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Canadian Bacon -- Maoist Reformism in the Great White North May 31, 2004 by RedStar2000


Bourgeois elections are at the very heart of reformism; no matter what a group offers in the way of "revolutionary" rhetoric, you need to watch closely how they behave as the "holy day" approaches.

When they start "speaking in tongues" -- babbling about the bourgeois "Election Spectacular"-- then, you know what you are really dealing with.

And who to stay away from as much as you can.


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quote:

The main objective of CPC(M-L) and especially for the youth is empowering people. We call it Investing Sovereignty.


How does casting a meaningless vote in a meaningless "election" "empower people"?

And while your choice of "brand name" is a "good one" by bourgeois political standards -- that is, an essentially meaningless platitude that sounds as if it might actually mean something -- what is it really in the political "cola wars" but NoName Cola?

quote:

The way to do this is by engaging people in the process through various means. One of those means is making sure you're registered to vote, and going out to cast your ballot...We also believe that they can come to understand how our current system works by being a part of it, such as becoming volunteer staff at the polls. We especially encourage this for the youth.


What have you taught them to "understand" other than the mechanics of how bourgeois "elections" are conducted in Canada?

Don't they have "voter handbooks" there that explain all that crap? To anyone that cares.

quote:

Understanding requires an act of conscious participation of the individual, an act of finding out. In other words, understanding, or becoming conscious, is an experience.


No it doesn't "require" any such thing; that's absurd.

Personal experience can be a useful teacher. But the lessons are often unclear and occasionally completely misleading.

The real advantage of all human culture is that we can learn from the experiences of others...we don't have to re-invent the wheel over and over again.

What this quotation really means, in this context, is that people must vote in bourgeois elections over and over again until they "finally conclude" that voting is "hopeless" and revolution is the only way forward.

And, "just to make sure" that everyone learns this valuable lesson, the "Marxist"-Leninists of Canada will run candidates..."proving" that even the "best" still can't accomplish anything.

quote:

Being part of the bourgeois elections is an experience. Talking to the various candidates is an experience. Helping a candidate is an experience. Running as a candidate - whether for a party or as an independent - is an especially significant experience. Through all of these mediums you will most definitely become more aware of how the system works --- the good and the bad parts of it.


Or you could read a couple of books...or even a daily newspaper.

But what about that "good part" of how the system works?

quote:

We [communists] also understand the necessity for fighting for reforms, not for the system, but for the people who must live under the system.


We are "warm-hearted" people who "really care" -- unlike all those bastards who just say that.

quote:

Fighting for electoral reform, for instance, shows the people that you genuinely do care about the democratic rights of the people.


Keeping up appearances, eh?

As if "democratic rights" is a meaningful phrase in the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie!

quote:

Our election platform is one of Democratic Renewal.


Another platitude that sounds as if it might actually mean something.

How can you "renew" something that never existed?

quote:

The people are reduced to a voting cattle, to be herded in and out every 4-5 years, with no right to recall the 4-5 year dictator.


Would it make a difference if you could recall him once a week?

Pay attention: the capitalist class has state power in Canada; they do not and will never put it "up for grabs" in one of their ceremonial "elections"!

To even hint that anything else is possible is lying.

quote:

We need community councils - or Soviets - to be the places where people actually engage in politics. This is empowerment. This is Sovereignty.


If that is what you want, then why aren't you fighting for that?

Do you think that if you tell people that, they "won't understand"?

Do you imagine that the people, seeing the spectacle of your group hustling votes like any other party, will take your "vision" of what "we need" seriously?

Why should they? They can see by your deeds what is really important to you...finding a plush seat for your butt in Ottawa.

quote:

We must insure that our industries flourish, and we have to stop the selling out [of] our resources.


Which rather strongly implies concessions to private industry and a "price floor" for natural resources.

I'm afraid such attempts to gain a favorable notice from your bourgeoisie are probably in vain...they already have three capitalist parties there, right? Do they really need a fourth?

quote:

Civil society is in contempt of its own notion of civil rights when it treats the poor as potential criminals, the unemployed as redundant, the youth as an "attitude problem", women as "fair game", and so on. This is the hiatus which prevails in Canadian society.


This is an unusual use of the word "hiatus" -- she means it, presumably, in the sense of "a missing piece".

It's "polspeak" (politician-speak), of course, where you begin by speaking plain truth and end with a foggy and semi-coherent platitude.

quote:

To take up these problems as something which are possible to solve - some through revolutionary and some through "reformist" means - is to take up nation-building. It is to battle against the nation-wreckers.


Communists are, of course, nation-wreckers...and they are even proud of being so.

Whoever these people are, they are not communists.

quote:

Reformism is not always anti-revolutionary...


At least not when we want to do it!?

quote:

Reformism becomes an obstacle when mixed with opportunism, that is the deadly poison mix.


Reformism is opportunistic!

The reformists say to the capitalists, "give us some concessions and we'll keep people quiet and submissive to the system".

The capitalists respond "Deal!" or "No Deal!"

Is there really anything more "to it" than that?

quote:

Sometimes it is difficult to see, the nation-wrecking bourgeoisie is good at covering up for themselves, their lap-dog politicians, and the system which is inherently flawed.


Do you hear those faint strains of O Canada in the background?

quote:

People are uniting together now more than ever and taking up the cause of Nation Building through sovereignty, democratic renewal, and social justice.


People are rolling on the floor, laughing their asses off.

Seriously, this kind of rhetoric could be excused in a backward country trying to make a modern bourgeois revolution. I'm sure Chavez, for example, says these kinds of things all the time in Venezuela.

For a so-called "communist" party in an advanced capitalist country to indulge in this sort of mindless patriotic babble is utterly reprehensible.

And I seem to recall that Canada has occupation troops stationed in Afghanistan. If my memory is correct, that makes it even worse!
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First posted at Che-Lives on May 28, 2004
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quote:

Redstar, I'd respect what you're saying if you were doing something besides talking. Talk is cheap man--don't sit there and criticize someone who is at least doing something positive. You think votes are meaningless and elections are meaningless--so what are you doing to change anything? Have you taken up arms and joined the revolution? I don't think so--so don't be ignorant.


As I understand your argument, you think it's better to do something stupid than it is to do "nothing".

Because that's what dicking around with bourgeois elections really is...stupid!

It's not "doing something positive", it's totally wasting your time and energy.

It's also lying to people...that anything worth a damn will ever result from the bourgeois electoral charade.

In effect, the ruling class is playing you for a sucker!

You want to do something "positive", try this...

Demonstrate Against Fake Elections!

Although this proposal was written in an American context, it is equally applicable to any advanced capitalist country.

The realistic options at the present time are (1) cheerleading bourgeois "democracy" in one way or another; or (2) Advocating or engaging in real resistance to bourgeois hegemony...in whatever forms that resistance may presently take (anti-war, anti-globalization, wildcat strikes, etc.).

The second option is the real communist option.
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First posted at Che-Lives on May 28, 2004
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quote:

If you have any experience working in communities, you know just how alienated people are. Especially the youth. One of the avenues that they do view as their means of participation is the elections.


This is not very clear, but you seem to be suggesting that kids "want" to participate in electoral politics and your group is "giving them the chance" to do so.

That sounds quite implausible to me, but suppose it were actually true.

What message are you sending?

"Hey kids, electoral politics is fun and it really works!"

Or "Hey kids, electoral politics is really fun...even though it doesn't actually work!"

Does this make any rational sense?

quote:

The elections are a venue for community participation. It builds relations between the party and the masses. It is a means of organizing.


Yes, those things will happen. But the "venue" and "means" you have chosen produces, if successful, a very particular "relation".

It is a relationship characterized by activity of the "party" and passivity of the "masses".

The "party" is very "busy"; the "masses" hear the message and respond by voting.

What you are really doing, whether you realize it or not, is telling people that the road to significant change is one of "finding and supporting the right leaders".

It is, again whether you realize it or not, the old seductive message of all class societies...the search for "the good king".

In my view and that of Marx as well, it is only when the class itself shakes off that search for the mythological "good king" and takes initiative and power into its own collective hands that anything worthwhile takes place. Such historical evidence that we have, fragmentary though it is, supports that view!

quote:

They are interested in what goes on and how things work, and the way to find out the flaws of the system is to experience and examine all aspects of it, i.e. the various contradictions (more dialectics).


In other words, they are unable to read and comprehend even a simple leaflet on the subject.

Well, perhaps a leaflet wouldn't be sufficient...there are mysterious "contradictions" in bourgeois electoral politics. In place of my straightforward (you would say "mechanical") condemnation of bourgeois "elections" as a total fraud, you would seemingly substitute a more "sophisticated" dialectical analysis.

Meaning that sometimes, in some ways, they're not a fraud?

Another astounding assertion.

quote:

Are you trying to say that the experiences of others are always more reliable than our own? That is a complete contradiction (i.e. if we can't be sure our own experiences are clear, then how can someone be sure that anyone's is clear?)


Obviously we each weigh in our own minds both our own experiences and the experiences of others.

But there are far more "others" with far vaster experiences than what one person can learn in a single lifetime from personal experience.

If 100 people leap from a cliff and 99 of them die while only one survives, are you really inclined to put the matter to "a personal test"?

The preponderance of historical experience shows what happens when you leap from cliffs.

It also shows what happens when you dick around with bourgeois electoral politics...and the results ain't pretty.

After the experience of German Social Democracy 1891-1914 (which I read about), I don't need to "do it myself".

However, if this is too "ancient" for you to want to deal with, consider what has happened with the modern German Green Party over the last three decades or so.

They were going to be "different" and "better"...and they are now a bunch of corrupt bastards just like all the rest.

If your strategy actually worked -- if you did elect a bunch of MPs -- guess what would happen to you?

Since I am capable of learning from history, I don't have to guess; I know!

quote:

What he wrote was the need for people to become conscious participants in change. The way to do that is to first know and understand what needs to be changed...by understanding society, and so on, etc....again dialectics, in this case largely through empiricism.


You are simply repeating what I said using different words (with the obligatory nod to "dialectics").

You are arguing that unless people personally participate in electoral politics that they will never learn that it is a fraud.

Or, people can't learn "except" through personal experience.

Thus, even though you know that bourgeois elections are a fraud, you will encourage the masses to personally participate in them so that they will learn from personal experience that, yes, bourgeois elections are indeed a fraud.

The only way you can do this, of course, is to lie! You must pretend that bourgeois elections "are not a fraud" in order to get the masses to participate in them.

Is it necessary for me to remind you that any strategy based on lying to the masses, even when it's "for their own good", is highly probable to end in catastrophe for you...when the lie is exposed?

quote:

Revolutionary politics, especially the way you are presenting them are surreal to the working class.


We live in a period of reaction...historically, periods of reaction alternate with periods of revolutionary ferment and even insurrection.

In periods of reaction, communist ideas do indeed seem "surreal" to the vast majority of the working class; although, even then, there are always incidents of class struggle and proto-resistance to the ruling class.

The task of communists in the present era is to search out and speak to those "pockets of resistance"...to them, communist ideas may not seem so "surreal" or at least less "surreal".

What we need now are not seats in parliament or candidates for office; we need more real communists. And they will most likely be found only where there is already resistance of some kind going on...some struggle where people are already learning the limits of bourgeois "democracy" first-hand.

Paradoxically, the people who are doing the best job of this are anarchists. Their active participation in the anti-globalization and anti-war movements in North America and Europe has both radicalized those movements (including a small but growing number of workers) and radicalized themselves in the direction of proletarian revolution.

Objectively, it's "not all that much" at this point. But it's there and it's clearly growing.

Whether these movements can grow to the point where they spark a general resistance and an end to the present period of reaction is still problematical.

But they've already achieved far more in terms of reaching the masses than all the forms of "left" parliamentary cretinism have managed in the last three decades!

There are grounds for hope.

quote:

Those who are political...tend to have very cynical views. They distrust all who are involved in politics.


With good reason, wouldn't you say?

quote:

You have to gain the trust, interest, and respect of the masses before you can expect them to read your paper; let alone pick up a gun and die for you.


I'll settle for interest...the rest is not only of no consequence but is actually harmful.

I don't wish for anyone to "trust me", much less "die for me". I would much prefer that people learn to trust themselves...and to not even consider putting their lives at risk unless they were determined to liberate themselves from wage-slavery.

If someone were to "trust me" (or you) enough to die for me, what would stop me from becoming a despot?

Good intentions?

quote:

There are some good things about the Canadian state, though not many; and most are superficial. It's not all black and white.


Good looking flag? Really "cool" parliament building? CBC News?

quote:

All movements gain influence, recruit, and build by effecting change. I challenge you to show me one significant movement that has built anything by doing nothing.


By "change" here, I presume you mean reforms enacted prior to the revolution.

If so, then all of revolutionary history testifies against you.

Neither the Bolsheviks nor the Mensheviks nor the anarchists of pre-revolutionary Russia enacted any reforms; nor did Mao's party; nor did Tito's party; nor did Castro's 26th of July Movement; etc., etc., etc.

Aside from the Bolsheviks themselves, has there been any successful revolutionary party in history that even bothered with whatever electoral ceremonies happened to be in place at the time?

And the Bolshevik experience is very instructive...for those with eyes to see. The leader of their delegation to the Duma was an agent of the Czarist secret police!

The choice is always the same, and it's not the clichιd "reform vs. revolution" (because only the masses can decide if revolution is to be made). For real communists, it's reform vs. resistance!

Those who resist the capitalist hegemony, even in "small" ways, even in "non-political" ways, are, knowingly or not, laying the foundations of proletarian revolution.

Where else should real communists be, if not with them?

quote:

[Bourgeois] democracy is in fact a very new form of democracy, and much more fair to the people than feudalism.


Yes, it was a "progressive improvement" over feudalism.

So what?

The transition from feudalism to capitalism is "ancient history" for us. It's not as if we found ourselves defending bourgeois "democracy" against "the party of the aristocrats". Their day is gone forever.

What is on the agenda now (speaking in terms of our epoch) is the transition from bourgeois "democracy" to real proletarian democracy...where the masses themselves have decision-making power. The bourgeois state-apparatus and its electoral ceremonies are nothing but an obstacle to this transition and, in fact, must be utterly demolished and its personnel dispersed.

Those were the words of wisdom of both Marx and Bakunin in 1871.

They were both right!

quote:

The elections are a small part of the work we do.


The smaller, the better.

quote:

I don't know Redstar, how many people take YOU seriously?


Very few. *sighs*

quote:

For me the elections are a way for me to further my work. It opens the door for me to introduce Marxism-Leninism to people, not just for the building of our party, but for the building of the several other organizations I am involved with, the building of a movement.


That's what everybody says who takes this approach.

For all I know, the German Social Democrats were saying it back in 1900!

Perhaps it originates in an unconscious assumption: that bourgeois electoral politics are "real" and all the stuff that lefties do is only "semi-real" at best.

After all, if the bourgeois media gives you more coverage if you play at electoral politics, then somehow you are "more real" in your own eyes...and even the eyes of people you talk to.

But it's still a sucker's game. If you actually started to succeed (won seats), then you'd become corrupt. If you never won any seats, then the media and the people would lose interest after a while.

quote:

Your ultra-leftism is defeatist and isolationist. You should read about the mass line.


Funny you should bring that up; I have just been reading about it. According to Mao, it works like this:

1. The party cadre go to the masses and inquires as to the masses' experiences, needs, and desires.

2. The party leadership then meets and "sums up" what they've gathered from the masses into a "line". This line then becomes official government policy -- laws and regulations are enacted to enforce it and penalties are created for those who violate it.

3. After the new line has been enforced for a period of time (determined by the party leadership), the party cadre then return to the masses and inquire once more: "how are things going?".

A party without state power can only punish its own members, of course, for violating the line.

A party with state power can punish the masses or a portion thereof.

Mao's party did that...most notably in the great famine of the early 1960s.

quote:

We are not nation-wreckers, we are nation builders; we are internationalists. At the same time we are bourgeois-state smashers; border smashers.



The appeal of "dialectics". You can say two completely opposite things at the same time...and sincerely believe that you are speaking the truth.

The mind boggles!

quote:

Well, who is the authority on who the Communists are? Ultra-Leftist imitation Marxists like yourself?


Yep. We are self-appointed "truth in advertising" consultants to the entire left.

It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

quote:

Why do you think reforms are an obstacle to revolution?


Short answer:

1. They consume time and energy better devoted to more productive tasks.

2. They send a false message to the masses...that capitalism is "fixable".

3. They corrupt those that pursue them.

Communists should leave reforms to the real reformists. We have different priorities and our energies should go exclusively to those priorities.

quote:

But when we, and other organizations such as OCAP, fight for the rights of the people, it is not out of opportunism but out of necessity.


"Rights" are a bourgeois fiction; the masses have no "rights" in capitalist societies.

What they do occasionally win, as a result of mass struggle, are temporary concessions...grants from the bourgeoisie that the bourgeoisie reserves the (real) right to withdraw.

The "right" (concession) of workers to form trade unions and go on strike, for example, is something that has been granted and withdrawn and re-granted on a number of occasions in the history of western capitalism.

To the extent that masses of people struggle for reforms in a vigorous and largely self-directed fashion, I think communists should energetically participate...and raise even more radical perspectives within those movements.

But typically that's not the case, as you know. Most reformist organizations are run by professional bureaucracies with little or no input from the masses at all...except a vote now and then.

It is far better (more communist) to instigate a wildcat strike than to be elected head bureaucrat of your local.

quote:

Or maybe we should all just sit back and constantly criticise and agitate other leftists, like your standard Trot (or someone like you)!


Another flying armchair at Redstar2000! He gracefully sidesteps as it crashes into the wall! *laughs*

quote:

OR an even better idea: let's all vote for the most reactionary party possible to create horrid conditions for the masses in order to create consciousness!


You still miss the point. Whether you vote or not and whoever you vote for will make no difference. The capitalist class will create "horrid conditions for the masses" all by itself.

And consciousness will grow.

Voting one way or another gives you the illusion that you are "doing something".

But you're not.

quote:

In your ultra-leftist view, we should all be walking around shouting dogmas and acting sectarian like the Sparts (or on the internet).


That's an evasion...and I think you know that.

Let's review what you wrote...

quote:

People are uniting together now more than ever and taking up the cause of Nation Building through sovereignty, democratic renewal, and social justice.


And my response...

quote:

For a so-called "communist" party in an advanced capitalist country to indulge in this sort of mindless patriotic babble is utterly reprehensible.


Given what you have written and assuming it's part of your "mass line", why is it "sectarian" of me to call it what it is -- mindless patriotic babble?

quote:

Those are the types of slogans you use to build support in the early stages of revolution.


Indeed you do...in the early stages of a bourgeois revolution.

"Land! Peace! Bread!" was a call by the Bolsheviks to carry the bourgeois revolution through to the end.

Do you wish to suggest that Canada has not yet completed its bourgeois revolution?
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First posted at Che-Lives on May 29, 2004
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