Is Revolution Possible in the U.S.A.?

Question: There is this talk about "making revolution." Can you seriously and honestly make revolution in this country with all its military might?

The Chairman Answers: Yes, we can make revolution in the U.S., but there will have to be a lot of changes and we have a lot of work to do.

It is true that the rulers of the U.S. have a lot of military might. They have a worldwide empire and vast wealth at their command. They have slaughtered a lot of people in establishing and expanding this empire, and in turn they have built up their military might on the basis of this empire, so that today they have a large and technologically sophisticated machinery of death and destruction. And, as in the past, they will use this military might--to threaten and fight off imperialist rivals and to try to drown in blood any attempt by the oppressed people to rise up in resistance and revolution. But that gets to the fundamental point and the reason why in the end they can be defeated and overthrown.

All their military might and their economic wealth is built on exploiting and oppressing people--millions and millions of people in the U.S. itself and literally billions of people worldwide. Theirs is a system that cannot do without the fundamental division between rich and poor, and cannot do without many other major divisions and social inequalities--such as the oppression of whole nations and "minority nationalities" and the subjugation and degradation of women. And it is a system that cannot do without ruthless competition and rivalry among the exploiters themselves--within each country and between the different countries. All these things are in the very nature of their system--it is impossible to have this capitalist-imperialist system without these things. In short, this system rests on major "faultlines" that continually give rise to "earthquakes," big and small--to social upheaval, rebellion and war--that repeatedly shake the social order and awaken people to political life.

At certain points, when a number of such "social and political earthquakes" erupt with enough power and in a certain combination, then the upheaval is great enough that even in its strongest bastions, such as the U.S. itself, this system is rocked by serious crisis. Such was the case in the 1960s, and such is bound to be the case again, sooner or later. And there is a real possibility that this could come sooner: there is already an ongoing and deep-going crisis and major changes taking place in the economy and in social and political relations in the U.S. and all over the world; and, as shown very dramatically by the 1992 L.A. Rebellion, a spirit of defiance and a combative mood is growing among the basic people in the U.S., which must be heightened and developed into a conscious, organized struggle for revolution.

Our point of orientation--the orientation for the exploited and oppressed people and their revolutionary leadership--must be to gear everything we do toward preparing for the eruption of an actual revolutionary crisis, where the authority of the ruling class and both its "right" and its ability to rule are called fundamentally into question. For it is exactly in such a situation that making revolution in a country like the U.S.--actually launching a revolutionary war with the realistic prospect of carrying it forward to victory--will become a possibility and an immediate, urgent task. The development of the necessary conditions for revolution and the eruption of an actual revolutionary crisis will not mainly happen because of what we do--fundamentally it will come about because of the basic conflicts within the system itself and all the different struggles this gives rise to, all over the world--but what we do can contribute to this happening and to bringing it about faster, and most of all we can and must prepare the ground for seizing the time when the revolutionary situation and crisis do come about. And in this the exploited and oppressed people have a crucial force that was missing in the U.S. in the 1960s--a vanguard Party, the RCP, which has a firm foundation in the most advanced revolutionary ideology, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and on that basis has developed (and is continuing to develop) the political and organizational strategies and principles, including a basic military doctrine, that are necessary to prepare for and then carry out the revolutionary overthrow of the system.

These strategies, principles, and doctrine provide the bridge between the revolutionary work and struggles of today and the all-out, military battle for power when the revolutionary situation comes into being. As I pointed out in COULD WE REALLY WIN? the work and struggle in this period, even though it is not yet warfare itself, lays the foundation, politically and organizationally, for forging a revolutionary army among the masses and waging revolutionary war when the revolutionary situation does come into being. Then it will be possible to build military organization and military fighting capacity out of the mass organization and mass struggle that has been rooted deeply and built wisely and well among the masses, especially the most exploited and oppressed masses, during the whole process of preparation for the revolutionary crisis. Then it will be possible to put into practice the military doctrine of the vanguard--to wage revolutionary war guided by that doctrine--and to further develop and apply that doctrine through continually summing up practical experience in waging the revolutionary war.

As I also pointed out in COULD WE REALLY WIN? we must keep in mind the profound principle of MLM--the great truth formulated and acted upon by Mao--that while technology is important, people not technology are decisive in warfare as in all things. All technology is created by people and is wielded by people. People who have never waged revolutionary warfare can learn to do so. The masses and their revolutionary vanguard will do this partly through studying warfare but mainly, as Mao also said, by learning warfare through waging warfare and collectively summing up their experience and drawing lessons. This is how all revolutionary wars have been waged and many have been won.

And another important point: with regard to the armed forces of U.S. imperialism, the people who wield their military technology are largely drawn from among the poor and the oppressed in society--this is especially so among their ground forces. This is a serious "built-in" contradiction within their armed forces, which will become very acute when these armed forces are called on to engage in warfare against the masses of basic people from whom they are largely drawn. In fact, one of the key features of a revolutionary crisis is that serious divisions develop within the armed forces of the ruling class, and sections of these armed forces begin to identify with the revolutionary struggles of the masses. This happened to a very significant degree in the 1960s as a result of the defeats the U.S. army was being handed in Vietnam together with the social upheaval and rebellion back in the U.S. itself. This does not mean that the revolutionary people should expect that significant parts of the U.S. armed forces will come over to the revolution right at the start of the revolutionary war--the revolutionary war should not be hinged on this or depend on this happening--but it does mean that, as the enemy armed forces are hit with revolutionary war, in the context of the overall revolutionary crisis and upheaval, their army will not hold together as one solid force but will begin to splinter, and it will be possible to win over parts of it--to integrate them into the revolutionary army and thereby strengthen that revolutionary army.

All this does not mean that it will be easy to make revolution--even in conditions of revolutionary crisis and upheaval it will not be "easy" for the revolutionary people and their vanguard to forge and to wield their own armed forces and wage revolutionary war to defeat the military might of U.S. imperialism. It will not be easy, even then --but it will be possible. And the thing all revolutionary-minded people must be about now is getting down with the vanguard to lay the most powerful basis for this--to contribute to the development of the revolutionary struggle and above all to prepare the masses as well as the vanguard for the eruption of a full-out revolutionary crisis. If we don't do this, we will miss the revolutionary opportunity whenever it comes.

To sum up and repeat: Can we really make revolution in the U.S., up against all the military might of the ruling class? Yes, we can, but there have to be big changes and we have a lot of work to do.