty as Marxists to make clear political and ideological demarcations between itself and revisionism.
There is the important historical line of Mao, Majumdar, Gonzalo, etc. that revisionism is the main danger, and that just as Mao said, it is impossible to hit imperialism without first striking revisionism. The ideology of MLM must be grasped as the basis for unity, and this includes understanding revisionism as the main danger. Meaning that, while the state will certainly be glad for a lack of unity, they benefit the most from disunity. And of course, this does not translate to presenting a mask of false unity with revisionism! It is the revisionism of the “MCP-OC” which has caused disunity in their own ranks, and the existence of the state cannot be used as cause to maintain unprincipled peace on the political front now that there are those who split from revisionism.
Disunity comes primarily for Communists in the form of revisionism and liberalism, liberalism meaning to let things slide for the sake of unprincipled peace, to hear and not correct mistaken ideas, to fail to struggle with these ideas, etc. If there are ongoing struggles, to correct the views of the “MCP-OC” (impossible with the current leadership), then of course it is a discretionary matter to either struggle openly or privately. Lack of ideological struggle though is not permissible, and represents a lapse into liberalism (if this is the case).
We can rely on much more important examples of historical struggles to highlight this universal truth; the Bolsheviks had to struggle hard against the Mensheviks not because their disunity benefited Tsarism, but precisely because the revolutionary line had to win out, the incorrect ideas had to be confronted for the sake of overthrowing Tsarism. Another more dramatic example is that Mao understood the US imperialists hoped for a spit in the socialist camp, but this knowledge did not prevent him from struggling against modern revisionism. We have seen that Maoism was birthed in such struggles. Hopefully, these two examples help clarify matters. When a split inevitably happens, it happens on the emergence of irreconcilable contradictions, over principles and political lines, over ideology, and hence demarcations must be made as a matter of Marxist duty, to educate comrades and the masses, and to sharpen the revolutionary line. A poker face only serves to aid and abed the revisionist line, pretending to have unity in silence; while objectively disunity exists in fact, it is much better to be frank and upfront here.
It is undoubtable that many in Winston’s orbit are well meaning and simply misled by his vanity project, the existence of which is to oppose Maoism while claiming to be Maoist. He is a revisionist, a liar and a bad element, experience that confirms this will only cast light on the matter and save comrades the bad experiences which forced the MRP to make their own way. It is important to be clear about this in a principled way by developing public criticism of the political lines of the project. This follows the general way in which communists have always proceeded, whether it is against major issues, like the anarchists of the First International, the social democrats of the Second International, or the Trotskyites of the Third, or even with more minor ones like the struggles between various organizations like the Black Panthers and Students for a Democratic Society, etc.
More importantly than a disagreement on tactics, is an agreement on principles. MRP’s assessment of the lack of democratic centralism and the liquidation of class struggle are correct, and revolutionaries should add that there is almost no grasp of Marxism and that that political education is lagging among Winstonites.
All should commend the MRP’s decision to separate from the Winstonites, as there could not have been another way, considering the way in which the Winstonites operate. Leaving us with the burning questions, what conditions or criteria insisted upon by MRP must present themselves to support a decision to clearly demarcate the most important political differences with the falsified Maoists?
Certainly, in the US no one can sit around waiting for US imperialism to become weakened to the point of a less repressive state to make such disagreements clear! The Communists have always disdained to conceal their views; this apprehension is a byproduct of liberalism presented as Communist principle. Imperialism as understood by Maoism is to be regarded tactically as a real tiger, and this is not doubted, but the logic must extend to understanding US imperialism as a colossus with clay feet. Furthermore, revisionism parts out the struggles of the proletariat, dividing revolutionaries in the service of imperialism in the long run. Avoiding political demarcation does not weaken imperialism, it weakens the revolutionary camp. To combat imperialism revolutionaries must regard their duty to combat distortions of Maoism, so that unity around Maoism is accomplished and it is brandished as the best weapon to demolish both imperialism and revisionism. It would be acceptable to refrain from aiding the state with internal information that would result in arrest or exposure, but it is simultaneously unacceptable to maintain unprincipled peace and to peacefully coexist with irreconcilable contradictions which justified a split. The latter obscures matters and allows good comrades to enter or remain in a project poised against revolutionary unity. As Chairman Mao said in Combat Liberalism:
“We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every Communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon.”
MRP must overcome their apprehension, and take up their post as anti-revisionists by taking part in active ideological struggle!
On the United Front
Maoists understand the united front according principally to Mao, which is derived from theories put forward by the Communist International, with no small part of these deriving from the great and important work of Comrade Dimitrov. This is what we mean when we speak of the United Front, and we have developed work on this subject found in the article “The Third Instrument” on our website.
That being said, of course, we do not consider our many disagreements with NABPP to forbid any future united front work, and it is our understanding that no Maoist organization presents a different viewpoint. However what is promoted by MRP is not a united front in the Maoist sense, but mere cooperation between progressive and revolutionary organizations and of course if it was presented as such it would not be objectionable, as cooperation can be a good thing, but it does not qualify as the united front. The “Party is the nexus of everything” is the principle of the united front, which follows what is put forward in the PCP’s General Political Line, along with what is put forward by Mao and Dimitrov as well.
The ideological line of the NABPP is what causes some concern—that is to say, where it diverges from MLM and moves into “Intercommunalism,” a theory which must be opposed by Maoists. There are other historical matters that are not agreeable to Maoism as well—especially regarding nationhood and what can negate it conditionally. The latter part requires a deeper understanding and engagement so we will not elaborate it, rather we will just state that it exists. Our journal was happy to print a criticism of an article we put out, which correctly highlights how we were incorrect in identifying their line on the lumpen proletariat. This is good and we hope to continue learning and correcting our views while working toward theoretically stating our agreements and disagreements with those comrades. The development of work among the masses outside of prison boosts our moral and gives us great hope that our ideas can struggle and improve as well as theirs.
It is however alarming to say the least, that MRP claims to follow NABPP directives, because a communist formation, no matter how small, cannot take the directives of an outside organization. This is unthinkable, and while offering support and taking action is understandable, this has to be as comrades and not in the official capacity of taking a directive or following an order, as the pre-party organization must at all costs keep its independence, as Lenin has insisted. If an organization does not share democratic centralism, and is not part of the same organization, it cannot follow a separate organizations directives (save in cases of parent organizations). This would be centralism in a vulgar way, centralism without democracy. We are for democratic centralism and no vulgarization of either democracy or centralism. To follow directives means having a hand in the development of the directives, it means making reports and having guaranteed rights, for directives are not a one-way street, or a thing bestowed on one organization by another. Such a striking imbalance is reminiscent of the pandering to identity so popular in activist subcultures in the US today, which has no place dressing itself as Maoist. It is unthinkable that an outside organization be directing the “constitution” of “a” party which is not taking part in establishing directly. Furthermore, following directives implies a level of unity which MRP denies exists, making the whole matter confusing if not nonsensical.
Accepting guidance, advice and criticism are good principles to maintain, and no one should deny it, but this is altogether a different matter than being directed by an outside group. Unity can be struggled for while having ideological and political agreements with outside groups, while maintaining the independent character of a communist organization. The formulas put forward by MRP both mistake what the Party is (the nexus of everything) as well as what the united front is (initiated by the communists, in which they maintain leadership, initiative and independence.)
It is true that a merger of MRP and NABPP would mean liquidation at this point and so there is no objections to the independent formation of Maoists related to the NABPP, yet following directives is just that, a negation of the independent role of Maoists. There are criticisms to be made of the “Rainbow Coalitions” of the past, and how they too confuse the united front, and contain a large amount of what would soon become identity politics (the same exact kind seen in the pandering of the MRP to the NABPP.) In other words, revolutionaries are right to reject Chairman of the BPP, Fred Hampton’s line of “black power for black people and white power for white people” even though he was one of the US’s great revolutionaries and a martyr of the highest regard. MRP has distorted the Maoist united front to be a question of mere alliance, not initiated nor led by communists, in which the pre-party formation does not remain independent in essence, let alone lead, but follows the directives of an organization it has no say within. This is self-subordination, or in a word liquidation of the role of Maoists, for the sake of pandering to a black organization. Understanding this does not mean undermining the role of the black masses in revolution, which constitute the most oppressed, and a critical section of the US proletariat, without which revolution is impossible. Black leadership is needed, not in the form of a separate organization of black people passing out directives to separate white communists, but in the form of black revolutionaries rising to lead the future CP in practice, as part of it.
The clarifying document only requires more clarification, it implies that the principal task according to NABPP (one that MRP states no agreement or disagreement with) is the formation of a constellation of mass organizations.
Clearly such diverse and profound mass organizations are needed to meet the many struggles the people face. However, forming so many organizations is never the “main task” of revolutionaries who exist without their CP. With this condition, the main task is the reconstitution of the Party and all the mass work must serve this, so there is a relation between the two things, which perhaps all agree upon with various disagreements on how to go about it. It is clear that even pending the reconstitution of the Party, there will be a need for certain mass organizations as well as other types of organizations too all of which carry out the kind of work needed to reconstitute the Party and initiate the People’s War. NABBP, to our knowledge has no stated position on the universality of people’s war. Suffice it to say, without unity on this point there could be no strategic unity for the mass work either, and only tactical mutual support. After all what are so many mass organizations, hopelessly divided without the singular leadership of the Party of the proletariat hoping to accomplish? Coalitions do not bring about the seizure of political power by the force of arms, and Leninist principles must be asserted here without reservation.
On the mass work
After explaining that MRP considers itself a committee to “constitute” “a Maoist Party,” they then inform the reader that they are a “multi-national Party.” There is confusion here, which is it? Are they a committee to establish a Party at some point or do they consider themselves a Party now? This can be answered by finding agreement on what is and is not a Party to begin with, which is our biggest point of disagreement with MRP.
All white revolutionaries should struggle against white chauvinism, as white chauvinism is imperialist ideology today. This is an agreeable enough position, but it is mired by the limitations of identity politics when in the context of the MRP project. In fact it is the duty of all revolutionaries to struggle against racism, and this struggle takes on different forms while remaining one struggle—that to unite the proletariat against imperialism. Since we have already published extensively on this topic in the article Race, Class, and Stratification, we will not exhaust the topic here.
Following a basically progressive view on the need for whites to take up the struggle against white chauvinism, the reader is met with some concerning and unsubstantiated views of MRP:
“These communities [the white petty bourgeoisie] have an implicit unity with imperialism because their high standard of life is a direct result of imperialist super-exploitation of the Third World.”
This is superficial. There are white communities, which are not bought up in any sense (and lack “a high standard of life”), which in spite of this remain strongholds for white chauvinism. Here, due to the low subjective level of the revolutionary movement, the white petty bourgeoisie and labor aristocracy sides more with the imperialist bourgeoisie. Appalachia for instance, has no shortage of racism and white chauvinism among some, some of whom are literally the poorest people in the US. They are themselves barely above third world standards in the rural areas, and the corporations which extract natural resources like coal do not contribute anything back into the local community, needless to say if domestic corporations are not increasing living standards, imperialism is not either, not in any meaningful way. We have investigated these conditions and observed firsthand the devastating poverty, there is no trickledown effect mythical to Reagonomics or “Net-exploitation” as insisted by the likes of Third-Worldists. This is partially due to the fact that imperialist ideology, like revolutionary ideology, exist in imbalanced struggle, not dependent on one or another’s ability to purchase the masses, but on the power struggle generally (i.e. the lack of a strong Marxist movement in the US particularly at point of production struggles, which alone is capable of breaking through trade union consciousness and the all-American mythos).
What is existing in these regions is a strong ideology of imperialism inherited from colonialism and past down over generations—the American mythology many have been born and raised on. This has been temporarily weakened in some moments of heightened struggle. While sometimes, the existence of labor aristocracy does increase and ensure white chauvinism, as is remarkably evident in the history of the AFL-CIO bureaucracy, such chauvinism still exists among those reaping no financial benefit from imperialism. This disagreement should not be controversial, and so it would be best to consider it an oversite rather than a major point of contention. Reality is not as simple as MRP presents. There are whites who have a lower standard of living than some non-white populations, but these exceptions do not mitigate or do away with white chauvinism and general stratification of the class. It is correct to reject that these people are awarded an improved social status via living conditions in all cases while accepting that in some cases, something like this does take place. While of course, relying on the importance of demarcating between the general and particular labor aristocracies, highlighted in Race, Class, and Stratification.
The MRP document states:
“When we talk about revolution, we should not hide the fact that we are talking about waging an all-out revolutionary war against the fascist-imperialist system. The fascist-imperialist Amerikan (sic) government, allied with international finance monopoly capital, is already waging war against the world’s people.”
MRP fails to deliver an at all accurate or reliable definition of either fascism or imperialism, making the all too common mistake of conflating the two by understanding any form of extreme reaction as fascist, and situating fascism as only a question of extreme reaction. This leads them to the less common error, which is claiming that the US today is fascist. This is so fantastical that it becomes somewhat difficult to argue against, by the need to diagnose so many illnesses at once. This mistaken view leads to few major problems, the first being the failure to understand that bourgeois democracy itself is reactionary and uses white terror, the second is a failure to understand what a total lack of democracy (fascism) means for economics (corporatization). Also, understanding fascisms treatment of its opposite, Communism, is perhaps the easiest illustration of how the US is not fascist but deeply reactionary bourgeois democracy. As the MRP rely upon later for their arguments against clandestine work—saying that “communism is not illegal”—as a condition which should have warned them away from the amateur argument that the US is already fascist. They make no economic or political argument that the US state has already gone over to fascism, they just state it as an article of faith, failing to meet basic Marxist standards.
While conditions do exist for a fascist mass political movement, it has not taken state power, and the state itself is still bourgeois democratic. This is not to pretend that the bourgeois democracy is still progressive, far from it, it is reactionary and undergoing extreme forms of reactionaization all the time, but it is still not fascism proper. This understanding is one reason Maoists boycott the bourgeois electoral farce—because bourgeois democracy has lost all ability to be anything positive and is a totally reactionary force. Fascism following the Communist definition is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary finance capital, the total erosion or elimination of bourgeois democracy and democratic rights, and the corporate reorganizing of the state. By this definition we can see that the US state is not fascist, but that the fascist germ within it poses a threat and is situating itself to be in the most ideal position, awaiting deeper but inevitable crises. Revolutionaries must educate themselves against the alarmist hysterical views that fascism is inevitable even though imperialist crisis is, as this way of thinking is a losers’ logic which defeats anti-fascism before relying on it. An equally bad argument is that fascism is already here, which makes no distinction between the reactionization of bourgeois democracy and fascism itself. Suffice it to say, you cannot fight either fascism or imperialism if you do not know what they are or cannot identify them.
It is agreeable that the struggles against fascism and imperialism are inseparable, since the crisis of the latter produces the former. Fascism is inherently unstable and so revolutionaries need not fear it but work to understand it and overcome it.
MRP poses the alarmist viewpoint, so common among liberal green activists, that either consumerism or imperialism itself will destroy the entire world, this is a viewpoint alien to Maoism. World destruction is not likely, and such analysis should not be used as a scare tactic to make appeals to socialism. Revolutionaries must affirm that imperialism is barbaric, conditions are already bad enough to make appeals to socialism without relying on the alarmism of pseudo religious doomsday rhetoric.
MRP is correct to state that the forces of imperialism are themselves militarized, more or less following the positions of the PCP in the GPL section titled “On the Construction of the Three Instruments,” which is the most correct description of militarization anywhere, in which all Maoist formulations are derivative. While this article seeks to outline the mistaken views and articulations of the MRP, it would be remiss without recognizing the good and correct parts of it, which serve as a basis for great revolutionary optimism and a hope to find unity on the places where we agree—only the militarized MLM Communist Party is able to seize power from US imperialism.
MRP considers the masses to be desensitized, however the great rebellions of the masses all over the world, not excluding the US, serves as proof that they are the real heroes and not desensitized nor void of righteous anger toward capitalism and imperialism. While it is good and correct to consider the imperialist superstructure and its role in counter-revolution, it is a misstep to understand this as having effectively desensitized the masses, for every step the revolution must take, it must take with the masses, and militarization of the Party does not change this fact. In fact, it is the leading part of the militarization of the masses, the sea of armed masses which will be the bulwark against capitalist restoration upon the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the continuation of socialist revolution. MRP have yet to provide their views on Cultural Revolution, this could be an oversite or due to the urgency they feel in expressing other matters, but it ends up being a shortcoming nonetheless as it is so critical to Maoism and militarization of the Party.
MRP is correct to insist on militarization in order to fight and win, yet the position they provide is incomplete in understanding militarization. According to the PCP, “concentric construction is the organic fulfillment of Party militarization” and there are very important implications to this great and correct formula. Militarization goes into the organizational and political realms and is not simply a military precaution, which is not to assert that MRP has any major disagreement with this, but their oversight in addressing the question of concentric construction requires mention. The fact is that the militarized party carries out its mass work through its army, and this stands as an organizational question as well. MRP write that:
“Additionally, mass work should be viewed as a means to develop and train the People’s Army. When the People’s Army is finally developed sufficiently, it can lead the expansion and consolidation of revolutionary base areas”
Of course fighters who follow orders develop in mass work they also carry out the mass work of the communist organization. This nuance is valuable and important. As far as leading to the expansion and consolidation of base areas, this is true, but only after these base areas have been conquered in guerrilla zones. This distinction is quite important, and one of the biggest demarcations between Maoists and the “base building tendency” as well as the revisionists who call themselves “MCP-OC” and dress the same reformist views with Maoist sounding jargon. Essentially militarization goes beyond the question of how communists fight, into how they organize and the question is itself a political question.
MRP’s strategy for mass work
MRP begin the first humble attempt at steps in demarcating themselves from the falsified Maoists:
“We reject the economism and strategic bankruptcy of FTP and instead have developed a program which, if implemented correctly, can result in laying the groundwork for the construction of revolutionary base areas.”
While there are many agreements to be had with MRP’s assessment of FTP and the Winstonites, it is highly concerning that what appears to be one of their economist formulations is surviving still in MRP’s iteration. Suffice it to say that mass work alone will never “construct revolutionary base areas” and that these can only be conquered by force of arms, in order to at all qualify for the Maoist definition of a base area (a thing inseparable from people’s war). Of course, mass work can and must increase in militancy to develop the kind of fighters and supporters essential to the gaining influence, or mass support (by means of struggle against enemies) and power in the form of base areas (by means of people’s war). That is to say, that mass work can result in an increase in mass support and well it should, but that armed struggle alone can develop and grow this support into the conquest of base areas where dual power is established and the new state is constructed against the old. In past articles, “All About that Base? No Struggle?” our journal has taken on the deformed ideas of the Marxist Center, exposing these as mere reformist legalism with no revolutionary content, they did not respond but the article has helped influenced the revolutionaries formerly within MC to delve deeper into Maoism, this is great. In our past article “Maoism in the US” we took on the falsified Maoist, highlighting that while their rhetoric differs the same issues dominate their movement as the ones thwarting MC, the falsified Maoists lack the wherewithal to reply to our document, and they have now split with the best leaving the worst, so it is only hopeful that the MRP can develop the study of these articles and consider the lines put forward, they are more advanced that the falsified Maoists, and more courageous than the MC reformists, and this is cause for optimism.
It would be useful for MRP comrades to demarcate some between what they call a “mass project,” a “mass organization,” and a “front.” While speculation here would not be helpful, only limited conclusions can be drawn from what is put forward. Would a “mass project” include the masses, would it have its own democratic centralism, leading bodies, dues paying members, etc.? If it does all these things, would it grow into a mass organization, or remain a project, and what gives it the character of a project and not organization? MRP insists upon operating a project instead of an organization but leave a lot of guesswork in their wake.
Their first point in the “strategy for mass work” section is the concept of serving the people, in which MRP lists a lot of correct activities that can serve the people. Yet in their formulation, serving the people is being reduced only to service programs, and this poses the danger of right opportunism. For Mao, serving the people mainly meant politics, and politics (those of confronting the peoples enemies—IE Marxism) are put in command of all programs. MRP presents a negative view of the masse with their conception that the people are more (or only) likely to listen to those who provide them with goods and services than they are those who do not, our worry, and forgive us if we have undue worry here, is that this viewpoint considers the masses as purchasable.
Only some of the intermediate masses will not listen until they get some material goods out of it, while the most advanced (who are the first to be consolidated in the mass line sequence) have good faith and optimism when encountering genuine revolutionaries. If you are engaged in a site of struggle, say housing or against a boss or predatory business, the masses will become more active than they will in service programs alone. So a better understanding is that service programs should be auxiliary and serving the people whole heartedly is with a comprehensive political program and most importantly with revolutionary action. The masses will most unite with those who organize to fight their recognized enemies, and this is in their class interests, they will refrain or stand down from a fight just because they were not provided free groceries or clothing and repairs, etc. Service programs cannot be taken as the departure point, this is economism and productivism which negates keeping the class struggle as the key link and both the falsified Maoists and many sections of anarchists fall prey to this thinking, it is imperative that the MRP do not remain in this morass now that they have stood up and crawled from the pit of Winstonite deviation. Their views on serving the people align somewhat with their views on imperialism buying up the proletariat, for the MRP whoever has the most purchasing power, and the willingness to court the masses with commodities will win out. This backward view forecloses revolution and sidelines politics. This view of “serving the people” is alien to Maoism, it does not derive from Mao’s teachings, but is reminiscent of the “Hungarian Thaw” and the policies of János Kádár.
Their second point like their first one tends to understand who our friends are, but not get into who our enemies are and so it presents service programs as the main stay to get people to fight, in reality things are the other way around, like the committees run in the 30’s by the CP doing service programs, these were most needed to sustain mass activity in class conflict, such as strikes and occupations etc. and not a means to work up to confronting the enemy. Thus, the MRP formula underestimates the masses and their willingness to rebel, this kind of assessment informs the masses too, as to who is fit and unfit to lead their numerous struggles.
The publicly detailed experiences of Serve The People Los Angeles also confirms this, they began (in our understanding) by following similar lines put forward by MRP in point 1 and 2, and were successful in getting the people they served to become more active in service, however this was not so easy to translate into confronting enemies, and it was found that it mostly reduced to charity until the line was modified. Now that it has been, the role of service programs have been reduced and restricted to auxiliaries and the main focus has become organizing numerous workers housing complexes and confronting the police or the landlord or both as well as ICE and other various enemies of the people. This is to illustrate concerns about the theory put forward by MRP, and to hopefully help comrades not find out the same thing as STPLA the hard way, or cause unnecessary delay in applying the lessons derived from the practice of others, and to be clear, this is not stated to dismiss the usefulness of service programs, as auxiliaries they should be even more numerous than mass organizations which must come to exist in the thousands—all led by the singular CP. Service programs are therefore a means to sustain active class struggle, not a means to convince people of what they already know.
It could be assumed a matter of wording and not intent, but the third point of MRP that of political education indicates that they will be teaching the masses and it forgets to mention that the masses will first be teaching them! We believe this is a principle we all should agree on, derived from Mao, to first learn from and then to teach the people. Revolutionaries must always rely on the creativity of the masses and view them as the real heroes. Point three while less objectionable, is leaving a few things to assumption, mainly it falls short of understanding trade union consciousness and the need to teach people to fight beyond the limits which it imposes on their struggle. This point is also not that controversial and likely another oversight due to newness and not deliberate.
On point four “Build the Peoples Council”, the main issue is with the MRP slogan: “Only the People know their problems – Only the People know how to solve them!” this does not highlight the role of revolutionary ideology or the Party or the theory which the Party relies upon. It tails far behind the masses. First the people only understand aspects of the problem, they know the problem as workers do, but lack Marxism, and hence they only know how to solve certain problems as workers and not as professional revolutionaries do. This is not to diminish their greatest role, or to overblow Marxism to be able to solve these problems on its own without working deeply among the masses. To insist (as MRP does) that the people alone knew their problems and how to solve them, is to insist that they would not need Marxism or the CP. Thus the position of MRP, by putting such a slogan forward, is intentionally or unintentionally a rightist slogan which liquidates the role of professional revolutionaries by tailing the consciousness of the masses. Better study of Lenin’s masterpiece “What is to be Done?” remedies such mistaken views.
“People’s Councils” is not a Maoist term but a rebranding of the term People’s Committee (used in both China and Peru), it sounds on the surface as if the concept put forward by MRP is similar to the one put forward by the PCP in the General Political Line regarding the People’s Committees in the countryside and the Struggle Committees for the cities. A difference in essence necessitates a difference in name, yet MRP again, do not deliver a proper theoretical demarcation of the differences or why they seek to rebrand theoretical concepts. People’s Committees form the basis of the New State-Front, they are run by Commissioners with a rule of three thirds and that they are clandestine at first, working to become open. These are critical to base areas and it is indeed a great development that MRP are thinking along these lines, even if for some reason, they do not explain the changing of Committee to Council. With its shortcomings, their argument, at least in this part, is one which goes beyond the old Marxist Center concept of “base building for dual power.” Further explanation and more importantly practical development of their conceptions will only assist the struggles and discussions which must take place within the broad movement for revolution.
Point five “Mobilize the Masses into Open Conflict with the Capitalist-Imperialist System” is mainly agreeable, what is concerning is that they put this point as number five and did not make it point one, which they should have. This activity will help to make peoples committees and without it they will emerge not as peoples committees but as reformist neighborhood groups which do not consolidate the advanced. As MRP mentioned, all of the points have a relationship with the others, with this understanding it is still important to stress Mao’s principle that all things grow from the barrel of guns. This can be understood in non-armed conflict as the dialectical materialist truth that everything precedes through conflict, struggle, confrontation, and upheaval. As Lenin taught, it is our practical activity which determines the type of organization we will make:
“Rabocheye Dyelo’s assertions, which we have analyzed, that the economic struggle is the most widely applicable means of political agitation and that our task now is to lend the economic struggle itself a political character, etc., express a narrow view, not only of our political, but also of our organizational tasks. The ‘economic struggle against the employers and the government’ does not at all require an all-Russia centralized organization, and hence this struggle can never give rise to such an organization as will combine, in one general assault, all the manifestations of political opposition, protest, and indignation, an organization that will consist of professional revolutionaries and be led by the real political leaders of the entire people. This stands to reason. The character of any organization is naturally and inevitably determined by the content of its activity.” [our emphasis]
Meaning that, if confrontations are relegated to a later date, organizations steeled in confrontation will not be the result, but the type of organizations which are poorly equipped for facing the inevitable confrontations. This position of Lenin has been confirmed in the US Maoist movement already, not by virtue of intellect, but by having already made the mistakes MRP is making now.
On point six, of MRP’s section on mass work, “Form the Mass Fighting Organizations” the conception they put forward is to turn mass organizations into fighting organizations as the name implies. But this is incorrect or unnecessary since mass organizations in most cases can be constructed as both from the start and advance as both, over time improving themselves. For Maoists, mass organizations are for the purpose of carrying out class struggle. In short, all mass organizations are fighting organizations in different capacities, if they fight for the interest of the masses under revolutionary leadership. They must fight in different ways according to their ability (indeed their purpose) from the very start; this does not denounce the need for even liberal or legalist mass organizations for fulfilling certain tasks of the movement, while insisting that the majority of Maoist led mass organizations must be combative in class struggle in order to fulfil their purpose. When MRP states that:
“Eventually, the enemy will not wish to concede or accept demands being made by the masses. This stage can come at any time, and so preparations for it must be made immediately. If the enemy refuses to concede, then, further escalation must be carried out.”
This claim comes after the MRP have mistakenly called the US state “fascist,” consider for a moment how farcical it is to conceive of a fascist government capable of making concession to the demands of the masses! The fact is, even under bourgeois democracy, the enemy has already and for a long time proven itself to hate the people, to refuse to even grant them living conditions fit for human beings, let alone granting concessions without being forced to in violent struggle. In fact, bourgeois democracy is so reactionary that it scales back all past concessions won by the workers as soon as it can. The enemy already refuses to concede and has this vile character throughout history, so this objective condition has been met already and so revolutionaries must construct, without hesitation and from the very start, “mass organizations” which are at the same time “fighting organizations.” The formulation provided by these comrades makes a mistake, that is, it underestimates the masses, and overestimates the enemy, which runs like a thread throughout their positions. The state is fascist, willing at this time to grant concessions without a fight, the masses are desensitized, but already have all the solutions to their problems, communists must be led and directed by non-communist outside organizations in the “united front” which they lose all initiative, they are a “committee to constitute” “a” Maoist Party and at the same time a Party! And etc. Their theory is misguided and confusing, contradicting and opposing itself at each step.
The position that non-fighting organizations must be converted into fighting organizations on the enemy’s initiative is also rot with rightism. It must be mentioned here that mass organizations themselves must be diverse and some will not focus on fighting like others might. But the many organizations which do fight, must not wait on being attacked by the enemy and fall into passive defense, they must be trained and steeled in actual class struggle, and not function as charities. It stands to reason that some of the conservative views imparted by their old organization will continue for some time in the MRP, it is the goal of this article to challenge those by exposing them, so that the comrades can correct them and blossom.
The following conception put forward by MRP is faulty:
“The Mass Fighting Organization (MFO) must be formed to carry out more direct and antagonistic actions against the enemy. Everything from material to personnel damage should be considered, but simply presenting a show of armed and organized force at a rally or obstruction event might be enough to win a demand.”
In other words, posturing with arms against the “already fascist” enemy “might be enough” to win demands according to MRP! This view is childish to the point of being outright dangerous to the revolutionary struggle.
Direct action and confronting enemies is done already by mass organizations, but it is critical to stress that these are no stand in or replacement for the need to develop a people’s army in embryo. For more advanced attack and defense Mao was 100 times correct when he says, “without a people’s army the people have nothing” the mass organizations cannot be counted on alone to provide communists with an army, the communists must conscientiously construct it as they struggle to reconstitute their Party.
There are clear pitfalls and absolute danger of “open carry” or a “show of armed force,” from a logistical and tactical perspective. It is simply a grave mistake to ever let the enemy know of revolutionary arms, especially if for a communist, because whatever small victory is perceived in these antics, the harm outweighs it in the long term. Mao, drawing lessons from Sun Tzu was totally correct in instruction that weapons and warhorses should be hidden until the moment of battle, meaning hot use and not empty display, the latter proves to be chest thumping and is a horrible tactical mistake with long term consequences. While it is not the position of a theoretical journal to tell an independent political organization what to do or not to do, it is important that this position must be considered with the seriousness it deserves and not be taken lightly. Maoist strategy does not rely on a show of false power to cow the enemy, Maoist strategy understands the relationship between the enemies on ourselves, and takes this seriously. In a confounding reversal, MRP bounces back and forth the between dramatic overestimation of the enemy, and dramatic underestimation, with no balanced and sober assessment. This is a dangerous immaturity which will be their end if they follow such a course. They put this forward while simultaneously arguing for the foolish concept of an open and above ground CP, which we will get into shortly.
As per the further militarization, proletarianization, steeling of the mass organizations, there is much to agree with the MRP on, as well as many disagreements on how to go about this. The Maoist movement has long established a reputation for physical and mental discipline which goes beyond the standards of the legal left in any country it exists, so we will not discuss this further.
The MRP puts forward another confounding point:
“The MRP intends to focus on consolidation over expansion. A few blocks could potentially become the nucleus of a strong base area in a city.”
Without a national fully functioning Party and around it constructed an army and united front, waging people’s war, there will be no real base areas. While consolation of the advanced is a good and correct starting point, there has to be a relationship to expanding the reach and influence, or the local work will end up suffering long term. Perhaps this is beyond the scope of any one organization right now, but it stresses the need to combine the active Maoists under one singular banner—MLM, with a single democratic centralism and following a single program, centralized politically and strategically, decentralized tactically. This is true even before the reconstitution of the Party is complete. Many small consolidated areas can expand through such a course and be ten times stronger and more potent politically. MRP suffers from localism as a consequence of their lack of reach, instead of working to overcome this lack, by taking the need to unify seriously; they justify the lack with a theoretical distortion, with localism and independent kingdom thinking. Again, “base areas” cannot exist outside of people’s war, and should these only “exist” in one or two neighborhoods, they would be decimated. Even before people’s war, such localism is voluntary self-imposed isolation, a veritable political ad-seg.
The following MRP formulation confuses technicality for reality and form for essence:
“We believe that we should take advantage of the fact that being a Communist is not illegal. Therefore, we are comfortable openly promoting the Party through the course of our mass work.”
This is presented to the very same readers who have already been told the US is a fascist state, now we are expected to think a fascist state somehow accepts the legal status of communists!
This is possibly the most mistaken point presented by MRP, that the Party enjoys legal status so can organize openly, a cliff they must be won away from at all costs. While it is true that technically being a communist is not illegal, in practice actually behaving like a communist is illegal. Under reactionary bourgeois democratic laws, it is legal to claim to be a communist, to self-identify as one or be part of a legalist organization that claims to be communist. This is not contested. Now when it comes to being a real communist, in essence, not just in self-identification, but to think and act like a communist to be a revolutionary in every sense of the word, is to become criminalized. There is no shortage of history and court records to prove this. So it is not enough to trust the imperialist to maintain the façade of his own law, when it is known that he essentially double deals. The enemy is again underestimated here, while the comrades profess the tactic of posturing with arms to force concessions, they simultaneously rely on a honey pot of legalism and the idea that the enemy will uphold his own laws, they ignore the current and past history of red busting, the legacy of COINTELPRO, and the extrajudicial killings of revolutionaries, anarchists and communists going back hundreds of years in the US.
It is important to again follow Lenin on this point and assure that a phony legal party is not slipped in dressed up as the Communist Party (MLM and militarized), Lenin stated that:
“in order to unite all these tiny fractions into one whole, in order not to break up the movement while breaking up its functions, and in order to imbue the people who carry out the minute functions with the conviction that their work is necessary and important, without which conviction they will never do the work, it is necessary to have a strong organization of tried revolutionaries. The more secret such an organization is, the stronger and more widespread will be the confidence in the Party.” [emphasis ours]
This concept is valid, regardless of the conditions of the illusions of legality or the open hostility of autocracy. It must be understood that while “communism” is not illegal, communism is. Lenin further explains that:
“We call the German Socialist Party a democratic organization because all its activities are carried out publicly; even its party congresses are held in public. But no one would call an organization democratic that is hidden from everyone but its members by a veil of secrecy. What is the use, then, of advancing ‘the broad democratic principle’ when the fundamental condition for this principle cannot be fulfilled by a secret organization?”
Clearly, carrying out public functions allows for broad democracy and secrecy is in contradiction with this, the MRP claim they stand for Party militarization, but by having a very superficial view of it, fail to understand that the militarized organization, necessarily means being a secrete organization, that means rejecting the “broad democratic principle” exposed by Lenin, for the secrecy of the determined revolutionary Party.
The comfort level of the MRP, their overconfidence, to put it bluntly, is directly connected to their inexperience. We mean no offense with this claim, MRP will learn by doing, even if they choose to discount or toss out our views, experience is a harsh teacher at times.
An open Party leads to only to legalism and reformism and there is no shortage of these in the US. No one needs a watered down “Maoist” version, which already exist too, and MRP has split with them rightly. There are ways which the communist organization can take advantage of bourgeois legality but the open party is not one of them. For instance, being open to the masses and closed to the state is a Maoist principle for this reason; in times of legal status the enemy is collecting membership lists and all data through official and unofficial channels, ready to kill the organization (and it’s leading organizers) at the first sign of the organization becoming illegal (or effective for that matter). This is to defend what Stalin and Lenin said when they argued that all legal work serves to strengthen and develop illegal work. so this means, theoretically that all members and cadres would be secret but the Party line would be made clear to the masses through the mass work, organizationally secrete, politically speaking—hegemonic in a site of struggle. Compare the teachings of Stalin as follows to the opinions of the MRP:
“The revolutionary will accept a reform in order to use it as an aid in combining legal work with illegal work to intensify, under its cover, the illegal work for the revolutionary preparation of the masses for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie.”
Instead of using legal work to intensify and give cover to illegal work, MRP expressed the opposite viewpoint, that legal work is an end of itself, without mentioning its relationship to clandestine work, and illegal work, what they promote is not an organization open to the masses and closed to the state, but an organization of 100 fools, exactly the type of social-democratic formation denounced by Leninism, MRP says:
“We should take advantage of this legality to recruit and build. The masses should be aware of who we are and why we’re doing what we do. We shouldn’t be afraid of them, but should explain to them and demonstrate our reasoning in practice.”
“What is to be done?”, warns against such thinking, Lenin responding with sharpness to the writer Ivanovo-Voznesensk, writes, and we must quote at length:
“The facts are described correctly. The picture of our amateurism is well drawn. But the conclusions are worthy of Rabochaya Mysl, both as regards their stupidity and their lack of political tact. They represent the height of stupidity, because the author confuses the philosophical and social-historical question of the ‘depth’ of the ‘roots’ of the movement with the technical and organizational question of the best method in combating the gendarmes. They represent the height of political tactlessness, because, instead of appealing from bad leaders to good leaders, the author appeals from the leaders in general to the ‘masses’. This is as much an attempt to drag us back organizationally as the idea of substituting excitative terrorism for political agitation drags us back politically. Indeed, I am experiencing a veritable embarras de richesses, and hardly know where to begin to disentangle the jumble offered up by Svoboda. For clarity, let me begin by citing an example. Take the Germans. It will not be denied, I hope, that theirs is a mass organization, that in Germany everything proceeds from the masses, that the working-class movement there has learned to walk. Yet observe how these millions value their ‘dozen’ tried political leaders, how firmly they cling to them. Members of the hostile parties in parliament have often taunted the socialists by exclaiming: ‘Fine democrats you are indeed! Yours is a working-class movement only in name; in actual fact the same clique of leaders is always in evidence, the same Bebel and the same Liebknecht, year in and year out, and that goes on for decades. Your supposedly elected workers’ deputies are more permanent than the officials appointed by the Emperor!’ But the Germans only smile with contempt at these demagogic attempts to set the ‘masses’ against the ‘leaders’, to arouse bad and ambitious instincts in the former, and to rob the movement of its solidity and stability by undermining the confidence of the masses in their ‘dozen wise men’. Political thinking is sufficiently developed among the Germans, and they have accumulated sufficient political experience to understand that without the ‘dozen’ tried and talented leaders (and talented men are not born by the hundreds), professionally trained, schooled by long experience, and working in perfect harmony, no class in modern society can wage a determined struggle. The Germans too have had demagogues in their ranks who have flattered the ‘hundred fools’, exalted them above the ‘dozen wise men’, extolled the ‘horny hand’ of the masses, and (like Most and Hasselmann) have spurred them on to reckless ‘revolutionary’ action and sown distrust towards the firm and steadfast leaders. It was only by stubbornly and relentlessly combating all demagogic elements within the socialist movement that German socialism has managed to grow and become as strong as it is. Our wiseacres, however, at a time when Russian Social-Democracy is passing through a crisis entirely due to the lack of sufficiently trained, developed, and experienced leaders to guide the spontaneously awakening masses, cry out ,with the profundity of fools: ‘It is a bad business when the movement does not proceed from the rank and file.’”
“’A dozen wise men can be more easily wiped out than a hundred fools.’ This wonderful truth (for which the hundred fools will always applaud you) appears obvious only because in the very midst of the argument you have skipped from one question to another. You began by talking and continued to talk of the unearthing of a ‘committee’, of the unearthing of an ‘organization’, and now you skip to the question of unearthing the movement’s ‘roots’ in their ‘depths’. The fact is, of course, that our movement cannot be unearthed, for the very reason that it has countless thousands of roots deep down among the masses; but that is not the point at issue. As far as ‘deep roots’ are concerned, we cannot be ‘unearthed’ even now, despite all our amateurism, and yet we all complain, and cannot but complain, that the ‘organizations’ are being unearthed and as a result it is impossible to maintain continuity in the movement. But since you raise the question of organizations being unearthed and persist in your opinion, I assert that it is far more difficult to unearth a dozen wise men than a hundred fools. This position I will defend, no matter how much you instigate the masses against me for my ‘anti-democratic’ views, etc. As I have stated repeatedly, by ‘wise men’, in connection with organization, I mean professional revolutionaries, irrespective of whether they have developed from among students or working men. I assert: (1) that no revolutionary movement can endure without a stable organization of leaders maintaining continuity; (2) that the broader the popular mass drawn spontaneously into the struggle, which forms the basis of the movement and participates in it, the more urgent the need for such an organization, and the more solid this organization must be (for it is much easier for all sorts of demagogues to side-track the more backward sections of the masses); (3) that such an organization must consist chiefly of people professionally engaged in revolutionary activity; (4) that in an autocratic state, the more we confine the membership of such an organization to people who are professionally engaged in revolutionary activity and who have been professionally trained in the art of combating the political police, the more difficult will it be to unearth the organization; and (5) the greater will be the number of people from the working class and from the other social classes who will be able to join the movement and perform active work in it.” [Our emphasis bolded italics original]
MRP asserts that secrecy and professionalism are a “fear” of the masses, the masses of course are to be trusted, they must trust communists as well to build the type of organizations which can fight and survive state repression—the type of organization theorized by Lenin and not the type theorized by MRP.
This means that informants and provocateurs must be weeded out. This is not to fear the masses; it is to understand them in order to provide the needed forms they require to make revolution. The Party is not a “mass party” itself, but a Party with strong mass links, Leninism is clear on this. The masses come to know communists and peoples soldiers through their struggles in the mass work, and they know of Maoism and they come to desire to join; only the best are accepted. Gonzalo puts it like this in his transcendental interview:
“How does this process take place? It starts with how each of the future cadre is forged in the class struggle before joining the Party. Each one participates in the class struggle, advances, and begins to work more closely with us until the time comes when that person on their own makes the big decision of asking to join the Party. The Party analyzes the person’s situation, their strengths and weaknesses– because we all have them–and if worthy, accepts them into the Party. Once in the Party, systematic ideological training begins. It is in the Party that we transform ourselves into communists. It is the Party that makes us into communists. A characteristic of the situation in recent years is that the cadre have been steeled in war. Moreover, those who join become part of a Party that is leading a war, and therefore they do so first and foremost to develop as communists, as fighters in the People’s Guerrilla Army, or administrators, in some cases, in levels of the New State that we are organizing.” [emphasis ours]
Lenin and Gonzalo are profoundly correct on these points and their teachings are universally applicable. Understanding that communism being technically legal is a formality, revolutionary communist practice is criminalized. If the organization does not seek any involvement in parliamentary tactics, then it has no need to be that open, for the Maoist Party, it is better to focus on being genuinely revolutionary in essence, which demands secrecy, instead of bridling this with reliance on unreliable bourgeois law. To underestimate the enemy is a mistake. The Party is open to the masses by being in the struggle and getting closer to the most advanced, turning only the most capable and qualified into communists, when they chose on their own to join. This trusts the masses correctly and no one can say Lenin or Gonzalo feared the masses. And even though Lenin was writing in conditions of Autocracy, Gonzalo understood the corrupting influence of legalism, there were numerous legal “Communist Party’s” and organizations in Peru, which claimed to have established an open bourgeois democracy the same year that the PW was initiated.
We find upon examination of MRP’s positions that many of their views are not substantiated in Marxism, but are inherited likely from “common sense” which derives from a background in liberal activism. For Marxists, it is critical that the theoretical basis of our thinking is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and not experience in liberal activism, meaning that our thoughts must derive from MLM and its creative application, and be defended on this basis.
When MRP states:
“We feel that too many ‘Communist’ organizations have front organizations which are only filled with the ranks of their cadre and nobody else”
Who do they mean precisely? Their vestiges of liberalism seem to forbid directness on this point, making it hard to assess its merits. The Maoist conception of the Party as outlined by the PCP is “where the few converge” meaning, most in mass organizations will never be cadres, and few cadres are needed at any point in time, this is a harmonious system with Leninism. A front can be composed of existing activists who are not communists or cadres. This means that a mass organization turns the masses into activists and does not rely mainly on pre-existing activists, while a front does rely on activists. It is no front, let alone mass organization if it is only populated by “cadres” and these “cadres” are not real cadres unless the masses are fused around them. After all, to be a cadre in the real sense, means to be a core organizer surrounded by the masses, something of a spinal column, without this, and the high level of discipline required, whatever you have is not a cadre. There can be no fronts or mass organizations composed solely of cadres.
If such organizations as described by MRP exist, and we believe some revisionists do indeed organize as they describe, they have paper organizations, neither real fronts, nor real mass organizations, nor real cadres. However, open legalism is not the remedy to these defects—revolutionary work and MLM are, and these require secrecy and diligence in class conflict. It would appear, there is some influence of the MC types like Sophia Burns (who similarly denounces “fronts”) on the thinking of the MRP comrades, who would be better without these muddled and bad ideas.
It is the purpose of this article to offer and seek clarity on major and less major disagreements with the MRP, because of the fact that within it, MRP still maintains a positive trajectory, which fills us with optimism for their progress, while stating our disagreements clearly, and at times without pulling punches, we do so while eagerly watching their development. Our journal hoped for a private exchange on these topics, it is one thing to have an incorrect idea, and another to propagate those ideas publically, so each deserves its own type of response. The original document we created had to be elaborated and re-written for a broad audience after MRP made the decision to opt for a public exchange.
We have tried to be as charitable in our views as possible and proceed in a good faith engagement, but we would derelict our duties if we were to pretend such differences were not severe, if we were to relax on our view that carrying out the political line and theory of the MRP to its conclusion would mean anything other than self-liquidation, or liquidation by the enemy. For the sake of revolutionary struggle, and the struggle for a unified revolutionary movement, we put our ideas forward, to help and not to harm, nonetheless, such damaging and confused views must be stomped out and not allowed to take root, ones intention is only a secondary consideration to the consequence of their line. While we seek to help and not harm, we make no apologies for our tone, or bluntness. Sometimes cutting out the sickness to save the patient is painful, an invasive procedure.
Our journal challenges MRP to earn the name Maoist, to earn the title of Party and to be truly revolutionary in all their thinking, by breaking with their bad ideas, through contending with the ideas of the established and proven Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, principally Maoist movement. For the sake of a single will, a unified and recognized Communist Party, that disdains to hide its views and correctly asserts its program to achieve luminous communism! In this spirit, we issue the same challenge as the Communist Manifesto: Proletarians of all countries, unite!