I’ve followed Kasama off and on for a while and have always meant but never managed to dig into their more foundational documents. I’ve recently read a few of their substantial pieces and have others market to read. Quotes from these below. What gave me the impetus to do so was this exchange –

Just now I’ve read the first two and started the third. In the second, the author talks about ‘faultlines’ and ‘reconception’, both of which are technical terms in Kasama circles. I asked for some clarification and/or reading suggestions on those terms. That’s what sparked me reading further into their stuff, and like I said some quotes below. I’d eventually like to think more about and respond to these quotes. Not tonight.


Discussion paper

part 1


“To make revolution, large forces need to be united around programs and common visions for an alternative future — and they need to be materialist plans that have an actual hope of achieving liberation. This world calls out for fearless actions, and the disciplined sacrifice to carry them out. Urgently. Always urgently. Answers will be needed in the midst of major social conjunctures. Lines of demarcation will need to be drawn at each point along the way.
And yet, there it is: At this moment, it is not clear what revolution in the U.S. would look like, or how determined revolutionaries can help advance the conditions for revolution. And there is, at this moment, no existing revolutionary organization with prospects of developing significant roots among oppressed people and their potential allies. These two absences — of revolutionary strategy and organization in the U.S. — have existed for a long time”
“We are not just “revolutionary socialists” seeking some welfare state by militant means.”
“In the 1960s, the world was wracked with revolution and huge upsurges of the people. New communists and revolutionaries were emerging in large numbers — certainly in the hundreds of thousands. And the times demanded immediate engagement. Young communists rushed off to political battlefronts (as they themselves said at the time) “like peasants going to war.” They grabbed up whatever theory and politics was lying around — like a village of peasants might grab their pitchforks or flails or axes — and waded into the fray. (…) One way to understand the Kasama Project is to sketch two other alternatives: * We could rush off again, like peasants to war, disperse ourselves deeply among the people and “just do it” — wielding the political understandings we have at this moment, take up urgent struggles and expect to develop new strategy and theory from that process. * Or we could rush to encapsulate ourselves as a new little political sect — carve quick lines of demarcation, proclaim strategy and theory based on the political understandings we have at the moment, and rush out to proclaim it to the world.”

“conscious revolutionary forces need to come together, engage each other, develop common understandings, and (through inevitable struggle and demarcation) form organizational forms of common revolutionary work.
Part of the assumption here is that the forms of regroupment (and communist organization generally) are themselves problematized. (Problematize means to treat a subject as a problem for solution, not as a settled question.)
In other words, how we regroup, how and when we form more highly disciplined organizations or parties, is part of what we are working to creatively uncover.
There is no given, universal formula for how to form revolutionary organization that we simply need to uncover and apply. Form follows function, not form follows formula.
Every real revolution has (inevitably) had different forms of revolutionary organization for all different stages of their process (initiation, revolutionary preparation, revolutionary collisions leading the people, seizure of power, creation of new forms of power, new eruptions of continuing revolution).
This discussion of revolutionary organization is one example of the reasons we have conceived of Kasama as a communist project defined in many ways by questions — not by a pre-existing, elaborate set of answers.
There is a contradiction here: On one hand we have an initial basis of unity. There are things we know and believe. But, at the same time: There are things that we don’t yet know. There are things we believe as individuals, but that are not yet our “common property” as a new political trend. And, there are things that each of us currently believe that we will discover are, in fact, wrong.
We are envisioning a process of creative transformation from which all of us, and our Project, emerges changed. And we intend to train ourselves to listen and think critically — as a precondition for creation.”
“Our conception is to form a communist project that does not rush, prematurely, to mark lines of demarcation or to prematurely establish rigid structures. Instead the idea has been to initiate both practice and theoretical work with an aim of discovering and inventing a new revolutionary road for the U.S.
This assumes that the process of building a new revolutionary movement will have stages — and that our current Kasama Project has specific characteristics that flow from this early stage.
At this point, given the two absences, the process of reconception has a defining impact on how we are currently regrouping. (…) The demands of the process of reconception (its investigation, debate, creations and initial demarcations) is shaping how we are regrouping.
There will be other stages, where other aspects come to the fore and define our work and structure: Without making assumptions now about those stages, we can foresee, for example, that there will be future moments where we help transform crisis into revolution, and where the revolution demands hardened forms of organization capable of acting and leading in great storms. And then where the organization of communists participates in the creation of new power relations within a new society.
But this current moment of “reconception and regroupment” has its particularities: distinctive forms of organization that serve its function, standards of membership and engagement that are different than they will probably be later.
part 2
“Kasama has been formed out of an impatience to develop real roots for the revolutionary movement among the people. We need (as the 9 letters said) a culture of organizing. Reconception is not a call for some new encapsulated bubble. We need to develop communist practical work, now, among the people. (…) We should look again a forms of developing contact, politicization and alternative institutions among the people — and think afresh about ways such activities can contribute to revolutionary movement. Quick, knee-jerk dismissal runs against what we need to be doing. It runs against the need to do deep investigation It runs against the need for a new generation of revolutionaries to learn from their own experience (as well as from summations of previous experience). The Kasama Project will pursue a relatively small number of specific work areas. But we also need to leave the door open for local and personal projects, for experimentation, for new ideas, for welcoming people with other priorities — and for learning from a wide range of radical efforts.”

“There is a well-worn path that we need to avoid (and it won’t be easy). Here is the method: You gather like-minded people. You document the things you already agree on. You adopt your agreements as a basis of unity. And your new grouping rushes out into the world to proclaim your politics and put them into practice. Drawing lines of demarcation is key — and that is done on the basis of the politics you walked in with.”

“we have united around our end goal, a radically changed and liberated world without exploitation or oppression. Meanwhile, we are engaged in a creative struggle to define the means and strategies for getting there. For three years we have tried to make a contribution toward creating a new revolutionary movement in the U.S., and a new communist pole within it. We think that means breaking with a lot of past thinking and activity. We have pointed to two things that are missing: At this moment in the U.S., communists don’t have a core organization to unite our work, and we don’t have a creative strategy for fusing revolutionary politics with the people who rise in struggle. (…) we are trying to develop a common language for revolutionaries who are, often, coming from very different places and experiences
how communists today should do mass work, where they should dig in, with what strategy, and for what political goal (…) we do not think this is already worked out.”

Some on the left “the main need (in this moment) is agitating a bigger movement into being, and that the main way of doing that is for activists to meet more people at the level of “issues” they already understand. ‘Just Do it’ then becomes a form of generic, routine and often reformist form of activism presented as the main (in fact often the only) task of revolutionaries.
To the contrary, Kasama believes that two absences (an absence of communist organization and an absence of revolutionary strategy) mean that there are specific tasks and contradictions facing revolutionaries in a country like the US. In other words, we contend that our tasks and goals in this period don’t simply boil down to simply getting out among the people and becoming the best fighters in various existing (or even non-existing) struggles.
To the contrary, Kasama believes that there needs to be built a culture of organizing that is wedded to a new conception of revolutionary politics. To create that, we want to combine select projects of mass work with a long-term effort at communist reconception. This means that rather than rushing forward we are also stepping back, learning from previous attempts at communist practice, while at the same time trying to draw in diverse forces to jointly consider future moves. In particular, we are working to develop new communist cores of revolutionaries, new communist strategy, and at the same time orienting ourselves to seek out fault lines of struggle upon which revolutionaries can fuse with the advanced among the people.
Our mass work, then, must be seen not as separate from theoretical reconception; rather it needs to emerge from and be integrated into a plan for preparing an actual revolutionary movement, including forms of openly communist work (something that so much of the left has abandoned in favor of hiding one’s politics from the people in order to “build the social movements”).”

Kasama rejects “an approach to theory that would really amount to a quick negotiating between positions among current cadre over the ideas they walked in the door with. (…) Reconception is not a simple surveying of whoever is in the room, and then rushing to a quick position based upon that. We in Kasama do not see ourselves as coming to quick facile verdicts upon which we can use to impose our new line on the people. We see ourselves as making contributions to a larger process of reconception centered within a new generation of revolutionaries.”