6 of 6 on Contradiction: Response to an Assertion of Fundamental Contradiction

6 Pieces on Contradiction

Text 6:

A response to an assertion that the fundamental contradiction in the capitalist mode of production is socialized production vs. private appropriation.

By Jan Makandal

(April 17, 2013)

Is it semantic or an actual divergence?

I haven’t yet seen any analysis proving that the fundamental contradiction is between socialized production and private ownership. What is socialized production under capitalism? This is a question anyone should ask. Is it because a group of agents of production are performing a collective task to transform raw materials into a finished product, which in turn will become a commodity? And is that act in itself called socialized production?

5 of 6 on Contradiction: Three Types of Contradiction

6 Pieces on Contradiction

Text 5:

Three Types of Contradiction
By Jan Makandal

(April 14, 2013)

I will address three types of contradictions.

1) The contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie (on a world scale, and within particular countries):

We are still at this stage, though of course many moments and conjunctures have passed under the bridge since its beginning. This is a universal contradiction that needs to be applied in each particular social formation, based on the interest of the international proletariat — Proletarian Internationalism. Proletarian organizations need to analyze their own social formations, and simultaneously construct their political line to organize for proletarian revolution. The fundamental task of a structured proletarian organization is to organize for revolution in its own social formation, as part of an international revolution. This is obvious if we understand that the fundamental contradiction is the proletariat facing the bourgeoisie, and the principal contradiction is the need to crush the state apparatus of the capitalist class, by the masses under the leadership of the proletariat. It is clear that any deviation from that universal line is revisionism.

4 of 6 on Contradiction: Confusing Tendencies with Phenomenon

6 Pieces on Contradiction

Text 4:

The confusion of a phenomenon with the tendencies produced by that phenomenon
By Jan Makandal

(April 11, 2013)

All phenomena, all objective realities, have a dynamic of development. That development goes through different periods, stages and moments. And the dynamics of development, within all the stages and moments, are constantly producing tendencies.

In the evolution of phenomena, these tendencies will move in a direction toward either disappearing or consolidating, fundamentally because of class struggle. One example is slavery as a form of social relations. Slavery was a tendency of class-divided society, as a social relation in production that consolidated for the reproduction of the main phenomenon. It dissipated as soon as other tendencies became more profitable for the reproduction of those class-divided societies (transitioned to capitalism in the US, and to feudalism in other social formations such as Haiti).

3 of 6 on Contradiction: Concepts of Contradiction (Principal Contradiction)

6 Pieces on Contradiction

Text 3:

Concepts of Contradiction
By Jan Makandal

(April 6, 2013)


The principal contradiction is the contradiction characterizing a stage of a phenomenon. It is considered principal, because we must address it in order for the phenomenon to pass to a new stage of development. In a specific stage, the principal contradiction determines the evolution of other contradictions. Hence, all other contradictions play a secondary role in the transition from one stage to another. We identify the principal contradiction as conjuncturally determinant, meaning it concentrates and condenses all the other contradictions, and it must be addressed in order to resolve other contradictions.

2 of 6 on Contradiction: Critical Thoughts on Mao’s Conceptions

6 Pieces on Contradiction

Text 2:

Critical thoughts on Mao’s conceptions of contradictions, for the consolidation of the theory of contradictions
By Jan Makandal

(April 6, 2013)

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. (more…)

1 of 6 on Contradiction: Upholding Mao’s Contributions; Not Maoism

6 Pieces on Contradiction

Text 1:

Upholding Mao’s Contributions; Not Maoism
By Jan Makandal

(April 4, 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…)

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…)

10 Starting Points for Revolutionary Proletarian Militants

Last edited 5/18/13

Imperialism is facing an unprecedented crisis with no apparent solutions. Our struggles must push the contradiction forward, to make it harder for the dominant classes as a whole to recover, and to lay the basis for an alternative to be built in our—the popular masses’—interests. Let’s organize and mobilize to face the ongoing attack of a rotten system, and build our capacity until we can defeat it.

1) We must develop our theoretical capacity to understand the nature of the system, the mechanisms of its functioning, its dynamism and tendencies, its strengths and weaknesses, the reasons for its sudden rapid degradation, and its struggle for survival.

2) We must build organizations at all levels (revolutionary, intermediate, mass). Without organizations strong enough to defeat the system’s ideological, political and economic domination, we will always be at their mercy. The enemy won’t concede or fall on its own.

3) We must unify ourselves based on our class interests. We should engage in discussions not for polemics, but for the purpose of consolidating our unity. A genuine desire for unity should guide our struggle within the people’s camp. We must “fight to agree,” so we can stand together against this rotten system.

4) At the mass level, we must distinguish between fundamental and secondary disagreements, and not divide over the latter. Our unity must not be simply written on paper, but constructed in the process of struggle, under the principle that in order to face this decomposing system we must solidify the unity of the people’s camp, under the leadership of the autonomous working class.

5) An organization without theory is an organization with no compass, no guide for action. We need theory if we are to reach our goals. It should not be static dogma, but in a constant mode of rectification, evaluation and consolidation.

6) Solid popular democratic organizations at all levels are constructed within the dialectical motion of the relationship between theory and practice. In this relationship, practice is determinant. The purpose of theory is as a guide to practice. We do not need to merely interpret and understand reality for its own sake, but to radically transform it.

7) An organization with a theory but no practice is a harmless study group. It will be unable to determine any goal, much less achieve it. Without its relation to practice, theory not only has no purpose, but is also motionless, comatose, unable to expand or advance. Our practice validates (or not) our theory, and allows our theory to grow and develop, in order to further advance our practice.

8.) Knowledge is not the property of a few, but belongs to all of us. Among us, it is most powerful when it is collective. The more that knowledge is collectively appropriated, the more solid and democratic our organizations are. In this process, we become more collective in our definition and understanding of the system, and of how to render it null.

9) Solutions are right here in front of us, not hidden in any formulas or scriptures. Only through struggle will the correct line emerge to guide us in discovering the solutions to our problems. We need to learn from the past with the objective of going beyond the past, not remain stuck there as the caravan of life passes in front of our eyes.

10) History will always advance whether we develop the tools and concepts to understand it or not. We can’t stop the advancement of history, so we should strive to understand it, with the objective of influencing it to the greatest extent possible. If, instead, we try to fit the dynamics of history into the parameters of previously acquired knowledge or incomplete concepts, or if we reject the use of concepts because of ideological issues such as dogmatism and sectarianism, then our understanding will be lopsided, limiting our capacity to intervene.

Advancing in our struggle is a must, or capital will continue to destroy our lives and the entire world itself. It is our historical task, and our great desire, to overcome capital, to achieve the emancipation of humanity for a classless and sustainable way of life.