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How did Maoism end up infesting U.S. radical politics? Was it partly through academia and its influences upon activism?

+2 votes
Besides the obvious things like the RCP, who were the individuals and institutions that were instrumental in the making of this mess? How did so many end up being unconscious of there own Maoism? Who and how has it been popularized of late?    

Since maoism has become "more intense and accepted", are there any source materials that map out the history of how things got so bad? Also, are there any books or pamphlets that go in depth on both maoistic organizing ideas, strategies, and ideologies so anarchists can have a better grasp of what to watch out for, and how to appose this adversity?

This question is related to this previous question http://anarchy101.org/16016/how-anarchism-and-radical-politics-changed-over-past-years?show=16016#q16016
asked Jan 26 by anonymous
edited Jan 26
i would guess that it was a factor of two things: one, the changes that were happening in the 70s around the world were nationalist struggles that fit fairly nicely into the maoist model (or at least were reported to). so there seems to be an efficacy argument ("this is what works"). second, the u.s. (i have read, and agree) has a culture based on guilt, or at least middle class white u.s. culture is guilt-based, and that fits well with the idea that people with privilege should sacrifice themselves for some Other (which never ends up going that far, somehow...).

that's my best guess, and doesn't address all your question. i expect someone is doing or has done a thesis paper on this at some point...

For the moment (until I or someone else comes up with a more complete answer), here is something that might be of interest. Not so much a "how Maoism got in my anarchy?" but rather critique, but I find some of the critique helpful context, personally:

Against Identity Politics

the initial attraction of (especially) young people in the so-called first world to the seemingly successful peasant-focused anti-colonial struggles (centering on the most successful -- china in 1949) had a lot to do with the horrors of the soviet experiment (the show trials, the abandonment of world revolution, the events of 1956 -- the party congress denouncing the crimes of stalin and stalinism, plus the armed suppression of the hungarian uprising). the maoist experiment held out some sort of anti-colonial promise, fostered by their rejection of the post-1956 rightward turn in soviet marxist-leninism (maoists still found the policies of stalin to be correct). the peasant focus of maoism also included lip service to raising up oppressed groups, which, significantly, included ethnic minorities and sometimes women. in the united states, many young people were beginning to reject the crude anti-communism of the liberal establishment, and the maoist analysis of (especially) black people as an internal colony began making sense as white kids started confronting jim crow after the montgomery bus boycott and the murder of emmet till. having an analysis of american racism that undercut the usual american exceptionalism of the mainstream made maoism and other forms of stalinism attractive for guilt-infused white folks (as dot mentioned). a similar influence was felt among non-white second wave feminists.

the primary institution/organization responsible for the popularization of maoist ideas and practices was students for a democratic society, which, at their convention in 1969, had a final split between competing maoist factions (revolutionary youth movement one and revolutionary youth movement two). i can't remember which one went to the right into progressive labor but the other one went left into weatherman. a further split occurred not long after in the weather faction, leading to the rightist formation (but not as right as progressive labor) of avakian's revolutionary union, which later became the rcp.

weatherman was the most leftward maoist faction in north america, which is the primary reason for a certain kind of anarchist to be attracted to them. this attraction culminated in the 1980s and early 1990s with the creation of the anarchist black cross that expressed their solidarity with "political prisoners and prisoners of war," which was basically anyone who'd been involved in self-described anti-imperialist armed struggle in the united states. the abc federation became so twisted up in their own ideological contradictions that they refused to support anarchist prisoners because most anarchist prisoners were not sentenced for acts of resistance to the imperialist policies of the united states (this led several anarchist prisoners to refer to themselves as klingons [star trek reference]). the dissatisfaction with this nonsense led some other anarchist prison solidarity folks to split from the federation and call themselves the anarchist black cross network. neither formation lasted very long. but the pro-armed struggle wing of the anarchist scene was boosted in certain publishing and distribution decisions of the original ak press and especially kersplebedeb.

the continual influence of maoism among anarchists plays out in the discourse(s) around identity politics, especially as it relates to anti-racism. the problem isn't being against racism, but in the promotion of a particular way of being anti-racist, which mandates particular organizational forms.

there's so much more to look into, but with any luck, my response gives you a little taste.

Maoism in the United States and another article that may help you out. There are a lot of writings about Maoism appeal to leftists in the US that have similar titles. If you have access to something like jstor, there are a bunch of articles that discusses your question.

you can see for yourself here (they have adopted a few anarchist prisoners by now, but you can see the majority of their projects are national liberationists)


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