Report from Revcoms at Standing Rock

“Revolution, Nothing Less!—
Ask Us How We Can Win”

November 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


Travis Morales at Standing Rock


Riley Ruiz at Standing Rock

For a couple of hours Monday afternoon, we put a sign on the back of our pickup truck that read, "Revolution, Nothing Less!—Ask Us How We Can Win".  During this time nine people stopped, most asking, "HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution," and we had substantive discussions with just about all of them.  On the spot, two of the people read the entire pamphlet, "How We Can Win", and most read a part of it. Several had a lot of initial unity with the overall content in the pamphlet, and in particular the fact that this system is irreformable. Almost the entire time, we had a very exciting scene around our truck getting into things with all kinds of people. And it is important to note, that in several of our conversations, people asked us if we were getting any flack for putting out a statement like this, and so we told these people, that in fact we have come under attack, and that there is a National Organizing Tour that has already come under attack at its first stop in Chicago, and as well at CCNY with the local tour in NYC, and that this needs to be opposed and word spread about this because we cannot allow revolutionaries to be attacked in this way, and this needs to be a further exposure of the illegitimacy of this whole system.

One person with whom we spoke at length, a young person who has travelled all over the world as a photographer read the entire pamphlet on the spot, and raised a lot of serious questions. He asked, "How would you sustain after the revolution and what kind of system will be in its place?"; "What about morality, because that is not reducible to science?"; "How do people participate in the new society?"; "How is this different than previous communist societies that were dictatorships?".  So we got into these things, we read from BAsics, in particular the supplement on “Reform or Revolution, Questions of Orientation, Questions of Morality'” and 1:22 and got into this question of the dictatorship of the proletariat instead of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. He flipped through some of the New Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, took a picture of this and was looking forward to reading more online and staying connecting with the revolution. We also gave him 50 copies of the pamphlet and he said he would get these out back in his home town on the West Coast. He thanked us for our persistence, speaking to both what we were doing there but, also, in the overall.

A youth that is part Native from the Hudson Valley in New York stopped and read the entire, "How We Can Win".  His attitude after reading it was, "Where can I connect with you?"  He said, looking at the situation in this country, "This may be the last presidential election we have."  He raised several times that no one has a plan and we need one.  He meant both a plan to protect his family but, also, a plan for what the people should do in the face of what is developing.  He is grappling with how "they" don't care about the poisoning of the food we eat, "they" just care about making money, and this really angers him.  He took two copies of "How We Can Win" to get to people camping with him.


A young white man read the entire "How We Can Win," parts of THE NEW COMMUNISM and flipped through the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. He was mostly listening to the engagement we were having with someone else when he came up to us, but he had some questions about how it would be possible to get beyond all this oppression; how it would not just recreate itself even after a revolution. He said he agreed with a lot of what we were saying in terms of the system, but didn't think we could win at this point, and so we spoke about what a revolutionary situation actually is, what is needed to go all out for power. He asked if we were 'wedded' to socialism and communism and we posed that it isn't a matter of us liking those kinds of systems but that they are necessary, if you are serious about uprooting all exploitation and oppression; that you need socialism as a transition to communism. He said he had differences on the need for socialism and communism, but didn't want to get into them right there, but we told him we're not afraid of disagreements and that in fact, we wanted to hear his disagreements and get into things more. He also expressed that he didn't feel he could identify with any one group at this point in his life, seemed more an individualist approach so Riley posed that she was a revolutionary and a communist because she became convinced of the need for revolution and communism in the world.

A part Native and Chicano man from Southern California came up to us, interested in the sign, and we briefly told him what we were about. He saw our sticker on the sign, and said "Yeah, America was never great!" He asked if we meant a 'violent revolution' and we got into what a real revolution was, and that we are not yet in a position to make such a revolution, but are getting organized to do this at the soonest possible time. He then went on to tell us a lot of his background; How this was his first ever time connecting with other Native people and he was very glad to have done so.  He talked about how he was in social groups in California who were caught up in nonsense, fighting each other, "foolishly fighting over a corner" and how the struggle at Standing Rock was something actually meaningful to fight for.  He participated in three sweat lodges but said he is into Jesus Christ and would not do those again.  But he would be able to tell his kids that he had done it.   He invited us to his camp to meet more people from his tribe and was looking forward to getting more into things with us.

An older man from Seattle, who was a freelance photographer, came up to us off the sign and asked for a brief explanation... We got into who BA was, what this party represented, and what was concentrated in 'How We Can Win'. He expressed a lot of unity with this, and agreed that this system is irreformable, and took the pamphlet with him to read and said he would be back to get into what he thought about it.

Tuesday afternoon we put up the sign, and again this drew a lot of people while we were out there for a few hours. We summed up from the experience we had the day before, that we needed to be sharper when people came up to us and asked us the question that we wanted them to ask! Not that we felt we needed to just give them the short version of what was in the pamphlet, and do all the work for them in that way, but more we were wrestling with what is it that is the most decisive thing that people need to understand about this, what is the most decisive thing that you need to actually win, and so we started answering this question by putting forward what is in Resolution #1 from the Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA put out on January 1,2016.

Resolution 1:

The new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, on the basis of 40 years of revolutionary work, represents a qualitative advance in the scientific approach to making revolution and emancipating humanity. It provides the foundation and point of departure for a new stage of communist revolution that is urgently needed in the world today.

Where there is oppression, there will be resistance—the masses of people will continually rise up against their conditions of oppression and those who enforce this oppression. But, without the necessary scientific theory and leadership, the struggle of the oppressed will be contained, and remain confined, within the system which is the source of oppression, and the horrors to which the masses are subjected will go on, and on. The new synthesis and the leadership of Bob Avakian represents and embodies the scientific understanding and approach the masses of the oppressed need to make the revolution they need—a revolution whose ultimate goal is a communist world—to emancipate themselves and ultimately humanity as a whole.

As Bob Avakian himself has emphasized, the new synthesis:

represents and embodies a qualitative resolution of a critical contradiction that has existed within communism in its development up to this point, between its fundamentally scientific method and approach, and aspects of communism which have run counter to this.


What is most fundamental and essential in the new synthesis is the further development and synthesis of communism as a scientific method and approach, and the more consistent application of this scientific method and approach to reality in general and in particular the revolutionary struggle to overturn and uproot all systems and relations of exploitation and oppression and advance to a communist world. This method and approach underlies and informs all the core elements and essential components of this new synthesis.

As with all scientific approaches to understanding and transforming reality, communism must continue to develop, and it has undergone a qualitative development with the new synthesis, which is a leap beyond, and in some important ways a rupture with, what has gone before. Recognizing this is the essential dividing line today between genuine revolutionary communists and those who may profess to be for communism and revolution, but who in fact are not. Just as, in 1975, being a communist meant being a follower of Mao and the path that he had forged, so today being a communist means following Bob Avakian and the new path that he has forged.

And from there we would use the 'How We Can Win' pamphlet as our guide, pointing to the 3 questions that it is answering, doing some agitation about why this system is irreformable, with a particular focus on the question of the environment, and encouraging people to read it on the spot, and to be part of spreading this as they get deeper into it. So from there, we encouraged people to share their thinking on this, their agreements and disagreements, ideas, etc.

An interesting group of three young men and one older white man came over to talk with us.  Two of the younger guys were people of color from North Texas and the other was a white youth from Colorado.  They came up to ask, "So how can we win?" And once we ran some basic things down, they immediately had a lot of questions, while the older man gave the pamphlet back to us.  After we did some agitation about what capitalism/imperialism does to the people of the world and how it cannot help but commit these crimes and broke down the 3 questions being answered in "How We Can Win', one of the Texas youth said he agreed with what we were saying about what capitalism does, while the other asked, "Couldn't we have a separation of capitalism and the government?" and basically let capitalism operate but not do these horrible things. People raised that the problem is human nature so we got into how what people think and their desires are determined in the main by the kind of society in which they live, the economic system and how that shapes what people think is desirable and possible.  We gave the example of people living under feudalism did not expect to change the strata into which they were born, that serfs expected to live and die a serf or noble expected to live and die as a noble, because that was the way those systems operated.  One of them said, "You are trying to change how people think.", and we said, "Yes", that is part of what will characterize the new socialist society after a revolution will be that you will have an economic system that is meeting the needs of people, and a political system that is backing up the people in breaking down the oppressive divisions among people, and all the ideas that flowed out of capitalist society, for example the 'dog eat dog' mentality. The same youth that asked about the separation of the government and capitalism, when asked why he came, said, "Climate change is the defining issue of our time."  While some of the discussion was happening, the youth from Colorado was handed THE NEW COMMUNISM and he read the front and back cover as well as the last paragraph of page 3 and all of page 4.  He later said, "I know what the next book that I buy will be."  He was agreeing with a lot of what we were saying about the problem and the solution.

We met a young guy from Western Europe, who said he came to the states to visit a friend and once he heard about this, he felt that he needed to stay and join this meaningful struggle. He expressed a lot of unity with the fact that this system of capitalism imperialism is the root cause of so much suffering in the world, including the ongoing genocide of the Native people, and he talked about how he had managed to live basically off the grid back in Western Europe but recognized that it wasn't doing any good for anyone else, and that it was just allowing the system to continue doing what it does. He raised the fact that even if the battle at Standing Rock wins, the system will still exist, and so these horrors will continue. He felt that 'revolution' was a bad word in this society, and so we got into why that is the case, and how this system turns around and blames the people when they rise up and rebel against them and their crimes, when the real criminals, are those that hold power, and the real violence is coming from their vicious system.

At one point, we had the sign down to take a break, when an older white woman that retired to Southern Arizona was passing by us and stopped to talk.  We asked her why she had come to Standing Rock.  She broke into tears as she talked about horribly this country treats and continues to treat Native people, "It's so horrible how they keep running over these people." She kept saying, "It has to stop, it has to stop."  She said she came here to help out in whatever way she could, and could see after just being here for a couple days, that there was a definite need for more people to join this struggle on the ground. We gave her a copy of "How We Can Win" and talked about the analysis problem and the solution this is putting forward.  She asked if we meant by a violent revolution.  We said we have to start with science to analyze how this system works, and from there we got into what an actual revolution is; that it would be nice if they would just step aside but how that is not reality, and that we see what they do to people who oppose them, including what they have done to peaceful protesters here in Standing Rock. We went on to get into how applying science to all these big questions on how we could defeat them, how BA (Bob Avakian) has led this Party to this understanding that is concentrated in this pamphlet, and including on the question of how we could defeat them. She spoke about the tremendous hope this struggle has given her, in terms of the potential of people to come together and fight for a just cause, and we united with her, but also posed that what we have here with this new synthesis should also give people tremendous hope, for a radically different way the world could be, but that it is more than just hope, it is scientifically grounded, that there is an actual basis to make this real, to actual emancipate humanity. She left us looking forward to reading the pamphlet and get more into things soon.

After this, again without the sign even posted up, a young white guy from Colorado came by and stopped to talk. He had also just arrived at camp and when we talked about why we were there, he had a lot of unity with this and described how he and some of his friends back at home talk about revolution but couldn't imagine ever actually being able to defeat them. We got into this, and talked about BA and how he struggles with people throughout his work to take up a scientific method and approach, and why that is necessary to be able to understand how you could actually defeat them. He thought this was right on, and said he hadn't thought of this before and was really excited to have met us, and wants to talk more about ways to be part of this revolution going forward.

So just from these couple of days with this sign up we have drawn forward a lot of people, and this is very representative of the openness of people here, in a situation where people are standing up, raising their sights, and more open to the idea of radical change.



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