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RCP(Canada)'s Anaysis of G20 Violence

The Revolutionary Communist Party of Canada (based in Quebec) has just recently released a statement regarding the G20 violence. In general, I think this is one of the better analyses coming from an established left organization, and an organization that I respect. Post-G20, when so-called "anarchists" are under attack and organizers are in prison on charges of "conspiracy," it is very upsetting when aspects of the left itself begin to turn on the supposed violence of the direct action protesters. Fight Back, a group that I have complained about before, blamed the Black Bloc for police violence in one of their statements. I think the RCP's statement does a good job of countering this idiocy, contextualizing the violence, and rejecting these sort of claims as nothing more than conspiracy theory elitism.

At the same time, however, I think the RCP's focus on "Trotskyism" in this article damages the general content. They tend to homogenize every left organization and/or individual who denounced the direct action protesters as being "Trotskyist" which is not only inaccurate but, unfortunately, somewhat sectarian.

First of all, Trot groups such as Fight Back notwithstanding, those who denounced the "Black Bloc" or the "thuggery" was a significant population of leftwingers of various political affiliations. Ken Georgetti, for example, is not a Trotskyist, nor any sort of communist, and yet views himself (and through him the entire Canadian Labour Congress) as some sort of representative of the working classes. He was guilty of the same denunciations as the Fight Backers but, unlike some Trot cabal, Georgetti possesses a significant public platform. The NDP was also generally united, which should come as no surprise, in blaming the direct action activists for ruining it for everyone else. Of course, we expect this crap from Social Democrats, and perhaps it is more annoying when so-called communists/socialists ape the general revisionist line. Still, I think this position - which is becoming common sense amongst a whole segment of the left - should not be ascribed as simplistically "Trotskyist."

Furthermore, there were people amongst the left who would see themselves as Trotskyist, or perhaps even formerly Trotskyist, who refused to take the Social Democratic, opportunist position. So to homogenize them with the others is somewhat unfair.

This leads me to my second complaint with the otherwise excellent RCP(Canada) analysis. The use of "Trotskyist" as a polemical insult produces a certain type of sectarianism that is not helpful at this juncture. The same article complains that the working classes do not care about elite left arguments regarding Stalin, etc. ... A good point! But the article itself falls victim to this critique: I doubt the working classes also care very much about the shortcomings of Trotskyist ideology. Instead the rhetoric of "trotskyist" tends to negatively affect an otherwise excellent critique.

Broadly speaking, I tend to find the denunciations of Trotsky to be a product of mid-20th century communist thinking. (Just as I find the Trotskyist denunciations of Stalin to be similarly idiotic and a waste of breath.) Although I think it is very important to be clear about one's theoretical approach, I think this can be done without rhetorical and spurious denunciations of Trotskyism or whatever. That is, I do not find it utterly "sectarian" to embrace, for example, Maoism: sectarianism happens when this embrasure becomes a rhetorical focus of bashing our communist enemies in public statements that detract from the point of the statements.

In my opinion, both the Trotskyist and Stalinist avenues of theoretical thought are dead ends. I have no problem declaring this publicly, or when I'm in a theoretical debate, and explaining why I think marxism as "a living science" developed through Marx/Engels, Lenin, and then Mao. I also think that it is important to explain this position in theoretical documents, etc. My complaint is that this sort of rhetorical horse-flogging is unnecessary in a public document: not only is it generally wrong (we can call all of these opportunists Kautskyites and I think that would be more accurate), but it potentially alienates allies for a common front.

In general, I do not think the RCP(Canada) is dogmatically sectarian, cabalistic, and religiously missionary like some of the Trotskyists they bash. This article, which I again argue is generally the best analysis of the G20 violence I've read from a left organization so far, often reads like the sectarian polemics of the IBT, Spartacists, etc. Obviously the RCP(Canada) cannot be accused of the same sectarianism because, despite their theoretical opposition to anarchism, they defend the Black Bloc and other anarchists in this same article - something that is worth noting in light of the above discussion of sectarianism.

At a time where anarchists are under attack in court as part of some nebulous anti-Canadian conspiracy, I think the RCP(Canada) should be congratulated for, unlike other Marxist groups who like to turn on anarchists in their revolutionary puritanism, taking this position. The RCP(Canada) clearly does not believe that anarchism is a viable revolutionary theory (they're Marxist-Leninist-Maoists for crying out loud!), and would publicly hold to this position. Here they transcend the sectarianism that could result from their important theoretical differences in order to target the real enemy: not anarchism but the bourgeois class and their police. Maybe they targetted Trotskyists in this article because a lot of the Trotskyist groups have, historically, have wasted a lot of time and space denouncing everyone who performs direct action as an "ultra-leftist" or an "anarchist" ... Still, the article would have been much stronger without the tangental focus on Trotskyism.