Saturday, March 12, 2016

(An excerpt from a critique "The Promise of Communism, The 'Four Alls' ", and Bob Avakian's New Synthesis", written by Daunte Reed)

...“And I said, ‘aw, come on, now’ ”, RCP!—Can you Tell Us What Communism IS?
And of course, the other part of “lighting up the skies” is “the future we are fighting for”. And this is also what I’m trying to get at here. I think the vision of communism as understood and propagated by the RCP, (with notable exceptions!) is somewhat impoverished (maybe I really mean something like “diminished”, “lacking”). The same can be said about the worldwide communist movement historically. That’s a pretty strong characterization. I say “somewhat”, because there is so much richness and wealth in there as well. But, for me, the operative word is “impoverished”, because something (or maybe more than something) is lacking, missing, of vital importance, which must be there, spelled out, shouted from the highest heights—and isn’t— something vital to an understanding of what our cause should be all about. And BA’s [Bob Avakian's] new synthesis is a basic (yes, I will use the term) “revelation” in this regard—in all of its components.
[Avakian's] discussion of “epochal contrast” and how communist society will “[embody] a conception of freedom in a much greater dimension and, yes, a positive character, as well as encompassing aspects of negative freedom” captures it. It is well worth going back over that excerpt from BA, and pondering what is being said. And, again, this, in essence, is what has (in significant ways, if not totally) been missing from the portrayal of communism.
This can be brought to life in a powerful way. Indeed, in places, it has been. And, as I’ve suggested in previous writings—..., more than anything, what characterizes the “epochal contrast”, and at the heart of it all, is that humanity becomes a “conscious collectivity” of freely associating, mutually flourishing inhabitants of Earth. This is the freedom that communism opens up, and that we aspire to. And this is true as opposed to all the other major, vital, defining characteristics of that epochal contrast [such as the social ownership of the means of production, a new relationship between production and distribution (“from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs), etc.]. [This could be misleading or misinterpreted. I don't mean to belittle, or negate such characteristics by using the phrase “as opposed to”. But, I do want to, perhaps, elevate the concept of “conscious collectivity”, or “community of humanity” to a more overall and encompassing way in which communism might be envisioned and/or defined (DR, January 15, 2016)]
This is what the emancipation of humanity is fundamentally about. Once again:
    ...This freedom lies fundamentally and essentially in the ability of people to act together, and to struggle over how to act together, to radically transform society, in interrelation with transforming nature: to first of all uproot exploitation and oppression and social antagonism and move to a whole new era beyond all that, and then to interact with each other, and with nature, through non-antagonistic relations, to continue transforming the world and, yes, people, on an increasingly conscious and voluntary basis... This is a very powerful expression of positive freedom” ([Bob Avakian] from the quote from “Birds...Crocodiles...” referenced above)
I mean, you can go down the list of the Four Alls elucidated by Karl Marx:  
    ...the proletariat rallies more and more around revolutionary Socialism, around Communism... ... the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the [1] abolition of class distinctions generally, [2] to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, [3] to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, [4] to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations.” [the 4 Alls]
    from: Karl Marx, The Civil Wars in France, (Abstract of Chapter 3) Online Version: Marx/Engels Selected Works ( 1999
This has been the most concentrated expression of what we have referred to as communism. The operative word in our understanding of the “Four Alls” is (and has been) “abolished”. [I sometimes want to refer to the Four Alls as the “Three Abolitions and the one Revolutionization”, because that’s how they wind up(!)] Abolishing them is but half of the goal. The other half should embody a vision of a communist world.
    An Attempt to Flesh Out the Four Alls
1. An end to class distinctions—An entire epoch of human existence will have been transcended. As we have understood it, the emergence of classes among humans was preceded by various forms of communalism (and this historic fact alone—even in comprehending such early forms of society that persist, in pockets, today—can and should be understood as refutation of the notion of so-called “selfish human nature”!) These native, indigenous communal societies probably had/have some expressions of selfishness, but on the whole, it seems, that’s not what has characterized them. (And in some recent understandings of small pockets of such civilizations which have continued in this modern world, individuals in those societies who persisted in selfish motivations have been dealt with by resolute means so that they could not corrode the cooperative bases of their communities). People had to work in common, for the common good, because of scarcity, and this demanded general standards of cooperativeness, sharing, and, also, an approach to sustainability, often in brutal settings of unforgiving natural hardships.
True, these societies may not have been at the level of scientific understandings and approaches to life on earth, the cosmos, the whys and wherefores of things. But, they were applying consciousness, and collective ways to understand how to sustain life. They often grasped important ways that the forces of life were interconnected. And they lived according to these understandings, even if this was circumscribed by whatever worlds (ecosystems) various peoples found themselves in (and within which they had to carry on with life).
In addition, it’s worth noting that within their small worlds, many of these earlier societal formations were totally connected to the earth, and many (not all) of them practiced sustainable ways of living in nature. This can be held in stark contrast to our modern world which has all but severed any sustainable link between human beings and their habitat. Today, we can look to these earlier understandings and embrace them as “proof” of what humans are capable of! (And compare/contrast THIS with the ignorance and stupidity about such matters which characterized subsequent “more advanced” incarnations of societal development, up to, and certainly including the disastrous ugliness at the heart of modern human society. And I’m talking here of prevailing outlooks and ideologies. There have been, and are, standout, stand up, and passionate voices for righteousness, sanity and sustainability amid the horrors).
In that sense, by comparison, then, can there be any doubt about what level of social formation really has practiced and understood, in the sense of “conscious collectivity”, how humans SHOULD be, MUST be? On a certain very basic level, there is much to learn and there are indeed the shoots and seeds of what humans, in bringing the communist revolution to life, should look to. That basic link, which has been severed by modern society, must be restored. And this severed link has been skirted over and has not fundamentally been acknowledged by the communist revolution, historically speaking.
This should not mean that we fall into false notions that it’s all about “negation of the negation”, or that there is teleology involved. But “reality is (and has been) what it is (and has been)”! Just one obvious and somewhat better known example:
    "In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine." This is an often repeated saying, and most who use it claim that it comes from “The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations: The Great Binding Law.”
    In fact, the original language is as follows: In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground – the unborn of the future Nation.
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Where has ANY historically subsequent human society even touched the insight and scope (and poetic vision!) of “7 Generation Sustainability”? You will not find it! Anywhere! Even in the best, even in the “highest pinnacle”, the GPCR (the Cultural Revolution in China). Aside from the “Seven Generation Sustainability” tenet that “self interest shall be cast into oblivion, and its counterparts: “fight self, repudiate revisionism” and “serve the people” (important slogans from the GPCR), we will not find an overarching approach such as this simple and profound doctrine, this basic moral guidepost, this “GREAT BINDING LAW” in the guiding principles of the first socialist societies.
Nothing in the lexicon, the science, the history of the communist revolution, appreciates THIS fundamental approach to conscious collectivity/sustainability, save perhaps Marx’s thoughts on “usufructories” which was touched on in BA’s [Bob Avakian's] piece, “What a Look at a World Map is Good For):
    From the standpoint of a higher economic form of society, private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite as absurd as private ownership of one man by another. Even a whole society, a nation, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the globe. They are only its possessors, its usufructuaries, and, like boni patres familias, they must hand it down to succeeding generations in an improved condition.” (1967, III, p. 776)
I don’t have a copy of BA’s article available, and I couldn’t find it online, so I am going from a somewhat compromised recall of how BA looked at this. [I have since found this in Reflections, Sketches & Provocations by BA (“The Land Question in the Final Analysis is a Global Question, or, What a Look at a World Map is Good For”)]
[About this whole point—flesh it out! Also, refer to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China 1975 ( Compare it to the Constitution for a New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) , but as well, to see how the Iroquois Confederacy looked at some important matters; Also, in this regard, I suggest a Peking Review article on recycling/multi-purpose use from 1972 ]
This consideration also would have bearing on the discussion of various strands of “productive forces” lines, and “what level” of productive forces must be in place in order for the communist revolution to be successful. Abundance, too, is a prerequisite and is related to the level of productive forces. But, as well, who can say what level of abundance is necessary? By raising this question, I don’t mean to make light of the need for abundance. After all, for example, how can we get to communism if the overwhelming majority of humanity, however equalized this might become, spends the great bulk of its life laboring to produce life’s necessities (And a relative handful is left to “work with ideas”)? This problem is posed very richly and provocatively in Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed (Interestingly, LeGuin is a self-described anarchist.), and it is taken by the horns in important strands of Avakian’s new synthesis.

As well, in these earliest of societies, there were tribal wars, scarcity, and sometimes brutal paths to resolving contradictions among the people [or between various peoples, tribes, clans]. There was also a pronounced and deep division of labor between male and female for the obvious reasons we know today, and, which we also know, has very sharp ramifications in modern society... 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

If “Can”, and “Must”, and “ShouldBecome

If from these shores where we now stand
By ocean, lake, and river tides,
And cast our thoughts to other lands,
Our hearts to other sides—

If from our lives we lift our sights
From barrio and ghetto-‘hood,
Past walls of prison days and nights
Toward “can”, and “must”, and “should”—

If from our blinders we depart
To find the sky’s immense expanse
Reflecting back into our heart
The world where others dance—

Where cargo goes and comes around,
Where forests stripped by profit greed,
And camps, and mines, and shantytowns
Twist every human need—

Through manacles on minds and hearts,
Through lives of class and lives of caste,
Where we and others dance our parts,
Millenniums have passed—

In cratered cities, blood-soaked lands,
With lives still stalked by heartless fates
Set loose on earth by deathly hands;
We gather at the gates—

When at these gates, and from these shores,
Begins a full and true embrace
Where “can”, and “must”, and “should” combine;
We touch each other’s face—

And, recognize ourselves in kind
As tears and laughter rise and fall
From many-colored countenance;
We rip the darkened pall—

If from these shores, and at these gates,
We reach to claim our life on Earth,
And, “can”, and “must”, and “should” reveal
A better world in birth…

Monday, October 5, 2015

Moon is gone

(October 4, 2015:  “Just write”, she told me. “Write something every day. Can’t wait on inspiration. You have to work at it…”)

moon is gone,
heavens cloaked in rushing clouds
crying their hearts out;
dark grief (the seed of unfathomable pain)
stalks corralled, restless steeds,
relentless pacing, bridled, tethered;
primed to burst open thickening cloudscape
and rampage along dizzying ascents
lined by guardian hearts
of blinding affirmation


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

my “secret life/wife” -- its demands and agenda (written in three parts in late 1997)

(This 3-part piece opened up some dialog with significant others in my life, including a written correspondence with my mother over a couple years. It all spurred me to think more, and write more, about other relevant matters, even up to today. I'm working on improving the poetry for future efforts. In this piece, I just used some poetic devices to try to bring thoughts and feelings alive: In Part I, there is loss of love, and a love letter; In part II, a reply to the love letter; In part III, a look at a small sliver of reality and a hope for the future. Please feel free to comment.)

my “secret life/wife” -- its demands and agenda (written in three parts in late 1997)

Part I

how could i explain it to her?
i thought of putting it all up for grabs
(for her/for her love)
for a moment i thought of this
because i had been
plunged headlong into abyss
yanked off the chasm's edge with heart in tatters
flailing like a ghost against a hurricane
yet hanging on
with all the faith i could gather
i managed to slow my descent
the more i laid it all bare
and spread out my arms --
and i never hit bottom;

(how close did i get
to being shattered beyond repair,
beyond recognition,
beyond one i so desire to be?
that was some chasm!
never seen no shit like that before!)

her letter of love found me in this turmoil
of cross-current winds
and swirling fogs --
it healed
it etched a scar across me

i pull myself back onto the precipice
scrapes, bruises, shakes and all
i stand on that ledge,
glance back down into that milieu
of conflict and wonderment
as it roils and tosses
even the most steadfast
with challenges of a million lifetimes
and i breathe in deeply
(so that's where and how big questions
get posed and concentrated!
well, i'll be a blue-nosed gopher!)

i grasp her letter,
clutch it,
turn from that ledge
and go running after her:
“hey, darlin'! 
wait a minute!
i've got some things to talk about!”

Part II

(from her letter)
....”Yes, I have even wished that we could partner up in this life and take it on together. That meant that I was wishing to not be as I am in certain fundamental ways, ways which would clash horribly (for me) with ways of yours...These 'ways of yours' are your 'secret life/wife' --its demands & agenda.  I have made no secret that I do not believe in the agenda, nor that I am not unlike most other women and could not tolerate its demands.  It is trying as a friend.  It would be impossible as a wife...”

(A reply of sorts)
How can I explain it to her?  Some of these things I thought of as my hands moved over her back one day, massaging, rubbing, stroking, caressing.  And as I sat her back and saw her eyes were closed and there was serenity and calm upon her face, I felt I had helped to bring some peace to her.  And I found myself thinking...2,000 years from now (or maybe 1,731 years, or more, or less) if earthlings still walk the face of this planet, I can only imagine and desire that a few simple things would have come to be.  It would, however, be their world, and much of it would be of their own making.  Yet, maybe it be something like this--

Maybe it's Lin Yi, or Gabriela, or Zhodwa, or Milos or La'shon arising, stretching, inhaling, exhaling, peering out windows and doors, then with a laugh, stepping out, jogging to gatherings where everyone (dozens, scores, everywhere on earth) would be buzzing about the latest controversies, advances, breakthroughs, obstacles, or astir with news of a new art form or theory of space travel or better ways of growing food or producing housing, or ways that people in all their diversities could mix it all up in more exciting fashion.  Or, maybe a group of youth has somewhere on earth brought a new dance to the human table.  They'd be talking about it, whatever it is, over their meals, at work, whenever... They're all friends here, family of the closest kind.

Wherever they walk the planet rocks, and everyone works about four hours a day, doing what's needed (And going to work is the most fun of all because what's done there is for the good of all, and for no other reason!)  How incredibly tuned in they all are (to needs -- to the needs of the whole world and everyone in it).  It's that conscious, and that real.  And even thru arguments (in the fields, factories, streets, schools, labs, studios, anywhere) - disputes mild or heavy, over right or wrong, over possibilities, amid soul-stirring battles for truth ripping through all reaches of human life - they confront with “tender ferocity”, so freed up to take it all on and keep raising the level higher.

The same would be the “currency” in any endeavors (individual or collective), cooking up stir-fry challenges, feeding each other's fires for the cosmic advance.  And, every individual is held by all to be a part of this.  You see the children everywhere, also a part of it all.  They could be anyone's, could be everyone's.  You see the elders everywhere, also a part of it all (could be anyone's, could be everyone's).  They're all friends here, family of the closest kind, wherever human heart pulses.  And with each glimpse, you'd see so much - the pride, the knowing - and maybe it's Lin Yi or Gabriela or Zhodwa, Milos or La'shon (they all know so much in their time of work, in their time of leisure—this is about their life) and the pride, the knowing that anywhere on this planet, humans behold one another as their own, behold their earth as a home that above all must be tended to and passed along thru the human dance drumming life pulse of contentious harmony thru time in a spiraling (upward) search (together) into a universe in flux - the stars, the atoms, themselves.

Every day they arise, stretching, inhaling, exhaling, peering out doors and windows, then with a laugh of libertad, bolting out under that sky where every day wherever they are, that constant reminder (even written on the very air they breathe) - “This is all yours, yes it belongs to all of you.  Treat it all with care and with your vision to the farthest horizons, the generations to come.  Take responsibility for each other/the whole, the future distant.”

This would be the only “currency”.  This would be how “human nature” would create itself. 

And on the crest of the waves of song and celebration at the end of the day over ice-sheathed summits/sweltering tropic rain forests/grasslands/deserts/towns/farms/sunset-moonrise, contented and anxious for the coming day, maybe it's Lin Yi, Gabriela, Zhodwa, Milos, La'shon stretching out to touch each other's faces, and with powerful embrace, turning to look back, maybe 2,000 years (or maybe 1,731 years, or more, or less) to their ancestors (ourselves, now) and the world we were born into...

Where millions starved, were driven into shantytowns, trapped in prisons, ghettoes, barrios, went homeless, and died of illnesses even while the means were at hand for all to be fed and housed and made well.

Where wars of plunder and domination shed blood across a planet divided into “nations”.

Where governments of nations propped up their systems of exploitation with brutal force.

Where women and children were raped, abused, demeaned.

Where some nationalities were enslaved, oppressed, brutalized by others.

Where poison by-products of “progress” and “development” nearly destroyed the planet, and natural resources were laid to waste.

Where hopelessness held too much sway; resignation to all the oppressive workings buried deep within; dreams and visions deferred and lost.

Where so many people were so alienated from each other by the workings of things.  Often able to connect with each other solely thru exchange of money (and there was a price tag on everything, and even on people), and so many people had so little or no money with which to procure the means to live.

Where “look out for #1” was the cold, cynical “human nature” called forth,  propagated and promoted by systems,  structures, methods which had only “profit” for “raison d'etre”, lifeblood, motivating factor.  Where all the vast and powerful means and forces to resolve all these insane realities were owned and controlled by a handful at the helm of all this - a handful that appropriated as “private” all that was produced collectively by the billions who “slaved” for them.

And as Lin Yi, Gabriela, Zhodwa, Milos, La'shon might look back to us and all these unspeakable workings that shape our world, so destructive, painful, twisted and obscured, they likely would hold close to their hearts their namesakes of our time and millions and billions of people of our time who went up against these workings in many daring and powerful ways.

And they no doubt would hold close to their  hearts those of us who struggled mightily to envision them and their world, and who felt impelled to take responsibility for the future, and who determined that taking such responsibility could only mean (with our vision cast to the farthest horizons, locked in our hearts and the cores of our beings) preparing for and carrying out mass revolutions to shatter all those existing relations and their ideological props and begin to bring into being something entirely different.

This then is that era/stage of human history in which we take beginning, concrete steps and leaps to destroy exploitation and oppression, free humanity, and save our planet.  It has begun.  These are the “years between”, the “years of transition”.

Thru victories and defeats, reversals and mistakes, successes and liberating transformations, it can be seen:  A better world is in birth.

And here I stand amid the whole wrenching process, and I can only say:  This then (yes!) is my agenda (and certainly it is not just mine).  It is not a “wife”.  And how could it possibly be a “secret”?...

...So, these things I thought of some as my hands moved over her back one day...And as I sat her back and saw her eyes were closed and there was serenity and calm on her face, I felt I had helped to bring some peace to her.  And I thought:  There is something else of hers that I would love to massage, caress, stroke and kiss to set her loose all aglow and radiant...(it might even melt all the ice and the snows of winter).

We have to love and care for each other while keeping our “eye on the prize”, while preparing for and playing our part in revolution.  Otherwise, we'd never get there.  But we must keep our eye on the prize.  It's all toward the same horizon.

This is how I had chosen to live.  For today, tomorrow, 2,000 years ahead.  And, darlin' you know I want to “be with you”.  I'm calling, reaching for you to “be with me”...the rose, the dance...

Part III

(The Future and a Bag of Chips:  Does a Young Girl Have Any Choice At All?)

she was eleven or twelve last time i saw her -
my best friend's neighbor...
(my best friend has walls decorated with crayon drawings
by 11 or 12-year-old neighborhood kids
which have huge hearts and declare:
“we love you, theresa”)
...whose name is “lala”
whose parents drank
whose house had walls crawling with bugs,
who had to look after a kid brother
(and her parents as well)
whose clothes were rags
who was just an eleven or twelve year-old girl
who laughed and played

and whenever she touched those crayons
the pages sang with color and design
she made the pages radiate and sing and “draw you in”

with all she had to shoulder
with all that beset her
with all the mood swings and frustrations
and inevitable dysfunctions --
when that sidewalk stepped up to her chalk
and that page turned up to her crayon
the planet rocked..
patterns of particle/waves
broke on dull gray shores
striking radiant chimes of almost
deafening cascades of color --
this much any fool could tell

but living in this world can sometimes
smother torch and ember
and soon she stopped sending
those solar-strength flares

i asked theresa to encourage her
and she said:
“that girl can't see beyond the bag of chips in her hand
...much less the future”

and, yes, well, all-right-then,
who hasn't from time-to-time had trouble
seeing beyond that bag of chips?

i can only say:  don't despair
some of us out here have
sworn our lives to
set loose the spirits and inmates
from their cells
so they can wreak havoc on a world of wrong
and bury it under megatons of
killer roses, lilies, daffodils (and plum blossoms!)

and we will help the little devils of today
to catch a good glimpse of fleeting figures
just beyond that bag of chips
figures that look a lot like
lin yi, gabriela, zhodwa, milos and la'shon
dancing like a riot on a rain-soaked day
no, don't despair
and don't act too surprised
if one day you inquire after lala
and find that she went “down by the riverside”
(to lay down her bag of chips
and to pick up her crayons
and her sword and shield)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(Writer's note:
The reference at the end of “The Future and a Bag of Chips...” to going “down by the riverside” is a play on a song (spiritual/gospel) I learned as a child.  I believe it was named:  “Study War No More”, in which there is a verse which goes:  “I'm gonna lay down my sword and shield down by the riverside...and study war no more”.  This would (hopefully) be the reality for Lin Yi, Gabriela, Zhodwa, Milos and La'shon (future people).  But in these days, these times, we (present people) in our millions/billions, must arm ourselves with everything it will take to make that dream a viable possibility.)