On phony Antifascism
In response to the Austin Socialist Collective’s public statement “The Power of Unity”
The Power of Unity is a funny name for an article against fascism considering fascism gets its name from the fasces, which literally depicts the slogan “strength through unity”, a slogan at the core of all fascist ideology. We imagine this irony is lost on the authors of the ASC polemic, but it is a fitting title since what they promote ultimately serves the interest of social fascism.
We have been publicly accused of sectarianism by the local big-tent socialist organization, Austin Socialist Collective (ASC), a split from Socialist Alternative that is still a social-democratic organization and fails to measure up to the title communist in every sense of the word. Our goal in addressing these points is to expose the opportunism and rightist practice of social-democrats.
Let us start by addressing the allegation of “sectarianism.” Social-democrats, no matter the variant, all frame any form of ideological consolidation or ideological struggle as sectarianism. Two-line struggle is the motor within every communist organization that propels its political development. In fact our whole scientific method is based concretely on two-line struggle; as historical materialists we understand that human history is the history of class struggle and that two lines reflect this class struggle in the history of the International Communist Movement (ICM). This means that these “abstract historical questions” do fundamentally inform the theory which guides our practice. It is true in one sense that the masses do not concern themselves with the Great Debate or the struggle between two lines which manifested in the struggle between Stalin and Trotsky, this is because the masses are not yet communists.
Communists, on the other hand, have a responsibility to continue developing revolutionary science in the field of class struggle, putting it to the test, making corrections, etc. So these questions are of great importance to us because they are precisely where revolutionary theory exists and is taken up as a weapon for changing the world. It must be made clear that in this process of line struggle , developing, upholding , and defending revolutionary science is not “sectarianism”. The conception of sectarianism which equates it simply to having an ideology is nothing but a liberal flattening of contradictions. On one hand it is a call for unprincipled peace with the dominant revisionist-capitalist-liberal ideology within the “left”, on the other hand it is an attempt to prevent the masses from actually grasping and using Maoism, which is the science of revolution.
So what is sectarianism? Sectarianism should be understood basically as painting an entire group with the same brush; this is an error ASC exemplifies with their corny “polemic”. They have systematically ignored the diverse groups which compose and support the Maoist movement in Austin, or more precisely the composition of Red May 1st. As mentioned in previous documents, Maoists are involved in many revolutionary mass organizations while RGA is a cadre formation that is explicitly Maoist. We exist to build the explicitly Maoist Communist Party. If our cadres were sectarian it would seriously impede their ability to unify with the array of revolutionary mass organizations that composed the bulk of Red May 1st. While we will not name these groups they include trans organizations, Palestinian organizations, student organizations, anarchist organizations, community organizations, and anti-gentrification organizations. ASC feels the need to play a numbers game, as if quantity in the absence of class character was the signifier of success; this mechanical thinking stinks of revisionism and reveals that their “anti-sectarianism” is sectarianism itself only it is postured against anything with revolutionary content—dead set against any appearance of revolutionary leadership. They are sectarian to the point of using a fascist attack as political ammunition and reducing the efforts of many people to one Maoist organization they despise.
Likewise sectarianism should not be used to describe the principled stance of refusing to work with reactionary organizations, regardless of what they call themselves. Politics is a process of making demarcations and developing forces—there is no exception to this. Sectarianism refuses to look at line and content and focuses on petty quarrels; this is the way ASC has operated for some time.
Everything is ultra-left in the eyes of a rightist
ASC laughably claims that any action without a mass base is “adventurism” and in doing so they promote inaction—demanding that we fall in line with methods of expression acceptable to the ruling class. Because ASC functions as a reformist and counter-revolutionary organization their entire purpose is to fill pot holes on the capitalist road so that this system functions more smoothly, ignoring that this road has a concrete trajectory and ends with fascism. While we also struggle against fascist laws alongside our comrades in revolutionary mass organizations, we do not make reform-chasing our principle work and seek to establish communist struggles independent of the institutional left. The social-democrats however sit in the legalist rat trap of the institutional left. We should be clear that movements develop through class struggle and nothing else—we must not hesitate to struggle because we lack a mass base. On the contrary, we have accumulated forces that are developing a mass base within daring struggles. We are a fighting organization of working class people who have been melded together in the common cause of revolution. Ultra-left would mean alienating the masses . We do not do this and ASC only thinks we do because they imagine the masses to be middle-class liberals who insist on law, order, and elections; we know the masses see through this.
Paid staff of the ruling class
ASC claim to organize in the fast food industry with “no local resources”; this is because their resources come directly from the SEIU, a reactionary trade union front for the Democratic Party. A few of their members, at least one of whom is in leadership, are paid by this union to organize in this sector. They carry out their work as the paid staff of the bourgeoisie, a bourgeoisie which is in the process of developing fascism. They do not seek to establish independent working class organizations which can truly fight for the interests of our class, they seek to be incorporated into the Democratic Party apparatus that buys up workers against their own interests. This was the same attitude they had toward Socialist Alternative with big claims to change it from within—nothing more than doomed Trotskyite entryism which has failed so much historically that it seems redundant to even mention it here. We have seen numerous events where SEIU representatives bemoan the presence of hammer and sickles ruining their photo ops, where they drag out one token worker in front of a hoard of paid, middle-class representatives and the worker is coerced uncomfortably into giving a brief talk—this is what they consider effective mass work. Like every NGO before them they use whatever con they can to inflate their coffers and administer the concessions acceptable to the bourgeoisie in the interest of systemic institutional maintenance. Do not be fooled by these Mensheviks who quote Lenin or Mao.
Violence or self-defense?
These social-democrats actually want us to believe that RGA’s entire toolbox contains nothing more than guns and ammo for the purpose of fighting the state and attacking fascists. While this allegation should not be insulting to anyone capable of such a feat it does not reflect the history of our efforts. On the contrary we take on many forms of fighting fascism, evidenced by the events since May 1st. While the social-democrats write armchair rightist polemics, we have been busy in the investigation and exposure of fascists in Texas who attacked our demonstration. This list of vermin includes a cop in training, a bouncer at a local queer bar, and one fascist who has already been fired from their job at a local restaurant. Our antifascist united front and its intelligence wing is demonstrably superior to anything ASC claims to be part of yet they hope that by calling us “violent” in the liberal-bourgeois sense that it will scare supporters away from us.
Let us go into a little bit about revolutionary violence. While ASC liberally conflates “violence” with self-defense for the purpose of confusing the issue, we understand clearly that the movement which we have helped to guide and develop locally must be defended with force. This self-defense of our movement is a basic necessity in response to the material conditions of organizing in the south. We must also always prepare to defend ourselves and one another from increased state repression. Without exception resistance breeds repression from both the state and its popular fascist supporters—it is not adventurism to defend oneself from these attacks. From its safe hiding place, ASC contents itself with blaming those targeted for getting attacked by the state or fascists.
Despite their insistence that their May Day event was not targeted by fascists because of their superior numbers, it was stated plainly by the fascists themselves that their intention was to target the May Day Brigade’s event, which they understood simplistically as RGA’s event. That is to say, our event was attacked on May 1st because they gathered from around Texas for the express purpose of attacking us. ASC’s event did not avoid a confrontation with local fascists because they represented a superior force, they avoided this confrontation because the fascists never intended to target them in the first place. ASC goes to great lengths here to shift blame away from the fascists and onto the Maoists and our supporters in Austin. Which side are they on?
Mao has laid this out very clearly “I hold that it is bad as far as we are concerned if a person, a political party, an army or a school is not attacked by the enemy, for in that case it would definitely mean that we have sunk to the level of the enemy. It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves but achieved a great deal in our work”
It appears to us that ASC has sunk incredibly low and approaches the level of the enemy, therefore we consider it great that they have attacked us wildly and painted us as utterly black. They can assume rank with the enemy and let history wash them out. We issue this as our demarcation:
ASC’s liberal, social-democratic, tailist drivel shudders at the very thought of self-defense. They expect class struggle (the struggle between us and ASC is class struggle) to be safe and refined. We are not that type of “socialist”. We are communists who do not balk in the face of attack from the petty bourgeois left-wing of fascism that is represented by the ASC. Instead we see clearly which side of the picket line these fake-reds have found themselves on and we will proceed accordingly with no apology. This is not to say that we consider every single person in their organization or supportive organizations the enemy, we consider them potential friends. Nonetheless we know who the enemy is within ASC and we intend to give that enemy no quarter. As we will explain in more detail later on, we have made a number of formal attempts to prevent the contradictions between Maoists and the big-tent revisionists from turning into on-the-ground antagonism, but we accept conditions to be antagonistic at this point and will struggle accordingly as Maoists.
The intentional confusion of self-defense with violent adventurism is nothing short of a ploy to give cover to fascism and insist on docile methods of protest which actually cede ground to the far-right and leave the left in a state of institutional politics—disarmed and nonthreatening. In this way ASC has confirmed itself as the left wing of fascism. Our coalition march on May 1 was singled out for attack by fascists and due to having even numbers we made the correct decision to take a purely defensive position and extract all the people in attendance safely. Had we been “adventurists” as ASC claims we surely would have gone on the attack. Our tactics of defense were correct. While ASC would demand that we not march on May Day and instead agree to liquidate into their White institutional May Day event, this was not acceptable to any group in our Red May Day coalition. Instead of coming to aid the revolutionaries and antifascists who were attacked, ASC committed to attacking the antifascists, using what they assumed incorrectly to be a sweeping fascist victory to their own opportunistic benefit—this is nothing short of betrayal. They are a liability to all antifascist work in Austin and the snake which lives in your back yard is the one most likely to bite you.
No investigation no right to talk shit
These fake socialists choose this time to attack an independent organization which started as an initiative of RGA, Serve The People-Austin (STP-A). They attempt to swindle their readers and speak with authority on the content of STP-A, so we should spend a moment briefly detailing how they came to this conclusion. ASC has never had an official relationship or working understanding of STP-A. All they have done was send in one member, a bourgeois white boy from the rich suburb of Westlake , to our zip code. Our part of the city is opposite to Westlake in every way and so this ASC member was out of his comfort zone to begin with and he stood out like a sore thumb when he attended only one of the STP free stores. He claimed to be volunteering but failed to do any work, either with the masses or with the set up and administration of the store. Instead he tried to pick arguments with anyone he thought might be a Maoist about People’s War and when they chose to not engage with this silly behavior and continued the work the ASC member got bored and after about ten minutes went back to rich kid land. This one interaction is the totality of ASC’s investigation into the revolutionary community organization which they denounce. If this one Mayo-Trot was their idea of the masses then we should all be glad that he did not stick around.
ASC goes on to state that STP-A is a concrete failure due to the fact that it does not embrace the tired and worn out methods of organizing of ASC and the rest of the institutional legal-left. We understand that we must learn through doing and that this process is one of advances and retreats. They expect us to believe that tailing the SEIU is correct mass work but developing independent service programs free of NGO agendas is both “ultra-left” and doomed to charity. In reality STP-A has been responsible for developing many into Maoists; it has provided not only material aid but political education to its membership, its volunteer base, and the masses in the community. Of course this has not developed a massive support base but it has helped to make Maoism one of the most dominant ideologies in the Austin left , which has left a bitter taste in the mouth of petty social-democrats like ASC. They ignore the actual composition of STP-A and do not feel the need to investigate beyond one account of one white boy. In reality the revolutionary mass members of STP have been lumped in with RGA completely because they have been politically developed into new Maoists. When they appear at demonstrations they are also prepared to wear masks that signify the fight for socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. These comrades are working class and an example of the masses grasping political theory—they do not cease to be masses the moment they become activists. We ourselves are critical of certain aspects of STP, but we are confident that those comrades can overcome their shortcomings as true revolutionaries and do not share the bitter cynicism of ASC.
Actual not make-believe instances of patriarchy
Our supporters (not our cadres) have engaged directly in struggle against the lies and bad-mouthing parroted by men in ASC , including several founding members and one of their most public leaders. It is our hope that the “diverse three-quarters” of their leadership who have not engaged in attacking antifascists can criticize and discipline these men, if they cannot or won’t then our supporters will gladly take up the charge of exposing and combating their reactionary views. ASC exposes their own patriarchy by stating the following:
“Some of our male members are more visible and vocal online than our female or non-binary leaders, but equating online volume and visibility with leadership is a reflection of patriarchal prioritization of those skills at the expense of the tremendous offline work our non-male leadership has done in building relationships with other organizations, speaking publicly, planning and leading actions, coordinating meetings, organizing phone banks, and producing political literature.”
This is a concrete example of patriarchy manifesting in their organization. It is a mechanism of patriarchy in phony leftist organizations that the organizational burden of reproductive labor is placed on the shoulders of women and non-men while white men (especially but not exclusively) hog up the limelight, pose as public faces, and posture as authorities online. The labor of the white men is freed up for such activity through nothing other than the patriarchy itself while women in the back are forced to be the modest workers, the unsung heroes who actually hold together the organization. The fact that ASC has not identified this trap speaks volumes to their level of theoretical development. All this productive labor forced onto oppressed genders and no accountability for loud mouthed men is not exactly an argument that ASC is an example of proletarian feminism. We extend support to those women and non-men comrades should they attempt to combat this in their organization in an effort to hold the hot air bags accountable for their outrageous internet conduct including: a white male leader publicly dead-naming an antifascist activist with her government issued name, exposing her to both doxxing and serious assault from the far right, members of ASC claiming that our comrade who was nearly killed by the pigs who broke his C3 and C4 vertebrae and denied him medical attention was just “faking it”, and the systemic erasure of our comrades in RATPAC who were specifically targeted by violence from fascists for being trans in all ASC commentary. This antagonistic and patriarchal behavior exhibited by members of ASC actually serves to contradict the hard behind-the-scenes work of their own women and non-men comrades who should not be burdened with such idiotic bad elements.
Bourgeois and proletarian concepts of unity
ASC prattles on some revisionist nonsense about political unity, which for them means erasing line struggle and casting aside ideology and the scientific method of making revolution. “Political unity” is just social-democratic jargon to cover for their refusal to spread communism, for their failure to work as revolutionary communists. Most importantly, for them political unity means becoming the administrators of the bourgeoisie, becoming the safe “left” alternative to dangerous extremists in the Maoist movement. Every place where Maoism has spread it faces this exact attack, and it is in the core of our being Maoists that we expose and fight revisionism. Their phony united front is nothing short of forced class collaboration with the system itself.
In the Maoist sense, a United Front requires both independent communist forces which do not cede their autonomy as well as communist leadership which does not tail the other alien class organizations. The party and the communist organization is the concrete organizational expression of the working class and it is the only force which serves that class. A United Front is first and foremost a temporary unity of opposites, a temporary cross class alliance led by the proletariat. It is not a class collaboration which tails the bourgeois institutions and NGOs who actively poison the masses against revolution. This class collaboration and conciliation promoted by ASC is the type of hardcore revisionism which has set the left back in this country immeasurably. Following this model will get the same results which have brought us right to the brink of fascism. If we wish to avoid that grisly fate then we must also avoid the revisionist model that can only serve the interests of developmental fascism.
Not a dinner party
Often in their “polemic” they cite safety and doing things safely, as if revolution and class struggle have ever been safe ventures. Their play-it-safe model of class struggle clearly represents the interest of one specific class and it is not the working class which they serve. Proletarians have many ways to fight but since bourgeois democracy still means democracy for the bourgeoisie and suppression of the proletariat most of those ways exist outside of state institutions. ASC’s purpose is to corral and force workers back into these institutions in the interest of blocking any rebellion and being good managers on the ground. They want to show the pig system what a good job they do keeping the riff-raff workers in line. All states are nothing more than the exercise of class power—the state here is no different , especially in conditions of developmental fascism. In this way ASC leads the working class on the path of defeat.
Quality and quantity
ASC boast of “big numbers” which reflect simply the pull of organizations with paid staff who get their checks cut from the ruling class. These cretins cannot make revolution—it is not in their job description. Their numerical draw is directly connected to playing friends with other poverty administrators. Again it speaks volumes that this big crowd which they boast of was not mobilized to halt fascists from openly marching in our city but instead was used to create a counter event which refused materially to mobilize against fascists, giving the professed fascists what amounts to a marching permit. This perfectly displays not only the class stand of ASC but its class interests as well, its material interests in allowing the fascists to march against and attack those on the left whom these legalist scum feel rightly threatened by. They found a common friend in fascism via seeing us as the enemy.
This same contradiction traces back to the November 19th action which they reference opportunistically in their statement. Let’s unpack this briefly: the confrontation with “White Lives Matter” was organized by a coalition of organizations who oppose fascism and at the time this coalition wrongly included ASC, one of two organizations we no longer work together with on this project. Every coalition planning meeting around the event had a majority of revolutionary communists and the social-democrats were an annoying minority. They violated democratic decisions by declaring the action “100% legal” and condemning a diversity of antifascist tactics. They even went so far as to have their members temporarily hijack the event page and directly message those attending to not wear masks and telling folks coming not to open carry. It was democratically determined in the meetings that we would encourage the use of masks and that we would neither encourage nor discourage open carry, that it would be the prerogative of those attending to do so and do so responsibly. ASC even attempted to use the comrade who was assaulted by the pigs (who they have since said was faking it) as a pretext to discourage militancy at the demonstration. This was particularly insulting to us as we knew well that this comrade was outraged his injuries would be used as anything other than encouragement to others to fight even harder against the system which placed him in the ICU.
Failed attempts at principled discussion
We have made multiple honest efforts to reach out to ASC to deliver our criticisms and concerns, both before and immediately after May 1st, in the interest of preventing escalating antagonism on both sides and out of a desire to struggle for common ground in which tactical unity could block fascist movements. Those attempts were one-sided and with no effort from ASC they of course fell through. Ultimately their members could not help themselves from politically siding with fascists to push their toxic rightist lines. Their rightist, institutional, professional politician approach to organizing has found bedfellows within the “Maoist” movement itself as they have been collaborating for some time with a specific group in Saint Louis that has an ax to grind with Austin Maoists. What they have done for months is an attempt to reestablish rightist, liberal, and social-democrat hegemony in the Austin left by attacking our collective. They stand in direct opposition to the formation of the Maoist Party. They found their golden opportunity to gloat over antifascists being attacked in the streets and have found themselves squarely on the wrong side of history. We discourage any support for ASC at this time and will only concede to on-the-ground support against direct attacks from organized fascists; there can be no collaboration with them, no endorsement, and no unity. If ASC actually came under physical attack by the far-right we would temporarily cease our struggle against them, attempt to neutralize the threat and then resume our struggle. We see this as unlikely since they hid from the fascists last time and pushed liberalism the time before that. They represent a return to Austin liberalism—we fight for a path to communism.
No to big-tent revisionism
No to fascism and its twin sibling social-democracy
-Red Guards Austin, May 2017