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 6 • Is Ben an anarchist ?
Is Ben an anarchist ?

Watch out for his Trojan Horse!

 
Frank claims that my theoretical work is “merely long-winded attempts to sell anarchist prejudices as Marxism-Leninism”. In other words, Frank believes that I am acting like a Trojan Horse: I call myself a Leninist but my principles are really anarchist.

But Frank’s organization, the CVO, is not the only political trend which has made this claim. I have had a number of anarchists become upset with me because they also believe that I am advocating anarchist principles in the name of Leninism -- and this disturbs them because they think that my work may increase the acceptibility of Leninism within anarchist circles – so they also think I am acting like a Trojan Horse – but in the other direction.

I had one guy get all upset during the "Anarcho-Leninist Debate on the State" because I did not attempt to defend the usual idiocies that parade as "Leninism" and instead based my conclusions on a study of the material conditions of modern society.

For example I argued that we will need a state for several decades after the overthrow of bourgeois rule primarily for economic reasons: we will inherit from the capitalists an economy based on commodity production and the circulation of capital. It will likely take us at least several decades to replace this economy with a gift economy (ie: where there is no money and all work is voluntary and everyone gets all the necessities of life for free as their birthright). In the meantime, an economy based on the circulation of capital (and even if corporations are expropriated by the workers’ state – as long as they buy and sell goods and services – they will be based on the circulation of capital in one form or another) will continue to have exploitation and a host of other problems – that will require a state to help keep things running smoothly enough that workers will still be able to get food at the grocery store and gas at the gas station. This is quite different from the usual arguments made by “cargo cult Leninists” who repeat one phrase or another that Lenin said without understanding what the words actually mean.

And I have taken the side of the anarchists on a very important political question.

The anarchists do not want to see a society where anyone has the ability to shut them all up. This is probably the most important political issue that unites all anarchists. And I have asserted that this desire of the anarchists is completely correct and conforms to the material interest of the working class and to the stability of workers’ rule.

I have asserted that working class rule in a modern, stable society will not take the form of the rule of a single organization that has the right to suppress the voices of its opponents.

More specifically, I assert that such a form is not suited to the modern conditions of an economically developed society with an advanced communications infrastructure – and that

 
Anarchists do not want
to see a society where anyone has the ability
to shut them up. This desire is completely correct and conforms
to the material interest
of the working class
and the stability
of workers’ rule.
the democratic rights of speech and organization must be extended even to opponents of workers' rule in order for the working class to exercize its rule and overcome the danger involved in giving too much power to any organization.

And I have asserted that, in any scenario where proponents of workers’ rule have come to power following a period of turbulence or civil war – that if they find it necessary – in order to retain power – to restrict the democratic rights of their opponents for any kind of lengthy period (say, more than a year) – that their attempt to hold power is probably doomed – because restricting fundamental democratic rights in a modern society will likely require placing so many restrictions on the internet that the economy will greatly suffer if it is for an extended period.

I have asserted that the test case for this is China. I have said that as the Chinese economy becomes more modern and developed it will become increasingly impractical for the corrupt Chinese ruling class to restrict access to news and information over the internet and the kind of political organizing that will always be possible as long as the internet makes it easy for activists to find and link up with one another.

Now to the anarchists who don’t like me (generally a small section of inexperienced, emotional and sectarian ones) this makes me all the more "dangerous" – because they are certain that it is all some kind of trick on my part -- that I am really plotting to grab "power" and then have them all lined up against a wall and shot.

So the CVO is not alone in asserting that I am promoting anarchist principles under the name of Leninism.

But Frank’s arguments that I am really an anarchist do not have much substance. I argue that SAIC’s website will be more useful (to both SAIC members and to readers) and will draw a larger audience when it includes a diversity of voices. To Frank, this makes me an anarchist. Oh, and Frank also provides a link to an article by Joseph Green that supposedly proves that I am an anarchist. But the arguments that Joseph makes in his article are no more solid than those which Frank makes in his reply to me. Oh, and Frank has argued that I am an anarchist because I use “emotional phraseology” in what I write. But this is hardly a compelling argument. I write with passion in order to make an authentic connection with readers. And many readers like the way I write and consider my writing to be both calm and direct.

Ultimately, we want SAIC to be seen by experienced and level-headed activists with anarchist convictions as a useful organization that serves the movement and which they want to be part of and help build.

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