The Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People

What is Proletarian Feminism?

This is the first of a series of notes that will be relatively short, and by no means exhaustive, but are put forth as both a summation and intervention of the theoretical and practical context of gender liberation in general and proletarian feminist struggle in the particular, both within the context of the United States, and the global context – taking on the particularities of gender formation, as well the universal aspects of patriarchy.

Adavasi women with the Indian Maoists.

Adavasi women with the Indian Maoists.

Let us take opportunity in the annual remembrance on the International Working Women’s Day to raise a necessary definition in the ongoing development towards a Proletarian Feminist conception of gender liberation.

First, a necessary comment: while we do not mention trans women as separate subjects, when we say women in this article, we are including trans women as the issues we touch upon are common to all proletarian women, whether trans or cis, and while we recognize that cis women and trans women have differences, for example cis women and reproductive health choices, and trans women’s exclusion from women’s spaces or lack of access to hormones – we understand these differences as within the umbrella of women, as the subjects of oppression by patriarchy. We also recognize that the struggle against patriarchy is not solely a women’s issue, or a sexual or gender issue, and that gender is not a binary, nor is sex free of social and cultural construction. However, we will address this in subsequent notes and a series on Queer Maoism that has been almost two years in the making. Non-men, people who are neither women nor men, but still suffer patriarchal oppression, and thus for the purpose of this discussion are treated the same as women – both cis and trans – however, we want to keep the discussion centered on feminism as an expression of women’s politics whether cis or trans, not genderqueer struggle – which includes besides trans women and non-binary people, men, like trans men, whose experience of patriarchy is different from that of cis or trans women, and which has its own separate history from feminism, even if indeed proletarian feminism is queer struggle. This article has a narrower focus, but we feel these overlaps needed addressing for the sake of clarity and to make clear that we speak firmly for trans and genderqueer inclusion in feminism, and that trans women are women.

Proletarian feminism: more than just proletarian and feminist together

Proletarian feminism is the theoretical and practical development of the struggle against patriarchy from the perspective of the proletariat and revolutionary communist politics. Continue reading

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Classes and Class Struggle

Short Answer to a Question on Productive and Non-Productive Labor

Dock Workers
A comrade (A.M.) in an online forum asked:

Do transportation and retail labor add value to a commodity? If so, why?

My inclination is to say yes, but I can’t really explain why.

We need to understand that “productive” in terms of the abstracted model of Capital is not a moralistic or political proposition. It is a mathematical one. Productive labor is the one that according to the formulas in Capital, adds quantitatively to value. Retail is unproductive in these formulas because it doesn’t quantitatively add anything to the variables for value. It is beyond the scope of this short answer to go into a long discussion and exegesis of Capital (although the comments are open) but let’s try to briefly discuss assuming a reading of Capital.

The social relation to the commodity in retail work has no capacity to add value as understood in Capital. More so, it also speaks to the levels of alienation from production, something that is subjective and not easily expressed mathematically, but does affect the necessary description of value as a mathematical formula. Continue reading

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Guest, Study

Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is Our Shining Path for World Revolution

The following is a brief exposition of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and is part of a larger theoretical work outlining Marxist-Leninist-Maoist philosophy in the United States. It was compiled by Maosoleum Guest Writer Neftali, the author of “Notes on Mass Line, Communist Organization, and Revolution”, On Marxist Philosophy. and The Materialist Conception of History. Views here are thus those of Neftali, and do not necessarily represent the entire views of the writers of Maosoleum. If you would like to have a dialogue with the author on this piece please address Neftali in the comments below. NOTE: The section “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is Our Shining Path for World Revolution” skips over two entire sections on Capital and the proletariat which the author still has in rough form.
-Stradacero

 

Marxism-Leninism-Maoism [MLM] is the banner of world revolution today, it is our guiding light which has synthesized past proletarian revolutionary experience in relation to guiding proletarian universal science of historical materialism. It is the most correct universal and scientific approach to making revolution. The banner of MLM marks three significant points of rupture and continuity in the practice of proletarian revolution in its scientific mode, they correspondingly adopt the name of significant figures which represent through merit of both theoretical elaboration and political work were able to capture essential features of the class struggle at their moments and raised the universal features to light for us. It takes upon itself in sequential order of history Marx, Lenin, and Mao. Each phase which took upon it new universal significance also took upon itself both a continuity and a rupture, hence Marxism transformed to Marxism-Leninism which correspondingly transformed to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. They are at this stage in the course of development of revolutionary science and in relationship to the whole course of development and experience of proletarian revolution inseparable and packed as the meaningful name which is in essence the political line of world revolution.


ON MARXISM

"Marx and Engels are able to produce the most thoroughgoing radical critique of bourgeois political economy still in our possession and, moreover, give to the whole of the working class movement the ammunition to sink the bourgeois ideology that mystifies economy."

“Marx and Engels are able to produce the most thoroughgoing radical critique of bourgeois political economy still in our possession and, moreover, give to the whole of the working class movement the ammunition to sink the bourgeois ideology that mystifies economy.”


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Guest, Political Work

For a Revolutionary Proletarian Character to Student Work

As promised in our “Oppose Blog Worship“, we will publish (or republish) interesting and relevant contributions from readers and friends of Maosoleum. The views here are, thus, those of Neftali, and do not necessarily represent the views of Maosoleum. This article originally circulated among Neftali’s friends more than a year and half ago, and we are publishing upon his request in the context of the struggles developing at the City University of New York.

by Neftali, Guest post

(no contact information, so please leave comments or contact us, if you want to engage him.)

A General Orientation to Our Question

annisur-nepal-revolution-hope-maoist-students[1]

One of the hollower of phrases today in our movement, so deceptive it is treacherous to the people, is the demand of “student power” within a “student movement.” True revolutionary forces must expose such a reactionary slogan within the context of our struggle. It has in practice only led to the domination of one class over another within the movement(s) connected to higher education. Its particular manifestations we see incarnate in various student organizations from the most reform oriented to even the most radically minded. These student organizations tie themselves to their “movement” in such a way as to never truthfully peer out from the high walls or exit their gates to see the general condition of the people. They call for strikes and occupations solely on the basis of the identity of students and their supposed power and with no real true attentiveness to the condition of the proletarian masses around them.

What is the meaning of “student struggle” when the location of students are transitional to the general economy? Those speaking about “student struggle” and “student power” are in essence only class aspiring petty-bourgeoisie among us. The work conducted among students must be conducted in relation to general struggle of proletarian masses. A struggle around debts and tuition solely is the struggle for the petty-bourgeoisie on the backs of the broad oppressed and exploited people of the world, a struggle which opens the university, transforms its relationship to the people, transforms the relationship of the teacher and the student, which transforms the basic content of the education for the purposes of revolution is the only true struggle for the masses.

Let us break this down to all its atoms – we live fundamentally within the coordinates of imperialism, of world capitalism dominated by the parasitical sector of finance capital. In its concreteness of our actually existing predicament, this appears in the manifestation of the neo-liberal regime (the fusion of state power and capital under capital) with hegemony under US Empire (a settler-colonial, white supremacist state of North America). The internal class dynamics of the US Empire are principally between socialized labor and capital, the basis for socialist revolution. However because of the character of such a country within the world coordinates of production (as world police and benefactor for imperialism, and as a white supremacist, white-settler country) this fundamental contradiction has never been always principled in the democratic revolutionary struggle of the masses. Elements of labor have been co-opted into the imperialist system and racist pogroms and national oppression of national minorities within the country have produced a historically deformed class structure. However generally speaking within what is a deformed class structure produced from imperialism and national oppression, the class alignment of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie are still fundamental with wavering unstable classes in this mix.

This is a simplified class analysis of the United States for the purposes of orienting our understanding of the struggle of the students. We must begin generally with understanding the student in their particular mode as a student, as an abstraction. The student, is as we said, a transitional subject whose mode of practice revolves fundamentally around the skilling of their labor for utility within the capitalist mode of production, either directly within production, within reproduction, or management of these tasks. Their identity, therefore, is transitional and is bound towards having a definite relationship to the mode of production which can only be clear when looking concretely among the students themselves.

We do not deny the vast majority of students are bound to join the labor force as waged workers. But as skilled waged workers among the middle and upper sections of the working class. This is for certain the fate of many students attending public universities, community colleges, technical schools, and the lower rate universities that are merely scams upon the people in reality. There are also at the same time not an insignificant minority of students who are being skilled as managers of capital, as part of the ideological and repressive state apparatus or directly within the production scheme itself. There also plenty of more students (whether bound to wage-work or not) are fundamentally bound to an entirety of their life in unstable quarters as wage-workers, petty-bourgeois hustlers of the dignified sort, and possible future managers within the system.

The student is from the standpoint of the proletariat not much different from any other petty-bourgeois aspiring elements within society or among our class. The student looks for community only among other class striving elements to encourage their own prospects of embedding themselves within the system, the student is in many instances ideologically deluded by the prospects of bourgeois right, but fail to take notice of how they will mostly be under the peonage of finance capital. Many fail to notice how proletarianization is a fact among even the most skilled of labor, how they have become a part of a deeper pool of labor of their own skills. Continue reading

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People's War, Repost

The Attack on Muñiz Air Base: On the Question of Armed Struggle in Puerto Rico | NYC en Lucha

Interesting criticism of armed adventurism and revisionist militarism in the context of the Puerto Rican struggle for independence:

But revolutionary struggle is not about the war between the “armed vanguard” and imperialism. It is about developing a people’s war, for which it is not enough to struggle for an organization with larger military capabilities, but also one must ensure that it is the very people who develop the war. We are not suggesting that all or most of the people have to take revolutionary consciousness so that then we can develop armed actions against imperialism.

No, what we propose is that in all stages of the process, revolutionary armed actions undertaken must be placed in context and correspond to the level of consciousness and struggle of the working class and the people so that the armed struggle can play the specific role it deserves in each stage. At the stage in the strategic defense of the revolutionary movement and of the strength the enemy, like the one currently in PR, the armed struggle must assume a secondary role subordinate to the task of organizing the mass struggle. In a [future] era of strategic offensive of the revolutionary movement, where military confrontation is the order of the day, the armed struggle can and must come to the fore as a guarantee of the triumph of the revolution.

Revolutionary War has its laws, which must be observed by the revolutionaries. At each stage the laws of war assume a specific character under the conditions that define each stage. Ignoring this rule of thumb is about putting the subjective factors over material reality, it is to want to run a war from a subjective point of view only. All of which leads usually to a militaristic conception, whose political consequences can be disastrous.

Full text here:
The Attack on Muñiz Air Base: On the Question of Armed Struggle in Puerto Rico | NYC en Lucha
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Classes and Class Struggle

Brief Note on the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the USA’s Government Shutdown

8200027083_57086b1664_o_d[1]So once again the legislature of the United States of America (USA) has locked out the governmental functions they find non-essential as part of their own political plays. I will not go over the details of this, as it can be found in nearly every news source on the internet. I will however briefly address some of the issues this shutdown lays bare and how they relate to the perspective on the dictatorship of the proletariat:

  1. It shows the government and State as distinct – one is a way to organize society, the other is a way to control this organization.
  2. It shows that the government is expendable to the State in times of crisis, or if the political will of a section of the government is of that persuasion.
  3. This precarious existence of the government, is matched by a ruling class consensus on the need for stability of the State.
  4. It show the limits of reformist politics as a way to effect actual structural change – the seizing of government is in the final analysis irrelevant unless the State is also seized.
  5. The State is in the context of the USA is a bourgeois class dictatorship, which means no structural transformation is possible without seizing the State, and that the government is ultimately beholden to the State.

One of the fundamental confusions one sees in the commentary around this shutdown is that of the State and government. The two often overlap, but they are not the same – and this shutdown illustrates sharply their differences.

Simply put, almost all the functions of the government have been shutdown, and almost all the functions of the State remain functioning.

This shows – clearly – the dictatorship of the bourgeois class in action: all of those functions of government the bourgeois has elected to implement as part of their democratic consensus and as a response to the struggles of the people have been shutdown, but those functions that are fundamental for the continuance of the class dictatorship (and its property relations) continue to function pretty much as normal.

The best illustration of this phenomena is the bipartisan law passed to ensure that military personnel and military functions remain fully funded and that all salaries are paid. Another is the continuance of tax collection, entitlement payment, and other outlays not related to the functioning of government on the part of State. Even services that might be understood as being part of government – such as food inspections – remain in function, but these are actually part of the role the State plays as guarantor of the class peace: without such arbitration, the bourgeois order would collapse as it needs it as part of the capitalist property relations.

This difference has very concrete consequences for the pursuit of revolutionary politics. We posit, sharply, that one of the fundamental problems of the left and the proletarian class revolutionary movement is too much preoccupation with the matters of government, and not enough preoccupation with the matters of the State. This is not to say that government is without importance – to say so would be ridiculous – but it is to say the relationship that should be viewed as dialectical, with the the State as the primary dynamic force in the relationship.

We all need government, even under communism: government is the way infrastructure gets built and maintained, it is how disputes are resolved (generally) in socially constructive ways, it is how we process collectively the issues of health, education, safety, and security. Even the most technologically simple human societies have some form of government.  The State, on the other hand is no necessary in the final instance: it is an expression of class dictatorship, in which one class directs government to its own ends, and utilizes repression and a monopoly on violence to do so. Now, we are not anarchists – we do not believe the State can be overthrown in one day, but we are historical materialists, and thus understand that for the State to be eliminated, the proletariat must seize it and establish its own class dictatorship.

What this shutdown shows, very clearly, is the limits placed upon government in the democratic-bourgeois State, and thus the necessity of this overthrow of the bourgeois dictatorship and its replacement . In this case, a law that benefits one camp of the bourgeois (the medical insurance industry), causes the shutdown of all government functions. This law is not a progressive law, and while it might have a palliative effect on the severe lack of affordable health care in the USA, it is far from something any socialist could support. Yet this very capitalist, very neo-liberal, law cause such a stir in the halls of government that it leads to it being shutdown.

Now, imagine if instead of Obamacare were an actual reform of the health care system. Something still moderate, but structurally significant, like a single-payer system. What would have been the response then?

This is a clear illustration of the very real limits of reformism as posit by many forces in the left. Somehow, they seem to think, the issue is a lack of votes: yet here we have a shutdown over a law that was approved by a majority of congress. If such a mild transformation of little structural effect meets with such destructive and disruptive opposition, what would be the response to a real reform of structural consequence? Definitely at least as harsh, most probably much harsher – including the actual disruption of the State functions. And there are plenty of examples, including in the history of the USA itself, of this happening – so it is not idle, abstract speculation to say so. A classic example, however, is the Allende government in Chile, which was overthrown violently by the organs of the State, in spite of being the constitutionally defined government. Those who think this scenario is impossible in the USA, need to heed the historical lesson: the Allende government suffered several shutdowns as a prelude to its overthrown, and then faced a coup attempt that was put down by Pinochet himself! A government shutdown is nearly always a show of strength on the part of the most reactionary sections of the State against its less reactionary sections. Of course, in the USA, these contradictions are much less sharp – Obama is a neo-liberal, Allende was a socialist – but the structural analogy lies in the possibility of a socialist or even a progressive coming to governmental power in the USA. If a neo-liberal faces such fierce opposition, what would a socialist or a progressive face?

The government shutting down shows very clearly the precarious position that those political forces that claim that government, and not the State, are the primary means of social transformation. The precarious existence is precisely why we need revolutionary politics: revolution is the only way the State – not government – can be seized.  The only real government shutdown we can support and feel happy about is when we shutdown the bourgeois government and a people’s government emerges under the dictatorship of the proletariat.  This doesn’t mean, of course, that the path is this easy, that we should stop doing politics until then – but we also have a responsibility to talk about and expose the structure of capitalism and this crisis provides us with a perfect opportunity to do so.

This is of course a brief note, and the topic is indeed a complex one, but lets not make this complexity obscure what is indeed simple: the need for proletarian dictatorship, and the need for a people’s government as a path towards the full emancipation of humanity from class and the State.

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Study

Full pamphlet: El Líder de la desesperación – Juan Antonio Corretjer

We are making available in Spanish, the text of the political summation by Juan Antonio Corretjer of Puerto Rican Nationalist Party leader and revolutionary Pedro Albizu Campos. We hope to be able to translate this text sooner or later, but in the meantime, Spanish readers can take advantage of this.  Please click here to view: El Líder de la desesperación – Juan Antonio Corretjer (The Leader of Desperation)

Clemente Soto Velez, Juan Antonio Corretjer, and Pedro Albizu Campos, at the time when Corretjer was a leader in the Nationalist Party.

Clemente Soto Velez, Juan Antonio Corretjer, and Pedro Albizu Campos, at the time when Corretjer was a leader in the Nationalist Party.

This document – published in the early 1970s (a few years after Albizu’s death), as a result of a series of lectures Corretjer gave on the topic, is still one of the best communist summations of Albizu, as well as being a communist critique of the limitations of the Nationalist perspective for the liberation of Puerto Rico. Juan Antonio Corretjer was uniquely placed to make this critique: he was for many years the Secretary General of the Nationalist Party, and his organic break with the Nationalists happened as he served a 10 year jail sentence as part of his work in that position. Thus, he had been second only to Albizu in being instrumental in developing that Party from a debate club for middle class nationalists, into one of the defining political organizations of the middle of the 20th century Puerto Rico, and the initiator in the 20th century of the Puerto Rican revolutionary movement.

Corretjer does a masterful synthesis of both the need for revolution (as expressed by the Nationalist Party) and the need for this revolution to be proletarian in nature (as advocated by Puerto Rican communists). His correct analysis of the class basis – petty bourgeois and bourgeois – of the Nationalist Party as part of its ultimate failure – which titles the text, referring to the desperation of the middle and upper class nationalists – still remains a powerful deviation in the context of the Puerto Rican revolutionary movement, even among forces that were led by Corretjer and his followers. (A good criticism of this failure of line, from a 1982 document by the Movimiento Socialista de Trabajadores, translated from Spanish, is available here: The Attack on Muñiz Air Base: On the Question of Armed Struggle in Puerto Rico).  As analysis, this text is a foundational basis for the communist criticism of Puerto Rican Nationalism, and thus essential reading for North American Maoists and communists, for whom the struggle for the liberation of Puerto Rico – as one of the few remaining open colonies in the world – should be a central component of their struggle against imperialism in general, and US imperialism in the specific – and who contains among its ranks some of the most advanced elements of the diaspora and Puerto Rican heritage proletariat in the United States.

Corretjer’s closing argument, which we translate here, holds true today, as it did then:

“Albizu remains a great teacher as he, by his actions as well a omissions, laid out the basis of the revolutionary path for Puerto Rico. We should look at his experience in the direction of  where he pointed, and at the same time, rectify the errors of the reformist, counter-revolutionary, and anti-proletarian “workers movement” in Puerto Rico; substituting Albizu’s revolutionary nationalist ideas for the communist ideas of [Irish revoltionary James] Connolly and of [Russian revolutionary V.I.] Lenin. In doing so, we shall organize the forces of the liberation movement not from outside of the proletariat, but from inside the proletariat itself.”

Corretjer in full uniform giving a speech, a few years after writing this text.

Corretjer in full uniform giving a speech, a few years after writing this text.

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Political Work

Market Socialism is Anti-Communism

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Those who call themselves Marxist can be as diverse in thinking as the many thousands of Christian denominations in this World. Somewhere along these lines one is bound to come across the word “Market Socialism“. Market Socialists tend to believe that the Nordic Countries and Titoite Yugoslavia have “proved socialism worked”(whatever this means) and for some of them that post-Mao China still(!) serves as a healthy socialist society. How one defines “work” is an entirely  different matter but for argument’s sake let us suppose the person also calls themselves a Communist. That this person desires a classless and stateless society and see’s socialism as a transitional stage for this. In other words they are in agreement with a Dictatorship of the Proletariat. But what is this?

Etienne Balibar, in his work On the Dictatorship of the Proletariat poses that very question:
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