Revolution #149, November 30, 2008
Embracing The All-The-Way Revolution
We received the following letter from a reader.
I am writing this letter in the hopes that my personal story can inspire other young people to struggle through contradictions and grasp the revolution. I feel it’s necessary, as someone really new to working in the revolutionary movement, to recount the experiences that ultimately led me to taking up the line of the Revolutionary Communist Party. After all, not many people expected my life to turn out this way, including myself...
In 1999, the New York City Police Department murdered Bronx-resident Amadou Diallo, shooting at him 41 times and unleashing a wave of anger and protest around the country. I heard of Diallo’s slaying not through the mainstream media, but through the collective effort of dozens of rappers who contributed to the CD Hip Hop For Respect.
At that time, I was only 14-years old and it seemed like I was a world away in terms of the lifestyle I was accustomed to. I had grown up abroad on U.S. military bases due to my parents’ involvement with the U.S. Army. Going into my freshman year in high school, I still pretty much accepted the “grand narrative” about the greatness of the United States (and the national chauvinism that goes along with that). I had never lived in the U.S., but had visited about half of the states on summer vacations that my family had taken when I was a small child. It was safe to say, though, that we only saw one side of the United States on these trips—the way that the more well off middle class lives.
So, here was news of an African-immigrant getting gunned down by trigger-happy cops in the slums of New York, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. “Damn, how could this happen in the land of the FREE?” I became curious. Were there other incidents of police brutality faced by so-called minorities? I found the answer to be “yes.” My next question dug deeper: Was this incident of cold-blooded murder an expression of something systematically wrong in U.S. society? The question to that answer scared me, because again, I found it to be “yes”.
At this time, the internet was expanding rapidly and I took full-advantage of that in educating myself. One of the websites I came across that had a profound impact on me from the first time I saw it was Revolutionary Worker (now Revolution, or revcom.us). Here was the online version of a newspaper that not only documented so many of the horrors that the U.S. government was inflicting both on its own people and masses around the world, but the articles also boldly put forth the vision of a NEW kind of social order, and a far better world. The vision put forth was that of socialism, in transition to communism. I had certainly heard of communism before. In fact, having spent some of my childhood in Europe next to so-called communists countries (which I now understand were never socialist), as well as having spent years in U.S. Army schools, my perception of communism was that it was something akin to “evil,” or at the best, something “unworkable.” However, Revolutionary Worker told a far different story, and showed that in reality the unworkable, decadent system that robs the majority of humanity of their most basic necessities and rights is CAPITALISM.
I would browse through the website frequently, but my political development was slow and cautious. After all, if I mentioned revolution to anybody, they would normally laugh, which I found was mostly out of their ignorance of what revolution really means. And there were so many different “radical” parties to try and sort out.
In college (while still living on a U.S. Army base), I finally read The Communist Manifesto, and perhaps somewhat prematurely, began calling myself a Marxist-Leninist. This ideological infancy expressed itself by my signing up to join an organization that turned out to be reformist, and revisionist: The Communist Party USA, or CPUSA. I received their political literature, but I found it quite strange that a party that was supposed to be revolutionary in its orientation was telling me to go out and support the Democrats in the general elections. After a few years of receiving their papers and magazines, I renounced my membership, and searched for a better way to contribute to emancipating humanity.
In 2008 I finally broke away from the so-called “military brat” lifestyle I had known for just about all of my life. I moved to the United States to pursue a career as a hip-hop artist. Often I had told myself that when I went to the U.S., I would check out Revolution Books, which was supposed to be where Revolution newspaper was on sale and works from the RCP, USA and its Chairman, Bob Avakian, were available. I walked into Revolution Books and with no exaggeration necessary for the sake of this story, it changed my life.
I began to deeply grapple with the line put forth in Revolution newspaper. I started to understand just how important an organ like Revolution is in building a revolutionary communist vanguard party. I read Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World by Bob Avakian, a work that brilliantly assesses the negative role that religion and all forms of superstition play in keeping people from the truth about the way the world really works, and from ultimately being FREE. This work confirmed to me the need to have a scientific, dialectical, and materialist worldview and I moved from being an agnostic to a full-blown atheist. I was also hugely influenced by Avakian’s Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, a pamphlet that really challenges a bourgeois-democratic outlook. Back in 2004, I actually did vote for John Kerry for president, believing that this “lesser of two evils” would be the better pick for working-class people. However, after reading Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, it is now crystal clear to me that this democracy is really a bourgeois democracy, or a bourgeois dictatorship. This is so important at the present moment, with so many people who wish to see real, fundamental change having been swept up into the embrace of president-elect Barack Obama. The reality is that no genuine change for the better can come about until the entire system, rooted in exploitation and oppression, is done away with! This is of so much importance to understand.
The most significant thing about hooking up with Revolution newspaper has been achieving a certain amount of ideological clarity, and being able to take this line out to the masses, as a result. This dynamic of theory-practice-theory is vital. Too often in the past I would read things that I thought were important, but I would very often not engage people afterward. All the work I was doing in the realm of ideas simply became my private information and stash of knowledge. This was (and is, in a general sense) problematic! Change cannot come about in the world by people simply “coming to consciousness.” Theory has to be actively applied to real life contradictions. I am seeing now just how difficult this can be. We are, after all, living in a non-revolutionary time and situation, and our work is certainly, in many ways, “going against the tide.” Let me be clear, however, that this work is also very fun, exciting, and rewarding. In fact, there is absolutely nothing more rewarding than dedicating your life to the development of a revolutionary movement that is truly capable of seizing state power and transforming the world!
At the moment, I’m looking for ways to contribute concretely, and one thing I am pledging to do is to become a financial sustainer for the newspaper. I would urge all who can to do the same—donating generously can go a long way in building the movement. Also, I would certainly urge all young people who wish to see a better world come into being, who crave to embrace freedom in their lifetime, to learn—learn about Revolution, learn about Bob Avakian, learn about the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Strengthen your knowledge of the Party’s line, strengthen your scientific understanding of the world, and embrace the struggle for a future where we have a world truly worth living in. Embrace the all-the-way revolution!
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