Question: How is it you as a "White man" can lead us to revolutionary victory?
The Chairman answers: As a "white man," I cannot do this, but AS A COMMUNIST, as the Chairman of the RCP, I have the duty and responsibility to give everything I have to do this. I do not think and act as a "white man" but as a proletarian internationalist--as a revolutionary who stands with the masses of exploited and oppressed people, of all races and nationalities, women and men, and who contributes all I can to their fight for liberation, worldwide. As the Chairman of the RCP, the responsibility I have accepted is to lead the Party to carry out its tasks and to fulfill its role in leading and charting the path of proletarian revolution in the U.S., as part of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement and the world revolution.
In fact, my actual position and role is Chairman of the Central Committee of the RCP: It is as part of the organized structure and collective functioning of the Party--and not as some "individual leader" standing outside or above the Party--that I have a leadership role and responsibility in the revolutionary struggle. Recently, our Party's Central Committee adopted Resolutions On Leaders and Leadership (which have been published in the RW No. 825, October 1, 1995).
"The Party exists for no other reason than to serve the masses of people, to enable them to make revolution and transform the world. And the masses of people themselves are really the roots and lifeblood of the Party. Without the masses the Party would be nothing.... Our Party is a collective organization, not just a collection of individuals. We decide things collectively and we act collectively. Our power resides in our collectivity--this enables us to correctly link with, unleash, and lead the initiative of the masses and give it its most powerful revolutionary expression in conformity with the fundamental interests of the masses. This collectivity is expressed and realized through the collective functioning of the units of the Party on the various levels, and through the Party's chain of knowledge and of command up and down throughout the Party.... The Party organization consists of various small groupings and units, each with its own leadership, which funnel into various higher leading bodies. The collectivity of the Party as a whole is most concentrated, and best represented, in our Central Committee.... Like all Party bodies, the Central Committee functions collectively. Composed of comrades of proven dedication to the masses and to the revolutionary cause, who are themselves well-grounded in the fundamental principles and basic methodology of MLM, the Central Committee collectively recognizes that individual leader who is best suited to lead the Central Committee itself, and through it the entire Party."
These Leadership Resolutions speak further to the relationship between revolutionary leaders and the masses of people:
"Real revolutionary leaders are brought forth, developed, nourished and sustained by the revolutionary people, and the revolutionary people must more fully understand that connection themselves. Revolutionary leaders are in a real sense the flower and fruit of the revolutionary people, who are themselves the roots and shoots of the revolution."
This is clearly illustrated in my own development as a revolutionary. As a youth, I was extremely fortunate to go to a high school (in Berkeley, California) which had a large number of Black students. Through school classes, sports, music, and in other ways, through long talks--and sometimes gut-wrenching struggles--about personal feelings as well as philosophical questions, I came to know and to form close and deep friendships with a number of Black people. Through these relationships and these friends a whole new world and new understanding was opened to me: I saw and was given a real education about great injustices in society--the systematic oppression of Black people, from the ruling institutions down to the everyday outrages--and the daily struggle to deal with all this. I saw, I felt, the pain and the rage of my friends when, over and over, white people, including teachers, administrators, and other "authority figures," treated them with contempt, treated them really as less than human and without human feelings, assumed that they were not capable of and should not be given the opportunity to do what white people routinely were allowed and encouraged to do. I witnessed the brutality and insults with which cops regularly treated Black people. I was inspired by the dignity and the daring with which my friends, and others, resisted all this, in a thousand ways, big and small. And this was a time when the civil rights movement was beginning to gain momentum, and Black youth in particular were more forcefully standing up, speaking out, and boldly acting against racism and white supremacy.
All this had a profound effect on me--in terms of my personal feelings and my political outlook. And, as the struggle of Black people developed into a more radical and militant movement for liberation, this had a great radicalizing effect on me. In this context, it was the people who formed the core of leadership of the Black Panther Party as it started in the San Francisco Bay Area--Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver--who struggled with me and won me to give up any remaining ideas I held about reforming the system and to get down with revolution.
So, in a very real way and to a large degree--both in terms of personal experience and in terms of larger developments in society--my political education and my development into a revolutionary activist was the product of the experience and the acquired wisdom of Black people, both conscious revolutionaries and "every- day people." At the same time, I had grown up in circumstances, coming from a white middle-class family, where I had been able to acquire a certain degree of formal education and intellectual training. Now, in basic terms, the "facts" and "history" I was taught in school were full of lies and distortions, and the way of thinking--the outlook and methodology--I was expected to adopt was essentially wrong and upside-down; but as I was radicalized in the ways I have described, I was determined to use any intellectual training I had acquired to find out the fundamental truth about society and history, and to use this to serve the revolutionary struggle that I had come to see as absolutely necessary.
It was this that led me to communism--as a theory and method to understand the world correctly and, above all, as Marx said, to change it: to make revolution. Of course, this did not happen all at once--my initial development into a communist and my further development as a communist is not, and could not be, a "one-time thing"--it is something that is ongoing. To be a communist is to continue making revolution, including in your ways of thinking as well as acting. It has been for me, as for everyone, a back-and-forth process of practice and theory, of doing and thinking, of fighting and learning.
Through this process I came to see that the oppression of Black people has always been and remains an essential part of the foundation and ongoing functioning of U.S. capitalism-imperialism--that white supremacy and racism is built into the very structure of this capitalist-imperialist society, on all levels--and that this oppression is part of an overall system of oppressive relations worldwide, with all their horrendous consequences: the brutality, degradation, and overall male supremacist domination to which women are subjected; the literal genocide committed against Native peoples, in the Americas and elsewhere; the slaughter of millions of people and massive destruction through imperialist wars of aggression, as in Vietnam and more recently the Persian Gulf; the heartless exploitation of child labor, in virtual slave conditions; the enforcement of conditions that keep hundreds of millions of people all over the world, including millions of children, in actual or near starvation and force millions of people to leave their homes and lands and travel hundreds or thousands of miles to countries like the U.S., only to be discriminated against and cruelly exploited; the killing of thousands and the maiming of millions of people every year in "work-related accidents" in the U.S. and other countries; and on, and on, and on, in a seemingly endless chain of horrors.
But I also learned that all this is rooted in the inner nature of the capitalist system, in the dynamics of capitalist accumulation, and that it can and will have an end--that oppression leads to resistance; that in resisting their oppression people begin to change their ways of thinking as well as acting; that with communist leadership such resistance can develop into a conscious revolutionary struggle, a proletarian revolution; and that through this world-historic revolution the capitalist-imperialist system will be overthrown throughout the world and a new, radically different system will be brought into being: a system based on the needs of the people, a world community of freely associating human beings, without distinctions of class or nation, without social inequality and antagonisms.
It is all this that has led me to devote my life and all my energy and whatever knowledge I acquire to the cause of communist revolution, to do everything I can to advance the communist movement, in the U.S. and worldwide. It is this that has led me to take on the responsibility of playing a leading role as part of the conscious and organized communist vanguard.
But it is important to emphasize again that my development as a communist and my role as a communist leader has always taken place in the context of, has always been a part and a product of, much more fundamental developments in society and the world, including most fundamentally the experiences and struggles of the proletarians and other oppressed people. As the Central Committee Resolutions on Leaders and Leadership point out:
"No one is born a revolutionary leader, and there is no one set formula for how people become revolutionary leaders. Each revolutionary leader is a complex mix of personal life experiences and broader social experience, particularly in the revolutionary movement, and revolutionary leaders can be of any race, nationality, either gender, and come from many different backgrounds. The same objective criteria for determining that an individual is particularly suited to the role and responsibilities of revolutionary leadership should apply to all: the essential thing is that they demonstrate the greatest ability to take up and apply the stand, viewpoint, and methodology of the international proletariat."
It is on this basis that I carry out my responsibility as the Chairman of the Central Committee of the RCP. It is by applying the principles of MLM--by relying on the collective strength of the Party and its links with the masses--that I can and will give leadership to the revolutionary struggle in the U.S. and contribute everything possible to revolutionary victory in the U.S. and worldwide.