Kasama This! or Boy the RCP is Wierd!

Over the past couple of days I’ve been reading Mike Ely’s “9 letters to our comrades.” It’s a long polemical response to Mike’s former comrades at the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). It’s real interesting stuff, not because it offers any new and amazing insights into the task of revolution and building a new society, but because its good entertainment. Before I get into it, let me give ya a short history lesson so you know the background, because without the background, it’s just no fun.

In 1969 Students for a Democratic Society, the group that personified 60s student radicalism, split at their national convention. The conventional history is that you had a split between the national office faction headed by the future Weathermen, and the cadre of the Progressive Labor Party. A whole lot of people were disgusted with both and walked off anyway. But we forget that the Weathermen faction wasn’t one faction, it was two different groups, united to defeat the PLP. The third faction was another Maoist group headed by student activist Bob Avakian. Bob’s group was all about the black panthers, Ho Chi Minh and National Liberation armies, but he didn’t want to start a terrorist campaign. So each group went their separate ways. Avakian’s people eventually turned into what we know as the RCP.

The RCP is absolutely devoted to Bob Avakian. Bob Avakian is their lord, savior, messiah and prophet. He is bringing communism “to new heights” in the world and the “cardinal question” for all serious revolutionaries is whether you’re behind him or in his path. I quote

Revolution in the U.S. is needed… and it can happen. The path, the road, to this has been pointed to, and it is being forged in practice, under Bob Avakian’s leadership…Extraordinary leaders like Bob Avakian are rare; they are precious to the advance of humanity; they must be cherished and defended.

Even if Bobby Boy was a competent revolutionary who had built a mass movement, this sort of personality worship is just fucking stupid. You can’t build a movement to liberate humanity from their rulers if you already deified your fearless leader. But Avakian is no god, he’s not competent, he’s not even half competent. He’s a dingbat. The man is the offspring of an Eisenhower appointee federal judge, and has lived in self imposed “exile” in France for almost 30 years. Why? Well he faced heavy jail time back in 81, he fled. All charges were dropped a year later, but Bob still thinks the bogeymen are all out to get him!

So in comes Mike Ely, one of the founders of the party, and he writes a nice clear critique of the deranged house of mirrors that resides within the RCP. And yet his polemic doesn’t make any real kind of break with Maoism, its just rehashed authoritarian nonsense. He states his support for Lenin claiming that “If Lenin had died in 1914, a communist revolution would not have taken place in 1917 Russia.” He has no trouble with revolutionary hero worship, just the kind of hero choosen. Mao figures prominently throughout all of the letters, posited as the legitimate communist compared to Avakian’s “deformed” Maoism. And that’s rather sad. People like Mike have been through the ringer, the RCP demands its cadre to avoid all forms of fun (drinking, smoking, drugs, sexual promiscuity etc. He comes out so battered and yet all he can do is grasp at Maoist straws. Its almost as sad as a telenovella.