ON SELF-CRITICISM AND PARTY BUILDING

AK2

“As for criticism, do it in good time; don’t get into the habit of criticizing only after the event.”

—Mao, On the Question of Agricultural Co-operation

These past weeks have seen numerous statements of regret by organizations and individuals formerly associated with the now-defunct NCP-LC. However, the weapon of self-criticism in the Maoist sense is not a belated statement of regret.

Materialist self-criticism must be understood as one aspect of a dialectic whose other term is criticism. It is criticism that links genuine self-criticism with the real movement. Grasped unilaterally, self-criticism becomes a sterile form of confession.

The criticism/self-criticism dialectic qualitatively determines a process (= a system of contradictions) as a process of self-criticism when it becomes principal in relation to secondary contradictions. When the state project of the proletariat in the mass movement stalls, then systematization of experience – theory – can become principal in the movement of knowledge defined by the dialectical movement practice-theory-practice. The becoming-principal of the criticism/self-criticism dialectic is in this way itself prescribed by its links with practice – that is, with the real process whose rational synthesis is concentrated in the moment of criticism.

The Maoist Communist Group (then the NCP-OC) summed up the problem of patriarchy in March 2014 in the form of a self-criticism that was at the same time a criticism of the minority fraction of four men that had split to form the LC.

We published our criticism two years ago. No one can credibly feign ignorance of the problems that it addressed. At the same time, the ultimate failure of the LC was not principally determined by the gender contradiction, but rather by the party-building process as the LC conceived it (although it should go without saying that the gender contradiction is the principal contradiction in the conjuncture).1 This conception continues to be shared by certain of the organizations and individuals that – correctly – have split from and criticized the ex-LC for its harboring of male chauvinists. They fail to grasp a simple truth: unity can only result from ideological struggle around summations of protracted sequences of real interventions in concrete struggles with clear material stakes against specific class enemies.2

The minority fraction that formed the LC had split after the OC rejected two of its proposals:

(1)for unprincipled unity: to bring as many Maoist small groups as possible into the organization, materially laying the foundation for a federalist (apolitical, mass) conception of the party as a center where local activists converge;

(2) for reintegration of male chauvinists: to bring back two male chauvinists in two different cities who had previously been expelled from the organization for their patriarchal practices. One of these chauvinists, discussed at length in the documents linked below, was swiftly incorporated by the Maosoleum collective following his expulsion from the OC in June 2013.

The gender contradiction was the principal contradiction in the conjuncture (and what is more: antagonistic), in relation to which the two-line struggle over the question of building a Maoist party of a new type was secondary. At that time, it was necessary to resolve the gender contradiction – by summing up experience and then forcing an organizational split – in order to be able to begin the task of materially posing the question of the party.

The party as the leading core of the entire people does not yet exist, but in order to construct the party, we must make the process of the party live. It is our task as Maoists to systematize the orientation of the mass movement in a living fashion.

Our March 2014 criticism was a synthesis of practical experience with a view to advancing in the line of our strategic task: to fuse Maoism with the real movement, to bring forward the question of the party of the proletariat to the broad masses. Prior to the expulsion of the abusers and the departure of their protectors, the work of the organization was exhausted by internal struggles around issues of personal behavior divorced from politics and the mass movement.

The summation on patriarchy was necessary in order to make an advance. At those moments when practice is stuck in ceaseless repetition, we must systematize our experience in order for the new to emerge. It was only after March 2014 that the MCG was able to clear the path to the question of a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist party of a new type by engaging in protracted sequences of mass work in concrete struggles with specific material stakes.

Our critique was decisively rejected both by the leadership of the LC and by its cultish acolytes on social media. The LC advanced its project of immediately incorporating as many individuals and collectives into its organization as possible. And yet, although our March 2014 document was well known and public, none of these collectives even once bothered to contact us to investigate the merits of the criticism we had elaborated.

Let there be no mistake about it: the moment for self-criticism demanded by our criticism was passed over by the LC and its supporters.

Meanwhile, the NYC LC engaged in spectacles divorced from concrete organization in the mass movement beyond the student front. Their work did not contribute in any way to the building of the party. Indeed, the LC conception of party building was marked by a classic ‘leftist-rightist’ deviation that proceeded from the forgetting of two symmetrical but opposed principles:
 
(1) No self-proclamation of the party outside the masses. We cannot exclude the proletariat and the masses from the party-building process. No ‘party’ outside of the historical processes among the broad masses, outside class reality. A party is not simply an apparatus. We must draw our force from our links to the real mass movement.
 
(2) No liquidation of the question of the party in mass struggles. The party centralizes mass struggles: it does not simply coordinate them. As soon as we think the party as a federation of struggles, as a convergence of social forces, then we are in fact negating Marxism, replacing the party of the proletariat constructed into a political class and the dictatorship of the proletariat with a mass party and a democratic-revolutionary mass politics.

A process of self-criticism, unlike a statement of regret, is fundamentally oriented towards the future. It must indicate the changes that it makes possible in the subsequent return to practice through the process of rectification. At present, rectification for the LC and its supporters must above all involve expelling male chauvinists in order to make possible an effort to build the party in the mass movement.

This party-building process will require constructing mass organizations led by communist cores on a number of fronts. It will also require intensive study of Marxist theory and history, which has been displaced on much of the Maoist left by petty-bourgeois identitarian moralizing of the college-student type that operates at a distant remove from dialectical materialism. Finally, it will require ideological struggle over public summations of experience both between and within small groups.

At the time of the split, we characterized the gender contradiction that divided our organization as antagonistic. To say that a contradiction is antagonistic is to say that its resolution entails the disappearance of one of its terms. We are thus glad that the LC has disintegrated. It is the task of all militants of good will to make sure that its legacy remains in the dustbin where it belongs.

MAOIST COMMUNIST GROUP

New York City

Endnotes

1 Conjuncture = the present moment grasped as a synthesis (i.e., systematization) of contradictions (primary, secondary, antagonistic, non-antagonistic).

2 Mao is clear that ideological struggle is the decisive instrument for guaranteeing unity within the class organization. Its absence can only yield a unity without principle: “We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every Communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon. But liberalism rejects ideological struggle and stands for unprincipled peace, thus … bringing about political degeneration in certain units and individuals in the Party and the revolutionary organizations.” (Mao Tse-tung, “Combat Liberalism,” in Selected Works, Vol. 2 (Peking, 1965), 31. Our emphasis.)

……….

Statement on dissociation from the New Communist Party (Liaison Committee)

As a collective, Red Guards – Los Angeles is committed to developing our understanding of proletarian feminism, and to combating all manifestations of patriarchy and male chauvinism, especially where they appear within ourselves, our collective, and our movement.

Our own process of criticism/self-criticism, and the welcomed criticisms from other collectives associated with us, have illuminated these tendencies within our organization, have helped us to identify their sources, and have led us to embark on the path of rectifying these tendencies within our organization and its membership.

As part of our struggle against patriarchy, and the broader struggle associated with our political development as a group, we have concluded it is necessary for us to sever ties with the New Communist Party- Liaison Committee (NCP-LC), due to persistent engagement in patriarchal behavior, intraorganizational secrecy, and extreme liberalism regarding the rectification of these errors among key members and a central organization in the LC apparatus.

This decision was reached by our collective after months of struggling with the New York City-branch of the NCP-LC over our concerns, and what we perceive to be an inadequate path moving forward to address them. In the coming days we will release a document that further details our criticisms of the New York City-branch and the NCP-LC more generally. This document will also begin work towards a path for rectification by which we could envision future unity with the comrades in New York, much of whose work we still hold in high regard. But we found it important to release a statement immediately expressing our intentions.

Our criticisms are primarily focused around three issues:

1) Failure to effectively isolate a known patriarchal abuser from revolutionary spaces, endangering all women and non-men in our movement

2) The ensuing secrecy, lies, and omissions surrounding this situation, both publicly and to other organizations within the NCP-LC

3) Persistent unwillingness to rectify these patriarchal behaviors, or to address the errors in leadership that allow them to propagate so rampantly in their spaces

While the unification of advanced forces in the fight for proletarian revolution is an historical necessity, some circumstances require ruptures and disunity to push forward the process of building a genuine revolutionary party: due to the aforementioned criticisms, we believe these to be such circumstances, and therefore our commitment to building the party also dictates that we split from an organization and a mode of organizing that is detrimental to that process.

The establishment of a party-building apparatus independent of the NCP-LC will create opportunities for new political alliances and sites of struggle, and we welcome all revolutionary organizations in the United States to join us in this effort, join us in our revolutionary obligation to smash patriarchy everywhere that it exists, and join us in our historical task of building the Party!

In Struggle and Solidarity,

Red Guards – Los Angeles

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