NAMP response to MIM(Prisons) criticism
Resolution on Criticisms of NAMP's Line Related to UFD
This resolution is being passed by Our Party to publicly announce what Our line is on a few questions raised by MIM(Prisons) and members of their study group, and to address their criticisms on what they think Our line is. We challenge MIM(Prisons) to print this resolution in their Under Lock & Key newsletter to let the people decide for themselves what Our line really is, instead of blasting Us in a one-sided debate.
UFD is an outgrowth of various affiliated mass organizations Our Party has attempted to jump start. Initially, UFD was a subdivision of the New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty, as one will learn from reading the original edition of Blueprint for Ujamaa Dynasty. Since MIM(Prisons) abruptly withdrew their financial and administrative support of Our efforts to jump start UFD as a mass organization, the revised edition of Blueprint for Ujamaa Dynasty was unable to be completed on schedule. So, the public isn't aware that the New Afrikan Ujamaa Dynasty has been absorbed by UFD, which now stands for the Ujamaa Fraternal Dynasty. UFD is now a New Afrikan nationalist fraternity and the vanguard of the Movement for Ujamaa Dynasty, and it's divided into a General Nduguship (primarily for progressive elements of the New Afrikan petty bourgeoisie) and a Field Division (primarily for ex-lumpens who haven't necessarily reached a revolutionary phase in their political development, but have given up their criminal lifestyle).
"Without revolutionary practice, revolutionary theory means shit!" Our Party hasn't liquidated itself at all into UFD, nor have We watered down Our politics. We are Maoists. But We are New Afrikan Maoists. And We uphold the three cardinal questions of MIM(Prisons) [editor's note: NAMP was not aware of MIM(Prisons)'s new cardinal points adopted around the same time as this resolution], going so far as to recognizing that the New Afrikan worker is a labor aristocracy and that most New Afrikans, including the lumpen, are bourgeois. No, Our class analysis hasn't changed either. So, what's all this criticism about over Our line? Well, part of it is Our fault for not being very clear Ourselves to articulate what amounts to a new strategic positioning. We admit, We knew where We wanted to go but didn't really know how to get there. The vision was clear but painting it was murky. We wanted to remain true to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, but the context We are operating in isn't compatible to what We know to be true. We can't force square pegs into round holes. Revolutionaries must make revolution, but We must do so within concrete, objective reality.
Marx provided Us with the theoretical foundation, but he didn't bring about revolution. Does this mean his theoretical work wasn't correct? Absolutely not. He advanced human knowledge in relations to Our theoretical understanding of the development of things, including human history in Our struggle for economic, social, and political freedom. Lenin came along and applied Marxism to formulate even more advanced revolutionary theory according to the concrete conditions he was faced with. So too did Mao. But each were in a unique position. They had Marxism and the lessons of failed revolutionary struggles to work from. And they grew to political maturity during a revolutionary period within their respective countries. So, the concrete conditions gave their theory basis to advance the concrete revolutionary struggle of the time to socialist victory.
What are the concrete conditions We are faced with? There's no question We have available to Us the most advanced theory of revolution paid for in the blood and failure of many hundreds of thousands of Marxist revolutionaries. Our problem is that imperialism is winning worldwide not only in terms of economic and political dominance, but also in the conversation of what is and what is not a valid economic and political paradigm. Currently, Islamic Fundamentalism, in all its warped ideas and distortions is, nevertheless, doing more against imperialism than the Maoist camp worldwide. To that extent, We applaud Islamic Fundamentalists for fighting the imperialist snake that cloaks itself in the rhetoric of democracy and freedom. But We prefer Marxism.
Yet the concrete conditions We face as New Afrikan Maoists in imperialist America — indeed, as Maoists period — gives Our theory very little basis to advance the concrete revolutionary struggle of the proletarian camp. We are surrounded by enemies. Even the lumpen, as MIM(Prisons) admits, are parasites. But they argue that the lumpen "benefit less from imperialism, and more importantly face extreme oppression under imperialism." Well, they would be repressed under socialism too if they refused to give up their criminal ways. Lumpens are outlaws antagonistic to any system. Granted, imperialism is less amicable to reforming the lumpen than socialism would be. Under socialism, the lumpen would be given greater opportunities to reform themselves. But We're not living under socialism but imperialism, so lumpenism, like bourgeois subjectivism among the petty bourgeoisie, will be a great impediment to advancing Maoism in this country. With the lumpen, however, lumpenism plus bourgeois subjectivism are a double wammy.
MIM(Prisons) and its study group members aren't seeing the forest through the trees. Taken as a whole, We must conclude that the lumpen is not only more reactionary than the petty bourgeoisie but are manifestly less able to contribute to concrete revolutionary struggle against real oppression. For one, they're either locked down or under some form of law enforcement supervisions. Most are under-educated and lack discipline, and the prison system under imperialism isn't conducive to their rehabilitation, much less their politicization. This is why 7 out of 10 lumpens released from prison come back, and that not one who is released, in Our experience, stays active in revolutionary work or can be effective doing so. The imperialists are too powerful, and We're trying to fight them through propaganda and theoretical work. Are We serious?!
No, this is NOT to say We can't win against them nor that all lumpens are worthless. Firstly, Our Party was founded by ex-lumpens who MIM helped reach political maturity. Secondly, no enemy is undefeatable when you have the power of truth on your side. But having truth on your side won't guarantee people will recognize it just because you say so.
MIM(Prisons) and its study group members are caught up in ultra-leftism of another brand. Wake up and smell the coffee. This isn't 1917 nor 1949 in underdeveloped countries with weak capitalist governments. This is 2010 and capitalism has reached its highest stage of imperialism, which has strong imperialist governments worldwide. We better do as Lenin and Mao, both of whom were sharply criticized for moving away from what was considered the 'right doctrine' by developing new, practical approaches to apply revolutionary theory to their unique circumstances.
One thing MIM(Prisons) ignores about New Afrikans is that 1) We are an oppressed domestic colony of the United States, and 2) Our benefit from the super-profits flowing into this country is incidental to Our domestic neo-colonial status (the operative word being "domestic"). Just being in this country gives Us incidental access to its stolen wealth. MIM(Prisons) acts like the Catholic Church which tries to make people feel guilty about being human with sexual urges. This may not be the best analogy, but the point is that MIM(Prisons) makes it seem like everything is gravy between white Americans and New Afrikans. This smacks of the mainstream conservative argument that race doesn't matter anymore or isn't such a big deal like before. See, this is an ultra-leftist position trying to fit the square peg of the New Afrikan labor aristocracy into the round hole of the white labor aristocracy. Because MIM(Prisons), in its dogmatic adherence to the now defunct MIM's line on the labor aristocracy as straight up enemies of the international proletariat, can't strategically cope with an oppressed New Afrikan labor aristocracy vis-a-vis a dominant white labor aristocracy. It's easier for MIM(Prisons), the only active Maoist cell We know of coming out of MIM, and which only concerns itself with the prison movement, to write off any possible struggle to mobilize the New Afrikan petty bourgeoisie against U.S. imperialism.
It's really sad MIM(Prisons) would so shamelessly distort the fact that New Afrikan people in this country, from lumpen to national bourgeoisie, as a whole still must contend with white supremacy and racist discrimination, both institutionally and blatantly. Everything from housing, employment, health care, government assistance, mental health, incarceration, education, sports, entertainment, etc. New Afrikan people face white supremacist/ racial discriminatory factors. And We know this. Call this identity politics, if you like, but racism is still very real in this country and will lead, during an economic and political breakdown, to full blown fascism. Just look how Muslims and migrant workers are treated.
We never said the New Afrikan petty bourgeoisie is a revolutionary class within the context of socialist revolution — We're not too sure We can say the lumpen is. What We did say, and repeat here publicly and clearly, We hold the New Afrikan petty bourgeoisie to be the most revolutionary class within the context of the bourgeois nationalist phase of the New Afrikan revolution. And We think this bourgeois nationalist phase strategically will heighten the contradiction between white America and New Afrikans while negating Our bourgeoisification.
Let's be real here. New Afrikans as a whole, due to white supremacy and racist discrimination manifested in neo-colonial practices, are locked out of major control over their own economic wealth by white America — albeit a part of super-profits. The point is, there's no way for white America to increase the New Afrikan share of the "pie" without weakening their own economic and political hegemony. There can be no increased super-exploitation of the Third World to "include" New Afrikans fully into the labor aristocracy elite. For one, other imperialist countries won't allow it. And two, the Third World would hate America more. The inevitable consequence of any New Afrikan bourgeois nationalist revolution would be 1) the heightening of the contradiction between white America and New Afrikans (clearly this is in accord with the principal contradiction in the world today being between oppressor and oppressed nations, unless MIM(Prisons) can conclusively prove how New Afrikans are no longer an oppressed nationality); 2) negate the bourgeoisification of New Afrikans as they become more radicalized as a whole; and 3) give Our Party the concrete basis to advance Our revolutionary line among a more receptive, radicalized nation of New Afrikan people.
We want to make revolution, not sit around doing propaganda and theoretical work until somehow a revolutionary period suddenly occurs. We must realize the imperialists apply their own science in theory and in practice to prevent revolutionary crises and maintain their dominance. We can't counter this through propaganda and theoretical work alone. We must figure out concrete, practical ways to heighten the principal contradiction. In this day and age, the role of the vanguard isn't just to thrash out line questions, do political agitation, and develop cadres, because We're not faced with the same concrete conditions Lenin and Mao, even Marx, were faced with that justified and enhanced their need to do this type of work. Right now We're preaching to the choir. This isn't about pragmatism, right opportunism, nor revisionism. This is about making revolution and not allowing Our bigger enemy to keep dictating the terms of Our fight.
In conclusion, Our Party hasn't forgotten our duty. MIM(Prisons) and its study group members should refrain from ad hominem arguments and demagoguery, and trying to pigeonhole Us by misrepresenting Our position on the questions We've addressed. Our support of UFD has nothing to do with any bourgeois subjectivism. The size of Our cadre or the resources available to Us is only part of the equation. The biggest is whether We can do something like what We're doing with UFD to advance both the concrete and theoretical revolutionary struggle of New Afrikan Maoism without losing Our way. We see no manifest danger that Our Party will degenerate into revisionism, right opportunism, or pragmatism. UFD isn't under Our Party leadership, so We're very much able to promote Our line and to criticize UFD if it deviates from the path of challenging U.S. imperialism via New Afrikan bourgeois nationalist revolution without "scaring" people from it.
And so that it is clear, We encourage Our cadre to join the ranks of UFD on its terms, not to secretly radicalize it. Again, We support its aim and purpose to the extent it challenges U.S. imperialism and can more effectively build independent institutions that serve the oppressed. Being that membership in Our Party is anonymous for security reasons, We see very little conflict in Our cadre joining the ranks of UFD. This is a strategic question, not a line question. There are practical benefits to Our cadre joining UFD as there are in them getting a job working for a bourgeois business. Besides being devoted to advocating New Afrikan nationalism and struggling against gang violence, drugs, sexism, criminality, poor education, unfair criminal justice practices, lack of prison reform, etc., UFD is devoted to building a financial and business network by which 1) business minded members of UFD can receive financial, technical, and marketing support from every other member of UFD who benefit from their investments; and 2) these businesses and investors can partner up, using their collective leveraging power to set up larger, corporate ventures on a distributive and productive scale to compete for hundreds of billions of dollars. Our cadre who are members of UFD will benefit from UFD's economic success, thereby allowing them to contribute more to the work of Our full-time Party workers. Everyone in Our Party has a purpose, and WE all can fulfill Our vanguard role, too.
For the record, We support MIM(Prisons)'s work and believe We were wrong to expect them to neglect their work to support Our strategy. That was right opportunism. And We no longer seek their aid in anything other than debating with Us publicly and privately to help Us further thrash out Our own line. We must develop Our own self-sufficiency, which We are slowly doing. MIM(Prisons)'s withdrawal of their support wasn't necessarily a set back, but rather a needed lesson. You can't hold a child's hand forever and expect them to blossom on their own. We owe MIM(Prisons) much and publicly pledge to repay them. And We encourage Our incarcerated cadre and supporters to participate in MIM(Prisons)'s study groups.
Let this not be Our final word on the matters discussed herein. We invite further criticisms, questions, comments and suggestions. But let Us all be objective here.
NAMP Central Committee
MIM(Prisons) responds: We welcome the response from NAMP on our criticisms, as we don't like one-sided debates either. As we pointed out, we had no official documents from NAMP to refer to in regard to their political line as it has developed in recent years. The fact that this is the first public document we've seen from NAMP in years we'll leave as evidence of our position that NAMP liquidated the vanguard to develop a petty bourgeois mass organization.
For the most part, this response substantiates the points made in our original self-criticism. While accepting the labor aristocracy thesis, NAMP attacks the lumpen from a petty bourgeois position, then turns around and supports outright organizing on behalf of the economic interests of an exploiter nation. Organizing New Afrika around economic nationalism certainly offers historical advantages to organizing a European nation against U.$. imperialism, as MIM opposed in their opening piece in MIM Theory 14: United Front. Still, we would rather organize New Afrika as an oppressed nation around issues of oppression that are very real, life and death questions for the New Afrikan lumpen, or those facing even worse conditions in Africa.
In their discussion of racism, NAMP argues vehemently that the New Afrikan nation has interests opposed to imperialism because it is oppressed. Yet, when it comes to the lumpen, NAMP gives us the tautology that could be summarized as, "the lumpen can't be effective revolutionaries because they face oppression" such as high recidivism rates, poor educational opportunities, state supervision and prison. Of course, that very oppression is behind our position that the lumpen are potential allies of the proletariat.
To better demonstrate our differences, let's first understand what the lumpen class is. They are an excess population, something that Marx said was unique to the capitalist mode of production. They have no role to play in reproducing society; they are forbidden from playing a productive role in society. To talk about the lumpen as being criminal-minded first, rather than recognizing the origins of their class and therefore their class consciousness is backwards. The lumpen were not born as anti-social individuals, they were attacked first, usually because of national oppression from the white power structure. They turn around and fight the system in self-defense. So it's not just that the lumpen will be given more opportunities under socialism, the lumpen will cease to exist once the mode of production changes to meet humyn need. Those individuals who refuse to reform of course will be repressed.
We agree that the lumpen are bourgeoisified in the United $tates, just like everyone else is. And in China it was the lumpen who were often the hardest to reform, because their whole attitude is based on blatant parasitism — getting something for nothing. It is important to note that the lumpen in imperialist countries are not the same as the lumpen Marx, Lenin and Mao talked about. We can't just mechanically apply definitions about the lumpen, just like we can't mechanically assume that the workers in imperialist countries are the same proletariat they were back in Marx's day. For Marx, the lumpen were living among the proletariat, but were not of the proletariat class. That led to a different consciousness that made them tough allies, and they were a small minority. In the U$ we're talking about whole communities, ghettos, that are lumpen/petty bourgeois. There is a group consciousness there that is tied to national oppression. In imperialist countries there are many other attitudes among the lumpen in addition to parasitism, most importantly among the oppressed nations, that differentiate them from the petty bourgeoisie in progressive ways. We disagree with NAMP's assertion that lumpenism compounds bourgeois subjectivism, and say that in imperialist countries it actually plays a role in combating it.
One result of their exclusion and oppression is that the lumpen exists on the periphery of bourgeois society. It is on the periphery where there is room to move. We see advantages in freedom and security among the lumpen that don't exist among the petty bourgeoisie. Yes, prisoners are under extreme state control, limiting their ability to organize. But so are the proletariat of the Third World. In fact, this argument from NAMP is nothing new. "The oppressed are too uneducated and face too much repression to rise up in arms," has been the petty bourgeois line since Marx's day.
The strength of the state, in a country where spies far outnumber communists, is a daunting barrier that we acknowledge as much as anyone. But the Amerikkkan prison system has laid the ground work for building schools for developing revolutionary theory. The intelligentsia among the lumpen, which is concentrated behind steel and concrete, is one unique aspect of the lumpen in the United $tates that is in our favor. It is this group that is the basis of MIM(Prisons)'s existence and work.
It is curious that NAMP claims we ignore that New Afrikans are an oppressed domestic colony, as we have always pushed that line regarding all internal semi-colonies to the point of being accused of racism by many white prisoners. We counter NAMP's economic organizing strategy, with a strategy of organizing against oppression. On their second point in that paragraph we do think there is a difference in positions. In our minds it is highly debatable to claim that New Afrikans benefit from super-profits only incidentally to their oppression. Our general line is that integration was about 50% successful since the time of the Black Power movement. We hope to refine this analysis in future publications and welcome any contributions to this research from NAMP. We recognize the neo-colonial significance of Barack Obama to New Afrikans, and criticized those who thought this was somehow changing things for oppressed people inside or outside the United $tates.
We have never argued that the New Afrikan petty bourgeoisie cannot be an ally in the anti-imperialist struggle, and here we challenge NAMP for misrepresenting our line. We do make two criticisms of them on this issue, one is regarding what points we should organize New Afrikans around, and the second is the relationship of the proletarian vanguard to other classes in the New Afrikan nationalist movement. NAMP's mistakes lie in organizing the petty bourgeoisie in an imperialist country around their economic interests, and doing so in the name of a supposed proletarian party, or its mass organization.
NAMP praises the anti-imperialism of the national bourgeoisie in the Muslim world, but would do well to compare the situation here to there. New Afrika has no land, nor natural resources, nor influence over currency markets. And despite having over 1 million citizens who are legally slaves, there is little exploitation of New Afrika to fight over. In other words, economically speaking, New Afrika has little to lose and much to gain from imperialism. Imperialism provides the petty bourgeoisie in the United $tates with their current income levels and living standards far above most of the world. We fail to see any bubbling of a revolutionary situation there. And certainly, if there was, it would not be based on economism, but on questions like voting rights, state repression and mass imprisonment.
In the original self-criticism we clarified our position on New Democracy for the internal semi-colonies. When NAMP actually addresses the question of New Afrika as an exploiter nation, the crux of their argument in favor of organizing the petty bourgeoisie is that the United $tates cannot buy off New Afrikans. As was demonstrated in our Case Study on the U.$. Housing Market Decline, more than half of New Afrikans are already bought off (at least materially speaking) with super-profits. What NAMP needs to address to be consistent is how New Afrika went from proletarian to petty bourgeois in recent generations, and their line that now it is impossible for the economic gap between New Afrikan and white Amerika to be closed.
If we assume for a minute that NAMP's economics are correct though, then we ask what application of United Front theory calls for the abandonment of proletarian politics to organize other classes? NAMP wants to claim that they still exist as a vanguard upholding Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and that there is no danger of revisionism in their strategy. They propose that it is okay to secretly join mass organizations and hide one's politics. Yet for all their stress on the importance of practice, where is NAMP's practice as a vanguard? Where is NAMP's practice independent of their organizing of the petty bourgeoisie to build economic independence? How is this not liquidationism?
NAMP's "we're preaching to the choir" line is typical of liquidationists and those who put numbers in command. They think we need to reach as many people as we can and get them on the streets first, then we can work out the details of what it is that we're doing. Reaching new people is great, but as MIM often said, "Revolutionary practice without the right theory is worse than shit." It should be clear to anyone reading this debate that not even the choir is clearly on the side of the preacher in either of our cases and there is much ideological struggle and development to be done before there will be any question of making revolution in the United $tates.