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Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM. In addition to excerpts already posted on, we will be running further excerpts from time to time on both 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. An updated pre-publication PDF of this major work—now including the appendices—is available here.

This excerpt comes from the section titled "IV. The Leadership We Need."

A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That

I want to focus now on a point that is emphasized in the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, and it’s something that needs to be repeatedly emphasized: In fundamental terms, the relation between the Party and the ruling class of this society and its state—which, after all, despite its outward trappings of democracy, is in essence and in fact a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, with everything that means—this relationship is, after all, an antagonistic relation. Let’s get into what that means and the implications of it. Whatever the particular status is, at any given time, of that relation, and whatever the outward appearances of that are—in other words, whether the powers-that-be are fully going after the Party, or apparently ignoring it, or infiltrating it on a certain level but to appearances not doing more—whatever the particular expression of that relationship is or appears to be at a given time, it is always an antagonistic relation, which means it is one in which, ultimately, one side has to destroy the other. That’s what it means when it’s antagonistic. It doesn’t mean this will fully come to a head immediately—and, again, we’re not setting out right now to overthrow the system and go for the seizure of power—but that doesn’t change the fact that this relationship is, fundamentally and in its essence, antagonistic all the time.

The Ardea Skybreak Interview goes on to point out that there are, among the representatives and functionaries of this ruling class and its state, those who recognize and take seriously the threat posed to this system, even potentially, by an actual vanguard party and its leadership, and especially outstanding leaders when they emerge. Here it’s worth thinking about a comment by Donald Rumsfeld, who was the Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush when they invaded Iraq. (By the way, I just have to say, as a matter of method: I never really agreed with the criticism of Donald Rumsfeld’s statement about “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns,” which he made during the Iraq war. When asked, at a certain point about the situation there, he said, there are some things we just don’t know, and he added: “There are known unknowns.... But there are also unknown unknowns.” Many people ridiculed him for that statement. But I thought he had a point, methodologically. There are things that you know that you don’t know, and then there are things you don’t even know about that you may not know. He was correct about that. So, even though it’s Donald Rumsfeld, you have to be scientific.) But, to get back to the more important point here: Rumsfeld was asked, why are you going after these Islamic fundamentalists with such a vengeance? In response, he made an analogy which we should think about seriously. It demonstrates that there are some people in the ruling class who think strategically. His analogy was this: Back when Lenin wrote that little pamphlet What Is To Be Done? in the early 1900s, if we had known everything that would lead to, we would have crushed it right then.

So this is something to think about. You have people in the ruling class who think about things in that kind of way, and they don’t always wait until things pose an immediate threat to them before they pay attention to them and recognize the potential threat. Maybe not all the representatives of the ruling class approach things that way, but there are representatives who pay attention to these things and call the attention of others to it. And the question sharply poses itself: To what degree is this understanding clearly and firmly grasped among the ranks of the Party and the movement for revolution—and to what degree are the standards of this Party and this movement an expression of a correct understanding of this fundamentally antagonistic relation—or to what degree are the standards an expression of something else?

Now, besides the Ardea Skybreak Interview, there was an important article that I’m sure you’re familiar with—the article about watching the movie Fruitvale Station with BA.65 There were two basic points made in that Fruitvale Station article. One of them more or less corresponds to the point in the Skybreak Interview about the rare combination represented by BA: someone who is highly developed theoretically and has brought forward very advanced theory, and at the same time has a deep understanding of and a deep identification with the masses of the oppressed. That was one of the points—that was the first point—that this Fruitvale Station article was making. It wasn’t just “Look how sensitive BA is, he isn’t the stereotype of a cold, machine-like communist”—that was a point, but the essential point was the same point that’s in that section of the Ardea Skybreak Interview about the rare combination. And then, flowing from that, was the point that was explicitly emphasized in that Fruitvale Station article: We had better recognize what this means, what we have here, and do everything we can to prevent the other side from taking it away from the masses of people. And the question, again, poses itself: How much, in reading the Ardea Skybreak Interview, did people really pause on this section that I’m referring to, speaking to this antagonistic relationship, and how much did it make them think of what was emphasized in that Fruitvale Station article? These are questions people should think about and grapple with.

65. “Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian,” Revolution #349, August 24, 2014. Available at [back]



Publisher's Note

Introduction and Orientation

Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit

Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science

Materialism vs. Idealism
Dialectical Materialism
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—Revolutionary Defeatism
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Fundamental Orientation

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”

Appendix 1:
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian

Appendix 2:
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion


Selected List of Works Cited

About the Author