Some suggestions on how to help others in your area become Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organizers

1. Learn the people’s history of your city. Learn this history from the elders in town, even if they’re left-liberals. Research in your city’s archives if there are any (call your city’s library and ask if they can help you search their archives of the city’s newspapers) for any kind of revolutionary history, or the struggle of oppressed groups. If there are any notable figures who are still around, try to get in touch with them. What political campaigns got masses of people moving in the past? What was going on there in the 60s? When’s the last time it seems like a spontaneous protest broke out among the most oppressed section of the city. What was it about?

2. Explore the demographics of your city. What are the biggest employers? How wealth and income unequal is it? Is there an epidemic of police murder? What are the most oppressed and poor areas of your city? See them for yourself if you can. Do they have community centers in their neighborhoods? What kind of activities happen at them? What are people concerned about in these neighborhoods? What is the political sentiment there? Compare present-day income and racial demographic maps of the city versus older ones, decade by decade, and find out where gentrification is proceeding, and how quickly.

3. Go among the masses of poor working-class people. Eat at the restaurants they frequent. Talk to them, learn from them. If there is a mass transit that the working-class people use, whether bus or metro, use that. Use it even if you don’t necessarily have to go anywhere. Often working-class people treat fast food places such as McDonalds and Taco Bell as social places to gather. If you have work you can do there, go there to do it instead of to a coffee shop. Anywhere where you can think of that working-class people spend time in public where you could be present and potentially strike up a stray conversation, go there and do it. Consider sitting in on the sermons where they go to church. Be very open-minded. There is absolutely no substitute for real contact with the working-class masses in your area. Be wary of spending time in bars, as alcohol culture is antithetical to a good communist discipline. With that said, although it is not likely, if it seems like an extremely good avenue where you could go, not drink, and nevertheless make good connections with the people, it may not be something to rule out entirely.

On that note, it should be said that the use of alcohol, marijuana, and other mind-altering drugs is a powerful deterrent to organizing. They foster poor health, create mental inclarity, and reduce ability to focus. The social environment around their use in society promotes idleness and self-gratification. Do your utmost to become sober from these and all other mind-altering substances. Begin to create sober spaces, events, and activities that promote revolutionary politics, both for yourself and for others. This will create a pole of attraction for a different sort of life that fosters discipline, which is priceless for organizers and for a revolutionary movement. If you are currently working to remove these or any other substances from your life, use Marxist principles for combating your addiction.

4. Look for and link up with organizers from the poor working-class sections of your city, whether or not they’re actually communist. Meet other radical organizers in town. Build genuine relationships with the ones who seem sincerely committed to making the world an altogether better place and willing to listen to new ideas. Once you have a decent relationship, don’t hesitate to engage in respectful but genuine political disagreement with them. See also point 8 below for orientation on how to handle these interactions in a fashion that is both principled and productive. This will connect you with the most potentially revolutionary segment of the city and make you a better organizer.

5. Learn about the official electoral politics of your city. Who are the commissioners or councilpeople or whatever? Who are the alderpeople or the mayor? Who funded their campaigns? How long have they been in office? Do they represent organized labor or land developers or whom? What are their political histories? What segment of the voting population must they please? If nothing else this will let you know who will oppose you depending on what issues you press on. What are the politics of the police department (e.g., do they prioritize appearing liberal, or are they more forceful and heavyhanded)? What are the local unions, and what are their politics? Who are the reigning nonprofits and petty-bourgeois forces that aim to monopolize grassroots politics and lead the struggles into reformism?

6. Start an agit-prop and education group in as public space a space as possible where both radicals and working-class people might go, erring toward the latter. Keep the faith, show up and be there even if no one comes. Hold discussions on issues of concern to a variety of people. If you keep it up, you will probably sooner or later attract a few people. Call it like “[City Name] Communists” or “[City Name] Communist Study Group” or “[City Name] Revolutionary Education Front” or something like that. Study Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Study revolutionary history. Study anticapitalist and anti-imperialist revolutions from all over the world. Let your study be guided by what the members and the masses are most interested in. If someone displays racism, sexism, cissexism, and any other oppressive thinking, gently but firmly struggle with them to help them arrive at correct ideas (show how their own interests align with uniting with the group of people they are currently disparaging, and how much they have in common with them). Resort to kicking them out only if they are truly reactionaries, or if they become abusive. Struggle against their incorrect thinking, but don’t constantly police the masses’ language; the point is to help them arrive at correct ideas as a priority over them always using the “correct” language. Conduct these study groups in a fashion that is accessible as possible to the masses (e.g., one crucial thing is to not require reading ahead of time, but instead go around in a circle during the actual group and read out loud). Regularly attend the meetings of any radical student organizations in your city and politely and productive contribute. If you talk to people afterward or have a chance to do so during the “announcements” section of their meeting, invite people to your group.

7. Regularly post up in a well-foot-trafficked public place at a specific time each week with a sign that says something provocative (such as “anti-cop, pro-worker” or, as I write in September 2016, some good ones might be “Fuck Trump” or “Fuck Trump and Clinton, the elections are a sham”) and/or maybe a table with literature that is written in language accessible to the masses (consider some of the things being released by Serve the People – Austin). You will put off some people with a bold slogan—but the ones you do attract are the people you most want to talk to, and they’ll know you mean business. When people show up, talk to them! Talk to them person to person, having a real and living conversation. What you are looking for are their ideas—what they want to see done in the city, how things are in their neighborhoods, what they take to be the root causes of the problems in the world. Find out what their burning political questions are. Consider having something like coffee or light snacks to hand out for free, with a sign that says “FREE [WHATEVER].” Keep the faith in this, too—what you are doing is cumulative with this and most things in organizing. It may take someone a month to notice you, a month to take an interest, a month to think of something to say, a month to think of how to say it, a month to develop the gumption to approach you, and then two more months before you see them again. You will develop a reputation and respect by the sheer virtue of displaying a sustained capacity to give a fuck. Sign interested people up for your mailing list, and a texting list, and keep inviting them out to your group.

8a. Begin to put on events through your group. Organize speakouts, lectures, roundtables, film-showings, and protests on any or all of the following topics: liberation struggles of oppressed-nations people (that is, black, brown, or indigenous people), environmental concerns, prisoner liberation, anti-ICE/immigrant rights, promote people’s wars, anti-cop, anti-fascist, pro-refugees, anti–political repression, antiwar (that is, against imperialist wars, not against people’s liberation struggles), pro-peace (from the perspective that only the presence of justice and freedom can genuinely be called peace, so genuine peace means people’s war). This will also attract people to your group and your work, make you a better organizer, and teach you more about the city.

8b. A few words about how to decide what sort of events to do: Find out what the burning political questions of the masses are in your area and find a way to provide accessible answers to them from a communist perspective. Figure out what pisses them off or worries them. At the time of this writing, many people are paying spiteful attention to Donald Trump, understanding that he represents something not seen in quite a while—an openly reactionary figurehead with truly mass support in u.s. society.

Hit the ground. Talk to people. Look for places where working-class and young people vent their frustrations or share their opinions online or in other places. Eavesdrop while riding the bus. Ask working-class people open-ended political questions if they’re hanging around somewhere killing time (“What do you think of the elections?” “What do you think of President Clinton?” or whatever seems like it might start an open-ended question).

Obviously this is a chicken-and-egg question to some extent—once you hit a wall with your social investigation and on-the-ground research, you will have to make a guess and then make a bold experimental action. You may not reach certainty that there is interest in events about a specific topic in your area—but if you think there might be, give it your all and do everything you can to organize it and make it a success, advertising it with many posters in many different places, a Facebook event, and even creating a handbill and distributing it to where working-class or young people gather in public, such as at bus stops. You might even try a series of presentations. For instance, if Chicano liberation is a concern of the working class in your area, you might put on a month of events (three events, two weeks apart), and then create a poster to advertise all three, for instance:

Nov 1: History of the Chicano Liberation Struggle
Nov 15: How the criminal u.s. government stole the land of an entire people: Brown power and the need for revolution!
Nov 30: Revolutionary Chicano Groups Today

If you put that on a poster, people might miss the first one but make the second or third. It works as propaganda for people to know that you’re serious and willing to work hard. After they see enough of these posters for a variety of topics, they might decide that you’re serious enough to drop by and see what you’re about regardless of which topics you’re covering.

When you undertake these, be sure that your presentations are highly interactive. Use the mass line in everything! Devise a series of questions for the audience that can help you move from point to point. When you get an answer from a member of the audience, use that as an opportunity to use their own language and concepts to make your point. Solicit concrete examples, whether countrywide or local, of the abstract theoretical things you’re discussing, which will allow it to become clearer and concrete to everyone in attendance. Always give a great deal of opportunity and invitation to the audience to participate and be involved.

9. The masses will keep struggling even while you are still in the process of creating more Maoists to form a collective with. It may be “spontaneous” (that is, the organizer may not understand themselves as an anticapitalist) or it may be led by reformist or revisionist organizations. There is sometimes an instinct not to promote events or struggles if the main organizers are revisionists or reformists, but this is an anti-masses line. Instead, if there is any mass character to the event at all (that is, if people who are strangers to the organizers will likely be showing up), do promote the event, and couple your promotion of the event with criticism of what you consider incorrect in the politics of the those who have organized it. And then, once you’re there, support the initiative of the masses, provide material support to help them deepen their struggle, talk with them and form ties with them, and do what you can to help a Maoist line (anti-revisionist, anti-reformist) take hegemony of the event—that is, help the event become more radical than the incorrect/reformist/backward leadership would like it to be. This will generate conflict with these organizers, but genuinely winning the masses over and supporting their struggle and helping deepen their class consciousness is primary. Your goal is to build a united front with revisionist and reformist organizers toward revolutionary goals that MLM has hegemony within, and you must criticize the revisionists and reformists in all areas where they are betraying the interests of the masses, which can only be pursued with genuinely revolutionary politics. This will allow you to win over the best of the revisionists while isolating the diehard ones who are committed to their anti-people politics. Help the masses involved see that their struggle can be accomplished best if they link it up with other sections of the masses who are also struggling, because then each can support the other and they can have twice the numbers and resources at any given time. Sign them up, stay in touch with them. Always get really people’s contact information—don’t just give them yours and wait for them to contact you.

Three Marxist-Leninist-Maoist reading guides

Below are the three MLM reading lists/guides I know about. I haven’t read but a small fraction of these, but I thought sharing them would help others.

1. The one on massline.org: http://massline.org/MLM_Study/MLMstudy.htm

2. One that was recently posted to the /r/Maoist subreddit. It was deleted, but I saved a copy and it is reproduced below.

3. One that was not so recently posted as a random comment in the MLM Communism 101 Facebook group once and I think was also deleted. This is also posted below.

A QUICK NOTE ON FINDING THESE DOCUMENTS

A lot of these things are available with a simple google search. Often you will find them on marxists.org, marx2mao.com, bannedthought.net, or massline.org. Many more are on http://gen.lib.rus.ec (which, if you’ve never used it and are having trouble w/ it, just lmk and I’ll provide some instructions.) If you can’t find something on any of those, lmk and I’ll see what I can do.

2. THE ONE THAT WAS POSTED IN /r/MAOIST

INTRO

Marx, Engels. Manifesto of the Communist Party
Engels. The Principles of Communism
Einstein. Why Socialism?
Prakash. Why Maoism?
Mao. Quotations from Mao Tse tung
CPI(M). Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Study Notes
Thompson. Marx to Mao Tse-tung
Thompson. Capitalism and After
Thompson. The Human Essence
PCR-RCP. Programme

PHILOSOPHY

Marx. Theses on Feuerbach
Ilyenkov. Activity & Knowledge
Mao. On Practice
MCG. On Maoist Practice
Ilyenkov. Dialectics of the Ideal
Mao. On Contradiction
Siqi. Antagonistic and Non-Antagonistic Contradictions
Althusser. On the Materialist Dialectic
Badiou. The Rational Kernel of the Hegelian Dialectic
Badiou. Theory of the Subject
Ollman. Dance of the Dialectic
Ilyenkov. Dialectics of the Abstract & Concrete (Full Version, poor translation)
Siraj. Post-modernism Today

THE SCIENCE OF HISTORY

Balibar. The Basic Concepts of Historical Materialism (Self Criticism)
Ollman. Alienation
Lukács. The Phenomenon of Reification
Biel. Eurocentrism and the Communist Movement (2nd Edition)
Amin. Eurocentrism
Sakai. Settlers (4th Edition)
Tani, Sera. False Nationalism, False Internationalism
Lee, Rover. Night-Vision (JMP’s Review / MIM’s Review)
Engels. Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State (Reading group)
Mies. Patriarchy & Accumulation on a World Scale
Federici. Caliban and the Witch (Review)
Yami. People’s War and Women’s Liberation
Bettelheim. Class Struggles in the USSR, First Period
Bettelheim. Class Struggles in the USSR, Second Period
MLMRSG. Chinese Foreign Policy
MLMRSG. Evaluating the Cultural Revolution

SCIENTIFIC SOCIALISM

Lenin. State and Revolution
Althusser. Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses
Badiou. Of Ideology
Gramsci. Selections from the Prison Notebooks (Study Notes, Amil K., JMP I, JMP II)
Moufawad-Paul. The Communist Necessity (Kersplebedeb / AK Press)
Luxemburg. Reform or Revolution
Mao. Combat Liberalism
Anuradha. Trends in the Feminist movement
Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth
Sayles. Meditations on Wretched of the Earth (AK Press / Kersplebedeb) (JMP, MIM)
Ilyenkov. From the Marxist-Leninist Point of View
Lukács. Lenin: A Study on the Unity of his Thought (Reading group)
Neftali. Notes on Mass Line, Communist Organization and Revolution
Hongqi. Long Live Leninism!
RIM. Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!
Ajith. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought Are Not the Same

POLITICAL ECONOMY

“FPE” Working Group. Fundamentals of Political Economy / AKA the Shanghai Textbook (MIM Study Guide)
Marx. Capital Volume I (Study Guide, Reading Marx, Harvey)
Amin. The Law of Worldwide Value
Marx. Capital Volume II (Study Guide, Reading Marx, Thomas)
Marx. Capital Volume III (Study Guide, Reading Marx, Thomas, Kapital)
Cope. Divided World, Divided Class (2nd Edition Preface) (JMP)
Bromma. The Worker Elite
Biel. The New Imperialism
Biel. The Entropy of Capitalism
Turner. Is China an imperialist country?

ORGANIZATION & MILITARY POLICY

Derbent. Categories of Revolutionary Military Policy
PCR-RCP. Getting Started
CPI(M). Constitution
CPI(M). Our Work in Urban Areas, part 3 Policy and Guidelines
Mao. Methods of Work of Party Committees
SACP. How to Master Secret Work
Mao. On Protracted War
Mao. On Guerrilla Warfare
Mao. On Production by the Army for its Own Support
Mao. Problems of War and Strategy
PCP-SL. Military Line
PCR-RCP. Protracted people’s war is the only way to make revolution
PCR-RCP. More on the question of waging revolutionary war in the imperialist countries
PCE(r). The Party-guerrilla coordination
Mariguella. Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla

——-

3. THE ONE THAT WAS POSTED AS A COMMENT IN THE MLM COMMUNISM 101 FACEBOOK GROUP ONCE:

INTRODUCTION

Marxism-Leninism-Maoism: Study Notes
Shashi Prakash – Why Maoism?
Bernard D’Mello – What Is Maoism? (2009)

THEORETICAL

CCP – The Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (1956)
CCP – Long Live Leninism! (1960)
Chen Yen-shih – Lenin’s Fight Against Revisionism and Opportunism (1965)
PKP – Program For A People’s Democratic Revolution (1968)
Chang Chun-chiao – On Exercising All-Round Dictatorship Over the Bourgeoisie (1975)
Yao Wen-yuan – On the Social Basis Of The Lin Piao Antiparty Clique (1975)
RIM – Declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (1984)
Chairman Gonzalo – Interview (1988)
PCP – On Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (1988)
Armando Liwanag – Stand For Socialism Against Modern Revisionism (1992)
RIM – Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism! (1993)
TKP/ML – Contemporary Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (1998)
RIM – For a Century of People’s Wars! (2000)
CPI(Maoist) – Programme (2004)
Kishan – Without a Struggle Against Revisionism It Is Impossible To Take Even One Step Forward in the Revolution (pp. 24-27) (2006)
PCR-RCP – Programme (2007)
IA – Right Wing of LGBT Rights (2011)
JMP – Marxism Beyond Marx, Leninism Beyond Lenin, Maoism Beyond Mao (2011)
MCPM – Programme (2011)
SF – With the Looters and Against the Left (2011)
SF – Put World People’s War on the Agenda (2012)
SF – Occupy and the Allure of the Petty Bourgeois (2012)

CHINA PEOPLE’S WAR/SOCIALISM

RCP,USA – On the Class Struggle in China (1984)
RWOR – Chiang Ching: A Revolutionary Life (1991)
Zafia Ryan – Chiang Ching The Revolutionary Ambitions of a Communist Leader (1993)
AWTW – Chang Chun-chiao: An Unrelenting Champion of Communism (2005)
MLMRSG – Evaluating the Cultural Revolution in China and its Legacy for the Future (2007)
MLMRSG – Chinese Foreign Policy during the Maoist Era and its Lessons for Today (2007)

INDIA PEOPLE’S WAR

Chindu Sreedharan – Karl and the Kalashnikov (1998)
Aloke Banerjee – Inside MCC Country (2003)
Sudhakar – Dandakarnya: A Saga of Twenty-Five Years of Glorious Struggle (pp. 3-7) (2006)
Rita Khanna – War Against The Maoists: But Who Are They And What Do They Want? (2009)
Arundhati Roy – Walking with the Comrades (2010)
Arundhati Roy – The Trickledown Revolution (2010)
Gautam Navlakha – Days and Nights in the Heartland of Rebellion (2010)
Suvojit Bagchi – 34 Days with Maoists Inside the Forest part 1, part 2, part 3 (2011)
Arundhati Roy – Capitalism: A Ghost Story (2012)

NEPAL PEOPLE’S WAR

AWTW – The People’s War is Sinking Roots (1998)
Li Onesto – Dispatches: Report from the People’s War in Nepal (1999-2000)
Arjun Karki & David Seddon – People’s War in Nepal Left Perspectives (2003)
AWTW – Building Red Power in Nepal (2004)

PERU PEOPLE’S WAR

AWTW – When the Andes Roar (1985)
AWTW – People’s War Continues: New Regime, Same Reaction (1985)
Carol Andreas – Excerpts from “When Women Rebel: The Rise of Popular Feminism in Peru” (1985)
CSRP – Revolution in Peru (1985)
AWTW – Communism Marches Forward in Peru (1992)
Gary Leupp – Peru on the Threshold: A Reply to Hobart A. Spalding (1993)
Heriberto Ocasio – Why the People’s War in Peru is Justified and Why it is the Road to Liberation (1995)
RWOR – The Road of Liberation Strategy and Goals of the Revolution (1997)

PHILIPPINES PEOPLE’S WAR

RWOR – With the New People’s Army in the Philippines: Report from a Guerrilla Front, part 2, part 3, part 4 (1998)

How to learn everything a communist ought to know, from the beginning

There’s really no end to the stuff a communist ought to know, but if I wanted to start someone from the beginning, it would go something like this:

* Read this page I wrote to try to explain in layperson’s terms exactly what the problem is with capitalism and what we can do about it.

* Read the first five chapters of Zombie Capitalism to really get into some theory of why capitalism has to go.

* Read the MLM Basic Course to learn the history of the development of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the highest and sharpest stage of communist theory to this point. There will be many theoretical terms, ideas, and historical references that will be unclear or not entirely clear; this is okay! Make a note of them for later and read till the end.

* Read The Science of Revolution, a really excellent book that goes deeper into
all the necessary things that a communist should know, and explains them using really brilliant metaphors and a keen knowledge of history, and non-expert language. It’s great. You could read this before the MLM Basic Course if you preferred. Again, if there is anything that remains unclear, that’s okay! Just make a note of them for later.

* While you’re at it, read some inspiring shit by some people who have fought against the system, like Malcolm X’s or Assata Shakur’s autobiographies. I really loved Stone Butch Blues, too, and I think it’s really important because we live in an era where transgender liberation struggle is becoming more consolidated, and Leslie Feinberg was a communist and a beautiful and moving writer, and she captures so much of other aspects and reasons why people struggle against capitalism and all oppressions. I also recommend Fanshen, which covers the Chinese revolution like a film documentary–it is very well written and inspiring and gives us on-the-ground insight into a period of history that we are taught nothing but racist-ass propaganda about.

* Don’t give up–it seems like there are truly a lot of moving parts, at first, but if you keep studying, it will all get clearer and make more and more sense. (There are a lot of different schools of thought that call themselves communism, but the deeper you get, more and more of them will seem obviously wrong and your course of study will get clearer.) Take all the loose ends you’ve put your finger on in terminology, theory, and history and explore them through 101-level communist FAQs such as the Communism 101 subreddit’s and the MLM 101 Facebook group’s for answers. Don’t underestimate these resources–I learned a lot by reading online discussions between regular, hard-working, non-famous communists and then making up my own mind. You can also use the official search function for the FB group and use google (not the official reddit search) to search the Communism 101 subreddit or the Communism subreddit, by plugging this into google (without the |’s and *’s): |site:http://reddit.com/r/communism101 *your topic or key terms related to your investigation*| or |site:http://reddit.com/r/communism *your topic or key terms related to your investigation*|

* Once you’ve explored some of those things, you now have a thorough grounding in the basics and a clear idea of where you could still sharpen your knowledge, as well as a feel for how a revolutionary thinks. Proceed at this point to find an MLM reading guide and read works to continue to explore all the things you have noticed you need to get clearer/sharper on. Use this in a feedback loop with the 101 groups (the Communism 101 subreddit and the MLM Communism 101 FB group) to ask questions that aren’t in the FAQs when your reading still leaves you confused. Your comrades online are happy to help.

* IMPORTANT: The truth is, there is a VERY SHARP limit to what a communist can learn through books. As Marx said, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.” This is true. A key part of Marxism is that while we absolutely need theory, it is totally dead and mummified unless you are using it. We cannot truly grasp what we have read until we put it into practice. If you truly want to know everything a communist must know, you must commit yourself to communist organizing. So then if you want to know what to do to put it into practice, I can only recommend my own collective’s recent position paper that goes into what we take to be the current situation with communism in the united states (if you are from another country, you will have to adapt some of what you read to your condition) and what we think should be done about it.

* If after this process you find yourself the only MLM in your area, check out “Some suggestions on how to help others in your area become Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organizers.”

What Maoism has to offer the world and why so many former non-communists think it’s dope

13921129_10109012319571151_645615817987599627_n

maybe one of the most important prerequisites to any discussion of Mao is to point out that much of what we are told about, say, Malcolm X, or the Black Panthers, by the white-supremacist capitalist education system, white-supremacist capitalist media, and the white-supremacist capitalist culture that pervades what is called the West is just total lies and propaganda.

so on that note, it’s important to bear in mind that, similarly, whatever your current conception of Mao, if all you have heard is that he and the Chinese Revolution were brutal and bloody and heartless, it’s important to investigate this from other sources that imperialists do not have full control over. there are lots of these if you like, but for the sake of this discussion, it will be enough if you’re willing to at least entertain the idea that there might have been lots more dope shit, and far less bad shit, going on under Mao than we’re taught. suffice it to say that either you have the chauvinist belief that hundreds of millions of Chinese people were brainwashed, or you accept that Mao and the Chinese Communist Party were doing a lot of things right.

CONCRETE THEORY ABOUT HOW TO “DO COMMUNISM”: THE MASS LINE

– I think one of the most important contributions of Maoism over previous Marxist tendencies is that it offers a specific mechanism for “doing communism” in an area: what is called the “mass line.”

How do you make more communists? How do you turn the working class and other oppressed groups into communists?

Is it enough to just sort of fan the ideas of communism in their direction? To put a newspaper in their hands and hope they read it, as my first “communist” organization, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) had us doing? It hasn’t helped the ISO grow in decades.

So how do you do it? You recognize that capitalism-imperialism causes concrete forms and experiences of suffering and oppression in each area, and that it will vary from area to area. So the people in each particular area want solutions to those particular problems, but only communism can fully solve those problems, so here’s what the communist collective in each area does:

First, it gathers the ideas of the masses. It figures out (a) what particular problems they most want to solve, and even more importantly (b) what they understand to be the root cause of those particular problems, (c) how they believe those particular problems can best be addressed by collective action in the community, and (d) why they believe those problems will be best solved by those methods.

So then, second, the communists take these ideas about what the problems are and what the masses believe should be done about it and why, and they analyze them with communist theory:

There will be three groups:

A small group of “backwards,” a larger group of “intermediates,” and a small group of “advanceds”. What is this a measurement of? Two combined things: revolutionary consciousness and commitment to revolution.

So you take the ideas of the most advanced in the area you’re working in and sharpen them, retaining their essence but amplifying their revolutionary content into (a) slogans that are sharpened forms of the concepts they themselves have spoken to you in and (b) a campaign based around their ideas for how to accomplish the task at hand. e.g., if they say the rent is too high and they mention that everybody’s suffering from it, we may decide to say, “you’re right, let’s turn our collective suffering into a collective strength by forming a tenant’s union and going on a rent strike,” also pointing out in the terms they use how landlords try to get as high of rent as possible, and how the whole government colludes with them to keep them able to collect rent, and that the cops work with the landlords, etc.

You then present this campaign and slogans back to the advanced. and if you’ve done your work right, the advanced will love this campaign that is very much from their own ideas, and they will rally a large section of the intermediates (who are their friends and family and co-workers) to the campaign as well.

if you do your campaign right, some of the advanced will become communists, some of the intermediates will become advanced, and some of the backwards will have become intermediates; and hopefully the few “diehard” backwards in the population (e.g., committed white supremacists, pimps, and anyone else committed to making a living by preying on the masses) will be more isolated and less able to harm the masses.

then you repeat and repeat, the more communists you recruit, the more of the population you can “mass line” with. the more of the population you can “mass line” with, the more communists you can recruit, and so on.

this is the method the bolsheviks used for the most part, but it wasn’t really theorized. Mao systematized and theorized it, and now groups all over the world use it.

MAOISM HAS THE GREATEST SUCCESS WORLDWIDE

the most successful communist revolutions in the world right now are all Marxist-Leninist-Maoist revolutions. the revolution in the Philippines is such a massive force in the country that the government recently unilaterally declared a ceasefire for a little while.

additionally, the most theoretically advanced and sharpest revolution in the world, the people’s war in India, is also steadily gaining ground. if you look at the maps, it’s important to understand that they’ve recently pivoted toward the cities to better take advantage of the trend of the increasing importance of cities in that country’s economy, not suffered some great defeat.

there’s also the fact that the most advanced communist movement in a part of the world that resembles OUR situation, the DHKP-C in Istanbul, is heavily inspired by Mao, very much running the mass line to build base areas in urban neighborhoods where the cops and soldiers cannot go, to steadily expand outward from.

MAOISM HAS THE GREATEST LEGACY OF RECENT SUCCESS IN THE UNITED STATES

without question the single most successful communist organizations in modern times in the united states were the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords, and other groups like them, in addition to the groups of the New Communist Movement such as the Revolutionary Union. they were all either explicitly Maoist or heavily inspired by Mao; you probably know that the BPP read and sold Quotations from Chairman Mao.

but even more important than that, they ran the mass line, or something much like it. the BPP met the masses’ basic needs (using “Serve the People” programs after a slogan from revolutionary China), which provided a point of contact at which to politicize the masses and bring them in. and it worked—they and the other groups grew very quickly, in large part because they used this method.

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR SOCIALISM? CULTURAL REVOLUTION

the Chinese revolutionary experience also answers a very important question that has rightly and worriedly been raised by many different communist tendencies and non-communists who learned about the ideas of Marxism-Leninism: how do you keep your centralized power apparatus from turning on the people?

in China, although it came too late, they realized the solution: indeed, as many have supposed, a new bourgeoisie does constantly arise within the communist party under socialism. however, it does not arise equally and uniformly—some individuals will become corrupted, others will not.

what is the answer? Maoism holds that “the people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history” and that “the masses are the real heroes, while we ourselves are often childish and ignorant.” the masses know what’s up, they can tell when someone in the party or other position of power is getting corrupted or capitalist-minded, wanting to use their power to serve themselves instead of serving the people.

so the solution is the cultural revolution: call upon the masses to “bombard the headquarters,” pulling out and denouncing all corrupt party members and other people in authority, as well as criticizing all aspects of culture that these authorities use to try to legitimize their corrupt power.

Maoism recognizes that the state isn’t actually exactly going to wither away on its own; you have to help the process along. since the idea of the end goal of communism, to be achieved through a transitional socialist period, is that you don’t need a state anymore because the masses themselves have assumed all the tasks of the state and exercise them collectively, cultural revolution is a way of fostering that process by encouraging the masses to take initiative and become emboldened to start running society themselves directly to an ever growing extent.

a state is still necessary during this time, and will be necessary until (a) all the rest of the countries of the world have gone socialist and no longer pose an external threat and (b) the internal economy and culture have been so transformed that “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need” is a realistic material possibility, and is something that will actually happen. once that occurs, you have one final cultural revolution that abolishes the state for good, and communism is achieved, and the masses run society directly. no other method will get us there but cultural revolution. but you need the state to stay purely proletarian up to that point, and cultural revolution is the process by which the masses purge it of bourgeois elements and keep it the *people’s* party.

A GENUINELY VIABLE STRATEGY FOR ACHIEVING POWER: PROTRACTED PEOPLE’S WAR

finally, Maoism offers the communist movement a systematized political-military strategy for achieving power for the working class far superior to any other ever developed. the Bolshevik method was a successful one for their time, but all attempts to duplicate it have led to failure and massive, crushing reaction.

the Maoist strategy, which MLMs hold is universal to all countries, recommends a different strategy from the Bolshevik method of insurrection.

instead of staying mostly legal until one glorious lucky moment when you risk it all, instead we do it slow and steady. it has three, you might say four stages.

first, build forces. serve the people. win their hearts. live among and merge with them. this stage has many legal components, and it can happen in regions instead of across the whole country.

second, once you have support among people who love and trust the communists and offer them support, the movement begins a guerrilla warfare strategy. the guerrillas can “swim through the masses like the fish through the sea,” using 10-on-1 ambush tactics to slowly weaken the state, steal their arms and resources both for the party and to serve the people with, train your soldiers, kill enemies of the people (e.g., fascists, particularly corrupt and vicious police, violent criminals who prey on the people) as a way to serve the people and win their hearts and trust, and inspire the people to join.

third, this leads to a time when there are “base areas,” where the communists have power and the cops and soldiers fear to go. here you can begin outright building the embryo of socialist society, and using these areas to produce resources that strengthen the movement and politicize the masses and spread the revolution to other parts of the country. the tactics remain guerrilla tactics, but they are many more attacks than there were before, and the sheer number of such attacks is creating a pressure on the state that the pinpricks from the previous stage could not.

finally, once there are enough base areas, you start taking whole cities in a more conventional fashion, first starting with the small ones, then moving to the large ones. once you have those, you can surround the main cities and bring to bear a whole country’s worth of resources on the holdouts.

this is how you turn a country socialist in our day and age. this is what is happening in the philippines and in india, and it damn near happened in peru in the 90s, is about to start happening again in nepal after it stopped in 2006, and is going to also start up in Afghanistan before long, too. and something much like this is also happening in Turkey right now. people all over the world are working on getting this strategy up and running in their countries.

other important aspects of PPW

* the weapon of the people is the people’s army. the people’s army is an army of a new type, because (a) it is not like an imperialist army where they go among the masses and leech off of them; instead, it is a toiling/producing army and actually goes out in the field and participates in productive labor to help the people eat, and to support themselves; (b) it is a politicizing army, constantly learning from the masses and teaching them to help them more sharply understand the mechanism of their specific exploitation and oppression and realize the necessity of revolution in fully resolving it, and so on.

* the “united front” is a strategy that recognizes that not everyone who can and will work to bring the government down needs to be a communist or a Maoist. the united front is a vast movement, much bigger than the party but guided by the party, that consists of mass organizations that the communists control or which are allied to the communists without necessarily being run by them. this recognizes that, for instance, the petty bourgeoisie, who are a huge group in the united states, might not have the same class interests as the proletariat, so they can’t LEAD the revolution, but many of them will *support it* because hey, they recognize that we live in a sham democracy and they want to live in a real democracy where they will have a meaningful voice, and also where crime and other ills of society have disappeared because people are truly taken care of. and after all, the petty bourgeoisie are still being oppressed by the big, monopoly capitalists. so you win over and provide revolutionary guidance to sections of all the groups that may not be proletarian but still have an interest in revolution.

* as i sort of mentioned in passing above, the enemy can’t defeat PPW militarily. the soldiers are one with the people. and the capitalist-imperialists cannot kill the soldiers without killing all the people. and they can’t kill all the people, because then there would be no one to keep producing for them. so they’re stuck—they cannot actually kill the militants more often than the militants kill them. in this way, the militants can slowly accrue guns, and experience, and leech the enemy’s resources to build their movement and serve the people, and bleed the imperialists, coming out when they are sure to win and never attacking otherwise. this is how the Chinese communists took down a numerically larger and better-armed force. a similar method is how an outnumbered and outgunned Vietnam drove out the u.s. it is how communists damn near toppled the capitalist governments in Peru and in Nepal, how they are growing quite close to toppling the capitalist government of the Philippines, and why they have survived over the decades and are a large and growing phenomenon in India, starting from a very small number.

* the old, Bolshevik strategy (insurrection) requires waiting for the exact right moment and risks it all. one of the premises of insurrection is correct insofar as it says that there will be crises in capitalism—there definitely always are. however, the insurrectionary strategy is foolish insofar as it says “wait with a bunch of untested ‘soldiers’ for the exact right moment, then entirely play your hand.” this strategy has failed again and again after its first success in 1917. meanwhile, if instead you have a live, active, fully-trained and fully-committed core of communists ready at every moment, then when each crisis comes, they can fan out, make maximum use of the crisis, and then return to their regular strategy once the crisis moment has receded. in this way, the crises are still used and territory is still gained, but the risks are very low compared to the rewards. lasting through time, you can learn over many crises how to “ride the wave” of them, and your timing will get better and better, and you know you will survive even if you don’t make good use of a crisis, instead of risking everything on a moment you aren’t even prepared for, as is called for by insurrection.

that is dope! what next?

If you feel like you need a little more clarity on some of the things in this post, check out “How to learn everything a communist ought to know, from the beginning.”

If you want to know how to start doing Maoist organizing, check out Red Guards Austin’s position paper “Condemned to Win.”

If you like what RGA suggests as far as undertaking Maoist organizing and need at least two more MLM comrades to found a Maoist collective with, check out “Some suggestions on how to help others in your area become Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organizers.”

The people alone are the motive force of history, and “Why not both voting and organizing?” is self-contradictory liberalism

dont-mean-shit-2

The concept that voting changes anything gets it completely backward. What happens is, the masses move and threaten the system’s profitability, and the ruling class calculatedly grants concessions.

No candidate will risk upsetting their super-rich backers by granting concessions If the masses have not made it clear that inaction will be more costly than granting them.

If we want both concessions and revolution, we can build a party, a people’s headquarters, that can unite and coordinate all the various liberation struggles so they can overlap and empower each other, growing bigger, more disruptive, more coordinated, and more rebellious over time.

If we want nothing, we can waste our energy getting out the vote and trying to convince people that voting is what changes things, instead of mass action.

These two conceptions of how politics work are mutually exclusive—winning someone to “voting changes things” is precisely to win them away from understanding the genuinely empowering truth: the people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history.

We need more Fergusons, Baltimores, and Standing Rocks. And even more than that, we need a party—we need a people’s headquarters to help people struggling everywhere link their struggles up and support each other as strategically as possible.

And we need a people’s army, to keep the pigs out of our shit as we build and grow a new world where the authorities are just people themselves, chosen by the community and wholly accountable to them.

Edit to elaborate, September 23, 2016:

Q: Shouldn’t revolutionaries advocate voting for someone who can create a more viable situation in which to make revolution?

A: Two-part answer:

First, at the higher levels, the will of the politician never gets any meaningful “life of its own.” They never cause meaningful change in themselves, they aren’t a motive force–the election results are only ever one filter through which the capitalist class tries to read the will of one subsection of the masses. It is the capitalist class that determines government policy, not the whim of whichever politician got elected, and what the capitalists end up doing is determined by the state of class struggle at any given time, not the voting turnout. Thus, voting at this level literally cannot “create” these situations–only the masses in uprising can do that.

Second, at the lower levels, the politician has some room to maneuver and make their own decisions, but still only within the confines of what is acceptable to the capitalist class, who have a thousand ways to ensure the politician doesn’t leave those bounds. There is nothing such a politician could do that would be so helpful to the communist movement that it could pay for the “cost” of having alleged revolutionaries encouraging people to vote. That’s the key factor that this question refuses to consider: advocating a vote is not a “cost-free” act for the revolutionary movement.

What makes revolution is when the broad masses themselves become revolutionary. An irreplaceable part of the process of the masses becoming revolutionary is the correct leadership of communists. This involves those communists orienting around the most class-conscious sections of the proletariat and helping them bring the rest of the proletariat forward. The fact is, the most class-conscious sections of the proletariat are already those with the lowest voting turnout and most cynical attitude toward the entire process. They are the “train car” that must be linked to the communist movement to bring the entire consciousness of the proletariat forward. If you try to link up the communist movement to the less class-conscious middle sections, who are kind of cynical but kind of think we might get some progress out of the electoral system, you abandon the advanced sections, and the middle sections aren’t able to lead anyone anywhere but back into the electoral system. Meanwhile, the advanced section would then (rightly) think the “communist” movement is full of shit and would go on to formulate its own theories about how to make revolution, which would invariably be lacking in the historical lessons the communists movement could have offered, and would resort to individual acts of violence and riots, neither of which can overthrow capitalism.

I wrote this in 2011 while I was trying to quit cigarettes and wanted to post it, because I think it’s really captures well a certain feeling. I think I know now the answer to the question about what the nonaddict does.

Song of Cursing Written before a Carillon Tower in Mid-July

A thunderstorm hot in hot clouds,
   the wet gray of no relief, matte on the sky.

“Oh no.”—the world contrary to plans.
[ed: almost like, “o no”—noticing negation itself, invoking it.]

Mutilation is hell, but a little at a time
    is fine.

And what I want is the ruination of utter change,
   the dice falling like burning stones
    on every atom.

The river running under my skin
   asking for good wounds clean hits,
    sharp cuts. A shot, a hit, a smoke,

the heat on all my body, my every cell a wideeyed
   martyr eternally being run through with a spear.

What does the nonaddict do with all their hard-won freedom?*
   What is love if you cannot speak and cannot hear?

* That scene in IJ where the guy distracts himself exactly zero to avoid any possible addiction and turns into dust on a chair (or something like that).

What is a world that can’t withstand a dragon’s breath?
   The (Century) Tower from the 4th floor [ed: of Library West].

The Tower: return to atoms.

The sum of your parts is greater
   than the whole.

See, your defensiveness and your hesitation, your neuroses, none are you. So what’s a sword of rust punching through your breastplate?

I, too, am nothing,
  but you will have to
    kill me to prove it.

It is reactionary to demand that organizers withhold criticism from other organizers who face different types or degrees of oppression

In the united states, the white working class can’t get free without the success of black, brown, and indigenous liberation, and by that same token, each of these liberation struggles alone can’t win unless the struggle is generalized to include all nationalities of working people, including sections of white workers. We are comrades, our struggles are connected, and they are against the same enemy.

More broadly, the success of the oppressed and exploited people of the world anywhere is a victory for the oppressed and exploited people of the world everywhere. The oppressed and exploited people of the world all have a common struggle.

In light of that, it must be said that criticism that is intended to increase clarity and reduce errors is a gift. Our stake in the success or failure of this common task gives us all the right to offer constructive criticism to anyone in this struggle, even if we do not share their specific oppression—as long as we have undertaken a thorough and careful investigation that leads us to believe that what we have to say will be genuinely useful, and then offer it respectfully.

Our respect for others fighting in other wings of this joint liberation struggle means we owe it to our comrades to make these criticisms, as long as we make them in a principled way and not for petty point-scoring or individualistic advance.

All told, it is patronizing not to offer valid criticism, when we feel we have it to offer, for fear that the recipient will refuse it because of our social position. Someone who is sincerely dedicated to liberation listens to criticism and accepts what is true in it regardless of the source. To decline to give criticism for such hand-wringing reasons is the opposite of respectful and comradely behavior.

And finally it should be said that the idea that someone who doesn’t suffer from a particular oppression cannot offer anything of value to someone who does suffer from it is contradicted by hundreds of years of liberation struggles that have overlapped and influenced each other: Baltimore to Palestine, Vietnam and the Black Panther Party, revolutionary feminism being inspired by black liberation, Leninism being adopted by anti-colonial movements, Marxism being used in the Chinese struggle against feudalism, imperialism, and capitalism, and Maoism being used to forward indigenous liberation struggles across the planet—and so on. We can help each other, and we should.

While each liberation struggle must without a doubt be led by those who endure that oppression, none of us will win if we believe that each struggle must only use ideas arising from people who share a sufficiently similar type or degree of oppression.