Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in the imperialist countries: Classic Thought, Newton Thought and Garveyesque Thought
The real two-line struggles within Marxism- Leninism-Maoism of the majority-exploiter countries
by the Web Minister, May 17 2004
There may be some people caught between the proletariat and the petty-bourgeoisie not sure which way to go. They may think that there is a two-line struggle between those calling themselves Maoist but upholding the Amerikan petty-bourgeoisie on the one hand and MIM on the other hand. Thinking about this, I wanted to make sure that people realize that's not true by pointing to examples of actual two-line struggles that require more interest and attention.
Previous examples of two-line struggle in MIM history
Maybe the best example of two-line struggle is over the initiation of armed struggle in the imperialist countries. In that case, either MIM is "right opportunist" for not initiating it or our critics are "ultra-left adventurists" for wanting to start it. Either MIM lags behind conditions for armed struggle or our critics are ahead of conditions. We can say this, because we know our critics share some basic underlying ideas with us. We share enough to know this is a two-line struggle.
The question of when to begin armed struggle in the imperialist countries is something that is going to involve a two-line struggle and we do have an obligation to listen patiently to our critics on this question while we dismiss out of hand modern social-democracy disguising itself as "Marxism."
Connected with that question is the struggle over whether the united $tates is already fascist. Some comrades would say the united $tates is already fascist and therefore armed struggle is necessary.
Another example of two-line struggle occurs constantly over the relative biological role in gender oppression. That there is something undeniably different about an infant's biology than an adult's shows that biology cannot be left out of gender oppression discussions, especially if we believe children are the most gender oppressed. How far to go with a role for biology is an important area of two-line struggle.
There is also a two-line struggle that goes into making a party's by-laws and lifestyle recommendations and policies for itself. For that matter, how much revolutionaries should support reformists in their struggles will also be a point of two-line struggle.
Hopefully people have thought about these above questions before and realize that MIM has demonstrated some signs of two-line struggle and there is a matter of two-line struggle within the camp of the exploited and oppressed.
Class and national questions embodied in three thoughts
When it comes to exploitation and national oppression, it may be more correct to speak of at least three lines struggling within Maoism for the imperialist countries--Classic Thought, Newton Thought and Garveyesque Thought.
I set up these three thoughts as examples of where two line struggle could happen within Maoism. Once we try to put things into a common Marxist- Leninist-Maoist framework and then center on the Black nation just for this essay at least, we may be able to see real two-line struggle pop out.
I'm going to start with Newton Thought, the teachings of Huey P. Newton, especially from 1966 to 1969 but also some material up to 1972. Even a drug-addled Huey Newton in the early 1970s would be better material to work with than today's social-democrats. The reason to start with Marxism-Leninism-Maoism-Newton Thought is that that's the quickest way to see some distinctions within the Maoist camp.
When we look at the national question, we see Newton sidestep the land question by coming to his idea of revolutionary intercommunalism. When we center the question on the Black nation, it becomes clear why there is a Marxism-Leninism- Maoism-Newton Thought.
Huey Newton negated some thoughts current in his day. He was not comfortable with Blacks taking land in the u$a and making it a central question. The land came from First Nations and Stalin's analysis of sharecroppers seemed outdated by the 1960s when Blacks had been industrialized and the process of "post-industrialization" started. At the same time, Huey Newton did not proclaim "Back to Africa" for the land question. As Eldridge Cleaver rightly pointed out, Blacks could be "schizo" about land, because of how they ended up in their tens of millions in North Amerika.
Now on account of this "schizo" position on land seeming to reject Stalin's thesis on the national question, did the Black Panthers turn to Martin Luther King multiracialism? Obviously not. The reason is that Huey Newton had a highly critical underlying assumption about the white "working" class. All genuine Maoist thought in the imperialist countries shares this characteristic rejection of the Martin Luther King road of seeking unity with exploiters based on the exploiters' supposed innate goodness in direct opposition to a proper understanding of parasitism and national oppression.
Having mentioned Stalin's thesis on the Black belt nation in the South, we can turn to Marxism- Leninism-Maoism-Classic Thought. By this view, parasitism has swamped the white "worker," but a land question continues to exist for oppressed nations.
It's actually easier to see this with First Nations. The way the Mohawks made the land question stick at Oka in the 1990s is perhaps the best recent example of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism-Classic Thought. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism-Classic Thought is also good for an Aztlan on the territory stolen from Mexico.
Huey Newton was actually criticizing M-L-M Classic Thought when he talked about Taiwan, and perhaps worse, Korea. In Korea, there was a single territory, language, culture and economy, but the imperialists succeeded in dividing it despite national struggle against the u.$. imperialists. The key to understanding Newton Thought is that it holds that u.$. imperialism, in something we would call "globalization" today, changed the rules of the game with its power. Newton was concerned that u.$. imperialism would be able to buy off entire communities and influence others with consumerism and hence, nations could not really be built and constructed as envisioned by Lenin and Stalin.
Even more sharply than Korea, Vietnam influenced Huey Newton. Newton did not believe that Mao should make Korea, Vietnam and the Black nation stick to M-L-M Classic Thought, because some cultures simply could not make Stalin's nation definition stick and work for them. (Here Kim Il Sung's substitution of "common blood" for Stalin's nation thesis is relevant.) According to Newton, even with the best efforts by Mao, Uncle $am got Taiwan. Newton Thought claims that there is a better approach that could go further--intercommunalism.
One contrast between M-L-M Classic Thought and M-L-M Newton Thought would be that Newton Thought implies that where revolutionaries have seized territory, they can let go of the language, land and culture appeals to keep a nation "together" and on the road to liberation. There might be a more favorable approach to the mixing of ethnicities in such a view; although we would warn that even in M-L-M Classic Thought there is never talk of ethnically pure nations or national liberation achieved by the efforts of a single nationality. When we picture the birth of the intercommunalist idea, we can just see Newton's discomfort in visiting Koreans and Vietnamese and saying that Blacks do not have a territory or language or even contiguous economy, and that he, Newton, is not going to fight for one either within u.$. borders or in Africa. It is more or less Newton saying to the world: "look at u.$. imperialist power. It has destroyed the national question for at least some peoples as conceived by Stalin and hence it has destroyed the classic internationalist strategies of Lenin and Stalin."
It is also a burden on M-L-M Classic Thought that Stalin said the national question boiled down to an agrarian question. The Black Belt Thesis again comes to mind. Newton concluded it was out-of- date, but oppressed people potentially within the Maoist camp disagreed and continue to fight for an actual Black territory. The Black revolutionaries seeking territory do not turn down the Martin Luther King road.
The two main practical contributions of M-L-M Classic Thought involve Lenin's and Stalin's specific interventions on how to do work without relying centrally on white industrial workers. Stalin backed the Black Belt thesis centering on Black share-croppers. He also gave Pepper's theses on ruined farmers of North Amerika as the "main force" a hearing during the Comintern days.
We have to recast Marcus Garvey in the language of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist framework. To put it in proper Maoist language, we can justify the "return to Africa" strategy and its affiliated Pan- Africanism this way: 1) the white oppressor nation is not going to allow Black development; 2) sovereignty belongs to the First Nations anyway; 3) there is no progressive role for the Black bourgeoisie to play in Amerika, because it already has capitalist-imperialism. 4) super-profits will corrupt the political development of Blacks turned into middle classes unless we take action; 5) even the worst Black bourgeois might play some progressive role in Africa where there is still an agrarian question and stunted industrial development.
Garveyesque Thought is perhaps the most straight- forward rejection of the Martin Luther King road of integration with exploiters and oppressors. It is completely friendly to the M-L-M super-profit thesis as well.
MIM has objected to Garveyism before. Allying with white fascists to drive Blacks "back" to Africa does not seem defensible even for a Marxist- Leninist-Maoist Garveyesque Thought agenda.
Also in contrast with M-L-M Classic Thought, there is even more of a real material problem for M-L-M Garveyesque Thought. Whereas M-L-M Newton Thought claims that Stalin's national question formulation does not provide tools powerful enough for the Black nation, Koreans and Vietnamese (and let's remember that Newton wrote about intercommunalism before Vietnam liberated itself finally as a nation in 1975) to overcome u.$. imperialism, and that many nations cannot go down Mao's precise road in an equivalent sense, thereby justifying intercommunalism instead of copying Mao's precise road, M-L-M Garveyesque Thought claims that Blacks born in North Amerika will be able to "go back to Africa" and operate effectively.
Stalin might have counselled against the M-L-M Garveyesque idea, because the African economy is not contiguous with the Black economy in North America and there are even language barriers with Francophone Africa and other parts of Africa. What it all means is that Blacks trying to go back to Africa might be less effective than trying to seize a Black belt nation in the South of the united $tates.
On the other hand, many Maoists do operate effectively within M-L-M Garveyesque Thought and those are exiles who plan to go back to Peru, Turkey, India, the Philippines etc. While in theory, many of these comrades might even be the most confused by imperialist country social- democracy, in practice they are most prone to M-L-M Garveyesque Thought, an utter rejection of imperialist country social-democracy.
If we think about people who are "first generation" "immigrants," in many cases we see people sending money back home and shuttling back and forth. In practice, these "immigrant" or "exile" or "sojourner" M-L-Mers are rejecting the Martin Luther King road by not showing up in the imperialist countries to join a multiracial party as the first priority of their work. In contrast, MIM has said that at least ideologically speaking, these comrades do have a right to show up in the imperialist countries to participate directly in revolution there and see to the global proletariat's interests.
General discussion of the three lines
M-L-M Garveyesque Thought may become an excuse for aspiring Black imperialists. It might be that a "Back to Africa" movement may end up shipping more Amerikkka to Africa instead of building an organic connection of Blacks to the African economy they resettle in. Much of M-L-M Garveyesque Thought may seem Trotskyist in saying that "advanced" Blacks will bring progress to Africa instead of imperialist decadence.
The temptation to work through official comprador channels and cater to u.$. imperialism will be stronger in M-L-M Garveyesque Thought simply because the challenges are greater than in M-L-M Classic Thought for example, where revolutionaries simply work in the oppressed nation environment "on the land" that they know and are used to. For its part, MIM has always condemned "revolutionary tourism." We do not have to say that Blacks have sovereignty instead of First Nations to believe that Blacks are more familiar with U.$. territory than African territory.
Against its competitors, M-L-M Garveyesque Thought is usually the most reticent. Many of its participants are go-getters like Ho Chi Minh, but the development of a scientific road for the imperialist countries is often so far on the backburner as to be out of sight. That most M-L- Mers practice Garveyesque Thought when they first encounter the imperialist countries may not even occur to these M-L-Mers. Most only start to raise the question for the "second generation" of M-L- Mers living in the imperialist countries.
If we were to imagine a real M-L-M Garveyesque polemic, it would be that we do not want to contaminate our people with imperialist country middle-class ideas. M-L-M Garveyesque Thought would write off revolutionary work within imperialist country borders, implicitly because super-profits flow to such an extent that the Black petty-bourgeoisie will inevitably go down the Martin Luther King road, thereby contributing nothing to anyone's liberation. What we admire about M-L-M Garveyesque Thought is that it sets an outer limit on cooperation with exploiters and oppressors. It says that no matter what, even if the imperialists buy off everyone in North Amerika, and put them into "Matrix"-like stupor, the last proletarian-minded persyn left can go to Africa and the struggle will go on.
Against this notion, Huey Newton said that the Black lumpen was going to become the Black majority. Obviously MIM practice has adopted a heavy influence from this idea. Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver acknowledged a huge Black middle- class as well, but we at MIM believe they proved that they could cause the Black petty-bourgeoisie to vacillate in a revolutionary direction by starting with a lumpen-student base. What is more, the lumpen plays a particular international role in shooting down imperialism's rhetoric about spreading "freedom." When the Iraqi torture story broke in the bourgeois media, MIM was able to point to the treatment of prisoners in the united $tates by Graner and another prison guard turned soldier. This alone is a powerful rebuttal to M-L-M Garveyesque Thought.
The Mohawks are the clearest recent example of advance where M-L-M Classic Thought is nearly there in the words of revolutionary leaders in North Amerika. We suspect that Aztlan is not far behind. While it is true that Mexico also had its conflict between dominators and the indigenous peoples, as a whole, both the Mexican people and the indigenous peoples of the Southwest are exploited and share an interest in attacking Uncle $am.
Most comrades of Asian ethnicity are still grappling with the M-L-M Garveyesque question for the "first generation." The "second" and "third" generations are looking closely at Martin Luther King's road. It's doubtful that M-L-M Classic Thought will have much direct appeal for Asian ethnicity comrades in North Amerika: there's no identifiable land question--even more so than for Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver--unless we count the indigenous struggle for land in Hawaii as "Asian."
Against Newton Thought, the Classic Thought comrades could say that those with doubts about their own nationality's land claims should assist those who have definitely righteous ones. For example, the Koreans, many living in Manchuria, were helping the Chinese Communist Party defeat the Japanese oppressors. Before there was a Korean communist party, Koreans were in the Chinese one. Obviously the struggle was in Korean self-interest, but it was also true that Manchuria ended up in Chinese hands. It's a big mistake to think that Mao's revolution had only one nationality's participation.
Against this, the Newton Thought comrades might say there are more Blacks than First Nation people, so it is not practical to join First Nation M-L-M Classic Thought parties to lead the struggle for national liberation based on land against Uncle $am. The Newton Thought comrades can also say that Classic Thought would be right had not Newton proved that the Black Panther Party could force the Black petty-bourgeoisie to line up with the lumpen and guided by proletarian thought. Then again, Classic Thought might rebut that Newton's success came from a period before Newton's intercommunalist theses arose, even if Newton was practicing them unconsciously before publishing his intercommunalist theses.
I hope I have given an indication where MIM sees the real Marxist-Leninist-Maoist two-line struggles. There is no doubt that among the Classic, Newton and Garveyesque roads there will be sharp and bitter conflict from time to time. The lines of Wang Ming, Chen Tu-hsiu, Kao Kang etc. became synonymous with disgrace within Chinese communism. We can expect likewise that different lines will arise within the camp that sees a need to avoid representing Amerikan parasitism in the international communist movement.
All Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is scientific and holds that comrades of all colors can possibly understand truth. Genuine M-L-M within the majority-exploiter countries holds that the Martin Luther King road is not good for the goals of ending exploitation and oppression and that the white "working" class is neither oppressed nor exploited. Within genuine M-L-M, we can devise "Thoughts" for the concrete conditions based on our best estimates of the fastest revolutionary roads out of oppression and exploitation.
In two line struggles in the genuine Maoist camp we proceed from a point of view of unity-struggle-unity. This process applies to the participants of each school of "Thought" combined with the others.