Now I know by now some of you must be thinking, “Red Guard Camper, you mass-line hating mother-fucker..” But I have to say, its not true at all. Nobody loves the mass-line more than I. I just hate it when wannabe-maoists mangle “mass-line” to the point of irrelevance. And both in theory and practice that is what they do.
But for genuine Maoists mass-line has been a problem also: a problem over how it can be applied in a setting where there generally are no revolutionary masses. Here and now is my attempt to clear up some of this confusion.
The problem with pseudo-maoists today is simple. Theirs is a gross non-understanding of imperialism, parasitism and the labor aristocracy: a fundamental non-understanding of the principal contradiction. For genuine Maoists this is not a problem.
Maoists today have a basic understanding that there isn’t a mass base for revolution in oppressor First World nations. Amerika is majority labor aristocrat and is dominated by labor aristocrat culture. The amerikan “masses” are a social base for fascist reaction, not proletarian revolution. On a theoretical level, First World Maoists understand this pretty clearly.
While Maoists correctly uphold that there is no such thing a revolutionary mass-line [of the traditional sense] in a place like amerika, there has been a general lack of clarity on how to adopt mass-line to our particular situation. This has become a major theoretical and practical hurdle for First World Maoism.
One response has been to contradict Maoism by setting up “mass-organizations” with a general “mass” orientation (generally meaning not explicitly Maoist). The other, more correct, has been to conduct work that for all practical considerations is an adaptive form of mass-line while not identifying it as such.
So how should First World Maoists approach mass-line? What is a correct approach? How can we correct the errors of the past?
One of the first questions we must ask about any practical First World mass-line is what purpose it serves. This is important because the purpose of the mass-line is often assumed instead of scientifically analyzed. Typically, both in the Maoist and “maoist” camps, “mass-line” has been used to build the “vanguard party.” For Maoists this notion is completely misguided.
If there is not a social base for revolution, how can there be a functioning revolutionary party? The answer, there can’t be- not in any real sense. Therefore, it makes no sense to situate your mass-line off of building some sort of revolutionary “party” or organization. The logical and likely most sustainable end for any adapted form of Maoist mass-line would be to replicate Maoism: to increase the number of scientific Maoist thinkers.
Now that erroneous assumptions about the function of mass-line has been corrected, we can go on to answer other important questions. Foremost being, “who exactly are the ‘masses’ for whom our mass-line applies?” This area probably requires the biggest stretch in terms of correctly understanding and applying any sort of First World mass-line. Try to keep up.
In asking the question of masses we should ask, “who are our friends.” Don’t be mistaken. There are real friends of the oppressed in the First World. These friends are scientific Maoists like Shubel Morgan, the Monkey Smashes Heaven crew and myself. So the question for First World Maoism, the force that wields First World mass-line, then becomes “who are potential friends, where do they come from, and what is the most effectives ways [our mass-line] to bring the largest number most solidly into scientific Maoism?”
Obviously this leaves open a lot of theoretical as well as practical questions. For now these questions will have to go unanswered until people start answering them for themselves. It’s not that I don’t have my own thoughts as to a correct way forward. It’s just that any answer I can provide would be heavily marred by my own experience and thus be mostly subjective.
But we must remember that all knowledge is cumulative experience. Moreover, we must remember that the best forms of First World mass-line will only be worked out through conscious practice and the summing-up of past experience. It is on that note that I urge all First World Maoists to assess both their current and past work, relate it to this new understanding of mass-line and begin to, on their own terms and according to how they feel correct, blaze the way forward.
Till Next Time,
Red Guard Camper
P.S. I know there has been a tendency to outright dismiss mass-line as “ass-line.” While superficially correct, such a label undermines the more universal aspects of mass-line in terms of building cohesion and raising consciousness. To simply dismiss these more universal aspects of the “mass-line” simply because there are no masses is- in its own nuanced way- a form of dogmatism.