Something from January 9:

I’m very near the end of “Fire and Fury.” The book’s whole deal is to try to show again and again that Trump is in some way mentally unfit and that his family, who have helped to run his presidency, are also hapless fools.

But really, the whole preening bourgeois circus extends miles beyond these few characters in the White House. All the liberal celebrities eager at the thought of Oprah becoming president, these liberal politicians claiming to #Resist Trump, are fools. The author of this book is a fool. The closest thing to a protagonist in this seemingly anti-Trump book is Bannon, a fascist. And though the liberal bourgeoisie may claim not to support the same policies as Bannon, instead they’re breeding fascism through their relentless harping on Russia and facilitating the growth and arming of groups like Daesh.

There is less room at the top year after year in falling U.S. imperialism, so the disputes, as they shove each other around for room, are getting much sharper. It’s all a massive decadent, childish, egotistical spectacle. The whole thing would be pathetic if not for the fact that it also keeps hundreds of millions of people in living, ongoing torture while burning the planet up. The book tries to paint all the apparatchiks–Mueller, Comey, Obama, the establishment people–as being basically grown-ups, basically sober. But these people are decadent in that they have lost their souls–they all have the “police personality,” flattened emotionally, dried up, paternal. They salute the flag, offer fake smiles and wave, and arrange for fascist death squads.

None of these people have anything to offer humanity. They cannot even think. All they can do is react. They can all be utterly destroyed, right here in the belly of the beast, if we dare to make it happen.


Destroy the “subculture of communism,” make yourself truly appealing to the working class

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.

Killing “leftist” fragility: The roughness of the working class is the power that drives history

Many self-identified leftists, even people in the MLM orbit, are way too squeamish, way too easily hurt or upset. And not all but most of these people have not spent a lot of time—if any at all—with people in the lower sections of the masses. These self-id’d leftists would find it hard to handle how proletarian people often behave: They are often crude and direct. They do not use PC language. They are often enough angry and raw and intense.

To be frank, I think most of these self-id’d leftists don’t realize what a huge hindrance this helpless surrender to sensitivity is, and actually imagine that it’s a virtue. I honestly think they imagine that as they win working-class people to revolution, they will soften them, “civilize” them, make them gentler and more like Leftbook or radical-liberal Tumblr says people should be: You are valid!

This is exactly the opposite of the truth.

The violence, the rawness, this isn’t a side effect, not just something unfortunate that petit-bourgeois people must reluctantly tolerate. Get it straight: it’s the fuel of everything we’re doing. It is in fact the exact power that makes the toiling people the motive force in the making of history. This fire is exactly what we should be seeking out. This anger is what rebellion is made of. There will not in a million years be a people’s war without it.

If you claim to be a revolutionary, comrade, you are asking for *war*. Mao was being polite when he tried to tell you that revolution is not a tea party. He meant that revolution requires unbelievable emotional and physical pain. It requires us to ultimately accept even people we’re fighting alongside being curt with us. This is not to say that we shouldn’t struggle to be good to each other—we should, but it is rarely the primary aspect. And most important at all times is that our politics are as correct as they possibly can be.

MLM is not an identity, and treating MLM as an identity means you are not a Maoist or even a Marxist

What I have been struggling to say, why I want to scream at people to read “Reform Our Study,” here is how I can put it. Let’s start here: we are literally, literally at war. There are fascists who want to kill us, who know many of our names and faces. Even if they don’t, they would love to kill someone they learned is a communist, or an anarchist, and they don’t care how good an organizer you are—they would like to see you bleeding out from a gunshot. But there is an attitude that many self-identified leftists go around with in their daily practice, in the attitudes that they take as they move through the world, that is basically not sober—it is like people are very drunk, or like children, wandering through traffic. The middle class is like this—it is frivolous and unserious and lighter-than-air in the same way that drunk people are. And for almost all of us, we live in situations where people are not actively trying to kill us. What I mean is, we are not guerrillas whose whole life concretely revolves around combat to the death. And so, Marxism teaches us that because we are living in this type of environment—surrounded by people who are modeling this lack of sobriety for us and being unavoidably seduced into indulging in some of the distractions and comforts that surround us—we are actively having our consciousness influenced to live in a less and less sober way, to pay less and less attention to the deadly danger that we are in.

Nothing is stationary in this universe. It is moving backward or moving forward. Every few days I read a short set of reminders I wrote for myself to keep this in the forefront of my mind, because I know as a Marxist that my mind is being influenced to forget this danger. This is what Mao is talking about when he says that you have to regularly, indefinitely, sweep a room to keep it clean, but a comrade pointed out to me that an even better metaphor is working out regularly. You will not stay mentally where you need to be in a genuine way, in an actual way, unless you are regularly, repeatedly, habitually bringing the truths of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to your mind. You are going to die one day, and it could be any day, and that should never be far from your mind. You could get killed any day—so how do you want to live? Because forgetting this does not change whether you’re going to die, or when—all it means is you have the same amount of time to live, but you’re being less conscious with how you spend it.

This is what I have been dying to say to people when I try to tell them that they are not yet Maoists. You are not a Maoist if you have simply read the tenets once and agreed with them, never taking them up again. If you were a Marxist, in fact, you would grasp that this is true. Your mind is not a book, it is so much more like a muscle. It does not qualitatively change, it does not become a tool for applying Marxism simply from reading Marxist works once. You have to live with the ideas of Marxism, breathe with them, learn them more and more truly through practice—bring them to every part of your life, repeatedly, intentionally, indefinitely. You can’t let one single part of your life go free of the ruthless criticism that Marxism will bring to it. This is very close to the essence of what makes Marxism Marxism—how you practice thinking is what makes you a Marxist or not. And this criticism applies just as much to first-day Maoists who treat MLM like an identity as it does to academic-ass revisionists who have read Lenin’s complete works, and Althusser and Lacan. They imagine that being a Marxist is treating their brains like a sheet of paper that they can write the titles of the books they’ve read on it, and that makes them a Marxist-Leninist. No, your brain is a muscle, you are either living and breathing with MLM, or you are not a Maoist. In this sense, I am barely a Maoist if I have ever been one yet. But if someone doesn’t understand that this is how it works, they have no chance of becoming a Maoist at all. And they have no chance whatsoever of being a revolutionary, which means providing leadership, which can only come from thinking through problems with a mind that has made Marxism not just a stamp in your passport, but the air you breathe.

A crucial point in adapting the wisdom from spiritual traditions into Maoism

From A Basic Understanding of the Communist Party of China:

“To conscientiously change our world outlook and completely adhere to the Party ideologically, we must also plunge into the three great revolutionary movements of class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment, and strive to change our world outlook in the process of these struggles. Facts show that only by standing in the forefront of class struggle and the two-line struggle can we grasp and make use of the characteristics and laws of class struggle in socialist society and increase our ability to distinguish genuine Marxism from sham. On the question of remoulding one’s world outlook, Liu Shao-chi peddled his trash on “self-cultivation” and advocated “shutting oneself up in one’s little room.” Lin Piao contended it was necessary to “launch revolution in our innermost being.” This nonsense totally negates the importance of social practice as well as the importance of studying Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought to remould one’s world outlook; it is pure idealistic apriorism.”

This post should be considered as part of an ongoing examination on this blog, the latest in this sequence of posts:

On Maoism’s ability to incorporate and be strengthened by what is sometimes called spirituality

Some more discussion of how “spirituality”/”the science of wisdom” fit into Maoism

Some reflections on my path toward communism, and some thoughts on methods and motivations for going onward

A few thoughts on what the bourgeoisie think the masses want, what everyone really wants, and not telling comforting lies about lives that stray from communism

The need for methods for cultivating deep and intense communist enthusiasm

To lose fear of sacrifice and death can allow one to think more clearly and be a better servant of the people

“What counts in war is not … the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit.”

The tensile strength of steel, the power of the heart muscles, the electronegativity of oxygen, the density of an engine block, the tightness of the bolt that locks the arm to the axle.

The assembly of our anatomy, impermeable at every point where it is not carefully tapered. The long and numerous pathways of chemical synthesis, learned through the pain of four billion years of mistakes.

The internal logic of every contradiction does not wait, does not mind, does not care. Not a bit of friction is handwaved out of existence, not a speck of momentum is ever ignored.

Not one atom in the universe will forgive your tiredness, your desire for rest from this precision. Not a thing is not always exactly, pristinely what it is.

We must learn tirelessly, learn as the self-playing instrument that is every living organism has learned, must pay and pay with pain and death.

As we strive to make ourselves into a mechanism to remove either the blood or the guns from every reactionary in the world, our love must move us to a ruthless vigilance.

When they come to kill you, if your rifle is not clean, if your magazines are not loaded, or you don’t know how to shoot, or you don’t know how to keep calm and aim and fire, or your comrades aren’t well rested, or aren’t trained themselves, or you haven’t drilled until it is second nature, or you have not designated a sentry, or if the sentry is distracted,

then you will die and your comrades will die, and the political economy you have learned, and the mass ties you have made, and your skill in leadership, and your knowledge of the enemy’s strategies will be destroyed, gone in a moment—like a dream—

and the proletariat of your country will once again lose its central nervous system, and the guns and the training and the coordination will be all the reactionaries’ for another few decades.

Or if you have dealt unflinchingly with the truth, exactly as it is, then we will move on, one step further toward the inexorable, exacting harmony struggling to be born here and everywhere on earth.