Revolution #200, May 1, 2010

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

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Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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May 1, 2010... A Springboard

The Future Is Calling... The REVOLUTION Is Real.

The world as it is today is intolerable. More and more people understand that things cannot go on in this way, and that humanity needs a way out. But everywhere they turn they are offered false solutions.

There is only one real way to emancipate humanity: revolution, communist revolution. And there is a leadership that makes the prospect of this revolution real. But people don't know this.

You are reading this issue of Revolution at a moment when the world communist revolution stands at a crossroads. Over thirty years ago, after the death of Mao, a counter-revolutionary coup in revolutionary China killed and imprisoned thousands of revolutionary communists and restored capitalism. The oppressed and freedom-loving people of the world lost what had been a beacon, a base area, and an inspiration for the world revolution. Since that bitter defeat, the capitalist-imperialist class worldwide has conducted a relentless ideological and political assault against communism.

Today, the revolutionary communist movement, worldwide, faces the very real and sharply posed question of whether it will be a vanguard of the future, or residue of the past. Vanguard of the future is the only acceptable answer to that question. Putting revolution and communism back on the map—not just surviving, but contending as a real force, all over the planet: this must become the mission of this generation.

We have a plan

As a critical step in initiating a new stage of communist revolution, in July 2009 the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA launched an important campaign. The Message and Call of that campaign, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" is reprinted in this issue of Revolution (see centerspread).

The objectives of this campaign are three:

All this, in turn, is part of sparking, worldwide, a new stage of communist revolution... and preparing people now for the time when revolution could be made in the USA, the heartland of imperialism.

This campaign has been the focus and pivot of our Party's efforts over many months. In this issue of Revolution, you'll get a snapshot of what happens when radical light and air get into the atmosphere on campuses and in the inner cities. You will get a feel for what it means when this movement gets a toehold among some of the most brutally oppressed in this society—in the dungeons this system calls "Security Housing Units" in their inhumane prisons, and you will connect with a critical battle to overturn the ban on this newspaper at Pelican Bay State Prison in California and other prisons in this country.

You will get new insights into the crimes of this system, but more than that, how—IF WE HAD STATE POWER—WE COULD CREATE A RADICALLY DIFFERENT AND FAR BETTER WORLD.

There are many dimensions to this campaign, and in different, but connected ways, they reveal the hidden truth that things do not have to be this way, that a whole other way is possible. Society, actually, has not always been organized with oppressors and oppressed. Those divisions arose at a certain period in human history thousands of years ago. Today, we are at a stage of human development where there is NO MORE NEED for oppressors.

This campaign brings that to life. When people hear Sunsara Taylor speak on "From the Burkha to the Thong: Everything Must, and Can, Change—WE NEED TOTAL REVOLUTION," they not only hear a powerful exposure of how things are and what revolution could do to change them, they actually also experience an alternative morality based on liberation, not patriarchy. When people take initiative under revolutionary leadership to stand up to police brutality, illegal harassment, repression and murder, they foreshadow a completely different authority that protects the people and their rights. When people engage with Raymond Lotta's compellingly documented case that everything they have been told about communism is wrong, then things they have accepted as "just the way things are" no longer are found acceptable. When people read the special issue of Revolution on the environment emergency, they join a work-in-progress to figure out how a socialist economic system would make it possible to get beyond the "get-rich-quick" mode of capitalism, and for society to take a long-range view of restoring and preserving the environment. When people of all walks of life read letters from revolutionary prisoners in some of the worst torture chambers in U.S. prisons,  it gives people hope and begins to expose the lie that people treat each other in this society the way they do because of some supposedly unchangeable "human nature."

And when people get with Bob Avakian—when they spend real time watching his classic talk, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, ... or reading his memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond,... or getting into his other work—a whole new world of possibility opens out for them. When, together with others, they go back and forth with the Chairman's works, digging deeply, they begin to get hold of a scientific understanding and approach to reality that unlocks the doors of understanding. And another world really does become possible.

The glue that holds this all together, and the key to breaking through to the other side is bringing to life the real secret that is kept from people: THINGS HAVE NOT ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY, THEY DO NOT HAVE TO BE THIS WAY, AND THERE IS A WAY TO GET TO A WHOLE OTHER, AND MUCH BETTER WORLD.

We ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution. And that movement needs you.

This campaign needs to go to another level. The stakes are no less than whether or not there will be a real, liberating, and living alternative to the horrors of the capitalist system. We ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution. And that movement needs you.

If you are new to this, or you have been a part of it, there is a moment to seize, and a place for you. On the occasion of May 1, 2010, we call on people to mark this revolutionary holiday with the spirit and determination it must really symbolize. Study this issue of Revolution, especially the Message and Call. Take it to the projects, the workplaces, the schools, where people's lives go from bad to worse, where the police constantly hound the youth and the future is one of prison steel, where families are put on the street when they can't make rent, and where immigrants face vigilantes and state terror. Take it to the universities where intellectual discourse all too often is suffocated and critical thought needs to soar. Take it to scientists straining against the constraints of a system that cares nothing for truth—including the truth of impending environmental disaster—and sees scientists only as an immediate source for profit or better ways to wage imperialist wars. Take it to academics frustrated by the suffocation of intellectual ferment and curiosity. Take them this issue, tell them about this movement and the ways they can support and take part. Find the ways that people can be mobilized to "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution."

And go to revolutiontalk.net and start watching, and get others to watch Bob Avakian's video Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About.

Talk with us at Revolution Books in your area (see page 15), find us online at revcom.us, or email us at rcppubs@hotmail.com.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Revolutionary May Day 2010

Join actions around the country on Saturday, May 1:

New York

March and rally throughout the day in Washington Heights, Harlem and East Harlem/El Barrio! Meet 11 a.m. at 181st & St. Nicholas Avenue (#1 train to 181st Street) and midway gathering point 2:30-3:30 p.m. at 125th & Amsterdam Avenue (#1 or #A,B,C,D to 125th St.). March ends in El Barrio/East Harlem and an evening program (details to be announced).

Chicago

12:30 p.m.: Union Park, Washington & Ashland
4:30 p.m.: 55th and Damen on the median

Los Angeles

Join the Revolution contingent in the immigrant rights march in downtown L.A. at 2 hook-up spots:

After the march:

Berkeley

Rally points:
12 p.m.: Telegraph & Bancroft (Berkeley)
2 p.m.: 34th & International (Oakland)
4 p.m.: 71st & International (Oakland)
Celebration afterward TBA

Atlanta

9:30 a.m.: Meet at Revolution Books Outlet (4 Corners of the Earth Market, 1087 Euclid Ave. in Little 5 Points) to join the May Day team.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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The Revolution We Need...

The Leadership We Have


A Message, And A Call, From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

This Is NOT The Best of All Possible Worlds...

And We Do NOT Have to Live This Way

For posters, audio, and other materials, click here

"The land of the free, and the home of the brave." "The leader of the free world." That's what they always say about this country. But this is a Big Lie.

The truth is that we live under a system that, from the start in this country, built up its wealth and power by enslaving millions of Black people, stealing land from Indians and Mexicans through war and genocide, and working many people, including children, literally to death. It is by such murderous means that this system has expanded "from sea to shining sea" across this continent—and around the whole world.

It is a system of capitalism-imperialism...a system in which U.S. imperialism is the most monstrous, most oppressive superpower...a system driven by a relentless chase after profit, which brings horror upon horror, a nightmare seemingly without end, for the vast majority of humanity: poverty and squalor...torture and rape...the wholesale domination and degradation of women everywhere...wars, invasions and occupations...assassinations and massacres...planes, missiles, tanks and troops of the USA bombarding people in faraway lands while they sleep in their homes or go about their daily lives, blasting their little children to pieces, cutting down men and women in the prime of life, or in old age, kicking down their doors and dragging them away in the middle of the night...while here in the USA itself the police harass, brutalize and murder youth in the streets of the inner cities—over and over again—and then they spit out their maddening insults, insisting that this is "justified," as if these youth are not human beings, have no right to live, deserve no respect and no future.

Throughout the world, as a result of this system, a billion people or more go hungry every day...with many facing the threat of starvation. Hundreds of millions of children are forced to work like slaves and to live in putrid slums, in the midst of garbage and human waste. Waves of immigrants, unable to live in their own homelands, travel the earth in search of work—and if they find it, they are worked until they can hardly stand and are forced into the shadows, with the constant fear that they will be deported and their families broken apart. Growing numbers of people cannot find work at all now, with many losing their homes as well as their jobs, while others are worked even more mercilessly. Everyone is lured and driven to consume more and more, at the cost of ever-mounting debt and the loss of any sense of larger purpose or meaning to life or any deeper connection with other human beings. Many are being pushed to the edge...growing numbers are going over the edge, often lashing out in crazed desperation.

Young women in the millions are traded like cattle and forced into sexual slavery, shipped across countries and continents, while women everywhere are degraded, demeaned, and brutalized in a thousand ways—beaten and raped in huge numbers, treated as objects of sexual gratification and breeders of children instead of full human beings. The idea of an intimate loving relationship with another human being is made into a sick joke, perverted into a property or commodity relation, weighed down by repressive patriarchal tradition and denied or restricted for people of the same sex.

The environment and human destiny itself is being taken to the brink of disaster.

All this because of the dictates of this system—because of its stranglehold on humanity. All this while technology and wealth exist on a scale and in forms never before imagined—technology and wealth produced by millions, billions, throughout the world who are nameless and faceless to the powers that be—technology and wealth that could and should be a resource belonging to humanity as a whole and used to meet the needs of people everywhere for a decent and ever-enriched material, intellectual and cultural life.

Look at what this system is doing to youth right here in the USA. For millions in the inner cities, if they are not killed at an early age, their likely future is prison (nearly 1 in 8 young Black men is incarcerated, the prisons are overflowing with Blacks and Latinos, and this country has the highest rate of incarceration of women in the world). This system has robbed so many youth of the chance for a decent life and has got far too many living, dying and killing for nothing—nothing good—nothing more than messing up people and murdering each other on the streets of the cities here...or joining the military, being trained to be murderers on a mass scale, massacring people in countries across the globe. A system which offers millions and millions of youth no greater purpose, no better fate, than crime and punishment, or to become a mindless killing machine for the system itself—that alone is reason enough to sweep this system from the face of the earth!

And, despite the good intentions of many teachers, the educational system is a bitter insult for many youth and a means of regimentation and indoctrination overall. While, particularly in some "elite" schools, there is some encouragement for students to think in "non-conformist" ways—so long as, in the end, this still conforms to the fundamental needs and interests of the system—on the whole, instead of really enabling people to learn about the world and to pursue the truth wherever it leads, with a spirit of critical thinking and scientific curiosity, education is crafted and twisted to serve the commandments of capital, to justify and perpetuate the oppressive relations in society and the world as a whole, and to reinforce the dominating position of the already powerful. And despite the creative impulses and efforts of many, the dominant culture too is corrupted and molded to lower, not raise, people's sights, to extol and promote the ways of thinking, and of acting, that keep this system going and keep people believing that nothing better is possible.

Look at the lies they constantly tell us—with all their honeyed words about "democracy" for the people and "human rights," while they are ruthlessly dictating over people, with force and violence, all over the world, and right here at home. Oh, and now they come on with Obama...to make us think they will be bringing some kind of change for the better. But Obama represents this system, and all this system can bring is more of the same: more torture and torment, more oppression and brutality, more war and destruction.

Some say this is all "god's will" and we just have to "put it all in god's hands." But it was not some god that got us in this situation...and it won't be some god that will get us out of it. The truth is, there are no gods...and we don't need them!

THE REVOLUTION WE NEED

It is this system that has got us in the situation we're in today, and keeps us there. And it is through revolution to get rid of this system that we ourselves can bring a much better system into being. The ultimate goal of this revolution is communism: A world where people work and struggle together for the common good...Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings...Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.

This revolution is both necessary and possible.

This capitalist-imperialist system is in crisis...This system is bankrupt...This system is rotten to the core...This system is based on ruthless exploitation...This system commits so many monstrous crimes, and causes so much unnecessary suffering. We do not need to be sacrificing even more to "rescue" this system. This system needs to be swept aside...its crimes against humanity stopped cold...its institutions dismantled, and replaced by ones that empower people to build a new society free of exploitation and oppression.

The biggest lie of all is that there is no other way than this system—or that attempts to really make a different way, through revolution and advancing toward communism, have brought about something even worse. The wretched of the earth have made revolution and started on the road to communism—first in Russia and then in China—and they achieved great things in doing so, before they were turned back by the forces of the old order. We are here to tell you that not only has this been done before, but we can do it again—and even better this time. This is the truth that is covered up and lied about, but we have the facts and the analysis to back this up—tremendous historical experience has been summed up, scientifically, and is there for us to learn from and build on.

It is up to us: to wake up...to shake off the ways they put on us, the ways they have us thinking so they can keep us down and trapped in the same old rat-race...to rise up, as conscious Emancipators of Humanity. The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.

"But people are too messed up. It's just human nature for things to be this way, and it can't be changed."

Yes, it can. It has happened before—when people have risen up to make revolution. It can and must be done again—and it can and must go even further. We, in our millions and millions, can change ourselves and fit ourselves to rule and remake society in the interests of humanity—but we can do this only as we fight to change the larger conditions, to throw off oppression, as we join with others, throughout the world, to change the whole world. This is what our Party means when we say: Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.

"But we are not in a position to make revolution in this country...they are too powerful, and they will never let us get that far." No one is more aware than our Party of the difficulties, the risks and the dangers, in making revolution. We are out here working for this every day. We know the price that has to be paid...and we know it is worth it, and that giving our lives to this is more rewarding than anything else. We know that they want to stop this revolution—crush it and bury it before it can really get going again...but we also know that a fight can be waged, and that we can have a chance to win the fight, to make this revolution real. And, yes, it is true—now is not yet the time, in this country, to go all-out to seize the power away from those who rule over us and to bring a new power, serving our interests, into being. But now IS the time to be WORKING FOR REVOLUTION—to be stepping up resistance while building a movement for revolution—to prepare for the time when it WILL be possible to go all out to seize the power.

Revolution can be made when there is a revolutionary situation, an even greater crisis in society as a whole: when people in greater numbers come to deeply feel and understand that the present power has no legitimacy...that it serves only a handful of oppressors...that it uses lies and deception, corruption and completely unjust force and violence to keep this system going and "keep the people in their place"...when millions see the need to fight to break this power and establish a new power that can bring about the changes that people desperately need and want. For a revolution, there must be a revolutionary people, among all sections of society but with its deepest base among those who catch hell every day under this system...people who are determined to fight for power in order to radically change society, to get rid of oppression and exploitation. But the point is this: we cannot, and we must not, sit around and wait for "one fine day" when this revolutionary situation comes about and a revolutionary people comes on the scene. No, we must—and we can—work to bring a revolutionary people into being...to enable people to see why they should put no faith in this system, and should not live and die in a way that keeps this system going...but instead should devote their lives to resisting oppression and building up for the time when we can get rid of the cause of all this oppression. Using our Party's newspaper, Revolution, as the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for this whole process, this is what our Party means when we say we are hastening while awaiting the revolutionary situation, preparing minds and organizing forces...for revolution.

All this is not possible without leadership. But the thing is...There is leadership.

THE LEADERSHIP WE HAVE

In Bob Avakian, the Chairman of our Party, we have the kind of rare and precious leader who does not come along very often. A leader who has given his heart, and all his knowledge, skills and abilities to serving the cause of revolution and the emancipation of humanity. Bob Avakian came alive as a revolutionary in the 1960s—taking part in the great movements of those days, and especially working and struggling closely with the most advanced revolutionary force in the U.S. at that time, the Black Panther Party. Since then, and while many others have given up, Bob Avakian has worked and struggled tirelessly to find the way to go forward, having learned crucial lessons and built lasting organization that could continue the struggle, and aim to take it higher, while uniting with the same struggle throughout the world. He has kept on developing the theory and strategy for making revolution. He played the key role in founding our Party in 1975, and since then he has continued the battle to keep the Party on the revolutionary road, to carry out work with a strong revolutionary orientation. He has deeply studied the experience of revolution—the shortcomings as well as the great achievements—and many different fields of human endeavor, through history and throughout the world—and he has brought the science and method of revolution to a whole new level, so that we can not only fight but really fight to win. Bob Avakian has developed the scientific theory and strategic orientation for how to actually make the kind of revolution we need, and he is leading our Party as an advanced force of this revolution. He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world. The possibility for revolution, right here, and for the advance of the revolution everywhere, is greatly heightened because of Bob Avakian and the leadership he is providing. And it is up to us to get with this leadership...to find out more about Bob Avakian and the Party he heads...to learn from his scientific method and approach to changing the world...to build this revolutionary movement with our Party at the core...to defend this leadership as the precious thing it is...and, at the same time, to bring our own experience and understanding to help strengthen the process of revolution and enable the leadership we have to keep on learning more and leading even better.

If you have not heard about this—if you don't know about the revolution we need and the leadership we have—that is because those who now hold power do not want you to know...they keep this from you, or lie about it when they can't keep word of it from getting out. And it is because our Party itself has not, until now, been consistent enough and bold enough in getting the word out, and acting on it.

BUT WE ARE CHANGING ALL THAT—STARTING NOW.

We must spread the word to every corner of this country...giving people the means to become part of this revolutionary movement, and organizing into this movement everyone who wants to make a contribution to it, who wants to work and fight, to struggle and sacrifice, not to keep this nightmare of a world going as it is but to bring a better world into being.

We mean what we say, and we will not back off or turn our backs on what we have started, on the people who need this revolution. We will keep coming back and digging in, to strengthen this movement for revolution, to build up the bases, spread the influence and organize the forces we need to make revolution. We will not be scared off, backed down or driven away.

A WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD, A MUCH BETTER FUTURE, IS POSSIBLE. WE HAVE WHAT WE NEED TO FIGHT FOR THAT WORLD, THAT FUTURE.

IT IS UP TO US TO GET WITH IT AND GET TO THE CHALLENGE OF MAKING THIS HAPPEN.

As our Party's Constitution says: "The emancipation of all humanity: this, and nothing less than this, is our goal. There is no greater cause, no greater purpose to which to dedicate our lives."

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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It is a system of capitalism-imperialism...a system in which U.S. imperialism is the most monstrous, most oppressive superpower...a system driven by a relentless chase after profit, which brings horror upon horror, a nightmare seemingly without end, for the vast majority of humanity: poverty and squalor...torture and rape...the wholesale domination and degradation of women everywhere...wars, invasions and occupations...assassinations and massacres...planes, missiles, tanks and troops of the USA bombarding people in faraway lands while they sleep in their homes or go about their daily lives, blasting their little children to pieces, cutting down men and women in the prime of life, or in old age, kicking down their doors and dragging them away in the middle of the night...while here in the USA itself the police harass, brutalize and murder youth in the streets of the inner cities—over and over again—and then they spit out their maddening insults, insisting that this is "justified," as if these youth are not human beings, have no right to live, deserve no respect and no future.

Above quote is from "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"

January 1, 2009, police beat Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Black man, handcuffed him, and forced him face down on the platform of a rapid transit station in Oakland, California. Then one cop shot Oscar Grant in the back, killing him. This cold-blooded murder was caught on cell phone videos and seen by millions. People in Oakland immediately took to the streets in righteous protest. The case has become a flashpoint of struggle in supposedly "post-racial" America, and protests have continued. Revolutionaries have been uniting with the efforts of people from a broad spectrum of political beliefs to say THIS MUST STOP, and bringing revolution and communism to the people.

It is up to us: to wake up...to shake off the ways they put on us, the ways they have us thinking so they can keep us down and trapped in the same old rat-race...to rise up, as conscious Emancipators of Humanity. The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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"From Buffalo Soldier to Revolutionary Communist"

Carl Dix served time in Leavenworth Prison for refusing orders to go to Vietnam. On his "From Buffalo Soldier to Revolutionary Communist" tour, he has challenged students at historically Black campuses: Don't follow the shameful legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers (Black cavalry units formed to suppress Native Americans after the Civil War). "If you follow in the footsteps of the Buffalo Soldiers, you will be called on to do just like they did: commit horrible acts against people who have done nothing to you." Instead, Carl said: "What people need to be about is making revolution to sweep all that away, not fighting to help keep this system in effect."

Carl Dix has brought this message to the historically Black campuses: Atlanta University, Texas Southern University in Houston, and Howard University in D.C. where tough questions were raised, including whether youth caught up in gangs can get into something more meaningful. "The youth didn't create the situation they're caught up in," Carl Dix said. "The capitalist system and its chase after profits did. We in the RCP take that truth out to the youth and everybody else, and on that basis we challenge them to get out of that situation and get with the revolution."

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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From the Burkha to the Thong:
Everything Must, and Can, Change—WE NEED TOTAL REVOLUTION!

a talk by Sunsara Taylor

From Hawaii, to California, Chicago and NYC, hundreds have attended Sunsara Taylor's national campus speaking tour. For one woman, it was the words "and can" in the title—which convey not only the need, but also the possibility, of change—that made her come.

People came for different reasons. Then something extraordinary happened. They listened to searing exposure of the conditions of women worldwide, an examination of how all this is woven into and reinforced by the system of global imperialism, a vivid picture of how this will be ended through revolution, and a challenge to get into the movement for revolution, starting now!  Then, the audiences dived in: discussing, questioning, debating.

Taylor's talk has been very controversial exactly because it goes against deeply held beliefs. She challenges the view that women are "free to choose" the thong. One group of women came to argue in favor of the veil as a "personal choice." Some attacked Taylor saying, "who are you to tell Muslim women what to think." I'm a communist, that's who I am, she said, and then went on to dissect the ultimately disastrous consequences of cultural relativism, religion and identity politics.

One student wrote afterwards, "Now I'm thinking, 'What if every thought I have about myself as a woman has been drilled into me and not developed on my own?'"

Another woman who marched in Harlem on International Women's Day said, "It's only been a little over a week since Sunsara Taylor's talk, and I can't help walking down the street imagining how everything in society could be different."

For information on the tour, go online to sunsara.blogspot.com

LA • April 8 • Thursday • 7pm
La Kretz Hall Auditorium, UCLA. (Doors open and photo display at 6:30 pm.) Sponsored by Critical Thinking at UCLA; Academic Advancement Program (AAP), UCLA; and Revolution Books/Libros Revolución.
for information: 310-210-6012

Honolulu • April 13 • Tuesday • 7 pm
UH-Manoa, Architecture Auditorium
Sponsored by Revolution Books
contact: 808-944-3106

NY • April 27 • Tuesday, 7 pm
At Barnard College
202 Altschul Hall, Lehman Auditorium
116th & Broadway.
Free and open to the public.
Sponsored by Columbia Political Union and Revolution Books.

Webcast • April 28 • Wednesday, 8:30 EST
(webcast will begin promptly)
online broadcast of Sunsara's April 8 talk at UCLA.
Immediately following, Sunsara will respond to questions in a live webcast.
Sign up here and invite your friends on Facebook

More dates upcoming.
To bring Sunsara to your campus, Contact: sunsara_tour@yahoo.com
Find Sunsara Taylor on YouTube and Facebook.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Wednesday, April 28

Webcast of Sunsara Taylor's talk, followed by live Q&A

"From the Burkha to the Thong: Everything Must, and Can, Change—WE NEED TOTAL REVOLUTION!"

NOW's your chance to participate in Sunsara Taylor's national speaking tour—wherever you are. First watch the broadcast of her April 8 talk at UCLA. Immediately following, Sunsara will take your questions in a live webcast.

You can be part of this event in your living room, on your laptop, in your classroom, or wherever you arrange to tune in—with friends or on your own. Donate $10 or more and receive log-in information at www.revolutionbooksnyc.org. After watching Sunsara's talk, email your questions. Don't wait until the last minute to sign up.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Spreading Revolution and Communism

A Communist, a Scientist, and a Priest Sat Down to Discuss...Morality to Change the World

On Friday, April 16 at the University of Chicago, a panel featuring Sunsara Taylor (writer for Revolution newspaper), PZ Myers (biology professor at University of Minnesota Morris and author of the most widely read science blog, Pharyngula) and Bob Bossie, SJC, (member of the International Catholic Order of Priests of the Sacred Heart & activist with 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago) spoke to an audience of around 175 people, largely students. The panel was moderated by Ted Jennings of the Chicago Theological Seminary, and the event was co-sponsored by that organization, the University of Chicago Secular Student Alliance, Revolution Books, the 8th Day Center for Justice, and the UC Philosophy Club.

A representative of the UC Secular Student Alliance welcomed the audience, noting that this was one of the most important discussions we can be having in the world today. This sense was reflected in the comments of the speakers and moderator, as well as a large section of the audience who brought serious urgency to changing the world in fundamental ways—including because of the environmental and economic crises. Some were doing serious soul-searching to figure out how to live their lives, and questioning what sacrifices they were willing to make for the betterment of humanity. Many of those who attended were fans of PZ Myers and his blog, and various kinds of atheists, agnostics, skeptics and humanists. Others were groupings or individual secular or atheist students, including from other campuses who heard about the panel online on various atheist blogs or Facebook. Some felt less urgency for social change but are working to develop a rational worldview and a personal code of ethics for how to be a good person and relate to other humans in a cooperative, respectful way. There were progressive religious people anxious to find areas of overlap and channels for meaningful exchange with progressive secular people. There were activists and people from various social movements. And there were people who have heard about the revolution, or been checking it out, who came to hear the exchange.

The three questions around which the presentations of the panelists revolved were:

  1. Can religion, science or communism provide a morality to change the world?
  2. Are they complementary, conflictual or mutually exclusive of one another?
  3. How will we motivate people, and with what moral paradigm to change the world?

There were some questions about human nature, how to change the world in general and some challenges to the role of religion, the Catholic Church and belief in God coming from the audience. A lot of people seemed surprised by Bob Bossie, who responded to a question from Ted Jennings about what kind of timeline was needed for fundamental change by joking, how about a week? He then went on to say that he wasn't joking and that there was a serious question of what was urgently needed in the world and how people had to ask themselves, and that he constantly asks himself, what are you willing to sacrifice, what are you willing to do for this change? It's one thing to volunteer for a week or two, or donate to something or whatever, but really how are you going to live your life? And many of the questions went to Sunsara Taylor and revolved around communism and revolution—what about people who disagree with you, if you have a centralized government making all the decisions, how will we know they'll be the right decisions, haven't vanguard parties just led to something worse, yes there were advances made for bringing women into the workforce in the Soviet Union but then there was a whole emphasis to them on becoming mothers to serve the revolution.

Feedback surveys were given to the audience, and many dozens were filled out, which offers a lot to learn from. There were criticisms from every side. A number of people were taken aback by the honesty of the panel and the way they had such divergent viewpoints but came together around the need for real change. The panel and Q&A went over two and a half hours, and very few people left early. There was a real feeling in the air that there was something going on here, refreshing and new, and very sorely needed.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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The Raymond Lotta Campus Tour:

Everything You've Been Told About Communism Is Wrong
CAPITALISM IS A FAILURE
REVOLUTION IS THE SOLUTION

Most students today know little about communism—and most of what they know is wrong. The national campus tour by Raymond Lotta has begun to break open the "communism debate"—and this is a crucial part of the whole campaign: The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have.

Hundreds of students, intellectuals and others have heard Lotta at major universities—at UC Berkeley, NYU, UCLA, University of Chicago, Columbia, and Harvard. With facts and analysis, Lotta punctures the lies and distortions behind the official verdict that the first wave of socialist revolutions in the 20th century was a "failure." And Lotta introduces people to Bob Avakian's vibrant and emancipatory vision of communism. The Q&As have involved serious and lively exchange and debate, over the first wave of socialist societies and a wide range of issues, like "human nature" and  how a new socialist society would deal with the environmental emergency.

In a series of hard-hitting open letters to major proponents of the "official story," Lotta challenged the institutionalized verdicts and intellectual discourse on communism—whether a radically different world is needed, desirable, or possible.

A letter by two students in the Columbia Daily Spectator said, "This is our world, our generation, our responsibility to examine different viewpoints and perspectives. We're figuring out what we think and believe, and we think that the things Raymond Lotta and the other communists are saying should be a part of that process. Because they break the box and compel imaginings."

This whole offensive against the official story was and is new, very new—and it is just beginning to get going.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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The Prison Ban on Revolution Newspaper is Inhumane and Unconstitutional

Overturn the Ban!

 

From readers in prison:

"Revolution began to open my eyes..."

"You guys have a gold mine on your hands. Bob Avakian is no joke..."

"Just amazed at the whole realm of science."

"Women are just as capable, deserving, and integral to our collective emancipation as any man."

Imagine you are in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of a prison, locked in a solitary cell for 23 or more hours a day, every day, year after year. Your lifeline to the world is a newspaper and all of a sudden prison officials decide that you cannot read it anymore. As a prisoner wrote: "I've been getting the Revolution paper for about 8 years and can't imagine being in this dungeon without it."

In February, 2010, prison officials at California's Pelican Bay State Prison declared that Revolution newspaper was banned from their institution. The ban must be OVERTURNED.

Many people from all sections of society who have listened to these prisoners' voices have been struck by the power of their words and their moral vision for transforming society. Now it is up to those on the outside to make sure this lifeline is not cut off and these voices are not muffled or worse silenced.

Here is how you can help today:

  1. GIVE FUNDS TODAY. This will both seed a much more major campaign and also enable us to immediately wage a legal struggle and to fill the urgent backlog of literature requests from prisoners, as well as maintaining current subscribers.
     
  2. Write a letter stating your opposition to the ban of Revolution newspaper at Pelican Bay State Prison. Warden Francisco Jacquez, Pelican Bay State Prison, P.O. Box 7000, Crescent City, CA 95531-7000. Send a copy to the PRLF.
     
  3. Spread the word about the ban and the struggle to overturn it. Develop networks of support. Organize dramatic readings of the prisoners' letters everywhere! Script available at www.prisonersrevolutionaryliteraturefund.org
     
  4. Volunteers of all skill sets urgently needed. Contact PRLF today to volunteer.
     

From a reader:

"I have seen the future in these letters"

As a reader of Revolution's letters from prisoners, I am outraged that a prison in California or ANYWHERE USA is banning their right to read Revolution newspaper. This goes to the most basic rights of people locked up on the bottom of society to lift their heads to understand the world and through their voices to be part of changing it.

Do prisoners have a right to develop as critical thinkers?

Do prisoners have a right to the wonder and awe of science?

Do prisoners have a right to atheist views and to break the mental shackles of religion?

Do prisoners have a right to understand why so many of them are in prison?

Do prisoners have a right to learn how to build bonds of multi-racial unity through recognizing the common roots of their oppression?

Do prisoners have a right to understand the oppression of women, to reject the misogyny and porn so prevalent in prisons?

Do prisoners have a right to explore alternatives—radical, revolutionary and Communist solutions to the plight of the people and of the planet itself?

Do prisoners have a right to transform themselves into emancipators of humanity?

I have read the letters. I have seen the future in these letters. I see in your prison bans the echo of the past when it was a crime for slaves to teach themselves or be taught to read. It is as basic as this—Do prisoners have a right to a life of the mind, to be human even under the most horrible conditions? YES THEY DO!

Our Mission: The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) is an educational literature fund that fills requests from U.S. prisoners for revolutionary literature.

(For our full Mission Statement and more information on PRLF, go to our website: www.prisonersrevolutionaryliteraturefund.org)

The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund is in affiliation with International Humanities Center, a nonprofit public charity exempt from federal income tax under Section 501[c](3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Send your checks to Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund, 1321 N. Milwaukee, #407, Chicago, IL 60622

Make checks to: Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
Make tax-deductible checks to: IHCenter/PRLF

Credit card and Pay Pal donations can be made online at: www.IHCenter.org/groups/prlf.html ("International Humanities" will appear on your credit card statement), or at www.prisonersrevolutionaryliteraturefund.org

To volunteer with or contact PRLF: (773) 960-6952 or prlf_fund@yahoo.com

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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From a reader:

"I have seen the future in these letters"

As a reader of Revolution's letters from prisoners, I am outraged that a prison in California or ANYWHERE USA is banning their right to read Revolution newspaper. This goes to the most basic rights of people locked up on the bottom of society to lift their heads to understand the world and through their voices to be part of changing it.

Do prisoners have a right to develop as critical thinkers?

Do prisoners have a right to the wonder and awe of science?

Do prisoners have a right to atheist views and to break the mental shackles of religion?

Do prisoners have a right to understand why so many of them are in prison?

Do prisoners have a right to learn how to build bonds of multi-racial unity through recognizing the common roots of their oppression?

Do prisoners have a right to understand the oppression of women, to reject the misogyny and porn so prevalent in prisons?

Do prisoners have a right to explore alternatives—radical, revolutionary and Communist solutions to the plight of the people and of the planet itself?

Do prisoners have a right to transform themselves into emancipators of humanity?

I have read the letters. I have seen the future in these letters. I see in your prison bans the echo of the past when it was a crime for slaves to teach themselves or be taught to read. It is as basic as this—Do prisoners have a right to a life of the mind, to be human even under the most horrible conditions? YES THEY DO!

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Arizona Goddamn!!

Oppose the Attack on Immigrants

Arizona legislators have taken a page from Hitler's textbook. They passed a law that legally demonizes and outlaws people who are either from Mexico or Latin America, or look like they may be from Mexico or Latin America, or indeed any other country from which immigrants come. The law requires police and other law enforcement personnel to demand proof of legal residency of anyone who they suspect could be an undocumented immigrant. The passage of this law followed by just one week the largest ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raid ever on immigrant neighborhoods in Phoenix and Tucson.

The New York Times on April 18 said bluntly that this law means "if you are brown-skinned and leave home without a wallet, you are in trouble." But it's worse than that—this new law means that if you are brown-skinned you can be and will be stopped in the streets of Arizona, and subjected to verbal abuse, made to "kiss the pavement," perhaps tased or beaten, and even thrown into jail—because this is all too often what happens when police stop minority people "just to check," here in the "land of the free." This law brings back the Jim Crow segregationist South, when there was open and unchecked white supremacist terror against Black people, and sticks it into modern-day Arizona.  And it means that as other areas adopt this same sort of thing, the outrages will spread to African and African-American people (because cops will not draw a distinction), to Arabs, to Asians... to everyone who is not white or who speaks with an accent.  This is a major reassertion and heightening of white supremacy and ugly Anglo chauvinism in America—and it must be opposed with vigor and determination.

We must say NO!—HELL NO!!!—to this outrage.  People are righteously resisting this, and this resistance must grow in strength and breadth, and find echoes all across this country and into other countries besides. WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS!! WE WILL NOT ACCEPT SLAVERY IN ANY FORM!! IMMIGRANTS MUST HAVE FULL AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS!!!

In addition to supporting the demonstrations and outpourings against the fascist new law, the RCP,USA calls on all people to wear armbands and stickers saying simply that "WE ARE ALL ILLEGALS" in a show of defiance and solidarity.  These armbands must go out leading up to and then especially on May 1 itself, at all manifestations and events in which the Party is participating—both events that are largely initiated by the Party marking revolutionary May 1, as well as manifestations on that day that demand rights for immigrants and an end to the attacks.

Some influential voices are telling people to raise the American flag, to tone down the demands and militancy.  First of all, this is not about being good citizens or hard workers and hoping that racists will accept you on that basis. They will NOT.  It is about standing up for fundamental rights and for the humanity of those who have been driven here, often in a desperate search for work.  Understand: the white supremacy and Anglo chauvinism that fuels this onslaught has to be called out for what it is and taken head-on, not conciliated with.

As for raising the American flag, this is sheer poison.  This flag flew over the troops that invaded Mexico, Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and other countries in the 1800s, and the 1900s, on up to 1965. This flag was sewn on the shoulders of the "military advisers" that carried out horrible crimes in Chile, Guatemala, Argentina, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Brazil and El Salvador in the 1970s and '80s. This is the flag that today continues to preside over terrible crimes in the name of the war on drugs. And it is the flag that flies over the U.S. occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, as they carry out massacres of civilians. This is the flag that is also on the uniforms of the ICE raiders who today terrorize immigrants (and note well, it is the federal government which orchestrated the ICE raids in Arizona before the passage of this bill).  Immigrants have a unique ability to let people who were born here know the real truth about this flag—they should not be led to cooperate in whitewashing that truth in the name of relating to the mainstream and they should NOT go along with the efforts of those who do. The mainstream needs waking up to the real truth of what has driven people here, and what happens to them when they come—the truth, and nothing less than the truth, is what is badly needed right now.

There are also calls to support the new "comprehensive immigration reform" law put forth by the senators Schumer and Graham, and supported by Obama. This law will strengthen the repressive apparatus (requiring biometric ID, giving more money for Border Patrol, etc.); create a new class of temporary, easily-monitored workers who can be "used once and thrown away" (i.e., sent back to the country they came from when the job is over); and claim to offer those who are now here a path to citizenship if they admit to being criminal and paying fines and doing "community service" to make amends. This law is a trap and should NOT be supported.

But the main thing now is this: support and spread the outpourings against this bill, support and strengthen the spirit of defiance against this immoral and unconstitutional law, and assist and inspire people to cast their eyes to the horizon of revolution, when such outrages will be done away with, as part of emancipating all of humanity.

•  •  •

In the Revolution Talk online, "Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About," Bob Avakian is asked the question: "If this country is so terrible, why do people come here from all over the world? Why are so many people trying to get in, not to get out?" And Avakian answers: "Why? I'll tell you why. Because you have fucked up the rest of the world even worse than what you have done in this country. You have made it impossible for many people to live in their own countries as part of gaining your riches and power." (Watch the entire film and selected clips at revolutiontalk.net. Clips also available at youtube.com/revolutiontalk. Order the DVD from RCP Publications, P.O. Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654-0486. $20 plus $3 shipping.)

Show your defiance of the new fascist anti-immigrant law!

Show your solidarity with immigrants who are under attack!

The Revolutionary Communist Party calls on everyone to wear armbands and stickers that say:

"We Are ALL Illegals!"

Get these armbands and stickers out all over before May 1, at revolutionary May Day actions, and at May 1 marches for immigrant rights.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Uprising in Iran!

Last June, the prime minister, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—seemed to steal the national election. This outraged millions of Iranian people, who had attached their hopes for change to a competing candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi. The people rebelled in the streets, and the section of rulers that had backed Mousavi also began to oppose the government. The government—headed by Ahmadinejad and the overall religious ruler Khamenei—reacted with fierce repression. The government beat and jailed people, and even murdered dozens of protesters, on the streets and in custody. Meanwhile, the rulers of the U.S. are attempting to use the crisis to further their own interests; they want to force Iran to conform more to U.S. aims in the region, and even totally change the regime.

Iran is an Islamic Republic—its laws are based on the Qur'an (Koran). One thing this means is that women are severely discriminated against—forced to dress in certain ways, unequal before the law, and constantly harassed by religious police. Mousavi wants to maintain this form of rule, while reforming some aspects of it. Ahmadinejad represents those who want to crack down harder.

As this struggle has developed, a section of masses have begun to get out of Mousavi's control and break with his program. There has been sharp fighting in the streets and increasingly people are calling into question the Islamic Republic itself. But Mousavi wants to maintain the Islamic Republic—he just wants to reform some aspects of it in order to make it better able to contain people's anger and to fit itself into the imperialist geostrategic order and economic structure in a way more advantageous for the clique he represents. As a result, Mousavi is now offering to compromise.

Revolutionary communist forces, the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), are in the thick of all this, working to bring forward a real alternative and win masses to all-the-way revolution, one that would both overthrow the Islamic Republic and rupture with U.S. imperialism.

May 1, 2010—on this international revolutionary holiday we call on people to stand with the just struggle of the Iranian people for liberation.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Oppose Operation Green Hunt!

In November 2009, the Indian government launched "Operation Green Hunt." This massive military assault targets millions of adivasis (ethnic and tribal groups who were among the original inhabitants of the subcontinent). The adivasis have a long history of rebellion and militant uprisings.

The forests where adivasis live have abundant mineral wealth (iron, coal, bauxite, manganese, corundum, gold, diamonds and uranium). Over the last years foreign and Indian corporations, with the protection of the Indian state, have been exploiting and violently suppressing the people.

Two sides are shaping up in this struggle. On one side are the adivasis and the Communist Party of India (Maoist), whose members have lived and fought side by side with the adivasis since the 1970s. On the other side, with its military and police force, is the central Indian state—the representative and protector of the ruling classes that live off and suck the life out of the Indian masses. The Indian state urgently wants to clear the obstacles for a new wave of foreign investment and capitalist development aimed at taking advantage of the region's resources. And the rulers of India are concerned by the deep ties the Maoists have made with the region's people.

A statement last year from prominent intellectuals opposing "Operation Green Hunt" said, "Such a military campaign will endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of the poorest people living in those areas, resulting in massive displacement, destitution and human rights violation of ordinary citizens."

The U.S. and India have a deep strategic relationship. In 2007, the U.S. moved to bolster India's nuclear capacity, and India and the U.S. regularly conduct military exercises together. In the spirit of proletarian internationalism—and as part of standing up against the crimes of "our" government and oppressors aligned with it—"Operation Green Hunt" must be protested and opposed by all who hate injustice and oppression.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Coming in May: Big Changes at revcom.us!

Big changes are coming at revcom.us in May—changes that will make the site one that welcomes people to real revolution, and gives them a big picture of the movement we are building.

At the core of the new revcom.us site are the two "mainstays" of the RCP's all-around revolutionary work. The site will feature and promote the work of Bob Avakian, his history and character as a rare and outstanding communist leader, and—on the broadest level—his connection to revolution. It will provide easy access to Bob Avakian's writings, audio downloads, and the video of his talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About.

The new site will make the content of Revolution newspaper more attractive and accessible. Articles and other content will be updated frequently, indexed by topic, and easier to share across the web. And the new site will give people access to major documents of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

There will also be a section of the site devoted to Building the Movement for Revolution—including the RCP's current campaign (see editorial on page 3). This will be a center for sharing experiences, articles and comments from readers, correspondence, organizing materials, and much more.

This is a first step. And as the site develops further, it will increasingly become an online hub and pivot for the movement for revolution—a place where people can discuss and debate—in a uniquely vibrant atmosphere—the big questions of the hour, and the world. And a place people come to get organized to respond to major developments in the world—to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.

There is much ongoing work to do, and funds to raise, to bring the new site to life in May. To help, contact rcppubs@hotmail.com; to contribute funds, click the donate link at revcom.us.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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For Immediate Release
Monday, May 3, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill: System Not Fit To Be Caretaker of the Planet

Raymond Lotta and Orpheus Available for Interviews

The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform that killed 11 workers on April 20 threatens to become a massive and perhaps unparalleled environmental disaster. Current estimates are that 200,000 gallons a day are gushing out of the sea floor, one mile beneath the surface. The spill endangers fragile marshes, ponds, creeks, lakes, and other wetlands making up 40 percent of U.S. total wetlands. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries estimates that at least 400 species—from shrimp to pelicans to river otters—could be impacted by the oil, including a dozen listed under the Endangered Species Act.

This is a capitalist oil spill. The Gulf of Mexico has been turned into a vast laboratory for deep-water oil drilling to serve capitalism's relentless drive for profit and strategic control of energy resources. Official U.S. government policy has encouraged this—and has refused to require use of the most advanced technology to stop disasters exactly like this. The inconvenient truth is that this oil leak could have been prevented. But it is "cost-effective" for companies like British Petroleum to scrimp on safety and environmental protection measures and equipment.

The capitalist system depends on highly profitable and environmentally destructive fossil fuels. Remember, the Obama administration just a month ago proposed massively expanding offshore U.S. drilling, while President Obama himself offered this assurance: "oil rigs today generally don't cause spills." And this comes after the deliberate failure—engineered mainly by the U.S.—of the December 2009 Copenhagen climate talks to take any meaningful action to stop global warming.

This is outrageous and immoral. What is happening in the Gulf points to the reality that the capitalist system is unable and unwilling to protect the planet and the people.

Raymond Lotta and Orpheus bring a unique communist perspective to global environmental issues:

Raymond Lotta is the author of America in Decline and of Maoist Economics and the Revolutionary Road to Communism; he has been interviewed by the BBC and Agence France-Presse. Orpheus writes on issues of the environment and the antiglobalization movement. Both contributed to the Special Environmental issue of Revolution newspaper, "State of Emergency! The Plunder Of Our Planet, The Environmental Catastrophe and The Real Revolutionary Solution" (revcom.us/a/199/emergency-en.html).

Contact: anniedaymedia@yahoo.com.

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Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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"A New Generation of Revolutionary Leaders"

BOB AVAKIAN ON THE ESSENCE OF COMMUNIST LEADERSHIP, AND BRINGING FORWARD NEW LEADERS

From the Talk: Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About

Editors' Note: The following is the text of the answer by Bob Avakian to Question 14 in the "Questions and Answers" Section of the DVD: Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About. This has been slightly edited for publication, and a footnote has been added.

Now, finally, as far as written questions—because we wanted to allow time for people to ask questions from the floor, so to speak—the question is: "Given how crucial the revolutionary upsurge of the '60s was in forging the leadership of the RCP, how can a new generation of revolutionary leadership be brought into being in the absence of such a revolutionary upsurge?"

Well, those were favorable times. There was a revolutionary upsurge generally in the world, in many different forms and many different levels and with many different kinds of programs and ideologies. But there was a general revolutionary ferment in the world, and this did find very broad expression even within the U.S. itself. I mean this even penetrated into some of the mainstream silly popular culture. Like some of you might remember the movie Car Wash—it was made in the '70s. There's a scene in there where the son of the owner of the car wash brings in the Red Book [Quotations from Chairman Mao Tsetung] and is trying to propagandize the other people working in the car wash about how great the Red Book is. Well, this was kind of silly, on one level, but it reflected something about what was going on in the culture. There was another movie made with Peter Sellers called I Love You, Alice B. Toklas. This was all about how... Alice B. Toklas was this woman who developed this recipe for making cookies with marijuana, I think. And it involved this guy [played by the actor] Peter Sellers who was a mainstream, really straight-by-the-book lawyer who's supposed to have one of these marriages that's sort of, you know, almost like a merger. And at the last minute he drops out and goes and joins his brother in kind of a hippie life, and he keeps going back and forth between these two lives. And at one point his brother takes him to a bookstore and says, "Oh, the Red Book—you really gotta get one of these." So this is a kind of reflection, even reaching into the mainstream culture, of what was going in the society at that time, especially among the youth of different nationalities, but not only them.

And of course this provided very favorable terms and conditions for people to develop into revolutionaries and into communists. Now, naturally, it didn't happen automatically. Just because there was all this stuff around, just because there was a Red Book there, you didn't have to read it. And just because you read it didn't mean you understood it. And just because you read it and understood it didn't mean you really went deeper and understood something more fundamental than that. I mean the Red Book is a condensed version of a lot of things. It's very good, obviously, but to really understand these things and really develop as a communist you have to go a lot deeper and a lot broader than that. You have to get into a lot of the underlying principles that are being spoken of and concentrated there. And you have to get into all the complexities of this.

But this general kind of atmosphere created very favorable conditions for that, it's true. This is a situation in which I myself and others in the RCP—or what became the RCP—this is the context in which many of us developed. But, of course, we shouldn't romanticize that. There were lots of people who developed in that time, became very radicalized, even became revolutionary-minded, who did not become Maoists, who did not become communists. They went in other directions. Or they proclaimed themselves Maoists and communists but it wasn't really that. And when some real twists and turns and some real tests came, like when the revisionists seized power in China [in 1976], they just fell all apart. So it wasn't some kind of automatic or easy thing to be..."oh, you know, everybody was being a communist then, man, all you had to do was fall into it." It wasn't like that. And a lot of people got killed in that period of time, especially members of the Black Panther Party, who might have also developed into revolutionary leaders in a more developed way but never got the chance. This is the way it goes. Some of this is accident—who emerges and who doesn't as a revolutionary leader and what emerges as a vanguard party.

One of the questions we didn't get into here—we didn't have time—is somebody asked the question of did I think that as a white male I could actually lead the revolution. Well, the answer is no, not as a white male—but I think I could play a leading role in it as a communist [applause]. This is the challenge: what you follow is not people based on what nationality they are, or what gender they are, and so on, but whether they really represent the way forward out of all this and whether they have a plan and a program for actually leading people in that way, and developing in that kind of a way. Like I said, there's a lot of accident that goes into that. A lot of other people who might have emerged as leaders in forming the new vanguard party reached a turn in the road and couldn't keep going forward on the right road for a lot of different reasons—or maybe they got killed or thrown in jail and didn't have the opportunity to do it.

So we shouldn't idealize that period of time. There were very favorable conditions. But, first of all, on the one side it's not automatic that you're going to develop into a communist out of conditions like that, or that you can forge the leadership necessary to form a vanguard party out of all that. See, that's something else I want to say—just a little detour here. Leadership is not a matter of ego, it's not a matter—at least proletarian leadership, communist leadership—it's not a matter of asserting that you know better than everybody else, you're smarter than everybody else and everybody should follow you blindly without questioning what you say. Leadership is essentially a matter of responsibility. It's a matter of being willing to be ruthlessly scientific, caring enough about this revolution—having a deep enough grounding and understanding that this revolution is necessary and possible—to be willing and on that basis to develop the ability to apply yourself to actually lead this revolution and to take up all the daunting and heavy responsibilities that go into actually providing that leadership, learning but also leading and not shirking the responsibility. Yes, I'll say it straight up: I'm ready and I'm willing to take the responsibility of leading this revolution all the way. And our party is willing and ready to do the same thing. [applause]

But this is a matter of responsibility. It's a matter of taking this seriously. It's a matter of saying: this is where this needs to go, this is where this is tending to go, these are the forces that are resisting and pulling back away from it, this is what has to be overcome, this is what has to be overthrown, this is how people have to be led, this is how we have to go out and work among people and learn from them while we're giving them leadership, this is the process of the mass line that has to be applied, these are the problems that have to be studied. This is what it means to lead—it means you're willing and you're ready to take that responsibility and you're prepared, not just as an individual but collectively—collectively in the party and together with the masses of people who come forward to join the revolution—you're ready to carry that all the way through and to take up every challenge, both in theory and in practice, that has to be confronted and dealt with in order to make that revolution and contribute to it in the whole world. That's what it means to develop and to take the responsibility as a vanguard and to develop revolutionary leadership.

Now, while there were particular circumstances that were favorable to develop people like that out of the '60s, there are also plenty of favorable conditions to do that now. That's why you see many young people coming forward as communists right now, a number of whom are sitting right in this room. Where do they come from? They came out of the upsurges of this time. They came out of a different way, not the same way as the '60s, a different way that things are posing themselves now. They came out of recognizing, as we recognized then, that all these things stem from the same system. As they were introduced to this idea, they embraced it and took it up, and that's how they began to develop and are continuing to develop as communists.

Now, in order to bring forward new leaders in any kind of period...there's lots of upsurge going on now—look around you. Even [with the war] in Vietnam we didn't have a million or more people demonstrating against the war at that time.1 Overall, things then were more advanced than they've gotten to be now, but there are plenty of elements of upsurge and resistance now that hold great potential.

And it's a very tricky and complicated issue how you develop new leaders when you already have leaders. Because there's a tendency when you have long years of experience...well, first of all there's a tendency to get stuck in your ways. That's one thing you have to struggle against all the time, constantly trying to not get stuck in your ways and to recognize new things that emerge that might look to you like nothing significant but then you look deeper and you dig deeper and you see that they are, and that they do represent something that's shaking things loose. So there's not getting stuck in your ways and stuck in a rut.

There are positives and negatives to being a veteran, to having been around in the struggle for a long time. The positives are obvious—you gain a lot of experience, you learn a lot. One of the things you develop is a certain subtlety about things, you don't see things in oversimplified terms. You understand the complexities of things, at the same time as you see the simplicity within the complexity. What do I mean by that? Like, for example, to actually make a revolution is very complex, but it's also very simple that we need this revolution and that's what we have to do. And you have to not lose sight of either part of that. Then there's a question of not getting stuck in a rut or stuck in your ways, but there's also a question of not getting in the way of new people sometimes. Because you can look at what people are doing who are new and you have years of experience and you say, "I've seen this movie before, I know where this is going." Well, sometimes you do, and sometimes you don't because nothing is ever exactly the same as the way it was before. But even when it is in its main lines the same, there's still always new things to learn, and there's still always much to learn from people who are newly encountering these things and maybe coming up with new ways of confronting it that you didn't think of before.

Yes, there's a temptation to say, "Well, look, we know how to do this." I like this new generation, but let's face it, you know, they make a lot of fucking mistakes. [laughter] And it's very tempting to say, well we just can't let them take this initiative here because these are not times when we can make a lot of mistakes. This is a serious situation we're dealing with. These people that we're up against, the core of this ruling class—they're not playing. The shit that I was talking about is not some kind of thing I made up. The dangers that are represented are very real, and mistakes can cost a lot in this situation. So, it's very difficult to handle this contradiction of saying: "OK, let's let people take initiative even if they make some mistakes—some that I might have made too and some that are all their own." Because if we don't let that happen, first of all we're not going to learn as much as we might learn, including from how they handle it that might be different and even better in some ways—to our surprise—than the way we might have handled it. And second of all, if we don't do that they're never going to learn in this whole furnace of the struggle and, even if making mistakes, how to advance to the next level so that they can develop more as leaders and come forward.

So, part of it is actually leading people to develop as leaders, but part of that is knowing when to assist and when to get the fuck out of the way. And that's not easy to determine. One of the hardest things and one of the most important things in life in general, and especially in the revolutionary movement and socialist society, is knowing what are the things and when are the circumstances in which you really have to pay a lot of focused and very concrete and detailed and calibrated attention to everything, and what are the situations and what are the circumstances in which you should really step back and let things develop. This comes up all the time: You're working with other people, you want them to take initiative. Well, what are the times when you really have to kind of walk together with them step by step to help them do it, until they can do it more on their own? And what are the times and circumstances when you just have to have a general discussion and then let them go, and get out of the way?

So bringing forward new leaders is also a matter of handling that kind of contradiction, and there is a strategic importance to this. One of the principles we stress—whether you're talking about youth or people with more experience, whether you're talking about people of different genders or different nationalities—leadership is not a joke, and leadership is not a matter of tokenism. Leadership is responsible to the masses of people, here and all over the world. Leadership is something that has to be brought forward on the basis of people developing the ability, and being helped to develop the ability, to actually lead for real, to actually apply the revolutionary ideology and scientific methods to solve the real contradictions you're up against.

Otherwise, what we're doing is playing around so that we can feel good among ourselves and forgetting about the larger world and the masses of people out there, not just here but all over the world. You can feel good setting up arrangements that look good to other people—but what about the real contradictions that the masses of people are up against and the ways in which they're suffering every day? Are you really doing something to change that? Or are you just playing around? Developing leadership has to be done in line with and in mind of actually changing the world—that's what I'm trying to say. You have to change the world out here! It doesn't do any good if we don't change the world! I don't care whether we look young or old, what nationality or gender we are, if we don't change the world the masses of people are going to be fucked again! And that's not what we're about, that's not what this is about.

Yes, we have to bring forward the youth, we have to bring people forward from among the oppressed nationalities and from among the proletariat, and we have to develop them not only as communists but as communist leaders, and we are doing that and we have to do more. But it's gotta be on the basis of applying this ideology to change the world and to mobilize the masses of people and lead them to emancipate themselves, or else it doesn't mean anything. And that's what we're about. That's the standard we apply. That's what we're aiming for, and that's what we're thinking about and keeping uppermost in our minds when we're working to bring forward leaders from among the youth and from among the proletariat and oppressed masses. And there's plenty of circumstances and conditions to do that—there's plenty of work to be done and plenty of people to be brought forward. And I say: Let's get busy with it. [applause]

1. This talk, and the question and answer session that followed, from which this text is drawn, was given in the summer of 2003, a few months after there were massive protests against the impending war in Iraq; this is what Bob Avakian is referring to here, in speaking of "a million or more people demonstrating against the war." [back]

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Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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On the Critical Crossroads in the Nepal Revolution, and the Urgent Need for a Real Rupture with Revisionism

Observations by a Supporter of that Revolution
From a Communist Internationalist Perspective

Editors' Note: In Nepal, beginning on May First major demonstrations of Maoists (Unified Communist Party of Nepal [Maoist]) and their supporters have taken place centered in Katmandu in support of the demand that the current Prime Minister step down. A general strike lasting six days halted commerce, shut down schools and businesses and blocked transportation, and was then called off. The question of who is going to be in charge of the government is still sharply posed as the deadline for writing a new constitution, May 28, is fast approaching.  There is no prospect of a new constitution being agreed upon in that timeframe, and a new people's movement has been called by the Maoist leadership in an attempt to put pressure on the other political parties to let them take the reins of government. Forces on all sides are tensely anticipating what will happen. It is not clear what the outcome of this contestation of strength will be in the coming days.  This article, "On the Critical Crossroads in the Nepal Revolution, and the Urgent Need for a Real Rupture with Revisionism," was written before these latest developments, but it remains extremely relevant to this current juncture when the UCPN(M) will be weighing what course to take.

In studying important sections of a recent Resolution of the Central Committee of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)—UCPN(M)*—I was struck by the argument in this CC Resolution that, in the particular circumstances of Nepal, where the current political and governmental process, including the writing of a new Constitution, have resulted from the people's war and the mass movement against the monarchy that was led by the UCPN(M), this process is now favorable to the UCPN(M) and the revolution, and is unfavorable to the reactionaries. In fact this document (CC Resolution) goes so far as to argue that the reactionaries cannot achieve their objectives through this process while (it seems this Resolution is saying) the UCPN(M) and the revolutionary forces can do so.

Thus—to give this argument its "very best" interpretation—by persevering in this process, and further establishing itself as the most consistent representative and fighter for a Constitution that embodies the interests of the people (and supposedly the content of the new-democratic revolution), as well as for civilian supremacy over the military and for national sovereignty, the UCPN(M) will be able to outmaneuver the reactionaries, including the reactionary forces at the head of the army (Nepalese Army), and in the event of a reactionary armed revolt and/or attack from foreign interventionists (in particular India), the UCPN(M) will be able to split the Nepalese Army, winning over at least much of its ranks (including those that have been integrated into it from the People's Liberation Army [PLA], assuming that integration proceeds) while at the same time rallying a broad united front in society, to carry the new-democratic revolution forward to victory, laying the basis for advancing on the socialist road.

Again, this is giving this argument its "very best" interpretation. But, even doing so, it must be said that this whole outlook and approach is full of, and in fact is based on, classical revisionist illusions.  As a basic point of method, it ignores (or discounts) the general dialectical materialist understanding that things can, and often do, turn into their opposite—and specifically how this has frequently occurred when revolutionary forces have been drawn into the dynamics of electoral/constitutional processes, without smashing and dismantling the old, reactionary state, and the whole way in which the dynamics of such a process sap and rob the revolutionary forces of their initiative and strength. (My sense of this has been reinforced by reading some analysis, done in the service of imperialist strategic thinking, on how to derail and ultimately defeat people's wars in the Third World—and in particular the emphasis such analysis gives to the importance precisely of drawing the erstwhile armed insurgents into the electoral-constitutional framework and dynamics.) 

Even if it were to be the case, in the specific conditions of Nepal today, that the reactionaries became restless and impatient with the course of things—even if they felt that the continuation of things in the current governmental/constitutional framework were not leading things in a direction favorable to them, and therefore they had to bring an end to this process through some kind of coup/military action (which has happened in situations of this kind when other parties have proceeded on a course similar to that now being taken by the UCPN(M))—it seems unfortunately clear that the orientation and approach of the UCPN(M) would leave them without any real means of dealing with this, and that the outcome would be one where they would be smashed and decimated.

This whole orientation and approach of the UCPN(M)—again, even giving this its "very best" interpretation—ignores (or discounts, in the name of the particular and supposedly unique circumstances of the situation in Nepal), a vast amount of historical experience where attempts at this kind of (revisionist) strategy have led to disastrous results for the revolutionary forces.  Indonesia in 1965—where a numerically strong and politically influential Communist Party was essentially annihilated by a reactionary onslaught, carried out by the Indonesian army with the direction of the American CIA, in which somewhere between half a million and a million people were massacred—is perhaps the most devastating, but by no means the only, such instance.

It seems clear that, in the situation of Nepal now, it is correct to seek to rally broad forces against foreign interference and the potential of foreign intervention, and it is even correct to make serious attempts, as a subordinate TACTIC, to split the reactionary forces, including the reactionary army; but to raise this—and the latter in particular (splitting and winning over sections of the reactionary army)—to the level of a STRATEGY is completely erroneous, and very seriously courts disaster.  One need only ask:  What if these attempts (to split the reactionary army, etc.) fail, while one has made one's whole approach dependent on this...then what?  And it does seem very clear that there is no other dimension in which real and serious preparations are being made by the UCPN(M) for an actual showdown with the armed forces of reaction.  Mass and militant mobilization of youth, in the urban as well as rural areas, for example, could be an important element of an overall strategy for actually carrying the revolution forward, and preparing for the decisive showdown with the armed forces of reaction; but this in itself is not, and cannot be, a substitute for, or the essential means to, wield an organized and disciplined force that can meet and defeat the armed forces of reaction, domestic and very possibly foreign as well.

In short, all this—the overall orientation and approach being carried out by the UCPN(M), even giving this its "very best" interpretation—still falls within the category of seeking to "finesse," rather than to fully confront, and transform through the necessary struggle, very real and daunting contradictions.  This approach of the UCPN(M) much more embodies the potential for disaster than any prospect of successfully completing the new-democratic revolution, through smashing and dismantling the still-existing reactionary state and establishing a new, revolutionary state.

What makes things even worse is that the UCPN(M)—and, it seems, unfortunately, all its various factions, including even those which have been, in varying degrees, in opposition to the revisionist line of the Party's leadership—appear to be trapped within, and obstinately determined to remain within, the circular revisionist logic which characterizes the thinking of the UCPN(M) leadership.  And this leads to the dismissal of any essential challenge to this whole orientation and approach—even criticism raised from a revolutionary-communist perspective is discounted on the basis that it is just resorting to and regurgitating general principles (with which everyone agrees, of course!) while ignoring the particular and even unique circumstances that obtain in Nepal.  This facile dismissal of criticism that should actually be seriously engaged, and in fact united with and acted on, is an expression of all too familiar empiricism and pragmatism, as well as nationalism.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the prospect that even forces within the UCPN(M) which are themselves critical of the dominant line and leadership of that Party, will actually seriously rethink, and then break with and mount real opposition to, this whole course—the prospect that such forces will, in a timely way in the critical circumstances, recognize the validity of, and act in accordance with, the revolutionary-communist critique that has been repeatedly made of this whole orientation and approach, including through speaking to the essential particularities of the current situation—this prospect seems increasingly bleak.  The likelihood looms, and is growing, that the most compelling refutation of the revisionist line will turn out to be the practical reality of a disaster for the revolution and, in one form or another, destruction of the revolutionary forces (their full and final degeneration into revisionism and/or their physical decimation at the hands of the reactionaries), which this revisionist line is actually leading toward.

Nevertheless—and in fact precisely because this latter prospect, of devastating defeat, with its attendant demoralization and disorientation, not only for genuine revolutionaries but also for masses of people, in that country but also well beyond, is increasingly and ever more acutely posing itself—it remains crucial to wrestle with the question of how a decisive altering of this course, a real rupturing with revisionism, might be effected. As has been repeatedly, and very rightly, emphasized: In the current circumstances and given the current trajectory of things in Nepal, the real meaning and content of internationalist support is not acting as cheerleaders while the revolution is increasingly derailed onto a course heading toward a cliff and into the abyss, but instead a sharp and substantive criticism of this course, pointing to the urgently needed rupture back onto the revolutionary road. 

Such criticism has been made, repeatedly.  The question is now acutely posed: Will those who genuinely want to see the revolution in Nepal advance, rather than being decisively defeated, and who still might be able to fight effectively for the needed ruptures—will they finally take to heart this criticism and take up the substance of what it is raising, before it is too late?


* Resolution of the Central Committee of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), "Present Situation and Historical Task of the Proletariat" (2009).  [back]

 

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Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Letter from a reader on the special issue on the environment

Just wanted to briefly convey my positive impression of this special issue. I have now had a chance to look it over in hardcopy version and I think that we should feel very good about this and make concrete plans to use this broadly and also in a more targeted manner in an ongoing way (i.e. not just a couple of weeks and then stick on the shelf!).

I feel that this issue succeeds on a number of levels: it does give a wide "sweep" of the nature and critical dimensions of the crisis (including with its increased emphasis now on ecosystem collapses, tipping points, domino effects etc); it shows that these communists actually know what they're talking about in this sphere (this will surprise a lot of people who tend to think that communists or "leftist activists" tend to be grossly ignorant of such matters); it manages to convey from many different angles "why it should matter to you" (including for more basic masses who might not have recognized the full scope of the crisis and that these issues are objectively of great concern for them as well, and not just some kind of self-indulgent preoccupation of the middle strata); it makes the case why these problems cannot be fundamentally changed within the framework of the capitalist system which is the primary source of these problems and which can do nothing other than stand in the way of solving them (and it breaks it down in good clear style that everyone should be able to follow -- I thought the explanation of "externalities" was much improved by the way); and it gives a sense that these revolutionary communists really are proposing a radically different approach, one that has some real substance (is not a bunch of empty slogans) and that should be seriously examined and engaged. And it does so with some serious science and materialism, but not in a way that comes off "cold" or without heart!

I don't know if we all fully realize just how surprising and unexpected all this may be for many people, those whose conception of communists (if they think of them at all) is that of a bunch of narrow and dogmatic economists who idolize "the workers" and whose concerns are narrowly those of the "labor movement" and such...Here I am not so much talking about the slanders and misconceptions about the experience of past revolutions and socialist societies which so many have swallowed whole but more of the actual encounters many may have had with the reification and economism modeled and promoted by revisionists of different stripes. That's why this environmental issue (much like The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters in that respect) is, among other things, a clarion call announcing that these are a whole different type of "communists" than what they might have expected...

This issue can really help lift the sights and broaden the horizon of many among the basic masses and help to provide yet another important angle on what it could mean to be "emancipators of humanity" (this issue needs to get into the prisons!!!); and for those middle strata people who are already pretty passionately concerned about the environmental crisis, this issue can serve as a real bridge between them and the rev coms and help forge some important connections as it encourages all to think more strategically (and ultimately more seriously) about what it's actually going to take to save this planet.

I also think this issue is going to be very important to get out among international forces, as it can serve as a model of how not to neglect this global crisis (out of reification and nationalism), how to understand it in the context of lopsidedness, how to tackle it correctly as part and parcel of advancing communist revolution (as opposed to leaving this type of issue to assorted social democrats). We should not fail to recognize the "spontaneous internationalism" of sorts which the global dimensions of the environmental crisis tends to engender among many people...and we should build on that.

We should make concrete plans for the use of this paper beyond Earth Day and these immediate weeks. I don't know what is involved with printing and reprinting an issue but we should maintain some capacity for doing that as the issues get used up. This is one issue in society where there IS a lot of "activism," from grassroots initiatives and meetings to professional conferences, from small-scale local settings, to the international stage. We should try to conceive of this issue as going around the world. We should make sure to get it to major figures who are working in this field or broadly concerned with it and ask such people if they can help get this special issue around a bit, making clear that we would welcome global feedback and further dialogue on these issues. We should take a book like Rewilding the World and send an issue to at least one person in each of those forward-thinking global conservation initiatives, asking them to read, comment and share it around. These people already communicate with each other, sharing papers and ideas etc, in loosely organized global "networks," so that it is not uncommon for some informal "papers" to circulate informally and show up on kitchen tables in Costa Rica, Brazil, Kenya and Nepal, to take just a few examples. We should try to piggy back on that existing circuit!

And of course there are the many grassroot gatherings and conferences and scientific meetings in this country...and it wouldn't hurt to try to send an issue to the editors of various conservation and other environmental focus professional journals or mass-market magazines. If it became a bit controversial and provoked some to comment online or in print about this special issue, this would be a very good thing and could help spur yet another important dimension of our overall campaign. Of course there is also no shortage of locations for broad hawking of the "special issue on the environment"! Read what the communist revolutionaries have to say about the global environmental crisis and what to do about it!" on the street, at music festivals and farmers' markets etc -- but it would be good if some people could also take charge of some more "focused" or "targeted" distribution to individuals and organizations who are already "dedicating themselves" to a significant degree to trying to save the planet in one or another dimension.

That's all I have time for now, but again, mainly I wanted to say that I think the paper staff ended up doing a really good job and I hope this could also be conveyed to everyone who worked so hard on this issue. A lot of important things are constantly being written and debated in this critical sphere. But where else have you ever seen anything like THIS? And conveying genuine hope, but here based on actual scientific materialism which correctly identifies the root source of the problem and what is required to turn things around in a positive direction. Well done.

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Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Campaign Diary, April 25, 2010

New York

The campaign has begun to get into a higher gear here in NYC. On April 8 Raymond Lotta spoke to over 200 people at Columbia University on the history and future of communist revolution.1 I walked on to a campus well-decorated with flyers, then listened to Lotta's hard-hitting speech. The questions that followed were very good. Several people questioned, or argued, about the role of individual incentive in human nature, and you could tell Lotta relished getting these challenges. Others said that they were thinking about communism and socialism, but wondered why the revolutionaries in China ultimately lost2 or raised that while they thought that Lotta had some real points in exposing how the academic authorities have lied about revolution, why should they believe him? A high point – Lotta squaring off in debate with a questioner who favored the Columbia professor Jeffrey Sachs, the fair-haired boy of the institution and the popularizer of micro-lending as the solution for poverty in the oppressed nations.3 Lotta's blistering critique of the sacred cow of micro-lending had people gasping and objecting... but it was echoed a few days later when an exposure hit the NY Times on how micro-loans had become a major source of loan-sharking, by major, along with lesser, institutions of global capitalism. Still others raised how exactly a revolution could triumph in a country like the U.S., with all the complexity of its society and its behemoth-like power. Clearly, these students had never heard the views put forward by Lotta before and for more than a few, whether their initial response was positive or negative or just turmoil, he rocked their world.

Some people there had been building for Lotta's program at Harvard, and the emcee let the audience know that the campus paper there had refused to run an ad for the program and that campus police had arrested one organizer for posting a flyer for this on a bulletin board. Lotta had challenged the "leading authority on the Cultural Revolution" in academia in a powerful open letter, and the response of the institution – and the authority – had been to try to evade and/or shut down debate. I heard later that over 100 students turned out for the program up there that happened the next week. That's one airtight kingdom where people need more oxygen...and I heard that the people working the Raymond Lotta tour were trying to figure out more ways to get it to them before the semester ended.

Meanwhile back in NY, I talked a few days later with a couple of people who were bringing the campaign to Harlem and Washington Heights. I had talked earlier with one of the people about the enthusiastic response of people in the community to the way that the illegitimate and abusive actions of the authorities are being challenged by the revolutionaries, and how it was beginning to give the masses a sense of an "alternate political and moral authority" taking root.

Another person in the discussion had also spoken earlier to comrades in the party, describing the powerful effect that the Revolution talk by Bob Avakian had on the people he had showed it to in the projects. "But we've got to keep coming back to people," he told me, "because all this other stuff out here keeps pulling at them." He also told me about the important role that reading through Bob Avakian had played in his own development – particularly in going against the "biggest lie of all," that attempts at revolution have been a disaster. This ex-prisoner had his marked-up copy of the pamphlet Revolution And Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation with him, and said that he was part way through it – he was beginning to grapple with the section on Marxism as a science. We spent the afternoon wrangling over a wide range of theoretical questions – from the history of the revolution the Soviet Union and the role of Trotsky, to the relation between theory and practice (and how theory has to run ahead of practice), to the contradiction between people in this society who are trained to work with ideas and the masses who are locked out of this – and why and how communist revolution can and must overcome this.

That same week I was also able to meet with a number of younger revolutionaries and radicals to get into Bob Avakian's critical article, "There Is No 'Permanent Necessity' for Things To Be This Way – A Radically Different and Better World Can Be Brought Into Being Through Revolution." These young comrades were eager to get into what was being said there and how it applied to the campaign. One young guy said that when he read the part about how we are not yet, in any consistent and compelling way, giving people an understanding that the "world does NOT have to be this way, and we ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution," he said "oh, shit" to himself. "In fact," he said, "I had about five 'oh, shit' moments when I read this." The importance of this point on "we ARE BUILDING" was echoed by others in the room, and we got deeply into it. And that in turn raised a host of other questions, from how a revolutionary situation could come into being to what kind of a strategy would a revolutionary force use to overcome the enemy in a different situation in a country like this, one where millions were aroused and ready to put everything on the line for basic change.

A few nights later, I went to a program sponsored by Revolution Books, featuring the great Kenyan writer Ngugi wa'Thiongo. Here too a few hundred people came out to listen to Ngugi talk about his wonderful new memoir Dreams In a Time of War, and his lifelong work in "decolonizing the mind." If you haven't read Ngugi, you ought to, and this new memoir is a good place to start – Ngugi came of age in the years of the Mau Mau liberation struggle against the British in Kenya and then became a fierce opponent of neo-colonialism in Africa (that is, the way that the imperialist powers continued to rule, but now through African elites). This benefit wasn't officially part of the campaign, but it added into and cross-fertilized with all the different elements that make up the "mix" of the campaign – and it was a good thing to see a whole lot of people who were into Ngugi discovering Revolution Books for the first time and reading through copies of "The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have" – the campaign's foundational statement – as they sat waiting for the program to begin.

That was Thursday the 15th. The next Saturday morning I checked a blog of the scientist PZ Myers, who was writing about a forum he had participated in with Bob Bossie, the progressive Catholic activist, and Sunsara Taylor, the writer for Revolution newspaper, on morality at the University of Chicago. Myers wrote very favorably about the program, and from there I went to Sunsara's blog and caught up on her tour "From the Burkha to the Thong: Everything Must, and Can, Change – WE NEED TOTAL REVOLUTION!" She had given speeches during this same period at UCLA and in Hawaii that grabbed the audiences and, like Lotta's, sparked very deep questions and a powerful sense of never having heard this kind of thing before. I checked out some of the youtubes of her answering audiences at her Berkeley program – and you got the same sense that you did with Lotta that she relished taking on the most backward, but unquestioned, ideas out there that "everyone knows" – and very few have ever heard questioned.

Finally, on Tuesday night I went to a forum at Revolution Books throwing it open on Avakian's "There Is No Permanent Necessity..." article. I had been studying over and discussing the article with different people going into this, getting different takes and looking at it from different angles. And I had also been taking walks during the week and listening on my iPod to the 3rd part of the Revolution talk, about how a revolution is possible and how conditions could come together where such a revolution could happen and the challenges that would pose to a vanguard. A room of 60 or so people heard a presentation based on a very close reading of the article, and then discussed and debated over the essential message of the article, and how it applied. There was some interesting back-and-forth wrangling, and then a comrade used the new issue of Revolution on the environmental emergency to make a very clarifying point: "there's a lot that this issue does, including exposing the depth and dimensions of the crisis... the role of capitalism in causing this and its inability to solve it... the communist view toward the environment... but most of all, what comes through, including in the way it lays out the solution, is the fact that things don't have to be this way...a whole other – and far better – way is possible."

As I left the bookstore people were still discussing and debating, and setting up meetings to make plans for the upcoming May 1 march. The goal: make a major new impact with the message and call that set this whole campaign off, and has to animate it throughout: "The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have."

Two weeks that were beginning to feel more like a campaign... Now let's step it up!

1. Lotta's speech is titled "Everything You've Been Told About Communism Is Wrong, Capitalism Is A Failure, Revolution Is the Solution." The speech has been given at New York University, University of California at Los Angeles, University of California at Berkeley, University of Chicago, Columbia University and Harvard University. [back]

2. China was a genuine socialist country under revolutionary communist leadership until the counter-revolutionary coup d'etat that followed one month after Mao's death in 1976. A faction within the Communist Party set about re-establishing capitalism, while keeping the name of socialism. [back]

3. Micro-lending is the practice of extending small loans to artisans (embroiderers, tailors, etc.), often at high interest, to build up a class of petty entrepreneurs. Often this is targeted toward women and is promoted as the way to bring liberation to women in the oppressed nations and spark development. In fact, these loans serve to build up a few people as petty capitalists (and these petty capitalists use child labor and the super-exploited labor of other impoverished women to make their profits) while enchaining many others into debt servitude; as for development, this practice reinforces the ways in which the oppressed nations are locked into dependent, unequal and oppressive relationships to the imperialist powers. [back]

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Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Support... Sustain... Revolution

We ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution, concentrated now in mounting the campaign: The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have. The point: to familiarize millions with the goal and character of communist revolution, as it has been reconceived by Bob Avakian, to inject this into the discourse in a radically creative and urgent way, and to make known very broadly in society the leadership of Bob Avakian—giving people a sense of the work he is carrying out, his history and character as a rare and outstanding communist leader, and—on the broadest level—his connection to revolution... and through all this to begin forging a core of dedicated, ardent fighters for this revolution.

We ARE INITIATING a new stage of communist revolution—with a leader, Bob Avakian, who has analyzed both the overwhelming achievements of the first stage of the revolution, and the significant shortcomings and problems... and developed a new synthesis that can take things further. And this paper is a major outlet for that new synthesis, both its foundations and basic principles, and in its ongoing development.

Today Revolution newspaper and the online edition is a lifeline and scaffolding for this movement. Thousands of people already read this newspaper every week—including many, many people in countries around the world—from those who value its unique analysis of events, to those who are learning what is worth living, and dying for, through its pages. It is an entry way for many thousands more—and potentially for tens and then hundreds of thousands more.

Your financial support is URGENTLY needed to enable this paper to flourish and develop, and indeed to continue its regular publication.

This is a time when the future is openly in the balance. After Copenhagen... and in the midst of brave people refusing to take it any more, from Iran to Oakland to the universities in California... there is a crying need for a vision, for an analysis, that reveals the real inter-connections between things, and that shows a real way out.

The restless and dissatisfied, the questioning ones, will hear about the "tea party" movement, they will be inundated with quasi-fascist conspiracy theories on the one hand and the killing confines of choosing between Republicans and Democrats on the other.

But will they get to read analyses that actually lay bare the real causes and real solutions of the horrors of today, and the greater horrors in the making? And will they not only learn about the horrors, but also the potential heights of humanity? Will they hear about Avakian's vision of revolution and have a chance to get to know what this rare and unique leader is all about? Will they be exposed to the movement for revolution that comes to life in its pages, spreading its advances, analyzing its problems, and criticizing itself where it falls short? Will they learn that there is a party that is actually and actively preparing people to make a revolution that could really bring about the changes that we need?

Only if you support this. Act—supporting this paper in both its print and online editions, and winning others to do so, is vital work toward revolution. Sustain this paper every month! Donate now!

How to donate/sustain:

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Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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An Historic Contradiction: Fundamentally Changing The World Without "Turning Out the Lights"

Introduction:

Recently Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, drew attention to the following contradiction and then invited some people associated with or with responsibility in regard to the Party to respond with their thinking on this contradiction. Avakian wrote the following:

In the polemic against Alain Badiou's political philosophy in the online theoretical journal Demarcations, the following concise indictment is made of Badiou's ultimate reformism, and of reformism in general:

"And the world stays fundamentally unchanged. Capitalism-imperialism continues humming in the 'background,' crushing lives and destroying spirits in its meat-grinder of exploitation. And the horrors continue unabated."

This is our standing and powerful refutation of every other trend in the world. On the other hand, the way that a lot of people look at what we're about—and not entirely without justification—is: "Here come the communists, turn out the lights, the party's over."

All this embodies a real, and profound, contradiction that we must continue to wrestle with.

****************************

We are excited in this issue to run the following responses to Avakian's invitation.1

1. Editor's note:

The following replies were originally written as personal letters and hence assumed a certain "common language" between Bob Avakian and the correspondent. As a result, there is a lot of "shorthand" used. Sometimes the meaning of these terms are explained in context, or are otherwise clear; at other times, this may not be so. Some of those terms include:

New synthesis: the basic breakthrough in communist theory developed by Bob Avakian, in the dimensions of philosophy and method; internationalism; the character of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of socialist society as a transition to communist society, including the particular concept of "solid core with a lot of elasticity"; and strategic approach to revolution. [For more on the new synthesis, see especially the Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.]

The 4 alls: this formulation was often used to drive home the all-round character of the communist revolution by the Chinese communists who sided with Mao during the last battle to prevent capitalist restoration in China. (Capitalist restoration began with a military coup that occurred shortly after Mao's death in 1976, in which Mao's closest followers—including his widow Chiang Ching—were arrested and/or killed.) Marx's formulation (from The Civil War in France) was: "This Socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations."

The two humps: this is a formulation from Bob Avakian's mid-'90s talk "Getting Over the Two Great Humps: Further Thoughts on Conquering the World." These "humps " refer to the process of 1) getting to the point where the forces of proletarian revolution are strong enough to seize power in a particular country; and 2) getting to the point internationally where the overall "balance of forces" has shifted in favor of the proletariat and the question of actually getting to communism comes more directly onto the agenda.

The "Ohio": the "Ohio" process borrows a metaphor from the Ohio State marching band and its routine where the band members spell out "Ohio" in script in a marching routine in which the first members of the band traverse through, and spell out in turn, each letter of "Ohio"—the point being that people who come around the revolutionary movement go through a process of development.

Class truth: this refers to the notion widely held in the international communist movement that "the bourgeoisie has its truth, and the proletariat has its truth," as if truth itself had a class character. In reality, truth has no class character; an idea is true to the degree that it accurately reflects the objective world. Bob Avakian is the first communist who identified and criticized this notion of "class truth," which ends up constraining and ultimately blocking the search for what is really true.

The proletariat, due to its position as a class which has nothing to fortify in the present order, has every interest in being as thorough-going as possible in getting to the truth of things; and the science of communism, and its outlook and method of materialist dialectics, is the best method for getting at the truth; and in these senses it can be said that communism is both partisan and true. But it does NOT follow that communists are always correct in their observations and conclusions, and that non-communists are never correct; relatedly, all statements must be judged on the degree to which they correspond to reality, and not who says them or what (often narrowly conceived) interest they seem to serve.

Reification: literally, turning a process into a "thing." As it applies to the proletariat, this refers to a view, also more or less explicitly unchallenged in the communist movement until Avakian's criticism, that confounded the fundamental interests of the proletariat as a class and the sentiments, views, and programs that conformed with those fundamental world-historic interests with the position, sentiments, views and programs that find a following among this or that section of the proletariat at any given time.

Reductionism: a philosophical method that reduces complex phenomena to a single determinant cause—e.g., reducing the causes of complex social behavior to a gene (or set of genes) and ignoring the social factors that come into play in shaping social behavior and constraining the forms it can/might take. This is linked to positivism, a philosophical school that limits the search for truth and the scope for statements about the dynamics of reality to immanent causes. Such views are often contrasted to the metaphor used by Bob Avakian of truth being like a multi-level, multi-layer, constantly moving map.

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Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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What Is Communist Revolution?

It is this system that has got us in the situation we're in today, and keeps us there. And it is through revolution to get rid of this system that we ourselves can bring a much better system into being. The ultimate goal of this revolution is communism: A world where people work and struggle together for the common good...Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings...Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.
This revolution is both necessary and possible.

From: The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have
A Message, And A Call,
From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #200, May 1, 2010


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Who Is Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party?

In Bob Avakian, the Chairman of our Party, we have the kind of rare and precious leader who does not come along very often. A leader who has given his heart, and all his knowledge, skills and abilities to serving the cause of revolution and the emancipation of humanity. Bob Avakian came alive as a revolutionary in the 1960s—taking part in the great movements of those days, and especially working and struggling closely with the most advanced revolutionary force in the U.S. at that time, the Black Panther Party. Since then, and while many others have given up, Bob Avakian has worked and struggled tirelessly to find the way to go forward, having learned crucial lessons and built lasting organization that could continue the struggle, and aim to take it higher, while uniting with the same struggle throughout the world. He has kept on developing the theory and strategy for making revolution. He played the key role in founding our Party in 1975, and since then he has continued the battle to keep the Party on the revolutionary road, to carry out work with a strong revolutionary orientation. He has deeply studied the experience of revolution—the shortcomings as well as the great achievements—and many different fields of human endeavor, through history and throughout the world—and he has brought the science and method of revolution to a whole new level, so that we can not only fight but really fight to win. Bob Avakian has developed the scientific theory and strategic orientation for how to actually make the kind of revolution we need, and he is leading our Party as an advanced force of this revolution. He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world. The possibility for revolution, right here, and for the advance of the revolution everywhere, is greatly heightened because of Bob Avakian and the leadership he is providing. And it is up to us to get with this leadership...to find out more about Bob Avakian and the Party he heads...to learn from his scientific method and approach to changing the world...to build this revolutionary movement with our Party at the core...to defend this leadership as the precious thing it is...and, at the same time, to bring our own experience and understanding to help strengthen the process of revolution and enable the leadership we have to keep on learning more and leading even better.

From: The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have
A Message, And A Call,
From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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