PLEASE NOTE: This text is included in the new J. Sakai compilation The Shape of Things to Come, along with many others.
Plain talk with J. Sakai about what we do and don't know about revolutionary organization, and, indeed, about being revolutionaries. Sakai explains:
Beginners Kata was born when i was once wondering how deliciously freeing it might feel to just farking say what i was really thinking inside, good or bad, in political writing, instead of filtering everything every single time. To not be so tactical or correct or maybe even tactful. Don't deny it, we've all had that thought, more than once. Then that stray brain wave got electrocuted by another realization that while we each think polychromatically in simultaneous different subcultures or points of view, mostly this is self-censored from the surface. Almost without pausing, i started scribbling what were the first lines of Kata. Letting out one way that i think of real life politics but almost never say. That was in late 2008, i think.
To me this was just a "thought exercise", some draft notes maybe only to self. That wasn't that important and quite possibly would never be finished. Over the years i took it down from the shelf and scribbled and marked over it, when the inspiration hit. Showed it to a few comrades if conversation brought it up. But for months and years it was shelved for longer and longer periods, never being done.
The main reason is that something else happened. It was supposed to be in two parts. This was the first part. The second part was to demonstrate some of these ideas by using detailed examples of several 1960s-70s u.s. revolutionary organizations. Unfortunately, the more i thought about those groups, the more it felt that without better explaining the lumpen/proletariat it wouldn't work. Eventually, my mind started digging at the accumulated questions piled up on the lumpen politically. So Kata became a valuable forerunner exercise, helping me write in a somewhat different way, and pointing me towards doing a new work, today's book, The "Dangerous Class" and Revolutionary Theory.
When i visited my editor early last summer as the "Dangerous Class" manuscript was being finished, he asked if i had ever written other things in the style of that old Kata? Had to admit that i'd forgotten all about it, and didn't even have a copy of the draft anymore (and my old laptop had fried). Luckily, he had saved the dusty old printout that i'd long ago snailmailed him. Took a photocopy home with me, and started thinking about it from time to time. The projected Part 2 wasn't going to happen in the near future, i could see, but decided to finish the draft that was started. Long story for such a short paper.