The capacity for military force alone isn't enough to win power, especially when navigating a task as sensitive and intellectually demanding as proletarian revolution. Neither is the capacity for functional organization. There are self-professed communist organizations--like the Maoist party in the Philippines--that possess both of these qualities, but that are unable to defeat the capitalist state because of their theoretical deficiencies. And even when they practice correct revolutionary models that I'll recommend throughout this essay, like democratic centralism, their adherence to ultra-leftist beliefs undermines them like an Achilles' heel. The Philippine Maoists refuse to ally with the urban proletariat, rigidly adhering to an outdated isolation towards the rural. Consequently, they remain unable to win their People's War. This stems from Maoism's hostility towards successful socialist projects like China, which by extension causes hostility towards the scientific approach that has made these projects successful.
Or worse, these strains are assimilated into the network of reactionary intrigue, falling prey to wreckers and splintering. To succeed, we need to properly understand our conditions, how to respond to them, and how to facilitate that response. In fulfilling these requirements, what all the proper procedures stem from is discipline. Because as I'll show, the incorrect ideas that lead to adventurism, dogmatism, and other errors stem from a failure of intellectual humility and self-control.
Enforce democratic centralism or fail
In Guerrilla Warfare, Che Guevara describes just how severe revolutionary discipline becomes when the confrontation with the state is at its fiercest:
One of the most important features of military organization is disciplinary punishment. Discipline must be one of the bases of action of the guerrilla forces (this must be repeated again and again). As we have already said, it should spring from a carefully reasoned internal conviction; this produces an individual with inner discipline. When this discipline is violated, it is necessary always to punish the offender, whatever his rank, and to punish him drastically in a way that hurts. This is important, because pain is not felt by a guerrilla soldier in the same way as by a soldier of the regular army. The punishment of putting a soldier in jail for ten days constitutes for the guerrilla fighter a magnificent period of rest; ten days with nothing to do but eat, no marching, no work, no standing the customary guards, sleeping at will, resting, reading, etc. From this it can be deduced that deprivation of liberty ought not to be the only punishment available in the guerrilla situation.
Even when a cadre is functioning in the most friendly conditions imaginable, where there are no armed forces trying to track it down and the prospect of such a guerrilla scenario is distant, this disciplinary culture must be maintained in the proportions that correspond to the given conditions. Cadre members must always be willing to counter any incorrect ideas they encounter from their peers, in accordance with Mao's warning that letting a stray remark slip is one type of liberalism. They must be willing to eject a member if the member refuses to learn from a mistake, and to enforce disciplinary protocols--like the mandate that one write out pledges for correcting their mistakes if the cadre agrees such self-scrutiny is necessary for them.
Mao's Combat Liberalism provides a guide to the lapses in discipline that these kinds of measures are designed to help cadres avoid:
To let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong... To indulge in irresponsible criticism in private instead of actively putting forward one's suggestions to the organization ... To show no regard at all for the principles of collective life but to follow one's own inclination ... To let things drift if they do not affect one personally; to say as little as possible while knowing perfectly well what is wrong, to be worldly wise and play safe and seek only to avoid blame ... Not to obey orders but to give pride of place to one's own opinions. To demand special consideration from the organization but to reject its discipline ... To indulge in personal attacks, pick quarrels, vent personal spite or seek revenge instead of entering into an argument and struggling against incorrect views for the sake of unity or progress or getting the work done properly ... To hear incorrect views without rebutting them and even to hear counter-revolutionary remarks without reporting them, but instead to take them calmly as if nothing had happened ... To be among the masses and fail to conduct propaganda and agitation ... To see someone harming the interests of the masses and yet not feel indignant, or dissuade or stop him or reason with him, but to allow him to continue ... To work half-heartedly without a definite plan or direction ... To regard oneself as having rendered great service to the revolution, to pride oneself on being a veteran, to disdain minor assignments while being quite unequal to major tasks, to be slipshod in work and slack in study ... To be aware of one's own mistakes and yet make no attempt to correct them, taking a liberal attitude towards oneself.
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