The Workers Dreadnought

For International Socialism

Bob Avakian’s “New Synthesis”: A Critique, Part 3

with 28 comments

In this post I will be shifting away from a philosophical critique of the supposed innovativeness of Bob Avakian’s ‘new synthesis’ (available here and here) and look at its political implications on the ‘international dimensions’. This of course is particularly important in light of the collapse of the RIM, which Avakian’s ‘new synthesis’ played a considerable part, and contemporary attempts to rebuild a new RIM (for more discussion see my post about it here). Lenny Wolff points to two key texts by Avakian which ground this analysis, “Conquer the World” and “Advancing the World Revolutionary Movement: Questions of Strategic Orientation”, and I hope that in the future (perhaps this summer) to re-read those two texts and provide a more detailed analysis of them, however, for now I plan on dealing with the arguments that Wolff makes in his summation of the ‘new synthesis’. It is interesting, albeit not surprising, that Wolff actually makes no reference in this section of his presentation to either a) the RIM or b) more recent protracted peoples’ wars in Peru, Nepal and India. This is interesting because it is clear that some aspects of the line advanced by Avakian and Wolff are completely theoretically antithetical to the revolutionary attempts in those countries, and because  in fact one could find some of the causes for the demise for the RIM in the theses advanced here. However, lets really get into it. “Warp speed, Mr. Sulu. Engage!”

Wolff claims that Avakian, like a number of Marxist theorists around the world (Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt’s Empire being the most famous), “led in deepening Lenin’s analysis of imperialism, and the model that I just laid out also ruptured with what had become the dominant line in the communist movement”. Before I discuss what he claims to have ruptured with, and his brand spanking new theoretical solution, I just wanted to say this grandiose claim is not new and in fact a new theory of imperialism is kind of a holy grail in Marxist theory. However, what is odd is that Wolff’s account of how imperialism functions in the world, which I have not reproduced here but encourage you all to read, is simply a restatement of the classical Leninist view of imperialism; indeed, it does not even benefit from any additional analyses about settler-colonialism or financialization of markets etc. that other theorists have been developing from the 1970′s on. Indeed, simply Wolff claims that

Avakian upheld and deepened Lenin’s understanding that the division of the world between imperialist powers and oppressed nations had given rise within the imperialist powers to a section of the working class, and an even bigger section of the middle class, that not only benefitted materially from the parasitism and plunder of imperialism, but came to politically identify with their imperialist masters.

However, let us give Wolff and Avakian the benefit of the doubt and permit that perhaps the deepening of Lenin’s analysis actually has nothing to do with deepening our understanding of the nature of imperialism itself, as I assumed (and perhaps the task most necessary today, but nevertheless), but simply the manner in which the Leninist theory of imperialism is reconciled with over-accumulationist theories of capitalism in contradistinction to the dominant line. The dominant line that Avakian ruptured with was “a view that imperialism was in a general crisis and was headed straight to collapse”. I would like to quickly explain the dominant line and what I mean by over-accumulationist theories: the reason that imperialism was in general crisis, the dominant line argued, is because there was an over accumulation of capital by imperialists and the incapacity to re-invest their accumulated surplus value in the world market with a greater rate of return on their investment. The imperialists were unable to get a greater rate of return on their re-investment of surplus value because of the devaluation of capital in general due to the excessive amount of capital in the world market, thus leading imperialism into a general crisis. This indeed was a dominant line in the 1970′s, largely because of pronouncements by notable Marxist theoreticians and leaders like Mao Zedong saying so, and was indeed erroneous. It in fact overlooked the capacity of capital to constantly revolutionise itself through revolutions in different aspects of the production process (the digital revolution is one such radical revolution that dealt with the problem of over-accumulation in the late 1980′s and 90′s) through either extensive or intensive means. This dominant line is something that has been a number of parties have rejected, independent of Avakian, although some parties continue to argue that we are in the terminal stage of the general crisis (a position that I find to be too apocalyptic). However, Avakian does not make his intervention here on the plane of international political economy i.e. through a rupturing from over accumulationist theories or by studying the either extensive or intensive means through which over-accumulation can be temporarily resolved, but rather by arguing that, “these wars performed the function of “classical crises” under capitalism: the destruction of the old framework of capitalist accumulation, which had become too fettering, and the forging of a new one.” This truly is baffling, unless I am really missing something here, as there is nothing new about this argument as this is over-accumulation theory 101. However, perhaps Avakian was unable to enrol in over-accumulation theory 201 the following semester, or does not read contemporary Marxist theory journals (what I am saying, of course he doesn’t, they don’t print his speeches after all).

However, Avakian, Wolff and his compatriots feel that this new “innovation” in theory leads Avakian to another insight,

Avakian developed the principle that the class struggle in any particular country was more determined on the international plane than by the unfolding of contradictions within a given country somehow outside of, or divorced from, that context. The revolutionary situation that enabled Lenin to lead the Bolsheviks to seize power arose out of an international conjuncture of world war that radically affected the situation in Russia and enabled a breakthrough to be made; Lenin’s internationalism and his qualitatively deeper grasp of materialism and dialectics enabled him to see this possibility when, initially at least, everyone else in the leadership opposed the idea of going for revolution. Similarly, the Chinese Revolution occurred in a specific international context of World War 2 and invasion from Japan.

Now you can pervert this to mean that you can’t do anything if the international “balance of forces is unfavorable.” That’s not true—and revolution, or even revolutionary attempts, within specific countries can radically affect that balance of forces. But you are playing in an international arena, and you have to understand the dynamics on that level; the “whole” of the imperialist system is greater than the sum of the separate nations that make up its individual parts.

This truly is the first genuinely new argument that Avakian has made (finally!) as I know of no other group that argues this line. First of all, I appreciate that Wolff quickly dispels the most obvious criticism of the line is that it leads to a kind of pessimism which simply pushes revolution always to an undetermined future because the international “balance of forces is unfavourable”, and recognises that revolutions in a given country will actually change the balance of forces, sometimes radically. Furthermore, I do agree that revolutionaries around the world should be cognisant of the fact that they are playing in an international arena and need to understand the dynamics at that level (thus it is telling that organisations like the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Communist Party of the Philippines have both signed onto international laws regarding the modality of guerrilla warfare). But what I am not sure about, and am truly uncomfortable with, is the first proposition that he establishes i.e. “that the class struggle in any particular country was more determined on the international plane than by the unfolding of contradictions within a given country somehow outside of, or divorced from, that context.” I agree with Avakian that all domestic politics are partially determined by the international plane, indeed, that is the nature of imperialism. But it seems to me that Avakian overstates the case and underestimates the semi-autonomy between domestic and international planes, thus effectively allowing the international plane to simply determine the class struggle in any given country which results in him believing “that the class struggle in any particular country was more determined on the international plane”. There in fact seems to be an unconscious theoretical slip from “more determined” (which I think needs to be contested itself) to simply “determined by”. Indeed, I believe that Wolff in his both of his examples regarding Russia and China overdetermines the role of the international conjuncture in relation to the developing national contradictions partially determined by said international conjuncture. It is very telling for example in Lenin’s “April Theses” that WW1 does not figure as a prominent reason for the transition from the first stage to the second stage of the revolution, rather, the provisional government formed under Kerensky remained part of the imperialist war effort not due to the international situation, but rather due to the capitalist character of the Kerensky government itself!

In rather an omniscient and omnipresent manner Wolff argues that,

So you can’t understand it from “my country out”—and doing it that way is another example of positivism, by the way. And you can’t see internationalism as something that you “extend” to other countries; the whole world has to be your point of departure. You have to come at revolution in “your” country as your share of the world revolution. Communists do NOT represent this or that nation; we’re (supposed to be) about eliminating all nations, even as we know we’re going to have to “work through” a world where there will be nations for a long time yet to come, even socialist nations, and where there will have to be a whole period of first achieving equality between nations in order to transcend them.

I completely agree with Wolff and Avakian that one of the problems with the “my country out” politics is that there develops an over-emphasis on one’s national considerations which can actually lead to a form of reactionary international politics that results in the betrayal of the world revolution, and the associated incapacity to develop the revolution in one’s own country (thus, for example the lack of support for the Greek partisans by the USSR, or the lack of support by the Nepalese Maoists for the Indian comrades). But would like to note that Avakian is hardly the first person to make this point, as entire traditions of Marxism have repeatedly made this point (like the left communists or the Trotskyists, oh oh, I used the L and T words). Furthermore, I agree with Wolff and Avakian that communists ought not represent any given nation, and rather should see themselves as part of a world revolutionary movement, but again fail to see how this is a radical departure from the left communist position for example. I say “omniscient and omnipresent way” because Wolff seems to suggest that communists are actually able to subtract themselves from the particular situation in which they find themselves in the given country in which they live, and universalise themselves through the capacity to see the entire playing board, and then make decisions from that universalist position about their own (sub)national politics. I must admit that I do not completely understand what it means to say that communists should see the whole world as their point of departure, rather, than extending internationalism from one given particular situation to another as concrete internationalism seems to be predicated on the fact that one should be able to give solidarity from one particular situation to another. This was the same problem that the left communists have repeatedly faced in their espousal of the same position. Indeed, it seems to suggest or imply that like a national situation which can in fact be seen as one’s point of departure (so a communist based in Andhra Pradesh is told to go to West Bengal because she is needed there more or to move her battalion to Orissa to provide support to a prison raid there), the RIM should be able to similarly coordinate itself in such a manner, which in fact seems to resuscitate the old Comintern notion of the “world party” in which individual parties in nations were simply national sections of said “world party”. Thus, the CoRIM, constituted in whatever manner, would be better able to understand the conditions in which the Indian revolution will take place regardless of the fact that it may or may not have any Indian comrades on its body, and that comrades from national situations in which the revolutionary class struggle is comparably low (say the USA) are able to fully understand and appreciate the demands and needs of the class struggle in Nepal which is at a much more developed stage. Furthermore, it seems to me that an international body because of its international scope would be unable to appreciate, understandably, how a really micro-level interaction (lets say between class and caste in one village in West Bengal) may have a serious impact on the revolutionary movement in that given district, state, and then the national level as a whole.

The problem I see is that whilst it is laudatory that Avakian and the RCP,USA think that they have been able to fully universalise themselves and are no longer caught inside the four walls of being Americans, and are able to become fully internationally cosmopolitan, that they in fact remain American communists looking from “outside into” the revolutionary movement of a given country which may be radically different from their own. It is interesting to note that Avakian for example does not really draw upon cultural or historical references from the international body in his talks and remains largely within an American idiom (which he undoubtedly knows better). Also, it is interesting to note that despite the fact that Avakian apparently was living in Europe for numerous years due to his self-imposed exile from the USA, he and the team that undoubtedly surrounded him did not contribute to the building of any European Maoist organisations. The problem I am identifying here is the parading of a nationalism under the guise of an internationalism which was exactly the problem with the Comintern and the USSR, in which Stalin paraded the particular national concerns of the USSR as international concerns. Indeed, Avakian and co. seem to believe that to avoid being “mentally landlocked” one should simply push an international outlook that is subtracted from a national situation, but seem to be unaware that this position is the very false Enlightenment position that was advanced by people like Immanuel Kant. Thus, it is much easier to say that our point of departure should be the international and then move towards the national, and much more likely that one is actually simply universalising their national attributes to the international. Thus, if you had asked Stalin about his internationalist policies, I have no doubt that he would have said that he had a world outlook that did not privilege the revolution in the USSR over that of other countries, but in practice we all know this is not how it played out. Indeed, it is these very kinds of assumptions that actually resulted in the collapse of the RIM, and I think it is very important to see how this line actually contains the intellectual seeds for the disastrous line that was followed in the RIM.

And finally I would like to close by dealing with Wolff’s last substantive claim regarding the political implications of the ‘new synthesis’ on the international dimension by examining his claim that,

Avakian developed the principle that the proletariat in power must “put the advance of the world revolution above everything, even above the advance of the revolution in the particular country—build the socialist state as above all a base area for the world revolution.” He also very importantly formulated the principle that revolutionaries have to at one and the same time seek to make the greatest advances possible in building the revolutionary movement and preparing for a revolutionary situation in all countries, while also being alert “to particular situations which at any given point become concentration points of world contradictions and potential weak links…and where therefore the attention and the energy of the proletariat internationally should be especially concentrated.”

I cannot but agree more with this. One of the biggest problems in the communist movement is that communists have often over-determined their own national problems and considerations to the detriment of the world revolution, and that socialist governments should use their states as a base area for the world revolution. Furthermore, I agree that revolutionaries should seek to make advances in building the revolutionary movement and preparing the revolutionary situation in all countries whilst being alert to particular situations in which the contradictions become sharpened and energies concentrated upon. However, I do not think that these are new principles that Avakian has actually come up with, and thus he cannot claim that they are part of his new synthesis. Just because this principle has not been put into practice time and time again does not mean that Avakian has developed something new, indeed, such principles can be found in the works of Marx and Lenin alike, and was often (but not always) put into practice by Mao. Furthermore, I would like to know why Avakian and the team around him. did not actually practice these politics by helping form revolutionary parties in Europe? I would like to know why the RCP,USA has not actually formed a committee to support the people’s war in India or even participated in the international week in support of the people’s war in India?

In the next post in this series I will deal with the next political implication of the ‘new synthesis’, democracy and dictatorship. The will likely include a discussion of Avakian’s conception of a “solid core with a lot of elasticity”.

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Written by theworkersdreadnought

01/04/2012 at 11:56

Posted in Maoist Philosophy

28 Responses

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  1. Interesting article but misleading in a few ways, especially regarding Avakian in Europe.
    1) the article suggests that Avakian’s exile was ‘self-imposed’. this is not true, Avakian had to flee for his life because of the threat he posed to the US. A number of prominent black panthers had been killed and it was likely that Avakian would be next. Do not underestimate the threat of Avakian and the RCP USA to the US state.
    2) In Paris, Avakian was recognized by the other Maoist parties who were in exile as being an extraordinary thinker and leader, especially by the other Maoist parties that were in exile in Europe, such as the Iranian sarbedaran. Avakian was underground in Paris but he was instrumental at reforming the entire French Maoist movement towards MLM and away from semi anarchist trends like Mao spontex. furthermore, it is known that Avakian and Badiou were in the same circles at this time, and we cannot but think that Badiou borrowed much from Avakian without admitting the debt, just as Sartre borrowed much from Heidegger.
    3) Avakian was instrumental in setting up the RIM and was one of the people who formulated MLM in its current form. Marx-Lenin-Mao. the article is wrong about Avakian not helping form revolutionary parties in Europe. This is much of his work and a reason for the great respect he is held in by comrades in france.
    4) Avakian is currently underground, his whereabouts are not known, because he is in danger. instead of supporting a revolutionary like Avakian, this article panders to US imperialism in their persecution of a revolutionary. If you doubt my statement, i ask you to read this, the list of people who signed a petition to defend the life of Avakian:

    http://www.engagewithbobavakian.org/sigs%200926.pdf

    would you be willing to sign this statement? if so, then this article can be seen as part of a critique. but if not, then it must be presumed that the author supports the US governments persecution and hounding of Bob Avakian.
    5) the political line of this article is an academic line- Badiou-zizek-Negri, not Marx-Lenin-Mao. the political line is post-marxist in essence, but with revolutionary cover. ie revisionist
    6) the new synthesis is international, and parties are taking up this line at rapid speed. Avakian’s books have been translated into Farsi, Hindi, Nepali, Sinhala, Spanish, German, and so many other languages. The message is out. the immortal contributions of Bob Avakian will never be forgotten and are being taken up by the masses around the world. the new synthesis is the future of communism.

    Saamad

    02/04/2012 at 15:41

    • Dear Saamad,
      Thank you for your thoughtful response and welcome to the blog. Regarding your points:
      1) Avakian’s exile is self-imposed because the charges against him were dropped after 3 years, and he could have returned. I agree that BPP leaders had been killed, however, that does not suggest by extension that Avakian himself was under such threat. I do not wish to underestimate the threats against him but, I think that the RCP and its followers greatly overstate the threats against him as well. I am not saying that he should not be underground, I am just saying that it was legally a self-imposed exile, and this is evidenced by the fact that Avakian has since the 1980′s returned several times to the USA to give lectures on the East and West coast.
      2) I know of no such influence and my interviews with French comrades of both the VP and PCmF indicates that they did not think that they had any such influence on their movement, if you have evidence of such influence please do provide it to me. The greater influence on the French Maoist movement was Gonzalo, and indeed it was the Peruvian influence that resulted in their reorientation towards MLM. I have never heard of Badiou and Avakian being in the same circles, especially as I have done a fair amount of research on the topic and have looked at a lot of the Badiou journals from the 1980s. Can you provide any evidence for this? Anyways, I will ask Badiou as I am trying to get an interview with him anyways, and it will be interesting to get it from the horse’s mouth. But any evidence of this relationship would be most welcome. But it is true that Avakian has had more influence on Iranian abd Turkish emigres, but that has not really resulted in the building of strong MLM parties in Europe.
      3) It is true that Avakian did help establish the RIM. There is no doubt about that, and I did not suggest otherwise. However, it must be noted that a) it was at the insistence of the Peruvians that the RIM adopted Maoism, not because of Avakian and; b) the VP very quickly disengaged with the RIM (and did not even attend the first plenum from what I understand). However, it is true that the RIM as a whole did play a role in reorientation, but the credit cannot go to Avakian alone, but he did play an incredibly important role, and I think he should be appreciated for that. I apologise if my article did not reflect that.
      4) I have read the petition, and think that the dangers against his life are much overblown by his supporters. However, we can disagree about this.
      5) I agree that the line of Badiou-Zizek-Negri is not MLM, and hence revisionist. However, I would like to also say that I think the current Avakian line is also not based on MLM (the Afghan comrades for example, correctly, point to the fact that Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is not something that the RCP,USA actually refers to in their Constitution or Programme)
      6) I think that it is true that small groups around the world, especially the Iranians, Germans and one section of the Columbians, have accepted the “new synthesis”, however, I do think it is telling that all of those groups are minuscule and have no influence in their respective countries. I know that this is the case for the Iranians and Germans for a fact. As for the Indians, there is no pro-Avakian group that I know of, and the only book by Avakian that people are keen on is his book on Mao’s Immortal Contributions.

      But thank you for your response, and I hope that we can have a meaningful debate.

      WD

      theworkersdreadnought

      02/04/2012 at 16:12

  2. The idea that Avakian and the RCP,USA were actually ever serious threats to the US state, and hence were (and still are) in imminent danger from it is utterly laughable and is just yet another feather in the cap of Avakian’s personality cult.

    To compare Avakian’s self-imposed (because yes, it was self-imposed) situation to that of the Panthers is an insult to Huey Newton, Bobby Hutton, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, George Jackson, Assata Shakur, Sundiata Acoli, Mumia Abu-Jamal and every other African freedom fighter who was either gunned down or locked up in the iron houses of imperialism. Never forget that the US state which is claimed to have wanted Avakian gone so bad dropped the bloody charges against him, nor did they attempt to kill or retrieve him during his stay in France (an anti-communist, imperialist/colonialist ally). Huey, George, Bobby, Fred, Mark and countless others never even hard charges laid on them, they were just murdered.

    Further, while Avakian was off playing exiled emigre in France, the US state was actually launching police-military assaults on surviving black revolutionary organizations like the Uhuru Movement and trying to kill their leadership (see the Battle of St. Petersburg for example). The RCP,USA, this supposed enourmous threat to the US state, has never, not even for a moment, ever had to contend with this sort of assault.

    The same would go for any comparison of Avakian and the RCP,USA to the American Indian Movement, Brown Berets, Young Lords and other revolutionary nationalist organizations that actually suffered military assault from the colonial US state.

    The sort of nonsense is the same kind of nonsense as the “Avakian is the new Lenin” line. It’s just myth building around the leader of an organization that, as a social scientist, I am more and more convinced is actually a literal cult (not in the pejorative or lay usage of the term that most people use when talking about the RCP,USA).

  3. this article is supposed to deal with the international dimension but it ignores the most important and the most pertinent contribution of the rcp usa in the international arena. in a previous comment on a previous article, the rcp usa’s contribution to the line struggle in nepal was dismissed, but this was done too easily. also, it has not dealt with the contributions of groundbreaking economist Raymond Lotta who has used the new synthesis in his work. i suggest you check out ( you may have already done so) the revolutionary academic journal demarcations, and especially this article which deals with nepal.

    http://www.demarcations-journal.org/issue01/nepal_article.html

    the rcp usa made the first and best criticism of Nepal. the revisionist swamp of the nepalese is one thing, in the west, we can see that those who reject the new synthesis turn towards revisionism of some kind. so, the kasama project has tailed the petit bourgeois occupy movement, and in the UK, Democracy and Class Struggle tails nationalism. the new synthesis is important for the future of international communism as the rcp usa are the only ones keeping the true revolutionary line.

    Saamad

    02/04/2012 at 23:05

    • Dear Saamad,
      Thank you for commenting once again but must ask that you actually read my blog post more carefully in the future, however, I would like to clarify once again why the line struggle with Nepal is not discussed in my article. The reason is simple, it is because the line struggle with Nepal is not mentioned because Lenny Wolff, who was tasked by the RCP,USA to explain the “new synthesis” to public audiences, does not mention the line-struggle with Nepal as being a significant portion of the ‘new synthesis’. Indeed, it is clear as I point out that some of the arguments that Wolff makes are influenced by the developments in Nepal and I try to point out when I think that this is the case. I suggest that if you think that the line struggle with Nepal is such an important aspect of the international dimension of the new synthesis that you contact Lenny Wolff and tell him so, because he and the RCP,USA did not deign it so. Furthermore, I note at the very beginning that I thought it was peculiar that Nepal was not mentioned by Lenny Wolff in this speech, but do not wish to speculate why.

      I do not have a high opinion of Raymond Lotta’s work and am neither impressed by his pre- or post-new synthesis work. However, I do intend to re-read America in Decline again, as it has been a while since I have read it. However, I remember not finding it particularly insightful and much of what he says in that book has had to be discarded/rejected by the RCP,USA itself because it did not prove to be correct. Also, I have read the one issue of Demarcations that was released, and am interested to know why another issue has not been released since. Finally, the RCP,USA did not make the first or the best criticism of Nepal in my opinion. Rather, I think that the most substantive and longstanding criticisms of the Nepalese party have actually come from the CPI(Maoist) in a variety of forums including CCOMPOSA meetings, public seminars and open letters, but I doubt that I could convince you otherwise.

      WD

      theworkersdreadnought

      02/04/2012 at 23:22

  4. just as with the establishment of marxism, all the reactionaries united in opposition, thus leading to the creation of bourgeois sociology, economics and philosophy to combat the scientific breakthroughs of Marxism. thus as with trotksy and all those who unite to combat the revolutionary significance of leninism inside of marxism, leninism thus becoming a defining demarcation. either marx or not. either Lenin or not. either Mao or not. the ones not for marxism, leninism and maoism are the reactionaries of each generation. so likewise it is with avakian, revisionists will unite to combat the new scientific and revolutionary breakthrough.avakian is the yardstick for the present age because the RCP USA is the only revolutionary MLM party in the US, and the attitude of so called revolutionaries towards the rcp usa and Bob avakian determines whether or not that revolutionary is truly a revolutionary.

    Bob Avakian is still underground because of danger to his life. he was a real threat to the US, for the black panthers could only unite with the black people, the other groups just with students, others with the white liberals, etc. but only Bob Avakian could connect and unite the entire population. I have no hesitation in saying that I think of Avakian to be more important for the black community than Malcolm X.

    this is why he is still underground and he doesn’t give talks and lectures. you probably would not understand how hard and what a great sacrifice avakian has made for the proleteriat, to go into exile, live his entire life underground etc. Even Prachanda was only underground for ten years, Avakian has been underground for far longer. Only kishenji was probably underground for longer. let not the fate of avakian be the fate of Kishenji. this is why it is important to defend the life and work of Chairman Avakian.

    calling the rcp usa a cult or even cult like is wrong, as it is normal for a party to promote their leadership, and this is what was done in Peru and in Nepal with Gonzalo thought and prachanda path and in turkey with kayapakka. would you say there is/was a cult of personality in nepal over prachanda? if you criticise this, you are only repeating the reactionary and rightist trotskyist bile and venom over the so called use of the cult of personality under Stalin and Mao. Avakian is the chairman and ideological leader of the american proleteriat and world proleteriat. It is important to promote Avakian and his work amongst the masses so they will be prepared for the revolution. without a revolutionary leadership there is no revolution, do you not understand this? I detect something of a liberal and trotskyist line in some of the arguments that have been put forward against the world turning contributions of Chairman Avakian to the revolutionary science of marxism leninism maoism. if you are a trotkyist and a liberal than that is ok, but just admit it rather than attack Bob Avakian and the international communist movement.

    also, the article has not thus far considered Bob Avakians cutting and inciteful polemic on religion and on the creationist evolution debate. his book ‘away with all gods’ is truly groundbreaking and liberating book. does not this scientific work of real value not warrant your attention. this pathbreaking work may truly be considered as an example of the new synthesis in practice. avakians work stands alongside those of hitchens, dawkins, etc but from a radical revolutionary perspective, with a dialectical richness that is sadly lacking in the liberal pro imperialist perspective of hitchens and dawkins. It is interesting to see the french revisionist alain badiou promote saint paul!! it is a message that he needs to know, and it gives a message that is not acceptable either to islamists nor to Bush and the christian fascists – away with all gods!!

    Saamad

    03/04/2012 at 01:43

    • As with all your other replies to this part of the series and the author, you haven’t responded to even one of the critiques. I think it’s hilarious that members of the RCP-USA say they want criticism and are “ready for it” but when it does come, their members can’t argue substantially with anything that is actually said and instead, as you’ve done over and over, make pronunciations about your own importance, name-call to avoid critical thinking, and then produce innumerable red herring fallacies to detract from the argument.

      And let’s be clear: the reason why the majority of the left (including, by the way, the majority of Maoists around the world) thinks the RCP-USA has become a joke, and that is delusional about its own importance, is because of its religiosity. It’s ironic that Avakian can produce a book called “Away WIth All Gods” and then foster the dead shell of religion in his own organization, isn’t it? Just substitute some of the language in your responses and you sound like the member of any church, not a revolutionary communist. As much as you might want to pretend that attacking the RCP-USA on these grounds is “liberal and trotskyist” because that is how you’ve been taught to perceive these attacks, isn’t it ironic that it has degenerated into a dogmatic marxist sect like some of those Trotskyist groups (i.e. the Spartacists)? They also imagine they are the leaders of the proletariat and are equally deluded.

      Also: to call your chairman the leader of the world proletariat is chauvinist. Again, like other members of your group, you’ve revealed that your idea of internationalism is connected to an unquestioned American exceptionalism/imperialism. Bob Avakian has led nothing, the majority of the maoist movement worldwide has lost patience with the RCP-USA.

      Someone who seems to lack the ability to think critically about history, society and the world––and who clearly doesn’t know anymore than what is filtered through Avakian and senior party members (you might want to try reading Marx, Lenin, and Mao for yourself!)––wouldn’t be able to gauge the brilliance or “pathbreaking” quality of anything.

      JMP

      03/04/2012 at 05:18

      • What I appreciate the honesty of the author is “New synthesis” is relevant and true but the content has been partially defined in different time by different philosophers. But my question is why don’t you accept New synthesis has been formulated with concrete methodology to accomplish revolution in the 21st century? This great job has been done by Bob Avakian, so why do you hesitate to appraisal it? Is it because he is American? Any way your effort to make refutation has encouraged us to go more deeply and understand why Bob Avakian has become only a revolutionary ideolog for today’s generation.

        Rosa

        03/04/2012 at 21:26

      • Dear Rosa,
        It has nothing to do with Avakian being American, indeed, my differences are at the level of ideology. I think that the philosophical underpinnings of the “new synthesis” are often true, but are still convoluted and messy, and simply repeat what has been done before without providing any greater internal coherency than what has been provided before or without incorporating many theoretical insights that have been developed. Furthermore, they do not reflect all of the developments that were made in the 1960′s and 1970′s, and have been made since (Peru, Nepal, India etc). Additionally, it does not carry with it a sufficient analysis of the GPCR (I think that there needs to be the equivalent of Bettelheims’s Class Struggles in the USSR”). Thus, it cannot be called a “new synthesis”, especially as it is not even honest about what it has taken from others. Indeed, we are expected according to Wolff and the rest of the RCP,USA to accept them as Avakian’s contributions, rather than those of a combination of theorists. I see them as simply restating what has been said before, without any of the intellectual lucidity of the other thinkers. Furthermore, on vital questions it does not do the work that actually would mark a “new synthesis” for example on the question of revolutionary strategy in the imperialist countries, as it does not have a deef enough summation about the “fighting communist” experience, and others like international relations it betrays a series of deep theoretical flaws which I believe led to the collapse of the RIM. All of this has to be reflected in practice, and a deepening of socialism in reality.

        WD

        theworkersdreadnought

        03/04/2012 at 21:53

  5. All of these RCP,USA responses remind of something that often came up when I was involved in the secularist movement for many years: Poe’s Law.

    Poe’s Law is the idea that it can be quite difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between parodies of religious fundamentalism and its genuine proponents, since they both seem equally insane.

    After reading these Avakianist responses to TWD’s well thought out critiques, I can’t but wonder whether they are serious or a joke.

    • Dear author,
      For your kind information RIM is not collapse due to debate on “New Synthesis”, but due to the manipulation of comrades involved in revolution by the articles like yours. Didn’t RCP extended full support to Peru, Nepal until their line was clear and correct? We should acknowledge that Bob Avakian is fore sightd visionary leader who could point out the fate of Peru and Nepal as they have adopted incorrect line. Do you think to save RIM, RCP US should not raise question regarding Nepal’s deviation? Do you think RCP US,should promote the line Nepal adopted just to save RIM? Don’t you realise the situation of Nepal and match the prediction of RCP US in the exchanged letter the then CPN Maoist? Actually it has become a tradition until RIM agree and support upon the line adopted by certain country is revolutionary, but once it stars warning upon incorrect line they turn their ass and accuse RIM and Bob Avakian. This trend has virtually demise RIM. Bob Avakian’s one after another analysis like wise Deng’s coup, Peru’s ROL and Nepal’s deviation has given Bob Avakian a clean chit of being World’s only one visionary revolutionary leader till the date.

      Rosa

      04/04/2012 at 05:53

      • Dear Rosa,
        Thank you for that information however, I must disagree with you analysis and would recommend looking at “Maoist Road #1″ and the interventions of the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan regarding the RIM, directly attribute the collapse of the RIM due to the behaviour of the RCP,USA and how the CoRIM was run (information about the line struggle in the RIM can be found here: here. The collapse of the RIM as has become evident to many pre-dated the deviation in Nepal (which the RCP,USA correctly raised questions about and was correct to criticise, but I would say that I think that the criticisms offered by the CPI(Maoist) are more substantive than those of the RCP,USA), and had to do with the violation of resolutions of the RIM by the CoRIM (run by the RCP,USA and a few others) and undemocratic methods of behaving, and pushing the “new synthesis” on the international parties. Also, I think we can say that Avakian has a “clean chit” because the RCP,USA has operated at a low level of political development i.e. a ting marginalised party with little associated mass movement, unlike the Peruvian and Nepalese comrades who have struggled with problems caused by the advanced nature of the struggle.

        WD

        theworkersdreadnought

        04/04/2012 at 11:38

  6. these articles were supposed to engage with the new synthesis, but they have been something of a hatchet job written by a liberal trotskyist revisionist who is bent on spitting venom on the proleteriat and its leader. the masses are avakianist, there is no doubt about that.
    Long live revolution!
    long live marx engels lenin stalin mao and Avakian!
    long live the new synthesis!

    to mlm mayhem- you have joined the bourgeois bandwagon in criticising avakian, we can expect nothing more from a bandwagon jumper.

    saamad

    03/04/2012 at 20:29

  7. the importance of dialectical and non linear thinking for revolutionaries is extremely important. these articles are written in a linear and formal way, according to bourgeois aristotelian logic, and not understanding the logic of revolution, or dialectics. I make the following claim; Bob Avakian has made a leap in dialectics, and his method, as shown in the new synthesis is the way forward. mao introduced the concept of ‘ one divides into two’ while Avakian has added ‘ a solid core with a lot of elasticity’ .
    we can thus say the laws of dialectics are according to Engels:
    1) The law of the unity and conflict of opposites;
    2)The law of the passage of quantitative changes into qualitative changes;
    3)The law of the negation of the negation

    Lenin further deepened this analysis in his elements of logic:
    1)The determination of the concept out of itself [the thing itself must be considered in its relations and in its development];
    2)The contradictory nature of the thing itself (the other of itself), the contradictory forces and tendencies in each phenomenon;
    3)The union of analysis and synthesis

    Mao deepens the dialectical understanding of the world with striking out the third law’ negation of the negation’ and introducing ‘ one divides into two’. Avakian has taken up this outlook and deepened it with adding ‘ a solid core with a lot of elasticity. thus the latest and most developed form of dialectical thinking has the following laws:
    1) law of unity and conflict of opposites
    2) the transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa
    3) one divides into two
    4) a solid core with a lot of elasticity.

    i wonder if the author of these articles is familiar at all with dialectical and non linear thought? if you dont understand dialectics, you cannot understand Bob Avakian. this is the core of the difference between Badiou and Avakian, between Prachanda and Avakian, and between Gonzalo and Avakian. only Avakian properly understood dialectics. once you understand dialectics and non linear thought, you will see that bob avakian was right!

    Saamad

    06/04/2012 at 01:37

    • Dear Samaad,
      I would like to make it clear that I think you are trolling, and am going to stop allowing you to post soon. I also think its clear that for all and sundry that despite your claims to familiarity with dialectical and non-linear thinking that you are actually unable to debate logically at all with others who do not agree with your position. Rather, you prefer to abuse and add new propositions on top of a prior muddled category, and in a long-standing tradition refer to this muddle-headedness as “dialectics”. Indeed, your use of dialectics is in fact a very common hollowing of the very concept of dialectics itself. I am very familiar wit dialectics and dialectical logic and have actually read Hegel, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao on dialectics, whereas it is clear that you simply rely on Avakian.

      I would like to also suggest that you do not even understand Avakian’s “new synthesis” which does not locate “solid core with a lot of elasticity” in the field of philosophy, but rather as a concrete application of Avakian’s philosophical insights (which does not pivot on an adding of a new law of dialectics) in the political sphere especially as related to democracy and dictatorship. I would suggest that you stop trolling me and even spend some time understanding Avakian himself, because it is not clear to me that you even understand the philosophical system that you profess to support.

      theworkersdreadnought

      06/04/2012 at 12:36

  8. [...] the last few posts (Part 1, 2, and 3) I have addressed the philosophical aspects of the new synthesis and the political implications on [...]

  9. [...] synthesis” as summarised by Lenny Wolff (readers can read the earlier posts here: 1, 2, 3 and 4). In this last post I will discuss probably the most important aspect of the “new [...]

  10. I’m starting to understand what the new synthesis is. Avakian is browsing wikipedia articles about communism, and incorporating the stuff he’s not heard of into his work. And the followers have never heard of any of it.

    Back to the secularism atheism thing, I can’t believe how the RCP teaches it’s followers to debate. The format of namecalling-redherring-religiouspraise isn’t advocated by even creationist apologetics groups. Just from a debate level they should be saddened, regardless of whether the ideas are good.

    I’m also startin to question whether these followers have even read the Wolff or Avakian theoretical work! They’re quite good at quoting the polemical stuff, and calling the proper names, but they can’t bother to discuss the ideas at all.

    Chuck Finale

    14/04/2012 at 04:18

  11. [...] in a series of posts dedicated to the ‘new synthesis’ (available here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Com. Surendra Rupasinghe has decided to respond with an article defending Avakian’s [...]

  12. [...] The Workers Dreadnought.  See also Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. JMP of MLM Mayhem! has published his own critique here.] Bob Avakian, [...]

  13. workersdreadnought,I appreciate your efforts but feel several viewpoints projected reflect the views of the new Left.True there were major errors in the Stalin era where innocent people were executed in the purges and a great personality cult was created around Comrade Mao.However we have to recognize the role the Leninist concept of vanguard played in the lofty achievements in the U.S.S.R. and China.Without the vanaguard role of the Communist Party the G.P.C.R would not have risen to such great heights.Factions and multi-party sytem may well have overthrown the Socialist superstructure .I totally agree that dissent has to be promoted but one has to protect the Socialist state at the same time.Bob Avakian promoted Mao’s peoples war theories and refuted Gueveraist focoism.He also defended the gang of 4 in the G.P.C.R and his ‘immortal contribution of Comrade Mao did a service to the revolution.Mixing new left theories of Badiou etc go against the proletarin revolutionary line.I agree that greater debate and democracy is needed but the ‘new left’ concepts would go against it.In this light I rever the contributions of the late Com.Shanmughstan and Harbhajan Sohi who fougt tooth and nail to defend the Leninist party.The C.P.I.(Maoist)would never have advanced without this theory.

    Harsh Thakor

    30/04/2012 at 12:44

  14. I think we must study the documents of groups that opposed the formation of R.I.M. in the first place.A very significant writing is the 2003 C.P.R.C.I.(M.L.) resolution on why China deferred the formation of a Communist International and why the Comintern was dissolved.Only after a certain development of Communist parties and the Communist movement worldwide can such an International progress.A heathy mutual exchange or liason has to take place between the Communist parties of the world and only then can a centre be formed.Significantly the Communist Party of Phillipines and Peoples war group never joined R.I.M.

    What destroyed R.I.M was rejecting the positive role of Stalin and virtually relegating his contributions.I reecomend all readers to read the writings of the late Shan and Harbhajan Sohi on the contributions of Stalin and Mao.

    Harsh Thakor

    30/04/2012 at 13:09

  15. Avakian is a liar and plaigiarist when he claims that he first advanced the theory that we must primarily approach the analysis of imperialism in any one country from a global perspective. That this results from the operation of a world socio-economic system. And that as result we must also analyze the proletarian struggle in each country from a global perspective. Avakian is aware that I, Tim Redd, first advanced this idea when I worked with the RCP in 1977 in Detroit. In 1983 wrote “Internationalism and Philosophy: An Overview of Systems and Revolution” a paper laying out this theory in detail and it currently resides at the web site of the Revolutionary Internationalist Socialist Party (RISP) http://www.risparty.org.

    Tim Redd

    24/12/2013 at 05:24

    • Could you please provide proof of this claim? I looked at your website and it seems like CTW and your paper were “published” at the same time, however, I do not see enough evidence that they got their idea from you. I am not suggesting that this is not possible, indeed, accusations of plagiarism have been made before, but I would like to know more about your claim that the basic central tenant of CTW was ripped off from you.

      theworkersdreadnought

      24/12/2013 at 20:50

  16. I will provide the word of some people shortly. I first posited the theory verbally at an African Liberation Day rally in 19977 and it along with my advocacy for creating public opinion a la “What is to Be Done?” was made the basis of the 2nd RCP programme in 1979. I made “Internationalism and Philosophy: An Overview of Systems and Revolution” available to several persons in 1983 and I will some chime in. Not sure if it’s possible to tell, but I posted the paper at risparty.org in the Spring of 2006, whereas CTW came out in the Fall of 2006. I will also have proof of that I posted in Spring 2006. But note that Avakian has never delved into the topic of approaching the global capitalism and the proletarian struggle as much as my paper does. with as much detail as my paper. Avakian wasted little time to get CTW out with mention of it precisely so he could create doubt. If anyone digs around with some of those in the RCP at the time including Carl Dix, they should acknowledge that I posted before CTW.

    In addition his “core with flexibility” come off of my comprehensive discussion of the concept of polymorphism in the paper “Forward with Revolutionary Dialectics” which is also at risparty.org. I will also have people attest that I posted that in the Spring of 2006. Avakian nowhere has covered the topic of polymorphism as deeply as I have. Avakian got the idea to even speak about the nature of struggle during communism from my “Forward” paper. However somewhat like you I think that capitalism can be restored during communism if the balance of forces tip the wrong way.

    On another note, I agree with your view that other than approaching the analysis of capitalism and the proletarian struggle from a global, holistic perspective, Avakian’s New Evolution simply regurgitates previous Marxist theory.

    Based novel concepts and approaches in my “Forward with Revolutionary Dialectics” (dialectics and development) , “External Nature of Things” (ontology) and “Automation Won’t Save Them” (political economy) papers and a new idea that I will be posting shortly on Revleft (so that the question of priority is immediately settled) I think that these can provide a no fluff, non-duplicative, truly new foundation for an evolution in Marxism. If it isn’t called “Redd Thought” it probably should be called “Today’s Marxism”.

    Tim Redd

    25/12/2013 at 01:14

    • Sorry about the slow pace of my responses, but I have thinking deeply about the best way to approach and present the issue of Robert Avakian’s (RA) plagiarisms in relation to me.

      Essentially one should be aware that RA has a long history claiming as his own novel ideas that I in particular have contributed to the public Maoist discourse. That is because the ideas are on the leading edge and BA cannot accept cutting edge Maoist ideas being attributed to anyone but himself. His bourgeois egoism drives his plagiarism. In relation to me it began with RA taking the phrase I stated repeatedly in the mid 70′s and using as the title of his book on Mao. That was the phrase “immortal contributions of Mao Tse-tung”. RA has acknowledged that he got that title and others from me, but he says it was his own analysis. However much of the analysis and the ideas he has used are mine as well.

      I mention the 1977 African Liberation Day (ALD) above as the event at which I laid out the the idea that because local proletarian movements are a result of the complex, worldwide system of imperialism and proletarian struggle they are on that basis subordinate to the worldwide movement of proletarian revolution. RA told me and others that he heard that thesis and various novel ideas outlined by me at the ALD ’77 rally. In the paper, ” Internationalism and Philosophy: An Overview of Systems & Revolution” at risparty.org, the web site of the organization I’m a spoke-person for the Revolutionary Internationalist Socialist Party.

      In addition, Avakian claims that he originated the idea that there is core with flexibility. However that is a major idea I presented in the paper “Forward With Revolutionary Dialectics” on May Day 2006. Whatever mention RA makes to the idea is post May Day 2006. Further his proposal is a pale ghost version of what I delineate in the “Forward” paper. In that paper the central concept is “polymorphism”. And essence of polymorphism is commonality with variation, whereas RA’s “core with flexibility” is the concept of polymorphism degraded.

      More later and with others backing it up are soon to come.

      Tim Redd

      02/07/2014 at 21:05

  17. In one of your criticisms of the RCP you stated that Christian fascism was a straw target. But isn’t what the Tea Party, with their opposition to abortion and whole forcing of women to play a domestic role a form of Christian fascism?

    Tim Redd

    02/07/2014 at 21:10

  18. The various original papers I have written at risparty.org in my others opinion make significant contributions to the Marxist revolutionary struggle. I would appreciate any comments you might on them. That would contribute to the revolutionary theoretical movement.

    Tim Redd

    02/07/2014 at 21:16


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