|What's Your Line?|
4th Edition, October 1996
5th Edition, March-May 1999 by MC5
We publish this new online edition of "What's Your Line?" knowing that, as always, it's partial and may contain dated information. Don't complain,though- - help out! Send updated information, reviews, addresses, and soon, to MIM for inclusion in future editions of this feature.
Many people become lost in the maze of groups calling themselves communist or socialist. This pamphlet sorts them out according to general ideological orientation.
There are three sections which follow: a general essay on the materialist method of choosing and ideology, a glossary of terms and ideologies so that the labels such as Trotskyist or Stalinist can be meaningful, and a list of organizations, their orientations, our comments on them, and a list of further readings on them. All suggested readings are available at the listed price (postpaid) from MIM Distributors.
Note: Some of the URLs for the various organizations came from Internet searches and have not been verified. If any of the following groups would like their listed URL changed, please contact us at [email protected].
CHOOSING ONE IDEOLOGY OVER ANOTHER:
THE MATERIALIST METHOD
"We can (and must) begin to build socialism, not with abstract human material, or with human material specially prepared by us, but with the human material bequeathed to us by capitalism. True, it is not an easy matter, but no other approach to this task is serious enough to warrant discussion."
V. I. Lenin, "'Left-Wing Communism,'--An Infantile Disorder," Collected Works, Vol. 31, p. 50.
It is only by examining the practice of various ideologies over the long run of history that one can decide which ideology is the most effective in promoting end of oppression of oppressed groups by oppressor groups. In contrast, some people think it is fair to compare an abstract idea with an actual movement. That is not materialist method. Once one allows ideas to be compared with actual, historical movements one has no way of stopping all kinds of comparisons of ideas with actual practices. One can only compare practices with practices.
It is intellectuals and Trotskyists who compare practices with ideas to see how good or bad the practice is. With this comparison, for example, it is easy to shoot down the practice of Stalinism with the ideas of Trotskyism or the ideas of Madison and Jefferson or any idea for that matter. This method is not wrong because it is Trotskyist or Madisonian. Rather, Trotskyism is wrong because it uses this idealist method to criticize Stalinism instead of comparing Trotskyist practice with Stalinist practice.
In the same vein, it's not fair to compare Maoism with Jesus Christ in the abstract. Maybe Mao did not obey the 10 Commandments. But his followers have a better practice than the Christians when it comes to ending oppression.
The only time it is correct to evaluate a practice in relationship to an idea is within that practice. Maoists can determine if there are better ways to be Maoists and tap existing potential by discussing ideas within Maoism. Even then, the only proof of the validity of a new Maoist idea is by comparing one Maoist practice with another Maoist practice.
Hence MIM uses the "where's the beef" taunt to everyone else. There are an infinity of logically consistent ideas ranging from professors' pet economic models to Hare Krishna. Only some ideas, however, have come with practices to end oppression. By choosing the ideology that goes with the most historically effective practice of social change to end oppression, one separates oneself from dogmatism and religion. Dogmatism may take the form of believing in reform no matter what; it may take the form of opposing dogma all the time, but in every case dogmatism and religion really amount to comparing apples and oranges, the apples being ideas and the oranges, practices. Dogmatists of all stripes conclude that oranges should be more like apples. In contrast, Marxist materialists just pick the best oranges.
MIM forms the following conclusions on the materialist method:
edited and updated October 14, 2002
ANARCHISTS: Typically anarchists don't believe in a party or democratic centralism. Although they have a hatred for oppression and authority, the groups are principally a First World phenomenon and have never won a revolution
or created any transformation even a half as good as in Mao's China, not even 5% as good for that matter. For more information, see MIM Theory 8: "The Anarchist Ideal and Communist Revolution" ($6).
SOCIAL DEMOCRATS: Believe that socialism can be brought about through the ballot box and that the bourgeoisie will compromise with the working class. For more information, see the section on rightism in MIM Theory MIM Theory 5: "Diet for a Small Red Planet" ($6).
DENGISTS: Support the student butchering regime of China today and the leadership of the late Deng Xiaoping. Often these groups espouse mixed economy rhetoric.
"STALINISTS": "Stalinists" uphold Joseph Stalin and do not believe anybody advanced Marxism-Leninism after Lenin. They can be difficult to separate from Hoxhaites and sometimes Brezhnevites. Since Stalin was dialectical, we do not believe it is possible to defend him without advancing to Maoism, but here we honor what people say they are but in quotes. Some or most people calling themselves "Marxist-Leninist" defend Stalin and in fact most Stalin-defenders do not call themselves "Stalinist," but we include them here anyway for upholding Stalin as the last word.
HOXHAITES: These uphold Albanian socialism and the leader of the Albanian Communist Party, Enver Hoxha. Hoxha claimed unity with Mao until the latter's death, when Hoxha publicly criticized the Cultural Revolution.
KIM IL SUNGISTS:Uphold the "Juche" idea of the late president of northern Korea, Kim Il Sung. Like Hoxhaites and the left-wing of Brezhnevism, carry forward Stalin's theory of class struggle under socialism and reject Mao's attack on the bourgeoisie in the party.
BREZHNEVITES:Uphold the USSR of the 1960s to 1980s. Seek immediate restoration of USSR on nationalist/chauvinist grounds. Attack Gorbachev and Yeltsin.
MAOISTS: Follow the lead of Mao Zedong, chair of the Chinese Communist Party, who was the first communist leader to identify class struggle as continuing under socialism against a bourgeoisie inside the country. Believe that capitalism was restored in the USSR after the death of Stalin and that capitalism was restored in China in 1976. See "What is MIM?" ($2).
REVOLUTIONARY NATIONALISTS: In the U.S. this generally refers to groups struggling to liberate the Black, Native American or Latino nations within these borders. Nationalists may or may not be communists and either way they see the struggle of the nation as primary. See MIM Theory 7: "Proletarian Feminist Revolutionary Nationalism on the Communist Road" ($6).
TROTSKYISTS, NEO-TROTSKYISTS, CRYPTO-TROTSKYISTS: Trots support Leon Trotsky, Menshevik leader who opposed V.I. Lenin until the Soviet victory in 1917 Trotsky broke with Stalin over the feasibility of socialism in one country which Trotsky said was impossible. Orthodox Trots believe that the working classes of the advanced capitalist countries are the best vehicle for worldwide revolution and downplay the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist struggles of the oppressed nations.
Neo-Trots temper their support of Trotsky by dropping one or two of the most obviously reactionary Trotskyist tenets. Neo-Trots are often more supportive of national liberation struggles in principle than mainstream Trots. However, neo-Trots still uphold Trotsky's non-Marxist critique of the USSR under Stalin.
Crypto-Trots do not explicitly support Trotsky and often reject Trotskyism superficially in words. In practice, however, crypto-Trots put forward Trotskyist dogma in new packaging. Most significantly they suffer from the same great-nation chauvinism as the other Trots, over-emphasizing the role of the oppressor nation working classes and underemphasizing the role of the liberation struggles of the oppressed nations. For more information on Trotskyism, read On Trotskyism, by Kostas Mavrakis ($15). Go here for some things you learn in Mavrakis's book.