Saturday, May 17, 2014

Democracy and Class Struggle and RCPUSA

Democracy and Class Struggle has recently published an article in tribute to Mike Hamlin of the Black Workers Congress here :

and we have also republished Lenin on the Bund here:

These articles illustrate the bourgeois cosmopolitan revisionist road of the RCPUSA on the national  question and its incorrect use of the term Bundist to describe Mike Hamlin in the 1970's.

The posts have elicited the following responses from RCPUSA.

 Anonymous said...
I strongly suggest that Nick Glais properly acquaint himself with Avakian's writings before attacking them. in particular, this article refers to Bundism

and pay careful attention to this:
"Now, on the other hand, we had to struggle against people whom (drawing from the history of the Russian Revolution) we came to call Bundists, within our own ranks and more broadly in the revolutionary movement of that time, in particular the BWC (the Black Workers Congress) and the PRRWO (the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Workers Organization, which emerged from the Young Lords Party). They were basically arguing that the nationalism of an oppressed people or nation is bound to be revolutionary and that revolutionary nationalism is essentially identical with proletarian ideology. And we came up with a formulation that really infuriated them [BA laughs], partly because it was sort of deliberately provocative: we said all nationalism is...nationalism, and all nationalism is ultimately bourgeois ideologically."
Bob Avakian was right!, then and now. I don't believe Nick Glais has ever really tackled BA's own writings or the New Synthesis, but is attacking something in order to defend his own bourgeois nationalist project, which is frankly 'all played out'.
May 15, 2014 at 12:06 PM
Blogger nickglais said...
Marx was right Avakian was wrong when at at a meeting of the First Interationall,Marx ridiculed the idea that nationalism was an antiquated prejudice advanced by Paul Lafargue in French language a language which nine tenths of the audience did not understand.LoL

The land question and the language are important parts of the national question that communists take up to advance the democratic struggle for socialism and exposing land ownership by the British Crown and Aristocracy in Wales is part of exposing the power of the British Monarchial Imperialist state but a bourgeois cosmopolitan like Avakian would no nothing about that with his mantra all nationalism is bourgeois ideology which provides ideological cover for imperialism
May 15, 2014 at 1:16 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Nick Glais continues to deliberately misunderstand Avakian. Avakian was not at the meeting of the First International, so I don't see the meaning of that comment. Also, what was true in the era of competitive capitalism, that nationalism has progressive characteristics, is not true in the era of monopolistic capitalism, where nation states are already fully developed. Marx and Engels also thought that it would be possible to get to socialism in countries like the UK because of parliamentary institutions. However, obviously, this is not possible, especially in the era of imperialism. Quoting Marx to justify one's own revisionism is very easy to do.

i would like to ask Nick Glais if he believes the Ltte struggle in Sri Lanka was a proleterian struggle? or that of the Basque seperatists? or is it a fact that these movements are 'all played out'?
May 15, 2014 at 1:34 PM
Blogger nickglais said...
Lenin was right Avakian was wrong on National Question and Imperialism and Monopoly Capitalism

Lenin clarified this question for those socialists who sought to counterpose the fight for "pure socialism" to the national struggle and who had contempt for national independence and sovereignty.Lenin said :

" To imagine that a social revolution is conceivable without the revolts of small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without the revolutionary outbursts of a section of the petty bourgeoise with all its prejudices, without the movement of non class conscious proletarian and semi proletarian masses against the oppression of landlords ,the church, the monarchy,foreign nations etc.

To imagine this means to repudiating social revolution.

Only those who imagine that an army will line up and say "We are for socialism" and in another place an army will say "We are for Imperialism" and that this will be a social revolution, only those who hold such a ridiculously pedantic opinion could villify the Irish Rebellion by calling it a "putsch",

"Whoever expects a "pure social revolution will never live to see it, such person pays lip service to revolution, without understanding what a revolution is"

Lenin - Discussion on Self Determination Summed Up - 1916
May 17, 2014 at 1:14 AM
Blogger nickglais said...
On the question of Sri Lanka we do not support the bourgeois nationalism of the LTTE or the Singhalese Maoist Party that follows your revisionist line. The MLM party in Sri Lanka has to stand for he right of self determination of the Tamil people and oppose the current land grab by the Singhalese state of Tamil land.We support the creation of a new multinational MLM party in Sri Lanka to lead road to national and social liberation.
May 17, 2014 at 1:20 AM
Blogger nickglais said...
Concerning the struggle in the Basque country - we support the Basques people's right to self determination.

What revisionists fail to grasp is that that Britain, France and Spain were created has states from internally colonising own native nationalities long before they went on to become Imperial Empires. English colonial policy in Wales 400 years later was applied in India but revisionists like Avakian are blind to this fact.

The nationalities in the periphery of Europe will rise up and smash the imperial parasitic centres of London, Paris and Madrid has part of the process of making socialist revolution - the only thing that is played out is Avakianism which fails to recognise its own errors and historic missed opportunity in the 1970's to build a truly multinational communist party in the USA because of its sectarianism and revisionism.
In a previous post on article by Mike Hamlin someone describes how the RCPUSA has been in decline since 1975 to which we add if you had only devoted half the time to self critical analysis of your own movement in the United States you would not be in the state you are today - all played out.
May 17, 2014 at 1:34 AM
Blogger nickglais said...
I have re-posted this gem from Mike Hamlin article so people have information on the true state of the RCPUSA has a result of Avakianism

Anonymous said...
Anon writes above:

"The RCP USA is a strong powerful party that is respected across the world..."

This statement is astonishing in its delusional distance from basic reality.

The RCP,USA is a small and crumbling cult. Its biggest day (membership-wise) was the day it was founded in 1975 (with around a thousand membvers) and it has shrunk steadily for forty years.

It is now no longer a national presence, only having active cadre in a smaller and smaller number of cities.

It is in a permanent financial crisis --so that fundraising is the only activity of its aging and often dazed members. I expect they will stop publishing a naitonal newspaper soon (having more and more abandoned a supposedly "weekly" schedule). And it has dropped its smaller bookstores, and will probably lose its flagship store in New York.

Saddest of all, its remaining few dozen cadre are more and more burned out -- looking like classic cult members. Repeating memorized phrases, looking vacant eyed and even disheveled. And with very few under fifty (younger people "come around" for brief periods of time, but are over and over and over repulsed by the ugly cult of personality that defines the RCP now). They have not had any naitonal youth formation since the RCYB shattered after the emergence of the full cult of personality.

They are isolated, and considered a joke by virtually everyone in the world... with very few exceptions. (And those exceptions are overwhelmingly people with zero contact with the actual RCP, or basis for evaluating its actual "work").

It is now a permanent fundraising machine for its central figure... with no public discussion of where those funds actually go.

May 14, 2014 at 1:05 PM


Boo! said...

The ironic part is that the insistence that oppressed nations subsume themselves to the 'proletarian' RCP-USA is not itself seen as a form of chauvinism by its proponents.

Mike Ely said...

I was (personally) a participant in the line struggles around the U.S. New Communist Movement in 1974 -- what the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA calls "The Bundism Struggle."

There is a lot to say on these matters.

But I believe one point to make is this: The issue is not Lenin or Avakian.

On many levels, the relations of nations, the forms of national domination, the degree of international integration, the nature of multinational states, and more have changed in many ways since Lenin wrote in 1914 (and since the NCM shattered in 1974).

The main task we face is looking at our world fresh, as communists, and (applying communist methodology, including materialist dialectics) coming to a penetrating and new understanding of how capitalism now works, and how the revolutionary movements of the future intersect with (and end) national oppression.

NIck writes:

"Lenin was right Avakian was wrong on National Question and Imperialism and Monopoly Capitalism."

I think this doesn't quite get things right:

Are lenin's summations of Imperialism and monopoly capitalism (written before World War 1) applicable today? How do you know? I think they were penetrating and pathbreaking analysis (for a socialist movement about to shatter in world war, and deeply confused about colonialism) -- but isn't it a strange (and unscientific) leap to assume that they are "right" today -- without doing the hard work of dissecting the world around us and identifying what (precisely) is "right" (i.e. still applicable) about Lenin's views, and what is no longer applicable.

Just one example:

Lenin wrote on the role of finance capital within monopoly capital. And the role of export of capital in defining imperialism. Fine. And important. But does that mean he identified what is *today* the role of parasitic finance capital, or its current modes of operation? Has nothing changed in the last century?

If South Korea, or Taiwan, or China, or South African capital are exported to other countries... does this have the same meaning that it did in Lenin's time? What are the divisions and operations of the world today?

How much is capital still rooted in imperialist national formations (i.e. how much can we still talk of Dutch imperialist interests, and how much have Dutch based firms become part of a transnational corporate world?) And can we answer such questions by rereading Lenin's work?

Or don't we need new work, new analysis, new data -- of a communist kind? Should we apply Lenin's verdicts (plucked reverently from the past) or should we apply Lenin's method (to creatively make a materialist analysis of the present)?

I think we need to do the second.

Mike Ely said...

part two:

On Avakian's view: His view "that all nationalism is bourgeois" was (in 1974) explicitly opposing Mao's view (inserted in the Red Book) that "in wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism."

Avakian argued that Lenin's views (from the line struggles of 1914) are more correct than Mao's analysis. He (and the RCP) argued that the worldview of communists is fundamentally internationalist, and that it is possible to ally with revolutionary nationalists -- but that the world outlook of revolutionary nationalists (Sun Yatsen, Ho Chi Minh, the semi-communist revolutionary Black nationalists in the U.S. like the Panthers) should not be casually equated with communist ideology.

I realize that for some European Maoists there was quite an assumed embrace of nationalism for their own nation state (including British, French, Norwegian, German nationalism of some kinds etc.).

Part of that was a legacy of the Maoist theory of different "worlds" -- where the "second world" (i.e. junior imperialist partners of Europe and Japan) were seen as (somehow) nationally oppressed and dominated by the two superpowers -- and so there was seen as something positive about the national resentments arising in these imperialist countries.

I believe (as Lenin and Avakian did) that the nationalism of imperialist countries is not progressive, and the ruling classes of those countries do not play a historically progressive role.

Mike Ely said...

part 3

As for the different lines in 1974 -- it is part of our work now (for the regroupment of a modern revolutionary communist movement in the U.S.) to sum up that experience (which marked a historic failure and dispersal of the emerging communist/Maoist forces in the U.S. to form a common multinational communist party).

There is much to say on that experience.

But (speaking for myself) I believe it would be quite wrong to conclude (superficially and casually) that Avakian was all wrong, and the forces like Hamlin were basically right in that conflict.

Any one familiar with its details, its dynamics and its basic tragedy, knows that reality is far more complex.

In some ways, the different communist trends were "ships passing in the night" -- and their differences (despite superficial appearances of unity and jargon) were significant.

I believe that the NCM should have undertaken a far more protracted process of debate, investigation and common practice -- with a goal of transcending quite primitive assumptions, and forming a real unity based on far more developed, common practices.

The Black revolutionary movement was in the process of a startling and seemingly sudden collapse in 1974. There were deep shifts in the mood of the people. The organizations and forms of struggle came up against their limits and became exhausted (seemingly overnight). Tremendous funds were funneled (by Nixon) into buying up activists and creating a caste of compromised "poverty pimps" from among former radicals. And there was also the well-known Cointelpro repression -- which affected many people in different ways.

The response of the Black Workers Congress (BWC -- one of the major nationality-based new communist organizations) was to turn (sharply) to a kind of hyper-dogmatic orthodoxy -- (read: more Stalin than Mao) -- that hoped to find solutions of the 1970s in the official documents of the Comintern 1930s.

There was a turning inward, that marked a growing pessimism and demoralization. And a crumbling (with the formation of a formation called "Revolutionary Wing").

Meanwhile, the RCP was on a mission to go deep among the industrial workers -- and for a number of years swung rather far to the "right" in terms of economism and a down play of critical political issues (including the central issue of waging a sharp mass struggle against national oppression). This would peak in the terrible errors of the Boston bussing struggle -- and would not be reversed (in the RCP) before the split over rightism (and China) and the departure of the most economist forces in their ranks.

So in 1974, the groups like BWC, PRRWO, and the RCP were meeting and seeking unity -- while their concerns and dynamics were pulling them in quite different directions.

Mike Ely said...

part 4

Were the BWC and PRRWO "bundists"?

My own view is that is a wrong way to make such verdicts. In the RCP history, there was a fight with "Bundists" followed by a fight with "Mensheviks" -- where in the internal mythology of the RCP they were following a kind of "path" in which they were playing the role of the true "Bolsheviks" -- such a mythic and mechanical method makes it hard to see the actual line struggles dialectically because (as Marx remarked) the present dresses itself up as the past.

I believe that new communist forces emerging from the Black Liberation Movement (including from SNCC, for example, that had purged liberal white activists as part of its radicalization process) were highly ambivalent about being in a multinational communist party, or with following a multinational communist leadership.

James Foreman famously said "Liberation will come from a Black thing." When (in fact) liberation is far more likely to require a multinational thing.

Malcolm X said "If you put milk in your coffee, it becomes weaker." And a whole generation of Black militants and revolutionaries shared that point of view, and that ambivolence toward multinational formations. (And often preferred a model of either several parallel communist organizations – organized by nationality – or else an organizational form that assumed a principle of “third world leadership” and so had a two tier membership, where white communists participated as allies, but not as leaders. The African Peoples Socialist Party in the U.S. now operates with that kind of a two tier formation.)

That includes Mike Hamlin (who I met in those days). He may say (in the speech Nick quotes) that he wants a multinational communist party, but surely we are more sophisticated than to judge political forces merely by what they say about themselves.

In this moment, Avakian was not willing to form a larger party that he would not be the chairman of. And the other groups were skeptical of multinational organization altogether. And they parted ways (rather bitterly).

My own summation is that we crashed on rocks that could have been forseen. And we should have crafted a much more protracted process -- of mutual work and clarification -- rather than rush (with false urgency) into a premature attempt at merger.

And that is, in part, why the Kasama Project foresees a more protracted process of reconception and regroupment for an emerging communist movement -- over a period that will hopefully include common work projects, debates, shared research and more.

Mike Ely said...

Boo! said...
"The ironic part is that the insistence that oppressed nations subsume themselves to the 'proletarian' RCP-USA is not itself seen as a form of chauvinism by its proponents."

I think that is a misread of what the RCP's position was and is.

The RCP always supported the national liberation struggles of oppressed nations (including the right of self-determination of African American people, up to and including independence).

Their views are not some crude dismissal of national struggles, or national liberation -- or a reductionist appeal to "to the proletarian."

Politically, the RCP held that national liberation struggles are important revolutionary currents (in fact the storm center of the post WW2 world). And they held that (when led by communists) national liberation movements can open the door to socialist revolution.

This is an argument about whether communists themselves can be nationalists (i.e. how to understand the contradiction and communist view of the relationship between nationalism and internationalism.)

The RCP held that communists (joining and leading ) national liberation struggles should do so as internationalists. They held that nationalism came in different political kinds: both reactionary nationalism and revolutionary nationalism. And the RCP always held that it was important to ally with (strategically) revolutionary nationalist forces (the RU/RCP itself was born out of such a strategic alliance with the Black Panther Party.)

The forces around the BWC and related currents said such things as "Communists should have the nation in heart and the class in mind." Meaning that it was natural and correct for communists (from oppressed nationalities) to put "their own nation" at the center of their politics in such a way.

In response, the RU/RCP said that putting the interests of any one nation (even an oppressed nation) at the center of your world view (in that way) was not a full communist approach -- and that our worldview should be internationalist, not nationalist.

So if you want to criticize the RU/RCP and Avakian -- at least understand clearly what that position was.