Lenin Complex and Some Frustrations of Mine

It doesn’t take one very long to realize that the Left-wing movement is full of oddballs; most of these oddballs are loveable. Others, however, are not so loveable and so I found it fitting to be the topic of this short post– overly serious “professional” revolutionaries who fancy themselves the Lenin of their times.

Or, Lenin Complex for short.

Ignoring the maybe slightly Ableist connotations of the word “complex”, these people are the sort of comrades which frustrate me more than any other comrade. Why is because, at best, they turn Leftism into a drab military-esque formation where everything is sacred, and all is black and white. At worst, such comrades hide reactionary politics and/or toxic behavior.

You know who they are, they are the Leftbookers who will never be caught uttering a joke, mentioning anything about their personal lives which hasn’t be filtered through fifty-shades of SERIOUS™ and POLITICAL™, and who always act as though every post and story shared, every sentence of commentary, is akin to a polemic which will be read by online archeologists decades down the road. Maybe they even are working on their “collected works” or an “autobiography” of their political lives.

I deplore these people.

Now, there is nothing wrong with taking yourself or your organization seriously. Not everyone needs to be a clown-in-training. But there is a difference between taking yourself seriously and immersing yourself within the SERIOUS™.  The former is something mature people practice from time-to-time while the later tends to be, more often than not, a cover for self-aggrandizement and reactionary politics.

To give an example: I have known several comrades over the years who have transitioned to far-right extremists. It is a sad development but something which happens from time to time. What every instance had in common, however, was that the comrades in question had bad cases of Lenin Complex (nothing against ya, Lenny!).

These comrades would try to mask everything they did. One, a younger fellow, posted an overly long, yet emotionless rant about how he lost his cell phone while on a study trip to Europe. Why the post was long was because he wanted to be taken SERIOUSLY® for his newly acquired Right-wing pals; he didn’t want to be perceived as a stereotypical, whiny American kid who was so concerned about his cell phone. It will not surprise you to learn that this behavior was something which followed him throughout life, even when he was a leftist: before he ditched an organization which, at the time, we were both members of, he called my on Skype to say that we were still comrades; a touching sentiment, yes, but something which is hardly needed if you are merely leaving one group to join another.

Another example, this time with someone older than my ex-comrade: in short, he was a class reductionist National-Bolshevik. He was incredibly transphobic. Part of how he would hide his fascist sentiment was with overly-serious attitudes; he would post lengthy commentaries on how carefully he decided on the course of action to take. To him, every time he deleted somebody from a social media profile was a BIG EVENT©. People such as him hoped to find their fame as a left-wing personality by making it seem as though they took a personal interest in each and every action and story they shared. It was pathetic.

What I am getting at is that this behavior indexes larger problems.

One can just as easily hide their counter-revolutionary politics with “ironic” humor, it is done every day, especially with TERFS. But, if one uses humor, it is harder to build a cult-following and easier to pass one’s self off as a respectable commentator and source of opinion. Whereas comedy tends to alienate the respectable, the serious attracts the crowds out of the authority fallacy.

I want to shift gears, though, because I think this Lenin complex cuts deeper. This is where my personal frustrations peek.

Lately, I have been becoming more and more frustrated with the revolutionary left. Do not mistake me, I have never been more of a revolutionary communist, but I have been finding it harder and harder to have non-hostile conversations with people from certain tendencies and outlooks, mainly because of how they operate in a subset of Lenin Complex.

What irks me is when a comrade will remain connected to my profile for a long time but only comment or react to my content when it comes time to disagree with a political statement I make. Now, I tend to be selective about who I let on my profile, but there is a variety of people on there, not all of whom are Leftists. But what I strive for in my interactions has been to keep up an interest in my friends’ activities. Sometimes this means liking/reacting to stories, other times commenting, or if they are of the persuasion, messaging them and deepening the connection. What I have been seeing lately, though, is comrades who simply only care about my activity when it clashes with their own beliefs.

These comrades you will not see taking an interest in anything you do: they will not like/react to your posts, they will only rarely comment or message you. But, don’t worry, they will comment on your posts if you post something which offends their very exact political sensibilities. Never will they interact with your content about your personal life, even though you clearly give off the vibes of someone who is open to people becoming closer via communication.

Obviously, this is not a position shared by comrades who have thousands of friends. As I said, I am selective about who I let on my profile. Additionally, I understand boundary issues and some people just wanting to do their own thing. I get that. So what bothers me is when I see Lenin Complex intersect with other bad behavior; behaviors such as: overly serious, religious-like, reverence some comrades have for their group or tendency, or how it leads them to remain connected with known abusers but does not lead them to conduct self-criticisms. Such comrades place personal affectations above politics while remaining attached to that overly-serious political model which allows them to deny any personal stake in their actions; it is the reverse of my own frustrations but a very real present all the less.

Personal affectations aside, however, the general conduct of the left in organizing has been disappointing. There have been many premature declarations and larger than life assertions with poor practice. I hope that organizers start taking their roles as political agents more seriously. I say this because in my personal experience, there is a lot of weirdly misplaced effort in the most unlikely of places and it disturbs me.



Near the concluding sections of Talks at the Yenan Forum of Literature and Art, Mao speaks of political positions which prevent communist cadre from fully engaging in critical-artistic practice. He says that since they are still confused or uneducated, they tow an incorrect line of engagement.

Mao makes many solvent points. Moreover, the points he makes are, I believe, crucial to correctly understand. All of his points I have seen ad nueaseam in literature; although this is hardly surprising when one reads bourgeois literature since, ideologically, such literature is fundamentally directed toward legitimating counterrevolutionary ends. The issue, however, is largely only relevant to communists. So, as a principal of criticism, the radical critic would do well to remember Mao’s sentiment, sentiment which I will now attempt to delineate while using concrete, recent examples:

In the first political statement, Mao says:

“The theory of human nature.” Is there such a thing as human nature? Of course there is. But there is only human nature in the concrete, no human nature in the abstract. In class society there is only human nature of a class character; there is no human nature above classes. We uphold the human nature of the proletariat and of the masses of the people, while the landlord and bourgeois classes uphold the human nature of their own classes, only they do not say so but make it out to be the only human nature in existence. The human nature boosted by certain petty-bourgeois intellectuals is also divorced from or opposed to the masses; what they call human nature is in essence nothing but bourgeois individualism, and so, in their eyes, proletarian human nature is contrary to human nature. “The theory of human nature” which some people in Yenan advocate as the basis of their so-called theory of literature and art puts the matter in just this way and is wholly wrong.

What is important here is to realize that Mao’s attack is two-fold. On one hand, he is attacking the fallacious idea of ‘human nature,’ and ideology which serves fascistic ends, while on the other hand, he is replacing human nature with class nature. To Mao, human nature only exists in the sense of class dynamics; it is natural for the landlord to behave the way he does because it is demanded by his class and class interests. Said again, the landlord’s actions is historically driven by the social-material forces which surround him; it is only under a mode of production—agrarian capitalism—that the landlord acts the way he does, just as the feudal lord behaves with violent impunity due to his position at the top of the social hierarchy.

For literature, this holds a great deal to remember because it is all too often we see characters, protagonists at the bottom of their alcoholic dripped selves, lament so-called human nature; it is expected that when things ‘go south’ the protagonist and company will blame the simple nature of humanity, to wash away the troublesome actions of a former-friend or antagonist, the failure of a great bit of social engineering on the ‘natural’ inclinations of humanity.

Of course, this is absurd and only strengths the reactionary artistic-regime. When the character Snowball in Animal Farm, for instance, flees the farm, it is not because of his ‘natural proclivities’ but because of his anti-proletarian nature—because of his class nature; he flees not because he is born selfish, rude, or inherent evils drive him to reject his friends but because his class interests, that of the bourgeoisie, demand he flee since he cannot imagine collective action undertaken without exploitation as the prime mover.

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Introducing: “Red Criticism”

As someone with an interest in literature and criticism, but also as someone who is a revolutionary communist, Marxist criticism and theory, specifically in the Humanities, plays a major role in my thought. Or, one would at least think that it would play a major role.

Truthfully, I have spent the last few years since I entered university immersed more in poststructualist and postmodernist works than Marxist ones. This was done on purpose. After all, I figure if there was ever a time to engage with the study of such works, then as an Undergraduate would be the time and the place since, as a possible graduate student, I would return to a full-fledged Marxist praxis.

The downside to this was that though I learned a great deal about postmodernism and its nascent philosophy, my study of Marxism had suffered; I engaged in a plethora of electric theory at the cost of limiting my knowledge of concrete applicable theory.

While my engagements in posstructualism were well founded and will continue under the auspices of seeing how classical Marxist theory may be improved or altered so as to achieve new goals under increasingly stratified new intellectual conditions, I believe now will be a good time, seeing as how it is summer and I have a bit of a breather from university, to dive back into Marxist thought on art and criticism.

As such, I decided to write a series of abstracts. These “red” abstracts focused on Marxist pieces concerning art and artistic practice, will cover a wide range of figures and sources. But, that is the long term goal. At the moment, I am preoccupied with Mao and the Maoist contribution to criticism and practice: how art was viewed, practiced, and criticism wielded.

I start with the Maoist tradition for several reasons. One, because what many people forget is that Mao was not merely a military strategist, or a politician. He was a philosopher and a teacher. Mao was someone deeply concerned about human existence, behavior, and how it dwelt alongside art and culture. He wrote a great deal on philosophy, practice, and humanity as it struggled in revolutionary upheavals. Moreover, as I was at pains to see as I read Mao’s corpus of writings, was that there is a lot of unexplored potential in Mao’s works, potential which could possibly have great resonance if applied to contemporary times and augmented by new theoretical lenses.

The second reason I start with the Maoists is because of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (or simply the Cultural Revolution for short, or the GPCR). It was a world historic event and one which is the high-water mark for revolutionary practice, theory, and ideology. Its impact on how we can now view the Vanguard party, revisionism, capitalist restoration, and practice (both activism and armed struggle) cannot be ignored. To do so would be to throw away a monumental learning experience. Because of this, I feel that a great deal of the GPCR can be studied either directly as artistic practice (in how cultural and artistic units conducted themselves and their ideology and practice) or in the abstracted sense of ‘brainstorming what can be parsed from its triumphs and limitations.’

In sum: Mao Tse-tung Thought, its philosophy and practice contains potential to be realized. So I want to see what I am able to learn from the myriad of writings, polemics, and texts; what can be discerned, extrapolated, and understood from one of the greatest periods of human history. This will be the template by which other Marxist-artistic practices will be judged and what, by extension, can be imparted by an engagement between the two.

So, knowing this, I have devised a simple format for how this series will function: each abstract will feature a specific piece and will be numbered accordingly (i.e., ‘Abstract-1’ and so forth). The numbered piece, however, will only contain a summery and overview of the piece which was read; for the critical engagement(s), those will follow after the numbered pieces as abstracts assigned letters after the numbers. So, as an example, the engagement with Abstract-1’s content will be labeled as ‘Abstract-1(A)’ and so on down the alphabet until the engagements for that particular abstract have been exhausted. This way ensures that should I desire to move on and read and engage with other Marxist-artistic pieces, I can always return to an earlier pieces, engage with it, and post up the engagement without readers becoming confused; everything is, in short, strictly numbered and ordered. Coherency is maintained.

Another Look at Safe Spaces



‘South Park,’ a right wing Libertarian show which attempts to rehabilitate White Supremacy, attacks the idea of the ‘safe space’ as part of so-called ‘mental gentrification.’


Lately, I have been seeing many socially-reactionary posts from Leftists attacking the idea of a safe space; sadly enough, these Leftists often sound like anti-PC reactionaries and right-wing South Park loving teenagers when they rant against safe spaces as exclusory, postmodern-liberalism, or elitist counterproductive measures. Sometimes, these Leftists are afflicted with a severe case of class reductionism, other times they are suspicious of the idea by viewing such a space as middle-class narcissism. Ignorance of these spaces, of course, plays an additional role. More often than not, however, their hostility is due to a misunderstanding of postmodern identity politics.

What is important to remember about identity politics is that it seeks to supplant class struggle with identitarianism. Instead of seeing revolutionary praxis through the interplay of class forces and socioeconomic power, postmodernism, by its virtue of being a ahistorical force, posits individualism as the defining factor; bringing the oppressed to the forefront only to then channel their yearning for liberation away from emancipatory politics, identity politics is a cannibalizing force denying class consciousness on the grounds that individualism can be the foundation for struggle by interlocking with other forms of activism (in this sense, then, it closely resembles movementism). To identity politics, there is nothing beyond identity: with revolutionary fervor supposedly defeated, it sees cooperation as the best solution and so conjures an engorged identity-complex as its substitution for class politics.

The preceding should be obvious to anyone who has been in the revolutionary movement for any substantial period of time. The issue I have been seeing, however, does not lie in ignorance of how identity politics function, per se, but in its application in today’s revolutionary praxis. Comrades have not taken the time or effort to understand the nuances of identity politics as it appears today, how it relates to safe spaces, and how Leftists can support the minority and disenfranchised—those most susceptible to violence—without appealing to a crass class reductionism.

I will argue something new, instead, that a defanged identity politics—an identity politics subordinated to a materialist analysis—is useful in organizing anti-capitalist resistance.

Identity politics is a massive apparatus and has incarnations in both right-and-left-wing social circles in addition to the bourgeois center. So, to narrow down on this post’s focus, I will be focusing primarily on only the Leftist incarnation with some deviation to the Rightist. To accomplish this, I will offer commentary on both ideas insofar as relate to the concept of a safe space while curbing the social-reactionary Left’s vulgar Marxism concerning the idea of a safe place.

  1. Safe Place as Remuneration

Capitalism is a duality. While being the single best thing to happen to humanity, it is also the worst. The destructive nature of so-called ‘late capitalism’ has produced tremendous amounts of alienation among all sectors of society but most powerfully among working class persons, especially youth. Safe spaces are areas which attempt to counter-act this alienation, if only temporarily. A safe place is an area which shuts down the violence of alienation by both reassuring and welcoming those disparate elements (minority and oppressed persons) that their existence matters and that they are not alone in their struggle to survive; oppressive language, hateful micro aggressions and violent assault and battery, discrimination and ‘mansplaining’ and ‘cissplaining’ are kicked to the curb. Bringing together alienated individuals into contact with one another while in a setting which has delineated a stridently progressive code of conduct, thus promising a risk free socialization, ultimately promotes a kind of restoration by building networks of support and mutual aid, concepts which is vital for the proletariat to survive under an increasingly hostile regime of accumulation. Although alienation can only be ameliorated under capitalism, and never eliminated, such spaces are a step in the right direction in terms of community organizing and organization building.

To pretend that the horrors of capitalism are the same for all persons of a certain class or socioeconomic factor, simply because of their inclusion as a free-waged laborer, is to resort to a base class reductionism that erases the histories of struggle which Persons of Color (PoC), Women, oppressed nationalities, and Queers face on a daily basis, a struggle which is more nuanced than an issue of simply class (in this sense, class reductionism is a form of identity politics in itself). Yes, it is true that class is the pivotal factor which must never be overlooked or lost sight of, but neither can it be trumpeted as the end-all identity which all should strive toward.

  1. Safe Places have always Existed

In one form or another, safe places have always existed. It is here that we encounter the safe places on the right-wing. For what are areas such as country clubs, exclusive neighborhoods, and economic summits, or even gendered codes of conduct (if we want to think in grand terms), if not a safe place for the reactionary elements of society? In a de-territorialized form, safe places can be seen as encompassing a vast array of locales which radically diverge from the clichéd image of a safe place, such as the image of it being nestled within a liberal arts university full of supposedly ‘oversensitive’ youth; to name a few additional– men’s clubs, racially specific (usually White) business clientele, gendered restrooms, etc. But since we are concerned in its territorialized incarnation, of those safe places specific to the oppressed, we can cite, just from revolutionary history, the existence of women’s self-defense brigades, Queer vigilante patrols, and anti-fascist militias all as examples of individuals creating safe spaces against the encroaching violence of reactionary safe places.

  1. Safe Places and the Revolution

Because of the definition in point ‘B,’ we can say that safe places are one in the same with pushing for a revolutionary rupture. In identifying safe places with realms of safety for minority and oppressed persons, the creation of safe places is identical with revolutionary struggle. In this sense, not all safe places should be respected; those areas of safety on the right-wing, for instance, which run the range from conferences, fairs, meetings, demonstrations and the like, should be targeted by the forces fighting for Left-wing safe places. Although somewhat abstracted as a conceptualization of safe spaces—where places are defined outside of the expected middle-class milieu– this macro-understanding is what will eventually be a reality, and so should be approached by revolutionaries as a serious facet of communist praxis; to understand safe spaces, that is, as a cornerstone of intersectionality which is irrevocably tied to revolutionary emancipation. Without doing so, the movement risks falling into class reductionist outlooks and right-wing deviations. In the short term present, however, the safe places of minorities and oppressed persons, in however delimited a form they appear, should be respected as possible nuclei of struggle; after all, during a revolutionary period, should those individuals associated with that safe space convert to an internationalist outlook, as they likely would, considering how the materiality of their interests would push them in that direction, especially, if their own members adhered to revolutionary theory, then the end-result would be a great influx of liberated areas and staging grounds for the continuation of the liberation struggle.

  1. Anti-Infiltration & Self-Determination

By this, I do not imply that safe spaces disavow counterrevolutionary elements from infiltrating the group. This would be absurd. Police and agents of the state will always infiltrate left-wing groups. To believe that any group is free of such agents is to endorse idealism. No, I mean that a safe space is an area where the minority and disenfranchised express their concerns without privileged Leftist saboteurs co-opting the purpose of the group for their own narrow end-game. The safe space is democratic insofar as it is the participants themselves who decide in what manner the group operates, whether it is merely a support group, an activist group, or Leftist cadre. Revolutionary elements which adhere to the safe space’s conceptualization may participate in the direction which the group drifts toward, but those elements which do not adhere, people who identify otherwise, will necessarily be pushed out since they lack the identity principals for which the place exists in the first instance. Such basic codes of conduct prevent the privileged, non-oppressed, elements from wrecking the purpose of the group and enable the downtrodden to exercise their right to associate without being pressured to automate according to some arm-chair revolutionary’s idea of praxis. It is important, especially in conjunction with point ‘C’ to understand that every space and possible realm of revolutionary struggle, but decide for themselves to enlist in the revolutionary movement, and not be coerced or guilt-tripped into it by middle-class dogmatists who view it as the responsibility of every super-exploited and oppressed person/group to join, or otherwise be at risk to be labeled a class collaborator, traitor, etc. When such middle-class dogmatists attempt to enforce such practice from above, they become agents of sabotage to the oppressed liberating themselves as they are forcing a mode of struggle which may not be compatible with the space’s idea of struggle, goals, or purpose.

  1. Anti-Safe Place as Disguised Conservatism

                More often than not, anti-safe place Leftists espouse a conservative ideology disguised as leftism. It is not hard to see this in practice; online, it is common to view memes which compare political correctness and preferred pronouns to fascism. In the real world, it manifests as an anti-Marxist a-historicism which devalues struggle outside of the class struggle (forgetting, in the process, that gender and sexual orientation are directly related to the economic base since capitalism as a mode of production directly relies on biological determinism and heterosexism to defend the nuclear family and the industrial reserve labor army). Often, these Leftists come from privilege (heteronormativity, cis-cum, White mythology, middle-class settlers, racial supremacists, etc.) and so they fail to see how letting the minority and oppressed to speak for themselves is of vital importance to the revolutionary movement. Such Leftists lack the history of struggle and (self-)education to understand how these oppressed histories diverge in forms of struggle from their own histories and in ways other than class; yes, class is shared and is ultimately of paramount importance, but to shut-down the lessons learned from these struggles outside of the purview of class—their victories and defeats, theory and practice—all out of a desire to elevate class to the highest pedestal, is to reproduce bourgeois supremacy; to repudiate revolutionary rupture and stitch together an elaborate mythos concerning class struggle as the only facet of the revolutionary struggle that matters, is to legitimate antiquated ideology: anti-feminism, cissexism, white supremacy, American exceptionalism can all be rehabilitated through the denial of non-class factors since it ignores the real legacies and experiences gleaned from engaging the bourgeoisie in circles of life specific to how the base and superstructure have become intertwined.

When a Leftist falls unwittingly to conservative ideology, it is easy to see. Think of a Men’s Rights Activist ranting against women’s shelters, of them screaming that it is a sign of matriarchal elitism for there to be shelters which cater exclusively to abused women. Now ask yourself this: how is a Leftist belittling the idea of safe places for Queers and racial minorities any different than our MRA? Both individuals see only the surface and ignore the material reality for why these places exist; just as a woman’s shelter exist because of systemized patriarchy, safe places for gay, trans gender, and non-white persons exist because of institutionalized heterosexism and white supremacy. For a Leftist to attack such a safe place is to coopt conservatism while splashing it with a red veneer.


Anti-safe place Leftist want a new conservatism. They want a socialism stripped of its emancipatory qualities and reduced to the class binary; where workers own the means of production, yet the quality of bourgeois civilization, of sexual and gender distinction, racial and ethnic difference, remain. Whether this is a desire that is unconscious or conscious is of little concern since their ideology reproduces the conditions of subjugation (it may be useful here in thinking of the Communist Party of Greece’s (KKE) recent homophobic co-habitation document argues for biological determinism concerning the gender spectrum[1]).

To end, all of these points are merely precursors to future content. In the future, I will be posting more content which deepens the issues raised here. For the time being, then, I hope these points raise some points of discussion and assist in helping people move beyond outdated and reactionary beliefs concerning safe spaces.

[1] http://inter.kke.gr/en/articles/On-The-Cohabitation-Agreement/

Between Comrades

A Dialogue between Comrades: Some afterthoughts concerning the PCR-RCP’s ‘Defense’

September of 2014: I published an essay called “Idealizing PPW: A Response to the PCR-RCP.” The critique dealt with the program of the Revolutionary Canadian Communist Party (PCR-RCP)’s conception of waging protracted peoples’ war (PPW) within imperialist nations, (specifically) how its application would take shape within Canada. Although the paper was only marginally propagated throughout online venues, the reception of the piece was larger than I expected[1]; I received several noteworthy responses from people who enthusiastically gave thought-provoking commentary; these people helped me realize the mistakes and missteps of my piece while providing illuminating insights into history and practice. I am thankful to these individuals. Additionally, I received some emotionally wrought commentaries from people who did not take too kindly to my critique. In all though the piece did manage to initiate a minor debate among the Maoist inclined which I believe saw some remarkable topics being discussed and acknowledged.

Fast-forward to late February of 2015 and supporters of the PCR-RCP issued a response piece. Entitled “In Defense of Protracted Peoples’ War” it is a highly charged essay. As the response piece was penned by an anonymous collective, eschewing even the use of pen names, one would imagine that a level of interpersonal decorum would be maintained, that some of the ill-placed potency of certain members would be moderated by the group or editor, nevertheless, however, the piece represents oversights relating to its voice and purpose; outright declaring that their response only exists to counteract the activities of “certain people[2]” who (evidently) took to distributing my essay to the public, while taking into account the anonymous nature of the animosity directed toward me, the authors of the response successfully connote how they feel as though my critique constitutes of a trash-like substance, which to me, feels as though their response piece was written in bad faith (though they do admit—grudgingly—that my own piece “seems to have been written in good faith”). I will not, nor have I ever, claimed my critique flawless. Far from it! Issues plagued the essay from conception to publication and to truly have made it a memorable piece I would have needed to inject it with far more research than I originally had put in. However, I maintain that although particular problems were seen in the essay, and this brought down its over-all quality, my critique—(pen)ultimately—was written with the intent of initiating a constructive—good faith— dialogue.

In this sense, many of the preoccupations which the authors of the response concern themselves with are real, others, however, are not. Part of this piece’s professionalism will be to initiate a self-criticism of my own paper’s weaknesses. I intend to do this in juncture alongside pontificating on some aspects of their own response. The reason for doing so will be discussed later in this response.

The first and foremost molecule of the article which demands addressing is the response paper’s maintenance of my supposed sectarian conduct. They claim repeatedly that I misrepresent their positions and slander their work, distorting it beyond recognition which in turn constitutes—essentially—a bastardization of their over-all program. Something which they claim is hindering their organizing[3].

This assertion, of my alleged slander, is (mostly) incorrect. Of course I must provide some information on why it is incorrect. Because at the time of writing (my critique) I did not give considerate thought to the language I used, of how certain words hold numerous meanings outside of a specific context and definition, parts of my paper (such as the title), appeared more hostile then I intended. In short, I forgot that not everyone uses words as precise as I often do: that, because of my training in literary interpretation, not everyone uses words devoid of hostility but meant to delineate. When I use words they are to denote a concrete facet of what I perceive to be true. Accordingly, when I use the word “idealizing” or “idealization”, I do not intend it as an insult but rather as a concise representation of what I view as fanciful expectations of a goal expressed without the theoretical insights concerning its application being extrapolated, in the form of in-depth analysis as to why such a position is possible (whatever said theory is concerned with) and communicated to the necessary audience (usually members of the international community in addition to the local class-conscious proletarian constituency). To me “idealization” is not a term meant to drag down: it means judgment, of pushing too hard for concepts, too fast when handling issues which demand protracted study. Idealization indicates the implementation of impractical applications of both theory and its elucidation among the revolutionary. As it is impossible to measure the validity of any theory by a few statement pieces alone, and among the PCR-RCP’s pieces concerning revolutionary strategy and warfare there is but only a small-handful of texts concerning their ideas of PPW as they envision it practiced in the imperialist center, it was, and I still maintain, a proper, non-sectarian use of the word. It was never my intention to slander or engaged in unprincipled assaults. I do not endorse denigrating another revolutionary organization for no other rationale then they abided by a different program of struggle.

However, that being said, there are—in fact—moments in my paper which do degenerate into juvenile quips. Some of these moments find their immaturity from being simply too dismissive of the PCR-RCP’s position without first engaging more in-depth with their idea. Other moments, however, see this former idea in action as expressed through trite, condescending remarks better saved for hostile exchanges then the mature interexchange of opinion. For these moments of neglect, brought on by simply not taking enough care to have a fresh set of eyes look at my words, and believing that certain passages were clean of unnecessary vehemence, I apologize sincerely and deeply. It is after all hypocrisy on my part to desire a peaceful interexchange while clinging (unintentionally) to hostile nips.

This being said, however, a good deal of my paper abided by my educational discipline: of the road utilizing a specific definition of a word, in a specific setting whose essence is attributed to a concept which I was critiquing. Although the authors of the PCR-RCP response was under the impression, at the time, that these exact definitions were sectarian slander, few in actuality were slander. Ergo, if my essay, in this vein, caused them some displeasure in organizing for an event or demonstration, while I can apologize in the abstract sense for causing certain cadres ire to be stifled, I cannot apologize for the concrete: for an opposing side of the international line struggle, which they are both a part of and on the opposite of me, of gaining something resembling what is made out to be an upper-hand; I cannot apologize for this because certain individuals new to Marxism must become accustomed to the shifting allegiances of a revolutionary group as it grows and branches out to new locales and communities. As the response authors note, “these people are not, as a whole, what we call the ‘hardcore of the proletariat’… they are still allies” which means an apology to the PCR-RCP for the supposed convincing of a select grouping from the masses of the validity of one side of a line struggle over the other, would be construed, in the eyes of the masses, as an insult to whoever from the working and petty-bourgeois classes sided with the growing dominant in the line struggle. Any principled supporter of my article would be disappointed to see an apology for nothing more than the dialectic of struggle shifting in the sands of struggle.


At points in their document, the PCR-RCP authors question whether I am an active revolutionary. They express a feeling of confusion toward my status since my critique’s positions fall outside of their usual dealings. Fundamentally I believe this is an important question to ask. Participation within the struggle is a vital qualifier in terms of how theory, written or applied, is utilized and grown; practical application of theory and how the practitioner struggles to realize the potential of theory, can sometimes determine whether a written piece reflects the truth of materiality. After all, if Ivory Tower intellectualism supersedes concrete truth, as defined by the history of the application of theory and organization to a specific arena of struggle, then the end-product is bound to be divorced from contemporary practice, thus rendering the piece itself, worthless.

In problematizing my essay in such terms the authors of the response piece are providing a much needed segway into the hard-hitting question of theory. At the same time, however appropriate it is of them to ask such a question, it is also an attempt to de-legitimate my argument by asserting my pieces deficiencies as evidence of a total lack of engagement– I being based in the United States thus forcing inexperience of Canadian social-material life, therefore, becomes the basis for a questioning of the validity of my materialist criticism: are the social and material conditions so different between the U.S and Canada as to render null and void any critique which was written outside of those very specific conditions?

Basic Marxist positions will say no. It is possible to write a critique while living outside of those exact conditions so as long as the author remains committed to understanding the differences, in both an intellectual capacity as well as a day-to-day capacity, of how the differences effect and affect the objective and subjective reality of the proletarian class; that, as long as the required research is placed into any investigation (something which my critique, admittedly, could have used more of), the end-result will be able to offer insightful opinions into the dynamics of theory and revolution (of course, such an avenue becomes problematic should not enough information be available) It is of poor practice to conflate material conditions as universal across the board. Understanding the differences between realities is therefore intrinsic to synthesizing practical revolutionary theory, while the determinant of this understanding being an agent’s participation within the struggle itself, acts as the truth acquiring device. By questioning my participation within the struggle the authors are in actuality asking if I am conflating material realities.

The answer to this question is, again, no—I am not conflating material conditions. I may not be a Canadian citizen and may not understand every peculiarity of the objective material reality as it presently exists in Canada, thus rendering certain aspects of any piece by me lacking in the knowledge needed to bring the piece as a whole to an all-knowing conclusion. But no piece is perfect. No critique is meant to be absolute in terms of its written quality. The point of any piece of literature is to provide a space where discussion and action can be created, where new possibilities emerge on the horizon or around the corner. A close reading of a text, therefore, necessitates that the bulk of the valid be removed from the invalid aspects, those which through ignorance or sectarianism, a knowledge dispute develops.

An additional factor in this process of applying critique exists within a critiquing agent’s specification, of their area of theoretical and practical concentration. Some comrades are highly proficient in some areas more than others; a cis-hetero-male comrade might be advanced on questions concerning national liberation yet hold sexist and patriarchal convictions in relation to women. Some comrades are ignorant of the questions, debates, and controversies of the issue at hand (whether it be on organization, revolutionary war, or women and minorities), thereby causing the agent to infuse their works with innocent mistakes committed out of not being acquainted with either major or more obscure points of the topic; this is not to say it is always the case but on certain aspects of an issue at hand, some mistakes or issues may possess roots from this transition from a strongly suited discipline to a lesser-entangled with one.

To an extent this may provide some of the lacking qualities in my own critique. Before becoming enamored with theory relating to protracted peoples’ war, my concentration was within Queer theory (Queer Equality and the Media, The State of International Queer Liberation, The Future for Marriage Advocates, Reactionary Communism?). It is appropriate to say that my concentration is not within PPW theory. It is also appropriate to speculate that some of the mishaps concerning the words of the critique were based, at least partly, on my still becoming familiar with the various applications of PPW throughout the world, and how they are understood specifically by the RCP-Canada. I do not claim to be an expert in any field. Rather I am a simple revolutionary who, like any anti-capitalist, possess ideas on how to wage struggle and construct socialism; someone who wanted to chime in with thoughtful commentary upon a highly relevant communist issue.


I wish to spend a small amount of time discussing camaraderie. One of the more shocking elements of the PCR-RCP supporters’ response to my critique was exactly how infuriated they were at my words. Some of this, as previously explained, was completely justified as they were misinterpreting my precise definitions for unprincipled sectarianism which reeked of hypocrisy. However, this being put out there, most of their response was disappointing. Their response was not a disappointment in the sense of them refusing to spend a great amount of time and effort to clarify their positions; a great deal of their commentary, once divorced from their emotional meandering, held considerable value, and I for one found it enjoyable to contemplate. No. I was disappointed because withholding my own mistakes when writing my critique, I expected a far more mature discussion relating to our differences. Instead I found a response paper littered with melodramatically strung-out tirades against not only me but my organizational affiliate. Comrades have blatantly dismissed the Kasama Project as an internet only think-tank, forgetting the network of real-world collectives, as well as the important role think-tanks play in society, and unabashedly called Kasama and my paper “shit”. All of which is, unfortunately, a common accusation among Right-Wing Maoists. Such accusations were leveled at me in addition to some online-based RCP-Canadian supporters, though not necessarily of the authors of the response piece, as me supposedly being a “national chauvinist” and defender of “settler-colonialism”, both charges being as asinine as the degree and frequency which I saw them leveled on the online platforms; conducted in response to my claim that any revolution in Canada would necessarily depend on a simultaneous revolution transpiring in the United States (and Mexico, Greenland, Cuba) in order to survive, I worry about some of the Leftism of my comrades[4].

Let’s make this clear right now: I have never intended to denigrate, slander, or assault the PCR-RCP and its supporters. They are comrades-in-arms in a struggle which is going to require revolutionary anti-capitalists from all tendencies and organizations to fight for the common good during a revolutionary situation if we have any chance of building communism. Those moments which this desire appears to the contrary, as I have said previously in this section, I apologize for: lingual differences unearthed some unsavory issues which I have self-criticized myself for including. Repeatedly in my critique I—yes—use some harsh words to describe my comrades position, but I also use some very reverential words; on more than one occasion I uphold the PCR-RCP over similar organizations which promote first world PPW. Near the end of my critique, taking a page out of classic fantasy, I even go as far as to say that “if the Canadian RCP does not find a way to make revolution in North America possible utilizing protracted peoples’ war, than no one will.” Additionally, despite my difference with the PCR-RCP I never at any point in my critique dismissed them as being “shitty” or irrelevant to the struggle, both words which have been applied to either myself or Kasama.

Another charge which they level at my paper is that it does not draw upon a wide range of sources throughout its range; admittedly, I did not have a great amount of different historical sources; figures, theoretical tracts, examples from history and so forth were lacking in quantity. This is something, part of the imperfect nature of my critique, which I would rectify could I go back. However, this is besides the point: although I would cite more authorities and draw upon a wider range of information, the authors of the article specifically take notice with my usage of only a few of their texts on PPW, arguing that I did not draw upon all that they wrote concerning the theory.

To this I can only say the following: I utilized the PCR-RCP pieces on PPW most relevant to my critique; I drew upon their central PPW documents. The ones most advertised on their website and which contained the kernels of their stance on PPW. I did not scrounge through every newspaper and article they posted; I simply didn’t have the time. Although some of the authors seem disturbed by this, I am not disturbed and refuse to be as my position is sound—had there been another piece by the PCR-RCP which was so vital to their approach on PPW then it should have been listed with the other pieces concerning their conception of revolutionary strategy, not filed away in an obscure place where no one but the hardened supporters or incurious readers would find. So to conclude: yes, I wish I did utilize a more refined engagement with the revolutionary tradition when writing the piece, but my path, of focusing on the pieces most demanding of attention, remains a solid platform.

So I guess my disappointment is not so much in the quality of their theory as it is in the (almost stereotypical) juvenility of their tone. I would only say that I had wish the administrators and editors of the PCR-RCP organs had kept a higher standard of quality on the responses delivered to theoretical sparing partners. Despite this less than refined response, however, I do not and nor ever will repudiate the intrinsic comradeship which exists between revolutionaries[5]. They may or may not consider me one of their co-fighters for liberation, but that will not stop me from always considering them among the champions for the oppressed.


An issue which the defense authors were right to focus on, however, was my use of a strawman logical fallacy. Although my particular use—specifically the manner in which I scapegoated their conception of building revolutionary support by arguing that they didn’t have an idea of what constituted a revolutionary situation—was sound insofar as the PCR-RCP clearly did not have a fully formed idea of what defined a revolutionary situation, it was an incorrect position of mine to extend such findings to their over-all program of PPW.

When such overzealous positions are artificially promulgated for no other purpose then to express an unfinished idea, issues arise. These issues can interrupt a good natured critique or response and coerce participants into giving dodged support to (perhaps) unscrupulous allies. While there was much about my paper which was worthy of publication, there were other aspects which needed more work; a facet of its epistemology which I was aware of before publication, and yet still advanced, knowing full well that the remaining ‘rough’ edges needed more polish. For this aspect, the hurried nature of the piece, I can and will apologize for: sorry. It should have been a more important issue to myself than it was as those unpolished areas caused more than a fair share of confusion and misunderstanding. In the future I will try harder to rectify.

Concerning ‘the future’, however, I want to take a moment and discuss another reason for the posting of this piece (the text you are currently reading). Namely, that it exists partly to demarcate my previous writing style—sweeping pieces with a protracted thesis—with what I am constructing as my new style—smaller theses inclined toward more theoretical and historic matters, posts purposed more as investigative articles rather than lofty affairs.

This shift does not mean, however, that I will no longer pen more protracted pieces; I have several such lengthy pieces planned, especially one or two concerning PPW. Rather, it simply serves to state that my emphasis right now is on matters other than responding to a bad faith response written by some anonymous, and highly upset, revolutionists in Canada. Such a response will come later but as of right now my intellectual and practical efforts are pulling me in another direction and so I will trust my Canadian comrades to have patience when waiting for my retort. Thank you.

[1] Facebook, Rev-Left, the Kasama Project’s open social networking platform, and a few indirect mentions on some friendly blogs constituted the majority of the sites which the project made an appearance. Any appearances beyond these sites I am neither aware of nor reasonable for.

[2] I do not know who these people are, what their activities vis-a-vie my essay have been, what their goal or ideology is, nor if they are even revolutionaries; additionally, I have had no part in organizing any distribution of my essay in Canada (meaning, the contacting of local groups to disseminate my paper).

[3] I wonder to the degree this was meant; meaning, was it truly making an impact on their organizing or was this sentiment spoken more in the larger sense of ‘other ideas polluting the waters’, making a certain line more strenuous to defend. Opposing ideas, on the same-general ideological plain, are concepts which should be welcomed in any group or organization. If a group finds themselves in the position where a single paper is able to disrupt their efforts, then I think such a group has more profound internal contradictions then merely the presence of an opposing viewpoint. My knowledge of the PCR-RCP would make this seem unlikely but I am open to hearing differing opinions.

[4] When I say “I worry” I am, of course, referencing the tendency concerning certain segments on the Left who place too much stock in Stalin’s (still) controversial theory of ‘Socialism in One Country’. Although I do not disparage the concept or practice of such an idea unfolding, I am critical of its historical legacy and warn against any stance which overly emphasis the possibilities of a socialism confined to either a single territory or a conglomeration of territories.

[5] The only scenario in which I could envision myself dismissing the comradeship of a fellow revolutionary is if they had made threats against my life. Thankfully no such remarks have been made against me by PCR-RCP supporters or members.

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.