Voices: A Militant

Note: Luke, a former activist within the Dallas-cult, submitted a criticism of Struggle Sessions on March 1st 2022, at a time when head editor Sig Hausner (Liam Swanson, also known as Connor) had already abandoned the journal and some former contributors were struggling over where to go next. This was just a week before the events beginning on IWWD in which the cult was abolished. Luke has also written a foreword to his criticism to shed more light on his experience with the cult. Personally reading this criticism was incredibly transformative to me at an important time, to recognize that I was supporting the production of misogynistic and transphobic ideas that was connected to a misogynistic and transphobic practice-Rita


The folks running this website have asked to publish a criticism I made of Struggle Sessions in February 2022. I want to first provide some context, some of my newer thoughts, and who I am. The last name I used in political organizing was Luke. I was involved in the Austin-based cult from 2016 until International Working Women’s Day 2022, when the cult was destroyed. I was in close proximity to the majority of the handful who are attempting to revive the cult up until I was forced to move in summer 2020, to conduct work in other cities. I have a petty bourgeois background which was well known by the cult leaders. Before joining the cult, I was a liberal activist. I no longer consider myself a Maoist. I say these things because I want to be straightforward and honest and not pretend to be someone I am not. It’s incorrect for me to falsify my beliefs in order for me to gain the support of my intended audience. That’s what the cult would have asked me to do; I lied for them every day, for all sorts of reasons. I am sick and tired of lying. I have had problems trying to relate and express myself to people who do consider themselves Maoists, and I understand that’s probably primarily because they don’t like to see me “turn my back” on a cause they believe is good. However, I do not believe the cult actually gave me a proper education of Maoism. I believe they misused politics for their own gain; that being notoriety, respect, and recognition from revolutionary organizations and thinkers across the world, as well as a base of supporters that would do anything to keep them housed, fed, and safe. Jared did not imagine that his initial project of RGA, or what it turned into, might gain its own legs and continue on with new and better leadership; whenever he was replaced it was only out of necessity and his replacements were treated as a seatwarmer. Few people were brought up ideologically to serve as these seatwarmers and the rest of us were powerless to replace them until we took the final step of refusing to participate in Jared’s project anymore. Therefore, I do not feel capable of making an argument against the cult within the framework of Maoism, beyond the simple principle that it is wrong to mistreat and abuse the people. This is the only belief necessary to understand the “CR-CPUSA” as a destructive force, opposed to any sort of progressive aims. 

I have to be frank and tell you all that I have not revisited any Struggle Sessions articles, or really much theory at all. I have primarily been focused on understanding why the leaders treated us the ways they did, and why I did not fight back sooner. I started this learning journey with my understanding the cult leaders to be revisionists because they did not uphold the mass line. They despised the people, they did not trust their membership, and they considered their own ideas to be the most ideologically pure without taking the ideas of the people into consideration. Although cult experts generally do not “speak the same language” as those who uphold communism, I found that they were saying the same thing about cult leaders – cult leaders are narcissists who cannot tolerate any challenge to their superiority and entitlement. 

Because my focus has not been on relearning theory I cannot speak to how much I still support the content of my criticism. However, I do still stand by my assertion that Struggle Sessions rarely, if ever, tried answer the questions that were the most pertinent in the minds of people who want to see progress in the world. It took me a long time to notice this, partially because I was made to believe some of these issues were much bigger than they were, and partially because I did not want to make waves. I only made this criticism a few weeks before the cult fell apart, after I had been under significantly less control for over a year. When I read it now, I am shocked to remember how excited I was to write this and to anticipate a response. If I had tried to make these criticisms while I still lived in Austin, I would have been so afraid to hear the response. I would expect verbal mistreatment for it. Yet, because of the security culture and dogmatism, this was the sharpest expression of anger I could take on without being removed entirely. As a reader of Struggle Sessions, I could express rage at their failure to take womens’ struggles seriously. Addressing the actual facts about how they mistreated women could only happen in my clandestine reports as a pre-party member and militant, and my language in those had to be rid of anger, disappointment, and urgency in order to even be heard.

I say all this because I want it to be noted down in plain language, in one spot, that the working methods and actions of the former organizations under the CR-CPUSA umbrella were incompatible with their stated goals of developing cadre, encouraging two line struggle, and cultivating the best and most capable leaders for a revolutionary project. Jared set out to become an ideologue from day one. There is no shame in having great aspirations but there is all the shame and all the blame in putting blinders on and stepping on your comrades to achieve your own individual aspirations. Jared is one of the most shameful things to be. A petty tyrant, ignorant, cowardly, and incapable of introspection or offering sincere apology and self criticism. “Narcissist” is too good for him, as even some narcissists are capable of understanding they lack empathy and aim to understand how their actions harm others. 

I have no more forgiveness for those who have both personally interacted with Jared and also know what transpired under his leadership and still uphold his joke of a “committee” consisting of his fellow petty tyrants and those very few who have chosen loyalty instead of justice. I have no more forgiveness for the International Communist League that chose to invite his delegate to their conference after everything was revealed and merely temporarily deny them membership in the league. Those who gave a damn about what happened have already shown their support for the former members and have reminded me that I am entitled to my rage. I have realized that I was foolish to think that I could ever make these people understand how they hurt us – by the time the organization had to cannibalize itself to end the mistreatment, any possibility for rectification had disappeared.

Over the years, I have lost track of how many times, and in how many ways, I ripped my heart out of my chest, and timidly turned it over to Jared or Chris or others for their consideration. Almost every time, it was met with silence, “it’s not a good time for this,” or “you’re wrong.” I am done. Anyone who claims to want to understand has had their opportunity. I encourage any other former member that is still trying to be heard to believe others when they tell you who they are the first time. The ICL chose a lunatic over the dozens Jared personally mistreated and the hundreds he manipulated into believing in him. 

I have been telling my story this entire past year. There are perhaps others yet to speak up, there are stories that are only half written or whispered, and there are other former members you will never hear from. I understand the motivations behind all these now. I’ve realized it would be a waste of time to keep being vulnerable in front of people who have absolutely no interest in hearing me out. The situation is far simpler than Jared’s allies would like to believe. Jared and Chris knew that my ex tried to rape me, and they did not speak to me about him. They allowed him to continue his leadership roles in a city where he had no supervision and he raped the people he was leading instead of me. They knew he had a problem mistreating those he had power over before all this happened, and they did not seek out professional care for his victims and actually were cold and cruel to them afterwards. This is one incident in a six year period, and very in line with their typical working method. To this day, the only apology or self criticism I received was an “I’m sorry” from Chris, and a “we can’t get too involved in relationships” from Jared, who later forced me out of Texas due to a consensual and healthy relationship he did not approve of. I asked them to look into this situation several more times, including right before the organization was wrecked. Jared took this request and the many others paired with Chris being replaced as his seatwarmer leader, and threw them back in our faces, saying he wouldn’t allow it. These are the facts. I do not need to elaborate on how damaging this was to me and significantly more so to the actual victims. Those who have a heart already understand. 

I wrote the criticism below as a last ditch effort to get the leadership to hear me. In 2021 I had several interactions with Liam, the last leading member of Struggle Sessions, that made me see him as yet another problem element in the leadership promoting misogyny. I could not detail those incidents in this criticism due to our security culture. I do not believe he ever read this, as he had effectively abandoned his post months beforehand. 

In the very last thing I wrote before waking up from the cult’s influence, I was trying to explain why I found it so essential to combat the internal issues immediately, even at the expense of any and all other work. I said, “Do members have an understanding of how shame works? Like would they come to [the mass organizations] about the most severe aspects of their backwards thinking? Do they think [the mass organizations] could solve it? Do they think [the mass organizations are] responsible for helping them solve it?” I am proud of myself for trying to argue for this, but I can see now how hopeless of a cause it was. 

At the time, I thought I was telling the leaders to take the log out of their eyes before trying to take the splinters out of the eyes of others. I wanted them to make a realistic assessment of themselves and the people they were attracting to the cult. In reality, the leaders’ eyes had been gouged out long ago by their wrongdoings. They are walking around the world totally blind to reality. They are insisting they can see perfectly and that if the rest of us “knew what was good for us” we would allow them to perform ocular surgery on us. If they think my assessment is unfair, I dare them to come out of the shadows, out of the no-visibility gutters they are doing graffiti in like the cowards they are, to tell the world why their abuse was correct. 

Lastly, I wish everyone who left the cult, or has been watching us from the sidelines, the best of luck in whatever it is you are all doing now. I have faith that we will all be more and more able to recognize and combat undue influence as time passes and we seek to understand ourselves and the cult better. I have faith that the further away we get from the cult’s influence, the closer we will be to the majority of people of the world. 

Email: A Criticism

Are you aware that the prevailing assumption among many readers is that the journal is dead? I don’t believe it is, but I don’t understand why so much time has passed since the call for submissions and criticisms has passed, yet nothing but poems have been released. I do not think it would take so much time to explain what the problem is briefly so that we can offer help and deeper criticism.

My criticisms are a long time coming, and maybe I should have sent them closer to the initial call, but later is better than never, and I think I have a better grasp on my criticisms now anyways.

Browsing through the website is disheartening, now that I have a better grasp on my criticisms. The recent content on Chairman Gonzalo, mostly reprints, is good. The rest… Jacobin? Sakai? Peterson? Do you think the masses pay attention to them? Even when they do, do you think they really give them so much weight as to merit a response? Are you writing this for them or because you want to see a Settlers fan squirm? I once had a manager that was interested in Peterson, and he was much more interested in what I had to say about the origin of the family than anything Peterson said. He treated Peterson like food for thought, he treated what I said about women’s oppression like I had just answered a million and one questions for him. And this was just from a simple conversation when he wondered out loud why men were still treating me poorly in our industry. He didn’t need to be told Peterson was wrong about Marxism. HE JUST NEEDED MARXISM.

I do not assert that the above mentioned articles contain incorrect lines, nor do I think they are totally useless. I have learned things from them. But I wonder why these were given attention and not other subjects – nothing that I could present to my family members as something they would be interested in and understand without significant background study. And they are even petty bourgeois liberals – yet there is Struggle Sessions content, few and far between as they may be, that I can and have referenced in political conversation with them, and have them actually engage with and come to support these lines more. So I know you are capable of making content that is relevant to the masses. Somewhere the focus shifted.

The two articles I reference most are “Race, Class, and Stratification” and “Political Economy and Prostitution.” They have answered more questions for activists and masses I’ve known than any other of your articles. They are difficult reads, but not impossible when studied together. They also refute prevailing postmodernist lines that the activists hold onto, without seeming as if these activists are the only audience. They directly attack the superstructure. This should be the target of your criticisms, the bourgeoisie as a whole and its superstructure. Not academics that the vast majority of people could not put a face to on any given day.

“Bourgeois Culture is a Cadaver” was pretty good too, I appreciate that the analysis is on popular culture, not academic culture. But then you followed it up with “Letter to the Editor: Class Struggle or Sexual Liberation?” To be clear – I generally support what was said in this. However, I don’t believe you were really ready to defend your lines. I think you explained them poorly and although you came to correct points you have crucial misunderstandings underlying them and the critics sniffed them out fast. And I think the root of these misunderstandings is an underdeveloped understanding of the women’s question. Most telling to me is that in “Consumer Options” you chose to focus on polyamory, not monogamy. And I was duped by this at first, because I had heavy postmodernists influences in my past, which have continued to blind me to whether what I am concerned about is what most people are also concerned about, or if it is a remnant of me focusing on issues that postmodernists favor. Polyamory is not the pressing issue for women – it is rather monogamy, and many, if not most, polyamorists do not necessarily see it as a “better” option, but merely an option, a preference. This bad idea should be attacked, but most importantly, monogamy and the family structure should be attacked. You did not do this, you let Engels do it for you in one paragraph.

Do you not see this as the more pressing matter or are you just unaware of how you can build upon the criticisms of monogamy that have already been made? I can think of several ways; with porn more popular than ever, women not only have to accept that their husbands will likely cheat on them, they now have to accept that the cheating will happen in their bed, in front of them, at the expense of trafficked women, and that as his wife she may be coerced into participating. Women are now, on the whole, workers but not a single thing has happened to relieve them of child care. Women are being abused, raped, and killed by their monogamous partners at the same rate they always have been, but now because there are meager resources for her, and the vast majority of people agree she should not have to endure that and is allowed to leave, now she gets blamed for staying when she feels trapped! And you have skated over these issues that are pressing NOW and merely said our relationships will be better under socialism.

In regards to polyamory, hookup culture, etc, and what you DID say in the article – you still treated the issue as if men and women are on the same playing field here. Maybe talk to a few (more) women, just a suggestion! Women KNOW they are getting the lesser hand in this setup, you still don’t talk about that! You don’t talk about how many women WANT monogamy but feel like they have to have casual sex in order to keep partners interested! You don’t talk about the women who have agreed under coercion to open relationships, where her potential extra partners (if any) are limited to specific people or other women, and he is free to do what he wants with anyone – just a more bald-faced version of the old monogamy! You don’t mention that promiscuity is despised in women, but celebrated in men, even while men are harassing every single woman to put out!

What was the point of this article if you aren’t going to mention any of this? I think it might cause some internal, purely personal, reflection; it does not call for women to refuse and attack chauvinism and it does not call for men to examine their chauvinism. A missed opportunity, AT BEST. If the article had been written as I suggest, I doubt there would have been so many people rejecting it. They know their relationship has problems. There was no solution for them in this article. “Monogamy and polyamory are bourgeois, in socialism we will have it better.” As if the root of many intimate problems is something other than misogyny, as if it is something we are unable to attack today.

How could anyone write about sexuality and not give consideration to the particular ways it affects women? I have no answer besides that it is chauvinism. When I was even a liberal I had higher expectations for analysis on this issue than what the article provided.

Onto “Bourgeois Culture.” I like this article. The one point of contention that many readers had was putting “non-binary” in quotes. On the first read, I skimmed over this. Now it reads like a dog whistle. “We think this is anti-materialist, but we will wait for someone to be outraged before we bother explaining!” Was the point to name the inclusion of this identity as a mere distraction, or was the point to say it is a false idea that needs to be attacked? Choose one or both and make your point! But this is really minor compared to the response – I can understand not wanting to give weight to this identity by just listing it with other groups of people, but at the same time not wanting to distract from the article with explaining why this was done.

As for the response. I think it is good up until this point, where many readers found their first point of attack:

“The facts of biological reproduction and the oppression of women rooted in private property divide society into men and women. While biological reproduction is the basis, which is reflected for instance in the struggle over reproductive rights, humans are primarily social animals and so social relationships conditioned by class society are primarily determinate on sex and sexuality. Hence homosexuality and transition to the social role of the opposite sex has an objective existence that is conditioned by the historical development of society.”

This is a good understanding – expect that it does not provide an explanation as to when, and why, there have occasionally been third sex categories, that are not explained well by transgenderism in at least a few cases. Those who support a nonbinary identity have not grasped that self categorization is not what created these minor, external roles. This would be simple to have explained. I’m not sure if you did not investigate this, or considered these exceptions minor enough to not mention. The latter would tell me that you have also not investigated the ways in which proponents of the nonbinary-as-material-reality line attempt to support their claims.

“It argues that one can escape the contradiction between men and women at an individual level through personal feeling and superficial changes in presentation.”

Many of your supporters reject that identity can cause someone to escape this contradiction, and they have been trying to formulate a line that includes this for several months. Even in circles where identity is the end-all, be-all, they will still refer to those facing women’s oppression as “femme-presenting,” “affected by misogyny,” etc. They are avoiding being scientific, but even they cannot deny when oppression happens, and this statement fails them too, to an extent.

You continue to focus on identity and superficial changes while not addressing how this is different from trans people. Are you aware that many people identifying as nonbinary claim to experience physical dysphoria, and some of them pursue medical transition? How does merely attacking the identity resolve their personal crisis, if you don’t go into explaining what creates dysphoria, what it is exactly that makes someone trans, and by what means, in what moment, does someone change from man to woman, or vice versa? I do not know if you are presently capable of grasping this either, and I wonder if that is why you did not get into it, because how can we understand trans people besides in relation to men, women, and the oppression of women? And as I have said above, I don’t think you have done all you can to grasp the women’s question.

I have told a few people, those who are trying to write an opposing line on gender, that they shouldn’t bother until they can prove they have fully grasped the women’s question. And I would say the same to you. I would love nothing more than to have others unite with me on what exactly makes me trans. But please do not bother. You should have never attempted to begin with, you shouldn’t until you understand women. We all agree I am not the important demographic here. I really feel that you gave in to a very loud minority.

“LGBT people are not a distinct social force and do not have a decisive role in politics as such. Imperialism does not depend on the discrimination of LGBT people, and today ‘pink-washes’ itself by giving LGBT people a large degree of legal equality in order to create a false image of progressivism—the productive forces are developed enough in the imperialist countries that capitalism has lost its pressing need to reproduce the oppressed class as not every family needs to produce children to maintain a socially-necessary proletarian population.”

I believe I agree with this, but it does not give answers to the people who are wondering why there is an attack on trans people, specifically children, right now. My understanding are that these attacks are for the sake of the superstructure, not for the sake of maintaining the family unit, but I have not developed my thoughts beyond this. Stating that LGBT people have more rights now does not satisfy the need to understand the attacks that happen regardless, regardless of our new rights and regardless of the fact that we are not a distinct social force.

“We reiterate the message of the essay Consumer Options that monogamy and polyamory both are bourgeois and backwards; similarly both heterosexuality—understood as the superstructural support reproducing the economic unit of the family—and ‘queerness’ are old bourgeois forms that oppose the new, socialist social relations.”

This is still not useful. You have not allowed yourself to imagine a new world. You have not given a way for readers to begin to understand their relationships in a more progressive way. And you have not demonstrated that you understand how any of these things affect women specifically.

I want to point out a few things in the 2021 New Years Statement lastly. I have mainly looked to criticize the past year of articles, and present the two main points: that you do not understand what the masses are clamoring to hear, and you do not understand the oppression of women. In the New Years Statement you say:

“We take up our post against all sorts of incorrect ideas generated within the context of the class struggle which serve the ruling class and which harm the proletariat in its struggle,”

Is this what you have done? Do you have your ear among the people or do you have it among the liberal protest movement, or maybe even among the dwaddlers on reddit and twitter? Did I miss some moment where the masses were gathering around the dinner table to talk about Jordan Peterson’s all-meat diet or Demi Lovato coming out as nonbinary? Are these really the most dangerous and enticing ideas being offered to the masses in order to quell them?

The majority of goals for physical copies, paywalled articles, etc outlined in the last section of the New Year statement have not been met. You changed editors and immediately switched over to being concerned with the form, not the political lines, not the usefulness, not the ability to defend your lines. And so you could not do all that you wanted. You’re treating it like a blog. If you have not yet, I suggest you make copies of the “greatest hits” and the most criticized articles and survey the masses on what they find useful or even have the barest of interest in based on your description of them. I admit I have not tried this but I certainly do pick and choose carefully what I suggest others read after I have studied one of your pieces with them.

While developing this criticism I have come up with some rough ideas for pieces that I think the masses I have interacted with would like to read, I am happy to share them; if there is good chance these problems can be turned around I want to be more active in contributing as a supporter of the journal. I think it both myself and you (Struggle Sessions itself) can be criticized for the fact that I have not felt like it was my duty or place to bring my ideas forward. Writing this has made me optimistic that change is possible, once the problem is understood. I hope you are all feeling the same and that the criticisms you have already gotten have proven useful.

Luke, reader and activist