Some Comments About MIM

Jamal Hannah jamal at bronze.lcs.mit.edu
Fri Sep 15 23:46:31 MDT 1995


MIM said:
> The Black Panthers quoted Mao and upheld Mao as clearly as
> could be done in the English language. Not only did they
> run articles from Mao's press in China, they quoted the CCP
> on Maoism's role verbatim. On Jan. 4th, 1969, they quoted
> some Mexican comrades favorably: "Without Marxism-Leninism,
> Mao tse-Tung's Thought, there is no and will never be
> socialism in any country."

Sure, the Black Panthers (BP) ran Maoist articles
and identified with some Maoist politcs.  They also
supported the Viet Namese struggle (Viet Nam was
more friendly to the USSR than China, wasnt it?), and the
personal convictions of many poor black Americans who had
no connection to Mao at all.   And yes, one could characterize
the BP as "internationalists".  I dont see anything wrong with
that.  My point is that the BP was not _primarily_ Maoist..
it would be alienating to the experiance of the poor American
Blacks to be expected to wholeheartedly take everything
the Chinese said at that time.  Perhaps one could say the
BP were "%10 Maoist".. but if they were "pure" Maoist they would
most likely have put a bigger emphasis on Mao than they did.

It's obviously a "selling point" for MIM, or any other Maoist group
to openly identify with the BP, because of the BP's prominance in
American history.  (Just as the Socialist Workers Party identifies itself
with Malcolm X).  This is not to accuse MIM of being "sneaky" or
commercialist: it's wise to take advantage of whatever can help you.

I think it would be falling into the "Mao Personality Cult" for MIM
to insist that any significant revolutionary group from the past was
"truly a Maoist group ...even if they didnt realize it".

This is America, not China.  I have heard that even the Viet-Namese
Communists advised the American protestors not to burn American flags
at protests.. but rather to carry them while protesting (why alienate
Americans needlessly?  This might explain why it became fasionable
for some 60s radicals to start wearing American flag outfits and hats,
though it might also have been related to something Abbie Hoffman did).

When I say "This is America, Not China", I dont mean it
in the chauvanistic, nationalist sense.. but in the sense that
this is another chunk of land with another history and another set of
people who grew up a different way.  This does not mean that revolution
is impossible, simply that it would be different.

I wish MIM would avoid falling onto symantec arguments which cant
be verbaly disproven, simply disagreed with.. such as:

1) "The BP had some afinity for China in the '60s, therefor their politics
can be refered to as 'Maoist'."
(You can call them Maoist, sure.. and one can call them many other things.)

2) "China had the biggest Communist Party in the World"
(Yes, but China has the biggest population in the world.  So often
has Mao and Maoists fallen onto the subject of the population of
China as a integral aspect of this virtue or that virtue.. I honestly
dont think this is a wise argument to fall on.  Remember:  a nuclear
bomb that lands on 10 million people crammed into a 1-square
mile area, and a nuclear bomb that lands on 1 million people
in a 1-square mile area will in both cases kill all of people.  The
size of the Chinese "red army" was negated as an argument for military
strength when the nuclear age began.  I'm not saying the huge population
of China is insignificant.  I'm just saying it's a characteristic
of Chinese society which is being "played up" a bit too much... and
obviously this huge population has a negative side to it:  all those
people can quickly use up a lot of resources.  It is possible that
the objective reality of the large population of China is what forces it
to have a system such as it currently has.. just as it's possible that
the abundance of wild, open land in America is what makes it possible
to have so many "redneck", country-minded, individualistic reactionaries.)

3) "Stalin got the Job Done"
(This does not neccesarily mean that other people could get the job
done... differently.   But, to quote a fellow comerade from the IWW:
"Talk is cheap, and work is hard, and organizing harder than that."
.. if the leftists who dislike Stalin do not achieve realistic goals
that produce real results, then MIM will feel justified in continuing
to claim that "Stalin Got the Job Done".  It's interesting to talk
to people from Eastern-Block countries.. perticularly the people who
benefited from whatever the Communists did: they always say they couldnt
stand the police watching them all the time.. but there is rarely a complete
denouncement of every aspect of the society. (Except from those who
went on to become capitalists.)  Perhaps MIM would insist
that a huge, bureaucratic internal security force is neccesary
in a socialist society. It's obviously up to those who disagree to
put some energy into disproving this through real-world .)

Thinking about it, I now see that the value of these symantec
arguments is that since they can only be disproven by real-world
results, they demand that those who disagree prove themselves
through real-world action, not words.  Frusteration with MIM's
arguments comes from personal laziness on the part of would-be
revolutionaries, and not neccesarily knowing better.

One thing which is up to question is how often Communist Parties
have attacked other leftists (Anarchists or otherwise) in order to help
"prove" that they are a "failure".  MIM shows itself to have
a more reasonable position when it allows for other trains of thought
to be expressed, or other organizations to exist, but challenges
them with it's theories and arguments. (Unfortunatly, I suppose
they still feel that _after_ a revolution, all other organizations
must be made illegal.  Obviously it is the task for other groups
to make themselves powerful and relevent enough that it would be
pointless for the Communist Party to attempt to destroy it, instead
of ally with it.)

I think it's interesting that since
MIM members keep their identities a secret, they can
leave the group at any time if they eventualy find that they no
longer aggree with MIM's line.  I can see now that this anonymity
is actualy a strong point.  The more a person feels an association
for a group, the harder it is to break away, even if they must.  Not
having one's name associated with a group makes it esier.   Also
remember that the EZLN puts an emphasis on hiding their faces
_in order_ that they can go public.. and then showing their faces
when they wish to be hidden.

MIM doesnt even wave flags around like the RCP does.. and MIM's
artwork is crude and unnatractive.  So ultimatly it's the theory,
not symbols that is most important, and thats how it should be, really.

As an anarchist-communist, I personaly appreciate the fact that MIM
does not place left-anarchists and right-wing "anarcho-capitalists"
(The Libertarian Party, Ayn Randists, etc) into the same sweeping category,
the way some other socialist groups have (like the ISO in Canada does
in an essay they wrote in '84), and they admit that some anarchists have
indeed fought along with the working class against capitalism.
(Even though MIM still disagrees with the anarchists.)

 - JH

P.S. Here's a web page I made:

Prominent Anarchists and Left-Libertarians:
http://tigerden.com/~berios/libertarians.html

Check it out, folks.



     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---

     ------------------



More information about the Marxism mailing list