On strategy: breaking thru defenses
[In ULK 13, we printed some definitions that came from studying MIM Theory 5: Diet for a Small Red Planet, which focuses on line, strategy and tactics. In this article, we summarize some of the ways we applied those concepts to real world examples while discussing the rest of the articles in MIM Theory 5.]
There are basically two ways we can make errors in our political work. We can make rightist errors or ultra-left errors. How we avoid these errors depends on our ability to assess our material conditions, because what is left and what is right changes as conditions change. For example, we spent time discussing focoism and opposing it as ultra-leftist because it calls for armed struggle in the First World. Yet, we recognize that armed struggle is a necessity to overthrow imperialism when we reach that stage.
While focoism was the main example, we tried to define ultra-leftism in a more broad sense. Ultra-leftism in general means giving the appearance of being to the left of the political spectrum to the point of moral purity. In practice, however, it's really so far to the left that it's useless to real revolutionaries because it makes us seek unrealistic goals. Ultra-leftism denies our material reality and replaces it with idealism. A second example of ultra-leftism might be spending all one's time attacking other revolutionaries for not being perfect.
Ultra-leftists hurt the Third World because every time a comrade has to pull one of these cats over and pull their coats, they take away time, energy and resources that can be used for the development of the Third World nations. Take the approach that one prisoner wrote in to ULK on commissary for example. S/he writes that instead of everybody buying store and keeping our stomachs from touching our backs when our oppressors are feeding us like we're children, we should send all our money home. Not to our brothas and sistas in the Third World, or the institutions established by comradz in the U.$. that truthfully provide for them. But send all the money home. And then what?
This is an example of ultra-leftism because, to some, this may seem revolutionary and rebellious but in reality it is irrational thinking. The idea is based in purity rather than a strategy with the objective goal of overthrowing imperialism. You can tell that the motivation is purity because the question is how do we not contribute to the system rather than how do we contribute to something that will change or end the system. This ignores material reality because you can't take the food from prisoners; then we'll really underdevelop our situation.
When looking at rightism, the main problem we face is "revolutionaries" that want to organize the majority of the people in the United $tates. By catering to the majority in a First World country a party's politics are inevitably watered down - because the majority (in a First World country) are not oppressed. They put out a right opportunist line and get just whoever comes along. Basically, if you're an organization in the First World and have a large following you stand for bourgeois ideals. Once a person understands this you can pretty much place your bets on the small underdog movement for the correct line/vanguard status.
While we must defend against right opportunism within our ranks, we might ally with those who are openly reformist and therefore to the right of us. Revolutionaries work on reforms because some do improve the lives of people on a small scale, but ultimately we do it to show the people that reforms do not work in the end and what they really need is full-scale revolution. Trying to get some resources that will help advance the revolutionary's goals is a winnable battle worth fighting.
An example of a reform that can help a small percentage of the oppressed and could be used as a tactic in a larger strategy is limiting the number of people going into these torturous control units. Doing that work exposes the United $tates' cruelty, disregard for international law, brutality, etc. Hence it may help to work on SMUs, IMU, MCC, Ad-MAX, etc. struggles and inhumanities because as Mao said about public opinion. "The task of communists is to expose the fallacies of the reactionaries. . . and so accelerate the transformation of things and achieve the goal of revolution."
While we may unite with and lead reformist battles, revolutionaries should not join liberal mass organizations because they will eventually be forced to water down their politics for the sake of the single issue organization or risk alienation. Also, by working within a single issue organization, revolutionaries may inadvertently be holding it back by disempowering potential recruits, thereby disempowering the group. One way they do this is by alienating potential new recruits with their more worked out politics, leaving the potential recruits feeling as if they have nothing to offer.
Mass organizations and single issue work are good ways for the middle class to contribute to the anti-imperialist cause. We need to be looking to build alliances with them when it genuinely serves the international proletariat. In addition, we need to pay close attention to mass organizations because a lot of people are brought into politics through them. And we need to be there to challenge them to struggle for the real solution of humyn beings, communism.
Find the opening
In addition to reading MIM Theory 5, we studied two articles from the Black Panther newspaper entitled "In Defense of Self-Defense" and "The Correct Handling of a Revolution." In the latter article, Huey P. Newton wrote that, "the party must engage in activities that will teach the people." In our discussion of how to do this, one comrade discussed what s/he coined "MIM(Prisons) University of Thought," which includes the various study and discussion groups MIM(Prisons) facilitates. Through this institution, individuals have the opportunity to learn through study: the Party, its line and its history. Individuals can study the organization of movements through out our struggle for communist leadership by the proletariat and learn not only its victories and successes, but also its stagnation and failures.
Another related activity would be a campaign for the creation of giving (books, postal stamps, money, art, music, etc) by comrades that have to give. And everyone has something to give. An institution should be established that allows prisoners to send donated books to the cause, as well as funds. MIM(Prisons) has the lit project to distribute literature. This same institution can be used for prisoners who either have to send their books home due to excessiveness, or going to a control unit, or who want to just contribute to the cause. Some might wonder why not recycle them on the yards? But only at small levels can this be effective activity in educating the prison mass. If we want to become internationally unified, we must then think internationally.
Such a project not only progresses our efforts to receive the favor of the masses, but it also gives us an institution to counter the bourgeois-imperialist propaganda that is spread throughout this U.$. capitalist imperialist society.
Part of Huey's point was to teach through action. So not only are people learning from the books, but they are learning from the sharing and coordinating of materials as a collective group outside of a for-profit/business structure. Even an illiterate comrade could learn from the example of the program. Other activities mentioned that can teach the people were breakfast programs, community rehab on parks and other resources and lawsuits to fight censorship.
In addition to this summary, our study and discussions are reflected in a number of articles composed by comrades that appear in this issue and will appear in the future. We also added to and further developed the study guide for this topic (Strategy & Tactics), which we encourage all serious comrades to study when they get the chance.