Putting An End to 'Sin', Part 3

Putting An End to Inequality

by Bob Avakian

Revolutionary Worker #985, December 6, 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 significant 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 around the impeachment of Clinton, 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 rwor.org.


Communist principles include, as decisive aspects, the goal of overcoming all inequality between men and women and between different peoples and nations. The communist viewpoint and methodology makes clear that the oppression of women is inextricably bound up with the division of society into classes and all the exploitation and oppression that has accompanied this for thousands of years, and that the abolition of this exploitation and oppression and of class distinctions themselves is inextricably bound up with the emancipation of women. In other words, the emancipation of women is a vital part of the "4 Alls,"<$F> and all aspects of sexual and family relations must be evaluated essentially in terms of how they relate to this emancipation.

Communist morality supports those things that advance the fight for that emancipation and opposes everything that debases women and that reinforces their oppression in any way--including both "end-of-the-empire" sexual decadence and "traditional morality," the degradation of pornography and the degradation of the Bible.

Similarly, while the ultimate achievement of communism will mean that not only hostility between nations but even the separation of humanity into different nations will have been overcome and replaced by the cooperative association of people throughout the world, this can only come about through a determined struggle to achieve equality between nations as a crucial part of the transition to communism. And, in turn, the achievement of equality between nations means, in its most concentrated and decisive aspect, the right of self-determination of oppressed nations and in particular the liberation of the great majority of the world's nations, throughout the Third World, which are still subjected to all-around imperialist domination.

Communist morality opposes those things that uphold imperialist domination and inequality between nations--including discrimination against the languages and cultures of oppressed nations and minority nationalities and all chauvinist notions of the superiority of one people or nation over others--and communist morality supports those things that foster unity between the masses of people of all nationalities, on the basis of the fight for equality between nations, the right of self-determination and the liberation of oppressed nations.

Both the examination of particular social questions and the discussion of general principles illustrate that communist morality does have both a definite basis and concrete application in the world in this era. As Engels explained, for the first time in history, the development of human society--with its foundation in the material forces of production--has reached the point where, for humanity as a whole (as opposed to relatively small and isolated groups of people in previous epochs), there is the basis for people to relate to each other, and to meet their material and cultural needs, on an increasingly ascending level without the division of society into different classes and without oppression and social antagonism. And that is not all: Engels went further to show that not only is the division of society into classes and the monopolization of wealth and power and of intellectual life by a small handful no longer necessary, but such division and monopolization has now become "economically, politically, intellectually, a hindrance to development." (Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, emphasis added)

Thus, while communist morality--like all other morality--is not transcendental, in the sense of being independent of any historical and social basis and being applicable in any era, it does have the quality of universality precisely for this era: it corresponds to the leap that humanity must make in this era and to the means for making that leap.

Communist ideology is not, as its opponents often claim, a "new religion" (although it has at times been degraded into something like that by revisionists, and into something like a "state religion" by revisionists who have risen to power). On the contrary, it is based on a scientific approach to understanding the actual forces operating in nature and in society--it points the way to an historic advance in humanity's ability to understand and to transform these natural and social forces--and it provides a real and firm grounding for principles and morality that correspond to the great leap that humanity has already begun to make.

Communists, Mao said, should have largeness of mind; they should be bold and resolute in fighting for revolution and should put the revolution above everything else in their lives, subordinating personal interests to the revolutionary interests of the masses; they should consistently "adhere to principle and wage a tireless struggle against all incorrect ideas and actions, so as to consolidate the collective life of the Party and strengthen the ties between the Party and the masses"; and they should be more concerned about the Party and the masses than about any particular individual and more concerned about others than about themselves. (See "Combat Liberalism.") This encapsulates the essence of communist morality in the historic era of transition from the bourgeois epoch to the epoch of world communism, of radical rupture with tradition's chains, both material and ideological.

1 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/em> No. 981.)

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