Recently I have been reading reports about building for the speaking tour by Carl Dix, and something that really hit me was the comments by a couple of basic youth about why they joined up with the Brigade. In slightly different words but to the same effect they talked about the question of revenge, particularly revenge for what the police do, because they themselves have been brutalized by the police, they have seen family or friends murdered by police, have seen the police rampage through their neighborhoods with no respect for the people. And these youth themselves have been grappling with the question of how this desire for revenge relates to revolution.
Well, first of all, hatred for the oppressor is not only righteous, it is absolutely necessary, and without it you can't even think about getting out from under oppression. Besides that, the way you are treated by the system and how the system's enforcers do you--this is not just a personal thing. How you are treated by the police, by the welfare agencies, by the judges, by the school administrators. . .and on and on. . .all this is a product of how the system operates. This is a system that exploits, oppresses, and degrades whole groups of people. In fact, such exploitation, oppression, and degradation is what this system is all about and how this system keeps itself in effect.
Hatred for how this comes down on you can be and should be a basis, a starting point, for moving to revolution to get rid of this whole system. But moving to such a revolutionary position also means moving beyond just the desire for revenge, beyond just thinking about how you yourself can get out from under oppression--it means making a leap to where you are out for nothing less than to wipe out and tear up the roots of oppression not just in one place, one country or region, and not just for one group or nation, but worldwide and for humanity overall. This is the stand of the international proletariat and its ideology, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
In reading a report describing how one young brother talked about the cold-blooded murder of a friend by the police, a lot of images came to my mind--images of other vicious murders by police I had known about or heard about but also images of horrendous brutality carried out by enforcers of the same system in many different parts of the world. One image in particular that stuck in my mind was something I have written about before, at the beginning of the book Democracy: Can't We Do Better Than That?:
"In. . .Guatemala, numerous accounts in recent years have described scene after scene where government troops enter a village and, after executing everyone of fighting age, proceed to brutally murder old people, rape and kill women, and then take the small children and infants and bash their heads open."
Think about it: the government troops in Guatemala carrying out these sick and beast-like acts are not just the "cousins" of the police in the USA. In fact they are run by the same powers-that-be, by the rulers of the imperialistic USA who are responsible not only for scenes like this in Guatemala but for the same kinds of monstrous things all over the world. And, on the other side, the people who are the victims of such atrocities, all over the world, are our people: we share the same condition of exploitation and oppression and the same mission of rising up to put an end to all this.
If people could sit down and talk with other people from all the different places in the country they're in--and if they could sit down and talk with people from all over the world--they would come to see that the masses of people share the same basic conditions everywhere. And, in fact, there is a way in which people can do that: It is the role of the vanguard forces of the proletarian revolution--which in the USA means the RCP,USA--to be the means through which oppressed people "sit down and talk with each other," in effect. That is, it is through the work of their vanguard (and in this the Party's newspaper and other publications are crucial) that the masses of people come to know the situation of people like themselves not just in a particular country but worldwide. They come to see that they have a common problem--the imperialist system and all relations of exploitation and oppression--and a common solution: proletarian revolution to uproot all such systems and all such relations, worldwide.
In conclusion, let me go back to the point I started with: the question of revenge and its relations to revolution. I believe the following can serve as a basic summary of the viewpoint of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism on this question:
"What we need is not simply to strike back against the oppressor, not simply to get some revenge, but much more than that to rise up all the way, carry through and make revolution."
Bullets, p. 23
"If we didn't have the burning desire to get rid of all this and bury it once and for all, then we would have no right to call ourselves revolutionaries, and we would never be able to lead anybody in making revolution. But that spirit will never make a revolution by itself. It has to be tempered with revolutionary theory and a scientific method to be able to deal with the complexities of what a revolution is about and to be able to bring forward the force that can actually make a revolution, and that is the masses of people in their millions."
Bullets, p. 191
"It is only the international proletariat that needs no excuses or apologies, in some form or other, for exploitation, the oppression of women and of nations and national minorities, war, and a thousand other monstrosities; it is only the class-conscious revolutionary proletariat that insists that all these things can and will be eliminated from the earth. When this outlook and this leadership is combined with the anger and burning desire of the masses of oppressed to put an end to all this--then an unconquerable force is forged."
Reflections, Sketches, and Provocations, p. 133