"Why doesn't MIM have large membership?" or
"Why aren't you already active in my backyard?" or
"Why aren't you already doing X, Y or Z?"
MIM replies: MIM does not care about large membership and never did.
The "vanguard party" idea is that we need an organization of leaders. People concerned about party size are looking for a cover for their own inactivity or uncertainty of views, most likely a reliance on authority for truth instead of doing one's own investigation. They are not leaders.
Leaders do not talk about the vanguard party as something that does something for them. The Maoist vanguard party does not do revolution for people, the way Burger King makes a burger for you.
Any revolutionary organization worth its salt will say that membership numbers are not what count. The question about numbers is usually referred to as "pragmatism," an especially pernicious Anglo ideology. Pragmatism denies the importance of revolutionary science.
It should also be clear that the whole reason Lenin said we needed a party of a "new type" is that the goal is not really to win an election or just count heads. The goal of the vanguard party is to perform certain tasks into a certain direction. So we are different than the other parties.
The numbers oriented kind of pragmatism is also linked to a misconception concerning party-building that is sectarian in nature. The whole question implies that party-building is the number one task. When activists think that way, they are automatically guilty of sectarianism, because they are putting party-building above the work that the party actually accomplishes with the international proletariat. The two are not the same: party-building especially in numbers is not the same thing as benefitting the international proletariat the most. There is no historical link between a party's size and its eventual effectiveness. Lenin is the best example, as someone from the smallest party and deemed "crazy" right up into 1917.
As a believer in vanguard organization, MIM dismisses those who worry about numbers. We hope such people join anti-war and Third World solidarity organizations such as the American Friends Service Committee, Oxfam etc.
The proper question to ask MIM could be two-fold: "How is MIM going to help me maximize my individual contribution to the struggle and how are MIM requirements per comrade higher than in other organizations."
1) MIM helps comrades maximize their contribution by keeping them focused on the target. Other organizations do not see a question of exploitation the way we do. With the cell-strategy, we are creating the most space for new leaders. Comrades should see in MIM that it has the highest standards for pushing scientific activity through struggle. We set a bar and are willing to judge what is too low a level of struggle. Comrades will just have to think this through for themselves, "are we the proletariat good enough as we are or do we need to struggle hard to reach higher levels of scientific understanding and class consciousness." And once we decide this question and if we decide against peace and love with what we have right now, then who more than MIM exemplifies this arduous attitude of struggle.
2) The original MIM cell tosses people for petty-bourgeois views. We do not settle for what people want to hear about political economy and we expect people to have answers to basic questions of class. We also do not accept excuses about being "exploited" as a reason not to donate to the struggle. The party tries to set a standard and give people feedback about how much further they can go to advance. Often that feedback is negative. One of the most common negative feedbacks we have to give is in response to this question. Obviously, the vanguard party idea is a leadership idea. There can't be anymore members in such a party than there are leaders.
MIM has reached a point where infiltration matters. We have to sort out who is just a spy or even just a sincere petty-bourgeois vacillator from who is really going to do work, so we toss 90% of the people other organizations would try to relate to through in-depth hand-holding. MIM cannot hand-hold. MIM selects people who are already leaders to train them in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. It's the difference between seeing the party as followers or principally leaders. One view or the other is better for the international proletariat. By accepting a follower view of parties, we lower standards.
MIM's assistance is actually slight in the scheme of things. We have some projects underway that we can offer to people. We collect up some types of public opinion and research work in one place, but other than that, we are looking for people who are already leaders. In the end, leaders choose MIM. They distinguish themselves from others. Leaders realize that MIM and its similar comrades are going to be looking for dragons. They are going to understand MIM is going to have a hard time telling proletarian activists apart from do-nothing spies and petty-bourgeois vacillators. So in this way too, MIM prepares the most bracing struggle.
If you think peace-and-love unity are what we need, because our class is good enough to win if it adopts this attitude, then MIM is not your cup of tea. MIM sees a huge difference between itself and most other organizations. The reason is that we believe scientific struggle does matter hugely and that is why we need a vanguard party. If you don't agree with that, you can still join an anti-war or other organization and open friendly relations with MIM. There is no need to try to take up Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.