Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan on Avakian’s ‘New Synthesis’ and the Iranian Maoist’s ‘New Theoretical Framework’
In recent years the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA) [RCP(USA)] and the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) [CPI(MLM)] have been vigorously advocating Bob Avakian’s ‘new synthesis’ as being an epistemological rupture from Marxism-Leninism-Maoism through the production of a theoretical synthesis of the lessons of the ‘first wave’ of communism (the Paris Commune, the Russian and Chinese revolutions, and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution), and Avakian’s solution to the crisis within the communist project. This vigorous proselytism, and this is the only reason why Avakian’s ‘new synthesis’ even warrants a post on this blog, has been disastrous for the international Maoist movement, which had ostensibly taken form in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (although 2 major parties, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and the Communist Party of the Philippines were not members), as it was the last nail in the coffin of that organizations gradual death. The ‘new synthesis’ cannot be solely blamed for the death of the RIM, as there were many contributing factors including the political/theoretical crises posed by the Peruvian and Nepalese revolutions, the lack of capacity to mobilize people around international solidarity campaigns etc. The ‘A World to Win’ magazine has largely ceased to exist as a new issue does not seem forthcoming and the last issue was published in 2006. Thankfully, there seems to be a new nascent Maoist grouping that has started around the magazine ‘Maoist Road’ and includes the RCP(Canada), the Maoist Party of Italy and possibly the CARC, the French Maoists, although until date none of the Third World comrades has joined its ranks.
I must admit that I find the ‘new synthesis’ to be quite underwhelming as many of Avakian’s insights have either been heavily debated in the last 30 years and Avakian’s own insights either a) do not reflect the already existing rich debate (especially in regards to his epistemological rupture with vulgar elements of Marxist philosophy and practice, the nature of truth, or even his re-structuration of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat); b) or are simply wrong in my opinion (his recourse to morality, his erroneous understanding of proletarian internationalism which is grounded in an incorrect understanding of determinations within a given conjuncture, or even his vision of the road to revolution in imperialist countries); c) or are simply unable to actually grasp the new limits of Marxist that have been established in recent years including the appropriation of lessons from Marxist semiotics, anti-psychiatry or psycho-analysis/schizoanalsysis, gender and race analysis, contemporary sciences and maths, the fuller history of communist revolutionary practice and theory etc. Indeed, Avakian’s ‘new synthesis’ is so limited and narrow that it is far too small an intervention into the crisis that Marxism-Leninism-Maoism faces in 1) theory generally; 2) the capture of state-power in imperialist countries; 3) and the successful transition to a Stateless society. It is too little, too flawed and too late. Unfortunately, until now no one has really produced a document that thoroughly rebukes the ‘new synthesis’, however, the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan’s rebuke of both the RCP(USA) [posted below] and CPI(MLM)’s [available here] makes some initial steps into doing so. I have also made the Communist Party of India [Naxalbari]‘s initial critique of the RCP(USA) in the latest issue of their theoretical journal available here. I also know that the Revolutionary Communist Party (Canada) has also been working on its own theoretical position and that a partial version was presented at the Maison Norman Bethune recently. Perhaps after the larger international Maoist movement has consigned the ‘new synthesis’ and all of those who continue to persist to hold onto it to the dustbin of history, the movement can take the steps forward to re-group and rebuild a vibrant international communist movement that is capable of solving the problems and carrying out the tasks necessary to making revolution around the world.
The following document was adopted by the fourth plenum of the central committee of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan. This document was an internal document, and was distributed within our Party, also we tried to distribute this document as an internal document within the members of Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM), including the Committee of RIM and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Now, since the RCP’s new line which is the subject of discussion in this document has been broadly publicized internationally and is no more an internal line issue within RIM. Moreover, since the publication of RIM’s internal journal and the overall activities of the Committee of RIM, including the publication of the international journal – A World to Win – under the negative influence of the wide spread of RCP’s new line and the political activities related to it have been suspended. Since the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran (M-L-M) under deep and wide-ranging negative influence of RCP’s new line has recently published an open post-Marxist-Leninist-Maoist document very similar to RCP’s new Manifesto in its organ Haqiqat without carrying an internal discussion with the participants of RIM including our party. Thus, the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan is compelled to carry its struggle openly against RCP’s new line, which is also now accepted by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran (M-L-M). The open publication of the document adopted by the fourth plenum of the central committee of our party is a first step towards an open theoretical struggle against the post Marxist-Leninist-Maoist line which is on road towards the ideological liquidation of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the organizational liquidation of RIM.
One of the issues under discussion in the fourth plenum of the central committee of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan was the discussion concerning the political line of the Revolutionary Communist Party’s (RCP) new manifesto and constitution, especially in the context of the general discussion about the current state of Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). The plenum following the previous internal discussions about the RCP’s current position in its new constitution and in its new manifesto re-emphasized that this issue is an important matter that concerns the RIM, and the international communist movement as a whole, and reached the following conclusions:
- In text of the RCP’s new constitution––and also in its Manifesto that constantly refers to “Bob Avakian’s new synthesis”––there is no mention of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Nor is there is any mention of Lenin and Mao in the constitution itself. Furthermore, Marx and Engels are referred to only once, while Avakian’s name appears continuously. Lenin and Mao are mentioned only in the appendix.
In the entire text, there is no explanation for this disregard. The only apparent reason for this dismissal is that Marx and Engels––along with Lenin, Mao and Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in general––are considered part of a past that is no longer relevant.
In this specific situation, despite the fact that there are claims in the text regarding the continuation and the evolution of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to a higher stage, Bob Avakian’s synthesis, rather than being the development and evolution of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to a higher stage, is a rupture from it all.
- The RCP’s new constitution and Manifesto divides the entire history of the international communist movement, the history of the proletarian revolutions, and the science and ideology of the revolutionary proletarian into two stages. According to this division the first stage starts with the publication of the Manifesto of the Communist Party in 1848 and continues until the defeat of the revolution in China in 1976, and the second and contemporary stage begins with “Bob Avakian’s new synthesis”. Furthermore, the new constitution and manifesto state plainly that first stage belongs to the past.
This division into two stages is not compatible with the different phases of the evolution of capitalism: the two phases of free competition capitalism during the time of Marx and Engels and the imperialist stage of capitalism described by Lenin and which continues until now. Nor is it compatible with the different phases of the evolution of the science and ideology of the revolutionary proletariat, the phases of Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, as well as the need for the possible evolution and beginning of a fourth phase. The only criteria given for this division is Bob Avakian’s new synthesis and its outcome, the publication of RCP’s new manifesto, as the second manifesto after the Manifesto written by the Marx and Engels in 1848.
3. In the RCP’s new constitution, a final general insurrection that would lead to the overthrow of the ruling imperialist power and the establishment of the new revolutionary proletarian power is not explicitly expressed as a general armed insurrection. The title chosen for this subject in the RCP’s new constitution is unclear and ambiguous: ” To seize power, the revolutionary people must meet and defeat the enemy.” The text following this title vaguely discusses the “… for the revolutionary struggle to succeed, it will need to meet and defeat that violent repressive force of the old exploitative and oppressive order. ” without specifically and concretely examining the need for the initiation and continuation of general armed insurrection. Moreover, while the United Front under the leadership of the proletariat is separately mentioned as a strategy for the initiation and continuation of revolution, there is no discussion of the other weapon of revolution from the three weapons of revolution––that of the revolutionary armed forces. In the same section the RCP writes: “… the ruling class and the reactionary armed forces (and other reactionaries) it is able to marshal, on the one side, and the revolutionary movement of millions, and tens of millions, on the other—will face off. Society will then become more or less “compressed” around one or the other of the contending “poles.” The concept of the armed insurrection and the role of the revolutionary armed forces under the leadership of revolutionary proletarian party are also unclear.
- The RCP’s new constitution and manifesto ignore the entire existence of RIM and its positive and negative experience of struggle, including the experiences of peoples’ wars in Peru and in Nepal. The entire 25 years of RIM is only mentioned in passing in a section about the divisions in the international communist movement following the defeat of Chinese revolution; even this mention, in the final analysis, is dismissed as an experience of defeat. Given the fact that the RCP has been the most effective party in the formation of RIM and in its leadership, due to it having the most effective role in the Committee of RIM, this kind of unprincipled and seriously irresponsible behavior can have––and to a certain extent already has had––a more negative impact on the existence, continuation and evolution of the efforts of RIM than the deviation in the revolutions of Peru and Nepal. This kind of unprincipled and irresponsible conduct in regards to RIM will negatively affect the RCP, which to a large extent has already happened. RIM declared the formation of a communist international as its prime objective; now, with the RCP’s complete disregard of the existence and efforts of RIM in its manifesto and constitution, the struggle for the formation of a communist international has been dropped from the list of urgent, or even trivial, objectives of the RCP. In such a situation the efforts for the propagation of the RCP’s new manifesto and constitution, particularly “Bob Avakian’s Synthesis”, can only be the illustration of a narrow nationalistic and supremacist vision under the pretext of proletarian internationalism and the need for the international communist movement.
- There is no doubt that the ultimate goal of communists is a communist world without exploitation and oppression and the total emancipation of humanity with a corresponding political and cultural superstructure. Until achieving a classless communist society, however, in the long history of class societies, including in socialist societies, it is the revolutionary class struggle that is the locomotive of the historical evolution of human society not a “humanism” above and beyond class struggle. We can speak of a communist humanism, but not as a principle superior to class struggle at the expense of diluting class struggles. The principle for communists in class societies, even during socialism, should and must be the continuation of class struggle. This principle was asserted by Marx and Engels in their Manifesto and we communists should firmly uphold it. The crude humanism that is posited in the RCP’s new constitution and manifesto (beside other aspects of the line put forward in these documents such as the lack of emphasis on the principle of the proletarian dictatorship, the lack of emphasis on the continuation of revolution under proletarian dictatorship by proposing it under the guise of “continuation of revolution under socialism,” the lack of a strategy of armed insurrection for seizing political power, the disregard for RIM, and the disregard for the immediate duty of the formation of the new communist international, etc.), dilutes the class struggle in the party’s new line.
These are the main points that form the overall incorrect line of the strategic orientation presented in the RCP’s new manifesto and constitution. At the same time, however, there are many other tactical positions in the text that are contrary to our conclusion that exist alongside other incorrect tactical positions in the text. In our opinion, unfortunately, the correct tactical orientation in the two documents under discussion serves to justify a seriously unacceptable and flawed strategic orientation. If this problematic strategic orientation continues to affect the party’s political line, then even the correct tactical orientations will gradually disappear.
Presenting our critique in this manner does not mean ignoring the previous commendable contributions of the RCP to revolution in American and the international communist movement, nor does it mean ignoring the positive aspects present in “Avakian’s New Synthesis” and the overall positive aspects of the two documents. Nevertheless, the path that the RCP has travelled to reach its current line is similar to the earlier developments in the Communist Party of Peru and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) that led to “Gonzalo Thought” and “Parachanda Path”, respectively. Both of these aforementioned parties, by relying on very commendable theoretical and practical contributions and integrating them with some incorrect formulations, made the unprincipled and empty claim of a qualitative ideological development to a higher level; this led the two revolutions their respective peoples’ wars toward deviations and defeat. The RCP also exaggerates in evaluating its significant and commendable contributions, confusing their contributions with fundamentally wrong and incorrect formulations in order to claim that the evolution of their political line has reached a higher level. Unfortunately, however, the RCP’s progress in this wrong direction is much deeper and more extensive than the Communist Party of Peru and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Thus, the RCP has reached and adopted an incorrect post-Marxist-Leninist-Maoist path that does not develop Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to a higher stage, but is determined to erase all past developments. Thus, the main duty of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan regarding the erroneous line discussed above is to wage a struggle against this post-Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, pacifist, humanist, supremacist, and its non-internationalist strategic orientation.
Carrying this struggle forward requires, for our party, future engagement in a detailed discussion. We should always and keenly keep in mind the lessons learned from the experiences of the Communist Party of Peru and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Failing to provide the proper theoretical and practical attention, and being lax in this regard, or acting with unreasonable optimism under the guise of communist internationalist camaraderie, is not only incorrect and unprincipled but is also not in our long term advantage.
Central Committee of Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan
21 august 2009