Revolution #201, May 16, 2010

The Oil Disaster, Arizona and Hastening While Awaiting Revolution

Sometimes really big things happen in the world that make millions of people sit up and pay attention. Recently, in the space of four days, two major events captured headlines and set off huge discussion and debate among millions of people.

The April 20 explosion of a British Petroleum (BP) oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico has resulted in what may become the worst man-made ecological disaster in human history. (We cover this on page 10-11. Plus online extras)

And SB1070—the law signed by Arizona’s governor on April 23 requiring the police to interrogate anyone they suspect of being in the U.S. illegally—has set off huge controversy and protests all over the country. (We go into this on page 6. Plus online extras)

There are always lots of things we can see bubbling beneath the surface—including “disasters waiting to happen” or reactionary movements pressing their agenda. But no one can predict exactly if, when and how such things will go to a new level and erupt overnight into a major event consuming and convulsing society.

So, lots of different kinds of people are outraged at an intolerable Nazi-type law and many are taking a “no business as usual” attitude—recognizing the terrible precedent this sets for the whole country and waging struggle to beat this back. This oil disaster has awakened many people—and should be intolerable for anyone who cares about the planet. And there is a need to build determined mass struggle around both of these outrages.

The Rulers Have No Real Solutions—But The Revolution Does

Think about what has happened, what has been revealed, with these two events. In both cases, the ruling class has no real solution to the problem posed. BP is scrambling around trying to figure out how to put a cap on this gushing oil—which they still haven’t been able to do. And no one in the U.S. ruling class is even addressing in any kind of for-real way the bigger problem this disaster highlights—which is that the capitalist system is dependent on fossil fuels due to the basic commandment of the system—profit above all.

And with regard to the so-called “immigration problem”—this is also something this system can’t really resolve. Because U.S. imperialism has, and can only, fuck up the lives of people in other countries even worse than what they have done in the U.S., forcing millions to desperately seek a better life in the U.S. The system needs super-exploited immigrant labor. And for the U.S. ruling class, growing numbers of immigrants coming to the U.S. from Mexico and other parts of Latin America are a problem because this threatens the social stability of this country which has been defined in large part as being a white-American nation. So the system institutes all kinds of repressive measures against immigrants which have much larger implications for all of society. At the same time as the system thrives on and can’t live without immigrant labor, the system’s very need for it and what they do to satisfy that need unravels their social stability and creates extreme volatility.

The fact is this system doesn’t and can’t solve the big economic and social problems facing humanity. But things actually don’t have to be this way. And when something like this BP oil disaster or SB1070 erupts in society—there is the potential for people to see and act on this truth. This is where the work of revolutionaries is crucial.

Things Don’t Have To Be This Way—And The Revolutionaries Have to Show That

Take both the oil disaster and SB1070. In both cases different plans and programs are being offered for what the U.S. government and the capitalist system should do. And there is intense debate and struggle among many different kinds of people, including, in the case of SB1070, over how to build mass protest. Revolutionaries need to get into the middle of all this. When we do compelling exposure of WHY such things happen... then people see to the root of the problem. When we give people a vision of a whole different way that these crises—as well as all the other outrages the rulers tell us are “intractable problems”—could actually be solved in a socialist society which has as its goal the emancipation of all humanity... then people see more clearly that things really don’t have to be this way. When we jump into these struggles and bring a combination of all this to bear… then there is potential for people to think in a whole different way about what is possible and desirable. This is why it is so important for people to get out there today in the midst of these developing crises.

These two mini-crises taken together are not a revolutionary crisis. But these are the kind of moments in which people can be won to see things differently and a defiant and questioning spirit can be built among the people. Again, this is why it is so crucial for revolutionaries to be in the midst of these crises, getting the RCP’s Message and Call, “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have,” and Revolution newspaper to people and engaging with them over the big questions of how humanity can actually solve these, and other, urgent problems. This is why it is so crucial for revolutionaries to bring to people the fact that we have a leader, Bob Avakian, who is willing and able to take the responsibility to lead people out of this hell. (See page 4-5 for “Bob Avakian on the Essence of Communist Leadership, and Bringing Forward New Leaders,” an excerpt from the REVOLUTION talk by Bob Avakian.) The Party’s campaign to spread the word about this revolution and this leadership has to reverberate into and then amplify back out of these major crises now racking society.

Looking To The Future... And Looking To the Past

Let’s look for a minute to the future, to what a revolutionary situation could look like—and then what this says about what revolutionaries need to be doing today. In fact, if we look at crises that break out today—like this oil disaster and the big upheaval around SB1070—we can see the outlines of the way different crises and struggles could come together on a whole different scale. And we can see the contours of how a really major crisis could actually provide an opening in which people in their millions would be looking for a way out. The right of the imperialist ruling class to rule—their legitimacy—could be brought into question. And people can be won, in their tens of millions, to struggle on the side of a revolutionary force that puts forward a program with real answers to the intolerable problems people face. For example, we revolutionary communists have beginning answers for how to stop the destruction of the environment. And we have an overall orientation and approach to fundamentally transforming the world and emancipating all humanity which could enable us to solve supposedly “intractable problems” like immigration in a way that would be part of overcoming inequality and exploitation—not reinforcing and exacerbating it… if we had state power.

This past week marked the 40th anniversary of the day Ohio National Guards murdered four Kent State students. (See “Kent State!...and the lessons for today,” centerspread) This happened at a mass protest in response to the U.S. escalating its war in Vietnam. And after the shooting at Kent, protests erupted on campuses all over the country. An important lesson from this is how things can take a leap almost overnight to a situation where literally millions of people go into motion against the powers that be. People’s thinking and their willingness to sacrifice for fundamental change opens up in a whole new way. The response to the Kent State murders and the mass struggle against the Vietnam War never reached a full-blown revolutionary contest for power. But there are important lessons to be drawn from all this with respect to how quickly things can radically change, in terms of what a developing revolutionary situation could look like AND what this says about the role of revolutionaries in such situations.

Flash back again to what is happening today. There can be different crises going on in society that all contribute to a kind of hot mix in which people’s faith in the system’s ability to rule is seriously being questioned. Think about the dynamic in which you have an oil/environmental disaster that can’t be fixed, an anti-immigrant law that sharply polarizes society—two things where the system cannot offer any real solutions.

No one can say what will happen with these two crises. But in part, depending on the work and orientation of revolutionaries in recognizing and fully seizing openings—struggle around these two things can gain in clarity and force, and spread. The future is unwritten, and what we do—how aggressively we respond—has a great deal to do with what happens.

And even if these particular crises do not take a leap to a more full-out crisis where the capitalists’ right to rule is called into question, whether and how revolutionaries work in the midst of all this right now to spread their message to millions, and organize thousands, including strengthening the core of passionate fighters for communist revolution, could have everything to do with what WOULD happen in the event of a major future crisis where everything really does “go up for grabs.” As the RCP’s Message and Call says:

“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.”

We ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution, working to bring a revolutionary people into being, with a backbone of those who have no faith in the system and are devoting their lives to resisting oppression and building up for the time when we can get rid of the cause of all this oppression. We have to be “hastening, while awaiting” the emergence of a revolutionary situation—actively attempting to influence public opinion and organize people to both hasten the emergence of such a situation, shape the character and ground on which such a crisis would be struggled out to resolution, and prepare to take advantage of such a situation to make revolution.

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