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"Red-Baiting," Anarchists and Ant-Leninism

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circleamatt
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Feb 17 2008 22:42
"Red-Baiting," Anarchists and Ant-Leninism

OK, so I don't know what it's like in other countries, but in the US radical milieu, you basically can't criticize the behavior of Marxist-Leninist groups without being called a red-baiter. Even some of the better ML groups (relatively speaking) throw it around so much that you'd think McCarthy had risen from the grave and was eating big fat Marxist brains.

I, for one, simply cannot wrap my mind around the issue to write an adequately thorough rejection of the use of that term against anarchists. There are just some things that are such bullshit that all one can do is take out one's red IWW card, point to it, and say, "LOOK! RED!" So what I need is a reference to some piece of writing that somebody else has written that I can throw in these peoples' faces. Otherwise, I'm going to have to try to write something myself, which may cause my head to explode.

Thanks.

Feighnt
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Feb 19 2008 04:16

i dont have any papers or such, but something interesting you might want to point out to them which i read in Paul Avrich's "The Haymarket Tragedy": USA's first red-baiting period (late 1800's, before McCarthy) was largely DIRECTED AT Anarchists. and, hence, we got Haymarket.

but if a Leninist is stupid enough to call an Anarchist a red-baiter, i doubt any reasoned argument would have much effect. angry

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Feb 19 2008 08:30

I don't think that Marxist-Leninism exists in western countries in any noticeable form outside of the US.
Devrim

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Devrim
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Feb 19 2008 14:55

GDIS, Marxist-Leninism is generally used to refer to Maoism. Are there big Maoist groups in Ireland, or the UK, or in any Western countries?
Devrim

ftony
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Feb 19 2008 15:13

there's a couple of maoist groups in the UK, but no, nothing of any particular significance. i think CPB-ML is the biggest.

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Feb 19 2008 15:14

I found this lot selling in my town a few months ago

http://www.cpgb-ml.org/

Apparently Belarus was defending workers' interests. Good for them, eh?

Read more like a classic Stalinist rag to me, although the real differences between Stalinism and Maoism have always been a bit lost on me.

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Feb 19 2008 19:39

Read more like a classic Stalinist rag to me, although the real differences between Stalinism and Maoism have always been a bit lost on me.

All Maoists are Stalinists, though not all Stalinists are Maoists. Maoists are opposed to Kruschevite revisionism which turned the USSR into state monopoly capitalism in 1956. But China also became revisionist when the true Maoists were overthrown by pro-capitalist elements after Mao's death. After that the flame of revolutionary communism passed to Enver Hoxha in the Socialist Republic of Albania.

I hope this is clearer now.

Caiman del Barrio
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Feb 19 2008 19:44
guydebordisdead wrote:
Devrim wrote:
I don't think that Marxist-Leninism exists in western countries in any noticeable form outside of the US.

Happy days.

Caiman del Barrio
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Feb 19 2008 19:45

If I was younger, born in a Third World jungle with a fetish for uniforms and cults I'd reckon I'd be a Maoist.

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Feb 19 2008 20:12

I imagine the original poster was using "Marxist-Leninist" to encompass all leninists, as the trots are pretty quick to shout "red-baiting" as well.

Devrim aren't there a lot of turkish maoists in Germany?

Alf good explanation btw.

IrrationallyAngry
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Feb 19 2008 22:02
Devrim wrote:
GDIS, Marxist-Leninism is generally used to refer to Maoism. Are there big Maoist groups in Ireland, or the UK, or in any Western countries?
Devrim

More precisely, "Anti-Revisionist" groups, including but not limited to Maoists, describe themselves using that term. In US terms it covers pretty much those groups that might also have been called the "New Communist Movement". It essentially covers those Stalinists who, as Alf notes, opposed the "revisionism" of Khruschev and the other post-Stalin leaders of the USSR. They are generally harder line, most ostensibly revolutionary than the mainstream Moscow-line Stalinists.

All Maoists (and Hoxhaites) are Anti-Revisionists and all Anti-Revisionists are Stalinists, but not all Stalinists are Anti-Revisionists and not all Anti-Revisionists are Maoists. Hoxhaites and groups which might be called ultra-Stalinists would also use the term Marxist-Leninist.

As for big ML groups, there are a few left in the developed world. The US has the RCP, which is one of the larger revolutionary sects there, as well as two smaller groups calling themselves the Freedom Road Socialist Organisation and a few grouplets. Belgium's largest far left group is the PTB which was an Anti-Revisionist party but now seems to be trying to reorganise the harder line remnants of Stalinism around the world, irrespective of the line they took in the Mao/Hoxha/Moscow rows of previous decades.

In Sweden one of the three large far left groups is ML (although I can't remember what brand) and in Scandinavia generally those sort of groups still have a presence. Some of them, particularly the larger ones, have been softening their politics over recent years - the Norwegian AKP, the largest far left group there, has just liquidated itself into a new broad socialist party called Rodt (Red). That seems to be a general pattern for the more succesful surviving ML groups - the Dutch SP, now the third largest party in the country was originally a Maoist group.

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Feb 20 2008 01:09

Please, I beg you libcom, don't make me write the damn thing myself.

Yes, Maoists scream 'red-baiting' quite a bit, but so do the Trots. I haven't noticed any one group doing it more than others.

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Feb 20 2008 08:32

We should rename this thread, "the taxonomy of Maoism".

So the main difference between Stalinism and Maoism seems to be a disagreement about imperialist orientation i.e. "peaceful coexistence"?

Black Badger
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Feb 20 2008 13:24

There's also a distinction between the two on the issue of the Revolutionary Subject; Maoists focus on peasants, while traditional Stalinists focus on the industrial proletariat. Maoists also heavily promote the strategy of guerrilla-type insurrection against the capitalists (represented by the cops and the army). Some of the older folks may remember border skirmishes between the Soviets and the Chinese in the '60s, which were Revisionists fighting Marxist-Leninists. These weren't just disputes on where the international borders should/might be.

magnifico
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Feb 20 2008 13:35
circleamatt wrote:
Please, I beg you libcom, don't make me write the damn thing myself.

Yes, Maoists scream 'red-baiting' quite a bit, but so do the Trots. I haven't noticed any one group doing it more than others.

why do you want to talk to these bellends anyway?

if you insist on wasting precious minutes of your life in this way then i'd have thought the best stuff you could use would just be things about why you are actually 'baiting' them, stuff about the crimes of the bolsheviks, stalin, mao etc are fairly readily available here and elsewhere

gurrier
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Feb 20 2008 13:48

In my experience, the only time I've come across the accusation of 'red-baiting' is when somebody tries to point out that such and such a campaign is actually a front for such and such a leninist outfit. Any attempt to point out that the people who are presenting themselves as random attendees at a meeting, who all happen to be pushing the same line are actually all members of a particular party, will be met with outraged accusations of red-baiting. In Ireland the SWP use it all the time when they are called on their 'hidden hand' manipulations.

Unfortunately, you don't have a choice of whether to deal with this or not - it normally crops up in broad campaign groups.

It's actually pretty tricky to deal with - since to the casual observer who doesn't realise that the various speakers are all members of a political party acting in a coordinated and cynical way, attempts to point it out can often look like red-baiting. Furthermore, such disputes are incredibly unattractive to non-aligned folks and they are quickly turned off a campaign if they think it is dominated by squabbling sects.

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Feb 20 2008 13:51
Quote:
In Sweden one of the three large far left groups is ML (although I can't remember what brand) and in Scandinavia generally those sort of groups still have a presence. Some of them, particularly the larger ones, have been softening their politics over recent years - the Norwegian AKP, the largest far left group there, has just liquidated itself into a new broad socialist party called Rodt (Red). That seems to be a general pattern for the more succesful surviving ML groups - the Dutch SP, now the third largest party in the country was originally a Maoist group.

Yep, AKP (Arbeidernes Kommunist Parti - Workers' Communist Party) were pretty influential back in the 70s and has left an imprint on the collective Norwegian psyche. They were all about China and Albania. Although they have liquidated themselves there remains a fairly strong Maoist influence in Rødt. Their uncritical support for the Nepali Maoists is pretty strong indication that Maoism in Norway is still alive. Since the 70s they've been tiny but has still managed to attract young recruits (even previous anarchists!!).

edited repetitons

magnifico
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Feb 20 2008 13:51

ah yes i can see how that could happen, i guess i'm quite lucky none of them are big enough where i live to pull that sort of thing off

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Feb 20 2008 20:29
Black Badger wrote:
There's also a distinction between the two on the issue of the Revolutionary Subject; Maoists focus on peasants, while traditional Stalinists focus on the industrial proletariat. Maoists also heavily promote the strategy of guerrilla-type insurrection against the capitalists (represented by the cops and the army). Some of the older folks may remember border skirmishes between the Soviets and the Chinese in the '60s, which were Revisionists fighting Marxist-Leninists. These weren't just disputes on where the international borders should/might be.

"Radio Yerevan reports that Chinese soldiers disquised as farmers opened fire on a peaceful Soviet tractor on the border. The tractor then returned fire and flew away." - One of my favorite Radio Yerevan jokes.

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Feb 21 2008 01:19
gurrier wrote:
In my experience, the only time I've come across the accusation of 'red-baiting' is when somebody tries to point out that such and such a campaign is actually a front for such and such a leninist outfit. Any attempt to point out that the people who are presenting themselves as random attendees at a meeting, who all happen to be pushing the same line are actually all members of a particular party, will be met with outraged accusations of red-baiting. In Ireland the SWP use it all the time when they are called on their 'hidden hand' manipulations.

Unfortunately, you don't have a choice of whether to deal with this or not - it normally crops up in broad campaign groups.

It's actually pretty tricky to deal with - since to the casual observer who doesn't realise that the various speakers are all members of a political party acting in a coordinated and cynical way, attempts to point it out can often look like red-baiting. Furthermore, such disputes are incredibly unattractive to non-aligned folks and they are quickly turned off a campaign if they think it is dominated by squabbling sects.

Exactly. Therein lies my dilemma. It is utterly maddening, and the worst part is that I'm sure they get great joy from the fact that they get away with such bullshit with such ease.

gurrier
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Feb 21 2008 01:52
circleamatt wrote:
Exactly. Therein lies my dilemma. It is utterly maddening, and the worst part is that I'm sure they get great joy from the fact that they get away with such bullshit with such ease.

The only thing I can suggest is to say, alongside your exposure "now whenever I've pointed out such cynicism before, I've been accused of red-baiting. I would like to point out that I am an anarchist-communist and this is well know to the members of this party, so please can we try to deal honestly with the problem and not raise that particular red-herring" or something similar.

Feighnt
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Feb 21 2008 11:52

not precisely sure how it might be done, but perhaps try to introduce an idea right at the start - make a proposal that, before someone first speaks they must announce what party/organization they're in, if any? if it could be done, it might pre-empt them.

lumpnboy
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Feb 21 2008 13:21
Feighnt wrote:
not precisely sure how it might be done, but perhaps try to introduce an idea right at the start - make a proposal that, before someone first speaks they must announce what party/organization they're in, if any? if it could be done, it might pre-empt them.

Um, if people are being so sensitive about perceived/defensively asserted red-baiting, this proposal might indeed seem a bit are-you-now-or-have-you-ever-been. On advice of counsel I decline to answer.

IrrationallyAngry
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Feb 21 2008 16:54
gurrier wrote:
The only thing I can suggest is to say, alongside your exposure "now whenever I've pointed out such cynicism before, I've been accused of red-baiting. I would like to point out that I am an anarchist-communist and this is well know to the members of this party, so please can we try to deal honestly with the problem and not raise that particular red-herring" or something similar.

Some of the SWP's stunts along these lines used to drive me up the wall. What they habitually do is dishonest, but they can rely on the rest of us to let them away with their behaviour because most other groups and activists are too responsible to casually sink a campaign meeting into what will appear to any inexperienced people present to be pointless sectarian bickering.

The best way to deal with it is to pick your battles. Standing up at a meeting and giving out about how lots of the people speaking are all secretly members of the SWP isn't a worthwhile thing to do, no matter what carefully chosen phrase you preface it with. Keep your powder dry and raise it only when they try to choose delegates, elect positions, pick platform speakers or whatever and then raise it in a way which concentrates on the need for the body concerned to be representative and balanced rather than on what a pack of dishonest bastards the SWP are. It's hard to argue against that and it seems reasonable to new people too.

Outside of that, one on one conversations with new activists work better than attempts to "intervene" into meetings. You can get a lot further if you gently take the piss out of the SWP's dishonesty by pointing it out to someone than if you rant at a group and give them the chance to indulge in their typical demagoguery in response.

Black Flag
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Feb 21 2008 17:28

If anything is red-baiting it's leninist-fascists locking socialists up and shooting them and anarchists being shot by chavistas and the Cuban stalinist leadership wiping out the libertarian movement.

Eastern Barbarian
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Feb 21 2008 21:48

I dont know why you bother what MLnists will shout at you? Best way is to ignore them and do your work. Their ideology had been defeated and all those groupings are completely insignificant (apart from few places like Kurdistan, Nepal, Turkey where it might be a different story)

zarathustra
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Feb 21 2008 22:46
Black Flag wrote:
If anything is red-baiting it's leninist-fascists locking socialists up and shooting them and anarchists being shot by chavistas and the Cuban stalinist leadership wiping out the libertarian movement.

Damn straight!

I've been following a particular train of thought (originating somewhere between Wilhelm Reich and Georges Sorel) that lefties are more dangerous to the working class than the ruling class, the State and fascists combined. I mean, if you accept that the working class can easily defeat, in an out and out power struggle, both the ruling class, State and sundry reactionary thugs -- what is the greatest threat? Subversion. Confusion. Politiking. Insidious counter-revolution. Look at the situation in Portugal in the 70s -- the ruling class and State were swept away, but the lefties undermined and destroyed the movement. Same with Spain and Russia, to a lesser degree.

Even the seemingly innocent Trotskyites are a threat, because they are subverters of working class action. (as the British anti-war movement showed). The most dangerous enemies are those who wish you well, or seem the most friendly.

C.S. Lewis wrote:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
zarathustra
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Feb 21 2008 22:48
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
Standing up at a meeting and giving out about how lots of the people speaking are all secretly members of the SWP isn't a worthwhile thing to do, no matter what carefully chosen phrase you preface it with.

I think I'd rather just "have a little word with them" after the meeting, or something.

gurrier
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Feb 22 2008 00:10
zarathustra wrote:
I've been following a particular train of thought (originating somewhere between Wilhelm Reich and Georges Sorel) that lefties are more dangerous to the working class than the ruling class, the State and fascists combined. I mean, if you accept that the working class can easily defeat, in an out and out power struggle, both the ruling class, State and sundry reactionary thugs -- what is the greatest threat? Subversion. Confusion. Politiking. Insidious counter-revolution. Look at the situation in Portugal in the 70s -- the ruling class and State were swept away, but the lefties undermined and destroyed the movement. Same with Spain and Russia, to a lesser degree.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, it's a really, really stupid train of thought. The left has collapsed. There are virtually no communists or trots left in much of the world anymore. You may not have noticed, but it doesn't lead to glorious revolutions.

C.S. Lewis wrote:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

If you want to follow the advice of one of the 20th centuries most enthusiastic christian apologists, you can listen to Lewis.