Mao Less Than Ever
The RCP and the Cult of Chairman Bob
from Workers Vanguard No. 844, 18 March 2005.
Strange things have been churning out of the press of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) of late. In the lead-up to the January 20 counter-inaugural protests, the RCP issued a leaflet titled, "The Battle for the Future Will Be Fought from Here Forward!" The statement—which the RCP advertised in the Chicago Reader and launched a special campaign to distribute—proclaims a new era in the U.S. where "Bush and his people aren't just ordinary Republicans. And they're not ordinary Christians either. They are Christian Fascists." And...gulp, the only solution is the "vision" of the RCP's "precious leader," Bob Avakian. The leaflet asks, "Which vision will prevail: that of George W. Bush? Or of Bob Avakian?" If these were really our only choices, we suppose we would have to go with Avakian. But as Marxists we understand that the real choices are between capitalist imperialism and international workers revolution. And Avakian's vision has nothing to do with workers revolution.
The RCP has always promoted the cult of Avakian. But lately in their paper, Revolutionary Worker, it's been Avakian galore, whether printing his speeches, articles, interviews, or reviews of his books or promoting his new, eleven-hour DVD. The increasing, fetishist raving over Avakian is one of the more bizarre expressions of liberal despair by the RCP, coming off the spectacular deflation of the antiwar movement and the re-election of Bush. In an absurdist attempt to revive the fervor of the Mao cult during the height of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the leaflet contains a box with its own headline, "Who Is Bob Avakian?" which declares: "There IS a leader, the likes of which this country has never seen before.... It may seem ironic...but the more that people wrestle with and follow his leadership, the greater will be their creative spirit, initiative, and activity." This sounds like lifestyle guru Deepak Chopra in Maoist form.
The Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (RCYB), the RCP's youth group, issued a leaflet titled, "Are You Saved?" Filled with religious imagery, the leaflet is a pathetic attempt to polemicize against religion. "Straight up," we are told, "religion does not have answers" for the questions facing the masses. The RCP's answer? Don't follow Jesus; don't follow Bush; follow Bob, the new messiah: "Bob Avakian is the leader who gives a vision of a radically different world, and points the way forward through all the challenges that we will face." The leaflet concludes: "We love the people and serve the people, there is no greater love than that"!
As humorous as the RCP's adoration of their megalomaniacal leader is, it is not just some quirk, but proof of their rejection of a Marxist program and methods of organization. It flows from the RCP's rejection of the Marxist understanding that the working class, through whose labor wealth is created, is the only class that has the objective interest and social power to overthrow the capitalist order. Instead, they prattle endlessly about "resistance" by the "people." For them the main issue is promoting Avakian's "vision" for the people versus Bush's.
Cultist leadership is antithetical to Marxist revolutionaries, for whom the indispensable tool to successfully carry out a socialist revolution is a party that bases itself on a revolutionary program. That program can be defended and developed only through the participation of a thinking, critical membership on the basis of Leninist democratic-centralism, that is, full internal democracy in arriving at decisions and centralism in carrying out the decisions of the party majority in a disciplined manner. In contrast, the cultish leadership borrowed from Stalin and Mao by groups like the RCP requires unthinking fools for the rank and file, whose job is to simply receive "the word" from their leader and carry it out.
The RCP would have you believe that "Christian Fascism" is here. While the current right-wing fanatics in the White House are most certainly reactionary bible-thumpers, their attacks on civil liberties and democratic rights have been carried out within the framework of bourgeois democracy. "Democracy" under capitalism is the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over the working class and oppressed—enforced through the cops, courts and prisons that make up the capitalist state. Fascism is based on the mobilization of the crazed petty bourgeoisie, whipped into a frenzy by the capitalist rulers in times of social crisis to physically destroy the mass organizations of the working class. Today, the real face of fascism is seen in the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white-supremacist militias. The Spartacist League has a long history of organizing labor/black mobilizations to stop the fascists from organizing for racist terror.
So, what does the RCP mean by "Christian Fascism"? In the mouths of Stalinists and Maoists like the RCP, "fascism" is a code word to promote an "anti-fascist" popular front to unite the working class and oppressed with their capitalist class enemy in the garb of a "progressive" bourgeoisie. In the name of "anti-fascism," the Stalinized Communist Party (CP), under the class-collaborationist program of the popular front, urged its members and the working class to support the Democratic Roosevelt administration. Later, the same doctrine led the CP to throw its support behind the U.S. imperialist war machine in the second interimperialist war, World War II. In the current scenario, the RCP is proclaiming the threat of "Christian Fascism" in order to corral radical youth and activists into a classless movement of the "people" against the Republicans. As with the CP, the RCP pushes illusions in the Democratic Party. Throughout the antiwar movement, the pacifist RCP-initiated Not In Our Name (NION) coalition was based on a class-collaborationist program of reforming imperialism. Thus they built platforms for Democratic Party politicians; the RCP should be held accountable for promoting the "Anybody but Bush" claptrap that helped to prevent the emergence of class and social struggle. In the lead-up to last fall's presidential elections, Revolutionary Worker (29 August 2004) gave its blessing to a vote for the Democrats, advising: "Go ahead and vote for Kerry if you feel you really have to, but put your efforts toward recasting this polarization."
You won't find any mention of the trade unions in these leaflets, and Revolutionary Worker rarely writes about strikes or other issues in the U.S. labor movement. In contrast, Marxists understand communism as the fight for workers revolution, premised on the political independence of the working class from the capitalist class and its agencies. That means fighting within the labor movement to oust the pro-capitalist, pro-Democratic Party trade-union bureaucracy and for a class-struggle leadership of the unions, as part of the struggle for a revolutionary workers party. Such a party would lead all the oppressed behind the social power of the working class to sweep away the capitalist order and establish a socialist society that will end all exploitation and oppression. The RCP claims to be really revolutionary, but RCP youth ought to check out that really cool book on revolution, the Communist Manifesto, in which Marx and Engels wrote: "Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class."