Phoenix Class War Council's article taking on the Revolutionary Communist Party's cultish authoritarianism.
A constant for those of us in Arizona who have been in the streets since the passage of SB 1070, has been the troubling presence of political opportunists, or "the hacks" as we're now accustomed to calling them. A "31 Flavors" of Left-wing political groups, most of them looking to jump on the anti-SB 1070 band wagon as a means to get their name out there, recruit new members, and/or using the human rights disaster we face to raise funds to build their presence.
For months now, the Trotskyist sect, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), have shown up at pro-immigrant/anti-Arpaio demonstrations hawking their paper, "The Militant," and setting up a table to sell their books. Meanwhile, the ANSWER "coalition" has appeared overnight and called for a demonstration the day before the law goes into effect. As it's been documented over the years, ANSWER is a front for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a Leninist group that broke away from the Stalinist line of the Workers World Party a few years back. From where we stand, these groups, who parachute in with their own agenda, offer no answer from any of their party building, paper selling militants, or disingenuous front organizations for the crisis in Arizona.
With the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), there are plenty of opportunities for a well meaning person to get caught up in their web of front groups. Whether you're looking to fight police brutality, stop the U.S. military occupations abroad, free political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, or (perhaps their most bizarre attempt at recruiting through fronts) join the international supporters of the murderous Shining Path guerrillas in Peru, the RCP has it covered. The last time the RCP poked around the valley it was during the heyday of the anti-war movement and the birth of the immigrant rights movement, and they didn't stick around for long. A small group would attend demonstrations, in their World Can't Wait attire at anti-war marches, and as the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade at an immigrant rally, but were told off each time they surfaced by valley anarchists. As they were unable to intervene, or uninterested in the political situation in Phoenix four years ago, the RCP has returned to the valley, sans front group...sort of.
Paying homage to the 1964 Mississippi civil rights campaign, groups from across the state have called for a Freedom Summer in Arizona, a campaign of activism and awareness, most prominently reflected in the campaign organized by No More Deaths and Tierra Y Libertad down in Tucson. The Freedom Summer name has also been put into use by the aforementioned Workers World Party's Stalinist youth group "F.I.S.T.," who are calling for more of the same, a united front to combat the far right-wing, while their Maoist competitors at the RCP have their own ideas on what this summer should look like.
The RCP's "Arizona Freedom Summer" is a particularly unique brand of left intervention, because unlike the other Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist tendencies, the RCP's activists are building their organizing around one objective, promotion of their leader, Chairman Bob Avakian. In the call for "Arizona Freedom Summer" the authors(s) state:
Arizona Freedom Summer is about radically changing this whole dynamic, defying this whole direction, and setting new terms. "The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world… when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness… those days must be GONE. And they CAN be." (from "The Revolution We Need… The Leadership We Have," A Message and A Call from the RCP, USA)
Their "Freedom Summer" project is being treated as another opportunity to roll out the latest mass line from Avakian, this being one of two paragraphs in the article that outlines the type of organizing the RCP wants to bring to the table, the other is once again an opportunity to promote Avakian as the leadership the RCP thinks we all need. A selection from the second paragraph (below) embeds more of the Avakian worship within their otherwise banal political rhetoric:
There needs to be a broad and defiant resistance that refuses to comply with this law, and there need to be many thousands of people in the course of building this resistance finding out about the revolution we need and the leadership we have, coming to see that it is this system and the rulers of this country that are totally illegitimate and that another world is possible. (Emphasis added)
Let's not forget their fundraising either, one of the RCP organizers, who has moved into town, let it be known that they are planning on printing up one million copies of their new poster. What poster could be so important that they need one million copies? It's the latest bilingual statement from Avakian "The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have." Unbelievable. The grassroots groups on the ground have very little money, as in virtually none. We have comrades who are struggling to stay out of the clutches of the state, neighborhood projects that are entirely self-funded, community spaces for youth and indigenous people that struggle to keep the lights on, and indigenous initiatives against the border and destruction of traditional lands here in occupied O'odham land. It's outrageous that they can spend tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars on their latest piece of propaganda, while the projects I've listed, and many more, are fighting for survival.
The cult-like devotion to Avakian, should be of major concern to anyone swept up into one of the RCP's front groups, and it's a worthwhile exercise to call this out, but we at PCWC aren't interested in correcting their errors. As anarchists we're naturally opposed to their centralized leadership and promotion of the "mass line" of the Maoist organization, but this alone is not where we break with many of the Marxist, Leninist, and/or Maoist persuasion.
We believe that the radical possibilities of total liberation from authority are far more transformative and intoxicating than any steps to a revolution as prescribed by any so-called revolutionary chairman. Take their stance on Arizona as an example, one of their demands "No more troops! Demilitarize the border!", this is not only a conservative stance amongst revolutionaries, but it shows that once again the people are ahead of their revolutionary "leaders." The RCP, like many on the left, are afraid to state the obvious, that millions of people have already disregarded the legitimacy of the border line, they have to move across it every day, regardless of the law. Further more, by solely opposing the militarization of the borderlands they join in a colonial tradition that attacks the indigenous people of these occupied lands, as tribes are indeed separated by the border wall. By holding the legitimacy of the state over those of the individuals and communities struggling to preserve their ways of life, the RCP become de facto ideological enforcers of the border.
Their other slogan for their Arizona Freedom Summer is "We don't gotta show no stinkin' papers!", this slogan, if in fact reflective of their actual political stance, is similar to their call for a demilitarization of the border in that they do not call for an end to these movement controls. As anarchists, we do not hesitate to call for the complete abolition of all borders and identification papers, these are tools the authorities use to repress, genocide, and maintain power over people. We want to leave no ideological room for the defense of the state, something the RCP is unwilling to do, because in the end, like all statists, they recognize that they too will make use of the same apparatus of control. A world with out borders is a stateless world, one in which the walls of the rich and powerful have fallen, thus signaling an end to the movement of people for the extraction of the surplus value from their labor. So why is the RCP reluctant to advocate for such a vision, here and now?
As anti-capitalists and anti-authoritarians we say there is no better time than now!
We in PCWC believe in the potential of a revolution, one that can transform our day to day social affairs, as well as our relationships to power, and what that power means for all of us. The Revolutionary Communist Party, like all authoritarian left formations, offers none of these things, but more of the same: lifetimes of work, misery, and obedience (to the state, the party, the chairman, etc).
Originally posted: July 10, 2010 at fires never extinguished