For A People’s Front Against Fascism and State Repression: Solidarity with PYO-KC!


We in Red Guards Pittsburgh write to express solidarity with the Progressive Youth Organization (PYO) in Kansas City, including with the student activist who was recently arrested and charged with a felony. These brave young comrades have successfully exposed and resisted the harboring of rapists on campus, have defeated fee increases on undocumented students, and have militantly organized against fascists, only to face direct repression from the Kansas City Pig Department and University of Missouri-Kansas City. This student activist is facing legal attack for the crime of speaking out against the many forces of U.S. imperialism and fascism, just as PYO and other organizations are preparing for President Trump to visit. One activist is even being surveiled by KCPD in the form of a plainsclothes officer in an unmarked car. The FBI and local police Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force is now involved, revealing that they feel student organizers are terrorists.

These are all tactics used by the state and administration to silence those who demand resistance to their evil policies. Their intense harassment of these young revolutionaries reveals how little in control they are, desperately throwing on un-prosecutable charges and pleading for them to be turncoats on their comrades, for the upcoming visit by the imperialist head of this state.

We know such reactionary plans already have and will fail, torrents of rage will fill the streets of Kansas City, in part due to the efforts of PYO and other organizations there. Fascism and its plans to make this society a human death factory will collapse under the weight of its own sins.

We ask our supporters to know that if we want to be able to fight fascism, we must keep people out of the prisons it aspires to lock us all in!

Please donate what you can at the link here for the arrested comrade.



Reclaim Red May Day

A Summation of May Day 2018 and a look to 2019

with the masses overcome

A flyer passed from worker to worker, calling for militant action in the U.S. on May 1, 1886, read: “one day of revolt – not rest! A day not ordained by the bragging spokesmen of institutions holding the world of labor in bondage. A day on which labor makes its own laws and has the power to execute them!” The workers who walked out of their factories that day faced hails of police gunfire. Their organizers were publicly executed. Outraged, an international gathering of revolutionary workers declared that May First would become a worldwide day of resistance and revolution.

This year’s May Day demo in Pittsburgh provides a glimpse at the difference between the politics of revolution and of our red and black forebears before us, and that of the bootleg May Day of the rose-“red” Democratic Party careerists and revisionists who help organize the yearly opportunist parade — always escorted by a heavy gang of pigs. Urgently and more than ever May Day 2018 showed there needs to be a coalition of revolutionaries, anti-imperialists and anti-fascists that will lay the basis for a Red May Day 2019.

 Here we are now, dealing with the waterlogged monotony of the politics-as-usual, NGO tailing legal left, with their May Day ™, organized by legalists who spend a whole day luring oppressed people into being surrounded on all sides by a battalion of police squad cars and motor bikes.

May Day in Pittsburgh 2018

Rather than participate in the phony march, Red Guards Pittsburgh (RG-PGH) hit perpetrators and symbols of gentrification. Slowly and steadily, RG-PGH is approaching the first year of its foundation with cadre fusing into the real mass movement. We are combining our membership with the masses where we haven’t yet combined, we are deepening social investigation, and we are organizing combative struggles where we live, with the knowledge of all participants and co-partisans through mass organizations separate from RG-PGH.

In line with the above, the mass movement grows around tenant struggles and for de-gentrification through revolution – you can read more about these struggles in the mass organization Serve the People’s “A Hammer To Crush the Enemy”. This is how decisive action has been taken and will be taken to slowly create areas where every day is May Day. More than ever one can see in every neighborhood and street corner there is need for a festive and rebellious May First that blooms like a gift of lilies, not this farce that lies dead like damp leaves suffocating the sprouts of rebelliousness of the people.

Over the last few decades, Pittsburgh has been rebuilt to be nothing more than a sluice for circulating capital through housing and financial institutions.  One of the last cities to undergo downtown demolition and gentrification in the last decades of the 20th century, Pittsburgh has slowly but consciously been redesigned to facilitate the movement of enormous amounts of money cashed through real estate, insurance, and tech on top of the ruin of what used to be the number one steel producer on the planet, while a falsely cultivated, ‘hip’ impression of it having robotics laboratories and being the most “livable city” with extensive bike lanes is being relentlessly advertised to urban petty bourgeois professionals in San Francisco and elsewhere. Following the Iraq War protests in 2003 and the G20 protests in 2009, this so-called ‘redevelopment’ combines itself with street protest suppression and the greater repression of the working class and particularly people of oppressed nations.

The battlegrounds are laid. Police and surveillance apparatuses garrison more and more neighborhoods, and the state gears itself towards the ruthless clearance of “undesirable” populations. When one moves from Downtown and Oakland the scale of this can be seen in the amount of storage companies that have been propped up to store the belongings of rapidly displaced people.

And when one gets to Penn and Highland one sees the future they want: quirky box stores that sell rock salt which are topped with condos for the wealthy and with offices for white collar management and tech programmers. The fight for an Anti-Capitalist May Day 2019 should proceed from this juncture in the struggle – there must be May Day marches which are militant and filled with the urgent knowledge that we fight for our very future. Stale customs cannot sate this need.

The opportunists who tail the “main” event lead organizations which ask “who is organizing this” over “what is being organized,” a cowardly method of analysis. And yet, “who is organizing this” is not necessarily a bad question — are the leading organizers of this event proven fighters? Are they proven collaborators? Are they principled or opportunist, dedicated or inconsistent, etc.? Identity opportunists do not ask “Who is organizing this?” simply with an eye toward figuring out identities – if they did this they would be incorrect but at least honest to their propaganda, they would be identitarians over revolutionary communists but they would not necessarily be opportunists in the strict sense of the word.

Opportunists are confused on many questions, but they all stand firmly in completely denouncing revolutionary communism, paying no mind to the fact that this is the path being taken (the path being cleared, in fact) by leading black, Chicano, woman, trans and gender non-conforming comrades (not to mention the role played by communists in leading the day’s most ardent national liberation struggles across the globe). All of this is to say: They do ask “who is organizing this?”, but they do not ask to find out the nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or class position of the people involved – they use this camouflage to ask if an event is being organized by people who agree with their political stand, and when people don’t, regardless of how the organizers are oppressed by this patriarchal, colonial capitalist society, they are labelled “anti-black”, “anti-immigrant”, and so on.

So our communist kind of internationalism has become in Pittsburgh a love that dare not speak its name. We’ve arrived at a point where many are anxious to express communist internationalism without offending the worldview that proceeds narrowly from localist identity-opportunism.

We cannot continue to allow NGO “radicals” to reduce every demonstration of militancy to one of privilege, especially those “radicals” who are paid minions of the nonprofit industrial complex. Across the country these cowards doxx revolutionary activists at a time when fascists are hunting them, and they also use red-baiting to attempt their ousting from mass organizations.

The opportunist crowd builds its tiny bubble of prestige atop the frustration they inspire in almost everybody else; the seeds of tomorrow’s hardened and militant May Day formation are cultivated not only by the militarized state of imperialist US capital, but at the same time by the toothless but loud social capital hucksters who lay claim to the hallowed space of loyal opposition. Luckily, that is not the kind of space which revolutionaries have their eyes set on.

For A Revolutionary May Day 2019!

One can quickly notice that very little news coverage was given May Day ™. In a city with frequent mass actions that are carefully planned and contained by the Democratic Party and its entourage of progressive NGOs and unions, peaceful protest does little more than get a little bit of coverage on local media. Mass public rallies and marches of this nature have never helped form a core of future organizing, never helped to advance the militancy of working class people, and they certainly do not draw progressively more people out onto the street. As for raising awareness, this is based on the assumption that people are stupid about how fucked things are and need bulleted points on signs read to them. Reality proves otherwise, because we all know things are fucked, though we may not know how to overcome this reality. Any such “message” that is directed to the ruling class as a question, as a request, is inherently sterilized.

We must send an entirely different kind of message to the ruling class – we re-affirm what Chairman Gonzalo said in the El Diario Interview of 1988: “Agreements signed at the table only reflect what has already been established on the battlefield, because no one is going to give up what they have not obviously lost. That is understood.” We do not need to ask the state to voluntarily lose its class character; we need to destroy the old power and on these ruins build the new.

A revolutionary May Day 2019 is already in the works. The deeds of the enemy as they exist at every level–whether in the city, in Google, or in NGO spaces–will not keep revolution buried. Red flags will soon rise as sparks, shining like bright worlds wrought in the darkness.

This task necessarily poses certain internal problems, the problems of an organizational approach which allows communists to play their required role in being principled, revolutionary fighters. Though principles are often confused as sectarianism, the latter error mustn’t be made by RG-PGH and mass organizations it has supporters within, and this is to be ensured by a) working in coalition with organizations without attempting “poaching,” aka encouraging other members to leave their current organizations or using process to liquidate others into its ranks, b) maintaining that the correctness of our ideology is proved through class struggle and not through name calling or gossiping, which means abiding by decisions made within this alliance as long as they respect group autonomy, and c) working with those who see the need to stop organizing under the banner of extreme opportunists who endorse capitalist parties and elections and that collaborate with police.

Most of all, the masses need to be brought out on May Day 2019: it is theirs! They are our support and our co-fighters, they are not bonded to the system which binds them. We must recapture and, indeed, grow beyond the militancy of May Days’ past.  This militancy complements the continued and sustained growth and support for de-gentrification. Revolution relies on and sprouts from the mass activity of those in the neighborhoods we live. It is the masses who make history; they can move the stars in the sky while the opportunists muck around in the swamp.

We call on all revolutionaries, anti-imperialists, and anti-fascists in Pittsburgh to join us in building for a red and revolutionary May Day 2019. Leave opportunism in the swamp which it calls home, and let go of the hands of all those who reach out to drag us into the swamp alongside them.

Internationalism and Repression

The Red Guards ranks which form the basis of a future Maoist Communist Party has advanced this year, moving closer towards democratic centralism. Our deepest solidarity and support goes to Red Guards Austin, Red Guards Los Angeles, Red Guards Kansas City, Red Guards Charlotte, as well as Revolutionary Association of Houston and Red Path – St. Louis. We feel little need to rave about the successes of this year and invite readers to look at Red Guards Austin’s May 1, 2018 for a look into the U.S. Maoist movement.

A militant movement attracts state repression. Charlotte and Kansas City both had comrades who were arrested at their May Day events. We ask readers to give even small amounts of money if at all possible, for the important work they are doing can not be abated with incarceration.

Kansas City:


Overseas we extend solidarity to those Maoist communists struggling in the imperialist centers, including the Maoist Communist Party of France, the Maoist Communist Party of Italy, Committee for the Construction of the Communist Party (Maoist) of Galicia, Committees for the Founding of the (Maoist) Communist Party of Austria, Committee Red Flag (Germany), Jugendwiderstand (Germany), Tjen Folket (Norway), and the Revolutionary Communist Party (Canada).

We extend our support to Red Sun (Mexico) which was fired upon by police in their Oaxaca demonstrations, to the Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction), Communist Party of Ecuador Red Sun, to the Red Faction of the Communist Party of Chile, the Revolutionary Front of the People of Bolivia MLM, and the Maoist Organization for the Reorganization of the Communist Party of Columbia.

Long live the people’s wars of India, the Philippines, Peru, and Turkey!

People’s War Until Communism!

-Red Guards Pittsburgh


#FreeDallas, Free All Political Prisoners, Temper Ourselves in Struggle


“Either a human or pig

Either to survive at any price or

to struggle until death

Either part of the problem or part of the solution

Between the two there is nothing

Victory or death—the people everywhere say that and that is the language of the guerilla”

— from Holger Meins’ last letter

On March 9, federal agents in Austin, TX surrounded and arrested Dallas, a dedicated anti-fascist and Maoist supporter of Red Guards Austin, on several felony charges that were produced in conjunction with the work of an informant. Using “evidence” of hearsay and deliberate fabrication from this single person, the Feds have claimed weapons that are legally registered and that were at his fiancee’s apartment that he doesn’t even live at are actually his.  The prosecutors, unable to produce concrete physical evidence, are in a marriage of convenience with a liar and do not care about witness reliability. This isn’t Dallas’ first rodeo with them – pigs tried to rip Dallas’ head off and broke his neck in multiple places at a rally in November 2016, almost leaving him permanently paralyzed. Surviving and continuing to fight, this is the deeply hated establishments’ next pathetic attempt at using general repression to extinguish successful militant anti-fascism (note—please read Red Guards Austin’s Defend Comrade Dallas and fight for his freedom for more information)

There is much at stake for all anti-fascists in Dallas’ case—APD, TxDPS, FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are firing the opening salvos of Cointelpro 2.0 by targeting allegedly armed anti-fascists and those whose anti-fascism is not just reaction-ism (chasing from rally-to-rally) but based on a more protracted process of engaging communities in resisting fascism. In Austin particularly, where Maoism and revolutionary politics has achieved hegemony over militant anti-fascism, the fight over the gentrifying and Nazi-collaborating Blue Cat Cafe, the numerous mass rallies that RGA organized in tandem with mass organizations like the Revolutionary Student Front, and the response to neo-Confederates and alt-right attempts to march have attracted international reporting and support, but also the fear of the police. Pittsburgh and Austin’s Fraternal Order of Police both endorsed Trump and many, because of the occupational stress that comes with maintaining white supremacy and the property relations of capitalism, know that the violence of fascism which is the same as theirs is never met with docility but with resistance — which is why they are going to such great lengths to criminalize armed anti-fascism. Department of Homeland Security documents leaked to Politico referenced Red Guards along with Redneck Revolt as a worry, and cited RGA’s partisan unit open carrying during one “White Lives Matter” counter demonstration a little over a year ago as one example. They fear it, as one very class conscious senior law enforcement officer claimed, because they know that one day gun shots will ring out between these sides.

Clearly those who’ve brought charges on Dallas and on his fiancee, and that are harassing anyone with even tangential relationships with RGA supporters, are not neutral nor do they pretend to be. Fascists and militias use lethal and often illegal weapons, yet are not harassed anywhere near the degree to which comrades such as Dallas are.

As Charlottesville proves, fascists were the ones who fired their guns and ended the day by murdering someone. RGA declared that they would not remain unarmed while facing an armed enemy, that fascism is organized reactionary violence and that it is hardly unintended when someone is murdered at their demonstrations, and that to defeat fascism we must gain parity on this front so that no one has to unwillingly become a martyr. The state has responded to this declaration (one that has been backed up in action) by targeting those within the anti-fascist movement who are already in a legally precarious position because of past records. The consequence to a conviction of Dallas is a declaration that proximity to firearms while having anti-fascist politics is a thought-crime worthy of up to three decades in a federal dungeon, and the opening up of an array of other political witch-hunts into those who support or are members of groups that open carry at demonstrations.

We will not stand idly by and let our comrades be kidnapped. This system is not interested in arguments on prosecutorial ethics and discovery as it relates to unreliable witnesses; it will always thrive off of informant falsehoods no matter what we scream at them, for if they had incentive to admit the truth then Dallas would be free now. What we will do is give them the incentive to consider the ramifications of locking Dallas up with an international campaign to demand his immediate release and the dropping of all charges, where we show people the role the pigs and FBI plays against our movement. Everyone—from workers at the frank stands and coffee shops the federal agents and judges go to, to our neighbors and theirs—will know their evil works in splitting Dallas from his family and locking him in a dungeon.

Donations are going to be crucial here, as the costs for doing legal defense work and jail support work will be high, as is the cost of building the movement against FBI repression. The fundrazr page was taken down, so donations are recommended to be sent directly through PayPal:

Stay up to date on local events so you know what’s happening with the case and find out about upcoming events, activities and protests. There will be a fundraising event soon with planned speakers.

Talk to your friends, co-workers and family about the case. Popularize the anti-repression struggle. You must tell the world that resistance should not be a criminal act, but always will be as long as the capitalist dictatorship holds power.

Get your organization to pass a resolution or issue a statement of solidarity with Dallas and revolutionary antifascists in Austin, including the need to make donations directly through PayPal at

Dallas has a big heart and big love for the people. He has dedicated his life to serving, and struggling with, the people to build resistance against injustice and oppression. In Austin, Dallas was there for many who were struggling through the evils of addiction, always willing to lend an ear to listen. Everyone who knows him can testify to his encouragement in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, to remain positive, and to have faith in the masses. Valuing so many as comrades and friends, he has been a mentor to many in his kindness and intelligence.




ATTN PITTSBURGH: Loose Lips Sink Ships!


PITTSBURGH: Don’t talk to cops or fash sympathizers — resisting fascism is not a crime! Snitching and badjacketing are irredeemable offenses!

A day ago it came to our attention that an unknown actor linked a number of Red Guard Pittsburgh supporters’ government names to racist-skinhead affiliates and that there are now attempts to dox them underway. We write this for (1) the purpose of making antifascists aware that doxxing is underway, and (2) to also reaffirm and promote the basics of security culture.

We are living in a time when we can see the outlines of a new Cointelpro* forming. Many activists and revolutionaries are now in confrontation with forces they don’t see (and too often, that they don’t yet understand). And there is a need for people to become more sophisticated quickly. We need a realistic sense of the viciousness of the state and the fascists, the flimsiness of the legal protections the state promises, and we need to understand the stakes inherent to any serious liberation struggle. We cannot afford the illusions or methods of social democratic forces. As a revolutionary movement we need to be as open as possible to the people (especially in regard to its policies and goals), and as closed as necessary to its enemies.

The state uses many methods against revolutionaries, but for the purpose of focusing on what seems to be situationally relevant, we will here touch on its use of disinformation, rumor, unsafe security practices, liberalism, and on informants and turncoats in order to attack its opponents.

Snitching and Loose Lips

To state it plainly: if someone is a police agent or turncoat, they have deceived and betrayed everyone around them. Even if the snitches’ action is portrayed as just “innocent”, loose gossip and organizational speculation, “innocent” reference of alleged ownership or connection of certain events to specific personalities, it is still snitching! Snitches choose, deliberately and consciously, to serve the most sinister forces in history — and whether they do it not knowing they are part of a campaign based on undermining the as-yet fragile hopes of our class and oppressed people is unworthy of consideration.  To be a rat is reprehensible — there is little lower or more repulsive than a counterrevolutionary rat.

Such individuals need to be exposed, repudiated fiercely, and removed from the movement. There are some who, in spite of someone proving they are capable of secretly serving fascists and/or the state as an informant, will want to point to some possible basis to trust the snitch again. Such ideas are common in politics that don’t see revolution as possible – they genuinely think informants don’t do much damage. In their mind it’s preposterous to investigate into people with such counterrevolutionary inclinations, the consequence of this line being that snitches are permitted unlimited access to spaces and institutions the movement uses.

There was a debate within the Chinese revolution precisely on this question. Imprisoned revolutionaries were asked by the Japanese or the Kuomintang to denounce the revolution (publicly, in court, and in writing) as the price of release. The line of phony communist Liu Shaoqui (who ran the underground urban apparatus) was to allow such denunciations of revolution and welcome the released prisoners back into underground work. The line of Mao, which would surface again during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was that turncoats and capitulators had to be identified, removed from the party, repudiated and never readmitted. The argument was the simple point that once you allow capitulation and informing (even if under pressure) there is no way to maintain the integrity of an underground organization, which becomes like a dead ash tree, its bark rotting and falling as it becomes riddled with the insects that are proven capitulators; it becomes weakened by liberal attitudes of situational capitulation.

A movement that is liberal which tolerates that kind of betrayal will be riddled with future betrayals — betrayal will be encouraged and accepted through lies and by putting friendship over politics. And it can be very destructive, to the point of even being fatal.

Bars, drinking/drug culture, alcoholism, and friendship cliques** become a terrible mix which form up to often run contrary to our desire to start to develop rudimentary and effective security cultures for a large movement. They often become the dampened and dark spaces by which the goals of Counter-Intelligence Programs (Cointelpro) and fascists are able to be pursued. Sleazy people do sleazy things, and when substance abuse goes ignored, some choose to be oblivious as to how this ugly behavior can be a marker of a larger corruption. While paranoia is corrosive its dialectical opposite of laxness is destructive as well, both are encouraged and desired by our fascist stalkers. Drunken naïveté with friendly strangers at bars replaces consciousness.

Infiltration is a method that deploys all the ugly power-trips of a dying imperialism and all the vices of human beings, such as the corruption of the disaffected, the ego stroking of the lame, exploitation of the damaged, blackmail of the legally compromised, and briberies of the most desperate. They don’t always appear as police-types, those approaching you with certain questions or certain rumors may come from the weak and damaged. Informers offer intimacy and flattery. They thrive on gossip and promote a culture of gossip. They can come with resources, cred, or skills – the informant Lawrence Goff, who once quipped that he was “redder than a baboon’s ass,” was a man of working-class background and an ex-Marine who was able to offer weapons training and access to firearms.

Others often provide commitment that often surpasses understanding***. Minneapolis FBI infiltrator “Karen Sullivan” was able to enter FRSO by being quiet, keeping their head down and “working hard” at movement tasks, building credibility and trust, all while listening and taking notes. Many police cadre who entered Vietnam Veterans Against War posing as veterans with military expertise were able to easily expose their secret police activities through time by showing their more reactionary side. Consciousness is hard to fake, but not impossible as seen with Karen Sullivan: some sociopaths fake every genuine human emotion in life — as a habit — and can assimilate political ideas seamlessly, and can go from being a Marxist-Leninist one day, to being a insurrectionary anarchist the next.

Malinovsky, who was a “working class intellectual” in a sea of middle class intelligentsia (and who, beyond his politically convenient class background, was also an amoral turncoat, egomaniac and extremely talented huckster) ended his time as an agent and his political career by suddenly fleeing in an emotional panic from his office as a parliamentary representative — just simply disappearing (on both his political coworkers and police handlers) into the night. At some point he just couldn’t handle the “double life” anymore, but out of guilt returned to face those he betrayed and harmed.

Like Malinovsky, every snitch must face justice. Informing on radical movements is not ok when people are teenagers. It is not ok if people are facing blackmail. It is not ok if the authorities threaten people with prison and death, whether it’s done accidentally while drunk, or if it was done by telling someone who they thought was their friend certain information. It is not ok, period. There are no justifications and no excuses.

Oppressed people rightfully hate those who inform and don’t care about a snitch’s intentions, nor should we worry about whether snitches “learn and grow.” A snitch’s spiritual problem or personal development do not matter; we are preparing a party, army, and movement that must be preserved in the midst of the present and future conflicts to come.

What we do want from snitches is to fail, to be prevented from accomplishing their criminal goals, and to get them as far away from the movement as possible. And we want to deter those twisted and weak individuals who are tempted to take that path.

That requires being alert, avoiding denial, being firm, and maintaining high standards — to, in short, recognize that loose lips sink ships and to have a long sighted view of who the enemy is.

Combat Liberalism Everywhere, Fight Fascism Everywhere!

 Combat Liberalism

It would be wrong however to try to develop some sort of fixed “profile” of what informants will appear as, for we run the risk of falsely tagging innocent people with labels that can get them hurt, and thus do the pigs’ work for them. We should be unafraid to critique and reject the methods of the 1930s standards adopted by the communist movement (which was often cynically indifferent to facts and investigation, and routinely smeared political opponents and dissidents as agents), as Mao has already done by rightfully pointing out that “people’s heads aren’t leeks.” We should carefully avoid paranoid witch-hunts and destructive badjacketing.

But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t develop cautious collective methods nor run away from making everyone aware going in what the expectations of their involvement is. We must combat liberalism and hold each other accountable for behavior, and not look the other way when suspicious things happen. Don’t tolerate behaviors that endanger the whole. Deploy the wisdom and judgement of collectivity. Speak candidly and truthfully about problems.

We must encourage this not just in collectives but also in the neighborhoods we organize. Liberal behavior can get people killed so we must stress that security is not about protecting each individual, but of protecting the survival and functioning of the movement in the very streets we live. It is about taking care of the future within the present, the whole within the part.

In light of the current doxing attempt, we ask our supporters, those working within organizations that do united front work with us, and those in our neighborhoods to:

  • Be suspicious of ugly rumor campaigns and efforts to inflame differences into hostilities;
  • Replace naivete with consciousness and diligence. What you say has consequences;
  • Be aware that there is an active fascist presence in Bloomfield and that they aren’t afraid of collaborating with the police;
  • Be protective of personal information if you work in the movement in any way. Don’t say nothing to anyone;
  • Develop nuanced policies of “need to know,” where the movement and the people are able to evaluate their own progress through public summation, while some other matters are kept private;
  • Avoid sectarianism and practice elementary and substantive solidarity for those under attack, in a way that recognizes contradictions among the people and contradictions between the enemy. Bail out and provide jail support those who participate in revolutionary militancy regardless of what school of thought they are. Fight side by side in tactical unity against fascists.

We will not permit our supporters, friends, and community members who have worked tirelessly in past campaigns to be threatened, intimidated or bullied into not being antifascists. Already we have seen some of the flyers of the mass organization we participate in marked with “1488” and swastikas, as well as the defacement of “Anti-Racist Neighborhood” tags at a bus stop in a popular neighborhood. Fascism is a death factory, it is human vivisection, it is industrialized rape and torture, and the only way to make that extinct is through revolutionary violence. When one chooses to collaborate with fascism they became a fascist, and while reeducation and reintegration is not out of the question at a future time, we (and the many oppressed people they wish to kill right now) do not have the resources or privilege to carefully confront fascists so that some are not as hurt as others. It’s as simple as this — if you have bonehead parents, drop them. If you have a bonehead roommate, break your lease. Or else you are declaring your own immediate economic and emotional needs as more important than that of humanity.

We will continue to propagandize around antifascism, we will continue to develop community reporting of fascists and to hold community workshops to help identify fascists, we will continue to provide self defense when asked of us, to provide training when asked of us, and to dig deep roots among broad numbers of increasingly conscious people in a way that promotes their security as well as ours, so that their survival becomes ours.

Delay means death – organize against the fascist enemy!

*Cointelpro is Counter Intelligence program, it was an elaborate and aggressive counter insurgency program employed by the FBI to attack several movements.

**For the opportunists to note, drinking in social situations is not bad, but getting so drunk that there is either active lack of control or more passive ambivalence towards statements one is making is a security risk and constitutes a behavior worth criticizing.

***Individuals have different levels of maturity, insight and consciousness. And a movement needs to be alert to those differences. People can be quite conscious and self sacrificing without being politically correct all the time or ideologically consolidated. As so, we must be careful in again noting that there is no fixed informant profile, though there are examples that we must draw from.


Rest In Power Michael!

Earlier this week Michael Morgavo (AKA ‘Mush’ and ‘Maël Bisset’) unexpectedly passed away. Mael was a supporter of Serve the People Pittsburgh and of Red Guards Pittsburgh, and of the U.S. MLM movement in general.

Though comrades in the struggle here only met with him briefly and developed a cut-short relationship based on theoretical exchanges and the shared deeply felt need to change the world through revolution, we still feel it proper and our humbling and somber duty to write this small tribute.

Mael was obviously loved and admired by his friends and family and those in the area’s DJ scene as well as by any comrades who knew and struggled with him.

We pine and our class cries for every comrade, for every revolutionary soldier, for every supporter and also for every friend of the people who passes away. Tighten the grip on the red banner, and carry it higher. Take it up and do not let it down.

When somone as young as Mael dies suddenly, it is often the reflection of some crime of the capitalist-imperialist system: dope, suicide, car crash, lumpen or police violence, and so on. We do not know the circumstances of his death, but whatever the cause we say feel no shame! No one should hang their heads in such moments, not when the sun is just rising now over the hills, silhouette, penumbra, corona, and shining light.

We prepare for war now in your absence, friend.

We encourage our supporters to donate to help alleviate his family’s funeral expenses here.

Red salute,
Red Guards Pittsburgh

Solidarity with the People of Afrin! All Out for Supporting the Right to Kurdish National Self-Determination!

Solidarity with the People of Afrin! All Out for Supporting the Right to Kurdish National Self-Determination!

Image: YPJ

Kurdish women YPJ fighters in Rojava.

The people of Afrin are facing a genocidal assault by Erdogan’s fascist state, with thousands of Turkish troops, Humvees, and tanks moving into Syria. The genocidal Turkish army moved into the Kurdish-dominated province after it was announced that Assad’s Baathist state was going to give the national movement the concession of limited autonomy. Here is revealed the territorial logic of oppressor nation chauvinism – much like the Baathists did in Iraq and Syria in the decades before, there are plans to de-Kurdify the area and create a Turkmen majority here to undermine the Kurdish Nation. Horrific video footage of Turkish soldiers in Salafist jihadi-beards excited to butcher “atheist Kurds” have went viral but have been consciously kept out of the capitalist press.

This offensive shakes the already delicate balance of the region. As a blood soaked inter-imperialist proxy war, U.S. imperialism and its junior imperialist lackeys of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and others have supported the Islamist Free Syria Army as well as Daesh on one side. On the opposing side, Assad and the bureaucratic capitalist class governing Syria has cut deals with Russia to further deepen it into its status as a semi feudal and semi colonial state, through arm deals, unequal trade agreements which deepen the underdevelopment of domestic industries and force greater dependency, and deepened invitation of Russian military presence there (though it was announced recently that Russian personnel would be pulled out). The revisionist and national chauvinist Syrian Communist Party has marched the most class conscious and revolutionary parts of the Syrian Arab proletariat into the latter’s camp.

In this cauldron did the Kurdish national movement grow, specifically in Rojava. To receive material aid to defeat Daesh, the Kurds there, represented by the Democratic Union Party (DUP), Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and People’s Protection Units (YPG), entered into a temporal “alliance” with U.S. imperialism. While Kurdish national leadership have emphasized the fleeting and tenuous nature of this relationship, and recent meetings between the Orange Duce Trump and Erdogan resulted in the cutting off of military aid to Syrian Kurds, 13 U.S. military bases remain in Rojava. All imperialist moves and manipulations in Syria must be counteracted. The Turkish invasion of Afrin did not occur without U.S. or Russian permission, as betrayal by imperialist vipers who only have an insatiable taste for the blood of this resource-rich region is inevitable.

It is clear that there is no time for “tactical alliance” anymore, illusions are something the brave Kurdish fighters can no longer afford. But in spite of criticisms we should have of the line and direction this movement has taken, the need for our international solidarity is needed now more than ever. Turkey, a NATO state, and the ruling fascist AKP party of Erdogan, is kept awake at night by the fact that Rojava is the fuse to the dynamite of Kurds living within the interior of Turkey. Turkey’s interference in Afrin to suppress the Kurds, Assyrians, and Arabs there is related directly to its fears that the Kurdish national movement’s accomplishments will strength the revolutionary movements to the west of Anatolia. Their destiny is, in many ways, intertwined.

Our duty as revolutionaries in the belly of the beast, far from the cauldron that is brewing, is to to practice solidarity with the Kurds. We must organize against the aggression of the Turkish state in spaces of political and military importance to it here in the USA, including at Combined Tactical Inc. in Jamestown, Pennsylvania (a factory where 130,000 tear gas cannisters which were used in Turkey in the last 4 years were produced). Or at Carnegie Mellon University here in Pittsburgh, where technology for killer drones and other aerial systems of imperialist death that are given to Erdogan’s gangsters is financed through Department of Defense grants.  The most advanced guard of the revolutionary proletariat here in the USA will be organized to tip of the smoldering cauldron Turkish fascism and imperialism is creating over into the streets here, making mere statements of solidarity into resistance to the ruling system and its enforcers.

Victory to the resistance of the Kurdish people and other indigenous peoples of Afrin against the genocidal aggressors of the Turkish state!

Death to AKP’s fascist gangs!

Death to the invaders!

Red Guards Pittsburgh

Settle the Issue

Sophia Burns’ Politics is a Case Study in the Right-Opportunist Conception of the Mass Line Method of Communist Leadership


pcp organize with guns image

“The necessity of systematically imbuing the masses with this and precisely this view of violent revolution lies at the root of the entire theory of Marx and Engels. The betrayal of their theory by the now prevailing social-chauvinist and Kautskyite trends expresses itself strikingly in both these trends ignoring such propaganda and agitation” — Lenin in State and Revolution

As Maoists, we define our position in relation to the masses, the rest of the Left, and the world in general through struggle. This means criticism of every position, including our own.

As we exist in the imperialist metropole, one of our main struggles must be against a kind of default right-opportunism, an opportunism produced through the strength of the superstructural forces of the bourgeoisie and through the bribery, relatively large or small depending on certain factors, of large swaths of the masses in the metropole through admission into the labor aristocracy, etc. These factors which impact the masses also impact the Left, making tailism and economism very attractive (this is by far not the last word on this default opportunism — see the “Further Reading” section for more on this).

This struggle against right-opportunism often manifests itself as a struggle against a rightist deviation from the mass line method of communist leadership, the method through which communists scientifically unite with and lead the masses, as well as the method through which we identify the social body called the masses which, led by the proletariat, are capable of making revolution.

The Communist Labor Party activist and theorist Sophia Burns is a leading US theorist of the right opportunist deviation from the mass line. We have prepared this initial criticism of Burns’ positions to help clarify in folks’ minds the stakes and forces at play in the defense of the correct application of the mass line. We hope this will be useful for Maoist activists, activist folks tangential to or interested in Maoism and the mass line, and also folks relatively new to organizing and activism.

Sophia Burns has positioned herself as a leading theorist of a resurgent left-communism in the US (which, contextually, manifests as refoundationalism) made concrete in the loose coalition of social-democratic, left-com, and big-tent groups called Marxist Center, all united around a right-opportunist conception of the mass line method of communist leadership.

Here we look mostly at a few of Burns’ theoretical pieces, “Don’t Run for Office” with some discussion of “You Have to Deliver” and “Front Groups Kill the Revolution”. All of these are individually penned and not explicitly related to Burns’ political organizations or trends, but at some point an intellectual and their writing becomes a representative of a group, tendency, etc; it is the easiest thing in the world to wave off criticisms by claiming that they’ve missed the mark, especially around big-tent projects which pride themselves on their unity around indecision, but it is clear that Burns represents at the very least a significant trend in contemporary refoundationalism.


What we find in Burns’ writing is an affect of seriousness, of getting down to business and being done with all the sentimental nonsense such as 1917, the Party, our ideologies, etc, that has hampered the Left. But this affect functions as a repression, and as with all repression it is simultaneously the return of the repressed — she circles around to sentimentality and virtue posturing just at the moment of the radical break from past false consciousness and opportunism. This is precisely the gesture of the centrist (to be done with X or Y nonsense or “shibboleth”, a favorite scare-term of Burns), which always eventually overdetermines into rightism.

For instance while Maoists say that election work in the long-run disarms the proletariat and the masses, Burns argues in “Don’t Run for Office” against engaging in election work as this work tends to lead to the full co-option of left groups. This is a tight and logical, and thus comforting, argument for the left line on elections, and seems clearer and more actionable than the more poetic Maoist line.

However, there is no shift from quantity to quality with Burns, no formation of the universal which can guide politics, thus we are left only with things tending towards their already chosen destinations (this is the role of a tendency towards X). Election work will derail and eventually overcome community work, very well, but what of the question of power at the very base of this distinction between election-work and base-building work? Who is being co-opted? Left groups or the community itself? What separates the two? Where does the question of the gun come in? Nowhere.

It in fact becomes very clear that Burns has no conception or doesn’t want to have a conception of the armament or disarmament of the masses or even of proletarian politics as opposed to merely “community” politics. The only operative distinction for Burns is between self-organization and organizing co-opted by the state apparatuses.

But the question of the gun is central to politics, for it is the question of the seizure of power, which itself structures and encapsulates all these other questions.

We cannot push the question of the seizure of power into some unspecified time in the future, and for the same reason we cannot push aside the question of leadership and organization until another unspecified time in the future. To be a refoundationalist and thus to linger on the current “undecidability” of matters is akin to setting out to expand the field of biology while remaining undecided on the universality of Darwinian evolution. One will necessarily get nowhere.

This is why in the “What is to be done?” section of Burns’ piece we are left merely with the blueprint for building an unspecified dual power, i.e. without knowing whose power, what power is to be opposed to that of the bourgeois state and capital.

We should ask the Leninist question of every ideological term: X very well, but X for whom, and to do what? I.e. we should ask “Dual power very well, but for whom and to do what?”

We are left with nothing but the image of a proliferation of dual power networks and schemes: more and more community-run gardens, health clinics, etc without acknowledging, again, the need to shift from quantity to quality. In revolution this shift takes place ultimately when the gun is taken up and declared to be the primary mode of revolutionary struggle, and all struggles before that critical moment must be oriented towards it—legal and non-legal, above-ground and underground.

As an aside: this generalized right-opportunism masked through pragmatic and leftist language can also be seen through a symptomatic reading of this “What is to be done?” section. For instance, here Burns says that “the two most prominent sets of institutions [which direct social activity]… are the largest capitalist corporations and the governments”. Here we should remind ourselves that it is not governments which we should focus our analysis on, but the class character of the state, in particular. As the Communist Party of Peru reminds us in their General Political Line, focusing on governments can lead us to opportunistically tail after one or another governmental faction, which inevitably means tailing after one or another faction of the bourgeoisie (comprador against national bourgeoisie, for instance) rather than setting up independent proletarian power.

[Note: This section has been edited for clarity] This is no idle theoretical point: various Marxist Center-affiliated groups have shown legalist tendencies or worse, with Tacoma Serve the People an official non-profit, organizing with sanction from the state, and Austin Socialist Collective harboring a member who is unapologetic about having worked with the police, as RGA discusses in its piece criticizing him and ASC.

This means functionally mis-identifying the class character of the state even if they declare themselves in general against capital and its state apparatus.

Power comes from the barrel of the gun. It does not come from giving people things that they want or need better than the state and NGOs and etcetera, proving therefore through successive good deeds that revolution is the way forward.

Without a conception of the place of the gun in revolution, without a conception of protracted people’s war—the only proletarian science of warfare—and without the conception of the party there can be no talk of making revolution. There can instead only be talk of little community pet projects given a semblance of revolutionary life because against the backdrop of the general US leftist swamp of opportunism and do-nothingism, it seems very radical and forward-thinking to speak generally and vaguely of dual power.

Thus Burns leaves us with the feeling that dual power has no power at all and in fact can only exist through the good graces of the enemy. This is particularly ironic when the majority of “Don’t Run For Office” is spent arguing, correctly, against relying on the good graces of the enemy—against electoralism and reformism, as the gains from these strategies are so easily swept aside or co-opted.

But the same truth holds for “dual power institutions”: the moment one’s free breakfast program become a threat or seems to be gaining hold of the imagination of the people, it will be co-opted or destroyed. This holds doubly so for the kind of dual power Burns imagines: institutions which are not controlled or led by “outside powers” like a vanguard party, that 21st century bogeyman.

It’s revealing to Burns’ ideology (at base a clever anti-communism, or at least more clever than the DSA’s anti-communism) that the community itself is not posited as outside itself when it is constructed through the processes of capital, of the enemy, while the Party is constructed specifically to organize the people against this enemy.

Indeed, what proof is there that direct or participatory democracy and community control of institutions helps these institutions resist co-option, let alone destruction? It seems quite natural that a community organization formed to achieve certain goals for the community will self-liquidate as soon as these goals are met or as soon as the state promises to achieve these goals. In this way, Burns smuggles movementism into a conception of struggle that at first glance seems opposed to movement-hopping or tailism (i.e. following after the more backwards sections of the people rather than uniting with the advanced and bringing up the rest).

Also, and following from the above, the critical question of trade union consciousness versus class consciousness is here thrown out. At least the anarchists attempt to resolve this contradiction through positing one’s internal “desires” as the wellspring from which class consciousness, or revolutionary/insurrectionary consciousness, emerges. Thus the anarchists have something going for them as they rely on a “black box” theory of revolutionary upsurge, unscientific and idealist to be sure, but Burns doesn’t even offer this bit of minimal positive programme despite all the pretenses and flourish to really getting down to business.

We cannot just muck about with vaguely defined dual-power politics assuming this experience will coalesce at some point into a clear blueprint for revolutionary success. Only an organization comprising the most advanced and far thinking of the proletariat can lead the people to total victory. This much is made very clear by historical analysis.


More trickery, more weaponized truisms, are deployed by Burns in “Front Groups Kill the Revolution”, a piece that attacks Trotskyists, Marcyites, and Maoists as all attempting to fool the masses into following them.

Of course we must not lie to the masses, this too is a useful truism. And we do not lie to the masses in the Maoist movement; Maoists who work in mass organizations do not hide their politics or ideologies, though sometimes it is necessary to hide one’s membership in specific organizations due to the possibility of police or fascist repression. All of this seems like a non-issue. However, there is a greater deception that really will “kill the revolution” which, one way or another, Trotskyists, Marcyites, and Burns engage in.

In arguing that other groups through electioneering and “building the party” put off the question of power, Burns has herself put off the question of power, but this time by being silent in order to distance herself from those who speak falsehoods to the masses on this question—for instance the falsehoods that elections or a forever-delayed insurrection will lead to power. Burns’ position is thus a lie by omission, no less harmful and misleading than a direct lie.

It is a great and dangerous lie to tell the masses that we can have a revolution through the vague peaceful means of building dual power, and it is a similar deception to put off this question. Thus Burns engages in the same error, the same lie in the face of the people, that she claims the so-called “insurrectionists and vanguardists” engage in by putting off the great insurrection to the distant horizon of the future—but while these “insurrectionists” and “vanguardists” put off the question of the armed struggle, she completely erases it from existence! Burns can claim that having correct ideas is less important than building working class power, and that correct ideas don’t make correct politics, but at this point we wonder if Burns even believes that there are correct ideas.

We know that correct ideas come from struggle, and that these ideas in turn will help the struggle progress. The most advanced and correct forms of struggle coalesce and are enacted by the vanguard party and the advanced masses it leads. This means that if a force is rising up as the most capable of leading the struggle forward, it is labelled the vanguard. This is objective, not the subjective diabolical plotting of some shadowy “vanguardists” seeking to enter and corrupt the good, spontaneous, and participatory movements of the masses.

Of course, Maoists think M-L-M is the most correct and useful ideology for revolution. For instance we know that individual liberation struggles, i.e. national liberation, trans liberation, etc, can only go so far without being unified and thrust forward through proletarian leadership in the general revolution of the broad masses of society. Calling such beliefs, formed through struggle and study of history a “sociological phenomenon” as Burns does, calling groups with ideological unity “groupuscule[s] with a messiah complex” kicks her arguments from the realm of the political to the realm of petty mud-slinging. Indeed, the very same mud-slinging charges she brings against the RCP, Trotskyites, and the US Maoist movement could be brought against her and her loose “left unity” group the Marxist Center: you go to the masses with vague talk of “dual power” while engaging in the same economism and right-opportunism as the old opponents of Lenin and Mao. You think you can save the US Left because you’ve discovered the scientific formula for building power, which boils down to “people are congenial to us when they get what they want!” Here, too, the critique falls flat insofar as it relies on a political parallax.

Tangentially—though part of this left-in-form-right-in-essence rhetoric—in this same piece on front groups, Burns repeats a dangerous myth that the Maoist organization in Austin overlaps completely with the trans liberation group there, putting the trans activists at risk from the very active and dangerous fascists of Texas. This rumor-spreading is done in the service of speculation on the organizational lines, make-up, and sincerity of the Maoist movement in the US. There is only bad faith argument happening here; for instance, can we not more easily imagine that the trans activist group and the Maoist group in Austin came to a level of agreement and unity through struggle, debate, etc, than we can imagine that the Maoists set up a false trans organization in order to siphon the trans proletariat’s spontaneous anger into the Maoist “self-justifying sect”?


Some may say we are being un-generous or too hasty in the charge of opportunism along these lines, that arguing from a negative or missing piece of Burns’ theories (the missing theorization of revolutionary violence) towards a positive assessment (that of the presence of opportunism) is a stretch. Indeed, perhaps Burns merely discusses violence elsewhere, or only with the masses she encounters in her activist work, or via a pseudonym to avoid persecution, etc. Perhaps. But there are public intellectuals elsewhere who candidly discuss violence (Badiou and Bonanno for instance) and there are ways to discuss violence intellectually without contributing to future conspiracy cases the state will levy against us. Which is to say, we cannot always hide. This is the same form of mistake that Engels criticizes the German Social-Democrats for in using the vague and nice-sounding phrase “free people’s republic” in order to blur revolutionary ideology and appease the Prussian state.


When the question of violence does come up for Burns, as in her piece “Catharsis is Counter-Revolutionary”, it is pushed aside as a question for another time. She says the “cathartic” left just smashes stuff to feel good, or conversely just organizes self-help circles. Very well, but what of the violence which follows the mass line method for building actual dual power? What of the violence which charges first into the trench while waving to the advanced masses to follow, thus teaching the people the invaluable lesson of the necessity of revolutionary violence? Conspicuous silence, ringing in our ears like the after-effect of a nearby explosion.

Indeed, Burns says of “combat catharsis” that it “…does not engage positively with anyone who doesn’t already share its values. The defining image is an individual activist trying to be heroic. It rarely leads to the growth of roots in working-class communities or further collective action.”

What can we say about this? Other than the banal argument that street fighting often doesn’t connect with the masses, there is, again, something ominous lurking in the background: a moment before, Burns says without explanation, as if it is self-evident, violence must only be used “when it strategically makes sense — and it often doesn’t”. Thus revolutionary violence is usually not useful, and furthermore it is, for Burns, a way of reinforcing a gendered division of labor into activism, making women do reproductive activist labor while men fight the good fight in the streets.

Both these objections are, characteristically, opportunist contortions of correct positions on violence’s connection to the masses and to the women’s liberation struggle. First, the masses are itching to confront the enemy. In the workplace, in the home, in the streets. There are of course subjective and objective conditions which must be met in order for this confrontation to be successful in building revolution, but it is precisely the voice of opportunism which claims that only a small group of activists (and macho ones at that!) wishes to fight in the streets, while the masses are alienated and confused by such actions (the ISO piece on the Berkeley anti-Spencer action, for instance).

See Red Guards Pittsburgh’s piece on anti-fascist mass based action “Fight, Bleed, Win Alongside the Masses” for more on the willingness of the masses to fight, and the opportunist maneuvers to separate the masses from their weapons for liberation.

This goes as well for the supposed gendered and patriarchal division in activist circles that street fighting breeds. The macho men want to fight the fascists and the police, while the women are relegated to behind-the-scenes, banal reproductive labor. If this is the case, the issue is not with street-fighting, but with the methods of organizing these fights. Women’s liberation requires revolutionary violence, thus women must be steeled as revolutionary leaders, and part of this steeling, as with steeling the masses for battle and developing revolutionary leadership from among the masses, is through engaging in actual battles. How does one learn to fight without fighting? We must break the frankly sexist and patriarchal view that guns and boxing gloves are for men. If a group operates like this then they must be struggled with, and not through taking away their guns, but through placing the guns in the hands of women.

It is telling, engaging in symptomatic reading again, that in the piece in question Burns says combat is “radical chic”, a term coined by the reactionary writer Tom Wolfe in his anti-Black Panthers pieces, used to reduce the Panthers and their (white) supporters to sex objects.

All of this should be fairly uncontroversial for revolutionaries, as the revolution is not a dinner party. But again and again, Burns has made the revolution into a dinner party. Whether or not this dinner party takes place in a community-run garden is of no consequence.


What we find, then, is that at the centre of Burns’ project is a left-communist mis-diagnosis of the issues with the general US Left: not enough participatory democracy, too much lying to the masses, too much sectarianism and narrow orthodoxy, etc.

This spectral non-critique becomes all the more clear in Burns’ piece “You Have to Deliver” which argues that the weakness of the US Left is due in no small part to an internal contradiction and not merely external repression and the difficult conditions caused by organizing in the imperialist metropole. Very well, that much is clear for much of the left today. But Burns’ characterization of this contradiction is where things become odd: she draws a distinction between ideas and practice, the latter being the delivery mentioned in the title, and says the left has focused too much on propagating ideas and not enough on putting them into practice. Of course the masses will take up radical ideas more readily if they are shown to work in practice. This is a no-brainer.

So what is the essence of the critique at work here, then? Lasting institutions which give to the people must be built, says Burns, which can put ideas into practice and thus prove them and improve upon them in turn. This is a basic re-hashing of the Marxist theory of knowledge, but with a key bit of deception, for history shows that the best and longest-lasting revolutionary institution is the communist party (though even the Party must be challenged and eventually “withered away” through a series of cultural revolutions which attack bourgeois restorationist elements within the party and society at large). Not so for Burns. For Burns, the Party cannot serve the people; it can only trick and alienate the people. For Burns, it seems, only spontaneous and results-driven (i.e. economism-driven) institutions can avoid co-option or destruction by the state and its NGOs, etc.


There’s nothing new at work here, just the same old revisionism and dead-end opportunism that resurfaces like a corpse time and time again. For instance, let’s look quickly at a section of Harry Haywood’s study of the opportunism of the anti-Stalin revisionists in the CPUSA (a link is in the “Further Reading” section below). It is not only important in general to learn from past struggles against opportunism and revisionism, but will also help us end this analysis of Burns’ rightism without the mistaken sense that Burns, Marxist Center, and their affiliated refoundationalist groups are anything new or exciting. Forgive the relatively long quote, but we hope it will sound with a familiar peal:

“The tactics of the open liquidators, the center and the “left” conciliators were very similar. They kept trying to forestall any kind of meaningful discussion. Given Foster’s original scheme at the 16th Party Convention, the revisionists continued their effort to separate a program for mass work from any basic, fundamental discussion of line. Ben Davis and others ushered in the slogan of “let’s get to work.” “The rank and file,” Davis said in the Party Voice, “are sick and tired of internal strife, of arguing over meaningless abstractions.” I made a speech at the reconvened convention in Harlem, fighting for restoration of our revolutionary position on the Negro question and an end to tailing after the leadership of the NAACP. Davis immediately attacked me — “Left to Harry here, he and me would be left along to fighting it down to the ropes. We can’t afford that, we gotta get to work!”

We see here another related trick of the opportunists which involves the prescriptive closing-off of when theory, or line formation, is acceptable. For example, we do not need to ignore historical analysis when it comes to electioneering or attempting to work within the Democratic Party – we do not need to re-confirm today what we found out quite convincingly yesterday, that the Democratic Party is a graveyard which we should not leap into again and again. But at a certain point, theory becomes an unacceptable hindrance to the kind of “work” one wants to do. Perhaps this should give pause to consider what kind of work this is — what kind of work finds theoretical analysis useful when drawing a line of demarcation with election work or protest-oriented work, but will then consign holding lines related to the Party, to building the People’s Army, to the dictatorship of the proletariat and cultural revolution, to national liberation vs. assimilation, as going too far, as engaging in “too many study groups,” or as synonymous with “sectarianism”.

Indeed, opportunism draws the lines convenient for its kind of work but there is no coherency, no thorough principle, behind this except for finding sloppy justifications for what one already wants to do. Again, the really radical rightists will go so far as to invoke Mao on the circuit of knowledge: practice-theory-practice, as if this means that instead of basing ourselves on the accumulation of generations of practice which have clarified the battlefield, we should instead limit ourselves to starting from the “practical” point of what happens when we step outside our doors in the morning.


Where do we stand, finally?

In criticizing Burns’ conception of the mass line method of leadership, we have posed the question of what is to be done. The solution is protracted people’s war, led by the communist party as the most advanced formation of the proletariat, at the head of the broad masses. This much is clear from revolutionary history: nothing less can win us power. Not the un-scientific fooling around of the anarchists with “anti-authoritarianism”, not electoralism and reformism, and not the Burns-ian talk of the eventual creation of parallel social structures which then vaguely transform into dual power and then overcome capitalism as we somehow grow to no longer need capitalism.

While Burns has correctly diagnosed the majority of the US left as sinking and drowning in the metropole, she has proposed in drowning’s stead to merely tread water. We must instead rise up out of this left-activist cesspool by uniting with and thus leading the masses through the revolutionary struggle, upwards to ever higher stages and intensities of struggle until communism.

Further Reading: