Reflections on the list
Louis N Proyect
lnp3 at columbia.edu
Fri Sep 1 14:19:21 MDT 1995
On Fri, 1 Sep 1995, Chris Burford wrote:
> I agree with your comments about judging arguments on their merits.
> However many members of the list, if they had met maoists, would have
> met examples of extreme voluntarist idealism, using symbols in an even
> more mystical manner that usual in the marxist movement, and occasionally
> holding up the little red book as if it had the power to exorcise evil,
> like the Bible.
Chris, this is a very interesting question. When I was reading Harding on
Lenin, he made the point that Lenin had a very warm spot for the first
generation of Narodniks. They were self-sacrificing, heroic individuals
who risked everything to end Tsarism. Lenin's own brother, who was
executed for plotting an assassination, was just such a person.
The neo-Narodniks of Lenin's own age were no longer revolutionaries. All
they had was a almost mystical attachment to the peasant communes, which,
of course, Lenin was anxious to show was misplaced.
The Maoists of the 60's, like the Trotskyists, were part of the new
radicalization that swept the capitalist world. The Maoists gave a lot of
leadership to the May-June 1968 struggles in France. In the United
States, many of the SDS militants considered themselves Maoists of one
sort or another and led struggles to end ROTC, CIA recruitment on campus,
The Maoists of today are another story entirely. What would motivate
somebody to keep a group going based on Maoist ideas, long after the end
of the Cultural Revolution, and long after any lip-service to a
revolutionary program was being made on the part of the Chinese leadership?
The answer to that of course is seen in the Revolutionary Communist Party in
the United States, a cult led by Bob Avakian. This outfit is so bizarre and
so ultraleft that people generally give them a wide berth at
demonstrations and rallies. These are the sorts of folks that my cousin
Marvin couldn't resist arguing with....
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