This is an article about political puritanism, and why it leads to liquidation of organizations.
First of all: I have great sympathy and respect for Red Guards Austin (RGA). It was a young organization started by young activists who did a great job for some time. Despite their young age and lack of experience they achieved much from their work and gain lot of respect internationally. They have also been writing insightful articles related to mlm theory – which also have gain international interest. I don’t necessary agree with all of their writing, but much of it is good and interesting.
I don’t know very much about RGA. There might be other reasons for why this organization died. Unfortunately there is at the moment no self-criticism or any other good analysis from others about why this organizations died. I will therefore here just use the facts I know about the organization to describe reasons for why it would die sooner or later as long as they continued on the line of political puritanism as they developed.
Normally when a little communist group dies – it doesn’t get much attention. The reason for why I write an article abut the death of RGA is because they have been an inspiration for many. MLM groups internationally has read their writings and copied much of their line of struggle. It’s therefore important to expose the gross errors they committed, to avoid other communist groups and organizations to do the same mistakes. I’m afraid other groups also have adapted the same errors as RGA and as a result also are getting smaller and smaller instead of the growth we need for building the necessary powerful organizations.
There are already a lot of speculations and rumors about the death of RGA. This are of no value for us. As Marxists we use science to get correct information. This is of special important in a matter of finding errors which destroys communists organizations. Pure and revolutionary theory have no value if there isn’t strong communist organizations to put it in to action. Critic of wrong lines for building communist parties are therefor a matter of highest priority. This is not a matter for one person to make this critic, and through this critic correct to a better line. This is a matter for the whole communist international movement.
This article is a work in progress. Critic, information and corrections are welcome. I will update the articles with corrections and more information and explanations as I get input from readers.
Are they really dead?
There are rumors or theories outside RGA that they are not really dead, but just organizing to a higher level. I don’t believe this. First of all: If they had – they would have told so – not just a sort message about that they “are no more”. Second, I received information from a comrade who has been in contact with a former RGA members that confirmed they had not moved up to a higher level of organization. This is second-hand information, so it is not good evidence, but at least for me it makes it less likely that they are just reorganizing.
Some of the members are probably continuing their activities in Struggle sessions. It’s big error (and very un-maoistic) of them to not make an self-critic about the work in RGA. – Hopefully they will make in not to long time.
Correction 06.01.2019: My assumption regarding their activities in Struggle sessions are probably wrong – I don’t know if they ever where active in Struggle sessions, and got information that this probably are wrong.
What are puritanism
ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA defines puritanism as:
“Puritanism, a religious reform movement in the late 16th and 17th centuries that sought to “purify” the Church of England of remnants of the Roman Catholic “popery” that the Puritans claimed had been retained after the religious settlement reached early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. “
This is off course a little different from what I mean by “puritanism” in this context. In this context it is about purifying Maoism.
Why is it wrong?
Puritanism results in:
- People will feel they are not “good enough” to join (and often also the members will not find anybody “good enough”)
- The organization will write and say things that people finds strange and unappealing (formulations like: “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism”. This is a typical “pure” formulation which looks strange for people who are not 100% on the inside. You can write what you actually mean without using such “pure” and strange formulations).
- The result is sectarianism: You will become an unappealing sect which will recruit less people then the people who leaves the organization.
- A to strong security policy will make it impossible or at least difficult to recruit.
Evaluate your organization critically
Is your organization growing or shrinking?
If your organization is shrinking – then you got to find out why it is shrinking. What do you do different from before when the organization was growing? If your organization over time is shrinking you got to evaluate why it is shrinking and do something about it. If you don’t – your organization will eventually die out. What do you do different from when you were growing? Probably you should revert some changes in the way you are working back to more like you did when you were growing.
Don’t excuse the situation, and blame external factors. Find out your errors and correct them. Don’t think you should do something internal changes first, and then think you can grow later – your biggest weakens are that you have an organization that are not fruitful.
The simple are often the best. Go out and talk to radical and/ore proletarian youth. Explain for them the necessity to build a communist party and ask them to join. Don’t make the process to become a member to long – you will eventually lose people on the way when you do. You have to have contact to person in a recruitment process often – more than one time pr. week.
If you have a security policy which make recruitment slow – then change that security policy. It’s better to have an organization with an in-perfect security policy, than not an organization at all.
You should have this evaluation in all levels in the organization – from top to the local chapters. If one chapter is growing while another is shrinking – then learn from the errors of the one that is shrinking and from the right things from the one who are growing. Apply the right way of working in the whole organization. This is a question about national leadership also. But if you national leadership is weak (or not existing) the local chapters or groups have to do this by them selves.