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Reflections on MLM Mayhem Nearly a Decade After its Establishment.

Thinking back on this blog from my current perspective and concrete circumstances is difficult. Nearly a decade has transpired since, out of boredom and in the midst of graduate student frustration, I created MLM Mayhem. The name was an afterthought and the the URL ill-considered, the product of someone who wasn't interested in social media savvy and who believed that nobody would read whatever ill-considered thoughts he sent out into the void. (Also the choice of Blogger rather than Wordpress was a poorly reasoned decisioned. To be fair, however, in 2009 Blogger [or, rather, Blogspot] was the dominant blogging platform.) It was months after my union local's bitter strike of 2008/2009, right when I was engaged in finishing my dissertation, and was conceived of as little more than a space to post random thoughts and frustrations. Hell, my first post was entitled I Hate Nietzsche and was far from rigorous.

Successive posts were either asinine comics made from GPCR clip art or my early thoughts about Maoism, those baby steps of moving towards MLM, that were the result of what I was studying and my experiences with the limitations of union organizing. I was already in contact with individuals connected to a burgeoning Maoist movement, both in Canada and abroad, and so the blog was developing according to the discussions and debates I had enjoyed in these circles. There is a reason why I branded the blog with the nomenclature of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism even if I was only beginning, in 2009, to work out its meaning. A large part of this working out would become blog posts, a public journaling of my political education.

To my surprise MLM Mayhem began to garner followers, and I have no idea why this was the case. In less than a year of its creation it ended up being read by a group of people from an anarchist subreddit who, because of their own experiences with anarchism, were becoming interested in Maoism. These would be the folks who would establish the now defunct Angry Marxists blog. The eventually established an IRC where a number of Maoist, Maoist-inclined, and anti-revisionist bloggers could interact. Many of these Maoists took over the communism subreddit, subjected it to harsh rules that prevented an anti-communist line from dominating, but then ended up ejecting from that subreddit when Third Worldists and Brezhnevites took over the discourse.

The Angry Marxists IRC fell apart for a number of reasons which I won't elaborate here, though it is worth noting that the involvement of some members in the New Communist Party (Organizing Committee) that would very soon have the New Communist Party (Liaison Committee) splitting from it ran parallel to the IRC's dissolution. By the time that the Liaison Committee fell apart because of critiques made from the Red Guards Austin, and when the original Organizing Committee faction had transformed into the Maoist Communist Group, that IRC that had funnelled some people into this party building project was long since defunct. I had burned my own bridges there over comments made about the state of Brazil, based on my defense of the Maoist project there, that were tendered in a manner that was unprincipled in form. The OC supporters were long gone. The Maoists from out of country, mainly an activist in Iceland who was also connected to Tjen Folket, vanished. The fate of social media Marxism reached its predictable denouement.

During this entire process I kept writing on MLM Mayhem and thinking through the meaning of Maoism through my own studies but, most importantly, my own political practice. The archive of this blog represents a series of reflections and interventions that represent a political process where my understanding was in development (I don't agree entirely with a number of posts I made years ago), and where my organizational practice was being refined. Looking back I can see that period where some of my work was reflected my developing understanding of MLM, other aspects of my work reflected my disdain for movementism, and other aspects of my work were trying to understand my location as both an academic and a worker. During this time I witnessed the rise and fall of the post-Maoist project Kasama, the emergence of the RCP-USA's "new synthesis", and the online reflection of Maoist movements that were at one point inspired by this blog and at another point annoyed by what it produced. But who cares? If there is a Maoist movement that was once influenced by my blog but now seeks to distance itself from the MLM I've argued, and if it succeeds in making a revolutionary contribution, then so be it: down with book worship if the result is revolutionary gains. Of course I don't think my assessment of MLM is wrong, but separating from this assessment to actually make Maoism and succeeding in doing it will convince me. Let 100 flowers blossom!

In any case, my posts have become less frequent in the past few years due to material circumstances. I have a daughter who is growing up and requires my attention because I am not some misogynist leftwing asshole who leaves child rearing and house work to his wife so as to do revolutionary work at her expense. Seriously: it takes a lot of work to raise a kid, which should be obvious from any social investigation of child care. Outside of child care there is my organizational commitments and my job, both of which take precedence. Then there is the fact that I am working a number of manuscripts and articles I would like to get published so as to make MLM more mainstream.

Over a year ago I closed down the comments on MLM Mayhem because they required too much energy and stress to moderate. Half of them were abusive anti-communist comments that required immediate deletions, the other half were primarily comprised of liberal complaints and revisionist ire. Only a few comments were interested in actually engaging with what I wrote, and even these would suck me into long discussions on the comment strings. I'm still sad I closed down the comments but I did so because I needed to reclaim the time and energy that blog discussion was sucking from my life.

Since then posting on this blog has become less frequent. It's hard for me to conceptualize it as the same kind of Maoist intervention as it once was because I don't have the time and energy to make the same interventions. Sadly, I no longer feel the need to respond to every ML or would-be MLM as I once did. A large part of this refusal to intervene as I did before is due to what I feel is the US command of the discourse, the need to respond to movements in the US more than I would have responded to movements in Canada or elsewhere. Honestly I lack the energy, and my worries about the emergence of dogmatism in the Maoist movement seem to be becoming more clear with every month. Particularly since some of this contemporary Maoism's dogmatism seems to have grown from my work but is now turning back to attack this work: it's a strange position to be in but not one that I feel equipped, at least not at the moment, to deal with on the blog medium.

So be it…

MLM Mayhem will persist, though in this stripped down version, and maybe in the near future it will renew its interventionist ire. Until then I shall persist, slowly and surely, as elsewhere I remain active in the Maoist milieu of my social context. The struggle continues.