MIM Line on Labor Aristocracy: Liberating Truth or Depressing Reality?
As the launch of a new Maoist Internationalist Movement newsletter was scheduled to occur in the next week or so, we are addressing in part the events of the last 6 weeks that have delayed this project indefinitely. There were a series of splits, degenerations and internal struggles within our movement that came to a head last month. We are still assessing where things will fall, as we work to keep the prison ministry projects operating.
On 10 December 2019, remaining members of the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement announced, “After nearly 13 years of existence, the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM) is no more. Contradicting lines and practical inadequacies have been allowed to fester to the point of intractability, resulting in several splits and the widespread abandonment of our organization.”(1)
RAIM was our primary partner in the planned newsletter. There have been promises of more thorough assessments of RAIM’s history and shortcomings, but the most detailed commentary right now is at the link in the notes below. One of the key things it highlights is the challenges of revolutionary organizations to engage in the practice that allows us to learn from and bind ourselves to the masses in real struggle while in a non-revolutionary situation. There is a challenge in distinguishing ourselves in action, not just words, from the countless non-profits, non-governmental organizations, liberal reform groups and other bourgeois institutions misdirecting energy and resources from the struggles of oppressed people in this country.
The announcement from RAIM was followed shortly by the sudden resignation by a cadre member of MIM(Prisons). This loss seems to echo some experiences coming out of the RAIM camp, and this article is an attempt to analyze it in terms of phenomena that stem from our conditions in particular and that we must try to combat.
In contrast to some other struggles that had happened within MIM(Prisons) and within RAIM, this comrade who left MIM(Prisons) said ey had no political disagreements and therefore there was nothing to discuss or struggle over. In eir resignation ey stated, “I’ve come around to the belief that the humyn race is likely doomed at its own hand.” Ey went on to say, “I don’t see a better political line out there, instead I see a problem with me and my First World conditions. I’m no longer able to rally the energy to continue contributing.”
For some of us, this is a hard position to understand. For some of us there is no life free of despair outside of a committed struggle for a world without oppression. However, we must understand that we live in a predominately petty bourgeois country, and what the class interests of that class is, and what its political outlook is. Only then can we understand and combat these types of conclusions.
On the one hand, it was mostly true that this comrade did not see a better political line. In fact, until eir last days with us ey was upholding that line in practice, even challenging others who were wavering in their own belief that Maoist organizing, in the form it took within our movement anyway, was the best way to struggle against oppression.
However, it was just a few weeks prior when i was editing an article this comrade had written reviewing the recent Terminator movie. In it ey had commented on capitalism marching towards the annihilation of nature and humyn life. I argued we should change the clause to “annihilation of the current balance of life on Earth that humyns depend on.” The “annihilation of nature” is such an absolute concept that i’m not sure humyns could be capable of such a thing if they tried. Even the elimination of humyn life is an extreme outcome.
This seemingly subtle change hints at an underlying line struggle that emerged as em leaving the movement completely because ey thought “the humyn race is likely doomed at its own hand.” This type of apocalyptic outlook is unfortunately common in our petty bourgeois culture. The petty bourgeoisie is a class whose purpose is based in consumption, leading to a different type of alienation than what Marx talked about (one that leads towards nihilism). And this is a truly First World problem that we should take seriously.
Whether it’s lifelong communists retreating to the comforts of a consumer life built on the exploitation of the Third World, or imperialist warhawks attempting to literally initiate a biblical rapture, First World nihilism is a threat to humyn life. Whether it will kill off all of the humyn race aside, we sure know it kills a lot of us, and it is happening every day as long as imperialism stays in place.
There are two main forms of political degeneration that we see. There are those that abandon attempts at change to take up a bourgeois position as this comrade did. Then there are those who sneak bourgeois politics into their practice. The more obvious examples of the latter are comrades leaving to join single-issue reformist groups. The more insidious are those who take up a revisionist, or non-revolutionary line that hides in Maoist clothing. Really there is only one form of political degeneration: it is the abandoning of proletarian politics for bourgeois politics in one form or another.
The fact that this comrade, who had served the people and upheld the proletarian line against attacks for so long, did not see eir decision as a disagreement in political line makes no sense. The MIM line is very clear that our strategic confidence comes from the 80% of the world’s people who have a material interest predominately opposed to imperialism. Mao Zedong said that the imperialists were paper tigers, and proved in practice what that meant; that they are dangerous on the surface, but will collapse in the face of organized peoples’ power. So clearly the comrade had disagreements with Maoist political line.
Apparently this comrade felt ey had made up eir mind and didn’t want to engage in struggle anymore. This reminds me of the many times people have told me they don’t listen to the news anymore because it just makes them depressed. And sure, I can relate to getting upset at times at things that I hear on the news. But most often I listen to the news with an open mind to understanding the world around me, the good and the bad. To stick one’s head in the sand is easier than looking for answers. But if you are just getting depressed every time you listen to the news, it is because you are not engaged in the process of transforming our reality and/or you think humynity is doomed and there are no answers to the massive problems we are facing. To believe there are no answers is metaphysical thinking – ideas that things just are the way they are, or maybe even that humyn nature is just bad. This is religious/idealist thinking. And it is strange to come from a comrade who spent many years railing against religious and idealist thinking and advocating Maoism based in a historical materialist analysis of history.
Knowing what this comrade knew, the lie ey told, perhaps to emself, about not disagreeing with us politically, can only be explained as an excuse to do what this persyn subjectively wanted to do. If ey was being honest with us ey might have said something like “i feel that my life will be happier, more fulfilling, more rewarding by abandoning the struggle against oppression and imperialism.” And i know what you’re thinking, what kind of sick mind could think that? Well, we are surrounded by sick minds, present company included. Here in the belly of the beast, to seek out and uphold a proletarian position takes real effort and fortitude. It is going against all we are taught. And that is why this struggle to transform society is dialectically a struggle to transform ourselves. All the self-help books and therapy sessions cannot transform us into the new socialist humyns we are striving to be. Only revolution can transform us to the point that we have eliminated this sickness.
Well, you say, aren’t we in the First World hopeless then, because revolution is so far off? For one, revolutions happen quickly. It is true that our movement has been saying for decades that we do not live in revolutionary conditions. But that could change in a matter of months. And for the oppressed, crisis is opportunity, not the individualist, nihilist fantasy of the zombie apocalypse or the end of humynity that the petty bourgeois culture prophesizes.
Secondly, we do not have to achieve a stateless communist utopia to begin to transform ourselves. In fact, we transform every day. It is up to us whether we are training our brains to become more responsive to capitalist advertising and consumption or training ourselves to better embody the proletarian line and morality that leads us to struggle every day. That struggle defines us. And it impacts those around us. And together we lay the groundwork for a better tomorrow. Tomorrow can be better, a step in the right direction, or not. It is in the act of making revolution that we can cure the disease that has infested all our minds, and the system that requires unnecessary death and suffering to grease its wheels.
The recent events have created a significant shake up in our plans. These were long-term plans that were closely reaching their due date. Needless to say the setbacks have brought temporary disappointment and discouragement. At the same time we have been striving for a new path, and this shake up can help us get there.
We have already begun to transform our reality in recent weeks as we develop relationships with a number of new comrades. Even here, in the heart of empire, we know the number of potential comrades out there vastly outnumber what we have managed to unite to date. And we know it is our responsibility to be effective at what we do, to inspire the masses to join our movement. It will take us some more months to get back up to speed. And we don’t foresee any newsletter coming out before that. But we are rebuilding. And we invite you to join us.