Queensbridge Projects and the NYCHA-mare of Disrepair and Neglect

by kites readers

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.

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Revolution has vanished, replaced with fantasies of dual power, counterpower, “base areas,” abolition, and other “bottom-up” bourgeois-democratic illusions

By Kenny Lake

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.

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Abolish Grifterism

What no democratic centralism does to a motherfucker: former “Maoist” and current CNN talking head Van Jones receiving a 100-million dollar donation from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, following Bezos’s vanity 10-minute space flight.

by the kites Editorial Committee

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.

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Lessons from Beyond the Grave

A Case Study of Opportunism and a Summation of Efforts by Renters Together in Lawrence, Kansas

by Akio (Written March 2021)

kites received the following from a reader in Lawrence, Kansas in response to Welcome to Splitsvillle. Population: Every Leftist Organization of the Last Decade—A Call for Summations, not Subtweet Recriminations.

Author’s Preface

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.

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“We are both the subject and the object of the revolution”

An Interview with Italy’s CARC Party by the kites editorial committee

Part 1 of On Granite Conviction:
Revolutionary Communism in Italy Today

For a printable PDF of this article, click the cover image above.

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.

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Chairman Gonzalo’s Legacy of Steadfast Revolutionary Principle and Strategic Innovations

by the kites Editorial Committee

On 11 September 2021, the international proletariat and oppressed people of the world lost one of the greatest revolutionary leaders of the last several decades. Abimael Guzmán, AKA Chairman Gonzalo, leader of the Communist Party of Peru–Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), passed away, having spent the last nearly thirty years of his life in prison. We do not know the exact cause of his death and must treat information coming from his captors with skepticism. Gonzalo had been kept isolated from the outside world, denied much contact with even his lawyer. He was suffering from health problems in the last months of his life and was denied adequate access to medical treatment.

Following the announcement of Gonzalo’s death, the bourgeois media has been busy howling in unison about the supposed carnage caused by Gonzalo through his leadership of the revolutionary people’s war that rocked Peru from 1980 through the 1990s. The reality is that the masses of Peru during that period were suffering from bitter poverty and even starvation caused by the workings of capitalism-imperialism, with the United States, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank holding Peru hostage to debt payments and mandating structural adjustment policies that further impoverished the Peruvian people. What Gonzalo’s leadership achieved was to give the Peruvian masses a means to not only fight back, but to dare to overthrow the system of capitalism-imperialism at the root of their suffering and create a whole new social order.

Born in 1934 in Mollendo, Peru, Gonzalo became a philosophy professor at the National University of San Cristóbal de Huamanga in the capital of the Ayacucho region in 1962. He was no armchair philosopher, however: by that point he was a devoted communist, and he used his university position to reestablish communist organization and to learn about the lives of the masses in Ayacucho. Gonzalo combined his love for the oppressed with a keen grasp of the greatest advances in theory and practice in the international communist movement. He firmly rejected the betrayal of communist principles by the leadership of the Soviet Union following Stalin’s death and embraced Mao Zedong’s radical innovations to the communist tradition, including the strategy of protracted people’s war in semi-feudal oppressed nations and the recognition of the persistence of class struggle under socialism. On the latter innovation, Gonzalo gained firsthand experience by visiting China during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a mass revolutionary movement launched and led by Mao to overthrow capitalist roaders within the Communist Party and further revolutionize socialist China. He internalized the lessons of this all-out struggle, and, when capitalist roaders took power in China in 1976 following Mao’s death, Gonzalo stood firmly behind communist principles, condemning the counterrevolutionary coup and upholding Mao’s revolutionary legacy.

Beyond standing firmly on the right side of fundamental dividing lines in the international communist movement, Gonzalo also applied the lessons of the Chinese revolution to the concrete realities of Peru. He recognized the rural Indian masses of Ayacucho as a potential revolutionary force that could take advantage of its distance from the center of bourgeois power in Peru to launch a revolutionary people’s war. Gonzalo worked tirelessly to recruit his students at the university as communist cadre and ingeniously used their connections to rural communities, including when they worked as teachers in those communities after graduation, to develop an organized mass base for revolution. This process of social investigation, the recruitment and training of cadre, and the development of mass organization and struggle that began in the 1960s laid the groundwork for attacks on police stations and local oppressors when the people’s war in Peru was initiated in 1980. Ayacucho fast became a center of revolutionary struggle, with the leadership of the Communist Party of Peru (hereafter referred to as Sendero Luminoso) inspiring bold struggle and heroic sacrifice from the revolutionary masses in the face of vicious brutality by the Peruvian military.

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Exceptionally Serious Responsibility

Some notes on the history of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and prospects for unity in the international communist movement today

For a printable PDF of this article, click the cover image above.

by Hinton Alvarez

“…the Marxist-Leninst movement is confronted with the exceptionally serious responsibility to further unify and prepare its ranks for the tremendous challenges and momentous battles shaping up ahead.”

-Declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement

Despite what certain hagiographies and posters produced in the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China when they were socialist might have us believe, the international communist movement has never progressed with the unity of the proletariat and oppressed marching in a straight line. Instead, it’s been the moments of conflict and contradiction, often expressed in two-line struggle, that have advanced the communist movement and demarcated the revolutionary road from opportunism and revisionism. Marx and Engels waged their polemics against the utopian socialists from within the First International. Lenin and other Bolshevik revolutionaries founded the Third International (Comintern) “in clear repudiation of the bankrupt opportunist and revisionist line of the Second International,” as Jose Maria Sison wrote.1 For some sense of how sharp the debates were in the Third International, watch the movie Reds.2

The most recent attempt at forging genuine unity among communist revolutionaries internationally was the Revolutionary International Movement (RIM), active from the early 1980s to the mid 2000s. As the ruling capitalist-imperialist system is increasingly gripped by crises without a new tide of proletarian revolution to seize upon the opportunities they present, revolutionaries are taking a fresh look at the history of the RIM in order to forge new forms of unity among genuine communist revolutionaries. In particular, this article’s content was inspired by and is intended to be in conversation with comrades from India, Nepal, Italy, and Canada who have published documents, issued statements, and partaken in interviews with the aim of developing revolutionary clarity of line and in the spirit of internationalism. It’s my hope that, through a ruthlessly critical examination of our communist past, revolutionaries today can forge the higher levels of communist theory and practice so desperately needed in the world today.

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Welcome to Splitsvillle. Population: Every Leftist Organization of the Last Decade—A Call for Summations, not Subtweet Recriminations

For a printable PDF of this article, click the cover image above.

The past decade has seen a rapid growth in new and a few previously existing Leftist organizations across North America, matched almost tit for tat by splits within and the dissolution of said Leftist organizations. A number of the larger, crusty old Leftist organizations have fallen apart after decades of doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. In other and overlapping cases, their ideological rot was exposed after their leadership tried to cover up rape within their organizations. To them, we say good riddance to your organizations and to the rancid revisionist ideology behind them. To the handful of crusty old Leftist organizations who managed to rebrand themselves and garner new recruits by appealing to postmodernism and dogmatic internet “communism,” we say your days are numbered. Sooner or later your new membership will by and large burn out from the same old routine or realize that they have joined opPortuniSt manipuLators who don’t tell new recruits that they’re Trotskyists.

Continue reading “Welcome to Splitsvillle. Population: Every Leftist Organization of the Last Decade—A Call for Summations, not Subtweet Recriminations”

Picking the Ripest Fruit for Harvesting a Revolutionary People

by Kenny Lake (Written in 2015)

For a printable PDF of this article, click the cover image above.

Picking the Ripest Fruit for Harvesting a Revolutionary People is the fourth and final part in the series The Specter that Still Haunts: Locating a Revolutionary Class Within Contemporary Capitalism-Imperialism, and will appear in print in kites #4. Originally written in 2015 and published at revolutionary-initiative.com, this piece was written during the second term of the Obama administration, after the rebellions in Ferguson and Baltimore but prior to the emergence of Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee. As such, it does not reflect some of the radical shifts that have taken place since then. However, its analysis of who constitutes the proletariat in the US remains accurate.

* * *

Having laid a theoretical foundation for understanding the proletariat as a concept in part one, drawn a broad outline of changes in the capitalist-imperialist system in part two, and extracted lessons from the successes in forging a revolutionary people in recent communist people’s wars in part three, here we turn our attention to understanding who constitutes the proletariat in the United States and especially its most potentially revolutionary sections. Given the lack of any real communist pole in the US (and in most of the world), it will be crucial for those seeking to build communist organization to do so by picking the ripest fruit for harvesting a revolutionary people. Since, as argued throughout this series, it is in the processes of dispossession and proletarianization and in the social antagonisms created by the anarchic movements of capital that those most prone to revolutionary possibilities can be found, communist practice requires a keen analysis of just who those people are to be most effective.

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The Tinderbox and the Tourniquet

Voices from Baltimore in the Wake of the 2015 Rebellion and Bourgeois State Intervention

For a printable PDF of this article, click the cover image above.

by Kilmor

In the summer of 2018, a mixture of communists and those interested in walking the revolutionary road traveled from a handful of cities across North America to meet in downtown Baltimore, Maryland for an intensive three-day social investigation into the concrete conditions of the Black proletarian masses of West Baltimore in the aftermath of the 2015 rebellion. The rebellion—a culmination of festering frustration and rage due to the dispossession that accompanies deindustrialization,1 explicit and implicit racism, the occupation of residential areas by police known for their brutality and corruption,2 a rampant drug economy, and regular violence—was sparked by the murder of 25-year-old Freddie Gray by members of the Baltimore Police Department (BPD).

Freddie Gray in an undated family photo.
Continue reading “The Tinderbox and the Tourniquet”