2017, for us, marks the deepening and sharpening of the revolutionary struggle in Saint Louis. Our youth mass organization, Progressive Youth Organization, Saint Louis, recently put out a statement, titled How can Red Political Power Exist in Saint Louis in 2017, setting tasks and line for the year ahead. A key element of our work is the establishment of a new mass organization, Serve the People – Saint Louis, under the leadership of STLRC cadre. The purpose of this organization is to lay the foundation for the establishment of and struggle towards dual power in the working class, New Afrikan communities of North County, beginning with Ferguson. This program is not a charity, or a simple instrument for obtaining items and passing them out to people. Of course, material support to our class is a major part of this work, but the goal is to raise the level of political struggle. STP-STL seeks to enter the homes, schools, and other gathering places of the masses of the working class in our city, and build up working class power to combat reactionary pig power. The establishment of this organization was met with congratulations from comrades in our city, across the country (who are already organized in STP organizations), and even in other countries with established Maoist parties, such as Canada. The cadre collective in Austin, Texas, “Red Guards Austin”, on the other hand, seems to not want us to have this organization here, and has been quite antagonistic to our efforts to form and consolidate one, according to the conditions of our own city! We ask, do these comrades want Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to grow in this country, or not? Do these comrades believe that they, a collective 825 miles away, who know nothing about the conditions of this city and our struggles here, can dictate and stifle our work? It appears so. This, of course, requires a response from us as an autonomous Marxist-Leninist-Maoist collective organizing in one of the most dangerous cities in the country for this kind of work.
What is Saint Louis? It is a majority black city, formerly home to several types of industry that have since fled to exploit workers elsewhere and leaving thousands in a state of privation and precarity. It is a pig city, where those that attempt to offer material support to the houseless (again, predominantly African-American), downtown are punished mercilessly, with arrests and fines. It is a city where the people rose in rebellion in 2014, capturing the attention of the world. The NGOs have picked our bones clean, and we still suffer. Darren Wilson walks free. Mass activists such as Darren Seals have been murdered and their vehicles set afire. On December 31, a body was found hanging from a tree in North County, supposedly the result of suicide, but we know better. In sum, our city is a dangerous one, a brutal one, and a corrupt one. Yet, the masses here continue to struggle and refuse to submit to the pig order. The purpose of mass organizations such as STP and PYO is to integrate cadre within the ranks of and organize the people. PYO-STL organizes the students youth of our city, STP-STL will organize the working class of all ages, with stress placed on the New Afrikan population, as this strata is the most oppressed, the most numerous, the most exploited, and, as a result, the most revolutionary. STP-STL will provide material support in the form of clothing, food, and personal care items to the working class and poor population, soon to victimized by budget cutbacks in social services funding at the national level, courtesy of Trump and his clique. Most importantly, we will use STP as an instrument to practice the mass line. It is, after all, a mass organization. We also seek to expand to provide more than basic material support in the future. It is a shame that Maoists in the United States do very little prison work, considering that we enjoy using and appealing to the imagery and legacy of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the most advanced revolutionary formation in the United States to date and thus one which realized that the vanguard of revolution in the United States is the nationally oppressed population, masses of whom have been kidnapped by the forces of white supremacist capitalist-imperialism and forced to reside in prisons and jails. Thus, they organized prison transport services to maintain links between the community inside and outside, and also had many cadre and members in prisons. Prisoners are treated as slaves, forced to work for free. Do they not wage class struggle? If we are communists, why would we not support them? STP-STL will work with this knowledge and in this tradition, to serve the people means to serve all of the people. “Our duty is to hold ourselves responsible to the people. Every word, every act and every policy must conform to the people’s interests, and if mistakes occur, they must be corrected – that is what being responsible to the people means.”
What of Red Guards, Austin? Their opposition to our Serve the People organization, apparently, stems ultimately from the fact that they see the name as some sort of “trademark” that they control, a “franchise” that they can dole out, issue, and rescind at will. A member of the Austin collective expressed recently that they would not consider our STP organization a “real STP”, apparently, because we will also work with the homeless population. Of course, this will not be our primary stress (the result of a phone conversation between a member of RGA and a member of STLRC, during which criticisms of this orientation were made which, we accepted). We have no problem with criticism, and we accept advice when given and correct. One of RGA’s contentions was that “the homeless are not the revolutionary class”. This is true, however, the homeless struggle is a major contradiction in this city. Why would we sit out this struggle, or refuse to delve into it? We do not fear criticism, nor do we avoid it. We keep the good, and reject the bad. Red Guards, Austin, on the other hand, has major issues with accepting criticism, a fact which is known to many. Criticisms made of the white chauvinist and outright ridiculous behavior of one of the organization’s cadre have been simply blown off, or met with attacks. Our organization’s New Afrikan cadre and branch leader has been attacked by this individual from Austin online on many occasions, condescended to, talked down to, mocked, accused of “throwing a temper tantrum”, and infantilized. This individual is white. The leader of RGA is a New Afrikan woman. Criticism of this individual’s behavior has been met with a crude and ironic identity politics, RGA’s leadership is black, thus white chauvinist behavior is not able to exist within the organization, a ludicrous assertion. Lately, our branch leader and this individual were engaged in a debate on Facebook over the legacy of Abimael Guzman, known to us as Presidente Gonzalo, and the Communist Party of Peru under his leadership. Our branch leader made valid and correct criticisms of Gonzalo’s legacy and, again correctly, noted that the People’s War in Peru, objectively, failed. The individual from Austin responded by making a condescending post, stating that he “respected your [branch leader’s] intellect, but don’t act as if you can come close to us in practice”. He was then blocked by the cadre from Austin. This is just one of many instances of antagonistic behavior suffered by our cadre from this individual, we have seen other instances of this type of behavior towards non-white comrades, and we have seen no instances of similar behavior towards white people. This leads us to believe that this individual has white chauvinist tendencies, requiring rectification. Instead of placing him under discipline, the response of RGA has been to protect and make excuses for him, attacking and seeking to isolate those that criticize this behavior. Our branch leader was also recently called “arrogant” and “willing to start an argument about everything” by the RGA branch leader, while tolerating actually arrogant behavior from the aforementioned individual, who is, ironically, known for his temper and arrogant online behavior. What caricature of Maoism is this? As we all know, white chauvinism is a major obstacle to the presence of a strong fighting Communist movement in this country, and it needs to be stamped and rooted out. No white person in this country is exempt from or free from white chauvinist thoughts, practices, and behaviors, Communist or not Communist. When nationally oppressed comrades criticize you, the Communist response is not to seek affirmation from your circle of comrades that, for whatever reason, tolerate this behavior. Nor is it to appeal to identity politics to suppress or blow off criticism. This is the behavior of a clique, not a collective. We have strong reason to believe that this antagonism between cadre from our two organizations is part of the reason for Austin’s opposition to our founding of an STP organization here. This is the epitome of liberalism, melding the personal with the political. We had and have contradictions with individuals in Austin, but we have never allowed our contradictions to lead us to refuse to support their work.
Red Guards Austin has since broken off communications with STLRC, refusing to talk with our branch leader, and has stated that they are “not inclined to speak with us” because of our establishment of the Serve the People, STL organization. This is, in our eyes, unfortunate, but progressive. We are not so hungry for unity with those who, frankly, have been more of a headache to deal with than not, that we surrender our autonomy, our struggle, and our spine to the arrogant, the bombastic, and the petty. The only people that do not want an STP in this city are the bourgeoisie and the police. Our accountability is to the masses of our city, and to comrades that respect our autonomy, support our work, and are interested in struggling for genuine unity with us and engaging in the party building project together. Red Guards Austin is not a party, nor is it a party’s Central Committee. We are not subject to them. It has no right to say that other Marxist-Leninist-Maoist formations may not use a name. As Maoists, we are unchained by sentimentality and acknowledge the fundamental truth that “one divides into two”. Arrogance, cliquishness, and sectarianism, along with the massive chauvinism that RGA displays, are not becoming of the revolutionary. Neither is the extreme dogmatism that RGA seems to display. Until Red Guards Austin issues a collective self criticism, and the individual that has antagonized and displayed white chauvinist behavior towards our New Afrikan cadre issues a thorough self-criticism and we see proof of his rectification and transformation, we are not interested in building with RGA, nor will we engage with any spurious, slanderous, and baseless claims hurled in our direction. This petty and juvenile behavior has no place in the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist movement in the United States, and it’s quite shameful that a Maoist collective, at this critical moment in our movement and in our history, chooses to behave so.
– Saint Louis Revolutionary Collective