"loons in RCP"

Matt Davidson afn02065 at freenet.ufl.edu
Wed Apr 19 16:37:38 MDT 1995

>The attitudes manifested below exempify the sort of thing that makes
>people like me refer to the people in (and around) the RCP as loons. I
>have a couple of friends in the RCP, one of whom apologizes for all the
>embarassing stuff (but stays in) and the other of whom isn't the least
>embarassed to support, e.g., the psychopathic hoodlums in the Sendero
>Luminiso. (Why is he a friends, you ask. Well, it's a long story.) ANyway,
>I respect the dedication of many RCPers I know, but wish it was put to
>better use. The Revilution Books chain od stores is a valuable resource
>and there are some excellent reporters who write for Revolutionary Worker,
>the RCP newspaper, which I see from time to time. One of them, Larry
>Everest, did a bang up goos job, with very little of the usual RCP ranting
>and rraving, about Bhophal. Still, loons are loons, even if they are
>dedicated and not wholly destructive.
>Matt is right that the Maoist Progressive Labor Party, which was a pretty
>big deal in the 1960s, still exist in a shrunken form, as well as  m,aybe
>a few other self-styled Maoist grouplets. There may be a thousand
>organized Maoists in the US. I'm not sneering at the numbers--my ouwn
>outfit, Solidarity, is only about  350 strong (or weak).

Well, I'm not trying to claim some groundswell of Maoism in the American
left.  That was simply FYI.

>Matt's ill-informed sneers at and slurs upon CISPES and other solidarity
>groups de not deserve comment.
>--Justin Schwartz

OK, let me try and communicate more clearly.  I took your critique of the
RCP, aside from their putative looniness, to be based on their
"third-worldism" -- which I take to refer to a habit of tailing after
foreign revolutions and revolutionaries, perhaps blindly, to the detriment
of the class struggle in the U.S.

I wanted to make two points.  (1) This is not an accurate criticism of the
people I have known in and around the RCP.  (2) There are other
organizations, for example CISPES, of which I would say this is a valid
criticism.  Yet these organizations are typically treated with a bit more
nuance than the left sects, which admittedly have many failings, some very
serious, but cannot fairly be dismissed as loons.

Now, this is not to say that CISPES is "bad" or that the people in it are
bad people.  Rather, this is to say that, in this particular example, the
organization had a rather uncritical, booster-ish, attitude towards the FMLN
and the struggle in El Salvador, and basically zero interest in the *class
struggle* in the US and its implications for imperialism and the terror
states it creates and supports.  Rather, it played the "good" capitalist
politicos vs. the "bad" capitalist politicos electoral game.

I was introduced to activism via the Nicaraguan solidarity movement.
Generally, the people I knew were dedicated, kind, ethical, well-meaning,
all-around-great folks.  Just like the folks connected with the RCP.

As to the overexcited tone of my previous post:  Sorry.  I'm sure that
didn't make a good first impression with many of you.  But sometimes from
this list you'd get the impression that college professors and grad students
are making the revolution.  In a correct or incorrect fashion, the RCP is
one group that really has tried to take on this task.  My feeling is that we
should have a generous spirit towards them, and towards other left grouplets.

The Zapatistas:  I'm not saying they're enemies of the people.  I'm just
curious as to what's so exciting about them.  Why are you so anti-Sendero?
To what are you referring when you call them "psychopathic hoodlums"?
Mother Courage?  Do you consider the Bolsheviks during the Civil War to have
been a bunch of psychopathic hoodlums (execution of hostages, chekist
terror, etc.)?  If so, then it's easier for me to see why we disagree.  I
find it strange that the capitalist media's anti-communist hysteria has
proven so successful vis-a-vis the CPP as to prevent any large scale
organizing against the horrific war against the people being carried out by
the Peruvian army.  In any event, to return to the them of third-worldism,
it's unclear to me why you seem to think that saying "Way to go
Haitian/South African democrats!  Good job Aristide/Mandela" is
internationalist solidarity, and positive, while an RCP-er's saying "Way to
go Chinese/Peruvian Communists!  Good job Mao/Gonzalo!" is third-worldism,
and at best "not wholly destructive."

Finally, if I gave you the impression that I had some personal beef with
you, I apologize.  Of course, I hardly know you.  Presumably you're a great
guy.  I certainly wouldn't say otherwise.

Not a Maoist, but I play one on TV,

--Matt Davidson

Original post included.  If there are any further follow ups I'll snip it.

>On Wed, 19 Apr 1995, Matt Davidson wrote:
>> Justin Schwartz writes:
>> >
>> > Rakesh Bhandari cites Mattick against the old New Left enthusiasm for Mao
>> >and other third world revolutions. Broadly speaking I think the sentiment
>> >is right. I ceased to be a quasi-Maoist (sinceI was always and
>> >anti-Stalinist I was never a good Maoist) when the significancxe of the
>> >fact that there are no peasants in America became clear to me, which in
>> >fact didn't take very long in my early Marxist education. But apart from
>> >the loons in RCP third-worldism is a target of the past.
>> >
>> >(Chris: RCP= Revolutionary Comminist Party, the remaining American Maoist
>> >sect.)
>> >
>> Whatever the party's faults (the cult of Chairman Bob and its line on
>> homosexuality being two glaring examples), all the "loons" I've known in and
>> around the RCP have been genuine communists and revolutionaries, who have
>> dedicated their lives to changing the world in the face of overwheliming
>> odds.  They certainly are laying more on the line than most academic
>> Marxists.  In any event, it's completely unfair to dismiss them as
>> third-worlders.  They're very much conscious of the fact that their task is
>> revolution right here at home.  And why shouldn't the international
>> proletariat have international leaders and heroes?
>> (BTW, the Maoist International(ist?) Movement, the Progressive Labor Party
>> and the Marxist-Leninist (Workers?) Party also call themselves Maoist, I
>> think.  Or are the latter Hoxaist/Albanians?)
>> >  Ralph and some others have disparaged, as I take it, solidarity worlk
>> >with third world revolutions as irrelevant to American concerns. This
>> >seems a failure of internationalism. The working class and its problems
>> >are international and capital is globalized. The struggle requires support
>> >for the Chiapas rebellion and opposition to the PRI partycrats for the
>> >common interests of North American and Mexican workers. This is not the
>> >same as waving the Little Red Book or holding up, e.g. Subcommandante
>> >Marcos as the new Great Helmsman. Still internationalism requires us to
>> >support the Zapatista struggle, the Haiti democracy movement, the Party of
>> >Labor in Russia, etc. Self-interest too.
>> >
>> >For what it's worth recall that Marx helped form the first Internatioinal
>> >around solidarity with Polish revolutionaries. Each working class m,ust
>> >settle with its own bourgeoisie, as he says, but internationalism and
>> >class struggle are the twin poles of Marxism.
>> >
>> The real "third-worldists" are people in CISPES and other "solidarity"
>> groups who see revolution as something that happens "over there" where all
>> the poor, oppressed people are, people who head to the polls to vote for the
>> "good" Democrat who'll make "peace and justice" the cornerstone of his
>> foreign policy.
>> What's so great about the Zapatistas?  They've already abdicated any
>> responsibility to become the state.  Are they hoping Bill Clinton will run
>> for President of Mexico?  Is their program to pressure the criminals whose
>> boots are on their necks to not press down quite so hard?
>> If you want solidarity with revolutionaries, how about the Communist Party
>> of Peru?  Or is actual people's war too messy?  Gee, if only the "good"
>> Peruvian politicians would get voted in instead of the "bad" Fujimori.  If
>> only some Peruvian Zapatistas would form a pressure group.  Maybe they could
>> hook up with some Catholic "liberation theologians" and we could get
>> together a Commitee to Support the (Nice, Friendly, Non-Communist) People of
>> Peru.
>> For revolution,
>> --Matt Davidson

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