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Response to the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade

category international | anarchist movement | debate author Tuesday December 20, 2005 11:48author by Joaquin Cienfuegos - Southern California Anarchist Federation - Los Angeles Chapterauthor email morph3030 at yahoo dot com Report this post to the editors

discussion on "Don't Just Protest, Organize!"

The Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (youth group of the Revolutionary Communist Party) has a group discussion on MySpace where the article I wrote, "Don't Just Protest, Organize!" is being discussed. I wrote a response and wanted to share it with people.

The Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (youth group of the Revolutionary Communist Party) has a group discussion on MySpace where the article I wrote, "Don't Just Protest, Organize!" is being discussed.

I wrote a response and wanted to share it with people.

Response to the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade

I'd like to thank the RCYB for letting me in on the debate and for taking the time to discuss the piece I wrote on organizing and protests. I'd like to further discuss some of my arguments, because the essay could not go into my position overall -- it wasn't my intention in doing that anyway.

I think what tends to happen a lot with authoritarian leftists is the "all or nothing approach" -- and what ends up happening is that you don't accomplish anything. You end up as an arm-chair/ivory tower intellectual. I have a disliking for party liners who spend their time on theory and no time on actually developing new ideas through your practice (developing a praxis).

I think the question was posed by my friend Rolando, how are you going to develop a revolution through a newspaper?

That is a very good point, and I can speak to this with my own experience. I used to be a member of the RCYB, and was a maoist in name (and an anarcho-communist in my heart). In the four years, I had to take out the Party's line -- mainly through their newspaper. In the housing projects in Watts when we were organizing, what ended up happening was that the "masses" ended up viewing the revolutionaries as Jehovah's Witnesses. They didn't relate to what we were talking about. They hid from us when we were trying to talk to them about communism. We didn't build any real relationships with them first, or even realize that people will not make the leap or see themselves as revolutionaries overnight. People have to empower themselves through organizing, taking action, taking up theory, and being part of all decision making. You can't just talk to them in some old dogmatic rhetoric and expect them to join the "vanguard."

Even in Russia -- what led to the revolution wasn't Lennin and their party's newspaper. It was a multi-faceted strategy -- where people organized themselves in ther workplaces and in their communities. It had a lot to do with the Military Revolutionary Committee (where anarchists and socialists organized the military to overthrow the tzar). The Soviets (councils of elected delegates) had to do witht the development of the struggle in Russia and developing direct-democracy. The Bolsheviks' opportunism led to one party rule in Russia and the centralizing of power in the soviets and the repression of autonomous communities (in particular in the Ukraine).

We need better living conditions, we need dignity and justice -- that's the reality.

You can't expect somebody to eat theory to survive -- and these are small reforms that are desirable. These are problems that we face in our communities and we need to struggle to change these today as part of our overall revolutionary vision. We face: isolation, degradation, exploitation, oppression and so on.

On the other hand you have what you mentioned -- the reformists. The folks who have no intention in connecting our organizing today to an overall program for fundamental change locally and globally.

We need to fight for dignity and justice in our communities, in our workplaces, and in our schools. We can't just go after the "bourgeoisie" -- but we have to connect our organizing to our overall aims. Reforms at this point (depending on how you carry them out or how you pose them to people) are not necesarily a bad thing, and can empower our movement in different ways -- but it shouldn't be left up to reforms.

The RCP views Revolution as an event: where we get our army and the ruling class has their army and we go at it -- that's wrong for different reasons. For one, its bound to fail and two are you trying to build a party or empower the "masses" to organize themselves and take back what belongs to them?

Revolutionary change is a process of building dual power and defending/safeguarding what we create and have taken back. Dual Power basically means that we build the structures right now that will replace capitalism and the state with all its oppressive institutions. This is happening right now (today) in communities in Chiapas and occupied factories in Argentina. They're building direct-democracy, autonomy, and dual-power through their organizing and their actions. I agree with George Jackson of the Black Panther Party-- I think that if we organize and build dual power the state will come down on us eventually. He called for self-defense (in any way possible) of the communities, but organizing locally through programs and projects of the BPP. When the state comes down on the community they will be organized and prepared. They would be coordinating also with other communities and fighting for similar aims and goals. This would result in a civil war -- where conflicting futures will struggle against each other. I think that this is part of an overall strategy where "humanity fights for humanity."

I do agree in order to win we NEED TO HAVE the orientation of humanity fighting for humanity, and uniting with the majority to defeat the minority, but I think we need solidarity among the working class/all of the oppressed first before we can have solidarity with other classes (but I don't disagree with having support from the middle strata at this point or even including them in our organizations).

Anarchists are not opposed to developing political positions, but we see our positions as changing with time and relating your ideas and your strategy to your region's conditions (I think Mao had similar ideas -- having himself been an anarchist and coopting Chinese Anarchists' ideas). The RCP as well as other state-socialists have a tendency to implement ideas and strategies that are outdated (basing them on history they have romanticized). We feel that we need to develop our leadership skills, not centralize power in the hands of a few.

We can point to where power has corrupted and turn revolutionaries (no matter how well intentioned) into oppressors -- as in China, Russia, Cambodia and so on. Also where movements were decapitated because of the reliance on a few charismatic leaders (as in the u.s. in the 1960's).

Bob Avakian, in my opinion, is a great intellectual. I do think we can organize for the revolutionary process with out his "vision and leadership" (which I don't think is innovative -- just recycling old dogma). I think that to have the position that "without this man we won't be successful" is backward. You're telling humanity in general, but Blacks, Latinos, Women, and all oppressed people in particular, that we have to rely on another rich white male to rule over us and save us. Is that really revolutionary? How is he going to lead us from his self-imposed exile, just through his writings?

Last thing I would like to get into is the argument over "the correct line." I don't think a small group of people can know what's in the interests of humanity. I don't think that this party can tell all of us how to organize ourselves and what is best for us. What about when the RCP had a position on homosexuality that WAS homophobic. They thought that homosexuality was a product of capitalism and that it would be abolished under socialism through "re-education." Ofcourse, they've come out recently and said that this position was incorrect, and "they've never had a problem with homosexuality." Regardless of their new position, they thought for decades that they were right. Imagine if these people had power, they would of rounded up all homosexuals and tried to re-educate their sexuality -- same as Christian fundamentalists do (same as Mao did in China and his answer to dealing with different lines). They were criticized for many years but didn't change their position until recently. Was the party right back then? Imagine if the RCP made a mistake in your line if you had state power -- they would kill and oppress hundreds and thousands.

The way you arrive at a position is through the direct-democratic or consensus process; through debate, dialogue and popular participation.

The revolutionary process is one that has to be made by the people not a vanguard party. This is why I'm part of a federation -- where we learn as we teach, we develop ourselves as longterm organizers, support and build solidarity among our communities and oppressed people, build support among other classes and humanity, and help in the process of self-organization in our communities, work-places, and schools.

My response,

Joaquin Cienfuegos

Anarcho-Communist and member of the Southern California Anarchist Federation -- Los Angeles

Related Link:
author by Danny Haszard - Watchtower Whistleblowerpublication date Tue Dec 20, 2005 18:52author email Wbtscultbuster at yahoo dot comauthor address USAauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Good read and observations on the need to have a product that appeals.Today we have the Internet and the level playing field it creates for everyone.-Danny Haszard

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author by blackgadfly - acephalous societypublication date Tue Dec 20, 2005 21:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors


First off, I would like to thank you for taking the time and effort to enter a debate with the RCP, and furthermore, for extending revolutionary anarchist ideas across, what seems to be, lines of marked division within state and libertarian socialist camps.

I would like it if you would clarify for me what you mean "precisely" by the following phrase in your response to the RCP:

"Anarchists are not opposed to developing political positions, but we see our positions as changing with time and relating your ideas and your strategy to your region's conditions."

Is this a reference to developing positions within electoral politics, or are you referring to a stance on a specific or combined political issue(s)?

Again, my question is not intended to challenge your position, but to clarify what you mean by "developing political positions"

In solidarity,


author by todd - IWWpublication date Wed Dec 21, 2005 04:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I can't speak for the author, but he's obviously speaking generally. By political positions I'm sure he means theory, strategy, praxis, etc. In otherwords anarchists allow for decentralized and diverse political orientations based on the conditions, needs, and experiences of diverse groups of people and environment, rather than a centralized party line of a authoritarian communist party (which it should be mentioned often in practice is not centralized as much as they try to spin it... in the same way bosses can't centralize work too much without it being inefficient).

author by Joaquin Cienfuegos - SCAF-LApublication date Wed Dec 21, 2005 18:25author email morph3030 at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

What is meant by developing a political position -- I mean a political line. A collective analysis through
the democratic / consensus process and popular support (councils or assemblies). I think though that our line has to do with our concrete conditions in our regions and to the historical developments as well. We're not living in the 19th century so we can implement a strategy and positions from that period.

thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts

author by Joaquin Cienfuegos - Southern California Anarchist Federation - Los Angeles Chapterpublication date Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:43author email morph3030 at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

the debate continues
The Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (youth group of the Revolutionary Communist Party) has a group on myspace that has hosted a debate on an article I wrote on protesting and organizing -- I'd like to share some of the posts that I've written.

people can check out all of the debate at:
The Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (youth group of the Revolutionary Communist Party) has a group on myspace that has hosted a debate on an article I wrote on protesting and organizing -- I'd like to share some of the posts that I've written.

people can check out all of the debate at:

When it comes to the Platform, like you said, I agree with the basic principles (federalism, class struggle, theoretical and tactical unity -- to some extent) as well. I do think it will be problematic to organize under platformism though. The view that I hold is that our organizations' role shouldn't be one to convert people to anarchism and/or anarcho-communism -- that leap should be made by people when they’re conscious. The starting point is Revolution as well as Survival. Maoists do not see the connection between the two. I think the line that they hold against survival comes from a middle class position (to not care about your survival is to be privileged enough to not care). In order for humanity to survive we need to radically transform society and abolish capitalism. For working class people, or for people in general, they come from a very self-interested socialization (revolution is not only selfless is also self-interested by the way). These are the social relations, I'm just being objective here. Working class people and people in general are disconnected from each other systematically, and they do not think that things can be any better. Workers and people can change these relations by taking part in collective struggle and being part of a larger movement.

How do you connect ordinary people to a revolutionary movement (if you were trying to develop one or if one existed)?

In order to defeat the agenda of the Bush Regime and the direction of society (as Kafeine mentioned) you need a revolutionary movement -- nothing less. I was not ignoring that -- I was speaking to it

Now how do you do that?

Do you pitch to people that we need regime change and go about building a coalition and movement on that basis?

You could, but I don't think it would be enough.

Do you go out to people and organize them according to the anarchist platform?

Well if were trying to only organize anarchists than you could (but we are not only trying to organize other anarchists – we’re trying to reach people who don’t even see themselves as activists -- so having a platformist starting point is problematic)-- good luck with that (I think that only through experience in actually attempting to put your theory to practice will you change and develop a new position).

I think that to build a revolutionary movement you need a great deal of innovativeness. I feel that the principles of anarchism are more important than the label here. For example, we're not going out to our community, knocking on their door, and telling them that we're their local neighborhood anarchists. Only when we're working within a broader coalition of activists, organizers, and revolutionaries, do I uphold an anti-authoritarian line. In our collective projects (in SCAF) when we're organizing around a single issue -- we don't necessarily have to point out that we are anarchists (but we do in some cases and when people feel the need to connect to a larger movement that is growing in our region). I think we uphold some of the principles of anarchism that we unite with like: Mutual Aid, Direct-Democracy, Solidarity, "autonomy, creativity, critical thinking, and love (from our SCAF-LA's mission statement)" -- which IS anarchism in the long run.

I’m not saying that mass movements are not important; I just think that the mass movements that we’re involved in should be connected to a larger strategy – and a broader vision that is made clear from the beginning.

I don't have everything figured out, and SCAF is just getting started, but we intend on building something new, and laying down the foundation for a revolutionary movement. We do not feel that it is enough to re-act to the Bush Agenda (which I feel the World Can't Wait Campaign is doing), but to actively take part in transforming society ant the relations that exist, and to help in the process of people relying on themselves (their leadership, their initiative, their organization, and everything else that they develop) for change; not a vanguard party -- but their own appointed delegates.

Now to explain what I mean by that: I feel that the leadership that we uphold, as anarchists, is one based on legitimacy. The starting point for our organization is to collectivize ownership and re-distribute power. We do not want to take state power, so how do we transition from Capitalist economics and society into a libertarian socialist society. We need to begin this process right now -- in every unit of organization in this society regionally and especially where most power exists. This can mean even transforming the traditional family, but especially the community (where we live and relate to each other), the workplace (where we produce our livelihood), and the school (where we are educated and get a great deal of socialization). Now how do we change those institutions? Now we're not at the stage to re-take them, but we can build counter institutions or build collectivity in the ones that exist already (which can be where we educate each other, plan, strategize, take action -- to build up our power and our potential to destroy the power relations that exist).

How do we defeat the state and direction of this society into a more repressive society?

I think that the Marx quote I have pointed out to speaks to an important point: "Capitalists create their own gravediggers."

This war and this regime has politicized and driven to action many people. It has also made many (who at first supported Bush) very upset. Now sometimes I do feel like things have to get worst before they get better (but that would be tailing spontaneity). Sometimes the most fertile ground for change though have been in repressive societies, but if we wait (as the people in the Warsaw ghetto in Nazi Germany did) than it might just be too late. At that point, we’ll be too beaten down. I feel that people have to have the collective experience in struggle to empower them to see that there is hope. That challenging the bosses, the landlords, the police -- is possible -- and challenging the state and this system is also possible and necessary.

Our principles and values are all connect in the long run as we build this movement and fight for liberty. They’re all important and play a crucial role in the struggle.

Building solidarity is an important aspect of changing society. Solidarity, in the sense that people in general but the oppressed in particular understand that they have a responsibility to each other and have similar interests and fight for those interests.
We support federalism where “a delegate is elected, when it is necessary to communicate with other regions, as a mouth-piece and holds no authority what so ever. He can be recalled instantly, if he is not carrying out the delegation process, or if he's not doing his job correctly. The delegate communicates with other regions in terms of what the collectives, councils and mass assemblies decide on.

Regions, and chapters of the federation choose delegates to be part of the federation council (which is where regions and chapters discuss, develop new ideas, communicate, share resources). No final decisions can be made until, the delegates take the information back to their own regional chapter of the federation.

A federation is united usually under a constitution, guidelines, bylaws -- and share unity in goals, tactics, and responsibilities.” (as I wrote in Anarchist-Communism

“Decision making is localized and unaffected by outside regions. This does not mean that the communities, syndicates, and regions are isolated; this will lead to our revolution failing eventually. The autonomous regions have to work together, in cooperation, sharing goals, resources, abundance, and vision (in solidarity) This is why we organize under federations to keep our autonomy, and anti-authoritarian principles, while being self-sustainable, and building collectivity and unity throughout different regions.” (as written in Anarchist-Communism)

Autonomy means essentially self-rule. This is why as anarchists we uphold this principle and support struggles for autonomy. One thing though about anarchists, is the inability to develop an analysis around national liberation. I feel that national liberation struggles, and anti-colonial movements, are a struggle for self-determination (and people seeking autonomy from an Imperialist power). This process is one that is important for human liberation. As there are inequalities among people, there also are inequalities among peoples and nations. The world has developed inequalities among nations – through colonialism before and neo-colonialism today. Struggles in different parts of the world against imperialism (even though they are not led by anarchists) should be supported. Essentially our struggle against our own government here in the U.S. is one that is in solidarity with them there. Eventually, resources can be shared with those struggles (especially the libertarian forces and elements within those struggles), as we exchange in resources ourselves.

”In political economy, mutual aid is a term which describes a principle central to libertarian socialism or anarchism, and is used to signify the economic concept of voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit.

Kropotkin proposed a system of economics based on mutual exchanges made in a system of voluntary cooperation. Kropotkin's thesis was based on the premise that scarcity was unnecessary, and it was possible to produce enough wealth to satisfy the needs of everybody by working only five hours a day during adult life (leaving the rest of the day to satisfy desires for luxuries, if so desired).” (wikipedia)

All these reasons are why I support the South Central Farmers – because I’m in solidarity with them – and are fighting to sustain ourselves while we fight back against the system. A system that is also killing us by what they feed us, or what they don’t feed us. While this farm cannot feed the world, is a clear example of the city and apparatuses of the state, attacking a working class community. It shows that their interests are in looking out for their class – Ralph Horrowitz a rich property owner. Where people are trying to build autonomy in a sense, and redistribute whatever small resources they can get their hands on. These struggle, gives people a glimpse of things being different. Where the ruling class tells us that people are naturally greedy, this working class community garden is where people are fighting side by side for something that essentially belongs to them – the land that they’ve worked on, rebuilt, and cultivated.

SCAF-LA is doing more than just solidarity organizing though, and we welcome people to be part of our collective projects which you can check out at ( I don’t feel that this community garden is an institution of dual power, and have a different view on what can develop institutions of dual power which I’ve tried to address before: community councils (where community members organize themselves around things that affect them directly, and are in solidarity with other communities regionally and globally). These councils can organize around similar goals and have a clear strategy (these is what eventually I feel has the potential of building dual power – as well as a worker run center, and the youth and teachers organizing in their schools to change the curriculum and take back the resources on campuses). All these will organize side by side on common principles and goals.

I think that we’re all in the stage of learning, and as an anarchist I feel I have much more to learn than I have to teach (and feel that there is a dialectical relationship of learning while teaching). Another reason why I support the South Central Farm and the EZLN as well, is because I’m learning from them – and they’re doing more than just romanticize the idea of autonomy or anarchism (they’re putting their ideas to practice, and in the case of the EZLN attempting to create a higher synthesis – whether it will be authoritarian or not we still have to wait and see).

One my friends from SCAF-LA, Shawn McDougal, criticized the “martyr’s complex” that activists have. Where activists like to suffer on principle, or want to “save the world” and how that is rooted in privilege. You’ll see privileged people who have delusions about “leading the revolution” because they’ve been privileged enough to read and theorize on those topics. They don’t examine why oppressed people have been kept away from leadership roles, from theory, and actually taking part in any decision making. Middle Class people have certain privilege to be full time activists, men have privilege to do more house visits at night when they’re trying to organize or do anything without the fear of being assaulted or raped, white people have had privilege to assimilate into mainstream society after they grow tired of politics. This is how capitalism has developed in the US, where one can’t speak on class, without speaking to gender, race, and culture. These are all connected in what bell hooks calls a white supremacist-patriarchal-capitalist society. Some anarchists also tend to leave this out of their discussions.

The point on privilege speaks to the type of organization that we need. If we build any nucleus of revolutionary leadership, you will not be challenging that privilege that exists in society. The ones who always step forward first, are the ones who have been privileged enough to be politicized and philosophize. Any organization with centralized leadership will have those contradictions (besides being authoritarian). Organizations, as I mentioned should try to democratize knowledge, redistribute power among oppressed people, support historically oppressed people when they fight for autonomy, challenge social relations, and collectivize ownership of the organization itself.

Since our goal is not state power, but radically transforming the social relations (the way people act towards each other, the way they live, and the way they think) – our strategy is much different than authoritarian leftists’. There is always the constant connection of raising consciousness to taking action, and taking part in all decision making.

We’re not just changing who’s in power, we want to establish horizontalism where there is no group and bureaucracy making decisions for us or “representing” our interests. We know that change is going to be a process and the path there is not linear or easy. There are things we need to deal with ourselves first, and questions we need to get debate over collectively.

En lucha,

Joaquin Cienfuegos

Member of the Southern California Anarchist Federation (

A post before that one on Dual Power:

In this debate there were some questions raised over Dual Power and Revolutionary consciousness which I would like to write about and have some dialogue with people.

As explained in the article by Christopher Day “Dual Power in the Selva Lacandon” (from A New World In Our Hearts: Eight Years of Writings from the Love and Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Federation), “[Institutions] of dual power have revolutionary aims…they might potentially replace the existing state and constitute themselves as the governing structure of a new reorganized society.”
In “The Dual Power” Lenin described it as building a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries who would be the nucleus of a revolution:
“Let us create a proletarian Communist Party; its elements have already been created by the best adherents of Bolshevism.”
Now these are two different positions – an authoritarian one and a libertarian/anti-authoritarian one. Today Maoists call dual power reformist, now is it reformist – No!
In the same piece Lenin acknowledged:
“For actual experience will from day to day shatter the petty-bourgeois illusions of those ‘Social-Democrats’”
Dual power is part of an overall strategy; the process allows people to get experience in organizing themselves democratically.

The article by Christopher Day touches on different points, some that I think are relevant to the discussion are
1. Dual Power and Anti-Authoritarianism
2. Revolutionary Consciousness
3. Inequalities in organizations

Building dual power is a proactive way to struggle, and protests are a reactive form of resistance. I think that there is a dialectical relationship between proactive and reactive struggles – and we need both, but we don’t create and put to practice our vision as anarchists or activists. Proactive resistance gives us and people better positioning to continue to fight. If people took back or fought to take back their communities (workplace and school) it would empower them to continue to fight, it would be the foundation for them to fight. This is essentially what federalism is, to fight for regional autonomy principally (to organize according to regional conditions) while fighting along the same aims of other regions through a federation.

The article by Christopher Day discusses the experience of the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional in creating a revolutionary consciousness, and developing their own. The EZLN had a preconceived idea of how the revolution in Mexico would take place, through their experience in the Chiapas (and learning from the people there) they changed their strategy according to their own conditions. The article describes, “Revolutionary consciousness refers to the point at which … the oppressed becomes articulated as a coherent critique of society and a plan to transform it through the revolutionary actions of the oppressed.” The outside forces of the EZLN had to adopt the history of the indigenous communities in Chiapas in order to gain not only the acceptance but to also help in the process of building autonomy in those communities. The article concludes on this topic, “[Revolutionary consciousness develops] when they start to talk to each other about conclusions and attempt to draw out larger more general truths by looking at all the experiences and drawing on all of their knowledge that we can talk meaningfully of revolutionary consciousness.”

This position is much different than what was presented in a very ivory tower intellectual way by Lenin in “What Is to be Done” where he said that this consciousness comes from the outside and has to be taken to people by a vanguard party of revolutionary leadership (which in a way Fedaykin was putting forward as well).

This consciousness develops from the collective experience of people, when they reach the level of understanding of the state, stratified society, their own history, and their collective struggle and responsibility for a fundamental change. This also relates to their organization, a process, and a strategy – which develops from a conscious people (organizations and theory are complimentary to experience and speed up the process of consciousness).

However there exists in society an unevenness in understanding and experience which can develop inequalities in our organizations and in institutions of dual power.

I’d like to reiterate the point Fedaykin made: “It's important to understand differences in understanding because when you are doing real revolutionary organizing work, one of the most glaring things you are confronted with is that you are dealing with groups of people who are not, by any means, "on the same page". and if you taylor your event, or rally, or publication, or whatever to a single group based on their understanding, and offer nothing for the other groups, you end up alienating a lot of people.” This is very true.

In our organizations, as we defend and safeguard what we retake and create, we have to struggle to bridge the gap in understanding and experience – if we don’t do this it can lead to a new elite ruling over us as in Russia and China and other state socialist projects. This is the process we as revolutionaries need to take through our horizontal organizing.

Hope to continue the debate, in struggle,


(This is not an attempt to give a complete analysis on these questions, this is just to raise some dialogue over them).

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