On the Release of Issue 4 of Demarcations

February 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From a reader:

I wanted to write my deep appreciation and excitement on the publication of the new issue of Demarcations and especially on the polemic, “Ajith—A Portrait of the Residue of the Past.”

I have to say I was initially very challenged by feeling the contradiction of wanting to dive right into this polemic while, at the same time, feeling great necessity around the moment we find ourselves in, especially in building on the victory of the Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian, and continuing to fight to advance the struggle for justice sparked by the determined actions of the defiant ones of Ferguson, Missouri. “Should I try to get right into the polemic or put it off for a few days to try to find the time to get into it?” In the end I decided that a few days might well become a few weeks, months, whatever and that I would find the time to read the polemic.

In my case, I decided that I would try getting up 45 minutes early each day before work and spend the time reading the polemic. As I got more into it, I found more time than I imagined. And I am really glad I did because the penetrating analysis in the polemic—on comparing and contrasting the approach, method, and orientation between Ajith and Bob Avakian—the epistemological roots of Ajith’s worldview, where these two roads lead and the potential consequences for the masses of people, is incredibly relevant both in an ongoing way insofar as the responsibilities of revolutionary communists (and as members of the Party of BA) and also in the moment we find ourselves, where many of the lines and outlooks we find ourselves confronting and struggling with, find expression in the work of Ajith. It is one thing to confront these lines and outlooks among sections of the people. It is far worse for them to be presented as the road forward being fought for by communists. The description “Vanguard of the Future or Residue of the Past” absolutely captures the significance of this debate.

For me, a starting point with the polemic is in understanding the stakes of the struggle concentrated around Ajith’s attempt to attack and slander BA and the new synthesis of communism he has brought forward—and that clarity on this question has everything to do with the possibility of the emancipation of all humanity. The polemic makes this clear in an opening paragraph: “In reality, Ajith makes an all-around assault on revolutionary communism, not only as it has been advanced by Avakian’s new synthesis of communism but on the fundamental building blocks of Marxism itself.” This should make people pause and think about the significance of the ideological struggle and its relationship to the political battles we are waging. We are locked in a life-and-death struggle—can the new synthesis of communism brought forward by BA force itself onto the world stage as the material force for revolution? There have been tragic examples in the international arena of where the lack of such a material force has contributed to terrible setbacks—Egypt for one.

The polemic is rich and layered. It deserves much more than one reading and there is far too much for me to try to recapitulate. However, I did find that the authors’ breaking down Ajith’s attacks into 10 central positions very helpful because, not only is there so much to dig into, but because Ajith’s method of relying on eclectics to make his arguments can easily leave a reader somewhat confused. One thing I thought that the polemic did especially well was break down how, at the heart of Ajith’s argument, is the outlook that we can’t use communism to understand the material world and human social relations in all their contradictoriness in order to transform the world (and develop our understanding of the science itself—as BA has done with the new synthesis of communism—in the process), but are essentially condemned to go forward on the basis that “what is good for the proletariat is true,” with a reified view of the proletariat that is profoundly linked to national chauvinism and capitulation.

As the authors repeatedly expose, Ajith relies on the same erroneous methodology as he is criticizing Avakian for employing and, for me,  underscored the importance of more deeply engaging with communism as a science—and the continuing importance of continually interrogating ourselves from the standpoint as that team of scientists out to change the world.

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