by PIRAO Chief, December 9, 2004
MIM's central task: "to create public opinion and the independent institutions of the oppressed to seize power."
|Statistic||November, 2003||November, 2004||% change (except where otherwise indicated)|
|Number of different computers MIM served||44469||47605||+7%|
|Avg. MIM pages served per day||3652||6419||+76%|
|MIM data transferred||117.7 megabytes/day||259.05 megabytes/day||+120%|
|MIM Notes (English) printed copies compared with pre-911=100||200||111|
|All language newspapers printed copies compared with pre-911=100||200||111|
|Number of top 53 cites of U.$/Kanada receiving at least 1000 MIM Notes**||15||7|
|MIM prison circulation averaged over two months Jan 2002=100||94||0|
|Number of Art page users||4995||6623||+33%|
|Number of different MIM web page files actively chosen from||4517||7254||+61%|
|Department||November 2003 users||November 2004 users||% change||November 2003 pages taken||November 2004 pages taken||% change|
|Prisons agitation only||2421||3027||+25%||5137||12,125||+136%|
This month we continue to fail in our primary goal of advancing the number of users. Also, as arranged at our 2004 Congress, we cut back the November and December MIM Notes. Meanwhile, our art users only recovered to their 2002 levels.
On the prisons front we have bad news and good news. The bad news is that there was no money to distribute papers into prison. Some comrades have stepped forward to keep MIM Notes afloat, but funding for prison distribution is just coming on line now. In the past, I have taken the blame for prison distribution, but in this case I will not. One could say I should do more of X work instead of Y work or allocate resources differently, but then I would be here making a false self-criticism for a shortage somewhere else, such as in MIM Notes printing. It would also encourage people to have overly inflated ideas about MIM's resources.
The good news in prisons is that we continue to right a historic wrong in relations between the lumpen and the middle classes. By this I mean that MIM was always strong in prisons, but the people outside prison walls were not paying much attention. Articles taken in just the prison subsection of our agitation page increased at a 136% annual rate this November.
On an even brighter note, this month had solid growth in our second-most important goal, pages taken. With 76% annual growth in files taken per day, we are almost on target with our Five Year Plan for that goal. Concretely, it means that right now, we average over 250 articles taken per every hour of each day.
MIM Notes distribution
We have a report of independent MIM Notes distribution in Toronto which we do not include in the statistics. As we have pointed out before, the .pdf files are available on our web page. Anyone can print them and distribute them. To learn how to do that and do it once is the major hurdle for any comrade learning distribution. After that, comrades can work on increasing their frequency of distribution per year. Learn to do big distribution of MIM Notes by doing it.
Realistically, it takes on the order of $1000 to be able to print a substantial quantity of newspapers. For many people, that $1000 is another hurdle. Yet, knowing what the problem is is also helpful. The money problem is just another reason we of the proletarian line are the underdog. If we cannot arrange $1000, we should work on earning a living more efficiently and examine our consumer choices--apartments that are too expensive often being a culprit. Some people would be dramatically better off buying a house and paying a mortgage instead of a rent. Only the children, senior citizens, disabled and prisoners really have a good reason in the majority-exploiter countries for not being able to raise printing money. The rest of us need to think about it. This is our attitude toward any resource question.
It's not enough to enjoy reading MIM. Whenever we say "can't do it" to ourselves, we have to realize we just learned something. We are not Buddhist or Hindu practitioners aiming at thought devoid of material influences. On the contrary, our problem is to obtain all kinds of resources, not to say "we don't have it," and then purify our minds. Working with a vanguard party in the majority-exploiter countries is much like being a business entrepreneur who works from the bottom up. We get people who apply all kinds of wrong logic to working with MIM. It's not like asking for a government job, fitting like a cog in a big corporation or picking a church or fashion outlet at the mall. Out of all these experiences people are familiar with in the non-unionized sectors of majority-exploiter countries, the entrepreneur is really the most applicable model. Most union experiences are also not applicable, because most unions are tied in with large corporations. The large corporations offer a model of how to organize, but they also buy people off so fundamentally, that they are not the best example--though churches, unions and single-issue organizations provide a foundation of experiences very helpful to MIM.
Some people will decide they cannot arrange $1000 or more for their own distribution work in which case they should find other ways to build public opinion against imperialism and for communism and the independent institutions of the oppressed. On the other hand, most non-prisoners in the majority-exploiter countries have a basis for gradually improving their distribution work.
Getting to the point of doing printing once is a major achievement. Before MIM did it, we worked with xerox copies and that is another way to go in the short run-- to pick articles or posters and do xerox copies. However, comrades should put out of their minds doing distribution of a newspaper every two weeks in small quantities. Let this be an official retraction or end to a past campaign to increase distribution. If comrades in each locality do a large distribution once a year or even two years, this will contribute hugely and also serve as a basis for improvement. In addition to a large sum of money, the activity also requires some free time to distribute the paper. Comrades may wish to consider planning to spread out the distribution over periods of days and maybe weeks or months.
The proletarian class obviously must improve greatly to rule, so improvement is more important than actual level of political work accomplished. We could become demoralized thinking how the bourgeois papers publish their garbage daily or even by how the MIM publishes twice a month. That would be the totally wrong way of looking at the question. The right way is to take a step toward improvement and focus on the one's own progress in contributing to the communist movement. One should take this MIM-recommended road, because imperialism is going to do itself in and because the Third World proletariat is going to assert its interests eventually. The more than five billion people on the bottom will take power from the other billion or fewer people. In the meantime while this huge historical trend is asserting itself, we should not get lost in its scale and instead we should focus on improving our own activities.
Corresponding attitude toward the party
Something we have stressed is that MIM is not Burger King. We don't have "have it your way." We don't have a professional staff and the number of jobs needed for the revolutionary movement are infinite in variety and intensity, at least metaphorically speaking. So we hope everyone looks at the party the right way. Even if we had a professional staff, MIM would not encourage a consumer ethos in picking one's politics.
It's not a question of "shopping" for a party or dumping jobs on the party and seeing how it does. These are the sorts of passive activities that imperialist consumer society encourages both at home and at work. How often we have heard "the party does not do _________ (fill in the blank)." It would be like "I don't buy that gadget, because I need 60 watts instead of 40." That is wrong and the correct way to choose a party out-of-power and without control of base areas as is the situation generally in the imperialist countries today is by how it hastens the scientific struggle--and by hastening I do not mean a random fill-in-the-blank "practice." The correct way is by choice of cardinal principles and nothing else. Everything else is part of our predicament of being the underdog class and not doing something because of that underdog status is the equivalent of original sin. There are good and bad reasons for rejecting MIM. The worst reason is thinking one has a proletarian line and then making the absolutely circular discovery that MIM is the underdog. A good reason for rejecting work with MIM is realizing that one likes bourgeois ideology and does not want to waste MIM's time. There are all sorts of alternatives to MIM ranging from Republican to Trotskyist organizations.
MIM is not asking for votes or for trust. Because what we have to accomplish is different than what Burger King or John Kerry attempt to accomplish and because we do not have the bourgeois resources sufficient to simply replace the government, we must focus on continuous improvement by taking up self-reliance.
The exploited and oppressed camp must have a different outlook than Burger King and other businesses serving consumers. "Ask not what the party can do for you but what you can do to create public opinion and the independent institutions of the oppressed" should be our motto.
Part of adopting the right approach is puncturing any myths about the party. For example, PIRAO is defunct. I'm still here, but I and other comrades are busy with such a wide range of things that for all practical purposes concerning the outsider, PIRAO is defunct. Now, some people will react by becoming discouraged. Others will see this as a lesson about our underdog status. Part of my job is to report on this accountably, so people will know our strengths and weaknesses. Though we are in a weak position, other organizations and activists do not issue reports as regularly and accountably as we do. So my point is not to say we are inactive, only that for practical purposes PIRAO is defunct.
Originally, we had hoped PIRAO would serve as an organization for people under the tightest discipline. As one might think, that is not our strong suit in the majority-exploiter countries. Yet, as it stands we do not have the leadership to implement even partially some aspects of the PIRAO concept for people willing to do disciplined work or for people who need disciplined structure. That is up to you, our reader to become PIRAO leaders.
PIRAO has become more of a mediating influence--talking about how to approach going from lofty principles and understandings to action. Reading theory magazines and MIM Notes, one could end up a reading consumer only, so PIRAO has attempted to communicate through these reports more about what it's like to do work that we call "infrastructural" as opposed to direct public opinion or theory writing.
MIM holds no base areas or government power. That's a key point in understanding what kind of accountability to apply to MIM. Again, if one thinks there is some kind of huge stash of centrally-located resources that need to be employed, that is not the case, at least not right now.
Although we have more readers than any other organization in the English-speaking world calling itself "communist," we also reach our limits and that is also an example of puncturing myths. For example, why we are stuck at around 40,000 readers, I do not know. That could just be our limits as individuals here, so it's encouraging to see a deeper readership. Perhaps the deepening of readership will lead to people's making contributions to the struggles that will get MIM out of this rut, if not now, then by steady improvement, soon enough.
In fact, the readership this month was noticeably dramatically better. This month there were so many articles including many rather obscure ones with over 100 readers that it makes me tired thinking about it. Hopefully we will all get used to the idea that no matter how much we put in work on articles for the website, there will be more demand.
As the number of files taken on the website indicates, there is a connection between the work we manage to get up on the web page and our readership. The number of files taken increased 61% in one year and that is a major accomplishment by comrades submitting their articles and other web files. Of course, MIM does all that by going through a political weeding-out process. We have proved that it is possible to oppose all opportunism and come up with big numbers.
There is not a single "job" that the party center does that it always did. MIM comrades printed first and then became journalists, editors and graphics workers. MIM also did not have the money, transportation and other resources and skills that it has now.
The good thing about the way the MIM web page is set up is that people can arrange their own printings and distribution and not "trust" the party. The party has more than earned "trust," but in the most important senses, "trust" is not an important question. We encourage everyone to keep their eyes on "impact." Decide for yourself if you like what MIM Notes says and whether you "trust" the party or not, do something to distribute MIM Notes if you like it. That's what we mean by keeping the eye on "impact."