Celebrate the Legacy of Comrade Zia

The PCR-RCP sends its condolences to the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan [CmPA] regarding the death of Comrade Zia, one of the principle architects of the Maoist movement in Afghanistan and the international promulgation of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. His passing is significant for us because of our bilateral relationship with the CmPA and the ways in which our Afghanistan comrades sought to include us in the old RIM and then its reconstruction. When we founded ourselves as a party in the early 2000s the CmPA sent international observers to that Congress and, since then, we have continued to have a fruitful relationship. Zia’s death is similar to losing a party member due to this long relationship.

One of the problems with understanding the revolutionary movement in Afghanistan is due to the fact that the combination of imperialist occupation and the CmPA’s lack of significant representation in the English-speaking world has resulted in its near eclipse by the Anglo apprehension of the War on Terror. Those who have travelled to Afghanistan, however, and have met with the comrades there, cannot help but realize how significant the Maoist movement is, how much larger it is than the Maoist movements in the imperialist metropoles, and how much it has to teach us. But also how humble it is, how Zia worked to foster a rejection of bourgeois arrogance that is often imported into the movement, and how we can learn much from this style of work.

Under Comrade Zia, the CmPA was not only one of the first communist organizations to recognize that Maoism was the third and highest stage of revolutionary communism, it was also the first to formally recognize and openly attack the deviation of the RCP-USA’s “new synthesis” that was spreading confusion amongst the international communist movement, particularly with the Iranians at that time. Thus, the first salvo fired against the Avakianite poison was the CmPA’s critique of the Iranians’ adoption of Bob Avakian’s “new synthesis”, claiming that it was the “lost road” of post-Maoism. While the RCP-USA might now seem marginal in US politics (thus demonstrating the poverty of its “new synthesis”) at the time it had played a large role in the RIM, and was also largely responsible for the RIM’s dissolution, so the CmPA’s intervention was initiated a significant settling of accounts.

Our international comrade’s refusal to play a leading role, to name himself as a significant theorist, and to largely produce theoretical work anonymously demonstrates the kind of Maoist sensibility we should all strive to replicate: the complete dissolution of individual valour within the collective. A life dedicated to serving the people, to not putting one’s own individual name forward, and a party that puts forth a political line rather than a name. It is only in his death that we realize his significance, and that he should be named, but even still we must remember that Zia himself lived his life as a cipher of this collective sensibility. That he saw his work in service to the broader revolution and disdained all forms of dogmatism and hero worship.

Considering that he spent a large part of his life struggling for the recognition of Maoism as the third and highest stage of revolutionary communism, and for the establishment of a Maoist international, we need to honour his contributions. He was present at the historic 1993 RIM meeting that drafted “Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!” Long before that, Zia and the comrades that would go on to found the CmPA were criticizing Deng’s counter-revolution in China before the RCP-USA and others did so, demonstrating that the RCP-USA was not (as it continuously likes to claim) the first organization in the world to critique the capitalist roaders. These and other contributions form a legacy that belongs to us all.

We must push forward what it means to understand MLM as the communism of the present conjuncture; we must struggle to establish the international he envisioned.