Revolution #203, June 13, 2010
Opening Speech at May 29-30 Conferences on the Campaign, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"
Nearly a year ago, the RCP, USA launched a campaign around "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have." Anchored by a powerful Message and Call from the Party, the campaign has accomplished some important things. But the campaign has not yet broken through to its main objectives—popularizing to millions the need for, and character of, revolution; making the leadership of this revolution, Bob Avakian, a household word; and bringing forward a core of new fighters around this revolution and this leadership. To deal with this, the Party called conferences on May 29 and 30 in two cities.
These conferences were very successful. People came from a number of different cities, large and small. And they brought a wide range of experience with them—experience in different forms of fighting the power and, in many cases, in beginning to take out revolution. The chemistry that came through by having people with diverse viewpoints and experience wrangle with the purposes and goals for this campaign and then, on that basis, develop ideas and plans—and in so doing, constantly returning to those larger goals and purposes—brought forward something new. For the first time there was a sense of a national campaign; now the charge is to make that real, and take it all to a higher level.
I. We Need Revolution
We have a lot to do here this weekend, a lot to accomplish, and I want to lay out a framework that can help us accomplish that on the best possible basis. Our overall purpose is to take this campaign—"The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"—to a qualitatively higher level.
So I'm going to talk about why we undertook this campaign. I'm going to talk about the high stakes involved. I'm going to get into the goals of this campaign. And then I want to explain in some depth what all this has to do with doing what we ultimately and urgently need to do—and that is to make revolution.
But I want to start by talking about Aiyana Stanley-Jones, the 7-year-old child murdered by Detroit police two weeks ago today. I know you've read in our paper how she was sleeping on the couch in the living room, next to her grandmother, when the cops swarmed into their home after midnight. You may have read how the cops had every basis to know that there were children in the home because they had been surveilling the place. How these pigs shot her in the head and then carried her lifeless body out of her home like a rag doll. How they then brutalized her father and arrested her grandmother, putting her in chains. And how all this was filmed for a reality TV show in order to sell back to people their own brutalization and degradation, and add bitter insult to the horrible injury. How the mayor of Detroit then jumped to defend the police and attack the family's lawyer and, yes, attack the masses themselves for "making bad decisions." How Al Sharpton then ran to Detroit to "give the glory to god"—and put the blame on Black people themselves, especially the youth. But to echo the article in our paper, THAT'S STILL NOT THE WORST OF IT: for yet again, at least for now, the masses have been forced to chew on their sorrow and swallow their anger and just walk on—until they eventually turn it back, once more, against each other.
Or maybe you read in our paper a few weeks back about the massacre in Gardez, Afghanistan. Twenty-five people were celebrating the birth of Hajji Sharaf Udin's newborn grandson. At 3 in the morning, again while people were sleeping, Udin's son, Mohammed Dawoud went to investigate noises that he heard outside. The noises were American special forces, who promptly murdered Dawoud. Just like the Detroit police, these American soldiers then attacked the house and murdered three women who were crouching behind the door in fear. Bibi Shirin was 22 years old and the mother of four children under 5; Bibi Saleha was 37 and the mother of 11 children; and Gulalai was 18 years old. Maybe you remember how those same American soldiers then assaulted the survivors, arresting eight of them and holding them for four days of American-style interrogation, hoods and all, and then tried to cover up the massacre, stonewalling and lying for more than a month before the truth finally became undeniable. And here too THAT'S STILL NOT THE WORST OF IT—for all too many people remain passive in the face of this and other outrages by the Obama administration, including Obama's self-declared right to assassinate, without even the semblance of any due process, anyone that he decides to.
Or maybe you're burning in anger over Arizona and its maniacal fascist legislature, one day virtually criminalizing people of color and almost literally the next day forbidding the teaching of ethnic studies—including the teaching of the historical fact that the U.S. stole New Mexico, Arizona and large parts of the rest of the western U.S. from Mexico in the first place...because teaching that fact "might incur resentment."
Maybe you read our declaration for women's liberation and the emancipation of all humanity, and were stunned by what it revealed about the scope and depth of the oppression of one half of humanity all over the world. A fabric of oppression, to quote our declaration, that "is carved deeply into the calloused hands of women in the sweatshops of China and Honduras," that "is draped over the faces of young women in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia," that "is stripped off the bodies of girls of Moldova and Bangkok who are put up for sale in brothels," and that "is worn like a prize by pre-teens in the U.S. and Europe who are taught to dress and move like sex objects long before they understand what sex even is."
Or maybe you're heartsick over the disaster now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe you've read our paper, which goes into the real depth of this disaster, and here too, once again, exposes the lying and suppression and cover-up that is second nature to the people who run this system.
Or perhaps you're losing sleep over the continued rise of a fascist movement in this country... distressed about people who have been organized by one section of the rulers to aim their resentment and anger toward those "below" them or "slightly higher"—toward immigrants and Latinos more generally...toward Black people, particularly poor Black people...and on the other hand, toward intellectuals and artists...and, yes, toward communists, including very explicitly this Party.
All that and more keeps you up at night. All that and more brought you here today.
But the fact is: none of this has to be this way.
Let's go back again to the heartless murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Mayor Bing in Detroit said this: "It's quite demoralizing. I don't know how to stop it." But we DO know how to stop it. We know how to stop it because we know how to deal with what started it and what keeps it going—this rotten capitalist system, with its ever-changing but somehow never-dying structures of white supremacy. We don't need murdering pigs—but so long as you have a SYSTEM which relies on the social structures designed to keep the masses of Black people and other people of color impoverished, imprisoned, insulted and brutalized, then for just that long there will be murdering pigs to enforce those structures. But we don't need that system and we can do away with that system—through revolution.
And no, we don't need the masses of youth preying on each other and even killing each other off. But so long as you have this capitalist system, where everything and everyone is looked at as a source of profit and where as a result "look out for number one and screw everyone else" (while "giving it to god" on Sunday) is the real morality that is promoted and reinforced every day... so long as you have these white supremacist, racist institutions constantly blaring the message that lives lived in black and brown skins are worth less than those lived in white skins... then this kind of ugly thing will play out amongst the most oppressed...whether you are talking about Detroit, Mexico City, Mumbai or Paris. But we can do away with that too, but not by sermons and not by education—education that leads nowhere. We can do away with it if—but only if—we make revolution against the system that spawns it and do away with that system and all its fucked-up ways of relating. This system, with its planet of slums and its planet of gangs, has NO future for these youth—but the revolution DOES.
We need state power—revolutionary state power—a state power not of these imperialists, but a state power serving and rooted in the masses of people, with the leadership of the vanguard party. If we had state power, we would deal with the worst of this overnight, even as we set about the longer but still do-able process of leading people to tear up the deeper roots of this horror. And even before we have that power, right now as we ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution, we are learning how to draw these youth into something else and something far better—fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution.
We can stop this shit. It doesn't have to be this way. We don't need a system that divides the world into different sets of turf ruled by different cliques of legitimate gangsters—that is, the ruling capitalist-imperialists—fighting like dogs over who has the right to exploit and super-exploit the people and to plunder the resources of the earth. What we need is revolutionary state power—and if we had it, we would use it to build a system that does NOT run on the worldwide division of people into exploiter and exploited, oppressor and oppressed. We would use that state power NOT to rain down terror on oppressed people all over the planet, but to support revolution—REAL revolution, revolution designed to end oppression and NOT just repackage it, with a different set of oppressors—all over this planet.
And there is no objective need to befoul and devastate and destroy the environment either—unless you have a system in which every player is driven to seek profit on top of more profit... If we had the power, we could forge a future where people would live as caretakers of the planet, nursing its terrible wounds and developing a sustainable relationship to nature—and not piratically and insanely plundering the earth the way that these rulers do now. These dominators and despoilers need to get the fuck out of the way—and the people need to MAKE them do it, through revolution, for these capitalists will never leave on their own. Just look at the principles in the special issue of Revolution on how our revolutionary socialist state power would handle the environment and tell me that there is anyone else willing to stand up and say "Give US the power, and we could deal with this"—and able to actually back that up with substance. [Revolution's special issue on the environment is available online at revcom.us/environment/]
We want state power. We would use that state power both to prevent the exploiters from returning and to set about resolving the great disparities and inequalities in the world—between oppressor and oppressed nations, between men and women, between those who work with ideas and those who are locked out of that sphere—and we would do it in a society that would be full of ferment and initiative from many different directions.
II. Revolution Is Fighting To Break Out...
Revolution—the REAL revolution, the communist revolution—could deal with all these outrages and more, and could do it as part of moving forward to a planet without any exploitation...without any forms of oppression...and without all the institutions and ideas, whether ancient or oh-so-modern, that reflect and reinforce that exploitation and oppression. Revolution—the REAL revolution, the communist revolution—would get rid of their instruments of oppression and it would bring in a new power, one which would mobilize the people to transform the material reality they face.
We need state power—state power to defend the people as they overcome the age-old divisions and as they work through the complicated but nevertheless very do-able and very joyful process of dissolving the mental shackles that chain their minds. We need a state power that would lead people to transform their own supposedly unchangeable human nature, not in a crude way that tramples on people's individuality, but through a whole process where as people transform the material world they are also led, and take initiative, to open up capacities and parts of themselves that they never knew they had.
But here's the most painful thing of all: this revolution right now is pretty much off the map in people's thinking. Even where people are fighting back—like in Arizona, or in the fights against education cuts—we have to face it: Revolution isn't out there as a REAL viable possibility in their thinking.
This revolution—the REAL revolution, the communist revolution—is fighting for its life. That's right, fighting for its life. And not just to survive, as some kind of abstract hope that might as well be a religion—but to survive and grow as a real contending force, increasingly mobilizing people to fight the power, and preparing people to SEIZE the power as part of conquering and transforming the whole world.
But even worse—not only is the reality of this not known to most people, to the extent they have heard of it, people have been convinced that such a revolution is either impossible or undesirable.
How did this happen?
The communist revolutions that came to and held power—first in the Soviet Union in 1917 and lasting for several decades, and then in China from 1949 to 1976—achieved things that had never been seen on this planet. People began the process of genuinely freeing themselves, and they set about creating a whole new world on the soil of this rotten and decaying one.
But these were the first attempts. These new socialist states were surrounded on all sides, constantly invaded or threatened with invasion. The leaders of these societies were starting almost from scratch in building a world without exploitation and oppression. True, they had the insightful and far-seeing (but nevertheless beginning and somewhat basic) framework brought forward by Marx and Engels, and then Lenin; but now all that had to be applied, and that is always more complicated and full of learning once you get into it. In both the Soviet Union and then China, our movement led people to do amazing things, our movement and its revolutions inspired the whole world, and tremendous lessons were learned. But ultimately both these revolutions were, as the Message and Call of this campaign puts it, "turned back by the forces of the old order."
Looking at it from the long view of history, looking at it with a scientific understanding of how different classes come into being and the tortuous process through which they reshape the world in their own image—and on this point, I will refer people to especially the second part of Bob Avakian's talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About—these defeats are very painful but not surprising. And from this same viewpoint, it is not surprising that the imperialists—the concentration of everything that is old, decaying, rotten and reactionary in this world—would then do everything that they could to bury this movement, once and for all.
I mean, talk about brainwash! These imperialists use their television stations, their publishing houses, and their news media to slander and distort these revolutions, and to downplay and deny their incredible accomplishments, day after day, week after week, year in and year out. Where this movement has still raised its head, these imperialists have used threats and prison and murder, as well as slander. And all the while, they have brought forward and supported, all over the world, religious fundamentalists as "an alternative" for dispossessed and angry youth.
Their so-called brilliant scholars just brazenly make up lies or distort facts, as Raymond Lotta so powerfully shows in his talks, and then they broadcast them over and over until "everyone knows" these lies as the truth. Those who dissent or question this verdict are warned, sometimes quietly and sometimes quite openly, that they are risking their "access" and their position... and sometimes more. And the imperialists have also played on real weaknesses and shortcomings of the first stage of our revolution, some of them quite serious—even as those shortcomings were overall secondary to the great achievements.
It got so bad, over those decades, that all too many communists themselves—including, yes, most of us in this Party—let themselves get worn down by it and, in the words of the Manifesto from our Party, objectively abandoned the outlook and aims of the communist revolution, accommodated to the system of imperialism, and settled for, at most, reforms within this horrific system. All too many communists stopped being communists, perhaps not in word, but in fact.
III. The Leadership We Need...For A New Stage of Communist Revolution
But there was, during this period, someone who traveled a different road. The Message and Call puts it this way:
While many others have given up, Bob Avakian has worked and struggled tirelessly to find the way to go forward, having learned crucial lessons and built lasting organization that could continue the struggle, and aim to take it higher, while uniting with the same struggle throughout the world.
Bob Avakian confronted the problem, head on and straight up. He analyzed the first stage of the communist revolution, upholding its achievements but also confronting and digging into its shortcomings. He worked on the problems we faced, he wrangled with them from many different angles, and in the course of this he came up with a new synthesis of communism—something that is comparable, as the Manifesto from our Party says, to "what was done by Marx at the beginning of the communist movement—establishing, in the new conditions that exist, after the end of the first stage of the communist revolution, a theoretical framework for the renewed advance of that revolution." Communism has not only been defended, but further developed and, in important aspects, re-envisioned through Bob Avakian's new synthesis.
And when he found that most of the people in the Party that he led were pulling to a different road, turning away from advancing the revolution and into a preoccupation with building a reformist movement, in one form or another, he launched a tremendous struggle within that Party—a cultural revolution within the RCP—to not only get this Party back onto the revolutionary road, but to put it on a more profoundly revolutionary basis than ever.
This Cultural Revolution was a struggle over LINE—that is, over what would be the guiding method of the Party for understanding reality; over how the Party understood the whole history of our revolution; and over the strategy and policies that flowed from that method and understanding. At bottom, it was over whether this would be a revolutionary party—a vanguard of the future—or whether it would be a relic of the past. And this high-risk high-stakes struggle, initiated and led by Bob Avakian, did in fact result in a
real revitalization of the revolutionary and communist outlook, objectives, spirit, and culture of the Party—a Party facing squarely, and confronting scientifically, the complexities, the difficulties and the dangers, as well as the inspiration, of doing all it can to work for revolution in this country, and to contribute the most it can to this same cause throughout the world, all aiming for the final goal of communism. 1
Bob Avakian saved this Party as a revolutionary party; and now this Party must, and can, move forward and lead people to initiate a whole new stage of communism, fighting for this understanding everywhere and using it to make revolution right here.
So, when people ask, "Why do you make such a big deal about Bob Avakian?" there's a very basic truth that they're not getting. And we should tell them that, straight up, with no apology. Without Bob Avakian and the work he did and is doing—without Bob Avakian and the courageous struggle he waged, and led—it is very likely that there would BE no communism today, at least no vital and viable communism. Without Bob Avakian, it is very likely that there would be no Party in the U.S. today—at least no party that is really a vanguard of revolution—nor would there be a revolutionary movement.
One more thing. Without Bob Avakian—BA—and the work he's done, it is very likely that there would be no plan, no foundation and no strategy for actually making revolution in the USA—actually figuring out how to break through the suffocating situation of today and get things to the point where people in their millions could actually be won and roused to take on this monster...and to win.
Do you realize how precious THAT is? To not only be able to uncover and analyze the causes and forces behind the character of the prison that confines you...to not only see the basis for a future without those bars and chains...but to know the way out?
Why do we make such a big deal about Bob Avakian? Because he IS a big deal. And in fact, we need to make a much bigger deal about him—and that's one big objective of this campaign, and one big thing we're going to be getting into this weekend. The work he has done has provided the potential to MAKE revolution known; and not just known—to make it a real goal, actively fought for, by increasing numbers of people—a viable force that can actually carry forward the needed changes that only grow more urgent with each unbearable day. The Party that he has fought for and led in re-forging can lead that. We don't intend to die of slow suffocation; we don't intend to "fight the good fight" so that we can shuffle off the stage with good consciences... we intend to do what the old '60s song said: "break on through to the other side."
IV. The Campaign and Its Objectives
This campaign—The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have—is the crucial link to getting on a trajectory to doing that. And that's what this conference has got to be about. To quote from the letter that called you here:
People need to hear and see that things DON'T have to be this way. They need to hear about revolution. And they need to know there is a Party that is building a movement for revolution. That is what this campaign is about. We aim to make known to millions the goal and character of thisrevolution, communist revolution, as it has been revitalized and reconceived by Bob Avakian; to make the leader of this revolution a household word; and through all this to forge a core of dedicated fighters who are going to advocate for this revolution and make it a driving dynamic force in society and the world.
These three goals are somewhat distinct, but they work together. First of all, people got to know about, hear about, see, and FEEL the revolution. In all kinds of different ways—speeches, posters, literature, and yes, in bold hard-fought struggles standing up against the system and its enforcers, especially where it is carrying out its most atrocious outrages—this revolution has to get known. People have got to see the revolutionaries rolling with these T-shirts with the BA image or with the Revolution masthead. People got to see, and they have stand up with, the revolutionaries standing firm and fighting back when we come under all the different attacks that the system comes at us with, and we have to mobilize them to make every assault politically boomerang against the enforcers of oppression, as we turn these attacks into a way for more people to hear about and come together to defend this new movement.
People have got to know—and we have to bring it home in all kinds of imaginative ways—that this is not just about their neighborhood, but it's something going on all over the nation, with potentially worldwide reverberations.They have to see and hear this Message and Call not once, not twice, but over and over—coming from different places, some unexpected and even wild—so that this doesn't just fade from memory after a week or two. They have to be led to go deeply into this statement—this Message and Call is RICH, this is "Revolution 101"—with a basic foundation in the goals, methods and strategy of revolution concentrated in it. The basic fact that there is a movement for revolution...a revolutionary communist movement...this has to penetrate into the atmosphere, and affect all of society. Some people are gonna love it, some people are gonna hate it, and some people are gonna just have it circulating in their minds—but the revolution has got to get out there and get known. Let me tell you, the days will come—and they may come sooner than you think and almost certainly those days will come before we feel fully ready for them—when masses of people will be seeking a way out. And when they do, they better know something about this revolution.
But there's another element to this campaign, another objective. There's making known the leadership of Bob Avakian. I've talked about Bob Avakian in one dimension earlier, and it's an important one: the objectively undeniable role he's played in laying a foundation from which the whole movement can go forward and in waging a battle to save this Party as a revolutionary...communist...party. But there's more to say. The Message and Call puts it this way:
Bob Avakian has developed the scientific theory and strategic orientation for how to actually make the kind of revolution we need, and he is leading our Party as an advanced force of this revolution. He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world. The possibility for revolution, right here, and for the advance of the revolution everywhere, is greatly heightened because of Bob Avakian and the leadership he is providing. And it is up to us to get with this leadership...to find out more about Bob Avakian and the Party he heads...to learn from his scientific method and approach to changing the world...to build this revolutionary movement with our Party at the core...to defend this leadership as the precious thing it is...and, at the same time, to bring our own experience and understanding to help strengthen the process of revolution and enable the leadership we have to keep on learning more and leading even better.
"A great champion and a great resource for the people here, and indeed people all over the world." People need to know that, they need a basic sense of how that is so, and they need to know him. It is up to us to get Bob Avakian's memoir—From Ike to Mao and Beyond—out there to people. Up to us to spread the Revolution talk to people, watch it with them where we can, and write up the lessons of that for our newspaper. Up to us to get this T-shirt out there, and this way cool graphic out and about. Up to us to do a hundred and one other things that are going to get taken up in this workshop tomorrow to make this leader a household word.
Obviously, things have not yet broken loose in this country. And in many ways the atmosphere is more suffocating and locked down than it was in the early '60s—though there ARE openings, some of which we can recognize and seize on, and some of which we are going to have to create. But there is a real basis to get Bob Avakian's leadership out there, now, on a much much huger scale than it has been, through this campaign, and to do that in such a way so that when and as things begin to open up—and this campaign, along with other things we do, is part of prying things open—he will be a point of reference and more than that: a magnetic pole for people who are searching for a leader with real answers and real substance.
And look. I've read reports about, and I've talked to people, who've said, "It would make such a difference if we could see and meet the Chairman in person. It would make such a big difference if the Chairman could be out here speaking." Now some people say that in a nasty way or a baiting way. But the people I'm talking about are mostly coming from a good place. Well, the Party appreciates your sentiment. But let me also say this: the Chair IS "out here." He's out here in his memoir... out here in the Revolution talk...out here in the graphic image...in the pages of Revolution newspaper, almost every week...in other audios that are online. He's out here and we have to get him much much further out here to hundreds of thousands and then to millions. Not five years from now, not two years from now, but right now—beginning with the plans we make this weekend. Let's make "Are you getting into BA?" a mass challenge. And let's make "GET INTO BA" a mass slogan.
And we have to be bold with people. We don't need to—in fact we most definitely should NOT—get into long defensive explanations when people raise this stuff about "why are you making such a big deal," or "everyone says you're a cult," or "I don't follow leaders"—in other words, when people begin, frankly, repeating a lot of the conventional wisdom or prejudices that have been hammered at by the bourgeoisie in these past 35 years of counter-revolution. No. We should just put it right out there, like I said to you earlier: you don't understand—without Bob Avakian there would very likely be no revolutionary communism in today's world. And the fact is that we're not promoting him ENOUGH yet—and we aim to do a whole lot more and a whole lot better!
We should put it out there, plainly, matter of fact, without any hint of religiosity, and then we should challenge people: if you are serious about fundamental change, it is the height of irresponsibility to fail to engage Avakian's work on the level it demands.
If you are at all serious about human possibility, then you have to wrangle with why the previous revolutions were defeated. You have to wrangle with whether we can really make a revolution that both can overcome the terrible inequalities and disparities and horrors in the world—and can do that without turning out the lights, as Avakian has put it, on intellectual and artistic endeavor and initiative.
If you are serious, you have to wrangle with whether Marxism really is a science—and if it is, what it really means to say that, and how our scientific understanding of the world has changed in the 160 years since this science was first forged.
If you are serious, you have to wrangle with how do people change their understanding of the world and, yes, their deepest moral feelings—not just after the revolution, but how do they change now, in order to MAKE revolution and as part of MAKING REVOLUTION?
If you are serious, you have to wrangle with whether it is even conceivable that the ruling class of this country could some day be vulnerable to a revolutionary challenge...and if it is conceivable, then how could that possibly come together and what would be required of revolutionaries—both then and, from the vantage point of that future time, today?
And if you are wrangling on that road, then you will meet someone else who got there first and will welcome you onto it and wrangle with you and try to learn everything he can from you—because that's how he rolls. And that would be Bob Avakian.
It's there for the taking. And then sure, let's argue about it. Let's learn from each other as we do. But on the basis of you being serious enough to get deeply into this. To quote Bruce Springsteen, the door's open but the ride ain't free—you have to do some work too.
This gets us to the third objective of this campaign—bringing forward a core of dedicated, ardent fighters who are going to passionately advocate for this revolution and make it a driving dynamic force in society and the world. Fighters who are going to come at this not from what my friends think, or what my family thinks, or how backward things are out there, or how brutal and heartless these monsters at the top are—but from what humanity needs and what really is possible.
Fighters who are going to put their questions on the table from the standpoint of working them through, on the road to deepening their commitment to this revolution.
Fighters who will boldly take on what the enemy throws at them, and who will just as boldly take on both the backward thinking and the real questions among masses broadly, as well as the sophisticated apologists for this system.
Even a relatively small initial core of such fighters, coming forward from all ages but especially the youth, and from all walks of life, especially those on the bottom of society, can make a huge difference. It can have a magnetic effect. And such a core will stand out all the more sharply against the backdrop of today. Such a core can act as a living embodiment of the vision of a revolutionary movement that Bob Avakian put forward in "Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity":
There will be, and there should be, all kinds of struggle about those questions [of how to make revolution]. But people should have a sense: If you want to know about, and work toward, a different world—and if you want to stand up and fight back against what's being done to people—this is where you go. You go to this Party, you take up this Party's newspaper, you get into this Party's leader and what he's bringing forward, you come to the Revolution Clubs, you join in with the people carrying out political activity that embodies this—spreading revolution and building resistance, and the "positive synergy" between the two—all aiming for revolution.
There needs to be more room for and emphasis on systematic study and struggle for people who are getting into this. There needs to be a more widespread and keener sense of what this Party is about and what it means for people...of the crucial importance of the Cultural Revolution in our Party and what a great thing it is...of what it means to take leadership from this Party and what it would mean to join it... All that has to be much more part of the atmosphere, much more of what we call a "mass question"—something that lots of people are openly and constantly wrangling over and returning to, in their conversations and their thinking. People have to be coming into this Party, and helping to further transform it, too, into an even more revolutionary party...into an even sharper instrument with which to deeply understand and radically transform reality in the interests of the masses.
Our aim and our plan with this campaign is this: to get those three objectives working together, so that some people may be hearing about Bob Avakian and then checking out the Revolution talk or the memoir and from there learning about the revolutionary movement and getting into it... and other people, within the atmosphere where the image of Avakian is getting around and the Message and Call of this campaign are everywhere, see this movement stand up to the authorities and they come into things from there...or still others are going to a speech by Sunsara Taylor or Raymond Lotta or Carl Dix about some particular burning question and from there look more deeply into all this... or they're beginning to read Revolution, every week... or they are hearing about and supporting the fight to allow prisoners to continue to get and read Revolution...and where, as people are doing this or hearing about it, they are catching the feel that there is a wave—even if right now the beginning of a wave—of people who are getting into this, for real, and as they see and encounter these people, the elan and the hope and the science and the fresh approach of these new revolutionary communists draws them forward to check all this out further.
The idea here is to get all three of these objectives—and all the work involved in each particular effort and initiative related to this campaign—cross-fertilizing, and synergizing, and amplifying one another—so the message and feel gets out NOT that these people are good-hearted folks with interesting ideas, but that these people ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution.
Right now we do not have this campaign clicking on all eight cylinders. But this is a goal that we can reach. This is a goal that we can brainstorm about and percolate on and develop plans for and carry out those plans so that in a finite time this movement for revolution can be in a different position in society. We can, through waging and winning this unprecedented campaign, break through and break out... and get into position where we can begin advancing the revolutionary communist movement with societal impact and worldwide reverberations...making known to all a political and ideological force on a mission to fight for this new stage of communist revolution.
V. The Campaign—As Part of a Strategy
Now all this is part of a larger strategy. And yes, we have a strategy. I'll say it again, because it's something that we don't do enough to let people know: we have a strategy to make revolution. There's actually a method to what we do—it's not something like Jehovah's Witnesses, where their members go around and talk to people and try to recruit them, waiting for the day when god comes to deliver the big payback and set everything right. It's not "we're doing this because this is what communists always do." No. And make no mistake—we are NOT trying to stir up a "radical opposition" for its own sake. We ARE BUILDING a movement to actually MAKE REVOLUTION.
How could you make a revolution? Let's talk about this a little. The Message and Call of this campaign says that,
Revolution can be made when there is a revolutionary situation, an even greater crisis in society as a whole: when people in greater numbers come to deeply feel and understand that the present power has no legitimacy...that it serves only a handful of oppressors...that it uses lies and deception, corruption and completely unjust force and violence to keep this system going and "keep the people in their place"...when millions see the need to fight to break this power and establish a new power that can bring about the changes that people desperately need and want.
Let's break this down. "An even greater crisis in society as a whole." How could that happen? Well, let's look back at some of what we started this speech with. Let's look at these fascists out here. These Tea Party people and others. Believe me, we take these people quite seriously. We see these people in Texas rewriting the textbooks to even further distort U.S. history and these Republican governors "honoring the Confederacy"—that is, the slaveholders in the Civil War. We see—and we are out there opposing, including our people right now out there today—these fascists in the Arizona legislature with their apartheid-style laws. We see these Christian fascists, continuing their onslaught against abortion and murdering and threatening providers, lashing out against women, and threatening our comrades who lead struggle against them as well. We see them demonizing and stirring up fear of and hatred against gay people, and denying them their elementary rights. We watch Glenn Beck, and we call attention to his scenarios of militias made up of what he calls "angry Bubbas"—translation: racists—taking up arms.
And we see the Democrats—doing everything they can to hold it all together and to PREVENT people from resisting this, at the same time as they join with the Republicans to push forward the wars and repression and massive imprisonment of minority youth and serious economic deprivation that both parties are firmly behind. And we see and run up against how all this right now is intimidating and suffocating people.
But we see something else, too. We see the way that the divisions at the top of the ruling structures of society at a different point could come unraveled. Among these rulers, there are two different visions of how America needs to be ordered in the next few decades, and the potential antagonism between them is very great. Be clear, the point is most definitely not to choose sides between these rival factions of imperialists—because "they're both worse." The point is that this clash could provide the people with one of those rare openings when revolution could actually come onto the agenda for real.
Here's what I mean. When "the center cannot hold"—that is, when there is not enough cohesion among the ruling class itself to hold together its rival factions—and the "weakness of the center" is what a lot of their commentators have been bemoaning—when this happens in societies, there are fissures created out of which mass discontent can erupt. Splits that provide cracks through which the anger and discontent that people are just forced to swallow in "normal times" can come roaring out, like lava erupting from a suddenly active volcano. And something else can happen, too; to return to the Message and Call, "people in greater numbers [can] come to deeply feel and understand that the present power has no legitimacy...that it serves only a handful of oppressors...that it uses lies and deception, corruption and completely unjust force and violence to keep this system going and 'keep the people in their place.'"
You can see the embryo of something like that going on in Iran over the past year—where a society that seemed locked down tight for 30 years suddenly was engulfed in a crisis that started as a clash between two rival factions in the ruling class of the Islamic Republic over how an unstable society rife with contradiction was going to be ruled. This clash led to massive street demonstrations and fighting, and bigger questions were thrown up, and other forces began to come into play.
You can even study the history of the Civil War in this country from this angle and learn how fundamental change can actually happen.
But here's the rub—if there is not a revolutionary pole strong enough to lead people to wrench something altogether new out of this... then the rulers will just bludgeon their way out, and things will go to a still deeper circle of hell.
No, it's not enough for there to be a societal crisis to which we the revolutionaries could somehow "just add water," as if fundamental social change was like instant coffee. Here's how the Message and Call lays it out:
For a revolution, there must be a revolutionary people, among all sections of society but with its deepest base among those who catch hell every day under this system...people who are determined to fight for power in order to radically change society, to get rid of oppression and exploitation. But the point is this: we cannot, and we must not, sit around and wait for "one fine day" when this revolutionary situation comes about and a revolutionary people comes on the scene. No, we must--and we can—work to bring a revolutionary people into being...to enable people to see why they should put no faith in this system, and should not live and die in a way that keeps this system going...but instead should devote their lives to resisting oppression and building up for the time when we can get rid of the cause of all this oppression. Using our Party's newspaper, Revolution, as the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for this whole process, this is what our Party means when we say we are hastening while awaiting the revolutionary situation, preparing minds and organizing forces...for revolution.
It is crucial that when things do go up for grabs—when people are searching for a way forward, when they are questioning the assumptions they've believed in their whole lives, when they are streaming into the streets at great personal risk—it is crucial then that there be a different magnetic pole, one with the ties and influence and understanding that could enable it to forge and lead a powerful united front that actually COULD make revolution and bring in a whole new system.
So, yes, we have a strategy. We have a way to get to that tomorrow, starting from today. We are hastening revolution, even as we're not going off half-cocked... even as we're tensely awaiting, while doing all we can to shape, the situation where you actually COULD begin the fight to establish a new state power.
Recently, Revolution published two paragraphs from Bob Avakian that put out a very concise guideline on this:
At every point, we must be searching out the key concentrations of social contradictions and the methods and forms which can strengthen the political consciousness of the masses, as well as their fighting capacity and organization in carrying out political resistance against the crimes of this system; which can increasingly bring the necessity, and the possibility, of a radically different world to life for growing numbers of people; and which can strengthen the understanding and determination of the advanced, revolutionary-minded masses in particular to take up our strategic objectives not merely as far-off and essentially abstract goals (or ideals) but as things to be actively striven for and built toward.
The objective and orientation must be to carry out work which, together with the development of the objective situation, can transform the political terrain, so that the legitimacy of the established order, and the right and ability of the ruling class to rule, is called into question, in an acute and active sense, throughout society; so that resistance to this system becomes increasingly broad, deep and determined; so that the "pole" and the organized vanguard force of revolutionary communism is greatly strengthened; and so that, at the decisive time, this advanced force is able to lead the struggle of millions, and tens of millions, to make revolution.
Now there's a lot packed into those two paragraphs. You could—and at some point everybody should—spend a day and more breaking this down and getting into this. The point I want to focus on here, though, is that when we focus on these outrages—be it the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf, or the cruel murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, or Arizona even as we speak—we are focusing on them both because they demand action in their own right and as part of "bringing a revolutionary people into being."
We have an analysis of these contradictions—even as we are open and attuned to new ones emerging or coming to the fore. The pace can be intense, but we're NOT aimlessly or randomly running around. What we do has a point—to review and roughly paraphrase those paragraphs, we are searching out those concentrations of KEY social contradictions, and we are looking for the right forms, that can strengthen people's consciousness AND their fighting capacity to carry out political resistance...we are bringing to life the fact that we need, and can get, a radically different world...and we are making revolution real for people. But that's not all—we're doing this in a way that calls into question the very legitimacy of the rulers...that builds up society-wide resistance...that strengthens the pole of revolutionary communism within all that...and that does all this in such a way so that the advanced revolutionary force could actually lead millions at a future time when things have further ripened.
Listen: the very things that are at the root of the power of this ruling class—their ability to exploit people all over the planet and plunder the earth, their murdering police, the repression and injustice against immigrants and people of color generally, their structures of gender oppression, their wars and military strength—these are the very contradictions that can politically backfire against them, if revolutionaries wield their science to work on those contradictions and if things come together in a certain way.
We have a strategy—and our newspaper is, as the statement says, "the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for [the] whole process" of carrying out that strategy. This is the paper that cuts to the bone to tell you WHY things are happening... to show you HOW it doesn't have to be this way...and to give you the ways to ACT to change it. It is a call to action and a means of struggle. It is, and has to be much more, the scaffolding on which this movement is built, where those who are getting into it and following it can wrangle in its pages and on its website with how we can better build this movement. It is a guideline, where today thousands, but soon tens of thousands and eventually millions, all over the place, stay connected and learn to act in a powerful and united way. It is the foundation, where those who read it learn about the larger goals of revolution and communism, and come to see the ways in which the struggles of today are connected to those larger goals...where they come to grasp the scientific communist outlook through its application to all the many particular events and outrages and developments in society... and where they get organizationally linked up to this revolution.
And, yes, we have a strategy that takes in how, at a future time when things DO get to the point at which the rulers are weakened and fighting amongst themselves, when many other political forces are paralyzed, and when millions are ready to put everything on the line, that those millions would not be left without a way to fight and win—that is, to actually be able to meet and defeat the violent, repressive force of the old, exploitative and oppressive order. This is contained in the contribution to the pamphlet Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation that is entitled "On the Possibility of Revolution"—and a basic sense of this has been put in the speech two years ago, available on-line,"Making Revolution in the USA." This article, "On the Possibility of Revolution," is something that people need to get into and study, now.
Do you realize what it means that we not only have a leader and a party that knows where we need to go, but a strategy that can actually get us there? This is very precious—and this is something that we have to make much more widely known than it is today, as we carry forward with the campaign.
So we've traveled a bit into the future in this last section. Now let's bring it back to the here and now (even as that future is pregnant in the here and now). The Message and Call puts it this way:
[Y]es, it is true—now is not yet the time, in this country, to go all-out to seize the power away from those who rule over us and to bring a new power, serving our interests, into being. But now IS the time to be WORKING FOR REVOLUTION—to be stepping up resistance while building a movement for revolution—to prepare for the time when it WILL be possible to go all out to seize the power.
Which leads me back to this campaign. This campaign is the crucial link right now in "hastening while awaiting the revolutionary situation, preparing minds and organizing forces...for revolution." If we accomplish the goals of this campaign—if the revolution gets known and its magnetic force increases...if Bob Avakian becomes a household word among those who are awake or awakening...and if a growing core of people, including and especially from the "catch-hell-every-day, nothing-to-lose" section of society, advocate, fight for and sacrifice for THIS revolution...if we do that, then we will not only have made a must-do leap along the road from where we are today, we will have gotten into position where we can make further and even more powerful leaps in this whole process.
Remember why we started this campaign.
Because at a time when revolution urgently cries out to be done, revolution is not only not on the map in people's thinking—it is in danger of becoming a relic of the past.
Because not only is revolution needed, but the problems that communist revolution ran up against in its first stage have been identified and a framework for their solution has been developed, by Bob Avakian.
Because we must and we can break out of the situation we're in right now and get a whole different trajectory going.
At a time when in the space of one month the police can murder a lovely 7-year-old girl and utterly violate her family... when Nazi-like legislation can get passed against people who have been driven here for their survival... when the capitalists can inflict, in their insane and heedless drive for profit, a major disaster on the environment... we need revolution, and we badly need a movement right now FOR REVOLUTION– a movement that puts forward its message in compelling ways and that on that foundation can inspire and backbone resistance, linked to the goal of revolution.
To quote again our Message and Call, the foundation and glue of this whole campaign:
The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.
We are here today at conferences which can play a crucial role and have a decisive impact in building the movement we need—FOR REVOLUTION. Though our numbers right now may be small, especially when weighed against the challenges we face, our movement is very very large in terms of the truth it grasps, the justness of its cause, the vision it aims for and the determination and boldness and imagination it possesses to rally people to it. We are here to wrangle with these goals and their connection to revolution...to brainstorm different ideas and angles and hammer out ways to make it all come together...to get much, much better organized...and to break out. And we do all that on the foundation of the Message and Call, and in particular its conclusion:
A WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD, A MUCH BETTER FUTURE, IS POSSIBLE. WE HAVE WHAT WE NEED TO FIGHT FOR THAT WORLD, THAT FUTURE.
IT IS UP TO US TO GET WITH IT AND GET TO THE CHALLENGE OF MAKING THIS HAPPEN.
1. Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, RCP Publications, 2008, page 43. [back]
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