By Struggle Sessions Editorial Board
After sending direct private criticism and more than two weeks without reply from the “Six Heads Study Circle” we have determined to publish our amended letter to them, since direct struggle over our differences was not possible we have chosen to publish our criticism in the hopes that it corrects mistaken ideas shared by others. It is no good to have a study group which fails to engage with direct criticism, it is no good to exist in a bubble without linking with others in the same fight.
We have just become aware of your project and have shared one of the videos you produced on the “Seattle Commune” which we have stated our disagreements with already.
We will instead focus our criticism on other topics. Your video “fuck left unity” is amateurish in a few respects, which compromise your ability to propagate Maoism accurately and responsibly. Beginning with the title, linguistically cursing with words like “fuck” objectively tail the masses and show immaturity of the propagandists. While we understand use of popular slogans like “fuck the police,” etc. we still find these to be tailist, as they convey simple disapproval of a thing, and not a revolutionary oriented solution to the thing being opposed. There is a dialectical relationship between positive and negative. In war, for example, this plays out in the destruction construction contradiction.
It is infantile and anarchistic to only talk of smashing this or that, the revolutionary view comprehends that the destruction of the old society is principally confirmed in the construction of the new. We mention this to encourage more thought out titles, and to warn against populism which unintentionally tails behind the masses. Problems of “Left Unity” would have been a more mature and revolutionary title, as it already implies the role of the leadership in solving these problems and does not resort to cursing or epithets. It is obvious that the US proletariat curses. This however is mostly an emotional stand in for a lack of ability to articulate complex frustrations and contradictions, it is casual and not the standard that Marxists must strive for. The role of the Marxist is this, the ability to scientifically articulate and summarize such complexity. This means not mincing words, and not taking casual positions or being loose with language. Those who would take up the banner of MLM should stand in accordance with Mao’s principles, of being honest, upright, and decent. Our language and propaganda should convey this.
Secondly the production quality of the same video is low, we do not guess at the reasons for this and just suggest honing your craft or sourcing funding for better equipment. The audio quality makes the video difficult to hear in the first place, and in the second this is made worse using background music and other noise. This will surely cost you listeners and make it hard for the committed to retain what you are saying. The use of music should be sparing without compromising what the speaker is saying.
The video editing does not help, as the viewer is now listening to the background music and compromising the audibility of the speaker, while also reading subtitles of what Chairman Gonzalo is saying. These three things at once bombard your viewers but can be corrected with due diligence and better study of propaganda. This involves consciously making each decision in ways that improve your propaganda, with thinking and planning.
We encourage learning through the three methods described by Mao, that is first that you learn from doing, from your experience producing such material which will allow you in turn to improve each production. Secondly, you do this through study and scientific experiment, that is to say through paying attention to other propaganda-educational videos produced by Communist organizations and borrowing tips and techniques from the best in order to apply them to your own resources and experience. Lastly and most importantly, you must improve through class struggle, which includes two-line struggle, which we open here for your consideration. Debating these things, exchanging criticism, and self-criticism are good ways forward. Class struggle also means seeking accountability and criticism from those you support who follow the same ideology. In this case we specifically mean Struggle Sessions or Tribune of the People, both national organizations with proven experience and credibility. It is disappointing and honestly unthinkable that you have taken up our ideology and never attempted to establish contact. Desiring unity and struggling for it are basic principles of Maoism. We are not anarchists; we do not exist in our own individualized compartments.
We had to come across your project by happenstance. You knew of us, but we did not know of you. We are very glad to have found your project and find much of its content to be interesting and correct, but we would have liked the option to show our support and offer criticism sooner. We are established and you are not but consider all serious Maoists our comrades and equals. We can improve our work together and are stronger as one.
Other issues which showcase amateurishness is the tone of the propaganda, involving the use of memes which depict our beloved Chairman Mao as a glowing eyed wrathful god, which is both inappropriate and unscientific. It panders towards sect-like cultural oddity and does not portray our ideology in the way that we must for it to become the command and guide of the world revolution. We all have a responsibility to carry out the final directives of Chairman Gonzalo which he issued in his transcendental speech in 1992, and you must ask yourselves, does your presentation conform to this or make mockery of it? We believe you take Maoism seriously and expect serious presentations instead of edgy and childish memes which make jokes of the greatest Communist of all time.
We have shared your project, and understand that we do not have to agree with all aspects to support it enthusiastically, we only hope that you take this in good faith and understand our well-meaning criticism is intended to make your work (which we are excited about!) even better. We hope that you fulfill your role in an upstanding, serious, and principled way. We do not hope to lend credibility to anything fraudulent or willfully childish. We do not believe this is the case, we are optimistic that you will rise to the occasion and become as mature and serious as the times require.
We also want to challenge your claim that the DSA includes “Marxist-Leninists.” This is false, we ask that you understand that revisionists are not, and never were, Marxist-Leninist. This conflation besmirches the history of Maoism, which is Marxism-Leninism today. Maoists are the only Marxist-Leninists today, those who use this title inappropriately are but sham revisionists, they are no Marxist-Leninists. Comrade Stalin was a true Marxist-Leninist, as well as Chairman Mao, there is no possible way that you can suggest any members of DSA truly qualify for this prestigious mantle! We are Marxist-Leninists because we are Marxist-Leninist-Maoists and being principally Maoist does not mean that we leave the mantle of Marxism-Leninism to the rats in the scrapheap of the DSA. Do not make such a concession to revisionism, if we do not call them Communists, we must not call them ML either. Likewise, there are no genuine anarchists in the DSA, as the ones who claim anarchism have already eradicated their principles for the sake of a bourgeois party of the old type, and its cooperation with the state. We despise the petty bourgeois ideology of anarchism and we oppose it, but we must be clear on what it is and what it is not. There are no genuine anarchists true to their ideals inside of the DSA, we know that is not possible. These terms, anarchist or Marxist-Leninist, have concrete meanings, and to be one is not a matter of self-identification as such.
You have likewise ceded the term Communist to the revisionists in the so-called “CPUSA” who are neither Communists nor a real Party. We remind you of the importance of the title of Communist Party and not to refer to revisionists as such without the use of methods to denounce them, i.e. using “so-called” or the use of quotations when being written. Maoists have this responsibility because we can never allow the revisionist to maintain ownership over the title Communist Party, as if that were just a name and nothing more. We must not cede the name ever, not out of convenience, negligence, or habit. We do not assume this mistake was intentional, but it should be pointed out.
While DSA is loose ideologically they have a national structure and operate more like a corporation than they do a loose ideology like “Antifa.” The assessment in the video underestimates the DSA as a well-financed group with profiteers at the top of it. It makes them seem like a more appealing, membership friendly group than they are. It also makes their sordid history a matter of personal views or individual mistakes within a very diverse group of views, when in fact their social fascism has been charted within our publication. They follow a backward ideology from the top, and of course they allow almost anyone to join, provided they have no power to challenge the main politics of the organization.
The need to make DSA an example of the “left unity” they espouse conceals the fact that their organization is still dominated by a central line of reformism veiled in class conciliation. This exposes a subjectivist error in your analysis that is linked to a lack of thoroughgoing investigation and your taking things at face value. You aim to provide political education to your viewers from a Maoist position, but from this point, we insist that you take the Marxist approach of considering the internal contradictions.
There is another mistake, that the goal of Maoism is to build “mass power,” which we believe to be an unintentional liquidation of class power. The US is an imperialist country, and “mass” speaks to several classes, specifically the proletariat at its helm and its allies. However, no Maoist expressed that the socialist revolution puts the masses in power, we are not for a joint dictatorship except for in New Democratic revolutions. For socialist revolutions, the thing is the dictatorship of the proletariat and no other class is to share in power.
This is in the objective interests of the allied classes, who will be proletarianized. Class power is the proletarian dictatorship, which cannot be confused for a joint dictatorship. This is a defection from creative application of MLM and an understanding of the concrete conditions and the specific revolutionary stage that the US must undergo. It is not proper to just repeat terms from third world struggles disregarding the specific demands of socialist revolution.
The amateurish titles continue with “How I learned to Love Sectarianism,” and while this may be tongue and cheek, it still presents a major stereotypical error by rehabilitating one of the three ill winds Mao discusses. We know that the three will winds are subjectivism, sectarianism, and stereotyped party writing. These things are to be condemned and eradicated, or one will succumb to revisionism. Sectarianism is not funny, nor is it something to be embraced even for the sake of humor, it is a major error that the immature suffers from. It is correct to be a thoroughgoing anti-revisionist, but this is not the same thing as a sectarian. Being a sectarian is the same as being a revisionist, we know instead that Maoists are not sectarian they are simply anti-revisionist! No one should love, or joke about loving, a thing that we know is poison to the movement of the working class.
Sectarianism is to put the interests of the few above the interests of the whole, and above the interests of the class. If this is preferable to you, then sadly you have already abandoned the task at hand. We refuse to believe this and press upon you to correct the course and understand the matter of sectarianism as Mao and Lenin taught. What class does sectarianism serve and what ideology is it rooted in? The interests of the few at the expense of the many is alien to the proletariat.
The final major shortcoming is that real unity and necessary unity is not given enough attention. Communists and in fact all revolutionaries (even those who have not earned the title of Communist) must concern themselves with the fact that the people are not united enough, that the proletariat in the US is also divided, and that unity must be forged. It also does not explain what is and is not the “Left.” The real left of course exists, but it is dispersed between the left wings of various peoples organizations, revolutionary, and Maoist organizations, all those who are working daily and by the minute to reconstitute the Communist Party of the USA are the real left as well as the glorious masses who make rebellion like no other force in US history. Of course in that way we champion left unity.
What your video inevitably does is cede the term “left” to many on the right and the center, who are not in any way genuine leftists. The demarcation between the left and right are those fighting for proletarian interests and not others. So, what the so-called left-unitarians are on about is not left unity but uniting the center and the right against the far-right in the interests of the bourgeois liberal democrats like modern Mensheviks. They subordinate the proletarians interests to the interests of the demo-liberal-bourgeoisie and hence are not leftists at all. We Maoists are the left! The most advanced among the people are part of the left! We must unite these and show that the others are false leftists with the interests of class conciliation and social peace. Only the Party can forge all the divided elements into the United Front.
We consider many of these disagreements to be situated within many more agreements and have chosen to focus on where we disagree with the assumption that we both understand where we agree. As we have stated we are enthusiastic about your work and hope to help it develop in an all around way.
We issue our comradely greetings and invite you into this discussion so that we can all do our part for a stronger movement.
Comrades, nothing is impossible if we are prepared to assault the heavens!
Solidarity and respect,
Struggle Sessions Editorial Board
We thank the comrades at Six Heads Study Group for their prompt response. We are excited to support their work and future development. They have responded in a mature and honest way and we encourage our readers to follow their work. We hope for future collaborative projects between our publications.
Here is their video response.