Revolution #146, October 26, 2008
Letter from a reader
The Elections, and Being Ready for Anything
I thought the cover article in the latest issue, “What Are You Gonna Do Now” is very good in speaking to and challenging—what ARE people going to do in the face of the continuation and even escalation of many things that deeply concern them, in particular people who are being swept into voting for Barack Obama. And the article really situates this election in the whole context and high stakes of the times and addresses what is the real solution? It also points to other possible scenarios besides Obama winning the election and the dangerousness of reactionaries labeling Obama the anti-christ; the possibility of a stolen election, etc. These questions are ideologically extremely critical to get into with people.
Secondarily, I wanted to raise questions about how oriented and prepared those who read Revolution newspaper regularly are for the range of possible outcomes to this election (and not just assume that the most likely outcome is the only one to think about). In particular, I think we have to consider what would happen if the elections are stolen from Obama in one form or another (real or perceived) and what such an outcome could give rise to—in particular, the kind of outrage this would give rise to, outrage which would be very justified even if based in large part on feelings that bourgeois-democratic ideals and rules had been betrayed. We can certainly unite with such outrage, even as we dig into WHY these kinds of things keep happening, why these fascists are so aggressive, and HOW a whole different program is needed to speak to the big underlying questions that continue to assert themselves in various acute forms. It is far from impossible that such an outcome to the election could lead to a constitutional crisis and even a potential legitimacy crisis. There is the added element of the national question in such a scenario, similar but even heavier than the disenfranchisement of the Black vote that went on in the last two elections as a way of “shaping” the outcome of the vote. I saw Chris Rock on TV and he raised the specter of the “rules being changed” to prevent Obama from winning and hinting at the outrage this would provoke among the base of the Democratic party, especially (but certainly not only) among the Black masses. Including among those who are not seeing Obama as ultimately THE answer to the oppression faced by Black people.
As Communists we should be orienting and preparing people for the full range of what could be the outcome of the election. Right now, really getting way out there with the special issue, “The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of the System and the Revolution We Need” and the new pamphlet by Bob Avakian, “Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy,” and this current issue of the newspaper and all the other important ways that a revolutionary movement is being built—all this will have a lot to do with how people look at all these questions and respond to developments expected or unexpected—this is the key and fundamental orientation.
On that foundation, I think we have to be alert for various developments, including the unexpected and what that could give rise to among different sections of the people and be prepared and able to speak to large numbers of people. There is a great deal of polarization around the elections. At the base of the Democratic party, it seems like there is a combination of rising expectations alongside unsettledness about what can actually change if Obama wins given the enormity of the problems that the imperialists have dragged the country into—for instance around the economy, the war in Iraq, etc. And among these same people, there is a fair amount of fear of the election being stolen in various ways. On the other side, there is a viciousness and animosity coming from right wing fascist types. I recently got a copy of an email written by a cousin which accused Obama of being a Marxist out to overthrow the government and institute socialism etc. The orientation to expect the unexpected and even unanticipatable needs to be part of how we are preparing to relate to the situation it seems to me.
In Chicago, Obama’s campaign has lined up Grant Park (the greater area of the park) for a victory celebration on the night of the election and they expect 100's of thousands to come there for it. I think we should turn the article “What Are You Gonna Do Now” into a leaflet to distribute widely at as well as the special issue of Revolution on “The Oppression of Black people...” in massive numbers. On November 4th, we should be out all day in key polling areas with the newspaper. IF the election is stolen or perceived to be stolen, it seems likely that the planned victory party could have a very different character and we should be oriented to speak to the developments and be in the mix and certainly not standing off to the side of what people will be going through. We need to help lead them—and here I don’t mean in a tactical sense—but in an ideological and political sense—the revolutionaries and those grouped around them could be thrown into having to fight against the stealing of the elections and yet do it from the standpoint of making a revolution and handle that difficult contradiction and tension well. Revolution newspaper having its own “election central” and being able to post analysis and leaflets on the web in real time the night of the election could be a major way to take this on in as big a way as possible.
Post election: I have seen that various forces are planning things in the immediate wake of the elections—possibly either exposing or attempting to influence Obama’s agenda as well as provide analysis and direction. For instance, on November 7th in Chicago, Rev. Jeremiah Wright is giving a speech at Northwestern University that is being advertised on different campuses billed as the State of the Black Nation. Also the NY Review of Books has an ad for a panel discussion on November 10th in NYC “What Happens Now? A Conversation on the 2008 election”. These events will be important to learn about how others are looking at the election results and to go to people with a real way out—revolution. Again, the issue on the Oppression of Black People would be very good to distribute, along with leaflets etc.
A potential fundraiser for the newspaper which someone came up with and which struck me as a great idea. Where there are a lot of the infamous “Wanted” t-shirts with Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rumsfeld on them – take them to the crowds exiting the movie W. since many people leave it wanting to indict the Bush regime for war crimes.
The S word – socialism is the word of the day as a result of the bailout and the attacks on Obama as a socialist by McCain/Palin (generally referring to taxes for social spending). This gives a big opening to speak to what socialism IS and what it is NOT. I could picture a sticker appearing on bathroom stalls, newspaper boxes, bus stops, phone poles – food for public thought. Maybe something like this:
WHAT IS SOCIALISM?
Is the bailout socialist? NO
Is Barak Obama socialist? NO
Is Venezuela or today’s China socialist? NO
WHAT IS SOCIALISM? After the socialist revolution made by a revolutionary people in their millions, the capitalist/imperialist class is stripped of its property and command over society. Socialism is a radically new and different kind of state power. Socialism as the transition to communism, leads to the emancipation of ALL humanity.
Socialism for the first time in history makes it possible to take hold of the collectively produced resources of society and use them in a rational, planned and society—wide way to meet human need and safeguard the planet. It is rooted in the conscious activity of tens of millions of people embarking on a road to dig up the roots of exploitation and oppression in every sphere, from production to social institutions to ideas in a process full of monumental challenges and real vitality and diversity. These are relevant and urgent questions.
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