Learning to learn: theoretical and practical interaction with dialectics

BY:Elias Moya| May 23, 2024
Learning to learn: theoretical and practical interaction with dialectics


This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

In October of 1920, at the Third All-Russian Congress of the Russian YCL, Lenin made an explicit point regarding the modern objectives of the international Communist movement, stating the following:

“I must say that the tasks of the youth in general … and all other organizations in particular, may be summed up in one word: learn. Of course, this is only ‘one word.’ It does not answer the principal and most essential questions: what to learn, and how to learn?”

Per our stated and implied objectives, the Party must continue to expand and advance its educational directives and sequential district dissemination based upon an evaluation of our current on-the-ground conditions in order to address theoretical and practical deficiencies in our organization.

As the Party has tripled in size since the last convention in 2019, many new members have joined from all strata of society. While it is preferable in the ideal that these members be union workers and/or well-versed in grasping Marxist literature and its application, it is also arguable that based upon a practical assessment of our newest influx of membership, materially this is not the case. In the Southern California District, members of our Onboarding Committee have noticed in their experiences processing applicants that a sizable portion (arguably the majority of individuals) who submit the form to join the Party originate from a non-union working class or student background with little to no practical experience in mass struggle, trending towards youth between the ages of 21 to 35, which have been radicalized toward scratching the surface of Marxist socialism via social media propaganda and agitation. It would serve us well to categorize this unique background as a social relation of modern American conditions; a neointelligentsia.

Just as the printing press was utilized by conscious forces to help emerge the first ideological negation of bourgeois society and led to the first successful socialist revolutions, so too has social media largely contributed to this latest surge, the beginning ripples of the negation against the global neoliberal economy. From particular American conditions we see spring forth this “red generation” mentioned in the main discussion document adopted by the National Committee. Almost rhythmically, as the printing press allowed the capitalist class to buy up newspapers, publishing houses, and later televised news broadcasts, social media comes with a myriad of drawbacks.

A primary disadvantageous factor of this technology is the fact that content distributed to users is subject to overwhelming influence stemming from neoliberal and fascist ideology. From a dialectical materialist perspective, content which draws the highest quantity of user-exposure generates the most ad revenue, and algorithmically becomes the foreground of what other users see in an engagement cycle. On the psychological end, shocking or argumentative (oftentimes unsubstantiated) content invokes arrays of amusement, grief, and especially anger. Content of this kind, by nature, proceeds to provoke a response in the form of engagement, with likes, replies, reposts, quotes and other forms of sharing or replicating content.

The sectarian left has found its home online in various forms of vulgar, uninformed factions propagated by clout-chasing cantankerous opportunists who claim Marxism in some capacity, whilst remaining divorced from the unity of theory and practice. In the aforementioned speech, Lenin called this “the most disgusting feature of the old bourgeois society.” Naturally, this allows for individualist, reactionary ideas to take hold, and are of high-engagement value to the class-conscious capitalists who own the platforms it is presented on. It doubly serves the ruling class to promote it for the reasons of ideological reinforcement and revenue.

Unfortunately, when members of this neo-intelligentsia come into the Party with their embryonic understanding of socialism, a contradiction arises between their perception of the road to socialism versus our Party’s collectively designed and rigorously tested Road to Socialism USA. The observation we draw is that ideas imprinted by social media repels new members (or worse, retained members who misunderstand our program and seek to change it on poorly developed pretenses of “revisionism”, “electoralism”, or “tailism”) from truly grasping a program built upon theory cultivated by practice. The solution to this contradiction exists within our ability to learn and sufficiently teach dialectics from the materialist perspective, while simultaneously persuading our newest members to practice among who truly constitutes politics, the millions, rather than the niche sectarian left, where the informative unity of theory and practice is sent to perish.

In the article “How Lenin Studied Marx,” written by his wife Nadezhda Krupskaya, she states the following.

“[Lenin] believed that without a serious philosophical basis it is impossible to hold out in the struggle against the pressure of bourgeois ideas and the restoration of bourgeois philosophy. It was on the basis of his own experience that Lenin wrote about the manner of studying Hegel’s dialectics from the materialist point of view.”

With little to no comprehension for this school of thinking, our persuasion will stand only to be hot air against ubiquitous bourgeois philosophy. The Party must collectively make the effort to learn and teach Hegelian dialectics and contrast it to the materialist position. The reason for this emphasis is that when we are finally able to convince hesitant comrades to participate in mass struggles, there must be a serious system of thought in place for them to learn firsthand how those captured by bourgeois ideology will evolve to become fighters for democracy and eventually socialism. In general, it would help our comrades understand our theory of change. For example, in the realm of Congress, between the Being of a bourgeois or fascist party of bourgeois interests, toward its negation to Nothingness and the election of a robust workers’ party exists a Sublation of elected progressives under a bourgeois label.

Creating condensed Marxist classes of Hegelian dialectics would be a strong first step toward inspiring interest in the greater educational value of Marx’s more sophisticated works, and therefore generate a feedback loop which foundationally convinces our newest and eager-to-action comrades of our kind of practice within mass movement organizations, our Communist Plus.



    Elias serves as Chair of the Southeast Los Angeles Club, CPUSA. When he isn't working, he enjoys reading philosophical and political texts. He enjoys hobbies where you can experiment, such as cooking, chess, and video games. He is also a father to two cats named "Soot" and "Vordt, of the Boreal Valley."

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