Recently I finished comrade Moufawad-Paul’s recently published polemic “The Communist Necessity.” In it he outlines what he calls the communist necessity, something when, simply spoken, is a renunciation of the vague “horizons” and “hypothesis” as put forward by Jodi and Badiou. Systematically the author demonstrates what he views as the fallibility of postponing communist agitation and revolution; Movementism, or the tactic of trailing movements with the hope of re-directing them to a revolutionary pole, is his prime target with Jodi and Badiou’s theory utilized as an example of the historical theory which results when movementism infects the orchestration of revolution itself and its intellectual wings.
Being a supporter of the PCR-RCP, Moufawad’s strategy is placed firmly in post-RIM politics: acceptance of universal PPW, that PPW is possible in the imperialist centers, and a traditional vanguard party built for the modern day is all that is needed (along with militant activism and revolutionary violence) to make a revolution work; this is, of course, a rather serious simplification of the book and says nothing of his sections on anti-revisionism, Third-Worldism (which he does not support), or the struggles of minority races, women, and sexual and gender minorities. So needless to say there are great aspects of his books which I agree with while other segments which I have a profound disagreement with.
Obviously I am not intending on critiquing his entire project in this post. In all likelihood I will not engage protractedly with his theory at all simply because at the end of the day there is certainly theory which warrants a mature engagement, but that for I personally, believe that the differences are not so stark as to warrant a lengthy rebuttal. Instead I will simply outline my core disbeliefs.
- The book’s length. This is a minor point but concluding only after 168 pages this is an interesting creative decision on the author’s part considering the amount of theory he is tackling. I am not faulting my comrade here with using non-academic language either. Rather I was mildly startled that for a book which is attempting to disprove so much theory, written by many of the titans of contemporary Marxism, Moufawad decided to write very tersely. In critiquing Badiou and Jodi he only presents a few minor selections from mostly second-tier books. His preference here is to attack Movementism while broadly associating it with the works of authors who he sees have fallen into the intellectual trap offered by Movementism. Since this is merely an outline of (presumably) more things to come, this is not a huge fault but even so it adds a large chunk of skepticism to any reader’s perception when he takes aim at such titans and then proceeds to merely glance and skid by, offering but a few dozen page citations for the entire book. He did not write this book as an academic manuscript. Fine. But when you are dealing with theory which is heavily academic I think more effort should have been given over to a more concrete engagement.
- Orthodox Position: Comrade Moufawad’s politics are, as previously spoke, post-RIM and as such steeped in adherence to traditional Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. In my own lingo I would dub this kind of politics Right-Wing (as opposed to Left-Wing Regroupment). While at a fundamental level I concur with his assertion of not withholding the activity which leads to revolution, I believe he offers a reductionist explanation which grossly simplifies events. For instance: while I agree with his critique of Regroupment projects in offering little hope for “leading” (as though regroupment projects had leadership in mind) the revolution, and while I acknowledge his statement that one does not need to mechanically reproduce theory, I think the author has idealized the struggle; to simply say that all that is needed is a vanguard party, a protracted peoples’ war, and anti-revisionism in order to have the tools necessary to make revolution and safeguard it makes the entire concept far too formulaic. In simple terms he is simply speaking of transplanting revolutionary organization into today’s period while proclaiming that all that is needed is merely some tweaks here and there to make [so and so theory] relevant to the imperialist center. It ignores the powerful contradictions at play in modern society as well as the temporal demands which will be leveled at any organization fighting for the overthrow of capitalism in a place where bourgeois order is unchallenged. He has sketched the overreaching superstructure but not the nuts and bolts which hold it together.
So to conclude, while comrade Moufawad’s book is a triumphant assertion of the superiority of the materialist dialectic and the social relations which communism promotes, as well as a powerful assault on those armchair theorists who nudge revolution towards a distant horizon, the re-articulation of dogma as anti-dogma can only have such an impact when the skin and organs are missing. To restate my earlier comment though I ultimately agree with the author more than I disagree; while I profoundly disagree on those parts which I find questionable, the ultimate discourse and conclusion I reached here was that once fully extrapolated upon, and perhaps broken away from some of its more doctrinaire approaches, the concepts Moufawad is entangled with are serious issues which I am happy he is speaking of since they are pressing concerns for any future struggle. So yes, there is more to do, as always, but in the end revolution is what matters and in the proverbial end his and I’s politics share many of the same family members (if not the same blood).