Revolution #154, February 1, 2009
The System Inaugurates a New President…
What Will The People Do?
As many as two million people turned out in Washington, D.C. for Barack Obama’s inauguration, and many people gathered in other cities across the country on that occasion. If those people had poured into the streets and filled public places to denounce and resist the policies and crimes of the Bush regime, things in the world would be very different, and in a much better place.
And there is the very real and crucial question:
What will all these people do as it becomes more and more clear that Obama is dashing their hopes and shattering their illusions that he will act to bring about change that so many people long for—change that will really be in the interests of the great majority of people, here and around the world?
The imperialist rulers of the USA have a new face on their system. But they will continue to be compelled by their nature to bring down all kinds of hell on people.
In addition to the daily abuse, degradation, suffering and death they bring to people here and around the world, these rulers have an economic crisis that is sure to bring even much more hardship. The open-ended “war on terror” that Obama has embraced and assumed command of—in reality a war for empire—will require more “volunteers” to go off and kill and die. He has already said that he will send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan—and has used his “aura” to spread illusions about this war and politically demobilize people. This “war on terror” has already led to the deaths of up to a million Iraqis, and thousands in Afghanistan; and the massive death and destruction continues to drive people into the arms of Islamic fundamentalist forces, who do not provide any kind of positive alternative for the people of the world.
And not only will the oppression of Black people NOT be wiped away or even addressed in any meaningful way, things will get worse. We can already see this. What does it mean when someone like James Clybourn, the top-ranking Black Congressman, says that with Obama’s election “every child has lost every excuse”? It means that not only will this oppression be intensified, but that those who will be—as always—the hardest hit victims of the unemployment and poverty and homelessness that this crisis will bring... and that those who continue to be persecuted by a genocidal system of “justice” and imprisonment...that they will now be told that all this is their fault—and the white supremacy that still saturates American society will only become even more cruel.
Revolutionaries must, right now, struggle with those caught up in Obama-mania to immediately and urgently resist such crimes, to refuse to put aside their best ideals and “leave it to Obama,” and to instead actually do something to resist the horrors sure to come down, and already coming down.
Left to itself, tomorrow’s disappointment of today’s raised expectations will not automatically show people a way out of this madness. Disillusionment with Obama, when and if that comes, can lead to cynical passivity or to people giving up their original better ideals as being “naïve” and “foolish”...and becoming active supporters of the very crimes they once opposed.
But that too is where the revolutionaries come into the picture. As big questions are being discussed on street corners, classrooms, and offices, there are openings for answers that speak to the reality of the situation. Even as we are continuing to unite with people and lead forward resistance, we have to be actively and eagerly jumping into struggle with all of those caught up in this Obama-mania over the real nature of this system and what it will REALLY take to change it. We have to show them, in a living way, what it means to say that this is a SYSTEM. And we have to engage them, again in a living way, with what is meant by REVOLUTION—real revolution—and what their role in all that is and must be.
In a strategic sense, it is good that we are presented with this challenge. How could anyone imagine a revolution in the U.S.A. that did not have to go up against a lot of deeply embedded myths, values, and accepted lies? Let’s take this on and take this up with a materialist understanding of what this system must do to people and how utterly unnecessary is the suffering it imposes on people. Let’s jump into the fray—both the struggle to fight the power, and the struggle to transform the people, FOR revolution—with creativity and confidence borne of our dialectical understanding that the world is constantly changing, and that people’s conscious actions have a profound effect on that. And let’s get in there with the verve that comes from our grasp of the kind of society we are trying to bring into being, and the potential attractive power of that vision.
And there is an opening to do that now. In the current mix, and all the way through the process people go through confronting the reality of what Obama represents, we can and must reach out boldly and broadly to build a revolutionary movement that can bring about the real change the world needs.
To restate the crucial question we opened with: What will all these people do as it becomes more and more clear that Obama is dashing their hopes and shattering their illusions that he will act to bring about change that so many people long for—change that will really be in the interests of the great majority of people, here and around the world?
The answer to that—the potentially world-changing, world-historic answer—depends on you.
In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about “democracy”—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no “democracy for all”: one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality.
Bob Avakian, Chairman of the
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