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(Kasama) What should Maoists do in the U.S.? (reply to David)

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[FONT=Verdana](from: )[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]Hi David,[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]I have been following your exchange with Mike Ely with great interest.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]You asked the most basic question of "what is to be done?" In particular, you asked if Kasama is working to create a revolutionary party. If not, then you indicate you believe you should be working in this direction with comrades in your local area.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]Mike replied that the experience of the 1970's included many hasty attempts to create "the party" which, essentially, all failed. Mike said that Kasama intends to avoid the mistakes of the past and is interested in making progress and, essentially, invited you to contact him privately.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]In your reply to Mike, you expressed a certain amount of skepticism about his answer to you. You skepticism is understandable because (in my view) Mike (essentially) poured cold water on the idea of creating a revolutionary mass party with the ability to help coordinate the activity of activists with different brands of politics.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]I disagree with the essential thrust of Mike's comments although I must also acknowledge that most of the things he said are true.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]The hasty attempts of the 1970's all failed. And, yes, we must avoid the mistakes of the past (which means, of course, that we must understandwhat these mistakes were--and that means we must discuss these mistakes in a calm and focused way).[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]But we must also be clear that it was not a mistake at all to aspire to build a revolutionary mass organization with the ability to mobilize tens of millions for the overthrow of the system of bourgeois rule (and the creation of a world of peace and abundance for all).[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]My conclusion is that the need to create such a revolutionary mass organization--must be at the center of our work. This is the fundamental taskwhich must tie together everything else we do.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]My conclusion is that, unfortunately, this is not the orientation of the Kasama project. If it was--then questions of the sort you raise would not be several clicks away from the main page (ie: where they are hard for many readers to find) but, rather, would be front and center.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]I am going to reply to one point you raised but, before doing so, I must (again) make clear that I believe Mike is correct in his (brief) description o9f the 1970's. And Mike is correct that it would be extremely stupid to rush to create "the" organization we need now--without having a solid understanding of what went wrong and (as an inseparable part of this) a deep understanding of the nature of our goal (ie: the nature of the society we intend to create) and the nature of the organization that will mobilize tens of millions to make this happen.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]Building a revolutionary mass organization is in some ways similar to building an airplane. If we don't know what we are doing (and the key principles necessary) we are unlikely to be successful. Creating an airplane that can actually take off and navigate and safely carry passengers to its destination is not as simple as building lots of little airplanes and then, at some point, merging them together (ie: a popular idea, for a while, in the 1970's).[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]If we invest our life energy into an approach that does not work and is bound to fail--the result will be demoralization, collapse and passivity: we will give up. I have seen this happen to a lot of good people.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]In reply to Mike, you ask a fundamental question:[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]Is an organization that conducts revolutionary work of generating public opinion and supporting the people's struggles from a revolutionary perspective really a "sect" necessarily?[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]Not necessarily, of course.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]But that is certainly what happens, far more often than not.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]All that is necessary to fall into a whole series of traps--is to embark on building an organization with unrealistic expectations concerning what you expect it may develop into. At a certain point, the "care and feeding" of this organization (ie: keeping it alive, maintaining the focus and interest of its supporters, keeping people active and busy) tends to take over and push aside those tasks which are decisive for the revolutionary movement (and decisive for creating real organization).[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]I have seen a great many organizations built along the lines of what I call "cargo-cult Leninism" in which activists seek to create revolutionary organization by copying the external features (ie: those characteristics which are easiest to observe) of genuine revolutionary organizations which existed in the past. This always results in fiasco, and I believe this phenomenon is the basis of Marx's famous observation that history repeats itself: the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce. For example, what happened to the Bolsheviks was a tragedy while, on the other hand, the RCP is a farce.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]The cargo-cult method of copying external features is a trap: it is the road to inevitable demoralization and passivity.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]You can, for example, carve a microphone out of wood--but it can never function as a real microphone. You can repeat the magic phrase "Roger, over and out" but the big silver birds with bellies full of cargo will not land.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]What is the problem?[/FONT]

What you are able to most easily see with your eyes is that your wooden microphone does not look quite like the real microphone you once saw. So it is easy to think: maybe it needs to be the right color? Maybe you need to find some berries to stain it the right color and the big silver birds will land?

[FONT=Verdana]The cargo-cult approach to building organization is on display here at Kasama. It is visible (in my opinion) in Mike's reply to you where he invites you to contact him privately.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]Of course there will alwasy be a need for private communication between activists and there is nothing necessarily wrong with private communition.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]But organizations which build themselves "in private" (ie: in secret--supposedly because of the need for a security culture) have already taken a big step in the direction of the sectarian disease.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]Why so?[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]Because, in practice, the secrecy associated with building revolutionary organization in a country like the U.S. today--is a hundred times more likely to be used to hide dysfunction than to protect against harassment by the state.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]This does not mean, of course, that the need for a security culture is not real. There is certainly a real need. But this real need must not be used as an excuse for concealing dysfunction.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]Our own dysfunction is a hundred times more lethal to our efforts than harassment by the state.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]David, I have taken enough of your time.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]I have written on all these topics at length (posted in my web page and blog) if you are interested.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]I have not built a community of revolutionaries as Mike and the rest of the Kasama organization has done. Most of my work has revolved around discovering and defending the principles which appear to be decisive for the re-emergence of a healthy revolutionary movement deserving of the respect and attention of the working class.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]What I can say is that I place the need for a revolutionary mass organization at the center of my work and my work is guided by my recognition of the need for political transparency in the emergence of a healthy and powerful revolutionary movement.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]I look forward to any thoughtful comments, questions or criticisms you may have.[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]Sincerely and revolutionary regards,[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana]Ben Seattle[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana] Information War wants to be free to serve the struggle to end bourgeois rule[/FONT]

[FONT=Verdana]How to Build the Party of the Working Class A scenario for the overthrow of bourgeois rule in the U.S.[/FONT]
[FONT=Verdana] Politics, Economics & Mass Media when workers rule Cargo-Cult Leninism Community Political Transparency[/FONT]


  1. DavidX's Avatar
    Thanks man, i only just read this post and my views on this subject have advanced since, but it is still a helpful and informative post, i will be coming back to this in hopes of continuing this discussion when i have time after exams.



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