kites received the following from a reader in Southern California whose previous submission,“Catching Fire: Participant Reflections on the Summer of Protest and Rebellion,” appeared in kites #3.1
As an introduction to the culture by way of personal experience, when I was coming of age in the mid-late ’90s, skateboarding was a refuge for outcasts and rebels. It occupied a hazy overlap between otherwise more distinct sub- and countercultures, namely hip-hop and punk, that I had already been straddling. The mechanics of skating also appealed to my appreciation of science—in particular, physics—because tricks require either an explicit or implicit knowledge of how to manipulate the board in order for it to concretely perform how you abstractly conceptualized. Physics are fundamental to all sports, of course, but they feel more overt and pronounced in skating: grinds and slides produce friction, requiring you to wax surfaces; the board is not attached to the body, requiring you to scoop, slide, and stomp with precision in order for it to move with you over gaps, obstacles, and sets; and skating isn’t shy about reminding you of Newton’s third law—when you bail and hit the ground, the ground hits back.
kites received the following submission, which is based on interviews with healthcare workers in a hospital setting during the COVID-19 pandemic, from a reader in a major US city. While this piece is the result of an initial investigation, it gives more than a sense of the possibilities for communists to integrate with the massive concentrations of proletarians in the lower rung of the healthcare industry.
Many people inside and outside of Canada see this northern country as a society and a state which—while in many ways similar to the US—is friendlier, more progressive, and maybe even a bit socialist in comparison, given its system of socialized emergency services and basic medical care. This report calls bullshit on all that. Through the last two years of global health crisis, uprisings against police violence, the catastrophic destruction of climate change-induced extreme weather events, and a deeply-divided, faltering economy, it’s never been more apparent that a tiny fraction of society continues to amass obscene wealth to itself while a growing majority of the people are being pushed down into endless struggle for their livelihoods and lives. Furthermore, among the many struggling there is emerging a growing portion becoming completely dispossessed and denied any right to exist. What follows are the chronicles of these struggling and dispossessed—testimonies on the other side of Canada.
This special double-issue of kites contains the results of social investigations carried out by kites readers in the summer of 2021 in a few regions across the US and a dozen cities and regions across Canada. While these results are only initial, they cover a wide swath of the proletariat and other popular classes, from one coast to the other, from a housing project in New York City to homeless encampments in Minneapolis, from skate parks to hospitals, from regions choked by heat and fire to those where hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children who were victims of the Indian residential school system have been identified. Taken collectively, they present a number of important initial findings for those of us who hate this system and love the masses.
kites received the following submission from a group of readers who undertook a social investigation project this summer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This report is drawn from those conversations and interviews, which took place in the time period following the murder of Daunte Wright in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center and the conviction of killer cop Derek Chauvin but before the partial eviction of George Floyd Square and the killing of Winston Smith.
In front of a housing project, a young sister who had participated in the uprising told us that the people were like ants getting together to take down an elephant. Speaking both to the actual events of the rebellion and the larger context of the oppression of Black people and proletarian life in Minneapolis, she told us that the people were out protesting the murder of George Floyd and didn’t want to start fires until they were pushed up against a wall. Once they finally pushed back, they proved to the police that they were more powerful.
A small, multinational crew that has been reading kites journal united with the call to do social investigation about how the last year of pandemic and protest affected the lives of people. This past summer we spent dozens of hours talking with residents of the Queensbridge housing projects in Queens, New York.
For all their aversion to collective discipline and democratic centralism, for all their anti-vanguardism, for all their donning of dogmatic ideologies and petty sectarian bickering, it’s striking how firmly united most Leftists under the age of 35 in the US are on the notion that passing out free food, doing community gardens, and (maybe…most never get this far) some NGO-style tenant organizing will lead to…revolution? Beneath the absurdity lies the fact that revolution—in the sense of a civil war in which the bourgeoisie is overthrown, their state apparatus is destroyed, and the means of production are seized—has vanished from people’s political horizons. It has been replaced with grandiose illusions bearing monikers such as dual power, counterpower, “base areas,” and abolition. Unifying all these illusions is the notion that it’s possible to carve out “bottom-up” direct democratic forms of territorial (or “community”) control by the proletariat and oppressed people that gradually supplant bourgeois power without having to launch an all-out offensive aimed at the seizure of power—in other words, eating away at bourgeois rule without ever having to decisively overthrow it.
The title of this intervention is doubly ironic. First, because “abolitionism” is so often itself a grift, with the creation of an abolition-industrial complex consisting of Angela Davis speaking gigs, academics writing abolitionist books, activists securing Ford Foundation funding and partnerships with major corporations, nonprofit organizations garnering government and grant money to pay their employees higher salaries, and media appearances by abolitionists used to boost their following, fame, and finances. And second, because kites has been consistently polemicizing against abolitionism for its underlying reformist assumptions that somehow you can dismantle the bourgeoisie’s repressive apparatuses (police, prisons) without overthrowing the bourgeoisie and destroying its state apparatus through revolutionary civil war.1 The only abolitionism we can fully unite with is the call to abolish the sex trade, not because we think it will be possible to do so short of revolution, but because the call to abolish the sex trade draws a firm line of demarcation between revolutionary principle, on the one hand, and postmodernist petty-bourgeois apologies for capitalism-imperialism and its most insidious forms of exploitation, on the other hand.
Communists can’t succeed if our practice and ideas aren’t ever-developing with the political landscape, and we can’t develop as such if we never face our failures. This is precisely the hard lesson that forced Mao Zedong and the Communist Party of China to learn to summarize their experiences and to use their failures to come up with new strategies that would carry them to victory. It’s also the reason I first felt compelled to sit down and start writing this reflection almost two years in retrospect. Because for almost two years, this experience was something I had largely shut out—memories that I considered to be worthless because they belonged to a time before I gained the knowledge and skills that I have now. Failing to sum up this experience denied me the ability to move on from it, to grow politically, and to further refine the political work I do.
An Interview with Italy’s CARC Party by the kites editorial committee
Part 1 of On Granite Conviction: Revolutionary Communism in Italy Today
Editorial Introduction from kites
In early May 2020, the kites Editorial Committee conducted this interview with comrade Marco Pappalardo and other cadres of the CARC Party based out of Milan, Italy. The CARC Party was established as a party in 2004, however it emerged as a communist organization in the early ’90’s out of the prison solidarity movement that arose in the previous decade in resistance to the mass repression and the thousands of arrests of members and supporters of the Red Brigades and other fighting communist organisations of 1970’s. A distinguishing feature of the CARC Party is that it is one of two fraternal communist parties in Italy-the other being the (new) Italian Communist Party, ((n)PCI)-that uphold Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and follow compatible strategies, with each playing their own distinct role in the revolutionary process. Whereas the (n)PCI is a clandestine party that promotes and carries out protracted revolutionary people’s war,1 the CARC is an open party fighting for form the “People’s Block Government” (PBG). A PBG is conceptualized as a kind of government that will allow the popular masses to face the worsening of capitalist crises, and each of the two organizations see its formation as an important task in the first phase of the protracted revolutionary people’s war. That is to say the CARC Party and the (n)PCI see the PBG as a tactical measure within the overarching strategy of protracted revolutionary people’s war, particularly within its first, defense stage. In sharp contrast to the dogmatism of what kites has been calling the “church of PPW [protracted people’s war] universalism,” what impresses us is that the caravan of the (n)PCI has articulated the content of a revolutionary strategy on the basis of a comprehensive and concrete analysis of Italian conditions (which can be found in the Manifesto Program of the (n)PCI), and is has spent the 17 years since its founding as a party carrying out the actual work of the first phase of protracted revolutionary people’s war.2
In the interest of learning everything we can from seasoned and still-in-the-struggle communist revolutionaries—especially those in other imperialist countries, and even more especially those with a strong connection to and summation of the generations of revolutionary struggle that precede them—we in kites are in equal parts proud and humbled to present this interview with the CARC Party, an organization whose strategy and practice for bringing about a proletarian revolution in their imperialist country has achieved a level of clarity and development of thought that revolutionaries in other imperialist countries should expect and demand of their organizations. This interview, conducted in May 2021, is the first in a two-part series that we’re calling On Granite Conviction: Revolutionary Communism in Italy Today. Along with the forthcoming second part—an interview with Umberto Corti of the Central Committee of the (n)PCI—these interviews provide a sweeping overview of the movement of communist revolutionaries in Italy who are organizing to establish the PBG, overthrow “the Papal Republic,” and, through the protracted revolutionary people’s war, establish socialism and remove Italy from its position as an oppressor country within the overall capitalist-imperialist system. The final translation and edits to the contents of this interview from their Italian original have been reviewed and approved by the CARC Party. The footnotes in this interview have been written by the CARC Party, while pictures and captions are the work of kites editors.