Whither Saint Louis? Whither American Maoism?

“We should be modest and prudent, guard against arrogance and rashness, and serve the Chinese people heart and soul.” – Mao Zedong
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Saint Louis is the western hole on what is commonly known as the Rust Belt, a region that cuts a wide swath through the middle and upper United States. Cities such as Detroit, Gary, and East Saint Louis share the characteristics of being majority black, and cut to the bone by deindustrialization caused by neoliberalism’s search for cheaper labor to exploit in Mexico and China. The “black middle class”, comprised of Southern migrants who poured into the cities from the cotton fields and KKK lynching craze during the early and middle decades of the 20th century, was gutted in the ‘70s and ‘80s as capital pulled the factories and the jobs that had built this class from the cities. Now, these cities are shells of themselves, no jobs, dilapidated housing, drugs abundant, killings and shootings every day by gangs and by the pigs, ruled by corrupt (and black) political machines. Gentrification setting up, driving more and more black and brown families to the brink. In short, cities like ours are where Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the science and practice of liberation of oppressed nationalities and the working class, must take root. But, only if the course is correct, and only if the mass line method of organizing is applied correctly. You cannot fake the mass line, you cannot deceive the masses, you cannot bogart and barge your way in with red flags and Little Red Books and expect to build a base area.

 

The conditions of our city are unique. Situated on the Mississippi River, a decaying industrial shell, we are a shrunken city, one built for a million people but now holding only around 320,000. We are divided along racial and class lines by Delmar Avenue, the white and “middle class” living South, the poor and black living North. This line is apparent to anyone that comes to the city. This line extends to the country, the communities of Ferguson, Calverton Park, Country Club Hills, Pine Lawn, Kinloch, Wellston, and others form a patchwork quilt of majorly black communities exploited by businesses that have moved into the communities and bleed them dry, selling expired groceries in these food deserts at dear prices, by the police and local governments, some of whom don’t even have insurance for their police vehicles, and by employers who cheat and exploit them at every turn. STLRC cadre, along with mass members of Progressive Youth Organization, conducted thorough social investigation in this area, reaching out to our contacts that live in the area, studying patterns of organizing in this area beginning in 2014, the year of the uprising, and determined together that this area was ripe for the formation and basing of Serve the People, Saint Louis, a mass organization of a new type for this city. Many seem to be confused as to the nature of these organizations, seeing it as simply being another “charity” that swoops into the community and tries to save the people from themselves, this is wrong. A mass organization guided by Maoist cadre can not be something that is run for its own sake, or from a condescending position, we are not condescending saviors. The purpose of STPSTL is to serve to build up a red base, first in Ferguson, then in the rest of North County and Saint Louis City. The principle of “from the masses, to the masses” is the guiding principle of the mass line method of leadership and the STPSTL organization. The mass line is like a factory, we collect “raw material” in the form of ideas from the masses, both unorganized and organized in our mass organizations, synthesize them together, and present them in the form of a line, whether it be a slogan, a program, a coalition, or a campaign. The first event of the STPSTL organization was held at a park in a working class area of Ferguson on International Women’s Day, and was well received by the masses, who were refreshed and happy to see the fact that there was a break from the tired old routine of electoralism, “buy black”, and other things of that nature that do not develop people’s power, but channel it back into the hands of the pig. Several expressed interest in either joining us, spoke bitterness about the problems in the community (particularly the police), and discussed creative ways of solving these problems. Thus, we can conclude that the masses in our area see STP as a good thing. We will continue to do frequent activities at the park (free stores), and also, hopefully, develop a free tutoring and a copwatch program. The key thing for all Maoists to remember when conducting mass work is to remember that the masses must be organized in actuality, bridges must be build, links must be formed, and unity must be built in communities. We should reach out to well known community organizers who have developed their own initiatives to work together, build coalitions, build bases of support, and expand our initiatives to include schools, churches, community centers, and other mass spaces. By doing this, we will develop further a fighting communist movement and a strong mass movement in our city. We should also continue to reject electoral politics, regardless of whoever wins the mayoral election, there will continue to be depredation and oppression. Only the masses organized in mass organizations guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism can solve these problems and storm heaven. No candidate can do that for us.

 

As is well known, our STP organization was developed in the midst of struggle between ourselves and several other collectives across the country, particularly “Red Guards Austin”, who were, apparently, initially confused regarding the “orientation of our program towards the homeless” and generally expressed very bad faith and liberal tendencies towards our collective. Even after clarification and rectification of our line, their position towards us was still extremely hostile. They went so far as to present us with a spurious, dubious, and scurrilous letter, accusing us of “going against the existing STP movement” and calling us “renegaged”, and attach the names of other STP organizations to it. Our position is that this trifling letter does not even deserve a response, if unity can not come after seeing us in action and witnessing the steady development of a base area in Ferguson, so be it. We will still be here, and we will strengthen and grow the revolutionary movement. If dogmatic and hamfisted so-called Maoists, for whatever reason, are unwilling or unable to unite with us, that’s unfortunate, but we will develop our city, regardless. If unity is possible with these elements later, we are all for it. This negative experience teaches us some key lessons about party building and struggles for unity. We Maoists know that we must unite all who can be united with to oppose real enemies. Individuals and collectives that are wont to hop on a high horse, claim leadership that they are not entitled to in lieu of a party, disregard the work of other collectives, place priority on their own work, attack and slander others in public and private, and generally behave themselves in a trifling and liberal fashion, cannot be united with. We in Saint Louis do not follow the vulgar “struggle-struggle-struggle” spirit displayed by many Maoists in this country, we start from a position of unity with all Maoists who are interested in forming a Maoist party in this country. We do not cultivate entangling personal ties and allow bad politics to run amok, this is harmful to the Maoist movement in this country. It is this spirit that will build the party in this country. Furthermore, it is our position that this party must, by necessity, be led by oppressed nations people. Any party that calls itself “Maoist” and arrogates for itself the role of vanguard without having firm and true links with the masses of people of oppressed nationality, with prestige and a record of mass work in these communities and is a part of daily life there, simply will not be legitimate and cannot make revolution. Such a party would inevitably be a party for white academics, hipsters, tin pot intellectuals and gentrifiers, this is not what we seek. We seek to destroy America. This is why work such as that being done by the principled and serious Maoist collectives that currently exist and the mass organizations that their cadre are involved in is extremely important. We would call on all currently unorganized Marxist-Leninist-Maoist comrades in cities such as Flint, Detroit, Cincinnati, Newark, Gary, Chicago, Memphis, New Orleans, Birmingham, Jackson, and others that share similar demographics and class breakdowns to organize collectives and mass organizations as soon as possible, to struggle for comradely and principled unity first and foremost, and to orient yourselves towards the masses of your city to build an effective and fighting mass movement. This is our advice to comrades who have done well in abandoning revisionist parties and organizations to found Maoist collectives and mass organizations. Stop allowing yourselves to be embroiled in petty quarrels and spats, do not allow yourselves to be tossed and turned like a tiny boat on a stormy sea. Do not follow those who seek hegemony, do not be liberal, do not forget to criticize and self-criticize frequently and in due time, in good faith. Build in prisons, in working class communities, in community colleges, in high schools, in tech schools. Reject dogmatism and subjectivism, reject posturing. If we want to build a Party worthy of the name, games must be ended and serious business must be gotten to. We needed a party years ago. Let’s make up for lost time.

 

If there is to be revolution, there must be a revolutionary party. Without a revolutionary party…it is impossible to lead the working class and the broad masses of the people in defeating imperialism and its running dogs.” – Mao Zedong
Saint Louis Revolutionary Collective

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