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Some Notes on Maoists: Cambridge Leftists Could Learn a Thing or Two About Political Agitation



Brett Altschul

On Saturday, a member of the Maoist International Movement accosted me in the Harvard subway station. He was selling the organization's official newspaper, rather vigorously accosting his potential customers and yelling slogans about people's liberation. Apparently, I looked like an authentic supporter of class warfare, since he singled me out as a likely buyer.

I didn't purchase his Maoist rag. Instead, I made every effort to pass by him quickly. I had to dash up the stairs, since the escalator was broken. (I'm sure the Maoists saw the broken escalator as a typical failure of the imposed socio-industrial order.) I escaped upwards into Harvard Square, which is hardly a haven for the oppressor classes.

As I dashed up the stairs, I caught the tail-end of the sales pitch he hurled in my direction. It was something about the imperialist nations and their shameless exploitation of Third World resources. As I recovered my breath, I began to wonder what sort of rationale lies behind the jargon and posturing of these denizens of the far left. Their arguments just don't make too much sense to me.

For one thing, MIM tends to support the dumbest possible left-wing causes. Last August, the whole of the Maoist infrastructure in Cambridge threw its support behind Richard J. Picariello, a former bomb-thrower and radical, who was arrested for trespassing on MIT property. Naturally, the Communists believed that the Campus Police, in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies, targeted Picariello because of his radical political beliefs.

The Maoists appear to assume that every law enforcement agent in the country has instant electronic access to a regularly updated list of everybody in the country who ever espoused left-wing political sentiments. That's what enabled the first officers on the scene to identify Picariello as a fomenter of dissatisfaction with the current regime. This technology, used exclusively to target opponents of the government, is kept totally hidden from the public.

Police officers aren't the only enemy of the proletariat. From my position here at The Tech, a firmly capitalist institution, I can freely attack Maoist ideology. This newspaper extends its hegemony all across the MIT campus, stifling all opposing viewpoints. The Communist faithful must remain in hiding, fearing retaliation from imperialist, capitalist forces in powerful positions. Since no real worker could oppose Chairman Mao's teachings, I must be one of those powerful bourgeois types.

As a member of the evil ruling class, I naturally have connections with several multinational corporations. Moreover, all those companies have extensive staffs of assassins, saboteurs, and spies. We regularly use these operatives to break up pockets of proletarian resistance. The working classes grow more and more restless, and our measures become more and more harsh as we suppress them.

Why can't the Maoists attack some bastion of corporate evil with which normal people might have a vague chance of sympathizing? You rarely see posters for protests against genuinely powerful and dangerous entities like Microsoft. Yet Microsoft is one of the world's most important companies, and it engages in numerous practices that decrease the quality of life for normal people.

Once, I tried to talk to a hard-core Maoist, to get an of understanding of his logic. Unfortunately, I could learn very little from him. He had set political views on three or four current political issues, but his opinions were couched in such arcane jargon that I could never get a good understanding of what he meant. Whenever I asked for clarification, he said I was uninformed, and he shouldn't need to explain the issues to me on such a basic level.

Apparently, these people have given up on their world revolution ever actually occurring. They choose to expend their energy on the causes that seem the least reasonable to normal people. They evince no interest in actually explaining and discussing the details if their ideas. In fact, they only really seem interested in selling their materials and generating revenue. They exploit capitalism to perpetuate their Communist activities.

The Maoist International Movement and similar organizations dwell a long way from reality. If they spent some effort on things that mattered to real people, I wouldn't laugh every time I pass by the fatherly portrait of Mao Tse-Tung that hangs in the window of Revolution Books.