Daily Archives: April 16, 2013

Some Minimum Reflections on Our Situation in the US Social Formation

By Jan Makandal

It is the task and role of any political organization at either the mass level and/or revolutionary level to constantly both understand and appropriate the situation we are in. We need to do that to constantly formulate a theory, and simultaneously a political line, to guide us.

Even when we don’t fully understand the systemic structure of capitalism, at least we need to understand particular moments in the structure of capitalism. These moments are conjunctures in capitalism.

The Imperialist Domination of Haiti

by Jan Makandal
(February 2010)

Since capitalism reached the stage of imperialism, many imperialist countries have initiated and developed relations with Haiti. From the onset, these have been nothing but relations of domination.

This analysis divides that history into three periods, with an emphasis on the third:

1) The period from our independence to 1915
2) From 1915 to the 1960s
3) From the 1960s to the present

What is a Revolutionary Militant of the working class?

An adaptation of a text produced by MIR in 1975
(Movimiento Izquierda Revolutionario)
Latest edit 3/1/13

What makes a militant, of the proletarian revolutionary organization, a different individual?  What makes this person face all kinds of danger, even death, in the defense of something so abstract like constructing revolution and/or constructing an alternative from the ashes of capitalism?

For sure, it is not because you are a member of a revolutionary organization, especially a proletarian revolutionary organization, that you automatically become a genuine revolutionary militant. Many individuals, in the midst of proletarian struggle, may quit, or even worse betray and go serve our class enemy by their inaction or simply by becoming their most fervent sycophant. (more…)

Affirming the concept of progressive militant

By Jan Makandal
(April 6, 2012)

In a period of political turmoil, turbulence and chaos, our task will emerge for the continuation of the struggle. For us to comprehend and perform that task, theoretical clarity is imperative. Our aim is not for control, but to understand the necessity of our situation through developing a clear systematic theoretical guide, to define the methodology of how to deal with that necessity, and finally to participate in an organized struggle to address the problematic and contradiction of this conjuncture of capitalism at its higher stage. Our aim here is to offer a platform capable of regrouping progressive militants, and from that regrouping, to organize those among them who are capable of constructing a powerful combative mass movement to face capitalism and the process of capital accumulation.

For that regrouping not to remain a simple utopian fantasy, it is important, even imperative, to organize discussions and debates that are able to convince us of the necessity for progressives to organize, and to enable us to start developing the path on which this organization of progressives is to be constructed, as well as the orientation this organization is to take.

Overcoming Sectarianism in the Construction of a Combative Mass Movement


By Jan Makandal

The Crisis of Capitalism: A Particular Conjuncture

Capitalism is going through a period of deep crisis in the reproduction of capital. Two types of contradictions are actually affecting capital, compelling it to desperately seek a remedy for this crisis, which is a result of how capital is currently producing surplus value, and how capital is being circulated.

Intra-Class Contradiction: Structural Adjustment

The first type of contradiction is within the dominant classes, specifically within the capitalist class. This type of intra-ruling class contradiction is universal to all social formations, but the particulars are specific to each social formation, because of the historical structure of class struggle. In the US social formation, with which we are mainly focused at present, the internal contradiction of capital is advancing in a very complex reality.

On Revisionism

By Jan Makandal
(November 28, 2009; last edited 3/30/2013)

There is no story telling in the realm of theory. The effect of theory in class struggles is determined by the effect of class struggle on theory. Nowadays, our biggest problem is that history and class struggles are advancing and proletarian theory is at an ebb.

Our whole philosophical problematic, the scientific objectivity of our theory depends, historically, and practically, on the determined class position that is being realized through the practices guided by that theory. In order for proletarian theory to develop, we must have the freedom of discussion, and the freedom of constructive criticism in the unity of the proletarian organization and the proletarian mass movement. (more…)

The Danger of Populism

(October 2011)

There are many ways that the system defeats popular movements and struggles. One of them is populism. When people are discontent and want to act, populism is often used to mobilize us in ways that will leave us, in the end, without transformative change.

Through history, powerful movements for social and economic liberation have been co-opted and diverted by populism with very reactionary, repressive results, such as the rise of the Nazis in Germany and the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, the election of the imperialist puppet Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) in Haiti, and the ascendency of the Muslim Brotherhood within the struggle against Mubarak in Egypt. (more…)

Strengthen Collectivity: Combat Individualism

By Stephanie McMillan
(July 2012; last edited 3/30/2013)

Individualism is the ideology of competition, of capitalism. It consists of prioritizing one’s perceived immediate personal interests above collective interests, and being blind to the fact that one’s long-term personal interests actually correspond to the interests of the whole. This leads people to behave in ways that are detrimental to the collective, and ultimately to each individual as well.

Under capitalism, society does not meet the needs of the people, and we are structurally prevented from meeting our needs collectively. Capitalism’s engine is competition. There is competition between classes as well as within classes. Within the working class, the capitalist system pits each person (or family) against all others in a struggle for survival.

Mass Line: Communist Organization and the Masses

By Jan Makandal
(April 5, 2010)

Mass line is a fundamental principle.

In the political struggle, it is most important for an organization to constantly define its relationship with the masses. In the case of political struggle in the interest of working people, and particularly in the interest of the working class and all classes that are under domination and under exploitation, there is a fundamental principle that needs to be applied to the relationship of an organization with the masses, with all the classes that constitute the masses. This principle is Mass Line.

Wage Struggles: Reformist or Revolutionary?

By Jan Makandal
(February 2013)

In Bangladesh, Haiti, Brazil, China, the U.S. and everywhere, workers are demanding wages that allow them to feed, house, clothe, and educate themselves and their families.

Some on the Left argue that wage struggles are inherently reformist. The reality is that they can be either reformist or democratic (the latter as an embedded element of an overall revolutionary struggle). A thin line divides the two. The difference is that the reformist will be satisfied with reforms and stop there, while an autonomous democratic movement that has the potential to contribute to revolution will keep demanding more and more, continuing to weaken (not mechanically) capital and finally challenge its existence.

On Proletarian Theory

by Jan Makandal

April 8, 2013

In this period, we are witnessing an ossification and stagnation of proletarian revolutionary theory. The effects of this, in reality and objectively, are dogmatism, opportunism and populism. One of the consequences is that Mao’s contributions are cast in stone, making us incapable of going from a dialectical relation of general to specific and specific to general, in order to elevate the theory. That dialectical relation is the underpinning element for theory’s constant mode of rectification and consolidation. (more…)

Critical thoughts on Mao’s conceptions of contradictions

by Jan Makandal
(April 8, 2013)

Critical thoughts on Mao’s conceptions of contradictions, for the consolidation of the theory of contradictions:

Mao is one of the proletarian revolutionaries who defined contradictions. It is an objective advancement and an objective contribution to the struggle of the international proletariat. Many other intellectuals did contribute, as well, to the consolidation of the theory of contradictions. One of the fundamental differences between those intellectuals and Mao is that in the case of the others, their contributions to the theory of contradiction were not constructed inside the struggle, as was Mao’s as he waged struggle inside the CCP for the triumph of a proletarian line.

All contributions to, and all definitions of, the theory of contradictions are fundamental to the struggle of the proletariat. (more…)

Social Formation (Definition of Concept)

(December 7, 2012)

A social formation refers to a society (a social structure at any level such as a nation, city, business, university, or even a family) with all its complexities, as it is historically constituted. It includes all the internal contradictions that exist in a society, all emerging and disappearing tendencies in the economy and superstructure, in the social relationships that comprise these.

One defining element of a social formation is the emerging tendency of mode of production (what is arising vs. what is declining).

The Importance of Theory

(Last edited 2/6/13)

Theory: Everybody Has One

A theory is a foundational belief about how the world works.

Whether we are aware of it or not, we each live our lives according to our own personal, internalized philosophical theory. Our personal theory is a contradictory jumble of assumptions, beliefs, intentions, and hypotheses about the nature of the universe and our place in it. Each of us has ideas about the nature of existence, motion, and relationships. Our ideas come from everywhere and blend together: our experiences, our conversations, reading, mass media, advertising, teachers, family, friends, and foes.

On Social Formations

By Kapab

The concept of Social Formations attempts to scientifically represent societies in their historical specificity, at a certain point in time, taking into account the complex relationships between the classes and various social categories they contain and also taking into account the complex relationships that these social formations have with other social formations, particularly at the stage of capitalist imperialist globalization.

In order to grasp these complex relationships, we are proposing some analytical tools within the realm of historical materialism (the philosophical problematic and ideological framework of the proletariat in its scientific approach to the theoretical development of its political line). (more…)

On Conjuncture

By Jan Makandal
(December 2012)

One of the objectives of revolutionaries and proletarian revolutionaries, among many, that are imperative in our struggles to defeat capitalism is to constantly popularize knowledge, revolutionary knowledge for the masses to appropriate objective reality in order to be more effective in their struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

We are in a very particular historical period of capitalism and imperialism. Without systematic theoretical work and outside a correct conception of struggle of the popular masses, under the leadership of the working class, where the emancipation of the masses is being constructed in the struggle, there can’t be emancipation without appropriation. There can’t be emancipation without direct fundamental participation in the struggle at all levels by workers and the popular masses. There can’t be the theoretical development of proletarian theory outside the struggle of the working class.

A Brief Definition of Imperialism

(Last edited 6/19/2012)

The historical development of capitalism drives inexorably (though not uniformly) toward the concentration of capital. This is expedited by increasing the scale of production, dominating markets, and improving technology. Concentrations of capital form monopolies that can exert proportional power (control) over the economic and political arrangements of the social formations they dominate.

When capital, ruled by its growth imperative, inevitably reaches limits to the accumulation of surplus value within the territory (nation, or social formation) it already controls, it must expand beyond its borders to conquer other areas. It uses the state(s) of its home base(s) to wage politics (up to and including war, the most extreme form of politics) on other social formations—to subjugate the ones it can, as well as to compete with others over how to carve up the world.

Historical Materialism

(last edited 7/2012)

Historical materialism identifies three broad levels of structures and practices in societies that are divided in classes. Each one of these levels represents a system of structure and corresponding practices, a system in which the whole dialectically determines and is dependent on its constituent parts.

These three levels are:

1-    Economic system (structure and practices): the level of production and distribution of material goods and services

2-    Ideological system (structure and practices): the system of ideas, representations, theories, (…) and the system of behaviors, attitudes, customs, ambitions, habits, (…)

3-    Political system (structure and practices): the system of laws, codes, constitutions, customs (…) through which relationships of domination are defined and enshrined and the system of coercion-repression through which these relationships of domination are enforced, maintained, reproduced and developed.

There are a few global principles that are key to Historical Materialism:

Brief Notes on Imperialism, Capital and Surplus Value

(Last edited 3/13/13)

Periods of Imperialism

Imperialism is the contemporary stage of capitalism, which has developed into an integrated global system. Imperialist social formations compete among one another for dominance over the rest of the world (for control of resources, labor, and markets). Imperialism has led to the political and territorial division of the whole world by the capitalist powers.

Imperialism is historically determined (shaped by its own development over time). It is important to consider the dominant and hegemonic fraction of capital during each period of imperialism. We can identify three distinct periods (not mechanically, but as a complex process where during each one, all forms exist but one tends to dominate):

Capitalism: Brief Definitions of Concepts

by Stephanie McMillan
(Last edited 3/9/13)

To eliminate capitalism, we have to develop a strategy that goes beyond resisting its painful effects, that targets its underlying mechanisms. This is a very brief and preliminary introduction to several concepts that can help us understand the nature of our enemy, which is in many ways obscured. These definitions are extremely limited and constantly evolving (interpretations of reality are always constrained by the boundaries of our own thinking; in addition they can never catch up to reality itself, which is ever-changing).


Mode of production: The matrix of social relations (economic, political, ideological) that define the nature of a social formation, determined by the dominant ways that items for social consumption are produced, accumulated and distributed. Capitalism is the dominant mode of production in the world today, developed from 10,000+ years of class-divided society.

On the Autonomous Struggle of the Proletariat

by Jan Makandal
(July 14, 2010)

Ever since social agents in social formations became divided into social classes, these classes have always been in struggle. Capitalism/imperialism produces a class that has the historical capacity to struggle to bring an end to exploitation in any social formation. This class is the working class.

In the epoch of capitalism, the working class is the most revolutionary class in the history of humanity capable of ridding humanity of all forms of exploitation. The working class is the only class capable of bringing an end to exploitation, but not the only class capable of bringing radical changes in a society. Historically, besides the working class, no other classes have shown their capacity to bring an end to exploitation and domination. (more…)