My critique of the PCR-RCP’s conception of Protracted Peoples War (PPW). Although I no longer stand by certain aspects of this piece and by no means claim that it is an end-all critique– much, after all, is wrong with it– I still believe that the piece warrants consideration by those in the MLM movement. Maybe someday I will write a new draft but, until that day, I am interested in simply posting it here for posterity.
IT was comrade Mao Zedong who said that the manifestation of the strategy of Protracted Peoples’ War (PPW) was possible due to China’s peculiar contradictions, namely, that China was a large, highly populated semi-feudal country under assault by a heavily industrialized, lowly populated Imperialist aggressor. Yet as ironic as it may seem, the qualifier here is the lack of a qualifier; Mao mentioned that it may have been possible for the social-conditions relevant towards the waging of PPW to develop under different auspices. It is here we find our catalyst for the present two-line struggle: is it impossible to wage Protracted Peoples War within advanced centers of capitalism or is this a revolutionary theory which is universally applicable regardless of material conditions?
This subject is more relevant than it is today than ever. This is because for the First-World revolutionary movement the issue of Protracted Peoples War has inflicted deep division among Maoist groups. With one side skeptical of its universal application and the other side resolutely defending this line, sectarianism has developed to the point where the latter slander the former with un-comradely terms such as “post-Maoist” and even revisionist.
To this end comrades in the Revolutionary Communist Party of Canada (PCR-RCP) have spent the last six years developing a strategy of Protracted Peoples’ War for use within the Canadian frontier. This is important because Canada is a highly industrialized Imperialist country; in such places, where the labor aristocracy has bought off many workers through their super-profits, any anti-capitalist activity has been shown to remain mired in the obscure fringes of society. This is a problem, one which comrades in all imperialist nations, from all tendencies, have faced. Naturally this creates rifts especially when advocacy for political lines emerges. This is most acute in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (Maoism) where the primary means of revolution is contended among two modes of struggle: that of Protracted Peoples’ War (PPW) or through that of establishing a Communist Pole.
The efforts here shown by the PCR-RCP have the potential to reinvigorate the revolutionary struggle in the first-world. Yet their line is not the only force. This is revealed through the American based Kasama Project which advocates, in opposition to the PCR-RCP, a fusion of insurrection and workers’ actions propelled upon a “communist pole” created from the “eco-system” of many revolutionary currents. Ultimately culminating with an armed revolution to overthrow the ruling class this stands in opposition to the RCP’s promotion of the universality of PPW.
These two tendencies are at odds with one another yet have refrained from issuing polemics against one another. I find this to be a disservice to the revolutionary forces as it fosters an atmosphere of ignorance. So believing this I have decided that I will write one of the first of such polemics; this critique will take the form of a thorough evaluation of the Canadian RCP’s pieces on Protracted Peoples’ War.
Forward Momentum: Origins of the Theory
To begin, I shall give an overview of the RCP’s position on making Protracted Peoples’ war within the Imperialist center of Canada: 1) before the launching of an armed struggle the revolutionary vanguard party must be built. Building this Party will require years of planning and construction. During the course of building methods both legal and illegal will be utilized. 2) prior to the launching of the armed struggle armed propaganda brigades will be formed. These brigades purpose are to bring revolutionary messages to the people through coordinated actions. These brigades are not guerrilla units in and of themselves. They are meant to blend into society after their mission. 3) Upon reaching a significant size the Party will raise guerrilla units as well as orchestrate a series of insurrections within the cities (which will constitute a base area, whether permanent or temporary once seized). This moment is when the strategic stalemate is reached. Later on, together with the seizure of some of the surrounding countryside this moment evolves into the beginning of the Strategic Defensive stage of the PPW. 4) Following the launching of the Peoples’ War the task of the guerrillas will be to fight hit and run battles outside of the base area while recruiting for the Red Army. The rising of this force is of vital importance for otherwise the base area will fall to enemy forces. The tasks of these guerrilla attacks will be to weaken and show the masses that the Canadian bourgeoisie can be fought; workers are expected to enlist in the nucleus of the Red Army. 5) By this time the insurrections within the cities are supposed to spread to other locales. Such events would equate much needed expansion of base areas and result in the formation of a front against the Canadian military proper. This marks the transition to the phase of the strategic offensive.
Details beyond this generalization are not available. This means theories relating to the conflict specifics have not yet written. Suffice to say I believe it will have to do with a revolt within the armed forces themselves (more on this later). Yet such is the Canadian RCP’s position on Protracted Peoples’ War in first world nations.
“With regard to the imperialist countries… it remains true, and a decisive point of orientation, that in order for there to be the basis to wage a serious struggle for revolutionary power, and the possibility of winning such a struggle, there must be a major, qualitative change in the objective situation, including in the political sentiments, mood, and actions of masses of people.” –Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP-USA).
In order for a revolutionary anti-capitalist faction to win mass support and wage a struggle to overthrow the bourgeoisie there must be a profound crisis. This crisis is one which shakes the whole body of bourgeois society to its foundations; as such I do not refer to recessions or imperialist war but rather grave economic depressions, heavy austerity attacks, and the breakdown of normal “law and order” until the oppressive apparatus of the police state is revealed in its entirety to the massed-throngs of people, free of its Ur-fascist mystification.
This is something which most revolutionary traditions understand. As we see above even the Avakanite cultists grasp such an idea. To their credit the PRC-RCP understands it as well. However, the point of contention is not what provides the foundation for the success of a revolution (crisis or non-crisis) but rather what constitutes a crisis in the first place.
Here is where the PCR-RCP ideological building-block reveals one of its weakest points. They say:
“The current period is characterized by: fiercer economic and military confrontation between imperialist countries and the people in oppressed countries; development of contradictions between imperialist countries; relations that are once again becoming antagonistic; fiercer exploitation and oppression, between the ruling classes of imperialist countries and their working classes in which the former is on the offensive and eliminating the conquests that the latter had achieved; the capital’s destructive quest for surplus value, destroying all barriers that prevent its free circulation (whether it be investments in the Health care system, education, labor legislation, work security, etc.) These attacks are proof that the bourgeoisie is experiencing problems and is unable to maintain its domination as in the past, by distributing crumbs from its superprofits to the working class as it then did.”
This is wrong. While they are true in saying that these symptoms are a result of capitalism’s decay they are wrong in claiming that these are what constitute a crisis enabling the launching of a PPW. This is due to the irrevocable proof that simply because relations between imperialist powers become antagonistic does not translate into crisis proper; friction can exist amongst segments of the international ruling class without a total breakdown of the economic system. To this extent, during times of crisis, inter-imperialist conflict combined with bourgeois superprofits goes a long way in disarming the working class; the national chauvinism raised by war along with the trickling down effects of mild reformism are able to effectively silence dissent. I do not think the PCR-RCP would disagree with this sentiment yet in claiming that these facts are able to precipitate revolution, our comrades are basing themselves in material realities centuries in the past; perhaps during the days of the industrial revolution and world war one these happenings could bring forth a grave threat to the bourgeoisie but nowadays, with an experienced and sophisticated apparatus in not only suppressing and oppressing the populace, but effective psychological and ideological means to silence and isolate revolutionary resistance, in winning the working class over to a bourgeois platform, our comrades position here leaves much to be desired as it idealizes the present through a conflation with the past.
In other words, the ruling class is able to circumvent the class antagonism. While these antagonisms are present, Capital’s quest for surplus-value and an increased rate of exploitation mean nothing outside of normal capitalist function: the truth of how sharp such facts are only reveal themselves in society, that is if these contradictions are not heightened to an unbearable degree then there will be no revolution because the fabric of society has not been rung with bourgeois pressure. The Canadian RCP is correct when they say that a revolutionary period is one which stretches over a lengthy temporal duration. However they are incorrect in their basic analysis that today is that period. Though they quote the founders of Marxism at length they do so only in regards to constructing a Strawman against the October Road theory of Insurrection (a theory which the author of this article does not support). Lacking is a coherent view of modern society: how do the words of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao show themselves in today’s world?
While they have mentioned some already-increased contradictions between imperialist powers, and a higher pitch class struggle developing, they do not go into details about how these concepts are leading to a revolutionary situation. They fail in elaborating on the specifics of transposing and evolving revolutionary theory in accordance with today’s conditions.
Surely they understand that a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary period are different. For instance, before the Second World War capitalism was decaying into a revolutionary period. Yet even at the heights of the Great Depression a revolutionary situation never materialized in North America; certainly there was a mass movement and many revolutionaries working among the proletariat, working class voices and policies had an air of relevance which they do no longer. Even so, however, an amassed outcry and degree of visibility does not equate to an organized, revolutionary eco-system of cadre and proletarians leading a visibly revolutionary anti-capitalist force. This distinction and recognition of facts is never made by the RCP. Instead they promotes a line which stresses the similarities of the two thereby leading to the false conclusion that in due course capitalism will invariably lead to a revolutionary situation; this flies in the face of Scientific Socialism which has clearly stated (and proven) capitalism’s ability to climb out of any crisis no matter how severe.
Fundamental to the ability to launch any campaign is the knowledge of the right time to dispense energy: the perfect moment to strike, how to most efficiently expend gathered forces, and the proper conditions before any effort can be smartly utilized. These are the “questions of the day”, not crisis theory in the abstract, not generalized musings on today’s supposed ripeness for revolution. But on the concrete application of revolutionary policy to today’s conditions.
The Red Army
Understanding how this revolution is to be waged, however, we must look towards chapter 12 of their manifesto where introduced is the declaration that a Red Army is needed so as to ensure the liberation of the proletariat.
“The second tool [after the Vanguard party] that the proletariat needs in order to wage the revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie is a revolutionary army—a red army—that will not only be able to confront reactionary violence that the bourgeoisie will unleash against us, but also to impose social, political and economic transformations on the forces that will try to prevent it from doing so.”
This is an interesting point because they fail to elaborate this army’s composition. Meaning is it comprised of guerrilla units, professional soldiers, armored divisions, aircraft, propaganda brigades? They fail to explain the organizational details of this fighting force: is it organized like a militia with decentralized detachments underneath Party control or is it highly centralized with units marching from one location to another?
The RCP clearly differentiates between Red Army groupings and those of Propaganda brigades (which they view as instruments which will introduce people to communist theory); the two are different in function and so for sake of honesty thus becomes an important part to clarify as when one thinks of a traditional army images of troops marching throughout the countryside invariably come to mind. It is vital the PCR-RCP shine more light on this segment of their theory precisely for the fact that if they fail to do so than in the future, if they ever decided to carry out this war of theirs against the Canadian ruling class, they could form a militia (NOT an army in the conventional sense) and dub it an “army”, thus further mangling their theoretical program to a greater extent.
Whatever the case, this degradation and confusion of revolutionary bodies of organization takes center-stage within their document “Protracted peoples war is the only way to make revolution”.
“In an imperialist country, the armed struggle of the Red Army takes on a different form. At first, armed propaganda actions serve to thoroughly introduce the principles of the Communist program to the working class; this form of activity consists of small scale operations executed by small groups that aim at political objectives (sometimes military ones). In this phase, we are not occupying areas, but waging surprise attacks, consisting of concentration of forces for short periods of time, meaning the time to accomplish any one of these given tasks”
At this point we have a definition of Armed Propaganda which we will see highlights just what kind of obstacles they are to encounter:
“During the armed propaganda period, the brigades must avoid fixing themselves in a specific place. They must rather cover a vast territory applying the principle of mobility – to bite and run away. The bases are then limited to what is needed for the operations’ success”
A question arises- is this “armed propaganda” rooted in guerrilla warfare? It is not mobile warfare or regular warfare in any sense of the word; certainly it is not a concrete stage in PPW, so we can only assume it is guerrilla in origin, a kind of Canadian reenactment of Italy’s Red Brigades.
They claim such a moment is during the stage preceding the actual formation of a Red Army. RCP documents state it is during this time that the masses are introduced to communist theory. This is all well and fine until you realize that, once more, they refuse to explain what these propaganda brigades actually function as, ergo what are “political and sometimes military objectives”? The military conception is clear enough-ambush enemy units, yet the political one is murky, a concept which I can only interpret as assassinations.
Rationalization slips further and we see our comrades mention the following:
“Fighting communist organizations have demonstrated time and time again that armed struggle heightens class consciousness; whether it’s used as a propaganda tool to show the existence of a revolutionary initiative or whether it is used to wage combat and win victories (even partial ones); or that it serves to anticipate and prepare future phases of the revolutionary movement (strategic defensive, insurrection).”
This is a counterproductive statement. Experiences in which North American revolutionaries have gathered clearly point to the contrary. Between the Weather Underground, Symbionese Liberation Army, Gabriel Dumont’s guerrillas, and the Earth and Animal Liberation Fronts’ we are able to garner nothing being gained by the proletariat in regards to class consciousness. As Mark Rudd, a former Student for a Democratic Society member said, “We discovered that Americans divided all violence not perpetrated by the state into two categories: that it was either mentally ill or criminal”. Which leads us to our next point that no reformist oriented worker is going to join or support a group which they believe to be cognitively different or which clearly aims to criminal aspirations. Moving the working class beyond that point means finding means of breaking their affiliation to legality in a manner that melds both the working class and communist movement into a cohesive whole. Throughout the course of these groups’ lives they were only kept alive by a small nucleus of supporters. None had a mass following which signalized that, despite hundreds of bombings, street fights, and even direct engagements with the bourgeois military, armed violence has any significance detached as it was from the mass-movement, regardless of whether it is led by a revolutionary vanguard party. This sort of idealization of violence leads only to blunder: of course, this is not to say that violence will be unneeded. Any claims to the contrary are clearly false as violence will be a necessity in droves in order to fight for the shift which is needed to create socialism. But the contention here is that the violence needed cannot be utilized flippantly, rather, it must be utilized smartly in achieving goals and setting policy; a natural outgrowth of the material conditions present in a revolutionary situation and period.
The PCR-RCP though does not dwell on this inconsistency for very long. In an effort to redirect attention to other aspects of their program they iterated previous points so as to lend credibility to their non-scientific programme:
“Protracted people’s war will hence go though a preparatory stage consisting of the construction of a Revolutionary Communist Party, the development of an embryo of the Red Army and mass struggle.”
The last sentence here is what I am focusing on because they are, in other words promoting a protracted legal struggle. Otherwise this party and army embryo is never going to materialize as working class people who are new to any radical political involvement, are not going to dive head-first into an illegal organization. Yet leaving behind this sentence what concerns me most is the first part where they speak of a preparatory stage that is linked to the concept of Protracted Peoples’ War. This is rather convenient for them: to say that PPW is possible in first world nations owing to preparation being considered part of the duel legal& illegal struggle.
Ignoring the many fallacies associated with such principals the Canadian RCP continues with:
“This step… goes through a transition leading to the next step-strategic defensive-in which the demands and political nature of mass movement will transform themselves, as well as their revolutionary political and combative activity. To sum up, this period is strategically defensive, but tactically offensive.”
How is this considered part of the strategic defensive? At this stage there is next to nothing of a Red Army with only masses of workers fired up and ready to do something; they are “armed” but have little direction. This is just a fancy way of saying militant activism mixed with isolated guerrilla-ism. Certainly for this stage to transition to an actual strategic defensive there needs to be an organized fighting force that lays claim to a territorial corner (otherwise what is there to defend, abstract demands?)
Transitioning into such stages, however, takes time, effort and sacrifice yet above all it requires the necessary forces to stand against reactionary storms. Meaning revolutionary forces must be strong and resolute.
Accumulation of Forces
Building this power accumulation foundation regarding PPW has not been a priority for the PCR-RCP of late. Hence this is why to continue they must push themselves; to begin on this segment we shall look at their conception of “Legalism” and “Boycotting the state”. As it is of relevance towards their first point we would do well to take a level-headed look at their conception of peaceful build-up prior to the armed struggle.
From Chapter 10 of their manifesto:
“In opposition to the official Left who sticks to bourgeois legality and who let its modes of action be tailored by bourgeois structures, we propose to boycott the state.”
Aside from the highly sectarian nature of this passage this sentence is highly peculiar. It is strange precisely for its vagueness, namely, that they do not define legality, or how their rival revolutionary parties are bourgeoisifed, nor this concept of “boycotting the state”. This is all troubling precisely because it spreads misinformation and grandiose theory without the action to back it up.
Let’s first take their musings on bourgeois legality and how it “defines” their Leftist rivals: what does this mean to the PRC-RCP? It means that their rivals have supposedly embraced complete rejection of illegal activities and anchor themselves within legally acceptable modes of struggle (essentially conflating such groups with reformism by extension). This reasoning has its roots within the idea that illegal modes of struggle must be incorporated into the activist dynamic, that without illegal activities from the movement’s inception the overall goal-overthrowing the state- will fail.
This is theoretical flourish which has little basis in reality. It amounts to saying that when beginning a revolutionary movement there must be some sort of illegal apparatus so as to fall back on in the case of severe state repression (IE mass arrests and assassinations). This is a kind of ultra-leftism; the idea that if a period of legal structure doesn’t have parallel forms of illegal structure it will fail, is nonsense. Legal activities, separate from the illegal wing, have their place in winning over recruits and members in moments of bourgeois prosperity (when the ruling class has not outlawed revolutionary organization for promoting the overthrow of capitalism). This is brought back to our conception of violence in that in proposing illegal activities be incorporated into legal ones, from the on-set, our comrades here are actually shooting themselves in their feet: in accidentally identifying this period as a period of crisis, when it is actually non-crisis, the PRC-RCP believes they will be able to use illegal activities in the same manner as violence during a revolutionary time- to win supporters and form a movement and army. Yet as the moment is not a revolutionary period, and since revolutionary organizations operate differently from lumpen-proletariat groups, this is not liable to transpire; ergo, when our comrades begin conducting illegal activities and are revealed to have intertwined it with their legal formations, both apparatuses will be destroyed by the bourgeoisie and the group itself discredited. So again we see a misguided conception of material reality guiding a policy which will lead our comrades, likely, to ruin.
This rigid train of thinking carries over into their concept of “boycotting the state”. This is such a wild concept I have difficulty describing it. This is in no small part due to our Canadian comrades’ refusal to elaborate: do they mean boycott everything the state does? Boycott welfare, unemployment benefits, low-income programs, elections, and more? I hardly believe this will result in anything positive in terms of the working class siding with them, not at least during a period of bourgeois assaults.
They re-state with a slightly more informative statement:
“We propose to boycott its institutions; all of its “administration counsels” and organisms of management by which we are incited to determine our conditions of exploitation. As well, we propose to boycott all co-operation bodies—between the state, the unions and the bosses—that are becoming more and more numerous and that have as sole purpose to make us think and behave like the bourgeoisie. We also propose to boycott the bourgeois rules, political parties and, of course, the bourgeois parliamentary system.”
Coming immediately after the first passage this one backs up the previous claim. The content is pleasing: governmental bodies of administration, unrepresentative unions, and parliamentary bickering are to be boycotted. Yet the implied passage is obvious: that the “official left”, Trotskyist, Laborits, and reformists, do not already do this, do not realize the corrupt ineptitude of the unions or the decaying effects of bourgeois mechanisms. It regulates everything down to a matter of “we’re more prolier than thou” and thus sets up an argument where only the RCP can lead the revolution; the understanding here is that orchestration of boycotting will result in the class enemies revealing themselves.
While the RCP is clearly setting their eye on modes of struggle prior to the revolution proper, this position is idealist and assumes people are pure creatures incapable of worming their way into institutions intent of corrupting its purpose. In the end this shortsightedness is similar to that of Mao’s in regards to “rehabilitating” Deng Xiaopeng. Though it works swell on paper, in practice, the whole edifice falls short.
Ultimately this combination of theories creates and perpetuates isolationism. It promotes a strand of thinking which precludes everything which isn’t illegal as reformist and everything which doesn’t boycott the state as opportunist. How they uphold that through this fusion of ideas forces strong enough to counterattack bourgeois assault will manifest is unknown.
Attempting to clarify the specifics of their program they start claiming the following:
“To counter attack, the proletariat must break this encircling and accumulate forces… thus, the traditional political work of communist parties-gathering of strength through ‘peaceful’ means-doesn’t hold true under these circumstances. Communists must push harder to spark greater confrontation.” (From: “Protracted Peoples’ War is the only way to make revolution”)
Yet even here we see contradictions. As in the previous segment the RCP held a completely different position, namely, that during the stage of bourgeois encirclement the Party should rely on the masses to help them break this encirclement; in other words: recruit in the middle of combat as you go along. To me it seems painfully clear that the RCP is precisely, “building as they go along”. Still, never once have they answered how they intend to recruit such large masses of people through their strategy of armed propaganda brigades; that is until they make off-target musings towards working class upsurges:
“…this is what we saw during the huge millions of people demonstrations against the unfair war of the US on Iraq…”
I want to comment on this point as an area which our comrades’ see as attracting recruits because the RCP is using it as an example of the revolutionary upsurge of masses when feeling an injustice. Contrary to their stance it is not an example of the stated position because there was no care for the war within the U.S other than it was waged by an unpopular Republican. The masses here do not care about which nation the US ruling class brutalizes; this is seen through the election of Barack Obama when, after he won the presidential race, expanded the wars while starting new ones. During this time the millions of masses who protested under Bush were missing because they were only concerned about the man in office. There was no “revolutionary upsurge”-only opportunism. Do the RCP mean to say that through this particular form of “uprising” they will find the revolutionary inertia to battle the state on adequate terms? I believe otherwise. They will find only ignorant “middle class” activists that are anti-war as much as they are pro-socialism.
This is doubly important because if this stage is as truly important as the RCP contends it is than the Canadian ruling would surely redouble their efforts and crackdown on political dissidents. This is exemplified when the RCP said that such was the best time to gather forces, in an effort to break their “encirclement campaigns”. Since there is of greater need to elaborate on this I will do so now. Here begins the Canadian RCP’s “creative application” of Protracted Peoples’ Wars: “These tactics [class warfare] can be somewhat likened to the “encircling campaigns” that were led by reactionaries against communist bases.” Therefore the beginning of the PPW is near.
The encircling campaigns, to which they are referring to, were launched by Chinese Nationalist forces against established communist base areas during the Chinese Civil War and in no way can resemble the bourgeois state arbitrarily attacking its working class opposition’s civil rights or resources. Call me dogmatic but as I see it the only manner in which this could be considered an actual encirclement campaign was if perhaps there was a revolutionary situation at hand and a coordinated campaign on the part of the ruling class, which utilizing these tactics, launched a series of armed assaults against revolutionary organizations. This might be considered “resembling encircling” yet as it stands now, in the manner which the RCP describes no, not at all.
“To counter attack, the proletariat must break this encircling and accumulate forces.”
To continue with our debunking regarding this topic: this is misleading because when Mao broke the encirclement campaign directed against him he did so with the forces already at his disposition, because during such moments it was impossible to accumulate forces, and so they recruited in-between each encirclement. How does recruiting counteract the bourgeois assault on revolutionaries organizing? More so how does it constituting a counter-assault in and of itself? Will the bourgeoisie back-away simply out of fear for the members the revolutionists are attracting (which is what the RCP advocates when one boils down their theory)? No, I think not-Chiang Chang Sheik never shrieked away from the massive support the communist party held so why should the entrenched Canadian ruling class?
Of course there is more ways in which the accumulate forces than simply recruiting. As the Chinese Communist Party discovered the brutality of the incumbent capitalist class can push citizens into supporting a national faction which has shown to represent the people. This was seen in the Chinese Civil War where after committing numerous atrocities the Kuomintang regime became more hated than even the Japanese invaders; because of their own indifference to suffering (along with mass rape, lootings and killings) Nationalist war efforts dwindled eventually resulting in the defection of hundreds-of-thousands of soldiers to the communist side, winning vast numbers of people from all classes and backgrounds.
Yet the RCP cannot rely on such happening in Canada. The fact of the matter is that North America is not the same place as semi-feudal China or Nepal. Here the bourgeoisie would never resort to these kinds of mass-brutalities on a scale needed to galvanize the people. Individual crimes would be perpetuated and undoubtedly crimes on a larger scale would also be perpetuated (such as mass incarcerations, racist killings, and brutal police crack-downs on assemblies, along with the usual suppression of revolutionary and anti-establishment organizations) but as revolutionaries know, the capitalists are able to “bury the hatchet” very effectively through their mass-media slaves.
So in this manner the RCP would face an uphill battle: fight the reactionary forces and somehow shed light on their adversary’s insidious tactics. It is a lot to live up to and is a challenging environment to make revolution in, so hence when they not only insist on this course but propose to spark greater conflict, leaves me somewhat dazed.
“Thus, the traditional political work of communist parties-gathering of strength through ‘peaceful’ means-doesn’t hold true under these circumstances. Communists must push harder to spark greater confrontation.”
Looking deeper into their language, however, we discover that their line does not hold up to war time specifications; their stance, tactics and strategy, model of leadership, it is all askew and runs its course opposite to that of revolution. The RCP is promoting a redefinition in order to seem more proactive which means more double speak: define violence as militant activism and define peacefulness as reformism. This is solidified when we see several more quotes from the RCP:
“…this is why the development process of protracted people’s war must be seen as a progressive movement,”
Why a progressive movement and not a revolutionary one? Here we see more double speak: define violence as militant activism and define peacefulness as reformism. So far I have yet to read a statement which counters my belief that the RCP’s “military line” for Protracted Peoples’ War is actually merely a line which trains militant activists while paying lip-service to armed struggle through grandiose visions of combat. In fact statements like the quoted above only further this conviction.
Such is practically admitted, however, in the same document when we read:
“This conception of PPW (that cannot be reduced to its purely military aspect) allows the forces of revolution to reflect on, learn about, prepare and organize revolution…”
We see here what seems to be a dramatic break; starting with the content in parenthesis- cannot be reduced to its purely military aspects. What does this mean? Protracted Peoples’ War is a military strategy. It is not a means of organizing activists nor is it a non-violent tactic aimed at reform. It almost seems as if the RCP wants to “regroup and reconceive” while dubbing it “protracted peoples’ war”.
By defining growth as such the RCP is attempting to show the world that what is essentially a line of peaceful militant activism can be considered a PPW development. This is not the case because despite healthy amounts of flexibility the fundamental points must remain unchanged: military action is direct confrontation with the bourgeois state through the manifestation of an organized army, not through the means of militant activists launching semi-armed activist campaigns (which may take illegal courses).
As convicted as the RCP theorists are, I do not believe this manner of build-up will result in a definitive Democratic Centralist organization. Though their means may attract swathes of people from certain neighborhoods or backgrounds I am unsure if it would gather the necessary forces as effectively as building a Communist Pole that, consisting of the consciously advanced, would function as partners in accomplish to the revolutionary traditions working in tandem.
A revolutionary unity, however, is not all that Canadian Comrades and I differ upon for there is a powerful point of contention which travels beyond divergent means of accumulating forces. This difference is over the question: ‘is protracted peoples’ war universal?’ I bellow, ‘no!’ it is not; the RCP however bellies otherwise and insists that regardless of specific social and material-condition PPW is universally applicable.
From chapter ten of their programme (“The Path of Revolution in Canada: Protracted People’s War”):
“Mao Zedong has systematically applied the principles of protracted people’s war during the Chinese revolution. The military line that he elaborated embodies, in our opinion, a universal character; i.e. it is applicable all over, in all types of countries, although in conformity with concrete conditions that prevail. Among these principles, let’s mention:
- The role and the necessity of revolutionary violence to transform society and revolutionize social relationships.
- Participation of the masses as a decisive factor in the war.
- The principle of building base areas to be used for the beginning of gradual social transformation even before the seizure of power.
- The building of a red army and the party’s leadership over this army (in opposition to Guevarist conceptions). This means that the military work must be link to the work of agitation and propaganda, led by the party.
- ‘Every Communist must grasp the truth, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’.’”
This section is quite revealing. Meant as to provide a rudimentary introduction to the basic tenants of PPW our comrades fail wholeheartedly. The reason why they fail becomes readily apparent once we dissect these five statements; of the first and fifth points: they simply repeat themselves-violence is necessary. Certainly this is true, for violence is necessary to wage a successful revolutionary struggle yet this is merely basic Leftist theory and has not much to do with PPW in and of itself. Point two is equally vague-they declare the masses are required to make a revolution!… why yes, yes they are needed, and their point is…? how does this relate specifically to PPW? Point four is typical vanguard notions of leadership and only can be associated with PPW in a much generalized manner. Indeed it is only point three which they stress a point that is truly unique to protracted peoples’ war: that base areas are needed before the seizure of power.
Of course, each of these tenants is required to launch a PPW: violence under the heading of a communist party must work to carve out a base area prior to the beginning of the revolution proper. Yet by phrasing the points as the RCP did, by insinuating that the only content to PPW was their reduction, they are setting up a conceptual framework which revises Mao Tsetung’s theory until it is only a shadow of its former self. They do this in order to justify their dogmatic stance (“PPW is possible everywhere!”) and show that through such an understanding they are supposedly carrying PPW forward into a new era.
Realizing the RCP is determined to propagate a watered-down theory of PPW, where by virtue of generalization it packs an unequivocal universal nature, we in the Regroupment wing automatically stand in opposition; the RCP’s conception of PPW is not that which can resemble any defined style and so we oppose such word-play for sake of realism. This force enables us to forge a revolutionary path rooted in modern conditions. This is not to say that the Regroupment wing is inherently superior but just that, as of now, on this issue, the Regroupment wing critical of universal PPW, has more of an theoretical edge over the PPW Universalists.
Overlooking these inconsistences, however, they barrel forward by trying to smooth over the rough edges via the introduction of historical examples:
“In synthesizing revolutionary theory and practice and applying it to Canada’s concrete conditions, (‘Protracted People’s War is the only way to make revolution’-RCP) and by affirming that Canada’s path to revolution is protracted people’s war (PPW), we are taking recourse in an adequate military strategy that at this time of imperialist development and with sufficient practical experience (among which the revolutionary war led by the Communist Party of China, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution under the leadership of Mao, the protracted people’s war led by the Communist Party of Peru, and fighting experiences in Europe) will enlighten us in regard to all our tasks and to the strategy that must direct the work of the Communist Party that will be taking on the bourgeoisie.”
Relaying on experiences from semi-feudal China, the failed states in Europe (who never launched any peoples’ wars let alone those of a protracted nature), along with the defeated peoples’ war in Peru provides nothing but a nascent mix of idealism not fit to lead an armed struggle within a territory-Canada-that is so remarkably different from their cited examples that I, quite frankly, find it embarrassing they are suggesting these experiences are going to advise them on how to forge ahead with the specific Canadian plan. This is not to say that these experiences shouldn’t be studied or that they cannot provide glimpses as to pitfalls but to mention how they will be enlightening cornerstones is simply silly.
“Revolutionaries from imperialist countries are urged to carefully study protracted people’s war. Brilliant examples of it are offered to us by Mao in China, the PCP in Peru, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the Communist Party of the Philippines, among others. These revolutionary examples clearly illustrate the importance of simultaneously building a Communist Party, a Red Army and a counter-opposition by transforming the fury of the masses in a mighty revolutionary force.”
Here is more of the PCR-RCP’s intellectual tirade. They gloss over their deficiencies by saying they are in the process of studying. This is evident in their citing off of the mixed content of the peoples conflicts in: (1) Peru: The PCP launched a protracted peoples’ war in a peasant-oriented capitalist nation and progressed to the strategic offensive stage. However, after the capture of their leader, President Gonzalo, the war effort dissolved resulting in both the capture of most of the Central Committee along with the destruction of the war itself. (2) Nepal: The communist party of Nepal (Maoist) fought a people war in a highly rural semi-feudal country. Within a decade the monarchy was overthrown. Yet after the victory chairman Pranchanda betrayed the revolution and sold out to Indian expansionism thus igniting a new struggle. (3) China: The Communist Party of China offered the only resistance force opposing that of the Japanese invaders. Though fighting both Japan and the Nationalist Kuomintang the party managed to wage history’s first protracted peoples’ war and capture power. (4) Philippines: the Communist Party of the Philippines though continuing to battle imperialist forces of their homeland have yet to make any significant gains in recent years.
Obviously the PCR-RCP is groping for answers, as we all are, within these conflicts in order to find political meaning. It is vital to remember the specific conditions present in all of the examples cited above: in the examples above, and rest assured others, the revolutionary forces faced such dynamically varying situations, from imperialist invasion, to modern bourgeois regimes, and even colonial oppression- that ignoring such specific traits in applying PPW to the imperialist landscape, would result in a disappointing stew of bloodshed; these revolutions, which the RCP so greatly laud, manifested themselves within material and social conditions wholly alien to that of Canada. Yet it is precisely through these struggles which they hope to gleam new information, some new mode of struggle, which will assist them in overthrowing the ruling class of a country which enjoys unchallenged legitimacy.
Expectedly, however, our comrades have anticipated such facts and so make their next move by attempting to dissuade minds from accepting the fallibility of PPW universality. To do this they assault comrade P. Becker’s opinion of a two-line mode of struggle of advocacy where PPW is only possible in third-world conditions where Imperialism has created suitable social-conditions for such campaigns:
“P. Becker’s pamphlet is proof that ‘being incapable of understanding what historical conditions give rise to this struggle, we are incapable of neutralizing its deleterious aspects.’”
This is highly ironic because when the facts are examined one will see that it is the PRC-RCP which is being mechanical via separating the overall from the specific in regards to history, a emphasizing of the macro over the micro:
“This way of construing protracted people’s war leads to incorporating tactical elements into strategic theory, to derive from what is specific that which is universal, and conversely. For example, encircling of cities by the countryside is only thinkable where the peasantry is the main force; but the fact that this does not apply in an imperialist country where the proletariat constitutes the main revolutionary force as well as the leading one doesn’t change an iota to the universality of protracted people’s war.”
They attack P. Becker because he advocated the theory of there being a “general line” and a “strategic line”, a outlook which promotes the actual conflict is only possible within countries with a large peasantry population; the flow of reasoning not being that only the peasantry is capable of carrying out such a campaign but that the conditions which allow for such a conflict to manifest only develop with such societal contradictions present.
Failing to prove why they believe this concept to be “universal” they have also bellied the notion that in the third-world nations the peasantry, and not the proletariat, is the leading force. Had they truly been interested in observing how revolution functions in the minds of the oppressed masses they should have come to the proper conclusion that the working class led the peasantry through the formation of proletarian ideas: the peasantry was the physical muscle while the theory of the working class was the leading light.
It is true that, theoretically speaking, the industrial working class can undertake the same mission which the peasantry have historical undertaken. Yet this is another incomplete jump of logic on their part: because of this fact, we are supposed to believe, it is therefore proof that PPW is universal? Logical thinkers will understand that such is not the case. Zooming in on how incorporating tactical elements from their undefined universality is a strain of backward thought, they imply that armed struggle, regardless of the strategic composition, must naturally coalesce in a protracted conflict.
Yet this is false: they are conflating guerrilla warfare with the possibility of protracted peoples’ war-the two are not identical. Further conflating this issue they push a line which fuses together armed violence and PPW as something “one in the same”. Through a lengthy series of quotes from comrade Gonzalo, a revolutionary whose contribution of “Gonzalo Thought” is now widely accepted to be the Peruvian equivalent to the revisionist “Pranchanda Path”, the PCR-RCP tries to fool the reader into believing that the guerrillas of Eastern Europe were advancing to Maoism through their application of armed struggle.
This is proven when they condemn P. Becker’s talk of “general theory” by equating it with reformism (the rationale: reformism is also applicable everywhere). Whereupon they once more push theory which states PPW is possible everywhere precisely because guerilla struggle is possible everywhere-guerilla struggles can evolve into protracted struggles through the catalyst of Maoism.
In essence that is their primary point. Shaky and not well understood or elaborated on, the theory is confusing as it is absurd.
Protracted peoples war is likely not a universal concept applicable in every country on earth; the failures of the past and the variety in socio-economic conditions prevalent in the modern world attest to this, and so, the Canadian RCP dig themselves deeper into this rigid hole. In doing so the limitations of earthly forces punishes them to maintain their dogmatic stance at the expense of a healthy worldview.
Urban Base Areas
Neglecting theoretical soundness, the RCP transitions into describing the transition period which coincides with the masses “rising up”, as supposedly shown during the anti-war movements where support is tantamount to challenging bourgeois power. They begin with descriptions of guerilla units:
“But with the beginning of PPW, the guerrilla units can then operate normally in guerrilla zones. The guerrilla zones are formed by underground networks and party-generated organizations or organizations build by the proletarian masses which challenge the monopoly of the bourgeois power”
These guerrilla zones are not base areas, indeed the first base area is only formed when:
“…the guerilla zones and those controlled by the bourgeoisie will be close from each other, [the] guerrilla [cadres] will have the opportunity to concentrate and attack strategic objectives… moreover, this proximity will make a part of the enemy’s military arsenal unusable. At that time, the strategic attacks of the guerrilla combined with an insurrection in a large city should allow the creation of a first stable support base. Then we could be able to achieve a higher level of military actions by combining guerilla and mobile warfare carried out by regular units of the Red Army.”
Much is wrong with this paragraph so I will list off each sin: (1) they claim that due to the guerilla zones close proximity part of the bourgeoisie’s arsenal will be unusable. Simply stated this is false; it has always been, and will always remain false- the war-machine of powerful capitalist classes will not be rendered unthreatening simply because guerilla zones are close. Rather this implies that the struggle within these guerilla zones will be hotly contested with many casualties inflicted. The ruling class will gladly see off thousands of workers to their deaths if it means clearing out communist rebels. The ongoing experience in India is all the proof of this we need. (2) If the urban situation should not materialize then it is safe to say that it is impossible to establish a stable guerilla zone. Hence, with no alternative plan, much of the strategy here will be left in ruins This brings us to (3) if the urban situation should not produce fruit, if it should fail and no insurrection takes place thereby enabling rural guerillas to form a guerilla zone, then we can see that the weak link in the RCP’s chain is the city conception.
With so much hinging on establishing successful urban poles of support, the RCP, instead of critically examining whether or not such a stratagem is possible within Canada, elaborates on the conception of urban base areas proper in an effort to justify their stance:
“In an imperialist country, this task however requires what we call Maoist urban bases… as for us, we believe that armed struggle is part of the work that communists must develop in the period of accumulation of forces”
They correctly state that it is necessary for a period of study in regards to armed struggle in urban dwellings. They say that this moment of study is during the period where revolutionary forces are being accumulated. Yet even so it is a catch 22: you must prepare the working class for revolutionary violence yet if you do so the government will come down and crush you before you even have your feet on the ground. This is expounded upon in greater detail when they continue and say:
“In an imperialist country, this phase consists of the moment when guerrillas and the revolutionary masses concentrate their forces in order to launch an insurrection to take possession of a major city that will allow the mass-generated organizations to take solidly and permanently root (on an open basis).”
I think this is sheer idealism. I earnestly believe that the bourgeoisie would never allow revolutionary factions to seize control of any large or moderate city, not where a great deal of their capital resides. Any victory which ends in the revolutionary party taking hold of a city will promptly result in the Canadian ruling class launching a ferocious assault to reclaim the city. Even if this attack leaves much of the city in rubble so long as the primary capital centers are intact it will count as a counterrevolutionary victory.
I know Mao said that it was the mission of first world revolutionaries to seize the cities first but I do not think Mao had a great hold on how precious cities are to the Western bourgeoisie. Indeed even in his own struggle the Chinese Red Army never had a great presence within the cities until the final days of the movement. Why he thinks this would be any different for the Western bourgeoisie is unknown; rather it seems more realistic to believe that the urban contradictions would be virulently poignant within Imperialist centers.
Essentially the PCR-RCP’s conception of Peoples’ War in advanced capitalist nations is a series of urban insurrections, crafted through a combination of legal and illegal methods. Once the cities are captured and a “base area” has been erected the situation has transitioned into the strategic defensive (despite the contradictory claim earlier that preparing for this stage was the strategic defensive). During this phase the goal will be to annihilate enemy units with the body of the Red Army. At the end of the day this is perhaps the most important stage within the RCP’s conception of Urban Base Areas because here “Urban” refers to cities and if a city is not seized than there is no base from which to expand and develop latter stages of the conflict.
This is where their theory is perhaps most deficient. Even if it occurred capturing a city is no easy task, there are a host of problems to surmount, none of which are easy. To understand this concept lets delve into the first volume of the Revolutionary Initiative’s (R.I) journal Uprising with section number ten of their article “Thoughts on the RCP program”:
“The vast majority of the Canadian population lives in urban areas, where state control is at its highest and the response time of the armed forces of the state can be measures in minutes rather than days. Secondly, a base area in an urban area is indefensible militarily. Canadian cities were deliberately designed to prevent large concentrations of working class populations and instead place a heavy emphasis on mixed income neighborhoods and the scattering of smaller pockets of concentrated poverty away from each other.”
What does this mean for any armed struggle? Firstly, in regards to the indefensibility it means the following:
“This would necessitate that any individual base area would only be a few square city block, which could easily be surrounded and annihilated, or turned into a concentration camp through the use of armed checkpoints. Thirdly, an urban base area cannot be self-sustaining. Urban areas are entirely dependent on integrated distributions centers to supply all of the basic necessities of life, without which even entire cities would be unable to survive. As such, an urban base area would be unable to provide for itself in the event of a siege by state forces or to provide reliable relief to the People’s Army.”
Concerning the mixed income concentrations (I.e. class divisions), it would mean that those elements which are most likely to support an armed struggle are not immediately available to assist in RCP efforts. It means not only a siphoning off of revolutionary muscle but the severing of those areas which might be organized under forms of proletarian power; so even if such areas existed prior to the struggle, state-caused isolation will easily enable a siege thereby suffocating any potential flowering of alternative authority.
Taken together both of these statements imply the damnation of any struggle within an urban setting during a crisis period, let alone during a period of non-crisis where the profound contradictions of class society are nowhere to be found. This flaw is a weakness which is extended deeper when the RCP muses about “opposing fronts”. From More on the Question of Waging Revolutionary War in Imperialist Countries: “With a first stable base, the new revolutionary power should be able to exist openly” Of course, “The possibility of a US intervention emphasizes the strategic need for an adequate military preparation to face such a powerful and modern army. This will require serious preparation from the revolutionary forces.” This translates to that unless the revolutionary forces sweep into power and galvanize the nation before the US intervention arises they are doomed.
In this regard we must be realistic: the US reactionaries would never allow a revolutionary faction who has been waging anti-capitalist class war against an ally to transition into the strategic equilibrium (stalemate) stage: “…whereas the two powers would clash. A military front would probably take shape opposing the two armies.” Impediments of US imperialism abroad- Gadhafi, Assad, Kim Il-Sung, etc- cannot avoid direct attacks and dethronement so why should a local movement, so close to the US border, expect any different? It would be all too easy for the US media lap-dogs to gush on and on about the terroristic methods used by the revolutionary forces and how they supposedly represent a threat to the American people. In this climate intervention would be all but assured and the revolutionary forces would quickly find themselves overwhelmed by many thousands of soldiers and highly advanced war machines.
Even if the Revolutionary Forces held strong throughout this event, however, would they truly be able to stand against the mechanized might of a super-power (USA) adding their strength to an already formidable ally (Canada)? How would the PCR-RCP battle, in terms of holding territory (guerilla zones and base areas), the disciplined fighting forces of two of the world’s foremost imperialist monsters?
Guerilla fighting is one thing yet battling on equal terms is another. In this regard the actual armament becomes vital: namely, where is the revolutionary forces supply of modern weapons? One cannot battle professional troops with hand-guns and knives after all. An army needs assault weapons, anti-tank mines, and minimal means of aerial defense. Otherwise the whole “war effort” will be deluged with opposition able to easily cut through revolutionary lines.
The most concrete answer to this question of armament and battle the bourgeois military would lie within the capitalist armies themselves, I,E it would focus on devising strategies on how to recruit from the armed forces and promote revolutionary consciousness in the soldiers so that when the time came for the bourgeoisie to order the military into action there would develop a schism within the ranks themselves with part of the military defecting to the revolutionary camp while the other was left demoralized.
Under such conditions, with the police and military men divided, a revolutionary faction with popular support might have a chance at grabbing power during a profound crisis (a revolutionary situation). Yet as the RCP fails to clarify any deep position on such a paradigm we on the other side of this two-line struggle can only shake our heads in bewilderment.
The truth of the matter is that it is impossible. Even if it wasn’t, however, and the revolutionary forces triumphed, the trouble of maintaining post-war security (counterrevolutionaries, saboteurs, provocateurs, embargo and potential isolation) would be more than enough to inspire disillusionment and Reaction. A revolution in Canada cannot survive without a revolution in the United States of America.
All of this said I do not mean to imply revolutionaries should sit-back and wait until that mythical day where capitalism is supposed to collapse, nor do I wish to imply we should take the country-side approach but rather it means I am pointing out another weakness in applying PPW in an imperialist country. Yet the penultimate question still remains: how is this superbly challenging work to be done in a social-situation anathema to revolution, where class consciousness is at an all-time low? The PCR-RCP, however, does not say. Choosing instead to live in a hypothetical realm where if [X] can line up with [Y] revolution will occur, whereupon the party will be able to take control of such a movement, through undefined means, and direct the more combative masses towards its military arm channeling growth to their potential to combat the state.
It is speculation, nothing more.
Conclusion: PW or PPW?
An unresolved, albeit hidden issue, in regards to the PRC-RCP’s conception of Protracted Peoples’ War for use within the Imperialist center of Canada is whether if they are even describing PPW and not Peoples War (PW) itself. I have no doubt they are talking about a war waged by the revolutionary masses yet this so-called “protracted” nature is something which I dispute.
By what means are we describing this conflict of theirs as prolonged in nature? While they never mention how long precisely they imagine this war to take, or whether if the accumulation of forces is included in this time frame, they are resolute that the conflict will be one of a protracted nature.
I find this to be questionable. I have come to this conclusion because the conditions of Canada are radically different from those of semi-feudal China, Peru, Nepal, Philippines, and others. For one, Canada has no legacy of conflict; it has always been an Imperialist power. Unlike in many other places where Protracted Peoples’ War has been successful, in Canada there is no foreign invader oppressing the citizenry, no comprador bourgeoisie selling out the workers of the nation to those of a superior power, and no super-exploitation like those found in China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, (etc.).
All of this means that any conflict likely to occur within this area would be of a stupendously quick nature- with the armed forces of the state, in conjunction with the police, in toe, the revolutionary upheaval caused by any event or Party would necessitate a swiftly violent outcome; the fighting masses in this continent are accustomed to short campaigns, not elongated affairs with uncertain ends.
Let’s put things in perspective however to truly give this the proper framework it needs.
China’s PPW lasted over 20 years, in Peru it was 10. The former possessed grave contradictions in regards to society but mostly propelled its mass-resonance thanks to the Japanese invasion. The latter was in great need of land reform which in fusion with the contradictions resulting from neoliberalism and the Peasant population living under an increasingly industrialized nation, brought the Shining Path to prominence as the guiding light of change. Canada lacks both of these important cornerstones needed for the survivability of a long guerrilla conflict.
Instead what the revolutionary party is working with is the decaying stages of capitalism. This period, while offering its own unique kind of challenges does not do so in the same manner of swiftness which the aforementioned countries do. Missing here is that societal lynchpin which hammers home the anti-capitalist message; that device that enables long term survivability.
What does this mean? It means that the accumulation of forces will be an especially arduous period but more so it means that once the forces have been assembled the conflict must be decided in a lightening manner. Otherwise the inertia created by a revolutionary period and situation will quickly be remedied by capitalism’s internal mechanisms correcting the situation which has allowed this formidable opposition to grow. It means that any revolutionary faction will have only a small window of opportunity before the revolutionary situation dissipates and Canada’s internal contradictions are numbed to where the working class can be pacified once more.
These facts negate any possibility for a protracted conflict in terms of decades. Extending this conclusion we see that by default the RCP’s conception of PPW is in fact a People’s War but one of a relatively swift manner; something which is more akin to the Russian Civil war in which the Bolsheviks rallied the oppressed masses to their banner and defeated the counterrevolutionary White Armies. While it is not my intention to argue at length regarding the Russian Civil War, it is enough to mention that the temporal specifics were greatly different from the PPWs of the following years, while still retaining enough traits of PPW (such as the contradictions revolving around the cities and countryside) to cause a leveling to occur which enables this conflict to be seen as a precursor to peoples’ war for the sake of the time element.
In failing to differentiate between a People’s War and a Protracted Peoples’ War the RCP is merely using ignorance to convince people of their position’s feasibility. They are trying to say, in effect, that Protracted People’s War is possible when in fact they are describing something which though similar (People’s War) is totally different in detailed temporal terms. Though a People’s War may be possible in North America, provided the correct accumulations of forces are brought together during a revolutionary period, this does not automatically promulgate in a protracted conflict. Understanding this difference is more than merely splitting hairs; material conditions and temporality are tightly connected to organization and how proletarians survive: resource management, ideological control, and wealth accumulation and labor exploitation, all exist in this time-based web. Failing to see why a peoples war is different from a protracted version and how this difference can be articulated in terms of theorizing new revolutionary policy, is simply unpermitted by any scientific communist.
In proceeding sections I have given a summary of the RCP’s position and belief on how PPW would brew and escalate. From their documents we know the following:
- The proletarian vanguard must ensnare and lead the working class militants through a rejection of bourgeois legality and boycotting. Protracted Peoples’ War is a universal theory applicable everywhere (Period: Accumulation of Forces).
- A guerilla force comprised partly of Propaganda Brigades must assist the embryonic Red Army in protecting the Party and spreading communist ideals (Period: Strategic Stalemate and later Defensive).
- An insurrection in urban dwelling is needed to form a stable base area so as to fuse with the outlying guerilla zones created by the Red Army (Period: Strategic Offensive).
Such is the basic outline of the PCR-RCP’s conception of first world revolution waged through the means of Protracted Peoples’ War. One will notice that great swathes of theory are left empty; some of this is on purpose in order to insulate themselves from bourgeois spies, other bits in order to not advocate a faulty and misleading dogma, and others still simply because they lack the proper theoretical tools to elaborate such an opinion. In addition we also gleam that under their mode of organization, which along with current social conditions, a peoples’ war of a protracted nature is, to them, the only path to revolution. Yet since the purpose of this paper was to critique, we have arrived at the following extrapolations:
- The RCP incorrectly assumes North American society is approaching a revolutionary situation. This assumption automatically deconstructs their whole argument and ultimately condemns any efforts on their part to initiate this struggle.
- The RCP’s position in Accumulating Forces is idealist, contradictory, and sectarian.
- The RCP’s “military line” is militant activism glittered with speckles of violence. They have no coherent plan on the armament of their recruits, what constitutes an “encircling campaign”, and lack proper vision in carrying out this convoluted theoretical conception.
- The RCP rejects objective evaluation in favor of abstract dogmatism; PPW is universal yet they refuse to explain on what makes it so.
- The RCP’s theory of Urban Base Areas is thoroughly flawed. They forego serious analysis so as to bask in incandescent glory of successful communist revolution (fictionalized entirely by them).
- The RCP greatly overestimates their own potential strength in relation to that of the imperialist bourgeoisie, especially that of the United States ferocity during the inevitable intervention; they believe they will be able to fight not only their own nation’s armed forces but that of the USA’s as well. A position greatly lacking in serious contemplation.
And now we can come to our final conclusion: the PCR-RCP promotes a theory of Peoples War, NOT Protracted Peoples’ War. Doing so they are not only being intellectually dishonest but arrogant for ascribing traits of one theory to another all while conflating both. This is a sour practice on their part but one which pervades their whole programme with an essence of malcontent.
Yet despite this I do not claim that people’ war in the first world is impossible. I challenge the supposed “universality” of it, of its “protracted” nature, and of the PCR-RCP’s conception, but not in its possibility. So there is much work to be done. If the Canadian RCP expects to wage an armed struggle they must push themselves hard and make their theory into a reality. Much like how Maoist re-groupment projects is making their theory of a revolutionary ecosystem a reality, the PCR-RCP must do the same and break out of their own stagnant trend of activism to lay the foundations for their struggle.
Failing to do so will result reveal just how empty musings on imperialist centered protracted peoples’ war are, for it will indicate that PPW is not universal and that the revolutionary left will be required to search out other forms of struggle; in short: if the Canadian RCP does not find a way to make revolution in North America possible utilizing protracted peoples’ war, than no one will.
 Not affiliated with the Avakain supporters in the United States. For the purposes of this article the acronym “RCP” stands for the Canadian counterpart, not the American group.
 This is a point of confusion as in several different documents the RCP mentions different stages correlating to different needs: in “Peoples’ War is the only way to make revolution” they state that at this point in the conflict, after the seizure of a city, is what constitutes the transition to the strategic offensive while earlier in the same document they wax on about the opposite in that it constitutes only the strategic stalemate. This becomes further confused in other documents.
 Of course I realize that it is not always possible to fully elaborate on positions when it comes to the minute details of organizing a revolutionary force to overthrow the state; after all, one would not want ruling class spies forwarding information to the police and military apparatus. Comrades in Nepal, who have clearly shown themselves to be disciples of PPW refused to elaborate on Peoples’ Revolt yet have been showing themselves to be fully engaged in the struggle.
 Mobile Warfare: concentration of superior numbers of Red Army troops annihilating smaller concentrations of enemy troops.
 Regular Warfare: also known as conventional or positional warfare.
 In the documentary “The Weather Underground”.
 The Weather Underground alone bombed dozens of federal targets in retaliation for reactionary foreign policy.
 Before their demise the SLA engaged in a brutal street battle with police which captured a great deal of media attention. Along with smaller engagements launched by militant SDS members we can accurately claim a great deal of street fights during the sixties and seventies.
 See the fight of the Metis People and Gabriel Dumont’s guerrilla forces which were organized under Focoist modes of struggle.
 This is something which they previously scoffed at, claiming their rivals only have eyes on the legal portion of the struggle and not the eventual illegal aspects. By suddenly doing this reversal, into saying a period of legal struggle is involved, which undoubtedly has no illegal counterpart, they are further revealing their hypocrisy.
 This is solidified earlier in the same document when they say that the first-world conception of PPW cannot be purely brought to its military understanding and that it must be seen as a progressive movement in the gathering of forces.
 Another question of note: what are they armed with: pistols, handguns, knives? The issue here is how and what the party will arm the members of this army, how they will acquire weapons capable of defeating armed to the teeth professional soldiers?
 I use the term “laying claim” in a very flexible format. As such I do not mean to imply seizure of a strip of land, a purging of government control, and an institution of socialist policies such as seen in revolutionary China. Instead I mean simply an area of operation in which communist “subversives” are known to operate (such as in India where Naxalite forces have a presence in various provinces without being the de facto state).
 The last article of their regarding PPW was dated “summer, 2005” in the second issue of their “Peoples’ War” magazine (an official organ of the group).
 Primarily before the Japanese invasion but also, albeit to a lesser extent, during and even after the invasion was repelled.
 The Canadian RCP does not touch on this point in any of their documents yet during comrade Mao Tsetung’s early writings he repeatedly talked of how Red Base power could only exist in China in part because of China’s unique situation: it was a semi-feudal country under assault by an imperialist power in which China’s native ruling class was inwardly conflicted and raged amongst themselves. Obviously this presents some roadblocks to developing PPW in imperialist centers where the ruling class is coherent (as in not prone to violent inner-clashes).
 As for purposes expounded upon later, National Liberation struggles and anti-fascist campaigns are not considered “people’s wars” in the proper formulation.
 By this term I mean to imply the so-called capitalist nations which boast a large percentage of peasants in addition to industrial and service workers.
 As of late 2013 however they did announce that they have advanced from the Strategic Defensive stage to the Strategic Stalemate stage. Personally I consider this announcement to be premature and more of a propaganda move since I believe their strength should be considerably higher (yet such could simply be semantic musings on my part).
 For more on this see: “Where was the proletariat on Mao’s Long March?” by Mike Ely.
 See: “Operation: Greenhunt”.
 Otherwise known as a ‘War of Quick Decision’
 Historically speaking, this does not include initial colonization or inter-imperialist disputes which may have slowed her development as a worldly power. This means that the profound contradictions resulting from national oppression and neoliberalism have not taken root in the same manner as they have in much of the rest of the world.
 I am using both of these as umbrella examples yet do not mean to imply the material conditions were the same for each country in everyplace where PPW occurred.
 This was briefly discussed in the section “Crisis Period” where I berated the RCP for believing that a revolutionary period and situation where the same thing in addition for overlooking the fact that the conditions created by a crisis will not always remain open. While the RCP does acknowledge the ability of capitalism to dig itself out of crises they do not incorporate this into their overall theory which severely limits their theoretical scope.
 To which can be argued was an early form of People’s War which Mao adapted for use within China’s peculiar conditions thereby making it out of necessity a protracted conflict.
 I routinely browse their websites and have yet to only find study groups, statements, and news regarding student demonstrations. No mentioning of militant worker action or armed attacks against the bourgeoisie.
 The United States based “New Communist Party” (NCP), while having shown themselves to be well versed in American conditions and materialist dialectics, and while also advocating a line of protracted peoples’ war, do not hold, in my view, a coherent program for first world PPW hence stripping them of a chance to challenge the PCR-RCP in terms of organizations which are capable for synthesizing PPW theory in relation to the imperialist center. A split occurred within the organization over issues pertaining to sexism and male chauvinism. An incident like this reveals that if this vanguard organization cannot even conduct a proper two-line struggle over these sort of interpersonal issues, then they obviously lack the abilities to bring about revolution of a protracted nature in history’s most poignant imperial power. While the issue they were grappling with was by no means something which they should have ignored or remain lodged in the minds of their comrades, for a split to transpire, instead of the non-patriarchal, non-chauvinist members struggling with the socially reactionary ones, is a unmistakable sign of their inability to lead the masses; even among Trotskyist organizations, where splintering is a well-known pseudo-tradition, a split on this magnitude over an issue of sex and gender would be nearly unthinkable even among the Trotskyists. For a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organization, then, behaviors such as this are greatly worrying.