-by Fahad Zaki
Big leaps backward
The RCP claims that its Chairman has advanced the ideology and politics of the proletariat to a new height. It alleges that Bob Avakian’s New Synthesis has correctly synthesised the experience of the International Communist Movement from Marx to Mao, and on this basis the party has been able to progress beyond Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Are these claims true? Is the New Synthesis a big leap forward?
Serious shortcomings in Marxist philosophy
As discussed in part 1, with serious shortcomings in Marxist philosophy, particularly on the question of Mao’s contribution, namely “the principal contradiction and the principal aspect of a contradiction”, the RCP has been “lost in a fog”. In fact, because of not grasping dialectical materialism thoroughly, the party has been unable to bring a new style of work to the working class and the masses in the US, a style of work which essentially entails combining theory with practice, integrating with the working class and the masses as well as practising self-criticism.
The RCP claims that it has advanced dialectical materialism, but the question arises: Should communists apply the methodology of Mao about the need to identify the principal contradiction out of the numerous secondary or non-principal contradictions and attempt to solve this principal contradiction first? This does not imply that other (non-principal) contradictions must be ignored or glassed over. Nor should the communists rule out the possibility of one of the non-principal (or secondary) contradictions intensifying rapidly enough to become the principal contradiction under some specific conditions.
Anyway, is there still validity in paying attention principally to identifying as well as solving the principal contradiction as Mao insisted throughout his political life? The RCP has been overwhelmingly silent on this question. In fact, the party has paid all its attention only on the fundamental contradiction of imperialism ignoring identification of the principal contradiction at each stage, and consequently has failed to grasp different political situations correctly.
In part 2, we discuss the RCP’s recent practice and theory on the struggles of oppressed nations and the fact that the party has ignored that the fundamental contradiction of a semi-feudal, semi-colonial society is not the same as that of a capitalist society.
A big leap backward
After the collapse of the Russian empire in 1989, Bush senior announced a new strategy called “A New World Order” and led a coalition to attack Iraq in 1991. In response, a powerful anti-war movement was built in the US and in many other countries in the world. During the eight years of Clinton’s presidency, the US ruling class carried out killer sanctions, divided of the country, enforced no fly zones and made continuous aerial bombardments to weaken the Iraqi nation.
In opposition, the anti-war movement continued to grow, and later on to some extent merged with the anti-globalisation movements as well as movements against destruction of the environment. During the period of 1989-2000, millions of people participated in these movements. However, without having a clear strategy, the RCP failed to analyse the role of different classes within these movements. Consequently, it was unable to develop correct tactics to unite the people who were targeting the US ruling class.
After the occupation of Afghanistan, it became abundantly clear that the US was preparing to occupy the oppressed country of Iraq. The growing momentum of the people’s opposition on a global scale, inter-imperialist rivalry, the shear arrogance of the George W Bush administration and the exposure of their lies as well as other factors caused the anti-war movement to take a big leap forward.
In fact, the anti-war movement spread all over the US and developed its numerous activities involving an unprecedented number of people. The biggest demonstrations in the history of some countries took place even before the US military invaded Iraq. Political activities against the US ruling class were at such a massive scale that in one day there were demonstrations in more than 300 cities all over the US.
In this highly favourable situation, the RCP was unable to analyse the situation correctly and identify the principal contradiction shaping the class struggle in the US. Consequently, it was unable to organise a considerable number of people from the millions of highly politicised workers and masses in the country. The RCP was also unable to win over some advanced sections within the anti war-movement, and unite with numerous organisations that could be united with against the US imperialist aggression.
2002-2003 was the height of the US preparation to attack and occupy Iraq, and this preparation created a peak of people’s resistance in the US and elsewhere. But was the RCP able to unite the people and build an effective movement against the US ruling class during 1989-2002 and during this climax? Evidently no.
Occupation and resistance
On 20 March 2003, the US military forces attacked the extremely weakened Iraqi nation to complete the final stage of the colonisation of Iraq. The US occupation of Iraq was against the people’s demand, and consequently caused further polarisation of the class struggle in the US. However, many factors, including grave weaknesses of the communists, deprived the working class and the masses of having a clear vision and hope. In addition to other factors, the absence of a correct political line caused demoralisation among many people who believed they could stop the war. But still people, particularly the more advanced sections, were pouring out into the streets in large numbers and some were even carrying out militant actions.
For many years, the objective conditions had become immensely favourable to develop radical mass based organisations against the US ruling class. However, the RCP did not analyse the contradiction between the US imperialism and the oppressed nation of Iraq correctly to support the latter, and therefore was unable to draw a clear anti-imperialist line within the anti-war movement. Despite many activities, the party was entangled with pragmatism and spontaneity, isolated from the masses tailing events.
Shortly after the occupation of Iraq, several armed resistance movements sprung up in many different areas of Iraq. Evidently, occupation divided the class struggle into two opposing camps. On the one hand, there was the pro-occupation camp led by the US, who devastated the whole country. And on the other, there was the anti-occupation camp which consisted of different class forces. Within the anti-occupation camp, the oppressed nation of Iraq was able to create many armed resistance groups.
However, the RCP did not apply the fundamental principle of “everything divides into two” to the new situation in Iraq. Instead of a concrete analysis of the concrete conditions, the party copied the notion of “Crusading McWorld vs. Reactionary Jihad”, from Benjamin R Barber’s book entitled “Jihad vs. McWorld” (Corgi Book, 2003) and applied it to the situation in Iraq. Thus, without grasping that the occupation has created its opposite, i.e., a mass based national resistance movement; it concluded that the imperialist occupiers and the anti-occupation forces were both reactionaries.
This political stance shows that the RCP has not grasped the fact that the resistance of an oppressed nation against the imperialist occupation has to be supported. Simply put, whatever the class composition of its forces, the resistance of the oppressed nation of Iraq is just and the occupation of Iraq is unjust. The question is: which side are on? Condemning both sides has created confusion for the masses and has deprived the Iraqi people of the support they need, to say the least.
The RCP stance also shows that it has not grasped one of the fundamental principles of the Marxist philosophy which states that “one must not treat all the contradictions in a process as being equal but must distinguish between the principal and the secondary contradictions, and pay special attention to grasping the principal one.” (Mao, On Contradiction, Selected Works, Vol.1, p.333, Emphases mine)
At this juncture, it was abundantly clear that the US had become the principal enemy of the Iraqi nation. And the resolution of contradiction between the two camps for the interest of the Iraqi people would only be through a war of national resistance against the imperialist occupiers. But the RCP did not identify that the principal contradiction shaping the politics of Iraq was the armed struggle between these two camps.
The party did not realise that US imperialism has become the principal aspect of the state power ruling Iraq, and therefore the main enemy of the Iraqi people. And the war of this oppressed nation against the US is a just war, and not a reactionary war.
Not believing in the masses
The RCP did not identify the US ruling class as the common enemy of the Iraqi people and the working class in the US. That’s one of the reasons why it could not mobilise the people to support the Iraqi nation and their righteous resistance. In fact, the RCP was compelled to turn its back on the struggle of this oppressed nation.
Despite many years of political activities and remaining extremely marginalised and isolated in the US, it is incomprehensible for the RCP that the Iraqi resistance could only rely on the support of the masses. For a party which believes that a few communists are makers of history, it is inconceivable that the masses could be the main force behind the development of a powerful resistance movement.
It was mainly due to the masses support that the resistance could sustain its armed struggle. The opponent has colossal fire power, massive resources, multiple intelligence services and international support. Through many twists and turns, the resistance movement in Iraq was able to push the occupying forces into a quagmire and discredit the US ruling class and expose its weaknesses.
The boundless creativity of the Iraqi people and their sacrifices against the occupiers has immensely damaged the US global strategic offensive, unilateralism and doctrine of the pre-emptive strike. In spite of a certain level of unity against occupiers, the resistance was unable to create a unified leadership. Indeed, strategically the Iraqi resistance needs a revolutionary leadership who could eventually develop the war of national resistance to a war of national liberation. But, this is the responsibility of the communists in Iraq and not the masses. Nevertheless, the RCP under the pretext of the lack of a “people’s pole” totally undermined the role of Iraqi resistance and the masses fighting against the US.
For nearly five years, the occupation of Iraq and the Iraqi people’s resistance shaped the politics of the day. Despite the lack of international support, the depth and breadth of damage nationally and internationally that the resistance of this oppressed nation has inflicted on the imperialist ruling classes of the US and Britain, militarily, politically and economically, is huge. Sustaining the war of national resistance seriously damaged the political ‘credibility’ of the leading factions of the ruling classes in both the US and Britain. Presumably, the resistance movement in Iraq largely contributed to the downfall of neo-cons and Tony Blair, and made George W Bush a “Lame Duck” president.
However, because of its static and one-sided view, the RCP cannot explain why arrogant imperialist phrases such as “cake walk”, “we will be welcomed by open arms” and “mission accomplished” turned into their opposites. Due to its incorrect understanding of the contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nation, the RCP cannot realise that at this juncture the Iraqi resistance movement represents the national interest of the oppressed people of Iraq. And also that the struggle of the Iraqi nation against US imperialism conforms to the interest of the oppressed peoples of the world, including the working class in the US.
Iraq is a semi-colonial country, and therefore independence and nationalism are the motive forces to struggle against imperialism. The objective reality of class struggle in occupied Iraq does not develop according to the flawed notion of “Crusading McWorld vs. Reactionary Jihad”, which totally ignores these two most important motive forces. In fact, not only the immense hatred of the US has accumulated since 1991, but also the aspiration of the masses for independence has been immensely boosted by the occupation. Nevertheless, the RCP rejects the transformation of the anti-imperialist and nationalist sentiment of the Iraqi masses into a material force, concluding that the Iraqi resistance is flawed.
A serious deviation
Basing it stance on the subjective notion of “Crusading McWorld vs. Reactionary Jihad” shows that the RCP is incapable of concrete analysis of the concrete conditions. More importantly, it is incapable of supporting people’s struggle in an oppressed country even when it is occupied by imperialist military forces.
The October revolution in 1917 linked socialist revolutions in the imperialist countries to the national liberation movements of the oppressed nations. The RCP’s stance is a serious deviation from Marxism and this principle of the International Communist Movement given by the October socialist revolution. Presumably, breaking such a link is one of the most important factors preventing the RCP to build mass based organisations against US aggression and the occupation of Iraq.
Hence the RCP failed to utilise this unprecedented opportunity. Furthermore, since the party has adopted the notion of “Crusading McWorld vs. Reactionary Jihad”, it has become incapable of supporting national resistance movements in other countries, particularly in the Middle East. Alas, class struggle has taken a big leap forward, but the RCP has taken a big leap backward.
Another big leap backward
Making revolution is the primary task
Turning ones back to the struggle of oppressed nations against imperialism has dire consequences. This deviation considerably contributed to the RCP’s abandonment of other people’s struggles, even where they have been able to build and develop a powerful revolutionary movement under the leadership of a genuine communist party. A stark example of this is the RCP’s stance against revolution in Nepal.
No revolutionary movement in history has been able to advance without a clear ideological-political line. The experience of many communist parties shows that ambiguity on the ideological-political line is the primary cause of failure to build a revolutionary movement. Indeed, class struggle in each country requires an in-depth analysis and identification of its particularities. However, it seems that the question of not grasping Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as a science has been the main factor obstructing communists to advance revolution during the last 33 years.
The basis on which the RCP turned its back to the just struggle of people against imperialism, is principally ideological. Dialectical materialism requires continuous defence, application and development, where the application is generally the principal. The application of dialectical materialism is not only the foundation of grasping Marxism, but also the source of its development. A correct understanding of the essence of class struggle depends on seeking the truth and integrating with the masses.
The primary task of communists is to apply dialectical materialism, to analyse concrete conditions, to seek the truth from facts, and to implement the mass line to transform and mobilise the masses. With this ideological orientation, communists are able to develop a correct political line, and through leaps, organise a revolutionary movement to defeat imperialism and establish people’s power.
When a revolution approaches its final stages of seizing countrywide political power, it faces either a complete victory or a severe setback. At this crucial juncture, the communist party prepares the masses and strives to achieve the maximum unity for the final leap. Moreover, imperialism unites all reactionary forces to smash this challenge. In the case of Nepal, the people under the leadership of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the reactionaries under the leadership of the US are preparing for the final confrontation.
Furthermore, to deal with the immensely complicated questions of seizing political power a major two-line struggle has developed within the UCPN(M). Instead of realising this fact and supporting the correct line, the RCP does not even recognise the existence of this major two-line struggle, let alone how much the destiny of revolution in Nepal depends on its outcome. This is not surprising at all. The RCP which evidently has not carried out any self-criticism, rectification campaign and major two-line struggle during the last three decades has shown that it believes the communist party should be monolithic.
Revolution cannot be copied, but developed
Revolution in one country always needs support from communists and the masses in other countries. Whatever their differences, communists need to principally support other revolutions and never deviate from the line of “Workers of all countries Unite!” This internationalist task increases when a revolution goes through the twists and turns of its final stages.
Today, revolution in Nepal has reached its final stage; however, the RCP does not proceed from a position of a fraternal party. In its polemics (available at www.rwor.org), the RCP categorises itself as a superior party and with total contempt teaches the ABCs of Marxism, treating the UCPN(M) as a minor party.
The UCPN(M) has successfully applied dialectical materialism to the concrete conditions in Nepal and built the most powerful revolutionary movement in the world. But the RCP argues that the UCPN(M) has a wrong understanding of the class struggle in Nepal. Why? Because, the UCPN(M) does not tail the “path-braking” work of Bob Avakian and his New Synthesis.
It is ironic that after 34 years, the RCP has not even been able to carry out a scientific class analysis of US society. And now this party behaves as if it is the world authority on class analysis. It claims that the UCPN(M) does not even know who the friends and enemies of the Nepalese people are. The RCP which has failed to nurture roots among the massive working class in the US views itself as a know-all and dictates to the UCPN(M) how to conduct the revolution in Nepal.
The RCP which has not been able to develop a clear strategy in the US cannot comprehend that on the basis of the concrete analyses of concrete conditions in Nepal and internationally, the UCPN(M) has developed a revolutionary strategy for the masses to seize power. Without having enough knowledge about the concrete conditions in Nepal, this party totally rejects all of the UCPN(M)’s revolutionary tactics. Without grasping the class struggle and progress of revolution in Nepal, this party misrepresents the UCPN(M)’s strategy.
The RCP’s criticism is based on book work and its own principles, which not only have failed but also have still not been synthesised. The RCP has failed to grasp that each revolution has its own particularities, that everything divides into two, that the principal contradiction should be identified at each stage, that major two-line struggles are essential and must involve the masses, that tactics must conform to the demands of the masses, and that the Party should not blindly follow previous successful models, because revolution cannot be copied, but must be developed.
Since 1976 the world has considerably changed and scientific analysis of class struggle in any country needs to include these changes. However, because the RCP proceeds from its subjective thought and not from dialectical materialism and the objective reality, it cannot recognise the major class contradictions in Nepal in order to identify the principal one. Consequently, it is unable to grasp the ways in which these principal contradictions have to be resolved.
The RCP has not been able to overcome its shortcomings to put revolutionary theory into practice. And now its theory has fundamentally become divorced from practice. According to the RCP’s conduct, theory does not develop through practice, but principally through further theory. With this kind of thought, there is a weak relation between knowledge and practice, between knowing and doing. According to them perceptual knowledge is not the main source of rational knowledge, and the perceptual stage of knowledge does not develop to the rational stage. Thus, correct ideas fall from the sky, or more precisely from the minds of geniuses, and revolutionary ideas develop by book worship and not through class struggle.
However, raising the people’s ideological-political consciousness and mobilising them in a revolutionary movement to seize power is not a linear process. In the oppressed countries this process develops primarily through People’s War. However, war transforms to peace and peace transforms to war, and that is how the People’s War in Nepal has developed.
In the case of Nepal, the RCP does not grasp that peace has been an inseparable aspect of developing the People’s War. Linear thinking obstructs the RCP from comprehending the fact that UCPN(M) through both war and peace has been able to increase its huge influence among the Nepalese people and advanced class struggle.
The mother of all unity
Until the last few years, the RCP openly supported some communist parties and peoples’ struggles around the world. The party was an important part of international campaigns to promote the People’s Wars in Peru and Nepal. It defended the life of the leader of the Communist Party of Peru, when he was captured by the state.
However, the most important internationalist task of a communist party is to build a powerful revolutionary movement and lead the working class and the masses to seize power in the country where they are. This is the principal aspect of their contribution to the world proletarian revolution. Also, and as the secondary aspect, other people’s struggles, particularly the ones which are under communist leadership, must be supported.
A communist party is a part of the whole International Communist Movement, and therefore should treat all other communist organisations as equal, fraternally and as a contingent of the international proletariat. Imperialism operates globally, uniting the forces against social progress by neutralising and smashing the people’s struggles. Thus, uniting working class and the masses internationally is an inseparable aspect of developing a successful revolutionary movement in one country.
International unity against imperialism is the mother of all unities. Achieving such a unity urges communists to struggle and unite at higher levels. Struggles among communists need to be healthy, democratic, bold and aboveboard. In this way the international proletariat can find new ideas and methods to defeat imperialism and its lackeys. Ideological unity for communists is the key to struggle for the interest of the masses.
However the RCP believes that it is the vanguard of and above the whole International Communist Movement. Thus, all communists have to follow the RCP without even dividing it into two. If others do not conform to the ‘vital’ work of Bob Avakian, they would definitely be on the wrong side. With this kind of thought, the RCP’s criticism of others, including the UCPN(M), is biased. Unity-struggle-unity should be the principle; however, the RCP’s method of struggling with the UCPN(M) is not only not based on unity, but also does not seek unity. Therefore, it is divisive and seriously damaging the unity of the International Communist Movement.
Breaking the path
The RCP claims that Bob Avakian’s New Synthesis has developed “a whole new way of approaching human emancipation.” But more than 80 percent of the people in the world live in the oppressed countries, where they are subjugated by imperialism, principally the US. The vast majority of people’s struggles around the world are not under communist leadership, but their struggle is just and needs support. Instead of rejecting nearly all struggles which do not conform to the line of the RCP, it is essential that this party back these struggles whatever their shape or form. And on this basis criticise their shortcomings.
However, the RCP has turned its back on the just struggles of people in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, etc. Furthermore, it has turned its back on revolution in Nepal which is led by communists. Hence, regarding the people’s struggles in the oppressed countries, Bob Avakian’s New Synthesis is not “path breaking”, but in fact is breaking the Marxist path.
From its very beginning the RCP has had a problem to thoroughly base itself on the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, which is the synthesis of the most correct and most revolutionary scientific thought of the international proletariat. If this party had been able to grasp and integrate the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism with the concrete conditions in the US, class struggle in the country would have taken on an entirely new complexion.
Moreover, if the RCP had been able to build a powerful revolutionary movement in the US, an entire historical stage of socialist revolution could have emerged internationally. However, because of not rectifying its thoughts and actions, the RCP has moved further away from supporting the struggles of the people in the world, particularly in the oppressed countries.