While the loss of Signalfire as a resource is not something we celebrate, we must also understand that as a project it is easily replaceable. We must also state that our domestic Maoist movement is not weakened by ideological deserters, who in essence are just opportunists who have finally stopped calling themselves Maoists. Things develop through rupture—one divides into two—this is a truth confirmed in daily struggle. The editor of Signalfire has provided us with a concise confession of such ideological degeneration that we feel it merits a public response. Over time we have found Signalfire to be a really useful resource for spreading news of revolutionary struggles to people in other places—this has been helpful and reflected good internationalist values. The editor’s confession is nothing but an attack on Maoism and a refusal to continue in its internationalist tradition.
The editor chose an interesting image to accompany their confessional and revisionist propaganda, a painting titled “The Black Circle” by artist Kazimir Malevich painted in 1915. This seems innocent enough on the surface, but the painting perfectly represents the article in question. Malevich believed his paintings to reflect traditional Russian piety, he further stated that it represented a “desperate struggle to free art from the ballast of the objective world.” This article, a delusional work of fiction, is most certainly free from the ballast of the objective world. A taste for bourgeois modern art that appears divorced from the class struggle is no crime in and of itself, but when the art is used in “communist” propaganda we must examine it deeper. All art represents a class and a set of class interests, and this art as well as the article both sought to accomplish the same goal of obscuring the class struggle. It is no wonder the author chose this artist who was allegedly “persecuted by Stalin” for a piece that doubles the attack on Maoism with a side of condemnation for comrade Stalin. But enough with art, let’s discuss the other fabrications.
The first is the obfuscation around the nature of the project itself. While the author insists that ..
“This website has always been the personal project of a single individual in the United States since it began its current incarnation five years ago.”
.. We know that at one point it was presented as a media project of the Maoist Communist Group, meaning any personal involvement was subordinate to a collective overall. The project is now out of their hands, so it follows that the editor’s issue is not so much that they don’t wish to devote their time and effort to maintaining the project, but moreso sees it as a project not worth undertaking. Or more accurately, that the editor is now actively opposed to the project’s formerly professed aim, without any critical analysis of their own involvement over the past five years. They have quite simply washed their hands of it and moved on. Otherwise this could have easily been turned over to a different collective that could carry the responsibility of managing it.
The editor then goes on to issue wild allegations that at no point does he attempt to substantiate:
“I no longer consider the so called ‘International Communist Movement’ with its proliferation of cultish microsects and blind worship of failed past movements to be worth promoting.”
The departure point of this accusation rests on not applying dialectical materialism to the movement and growth of communism, almost parodying the “end of history” narrative. Any setbacks or failures cannot simply be pointed to as self-evident justifications of defeatism. They must analyzed in order to extract the lessons for a future success. This is the real essence of continuity and rupture, the essence of Maoism itself. While expressing a moderate level of sympathy with the armed struggle in India, the author finds it fitting to throw those comrades under the bus out of some vague grievance with the International Communist Movement (ICM) as a whole.
This error in thinking is crystallized in the statements of the Virginia branch of the Maoist Communist Group (which later liquidated into the Richmond Struggle Committee Initiative [RSCI]), where they extensively quote from the ultra-left Italian adventurists Brigate Rossi, including their “total social war” nonsense. This has been detailed in a statement issued by their former comrades in Boston. In both instances the author as well as RSCI are negating the ideological and political role of the party as the leading force and have slipped into what we can only call a militarist fetish. On the whole Signalfire has over time degenerated into only covering articles detailing military operations and through this total subjectivist viewpoint it has sunk totally into demoralization and defeatism.
The military aspect is important but it is only one aspect of a revolution. The article drifts further into the foul and desperate realm of ultra-leftism by its claim that Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, an ideology which guides the most advanced sections of the worlds proletariat in the highest expressions of class struggle, is nothing but “theological idealism.” This anti-people arrogance is in essence an assertion that the communist parties who fight for communism and have lost many martyrs in that fight are nothing but misled, tricked, or simply fools. This same dictum can be found in countless bourgeois orientalist articles that compare the Asian masses to a hive mind. We suppose they just lack the overfed intellect of the former Signalfire editor. This editor even claims that
“If considered realistically the Cultural Revolution is a defining event of 20th century politics which marks the implosion of both state socialism as a mode of capital accumulation and the Leninist party as a political structure in correspondence with this.”
This display of gross individual intellectualism is claiming here to have developed a new synthesis based solely on his misinterpretation of the conclusion of the GPCR! And this would not be complete without regurgitating the tales of a “Stalinist continuation” that were put forth in the sham of a document “Bloom and Contend” by Chino, who was himself guilty of regurgitating old Trotskyite polemics against Mao Zedong Thought. The former editor has here managed not only to throw out the baby with the bath water but has given up on bathing altogether, so to speak.
As if that were not enough, he writes,
“Regardless of such differences the importance of defending comrades who are sacrificing their lives to defend popular survival rights against genocidal counter-insurgency policies is clear.”
We agree to the importance of defending these comrades and are at a loss at how the closing of the website combined with an anti-Maoist smear piece in any way is defending our comrades in India. We assume that the author does not fancy his efforts so much that he thinks he is capable of physically defending the comrades in question, so that leaves only ideologically defending them, which is the opposite of what he is doing here. This is classic opportunism and it rings out loud and clear. The author even boldly states the irrelevancy of the ICM to class struggle in the countries in which it exists. This reflects one of the worst understandings you could hope to find held by a so-called communist. The communist movement in these places and elsewhere is not irrelevant; the communist organizations are the organizations of the proletariat without which revolution is impossible, and his distortion and negation of this fact only means that for all his bluster he cannot see a thing in motion. Rather he views matter in stasis, which is anything but a Marxist, proletarian worldview. This is a foul standard among the ranks of revisionists of all stripes and is in the backpack of every traitor, deserter, and bitter ex-comrade. While the author might have some marginal sympathy left for the CPI (Maoist), he exposes his fair-weather support in the fact that this marginal sympathy is—at best—only based on what the Maoists in India oppose. He is clearly not a supporter of what they are for: the continuation of protracted people’s war, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the continuation of revolution through socialism to communism.
While accusing the Maoist movement the world over of metaphysics, this charlatan and swindler is the true practitioner of metaphysics with his casual calls for “post-socialism.” The real metaphysics is subordination to the dogmatism of movements that denies the need for the vanguard party. This movementist dogma is a perpetual dead end and has not produced even small victories. This clinging to movements is exactly what has dominated the imperialist centers in a world post-socialism. We will not champion a return to such trash thinking and are sincerely glad that this fake communist no longer parades as a “Maoist.” Good riddance!
The author then gives us a little bit more to work with:
“simply the necessity of systematic and rigorous theoretical work beginning from the basic materialist premises and united with modest and serious intervention in social reality.”
These modest but serious interventions would no doubt be carried out by RSCI, a non-tendency mass organization in one locality. The problems with this irrational thinking are too numerous to list, but include chiefly a reversion to empiricism, movementism, and left-refoundationism. The RSCI has also negated the leading role of the vanguard party or pre-party organization after their split with the Maoist Communist Group. It appears to be their position that there was no area where they were wrong and that in fact it is building the party itself that is wrong, and they thus reduce themselves to a politically neutralized activist club. You can attend other people’s demonstrations and even organize your own every day of the week and still end up begging for crumbs and being crushed to death by capitalism. Unless you give any of this meaning by building a party that can take power, you are doing nothing of value for the communist cause. Party-building is still the principal task of all revolutionary communists within the USA.
The author, former editor, and charlatan traitor states,
“Western Maoism on the other hand is simply irrelevant and the sooner people realize this, the sooner we can begin developing a communist politics which relates to 21st century reality.”
Here he tries to imply that there are two distinct Maoisms: one of the East and one of the West. After already saying the ICM was irrelevant in general, this maneuver is an attempt at denying that MLM was ever universal. Puzzling, since if he were ever a Maoist he would have understood that the universality of Maoism as the third and highest stage of Marxism is kind of the crux of our whole ideology. But of course it’s just not “relevant” to him, but for whom is it particularly relevant? Certainly it is to the thousands who fight for it, who use it to inform their practice so that it does not grope in the dark. But alas, it is irrelevant to this one guy in an activist troupe out in Virginia. What is relevant to him is vague ultra-left communism and whatever the hell “post-socialism” is…
We could not be more disappointed with this garbage conclusion to an otherwise good project. However we have already pointed to this trajectory in our last report detailing the progress of our party-building efforts in the form of RGA cadre school, where we stated, “Some comrades have abandoned MLM altogether, and it is our hope that we will win them back through practice and persuasion.” We should add that not all can be won back to the cause. Some are too arrogant and others were just pretending to be Maoists to begin with.
We expect no response to this piece and doubt the author of the last post on Signalfire or their organization would care enough to provide one. We do not fault comrades for getting disheartened or demoralized. Sometimes these kinds of burnout are inevitable and we should help those suffering from burnout. What we cannot find acceptable or tolerable is propagating defeatism and demoralization to conclude years of work (without any self-criticism or reflection of individual involvement!), projecting your burnout onto others, and trying to discredit Maoism unprincipledly. Signalfire, when it began to become a Maoist-inspired project back in 2011, posted a piece from this same author titled “A Farewell to Ultra-left Idealism.” Unfortunately it has come back full circle to ultra-left idealism, so this is our farewell to Signalfire. We await new sites that will serve its former use as a resource for news and theory from comrades in other places of the world, minus the individualist and arrogant ramblings of that editor. And should the editor read this, we thank you for knowingly or unknowingly helping in the creation of many Maoists who were inspired by the news articles you made available. We all look forward to proving you wrong in practice. If our response seems unnecessarily harsh to readers, we find that the framing of ideological struggle as sectarianism is behavior fitting of liberals who would gut the International Communist Movement of the hard-earned lessons learned in class struggle. This vile and opportunist behavior merits such a pointed response.
MLM lives, long live MLM!
-Red Guards Austin 2016