For a while I have been promising to discuss the latest issue of Maoist Road magazine and so I thought that in the midst of my packing (I will be moving away from Toronto where I have been living and politically active for many years to continental Europe and am sure that this move will be reflected in the content of the blog) that I offer a few remarks on this truly interesting issue because of the European origins of the magazine. In the months leading up to the publication of Maoist Road Issue 1 a number of parties formally affiliated with the RIM (principally the Communist Party of Italy (Maoist), the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)[Naxalbari]) released a series of public statements calling for the two-line struggle that had been raging inside the RIM to be made public. Of course, two principle issues of the debate have been known to all for a while i.e. the situation in Nepal and the controversy regarding Bob Avakian’s “New Synthesis”. Indeed, the Afghan Maoists publicly circulated two documents critiquing the New Synthesis – one in relation to the RCP(USA)’s Manifesto and Constitution and the other, the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist)’s adoption of the New Synthesis (both statements are available in the issue) – in sharp and uncompromising terms. Till date, to my knowledge, there has not been a public response from the RCP,USA or the CPI(MLM) regarding these critiques in English. These issues are consistently discussed throughout the issue. This issue of Maoist Road also revives an old issue, that I must admit I thought had been settled a decade ago and seems less and less significant to the international movement day by day, the political summation of the situation in Peru and the Right Opportunist Line (ROL). However, it is understandable that the movement in Peru continues to grapple with its relationship with Chairman Gonzalo.
The issue raises two other significant issues that divide the movement: 1) the question of the correct revolutionary strategy in imperialist countries. Indeed the RCP(Canada), the PCm Italy, and the PCm France all adhere to the urban people’s war line, although none have clearly and fully articulated their respective visions of such a political and military strategy or have clearly demonstrated the similarities and differences between their line and the disastrous urban guerrilla line of the 1970’s and 80’s (indeed, the CPItaly makes it clear that the Indian, Turkish and Filipino comrades fundamentally disagree with the assertion that people’s war is an international strategy) and; 2) how should a new international coordinating body of Maoist forces be organized, especially in the wake of the latest failed attempt a la the RIM (the PCm France does raise two more issues, the problem of democracy in the 21st century and that of modern fascism, but neither issue is really discussed by any of the other participants). The participants do not provide any definitive answers to either of these pressing problems, but rather, repose them in the shadow of the RIM’s demise and attempt to start a process of politically summing up the experience of the RIM, thus beginning a process that will inform the revived debate inside the international Maoist movement as to whether a new international coordinating body is necessary, and if so, how such a body would be organized as to avoid the problems that were experienced in both the Comintern and the RIM. It is made clear that a small section of the Maoist movement has indeed sided with the New Synthesis and the RCP,USA. These parties include the CPI (MLM), as has already been discussed, the Revolutionary Communist Group (Columbia), a Bangladeshi party, and a part of the MKP in Turkey (recently the German group has also revived itself). Of course the participation of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), albeit from the sidelines, is significant as it is abundantly clear to all and sundry that any international formation that claims to be a organizing body of international Maoist forces must include at least the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and the revolutionary wing of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (indeed the PCm Italy makes this point clear during their intervention into the International Seminar). Ideally, the Communist Party of the Philippines would also be involved in such an endeavour, however, it is no closed secret that the CPP has always taken a far more orthodox Maoist position regarding such attempts and eschew the need for a new international co-ordinating body, with the CPP preferring to simply rely on bilateral relations.
The political summation of the RIM is particularly interesting as it provides a vivid account of the debates inside the RIM and the roles that different parties have played over the years. The CPI(ML)[Naxalbari] begins with an account of the increasing centralization of authority into the CoRIM (i.e. into the RCP,USA and parties that are sympathetic to its line) at the expense of bilateral relations between the different RIM parties and a proper leadership role for parties actually engaged in people’s wars like the the Peruvians, Nepalese and Indians. Furthermore, the CPI(ML)[Naxalbari] explain how the CoRIM increasingly was unable to dispense with its duties in a democratic manner, as was seen in the case of Peru and the arrest of Chairman Gonzalo. Indeed, it becomes apparent that the CoRIM did not consult with the Movement as a whole on a host of issues and thus was unable to develop a form of higher unity. The first contribution to the International Seminar, by the comrades from the PCm Italy, provides a longer political summation of the RIM starting with its foundation in 1984. They make it clear that the beginning of the end for the RIM was the division that was fermented in the RIM regarding the situation in Peru. It is also clear that the RCP,USA played an especially factionalizing role in the RIM, especially by organizing the CoRIM on factional lines rather than on the basis of political experience, which only hardened the divisions within the organization. However, one cannot but be amazed by how intransigent the Turkish and Peruvians comrade seem to have been during this process and this may speak to the problems that they may be experiencing internally due to the losses that they have taken in the last decade.
A welcome addition to the magazine are reports of the national situation in different countries. Although it is unfortunate that the contribution by the Comité de Loita Popular “Manolo Bello” from Galicia was not translated as I am very interested to learn more about this organization. I was also struck by the fact that this issue of the magazine also has far fewer contributors than the previous issue. It would have particularly been interesting to see the (new) Communist Party of Italy debate their conception of people’s war in advanced imperialist countries with the other parties from advanced imperialist countries, and hope that their lack of involvement was not due to any sectarian differences between the PCm Italy and the (n)PCI. Similarly, I hope that the comrades from Voie Prolétarienne and Austria also continue to contribute to the magazine despite the fact that they are not formally “Maoist” organizations.
The issue does not paint a rosy picture of the future of the Maoist movement that many of us had become accustomed to, rather it provides a realistic picture of the current situation of the movement and clearly defines the real ideological differences that impede any future unity in a completely public manner. However, such public honesty, although sometimes bitter and difficult to swallow, also should humble us and allow for an honest debate between comrades to resolve the ideological, political and organizations issues that really do face the movement. I agree with the PCm Italy that the excessive secrecy of the RIM was one of the reasons for that erstwhile organizations degeneration. I am always reminded in such instances of Lenin’s assertion in “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” that the fact that he could discuss the inner-party struggles inside the RSDLP was a sign of its strength and capacity to withstand such external scrutiny.