The big news in First World Marxist circles has been the destruction of the “New York Maoists,” a.k.a the New Communist Party-Liaison Committee (NCP-LC). They were a college activist group based out of CUNY who had front groups in Los Angeles and Austin, most notably. These two particular groups released statements a few days ago announcing that they were disassociating themselves from the NCP-LC. (RGLA, RGA) Their reasons for doing so were: the refusal of the NCP-LC to confront the sexual violence by one of its members, Freddy Bastone, and other misogynistic tendencies and incidents within their organization. Additionally, they had lied about the expulsion of said member when his offenses were brought to light.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story, you can view more about the incident in this news broadcast.
Since the two organizations have announced their departure, the NCP-LC has made a full response. In it, they make several claims against both the Red Guards Los Angeles and Austin. In one part the NCP claims that both organizations gave falsehoods. A point by point list was constructed to attempt to absolve themselves of their responsibility for knowingly keeping a sex attacker among their ranks. In their view, according to this document, both the Los Angeles and Austin groups essentially allowed it to happen. In another section they claim that they were investigating the claims before the split occurred.
On April 5 there were two documents released criticizing our branch, one by RGLA and one by Red Guards Austin (RGA). The document published by RGA presents a detailed account of the circumstances that led to their criticism, and while we unite with what they’ve said in the abstract, the details presented are a mixture of truth, half-truth, and factually wrong statements…
1) RGLA had national leadership of the NCP-LC at the time of their resignation. This meant they had the bureaucratic means at their disposal to advance the debate on gender practice. Their resignation gave the impression they were sidelines or somehow unable to exercise line struggle. This is factually incorrect. Their resignation was a retreat, not an advance, in getting gender practice rectified.
2) On a practical level, RGLA was aware and part of a transparent process of investigation on an issue not directly related to Freddy Bastone. Their mistrust of this process was never communicated to the NYC branch membership. The day before the resignation they were informed and part of a process to investigate a coverup of a sexual abuse allegation. They did not raise any criticisms in this regard.
Another piece of the statement accuses both groups of committing “gender opportunism.” Upon researching this term, I’ve found no real concrete definition of it. Interestingly, it appears on the Maosoleum blog, which is run by Carlos Rivera, the leader of the now defunct NCP-LC. Among its posts on the subject is a reference to the word in regards to the NCP-LC’s split from the NCP-OC. Aside from this, the accusation of “gender opportunism” against both groups is undefined.
6) In choosing to abandon the LC without previous notice, RGLA has fallen into gender opportunism: they have valued an abstract adherence to the spoken word over a concrete adherence to supporting women and non-men in the NYC branch politically and organizationally. It is the classic position of men beating other men with the pain of women and non-men. Women and non-men also engage in this retreat — it is an issue of political line not identity.
The claim here is that both organizations are wrong, because they left the group that refused to deal with its rampant sexism. In the NCP-LC’s view, by splitting off from them in such a way, they are hurting women and “non-men.” The claim is laughable in the face of the reality that it was the NCP-LC who was harming women. This is a blatant attempt to paint the groups who left as perpetrators, and the NCP-LC as victims. Such dishonesty is ridiculous.
In another section, the NCP-LC claims that they couldn’t do an investigation of themselves because they are, “without a national body.” From there, they claim to be investigating other accusations of abusive gender practices, against two of their members, which they claim are recently suspended.
8) On the issue of the investigation mentioned in point 2, without a national body to hold us accountable we cannot conduct an adequate investigation into the allegations brought against two of our presently suspended members. The general membership body of the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee (RSCC) has decided that they will continue their own investigation into the allegations brought against these two men. We fully support the decision of the RSCC general body to continue the investigations into the allegations of abusive gender practice by Tafadar Sourov and Khalil Vasquez. We stand behind RSCC’s ability to ensure accountability to the survivors.
This seems a bit confusing. First, there was an ability to investigate, and the RGLA had the ability to be involved, but then the NCP-LC didn’t have the ability to carry out, “an adequate investigation.” What is going on here? This whole explanation/attack on the groups by the NCP-LC seems convoluted. The document appears to be claiming that the NCP-LC is guilty of some wrong doing, but shifting the blame onto the two organizations that have left them.
Regardless, the Red Guards L.A. and Austin have made the correct choice to disassociate themselves from the NCP-LC, and their decision should be supported.
For some time, many of us in the online Marxist community have known about the abuses that have been carried out by the NCP-LC. People have been afraid to voice them out of fear of retaliation and a lack of concrete proof. When criticisms of sexism were brought before the NCP-LC in the past, its leader Carlos Rivera announced that she was a trans-woman – thus her group became incapable of sexism. The NCP-LC has been skillful in using identity politics to shield themselves from rightful criticism. This is the inevitable result of identity politics itself. When one places identity over concrete material conditions, they end up with fictions as theory and practice.
I’s a lesson that all First Worldists should learn.