We Have A World to Win

Bob Avakian on Imperialism and Internationalism

Revolutionary Worker #1032, November 28, 1999

These quotes are taken from the writings of RCP Chairman Bob Avakian.

Imperialism means huge monopolies and financial institutions controlling the economies and the political systems--and the lives of people--not just in one country but all over the world. Imperialism means parasitic exploiters who oppress hundreds of millions of people and condemn them to untold misery; parasitic financiers who can cause millions to starve just by pressing a computer key and thereby shifting vast amounts of wealth from one place to another. Imperialism means war--war to put down the resistance and rebellion of the oppressed, and war between rival imperialist states--it means the leaders of these states can condemn humanity to unbelievable devastation, perhaps even total annihilation, with the push of a button. Imperialism is capitalism at the stage where its basic contradictions have been raised to tremendously explosive levels. But imperialism also means that there will be revolution--the oppressed rising up to overthrow their exploiters and tormentors--and that this revolution will be a world wide struggle to sweep away the global monster, imperialism.


In the world today the advanced productive forces are concentrated in a handful of the advanced--that is, imperialist--countries while the economies of most of the countries in the world are not simply backward but distorted, disarticulated in their development because of imperialist domination and plunder. This is what I mean by "lopsidedness."


Some people now, including bourgeois analysts, are full of dire predictions--foreseeing a big mix and mess, a melange of revolution and crime all over the world--in places from Brazil to Africa. And the truth is that, if and where the proletarian revolution does not advance, there will be truly dire things happening--particularly from the point of view of the masses of people. Here, again, what stands out very sharply is the tremendous importance--as a material force and as a beacon--of the People's War in Peru, as well as the People's War that has just been launched in Nepal and in general People's Wars led by an MLM vanguard. This holds out the other road for the masses of people, the road away from disaster and toward liberation, for the great majority of humanity. This is not an abstract intellectual thing--it is very real.

"Two Humps in the World Revolution: Putting the Enemy on the Run,"
Revolutionary Worker #940, January 18, 1998

In today's world with its oppressing and lopsided social and international relations, starving children in Africa--and for that matter, the great majority of humanity, which lives only a few short steps from starvation--do not have the right to make plans for the distribution of the world's productive forces and resources in a way that could eliminate such starvation and misery and make possible a whole new life. Nor, for that matter, do the people in the "advanced" imperialist countries have this right (or even the right to take practical, meaningful steps to forestall mass starvation in the very short run) even if they wish to do so. Such rights, and whole new vistas of freedom, can become reality only through world-overturning revolution that in its ultimate achievement will sweep away the bourgeois notions of what constitutes freedom and justice.


If you're going to have a proletarian revolution, there has to be, and you have to base yourself among, that stratum of people for whom (to echo another song title), the world has always been a ghetto...There does have to be a class for whom the world is a ghetto, but also people whose material interests correspond in a general way--not some abstract, absolute "pure" way--to the outlook and the interests of the proletariat. And the point is, there is such a force. With all the dislocations, upheavals, with all the disastrous consequences for the masses that they're being dragged through and the disorientation and demoralization spontaneously arising in connection with this, there is a class, a class whose objective interests and outlook--together with our work to give this class-conscious expression as a material force--represent the bridge across that yawning chasm between what's needed to resolve the contradictions, not only in a particular country but on a world scale, and what, in fact, the conditions are today and how they are impinging upon the lives of the people, the great majority of humanity.

"The World Is a Ghetto...The World Can Be Radically Changed,"
Revolutionary Worker #905, May 4, 1997

There is a very widespread, profound and accelerating phenomenon of the dispossession and uprooting of huge masses of people, in particular the peasantry, in many parts of the Third World. There have been, over the past several decades, huge increases not only in the dispossession and uprooting of the peasantry but, associated with that, in the urbanization, or we could say "shantytownization" of the uprooted peasants--and this trend is accelerating. All this is taking place within the context of imperialist domination and lopsidedness and the accompanying disarticulation of the economies of these countries.

A particularly important aspect or expression of this is that these masses who are being dispossessed, uprooted, urbanized or "shantytownized" are not being "organically integrated" into the dominant economy (or what's often called the "formal economy"). And this again is finding an even more extreme expression with the present major technological changes and transitions that are going on in the world economy, with the development of the "enclave economies" within these countries--enclaves of privilege and "high technology" within the overall dispossession, disarticulation and immiseration in society--and a sharp repolarization, or worsening of the existing polarization, within these Third World countries.

"A Time of Major Transitions, Food for Thought," Revolutionary Worker #901, April 6, 1997

The proletariat in advancing the struggle can only advance it by approaching it, and seeking to advance it, on a world level first of all. This doesn't mean of course that you try to make revolution irrespective of the conditions in different parts of the world or the conditions within particular countries, but it means that even in approaching that you proceed from the point of view of the world arena as most decisive and the overall interests of the world proletariat as paramount. And that is not merely a good idea. It has a very material foundation, which has been laid by the system of imperialism.


Proletarian internationalism really is founded on a concrete material reality. There really is a world imperialist system that is the common enemy of people whether they reside in the citadels, the homelands, where the imperialist monster is centered and has its foundations so to speak, or whether they live in the vast areas of what's referred to commonly as the Third World, the colonial and dependent countries.


It's important to focus on Marx's statement that human society is the trustee of the globe, and how insane it is for different nations, and even different individuals within different nations, to be battling each other for control over little parcels of this earth in a way which can only maintain anarchy and stand as a great obstacle to human society consciously deciding how to best use--and at the same time preserve for the future and develop--the globe of which it is the trustee.


If you can conceive of a world without America--without everything America stands for and everything it does in the world--then you've already taken great strides and begun to get at least a glimpse of a whole new world. If you can envision a world without any imperialism, exploitation, oppression--and the whole philosophy that rationalizes it--a world without division into classes or even different nations, and all the narrow-minded, selfish, outmoded ideas that uphold this; if you can envision all this, then you have the basis for proletarian internationalism. And once you have raised your sights to all this, how could you not feel compelled to take an active part in the world historic struggle to realize it; why would you want to lower your sights to anything less?


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