After publishing my polemic “On ‘Maoist Rebel News’ and the Folly of Ultraleftism-Third Worldism”, Jason Unruhe (the man behind Maoist Rebel News) was quick to offer a rebuttal: “Daniel Buntovnik’s Hurt Feelings and Non-arguments”, which I replied to here. A short while later, Unruhe retracted his first attempt at rebutting my criticism, conceding that his argument was weak. My “non-arguments” were then elevated to “pseudo-intellectualism” in his second essay. What follows is my response to that essay.
The main argument which Unruhe advances in his rebuttal is that “Third Worldism” is not “a First World thing”. His point is to minimize the fact (which I’ve highlighted) that the persons who are the most vocal proponents of “Third Worldism” and its chief tenet that revolution is impossible in the First World, come from the First World.
Unruhe parades a series of photographs of Bengali villagers who the Leading Light Communist Organization (LLCO) is apparently working with in Bangladesh. This is supposed to lend Third World street cred to the organization. He claims that the people in these images are “invisible” to me, despite the fact that I talked about them, their role in the LLCO, and linked to the same photos in my polemic. He claims that “the majority of Leading Light’s top leaders are from the Third World.” Even if that were true, it wouldn’t change the fact that the LLCO’s “Supreme Commander” is a dude from Denver, Colorado.
The LLCO acknowledges the organizational method known as “democratic centralism” as one of the prime theoretical contributions of Lenin to revolutionary science. Not only does the title “Supreme Commander” mesh poorly with the idea that “the minority must obey the majority”, it also implies hierarchy within the LLCO leadership, whose authority is ultimately centralized in the First World. Democratic centralism means differences in thought and opinion, unity in action. Let’s review what unity in action necessitates:
It is inescapable that effective coordination in action presupposes leadership which is obeyed without question. Consequently, unity in action necessarily [involves] an acceptance of leadership. (“Democratic Centralism.” In Marxists Internet Archive, Encyclopedia of Marxism)
In other words, Unruhe and the LLCO can post as many photos of Bengali villagers as they please; it still won’t change the fact that what they propose is for the people of the Third World to follow a script written for them in the USA and Canada. Any group of American missionaries can take their message and their money and their merchandise to desperately poor people in the Global South, find an audience, and take some photos. And that is easier to do if they go somewhere where the ideology they seek to export, or a variant of it, already has a long history there, such as that of Maoism in South Asia.
Unruhe says that the LLCO “Bangla Zone” emerged from the unfortunately named ‘National Socialist Party’ (Bangladesh). However, the genealogy of the “Maoism-Third Worldism” concept of the LLCO variety can ultimately be traced back to Harvard University.*
[Daniel K. Buntovnik] says he’s only seen myself and Commander Prairie Fire involved in Third Worldism. This is only because he hasn’t looked. A wealth of third world people have made Third Worldist arguments. (…) The first prime minister of India is a simple example. Although he was a reformer and a social democratic, he had Third Worldist political economy.
Why do I focus my criticism of “Third Worldism” on Unruhe and Prairie Fire? They are just the self-proclaimed “#1 Marxist on Youtube”, the largest and most popular video hosting website in the world, and the “Supreme Commander” of the “Global People’s War”!
Unruhe further contradicts himself, claiming that I haven’t “even bothered to look at actual third world intellectuals” after he’s already noted that I reference Lin Biao, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, “and who cares.”
So who are the “Third World writers and revolutionaries” Unruhe chooses to point out in his attempt to disavow the First World basis of “Third Worldism”? Reformists and social democrats, the first leaders of postcolonial India and Tanzania; one whose country has literally been waging war on Maoist rebels for almost half a century and the other whose “hand-picked successor” sold the country to the International Monetary Fund. Unruhe exploits their words as if articulating the basic idea of imperial plunder makes a person “Third Worldist”, as if acknowledging that imperialism is a thing is the same as being “Third Worldist”.
No, the facts have been established.
“Third Worldism” is:
- the denial of class antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the First World, making proletarian revolution impossible there.
- the denial of class antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the Third World, making people’s revolution possible there through the alliance of the national-bourgeoisie and the urban petty bourgeoisie with the working class and peasants against the comprador/monopoly bourgeoisie.
- based on an outdated confounding of the Western “Three-World Model” with the Maoist “Theory of Three Worlds”, using terms derived from a ternary conception to describe a binary worldview.
Unruhe seems to bask proudly in philistinism, closing his essay by deriding my polemic as “overly long”. I will be the first to admit that there is a lot to unpack when it comes to making sense of the incoherence in “Maoism-Third Worldism”. But this just shows that Unruhe is too lazy to address my argument in full, dismissing the rest of my points as “BS”, “angry”, “false”, and “sophomoric” with zero reasons given. If my posts are too long, then I invite Unruhe to get back to me on Twitter.
* Marcel the Maoist, “A Brief History of Maoism Third Worldism” (September 25, 2015), http://marcelthemaoist.blogspot.ro/2015/09/a-brief-history-of-maoism-third-worldism.html.
“The Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM)
This is undoubtedly the roots of MTW, though similar ideas had existed before.”
Leading Light Communist Organization, “Interview: Origins” (May 26, 2014), http://llco.org/quotes-from-a-recent-conversation-on-the-history-of-llco-and-other-fun-stuff/.
“Some people connect Leading Light in North America to the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM).”
“The Maoist Internationalist Movement”, MIM Notes, 88 (May 1994), http://web.archive.org/web/20070929102750/http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/mn/mn.php?issue=088.
“The RCP then raised a number of criticisms of the new-born Maoist forces–which had existed for a long time as an organization named the RADACADS before changing its name to RIM and finally to MIM.”
“Banner Stolen?” The Harvard Crimson (August 9, 1983), http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1983/8/9/banner-stolen-to-the-editors-of/.
“The H-R RADACADS (Radical Academics) vow to expose the ways of the Harvard Administration until the banner is paid for or returned. We call on others who have been harassed to contact us so that we may add to our forthcoming compilation of examples of political harassment. There will be a rapid escalation of exposure of the Harvard Administration in the coming months. Only in this way–not by the old idealist arguments for free speech–will revolutionary and progressive groups be relieved of a pattern of political repression. Henry C. Park ’84 RADACADS spokesperson”