A relatively recent thread in the Marxist Center group on Facebook was about a meme Bhaskar Sunkara shared about how the left is too weird. In the main post and many comments, they tried to convince themselves why they’re all fine as-is and don’t need to change, for various reasons.
But the existing left is weird, and that is a problem, and I very much recognize the problem in myself also. Because there is MLM as a set of understandings–and this framework can be rephrased and conveyed in every language and in every culture, just as mathematics can. And then there is US leftism as a culture. And far too many people mistake “US leftist culture”–the inherited ways of communicating, the aesthetic, the norms and customs–for the “math” itself.
The existing left is so up its own ass with its own culture, with ~ ? w e i r d ? ~ internet culture and other varieties. Fuck communist memes. Fuck the fetishization of historical figures and events. An unbelievably intense individualism–so pervasive it’s invisible to people like the air they breathe–is the opium that prevents people from seeing just how badly they need to abandon all of this shit. People need to sober up and quit playing in traffic. People need to quit treating the existing left like a place to retreat to. We should be NOTHING LIKE radical liberals. Foster hobbies that put you in spaces where true masses of people are, especially working-class people. Leftism as a culture should be cancelled for anyone who aspires to be a Maoist. And when it’s rebuilt, as I heard a comrade brilliantly put it recently, it should be the advanced segment of proletarian culture, not its own thing completely alien and self-alienating from the working class.
The people’s wars in India, the Philippines, and Peru all had foundational “intellectuals going to the lowest segments of the toiling people” efforts. Geographically we may not have to travel as far as they did, but the cultural break we make should be just as decisive.
Let the Mensheviks embalm themselves–we need to keep destroying whatever is stale or irrelevant in ourselves, over and over again. And it will be uncomfortable, and we need to stay uncomfortable forever. We need to not hold anything back when criticizing ourselves and each other. That is the only way we will become and remain the living force in the world we need to be.