Dear MIM and all my brothers and sisters bonded by the ink of our pens. We must continue to fight for United Struggle from Within.
I have just initiated my discovery phase in my civil suit against the Warden on this plantation and its incompetent medical staff. I'm located at a level 5 security here in Georgia and as I read ULK I see that we are all faced with this new and improved SHU system. Same game, different name.
I'm on the Tier 2 program, a step down program which is a 260-day program, and I've been here 13 months today because I was caught with 2 cell phones. I've experienced medical neglect, deliberate indifference and cruel and unusual punishment for being caught with contraband.
I encourage the use of the grievance system but we all know it is worthless. Every grievance is denied without due investigation. I personally started a petition against the grievance system here for the inmates in SHU/Tier 2 which I've sent to MIM(Prisons) and joined the grievance campaign in my state.
I wrote this for exposure and to encourage all the readers here in Georgia to petition against your grievance system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We now have a grievance petition for the state of Georgia, thanks to this comrade's work. Write to MIM(Prisons) for a copy of this petition to demand your grievances are addressed in Georgia.
I'm currently in a lockdown unit in Georgia called Special Management Unit (SMU). It's a separate building outside the diagnostic prison in Jackson, GA. The conditions at the SMU are like the control units in other states. The E-wing is a 24-hour lockdown unit. You have to stay on this wing at least 90 days. We never come out of the cells for anything on this wing. No yard call or recreation and we have shower heads in the walls.
Most cells here at the SMU are very dirty and have mold growing on the walls from the condensation that builds up in the closed-in area while showering. The cells never get cleaned out and they don't give us bleach or any cleaning rags to wipe the walls and toilet down. They expect us to use what we wash with I guess.
We have no kitchen here so the food comes from across the street; trays are always cold and usually really small. We only eat twice on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We are not allowed books in E-wing or our personal property. We also don't have library or any aids to help on legal work. All we have is a guy from across the street who will bring us two cases a week, which really limits the access we have and is not much help.
They are not acknowledging the grievances about the yard call and the unsanitary living conditions, and I've never even received a receipt back. We have been trying to file a class action suit but no one will represent us or take the case, and no one here will assist us. It's hard time that should be against the law.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We have heard a lot lately from Georgia comrades in various control units like this SMU. And this has inspired some work on the Georgia grievance campagn to demand our grievances be addressed. We build campaigns like this one to expose the conditions behind bars and provide tools for prisoners to fight for improvements in conditions. But we know that even if we win some small improvements, the criminal injustice system will remain as a tool for social control. Grievances alone will not fundamentally alter this system. Our job is to educate and organize, to build a broader anti-imperialist movement that can take on the Amerikan system that needs prisons for social control. We are organizing those the imperialists wants to control.
I want to speak up about the Security Threat Group (STG) program in the Georgia prison system. They claim it's for gang members and people who pose a great risk to the system. Their validations are done based on hate and color and where you are from. The people in charge are validating prisoners who pose no threat to the system.
There is a group of prisoners in the Georgia prison system called the Goodfellas. They have their way of living just like any other brotherhood. But they're from the Atlanta area and the prison officials hate them and label them a security threat to the prison. Every other group can come to the Tier 2 program and go back to the main compound after doing 9 months in a cell. But these brothers who are Goodfellas can't get out and are forced to repeat these Tier 2 programs even after they have completed the program.
These young brothers are under great stress. They have been on lockdown for over 4 years with some going on 5 years. It's unfair and the prison will label anybody to keep them locked down.
Free all Goodfellas! Stop the madness and bigotry in the state of Georgia!
MIM(Prisons) adds: We've heard from others in Georgia about this arbitrary labeling of prisoners as Goodfellas and the use of the tier 2 program for long term punishment and isolation. It is worth pointing out that in the face of all this repression, and reports of thousands of prisoners in Georgia now being held in control units, we are seeing ever increasing levels of activism and organization in that state. We call on all prisoners in Georgia, whether you're part of a lumpen organization or not, to step up and get involved. With the rising tide of activism we have a chance to unite and make some serious progress, not just on small reforms that will make a few people's time a little better, but also on building the unity and political education necessary for a long term movement that can take on the criminal injustice system as a part of the anti-imperialist fight. Organizations in Georgia should join the United Front for Peace in Prisons.
"Mao's conviction that Chinese culture was a great perhaps a unique historical achievement strengthened his sentiment of national pride. On the other hand, his explicit aim was to enrich Marxism with ideas and values drawn from the nation's past, and thereby render it more potent as an agent of revolutionary transformation, and ultimately wersternization, not to replace it with some kind of neo-traditionalism in Marxist dress." - Stuart Schram
The sinifaction of Marxism is the adaptation and application of Marxism to Chinese conditions. That was the beginning of Mao Zedong thought, and that was the basis upon which Mao Zedong sought to not only liberate China from feudalist, comprador and imperialist control, but upon which he advanced Marxism-Leninism to the third and most advanced stage of revolutionary science. When traditional Marxists who saw no revolutionary potential past Europe and Amerika regarded Mao as "a mere peasant chief with little knowledge of Marxism", what they were really expressing was their doubt in the Chinese peoples' ability to wage class struggle because they were supposedly "backward" and hence uncivilized, even though Chinese society goes back thousands of years. When Japanese imperialism landed in China, renamed it Manchuria and claimed it as their own, Mao challenged and successfully annihilated that claim. National liberation for self-determination, that is what Mao correctly perceived as his hystoric task to push China forward in the Chinese peoples' struggle for national dignity. That was Mao's hystoric duty as a revolutionary. What will ours be? For revolutionary-nationalists from the [email protected] nation it is the adaptation and application of Maoism to [email protected] conditions.
"In essence, sinifaction involved for Mao three dimensions or aspects: communication, conditions and culture. The first of these is the clearest and least controversial. In calling for a new and vital Chinese style and manner, pleasing to the eye and to the ear of the Chinese common people, Mao was making the valid but previously neglected point, that if Marxism is to be understood and accepted by any non-European country it must be presented in language which is intelligible to them and in terms relevant to their own problems. But how, in Mao's view, was the reception of Marxism in China determined by mentality (or culture), and experience (or concrete circumstances)? Above all, how were both the culture of the Chinese people, and the conditions in which they lived, to be shaped by the new revolutionary power set up in 1949? ... Mao sought to define and follow a Chinese road to socialism. In pursuing this aim, he unquestionably took Marxism as his guide...as well as seeking inspiration, as he had advocated in 1938, from the lessons and the values of Chinese history."
The adaptation and application of Maoism to [email protected] conditions therefore does not at all negate our hystory or reality, rather it affirms it and demands that we are reckoned with. Mao said that Marxism is a general truth with universal application and the science of practice which has now been summed up in hystory proved him right. So now that we know the power of revolutionary science that is Marxism-Leniinism-Maoism works, the question moved from what form of struggle does [email protected] national liberation take, to how do we begin to implement it? How do we adapt and apply Maoism to prison conditions, and then how do we apply this new understanding to the barrio. What does a [email protected] communist vanguard organization look like behind prison walls? What does it look like on the street?
These are all questions that can only be asked and answered by [email protected] in the process of the struggle.
The [email protected] nation is currently at a critical juncture in its extensive hystory. We are beginning to reach a point in which we will either cast our lot with the rest of Latin America, wage our struggle for national liberation and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Third World, or we will perish along with imperialism. As before, so today the choice is ours. Will we continue to send our sons and daughters to die in the periphery for a flag and land that isn't theirs, or will we prime them to fight imperialism and liberate Aztlán? We have the revolutionary imperative. Patria o muerte!
The Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) needs more activists focused on gender. MIM had a rich history in work around gender. Today a gender-focused MIM cell could do a lot to advance the struggle in the First World. For the majority of people in the richest countries, class is not an issue that will gain us much traction. But these leisure societies, dominated by gender oppressors, are concerned with the realm of leisure time where there are battles to be fought. Yet almost no one is drawing hard lines in the gender struggle today. Even some who give lip service to the need to divide the oppressor nations maintain a class reductionist line that prevents them from taking up revolutionary positions on gender.
Importance of the Gender Aristocracy
MIM sketched out the gender hierarchy as shown in the diagram below, with biological males above biological females, but with the whole First World far above the whole Third World. The line between men (gender oppressors) and wimmin (gender oppressed) is between Third World biological males (bio-males) and Third World bio-females. In this simplified model, the Third World is majority wimmin and the whole world is majority men.(1)
Near the top we see a small portion of the bio-females in the world are men of relatively high gender privilege. The term gender aristocracy was coined to account for this group of people who are often viewed as part of the gender oppressed, but are actually allied with the patriarchy.
MIM line distinguishes class and gender as class being defined by the relations of production and distribution, and gender defined as relations during leisure time. Largely due to their class position, the petty bourgeoisie, which makes up the vast majority in the First World, have a lot of leisure time and our culture in the United $tates is therefore very leisure oriented. Many of the things that are prominent and important in the lives of the gender aristocracy are not so for the majority of the world.
While MIM got a lot of push back on the labor aristocracy line, this came mostly from the dogmatic white nationalist left. The average Amerikan didn't get upset until MIM criticized their video games and explained how all sex is rape. These are things that are very important to the lives and pleasure of the imperialist country petty bourgeoisie. Knowing this is helpful in our agitational work. Our principal task overall is to create public opinion and independent institutions of the oppressed to seize power. In the First World, dominated by the oppressor nations and oppressor gender, this requires dividing the oppressor in an effort to break off allies. Even if we can't recruit whole segments of the oppressor groups, dividing them over issues of importance to the proletariat is a useful strategy.
While we say First World people are men in the gender hierarchy, unlike economic exploitation, anyone can be the target of gender oppression. Even First World bio-males are raped or killed for reasons related to gender and leisure time. This does not make them of the oppressed gender, but it does make such extreme forms of gender oppression a reality in the lives of the First World. In addition, the exploiter classes can benefit from the labor of others without ever having to use force themselves to extract that value, yet gender relations are something we all experience. As a result, even in the First World some people come to see the negative aspects of the patriarchy, with or without first-hand experience of extreme gender oppression, because of the very persynal and alienating emotional experiences they have.
A small minority in the First World will join the proletarian forces due to their own experiences with gender oppression. So it is important for there to be an alternative to the pro-patriarchy Liberalism of the gender aristocracy as a way to split off sections of the gender-obsessed leisure class. Below we take on one example of the gender aristocracy line in an effort to reassert an alternative.
Comments on the LLCO
We are using an article posted by the Leading Light Communist Organization (LLCO) as an example below. But before getting into the theoretical debate, we feel compelled to address the unprincipled approach of this organization. The article in question demonstrates a pattern of nihilism and bad-mouthing by LLCO that is akin to wrecking work.
LLCO was born in a struggle to separate itself from MIM, which had recently dissolved. Two of the main ways they did this was by bad-mouthing MIM and dividing on gender. The gender divide amounts to nihilism because they tear down the advances MIM made in building a materialist line on gender, but put nothing in its place but the Liberal pseudo-feminism of the past. Humyn knowledge and theory is always advancing; to tear down advanced ideas without replacing them with better ones is reactionary.
In the piece in question one of the logical fallacies they use is ad hominem attacks on people who acknowledge that all sex is rape by using meaningless buzzwords. Even worse, they go on to claim that those that take this position might be crazy and out of touch. This is a common attack used by the imperialists to ostracize radical thinkers. It is not a productive way to engage a developed political line that has been clearly spelled out for over two decades.
"All Sex is Rape" Needs a Comeback
Where LLCO actually engages the theory of whether all sex is rape under the patriarchy, we get a typical critique:
"Setting the bar for what counts as consent impossibly high obliterates the distinction between, for example, a wife initiating sex on her husband's birthday and the case of a masked man with a knife at a girl's throat forcing sex. To set the bar so high is completely at odds with what most people think, including rape victims themselves. Most victims themselves intuitively recognize the difference between consensual sex and rape."(2)
This is completely backwards. We do not have a problem of the masses confusing a womyn being compelled to have sex with a man because the patriarchal society tells her that is her duty on his birthday, and a womyn being compelled to have sex with a man because he is holding a knife to her throat and threatening to kill her. Rather, we have a problem of people not understanding that we need a revolutionary overthrow of patriarchy and a subsequent upheaval and reeducation of current humyn relations in order to end rape in both cases.
Furthermore, it is Liberalism to rely on the subjective "i'll know it when i see it" argument to define rape. This is exactly what MIM argued against when developing their line on gender. When an Amerikan judge hears a case of rape charged against a New Afrikan male by a white female, we can accurately predict the outcome of the judge's "intuition." When the roles are reversed, so is the verdict. And we only pick that as an easy example; we don't have to involve nation at all. It is quite common for Amerikan females to admit to themselves that they had been raped, months or years after the incident. What it takes is a social process, where rape is defined in a way that matches her experience. This social definition changes through time and space. And those who recognize this tend to gravitate towards the MIM line on rape.
The gender aristocracy is very concerned with distinguishing between rape and good sex, because good sex is the premise of their very existence as gender oppressors. For the gender aristocracy the bio-male provides safe/respectful good sex and the bio-female provides good sex in the form of a respectable/chaste partner. "Good sex" helps to distinguish and justify the existence of the gender aristocracy. Good sex is also a central source of pleasure for the gender aristocracy, to which they have very strong emotional attachments.
But the opponents to the MIM line on rape cannot explain away power differentials that are inherent in the patriarchy. They have no appropriate label for the sex that a womyn has with a man because she feels trapped in her marriage and unable to leave because of financial dependence. Or for the sex a womyn has with her girlfriend who is also her professor and in control of her grade at University. Or for the sex that a prisoner has with another prisoner because he needs the protection he knows he will get from someone who is physically stronger and respected. There are clear elements of power in all of these relationships. These are pretty obvious examples, but it's impossible to have a sexual relationship in capitalism under the patriarchy that does not have power differences, whether they be economic, physical, social, work, academic or some other aspect of power. This is not something we can just work around to create perfectly equal relationships, because our relationships don't exist outside of a social context.
One assumption of our critics is that rape cannot be pleasurable to both parties. We disagree with this definition of rape, and believe that power play is very tied up with pleasure in leisure time, to the point that a coercive sex act can be pleasurable to all involved. We expect this is more common among the gender privileged.
Another theme throughout the LLCO piece is the question of how we are going to determine who the "rapists" are that need to be punished if we are all rapists? This is combined with taking offense at being implicitly called a rapist.
The gender aristocracy cares about labeling and punishing rapists, again, because it distinguishes their good sex from others' bad sex. It is an exertion of their gender privilege. That is why most people in prison for rape in the United $tates are bio-males from the oppressed nations, and the dominant discussions about rape in the imperialist media are about places like India, Iraq, Mali or Nigeria.
LLCO accuses our line of discrediting anti-rape activists. MIM has been discrediting pseudo-feminism in the form of rape crisis centers for decades. Amerikan anti-rape activists take up the very line that we are critiquing, so this is almost a tautological critique by LLCO. Even in regards to struggles initiated by Third World wimmin, they are often corralled into a Liberal approach to gender oppression when not in the context of a strong proletarian movement. The imperialist media and those pseudo-feminists pushing an agenda of "international sisterhood" help make sure of this. This is an example of gender oppression and enforcing the patriarchy across borders using the gender aristocracy to sell it to the oppressed.
In general, we are not interested in finding the "real rapists" as we don't believe there is such a thing. Rape is a product of patriarchy — that is the essence of our line that all sex is rape. Imprisoning, beating or killing rapists will not reduce gender oppression in the context of a patriarchal society. Yet this is the only solution that is even vaguely implied in LLCO's critique.
Of course there are those who take the logic of the patriarchy to the extreme, just as there are those who take the logic of capitalism to the extreme. And we agree that under the dictatorship of the proletariat the masses will pick out these unreformable enemies for serious punishment. Yet, the majority of people who took up practices of capitalism or of the patriarchy will be reformed. This does not mean these people never exploited, stole from or sexually coerced another persyn before.
Today is another story. We adamantly oppose the criminal injustice system as a tool for policing sexual practices, just as we oppose it in general as a tool of social control to protect imperialism and the patriarchy. Therefore we find this desire to identify rapists to be a reactionary one.
Pushing for Gender Suicide
The problem with the ideology of the gender aristocracy is that their attachment to "happy sex" and the importance that most of them put on it will put them at odds with revolutionary attacks on the patriarchy. This is the practical side of "all sex is rape" as a tool to defang the gender aristocracy who will side with the imperialists on gender alone. If our critics get sad when we question the consensualness of their sex that is a good thing, because it challenges their attachments to the status quo. Truly radical changes must take place in our sex lives, our gender relations and our leisure time in general. The less resistance there is to this the better.
The Liberal argument is that by policing individual behaviors you can avoid being raped or raping someone else. This is just factually untrue. Yes, we need to transform the way people interact as part of the overthrow of patriarchy, but because gender relations operate at a group level, policing individual behaviors alone is just another form of lifestyle politics.
Just as all Amerikans must come to terms with their status as exploiters, and must view themselves as reforming criminals, gender oppressors must come to terms with the ever-presence of rape in the behaviors that they get much subjective pleasure from. Until they do, they will not be able to take on or genuinely interact with a proletarian line on gender.
I would like to comment on an article titled United in California that was printed in ULK40. I am also housed on a Special Needs Yard (SNY), and it wasn't until I dropped out of the street gang that I was able to develop the spirit of resistance on revolutionary principles. The general population deems everybody a snitch on these yards, however, that is not always the case. I simply made the choice to walk away and no longer participate. I am housed around prisoners with some shady history but not everybody here falls in that category.
As a Chicano I work to help men on the yard get sober and educate themselves, and to go back to their communities and discourage their family and friends from joining gangs or selling/using drugs. It wasn't until I started down this path that I realized the true meaning of the term Chicano. It does not mean Mexican-American as the Webster's dictionary defines. It's a political term used to redefine one's perspective historically, economically, politically, and most importantly responsibility. A responsibility to the people!
I come from a place that produces warriors, so I don't play into the finger pointing that the system uses to divide us as a people - general population vs. sensitive needs.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We stand with this comrade in the debate over whether SNY prisoners can be trusted as revolutionary activists. We judge individuals by the work they do and the political line they put forward. We know there are a lot of people in SNY who have snitched. But we also know there are plenty of people in GP who can't be trusted. We don't let the pigs define who we trust by their housing categories, instead we hold all people to the same standards and require everyone to demonstrate their trustworthiness in practice.
I am currently housed in Georgia Department of Corrections's (GDC) Tier 3 program. This is the only Tier 3 facility in the state at this time. There are Tier 2 programs at every close-max facility in Georgia which means there are about 10 of these units altogether. These programs are sensory deprivation torture at its extreme.
There is no due process or even a set standard that GDC goes by to place prisoners in these programs. If you file too many grievances, don't get along with the administration at a camp, or if snitches and rats give information to staff about your activities that can't even be proven, Georgia will place you on the tier.
At Tier 3 there are "phases" to the program, but all prisoners for the first 90 days are locked in a cell with only a shower, toilet, sink, and bunk. All windows are covered with metal, and you are allowed no outside recreation for at least 90 days. During this period you are allowed no books, no magazines, none of your personal property except what legal work the facility deems necessary. There is no store call except stamps and paper (which are also limited), no phone calls, and no hygiene except state issue.
In the whole state of Georgia we are fed only breakfast and dinner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. With no store call on the weekends, they basically enforce starvation torture on us. If prisoners try to resist in any way they are pepper sprayed or beaten. Guards slam prisoners' arms and hands in heavy metal door flaps, curse at us, threaten to not feed us, and then when they don't feed us they say we refused our trays.
We have to fight this. I have filed three grievances so far in the 50 days I've been here, about the illegal classification and the fictionalized classification standards. All have gone unanswered.
There are 200 prisoners all on Tier 3 at this facility. All over Georgia there are probably 5,000 prisoners or more facing these oppressive conditions. I am a white ghostface and I am introducing my organization to the precepts of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. None of our policies, laws, creeds, or codes go against what the front stands for, nor does it go against what the MIM stands for or believes in.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Georgia's tier system is being used to target activists and anyone the prison wants to isolate. We have many comrades now locked down in isolation. If anything, the torture is breeding resistance and organization in Georgia. This comrade sets a good example, looking to educate and organize others, including any organizations that might join the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Coming together around the UFPP principle of Unity we can build a movement to take on long-term isolation units like they have in Georgia, as a part of the broader fight against the criminal injustice system.
Recently a new program was launched to further erode the self-esteem and morale of captives within the bowels of neocolonial Colorado, "the violence reduction program." This program claims to target lumpen-on-lumpen violence by "group punishment." In essence, if violence breaks out between individuals or groups, the prison can punish 5 known associates of those who participated in the violence, even when those 5 had nothing to do with the incident. The administration says this will help ease tension so all "offenders can live in a safe environment and take advantage of what DOC has to offer." Right, that's bullshit.
Because of our tribal, religious, or political affiliations they will hold us as a unit responsible for one another's actions. Wouldn't isolation as a group only promote that much more strength of the group anyway? If we as individuals came in alone and will ultimately go home alone, why are the staff and administration telling us that we are responsible for the actions of people we hang out with?
I know a lot of comrades in Colorado read this, so let's get this rolling. If they will do this to us it won't be long until we all live just like we already do in segregation (Ad-Seg). What more can they take from us at all level IV places, maximum, etc.? We are only allowed two hours out a day for showers and recreation. Two hours! With 22 hours of isolation, we might as well be in Ad-Seg anyway.
I keep thinking of something I once read in MIM literature, that "people will not live under oppression forever." I can't blame my comrades who wish to resort to focoism, but we must remember violence and premature acts of resistance will no doubt set us back. If you really care and want to stop what's happening, it's time to bleed those pens. Unite — fight back.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This practice of punishment of "associates" is not unique to Colorado. In Washington a comrade sent in a copy of a memo about the Group Violence Reduction Strategy policy from Mike Obenland, Superintendent of Clallam Bay Corrections Center dated 22 October 2014. It states, in part,
"If a prohibited violent act occurs, restrictions are imposed on the offender who committed the prohibited violent act (perpetrator) and the offenders who interact with the perpetrator on a regular basis (close associates). Information provided by staff teams is used to identify perpetrators and close associates. This group of offenders is subjected to a cell search and up to six of the following restrictions for 30-days: [list of restrictions]."
This comrade from Colorado raises a good point about the contradictions inherent in the prison system and the repression against prisoners. On the one hand this new policy gives the prison the opportunity to punish and isolate anyone they want just by claiming they are affiliated with someone who engaged in violence, even if they never broke any rules themselves. But on the other hand, this repression will breed greater resistance, both by solidifying the unity of organizations that are punished as a group, and by incurring the righteous indignation of those affected by this arbitrary punishment. We can use this repression to build the revolutionary movement. As this writer says, we need to educate and write about what's going on, and we cannot be pushed into premature actions that bring down more repression.
The Communist Necessity by J. Moufawad-Paul Kersplebedeb 2014 Available for $10 from AK Press, 674-A 23rd St, Oakland CA 94612
This new book from J. Moufawad-Paul provides a good argument against reactionary trends in the First World activist movement over the past few decades, specifically tearing down the misleading ideologies that have moved away from communism and promote instead a mishmash of liberal theories claiming to offer new improved solutions to oppression. It comes mainly from an academic perspective, and as such takes on many minor trends in political theory that are likely unknown to many activist readers. But the main thrust, against what Moufawad-Paul calls movementism, is correct and a valuable addition to the summary of the recent past of political organizing and discussion of the way forward. Unfortunately, in illuminating the need for communist theory and scientific analysis Moufawad-Paul misses a crucial theoretical point on the petty bourgeois status of the First World. As such, his conclusions about the correct tasks for communists to take up are misleading.
Incorrect Line on the Labor Aristocracy
Moufawad-Paul does point out errors of those who have tried to take up communist organizing within unions: "Instead, those of us who have attempted to find our communist way within union spaces.... Bogged down by collective agreements so that our activism becomes the management of union survival; fighting for a union leadership that is only marginally left in essence..."(p136) But then he goes on to uphold the demands of unions without distinguishing between those representing the proletarian workers and those representing the petty bourgeoisie: "Immediate economic demands, of course, are not insignificant. We have to put food on the table and pay the bills,; we want job security and benefits. Solidarity amongst workers is laudable, and it would be a mistake to oppose unions and union drives because they are not as revolutionary as a communist party."(p137) Readers of MIM(Prisons) literature know that we have many books and articles detailing the calculations demonstrating First World workers income putting them squarely in the group of non-exploited owners of wealth who we call the petty bourgeoisie.
Moufawad-Paul concludes: "To reject economism, to recognize that trade-unions, particularly at the centres of capitalism, may not be our primary spaces of organization should not produce a knee-jerk anti-unionism, no different in practice than the conservative hatred of unions; rather, it should cause us to recognize the necessity of focusing our organizational energies elsewhere."(p137) This is a rather unscientific and wishy washy conclusion from an author who otherwise upholds revolutionary science to tear down many other incorrect theories. In fact it is only in the last pages of the book, in the "Coda" that Moufawad-Paul even attempts to take on this question of a "working class" in the First World and distinguish it from workers in the Third World:
"From its very emergence, capitalism has waged war upon humanity and the earth. The communist necessity radiates from this eternal war: capitalism's intrinsic brutality produces an understanding that its limits must be transgressed, just as it produces its own grave-diggers. How can we be its grave-diggers, though, when we refuse to recognize the necessity of making communism concretely, deferring its arrival to the distant future? One answer to this problem is that those of us at the centres of capitalism are no longer the primary grave-diggers.
"The permanent war capitalism wages upon entire populations is a war that is viscerally experienced by those who live at the global peripheries. Lenin once argued that revolutions tend to erupt at the 'weakest links,' those over-exploited regions where the contradictions of capitalism are clear. Thus, it should be no surprise that communism remains a necessity in these spaces — it is at the peripheries we discover people's wars. Conversely, opportunism festers at the global centres, these imperialist metropoles where large sections of the working-class have been pacified, muting contradictions and preventing entire populations from understanding the necessity of communism. Capitalism is not as much of a nightmare, here; it is a delirium, a fever dream."(p158)
But even while recognizing the pacification of "large sections of the working-class" in imperialist countries, Moufawad-Paul fails to undertake any scientific analysis of how large these sections are, or what exactly it means to be pacified. It sounds as though they still need to be woken from their "fever dream" to fight for communism. But these workers will be ardent anti-communists if we appeal to their economic interests. They have not just been pacified, they have been bought off with wealth stolen from the Third World, and as with the fascist workers in Germany under Hitler, they will fight to the death to defend their wealth and power over oppressed nations.
It is trade unions of these people benefiting from exploitation who Moufawad-Paul extols the readers not to reject with "a knee-jerk anti-unionism, no different in practice than the conservative hatred of unions." But in fact if he studied the economics of wealth with the same scientific passion he brings to the topic of communist theory overall, Moufawad-Paul would see that workers in imperialist countries have been bought over to the petty bourgeois class, and opposing their unionism is not knee-jerk at all.
Movementism and Fear of Communism
The bulk of this book is devoted to a critique of movementism: "the assumption that specific social movements, sometimes divided along lines of identity or interest, could reach a critical mass and together, without any of that Leninist nonsense, end capitalism."(p9)
This movementism is seen in protests that have been held up throughout the First World activist circles as the way to defeat capitalism: "Before this farce, the coordinating committee of the 2010 demonstrations would absurdly maintain, on multiple email list-serves, that we were winning, and yet it could never explain what it meant by 'we' nor did its claim about 'winning' make very much sense when it was patently clear that a victory against the G20 would have to be more than a weekend of protests. Had we truly reached a point where victory was nothing more than a successful demonstration, where we simply succeeded in defending the liberal right to assembly?"(p9-10)
Further, the movementists, and other similar self-proclaimed leftists of the recent past demonstrate an aversion to communism, though sometimes shrouding themselves in communist rhetoric: "All of this new talk about communism that avoids the necessity of actually bringing communism into being demonstrates a fear of the very name communism."(p29) He points out that this is manifested in practice: "The Arab Spring, Occupy, the next uprising: why do we look to these examples as expressions of communism instead of looking to those movements organized militantly under a communist ideology, that are making more coherent and revolutionary demands?"(p30)
Moufawad-Paul correctly analyzes the roots of the support for "insurrections" in the Third World rather than the actual communist revolutions. Real revolutions can have setbacks and fail to seize state power: "The lingering fascination with the EZLN, for example, is telling: There is a reason that the Zapatistas have received sainthood while the Sendero Luminoso has not. The latter's aborted people's war placed it firmly in the realm of failure; the former, in refusing to attempt a seizure of state power."(p46)
In another correct critique of these activists that MIM has made for years, Moufawad-Paul points out the problem with communists joining non-communist organizations and attempting to take over leadership: "...Occupied Wallstreet Journal refuses to communicate anything openly communist and yet is being edited by known communists..."(p50) Essentially these communists have to water down their own politics for the sake of the group, and they are doing nothing to promote the correct line more broadly.
Ultimately Moufawad-Paul sums up the anti-commnunism: "Even before this collapse it was often the hallmark of supposedly 'critical' marxism in the first world, perhaps due to the influence of trotskyism, to denounce every real world socialism as stalinist, authoritarian, totalitarian. Since the reification of anti-communist triumphalism this denunciation has achieved hegemony; it is the position to which would-be marxist academics gravitate and accept as common sense, an unquestioned dogma. Hence, we are presented with a constellation of attempts to reboot communism by calling it something different, by making its past either taboo or meaningless..."(p69)
And he cautions us that while some are now returning to communism in name, they are still lacking a materialist analysis of communist practice that is needed to bring about revolution: "Despite the return to the name of communism, this new utopianism, due to its emergence in the heart of left-wing academia and petty-bourgeois student movements, has absorbed the post-modern fear of those who speak of a communist necessity — the fear of that which is totalizing and thus totalitarian. The failure to develop any concrete strategy of overthrowing capitalism, instead of being treated as a serious deficiency, is apprehended as a strength: the movement can be all things for all people, everything for everyone, everywhere and nowhere..."(p151)
Moufawad-Paul correctly notes that for many academics and other petty bourgeois advocates of these new theories, the fear of communism is actually based in a fear of their own material position being challenged: "Here is a terrible notion, one that we avoid whenever we embrace those theories that justify our class privilege: we will more than likely be sent down to the countryside, whatever this figurative 'countryside' happens to be; we too will have to be reeducated. Most of us are terrified by this possibility, disgusted by the necessity of rectification, of being dragged down."(p96)
Sectarianism vs. Principled Differences
Moufawad-Paul includes some good discussion of the failure of movementist doctrine around so-called anti-sectarianism: "But the charge of sectarianism is leveled at every and any organization that dares to question the fundamental movementist doctrine."(p53) As he explains, "But principled political difference by itself does not amount to sectarianism, though it is often treated as such by those who would judge any moment of principled difference as sectarian heresy....Maintaining a principled political difference is itself a necessity, part of developing a movement capable of drawing demarcating lines, and even those who would endorse movementism have to do so if they are to also maintain their anti-capitalism."(p55)
The failure of coalition politics is summed up well: "When a variety of organizations with competing ideologies and strategies are gathered together under one banner, the only theoretical unity that can be achieved is the most vague anti-capitalism. Since revolutionary strategy is derived from revolutionary unity, the vagueness of theory produces a vagueness in practice: tailism, neo-reformism, nebulous movementism."(p129) This underscores why MIM(Prisons) promotes the United Front over coalition politics. In the United Front we have clear proletarian leadership but we do not ask organizations to compromise their own political line for that of the UF. A principled UF comes together around clear and concise points of unity while maintaining their independence in other areas. A good example of this is the United Front for Peace in Prisons.
The Need for Communism
Moufawad-Paul includes a good discussion of the need for real communist ideology, rooted in historical materialism and focused on what we need to do today rather than just building academic careers by talking about theories. "If anything, these movements, whatever their short-comings, should remind us of the importance of communism and its necessity; we should not hide from these failures, attempt to side-step them by a vague rearticulation of the terminology, or refuse to grasp that they were also successes. If we are to learn from the past through the lens of the necessity of making revolution, then we need to do so with an honesty that treats the practice of making communism as an historical argument."(p29)
He encourages the readers: "To speak of communism as a necessity, then, is to focus on the concrete world and ask what steps are necessary to make it a reality."(p31) And the way to figure out what steps are necessary is revolutionary science:
"Why then is historical materialism a revolutionary science? Because the historical/social explanation of historical/social phenomena is the very mechanism of class struggle, of revolution. And this scientific hypothesis is that which is capable of demystifying the whole of history and myriad societies, a way in which to gauge any and every social struggle capable of producing historical change.
"Hence, without a scientific understanding of social struggle we are incapable of recognizing when and where failed theories manifest. The physicist has no problem banning Newtonian speculation to the past where it belongs; s/he possesses a method of assessment based on the development of a specific scientific terrain. If we resist a similar scientific engagement with social struggle we have no method of making sense of the ways in which revolutionary hypotheses have been dis-proven in the historical crucible due to historical 'experiments' of class struggle."(p43)
Overall The Communist Necessity adds some much needed revolutionary scientific analysis to "leftist" activism and theories of the recent past. It is unfortunate that Moufawad-Paul did not apply this same scientific rigor to his analysis of classes. Only with both elements firmly understood will we be prepared to do our part to support the communist struggles of the oppressed world wide.
A little over a month ago, I awoke to a PBS early morning segment concerning the struggle of the Palestinian people to liberate themselves and their land from Israeli occupation and oppression. In this documentary I witnessed personnel of the Israeli military serve eviction notices to Palestinian people in Palestinian housing on Palestinian land, claiming to be taking control of the housing under the authority of the state of Israel. I also witnessed the recently built Israeli settlements being moved into by Israeli civilians as flustered Palestinian fathers, seemingly not 100 yards away on the opposite side of some sort of security fencing, had to attempt to explain to their children how it was no longer their (Palestinian) land, one even pointing to where his store used to be. Imagine trying to explain imperialism to a child who is barely old enough to tie his own shoes.
The United States and Israel, the Middle East's neighborhood bullies, seem to think it acceptable to propose 'peace' and 'tolerance' while they exploit a people and their land. They seem to think the victims should 'get over' the loss of their lands and the heartless slaughter and oppression of their people. When the victims wage armed struggle the oppressors scream "foul/self-defense" as if to say "why do you hate us so?" And in keeping with the bully analogy, of course, when a bully has historically, and is continuously oppressing a people, the bully always has to worry about retaliation. Israel has no moral ground in this scenario, at all. You stole their land and oppress their people, therefore the Palestinian people reserve the moral right to liberate themselves when and how they see fit. Trip off of this: while the U.S. feeds Israel arms as Israel takes Palestinian land, the U.S. condemns Russia for absorbing Crimea. On behalf of New Afrikans, I declare solidarity with the righteous Palestinian people!
And, of course, some Zionist Jews shall read this and cry "anti-Semitic," because to them such a claim trumps truth. Well, let me remind them ahead of them proclaiming such a factoid, the Palestinians are semites too! The definition of semite is "a member of any group of peoples (as the Hebrews or Arabs) of Southwestern Asia."