For over twenty years our Party has carried on mass work every day, and for the past dozen years it has talked about the mass line every day. We have always maintained that the revolution must rely on the masses of the people, on everybody’s taking a hand, and have opposed relying merely on a few persons issuing orders. The mass line, however, is still not being thoroughly carried out in the work of some comrades; they still rely solely on a handful of people working in solitude. One reason is that, whatever they do, they are always reluctant to explain it to the people they lead and that they do not understand why or how to give play to the initiative and creative energy of those they lead. Subjectively, they too want everyone to take a hand in the work, but they do not let other people know what is to be done or how to do it. That being the case, how can everyone be expected to get moving and how can anything be done well? To solve this problem the basic thing is, of course, to carry out ideological education on the mass line, but at the same time we must teach these comrades many concrete methods of work.- Mao Zedong, A Talk to the Editorial Staff of the Shansi-Suiyuan Daily
Adherence to the practice of the mass line is one of the main reasons why Marxist-Leninist-Maoist led movements are having consistent success and growing in several countries. In the United States, many talk about the mass line, but do not apply it well, or at all. What is supposed to be mass work turns into its opposite. Mass work is something that draws in the broadest segments of the masses of people in a given area, and produces results in the form of a growing revolutionary movement, the isolation and repudiation of revisionist/reformist tactics and lines by the masses, and the growing of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist hegemony among the masses and entrenchment of our positions. Politics is a battle, warfare without bloodshed, thus, when we see revisionism or reformist tendencies rearing their heads and being smuggled into our movements, it is our job to wage war against it, in practice, among the masses. We need to not just polemicize and kvetch about Trotskyites and revisionists among each other, but show how we are better, make Maoism the dominant, hegemonic trend in this country, and make millions of Maoists. This can not be done without a firm grasp of the mass line! As a result of this mishandling of things and turning of the mass line into a toy, the actually revolutionary Communist movement here is tiny and has very little prestige among the masses of people. If we are to have a proletarian revolution in this country, we must learn to rely solely on the masses, and we need to defeat revisionists and reformists in practice and out-organize them. At this stage, most “Communist organizing” is done by groups such as the PSL, the WWP, and Socialist Alternative, we can complain about them all we want, but they have tens of thousands of people out for their demonstrations, and their front groups/coalitions encompass and swallow up heavy struggles. The MLM movement does not have this power, but we desperately need it. This is, in major part, our fault. To rectify our shortcomings, we need to rectify our mass line and our mass work.
This piece includes a very good chart of errors and misconceptions when applying the mass line. The major error that many people in the First World commit is the sectarian-dogmatist error, believing that they have all the answers, making lines and determining things among themselves, usually informed by reading old material that has no relation to the concrete conditions of the United States, not doing any SICA (Social Investigation and Class Analysis), and then carrying these lines to the masses. Spray-painting inaccessible slogans (VICTORY TO PEOPLE’S WAR IN PERU! FREE CHAIRMAN GONZALO!) in neighborhoods where people are worried about being deported or having their Social Security benefits or wages cut, pushing ancient lines that you read in Peking Review or A World To Win about arcane issues that maybe only 50 people in this country care about, going into black and brown communities or meeting black and brown people to tell them what they need, disrespecting their already established mass leaders, making lines among yourselves and then trying to argue with them on their internal community affairs, not developing mass contacts, and other things of this nature may work and get you pats on the back among your small group of comrades, but they hold no weight among the masses of people. First, you have never taken the initiative to reach out to and establish mass contacts in communities that you seek to begin work in. You mistake the small segment or fraction of “the masses” that is even slightly interested in your ideas or lines for the masses as a whole, and proffer your skimpy mass contact for actual, deep mass engagement and investigation. In “How to Fake the Mass Line“, this is discussed and laid out in detail:
Once the line and immediate goals are firmly decided, the “rationalization” phase of the process can begin. Start by realizing that these ideas in your leaders minds must have come from someplace. Probably some of the masses must have talked to some of the group’s members, who have in turned occasionally passed some of this on to other members until some of it just might get to the top. Even if no attempt was made to encourage this and systematize it, this could still be considered the “accidental mass line method”. And in any case there are people among the masses who might already agree with these decisions of the top leaders. Yes, that’s it, these ideas must surely agree with those of some of the masses…If anyone disputes that your group uses the mass line, point out that if you have any followers among the masses at all, even just a tiny few, then this proves that some of the masses do agree with you, and these are the masses from whom you must have gotten the ideas for the line and policies in the first place…If anyone still doubts you, appeal to the necessity for your group to keep its decision-making procedures secret from the ruling class. Tell them that “You’ll just have to take our word for it that we are really using the mass line.” That should shut them up!
The Filipino movement is the most advanced in the world today, and their piece on Mass Work is something that Maoists need to read and know. They didn’t unfold a mass New Democracy movement by not establishing deep and firm links with the masses, or being fools. It reads:
The first step in organizing the masses in the barrios, factories, communities, schools or offices, is to locate reliable contacts.
Preliminary contacts may be products of mass work in other places, relatives, our friends or acquaintances, or those of other comrades, or those of the family of a comrade.
Preliminary contacts may be formed into coordinating groups in order to carry out tasks collectively.
As much as possible, the preliminary contacts must hail from the class or sector to which we are giving principal stress. They must be honest, have an excellent record of humanity, know a lot of people, and [be] enthusiastic in carrying out tasks. When in a barrio, strive to find contacts from the exploited peasants or rural workers. If there are none, the preliminary contacts may also hail from the middle forces. But at the earliest opportunity, we must allow those contacts who hail from the basic classes to emerge. Before we give them work, it is necessary to conduct a detailed investigation of the preliminary contacts, especially those who do not hail from the basic forces of the revolution.
This means, get to know people. Get to know one, get to know 10 or 20. Strike up conversations with people. Go into churches, community centers, bars, get to know your co-workers, classmates, etc. If you’re a student at university, build up contacts among workers on your campus. Before you can organize a community, you need to have an in, you need to be known. Ask people what they care about, what’s affecting them. Find out what issues in the city are impacting them in a negative way, and what they think can be done to solve them. Get involved and be active in organic efforts launched by the masses themselves, whether it be an effort to help find missing Black women, or clean up trash off the streets, or curb violence in a neighborhood. Get into political discussions with people. Take notes. Some of what you hear may be advanced, some may be intermediate, some may be backwards, it doesn’t matter. The mass line requires input from the masses, some raw material may be good, some may be bad, that’s fine. A sectarian-dogmatist approach leads to isolation and alienation from the masses, this is currently where many US Maoists are. To build up, consolidate, and entrench the MLM movement in a particular area and win prestige among the masses, we need to do away with sectarianism and dogmatism, only speaking to other Maoists that agree with us, elitism, excessive formalism, and talking like Cultural Revolution era Chinese politicians. If we do not repudiate this trend, and reject arrogance and dogmatic posturing, we will continue to come up short and make embarrassing mistakes.
We also have bourgeois-populism in abundance, represented mainly by non-Maoist tendencies, usually Trotskyist. These groups cling to the legacy of Occupy and are more concerned about poaching other organizations’ members, getting as many of their professionally done signs on television or in the newspapers, elevating one or two members to the level of cult of personality *cough* Kshama Sawant*cough*, or being seen as “the vanguard” despite conducting little to no political development of people that join the organization, posing little to no militant opposition or threat to the ruling class, and using tired, incorrect slogans such as “We are the 99%”. This is tailism, it falls behind the most advanced segments of the masses, who should be united with, and in the revolutionary movement it does an extreme disservice, it pulls us backwards into electoral efforts and engagement with the bourgeois system. Our job as Maoists is to struggle against this trend and use the mass line to destroy these trends and cast them out of the revolutionary movement. Engage the mass base of these types of organizations, but criticize and isolate their leadership. We must be pragmatic in that we must realize that our work requires nuance and correct handling of contradictions, not sowing and promoting antagonism for no reason or to posture, but we should not be so pragmatic that we lose our revolutionary essence and yield critical terrain to reformists and revisionists.
The work today in the United States that falls on us Maoists, to build a revolutionary party and revolutionary mass movement capable of destroying this empire and liberating those captured within its borders, is dependent upon our grasp of the mass line and mass work. Without realizing that the mass line requires going among the masses, collecting their scattered ideas among which correct ones can be found, analyzing them and synthesizing them into a concrete line using MLM, and then propagating these ideas far and wide among the masses through programs, demonstrations, and other tools, and that lines that we determine often must be tested in the hard school of practice, where they are often proven incorrect, in which case we must start all over again, we will never make revolution in this country. Make revolution. Use the mass line, not a parody of it.
A lot of people new to the left, or to Maoism, make a pretty forgivable mistake and assume that Maoists and “Maoist” Third Worldists are the same. The cheetodust fingered sadsack Jason Unruhe (AKA “Maoist Rebel News”) dresses up like a Red Guard, despite being in a perfect position to have been struggled against were he alive in China during the Cultural Revolution, and horrid cults and scam organizations like the Leading Light “Communist” Organization also claim Mao’s mantle for their own. To the untrained eye, TWism and MLM are the same thing. This is a dangerous shell game that the TWists play, and it hurts and inhibits the work of actual Maoists. The TWists don’t give a fuck, they do no political work and most crawl back into the ether from which they came sooner or later. Basically, TWism is predicated and developed based on various misreadings of theoreticians and revolutionary scientists and, in many instances, is elevated to the level of dangerous farce verging on outright fascism by individuals like Unruhe and people associated with the LLCO/RAIM sphere. TWism isn’t Maoism at all, as a matter of fact, they uphold lines laid down by the renegade Lin Biao, who in 1971 attempted to wage an armed coup against Mao (Project 571) and ended up dying in a plane crash while trying to flee to the Soviet Union. The LLCO agitates (if the internet screeds it puts out can be called agitation) for a “Global People’s War”, a theory taken directly from Lin Biao’s “Long Live the Victory of People’s War“:
Taking the entire globe, if North America and Western Europe can be called “the cities of the world”, then Asia, Africa and Latin America constitute “the rural areas of the world”. Since World War II, the proletarian revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries, while the people’s revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been growing vigorously. In a sense, the contemporary world revolution also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas. In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population. The socialist countries should regard it as their internationalist duty to support the people’s revolutionary struggles in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
This is wrong for more than one reason. In our time, Yankee imperialism, is the number one enemy of the world’s people. The struggles of the people of Latin America, Asia, and Africa are extremely important in regards to driving the forces of imperialism out of their own countries, but the killing blow to Yankee imperialism will come from us Yankees ourselves. Lin Biao and the TWists expect the people of Palestine, India, the Philippines, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, and the rest of the places where people are today struggling against the imperialist ravage in their own countries to also handle the burden of making revolution here. Surround the cities of the globe from the countryside. What are we supposed to do? Are there not strata within strata in this country? Are we all parasites? Yes, we as first world workers do indeed benefit from imperialism in the form of lower prices, higher wages, etc, this is true, but this is not the only aspect. TWists believe that there is no oppressed proletariat in the United States, Canada, or Western Europe. What of the New Afrikan people, the Chicanx people, the indigenous people, and our proletariats? What of the enslaved and exploited prisoners? What of the immigrants living in the United States who come here and obtain citizenship, and end up driving cabs, scrubbing floors, cleaning hospital beds, or all three? Are they sucking the blood of their own people? What of the white working class? Although it leans backwards, is it not exploited as well? There is revolutionary potential wherever an exploited person lives and toils. The cause of world revolution depends on all of us. Our comrades making revolution today in the third world call on us to destroy imperialism. That entails destroying the United States as it stands, liberate the oppressed nations, and build the socialist order. This means that there are revolutionaries here, and there is revolutionary potential. Things are destroyed from the inside, internal contradictions lay the basis for change in the final analysis. America, if weakened from the inside, will collapse. If a building is undermined from the inside, its girders and support beams melted and compromised, it will collapse. If I collapse and die right now, something inside of me has been transformed and laid the basis for my body to fail and for my heart and brain to stop working. We can not rely on struggling people to make our revolution for us. To help the world, we must wage class struggle here, make revolution, and destroy this country in toto.
TWism has been pieced apart and punched full of holes by various Maoist theoreticians, including the most advanced MLM theoretician in the United States, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Minister of Defense of the New African Black Panther Party – Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC). Last year Rashid released a devastating polemic against Jason Unruhe, (who is a white Canadian, by the way, most are white I have only known of one black TWist), titled “Third Worldism: A Fanciful World Where the Privileged Play at Revolution“. It reads in part:
Unruhe embraces the Third Worldist line which claims to ally itself with Third World workers and demonizes First World workers as corrupted enemies of the Third World because they share in the spoils taken by the Imperialists from the Third World.
Well, if enjoying the privileges of the First World society renders one an enemy of the Third World, what the hell are Third Worldists like Unruhe doing here? What’s more, the Third Worldists are predominantly petty bourgeois (middle class) folks who enjoy even greater privileges and wealth than do general First World workers; yet they’re somehow the friends – no, leaders! – of the exploited Third World peoples! How it is that they can rise above their own privileged lifestyles and become the friends, allies, and even the professed leaders of the peoples on whose suffering their comforts depend, yet they argue that First World workers can’t, is a contradiction in their line that goes unanswered…“It’s amusing that the LLCO and their ‘Commander’ who goes by the name Augusta Luz (and is a white dude from Denver) claim that they are the vanguard of the Third World proletariat even though they are in the First World, and still find need to raise money and ask for items like computers and cars to support their ‘efforts.’ [Yet] they say there is nothing First Worldists can do in the First World except maybe oppose imperialist wars, that all First World workers are actually exploiters themselves, and that to struggle to improve people’s living conditions in the First World is ‘fascism.’”
Comrade Rashid lays bare the arrogance of white (like I said, nearly all of these people are not only white, but of petit-bourgeois class origin) TWists. They, from the First World, claim ability to lead struggle in the Third. On what basis? To lead, to be someone’s vanguard, one must be accepted as such. Groups like the LLCO, RAIM, and people like Unruhe have no basis to claim leadership over people in Bangladesh, or India, or Mexico, because they can’t even lead their own people! No comrades making revolution anywhere today acknowledge TWism as a valid theoretical framework for looking at the world, and reject its preposterous assertions that “there is no First World proletariat”, “there is no exploitation in the First World”, etc., etc. If you can not make revolution in your own country, if you can not get down to the grassroots and unite with people who look just like you, you can not claim to be a revolutionary, you are just a bag of hot air with a microphone and a camera and a platform. You arrogate titles for yourself, you write long screeds that come not from reasoned research, study, and analysis, but from whatever strikes you and whatever lackeys you’ve managed to cobble together as sounding good. This is not how Marxism, nevermind Maoism, is done. Rashid continues:
“V.I. Lenin denounced these sorts as “petty bourgeois revolutionists,” people who are left or ultra-left in words, but right in essence. They’re fond of spouting militant sounding rhetoric, fancying themselves as the only “enlightened ones,” and regard those who make their clothes, their cars, and comforts with disdain and contempt. They want to go on record as being “anti-imperialist,” but are unwilling to integrate themselves with the masses to do what is actually needed to make revolution, and recline in reformist forms of “protest” that don’t threaten their privileges.”
I’ve known more than a few TWists, and this is also spot on. They view white workers, their own proletariat, and all other “First Worldists” as “white trash” and “garbage”, and workers overseas as just pawns, people to hold guns and accept leadership from them who have never raised a finger to smash anything in these United States except a “like button” on a nonsensical Facebook rant. They criticize any manifestation of class struggle, calling the Fight for $15 movement in which Black and Brown workers are the driving force “parasitism”, degrading the struggles of people in the South and Appalachia, and even going so far as to wish the Taliban would attack the United States. These people have serious issues and certainly can not in all good conscience be called “communists”. Communists love their people, all of their people. I love talking to and learning from working class people, I had a 15 minute long conversation about Trump with a worker at McDonald’s yesterday. The masses give us life, we are ready to lay down our lives for their liberation. To hate the people is to join the fascists. It doesn’t matter if you couch your utter disdain and hatred for my people in words like “global slum”, or try to shame us like Unruhe does:
There are no First World victims in imperialism. No minority group, based on race, gender, or otherwise can consider themselves the victims of imperialist empire. All First World people who refuse to acknowledge their advantageous global position, who instead see themselves as victims, must be seen as enemies of revolution.
You are an enemy. No right-thinking Communist in the First World refuses to recognize that we are in an advantageous position. No matter how low I or anyone else here falls, we will never reach the level of the poorest person in India, or Peru, or China, or Nepal. But, for you to say that people who are being sprayed with freezing water so they develop pneumonia, or being murdered in the streets by the police, or who are being incarcerated en masse, are not victims of this imperialist empire, is to cross over to the camp of the enemy. You offer no support to the masses, here or abroad.You are worthless. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is useful, the most useful thing on Earth, while your Lin Piaoisms should crash and burn like their renegade architect. Maoism and Third Worldism are not the same thing, the first will destroy imperialism, the second will be destroyed along with imperialism.
Fratricidal street-gang fighting is a direct manifestation of a self-destructive behavior pattern. It is also a form of escapism by which Black youths vent their rage, frustrations and despair on each other rather than dealing with the true enemy. Pathological religionism or the fanatical indulgence in religion is essentially escapist because it encourages the victim to concentrate his attention, energy and hope for salvation and freedom upon a dubious, mystical force. It discourages confronting the actual causes of our misery and deprivation. It encourages the focusing of attention upon pie in the sky, rather than the securing of more lamb chops right here on planet earth. It also serves as a source of profits for those religious charlatans, preachers and ministers who exploit it.
Alcoholism is both self-destructive and escapist. It is also a source of tremendous profits for the capitalists. The amazingly high number of bars and liquor stores in the Black communities testify to this tragic fact. The capitalist liquor industry could prosper just on the business it does in the Black ghetto alone. – Cetewayo Tabor, 1971
The Black Panther Party had no way of predicting the new plague that would sweep Black and Brown communities beginning in the mid-1980s, that of crack cocaine. This plague would claim its leader, Huey P. Newton, who went from meeting with Jiang Qing and Chou Enlai and being recognized as the leader of the vanguard formation of the revolutionary liberation struggle in the United States in 1971 to lying dead in the street outside of a crack house in West Oakland in 1989, murdered by a drug dealer and a drug addict himself. This was a situation shared with many former Black Panther Party cadre, the internal contradictions that eventually antagonized into a split between the Cleaver (left-adventurist) and Newton (social-democratic) factions in 1971 would wreck lives, demoralize people, and generally sow an atmosphere of discord, paranoia and hatred within the Black Panther Party, as would the constant pig harassment. Sending of anonymous and forged letters to cadre and improper handling of such materials (brown mail), introduction of FBI and local police informants into branches of the Party like the pig O’Neal who played a direct role in the murder of Illinois BPP Chairman Fred Hampton, and outright murder of BPP affiliates and cadre all helped drive people to drink and drugs as mechanisms to help them cope with this situation, despite the fact that drug and alcohol use by cadre was expressly forbidden. This helped lead to fights, murders, beatings, and a general atmosphere of hopelessness and hatred all around that ultimately exacerbated to the point that the Party, once the most advanced group, the vanguard, admired by many, loved by the masses, and recognized internationally, was destroyed. The role of broken discipline and use of alcohol and drugs can not be simply swept under the rug. The overall negative relation of the masses and the revolutionary to drugs, the harmful relation of drugs to their communities, and the class nature who sell them as a sort of vocation must be consistently raised and concrete examples must be given to truly uphold a proletarian revolutionary line on drug and alcohol abuse and trafficking.
Who loves drugs? Who really, really, really loves drugs? Imperialists do! The British strung almost every Chinese official from the emperor on down to the lowest and pettiest official out on opium in the 1800s, the First Opium War began because Lin Zexu seized and burned 1,016 tons of the noxious chemical at Humen in 1839. The British then went to war, defeated the Chinese, and got most favored nation status and Hong Kong out of the deal. The Second Opium War opened China to imperialist missionaries, the use of Chinese as indentured servants for the Americans and British, access to new treaty ports, and general right to abuse and loot the Chinese nation. Drugs in relation to the Chinese people, just as they are in relation to the Colombian, Peruvian, Mexican, and New Afrikan peoples, are imperialist tools for our oppression and domination. The CIA dumped drugs into our community with the complicity and assistance of the Mafia, street gangs, and other lumpenbourgeois elements. They aided drug trafficking to enable them to assist right wing death squads in Central America in the 1980s. On our streets, on the streets of Colombia, on the streets of Mexico, they work with the police and routinely wheel and deal to enable themselves to escape bourgeois punishment, and bribe bourgeois politicians. In Mexico, they have cops on their payroll, and oftentimes it’s the police who do the killings. The Zetas were former Mexican Army troops.”El Chapo”, whose freedom was incorrectly demanded by some elements of the masses at my city’s anti-Trump protest that my mass organization helped organize, is an anti-people element who, if he were captured doing his dirty work in a revolutionary base area, would be executed after being denounced by the masses for what he is.
Drug dealers have an antagonistic relation to the masses of people that we Communists strive to organize, and the bigger they are, the more reactionary they are, the more lives they’ve ruined, the more people they’ve killed, and the more blood debt they’ve accumulated. The petty dealer can be struggled with and, hopefully, transformed and learn to serve the people. Individuals such as El Chapo who have cultivated and built ties to the reactionaries, fascists, and imperialists have cast their lot on the side of the enemy, and the masses simply will not allow them to remain unpunished for their thousands of crimes. These are the big lumpenbourgeoisie and compradors (whose illicit profits have allowed them in many cases to join the ranks of the regular bourgeoisie through money laundering and “legitimate investments”) who will be destroyed and wiped out just like any other imperialist or big bourgeois, they assist and serve the destruction and massacre of their people. There are millions of reasons why revolutionaries execute drug deals, why the Chinese Communist Party banned opium trafficking after driving the (opium soaked) KMT troops off the mainland, why the PCP, CPP, and the CPI(Maoist) and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) took and take hard lines against drug trafficking and use in their base areas. To sell drugs is counterrevolutionary, to use them is to open yourself up for a myriad of health problems and an individual that is addicted to drugs or alcohol is prime for being brought into the web of police infiltrators, snitches, spies, and wreckers, and subsequently introduced to the revolutionary movement, where they can get revolutionaries arrested, killed, or turn the masses against us. A revolutionary who uses intoxicating drugs freely, disregarding all discipline except that of the pipe or the needle, is a threat to themselves and to others, and will sooner or later get themselves and many others killed, arrested, or isolated from the masses. The higher the particular cadre is, the more dangerous drug use is. See Huey Newton as an example. This is the line on drugs on those who are currently making revolution today and those who have made it in the past.
This said, as long as capitalism exists and the bourgeoisie hold state power in the United States, Communists do not push for further criminalization or support the ratcheting up of the already destructive, wasteful, and harmful so-called “War on Drugs”. Like I’ve already said, the bourgeoisie love their drugs, both to use themselves and to use to bring discord and death to our communities. Everybody knows that criminalization does nothing to stop the flow of drugs, the imperialist do not want this. What they do want is a justification to snatch our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, cousins, neighbors, and friends away and introduce them to the prison slavery system. What they do want is for our communities to remain destabilized and destroyed by fratricidal gang wars, fighting over “turfs” that are in reality owned by developers and slumlords who live in condos downtown. What they do want is potential comrades wandering through the back alleys of every metropolitan area in this country with a pistol ready to blow someone’s head off to obtain money for their next fix. They don’t want to ban drugs, they want to suppress, sow discord, and oppress. Those who sell drugs play right into their hands. Some know this and do so willingly because their lumpen outlook prohibits them from looking out for anyone but themselves, some don’t. The 18 year old who sells shit on the side while working at McDonald’s is not an enemy, they are a victim of circumstances and, if they are given the opportunity to work and produce in a meaningful way, I believe they will. The vested drug dealer who sells large quantities of such drugs as methamphetamine, heroin, and crack cocaine to anyone who comes along, forces people into prostitution and sex slavery for drugs, is on record as a confidential informant and is responsible for many killings and incarcerations, is indeed an enemy and the masses view them as such.
That being said, legalizing drugs raises a new set of contradictions. Legalization doesn’t necessarily mean that oppressed nations people still won’t be locked up or arrested for dealing or using a certain drug, it does give Marlboro and other corporations the opportunity to experiment with selling them, though, and it gives their kids who use drugs an out. There is a law for the masses, and there is a law for the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie, as individuals and as a class, can do things that you can not. Marijuana or cocaine being legal doesn’t mean that you still can’t find yourself lying dead in a gutter, shot by a pig. I’ve also noticed that the triumphalism and celebratory atmosphere around the legalization of one drug in Colorado, Illinois, or some other state is generally the province of petit-bourgeois single issue activists who simply want to smoke weed without getting hauled into court and getting their parents upset. After it’s legalized, there’s no more activism forthcoming from these quarters. The Communist always asks first, “For Whom”, and these meaningless laws and bills and petitions are not for, from, or to serve my people. What does serve my people is making and building a party for revolution, and said Party will not be wandering around gentrified neighborhoods with petitions begging the bourgeois government to legalize marijuana in our hands or holding “free the weed” rallies where we smoke and play hacky sack. This is petit bourgeois degeneracy at its finest and a stopover on the road to a nice $190,000 a year position at a law firm or a position at a university where you can wow your students with stories from your “activist” career and glory days.
Drug users are, generally, not the enemy. They’ve got an illness. Of course, they shouldn’t be privy to confidential information, trusted with secrets, or trusted in any way until they have been treated for their illness and have been educated regarding the dangers of using these drugs, not in a pig type DARE way, but in a genuine way that shows concern for their well being, the role of drugs in our communities, and the broad benefits of not using drugs. Of course, these tasks are not just for individuals to strike out on themselves and try to attempt to do, this can only lead to demoralization and frustration, these tasks are for a collective of committed and experienced revolutionaries, many of whom may have once struggled with substance abuse issues themselves. We listen to those who have shared our experiences and have gone through what we’ve gone through and who treat us as equals, not those who come down from the church or the university to preach.
I’m a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. As far as making revolution and liberating the masses of the oppressed the world over goes, it’s the best we’ve got. I uphold Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and the experiences of the masses united in struggles led by Maoist parties the world over. Maoists learn from our mistakes, and real Maoists don’t engage in idol worship. Each and every revolutionary theorist, fighter, and leader we uphold made mistakes. The PCP (Communist Party of Peru, Sendero Luminoso) shouldn’t have killed 69 people in the town of Lucanamarca in 1983. That sucked. Bad. People’s fighters don’t kill the people. The people tend to get mad at you if you do, and fight you, for good reason. Stalin shouldn’t have treated comrades like the enemy and blamed everything that went wrong on foreign spies or wreckers. That led to some nasty excesses. And Mao should have thought twice before he said this:
Among the whites in the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling circles that oppress the black people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people.
We criticize our theoreticians and leaders, realize that they lived in vastly different circumstances and struggled under different conditions than we do today, and were humans that didn’t know everything. But, we uphold and apply to our own conditions the universal parts of their lessons. Everything that our ideological ancestors said wasn’t correct. This is an example. In terms of actual experience with the conditions of the United States, Mao had no knowledge excepting that which he got from Americans with various agendas and who probably didn’t know much of anything themselves, and newspapers. He never came to the United States. As a matter of fact, he left China only twice in his lifetime, both times in the 1950s and both times to the Soviet Union. Simply put, Mao talking about the conditions for black people and who oppresses who in the US is not exactly as light as a feather, but easy enough for me, not exactly a champion weightlifter, to pick up.
There’s a nasty habit in America in general, not just on the left, to bend over backwards to somehow absolve White people as a whole and the white working class in particular of complicity in the national oppression of New Afrikan (Black) and Chicano people, of genocide and destruction committed against the indigenous people, and criminal violence against individuals who came from Asia to work. If Mao Zedong found himself in the United States in the 1880s, he would have fallen victim to the numerous pogroms committed against individuals of Asian descent, and, if he escaped with his life, probably wouldn’t have felt so compelled to make his statement regarding who oppresses who. Reactionaries yammer on and on about how their great-great-great-great-great grandpappy Seamus O’Neal came over from Cork in 1840 and worked harder and harder and the Blacks really just need to shut the fuck up, as if anybody works harder than a damned literal slave! That’s what those leftists sound like to me. On the left, there’s an equally incorrect tendency to claim that the white working class is inherently and irrevocably racist and an object of struggle and destruction. I can see where those who hold the latter view come from. This is where a lot of the Black masses are at, this is part of our historical experience and material reality. Slaves hated poor white trash more than rich planters, poor white trash would catch us running away and chop our feet off, castrate us, or whip us to within an inch of our lives. Overseers would rape us, beat us, or torture us in a thousand and one different ways. Sometimes, when they got land, poor white people would buy slaves and work them to death. Being sold to a poor white farmer was basically death. For all the reading that Communists do, slave narratives and histories of slavery don’t seem to figure among them. History shows us that the white working class, as a class, more often than not has been a detriment and a scourge to the masses of nonwhite people in this country, and an ally to the white bourgeoisie. Through our struggles, their support has not been something to count on, while their opposition and hatred has been something to be taken for granted. Their presence and identity in this country from the very beginning has been that of settlers. Settlers are not good people that do good things. They came here from Europe to better their own economic situation at the expense of others. Their immigrant stories, of coming here, working hard at the factory or mill, saving their money up, fighting in WWI and WWII, getting their GI Bills, and moving to the suburbs are spit in the eye to the black and brown masses of this country’s ghettoes and barrios. African people were dragged here in chains, forced to lay the foundation of this country’s economic success at whip and gun point, ridden over and chased like animals by members of the white proletariat, and then moved North to be rioted against by this same white proletariat, who had just got off the damn boat and had the nerve to say we were taking “their jobs”. Sound familiar?
In East Saint Louis in 1917, W.E.B DuBois laid out the rationale for the rioting and massacre committed by white workers against black workers. The anger expressed by white workers at what they perceived as black workers driving down their wages, turned into race struggle and race war. In East Saint Louis during the riots, nothing mattered but black or white, materially. White bourgeoisie were spared, black workers, even unionized, were massacred. This scene repeated itself over and over again for the next few decades. Yes, it’s true that race hatred against blacks and other nonwhite people, as DuBois said in his piece, is deliberately used and drummed up by the bourgeoisie to divide the working class. This is an age old tactic that stems from the earliest days of this country, when black and white indentured servants united to struggle against the exported English aristocrats in Virginia. Even then, this struggle had a reactionary character to go along with the progressive one (as progressive as you can get in a nascent settler-colonial project, at least), as the clamor was in part for a militia to go against neighboring Native Americans and snatch more land for the settlers. The punishment for this and other similar rebellions (running away, etc.) was to enslave the black offenders for life and extend the terms of the indenture for the white offenders. This was the beginningof the codified oppression of black people as blacks, by whites as whites, and the peculiar institution of American white supremacy. That’s the history that we all know. Unity is possible among black and white workers, this has been shown many times, from the Sharecroppers’ Strike of the 1930s to the IWW organizing all races of workers. Nobody denies this. Blacks and whites are not natural enemies. But, in the United States, this sort of class unity has been the exception, not the rule. If bourgeois order broke down in this country tomorrow, it would resemble Yugoslavia, and would be replete with ethnic cleansing. The South would look something like Rwanda in 1994. At this stage, there would be no proletarian revolution in this country. We’ve already seen a preview of the behavior of the white proletariat in relation to the black masses in a chaotic situation. After Hurricane Katrina, working class white people shot black people to death in New Orleans. If this happened on a countrywide scale, the battle cry of the white proletariat wouldn’t be “Workers of the World Unite”, it’d be:
“Get away from this truck, nigger. We’re not gonna help you. We’re liable to kill you ourselves.”
Anybody that tells themselves and others anything different is engaging in dangerous and deadly lies. This isn’t a static or irreversible thing, but it sure as hell is more entrenched than Communism and class unity. Go to rural Pennsylvania or some parts of South Saint Louis County talking about Communism and Presidente Gonzalo and you’ll get shot or worse. Anti-communism and white supremacy go hand in hand, and since white supremacist thought has such standing among white workers, it’s not a stretch to say that anti-communism has even more standing.
It’ll be necessary to win over as many elements of the white proletariat as possible to ensure the success of any revolution in this country. This is a simple numerical question. But, it would be simple right opportunism to not struggle against or even acknowledge racist and anti-people attitudes among the white proletariat. We don’t want racist communists who’ll fight the class war and then fight a race war! At this stage, and at every stage in American history, it is not incorrect at all to say that the white proletariat, in the United States, is for the most part, racist, upholds white supremacy in various forms and degrees of intensity, is willing to kill nonwhite people for little to no reason, and is more backwards, as a group, than nationally oppressed working classes. It doesn’t take a lot to stir up the white proletariat to violence. Emmett Till was castrated and thrown in a river because he supposedly whistled at a white woman. A black man supposedly accosted a white woman in an elevator in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 and white people burned the whole black part of the city down. Black people raised up in rebellion in Ferguson and a white kid from the working class went into a Black church and murdered several people, and white people have been buying up guns left and right since 2014 in expectation of a race war. After 9/11, white working class youth joined the military in droves to destroy the Middle East, and those that didn’t join the service stayed at home and voted for Bush in 2004, just like their parents and grandparents voted for Nixon in 1968 and ’72, and broke up anti-war demonstrations with hard hats on. Not a class war to rise up against the bourgeoisie, fucking ethnic cleansing.
This is not an attack on the white proletariat. Like I said, this group will play a major role in any revolution made in the United States. I don’t hate white people. You’re not devils, you didn’t come from a UFO, you’re not the result of a science experiment gone wrong. Many black people do hate white people, working class or not working class. I don’t blame them. All over the world, from Africa to the United States, wherever large numbers black people and white people have existed in relative proximity, white people have beaten, lynched, shot, enslaved, raped, disenfranchised, tortured, terrorized, and generally dogged the fuck out of black people. I’m not here to tell black people that it is wrong to hate those who do things to them, or who sit back and watch while things are done to them. I’m not here to tell my people, Black people, anything about white people. That’s not my job. Historically, it hasn’t been the white proletariat driving history and doing most of the heavy revolutionary lifting in this country, although y’all sure as hell benefit from shit we’ve struggled and fought for and you fought against us for. The thing is, we’ve never had any problem uniting with white people, it’s you that have to be won over to unite with us on a class basis. The black working class doesn’t need anybody to tell it not to be so racist that it fights against its own class interests. You’ll never hear a black worker say that they’d rather let fascists win a war before they work alongside a cracker on the assembly line. We’ve never gone out on strike because white people got hired somewhere. The white proletariat has always been hired, somewhere, at better wages than we get, and fought like hell to keep us out!
I go to a rural area trying to explain anything to white people, I’m liable to be shot for being a smartass nigger. White people don’t like smartass niggers. We make them feel bad about themselves. I exist to make revolution and to liberate my people. The job of white communists and revolutionary minded white people is to struggle against racist and otherwise reactionary attitudes within the white proletariat. This is your mess, these are your very own parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, and cousins. This is what should be done. Other black freedom fighters and revolutionists have called for it. Instead of sticking your nose into and criticizing liberation struggle and liberation around the world because it doesn’t mesh with what you think a revolution should look like, thumbing your nose at Maurice Bishop because he didn’t uphold the illustrious revolutionary line of Chairman Gonzalo, as if that dead man really gives a shit and the masses of Grenadian people care what some two-faced toubob in the US who can’t point to Grenada on a map thinks about him and who has never met a single Grenadian, run your mouths and do some work with your people. Struggle with your people. That is how transformation comes, through struggle. Black people can’t work, fight the pigs, burn down out own neighborhoods, struggle with our own reactionary tendencies, sing, dance, play football, work magic, clean your toilets, take care of your elderly, get locked up, get shot to death on the streets by pigs drawn from your proletariat, and explain to you why not to be racist, or try and conduct mass work in your communities to win you over to revolution. Even if we had time, you’d just shoot us, call the cops, say we should stop complaining, or ignore us like you’ve been doing for the past 200 years, in and out of the Communist movement. Hold the mirror to yourselves. We are going to be alright. You may not be. Clean up your mess and take out your trash, the last time we did it for you was in 1804 in a little place called Ayiti.
The IMT (International Marxist Tendency) is a British based orthodox Trotskyist party. They have a branch in the US called the WIL, or Workers’ International League. This US branch has a branch here in Saint Louis. To their credit, the overwhelming majority of their members (I think they have like 6 or 7), are fairly decent personally, which is more than can be said for most Trotskyists, anyway. They show up to events, sell their papers, chant, and go home. Harmless enough, at least better than the other Trotskyist group here. That being said, personability doesn’t make up for horrible politics and positions. I came across a particularly atrocious “historical piece” from their website last week, titled China’s Long March to Capitalism. Now, I’m used to Trotskyist historical revisionism and hysterics whenever a revolution led by a party that doesn’t believe that Stalin was the most horrible man ever that singlehandedly oppressed and ate 30 million people down to the marrow comes to a successful conclusion, but this is some extra shit even for Trotskyists. Let’s take a look.
The article starts off by, grudgingly, stating that the Chinese Revolution was the second most important event in history, and goes on to state that it led to the abolition of landlordism and capitalism and with it the abolition of imperialist domination in a huge area of the globe. It’s fundamentally downhill from there. It goes on to state:
However, whereas the Russian revolution led to the setting up of a relatively healthy workers’ state established by the working class under the leadership of the Bolshevik party ‑ a revolutionary party with an internationalist outlook ‑ the 1949 Chinese Revolution led to the immediate setting up of a Stalinist deformed workers’ state.
Why did the Russian Revolution lead to the setting up of a relatively healthy workers’ state established by the working class, but the Chinese Revolution led to the immediate setting up of a “Stalinist deformed workers’ state?” Simple, because Trotsky was involved in the first and wasn’t in the second. The IMT asserts and arrogates for Trotsky a key and gamechanging role in the October Revolution, second only to Lenin. Trotskyists have a habit of defining “pure” socialism as anything that Trotsky had an even marginal role in, while denigrating anything that “Stalinists” played a leading role in. To do so they engage in remarkable mental and written gymnastics, outright manufacture of lies, and historical revisionism. The article goes on to boldly proclaim:
The most elemental conditions of workers’ democracy were lacking right from the very beginning. There were neither Soviets, nor workers’ control, nor real labour unions independent of the State, nor an authentic Marxist leadership. This was because the revolution was carried out under the leadership of the Stalinists at the head of a peasant army and was not based on the working class in the cities.
This is another boldfaced falsehood. What is “authentic Marxist leadership”? Apparently, to Trotskyists, not endangering one’s revolution, putting the lives of millions of people at risk, and adapting to conditions to ensure the success and victory of the revolution makes one not an “authentic Marxist”. This is part of why Trotskyism had no standing in the Black liberation struggle that waxed in the 1960s and early 1970s. Stale dogma that is to be mechanically applied and swallowed whole, negating or playing down actually existing conditions simply didn’t and doesn’t hold up in regards to the liberatory mission of the Black masses in the United States. Those who take Marxism as a guide to action for liberation, not a dogma or a blueprint, and are creative in application, are the authentic Marxists. The Trotskyist line on the military aspects of the Chinese Revolution, represented by Chen Duxiu, a founder of the Chinese Communist party, which is reprinted here in the call for basing the revolution on the working class in the cities and struggling within the Kuomintang to take over the leadership, was thoroughly shown as baseless and incorrect, and almost resulted in the destruction of the Communist Party when put into practice. This is another Trotskyist trademark, continuing to push failed lines and tactics despite their being defeated time and again.
Mao Zedong and the Chinese Stalinists formed a state in China in the image of Stalinist Russia – a monstrous bureaucratic caricature of a workers’ state and therefore the Chinese Revolution of 1949 began where the Russian Revolution ended. We have to remember that the Chinese revolution abolished capitalism in China in spite of the perspectives of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Mao’s original perspective was that of one hundred years of capitalism. He had the Stalinist two-stages theory that stated that in a backward underdeveloped country socialist revolution was not possible and therefore the first stage would be “democratic”, i.e. bourgeois. Only after capitalism had developed would the struggle for socialism become possible. This theory was to be disproved by what happened once the Chinese Communists came to power.
Mao simply never said that there would be “one hundred years of capitalism”. What he did say, however, in On New Democracy (1940) was that:
This new-democratic republic will be different from the old European-American form of capitalist republic under bourgeois dictatorship, which is the old democratic form and already out of date. On the other hand, it will also be different from the socialist republic of the Soviet type under the dictatorship of the proletariat which is already flourishing in the U.S.S.R., and which, moreover, will be established in all the capitalist countries and will undoubtedly become the dominant form of state and governmental structure in all the industrially advanced countries. However, for a certain historical period, this form is not suitable for the revolutions in the colonial and semi-colonial countries. During this period, therefore, a third form of state must be adopted in the revolutions of all colonial and semi-colonial countries, namely, the new-democratic republic. This form suits a certain historical period and is therefore transitional; nevertheless, it is a form which is necessary and cannot be dispensed with…
Communism is at once a complete system of proletarian ideology and a new social system. It is different from any other ideology or social system, and is the most complete, progressive, revolutionary and rational system in human history. The ideological and social system of feudalism has a place only in the museum of history. The ideological and social system of capitalism has also become a museum piece in one part of the world (in the Soviet Union), while in other countries it resembles “a dying person who is sinking fast, like the sun setting beyond the western hills”, and will soon be relegated to the museum. The communist ideological and social system alone is full of youth and vitality, sweeping the world with the momentum of an avalanche and the force of a thunderbolt. The introduction of scientific communism into China has opened new vistas for people and has changed the face of the Chinese revolution. Without communism to guide it, China’s democratic revolution cannot possibly succeed, let alone move on to the next stage. This is the reason why the bourgeois die-hards are so loudly demanding that communism be “folded up”. But it must not be “folded up”, for once communism is “folded up”, China will be doomed. The whole world today depends on communism for its salvation, and China is no exception.
Everybody knows that the Communist Party has an immediate and a future programme, a minimum and a maximum programme, with regard to the social system it advocates. For the present period, New Democracy, and for the future, socialism; these are two parts of an organic whole, guided by one and the same communist ideology. Is it not, therefore, in the highest degree absurd to clamour for communism to be “folded up” on the ground that the Communist Party’s minimum programme is in basic agreement with the political tenets of the Three People’s Principles? It is precisely because of this basic agreement between the two that we Communists find it possible to recognize “the Three People’s Principles as the political basis for the anti-Japanese united front” and to acknowledge that “the Three People’s Principles being what China needs today, our Party is ready to fight for their complete realization”; otherwise no such possibility would exist. Here we have a united front between communism and the Three People’s Principles in the stage of the democratic revolution, the kind of united front Dr. Sun Yat-sen had in mind when he said: “communism is the good friend of the Three People’s Principles.” To reject communism is in fact to reject the united front. The die-hards have concocted absurd arguments for the rejection of communism. Just because they want to reject the united front and practice their one-party doctrine.
New Democracy is a specific, anti-imperialist, transitional stage for semi-colonial and colonial countries, not “100 years of capitalism”. It’s explicitly a break with the old bourgeois-democratic revolution, the era of which ended with WWI. There was never any withdrawal or “folding up” of communism. Nor did he have any phony illusions about the fact that China was to be a socialist country, and certainly didn’t embrace a line that stated that capitalism must first develop fully in China before socialism could exist. The principles of New Democracy are developed to loose colonial/semi-colonial countries from the shackles of imperialism, and are derived from the actual experience of making revolution in a country of that type. The Trotskyists’ Eurocentered dogma, divorced from reality and conditions, simply doesn’t hold good for making revolution in countries like China and Vietnam, where the primary contradiction was between the imperialists and their comprador lackies and the masses of freedom loving people who sought to destroy imperialism.The New Democratic Revolution is a part of the world proletarian socialist revolution, an ally and fighting comrade of the proletariat in capitalist countries. The IMT can’t fathom the New Democratic Revolution because they’re wrenched from the reality of the masses of people in the world who struggle in semi-feudal, semi-colonial conditions and instead choose to center themselves squarely in Europe. To them, all worthwhile development of theory or practice (which is notoriously scanty) ended with the death of Trotsky in 1940. The article goes on to say:
However, the bureaucracy had many shortcomings. In particular it had a narrow nationalist outlook which was characteristic of all the Stalinist regimes. Had China and Russia been genuine workers’ states they would have come together in a Socialist Federation with the countries of Eastern Europe and developed an international plan of production using in a combined and rational manner the human and material resources of all these countries. Instead ‑ as the Marxists had predicted ‑ the national outlook of both the Chinese and Soviet bureaucracies eventually brought about a conflict.
This led to the Sino-Soviet split in 1960. The Soviet bureaucracy had attempted to bring China within its “sphere of influence”. This the Chinese bureaucracy could not tolerate and as Mao had not come to power on the basis of an advancing Russian army (as in most East European countries) he had his own independent base similar to that of Tito. The Marxists in fact pointed out at the time that Stalin would have another Tito on his hands. As the conflict erupted, the Russian Stalinists withdrew all their aid, experts and so on, dealing a serious blow at Chinese development at the time. It was after this that the Chinese bureaucracy embarked on the utterly reactionary road of autarchy, isolating China from the rest of the world economy and thus from the international division of labour.
Where’s the narrow nationalist outlook? Every honest Communist knows that the People’s Republic of China in the Socialist era offered material assistance and support out of the spirit of proletarian internationalism to liberation movements and newly liberated countries around the world, from Vietnam to Cuba. It was also a firm friend of the Black liberation struggle waged in the United States. Socialism can exist in one country, this is what meshes with the facts regardless of the Trotskyists’ hysterical yammerings to the contrary. Class struggle continues under socialism and antagonistic classes continue to exist, those who would restore capitalism must be struggled against, bourgeois rights (discrepancies between mental and manual labor, etc.) must be combated and restricted, and communist relations must be consciously enacted through relying on and using the enthusiasm of the masses of workers and peasants for socialism. This is what the Chinese experience of socialist construction teaches us. Socialism can exist, and must be defended against capitalist restoration from newly engendered capitalist elements.The Trotskyite article also, annoyingly and arrogantly, continues to call the Trotskyists of this time “the Marxists”, and calls the Chinese path to socialist development and self sufficiency “autarky”. Perhaps if the PRC should have relied on the Trotskyists’ exports of arrogant bluster and bombast and newspapers! This article also simplifies the Sino-Soviet split, the worsening of relations due to the two-line struggle between the Soviet revisionists under Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, portraying it simply as a conflict between two stagnant, Stalinist deformed workers’ states. No mention of the capture of state power in the USSR by the bourgeoisie represented by Khrushchev and the attack on Stalin’s legacy in 1956 is made, nor is the Chinese Communist Party’s response and subsequent back and forth struggle between revisionism and actual genuine Marxism-Leninism seriously engaged with or discussed. What there is plenty of, however, is hollow and baseless dogmatic blustering and arrogance that is rooted in nothing material or real. This is especially obvious once the section “dealing” with the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution is read.
Between 1949 and 1957 average annual growth rate of the Chinese economy was 11%, and in the period from 1957 to 1970, industrial production continued to grow at 9%, far higher than in the capitalist world (in the same period India’s growth rate was less than half that of China’s.) In 1952 China was still only producing 1000 tractors per year, an indication that agriculture was still very primitive. By 1976 China was producing 190,000 tractors per year.
All this was achieved in spite of the disruption of adventures such as the Great Leap Forward in 1958 and the Cultural Revolution in 1966. The Great leap Forward was responsible for a serious drop in agricultural production, leading to a famine that took the lives of 15 million Chinese and between 1967 and 1968 there was a fall of 15% in industrial production, producing a sharp fall in the living standards of the masses. After these two major disruptions in economic development, the economy recovered thanks to the state plan.
Apparently, attempts to rectify that which the Trotskyists criticize “Stalinism” for are simply disruptive adventures. Deng Xiaoping, Liu Shaoqi, Peng Dehuai, and Lin Piao agree, as does Confucius. The Eurocentric and dogmatist Trotskyists can’t fathom the construction of socialism outside of their hard nosed and shamefully Eurocentric (which the IMT has a fig leaf for in the form of a relatively active branch in Pakistan) dogma.
The Great Leap Forward had errors, like all new things. The general line was to shift emphasis away from overfocus on heavy industry to promote development of agriculture and light industry, which would provide a base for the building of heavy industry (this was a rectification of a major error of Stalin’s), reduce the gap between town and countryside, and between the people, particularly between worker and peasant. Essentially, it was a revolution not just in economics, but in technology, politics, society and culture to fundamentally transform both town and countryside. This movement resulted in the organization of millions of people into communes, which undertook projects ranging from manufacture of tractors to forestry projects. Left deviations, the “communist wind”, such as efforts to collectivize small articles of peasant property, such as chickens and pigs, levelling off of “poor” and “rich” production brigades (which caused resentment among the latter, and excessive demand for labor without compensation/capital accumulation to the detriment of the peasants in regards to shares were the three major errors. These errors were corrected, and the Great Leap Forward was a major advance in revolutionizing the face of China. This was no adventure, this was revolution. The Cultural Revolution was the furthest advance of socialism to date, with the masses of Chinese workers and peasants taking active roles in advancing communist relations, criticizing and actively struggling against capitalist restoration in the country, and revolutionizing the structure of society, with workers managing factories and cadres engaging in production, students revolutionizing schools, and the mass movements unfolding massive criticism of revisionists within the party and within society. Obstinate party bureaucrats, the bane of the Trotskyists, were overthrown, and millions of people made revolution in all aspects of society. But, it was an adventure that stymied China, so say the Trotskyists! This shows, again, the limitations and stubbornness of their dogma, and they unite with revisionists and capitalist reactionaries the world over in portraying the Cultural Revolution as a mass purge of bureaucrats personally commanded by Mao himself, who is constantly called a Bonapartist dictator.
Although the planned economy allowed the Soviet Union to make tremendous progress in the development of the means of production, it still lagged far behind the advanced capitalist countries. But so long as the bureaucracy was developing the productive forces a relative stability was guaranteed to the Stalinist regime. Indeed in the 1930s not only were the productive forces being developed, they were developing at a much faster rate than in the capitalist world. This explains the resilience of the Stalinist regime in that period and also why the pro-capitalist tendencies within the bureaucracy could not yet crystallize into a viable force.
Trotsky, however, also explained that at a certain stage in its development the bureaucracy, from being a relative fetter, would become an absolute fetter on the development of the means of production. The rate of growth would slow down and this would reopen the possibility of capitalist restoration. This is what happened in the 1960s and 1970s. Economic growth in the Soviet Union first slowed to a level comparable to that of the capitalist West and then ground to a halt.
The Trotskyists here unite with Deng Xiaoping style revisionists and capitalist roaders, who also embraced the economistic “theory of productive forces” and didn’t grasp the necessity of relying on the masses of people, making revolution in the superstructure, and grasping revolution to promote production, instead putting experts and development of the productive forces in command. This was a major criticism of Stalin (who initially obtained this bad line, and others, in the first place from Trotsky himself), expressed by Mao:
“For a long time Stalin refused to recognize that under the socialist system contradictions between the relations of production and the forces of production and contradictions between the superstructure and the economic base continue to exist. It was only when he wrote Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR one year before his death that he hesitantly discussed the contradictions between the relations of production and the forces of production under the socialist system and said that if policies were incorrect or improperly regulated, problems would arise. Even so, he still did not present [the problem of] contradictions under a socialist system between the relations and the forces of production and between the superstructure and the economic base as an issue of overall significance, he still did not recognize that these contradictions are the basic contradictions that propel socialist society forward. He thought that his state was secure. We mustn’t think that the state is secure; it is secure and, at the same time, insecure.”
Essentially, this long screed is an example of the dead ended, Eurocentric, and frozen in time nature of Trotskyism as an ideology. While the Chinese Revolution and the socialist construction experience from 1949-1976 produced several new and universal military, philosophical and theoretical contributions to the arsenal of the world proletariat in the long march to the worldwide victory of Communism, Trotskyism as represented by the International Marxist Tendency is, fundamentally, a relic that has nothing of note or of import to offer the liberation project. It is rooted historically and theoretically in the Europe of the early 20th century, and, instead of adapting to changing conditions and developments, chooses instead to stubbornly remain rooted in the mind of a defeated man who undoubtedly participated with some distinction in the revolutionary project in Russia, but who held horribly incorrect lines and turned around theories, and was wrong more often than not the results of which were, ironically, shown to be flawed in practice when tested on that field by Stalin. This article and others where the IMT tries to tackle the Chinese Revolution are marked by dishonesty, divorce from reality, and an obvious lack of investigation free from dogmato-sectarian cherrypicking, and oftentimes delves into ludicrous fantasy, exemplified in the closing to another article.
On the basis of experience, the Chinese workers, peasants, students and intellectuals will rediscover the great revolutionary traditions of the past. The new generation will embrace the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and Chen Duxiu, the founder of Chinese Communism and its true heir. Napoleon once said of China: “When this giant awakens, the world will tremble.” We echo these words, with an amendment: the giant that is destined to shake the world is none other than the mighty Chinese proletariat. We look forward with impatience to the hour of that awakening.
Of all the revolutionary theoreticians, philosophers, and fighters in the history of the Communist movement, none has had as tangible, direct, and deep an impact on the struggle of the Black nation in the United States for emancipation from the bonds of national and economic exploitation and oppression as Mao Zedong. This peasants’ son from the world’s periphery, the semi-colony of Britain, France, the United States, and Japan, along with the revolutionary masses of China, dared to struggle and dared to win against those imperialists and against what Malcolm X called “Uncle Tom Chinese”, or Kuomintang (KMT) reactionaries, led by chief warlord Chiang Kai-Shek (Jiang Jieshi) who would see the masses of Chinese people enslaved and ground between the mountains of feudalism and imperialism. The Chinese people, led by Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party, sent the Japanese imperialists packing, chased the Americans and other colonial vampires out of their country, and drove Chiang and his gang of bandits and reactionary enemies of the people to the little island of Taiwan. On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong climbed to the top of Tienanmen Square in Peking and announced, boldly, that “the Chinese people have stood up”. This alone was enough to make the black masses of the Americas and Africa, struggling for liberation from these same enemies themselves, pay close attention. The principle of deriving correct methods of work, correct ideas, and correct leadership from the masses, and relying on the masses in one’s particular area and adapting to particular conditions to build bases, gain the support of the masses, learn from the masses, and struggle for revolution and towards liberation was even more appealing to people who had been told that nothing good came from anything nonwhite their entire lives and to whom, thanks to the efforts of a myriad of revisionist, class reductionist, and white chauvinist if not outright white supremacist individuals and parties, Marxism often appeared as a dead and sterile thing exported lock, stock and barrel from Europe, and to be taken dogmatically and applied mechanically. Huey P. Newton, one of the founding members of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, the most advanced revolutionary formation dedicated to black national liberation to date, read Mao’s work heavily (along with Marx, Engels, Lenin, Guevara, and many others), and came to the conclusion that
“Mao and Fanon and Guevara all saw clearly that the people had been stripped of their birthright and their dignity, not by philosophy and mere words, but at gunpoint. They had suffered a holdup by gangsters, and rape; for them, the only way to win freedom was to meet force with force.”
Although not citizens of a semi feudal country like China pre-1949, the Black masses in the United States too are an exploited and oppressed people, an oppressed nation, defined by our roots in mass kidnap from Africa, brutalization and naked, raw exploitation in the slave society, subsequently forced into debt peonage and semi-feudal conditions after the failure of the bourgeois democratic revolution (from the perspective of the masses of black enslaved people) that was Reconstruction, and racialized into the lowest segments of the proletariat after the Great Migration to the North. Currently, vast numbers of the black masses have found themselves semi or fully lumpenized (joining the ranks of the perpetually unemployed and criminal) in major part due to the export of manufacturing capital that formerly employed black workers to the Global South. In essence, we who are Black in the United States have been held up by the same gangsters that also pillaged and are still pillaging the masses of working people the world over, by force. The only thing that will root out and destroy this oppression and emancipate the masses of people the world over is to meet this oppressive force with people’s force, the world over, and to realize the universal correctness of political power being rooted in the ability to establish and wield force, people’s force to beat pig’s force. This Maoist principle was attractive to the Black revolutionaries of the 1960s, who had cut their teeth in the nonviolent Civil Rights Struggle and, through practice, learned the banality of a violently oppressed people applying nonviolence and appealing to the conscience of their enemies. Revolutionary people’s force needs revolutionary people’s theory, and that being applied the world over by the most oppressed and exploited masses of people is that of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
The Revolutionary Action Movement was formed by Black members of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in 1962. The black revolutionary leader of the Monroe, North Carolina, NAACP branch, R.F. Williams, who issued calls for Black people nationwide to arm themselves and be prepared to use weapons to defend themselves from white supremacist terror, had recently been forced into exile in Cuba by the fascistic tactics of the FBI and other government apparatus. The nascent RAM group initially was organized around studying Williams, discussing his work and his impact on the consciousness and practical struggle of the masses of Black people in the United States. RAM eventually began to develop links with people around the country, including Malcolm X, and also opened contact with R.F. Williams, who the group named International Chairman in Cuba. This group was a serious attempt, the first, to synthesize revolutionary Black nationalism in the vein of Malcolm X and Robert F. Williams with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, and forge links of solidarity with the liberation movements in colonized countries the world over. RAM also developed ties with veteran Communists, such as former CPUSA luminary Harry Haywood and Audley Moore, who helped develop, support, and educate the group’s cadre. The group’s 12 Point Program called for the development of Rifle Clubs, a national black student movement, propaganda, training centers and a national organization, and other things that essentially served to set it up as a sort of revolutionary vanguard for the Black nation in the United States. Essentially, the group’s leaders saw themselves as urban versions of the Chinese Red/People’s Liberation Army. Seeing is one thing, actually being is another. This group was rife with problems, issues and contradictions that served to alienate it from, instead of uniting it with, the masses of people on whom any revolution of the type that it planned on waging relied. The group had extremely poor gender practice, viewing making revolution as a “man’s job”, and the masses of women as auxiliaries, water-carriers, or in various support jobs. This male chauvinist line and behavior simply would not do for a vanguard force of the Black nation, where the liberation struggle that has been waged in various forms ever since the beginning of the slave society has been led in major part by women such as Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Nanny of Jamaica, and many others. For an organization claiming to be dedicated to struggling for the liberation of the Black nation in a vanguard role to wholesale neglect or artificially reduce the critical role of non-men and refuse to accept their leadership or critical role in making revolution is to, fundamentally, negate that organization’s place in the Black liberation struggle and certainly not entitle it to declare itself a “vanguard”, because non-men are the roots on which that liberation struggle is founded. Mao said that women hold up half the sky, in the Black nation, women hold up the sky and stop the ground from eroding away.
RAM also made critical strategic and tactical errors. The main focus of this group was on spectacular armed actions, confronting the government on an armed basis, and a generally heavily militaristic line. They famously declared that a people’s war could be won in 90 days, spent more time traveling around the country to various cities that had recently made insurrections, and generally put the gun in command of the party. Armed struggle, the highest form of struggle, is undoubtedly important and is the only way, in the final analysis, to win power for the people, but sole focus on the armed aspect of struggle while neglecting the masses’ day-to-day struggles is an adventurist and ultra-left recipe for defeat. For a people’s war to succeed, it must have base areas of support, where the people’s political power is developing and is in command. Police can’t come in base areas, and the army thinks twice. The people’s army relies on the masses and swims among them like fish swim through water, it does not stand apart and advance from its own desires. RAM took no concrete, lasting, and deep steps to develop revolutionary bases and people’s power, learn from and build among the masses, reach out to and forge serious and deep ties with other oppressed nationalities in the United States, and thus could not begin the process of making revolution and building power for the people. It failed to successfully apply the mass line, conduct day-to-day work, meet the needs of the people, or lead struggle on a mass basis. It antagonized, attacked and alienated as opposed to conducting principled struggle, there was no unity-criticism-unity, and it treated vacillating elements like the enemy. Cadre began getting arrested, breaking discipline by using drugs and alcohol excessively, picking fights with each other, and the organization had fallen apart by 1969, the first victim of J.Edgar Hoover’s Gestapo-type COINTELPRO machinations. Yet, its legacy stands as the first project that sought to lend the Black liberation struggle a scientific socialist and dialectical materialist character, even if it failed, this failure holds lessons for us today. We shouldn’t judge our past too harshly, we should judge ourselves harshly for failing to learn the lessons our predecessors laid out for us and in many cases paid for in blood or prison. Black communist revolutionaries that fail to build firm links with and rely on the masses, that fail to apply the mass line, that fail to put the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist weapon of proletarian feminist theory and practice in command, that put guns and spectacular actions in command instead of proletarian politics, and who fail to realize the universality of protracted struggle will not be successful in carrying out the tasks of the proletarian revolution. Failure to effectively translate theory into practice, derive new theory from practice, and unite with and rely on the broad masses of the people is the ultimate failure and this failure is a fate worse than death. Mao teaches:
To link oneself with the masses, one must act in accordance with the needs and wishes of the masses. All work done for the masses must start from their needs and not from the desire of any individual, however well-intentioned. It often happens that objectively the masses need a certain change, but subjectively they are not yet conscious of the need, not yet willing or determined to make the change. In such cases, we should wait patiently. We should not make the change until, through our work, most of the masses have become conscious of the need and are willing and determined to carry it out. Otherwise we shall isolate ourselves from the masses. Unless they are conscious and willing, any kind of work that requires their participation will turn out to be a mere formality and will fail…. There are two principles here: one is the actual needs of the masses rather than what we fancy they need, and the other is the wishes of the masses, who must make up their own minds instead of our making up their minds for them. – The United Front in Cultural Work
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded on October 15, 1966, in Oakland, California by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Seale was a former member of RAM, and Newton was a working class college student. Both took note of the consistent crimes and depredations committed against the black masses of Oakland, and had also been deeply studying the work of revolutionary theoreticians and leaders. Both were familiar with the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Fanon, and Mao, and were ready for practice. They together developed a 10 point program calling for an end to the robbery of the Black community by capitalists, shelter fit for human beings, the release of all black prisoners from government custody, and other demands centered from the analysis of the needs and wishes of the black masses. They also, like RAM, followed R.F. Williams’ line of armed self defense. The BPP sold copies of Quotations from Chairman Mao at local campuses to raise funds for the purchase of shotguns. This is significant, as the books sold extremely well. In May of 1966, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the highest advance of socialism to date, began in China, as the masses of people were mobilized to combat the revisionism and restoration of capitalism that had already claimed as its prize the Soviet Union. Seeing young Red Guards denouncing counterrevolutionaries, destroying vestiges of the old order, and firmly struggling against the restoration of capitalism in the country that their parents and grandparents had shed blood to liberate struck a fire in the hearts of students and youth in the United States and Europe, and the rest of the 1960s would be years of youth rebellion against capitalism, against imperialism, and against old things, old ideas, old practices and old customs across both the West and East. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense epitomized and united revolutionary black youth across the country, and had a mass base in black communities as diverse as Omaha, New York City, Washington, DC., East Saint Louis, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Kansas City. Unlike RAM, which operated in a secretive and clandestine fashion, the people saw and loved the Black Panther Party. The party began Serve the People programs, offering free food, healthcare, transportation to visit loved ones who were in prison, and clothing to the black masses in black districts all across the country. The Party also acquired prestige by militantly struggling against the police, conducting patrols of neighborhoods, educating black people about their constitutional rights, and generally irritating and frustrating the pigs’ designs to continue exploiting and harassing the black communities of this prisonhouse of nations. The Panthers also introduced millions of Black people to revolutionary theory and practice, and the need for a revolution. The power of the Party was so great that it even reached overseas to the Vietnam theatre of the American war against national liberation movements, with more black soldiers embracing the Panthers than the pig war. Many returned home and joined. The prestige and ability of the Panthers to move the masses was so great that pig chief J.Edgar Hoover declared them the greatest internal security threat to the United States.
The BPP had enough internal contradictions of its own. From its onset, the Party was oriented towards and organized around the lumpenproletariat, or the class of society that is comprised of pimps, drug dealers, thieves, and other criminals. This class in relation to the proletariat, the revolutionary class, is a parasitic one, one that robs, kills, and steals from the proletariat. Yet, Newton was keen on organizing the “brothers on the block”, or the people that hung around in pool rooms, bars, and other such places. The lumpenproletariat, under proletarian leadership, can in many cases be revolutionized. The Chinese Red Army was itself able to win over gangs of bandits and others of that sort. But, the lumpenproletariat itself is not a revolutionary class, and mistakes on this question lead to fatal issues.This lumpen line contributed to and fostered terribly bad gender practice within the party. If you’re organizing and admitting into your party pimps and others who had habits of abusing and seeing women as objects, subordinate to and inferior to men, and make no serious attempt to struggle with and genuinely rectify them, and make these pig men into new men by seriously employing the method of criticism-self criticism, you will have major and fatal problems.
Our aim in exposing errors and criticizing shortcomings, like that of a doctor curing a sickness, is solely to save the patient and not to doctor him to death. A person with appendicitis is saved when the surgeon removes his appendix. So long as a person who has made mistakes does not hide his sickness for fear of treatment or persist in his mistakes until he is beyond cure, so long as he honestly and sincerely wishes to be cured and to mend his ways, we should welcome him and cure his sickness so that he can become a good comrade. We can never succeed if we just let ourselves go and lash out at him. In treating an ideological or a political malady, one must never be rough and rash but must adopt the approach of “curing the sickness to save the patient”, which is the only correct and effective method.- Rectify the Party’s Style of Work
The BPP had a lot of sick patients who didn’t want to and wouldn’t be saved. This was a major insult to the Panther women who built and maintained the Serve the People programs and who made up a near majority of the party’s membership. There were fierce struggles over the role of women in the BPP, and the ball was dropped on several occasions. Perhaps if the Party didn’t make a strategy of organizing men from the lumpenproletariat first and foremost, and instead had developed mass organizations of working women? The BPP didn’t just orient towards the lumpen, however, it saw them as a vanguard, or the most advanced segment of the Black nation! The working class was seen as docile and weak. This mistake resulted in the admission of all sorts of people who had committed serious crimes against the people, such as the admitted and practically unrepentant serial rapist and abuser of women, Eldridge Cleaver. Cleaver had been admitted to the party, pushed the lumpen line heavily, and eventually gathered around himself a clique that pushed an ultraleftist, militaristic guerilla warfare line, which called the black masses into the streets to pick up guns and wage a war, one that probably wouldn’t have turned out in their favor. On the other hand, Huey Newton’s faction, centered in Oakland, placed primacy on “survival pending revolution”, after his release from prison, which was a euphemism for social democracy. Put down the gun, pick up the bag of food and take it across the street, and that’s all. Cleaver ended up in exile, with Newton threatening to have him thrown in jail, eventually returning to the United States and becoming a full on reactionary, complete with Mormonism and Republican Party affiliation. Newton presided over a withering and dying party, ripped to shreds primarily by internal conflicts and the mercilessly violent harassment of the FBI and other pig agencies, which hunted and executed Panther with especial gusto after the election of Richard Nixon to the Presidency in 1968. As a matter of fact, California police celebrated Nixon’s victory by shooting out the windows of a Black Panther Party office. Newton was murdered in 1989, 6 years after the Party disbanded itself after essentially becoming a left wing political alternative, with Elaine Brown fostering a close relationship with the California Democratic Party. Almost 20 years earlier, Newton was in Peking having dinner with Jiang Qing and conferring with Premier Zhou Enlai.
It’s 2016. The fascist Donald Trump, he who calls down beatings and violence on individuals who attend his rallies simply because they are Black or Brown or Muslim, who has expressed his willingness to use nuclear weapons on Europe (and Chicago), is a serious contender for President and has captured the Republican nomination. The country is polarizing sharply and rapidly, and many millions of desperate youth and working class people have lost their fear of the word “socialism”. How has the communist movement advanced since the 1960s? The universal ideology, theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the highest stage of revolutionary ideology, theory and practice, was developed in the course of People’s War in Peru in the 1980s and early 1990s, and is currently being applied to carry out revolution in the Philippines and India. There are millions of communists around the world making revolution and constructing a new world for themselves after centuries of feudal domination, colonialism, and capitalist exploitation in the worst way. These communists are Marxist-Leninist-Maoists, and they ain’t European. In the United States, during the upheavals and struggles of the 1960s, tens of thousands of Black revolutionaries studied the Chinese experience, learned from the experience of that non-European country that had thrown off the beasts of capital, empire, and country-selling compradors, and made it their own struggle. We are now at a time when many black workers, students, and increasingly broad sections of the masses in general are seriously considering revolution again. Sick of America, sick of capitalism and all the trimmings, and ready for the higher stage of development. The mistakes of the last period, the abuse and maltreatment of revolutionary women, the adventurist gun and war worship lines that end people up like the Black Liberation Army and the Weather Underground, the bogging down in social democratic programs that give the Baptist Church a run for its money, the inability to apply the mass line and instead make up ideas in our own heads and try to foist them on the masses to our detriment and ultimate failure, impatience, ignorance of the basic concepts of protracted warfare, trying to rush a revolution and rushing into our graves or into prisons, and the treatment of potential friends among the masses as real enemies, are lessons for us in what not to do. This isn’t 1965. We are extremely fortunate that we have the benefit of hindsight to observe what our predecessors did wrong, what they did right, and the subsequent experiences of People’s Wars being fought and Marxism-Leninism-Maoism being applied all around the world to the benefit of millions. We can put proletarian feminism in command and beat down misogynoir, making a million Harriet Tubmans in the process. We can build base areas in the hoods and ghettoes, and make the Panthers’ wildest dreams come true. We have internet now, after all. We can build new institutions that the masses of people trust and use in lieu of pig institutions, built on their basis, not on that of the slavemaster and the landlord. We don’t need the police, we need us. We can make Darren Wilsons feel afraid to come in our neighborhoods, not the other way around. We can build strong solidarity and unity with other oppressed nationalities and progressive segments of the white proletariat instead of trying to struggle alone. We can build international links with experienced and veteran comrades and the masses the world over, learning from and teaching each other. It can be our time, if we’ll seize the time and learn the lessons of the past, and applying the universal theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to guide us to a revolutionary future.