By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP,USA
Revolutionary Worker, No. 1113, August 5, 2001 posted at http://rwor.org
In order to make revolution, in order to transform the world in accordance with the interests of the proletariat and the needs of the masses of people, we have to base ourselves on a scientific grappling with reality, in a systematic and all-around way--we have to confront reality as it actually is, and then transform reality in accordance with the way it can actually be transformed.
To see from another angle the importance of this scientific method--of historical materialism and MLM in general--letís take another famous statement by Marx: Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and the culture conditioned by that economic structure.
What the fuck does that mean? Well, letís take an example I gave in the "Democracy" book Democracy: Canít We Do Better Than That?: the right to put an end to starvation. People all over the world--millions and billions of human beings, who are starving--do not have the right to put an end to starvation, under this imperialist system; and people in the imperialist countries themselves who are outraged by this mass starvation and feel very strongly that it should be and could be ended--they also do not have the "right" to put an end to this starvation, under this imperialist system.
Why do they not have that "right"? Because IT CANNOT BE DONE UNDER THIS SYSTEM, by its very nature, because of the structure and way of functioning of this capitalist-imperialist economy and the whole system you cannot put an end to starvation no matter how outraged you might be by it or how much you might suffer from it.
In the same way, the communist principle "from each according to their ability to each according to their need"--where everyone contributes to society according to their ability and gets back from society according to their need--this basic principle cannot be implemented under the capitalist-imperialist system, obviously.
In fact, it cannot be implemented fully until the economic structure of society, and the social relations and ideas that accompany that economic structure, have been radically transformed to eliminate and move beyond a system of production and accumulation in which one part of society, a small part, exploits the masses of people; until inequalities in society (such as that between people doing intellectual work and those doing manual work) have been eliminated; and until we have overcome and moved beyond the necessity and basis for goods and services to be produced and exchanged as commodities, as things to be exchanged through money--until there is no more need and basis for money itself.
And here you can think of a line from a song by Peter Tosh--"The Day the Dollar Dies": "The day the dollar dies, things are gonna be better; the day the dollar dies, wonít need no pockets." Think about that--why wonít you need any pockets? Thatís really a very deep statement. What does it mean? You wonít need any locks on anything either. All this "beep, beep, beep"--gadgets to lock your car door, alarms, and all these other devices--there wonít be any need for all that. Itís worth thinking about--why wonít we need all that? But, the point is, before the necessary revolutionary transformations have been carried out, the "right" for people as a whole, for the masses of people, not to be exploited, or not to be subjected to inequality, cannot be realized; only through the communist revolution, to transform "the economic structure" and the culture conditioned by it, can this actually become not only a "right" but the guiding principle and the "norm" in society as a whole, all over the world.
Now, if we are just going to go by what we would "like" to be true, then let me say that I would REALLY like it if we could overthrow imperialism and all its lackeys, and all the enforcers of oppression and exploitation, TOMORROW (I say "tomorrow," rather than today, only so that all of us who would love to be part of this would have just enough time to get prepared to join in)! THAT would make ME feel really good! Unfortunately, that does not conform to reality, no matter how "good" it might make any of us feel. And actually trying to do that would NOT lead to good results! But, fortunately, we are in the era of human history where this can be done, where reality can--and must--be transformed to uproot all exploitation and oppression, throughout the whole world, on the basis of applying MLM.
As another illustration of the importance of confronting reality as it really is--AND of the fact that only with the outlook and method of the revolutionary proletariat can this be fully done--just look at the utter and complete bankruptcy of this system that has to have, as prominent representatives of its ruling class, people and forces who refuse to accept reality--who have to deny and attack some of the most fundamental truths about reality, about nature and society.
Here Iím talking about fools like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and the rest of them. These people canít even accept evolution, which is not just an abstract theory but a scientifically established and verified fact. In order to try to implement their program, they have to attack one of the most fundamental truths about nature and society and how things, including people, have developed and are continuing to develop. What a bankrupt bunch of people! And whatís going to come next? That the earth is, after all, the center of the universe? Or that it is, after all, flat? Or that all these ruins and remains from thousands and millions of years ago are not really real? Well theyíre already saying that.
Theyíve already got--what the fuck is it called--"the Young Earth Society" (or some shit like that) where they argue that not only is evolution not true but all the evidence of archaeology and geology that shows that human society has been around for tens of thousands of years, that the earliest direct ancestors of human beings existed several million years ago, and that the earth is billions of years old--thatís all wrong too because the Bible says that the world, that all of "creation," was only brought into being, by the act of "god," less than 7,000 years ago. And if youíre going to do a literal interpretation of the Bible you not only canít allow for evolution, you canít even allow for how mountains were formed, how certain seas were formed and then dried up, how glaciers moved forward and then receded...you canít allow for any of that.
And by the way let me say this: if youíre going to be religious, if youíre going to adhere to the doctrine of a religion, you should, logically, go by a literal interpretation of the scriptures of that religion. If youíre going to believe in that religion--and by definition religion means something that is divinely inspired--youíre not free to go around "picking and choosing" what you will believe, and what you will not believe, from the Supreme Being (or the divinity or divinities) of that religion. If you believe in an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful Supreme Being, and if your basis for believing in that Supreme Being lies in the scriptures (and mythology) of the religion that worships that Supreme Being, then logically you should believe in everything that the scripture of that religion says. Thatís the bind that a lot of religious people find themselves in, or at least those who are somewhat enlightened but still cling to religious ideas: they cannot accept a lot of this shit, but theyíre stuck because they want to believe in an all-knowing Supreme Being, and the scriptures of any given religion are supposed to be the divinely inspired word of this or that God or Allah or whatever.
Thatís what these Christian Fascists are about--theyíre trying to resolve this contradiction in a very simple-minded way, in a very clearly reactionary way, by just saying, "Itís all literally true--every word in the Bible is true--and if the facts contradict the Bible, then the facts are wrong!" Thatís why evolution is wrong, thatís why archaeology is wrong--thatís why reality is wrong. Thatís their "logic."
Imagine if these people actually came to be the predominant forces in the ruling class, if they came to fully dominate in society--if the bourgeois moved in the direction of fully adopting their outlook and program!! Imagine if you went to see some sort of "natural wonder": where they now have these signs explaining the geological processes that shaped these things, over millions and millions of years, it would have to say instead: "And God created the heavens and the earth and everything on the earth, just as it is today." Theyíd have to replace all actual scientific explanations with something like that. This is the kind of people weíre dealing with!
But the profound point is why are they doing this? Because they cannot put forward their program without denying reality on this fundamental a level and theyíre going to go farther and farther with this because thereís a logic to it--a thoroughly reactionary logic.
Now letís contrast that reactionary shit of theirs with the future that we are fighting for and represent. Letís look to the future--letís go ahead, say, 300 years--just pick a figure like that. Instead of their signs "and God created the heaven and the earth, blah, blah, blah," what would there be?
As an example, letís take this beautiful place Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite National Park. Letís take a person from today and letís "transport them to the future"--the future society. So, all of a sudden, theyíre plopped down among some other people in this future society, looking at these beautiful falls, and they say: "Isnít this beautiful, this Bridal Veil Falls?" And the people from the future would look at them and say: "What the fuck are you talking about? Bridal Veil?"
"What the fuck is a bridal veil? And for that matter what the fuck is a bride?" Think about it--all this bridal veil shit and everything is all part of this notion of women as property--it is reflection of social relations that essentially, if not literally, treat women as the property of men. You cover them, theyíre "protected property"--theyíre under the domination of their father who keeps them virginal and pure--all this virginal bullshit, you know, the Virgin Mary, the Virgen de Guadalupe, all this stuff--itís all part of a system of thought and a system of social relations in which women are treated as property--theyíre kept under the protection of their father who what?...who gives them away at the wedding ceremony to the man who now takes them over and has them as his property--the husband. And in many societies and cultures, still today, thereís a whole system of control, with the mother-in-law playing a key role as an enforcer of the husbandís will, and everything else.
But if we transport our person from today to the future--there wonít be no "Bridal Veil Falls"! There will be a whole different name for it--itís not going to be no "bridal veil"! Thatíll be out. Thatíll be gone--bridal veils and brides in the sense that they exist now--as a kind of social institution representing the patriarchal family and all that--that will be gone! Thatís the future that weíre fighting for, and that will be brought into being--none of this shit about "and god created the patriarchy" and so on and so forth.
What a contrast--between what these reactionaries represent and seek to impose on people, and the future, the liberating future that we represent and are fighting for. Again, it is a sign of the utter bankruptcy, the complete worthlessness and the thoroughly outdated nature of this system that it has to promote forces like this and treat as legitimate these forces who canít even accept reality--who are forced to deny some of the most basic truths about reality, such as evolution. Even the New York Times--the "high-brow" paper of the bourgeoisie--theyíll treat as legitimate these views and the people who aggressively put them forward; the New York Times and the rest will include these forces as part of reasonable discussion and debate--"creationism," thatís a legitimate idea contending "in the market place of ideas"--even though the publishers and editors of the New York Times would almost certainly tell you privately that "creationism" and the rest of this religious obscurantism is nonsense.
But think about a system that has to bring forward representatives who fight for this, that has to treat this as legitimate and encourage ridiculous notions and superstitions like this and ignorance of how the universe works, of what reality is.
Never mind all their gloating and boasting about how their system has triumphed over all others, and particularly over communism--how their system represents the best of all possible worlds and the only possible way. Here this is supposed to be such a "modern" society, and they never tire of talking about the "high-tech world" they claim to have created. Yet this is a ruling class whose system stands as such a profound obstacle to the advance of humanity, that they are afraid for the masses of people to understand fundamental things about reality, even about basic things in nature, such as evolution.
Oh yes, they make use of advanced scientific discovery and technology in pursuit of profit and to build up their machinery of death and destruction to enforce their rule, but at the same time they still have to promote religious obscurantism--the clouding and shrouding of reality in ignorance and blindness. Here they have command of all this highly developed technology--which, regardless of what they say, is the product of the combined and collective efforts, physical and intellectual, of humanity as a whole, over thousands of years and throughout the world.
(As Marx put it: capitalism embodies and enforces "the domination of dead labor over living labor." By "dead labor" he means the things that have previously been produced by human labor--all the machinery that is used in all the different branches of production, and so on. In other words, in the hands of the capitalists the machinery and in general the technology that is produced, through the mental and manual labor of the masses of humanity, becomes a weapon to enslave and drive the present generation of living laborers who must work on this machinery and technology--and have it "work" on them.)
So here are these capitalist-imperialists with command over all this highly developed technology--and look at the backward and reactionary ideas they promote and the social relations those ideas serve and reinforce. This is a declaration on their part, in reality, of the bankruptcy and outmoded character of their system and the fact that it belongs in the garbage dump of history.
This is a ruling class that, from the standpoint of humanityís historical development, has already forfeited the right to rule. It is a ruling class, and a system, that must and will COME DOWN--be overthrown and swept aside so that the productive forces of humanity, and most of all the people and their knowledge and ability, can be liberated and unleashed.
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