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A Marxist Critique of Raymond Williams

Posted by Taimur Rahman on October 29, 2008

One of the most influential ideas that came with the rise of modern art (dadaism in particular) is that one can be a complete novice in terms of skill or craft and yet be considered an artist simply by being able to convince others through the use of esoteric language. For instance, the urinal became a piece of art when it was taken from the toilet and put on display by Marsden Hartley in 1917. The Turner Prize committee even called it “the most influential work of modern art”. Homage was aptly paid to this piece of art when a performance artist named Pierre Pinoncelli urinated in it. Although Pinoncelli may not have meant any double meaning by his “performance”, my own view is that the Pinoncelli homage is truly what such art deserves.
It is much the same in the world of intellectual production. The most plain simple and straight forward concepts that do not depart in any way from everyday thinking dressed up in obscure, esoteric, abstract, and abstruse language can at once make it to the hall of fame within the bourgeois academy. This is because the bourgeois academy is recoiling from the science of Marxism, hence, any reversion to idealism that successfully takes on the garb of further development of thought is at once celebrated. This is the story of the rise of the so-called New Left as the alternative to Soviet or Stalinist Marxism. The Pinoncelli homage to the New Left was paid by post-modernism.
In internal discussion in the party the name of Raymond Williams was thrown about. Should we use Raymond William’s concepts of residual, dominant, and emergent to analyze Baloch nationalism? Is Raymond Williams’ analysis of nationalism more “refined” than the analysis of Lenin and Stalin? These questions were asked. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to respond to these legitimate queries and dealt with them in a summary fashion. However, upon further insistence, I have taken out some time to write this short response.
Raymond Williams’ essay “Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory” (New Left Review 1973) is considered ‘seminal’ within Cultural Studies. Hence, I will base this critique on this ‘seminal’ essay.
1) Distinction between “social being determines consciousness” and “base determines superstructure”
The first task that Williams undertakes is to introduce a distinction between the proposition that “social being determines consciousness” (SBDC) and “base determines superstructure” (BDS). He says that while SBDC is acceptable the BDS becomes “at times unacceptable” (see pg. 3).
The fact is that the BDS is a further elaboration by Karl Marx himself of what it means when he says that social being determines social consciousness. What is social being? Marx answers this question quite clearly. He says: “The first premise of all human history is, of course, the existence of living human individuals [i.e. social being]. Thus the first fact to be established is the physical organisation of these individuals and their consequent relation to the rest of nature” (Marx, German Ideology). The words “physical organisation of these individuals” is nothing other than the concept of relations of production and “relation to the rest of nature” is nothing other than the concept of productive forces. In other words, the passage states that the first facts to be established by a materialist study of any given society are the productive forces (relation to nature) and productive relations (physical organization of individuals). The proposition that SBDC inevitably points to the necessity of establishing the nature of productive forces and relations of production.
To accept on the one hand, that SBDC (as Raymond Williams does) and refuse on the other the distinction between the base and the superstructure is absurd. Social being is the economic base and social consciousness is the superstructure. SBDC and BDS are premised on the distinction between the world of being/production and the world of consciousness/superstructure. In other words, SBDC and BDS are two ways of saying the same thing.
(later I will demonstrate that this absurdity is the result of a concession to liberalism).
2) Qualifications on the use of the concept of “determination”
(note: “determination” and “determines” are the same thing. “Determines” is a verb and “determination” is a noun made by Williams to describe this concept)
Williams says that the relationship of “determination” is inherited from idealists (pg.4). The implication is obvious (although Williams does not make it explicit). Since “determination” is inherited from idealists it is problematic for materialists. On such grounds one should also reject dialectics since the concept of dialectics was also inherited from idealist philosophy. As a matter of fact one should reject most concepts that we work with today because the vast majority of concepts were developed on the terrain of idealism. This is once again absurd.
Just because a concept that encapsulates a relationship is inherited from idealists does not imply that it is by definition unusable for materialists. Materialism does not reject the whole of idealism. It rejects only the view that thought is independent of matter.
3) The inversion of “determination”
Williams continues that since Marx rejected “abstract determining consciousness” (i.e. God determines the will of Man) and inverted idealism (example, thought is not independent of matter but matter is independent of thought; or God does not create man, man creates God), Marx also inverted the concept of “determination”. This is like saying that Marx did not believe in God because he rejected determination, or Marx was an atheist because he believed that one thing could not be determined by another.
Take Williams and put him in simple language and you will quickly realize that he is talking complete childish rubbish. Marx did not reject God because he rejected or inverted the concept of determination. Marx rejected God because he understood that matter was independent of thought (as Lenin painstakingly points out in Materialism and Empriocriticism).
For Williams Marx alleged “inversion” of determination (for which he furnishes no evidence because none actually exists) does not imply “predict” or “prefigures” but “setting limits” and “exterting pressures”.
Firstly, this is not the fabled inversion that we were promised by Williams. A dialectical inversion occurs when the cause and effect are reversed (God created man, man created god). This is merely ascribing a different connotation to the word determines.
Secondly, look up any dictionary and one discovers that the word “determine” contains all these connotation. Determine: “control, decide, regulate, direct, dictate, govern, affect, influence, mould”. In that very paragraph Williams reminds us about his knowledge of European languages. He could have used that knowledge to remind us that the word determine comes from the Latin word “determinare” that means “to limit or to fix”. He could have pointed out that the word literally means “de” (completely) “terminate” (end, limit, boundary). Williams says that when Marx used the term determines he implied by it “setting limits and exerting pressures” not “prefigured, predicted and controlled”. Clearly the meaning of the word “determines” includes all of the above.
(I feel it important to add that I do not consider Marx’s words to be divine that I would feel that need to interpret and reinterpret every word he uses. Marx revised his own views and used different terms at different points in his life. The object of this exercise is to point out that Marx’s use of the word “determines” is, quite simply, correct.)
Williams should have avoided the entire tale of inversions dialectical inversions of determinations that make a mockery out of Marxism. But then I suppose such intellectual gymnastics are necessary in order to meet the objective of peddling childish ideas as great developments of thought.
4) Economic Base as an Object
Raymond Williams continues with qualifications that have been placed on the relationship between base and superstructure (he briefly touches upon those qualifications made by Marx and Engels themselves as well as the concept of “mediation” and homologous structures”). Since his object is not these qualifications, there is not much point in spending much time on them. The real concept that he wants to look at is the economic base.
He argues that the economic base has been considered in terms of a “uniform” “static” “an object”. The finger is naturally pointed at Soviet Marxists, Stalinists, and others that belong to organized communist parties. Indeed, the charge is a very serious one. It is almost convincing until one realizes that the cardinal principle of every communist party is that under capitalism the productive relations and productive forces are are coming in increasing contradiction the inevitable result of which is socialism? How can communist parties be accused of technocratic determinism (a charge made by Williams) on the one hand and on the other be accused of considering productive forces as “static”.
This knotty problem is solved when we read what Williams means when he says that the economic base has been considered “static”. Here are Williams’ examples of how the base has been conceptualized as “uniform”, “static” and “an object”.
a) “The base is the real social existence of man.”
b) “The case is the real relations of production corresponding to a stage of the development of material productive forces.”
c) “The base is a mode of production at a particular stage of development.”
In the first statement, nowhere is it implied that the “real social existence” of humanity is uniform or static. Similarly, the “social existence” of humanity is not an object, it is a relationship (SOCIAL existence).
In the second statement the non-static nature of the base is implied in the fact that there are various stages of development. There cannot be stages of development in a static, uniform entity. Furthermore, the base is defined in terms of “real relationship” not in terms of an object.
The third statement also talks about stages and development and hence cannot be static or uniform. It cannot be an object because a “mode of production” is defined in terms of relations.
I ask the reader, how do the above statements in anyway imply that the economic base is uniform, static or an object? It seems that Raymond Williams considers statement that define the economic base in terms of “real social existence”, “productive forces and relations” or “mode of production” the equivalent of defining the base static, uniform and an object.
Williams goes on to state that the productive forces and relations are so “active (that is, non-static and non-uniform) that the “metaphorical notion of the base could possibly allow us to realize”.
Why can the metaphor of the economic base(-superstructure) not capture that the base is active? Williams doesn’t bother to explain. He thinks it is enough for him merely to state a proposition and the reader will bow down in awe of it. Clearly there is nothing inherent in a metaphor that prevents one from describing active entities (she ran like the wind, he changed like a chameleon, they blossomed like flowers).
Hitherto all new-left intellectuals (including Williams) criticized Marxist-Leninist for considering only the economic base as active (and the super-structure as passive), now it seems Williams has concluded that we also consider the base as passive. Moreover, the only evidence for this brave new hypothesis are the statements that the base is the “real social relations” at “particular stage of development”.
5 ) Productive Labour and Productive Forces
Such complete confusion can be expected from Raymond who demonstrates his “rare” grasp of Marxism economics when he confuses the entire discussion on un-productive labour in the Grundrisse.
Raymond incorrectly argues that according to Marx distributers of pianos are also productive worker. In fact, Marx makes it very clear that workers that contribute to the realization of surplus-value are un-productive because a productive worker is defined by political economy as a workers that produces new surplus value (here again Williams incorrectly argues that productive laborers within capitalism are those engaged in commodity production because (a) commodity production is not the same as capitalist production (b) the distinction between productive and un-productive is based on the production or realization of surplus value).
Raymond makes a laughing stock out of himself when he concludes from this discussion that “piano-maker is base, but pianist superstructure” (pg 6). Neither the worker nor the pianist are base or superstructure. Because as Raymond himself pointed earlier (but apparently he did not pay enough attention to what he was himself writing) the base and superstructure is not an object or a person. It is a relationship/activity.
The activity (not individuals) of producing, distributing or consuming (i.e. purchasing and playing the piano) within capitalism are all part of the economic base. The superstructure is the ideological justification for the manner in which pianos are produced, distributed, consumed.
Williams follows up this complete confusion with the assertion that “Within [Marx’s] analysis of [capitalism], he had to give the notion of ‘productive labour’ and ‘productive forces’ a specialized sense of primary work on materials in a form which produced commodities” (pg 6).
Firstly, capitalism is not the same as commodity production. As Marx elaborates in Capital, commodity production precedes capitalism. Capitalism only begins where labour-power becomes a commodity. Secondly Williams puts ‘productive labour’ and ‘productive forces’ interchangeably. But this is totally incorrect. Productive labour is that labour that produces surplus-value within a society based on wage-labour (i.e. capitalism). Hence, the distinction between productive and un-productive labour is only applicable to capitalism. Productive forces is a category that encapsulates all history (including the history of humanity before class society). Marx was under no obligation to define ‘productive forces’ in in terms of commodity production. That would imply that before commodity production there were no productive forces? Last, Marx did not make “primary work on materials” a central definition of capitalism. The work could be purely intellectual (although even that requires some material). For Marx capitalism began with wage-labour regardless of the particular form that this work takes (manual, primary, secondary, with or without materials, intellectual or anything else).
It is on this completely erroneous argument (an argument that no Marxist-Leninist has ever advanced, its author is only Williams himself) that Williams asserts that productive forces have been understood only in capitalist terms.
6) Redefinition of Economic Base
His redefinition of the economic base is on the basis that “the most important thing a worker ever produces is himself, himself in the fact of that kind of labour”. Hence, all activity that reproduces the worker in the work is part of the economic base according to Raymond Williams. From this Williams concludes (later) that all artistic activity (production of culture) should be considered part of the economic base. He asserts that since Marxist-Leninist have understood the economic base only in capitalist terms (by which Williams means commodities production) “vital productive social forces” (by which Williams means the production of culture) have been dismissed as “superstructural, and in that sense as merely secondary”.
Williams entire emphasis boils down to the fact the production of art should be included in the economic base because it is a “vital productive social force” during which the artists reproduces him/herself in the work.
Firstly, categorizing something in the superstructure does not make it secondary or worthy of being dismissed. Secondly and more importantly, the economic base superstructure distinction is an theoretical abstraction. The economic base are the REAL relations between people, and the superstructure are the CONCEPTIONS of those relations (social being and social consciousness).
The production and distribution of art involves, both, economic relations between people and conceptions of those relations. Hence, in accordance with this definition of base-superstructure, aspects of the production of art are in the economic base while aspects are in the superstructure. This is because even the production and distribution of ideas involves a certain economic process. In sum, the conceptions of art are part of the superstructure while the production and distribution of art occurs through real economic relations.
Art, however, is recognized in society not by the economics of its distribution but by the beauty of its conception. Hence, it is understandable if the impression is created that art has nothing to do with the economic base. But one look at the large capitalist concerns that control the world of art (whether music, painting, performance, or some other craft) will reveal that economic relations are very much part of the production and distribution of works of art.
Williams redefinition of the economic base would completely destroy any distinction between the real and the conceptual.
7) Totality, Intention and Hegemony
This distinction is exactly what Williams destroys when he substitutes in the place of base and superstructure the notion of “totality” and “intention”. Thus, according to Williams, “social intentions” determine the structure and organization of the totality (i.e. society).
This is not Marxism but pure liberalism. For it was Marx’s great discovery that social relations are formed as a result of the level of development of productive forces. Hence, men enter relations “independent of their will”. Marx says ” The social structure and the State are continually evolving out of the life-process of definite individuals, but of individuals, not as they may appear in their own or other people’s imagination, but as they really are; i.e. as they operate, produce materially, and hence as they work under definite material limits, presuppositions and conditions independent of their will.”
Furthermore, Marx points out that the fact that huamns enter into relations that accord to productive forces and are hence indpendent of their will leads to the creation of a “social power” that stands above the individuals and forms a power alien to them. Marx writes “The social power, i.e., the multiplied productive force, which arises through the co-operation of different individuals as it is determined by the division of labour, appears to these individuals, since their co-operation is not voluntary but has come about naturally, not as their own united power, but as an alien force existing outside them, of the origin and goal of which they are ignorant, which they thus cannot control, which on the contrary passes through a peculiar series of phases and stages independent of the will and the action of man, nay even being the prime governor of these.”
In simple words, Williams has created a theory in which society (totality) can be molded and remolded in accordance merely with “intentions” that are entirely independent of objective reality (i.e. the level of development of productive forces). This is precisely the illusion that Marx fought against.
Once he has separated social ideas from its link to the economic base, all that remains for him is to link this to the concept of hegemony and to argue that “oppositional” forces (not proletarian forces) need to break this hegemony to attain emancipation. How is this to be accomplished?
8) Tripartite Division of Culture: Residual, Dominant and Emergent.
Raymond Williams makes a tripartite division of culture into residual, dominant, and emergent. What do these three terms mean?
Residual is what is left of the culture of the society that existed before
Dominant is the culture that exists today
Emergent is the culture that may come about tomorrow.
(This is very similar to what Comrade Prachanda stated when he said made a tripartite division in politics between reactionary, status-quo, and progressive. Arguably because Prachanda’s division were not dressed in obscure language it was considered simplistic. But when Raymond William dresses up the same tripartite division for culture, he was considered “refined”. In fact, both this tripartite division (whether in politics or culture) is deeply simplistic. Fortunately for us Prachanda never meant for this tripartite division to be taken as anything other than a rule of thumb (i.e. a simplifying heuristic). It is otherwise with Raymond Williams and the crew of the Cultural Studies that quite literally worships at the alter of this tripartite division.)
But what is it about this tripartite division (in politics or culture) that is a retreat from Marxism? It is quite simply that the division between the past, present and future is arguably one of the oldest concept in human thinking. Greek thinkers developed the continuity and interconnection between them as early as Heraclitus of Ephesus who argued that inner strife and opposition were the cause of constant change. On an idealist terrain this tripartite dialectic reached its highest level of development in Hegel.
Marxism’s key advance was the fact that he linked this dialectic of change to the contradiction between the productive forces and relations of production (i.e. class struggle). It was Marx that argued that the contending ideas of every epoch in history(superstructure) were really the ideological expression of contradictions present within the economic base (i.e. productive forces and relations).
It precisely this advance that Raymond Williams militates against. Hence, this tripartite division has no link to the struggles of the working class. Anything from dadism to abstract art can be considered oppositional or emergent. Raymond Williams explicitly says “there are no relations between literature and society in that abstracted way” He explains this further by saying “if we are looking at the relationship between literature and society, we cannot either separate out this one practice from a formed body of other practices, nor when we have identified the particular practice can we give it a uniform, static, and ahistorical relation to some abstract social formation”. In other words, art and literature are connected to social practice but not to society or to social formations.
While paying lip service to the class struggle, the entire theory undercuts the notion of class struggle.
It far better to think of culture in class term within the form of national culture (the culture of particular classes within particular nations). That would then give us a far more complex picture of society and culture rather than a simplistic tripartite division. The contestations within culture would tell us about the contestation of classes in society. And we can think not in terms of three strands within culture but as many cultures as there are classes in a given society.
The political tripartite division is simplistic because it tells us nothing about the character of the forces under consideration, nor anything about their relationship to each other. It is far more accurate to call forces of change or reaction by their class names (bourgeois, proletariat, peasant, feudal, patriarchal and so on).
9) Capitalism is not Exhausting Human Creativity
Finally, Williams indirectly concludes that capitalist society and capitalist culture has not exhausted human energy (i.e. it is not leading to barbarism). He says “no mode of production, and therefore no dominant society or order of society, and therefore no dominant culture, in reality exhausts human practice, human energy, and human intention.” Hence, Williams conclusion is that human energy, creativity can continue to expand even on the basis of capitalism, feudalism, Asiatic society, slave society and so on (since no mode of production can exhaust human energy).
Conclusion
Now comrades we see that the main contours of Raymond Williams’ theory is nothing other than bourgeoisie liberalism that pays lip service to Marxism.
First, he makes a completely ridiculous distinction between Distinction between “social being determines consciousness” and “base determines superstructure”. Second, his attempt to quality or invert the concept of determination is fraught with contradictions and complete confusion. Third, he makes a caricature of Marxism-Leninism by stating that the economic base is static. Fourth, his understanding of Marxian economics is demonstrated by his inability to understand the difference between productive forces and productive labour. On this basis he reconstructs notions about the economic base that completely destroy the fundamental discoveries of historical materialism. In their stead, he substitutes common place liberal notions based on simplistic tripartite divisions. And concludes by indirectly stating that human energy and creativity is not being dampened by capitalism.
Now, I ask you, the refined views of Raymond Williams are the same refined views that we have heard from the bourgeoisie since its inception. It is only the bourgeoisie, therefore, that can consider these views to be more refined that the revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism.
Long Live Marxism-Leninism
Down with New-Left Liberalism
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Posted in International Communist Movement, Marxist Theory | Comments Off on A Marxist Critique of Raymond Williams

“Broad Left” a new slogan for social-democracy

Posted by Taimur Rahman on October 8, 2008

During much of the twentieth century social-democracy was internationally defeated by Marxism-Leninism. Around the world the working class movement was dominated by communist parties. However, the breakup of the Soviet Union and the perceived defeat of Marxism-Leninism has once again offered social-democracy a new lease of life. Today we are witness to the periodic revamping of social-democracy as the “broad left” in order to resurrect their fortunes.

Marxists have identified social-democratic politics as the “bourgeois politics of the working class”. They have considered them agents of the bourgeoisie within the working class movement. Lenin declared that the struggle against imperialism was a sham if it was not combined with the struggle against opportunism within the working class (read social-democracy).

In Pakistan as well we see a revival of this social-democratic trend under a new name every few years. When I joined left wing politics there was the charcha about the National Workers Party. Three left-wing parties got together to form a new party. They said goodbye to Marxism-Leninism (although many continued to consider themselves as communists) and formed what they considered a “broad left” party.

Then the old professeran group got together and wanted to form a broad left debating forum that would eventually lead to a party. But they couldn’t agree on whether or not there was such a thing as imperialism. The result was the Awami Jamhoori Forum. I often wonder why they don’t join the NWP since their politics is scarcely any different.

Even more recently members of the communist party that had given up politics more than a decade ago decided that the time for broad left politics had come. They formed the Inqalabi Jamhoori Workers Committee and are working incessantly for a “broad left” party.

But what are the principles of this “broad left”? Each of them explain that a broad left party will not be a Marxist-Leninist party. But it will be a party that includes Marxists (or even mostly Marxists). It will only exclude anti-Marxists. In other words, it will include everyone that is centre or centre left but it will exclude right-wing people.

I once asked in a straight forward manner, will such a broad left party uphold the point of view that the emancipation of the working class requires the dictatorship of the proletariat (i.e. the class rule of the working class). I received the idiotic response that the broad left is opposed to all forms of dictatorship, whether of the proletariat, military or mullah. Now one really has to scratch one’s head and wonder where these so-called former communists have been living if they do not even understand the distinction between the concept of the dictatorship of a class and dictatorship of the bourgeois military.

Bourgeois democracy and military dictatorship are two different forms of the class rule of the bourgeoisie. As far as Marxism is concerned they are two different forms of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Similarly, the dictatorship of the working class (i.e. the class rule of the working class) can also assume different forms (ranging from the more democratic to more authoritarian).

Only those that are completely unversed in Marx’s use of the term dictatorship of the proletariat can confuse the concept with military dictatorship. One certainly does not expect those that have been members of the communist party for nearly their entire lives to make such idiotic statements. Such statements are normally the exclusive preserve of those that learn about Marxism from Time magazine or Reader’s Digest.

In sum, such a broad left party is opposed to Marxism. A working class party cannot be forged out of such confusion. It can only be forged in the ideological struggle against such confusion. Such a party would descend into complete chaos. The Marxist section would be working towards the building of an organization that is working towards the smashing of the current state. The other section would be opposed to any politics that aims at anything further than extracting concessions from the state.

Furthermore, given the stronger financial resources of the social-democrats and the support that they receive from the liberal sections of the bourgeoisie (with whom they are connected with a thousand different threads), the Marxist section of the party would not be able to dominate in such an organization. Hence, the dissolving of a Marxist party into this broad confusion would only lead to the liquidation of the Marxist vanguard.

This criticism of social-democratic politics is well-established among communists. But let us also turn to the situation in Pakistan. What are the options for a broad left organization? The National Workers Party, Labour Party, and Awami Tehreek are sitting inside the right-wing APDM. They are aligned with the most right-wing opponents of the democratic government. How can the CMKP form a broad left party with these organizations when we have a fundamental disagreement with their choice of friends and enemies. Can we form one party when they are sitting with the Jamaat e Islami and under the patronage of General Hameed Gul raising slogans against the democratic government, and we are opposing the APDM tooth and nail.

Furthermore, historically their attitude towards us has been one of hostility to the point that preferred to make an alliance with the openly pro-military (Sherpao) MKP than with the CMKP. In other words, they can sit with anyone, from the fundamentalists to the pro-military parties, but they don’t want to sit anywhere close to communists.

And what is most disturbing of all is that all of these alliances and mergers add no new forces to the left. These are the same faces that we have seen for the last two three decades. Few new people have been added to their ranks at all. In other words, all these efforts represent a reshuffling, a re-ordering of the same people but along social-democratic lines.

The CMKP is the only Marxist party that can claim to have actually broken new ground and influenced a new generation of activists. Quite frankly, this new generation of activists are completely uninspired by the defeatist social-democracy of the old left. When I walk out of their meetings I feel more depressed than when I go in. It isn’t the size of the meeting nor the age of its participants that leads to this feeling. It is the constance defeatism reiterated a thousand different ways that destroys all morale. How can one build an organization on the basis of such defeatism?

When we started our work, this defeatist left lambasted with the opinion that people will not follow a staunch Marxist party. But the last decade of struggle has revealed the exact opposite. Our ranks have grown with new young people. And the defeatist left has become liquidationist and even capitulated to the APDM in the hopes of a little lime-light.

Let us do away with the illusion of a social-democratic broad left. What we need in Pakistan is a Marxist-Leninist party. What we need in Pakistan is a Communist Party.

Posted in History, International Communist Movement, Marxist Theory, Pakistani Politics, Politics | Comments Off on “Broad Left” a new slogan for social-democracy

About ML and MLM

Posted by Taimur Rahman on August 20, 2006

Dear comrade,

Thank you for your response. Nothing would make me happier than to
discover my mistakes. You wrote:

About Poland
————

You wrote: “the RIM did not think that it was ok to ally itself with
one imperialism againt one other. Saying that the RIM supported
Solidarnosc is merely a lie. What they would do today in the same
case is another point 🙂

My response: As history has shown, the Soviet Union was not a
capitalist country (and certainly not an imperialist country). It
was a socialist society, ruled after Stalin by modern revisionists
but nonetheless not a capitalist or imperialist society (the latter
cannot exist without the existence of private property and finance
capital unless one wants to make a complete mockery out of Marxian
political economy). Therefore, neutrality in the conflict between
the USA and USSR is an equally opportunist position.

If one cannot be ‘neutral’ in the conflict between bourgeois
democrats and bourgoeis fascists or between a bourgeois national
government and an invading imperial army, as the actions of Stalin
and Mao in the Second World War respectively testify, than one
cannot be neutral in the struggle between the infinitely more
progressive USSR in relation to US imperialism.

About Solidarity
—————-

I provided the quotation. You read it. Here is my evidence again:

“In the capitalist and imperialist countries of the Eastern bloc
important cracks and fissures in the relative stability of the rule
by the state-capitalist bourgeoisie are more and more apparent. In
Poland the proletariat and other sections of the masses have risen
in struggle and delivered powerful blows to the established order.
In these countries, also, possibilities for proletarian revolution
are developing and will be heightened by the development and
intensification of world contradictions.”
http://www.csrp.org/rim/rimdec.htm

Anyone in the least familiar with recent polish history knows that
the force delivering “powerful blows to the established order” in
the early 1980s was none other than Solidarity (keep in mind that
the RIM document was written in March 1984).

You wrote: “What they would do today in the same case is another
point :)”
My response: I have no idea what you mean by that statement. Please
explain.

“New Democratic Revolution”
—————————

You wrote “you made a huge error in putting imperialist Russia (that
had feudal elements) and oppressed Cuba. It is a fact that Stalin
put forward the new democratic revolution…”

My response: Obviously then you have misunderstood entirely my
critique of RIM’s views. I am not saying that third world countries
are not standing at the stage of a New Democratic Revolution or a
People’s Democratic Revolution. What I am saying is that “preached
a line of combining revolutionary stages into one single “socialist”
revolution” is not an anti-Leninist position—Lenin, Stalin and Mao
all upheld that degree of separation of the stages depends on the
subjective and objective conditions of every society and more
specifically on the level of development of the class consciousness
of the proletariat. RIM errs when it claims that “preaching” a
program of “socialist revolution” is tantamount to appealing to
workers on the “narrowest of bases”.

What stage was the historical evolution European society during the
time of Karl Marx? With the exception of a few countries (France,
Britain, Holland) most European countries were either approaching or
undergoing the bourgeois-democratic stage of the revolution. Marx
and Engels fully understood that there was only an extremely remote
possibility of a socialist revolution in their own lifetimes. Did
that stop them from developing or “preaching” the socialist
program? Did they for a moment think that the development of a
Communist League should be abandoned because it would be tantamount
to appealing to the workers on the “narrowest bases”?

We thus learn from the great historical example of Karl Marx that
even when the stage of the struggle is purely bourgeois-democratic
communists must work to create an independent workers party whose
objective is a socialist revolution. If the Cubans “preached a line
of combining revolutionary stages into one single “socialist”
revolution” they did nothing that runs against the grain of
Marxism.

Hoxhaism
———

You wrote: “Maoist criticize Hoxha as trotskyist for example for
saying that all countries in the world are capitalist (like the
trotskyists), i.e. for rejecting the thesis of bureaucratic
capitalism : for maoists oppressed countries are semi-colonial semi-
feudal.”

Hoxhaists are Trotskyists because they reject the thesis of
bureaucratic capitalism? I’m completely stumped. Is the rejection
of the “thesis of bureaucratic capitalism” defining features of
Trotskyism? The defining features of Trotskyism are:

1) The rejection of the thesis of the possibility of socialism
in one country
2) The thesis on bureaucratic deformations and the rise
of “Stalinism”
3) The thesis of Permanent Revolution

If a party does not uphold these views it is not a Trotskyite
party. Is that so hard to grasp?

Soviet Social Imperialism
————————-

You wrote: “people upholding Mao or Hoxha both consider the Soviet
Union as “social-imperialist”.”

My response: What matters is not who holds these views but whether
they can be corroborated by facts. If a thesis cannot be proven by
facts, we would reject it even if it was held by Karl Marx. The
thesis about “Soviet Social Imperialism” opened the door within the
anti-revisionist movement to opportunist and revisionist tendencies
of all shapes and stripes.

Cuba
—-

You wrote: “the thesis of Bhagat Singh is quite strange on this
level if we compare to the ones of the international communist
movement. Defending stalin and cuba, as cuba never upholded Stalin
in any way, is onlye defended by some rare groups : the DHKP/C of
Turkey or some french marxists-leninists that recently left the CP.”

My response: Yes but unlike the Maoists and Hoxhaists, we do not
subscribe to the view that a communist leader has to be correct on
every single question every single time in order for us to consider
him/her a Marxist-Leninist. Lenin’s attitude towards Rosa Luxemberg
is very instructive on this issue. Lenin wrote about Rosa:

“We shall reply to this by quoting two lines from a Russian
fable, `Eagles may at times fly lower than hens but hens can never
rise to the height of eagles’. Rosa Luxemburg was mistaken on the
question of the independence of Poland; she was mistaken in 1903 in
her appraisal of Menshevism; she was mistaken on the theory of
accumulation of capital; she was mistaken in July 1914, when,
together with Plekhanov, Vandervelde, Kautsky and others she
advocated unity between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks; she was
mistaken in what she wrote in prison in 1918 (She corrected most of
these mistakes at the end of 1918 and the beginning of 1919 when she
was released). But inspite of her mistakes she was and remains for
us an eagle. And not only will Communists all over the world cherish
her memory, but her biography and her complete works will serve as
useful manuals for training many generations of communists all over
the world. `Since August 4, 1914, German social-democracy has become
a stinking corpse’ — this statement will make Rosa Luxemburg’s name
famous in the history of the international working class movement.
And, of course, in the backyard of the working class movement, among
the dungheaps, hens like Paul Levi, Scheidemann, Kautsky and all
their fraternity will cackle over the mistakes committed by the
great Communist”. (Lenin, Notes of a Publicist, Vol. 33).

Lenin upheld that Rosa was an “Eagle” (that is a great Marxist
leader) because despite her mistakes her overall contributions were
great and perhaps most importantly because she fought and gave her
life against the most important question of her time: The World
War. On this crucial question Rosa and Karl Liebnecht struggled
against the opportunism of the second international that supported
imperialism under the slogan of “defence of the fatherland”.

Similarly, we uphold that Fidel Castro is a great Marxist-Leninist
because despite his mistaken position on Stalin and Gorbachev he
defended and even advanced socialism in Cuba and Latin America at a
time when the entire socialist block disintegrated from the
corrosive influence of revisionism. Despite all the difficulties
around him, he successfully steered Cuba against the longest
standing embargo in history by the largest military and economic
power in history in a period of complete international isolation.
He fulfilled the promise he made in 1962 that he would remain a
Marxist-Leninist until the day he died. Is that not true? Despite
the enormous historical defeat of socialism is he not defending the
essential ideas of socialism till his very last breath?

More importantly since our evaluation pertaining to the economic and
political foundations of a society (i.e. whether it is capitalist or
socialist) is not `exclusively’ tied to the political position of
its leadership (as is the case with Maoism and Hoxhaism) but is
rather based on an objective assessment of the economic & political
structures of that society, we uphold that a society may be
socialist even while we disagree, even sharply, with its political
leadership.

Both Maoism and Hoxhaism uphold that when the “leadership” of a
socialist state falls into the hands of revisionists the socialist
state becomes a capitalist state. That was the basis upon which it
was asserted that the Soviet Union was capitalist after the death of
Stalin. Similarly, it was the basis upon which it was asserted that
China was capitalist after the death of Mao (or the defeat of the so-
called Gang of Four and Lin Piao). I wouldn’t be surprised if after
Hoxha came to the conclusion that Mao was a revisionist he
pronounced China a capitalist country.

The bases upon which these pronouncements are being made are not
merely common to Hoxhaism and Maoism but also belong exclusively to
them.

I hope that clarifies our position further. Look forward to hearing
from you on these questions.

In solidarity
Taimur Rahman

Posted in International Communist Movement | Comments Off on About ML and MLM

Contributions of Mao Tsetung

Posted by Taimur Rahman on August 20, 2006

Comrade Mansoor, with all due respect I think you have completely misunderstood the question under discussion. Let me begin by telling you what the debate is NOT about.

1) The debate is not about whether the contributions of Mao Tsetung to Marxism-Leninism were quantitative or qualititive. Niether is the debate about the philosophical, political, or economic contributions of Mao TseTung. They are of world historic proportions whether
parties attach his name or not.

2) The debate is not about the differentiation between “Maoism” and “Mao Tsetung Thought”. Although these are distinct tendencies, but this distinction is largely irrelevant given what we are discussing.

3) The debate is certainly not about denominations within Marxism. Marxism is a science not a religion.

4) The debate is not about whether or not to support the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). We unconditionally support the CPN(m) against the Monarchy.

The debate is about the political position with respect to the international communist movement of the organizations that claim to uphold the legacy of Mao.

Clear I hope.

You wrote “I profoundly disagreed with Mao’s negative stance on the creation of Bangladesh and did not hesitate to criticise the CPC in 1971 in open publications.”

My response: The impression in Pakistan was that China did not support the independence of Bangladesh. Can you please provide evidence. This is extremely interesting. This information will bring a completely new twist to debates within Pakistan.

I support the right of self-determination of the people of Bangladesh. What the people of Bengal wanted was crystal clear from the election results of 1970. If the CPC supported the right of the people of Bengal to create their own state, the only thing they are
guilty of doing is following Lenin’s views on the national question.

You wrote “While I agreed with the characterisation of the USSR as social-imperialist, I did not agreee that it was to be treated as more dangerous than the USA, and thus disagreed with several harmful but unnecessary manifestations of that characterisation.”

My response: If the USSR was indeed an imperialist state, support for the nationalist movements in Eastern Europe, Central Asia follow as a logical necessity. In other words, critical support for Solidarity of Poland, Sajudis of Lithuania, the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, Prague Springs in Czechoslovakia, and so on in relation to the USSR. Naturally if the USSR was an imperial power it follows quite logically that these were the equivalent of bourgeois national
liberation movements.

Strange then that the living conditions of people were so much better under the ‘imperial’ influence of the Soviet Union than in the period of ‘liberty’. Ironic no?

Strange that in this Soviet ‘imperalism’ the colonies (i.e. Eastern Europe) actually enjoyed a better standard of living than the people of the imperial country (i.e. Russia). Ironic no?

Strange that the colonies like Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea, Egypt and so many others were subsidized by the imperial power. That surplus moved from the imperial capital to the periphery. Ironic no?

‘Liberty’ from Soviet imperialism was wonderful because it finally gave real and meaningful ‘liberty’ to the people of the Soviet Union, that is the ‘liberty’ to sell their labour-power to the highest bidder (i.e. Western Capitalism). How strange that ‘liberty’ condemned millions of poverty, prostitution, and the whims of the mafia. Ironic no?

How strange that this ‘capitalist’ ‘imperalist’ power experienced an event in 1991 which was pronounced the world over as the “death of socialism”. But according to the analysis of ‘soviet social imperialsm’ the bourgeoisie was already in power. Apparently millions of people were making a fuss about nothing. Ironic no?

It is time to bury the hatchet Comrade Mansoor. The entire ‘soviet-imperialism’ analysis is about as worthy as a soiled diaper.

In solidarity
Taimur Rahman

P.S. Dear comrade Mansoor, none of my remarks should be interpreted as attacks against you personally. I’m poking fun at the theory of soviet social imperialism and not at you as an individual. I respect you as a comrade.

Posted in International Communist Movement | Comments Off on Contributions of Mao Tsetung

Why Maoism is Left Revisionism?

Posted by Taimur Rahman on August 18, 2006

As a supplement to what Bhagat Singh has written I would like to bring to the forum three points of disagreement with the founding document of RIM (one of the main international centers that promote Marxism-Leninism-Maoism).

Poland: Support for Solidarity by RIM

“In the capitalist and imperialist countries of the Eastern bloc important cracks and fissures in the relative stability of the rule by the state-capitalist bourgeoisie are more and more apparent. In Poland the proletariat and other sections of the masses have risen in struggle and delivered powerful blows to the established order. In these countries, also, possibilities for proletarian revolution are developing and will be heightened by the development and intensification of world contradictions.”
http://www.csrp.org/rim/rimdec.htm

This document, signed by the constituting members of the Revolutionary International Movement in March 1984, clearly argues that the Eastern European countries were “capitalist and imperialist” and ruled by a “state-capitalist bourgeoisie”. Against this established order in Poland “the proletariat and other sections of the masses have risen in struggle”. Is there any doubt that this is a clear reference to the growth of Solidarity in the early 1980s in Poland?

The fact that the growth of this CIA funded reactionary trade-union Solidarity that culminated in the counter-revolution across Eastern Europe after their electoral victory of in 1989 could be viewed by RIM as signaling the “possibilities for proletarian revolution” is about as clever as claiming that neo-liberals are socialists. What results other than defeat could the anti-revisionists expect when the leadership of these parties did not merely fail to recognize the counter-revolutionary and imperialist character of Solidarity but led others to believe that the growth of this movement presented the possibility of the development of a proletariat revolution?

On “Cuban Revisionism”

“However this openly capitulationist, right-wing revisionism always corresponded with, and has become increasingly intermingled with, a kind of “left” armed revisionism, promoted at times by the Cuban leadership and others, which separated the armed struggle from the masses and preached a line of combining revolutionary stages into one single “socialist” revolution, which in fact meant appealing to the workers on the narrowest of bases and negating the necessity of the working class to lead the peasantry and others in thoroughly eliminating imperialism and the backward and distorted economic and social relations that foreign capital thrives on and reinforces. Today this form of revisionism is one of the major planks of the social-imperialist attempt to penetrate and control national liberation struggles.”

The attempt to combine the bourgeois democratic and proletarian stages into one single socialist revolution is not a revisionist but a Leninist position. Please note here is what Lenin wrote as far back as 1905.

From the democratic revolution we shall at once, and just in accordance with the measure of our strength, the strength of the class-conscious and organised proletariat, begin to pass to the socialist revolution. We stand for uninterrupted revolution. We shall not stop halfway…

Without succumbing to adventurism or going against our scientific conscience, without striving for cheap popularity, we can and do say only one thing: we shall put every effort into assisting the entire peasantry to carry out the democratic revolution in order thereby to make it easier for us, the party of the proletariat, to pass on, as quickly as possible, to the new and higher task—the socialist revolution.[1] [emphasis added]

On the fourth anniversary of the October Revolution, sixteen years after the above quotation, Lenin wrote:

The Kautskys, Hilferdings, Martovs, Chernovs, Hillquits, Longuets, MacDonalds, Turatis, and other heroes of ‘Two-and-a-Half’ Marxism were incapable of understanding… the relation between the bourgeois-democratic and the proletarian-socialist revolutions. The first grows over into the second. The second, in passing solves the questions of the first. The second consolidates the work of the first. Struggle, and struggle alone, decides how far the second succeeds in outgrowing the first. [2] [emphasis added]

Similarly, in The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky Lenin wrote,

Things have turned out just as we said they would. The course taken by the revolution has confirmed the correctness of our reasoning. First, with the “whole” of the peasantry against the monarchy, against the landlords, against the medieval regime (and to that extent, the revolution remains bourgeois, bourgeois-democratic). Then, with the poor peasants, with the semi-proletarians, with all the exploited, against capitalism, including the rural rich, the kulak, the profiteers, and to that extent the revolution becomes a socialist one. To attempt to raise an artificial Chinese wall between the first and second, to separate them by anything else than the degree of preparedness of the proletariat and the degree of its unity with the poor peasants, means monstrously to distort Marxism, to vulgarize it, to substitute liberalism in its place. It means smuggling in a reactionary defense of the bourgeoisie against the socialist proletariat by means of quasi-scientific references to the progressive character of the bourgeoisie as compared with medievalism.[3]

Notice that the Russian Revolution passed from the bourgeois democratic stage of the revolution directly into the socialist phase of the revolution without interruption. Lenin correctly argued that the bourgeois and proletarian revolution could become telescoped into one revolutionary crisis contingent upon the revolutionary preparedness of the proletariat. He summed up this idea perfectly in the phrase “struggle and struggle alone, decides how far the second succeeds in outgrowing the first”. Stalin held the same view as Lenin and wrote:

Consequently, Lenin fought the adherents of ‘permanent’ revolution, not over the question of uninterruptedness, for Lenin himself maintained the point of view of uninterrupted revolution, but because they underestimated the role of the peasantry, which is an enormous reserve of the proletariat….[4]

The RIM statement upholds the opportunist view that a substantial period of development between the democratic and socialist stages of the revolution is necessary. How can the revolutionary preparedness of the proletariat, the key factor according to Lenin that determines “how far the second succeeds in outgrowing the first”, take place if revolutionaries are prohibited from organizing them for a socialist revolution?

Further the RIM statement implies that organizing around a socialist program will repel not merely “the others” (we can assume RIM implies the progressive sections of the petty or national bourgeoisie) but even the peasantry. Now it should be very clear that such a thesis is flawed not merely because it misrepresents the position of pro-Cuban communists on the Agrarian question (to my knowledge they have not eliminated commodity production in agriculture but merely engaged in redistributing the property of landlords, i.e. no communes have been built) but more importantly because it completely underestimates the revolutionary potential of the peasantry. The view that the peasantry would recoil from the democratic revolution at the prospect of a proletariat socialist revolution belongs exclusively to the anti-Leninist camp. In sum, this position implies that the proletariat should remain within the ideological confines of the revolutionary bourgeois-democratic program of the peasantry. In one word, far from bestowing on the proletariat the role of leadership, it advocates a position that subordinates the socialist-proletariat to the bourgeois democratic peasantry. That the peasantry has to go through several stages of revolutionary transformation is a foregone conclusion but how quickly these transformations occur is contingent on the level of class-consciousness and organization of the proletariat.

RIM on Hoxha

“At the same time, revisionism in its dogmatic form continues to be a bitter enemy of revolutionary Marxism. This current, most sharply expressed in the political line of Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour of Albania, attacks Mao Tsetung Thought, the path of the Chinese Revolution and especially the experience of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Masquerading as defenders of Stalin (when in fact many of their theses are Trotskyites), these revisionists soil the genuine revolutionary heritage of Stalin. These imposters use the shortcomings and errors of the international communist movement, and not its achievements in order to buttress up their revisionist-trotskyite line, and demand that the international communist movement follow suit on the basis of a return to some mystical “doctrinal purity”. The many features this Hoxhaite line shares with classical revisionism, including the ability of Soviet revisionism (as well as reaction in general) to promote and/or profit from both openly anti-Leninist “Euro-communism” and Hoxha’s disguised anti-Leninism at the same time, are testimony to their common bourgeois ideological basis.”

I’m at a complete loss to explain how Hoxhaism has anything in common with Trotskyism. Does Hoxhaism uphold that socialism cannot be built in one country? Does Hoxhaism uphold that after the death of Lenin a “Stalinist bureaucracy” took power in the name of the proletariat and the USSR became a “degenerated workers state”? Do Hoxhaists uphold the thesis of “permanent revolution”?

One has merely to state the positions associated with Trotskyism to realize that a world of a difference separates Trotskyism from Hoxhaism.

I strongly disagree with Hoxha’s assessment of Mao Tse-Tung but it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine that Hoxha was organizing on the basis of a Trotskyite thesis. I’m sure the Trotskyites are falling over themselves with laughter at the utter inanity of this statement.

Clearly then RIM is using the term “Trotskyism” as a pejorative description without realizing that such unscientific statements make a laughing stock of the science of Marxism.

I hope we can constructively engage with members of RIM on these and other questions on our forum.

In solidarity
Taimur Rahman

——————————————————————————–

[1] V.I. Lenin, “The Attitude of Social-Democracy Towards the Peasant Movement”, Vol. VIII, pp. 186-87, September 1905 (pg. 167).
[2] V. I. Lenin, “Fourth Anniversary of the October Revolution”, Vol. XXVII p. 26, October 1921 (pg. 167).
[3] V. I. Lenin, “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky”, October-November 1918, Foreign Languages Press Peking 1970 (pg. 97-98).
[4] J.V. Stalin, “The Foundations of Leninism”, J. V. Stalin Works, Vol. 6, pp, 34 (pg. 165).

Posted in International Communist Movement | Comments Off on Why Maoism is Left Revisionism?

Incorrect Criticism of CPP II

Posted by Taimur Rahman on August 8, 2006

You wrote “After the split we never asked your Chairman to join our party instead at the flate of your G Secretary he asked us to have a merger again and we told him, it is not so simple and this is not the time.You can confirm it with your G,Sec.”

Then you should also know that it was I who pushed forward the idea of reuniting the CMKP and the CPP in the September 2003 National Council meeting of the CMKP in Multan. It was at that meeting that the National Council entrusted me with the responsibility of writing
a program of a united front which eventually, with some modifications, became the program of the Joint Left Front. It was as a result of the decisions of that National Council meeting that
the general secretary of our party approached you despite all the water that had passed under the bridge between our organizations.

That entire process led in to culmination of the JLF which was so stupidly scuttled by both our organizations thanks in particular to comrade Jamil Malik.

You wrote “Imdad Qazi and Chacha Maula bux were expelled from CMKP without any reason and before the congress they requested to withdraw the expulsion letter but your people refused thats why they walked out and had a seprate congress.confirm it with your seniors if any one left to tell the truth.”

The real question that needs to be answered, aside from why notable members of the current CPP were not able to win leading positions in that Congress, is what was wrong with the 5th Congress such that another Congress needed to be called? What were the ideological
mistakes in that Congress? Why was it so imperative to split the party and why could those struggles not be fought within the party?

There is no analysis of this important question; merely accusations without evidence.

You wrote “Would you please pause for a second and read our email again.In your enthusiasm you have far fetched things and drawn conclusion which we never meant.We just tried to clarify those lies which your comrade Hamza put forward about The disintegration of
Communist Party of Pakistan after the Pindi conspiracy case, about Imdad Qazi and khrushchev’s National democracy.We think It was malicious, dishonest and delibrate.You didnt answer or subsanciate any of those lies but you embarked upon questioning our moral
credibility instead of asking your comrade to stop telling lies.”

My response: Refer to messages number 6108 and 6137. You will see that I have replied to Hamza’s accusations and position before and in greater detail than you have.

I never questioned your “moral credibility”. I did however question the intellectual caliber of your reply, which all on this list will agree, was no different from the one in which you were accused. You will never convince anyone by responding to unsubstantiated malicious accusations with other unsubstantiated malicious accusations. Respond with the truth. Tell us,

1) What was and is the stand of the CPP on the 20th Congress
and on the historic role of Khrushchev
2) Was the CPP following a line of “National
Democracy” “Peoples Democracy” or some other line and what did these
lines mean in political and class terms.
3) Clarify your position on the National Question and in
particular on the current crisis in Balochistan. Do you, or do you
not uphold the right of the Baloch people to self-determination
including secession?

You wrote “We never denied the contribution of Mao in the world communist movement especialy on united front.”
My response: But you are not addressing the critique of Modern Revisionism raised by comrade Mao and Hoxha. Barring their other real or alleged mistakes, there was something of vital important in that critique. Why don’t we start with the “Nine Commentaries on the Open Letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU by the Editorial Departments of Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) and Hongqi (Red Flag)” which included:
1) The Origin and Development of the Differences Between the
Leadership of the CPSU and Ourselves (September 6, 1963)
2) On the Question of Stalin (September 13, 1963)
3) Is Yugoslavia a Socialist Country? (September 26, 1963)
4) Apologists of Neo-Colonialism (October 22, 1963)
5) Two Different Lines on the Question of War and Peace
(November 19, 1963)
6) Peaceful Coexistence–Two Diametrically Opposed Policies
(December 12, 1963)
7) The Leaders of the CPSU are the Greatest Splitters of Our
Time (February 4, 1964)
8) The Proletarian Revolution and Khrushchov’s Revisionism
(March 31, 1964)
9) On Khrushchov’s Phoney Communism and its Historical Lessons
for the World(July 14, 1964)
What needs clear definition is a statement on the position contained
in these letters. Please read them and comment on them.

Incidentally, the CPI(m) has this to say about the entire Khrushchev affair:

“Once again in 1968, at the Burdwan Plenum on ideological issues, the CPI(M) had to carry forward this relentless struggle against modern revisionism advocated by the CPSU headed by Khruschchev.”

“The 20th Congress of the CPSU must also been seen in this light, as an attempt made in the name of estimating the correlation of forces under changed circumstances. The victory over fascism and the consequent international developments heightened the prestige and increased the influence of world socialism in general and USSR in particular. But instead of utilising these positive factors for enriching socialism, the gross distortion of the Leninist concept of peaceful coexistence and the advocacy of peaceful competition and peaceful transition by the CPSU leadership under Khruschchev, threw the door open for revisionism and class collaboration of the worst kind. As a consequence, many a communist party was virtually decimated leaving the international communist movement much emasculated.”
http://cpim.org/documents/1992_on_ideological_issues.htm

What is the position of the CPP on the question of the 20th Congress?

You wrote “We never accused any of your leaders after the spilt as Hamza and other members of your party did.”

My response: Do you want me to send you the emails Mansoor Saeed sent me privately?

You wrote “We wanted to send you some of our circulars on national question but now we think it will be an excercise in futality.However we are open to have any idialogical and political
discussion.”

My response: Please post them on our list so that everyone can read them.

In solidarity
Taimur Rahman

Posted in International Communist Movement, Pakistani Politics | Comments Off on Incorrect Criticism of CPP II

Tibet

Posted by Taimur Rahman on August 8, 2006

Articles such as “China’s ‘Sky Train’ — fast-track to genocide” areexactly why the politics of the Green Left Weekly are deserving of the gutter of history. As usual the LPP gorges on the gutter politics of imperialism under the guise of left-wing phraseology much like the
GLW.

Please read Micheal Parenti to understand the real situation in Tibet.

Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth
http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html

Posted in International Affairs, International Communist Movement, Pakistani Politics | Comments Off on Tibet

CMKP on th Question of Maoism III

Posted by Taimur Rahman on August 7, 2006

“Actually, the Filipino party uses the “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism formulation now.”

Yes but, if I am not mistaken, it is still ideologically closer to the MLPD than to RIM.

Elections:
“I don’t think this is a dividing line with Maoism. The Nepalese party participated in the old state’s parliament before launching the people’s war. There’s no reason not to use this as a tribune under certain conditions.”

True, it is not longer the dividing line. Things have changed. However, one has merely to pick up the writings of Charu Mazamdar to realize that he considered it one of the essential dividing lines
between revisionism and Maoism. Please note:

“In the present era when imperialism is heading towards total collapse, revolutionary struggle in every country has taken the form of armed struggle; Soviet revisionism, unable to retain its mask of socialism, has been forced to adopt imperialist tactics; world revolution has entered a new higher phase; and socialism is marching irrepressibly forward to victory – in such an era, to take to the parliamentary road means stopping this onward march of world revolution. Today, the revolutionary Marxist-Leninists cannot opt for the parliamentary road . This is true not only for the colonial and semi-colonial countries, but for the capitalist countries as well. In this new era of world revolution when victory has been achieved in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, it has become the main task of the Marxist-Leninists the world over to establish bases in rural areas and to build up, on a firm foundation, the unity of workers, peasants and all other toiling people through armed struggle. So, the slogans ‘boycott elections’ and ‘establish rural bases and create areas of armed struggle,’ which the revolutionary Marxist-Leninists have advanced, remain valid for the entire era.” “Boycott Elections!”
International Significance of the Slogan
http://marxists.org/reference/archive/mazumdar/1968/12/x01.html

Please note that the last line does not imply that that boycotting elections is valid for particular periods of political upsurge (which conformed to the Leninist position explicated in Left Wing Communism) but is considered valid “for the entire era” (i.e. the era “when imperialism is heading towards total collapse”).

Cities
Maoists never held this to be the case in the imperialist countries. But as far as the neo-colonial countries are concerned, the Nepalese party is advocating developing the Maoist conception of protratec people’s war by combining it with urban insurrection. The modern conditions necessitate combining “surrounding the cities” with insurrection.

Please note that Charu says:

“it has become the main task of the Marxist-Leninists the world over to establish bases in rural areas and to build up, on a firm foundation, the unity of workers, peasants and all other toiling
people through armed struggle.”
Clearly Charu is saying that the “main” task for MLs the “world over” is to work in the countryside. In other words, city work is not the main task. I don’t think we should make a generalization of this sort. I think it is better to leave it to individual communist parties to determine fr themselves their “main” task in accordance with a scientific study of their material conditions.

Soviet Social Imperialism:

“I don’t think that the 1991 events show that it was then that capitalism was restored. Even the Yanayev coup plotters advocated continuing Gorbachev’s “reforms.” Yevsei Lieberman was busy setting up the foundations for capitalist economy (under “public ownership” in the 1960’s). Capitalism wasn’t restored in the economic base in 1956 in one stroke, but the working class did lost state power at the center.”

But that was not the thesis upheld by Maoists in the 1970s. It was clearly stipulated that capitalism had been “fully” restored in the Soviet Union and that the latter had become “a social -imperialist power”. In fact, to uphold that the Soviet Union was “revisionist but not imperialist” was considered “centrism” in the 1970s and is today considered “neo-revisionism” by those who call themselves Maoists. Again I would like to quote Charu:

“The struggle between the two lines is there within the Party and will continue to be there. We must oppose and defeat the incorrect line. But we must be on our guard against centrism. Centrism is a brand of revisionism – its worst form. In the past, revisionism was defeated again and again by revolutionary elements but centrism always seized the victories of the struggle and led the Party along the revisionist path. We must hate centrism. On the question of boycotting elections, Naggi Reddy said : “Yes we accept it but it should be restricted to a certain area at a certain period. We will participate in elections where there is no struggle.” This is Naggy Reddy’s line. This is centrism. We have fought against it and have thrown the Naggy Reddy’s out of our organization. Regarding Soviet social – imperialism some say : ” The Soviet leaders are revisionists. But how can they be imperialists ? Where is that development of monopoly capital ?” These are centrists. We have fought them and thrown them out of our Party. So the centrists raised the questions of trade unions and “working class based party” when armed clash is to be developed by relying on the peasantry. We fought Asist Sen and company on these lines and threw them out of the Party.”
Hate, Stamp and Smash Centrism
http://marxists.org/reference/archive/mazumdar/1970/05/x01.htm

Clearly the view that the Soviet Union is not an imperialist country is incompatible with Maoism (and also it demonstrates that participation in elections is also incompatible with Maoism).

Solidarity in Poland:

“There are “Maoists” who did so, and that is mistaken. Clearly, Solidarity was a US-imperialist front, and nothing more.”

The problem is that support for Solidarity is mentioned in the founding document of RIM. I wouldn’t be surprised if the MLPD had roughly the same statement.

“I do not believe that the errors of Mao can be put on par with actions of renegades like Khrushchev or Gorbachev.”

The greatness of Mao lay not merely in the fact that he built up the largest socialist state in the world but also led the struggle against revisionism in the 1960s. Unfortunately the good work of his excellent critique presented in the seven open letters to the CPSU was undone by the later extremely one-sided interpretations of anti-revisionism under the influence of the theory of “soviet social imperialism” and the ultra-leftist tactics of those who called themselves “Maoists”.

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CMKP on th Question of Maoism II

Posted by Taimur Rahman on August 4, 2006

To continue to the second part of my explication of the general political line of the CMKP especially in relation to Maoism, I would like to bring to the fore certain other anomalies.

I have already explained how the MKP and later the CMKP differed on the question of Ayub Khan and Afghanistan in comparison to the “Maoist” movement in Pakistan. I would also like to bring to the fore other differences that the CMKP shares with the international Maoist movement. But before I begin to do that I need to define the major Mao’ist’ trends found in the world today.

There are two main trends laying claim to the legacy of Mao Tse-Tung. One is called “Maoism” and the other is called “Mao Zedong Thought”.

Maoism: The slogan of “Maoism” as a third stage of Marxism-Leninism was raised by the Communist Party of Peru in 1980 and its international manifestation remains the Revolutionary International Movement of which the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Communist Party of India (Maoist) are members.

Mao Tse-Tung Thought: The other important center of “Mao Zedong Thought” is the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany, Communist Party of Philippines, and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).

I won’t go into the details of the differences between the two because those differences are irrelevant to the discussion we are having at this stage about the CMKP. The differences I am going to explicate are shared in common with both trends.

1) CUBA
Both the “Maoists” as well as those adhering to “Mao Zedong Thought” consider Fidel Castro to be a revisionist and more often than not they consider Cuba to be a capitalist society.

The CMKP, on the other hand, supports Cuba as a socialist state and Fidel Castro as a great Marxist-Leninist.

2) China
Both the “Maoists” as well as those adhering to “Mao Zedong Thought” adhere to the view that China is a completely capitalist country. On the issue of the Tiananmen square both movements stood on the side of the protestors against the Communist Party of China.

The General Secretary of the CMKP comrade Ejaz Ghani made it clear to me that if China had capitulated to the demands of the Tiananmen square protestors the country would have followed the same path of destruction as the former Soviet Union. Therefore, CMKP does not share the analysis that the above mentioned trends made of the situation in China.

3) Elections
The CMKP is not against participation in bourgeois parliaments and elections.

4) Unions
The CMKP believes that communists should intervene in workers unions, even reactionary workers unions. Generally the party should participate in all mass legal organizations of workers and peasants.

5) Cities
The CMKP believes that the party must work in both urban as well as rural areas. The view that the revolution will necessarily arise from the countryside is completely one-sided.

These were some of the well-recognized differences that we share with Maoism and Mao Tse-Tung Thought as defined by the above mentioned parties. I would also like to present some of my personal thoughts on some other questions.

1) Soviet Social Imperialism: The theory that the Soviet Union was an imperialist state where a full capitalist restoration had occurred in 1956 is incorrect in my view. This theory was destroyed
by the events of 1991 which demonstrated clearly that the final capitalist restoration occurred with the breakup of the Soviet Union. (Although the CMKP does not utilize the term Soviet Social
Imperialism we have never had a full debate about this issue).

2) There is evidence that European Maoists supported Solidarity of Poland which in my view is equivalent to crossing the class line.

3) I am against the bourgeois “Prague Springs” and in my view Castro took a better position on the events in 1968 in Czechoslovakia than the leadership of the Communist Party of China (they initiated the slogan rhetoric of Soviet Social Imperialism from that event).

4) Generally the kind of anti-Sovietism I saw in my meeting with Maoist parties in Europe repelled me from their stance and I felt that to a considerable extent they were utilizing Maoism to cover up their inability to face the anti-Soviet imperialist propaganda within their own countries.

5) I do not agree with the Maoist assessment of Hoxha nor with the Hoxhaism assessment of Mao! They both seem to have lost the wood for the trees in my opinion. I simultaneously reject the “Three World’s Theory” which in my opinion was never a serious theory of revolution
but merely China’s foreign policy touted as a theory.

6) I also bitterly criticize the support that the Communist Party of China gave to Afghan Mujahideen, Pinochet, and UNITA. This was a disastrous policy decision.

What I agree with in the context of the great work of Mao Tse-Tung and Enver Hoxha are the excellent critiques they presented of Khrushchev’s revisionism in the early 1960s.

In the final analysis what we must take from Mao and Hoxha are their critiques of modern revisionism while rejecting their ultra-leftist errors or the ultra-leftist errors made in their name (especially those arising from the ridiculous theory of Soviet Social Imperialism).

The pro-Soviet parties have to wake up and realize that the Soviet Union was destroyed because of the opportunist policies undertaken under the rhetoric of de-Stalinization. The anti-revisionists have to get over their ultra-leftist errors. Only by correcting both revisionism as well as ultra-leftism can a Marxist-Leninist party be built up that can lead the world proletariat to victory.

In my view the CMKP made some progress in that direction by combining the anti-revisionist and pro-Soviet forces in the country, even though this step was taken out of a sense of desperation, but unfortunately some people remain stuck in another epoch and are unable to think dialectically grasp the dynamics of a new synthesis. Nonetheless, it is my firm conviction, after over a decade of involvement with the workers movement, that a success international
communist movement can only be revived by correcting both revisionism and ultra-leftism.

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CMKP on the question of Maoism

Posted by Taimur Rahman on August 2, 2006

The question as to the position of the CMKP has come up several times in the last few weeks on our forum. First a comrade from abroad asked about our position on Maoism, and then the CPP remarked that the CMKP was a “Moaist Party” and that this constituted the main difference between the two parties. This means that we are somewhat obliged to make a statement about our position on the question of Maoism.

Let us begin with the facts.

CMKP was formed in 1994 as a result of a merger between the pro-soviet CPP and the pro-Chinese MKP. The very fact of this merger indicates that neither the CPP nor did the MKP suffer the kind of violent antagonisms that occurred in West Bengal or other parts of the world between pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese parties.

When the CMKP emerged, its main aim was to ensure that those who continued to adhere to the ideas of communism were organized against the extreme right-wing ideological assault of neo-liberal capitalism. But how was such a merger possible given the irreconcilability of this split in the context of other countries. The merger became possible mainly because of a sense of desperation and isolation that existed at the time, and secondly because of the fact that despite their differences the CPP and MKP were on the same side of the fence on the two most important issues in the context of Pakistan.

1) Unlike other “Maoists” who used the international alignment of Ayub Khan with the PRC to justify a pro-establishment policy, the MKP and CPP were both in the “anti-Ayub” camp.

2) Afghan revolution: The MKP had a very different position of the Afghan Revolution than the Maoist movement internationally or in Afghanistan. Whereas, Maoists did not recognize the Saur Revolution as a “revolution” (they denounce it as a military coup), the MKP supported the Saur Revolution and was seen as aligned with Noor Mohammed Taraki. Later, although the MKP denounced the “Soviet Invasion” it nonetheless remained aligned with the Khalq faction of the PDPA (as opposed to being aligned with the Sholai–Maoists).

For me personally, it is becoming increasingly clear that while the Soviet Union collapsed from revisionism, the anti-revisionist movement collapsed from a fatal case of ultra-leftism. Unfortunately, when battle lines are drawn (even if these battle lines are ideological) many people become more interested in the victory of their faction rather than a victory of science.

More on all this later…

In solidarity
Taimur Rahman

(PS. I have decided to write with my real name because the use of my hero’s name (Hassan Nasir) was causing too much confusion over a triviality. Also, please beware that some people are using my account to send viruses in the past few days)

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