Read, read again Ajith

Ajith’s polemical demolition “Against Avakianism” is more than a good critique of erroneous positions and muddled theoretical constructions. In exploring what was fundamentally flawed in packaging a “new synthesis” in the cultist degeneration and revisionism promoted by the RCP,USA, Ajith raises a fruitful exposition of observations and speculations on many topics and questions that constantly face the international communist movement throughout its historic process.

Even in the briefest of treatments – like the section on socialist democracy [102-124] – there is a condensed focus on the lessons drawn and alternative approaches to take in addressing the challenges on the party and socialist state and their operations.

(A more complete presentation on the matter of the party can be found in, The Maoist Party an essay written by K. Murali, also known as Comrade Ajith, from his book Of Concepts and Methods.2020 Foreign Languages Press Collection “New Roads” #9)

Ajith’s critique provides a more inspiring springboard than the work he dissects. In his application of the many insights and observations offered in Mao Zedong’s writings, Ajith corrects Avakian’s distortions and reasserts the creative purposefulness of Maoism.

Amid the discussion around the ideological and theoretical aspects of truth and understanding Marxism as a science, what is clear is the centrality of both the intention and experience of the Cultural Revolution to contemporary MLM. In many of its practices it raised phenomenon and issues that shape an universalist understanding of principles and practices that contribute to human liberation.

Avakian’s claim to go beyond and exceed that experience lies like an image of a by-gone age, a half-ruined folly in the political landscape.

Whereas Ajith pushes forward, not necessarily with complete answers but the interesting questions.

The aim of clarifying the struggle within RIM around Avakian’s attempt to foster upon it his “new synthesis”.

The ambition and vision of RIM as a correct manifestation of internationalism was both attractive and deceptive and other groupings of political allegiance have similarly appeared. The journal “A World To Win” was a platform for organisations providing news and information, reinforcing that sense of internationalism and being part of something much much bigger than parochial concerns. It could raise awareness and organisational abilities, generating international solidarity, co-operation and co-ordination; all powerful elements in sustaining an organisational allegiance to RIM (and the idea of it).

[While Ajith quotes from the (not yet in the public domain) internal journal Struggle to clarify the process that led to RIM’s disintegration, and the subsequent drive to establish a unified international MLM body, important elements are outside the scope of this critique.

But then that is for a different format and publication encompassing a definitive account of the failings of RIM, a political summation, including the input of the PCP after the arrest of Chairman Gonzalo, and the weakening of the “embryo” by the internal struggles over Peru and Nepal, the absences of other major active parties, like in the Philippines etc

A separate website containing links to quoted articles in Against Avakianism has been made available by FLP:

https://foreignlanguages.press/colorful-classics/ against-avakianism/documents/

Ajith begins with setting the circumstances of the early 2012 Special Meeting of the parties and organisation of RIM convened by

Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan

Maoist Communist Party of Italy

Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Naxalbari

An original invitee, the PBSP – Proletarian Party of Purda Bangla [Bangladesh] – was absence, later explaining this was due to political differences with the contents of the Special Meeting. were involved in the consultations during the drafting of the invitation, a delegation of the Red Faction of the Nepalese UCPN( M)  – struggling against the Prachanda/Bhattarai revisionist line – joined as observers .

[The resolutions adopted at the Special Meeting are available on the Maoist Road website]

The background to the need for the Special meeting had been laid out as

“… the present collapse of the RIM is the result of the paralysis of the Committee of the RIM (CoRIM) arising from positions, serious ideological political differences that emerged among some members of the CoRim.”

RIM – RIM Documents and Statements (bannedthought.net) –  had emerged in the 1980s as a Maoist grouping, a self-described “embryo” of a new international.  Organisationally, an administrative function was based in London, the CoRIM taking on communication and co-ordination duties, overseeing the publication of the multi-language journal, “A World To Win!”.

The pre-discussion to the Special Meeting had identified the disparaging effects, negatively infecting a line struggle that affected the operation of RIM specifically paralysing the work of the CoRIM. It identified the revisionism of Bob Avakian’s post-MLM new synthesis course and the once lauded Prachanda/Bhattari line that disarmed and disrupted the progress of the Nepalese revolutionary struggle.

Summarising Avakian’s positions and criticisms, Ajith’s “Engaging with the Chairman” defend Mao’s contributions against the view that Avakian’s ideas must be made the basis of the international communist movement. [ pages 12-28] Drawing lines of demarcation as asked, Ajith wrote of the “new synthesis”

“ It has liquidated its ideological moorings by declaring that MLM is outdated and must be replaced with Avakianism.” This was the crutch of the dispute. Furthermore Ajith argued that it was insufficient to simply reactive RIM minus RCP,USA and others that had fallen by the wayside. The original Declaration of RIM was no longer an adequate basis to continue as before, even with a new constituted CoRIM. This did not lessen the need for an international organisation to convey a united revolutionary message and facilitate the development of collective wisdom.

What discernible impact in the real world?

The RCP,USA has failed as a revolutionary project in its social practice. The RCP,USA was flattered by its association with an international grouping that belied its own domestic weakness on the margins of the American left. Its similarities with the Trotskyist cult, the WRP led by Healy, becoming more pronounced with the orchestrated cult of leadership personified in Avakian. A network of bookshops, publishing and newspapers as well as international reach, sustained appearance of organisational strength All these elements partially explain an emphasis on internet-based Leftist news sites as modern equivalents of Lenin’s Iskra approach as the propaganda produced seeks to inspire or produced the desired political effect of building the movement. Far from securing the glow of leadership, Avakian’s well-deserved obscurity reflects the value of the contributions of his RCP’s ruminations-and wranglings.

Ajith

Against Avakianism 

Foreign Languages Press 2017 “Colorful Classics” #9

1979: The Mao Defendants

 

In January 1979 Avakian was amongst 75 arrested at a demonstration against (old style: Teng Hsiao-Ping) Deng Xiaoping’s visit with Jimmy Carter at the White House and charged with assaulting a police officer. In the party’s narrative this demonstration of 500 people, called by the Revolutionary Communist Party, came at a crucial time when the U.S. ruling class was arrogantly and smugly parading Deng Xiaoping around as living proof that the Chinese revolution, in particular, and revolution in general was dead and a useless pursuit.

Upholding the revolutionary line of Mao Zedong, chanting “Mao Tsetung Did Not Fail – Revolution Will Prevail” the Washington demonstration was classed as an extremely significant and powerful event of worldwide and historic importance; “At a crucial juncture it not only exposed Teng Hsiao-ping as a revisionist-traitor and his enlistment of China on the side of the U.S. war bloc, the demonstration declared that revolution was very much alive and determined to overcome the reversal in China and everything else in its path.

RCP literature presented Avakian as the most dangerous man in America, that he was the best leader the U.S. working class has ever had, that the U.S. government intended to “railroad” Avakian and the other “Mao Tse-tung Defendants because the RCP was seen by the government as “the most dangerous revolutionary organization in this country.”

The RCP and Bob did not always get comradely support from others from the new Communism Movement. The Communist Party, USA (Marxist-Leninist) article, dismissingly headlined, “Bob Avakian, The Jerk is Loose” Bolshevik Revolution, No. 1, December 1979.

While the RCP’s “infantile leftism” was condemned in a polemical piece headlined,

A Reply to the RCP: “Mao Defenders” Sow Ideological Confusion and Provoke Reaction.

“The RCP’s arrogant, self-inflated view of itself as the maker of revolution contradicts reality as well as the Marxist-Leninist understanding of who it is that really makes revolution. Unite! Vol. 5, No. 17, October 1, 1979.

The relentless activism of the organization intensified in the year following the arrests: RCP cadre and supporters attacked the Chinese Embassy in Washington, disrupted a press conference with Deng Xiaoping and marched through the streets of Washington, San Francisco and Seattle in red blazers and berets waving the “little red book” and posters of Mao Tsetung and the Gang of Four. From coast to coast, in the build up to nationwide MayDay disruptions, the RCP’s strived for its name to be become synonymous with that of Mao Tsetung. In its campaign, “A Fitting Welcome for Teng”, its main slogan was “Uphold Mao and the Gang of Four”. Those arrested in the course of these demonstrations are known as the “Mao Defendants.”

Revolutionary Worker No.88 January 16th 1981

Major events

“We do not want to be convicted! That would be a crippling blow against our Party and against building a revolutionary movement in this country.”

The defense brought out the legal question of prosecutorial vindictiveness—a term referring to any action of a prosecutor in response to the assertion of a legal right by a defendant which can appear to be a reprisal against the defendant for asserting that right. The prosecution had originally indicted the Mao Defendants in two separate groups of nine and eight, with one group charged with eleven felonies and another with fifteen (this itself was an escalation from the original charges of one misdemeanor and one felony).

When the defendants asked for a joint trial and won—a move that clearly signaled the intent of the Party and the defendants to treat this as the political trial it was and to take every opportunity to expose the politics behind it—the prosecution responded by upping the charges against all 17 to 25 felonies, one misdemeanor and a possible 241 years of jail time.

The RCP newspaper, the Revolutionary Worker covered the speech by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA at the Free Bob Avakian and the Mao Tsetung Defendants rally held in Washington, D.C., on November 18. 1979. It was also published as a separate pamphlet, Bob Avakian Speaks On The Mao Tsetung Defendants Railroad And The Historic Battle Ahead. Bob said,

They saw a disciplined, militant, powerful march of 500 people going down the street in unison chanting and delivering a clear political message, and they saw twice that number of pigs surrounding the march. And all of them to a man and woman’ said, “Goddamm, something motherfucking heavy must be going on here. I’d better check it out!” [Revolutionary Worker No.57 May 30th 1980]

Only a few days before the rally the case against the <Mao Tsetung Defendants> was dismissed in a lower court and immediately appealed to a higher one. This was a real victory- the Government had been forced to back off.  poster

The party-initiated, Committee to Free the Mao Tsetung Defendants described the trumped up charges totalling up to a possible 241 years of jail time, and the government using legal means (with pending hearings in federal appeals court) against the Chairman and the 16 other Mao Defendants as part of a continuing plot and manoeuvre as the ruling class decides its next move.

Shortly after the dismissal, the prosecution appealed. And while the brief sat in the higher court, the ruling class went about the business of laying the basis to either get the Chairman in some other way or to bring back this particular attack on a more favorable basis for them. This began shortly later with a Secret Service investigation of Comrade AvaWan based on an L.A. Times article with a so-called quote proven—even later admitted—to have been false, concerning a. threat against Carter, continued through the 800 arrests of Party members and supporters in the course of building for revolutionary May Day 1980 and the murder of Damian Garcia just a week before it; and recently intensified both with a concentrated media campaign to brand the RCP as terrorists and with the arrest of 2 revolutionaries in Atlanta on the charge of advocating the overthrow of the government—carrying a 20-year jail term—with the main piece of evidence a poster publicizing the Revolutionary Worker with a quote from Comrade Avakian on it.

Revolutionary Worker No.77 October 24 1980

Damián García, who was closely associated with the RCP and who had raised a red flag on top of the Alamo a few weeks earlier as part of building for RCP-sponsored demonstrations on May Day 1980, was murdered in Los Angeles. Avakian told the Washington rally of the attacks that the party had withstood,

And even since the Greensboro incident, these attacks have continued to intensify, with firebombs being thrown into our offices, with bullets being shot into our offices, with direct threats being made to attack and destroy our Party headquarters in various parts of the country. And direct attacks have, for example, been made on one of the other Mao Tsetung Defendants not far from Greensboro in Durham, North Carolina.

Bob Avakian Speaks On The Mao Tsetung Defendants Railroad And The Historic Battle Ahead 1981

According to Avakian’s memoirs, within this same period there were growing reports of death threats against him from various quarters.

We know that they’re still carrying out COINTELPRO stuff”

The party was coming under intense scrutiny including a Secret Service “Investigation” of Bob Avakian.

Five hundred thirty-four pages of Secret Service documents concerning Bob Avakian and the RCP which were recently released through the Freedom of Information Act, makes clearer the top level government conspiracy to crush this revolutionary Party and wipe out its leadership.

Revolutionary Worker No. 46 March 21,1980

The majority of the materials released deal with the RCP and its activities in only the last two years, in particular since the January 29th demonstration in Washington, D.C. against Deng Xiaoping. This was said to be

merely the obvious tip of a giant, submerged iceberg of political surveillance, harassment and repression being carried out against the Revolutionary Communist Party, with special focus on its Chairman, Bob Avakian, in a coordinated nationwide massive effort by the U.S. Secret Service.

What did the material reveal? In part: clear indications of both informants and actual government agents infiltrating RCP activity and prosecution being actively considered against the RCP and its members on the charge of advocating the violent overthrow of the government. While fighting these charges, Avakian went on a national speaking tour in 1979 and while in Los Angeles, gave an interview to an L.A. Times reporter. In her article, the reporter attributed statements to Avakian that were distortions, which the Secret Service then used as a pretext for an investigation, the Secret Service’s ongoing attempt to frame Bob Avakian on the charge that he allegedly “threatened the life of the president.” After being threatened with a lawsuit, the L.A. Times printed a partial retraction. The Secret Service investigation was challenged in court, and nothing ever came of this investigation

campaign ad

“And I want to emphasize-politically-we’re going to be creating political turmoil and creating public opinion around this whole case and all the issues. Because this touches on all the fundamental issues of society and the world. It touches on the developments towards world war. It touches on the nature of the dictatorship in this country. It touches on the question of revolution. Many of the fundamental questions, political questions, of society and world affairs are going to be brought out in this trial.”

BA Interview with the Washington Post given in October 1979.

However, at the time of state attention and repression, after receiving an arrest warrant, Avakian “jumped bail” and fled to France. For years the only image was a picture of a bearded Avakian, wearing a flat cap, gazing solemnly at the camera, describing : “[t]he author in exile, in front of the Wall of Communards in Paris, 1981.”

And so he remains in exile, a man persecuted in his own land.untitled

Except he wasn’t. All charges against Bob Avakian were dropped in 1982, as he admits in his book, From Ike to Mao and Beyond. My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, a memoir by Bob Avakian [2006].

In 1982, after a three-year court battle, 17 members, the “Mao Tse Tung defendants”, were acquitted of felony charges for allegedly violent activity at a demonstration in Washington, D.C.

But the chairman was still on the run, even if nobody is chasing him in self-imposed exile in France for nearly 40 years until his return to the US where “Chairman Bob” is revered by his small party in terms suggestive that he is the architect of a New World. They have established the Bob Avakian Institute to promote his words and analysis. The hyperbolic presentation of Avakian [e,g, http://revcom.us/a/423/six-resolutions-of-the-Central-Committee-of-the-RCP-USA-en.html ] maintains that there is an ongoing and ever present danger to the person of Chairman Bob and the organization he leads. The propaganda campaigns to ‘defend BA’ – as Avakian is affectionately referred too – has included a relentless poster and publicity campaign and media stunts such as back in 2007 when a group of people including well known personalities like Chuck D, Cindy Sheehan, Cornel West and others 710YHPsNKOL__UX250_had signed an ad in the New York Review of Books urging everyone to “engage” with the thoughts of Bob Avakian, and calling for the government not to suppress his freedom of speech across a full page of The New York Review of Books: an advertisement featuring the boldface words, “Dangerous times demand courageous voices. Bob Avakian is such a voice.”

All this activism contrasts with where the RCP came from: during the New Communist Movement in the US they were the most significant movement outside of the Black Panthers when in the 1970s the RU/RCP-USA had a significant presence that was embedded in the working class throughout all of the US. The government considered them a threat from their foundation; the FBI eventually decided that they were the number one threat, worse than the Weather Underground: the declassified documents that illustrate how the FBI infiltrated and helped wreck the RCP-USA were explored in the book Heavy Radicals. Of course it is also worth pointing out that the RCP-USA’s degeneration into the cult of Avakian that it is today was not just the responsibility of counter-insurgency but, as Heavy Radicals makes this point, also of unhealthy internal practices. Avakian was one of four leaders of the original RU/RCP-USA and it is not until the final split, around the post-Mao leadership in China, that he ended up being the sole authority. It degenerated into a political sect that, based on the memory of its once importance, still imagines it represents communism itself. And because of its American exceptionalism imagines it is imposing Bob’s ideas (eg, the “new synthesis“) upon the entire international communist movement.