Revolution #205, June 27, 2010

A Message to Participants at the U.S. Social Forum

In the last few weeks, it has been easy to catch the wave of excitement and inspiration that has been building for the U.S. Social Forum to be held in Detroit June 22-26.

As millions of barrels of oil spew into the Gulf of Mexico, thousands of activists are pedaling their bikes to Detroit… unplugging from the use of fossil fuels and converging to dream of a world without them and the wars they fuel...

As the U.S. military rains death from the skies on people throughout the Middle East… thousands are converging to live the idea that human life is equally valuable in every corner of the planet…

As poor and Black people in record numbers, and Black women in particular, are put out on the street as their homes are boarded up, housing activists are preparing to construct tent cities or fix up old homes and return them to their residents…

As it becomes equally illegal to teach the truth about how Arizona was stolen from Mexico as it is to be of Mexican descent in Arizona, immigrants and the native-born are gathering to learn each other's histories and cultures and to organize disobedience to these fascist anti-immigrant laws…

As each day we are bombarded with a culture that reinforces alienation, selfishness, and ignorance… artists are uncorking their imaginations and sharing their skills to beautify a decaying city, forge community with different morals, and celebrate the struggle and the joy of creating a different world…

It is invigorating to catch the wave of hard work and real insights, of dreaming and hope that is carrying tens of thousands of activists and eager-to-become-activists to Detroit. And it is refreshing to see the lie put to the notion that "this is the best of all possible worlds" and that people are too apathetic or me-centered to do anything about it.

Unfortunately, even as we gather, we all know that the outrages that have brought us together are continuing to multiply… more toxic waste dumped into the air and the oceans… more families and children put out of their houses… more women brutalized and raped from the civil wars of the Congo to the "oh-so-civilized" dorm rooms and family homes of the U.S…. more peasants forced off their land and across militarized borders in the desperate struggle for survival… more wars… more torture… more nightmares for humanity, seemingly without end.

All this, because the system of capitalism-imperialism has a stranglehold on the global economy enforced by its highly repressive and massively violent state power. And this system, so long as it has state power, will continue to frustrate—and at times violently repress—those who do dream of and work for a better future.

This does not mean that the efforts and the insights of all of us gathering have no meaning or impact.

Precisely the opposite. Exactly because of how desperately humanity needs a radically different world, it is precious that people are coming together to exchange and wrangle over ideas, and to explore and share new models of community and interaction with the environment. It is difficult to conceive of something better being wrenched out of this nightmare without the kinds of sharing and efforts and insights and hard work and joy of the tens of thousands of people gathering this week. All this is something that everyone interested in a better world should be interested in learning from, being challenged by, and building upon.

But there is one model that has been tried and proven tremendously liberating, a model that is rich in accomplishments, lessons, and relevance for today, that is almost entirely missing from the buzz, planned discussion, and wrangling going into and anticipated at the USSF. This is the model of genuine communist revolution.

Now, if you are not a regular reader of this newspaper, it is likely the vast majority of what you have heard about "communist revolution" has very little to do with reality. So put it aside and ask yourself the following questions:

If there was a model in which peasants and formerly exploited workers grabbed hold of and restructured their nation's economy and agriculture and healthcare so that it met people's needs—rather than serving export and private profit—and over the course of 27 years (from 1949 to 1976) had raised life expectancy among a quarter of the world's population from the age of 32 to 65, wouldn't that be worth examining?

What if this model didn't stop there but went about radically transforming the culture and human attitudes, shattering thousands of years of ignorance and oppressive traditions? What if this included replacing a common attitude that, "A wife married is like a pony bought, I'll ride her and whip her as I please" with a vibrant culture promoting the ideas that "anything a man can do a woman can do too" and "women hold up half the sky!"? What if this model included massively expanding education so that the literacy rate went from a mere 15% all the way up to 80% so that people who had formerly been locked out of intellectual work, including helping administer and lead society, could take part?

And what if, in this grand and liberating struggle, the revolutionary leadership hadn't (as conventional wisdom claims that all leadership must) sought to retrench and consolidate power for its own sake, but fought at every stage to bring millions into both the defense and the wielding of the revolutionary state power that made all this possible? What if this leadership sought at every stage to bring millions into both supervising those who were leading society and stepping forward, and being trained and unleashed in their capacity to do so, to take part increasingly in administering the ongoing transformation of society towards complete liberation? What if it raised people's consciousness to see the goal as the emancipation of humanity the world over?

Wouldn't this experience—carried out by nearly a billion people of a formerly oppressed and imperialist-ravaged nation over the course of 27 intensely experience-rich years—merit deep examination? Wouldn't a model like this—both where it accomplished things more liberating than had ever previously been imagined and where it fell short and took approaches and had results that undercut the goal of liberation—be something that everyone who is dreaming of and is working towards a better world needs to deeply engage and learn from?

The fact is, all of these things have been accomplished during the first stage of genuine communist revolutions in the world—that is, the experience of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the mid-fifties and in China under Mao Tsetung from 1949-1976 (before capitalism was restored in both those countries). All this reached its highest pinnacle during the Cultural Revolution in China which was not, as the bourgeoisie claims, a culture-destroying bloodletting by a power-hungry Mao, but an effort led by Mao which not only succeeded for ten years in preventing the restoration of capitalism in China but did so through the greatest mass participation and revolutionization of society by the formerly oppressed that has ever been achieved.

Yes, all this experience has been buried and slandered, it's been lied about and distorted by the very capitalist system and its representatives who defeated these revolutions. But this should only underscore the importance of those who oppose the crimes and the system of capitalism to look into this honestly and deeply for themselves.

But that is not all. The rich experience of these revolutions has been summed up and learned from—both the lessons and breakthroughs and the shortcomings and errors—and these lessons have been brought together with the tremendous developments in the world since that time, as well as the experience and insights brought forward in other realms of endeavor, to forge a new vision of socialist society. Breakthroughs in the method and approach to understanding and transforming reality, including society, have been made. Not only that, all this has been applied to the questions of how a revolution could actually win in a country as powerful as the United States. All of this has been brought together in a new synthesis of revolution and communism and all this has tremendous implications for humanity's struggle to get free.

The person who has done this work is Bob Avakian.

As the Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party states: "…in the new synthesis brought forward by Bob Avakian, there is an analogy 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."

It is a tremendous thing for humanity that someone has done this work of rescuing and building on the experience of genuine communist revolution. And it is a game-changer in terms of the prospects of actually making revolution real in our lifetimes that this experienced and tested leader is actively leading a revolutionary party in the belly of imperialism today.

So, we invite and we challenge you—as you come together to learn from the insights and experience and dreams of others gathered and to share your own—to make sure to include looking with fresh and open eyes at this most liberating experience and the even greater possibilities for the future, based on engaging with and taking up this new synthesis.

Many of us who are building the movement for this revolution will be at the USSF. We are eager to learn from your experience and insights… your greatest hopes and wildest ideas… and we are eager to share with you our understanding of the revolution we need and the leadership we have.

Come check out one of our workshops or other activities we'll be involved in that are listed at Even more essentially, get your hands on one of the works by Bob Avakian featured in the centerfold of this newspaper.

Another world IS possible. Let us join together and take a collective leap in making it real!

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