kevin rashid johnson

Chauvinism in the Left and the Maoist Rupture

Chauvinism is a serious problem in the left that’s been plaguing it for decades. There’s a common trend of communism being seen as a “white person” thing, started by the “immortal gods” of revolution, Marx and Engels (i.e., white men). The truth is that these figures weren’t perfect, they were human beings, and because of their identities were sometimes guilty of making rightist eurocentric and masculinist errors. The contributions of non-white revolutionaries like Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Fred Hampton, Gonzalo, Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, Malcolm X, Leila Khaled, Ajith, Anuradha Ghandy, Jiang Qing, and others are constantly overlooked. There’s a good reason for this sentiment of suspicion, too, it didn’t just come out of nowhere; betrayal after betrayal have led the oppressed masses, especially those of oppressed nationalities, to distrust revolutionaries because of their history of chauvinist behavior.

Hopefully, the communist movement would have realized its chauvinist errors and come up with a solution by now, right? Marxism-Leninism-Maoism gives us a scientific way of handling this contradiction, and there are tests you can apply to Maoist organizations to see if they’re really interested in helping the people and not just phony petty-bourgeois impostors. I also want to point out that identity politics are not completely in contradiction with communism, that instead they should be extended via revolutionary theory and fully incorporated into that theory. Maoism has a method of handling these contradictions that Marxism-Leninism doesn’t, and if Maoists are doing their work right, any chauvinist or rightist petty-bourgeois errors will be corrected if the science of MLM is being followed correctly.

Here’s a quote from J. Moufawad-Paul’s “Continuity and Rupture,” a philosophical work that outlines the terrain of Maoism (which only crystallized as a coherent ideology between 1988 and 1993) in an attempt to provide clarity to this new theoretical tendency that is often poorly understood:

Mass-line, criticism and self-criticism, cultural revolution: these interlinked aspects of Maoism’s claim to be the next stage of science are necessary for building a movement that is capable of addressing the problems facing any revolutionary organization today. Here are some questions worth asking: is an organization building itself according to the will of the revolutionary masses while, at the same time, organizing this will and providing theoretical guidance; is this organization critical of itself and willing to accept that it is wrong; are the movement’s cadre serving the people and capable of self-criticism in a way that parallels the "checking of privilege” common in identity politics circles but, unlike these circles, tied to a coherent political line; does this movement see itself as capable of transcending the ruling ideas of the ruling class, grasping how certain ideological moments distort and over/under-determine the economic base (as Mao pointed out in On Contradiction), and constantly reforming itself through the long march of cultural revolution? Failure to answer these questions might in fact be a failure to concretely apply those theoretical insights that are supposed to make the name of Maoism into a concept.

How do we correct rightist errors and prevent chauvinism in a revolutionary collective? By understanding the dialectic between communists and proletarians, submitting ourselves to the people, accepting their unyielding criticism without thinking of ourselves, acting from the needs they express instead of our own subjective desires, and rectifying our errors without bringing our fragile egos into the mix.