Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM. In addition to excerpts already posted on revcom.us, we will be running further excerpts from time to time on both revcom.us and in Revolution newspaper. These excerpts should serve as encouragement and inspiration for people to get into the work as a whole, which is available as a book from Insight Press. A prepublication copy is available on line at revcom.us.
This excerpt comes from the section titled "II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism: A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation."
This principle of “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core” applies not only to the state apparatus (the police, the military, the executive, etc.) but to the government overall: with regard to all government institutions, there is both the solid core, as characterized here, and there is the elasticity on the basis of the solid core. As the Ardea Skybreak Interview puts it, it is not the case that this is just a big mush, where the elasticity is not based on the solid core and it goes all over the place. At the same time, once again, it is not all solid core, in the sense that whatever the party decrees will be what happens. As an illustration of this, let’s look at how elections are envisioned in this Constitution. I don’t know how much people have paid attention to this, but a tremendous amount of thought and work went into the exact, the very precise, percentages for voting that are in the beginning of the Constitution where it’s talking about the legislature on the national level. What was the guiding thinking and what are the guiding principles here? Why does it say, in relation to the proportions of the election process, 20% instead of 60%, or something else? Why were those specific percentages chosen, in talking about the way the national legislature would be elected? The guiding principle—and this is another example of solid core and elasticity on the basis of the solid core, and another example of the principle that’s sometimes stated as being willing to go to the brink of being drawn and quartered (to the brink of being pulled apart in all directions), even under socialism, and even as you’re struggling to take things continually on the communist road—the guiding principle is that these percentages for voting are set up so that if the overwhelming majority of people in the society turned against everything that we were trying to do, they could actually vote to reverse it all. If you examine what’s there—and I would be willing to bet that not that many people have approached it this way and really looked at it in this way, but if you examine what’s actually there, it’s set up so that, if a very large majority of the people decided they didn’t want this system any more, they could actually vote it out. But, on the other hand, it would take a lot of people feeling that way.
Why is that done? Just so the petite bourgeoisie would be neutralized, and stop complaining all the time? No. Given that it would take such a large majority to overturn this (to vote out this socialist system), it clearly operates on the basis of the solid core of what this is all about; at the same time, it’s also presenting necessity and a challenge to the vanguard—which does represent the solid core in an overall sense, although not just in some organizational sense—it’s presenting a challenge to the vanguard by having it set up this way, so that the vanguard can’t just act like, “Well, we’re in power now, we can do whatever we want, and who cares how we do it and what the masses of people think about it.” No, you’ve actually got to go out and work among the masses and continually win them to this. All this is finely calibrated, in how things are constructed in this Constitution, as an expression and a means of handling that contradiction in that way, so that the solid core is maintained, but you’re actually willing to go to the brink of being drawn and quartered, particularly if you take a wrong turn, and large numbers of people in society are dissatisfied with you.
And don’t think that couldn’t happen—even with the people who suffered terribly under the old society. It happens now. Again, I go back to things like what’s been happening in Baltimore: people rose up heroically, and now what’s going on? The authorities are using the fact that the masses are going at each other, in order to buttress the idea that the police have to use their brutal power to keep order and keep down all the craziness that they blame the masses for getting caught up in. This reminds me of things I’m familiar with from back in the day in Chicago, where I used to live in the 1970s. There was a phenomenon involving some of the big real estate interests in the Chicago area (of the kind that Obama became all tied in with a little later, but here I’m thinking back to the period of the 1970s, before Obama came along), and when these big real estate interests wanted to “turn a neighborhood” that had been mainly white, and they wanted to get people to flee the neighborhood so they could buy up the houses cheaply and then resell them at a big profit, these real estate interests would work with the police. They had a whole unit within the Chicago police that was responsible for dealing with the gangs—and that had infiltrated the gangs—and they would put out the word through their contacts: If you go over into this neighborhood and create mayhem and havoc, we won’t do anything about it. Well, pretty soon, even the white people who weren’t coming from such a bad place would get up and leave, sell their property cheaply, because the neighborhood became intolerable; and then Black people were allowed, even encouraged, to buy those homes, but they would be charged a price much higher than what the houses had just sold for. So the real estate interests made a real killing in that way. And there’s the thing where the police take people from one gang, or one set, and if they want to get some shit going, they arrest them, or pick them up, and then dump them off in the neighborhood of another gang or another set—and the shit flies. And then, after awhile, it’s got its own momentum, the police don’t even have to do anything. Well, this is the kind of thing the police still do, not just in places like Chicago but more generally—and they do it especially when the masses rise up.
So, there’s all this complexity that you have to deal with, when you’re working to build a movement for revolution. And the same kind of thing happens when you have actually made the breakthrough and established a socialist state and you’re on the road of building socialism and moving toward communism. There are forces who are not going to like what you’re doing. So what are they going to do? They’re going to try to sabotage your economy. They’re going to try to turn the people against each other, as well as turning them against the socialist state. They may not come out openly and say, “Restore capitalism,” when that’s not popular. But if they can mess things up and create enough chaos, then some people will say, “Well, maybe we do need the old system back, because at least then we had order, at least then things functioned.” Again, this kind of thing happens now when people rise up in struggle. And then pretty soon the masses say: “Goddamn, I guess we do need the police, because somebody’s gotta keep order here.” We have to deal with that contradiction, by the way. That’s our responsibility. If they’re stirring up this shit, or just on their own the masses are getting caught up in this shit, transforming that situation in a positive direction is our responsibility. We can’t be the police among the people—and we certainly can’t act like the police of this oppressive bourgeois state—but that’s our responsibility, to transform that situation and, through a tremendous amount of struggle, get the masses of people on the road they need to be on. We’re never gonna make a revolution if we don’t take responsibility for all of this, including dealing with the needs of the masses in this kind of situation. If we don’t, then the masses are gonna be pulled toward accepting the idea that, “Maybe we do need the police back in here, much as they’ve messed us over and brutalized us and killed us, because things are just too crazy without this.” If we don’t deal with this, then, even when they rise up, the masses are gonna get caught up, once again, in the oppressive order of the system that exists. Now, clearly, this is not easy, and I’m not saying it’s easy—it’s very difficult. But we have to apply ourselves and do the work to figure out how to handle these contradictions, even now, because we can’t let the system come back at the masses in this way. They come back in all kinds of ways—they come back with overt brutal repression, but they also come back with ways they get the masses turned against each other and starting to doubt themselves: “Maybe we were better off with the police doing this shit, maybe they do have to do this shit they do.” Well, transforming that situation is our responsibility.
Imagine, if you get to socialist society—you will have the same kind of contradictions: people trying to sabotage and undermine your economy, and turning the masses against each other. You will have forces out there that are antagonistic to what you’re doing—remaining imperialists and other reactionaries in the world, and inside the country itself—and they can be very adept at finding ways to turn the people against you by creating hardships for the people. So then people say, “Look, I like you revolutionaries, but goddamn, at least we could do something to get something to eat in the old society; now you guys, your economy’s completely broken down. I’m sorry, but we gotta get you out of there and get somebody in who will at least get us something to eat and a roof over our heads.” And, by the way, if there is a socialist revolution, as I’ve pointed out before, we are responsible then for the needs of the people. I don’t mean like social workers, but we are responsible, the vanguard is responsible, for leading the society to meet the needs of the people. And there are lots of forces who will work to turn the people against you on the basis that you are not meeting the people’s needs.
Introduction and Orientation
Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit
Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science
Materialism vs. Idealism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights
Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation
The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—
Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity
Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution
One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Part IV. The Leadership We Need
The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion
Selected List of Works Cited
About the Author