A Vague Epoch

There is a uncertainty within the imperialist center. To be accurate there are many uncertainties but if we wish to narrow these uncertainties down then we may say that the uncertainty we are dealing with concerns itself with revolutionaries; communist– theorist— revolutionaries to be exact. Unsurprisingly, this uncertainty is about theoretical uncertainty, of not knowing, of possessing a vague sense of how to navigate the waters, but being unable to know the way forward for sure. It is a conundrum.

I first noticed the deeper implications of this uncertainty as I was reading an exchange between M. Paul and Juarezjuan. It began, strictly speaking, with the birth of each, and escalated as polemics were issues: The latter published, on their own blog “The Rectification Rumpus Room“, a post attacking the “excremental thinking” of the former, by which the former responded to the latter by issuing his own defensive measure.

Now, I am not implying by any means that the exchange of polemics is a bad thing. Not at all. I have my own contribution towards revolutionary theory which, though not without significant issues, I stand by as a measure of contribution towards a debate. It is important to critique and expand upon what we know since otherwise we will never learn (obviously).

However, my issue here is not so much as the theory as it is the stance– of some– who claim a monopoly on theory when despite acknowledging what was the central issue between M. Paul and Juarezjuan, that we live in a vague epoch; one where due to the specific cultural and material realities of living in an advanced imperialist country, there are certain organizing contradictions which pop up as a result. These contradictions are, namely, that the practical application of theory to reality which, in turn, demonstrates the practicality of that theory in relation to resolving contradictions (whether they be among the people or within the party/organization). Contradictions which inhibit the recruitment of members, establishment of cells and branches and educational groups, as well as the launching of campaigns (both military and civilian in nature) against the bourgeois dictatorship (in whatever form or cultural sector it may manifest).

Such contradictions are inter-penetrative in nature, so they are hard to pin down. They deal with culture, perception of the past, ideology and propaganda, and class and social position. They “trickle down” to the proletariat creating a haze of false consciousness, within the “enlightened” revolutionist, however, they manage to manifest as well, only not as false consciousness but as a rigid refusal to admit the limits of theory parallel to material reality; hence, a discussion concerning the lack of a particular theory’s application in a situation, the perversion of a theory, the impracticality of theory, how a theory is revisionist or revolutionary, the degradation of theory (how it has since lost meaning in relation to a time in the past), and how a theory could evolve in the future under certain conditions.

At the end of the day this is what our current efforts have amounted to: wanderings among the historic masses in a fog of confusion, wondering how to proceed forward when we can barely find our feet. No one denies there is a vagueness in our direction: the dogmatic admit to difficulty in organizing due to confusion among the masses as well as difficulty in dispelling such difficulty, while those of us in the regroupment wing openly admit to not knowing what is to be believed (as Mike Ely once commented on a post of mine), or my own uncertainties concerning a practical approach to revolution. No one intended for such disarray to overtake our organizing but the point it that it has. And the goal should be to join and surmount the chaos and confusion.

Obviously not all would agree with my findings as they are presented but they exist, and ultimately exist along with these exchanges, because no one knows the route to socialism; the signpost got hijacked! The red-nosed theory leading the way on comrade Santa’s sleigh is missing, mired somewhere in a sinkpit, while the effort to rescue theory takes place as several teams competing among each other for the scarce amount of resources they have in order to build several different rescue tools. It is a lose-lose situation, one which due to the contradictions of imperialist civilization, even those “enlightened” have a severe inability to even practically cooperate (applying theory of the past towards the resolution of contradictions within the party) with each other (as exemplified by the New Communist Party split).

This is more than slightly ironic since both regroupment and dogmatists call for a “drawing in” of revolutionary organizations to form a sort of whole, pole, party, ad nausem.

Some Remarks on “This Vision is not just a Dream”

Some time ago The Kasama Project published a new statement entitled “This Vision is not just a Dream“. It is, in every conception, what one usually expects when reading about an organization: they have their beliefs all summarized and in a polemical manner. In terms of Leftist milieu it is conventional, but, short and sweet at the same time. Not meant to be a protracted platform, this short post will tell you all you need to about Kasama. However, what it won’t tell you should be expounded upon.

I have always thought Kasama to be a great organization and it still is: there remains within it the promise of developing a original, hope-holding strategy for organizing the masses of the imperialist centers. In many ways this is a strength of Kasama– that while many organizations are caught in unrealistic dogma or romanticize revolutionary struggle and theory, Kasama remains practical and level-headed. Even so, however, there are some quips which should be said. Things which, while basic, need be spoken in order to fully understand Kasama’s nature.

Here is a brief summery:

(1) Lack of progress; and (2) lack of theory.

Each of those are the drawbacks to the Kasama Project. Now, it needs to be said that both of these drawbacks are not for lack of effort, nor because there is a lack of theoretical discussion; Kasama does have collectives in addition to being modestly known in the international revolutionary community (as seen through their participation in Nepal). The website is able to raise the funds it needs without going for want and is able to fend off reactionary hacker rather well, but, for all of this there is very little to show for it on the political scene.

The collectives websites are irregularly updated, outside of some journalistic adventures Kasama is still mostly known as the RCP-USA splinter cell whose internal organization may, or may not be, different from their Cult-father (it is different, by the way). This is in addition to what I view as the more worrying aspect: no stern theory has been seen.

Kasama is constituted from various tendencies. Some are Trotskyists, others Anarchist, but many are Maoists or those new to the Left. As one can imagine there is a great deal of debate regarding subjects of a varied nature. For a project that has been founded on exactly this premise, however, and one which has been going for a number of years, there is a lack of tangible pay-off. I do not mean to imply that Kasama should have a manifesto concretely outlining a theoretical program which should, in turn, be rigidly stuck to; that would be killing the point. No. I imply otherwise: that for a regroupment project basing its self in building new modes of communist organization, there is almost a ineligible net-result.

Certainly not all is to be blamed on Kasama. North America (United States) is a place where, yes, struggles and injustices transpire, but one which, paradoxically, due to some of the most brutal class and ideological warfare in history, have reduced (dramatically) the potential for revolutionaries to practice and subsequently gain from the disturbances and periods of decay. An event comes only to be quickly resolved by the bourgeois state: the aftereffects remain but the period which it may be used to further the construction of organizations and theory passes by like a ship in the night. Even so, it is not at all impossible to build something with the material conditions one has at their disposal. Collectives, yes, theory… not so much.

One may say that Kasama’s theory is rooted in their collectives. To an extent this is true: the collectives do display a theoretical tinge which is not evident in similar sects of the same flavor. That being said, however, most of this originality is merely the surface gleam. On the inside the collectives tend to possess the same filler as is to be expected from the inspired tendencies. This is to say that most of Kasama is still composed of the theory of old. Many critiques have come from Kasama, including several of my own, and questions of organization and theory have come under fire which would not have otherwise been investigated; plus, Kasama has been able to offer itself as part of that anti-dogmatic alternative which still struggles to gain a foothold within the Maoist movement. But–again–despite all this there still is no firm concept of what should be done in terms of organization and theory.

Vague points exist. Theoretical screws and gears which are accepted as part of a basic orientation but not connected to a wider machine. Though this “wider machine” does not have to yet exist, and indeed, the frenzied search for building such a machine can result in a plethora of ill-fated positions and assumptions, it is my feeling that there should just be a bit more in terms of new, solid theoretical showings.

It is not my intend to deride what is by its nature a protracted process made even more onerous by the conditions one has to work with. However, it is my intent to say that something more needs to happen. Admittedly, I do not know that that more is: it could be many different things. I do not claim to know all the secrets of the universe, or even of Kasama, but I do know that a more focused effort should be made regarding the development and practical application of theory; how to do this, however, is the prime question.