Bob Avakian on the Revolutionary Press

Create Public Opinion, Seize Power

Revolutionary Worker #1000, March 28, 1999

On the occasion of our 1000th issue, we are proud to present the following selection from the writings of RCP Chairman Bob Avakian on the revolutionary press and our central task--"Create Public Opinion... Seize Power."


It must be really understood that we are involved in warfare with the enemy--a particular kind of warfare in which at the present time the main battles and campaigns are political and the main weapon the newspaper, but a kind of warfare in which the outcome of these campaigns and battles is no less decisive than when the form of struggle is literally, directly military.

Coming from Behind to Make Revolution, 1980


Lenin drove home over and over again the fundamental point that the workers cannot fully develop their political consciousness and political struggle against the system unless and until the communists carry out consistently Marxist propaganda and agitation, and in particular penetrating exposure of all manifestations of tyranny and oppression perpetrated by the ruling class, and all aspects of the life, the interests and outlook of the various classes and strata of society. Lenin insisted on the decisive role of the communist newspaper, as educator of the masses and as a collective organizer of the party itself and the revolutionary forces generally.

Do not these basic principles stressed by Lenin have broad application in all countries at all times, and more specifically does not his emphasis on Marxist agitation and propaganda, especially scientific, living exposure, and on the central role of the communist newspaper, have great relevance and importance for the present situation and its future prospects in the U.S.? Who will deny it?

Coming from Behind to Make Revolution, 1980


Creating public opinion for revolution is not a mere "battle of ideas"--though it definitely involves that--but the heart of it, the key link, is exposure: penetrating and all-around exposure of the features and nature of this hideous and death-bound system, of the class that rules it and of all the classes, strata and groups in society, not just in this country but the world as a whole, including both those that are enemies and those that are (at least possible) allies of the proletariat. Life itself is the inexhaustible source for such exposure.

"Why Our Plan Is `Create Public Opinion...Seize Power.'"
RW No. 92, February 13, 1981


In a situation like the U.S. today the preparation for revolution is essentially political, preparing minds and organizing forces. The Revolutionary Worker is the key weapon now, the hub of all that political work. It is central in laying the basis to wage and win the future revolutionary civil war whenever the conditions do ripen for such a struggle.

"Stepping Up...Stepping Out,"
RW No. 151, April 16, 1982


You cannot carry out effective and sharp exposure if you don't know what's on the minds of the masses, and first of all the advanced masses, especially among the proletariat and the real solid social base for a revolutionary line, but also more broadly.

So, the party has to learn and lead, and not just at the time when a revolutionary situation is maturing and ripening and a revolutionary struggle to seize power becomes possible--but all the way along this is so, through the whole period of preparation for revolution, as well as in carrying it out.

"More on the Party and Mass Movements
in Relation to the Revolutionary Goal,"
If There Is to Be Revolution, There Must Be a Revolutionary Party, June 1982


The central task of our party--create public opinion/seize power--is an overall process, so that the seeds of seizing power are present and must be nurtured and developed even in today's circumstances where the ongoing focus is creating public opinion in an all-around way for proletarian revolution.

Exposure--bringing to light the nature and features of the enemy and other classes and social groupings and forces, in an all-around way, from many different angles and following close on major social questions and world events--is the key link now in carrying out the central task.

Supporting the outbreaks of protest and rebellion of the masses--above all by "stretching the proletarian revolutionary line into them" but also by entering more fully into the arenas of serious struggle and confrontation between masses of people and the imperialists and giving even greater emphasis to leading especially the advanced among the basic masses to mount the political stage, under the banner of the revolutionary proletariat (of the party and of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement in particular) --this is of increased importance in today's situation.

Such political preparation is the most important way to influence the political terrain now, to plant and nurture the seeds and shoots of a future armed uprising, to learn more fully the features of the enemy and all classes and strata in society, and to develop--especially among the advanced, with the party at the core--the political ability and "maturity" to handle the extremely complex, tortuous, and magnified character of the revolutionary situation, when it does ripen, and of the actual revolutionary armed struggle for power.

A Horrible End, or An End to the Horror?, 1984


We are preparing minds and organizing forces for the time when there is a major crack in the system, whenever it comes and wherever it comes from: an opening that makes it possible to bring the future Revolutionary Army of the Proletariat (R.A.P.) into the field and wage a revolutionary armed struggle that actually has a chance of winning. And we have said that building our party itself is the most important part of organizing forces for revolution. This is true now, and it is true looking forward to the creation of that future R.A.P. and the waging of that armed struggle.

"On Party-Building and Building Toward the Future
Revolutionary Army of the Proletariat," RW, June 9, 1986


Sometimes people say to us that our party cannot really be serious about revolution, or we would be getting it on with the armed struggle right now. Whoever heard of a righteous revolution where a newspaper, not a gun, is the main weapon being wielded by the revolutionary party, they say? Well, first of all, in an overall sense, revolution must be made with both the pen and the sword (or, both newspapers and guns): people must not only fight, they must know what they are fighting for and how to fight for it, in the deepest, most all-around way. But besides that, no general staff that is worth anything as a general staff would throw its army into an all-out frontal assault on the most entrenched bastions of the enemy, when and where that enemy has clear superiority for the time being. Our party is the general staff of the revolutionary proletariat in the USA. It is a detachment of the international proletarian revolution. And the fact is, the international proletariat does not have the strength, right now, to capture and defeat that citadel of imperialist power, the USA. In other words, to put it simply, the conditions do not yet exist to get it on with the armed struggle in the USA--not if we are talking about an armed struggle that has a chance of actually winning, because it is founded upon and draws its force from a mass revolutionary upheaval--and that is what we are talking about.

But that does not mean that we are just waiting around--or playing around. We are laying siege to the fortress of imperialist power and preparing the ground for an assault on it when the situation does become ripe. Our political work is precisely what is laying that siege and preparing that ground. We are preparing minds and organizing forces for revolution. We are influencing the political thinking of broad numbers of people, preparing to win them to revolution when the all-out struggle for power is for real on the order of the day; we are getting revolutionary-minded people ready for such a struggle and winning fresh forces to a revolutionary stand--training them in the party's line, exposing the essence of what is going on with major political events and world affairs, giving guidance on how to take political action around these things, and bringing those who are most politically aware and advanced, most far-sighted and dedicated to revolution, into the party. We are strengthening the party, deepening and solidifying its ties with those who yearn for a radical change in society and the world, especially those at the bottom with the least to lose by such a radical change--with a world to win. In short, we are carrying out our central task: Create Public Opinion...Seize Power. And in this period of political preparation, our newspaper is the heart and the hub of carrying out that central task.

In one way, it is a disadvantage that the conditions in a country like the U.S. do not make it possible to take up the armed struggle from the beginning, and as the main form of struggle all along. A revolutionary armed struggle opens the way and sweeps away obstacles for many great advances, including in people's thinking. But the political work we are doing now is laying a firm, solid foundation for the future armed struggle in the U.S.; and as we are part of the international proletariat, the armed struggles and other revolutionary struggles being waged in many different parts of the world also help prepare the ground and bring closer the time when armed struggle can be waged to seize power for the proletariat in imperialist citadels like the USA.....

Whenever this happens, whenever an opening for a real, all-the-way revolutionary struggle has been created, there must be revolutionary masses and a revolutionary vanguard armed with a correct political line and a correct military line. This is what preparing the ground for revolution is all about. This is what it means to be seriously working for revolution in the U.S. and to make the greatest possible contribution to the world proletarian revolution. This is the challenge for all those who are serious about revolution, who want to see such a revolution, right in the USA--who cannot wait for such a revolution and are willing, indeed determined to work for it.

"Preparing the Ground for Revolution,"
RW, August 18, 1986


I compared this political work to laying siege to the fortress of imperialist rule. Such political work can also be compared to preparatory bombardment. This political work is our equivalent of artillery, with the party newspaper the heaviest gun. With such political artillery we are "softening up" the enemy, while at the same time we are carrying out political movements and engagements to arouse the masses, influence the political terrain, and gather and train our forces. And we are learning to do this in a way that strengthens and protects our organization, and in that way prepares for the future. When the conditions do emerge, when the "mix" comes together, when the ground has been prepared as much as it can be, then it is time to seize the ground that has been prepared.

"Could We Really Win? The Possibility of Revolutionary War,"
RW, November 16, 1987


Three Main Points

What do we in the Revolutionary Communist Party want people to learn from all that is exposed and revealed in this newspaper? Mainly, three things:

1) The whole system we now live under is based on exploitation-- here and all over the world. It is completely worthless and no basic change for the better can come about until this system is overthrown.

2) Many different groups will protest and rebel against things this system does, and these protests and rebellions should be supported and strengthened. Yet it is only those with nothing to lose but their chains who can be the backbone of a struggle to actually overthrow this system and create a new system that will put an end to exploitation and help pave the way to a whole new world.

3) Such a revolutionary struggle is possible. There is a political Party that can lead such a struggle, a political Party that speaks and acts for those with nothing to lose but their chains: The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

This Party has the vision, the program, the leadership, and the organizational principles to unite those who must be united and enable them to do what must be done. There is a challenge for all those who would like to see such a revolution, those with a burning desire to see a drastic change for the better, all those who dare to dream and to act to bring about a completely new and better world: Support this Party, join this Party, spread its message and its organized strength, and prepare the ground for a revolutionary rising that has a solid basis and a real chance of winning.

Revolutionary Worker, first published September 1987


"Creating public opinion"...refers to an all-around process and all-around struggle through which the consciousness and also the organization and fighting capacity of the masses is raised in preparation for going over to the armed struggle to seize power when the revolutionary crisis breaks out.

Even though the form of struggle we must be focusing our efforts on now is essentially political, and not yet military, it is laying the basis for waging the all-out military struggle when the opportunity for that does ripen. Even though the battles waged by the masses in resisting the system are not today part of an actual revolutionary war, they have a crucial role to play in laying the groundwork for such a war.

This orientation must be popularized among the masses, enabling them to view and to take part in everything--all major world events and struggles in society--in terms of how this will influence and move things toward the eventual armed insurrection. Raising and popularizing this, now and in an ongoing way, is a necessary and crucial part of overall preparation for the armed struggle--for the shift in emphasis to the "seize power" aspect of our Central Task.

Within this whole process, the newspaper plays a pivotal role, in exposing the enemy and its crimes but also in rousing the people to rise in struggle and in supporting the outbreaks of protest and rebellion that do repeatedly erupt among the masses. Our experience has repeatedly shown that when major social and political questions grip society and major struggles break out--the Persian Gulf War, the 1992 L.A. Rebellion, the battle against Proposition 187 in California, the slashing of welfare and other ruling class assaults on the poor, the attacks on affirmative action, the fight to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal and to win his freedom, the battles around abortion, and so on--people who have been regularly reading the RW and have been trained in (or at least significantly influenced by) the line of the Party and the viewpoint and methodology of MLM are able to more fully grasp the essence and importance of these questions and generally to act in a more conscious and determined way around them.

In short, the role of the newspaper is in line with the basic Marxist principle that the point is not merely to understand the world but to change it....

"Create Public Opinion--Seize Power"?,
"Ask the Chairman," RW No. 834, December 3, 1995


In What Is To Be Done, Lenin emphasizes that the way the masses must and do develop proletarian class consciousness is by being enabled and trained to respond to all major social questions and world events, and how these find expression among all different strata; and they have to be trained to do this from a class-conscious proletarian point of view, and no other. They have to be trained to see not only how they come into confrontation with the ruling class in the more narrow and immediate sphere of their economic relations with their employers (or with their immediate exploiters and oppressors), and so on, but in the broader sense in which the proletariat as such comes into conflict with the ruling class. And they have to learn to make what Lenin calls a "materialist analysis and a materialist estimate" of all major social questions and world events and how this finds expression among different classes and strata--and therefore to recognize and distinguish the nature and interests of all different classes and strata in society.

"How Does the Proletariat Become Class-Conscious and
Uniting All Who Can Be United: A Strategic Realignment,"
RW No. 889, January 12, 1997


There's so much in common in people's experience that's actually hidden from them--I'm speaking here specifically about the basic proletarian masses--the common oppression that comes out when masses actually do get together and speak bitterness together.

You could be somebody Black in a housing project in Los Angeles, living right next door to a Mexican immigrant in the same housing project and having so many things in common in terms of what the system has done to you and the ways you've resisted it and so on, and yet have no inkling of that and only be caught up in the daily antagonisms and hassles--what the spontaneous working of the system and the conscious policy of the ruling class is fostering. So it's very important for us to bring out not only the common interests but also, concretely, common experiences and common struggle, by applying historical materialism, enabling people to see this....

Our Party has an irreplaceable, indispensable role overall, in terms of bringing this alive for the masses in a way that really paints a vivid picture for them--really enables them to see their common class interests and how different strands of experience, even internationally, all tie together in terms of a common class interest--and also how this is distinguished from other classes and strata, but at the same time what the basis is for uniting with or winning over these other strata (or at least winning them to friendly neutrality). People really need to understand this.

"How Does the Proletariat Become Class-Conscious and
Uniting All Who Can Be United: A Strategic Realignment,"
RW No. 889, January 12, 1997


You have to lead the people to fight back, you have to move masses of people to battle the system in a way that is guided by revolutionary ideology and serves revolutionary aims. And through all this you have to build up the revolutionary consciousness and organization of the masses, with the Maoist vanguard Party at the very core, and prepare the revolutionary people to wage people's war when the conditions for that are ripe.

Build the places where we live and work as strong bases of support for proletarian revolution, with a deep and firm Party organization as the bedrock foundation. Spread our influence throughout society, especially where people are protesting and rebelling. Use the Party's newspaper as the hub and the guide in all this, in doing everything to help bring about, as quickly as possible, the conditions where we can begin the highest form of the struggle--the fight for power over society.

The thousands who are reached and moved now will be the backbone and the force to lead millions when, "all of a sudden," millions are starting to bust loose. When there is a great upheaval throughout society; when the victims on the bottom just won't take it any more; when those on top are in real trouble and are fighting among themselves; when many of those in the middle support us, or at least don't feel like fighting to defend this system: Then it is time to strike --and to hold back nothing--time to take power by force and arms.

That time is coming, and we must get ourselves and others ready for it.

previously unpublished

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)