From Leftist Train Spotters - Reading RCP tea leaves

rosa harris rosaharris76 at
Thu Sep 4 11:17:38 MDT 2003

The following post appeared on Leftist Train Spotters
- my reply follows Dave S's post in this email.

From:   "Dave S"
Date:  Sat Aug 23, 2003  9:19 am
Subject:  Reading RCP tea leaves

1) RCP self-criticism of "Revolution in the 80's - Go
For It!" --

In 'Preface to "Notes on Political Economy" (October

"... Our view was that this acute and intensifying
interacting with other contradictions, would lead to
world war unless
prevented by revolution in large and/or strategic
parts of the world.

Plainly, this was not how things worked out. We have
responsibility of understanding why we reached certain
conclusions, at the same time that we affirm what was
correct about
our analysis..."

2) Avakian self-criticism of one argument he made in
"anti-Menshevik" split -- Am I reading this right? Is
Bob Avakian
admitting that, at least in certain times in certain
placese, he has
been a philistine?!

In "Materialism and Romanticism: Can We Do Without
Myth?" by Bob

"...This harks back to the error in our polemic
against the Mensheviks
concerning the Chinese mathematician who was studying
the Goldbach
conjecture. In a previous talk I made the point that
the way we dealt
with this in our answer to the Mensheviks** involved a
tendency toward
philistinism and what could be characterized as vulgar

Now, this was a minor aspect of our struggle against
the Mensheviks. I
don't want to blow it out of proportion, and I'm
certainly not trying
to reverse verdicts on our struggle against the
Mensheviks and the
revisionist coup in China. But there is a lesson I'm
trying to draw
from this relatively minor error. The lesson is that
there is an
importance to "pure research," to "pure science"; and
there is a way
in which that is analogous to the need for myth, as I
have spoken to
it--to the need for the imagination, the need for
metaphor, the need
for poetry....

** This refers to an argument, in a polemic against
those formerly in
the RCP (dubbed "Mensheviks" because of their
opportunist position and
methods) who supported the reactionary coup and
restoration of
capitalism in China, led by Deng Xiaoping, after the
death of Mao.
This argument vulgarized what is involved in the
Goldbach conjecture
and essentially said that trying to solve this
mathematical problem is
a complete waste of time and resources.

Links on the Goldbach conjecture:
Wang Yuan's book on the Goldbach conjecture:

3) On the site, some of the RCP
stalwarts have
themselves started using the "cartoon theory of
gravity" metaphor,
which has previously been castigated, as I understand
it, as a
"Menshevik" argument.

4) Half-baked self-criticism on RCP's previous line on
as a product of capitalist decadence (can't find the
link right now).

What does it all mean? Is the RCP "coming out of the
closet" (of

your litte red tea-leaf reader,
Dave S


On the serious side, I think Dave S. is raising
something real, when he asks:

"What does it all mean? Is the RCP "coming out of the
closet" (of sectarianism)?"

I think the RCP has gone through some major changes,
even while holding very firm to their "revolutionary
work in a non-revolutionary situation" orientation.

I think these changes can be listed in four or five
main points. And I will try to give a link to some
piece related to the RCP that is illustrative of their
current view.

1) They are going through a major campaign to learn
how to work with other people -- they have refined
their analysis of "united front," their chairman has
written major works on the importance of learning from
others etc.

This is one of many examples: and one essay in
particular has gotten wide attention: (It is
essentially an "anti-know it all" and anti-arrogance
and anti-dogmatic essay)

2) They have changed their view on some key issues,
and conducted self criticism. Most particularly, this
is true on homosexuality.
     see the position on homosexuality here >>>

3) They have developed a new, and rather nuance
analysis of the threat from extreme right forces. They
wrote a major policy piece on the Clinton scandals
that signaled their "neither Dimitrov nor Dutt"
approach to the activities of the extreme right. They
have also (in a related way) written extensively on
creationism, the rise of the Christian fascists and
the importance of making an atheist critique of the
extreme right.

This special issue of their newspaper is an
agitational expression of their view of the fascist
danger however
the earlier major essay on Clinton scandal contained
major new views:

In addition, there are signs that their approach to
elections, while still opposing involvement and
support for the Democrats or Greens, is not the simple
dividing-line call for boycott that they articulated a
decade ago. Future articles by them on the elections
should reveal more.

4) They have made a major shift towards empowering
their many new youthful activists. The RCP of today is
very different (in who leads and speaks) than the RCP
of ten years ago -- it is not (to put it simply) a 60s
party anymore.
 This article (by Sunsara) is a voice of their newer
generation, given prominence by articulating the RCP's
vision for the future of the movement.

5) They are working to put forward a vision of
socialism that (they describe as) "visionary and
viable." Their new Draft Programme was designed to
update their vision -- without relying on any common
experience or knowledge of the Maoist Cultural
Revolution in China. They are recasting their way of
talking about their socialism -- so that it does not
presuppose a study of Maoist china. Even their
emphases on the creative developments of their
Chairman are, in fact, a move not to orient them
selves mainly after Mao, but to situate themselves in
the present.  Their whole rewritten programme is an
example of this, particularly its description of
socialism.  So
is the tone and content of the RCP supporters writing
on this on


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