Hiding behind shrubs and doing what it takes to win: old response to a comment
The following is an old comment that was made by Leading Light during an exchange between ourselves and the now-defunct Kasama Project on June 14, 2014. The debate was over First World organizing and tactics:
Mike Ely and others at Kasama Project have continued to mention Leading Light and others. Mike Ely accuses Leading Light of rightism because we advocate the use of every tool in the toolbox. This includes using deception on the class enemy. Strangely, Mike calls this “hiding behind shrubs.” Our view, is that if you can hide behind a shrub, good, but if you need an oak tree, then hide behind that. Our view is use whatever level of deception it takes. In those few instances when raising the red flag in the First World will advance the cause, do so. However, beyond a very small part of the activist ghetto, doing so is not effective. It is far more effective to have a range of politics appropriate to meet people where they are and gain access a greater resources. We state our line openly in numerous documents: fronts, cults, mafias, businesses, etc.
In reality, what is going on is that a small number of First World micro-sects identifying as “communist” are bickering over a very small segment of the online activist community and traditional, mostly college-based activist scene in the First World. It makes perfect sense to raise the red flag openly if this is the First World turf you are trying to occupy. It makes sense to post guerrilla pornography and engage in pretend solidarity if this it the turf you seek to conquer. Our view is that this turf is small potatoes, even in terms of the First World. In terms of what is possible in the First World, our efforts are aimed at producing as much real resistance, real concrete solidarity with the masses of the Third World as possible. To accomplish real solidarity, it is not always advisable to wear the red flag on your sleeve or state your mission openly. This is ABCs of power stuff. Those who make a big issue of this have never been involved in serious revolutionary struggle, which always involves a great degree of complexity and nuance. What is going on in this particular activist ghetto is that there are plenty of people who put their “communist” or “Maoist” identity above effectively aiding the masses of the Third World. It is a kind of fantasy that goes on in the First World. Some people pretend they are Civil War generals, some pretend they are wizards or witches, some pretend they are vampires. Others pretend they are Maoists. We don’t doubt that some of them are well meaning. No doubt some of them are motivated by a sense of justice. It is just that their sense of justice is overridden by their fantasy life. So, rather than engaging in real solidarity, they seek to one up each other, each raising their flag higher. It really isn’t a case of “raising the red flag to oppose the red flag” because the turf that is being fought over is so irrelevant. If it were worth it to create a First World micro-sect, a cult with communist rhetoric, to occupy this particular turf, then we could see the point, but it is just not cost effective for those at the top to micro-manage such an undertaking. Plus there is more promising turf out there. Perhaps they believe it is necessary to contend in their turf to assemble a First World core group that can be later used for bigger and better things. This may also be part of what is going on here, people are trying to stake their claims in the morass of First World pre-party soup. However, we are already long past that stage.
Our experience is that those who are brought in from this turf, on the whole, cannot be effectively transformed into leaders or soldiers as an organization moves to bigger and better things, at least for our purposes. There are exceptions of course. We simply don’t overlap with these groups nor recruit out of the same pools. We have our sights set much higher. We wish all those who are competing for this small turf, the best of luck so long as they stay out of our way, so long as they don’t wreck. We find it somewhat ironic that Kasama participants characterize our politics as “pessimistic,” when it is they who have cosigned themselves to the extreme margins. We see our politics as very optimistic, very materialist, very ruthless. We have strategic confidence in the real proletariat in the Third World. We have real strategic confidence in Global People’s War. We have strategic confidence is the most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism. We direct our blows where they will have maximum impact. In terms of the First World, we use those range of tactics that will have the broadest impact under extremely unfavorable conditions for revolution. There is nothing sectarian about our approach, in fact, our outlook allows us to work with the broadest range of forces to while still orienting toward the real proletariat in the Third World. By contrast, their politics and practices tend to be extremely limiting, which is why they are often more focused on each other than anything else. There is a lot of fantasy talk about “going deeper” and “mass line” and “lumpen organizing” that we hear from these particular quarters. Talk is cheap.
Again, we don’t really have a horse in the First World race.