Nasty sectarian in-fighting, 1977 Maoist Edition

In 1977, soon after Mao Zedong’s death and the arrest of the Gang of Four, the Revolutionary Communist Party–which at this time, was actually quite vibrant–came apart, largely due to in-fighting around how to interpret and proceed the changes happening in Chinese politics.  As written in Heavy Radicals: The FBI’s Secret War on America’s Maoists–The Revolutionary Union/Revolutionary Communist Party 1968-1980 (2015):

In this both sides behaved badly.  Former comrades now ridiculed one another in the most unkind terms.  There were death threats and violent confrontations, some quite serious, particularly on the East Coast and in the Midwest.  The vitriol was mean-spirited, from caricatures of Avakian dressed up as a pimp…to attacking then Avakian’s wife by writing her telephone number on a bathroom wall in the “for a good time” adolescent mode (leading to obscene phone calls).  On the opposite end there were ad-hominem insults…and name-calling leveled at former comrades such as, “the herky-jerky theoretician”, and quite a few others, all while railing against “unprincipled methods”…All of this was in keeping with the abandonment of any sense of mutual respect and political decorum. (Leonard and Gallagher 2015: 212-213)

Unfortunately, I could easily see this happening today.  Hell, it pretty much is happening today, based on my peripheral perspective on the local anarchist scene.  I think there is a lot of value in trying to emphasize and uphold principles around amicable discussion and debate, and mutual respect, even in situations of high stress and interpersonal conflicts; but the tendency to label particular opposing or contradictory viewpoints as “reactionary”, “fascist”, and/or “liberal” is going to present a major obstacle to such principles being adopted by the radical left community as a whole in the near future.  But without such principles, and the general ability to sort out differences in a respectful and constructive manner, any revolutionary organization (or network of organizations) that might emerge will be prone to being splintered and isolated.


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