Setting the Record Straight: The Real Role of the Revolutionary Communist Party in the Struggle vs. Police Repression

October 6, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Over the past few months, there has been a concerted attack on the Party and its role in the struggle against police brutality. Some political forces have not only spread rumors, but have actually accused the Party or people associated with the Party of criminal acts, or—either alternatively or at the very same time—of being police provocateurs. THESE SLANDERS ARE LIES. THOSE WHO SPREAD THEM ARE LYING.

In addition, and even more serious, some people and forces have made physical threats, attempted to organize physical attacks and actually have carried out attacks. At times this has included fingering people for the police and actively working to help the police. SUCH ATTACKS ARE OUTRAGEOUS AND MUST BE OPPOSED, AND ACTUALLY RENDER AID TO THE POLICE AND POWERS-THAT-BE. SUCH COOPERATION WITH THE POLICE MUST HAVE NO PLACE IN ANY MOVEMENT THAT REALLY OPPOSES POLICE MURDER, ABUSE AND BRUTALITY.

Not only that: such slanders, threats and attacks are designed to enable, or in any case could objectively enable, the state to escalate the attacks on the Party and those who support and work with it to even more serious and grievous dimensions. These kinds of slanders and this kind of atmosphere played a major role in creating a situation during the 1960s and '70s in which poisonous conflicts were fomented by the FBI and other organs of the state, and important invaluable leaders were killed off, with the authorities able to hide their hand and blame it on “internal conflicts.” These slanders and attacks are also designed to create a situation where honest people who should know and do better—who would defend people against open attacks by the state—retreat into confusion.

The terrible damage done by this includes the assassination of Malcolm X, in which the outrageous slanders and threats against Malcolm coming from members of the Nation of Islam and their newspaper enabled the FBI and police to conceal their role in Malcolm’s murder. It also includes numerous incidents around the Black Panther Party, including the murder of Panther leaders Bunchy Carter and John Huggins by people associated with the cultural nationalist US group. And there are literally thousands of other such incidents, not so well-known, which were orchestrated in the same way.  This is STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE of the people who run this system—the “power structure”—the imperialist-capitalists.

Such slanders and threats were part of the whole “toolkit” of the FBI, a fact which only came to light in 1971 with the exposure of the FBI’s “COINTELPRO” program. These bitter and costly lessons, paid for with the blood of great leaders and the despair and suffering that came in the wake of all this, is today ignored by too many who know it, and not known by too many who should. Those engaging in these slanders are doing something very criminal, counter-revolutionary and dangerous and need to STOP.

Right now such attacks are particularly focused on Joey Johnson, as well as some supporters who are in Ferguson. These, again, are outrageous. And again: they must stop, and honest people, whether or not they agree with everything about the RCP, must oppose them.

Of a somewhat different order, but also doing damage and great harm and often working in tandem with the first, is a second set of lies: the notion that the Party is a bunch of people with no connection to the masses who care only about self-promotion. THESE TOO ARE LIES AND OUTRAGEOUS DISTORTIONS. Anyone who had a serious attitude—who actually looked into our history and practice going back 40 years and more, who read our press or examined our positions—would see this in a minute. But particularly in today’s culture of snarkiness and the attitude of “I-read-it-on-the-internet-and-I’ve-heard-it-around-so-it-must-be-true,” this has confused some people. To that end, we have included here for people’s reference a brief summary of the Party’s history in this struggle. Left to stand, this lie undercuts and destroys the unity needed to actually stand against a common enemy and STOP the horror of mass incarceration and police murder. And it creates the attitude where people stand back and do nothing when the state goes after revolutionaries and radicals who stand against it.

What Actually Happened in Ferguson

Much of this current round of attack has focused up in and around Ferguson. On August 9, Michael Brown was wantonly murdered by the cop Darren Wilson and his corpse was left lying in the streets of Ferguson, like so much trash, for hours. Immediately on hearing this, Party supporters came down to the city to join with people who were standing up—as they should have, and as did many other people. Throughout that time, the Party stood with those who made sure through the fierceness and unquenchable determination of their struggle that this murder would not be covered up, not be tamped down by yet another round of the dead-ends of voter registration drives, lawsuits, investigations and everything BUT justice for yet another callous murder of an unarmed Black person by the police.

This stand in particular incurred the wrath of two kinds of people and has been the proximate cause of the threats, attacks, slanders and lies that made this article necessary. The first are those who outright work in or for the system (Ron Johnson, who is after all nothing but a PIG, Antonio French, the politician whose great claim to fame seems to be that when police in his district murder somebody they give an excuse for it; Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo, mouthpieces for the ruling class media; etc.); and the second are those who are not themselves part of the power structure but still wish to steer masses of people away from defiance and rebellion and into the tried and untrue meaningless dead ends of voting, “conversations,” “working through the Justice Department,” etc.

As for the cops, politicians and top news commentators, these people are enforcers of the system, pure and simple. There is no common ground with them. As for those who attempt to police the masses and attack the revolutionaries for standing with those masses—they fear the specter of the people rising up much more than they hate what the police do every day; this is why you see them doing the work of the police, telling the people to go home, fingering those who they claim are agitators, etc. They cannot conceive of anything beyond reforming this system, and more than anything they want “in” on it, and so they also fear and hate talk of revolution—especially as this gets a hearing among the people. Such people need to be sharply struggled with to see the consequences and implications of their actions and to get off them, and to be won over to at least friendly neutrality. Finally, all this has led to confusion of those who seem content to believe anything that they see on the Internet, who are not driven to find out the truth for themselves, and who just “go along” with the crowd—and this too does significant damage to the actual crucial fight that must now be urgently waged.

Those in the streets, the defiant ones, see no place for themselves in this system—they understand on a basic level that there is no future for them, and when the outrages just get to be too much and the chance comes to stand up against these outrages they fearlessly do so—these represent the hope for real change, if they are given leadership and support, if they are worked with to see the source of the problem and its solution, and if work is done to rally people very broadly to support their righteous stand. To the accusation that we have worked with and supported and provided leadership to these forces, we plead “innocent as charged.”

The Party’s Aims and Objectives

The RCP works with and stands with the masses to resist police terror and mass incarceration all over the country, in many different forms, AND we work to expose the real source of the problem—capitalism—and the real solution—revolution. These two aims flow out of a single place: our implacable opposition to the horrors that are brought down on masses of people based on our deep conviction that not only is this totally unjust and illegitimate, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We could get to a whole new situation where the police terror that comes down on masses could be ended—through REVOLUTION. This understanding not only leads us to be at least as outraged as anyone else by these horrors, and at least as driven as anyone else to end them… it also leads us to grasp that UNLESS people are inspired and organized to stand up against these, they will be driven down and broken, unable to wage the larger struggle for emancipation. And we understand—through actually digging into WHY police terror and mass incarceration has grown like a cancer these past four decades, how this is linked to the capitalist system—that unless this is stopped, what is now a “slow” structural genocide could be escalated at some point into a fast, horrendous “final solution.”

Our aims and objectives in entering into these struggles are:

  1.  to build the strongest, most determined and broadest possible resistance to police terror and mass incarceration…
  2. to build up the people’s consciousness and fighting capacity against the enemy (the state—that is, the governmental structures of violent repression and decision-making), with particular emphasis to organizing and standing with those directly under the gun…
  3. at the same time, to reach out broadly to many, many others in all walks of life in society to go against the demonization and isolation of those on the bottom who are the objects of this terror and imprisonment…
  4. to instill in millions a sense of the systematic character of all this and the total illegitimacy of a system that requires this…and
  5. through all this to both change the terms in society in such a way that the rulers are put on the defensive and forced to back off on this program AND to prepare people, in their millions, to actually make revolution and DO AWAY with this madness at the earliest possible time.

All this flows out of and is part of our strategy to actually make revolution in the U.S., at the earliest possible time. People can and should check out our explanation of this strategy: “On the Strategy for Revolution.” In another sense, this strategy is concentrated in the slogan “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.”

Does this constitute a hidden agenda? No, it constitutes a larger agenda. And, anyway, so what? “Having an agenda” is far from unique to the Party! As one minister working within a coalition put it, “look, everyone in here has an agenda—I’m a Methodist minister and I’m coming from that point of view.”

Methods and Principles

As part of building the fight to actually STOP this outrage right now we work with many different people and political forces. We come together and make plans on how to unite in common struggle against a common enemy. And within that, there should be a spirit of lively wrangling over differences. If done in the right way, with largeness of mind and generosity of spirit, this kind of wrangling actually deepens the unity of any group of people working together.

At the same time, there should be and must be a few simple principles of what does NOT go in this movement. One of those principles, which everyone should be able to agree with, is this:

Differences among groups should be struggled out in a principled way. There must not be physical threats, let alone physical attacks, against anyone in the movement to end these outrages. Nor can there be accusations of working with the police—being a provocateur or informant—without actual evidence. And as for “working with the police,” there are often instances where it is necessary to negotiate permits, etc.; but in no instance is it ever permissible for people in struggle to finger, or turn over, others to the police or to speculate to the press—who often work closely with the authorities—about someone else in the coalition. Such activity should actually be cause for barring people and individuals from the people’s movements, until they renounce and change these practices.

Where We Are Now

Let’s face it: any honest review of the Party’s history over literally decades leading up to today would have to conclude that, as one minister put it, without the RCP this struggle would be far weaker than it is. However, because most people don’t know the history of the Party in this struggle, we have included an appendix going into this.

In April of this year, the RCP united with the initiative coming from Carl Dix and Cornel West for the Month of Resistance, now going on. 90 people, representing individuals and groups, met in April to hammer out a call for the Month. As of Sunday, October 5, 327 people have signed this call and hundreds are working actively on it in many different ways. Artists, including Alice Walker and Chuck D, have contributed important efforts. Clergy have begun to give sermons, as part of a concerted effort to bring religious communities into, or further into, this struggle. Students have taken up different plans on different campuses, including building mock prison cells, holding symposia, group “hands-up” pictures, and other efforts. Plans have been made and are going forward for massive demonstrations on October 22. And, while called by a coalition of other groups, the forces organizing the Month of Resistance (the Stop Mass Incarceration Network), including the Party, have enthusiastically endorsed the weekend in Ferguson.  There is a great deal at stake here in making this month a real blow against this whole genocidal program, a massive STOP sign right in the face of U.S. society.

Right now, as we said earlier, we are, with many other people and groups, working hard to make October a Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror and the Criminalization of a Generation. To actively work to wreck this effort, as some are doing, is unconscionable and shows only that they hate revolution and resistance more than they do the system and its horrors; to stand aside based on rumors and hearsay, to fall for the distancing carried out by others, some of whom are in league with the authors and perpetrators of these horrors, without yourself digging into the facts, is, in its ultimate effect, just as bad.

The juncture is clear: we have an opportunity over these next 3½ weeks to change the terms of things in this society, to seize the political initiative to create a sea change in how people view this outrage—to take a huge step toward actually STOPPING this. Not mitigating it, not ameliorating it, not carving out alternative space within it for a few—but STOPPING it. There is much right now going on that is different and extremely positive—much of it that has been sparked by or influenced by the call issued for the Month of Resistance and much that is independent of that and welling up from many different quarters. There is tremendous potential.

But to realize this potential—to really take this giant step toward changing the very terms in which millions of people view what is just, what is legitimate and what must be done—we must all go much further. That will take many, many people and political forces from a very broad diversity of viewpoints working together, in many different kinds of activities. Let’s DO this. Let’s honestly struggle over differences, learning from each other and developing our individual and collective understanding of the problem… but let’s most of all really go forward with the broadest, most united fight possible against a common enemy that is killing people and mutilating spirits even as you are reading this.

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