Putting an End to 'Sin', Part 2

What's Good for the Oppressor is Evil for the Oppressed

By Bob Avakian

Revolutionary Worker #982, November 15, 1998

"From whatever vantage point one looks, it is unmistakable that there is what could be called `a moral crisis in America.' There has been, to a signi- ficant degree, `a breakdown of traditional morality,' But the answer to this--at least the answer that is in the interests of the majority of people in the U.S. and the overwhelming majority of humanity--is not a more aggressive assertion of that `traditional morality' but winning people to a radically different morality, in the process of and as a key part of radically transforming society and the world as a whole. It is not the tightening but the shattering of tradition's chains that is called for."

Bob Avakian

In light of the power struggle now threatening to bring down a president, the 1996 essays by Bob Avakian on the `crisis of morality' in U.S. society are both timely and insightful. These important essays include: "Preaching From a Pulpit of Bones: The Reality Beneath William Bennett's `Virtues,' Or We Need Morality, But Not Traditional Morality"; and "Putting An End to `Sin' Or We Need Morality, But Not Traditional Morality (Part 2)." In the following excerpt from "Putting An End to 'Sin'" he discusses communist morality.

Other selections from Avakian's essays will follow in future issues and the entire series will soon be available on our website at http://rwor.org.


Take the question of politics and political power--how should society be governed and by whom? Another of the main accusations against communists is that they believe in and practice dictatorship. This is true--communists openly declare that their immediate political aim in overthrowing the capitalist system is to establish a dictatorship--but precisely the dictatorship of the proletariat: the rule over society by the (formerly) exploited class and masses of oppressed people and the repression of the overthrown exploiting class as well as newborn exploiters and oppressors.

This dictatorship differs from other forms of political power--of the state--in two essential ways: first, it represents, for the first time in history, the rule of the (formerly) exploited over the exploiters, and it is carried out in the interests of the masses of people; second, and most essentially, the aim of this proletarian state is not to perpetuate the status quo but to continue to revolutionize it, with the final aim of abolishing all exploitation and oppression and all class distinctions (achieving the "4 Alls")* and together with that abolishing the need for any form of the state, for any form of government through which one group in society dominates others. But this proletarian state does not differ from previous states by being a dictatorship: dictatorship is the essential character of all states--whether they acknowledge it or not--including the bourgeois "democratic" state that exists in the USA today.

In the U.S., as in all societies divided into classes, one class has a dominant position in the economy--it controls the forces of production, including not only land, machinery, and so on, but the working people as well--and on this basis it controls the political institutions and structures, as well as dominating in the realm of culture and ideology. As a concentrated expression of this, it has a monopoly on armed force, which it uses to impose its rule and to suppress those who pose a fundamental threat to that rule. This is dictatorship, regardless of whether or not those dictated to are allowed to vote on which group of politicians shall administer this dictatorship on behalf of that dominant class.

From the standpoint of communist principles and morality, the dictatorship of the proletariat is necessary and good, while the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is the direct impediment to the emancipation of the masses of people and to the advance of humanity and is in that sense "evil."

Communists recognize the need for and fight for equality between different nations and between men and women, but not between classes: there cannot be equality between classes, because one class or another must rule and organize society in accordance with its fundamental interests, and only through the rule of the proletariat can all class divisions be finally overcome.

Here is another illustration of why there cannot be a transcendental morality that is applied for all time and to all equally, without regard to class distinctions. Just as "love for all humanity" (without regard to class distinction) cannot actually be put into practice in a class-divided society, neither can such things as the "golden rule": if the proletariat fails to "do unto" the bourgeoisie things it does not want the bourgeoisie to "do unto" it--if the proletariat does not overthrow the bourgeoisie and then exercise dictatorship over it--then the result, in the real world, can only be that the bourgeoisie will exercise dictatorship over the proletariat and exploit the masses of people; and class distinctions, oppressive division of labor, and social antagonisms will not be abolished.

But, again, it is not a matter of a ruling class (or its political leadership) simply saying that it represents the dictatorship of the proletariat and is ruling in the interests of the masses of people--this must be true in fact, it must be realized in practice. The organs of political power, and indeed all parts of the political and ideological superstructure of society, must be characterized by the increasing and increasingly class-conscious participation of the broad masses of people, breaking down the division between mental and manual labor and other major social divisions, and moving toward the achievement of the "4 Alls" in unity with the revolutionary struggle of the proletarians and oppressed masses throughout the world--here, again, is the principle of the fundamental unity between the final aim of communism and the ends and means at every stage along the way toward that final aim.

This is what was represented by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China--an unprecedented "revolution within the revolution" waged by hundreds of millions of people against conditions, relations, customs, habits and ways of thinking that acted as fetters on the masses' ability to rule and transform society, and against the social and political forces that upheld those fetters.

While this Cultural Revolution was led by Mao and his revolutionary comrades in the Communist Party, it was--as Mao himself emphasized--a gigantic uprising from below, and one of its most important aims and achievements was to expose the negative aspects of the Party and to further revolutionize the Party as a crucial part of carrying forward the revolutionization of society as a whole. All this is precisely why the Cultural Revolution--and Mao's role --have been so grotesquely distorted and heaped with such abuse and slander by those reactionary social and political forces who were its target, from Deng Xiaoping to the ruling classes of the United States and the rest of the imperialist world.


* The basis for communist morality is contained, in a concentrated way, in what Maoists refer to as the "4 Alls." This is drawn from the summary by Marx of what the communist revolution aims for and leads to: the abolition of all class distinctions (or "class distinctions generally"); the abolition of all the relations of production on which these class distinctions rest; the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production; and the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations. (See "What Is Communist Morality?" RW No. 841.)

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