Revolution #162, April 19, 2009

A Revolution in Ideas… For a Radically New World!

In a world where war, torture, and mass murder are justified by a morality that calculates the lives of Americans as worth more than the lives of others...

In a world where the ability to feed every human being on the planet starkly coexists with a billion people living in chronic hunger...

In a world where everything is turned into something to be bought and sold...

A restless stirring for something entirely different emerges again and again.

And even as the memo has gone out that the parameters of “hope” and “change” are determined by a new face atop the empire, people all over the world seethe with discontent, anger, and a feeling deep inside that there must be a better way that human society could be organized—that another world is, and must be, possible.

Anyone wanting to make that world immediately confronts two things. There is the repressive force of the powers-that-be, brought to bear against any challenge to its authority—as happened at the New School in New York last week, when police brutalized demonstrators and arrested over 20 people for peacefully occupying a building in protest; or as is going on in Oakland right now, where a young revolutionary faces years in prison for daring to protest the wanton police murder of a young Black man, Oscar Grant.

But there is also confrontation in the realm of ideas.   Right now, there are struggles in the arena of the university and academic freedom; in the realm of morality, science, religion and world-outlook; on the question of complicity versus resistance; over how to understand and evaluate the whole first stage of communist revolutions, in the Soviet Union and China—what they accomplished, and why they were defeated; on the question of whether the racist oppression that has marked American society since its foundation has been transcended, or morphed into new, potentially more dangerous forms; and on many more fronts besides. It is a coincidence—but not an accident—that articles from all these different arenas of the struggle over ideas came in to us and are running in this issue of Revolution; there is ferment in society over real and unreal, right and wrong, and what kind of world we want.

But the most important struggle in the realm of ideas today focuses on the kind of change we need, the theory that can guide that change, and the leadership that we have to carry forward that radical transformation.  We state clearly: we need a revolution.  And there will be no revolution that is not grounded in the work being done by, and the leadership being provided by, Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

To that end, we are featuring in this issue a critically important essay: “An Open Letter to the Revolutionary Communists and Everyone Seriously Thinking About Revolution: On the Role and Importance of Bob Avakian.” Written from the perspective of looking back on the past 40 years, and taking stock of what humanity really needs to get beyond a world of capitalism, classes, and all that goes with that, the article argues with depth and candor (and not a little humor) that Bob Avakian “has not only stayed the course, but has produced a ‘body of work’ containing a new synthesis of our understanding of the science of communism: a new level of freedom from which to engage and transform in a revolutionary fashion the necessity we are currently confronting.”

If you haven’t read Bob Avakian, now is the time.  Start with this open letter, let yourself be challenged by it, and then dig into his body of work, and his method and approach. If you are someone who finds the current world intolerable and sees the need for a radically different one, then you cannot be true to your own principles without seriously checking out and engaging with Bob Avakian. If you have begun to read him, this letter will give you a deeper appreciation—a platform from which to much more seriously engage what Bob Avakian has brought forward. [To get into Bob Avakian’s works, go to or; and see the announcement below for table of contents of his new talk “Ruminations and Wranglings.”]

The last great upsurge of revolution, in the 1960s, was characterized by an atmosphere of fighting the power all day and debating ideas all night. Let’s do both, fighting the powers-that-be; engaging with the most advanced, radical and revolutionary ideas of the time; and bringing forward a new revolutionary movement and upsurge, one that goes further than even the best of the past.

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