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 8 • Confronting a refugee from the theoretical needs of the class struggle
Confronting a refugee from
the theoretical needs of the class struggle

Excerpts from a public exchange between Ben and Joseph Green
(editor of the theoretical journal of the Communist Voice Organization)
concerning the failure of his journal to confront the theoretical crisis
that has paralyzed the revolutionary movement of the working class

Joseph -- May 2006 (emphasis added):

You write that I fail "to discuss, or even mention, the necessity and decisive role of the fundamental democratic rights of speech and organization in making the dictatorship of the proletariat a reality in the period following the overthrow of bourgeois rule."

In actual fact (...) our articles on the transition to socialism (...) point to the question of the actual control by the masses over the economy, the politics, and so forth. (...)

the problem is that you don't see any connection between the control of the masses over the economic and politics and their democratic rights.

Ben replies - May 2007:

I don't see any connection? My work over the last dozen years proves that I have studied and deeply appreciate this connection. It is Joseph who fails to appreciate (ie: study, discuss or write about) this connection.

Democratic rights are essential for control. Control is impossible without democratic rights. It is this fundamental truth that must be made known to activists and the masses in order for them to have a concept of workers' rule that is realistic enough to be deserving of credibility. It is as simple as that.

This is where Joseph's journal fails in its responsibility to activists. If Joseph really believes that democratic rights are essential for workers' rule -- then why will his journal not say so? Why will his journal not carry articles on the topic?

Or maybe Joseph believes that this principle (without which the concept of workers' rule is inconceivable) is not important?

But, if so, then this would indicate that Joseph believes that a concept of workers' rule that is realistic enough to be deserving of credibility -- that is credible enough to resonate in the minds of workers and activists and give workers and activists an unshakeable conviction that a better world is possible -- is not important either.

Based on Joseph's actions, based on the inability of Joseph's journal to lift a finger to defend a concept of workers' rule that is deserving of attention -- I conclude that Joseph and his trend (the supporters of which are complicit in this silly self-deception) have made their peace with the status quo: that workers and activists are unable to conceive of an alternative to continued bourgeois rule.

Joseph -- May 2006 (emphasis added):

You pretend that CV articles aren't concerned with the democratic rights of the masses, and that the CV imagines that a shackled, bullied, and intimidated working class might yet be said to have control of the economy.

Ben replies - May 2007:

If the CV articles were truly "concerned" with the democratic rights of the masses -- then the democratic rights of speech and organization would have been openly discussed in the articles rather than implied in the same darn evasive way that the apologists for the corrupt Soviet and Chinese police-states would claim that the workers in these countries really "control" politics and economics every time some critic was thrown in jail for "slander" or "insults" or some other action was taken to shackle, bully or intimidate the working class.

  
The most important role of theory is
to give activists and workers a guiding vision of
a world ruled by the working class. This guiding vision collapses without the fundamental democratic rights of speech and organization.
The problem is not what Joseph's trend does or does not "imagine" -- but that it is not doing any work to show that the democratic rights of speech and organization are necessary for workers' rule. Joseph's journal refuses to specifically say this.

Activists need to understand that worker's rule will be characterized by (ie: will be impossible without) the democratic rights of speech and organization extended even (for the profound reason that the authority to determine what is healthy and unhealthy in culture and politics must be distributed to and exercized by the entire working class rather than through a centralized point of control) to opponents of workers' rule.

  1. This is vital and decisive in establishing confidence that worker's rule will be an improvement over bourgeois rule.

  2. And it is doubly vital and decisive in light of the brutal (and universally known) suppression of democratic rights by the Soviet and Chinese regimes (and in light of the history of our own trend, the MLP, which guided the formation of our political work and consciousness, in cluelessly applauding this suppression).

  3. And it is triply vital and decisive in light of the need to make clear to readers that we understand modern society and understand how even the politics and economics of bourgeois society are beginning to be shaped by the emerging revolution in communications.

Joseph, who imagines himself to be a communist, has lost sight of the fact that one of the most important roles of theory is to give activists and workers a guiding vision -- of a world ruled not by the capitalists but by the working class. This guiding vision is not sustainable (ie: collapses, is bankrupt, cannot be defended) without the fundamental democratic rights of speech and organization.

In a dozen years Joseph's theoretical journal has not lifted a finger to confront any of the key questions (ie: the inseparability of democratic rights from workers' rule, the incompatibility of workers' rule with the dictatorship of a single party or organization, etc). This raises the question of whether Joseph's journal has been shaped by the theoretical needs of the class struggle -- or has become a refuge from the class struggle.

Joseph has the ability to be an asset to the revolutionary movement and to assist the international working class to confront and resolve the crisis of theory which has paralyzed the revolutionary movement and reduced it to an impotent plaything in the hands of treacherous reformists and clueless sectarian cults. For Joseph to fulfill this potential, however, he must recognize the need for activists and workers to understand that a world without bourgeois rule is both possible and necessary. And this requires work which makes clear that worker's rule under modern conditions is inseparable from the democratic rights of speech and organization extended even to its opponents.

(from appendix to Ben Seattle's May 2007 annual report)

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