Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Democracy and Class Struggle says there has been insufficient debate on the question of the militarisation of the Party and what it means - we welcome contributions on the subject from readers/viewers - this debate on Communism 101 is a useful start.


 (Initiated by Nick Marlotte in Communism 101 ) 

Posted as I felt it has great relevance today. on the question of peoples war and vanguard party.Complement Pretia Morsest ,Maria Barros and Nick Marlatte for such a deep debate and the clarity of analysis of Maria and Nick.

Does justice to ideology of MLM. and gives it liveliness.

Personally I do not agree with the term as it leans towards Lin Baioism or Che Guevarism, merging the party with the red army.

However the PCP in practice did not do that and practiced massline of MLM.


I know there have been a number of posts on the militarization of the party, but I feel none of them, among theory from Mao, Gonzalo or their parties, effectively conceptualize what peoples' issues with it are.

It seems that many people see militarization of the party as the full transformation of revolutionary party into the red army, but nothing in the work of Gonzalo or Mao suggests this. Instead it designates that the first, leading, and very likely majority if not totality, of forces of a red army are party activists.

This to me is actually uncontroversial, so long as it does not mean the total transformation of a party into an armed fighting force is necessary. 

This is not to say the total militarization is not possible or in situations valuable, but it seems that this is more dependent on the youth and physical capability of cadre and them also having a means to bring in cadre that are not directly military orientated into the party afterwards. 

There is still work to be done with in situations that face enough repression to include rifles, and lots of people will continue to need to be won over the the violence used to create proletarian rule.

My question then is, where do people in this group fall with this? 

If I'm missing something (I do genuinely feel there might be a false contradiction on this and that it needs to be clarified - if not it's gonna be a minority of us)? 

Then how do we orientate ourselves to this?

Undoubtedly the party must start the Red army. Through directing members of it's cadres towards red army work and uniting militant sections of the masses. However, we need a clearer depictions of what this means.

Question of Pretia Morsest:

Lot of this understanding is based on an understanding of what concentric means. Like, concentric means one entirely contains the other, the party is entirely within the people's army and is at its center. 

This really can't occur unless every member of the party is also a member of the people's army. This doesn't have to be literally true, but it is overwhelmingly true. 

This is so that the party maintains what the PCP calls a "double command" (political and military) over the army: it provides overall strategic command of the army by providing its orders on the highest level, and it also seeks to ensure that the leading members of each UNIT in the army, at whatever level, are also party members, thereby "fractally" directly providing command at every level of the army as well.

Is the Party then only military forces - including whatever leadership, administrative or propaganda work needs to be done for the military?

Every member of the party is militarized--that is, has become involved in the military question. The vast majority of the party are literally soldiers--that is, are involved in actually carrying out the operations of building toward or carrying out the war, in terms of actually leading specific/concrete military actions/tasks.

What is the place for non-military mass-work?

If you mean mass work that is carried out by people who aren't in the people's army, the idea is that this is facilitated by and guided by the people's army. 

But at the same time, the people's army seeks to constantly arm and train and organize those who get involved in mass work into militias, and recruit from those militias into the people's army. 

So at any given time there will be people in the united front / New State (same thing) who have not been organized into militias, but they should be a minority, and the movement should be moving in the direction of ensuring those specific individuals are, more and more, incorporated into militias.

aren’t there territories where struggle will be less developed where party work would take less explicit to military activity, or at least have forces that will be acting not as permanent militants?

Yes, but I think to some extent this is not such a mystery if we understand that there are degrees of militarization. 

You can begin physical conditioning even if you can't begin tactics drills. And you can begin tactics drills with certain people even if you can't yet put guns in their hands to carry out firearms drills. 

And if you can put guns in their hands to carry out firearms drills, you can't necessarily bring them along on raids yet. Etc. 

But you can begin the process of training and organizing for military work to *some* degree even in areas where the great majority of the work is still legal, and thus you ensure that the highest degree of training feasible is being implemented in every place, whatever the conditions. ("The armed forces started out as armed detachments without arms, because as Lenin taught the lack of arms cannot be used as a pretext for not organizing an armed apparatus; later they armed themselves with whatever they could, including with dynamite, which is still very important, since rudimentary and traditional weapons play a fundamental role.")

What does it actually mean to be part of the Red Army if we conclude that there will definitely be non-military struggles in work places and in communities not directly engaged in armed conflict?

Among other things, a higher level of discipline expected, and a formal promise to carry out orders coming from the central leadership of the army. 

This makes being in the army distinct from being a member of the militia, which is more of a voluntary commitment.

Is there then also an ambiguity in the interpretation of concentric development, such that building the Red Army is the main focus of party or developing party forces comparatively to the party needing to be the centre from which the Red Army springs at the initiation of people's war which takes place after the party has developed forces?

Your syntax loses me here. Maybe you can lay out your question like this: "Which of the following does concentric construction entail?:

(a) Situation
(b) Other situation"

Reply of Maria Lorena Barros:

A Party doesn't create a Red Army overnight. The creation and development of the Party's armed forces goes through stages. 

Using EGP from Peru (its Army divided into 3 sections: principal force, local force, and main "mass" force). At first its organized guerilla units. So for example they focus primarily on ambushes and smaller raids. 

The armed forces don't have sufficient strength to go toe to toe with the reactionary armed forces. Even the local people's militias are weak and ineffective but they serve to begin making changes in local areas the Party has successfully taken over. 

So once key reactionary leaders in a village, town, city have been driven out (sometimes liquidated) the Party sets up a new leadership structure using closed Peoples Committees to begin transforming local conditions by changing production methods. War communism becomes the rallying cries. 

What can serve the masses but also ensure the success of the revolutionary war? The Peoples militias ensures it can hold on to power locally while the guerilla units are out carrying out ambushes in different parts of the region. 

As the war progresses, an emphasis is placed on developing combat platoons. 

For example, whereas the red forces wouldn't dare attack a military outpost on its own (having previously relied mainly on ambushes and raids on police depts), now it can directly attack military outposts with hundreds of guerillas due to their increased strength in numbers, weaponry, reconnaisance. 

But throughout this whole process New Power is developed in the areas the Party has successfully held on to Power (the creation of dual power, the seeds of a new republic. 

This process consolidates itself and is strengthened with the development if the war). Etc etc.

Are you familiar with how Base Areas, people's committees, and EGP operated in the construction of New Power in Peru?

I think you're conflating ultra militarism with the Maoist conception of political-military organizing. I think you are getting the misconception that people who are for militarization of the Party and masses place political, economic, and social work secondary to military affairs. 

Quite the opposite. Anyone who keep insisting on this is misrepresenting and misreading Gonzalo thought and PCP theory.

Also in the Chinese Communist Party and Peoples Liberation Army, not every soldier was a Party member. 

If I remember correctly, before 1949 at best the ratio of a Party member who was also a soldier in PLA to non-Party member soldiers was 3-to-1, meaning most soldiers in PLA were not Party members per se. PLA soldiers did have to engage in changing production methods and consolidating dual power but they weren't authorized, for example, to give lessons and classes on theory. 

There will always be a constant contradiction present between Party forces and elevating individual soldiers to Party membership status.

But remember and hopefully I'm answering your question: its okay if the Party forces are smaller than the Red Army forces numerically. 

Not every soldier need become a Party member immediately (though the goal is to always elevate and develop Red Army soldiers to Party members authorized to represent the Party lines on all affairs, and not just have soldiers simply focus on military affairs).

This contradiction will always be present but the main push and emphasis should be to militarize the proletarian class constantly (the Party, Liberation Army, and masses in general) until we reach worldwide communism (I'll need to re-write this when not on my cell).

Reply by Nick Marlatte on militarisation of party concept

I'll try and respond to every point that I have issue with by numbering them.

1. Concentric doesn't necessarily mean that one is fully contained within the other. It directly means having the same centre, which does not mean the party is totally within the People's army. It definitely does mean that the Party control's the gun, or the people's army, but this is the point that needs to be clarified and actually isn't by the use of language.

2. Again, this is somewhat ambiguous. To reframe, does party work liquidate in areas where the struggle is not as acute? Does this mean assuming that a party organizer in a factory will be mandated to join the People's Army, and does that not mean joining regular platoons or sections of the Peoples' Army? 

Do we not consider work stoppages, strikes, and advancing the class struggle in the cities in other forms, and actively recruiting workers to join the People's army and to organize in the cities as supportive of the war, or even doing production work and organizing those in their community to support the war, and are we calling this the work of the People's Army?

This is exactly what I mean by non-military work, not being a combatant or directly tied to combat but advancing revolutionary goals.

3. Why is work in non-acute places of struggle carried out by the People's Army, would they not be largely tied to places there is fighting?

4. I agree with this wholeheartedly, it is definitely the goal to organize people into the most effective forms of given the conditions.

5. So I'll refocus this, because it seems to be the crux of a lot of the problems.

You respond that the Red Army provides a higher discipline than militias, but my question is why are people in the People's Army organizing in factories, perhaps permanently without ever picking up a gun because of whatever conditions prevent them from doing so, rather than saying this is the Party?

Your answer about discipline actually implies that Workplace struggles will have a lower level of unity and discipline than the party, because the People's Army is built around the Party, but also somehow includes the interventions of people actively involved in military action. Rather than having non-People's Army party members in these places organizing people and advancing the class struggle.

There seems to also be a weird conflation that being apart of the People's Army means that they are more suited for mass-work than a Party member who lives and breath MLM and organizes the masses for revolution but is physically incapable of being a part of the military.

Like either this requires very wishy-washy definitions of what an Army and Party are, and I say this largely getting the impression that we generally agree with each other about what needs to happen concretely but still are using words differently.

6. My point with this is: Is the party conceived as being in existence prior to the People's army? 

Or do they have to be initiated at the same time.

I have seen a couple of Maoists from the US argue that a party will not be made until the conditions are ready to initiate a Peoples War there. 

Is this because of a reading of Concentric development that misuses the word to also mean coinciding?

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