On Politics of Resistance: The Maoist Approach to Protest

In Strategy: One Against Ten; In Tactics: Ten Against One

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Donald Trump is set to speak in Springfield, Missouri this Wednesday in an attempt to energize his base for his so-called “tax reforms”, this at a time where he has polarized the nation with his inflammatory comments in support for white nationalists who converged on Charlottesville and that left one person dead and 19 wounded. It was asked by a community member what will be the response of our United Front in dealing with the visit of Trump to our state. It was correctly stated by one of our comrades that should our contingent go to Springfield we will be surrounded by reactionary forces and have no base of support, that all our political mobilizations are done with careful planning and minimizing the worst predictable outcomes. In reflecting on this position it is necessary to critique a trend in the “activist” circles in their method of protest. A main tactic is one of “disruption” that typically occurs without an active support base. We are seeing this in the response of this visit put on by Indivisible St Louis and other dissatisfied liberals who are sending people into a crowd which practices barbaric violence but calling for “non-violence”. It literally is just as simple as accepting a Facebook invite and showing up to the staging area (which is publicly stated). 

For Maoists, our principles in politics and war is a recognition that strategically we are on the defensive in the initiation stage and how to use our forces effectively to tactically overwhelm our opponents. We support all forms of rebellion against the powers of white supremacy, capitalism and all oppression, but we want to do so in a manner in which we can win, rather than a showcase of exhibitions. The essence of Mao’s strategy of concentrating a superior force to destroy enemy forces one by one is also applicable to politics and rallies. This allows us to decide when to engage in political encounters and that we do so where we stand a great chance of winning or showing formidable resistance.

 Mao states that:

“When our force is big and the enemy in that locality is rather weak, or when we are making a surprise attack on the enemy, we may strike at several of his units simultaneously. ” [1]


The bourgeoisie knows this as well, and it is why when they shy away from heavy resistance. Donald Trump during his campaign for the Presidency visited big cities where the masses of people overwhelmed his supporters and caused him to cancel his events or shorten the amount of time he was supposed to speak. In Kansas City, a call was initiated to shut down his scheduled rally at the Midland Theater in downtown Kansas City, and for a total of 90 minutes in staggered disruptions Trump was unable to get a word in. Outside hundreds of protesters from Kansas City faced off police and the majority out of town reactionaries that came to see Trump speak. Trump has learned from this and has not visited our city since. Why? because Trump knows that he has no base of support in Kansas City, and in many big metropolitan areas across the nation. The reactionary talking head of white supremacy will not be “lured deep” in enemy territory so why should we?

Movementists and other liberal activists have disregarded a coherent strategy for combating Trump and the alt-right in the streets, which has placed those who participate in real physical danger. When our contingent entered the Midland Theater it was our conscious effort to group together as a unit and sit as close to one another as possible. We enter together and leave together. One of our supporters insisted on getting in front of Trump so that he could “see her sign”, we attempted to argue our position that it would be safer and more effective if we stood as a bloc in another part of the theater where there was enough seating for opponents of Trump to gather but she adamantly disagreed. One comrade elected to stay with her to provide her company. At the go ahead to disrupt members of our contingent decided to disrupt Trump’s speech en masse confusing the Trump fans around us with militant chants and displays of hammer and sickles, we were promptly escorted out without any physical altercations. Unfortunately this was not the case with one of our supporters who we could not convince to operate in unison with us as she was physically assaulted, had the sign of hers with her deported husband on it torn and spit on. The results of the assault left her with a bruised arm. This is something we have observed with other demonstrators at Trump protesters from the last 2 years. The reactionaries in a mob will feel the urge and need to attack and assault individuals with impunity, in fact they are encouraged to do so by Trump himself. They have little to fear as they are of a position of overwhelming strength. In mobilizing against Trump inside the Midland our main concern was self-preservation of our forces. We had enough members rallying outside and enough inside together with the intent on defending one another should a Trumpite dare assault one of our comrades, thankfully this did not happen. We chose to position ourselves in a part of a theater where should an altercation happen we had ample room to defend ourselves with an exit for a retreat. After we were escorted out by the pigs our forces were able to unite with the larger show of resistance outside. Since then our organization has grown and our tactics in resistance has qualitatively improved as well.

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Kansas City United Against Trump

In essence this is an acknowledgement of our forces at the moment. Overall, we are in a weak position and the enemy is stronger than us. However, the enemy is not omnipotent. As Mao once again in his wisdom teaches us that :

The contest of strength is not only a contest of military and economic power, but also a contest of human power and morale.” [2]

Utilize Our Strengths to Overcome Our Weakness

 

In UMKC we have a much more organized presence than Trumpite fascists and in Kansas City in general there is no sympathy for the style of politics Trump can muster, which must call on their forces from other parts of the state to show out against the local people. In Kansas City our organization has the advantage in organizing resistance, we have areas of safe zones where we can retreat to conduct meetings, train to combat fascism and perform outreach. We have the advantage in preserving and replicating our forces through our conscious political organizing, the fascists can only duplicate their forces through recruiting from the outside not through the same grassroots methods we have adopted. Because our United Front is led by the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and not revisionism and certainly not radical liberalism and because we stress heavy internal organization we stand at an advantage to other groupings to combat fascism effectively. Even the most militant forces of anarchism, while they are more than willing to go toe to toe with fascists are not taking advantage of their organizational disunity and attempt to build a support base.

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Kansas City Anti-Fascists facing down Islamophobes and members of the Alt-Right at Washington Square Park

The fascists must converge from the outside-in to make their presence, they are purposely adventurist in their approach because they are confident in their martial abilities. They come with shields and other protective gear looking for brawls, guarded by armed oathkeepers and III%ers. This is all intimidating but what they severely lack is experience and support. In this they have made a fatal mistake, the enemy is lured in deep in territory that is hostile to them. They rely heavily on their fighting capability and weapons but do so at a point where the organic resistance to them does not rely on reinforcements from the outside, unlike them. In combatting the alt-right in this city we will have the advantage in that we know our surroundings, we know we have support and they do not, that they have chosen the field of battle to our advantage and like them we are also increasing our capacity to exact violence in an organized and disciplined manner. We do not organize our resistance to be guided by moral principles, but principles in which we can win. As such we will not venture out to hostile arenas where we will garner no support. We discourage people from doing this, from acting in individualist and most dangerously adventurist manners to be pummeled by a mob. In this we are much more disciplined than the fascists who are still learning and are adopting the methods of the Left in recognition that the way they build support is through propaganda in action, as the rally is the highest form of propaganda for the mass organizations. Through repeated rallies those who protest together develop a sense of solidarity over time. The fascists in the Alt-Right are in their larval stage, they are only recently coming out from the internet forums and 4chan, they do not even have a concept of security culture. What happened in Charlottesville was the testing of their strength, but they are also adventurist in character and for that they stand to lose. Unlike the Alt-Right we are not willing to sacrifice our comrades to fight them in areas where they are strong, they on the other hand choose to rally in urban areas where they are severely outnumbered and have historically been liberal and leftist bastions; Austin, Boston, San Francisco, Berkeley etc. Unlike the fascists we practice basic security culture which has promoted the protection of identities at protest and on social media. The fascists have utilized doxxing of anti-fascist activists who have slipped up in this regards, but they are at a severe advantage when they show themselves because on principle they do not mask up. With this, it is ripe for anti-fascists to take advantage of their arrogance to exact psychological terror on the enemy by posting their faces, names, addresses for home and work. This is something we have also learned the hard way. For their bravado they will be bloodied in the nose. On our end and those in our national Maoist mileu we of course have the advantage of being well organized in our areas of support, only in Austin did they test their strength against Maoists (which was sabotaged by the efforts of revisionists in splitting May Day), but even then they could not sustain a presence as they had to converge across the state. We also have no tendencies for engaging them where we have no support, if we decide to bring in outside forces it must be done in a manner where there already exists a capacity to replicate resistance locally and where the outside forces are not the main force. What we most lack however is the ability to engage in street battles in an organized and disciplined manner. It is with this that we must make great strides to close the gap with the fascist right. In order to do so we seek to draw some lessons from history.

The Independence of Leadership

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The People’s War in China (1927-1950) was simultaneously a revolution, a national liberation war and a titanic struggle against global fascism.


The question of how best to resist fascism was proposed by different actors on the Left throughout history from anarchists to Leon Trotsky and Georgi Dimitrov. There are limits to all of these approaches and with the latter two there are more similarities than differences despite the rhetoric of the Trotskyites in extoling difference.[3] In our opinion the shining example in constructing a United Front against fascism and imperialism does not lie in examples in France, Spain or Germany but in China and contemporarily in Syria. In China the revolutionary forces of Mao Tsetung were in Civil War with the Nationalist forces of Chang Kai Shek until June of 1937 when China was invaded by the Japanese imperialists. Mao Tsetung stood in defiance against Joseph Stalin who recommended the Chinese Communists liquidate their forces into the Chinese Nationalist Army so as to best effectively fight the Japanese invaders. This was thoroughly rejected by Chairman Mao and the Communists eventually proved to be the decisive force in inflicting the greatest number of casualties on the Japanese forces (who lost 80% of their forces in China to the Communists) in the course of the war.

The Rejection of Horizontalism

 

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In 1971 Jo Freeman, aka Joreen, wrote an essay directed towards the Women’s Liberation Movement called “The Tyranny of Structurelessness which critiqued what we know today as horizontalism or consensus based decision making.

 

What we may glean from this is that the Chinese Communists maintained an independent position towards fascism and never sought to liquidate their independence under bourgeois leadership. This is the essence which we must grasp in our anti-fascist work. We must also seek to never cede our political independence to liberals and while we may engage in a tactical unity with them, and view fascism as a primary contradiction which will hinder our growth, our growth will also falter if we liquidate and begin to tail. It also goes without saying that Communists and Maoists must always vie for leadership in the anti-fascist struggle. We must never fall into the liberal and radical liberal honey trap of seeking to put our forces on an equal playing field with other anti-fascists if we are more organized, more experienced and much more numerous, that is to only move forward based on consensus. Why would we practice such foolishness? Instead we should seek to convince them that their best interests are in following our lead.

The main argument to be made is that the enemy is disorganized, and only an organized force can resist them effectively. Nowhere in history has a decentralized resistance movement been able to turn the tides of reaction to establish a liberated society. They however can turn the tables and become organized and rout progressive and revolutionary forces which adhere to horizontalism as an organizational principle. The fascists are seeking to do such a thing and this was the premise of the “Unite the Right” rally and the conference called by Richard Spencer before that. An effective Anti-fascist strategy in it’s essence demands centralization, and in the case of resisting violent forces which seek to exterminate marginal communities it is the only way to turn resistance into an active revolution. Of course people are more convinced in deeds rather than words, and Communists in anti-fascist struggle must be thoroughly active and resolute if they are to gain leadership in the anti-fascist struggle. They cannot afford to be liberal and shirk mobilizing members, flyering and doing outreach to the masses to resist fascism but most importantly revolution. They certainly must not disregard the need to train in self-defense and arms. In our experience only the Maoists in Kansas City are taking the question of fascism seriously enough to provide a strong resistance, this in the simple reality that we are well equipped with theoretical knowledge and train ourselves regularly in self-defense.

We recognize a revisionist and opportunist streak which centers consensus based decision making vs centralized and meticulous planning. It seeks to launch an unaccountable leadership:

“If the movement continues deliberately not to select who shall exercise power, it does not thereby abolish power. All it does is abdicate the right to demand that those who do exercise power and influence be responsible for it. If the movement continues to keep power as diffuse as possible because it knows it cannot demand responsibility from those who have it, it does prevent any group or person from totally dominating. But it simultaneously ensures that the movement is as ineffective as possible. ” [4]

Our advice to Maoists across the nation is to seek leadership through being the most active and most organized. This is the only way to beat back the revisionist and opportunist tendency of anti-fascist resistance which takes on left and right forms but share the same essence.

Notes
[1] Mao Tse-tung. “Concentrate a Superior Force to Destroy the Enemy Forces One by One”(September 16, 1946), Selected Works, Vol. IV

[2] Mao Tse-tung. “On Protracted War” (May 1958), Selected Works, Vol. II

[3] Trotsky in criticizing the Comintern approach to fighting fascism with the adoption of the Popular Front referred to this as a “strike breaking conspiracy”. However, in an interview with Matteo Fossa a few years later Trotsky poses a hypothetical scenario in which the fascist Brazilian regime of Getulio Vargas were to come to blows with Great Britian which side the working class should be on. Trotsky says in his opinion it should be with the Brazilian regime. In Spain, the anarchists resisted the Comintern in liquidating all anti-fascist forces into the regular Republican Army. While in principle this was a correct line, the anarchists took a hostile stance to the Communists, and only recently were a part of the Republican government itself; present in the Finance and Justice ministries, similarly in the Generalitat of Catalonia. 

[4] Joreen (Jo Freeman), “The Tyranny of Structurelessness,”

 

 

Author: Red Guards Kansas City

Formerly known as Kansas City Revolutionary Collective

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