A Summation of the Kansas City Revolutionary Collective’s Experience with the Former NCP(LC)
As an introductory measure, we must self-criticize for not issuing this summation sooner. Only one member of KCRC had close ties to the New Communist Party (Liaison Committee) [hereafter LC]. The other members of the collective were not privy to the inner-workings of the LC, or the line struggle that was occurring, until Red Guards Austin [henceforth RGA] released their “Burning House” polemic. Once RGA’s polemic was released, we circulated it amongst our collective and our mass organizations, studied it, came to agreement, and unanimously decided – both KCRC (still in its formative stage) and our mass orgs – to immediately cut off any relationship with the LC. We then reached out to comrades across the country to gather information, determine the next steps, and subsequently how to move forward. The necessity of this summation was not discussed during these inquiries, it was first proposed by a trusted comrade in an informal online discussion. Until that point, no one in KCRC, except for perhaps the one former member of the LC, had even been asked about this summation. After the online exchange, we put in lines of communication with RGA, discussed this with them for some time, and agreed as a collective that we do have an obligation to summarize our experiences.
Not to excuse our errors, but it is worth mentioning, that after reading RGA’s polemic we were mistakenly under the impression that a collective response wasn’t necessary due to this paragraph from their statement:
“Because of the poor construction of the LC, we focus our criticisms primarily on the NYC branch and secondarily on the LA branch, as the other “branches” from our understanding have only one official member each, and we largely support the work of these individuals. These individuals located in both Philadelphia and Kansas City have not had their mass work tainted with the bad gender practice that grows like weeds among the NYC branch.”
Our first error was assuming that we didn’t have an obligation to release a summation. Given the level of involvement a member of our collective had in the LC, there are lessons to share that could be useful to our comrades as we continue to build the communist movement in the heart of the empire. We then made a second error in delaying the summation. This was due to various circumstances; including turmoil after the LC collapse, various local struggles that required our immediate attention, concern for the former LC member’s mental health, and internal struggle amongst members of the collective surrounding the details of the forthcoming summation and the formalities of drafting it. We were in communication with comrades from RGA and elsewhere, and they were and are aware of the issues that arose. Eventually, as a collective we came to the conclusion that we have a responsibility to set things straight with our comrades, and hopefully impart some lessons that will be useful in future organizing. We hope this document will clear up remaining questions regarding our involvement and experience with the LC, and therefore help bury the LC for good, and to put our collective on the path towards unity with Maoist comrades.
Every communist aspires towards party building; it is a fundamental part of our ideology. As mentioned, one member of KCRC was a part of the LC, and this member attempted to recruit two KC comrades into the LC. This was at the mass org level, prior to the formation of the KCRC. Here we will summarize the LC experience from the perspective of these two comrades, which is minimal. These comrades were in the process of joining the LC, however, the LC’s secrecy and poor communication meant that they knew little about it, aside from the public documents made available. These two comrades partially judged the LC by association, meaning, it seemed a lot of respected and principled comrades were in the LC, including comrades in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and to their mistaken knowledge, Austin. By the time they were ready to join the LC, RGA’s polemic was issued, which revealed to them the condemnable gender practice and the poor leadership of the LC, and helped them avert integrating into the burning house that was the LC. When these two comrades found out about the bad gender practice they were disgusted, and abandoned any intentions to join the LC, as well as any inclinations that the LC could somehow be revived in a new form. To these two comrades the LC as a project aimed at the construction of a Maoist party in the U.S. was dead.
To be clear, the rumor that KCRC is somehow a “remnant of the LC” or even some type of LC revival is absurd rumor-mongering, slanderous, and wreckerish behavior. These types of rumors only harm the Left and harm the further development of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (MLM) movement in this country. KCRC was in its inception prior to the collapse of the LC, yes, but nothing had been decided on as far as a relationship between KCRC and the LC. We did have discussions about becoming an official branch of the LC, because at the time we thought it was the most advanced and active MLM formation. However, we never officially or unofficially integrated into the LC at any point. KCRC is an outgrowth of our primary mass organization – a manifestation of our mass work – and our aim is to unite revolutionary collectives in the Kansas City area to build for revolution. Eventually, we hope to contribute to the building of an MLM party as an ideologically consolidated and advanced collective. Consequently, we remain firm in our position that KCRC is not a holdover from the LC, but rather, it is the result of many people’s hard work in building a self-sustaining and principled mass organization in the heart of the Midwest independent of the LC.
Furthermore, we never aimed to position ourselves as leaders in a new party building process. In fact, we are weary of collectives who exhibit such a demeanor – it is the masses who make the leaders, not the leaders who make the masses. We put forward seven points in our announcement that we think are basics for uniting with other collectives, partially to avoid some of the pitfalls of the LC. These points are not anything arrogant, or out of the norm, or our attempt at being the leaders of future party building efforts. They are simple guidelines that our organization will follow in assessing whether or not unity with another collective is beneficial. We welcome debate and line struggle on these points, and will adjust them as necessary. We are not a perfect collective, and we seek to develop our theory through principled line struggle and practice.
As a collective, we have decided it necessary for a historical materialist analysis, criticism, and self-criticism in order to offer lessons about the LC. Above we summarized the relationship between KCRC and the LC, and the two potential LC recruits’ experience. Before we can elaborate on this, there is a need for further criticism. The contents of this summation were sought from external pressure by differing individuals and collectives with callous disregard for the mental well-being of a comrade who had lost their job and had been going through suicidal episodes. This included dismissing this comrade’s depression because they were still doing political work, which, unbeknownst to them, this was a sort of therapy. There were further comments made into goading our comrade into immediately drafting their summation such as, “we all have depression”, combined with charges of “individualism” for not powering through depression to produce a summation (as if one’s mental health is something that can be simply “overcome”). Such detractions constitute an ableist and a black and white attitude. In fact, the latter charge was the exact same one leveled at this comrade for his whistleblowing of patriarchal behavior in Los Angeles towards his ex-partner. The delay of this summation constitutes unfortunate timing, and it is our hope that those comrades take into consideration these criticisms and do not dismiss them out of hand. Our collective and mass organizations are composed of individuals waging struggle of the mind, and we encourage them and offer support to them. We are openly opposed to, and wary, of any collectives which do not offer a place in the revolution for those with mental health concerns, both explicitly and implicitly. This summation will not go into things that have already been mentioned in at least 3 other documents, but rather issues which have not been touched upon.
The founding of the New Communist Party (Liaison Committee) occurred a little over 2 years ago. First as a split from the New Communist Party (Organizing Committee), or NCP (OC). The reasons given are varied. From the OC’s perspective the LC was formed as a way to give those expelled from the organization a way back into politics, in this case it must be assumed that they were referring to Freddy Bastone. From the LC perspective the split occurred due to commandism towards the mass organizations. The truth is only known with the direct parties involved but the result was a more open Maoist formation led by the student leaders and founder of the Revolutionary Students Coordinating Committee or RSCC in New York City.
What past statements on the NCP (LC) have done is offer criticism, and as Maoists we should welcome this, but equally important is drawing lessons to leave the next generation. There are lessons to draw which have come from the NCP(LC), which, whether one wants to admit it or not, has created the basis for a resurgence in Maoism across North America.
- Controversial questions were kept solely amongst cadreThe question of Freddy Bastone was not the only question of controversy that was kept in the dark from the RSCC, Students Without Borders (SWB), Revolutionaries Against Gender Oppression Everywhere (RAGE) or other mass organizations. Certain questions such as the NY Branch’s line on Bernie Sanders candidacy for president, differed from the external line they were issuing to the members of their mass organizations. While the mass members were encouraged to take an electoral boycott and denounce Sanders as a Zionist, members of the LC took a nuanced approach in that Sanders offered an opening and bolstering of organized labor and that struggling with the Sanders supporters when Sanders loss could offer fruit. Such questions, as far as one could see, however, were discouraged from occurring between KC and NYC in front of RSCC at least one time and quite vocally.
By refusing to engage in questions, no matter how controversial, we see a distrust of the masses and a failure to view the role of the cadre organization as – in addition to offering leadership to the masses – working to qualitatively transform the consciousness of the masses into communists. Rather, only once one was admitted into the “inner circle” of the LC, was someone privy to the actual stances of the visible leaders of the NY branch on issues related to politics in North America and the International Communist Movement.
- Education was not formalized.Collective education within the NY Branch was almost non-existent, on the LC level it did not exist whatsoever and among the mass organizations it was carried out inconsistently. In fact, among the LC organizations the only one to take to up the task of advancing its collective understanding of MLM ideology was Red Guards Los Angeles (RGLA). The main error in refraining from collective study is the uneven development of cadre and the potential to turn subjective biases into political lines.
Prior to the collapse of the LC, but especially since evaluating these errors, we have adopted a regular schedule of quality studies on a variety of MLM topics, going consistently for at least the past eight months. These studies have helped advance both the KCRC and the mass organizations level of political development, and we’ve seen qualitative advancements in our aims towards ideological consolidation.
- Bad Gender PracticeThe LC’s collapse was due in no small part to it’s handling of gender contradictions which ultimately caused it to implode. The lack of thorough investigation from the start and the confusion exacerbated the situation. In addition, the common practice of social isolation of individuals, particularly women, within the RSCC for holding different political lines or critiques of the organization was a known practice. The encouragement of other collectives and individuals to do this was also pushed by the leadership of the NYC LC.
The dismissal of other political lines within the mass organization through social isolation, for arbitrary reasons and without principled struggle, must also be thoroughly condemned and discouraged as an un-Maoist practice that does not let One Hundred Flowers Bloom and Contend. Debates themselves constitute a lesson in learning not only for the polemicist but the defender of said line, as well as those observing and participating in such debates themselves.
Going forward, we must draw some conclusions about what we feel are remedies to preventing any further collapse of the party building project. We must put forward our positions to the masses at all times. The hesitation to transparently put forward all organizational questions is ultimately indicative of an organization that does not have faith in the masses. Education must be collective at the cadre and mass level, to not merely win hearts and minds, but transformation of the masses into communists.
When it comes to gender practice we must investigate allegations thoroughly, allowing the facts to speak for themselves, and taking appropriate and direct measures. Whenever possible, and with considerations for privacy and boundaries, we should go directly to the source(s), gather evidence, and make a clear assessment of the situation to present to fellow comrades for immediate action. Given the current conditions, we do not have the capacity to rehabilitate individuals who demonstrate abusive behaviors. These toxic elements must be identified, expelled from the organization and socially isolated.
KCRC and our mass organizations have taken steps to prevent bad gender practice, especially in the wake of the LC collapse. We have initiated mandatory two-on-one interviews to detect abusers and misogynists before they take root in our organization. We check in with women and non-binary members to ensure they are free to criticize men in our organization and that they can participate in leadership. The Proletarian Feminist Committee was established as a space for women and non-men to discuss issues concerning sexism and patriarchy in the organization and the community, and to help collectively advance our understanding and practice of proletarian feminism. We are also prepared to investigate cases of abuse and isolate those who participate in or condone it, regardless of the politics of the abuser. The result has been strong female, non-binary and general LGBT leadership and participation in both the KCRC and our mass organizations.
It is our hope that the summation of our experiences with the LC can serve as the final piece in the collective effort to account for the collapse of the LC, and consequently, to move forward armed with a firmer grasp of MLM and to continue organizing for revolution in Kansas City.
Long live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!
Organize Maoists everywhere!
Build the new Maoist Communist Party!
Make revolution in the belly of the beast!