As I have argued and asserted for a long time, Ajith is one of the important thinkers of the modern Maoist movement. His Against Avakianism, though it is largely concerned with the deviation of Avakian’s “New Synthesis”, uses this debate within the ICM to establish significant principles just as Engels’ Anti-Duhring established similar principals against Eugen Duhring who is now a nobody. Just as we don’t read Anti-Duhring to learn about the thoughts of Eugen Duhring, we shouldn’t read Against Avakianism as a historiography of Bob Avakian’s thought: it is what is established against this deviation that matters. This is not to say that Against Avakianism has the same theoretical status as Anti-Duhring; the analogy, here, is meant to indicate that it possesses the same function––it theoretically “spills” beyond its polemical target.
Indeed, within Against Avakianism we discover multiple aspects of MLM worked out and grasped scientifically, so as to be asserted against Avakian’s supposed “New Synthesis”. The book concludes, after all, with the insight many criticisms of the “New Synthesis” have made––that “Avakianism is neither new nor in any way a synthesis” (176)––but has grounded this insight in a demonstration about what makes Maoism the current stage of revolutionary communism and why claims about successive stages cannot be made prematurely. Hence, Against Avakianism functions, in its own words, “to put stress on Maoism in order to sharpen the struggle against revisionism and all other alien thinking.” (Ibid.) Such a stress is the book’s main focus, and a lot of ground regarding dialectics, revolutionary science, and categories of dialectics and science is covered in the process.
Rereading Against Avakianism now, years after the line struggle against Avakian’s “New Synthesis” was first waged, brings home my contention that Ajith is one of the important thinkers of modern Maoism. There is so much in this book that I synthesized into my own thought that was foundational to Continuity and Rupture. While it indeed the case that I cited Ajith in that book, I did not cite him as much as I could have. Largely because I had synthesized his insights with other Maoist theory I was reading at the time, and thus to my own thought and my own organizational experiences, there was much in that book that was directly influenced by Against Avakianism but I didn’t consciously realize it at the time because it had become assimilated to an understanding developed through multiple sources. Actually, we can go back a bit earlier to The Communist Necessity, completed and published just a year after Against Avakianism first appeared, and Ajith’s fingerprints are all over that book as well. “The possibility of humanity becoming extinct through the same contradictions that make communism possible is real,” Ajith writes: “Capital’s endless drive for self-expansion that lies at the root of these contradictions could very well lead to an environmental catastrophe making human life impossible.” (153) But he asserts this possibility while still asserting that this does not change the fact that communism is historically necessitated––precisely the point of The Communist Necessity. I really wish this influence hadn’t been pushed into my unconscious and I was consciously aware of it when I wrote that book so I could have properly cited my influences. As a side point, this is a perfect example of how, despite our best attempts at indicating our influences, we often forget some of the influences on our thought. We are not unique, all of our thinking is derived from what we study, and if we study a lot then some influences might be temporarily forgotten.