Opinion: The Proof Is in the Practice

By Ed Dalton

In the absence of a Communist Party—and such are the conditions in the US—there are going to be scores of relatively small, rival groups. It would be fairly silly to assume these could cooperate or get along under the most common circumstances. This situation leaves new activists, and newer students of revolutionary theory at practice, in a difficult bind. Whom to support, where to join up, what to do, etc. can be confounding questions, leading to being bombarded with many contradictory answers. This article is intended to shine some light on the matter.

First and foremost, revolution is not a decentralized, individual affair; the Great October Socialist Revolution, the first durable and lasting workers’ revolution in the world, proved many things, including the fact that revolution must be centrally led, with united action. So, it is critical that we remember this and do not just shop around indefinitely for a group whose views fully align with our own individual views, but find that organization whose views, and especially whose practical activity, align most with the conditions in which they operate.

Tribune of the People has devoted itself to supporting the organizations and movements around the world which in our view do just that—that is, respond correctly in their capacity to the conditions they operate in. This is worth diving into.

Opposing Trends

Recently Tribune was the target of an individual calling himself “Comrade Toussaint,” who is a writer for People’s Voice News (PVN). Although it has been over a month since Tribune has published a response to their gossip in great detail, the staff at PVN have not defended their position politically. Instead they found the time to launch another attack against the theoretical website Struggle Sessions over their disagreement, with the latter rejecting the term “proletarian feminism.” Unsurprisingly, this attack based itself on the imagined identities of the authors at Struggle Sessions, and did not actually defend the term from any rational point of view. PVN did not bother to engage with the content of the article, with whether it was true or not, etc.

While we can be sure that PVN is reliable to a fault when it comes to defending new fashions in terminology based purely on their own feelings or the imagined identities of those they attack, what they have also proven is total ineptitude at politically defending Marxism.

This trend, which have decided for themselves to become our opposition, is still only able to produce, at best, but a handful of postmodernist-influenced articles a month. They claim to be adherents to Maoism, but there is no Maoism to be found in their articles. Scattered among the glaring anti-Communism, there are a few—always butchered—Maoist-sounding slogans. It takes more than this to run a Maoist news service, so let’s call it what it is then: a ruse.

What we find in the place of Maoism is a lot of hot air, a lot of disparaging remarks toward those who reject their cherished terminology on a Marxist basis. PVN is quick to label with all sorts of insults anyone who disagrees with their terms, even if they agree with defending the same oppressed groups, as if the terminology is absolute, and it is impossible to side with the oppressed unless one accepts the most fashionable terminologies that PVN has. This is a bourgeois intellectual approach disconnected from material reality; it is irrationalism at its finest.

Lenin once said, when referring to a very similar crowd, that “in politics abusive language often serves as a screen for utter lack of principles and sterility, impotence, angry impotence, on the part of those who use such language. That is all there is to it.”

We are greeted by exactly this—angry impotence—which sums up our literary opposition on this front. Maybe they would like to hear it from a woman?

In that case, we challenge PVN with the question, where pray tell, is their documentation of International Working Women’s Day (IWWD)? Where is their defense of ‘proletarian feminism’ in practice? Or are they just running at the mouth?

It is with great class pride that Tribune of the People has commemorated the holiday by highlighting IWWD around the world, including in the US, where our Support Committees have conducted celebrations of the holiday and where red women have marched and held events. Are these the ‘male chauvinists’ attached to Struggle Sessions? Or are they just ‘brainwashed’? Are these women and their comrades in the US the ‘patriarchal forces’ of ‘male chauvinism’ just because they reject the term “proletarian feminism”? PVN does not find practice very convincing no matter what they might claim. I suppose it would be difficult to make an article about an online study group seem newsworthy. On any account, their ‘weapon’ is not being taken up in the streets on IWWD here in the US. Their ‘milieu’ (to use their own terms) is fairly missing on the practical side of the women’s front.

Ultimately, PVN lambasts others from their perch of inactivity. They appear to exist only online, and this lacks significance. Our viewpoint at Tribune is in favor of partisan journalism—that is to say, we find significance in the practical role of a newspaper, being on the ground among the masses, documenting the struggles, and getting statements from the people themselves. Beyond this, practice means organizing educational and cultural events for the working class. This type of practical activity provides better knowledge and understanding than could ever be possible with events which do not exist beyond the internet. The slurs hurled at us from PVN are no more insightful than what they can derive from their abysmal lack of practice.

Examine the practice, do not be taken in by words alone

PVN, and the network of charity groups it supports, are proving themselves inadequate on the theory front, and this is directly related to the lack of, or low quality of, their practice. This should not be anything controversial for anyone familiar with Chairman Mao’s theory of practice. Or, to put it simply, the Chairman himself says, “There can be no knowledge apart from practice.”

For The People (FTP) is a loose network of organizations, decentralized and carrying out “mutual aid” or “service programs.” As mentioned, these ‘proletarian feminists’ did not muster a single rally, event, or action for IWWD. Perhaps the day dedicated to the working women of the world does not rank on their to-do list; perhaps they are too busy with charity. Whatever the case, there was no mobilization on this front which PVN can use to show the merit of their political lines, let alone any practice in which to base their theories. Like their study groups, their theory exists only on the internet.

So what do FTPs do? I had the unfortunate experience of looking into them before writing this article, and must say off the bat that in a minority of places, a few of the FTPs seem to be composed of earnest people, who work hard in redistributing the meager goods of the people to other possibly less fortunate people. This is the extent of it. A few of them even have well-organized free food and item distribution programs, which at least show they are real people really organizing something, which is more than you can say for most of them. The majority of them are little more than social media pages which re-share the others; they tweet, re-tweet, and write, but have no practice of their own. Once in a blue moon, one of them might hold or join a protest even; however, there is a lack of campaigns or sustained organizing in anything except their charity work. So we could add a sprinkle of protest-hopping to their protracted charity initiatives. By and large PVN seems disconnected from class struggle and mass movements. This says what needs to be said about their ideology and politics.

While some FTPs seem acutely aware of their limited activity and are without a doubt attempting to overcome this, they do themselves no favors by relying on the inept organ that is PVN, which in our assessment fails both as a news service and theoretical organ. While the social media pages of the inactive FTPs and PVN alike are full of reposted articles from others, PVN only averages about three poorly written articles per month. It is hard to imagine they are too busy with this ‘work’ to engage in anything else.

The proof is in the practice, and this is where a news service comes in, to be able to expand into as many struggles as possible, to document them and provide a centralized source to review and study practical activity. We can lay the matter to rest—it is time to bury the body already. After all, while they call us every name under the sun, there is scant evidence that they do much else: Where is the women’s front? Where are the ‘colonized’ people (to use their term) who are rallying under their banners? It is time they simply let go of calling themselves Maoists.

For our readers, or those who just happen to come across this article—for all those interested in Maoism—I urge you to contact Tribune of the People, to see how you can get involved with the living, breathing movement of oppressed and exploited peoples, which is a vibrant and diverse struggle well beyond simple goods redistribution. Socialism is not a question of consumption and distribution primarily, but a question of class power. Let’s fight together for that, then.

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