Signalfire recently explored an issue certain to ruffle some feathers, but is a valuable matter for political minds to consider.
The left — white and non-white — has often made bids to keep its politics relevant to people who may be newly interested in an issue, observe a cultural phenomenon or are involved in mass struggles. Sometimes this can be an interesting thing, but quite often this approach goes horribly wrong.
The Obama campaign of 2008 and the myriad sects lining up in support as well as publicly recognized progressives like Amiri Baraka going on the political offensive against radicals are probably some of the more noteworthy instances of what seem to be political shamelessness. And without linking to it, there are plenty of grouplets on the left seeking to uncritically champion everything from Lady Gaga to masks symbolizing Catholic theocrat Guy Fawkes, made famous in a film.
Is this a good approach? Is reconcieving race, class and revolutionary politics in a postmodern way effective at developing movements? Or is it, as one comrade recently said, a bad attempt [not that there are good ones] at making pop culture into materialist dialectics?
While this piece references Maoism — no shots, sorta — it could easily apply to all sorts of political currents.
There is a clearcut distinction between the creative articulation of Maoism as the summation of the most advanced practical applications of historical and dialectical materialism in the concrete struggles of the masses till now and the liquidation of all the previous experience gained from the movements of the proletariat and the popular masses in the name of “creativity” and “realism”.
New theories capable of serving as a valid guide to action are only produced out of the class struggle, the highest most advanced points of social practice of the masses. In short they are forged in civil war.
Marxism was the intellectual reflection of the class struggle of the proletariat in West Europe in the 19th Century. It found its conformation in the struggles around the International and in the Paris Commune.
Leninism was the intellectual expression of the struggle of the Russian proletariat to seize and hold power. The summation of the first (albeit partially) successful struggle to impose the dictatorship of the proletariat. The revolutionary working class worldwide was regrouped under its banner.
Maoism is the synthesis of the experience of protracted revolutionary war and continuation of the class struggle under the dictatorship of the proletariat in China and of the ongoing processes of People’s War worldwide which remain the most advanced extent manifestations of proletarian counter-power.
On every level and despite its own fatal limitations the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution remains the furthest advance in the struggle for communism till the present day. Maoism is no more then the synthesis of this immense experience of the masses as first asserted by the Peruvian Communist Party in the course of carrying out its own tremendous mass movement of armed struggle for power.
For small groups of intellectuals to assert that they have “transcended” MLM-to declare the lessons of the accumulated revolutionary experience of the world proletariat as “obsolete” and to substitute in place of the knowledge gained from real social practice, their own idle, individualist and inconsistent speculations is utter and shameless idealism worthy of the Holy Family.
Revolutionary theory worthy of consideration is the product of successful revolutionary practice and nothing else. Its not a question of restricting oneself to a closed canon; We are happy to pay close attention to the writings of Amilcar Cabral for example, because he won a war.
But as for the intellectual megalomaniacs who think they can overturn the concentrated knowledge gained from the sacrifice and struggle of millions to transform the world over more then a century with a few blog posts or pretentious and incomprehensible contributions to the Verso catalog, we are not offended we are merely amused.
- Revolutionary Initiative On Political Violence: Reactionary vs. Revolutionary
- International Call: A Week of Support for People’s War in India
- The Mass Line: What It Is and How to Use It
- Canada: Events on Struggles Toward A Post-Petroleum World
- Reexamining the Weather Underground’s Revolutionary Potential