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March 25, 2014

Philippine state forces arrested Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon, consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), along with five other people this past weekend in Cebu province. The military and police, alleging that Wilma Austria is the Secretary General and Benito Tiamzon the Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), seized the two militants on warrants, according to news reports, for “crimes against humanity,” “murder,” and “frustrated murder.”

Various figures of the Philippine state and the Aquino government, including the Defense Secretary, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, and the Presidential Spokesman of the current Philippine president―the highest political representatives of the exploiting and dominant classes in the Philippines―took to the media to announce their triumph.

“The AFP, Philippine National Police (PNP) and other stakeholders in pursuit of peace and security” achieved a victory in the arrest of the “criminals” and soon “other criminals” will share their fate, said the AFP Chief of Staff. A “big blow” has been struck against the leadership of the CPP and the New People’s Army (NPA), said the Presidential Spokesman.

The gloating personalities of the Philippine state resemble Melville’s Captain Delano, aboard a Spanish slave ship with only a fleeting sense of paranoia, well-pleased with his exalted place and oblivious to the massive force of the slave insurrection underway around him.

In the precise circumstances of the arrests, the relation of law and legal ideology to class exploitation is immediately visible. Following a lengthy period of surveillance, the Philippine state applied its (criminal) penal code to sanction the capture of individuals whom it at the same time accuses of leading a (political) revolutionary movement. Meanwhile, the same state also sanctions the routine extrajudicial killing of dissidents, of which there have been at least 174 cases under the current president alone. The penal code obviously does not apply to these cases, since no one has been arrested and prosecuted.

Could there be a clearer confirmation of the truth—in the words of the revolutionary Soviet jurist Evgeny Pashukanis—that “the criminal jurisdiction of the bourgeois state is organized class terror”?

The situation compels us further to address two relations: (1) the state as the condition of the system of codified rules called ‘law’ and (2) the law as legal ideology which reflects the material order of exploitation and domination. Without clarity on these relations, any treatment of law, justice, and rights has already reconciled itself to the falsely universal claims of bourgeois ideology. In other words, an understanding of the cases of Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon must be sought outside the Philippine state’s self-referential system of law which levels the accusation of ‘criminal’ against them, and instead in the class contradictions of semi-colonial and semi-feudal Philippine society, which necessarily produce, on the one hand, proletarian revolutionaries and on the other hand, bourgeois legality with its corresponding system of sanctions, and will continue to do so until the end of exploitation and oppression.

THE AFP AND THE PNP: “STAKEHOLDERS IN PURSUIT OF PEACE AND SECURITY”

At the press conference following the arrest of Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon, the AFP Chief of Staff referred to the AFP and the PNP as “stakeholders in pursuit of peace and security.” By “peace,” he meant the bloody end of all mass resistance to the exploitation of one part of society by another. By “security,” he meant the uninterrupted reproduction of the relations of exploitation in which the big comprador bureaucratic bourgeoisie (CBB) and the big landlords appropriate the labor of workers and peasants.

In this sense, the AFP and the PNP are more than “stakeholders” (note the clumsy and comical adoption of the language of corporate governance by the chief of staff of the AFP: “In the colonies the truth stood naked”). Rather, the AFP and the PNP are the pillars of the state apparatus through which the big CBB and the big landlords wield state power.

Law, as the codified body of rules which regulate and consolidate relations of production and the corresponding social relations of class society, has as its condition this state apparatus. It is therefore insufficient to merely note the inseparable bond between law and the state (= violence). Their articulation must be grasped as a precise ordering: the law depends on the state, and both law and state are manifestations of class antagonisms. The “special bodies of armed men” (Lenin, The State and Revolution)―the military, police, guards, and executioners―guarantee the smooth functioning of the legal system that formalizes, without naming them, social relations of exploitation at the economic level. In the Philippines, these relations are dominated at the level of the social formation by the big CBB, the transmission belt of imperialism in Philippine society.

The means by which the law is enforced―the courts―must be recognized as itself part of the state apparatus. “The state apparatus, including the army, the police and the courts, is the instrument by which one class oppresses another.” [emphasis added] (Mao, On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship)

The law is class repression. Nowhere does this come into sharper focus than in the specific field of criminal law, where “the legal relationship achieves its maximum intensity” and for this reason “assumes the role of the representative of law in general.” (Evgeny Pashukanis, The General Theory of Law and Marxism)

The criminal charges against Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon directly form part of the class struggle waged by the ruling classes against the dominated and exploited classes. In particular, the Aquino government’s violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) demonstrates its lack of interest in peace negotiations and its intent to intensify its war against the masses.

In other words: the recourse to the law in this case precisely expresses the rejection of all legality. With these charges, the ruling classes have come out nakedly in favor of intensifying their war effort with the aim of mastering the class struggle against the dominated and exploited classes.

“TULOY ANG LABAN!”

In the legal ideology at play in the situation, there is hardly any masking of the class interests involved.

In this way, the law is not a “legal ideological state apparatus” defined by its “specific function” of ensuring “the functioning of capitalist relations of production.” (Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism)

Rather, legal ideology is the “ideal expression of the dominant material relations, the dominant material relations grasped as ideas,” which has no history of its own. (Marx, The German Ideology). Legal ideology here is “exactly what it looks like.” (Alain Badiou, On Ideology). The motive force of ideology always lies outside it, in the real of history, even if its representative form always denies that such an outside exists.

The state tribunal declares: “You are a criminal!” The accused replies: “Tuloy ang laban!” (“the fight continues”). There is no intricate process of hailing and recognition, only the class struggle expressed by way of a rupture with the court itself—that is, through the voiding of genuine communication between the antagonists by the accused.

The law here represents an effort to reduce that rupture to a dialogue, in this way transforming the class contradiction that governs the current historical moment into a play of non-essential differences (the ‘diversity’ of society). This play of differences is guaranteed by the exteriorization of the antagonism onto a term (the individual criminal) conceived of as operating beyond class. The proposal of dominant ideology is thus to master the class struggle by transferring its antagonistic character outside of society. The ruling classes hope that the imprisonment of Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon will transform the people’s war into a legal dialogue.

But the masses know that people’s war depends precisely on their refusal to speak to the class enemy on its own terms and thus to cede the initiative to its bloody institutions. The people’s war proceeds from the affirmation that it is the social antagonism that is fundamental. The actions of the Philippine state only reinforce that affirmation, and with it the power of the masses to see their struggle through to the end. The refusal to speak to the class enemy—the rupture represented by the declaration that “the fight continues”—discloses the reality of permanent resistance to class domination.

The highest aspirations of the broad masses―including the always-present desire among them for a classless, stateless society―can find only a distorted place in the various regions of the ruling ideology, whether legal, political, religious, artistic or philosophical. For example, the dominant notion of ‘human rights’ refers to the ideal attributes of the citizen in bourgeois ‘civil society,’ which must be opposed to the strategic defense of the people’s rights in an accumulation of forces in the path of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

For Maoists, ideology only exists in the form of concrete ideological class tendencies—as ideologies in the plural—and not as a monolithic functional mechanism that inserts individuals into places marked out by relations of production. Ideologies always articulate material contradictions. It is only from the perspective of real social antagonisms that (dominant, dominated) ideologies find their sense.

When the Philippine state accuses Wilma Austria and Benito Tiamzon of being “criminals,” there is no ambiguity about what is really meant by the term. As the charges are closely accompanied everywhere by ludicrous state proclamations on the impending defeat of the 45-year-old people’s war, and occur practically within a permanent state of exception where the Aquino government approves the routine extrajudicial killing of its opponents, the formal universality of legal ideology appears here almost as an auxiliary consideration.

“Criminal!”―the word is an overt political expedient in the given situation.

The big CBB and the big landlords who exploit and dominate know that the word is another name for ‘communist’ and consciously deploy this ideological maneuver to rally their political forces.

The movement of the masses in the Philippines, struggling for national democracy under the political leadership of the proletariat, also knows this and rejects the characterization of ‘criminal.’ They know who is ‘criminal’ in the mind of the exploiters: not only the alleged CPP leader or alleged NPA red fighter, but also the worker who demands a wage hike, the peasant who marches for land, and the student who joins demonstrations against US military bases. The people in the US must also learn this, reject the characterization of the masses and their political leaders as ‘criminals,’ and unite in action.

Revolution is no crime! To rebel is justified!

—Roswitha Bronski Writing Group, for the NCP (OC)

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Ignite-MLM will be a mass organization, guided by the proletarian class thought of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, which will seek to bring to the masses the task of building a Maoist Communist Party of the proletariat and the people.

What is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM)?

MLM prescribes an orientation to history in which the universality of the past is not referable to a model to be copied, but rather is formed in the actual conjuncture in which we practice its lessons. Because the universality of the past is formed in the particularity of the present, history is not an undifferentiated totality of unordered elements. Thus, to be a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist is not to ‘add up’ the achievements of Marx, Lenin and Mao.  Rather, MLM draws out lessons, in the form of ruptures, from the practical experience of the proletariat and the people, concentrated in the events of the Paris Commune, the October Revolution and the Chinese Revolution, in particular the sequence of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. In the uniform cloth of history, these events constitute knots of accumulated and intensified contradictions. As Lenin clearly understood, there is no universal ‘exchange of equivalents’ between such events. The knot is what makes the place that it occupies a genuine place—irreducible to any other place—from which it can exercise its power. Such nodal points actively orient our own practice in the current political conjuncture. MLM is the political synthesis of the revolutionary experiences of the masses, seized in the form of a discontinuous series of historical events with the organizing class knowledge of the proletariat.

What are the universal lessons and breaks of MLM?  How is the antagonistic contradiction bourgeoisie / proletariat transformed in each of the historical events to which MLM refers?

In a famous 1852 letter to Weydemeyer, Marx summed up his own contribution to proletarian class thought as the attempt “1. to show that the existence of classes is merely bound up with certain historical phases in the development of production; 2. that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat3. that this dictatorship itself constitutes no more than a transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.”[i] The triple thesis of Marx is the following: class struggle finds its essence in relations of production; these relations in turn find their essence in the political field they open up, the dictatorship of the proletariat; the dictatorship of the proletariat in turn finds its essence in its own extinction by stages. Through the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the class struggle is inscribed in the finality of a society without a state—that is, a society without classes. This communist finality constitutes the proletariat as a class in the political sense.

The Leninist rupture begins with a reactivation of a thesis Marx developed through the experience of the Paris Commune. In his April 1871 letter to Kugelmann on the Paris Commune, Marx wrote: “I declare that the next attempt of the French Revolution will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it, and this is the precondition for every real people’s revolution on the Continent. And this is what our heroic Party comrades in Paris are attempting.”[ii] The smashing of the bourgeois state apparatus and its replacement by a proletarian state apparatus was the main positive lesson that Lenin drew from the experience of the Paris Commune. In 1871, the commune state was itself quickly smashed. In What is to Be Done?, Lenin invents the organized and subjective apparatus of the proletarian party in order to master what the Paris Commune could not master: the reproduction of the dictatorship of the proletariat.  The party is an organized instrument of professional militants whose object is the seizure and maintenance of state power.

However, the Leninist party poses new problems. Before the revolution, there exists a situation of dual power embodied in the organized party of the proletariat and the bourgeois state. After the victory of the revolution, the party is sutured to the (proletarian) state.  How, then, do we proceed to a society without a state?

This question of the splitting of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the problem addressed by the Maoist break: on the one hand, the proletarian dictatorship (= the political class domination of the proletariat), if reinforced by an increasing identification of the party with the proletarian state apparatus, leads us back to the restoration of capitalism through the formation of a bureaucratic bourgeoisie; on the other hand, if it is extinguished in stages, we find ourselves on the road to communism. In the epoch of the Cultural Revolution—and we are still in that epoch, living and practicing the universal lessons of the Cultural Revolution and addressing the contradictions it was itself unable to resolve—the political is exhausted neither by the organized party of the proletariat nor by the state. Maoism represents a return to the mass perspective—a perspective on the present from the standpoint of the future communist society.

What is the content of the relationship between the broad masses (and mass organizations) and the class party of the proletariat in the epoch of Maoism?

This question must be grasped as a problem whose genealogy is a series of divisions: what divides Marxism from utopian socialism is that Marxism is bound up with the question of organized knowledge; what divides Leninism from the Marxism of the nineteenth century is that the Leninist party is conceived as the means of bringing class consciousness to the masses in order to organize the taking of state power through revolution; what divides Maoism from Leninism is that the political organization of the Maoist party must be principally understood as the systematization of the dispersed—but ultimately correct—ideas of the masses from the strategic perspective of communism.

The Marxism of Marx and Engels was historically determined as a scientific corrective to the petty bourgeois dreaming of utopian socialists (Fourier, Owen). Marx and Engels recognized that the proletariat was the first class in history able to lead its own revolution because it could scientifically elaborate the class struggle and establish forms of organization capable of transforming social relations of exploitation and domination in order to master them.

For Lenin, the relationship between the party and the masses principally involves penetration of class elements (organized knowledge and politics) into the real mass movement. This formulation holds to the perspective of the seizure of state power through revolution—that is, it remains within the horizon of the socialist transition and the class perspective of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In the political logic of Leninism, the party-state reproduces itself indefinitely as the sole repository of science, and organization becomes primarily identified with the iron discipline and structure needed to prevent infiltration from the outside. Everything happens as if the party-state is the maker of history, rather than the masses.

On the contrary, Maoism holds to the mass perspective, in which knowledge is understood to merge tendentially with the direct practice of the masses as we approach the communist future. However, this in turn requires that knowledge be grasped from the start in its dialectical division between the masses (as its practical source and place of deployment) and the class apparatus of the party (as that which concentrates mass ideas in the form of slogans and political directives). Organization here is no longer to be understood primarily as a disciplined state apparatus, but as the systematization of mass ideas in light of class analysis. The spiraling movement of the class-masses dialectic—what Maoists call the mass line—tends towards its own extinction in stages, as the state-form of science merges with mass knowledge.

The mass line is not an instrument (for carrying out effective work, for popularizing Marxism, for integrating oneself among the masses) but is the Maoist name for dialectical materialism, the Marxist theory of knowledge.

We must on no account relegate Maoism to the period following the victory of the revolution, as if the proper names ‘Marx,’ ‘Lenin’ and ‘Mao’ designated a path to be followed sequentially in each revolutionary process.  We are not Leninists during the revolutionary process and Maoists after the taking of state power. The Maoist rupture extends to all stages along the road to communism, including the revolutionary stage that culminates in the seizure of state power. At this stage, the Maoist strategy of Protracted People’s War (PPW) breaks with the October Road. This is not to be understood in a narrowly empiricist sense: we do not aim to surround the cities from the countryside, and we do not intend to mobilize a (non-existent) US peasantry to become the principal force of the revolution. Against such an empiricism, we hold that it is indeed only the Cultural Revolution that allows us to conceive the universality of PPW as it was practiced and theorized during the revolutionary process that led to the taking of political power by the proletariat in 1949.

Why is Protracted People’s War a universal strategy?

The October Road, which aims at a quantitative accumulation of forces in view of a sudden inversion of places, circumscribes the dialectic within the material limits of relations of political domination. Lenin was well aware that the price to be paid for such an inversion-conception of revolution was nothing less than the becoming of a new bureaucratic bourgeoisie: “As for those who look at the victory over the capitalists in the way that the petty proprietors look at it—‘they grabbed, let me have a go too’—indeed, every one of them is the source of a new generation of bourgeois.”[iii] The limits of the October Road are clearly visible in its Civil War after-life. From the reliance on former detachments of the Tsarist state to the misfortunes that War Communism inflicted upon the peasantry, these limits can be summed up as a lack of confidence in the masses.

In contrast to the October Road, the Maoist strategy of Protracted People’s War is the joining of the following two principles: (1) The primacy of politics over the military: the quantitative weakness (in arms, resources) of the organized proletariat understood in the materialist sense is the premise from which the qualitative strength (political) of the proletariat understood in the dialectical sense proceeds (2) The thesis that revolutionary war is a war of the masses: the resolution of the antagonistic contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat does not culminate in the simple inversion of that contradiction (in which the proletariat comes to exercise state power through a new proletarian state apparatus) but rather prescribes the practical movement that destroys in stages the reality of political domination as such.

Understanding the conjunction of these two principles depends on correctly grasping the relation between the dynamic or dialectical (primary) aspect and the structural or materialist (secondary) aspect of the antagonistic contradiction. Mao writes: “imperialism and all reactionaries, looked at in essence, from a long-term point of view, must be seen for what they are—paper tigers. On this we should build our strategic thinking. On the other hand, they are also living tigers, iron tigers, real tigers, which can devour people. On this we should build our tactical thinking.”[iv] From the dialectical perspective of their historical becoming, the iron tigers are the masses, whose invincible power lies in their differential nature, a power that can never be defeated by a simple technics of violence. Mao writes: “What is the true bastion of iron? It is the masses, the millions upon millions of people who genuinely and sincerely support the revolution. That is the real iron bastion which it is impossible, and absolutely impossible, for any force on earth to smash.”[v] This dialectical sense of the principal aspect of the contradiction provides us with a key to understanding the two central strategic principles of PPW, primacy of politics over the military and the formula that revolutionary war is a war of the masses. If we confine ourselves to tactical thinking—to the crude materialism that assesses political strength by adding up airplanes and tanks—we have already wandered off the communist path and began building a new form of political domination.

To be a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist is in this way to affirm at every stage the strategic perspective of communism, concentrated in the conception of the party as an apparatus whose role is to organize the correct ideas of the masses. We must never substitute the class thought of the party for the unlimited thought of the masses. This constitutes the essential lesson of the GPCR, valid for all stages of the revolutionary process, and in relation to which the two-line struggle within the party must be understood as secondary. Here we must refer to Point Four of the Sixteen-Point Decision, the point that provides the decision with its principle of unity: “In the great proletarian cultural revolution, the only method is for the masses to liberate themselves, and any method of doing things on their behalf must not be used. Trust the masses, rely on them and respect their initiative.”[vi]

It is from this strategic perspective that the New Communist Party (Organizing Committee) calls upon Ignite-MLM to take in hand the task of building a communist party of the proletariat and the people. The building of a party cannot be a matter of subjectively declaring that such a party exists.  It is the masses that make history, and the question of party-building must be brought to the broad masses, discussed, creatively applied and the results continuously assessed with a view to rectification and self-criticism.  We call upon Ignite-MLM to take up this document and discuss it with a view to implementing the central task of the current conjuncture, that of building a Maoist Communist Party that can lead the masses in a new revolutionary sequence.

LONG LIVE MARXISM-LENINISM-MAOISM!

NEW YORK CITY BRANCH, NCP(OC)
February 2014

[i] Karl Marx, “Marx to Joseph Weydemeyer,” March 5, 1852, in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1989, Volume 39, pages 62-65.

[ii] Karl Marx, “Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann,” April 12, 1871, in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1989, Volume 44, pages 131-132.

[iii] V.I. Lenin, “Session of the All-Russia C.E.C.,” in Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972, Volume 27, pages 279-313.

[iv] Mao Tsetung, On People’s War, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1967, page 9.

[v] Ibid., 14.

[vi] “Decision of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist party Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” in CCP Documents of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: 1966-1967, Union Research Institute, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 1968, page 45.

During the months of December 2013 and January 2014, it became apparent that a contradiction internal to our group between, on the one hand, our pre-party formation—the New Communist Party (Organizing Committee) (NCP(OC))—and other hand, NCP(OC) affiliates leading our (former) mass organization—the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee (RSCC)—tendentially began to take on the contours of a division of the organization. Indeed, the contradiction soon led to a split.

The faction that split ascribed the contradiction principally to authoritarian control of RSCC by the NCP(OC). This summation of past errors is incorrect. Rather, the basis of the contradiction that led to the split was a bureaucratic-technical separation between the pre-party formation and the mass organization, dogmatically produced by the organization itself.  In this way, the split only formalized a separation that already existed in reality.

NCP(OC) affiliates in RSCC leadership and the NCP(OC) have manifested symmetrical deviations:

(1) ‘left’ opportunist deviation on part of NCP(OC) (=petty bourgeois adventurism): no directives, secrecy, leadership divorced from the masses. This left opportunist line has (i) not regarded the leading body of the party-formation as the concentrator of the will of the whole organization and (ii) has not regarded the party-formation as concentrator of the will of the masses. The ‘left’-opportunist line rejects the thesis that it is the masses that make history, and in this way rejects the Mass Line.

(2) right opportunist deviation (=bourgeois revisionism) on part of NCP(OC) affiliates in the leadership of RSCC: unwillingness to disseminate the political line of NCP(OC) in the mass organization, a ‘big tent’ politics of pluralism-cum-activism, spontaneist interpretation of political directives as ‘militarism.’ The ultra-democratic right-opportunist line rejects the thesis that the class struggle is the motor of history, and in this way rejects the Mass Line.

This might seem like a case of theoreticism versus practicalism, but to characterize it this way would be too hasty. Why?

(internal reversal 1) The NCP(OC) has not engaged in genuine theoretical practice: so the ‘left’-opportunism of the NCP(OC) is at the same time revisionist spontaneism.

(internal reversal 2) RSCC has not effectively engaged the broad masses: so the right-opportunism of NCP(OC) affiliates in the leadership of RSCC is at the same time ‘left’-opportunist adventurism.

These internal reversals indicate that the symmetrical deviations of the NCP(OC) and RSCC have a common basis. Indeed, as we know from Lenin, in general we can say that economism and voluntarism are twin expressions of a profound economism. The fundamental form of opportunism in the history of Marxism is neither ‘left’-opportunism nor right-opportunism (=revisionism), but an ‘opportunism of the center,’ whose extreme deviations only represent so many effects and variations. The theoretical foundation of opportunism resides in economism itself—that is to say: in the mechanist-evolutionist (=non-dialectical) interpretation of historical materialism. ‘Left’- and right- opportunisms are reversals internal to this economist kernel, the one seeking to think class struggle without mass participation (‘left’-opportunism), the other seeking to think the existence of classes without the political class struggle that produces them (revisionism).

To paraphrase Mao: both lines have divided the universality of MLM from the concrete practice of the mass movement—that is, the specificity of the political conjuncture; both have violated dialectical and historical materialism and have expanded partial-relative truths into universal-absolute truths; and the thinking of neither line corresponds to the actual, objective situation as a whole.

The resolution of this problem would have had to begin with sincere efforts to implement the dialectic between the mass organization and the party formation that Maoists call the ‘Mass Line.’ This would have entailed the following:

(1) within RSCC: a partial systematization of the mass ideas of the general body through ideological struggle among the masses themselves;

(2) the NCP(OC) recollects and systematizes the correct ideas of the masses in light of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist class analysis;

(3) the NCP(OC) formulates a central political directive with a revolutionary orientation that aims to transform the concrete situation in light of the class analysis carried out by the NCP(OC);

(4) the NCP(OC), as vanguard of the mass movement, leads the application of the directive by the entire body of the group;

(5) RSCC assesses the correctness of the directive through the results effectively obtained in their application. This summation produces new correct, but dispersed, ideas;

(7) we thus begin a new cycle that transforms the directive (self-criticism and rectification).

The role of the pre-party formation is to formulate slogans and directives that the masses can seize themselves, in elaborating an adequate tactics and strategy that will help the masses organize. The organized proletariat must lead the masses without commanding them—i.e., centralize mass initiatives in order to help the masses bring unified political battles.

This resolution of the contradiction would have necessarily involved drawing the NCP(OC) and RSCC closer together. However, we must not replace the dogmatism of bureaucratic-technical separation with a dogmatism of proximity. The sole guarantee of avoiding economism is to conduct a concrete analysis in each new situation, always different from all others.  We must let the conjunctural analysis determine our organizational structure at each moment, rather than engaging in a sterile repetition of rote formulas.

In sum: the problem of our lack of effectiveness was referable to a bureaucratic-technical separation rather than so-called ‘militarization’ or ‘authoritarian control.’ And this bureaucratic-technical separation is in turn a product of a profound economism against which we must struggle. How, then, do we resolve the split that has broken the unity of Maoist forces in New York City?  How, in other words, do we achieve a genuine principled unity?

The resolution of a contradiction is never simply an inversion. To resolve a contradiction in the manner of an inversion is to see the contradiction simply as an external relation between two terms. In fact, Mao argues in On Contradiction, it is the internal nature of the terms of the contradiction that must be taken as primary: only then can we begin to address what must be born and what must disappear in resolving the contradiction. The faction that split, prior to the split itself, proposed liquidating the organizing committee into a liaison committee.  This is a resolution of the inversion-type, and (if adopted) would only have reinforced their right-opportunist line.  Thus we would leave the shining path only to find ourselves marching along the freedom road. Only a genuine effort to implement the Mass Line will allow us to begin the long and difficult march towards communism.

NEW YORK CITY BRANCH, NCP(OC)
March 2014

Since the First Congress ten months ago, the NCP (OC) has expelled multiple founding members in multiple cities for male chauvinism. The expulsions and related discussions consumed much of the internal activity of the organization. This rendered the central organs and particular units otherwise dysfunctional for substantial periods of time.

We are only now beginning to emerge from this crisis, which can be traced to our origins as an organization founded by members with political backgrounds in anarchism and social-democratic revisionism. The continued dominance of these ideologies allowed liberalism and low standards of membership to flourish. Women were relegated to a relative exteriority within the organization and its areas of work, the opposite of the Maoist organization dominated by women leaders and militants that is demanded by our time.

The expelled former members, all cis men, each engaged in the first or several or most of the following: 1) verbal and physical abuse of women, including violent grabbing or pushing; 2) failure to rectify for sexual opportunism and unwanted physical contact towards woman comrade; 3) alcoholism combined with harassment and sexual objectification of multiple women; 4) use of misogynistic slurs like “bitch,” “cunt,” and “hooker”; 5) discussion of women currently or formerly involved in mass work as sex objects; 6) refusal to accept responsibility, conduct honest self-criticism, and carry out rectification when confronted with the above; and 7) deliberate misrepresentation of the actual circumstances of expulsion, including downplaying instances of male chauvinism and explaining expulsions as if they were a matter of theoretical or political differences.

With considerable re-organization completed, the NCP (OC) is at a juncture requiring the initiation of a lengthy process of self-criticism on the problem of male chauvinism and a summation of its handling from which to derive lessons for the future. This is the beginning of a broader political and organizational review of the NCP (OC)’s first year of existence.

Hard lines must be drawn here: if the NCP (OC), prior to the multiple expulsions, had succeeded in growing beyond its initial numbers and becoming a political force—which would mean the recruitment of more cis men, the only people who in any likelihood would join—it would have to be smashed by working-class women. The organization would have functioned as yet another instrument of the bourgeois class enemy opposed to working-class women.

If the NCP (OC) in the current moment fails to conduct a thorough self-criticism at all levels and a proper summation that serves the struggle for women’s emancipation, this must remain its fate. It is better to have no organization at all, than an organization that allows male chauvinism to fester and abusers of women to stay within or enter its ranks.

First self-criticism: The NCP (OC) was founded on the basis of a male chauvinist and misogynist liberalism toward patriarchy in practice.

Drafted principally by women and queer members of the NCP (OC), resolutions against patriarchy and on the queer struggle were adopted by the First Congress without substantive discussion—in other words, as formal gestures that had little to do with the practice of the organization.

Likewise, the anti-patriarchy rectification campaign passed at the First Congress was at best a toothless measure and at worst a hypocrisy. It remained a meaningless organizational policy until the first actual expulsion for male chauvinism.

The misogynist liberalism of the organization was reflected above all else in the initial ambivalence shared by many of its members on the question of expelling founding members engaged in male chauvinist practice.

Ambivalence in this regard was a fundamental liberalism: the failure to take a clear partisan stance on the participation and development of women in the organization. Liberalism was covered up by concerns of offering “rectification” to male chauvinists who indicated no willingness to transform, couched in “Maoist” phraseology, but in essence reflective of a culture of men protecting other men from organizational discipline. Following the expulsions, liberalism here continued to find expression in a lack of clarity among individual members on the matter.

There can be no compromise when it comes to fidelity to the principle of women’s emancipation.

Second self-criticism: “Proletarian feminism” for the NCP (OC) has meant the theoretical liquidation of women’s oppression.

While recognizing that the struggle of women must be integrated with the class struggle for political power, it is necessary to develop an analysis that grasps the particularities of women’s oppression in a social formation where the capitalist mode of production prevails. This means analyzing women’s oppression in terms of the gender-based division of labor within wage labor and between wage labor and unpaid reproductive labor, and in the capitalist commodification of women.

The contradiction between men and women has an antagonistic aspect and a non-antagonistic aspect. The assessment upheld by many in the US that this contradiction among the people is “non-antagonistic, except in individual cases of abuse” is a class reductionist and liquidationist position.

In the absence of a leading party guided by a revolutionary proletarian feminist line and in the absence of a revolutionary proletarian feminist movement, the antagonistic aspect here is dominant. It can be transformed into a non-antagonistic contradiction only in concrete conditions where the revolutionary proletarian feminist line is becoming dominant among the masses and proletarian women are developing toward a reality of possessing coercive force against their exploiters and oppressors.

In other words, the contradiction between men and women has a relative character in relation to the principal contradiction.

Third self-criticism: “Rectification” for the NCP (OC) has meant the notion of keeping around cis men with male chauvinist practice and assigning tasks (e.g. write apologies, attend counseling, etc.) that did not transform their practice.

The notion that male chauvinists should be allowed to remain in an organization or on its periphery, in order to be “struggled” against, will only lead to an organization that no new women comrades would ever want to join.

Communist organizations must serve to organize women. It is only when women constitute a substantial part or majority of the leadership and membership that men will truly transform.

Can there be a Maoist feminism?

In the US, “Maoism” as the name of a concrete political tendency composed of real groups and individuals, is a patriarchal tendency. This has been made clear to us by our own experience. It is a tendency populated in substantial part by women-hating reactionaries, distinguished from the women-hating reactionaries of the broader society only by a semi-skilled usage of feminist discourse. Transformation is possible only though the deployment of Maoism as that which divides this situation.

As a beginning, there must be a refusal of the revisionist notion that communist organizations will inevitably serve as mirrors in which the objective contradictions of the existing class society are reflected. We have seen this take several forms:

-The notion that male chauvinism is dominant among the masses and will therefore be unleashed within the organization itself if the organization is truly integrated with the masses. The notion that expelling male chauvinists from a communist organization means that one is not properly “handling contradictions.”

-The notion that the masses of women are dominated by male chauvinist ideas just like men, and therefore, it is implied, are oppressors themselves indistinguishable from men. While women also take up patriarchal ideology, there is no relationship of symmetry here.

-The notion that the masses of women are not interested in politics, as it is traditionally an enterprise for men, and therefore any political organization will be overwhelmingly composed of men at the outset, that this is not reflective of errors in theory and practice.

-The notion that the development of women as leaders and militants in a communist organization, and the implementation of policy towards this end, is not a political question, that it is a “personal” question or “identity politics.”

Reactionary ideas emerge in communist organizations, but there must be a continuous process of struggle against them and their unapologetic representatives to impose the proletarian line.

* * *

The preparatory period for the First Congress of the NCP (OC) was not a preparatory period of communist militants. Likewise, the Congress itself was not a congress of communist militants.

Both the preparatory period and the Congress were thoroughly defined by the political backgrounds of founding members in anarchism and social-democratic revisionism, despite a ceremonial adherence to “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” (“MLM”) and an empirical assessment of the “contributions” of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.

A clear opportunism in the theoretical sphere expressed itself in decisions to come to a superficial unity on fundamental questions in Maoism, including the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the universality of people’s war, and the party concept. This is reflected in the organization’s Principles of Unity, a pronounced practicalist deviation among its members, and the absence of concrete analysis, which led to the severing of theory and practice, as only concrete analysis can mediate theory and practice.

“Upholding MLM” or claiming “Maoism” in the current US context is worthless without an analysis of the situation and an organized practice extending from such an analysis.

A key link in this organized practice today is the development of women as leaders and militants guided by a proletarian political line, the central criterion by which every organization and every individual must be judged.

Did the revisionist 1977 congress of the Chinese Communist Party not hail Mao Zedong as the “greatest Marxist of our time,” affirm his “immortal contributions,” and announce the importance of his “systematic theory of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat”?

Once we recognize that the advance of revisionism, even the restoration of capitalism itself, can take place under a red banner proclaiming Mao’s contributions, it becomes clear that one’s subjective identification as a Maoist and declarations of support for certain historical sequences and ongoing Maoist revolutions in other countries constitute only the most meager and ultimately vanishing basis for revolutionary work.

Just as one can say “continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat” when one in fact means capitalist restoration, one can say “Maoism” and “proletarian feminism” when one means in actuality the oppression of women.

The entire membership of the NCP (OC)
March 2014