Discussing Why It Is That “You Absolutely Need A Vanguard Party To Make Revolution” and the Responsibility That Comes With That

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From a reader:

I led a discussion this week with a number of people at the core of a Revolution Club and close to the movement for revolution, on one of the most essential questions of the revolution, taking off from the Lenny Wolff article: “Why You Absolutely Need A Vanguard Party To Make Revolution.”

This was a very rich discussion and I wanted to share some of what we got into. (What follows is a bit long, but wanted to share excerpts from things that helped frame the discussion so others could have similar discussions across the country.)

First, I asked everyone to read the short piece from Lenny Wolff but also brought (and gave some people ahead of time) a number of other key documents.*

We broke the discussion into three parts.

First, is it true that you absolutely need a vanguard party to make revolution? If so, why? And if not, why not?

Second, what is the difference between a revolutionary vanguard party, in particular the Revolutionary Communist Party, and something like the Revolution Club—a very important form of mass organization for all those who think “humanity needs revolution and communism” and want to be part of “fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution.” (To use their two unifying slogans.) And a related question: What’s the difference between being a dedicated member of the Revolution Club and being in the vanguard party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA?

Finally, I talked about the urgent need now for new initiators of a new stage of communism and asked people to speak to how they saw this challenge and what they feel are the obstacles to those who are wrangling with these questions really making the leap required.

The discussion itself was a lot of fun, and people were all really glad to be there discussing this together—breaking bread, clowning each other, but also getting serious about such an urgent question for the revolution. (I’m going to put some people’s comments in quotation marks for clarity, but these aren’t exact quotes as I’m going from my rough notes.)

I opened by reading the Lenny Wolff piece out loud and then I read something from a talk from Bob Avakian released last summer: “The Strategic Approach to Revolution and Its Relation to Basic Questions of Epistemology and Method.” This is in a section where BA talks about the slogan, and orientation, that “We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution and Building the Party as Its Leading Core.”

The slogan that was out there for a number of years was “We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution.” But it’s been changed to say “We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution” with the addition of “and Building the Party as Its Leading Core.” Why? Because it goes back to the point that I was emphasizing just a little while ago—that, out of all the organized expressions of accumulating forces, the most important is the party itself—that without a party based on the science of communism as it’s been developed through the new synthesis of communism, without a party based on the scientific method and approach of dialectical materialism, none of this, none of the stirrings, none of the struggles, none of the questioning, none of the upheavals, none of even the convulsions in society can go where they need to go. And if the party is not being actively built all along the way, in dialectical relation with building the broader revolutionary movement, then even if a revolutionary situation should arise, or at least the immediate potential for one—even if society should be deeply convulsed in a crisis that the ruling class has no easy way out of and that every move the ruling class makes only makes the crisis worse for them—even if that should come about, there will be no chance of its getting resolved in a way that would be in the fundamental interests of the masses of people, not just in this country but in the world as a whole, and ultimately all of humanity.

I made the point that this is a pretty bold statement on BA’s part, in particular “that without a party based on the science of communism as it’s been developed through the new synthesis of communism, without a party based on the scientific method and approach of dialectical materialism, none of this, none of the stirrings, none of the struggles, none of the questioning, none of the upheavals, none of even the convulsions in society can go where they need to go.” So, is this true?

People spoke to this from a number of different angles: “The goal of communism is grounded in a scientific understanding of what’s possible, but that scientific understanding doesn’t just apply itself, people have to take that up in an organized way.” Someone who’s reading an important talk from Avakian, “Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon,” drew from some of what she’s learning in that talk: “Marx made the point that rights can never be higher than the present economic system and the culture that flows from and is conditioned by that. All the ways people think about what their rights should be is part of, and dominated by, that culture. And it gets in the way of understanding things scientifically. For example, the idea of ‘absolute democracy’ assumes that we’re all on an equal playing field. But we’re not, there’s all kinds of unevenness and again, their thinking is shaped by the present economic system. So you need a solid core of leadership to lead people out of all the fucked up thinking that flows from this system.”

A little later, that same person made the point that in society today, people are going to be led anyway, but they’re going to ultimately be led in the wrong direction without a scientific approach to where they are leading and how. This was part of a discussion on the fact that there is a division between those who work with their minds and have the time and space to take up all kinds of intellectual pursuits and those who are basically locked out of the realm of engaging with ideas, the divide between mental and manual. This is not something that is innate in humans but flows from the oppressive division between exploiters and exploited and can be done away with through revolution. Part of a big contradiction in making revolution is that the very backbone force for revolution, those who catch the most hell in our society, are those who have been locked out of working with ideas. Individuals are able to break through this in a lot of different ways, and in the discussion there was someone who trained themselves to take up revolutionary theory in very difficult conditions. But for this to happen on a large scale, you need leadership: to bring that to them, break it down, and lead and struggle with them to take it up—both the scientific understanding, and even more important, the scientific method... and ultimately, to break through this division on a societal scale, you need to get rid of the system that enforces this.

This is related to a point that is not so emphasized in the Lenny Wolff piece but is in the Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA: that the scientific understanding of the need and potential for revolution and communism has to be brought to people from outside of their daily experiences and even the struggle against the outrages of this society. Just because you suffer from oppression or righteously stand up against it doesn’t mean you automatically understand where that oppression flows from, how it’s connected to other forms of oppression, and what it will take to get rid it. For a lot of the people in the Revolution Club who have come forward in struggle against the narrow identity politics and philosophical relativism (that you only have a right to speak if you directly experience something or that different people have different truths and that there is no objective truth), this was a point that really resonated.

Another angle that people spoke to was the importance of leadership, and in particular, a disciplined vanguard party, to lead all of what would be required to actually make a revolution that has a real chance of winning. One person talked about how you need a vanguard to lead the struggle of the people to not be crushed. Someone else stepped back to why you need a real revolution and talked about the importance of a party in relation to going all the way vs. just riling people up. Also, that revolutionaries are up against a powerful system and there would need to be very strong and tight organization to lead the process required to defeat and dismantle the violent repressive force of this system when conditions come into being to make that possible. That’s not going to happen with a loosely affiliated group of people. He also talked about how at the time of a revolutionary situation, there are going to be different groups fighting for different outcomes. There will be a lot of complexity to traverse—uniting with key forces, but not so that you lose sight of the ultimate goal... continuing to expose, in that very intense time, why it has to go all the way to revolution and not stop short with reformist programs... through all this, repolarizing in a societal way.

Someone else brought it back to a point in the Lenny Wolff article that what kind of organization you think is needed has to do with where you’re trying to take things. Sometimes people say the party is imposing its ideas on reality. That’s a wrong understanding. If you really confront the world—the total horror people have to live through, and that it doesn’t have to be this way, you can see the need to make revolution. The party is a team of scientists analyzing that reality, and working to change it, not imposing its preconceptions on it.

In responding to this, a young woman talked about struggling with some people in her family about why you need a revolution, and why you need to be serious about what it would actually take to make a revolution. But it was clear that her relatives weren’t just disagreeing on strategy, but had a different assessment of the problem and the solution. Again: a revolutionary vanguard party has to keep bringing it back to, and leading people to see, what is the problem and what is the solution. And be leading people to act to bring that solution into being.

Taking further this point about the importance of a vanguard party being scientific and how people misunderstand this, one person said a friend of theirs raised a concern about parties, saying it can be like they’re using a roadmap but what happens if the roadmap gets outdated? Will they get so stuck in the map as it was that they lose sight of the road they’re on in the real world? Or just try to plow through the obstacles in their path that have been built since the roadmap was drawn? In speaking to this, the young revolutionary said that you have to keep updating your map, and a scientific approach to theory, and the ability to learn and synthesize from the masses of people and the changes in the world, enables you to do that. A scientific method and the political line that flows from applying that enables you to be more connected to the masses and the changing reality, not less.

Before we moved on, someone repeated a point that a student who is newer to the club made in a recent discussion: “Before I thought these were theories that you just read in books, but it’s amazing to meet a party that is applying all this to reality.” Summing up from this, the person in the discussion talked about what it really means that BA has rescued the communist project. There is the reality that we don’t have to live this way, and BA has put the whole understanding of how we get there on a much deeper scientific foundation—and THIS is what this party is fighting for in the world.

Coming off all this, we moved into the second question: What’s the difference between a revolutionary vanguard party and a mass organization, even a revolutionary mass organization?

One person spoke to the need for discipline, that a loose mass organization won’t have the kind of discipline that a revolutionary party needs. Another person talked about how mass resistance enables people to raise their sights, but that’s not the same as a scientific grounding in revolution and communism—really understanding the problem and solution. Again, you need a disciplined organization to carry out the line and put forward the leadership of the vanguard. Also, a coalition or mass organization won’t have the same unity over scientific method. Someone else talked about how you need to be constantly assessing whether the party is still on the revolutionary road, and you can’t determine that from just being “on the ground” so to speak. So you need some people, in particular leadership, to be stepping back to assess that and to be leading a vehicle for revolution, a vehicle that is getting organized to make revolution at the earliest possible time—to actually lead the most radical rupture out of the dynamics and logic of this system.

These were all very important points, but the essence of what a party is and how it functions wasn’t fully in the picture. The most important thing about a party is its line, and that its line is wielded through democratic centralism. People in the discussion had all heard this term and many had been in some discussion of it, but there wasn’t a basic understanding of what this is and how it works... why this enables a revolutionary party to be “the best instrument to know and change the world,” as a friend of mine once put it in simple terms.

To get into this, I read from the Constitution of the RCP on what democratic centralism is. This is in the section on “Principles of Organization” which include: “The line of the party is decisive,” “Basic orientation—‘Our collectivity is our strength,’” and “Democratic centralism.”

Our collectivity is expressed and realized through the collective functioning of the units and other bodies of the party on the various levels. The entire party is welded together as a chain of knowledge and chain of command on the basis of democratic centralism.

The leadership of the party sets out basic principles and analyses, focuses attention on the key questions before the revolution, and guides the party through rigorous investigation and vigorous discussion of all this. This enables a rich process of wrangling and debate to take place throughout the ranks on a scientific foundation. Once the line is set, everybody enthusiastically carries it out into practice. Both aspects of democratic centralism—the wrangling over line and its unified implementation—are essential to the whole process of knowing and changing the world on the most correct and profound possible basis. The principles of democratic centralism enable the party collectively to not only draw from, and to synthesize, on a scientific basis, the ideas of comrades in the party...but also to learn from the thinking of masses of people outside the party, and to develop and strengthen its ties with them, as an important part of carrying forward the dialectical process of deepening its understanding of reality in interrelation with its ability to lead masses of people to transform reality in a revolutionary way, toward the goal of communism.

One key aspect of democratic centralism is the unified and disciplined functioning of the party, which is grounded in its fundamental unity, in terms of ideological and political line. The disciplined character of the party is also reflected in the following rules of functioning: the individual is subordinate to the collective; the minority is subordinate to the majority; the lower levels are subordinate to the higher levels; and the entire party is subordinate to the National Party Congress, or to the Central Committee chosen by the Party Congress, when the Congress is not in session.

In the discussion, we broke this down further and got into the analogy of a team of scientists. If we all agree on a certain experiment and approach and then someone on the team goes out and carries out a whole different thing, it’ll mess up the results: We won’t learn what we set out to learn and we won’t advance in our ability to change things. With democratic centralism, you’re committed to an overall scientific process, consciously subordinating yourself to that and to what’s needed to actually bring about the emancipation of humanity.

One person raised a question about democracy and was surprised to understand the role of “democracy” in a communist party because we are about getting away from what’s bound up with class rule, and therefore the need for democracy and dictatorship. Someone else spoke to this, that you have to look at what is the content of democracy and the need for that kind of genuine and full debate and discussion over line, in interrelationship with the centralized aspect, its unified implementation... to lead the process to where you actually can get rid of classes and therefore the need for leadership and the need for dictatorships and democracies. (There is a lot of complexity bound up with all this, which I won’t get into in this correspondence, but it was an important part of the discussion. Also, people didn’t realize that BA has been elected as the Chairman of the Party by the Central Committee since its founding, not self-appointed, and I spoke briefly to a point in the Constitution that taking responsibility for the selection of leadership in the Party is akin to taking responsibility for the line of the Party.)

Here, people started to talk about what they’re wrangling with about all this. One young woman spoke very honestly about the difficulties of stepping out of your comfort zone. “Work, laziness and generally being comfortable pursuing my life. I haven’t been as willing to accept what I’ve come to know about reality, that this—a real revolution—is what it will take. I guess you can say in some ways, ignorance is bliss. But then you can see what difference it makes, and has made to me and my life, to get into this, to learn so much more about the world and what’s needed. So, I don’t really know what is holding me back. It’s like there’s a part of my brain that stops me from fully jumping in. Maybe it is that individualism and not wanting to subordinate myself to the interests of humanity. Maybe wanting to cling to what’s comfortable. But then you look at that, and what’s comfortable about that when you know that the world is so fucked up?!”

Another young woman spoke to this, drawing on a discussion she’d had over the summer about a piece that we call “the passion paper.” This was written in 2004, in the early stages of the Cultural Revolution within the Revolutionary Communist Party, but was just published in Revolution newspaper last spring: “What the World Needs Now, More Than Anything Else, Is Communists: A Few Reflections on Individual Passion, Self, and the Revolutionary Process.” This young woman talked about how, “for some people, you’re told that the most important thing is pursuing your dreams. But I came to realize that I was following my dreams in a fucked up world, where most people can’t follow their dreams. And once you come to know that, your dream and what it sits on doesn’t hold the same attraction.”

The woman who’d been talking about getting out of her comfort zone also raised the question of fear. That you know you are going up against a powerful force and they have a history of going after revolutionaries.

In speaking to this, someone talked about how his own fear broke down through a process. You come to understand both that all this system has is its repressive violence and that it’s totally illegitimate. He quoted Cornel West in the recent Dialogue with Bob Avakian: “If all you can do is kill me, you’ve got a weak program.” He talked about having been afraid of getting arrested before, but coming to see that is all they have and then see why we had to put ourselves on the line for something far better, he wasn’t afraid anymore.

In coming back to the question of democratic centralism and subordinating the individual to the collective, someone asked how you let go of “your ideas.” “Like if you don’t agree with a part of the line even after debating it out, and you have to let go of the idea that what you think is the most important thing. In this society, we eat individualism for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. How do you let go of that individualism? How do you transform your thinking on this?”

Someone who’d gone through a lot of struggle to rupture with all that individualism, and proceeding from “what made them feel good, and fuck everybody else,” talked about the process they went through. “If you come to understand that this system is what’s fucking everything up and that you need a revolution, then you have to start evaluating things from that perspective. Am I contributing to that, or getting in the way of that? So then you have to examine the content of what you’re upholding. So what if it makes you feel good, if it’s getting in the way of getting free, then I have to rupture with that.”

Someone else picked up on the relationship between science and morality on this question. She talked about the need and basis for scientific certitude in the party’s line: that there is a basis for communism in the world today and it has to be brought about through revolution. This is scientific and, as with any science, it is falsifiable (meaning it can be proven wrong, but hasn’t up to now been proven wrong). “We have to stand on what we know and fight for it, while being open to being proven wrong. So once you come to understand that this revolution is objectively needed, and that holding on to wrong ways you think or things that have felt like important pieces of yourself but won’t contribute to bringing that revolution into being, it’s not so hard to let all that go. Including because you objectively know the world is so fucked up and doesn’t have to be, and that you are not more important than humanity.”

We also talked about how capitalism trains you to think of your ideas as property, but as BA has talked about, what’s important: the content of the idea or that it’s your idea? We got into the concept of intellectual property, the very real harm this does in the world today (what it’s meant that certain life saving medicines are patented and millions of people have suffered or died unnecessarily) but also how this gets in the way of the overall search for the truth. People get subjective when “their” ideas are criticized, or feel good when “their” ideas are upheld when really the question shouldn’t be whether it’s “their” idea or not, but what is true and the need to fight for what’s true. This is where the analogy comes in again to the party being like a team of scientists—struggling to know and change the world.

At the same time, there is and should be a tremendous amount of individuality (which is different than individualism). This individuality—the fact that people have different characteristics, different strengths and weaknesses, different ways of coming at things... all this—when brought together in a common, unified direction—is a great part of our strength. I talked briefly about the example of Clyde Young, a member of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party who died recently. This appreciation of who he was as an individual, what a wonderful and unique person he was, comes through in the beautiful obituary from the Party—his humor and mischievousness, his love of music and chess, his fierceness and determination in the revolutionary struggle. We miss him greatly and his death is a very real and painful loss. At the same time, he leaves very big shoes to fill because of his leading role. On the one hand, no one can replace him. At the same time, lots of people need to step forward to fill his shoes and to take up what his life was about. I told people this was also something they needed to think deeply about.

In bringing the discussion to a close, I read from the end of a talk given last spring from the RCP, “Where We Are in the Revolution.” It’s a longer excerpt but posed the ideological challenge very sharply, while providing important orientation for how to come at it, and how not to come at it:

...where I want to end is with this Party itself. Again, let’s go back to those problems posed at the beginning: that the rulers are too strong... the people are too messed up... and the revolutionary forces are too weak. We’ve talked about where we’re at with the first two of those questions, and how things can change. But without a party—without THIS Party—the people really have no chance.

So once more, let’s look squarely at reality. This Party has a great line, and it has a great leader in BA and its members are very dedicated. This Party is something truly great to have, truly precious—the fact that the advances, the lessons, of a whole stage of communist revolution, including the great struggles worldwide of the 1960s have not only not been lost but have been advanced in the new synthesis AND that there is an organization determined to apply that new synthesis, that line to reality, to carry it out and make revolution, is extremely important.

But not only are we not anywhere near as large as we need to be and actually could be, even in today’s conditions, we face other problems. Over the past decade we’ve been going through a Cultural Revolution within our own Party—one going right up against the ways in which all the trends I talked about coming off the defeat of the 1960s and then, even more significantly, the reversal of socialism in China had not only worked on the world as a whole but on our Party as well—which after all, could not and should not be hermetically sealed off from the world—causing some people to turn away from revolution, to think it was not possible and not even desirable. This Cultural Revolution, led by BA, has overwhelmingly been a positive and rejuvenating thing—in a very real sense it saved our Party as a party of revolution—even as that struggle continues, in new forms. But it has also cost us—people have deserted, and some have gone on-line and made it their mission to justify that desertion by attacking us—and BA in particular—in ways that objectively serve the enemy.

At the same time, while we do have younger people at all levels of leadership, a large part of our leading core are veterans of the 1960s—and we are not getting younger; age is taking its toll.

To put it very bluntly—to tell it just like it is—we are at a stage where we are either going to reascend the peaks of revolution, getting on a trajectory where this line and Party is increasingly influencing society and growing in strength, even as it is battling against repression, attacks and difficulties of different kinds... or we are going to break our bones and go out of existence; and should that latter happen, this will have incalculably negative and painful consequences for the world.

And yet there is a world to conquer! Think about Egypt, where three years ago seemingly out of nowhere—but NOT out of nothing—people in their millions rose up against the ruling regime. What would it have meant if, say, in 2006 or even 2008 someone in Egypt had given a speech similar to what I did today—a speech that laid out the possible ways in which that society—which at the time, remember, seemed VERY stable if you just looked at the surface—could possibly split apart, where the sources of stability could turn overnight into sources of challenge and change. Then think of the challenges that did present themselves in 2011 and over the past few years to the people in Egypt who had for decades wanted real change. Think of the important difference that the presence of a vanguard like this, with a base of support and an active orientation, a vanguard which could give leadership in that situation... think of the difference that would have made.

No, you would not have started out with a majority, or even close to that; and yes, you would have to struggle against all kinds of illusions about “leaderless movements” and “Facebook revolutions” and “the army and the people are one hand,” and you would have had to go right up against the violent religious fundamentalism and the violent misogyny and all that. At minimum, it would have been very hard going. But that’s been true of every revolution—no genuine communist revolution ever had an easy go of it, genuine communist revolutions go against convention and against the spontaneous channels into which people’s thinking and activity tends to flow, revolutions win by surmounting and transforming those obstacles, not by finessing them.

But what would it have meant if some people had said, five or six or even two years before things erupted, “let’s do this—let’s put our efforts into forging leadership that could actually lead a revolution, and use the time we have now to prepare the ground and accumulate forces FOR that revolution?” But in part because of everything I’ve described, including the international weakness of communism, nobody did, and now let’s look at the horror show that’s resulted—almost made even worse by people’s hopes having been raised, only to have them dashed. This is what happens—either repression or chaos—when you DON’T have a vanguard that can lead people to take things all the way. It’s not a choice between upheaval and no upheaval. It’s not a choice between suffering and no suffering. It’s a choice about what might come out of the upheaval and suffering.

And it’s not a question of whether empires will fall; every single empire in history has fallen. The question is what replaces that empire. If it’s just some new form of oppression, slightly cleaned up, with different faces...to echo BA on this, no, we’re not interested. We need this method and framework spread around the world, and we need in this country to strengthen the only instrument that can do that—the RCP, USA.

So this is very critical—this is why we have added to our slogan that We ARE Building A Movement for Revolution, a phrase encompassing this point, so that now our slogan is:

We ARE Building a Movement For Revolution, and Building the Party as Its Leading Core...

This is something for everyone to think about—if you’re just meeting our Party today for the first time, learn about it; if you support it, deepen that support; if you work with it, let’s strengthen that bond; if you’re in it, strive to take greater responsibility and initiative and to contribute all you can; and if you are drawing closer to it, as some of you are, then actively grapple with joining it.

There are people today doing that. Such people, as they begin to join and contribute on that level to the process of revolution and strengthen it, can play a role out of proportion to their numbers. They are, in a real sense, part of the new initiators of a new stage of communism, on an international scale.

Now, we should be very clear: nobody should join this if they aren’t convinced about the basic principles of communism. Everybody has questions, and everybody has to go through ruptures in their thinking to be in a position to seriously consider making the lifetime commitment that joining the Party is. I know I did. On the other hand, what drove me to clarify my thinking and make those ruptures was a growing understanding, conviction and sense of urgency that nothing less than revolution would deal with what I found to be, and was, outrageous, about the society and that some kind of organized force was going to be necessary.

To you who are grappling now with this, we know this is absolutely not a decision to be made lightly. But two things: one, work through those questions, don’t let ’em just sit there; and two, don’t come at this from “me out”—come at it from what humanity faces right now, and what it truly needs, and then look at your life in that context.

Where we are in the revolution is that there IS a Party that has the line, the leadership and the determination to actually defeat these oppressors... a strategy that can prepare minds and organize forces FOR revolution, to bring forward the thousands today who will lead millions tomorrow... that is willing to shoulder the responsibility to do what needs to be done... but where there is an objective need for those who want to see a new stage of communist revolution to step forward to take the most responsibility they can for it and to strengthen that Party.

This is not necessarily an easy life—you don’t get a lot of social approbation, or “approval”—there is the constant prospect of repression and often the reality of it, and this will only intensify... but you don’t have to cringe and turn your head away from the hard truths, either, and “tell yourself a story that lets you make it through the day”... you don’t have to numb yourself until all your passion is gone... But even more—you get the joy and exhilaration that comes at those times when masses of people DO break through the chains and mire this system puts on them and show their potential and at those times when progress, real progress, is made toward solving the problems of revolution, in theory and practice both. You get the overall joy, as BA concluded in the New Year’s statement, of “striving for a world where the suffering and madness that is now daily life for the masses of humanity will be gone, and whole new dimensions of freedom and of human potential will open up for people everywhere, no longer divided into rich and poor, masters and slaves, rulers and ruled. No longer fighting and slaughtering each other, but working together for the common good. No longer destroying, but acting as fit caretakers for the earth. This is communism, the goal of our revolution, a future—for the youth, for all of humanity—that is truly worth dedicating our lives to... The challenge is there. The leadership is there. What’s needed...is you.

There was a heavy sort of atmosphere in the room as people were feeling all this. A couple people were smiling broadly, deeply moved by the reality and the possibility. And a couple others were clearly thinking about the responsibility. It was pretty late at this point and we were moving to a close but someone brought up one more question we hadn’t quite gotten to enough: “What is the difference between being in the Party and being a revolutionary activist?” This is a very important question and something people are often confused about.

A young woman in the Revolution Club who’s a student and has been doing a lot of work on her campus to build mass resistance and spread revolution, talked about a recent experience where she got a deeper sense of this. She said she’s thought a lot about her campus, the obstacles, what we need to do to break through, etc. But she went to a recent meeting that was on a different topic, struggling to make a breakthrough in a particular sphere and got a much bigger purview—that she has been focused on her campus, but we need to be looking at all of society. She used the example of being an actor on stage, you’ve got your part, memorizing your lines, etc. But the Party is looking at how the whole thing is going, taking responsibility for all the parts, the direction of the play, etc. The Party is responsible for the whole revolution, not just one part of it.

While not a perfect analogy (including because everyone who is working with the movement for revolution should be looking at the whole thing), there was something really important in what she was getting at. Being in the Party is not a quantitative question—it doesn’t mean you just have to be harder working. It’s a qualitative thing that means you are taking responsibility for the line of the Party and taking responsibility for the revolution as a whole. I referenced back to what I read earlier about what it means in particular right now: the need for new initiators of a new stage of communist revolution. At a moment when we are in a rapidly changing objective situation with tremendous potential, there is a need now to “get organized for an actual revolution.” This won’t mean anything without a growing Revolutionary Communist Party at the leading core. All those who understand that have a responsibility to fight for it—actively and deeply.

* The supplementary pieces I gave to people to read were:
Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian
What the World Needs Now, More Than Anything Else, Is Communists: A Few Reflections on Individual Passion, Self, and the Revolutionary Process
Taking Responsibility for the Line of the Party–At the Highest Level
Egypt 2011: Millions Have Heroically Stood Up… The Future Remains to Be Written, A Statement by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
“1995 Leadership Resolutions on Leaders and Leadership, Part I: The Party Exists for No Other Reason than to Serve the Masses, to Make Revolution and Part II: Some Points on the Question of Revolutionary Leadership and Individual Leaders”[back]


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