This is an archive of the former website of the Maoist Internationalist Movement, which was run by the now defunct Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika. The MIM now consists of many independent cells, many of which have their own indendendent organs both online and off. MIM(Prisons) serves these documents as a service to and reference for the anti-imperialist movement worldwide.
Maoist Internationalist Movement

Definition of sectarianism: What is sectarianism? What are you doing about it?

by [email protected], January 26, 2002

See also, "Why don't all you leftists work together?"
See also, Party Congress 2001, "On science, spirituality, existentialism, sectarianism and leadership in the imperialist countries"

Sectarianism originally referred to the splintering and factionalism within a particular religion. Now it also applies to any inter-religious conflict as in Ireland. A sect was originally a church organization with specific views.

In discussions of communism and socialism, it is an insult within communism or socialism to say someone belongs to a "sect," which is usually just a party not having widespread support. When Marxists speak of "sectarianism," they refer to a situation where an organization puts its own needs above those of the international proletariat. Such a line results in unnecessary disunity instead of working together. Sectarians tend to believe that no one else has any portion of the truth. As such, sectarians find it difficult to unite with others not in their organization. The word "sect" gained most of its usage in religious splintering prior to the existence of Marxism. Protestantism is especially prone to splits based on the individual's relationship to God.

The opposite but equal stupidity to "sectarianism" is "Liberalism" and "opportunism." Liberals and opportunists "work together" with everyone and consequently suffer a lack of direction and get no where. One persyn will pull in one direction and another will pull in another and the two will cancel out.

Amongst those calling themselves "communist" in the imperialist countries, MIM believes most tend toward Liberal opportunism, not sectarianism. To put that in standard Marxist-Leninist language, it means that the "main danger" is opportunism.

Sectarianism is not struggling hard for principles or scientific understanding, as most opportunists would have us believe. Nor is sectarianism the act of profound commitment to an organization, the way many burned-out radicals would have us believe.

The international proletariat is currently the underdog. It cannot run the strategy which is the sports equivalent of "running out the clock." The proletariat must advance itself and its class consciousness in every way to be able to surpass the bourgeoisie. Thus, the leaders of the proletariat must in particular ruthlessly clear the way for that advancement. That means those who believe sectarianism is struggle for scientific understanding --or worse still revolutionary commitment--must be completely disregarded. The last thing that the proletariat can afford is laziness, complacency and smug self-satisfaction with its position.

That is the theoretical explanation of sectarianism. On the web page, we have undertaken numerous actions to carry out a practice of opposing sectarianism. Concretely it means giving credit where credit is due. No one is ever wrong 100% of the time and sometimes people not in MIM do major work in one area that MIM agrees with nearly completely. It would be a waste to redo the work someone else did just because that someone else is not in MIM or its circles.

Examples of working with people we disagree with or compete with for recruits

  • Selling books of all kinds (not by our organization) in our bookstore, with our criticisms.
  • Redistributing numerous articles of the PCP, comrades in Peru, even though MIM has no organizational tie to the PCP.
  • Redistributing numerous correct articles by Jose Maria Sison and the Communist Party of the Philippines; even though MIM and the CPP have open disagreements.
  • Promoting anarchist J. Sakai's "Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat." MIM has distributed so many copies of this book that some of Sakai's critics mistakenly identify Sakai as a supporter of MIM. Sakai's book slams us Maoists in passing repeatedly, but it is mostly correct. Maoists and anarchists are in competition for recruits, so the sectarian thing to do would be not to work with the anarchists.
  • Posting a link to Progressive Labor Party's copy of Ludo Martens's book on Stalin titled "Another View of Stalin;" even though, MIM regards both PLP and Ludo Martens as revisionist. It does not matter to MIM, because that book about Stalin is definitely mostly correct and a serious contribution, so we promote it, regardless of the other flaws of the authors. PLP and MIM are competing for recruits, so the sectarian thing to do would be to fail to mention this valuable work by Ludo Martens.
  • Posting the whole book by Hoxhaite Bill Bland titled "The Restoration of Capitalism in the Soviet Union," even though Bland apparently regarded Mao as a "comprador" puppet of U.$. imperialism. Despite these and other crackpot views of Bland's, his work on the transition from Stalin to Khruschev is detailed and correct, not just 51% correct either.
  • MIM links to Amazon to sell the "RCP"-USA's book titled And Mao Makes Five. Every time MIM does something to support something the "RCP"-USA does, MIM gets some sort of criticism. However, that book is a collection of articles from the Cultural Revolution in China and Raymond Lotta's introduction criticizing Zhou Enlai is mostly correct if controversial. There can be no doubt that the book is correct to a high degree, a high percentage of what truth is possible today in 2002, a lot more than 51% or 65% to use a teacher's standard.
  • MIM's Afghanistan news article collection connects to numerous articles that help people to understand the situation. If MIM had a very large journalistic staff, we would connect to fewer bourgeois media stories, but at the present time, the truth is the truth, even when the bourgeoisie says it occasionally.
  • MIM's Afghanistan collection connects to a "RCP"-USA article about ultra-reactionary Zionists attacking those they consider enemies within U.$. borders. The "RCP"-USA article makes some claims we do not agree with, and those claims make the article less attractive to connect to, but we linked to it, because the issue of beating back militarist and Zionist attacks specifically aimed at the "RCP"-USA is the pro thing in that context. The particular reactionaries in question did not attack MIM, so it was appropriate for MIM to stand by the "RCP"-USA.

    Examples of connections MIM did not make


    Generally when MIM believes it has already done better first-hand reporting, it does not get involved with bourgeois news media sources. Likewise, when MIM has covered an issue well itself, MIM is less likely to work with others.

  • A Libertarian Party web page on prisons was mostly correct, but MIM's own work on prisons in Amerikkka is unsurpassed. There was no reason to divert readers to the Libertarian Party when there is plenty to read at MIM's web site on the topic. Of course, the Libertarian Party also sprinkled in various illusions about George Washington and the problem being only legalizing drugs.

  • MIM used to promote "Off Our Backs" as a feminist publication to read. The web page no longer makes this an unqualified matter, because now MIM has covered much of the same ground, in MIM Theory 2/3 for instance.

  • MIM does not connect to any "web rings," because those "communist" and "Marxist" rings are too diffuse, with most material the material of phony communists in the imperialist countries. MIM prefers to link to those numerous organizations spreading confusion about Marxism on a case-by-case basis.

    A tell-tale sign of sectarianism is an organization or people in organizations unable to give credit where credit is due. Uncertain of the truth themselves and taught obedience to their own organization only (which then gets called a "sect,"), sectarians are unable to tell when others speak the truth. They become uncomfortable in concrete struggles and situations without their organization telling them what to do, because the organization never taught them how to discern truth and how to oppose both sectarianism and right-opportunism or outright revisionism.


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