Focoism vs. Peoples War: Problems of Exaggerated Universality (Kasama Project)

[Originally posted here.]

By Mike Ely

Tell No Lies posted a criticism of the article I wrote evaluating Che Guevara. And I think he gets at some important things.

Peru's Shining Path -- armed Maoist villagers, not special elites of "heroic guerrillas"

In this exchange, I hope to argue for  a few core ideas:

1) We should deepen our understanding of the importance of contrasting ideological and political line.

This means examining policies and ideas in terms of where they lead — toward what? Toward revolution and communism, or somewhere else?

Che was an important revolutionary figure who became a truly unique global symbol of armed struggle and internationalism. But we should pursue a critical evaluation of the LINE he represented as well.

2) We should embrace a deeper understanding of the mass line – the principle that revolution must be the act of the people themselves (and that a socialist revolution requires an embrace of communist organization and consciousness within a larger, active, emerging “revolutionary people” — an actual section of the people.)

3) We need a renewed materialist appreciation of particularity — the relative uniqueness of each moment and place. I.e. we need to be wary of that casual universalization of strategic ideas that often burdened previous generations of revolutionaries.

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