Ben Seattle
June 30, 2007
"Cargo-Cult Leninism" vs. Political Transparency:
What principles of organization will serve the antiwar and revolutionary movements?

Our weapon is mass democracy
The revolutionary mass organization that we need
will rely on the energy and experience of activists in open struggle to resolve
-- in full view of friend and foe alike -- opposing views on the way forward
Contents:
Part 1   • Introduction   •   "Information War" Program for SAIC   •   Where is my organization?
            • Is helping to distribute SAIC’s agitation parasitism – or principled cooperation?   •   Is Ben sufficiently "political"?
Part 2   • What is political transparency?  
(It means that activists can see what goes on behind the curtain)
            • The opposite of transparency  
(Stonewalling: the easy answer to all criticism)
            • The relationship of the revolutionary mass organization to the mass of activists
Part 3   • The problem with pragmatism   •   Is Ben a "black hat" ?   •   What is the “rate of information metabolism” ?
Part 4   • Cargo cults and cargo-cult Leninism
            • Join our group – We can do your thinking for you  
(Why do supporters of left-wing groups so often drink the kool-aid ?)
Part 5   • What is revolutionary theory?  
(GLUE to hold us together? – a STICK to beat heretics? – or a LIGHT that helps us see?)
            • The Spectre of Endless Discussion  
(We don’t need to live in fear of talking about our goal)
            • What is Ben’s idea of a “trend of trends”?
Part 6   • Is Ben an anarchist ?  
(Watch out for his Trojan Horse!)
Part 7   • Did Ben attempt to bury debate?  
(The showdown at the final congress of the MLP)
            • Right-wing demagoguery – or materialism?   •   Ben corrects himself
Part 8   • Confronting a refugee from the theoretical needs of the class struggle  
(Ben Seattle talks to Joseph Green)
Part 9   • The foundations of modern revisionism  
(“Marxism-Leninism” is anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist and revisionist)
Part 10   • Proletarism is anti-revisionist Marxism for the 21st century
Part 4 • Cargo cults and cargo-cult Leninism
• Join our group – We can do your thinking for you
(Why do supporters of left-wing groups so often drink the kool-aid ?)
– Join our group –
We can do your thinking for you

Why do supporters of left-wing groups
so often drink the kool-aid ?

Groups on the left are often bonded together on the basis of special beliefs and practices – which are sometimes shallow and silly – and which often undermine work to build the antiwar and revolutionary movements. Why do supporters of these groups so often “drink the kool-aid” and accept and believe shallow arguments?

Because they WANT to believe

  1. They want to be loyal to their group
  2. Things seem to be going ok
  3. People who advance these arguments have proven knowledgeable in the past on many related topics and are generally good people, likeable and trustworthy
  4. People sense that these common beliefs play
    a vital role in holding the organization together
    and any challenge to them might threaten
    or destabilize the organization.
  5. The group has developed an internal language and a system of rationalizations (ie: internal arguments) supporting their beliefs that are plausible enough,
    (in the absence of effective challenge) to feel good
  6. The perception is that there is relatively little harm
    if one is mistaken. So why worry?
  7. Looking too deeply into supporting arguments requires independent thought and analysis which requires
    hard work and can be difficult and uncomfortable.
What is the Solution?

An exclusive focus on rooting for the organization which one supports – might be appropriate for a football or basketball game – but these attitudes are deeply corrupt and immensely damaging to the revolutionary movement. We need a clean break from these kinds of corrupt traditions – we need to develop a new tradition – one of individual accountability and commitment to integrity on the important political and theoretical questions of our time.

Accountability and independent thought
require regular participation in public forums

Supporters of groups on the left can take steps to develop their capacity for independent thought and analysis by regular participation in public forums where they can gain experience in defending the views and practices of the group they support and, in the process, learn from others. Posting once a month (or at least several times a year) in a forum suitable for the kinds of discussions that unfold over weeks or months – and responding to calm and intelligent criticism – can help supporters learn to be accountable to the movement and to discover weaknesses and potential problems in the views, practices and internal rationalizations of the group they support.

Cargo cults and
cargo-cult Leninism

There is a name for the kind of religion that is formed when people encounter an advanced technology which they are unable to understand: it is called a "cargo cult" (named after the South Pacific islanders who encountered American military logistics teams during the second world war and who, as a result, attemped to contact the gods of cargo by doing such things as carving microphones out of wood and headphones out of coconut shells and repeating the magic phrase "Roger, over and out" in hopes that the big silver birds would land with their bellies full of precious cargo).

Anthropologists have counted at least 75 cargo cults that formed independently of one another, in regions separated by thousands of miles, in the period from the 1890’s to the end of the second world war. These cults became popular because they embodied the anti-colonial sentiments of the native islanders and their belief that they, too, were entitled to a share of the material benefits of civilization. Cargo cults united peoples of different tribes that, previously, had little in common and led to such things as mass boycotts of mandatory attendence at missionary churches. For this reason, the European colonialists would beat and imprison cargo cult leaders. There is at least one cargo cult that is still active (the “Jon Frum” movement in Vanuatu, east of Australia).

Cargo cults are fascinating for several reasons. They give us insight into the formation of religion and the process of human cognition. We tend to understand things on the basis of their external features and appearance. Hence the tendency to copy the outward appearance of phenomenon which we want to emulate but do not understand.

Many “marxist” groups are caught up in what I call “cargo-cult Leninism” and have developed their own tribal totems and taboos. Basically, they have created a little religion on the basis of an appreciation for (but a limited understanding of) Lenin’s 1917 revolution. Frank and the CVO make a fetish out of centralized control and they repeat magic words and phrases such as “dialectical materialism”, "democratic centralism", “dictatorship of the proletariat”. And they can repeat by rote many sacred definitions. But they do not understand what these words mean.

Contents:
Part 1   • Introduction   •   "Information War" Program for SAIC   •   Where is my organization?
            • Is helping to distribute SAIC’s agitation parasitism – or principled cooperation?   •   Is Ben sufficiently "political"?
Part 2   • What is political transparency?  
(It means that activists can see what goes on behind the curtain)
            • The opposite of transparency  
(Stonewalling: the easy answer to all criticism)
            • The relationship of the revolutionary mass organization to the mass of activists
Part 3   • The problem with pragmatism   •   Is Ben a "black hat" ?   •   What is the “rate of information metabolism” ?
Part 4   • Cargo cults and cargo-cult Leninism
            • Join our group – We can do your thinking for you  
(Why do supporters of left-wing groups so often drink the kool-aid ?)
Part 5   • What is revolutionary theory?  
(GLUE to hold us together? – a STICK to beat heretics? – or a LIGHT that helps us see?)
            • The Spectre of Endless Discussion  
(We don’t need to live in fear of talking about our goal)
            • What is Ben’s idea of a “trend of trends”?
Part 6   • Is Ben an anarchist ?  
(Watch out for his Trojan Horse!)
Part 7   • Did Ben attempt to bury debate?  
(The showdown at the final congress of the MLP)
            • Right-wing demagoguery – or materialism?   •   Ben corrects himself
Part 8   • Confronting a refugee from the theoretical needs of the class struggle  
(Ben Seattle talks to Joseph Green)
Part 9   • The foundations of modern revisionism  
(“Marxism-Leninism” is anti-Marxist, anti-Leninist and revisionist)
Part 10   • Proletarism is anti-revisionist Marxism for the 21st century