The reformed Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) recently held its seventh general convention. It was the first such event since it formally split from the revisionist Unified Communist Party of Nepal last summer.
During and immediately after the convention, the CPN-Maoist vowed to carry forth a strategy of ‘people’s revolt.’ They also took the opportunity to further distinguish themselves from the UCPN by calling for the immediate halt to BIPPA and other one-sided economic treaties with neighboring India.
Unfortunately, Liam Wright, a member of the post-Avakianist Kasama Project, was also on hand.
Delivering a short speech, Liam congratulated the Nepali comrades for their reorganization under the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and repeated Mao’s warning on ‘sugar coated bullets’ corrupting proletarian movements. Relevant advice indeed.
The main problem with Liam’s speech was his overall description of contemporary U.S. society, one which deviated greatly from a serious Marxist analysis.
According to Wright, the struggle for socialism and communism is largely epistemological: the lack of success for communists in countries like the U.S. can be boiled down to a lack of vaguely-construed ‘creativity.’ The solution is for communism to be “re-discovered and creatively transformed by a new generation of revolutionaries. [And to be] developed, transformed, and fused with the people.”
It sounds flowery but there is not much substance: ‘revolution is possible if we convince people it is.’ Furthermore, this sort of idealism is not Marxism nor Maoism.
Though Liam Wright and Kasama now claim to be in opposition to the revisionism of Bob Avakian, they were for years his supporters and appreciators as well as cadre of the chauvinist Revolutionary Communist Party-USA. Today, regardless of what differences they may claim to have with Avakian, they essentially hold the same idealist-opportunist line. Avakian has his creative adaption, the “new synthesis,” which various commentators have finally realized is a stale cocktail of old revisionisms. Wright and Kasama have their own creative adaption, which they choose to leave unnamed and formally ambiguous for the sake of appearing ‘fresh’ and ‘non-dogmatic.’ Both say Marxism needs to be creatively adapted. By this they mean the jettisoning of Marxism’s core essence, historical materialism and class analysis, in favor of idealistic phraseology and opportunism: ‘revolution is possible if we convince people of it.’
Marxism is much more that petty-bourgeois humanism and idealism with ‘revolutionary’ and ‘internationalist’ veneers. Rather, Marxism is a science of organizing for revolution. Thus when incorrect ideas such as ‘revolution can happen if we try hard enough’ become acceptable within Marxism, such becomes Marxism in name only.
Nowhere does Wright mention the fact that the average citizen of the U.S. (especially members of the White oppressor nation) receive tremendous benefits from imperialism. He ignores that a bulk of the U.S. working population are labor aristocrats and net-exploiters whose livelihoods are dependent on a maintained imperialist exploitation of the vast global South. Whereas he mentions millions of people in the U.S. are “in poverty, in prison, or under the gun of the police,” nowhere does he mention the tens or hundreds of millions who are consumers of wealth, who support and benefit from mass incarceration, and who are non-state supporters and benefactors of national oppression and political violence both ‘at home and abroad.’ For Wright, these outstanding facts are not important because, under his idealist-opportunist viewpoint, revolution can be conjured up from creative determination alone. Political line, i.e. the conscious appraisal of social conditions with the intent of revolution, is secondary.
For all of Wright’s vague pontificating on the need for the ‘creative’ development of communism, he arrives at this conclusion:
“It is our view that a united front for revolution in the U.S. will likely have at its core a strategic alliance of the movement for socialism arising from the multiracial working class, with the national liberation of oppressed peoples within the U.S.”
Granted, Wright’s lip-service support for national liberation is better than the general U.S. left’s chauvinistic dismissal of the question. Overall however, there is little ‘new’ or ‘creative’ about this assessment. It is formally the same line pushed onto the CPUSA by Stalin back in the 1930’s.
Wright asks Nepali Maoists to take a liberal view towards class structure in the U.S.:
“The United States appears to be at the heart of modernization and development. Yet there are oppressed classes of tens of million[s] who suffer bitterly here– and their suffering has worsened.”
Wright essentially wants Nepalis to ignore what is obvious about the U.S., that it is a center of global capital accumulation and hence its economic processes and class structure are geared greatly towards the realization of value stolen from the Third World, and instead focus on a minority of “tens of millions” who “suffer bitterly.”
If this is not an obfuscation of global class dynamics, I do not know what is.
My point obviously is not that oppression or relative poverty does not exist in countries such as the U.S. However, such oppression is qualified by and stands against a backdrop of aristocratic privilege derived from the relationship between imperialist country workers and monopoly capital.
“The labor aristocracy is a temporary feature of capitalism,” First Worldists may claim. However, all relationships which bind capitalism are temporal. Obviously, we should not dismiss the structural aspects of imperialism because it does not suit our idealist presumptions.
Given Kasama’s liberal views, it is not surprising they “leapt” into the Occupy Movement. In contrast to Wright’s own recounting, the Occupy Movement was born and died as a labor aristocratic movement struggling to maintain their privileged positions via capital accumulation. Kasama maintains what must be opposed: the notion that economist work and tailing the labor aristocracy (i.e. struggles over debt forgiveness on consumer spending, maintaining aspects of social democracy, etc) amounts to the creative development of communism.
Wright’s misrepresentation of global class dynamics is problematic for additional reasons. If the general level of wealth in countries like the U.S. is due to modern technology and development abstracted from capital accumulation, then Nepal is primarily poor because it lacks the appropriate technology and level of development. If this is the case, as Wright and other First Worldists imply, the logical route for the Nepali masses to pursue is a strategy based on the theory of the productive forces: i.e., they should strive for investment and development and hope to ‘catch up’ with the U.S. and other imperialist countries (this is, of course, not substantively different than the UCPN’s line). However, if the apparent wealth saturated in countries like the U.S. is primarily the result of imperialist exploitation of the Third World, the logical route of struggle becomes one against compradors and for a global united front against imperialism under the leadership of the proletariat, for a ‘settling of accounts’ between imperialist and exploited economies and oppressing and oppressed nations, and for the establishment of socialism and communism on a global basis. For this reason, the question of the labor aristocracy has universal significance.
Liam Wright and other Kasama cadre no doubt realize the correctness of this on some level. Yet because this correct adaption of Marxism runs counter to their idealist-opportunist ‘creative’ paradigm, they dismiss it outright.
When confronted with these facts, Avakianists and post-Avakianists opportunistically claim that the Third Worldist line states that revolution in the First World is eternally impossible. This is another lie.
As far back as the 1980’s, the Maoist Internationalist Movement stated revolution will be “a reality for the United States as the military becomes over-extended in the government’s attempts to maintain world hegemony.”
I myself would go further. Any effective revolutionary movement in the U.S. will only exist in the context of a general uprising against U.S. imperialism, and more so in the context of a global united front against imperialism under proletarian leadership. For this to happen, it is important that Third World revolutionaries do not wait in anticipation for mass support from First World radicals before carrying out the next stage of the revolutionary struggles. Rather, it is important that Third World parties blaze forward and bring people’s war, socialism, and communism into the 21st century.
There is a qualitative difference between attempting to organize for revolution in the First World on one hand and on the sowing confusion within communist movements about the structure of today’s imperialism. It is great that Wright and the Kasama Project hope to use news of revolutionary movements from peripheral and semi-peripheral countries to build support for proletarian internationalism in core-zone countries. In and of itself, it is a strategy I endorse. Yet to misrepresent the actual class dynamics which comprise imperialism is to do an even greater disservice to the cause of proletarian internationalism.
I sincerely hope Liam Wright and Kasama will correct themselves, admit a substantive portion of U.S. workers are net-exploiters, and adjust their practice and official statements accordingly. Otherwise, their intervention at events such as the CPN-Maoist’s general convention can only amount to firing the ‘sugar-coated bullets’ they warn of.