When the world’s masses are armed and armed with Maoism, communism will be safe: A culture of cultural revolution

Some thoughts I thought others might find productive on the need for communists to build and live in a culture of cultural revolution:

the cultural revolution taught us something of impossible-to-underestimate importance about humanity, including about day-to-day life even in capitalist society. here’s a quote from Red Guards Austin’s position paper:

“We hold that the lessons of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution must be upheld at every moment and at all levels of struggle, and that all who can rightly call themselves communists lead principled revolutionary lives and always seek to combat bourgeois interpersonal relationships; that there is no clear demarcating line between cadres’ personal lives, their mass work, and their political work; that one does not clock out from being a Maoist and must embody Maoist principles at all times.”

and one from RGA’s polemic against the NCP-LC’s bad gender practice:

“We believe that the lessons of the Cultural Revolution are universal—that unless we are actively strengthening revolutionary ideology within ourselves and our organizations, then we are actively succumbing to the liberal, bourgeois mindset that confronts us from every direction, a mindset referred to as bourgeois inner self. There is only one way to strengthen proletarian communist principles in this way and defeat internal revisionism and liberalism: all-around, frequent, deep-going criticism/self-criticism combined with collective struggle.”

cultural revolution is not something that can be separated from any aspect or moment of life for those who wish to see a world without money or class division, whether before or after the conquest of state power.

here’s an anecdote: shortly after i had broken with Trotskyism but before i had become a committed Maoist, i once went to a party hosted by one of the student mass organizations of one of the most vile ML-revisionist organizations in the united states.

it was alcohol-soaked, and the loudest voices and the people who were dominating the social environment were loud chauvinist men playing beer pong, saying edgy things, strutting around and noticeably ignoring or patronizing the women and non-men.

it left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and it made a lot more sense later when i learned that that organization harbors abusers.

these folks agree *intellectually* with the necessity of communism, and abstractly with cultural revolution. their organization’s line is, “well, you know, the cultural revolution was nice for china in that place and at that time.”

but they fail to see that there are actually really, really deep lessons in the cultural revolution. we have to combat the capitalist, the liberal, the patriarchal, the white supremacist, the transphobic, the ableist (and so on) in our minds, our collectives, and our movement at all times.

the folks these revisionist organizations have not yet broken with a principle that you can see manifested in the difference between Stalin and Mao on many different levels and ways: it is captured very clearly, for instance, in the fact while Stalin declared that class struggle had ended in the USSR, Mao said that class struggle continued and in fact heightened during the period of socialist transition to communism. in short, they do not embrace the lessons of the cultural revolution with their *whole lives*, and in every part of their organizational practice.

we absolutely will need probably dozens of Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution-sized cultural revolutions until communism. there is an “economy of scale” when it comes to social action, and only with these society-wide upheavals can everyone be emboldened by everyone else to undertake tasks of reform and transformation that, in normal times, they could not muster the resources and social support for–nor could sufficient clarity on the nature of the emerging problems be reached until the masses’ full collective attention is turned on them.

but we also will not even get to that point, we won’t even successfully unite the masses to conquer state power, unless we build a **culture of cultural revolution** that pervades everything we do, and which is organically embodied in living idioms, customs, manners, morals, rituals, and other cultural processes/patterns/practices that pervade all of society, one that will only deepen after the conquest of state power.

such a culture is the opposite of our current culture–criticism will be offered freely and constructively and will not draw arbitrary lines between private and public; it will be a good thing to criticize leadership; it will be a good thing to question received practices to ask whether they serve the people. Maoism can and must become embodied in a living culture that is not the property of some specialized group but is wielded by the masses on their own behalf.

we were in a study group for “State and Revolution” here in Austin relatively recently, and after someone pointed it out, we all agreed that none of us really accepted Lenin’s suggestion that the proletarian state would “wither away,” without struggle, on its own. we realized that it would indeed vanish, but that this would require countless intentional actions of the masses.

as Mao says, “As for the reactionaries in China, it is up to us to organize the people to overthrow them. Everything reactionary is the same; if you do not hit it, it will not fall. This is also like sweeping the floor; as a rule, where the broom does not reach, the dust will not vanish of itself.”

this truth also applies to the continuously-emerging reactionary aspects of the party. the party and all institutions must be hit over and over, and frequently, by the people, on every level and in every moment, so that everything reactionary falls out of them, until the state itself, along with all vestiges of reactionary culture, disappears. one totally necessary aspect of ensuring that this happens as needed is to ensure that all the masses are armed with a culture of cultural revolution.

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