Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 13, 2014

Full page ad in today’s NY Times for Bob Avakian-Cornel West meeting

Filed under: cults,Maoism — louisproyect @ 5:45 pm

This ad costs $70,000. Where does this cult get its funding, I wonder.



  1. I made a similar comment on one of their promoted Tweets. The whole campaign just does not seem like something a small Marxist party would put on. I’d actually go just out of curiosity to see Avakian live. But I’m not spending 25 bucks.

    Comment by srogouski — November 13, 2014 @ 5:52 pm

  2. Avakian is the Dear Leader of a neo-Stalinist cult. I had some experience with RU–now RCP–in the late 1960s, and Avakian is the left’s equivalent of Lyndon LaRouche. As for Cornell West, isn’t he a self-promoting blowhard who masks his superficiality with polysyllabic palaver?

    Lots of people will be saving their $25, but I would be fascinated to meet the attendees. Would the political numbskulls outnumber the police agents?

    Comment by Joe Barnwell — November 13, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

  3. Is Ed Asner senile, I’ve respected him for decades.

    Comment by David Walsh — November 13, 2014 @ 6:58 pm

  4. Asner’s quote: “A consumption to be wished for.” Hmm. That’s from Hamlet: “A consummation devoutly to be wished for.” And it refers to death (of the left?).

    Comment by srogouski — November 13, 2014 @ 9:03 pm

  5. Cornell West is the black Chris Hedges. Chris Hedges is the white Cornell West.

    Thankfully there are plenty of photos of them together, or it could lead to conspiracy theories.

    Both West and Hedges, interestingly enough, speak at RCP events. My guess is it’s in the interests of non-sectarianism. Speak to anybody. Neither is a 1960s era American Maoist holdover.

    Comment by srogouski — November 13, 2014 @ 9:10 pm

  6. The RCP has several rich supporters which makes sense since they originated on campuses at a time when the vast majority of working class people didn’t attend university (and in fact still don’t, 80% of the total population in the Midwest has never been).

    They grew up and got respectable jobs and made lots of cash. A handful of them kept giving to Bob and still do.

    Add to that the fact that the party requires members to give basically everything they own, the way they send young supporters out in droves aggressively pushing their papers and books and DVDs, and their 100 shell companies presumably able to get loans and business credit cards (Bob Avakian institute, Wtf?).

    Plus Bob came from a wealthy family and his dad was a judge.

    Makes sense to me.

    Comment by Salpuris Dexter — November 14, 2014 @ 3:11 am

  7. @4, you have it back-asswards:

    Hamlet: ” To die: to sleep:
    Nor more; and by a sleep to say we end
    The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to; ‘tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wished.”

    Asner: “.., a fearless leader of the left is a consummation to be wished for”

    and nothing to do with tuberculosis. Asner’s is a veiled compliment: brackish water on a parched tongue.

    My unstudied take on critics of Hedges & West is emblematic of the parochial attitudes I see in the left which seems unable to unite even over the broadest of issues and form a counterforce to the two ruling institutions masquerading as political parties. Hedges & West are ubiquitous. At various times I have seen each on the MSM taking jabs… So I have to ask you, who else is out there on internet radio or YouTube? I hear Hedges often on WiFi radio broadcast on many community and internet only stations. My sense is that the audience that turns out to see him are liberals who are in-turn challenged by the critique Hedges offers. I don’t really need to be exposed to a parade of horribles in an appraisal of Hedges as his core critique of the empire should suffice in making him an ally. This applies to West as well: check his roster on YouTube to get a sense of the breadth of his activism.

    No, I don’t want anything to do with the RCP. West has appeared in RCP “debates” which end up as fund drive gift CD’s for Pacifica donors. (Hedges to the best of my knowledge hasn’t appeared with onstage with the RCP.) Excerpts of the West-Avakian ‘debate’ are bound to show up on You-Tube and on Pacifica. No props from me for the event about to unfold this Saturday but at the same time this points to a vacuum on the left: unable and unwilling to compromise to offer a united front against the two parties in power and leaving a parched desert open to what you see here. The satirist requires a mirror. Hedges and West aren’t the problem.

    @Louis: I’ve wondered the same about the source of funding for the RCP. A string or bookstores which only offer RCP publications and a weekly full-color newspaper can’t be cheap… and $70k for the advert in the NYT makes me wonder where the RCP does its fracking.

    Comment by Scott Edwards — November 14, 2014 @ 3:31 am

  8. The West vs Avakian debate, about whether or not it is good to have fairies dancing in your head, and who is closet to the Chief Fairy and Decider of all that is true, made my month. It’s the funniest thing I have seen since Gerry Ford hit his head. Or Bush 1 puked at the banquet. Loved it. Be advised: Me vs the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Admission: 500 dollars. I am saving up for the NYTimes ad.

    Comment by Rich — November 14, 2014 @ 6:34 am

  9. re: Hamlet: ” To die: to sleep:
    Nor more; and by a sleep to say we end
    The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to; ‘tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wished.”

    The consummation is to sleep at the end of a hard life.

    So Bob is the deadly morphine that relieves you of the struggle and the heartache that comes with being an activist on the left?

    I still don’t think Asner chose his words with care.

    p.s. Hedges is a great introduction to the left. But when you start counting how many times he mentions having reported from “the former Yugoslavia” that means you know the act and it’s time to move on.

    Comment by srogouski — November 14, 2014 @ 3:08 pm

  10. @9: No. You’ve mixed metaphors in a effort to diss Asner for his endorsement in the NYT advert. His ‘consummation’ (your ‘consumption’) as a reach to Shakespeare is tenuous at best. How about his reference to Avakian as a ‘fearless leader’ referencing the off-camera boss of Boris & Natasha in Bullwinkle?
    If you are going to assert Asner using Hamlet as a metaphor then get it right: which is better, the thousand shocks of shit in this life or the escape of death?

    I do like Asner’s point that this type of dialog be played out throughout the land and that it is desperately needed… and mine being that the field is left open to Avakian because the ‘left’ prefers parochial purity to coalition: as witnessed by the satirical reference in the photograph in #5. Manning deserves to be free but here the emblematic snide remarks imply that only the ideo-correct messenger may carry the message. Thus that which is “desperately needed ” gets derailed thru cynicism.

    I remember seeing Asner say a few words at the Hollywood rally held in opposition to Bush plans to invade Iraq in 2003. He could as well stayed home instead.

    ps: Yes, Hedges is a great intro… that’s the point. At some juncture the student is urged for move on to French II

    Comment by Scott Edwards — November 14, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

  11. Scott Edwards.

    Not everybody but a good many people will see Asner’s quote “a consummation to be wished for” as a reference to Shakespeare. As such it adds an unfortunate layer of meaning to the blurb. Two old men from the 1960s left as a “‘consummation” of the “thousand natural shocks” that leftist organizing is heir to? That’s 25 bucks for a little sip of death, and a little more of 1970s Marxist sectarianism. The kids have moved. The typo you keep harping on adds even another layer of meaning, doesn’t it? Avakian as the left’s “consumption?” I don’t think you want to go there either.

    But I do like the idea of Bob the Bare Bodkin

    Comment by srogouski — November 14, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

  12. re: “How about his reference to Avakian as a ‘fearless leader’ referencing the off-camera boss of Boris & Natasha in Bullwinkle?”

    When I hear Avakian described as “fearless” I just remember the man’s been in hiding for the past 40 years. This is his “coming out.”

    But I still think the Hamlet metaphor works better. Tired of all the difficulties of leftist organizing, the infighting, the isolation, the sense of futility? Come to Bob the Bare Bodkin. By a sleep (a demi cult) to say we end (of thinking and struggle).

    “tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wished”

    Comment by srogouski — November 14, 2014 @ 5:58 pm

  13. It is lamentable that the field of left discourse have been ceded to Avakian and the RCP as evidenced by the NYT advert. The effete-ery displayed in #5 is but one small example of white-gloved spectatorship searching and finding dust on the citizen activism of Hedges & West. I find the lampoon being employed here as distasteful and may be one indication as to why the left cannot gather in some cogent united front. For me, its motives are all too clear.

    Comment by Scott Edwards — November 14, 2014 @ 7:04 pm

  14. Dammit. I ruined the left. Sorry.

    Comment by srogouski — November 14, 2014 @ 8:17 pm

  15. What’s more fascinating than Avakian though is the idea that a typo has meaning to interpret but an obvious (whether intentional or not) reference to the most famous passage in western literature does not. Ah. You children of Paul de Man and Family Guy.

    Comment by srogouski — November 14, 2014 @ 8:28 pm

  16. Final note. Then I leave this odd debate. I’m not sure where Scott Edwards got the idea that I’m trying to insult either Chris Hedges or Cornel West. I admire them both. I also think the accusation that they can be both shallow and repetitive have some merit.

    I’m also a little dubious about the idea that some general fault on the left has made Avakian inevitable. I think it’s worth getting back to the original post. There’s big money behind this very odd Maoist sect that keeps it going.It doesn’t have a lot of influence on the broader left, even with the support of people like West. It’s just this strange thing that continues to exist.

    Who’s paying for it?

    Comment by srogouski — November 14, 2014 @ 9:02 pm

  17. I lived for years in the General Grant Houses inHharlem where Avakianites set up shop pretty mucj every Saturday making asses of themselves. I admit tp geeling sorry for most of them and even sorrier that there is no left left… about the traficomicaññ asshat clown show they out on Blogged a bit

    Comment by Eugene Weixel — November 16, 2014 @ 12:51 am

  18. Forgive the typos there is almost no light here

    Comment by Eugene Weixel — November 16, 2014 @ 12:52 am

  19. […] as Cornel West and the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP)in the U.S. led by Bob Avakian, whose purposes were to incite revolutionary violence against the police and white America. The RCP is not the same […]

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  20. […] as Cornel West and the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP)in the U.S. led by Bob Avakian, whose purposes were to incite revolutionary violence against the police and white […]

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