Excerpts from:

What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

Editors’ Note: At the beginning of 2012, an in-depth interview with Bob Avakian (BA) was conducted over a period of several days by A. Brooks.  (This interview, with the title What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, is available at revcom.us.)

Brooks—a younger-generation revolutionary who has been inspired by the leadership and body of work of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism this has brought forward—is the author of “God The Original Fascist,” a series of articles which appeared in Revolution in 2005, and is available at revcom.us (excerpts from these articles are quoted by Bob Avakian at the beginning of his book Away With All Gods!—Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, Insight Press, 2008). We are republishing here sections of this interview which are highly relevant to the current situation—particularly as a critique of the all-too-common practice of lies, slander and unprincipled rumormongering that are part of the popular culture these days, including among people calling themselves “anarchist”... “left”... “progressive”... “woke.”

In this interview, 10 years ago, BA called out this highly destructive way of avoiding principled struggle over differences—and, in opposition to this, emphasized the kinds of standards and methods that need to be applied in order to have principled and meaningful struggle over differences and arrive at a scientific understanding of what different ideologies and programs actually represent, and where they will actually lead.  We want to call attention especially to the section of this interview “The Culture, the Principles, the Standards We Need,” because of its particular and very direct relevance to what is happening today.

What Humanity Needs - Cover

 

What Humanity Needs, by Bob Avakian   

Theory and Reality... Knowing and Changing the World

Brooks: Well, carrying forward with some of what you were just talking about, I wanted to get a little bit more into this point about the importance of theory and line, including because I think this is sometimes something that the younger generation doesn't give enough weight to. I mean, obviously, it's not just the younger generation. But, when I was re-reading your memoir,2 one thing that came through is that in the height of the '60s there were all kinds of different lines and programs out there, all different kinds of understandings that were being put forward about the problem and the solution. I know that you speak a lot in that memoir to the importance of theory and line, in terms of navigating through all that, and it is clear that there was importance to polemics, in taking on incorrect lines. It seems like that becomes all the more important when things are sharpening up and a lot of people are becoming politically awake and trying to figure out what the problem and solution is.

So, I wondered if, in relation to these times right now, when there is all this stuff going on in the world and people are kind of raising their heads—and, as the RCP's statement "On the Strategy for Revolution" puts it, questioning and resisting what they usually accept—how you see the importance of line and theory, and polemics, in that context.

BA: Well, theory is important in an overall, overarching sense, and is important in an ongoing way. Theory is what leads to an understanding, in one way or another, of reality, or parts of reality. And the question always is: Is the theory, in the broadest sense, and in the deepest sense, a correct reflection of reality, or is it not? You know, everybody has theories. Even the "man and woman in the street" have theories about all kinds of things. And then other people who are intellectuals, more full-time, you might say—people who work with ideas in a more continual way—have more developed theories about a lot of different things, theories as applied to particular things or as applied to the world, nature, existence in general. So, the question is not: is there gonna be theory or no theory? The question is: what kind of theory, and does the theory, in its main lines—not in every detail, but in its main lines, and in essential ways—really correspond to reality? Another way to say this: is it scientific?

Let's not mystify science. Science means that you probe and investigate reality, by carrying out experiments, by accumulating data, and so on; and then, proceeding from that reality and applying the methods and logic of rational thought, you struggle to identify the patterns in the data, etc., you've gathered about reality. If you're approaching it correctly, you are striving to arrive at a correct synthesis of the reality that you've investigated. And then you measure your conclusions against objective reality to determine if they are in correspondence with it, if what they sum up and predict about reality is confirmed in reality. That's the way breakthroughs in science have been made—whether it's in the realm of biology, like the understanding of evolution, or whether it's things about the origins of the universe (or the known universe), like the Big Bang theory, or whatever. That's the process that goes on, and the question is: is it scientific? That is, does it, in its main and essential lines, correspond to reality?

And, particularly for people who are seeking to change the world—which, in fact, all scientists are in one way or another, but especially when you're seeking to change things in the political realm, when you're seeking to change society in a major way—then the question is not just does it correspond to reality, although that's fundamental, but can it actually lead to changing the world, and is it actually applied to changing the world? And then, in the process of that, is there more raw material gathered, so to speak, from which to learn more and to develop further your scientific understanding, about particular things and overall?

So that's on the role of theory and line in general. The question, once again, is: Is it scientific—in the way that I just was discussing that, and not with some mystical notion about science, as something which only a small weird group of people called "scientists" could possibly understand. Now, just as an aside, not all scientists are weird, by any means. Some of them are weird, but a lot of them are weird in good ways, creative ways. But they're just human beings grappling with different aspects of reality. Now, in a sense, there is a "rarified quality" to any particular sphere, or any particular area, of science. It is necessary to immerse yourself in those spheres in order to actually learn about them. But they're not mysterious, they're not magical, they're not things people can't learn. Some people, for a combination of reasons, may have more aptitude for, or may more readily be able to deal with, different dimensions of reality and understand that part of reality in a scientific way better than others. But there's nothing mystical or magical about this.

Theory is an attempt to explain reality, and once again the question is: Is it scientific—does it correctly, in its main lines and in essential ways, reflect reality? Now, theory cannot be unchanging, because reality is constantly changing. That's one of the main features of reality. So theory has to continually develop, even when it's fundamentally correct. For example, despite what all these religious fundamentalists try to say by way of denial, the theory of evolution is not only well established, it's one of the most firmly and fundamentally established understandings of reality in all of science. Darwin made the initial breakthrough in synthesizing the theory of evolution—other people were coming to understand some aspects of evolution, but Darwin is the one who systematized and made a leap forward in terms of human beings' understanding of what evolution is all about, the evolution of life, including the evolution of human beings. Yet there are many things that Darwin did not understand. Now the religious fundamentalists always leap on that to say: "See, they're saying Darwin was wrong." No. This is the way any science develops. What Darwin discovered, or systematized, remains fundamentally true. But there are always new developments—for example, the field of genetics, and other things that didn't exist at the time that Darwin lived and systematized, synthesized the theory of evolution.3

But that's what theory is—it's an attempt to explain reality. The question, and in an important sense the basic dividing line, is: does it correctly explain reality in its main features and along essential lines, or does it not? And then, how can it be applied to transform reality, and what is learned in the ongoing process of theory to practice and back to theory? Not just in a narrow sphere, in the sense of merely what can be learned from any particular activity, but in the broad sense, learning from all different fields of human activity. So, that's one thing on theory.

A Scientific Approach to Society, and Changing Society

BA continues: Some people think—and it's sometimes even argued, including mistakenly by some natural scientists—that there can't be a scientific approach to society. Now, why that would be, I don't know. Society consists of nothing but particular forms of matter in motion—in this case, people, interacting with each other and interacting with the rest of nature. Why should that realm be closed off to science any more than any other sphere of matter in motion that exists? Whether it's the planets, or whether it's microbes, bacteria, whatever it might be: all these things can be subjected to scientific analysis, and breakthroughs can be made in all these different areas, even while everything about any particular aspect of reality, let alone all of reality, will never be known by human beings, including because there's too much reality out there and because it's always changing, and because human capacities are limited in some ways, even with the technology that continually develops. But a great deal can be learned, and in many spheres the essential dynamics and the fundamental things about reality can be learned, can be systematized and synthesized.

At the same time, some people believe that you can just go out and engage in politics, for example, without having a scientific approach, without the need for theory. But that's completely wrong. As soon as you actually try to change something in the political sphere—or at least as soon as you try to really change an important part of society—you run up against how complicated it is, and how much resistance you are gonna meet from the forces of the old order, which are going to move to maintain that order and to crush any resistance against it. So you're up against that, on the one hand, and then you're up against all the different contradictions that exist among the people, that become very complex at times—the pulls on people in different directions, and what are the spontaneous things people in different sections of society tend to gravitate toward, and why. It requires science, too, to understand all that. How can you actually overcome the divisions among people in the course of building the movement for revolution—fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution? How can you actually take on the established, entrenched, and very powerful forces of the old order and defeat them? These questions require continual work—and they require science. They require the application of the scientific method, and not subjectivity—not falling into what you would like to be true—or not falling into just accepting what's conventional wisdom, or "what everybody knows," which is sometimes true, but is often wrong. "Everybody in the world knows that god exists"—well, not everybody, but the great majority of people "know" this. But it's wrong. The fact that "everybody knows it" doesn't make it any better—it makes it worse—because it's wrong. And we could cite many other examples.

If you're being scientific, you don't go by "what everybody knows." You proceed by probing, investigating—and, yes, in the process changing—reality, and then systematizing what can be learned: what are the patterns; what is the essence of what you're learning; what ties things together; what differentiates some things from other things—for example, how is this plant different from that plant; how do these plants interact; how does this plant interact with that insect? All that kind of stuff is true in the "natural sciences." And it applies as well in the "social sciences," in the science of understanding and changing society, and the human beings—yes, including the outlook and values of the human beings—who make up society. This can be changed—and, in fact, changes continually. For example—and I see that this is something that's been brought out by other people in discussions—take a basic development like the introduction of the horse into the culture of many Native Americans: this completely changed their way of life, and their way of thinking. And that's just one of dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of examples that could be given, including in the modern world today.

The Importance of Line... and of Polemics

BA continues: Now, on the question of line and polemics. Line is the application of a world outlook and method to reality. It's a probing of reality and the drawing together and synthesizing of the lessons that are learned from probing reality. Line can be either correct or incorrect. Line, to put it another way, is an expression of, first of all, your world outlook and your method, how you approach reality—and everybody does that with one outlook or another. Religion is a world outlook. The idea that everybody is out for themselves, and screw everybody else, is a world outlook.

And there's also method. Is your method scientific, or is it something else? Is it subjective? Is it, for example: "Well, that may be true for you, but it's not true for me"? Let's go back to god again: "God may not exist for you, but god exists for me." No. Either god exists for everybody or there is no god. Or else your god is a very personal one, a matter of your personal feelings, so we can all ignore it, in terms of its being some kind of supernatural power or force. What people normally mean by god is not something that's merely personal to somebody—it's something that has a transcendental, a "larger than all the rest of reality" existence, which fundamentally and ultimately determines existence and how it goes, and what happens to people. So, that kind of relativist thing—"you have your truth, and I have my truth"—no. You may have your preferences, and I may have my preferences, but those are not the same thing as truth. Truth is a correct reflection of objective reality, at least in its main lines and its essential features.

And so line is a reflection of world outlook and method, and then its application programmatically, so to speak—in other words, what you are setting out to do on the basis of, or flowing from, your world outlook and your methodology. Going back to the formulation I've used a number of times here: what is the problem in the world, and what is the solution? What is humanity up against—to invoke Richard Pryor, why are we in the situation we're in today—and is there anything that can be done to change it, and if so, how fundamentally can it be changed? That's the application of your world outlook and method to the problems of society, to the problems of human existence, if you will. So that's what line is.

Now, people learn by having line—in particular a correct line, that is, a scientific and a fundamentally correct understanding of reality—brought to them, and then by taking that up, engaging, and struggling with it. Maybe pointing out some things that are wrong with it, even if it's essentially correct, but deeply engaging it. People also learn a tremendous amount—and this is where the role of polemics comes in—by seeing different lines in confrontation with each other. If individuals, or groups, have fundamentally opposed understandings of what the problem and what the solution is, then people can learn by engaging this, comparing and contrasting the opposing lines—particularly if things are on a high level, where you're really getting to the essence of things. Not focusing on minor details, and especially not on petty personal things (as all too often happens with the culture today, with all this tabloidism and rumor-mongering, and all that), but actually focusing on raising your sights up to the big questions: does this, in its main lines, correctly reflect reality, or does it not? When you see two opposing views, or lines, confronting each other, especially if this is done in a principled way—where people are actually going after the substance of what the other person or group says, and refuting it, or attempting to refute it—seeing that kind of confrontation enables people to learn in ways that they wouldn't otherwise learn. This is a critical element in people learning. Without that, people can be introduced to certain ideas; they can compare them to reality—and, yes, they can learn a great deal—but they can learn even more when, in addition to that, there is the confrontation of opposing views, and when there are polemics focusing on the essential aspects of those opposing views.

If you understand that line is an application of a world outlook and method to actually saying what should be done—what is the problem and how do we go about changing that?—then you understand that line matters a tremendous amount. If the problem is that people are selfish, then the solution either lies in doing something to change that, or there is no solution, because you can't change it. Well, that would have big consequences. But, if the problem is the nature of the system—the fundamental relations of exploitation and oppression of this system, and the ideas that go along with that and reinforce that—and the way to change that is to uproot and abolish this system and transform those relations, and transform the thinking and outlook of the people, then that leads to a very different understanding of what should be done. So, it makes a tremendous difference.

Lines, and contention between opposing lines, are not just some sort of sectarian squabbles—and they should not be reduced to sectarian squabbles, let alone to personal vendettas or personal grievances, but should be focused on the question of how do you go about understanding the world, what do you understand about the world, and what does that lead you to believe needs to be done. If things are joined on that level, and people are enabled to see what the differences are, and where the one and the other leads, then that provides a much richer basis for people who are serious—who really feel compelled to understand the world, and further to change it—to actually be able to sift through these things and come to a better understanding. Not all on their own, but through people engaging this with them and going through the process together with them of sorting this out and sifting through it.

When People Are Falling Into Bullshit, They Should Be Told So: The Need for Sharp, and Principled, Struggle

Brooks: I know that, in terms of your own development into a revolutionary communist and in terms of your relation to other people in that process, the role of struggle has been really important—people struggling with you during your development, and then you, at different points, very sharply struggling with other people.

BA: [Laughs] That is true. In my own development, there were people who struggled with me—some of them correctly, some of them incorrectly, some of them mainly correctly, and some of them mainly incorrectly. But all of that was part of the process of my learning—going through this process of really deeply grappling with these things because you understand it matters, it has real implications in terms of what's gonna happen to masses of people, not just yourself. You get into this—and the reason I laughed is because people did struggle, sometimes very sharply, with me. If you're going to get offended if things get sharp, and you respond to people struggling with you by thinking, "you're being oppressive because you're challenging my views strongly, and you're not giving me space to think," then you're not going to learn what you could learn. Now, we should have good methods with people, we shouldn't "jack people up" and shove them up against the wall, ideologically speaking. But there is a need and a role at times for very sharp struggle.

When people are falling into bullshit, they should be told so. Now, that's not all you should say. You should show them why. You should give them the substance. You should explain to them what's wrong. But this idea that everything has to be all so super-polite—this goes along with the relativist notion that everybody's ideas should be considered equally valid. Well, no. It's not a question of the person, it's a question of the ideas. It's not that one person counts for less than another person, but it's a question of whether the ideas are correct or incorrect. If they're incorrect, and if they're doing harm, they need to be called out sharply. Not in a way that puts people down. Not in a way that's antagonistic toward them—unless what they represent is really, fundamentally antagonistic to the interests of the masses of people, and they're digging in their heels around that. But among the people, so to speak, wrong ideas should be struggled over. Where people are putting forward different notions that are really wrong, and they are digging in their heels around them, they should be struggled with sharply. And where people say things that they don't have a basis for saying, where they haven't really investigated, they need to be told: you don't know what you're talking about.

Especially in this culture today, as I was referring to earlier, there is all this "tabloidism." You go on the Internet and there's all this nasty, low-level crap. People hide behind the pseudo anonymity of the Internet to attack people in low and vicious ways—not being at all principled, not lofting things up to the level they should be on. And, by the way, I say "pseudo anonymity" because the state can find out who you are any time they want to. Now, if you're not going up against the state, maybe you don't have to worry about that. But, for anybody who thinks they're really anonymous on the Internet—think again. You may be able to hide from other people for a while, but the state will certainly be able to find out who you are, if they want to, if you're all over the Internet. In any case, not to get too far afield on that, the point is: It does go back to that Mark Twain thing that I'm fond of quoting, because it's so applicable [Laughs]. He said: What you need to get along in America is the perfect combination of ignorance and arrogance. And there is way too much of that.

Ignorance is one thing. Let's demystify that word. It just means you don't know. In and of itself, this word isn't an insult. "Stupid" is different: "stupid" implies you can't think, even if you are given information. But ignorant just means you don't know. There's nothing wrong with ignorance, in itself. But if you pass judgments based on ignorance, and you insist on things based on ignorance, that's where the Mark Twain point comes in: the combination of ignorance and arrogance—arrogance that is grounded in ignorance. "I haven't bothered to really find out what you stand for, but I know it's no good." That kind of thing is all too common in the culture these days—and that needs to be called out for what it is. Do some work. These things matter.

If people are saying—either our Party or anybody else—that they believe they have an understanding of the fundamental problem humanity is up against and the solution to it; if we say that the problem is the capitalist-imperialist system, and the answer is communist revolution to bring into being an entirely different world without exploitation and oppression, without antagonistic conflicts among humanity or between humanity and the rest of nature; if people are saying that, that's obviously a very big deal. That's very serious. It matters a tremendous amount to the masses of humanity. If the people saying this are right, it's a very big deal; and if they're wrong, that is a very big deal. But your responsibility, if you're newly encountering this and you're ignorant about it—that is, you don't know because you have just encountered it—don't get sidetracked by what "everybody else" says about it. If you're serious—and this is serious—dig into it and learn about it. That's your responsibility.

That's the responsibility we took, back in the day, when we confronted the truly big things that were going on in the world, back in the 1960s. Not just the people who became communists, but many more people broadly, had that kind of serious orientation. There was, in the '60s movement, a different culture, a better culture, than what prevails today. Not that there weren't opportunists—people who were underhanded and unprincipled, and people who were out for personal gain and attacked other people in ways that were unprincipled and harmful to the general movement. There was some of that, of course. As long as there are class distinctions, as long as there are divisions among people that are oppressive, and as long as there is the corresponding ideology, there will be that shit in the mix. But, let me put it this way: There was a very powerful thing that ran counter to that in the '60s, where people understood that things mattered tremendously to the people of the world. The Vietnam War was going on. Your government, if you were an American, was waging this horrific war—massacring people, burning down villages, dropping napalm on little children, bombing dams and flooding whole areas, killing literally millions of people over the decade of that war. And you felt a sense of responsibility to resist that, and to do what you could to stop it, by joining together with others in massive political resistance to it. And so there was a different kind of culture among the very broad numbers of people who were deeply alienated from and determined to stand up against not just certain policies, and not just around certain particular, and more limited, grievances, but against the whole system, or the whole "power structure," as it was often called, and the whole "ethos," the whole prevailing philosophy and culture, that went along with that.

And there was a positive thing about communism in the mix. That raised people's sights also. Many people were drawn to that, instead of being bogged down in trying to figure out how we can make this system work in the interests of the people—which is impossible, and which, frankly, also ends up turning people against each other. If you are limited to the confines of this system, you will end up in conflict and competition with other individuals and with other sections of the people. You will be in competition in the attempt to get "your share," or to have the grievances of your particular identity group addressed, as opposed to that identity group, and so on. But, through the very broad and radical upsurge of the 1960s, people's sights were being lofted up. That's what we need to fight for now—and that is a fight.

What is going to be the culture? What is going to be the morality? How are people going to approach the question of what different individuals and groups represent and where they would take things? Are they gonna do it on the basis of the lowest kind of shit that people can get dragged down to? Or, are they gonna do it on the basis of what people actually stand for, what they actually say is the problem, and the solution? Let's see that in confrontation with other ideas about what the problem and the solution is—let's dig into that, and struggle through to figure out what's really right and what's really wrong.

The Culture, the Principles, the Standards We Need

Brooks: What do you think is the responsibility—particularly of revolutionary forces but, even more broadly, of anybody who's serious about or even questioning about whether the world could be different? Isn't there the responsibility of setting whole new standards and taking on this vicious culture of gossip and slander, setting the standards that you're talking about, where people are proceeding from what it's actually gonna take to change the world? How do you see people's responsibility in terms of that?

BA: Well, again, people have to fight to make the focus of things: what is the way we're gonna actually understand the world and change the world? If that's what we're setting out to do, if that's what we really wanna do, then we're gonna proceed from the need to get a real understanding of what it is that different people and groups actually are for and where it would actually lead. What is their line, and what are the implications and the consequences if that line is carried out and if people are mobilized around that line, as opposed to another one? And it is a fight to make that the focus.

There's also a fight to have the standard be: That other stuff—that "tabloidism," that low-life gossiping, slander and rumor-mongering, the personal backbiting, and the rest of that—we don't want that, that doesn't go here. We're about something serious here, we're about trying to make a new world, and that other stuff is part of the old world we need to get rid of. If you have a criticism of somebody, let's raise it up to the level of things that really matter.

And, along with that, let's raise it up to a level where people, beyond just the parties in conflict, can figure things out. If I say, "you punched me, and anyway you're an asshole": for people who were not there, who are not directly involved, how are they gonna sort that out? And is that really where their attention should be focused? You could go around and around and, first of all, you might never sort it out. Second of all, and even more fundamentally, it's not what people's attention should be focused on. If we have political differences, we're not gonna resolve them—and people are not gonna be able to know what's right and wrong—by descending down to that level.

It will also not get things onto the level where they need to be—but will actually drag them down and away from what needs to be focused on—if, when an individual or group forthrightly puts forwards its views and aims, instead of responding to the substance of this, it is "answered" by accusing them of arrogance for putting this forward, or trying to dismiss them as a "cult," or demanding: "Who are you to say that you know what the problem is and what should be done?" Instead, the focus needs to be on: What does this person or group stand for, and what does that other person or group stand for—and which one, if either of them, really is in correspondence with reality and with the interests of humanity, and which is not? Or, which ones go part way and then turn back, and which ones can actually break through and go where we need to go?

People need to be insisting that those are the questions that should be focused on. And there's a related and important point of method. In contrasting opposing views, in polemics, what should the approach be? For example, we wrote a long polemic against Alain Badiou's political philosophy, his so-called politics of emancipation—which is really just the politics of staying within the world as it is, confined within the bourgeois world. When I say "we wrote," I am referring to the polemic written in Demarcations, an online theoretical journal which puts forward the perspectives of our Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party.4 The people who wrote that polemic worked very hard on it. They read a lot of what Badiou has to say, and they applied the method of taking on the best arguments that Badiou himself makes about what he sees as the essence of things, as opposed to taking cheap shots. If you read that polemic, you'll see that it's not taking on all of his philosophy, but it's taking on his political philosophy and his political orientation, and it goes deeply into what he has to say about that, and shows why it's wrong—in a way that people who are serious can actually get inside of and get an understanding of—as opposed to taking cheap shots, chopping up things that people say, misrepresenting them in so doing, and so on. Rather than that, let's really examine what somebody has to say, in the best representation that they themselves can make of what they're arguing for, and then let's examine whether it's right or wrong, and whose interests it actually serves. Those are the standards that people should be striving for—and insisting upon.

Also, people should understand that not only does gossip and rumor-mongering, personal backbiting, "personal grievance narratives," and all the rest of that, do a lot of harm in terms of dragging people's attention down toward the gutter, and keeping people from focusing on the big questions that really make a difference in terms of whether the world's gonna stay the way it is, or whether it's gonna be radically changed and how; but it also greatly aids the repressive forces of the present system. It provides a lot of fuel for them, and it creates an atmosphere in which they can actually send in agents, and make use of this whole atmosphere to stir up a lot of shit between people.

There has been a lot of bitter experience with this. For example, there were political differences that developed within the Black Panther Party at a certain point, particularly at the end of the 1960s and into the early '70s. There was a division where people were grouped around Huey Newton on the one hand, and Eldridge Cleaver on the other. They had big differences. But, all too often, instead of those differences being struggled out on the high plane of what is this one saying about the problem that the revolution is facing, what's the other one saying—and which one is right, or are they both partly right and partly wrong, or are they both wrong?—instead of that being what people focused on, a lot of personal shit got thrown into the game, and personal attacks were made. This created an atmosphere in which the political police—the FBI, the repressive forces of the state—could thrive. They could get people at each other's throats, and sometimes they could even get people to go at each other physically, attack each other, while the state could say: "Look, it's not us, they're just fighting each other—that shows you these revolutionaries are no good, they're fighting each other."

So this kind of atmosphere not only leads away from a correct understanding of things and interferes with the ability to get to the essence of things, but it also demoralizes the masses of the people whose hopes have been raised that there can be a radical change for the better, while it creates an atmosphere in which the forces of the present order, which are not only oppressive but are literally murderous, can have more favorable conditions in which to operate. And I'm not engaging in any exaggeration or hyperbole—they're murderous on a massive scale. If you don't think so, look into it, and see what they've done throughout the world, as well as within the U.S. itself. There are literally millions upon millions of people that they've murdered or enslaved, or driven off their land and herded into concentration camps, in what's now the U.S. itself, as well as in every other part of the world.

This is what we're up against. And to feed an atmosphere where things are on a low, petty and nasty level—giving vent to personal grievances or personal narratives, rather than focusing on the big questions—this can only aid those truly murderous forces of the repressive state, whether people intend to do that or not. Some people may be consciously doing this, consciously seeking to aid the state—either they themselves are agents of the state, or they've become so thoroughly corrupted by their own narrow outlook, that they are willing to actually do things that they know will aid the state—or they're doing it unknowingly, but it has the same effect.

So there has to be a fight. People have to say: No, let's raise our sights. This is not the level things should be fought out on. This is not the level where criticism and struggle should be carried out. And, furthermore, this is not the way we're gonna sort out what's right and wrong. If things get down to the level of these personal narratives and backbiting, then those who are not directly involved are very unlikely to be able to arrive at a correct understanding of what happened. But you can sort out what different people stand for, what they say the problem is and what the solution is. That's where people's attention has to be focused. And there has to be an insistence: No, we are not gonna sink down into that gutter, and we're not gonna play into the hands of the enemy, of this ruling class that is literally a world class bunch of murderous gangsters—and, again, I say that without any exaggeration or hyperbole—we're not gonna play into their hands by keeping things on that level. And we are gonna struggle in the culture at large to tell people: Let's get out of that cesspool, and let's get up here into the realm of the future of humanity; and over that, yes, let's have lots of very sharp, but principled struggle—about the substance of what humanity's up against and the substance of what we need to do about it.

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2. Bob Avakian, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist: A Memoir by Bob Avakian (Insight Press, Chicago, 2005) [back]

3. Endnote by BA: For a thorough, lively and accessible exposition of the theory of evolution, exposure and refutation of "creationist" attacks on the theory and scientifically-established fact of evolution, discussion of decisive questions of outlook and method, and how all this relates to the struggle for the emancipation of the oppressed, and ultimately humanity as a whole, see Ardea Skybreak, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism—Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters (Insight Press, Chicago, 2006). [back]

4. Raymond Lotta, Nayi Duniya and K.J.A., "Alain Badiou's 'Politics of Emancipation': A Communism Locked within the Confines of the Bourgeois World," Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic, Issue Number 1, Summer-Fall 2009, demarcations-journal.org. The next (second) issue of Demarcations is scheduled to be published in Summer, 2012. [back]