For release in July 2013
At our First Congress earlier this year, the founding delegates of the NCP (OC) adopted a Resolution Against Patriarchy and ratified our Principles of Unity upholding a proletarian feminist position. However, the passage of organizational documents is only a formal first step. They remain only words on paper if there are no actions to back them up.
Like other bourgeois and reactionary ideologies that must be continuously defeated through two-line struggle, the patriarchal values and male chauvinist practices that dominate this society have their reflection inside the communist movement and within communist organizations. They must be confronted and overcome through class struggle, inner-organization struggle, and inner-struggle. Like those who “wave the red flag to oppose the red flag,” groups, tendencies, and individuals can pose intellectually as feminists while at the same time failing to politicize women, commodifying and objectifying women, and engaging in abusive male chauvinist behavior.
Maoists are not afraid of criticism. Truthful criticism from others should be embraced without anger, in order to strengthen oneself, to improve one’s practice, and to better serve the people and the proletarian revolution. Self-criticism should be made openly and willingly whenever one has done wrong, without prompting by comrades and the masses. There is no place for the individualist ego, a belief in one’s own self-importance that throws up a defensive barrier in the face of truthful criticism, refuses to conduct genuine self-criticism and hides one’s mistakes, and evades rectification.
Practicing criticism and self-criticism, communists in general are guided by the principle that we do not fear criticism “because we are Marxists, the truth is on our side, and the basic masses, the workers and peasants, are on our side” (Mao Zedong).
For our anti-patriarchy rectification campaign, the NCP (OC) in particular is guided by our Resolution Against Patriarchy stating: “We call upon communists who have made patriarchal errors in their lives to carry out honest accounting, self-criticism, and rectification of their mistakes.”
In the inner-organization struggle and inner-struggle against patriarchy, we have noticed several manifestations of liberalism that must be identified and rooted out. We point these out here because they prevail among many communists in the US and are also by no means exclusive to communists.
-Failing to criticize male chauvinism among comrades when it appears that there are no immediate political consequences for lack of criticism or that there are negative social consequences for making criticisms.
-Consistently giving lower priority to the struggle against patriarchy, especially to the inner-struggle to transform oneself in practice into a proletarian feminist, even though this is a central and strategic question for the socialist revolution in the US. The communist movement in this country largely exists as a scattering of committees and advanced individuals. In such a landscape, unremolded male chauvinist thinking and practice in even a single individual has an exaggerated effect and can function as an obstacle to the immediate advance of the movement.
-Discussing the need for revolutionary women’s organizations in the abstract, or pointing to women’s mass organizations in other countries as models of what need to be built in the US, when the main problem in a particular situation centers instead on the thinking and practice of individual communists. This involves reducing the women’s question from a political matter into simply an organizational matter. It is an easy way to avoid the difficult process of reflecting on individual beliefs and actions, their origins in social practice and life experiences, and what needs to be done to consciously transform them.
-Posturing as a militant against women’s oppression and even verbalizing extreme positions when there is a broad injustice in society against women, but becoming guarded when one’s own practice is questioned or one’s own patriarchal privileges are at stake.
-Resting content with areas of political work that have over a period of many years achieved little to nothing in the development of women’s participation and leadership as communists. Justifying this prolonged stagnation with the notion that politics is traditionally an arena for men of the ruling classes and that it will take a long time to change this situation, failing to recognize that Maoists struggling in far more unfavorable conditions have made far greater advances.
-Failing to study the Marxist position on the women’s question, despite years of being a communist and gaining a theoretical and historical grasp of many other subjects.
-Resting content with having a familiarity with various contemporary feminist theories, which have little to do with the mobilization, organization, and politicization of the masses of toiling women from a Maoist perspective. Believing that theoretical familiarity with different feminist trends makes one a feminist in practice. Paying lip service to feminism while still using male chauvinist language.
-Promoting images of women engaged in militant struggles far away in other countries, but doing little to nothing to develop the capacity of the women around oneself to take up more and better political work.
-Viewing organizational work, planning, and logistics as “bureaucratism,” preferring informality in their place. Using social settings for political strategizing and decision-making, leading to a “boy’s club” of the self-selected. Consistently failing to follow through on organizational tasks in a timely fashion and being unable to meet deadlines. Consistently conducting work in a frenzied and last-minute manner, without the advance preparations necessary for those who have little experience in political work, have domestic responsibilities, etc. to become full participants.
-Finally, using the process of rectification, and its emphasis on remolding rather than strictly punitive organizational measures (e.g. suspension, expulsion), as a way to in fact evade rectification.
Each of these manifestations of liberalism must be identified by communists and uprooted through inner-organization struggle and inner-struggle. Some of them are likely to be familiar to other revolutionaries, such as anarchists and revolutionary nationalists. Problems of liberalism are compounded by amateurishness, a major shortcoming among communists in the US, many lacking developed experience in revolutionary struggle.
This is not an exhaustive list. It addresses only some of the main types of liberalism among communists and within communist organizations. It is not meant to assess the contradictions confronted in mass work among women, which have their own particularities and deserve a separate summation in their own right, investigating for example how the notion of “sisterhood” in capitalist society often covers up the reality of competitive individualism among women of the oppressed classes and determining how to fight against this.
As its first major internal campaign, the NCP (OC) carries out its Anti-Patriarchy Rectification Campaign to strengthen our organization along the line of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and proletarian feminism. It involves regular criticism and self-criticism that examines individual thinking and practice, behavior in personal relationships, the impact of patriarchal values and male chauvinism on our lives from childhood on, the division of domestic work, and the division of different types of organizational work, e.g. administrative work vs. theoretical work. It also involves a renewed focus in the fields of theory, propaganda, agitation, and struggles on the strategic importance of the battle for women’s emancipation.
As stated in the Resolution Against Patriarchy of our founding congress, “Women of the exploited and oppressed classes must be politicized and organized into a proletarian feminist movement. A revolutionary movement of women must emerge to play a decisive role in the struggles of the proletariat and the oppressed masses, and these struggles must make themselves into indomitable weapons for women’s emancipation.” None of this can be achieved if the initial accumulation of forces is carried out on a basis that allows patriarchal values and male chauvinism to fester and does not continuously wage struggle against liberalism in this area.
Central Committee, NCP (OC)
Women’s and Queer Department, NCP (OC)