Revolution #274, July 8, 2012
From a Prisoner:
Thoughts on “What Humanity Needs…”
I just wanted to write and share a few thoughts about “What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism”—the interview that BA had given A. Brooks earlier this year. I haven’t finished reading the whole thing yet, but the 83 pages (out of 119) which I’ve read so far, is on point to say the least. Now… although I haven’t read all of the interviews and speeches BA has ever given, I’ve read enough of his works to at least say, that it stands at the top of my list. Like BAsics, it really captures what the essence of the struggle is all about from many different directions and in a way apprehenable not only to the seasoned communist, but also for those new to BA’s new synthesis of communism. That’s a rare attribute for any leader to possess, and this interview certainly captures that throughout the entire dialogue. I definitely recommend all those inside prison and out to check it out, and make it an integral part of our effort to build a movement for Revolution. It will certainly contribute to that. I have no doubt about that.
There were many parts of this interview, however, that really stood out to me specifically—like the subsection later headed (to break down the interview by topics) “The Importance of Line… and of Polemics.” The essence of what BA was getting at in this part is captured by the following quote, in which he said:
“Lines, and contention between opposing lines, are not just some sort of sectarian squabbles—and they should not be reduced to sectarian squabbles, let alone to personal vendettas or personal grievances, but should be focused on the question of how do you go about understanding the world, what do you understand about the world, and what does that lead you to believe needs to be done. If things are joined on that level, and people are enabled to see what the differences are, and where the one and the other leads, then that provides a much richer basis for people who are serious—who really feel compelled to understand the world, and further to change it—to actually be able to sift through these things and come to a better understanding. Not all on their own, but through people engaging this with them and going through the process together with them of sorting this out and sifting through it.” (p. 15, 16)
This is a very significant observation to make since there’s really two different ways in approaching opposing lines—one being in a principled way and another being in an unprincipled manner.
The fact of the matter is that we all come with a particular world outlook and method of approach to reality, no matter if we’re conscious of this or not. Those who are, often develop “lines” of various sorts which are concentrations of those world outlooks and method of approaches, which are subsequently applied to reality in the form of policies, plans, objectives, programs, and strategies. Depending upon how well a particular line reflects a certain aspect of reality with all of its contradictory facets, will determine just how effective that particular line will be in meeting its objectives. Since not all political lines are “created equal”—meaning not all of them are capable of getting at the essence of the matter at hand—there will always be varying degrees of understanding and effectiveness between any two political lines. And that’s why, that, and that alone, should be the primary focus of our disagreements with those who come with differing political lines than us. This is the point BA was getting at and I absolutely agree.
One of the biggest weaknesses of the radical left throughout the 60’s and 70’s, was that this wasn’t the primary focus of many political organizations, which in effect, weakened and divided the left as a whole and enabled the government to take advantage of that. Instead of focusing on the correctness or incorrectness of a person or an organization’s political line, many were inclined to take personal jabs at that person or the organization’s leaders, as if that in and of itself determined the correctness or incorrectness of their line.
Well… I agree 100% with BA. I think we should leave the petty superficial personal shit the bourgeoisie and their representatives—where raising “birther issues” and erroneously insinuating a person is a Muslim (read: not like us) rather than a Christian is an acceptable way to replace substance with diversion, and in many cases, outright distortions just to acquire votes by appealing to backward sectors of the general public, who tend to be ultra–right wing fundamentalist Christians.
This too, however, is a world outlook and method of approach in American bourgeois politics, tends to emphasize consequences and results in any applied policy, program, plan, objective, and strategy over and above principles and categories of reality, in other words, reality and truth are secondary concerns, and not always primary ones to the pragmatist. That explains why a bourgeois politician can outright deny the validity of global warming, despite all the scientific evidence to the contrary, since for the pragmatic politician, his/or her primary concern is often maintaining those contributions from the oil and gas industries. If he/or she has a little more “depth” to their pragmatism, then they may equally fear the economic consequences that their political recognition of global warming being an actual fact will have on an economy which is absolutely dependent upon fossil fuels.
As for the radical left, however—who’s supposed to be more committed to the truth than the bourgeoisie and their representatives—we must act the part not only in theory, but also in practice, especially when we’re confronting and debating our opposing political lines amongst each other. This also goes for how we should approach all opposing lines, too—not just those of the radical left. If not, we might as well join the Republican or Democratic Party, because that’s whose interest we’re actually serving whenever we reduce ourselves to the same tactics of “dialogue“ and “debate” which they love to unprincipally engage in.
There are many other points he raised throughout this interview that really stood out to me, but to name another one in particular involved his analogy of “Poor Mr. Wakefield,” which he took from Marx’s Capital (pages 73-79). I really dug this part of the interview because it poignantly captures in a concentrated sense the function, role, and importance of the economic base.
He makes the point—which is very revealing about the nature of the superstructure from its infancy to its full maturation—that in the beginning in the U.S.—just like in Australia when colonialism was just taking root there in the 1800’s—it was a whole lot easier for blacks to evade the dictates of the economic system of chattel slavery. For example, BA highlights how some Blacks escaped slavery by fleeing their plantations and joining the Seminole tribes down in Florida. That was largely because chattel slavery in its infancy had a weaker superstructure then—meaning its laws, politics, values, ideology and the institutions that embodied those things weren’t well developed and entrenched. Because of this, the later policy of mass genocide against the Native American nations throughout all of continental North America (particularly the lower 48 modern day states) had to be postponed until the superstructure developed sufficiently enough to remove this alternative from its slave population. Yet as time went on and the superstructure of slavery matured, this increasingly changed as legal precedents enshrining chattel slavery into law became more entrenched and established, the court systems which were relied upon to legitimize those economic relations between masters and slaves became more widespread and functionable, along with the various institutions created to enforce those laws and economic relations also became more capable, genocidal, and expansionist. Moreover, an equally important shift in the superstructure was also strengthened and expanded, and that was the white supremacist values and views which were institutionalized in both religious and non-religious institutions. This had the effect of creating a white supremacist form of solidarity amongst the slave owning ruling class and lower class whites, therefore, dominating the Black population of slaves more thoroughly not only on the individual plantations themselves, but more importantly, throughout all of American society at large. By the 1850’s the South’s superstructure was by then so well-developed, that many slaves only saw their “freedom” in relation to escaping to an entirely different country (Canada), or more likely, in reaching “an after-life,” that didn’t actually exist. The same occurred in the North, and later came to represent all 50 states as capitalism-imperialism became the new entrenched economic base of the country. Likewise, the maturation of the superstructure—again through its laws, its court system, police forces, prisons, religious institutions, and non-religious institutions—all “grew-up” directly or indirectly around the capitalist economic base not only to perpetuate the economic relations between the bourgeoisie and proletariat, but also to establish the overall economic system on a firmer basis—becoming something like a “virtual fence,” that the general public increasingly comes to view as Marx would say “a permanent necessity of existing conditions”—or in other words, a reality they had no power to change. BA didn’t exactly explain it like this, but what I took away from his “Poor Mr. Wakefield” analogy, though—along with what I already knew about history as it relates to this—is that the “belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions” (BAsics 3:4), which has the effect of making people feel trapped within the perimeters of the system, has a history in itself, and it’s all rooted materially in the maturation and expansion of the superstructure in relation to its economic base. In its infancy, it generally has a weak hold over its subjugated population, as it did with Black slaves who escaped their enslavement by fleeing and joining those Seminole tribes in Florida, for example. Yet once the superstructure developed and became entrenched, so did the subjugated population’s “belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions” also became entrenched and established in their thinking. By people being able to take away this level of understanding from BA’s usage of the “Poor Mr. Wakefield” analogy, I think it enables the masses to better understand why it’s only with the destruction of these various institutions of the current capitalist superstructure, and its subsequent replacement by new revolutionary institutions of our own making, that we can ever put an end to all these “virtual fences” and material forces which keeps us subjugated, exploited, and oppressed in ACTUAL FACT. I believe this particular analogy really begins to put a more scientific analysis on the nature of this system, and illustrates why we say Revolution—particularly Communist Revolution—is the only real alternative way forward.
Overall, as I’ve said, I’ve been really enjoying reading this interview. It touches on a wide range of complex subjects in a very understandable form—which got me to thinking, it might be a good idea for the party to compile a few “Basic-type” of interviews and speeches of BA’s into a single book. If BAsics is the Party’s attempt to introduce people to BA’s new synthesis of communism and his leadership on a very basic level, then maybe a compilation of a few of his speeches and interviews into a single volume could serve to raise that basic understanding up just a little more. Just some food for thought.
Well… I’m going to bring this letter to a close, but I hope everybody after reading this interview walks away knowing what humanity really needs, and that’s communist revolution and the new synthesis of it in order to make such a revolution possible. Again, it’s the only real alternative we truly have today.
In Solidarity, XXXXXXXXXXX
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