A Percolation on the Crucial Importance of Ideological Work Today and Winning When the Time Comes

September 1, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From a reader:

BA in many of his writings and talks gives repeated emphasis on the need to carry out not only all-around political and organizational but also ideological work in the period before the development (and as part of hastening the emergence) of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people in the millions and tens of millions. And I've been thinking quite a bit about the relationship between the ideological work we're doing today and actually winning when the time comes (when there's a qualitative change in the objective situation). It's not the only thing since there's political and organizational work. And there's the work to continue developing the theory for a military doctrine that could actually defeat and dismantle the old system and its violent, repressive apparatus (when the time comes for that). At the same time, when you seriously confront all of what's involved in going for the seizure of power (and having a good chance of winning), then you do have to conclude that it is a very decisive question to be rupturing an ever-growing number of people from all sections of society (but in particular among the basic masses and basic youth) from bourgeois ideology and transforming their world outlook and method and bringing them forward as emancipators of humanity. We should not underestimate the role of communist ideology if we are serious about winning when the time comes.

Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation

Let's just look at one thing that would need to be confronted (and its relationship to ideological questions) once conditions have changed and it's time to go all-out for the seizure of power: the "savage destructiveness" which the imperialists (and other reactionary forces) will likely bring down without mercy. BA speaks to this contradiction in Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon, Part 2 (in the section "Some Further Thoughts Relating to 'On The Possibility for Revolution'") where he makes the point that the imperialists (and other reactionary forces) "will spare very little in their attempts to outright crush and pulverize any attempt at bringing a new society into being through revolutionary struggle, especially right where their base of power is." As an example of this type of "savage destructiveness" he talks about what the U.S. imperialists did to Fallujah (a city in Iraq) several years ago and how this was done to "exact revenge and to 'teach a lesson' to the people not only in that city, but in that country and more broadly in the world." He points out that "certainly in a situation in which their very power and ability to dictate and exploit throughout the world were being challenged in a frontal way, there is no question that they would unleash savage destructiveness and ruthlessness on a massive scale."

In the face of this, what would people do? How would people respond? Would people hold out? Would people withstand all this and fight from the rubble and turn this back against the imperialists and other reactionary forces? In addition, would people know real friends from real enemies? Would people reject bullshit or get pulled or fooled towards political and ideological appeals not just from the imperialists and other reactionary forces but from representatives of other strata advocating for perspectives and proposals that are not in the interest of the revolution and of humanity? What would people be willing to live and sacrifice for?

Military doctrine that takes all this into account would be decisive, and there is a need to study history and to further develop theory on this. But so is preparing people ideologically broadly in society and in particular among the basic masses and basic youth. It is a profound scientific truth, as BA puts it in the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! that "those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity." But for this scientifically determined potential to become real it is going to require a lot of political and ideological work and struggle today. And this is one of the big challenges confronting the vanguard right now—the need to work and struggle on this and to fight for this to happen.

Let's take this example: There's been a situation where for the past several decades those whom the system has "cast off" and "treated as less than human" have been killing each other in "gang warfare." Tens of thousands of people have died and tens of thousands more have been affected as a result of this. How will this bitter experience be overcome? How will everyone affected rise above all the pain and the deeply felt (but very misguided and harmful) feelings for wanting "revenge" and to take it out on others just like themselves? How does this potential "backbone and driving force" for revolution go on to play that role when the time comes to go all-out to seize power (under different conditions than today)? How does this "backbone and driving force" go on to fight FOR revolution and NOT end up fighting for something different, something less than the "emancipation of humanity"? And how do different sections among the oppressed not get turned against each other but instead come together and join the fight to defeat and dismantle the old system?

These are some of the questions that have been keeping me "up all night" and I feel are very much related to profoundly ideological questions we need to be going at right now. We need to raise the political and ideological level of the basic masses and basic youth to be emancipators of humanity and internationalists ("the whole world comes first") and rupturing people from bourgeois ideology whether it's "me first" or "my family first" or "my neighborhood first" or "my people first." A growing number of masses of people living and fighting for a new and radically different and better world, having a "largeness of mind" and a "self-sacrificing spirit" and NOT coming at things from "narrow interests and concerns" (as BA put it in his 1991 book More on "Could We Really Win? Prospects for Revolution"). This would count for a great deal in being able to take things all the way and not get "crushed and defeated."

And BA has set forward a model for how to go about doing this. And in particular I would like to make a call for everyone to really study BA's "A New Year's Message—A Call to Revolution" with all this—with winning when the time comes—in mind.

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