On the Internet even the marginal can be on somebodies favourite list even if little known outside the orbit of their own ego. Not all individual commentators should be categorised together or warrant the attention they receive; their value may be entertainment rather than thought provoking. But sometimes you cannot but follow the white rabbit down the hole…..
The political genealogy of the Leading Light Communist Organization is in various small, mostly Maoist North American groups, with much of the core idea goes back to the mid-1990s from early shaping experiences with MIM, It’s Right to Rebel “think tank” experience and web journal, Monkey Smashes Heaven. There was political work in Mexico, without really establishing deep roots, along the way. There was a fifteen year development as “the best of the best, warrior geniuses” developed “Maoist-Third Worldist” positions as “the new line we were creating.” From Denver USA the first group calling itself Leading Light Communist Organisation was formed in 2010. Bibliographical background, mostly an unverifiable account was supplied in an interview with fellow LLCO member in 2017.
Internet criticism on Redditt of LLCO that “long story short, the Leading Light Communist Organization really has nothing besides a nice website” had the unsatisfyingly self-serving reply from a supporter of the clandestine organization, “Prairie Fire” that “I doubt any answer I give will satisfy you. If you don’t see the light, you don’t see it. The advanced do see it.”
Eventually the anonymity of “Prairie Fire” gave way to the self-aggrandisement that saw the self-publishing website Lulu carry the endorsement that:
Brennen Ryan, “Leading Light,” “Prairie Fire,” “El Hector,” is one of the most important theorists of revolution in our age. His works span many topics ranging from political economy to epistemology to environmentalism to history to aesthetics. He has been described as “the Marx of the present epoch.”
Stalwart and founder-leader of the Leading Light Communist Organization, Brennen Ryan’s self-identifying revolutionary genius is based on thin ground: he has put into the public domain a couple of pieces of secondary research work largely hung around the line struggles in Maoist China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, principally Seas are rising, Clouds and Waters Raging, but more generally produces writings of a preacher’s revivalist tone with bald assertions that soon become ritualistic frequent. However, the emphasis of self-cultivation – to live according to our best selves – speaks with a voice that seemingly has an audience in Bangladesh and Ghana, and has a friend in fellow sensation-in-his-own-mind Jason of Maoist Rebel News (so far not prosecuted under the Trade Description Act).
Brennen’s analysis, rooted in the idea of the global rich versus the global poor, built upon a sense that the world is deeply unjust and is informed by an analysis of the class struggle in China in the Sixties particularly when
“Lin Biao died in 1971. China’s support for people’s wars around the world is replaced by an opportunistic, nationalist calculation not unlike the Soviet revisionist one. China begins aligning with the Western imperialists. This nationalist opportunism is sometimes associated with a doctrine called “Three Worlds Theory,” but the theory was really just window dressing for the practice.”
Brennen said of Seas are rising, Clouds and Waters Raging, “the book traces the development of not just the Cultural Revolution ideology of the Maoists, but also the dual institutions that allowed the Maoists to bypass and challenge the traditional, bureaucratic chains of command. Once examined closely, it is hard to imagine how the Cultural Revolution could have happened without Lin Biao.”
A position not dissimilar to some bourgeois scholars of the Cultural Revolution, who also acknowledge – as did Mao – that there was no masterplan that unraveled and the accidental nature of the developments driven by the mass movements involved. And he is not the first to raise the point that “Obviously there is a lot of deception going on in the post-Lin Biao Maoist narratives.”
“There are a couple reasons I have focused on Lin Biao in my work. The first reason is that Lin Biao was a revolutionary. He represented some of the best of the Maoist era. He symbolized the Cultural Revolution and worldwide people’s war. That’s good stuff. Secondly, I view Lin Biao as a kind of barometer. How you view Lin Biao really reflects whether you are stuck in the dogma of police narratives and metaphysics or whether you have genuine scientific potential. If you are afraid to question dogma, then you are not very useful to the proletariat. If you are comfortable with dogma, injustice, police narratives, etc., then, again, you are not really leadership, vanguard, Leading Light material.”
His message contains reasonable, logical and pertain observations like
“We cannot reform our way to revolution. Revolution is a deep, fundamental reorganization of all of society, it means disempowering the reactionary classes. It means empowering the revolutionary classes” and
The next wave of revolution is not going to be made by dogmatically repeating the past. We need to learn from the past, but also go beyond it. Those who are stuck in the past really do a disservice to the masses”
Brennen argues in the same vein as earlier Third worldist trends that extended the concept of a Labour Aristocracy to embrace all working people geographically located in the Global North regardless of their local relationship to the means of productions and actual standard of consumption in a “Global Class Analysis” that echoes Lin Biao’s “global countryside” that opposed a “global city.” Leading Light’s line is not that there is no proletariat in the First World countries. Rather that there is no significant proletariat in the First World countries.
“In fact, the last century of revolution has taught us that revolution will happen in the weakest links of the system, on the edges of global economic power. Lenin’s prediction that the storm center of world revolution moving eastward came to past. Mao spoke of the east wind prevailing over the west wind. Today, the entire world economy is a single entity. Understanding the question of friends and enemies, Mao’s first question requires a class analysis that is truly global. It is not just First World capitalists who are reactionary enemies, but most people in the First World. Ordinary people in the First World have far more to lose than their chains. They have wealth, privileges, houses, cars, electronics, security, leisure, opportunities, mobility. They have access to capital. They have social wealth, infrastructure, land, modern institutions. Ordinary people in the First World do not have a class interest in revolution.”
Amongst the sensible soundbites there are the messianic expression of a medieval true believer in revelatory truth.
“After much difficulty, we continue to assemble the greatest revolutionary minds and hearts alive. The most thoughtful, the most daring, the most caring will be with us. We are Leading Lights, the warriors, the martyrs. We are the Leading Light, the organization of the new type to initiate the Global People’s War, to purge the world of all suffering, so that a new humanity and land will flourish. Our future is our own because we have the science, the leadership, the organization, the loyalty, the discipline, the daring, the courage to really win. There is an oath, a command that we have written on our souls: One Earth. One people. One organization. One leadership. One life to give. My life for the masses, for the land, for the Leading Light.”
Like the Avakianists and their “New Synthesis,” Brennen claims that Leading Light Communism represents a new breakthrough in revolutionary science, one that makes previous ones obsolete. The appeal of Maoism said to be that it romanticises guerrilla struggles in the third world in a pseudo-intellectual rhetoric which suggest a shallow understanding of what constitutes Maoism. So they claim to transcend their ideological roots in Maoism and regard those who still have an identification with it as part of the ideological opposition. Brennen sees the left as stuck in dogma. In 2011, writing as Prairie Fire he criticised the experienced Communist Party of the Philippines as
“armed revisionists. While they may be landing some blows against imperialism, they are not communists. Besides being completely dead intellectually, they are crude dogmatists, especially Jose Maria Sison.”
He is equally dismissive and critical of the newly emerged radical First-World based Maoists and Gonzaloist trends:
“The idea that Maoism is some kind of “third, higher stage” is not a new idea. Many Maoists today think this “new stage” stuff is from Gonzalo in Peru. It isn’t. Before Gonzalo was talking this way, India’s Charu Majumdar was. And Charu Majumdar just got it from his contemporaries in China. The idea goes back to Maoist discourse that was popularized in the mid and late 1960s. The “new stage” idea is specifically from Lin Biao. It is mentioned over and over in such obscure texts as the original introduction to Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong. Yes, the “red book.” It is even in Lin Biao’s “Report to the Ninth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party” in 1969. The inability to deal with history honestly is part of the comical nature of Maoism today.”
I think of Maoism a lot like Maoists once used to think of Hoxhaism, as “dogmatic revisionism.” I see it as a dead trend and a dead end.
LLCO has produced a body of literature to substantiate its Third Worldist political orientation. The Maoist adjective now dropped.
A free introductory booklet, Forward! breaks down the basics of Leading Light Communism. It addresses many of the most frequently asked questions, and advises that “All new cadre and supporters should familiarize themselves with these answers. These answers are the beginning of knowledge, not the end. Keep advancing. Prove yourself. Follow the Leading Light all the way. Be the Leading Light.”
Publish in various languages, illustration is AVANTE: Questões Frequentes parte 1: O que é a Luz Guiadora?” is Frequently Asked Questions of LLCO in Portuguese.
Other publications include the Leading Light magazine that focuses on a main topic. See https://llco.org/study/
Leading Light 1: The General Line
Leading Light 2: Science In Command
Leading Light 3: Orientation
Leading Light 4: Revolutionary History
Leading Light 5: Practice
Available in various languages including Bengali e.g.
A theoretical publication, Monkey Smashes Heaven saw two issues consisting of reprints of web-based articles attributed to “Prairie Fire”. In addition there are
We are proud to announce the publication of Casting Pearls: philosophy, science, art, revolution by Leading Light Commander Prairie Fire. This work outlines some of the biggest breakthroughs in contemporary revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism. This volume also contains important, significant, unpublished materials. All over the world, the revolutionary movement is discovering the importance of science once again. From Bangladesh to Brazil, from Myanmar to Germany, from India to Canada, from Mexico to Russia, from the Philippines to the United States the masses are waking up. It is a must read for all those who seek a better world.
By whatever name he goes by, Brennen is offering the world an answer. He is confident and full of self-belief similar to other American leaders whose ideas and practice of leadership stem from privilege and entitlement. So far less people have bought into the version of LLCO that is being marketed via the world wide web.
“I embrace the best in all the Leading Lights of the past. In that sense, I am a Marxist, a Leninist, a Maoist, and a Lin Biaoist. However, that is not all that I am. Not only do I embrace what is the best in the revolutionary tradition, I embrace the most advanced breakthroughs today. I am a Leading Light Communist, a revolutionary scientist. Truth, as best as it can be understood, is my great leader.”
“…as Leading Lights, we are condemned to lead. We carry the world on our shoulders. We need to understand the past, but if we are to have victory, we must go beyond it. Elevate the science. Advance the science. Science. Science. Science. Leading Light Communism is the key to the future, our great destiny.”
The website Soviet Broadcast posted this item: