Yoda’s Lessons


In the Star Wars movies, the force is a bunch of hocus pocus combined with cheesy mysticism. However, in that fictional world, it was the force that gave the jedi his power. Revolutionary science is a real life version of the force for those seeking to destroy imperialism and fight for total liberation. In The Empire Strikes Back (directed by George Lucas), Yoda, again and again, stopped the impetuous and unprepared Luke from going against the Empire too early. He stressed to Luke that he had to learn the force and train before going off to battle the dark side. This is an important lesson that Leading Lights appreciate. Before we go out and try to confront the system head-on, we have to have a good grasp of revolutionary science.

Practicing revolutionary science means that we have to analyze our situation, the objective conditions, so as to not charge headstrong into a battle that can’t be won at present. There are those who, like Luke, desire to rush into battle no matter what. They think anything is possible, if they give their all. This is a hallmark of the politics of emotionalism. Then, when they lose, they get discouraged and give up altogether. These forces make the error of setting their sights too high or too low because they don’t have a good grasp of what is possible nor do they have scientific patience. They think in terms of all or nothing. Focoism, the politics associated with Che Guevara, tends to downplay the role of analysis and theory. Rather than having a protracted view of struggle based on a scientific assessment of possibilities, focoists tend to throw themselves into battle and hope things will somehow work out. Launching armed struggle in the First World in the near future is a catastrophic error; it is absolutely suicidal and only brings repression.

Another error is “movementarianism.” These people have a narrow view that does not see beyond what is in front of them at the moment. They throw themselves into whatever struggles happen to be before their eyes. Rather than understanding any broader picture, they just think that if everyone just threw themselves into issue organizing, then everything will work out. Because they don’t have revolutionary science, these people can’t see the possibility of anything like real revolutionary work. They tend to end up in reformism and working for social-fascism on behalf of the labor aristocracy. Even if their “heart is in the right place,” they can’t see how their organizing is reactionary or whether they are working cross-purposes.

Think of the confused Trotskyist who says that we ought support “our” troops one day. Then, the next day, he says we ought support the Iraqis. And, when Muddlehead is confronted about the contradiction of his two assertions, what is the poor Trotskyist to do? Flip a coin? “Heads – I support America, tails, Iraq?“ Read tea leaves? This is a real world problem about not having class analysis and revolutionary science. Another example, Muddlehead goes around spouting that the Americans deserve a bigger piece of the pie without realizing that he is fanning the same fascist fire as Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs. Because Leading Lights have revolutionary science, we know that we clearly stand with those fighting the America as a whole, including the American so-called working class. Because Leading Lights have revolutionary science and political courage, we don’t sit on the fence. Leading Lights can clearly answer: who are our enemies and who are our friends?

As Yoda told Luke, before we rush into battle, we have to educate ourselves and make sure we have a grip on revolutionary science. Narrow empiricism and narrow pragmatism, going off unprepared, all lead to despair and pessimism. Without a scientific understanding, the enemy can seem invincible. Do not presume the enemy to be invincible. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Seeing only the power of the enemy’s military machine, for example, but not its weakness goes against revolutionary science. Revolutionaries, as Mao said, are optimists.

Suggested readings: Combat Liberalism by Mao Zedong, On Correcting Mistaken Ideas in the Party by Mao Zedong

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