Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2013

Learning From Documents of Past Struggle (continued)

One of the editors of the Canadian section of the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism Online [EROL] has informed me that all of the documents concerning the dissolution of the Workers Communist Party [WCP] have been posted.  Since I wrote about my discovery of an early WCP document in March, I feel it is worthwhile to provide a sequel to that post now that I've had the time to read some of the significant documents of this organization's dissolution––documents that were largely unavailable until now.  As some of my readers will be aware, the WCP was one of the two largest anti-revisionist communist organizations in the 1970s/80s in Canada (the other being En Lutte!) and that its collapse happened over the space of a year.  There has been little to no assessment of this collapse available to this generation of the Canadian left; indeed, much of the contemporary left is unaware of the importance of that organization and thus could care less about whether or not it ceased to exist.

Theoretical Eclecticism

There was a time when the charge of eclecticism was considered an insult.  A theoretical approach that drew haphazardly from multiple frameworks, picking and choosing the concepts that seemed the most exciting, and yet failed to express a clear and thorough analysis was treated as inconsistent and muddled.  When the marxists of yesteryear branded a theoretical framework eclectic they were claiming that it was spurious at best, revisionist at worst, and ultimately unscientific.  Eclecticism could not produce a concrete analysis of a concrete situation because it generally veered into a confused realm of speculation; eclectic theorists were more interested in theory-as-theory rather than a theory that possessed explanatory depth, let alone a theory capable of communicating the necessity of revolution.

Now, decades after capitalism proclaimed itself triumphant, theoretical eclecticism has become somewhat normative.  If the charge of eclecticism is even remembered as a charge, it is treat…

Communism is Marxism is Communism

Maybe I'm missing something, but I have found myself somewhat befuddled by the discourse that complains about marxism's "appropriation" of communism.  Apparently, some people are annoyed that the term communism has been used as synonymous with marxism because they believe it is a concept that is larger than marxism, and that marxists have unfairly "colonized" it for their own and nefarious purposes.  Thus we have anarcho-communists complaining about the supposed appropriation of the name "communism" and the demand for some sort of recognition that this name is older and broader than marxism and should not be espoused as especial to marxist ideology.

I am pretty sure that this complaint about the appropriation of the word "communism" is new.  A decade and a half ago, when I was a proud anarchist, I was generally under the impression that communism referred to a marxist ideology––specifically a marxist-leninist ideology––and was, in my ana…

The Spectre of "Ultra-leftism"

Although I have often complained about the default opportunism that hampers the anti-capitalist left at the centres of imperialism, I believe that it is a complaint that needs to be continuously reasserted.  That is, it is worth recognizing that any movement that openly pursues revolution in practice and not just in theory will be castigated by certain elements of the mainstream left.  Opportunism is such that, even when it veils itself in marxist categories, any and every militant proclamation will be judged as anathema.

Most often the open and militant endorsement of a revolutionary line will be dismissed as "ultra-leftist" and "ultra-leftism" will be treated as the cardinal movement sin.  Those who deviate from a reformist line are "ultra-leftists", those who demand militant action will be dismissed as adventurists, and those who argue precisely for the practice that was endorsed by revolutionaries such as Lenin will be castigated by self-proclaimed Le…

Second PCR-RCP Sponsored Revolutionary Youth and Student Conference

Following the first successful PCR-RCP sponsored student conference in Toronto in November, a co-ordination team from every group involved was created in order to organize a follow-up conference in Ottawa.  This time even more student and youth organizations throughout Ontario have demonstrated interest, semi-public organization has increased in scope, and it seems as if this second conference will be even more successful than the first.  Although I am not a student (let alone "youth"), and thus did not attend the first conference (though I helped with some of the logistics since it was in Toronto), I have been asked by the co-ordination team to promote the second conference.

While there will probably be some of the typical neo-reformist and CFS complaints about this, if any youth/students are interested in getting involved in a revolutionary student movement and thus getting beyond the tailism advertised by so many other leftist groups––that is, in getting involved with bui…

Some Thoughts on the Debate between Fire Next Time and Signalfire

Recently, when Signalfire's most recent rejoinder to the Fire Next Time's analysis of race/racism in the US was posted on /r/communism, I was reminded of how much I appreciated Neftali's clear-headed response to Ba Jin's speculative quasi-materialist theory.  At the time I had meant to make a few glowing comments about the Signalfire post but for some reason that I cannot recall (probably something to do with childcare which is what normally distracts me these days) I forgot about both the article and the planned post.  But now that I have been reminded of the existence of this debate, and though I cannot recall precisely what I planned to say initially, I have the subject matter for a small post that, at the very least, will pad out MLM Mayhem's entries in the past several weeks which are quite sparse.

First of all, some background.  This debate over how to concretely understand race and racism for the purposes of revolutionary organization began with an article w…