Maoism Around Us
We chose the title above, because this is not meant to be a comprehensive analysis of Maoism around the world today. Rather it is Maoism from the limited perspective of a small organization with a fairly limited scope of work, located in perhaps the least likely part of the world for Maoism to arise, or at least to take hold.
If MIM(Prisons) had more time, we would have put out statements on the question of the state of the Maoist movement and fraternal organizations sooner. Yet, if we had more time we could do much more in our specific role as a Maoist prison organization in the united $tates, so this is not something we can promise to update often. We are going to lump a bunch of topics into this paper and make it available to the minority of our readership that has been asking these questions for some time. As things develop, we need to be accountable in the work that we do and who we do it with. The decision to work on this also followed the public disclosure of information around individuals in the Maoist movement. We will address this question first.
Old MIM, New MIM
After a couple years of intense struggle between some long-time members of the Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika and various state agents, one founding member has come forward publicly. MIM has always promoted anonymity for both security and to disarm tendencies towards identity politics and cults of persynality among pre-scientific thinkers. Therefore, the state's success in forcing this persyn to go public was a significant task and evidently a significant set back to the movement.
In the last couple years, many comrades have moved away from those under attack. Part of this was an intentional response by the movement to protect our various forces from being pulled into further attacks. But some got frustrated with the state of the etext.org website, which had been a beacon for revolutionaries in the First World for decades, but had become a battle ground focused on discussions that most could make no sense of. This was an unfortunate setback, as those who ran the etext.org site acknowledged on many occasions.
Eventually, some who had distanced themselves from etext.org claimed to have made an open break with MIM as a whole. This paper, in part, will attempt to question that break.
First, let us define some terms as we see them. We define MIM as MIM defined itself:
The Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) is the collection of existing or emerging Maoist internationalist parties in the English-speaking imperialist countries and their English-speaking internal semi-colonies, as well as the existing or emerging Maoist Internationalist parties in Belgium, France and Quebec and the existing or emerging Spanish-speaking Maoist Internationalist parties of Aztlán, Puerto Rico and other territories of the U.$. Empire. MIM Notes is the newspaper of MIM. Notas Rojas is the newspaper of the Spanish-speaking parties or emerging parties of MIM.
MIM upholds the revolutionary communist ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and is an internationalist organization that works from the vantage point of the Third World proletariat.
MIM struggles to end the oppression of all groups over other groups; classes, genders, nations. MIM knows this is only possible by building public opinion to seize power through armed struggle.
Revolution is a reality for the United States as the military becomes over-extended in the government's attempts to maintain world hegemony.
This is from the 1999 Congress where "About MIM" was revised to define MIM as "a collection of existing or emerging Maoist internationalist parties." MIM had always defined the scope of its work to be within the First World. As the movement evolved, that vision took shape and the Maoist Internationalist Party -Amerika was no longer synonymous with MIM, even though some still identify themselves as "MIM" to this day. The only part of the above definition that is no longer true is that MIM was an organization with centralized party organs called MIM Notes and Notas Rojas. MIM is now a "movement" without a central organizational structure. Therefore its members are defined ideologically and fluidly, and not by a membership roll or card.
The 2005 MIM Congress resolutions on cell organizing (1) stressed the importance of organizing and documenting the development of our political line, specifically using the worldwide web. Hence the importance of keeping the work that was hosted by etext.org online, especially in a period where our movement is so decentralized. MIM(Prisons) has a particular interest in playing this role in that we may be more true to the etext MIM-line than any other organization with an online presence. We also use these materials regularly in our education work offline.
The cell resolutions set up a division of labor that left the original MC cell as a sort of center. The current complete decentralization seems to be the logical outcome of the cell resolutions, and MIM(Prisons) holds that there is no center of the MIM today.
Those resolutions also put forth an outline for recognizing fraternal cells, stating that the MC cell would renounce such status if line changes deemed it necessary. In many instances, it is better to just talk about line and take positions in struggles within the movement without naming names. Timeless documents on these struggles will be more useful in the long run. Favoring in depth anonymous analysis over short, substanceless denunciations or lists discourages cheerleading and meddling by those who are not engaged in line struggles but want to have something to say anyway. Therefore this document is structured as an in-depth discussion and not a list of who's hot and who's not.
We do however, see the importance in addressing specific organizations here by name. In MIM's original proposal they had specific projects that they were recognizing as fraternal that they were then recommending others be involved with as a form of division of labor. As long as the movement discourages the centralized party structure, we will by necessity have such a division of labor. Therefore, if one cell does not offer something, it is beneficial to be able to point to that something from another cell. This is the simplest example of cells working together. Any such work together requires accountability, especially if there are any differences in lines between the cells. Having such accountability is one of the main purposes of this paper.
Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons
MIM(Prisons) has built itself on the legacy of the MIM Prison Ministry, benefitting greatly from their work. We have improved on some aspects of the work of the Maoist prison ministry, but it has taken us some time to update all of the materials passed on to us. We have recently put out a revised version of "What is MIM(Prisons)?" which should be compared to the "What is MIM?" statement above:
In September 2007, the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons or MIM(Prisons) was formed as an independent Maoist cell. In 2007, the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) took some security hits and changed its organizing strategy as a result. One of the significant changes relates to cell-based organizing as opposed to having a centralized party. MIM(Prisons) upholds the MIM cardinal questions and uses the overall political line put forth in MIM Notes, MIM Theory and on the former website as our starting point to develop our own line and practice. We distribute MIM Theory and serve an archive of the old MIM web site, which we also use as a regular source for prison-based educational work. The MIM legacy in fighting the criminal injustice system is strong and we carry that legacy forward in our own work.
The Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) is the collection of existing or emerging Maoist internationalist parties in the English-speaking imperialist countries and their English-speaking internal semi-colonies, as well as the existing or emerging Maoist Internationalist parties in Belgium, France and Quebec and the existing or emerging Spanish-speaking Maoist Internationalist parties of Aztlán, Puerto Rico and other territories of the U.$. Empire.
MIM(Prisons) upholds the revolutionary communist ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and is an internationalist organization that works from the vantage point of the Third World proletariat.
MIM(Prisons) struggles to end the oppression of all groups over other groups; classes, genders, nations. Our current battles in the United States are legal ones. We encourage prisoners to join these battles while explicitly discouraging them from engaging in any violence or illegal acts. MIM(Prisons) and its publications explicitly oppose the use of armed struggle at this time in the imperialist countries (including the United States). We do recognize that history has demonstrated that armed struggle is a necessary step to bring the oppressed to power to determine their own destinies. Revolution will become a reality within the United States as the military becomes over-extended in the government’s attempts to maintain world hegemony.
Fighting the injustice system is just one part of the anti-imperialist struggle, and it is important that organizers on the outside and prisoners not lose sight of the connections to this larger battle. For this reason, in addition to news about prisons and prison struggles, we will also publish more general news articles from both organizers and prisoners, as well as some general theoretical writings from prisoners. We welcome support and collaboration from those who are focused only on the prison struggle, but we also challenge them to see the bigger picture of imperialism and the importance of carrying out their work as a part of a larger anti-imperialist strategy.
The differences in our statement and the old MIM statement stem from the fact that we are not a centralized party, but a project with a specific role to play. As such, the question of armed struggle is not one that we must engage directly as an organization. While MIP-amerika had aspired to play a vanguard role in armed struggle some day in the future, MIM(Prisons) will never play this role. Our role is in supporting the development of other organizations and projects, whether initiated by MIM(Prisons) or our allies. We cannot give up this role in order to take on these new projects as our own as some have asked us to do. Our principal task is to maintain the prison ministry as a source of educational and agitational material and as a central coordinating body for the anti-imperialist prison movement.
To an extent, the change in wording regarding armed struggle is tactical in our efforts to reach agreements with various departments of corrections regarding our literature. But it is also strategic in relation to organizational strategy. It is not just a change of semantics, MIM(Prisons) does not now nor ever will be an organization for carrying out armed struggle. Our theory on the topic, however, does not differ from the Maoist line in any way. We recognize the need for armed struggle to achieve true independence. As long as the oppressor has a gun to the head of the oppressed, they cannot be free. Peaceful transitions to so-called "independence" have only resulted in neo-colonialism, a 0% success rate in liberating a people from poverty and oppression. Armed struggles have also ended in neo-colonialism, but armed struggle increases the chances of independence to much greater than zero. By studying history we can continue to increase the success rate by learning from past mistakes.
As mentioned, one of MIM(Prisons) primary tasks in the division of labor is as a distributor of revolutionary, particularly Maoist, materials among prisoners in the united $tates. There is always a major problem among the masses and the general public of not being able to distinguish between political lines. Many newsletters for prisoners pick and choose articles from all over the place and send them in together. While lacking in leadership, this is a fine service for a prisoner support group that is not claiming to represent a particular line to provide to those who would otherwise have no access to the information that anyone on the outside can obtain on their own. However, there have been other newsletters that claim to be produced by, or under the leadership of a Maoist organization that practice this form of distribution, muddying the waters of revisionism. This same problem is seen online, where comrades have criticized such practices already.
Currently, Under Lock & Key (ULK) is under the complete editorial control of MIM(Prisons). In ULK, most of the writing is by prisoners, but we add commentary and analysis where necessary to push the most advanced line. Most of the prisoners that write us are not Maoists themselves. Most cannot distinguish us from revisionist organizations. Many don't understand why we are separate from liberal bourgeois organizations.
When MIM(Prisons) reprints material from other organizations we will specify our differences with the material. While we recognize that many of our readers don't see a difference between MIM(Prisons) and reformist or single issue groups, we will not do a full review of every such organization that we work with. That is United Front work. Fraternal work is another story. Organizations that claim Maoism as their ideology (in full or in part) must be assessed in the spirit of combating revisionism and staying on the road to liberation.
In the future, ULK may expand to include materials from more sectors of the Maoist movement. At this time, MIM(Prisons) occasionally distributes materials from other Maoist cells, where those materials correctly answer questions that we have not publicly provided analysis of ourselves or otherwise play a role that we cannot. This use of the division of labor allows MIM(Prisons) to serve more prisoners, without taking on the burden of a full Maoist Party that writes its own theory journal and has an up-to-date analysis on various international questions, among other tasks that the movement must tackle.
Some very experienced comrades have fallen into the habit of, "if you can't google it, it doesn't exist." Many of the organizations we mention below are primarily or strongly online entities. We focus on them because they inherently have a broader audience and serve as potential information sources for our comrades. The division of labor puts certain cells in more prominent roles of developing political line (or muddling it as the case may be with revisionist organizations claiming Maoism). Some groups are going to get more attention, but just like number of members is not a meaningful measure of success in itself, neither is number of readers. Building public opinion does have something to do with the number of eyes and ears we can get a succinct revolutionary message to, but taking full advantage of a cell structure requires the movement to promote and embrace organizational obscurity.
There is a role for more widely read and more prominent online entities, which should in turn inspire more obscure and behind the scenes organizers. The traditional practices of announcing new chapters and describing on the ground organizing strategies are not generally a good idea. While the oppressed nation lumpen may find organization building type work to come with more ease than the petty bourgeoisie, this is still best done in relative obscurity. To the extent that the lumpen are on the periphery of amerikan society, we should use that to our advantage. Roads of outreach that are more closed and specific to the lumpen provide greater security and room for independent growth. There are already enough snitches in our ranks, we do not need to advertise to the cops and the cop-loving amerikan public. The Panthers inspired many lumpen with their audacity. Our challenge is to create the same inspiration without bringing the same attention and repression from the state.
As a cell that spans the country and is not internet only, MIM(Prisons) is unique, facing unique challenges. We support the 2005 MIM Congress cell resolution that stressed the benefits of localized cells that only work with people they know as well as internet cells that are completely anonymous. We are neither of these. We also support the resolution's arguments for why a centralized Party is not an appropriate strategy at this time. But we are clear that democratic centralism is an essential tenant of communist organizing and that a successful revolutionary movement needs the leadership of a Leninist party.
Discussion of other groups
Since we distribute materials from a few different cells in our own work, work with other cells directly and criticize other formations, we want to be a little more accountable about where we stand. The organizations discussed below are not meant to define the MIM at this time. These are merely the organizations that we come across in our day-to-day work that also claim to uphold Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. There are others claiming Maoism that may be doing great work for the movement (or may be revisionist). In many cases that may require that we don't know about their work, in other cases we might just not be paying attention. Either way, this document is not meant to disparage the work of those not discussed here. In addition, there are many groups that we work with, and many others that we are in United Front with through practice, that we do not mention here. Some are mentioned elsewhere on our website. But the point here is not to assess the prison movement, but the Maoist movement. Some not discussed below have contacted us expressing interest in "working together." There is nothing to say over email to such newcomers that is not already on our website.
Notes on the International Communist Movement
In addition to being a part of the u$ prison movement and the Maoist Internationalist Movement, MIM(Prisons) plays an additional role in the International Communist Movement (ICM). The ICM is different from MIM in that it includes, and in fact is dominated by, the Third World. Our focus as an organization is not on resolving issues within the ICM or between the MIM and others in the ICM. As a Maoist organization with a public practice we will be a voice in the ICM. And our practice, both public and not contributes to the advancement of the ICM.
While we are letting people know where we stand, we did want to mention the ICM, which is merely shorthand for the global struggle to end all oppression of groups of people over others. For without such a global perspective, our movement looses our main source of strategic confidence: the Third World. A few points that Maoists are united on include: 1) there is no Maoist (read: communist) party in state power today. 2) parties denying that imperialist nations are exploiters and oppressors are not leading the people towards a communist future, but a future based on the false hope of the theory of productive forces; thoroughly criticized during the Cultural Revolution in China. 3) the idea that there is a third choice in the principal contradiction between oppressed and oppressor nations is petty bourgeois vacillation.
The etext cell did good work in its last few years in exposing the problems within the ICM. Readers should be aware that older documents in the etext archive represent an earlier stage in MIM's international work and so contradict these more recent developments and do not represent that current state of affairs. Other cells continue to do excellent work to push these points as well. We also have great hope for our comrades in the Third World that seem to still be on the Maoist road, and those who have yet to take it up. The internet may skew things to appear that the strongest positions in the ICM are coming from the First World. While the loudest voices claiming Maoism from the Third World are steeped in revisionism, without strong leadership from the Third World there is no ICM to speak of; that is inherent in the global class analysis of Maoism. A genuine ICM led from the First World is a Trotskyist fantasy.
Those Relating to the original MC-cell
Some have made it clear that they see splitting with the cell based around the etext.org website as a dividing line question. MIM(Prisons) still fails to see the line divisions between these groups, which we will address further below. But this does bring up an interesting question of cell structure, fraternal status and revisionism. At some point, harboring revisionism puts a cell in the revisionist camp, and it is the duty of communists to address this. But our disagreements with the critics are with their analysis, or lack thereof.
The online journal, Monkey Smashes Heaven(MSH), says this of MIM in one of their primary documents "In the past year or so, MIM degenerated into a freak-show wrecking-ball organization whose main activity is to discredit Maoism and sabotage revolutionary work." This is about the extent of their analysis of why everyone needed to denounce the cell around etext.org before it was completely destroyed by the oppressors. We complained about this kind of substanceless bad-mouthing in April 2008, but MSH continued with such off-the-cuff "criticisms."
Until recently, the only announcement where they attempt to explain their position was in November 2007, where they refuse to get "into the minutiae." As we are preparing to release this draft of Maoism Around Us, MSH put out a statement on 4/25/2009 that addresses the issue in less flippant language, but still don't get into any details. Well, MIM(Prisons) is compelled to address the few minutiae we can cull from the MSH position in order to defend our own. The main way that MSH is able to cover for its denouncing of etext.org is by tying them to the alleged Art Minister of MIM. This was truly a perplexing ordeal, and it continues to damage us. Some may argue that abandoning the MIM name is important to distance ourselves from the "Art Ministry", who had successfully positioned itself as the primary online entity using the MIM name with etext.org's demise. We favor the counter argument that over 2 decades of history that represent a legacy that all of us are building on should not be handed over to the pigs who have been trying to bad-jacket Maoists as wackos for just as long. With the regrowth of the genuine Maoist movement online, our position that our legacy is too strong to be hijacked like that is proving true. While etext.org once claimed the "Art Ministry" was bringing internet traffic to the MIM site, it is pretty clear to us that on the contrary the Art Ministry blog would have no readership without the MIM legacy in its name.
With recent public documents and one comrade going public as an individual, some of the gaps have been filled and the story alluded to on etext.org over those last tumultuous years has become more real. The problem is that people need to acknowledge the reality of bourgeois repression and meddling without having to out someone. The pigs have gotten exactly what they wanted. They destroyed what was left of the original MC-cell and got at least one underground organizer to come above ground.
Until its demise, etext.org continued to produce theoretically sound material. Even though the majority of the "security" related posts are meaningless to most, the posts that drew general lessons from these experiences were correct, and provide material well worth studying. With the pigs conducting a strong counterintelligence and disinformation campaign it is inevitable that some statements posted at etext.org contained incorrect information about others. MIM never claimed to be right 100% of the time. And in a fight against the state, not all actions are going to make sense to everyone all the time. But the fact that some will raise up a perceived mistake or two over MIM's willingness to engage in scientific analysis and fight state repression head on suggests that these people are not up to the depth of commitment and struggle necessary for revolutionary politics. We cannot explain every statement made on etext.org, nor would we want to share that with the state, but can only look at the big picture and say that the political line stayed good and the security struggle was real.
Back to the so-called "Art Ministry." The "Art Ministry" is allegedly run by a persynality that has had a long history of working with MIM. Therefore, to those paying close attention, it seemed that the "Art Ministry" was officially sanctioned by the MC-cell as was clearly implied at least once on etext.org. However, at no point did etext.org link to the blog or any of the video sites run by the "Art Ministry" or endorse them specifically. The last comments from etext.org on the subject was that others should watch the "Art Ministry" closely. There was a reason the MC's felt they couldn't say anything on the subject and there was implied acknowledgement that what was going on in that self-proclaimed cell was bad.
In response to the November 7, 2007 MSH policy on linking, MIM(Prisons) will no longer link to etext.org as it no longer exists.(2) We now host the most complete archive of the site on our own server which we can link to and encourage others to update their links to. With etext.org's recent demise, we can speak more definitively of it than we can of other cells that are living, evolving organizations. If we had to review the etext.org archive we would say that it is our starting point, that no other collection of writing of comparable size is close to it in correctness, and we have no major splits with the line there, though it certainly evolved over the years (an evolution that represented advances in the line through study and practice).
We will also point out that while MIM(Prisons) still looks to the work of the original Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika as its legacy and theoretical basis, timely questions like relations with other parties should not be transferred to us. We do not have an international ministry. As for fraternal parties in the united $tates, one that always seemed a bit eclectic in its inspirations has allegedly appeared online as an organization deep in mysticism, while still claiming Mao. Another party seems to have degenerated in favor of mass work within lumpen organizations. MIM(Prisons) upholds the MIM-line on not joining mass organizations. (6) We also can point to the New Afrikan Maoist Party (NAMP) as an example of a much more correct approach to deal with the same question of organizing the lumpen that those comrades faced, without liquidating the vanguard party.
It is lamentable that the activities that pushed MIM to a cell structure seemed to destroy most of the work coming out of the party itself. MIM talked about degeneration in its discussions of these struggles, and the apparent lack of follow up by comrades around the MIP-Amerika seems to confirm that. The current generation of MIM in a very different form has already provided great leadership in pushing the movement forward. While our movement is weak, our power comes from our correct political line. And while we are far from the masses for the most part, there is much work to be done at the margins in the imperialist countries, while we work in a United Front with the world's majority who oppose oppression and exploitation.
The crypto-Trotskyists (those claiming Maoism, but putting forth revisionist lines that come from Trotskyist tendencies) have been thoroughly criticized by those at etext.org as well as others who have followed the MIM line. Rather than repeating that analysis we want to comment on the (not so) recent split in the crypto-Trot camp, mainly because in many circles these are the people who represent Maoism in the united $tates. Namely the rcp=u$a and now the kkkasama project (led by former rcper Mike Ely). In many ways, kkkasama project is a natural progression of the liberalism and white nationalism of the rcp=u$a. They still promote Conquer the World, and are working to out do Afakean's populism.
Overall, what we have is kkkasama project taking typical liberal pot-shots at Maoism, while rcp=u$a tries to make its revisionist drivel look good by standing up to them. Kkkasama's attacks on rcp=u$a try to paint it as dogmatic and authoritarian, while the rcp=u$a criticizes the Cultural Revolution with its liberal democratic line popular among RIM affiliated parties. You could argue that at least Kkkasama isn't claiming to be a Maoist vanguard, and is more openly playing the role of Mao sympathizers. But both groups are doing continued damage to a movement that they falsely represent.
It's interesting how quick and thorough rcp=u$a is to reply to their liberal defectors, when after 2 decades they were never able to respond to MIM criticisms in a principled way. Of course it's harder to ignore defectors from your own party. But it's also convenient that the rcp=u$a can appear to be fighting revisionism by battling a liberal foe (though they do claim that the Ely camp is not even fighting for the same thing and might therefore be considered degeneration and not revisionism).
Kkkasama wants to tear down Afakean with identity politics by making some broad generalizations about revolutionary leaders developing their ideas through struggle. While the importance of leaders developing their ideas through struggle is not incorrect, it is also not incorrect for a First World communist with lots of leisure time and access to research material and sparse revolutionary masses nearby to take up the task of studying. Such crude anti-intellectualism has no place in a group claiming to be putting forth the scientific method.
Ely points out in the "Nine Letters to Our Comrades," the rcp=u$a has raised the appreciation of Avakian to cardinal question for those in the united $tates. They take Lenin's theory on leadership to a cultish extreme with a psychological approach that was never intended or useful to the oppressed.
Ely's best criticisms are of the cult of persynality and the crisis analysis. But even these are fairly superficial compared to criticisms being made by Maoists for decades, mainly issues where Ely still agrees with the rcp=u$a.
In classes that MIM(Prisons) leads, comrades study On Contradiction and are asked to develop their own examples to demonstrate that internal contradictions determine the nature of a thing, while external conditions are secondary and can effect the development of those internal contradictions. This is a principal of Dialectical Materialism. Afakean would have answered that question wrong with his New Synthesis that "the class struggle in any particular country was more determined on the international plane than by the unfolding of contradictions within a given country somehow outside of, or divorced from, that context."(3) It would logically follow from this understanding that the rcp=u$a is so caught up on hyping up the next crisis that is gonna bring amerikkkan imperialism toppling down, which Ely is critical of. This stems from a Trotskyist desire for global revolution, led by the imperialist country so-called "working class."
Maoists take a dialectical approach and see that not only did WWI create opportunities for the Bolsheviks, but more importantly, the conditions for revolution evolved because of the unique conditions in Russia as the weak link in the imperialist world. And it was the oppressed classes within Russia and its neighboring states that made the revolution happen. Despite a more globally integrated economy 90 years later, the differences in internal conditions between different countries have only become more extreme.
The rcp=u$a's strong opposition to nationalism of the oppressed nations also follows from their "international" understanding of the world. Why focus on narrow nationalist goals, when imperialism isn't going to fall until there is a global crisis to bring it down? This is also borrowed directly from Trotsky. Today, Maoists continue to look for the weak links in the imperialist system as openings for revolution, rather than beating our head against a brick wall waiting for imperialist crisis when "our people" can become revolutionary - that is the narrow nationalism of amerikans not internationalism.
On religion, Ely tries to play the middle ground liberal. Afakean is wrong for being militantly atheist, and MIM is wrong for supporting radical Islam's jihad against the imperialist invader. "Can't we not be racist and oppose Islam at the same time?" the good liberal asks himself. Nope, rcp=u$a already tried it, and they get more internationalist points for pointing out to Ely that yes, silence is complicity.
Rcp=u$a wants to flirt with MIM Thought to silence the detractors, yet they still muddle the issue. Kkkasama is clear in their attacks on what they see as Afakean's dismissal of the amerikkkan mAsses, thereby completely distancing themselves from the labor aristocracy line. Rcp=u$a brags about refocusing on the oppressed nations and lumpen in recent years; following MIM's practice without the theory to back it up. In "Reinvisioning Communism and Revolution," they refer to so-called "African-Americans" as "wage-slaves." As usual, they can spit populist rhetoric while misapplying terms and hoping to avoid giving critics a clear class analysis to critique.
The most hilarious claim of the article defining the Avakian's "New Synthesis" reads: "Avakian upheld and deepened Lenin's understanding that the division of the world between imperialist powers and oppressed nations had given rise within the imperialist powers to a section of the working class, and an even bigger section of the middle class, that not only benefitted materially from the parasitism and plunder of imperialism, but came to politically identify with their imperialist masters."(3) It was Engels who said that whole nations were being bought off. And it was MIM who quoted Engels and Lenin to refute rcp=u$a white populism for decades. Now they want to take it and twist it into the Trotskyist line that "some workers are bought off" or "some of the imperialist country middle class is bought off," as if there were separate "working" and "middle" classes within the imperialist countries. Come on, can we use terms with real definitions? Can we say who is exploited and who is exploiter? The rcp=u$a avoids it at all costs.
Soon after in that essay the rcp=u$a upholds the need to "listen to criticisms" from "every quarter." Yeah, they listened, and they stayed silent and after a long wait they responded by twisting the critics line to hide their own revisionism. Tell us rcp=u$a, have you taken up the MIM line or not? No honest communist, claiming to be combatting revisionism can put stuff like this out and be silent on the most thorough criticisms made of your organization on this very question.
This whole split and debate is useful to the enemies of Maoism in two ways. On the one hand, it may help the rcp appear to be combatting revisionism and upholding Maoist principles in its replies to kkkasama. (More recently, the government of Nepal has proven to be no more worthy an adversary to rcp=u$a's anti-revisionist campaigning). In some individual statements the rcp criticisms are correct, but their overall orientation is the same old crap. A similar eclectic picking and choosing from Maoism on the part of kkkasama creates another revisionist alternative for the petty bourgeoisie who was never really too hot on the whole dictatorship of the proletariat thing anyway. So Kkkasama mostly helps reinforce the typical anarcho-liberal anti-Maoism. For these reasons, we've probably said more than we should on this "split" already, because the whole thing is nothing but an attack on Maoism. If you haven't yet read the documents behind the discussion in this section, our recommendation is not to bother. Even the article cited below that actually explains what the "New Synthesis" is, is typical rcp=u$a doublespeak: take every position so that you can agree with everyone.
A 4th Stage? - on Thoughts and isms
Now that we've discussed the recent split in the crypto-Trot camp it is logical for us to tackle the question of the stage of development of revolutionary science. Both the above parties and others internationally have used the perceived need for a new stage for the 21st century to leave behind the universal aspects of Maoism, i.e. take the revisionist road, or rather continue down it.
Kkkasama project describes 3 "packages" of MLM that currently exist in the International Communist Movement, yet strangely leave out MIM Thought and Maoism-Third Worldism. This isn't too surprising since rcp=u$a's official line for decades was to ignore MIM Thought and hope no one notices. And since Kkkasama does not agree with MIM's principle differences with the rcp=u$a, they will follow the same path so as not to reveal the revisionist swamp that the ICM is currently sinking in. We take the opposite approach, and believe that by shedding light on the errors of others we can best combat those errors. As Afakeanites argue so strongly in their response to Ely, there is only one truth and it is in the interests of the people.
To ring in the New Year in 2008, a few groups including Monkey Smashes Heaven released "Sunrise in the East," declaring a new stage of revolutionary science they named "Maoism Third Worldism."(5) The Maoist Information Web Site (MIWS) then put out the most complete analysis of the question of a fourth stage of communist theoretical development we've seen in response.(4) We have strong agreement with the work of MIWS, and have distributed their economic works in the past. The main criticism they put forth of the Sunrise statement is that "a new stage of Marxism should not be defined in relation to the counterrevolutionary ideas of fakes, zombies and clowns calling themselves 'Maoists.'" The Sunrise statement says it is "naming a new stage of revolutionary science" in order to get past the debates over "Maoism" dating back to at least the Cultural Revolution. While we can't deny that an arena where contenders include Avakian's "New Synthesis" and "Prachanda Path" is not a very worthy one, we agree with MIWS that this does not denote the emergence of a new stage, but rather an ebb in revolutionary science that must be combated.
The reason we do not see MTW as a new stage of Marxism is that the 8 "breakthroughs" are mostly found in Maoism and completely found in MIM Thought. What these 8 points are is some important dividing lines between Maoism and fake "Maoists." They clearly did not come out of thin air, but from a careful study of the dividing line questions of the day. But as MIWS pointed out, leaving the term "Maoism" as outdated further allows the fakes to lay claim to our revolutionary legacy, as if their ideology even represented a correct "Maoist" line for the last generation.
It is new in the last decade to claim the first point of the MSH statement (that there is no significant exploited population in the First World) is a universal point that communists must agree on. In its early years, MIM only held First World parties to this cardinal principle. We agree with the evolution of the MIM line that this must be upheld by anyone claiming communism anywhere, as it is a well-developed aspect (a principal aspect) of the global class analysis. But a honing of our political economy during the ebb in revolutionary activity does not represent a new stage as such.
The idea that Maoism has entered a new stage because Mao did not uphold the Maoist line of 2009 is also too simplistic.
MIM(Prisons) agrees with the 8 "breakthroughs" of Maoism-Third Worldism (MTW) listed in the Sunrise statement.(5) Those identifying as MTW have made particular contributions on a number of fronts. One is research on China and in particular the Cultural Revolution and the line struggles within the party during it. They have made important connections between the struggle against the Theory of Productive Forces and relating it to a Maoist class analysis. This is the main argument behind the position that the cardinal principle on the labor aristocracy is not something we can let slide in the Third World. To do so opens the door to revisionism after the seizure of state power.
The MTW groups have also done a worthy job of commenting on the International Communist Movement. In particular, we support their criticisms of those claiming Maoism while promoting revisionism. We have distributed some of these documents to answer questions about the struggles in other countries that we have not covered ourselves.
If there is a difference between MIM Thought and MTW, it would be that MTW is national reductionist. However, we must acknowledge that the founders of MTW have a well-documented and worked out class analysis to go along with their analysis of nation (one that comes primarily from MIM Thought). Therefore, we cannot put them in the camp with bourgeois nationalist formations such as the African People's Socialist Party (APSP), which puts nation as primary but then follows the white nationalist class analysis. Such a class analysis would threaten their line of the New Afrikan "proletariat" as the vanguard of the world revolution. MTW comes from a much clearer internationalist position than that. The problem is when comrades at the Maoist Third-Worldist site Monkey Smashes Heaven (MSH) try to deal with gender and just wrap it into nation wholesale. How many strands of oppression does MTW claim exist? MIM Thought claims 3.
In writing about MIM, the main ideological struggle MSH has taken up has been the gender question. We whole-heartedly agree with the MIM gender line and disagree with MSH. Our limited work on gender relations within the prison environment and application of MIM's gender line to other recent political issues demonstrates this position. MSH's gender line accepts some important aspects of MIM Thought, while tossing out the truly new work that MIM did on gender. The idea that gender is a social construct in the first world is less and less a revolutionary position that Maoists need to stress, though we still favor using language that exposes this truth. The MTW groups have taken the important gender battle of the day and pushed it to the forefront. But the MIM gender line predicted the current attacks on the Muslim world via gender a long time ago. Failure to grasp the theory behind these positions will lead to failures in positioning the movement correctly for the next attacks by the imperialists. To accuse MIM of sneaking First Worldism into Maoism via gender is a joke when MIM consistently critiqued white pseudo-feminism for decades and usually stood alone. They use incomplete MIM Thought to attack the coherent theory behind MIM line, and then act as if they have exposed MIM's revisionism.
To be able to criticize homophobia and biological determinism in gender is not revolutionary. Branches of the Democratic Party beat the rcp=u$a in the realm of gay rights. Social democratic Kkkasama project criticizes rcp=u$a homophobia and their lack of transparency and self-criticism with a liberal line on sex. Anarchist-communists supporting the MIM-Sakai line on nation/class picked up this same article uncritically. Unless MSH really wants to throw out gender as a strand of oppression, they leave us with no alternative but this sexual liberalism by denouncing the MIM gender line without replacing it.
MSH says First Worldism is the modern incarnate of revisionism and we agree, but this is nothing new. Trotskyists have been putting forth the First Worldist line of the Theory of Productive Forces since the time Mao was still alive.
Single Nation Parties
MIM(Prisons) upholds the MIM-line on nationalism and single-nation parties.(7) While MIM Thought seemed to rely on the experience of the previous generation as the main evidence of the usefulness of single-nation formations, we believe more recent developments confirm that this is still the case. Though we also have no disagreements with those who focus on cross-national organization, even of the lumpen class where national divisions are much more pronounced. In some ways this approach is superior in promoting a humynism based on the commonalities of the lumpen situation, rather than slipping into pork-chop nationalism that attempts to capture and romanticize a culture of the past based on one's ancestry. For example, Hip Hop culture is a more promising battle ground for the oppressed today than Egyptology or even Kwanzaa.
There are two kinds of nationalism, revolutionary nationalism and reactionary nationalism. Revolutionary nationalism is first dependent upon a people's revolution with the end goal being the people in power. Therefore to be a revolutionary nationalist you would by necessity have to be a socialist. It you are a reactionary nationalist you are not a socialist and your end goal is the oppression of the people.
Cultural nationalism, or pork chop nationalism, as I sometimes call it, is basically a problem of having the wrong political perspective. It seems to be a reaction instead of responding to political oppression. The cultural nationalists are concerned with returning to the old African culture and thereby regaining their identity and freedom. In other words, they feel that the African culture will automatically bring political freedom. Many times cultural nationalists fall into line as reactionary nationalists. — Huey P. Newton, 1968 (8)
There are a number of groups upholding "Pantherism" and "Intercommunalism" that do not claim to be Maoists or even communists of any sort. While MIM(Prisons) sees the Black Panther Party developed by Huey P. Newton as the Maoist vanguard of the united $tates in the late 1960's, the Panther legacy took on such a mass character that Pantherism and Maoism are often not treated as the same thing. The BPP's own former Chief of Staff uses "intercommunalism" as a cover for the Panthers' communist ideology.(9) Meanwhile, the Panther legacy is so strong that people use it to this day as a cover while doing work for the state.
But just as we don't abandon Maoism to the revisionists, we do not leave the Panthers to them either. We uphold the Panther legacy and learn from their lessons. Two other organizations that we have distributed materials from and worked with also explicitly claim the Panther legacy while claiming Maoism. They are the New Afrikan Maoist Party (NAMP) and the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (NABPP), the latter we maintain to be revisionist. The MIM has had a long-standing policy of not working with revisionist organizations so as not to confuse the people. This is not a universal principal, but one that the party correctly applied for decades. In most cases we have also taken on this practice, but have made an exception with the NABPP who has had a long history of work with MIM. The nature of this work has been in the interests of u$ prisoners, fighting against abuses such as torture, censorship and ongoing COINTELPRO campaigns by the state.
It is to our dismay that the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (NABPP) has developed the political line that it has, despite some members having had a long history of exposure to MIM line. Regardless, we have continued to work with their members on specific projects and even distributed particular writings. When doing so we have specified our disagreements with NABPP. We continue to see this practice as correct in the interests of the oppressed. [For the record, there is no validity to rumors that created bad feelings between some close to the NABPP and the MIM. All we can say on that is emails can be forged just as easy as letters.]
The NABPP, formerly known as the New Black Panther Party - Prison Chapter, evolved from within u$ prisons and continues to have a significant overlap with our own work. Therefore it is of great importance that comrades understand the differences between us, even if we can admit that the NABPP has done some good work. A while back there was a discussion of publishing the debates between NABPP and those in the MIM camp. Until that happens, this will have to serve as the best public documentation of those differences.
Actually, there is not much in the debate that has not already been addressed by MIM in its debates with other Trotskyist and crypto-Trotskyist groups. The NABPP calls for working class unity within the united $tates and refers to the New Afrikan nation as an almost wholly "proletarian slave nation." (see ULK 8 for MIM(Prisons)'s analysis of prison labor) They decry outsourcing for reducing the ranks of the labor aristocracy in the united $tates, claim that people wouldn't be employed if they weren't being exploited and deny the history of white nationalism spelled out in J. Sakai's Settlers: the Mythology of the White Proletariat.
In the debates with NABPP, comrades in the New Afrikan Collectivist Association, a precursor to the New Afrikan Maoist Party (NAMP), criticized NABPP on its line on the New Afrikan proletariat as well as its line on a Pan-Afrikan nation. The latter question which NABPP addresses theoretically has been taken on in practice by the African People's Socialist Party (APSP), whom our comrades have also allied with in the past. (The APSP does not claim Maoism but does claim the legacy of the late BPP.) In recent years they have combined their line that Africans (including New Afrikans in the united $tates) are the vanguard of the revolution with an apparent inability to build mass support for revolution within u$ borders to come to a position of forming the African Socialist International, being led by the APSP. We see this as being much closer to the rcp=u$a's Trotskyism in building the u$-based Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, than to Pan-Afrikanism, and caution our revolutionary comrades in the Third World to be wary of any such First World-led organizations. In the earliest history of Pan-Afrikanism, the different conditions faced by New Afrikans compared to most of Africa were quickly realized by many, resulting in separate efforts. And as stated above, a correct global class analysis would lead one to conclude that there is no need for First World leadership to create a revolutionary pole in an international arena.
Internationalism will come in many forms among the internal semi-colonies. Those with links to the Third World will tend to develop special relations along those lines. But any group based in the imperialist countries that is attempting to build internationalist ties on the basis of mutual class interests is falling into Trotskyism. NAMP's line that the New Afrikan nation is primarily a petty bourgeois nation, and that they do not form chapters in the Third World in respect of local comrades who can do a much better analysis of their conditions are key positions for any First World based communist organization or party.
NAMP sees single-nation party organizing as a logical high-priority given the principal contradiction as being between the oppressed nations and imperialism. MIM(Prisons) does not see this as a dividing line question, but would encourage all to take seriously the considerations put forth in the 2005 MIM cell resolution, particularly in reference to maintaining the security and longevity of the movement as a whole. Last we heard, NAMP was holding its first congress to tighten up its line and practice, so we have not seen any recent theoretical works. But we look forward to the outcome of that congress, and continue to be encouraged by developments within the New Afrikan Liberation Movement.
While we do not have a list of fraternal organizations to publish at this time, this paper should give a good outline on where we stand, particularly in relation to those that we work with. If you see us distributing materials by a self-proclaimed Maoist group or working with them in any other way, you can assume that we see them as part of the MIM unless we explicitly state otherwise.
(1) MIM. Resolutions on Cell Structure. MIM Congress 2005, Session II.
(2) MSH. Policy on linking Maoist groupings and Etext. November 7, 2007.
(3) Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: What is Bob Avakian's New Synthesis. Part III.
(4) MIWS. On whether there is a fourth stage of Marxism. March 2008.
(5) MSH. Sunrise in the East. January 1, 2008.
(6) see Pitfalls of Single Issue Organizing by MC5 and MC17 in What is MIM? or on our website in the etext archive FAQ.
(7) see MIM Theory 7: Proletarian Feminist Revolutionary Nationalism
(8) Foner, Philip S. The Black Panthers Speak. Huey Newton Talks to the Movement... p. 50.
(9) while we do not address all of the new "Panther" groups here you can read an article on the prominent NOI-linked "New Black Panther Party" and an interview on former BPP Chief of Staff David Hilliard's work in our archive of the etext.org website:
- Documents Reveal Imperialist Spies' Online Attacks on Activists
- Response to Turning the Tide's Misrepresentation of MIM
- Henry Park Obituary: MIM Comrade and Devoted Revolutionary
- All eyes on Us for Black August
- Revisiting RCP Revisionism
- MIM(Prisons) Pwned by Sexual Liberalism?
- Building a Vanguard in Prison
- Review: Monkey Smashes Heaven 1 & 2
- On Cardinal Principles