From:    Ben Seattle
Sent:    Sunday, April 02, 2006 9:26 PM
To:      pof-200
Subject: CIW # 56 -- the failure of our community and our tasks

 focus on building a community of information war # 56

          The failure of our community and our tasks

(1) the failure (so far) of our community
(2) additional comments on Frank's March 24 post
(3) to those in our community

(1) the failure (so far) of our community

I am disappointed that no one other than Terry has made a comment
on my March 26 reply to Frank.  This list includes a number of
activists who have enough experience to give a useful reply.  It
would appear that none of these comrades considered a reply to be
worth the effort.

I should also note that, unfortunately, Edward had left the list.

Edward was one of the more advanced comrades on this list.  I
talked to Edward and he confirmed for me the reason that he left:
the list simply is not very valuable to him at this time.

The truth is that this list is not accomplishing very much in the
way of real work to advance the movement.  Mostly it exists as a
"talkshop" where people without experience exchange opinions
concerns the definitions of words.  This kind of talk may be
useful for those who engage in it -- but it is not very useful
for advanced activists who are tired of talk and want to do
something to build the movement.

It occurs to me that this would be a reasonable time for me to
reflect on the what this list is -- and what it has potential to
become.  This might shed some light on what can be done to make
this potential real.

The need for a community of activists who can freely exchange
views on the decisive tasks remains.  This list may (or may not)
evolve to meet this need.  At this time the overwhelmnig majority
of more advanced activists are not on this list and have never
heard of it.  The few advanced activists who have been on this
list (ie: DJ, Ulyanovist, Edward and others) have either left or
are no longer paying much attention to it.  The list is nowhere
near to developing the "critical mass" of advanced activists
which it needs in order to attract and hold the attention of

In this situation -- what is the way forward?

First -- I think that it may help if the list can accomplish some
actual, real work.

I would like to see if anyone on this list would like to
volunteer to post the recent anti-imperialist leaflet of SAIC
(see: ) to a few indymedia sites
and/or progressive email lists.  If this can be done -- then the
links (and the more interesting replies -- if there are replies)
could be posted to the SAIC site.

If any of the replies are thoughtful enough to draw a response
from a SAIC supporter -- then the SAIC supporter's response could
be posted back to the indymedia page or email list where the
exchange originated.

It is also possible that something similar might be done with the
recent SAIC leaflet on the struggle for immigrant rights and
against the recent attacks that have been much in the news

This could be one way that useful, practical work could be
organized from this list.

There might be other ways that useful, practical work could be
organzied.  However, I should add that my conclusion, based on
what I have seen, is that this list does not yet include very
many activists who understand or are committed to the concept of
information war.

My attitude toward all this is straighforward.  I accept the
simple fact that this list has few, if any, who are committed to
the concept of information war.  I will continue to work, in the
few hours per week that I have available, to the development of
these concepts.

Mainly my work will be focused on the development of the
"attention refinery" (ie: that I described in February in CIW #

My theoretical work may be, for the most part, complete.  This
work is pretty much unknown and/or unrecognized largely because,
in my view, the crisis of theory is not recognized.  However the
crisis of theory will continue to make itself felt as the antiwar
and other progressive movements develop and lead to increasing
radicalization of activists.  And the need for a solid
theoretical basis for the revolutionary movement -- will
eventually, I believe, lead to recognition among many activists
that my work represents a contribution to resolving this crisis
of theory.

So that's all I have to say on this for now.]

(2) additional comments on Frank's March 24 post

In the remainder of this post I will make a few additional
comments on Frank's March 24 response to my CIW # 55.

Frank (March 24):

> After 4 1/2 months Ben has not replied
> to any substantive question I raised
> in my comments on M.F. #51:


That's Frank's opinion.  I have tried very hard to be responsive
to Frank.  Frank's replies have totaled more than 12 thousand
words.  Some of Frank's comments are rambling rather than sharply
focused.  No matter what I reply to -- Frank will be able to say
that I did not reply to something else.

Furthermore much of what I have to say I have already said and
repeating myself would accomplish little other than to bore

The purpose of developing an exchange -- is that the exchange can
be used to raise the consciousness of readers as well as to
resolve contradictions.  If there is little evidence that anyone
is paying attention to the exchange or finds it useful -- then
why continue it?

Frank implies that I am cowardly (or an opportunist, etc) if I
fail to reply to him on innumerable points that no one appears to
care about.  I am quite skeptical that even Frank really wants me
to reply.  I believe that Frank writes as if I should reply -- in
order to score polemical points.

Frank's comments (below) are preceded by the ">" character:

> Was handing out literature that did not
> have the address to an interactive website
> on it "useless" or "corrupt" work.or was
> this a sectarian slur of Ben's? Silence.

I replied to this on March 26.

> How about my exposure of Ben's myth-making
> about why SAIA was dissolved? Silence.

Frank disagrees with my assessment of why SAIA (ie: the
predecessor to SAIC) was liquidated.  Frank calls my assessment a

Frank has the right to disagree with me and call me a myth-maker.
It remains my responsibility to find ways to work with people
like Frank.  And I have.  And I will continue to find ways to
work with activists like Frank while continuing to criticize what
I see as his errors.

Many activists have the idea that we cannot criticize those who
we work with -- that we must choose to _either_ work with
activists -- or criticize them.

I assert that we cannot build a powerful revolutionary mass
movement without learning to do both at the same time.

> Were Ben's proposed organizational rules
> for the SAIC bureaucratic rules that
> would act against democracy? Silence

Frank has one view on this.  I have another.

> Was Ben sowing division in SAIC ranks,
> as well as division between the SAIC and
> activists outside of it with gutter-incitements
> against the CVO members,

Again: Frank has one view and I have another.

Frank considers my views to represent gutter-incitement.  I
consider my views to be accurate.

I believe that activists who have different views have a
responsibilty to find ways to work together _and_ criticize one
another's errors.

Frank considers this kind of criticism to be "sowing division".
I consider it to be absolutely necessary to build a powerful

> i.e., (1) our attitude regarding democracy
> is "Well the minority has the right to hit
> the road. End of story. Love it or leave it."
> (2) CVO people are only "paying lip service
> to the goal of building an anti-imperialist
> pole of attraction and that their actual agenda
> is (a) to use SAIC to recruit into their group
> and consolidate those activists who are new
> on the scene and looking for some trend to
> hook up with and (b) to then liquidate SAIC
> once it has served this purpose."? More silence.

Yes, Frank, I maintain my view.  I have one interpretation of the
facts and you have another.  I don't reply to you on this because
there is not a lot more that needs to be said.

What is important is that, in spite of your mistaken orientation,
you and other CVO comrades are doing a lot of good and useful
work -- and we are finding ways to work together in SAIC.

> Instead, in M.F. #55 he just pours on more
> abuse and slander: the CVO people are a bunch
> of "cargo-cultists" who fear spontaneity.

You can call it abuse and slander if you want.

As the movement develops, serious activists will become familar
with our strengths and weaknesses and they will decide for
thimselves whether or not or criticisms of one another are
accurate -- or whether they represent sectarian squabbles and hot

> Furthermore, I'm a "complete hypocrite" when
> I talk about doing theoretical work. Why? I
> allegedly don't recognize that working class
> rule cannot exist without workers having
> fundamental political rights! It's a bitter
> joke. I'm an anti-revisionist Marxist, Ben,
> not a would-be elitist bureaucrat.

It is the objective situation in our movement that many activists
have conceptions of themselves that do not correspond to
objective material reality.  Many of the reformist activists do
not think of themselves as reformists.  Many of the sectarians do
not think of themselves as sectarians.  You may think of yourself
as an anti-revisionist.  I believe you are mistaken.  What
counts, in this regard, is not your self-image -- but your

I do recognize that you want to work to build the movement.  I
believe that your political and theoretical errors undermine your
own work.  My criticism is for the purpose of assisting you to be
more effective.

Obviously you consider my criticism to be without the slightest
merit.  The fact remains that you _claim_ (see above) to
recognize that workers must have political rights -- but the
journal of the organization you support (ie: the CVO) has refused
to say a fucking word about the democratic rights that workers
will need (ie: the right to independent organization and
agitation) in the more than ten years that it has been around.

> Who can take away political rights from a
> working class that succeeded in smashing
> the bourgeois state and is consciously
> embarked on the path of attaining a classless
> (communist) society? (And, if the country or
> region is large enough, I would like to see
> some elitists try!) But history has shown
> that if the proletariat is not conscious and
> organized enough (especially if it exists in
> a country with a huge peasant population
> producing for a market), and it's party
> abandons allegiance to Marxism and the
> working class for allegiance to the interests
> of a new bourgeoisie arising on the basis of
> private interests in ministries,
> state-capitalist enterprises, trusts, etc.,
> then this new bourgeoisie and revisionist
> party can.

You can talk all you want about what history has shown can happen
in a country with a huge peasant population.  Everyone knows you
are refering to Russia in the 1920's.

But it is not enough to talk about Russia in the 1920's.

We must talk about the U.S. in the 21st century.

That is what you (and your organization) fail to do.

> No rules, no oaths of fidelity to fundamental
> political rights for the working masses can
> prevent this. Only a more organized and
> theoretically conscious class can. Hence the
> necessity of laying the basis for this:
> theoretical study of the real Marxist views
> on communism and the transition to it,

There is nothing wrong, by itself, in encouraging activists to
study marxism.

However this is hypocrisy if we fail to do it ourselves.

Marxism is materialism.  A materialist study of the conditions of
a modern, stable society (ie: with a modern functioning economy
and infrastructure, etc) will make clear that a working class
state with the support of the majority of the population would
not need to:

(1) merge the party and the state -- or --
(2) suppress the democratic rights of workers

These things will be neither practical nor necessary in the
conditions of a workers' state that enjoys the support of the
majority of the population in a modern stable society.

> So, since the 90s the CVO has been engaged in
> advancing work on this front, popularizing it,
> trying to inspire other into it. (See, for example,
> the articles under
> and

Some of these articles are of limited use.  In comparison to what
is necessary, however, these articles are cowardly evasions of
the most buring question of our time.

These articles say little to nothing about the need for
democratic rights under worker's rule.  And yet this question is
key to understanding why the Soviet Revolution (and other
revolutions) succumbed to degeneration.  This question is also
central to the reason that hundreds of thousands of activists
today are very skeptical about the concept of workers' rule.

> We say that "through this work, the Communist
> Voice seeks to pave the way for communism to
> once again become the red, fighting banner of
> the revolutionary working class movement.

Unfortunately, the statement above is nothing but hot air.

> Only the influence of the real communist
> theory can help the goal of a classless,
> communist society again spread among the
> workers and oppressed here and around the globe."

Unfortunately, this is more cowardly hypocrisy.

> But Ben sneers at our work by placing
> "theoretical work" inside quotation marks.
> From his narrow framework, it allegedly has
> nothing to do with giving activists confidence
> that a better world is possible. Why, it
> allegedly doesn't disprove "that the only
> alternative to bourgeois rule is a police
> state" (another form of bourgeois rule).

Theoretical work which claims to lend fundamental insight into
the nature of workers' rule -- but which evades the central
necessity of democratic rights -- is not deserving of respect.

This is particularly true after the Soviet and Chinese betrayals
and the enormous confusion about "workers' rule" that has been
created in the wake of these betrayals.

> From mine, understanding what the Marxist
> socialist theory is, examining the
> world-historic experience of the Bolsheviks
> in applying it, understanding how and why
> the revisionists departed from this theory
> and turned it into a travesty does this,
> among many other things.

You are never going to be able to deepen anyone's understanding
of how the bolshevik revolution was suffocated as long as you
evade confronting the necessity of democratic rights.

> Ben says we fear spontaneity, and yet,
> strangely enough, in all our literature
> we encourage the masses to take matters
> into their own hands---be it in economic,
> political, or theoretical struggles. We
> repeatedly agitate for serious study of
> the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and others,
> with particular attention to their method.
> (I would add that among the "others" is
> early Plekhanov, particularly his
> "Development of the Monist View of History".)

Yes, you are so sweeping and thorough that you even encourage
activists to read Plekhanov (whom most of them have never heard

Unfortunately you are not thorough enough to touch the question
of democratic rights (which all activists have to deal with in
one way or another).

> We agitate for forming study groups, setting up
> anti-imperialist groups all over the place, etc.
> This is pretty strange behavior for people living
> in fear of the working class, fear of scientific
> truth, fear of having dogmas disintegrated.

The contradictions in your ideology lead you to say and do many
useful things.

On the one hand you print words encouraging activists to study
marxism.  However if activists study marxism and apply what they
have learned to criticize your organization -- the readers of
your journal are unlikely to learn about it.

> Why, it might even be interpreted as meaning
> that we a lot of faith in the basic masses
> being able to grasp and apply Marxist-Leninist
> theory for themselves. It might mean that rather
> than fearing ordinary activists doing this, we
> welcome it with all our hearts. 

Yes, that is one interpretation.

However it is not mine.

(3) to those in our community

The development of a revolutionary mass movement requires the
marriage of our present tasks and our future goals.

But our future goals cannot be a real part of our work -- if we
fail to take theory seriously -- if we fail to devote attention
to overcoming the currently crisis of revolutionary theory.

In order to get the attention of advanced activists like Frank or
Edward -- and encourage them to think about the topics that are
described above -- I need your help.

I have poured a lot of my time onto these topics in the hope that
there may be readers here with whom my words would strike a

If my words have struck a chord with you -- this is the time to
speak up and say so.  If you remain silent at this time -- then
you are doing little to help this list focus on the issues that
are important.

Sincerely and revolutionary regards, 
Ben Seattle 

Isolated from one another we are easily defeated. 
Connected to one another no force on earth can stop us 

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