What It Means to

June 4, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From a reader:

I’m writing to share some thoughts and lessons from the Revolution Club in my area in wielding and applying HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution. As it says in HWCW, “We have the website of the Party, revcom.us, and its newspaper Revolution, which sharply expose the crimes of this system, scientifically analyze why it cannot be reformed, and give guidance and direction for people to work in a unified way for revolution.” This is part of that last point—enabling us to work in a unified way for revolution—which everyone should be doing, as we are learning while we are doing.

The recent “Some Observations: We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution” says:

HOW WE CAN WIN is a working document—a basis and guide to bring alive the need and basis for revolution and to concretely organize people into this revolution. This is not just something to grasp firmly as a basic point of orientation, but is something that we must be actively applying in practice, further grappling with and forging the means to consistently carry out work that actually organizes people into the revolution on the right basis and in so doing lays the basis for continually expanding the ranks of the revolution, not just in ones and twos but in terms of masses of people, and through ongoing geometric leaps.

There are two main points on this I want to speak to.

First, the point that HWCW is the basis and guide to BRING ALIVE the need and basis for revolution and to concretely organize people into this revolution. This should be the foundation and framework for our agitation—agitation that reaches inside people, that shakes them out of their sleepwalking stupor, that moves the part of themselves they try to tame to go along in this putrid and rotten system, the anger they’re always told to quell to get along. Not everyone feels this way, but many do—and that’s who we’re aiming to reach. This means we have to be talking TO people, not AT them. This can be difficult when so many people have their earbuds plugged in or eyes on their phones. But I’ve seen people surreptitiously put their music on pause as they walk by or take their ear buds out to hear what’s being said.

A few weeks ago, revcom.us laid out the core message of the revolution:

In all that we do, the utter “intolerability” of this system and the towering crimes and atrocities it continually commits, here and all over the world, must really be driven home in a powerful way, along with the fact that it is no longer necessary to live under such a system; that this system cannot be reformed, that to transform society to fully achieve the 5 Stops and abolish and move beyond all relations of exploitation and oppression, everywhere in the world requires an actual revolution, which, as emphasized in HWCW, means not some minor changes within this system but the actual overthrow, yes overthrow, of this system, through actually defeating its armed forces of oppression and repression, when the necessary conditions (a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people in the millions) have been brought into being (as set forth in HWCW), dismantling the institutions of this system and building a whole new society on a radically different economic and political basis; that this is something we (continually involving new people in geometric advances) must be actively working toward, from right now forward; that this system of capitalism-imperialism can be replaced by a far better system—one that is truly emancipatory—as embodied in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America; and that there is the basis, in the new communism and the leadership of BA, to make all this a reality.

Let’s get down to basics: We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit.

Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t unite with people in all sorts of struggles short of revolution. We definitely need to do that. But the proffering of any other solution to these monumental and monstrous problems and outrages is ridiculous, frankly. And we need to be taking the offensive and mobilizing increasing numbers of masses to cut through this shit and bring to the fore what really is the solution to this, and to answer the questions and, yes, the accusations that come forth in response to this, while deepening our scientific basis for being able to do this. And the point is: not only do we need to be doing this, but we need to be bringing forward, unleashing and leading, and enabling increasing numbers of the masses to do this. They need to be inspired, not just with a general idea of revolution, but with a deepening understanding, a scientific grounding, as to why and how revolution really is the answer to all of this.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:1

If you conceive of revolution as someday the world is somehow going to be radically different and at that point we will do something to radically change it...no, that won’t happen—but that’s not what we’re doing. We have to elevate our sights and lead consistently with the understanding that the world does NOT have to be this way, and we ARE building a movement for revolution.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:6

We need to give people a really living sense of what we mean by “hastening while awaiting” the emergence of a revolutionary situation. And this is linked to the point that what we’re doing is building a movement for revolution and letting people know what we think that revolution would look like.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:7

We hear from masses of people—and I’ve seen this in reports recently—statements or sentiments along the following lines: “I know revolution is needed,” or “I know revolution is what’s gotta happen at some point,” but “what do we do now, what do we do in the meantime?”

Answer? Make revolution. Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. Prepare minds and organize forces for the time when a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people, in the millions and millions, emerges. Work actively and consciously to bring this time closer and to bring things to where we are in the best position to act decisively when this does come about. Devote your life, energy, daring and creativity to confronting, fighting through and overcoming the obstacles to making this happen, and to winning more and more people to doing the same.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:31

Agitation should and will weave back and forth between these different but related points; but the whole of the core message should come through all throughout our agitation—reaching inside of the people right in front of us. We SHOULD concretely and in a living way draw out the horrors embodied in one or another or all of these 5 stops—and then go right again to the other elements of the core message, in a way that brings to life the whole message and in so doing underlines the horror embodied in these intolerable and unnecessary outrages.

Related to this, we’ve wrestled some with the difference between just trying to make people feel the suffering of people around the world (moving them emotionally so to speak), and what comes through in Part 1 of HOW WE CAN WIN: “the utter ‘intolerability’ of this system and the towering crimes and atrocities it continually commits, here and all over the world, must really be driven home in a powerful way, along with the fact that it is no longer necessary to live under such a system...

Strategic contempt for the system that forces people to live this way should come through... the strategic confidence that the masses of people can be the backbone force of a struggle to get to a whole different emancipated world and they need to step into this and go to work for this. This should flow from a real understanding of the beginning of Part 2 of HWCW: “We need to take into account the actual strengths of this system, but more than that its strategic weaknesses, based in its deep and defining contradictions.” You can learn from BA on this, including on bringing out the unnecessary character of this shit—he’s a masterful agitator on so many levels. One comrade in the Revolution Club made the point eloquently when she said that “BA makes strange all the horrors of this system that people otherwise get used to.” Look at—and wield out on the streets—these two quotes from BAsics to give a sense of unnecessariness:

There would not be a General Motors in socialist society, and there would also not be an FBI or an LAPD. Those kinds of institutions would be abolished and—unless they agreed to abolish themselves voluntarily—they would have to be forcefully abolished under a future dictatorship of the proletariat.  Maybe they would be given 24 hours to disband!...  but disbanded they would have to be. There would be revolutionary institutions in place of those old, oppressive and reactionary institutions...and, yes, that is what we’re building for—aiming for the time when there is a qualitative change in the objective situation, when a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people in the millions and millions have been brought into being. And when that revolution is made, when a new, revolutionary state power is brought into being, there would not just be a new army, but that new army would be guided by very different principles. There would be a culture in that army, but it would definitely not be (as in the hymn of the imperialist Marine Corps): “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli”—that’s just not going to be what guides the new state apparatus! No more General Motors and no more Marines. The principles we’re talking about here, and the reason we’re going out to win people to be emancipators of humanity, is that they’re going to be the actual backbone of the new state. (BAsics 2:15)

Editor’s note: Tyisha Miller was a 19-year-old African-American woman shot dead by Riverside, California police in 1998. Miller had been passed out in her car, resulting from a seizure, when police claimed that she suddenly awoke and had a gun; they fired 23 times at her, hitting her at least 12 times, and murdering her. Bob Avakian addressed this.

If you can’t handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people’s police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses. That’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re actually trying to be a servant of the people. You go there and you put your own life on the line, rather than just wantonly murder one of the people. Fuck all this “serve and protect” bullshit! If they were there to serve and protect, they would have found any way but the way they did it to handle this scene. They could have and would have found a solution that was much better than this. This is the way the proletariat, when it’s been in power has handled—and would again handle—this kind of thing, valuing the lives of the masses of people. As opposed to the bourgeoisie in power, where the role of their police is to terrorize the masses, including wantonly murdering them, murdering them without provocation, without necessity, because exactly the more arbitrary the terror is, the more broadly it affects the masses. And that’s one of the reasons why they like to engage in, and have as one of their main functions to engage in, wanton and arbitrary terror against the masses of people. (BAsics 2:16)

We should be sharp about all this while drawing the right dividing lines. If someone raises the question of voting, they’re not the enemy (just repeating what they’ve been told their whole life) but we should put it back to them—if you want to argue that you could actually end these 5 Stops without an actual revolution that overthrows this system, we want to hear it. If they’re serious, they’ll run up against the fact that this is NOT possible or at least be left with something that should circulate in their minds.

My second point is the need to use HOW WE CAN WIN in practice. While there is not a formula, when people respond to the agitation, when they want to get more into what we’re saying, the key thing here is to really walk people through HOW WE CAN WIN itself, reading it to/with people on the spot. The Observations article made the point that we should be saying to people, “We’re here to enlist you in the ranks of the revolution and putting you to work for the revolution. We have a battle plan on how we are going to get there.” Then, rather than going any which way in the discussion, we should literally walk people through HOW WE CAN WIN with a real focus on Part 2 (based on Part 1, and making clear to people that this is working to get to the point where Part 3 can be applied). THIS is the process that they are being enlisted in and organized to take up.

We should be making very clear in talking with people, in our broad agitation, in our collective summations... really, in all our work... that everything we’re doing has a goal, has a purpose, this is not aimless: specifically, everything we do “is aiming for something very definite—a revolutionary situation: “Where the system and its ruling powers are in a serious crisis, and the violence they use to enforce this system is seen by large parts of society for what it is—murderous and illegitimate. Where the conflicts among the ruling forces become really deep and sharp—and masses of people respond to this not by falling in behind one side or the other of the oppressive rulers, but by taking advantage of this situation to build up the forces for revolution. Where millions and millions of people refuse to be ruled in the old way—and are willing and determined to put everything on the line to bring down this system and bring into being a new society and government that will be based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. That is the time to go all-out to win. That is what we need to be actively working for and preparing for now.”

This must be reiterated and brought to life. And whatever we are doing, and organizing others to do—run with the Revolution Club; join the club; spread these materials in their neighborhood, on their campus; organize a screening of a BA film—should be understood by them (and by us) in that context. This is part of the thousands now influencing millions... this is what it means to “be on a mission to spread the word, to let people know that we have the leadership, the science, the strategy and program, and the basis for organizing people for an actual, emancipating revolution.” And working towards Part 3 is what all the work today is building towards. Here too, BAsics should be dug into and wielded. BAsics 3:1 is a real guide and mission as well as BAsics 3:6, 3:7, and 3:31.

HOW WE CAN WIN deals with the complex contradictions of the process of making revolution in a real, clear, concise, and compelling way. It answers how we can go from small to large; it gives people the bigger picture that this is a national strategy, a real plan. It provides the gauge and measure for what all our work is for. We really shouldn’t underestimate the importance of getting into THAT with people and enlisting them on that basis. This is also how new people, just running with the Revolution Club for the first time, can be fighting for this—as they are learning more about it themselves.

We’ve had a lot of people say, “Wow, I didn’t know there was a plan.” Or a young woman who recently started running with the club, said in response to reading HOW WE CAN WIN together, “I like that it’s laying out where we have to go AND how we’re getting there.” Think about what that changes and how it makes urgent and palpable the point that HWCW ends on: “All this depends on winning millions to revolution in the period that leads up to the ripening of a revolutionary situation. The chance to defeat them, when the time comes—the chance to be rid of this system and to bring something far better into being—has everything to do with what we do now. Everyone who hungers for a radically different world, free of exploitation and oppression and all the needless suffering caused by this system, needs to work now with a fired determination to make this happen, so we will have a real chance to win.




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