Commentary on the one-year summation of the Austin Socialist Collective
A whole year of nothing
After our recent article analyzing the failed attempt at deplatforming right-wingers led by Austin Socialist Collective on August 18, 2018, we have decided to publish our political response to ASC’s semi-private one-year summation, which we received in March of this year; our original polemic was written in April and May. Until now this analysis has remained an internal document. We have updated it to conform to post-writing developments.
We were motivated to publically publish this document by ASC’s involvement in the counter-demonstration against the right-wing march on August 18. Not only did they not accomplish their goals, but they also failed to in any way advance the class consciousness of the people attending the counter-demonstration, in effect failing to politicize antifascism adequately.
“Towards the end of 2017 Austin Socialist Collective (ASC) found itself on the brink of dissolution. Recognizing the need for our continued work, committed members began a process of self-examination, and now self-criticism and rectification. We have written this summation in order to help identify our errors—as well as our successes—so that others may learn from them and help to build a revolution that can end capitalism in our lifetimes.” (ASC summation, 2018)
The Austin Social(fasc)ist collective has produced a document titled “ASC Summation and Self-Criticism.” Ironically this document stands as a double attack against the local Maoist-led movement in Austin: On one hand it perpetuates their lies about the movement by doubling down on their errors. On the other hand it offers a deflection in the form of admitting to the very same errors we have pointed out numerous times in person and through polemics while pretending that their “genuine” efforts provided them a new way forward.
Due to the fact that this document was produced and shared in secret, it does not actually allow for rectification or seek to make amends with revolutionaries who have long criticized many of the points they hollowly self-criticize on now. In the end, it only continues to hold tight to the errors that make them irredeemably revisionist as an organization. Now they have shifted up and are trying to poach several fronts we operate on, trying to appear militant and even dressing like us at their actions. They have deleted old articles that call us “ultra-left adventurists” for promoting armed self-defense and physical confrontation against fascism. They insult the people by assuming they have a short memory, and are now trying to promote physical confrontation and armed self-defense (albeit from a revisionist perspective). While changing an incorrect position is a good thing, it is incorrect to refuse to seek unity with the revolutionaries who have struggled against your previous positions. This only shows that they are sectarian, and unwilling to self-criticize and unite with our correct political line. Instead they traffic in hollow phrases and wish to be perceived as a militant group when they are little more than reformists with an anti-Communist agenda.
A brief note on the national question
One of our most firm positions against ASC was their constitutional reformism, which wholesale liquidated the national question and ignored the settler-colonial history of the United States. We accused them of settler-socialism:
“In a document produced by ASC about “fascism,” they continually argue for the protection and preservation of bourgeois democracy, not arguing once for proletarian revolution. This alone is a huge problem that helps to earn them the slur of social fascist. To make it more obvious to anyone paying attention, ASC continually refers to the US as ‘our country’ and its government as ‘our government.’ This wording is not accidental or circumstantial: for a self-congratulating, mostly white, all-liberal organization, the US truly is their country. It was violently colonized for them. This same political line has led them down so many reformist paths that we lose count, but one instance that stands out is their short-lived campaign of trying to ‘re-write the Texas constitution,’ as if the masses themselves who overwhelmingly do not even participate in local elections have a burning desire for a reworded Texas Constitution. We have little to no interest in the content of our enemy’s constitution in occupied Aztlan. Our interest is firmly with the oppressed nations and their right to self-determination!”
“While they do not have public articles about the topic of self-determination and consciously avoid its mention, ASC members have often on the local level outright denied the existence of internal colonies. They have denied that Black people from the US constitute an oppressed nation at all. While they make no denial that Black people are specifically oppressed, they attribute this to liberal definitions of racism that do not account for oppressed nations. Their conception of “socialism” is one that leaves the settler-colonial project intact, enforcing an unaltered US border—making them the new wardens of the prison house..” (“Opportunism vs. Maoism,” a polemic against revisionist Christopher Winston)
ASC of course have reversed their stance on this matter, but for years as we put our criticism forward (even when we enjoyed positive relations with them when they were still Socialist Alternative) they called us “sectarian” and “nationalists.” According to a more recent Facebook post from their official organ,
“As communists we oppose imperialism, racism, settler colonialism, and all forms of exploitation. We recognize the right of all nations to exercise self-determination, free from the influence or control of more powerful countries. But this raises a serious question: if we liberate the nations trapped under the US political and economic systems, if we cut off the source of its wealth and power by ending imperialism, if we undo its key principle of social organization in racism, if we make amends for the crimes of our settler past and decolonize the continent for real—returning control of these lands to the nations from which we stole them—what are we left with?”
“The full answer will only come by completing those tasks, but one thing is clear: we won’t have the United States any more. We must recognize that there is no just future in which the United States continues to exist, and everything that we can do to hasten the day when it disappears from the earth once and for all is a step forward towards true freedom.” (“There will never be a socialist USA,” ASC Facebook note)
Good—they have changed their former white-supremacist position! Good—they no longer see the US as “their country.” We only wish to reiterate that our struggle against the line they once held was in the overall interests of the proletariat and the oppressed nations of the US prisonhouse of nations, and that it was not “sectarian.”
The history of ASC
We once spoke of the Austin branch of Socialist Alternative as a left pole within the countrywide organization. We sought to encourage this trend and bring people we believed were potential comrades further left. This was an error on our part that led to brief coordination with them and the forming of left-wing blocs within large demonstrations locally. But of course the severe ideological, political, and practical issues of being friendly with revisionists eventually made itself felt. At every opportunity ASC acted as opportunists, liberals, and worse.
According to their summation:
“The organization also took a great deal of interest in connecting our work to the historic roots of Texas politics, namely the Reconstruction experience. This position was elaborated in a document called “Fighting for Our Jubilee” and the ideas were presented in a public meeting two months after the Regional Conference called “Building Power for Texas Workers: Socialism for the South.” Note that the study took no account of Texas’ settler colonialist character or the legacy of Native genocide and ethnic cleansing in the state.” (ASC summation, 2018)
By “connecting our work to the historic roots of Texas politics” they mean that they created a totally reformist campaign that accomplished nothing in its attempts to oppose the Texas Constitution. They could not (and still cannot) look past bourgeois politics and grasp proletarian politics. In their summation they reluctantly admit that none of this activity considered settler-colonialism or indigenous genocide, making their historical roots those of their ancestors—settlers. This white chauvinism was a key point that we have focused on in our past polemics, because it reflects both the membership and the ideology of ASC. Their reluctant confession is unaccompanied by any attempt at rectification or true self-criticism for the political lines that gave birth to this ignorance. We expect ASC to keep ignoring our criticisms, pretending they are inaccurate or “sectarian,” only to reluctantly admit the truth later as if they just figured it out on their own—in vain and feeble attempts to save face—all while making no fundamental changes to their political line. This is the common thread throughout their whole document.
While the Maoist movement was blooming, ASC whined about the difficulty they had getting anyone to seriously study. Their leadership has failed to offer political education—this is not for nothing—it is due to their eclecticism and failure to be serious revolutionaries. They admit to that very eclecticism and opportunism when they state that “as the basic study program broke down each branch took up whatever study they wished.” After all, social democrats are known for their severe lack of discipline and lack of centralism, which breeds this eclectic approach to the study of theory.
Without having bothered to seek ideological consolidation in favor of allowing for a continued eclecticism, ASC would go on to tail everything from the SEIU to local NGO’s and bourgeois activist organizations, all while slandering Maoists as sectarian for not marching lock-step with them into the bog.
They claim one of their picket actions “occupied a store and forced a police response.” We admit that this sounds very nice coming from them. However, this event was located in the proletarian neighborhood and some of our supporters and our masses were there and testify to the fact that all ASC did was stand in the restaurant and leave the premises the minute the police arrived. This is no more an occupation than going through a drive-through and not ordering anything. No citations were given, no attempts were made to actually hold the space (a prerequisite for an action becoming an occupation)—they just went in for a few minutes and then left without incident. ASC has never in all of their existence stood up to the police or disobeyed police orders. This distortion might fool their friends on the internet, but it does not fool us or the people of the 41! ASC to this day embellishes every activity and lies to their internet and local audiences.
Ideological disparity and imbalance of power in the hands of bad leadership are things ASC admits to, yet these errors continue. They also still lack a long-term strategy: they never explicitly state whether they support the strategy of People’s War specifically or even armed struggle generally. What they have accomplished is the formation of a little tailist club that should not be seen as a collective. ASC claims they organized May Day of 2017 with “labor and left liberal organizations.” This is a nice way to state that they tried to create a pole by collaborating with local politicians, NGOs, Trotskyites, and other revisionists. This established White May Day in an effort to pull forces away from the already-established Red May Day events of previous years. At the time of this writing we have seen no evidence that White May Day managed to survive into the next year in spite of their claims that it was a success. Red May Day however continued with its fourth consecutive year.
ASC still claims that the fascists who targeted the antifascist march on May 1, 2017, “found our demonstration too large to take on.” There is evidence presented in our past polemic, “Developmental Fascism and Its Modern Twin”, that proves that the fascists had specifically set out looking to target the Maoists, and that it was never part of the plan to go harass people just hanging out on the lawn of the capitol. ASC fails to grasp their part both in seeking to create a pole on May 1 and in trying to capitalize on what they mistakenly viewed as a fascist triumph. Their opportunism intact, they will speak out of both sides of their mouths to whoever might entertain them.
Carrying on from May Day, ASC continued tailing SEIU and local city council member Greg Casar. While ASC admits to the error of tailing NGOs, yellow unions, and bourgeois city politics, this confession is hollow. It was none other than this same persistent determination to be rightists that gave birth to the sharp contradictions between them and the Maoist movement. Their rightist approach of playing nice with the city has diverted any potential for them to be something other than class enemies—class enemies who, in the name of “non-tendency” organizing, seek to force class collaboration under the guise of socialism—earning them the title of social fascists.
We could not hope for a greater testimony of ASC’s rightist approach to organizing than what comes out of their own mouths: “It soon became clear to other members that much of ASC’s work was shared by and being made redundant by DSA, and that DSA was doing it with more members and greater resources.”, proving conclusively that all their work up to this point was nothing but reformist electioneering and bourgeois politicking. Clearly a two-line struggle developed in ASC leadership as to how much to tail and whether to liquidate or maintain the lie that they are a Communist organization.
ASC claims to be to the left of DSA and to the right of Maoists. They foolishly see this centrism as the correct course when in reality the differences between them and the DSA are minute and a matter of public image and personality of leadership—in essence they are alike. They maintain the view that RGA and anyone else to their left are reckless adventurists—yet we have bloomed while they wilted, we have steadily grown and expanded our efforts with greater national unity, while they have “found [themselves] on the brink of dissolution…”
Their position is that anything that accrues political repression is adventurist. Our position remains that repression breeds resistance and that that rebellion will always be repressed by the bourgeoisie, because unlike ASC we combat the bourgeoisie and do not collaborate with them or bow down to their decrees. We resist arrest while they avoid ever doing anything that could get them arrested. They call us “ultra-leftists” while trying to become a revised version of our organization. Instead of seeking unity on agreed-upon political bases through struggle they only call us “sectarian” for criticizing them.
Eclecticism leads to lack of strategy, poor discipline, and class collaboration
While their summation was being quietly released ASC began the process of once again rebranding themselves, putting on a new coat of red paint over their hard white exterior (now politically reflected in their use of black masks during their attempts to imitate us). This should not fool anyone and should be seen as opportunistically trying to tail the work the Maoists have long been entrenched in.
It becomes clear that ASC had no idea whether they were seeking to form a party and if so what type of party they wished to form. This is a basic question that an organization should already have figured out—it is the reason for such an organization’s existence. ASC tried and failed numerous times to deter others from supporting the Maoist Party-building effort in Austin. They used red-baiting and anti-Communism in these gambits when it suited the sensibilities of the bourgeoisie who hold the other end of their leash. They claim to not have figured out whether their “party” would be local or countrywide. A basic understanding of Marxism however makes it clear that a local “party” that doesn’t exist outside of the Austin area is not a Party! They are not capable of making revolution, and making revolution has never been on ASC’s agenda.
By acknowledging this disorientated “leadership,” ASC hopes to justify what they have always been denounced for—being narrow ecomomists. Books and articles produced by Lenin on this topic over 100 years ago already cut the Mensheviks from the Bolsheviks, but ASC demand that this be reenacted in Austin, with them playing the part of Martov (prominent Menshevik leader) and his clique.
ASC complains of burnout, yet it is their ideology and politics that burn people out, exactly like those of their counterparts in conventional activist circles who have constructed nothing but a revolving door that demoralizes and or corrupts newcomers. ASC is firmly part of this tradition in Austin, and even with all their redecoration this has not changed. If ASC has genuinely self-criticized on the various points we have attacked them for, and they wish to embrace militant proletarian organizing, then they must also address their eclectic rejections of Maoism, their embrace of revisionism, and so on; and they must cease hostility and come to the table for political and ideological struggle to find common ground with Maoists if they ever hope for support or cooperation. The reality is they are a counterrevolutionary clique led by an ego-driven professional NGO con-artist who wishes to replace the Maoist movement with one that is more favorable to the bourgeoisie.
The confused and opportunist relationship between ASC and FF15
According to ASC FF15 was the only trench that they took up, and FF15 was in the exclusive control of one member and his supporters. We do not deny this, and think it comes close to honesty; however, ASC seeks to shovel all its refuse onto one of its former leaders now that he has left the group. Back when this leader was being exposed as a revisionist in part by us, ASC circled the wagons to protect him, rejecting any and all criticism. But now it is convenient for them to pass their shortcomings off on him even though the remaining leaders are also professional administers of poverty in the pocket of ruling-class NGOs. The current and former leaders are all cut from the same cloth and all developed from a long history of capitulation.
“In Texas (or any other state in the south), a minimum wage/labor campaign faces unfriendly legislatures and courts,” laments ASC. In the real world all revolutionary labor organizing—organizing that falls outside ASC’s narrow scope of reformism—faces unfriendly legislatures and courts. The legislation and judicial systems are both part of the State, and the State is a dictatorship of one class to suppress another (a fact ASC avoids in their resistance to accepting MLM). ASC is still operating under the notion of compromise instead of revolutionary principles. We Communists know that it is right to rebel. We will always face unfriendly class enemies, because the moment we extend our demands past narrow economist ones, our actions become unacceptable to the bourgeoisie. We stand firmly behind the construction of the vanguard Party; we stand for developing and leading a United Front and for the building of a Red Army to protect these accomplishments.
ASC buckles despite facing no repression, and they have never considered building a revolutionary organization. In practical terms they stand opposed to all revolutionary organizations in the area by continuing to seek to create a pole and defame us as adventurists. Adventurism (to exhaust the point) is when organizations launch premature armed struggle or engage in actions that go far ahead of the masses. This scare term is often deployed against Maoists by ASC, while the Maoist movement focuses itself on “base building” (mass work), cadre development, internationalism, and the Party-building effort. No one has yet suggested that we launch armed struggle without the existence of the Party, United Front, and Red Army. ASC sees anything at all confrontational or militant as “adventurist” because they cannot see reality past their own stubborn and persistent rightism.
When we accused ASC of having a revisionist leadership that dominated their “mass work” and led them all to tail the SEIU, we were called out-of-touch adventurists. We are still called out-of-touch adventurists even now that reality has slapped them across the face and they try to shovel their excrement onto former members. This is neither self-criticism nor rectification. Their current leading personalities are Trots and lobbyists who are not substantially different from the former leadership. If anything they have proven themselves to be even less committed to the people and revolution. The old leader has moved to the DSA, and what is left is half as competent—which is a remarkable feat in incompetency.
Lack of direct action
ASC boasts, “We have demonstrated a real ability to mobilize people to demonstrations on short notice.” To evidence this they cite a demonstration “against US imperialism” that was in fact not against imperialism but against the war on Syria. We insist that there is a major difference between an anti-imperialist protest and an anti-war protest. At this demonstration ASC invited speakers from the Trotskyite International Socialist Organization, who for years have been faithful servants of US imperialism and have gone so far as to endorse the Free Syrian Army, who are nothing short of bandits engaged in a number of anti-people activities, who have been armed by US imperialism in its efforts to further destabilize Syria in the context of an inter-imperialist proxy war. ASC saw no contradiction in “mobilizing” these people to carry out the “direct action” of walking around in the crosswalks—failing to take the street—and other behavior acceptable to the city and its ruling class. Other mobilizations occurred in instances where they tailed either Maoists or NGOs. At no point have they looked past the number of people who came out to such questions as the quality of the crowd, how the numbers and energy interact, the ability and willingness of those mobilized to engage in open class struggle, and so on. At no point have they ever produced a single independent demonstration that did not include tailing other left groups or yellow unions. Their attempted mobilizations go up in smoke.
In the midst of their distortions, they admit that they have not trained or developed women fighters. They claim that this is due to “uneven development along gender lines” that “is symptomatic of a patriarchal society.” This is a clever way of refusing to acknowledge not only their own patriarchal views but also their failure to organize confrontations. All leaders, including women leaders, are developed in class struggle, through large and small confrontations with the class enemy, confrontations that ASC systematically avoids or pushes against. With this pattern of behavior intact, ASC will never develop militants, let alone women militants, as the Austin Maoist movement has done. For an organization which genuinely embraces proletarian feminism, and women’s right to revolutionary violence, cultivating women militants and women leaders is not difficult. Women as half or more of our class are angry and ready to be organized into the revolution, it is ASC’s politics and the men at the helm of these politics which repulses the participation of women.
“Generally speaking our experience with liberal demonstrations such as One Resistance and May Day efforts we took up conflicts with the visions we hold for independent communist organizing work.” (ASC summation, 2018)
In this convoluted point, they have now finally acknowledged that these events were liberal, yet when we formed an antifascist bloc to oppose the police-collaborating J20 One Resistance march, and when we maintained independent Communist organizing on May 1, 2017, we were “isolationist,” “sectarian,” “adventurist,” and “divisive.” They hailed both of these liberal actions as great successes at the time and attacked our movement for its critical response. They are opportunists to the core.
ASC admits that their One Resistance and May Day efforts failed to maintain independent Communist organizing; again, this is one of the many issues that bring them into contradiction with the Maoist movement, one of the issues that demarcate them from actual Communists. ASC has both admitted to and denied its role in One Resistance (which collaborated and cooperated with the police, even without a permit), depending on who they think can hear them and which member is talking about it.
Worse yet, they go on to lie that, while antifascist efforts are urgent, there is a “void in leadership.” The void that they’re observing is not of leadership in antifascist struggles—struggles that more often than not lack ASC’s presence and always (until last weekend, on August 18) lack their organizing. Their absence from this trench of combat has not dampened the growing and militant antifascist activity in Austin. We have reported elsewhere a string of victories supported by news articles and police reports and the mouths of fascists themselves—all of whom have been forced to reckon with the fact that antifascism in Austin is led by Maoists. ASC keeps their head in the sand. The void that they see is simply a lack of antifascism in their liberal bourgeois activist circles.
Lack of leadership, lack of discipline, and lack of democratic centralism
ASC plans to rectify their lack of Communist organizing principles with the implementation of “adopting a cadre model.” Years ago our positions paper titled “Condemned to Win” already laid out the Communist method of organizing cadres. This document was attacked by ASC of course, and its publication pushed us closer to victory while they took the road to nowhere, which they are still traveling on. There is still no clear reason given for why they exist or what they aim to accomplish—it is as if they think adopting a “cadre model” will bail them out. Cadres are developed in class struggle and steeled by ideology. A conflicted and eclectic ideology that is opportunist at its core will never develop professional revolutionaries, and it will at best only temporarily sustain the true believers left in their clique before more of them join DSA or get jaded and drop out.
When they discuss the big if—“if we grow as an organization”—their conclusion is to form a phone tree! In 2018 no genuine revolutionary cadres rely on phones. We live in the age where wiretaps have developed into wholesale NSA monitoring of cell phones. It is laughable that they could call themselves cadres and have no plan at all to try to conceal any of their organizational dealings from the State. This all goes to show the correctness of our insistence that ASC is not and has no plans of becoming an organization of revolutionary Communists.
Communists must be highly disciplined and experienced in resisting police oppression and State monitoring. It is democratic centralism that allows for professional revolutionaries to carry out organizational work. Nothing is said of any intention on the part of ASC to develop and practice democratic centralism. They will go on with their phony democracy that creates phony leaders who have not earned a post in class struggle. To adopt democratic centralism and make cadres, ASC would have to actually break with their revisionism—their whole identity—which would include breaking with their history and name. Such a break with old ideas would mean ending the project and encouraging whoever is left to rectify by joining the revolutionary struggle led by the Maoists in their city. We will not hold our breath. Nonetheless, we encourage any genuine comrades roped into ASC or affiliated projects to rebel against the revisionist and opportunist leaders and compel them to resign or seek unity with the revolutionary movement, through real self-criticism and rectification.
Their path to nowhere
ASC claim to be insufficiently resistant to liberalism, but at their core they are liberals who have turned into social fascists. They are revisionists who have sunk down to the bottom to maintain their pathetic existence, which as it stands is spit in the face of workers and genuine Communists.
If they implement their new line of developing cadres, we can expect only a smaller but more committed clique of revisionist-opportunists who will not take firm positions against the ruling class. This has already been seen in their recent activity as they try to enter trenches of combat that Maoists lead such as antifascism, anti-gentrification, and so on. These struggles have been ignored for years by the clique that makes up ASC. Where we Maoists have succeeded is precisely where they have failed. When their desperation compels them to enter our trenches all they do is cower behind the same liberals they claim to have broken with. Their big plans include more petitions and collaboration with local petty-bourgeois community “activists” who collaborate with real-estate developers. Their student work consists of passing out doughnuts and surveys to community college students. More business as usual.
ASC’s formal and conventional approach is endemic to their work—right-opportunism of the type favored by their NGO counterparts. The history of their leading members—and what they still do professionally—is work in NGOs. They cannot risk losing social cred by breaking with these types to gain independence, let alone opposing them politically within these struggles by intervening on behalf of the people. They cannot take any action which could make the petty bourgeois activist dynasties take offense, which means they cannot do much in this city.
We call on all progressive forces and individuals who want to see a better world to stop collaborating with ASC. Do not organize with them or invite them to your events. This includes cohosting events. Your support will at best only give temporary life support to a dead organization. At every turn they will seek to sap your energies and divert your struggles into dead ends. Once they have accomplished their goals they will hop on to the next trending cause and never learn from their mistakes. Until ASC attempt to really change they should be seen as poison.
We call on our supporters to stamp out revisionism, to make Austin a bastion of red militancy, and to not give an inch to these class traitors who wish to poach class struggle and traffic in the masses. We applaud members of Defend Our Hoodz for confronting the lackluster and pathetic “anti-gentrification” meetings ASC tried to puppeteer. When we are not preoccupied with confronting open fascists, our struggles against ASC will only increase until they are converted or no longer exist. We are two aspects of a contradiction which cannot indefinitely co-exist, one must overcome the other.
It would not surprise us in the slightest if ASC begin in their desperation to go so far as to call themselves Maoists, or at the very least “Marxist-Leninists,” as they have been seeking out the revisionists in the US who claim to be Maoists for some time. They will do anything they can to disguise the true nature of their organization and to convince the masses that it somehow serves them. Left unity is a drug that must be kicked; it has left the project of revolution in this country ravished, and now is the time for ideological struggle and physical combat. Now is the time to stamp out revisionism and assert the values of Communism, the left must impose itself on the right.
We are not closed to the possibility of united front work, even with those who are stained by such a disgraceful history. But we will ensure that the left line overcomes the right, and that bad leadership is faced with struggle. We insist that fascism, imperialism, and revisionism must be combated concretely, implacably, and totally. We are not sectarian; we simply keep politics in command. If ASC truly wants to divert their course and support the militant left in Austin they must make the effort. If they wish to remain on the course of escalating conflict, so be it—we are prepared for this reality and willing to go further and harder in the interests of annihilating our enemies. Even with a desire for unity we are no fools, and do not stand for class collaboration or social peace.
Our actions have proven the validity of the slogan “fewer but better.” Our actions have proven that it is the Maoists who quickly mobilize a sizable core of disciplined fighters who can confront the enemy and shut down the streets. We will not settle for staying on the sidewalk or in the crosswalks and calling it a successful tactic. We are everywhere, and ASC will be swept away with the rest of the enormous stinking trash heap of revisionism. Baptize yourselves in the struggles of the people and you will arise anew!
Oppose the revisionist Black Guards!
Do not allow revisionists to get a foothold in your neighborhood school or workplace!
Get organized and join the revolutionary movement in Austin!
Revisionism is dead—long live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism!
-Red Guards Austin, 2018
Below are pictures of the entirety of the ASC Summation for further reference: